He is a student at the Phoenix Men’s Center of Teen Challenge or Arizona. Jeremiah Elders was alienated from his friends and family, running the streets, addicted to drugs and alcohol and a pack or two a day smoker. Now a year later he is free of drugs and praising God for the ability to run in a half marathon!
I had the great privilege to cover his story as part of my part time job with Teen Challenge of Arizona. It’s amazing to see God work in the lives of men and women to get them back on track of His best!
If you have faith in what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross, then God is not holding your sins against you! Let me repeat that. God does not hold your sins against you if you are a child of God!
Your righteousness won’t get you any closer to God than the next fellow. Only God makes you righteous by your faith in His Son. Religion will tell you that you need to clean up your act in order for God to love you, bless you or approve of you. It’s just not true.
Sin IS deadly and will surely bring consequences in this life, but I repeat, if you have Jesus as your Savior God is not holding your sins against you. He is FOR YOU NOT AGAINST YOU!
This may be the best hour you invest all week and highly recommended for current and future Christians. It’s called the good news for a reason! Here is Pastor Duane Sheriff from November 28, 2010. Please listen:
Just to elaborate a little more on my last post. Here is a 5 minute sample from a sermon that Pastor Duane Sheriff gave yesterday about the simple and powerful Biblical concept of Loving God and Loving People:
You can hear the rest of Pastor Duane’s sermon and sermons here. You can also do what I do and that is subscribe to his podcast on iTunes.
Pastor Duane’s teachings have been a huge blessing in my life. I have been listening to him for 11 years and counting. I have visited his church in Durant, Oklahoma numerous times as well.
Pastor Duane’s teaching combined with my prayer time, reading my Bible and sitting under great preaching by my home pastors, I have been able to grow in God’s Word and Love. I haven’t arrived, but at least I’ve left the station, hallelujah.
At the beginning of the year I blogged about Mayhem Like Me. The human condition we find ourselves in thanx to original sin and living in a fallen world. It’s true. We sin. Sometimes we out and out disobey God, aka transgress. But that is not the end of the story! We can be encouraged by the Love of God and as a result cause less mayhem in our lives and in the lives of the people around us. Before I elaborate, let’s watch another one of those clever Allstate commercials that crack me up so much:
As I pointed out at the first of the year, you are in Good Hands when you are in God’s Hands. That is the answer to Mayhem like me.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
This verse is often misapplied to mean that God won’t give you more in this life than you can handle. I believe what Paul is saying here is that when you are tempted, God provides a way out and the temptation is not so intense that you can’t escape it.
What is the best way to escape temptation? Apply a heavy dose of God’s Love. God has often spoken to me to, “never forget how much I love you.” For me (and I’m guessing for you too) when I start to think that God has forgotten me, and my patience in doing good is wearing thin, that’s when I get discouraged and start entertaining mayhem. Stuff that might be fun for a season, but ultimately can bring pain into my life and others around me.
How do you stay encouraged in God’s Love? Stay plugged into the vine. Spend time with Him and in His Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. As you listen to how much He loves you, and as you are reminded of all the wonderful things He has done for you, you can’t help but want to love Him back.
How do you love God back? Jesus explained more than once. It’s Love. Love God, Love People. When I teach Sunday School I tell the kids that if they forget everything else I tell them to remember one thing (which is two things). Love God. Love People. Jesus said in Matthew 22:35-40:
35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus also said to His disciples in John 14, “if you love Me you will keep my commandments.”
That is impossible to do perfectly. If we could keep God’s commandments by ourselves, we wouldn’t need Jesus to save us in the first place. Thankfully, God DID send Jesus to rescue us from mayhem.
So the practice of keeping mayhem out of our lives is a simple one, yet a daily struggle to walk out. First we have to accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. Once we do that we receive God’s Spirit to dwell inside of us. God’s Spirit leads us into all truth which boils down to Love God, Love People. If we Love God we will keep His commands. If we love people we won’t steal from them, murder them, talk bad about them behind their backs and sleep with them outside of marriage. When we have moments of weakness and give in to temptation we can run to a loving God who will forgive us because He has already paid for our sins on the cross. As we apply God’s Love in our own hearts daily, we will be better able to resist when temptation comes knocking. I love the saying, “when the devil comes knocking, send Jesus to answer the door.” It’s with His strength that we fight the good fight.
Mayhem like me? Unfortunately yes at times. But thanx to God that He gives me the power to say no to mayhem and yes to His love! When someone else gives in to mayhem and it affects me, thanx to God’s love I can forgive and even help restore the damage done.
Mayhem may be with us until Jesus comes back, but if we will practice His love in our lives, and share it with others, there will be less mayhem and more of God’s Love. That’s how God’s Kingdom is come to Earth as it is in Heaven.
In the wake of the tragic events here in Tucson, there has been a national call to tone down the rhetoric. Republicans in the House no longer refer to “the job killing health care bill” but rather the “job crushing health care bill.” Earlier on CNN a guest said “in the crosshairs” when referring to a political race. Completely under acceptable according to new CNN metaphor standards.
Never mind that the accused killer of of six people in Tucson was influenced by his own demons and likely a movie called Zeitgeist. Not radio hosts. Not Tea Partiers.
Since metaphors are now public enemy number one, I thought it might be fun to come up with a top 9 list of forboden metaphors. (Top Ten Lists are a Copyright of Worldwide Pants). Here we go.
9. I could kill for a cigarette right now.
8. I could kill for a bowl of cherry vanilla ice cream right now (mmmm ice cream)
7. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. (hey, horses are people too. sorta)
6. This political campaign is being targeted nationally.
5. This dress is to die for!
4. Those waves are like, totally killer.
3. Shop at Target
2. Hit me with your best shot, why don’t you hit be with your best shot. Fire away.
and the number 1 forbidden metaphor:
1. There goes Sarah Palin shooting off her mouth again.
Silly, ain’t it? The events in Tucson have been heart wrenching. It’s been emotional. Very emotional. But lets get one thing straight. The political rhetoric (or any other rhetoric) had NOTHING to do with it. ONE PERSON is responsible for what happened a week ago Saturday. The sooner we realize that, the sooner some of this other silliness will stop.
Continue to pray for Congresswoman Giffords. Her recovery has been amazing and is a shining example of the power of prayer. Continue to pray for the families of those killed too. I can’t imagine what they are going through.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. A dream that is clearly a Biblical principle. That men would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I think it’s appropriate to listen again to that amazing speech given in August of 1963.
There are some that complain that the Bible condones slavery. Dr. King, being a preacher of God’s Word, knew that that couldn’t be further from the truth. Unfortunately slave traders and slave owners of the 18th and 19th Centuries did what they could to cloud the issue and attempt to justify their sin. They pointed to passages in the Bible that seem to approve of slavery, but left out some very important facts.
The most important is that the slavery that was allowed in Biblical times was indentured servitude. Back then if you went into debt and couldn’t repay, you became a slave to pay off the debt. Once the debt was paid, or at Jubilee, a slave was to be set free and debt free. Many servants liked the way their masters took care of them and chose to stay as Bond Servants. (just as God’s people are called to be His Bond Servants)
Meanwhile, Man Stealing was explicitly forbidden in the Law and was punishable by death:
Exodus 21:16 16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.
Any slave trader who tried to justify kidnapping people to sell them into slavery by using the Bible was adding to their list of sins.
Indeed it was a Christian that fought to end the slave trade in England. They made a movie about the life of William Wilberforce, “Amazing Grace.” The famous hymn of the same name was written by a former slave trader who later became a member of the clergy. The song conveys the amazing grace of God who can rescue even a slave trader from his horrible sins thanx to the sacrifice made on the cross by God’s only Son Jesus!
If you want to know God’s heart when it comes to prejudice you can look at Moses and his sister Miriam. In Numbers Chapter 12 we learn that Miriam and Aaron were upset at Moses because he had married an Ethiopian. God got upset and gave Miriam a taste of Leprosy:
Number 12:9-11 9 So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. 11 So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.
I have a dream that echos the dreams of Dr. King. That this nation will turn to Biblical principles. That God’s Word and Spirit would guide our individual words and actions. That lawmakers and those appointed in authority would look to God for guidance as they lead. And yes, that God would continue to bless America and that He would use His people to be salt and light always.
The Governor put aside her planned remarks and delivered a heartfelt message honoring heroes from Saturday. While we are in pain from the senseless violence from this past weekend we will not lose sight of what makes our country and our state great. Thank You Governor. May God be with you and all of us.
Saturday’s shooting in Tucson (technically Pima County) is heartbreaking. How do you make sense out of what doesn’t make any sense? All you can do is shed a tear and pray. There has been a lot of both in Tucson and around the country since Saturday. The prayers continue even as the victims start to heal and the families of those killed mourn.
Since the shooting occurred only a mile from my apartment, I did want to describe what happened in my little world on Saturday. I received calls from family and friends because they know that I have been to some of Congresswoman Giffords’ events in the past and they wanted to know that I was OK. This tragedy underscores once again how important our relationships are with those we love. Another reminder to never take our friends and family for granted.
Saturday morning I went to my LD (Legislative District) meeting, LD26 at 9am. It was there before the meeting started that someone mentioned that Gabrielle Giffords had an event planned at the Safeway at Ina and Oracle. Our meeting went as planned. At the very end a lady stood up in the back and said that there had been a shooting at Ina and Oracle and to stay away from the area. She didn’t have any more information. Immediately I thought, “I hope the Giffords event hasn’t started yet and I hope she wasn’t there.” I had no idea what time her event was scheduled for, but naturally I was concerned. Our meeting ended and some of us were visiting when one of our state representatives came in with the bad news. He had been in contact with police and they had told him that Gabrielle Giffords was among those that had been shot, but he had no information on her condition or if the gunman had been caught.
Immediately some of us began to cry. Many of us have met Gabrielle Giffords, and some knew her pretty well. All of us were stunned. Some of us huddled together for a prayer for Giffords, the others who had been shot and their friends and families. Then I left for Pima County Republican Headquarters.
I had already planned to go there for the LD28 meeting scheduled for Noon. Now I was headed there to see if there was anything I could do in my role 1st Vice Chair of the Pima County GOP. We spent he next few hours making phone calls, answering phone calls, praying, crying at times, and watching the news unfold. We were devastated when we heard that Giffords had died. We were devastated to learn that a 9 year old girl had been killed. We were relieved to learn that Giffords was alive! More prayers for her recovery and for God to comfort those who lost family members. Those prayers continue.
It was an emotionally draining day and weekend. It’s an emotional start to the work week.
It is surreal to drive by Ina and Oracle and see the Walgreens that I frequent and the entire Safeway shopping center surrounded with yellow tape. Police cars guard every entrance with their lights flashing, and satellite trucks are parked across the street.
All eyes are on Tucson and all hearts cry out to God for healing and comfort even as we try to understand the evil that was carried out through a very disturbed young man. I have confidence that God will bring good out of this tragedy. It is His nature. I also know that He is close to the brokenhearted. His Word says so.
As I was pondering the new year, it occurred to me that my life has had a lot of self imposed mayhem in it. Everyone’s does, really. Ever since Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and mayhem entered the world. None of us can escape. There is none that searches after God, not one. Thanx to our fallen nature we fall short of God’s best. Also known as sin. You and I sin all kinds of different ways every day. We may mean well, but we just can’t hit the target. Then there are the times that we do what is wrong even when we know better.
Our Sins and transgressions have consequences. Mayhem. What’s worse is the people around us and their bad choices can bring mayhem into our lives! Gee. Thanx a lot. But, before we get all high minded, spiritual and self righteous about it, our sin and transgressions are bringing mayhem into the lives of people around us too. It really is unavoidable.