Christian Response to Orlando Massacre


For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Infected saints, we live in a world polluted by hatred and evil. Again, we are confronted with senseless tragedy by radical individuals for no other purpose than to instill fear and reveal the depth of their hate. Many have died. Families are devastated. Orlando is in pain. All of us are affected and hurt for them. It doesn’t matter the lifestyle or beliefs of the victims here. They didn’t deserve this. No one does. We are not called to be judge nor executioner. Yet, so often, flawed individuals do heinous acts in the name of their god. Tragic…. Senseless…. A divine opportunity for the church.

I am a Christian. I hold to the morals as set out for me in God’s Word. I do not create them or have the right to pick and choose the ones I like. He sets the standard I follow. My calling, my passion, my life ― none of these are dedicated to getting others to follow those same morals. I am not dedicating my life’s work to getting people to act better. What would be the point? So they can live “cleaner” lives and still be dead on the inside? That is not my hope. That is not the goal of the church ― to reform the world to act better. We are to preach a different message than dead legalism.

I am an evangelist to both the world and the church. To the world, I preach love and grace. They need to know I care. That my agenda is pure. That I have their best intentions at heart. To the church, I preach the same message but not as ones who are to receive, but rather to give, love and grace. To the church, I say: “Quit ignoring. Quit staying in a bubble, loving those like you and not engaging the hurting all around you. It is not enough to just not hate. Not hating does not mean you care. That is not the Gospel!”

Love is active and messy. We need to reach out. We all should be looking for opportunity to show love and care to the LGBT community around us. This means engaging in dialogue and showing love by listening and praying and serving them. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with their lifestyle. It also doesn’t mean calling it out through hateful rhetoric either.

Too often, the church’s response is to retreat and not engage. Christ doesn’t want us to stand aside and watch. It is not enough to say we don’t hate. If we don’t engage, doesn’t that send the message that we don’t care? It’s tough work. It’s messy. Some will judge us for caring and call us compromisers. That’s okay. They did the same to Jesus.

This recent tragedy is horrible; yet, it is an opportunity for the church to show care. To give love. To be the Gospel lived out. It starts with words but does not end there. It’s time to step out and love, in action, those who are not like us or who do not believe like us. Jesus would be right in the middle of this, loving them and offering eternal hope. We should do the same!

Happy Funerals

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He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Being an Infected Saint means facing the reality that we are all going to die. Infected saints are positionally perfect in Christ but still battle with sin. Unless Christ returns first, death is inevitable. Rarely does anyone look forward to dying. As Christians we get much more excited about the thought of resurrecting with a perfect body. I can’t imagine me with a perfect body. That is Heaven! But seriously, you cannot know the joy of the resurrection without first knowing the pain of death.  It is only out of death that something beautiful resurrects.

I read an article in Christianity Today (March 2016) recently on Christian trend towards “happy funerals.” Christian funerals are encouraged to have a positive spin: they are in a better place;  they feel no more pain; you need to move on while cherishing the memories.  More upbeat songs are being played at funerals. There has even been a change in clothing. Dark suits have been replaced with something more upbeat and casual. The goal is more celebration, more moments of joy. I get that.  Jesus brings victory over death. Death is not the final word for a believer. That is cause for celebration. Yet, joy should not replace our grief. It is not only ok to hurt; it is necessary.

If not careful, we could be in danger of brushing over the truth about death. Death is loss. It is a time for grieving. Shortest verse of the Bible shows Jesus weeping over the loss of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). Was Jesus showing a lack of faith? Did Jesus not know death was not the final word for Lazarus? Why didn’t Jesus celebrate? Jesus knew that Lazarus would walk again in a few moments from then, yet He still wept tears of grief. Jesus felt great sorrow. His tears were not just for His friend but for the necessity of pain and death because of sin. Death is a constant reminder of the destructive nature of sin. Jesus wept for it.

Hope should be apparent in a Christian funeral. As the word says, we “grieve but not as those without hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Yet, we are no different than any lost person who loses someone they care about. In fact being Christian means we understand better how to love and so our pain might be felt even deeper than the nonbeliever. That pain should not be ignored. Not letting yourself feel or express the pain is not a mark of spiritual achievement but a denial of the reality of loss. We need to deal honestly with our pain. We hurt because we cared. We need to feel that, experience it, and let it come through in whatever way it wants. Grieving is not a sign of doubt, but serves as evidence that you loved deeply.

Death reminds us of the tension between living in this age and the age to come. Infected saints know that this world is not home. We look forward to the afterlife but face the reality that we have to pass through death to get there. Death is necessary for resurrection. Resurrection is our hope. Death might be imminent but it is not the final word!

We should celebrate our hope in Christ at a funeral but not to the dismissal of our pain. So if you lose someone you love, grieve deeply. It’s ok. Don’t lose hope while you grieve, but do not feel guilty for hurting deeply. Jesus did and so should we.

Five Must Things To Consider When You Lose Your Dad


Losing my Dad 4 months ago still bring moments of  devastating pain. Dads are special and losing the one you have changes you. Whether your dad was a positive influence on you or not, losing your dad makes the world feel like an emptier place. There is a huge hole that nothing can fill. Sadness isn’t quite the right word. It is deeper than that. A loneliness that is part of you now. And no one really understands fully unless they have lost their dad. Don’t get me wrong, people’s support is appreciated regardless but losing your dad makes you understand this loneliness in a deeper way.

And you fight… You fight to keep your memory of them sharp. But time makes you begin to forget the small details. I find myself constantly looking at pictures of my dad to remind myself of the details. I try to remember what his voice sounded like. I don’t want to forget. I need to talk about him to others even though I find myself not wanting to because of the pain. My pain is not just for my own feelings of hurt. I hurt for my mom and can’t imagine how tough some days are now that her life has so quickly changed. For my brother and sister, especially my sister, who looked at dad as her hero, I feel pain for them. For my children and my nephew who have lost their Papaw. To see my daughter tear up because she misses her papaw and my son to no longer have the “fan man” to sleep with now that he is gone. To see them hurt over the loss feels like daggers piercing my soul. I want to fix it for them but I know I can’t. I can’t even take away my own hurt. And that’s ultimately ok. Pain reminds me how much I loved and to love deeply is worth the agony of loss.

Here are a few things I would say to those who have lost their dads:

1) Death can motivate– losing my dad was crushing but there is one thing that has come crystal clear to me: my family means everything to me and every day I have with them is a precious gift from God. I don’t want to take life for granted and look back one day and regret. Please, say those words of affection that you feel for your family members but have not said in a while or maybe ever. Give an extra hug to them. Make time for another visit. Squeeze every ounce of joy in being with your family for another day.

2) Be the kind of Dad your kids will want to remember- I want to be a hero to my kids. I want to be a knight in shining armor to my daughter. I want my boys to learn how to treat a woman by how I treat their mom. I want to earn their respect everyday. I want them to be proud that I am their dad.

3) Write down memories- don’t trust your ability to remember. Write down in as much detail as you can those things you want to remember about your dad. These are not only for you but for your children and your children’s children. Keep his legacy alive.

4) You need to embrace triggers not fear them- my dad loved golf. This weekend the Masters Tournament was on television. My dad and I would have talked several times discussing the scores and the course. We would have been so happy the course was tough and the scores low. Watching it this year was very emotional for me. From the mention of certain players my dad likes to seeing the golf ball he liked to use, triggers were set off. Triggers can happen anytime from the craziest things. They serve as reminders to us of our lost loved one. Triggers can lead to pain but if you train yourself, triggers can turn into a blessing. A reminder of good memories. A reminder of time spent together.

5) People grieve differently- since my dad died I no longer just sympathize with people but now I am able to empathize with them in their pain and grief. Empathy means you have been where they are now. I have lived it and that gives me a whole new perspective to better understand their hurt and pain. What Inhave learned is people grieve differently.  My grief looked different than my sisters or my brothers. We all grieve in our own way. There are steps of grief that are common but people come to them at different times and in different ways. If you have lost your dad, take time to empathize with others who are going through the same loss. You can understand in a way some cannot and that gives you something to say. Be a support by being there for them.

For those of us who have lost our dads,  I am so thankful for every memory, even the painful ones. I am thankful for the lessons they taught us. I am even thankful for their mistakes that we strive not to repeat. We would not be who we are without our dads.

I love you and miss you Dad. I will never forget.

Dax

Divine Appointments Happen Everyday

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

When I worked at the bank, every day brought a divine appointment. What do I mean by divine appointment? Glad you asked. It is an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who has crossed your path. Might be a stranger or a coworker or a family member. Regardless, it is someone that you encounter where opportunity arises to share your faith.

For me, I helped people with their finances. That afforded me many counseling sessions as people looked to build homes or manage their money. Personal stuff always came up. Daily I was set up for a great opportunity to share Christ. Problem is… I rarely took it. I would hear people share their struggles or fears, creating a great launching pad for me to share the gospel. I would discuss with them concerns over their marriage and children. Fears about investments and retirement.  I always offered advice but never mentioned Jesus. A little bit of advice is one thing but Jesus takes it to a whole new level.

I always wanted to share Jesus. I had it in mind but I always talked myself out of it. They are not here to be preached at… this is a bank not a church… they will feel awkward… I will feel awkward! I rarely went through the  door God opened for me.

I would hint at things like church or the Bible or prayer. I saw this as seed planting but honestly it was just me being scared to speak the gospel. They were sharing with me their hurts and pains. I had the answer for that! I just needed to share it. Whether they received it or not was not my mission. I was to share Jesus with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). I was not to be ashamed of the gospel because it was the only thing that had the power to save them (Romans 1:16).  

Then I had a client die. She had bought a motorcycle and I did the financing for her. She had told me she was struggling with some things and wanted to ride to spend more time away with her husband. I listened and offered some quick wisdom but no Jesus. On her first trip on her bike she lost control and hit s guard rail. She passed on the scene. To this day it haunts me that I didn’t seize the opportunity to share Christ with her. I pray she knew Him.

The issue is getting started. Where do we begin? Here are some good conversation starters to sharing the gospel with those you encounter during the week:

  • What is your view of God and His role in your life?
  • Have you ever thought that God wants to help you deal with that issue?
  • How specifically can I pray for you?
  • May I tell you how God helps me with my issues?

Once you have started the conversation you what to share with them the gospel. Sharing the gospel means leading them to an understanding of sin, Christ’s sacrifice, and their need for Him. The Bible needs to be shared here to lead them to Christ. Here is a suggested plan:

  • Romans 3:23– all of us sin. Sin means missing the mark. We don’t meet the standard God demands for us to be acceptable. His standard is perfection. None of us are perfect.
  • Romans 6:23– Sin has a consequence. It is eternal death. Because of our sin we fail to meet God’s standard and therefore we will be found unworthy. You are not right with God on your own merit.
  • Romans 5:8– While we were unworthy, Jesus did something for us that we couldn’t do for ourself. He took on our penalty and died in our place. Because of  his sacrifice, we can have forgiveness of sins (John 3:16).
  • Romans 10:9-10,13– How do you receive the benefits of all Jesus has done and get right with God? You have to believe. You respond with faith, believing that your sins are covered by Jesus. You submit your life to Him and your sins are no longer held over you.
  • Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17– You are now a new creation. You have been transformed by the gospel. You need to now live by faith and trust in Christ.

We are given divine appointments every day to share the faith. Don’t pass on them hoping someone else will share. God wants you to share your faith with them.

Dax

 

Last week of Jesus- Resurrection


And if Christ has not had been raised from the dead, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.   1 Corinthians 15:17
To be “in Christ” is the opposite of being “in sin.” To be in something means you get the benefit of it. To be “in Christ” means you receive grace, mercy, forgiveness, adoption, unconditional love, and eternal life. To be “in sins” means you receive shame, guilt, judgment, death, and ultimate condemnation.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead then his sacrifice was deficient. It was not powerful enough to remove sins once and for all. Our hope is in vain. The gospel is not good news but a false hope. It’s like someone telling us to fly and then not giving us wings to do so.

This is why Jesus appeared first to the apostles and then to 500 more. He wanted them to know that He had conquered death by rising from the dead and thus freeing them from the bondage of sin. This appearance by Christ is why the disciples were willing to give up their lives for Christ later on. As Paul stated, “To live is Christ; to die is gain.” Once you fix your gaze on the risen Christ you will not be the same.

Here are a few truths I take from the resurrection:

  • Resurrection promises me that I will one day have a resurrected body that I will have for eternity
  • Resurrection power is not just for the life to come but at work in me now.
  • Resurrection means that Jesus was the spotless lamb whose sacrifice was sufficient to cover all my sins.

I hope as you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus today that you are reminded that hope is not found in a job, bank account, beauty, or stuff. Hope is only found in a risen Christ.

Last Week of Jesus- Friday


4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth; Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.   Isaiah 53:4-7

It’s Friday. Today we call Good Friday. We look forward to Fridays every week. The weekend is before us. Friday for Jesus would be the day he died. But it would not be a quick death; only after being mocked and ridiculed, beaten bloody to the point of being unrecognizable would He finally breathe His last. What seemed like a senseless death was anything but.

He bore a huge weight on the cross. The soldiers who put him up there couldn’t see it. The crowds who gathered around to mock Him or weep for Him were not able to see the burden either. The burden was much worse than the beatings or the spear in his side or the thorns digging into his forehead. The burden was my sin and yours. Not their sin but our sin. It was personal.

Jesus didn’t deserve to die. Should we have been on that cross? Nope. Not because we didn’t deserve it but because we couldn’t do anything significant with the burden. He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. There is no salvation without the cross and it was Jesus who had to die.

Wonder of the cross…God expresses judgment upon sin & endures judgment against sin at the same time. David Platt

The crowds saw a man hanging on the cross. God saw a sin sacrifice. A sacrifice for sins once and for all. A sacrifice that would open the way for all men and women who believe to have eternal life. What Satan meant for evil this day, God would use to redeem the world.

You ever played that game as a kid where you like someone and you took a daisy and picked the petals off saying, “she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me….” Every drop of blood that fell to the ground from the body of Jesus said “He loves me, He loves me, He loves me.” The cross put on glorious display the love God has for His people. Every scar, every mocking voice, everything that happened on this day had an eternal purpose.

Today starts the most important three days in the world’s history. What happens this day and onward will change the world. The question really is can you personally read it and not be changed? God wants you to experience the realities of the cross everyday. He wants you to remember daily the sacrifice that was made for you. He wants you to be a person who gives grace and forgiveness freely because you were given those freely. He wants this story to change your life and to keep doing so. If you are a Christian you need this story as much as the lost soul. It is your hope. You need to be reminded of it daily.

A few things I challenge you to do today:

  • As you finish this please don’t go on to something else quickly. Take a moment to pray and thank God for loving you so much. You have no hope apart from Jesus. As gruesome as it was for Him to die on a cross, you needed Him to do so.
  • Tell someone today about why this day is significant to you. Interrupt their reality with the remarkable good news of Jesus.
  • Today, I choose to so identify with Christ that I see myself being crucified with Him. My life is His.  Will you make the same declaration for your life with me?

Last Week of Jesus- Thursday

 

 

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36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.    Matthew 26:36-44

It is Thursday night. In less than 24 hours Jesus will be dead. Could you imagine the emotional turmoil of knowing tomorrow would be your last? Jesus was humans and he was struggling with knowing what was to come.  So he led his disciples to go and pray. His favorite spot was the Garden of Gethsemane. He and the disciples had just finished the Last Supper for the Passover. Jesus had watched as Judas left the table to go and betray Him. He passed the cup to Peter, knowing that Peter would deny him three times tomorrow. One last intimate meal with his twelve, knowing they would all scatter from Him in His hour of greatest suffering.  Jesus needed perspective so He went to the garden to find peace, guidance, and comfort from His Father.

How Jesus dealt with his impending suffering and death epitomizes how we should deal with our own pain and tragedy. We can learn how to deal with our own times of trials and pain from Jesus here in three specific ways.

Jesus brought Friends With Him

In His most difficult hours, anticipating His own death, Jesus drew his friends close to him. During these difficult times, we need people to walk with us. So many times we isolate form others when facing tough times. Be vulnerable with them. You are hurting. Ask them to bear it with you. People who care about you will do that. Jesus never shut them out. Even though they were often confused and probably frustrating to him, He included them until the end. He needed them.

Don’t Write Friends Off If They Fail To Meet Your Expectations and Disappoint You

Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him. It had been a rough and tiring week. They were emotionally and physically spent. While praying, the disciples fell asleep. Jesus was disappointed to say the least. Wouldn’t you be? You are going to die and your closest friends fall asleep on you when their supposed to be praying for you! But what I want you to notice is that Jesus did not write them off. He continued to let them in and share His burden even after they disappointed Him. He needed them and He did not let their mistake destroy the bond. We need friends to be with us when we are hurting but we need to remember they have their own lives to live and their own struggles to face. They may fail to meet our expectations perfectly in our time of need. Show them grace. You need them. Let them be there for you even in their imperfections and quirks.

Jesus was Persistent In Praying

Jesus found a special place to pray. He found His prayer closest. No coined prayers offered here. Jesus prayed his guts out. His intimacy with the Father was on full display. Jesus prayed all night and did not stop until he had peace and His answer. Notice Jesus didn’t get what he asked for. He wanted to be saved from the torture, the pain… He wanted to be released from impending death. Yet, His Father said no. His Father’s will was for Jesus to die for humanity. The very ones to kill Jesus was who He would be dying for.  Jesus submitted fully and came to peace with what his father desired. We give up to quickly in our prayers. We pray a quick prayer and walk away already anticipating no clear answer. Why? We need to pray with determination. We need to cry out to God and not stop until we hear from him. God will answer if we seek Him until he does. If we need to pray all night then so be it. God will answer.

What a gut wrenching night this was for Jesus and his disciples. To know that tomorrow you die. Jesus could have stopped it. He had the power to do so. Yet, he submitted to His Father and died for us. He went through all of this suffering for me and for you. When we suffer, He is with us. He understands our pain and agony. He has experienced it. We are never alone. He walks with us all the way into eternity.