I Believed I Could Fly

When I was a kid I loved to climb trees. I would spend hours hanging out up in the limbs as high as I could go. Heights have never bothered me. 

I remember one period during my youth when I was convinced that if I believed something strongly enough I could make that idea a reality. My faith would create reality. I had no real example for this, but I had watched enough television and movies to know this must be the case.  

I loved being up high. I still do. But when I was younger, the trees weren’t high enough. I wanted to be like a bird and fly. I convinced myself that if I believed hard enough I could jump out of the tree and flap my arms and soar like a bird. 

So one day I spent time up in the tree meditating upon the truth that I could fly. I remembered the cartoons I had watched and how the characters would flap their arms to generate lift. I convinced myself that this would work, and I jumped. 

I think I may have postponed my inevitable landing by maybe a millisecond. But I didn’t fly. 

Faith doesn’t create reality as much as it latches onto an already proven reality that simply can’t be seen yet. 

Saul was a zealot for his religion. He was a Jew of Jews and went around persecuting anyone who claimed that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. He put people in prison and even to death because he was convinced of his right knowledge and their false allegiance. 

Was he sincere? Yes. Was he convinced he was doing he right thing? Yes. Was what he was doing in contrast to the plan of God for all mankind? Yes!

Who could’ve convinced him?  As we see in Acts, it took an encounter with Jesus to convince him of the error of his ways. 

If sincere faith was more important than the truth underlying that faith then Saul would’ve been commended for his behavior. If zeal for God was all that was needed for salvation regardless of the teachings of Jesus and discipleship in Him then Saul should have been in. But he wasn’t. 

Many people today are convinced that their sincerity will get them into heaven, but their lifestyle doesn’t look like Jesus’ plan for them. Many people feel that their religion is right because it claims Jehovah as God and refers to Jesus, but their religion doesn’t look like the church we read of in the New Testament. 

People for many years have convinced themselves or listened to other charismatic messengers who convinced them that they are following the right way, but they haven’t looked to the source of righteousness, Jesus, to see if their lifestyle truly reflects Jesus’ teachings. 

If the church tells you that some man’s word supersedes the words of Jesus then that is not a Christian church. If the church tells you that Jesus isn’t God even though Jesus himself claimed to be the God who was at the burning bush with Moses, then that is not a Christian church. To follow the teachings and practices of a man above those of Christ is idolatry, and God is a jealous God. 

It is not politically correct for me to say so, but Catholicism teaches that the church can dictate scripture, and where their mandates differ from the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, then the bible takes second place to the church (This is taught in catechism). Mormonism teaches that the Doctrines and Covenants is to be trusted above the Bible even though their teachings stand in stark contrast to the teachings of Jesus. The Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even believe in the deity of Jesus though Jesus, Thomas and the rest of the New Testament writers testified to this fact. When men stand above other men to dictate a religion that doesn’t look like what Jesus came to establish then this is not from God. God is about equality among genders, races and social classes – especially in the church – not hierarchy and power and control. 

No matter how much we may “feel” something is right, we cannot hold to that understanding if it is in contrast to the teachings of the Son of God. Trying to find salvation in these religions apart from the message of Jesus is like trying to convince yourself you can fly. Trying to find salvation outside of Christ based on some feeling you have about God is the same as these false religions. 

If you’ve been in one of these religions or have been considering them, then please heed this warning and go to the Jesus of the bible to find your salvation and the way you should live. If you have been living a “good life” to try to please God yet don’t know what God says in his word concerning you, then it is time to learn. I would love to talk with you more about following Jesus apart from the teachings of man. I don’t want to give you my teachings. I want to help you see His teachings for what they are, and they’re not difficult to understand. 

Faith is based on the truth of Jesus, the Word of God. It isn’t based on some gut feeling or emotional experience. Emotions come and go, but Jesus has been consistent for thousands of years. 


Destination Determines the Journey


I’ve never been much for organized sports. (Some of you may want to stop reading after that statement, but please hear me out.) I see the value in all kinds of sports, but my interests have alway been in the outdoor sports like hunting, fishing, hiking, climbing, mountaineering and the like. This is one of the reasons I love living in Northwest New Mexico – there is a myriad of outdoor opportunities all around waiting to be experienced.

So I hike as often as I can. Sometimes I hike to summit a mountain. Sometimes I hike to see a grand view or special place. Sometimes I hike to get to the place where I can find my rock hounding goals. Each time I hike there is a goal in mind. I must overlook the discomfort in order to reach the goal. I must be willing to carry the necessary equipment to achieve success and keep from harm. I must be willing to take step after step no matter how tired I get for the sake of success in the end. It is in the journey to the destination that I grow stronger. Growth is rarely found at the destination.

It is like this in our spiritual life as well. We are given certain goals in our life as followers of Jesus. One of these goals is to be transformed into the likeness of the Son, Jesus himself. It is the goal to live a righteous life expressed in love to one another. 

Back to hiking…

What if I gave in to my discomfort? What if I wasn’t willing to take the necessary supplies? What if I constantly lowered that goals I have set? Would I grow? No!

But this is what the church has done over the centuries. 

In Christianity today there is a lack of desire for the word of God (we aren’t willing to carry the right supplies). There is a justification for our continuation to sin using grace as a license more than as a gift (we have lowered the goal) which gives us an excuse for our lack of righteousness. We choose personal pleasure (the lake, sleeping in, shopping, hobbies, etc.) over spiritual disciplines like gathering with the beloved and celebrating communion and many other such disciplines. 

When you read the New Testament you see a high bar of expectation for the lifestyles of those who claim to be followers of Christ. When you look at churches today you see people with the moniker “Christian” but their lifestyles don’t look anything like the church of the bible. 

Why is this so? 

As a minister, I see the need for the church to come together in community. We have gathered for study for so long that we have forgotten that the study was supposed to teach us how to live in community better. We choose to come together to open our bibles and look at the preacher while ignoring the spiritual needs of the person sitting next to us. 

There was a lifestyle of accountability in the New a testament as the church did life together, coming together in the larger gathering as often as they could – eager to do so. This accountability helped them stave off the temptations to fall back into a lifestyle that looked just like the world. They were encouraged to save one another from falling back into sin(Jude 22-23). They were warned that a person could lose his or her salvation by continuation in sin (Hebrews 6 and 10). Their standard of lifestyle was that of Jesus, and they were warned not to use grace as a crutch excuse to continue to sin (Romans 6).What if our churches went back to the desire for righteousness we find in the New Testament writers? We would lose some people who want Jesus while continuing their lifestyle of sin. But the church would become stronger as lives changed for the better, and conversions would actually be conversions rather than just professions of faith. If the church looked more like Jesus she would love everyone – even her antagonists. If the church looked more like Jesus every member would be an evangelist. If the church looked more like Jesus there would be more joy and celebration of the forgiveness and grace that came through his sacrifice. If the church looked more like Jesus it would be a place where sins were forgiven, but change would be cultivated so that sin could be exterminated. 

This is not a call to legalism. Legalism kills. In our rejection of legalism, however, we have reacted to the point of selling cheap grace in the name of Jesus. James, the brother of Jesus, makes it clear that your faith should be showing itself in your life by producing fruit. So let’s come back to the middle – celebrating grace while expecting a higher standard of righteousness. 

Jesus said “you cannot serve two masters.” Let’s remember this as we choose between our sin and the call of Jesus. 


The Church Needs You

Recently, a friend told me he has trouble with the concept of giving in the traditional sense to the church because it feels like he’s just contributing to a black hole. There’s no understanding of where the money is going or what it’s used for other than paying the preacher and keeping the lights on.

I really understand the sentiment.  I’ve heard this from more than one person in my time as a minister. But is it right? Should our desire to give be controlled by our understanding of the inner workings of the ministry?

The generation that I am a part of doesn’t understand generosity in the same way that generations before do.

Prior generations gave, and still give, out of a sense of ownership and belonging to the movement or organization.  It gives out of a sense of duty and obedience. More recent generations give because of compassion and a desire to help the individual or cause. The difference seems to be that the former generations still give out of a desire to help and compassion without neglecting to maintain their gift to the broader organization.

When someone tells me that they don’t feel comfortable giving because of this or that reason I get this awkward sense inside – like something is missing in their statement. This morning I figured out why this statement doesn’t set well with me.

First, giving isn’t for me. It isn’t so that I can feel better about myself. It isn’t so that I can be comfortable.  Giving is a discipline of sacrifice to help me learn that life is about others.  It is a discipline that teaches me trust of God and not of my finances. Giving is a way of participating in the kingdom of which we are supposed to be seeking first.

When I understand giving in this way I can be more free to give. I can see what I need to learn about the discipline of giving. If I am living the selfless life Jesus prescribes, then there won’t be excuses of “I don’t feel comfortable”. There won’t be loopholes of “I can’t afford it”. Remember the examples used in the New Testament about giving: the widow (Mark 12 and Luke 21) and the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8) and the church at the beginning (Acts 2:44-47).

Second, giving isn’t done out of understanding but out of faith. To say you don’t give because you don’t know where the money is being used is not faith in the leadership God has placed in the church you attend. In the same line of thought, it follows that it is not trust in God to not trust in your leaders. Yes, sometimes people who are in leadership prove themselves untrustworthy.  That is why the scripture calls for a plurality of leadership.

If a leadership squanders the money you have given to the Lord, will you fail to receive your reward for your generous heart?

In most cases, however, the church leadership diligently seeks to use the generous donations of he congregation wisely. But even so, many people refrain from giving and cripple the work of the local congregation.

You are called to be generous with your finances for the work of God in His Kingdom. When God called Abraham he didn’t give him an itenerary. When the first century church gave they didn’t need a financial breakdown or tax deductible receipt. When you give, you are giving out of gratitude to God.

So, consider the work at your local congregation. What would happen if you and your friends gave 10%? What if you gave more? If you’re in a church like the one where I serve, the run down building could be fixed or expanded. More staff could be supported as missionaries to the local demographic. More local ministries could be funded to help the hurting. More evangelism could be done through more and varied means. More foreign missions could be supported. The church could grow in new and exciting ways!

So give to God and his church. Give to the homeless man on the corner. Give to the missionary. Do each of these things simultaneously, but don’t neglect the church. She needs the generosity of her members to be healthy.


No Longer I

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Selfishness isn’t working.

We live in a country where there is this ideal called “The American Dream.” What is it?  It is the idea that if we work hard and do the right things we can amass great hordes of wealth and power and prestige – the pursuit of life, liberty and property (or happiness depending on which version of this phrase you prefer). The goal of life according to the American dream is for me to be more, well, me! It’s all about me.

From the time we are infants our world has shown us that it is all about us.  Many people, even those considered “poor” fill their children’s rooms with toys and stuff to show them they are important.  We congratulate them for successes they achieve.  We encourage them in sports to see who is harder, faster, stronger, better.

All this does is convince them that the world should cater to them.  It breeds selfishness.

But how is that working for us?  We have a generation of kids who are known as the “entitled generation.” We have marriages that are failing.  We can’t hold a job. We retreat to social media to make our lives look better than they are.

Selfishness isn’t working.

Jesus came asking us to do the opposite of the American dream.  He came asking us to seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness.  He came asking us to die to self.  He came asking us to consider the person next to us as greater that we.

But we don’t do that very well.  Perhaps we don’t understand the value of what Jesus is offering.  He is offering us identity as children of the Father – the Most High God.

We are trying to live good Christian lives while also pursuing the trappings of this world.  We want stuff and power and wealth and prestige and grace and forgiveness.  This is contradictory in nature.

When you pursue the presence of the Father in you – when you see yourself and those around you as children of the King, then you don’t matter as much.  The only one that truly matters is Abba, Father.

When you became a Christian you “died to self”.  You made Jesus the “Lord of your life”. How can you do either of these things when YOU still sit on the throne in your heart? You can’t. Selfishness isn’t working.

Yet, when you surrender and abandon self, Jesus sends his Spirit to live in you and see through you and work through you.  You cease to be you and become an embodiment of Jesus, the selfless one.  You begin to see others with His eyes of compassion.  You begin to treat others with His way of servitude.  You have died to self, so the arguments don’t matter anymore, and humility grows within you.  You begin to look like Jesus.  It is no longer you who lives, but it is Christ who lives in you (Galatians 2:20).

If you want to truly find peace, success, joy, greatness in this life you must die to self and passionately pursue the presence of God in you.  Then you will see that blessing others is so much more fulfilling than seeking self.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” -Jesus (Matthew 5:3)


Asleep in the Boat

Jesus sleepingIt was a dark and stormy night…

Sounds like Snoopy is writing again, eh?

Seriously, the Apostles are in the boat and the wind and waves have picked up because of the storm.  Where is Jesus? Asleep in the bottom of the boat.  HOW CAN HE SLEEP DURING THIS STORM?!

There is much fear on the boat tonight.  They can’t make any headway, and the boat is in danger of capsizing. It seems perfectly logical to be afraid during such a storm in quite a small boat.

Once, when I was a boy, I was fishing on Bull Shoals Lake in North Arkansas with my grandparents.  All of a sudden a huge storm came over the lake.  Waves were crashing over the sides of the bass boat.  Rain was coming down in sheets stinging our faces.  The closest land was an island with rocks on the shoreline – no sand.  We pulled close to shore, and Grandpa put us on the bank while we rode the storm out.  We could see the boat dock but couldn’t make it there because of the ferocity of the storm on the water.

I remember being scared, but only a little, because I trusted my Grandpa.

Jesus is still sleeping.  How can he have such peace during this storm?

The disciples wake Jesus with a jolt.  “Don’t you care if we drown?” They were in the boat with the Creator of the universe, but they didn’t understand. The didn’t yet know the true identity of the One who could sleep during a fierce storm.

Jesus got up and said, “Peace. Be still.”

That’s what I want in me – peace.  Don’t you?

The apostles were afraid because all they could see was the power of the storm they were in at the moment.  They had more trust in the storm than in the One sleeping in the bottom of the boat.  It shocked them that Jesus was able to take charge of the storm the way He did.  Then Jesus scolded them. “Oh you of little faith.  Why are you so afraid?”

Why are you so afraid?

We are afraid because in the storms of life, even though we claim allegiance to the Father, we still struggle for control and therefore put our trust more in the storms than in the One who is bigger than the storm. We put more trust in the chaos than the Creator.  We put more faith in what we see than our Father who loves us and has promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

When we find our identity as children of God, of the Father, of Abba (daddy), then what can stir our peace?

Think of the baby sleeping in his or her father’s arms.  Isn’t that peace?

Jesus said that unless we become like little children we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are little children when we put our trust in our Father instead of the storm.  He’s bigger than any storm you can experience.  He may not take you out of the storm, but He promises to bring you peace and comfort through it as you trust in Him and listen to the Spirit living within you.

The more I surrender my selfishness to a life filled with the presence of the Father the more I find peace.  If you want that peace, you can find it too.  If you want to discuss this more feel free to let me know.  I’m always interested in helping others along this path we walk together.  Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near…and life in the Kingdom is so much more fulfilling.


Have You Ever Stepped on a Bindii?

My front yard doesn’t have any grass.  Well, there’s no grass that we have planted.  It is mostly dirt, and I like it that way because it is pretty maintenance free.  In my front yard I have planted some raised beds with fruits and vegetables.  Our family also has some flowers and shrubs and vines. It’s not much, but watering everything in this desert is time spent relaxing each day.

As I water, though, other things tend to sprout in our yard.  We get some grasses and dandelions.  We get some tumbleweeds.  We get some bindii.

Maybe you’ve never heard of bindii.  It’s also know by several other names: bullhead, cat’s head, devil’s eyelashes, devil’s thorn, devil’s weed, and goathead.

People that complain about stepping on legos have never stepped on a goathead.  These plants, once they have formed the thorny seeds, can poke through a flip-flop.  When you step on one barefoot you have to manually remove it from your foot.  They are excruciatingly painful.

goathead lego

The problem with goatheads is that they pop up randomly throughout the summer – all over the place – and they spread rapidly.  When the plants first appear they seem harmless enough, but by the time they have begun to produce pretty yellow flowers they are already thorny.

I have to admit I’m pretty lax in pulling weeds.  Every day I water the plants and see the goatheads.  Every day I think about how I need to pull them when I’m done.  I think about how easy it is to pull those new plants before they get painful and produce the devilish seeds, but i don’t.

This is what is happening in our churches. It is what is happening in Christianity all across our nation.  We have weeds of sin that sprout up in our lives and in the lives of those we love who share our faith in Jesus, but because of grace we sit back and ignore the consequences of leaving those sins not dealt with.

We are reaping the consequences now as we watch our nation of churches become more and more identical to the world around us.  We revel in our tolerance though we claim outrage when the world continues to spiral toward condemnation.

I believe in grace.  It is the single thing that I have been given that causes me joy beyond joy, but I understand that grace is not meant to be cheapened by my lackadaisical approach to sin in my life or in the lives of those around me.

Paul says, in Romans 6, that sinning because you expect grace is ridiculous and contrary to the nature of the commitment you made when you were baptized into Christ.  “We died to sin.  How can we live in it any longer?”

I am watching as our nation makes decisions that go against the foundation upon which it was established.  I truly am not surprised that a bunch of humanists would make those kinds of decisions.  What I am surprised at is how many faith-professing Christians are endorsing these decisions.  I am surprised at the boldness of Christians to live with blatant sins seemingly without conscience on those matters.  I am surprised that the church is not taking a stronger stand against the invasion of the world into the church.  I am surprised that public repentance is nearly non-existent in most churches.

There is a place and time to be culturally relevant, but a Christian and a church must not compromise morality (emulating Jesus) in order to do so.  We are not even able to condone the lifestyles of those outside the church that contradict the plan and natural order set up by God Most High (Romans 1:32).

The church is supposed to be a place where people can come from every lifestyle and find God, but it is not supposed to be a place that excuses a continuation of sinful behavior in the name of grace.  If you want life change through forgiveness come to Jesus.  If you want your conscience eased while you continue in your sinful ways look elsewhere.

We have watched as weeds of sinfulness have crept into our churches, and we have sat idly by as those weeds became thorns and seeded new growth.  It’s time to call it what it is: sin.  It is time for the church to repent.  It is time to come back to an understanding of the severity of sin and run from it like Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife.   It is time to get real with one another in love as we help each other be rid of the sins that imprison us.

It is time for the church to stop focusing on the nation coming back to its heritage and come back to our own heritage of emulating the One who lived a sinless life.  We will not achieve sinless perfection in this life, but that should not cause us to stop trying and make excuses for what we do.  Grace is not given where sin is not repented of (Hebrews 10:26).

Wake up church. Quit stepping on the bindii. Repent, so that God can pull the weeds from your life and you can walk fresh in Him again. Forgiveness is available, and grace is given, but repentance is required.


A Biblical Memorial Day

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This coming Monday is Memorial Day, a day in which we, as a nation, stop to remember those who have given their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have in this country. It is an honorable day whether or not you believe in what the government is fighting for.

Did you know that the Bible actually recommends that every day be memorial day in our lives as Christians? Look at Hebrews 11. This chapter is full of names of people and examples of how they lived and died to bring about examples of righteous living and spiritual success. Towards the end of the chapter, it even talks of those who have died as examples to us that we should learn from their dedication to the gospel of Christ.

The greatest memorial is mentioned in chapter 12, however, as the writer of Hebrews talks about Jesus. It is because Jesus died that we have freedom. Jesus serves as a reminder that we have not yet resisted temptation or persecution to the point of shedding our blood for the gospel.

I cannot help but think on this week about Christ, though. He lived his life perfectly and was killed anyway. He died a cruel and unjust death after an illegal trial. Then he rose from the dead on the third day. All of this, he says, is to bring us forgiveness and real life here and in heaven beyond. But most of all, it says he did this to set us free.

Galatians 3:22 declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin. If you’ve sinned (and you have) then you are in bondage to the consequences and continuation of a life in bondage where the warden is the evil one. Romans 6:23 says that once you sinned, you deserved death. Such a life is no life at all.

But then, the passage in Romans says that through Jesus, we can have eternal life. This picture is not a life in bondage, but a life of joy and freedom in Christ. So many people think that Christianity is a religion that restricts its adherents from being able to have fun and live life to the fullest. On the contrary, Jesus said that he had come so that we might have life to the fullest..abundant life. In fact, in Galatians 5:1, we are encouraged with these words:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

When I understand the extent to which God sacrificed his love and very self for me, then I want to give my life in return to him. I do not live in bondage in Christ, I am free. There are actually only two laws in Christianity: Love God with everything you are and have, and love your neighbor as yourself. By the way, that is WAY fewer laws than we have here in the US.

If you truly want to have a life of freedom, it should be found in Christ as you see what true freedom really is.

So remember all the soldiers who have died…we all know so many personally and honor their lives and deaths this week. But don’t forget the One who gave you the truest freedom: Christ. And remember that you truly are free to live life to the fullest in Him.

If you don’t have that life of freedom from sin yet, then please contact me. I would love to tell you more about how you can be rid of the sin that holds you captive and separated from God.


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