Brainwashed

 

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  – John 13.5

 

Back in Bible days, there were no Nike shoes.  They wore sandals.  There were no controversial ads, no sandal burnings, and the sandals that you wore represented no political affiliation . . . man, those must have been the days.

 

Anyway, feet would obviously get nasty . . . really nasty.  Between miles of dusty roads and hours of heat and sweat, feet got dirty. It was customary back then to have a servant or someone wash feet when they entered a house.  At the very least, a basin of water was provided so you could do it yourself. Can you hear the mamas back then? “You’ll not track dirt in my clean house!”

 

One day, the disciples had been walking and had dirty feet.  They obviously didn’t want to wash their own feet, nor did they want to wash each other’s feet.  When Jesus stood up to take on the job, one of the disciples got really defensive, “You’ll never wash my feet, Jesus!”  The Lord’s response is amazing to me, “If I don’t wash you, then you have no part with me.”

 

Maybe this is where people adopted the phrase “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” even though it isn’t found in the Bible.  I’ve often thought a lot about how this applies to me in my own life.  Here is my conclusion:

 

I walk in this world. It isn’t my feet that sweat and pick up dirt . . . it is my mind.  I hear things throughout the day that I wish I hadn’t heard.  I hear words I don’t say, and jokes that I should never tell. Sometimes they are from people, sometimes from television and movies, sometimes it is avoidable, and sometimes it isn’t.  Many times after walking in this world for a day or two and not being with God, I want so badly to just get around him.  Sometimes I find that I just can’t.  It’s like I know he will say, “Don’t track that dirt in my house!”

 

So what do I do?

 

Well, I allow him to do what he did for his disciples that day.  I allow him to take the time to pour water on my mind with his word.  I allow him to take my sin and my filth and place it upon himself.  Basically, I let him clean me up.  The question is, will I let Him?  There are really only two responses to this.  I could be like Peter and say, “Oh no, you’ll not clean me up.”  Or, I could just allow him.  I could sit; let him wash me, clean me up, and just cry over the fact that he has to do it so often.  I could be so thankful in my heart and be reminded all over again that salvation comes from God and God alone.  I could be thankful that righteousness comes from him and him alone.  I could be so thankful that He made a way for me, not just to go to Heaven, but also to be clean right here and right now.  He made a way for me to enjoy him right here and right now.

 

It is kind of funny to me that many call Christians weak people in need of a crutch who have been brainwashed.  It many ways, it is true.  He can wash my brain anytime.  I love it when he makes me clean.

 

There is no one like our God.

 

Later

 

Adam

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The Thing About Forgiveness

The Thing About Forgiveness

 

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. – Matthew 6:12

 

Years ago when I was coaching girls basketball, I was listening to them say the Lord’s Prayer together.  Out of nowhere one word stuck out like crazy and I’ve never forgotten it . . . the word was “as.”  It hit me that when someone says this prayer to God, they are asking to be forgiven by God with the same mercy and grace that they show to other people.  I thought that was scary.

 

As I walk through this life, I see people who have been done wrong.  I see people who have been hurt and wounded badly by the words and actions of others.  So many have every right to be angry with this world and some of the people in it. But, if someone calls himself or herself a Christian, a forgiving attitude towards others is a must.  If a person refuses to forgive, the Bible is clear that God will refuse to forgive them.  Only God can give you a forgiving heart, you can never earn one by trying harder. The more you realize that you are loved by God, are forgiven by God, and the more you grow in God, forgiving others becomes quite natural and comes much easier.

 

Here is what brought this all back up:  I can be brought to tears laughing at inappropriate stuff.  Mike Tyson memes, Titanic jokes, and even jokes that make fun of famous people that really got hurt in the past can make me laugh so hard my side begins to hurt.  So the other day, someone pointed out, “Adam, you are going to have to ask God to forgive you for laughing at that.”  So, obviously, that was enough to send me soul searching and asking God what I needed to do about this.

 

I have looked at being forgiven by God in two ways.  I pretty much lived the first half of my Christian life asking for forgiveness for everything.  I was constantly going to the throne of grace and asking to be forgiven for lust, foul language, and lets just leave it at plenty of sinful behavior.  At the same time, if people did me wrong, I expected them to apologize to me.  I knew I’d have to forgive them if they asked, but they had sure better ask.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I forgave “as” I was forgiven.  I had to ask God to forgive me all the time, so you had better ask me to forgive you.

 

A great shift happened after I had my own children.  My kids do me wrong from time to time.  I do them wrong and have often had to ask them to forgive me.  One of them is very quick to forgive, the other not so much. Regardless of which one it is, when they ask me to forgive them, I always reply with “I’ll always forgive you,” or “you are always forgiven.”  So when I brought this matter of my laughing at stuff to God, I felt like He said the same words to me that I say to my own children.  I realized that He forgives me now the same way I forgive others.  God is simply applying the Golden Rule with me.

 

I guess there is a time and place for the Christian to constantly be bringing sins to God and asking for forgiveness, but if we have placed our lives in His hands and are His children, is it so hard to believe that He is more forgiving with His children than I am with mine.  No Christian that has lived for any amount of time after conversion has lived sinless. I certainly haven’t.  That begs the question: does my heavenly Father want me asking Him for forgiveness constantly for everything?  As long as my children love me, and even if they say they don’t, I don’t care if they ask for forgiveness.  When they do, it just shows that they want to make sure our relationship is completely restored, is solid, and there is nothing between us that can separate us.

 

There was one particular sin that I asked Him to forgive me for years.  YEARS!  Now, I imagine that one of my own children sinned against me.  What if they said to me, “Daddy, I’m sorry I did that, will you forgive me?”  Now think if they did this every day for a year.  I would constantly be saying, “Look, I forgave you the first time you asked, I forgave you before you asked, you are mine, you are always forgiven, I love you!”

 

If I’m just a regular old Joe and can learn to live, love, and forgive like this, why can we not look at the cross and be even more convinced of His love and His forgiveness towards His children? Live today like you are forgiven. If you are His, you are.

 

Later

 

Adam

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No Longer Afraid

 

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?  — Psalm 27:1

 

So I’ve been watching a lot of golf since Tiger Woods has returned. I never really liked him that much to begin with, but I find myself pulling for him now.  I guess since he is my age, I feel sorry for him or something . . . who knows?

 

Anyway, I’ve noticed something pretty significant.  He is now playing against the kids that grew up watching him dominate.  They wanted to be like him, and they are.  No longer when Tiger’s name gets on the leaderboard do you see people have meltdowns.  You only see these 20-somethings rise up and take pleasure in finishing the job . . . just like he used to do.  They play golf fearlessly.

 

In the church world, there are very few people who live the Christian life fearlessly.  As a whole, I see the majority of people who call themselves Christians focused on the wrong things.  I see them being the morality police, thinking so highly of their own opinions and the way they do things, and being extremely critical to others.  American Christians today are so focused on being comfortable that they no longer need The Comforter.  The church is dying in the United States, and it is largely because the young generation from 20 years ago didn’t see Christianity as valuable to them at all.  There was no “Tiger” in their lives to show them they could live differently and fearlessly.

 

Thank God I saw a handful of men really live for Jesus Christ.  They were the real deal and when I really thought about what it looked like and what it cost to live for Him, seeing them made me want to do it.  Just like Tiger inspired an entire generation of golfers, a few Christians inspired me.

 

Here is the thing:  If the Lord is my light, my salvation, and the stronghold of my life . . . the Lord of all . . . the God of the Universe, why should I ever be afraid?  How could I not go out today and live fearlessly?  If He is with me and He has ordered my steps, then I have nothing to be afraid of.  I can live focused on the right things.  I can live a life that will make the next generation of Christians see Jesus as a “want to,” certainly not a “have to.”

 

Lord, help us stop caring so much about policing morality and help us just learn to simply walk with You, for You are the greatest thing this life offers.  What is wrong with the American church?  Nobody wants to be a Christian because so few people see real Christians.  Stir up the body of Christ, Lord.  Mobilize us. Help us to understand that you really are with us.  Whom shall we fear if we have you?

 

Later

 

Adam

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Trees

 

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, and he ate it.  – Genesis 3:6

 

I wonder if kids are as fascinated with trees today as I was.  I used to love to climb them.  I thought it was so cool to go as high in a tree as you could possibly go and just look at the world around me.  When riding in the car as a kid, I remember being amazed at how the trees close to the road seemed to zip by so fast while the trees far away moved so slowly.  I had completely forgotten about all that until my first airplane ride.  Everything moved slowly, yet I was going 400+ miles per hour.  Crazy.

 

According to the Word of God, a lot has happened at trees.  God told the first man, “The day you eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die.”  It was the first conditional statement ever given.  We are in a fallen, sinful state because of one single action done by one single man.  The day he ate, death was brought to the human race.  You and I will draw our last breath one day.  On that day, we will stand before a holy God and be judged.  “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment.”  (Hebrew 9:27) It almost doesn’t seem fair that everyone is born condemned because of the actions of one person.

 

Thank God something else happened at another tree.

 

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed.  – 1 Peter 2:24

 

Six hours one Friday afternoon.  That is how long Jesus was on the cross.  The Bible says it was from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.  It also says at noon it got really dark.  Jesus said these words, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  It is the only time Jesus talks to the heavenly Father and refers to Him “God.”  Every other time, He calls Him “Abba,” or “Father.”  This was the moment that Jesus dreaded.  He did not dread the nails, the lashes, the crown of thorns, the mocking, the being spit upon, the being hated by His own people . . . He dreaded the separation from His Father.  Just like you and I, sin separates us from God.  Unlike you and I, Jesus had no sin.  The sin that separated him from his Father was yours and mine . . . not his own.

 

You see, just as all humans were filled up with sin the moment Adam ate, any human who prays to Christ can have their sin emptied on Him.  Sin can be transferred off of you and onto Him.  He really did give His life that you and I might live.  In three hours, He inhaled the sins of the world. All who would ever humble themselves and say, “Lord, I need you” would be made brand new and restored to that wonderful condition before the fruit was eaten from that first tree thousands of years ago.

 

You can’t do anything about what happened at the first tree.

 

But, you sure can do something about the second one.

 

Receive Him today.

 

He really is the best thing this life offers.

 

Later

 

Adam

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The Older Son

 

But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.’ – Luke 15:29a

 

Here is how you know if you are a religious, older brother:  It is absolutely no fun being a Christian.  Notice that the older brother has looked at some number of years as being a slave to his father.  One of the greatest checks I frequently make when it comes to following Christ is asking myself, “Do I enjoy being a Christian?”  If the answer is “no,” I kind of shut it all down.  I don’t read my Bible and I only say one prayer, “Lord, give me a love for You again, give me a desire to read Your Word, please let my Christianity be a want to and not a have to.”  It does not usually take long at all until I just miss Him and want to be with Him.

 

‘Yet you never even gave me a young goat that I might celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him.’ – Luke 15:29b-30

 

I will never forget after being a Christian for probably 10 years that I felt totally ripped off by God. I didn’t think that after 10 years of “service” that I had received my proper reward.  Much like the older brother in the story, I didn’t like seeing people who were doing less than me seeming to be rewarded more than me.  I felt like I had kept my end of the deal. Why wasn’t God keeping His?

 

‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” – Luke 15:31

 

I remember finding out that my favorite preacher to watch on television was only an hour and a half away. Tonya and I drove there one Sunday. From the moment I walked in the door, I felt God’s presence.  It was all I could do to not just cry.  I thought how ridiculous that would look if I just let it out right then and there in the lobby.  I held it together until they sang a song called “When I Think About the Lord” by Christ for the Nations:

 

When I think about the Lord

How He saved me

How He raised me

How He filled me with the Holy Ghost

How He healed me to the uttermost

 

When I think about the Lord

How He picked me up and turned me around

How He placed my feet on solid ground

 

It makes me want to shout

Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus

Lord You’re worthy of all the glory and all the honor and all the praise

 

My Heavenly Father came to visit me that day.  He told me the same thing the father said in Luke 15, “You are always with me.”  I don’t know how it happens, but sin has a way of convincing me that God isn’t enough.  Think about that, the God of the Universe is with me.  When I am thinking properly, that is absolutely astounding to me. When I’m thinking only of myself and have that “What’s in it for me?” attitude, I look up at a holy, mighty, magnificent Heavenly Father and basically say, “You aren’t doing enough for me.”

 

Unbelievable!

 

I guess the question all of us have to answer is this:  Is God enough for you?  If He never granted a single want or wish, could you still love Him?  If all He does is give you Himself, is that enough for you?  Would you honestly prefer gifts from the Giver over the Giver of the gifts?

 

Lord, just give me you!  May your presence alone be more than enough for me.  Help me always be amazed that you are with me.  Help me always rejoice with you when those messy, younger, immature sons come home.  Help me never forget that I used to be one.

 

Later

 

Adam

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Two Sons

 

Have you ever seen two kids grow up in the same home and wonder how in the world they could be so different?  In the story of the Prodigal Son, Jesus creates quite a contrast between two sons raised in the same home by the same father.  One son, the younger, is extremely immature and gets Dad to give him his inheritance prematurely.  He proceeds to move far away from home, and then burn through the money with wasteful extravagant living.  The older brother is a rule follower.  He claims that he “never once broke the rules.” (Luke 15:29)    When the younger son finally comes home, the older son becomes angry.

 

This story that Jesus told pretty much describes us today.  There are a lot of Christians wasting their lives with prodigal living, and there are a lot of Christians who are professional rule followers, or at least they think they are.  There also are some, though it be a much smaller percentage, which have the heart of the Father. They simply want to bring people into a real deal relationship with the Father.  In this story, it is really important to see that neither son really knew their dad. I have been each son for certain periods of my life.  If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, you must evaluate your heart and see if you are like either of these sons.  If you are, you must go directly to God, repent, and begin a real authentic relationship with Him.  The story makes a very clear point; God is always, always willing to receive you.

 

“I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me like one of your hired servants.”  — Luke 15:19

 

This verse says so much about immature Christians today.  When I first received Christ in my life at 16, I did not believe that a loving Heavenly Father was receiving me.  I believed that I was simply being forgiven for my sinful ways.  I also believed God was very strict and that I needed to start trying harder and doing better.  I still wonder why I thought this way.  Looking back, I think I looked around me and looked at other Christians to figure out how I needed to live.  Most of the Christians that I knew lived clean, followed the rules, and never sinned . . . or so I believed.  I can’t remember anyone ever telling me that they themselves struggled to live out this Christian life.  So many would preach against sin and were quick to point out mine.  For some reason, I just couldn’t stop coming back to God for forgiveness. Even though I was miserable, I really believed in my heart that He was the only way to be saved.

 

If I had really studied Luke 15, I would have known.  All the Father wants from me is to come home to Him, allow Him to cover my filth with His robe of righteousness, and enjoy Him.  The only thing the Father was interested in doing was celebrating the fact that His son came home.  If this is really the way God is, all I had to do as a prodigal who came home is celebrate with Him.  Not follow rules, not do better, not try to adjust my behavior . . . just enjoy being home with the Father.  Following the rules would come much, much later, and I would follow them because I wanted to, not because I felt forced to.

 

We don’t teach this in church.  We have preconceived ideas of what it looks like to be a Christian.  Most of it probably comes from what we heard and were taught growing up.  I guess it is just easier to teach conformity to the rules.  The major, major problem with this is that there are prodigals refusing to come home because they honestly believe Christianity is impossible.

 

If you feel far away from God, He is right there waiting for you to make a move towards Him.  He doesn’t want you as a hired servant.  He is not looking for someone who follows rules perfectly.  He’s looking for sons and daughters who enjoy being at home and celebrating with Him. He will not force Himself upon you, but He sure will love all over you the moment you decide to come home.

 

Come home!

 

Next week, I plan on writing about the other brother.

 

Later

 

Adam

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Voices

 

“Why have you come down here, and with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness?” – 1 Samuel 17:28

 

“You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him, you are only a young man, and he a warrior from his youth.”  — 1 Samuel 17:33

 

“Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks? Come here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals.”  — 1 Samuel 17:43-44

 

There are so many voices that tell us what we can and can’t do.  The story of David and Goliath teaches us that the more things change, the more they say the same.  If you ever decide to step out on faith and trust God completely with your life, you will not lack for voices of opposition.  In the first verse I used, the voice was David’s own older brother, so he had opposition from his family.  The second voice was king Saul, so the government discouraged David from stepping out in faith.  The last one was from Goliath, his enemy . . . no surprise there.  There were literally no human voices encouraging David.

 

Yet, he believed God did and still could do the types of miracles He had done in the past.  He knew the story of Gideon.  He knew the story of Samson.  He knew that God was with those who dared to place their lives in His hands.  Armed with only a sling and 5 stones, God used David to triumph over the Philistine.

 

It is interesting how before I preach or write one of these WMD’s how I get bombarded with voices. “Nobody reads these things anyway.” “You didn’t prepare enough to preach.” “You’re not smart enough to preach.” “God is not with you.”  “These kids aren’t going to listen to you.”  It is all so crazy.  Fortunately, I have done it enough now that I have been given a great weapon of my own.

 

Right before I preach, I listen to those same voices.  Here lately they have become a lot less intimidating, because I know I’m about to use my weapon.  Right before I preach, I like to find me a little corner in the church, kneel down, and completely agree with a lot of what those voices say.  “Lord, I’m not smart enough, I don’t know that I have prepared like I should, I can’t make anybody listen . . . but I do trust you, and I love you.  Will you fill me with your Holy Spirit and use me?  Speak through me, Lord.”

 

Thank God my trust is not in myself . . . my trust is in Him.

 

Trust in Him today.

 

Later

 

Adam

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