Attention Christians: Stop doing this!

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Christians have a problem. We tend to put ourselves in the middle of every debate, every issue, every situation whether it is our business or not. I think we’re well-intentioned in doing so, but we bring a lot of unnecessary grief and heartache upon us in the process.

Meddle is defined as “interfere in or busy oneself unduly with something that is not one’s concern.”  I know many Christians who have spent seemingly unending hours, and dollars as activists for various causes. Men and women who take a certain political stand on government-funded health care, or marriage rights, or refugees entering the country, or whatever the cause of the day happens to be.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t get involved in our political process. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t vote. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned about the world around us. I’m not saying we should support issues that go against God’s teaching.

What I am saying is that far too many Christians spend all their time meddling in the affairs of the world when we should be taking care of the business that God left us to do! We are called to pray for the sick in faith (James 5:15). Does that responsibility change if we have single payer healthcare or not? God teaches us that he wants us to pray for those who are in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Does this change our responsibility if our favorite choice isn’t in office? God wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). Does gay marriage or transgender bathrooms change that desire? Jesus expects us to baptize and make disciples of “all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Does refugee status change that command?

We need to be busy with the work of God’s kingdom, not the arguments of this world. It’s fine to have an opinion, and to even voice that opinion, but please don’t do so in a way that makes the Gospel unattractive to outsiders! If more Christians would be about the work of the Kingdom, and not consumed with the work of Washington, this world would be a much better place!

via Daily Prompt: Meddle

3 Ways To Not Be Overwhelmed

Today has been overwhelming.  This whole week has been overwhelming, actually. It has been a big week at work, yesterday was my birthday, I had a big meeting last night, I have a big weekend ahead of me, and I have to prepare for being away from work Monday.

It is so easy to look at our surroundings, circumstances, goals, workload and quickly become overwhelmed. But that’s just what Satan hopes we do. He wants us focused on the here and now, and not on the eternal. Here’s three quick tips to keep focused and not be overwhelmed.

  1. Trust God –  John 14:1 says “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”  It’s easy to believe that God is not active in our lives, or that he simply doesn’t exist…especially when we face tough times. But Jesus knew we would face those situations, so he reminds us to believe in God, believe in Him, and to trust that they are in control.
  2. Trust His Promises – 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us “You have never been tempted to sin in any different way than other people. God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted more than you can take. But when you are tempted, He will make a way for you to keep from falling into sin.”  We’re not told that it will be easy…it won’t. And we are never promised that we won’t fail…because we will. But we have the promise that we are able to withstand the situations we face with God’s help. And that can be an enormous source of comfort.
  3. Trust His Salvation – Acts 4:12 states “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  When we are tempted to look for a solution to our problems, look no further than Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the author and perfecter of our salvation. When life becomes a challenge, run toward Him!

Pray for God’s guidance in the difficult situations. Look to Him as a source of hope, and encouragement. He is faithful, and will never let you down.

I’ll be preaching this Sunday morning at East Side in Synder, TX. If you’re in the area, come on out and say hi! I’d love to meet you in person. Blessings on you this weekend!

via Daily Prompt: Overwhelming

This One Thing Can Change Your Life Forever!

I hate being told to that I need to change.

I’d much rather have someone tell me that I’m doing everything perfect rather than telling me that something needs to change. In the minds of most people, “change” is always negative, but “do” is new, positive, improved. “Do” is good.

My wife and I were talking just last night about a situation where some people we know are having trouble with change. They are so paralyzed by fear of doing something different that they are missing out on a huge opportunity.

Change is hard. We get comfortable seeing our lives, our jobs, our faith, our way of doing things a certain way. So much so that when new information is introduced, we often struggle to make changes. We cling to what is familiar, and distance ourselves from a new, better way of doing things.

At least we have the comfort of knowing that we are not alone in this struggle. It’s been happening for a very long time. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a group of Christians in Rome who were dealing with the same thing. Here’s what he said:

Romans 12:2 – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Paul knew that this one change could affect every area of their lives. In short, he’s calling these Christians to be different.

Jesus tells us that the world is a messed up place that tries to get us to be just as messed up. So when we keep doing the same things the world does, when we keep handling situations the way the world does, we become just as messed up.

If you only take away one thing from this post, remember this:

Doing what you’ve always done gets you what you’ve always gotten.

So take a look at your life. Is it chaotic? Are choices you’ve made coming back to haunt you? Are things you planned not quite working out the way you wanted? At the end of the day do you just want to throw your hands up and think “What’s the point?”

If so, it’s time for a change. Learning to think about things the way God does can change every aspect of your life, as long as you will let yourself be different.

This post is part of a series of posts every day this week. To see the other posts on this same subject see these links:

 

Favoritism in Church: Is it really a problem?

Yesterday we looked at how Christians are called to be different, and that being different when compared to the world is a good thing. Every day this week we’ll be looking at examples that Jesus and his followers left us of just how different we are supposed to be in this world.

Today we look at both the early church, and the modern church. James, Jesus’ brother, gives us a view of how the early church struggled with this very thing. Apparently the early Christians were treating some of their members and visitors in a way that God didn’t appreciate. Here’s what he has to say:

James 2:3-4 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well,doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Now to fully understand what was going on here, we have to understand where these Christians were coming from. Virtually all of them were Jewish converts, and as such carried their Jewish customs into their new Christian faith.

If we look at the example of the temple worship, it was all about people being treated differently. Only the high priest was allowed in the Most Holy Place once a year. There were other sections of the temple where only priests could go. There were areas where only men could be present. There were areas where only ethnic Jews (non-Gentiles) could worship. There were areas where Gentiles could be present. And the ceremonially unclean could not be present.

Additionally it would seem that worshippers were treated differently based on how they prayed in public, as well as the offerings they gave. This was common practice.

And in many ways it still is. Men and women aren’t allowed to sit together in some synagogues. And other synagogues today where you sit depends on how much you can pay.  This practice of treating people in an uneven way was very common.

As James tells us, Christians should be different! We are not supposed to show favoritism!

James 2  – Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin…

I think churches still struggle with this. In most Sunday morning gatherings one can look around and see far more similarities than differences. Everyone has about the same income. Everyone dresses about the same way. Everyone looks about the same.

What James was calling the early church to do, and what we as a modern church are still being called to do, is to not be afraid to take the Gospel to those who are different. Yes, it’s easier to share our faith with the people we spend the most time with…the people who tend to be the most like us. But we are to treat everyone as if they have equal value to God. Because they do!

This is different. And Christians are called to be different. In a world that thrives on labels: outcasts, awkward, rich, poor, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, liberals, conservatives, gay, straight, black, white…it shouldn’t matter. EVERYONE needs the Gospel, and needs to feel welcome in our assemblies because every person we meet is a child of God, and he wants his love and his message and his salvation to reach everyone.

It’s time to be different. It’s time for each of us to share the Gospel, and to share it with everyone.

Don’t Make This Mistake Today!

Have you ever wondered why people are afraid of being different?

How boring would this world be if we were all the same?

If we all had the exact same abilities, and all had the same areas of deficiency, what would this world look like?

The same is true of the church.

The apostle Matthew tells us about Jesus’ thoughts on being different.

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

Cannot be hidden…yet too often we try to hide. We are called to be a bright light in a dark world, but we try to cover our light. A city perched on a hilltop for all to see, but we often try to camouflage who we truly are.

Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t try to hide!

Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

We are called to be different. We are called to stand out. We are called to shine our lights so bright that people will take notice of how different we truly are called to be as Christians.

This week we’ll be looking at examples that Jesus and his followers left us of just how different we are supposed to be in this world.

In the meantime, don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to stand out.

Don’t be afraid to shine!

Picture by Stefano Cacciatore