Last night I got a text from a good friend of mine asking me what people mean when they say that we are living in a “fallen world?” My response was this … “A fallen world is a world that has turned from God and started following their own sinful nature in order to fulfill their own sinful desires.”

It was a simple question with a simple answer. However, for some reason I could not get the thought of a fallen world off my mind afterwards. I was up late and my main thought was the fact that we definitely live in a fallen world. Just look around you the evidence is everywhere. The riots that have happened in Ferguson and Baltimore. The shootings of all these cops along with the shootings at churches, cinemas, and various other places. The Ashley Madison hack and finding out that so many of the ones on the site were pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers, and church leaders.

Then once I finally did go to bed I couldn’t go to sleep, and even after getting to sleep I continually was waking up with this thought on my mind. Then I started to ask myself a couple of questions. When did the world around us start getting so bad? When did the fallen world we are a part of start to take place?

Then I woke up this morning still thinking about the “fallen world” that we live in and found myself asking the question, what would God wants us to do in order to help make this “fallen world”  a better place? What would he ask his children, the people of God, to do?

The answers are simple when you think about it. Yet just like so many other things in the world, simple answers don’t always equal simple results.

So what are the answers to the three questions that I kept asking myself?

1. What evidence do we have that we live in a fallen world?

In order to answer that question, you don’t have to look very long or very hard. Earlier I mentioned all of the things that are going on in the world that show us what a fallen world we live in. There is hardly a day that goes by in which you don’t read or hear about some innocent person having their life taken at the hands of another person. In addition to that, how many people do you know who have had their lives ruined by addictions? Addictions to drugs, addictions to alcohol, addictions to gambling, addictions to pornography, and the list of addictions could go on and on. And how many people, even Christian people,  do you know who have been unfaithful to their spouse? The person they are supposed to love the same way that Jesus loved each of us. In fact, how many people do you know who are one of the 39 million members of the website Which, in case you somehow missed it, is the find an affair website which was hacked a few weeks back. A hack that released names of people from all walks of life, including some 400 plus pastors who resigned this past Sunday because of their accounts on the site.

Do you need more evidence? Suicide rate is at an all time high. Fewer people are getting married, and more and more people, including those who say they are Christians, simply make the decision to live together. Millions upon millions of innocent children have lost their life at the hands of abortion. Scandals happen more often than at any time ever. The norm of our society has become to be untruthful, or at least stretch the truth as far as you can. We as a people, including us that say we follow Jesus, continue to become more about what’s best for us instead of what’s best for everyone else. We are part of a world that is full of greed, deception, and pride.

We definitely live in a fallen world. A world that has turned it’s back on God, yet still wants His blessings. A world that is all about me. A world in which most people do what seems like the best choice for them, with no care about anyone else, and think that as long as it is good with them then it is okay. Or as I said to my friend last night, a fallen world is when people start following their own sinful nature in order to fulfill their own sinful desires.

When you look around, you will see that is exactly what the world we live in has become.

2. When did the world around us start getting so bad? When did the fallen world we are a part of start to take place?

So when did the world around us start getting so bad? Has it happened in the last few years? Did the introduction of the world-wide web something that made it become a worse place? Was it caused by the rap music of the 90’s? The rock n’ roll of the 70’s and 80’s? Was it started at Woodstock with the hippie movement and the sexual revolution? Did it happen when Marilyn Monroe defined sexy with her look and movies? Was it farther back than that? Did it start somewhere else?

For the answer we simply have to turn to the word of God. Back at the start of the word of God in the book of Genesis. In fact we have to look very early in that book. Back to something that happened with Adam and Eve.

Think about what Adam and Eve had. The had everything in its perfect state. They had perfect union with God. Have you ever noticed that it says that daily God came to meet with them. How great would that be? However, having perfection wasn’t enough for Adam and Eve was it? It never is. You know what they say? The grass is always looks greener on the other side, that is until you get to the other side. Which is exactly what happened with Adam and Eve.

They had it all but they still weren’t satisfied. They had something that overtook them and caused the to make a mistake. A mistake that would change the world as they knew it. A mistake that would be the cause of a fallen world. A mistake that can be looked at as the cause for the condition of the world that we live in.

So what was it they had which caused them to make this mistake? It was their pride. They had it all and everything they had was perfect, but they were not on the same level with God. That was a problem, because their pride lead them to believe that they should be. Any of you ever thought that you wanted to be the head man? That you wanted to be in charge? That is until it happened and then you realized it wasn’t all that grand after all? It happens.

Yet because of this pride and the tempting of God’s greatest enemy, Adam and Eve did the only thing that God had told them they could not do. I know you all understand that, it’s kind of like telling a child they can’t touch something because it’s hot. So what do they do? Exactly, they touch it. And God had told Adam and Eve they could not eat of the tree in the center of the Garden, that they could eat from any other tree, but not that one. Why? Because eating from that tree would lead to death.

You probably all know what happened next. You’ve probably all read and heard the story 1,000 times.

The devil used Eve’s pride, the fact that not being on the same level of God was something she desired, to convince her that she would not die. That in fact, if she would only do what God told her not too then she would have the wisdom of God, and God didn’t want that, which is why he forbid them to eat of that tree.

Then it happened. The fruit was picked. That first bite was taken. The rest of it is history.

Because with that first bite of the forbidden fruit, sin entered the world. Once sin entered the world, Adam, Eve, and everyone to follow were separated from God because of their sin. Once sin entered the world we were officially living in a fallen world.

And what caused Adam and Eve to make the choice they made? It’s pretty simple. It was pride.

Now think about the world that we live in today. What causes people to make the choices which they make? Again it’s pretty simple to figure out. Pride is at the root of all the decisions we make. Everything that happens in this world, especially those that go against the word of God, are decisions based on pride for self, and not pride in the God who created them and sent His one and only Son to die for them.

So, when did the world become a fallen world? When did the fallen world we are a part of start to take place?

The answer: When Adam and Eve took that first bite of the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world.

3. What does God want us, his children, to do in order to make the fallen world we are a part of a better place?

Again, the answer is very simple isn’t it. It comes directly from the word of God. All we have to do is read the 4 Gospels. The way that we are to change the fallen world we are a part of is prescribed in those 4 books.

Also remember what I stated earlier. The answer may be a simple answer, but that doesn’t mean doing it is as simple as it seems. Following Jesus has never been easy, and God never promises His children that they will have an easy path.

So what is the answers?

We should all know that Jesus came to be our example. He came to show us exactly how we are to live.

He set an example for us in how to live sacrificial. He set an example for us in how we are to love God. He set an example for us in how we are to treat others, and how we are to love everyone as much as we love ourselves. He set an example about how we are to follow the commandments of God. He set an example for us in how we are to evangelize to others. He set an example for us on how we are to follow him in order to become a disciple, then as a disciple we are to go and make other disciples.

He showed us exactly what we are to do in order to make this fallen world we are a part of a better place.

So then, with so many people claiming to be followers of Jesus, why is the world we live in continually getting worse? Why do we continue to fall farther and farther from God?

Can I tell you why? It’s simple. It really is.

It’s because those of us who call ourselves Christians simply aren’t following the example that Jesus set for us.

The example he gave us to live sacrificial, and remember how much of a sacrifice He made, we simply don’t follow. As stated earlier, we have a sinful nature which is full of pride which makes us want to live for ourselves. Most people don’t even care about the people around them.

The example he set for us on how we are to love God. A love which His word has defined as loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. A love that is supposed to be so great, that as we discussed in our discipleship class at my church this past Sunday, that the love we have for him makes our love for others seem like hatred. Remember his words, not mine, “if anyone come and follow me and doesn’t hate his brother, sister, even his mother and father, then he can not be a disciple of mine.” He isn’t saying we hate others, just that compared to the way we love him it appears that way. Yet how many of us truly love God in that way. In fact, how many of us truly love him more than anything else.

His example on how to treat others. Not sure I need to say anymore about this one. Just think about how we treat others when we don’t live sacrificially and don’t really care about their needs. Is that the example Jesus set for us?

His example on how we are to follow the commandments of God. Remember that he followed them all, at least the ones that God had given to follow. He also said that the greatest commandment was to follow all 10 of the 10 commandments. The first 4 are all about God, so when He said to love the Lord with all that you are, he was talking about following those first 4 commandments. The last 6 are about our relationships with others, so when he said and the second was just as important and that was to love your neighbor as yourself, he was talking about the last 6 commandments. All of which he followed.

In fact, he didn’t just set an example for us to follow the commandments, he made them tougher. Remember he said the commandments say to not murder, but I say if you have hatred in your heart toward someone then you have already committed murder. And the commandments say do not commit adultery but I say if you have ever looked at anyone other than your spouse with lust, then you have already committed adultery in your heart.

His example was to go above and beyond what was asked of you in order to truly show how much you loved God and other people. Yet we live in a world that wants to do away with those commandments. They say Jesus fulfilled them and therefore they don’t have to be followed anymore. We live in a world where people want you to believe that they don’t apply to us today or that God has changed his mind when it comes to certain behaviors. However, Jesus numerous times that if you love God then you will obey his commands.

We don’t do a very good job of following that command do we?

The example he set of going out to people and inviting them to come and be a part of what he had to offer. The come and follow me people. That was his evangelism. He offered to share life with them. He invited them to learn about God. He invited them to be a part of something that would change their life. Yet today, we live in a world where most people who attend church and say they love God and know he is the only way to eternal life, never invite anyone to be a part of what he has to offer. We are not very good at following the example he set.

And last, the example he set to devote his time to making disciples is something that was meant to be his way of continuing his legacy. It was how the church was supposed to grow. It was how the church was supposed to continue.

How did he say we were to make disciples. By going into all the world. By baptizing them (leading them into a relationship with Christ and helping them to find salvation). And by teaching them everything he had taught them, which was the true meaning of old testament scripture, and how to live life the way in which he lived life.

Yet, how many churches today have a discipleship plan? Most are worried about numbers. Most are worried about getting people saved. Most are worried about their offerings. Yet very few are worried about who the people under their care are becoming, and if they are on the path of discipleship.

God sent me a clear message a few weeks back. Quit worrying about the numbers, let me worry about that. You simply worry about the people in the pews and if they are doing my will and becoming disciples of mine. If you focus on that the rest will take care of itself.

I believe that is so true. What would Jesus want us to do in order to change the condition of the fallen world that we live in?

He would simply wants us to love him enough to come and follow Him. To learn his ways. To learn to live like His Son Jesus lived. To become a disciple. Then to go out and find others and start them on the path that you are on.

Creating disciples of Jesus. It was God’s plan for changing this earthly world. It was Jesus’ example. It is the way that you and I can make a difference in the fallen world which we are a part of.

Will you join me on the mission to change the world for the mission of God?

I hope that you are willing.

My thoughts …

Posted: 07/21/2015 in Uncategorized

If you follow my blog then you probably know that it has been a while since I have written anything. I really don’t know why … I love to write. I may not be very good at it, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying it. So I thought that I would share some thoughts with you today. Random thoughts … but my thoughts none the less.

First of all … I am saddened by the state of the world that we are living in.

Why is it that this world is becoming so full of hate? I mean just think about the happenings of this year. The riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. The shooting of 8 church goers during a Bible study in South Carolina. The killing of 4 marines at a recruitment center in Tennessee. The tactics that those running for president are using to try to win favor with the American people.

Can’t we just all get along? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we did?

When I think about God’s word … One of the first things that always comes to mind is what Jesus said when he was asked what the greatest commandment was. He said the first thing we are to do is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and secondly we are to love our neighbor as ourselves … with our neighbor being anyone we come in contact with.

Wow … If we could only learn to live that way. What a better world we would live in.

We wouldn’t be near as worried about our future … or our children’s future … would we?

So why don’t we do exactly that? Especially those of us who call ourselves Christians … followers of Jesus. Why can’t we start loving others the way we would want to be loved in order to see how it might change the world around us?

I think it’s worth a shot … what about you?

Second … I was just home to visit my family on vacation. It was a great week … getting to hang out with family … eating at some of our favorite places to eat … drinking some Ski … and playing lots of golf. However … What I realized while I was home with my family is that everyone needs a place where they can be themselves and be accepted. Yet not everyone has that place do they?

You know when I was growing up … I had the opportunity to grow up in a wonderful Christian family. A family that loved God … that loved each other … and loved those around them. It was a great family to be a part of.

So why was it so great? Well … For one I knew that my parents loved me … and they made sure I knew it. I also knew my family had a love for God … the church … and the truth found in his word … and they made sure I knew that as well. But in addition to those two things … there are a few other things that made my family special.

  • My family accepted me when I messed up without accepting my mistake.
    • God does the same for us. Jesus always showed his love for the sinner without loving the sin … and he did it in a way that showed he cared for the person who was living in sin. The sad thing about the world we live in today is that we as Christians often don’t love the sinner without approving of their sin … Far too often the church despises the sinner and hates the sin. Tell me … Would that be a family you would want to be a part of. Well … Neither does most of the world who don’t know Jesus, which is why we have to start being more like Jesus and the example he set for us.
  • My family had certain things they expected of you and when you didn’t meet those expectations you knew it.
    • The family of God should be the same way. God has certain standards he wants us to live up to and he wants us to know when we are falling short. In fact, his word says that we are to hold each other accountable for our actions. When was the last time you showed someone you cared enough to hold them accountable? It’s what God expects of us … But remember … You have to do it in love and with the proper attitude.
  • My family allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them.
    • God will gladly do the same for us when we are a part of his family. Simply think about the story of the prodigal son. He made lots of mistakes and blew a lot of money, but when he learned from his mistakes and returned home … where was the father? There to welcome him back with open arms. That’s how a family should be. However … the key is that we learn from our mistakes … and many times we as Christians continue in a sinful behavior rather than learn from it and change who we are. That is not what God wants from us. He wants us to be changed into the image of Christ … not our image of what we think we should be.

What’s the point of my random thoughts you might ask?

Simply this …

We all long to be loved … and we all long to be a part of a loving family. The sad thing is … not everyone gets the opportunity to experience those two things within their earthly family. However … There should be a place they can find love and a loving family … and that is within the family of God.

Christians … Followers of Jesus … We are called to love everyone the way we would want to be loved. We are called to love others the way that Jesus loved them. We are called … as part of the family of God … to show his love to all of those whom he created. The question is … are you up for the task? Are you willing to do what God has called you to do?

The truth … the world we live in is crumbling all around us and there is only one way to change it … and that’s by loving others the way that God loves them and allowing his love to change them.

It may not change the world overnight … but it will change the world … your world … one person at a time.

Are you ready to make a difference? Because it’s time that we as Christians make a difference in the world in the same way that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did.

So let’s get started!

I just saw a quote that really got me to thinking. The quote simply said, “No one rises to meet low expectations.”

That statement is so true isn’t it. No one has to better themselves, or at least not much, in order to meet low expectations do they? If what you expect of someone is below average, or even average, then a person doesn’t really have to do much in order to meet those expectations.

Which gets me to wondering … Is that is what is wrong with the majority of churches today? Are churches failing because we have low expectations for church members? Are they dropping in attendance because we don’t hold them to a higher expectation?

I definitely believe that could be the case. Because I truly believe that in order to be the “church” that God wants us to be, then we must be held to a higher standard. If you want excellence, in the way that God is excellent, then you have expect excellence.

Now don’t misunderstand the point I am trying to make. I am not saying that we should expect everyone in the church to be perfect. We all know that is not possible. However, we should expect more than just random attendance and the warming of a pew out of those who are part of our church.

Think for just a moment about successful businesses and sports teams. Do you know why they are successful at what they do? It’s simple really. They are successful because they have high expectations and they have employees or players who strive to meet those expectations.

Take the University of Kentucky’s basketball team for instance. I know that most of America does not like there basketball coach, but no one can argue with the fact that he recruits kids who fit in with what Kentucky expects out of one of their basketball players. Sure he recruits kids who are star players, but he also recruits kids who are great young men. Young men who would make good role models. Young men who expect to sacrifice for the team. Young men who are willing to give back to the community they are a part of. That is what he expects out of a player and that is what he gets.

The same can be said for Duke. In as much as I dislike Coach K, I respect him for his coaching ability, but more than that I respect him for his level of expectations. Take this past season for instance. Duke had a former McDonald’s All-American who wasn’t living up to his expectations. A player who was getting a lot of playing time and was an upper class-men with experience. He was a player who could help them win a National Championship. However, Coach K couldn’t allow him to be part of the team and not live up to expectations, so he dismissed him, knowing it may hurt the team down the line. Yet it didn’t … did it? Because a week ago today they were crowned National Champs.

Having high expectations is a good thing.

In fact, if you read and study God’s word, you will see that God has high expectations for those of us who call ourselves his followers.

Church isn’t about how many people we can get in the pews on Sunday morning. Church isn’t about keeping people happy so they don’t leave. Church isn’t about doing what some people want in order to get their financial blessings. Church is about leading people who don’t know Christ into a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Church is about taking those who have a relationship with Christ and leading them to become true disciples. Church is about setting high expectations for those who call themselves followers of Christ to live by.

Think about what I am saying, then think about what Jesus said, and ask yourself … Are those low expectations that Jesus has set for us?

After all, he did say things like …

If anyone wants to come after me, then he must take up his cross and follow me daily

To the rich young ruler … Go and sale all that you have and give to the poor and then come and follow me …

In the Sermon on the Mount … You have heard it said, do not commit murder, but I tell you, if you have anger in your heart toward another, then you have already committed murder … You have heard it said, do not commit adultery, but I tell you, if you have looked at another woman with lust, then you have already committed adultery …

 To us all … Do not judge, for the way in which you judge, is the way in which you will be judged … Do not gossip … Do not bear false witness … Do not covet … 

The list could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

God has high expectations for each and every one of us who call ourselves followers of His son, Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time that we start living up to those expectations.

Do you ever get excited about an upcoming weekend?

I know I do … and this weekend is one that I am really excited about. In fact, it may be the best weekend ever  … or at least in my lifetime.

So why am I so excited about this upcoming weekend? Is it because my beloved Kentucky Wildcats are 38-0, in the Final Four, and the favorite to cut down the nets when it is all said and done?

Well of course that makes for a great weekend. I would like nothing more than to see my Cats win number 9 by taking care of business against Wisconsin on Saturday and then hopefully finishing off a perfect season by beating the team that I like the least of all teams … The Duke Blue Devils … on Monday night.

However, that is not the real reason this is going to be the best weekend ever. Just in case you don’t know why it is the best weekend ever, let me fill you in.

This weekend is the best weekend ever because Friday is Good Friday. Friday is the day we celebrate Jesus being sentenced to death for crimes he did not commit. Friday is the day that we celebrate Jesus going to the cross as an innocent man in order to pay a debt we could not pay. Friday is the day that we celebrate the sacrificial death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Now tell me, what is more important for us as Christians to celebrate than the death of Jesus? I mean it’s not called Good Friday because it was good for Jesus, it’s called Good Friday because it was good for those of us who believe in Him as our Lord and Savior.

So let me tell you what’s more important? Let me tell you what makes the weekend even greater.

It’s the Sunday that follows Good Friday. It’s Easter Sunday. It’s the day that we celebrate … not the death of Jesus … but the resurrection of our Lord and Savior which makes this weekend so great. Because without the resurrection, the death he died on Friday would just be an ordinary death. But it’s not. The resurrection changed it from an ordinary death to an extraordinary death. In fact the resurrection of Jesus changed everything.

The resurrection is why this is going to be the greatest weekend ever.

The question I want you to ponder today is this? Has the resurrection of Jesus made the difference in my life that it should? Or is there more that you should be doing because of it. Because you see, people want to hear the good news of the resurrection. They want the salvation that it provides. Yet if that is all they seek from Christ death and resurrection, then they miss out on so much more.

Can I let you in on a little secret today? Jesus didn’t die on Friday, lay in the grave on Saturday, and experience the resurrection on Sunday morning just to keep you and I out of hell. Sure that is one of the benefits of a relationship with Christ, but it goes much deeper than that. Jesus gave his life in order to make a much bigger impact on us who call themselves Followers of Jesus.

He didn’t simply die to give us eternal life. He died to give us abundant life as well.

That means that he died to set us free. Free from the grips of death. Free from our sins. Free from our past mistakes and regrets. Free from the things of the world. However he died for more than that as well. He also gave his life in order for us to be changed from the person we are into the person God created us to be.

So this weekend as we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Will you take some time and think about what Jesus has really done for you? And while you’re at it, will you also make a commitment to God? Will you say to him, God because of what you have done for me by giving me life and life eternally through your Son, Jesus Christ, the least I can do is to give my life to you as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you.

Because if you are truly appreciative of what God has done for you, then the least you can do is give him back what he deserves and that is your life.

Plus, if you do, not only will this weekend be a great weekend for you … It will perhaps be the greatest weekend of your life!

Everyone has heard the saying, Life is Short, most of us simply take it for granted. However, maybe we shouldn’t, because life truly is short. Even if you live longer than the average person, even if you’re lucky enough to reach 100 years of age, life is still short.

I’ve really come to realize that fact over the last couple months as I’ve spent lots of time thinking about life and what is really important. It’s just something you do when you are a former youth pastor, in your early 40’s, who has already seen two young men who were former youth group kids be laid to rest this year. One of the young men was 24 and it seems as though he had simply given up on life. The other young man was 26, he wasn’t one to give up on anything, yet he too has gone on from this world. Their lives were short, but even if they had lived to the normal life expectancy age of 78, then their lives would have still been short when compared to eternity.

Which brings me to the question I want you to think about. Which matters more: The length of your life or what you have accomplished with the time you’ve had?

I honestly believe that what we accomplish with the life we have, no matter how short or long it may be, is far more important than how long our life is. However, most people don’t live their lives like they believe that how they live their life is more important than how long they live.

Most people live their life in much the same way. They can’t wait to grow up, find the job which will provide them with the money they need to buy the things they want, never planning for retirement, simply thinking they will live or enjoy life at some later point. The problem with that is that many people never get the opportunity to truly live life, they simply exist.

Simply existing is not something that God intends for us. God wants us to thrive in life. God wants our lives to count. God wants us to make an impact in this world. For those who understand that we are to live in such a way that we will make an impact on the world in which we live, it doesn’t matter if they live to be 20, 40, 60, or even 100. They will leave an impact simply because of the way they live their life.

Think about the one person who made the biggest impact on the world in which we live. He only lived 33 years. He was born in a stable. He was raised to be a carpenter in small village. He didn’t have an advanced education. He never held a public office. He never wrote a book. In fact, the part of his life that made a lasting impact was His ministry, and that lasted only 3 short years. Yet you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t know who Jesus Christ was.

Why is that? Because as the Son of God, Jesus lived out his life in the way His Father wanted him too. He lived the life God had called him to live, and because of that he made an impact on the world. A lasting impact.

The question we should all ask ourselves is this. What type of impact are we going to have on the people in our life? What kind of impact are we going to have on the world around us?

God doesn’t create us to simply exist. God calls us to be his hands and feet. God calls us to share the good news. God calls us to make an impact on the world.

So how do you do that? It’s simple. It really is.

You do it by simply becoming the person God has created you to be. You become more than someone who just attends church, you become a disciple of Christ, you become a follower of Jesus. You live a life where Jesus is more than just your Savior, he is your Lord as well.

Jesus once told his disciples that if they wanted to follow him, really follow him, then they needed to die to self, take up their cross, and follow him each and every day of their life.

So what was he saying? Exactly what I stated, just in a little different way.

Life is short … Make it count.

You do that by living the life Christ has called you to live. You do that by simply giving up your wants and desires for your life and replacing them with God’s wants and desires for your life. You do that by being the hands and feet of Christ. You help to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked. You do that by doing what Christ would do if he were you. And you do that by also sharing the good news of Christ with everyone. The good news that can change their life … and their eternity. That’s how you make an impact with your life, no matter how short your life may be.

Think about it this way. If you sow a seed that leads someone to Christ because you are doing what God asks you to do, you truly never know what type of impact that may have on someone else. That person may become the next Billy Graham and lead thousands and thousands of people to Christ, and it might happen all because of you.

Life is short … Make it count.

I know that if the young man whose life we celebrated this past Saturday could tell you anything about life, he would tell you that life is short … but no matter how long you have make it count. And how do you make it count? You live your life in order to bring honor and glory to the one who created you.

We should all take his advice.

This weekend is Valentine’s day. A day in which husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, and people in relationships are supposed to be finding ways to show the significant other in their life just how much they care.

This is usually done in a variety of ways. Such as giving the lady in your life roses, chocolates, buying her something which she has been wanting, taking her out to a nice dinner, or even a night on the town. The way that women have shown their love for their man is much the same. However, starting this Friday that is all about to change.

Why you ask? Simply because the movie Fifty Shades of Grey hits theaters across the country, in what is sure to be the most watched movie since The Hunger Games. And just in case you don’t know anything about the movie Fifty Shades of Grey … Let me fill you in just a little.

Fifty Shades of Grey is the first book in a trilogy which follows the relationship between an innocent virgin, Anastasia Steele, and a powerful, but emotionally damaged business man, Christian Grey. Like most romance novels, the books deal with their extremely complicated relationship, including his attempts to seduce her into his bed. Yet there’s nothing normal about the seduction, as his seduction is to convince Ana to join him in a sado masochistic bondage sexual relationship.

In fact, the trilogy is so popular that there have been over 100 million copies of the books sold worldwide, and it has had such a great influence on our society that there are now BDSM clubs popping up all over the country, sales of toys and attire used in the lifestyle have gone through the roof, and women from all walks of life and all different backgrounds have become intrigued by the lifestyle.

My question for everyone who is considering spending money to go see this movie is this: Do you believe this is truly a good idea for you? It’s not if you value your relationship with your significant other, and this is why.

First of all, I know that it is only a movie, and a movie is not real life. However, I want to try to convince you not to see the movie by giving you a list of things that I feel you should know in order to be able to make the best choice by just saying no to seeing this particular film.

Now with that being said, there is no one who can convince me that a theater full of adults watching what is basically a soft porn flick together is a good idea at all. Not to even mention, that the sad part about this book, and eventually this film, is that it has such an impact on the people who are intrigued by it, that it will lead to numerous relationships being destroyed.

As a pastor, I have to live life in the trenches, helping couples to work through relationship problems, striving to save bad relationships and marriages. In doing these things, I have come to realize that maybe the biggest problem with relationships and marriages in today’s world is pornography. Pornography possibly ruins relationships and marriages at a higher rate than financial issues and affairs currently do. Pornography gives a false sense of what a relationship is supposed to be. Pornography gives a false sense of what makes a woman beautiful or a man handsome. Pornography brings about comparison which can lead to ruined relationship due to a horrific view of what is normal.

I truly believe this film will have the same type of impact. There will be people who are in wonderful relationships which will view the film and truly believe that taking their relationship to the level of the couple in the film will make it even greater. There will be people who will go and view the film only in hope that it will cause their significant other to live out a fantasy they have. There will be people in broken, damaged relationships who will walk away believing that this lifestyle is a way to fix their problems.

Sure most of these couples don’t believe that a movie can have that type of impact on their life, but remember this. The things that you think about, the things that you lust for, those are the things that will become part of your life. People in general do not go to see a movie that involves murder or fighting and lust for those things, but with this movie and this topic, that will not be the case.

Not to mention, that some people will get so caught up in this film that they will believe that the type of relationship portrayed in the movie is the perfect relationship. That physical pain, abuse, and humiliation between two people who care for each other is what takes a relationship to the next level.

Yet none of those things have anything to do with a perfect relationship. In fact, the greatest portrayal of a perfect relationships is the picture of Jesus and His church. It is the perfect image of the type relationship that a husband and a wife are supposed to have. It is a relationship that is built on built on the exact opposite of pain, abuse, and humiliation. It portrays a relationship based on tender care, loving kindness, and sacrifice.

In addition to the pornographic side of the movie, there is the lust issue. Jesus said that you should not lust for anyone other than your spouse, and there is a reason for that. The one that you love should not have to worry about who or what you are thinking about when you are with them. The lust caused by this movie may well lead to the person you care for developing that complex, and do you really want your spouse feeling they are inadequate based on a movie that you choose to watch together. I would hope that your answer is a resounding no.

Last, but definitely not any less important, is the fact that this movie portrays women simply as an object to be used by men for sexual pleasure. Yet women are so much more than that. They weren’t put here simply for our pleasure, they were put here to be our partner, our companion, our best friend, and most of all … someone who we love and respect. None of those are things which are portrayed by this movie.

So do yourself a favor. If you are considering seeing this movie, consider saying no, simply for the sake of your relationship. Plus, if you really need to see a movie about relationships, go to Red Box and pick up a copy of Fireproof. That is a perfect example of a great way to improve your relationship.

Where is Trey Lyles?

As a University of Kentucky fan that has been the million dollar question for the past 10 days.

Trey Lyles, the multi-dimensional 6’10” freshman for the University of Kentucky has missed the last 3 games with an undisclosed illness. The last time a UK player missed games with an undisclosed illness such as this was Ryan Harrow, who later transferred to Georgia State to finish out his career, which is why UK fans have been in such an uproar over Lyles missing in action.

Then to stir the pot even more. Coach Cal sent a tweet last night just minutes after the team left for their game at LSU tonight. What did the tweet say? Simply … Where is Trey? I thought he boarded the flight but I can’t find him.

The tweet went viral. It also has caused numerous articles to be written today about the reason behind the text and Cal’s relationship with the UK faithful.

So where is Trey Lyles?

Actually he was on the flight. He is in Baton Rouge with the team awaiting the game tonight.

However, Cal’s post leads me to another question. Another “Where’s Waldo?” question.

The question is not … Where’s Waldo? or even … Where’s Trey? But this … Where’s the Christians?

It’s a great question to ask isn’t it? After all, we as followers of God are supposed to be in the world living as the people who God has called us to be. Which means … We are supposed to be in the world showing the others the love of God. We are supposed to be in the world sharing the Gospel message … the good news of salvation. We are supposed to be in the world being the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that needs to desperately see Jesus. We are supposed to be in the world making a difference. But are we? Are we doing what we are supposed to be?

The problem with most of the people in the world who call themselves followers of Christ is that we aren’t in the world doing the things that we are supposed to be doing. Most don’t understand what being a Christian, a follower of Christ, entails.

Most people who claim to be followers of Christ simply believe that being who God has created them to be means that they attend church when it’s convenient for them, that they study the Bible when they have time, and they spend time in prayer when they need to ask for something.

Yet, when you truly look into God’s word, it is easy to see that there is much more to being a follower of Christ than those things. All of those things can help you grow in your relationship with Christ, but it isn’t everything God calls us to do. In fact, he calls us to do much more. He calls us to do what He would do if he were still here. Which means, at least according to Matthew 25, that we are supposed to be giving water to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, clothing those without clothes, and visiting those who are sick and in prison.

So tell me. When was the last time you took part in doing any of those things?

For most … the answer is never. For others … It is not often enough. Which leads to my original question … Where’s the Christians?

The answer?

Not doing what they are supposed to be doing … that is for sure.

So why not challenge yourself to start making a difference in your own little world, and while you’re at it … Challenge your church to do the same. Let us start making a difference in the world by simply living the life we are supposed to live.

I am sure that most of you saw the Super Bowl last night, and what a great game it was. However, can you believe the play call that lead to the interception which cost the Seahawks their second straight Super Bowl.

As one of my friends posted on Facebook just moments after it happened … “Even if I didn’t have the best short yardage running back in the game, I still wouldn’t have tried that pass play … even on Madden.”

That just about sums up my thoughts as well.

Now, can you imagine being the coach that called that play and having to live with it. I have no idea if the play call was made by the offensive coordinator or by the head coach, however I do know that as a former coach, having to live with that decision would be a hard pill to swallow. In fact, when I use to coach high school basketball and my team would lose, I couldn’t sleep that night. I had to watch game film and see what I did wrong as a coach that may have cost us the game. So if i had made that call, I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep for days … weeks … or even months.

Basically, it was a horrible decision. In fact it might have been the worse play call in the history of the Super Bowl. However, when you think about it, is it really any worse than some of the decisions we make in life?

The truth is, we have all made some questionable decisions in our life. Decisions that have caused us to do things that we are not proud of. Decisions that have caused us to upset, disappoint, or hurt people we love. Decisions which have caused us to disappoint, hurt, or let down God.

So what do we do when we have disappointment in our life … Especially when it has been brought on by ourselves by a bad decision which we have made?

Do we simply try to forget what we have done? Do we admit to the mistake we have made and vow to not make the same mistake again? Do we handle it in some other way?

Then once the issue has been addressed, do we allow it to continue to bring us down? Do we simply forget it? Do we learn from it and move on?

The great thing for us as Christians is that Jesus has already told us in his word exactly what we are supposed to do when we make a bad decision, when we mess up, and disappointment comes from it.

Jesus says we address the situation. We handle it in the way that it needs to be handled. Then we lay it on the altar and give it to him.

That means we don’t allow our past disappointments to drag us down. We don’t allow what we have done to keep us from becoming who God wants us to be. We simply give it to him and allow him to take it from us, never to be brought up again.

Why would he want us to handle it in this way?

Simply because the past is the past. We can learn from it and move on, but we can never allow it to define who we are to become.

The same goes for the coaching staff of the Seattle Seahawks. There is no need for them to lose sleep over their decision. There is no need for them to allow it to haunt them for the rest of their lives. They simply need to learn from their poor decision and move on.

It’s never easy to do. Now as a coach or as a Christian. However, if we want to be all that we can be, either as a coach or as a follower of Christ, then it is something that we must do. We can not let the bad decisions of our past wreck our future.

The next time you make a bad decision. Learn from it, handle it in the right way, and then give it to God and forget it. It’s then and only then that you can continue to become the person Christ has created you to be.

Well, now it is official. The Atlanta Braves are definitely in a “rebuilding” year for the 2015 Season. They have fired their general manager. They have traded away their two prized outfielders for prospects. They have signed average replacements who don’t strike out as much. Then they proceeded to trade away the only bat left to protect their start first baseman. They are definitely playing 2015 for the future, and the opening of their new stadium.

So why is it a team like Atlanta needs to rebuild anyway. I mean we are talking about a team that won 14 straight division titles and made the playoffs 16 consecutive seasons. Why would a team with that much success need to rebuild?

Do you want to know why? It’s simple really. The Braves got away from doing what they were doing to be competitive. The Braves which won 14 straight division titles and went to the playoffs for 16 consecutive years was a team not built on big contracts. They were a deep built on pitching. They were a team built on putting the ball in play and scoring runs anyway possible. They were a team built on defense. They were a team built on a great farm system. Yet over the past few years they have went after big bats in trades which involved their big prospects, hoping the likes of Uggla, BJ Upton, Justin Upton and the likes could drive in enough wins to run. The problem … They were strike out prone and didn’t put the ball in play enough. Not to mention they weren’t great defensive players.

Which leads to this season. A season that will be under a different GM. They have traded away players who they knew they would not be able to keep because of high salaries for lots of prospects. They even traded a solid hitter with power who was cheap by any standard for prospects simply because he was weak defensively. They are definitely rebuilding.

Yet how do you rebuild a team that was once successful, but now is not? You do what made you successful to start with. You build your team around solid pitching. You build your team around defense. You build your team around putting the ball in play. And how do you do that? You trade for lots and lots of prospects who have the ability to do what you need and you slowly rebuild your team into what they once were.

I think it is a great move. It is definitely going to be a painful 2015 season, but in the long-term, I think it will help the Braves get back to where they want to be.

So now that we have talked about my favorite baseball team, let’s talk about my favorite organization. The Church.

The Church use to be relevant. The Church use to make a greater impact on the people within its community. The Church use to be a vessel for changing people’s life. The Church use to be the focal point of most communities.

Today there are Churches which are relevant, but there are many more churches that are not relevant than are. Today there are churches who continue to make an impact on their community, but most simply exist. Today there are churches that are changing lives, but most are not effecting lives in any way. There are some Churches which are still the focal point of their community, but that is a rarity. So why is it that the Church isn’t what it use to be?

It’s simple. It’s for the same reason the Braves lost their way. It’s because Churches all across the country have forgotten what made them who they were.

Churches have forgotten that God gave His people the Word of God to read, study, and apply to their lives. Churches have forgotten that God’s word doesn’t change, that if it was a sin in the time it was penned then it is still a sin today, and we simply can’t change the word of God to fit our life. Churches have forgotten that it is not about the buildings but it’s about the people. The Church has forgotten that God has called us to be the hands and feet of Christ to a world in need. That the Church is supposed to help those in need. The Church has forgotten that God said to share the Good News of Christ with the whole world.

The simple answer. The Church has quit being the church.

So what do we do about it?

We do exactly what the Atlanta Braves are doing to rebuild their identity. We get back to doing what the church was created to do. We learn to stand on the truth found in the word of God. We learn that study God’s word and allowing it to change our life is important. We realize that prayer is important in order to have the right relationship with Christ. We realize that we have to care more about the world than our facilities. We have to get back to sharing the “Good News” with everyone who is not a child of God.

Basically … We have to get back to doing the things God calls us to do. Especially if we want to have the impact on the world that we are supposed to have.

Church it is time. Let’s get back to being God’s people. People who are living the life they are called to live. It’s the only way we are ever going to impact the world the way in which we are supposed too.

When you look at your life, where is most of your time invested? Is it invested in improving your own life? Is it invested in improving the life of your family? Is it invested in improving the life of others?

It is sad to say, but for most people in the world today are only interested in investing their efforts in improving themselves. They are only worried about what they can do to become better.

The truth … We live in a world that has become all about … me. What can I do to improve who I am? What can I do to improve my life? What can I do to make more? To have more?

Now, can I let you in on a little known fact that I have learned as I have gone through life?

Well here it is anyway.

If you truly want to make a difference in your life and feel good about who you are, then take time to invest in others.

Sure it is good to take time for yourself. When Jesus was leading His disciples during His ministry time, he often took time to be alone and focus on himself. It was often after he had taken the time to invest in others that he took the time. Yet we often read where Jesus went off to be alone, to pray to God the Father, and to take a look at what his next steps where.

So it is okay to take time for yourself. To work on your own life. To plan your next steps. But if you are only concentrating on your own life, you are missing out on so much the world has to offer.

Jesus may have taken time to be alone and focus on his next steps, but he took much more time investing his life in others.

Do you realize how much time he spent teaching His closest followers during his three years of ministry? He was with them day and night. They traveled together. They ate together. They spent their life together. He invested his life in them and it worked out for everyone.

Had Jesus only lived His life for himself then He would have never been born. He would have never given up His life in Heaven. He would have never taught the disciples what it meant to follow God. He would have never been a willing sacrifice for our sins.

However, Jesus knew that in order to impact the world in the way He was supposed to, He had to invest in the life of others. That is why He spent time investing His life in the disciples. That is why He gave His life for our sins.

He did it in order to make a difference.

You and I should invest in others to make a difference as well.

Can you imagine the joy that Jesus felt when the disciples started the first church on the day of Pentecost? You can if people you have invested your life in have made a difference in the world.

Can you imagine how Jesus feels over 2,000 years later when that church is still in existence because of the time he invested in His disciples? You can only if you have followed His example and see where the time you have invested in others has made a difference to them and the world in which they live.

This morning as I was preparing for my day, I noticed how many people had liked a video on Facebook that my wife had posted. It was a video of me getting the amazing opportunity to baptize my own son yesterday. However, I couldn’t believe that the video had over 150 likes. I definitely had a hard time believing that it had over 1,250 views.

However, as I thought about what getting the opportunity to baptize my son yesterday meant to me. I realized just how important investing your time in the life of others really is.

Sure, Jamison is my son, and I should take time to invest in his life. Yet so many parents do not. Sure as a pastor, I should teach my kids about Jesus Christ and why they need a relationship with him. Yet so many Christian parents never take the time to do so. Which is why I feel so good about the time that I have invested in my children, teaching them about a relationship with Christ and striving to be an example of who Christ is.

Can you say the same thing when it comes to your children? I sure hope so.

Yet it goes deeper than that. Especially as followers of Christ. We aren’t just called to invest in ourselves, or our family, we are called to invest our lives in others. We are called to love others the way that Jesus loved. We are called to share the good news of Jesus with everyone. We are called to invest in the life of others so they may impact the world in places we may not be able too.

Today, as I look back over 16 years of ministry, I can honestly say that I am so thankful that I took time to invest in the life of others. In face, I can honestly say that the things which make me feel best about my life is not the work that I have done in ministry, but it’s seeing what those I have invested my life in are doing in ministry.

I have former youth group kids who are in full-time ministry. Some of my former youth group kids are head pastors, worship leaders, church planters, youth pastors, children’s pastors, others are missionaries or work in ministries where they have the opportunity to help those in need.

I have been blessed to have the opportunity to invest in the life of so many. Yet it blesses me even more to see the things that some of them are accomplishing for God, than it does to know that I am still in ministry.

So remember this … Life isn’t just about us. It’s not about putting all our time and energy into ourselves. Life is about taking the time to invest in others.

Everyone God ever created was born with the ability to change the life of someone else, don’t even waste that gift. Invest in others the way Jesus invested in His disciples. You will make an impact. You will help change someone’s life for the better.