God Is Not Mad At You

When I tell Christians this, they often balk. Few believers know how to live their lives in the freedom of Christ-completed work. Instead these believers live lives in a three-step dance of sin, guilt and confession; the second step being unnecessary as guilt is a useless commodity for believers in the kingdom of God.

This process of sin, guilt and confession is what causes some Christians to hate sin for the wrong reason. Think about it. Why do you hate sin? If you are like me in the past, you’ve hated sin more for the way it made you feel or the results of your sin then hating sin itself. Yes, we need to hate the consequences of sin, but the primary reason for hating sin is because sin is everything God is not and when we sin we break God’s heart. For God, lack of condemnation towards you and a broken heart can co-exist.

Thus, the amount you hate sin is tied into how much you experience love for and from God. When you love God, you no longer avoid sin because of the law or fear. Instead, you avoid sin, because you want to bring pleasure to the Father. Your righteousness becomes a love language. This is why freedom from sin is found in the place you least expect it. Freedom from sin comes from focusing on your love relationship with God rather then creating a fail-safe program for sin management.

Since the Devil knows this, he will continue to convince Christians that God is mad at them. Why? The reason is that we tend to avoid people who are angry with us. When we avoid God, we are also avoiding his love and acceptance.

Here’s the truth, God’s not mad at you. Go in peace.

Rom. 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Rom. 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Does Your Marriage Matter

Almost twenty-three years ago, my friend Torry pulled me out of a Tijuana gutter. It would be the last gutter I would lay in. The next day was the first in a continuing two-decade journey into my sobriety. I spent that final night of intoxication sleeping at Torry’s parents, a place I had been inebriated many times before.
Even as a self-focused, addicted teen, I knew something was different about Dick and Connie’s place. Whenever there, my life seemed to find more ballast. There was just something about the spirit of their home. There was something special about them together.
More then anything, when I was there, I knew I was accepted. Conversations were never started with an ulterior motive. They never preached at me. Instead, they just invited me into their home.
Don’t get me wrong. It was obvious they loved Jesus. Dick was an oak of a man, firmly rooted in the word of God, Connie always busy doing some Bible Study Fellowship lesson while worship music resounded from the kitchen like the continual muzak at TJ Maxx.
Looking back, I can see that their marriage, their absolute way of being together, acted as a megaphone to me of what a marriage could look like in a culture short on commitment and love. I was being discipled without knowing it.
I remember Dick once saying that he disliked the passage about not being married once getting to heaven—unable to imagine an eternity away from Connie’s side. They were the bible’s epitome of one flesh.
Last week I got a text telling me that Connie had lost her battle with cancer. The first thing I did was think, “What is Dick going to do?” Then I thought about my own wife, knowing that this day would eventually come to our shores as well.
What I realized is that like Dick and Connie, Karie and my marriage has an opportunity. We have an opportunity to present to our girls, their friends and this world, what a marriage that matters looks like—marriages that reach beyond their own happiness. Dick and Connie had that kind of marriage and because of it, mine is eternally grateful.

Dodgeball and Common Grace: A parent’s shot a long devotion

I got a call from Lily’s kindergarten teacher asking if I would come in and volunteer at lunchtime as a playground dad. Someone else could not make it and they needed a replacement. It was early September and the year had just begun. I agreed and showed up the following Friday for duty.
Somehow, that one afternoon has turned into four years of Friday lunches, countless dodge ball games and amazing opportunities to let kids know they matter.
More then anything, it has been a chance to be available—available to my daughter, available to her friends. I never show up with an agenda and I don’t really consider it ministry. It is just life. It is my daughter’s life, and I get to be a part of it in a way that matters to her.
About halfway through my first year of doing this, I prayed a prayer that meant as much to me as any prayer I have ever prayed, “God, I pray that you would allow me to see these kids graduate high school.” I was asking God if I could be a weekly campus presence until Lily’s final week of her senior year in 2020. It was a big prayer with big consequences. It was a commitment to stay put and not seek the next big opportunity.
At this point, I don’t know what it would take for me to break that commitment. Cancer maybe? It would most definitely not be for a better paying job or career advancement. I just don’t really care about all that. The cost is too high, those fourth graders too precious. I know them now, their struggles, their joys, their hopes.
There have been no miracles yet that I know of. No one has given his or her life to Christ as a result of me being there. Rather, it is just common grace in ordinary events and an opportunity at long devotion in a single direction.

Give Your Kids The Keys Blog Tour On Conversant

I just started a blog tour on Conversantlife.com check it out and join the conversation.
“Oh no, oh no!” were the words I heard, along with a scream, as I woke up out of a dead sleep. I opened my eyes to find us heading toward a massive semi-trailer truck at 65 mph. It was the last day of our yearly snowboard pilgrimage to Mammoth Mountain, in California. My wife, Karie, was driving, and we were headed home. We were on HWY 395, about 20 minutes outside of Bishop, and just a few miles from the spot where you can often see herds of elk.

Startled by my wife’s scream, I awoke as my heart raced from a virtual 0 to 60. In front of us loomed a Mack truck. There was nothing I could do. In that moment, Karie had to make a decision that our family’s lives depended on. She had two options. She could slam on the brakes and hope to weave back in behind the truck that was to our right, praying that he would not also brake; or she could hit the gas…

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Question I answered on children and prayer for an upcoming national article

How important do you believe prayer is in a child’s life? Why? There is no
difference between the importance of prayer in the life of a child and an
adult. For Jesus, prayer was life and life was prayer there was no
separation. Prayer is the language of our life in Christ. Think about it in
natural as opposed to spiritual terms. If a child could not communicate well
by the age of 5 we would quickly call in a specialist to help solve the
problem. The same standard is not held in the crucial area of prayer. Few
children know how to really talk to God yet alone hear God’s voice for
themselves. Even fewer pray when their parents are not looking. The
importance of this cannot be overstated. I would argue that a child’s faith
is not their own until they begin to pray and seek God on their own. For
some reason, we have relegated this ability to the teenage years. The longer
a parent waits to disciple their child in this area the less of a chance
they will create a sustainable faith in their children.

What mistakes do you think adults may make with children when it comes to
the really big prayers? Fear and lack of faith are the two biggest hurdles I
see when it comes to allowing our children to live a full life in Christ.
We are afraid that if our kids pray for a friend with cancer and that friend
is not healed, then their faith might be shaken, that they might doubt God.
Sure, we need to protect our kids from some of the disturbing details of
certain prayer request, but we never need to protect them from God.
Overcoming doubt with faith is part of the full life in Christ. If you are
constantly trying to remove every opportunity for your child to wrestle with
their faith, to wrestle in prayer, you will be building a faith of straw and
one that will not stand the trials that might lie ahead.

What do you think it says about our own faith when we coach children to pray
(or not to pray) for miracles? The problem in praying for miracles with our
kids comes only when we begin to direct their faith to the results of our
prayers instead of the miracle worker who is God. Believing, faith-filled
prayer focuses on God’s ability not God’s decision making process. Much of
what we see in the area of praying in faith is more about concentration in
the moment then faith in an all powerful God. Parents who pray big prayers
with kids believe in God to sustain their child’s faith no matter what the
result. I guess what I am trying to say is that we don’t need to protect our
kids from God. Recently my three-year-old made the statement, “God can
always heal, but sometimes He doesn’t.” This is the essence of faith-filled
prayer. Unfortunately, many adults I work with are still not at this level
of understanding.

What is your philosophy of prayer? In other words, what do you believe the
core purpose of prayer is