1. You didn’t find salvation. Salvation found you. Romans 5:7-8 makes it very clear that when our thoughts were as far from God as the east is from the west, He loved us so much that he devised a plan to save us. This keeps us from becoming entitled. We love to point to today’s generation of youth and talk about how entitled they are…they want everything to be given to them. Perhaps that is true but the church has to make sure it isn’t doing the same thing. The youth aren’t the only ones suffering from the microwave mentality. We also are guilty of wanting our blessings immediately while avoiding pain indefinitely.
2. Just because we live under the New Covenant does not mean that the Old Testament is useless. As Jesus himself said, he did not come to destroy the law but fulfill it (Matt 5:17). Perhaps that’s too technical a verse, so consider the Old Testament as your former life before Christ. You tried to improve on your own (remember when the children of Israel begged for a king rather than be under God’s rule?). You tried to live by rules and rituals (see Leviticus) and you found accountability partners (try any of the books of the prophets), but only Christ could fill the void in your life. The Old Testament is just a reflection of what we are capable of when we run our own lives. To ignore it is to our own detriment.
3. Prosperity is more than houses, cars, and clothes. That’s the world’s definition of prosperity. Prosperity for the Christian goes way beyond material wealth. Prosperity according to the Bible is life-consuming. That means you are just as prosperous in your relationships as you are in material things. If you have the house, the car, and the clothes, but no one can stand being around you (including your spouse and your family)…that’s not the prosperity that God promised the seed of Abraham. That’s the prosperity that is making reality TV so popular because there is so much drama attached to it.
4. God judges your heart. Remember Matt 5:28? Jesus judged adultery not by the actual act, but by the person’s actual decision made to commit adultery in their heart. We sometimes put so much effort in our outward actions to be Christians that we forget to purify our hearts. A tree is known is by its fruit and that fruit will be eaten by others. If your core is nasty, your fruit will be nasty.
5. The devil is real. So perhaps at one time we did go a little overboard about demons and demonic possession and the kingdom of darkness, but don’t be deceived. The enemy is still on the job. Just because you don’t mention him or acknowledge him does not mean he doesn’t exist. He is still seeking to kill, steal and destroy and based on the state of today’s world, he is doing a good job of it. Ignore him at your own peril.
6. The Holy Spirit is not a sidekick. The Holy Spirit is your access to living life victoriously so if you just put it to the side because you think it is spooky, you give away your power. Go back and read John 16. The Holy Spirit is here to comfort you and teach you all things. The Holy Spirit is Jesus living within you. He will never leave you. He will always tell you the truth, and He will always guide you in the right direction.
7. We are not suppose to fit in. This one is really hurting the body of Christ, because somehow we have believed that the more worldly we look and sound the more the world will be attracted to us, but it is creating the opposite effect. Jesus made it clear. Be hot or cold, but not lukewarm. Lukewarm will definitely get you more followers on social media, but ultimately God is keeping tabs of how many followers you get for him. Remember, we are suppose to be royal, peculiar, and holy (1 Peter 2:9), not regular, popular, and hypocritical.
8. Jesus is suppose to be Lord of your life. This means he has total authority to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. I can personally testify on how easy it is to forget this. We live in a society when it is all about independence and living your life on your own terms. It is easy to accept Jesus as savior, but it is difficult to accept Jesus when he says take my yoke upon you (Mark 11:29-30). Who even uses the word ‘yoke’ anymore? Yet, this is the reality of being a Christian. You no longer have the right to run your own life and to pretend like you do is some kind of miserable. It will eventually wear you out because Jesus does not require your some. He requires your all.
9. We are suppose to tell others about Christ. It is actually a direct command (Matt 28:18-20). It is isn’t optional or relegated to members of the clergy. More importantly, it should be easy to talk to other people about your First Love. I have never had trouble telling strangers about my husband, Richard, but I have to admit, I have choked talking about Jesus. Really, there’s no excuse. I do have a great husband, but nothing compares to Jesus, right? So, why aren’t we sharing our faith more?
10. It’s not about us. It’s about Him. In John 12:32, Jesus says that if he is lifted up, he will draw all men unto him. This verse refers to Jesus’ crucifixion, but it is applicable to everything we see occurring in the world today. Divorce rates are sky high. Children are killing their parents. Homosexuality is the new normal. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Natural disasters are prevalent and the old are outliving the young at record rates. What’s the solution? Take another selfie? Build your own brand? I don’t think so. I think if we can just lift Jesus up through our words, our actions, our lifestyles and let him do the job he died to do, which is to draw all men towards him, we will see a lot of things change including ourselves.
Are you tired of being on the sidelines of everyone else’s happiness? Are you tired of watching friends and family members step out on their dreams and visions? Why not join them? You really want to be happy in 2013? Do it big. Don’t half-step, tip-toe, start and then stop. Do it big. Start this year off right and live your life with total effort.
You want to lose weight and work out? Do it big. Don’t wait to feel like it. Just get out there and start doing something if it is no more than walking 10 minutes a day.
You want to start a business? Make one phone call to one person that you know will hold you accountable. Start writing your vision even if you can’t see all the pieces.
You want to end a relationship that you know is unhealthy for you? Do it big. Make the call today. Don’t waste another moment of 2013 in an intimate relationship with someone who doesn’t value and respect you. Take a deep breath and make the call, write the letter, or send an email. I know this can be scary and emotions can run high but do you really want to go through what you just went through in 2012?
Doing it big doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be loud and flashy. It simply means that you don’t go into a decision half-heartedly in an attempt to give yourself a way out.
Trust me, I’ve done small for a long time because I was afraid of what people might think or what they might say about my decisions. I didn’t want to offend anyone with the “new” me so I did things in tiny increments in an attempt to not make a scene or draw attention to myself. But doing things small only hurt me. The more I focused on making people comfortable, the more uncomfortable I became. That’s because God never intended for us to live small. He’s a massive God and he wants his children to be massive-not in a boastful or prideful way but massive in a way that helps people and draws people to Him. When you do you in a big way, people are helped incredibly.
Think about it. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr lived in a big way. He didn’t quietly protest injustice from the comfort of his living room couch. Instead he used every form of communication he could utilize to preach, speak, write, and teach about the inequality of the Jim Crow south.
The great evangelist, Billy Graham, didn’t settle on waiting for the unsaved to visit his church so he could reach them. Instead he put up tents, rented out buildings, gymnasiums and eventually professional sporting arenas and traveled all over the world to win the lost to Jesus Christ.
When you do things gingerly, cautiously and with hesitation you hurt yourself because you were made to live life to the fullest. A lot of people’s unhappiness can be traced back to a half-hearted attempt that they gave to their marriage, their career, their studies and to God. You were made to do it big. Stop thinking. Stop complaining. Stop worrying. Stop hesitating. Stop calculating. Stop whining. Stop blaming. Start living. Get off the sidelines. Stop being a cheerleader for everyone else and DO IT BIG. It’s your day. It’s your season. It’s your year. Let’s go!
For a long time I have debated within myself about speaking out about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Afterall, I have friends that are bisexuals, gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals. I also spent quite a few years of my life trying to figure out my own sexuality and I did not want to seem hypocritical or condescending. Yet, I never set out to live a life that was perfect, popular or politically correct. I set out to live my life as a follower of Jesus Christ, and I have found no place in the Bible that supports same-sex marriage or homosexuality. Homosexuality as well as fornication as well as adultery, pornography, incest, and molestation are sexual perversions and deviations from God’s original plan. Regardless of how good, right, natural, accepting, and popular homosexuality, adultery or fornication seems to be, it is still sin. Homosexuality, adultery and fornication are destructive to the spirit, soul and body and they have the potential to destroy people, families, and nations.
Yet, the only thing I know that may be more destructive than sexual sin itself, is the way people who call themselves Christians treat people who struggle with sexual sin and I think this causes God just as much pain. In the Bible (John 8:1-11), when the people wanted to stone the woman who was caught in adultery, Jesus replied, “…he without sin, cast the first stone.” I think Christians need to remember this before stoning people with their words and judging people’s sexual behavior. After everyone had dropped their stones and left, Jesus said to her, “…go and sin no more.” He didn’t try to cast demons out of her. He didn’t tell her she couldn’t go to the temple until she was completely delivered. He didn’t read scriptures from the Torah about adultery. He didn’t tell her to grow her hair back, take off her earrings, or put on a longer skirt. He simply defended her from the people, released her from the guilt and shame that had been placed upon her and He acknowledged that she had sinned.
I can never really talk about that story without getting emotional. When I was struggling with my sexuality I carried so much shame, guilt, and pressure that I literally wanted to end my life to get away from the inner turmoil that I was experiencing. I can’t help but see myself as that lady caught in adultery, surrounded by angry onlookers ready to throw sharp and jagged stones at me for getting caught in the light for something I had done in the dark. To know that Jesus never had one intention of throwing anything at me but grace and mercy is overwhelming.
I think the Body of Christ has forgotten what it feels like to be absolutely guilty, on the brink of condemnation, but saved by Grace. If we really want to reach the lost, the hurting, the confused, we need to return to that place, where God met us, saved us, and pushed us forward to live.
Homosexuality, fornication, adultery, incest, molestation are wrong. Yet, only a person without sin has a right to cast a stone and The Person Without Sin chose not to.