Tag Archives: heaven

You’re Making Jesus Cry

Choices

We are faced with choices every single day. We are given the ability (in theory, but that’s a whole other blog) to choose the spouse we marry, the food we eat, the shirt we wear, the friends we have, the officials we vote for, and so much more. There are also times when we must make a stand when given a choice, and in doing so, we choose one set of beliefs over another and with that we often are choosing one person or party over another. As Christians, this goes one step further.

Most every choice we face in life as Christians starts with two options, do we choose to go with God (him, his ways, his word), or do we choose to not? All throughout the Bible, we see men choosing both paths. Some follow God to the best of their ability in every decision they make. Others call themselves followers of God/Christ, yet choose their own ways over his. One such case is addressed in Matthew 15:1-9. As he often does, Jesus gets right to the point by saying, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt 15:8-9). He clearly points out that they have chosen the ways of this world over the ways of God. And because they chose their ways over his, they will eventually pay the consequences. But it isn’t always that cut and dry. You see, for the Pharisees, they had no true regard for God so they didn’t really care how Jesus rebuked them. But what about those that want to honor God but choose against him anyway? Let’s take a look at another passage.

The Effects of Sin

In John 11:1-44, we read the well known story of Lazarus’ death, and Jesus bringing him back to life. But towards the end of that passage, there is an interesting thing that happens. In John 11:35, it simply says ” Jesus wept.” Why would he weep if he knew just minutes later he would raise Lazarus from the dead? Was Jesus just putting on a show? Was he deeply saddened by the loss of Lazarus not realizing that he would bring him back to life in a few minutes? Neither of those are possible if you understand the character and nature of God. So there had to be something else.

Jesus wept. (John 11:35 ESV)

Most likely, one of the primary reasons Jesus wept was because he fully understand why death occurred (sin) in Lazarus and others and that instead of choosing God, men were choosing to sin, or at least to agree with sin, thus signing their own death sentence (see Rom 6:23). Jesus was deeply hurt by man’s choices.

So what about you? How many times have you made Jesus cry? It sounds so distant doesn’t it? But it’s not. He weeps over you, every time you sin. Often we choose others, because we don’t want to see them hurt or struggle. Often we choose family and friends, even when they are going against God, because we don’t want them to feel distant from us. But what we don’t realize is that every time we choose man (family, friend, etc), we are choosing against God. Every time we decide to “protect” those against God, we ourselves are choosing against God.

WE MAKE JESUS CRY!

What will it take for us to realize that we are the cause of Jesus’ pain and sorrow. We personally nailed him to the cross! And what is more alarming is that even when we aren’t the ones directly sinning, our agreement with those that are sinning is in fact just as offensive to God yet we don’t (want to) see it.

We must honor Jesus with our lips AND our hearts because if we continue choosing not to, we may one day hear him say to us, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt 7:21-23)

 


Celebrating Sin

Celebrating-Sin

This blog was originally written for and can be found at www.forhisglorycc.org.

Recently, a Girl Scout in San Francisco made the news for selling her cookies in front of a local marijuana dispensary. Many news media outlets are reporting on this girl’s “crafty and savvy” thought to display outside of the dispensary. Even big organizations, like Entrepreneur Magazine, are celebrating the fact that this girl made a wise business decision to set up shop in front of a place where people are known to eat a lot of snacks (see cancer.gov research here). What is amazing to me is that in the midst of noticing this girl’s “crafty” idea, society has completely overlooked the fact that this young, impressionable, 13-year-old girl (supposedly selling cookies for a good cause) is utilizing sin to succeed. My assumption here is that this is probably not the message that the Girl Scouts of America wants to portray. But with all of the positive media coverage building up her intelligence and her success, why wouldn’t every other Girl Scout or find their local dispensary and do the same thing? Now, I know that there are practical medical uses for marijuana, which wouldn’t be sinful in and of themselves, but the “munchies crowd” probably isn’t looking to cure a sickness when they step into that dispensary.

The Bible has a lot to say when it comes to celebrating the practice of sinful behavior, as well as using sin to succeed.

“It [speaking of love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth.” – 1 Cor 13:6

The Apostle Paul is encouraging the church at Corinth to use love as a way to build one another up, which ultimately brings glory to God. Unfortunately, what he saw were the people of God celebrating the sin of another, which further damages the person in sin, leads to destruction or division in the church, and worst of all, defames the name of Jesus. Truly loving another means pointing out the wrong they are practicing before it’s too late, and they do damage that is irreversible.

Another word against the practice of celebrating sin, as well as gaining from it, comes from Jesus himself. In Matthew 21, the Bible recounts a well-known event where Jesus cleansed the temple.

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”” – Matt 21:12–13

Within the temple, there was a market where business-like activity enabled local citizens to set up shop in order to serve the city and travelers passing through. This would be similar to our present day swap meet or street vendors in popular cities (like San Francisco). They would exchange currency and buy and sell goods. Unfortunately, many were doing it for sinful gain, and Jesus knew it. Instead of fairly exchanging foreign money for the temple currency so the travelers passing through could buy goods for themselves and purchase animals for sacrifice, these money changers were charging an unfair premium to exchange the money, and in turn, would pay off those that had appointed them to the position in the first place (think money laundering and embezzlement). Jesus labeled them a “den of robbers” to compare to well-known thieves and criminals of the day that practiced similar behavior.

While I am not ready to label this young Girl Scout one of a “den of robbers”, I am pointing out that our culture is perpetuating the (potential) sinful behavior associated with marijuana use and celebrating the financial gain that comes from it. To me, that sounds all too familiar to what Jesus reproached in Matthew’s account above. So how do we handle these situations when we face them?

  • Never diminish the potential that sin has to rear its ugly head in all circumstances.Some may look at this Girl Scout as a cute, young girl looking to sell a whole bunch of cookies for a great cause. But we cannot look past the fact that sin is too closely tied to her gain.
  • Examine areas of our lives where sin is profiting from our decisions. I understand that sin is all around us and almost every product we buy nowadays can be linked to some sort of greed or deceit, so don’t go crazy digging, but definitely be wise. Stay away from movies that purposefully distort the Word of God. Don’t watch TV shows that glorify sinful behavior. There are much better companies and causes that can use our money, and much more valuable things that can use our time.
  • Point people to Jesus when they get caught up in these practices. It’s easy for me to speak out against the Girl Scout for doing wrong, and the media for that matter, but it’s hard for me to show them why Jesus is the better answer. I find it challenging at times to explain in a loving and caring way that the wages of sin is death, though it is, and that only by accepting Jesus Christ will they ever find true joy and fulfillment in their efforts, but I must. We must be willing to take the time to lead conversations towards Jesus, who is ultimately the only one who can solve the sin issues in which this world is so deeply consumed.

Love God, love others, and stay as far away from the practice of sin as possible, because Jesus still cleanses and I don’t think we want to be collateral damage when it happens!

 


I’m Going on a Missions Trip

Summer is coming and churches everywhere are preparing their teams for missions trips. Maybe it’s a high school
group, a college group, or just a mish-mosh group from church that has a heart to go and reach an impoverished or unreached people group.

The planning and preparation required to go on a foreign missions trip can be so intense. Logistics, finances, passports, and clean bills of health. Who wants to go? Who can go? Will they get together all they need to in the amount of time they have to?

But what about the rest of us? What will we do this summer? Well as for me, I’m excited to say I’m going on a missions trip too. What’s crazy is I’m actually not going out of the country though. I’m not even leaving the state. Most likely, I won’t even be leaving southern California. So how do I claim to be going on a mission’s trip if I’m not really going anywhere? I think Jesus has my back here because He said…

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

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Did you catch that? He said Jerusalem. And He was talking to a bunch of guys in……yep you guessed it, Jerusalem. Now, I am in no way discounting the amazing and overwhelming work that needs to be done all throughout the world. There are people groups all over that have never even heard the gospel. How will they ever meet Jesus if someone doesn’t tell them (Romans 10:14)? We must go to them. It’s not even an option but a necessity. I have gone to a foreign country on mission and it was an amazing blessing. And I will go again too! My heart is for the gospel to go to all the world. But what I am not going to do is miss out on my opportunity to go on a missions trip every day for the rest of my life.

I have family that needs Jesus, I have neighbors that need Jesus, I live in a city with surrounding cities that need Jesus. And others that don’t need to meet Jesus (because they already know Him) still need the love of Jesus. There are people within my local reach that need food, money, and care for the things they are struggling with. I don’t want to miss those opportunities because I’m in my Jerusalem.

What about you? Are you going on a missions trip this summer? If you are, I pray that God provides all you need to get where you want to go and that your trip is a magnificent work of God. But as you prepare, don’t miss the mission that God has you on every day. If you’re not going on a trip, realize that God already has you on mission right where He has sovereignly placed you. He is going to put before you opportunities every single day to be His hands and feet. I encourage you to look for those opportunities always, in everything you do. At home, at work, and at the grocery store.

You never know when your missions trip to the mall ends up being a life changing moment for someone God has divinely caused you to collide with.


Tell It

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

Could you imagine if all you ever heard was Jesus?

There are over 250 million proclaimed Christians in the United States. I’m not going to debate that number (even though I could) but use it to show something quite shocking. Stats on the web show that in order for a topic to trend on Twitter, it needs approximately 30 tweets every 5 seconds. If approximately 500,000 people tweeted once per day something about Jesus, He would never leave number one. Jesus would be the most talked about (trending) topic on Twitter every single day. And that’s only 500,000. Could you imagine if 1 million people tweeted something about Jesus. What if 100 million people tweeted Jesus? Instead of Jesus, we get trending topics like #20ThingsIDontLike or #TheEndofTheWorld #122112. Those are recent topics that have trended on Twitter. Other days, it’s the name of the latest celebrity that got pregnant, the most recent famous couple to get a divorce, or both. For a while it was all politics. Food probably lands there from time to time. It is just ridiculous to think that anything other than Jesus would be number one.

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, your Savior if you call yourself a Christian. Through none other will you receive the eternal security that you so dearly hold on to.

So how about personally? What do you like to talk about? What trends in your life? As Christians, we are called to glorify God in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Are we glorifying God when we spend so much time talking about the things that we do? I know I’m not.

Tell It - Wordle

Now let me take a breath for a second so I can say that we don’t need to run around saying Jesus with every breath (though that would be cool). God isn’t asking us to only wear clothes from Christian companies, read books by Christian authors, and watch corny Christian movies (ok, that’s a joke). But really, we just need to think about the things we do and what topics are at the top of our life.

So what do I do to make sure Jesus trends in my life?

I try to wake up every morning before my family gets up so I can pray for 10-15 minutes and then I read my Bible. Sometimes it is a specific devotional (like the Live Second book) while other times I just get into a chapter of the Bible and read a few verses.

I use social media as a tool to share about my faith in and life with Jesus. Not every post has Jesus in it, but I want to be transparent in communicating how I live my life so people see the real me and that Jesus is real in my life.

Professionally, I own my own business so I have a little more liberty than some may to share their faith. All my colleagues and business partners know I am a Christian because I tell them so. I’m the guy that doesn’t drink at business functions and doesn’t cuss with the other guys (and some girls) at networking events, not because I’m a holy roller but because I want to set myself apart from the world when it comes to those things. I have a platform to speak to others and do so with the utmost honesty and integrity so God willing, people see Jesus in me.

The Christian life is not easy. Glorifying God in all you do isn’t automatic. It takes full dependency on the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to let Jesus trend on Facebook, Twitter, at the dinner table, in the grocery store line, while on the job or at school. He is definitely worth the placement!

Thank you for joining me as I shared my story. Now it’s time to share yours.

 


After

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

The day after…

“But it is a simple story of what we have seen and heard that people want to hear most.” Live Second, page 78

I really wish I would have read that simple part on August 14, 2006 (the day after I got saved). Instead, I took matters into my own hands and began slashing everything that wasn’t “good” for me. You have to know me a bit to know how true this statement is but to explain it best, when I do something I do it with radical abandonment. Remember my gambling problem in my “Before” story? Yup, go big or go home. So I took that same tact when I became a Christian. No drinking, no friends that were bad influences, no this, and no that. I didn’t want to associate at all with the past. The problem was that I was still at the controls. I could only last so long steering that ship in the storm until I lost control again. I didn’t really have anyone discipling me and was left to what I thought I knew about being a Christian and what I was hearing in church week in and week out. Another part of the problem was that I was in church some Sundays hung over from the night before so I couldn’t hear half of what was being said. I was still blind, leading my own blind self!

That changed shortly before the following August when my wife and I decided to get baptized. God began working in my heart to show me that He needed to lead and I was just to follow. It was a tough concept but one that made a whole lot of sense. If I couldn’t do it before, I couldn’t do it now. I mean that’s why I accepted Christ in the first place.

We enrolled in a new believer’s class at our church and began to learn the foundational aspects of Christianity. I started to see how I could apply what I was learning to my life by letting God lead. We enrolled in another class a few months later to get deeper in the word and prayer. I started memorizing scripture. My radical behavior started being used to pursue Jesus. I was soaking things up like a sponge.

Fast forward to August of 2011 where while sitting in Haiti on an 8 day missions trip, I was presented with an opportunity to pray about planting a church with a pastor I had grown to love (the same pastor that was guest speaking the first day I went to church and got saved).

Fast forward to August of 2012 where  I entered a Biblical theology and pastoral training program with Mars Hill Church in Seattle as I began seeking to answer the calling I believe God has on my life. Just two weeks later my family would embark on a journey to help plant For His Glory Community Church in Claremont, California (www.forhisglorycc.org) where I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as executive pastor alongside two of the most Godly and amazing men I have ever met.

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What have I learned (and am still learning) along the way?

  • Jesus loved us enough to die for us (Romans 5:8)
  • When God wants us, He will grab onto us and not let go (Daniel 4:35)
  • We must allow Jesus to be Lord over our whole life (Romans 10:9)
  • No matter where we are in life, God’s plans are greater and He will blow our minds (Isaiah 55:8)
  • Jesus loved us enough to die for us (Romans 5:8) YUP, I SAID THAT ONE TWICE

Join me tomorrow for “Tell It”, the next chapter in my story.


The Moment

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

“Those of us who follow Jesus have all had a moment of realization.” Live Second, page 77

In a moment my eternity changed!

It would be cool to say I had an apostle Paul moment (“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me.” Acts 22:6 ESV). I mean seriously! Well I can’t say that happened to me. Actually, there really wasn’t anything tangible about my experience that day. But to give you the best perspective, I have to back up a few days.

The week leading up, I was in Chicago on a business trip (I’m from So Cal). On the last night a big group of us went out and partied pretty hard. We got back to the hotel, went straight to the bar and proceeded to continue the festivities. I was hanging with the guys and flirting with the girls while overindulging in cocktails until the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully I made it to my room solo and crashed for the night. But I woke up to a different sense than I had ever felt. It was as if I knew I needed to change something. A little bit of what my friend Dean had shared with me over the years started clicking. On the plane ride back home, I started asking questions of one of the guys I was on the trip with who was a Christian and lived it well. He was a great husband and father. I asked him what the whole church thing was about and what it meant to be a Christian. You see, I grew up going to Catholic church and made most of the sacraments but I never got it. It wasn’t ever real to me. Darren had a great way of politely sharing things and this conversation was no different. He didn’t lay down the law and tell me give up my junk, he just shared a few basic thoughts and told me to find a Christian church close by my house so I could hear for myself.

The night I got home I shared with my wife that I felt like it was time to check out the whole “church thing”. She agreed and we figured we would go that Sunday. My friend Dean had been telling all about how great his church was and it was close by our house. He shared about how good the pastor was and how laid back the church was. But when I told him we were going that Sunday, he said he had other plans. That could have easily derailed the process as my wife and I were going to have to go on our own but we figured we might as well give it a go anyway.

That Sunday morning we walked into Calvary Chapel East Anaheim and were excited to see what Christianity and the hyped-up pastor were all about only to find out the pastor was out of town. Now for anyone that has invited a friend to church, you never want the pastor to be gone when the new people show up. I mean the guest pastors are never as good, right? Wrong! The Bible says in Isaiah 58 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” God knew exactly what He was doing that morning. The assistant pastor spoke and nobody else had to be in that church that morning. His message was clearly from the Holy Spirit, through the pastor, to me. I heard in a gracious and loving way how everything I was doing was so backwards but in Christ, it could all be redeemed. I heard that it wasn’t too late for our broken marriage. I heard that by accepting God as my Father, I could become the image of Him to my daughter.

There was no altar call.

There was no call to pray a prayer.

But God was calling me to Himself. I could feel it and I had to respond.

In a quiet moment inside my heart on August 13, 2006 I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Join me tomorrow for “After”, the next chapter in my story.


Before

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

“We all have a ‘before’ story. For some of us, that story was before we met Jesus. For others, it was before we took our faith seriously. For others still, that story is the up-and-down journey of a long walk with God. But we all have a ‘before’ story.” Live Second, page 76

Before that Sunday morning in August of 2006, who was I?

Well my mom always said that when I was little I was a “good boy”. I don’t remember getting in a whole lot of trouble other than an occasional reprimand from my grade school teachers for talking too much in class. Oh ya, and I argued with my little brother but anyone that has siblings knows that fighting between them is pretty normal. When I got to junior high, it was much of the same.

High school so a lot of things change. I was still a pretty good kid, but I found myself hanging around a lot of the wrong people and honestly, I became one of them. I did a lot of stupid and shameful things. Things like drinking, experimenting with drugs, getting into lots of fights, messing around with girls and stealing. As I look back on high school, especially my junior and senior years, I thank God that He had His hand on me then though I did not accept Him. There were many instances where I could have died but didn’t. Two of my close friends sit in jail 17 years later for a crime I was almost a part of one summer night. Now I wasn’t all bad. I respected my mom (most of the time), didn’t hit or intentionally hurt women and would do an occasional good deed. But that in no way made up for the hurt I caused others.

I should have learned my lesson after high school but I didn’t. Instead the messes I played in simply changed. I did a lot of partying from 18-28. I was married at 22 to the love of my life and together we had our first child the following year. My little baby girl was such a blessing but I didn’t take the time to appreciate her as much as I should have. Instead of enjoying my wife I chose to complain about every little thing she did. She spent too much, complained too much, didn’t do this, and didn’t do that. I was so busy pointing all my fingers at her that I had none left to point in the mirror. And even if I had a free finger, I wouldn’t have pointed it there anyway. There were times when I flirted with and garnered the attention of other girls. I visited strip clubs, sometimes with my wife and sometimes without which only fueled the fire more. When it came to money, I was making way too much of it and spending even more. Cars, clothes and casinos were at the top of my interest list where my wife and child should have been.

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There must have been someone in my life pointing back in the right direction, RIGHT? Well not really. You see, from the outside looking in I had it all together. Before that day in August of 2006, I wore a great game face. My friends and family saw a 28 year old man with a beautiful wife, a healthy young girl, a successful and lucrative career, a nice house, multiple cars and everything else necessary to live the “American dream”. My friend Dean tried many times to tell me I needed to go to church and drop all my bad habits but I definitely wasn’t listening. I thought to myself, “What could God give me that I didn’t already have?” and “I don’t want to quit having all the fun I am”.

But the week leading up to that day revealed the true weight that was on my shoulders. It was unbearable and I had nowhere to turn. I was destroying my marriage and at risk of becoming a weekend father. I was at risk of losing the two most important people in my life. It was then that I began to realize there had to be something more. There had to be someone who could remove the weight and show me the true sense of joy I sought everywhere but never found.

Join me tomorrow for “The Moment”, the next chapter in my story.