I can actually remember playing T-ball when I was a kid. I remember the feeling more than anything else.The feelings of excitement, anticipation, and finally disappointment. Let me explain. When my parents had first mentioned playing baseball, I was so excited. I had seen baseball on television. The athletic ability of the players and how they seemed to hit the ball with ease as it then glided through the air. I was in awe of how fast the pitcher could throw the ball, and how swift the outfielders were at catching most any ball the came to their area of the field. They always handled themselves in such a professional manner in winning and losing. And now my parents said I had the chance to play this very same game that these supermen I idolized did every week. My parents didnt have to ask twice, I was all in!
The first day of practice finally arrived. Stepping onto that baseball diamond for the first time sent sparks of electricity through my lanky preadolescent body. I was one of the big boys. A real baseball player. Everything looked perfectly fit to scale as it was on television. The field, the shape of the bases. but something odd caught my eye. Right where the batter stands to hit the ball, there was this goofy looking black pole thingy with a ball sitting on top. I then looked around at my teammates who were arriving. Some were picking their noses, some were rolling in the grass not paying attention to the coach, and some were crying for their parents. Crying? As Tom Hanks once said, “Theres no crying in baseball!” This made no sense. Where were the kids that were big boys and wanted to act like real baseball players? And I still didnt know what the goofy pole in the batters box was suppose to be! Coach finally explained that the pole was our tee which we would be hitting our ball off of.
I immediately thought, “No pitching?” This was not the picture I had in mind when mom and dad had ask if I wanted to play baseball. My teammates were not athletes, (and neither was I) they were more like the Romper Room Gang. I wasnt going to be pitched to, I had to hit the ball of off a rubber stick, and half the team was in tears fifteen minutes into the first practice! Add to this disappointment the fact that I couldnt catch a ball to save my life and I hit the goofy rubber pole with my bat more than I hit the ball sitting on top! I thought this was suppose to be easy. The guys on tv made it look easy! This was hard work and not what I had expected. I had this picture of athletic perfection in my mind that was shattered by an all around lack of athletic ability and a rubber stick called a tee. I wanted to just quit. But thankfully, my parents taught me perseverance and finished the season. And I played a few years of t ball leading into little league baseball, because I realized that you didnt start out being just like the pros, rather you had to grow into that mold through constant practice.
Isnt it odd that the simplest life lessons that make perfect sense to even a child, we become blind to in our adult years and end up acting like a seven year old who wants to quit tee ball because of unreasonable, impossible expectations were not met. I can’t tell you how many people Ive run into that will turn there noses up at the notion of Christianity. They mock it and make snide remakes. And the most prevalent criticism made towards the bride of Christ is this…..
“I dont believe in Christianity because they preach one thing and do another….they’re all a bunch of hypocrites!”
This is in part the churches fault. Not because we should all be perfect, but because at times, we as Christians expect others to be. Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. This would be akin to me walking onto the tee ball field as a seven year old and all the other snotty nosed, teary eyed kids looking down on me because I wasnt like Babe Ruth.
And this is partly a faulty expectation on the worlds part. Flipping the example, for the world to expect Christians to be perfect is just like me at seven telling these other kids they need to shape up and start knocking home runs out of the park. We are called as Christians to strive to be like Jesus, but we dont just automatically become like him by walking into a church. Thats what sanctification is all about. Growing in holiness. And this can be a bit frustrating and problematic, because no matter how hard we try, we’ll never meet the standards of Christ this side of Heaven. If we go into the Christian experience with expectations of everyone having it all together, and everything working in perfect harmony, we will be quickly disillusioned. We’re all a bunch of snotty nosed children, whining about things not going our way, just like on the tee ball field. Is the church full of hypocrites? Absolutely. And regrettably, Im one of them. But if we didnt have a fallen nature, then we’d have no need of a risen savior.
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:22-23.
This post is written more so to someone who is searching. Maybe you’ve been burned by a church. Maybe you’ve been disappointed and let down due to unrealistic expectations. Hear me when I say this in love. If this describes your experience, you will continue to jump from church to church and continue to be disappointed over and over, until you can come to the realization that church….is not about you. People, no matter how much they study their Bibles, will always let you down. People will always disappoint you. And people will always shatter your dreams of perfection. Because we are not perfect. And when we have the mindset that the world is about us, a catastrophic chain of events can transpire in our lives.
If we marry, eventually we will be let down by our spouse. And if its all about us, we seek to get out of that relationship in search of the perfect mate…..that does not exist. And so we end up carving out a resume of broken relationships and hold on to much heartache. If we look for the perfect job, and its all about us, we will be disappointed and unfulfilled in our career. And if church is about how people within the body of Christ measure up to your standards, there is not a church on this earth that will ever satisfy you. The first thing to realize in this life is that nothing is about you. Nothing is about me. Its all about King Jesus. Everything.
There is an every bigger misconception amongst many professing Christians that is the basis for the warning Jesus gave in Matthew 7:21. That is the question of, “Why do you think you are going to Heaven?” I never realized until recently how many people actually think that they are saved by the blood of the Lamb because they go to church and because, according to them, they are “good people.” The good people argument is used so much. “Im a good person, so why would God send me to Hell?” Thats the defense. Here is my question to those that would hang their salvation on being good……..
What is your standard for judging your goodness by?
Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
So not only does our sinful nature not measure up to Gods standards, but even my best good deeds are tainted and unacceptable to God without the sacrifice of Christ and knowing him personally in my life as my intercessor.
Someone may say, “Well Im faithful to my spouse and have never committed adultery!”
But Jesus said, ” “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28.
Some may say, “Well Ive never committed murder!”
But Jesus said, ““You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sisterwill be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”Matthew 5:21-22.
Have you ever called someone a fool? Ive called people much worse. And according to God, that infraction of the tounge is just as damnable as committing murder.
Have you ever told a lie? Even an innocent little while lie?
Jesus said, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.
Yesterday I wrote a blog regarding movies and how we should have discernment in what we entertain ourselves with. Whenever I bring up the topic of censoring what we watch for the sake of Christ, I get emails about how people think I am taking things too far. The response I typically get is…”Im a Christian and watching a movie doesnt mean I dont know God!”
No, watching a movie doesnt mean a person does not know God. But I believe if we truly know that nature of God, then there are some movies and entertainment that is blatantly obvious that God would not approve of, and in knowing God, we should be offended by. Take two movies that are very, very popular in the worlds eyes. Harry Potter and The Twilight series. These two movie franchises are all the rave in our world today. And Ive been told that these movies are just innocent entertainment and that God doesnt mind us watching them.
“‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. Do not practice divination or seek omens.” Leviticus 19:26.
Gods word says dont consume blood, and dont practice divination, or witchcraft. Twilight is all about a blood lusting vampire, and Harry Potter is about a kid who is into witchcraft. This verse sort of kills two birds with one stone. I could list many more verses from the old and new testament that echo this one verse, but this post would turn into a book.
“He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”Luke 16:15.
People today value entertainment very highly. Especially when it comes to movies and television. And right now, these witch and vampire movies are valued very highly. But look at what Jesus says about some things that man hold high in value….they are detestable in God’s sight.
“I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.” Psalm 101:3.
When I was a kid, I remember meeting Lou Ferrigno, who was (and still is) a bodybuilder who played the Incredible Hulk on television.I watched him on television every week. I knew all about him. I knew where he grew up, I had read about his home life, I knew when he began his bodybuilding career, and I knew how he eventually landed the role as The Incredible Hulk. Any statistic on Lou I could give you. But if you walked up to Lou and asked him if he knew me, he wouldnt have a clue who I was.
And I think there are many Christians who’s faith in Christ is just like this. They know statistics and facts about Jesus. They may be able to spout off a few Bible verses and hymns. They even go to church every Sunday. But they dont really know Jesus in a personal relationship, they just know about him. There is a difference between knowing Christ, and Christ knowing you intimately.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21.
Many people claim they are going to Heaven and that they know Jesus. Yet the choices they deliberately make (Hebrews 10:26) in life show very little regard for Christ. Many claim they love Jesus. What drives me absolutely crazy is country music. If you really listen to country music, its a theological train wreck. Country artist mention Jesus and loving Jesus in countless songs. But in the very next line of the song talk about passing a round of whiskey or cheating on a girlfriend. Really? A song is sung about how much you love Jesus, but then in the same song, sing about deliberately choosing to sin against God? Case in point, if we live in a nation that really knows God as we claim, then why do we keep making the same sinful lifestyle choices over and over. Because that is not the teachings of the God of the Bible.
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” 1 John 5:3.
Loving God is not defined as being a good faithful church member or reading your bible daily. According to God, love for him is shown through obedience to his word. So how can we discern what entertainment is of Satan in our world without knowing His word? How can we see the contradiction in popular songs today unless we know his word? How can we live our lives as pleasing to God without knowing his word? The Lord says in Psalm to seek Him with all your heart. I recall playing hide and go seek as a kid, and we would keep seeking those hiding all night if we had to in order to win. Seeking God isnt church attendance. Its a personal, daily chase and hunger to know him. To not just read his word, but to saturate in it. Its a hunger not just to memorize scripture, but to understand and apply His commands to our lives. And notice the scripture above when it says, “his commands are not burdensome.” Are you burdened by attempting to follow Gods commands? Or do you actually see them as Gods way of leading you into fullness of ultimate Joy?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10.
Jesus is saying, “Look, you are walking and breathing but you’re not alive!” In Christ, we find life!! Why would we ever want to be consumed with the fading trinkets and lures of this world that is perishing! All that are breathing have life. But only those in Christ have life more abundant and life to the full! Its in his commands we find true life and joy!
God doesnt make rules in marriage, finances, relationships, and worship to make us miserable! God designed marriage! He designed relationships, he designed every area of life! And he knows that if His commands are obeyed, they will all result in a life of joy! He knows your make up better than you do. If you actually think a sinful way of life will render better results for your life than following Christ, you prove that you dont know him.
“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”John 14:23.
Sadly, many will continue to live a shallow Christianity, which is really not Christianity, where they say they love Jesus, but live life on their own terms. They still watch the same sinful entertainment and still condone the same sinful lifestyle, all the while claiming forgiveness to live like the devil because they love a forgiving God. Yes God is forgiving. But if you really love him…if you really know him…you dont take advantage of his grace as a ticket to sin. Those are the people Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:21.
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46.
Even Jesus questions people like this. How much more clear could he have said it? If someone is not willing to live in obedience to Christ, and would rather find loop holes around following him, then why would they continue to claim him as Lord of their lives? He is not the Lord of their lives, they are the Lord of their lives! Jesus isnt a country song side kick to us as we drive through life with him in the passenger seat. When we give our lives to Christ, he’s to have it all! Nothing held back, every area of our lives in full and total submission to Christ!
My question is do you know Christ, or do you just know some things about him? Have all areas of your life been given over to his Lordship, or do you pick and choose according to what you want to do? Do you tend to blend in and chase after what is more popular in the worlds eyes, or do you live more like an alien to this world who’s not home yet? My hope for myself and every one who may stumble upon my many ramblings is that we would be all convicted to take God as seriously as the men and women of scripture. That we would not judge our salvation by a level of worldly goodness, but by being known by Christ. And that we all would live radically and sacrificially, putting worldly popularity behind in exchange for being mission minded. Its all about the proclamation of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Its all about the glorification of God in and through all things. Its not about our wants and desires. Its not about me. Its all about King Jesus.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; …” Psalm 121:1.