Confessions of a Preacher

*preface* This may be too transparent for some of you. If you have an image of a crispy clean young man who’s “on fire” for God, read with caution if at all…

There are many times (really all the time) when I just pause at the idea of me being a Christian. I’m so much more morally bankrupt than those unsaved people around me. I stumble into pride, lust, hypocrisy, gluttony, laziness and foolishness often…there are folk who if they had my shoes would be doing much better morally, I know it. I know it because they are in situations much worse than me and are much more moral than I am. The fact that God’s mercy is new every morning is still not fully grasped in my heart, which is a lack of faith, another testament of my shortcomings and God’s grace in spite of myself.

I really don’t NEED to hang around folk. My desire and idolization of acceptance pushes me to hang around folk, but my other idol of self dependence and secrecy push me to be alone. Even when I play spades with folk, often my aim is to win and big up myself, not simply enjoy community. A thing as simple and seemingly innocent as spades becomes a prop to the idol of self preservation and improvement… I glory in being a winner, in being right, even in a stupid game of cards.

As much as I rail against the unloving self righteous pseudo Christian, I am extremely unloving to those people, or people I self-righteously judge to be so, making me just as bad as those I tweet/preach/facebook against. “Oh, I get on your nerves? Then don’t talk to me, it’s not like you’re adding anything to my growth. You don’t like how I preach? Well forget you then, if you knew the Gospel you’d like it. I don’t need your community or your love, I do well just by myself.” The same arrogant, entrepreneurial, hypocritical Christianity I preach against I myself find myself living in with sprinkles of “Gospel-centeredness” on top.

I work hard. Very hard. 3-5 jobs hard. I justify it by saying I’m giving it and saving it to plan for a family that will glorify God. I hardly give to the local church as much as I budget initially, and even when I do I battle a fierce beast of pride and self righteousness. I don’t look to the fact that Jesus has established me through His work on the Cross because I look at my own work and think I am established, or at least close. I fail to work out my salvation with fear and trembling and instead work to fill my pockets with fearless pride. I justify who and how valuable I am through the jobs and money I have saved, the things I can afford on my own, failing to realize God is the one who gave me everything to earn what I don’t even give back to Him.

….I could go on. But pause and think about this: God through Himself saved me knowing I would be where I am and loves me enough to continue to not leave me or forsake me, but in fact sanctify me. He continues to reign down on my life…mercies and grace. My life doesn’t make any sense in a karma sense. In fact, I deserve death, but God in the blood of my own menstrual rags of righteousness said live…I am so nobody. No..body. But Jesus is Somebody and was Somebody for me on the Cross dying and raising for me…freeing me from living up to the expectations presented by my parents, society, even the expectations set by myself. Those character flaws listed are not up to me to correct because they have been paid for on the Cross. Even me re-realizing my identity in Jesus and submitting to the Spirit is done through the mind of Christ given to me by Christ. Thankful.

Please pray for me. I want to love more, submit more, lead more….die more to live more.

I love you.

the gods of heaven and death part I

I asked someone, “what do you desire the most?”

They responded, “heaven”.

The remarkable thing about her answer was that she doesn’t believe in the afterlife.

I asked another person, “what do you desire most?”

They responded, “heaven”.

The unremarkable thing about his response is that he believes in the afterlife.

Upon deeper questioning these people had the same motive for wanting heaven – materialism.

Heaven is not fire insurance

Heaven is not a place for people who fear hell, but a place for people who love & are loved by God. The first woman that I asked feared hell, but at the same time did not believe that anyone could definitively prove that the afterlife even exists. Quite a contradiction.

Before I knew the gospel I would have told her, “what do you have to lose in believing in Heaven besides living a good moral life free from the repercussions of sin?” (#fail)

Now that I’m learning the gospel I told her, “Eat drink, for tomorrow we die.”

If heaven is not a reality then why care? Why sit in school learning some stuff you could care less about? Why sacrifice your goods to help feed a homeless person? Why not go out & gratify your fleshly desires?

The gospel of Christ is that you get the desires of your heart now & after you die. The tragedy of that truth is that apart from being born again you have a desire for everything that is not God. The desires of man are to fulfill this God-shaped void with everything but God. No one seeks God, no not one (Rom 3:9-18).

Christ kidnaps our hearts and transforms our affections toward him. One of the greatest blessings from God is to be allowed to worship Him. If we are not worshiping God we are worshiping something (Rom 1:25). On the cross Jesus replaced our hearts with his perfect heart.

“The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” –Genesis 6:5

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” –Jeremiah 17:9

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” –Ezekiel 11:19

So now the desire of your heart is Jesus. You will get Jesus now & after you die.

How do I know there is more to life than this earth? Because Jesus rose from the dead & told me so, &  if it were not true he would not have told me (John 14:2).

Heaven apart from Jesus is hell

The other person I spoke to wanted the pearly gates & golden roads. Heaven basically became about material & being rich. Heaven was merely fire insurance & his moral living was a response to the idea of earning heaven.

It saddened me for a moment, but because I’m learning the gospel I knew how to respond.

I told him, “Heaven without Jesus is hell“.

“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:23

Heaven without Jesus is a dark barren place with beautiful sights but no way to see them.

Desire Jesus & you will get him. Hell is simply the desire of your hearts, the unblemished wrath of God.

Jesus absorbed God’s wrath on the cross & is giving away his absolute peace with the Father as a free gift. Sadly there is no afterlife: There is only the here & now, but the here & now will last forever.

Forever apart from Christ is a long time.

If You Know Better, You’ll Do…Worse?

*please forgive me for the length in advance*


“If you know better, you’ll do better”

Now, I realize I can come across as a jerk sometimes (probably because I am a jerk and Jesus is working on me), and so I try to be careful and correct with what I say when speaking to others. With that said, I have to respectfully disagree with this statement. First, let’s peep the scripture:

Romans 7:7  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 7:8 But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires.

Okay, backing up and checking the context: Paul in this letter to the Church in Rome addresses core issues of Christianity and comes to address the issue of the Law. The Law was what God wanted us to know what to do right, however the author Paul says that with the knowledge of the Law (what to do right) came sin (doing wrong). Paul is saying when he knew better, he did worse. His (and our) own inherent sinfulness cannot do better, even when we know better. Perhaps I should say especially when we know better.

“Okay, so if when we know better,  we’ll do worse and not better, how do we do better?”

The issue is in the statement – the charge is for us to DO  something better in order to be better. But the text shows that we can’t be better…we’re evil. We’re sinners. Paul himself explains that he wouldn’t have known about doing bad until he saw what he should have been doing right. So it would seem we’re in trouble. We know plenty of good, but how good are we doing?

Wait…ah here we go.

But what about someone who was and is Good? Good as in perfect? Who lived a perfect life? Who is God in the flesh? Yeah! #Jesus! He lived the life we could never live and died the death we were supposed to die so that upon changing our minds about our sin and holding on to Him we could be saved from eternal punishment and given perpetual placement in His precious presence (whassup alliteration) by merit of Himself and everything He has done.

He (God) who knew better DID more than we could ever imagine. He died, under the wrath of Himself on a cross so that we may have His righteousness. Upon repentance and belief in this fact, He (God) dwells inside of us so that we may live a lifestyle of continually doing better not by our power, but by the power of Him who dwells within us (God).

So let me go out on a limb and say if you know better, you’ll do worse. However, God knows best. He knows you need a Savior, so He sent Himself (Jesus Christ) to save you.  You won’t do better until you know Jesus.

Do you know Him?

Why You’re Screwed (?)

“Nobody’s Perfect”

We say this…a lot. And we should, as it’s true (mostly, but we’ll get to that later). We all know that each of us fall short of a standard we know we should be reaching. We mess/goof/[insert word] up everyday. But we reconcile our shortcomings with the statement “nobody’s perfect” and we somehow work ourselves to sleep for the night and repeat this imperfect process over and over….and (you guessed it) over again. We know we aren’t perfect, and consider that if we were to die, God will accept us because, well… “nobody’s perfect” right?

This is the Problem

The problem with this is that…God is Holy. Consider a white wedding dress ladies, or for the fellas a pair of those all white air forces. Would you still wear that dress or those forces if there was a small red spot on them? I’m going to guess not. Well in God’s economy, we’re those spots, but we aren’t small, we’re huge blots on God’s all whites of righteousness , so God really wants nothing to do with us. Let me park under the Christmas tree, sit down, and “unpack” it like this:

The fact that you are not perfect does not excuse the fact that God demands perfection to be in relationship with Him.

Do you see the problem? You’re not perfect, but the One true God demands perfection to be in relationship with Him. On your best day, God considers your good (avoiding “big sins” , praying, church attendance, helping at the old folks home) to be blackened bloody maxi-pads (Isaiah 64:6). You disgust a Holy God. So, it would seem as if…well…

You’re Screwed.

What is the answer? Well…it’s almost true that nobody’s perfect. There’s an exception to that  statement though-Jesus Christ.

He literally breathed perfection, not a stain on Him…ever, anywhere. And honestly, what does that have to do with you? He lived this perfect life, not you. But wait- He lived this perfect life on Earth…. for you, then died for…well you, if you believe in Him. Upon turning away from your old life and belief in Jesus, God takes the perfect life that His Son Jesus lived and gives it to you. Jesus takes your sin, and you take His perfection [2 Corinthians 5:21] so now in the eyes of a God that demands perfection, your are perfect.

Your life is now a lifestyle of being perfected and walking in that perfection, while being positionally perfect in God’s judicial system. It’s an amazing thing. All you have to do is repent and believe in Jesus.

Will you repent and believe in Jesus?

These are My Confessions….

So, I have a story:

On my daily excursion to a University of Houston Cafeteria (go coogs), I saw a young devout man praying to….well for the intensive purposes of this blog we will say his god.” As the picture shows, he had his head down, his rug laid out, and he was talking to allah for about 5 minutes.  I stood silent in the middle of the cafeteria with my mouth slightly agape.

May I Be Honest?

I was bothered.  I mean this person one minute is eating, then his timer goes off and he pulls out a mat in order to pray on it in front of everyone.  Afterwards, he gets up and gets on his cell phone…? I mean, come on! But then I felt #convicted. This is religion and make slaves of so many, and only by God’s grace am I free.

How is religion a slave master?

Religion is about doing things for the sake of being in good with your god, be it prayer, church attendance, avoidance of “big sins”, giving your time, money, talent…it is all a desperate, devout, serious and some times painful plea so that your god can say “well done my good and faithful servant.” There is no relationship, there is no love, there are simply rules that you do your damnedest to follow, so that you will not be damned.

So yeah, even though I know all of this, I did nothing. In my passive arrogance and hate took the picture, shrugged my shoulders and sat down and ate some food, probably some pork to spite this guy indirectly- I cannot remember (but I probably did).

What I Should Have Done

I should have told him there is a God (the true God) that is amazingly powerful. So powerful that He did the unthinkable, and  that  in that unthinkable power and love,  He sent Himself in flesh to live a perfect life for us to meet the standard of perfection that He Himself set long ago, before forever ago, by the simple nature of who He is. Not only did this God (the true God) do that, but also allowed Himself to be put under His own wrath for all the wrong that we have done so that we could escape punishment.

But wait, there is more: Remember that perfect life He lived? He gave it to those who turn away from their sin and believe in Him, so there is no more performance required because not only have you been forgiven, but you have also been given the righteous righteousness of GOD. So the good things you do are not out of fear or merit and demerit, but out of the love from the relationship you are now in, through Him.

*But remember, I did not say any of that, or anything like that.

I pray that I see him again, better yet I pray someone tells him about the True God. If I do seem him again, hopefully I will have the courage and love to tell him because this is truly Good News. I pray for those of you who know this Good News to tell folks about it. Also, I pray if you are in the same boat as those under religion that you see the God (again the true God) that loves you and sent Himself in flesh (#Jesus) to die so that you may not only live, but live more abundantly.

Grace. Peace.

sinners prayer saves?; part II: a healthy love/hate of hell?

…continuation of “the sinners prayer saves(?); part I: saved by walking up, sanctified by a hug, & justified by tears(?) it possible to both love & hate hell at the same time?

Until I realized the seriousness of sin I was unable to realize why I needed to be saved. According to the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, “sin is to ground your very identity into anything outside of Christ”. I thought my good deeds, for the sake of earning God’s favor & avoiding sin, were righteous but in reality they were sin just like any other sin.

In the book of Isaiah chapter 64:6 he basically says our righteousness to God is the same as a filthy rag of menstruation (used tampon). Anything outside of doing things by the grace of God for the glory of God is finding your identity outside of Christ, damnable sin.  Hell was my driving force.

Fear of hell will never change the fundamental structures of your heart…and will never keep you out of hell. Heaven is not a place for people who fear hell but a place for people who are loved by and love God.

The only thing to counteract this fear of hell is love, because perfect love casts out fear. You do not know how much Jesus loves you until you realize how much Jesus suffered for you. Unless you believe in hell you will never know how much Jesus sacrificed for you. On the cross Jesus suffered the pain from hell more than anyone would ever experience in hell. Ignoring hell and saying God is “love” is saying that God is not love because for God to be love you would have to know what He went through to prove that love.

As Tim Keller once said, “He came not to bring judgment but to bear judgment.”  In other words Jesus did not come to send people to hell but to experience hell for people. In order for God to be love He had to prove His love by paying the price. Knowing that Jesus just rising from the dead is enough to just believe in Him but by searching the Bible you realize why Jesus had to die. Knowing why Jesus died is the key to understanding His love. Jesus talked more about hell than everyone in the bible put together…because Jesus took the full wrath of God…which is hell, on the cross. In Psalm 22 it says that Jesus’ heart melted inside His chest from the agony he felt; It pleased the Father to bruise the Son. God delighted in destroying Jesus because He knew the fruit it would bear, you being saved from hell and having eternal fellowship with Him forever. Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save the world because the world was already condemned. Our iniquities (hidden sin) like the wind take us away but Jesus is our rock and foundation planting us firmly into His will if we would only take our identity and place it into Him completely.

…are you one of the few? (#shoutout to @VesselsofMercy)

the sinners prayer saves(?); part I: saved by walking up, sanctified by a hug, & justified by tears(?)

When I was young I walked down that church aisle I don’t know how many times.
It seemed like every time somebody did an invitation to come to “God” I ashamedly went down. One time my dad even made fun of me for going down at some youth conference saying, “I thought you got saved them few times…why you still acting like you not”. He was talking about how I was still living my life as if I never went down the aisle with tears in my eyes saying “today is the day I’ll remember for the rest of my life”…and would completely forget about it next week.

It was a cycle for me…man speaks…I walk up…someone hugs me…people clap…tells me my life is going to be different forever…and rinse, lather, repeat. I laugh when I think about how Kanye said “Ive been baptized at least three or four times“, because I really have been. That one line would always get me to come back up there, “If you were to die today do you know where you will spend eternity”. I would be like dang why he had to ask that…man time to take this walk of shame because I have no idea where I would go if I died today.

I was pretty sure I was going to the Americanized unbiblical fiery pits of hell with red satan and his tail with pitch fork accessory.
Don’t worry, because the Biblical imagery of hell fire is merely metaphorical…for something infinitely unimaginably worse.
My driving force for doing good was the idea that hell was not the place I wanted to be forever, for-ever, for-ev-er… I did good deeds outside of the purpose of pleasing a Holy and Righteous God…but isn’t that the same thing pharisees said and did?

I was told of the free gift of salvation but I was never told of the free gift of sanctification. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The Apostle Paul speaks in past, present, and future tense of the work of Jesus Christ. He says a good work was started in you…that good work is the completed work on the cross. Jesus began the process of sanctification by initiating salvation by dying on the cross to sin, satan, and death. Upon salvation the Holy Spirit moves into your life renovating your mind to not gratify the desires of the flesh. You will not be perfect but you will be when Christ comes back. All Jesus asks for is a lifestyle of repentance, hating what God hates and loving what God loves. The process of sanctification is a linear journey beginning with Christ and ending with Christ; the Author and Finisher of your faith…but what do I do about my fear of hell…? (to be [or not to be?] continued)

Does "Having Faith" Matter?

“Just have faith!”  “I have faith that I could make it happen.”  “You’ve just got to believe.”  I always hear that word “faith,” but I never could understand what they were talking about.  What do you mean by “faith?”  And where do I place my “faith.”  In you?  In me?  In Wall Street?  In my appearance?  In my wealth?  In my ability to overcome?  Where?

Every human being has faith and places it somewhere.  Let’s define faith has having trust in something or someone. Everybody trusts something or someone.  In order to exist, you have to believe in something.  It is foundational to human existence.  People trust parents, people, drugs, family, sex, jobs, money, love, science, and so on.  Since everybody trusts in something, the question now changes.  Before it was “Do you have faith?”  Now it is “Where do you place your faith?”  Do you trust created things that fade away, get old, or runaway, or do you trust the One who is eternal in his power, splendor, and magnificence?

Faith cannot stand by itself.  In order for faith to matter, it must be attached to a person or a thing that can deliver!  For instance, what if the Indianapolis Colts were playing the Cleveland Browns, and you picked the Cleveland Browns to win because you had “faith.” I know that the Cleveland Browns haven’t won more than 6 games in the last two years, so I would pick Indianapolis and watch you lose the bet because the team you chose to put your trust in has no power.  Whether you win the bet depends upon the team you picked.  If you picked the losing team, I don’t care how much faith you have – you are a loser.  But if you pick the winning team, with just a little faith – you are a winner.  My salvation does not depend upon the amount of faith I have, but it depends upon the power of the one I have trusted.  If I put a little faith in a big Jesus who has shown that he can beat death, hell, and the grave…  (Matthew 17:20)

(Check for Part 2.)

Lord and God Or a Madman (of Hell)?

“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” Mark 2:5 (ESV)

“…And they led him away to their council, and they said ‘If you are the Christ, tell us.’ But he (Jesus) said to them, If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’” Luke 22:66-69

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my (Jesus’) sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39

“So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’” John 10:24-30

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be a Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Above are Jesus’ own words of Himself and the reactions that they caused in His own time. Today everyone wants to say that Jesus was just another good moral preacher/teacher. It’s so easy to deal with him as we deal with Mohammed and Buddha, Confucius and Gandhi and put him in the category of “good men” and “great religious leader and philosopher”.  But Jesus is something and someone entirely different. The more that you get to know His Word, the more that you explore His speeches and teachings, the more you’ll find he’s nothing like what he’s been painted as: “another good teacher.”