15 December 2009


words and music by Dave Matthews

She was his girl; he was her boyfriend

She be his wife; make him her husband

A surprise on the way, any day, any day

One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy

The wise men came three made their way

To shower him with love

While he lay in the hay

Shower him with love love love

Love love love

Love love is all around

Not very much of his childhood was known

Kept his mother Mary worried

Always out on his own

He met another Mary for a reasonable fee, less than

Reputable as known to be

His heart was full of love love love

Love love love

Love love is all around

When Jesus Christ was nailed to the his tree

He said "oh, Daddy-o I can see how it all soon will be

I came to shed a little light on this darkening scene

Instead I fear I spill the blood of my children all around"

The blood of our children all around

The blood of our children all around

The blood of our children all around

So the story goes, so I'm told

The people he knew were

Less than golden hearted

Gamblers and robbers

Drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers

Like you and me

Rumors insisted he soon would be

For his deviations

Taken into custody by the authorities

Less informed than he.

Drinkers and jokers.

all soul searchers

Searching for love love love

Love love love

Love love is all around

Preparations were made
For his celebration day

He said "eat this bread and think of it as me

Drink this wine and dream it will be

The blood of our children all around

The blood of our children all around"

The blood of our children all around

Father up above, why in all this hatred do you fill
Me up with love

Fill me love love love

Love love love

Love love

And the blood of our children all around



07 December 2009


Most invitations expire. The happening is announced. You’re invited. The event happens and you either attend or you don’t attend. The party wraps up. Concerts, sporting events, even weddings, have a beginning time and an ending time.

And unless you’re holding an unused ticket for Woodstock, the invitation or the ticket probably isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Sure, you could show up late. But who knows what you’ve missed? The key after receiving the invitation is to say “yes” and show up.

Mary showed up. Like Esther in The Old Testament, Mary realized that she’d been “born for such a time as this.” Here’s what Luke’s Gospel tells us about the delivery of Mary’s invitation, Mary’s question, God’s answer and Mary’s response.


The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.” But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean. The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him ‘Jesus’. He will be great and will be called the ‘Son of the Most High.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”


Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?”


The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the ‘Son of God.’ Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son, though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months. God can do anything!”


Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away.

This Christmas season Jesus comes to you and to me with an invitation, and like Mary, we have the opportunity to say “yes” or say “no.” “Will you let Me live inside of you, grow inside of you, and be birthed out of you in your thoughts, your words, your priorities, and your actions?” Jesus asks us.

“But the cost is too great!” “But I am too in love with myself to surrender to you.” “But what will others think?” “But I’m too old, or too far gone to turn myself over to You.”

And to each of our questions, Jesus’ answer is the same: “God can do anything. You’re not at the end of the road. You can begin again. Many others are on this same journey with me and they can testify to the beauty, the grace, the peace and the joy of surrender. Come home to me. Make your home in me. Let me become more than a story to you this Christmas. There’s no expiration date on this invitation. But timing is everything. This is your time.” Godspeed.



18 November 2009


A woman moved to a new city and started working in a downtown office building as a janitor. One Sunday morning she visited a church that she walked by on her way to work each day.

The parking lot was filled with beautiful cars and everyone was well dressed. Almost to the sanctuary, a tall, silver haired man in a three-piece suit stepped in front of her and suspiciously asked, “Well, now where are you going?”

Pointing towards the sanctuary she said, “In there, with everybody else … to worship the Lord.” The man steered the woman over to a side door and asked in a disingenuous tone, “I want you to go home and ask Jesus if this is the church He wants you to attend.”

The woman replied, “I walk by here each morning and thought it would be a good church to visit. But now that you mention it, I didn’t really talk with Jesus about visiting your church”. And at that, the man opened the door, and motioned to the woman to exit. And so, without a chance to even enter the sanctuary, the women left.

The following morning the same man went to a downtown office building on an errand. Walking into the lobby, he saw the woman who’d tried attending his church the day before – there she was, polishing stair rails. He went over and asked, “Did you ask Jesus yet about what we talked about yesterday?” And the woman answered, “Oh, yes, I did.” “Well, what did He say?”

Without missing a beat of her polishing the rail, the woman said with a smile, “Jesus said, ‘My child, don’t feel bad. I’ve been trying to get into that church for years, and they wouldn’t let Me in either.’”

The church at Laodicea, like the church in this story, and many churches in America and around the world had become comfortable with what they had and who they’d become, even though God wasn’t.

It’s my hope that each person reading this post will invite God to use Jesus’ words from REVELATION 3:14-22 as a mirror that we hold up to ourselves, to see our motivations, to see our priorities, and to see our faith with honesty and clarity. And then, based on what we see, that we’ll make the course-corrections we need to in order to become more like the FAITHFUL church at Philadelphia (REVELATION 3:7-13), and less like the LUKEWARM church of Laodicea. Godspeed.




When I was in Seminary I learned to "preach" from a Nazarene Evangelist. I thought he was creative. But basically he had just one sermon, taught from different places throughout the Bible. He was an evangelist, not a pastor-teacher, what could I expect? Here's a simple distinction between PREACHING and TEACHING ...
  • PREACHING is done by both evangelists and pastor-teachers. It is what evangelists do all the time, and what pastor-teachers do some of the time. It is done to share the Gospel with people and invite them into a relationship with Jesus Christ. The gospel is so woven throughout Scripture that pastor-teachers can't avoid it, nor should we. At 2nd Street I invite people to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ on Sunday mornings on a regular basis. But I am gifted and called as a pastor-teacher not an evangelist.
  • TEACHING is done primarily by pastor-teachers. And it is done to grow and mature the flock in their relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what I do at 2nd Street on Sunday mornings, 40+ times a year. I believe that the teaching of God's WORD is most effectively done verse-by-verse through individual books of the Bible, using other passages from the Bible as support.
When I showed up in Klamath Falls in 1984, fresh out of seminary, it didn't take long for me that while I'd learned to preach in seminary, I hadn't learned to teach. Bummer. Because since I wasn't spiritually gifted and called as an evangelist, the way I'd been taught a way to teach the Bible that didn't fit with my gifting as a pastor-teacher.

So instead of staying frustrated (which I really was for about a year), I started listening to a number of pastor-teachers on the radio. Here are the five God primarily used to help shape, change, teach, and train me in how to teach His WORD (these folks aren't all serving in these positions anymore, but they were during my time in Klamath Falls / 1984-1991).
  1. Chuck Smith, pastor-teacher at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA
  2. Burt Smith, pastor-teacher at Little County Church in Redding, CA
  3. Jon Courson, pastor-teacher at Applegate Christian Fellowship outside of Jacksonville, OR)
  4. Kay Arthur, Bible teacher, founder of Precept Ministries
  5. Bob Yandian, pastor-teacher at Grace Fellowship in Tulsa, OK
These five pastor-teachers all taught God's WORD verse-by-verse, and I loved it. I saw that when using this method of teaching, it was easier to allow the Holy Spirit make the outline of the teaching, and that the application flowed out of the verses along the way, instead of being pasted onto the end of the teaching like a postscript.

So learning from these five pastor-teachers (none of whom I'd ever met ... but I eventually met Kay, Burt, Bob, and Jon's brother Jimmy), I simply looked at the end result of what they taught and worked my way backwards, developing my own methods of study, preparation, and delivery of God's WORD.

I study on Tuesday afternoons, Thursday afternoons, all day Friday, Saturday morning, and then finish everything up early Sunday mornings. All told, I usually invest about 15 hours into each Sunday's teaching. But I think that it is worth it. The way I study, plan, and prepare isn't complicated. Here's a basic outline of what I do ...
  • Read the next passage from God's WORD that I'll be teaching from many, many, many times, out of a variety of translations. www.youversion.com helps me do this. Knowing where I am going, not just on a given Sunday, but in the coming months and even the coming year, helps out tremendously. Take notes.
  • Pray.
  • Read more of God's WORD / look up all the cross-references listed in the main Bibles I use for study (New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, The Amplified Bible, The Message, J.B. Phillips New Testament in Modern English, Contemporary English Version, and English Standard Version) along with all the other Scripture passages that the Holy Spirit brings to mind. Take notes.
  • Write.
  • Pray.
  • Write. Incorporating more Greek/Hebrew word studies.
  • Pray.
  • Add the Faith Lessons throughout the teaching as led by the Holy Spirit to do so. These are short, application points from individual verses, or words/themes encountered along the way.
  • Pray and deliver the teaching.
I hope your life with God is maturing and deepening. Godspeed.



19 June 2009


It's been too long since I've posted something here. I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. But we'll see. Life has gotten a bit crazy, with being a husband, a dad, and a pastor. I misplaced my superman cape a while back and have been struggling with the angst (and freedom) of being a mere mortal.

Jesus Christ doesn’t wait for us to show up to worship services before He shows up. It’s not like He has His alarm clock set for 8:55 a.m. each Sunday morning … and it goes off, and then He hurries up and shows up here at 2nd Street. He’s here, waiting for us when arrive, to join Him. And as much as you may think that you’ve INITIATED this connection, this conversation, and this experience of praise and worship with Him this morning, let me break it to you … you’re wrong. God is always the INITIATOR and you and I are always the RESPONDERS.

I love how the mid-20th-century Christian mystic, Thomas R. Kelley describes this reality in his classic book, A Testament of Devotion

In this humanistic age we suppose man
is the initiator and God is the responder.
But the Living Christ within us is the
initiator and we are the responders. God
the Lover, the Accuser, the Revealer of
Light and Darkness presses within us. ‘Behold,
I stand at the door and knock’ [God says in
REVELATION 3:20]. And all our apparent initiative
is already a response, a testimonial to His
secret presence and working within us.”
(italics added)

And in Kelley’s words, which express this mysterious front-line truth of how God works in our lives, I see an important truth ...

We do not gathered for worship, primarily because WE choose to be. Jesus Christ is always the INITIATOR, and we are always the RESPONDERS. Entering into Jesus Christ’s presence, hearing His voice, taking on His character (His thoughts, words, deeds, and priorities) and then more fully living out the will of God … this all happens because we’re RESPONDING to the loving, pursuing, wooing, INITIATION of Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you a question. Where are you seeing Jesus Christ alive and well right now? Where are you seeing His presence, His footprints, His voice, His fingerprints, and His actions? With the people you work with who are accountable to you? With the people you work with, to whom you’re accountable? In your relationships with family, with your spouse, with your children, with the people you’re dating, with your friends, or with the people you’ve felt estranged from right now but who Jesus Christ has been inviting you to begin building new bridges of relationship with? Where are you seeing Jesus Christ alive and well right now? Where are you seeing His presence, His footprints, His voice, His fingerprints, and His actions?

If you’re not seeing Jesus in these places, then you’re life with Him isn’t THE REIGNING PRIORITY of your life. Because when we make Jesus Christ our First Love (cf., REVELATION 2:4) and THE REIGNING PRIORITY of our lives, it’s like we get a new pair of glasses and we begin living life with God, not apart from God … we begin seeing His presence, His footprints, His voice, His fingerprints, and His actions everywhere … and when we look at Him and see what He’s up to, we’ll consistently see Him looking back at us, and inviting us to join Him in what He’s up to.

There are not some parts of our lives and experiences that are “spiritual” and other parts that are “not spiritual” or “natural”. All of life is most intimately and accurately defined by its “spiritual nature”. Like C.S. Lewis wrote …

“We are not natural beings who
have spiritual experiences. We are
spiritual beings who have natural experiences."

Godspeed to you as you RESPOND to the working in God in your life today.



06 April 2009


JOHN 13:35

By this everyone will know that you are My
disciples, if you have love for one another.

Is this what the world is seeing from you and me? I know that as followers of Jesus we’ve gotten it right some of the time. But if we’re honest, we’ll admit that Christians have also shown the world division, fighting, and backbiting. And what we’re usually divided over is what we believe.

You might believe one way about spiritual gifts, and I might believe something slightly different. You might believe one way about the Rapture of the church, and I might believe another. You might believe one way about predestination, election, and eternal security, or any number of other doctrines, and I might believe differently. You might believe one kind of worship music is the best way to come before God with your praise and adoration, and I might believe differently.

But as people who believe Jesus was right when He said in JOHN 14:6 that He’s the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes into a relationship with God the Father except through Him, God wants us to be united in love with one another. This is why we pray for other Christian churches each week – even ones that we might have some doctrinal differences with. Because what’s important is our mutual love of Jesus Christ and our willingness to follow Him.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote in EPHESIANS 4:1-6 concerning the things that followers of Jesus Christ need to be in unity with other Christians about …


… I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the
people God has chosen to be His own. Always
be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each
other and love each other. Try your best to let
God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace.

All of you are part of one body. There is only one Spirit
of God, just as you were given one hope when you were
chosen to be God’s people. We have only one Lord, one
faith, and one baptism. There is one God who is the Father
of all people. Not only is God above all others, but He
works by using all of us, and He lives in all of us.

Friends, these have got to be the beliefs that unify us with other followers of Jesus Christ. If you're part of the Body of Jesus Christ, then you’ve got a lot of siblings - not only here at 2nd Street, but in churches all around Newberg, Oregon, and across the face of the earth. God wants us to get along. And it’s not about cloning or becoming identical Christians … it's about harmonizing.

It was said that George Whitefield (England | 1714-1770) was such a powerful evangelist that 30,000 people would regularly attend his open-air meetings. History tell us that Whitefield was so anointed and eloquent, that many orators and actors would come just to watch him, listen to him, and try to learn from him.

Charles Wesley, a contemporary of Whitefield, also preached to multitudes. And yet the Christian doctrines these two men held were miles apart. In fact, when it came to certain doctrines (especially God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will) they placed paid advertisements in the newspapers explaining why they believed what they did — and why the other guy was wrong. I promise that I won’t ever do. Even though The Graphic could probably use the ad-revenue!

In fact, the disagreements between Whitefield and Wesley, were so intense at times, that people must have thought they hated each other. But any question about that was finally put to rest one day when a newspaper reporter asked, “Tell me, Mr. Whitefield, do you expect to see Charles Wesley in heaven?” “No, I won’t see Charles Wesley in heaven” Whitefield answered. “Oh, he’ll be there. But he’ll be so close to the throne of Jesus Christ, and I’m going to be so far back, that there’s no way I’ll be able to see him.”

Man, I like that! Here were two pastor-teachers who held very different doctrinal views from one another, and whose ministries had very different focuses, and yet they made the choice to have unity through love in their diversity. Do you see it?

“Unity doesn’t eliminate diversity. The absence of diversity
is not unity; it is uniformity, and uniformity is dull. It is fine
when the choir sings in unison, but I prefer that they
sing in harmony.” - Warren Wiersbe, Be Hopeful, p. 53.




27 February 2009


I have a 19-year old female friend (the youngest daughter of some dear friends of mine) living in India right now. She is working with a couple who is raising the 70+ daughters of Hindu temple prostitutes in their town. I received an email from this young woman the other day asking me the following question:

Do you believe in Calvin's theory of predestination? It was presented to me here by one of the pastors and I have NO WAY of proving it wrong, but it seems SO wrong to me! If you have time and interest give me your thoughts.

Here is what I wrote back to my young friend ...


Hello friend. Calvin's doctrine of predestination, and it's twin and necessary sister, the doctrine of election, have so many varieties to it, that to ask a pastor, a theologian, a religion professor, or a Sunday School teacher to describe them would be like asking these different people to describe the best flavor in the world, or the sound of rain, or to paint a picture of what they think Jesus looked like. A whole slew of answers would come. And the funny thing is that Calvin would probably argue with all of them. And he certainly didn't believe these doctrines were theories ... for him they were iron-clad doctrines that he was willing to stake his life on.

This is a theological question that followers of Jesus Christ have talked about, argued over, been divided over, and even hated one another over for centuries. And the reason why? Because both emphases are found in God's Word.

THE DOCTRINE OF FREE WILL | God has given us a free will and that we either respond to His invitation to come into a relationship with Him or we don't (most Quakers, Methodists, many Pentecostals, and Nazarenes find their beliefs lingering on this side of the theological fence).

THE DOCTRINES OF PREDESTINATION AND ELECTION | God is sovereign and chooses some people ahead of time to be in relationship with Him, and chooses others to not be in relationship with Him (most Baptists, Presbyterians, Evangelical Free, and independent Bible Churches find their beliefs lingering on this side of the theological fence).

God's Word has plenty of verses that seem to speak to both sides of this theological coin that this pastor has asked you to spin (for his pleasure?). GOOGLE "free will, predestination, and election" and you'll find a curiously solid slew of Biblical answers for both. But here's the deal my friend. Why can't both be true? This is one of the things I love about Quakers. We're not afraid of paradox. We don't believe that being silenced and dumbfounded by the awesomeness and the "otherness" of God shows a lack of conviction, a lack of theological expertise, or a lack of convincement.

It's not the easy way out to sit on the fence on these two seemingly oppositional doctrines. In fact it's the height of humility, to admit that God is God and we're not. And that while we see the two sides of this theological coin spoken of throughout Scripture (in the law, in the history, in the wisdom, in the prophets, in the minor prophets, in the Gospels, and in the Epistles), we don't have to have a certainty about one being right and one being wrong in order to feel confident about our theology.

Letting both sides of this God-coin be true is just more evidence to me that there are things about God that human beings will never be able to understand in ways that solve all the doctrinal riddles that people as smart as Calvin and Wesley are able to dig out of God's Word.

But when seeking what I believe about this and other theological conundrums, a couple of the questions I always ask myself are ...
  1. To believe this proposed doctrine before me, do I need to "unbelieve" anything I believe about the character or the nature of God, Jesus Christ, or God's Holy Spirit?
  2. To believe this proposed doctrine before me, do I need to be talked into it by somebody who is acting smarter and wiser than me for the purpose of getting me to come over to their side of the argument?
Truth isn't confounding. It's liberating and nearly always ridiculously simple. I want to be teachable. But I don't want to be naive, nor do I want to be spiritually sucker-punched into adopting something as a belief just because it makes sense to someone who everyone else believes is "really smart." Remember, that almost all the interactions Jesus had with people who were "really smart" ... especially "really smart religious people" didn't turn out all that well for the ones with the degrees.

Calvin? Wesley? Augustine? Luther? Smart guys to be sure. Lovers of Jesus to be sure. But don't let their "convincement" feel like a noose around your faith-neck. Let Jesus and God's Word teach you, and lead you into all truth. Am I saying we don't need to let God use "teachers" in our lives, and that we don't need to adopt a Credo, or a Statement of Faith that makes sense to us, but that we can grow with? Of course not.

In fact, the book of PROVERBS says over an over again that the definition of a fool is "one who rejects instruction." But learn from people you know and trust, in whom you see the character and the nature of God alive and growing. And don't let people lure you into theological swamps just to prove something to you about themselves and their beliefs, or to get you to trust them and their cleverness.

The Apostle Paul uses the word "predestination" in his writings. My favorite time is when he says in ROMANS 8:29 that "those God foreknew He predestined to be conformed into the family-likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ." And the reason I'm drawn to this verse about predestination among all the others, is because here God's "predestination" is linked to God's "foreknowledge."

In other words, God doesn't make us choose Him or reject Him. But because God is beyond the "chronos" time that you and I as human beings are so easily trapped in (the passing of time that's measured by the ticking of the hands on a clock), and because God is fully engaged in "kronos" time, or "God-time", He sees the beginning, the middle, and the end of all human history as happening at the exact same moment. And so while God sees the decisions you and I will make, He doesn't make us make the choices we have made, are making, and will make. In other words ...
  • The invitation to come into the Kingdom of God is mailed to everyone who ever lived (JOHN 3:16).
  • But not everybody who opens the invitation up and reads it will make the choice to come to the party.
God gets this. It breaks His heart that some won't come to the party. But the party goes on ... and is going on right now. Welcome to the party.

If my words have become somewhat rambling, I am sorry. I'm tired. But know that I love you. And know that I'm glad that you are where you are, and that you're doing what Jesus has asked you to do. The center of God's will is the hot spot on the dance floor at the party. Dance on my little sister. Dance on. Good night and Godspeed.



09 February 2009


Have you been the caregiver to someone who is dying? About two years ago my wife Teresa was. Her mom Pat, a widow, was given 4-6 months to live. Teresa (the oldest of three children and the only daughter) cleared her schedule, flew to Spokane, and made a plan to be there every other week for the next 4-6 months.

But during her first week, her mom became so weak that Teresa stayed for five weeks until her mom died. Day and night she cared for her. Recently Teresa reflected back to the five weeks she spent with her mom and clarified the six main lessons she learned on the journey ...

  1. Caring for a person you love while they are dying is the most difficult, intimate, and holy task you will ever do in your life.
  2. Taking time to go out of the room, the house, or the hospital ... to take a walk, to drink a cup of tea or coffee, or to get some kind of exercise will make all the difference in "going the distance" as a caregiver. Doing this will help you "listen to your life" and learn the lessons you must remain open to learning while walking this difficult, and oftentimes, lonely road.
  3. Let the people who offer to help you, actually help you. Let them clean your house, tend to your yard, take care of your pets, or do whatever else they can think to do for you while you're being a caregiver ... they want their love for you to be as tangible as the love you exhibiting as a caregiver ... so let them.
  4. Touch and spoken words are beautiful things. Acts of love and kindness are a bridge that can bond two people together. But touch and the words we speak are two other important bridges. Don't buy into the doubts you might have that your loved one is unaware of your touch and/or unable to hear and find comfort in the words you speak to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
  5. If the monitor/s in your loved one's room are a distraction to you being able to focus on them, ask the nurse to turn them away from your view. This will let you center your attention more directly onto your loved one instead of on the monitors.
  6. Prayer is simply talking with God. Let your prayers out in conversation with God, instead of holding them in. Prayers can be spoken with actual words, or just said silently. God can handle the pain, the anger, the denial, the fears, and the questions that will no doubt all be part of your prayers. And in return, God will give you a peace and comfort that can come from nowhere else. God's presence and God's voice are gifts we all need -- especially while being a caregiver.

6 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying,
pray. Let petitions and praises shape your
worries into prayers, letting God know
your concerns.

Before you know it, a sense of God's whole-
ness, everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down. It's wonderful
what happens when Christ displaces worry at
the center of your life.

The days and nights of a caregiver are sacred. Give God your cares, because God cares for you. Do not be afraid little ones. You are not alone.



12 January 2009


As the pastor and teacher of 2nd Street Community Church, it’s my prayer that whenever we gather together here on Sundays, and when we get together in ministry teams, or in community groups, that we will always allow God to use our times of worship, study, fellowship and service, to train our hearts and our minds to come to the place where we’re more surrendered to Him, and more willing to pray for, and come alongside our Christian brothers and sisters in the world whose faith is causing them undeniable persecution … even persecution that ends in death. And I see a FAITH LESSON for us here …


The life Jesus Christ calls us to as His
followers is a “CHANGED LIFE” … it’s a life
of “TRANSFORMATION.” And it’s a life, that
even in North America should be seen as
and that should, if we’re living it out the
way God calls us to, will have us swimming

When I was first became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1978 I knew that Jesus was changing my life, but frankly, I didn’t want to have to become all that different from the way I was before I came into a relationship with Him.

I wanted TO ADD SOME JESUS into the mix of who I was; but I wasn’t all that interested in “TOTAL TRANSFORMATION.” I didn’t want to lose any of my friends who weren’t yet following Jesus Christ. I still got drunk pretty regularly, and I still smoked a lot of weed with my buddies. I still liked going to profane movies. I basically acted the same way as before I was a Christian. And nobody ever really hassled me about becoming a Christian because it was just kind of A PRIVATE CONTRACT that I’d made with Jesus.

I mean my friends knew that I was going to church, but that was about it. God forgave my sins, and then I basically made the choice to stay the way I was before I met Him. In other words, not too much SURRENDER was happening. I was like an employee who really liked getting a paycheck, but who wasn’t all that excited about actually showing up to work and staying on task with the job they’d been hired to do.

But then one night, several months into my new life with Jesus Christ, a friend of mine who knew I’d started going to church, said to me, “Man, you’re such a cool Christian.” And God used his words like a glass of cold water thrown in my face to wake me up. And it was at about the same time, that I remember my pastor teaching through EZEKIEL 36:25-27 …


25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.
26 And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. (emphasis added)
27 And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command.

Gang, the bottom line is that God wanted to do this work of TRANSFORMATION in me (just the way He wants to do it in all of us) and I was settling for so much less than He had in mind. When we’re living life the way Jesus calls us to live, our lives, our values, and our priorities will be totally different from the values and the priorities of the world – and that because of that, Jesus says here that there will even be some people won’t like us. And this message from Jesus started to soak in.

And it wasn’t very long after that night when I stopped trying to convince people that I was the same person … but just with a little bit of Jesus added … because I wasn’t the same person! Jesus was changing me from the inside out. Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote about this to his friends in the city of Corinth.


17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

When we make the choice to SURRENDER to Jesus Christ and begin to live the life He calls us to live, He’ll be pleased, but not everybody else in our lives might be. And within a few weeks of making that choice to allow Jesus Christ to tell me about how to live, many of my “FRIENDS” walked away from me.

But that was okay, because the One who didn’t walk away from me was Jesus Christ. He stuck closer to me than a brother. He never turned His back on me. He never gave up on me. Here’s how Jesus talked about this truth in The Gospel of Luke … and how the Apostle Paul talked about it with his friend Timothy …


26a How terrible when people only speak well of you.
12 Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted;

Notice, that Jesus and Paul didn’t say that people who follow Him “might” experience persecution. He said that after we make the choice to SURRENDER our lives to Him, that IF WE’RE NOT EXPERIENCING a new kind of rub and conflict with the world because of our choice to be connected to Him, then we’d better go back to square one and ask ourselves if we’ve really chosen Him above everything else, if we’ve invited Him to be the LORD and Master of our lives, and if we’ve really SURRENDERED to His desire to teach us a whole new way to be human. Godspeed.