Tag Archives: Jesus

CrossFit, vegans, food allergies, and Jesus

I DO CROSSFIT!!! There, I said it. I don’t have to tell anyone again for at least 6 minutes…

There are countless memes and jokes about people who do CrossFit or follow some kind of weird diet plan (I also do keto…..) and how they can’t wait to tell you about it. Comedians joke about people with food allergies bursting with excitement to tell you about how they can’t eat peanuts or have ice cream (I’m also lactose…). Sadly, there are no jokes about Christians who can’t wait to tell you about Jesus.

I want the gravity of this to really set it.

Vegans are known for being more excited about what they can or can’t eat than we are about eternal life. People are more enthusiastic about the exercise program they follow than we are about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even atheists seem more adamant about their faith that there is no God than we are about there being one. Some of us are more eager to tell you about ice cream giving them a tummy ache than the life changing power of Christ. If we truly believe the bible, if we truly believe in Jesus and His resurrection, should this not be the center of everything we are? The center of every conversation, the reason we do anything, our everything.

How is it that we who believe that an almighty God created the universe and us with it in His image, and sent His son, Jesus, to die for us because of our sin so that we could be washed clean and brought back to Him, forgiven, has been outdone by people who can’t have peanuts?

There is power in our testimony. The reason people who do CrossFit or follow certain diet plans have the reputation they do is they are giving a life changing testimony. They tell stories about how whatever they are doing is making their life better. We as Christians are called to do the same, give our testimony. We must tell people about the Good News that is Jesus. We can’t afford to hold back. It’s not just someone’s health that is at stake, it’s their very soul.

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11,12 ESV

The life we have is because of Jesus and the cross, his resurrection, mercy and grace. The love of God through Jesus Christ is life.

Lord, give us boldness to speak your Word to those you have placed in our lives. Give us a burning desire to speak your name Jesus. Ignite our hearts for you. Amen.

………..I do CrossFit.

 

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True Colors

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV

My children have watched the new “Trolls” movie somewhere around fifty times. They enjoy it so much we purchased the soundtrack so that we could listen to the songs as we travel. One song in particular sticks out to me, the Justin Timberlake remake of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”. One part of the song says, “I see your true colors and that’s why I love you”. I think of my wife when I hear this song. She sees my true colors. She sees me for who I really am, good and the bad. My wife knows me when I’m at my best and has seen me at my worst. Despite knowing the worst about me, she loves me. Her love for me is not a matter of what I am or am not doing, but our relationship is.  I can do things that put strain on our relationship and even though my wife loves me, she’s upset with me. On the flip side of that, I can do things to build our relationship. Her love for me isn’t necessarily growing, but our relationship is. In a way, this describes our relationship to God. While his love for us eternal, we can do things that build or destroy our relationship with him.

The bible says that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Before we proclaim him as our Lord or trust in him as our savior, he loves us. While we are lost to our own sinfulness and busy making idols out of ourselves, God loves us. He loves us so much he sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place so that we could be reconciled to him and have eternal life. God sees our true colors and loves us anyway.

While God’s love for us is unconditional, our salvation is not. Our salvation requires us to have faith and trust in Christ (John 14:6). We have sinned against God and even though he loves us, without faith in Jesus we are lost and destined for hell. Heaven and hell is not a matter of being a “good person” or what your true colors are, it’s a matter of faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Hell is not for sinners, it is for those who reject Jesus.

This week is holy week, a time when we reflect on Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, his crucifixion, death, and finally his resurrection on Easter. It’s a time of celebration for believers, a time when we can rejoice in the gift of salvation and the eternal life to come. This is also a time that we should be reaching out to those who do not have the hope of Jesus in their life. A time of invitation. A time that despite what people’s true colors are, we would reach out and show them the love of Christ. If you don’t know Jesus, I pray that you would seek him with an open heart. God is not hiding like some decorated Easter egg, he’s waiting for you with open arms. God loves you, no matter what your true colors are.

Back Row Believer

Growing up in the southeastern part of the United States, I heard the term “back row Baptist” more than a few times. It was said as an insult to people who either show up late to church and leave early or about someone who simply comes to church out of obligation instead of worship. For some reason this statement has been on my mind all morning, and the more I think about it, the more it bothers me.

As believers in Christ, we are called to spread the love of God to our brothers and sisters in the world. Our job as Christians is not to judge them because their timing is a little off or which pew they choose to sit in, but to be thankful that they came to church in the first place. To encourage them to grow in their knowledge of the bible and their understanding of the love of God.

I have so many friends and family members that desperately need to hear the gospel, yet refuse to set foot in a church. When I ask them why they don’t come, the answer is almost unanimous, they feel judged by the people in the church. They feel like they don’t measure up to the standard that we have put on what a Christian should look and act like. They feel like they don’t fit in. That’s not on them, that’s on us.

We are the true “back row believers”. We have, like the Pharisees, rejected the commandment of God in order to establish our own traditions (Mark 7:9). We have rejected the new commandment from Jesus to love one another (John 13:34). Jesus followed this new commandment with the statement, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35). People will know us by our love. Not by the way we dress, the way we talk, or where we sit, but by our love for one another.

This Sunday when you walk into your church, take a seat in the back a have a look around. Does your congregation look like it would welcome people “from every nation, from all tribes”? (Revelation 7:9). Or is it a “cookie cutter” congregation, where everyone looks the same. Jesus has called us to reach the world. Not just the part of the world that looks and talks like us, the entire world.

“Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly,” (Romans 12:16 ESV).

We are called to live in unity through love in Christ Jesus to the glory of God. This is not an option. “For God shows no partiality, ” (Romans 2:11 ESV).

God shows no partiality, Jesus has no favorites, and neither can we. We must love all with the same love that was shown to us through Jesus Christ. Anything short of this is sin.

Today I encourage you to stop and look in the mirror. Take a good, hard, long look at yourself. Now, go find someone that looks completely different and tell them you love them. Tell them God loves them and Jesus died for their sins just as He did for yours. Then invite them to church. Because at the end of the day, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-34 ESV).

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

 

 

Chocolate Santa

There is a huge, half-eaten, chocolate Santa Claus in our kitchen cabinet left over from Christmas. It still tastes amazing, I know this because every so often I walk into the kitchen and break a piece off. I’ve also been reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” again. If you haven’t read it, you should. In the second section of the book he talks about Jesus’ sermon on the mound from Matthew 5.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6 ESV).

As I thought about hunger, the chocolate Santa came to mind. Many times instead of making a meal to satisfy my hunger I would just eat part of the Santa. I would fill up on junk food instead of getting proper nutrition. Then I thought about how often I tend to do the same thing in my spiritual life. Instead of feeding my spirit the bread of life that is Jesus Christ, I fill up on junk the world offers. How many times have I scrolled mindlessly through social media instead of spending time in God’s word? How many hours have I spent playing video games instead of praying for opportunities to share the Good News? When was the last time I was truly hungry for God’s word?

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 ESV

The problem with filling up on a chocolate Santa instead of a home cooked meal, is it doesn’t satisfy for very long. I get hungry again and go back for more. I catch myself in the same cycle with social media, TV, and video games. I binge “eat” thinking it will bring me joy and I’m left unsatisfied. I’m left wanting more. So today I’m taking a stand, I’m throwing out the chocolate Santa. And I encourage you to do the same. Take a break from social media and spend some time in God’s word. Skip tonight’s episode of whatever show you watch and pray. Fast from spiritual “junk food” that leaves you unsatisfied, and fill up on Jesus.

Fish Shaped Tambourine

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 ESV

When I think about mission work I usually envision people in a third world country building schools or providing medical aid to people. I envision people living in shacks and struggling to find fresh water. And yes, the occasional fish shaped tambourine. Yet, when I googled the biggest need in the mission field I was surprised at what I found. It wasn’t new buildings, fresh water, or medical aid. Several articles stated that the biggest and most neglected mission field wasn’t in some far away country, it was in our own back yard. Article after article, saying the same thing, we are doing an amazing job at providing a service and spreading the gospel “to the end of the earth,” but have forgotten our neighbors.

One of the last things Jesus says in the book of Matthew is, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19). Yes, we are called to reach the world for Christ, but we can not forget about those in the world that live on the same street as us. We can’t forget about the part of the world that we work with or go to school with. In our effort to reach the ends of the earth, we should not forget about those on this earth that we see everyday, our friends and family, our neighbors.

We don’t have to jump on a plane and fly to some impoverished village to be a missionary, you just have to walk out your front door. As Christians, everywhere we go is a mission trip. Schools, the work place, the grocery store, these are our mission fields and we have been neglecting them.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38 ESV

This is my prayer, that we would take our mission field seriously. That we would realize we are God’s laborers in His harvest and approach our everyday lives with urgency in spreading the Gospel, not just at the ends of the earth but in our own cities and towns as well. That today, and everyday after, we would reach out to those that God has placed near to us and tell them about Jesus Christ.

Judge not…

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1 ESV

 

I have heard the saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” a million times. Usually by non-Christians doing very non-Christian things. I’ve used it myself, before I was a Christian, whenever I would get called out for doing something I shouldn’t be doing. We use this verse to try and justify our actions or condemn those who don’t agree with our actions. If I’m honest, I really struggled with this verse for a while. We have one part of the bible saying to call out people in sin (1 Corinthians 5) and here we have Jesus saying not to judge people. So what do we do?

I think the root of this problem is our understanding of the word “judge.” We associate it with our opinion of someone when Jesus had a completely different idea in mind. We need to think of this type of “judging” as in a court room where a judge has the power to sentence you. Jesus is saying that we have no power or authority to cast judgment on a person in the sense of where they will spend eternity. In that case, yes, only God can judge you. BUT! That is not a pass to overlook sin.

If a brother or sister is caught in sin, we must deal with it. We must deal with it in love and gentleness. In the book of John, a woman is caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus for judgment.  She wasn’t rumored to be in adultery, she was CAUGHT in the VERY ACT of adultery. In this moment, the group of “religious” people surrounding her were ready to literally throw stones at her. But what does Jesus say? Jesus says in John 8:7, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus knew that we are all guilty and deserving of this punishment. After the crowd leaves, Jesus looks at the woman and says, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She says, “No one, Lord.” Then Jesus looks at her and says, “Neither do I; go and sin no more.” This is beautiful. This is grace. This is love. This is Jesus.

We are all guilty of sin. We are all the woman in this story, caught in the very act of (insert sin here). And just like this woman, Jesus looks at us and says, “I don’t condemn you.” But He also says, “Go, and from now on sin no more.” Jesus doesn’t give her a pass to sin, He gives her a command to repent. To turn from this lifestyle of adultery and live righteously. This same call applies to us as well.

The great thing about our God is that He doesn’t say to clean up our lives then follow Him, no, He says follow me and then we’ll clean this up together. We have a God who truly loves us. A God who is mighty and able. A God who still works everyday miracles in people’s lives. If you are caught in sin, I beg you, repent and turn to Jesus.

Tomb Raider

“And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” Mark 5:9 ESV

 

When Jesus stepped out of His boat in the country of the Gerasenes, He was immediately met by a man that had been living in tombs. A man that the bible says had, “an unclean spirit” (Mark 5:2). This man had been crying out and cutting himself with stones (Mark 5:5). When the demon-possessed man seen Jesus, he fell to his knees and proclaimed Him, “Son of the Most High God”. After a short introduction, Jesus cast the demons out of the man, making him sane again.

While most of us have probably never been demon-possessed, some of us have been outcast. Much like the man living in tombs, some of us have been rejected, ostracized, an maybe even cut ourselves. Some of us live in a “tomb” of loneliness. But we don’t have to stay there. Jesus approaches each one of us with love and kindness. He wants a relationship with us. Jesus didn’t heal this man then give him a list of dos and don’ts. Jesus simply asked the man his name, healed him, and told him to go and tell his friends about all the Lord had done for him. This is what Jesus wants for each of us as well, to step out of our “tomb”, build a relationship with Him, and tell others about His great love.

If you’re reading this and struggling, living in your own personal “tomb,” dealing with things all on your own, I beg you, give Jesus a chance to know you. Allow Him to cast out your demons and heal you. God loves you.

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15 ESV