Better Together – Chewy Tails


IMG_0903This is Chewy.

He thinks he is bigger than he really is.  Chewy is a Chiweenie, which is a Chihuahua and Dachshund mix and pours out his unconditional love to all.  His bark is loud, his smile can be intimidating, but after you get to know him, he’s a bundle of mushy love.

Over the last 4 days, I have spent lots of time with Chewy.  As I have spent hours upon hours discovering his quirks, his fears and his love, the Lord has also given me insight into why He has brought Chewy into our family at this point in time.

For almost the last decade, my family has been the proud owner of cats, black cats to be specific.  Each of them (Shadow and Angel) have their unique character and show love in different ways.  Regardless of their individuality, the fact that they are the same species and have many similarities remains true.

Both Shadow and Angel have worked hard to be friends by tolerating each other’s quirkiness, odd behaviors and personality differences.  Now, we have added a puppy to the mix and this is where the lessons began.

When you have multiple species living under the same roof, understand, there will be some difficult times.  In our case the times have not been so bad.  The cats have had to learn that Chewy is here to stay and Chewy has to learn that cats don’t play like dogs.  What I found interesting was the comparison to the Church today.

“The Church today” is comprised of many denominational and non-denominational churches.  Yet, many times, individual churches decide to do ministry on their own, rather than with the support of other churches.

We hear excuses like, “We do things the way the Lord wants us to do it” or “What works for them doesn’t work for us” or “We’ve always done things this way.  We don’t need the advice from anyone else.”

But is “the Church” supposed to operate this way?  Are we supposed to work like an island, surrounded by water, not being involved with the main land?  No matter how we look at “the Church”, we must understand that we are comprised of many different peoples, from many different languages, having many different cultures, with many different secondary beliefs.  Unfortunately, many times, it is the secondary beliefs that divide us rather than unite us.  Here is what I mean….

Shadow, Angel and now Chewy are unique in their own way.  However, both cats and dog have a single and clear goal…to please their Daddy.  Why?  I chose them.  None of them chose me.  In Shadow’s case, she was a stray that we had compassion on.  We decided to woo her until she trusted us and then when she desired to come in the house, we invited her in.  Angel was found under a car.  No one knows how she got there, but she was found and no one wanted her because she is completely black.  I took her home, comforted her and cared for her.  We could have sent her to a kennel for adoption, but instead made a conscience decision to keep her.  Finally, I was desiring a dog, so I went out and looked at many different kinds of dogs.  Ultimately, we chose Chewy and now he is a part of our family.  The same is true for us as “the Church”.

First, regardless of our denominational or non-denominational ties, God chose us.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” – Ephesians 1:4 (NIV)

Do you realize that God chose you, BEFORE WE EVEN EXISTED?  How awesome is that?!  The Creator of all things made a conscience decision to choose you and I.  And to boot, he did that even before He created everything.  If that doesn’t get you excited, maybe the next point will.

Second, there are no denominations in heaven.

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” – Revelation 7:9 (NIV)

GASP! No mention of denominations or individual churches.  Unbelievable!  One day, all will be revealed and our secondary issues and beliefs won’t matter anymore.  Whether we believe in infant baptism or full emersion, whether pre-tribulation, post-tribulation or a-millennialism, it won’t matter.  Whether we believe in speaking in tongues or not, it won’t matter.  All of these secondary beliefs, which divide us, won’t matter one day.  All that will matter is that we will be with our Daddy, together, worshipping Him, doing His will.  We won’t care if we are Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals, Calvinist, Methodist or any other denomination you can think of.  All nations, all tribes, all languages will be represented and what’s most exciting???  No one will be able to count us!  Not only has God chosen us, but He chose so many of us, that no one can count how many He chose.

If we can look beyond our criticism, our judgements of denominations and churches and focus on the reason why God leaves us here after becoming Christians, maybe, just maybe, we can join forces and change the world for the Kingdom.

Just like Shadow, Angel and Chewy have to work together to please their Daddy, so too, we must all work together to bring the Gospel to the nations.  Our purpose is clear, to share the Gospel, by sharing our lives with others, serving others (even when they don’t appreciate it) and leading them to the Cross.

Imagine what the world would look like if we decided to put away our differences, and focus on our mission.  We need to be that positive influence on the world today.  There are too many divisions, too many differences, too many unforgiving people.  This is our time to show the world, how Jesus loves them.  This is our time to show the world that people from every nation, language and tribe can work together and worship together for the Kingdom’s purpose of leading others to Christ.

We can be better together.  Let’s work out our differences and change the world in the process.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Brtete Teoetghr – Leading, not making


Our words are not merely a way to express ourselves; they are also a weapon of choice, used with precision and exactness as to wound the mind into thinking that even heresy is truth.

Our brains are being scrambled.  The media is doing an awesome job telling us what to think, how to think and when to think.  Have you noticed the important stories are the ones they want to tell you?  This month alone, we have all heard stories about an illegal immigrant who allegedly murdered a young woman.  But we do not hear about the father who killed his wife and family.  As we listen, we hear about how gun violence is out of control in Chicago, but we do not hear how a woman protected herself and her family with the use of a firearm.  We hear how income inequality is rampant among our nation and we hear the war cries of injustice.  We hear how horrible the wealthy are because of how much they steal from others, only to find out that the same people who cry this way are making millions themselves.  Today is the epitome of hypocrisy and deception.

So what is the solution to all of this?  How can we overcome the hypocrisy and deception we face in today’s media driven world?  It’s not like we can just turn it all off and hide in our little bubbles.  Even though that might sound appetizing, it is not reality.  Our world is filled with various media outlets and many are subject to the brainwashing.  So if we can’t turn off the media, what can we do?  We can answer the prayer of one man, Jesus Christ.

In John 17, Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In one of his prayers, he says the following:

”My prayer is not for them (the disciples) alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” – John 17:20-23 (NIV)

Today, this prayer has yet to be answered, but I believe that it can be answered and will be answered someday.  However, the only way we can come to complete unity is if we have a better understanding of what we stand for.  Now, I do not mean racial inequality or income inequality or Democrat vs Republican, no, what I mean is, as Christians, do we truly understand why we are here?  Do we really understand what our responsibilities are while we are living?

Please don’t misunderstand me…the matters of these social issues is important.  It is important when someone is arrested for something they didn’t do all because of the color of their skin.  It is important when a woman can’t make as much as a man simply because they were created as a woman.  It is important when our soldiers, who come home, are homeless, yet those who claim to fight for them, don’t even donate to causes which help our homeless veterans.  It is important to stand up for what you believe in, but is it more important to stand up for social issues and not stand up for your mission?

Our unity can only come when we fully understand the mission we have.  So what does Jesus want us to do?  Does He simply ask us to live a quiet life among those who are lost?  Does He want us to preach from the mountain top and cry out on how to come to Him?  What exactly, does Jesus want us to do?

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives us our mission.  It is a clear and focused mission and I truly believe that once we all work towards that mission, not only will be become unified, but the social ills of today will become calmer.  These issues may not fully go away, but they can be tamed if we just follow the clear and focused mission Jesus gave us:

”All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our mission is a threefold mission.  But before we get into what the mission is, we need to understand why this mission is so important.  The answer…Jesus has given us His authority to do so.  Jesus told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  This means that no matter what we experience, no matter the war cries of the media, Jesus is in control and in charge.  There is no earthly ruler that can claim that all authority has been given to them.  They may try to claim this but it would be an ill-gotten attempt to try and convince us otherwise.  Here is what I mean…

A ruler proclaims, “I have the authority over all people!  No one can stop what I have started.”  Yet in times of war, another, stronger ruler comes against this heretical ruler and overcomes him.  The new ruler takes over the former’s people and immediately proves the authority he proclaimed is limited.

However, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  How can this be proven?  When Jesus was hanging on the cross, someone said, “Hey Jesus…if you are truly the Son of God, come down from there.”  He didn’t.  Not because He couldn’t but because Jesus understood that by Him staying there and dying, He was fulfilling the command of his Father.  Therefore, He stayed on the cross willingly.

“Being found in appearance as a man, He (Jesus) humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:8 (NASB)

Then after His death, Jesus rose from the dead, showing His authority over death.  Therefore, because Jesus was fully obedient, He was given all authority over everything…in heaven and here on earth.  There is truly nothing that is out of the scope of His authority.

It is with this authority, that we can do the three things we need to do.  Our mission is not a complex one, but it isn’t easy either.

First, with the authority of Jesus Christ, we need to make disciples.  This isn’t like baking a cake.  The word for make here is to lead.  To lead means we there is involvement.  Typically, people do not follow others who are demanding or obstinate.  Instead, we desire to follow someone who has experienced the same or similar situations we have.  We like leaders who are willing to get their hands dirty with the people they are leading.  We do not like those who say they are leaders but are not willing to do the things others are willing to do.  Our calling is to be in the trenches with others.  To share the message of Jesus Christ with them.  We do not lead them to a way of acceptance, but rather to the one who has accepted them already.  The first part of our mission is to lead them to the cross of Jesus Christ.

We, alone, cannot change anyone.  We can only show them a better way to live.  It’s like the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  The same holds true with sharing the Gospel.  We can lead someone by telling them about the Gospel, but just as the cowboy leads the horse to water, so too, must we lead others by walking with them.

Our words are a weapon which can be used in a precise way to allow others to see that what Jesus Christ did for them is real.  Others must also see that what we say are not just merely words, but we are willing to place action behind them.  We must walk with them.  We must not pull them forcibly.  We must not push them when they do not want to move.  But we must hold their hand, walk at their pace, show them the love of Jesus by helping them when they are struggling or hurting.  We must sit with them when they are tired.  We must sleep when they sleep, move when they move.  If we simply tell someone the Gospel, but do not show them the Gospel, we blindly swing our sword in the hopes to hit the broad side of a barn.  Instead when we only tell them, we swing our sword injuring both them and us in the process.

If you want to unite the world, we must first be united as Christians, with a united goal.  We can be better together if we focus in on the first part of our mission, lead others to the cross.  Next, we will look at the second (and possibly third) part of our mission.

Let’s unite under the cross of Jesus Christ and not worry about the brainwashing of society.  Our authority to lead comes from the Maker of Heaven and Earth, so stop following blindly and open your eyes to the truth…Jesus is in control and has called us to lead as one.

Let’s answer the prayer of Jesus to become united as one body.  We are truly better together when we are united in our mission to lead.  God bless and encourage someone today.

Better Together


Over the last number of weeks, there has been a reoccurring theme in my everyday life…unity.

Everywhere we look, there is something or someone trying to divide us.  Whether it is CNN versus Fox News, who is for versus who is against the President, Republican versus Democrat, or one of my favorites, those who are tolerant versus those who are intolerant.  No matter where you look, there is a “spirit” of division that is increasing in strength and power and for evangelical Christians, this is becoming an increasing problem.

What problem you may ask?  Well, if you’re in any church regularly, you will find those who stand on one of the sides of the political/social fence.  The problem comes in when those same people decide to take a stand for one of those sides.  Once someone does that, another person comes around to argue how wrong the other party is.  Then over a very short period of time, this argument increases in intensity and frequency causing a division among those who are supposed to worship together.

When outsiders come in, they don’t see this behavior right away, but as they come week after week, some of them make the assumption that our churches are divided just like the rest of the world.  They question whether they should they keep coming or just stay home?  They hear about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for them, but in reality, they see people who are supposed to be joyful and changed, but those same people argue over divided topics of the day.  The actions of individuals taint the Good News for plain old regular news.

So how can we change this perception?  What can we do to ensure the Good News stays good?  We need to be better together.

In John 13, we see Jesus serving his disciples by washing their feet.  Then during the Passover meal, he lets his disciples know that Judas was going to betray him.  Judas immediately leaves and the rest of the disciples stay with Jesus.  Right after Judas leaves, Jesus communicates the following:

“A new command I give to you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 NIV

Did you notice something?  This is a command, not a suggestion.  Jesus knew that his disciples weren’t going to agree on everything.  In fact, Jesus, being God, knew that over time, there would be various denominations based on how people interpret theology.  Unfortunately, He also knew that over time, the “love of most will grow cold.”  It is because of this love growing cold that division reigns and grows stronger.

So how do we love one another?  How can we show the world we aren’t like the rest of the world?  We can do what Jesus did.

Remember, right before Jesus tells them to love each other, He goes out of his way to wash their feet.  This action of washing their feet was a representation how to love, forgive and serve others.  Jesus wanted to display the kind of love we need to have with others.  First, as his new command was to love each other, he also wanted us to forgive each other as well.

Peter tried not to have his feet washed by Jesus, but Jesus told Peter that if he didn’t allow him to wash his feet, Peter could not have any part with Jesus.  Then Peter said, “Then wash my whole body.”  Jesus then reminded him that only those who are dirty over their entire body need to be cleansed.  Peter only needed his feet to be cleansed.

What Jesus was telling Peter was, “Son, I have already made you clean.  You don’t need that.  What you need is forgiveness in your daily walk.  That is why your feet are dirty.”  Isn’t that a wonderful application?  Our walk in this life is not a clean one.  Many times, we do things or say things we regret.  We shout when we should be silent.  We act when we should wait.  We look towards when we should look away.  No matter how you dice it, our daily lives need daily forgiveness.

This is where the command of loving each other comes in.  Just as Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, signifying daily cleansing, Jesus also did the washing.  When we forgive others for their sins towards us, we wash their dirty feet.  When someone forgives us for something we said or did, they wash our dirty feet.  We display our love for each other by forgiving each other.

We also display our love by forgiving the sins of others outside of the church.  If you look at any social media outlets, you will find millions of postings pointing the finger of negative news from one person or group of people to another.    We hear things like, “It’s Obama’s fault” or “It’s Trump’s fault”.  We read posts which invoke hatred rather than love.  We see images of condemnation rather than forgiveness.

Prior to Jesus’ death, he was asked, “How many times should we forgive others?  Seven times?”  In biblical times, it was thought that forgiving the same person for the same sin seven times was enough grace and mercy.  However, Jesus had a different idea towards this.  His reply was, “Seventy times seven.  This is how often you need to forgive.”  It wasn’t the number that was important but the idea of forgiveness.

We can’t keep track of how many times we forgive others, especially, if it is continual.  Jesus knew this.  So he gave the disciples a number they couldn’t comprehend, according to their tradition.  The disciples immediately knew that forgiveness should be unconditional and ever present.

What would our society look like if we stopped all the division and presented a pattern of forgiveness?  Forgiveness to those who sin against us over and over again.  Forgiveness to those who display hatred towards Christ and His church.  Forgiveness that is unconditional and ever present.  How would our neighbors react if our display of love went beyond those who look or act like us?  Forgiveness is not just for those who attend church, but it is also for those who are lost.

We also display our love towards others by serving them.  Jesus served his disciples.  He didn’t want them to wash his feet.  He wanted to wash theirs.  This meant that as a leader, He was willing to do the dirty work, while others reap the benefits.

Imagine if churches today, served their communities.  What if the church went out of its way to serve the community they worship in?  In biblical times, the temple was the epicenter of society.  Everything revolved around the temple.  Markets were all around the temple for travelers who couldn’t bring their sacrifice.  People met, worshipped, talked and lived around the temple.

In Acts 2, we find the early church serving their community while meeting in the temple for worship.  What would our communities look like if we centered everything we did around the church?  It used to be.  What would happen if we tried this again?  How would the people in our community react?

Down the block from my church is a Sheik Temple.  No matter what time of the day or evening, there is always hustle and bustle around their temple, why?  Because they believe in community living.  They live, work and shop in places owned by them.  They know that if they support each other, they also support their local temple.

This was the early churches mindset.  The early church went out of their way to help others.  They took care of those who were left for dead.  They adopted unwanted children.  They gave to those who were in need.  They supplied the needs and cares of those they lived among.  Why don’t we do the same today?  It is because we have forgotten the new command Jesus gave to love each other.

When we love each other, we will have a tendency to forgive and serve each other.  Once we do that, we then move into our communities and forgive and serve them as well.  In this way, we display the kind of love Jesus commanded and when outsiders see this, they will know we are His children.

However, when we share hateful, hurtful or condemning words, we prove to the world, that our form of Christianity is no different than the rest of the world.  Our calling was not to stand up for one political agenda or another.  Our calling goes beyond the boundaries of the United States.  Our calling goes into all the world.  Our calling is to love one another and love the lost.

We are called to live lives that are different than the rest of society.  One way we can display that difference is in loving each other, loving outsiders and serving our communities.  Once we get a handle on that, then we can discuss the differences.  Only when we display our love towards all and serve all, can we understand that the things that divide us are not meant for our good, but are meant to destroy.

Live different lives.  Live better lives.  Live unified.  Know that we are all better together when we love others just as Jesus Christ loves us.  God bless and encourage someone today.