Monday, March 25, 2013

The Cross-Examination

My friend who is color blind told me, “I have no idea what the color green looks like.”  I pointed at some grass and asked, “What color is that to you?”  He said, “It looks yellow to me.”  It dawned me that the world I had seen all my life was not the same world that he had seen.  Some people are also “color blind” when it comes to what they see on the cross.  They don't really see what happened there.  If you will do a cross-examination…

1) …You will see a King dying for you.  One of the thieves crucified next to Jesus said to Him, “Remember me in your kingdom."  He saw Jesus was King reigning over a Kingdom, and it was in the next life, not on earth.  Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)  When you examine the cross, do you see a King dying there?  

2) …You will see your sins placed on Jesus.   1 Pet. 2:24 says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.”  Who is “our”?  Yours and mine.  Something happened on the cross that couldn’t be seen with your physical eyes.  All the sins of the world were placed inside Jesus in a moment of time.  

3) …You will see the blood of Jesus cleansing you from all your sins.  1 John 1:7 says, “The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  All of your sins were placed upon Him, and you cannot get into heaven unless all your sins are forgiven. If you get an ink stain on your shirt, the way to get it clean is by putting a chemical on it that’s stronger than the ink. The blood of Jesus is the only thing that’s stronger than your sin, and is the only thing that can cleanse you spiritually. 

4) …You will see a gift that needs to be received.  Eph. 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves. It is God’s gift.”  Even though Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, it does not mean everyone will go to heaven. Salvation is available to everyone, but it must be received.

If I buy you a $10,000 gift and hold it out to give it to you, only one thing is left before it becomes yours.  You must receive the gift.  Even though it’s paid for, it’s not yours until you reach out and take it. John 1:12 says, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”  Do you see what happened on the cross?

Coming April 30, 2013: Slaying Your Giants by Kent Crockett (Hendrickson Publishers) 

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Glasses You Wear

Why do people look at the same situation and see something different? It’s because of the glasses they wear. Suppose three people wearing different colored sunglasses all look at the same white piece of paper lying on a table. The one wearing pink glasses sees the paper as pink, the person with yellow glasses views yellow, and the one wearing blue glasses sees blue. When asked to explain what they see, they argue about the true color of the paper.

They each view the paper as a different color because they look through different glasses. Because they are looking through colored lenses, it filters the way they perceive the paper so they can’t see it as white. The same principle applies to the way we view life. The sinful attitudes in our hearts turn into the “colored lenses” that distort our perspectives.

Unfortunately, not all glasses are rose-colored. Negative people view their world through pessimist glasses. Restless people constantly search for greener grass because they look through discontentment glasses. People who imagine that others avoid them wear rejection glasses. Inferiority glasses make people see themselves in a self-destructive way. Envy glasses will make you upset when others appear to have more, while jealousy glasses make you suspicious and controlling.
A warped outlook on life creates conflict with others, causes us to sink into depression, views others suspiciously, and even makes us hate ourselves. Self insists on seeing everything through its own dogmatic point of view. “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives” (Proverbs 16:2). The only way to remove your tinted glasses is by correcting the sinful attitude in your heart. You can take off your glasses by praying:
“Lord, I realize that I have (name the wrong attitude) in my heart. I realize that this sin is distorting my perspective and is (destroying my marriage, creating tension, etc.). I repent of this sin and will not let it ruin my life anymore. I choose to see my situation from your perspective, not mine. Amen.”

(Note: This is an excerpt from my book, I Once Was Blind but Now I Squint. It is out of print, but many of the chapters are including in my book Slaying Your Giants, which will be released April 30, 2013.)

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Dog Named Snapper

When I worked at Brewton-Parker College in Georgia, a skinny stray dog wandered around the campus. Students fed it scraps from the cafeteria. Every night it slept in the bushes next to the building where I worked. A too-tight collar around his neck clearly hadn’t been loosened since it was smaller. He limped, holding his back leg, having obviously been abused by a previous owner. Whenever someone tried to pet him, the dog would snap back to keep them away. One of the secretaries in our building named him Snapper.

As it neared Christmas one year, the college would be closed for two weeks and no one would be on campus to feed Snapper. The secretary felt sorry for him, so she got someone to force Snapper into the back seat of her vehicle and she drove him home.

When school restarted a couple of weeks later, the secretary ran up to me and excitedly said, “You wouldn’t believe how Snapper has changed! At first he wouldn't let me get near.  But I just kept feeding him and talking to him nicely...and he finally quit snapping at me. Now he wags his tail and is excited to see me!”

What caused the dog to change? She refused to react to Snapper’s behavior and kept showing him love. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…and just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way….expect nothing in return and your reward will be great.” (Luke 6:27,31,35).

Who is snapping at you? If a dog can change when it is treated with kindness, those who snap back at you can change too. If you will look past their anger and let God’s love flow, He will soften their hearts. They might even quit their snapping and start wagging.

Prayer: “Lord, the next time I encounter a difficult person, give me a heart of compassion and let your supernatural love flow through me. Amen.”

Coming in April 2013: Slaying Your Giants by Kent Crockett (Hendrickson Publishers) 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Building Your Own Church

A Jew, a Catholic, and two Baptists were shipwrecked on a deserted island. The Jew built a synagogue. The Catholic built a Catholic church. The two Baptists built First Baptist Church and Second Baptist Church!

Some people just can't get along with others.  They are offended by the smallest things.  They can’t tolerate anyone who doesn’t think exactly like them, so they pull away and live in their own little world.  Perhaps someone at church hurt them, so now they stay home, watch a TV preacher, and worship at home in the church they build for themselves.  They don’t realize that Satan has them right where he wants them.

The problem with the “worship by yourself” church is God calls us to be a member of the body of Christ, which means we must gather together to make this happen.  Hebrews 10:26 says to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”  When you withdraw yourself, God cannot use you to help others.  How can you involve yourself again with others?

1.Find the church that is preaching and living God’s Word.
Perhaps you are turned off by those churches that are just religious systems. Yes, there are a lot of really bad churches out there that I would never recommend to anyone, but there are also some really good churches that are doing a lot of good things.  Don’t let the bad churches keep you from the good one where God wants you to get involved.  It doesn’t have to be a large church, where you can get lost in the crowed.  It can be a small gathering.  Remember that no church is going to perfect, so don’t expect perfection.

2.Forgive those who have hurt you.  
If you have never been hurt by someone at church, then you have never been to church before!  Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.  Don’t let an offense keep you from fulfilling your destiny.  Forgive the person who hurt you and let it go.  Forgiving others is one of the greatest things you can do as a Christian.  When you forgive others, God will reward you for doing it.

3.Agree to disagree.
We need to agree on the doctrinal foundations of the faith, but give liberty to disagree on the non-essential issues.  Romans 14:5 says, “One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike.  Let each man be convinced in his own mind.”  Paul is giving permission to disagree in opinions and both people can still be right—if they will keep their hearts right. We can be brothers without being twin brothers. Col. 3:14 says, "Put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity."

We can’t let our differences and offenses keep us from doing our part in the body of Christ.  If we do, everyone will end up building their own church.

Coming in April 2013: Slaying Your Giants by Kent Crockett (Hendrickson Publishers)