Tag: Christ follower

This Is Not Easy!!

Have you ever heard the expression, “Hard on the front end, easy on the back end; easy on the front end, hard on the back end!” There is so much practical wisdom in that statement!

When we are willing to make the hard decisions, take the tough actions up front, it tends to make things easier in the long run. If we take the quick and easy way out up front, many times it leads to heartache on the back end.

This is true in every area of life… our health, our finances, our child rearing, and our relationships. It really applies to how we get along in the Body of Christ, in our church relationships!

Jesus desires unity in His Church and has given us a clear roadmap to get there and stay there. It does require doing the “hard” thing on the front end, but the sweet harmony it brings on the back end is so worth the effort!

The “roadmap” can be found in the New Testament in the form of the “one anothers”. These are commands, not suggestions, that have been given to every follower of Christ. They tell us how to feel, act, and not act toward one another. Obeying them is not always easy, but it is the right thing to do.

I am taking a look at 33 of those “one anothers” on my Sharing Real Hope podcast, beginning with Podcast 173 through 176. They can be found at iTunes or on my ministry website, sharingrealhope.org. Click on the Podcast button to access them.

The overarching “one another” is obviously, love one another. It is repeated several times throughout the New Testatment. It is the divine, giving, self sacrificing love that Jesus displayed by coming from Heaven to earth to become a man, and by dying on a cross for our sin. What love that is! Jesus said to us “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

All the other commands, the “one anothers”, happen because we love like that. It is only possible as we yield ourselves to the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It is not easy, but it is definitely worth it!!  Take time to listen to those podcasts!

Customized Cakes and Persecution

The name Jack Phillips may or may not be familiar to you. He has been prominently in the news in the past and is back in again. I’m pretty sure he would rather not be there at all. Here’s a bit of his story…

In 1993 Jack opened Masterpiece Cakeshop as a family business in Lakewood, Colorado. He served his community well for over 20 years. In July 2012, two men came into his business requesting a custom cake to celebrate their same sex marriage. Jack politely declined, offering to sell them anything in his shop or to design them a cake for other occasions. Shortly after that, he began receiving threatening phone calls. In December 2013, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against Jack, ordering him to either begin making cakes for same sex marriages or stop making wedding cakes. That was 40% of his business. The commission also ordered him to “reeducate” his staff, teaching them that he was wrong to operate his business by refusing to do cakes for same sex marriage, based on his religious faith. In addition, he was ordered to file quarterly reports to the commission reporting any declines to do cakes and why.

In July 2016, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Jack’s behalf. On June 4, 2018, The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack, reversing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling against him. However, that’s not the end of the story…

Jack has continued to receive requests to make provocative custom cakes that are obviously against his religious convictions. Recently, the commission tried to force him to bake a cake celebrating a “gender transition” for a homosexual man who was “becoming” a woman. Jack has found himself back to suing the state of Colorado to maintain his right to act based on his religious faith.

Make no mistake about it, this is not about hating or wrongly discriminating against a group of people. It is about whether a person can operate based on long standing religious principles. It is about the exercise of religious freedom.

In a democratic republic, where the government is of, for, and by the people, we have the responsibility as citizens to do what we can to preserve our freedoms. That includes praying, being informed, speaking out in an intelligent and kind way, and voting.  “…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand more.”  Luke 12: 48b (ESV)  In Jesus’ day, the government was an authoritarian one, which didn’t allow that kind of participation.

However, having said that, as followers of Jesus, we must remember His words that still resonate today.  “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (ESV)

Persecution has been a part of following Jesus for the last 2000 plus years!  Here in the United States we have taken for granted the freedoms we enjoy, and have not had to suffer for Christ like many others through the years.  That may be changing.  I don’t know what is coming, but I do know that we should not be surprised by any persecution we are called on to endure.  Jack Phillips is being persecuted, but is not exhibiting hate toward his persecutors.  Although he is rightly pursuing his constitutional right to legally defend himself, he is, at the same time, conducting himself in a Christ like manner while being wrongly treated.

May we, who follow Jesus, take a lesson from this story!  May we be willing to live a life that honors Christ, even if it does bring persecution!

Even If You Don’t Like Football!!!

Football season is upon us and the fans are getting excited! Soon the favorite college teams will be playing and the professional teams will be dominating the Sunday afternoons and evenings. (Not to mention Monday and Thursday evenings!)

The game of football is, in many ways, a metaphor for life. There is one particular way that I am constantly reminded of, one that everyone can understand, even if they don’t follow football. It is this. The duration of the football game is a limited 60 minutes, broken into four fifteen minute quarters. Life is similar…

According to the World Bank, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.74 years. Divided into four quarters, we have 19.685 years in each quarter of life. For discussion sake, let’s just say we have four quarters of 20 years. Which quarter are you in currently?

A 40 year old is entering their third quarter of life! A 60 year old is now in their fourth quarter!

Obviously, no one knows how long they will live! Many die in the first quarter of life. However, this is a great way to keep life in perspective, understanding, of course, that there is no guarantee of 80 years!

How do Christ followers respond to this extremely realistic perspective? The Word of God gives the answer in several places!

Moses wrote this prayer in Psalm 90:10-12 “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due Your name? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
In this prayer, we are reminded of…
>The limited length of our life. 70-80 years
>The struggle of our life. “labor and sorrow”
>The wrath of God against sin, which causes our struggle,
and the opportunity to fear, or reverence God.
>The petition we need to make… Lord “teach us to number
our days, so that we may present to YOU a heart of

The Apostle Paul wrote this in Ephesians 5:15-18. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise. making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”
In these words the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, admonishes us to…
>“Walk” or live our lives wisely, based on God’s plan.
>Maximize the opportunity God graciously gave us. “Time”
in this verse means a specific period of time or season,
literally, our lifetime.
>Avoid foolishness, which is opposite of knowing God’s will.
(God’s will is clearly spelled out in His Word!)
>Avoid being under the influence of anything other than
the Holy Spirit! That happens as we yield to, are obedient
to the will of God through the enabling power of the Holy

Whether you are in the first quarter or the fourth, as I am, you can begin today to live in a way as described above!

Even if you don’t like football!!

In the courtroom!

I am a visually driven learner. When I can see something, it’s much easier for me to comprehend. That includes literally seeing and “seeing” through an illustration or analogy.

There is a very important word that is used in the New Testament. The word is justification, or justified. How important is this word? Without it, no one can have a relationship with God! The question is, what in the world does it mean? That’s where my visual learning is helpful. There is a very good illustration I use that has been helpful to me and I believe has helped others to understand the concept of justification. Use your imagination for a moment to go into a Divine courtroom…

The Judge in this court is none other than God the Father.  He is a unique, one of a kind judge.  Unlike other judges, He is all knowing, so He actually has all the facts, even before the case is presented.  He is also completely different from all other judges in that He is perfectly righteous and needs no other law apart from Himself.  He is the Law, the Standard!  Everyone in His courtroom is judged by the standard of Him.

The defendant in this Divine courtroom is, in this illustration, anyone who is a Christ follower.  (By the way, all of humanity is a defendant here!)  So, the Christ follower stands before the judge, accused of being a sinner, separated from God.  The evidence is, for everyone, overwhelming!  The Father Judge brings down His gavel and declares, “You are guilty!  The sentence is eternal separation from Me in Hell!”  Romans 3:23; 6:23a  However, that’s not the end of the trial, thank God!!

There is another person present in this courtroom.  He is the Christ follower’s defense attorney.  His  name is Jesus Christ!  As soon as the Father Judge hands down His verdict and sentence, Jesus speaks up.  He tells the Father, “I have already paid the penalty for this, My follower’s sin.  This person has repented and turned to follow Me.”  The Father Judge immediately brings down His gavel again and declares to the Christ follower, “I forgive you of all your sin, past, present, and future!  I permanently credit you with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, your attorney!”  Romans 4:22-25; 5:1; II Corinthians 5:17-21

That is called justification!!  When God justifies us, He no longer sees us as sinners, even though we do sin.  He sees us as righteous, because of Jesus’ righteousness that has been applied to us!

Have you turned to Jesus, from your own efforts and sin, to trust in Him alone for forgiveness of sin and to follow Him?  If you have, you have been justified!  If you haven’t, what hinders you from doing so right now?!!

If you have questions, comments, or you have made that decision to follow Jesus, please feel free to contact me, using the form below!