Why Men Hate Going To Church (notes from David Murrow)

My notes from listening to David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going To Church:

Top 7 excuses men give for not going to church:

  1. "It's boring!"
  2. "It's irrelevant to my life."
  3. "They ask for money too much."
  4. "I'm not ready to change."
  5. "I don't like preachers."
  6. "I don't need a church to feel close to God."
  7. "There are too many hypocrites."
These are just excuses, not the real reason.  The real reason is that men feel unwanted and unneeded in most churches.

If more men went to church, it would vastly improve our society.  The quickest way to reform society would be to get men into church.  Men commit crimes at four times the rate of women.  The best fathers are men who are highly involved in evangelical churches.

Why do men hate going to church?  What do we need to change to get men in church or change the church into a man friendly place for him to join?

By and large, we see Jesus effeminately.  We are much more comfortable presenting Jesus in terms of feminine values.  Our churches have a feminine vibe.

  • That average church is 61% female and 39% male (adults).
  • 25% of church-going-married-women attend alone.
  • Women comprise 2/3 to 3/4 or church volunteers.
  • Young, single men are an "endangered species" in the North American church, comprising 2% of the whole.
  • In other religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism; it's about 50/50, men and women.
  • Islam is wildly popular with men,
  • 90% of men in the US believe in God.
  • Five out of six men call themselves christian.
  • But only one in six men attend church regularly.
  • Men believe in God and love God, but don't want to go to church.
  • A sign of a growing church is when there is over 40% men and decline is when there is under 40% men in a congregation.
  • When a church is 70% female (only 30% men), that is a church that is in decline and soon to close.
  • 3,000 churches close in the US close their doors each year and these are mostly 70% or more female.
  1. Most men think that church is for women, weirdos and wimps.
  2. They feel that they don't need church to be a good person.
  3. It is hard for a man to win at church.  Everything is competition for men.  If a man can not win, he does not want to play.  
  4. Our churches are by and large, geared to women.  Women are better readers: 4 times as many men have reading disorders.  Women are better at expressing or sharing out loud.  Women are better at polite conversation and small talk.  Women are better at hugging and holding hands with strangers.
Our newer evangelical worship songs are very effeminate and men can't relate as well as women can:
  • "let your love surround me"
  • "you are beautiful, my sweet sweet song"
  • "hold me close"
  • "let your love surround me'
  • "I'm desperate you you: lost without you"
Men prefer the way the old hymns were worded.  Men want the language of respect, not romance!  The "lovey dovey", "love affair with God", songs that are now popular, are weird and a little bit uncomfortable for normal men.  

Men are by nature and not as naturally or trained to be emotional: the way that is sort of encouraged in church services.  Men don't want to hold hands with strangers or even their buddy that they know!

Men have a much harder time sitting still than women do, because men have 10 times as much testosterone.  It makes us fidgety and makes us want to get up and move!  Which people, which men have the most testosterone?  Teenage boys, which is why they are the hardest ones to find in church.  (We have tried to force boys to be like girls.)

Boys and young men and all men want to move around, build stuff, do show and tell.

Men start to fall asleep at the 15 minute mark of a sermon.  They can't take listening to a monologue for past 15 minutes.

Most all 'volunteer opportunities' at church are feminine:  food, child-care, greeting.  Men's gifts or abilities are not being used and they are being offered "jobs" that are feminine by and large and they are not excited or interested.

Men want to, are motivated to go to church when they have a skill to offer; or when their skills and gifts are needed and valued.  Most men do not want to be "freeloaders" or just consumers, but want to contribute- not money, but a skill or a job: work.  If they are not given something to do, they have a hard time belonging and they don't want to do women's (feminine) traditional jobs usually.

Men prefer conservative Christian churches and it is the same in Judaism.  Liberal churches have higher percentages of women than conservative or orthodox churches - same in Judaism.

One reason men don't get much out of church is that church is too 'wordy'.  Men don't learn as much by long lectures and readings and sharing, as by short, spot-on teachings and object lessons.  (Men are more kinetic learners.  Jesus taught his men with illustrations from the culture around them and by doing.  Teach-do, tell-show-tell.)

Women are fine in male environments or with what males are more comfortable with, but men are not comfortable in feminine environments.  This is why our churches fail for men, when our environments and style is more feminine than masculine.  Men are ok to a degree when things are 50/50 in the culture and atmosphere, but when things are very feminine, they are put off and uncomfortable, and leave.

For example, many women are ok with trying out a traditional male role or job or environment like a construction site, with hard hats, tool belts and work boots.  But you will not find very many men who would be the least bit comfortable in a feminine environment.

A man does not not have any desire to be at a baby shower.  So, if a man visits a church and it is like a baby shower, with all the nice attributes a baby shower has, that man is going say that this is a nice place for his wife, but "no thanks" for him.

Men want adventure, challenge, teamwork and competition.

There's been a call lately to "call men back to church", but we really need to "call the church back to men".

Men don't want to sing romantic songs to God and listen to somebody talk for 30 to 60 minutes, unless the man is an excellent speaker/teacher/preacher.

Much of the love talk in the church has been overtly maternal.  We need father love and mother love.

Men see the world through rules.  Women see the world through the lens of relationship.  When we over emphasize relationship, we forget rules, saying we are emphasizing love, but we obsess on "who" rather than "what"; and we end up rewriting what the Bible says about "who".

Our churches have screened out and pushed out the men and boys who have testosterone and want to conquer the world,

We have over emphasized worship, worship music and praise and worship bands; and this has been detrimental to boys and teens.  (We have kind of made an idol out of this)  The boys who are 'high achievement', and 'high testosterone', who want to do stuff - pray, evangelize, and fellowship; play games, learn together, eat and talk, run and play, see and do:  these boys leave the church, unless they are a gifted musician and like the praise & worship band gig and all that attention 'thing'.

Manly guys end up leaving church after age 18, because they simply don't fit in: guys with ambition and testosterone.

The book- "I kissed dating goodbye"(1996), was very damaging to a whole generation of youth in the evangelical church.  One of the worst books ever written.  It made dating scary and not doable.  We told men that they can't date and can't win in church with women, so they left the church.

Many boys and men have retreated into video games, for the above reasons.

However, many churches are getting better.  Sunday school has become more kinetic, which boys like.

Youth group is still a problem (artistic, feminine).

Many churches, especially many mega churches have become more masculine and man friendly and it is working.

What happens when churches are more masculine and less feminine?  What about the women and children, then?  Answer:  They love it.  The church grows.  The most attractive thing to a Godly woman is a Godly man.  When the men leave, the glory departs with them, and women don't like it either and they leave.

Women sacrifice rules on the altar of relationships.  Men sacrifice relationships on the altar of rules.  When Jesus came, he confronted a male dominated culture that was bound by rules and killed relationships.  Today, we make the mistake of killing all rules in the name of relationships, believing we are being like Christ or Jesus-shaped, when we are really falling into compromise and liberalism excessively, licentiously; creating a anti-man christian culture, supposedly in Jesus name.

We have made Jesus love, to be a feeling and to being nice, instead of obedience.

Vindication and The Presence of God

A prayer of David:

Lord, hear a just cause; (Listen to me, Lord.)
pay attention to my cry; (It's my piercing cry for justice!)
listen to my prayer— (My cause is just and my need is real.)
from lips free of deceit. (I've done what is right and my lips speak truth.)
Let my vindication come from You, (Lord, I always live my life before your face,)
for You see what is right. (so examine and exonerate me.  Vindicate me and show the world I'm innocent.)

-Psalm 17:1-2 (HCSB, (TPT))

I believe in vindication from God.  God is going to avenge or do revenge on the enemy.

It seems to me that the key strategy of the enemy is to weave lies into the world to stop the progress of the kingdom and the saints.  There is a whole spectrum of lies that are told about God, about faith and about each one of us, to stop us and hold us back.

I can not tell you what you or those you love need vindication from.  But I can tell you that I believe God is about vindicating.

I can tell you that vindication is not something we do for our selves.  Vindication is when God avenges and takes revenge on the enemy.  

He does it all the time.  And it is something that we can expect and do not need to help God do.  He will do it and we can see God do it.

We dwell in God's presence and God exacts revenge, vengeance and vindication for us against the enemy.

And this is about the enemy and God's war on the enemy.  This is not about revenge on people or war on people.  Governments and armies and human warfare is a different thing.

Our brothers and sisters are never our enemy, even if they act like our enemy.  The enemy is the demonic realm, headed by satan.  That enemy is involved in mischief, all sorts of lies, murder and destruction in the world, against humans and God's kingdom.

The enemy has done a whole host of bad things, and God is all about turning that destruction and those lies and the bondage around into freedom and blessing.  Vindication is the word and vindication time is upon us.

 Here are some resources on what vindication is all about.

From vocabulary.com:

Vindication is a sweet thing — when you get vindication, you've been proven right or justified in doing something. Everyone accused of a crime craves vindication.
Vindication is good, but it can only come after something bad, like being accused of something you didn't do. If a teacher thought you cheated, but then announced to the whole class that you didn't, you're getting vindication. An accused criminal who is exonerated — cleared of the crime — gets vindication. If you believe something crazy — like that your underdog sports team could win a championship — and it comes true, that's a vindication of your beliefs.
From, etymolgy.com:
vindication (n.) late 15c., "act of avenging, revenge," from Old French vindicacion "vengeance, revenge" and directly from Latin vindicationem (nominative vindicatio) "act of claiming or avenging," noun of action from past participle stem of vindicare "lay claim to, assert; claim for freedom, set free; protect, defend; avenge" (related to vindicta "revenge"), probably from vim dicare "to show authority," from vim, accusative of vis "force" (see vim) + dicare "to proclaim" (see diction). Meaning "justification by proof, defense against censure" is attested from 1640s.
From Thesaurus.com:
Synonyms of Vindication:  (Primary) exonerate, revenge.  (Secondarily) justification, exoneration, exculpation, acquittal/acquittance, mitigation, apology, compurgation, amnesty, dismissal.
Here is a vindication prayer:

From David's prayer:

"Lord, hear a just cause; pay attention to my cry;
listen to my prayer— from lips free of deceit.
Let my vindication come from You, for You see what is right."
(Ps. 17:1-2, HCSB)

And from  a song of David's:

"They all will stand awestruck, over what God has done,
seeing how he vindicated the victims of those crimes.

The lovers of God will be glad, rejoicing in the Lord.
They will be found in his glorious wrap-around presence
singing songs of praise to God!"
(Ps. 64:9-10, TPT)

About Psalm 17, my first thought was that this is a declarative prayer that asks God to vindicate us:  Asking God to prove we are right.

But then I thought, maybe it means something about being vindicated in relationship with God?

This prayer is asking for God to examine me and exonerate me, showing others that I am innocent of any false charges that have been leveled against me.

In other words, the prayer might be asking for those who would believe something untrue to see the goodness of God in me and in my life, even though I am just a human being who makes mistakes and gets it wrong sometimes.

Is that it, or part of it?

There is also a prayer that says, "Deliver me from the lust of vindicating myself".

The word, "From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!", means; "let me continue to abide in you and somehow in however you, God, choose; let me be in the vindication that is in Christ."

When I see Jesus Christ as the definition of God.  And when I see Jesus' death on the cross as the definitional lens from which I see God; it gives me perspective of my life in Christ.

In time, and eternity; Jesus Christ has been vindicated.  And I am vindicated as I am in Christ.

When it says, "From your presence, let my vindication come", it means that, "In abiding in you, I am vindicated: so let that be, let that come, and let that happen in my life."

The work or intention of my life is to abide in Christ.  And everything in my life is about my relationship to God.  God is intensely relational.

Every challenge I face, every trial, every argument, every disagreement and every disappointment are occasions or opportunities to trust God, know God, have faith in God, be loved by God and come to know again that God is good.  That is the presence of God from which my vindication comes.

The presence of God is the face of God.  "Lord, I will always live before your face." (Ps. 17:2)

The presence of God is in the face of God.  Where God faces, God's presence is.  I want to be before God's face.

Getting in someone's face is something we say when we really tell someone off.  But the Bible concept of this is that we want to be in God's presence.  Seeking God's face is the intention to be in God's presence.

To seek God's face is to ask for an audience with the King and to ask for an increase in God's presence in our place where we are.

To say, "Vindicate me in your presence", is to ask God for a transformed life.  We do not know how our vindication will work out or play out with others, but our vindication is what we desire and ask for.

When we say, "Vindicate me!", we are not telling God to do it or how to do it.  We are giving up our right to do it and agreeing that God is the vindicator.

I am putting all my trust into God to be my judge and make all the right judgments about me and for me.

I don't think we have to convince God that we are right.  Instead, we are going to live in asking for God to put His gaze on what we are doing and what we are saying and to make it righteous.  Maybe that is what living before God's face is all about.

"Vindicate me", is asking God to turn around the false accusations and mis-judgments in my life.  And the "From You", part means that I want God's presence in my life.  I want to kisses of God on my face.

To live before God's face is to live in transparency and honesty.  We are asking God to give us a clear and blessed relationship with God manifested out into the world we live in.

I want to live in God's embrace so much that when I am accused or mis-judged or slighted in any way, real or imagined; that I just have to look into the face of God and then it is not my problem.  My prayer is that I will live in God's presence, and all the settling of what is unsettling will come upon me from God.

I want to see God do vindications, vengeance and revenge on the enemy.  The ministry of Jesus, setting captives free and turning lives around is known in the non-believing world.  The fear of God will be known to all and all of us will be in awe at the turn arounds that God does in the lives of people who have been falsely blamed, charged, guilted, disapproved and indicted by God's enemies.

The wrap-around presence of God and the glory of God is where vindication comes from, overturning the works of the enemy.

We will not just praise God for what we believe, but what he is doing now.  Our praises to God will be for actual works of God in our day to day lives, where in God is vindicating his Children.

The Great Joy of Seekers

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure.
And when they saw the star, they were so ecstatic that they shouted and celebrated with unrestrained joy.
-Matthew 2:10 (HCBS, TPT)

Joy is a remarkable emotion that we get to experience.  And in the birth story of Jesus, the people who experienced incredible joy were the wise men, from the east.

They were experts at reading stars. They were interested in magic, dream interpretation and the future.  Magicians is what they were ("Magi") and they seemed to be honest inquirers of the truth.  Some other magicians in the Bible were indeed charlatans (Acts 8:9, 13:6-8).

The Magi did not just feel some joy or gladness, but the way Matthew writes it, is that they were exuberant and ecstatic.  "Overjoyed beyond measure", or "So ecstatic that they shouted and celebrated with unrestrained joy".  They were "thrilled" (CEV), "could hardly contain themselves" (MSG), "their joy knew no bounds" (TLB) and they were, "overjoyed and enraptured" (VOICE).

Keep in mind also that their explosion of joy was just over seeing that star (again).  It was only the guiding sign that caused them go wild with joy.  They had not seen Jesus yet.

Most of us, in my western, predominantly european rooted, caucasian culture know almost nothing of this kind of joy.  When was the last time that you jumped up and down or ran in circles or danced or shouted with unrestrained joy, over a piece of guidance that you believed was is from God?

I would bet that many believers have never danced for joy over a sign from God.  And I think that many believers would say that people who would unleash a public display of extreme joyousness are crazy.  Or perhaps many of us would just be uncomfortable seeing this sort of response in public.

To be fair, there are probably many believers who do not have a negative opinion about exuberant celebration and unrestrained joy; but just do not roll that way, because nobody around them does it or encourages it.

I know people, who attend churches where the people dance in worship.  In my past, I attended a church, where we danced with unrestrained joy, during our worship times.

It has always been funny to me, that in our western culture, we yell and scream at sports games; and dance is a part of our culture, but mostly only in either productions or in night clubs; but not in church or when we gather with believers.

Eugene Petersen calls the Magi, "A band of scholars".  Brian Simmons calls the Magi, "A group of spiritual priests'".  Other translations commonly say "Wise men", and a few dare to say, "Astrologers".

Maybe these guys are, what we in our western Christian culture, would call "New Agers"?  This fits better for me, than saying that they were part of a cult, which implies they were religious or practitioners of a religion.  Closer still would be to say that they were in the occult.

Occult means hidden and different.  Witches and warlocks who practice witchcraft are occult.  Are magicians, people who practice non-Judeo/Christian spirituality, and magicians who are more than illusionists in the occult?  Maybe and probably.

We have to get our heads around how people can have a spirituality outside of the Judeo/Christian framework, and be seeking God.  There is some mystery surrounding these wise men.  All we know is that they were these people called Magi, which is short for magician, and that they were 'star gazers' and 'star scholars', who somehow discerned the special light in the sky, that signaled the birth of The King of the Jews.

Some have postulated the theory that these guys were descendents from people who were influenced by Daniel.  They learned about God, The Jews, and the coming Messiah, from Daniel or the teachings passed down from Daniel.  Maybe.  (Dan. 2:48 & 9:24-27)

What is notable is that these people were searching for Messiah and they were not Palestinian Jews.  They were from outside the area and were not connected to Jerusalem, the center of Judaism.  And they were not just explorers or historians or researchers.  They were worshipers.

These guys were 'off-the-map', 'off-the-grid' and 'outside-the-camp' from traditional believers.  Yet, they were guided, knew exactly who they were seeking, desired to worship him, traveled a great distance in danger and brought expensive gifts to give the King of the Jews.

These wise men remind us that giving gifts back to Jesus, who is the gift, and the King, is what this whole thing is about.

The reason they followed the star that pointed them to the Jerusalem area, but evidently not Jerusalem itself, was to worship a child who was born King.  In the time of Jesus birth, there had been the 'Messianic Expectation' in Israel.  But it was much more fever pitch in some quarters, like perhaps with the Essenes.

Herod did not consult with the Essenes, but with Sadducees and Pharisees, who ended up being hostile to Jesus, during his ministry, ultimately killing him for impersonating Messiah.

The joy of the wise men is in stark contrast to the indifference of the priests and the scribes.  We read that "Jerusalem was alarmed" at the news that the wise men brought.  They were not joyous and we have no record of Jerusalemites who followed the wise men's lead and also wanted to find the Messiah child and worship him.

Because of Herod's brutality, that is illustrated later in the chapter, when he kills all the children in Bethlehem, two years old and under, we can understand the alarm in Jerusalem, to a certain extent.  But the larger scope of the story is that God chose to be born into such a dangerous time, under the nose of a brutal tyrant.

When God comes inconveniently and dangerously, are we going to reject God or follow joyfully?

The part of the story I am looking at is how these Magi were overjoyed in their journey, even before finding Jesus, which is sadly contrasted with the indifference of the Jewish leaders and the people of Jerusalem, who were more upset that Herod would get mad than being lit up and curious about the birth of the savior and their King.

The point might be or the application for us today is that God may be leading people outside the normal Christian paradigm, perhaps people we would describe as "New Agers", to himself.  I do not claim to know if they have been born again yet.  But they have a radical purity of heart.

These people are on a journey to find God.  They are excited about the journey they are on.  And God is leading them.

But they may not be Christians, from their own self-identification or from how believers see them.  These seekers are guileless, apolitical and child-like in their pursuit of God.

They are coming and God is guiding them to Jesus.  The question for us is this:  Will we help them find Jesus?  Or will be be put off by their culture, their false, fake, counterfeit, spooky and deceived beliefs, shewing them or shunning them?  Will we block the way to Jesus?  Or will we throw open the way to Him, seeing seekers as people God is saving?

Will we join into the exuberant, extravagant celebratory joy of the seekers who are finding?  Will we allow very different people to belong to God's family (our family) before they have become children of God?  Can we allow people who do not have their doctrine straight to worship the King and bring him extravagant gifts?


Joy is a remarkable emotion that people experience when God is leading them into knowing Jesus.  There is a joyful rejoicing that is overflowing in the life of a person who is discovering Jesus.  We love to see and experience this with everyone.

Seven Gifts From God To Me

Christmastime is the busiest time of year for me.  But a number of things just happened to me that I want to share here, before the memories fade.

This week is the 'In-between' week of the whole year, like when we see the odometer in our cars, with all the nines lining up, before they turn over to zero.

Here are seven things, seven stories, seven gifts that God gave me over this past week:

1. I got trapped and rescued.

On Christmas eve, eve, eve (three days before Christmas); I got stuck and rescued.  I got stuck in an elevator at work.  I was reticent to press the red alarm button.  I was alone and had my phone.  There were no 'bars' for cell phone reception.  But I was able to connect to wi-fi and write an email.

I wrote an email I have never written before, saying, "I am trapped".  I wrote to three ladies I had just seen in the office.  And I wrote to my boss, who is off-site, asking if he could call security.

When one of the ladies in the office saw my email, she came out and alerted the security lady, who did whatever they do to make the elevator door open.  And I got out.  The little ordeal was probably less than 10 minutes.

The security people asked why I did not press the red alarm button.  I did not want to cause a fuss, but paradoxically, I needed to in order to alert the authority that I had a problem.  I chose to do the emailing first.  And if I did not have my phone or had other passengers with me, I would have pressed the red button.

My ordeal of being stuck made me ask for help.  I am a person that does not ask for help as much as some people.  I try to get myself out of the fixes that I find myself in.  But I know that God likes people to help people.

I had a mentor years ago that introduced me to that story where the man is on the roof of his house during a flood and refuses to be rescued.  He keeps telling various human rescuers that he is praying to God for his rescue.  The irony of that story is that perhaps God kept answering his prayer, but he rejected the help God sent.

My being trapped was humiliating, because I could not rescue myself.  I was in prayer and the elevator did not miraculously open.  I needed people, these particular women, to get me out.

The tools I had were myself, the red button and my cell phone using available wi-fi.  The provision was those ladies who helped me.

At about 7 pm, I left my work area and headed to the parking lot.  Guess who was also in the hall heading for her car?  It was the security lady who got me out of the elevator.

I greeted her by saying, "Hello my friend!"  We chatted as we walked together to the parking lot.  When we parted, I thanked her again.

2. Moving in the opposite spirit when burnout set in.

On Christmas eve-eve, two days before Christmas, I found myself to be in full burnout and exhaustion.  I got all my work done.  But my mind was fried and negativity came pouring in and I fell for it to a large extent.

Then, it was like my spirit came to the forefront and steered me, my body and soul in a positive direction.  I began to move in the opposite of the negativity that the burnout induced in me.

In my slough of despair and in great weakness, I asked God to help me, and Holy Spirit came in my heart and turned the lights on.  I still felt exhausted, in body and and mind, but I was strangely encouraged and did this thing called moving in the opposite spirit.

I actually laughed out loud at the negativity that tempted and grabbed me hours before.  I had been beside myself and was delivered back into God's embrace and I had this joy from outside this world.  I laughed at the false flags that the enemy had flown.

3.  Agreeing in marriage together.

At the end of Christmas eve-eve, and into Christmas eve, my wife and I came into agreement.  It began when I was experiencing moving in the opposite spirit and continued into the next day of Christmas eve.

I believe in unity, agreement, accord, harmony, concurrence and consensus.  The harmony with my wife became and is so good, that I see that as my Christmas gift that I opened first, on Christmas eve, from Jesus.

We decided together, to go to church on Christmas eve.  We discussed and researched and searched for churches in our region.  The clock was ticking and we needed to get to wherever on time and squeeze dinner in.

I was going to do last minute shopping with my son, followed by McDonald's.  Instead, we rushed to McD's for an early dinner, then all went to a Christmas eve service at our neighborhood church.

It was a nice service, with Christmas carols and readings.  The older pastor gave an outstanding message to the children, sharing how Jesus came into his heart when he was a child of missionaries, in Brazil.  And the younger pastor gave a succinct message about Mary and Joseph and Jesus' birth, accentuating the fact that they were refugees, and that God chose to be born into that very dangerous and chaotic time.

The service ended with candle light caroling outside, in my neighborhood.

4.  Christmas morning.

On Christmas, I began waking up at 5 minutes before 5 am, and then my cat fully woke me, just before 5 am, as she was coughing a hair ball in the hall.  I got up and there was my son.  Then, my wife got up.

The plan had been that my son and I would sip coffee and wait for sunrise, and wake my wife at 5 till 7.  But she decided to get up at 5 am and join us!  I got some coffee, and we opened presents from 5 am to 6 am.

I video taped much of our openings and sent the two compilations of clips to our relatives in Virginia.

5.  Meeting a special person and a lost and found story.

The most special thing that happened at our larger family gathering was meeting a special person, who is the special person in someone's life, who is a family member.  This special person's love language seems to be gift giving and we thoroughly enjoyed giving and receiving from this special person.  Her gift to my son might even be his favorite Christmas gift.

In the midst of this joy, she lost her car keys.  We looked everywhere and I prayed.  My mother in law searched through all the cushions and we discovered after some time that she lost her wedding rings in so doing.  I got the idea that the keys were lost in the car, and that is where they ended up being; in a nook somewhere, even though it was a group of keys with a plastic remote attached.

And we found my wife's mom's rings, by flipping over the recliners and shaking them; that she had been plunging her fingers into, searching earlier.

6.  'Car trouble' help from a new friend.

I bought my current car new 12 years ago this week and it now has over 200,000 miles on it.  I actually envisioned selling it when the odometer went past 100,000, thinking it would still be worth something and that would be before major problems began to strike.

Turns out that there have not really been major problems.  Everything has been pretty routine, including putting in a new radiator about 18 months ago.  Radiators wear out before engines and transmissions, usually; losing efficiency and becoming brittle.

Anyway, I have to do the bi-annual smog check and now is that time.  My car had trouble with the computer port that they plug into, for the air data numbers.  And the man who worked on my car went the third mile, to get the port to communicate and be able to pass my car.

When I saw him struggling, I prayed for him and for my car and the diagnostic equipment.  He already had introduced himself, telling me he was from Jordan, at the beginning of the process.  I had discerned through looking around, that he was a Christian, and I told him I prayed for him, and we had a great conversation when he was handing off the car back to me.

I was really thankful that my car was able to pass.  And I was thankful for the happenstance meeting with this Godly Jordanian man.  Years ago, when I was upset about a car problem, my friend advised me with saying, "It's just a car".  True.  Many other problems are far more serious.

I try to save money by doing all I can do to my cars.  And I have to tell myself and am encouraged by my loved ones, that this is good, but I am free to pay others to work on them and Father is my provider, financially.  We can take our cars in for maintenance, even to the dealership (sometimes called 'stealership'), where there prices are usually higher, and that is OK with God.

7. Christmastime reconciliation to my destiny.

I have this idea, on several fronts, that Christmastime is a time of reconciliation.  The Christian letters come from old friends.  We have people who were dear and near, in the past, who are now estranged from us and we do not even exchange cards.

We might get the idea to look up an old friend around this time of year, with all the feelings Christmas brings up.  And that recalling of a past friendship might entail some reconciliation of myself to them or of myself now to the person I was with them, years ago.

Christmastime is also a time to reconcile the books on the past year.  There is still time!  Over two days, as I type this.

This has been a very hard and painful year, but also a good year in many ways.  Some very important seasons ended in my life and in the lives of those I am closest to, as we lost two, who were our husbands, dads and grandpas.

This morning I did some exercising in writing down the negative stuff that comes up that I want to get reconciled right now and done, out, cleared and away by the 30th.  The 31st is the day when it is transition between the two years.

Here is a non-comprehensive, sketch, 'bad list' of emotions I am personally wanting to process out, that is towards myself, and my life, which affects my relationship with God and who I am really meant to be, as in my destiny. If these were left undealt with, they would grow, fester, block and prevent me from being who God wants me to be and from coming into my calling, my destiny and receiving my inheritance:

  • anger
  • fear
  • grief
  • rage
  • sadness
  • hopelessness
  • mistaken identity
  • self-hate

And this is the list of the reality of who God is, to me.  This is a list of who I really believe God is and want to live in believing that He is to me.  This is the reality that I want to live in of God.  And it is to this list that I am bing reconciled to live in.  A side note is that I believe that I can feel any of those negative emotions listed above, but I do not want to live or stay there, in them, or draw life or my whole meaning from them.  And most of all, I do not define God, based on those emotions.  But I want every fiber of my being, my dna, to live in the reality of this list about God:

  • God is good to me
  • God is gracious to me
  • God is kind to me
  • God renews me
  • God revives me
  • God gives me rest
  • God assigns and reassigns me
  • God is generous to me
  • God is always forgiving towards me
  • God always shows me mercy
  • God has been and continues to heal me
  • God is always and continues to set me free
That is what I am being reconciled to as an act of my will and in the name of Jesus who is The Amen.  Being reconciled to who God is and how he sees me is both a gift from God and from myself to God.

Suffering and Love

Because of my love for you, Lord,
I have been mocked, cursed, and disgraced.
-Psalm 69:7 (TPT)

The suffering that we endure is sometimes because we love the Lord.  Loving God puts a target on us.

Part of the Christian life is suffering.

David suffered as he sought to do the job that God had given to him.  David had enemies everywhere who opposed what he was trying to do.  This is the way it will be for us too, and it is because we love the Lord.

Our love for the Lord makes us targets.

We have to learn how to live in Christ in the battle.

This is the answer to the question: "why is my life hard?"

The reason we suffer is because we love the Lord.

Every negative thing that happens to us is about our relationship with the Lord.

The question is, "Can I trust him with this problem?"

When I live in the reality that I will suffer because I love the Lord, I am encouraged to know that it is a privilege to have fellowship with the Lord in that suffering.

Question: "Why is this happening to me?"

Answer: "Will you trust me?"

Psalm 69:7.  Literally, he says: "I carry or bear humiliation on account of you and shame covers my face."

Different translated pieces of Psalm 69:7:

  • We feel like idiots and are ashamed to show our faces (MSG).  
  • Our faces are covered with confusion (AMP).  
  • We are insulted and blush with shame (CEV).  
  • We have borne reproach (ESV, NRSV).
  • We have endured scorn (NIV). 
  • We have received insults (HCSB). 
  • We have been mocked and dishonored (ISV).
  • For Your sake (NIV, ESV, NLT).
  • Because of my love for you, Lord, I have been mocked, cursed, and disgraced (TPT).

Do you love the Lord?  That is the question.

We ask, "Why is this happening to me?"  The answer is, "Do you love the Lord?"

Yes I do.
TPT, The Passion Translation, by Brian Simmons

Seven Thoughts From The Birth of Jesus (in Luke 2)

Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
-Luke 2:11

Seven Thoughts From The Birth of Jesus (in Luke 2)

1. Joseph: The Godly man.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

Joseph did not have to take Mary with him.  Joseph wanted to spare Mary the experience of being pregnant at home.  Joseph wanted to be by Mary's side, when the baby was born.

Joseph was all in.  We have the record of Joseph's actions.  Actions always speak louder than words.  Joseph was a man who did the right thing.  Joseph is a great example of a Godly man.

A lot has been said about Mary.  We also marvel at the man that God chose to be Mary's husband and become Jesus' parent.  This man was given the assignment to watch over and parent the most important baby ever born.

In our time today, there has been an assault on parenthood and fatherhood in particular.  It is hard to find a healthy and nurturing instructive picture of fathers in our western culture today.  Parenting is often seen as optional and fathers are jokes.

In the Bible, fathering is of utmost importance.  Fathers are highly valued, esteemed and honored.

Fathering is such a big deal, to God, that one of the three of the Trinity of God is called Father.  Father is not a man, but God The Father has the essence or the role of being the Father.

Fathers and mothers, fathering and mothering: parenthood, is very important.  Moms and dads are key roles in the world.  The absence, downplaying, negligence and opposition of parenting is part of the negative plan for the destruction of humans by the enemy of God. 

The highest calling is to be a father.  And the greatest mistake a man can make is to neglect his children.  The tragedy of our time, is the lack of fathering.  Fathers and fatherhood has been torn down and bashed so much that we have forgot, as a society, or lost the art of fatherhood.

A major plan of the enemy has been to disconnect fathers from sons and daughters.  And the last days ministry of God is to reconcile the hearts of fathers to the children.

2. The Sheph

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

God sent an angel to announce Jesus birth to people who were humble.  The meaning is that God is no respecter of persons.

There is a spiritual principal that says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Many things make us proud and end up being trappings and cause us to be resisted by God, because of our pride.

The meaning of the shepherds in Jesus birth story is that God gives grace to the humble.
3.  The message that Jesus Saves.

But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

The reason that Jesus came was to save us.  He saves us from sin and the Devil and from our selves.  Jesus did not come as a teacher, but as a savior and deliverer.  This is what Messiah does: save and deliver.

When we become Christians, that means we got saved.  We have received and are partaking of the salvation of God that has come in Jesus, who is the Christ, Messiah and Lord.  And this is what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is not just a teacher who had students who learned to live a certain way.  He did and does teach, but he teaches us to be saved by knowing with him and letting God into our lives and living now in and through him, in his salvation and deliverance.

Jesus saves through saving us personally.  His work is not a mental learning or a philosophical understanding.  His saving and delivering us is completely personal and intimate.  Jesus saves is all relational and none religious.

Christians ask each other, "have you been saved?" The answer is, "yes, Jesus is saving me".  Then we work out our salvation together and in Christ.

This is all part and parcel of the good news. 

4. Praise God!

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace on earth to people He favors!..

...The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

It is always good to praise God.  Angels are messengers and praisers.  If you or I carry the message, we ought to also be praisers.  God is glorious and God gets glorified in what God does.  And we say, "glory to God", giving God glory.

In the glimpses we get of heaven, we often see worship.  When we worship on earth, we are joining in with the worship going on in heaven.

Praise to God goes hand and hand with the announcement of Jesus birth.  It is natural to praise God after proclaiming the good news.

5.  Immediately act on what you hear.

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough.

When we get a revelation, we should immediately act on it.  If we are told to do something or told that this opportunity is happening now, we need to go now.  There is a principal in that when we put things off, they just do not happen.

Even if the thing to do is hard, we have to go in that direction, if we are ever going to get the thing we have been told about.  I have found that taking the first step or making a move in whatever direction is what must be done, if the thing will ever get done or accomplished or experienced.

When opportunity knocks, we must answer the door.  When do not, it becomes a missed opportunity.  It is always better to answer the door and have it not work out or be disappointing, than to not answer.

As momentous as the news was of Jesus birth, there is a chance that if the shepherds had not acted immediately, that they would have gotten busy and distracted and never made it to seeing Jesus.  When we do not act when there is an opportunity, we lose and the other people sometimes lose, that would have been blessed by your seizing the day.

6. Share your testimony: what God is doing and what God has done in your life.

After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

The main way that the good news gets spread and planted to and in other people, is through each one of us.  So, share the good news.  Gospel means good news.

We each share the good news of what God is doing in our lives.  We each share with others what we have seen and heard God doing.  There is a time to teach, but all the time is the time to share.

Sharing does not require of us to take the time to study up and prepare.  We just share what God is doing, what we have seen and heard.

Each one of us are living letters of God's goodness and intention.  Let me tell you what the Lord has done for me.  Let me tell you what I saw God do today, yesterday or last week.

I might even want to tell you what I saw God doing in someone else's life today, yesterday or last week.

There is a time to sit down and tell your whole story.  But often, people do not have the time or the attention span to hear the whole thing, although there are many who do have that and want to hear it all.  We have to be careful not to over share and not to over stay our welcome.

The normal conversation of believers is this topic of what God is doing, what he just did or what I found out about God.  And there is good news in the bad news.  Life means loss and disappointment, but God is in that too.  We have a God who is in our happy stuff and our sad stuff, who we celebrate with and grieve with.

Christians have the experience of Christ, who is God, in everything.  He is Emmanuel, God with us.

7. We need to learn to treasure our good experiences of God up and into our hearts.

But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.
In the ancient times, most people did not have note books.  Instead, they would have to memorize things.  Luke tells us that Mary took in all the experiences surrounding Jesus birth and preserved them in her heart.  She treasured them up.

While others were talking, being amazed and sharing; Mary was memorizing.  She was using her mind to preserve these precious memories.

Since Luke was not there, Mary may very well have been Luke's primary source, when he later wrote his gospel.  Two people can go through the same event.  Later, one remembers in vivid detail, while the other almost forgets the whole thing.

Perhaps the one who remembers, took the time and made the effort, while it was happening, to treasure up and preserve the memories. If we learn how to remember good things, by meditating on them as they unfold and preserving them; then we can be encouraged and encourage others, later, by recalling the memories.

Living Today In My Future House With God Forever

I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.  Selah
-Psalm 61:4

Living forever with God, beginning now.  Being sheltered under Gods care.  This is what I need.  And this is my ambition.

This is what I desire.  This is the one thing.  This is my request.  I want to abide in God.  

I want to dwell where God lives.  I want to go there and live there.  That is where my home is.

God's dwelling place is my refuge.  God's house is my safe-house.  His place is my bomb-shelter.

God's house is sanctuary for me.  That is where I always want to Go.  

God's house is my north-star.  His presence and place is where I am always wanting to go.

Wherever I am on earth, I point myself toward where God is.

My trust is in God.  God's care of me.  God watching over me.

I am protected from everything by God.  I trust in the secret place of God's wings.

God hides me and I am hidden in God.  I am under God's protective care.

In my misfortune, in my time of banishment, I ask God to let me live in the house of God.

People have rejected me.  People have not noticed me.  But God sees me.

I ask God to let me live in the house of God, now and forever.

In this forlorn place, this dry place, this desert place; I set my will to live with God now and forever.

I am making my loss into gain by declaring that living with God is my goal in life.

My desire is to find God's house, in my life time.  I want to go to God's living place and visit.  This is the journey that I am on.

My purpose in life is to find God and be protected by Him.  

I desire to worship God, with other people and by myself.  I desire to worship God inside a structure I can see and also in God's invisible structure.  

I desire to be a worshiper wherever I am.  

I will be restored to worship and prayer with people, in visible structures.  But today, in this distant, obscure and hidden place; I worship God.  I wholeheartedly commit my life to God, seeing my future in God's house forever.

Resting In God For Salvation and Glory

My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God.
-Psalm 62:7

Do you have high hopes for the new year ahead?  I do.  Are you worried about being disappointed, again?  I know that feeling.

I am thinking about the high hopes I have in God.   Our salvation and our glory rests on God.  God is the place where I rest.

We know that salvation is not just an event, but a process and a life in God.  A number of translations have the word 'deliverance' rather than 'salvation', because they both mean the same thing.

Jesus saves.  Jesus delivers us for eternity, in time.  Jesus is saving us through good times and in times of loss.

All of our lives, we are discovering that we depend on God.  We are working out that dependency.   Our only hope is in God.

We are utterly dependent on God, but at the same time, we are all given responsibility to do something with what God gives us.  We are all accountable to God for what we do with what we have.

The God that we relate to and serve is the plural God.  God is not a force, but persons, three persons.  God is knowable and is three persons.  And God can and does choose how God will show up and manifest to us in our lives.

Our personal glory depends on God.

Glory means fame, attractiveness, success, favor, honor or exaltation.  

Many people who have glory or have been made glorious by God are not famous.  Many people who are not considered attractive have glory that is very attractive.  

There is glory in the world, that is not from God.  I want the glory that comes from God.  As an author or an artist or a person who does anything, so that includes everything; I think we should have the view or experience of doing whatever it is that you do, for an audience of one.

Some of us have platforms, where we are seen by tens, hundreds or thousands of people.  A few get seen by millions.  But, we never get to be 'the great man' or 'the great woman'.

God is always the great God of each one of us, no matter how glorious or honored or attractive or successful we become.

My significance rests on God.  

In the midst of our lives, God's glory comes to us and upon us.  We discover or unpack the glory that is like treasure we carry within our lives.

We give the glory back to God, the King, as a gift or offering.

Whatever happens in the year ahead, our salvation and our glory depends on God.  My salvation and my glory rests on God.  How I go through the adventure and become who I am meant to be rests on God.

Forget About Yourself

Then Jesus said to all the people:

If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me.
-Luke 9:23 (Contemporary English Version)

I was in a situation where someone else made or stated that they had already made a decision for me. Then, I had a passing thought that said, "hey, wasn't that my decision to make?".  But, in that moment, I submitted myself to the other person, and the way I would describe how it felt was, 'strangely peaceful'.

I realized that Jesus had been with me, beside me, between us and in me; at that very moment.

In this state of 'strange peace', I reflected on what was going on in me, and I said, these words, in my mind: "I'm dead".

This is what it feels like to be dead to self.  I sort of captured the moment and wanted to learn from it.

And it felt good, but in an unusual way.  I was not in control and I was not getting my way, calling the shots, or dictating to others; and I felt peace.  I realized or came to believe that this is an example of denying my self and allowing Christ to live within me.

Jesus made this statement a number of times, that if you want to be his follower, that you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him.  We call it self denial.  We are supposed to truly deny our own selves to follow Jesus.  I like this translation, the CEV, that says, "you must forget yourself".  

Do you know the song, "Let's Forget About Ourselves", by Bruce Ballinger (1945-2004)?
Let’s forget about ourselves
And magnify the Lord and worship Him
Let’s forget about ourselves
And magnify the Lord and worship Him
Let’s forget about ourselves
And magnify the Lord and worship Him
Oh worship Him, Jesus Christ our Lord
I think that forgetting about ourselves is a good way to put what denial of self means.  It is the norm for some of us to be consumed with thinking about our selves.  Jesus calls each one of us to lay down our all consuming thinking of and living for our selves.

Forgetting yourself means denying yourself.  It also means disowning yourself, giving up your way, or saying "no" to yourself.  Disowning yourself is blunt, and strait up what Jesus means.

Walking with Jesus, following him and taking on a life of learning how to live his way, is not something we dabble in or take the course of or go through the program of.  But it is a life where I die and he lives.  It really is about death, my death, and life, his life.

My life or rather my self, as in selfishness or self-centeredness, has to die, for me to have him.  He may be very attractive to me and I want to follow him.  I believed that he saved me and I believe who he is, so I want to follow him.

Before I get to the next step or what happens next, I have to cover this category of people who say they believe and many of them also would say that they are Jesus' followers, but they have not heard him call them to self denial, or to forgetting about themselves.

When we read the gospels, there are crowds that followed Jesus and who received from his ministry.  I imagine that the people in the crowds ran the gamut from just curious people who did not believe, to full throttle, lock-stock-and-barrel believers.  In Jesus day and also today, people can choose to be in the 'Jesus crowd', or to be an authentic disciple.

To all who were in ear shot, Jesus said these words: "if you want to follow me, you must forget about yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me."  The people is the crowds as well as people who were close up to Jesus, had a self awareness or a self identification as followers already.  

They might say something like, "what do you think I am doing here listening to and watching you?", and, "don't you know that I am missing work or took leave from my family to be here?", and, "do you not realize the risk I am taking by being around you?", or, "excuse me, but I have actually been giving money to you to help you with what I think is a great work of God".

To these people, and to all the people around him, who at any level, deem themselves to be his followers, he says, "forget yourselves, take up your cross daily, and follow me".  Do you get it, how this could be taken as an insult to some of the people?  They might see themselves as followers, but he says that if that is what you really want, here is how you have to do it.

In other words, Jesus is saying, and he says this exact thing, later in Luke 14, that this is the only way and if you do not deny yourself and take up your cross and then follow him, you actually are not a disciple.  And a disciple simply means a learner.  Jesus says that you are not his learner, pupil or student if you refuse to deny your self and take up your cross.

And discipleship is not an event, but a life long process.  The living Christ disciples us each, but we also disciple one another.  

Another way Jesus would say this, is that there is no other way to follow him, to be a Christian.  If we do not let go of our selfishness and continue in self-absorption, but claim to follow Christ; we are what?  We are fans, we like Jesus, and we say we believe; but...

When I am driving my life, when I am doing all the talking, when I need to be in control, when I have to be in charge or when I am selfish; I am not following Jesus, because following him means to forget about me and say no to myself and give up the "my way" thing.  Where this plays out in my life and where he is taking me is that he is calling me to let go of my (selfish) need to have things my way or be bossy with people and be absorbed with him instead.

The rub is, that we control because we are afraid of not being in control.  I learned that statement from John Jolliffe.  Jesus wants to teach me that he has a life for me where I do not have to fear losing control, because he is there, in-between me and all the other people I interact with.

The fear is that if I don't take care of me, even think about getting my needs met, and look out for my self; then I will suffer.  But Jesus says, stop doing that and let that (your self) go. and follow me.  And we know that being a Christian means Christ is in me, not just in ethereal theory, but in actual practical living here on earth.

The good news is that I get to give up my life and my self for Jesus and walk with him and let him lead me into and onto his life, here and now, today.  When I let others go first, as an example, I get to see them as someone to whom Jesus comes, and I get the opportunity to serve them and let Jesus shine or be to them through me.  The great reward of that life is intimacy with God, which is beyond imagining in satisfaction and peaceful, love filled, enjoyment.

Just Do Something!

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.
-Colossians 3:23-4

I have a word that applies to many of us who want to do the right thing and want to do what is best.  I have a word for my people who are waiting on God for many things.  We are waiting for empowering, for guidance; we are waiting to be ready, to be complete, to be equipped to go.

Some of us are perfectionists, some of us are afraid, some of us believe we are not whole enough to go out and some of us are just passive.  We think of aggressive as  being the 'bad' so we go to the opposite extreme and live passively.  In truth, aggressive is good; and everything good in our lives came from people being aggressive.

God likes aggressive, ambitious and productive people.  God wants believers to be aggressive.  God wants believers to get to work and stop being passive.

There is a tension in our lives between being and doing, between waiting and actively exercising faith while we wait.  The answer is that we are people who are beings that are also doers.  James says that, "faith without works is dead", and that means we have to do something with our faith, for our faith to be alive.  The key to the being and doing, and the waiting while keeping faithful in your life, is to live in and through Christ.

The essential, center of the Christian life; and the reason we are called Christians, is that we are people who are in Christ.  We are in Christ seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.  That is what a Christian is.

From that place, of being in Christ, we live and breathe and be and do.  We consider the Christian life as we read or hear spoken, any of the New Testament scriptures.  We can open up almost any passage and find these two sides of life, being and doing, that dovetail together.

And being and doing are the essentials that we need to learn and be mindful of.

The Christian is a Christian because they are in Christ.  A question to consider, is, "when we do whatever we do, are we doing it in Christ?"  This brings up the idea that there are people who say they are Christians, but live like someone who is not on their way to heaven.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who believe that they can not do anything, and feel immobilized, and are living something that is the opposite of an abundant life.

My message is "just do something". And whatever we do, we do it in Christ.  Sometimes we don't do something, because we think we are not ready or worry we will fail.  This brings up the question we might have of, "what if I fail?"

And the answer is that you will fail, sometimes, and that is ok.  God likes aggressive people and God likes failures.  God says to us, "I wish you failed more".

God has made provision for our failures, but we can only draw on it by risking and failing.  Consider Thomas Edison, who had thousands of failures before he got the light bulb right.

There is a principle in the kingdom called "give and it shall be given".  When we invest, God matches our investment and makes it easier to invest more.  I think it works that way with risk-taking, failures and perseverance.

The more faith I exercise in perseverance, the more ability or grace I am given to exercise faith.  And as I fail, I receive comfort and encouragement that only comes after I try and fail.

Have ever heard or read these sayings: "if you knew you would not fail, what would you do?", or, "if money was available to fund it, what would you do?" The next thing that is said is, "then do it".  The under-girding principal is that God is with you and God put that idea in your heart.  What I am adding to the mix is that God not only wants believers to go for it, but God also loves us when we fail and says that He wishes we would fail more.

What this means is that something that God is not for is passivity.  Pacifism is something different.  Passivity is sin when a person refuses to do something that they ought to do.

There are a zillion things, good things, that can be done in this world, and we are not assigned to do them; but we are assigned and commissioned to do something.  The word is, "just do (that) something".

The "be-ers", and I am one of them, look at a scripture like, "be still and know that I am God", and we say that this is what we need to do, to be still.  Yes, do that, is what I would say.  We can do being still and not be passive, because being still and knowing that God is God takes effort.

One of the traps, pit-falls or detours that the passive person might fall into is waiting passively and never getting around to doing, because they are waiting for God.  That trumps every other method, so they think, and the pay off is that they don't have to take responsibility for risking and being aggressive, and they can blame God for their life and play the victim.

But faith without works is dead and what that means is that for faith to be faith, alive faith, it has to be exercised or worked.  It truly does not work if you do not work it.

Sometimes we are passive because we believe that God has a plan for our lives and we want that plan, but we don't know what that plan is or how it will come about.  Added to this, we might have a fear of failure.  We are afraid that if we try and fail that we will be a failure and it might be 'game over' and then we are a 'loser', so rather than fail, we endlessly plan, imagine, dream, talk about it, listen to others talk about it and never get around to doing something because along the way, we get weaker and our self-esteem goes down and our heart gets sickened by the solitary confinement that we have imposed on our selves all in the name of wanting God's plan.

Are you passive?  Are you waiting for someone, something, perhaps waiting for God?  If you believe in divine guidance, a great piece of wisdom is that guidance mostly comes when you are moving.

Have you ever tried to steer a car's wheels, when the motor was not running, and the car was parked?  Have you ever tried to do something or to change something or to become something or to launch something, while doing nothing?  It obviously does not work.

We are huge about being: being with God and being with others and just being with our selves.  We are human beings and not human doings.  But we get into trouble, into pain; we get angry, depressed and lonely when we don't know what to do, so we do nothing.

Doing something is better than doing nothing.  The safety net or guidelines for doing anything is the Word and the Lord of the Word.  We live and breathe and do life according to the Word.

It really is that simple.  God's plan comes alive as we move forward.  Be still and know that He is God, yes!  But also, do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Sit at Jesus feet and learn, but then go and do what he taught you.  Sit and listen, sit and read; then stand in what you heard and walk.  If you do not understand what you read or heard, ask questions.

Ask questions of God and ask questions of believers who are further on in God than you are.  God designed us to have mentors, sponsors, coaches, guides, counselors, mothers and fathers who are people with flaws who have learned some wisdom that they can impart to us.  Part of the doing that we all need to do is doing things with the support and cheering on of others.

Solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments created by mankind.  Everyone needs alone time, some needing more.  And God periodically brings his kids into a time of isolation, called the desert, to do a special work of growth that can not happen otherwise.  But doing nothing and being alone and isolating one's self from interaction with others as a way of life might not be best.

If you are designed as a hermit, then you will do something even in your hermitage.  In silence, through no work of your own, you will allow God to work in you, in your hermit lifestyle, and bear fruit, even if that fruit is completely secret to just you and God.  There, you did it.

There is a tension in "working out our own salvation, with fear and trembling", because we "work out what He works in".  That means we don't save ourselves, but we exercise faith.  We stumble and fall forward, but we get up and keep walking.

Just do something, and as you begin doing it, as you are being in Christ, let God guide you and let God love you, even when you fail and receive the compensation of being a loved son or daughter of the Most High God.

Forgive Always

“Therefore, you should pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.]

“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
-Matthew 6:9-15

For me, there is no unforgivable sin or thing that another person can do, that I can take offense over.  When I do not forgive, I am stepping out of the kingdom, where I am forgiven and God offers forgiveness to others.  When I am sinned against or get offended by another's action, the challenge for me is this: Am I going to step in or step out?

This thing that happened presents a choice, like a fork in the road.  Will I choose not to forgive, showing my lack of forgiveness by complaining and being offended and making a case against the ones who hurt me?  Or will I forgive them and step into the kingdom, into God and into Christ?

When the event happens, I can not avoid making the choice to either step in to God's kingdom or step out of it.  By not forgiving, I am making a choice to step out of the kingdom of God and live in my little kingdom, where I judge and punish and make the rules, because I am king.  The free gift of forgiveness that I have received carries with it the responsibility to give personal forgiveness to others, generously mirroring what God has done for me and reflecting God's desire to forgive.

When I do not forgive, I am acting like or making a judgement that this particular sin or offense is unforgivable. I am standing over that person and saying that their sin is not forgivable, because I am not forgiving it.  And, in so doing, I have ceased to be a forgiven one, who wants forgiveness for everyone, and instead have become a person living out a belief that some sins are not forgivable, at least not without some punishment.

When I do not forgive, I place myself outside forgiveness; because a person is either forgiven who forgives or unforgiven who is unforgiving.  There is no category available called 'forgiven but not forgiving'.  Does this mean that if I do not forgive, that I lose my salvation?  Salvation is a process and you fall out or drop out of the salvation process when you do not forgive.  Unforgiving people are out of the kingdom of God

When I forgive you, I make room for Christ between us.  When I forgive, I see those I forgive as people to whom Christ comes and is given to.  When I forgive, I am remembering who I am and what it is all about.

When we do not forgive, we may think we have good reasons not to, because what was done to us was wrong, was offensive or was unjust: "that just was not right".  So, we step into unforgiveness.  A misconception is that some things are unforgivable, so we pick and choose and evaluate and judge who we will forgive.

But Jesus is clear that we are to forgive everyone.  When I won't forgive, I have forgotten how much I have been forgiven.  And forgiving breaks me in good way, out of and from pride.

Forgiving others who hurt me or offend me or have been unjust to me, causes me to die to my self, my selfishness, and to live into Christ.  Forgiving others makes me believe in the gospel to the core of my being.  I am very simply not allowed to hold others in contempt.

When I am hurt, offended, falsely accused, misunderstood or ripped off; I want to forgive.  I want to forgive because I want to be obedient to Jesus.  I want to and I will forgive, because I want the kingdom of God in my life.  I want to see all the offenders and sinners, myself and all others, as persons to whom God comes to in Jesus Christ. 

Rooted In Love

I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.
-Ephesians 3:16-19, Colossians 2:7

There is a saying that the fruit reveals the root.  If we are rooted in Christ, we will have the fruit of Christ's life in our lives.  We want our lives to be rooted in love, rooted in Christ; so that we experience and display good fruit.

If there are other roots functioning in our lives, if we are rooted in and are functioning from rootedness into unredeemed, unhealed or unsanctified places deep in our hearts, we will unconsciously display their distasteful fruits.  Roots tapping into bitterness, shame, unprocessed or repressed anger, unforgiveness, and false ideas about one's self, others and God, bring forth diststeful fruit.

There is another saying that goes something like this:  That being saved happens in a moment, but becoming a saint takes a lifetime.  Every Christian has areas that God is working on, saving, bringing to sainthood, redeeming, sanctifying and giving deliverance to.

Being a believer has never been about you doing the right thing and then God accepts you.  Being a believer is to come to God through Christ and begin a process, where God changes you and you begin to live a more righteous life in God and through God, only by Christ and through the Spirit of God.  Jesus today, is still saying, "I have not come to call the righteous", and when he says that, it is tongue in cheek, because no one is righteous and those who think they are will not hear and see him and will actually oppose him.

Being a believer is to be in connection with God and with the love of God and then to have that connection, that plug in, or that root fill our lives and cause the metamorphosis of sinner to saint to take place in our libes, as a process, over time.  There is no life outside of connection to God, to the love of God, in Christ.  We retain our individual personalities, and person-hood, but now we have died to our selves and are living in Christ, and rooted in His life, with his fruit flowing up, through, and out of us, for our nourishment and for the blessing of others.

The reason that we want to be rooted in God is that we must be rooted in God to live in God and if we are not rooted in God, we will be rooted in something else.  The alternative is to live in our selves, whether that means self-righteousness or in vanity, which Paul calls, "walking in the futility of their thoughts" (Eph. 4:17).  Everyone lives from a place, is rooted in a place that their life draws nourishment from and then is shown to others.

If we are rooted in Christ, we will grow in Christ.  And if we are rooted in Christ, we will be thinking about Christ and He will inspire and temper our thoughts to be thoughts like His thoughts.  And we want to be thinking what He is thinking.

What thoughts do you think that Jesus is preoccupied with?  The answer is the Father, the love for and of the Father and the Father's love of people and the Father's love for the Son.  This is what everything flows from that is good and what we are thinking on and preoccupied with, that runs our lives or carries life from the inside to our whole beings and out into the fruit we display to others.

Below is a list of symptoms of bad roots.  You can have any or all of these going on in your life, and still be a believer.  You can be rooted in Christ, with an ongoing process towards sainthood, while still having every single one of these issues alive and not well in your life.

We work out our own salvation, with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:17), which means it is a process that is lived out between individuals, in community, and with and through God.  The bad roots are taken over by the good root.  We first live in the love and then we change our thoughts and then our behavior, based upon the love and the new thoughts.

We have it backwards and will quickly become disillusioned, if we think that we are supposed to do everything the right way, immediately after we become believers.  The authentic way is that we first live in love and then we learn to live the right way, which comes from being loved and changing the way we think, based on the love.

Here is a list of things you might struggle with, that come from a bad root.  Every dysfunctional way of living is shrunk by our simply endeavoring to be more rooted in the the love of God, in Christ.  There also may be a particular strategy, healing or deliverance application for each particular problem that we need to explore, along with our foundational need to be rooted in the love of God. 

  • Do you have problems with other people?  
  • Are you a co-dependent?  
  • Do you constantly critique others and engage in a prosecution of them and a defense of yourself?  
  • Do you often muse about how you wish others understood who you are and need to affirm you or give you credit?  
  • Do you often have the thought that if that other person would change, would repent, apologize or admit fault; that then things would be better?  
  • Do you feel like you are in competition with others and wish you were ahead of them?  
  • Do you compare yourself to others?  
  • Do you struggle with envy?  
  • Do you have trouble celebrating other people's good fortune?  
  • Have you noticed that you are selfish?
  • Have you noticed that you are narcissistic?
  • Have you noticed that you are jealous?
  • Have you noticed that you lie?
  • Have you noticed that you are cheat?
  • Have you noticed that you maliciously gossip?
  • Have you noticed that you are a busy body, with your nose in every one else's business, while you have troubles of your own that you ought to be tending to?  
  • Are you a person who wears a mask, and no one really knows you?  
  • Are you filled with fear?

The answer to all these issues of life and a hundred more is simple being rooted in God.  All of my problems with other people cease to be anything that bothers me, if I would just be rooted in God.

This does not mean that if I am, when I am rooted in God, that I become indifferent to other people.  Actually, if I am rooted in God, I will be heartbroken about others, compassionate about others and grieved for their troubles; all out of love, God's love in me, flowing naturally through being rooted in God.  But when I am rooted in God's love, I have no need to fix people.

Loving people and fixing people is very different, and there is a 'holy indifference' when we do not have a need to 'heal' someone or bring confrontation or five-fold ministry to someone who God is not guiding us to, just like how Jesus said that the Father is at work and he only does what he sees the Father doing (John 5:19-20).

When I am troubled by others, when I judge them, am jealous of them, in competition with them and feel like I am on a roller coaster of high and low emotions, depending on what others say and do, whether it is with my most intimate loved ones or strangers or neighbors; this is a sign that I need to be rooted in God and rooted in Christ who is God.  The believer's life is a life of living the "nothing can separate us from the life of God in Christ Jesus", life.

The fruit reveals the root.  If I am upset and vexed by people, it tells me that there is a root into something other than God.  My job is to get healed and freed from that thing that the root is feeding on and begin and often begin again letting the root, at the center of my life, feed on the love of God.

The cure or remedy for all that ails is the love of God.  Being rooted in God, in Christ, brings healing and light into a whole life, resulting in wholeness.  When I am rooted in God, I don't have a problem with others.  I don't have a need to prosecute them or defend myself.  I just love them, period.

And there is a way, in Christ, lovingly to confront and lovingly to disagree.  And it is loving also to disengage, at times, from people, even who you deem to be wrong in your eyes and to even let them be destructive, in their own lives, separate from yours, as they make their choices.

But this is all and always needs to be rooted in love.  I am not trying to be loved or upset that I am not loved, but I know I am loved, by God, and that is the controlling factor in my life that decides how I respond to everyone else.

The Christian life, the life of the believer is and must be rooted in the love of God in Christ.  That love, that life, is what will begin and continue to preoccupy the thoughts of the believer, resulting in a change of heart and a change of life style.  Thinking thoughts that are rooted in the love of God, in Christ result in my changed mind that becomes incompatible, more and more, progressively and over a life time, giving me a life that is more like Christ.