Don’t love the ways of this world

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

1 John 2:15–17 (NASB95)

It is hard not to love this world, or this life.  Things are pretty convenient for many of us. We do not lack or worry about food, we have endless games, social media, and live streaming at our fingertips, and there is no end to leisure activities in which we can engage.  However, John is not teaching about that.  He is referring to the world as the broken down state of this earth.  The world here, in context, is darkness, sin, and systems opposite of the will of God.  First John is written to the believer, so for the believer to really love this world, one must compromise their love for the Father.

The world is defined of the cravings, and nature of sinful man, the lust and desire for more of what we want that satisfies the desires of the sinful man, and the pride of our accomplishments on this earth and what we can do, declaring we don’t need God, or His ways.  This is the product of the world, the worldly, and the lost.

May we not forget the last verse above, verse 17.  The world and all its sinful ways are going to pass.  They will be lost, extinguished, forgotten. They will pass when we do, they will pass when God brings all things here to an end, they will pass in His plan.  They are not eternal, but temporal, but the damage a commitment to the ways of this world can do on a soul, is eternal.  It’s all going to burn.

Nevertheless, the person who does God’s will never pass.  They will “live forever”.  Everything about the Father is eternal and everything about this world is temporal.   Are you a person that does the will of this world or are you about doing the will of God. IF you are doing the will of the world, the teaching of Christ, and the apostles are clear. You will be lost and pass away with the sinful, lustful, prideful ways of this selfish and fallen land, with its systems.  But if you choose to live for God, choose to do His will, you will never perish, but live eternally as your life will become eternal, dedicated and set apart for the Lord. You will never regret that kind of life.

Questions to Ponder

  • Is it your heart’s desire to do God’s will above all else?
  • Do you daily engage in the temporary and eternally destructive ways of this world, lust, cravings, pride, love of self, without remorse?
  • Would people and your family describe you as Godly or worldly?
  • How can we do the will of the Lord more in our daily lives?

Need Some Help?

Psalm 121 (NLT)   “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”

When life gets rough for a number of reasons, we often look for some help. A quick fix to ease our broken heart, upset emotions, or dilemma.  unfortunately we turn toward something that we know we like and may make us temporarily feel better.  Shopping, a Netflix binge, an addiction, or the such.

But true help, deep help comes from the Lord.  Through the tough times He is speaking, teaching, guiding.  We want relief, peace, and no suffering.  He wants us to listen, embrace the moment, and deepen our spirits.

Psalm 121 is on my mind this morning.  I read it over a few times. The words feed my soul.  As I read it slower, pray about it, reflect and listen to the Holy Spirit in silence and solitude, faintly, I begin to hear the voice of my Father as “deep calls to deep.”  I want to move on, get about the day, but I must, force myself to wait, to patient my spirit, and listen, for my help is coming. I can’t miss this.

Many times I have not benefited from hard times, because I can’t stop, listen, and patient my spirit to wait for the help that my Father’s voice brings me.


Real Repentance means Real Change

changeWe are in love with talking about change. But most do not change. The top three things Americans want to change in their life is their health, their finances, and family.  As a leader, who has spent my whole professional life working with people, may I tell you that I have observed little change happens,  if the changes are not deep in the heart and soul of a person.

To “Repent” means literally to have a change of mind that leads to a change in direction.  We know John the Baptist preached repentance, Jesus also did. The change being to turn away from sin and turn to the Lord, ultimately the Savior, Jesus Christ.

How many of us have committed to change, only to return to old patterns and behaviors in just a few days.  Change is hard.  So what has to change to bring deep change in our heart and mind that results in a directional change in life?  it is a change in our heart.

Christ came to bring change. He changed the religious landscape, changed deeply entrenched ideas about religion, but most importantly lives were changed, by the change only a Messiah could bring.  Matthew the tax collectors life was changed by Jesus, as was Zachaeus (remember the wee-little man?), Mary Magdalene, the guy by the pool if Siloam that could not walk, the lady caught in adultery, Peter, Paul, John, and the list goes on and on.  Jesus has brought deep change in the hearts and souls of millions of people, even after His death.

Jesus changed my life.  From a selfish, self-centered, 16-year-old that had little understanding about faith and the Bible, to who I am today.  It came through repentance (a change of mind and heart, that leads to a change in direction).  This change started as a teenager, but change and repentance has continued and will until I am with the Lord.  The Lord changed my heart, but forgiving me, giving me hope, and revealing Himself, and his unconditional life toward me.

What changes would you like in your life?  Real Repentance, brings real change, and the goodness of our God brings forgiveness, hope, love, and the power to change as only He can change a heart, and that is the source of change, and choices.

Choose Him today in all areas of life, and you will be choosing a life of wonderful change.

Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

An Open letter to Christians, who have stopped being part of their local church.

I am not a legalistic teacher or do I have religious tendencies.  I believe we are saved by faith, and growing in Christ is a joy and a privilege.  As I share my heart as a spiritual leader, understand that.

I am the leader of a Christian Church.  My calling, job, spiritual responsibility given to me by the Lord, is to help people find Christ as their Savior and  to help them grow and be more like Him and who God made them to be.

I know when people are not active in their local church, they don’t lose their salvation. I also believe one does not need to a church to be saved, but we need the church to grow, and to serve. Without the being part of the local body of Christ, we will not grow, and can become, ever so slowly, less committed to Christ, more cynical about the local church, and honesty, prey for the enemy who wants to blind our eyes (2 Corinthians 4.4).

After planting and leading Compelled Church for 22 years, I have seen hundreds of people come and go. Some come, and move, some come, and fall away from faith, some come, and just quit coming and participating because of a lot of reasons health, home life, gas money, and some just lazy and undisciplined.  We are creatures of habit, so bad habits are easier to incorporate into your life as good habits.

I am going to address directly believers who no longer worship God in their local church, or participate in the life of the body of Christ, yet still love God.

We know the church, is the body of Christ.  Ephesians tells us Jesus gave his life for the Church (4.25, 26).  Jesus said He is the head of the church, the church is built on Christ,  and the gates of Hell could not hold the church back (Matthew 16.17-20). Jesus gave gifts to the church so we could do our mission (Ephesians 4.11-13). The church is the hope of the world.

So why would many who love God, believe the Bible, surrender to Christ, not be part of the spiritual nucleus of God’s work on the earth?  Some have been hurt, some are bitter of unmet expectations of the church or the pastor (s).  Some know their life is in


sin, so they avoid the light of Jesus that would shine on their sin, and they would have to deal with it.  Some are out of habit. Some people truly believe the local, organized church is evil and they all want your money (obviously they don’t know Scripture well). Some neglect their spiritual life in many ways, and not be part of their church is just one of the neglects (they walk in knowledge but not obedience).  Some are truly homebound from health issues, and desperately want to be part but can’t. This open letter is not addressing people who are sick, in constant pain, and cannot get out of their house.  Please know that. I want to encourage those who can, and make a conscious choice to be absent from the life of the local church.

May I bullet point my thoughts and encouragement in a sound-bite fashion?

  • The local church is not perfect, as no human is perfect, and it is full of humans, and led by humans.  I am sure  you understand imperfection as you are also a human.
  • The church is not as strong as it can be, because you are not part.  Everyone adds something when they are part of the living body of Christ.  Your absence does not add, it subtracts. We are a weaker church because you are not part.  God has a role and part for you.  One will never know, if they are never part.
  • Many do not understand the role of the church or spiritual leadership so they quit coming as they feel they have been slighted and hurt, and their expectations of what the church should be were not met.
  • Parents who skip being part of a church raise children who may skip God altogether. Stats say this is most likely.  Our actions show our priorities. We can tell our kids how much we love God, but disobedience in this area makes our words fall to the ground like lead.  They will conclude we are not as serious about our faith as we talk.  Trust me. I was a youth pastor for 10 years, and pastored here for 22.  People tell me their stories, and tell me how their parents faith impacted them, or their lack of faith and action, also impacted them.
  • If you are not around, you can’t encourage anyone in the faith at your church or small group. You can’t serve. You can’t receive, you are not available. You can’t teach a child about Christ, pray for anyone, or give or receive love.
  • You don’t have to be part of a local church to be a Christian, but you do if you want to be a growing one.  Most believer’s who don’t make church part of their life, may also struggle in other areas that help them grow in Christ.
  • OK..going to be totally honest…….Watching online is not enough.  It cannot take the place of being part. Honestly, I’m pretty sick of hearing this, and it is highly discouraging to me. I feel like I have aided you to do exactly opposite of my life’s work and calling.   We don’t broadcast our live services so people can stay home in their pajama’s and skip being part.  I want to grow people in Christ, not make them lazy.  The online is for those away, sick, or caregivers with sick children or family, as well as outreach.  Our live services was never intended to help perfectly fine Christians stay home.  I have considered stopping it for this very reason, but I know truly needy people, and those stuck at home depend on this.  It hurts me to think that we are helping people pull away from the body and not grow close in it though.  I guess it is an unintended consequence of pure motives.  Please don’t use the live online services as a replacement for actually entering into relationship with God’s people at your local church.  Please.
  • You can’t grow, be challenged, and respond to God if you are not exposed to God, His Word, and His Spirit’s work.  Our time together, in the main gatherings, or small groups is a time of growing and encouraging each other forward. As well, as growing in the Word and words of God.  Without it, one never changes.
  • It seems that hose that pull away from church really begin to focus on themselves. many become absorbed with their own goals, and interests, not the will of Jesus all that much.
  • We can say God is the most important person in our life and our faith in Christ is priceless.  But we are known by our fruit (action). Choices show our true values.  To really value Christ is to value his body, the church. Talk is easier than actions.
  • Let me qualify that I am not just referencing attending the weekend gatherings, but being part of the life of Christ’s body.  Outreaches, serving, small groups, family involvement, prayer, relationship etc.
  • When we honor the Lord, the Lord honors us.  There is no greater joy than obeying the Lord, growing, serving, and seeing God change our life, marriage, and family, as we help others in Christ.  There is not job, hobby, amount of money, overtime, relationship, or sin that will give you the joy, peace, and contentment we experience when we honor the Lord.

If you know you have pulled away from the local church and are not part, can I encourage you to repent (change your heart and mind) and begin to be actively part?  If your faith has value to you, really make it a value that requires action.

Would you make your spiritual life and your family’s a top priority? Remember God never intended any of us to walk our faith journey alone.

Has the church or church leadership hurt you?  It is time to forgive, to trust again, and grow in depth and grace, even through deep suffering of hurt.

Would you help your local church be stronger by your active presence and participation?

If you are in sin, and avoid the Lord, you know what you  need to do. Stop sinning, repent and enjoy the grace, goodness, and forgiveness of Christ.

God has a great plan and will for your life.  He has gifts He has given you for His glory.  He wants to use the church, people of God, to help you be all  God intended you to be for his glory.

Some Scripture Encouragement

Hebrews 10:24–27 (NLT)Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Romans 14:6–7 (NLT)Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves.

1 Peter 5:1–2 (NLT) And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you:Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.

Hebrews 2:1 (NLT) So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.

Proverbs 29:17–18 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad. When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.

Pr verbs 27:17 (NLT)As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Grace and Peace

As I began reading Ephesians again today these two words stand out.  It was a common greeting and the Apostle Paul says it to the church in Ephesus in the first part of his letter to them(we call Ephesians in the Bible).

We all love grace.  Grace is the gift from others.  A gift to forgive. A gift to overlook an offense, the gift to be tolerant of a short-coming. Without grace relationships are doomed.  Without grace to each other, we have the potential to become cynical, spiteful, aggressively-opinionated, and even hateful.

The idea of peace, is what is experienced as we become givers or recipients of grace.  Have you ever been forgiven?  Have you ever let go of anger toward someone?  I bet you experienced some peace.  The population is seeking grace and peace. When grace is not lived, received, or experienced we have a propensity to seek peace in behaviors that can hurt and destroy us, and heap the opposite of peace, on those closest to us.  Counselors call this “self-medicating.”  This brings short bits of shallow peace that is really an illusion.  We need real peace, and it only comes through real grace.

The grace of God, our Father is this:  He sent Jesus to pay for our offenses, only because of His great love for us.  Grace spiritually is like all grace.  It is a gift.  God’s love is a gift, as well as God’s life, his free salvation, and His presence.  To have this gift you just receive by faith, saying yes to Jesus and the love of the Father, and no to everything in this world that leads us from that.

When we experience Grace from Heaven, we can then experience peace with God.  It is then part of us to grant much grace to others, thus perpetuating peace on earth, and good will to men.  Only in Christ, is true grace and peace able to be experienced and attained.

Grace and Peace to you and to others this day.

Divergent Living is Missional Living

The Definition for Divergent.  Divergent means  “tending to be different or develop in different directions.”  I believe God’s people, the followers of Jesus are called to be divergent with this world’s culture in many ways.  I don’t mean just dress, hair style, jeans, or cars we drive. I don’t believe we are called to all look and dress the same or appear to be some sort of cult-like thing.  I am referring to being different in our lives and hearts.

2 Corinthians 6:17–18 (NASB95)  “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you.   “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

Again, this does not mean the church becomes a commune, or we all move to a camp or compound to avoid being in this world. But we are taught here by the Apostle Paul to be seperate.  This means that we do not participate in evil or in things that are not pleasing to the Lord.  Obviously, as Jesus followers we do not want to participate in sin. There are many things in our culture that are perfectly acceptable and legal,  to this world, but it is not good for us, and does not reflect that we are followers of Christ.  He has called us and wants us to be different.  In what ways do we clash with this culture that we need to “separate ourselves?”. Let me give you some examples.

  • Greed and materialism -vs- giving, selflessness, and treasures in Heaven.
  • Selfishness and pursuit of pleasure  -vs- putting God and others first.
  • Sexual freedom and immoral sexual attitudes -vs- sexual purity, and a biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
  • Bitterness and unforgiveness  -vs- Loving, forgiveness, and grace.
  • Eternity mocked  -vs- Eternal world view

I think you understand what I am saying. As followers of Jesus, we must be different. Our lives, our world views, our values, our habits, our money, our relationships, and our destination.

Questions to ponder

  • are  you participating in compromising and siful things that culture has accepted?
  • Are you being everything Christ has called you to, forsaking the pleasures and pursuits of this world and “storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matt. 6.20)?
  • Is your life a testimony of Jesus or is your life not distinguished from anyone else who has no knowledge of Christ?

Be Divergent. Go to the next level in living. Pure living has amazing benefits, and we do not reap the pain of sin, selfishness, and compromise.  Our kids will benefit from our commitment to Christ. Our marriage will be blessed, and we will reflect to all that we know God.

Divergent Living is Missional Living

Let’s Face it, We Have Limits

I have observed so many people living their lives and  how decisions are made based on their mind, will, desires, and understandings. I wrestle with this constantly also.  Making decisions based on our own knowledge and wisdom sounds noble, but can be catastrophic. Why?  We all have boundaries on our what we understand.  We only have learned so much.  We have only experienced so much. We have limits.  Our will can also manipulate our mind into making decisions we think we are good, but our desires, deceive our mind, and the decisions are really about us, and can impact others with pain, grief, and sorrow.

When we trust the Lord’s ways, we enter in to a life of faith and dependence on the One who has no boundaries.  God knows the past, present, and the future.  The Lord also loves us and has a will for our life, if we will but trust Him daily.  He knows what our heart and character need, to shore up our integrity, goodness, and holiness.  He isn’t tricked by our fancy prayers, deals, or justifications.

This verse in Proverbs 3 says it all:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5,6

We are encouraged to Trust in the Lord. His ways, his word, his will.  We are cautioned  about leaning on our own understanding.  Our intellect, our will, and our experiences, can threaten God ways in our lives we sweep Him aside, and trust in our own limited self.

Life is about so many decisions. Maybe today you have some heavy ones weighing on your mind and heart.  Can I encourage you to take the wisdom of Proverbs and apply them to your situation?  I mean, who wants a crooked life, and a rough path?  Surrender your will, and desires, and trust the one who know all, and loves you completely.

I have never heard anyone confess they regret trusting God.  I have heard regrets of the opposite countless times.  Live without regrets, and trust the Lord. He will direct your paths.