Pain of Discipline

I know it’s been like 6 months since I have posted anything, and for that I am sorry.  For the past couple of days my heart has been heavy and I felt like I needed to spell some of this stuff out this morning, so here it goes!  Fair warning, this is gonna be a little weird to some folks…

I have a good friend who is not acting like the man of God that I know him to be.  To put things directly, he is simply not well right now and is not acting like himself in any sense at all.  I feel very privileged to have a big brother who is an amazing man of God, so I talked to him yesterday about what was going on with my buddy.  The only reason I reached out to my brother is because I know he has experience with spiritual warfare, and I simply wanted him to start praying for my friend.  Well last night I got a call from my brother who said that as soon as he began praying, the Holy Spirit opened him up and told him that we need to go get my friend.  Needless to say, that scared the crap out of me, which is a pretty good sign that God’s pushing me that way!

Recently, I have had Hebrews 11 and 12 on my heart a lot after listening to a sermon from Matt Chandler.  There are so many parts of this passage that that are applicable to this story.

33who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises,(A) stopped the mouths of lions, 34(B) quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness,(C) became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35(D) Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even(E) chains and imprisonment. 37(F) They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a](G) they were killed with the sword.(H) They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38of whom the world was not worthy—(I) wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39And all these,(J) though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40since God had provided something better for us,(K) that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Hebrews 12

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and(L) sin which clings so closely, and(M) let us run(N) with endurance the race that is(O) set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,(P) who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising(Q) the shame, and(R) is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary

3(S) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or(T) fainthearted. 4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

(U) “My son,(V) do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6For(W) the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7It is for discipline that you have to endure.(X) God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8If you are left without discipline,(Y) in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to(Z) the Father of spirits(AA) and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good,(AB) that we may share his holiness. 11(AC) For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields(AD) the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore(AE) lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and(AF) make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint(AG) but rather be healed.

  • 11:33-40 – God allowed men and women by faith to receive amazing gifts, but others received death.  But both were true to God throughout their entire lives.
  • 12:1 – When we do not throw aside our sin, it entangles us and allows Satan to gain a stronghold over us.  Also, when we feel that weight or that hindrance, it is God pulling us toward Him.  Therefore, when we fight that hindrance, we are fighting God.
  • 12:2-4 – Jesus is perfection!  He fought sin to the point of death on the cross for the joy that we would be saved.  We do not fight sin to the point of bloodshed, we fight until it gets too hard, then we give in.
  • 12:5-7 – God disciplines us as a loving father would discipline his children.
  • 12:8-10 – Without discipline, we are separating ourselves from God.  There is no life with God that is without discipline.  This also implies that we will always be tempted by sin, and it will always require discipline to turn from it.
  • 12:11 – Discipline is never painless, in fact it is often full of pain.  But out of discipline comes growth, which can also feed others.
  • 12:12-13 – Discipline leads to healing!  To be disciplined by the Lord is to be healed by the Lord, and nothing is out of his reach!

Test of Time

clockI was reading through the fifth chapter of Acts this morning and came across something that really stood out to me toward the end of the chapter.  Remember that Acts is basically the story of the early church and the “acts” of the apostles after the death of Christ.  The Sanhedrin (the group of political officials who voted to kill Jesus) are fighting the Apostles because they are basically telling everyone that the Sanhedrin killed the Son of God, which was true, but who wants that on their conscience?…  The Sanhedrin has jailed them multiple times and they keep getting out, most recently by an angel who opened the door for them!

So, in verses 35-39, a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood before the group as they were plotting on how to get rid of the Apostles.  He said the following:

“Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”

Good call buddy!  How’d that one work out for you?  The thing that amazes me is that it is the truth!  If the Apostles were following someone that was not of God, they would have dwindled and definitely would not have been willing to be killed for Him.  Peter was crucified upside down…I mean who would be willing to die that painfully for something that wasn’t true?

So, nearly 2000 years ago, good ole Gamaliel challenged the officials around him to just wait out the Apostles and to see if it would just pass.  I wonder how people are still waiting and wondering if this Jesus guy is legit…


Everything Is Soooo Difficult…

I was reading through the second chapter of Acts this morning and hit a couple of things that really stood out to me.  The book of Acts is written by Luke and is actually considered to be a continuation of his first book (the Gospel) kind of like a sequel, sometimes called Luke-Acts.  Acts documents the beginning of what we now know as the Christian church.

  • Acts 2:1-13 – In verses 1 through 12, we see that the Holy Spirit has filled the people with His power.  It says that the people were speaking in languages different from their own.  This is not to be confused with the prayer language of tongues that we read about in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13, as each persons’ speech was understood by the people around them.  However, the crowd thought they were all drunk because they did not understand this power of the Spirit.  How often do we dismiss someone because they may act in a way we don’t understand?…even in church?
  • Acts 2:22-41 – Verses 22 through 36 put Jesus in a context that the Jews would have understood.  Jews knew the facts about David and had no question that David was a servant of God.  When Luke puts Jesus in the context of David and shows the Jews that Jesus is much greater than David and was the Lord that spoke to his Lord (verse 34), it’s like a light bulb goes off!  Verse 37 tells us, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart.”  3,000 people then gave their lives to Christ and joined the church, AT ONE TIME! I don’t know about you, but I would love to see 3,000 folks join my church!
  • Acts 2:42-47 – After joining the church, verses 42 through 47 tell us about how they acted toward each other.  They were “devoted to the Apostles’ teaching, breaking bread, and prayer.”  They were filled with awe and many miracles were performed.  Verse 44 is the kicker for me…”All the believers were together and had everything in common.”  They sold everything they had and continued meeting together every day, breaking bread in their homes, praising God, and “enjoying the favor of all the people.”

So…that is the basic story of how the church began, and I can see some pretty massive gaps in where we are now…  I believe that we try so hard to make our lives into something that we desire that we manage to make the most simple things difficult.  These early Christians were full of joy from the Lord and didn’t analyze every single thing.  They just enjoyed the Lord and enjoyed it with each other.  So, let’s make an honest effort to quit making everything so difficult, and just enjoy the Lord!


You Got Slimed!

Who here remembers the great Nickelodeon show “You Can’t Do That on Television”?  The high point of that show was always folks getting that disgusting looking slime poured all over their heads.  I could only imagine how nasty that stuff probably smells and feels.

I saw a verse this morning when I was flipping through my bible that made me think about that nasty slime.  Obadiah was a prophet back in they day that had a vision that takes up all of about 1 full page in my bible.  But wow does that 1 page have some pretty powerful stuff in it!

slimedObadiah 1:15 says this: “The day of the Lord is near for all nations.  As you have done, it will be done to you…”  Now that part is not so bad, mainly because we have all heard that before and know that in general when we treat folks nicely, we get niceness in return.  The verse then says, “…your deeds will return upon your head.”  That’s right…ON YOUR HEAD!

So, let’s all take a moment to reflect on all those not-so-lovely things we’ve done…  The guy we cut off in traffic and the person we spoke rudely to, all of that comes back and smacks us in the face!  That’s an eye opener for me and changes the way I look at doing something that I will regret later.  This doesn’t make it so easy to dismiss or excuse being an idiot or jerk anymore….ouch!


What a Dirty Man

pitinoFor those of you who don’t pay too much attention to sports, Rick Pitino is the head coach of the University of Louisville Cardinals, and is a pretty darn good coach.  Last week, a news story broke that Pitino, who is married and has five kids, got another woman pregnant and paid for her to have an abortion.  Now adultery is a disgusting sin, and abortion is murder, but this story gets worse.  Pitino and the woman had sex at a restaurant, and by the way, this woman is now married to the Louisville Equipment Manager.

I’ve always thought that Pitino had a little bit of a dirty feel to him and wouldn’t be surprised if he had connections to the mob.  After all, he is a true Italian-American, born and raised in New York.  And on top of that, who wears a white suit?…I mean really!  And for the final straw, when he held a news conference to discuss this whole mess, he actually commented that “I will remain as head coach at Louisville.”  Really dude?…cause that is the most important thing in your life right now.

As much as that bothers and disgusts me, maybe I shouldn’t be quite so judgmental.  In my summer courses, I’ve been taking Old Testament Theology and I recently read through Hosea.   Hosea had a rough go, but this guy knew his stuff.  In the first chapter, the Lord tells Hosea to go take an “adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness.”  So Hosea goes and marries Gomer, who the bible actually calls a whore.  This woman is named Gomer (not so hot) and she is a prostitute who continues to commit adultery but Hosea loves her anyway.

I could only imagine how hard it would be to love someone that continually betrayed and dishonored you and your covenant of marriage.  The Lord tells Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress” (Hosea 3:1a).  In the word “though,” The Lord acknowledges that it would be hard for us to love someone like that.  He then goes on, “Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods…” (Hosea 3:1b).

Don’t be too quick to justify that you are not an “Israelite,” cause we are!  We are God’s chosen people today and He just compared us to an adulterer!  When we sacrifice time, money, energy with God for other things, we are committing adultery against Him.  He desires to the be the center of our lives, but we allow other things to take over.  So, next time you see some sleezy looking politician, actor, or athlete admit to adultery, remember that to God, we are all adulterers…

BUT….He still loves us and grants us grace from our sins!  For me, that is beyond my understanding!


Baby Got Back

Hi…Cris here.  I mentor a 15-year-old young lady.   She’s your typical teenager…full of attitude and ready to roll her eyes at your attempts to be cool.  In our time together, I have learned that when she does say something, it’s gonna be good and I better listen! As we were walking to the car after a meeting over a Hardee’s Little Thickburger and Fries, she said to me “You don’t need to wear those pants again…they make your butt look big.” I immediately started laughing but quickly looked at my rear in the Hardee’s window reflection…she was right. It was one of those statements that you didn’t want to hear but was thankful someone had the guts to tell you….kind of like when you have a piece of green-something stuck in your teeth at a party and no one tells you.  You only thought what you were saying was funny…

…Anyway…back to my point.   God is kind of like my mentee.  He is the truth and what He says is the truth.  He also shares the truth with us because He loves us…which I would like to think my mentee was saying her comment out of love.  The questions is…do we want to hear it?  Or, do we want to ignore the truth and continue wearing pants that don’t flatter our rear because we can.  Let’s open our ears to hear His truth…even though it may not be want you want to hear, it’s truth worth listening to because He loves you.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6


Ignore-ance

RomansI was reading through Romans 1 this morning and came across the last paragraph of the chapter.  In the second half of the chapter, Paul talks about those people who know about God’s love and have even experienced it, but instead choose wickedness: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21)

They began to worship man-made things rather than God’s glory and Paul says they turned themselves “over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.” (Romans 1:24)

In the final paragraph, Paul says that they did not feel it was “worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God,” so they filled themselves with wickedness, greed, evil, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice.  They became gossips and slanderers, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they disobey their parents and are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Paul concludes, saying, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32)

It is amazing to me how we still do the same things today.  When we choose to sin, we are choosing to ignore the the knowledge of God.  We choose to seek after worldly things as though they will give us happiness, taking our attention away from the Lord.  It becomes easy to get caught up in the hustle of our world, and if we are not careful, we will turn our back on the Lord and take His knowledge for granted.  Our world tells us that all of those sinful desires are good, but His knowledge tells us otherwise.  The only way to know His knowledge is to make Him a priority and to seek after Him daily.  When we ignore His knowledge, we are just being plain ignorant, and that is our fault alone.