Tag Archives: Life Lessons

The Danger of Walking on the Wild Side

I’ve recently watched a few Christian friends, and by watching I don’t mean “watching” in the sense of waiting for them to fall or judging their walk. I watch because they’re drawing attention to themselves and the fact that they are drawn to the wild side. To my knowledge, they’re not actively participating in a bad lifestyle, but they’re fascination of it brings me to the realization that I too, and likely every child of God, can be drawn into a desire to walk on the wild side. And there is a danger.

Romans 11:24-26

For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, untill the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungoliness from Jacob.

Apostle Paul is speaking to the Jews about the wild side of the Gentiles. They didn’t appreciate it. They’d always steered clear of the Gentiles; and now, this Gentile loving Jew was telling them that they should embrace them and call them brothers and sisters. What? That rebel nation is now God’s people too. Yes! Hallelujah. Because we were made new. We were not a heathen branch grafted into a healthy tree that would have weakened it. But rather we were a newly formed branch, not formed by nature which grows wild, but rather formed by the Creator with purpose. I just wrote myself happy!

The Jews were represented by the olive tree, a valuable, fruit bearing tree. But their focus wasn’t on the fruit, it was on their status as the original tree. Apostle Paul was trying to reintroduce them to the Fruit Bearer. Christ. The long awaited Messiah that they had rejected because they didn’t understand the mystery of the work that God had done. They didn’t want to understand. That would be key.

And sometimes we don’t want to understand the price God paid to turn us from that wild branch, into a Holy Nation. You see, there’s a side of me that can look back on the wild side of life and think “that was fun.” But then I remember what life was really like outside the True Branch. And nothing on the backside of where I am now, seems appealing. I don’t want to mar the beautiful Branch that I have been allowed to become a part of.

That’s what scares me about the friends of mine that find joy in reliving the wild side memories and walk dangerously close to marring the branch.

Glorifying Sin Mars the Branch

When someone speaks of the past life’s sin in a manner that makes it sound fun and exciting, it can cause the unsaved to think that we’re missing out on something by being saved. That’s a mark on the branch, because it is the furthest from the truth.

I lived unsaved 34 years. I had plenty of experiences in life that the world deems as fun. I also know the miserable state I was in at the time. That somehow gets forgotten by those glorifying those days.

But now… Glory to God I’m having more fun, and more excitement than I ever had pre-salvation. Hands down, it is not an exaggeration!

Glamorizing Sin Mocks the Branch

That thought makes me nauseous. But for me it’s what happens when I hear someone laughing and joking about sin. Whether it’s their sin from a previous life, or someone else living in sin. There’s nothing funny about it.

What someone views as a funny story about a drunk, reminds me of the lives I’ve seen ruined, absolutely destroyed because of alcohol. When a Christian speaks of alcohol as “not sinful,” when drank in moderation, I wonder who they’re trying to convince.

While few people joke about drugs, the legalization of marijuana reminds me of a night at 15 years of age, I almost died because someone laced mine with PCP.  You may say one has nothing to do with the other. I disagree. Because one is a gateway drug to the other. Just as beer is the gateway to a stronger fix for an alcoholic. And one time just may be the end to a life that wasn’t saved. It’s a game that is too dangerous to play, and certainly doesn’t need glamorized by God’s people.

Glossing over Sin Moves the Branch

Making light of any sin, or looking at the wild side of life as a fond memory causes an instability in the life of the believer not just the unsaved. I’ve watched it play out too many times.

I heard a preacher mock the “Baptist” about not being drinkers for months and months, and then I watched him fall to alcoholism. He did eventually win the victory over it, and I praise God for that, but he paid a high price.  

I watched as a woman made light of her indiscretions and almost destroyed her marriage.

I was broken hearted when a preacher friend fell to a sexual sin. I also remember his last sermon, the title of it was “Finishing Well.” He did not.

I didn’t get my 20 plus year badge of the Christian faith without being broken hearted, hurt, and yes, I too have fallen because I’ve walked too close to the wild side. It’s too dangerous to make light of and Satan loves it every time a Christian “fondly” remembers a day of sin. Don’t give him one drop of glory.

Remember what the price for that sin was. We are not heathen branches grafted into a healthy tree. We were made new! Let us act like it.

Crash Test Christianity

That’s the thought that came out of the teen class lesson yesterday as my co-teacher Doug taught our youth. My brain goes strange places sometimes and either like honey or mud, it’s stuck in that place until I dig around and find out what the Lord needs me to know about that word.

The word was “prove”. Meaning to demonstrate, show, give evidence or verify something.

It’s what most of us want on the everyday front of life; we want evidence that we’re going the right direction, that God is pleased, that we’re forgiven. And God tells us that’s okay. He wants us to prove Him.

But sometimes proving Him leaves me feeling a little like a crash test dummy. Not that God wants me to be that. He’d rather I be the evaluator. Not the demonstrator. But I hit the wall again and again. I’m no different than the original crash test dummies, they however were on camels not Kia souls.

Behavior Lessons

In Exodus 15:24-25 it says

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink?

There third day into the trip and they’ve already found something to complain about with leadership. They’d arrived at Marah and couldn’t drink the water because it was bitter. And that was Moses’ fault.

Yesterday, my grandsons Luke and Parker were wrestling in the floor and knocked something off the table. Within a second of the crash Parker yelled, “Luke did it!’

We’re always looking for someone to blame for our problems in life rather than taking responsibility for it ourselves. I’m not apt to throw someone under the bus, though I might, but more than likely I’ll blame circumstances for my errors. Knowing it was my fault.

But God gives Israel the bitter water to prove something about Himself.

Verse 25:

And he cried unto the Lord and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them, and said, if thou wilt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth you.

Praise God for grace! We are not bound by the law. But that doesn’t make the law nonexistent. It’s still there. But now it proves that we cannot keep ourselves. We depend on that grace to clean us up when we crash and burn.

And He does. The name of Grace is Jesus.

Faith Lessons

In Exodus 16 we find the children of Israel complaining again, but this time its about the food.

Verse 3

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

For some reason that scripture struck me funny. Although I don’t find it funny when my provision isn’t coming in like I wish it would. If you’ve ever lacked (and we all likely have), you can understand the children of Israel’s mindset. We often chalk them up to being a bunch of whiners, but if you’re a million strong in the wilderness and you’re not seeing a Walmart, you’re worried. But the Lord intervenes in the conversation:

Vs. 4

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

More evidence. More being tied to the law. Again… praise God for grace! Our provision is not tied to the law, it’s tied to faith.

Philippians 4:19 ~ But my God shall supply all your  need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:8 ~ And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Philippians 4:6 ~ Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

Verse after verse we’re given about the provision of God. And yet ye all know that there have been times when we’ve been without. Is that a lack of faith? Perhaps it’s just another way God proves Himself to us. Paul said it like this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Sometimes it’s about learning that we can survive without it.

One of my nephews crashed a motorcycle one time and once the downed bike stop sliding and he stopped rolling, he jumped up and said, “I’m fine.” No one was any more surprised than he was. He learned that sometimes we can crash and not burn.

The last place I want to talk about being a crash test dummy is in Exodus 20:20

Grace Lessons

 We just talked about it through Paul. So how does grace work with the laws of God.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Moses had just given them the Lord’s Ten Commandments. They had seen God come down as lightening, thunder and the noise of a trumpet and they wanted no part of it. They wanted an intercessor. So do we.

Remember, this was before the days of sci-fi and special effects. This was the real deal and I probably would be afraid too. The only one not shaking in his shoes was Moses and that was because this wasn’t His first rodeo with God. He’d been in conversations with God before.

But now. Glory to God!!! We don’t need an intercessor. We have a more excellent way. There is no need to go through a priest. Christ took care of that on the cross.

Matthew 27:51 – And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Ephesians 2:18 ~ For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Second to the Resurrection, which proved my Lord’s power over death, my favorite part of that story is the renting of the curtain in the temple. The very thing that kept the common man out of the Holy of Holies was gone. Torn in two from top to the bottom, and opening our way to have direct access to God Himself through the Holy Spirit.

God proves that every day to His children by showing them His presence in their lives.

While the children of Israel felt condemned by the law, there is no condemnation in Christ, only grace for those who come to Him.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

There is no crash and burn for the child of God. Just like those crash test dummies, we my crash, but  we’ll be fine. Because the Lord is on our side!

If Jesus Coached Little League

Jesus and Little league

Let me begin this blog by saying I’m a musician, not an athlete; so my view of sports is from the sideline as an encourager. But that doesn’t prevent me from having an opinion on the matter and being that what I’m writing about isn’t really about sports at all, I do consider myself somewhat of an authority. Little league sports is a season of beginnings for both the little ones playing and their parents. It’s a whole new set of emotions for parents who are almost for certain their little Johnny or Jenny have the potential to be a national star. And that’s as it should be. Parents should instill in their children at the earliest of possible ages that they can do or be anything they want… provided God approves.  That’s the part most parents skip. And mainly because many little league activities are held on Wednesday evenings and now Sunday’s when kids should be in church, but that’s another blog.

If Jesus were a little league Coach, this is how I believe He’d go about it. The same manner for which He built the church.

He knew the game

Matthew 4:1-2

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Jesus was every bit God and every bit man. He experienced and faced temptation the same way we do and yet He overcame sin, so we are without excuse. If Jesus hadn’t experienced that for Himself we’d been given the opportunity to say, “But Lord, You don’t understand.” But He does. And for certain a Coach, even of little league, should have at some point experienced the game.

He knew He was dealing with Amateurs

Matthew 4:18-20

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

They weren’t preachers, they were fishermen, and Christ used that same analogy to convince them that they could play ball… or win souls as the case may be.

The one thing that most children love to do is play ball. Of any kind! And they’re pretty sure they’re the best at it, until somebody tells them they’re not. Now before any die hard athletes go on a rampage here, I understand the concept of winning and losing. You have to have both, not everyone can win every time. But winning and losing was not supposed to be the precept of little league ball. It was to train children to play.

Now let’s put that in a church perspective. I was blessed to begin my Christian walk in a church of really messed up people, (you know… sinners) with a leader who believed that we could be trained to be leaders. We weren’t expected to be perfect, but we were expected to try. When we broke the rules, we weren’t taken out of the game… we were brought to the sideline, instructed of righteousness and told to try again. That’s good teaching.

He knew they needed time

Most little league players don’t come out of the womb with a team jersey. There are the gifted, but most are just average kids, just like the church. A very small percentage of the church become paid servants, most of us are just average joes, or jills as the case may be; but you better believe there wouldn’t be a game if we didn’t show up.

Matthew 5:1-2

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Jesus taught not only the disciples but the multitude as well. Little league sports is a community event. It should be a time of learning and fun for everyone. It’s not the making of professionals, it’s the teaching of a team. Jesus wanted the disciples to understand that the game wasn’t about them, it was about those they served. And teaching kids to have a team spirit is the most valuable lesson you could teach as a coach. Because they’ll always be winners if they learn to treat one another with respect.

Teaching church members that lesson goes a long way too! The team’s attitude is usually a direct reflection of the coach. Bad or good the team is usually a mirror image. Jesus’ first lesson was an attitude check.

Matthew 5:3-9

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

He knew sometimes they’d lose

Matthew 5:10-11

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Jesus understood and taught how to take a loss. No matter what… treat people right.

Unraveled at the Feet of Jesus

Trying to find a biblical family in the scripture to model your family after is next to impossible. Dysfunction doesn’t even begin to describe it. From the beginning it was filled with disobedience, betrayal and murder. So it should not come as a surprise that our own families are so messed up today, and yet when it happens we’re shocked. And when you couple the fact that those stories of dysfunction were within God’s chosen leaders of the day, who weren’t perfect, but their relationship with the Lord was to be desired; what does that say about us? Few of us have a relationship with the Lord that’s as tightly knit. So we unravel… and our family isn’t what we envisioned, and neither are we.

I can write from the heart of dysfunction. If God were still adding text to the Bible (and He’s not by the way), but if He were, there could likely be the book of Shari. Perhaps many sermons would be preached from my text with a title like “The Diva of Dysfunction.” There likely would not be the intrigue as many books of the Bible entail, but there would be comedy and chaos, heartache and hindrances to the will of God, fractured moments and failed missions. Several trips to the wood shed for certain. But… in the midst of it all you’d find Mercy. And me at His feet… unraveled.

From Heaven I have a feeling my life looks like a tangled mess of God’s intentions. Maybe yours does too. We have to remember that regardless of what we do, God does see the other side.

  • Poor decisions can take us down a wrong path. And though the distance is rougher and longer, God can still bring us to His intended spot.
  • Broken relations were not His plan, but the healing that He provides can make you stronger and more appreciative of the unbroken.
  • Finances may not be your forte, (it’s not mine) but by giving back to Him what we were entrusted with, perhaps that seed will take root and grow in ways we can’t even imagine. Or He may just give us contentment… and that’s okay too.
  • Sometimes family is the tie that binds, and sometimes it’s the tie that gags, but it’s the foundation of the gospel. We are the family of God. And if He can put up with our shenanigans do we not owe our family the same. A man who sought God’s wisdom ask his counselor “When can I stop caring.” The counselor’s reply was “When God does.”

If I wrote an exhaustive list of dysfunctions you wouldn’t take the time to read my blog. So let’s put it like this. You fill in the blank. “Dear God, ________________ is unraveling in my life. And I need you to knit it back together.”

Scripture says in Colossians 2:2 ~ That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

We don’t know the end of our story. But we can be comforted in the knowledge that we are loved and that God’s plan is still on track. That tangled mess that we see, will one day be a viewed as a beautiful tapestry …or perhaps a cable knit sweater.

I hope today finds your life at peace, and wrapped up in the love of God

A Lesson in Leadership

2 Timothy 3:14

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

As the Pastor of our church gave his departing message yesterday morning my heart was divided. Although I was glad that the Lord was allowing him to move on to new and exciting places, he had played such a pivotal role in who I was as a Christian. In 1996 he pierced me with the words of Christ and I gave my heart to Jesus. He then didn’t just turn me loose to ride with the wind, he and many others discipled me into servitude so that I would become a leader in the ministry. Humbling…

As he spoke on 2 Timothy 3:14 I reminisced over the past 17 years of my life under his ministry and was grateful for the lessons I’d learned. I will continue on! I’ll lead as I’ve been lead…

Leaders are not Entertainers

Although I love to laugh and have a great time in the ministry if that laughter does not edify your soul I’m nothing more than an entertainer. I’ve witnessed dozens of speakers who I would love to orate as well as, but when they were finished orating I wasn’t moved with compassion or inspired to do great things for the Lord, I was entertained.

When Paul healed a man and the excited crowd wanted to do obeisance to him as if he was a man of great power, Paul quickly pointed them back in the right direction. Acts 14:15 – And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

When speaking or teaching before people everything we say and do should point back to Savior. It should never be about us, it should be about Him! Encourager… not entertainer.

Leaders lead through Experience

I was not born a leader. As a matter of fact I was born a stray-er. I was that one that the Shepherd had to seek after that strayed away from the flock. Likely lured off by something shiny! It was through experience, trial and error and sometimes trial and error again that I have managed to be recognized as a leader in the congregation of the Lord. And I don’t say that trivially. As a friend said to me recently, experience isn’t always the best teacher, it’s sometimes the only one we’ll listen too. Were it not for the grace of Almighty God, and His interventions to get me to this place, under the ministry of these people, I’d still be straying. But instead He has allowed me through the education of experience to be able to point people to Christ. Who would have ever thought that the “directionally challenged” me would be put in such a position? Only God can do that!

Leaders lend an Ear

Isaiah 49:1

Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

From a small child I heard God calling my name, but unlike Isaiah I wasn’t in tune with the Holy Spirit enough to understand what God was doing in my life. It wasn’t until years and years later that I look back on those times and realize that God called me for such a time as this. I’m still learning to listen. Not only to God but to those that I lead. I have a tendency to run ahead and in so doing I sometimes miss what’s been said. I inadvertently offended a co-worker not too long ago by getting out of the car and walking ahead of them, rather than waiting until everyone walked in together. I live with the mission of Point “A” to point “B”. Let’s get where we’re going! I often lead that way too, wanting to get to where we’re going without slowing down along the way to listen to someone along the journey. I’m learning to slow down, it’s a hard lesson. But a worthy one.

I hope today finds you encouraged! God Bless You!