A Challenge For Dads: You Are Not A Babysitter

Dad LogoI never used to pay very close attention to it until I started wanting kids, but some dads are jerks when they talk about their children.  I wish I could say it differently, but I can’t put in any other terms.  Some dads are absolute jerks.

Now as harsh as that sounds, I also believe that most men don’t want to be this way.  I truly believe in my heart of hearts that nearly every dad wants to be a good one, but they are stuck in old patterns they saw growing up or entrenched in bad habits they have created along the way.  As men we sometimes need to have things pointed out to us straight and clear.  My intention in this piece is to do that and hopefully challenge, encourage, and stir up a Godly desire to reengage with your family.

Here are a few of the biggest issues I see with dads today that need to be dealt with:

Dads That Refer To Their Child As “The Kid”

  • Example:  “Sorry boys I can’t play cards tonight, I gotta go pick up the kid now.”

First and foremost your child is a not a thing, an “it”, or a “the”.  They are your flesh and blood and who you love.  I know every man reading this would take a bullet for their child, but some dads aren’t around enough to even be in the line of fire if was needed!  All of us should know this, but as Christian men we should be keenly aware of the truth that God sees Himself as a Father.  Paul tell us in 2 Corinthians 6:18 “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”  If we are viewed by the Creator of all as a son and daughter in His family then we should see our children not as “the kid”, but as our son or daughter that we love and cherish.  Words are powerful so choose them wisely when referring to your family.

Dads That Won’t Change Diapers, Wipe Butts, Clean Up Puke, Or Get Dirty 

  • Example:  “Oh, I don’t do diapers.  That’s a mom’s job.”

Can I let you in on a little secret dads?  Your wife doesn’t get all geeked out about doing these things either.  She’s not secretly dreaming about being wrist deep in a huge naval to neck blowout poop from sweet potato baby food.  That isn’t on the “boy, I can’t wait until I have kids list”.  Here’s a hint, if you can gut a fish you can change a diaper.  If you can use a Port-O-Potty at an outdoor concert you can clean up poop.  If you can smear synthetic urine on your clothes and hide in a tree for for 4 hours to shoot a deer you’ve lured in you can clean up puke from the carpet.  Your wife needs you men and not just to open tight jar lids.  They need you in the middle of the battle with them.  Don’t be surprised if your wife isn’t all over you at night if you are no where to be seen during the day. Being a dad means getting dirty and being there for your kids.  They need to see a dad that is there in their worst and most vulnerable times, not just when they are getting the game ball after the t-ball game.

Dad’s Who Don’t Change Their Personal Schedule After They Have Children

  • Example:  “Honey, I’m sorry I can’t get home again tonight, I’ve got another Fantasy Football Draft.”

Men, if we want to be effective dads our schedules have to change.  That means we forfeit things that we used to do so that we can engage in things our kids need us to do.  I’m not saying don’t play softball anymore, I’m just saying don’t play on 10 softball teams anymore and travel to Texas every weekend for the “I Just Can’t Give Up The Glory Days Invitational”.  Your handicap in golf will go up, your bowling average will go down, your ability to read a bluff in poker will suffer, and your car will be less waxed, buffed, and shined, but your kids will know you love them and you will know your kids!  Equally as important is that your wife will see this sacrifice as well.  I’m pretty sure she wasn’t thrilled about getting stretch marks, gaining 50 pounds, and having her body chemistry go out of whack so clearly she’s personally sacrificed for the family and we should too.

Dads That Won’t Get Up

  • Example:  “Babe, I gotta work in the morning so I need my sleep.  You understand right?”

Being a parent doesn’t end when your head hits the pillow.  Especially if you have super little ones that get up in the night or even big ones that sometimes get up in the night.  Having a “The Office Is Closed” sign on your bedroom door just won’t cut it.  Our kids need us all the time.  Men we need to be the ones serving our families by taking our turns getting up at night.  Don’t let your wife be the one that has to figure out how to function on 2 hours of sleep every day.  Take the initiative and get up.  This also means that if you really liked to be a night owl before you had kids that’s going to have to change.  I’m not sure if you knew this, but our kids are awake during the day and need you during the day too.  So either get less sleep or get on normal human being sleep cycles to be there for your wife and children.

Dads That Say They Have To “Babysit Their Children”

  • Example:  “Yeah, I have to babysit the kids tonight so the wife can go out.”

The final one may irk me the most.  I hear dads all the time that say they have to “babysit their kids” when they get home.  Listen, a babysitter is a high school girl that you leave with your kids while you and your wife go on a date.  You tell them to eat whatever’s in the fridge, don’t invite boys over to make out with, and keep your kids safe.  You certainly don’t ask them to parent your kids or instill in them the values of life.  That’s OUR job to do that.  Yet, I know men that when they get home they might as well be a babysitter.  Inattentive, uninvolved, and unmotivated to be there with their kids.  Men, we are not babysitters we are fathers.  We need to step up and start raising our kids too.  We can’t put the parenting weight on the shoulders of our wives and then berate them later when our kids don’t respect us.  We need to be the men that are shoulder-to-shoulder with our wives teaching, loving, correcting, and raising Godly men and women.  It’s no wonder so many professional athletes thank their mom after the big play!

Please know that I am a jerk sometimes too.  As a dad, I screw up all the time.  I’ve recently been seeking God to help me become more patient, so clearly I’ve got my junk to deal with too.  What I can guarantee is that I am 100% in the fight with my family.  I realize we have only one chance at our kids being 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on.  I don’t want to ever look back and wish I would have been there to experience those times.

Men it’s time to get in the game and start leading our families. Take your kids on dates with just you.  Drive them to school and be late for work once and awhile.  Tuck them in bed and don’t worry if it takes a long time.  Honor their mom well and above all, tell them that you love them often.

Don’t just be a babysitter in their lives..be their dad.

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Spiritual Procrastination

beat_procrastinationAs a rule, I’m a pretty proactive person, but there are times that I procrastinate.

My nature is to get things done and move on, but from time to time things will sit unfinished or even unstarted.  I look at these things day after day and beat myself up inside saying “Why are you not just taking care of that? It’s right in front of but you still walk by it!”  There are a great number of things I dislike about myself, but this is near the top of the list right next to my lack of patience.

Yet when I do get my head out of my procrastination and get things done I feel better.  I feel like I’ve accomplished something.  I feel like my world is back in rhythm.  Now regardless of what kind of organizational mess you are, all of us can agree that the feeling of getting a task done is great.  No one ever walks away from doing something they were supposed to do in the first place and say “wow, I should have just ignored that longer.  Having that done just makes me feel worse about myself.”

That’d be crazy!

Now, a huge part of me wants to run home and start knocking out all the projects in the house I’ve been sitting on just so I can get a rush of “atta boy” in my system, but sadly I can’t do that now.  After all there’s always later.  :)

One area of life we really push to the “maybe later” category is our relationship with God.  There is a spiritual procrastination within us all that will deprioritize God so low that He sometimes falls off the To Do List all together.  The reasons for this vary and often looks like one of these:

  • Sometimes we feel like we’ve neglected Him so long that there is no salvaging the relationship.
  • Other times we see that our relationship with God isn’t that bad compared to other people so we figure it can hold up a little longer until we get some “free time”.
  • Others will go so far as to say that God is an unnecessary waste of time and energy because He may not even really exist so why bother?

All of these thoughts are simply different degrees of spiritual procrastination and all find their root in the Evil one.  Satan usually doesn’t have to work to hard to keep us normal people away from God.  All he needs is to make us feel a little more tired, a little more stressed, or plant a simple thought in our mind and we are sprinting away from God justifying our retreat all the way.

However, Jesus talks with much more urgency about our spiritual life.  In fact he may even come across as down right pushy if you don’t know His heart.  Listen to what He has to say in the Book of Revelation.

“Behold, I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” – Revelation 22:7

“Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” – Revelation 22:12-13

“Yes, I am coming soon.” – Revelation 22:20

I have this little rule of thumb when it comes to reading the Bible.  When I see an exclamation point I stop and read it again because it must mean something important.  When I see Jesus using exclamation points I stop and read it twice because He doesn’t use them often so it must be really important.  That’s why when Jesus says I am coming!” I realize that His urgency is pointed towards me and I need to do something with what He said.

Now I could always follow my natural human nature and just wait to act because after all it’s been 2000 years since He died and He hasn’t come back yet so chances are I’ve go time.   Or I could stop dancing in the fire and decide I need to believe His return is real and be prepared.  In other wrods I need to consider my eternal reality and make sure my life is matching up with the God I claim to know and love.

We all must realize that our current life is only the opening act for our eternal life, but it’s this life that will dictate what our life on the other side looks like.   I pray we all feel the urgency of what Christ says and realize He IS coming…soon!  If we believe that, then  getting our spiritual affairs in order becomes much more important that cleaning out the garage so our golf clubs are off the ground.  Don’t allow spiritual procrastination to hold you back from the love and grace Jesus is offering and begin living in His truth now!

Trust me the feeling of getting this taken care of will be the greatest sense of accomplishment you’ve ever felt!

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My Jealous God

MyJealousGod-EverythingAboutYou-BE-12-Label-AIf you’ve been in the Christian world for very long you probably have heard this phrase before.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

Now that seems to make sense if you’re sitting in a church service and a pastor or priest tells you that.  After all you’re in God’s house so why would you offend the Host by saying otherwise?! I  mean just out of common courtesy you’d agree!

That could be the easiest way to get a lighting bolt between the eyes if you ask me.  It would be like telling your grandma you didn’t like her pumpkin pie right in front of your mom. You may get the words out of your mouth, but you are sure to get a handprint on your booty from mom after you do and a mouth full of that pie you all of a sudden really “like.”

Now if this was just a pastor’s one line sermon that he crafted to drive home his point about commitment and dedication to God then I would be ok with nodding your head and forgetting it as you drove home.  Heck, I even come up with lines like these for sermons and I don’t remember most of mine for heavens sake!  But what if I told you this was more than a sermon in a sentence kind of deal?  Would it mean more?  Would you take it to heart more?  Would it change how you felt about God?

The words we just read were said by Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but they date back even earlier than Jesus’ time on earth.  You see these words are part of a promise given to the people of Israel by Moses after being freed from Egyptian slavery.  Remember, “let my people go!”, Charlton Hesston, and the Red Sea miracle deal?  Yeah, back then.

“The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4) was actually part of a daily prayer ritual the Jewish people performed called the Shema.  In fact, some families would choose these words as the first Scripture their children would learn and would recited the Shema at a minimum of 2 times daily.  Yet we see this idea of loving God singularly used by Jesus, Peter, and Paul throughout the New Testament so clearly God intended this to continue into the Christian faith and stay central to His teachings.

But why?

Why is it so important to “Love the Lord your God” and to do so with what appears to be everything part of who you are?  The answer is really within the prayer itself.

#1 “The Lord our God, the Lord is one” – The beginning of this prayer establishes the most important aspect of our relationship with God in that we should have no other God except him.  This idea is established in the first Law of the 10 Commandments when it says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)  This idea of worshipping one God has a fancy theological term for it called monotheism and is central to the teaching of Christianity. (If nothing else you just got a great word for Words With Friends later) This is so important because as Christians we are called to not muddy our spiritual waters with other gods spiritual or natural alike.  If we believe who Jesus is then we have made ourselves exclusively His and all other gods get the boot.

#2 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” – The second part of this prayer gives us the expectation God has for our relationship with him.  In a crude way this is the job description for being a Christian.  When we decide to join “Team Jesus” the stakes are high and the expectations are higher.  You see the proof of whether or not the first part of this prayer is true is found in if you are able to do the second part.  If God is your only God then you are left with nothing else but to give him everything you have.  After all if you have one option who else could you give yourself too?  However, too often we don’t give God everything we have, but rather the low hanging fruit, the easy stuff, the stuff we need help with, or the stuff that is leftover after we get in all the sinning we can.  The truth is that we serve other gods like our jobs, hobbies, and addictions and in so doing splinter our worship.  However, what happens to us when we do give Him our heart, soul, mind, and strength is that we start to come alive.  When our spirit is no longer divided, we become laser locked on the things of God it becomes easy to relinquish our self to Him.

God makes no bones about the fact that he is a “jealous God” (Exodus 20:5) and that jealous God wants all of you.  However our view of jealously and God’s is much different.  We see jealous as the creepy ex-boyfriend who wouldn’t stop texting you to see where you were all the time.  God see’s jealousy as someone that is protective and so loving that they don’t want anything to hurt them or distract them from His love for them.

I’m glad we have a God that wants that type of relationship with us because if he was ambivalent about his feelings toward us I’d be more concerned.  If God changes his feelings towards me as easy as the wind blows I’d feel pretty uneasy about my eternity with Him.  But a God that sets up high expectations and exclusivity with Him in return is one that I want to know and be loved by.  That is a powerful feeling of love that only our God can provide and sustain.

So the next time you hear someone talk about loving the Lord your God with all your heart lean in and smile because that may just be a little Shema-kiss from God telling you He loves you.

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The Church According To Voltron

voltron-1Growing up I used to watch this cartoon called Voltron.  It was kind of a hybrid of Transformers and Battle Cats, but in the show these space explorer guys would fight intergalactic battles by taking there tiger looking robots and combining them together to make one giant butt kicking robot.  One robot would be the foot, one robot the arm, another would make up the body and so on, but the power of Voltron was found when all of them worked together to make this unstoppable robot stud.  On top of that, the huge robot had this gigantic sword, which pretty much would dominate anything that came into it’s path so this dude was really rad to say the least.

Yep, I just said “rad”!

Now how in the world does this have to do with anything spiritual?

Glad you asked…keep reading and no I’m not starting a new cult or something.

As I was reading the other day I think that Paul was a Voltron fan before it even was a show.  Check this out and see if you see it too.

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12: 4-8

Paul is reminding us that the church should actually look like Voltron!  You see each of us has certain abilities that when used together with the abilities of others create the most powerful church possible.  The body of Christ is the healthiest and most effective when it has it’s parts working together for one common purpose not when individuals do their own thing with their own power.

Ok, let’s get passed the retro-cartoons and cut to the real message here.

All of us have been given abilities by God not just to differentiate ourselves from one another, but also to compliment and strengthen one another.  We believe this in college group projects, team sports, and even in our marriages, but somehow we fail to think that the church could be wired that way too.  It’s our default to think that somehow the pastor or the people working at the church are the ones that make up the church of Voltron, but in reality we are simply parts of the bigger body too!

As the pastor of a church you need to hear me loud and clear.

THE CHURCH NEEDS YOU!

Now I don’t mean that in a begging way that makes the church look desperate and you look like Super Volunteer with a cape swooping in to save the day.  I say that because the church needs all of us working together regardless of our God given talent to have the biggest impact on the world.  That means that if you are a plumber by trade the church needs you.  That means if you are single mom the church needs you.  That means if you are a tech geek the church needs you.  That means if you are a coach of a co-ed, golden retriever, juggling team the church needs you.

I agree that not all of us have been called to teach and preach.  I wasn’t called to do a lot of things like male modeling for example and I’m ok with it…now.  Never feel like your ability or your gifting isn’t “good enough” to be used by God.  For crying out loud God used fishermen and tax collectors to be his first disciples and start his church so clearly the bar started low!

Here are my 3 key takeaways from this idea of the Church of Voltron:

  1. Join a church because God desires it for you.
  2. Get involved and get connected.
  3. Jump into an area and if it doesn’t work keep diving in until you find a fit.

Listen, I know that being in a church can be draining and, depending on where you are at,  overwhelming.  However, what I do know is that it’s the best headache you’ll ever be a part of in your life.  Yes you are working with people that have attitudes, brokenness, and pride issues which may drive you nuts, but think about what God deals with on a daily basis with us and realize we aren’t always a treat to deal with either.  Keep in mind that the reason the Church of Voltron works is so the biggest impact can be made for the Kingdom of God not the kingdom of me.  God is most pleased when his children work together for His glory and His church works together to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Being a part of that is a powerful thing and the most rewarding thing you will ever be a part of.

Remember: You are always more effective working together than by yourself.

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Jesus Is Not A Fan Of Burger King

burger-king-kingI love when things go my way.

That’s probably why I like Burger King so much since you can have things “your way” there!  Ok, so I really can’t stand Burger King, but work with me.

If my brothers are reading this blog they most likely are smiling and shouting AMEN no matter where they are.  They had to grow up with a selfish punk older brother like me who probably made their life brutal because of my need to have things my way.  As the first born I was the one that got to do things first, get the new stuff, and choose the path that the rest of us went down.  It wasn’t my parents fault because I’m sure I am doing this with my first born too!  As it stood I got to do pretty much anything I wanted because we had no experience to say if it was a good or bad decision!  So to Brad and Brandon, I’m sorry boys.  Hope I can make it up to you somehow, but only when it fits in my schedule. :)

In all seriousness, all of us have this desire to have things our way regardless of birth order.  We want life to happen when we want it and how we want it.  Every single one of us could run the company more efficient than our boss, we could parent better than that mom over there, we could organize the practice schedule better than the coach, and we certainly should earn more money because we clearly do more than anyone else we work with.

Deeply woven within the frayed human fabric is an instinct to make things as easy as possible, most enjoyable, and most fitting into our needs over anyone else’s.   The thought of putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own makes as much sense as buying a fur coat in Hawaii for winter.

However, from time to time this selfish shell cracks just a tad and shows what could be in the human spirit.  We see it in the man who steps into the biker fight to save a family’s life.  It’s the policeman who gives his shoes to the homeless man.  It’s the woman that stops her car and saves a truck driver from a burning big rig.  Occasionally we see what could be, but quickly that window gets clouded over by the cataracts of selfishness again.

Thankfully Jesus wouldn’t have liked Burger King because he didn’t have to have things “His way” while he walked this earth.

Jesus was teaching his disciples one day and told them that he “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)  His entire ministry was about putting others before himself and ultimately giving his life up for them.

Yet in the garden of Gethsemenie we see one of the greatest examples of Jesus’ humanity for us to relate to and his strength for us to hold on to.  To set the scene, Jesus’ death is immanent.  He has made his way to Jerusalem, has entered the gates to people’s praise, ate his last meal with his disciples, and now is praying in the garden before he is to be murdered on the cross.  However, in the middle of this chaotic moment of calmness before the storm He stops to pray.  It’s in this time of prayer that we find this personal connection with Jesus.

 “Abba Father, he said, “everything is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.” (Mark 14:36a)  This is where our humanity and Christ’s humanity match up.  Just as Jesus didn’t want to suffer and die on the cross we’d prefer not to suffer in our life either.  We ask God to take things away in our life all the time, but where our humanity skews from Christ is when God’s answer is “no”.  When God doesn’t take the illness, when he doesn’t make her love you back, and when the kids still walk away that is when our “I want it my way” attitude invades our spirit and poisons us.  Praise God that is not what Jesus demonstrated to us in his life and this prayer to the Father.

Jesus finishes, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36b)

He realizes that his Father’s way is ultimately what will be done and what needs to be done.  The salvation of all mankind hinged on this moment and God had to allow it to happen.  Jesus selflessly put our eternal existence ahead of his pain and laid down his life so that we would not have to feel the sting of death.

As Christians our response to Jesus’ gift of salvation must go beyond just accepting eternal life.  It has to transcend into the way we live our life.  I pray that we all can slowly let go of the white-knuckle grip we have on wanting things our way and place others ahead of our self.  Ironically, this selfless way of living will always leave us feeling more satisfied than the wrinkle free, perfectly cooked, puppies and ponies life we think we want.

Find ways each and every day to set your needs on the shelf and give first priority to someone else around you.  You’ll be surprised to see how easy they are to find!  Give of yourself and in doing so you will find you are gaining more of who you were meant to be.

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Why Slavery Can Never Die

slavery-abolition-unOn December 6, 1865 the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified abolishing slavery.  In it are these words, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  Fought for by President Abraham Lincoln, this landmark decision set in motion an assurance of freedom for all people within the United States of America.

Today we still believe in the principles of this amendment with every fiber of our being. Gone are the days of debate on the Senate and Congressional floors to the validity of this truth.  To say otherwise would be considered madness.

However, in the United States the vial act of slavery still exists in a modern form.  Sex trafficking and human sex slavery has begun to poison our society.  Perhaps more accurately depicted, it has surfaced like a perverted submarine and we are now unable to ignore it.  Human trafficking is an enormous global business, but just in the United States alone it generates $9.5 billion annually.   Millions of women and children are held against their will in terrible conditions and forced to do unthinkable acts as slaves to their violent pimps.  We may not want to think about it but slavery still exists and you can help by supporting organizations like Transitions Global and being their voices when it seems they have none.

Yet as our fight against modern slavery persists there is a deeply rooted voluntary slavery within us all that will never die.  We instantly ascribe slavery to an involuntary state of bondage, but there is a version of slavery that each of us chooses every second of every day.

Paul spells out this type of voluntary slavery very clearly in Romans 6.

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:15-18

“Slave” in the Greek is the word douleuō which, when used as a positive metaphor, means “to yield to, or give one’s self up to.”   This is a rich reality we all live in.  Although all of us want to believe we aren’t slaves to anything and are free to do what we want when want, we all voluntarily give ourselves up to something every day.

Each of us chooses a version of slavery every day.

Choosing to be a slave to sin makes it our master and, as a result, we suffer through the effects of that decision.  Sin will pimp us out and make us justify, lie, and empty ourselves of everything good we know to maintain the sinful spiritual high.  Crashing down off these highs leaves us lower than we ever have felt before.  Depression, embarrassment, and frustration meet us at the bottom of a pit as we realize our sinful master has no desire to love or help, but only to kill the very essence of life within us.

We do have the freedom to choose another master though.

When we give ourselves up to Christ and become a slave to righteousness an amazing thing happens.  The deeper we submit and yield to Christ the greater our freedom becomes.  Choosing to become a slave to the life Christ desires for us through His grace creates an eternal lifting of our spirit and gives us a new heart beating for something new.  Our heart no longer races for the next sinful high, but it finds contentment in the peaceful Shalom of God.  It’s as if our spiritual taste buds change and our spirit craves all the righteous and is repulsed by the junk food of sin.

It is 100% our choice what we are enslaved to.  With every breath we take we can choose righteousness that brings life or sin that rots our soul.  But don’t believe for a second that just because you are a slave to sin now that God can’t break you free.  The grace of Christ is available to everyone regardless of where they currently are to take them to where they belong.

Just think about it this for a second.

If we had the same feeling in our gut about sin as we did sex trafficking of a 12-year-old girls how different would our lives look?  If we reacted as aggressively to our sin as we would knowing someone was locked in an apartment and forced to do unthinkable acts how would your world be different?  What would our lives look like if we saw sin as the dark, damp, nasty brothel it is?

Keep that feeling inside of you as you choose your master tomorrow.  Don’t let sin keep your life in bondage any more.  Become a slave to Christ and discover a freedom you never dreamed possible.

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Thanks For Nothing Mom & Dad!

Thanks For NothingThere are some things in life we  take on the chin as dumb stuff we have done.  We can’t point the finger of blame at anyone else but us for dating that girl, having that one last drink, or agreeing to that Papa Smurf cheek tattoo.  Hand in the air…that’s on us.

However, there are a few things we can thank mom and dad for.  I’ve got a hair line that screams “Thanks Dad!”  I’m sure a few of you ladies out there are just “thrilled” that your mom blessed you with an awesome set of cankles.  I know guys are thrilled that the 3 chins they are rocking was a gift from their Pops and short of a Groupon facelift falling from the sky they are stuck with rolling with those rolls.

Adam and Eve, our often forgotten mom and dad, left us some treats that we didn’t have any control over too.  What they left us was far worse than a Lipitor prescription for genetically high cholesterol because what they left us has eternal side effects.

God originally created the world to live in harmony and relationship with Him.  His design was to be in perfect union with God free of all the trappings this world currently has to offer.  He gave one rule to our first parents which seemed very straight forward and specific.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil for when you eat of it you will surely die.’” Genesis 2:16

Not to much gray area there.  To borrow a line my father-in-law used to say to his kids before entering a store with breakable things, “Don’t touch things you don’t know about.”  That is what God was telling Adam and Eve.  Just don’t touch things you don’t know about.

Well that didn’t last long especially when Satan entered the picture.

On a stroll through the Garden of Eden one day Satan appears to the couple and leads them over to the forbidden tree.  He slinks and lurks around the tree and tries to poke around at why this perfect couple doesn’t want to anything to do with this seemingly perfect tree.

In Genesis 3:1, he asks Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must no eat from any tree in the garden?’”  As if to plant a bit of seed of his own in her spirit to see what would grow.

Now pay close attention because we are getting close to the gift from first our parents.

“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”  Genesis 3:2

Satan tries to reassure her that the fruit is truly good to eat and in fact is better than anything they’ve ever eaten in the garden!  He tells them that God is actually holding out on them and that if they eat this fruit they will become “like God”.  Although I think the real first mistake is Eve twisting God’s words, we see that she gets caught up in the beauty of the fruit and loses sight of the beauty of God.  We read “she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6)

In that moment balloons fall from the sky, confetti cannons explode, streamers shoot out and the trumpets sound because right there before us lies our gift.  A piece of fruit rolling on the ground with two simple bite marks out of it, but with massive eternal consequences.  The decision to disobey God by Adam and Eve is the gift of sin, the fracture in the universe, the source of the Grand Canyon that lies between man and God.  This gift is what has caused, disease, pain, suffering, and death.  It has caused insecurity, fear, loneliness, and depression.  It is the source of war, famine, and divorce.  It is the source of all evil and everything that is wrong in our world.  All of it can be traced back to this one moment in time.

Now before you walk away and feel helpless to this situation we need to be careful.

Although we did not ask Adam and Eve to sin and screw everything up, we are not innocent bystanders to sin.  Just as Eve was not forced to eat the fruit by Satan but was simply tempted to eat the fruit, so too are we tempted to the sinful fruit of this world but not forced to partake.  God’s design always had free will within the blueprints so that we could willing choose between sin and His love.  When we choose sin over God we run from the love the brings us life and fall headlong into the effects of sin.

However, God’s love of creation did not stop when the fruit fell to the ground and began to blacken with decay in the garden.  In fact a new Godly plan was being designed called “salvation” and it began unfolding at that very moment.  This plan would cost God his only Son, but would provide a way, the only way, for His children to come back to Him.  Through Jesus Christ we are able to return the gift of sin given to us by our first parents and trade it in for the gift God had always wanted us to have.  God’s gift of life.  This gift gives us a life meant to be lived to the full.  This life is free of the pain, sorrow, and death.  This life is steaming with joy, peace, patience, and love.  This life is unable to feel the decay that sin always provides when we give in to its tempting offers.

So although we can say “Thanks for nothing” to our first parents Adam and Eve, perhaps we should be more focused on saying “Thanks for everything” to our Heavenly Father.

I’d say that would bear us better fruit.

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