Life in Trust

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4

Thanks to my study time with the Truefaced ministry, I’ve learned so much about trust. Not only have I learned about the grace that comes from trusting others in who they are, I’ve learned about the grace that comes from trusting others with who I am. Not the person that I intend to be, always feeling great and never having a problem or a bad day. No, I’m talking about trusting others with the real, imperfect person that I actually am. The real me.

This has been a lesson in freedom! It’s very freeing to be able to be my true self, knowing that there is now no condemnation. Now I can mess up and not feel ashamed. Imagine: I don’t live in shame now. I live in trust. I mess up! And I live in trust.

Here’s what it’s like. In my close relationships, I say, “I’m going to trust you. I’m going to tell you right now, I am not perfect. I am a Christian man who will fail. I will mess up. I will have a bad day. Maybe I will cuss every now and then. I might snap at somebody, or show some frustration.”

Then, when that bad day comes around, or I show some frustration, my family and friends will say, “I know. I don’t think of you differently. I know you messed up. It happens. But it doesn’t change my opinion of you. I love you.”

That’s what trust brings to relationships.

Jesus is the reason that I can trust people with my true, imperfect self. Jesus says, “I died for you. I took all of that shame and I died. I did it for you. And then, I resurrected.” The Bible says that because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, we are made holy and righteous. It also says that the same Spirit that lived in Jesus now lives in us. In His Spirit, we are free!

With this understanding, my wife and I can look to each other in trust. She looks at me and I look at her, and we see each other just as God sees us: righteous and holy. It’s the same with my close friends. It’s the same with my children.

I’m imperfect. I mess up. But there is now no condemnation! In trust with God and my loved ones, I am allowed to be a saint that sins. Not a sinner that is saved, but a saint that sins. The two perspectives are completely different. When you live biblically in your identity as God’s very own creation, His very own precious child, then you understand how God sees you. He looks at you and sees you just as He made you. Righteous and holy!

See you Friday.

When the Pastor Sins

I’ve been writing lately on the identity of the Christian. In God’s eyes, you are holy and righteous. Will there be times when you are weak? Yes, of course! Your flesh is your flesh. Your flesh is on your person. You can’t get away from it.

The church needs to quit trying to tell people that they can get away from the weaknesses of the flesh. We can’t do it! You know what? Neither can the pastor. That guy up there on the podium can’t avoid the flesh. He tells his congregation to quit doing something, but he has issues too. He might even have more issues, because he’s on a stage.

Forgive each otherAnd a lot of times, he has no accountability. No one’s checking on him. He’s the pastor! So when his sin is exposed, everybody is so shocked. “Oh no! Our pastor had an affair! How could he do that to his church?”

Why is everyone so shocked when this happens? I think it’s because the pastor has spent years teaching his congregation to avoid the sins of the flesh. He has made them think that he avoids sin all the time.

But he’s a man! He is a flesh-and-blood man! He’s a man that grew attracted to someone other than his spouse. And he probably didn’t do things with accountability. He was probably meeting with women in his office for counseling, and one of them was drawn to him. Maybe he was feeling disconnected from his wife and his marriage. Everyone goes through that. Then he made the kind of decision that a man who has flesh makes.

You need to decide if you want to keep him as your pastor, but no matter what you decide, you need to love on him.

Is he going to be held to a higher standard because he’s a teacher? James says yes! But you are not going to be the one to judge him. God is the one who will say, “Dude. I put you in this pastoral role for a reason.” God gave the pastor influence, and that pastor was supposed to protect it. Instead, it has been tainted. God gives as he chooses, so He says, “I gave you that influence, and you didn’t do what you needed to do. Now you’re going to lose it.” That’s pain! That’s frustration.

Judgment belongs to God, not us. It would be better for a congregation to understand grace. They could say, “We need to slow down and look at this. We need to hear from the leadership board. What kinds of checks and balances did he have when he was meeting with people? Were there policies and guidelines in place, e.g. always meet in an open place, or make sure there’s always someone there with you? If not, then as a congregation you want to put those in place.

Don’t just sit there and be shocked. Don’t condemn the guy. I know you feel like he’s a man of the cloth and he shouldn’t do things like that. But he’s a man! That’s it.

More on this Monday.

Satan’s Cycle of Shame

A works mentality can really tie you up in knots. You start performing for God because you think a good performance can win His approval. You focus on doing good deeds in order to be saved. I think we’ve got that wrong. Salvation is not about doing good deeds. Salvation is from God, and He gives it to us for free.

Satan runs rampant over us when we get caught in a works mentality. He wants us to do good deeds. He uses that mentality to mess with us. “Go ahead, man, work to make yourself feel good.” Suppose you host a fundraising event, and you help a local charity. Or you fund one of your church’s mission projects. Then you feel so good! But then you sin. You can’t help it, because you live in your flesh. Maybe you have an envious thought, maybe you look at a woman with lust in your heart, or maybe you judge your neighbor. Satan has been waiting for this moment. “Oh man,” he says. “Oh, man! Now you’ve done it. See that? You messed up big time. Better hold another fundraiser, because you need to make up for that. Don’t you want to feel good again, like you did before?”

That is shame. Satan shames you. His goal is to get you into a cycle of shame. When you feel shame, you feel bad about yourself, and when you feel bad about yourself, you start trying to convince yourself that you’re not bad. So you do another good deed. You do it to feel better, but you also do it to prove to God that you aren’t a bad person. Now you’re in a works mentality.

sin-guilt-health-300x250

Shame: that’s where Satan gets to work. He doesn’t have to make terrible things happen. All he has to do is use what’s in your head to destroy you. And when you live in shame and guilt, you go further and further away from God, until finally, you stop trusting Him.

It’s a cycle and it kills you. You die, because you don’t trust God.

But God is right there with you, helping you and advising you. God tells you what to say. “Hey, Satan, I’m holy and righteous, so you’re not guilting me into anything. I’m going to hold a fundraiser because I love my neighbor as myself. It’s got nothing to do with how I messed up. I already know I messed up, because I’m in my flesh and my flesh is always going to mess up.”

This is the wisdom that God gives us to fight Satan. Believe and know that you are holy and righteous in God’s eyes! Tell Satan, “My flesh is the only thing you control. And you know what? My flesh sucks. So congratulations. You have control over something that sucks.”

Your flesh has nothing to do with who you are. Never forget what God sees when He sees you: His very own child, beloved by Him, a prince or princess of His kingdom. Never forget. You are holy and righteous in His eyes.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Trust Issues

When He taught, Jesus used the paradigm of the kingdom of God, because the people gathered around Him understood monarchies. We have to try a little harder to form a kingdom mentality, but we can do it because it’s in our past, and it’s in our movies. We can learn to trust that the King has made us His sons and daughters, princes and princesses of the realm. We can learn to trust that when we represent Him in the world and need help, we can send word. He will help.

Still, it seems like it can be difficult for us to trust the King. We have a lot of trust issues with our own government today. Our representatives in government are making deals without regard to morality. They’ll actually sacrifice their own morals to make sure their agenda gets done. That’s what we have in government.

No wonder we don’t understand what it means to trust. Imagine living in the 17th century and the King says to you, “Come and be my son.” What do you think someone back then would have said? “I’m in!” But now, we hesitate. Now we say, “I don’t know, I kind of like living out here, outside the gates of the kingdom.” Why? Because we see government and we don’t see trust. We don’t get trust.

So we don’t understand that we can trust God, the King.

April 3 BlogWe’ve lost so much trust that we love Jesus and thank Him for saving us, but we still struggle to trust God. We don’t trust that He accepts us as His sons and daughters. We go out into the world, but we don’t really believe that we’ll be allowed back into the Kingdom. We think God will shut the gate behind us.

We forget that we can trust the King! So we get into a works mentality. We think we have to perform for God. We’re not perfect so we sin, and then we feel like we have to cover for how we acted. “I judged somebody, so I have to read five psalms today.” Or, “I had a lustful thought, so I have to put in two extra hours at the food pantry.” Or, “I thought I was a better Christian than my neighbor, so I have to go to Nicaragua and help build a new school.”

Now fulfilling the royal law becomes work. When you start doing stuff to make yourself feel better because you sinned, then you have a works mentality. This is legalism.

If you do something in order to show people what you’ve done, you’ll be dissatisfied. You won’t feel very good when you’re done. But if you do something to help a struggling neighbor simply because you love your neighbor, you’ll feel so good and fulfilled. Your heart will be right where it needs to be.

So trust the King! And when you struggle, send word to Him. Tell Him, “I need some help here.” Trust Him. Help will come.

The Royal Law, Part 2

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well…James 2:5, 8

Love your neighbor as yourself. That is the royal law, the commandment of the Kingdom of God. The trumpets sound, and the King says, “Go and love.” That’s the warriors’ command from the King. The trumpets sound, and Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself, and then love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.”

Alright! So go love your neighbor. That’s your war cry. Go out of the Kingdom’s gates, figure out what is wrong with your neighbors, and love on them. Don’t worry about having the means to help your neighbor. Trust God for that! When you need help, send word to the King. Tell Him, “We’re filling a need here, and we need more resources.” He’ll provide what He needs to provide.

RoyalLawImagine this as if it were a movie about medieval Europe. The King’s forces have gone to war, and there’s a moment when the tide of battle seems to be turning against them. They realize, “We need more men!” What do they do? They send word to the King that they need more men. What does the King do? He provides more men!

We can use the same mentality, and show the same trust for our King. We are His children! And as members of His family, we say, “I am a part of God’s Kingdom. I am going to go forth to fulfill the royal law. I’m going to get on my horse and go out of that gate and into the world. I’m going to love my neighbor, and when I do that, I’m going to represent the Kingdom of God.”

You do this whether you already have the resources lined up or not. You begin even if you don’t have any money. Just send word to God. Pray. Tell Him, “I need a way to get more money.” He will give it to you. Jobs will open up. Maybe a donor will come along and offer to help you. Trust God in this. He will provide what He needs to provide.

The Bible says we’re all royalty now. This is what it means to be holy and righteous. This is what God means when He says, “You are mine now.” You are His child. And as a child of the King, you are a prince or princess of the Kingdom.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

The Royal Law, Part 1

Whitworth University came to Generation Alive and said, “We want to package a ton of meals. We want to make a million meals for Spokane!” And I said, “Alright! Tell them to work on raising the funds.” And those students did something incredible. On May 3, they packaged over 600,000 meals for hungry people in Spokane!

I trust God. I live in a mentality of trust. When we show our love for our neighbor, we’re trying to meet a need. And we’re reflecting God’s Kingdom while we do it, because our motives are pure: we simply trust God. We’re not going to do something like this because we want to say, “Oh, I feel like a better Christian for doing this.” If you think about it, that doesn’t even make sense. I already am a Christian. I am a holy and blameless, righteous person. I’m just living in that identity.

Whitworth students didn’t take on this challenge because they wanted to make God look on them with favor. They were just trying to feed somebody! In fact, I think that for a lot of the young people who got involved, that was all they wanted. They might not even know who God is. Their mission was simply to get food, up to a million meals, into an area that really needs food. One in six people in Spokane are hungry! So they said, “We need to figure out a way to give our hungry neighbors something to eat.”

photo credit: KREM Spokane http://www.krem.com/news/local

photo credit: KREM Spokane http://www.krem.com/news/local

When you tackle the job of loving your neighbor as yourself, trust God. Trust Him to provide you with what you need. If you’re coming up short on donations, just say, “Hey God, we need more money.” Send word to the King. “We need more of something.” Then trust Him to provide it. If He says, “No, my provision is sufficient for you,” then use whatever you have. The Whitworth students made as many meals as they could. Use what you have, even if it’s a couple of loaves and a few fish, and get started. You might get to watch Him do a miracle.

Jesus said, “You need to help those who are hurting.” Well, everybody’s hurting. Your ability to meet a need doesn’t necessarily mean an actual physical need. It could be a mental need. It could be an emotional need. Figure out what is wrong with your neighbors, and love on them. Whether they need food, water, or clothing, emotional support, a friend, or someone who can love without judging, trust God and get started! That’s all you have to do. And if you need help, send word to the King. Let Him know, and He’ll provide what He needs to provide.

More on this next time. See you Thursday.

Friends We Can Trust

I’ve been blogging a lot lately about how good it feels to relate to people in trust. Trust allows you to freely accept and love others. When you trust people, you don’t judge or condemn them. You don’t react negatively to the way they act. You’ll see them do things that you don’t necessarily admire, sure, but they’re only human, just like you. So you love them with the same trust and mercy that God gives you.

tworoadstworoomsI have to tell you, I did not live this way for a long time. I wanted to! And I had the knowledge to do it. But I just didn’t put it all together. Now, after sitting with the TrueFaced guys and taking their courses, it’s all come together for me. In my relationships, I feel so free, and people feel free around me. This is true in my family and in my friendships. My wife and I have Christian friends that live with this trust mentality, and we have a great time together.

Do you have Christian friends who are always correcting you or judging you? Do they disapprove of what you say or do? I’ve been around people like that before. They keep me from being fully honest when I’m with them, because I don’t want to expose myself. I see how judgmental they are, so I don’t trust them with my whole self. I think we’ve all met someone like that. It’s exhausting, right?

But my wife and I have friends who live in trust, and they can come over to our house every day if they want to. We’re never exhausted. I think people who live in trust also live in freedom, and so it’s relaxing and energizing to be around them. We talk and we share our frustrations. We help each other. We say things like, “Yeah, I’ve been through that.” Or, “Here’s an idea. How about approaching it this way?” We never chide or chastise each other. We don’t say, “You need to do this better.” We say, “Let’s help each other. Let’s get a game plan together.”

That’s what friendship is all about. That’s what relationship is all about. And I think that’s what God is all about. God says, “Look, I know you’re going to mess up. I’m here to walk through it with you. When you mess up, I’ll say, ‘Jeremy. Okay. Let’s strategize. You know you have my Spirit in you, so you have the ability to not sin. You have the ability to live in righteousness and holiness. So all we have to do is figure this out together. How can we do this? How can I walk with you through this? And how can I encourage you through this?’”

That’s the God that I feel close to! I’m so happy! I get to say that He is my Savior and my Lord and my God and my King. I’m not talking about a God who is a dictator. My Savior does not put me to shame. My Lord and King loves me and encourages me and helps me! And so that’s what I’m going to do for my friends.

See you Thursday.