People Don’t Like Being Told They Are Going To Hell

We need to think about how we say things to others who disagree with us about God.

In speaking to those who don’t believe in Jesus, as the Savior of mankind, let me assure you they don’t take kindly to being called lost, ignorant, deceived, or hell-bound. They find it condescending, judgmental, and hateful. If I were a nonbeliever I would not like it either. As a Christian, we have to understand this. We need to “feel” what they are saying and understand that it’s a strong statement we make when we say they are lost or going to Hell. That kind of pronouncement carries with it a lot of emotion and judgment.

We can not be flippant with those words if we want to show that we care. If we are offering the grace of Jesus, we can’t do it from the approach that they are wretched in need of a massive makeover to appease God and really, to appease us. They are no less human and no more unworthy than any of us. We dehumanize people so often with our words all in the name of God. I have been guilty of this myself but I don’t want to continue to treat people as less than human.

That in no way means I don’t believe all people of every race and status are in need of the gospel. Everyone deserves to hear about Christ and needs Him for salvation. My error is insensitivity. I haven’t been as sensitive to them in the words I have used to convey what I believe to be true. We are fools if we think they are not going to struggle with our belief that they are sinners and will go to Hell for eternity in judgment. I mean who wants to hear that! Yet, if we believe that those without Christ are bound for eternity from God then it is the greatest act of love we can give to do everything we can to help them see the way of salvation. Think about it like this: if another person saw me doing something that was harmful to myself and thy intervened, I may not appreciate it in the moment but surely it is an act of mercy and care! I often try to help people who don’t want to admit or recognize their issue(s) but to do nothing feels cruel. No one, I mean no one, is going to shake your hand and thank you for telling them they are going to Hell. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes. We have to think very carefully how we speak to those who are without a relationship with Christ. I suggest the following:1) Before you engage them remind yourself that you are no better than them and the same salvation you say they need, you needed yourself. Give grace because you surely needed grace yourself.

2) This goes with the first one but be humble. This is not about your pride or ego or another notch on your belt or winning an argument. You do this because you care about them so prove it in your words.

3) You should dialogue and debate with them but don’t let emotions or anger influence your words. I have been so guilty of this in my debates. There have been times where my ego got in the way or I let anger cloud my judgment. It undermines everything I am saying when that happens.

4) Be prepared for them to attack you. They are not going to like that you lean on faith and not reason. They are going to ridicule it and disrespect you. You need to be honest that you don’t have the proof they want to see and also that you don’t know all the answers. If they don’t believe then give them that right. Respect their decision. Your job is to share and not to convert. You cannot convert people because you do not have the ability to change their heart.

Let’s think through how we engage people with the gospel. Let’s treat them respectfully and lovingly. Let’s be patient with them just as others were patient with us. Hurting people in the name of truth is wrong. We should present the truth with sensitivity and care.

Ten Things Every Church Member Likes To Hear From His or Her Pastor

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I am super blessed to serve at Heartland Worship Center. Like all churches, it is made up of infected saints, but it truly is a family. They love their pastors well and trust them to lead. Not only that, they are a joy to lead.

Most pastors feel like I do, but are they saying it? Here are ten things every church member would like to hear from his or her pastor:

  1. “I love you.” Whether the budget is in excess or deficit, attendance is high or low, or whatever good or challenging times are about, the church needs to hear their pastor say the words. It cannot be assumed. It needs to be said and said often. The people need to know pastors care for them.
  2. “I want to be here for a long time.” It is so common today for pastors to have a short tenure. The average is less than five years. With such a short stay, it is hard for churches to fully follow their pastors as they wonder when they will leave. Churches need to hear from pastors that they desire to stay long-term. If you cannot say this as a pastor, then you need to find somewhere you can for the good of the church.
  3. “I will provide a vision that is biblical and obtainable.” People without vision perish, the Scriptures tell us. The people of God need to know what they are called to do. They need a compelling vision to unite them. A pastor needs to inspire them to follow a vision that makes the name of Christ famous and glorifies the Father.
  4. “I will say the hard things even if it offends you.” Pastors should not set out to offend their people as some kind of spiritual marker, but there are things that need to be said that will not always sit well with sinners. Pastors have to stand against abortion, abuse, sexual sin, immodesty, immorality, homosexuality, and anything else that is offensive to God. It matters not if it is popular to say or not. A pastor’s standard is not the will of the people but the will of God.
  5. “I will put my heart and soul into my preaching and teaching.” The people of God are desperate to hear God’s Word. Every week, they need to be confronted by its truth in their lives. The pastor must use every opportunity to bring it with passion and clarity, depending on the Holy Spirit to take the Word and penetrate the hearts of the people.
  6. “I will not cater to a few.” Pastors cannot give preference to their buddies in church. They serve all the people, even the ones they disagree with or whom annoy them. It hinders the church if pastors cater to the powerful, wealthy, or popular of the church.
  7. “I will pray for you daily.” How can a pastor be effective for his people if he does not pray for them daily? They need to hear often that he is interceding for them. A praying pastor is an effective one.
  8. “I will share my faith with the lost.” Pastors must lead in evangelism. It is crucial we share the faith outside the walls of the church. Pastors must be on the front lines of this. This means developing relationships with lost people and not just Christians.
  9. “I fail often in my walk with Christ.” Pastors need to be vulnerable with their people about their failures. We are all infected saints. It is crucial the people don’t feel preached down to but preached in to. This will only happen when the pastor shares his own convictions brought on by the Word of God. Good shepherds are honest about their struggles with their people.
  10. “I will communicate with you what is going on in the church.” Church members desire to know what is going on in the church. This means clear and consistent communication. There is no way to get the word out on everything perfectly, but the people should feel the pastors take the time to let them know what is going on.

Pastors are called to people, and those people need to hear the above from their pastors. It is an honor to serve the Lord and our people. Let them hear it.

10 Signs You Might Be A Lukewarm Christian

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 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:15-16

Inspired by Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, I set out to write my own top 10 list of indicators you might be living a lukewarm Christianity. Be warned toes will hurt if you read. Be honest with yourself. Read above and see the Lord’s warning for living lukewarm. And remember if you are not guilty of one or two of these it doesn’t make you hot for the Lord.

  1. You think mostly about how to be comfortable and happy on this earth with little thought of Heaven and eternal life.

  2. You give God the leftovers rather than the first fruits of yourself.

  3. You seek God but usually only if you are in a bind.

  4. You don’t share you faith with the lost but you have really good excuses why this is.

  5. You say you believe in God but if we were to record your Monday-Saturday it would reveal that you live as if God doesn’t even exist.

  6. You spend more on your cell phone bill than you give to God.

  7. Someone outside of who you see on Sundays asks you what you love most and Jesus doesn’t get mentioned.

  8. You would rather your kids be happy and popular rather than holy and devoted to God.

  9. You are quick to volunteer at your kids school or sporting event but make excuses why you cannot volunteer at church.

  10. You know you practice sin but justify by saying “doesn’t everyone?”

Why So Angry? Support For Christians Struggling With Anger

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19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

Is it wrong to be this angry? That really is the question is it not? Anger is not necessarily a negative emotion. It really depends on the “why” and the “how” behind your anger. I would suggest your goal not to be to eliminate anger but to better understand the dynamics behind it so that you can better manage your anger.

So first of all, WHY do we get angry? What leads us to get so upset that our blood boils? See if one or more of these do not relate to your struggle.

  • To hurt yourself– you mess up and you cannot stand it. The perfectionist in you raves about the fact that you can’t always get it right. So you direct anger at yourself. You self loathe. You hate feeling like a failure as a spouse, parent, worker, or in general. So you have this self hatred that exists and brews in you.
  • To achieve control of the situation– quite often we get upset that a situation or relationship is not going the way we want. We feel like it is out of our control. That can cause us to feel panicky. Some, in moments of panic, run and hide. Others feel cornered and lash out. Anger is our attempt to gain control back in the situation. To manipulate the situation more to our liking. I find this to be a major cause of many people’s anger issues.
  • To feel powerful- no one likes to feel small. For some, feeling small brings the demon out in us. We lash out with sarcastic venom or passive aggressive subterfuge or barrages of curse words. We tear them down so they feel much smaller than we just felt. You may not realize in the moment this is what you are doing but if you take time to evaluate your outburst of anger honestly, then you might find that this is the culprit.
  • To fight injustice- we might call this righteous indignation. Jesus showed anger towards injustice. When the money changers were using God’s house as a way to make a fortune, Jesus got very angry. So angry he turned their tables over! (See Matthew 21:12). This anger comes from a deep conviction of what is right and wrong. It is our moral center. It is our desire to stand up for what God values. It is outrage towards injustice. This anger is a proper reaction to injustice as long as it is under control, less we act unwisely.

So there are four reasons we get angry. If you are like me you can relate to all four of them. Question now is how do we better manage our anger in a way that honors God and is healthy for us.

HOW to deal with your anger:

  • Don’t ignore it or try to suppress it– this never works! Our anger just builds up until it becomes a major explosion. Think about a tea kettle being heated on the stove.The water begins to boil and steam is produced. Steam creates pressure and pressure needs to be released. The kettle releases the pressure through a top spout. The kettle can literally whistle in relief as the pressure is released. When our anger builds, we feel the growing tension of it in our soul. It stays there growing until eventually we let it out to purge ourselves of the tension. The more we let it build the greater the impact of release. It feels good to relieve the pressure, so in our moment of anger it fees right and good to us. Afterwards we see the destruction it left behind. We have to deal with our anger. We have to get behind it to deal with its source: fear.
  • Recognize that Fear is the real issue- some of us are terrified of being hurt. We fear being devalued or taken lightly. We fear our voice not being heard. We fear losing control. Fear is the source of much of our anger. In order to properly deal with our anger, we need to tackle our fear. God’s word tells us He did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Rather we are to have self control. We are to control our fear and not wait and try and control our anger. When it gets to anger it is too late. We need to deal with the fact that our fear is us being minimized. Instead of defending our worth in hopes they buy it, we need to better understand where our true value comes from. This means dealing with our insecurity.
  • Don’t let insecurity put you on the attack- Anger is a defense mechanism. We deeply feel our own failings and insecurities and it can overwhelm us, so we lash out defensively so the feelings will stop. Insecurity is like a raw wound in us. You would react violently to anyone trying to jab their finger in your wound. Anger is our attempt to get  that person to stop exposing our insecurity. Where does our insecurity come from? There might be many reasons you experience insecurity: past rejection, demanding relationship with your parents, divorce, broken relationships,  or your personality tendencies. Regardless of where the insecurity stems from it is in understanding your value in Christ that you realize you don’t need to get so  angry in order to defend yourself and your honor.

Anger is not always the wrong response to life but often it indicates a greater issue that exists. Be honest with yourself about why you get angry. Is there one of the above reasons  that resonates with you the most? Consider how to deal with the source of that anger. Have courage to face your insecurities and fear head on. Knowledge is power and your being aware is a great step. You can do this with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit behind you.

Dax

 

How To Deal With Difficult People

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For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3



Some people are, how should I say this, well they are… difficult to be around for us. We may work with them, go to church with them, see them at the ballpark, or might even be related to them. They have a special gift of annoying us. They make our blood pressure go up. We want to run from the room to get away from them. We might even want to punch them if we are honest!

Before we talk about “those” difficult people, we need to first look in the mirror at ourselves. Is it possible we can be difficult? If so it should immediately hit us here that the same grace we want from others we should extend to those we find difficult. We want people to be gracious to us even when it’s our fault. You better believe God demands we give that same grace to others.

What defines someone as difficult? A difficult person is someone who knows how to push our buttons, whether they know they are doing it or not. Their Facebook post annoys us. Every laugh is like nails on a chalkboard. They can be condescending, selfish, argumentative, or simply rude. We try to ignore them but instead it is like they are highlighted. They always find a way to get our attention. We know we are wrong to let it get under our skin but it still happens!

Jesus dealt with quite a few difficult people! When Jesus dealt with those people who were difficult, he never reacted with a sense that he was superior to them nor did he dismiss them out of pride. Superiority and dismissal can be subtle but don’t miss the harshness of the two. Both stem from pride. Most who have this attitude fail to see the very obvious sins in their life. They are annoyed by “difficult” people but many might see them as difficult! Ironic, huh? It just points to them not being self aware. And because they can be pretty harsh to those who they see as difficult, their friends are scared to be honest with them about their own annoying quirks. They don’t stand up because they don’t want to be tagged as one of those difficult people who get belittled.

Some of us are hypersensitive. We are easily annoyed. If that is you be careful. Be careful that you don’t surround yourself with like minded people who do the same thing. Or people who are scared to stand up to you and  agree with you so you will like them. They will justify you and join in as you speak condescendingly about those “difficult” people. Also be careful that you don’t start sentences with “I know I shouldn’t say this” or “I know I am wrong in what I am about to say.” Admitting it is wrong and then doing it does not make it better somehow. If you are hypersensitive then you are letting difficult people control you. Yep, they own you. They govern where you can sit, what groups you will be in, what ministries you will serve in.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was quite specific about dealing with difficult people in love and humility: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27–31). We must never give tit for tat: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Watch out for pride. Don’t think so highly of yourself. What if instead you loved them like you loved yourself. What if you focuse din on those things that are healthy and beneficial about them? How would that change things?

This blog is most likely not a message you want to be confronted with but maybe it is exactly what Jesus wants you to hear today. Have the courage to check your spirit and repent of wrong attitude and hatefulness.

When God Seems Silent

I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.    Job 30:20
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.            Psalm 22:1–2

Often in our life we  are not sure what God is up too. Things can get hectic and we are left wondering what God wants to say to us… if anything at all.

If we are honest about it we struggle to see God’s involvement in our daily lives.  You don’t like your job but you have no idea what to do about it and you feel like God has not opened any doors. You have some major health issues and you can’t find purpose in it and God seems silent on it. People around you are dying and you are coming face to face with your own mortality and God seems distant. You are single and want God to bring the right person into your life but it seems like God has hidden all the good prospects from you. Don’t you wish He would just write it on a cloud or send you a text message?! “Hey Dax, this is your God. Here is what I am doing right now in that situation of yours…” Just doesn’t happen that way does it?

Let’s get real here. We want God to swoop in with power and win our trust by making clear the good things He is doing in our circumstances. Yet He feels more like an absentee Father more often than not.

Here is my advice to you. Are you ready for it?  It won’t make a lot of sense but it is absolutely the response you should have.

Praise God even when you don’t know what He is doing.

That’s right… worship Him even when he seems to be silent. In uncertainty be certain about your affection towards God.

Chew on this idea…Absence heightens desire.

Maybe God’s silence is too move us to hunger more for His presence, to yearn even more for Him. If He were quick to answer every time we have a need, we most likely would take Him for granted and even hold him in contempt. That God feels somewhat out of reach should make us desire Him even more. Longing makes us seek. Seeking will lead to us finding.

Don’t Give Them Leverage


Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”       1 Corinthians 15:33

Leverage is a valuable thing. If I am a wrestler and I have leverage then I am probably going to win the bout. If I am looking for a raise and I have leverage, the higher ups are going to be much more motivated to consider it. Leverage is power. When someone has leverage over you they have power in your life.

Leverage is a reality and whether you recognize it or not it exists in your relationships. You have leverage in some people’s lives and others have leverage in yours. The key is being very careful who you let have leverage in yours. If you allow negative, overly critical people to have leverage in your life they will bring you down. They will distort your view of things and it will negatively effect your attitude. You may not be able to avoid these people but you should not give them leverage (power) in your life.

I choose to allow people like this to have leverage in my life:

Giver of godly advice over lover of human wisdom

Encourager over discourager

Positive over critical

Realist over drama queen or king

Non anxious presence over spastic

Honest over flatterer

Silence over gossip

Prayer warrior over try and quickly fix it
These are just a few qualities that come to mind but I am very intentional and extremely careful on who I let have leverage in my life. I strongly encourage you to do the same.