Bare Feet on Hot Pavement

barefootHere in the Baton Rouge area, there is a water park named Blue Bayou, which offers season passes to ease the annual Christmas present buying conundrum for grandparents and the “This house is so boring” conundrum for parents of willfully malliterate children during the summer. Last summer, as I was accompanying my kids, we met up with my son’s friend and he joined us for the day. There was only one problem: he left his shoes at the first ride. As we moved farther and farther from that first ride and as the sun rose higher and higher in the sky, the pavement got hotter and hotter. I must say, he was quite skilled at running full speed from grass to grass, small puddle to small puddle, in his attempts to keep his feet from reaching a good, Cajun blackened status.

My life, at times, feels like this exercise in self-preservation. Running barefoot on hot pavement looking for tiny pockets of peace or relief in the most unlikely places. I think our friend actually hopped up on a trash can at one point just to let his feet cool for a minute. To what ridiculous means we sometimes turn in seeking relief, peace or happiness! For those who have trusted in Jesus Christ, he should be our rest, our Sabbath. The issues of this world should pale in light of our hope in Him. So, here are some passages that might remind us all that in Christ, we have shoes.

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

 John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 P.S. “Malliterate” is a word I made up. My children would immediately recognize it as such if they read more.

What Do You Do When Someone Blows It?

Explosion

Have you blown it before?  I mean, really fallen flat onto your sinful, selfish face?  I know I have- more times than I care to remember- and I don’t think it’s a stretch to guess that you have too.  Because we’ve all been there, we all know that it’s a terrible place to be.  That said, there is one “silver lining” that can be found in such a situation- we can own up to our wrong, turn around, and do what we can to make it right.  We may not be fully in control (because really, we never are), but we do some substantial choices that we can make.

But what about when the sinful failure isn’t yours, but someone else’s?  What if, instead of the perpetrator of the cosmic crime, you are the victim, the one who bears the brunt of the wrongdoing and is left to pick up the pieces?  What do you do when someone else blows it- and you have no ability to change their heart or coerce their repentance?  What do you do then? 

Chances are, this question has likely sparked something in you- perhaps something from your past, but more than likely something very current, very relevant, and potentially very painful.  It’s no fun to be hurt.  But living in this world filled with broken, busted up sinners like us, it’s going to happen.  Which means we have to get our heads and hearts around the one thing we can control- our response to the wrong.  When it comes to that response, we have four basic choices…

1- Don’t respond.  Ignore it.  Pretend it didn’t happen.  Put on a happy face, or an indifferent face at least, and go on.  This is often what we do, isn’t it?  The thought of confrontation and the potential conflict that would accompany it scares us.  So we stay silent- and likely wither bit by bit on the inside.

2- Respond in unrighteous anger.  The Bible makes clear that anger isn’t always necessarily sinful; it is technically to “be angry and not sin,” according to Ephesians 4:26.  The problem is, we rarely do.  Usually our anger is reactive- impurely motivated and out of control.  At no time is this more true than when have been wronged.  Because there is a legitimate hurt that exists- and an obvious perpetrator of that hurt- we often feel justified in “letting them have it.”  This is understandable- but is it right?  Often, “getting even” is a lot less satisfying- and certainly less relationally productive- than it feels on the front end.  It never builds up, and only tears down.

3- Respond in self-righteous judgment.  This is uncontrolled anger’s more civilized- but no less sinister- cousin.  If the former’s primary message is, “I can’t believe you would ________,” the latter’s message sounds more like, “I would never even think of _________.”  That’s not to say that sin isn’t sinful, or that it should be downplayed or minimized in any way.  It’s just that the moment we begin to think of ourselves as “above something (or someone),” we become incredibly vulnerable to a hard fall.  Self-righteousness is, in a very real sense, ­self-deception- and it only serves to drive a wedge deeper into an already fractured relationship.

4- Acknowledge the hurt, and contribute to the healing.  What do all of our first three responses have in common?  They all come back, in some form or fashion, to what’s best for me, to what makes me feel better about what happened- even if what makes me feel better is pretending that nothing happened at all!  But according to the Bible, the question that guides our response in difficult relational situations shouldn’t be, “What’s right for me?” but instead “What’s best for us?”  This is love at it best.  The problem is, love doesn’t always feel very good in the moment.

Looking toward the New Testament, we see that Paul was a man who knew what is was to be hurt, to be wronged, to be egregiously sinned against.  In one such instance involving the church in the city of Corinth, he opens up about the tension and turmoil he experienced in that relationship…

For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you  (2 Corinthians 2:1-4, ESV)

We don’t know with certainty all of the background behind these words, but this much is clear- Paul had been hurt by the Corinthians.  His response to this hurt, though, is worth paying attention to.  He doesn’t deny or sugarcoat it, speaking freely of the “affliction and anguish of heart” that he experienced in this relationship.  But at the same time- in the same sentence, even!- he makes clear that in addressing his pain, it was not his intent to retaliate or to deepen the divide between them, but rather to work together toward healing and restoration.

Paul acknowledged his hurt, and then moved toward healing.  Don’t miss either side of this, because one without the other is incomplete, ingenuine, and ineffective.  If you only acknowledge the hurt, you remain stuck in anger or judgment.  And you can’t move toward healing- at least not in any sensible way- apart from owning the fact that something happenedBoth have to happen.  Own the “affliction and anguish”- not in a vengeful or manipulative way, but in a way that can pave the way to figuring out what healing looks like, both in your heart and in the relationship.

I’m not sure where or how this hits you today, but this I know- You will find yourself asking this question sooner or later.  Someone will blow it, and you’ll have a choice to make.  My prayer is that you’ll resist the temptation to go for the self-protection of denial, or the immediate gratification of anger and judgment, and instead pursue the “long road” of honesty and hard work that is necessary to love well.  After all, it’s the kind of love that’s been given you at your worst by the One who is best- God Himself.

We don’t say the word “hate”dear…

I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. [Galatians 1:10]

I started saying this some time back and Jessica loved it (not really). So it stuck. And this picture is hanging in my office. (I know- not super spiritual- don’t hate).

But at home…I’m not certain why, but we’ve decided the word “hate” would not be allowed. We come up with all kinds of alternatives for our kids when they say it.

My kids: I hate that show.
Me: We don’t say “hate.” We say “we are reluctant to desire to watch this show.”
My kids: *weird look at dad*

Or…

My kids: I hate when people are mean to me.
Me: We don’t say “hate.” We say “I passionately disapprove of their actions toward me.”
My kids: *weird look at dad*

Or…

My kids: I hate the Dallas Cowboys.
Me: We don’t say…wait…that is actually appropriate. Well done. Booooo Cowboys!

Honestly, it is kind of silly if I think about it, but I know why we ban the word- because we want God to be our greatest desire. We want to please Him. We want to act in ways that please Him. And God is love. We’d rather speak and give our attention to LOVE over HATE.
But, the world is filled with haters.

Believe it or not- there are people who hate me. You have people who hate you too.
Even though I know this, I am always surprised to hear when someone doesn’t like me.
Me? C’mon. I am nice. I am funny, at times. I care about other people. I don’t think I am selfish. I feel like I am a man of integrity- what you see is what you get.

But I know one time I may have said something wrong. I may have not followed through with a good intention. I may have come across a certain way on social media. I may have done something or gone somewhere that doesn’t fit your bill of approval. I have my faults. I do. But so do you. And so does everyone.

There is a great trap that comes from being hated. We often fall into the trap of desiring to please the haters over any other. We obsess over getting people to like us. We desire to WIN them to ourselves.

When you are a people pleaser, you have allowed something other than God to take first place. All of a sudden it becomes god in your life, because you are allowing the opinion of others to matters more than God’s opinion. What they think of you matters more than what God thinks of you.

You and I will NEVER be able to please everyone. Someone reading this has already decided, maybe long ago, that they don’t like me. Should I give my life to change their mind? No, because all of that effort would be futile.

Life is much simpler and satisfying when we give our lives to please the one who loves us without fail.  Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

This is what we need to know, deep in our souls:
When people hate you for no reason, remember God loves you for no reason.

While we were his enemies, God saved us. [Romans 5:10]

When people are treacherous to us, we must focus on God’s goodness, not on man’s badness. Leave all judgment to the Lord. Continue to bear fruit for God, and praise Him in the midst of trouble. You can be victorious when others target you with their hatred. The next time someone treats you with hate, focus on God; leave the matter in His hands and praise His name.

God Is Not Your High School Boyfriend

Dating

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water…Hebrews 10:19-22 (ESV)

It’s been a long time since I’ve dated anyone.

Now, to be perfectly clear, my wife Kerri and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary this year, and we’ve continued to “date” plenty in that time- which is awesome, by the way, and highly recommended no matter how long you’ve been married.  That said, it’s been well over a decade since I’ve been in what we would traditionally call a “dating relationship.”

And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t be happier about that.  Looking back on it, the thought of dating- at least as it is most commonly practiced in our culture- sounds pretty terrible.  Think about it- It locks one into a near-constant state of evaluation, uncertainty, and insecurity- “performance anxiety” in its most intense, heart-rending form.

Does she like me, or is she merely tolerating me until this dinner can mercifully end?
Did that joke land, or does he think I’m super awkward and inappropriate?
Do I look okay- I mean,
better than okay, or at least better than that guy over there?
Will he ask me out again, or is this gonna be it? 

The questions that plague us in even the healthiest dating relationships can be inescapable, and often maddening.  Why is this?  Because for most, if not all of us, it is our greatest longing to be known fully and loved unconditionally, even in the face of our struggles and shortcomings.  The necessary insecurity of a dating relationship puts that vulnerability on full display and tests it to the max.  Sometimes, it works out well; often, though, it doesn’t, and we are left reeling, and even more insecure than before.

I bring this up not with the intent to dredge up any painful memories from your past, or to offer a critique of dating culture in our world today, but instead to point out how often we view and approach God through the lens of these experiences.  Because our hearts and minds have been trained to see love as a reward we receive for good performance- and something that can (and maybe should) be withheld when that performance goes bad- we often think of what it means to be in a relationship with God in tragic and toxic terms.

Here’s how this usually plays out in practice- We set out to “earn” God’s love, acceptance, and approval by our good performance.  We put our best spiritual foot forward, dominating church attendance, personal devotion and disciplines, and avoiding as best we can those things we have determined are particularly unacceptable to God (we all have our own lists).  If we’re feeling especially ambitious, we may go so far as to give away some money and tell someone about Jesus.  Gold stars all around!

But then, inevitably, something goes wrong.  We find that we can’t keep up.  We get tired.  We lose interest.  Others stop cooperating with our best efforts to love them and make it really hard for us to demonstrate love, grace, and kindness.  Things aren’t working out the way we thought they would.  And we stumble…we fall…and in many cases, we just dive right in to the ocean of our own sinful selfishness.

And what happens next?  You already know.  We feel terrible about it.  We become buried under a weight of shame.  We ask questions like, “How could God love me now?  How could God want me now?  Surely He has moved on to someone much more ‘deserving’ than me.”  And so, we avoid Him.  Whereas before we couldn’t get close enough to Him, now we can’t get far enough from Him.  In the time when we need Him the most, we want Him the least.

Of course, usually “rock bottom” isn’t really “rock bottom,” and at some point, we lick our wounds and regain enough self-confidence to try again.  The problem is, the cycle just keeps on repeating- much like many dating relationships.  They start fast, things go awesome for awhile, and then someone (come on guys, you know it was you!) says something dumb and the whole thing falls apart.  Work through this cycle enough times, and you’ll either settle into a hopeless state of self-loathing- or you’ll begin to resent God for being so relentlessly demanding of you.

But what if an actual relationship with God isn’t anything like this at all?  What if God is far less like your high school boyfriend, and far more like He actually reveals Himself to be in the Bible?  Because the Good News isn’t, “Put your best foot forward and maybe God will like you- at least until He finds someone more attractive and impressive.”  It is, instead, a declaration that though you and I are undeserving and unlovable– even on our best day!- that God has chosen to love us, accept us, and approve us through Jesus Christ.  When God looks at you, He isn’t looking at your performance, your qualifications, your credentials; He is looking squarely at Jesus, the One who is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.”  And because of this, His love for you is undeniably, inescapably secure, unchanging through the full range of your highs and lows.

What does this mean practically?  It means that you can drop your “performance anxiety” and instead let yourself be loved.  It means that next time you fail, you don’t have to run from God in shame, but instead can run to Him and be restored.  It means that you are now free to run after righteousness, to live a life of overflowing gratitude and joy in Jesus.  It means that you can rest, knowing that God isn’t going anywhere.  And let me tell you, nothing will motivate deep, lasting change like the security of a perfect, unconditional love.

My strong encouragement to you today is this- Stop “dating” God, because He couldn’t be less interested in “dating” you.  He is after something far better- a relationship that, through Jesus Christ, lasts forever.

I almost ruined Easter for everyone!

It was EASTER morning! As a worship pastor, you have to understand, this is one of the 2 biggest days of the year. I am filled with great anticipation. I can hardly sleep the night before. I wake up at 4:30am to prepare my heart. At 5am, I get ready. It takes a lot of work to get as average looking as me.  I am trying to get to the church for 5:30am to lead our great worship team volunteers.  I feel the pressure to hurry- but I am still sneaking around the house in the dark, so as to not wake my wife and kids. I put on my “flyest” outfit, which isn’t much, well- because I am a terrible dresser. I check my pockets to make sure I have enough guitar picks to give me a feeling of security to get through the morning. Only one thing I need before I can go. My keys.

My keys. I lost my keys. So I begin to look, everywhere.

Now, let me make one thing very clear. I am horrible at finding things. Absolutely horrible.  It’s like this…

duck

After 15 minutes of panic, I begin to sweat, thinking that Easter will be ruined. Nobody will worship. And people will forget that Jesus is alive. All because of some lost keys. I had only one option but to wake Jessica up. She popped up off the pillow merrily (not really) and said, “Did you look in your truck?” Now what kind of fool would I be to leave my keys in my vehicle? I denied that it was possible. Quick, give me some better ideas. But she insisted. Apparently she knows me better than I know myself. I strolled outside and found my keys, in my truck, in the ignition. I refuse to tell you if the truck was running. How foolish do you think I am?

Easter was saved! In just the nick of time!

So, what’s the point of this really long story?

Here is what I learned:
Why do I continually try to run my own life when I can’t even find our keys in the morning?

Serious question.

God’s ways are higher. His ways are better.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! [Romans 11:33]

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. [Isaiah 40:28]

You can’t deny it. You are just like me…struggling with the great temptation to run “the show.”

To find satisfaction in your marriage.
To define the boundaries for your children.
To determine which corporate ladder you should climb.
To decide how often and how invested in the church you and your family will be.
To decide where and how you will spend your money.
To pick which diet or gym you will try to get the specific image you desire.
And on and on and on…

But if I can’t even find my keys, and we all have our stories, what makes us think we are going to do anything of eternal significance apart from God?

Apart from Him? Emptiness.

My marriage will never be fulfilled apart from Him.
My kids will be lost without knowing Him.
My career is worthless if not giving glory to Him.
The church and my family will suffer with my indifference to it.
My money is a waste if not honoring and building His kingdom.
My body is but an empty temple to myself without His leading.

And I die. Empty. But at least I found my keys.

I don’t think any of us desire that life.

Trust in God, even when it is hard. He is far better at leading you than you are.

Yay Easter! Now What?

Easter. The big dance of the Christian world. Sunday bests. Church for everyone. Special music. Crowded rooms. The Jesus v. death verdict is in – Jesus, for the win eternal. Boom. Parking lots maxed. Children’s rooms maxed. Worship Center maxed. Easter!

MW-CA143_chocol_MG_20140418113131Easter +1 Week. Now what? Space for parking. Some space in the kids’ area. Purses resume their exalted seating level positions in the worship center. How long until Christmas?

As a pastor, it is easy to get excited about the highs of Easter. It is amazing to see a full house of people you love and first time guests singing praise to God and welcoming instruction from Scripture. At Fellowship Church, our combined locations had more people than we’ve ever had at any event – one person shy of 1300. We saw salvations at both our locations – now that’s a Happy Easter!!! But I wonder what we might be able to learn from our Easter experience to help bridge the span of life until our next happy celebration, the birth of Christ in December?

  1. Be Encouraged By Large Crowds

Crowds can be a challenge. There were several times in Scripture when Jesus sought to move away from large crowds in favor of more intimate settings with his closest companions. But I’ve got some bad news for anyone who is bothered by a packed house of worshippers on Easter Sunday – you’re going to absolutely hate heaven! When large quantities of brothers and sisters in Christ gather together and encourage each other in unified worship of our great God, then we are tasting in small portion the eternal sustenance of God’s presence. Those people to your left and right on Easter Sunday are those with whom you will likely spend eternity. Let’s get some practice in. Let’s scrimmage. This Sunday, next Sunday and the Sunday after that, let’s pack as many of our Christian brothers and sisters as possible into a space for unified, encouraging worship. Even more, let’s invite our family, friends, co-workers and strangers to these gatherings that we might love them supremely through presentation of the gospel and sensationally demonstrate the joy of worshiping God and the love we have for each other.

  1. Put in the Extra Effort

When you see a full church, just assume there are some tired people. I don’t know the ratio and I’m going to resist the urge to make one up, but a relatively small percentage of total church attenders carry out a relatively large portion of the total work to be done on a Sunday of worship gathering. These workers are, hopefully, serving from a love for God, care for the people of the church, and passion for their area of service. But fatigue can set in when services are added and workload is expanded. I’m going to offer some non-traditional, likely unpopular, advice on this point. Expand with the work. No pastor wants the few handling the work for the many. Every pastor wants more people serving because pastors want each to use the gifting that God has given him. That said, it’s not a bad thing to get tired in your work for God’s kingdom, just don’t grow weary. Tired is healthy. Tired means you did an honest day’s work. Tired means you left it all on the field, so to speak. Christian workers, let’s get tired together!

  1. Be Willing to Be Inconvenienced

A multitude of people usually leads to minimal convenience. Parking far away. Not having time for coffee due to lines. SITTING DIRECTLY NEXT TO SOMEONE!!! I’m obviously making light of this, but these issues do affect some – to the point of not coming back to church. So, let’s learn from Easter. Will you make a practice of parking as far away as possible even when the crowd is light? Will you make a practice of arriving early to clear through congested areas before they become congested? Will you make a practice of sitting two rows closer to the front and leaving fewer spaces between yourself and the person next to you? “This blog is ridiculous,” you might say. “I read this to grow spiritually and all I’m getting are instructions for where to sit.” Well, a demonstration of spiritual growth, according to Scripture, is growth in demonstrated hospitality. It is going the second mile. It is washing feet. It is a servant attitude to show love for others. If we are to learn from Easter, let’s practice intentional, sacrificial inconvenience.

  1. Celebrate Life In Christ Every Week

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Easter is the culmination of a season of reflection on Jesus’ brutal death for the sins of mankind. Friday’s theme was sacrifice and death, but Sunday’s theme is VICTORY. Out come the white clothes and bright colors. Even a rainy Easter Sunday seems vivid and full of life in every song and passage of Scripture. “Happy Easter,” we say to one another, as if to say, “Jesus did it!”

Oh, that we would carry that vision into every Sunday. That we would not grow weary, that we would not give undue recognition to the momentary defeats of the week, that we would not foster disunity, that we would not operate from selfishness, but that we would be astonished, weekly, by the extraordinary outcome of Easter – Jesus did it! Jesus is alive and my life is found in Him! I don’t need to be weary because He is my Sabbath rest. I don’t need to feel defeated, because He has claimed victory on my behalf. There is no place for my selfishness or pride because I am a portion of the body of Christ, saved to be a stone in the temple dedicated to God’s glory. Let’s show up every Sunday vibrant, full of color and in awe of Jesus’ risen life!

The excitement of Easter can set the bar for what a local church can look like. Our excitement should not be based in pride of numbers or competitiveness with other churches. Still, we can learn from Easter in these ways, and I hope we all do!

4 Steps to Being A Fool in Any Month

It’s that day again, April Fool’s Day. The day when you shouldn’t believe anything without extensive verification. A holiday of excused dishonesty and reputation-building pranks. The origins of April Fool’s Day are unknown (as noted in this interesting history.com video), but its observation is commonplace throughout the world.

On a day such as this, should I really be writing about a serious topic? Can you take me seriously or am I going to quote 2 Philippians as a source? No, I won’t make up sources and I will be serious – on the topic of being a fool. The Bible speaks quite a bit about foolery and the personification of such in any month of the year. If you are dead set on being an April Fool, here’s how the Bible says you should go about doing it:

1. Just Keep Talking

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” – Proverbs 18:6

 No, social media user, the Bible didn’t just tell you to beat up the fool who won’t be quiet. It is saying, however, that fools have a tendency to not be quiet (and possibly a tendency to get beat). There are several other passages that deal with fools talking (Pr.10:10,14; 14:3; 17:28; 18:7; 29:11; 29:20) with the common theme being a lack of discernment regarding when to speak and when to remain silent.

So, if you would prefer to not be a fool, then you will heed James’ admonishment to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger (James 1:19). But if you want to be a fool, just keep talking.

2. Be Assured That You Already Know Everything

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” – Proverbs 18:2

 Proverbs 18, bringing the heat again! But this one isn’t a real shocker to anyone. Perhaps the most defining characteristic of a fool is just how smart he thinks he is. To be a fool, you’ll need a heaping dose of pride and self-assurance without any real basis for such things. Again, these characteristics are rebuked throughout Proverbs (10:8; 12:15; 15:5; 17:10,16,24; 23:9; 24:7; 26:4,5,11,12; 27:22; 28:26; 29:9). A fool is always instructing with no willingness to learn. A fool trusts himself over counsel. A fool returns to his folly over and over again.

So, if you would prefer to not be a fool, then you will hear that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”, and you will actually change your ways in response. But if you want to be a fool, be assured that you already know everything.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Mix It Up

“A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” – Proverbs 27:3

Solomon couldn’t have known about the phenomenon of internet trolls when he wrote his proverbs. But each of these three steps to being a fool makes you think he’d already met a few. Fools love to stir the pot, mix it up, stoke the fire, etc. A fool views Jesus’ standard of a meek, peace-making life as weak, ineffective life. In fact, Proverbs says elsewhere that “every fool will be quarreling” (20:3). I’d be hesitant to assign causation in either direction between steps 3 and 4 of being a fool, but they are certainly complimentary. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and fools love to quarrel.

So, if you would prefer to not be a fool, then you will take seriously Jesus’ commands to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. But if you want to be a fool, don’t be afraid to mix it up.

4. Reject God and His Ways

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” – Psalm 14:1

 The first three steps to foolishness on my list are easily observable. You might have even had someone or several people come to mind as you read through them. I hope you weren’t thinking of me, though I have given some opportunity in each of these areas in the not-too-distant past. This last one is tricky. The problem here is that no human needs to try to do this one – it is the default position of every human who has ever been born, save one – Jesus. So for this one, if you want to be a fool then do nothing. Ephesians 2:1-3 states clearly that all of mankind is naturally dead to the things of God. Humans naturally believe that they might be good enough to go to heaven, or there is no heaven, or the truth is inside us and we need to be true to ourselves, or any other option not consisting of the recognition of God’s holiness, our total corruption and our complete inability to bridge the two.

So, if you would prefer not to be a fool, then respond to the call of Jesus, “come, follow me.” Jesus lived a perfect life, died an unjust death, and then defeated that death through victorious life. He did everything that we could not do: account for our rebellion against God, satisfy God’s just wrath due for that rebellion, conquer death, and ascend into God’s presence. He’s the bridge, the vehicle and the every-breath oxygen of those who are reconciled to God. He now welcomes all who will simply trust that he has done everything and submit to his gracious rule over every aspect of life.

But if you want to be a fool, then keep talking, be assured that you know everything, don’t be afraid to mix it up, and reject God and His ways.

 

 

Image By Rameshng