Understanding Victory

Suppose I knew ahead of time that the Giants were going to win the World Series this year. Suppose God came to me in a dream and said, “Jeremy, here’s what’s going to happen. The Giants will win the Wild Card game. You’ll go on to win the Division Series against the Nationals in four games, and then you’ll win the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals in five games. Then you’ll play the Kansas City Royals in the World Series, and it will take seven games, but the Giants will win. And Jeremy, you will be the winning pitcher in Game 7!”

I wish! If God had done that, I would have walked out on that mound without a care in the world. I wouldn’t have feared any of the teams we faced. I wouldn’t have feared any of the batters I faced. I wouldn’t have feared any situation. I wouldn’t have been nervous. I would not have doubted. I wouldn’t have felt the slightest need to take control. I would have already known the outcome! And I would have just let it happen.

Obviously, it wasn’t like that at all. But in life, it kind of is!

Think about it. Jesus died for us, and in shedding His blood for us, saved us. Then He resurrected, giving us the promise of eternal life. So Jesus says, “I’ve already won. It’s finished. You are a part of me now. You are a part of my kingdom, and a part of my family. We are nothing but love and grace. That’s who we are!”

Even with victory declared, the story still has to play out. There are people out there that don’t yet understand. As soon as they accept Jesus and become adopted into His family, they will share in the victory.

But we share in the victory now. Because Jesus has won, we have won. We can play the game of life, joyful and worry-free, knowing that we have already won.

I still get weak at times. Sometimes I get fearful, or nervous, or doubtful. I still try to control other people. I get weak sometimes because I am still a man of flesh. But the more I understand that Jesus has won, the calmer I become. I don’t have to get angry at someone if they don’t agree with me when I talk about Jesus. I don’t have to try to control people who are angry or upset. That is not my play. My play is love. A lot of people have been wounded by the church, and when they express their anger and hurt to me, my play is to love on them. I share the truth. I tell them that Jesus loves them. But I’m not worried about how they might react to that truth. They can get mad, that’s okay. I can just love. Love has already won.

Better Than a Pharisee

I posted recently about pastors and sin, because I think churches need to recognize that men are made of flesh and so they sin. It’s also true that women sin. Women are just as capable of having affairs, or getting divorced. They are made of flesh too.

People in the congregations act surprised or even scandalized when a woman cheats or gets divorced. “Oh my gosh! She got a divorce?”  Well, how is that a surprise?  53% of Christians get divorced. It happens! Women can make mistakes too. They forget to protect their marriages.

It’s not for us to judge them. It’s not our place to be shocked or to condemn them. Let’s just love on them. Why don’t we help them through it? When we do that, it’s grace, and grace is what we should be about. But people seem to think that she has to be held accountable. Held accountable for what?

When you condemn a woman who hasn’t succeeded in protecting her marriage, you’ve judged her. I’m waiting for Jesus to come and write in the sand, because you’re acting like a Pharisee.  Jesus will say, “I’m going to write in the sand. I’ll write everything that you do wrong, and then you can tell me why you think you’re better than her.” What would you do then? Don’t you think you’d just walk off?

JesusWritingInTheSand

Obviously I’m passionate about this.  It does make me angry.  But I’ve done it! I’ve sat there before, and read scripture, and then didn’t apply it. We all do it. We pick out a few verses and we live by them, discarding a lot of the rest of scripture along the way. But all that stuff about the Pharisees is in the Bible because most of us are them!  I know we don’t want to think that way. I don’t want to think that way! But we’re all vulnerable to legalistic thinking.

The answer is grace.  When we understand the identity of who Jesus is, holy and righteous, living in grace and love, we move away from pharisaical temptation. The temptation ends because grace gets us away from legalism.  Most of the Christians that are pharisaical are legalistic, law-abiding, Christian citizens.  But they are not grace-filled, free Christians. That’s why so many people don’t like them.

The free Christians, filled with grace, are the people that sinners want to be around. Sinners want to be around the Christians that share in the identity of Jesus. Think about it. Who hung around Jesus? Sinners!  Why?  Because He treated them like human beings!

Christians are popular when they are easy to be around.  People tell me, “Maybe we don’t agree.  But I don’t feel like you’re always condemning me.” When that happens, I say, “That’s Jesus.”

And then I tell them, “Hopefully, one day you’ll see that this love I have for you is the same love that Jesus has for you, and you’ll want to be a part of that. It is so liberating! You don’t have to lie in bed at night wondering who you are. You won’t be scared because you don’t know who you are, or afraid that you’re not going to add up. Instead you’ll find out how much Jesus loves you.”

He loves you so much that He’s given you freedom. In His eyes, you already add up. Your imperfections are why he died and He loves you. So you’re free to love like He does.

More on this next time. See you Thursday.

Taking the Wrong and Putting it Right

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the different ways that the hot water of the Spirit can transform our relationships. When you replace judgment with encouragement, your relationships will transform. And you will transform with them. You will learn to better reflect Christ in all that you do.

For example, I reflected last time on parenting in ways that keep your children feeling safe in their relationship with you. If you can discipline without judgment, your children will continue to come to you and talk to you. This is your opportunity to better reflect Jesus with them. Continue reading

Intimacy and Judgment with Children

Last time I wrote about how the the Spirit can transform your intimate relationships. I used the example of approaching your spouse with an attitude of encouragement instead of criticism. How much more can you accomplish if you take the same attitude with your children?

I want a safe environment for dialogue with my kids. I want my kids to be able to talk to me without fear.

“Hey dad, I messed up.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I was speeding. I got a ticket.”

“Right. So what are we going to do about that? Let’s talk about it.” Continue reading

Intimacy and Judgment

Jesus made the twelve disciples his intimates. He sat with them all the time. He would ask them questions. Once he asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples replied that people were saying Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah. Jesus said, “Okay. Who do you say I am?” And Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Then Jesus warned them to tell no one. Mark 8:27-30

You see, he built intimate relationships with the disciples. He talked to them, asked their opinions, and made them His confidants.

He went on talking to them, and the Bible tells us:

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:31-33

That’s amazing. Jesus looked at Peter, His dear friend, and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan.” Continue reading

You Can’t Change Others

I’ve been writing a lot about the lesson of the copper pipe and the way that it has liberated me from my judgments. Now I look at all the people in my life, including myself, as more or less the same. In our flesh, we’re all copper pipes. In our flesh, we all sin. We might deal with different sins, and we might deal with our sins in different ways, but we are all sinning. No one is better than another.

I’ve also written that copper pipes never change. We will never change, not on our own. But Jesus can change us. By running through us like hot water, Jesus heats us up with the wisdom of the Spirit. We can’t change ourselves, but in Him, we can be changed. Continue reading

Judgment and Blessings

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:37-38

There’s Jesus telling us not to judge, but judgment is such a basic part of being human. Baseball is full of judgments. The media illustrates that better than anything. If you’re doing well, the media tells you you’re great. And if you’re not doing well, the media tells you that too. Not only do they tell you you’re bad, they tell you why you’re bad. They tell you why you shouldn’t be there, and why you should be traded. They even question why the GM signed you!

Every baseball player is paid based on a judgment. I’m paid based on a positive judgment. And if they make a negative judgment, I don’t get re-signed. We’re full of these judgments. It’s a normal human thing. Continue reading