don’t call me a christian



[A Broken Image]

When I was a kid, my parents would take us down to the local beach. It was a small little place but we enjoyed going there from time to time. No one in my immediate family was a great swimmer nor were we enthusiastic about it either. But, at least three times during the summer, we would travel the 20 minutes it took to go down there and enjoy our day at the beach.

Since we were not big on swimming, we often found other ways of entertaining ourselves. My older brother and I would often build sandcastles. If you are a brother, then you know that you live in constant competition with your brother. I don’t know why that is but I know there is some unspoken law about that. That being said, my sandcastle always had to be bigger than his.

My brother, being older and wiser, would build his sandcastle much closer to where our parents would be relaxing, bathing in the sun. I, without fail, would build mine close to the waters edge. The sand was close enough to the water to be a little more muddy and as such, a bit more stable and so I could always out build him. My sandcastle was always bigger.

It is also without fail, my brother would warn me against not building so close to the water but I always ignored the advice. Then, after completion, I would mock his sandcastle and we would go for a quick swim. When we returned, my sandcastle was gone. The tide had come in just enough to wash it away and there was my brothers sandcastle, still standing tall.

I was, of course, devastated!

My beautiful creation was destroyed and my hard work was for nothing! That being said, I cannot begin to imagine how God felt when he walked through the garden, calling for the man, only to find his created beings hiding from his presence. They had fallen into sin. God’s creation, it seemed, to crash down, right before his eyes.

While I was growing up in the church, the christian world had its share of “shocks.” I still vaguely remember the suicide from a Christian musician artist and later two more christian artists who had engaged in an extra marital affair.

Here’s the thing, over the past month, I have read more “shocking news reports” than ever before! Here’s a small snap shot of what I have seen and read…
1] Mark Driscoll and Acts 29|
Mark Driscoll is the lead founder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church and also began a church planting network, Acts 29 several years ago. Over the past few years, a high number of interns and elders have left Mars Hill citing Driscoll’s leadership as a concern. Driscoll has been flagged for plagiarism, leadership abuse and mishandling church finances.
Due to the concerns, Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church have been removed from the Acts 29 Network and Driscoll has since stepped down while an internal investigation is being conducted into the reports concerning him.

2] Vicky Beeching|
Vicky Beeching is a well known and well established worship leader, She has come out as being a lesbian. She has gone on record to inform the Christian world that she believes God loves her the way she is. This of course has led many to question whether or not to support any of her ministry, present or past.

3] Victoria Osteen|
The co-pastor and wife of Joel Osteen has made the announcement that when we go to church and worship God we should do it for ourselves. If taken at face value, it is a message of entitlement and happiness.

As a writer/blogger, I have already come across the numerous blogs that have been written about ALL of these issues. If, for any reason, you think this blog is going to launch into a debate about these people, move on.

I’ve come to find that when Christian leaders say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing, there comes a flood of responses. This leads to the question, how does God feel when his children fall and what should our response be?

[Should We Call Christians out?]

If we believe it is right to call out leaders for moral failures or sharing a “watered down gospel” then our theology is built around the idea that we need to “guard the truth” and “exposing the darkness.” (1 Tim. 6:20)

If we believe we don’t have that right, our theology is often built around “Not judging others.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

A biblical approach is outlined in the gospel of Matthew 18:15-17
Go to the person IN PRIVATE!
If they are unrepentant, take the matter to them again with 2-3 witnesses.
If they continue to be unrepentant, bring the matter to the church.
If they are still unrepentant, remove them from the body and treat them as unbelievers.

Now here is the point, we do have the right to judge other believers. However, I wonder how many of us have actually personally met Joel Osteen and or Mark Driscoll and discussed these matters with them. If you are not one of those people who have done this, then you’re ignoring the Scriptures call, which could place you yourself in the same category as a “false teacher.”

Guarding the truth should occur within the confines of your own church and congregation as these matters arise. The disciples and early church fathers dealt with false teachings and false teachers as they arose.

Some people will call out Christian leaders left and right for preaching a “watered down gospel.” I’m not really sure what that means because, let’s be real, there is only ONE GOSPEL. If you can water down the gospel then its not the gospel so that should tell you right away that you should stop calling it a watered down anything.

Defending the truth does not mean we start with false teachings; rather the Gospel of Jesus is the starting point!

[Don’t Call Me A Christian}

As believers, we can easily get wrapped up in our own theology and allow our theology to be our starting point and our guide for life. Make no mistake-what you and i believe about God will ultimately determine how our lives are lived. How we respond to God is how we will respond to others!

The way we respond to God is how we will respond to people!

It is, without a doubt, a touchy and tricky topic when dealing with moral failures of leaders and false teachings. As Christians, we are representing Christ at all times. With that in mind, let’s remember these two things…

Who’s Getting the Glory?
Philippians 1:15-18|
“It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me.But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.”

Paul knew in his heart some preachers and teachers were sharing the gospel for false purposes. Some of them liked the idea of exerting authority over people and knew that authority allowed them the opportunity to manipulate them. Others saw the gospel as a way to become financially stable because they could appeal to the commands of tithing. What Paul saw in the midst of this turmoil was Jesus’ name being preached and through that, the Spirit’s work of regeneration was changing lives.

Follow the Leader.
John 21:20-22
“Peter turned around and saw behind him the disciple Jesus loved…Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

A quick context lesson is this-Jesus reinstated Peter following his denials of Christ. Peter was then called to care and feed the flock of Christ and then Christ, in essence, informed Peter he would die a terrible death. Peter got fixated on John (the disciple Jesus loved) and asked, what about him? Or we could say, “Is it fair for me to die and not John?”

Jesus redirected Peter’s attention. Don’t worry about him, don’t worry about the plans I have for others; you need to do one thing, follow me. As Christians that is our call-to follow Jesus.

Jesus is in the midst of his people, redeeming, restoring and transforming us into his own image.

don’t call me a christian| written by mike monica


Check out these resources|

8 Things Christians Should Be Known For
Was Victoria Osteen Really That Off Base?


the day i visited jesus at the hospital

I hate going to the hospital. Let me say that again; I hate going to the hospital! I took the time to underline the word, hate, because it’s a point I want to emphasize. You see, hospitals are not something I enjoy. In fact, I am not even sure why people work at hospitals. There’s blood and sickness all over that place. Sure, that’s where babies are born too and that’s part of miracle of life but still.

I understand some people love being doctors and nurses and they love being able to “heal” people or “bandage” them up but it’s not something I enjoy. I try my hardest to not be in the hospital. I do my absolute best to be there once a year for my yearly check-up.

Well I was at the hospital this past weekend. I spent a good portion of my Saturday there as well. You see, a friend of mine wasn’t doing well and I wanted to visit. I already had plans set up for the late morning so I thought I would swing by, pop in, say hello and be on my way. I planned for a short visit; probably about an hour or so and then I would be on my way. Besides, I had other things to do like shop for more clothing and get groceries.

As I was traveling towards the hospital, I realized that I wasn’t simply visiting a friend but that I was also visiting Jesus. You see, the Word of God is quite clear on this matter as Jesus spoke of this.

Matthew 25:31-40|

“But when the Son of Mancomes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nationswill be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’

So, I want to share a small story about the day I visited Jesus in the hospital. I don’t want to share this for any praise of man or to make myself look as if I am better than anyone else because I am not! I want us all to consider the implications of seeing Jesus in those around us.

Jesus really blew my mind the day I went to the hospital. While I had initially planned for a short visit, Jesus asked how long I was going to stay. I responded with my own question and asked, “How long would you like me to stay?” Jesus said “I want you to stay for a while.” So I went ahead and texted my friend and said I wasn’t going to be able to meet up and we could reschedule. My friend was cool with that.

First off, Jesus was excited to see me as evident with a huge smile that overtook his face, after he was finished watching Dora the Explorer (one of his favorite TV shows).

Secondly, Jesus loves bacon and watermelon for breakfast. An odd combination perhaps but hey, he enjoyed it!

Third, Jesus loved talking and visiting with me. You’d think that someone who already knows everything about you would be more interested in just chilling out maybe watching TV or something but quite the contrary, Jesus engaged in conversation with me!

Forth, Jesus hates getting blood work done! Jesus doesn’t like needles and so I guess he and I are a lot alike in that manner.

Fifth, Jesus really enjoys being pulled in the red wagons throughout the hospital and really loved when I ran as fast as I could down the hallways. I probably shouldn’t be doing that but oh well. I wasn’t caught!

Sixth, Jesus was quite interested in a painting I did. When I revealed my artwork, Jesus was quite surprised. You see, I had painted a picture earlier in the week and took a picture of it. The painting was actually just a white piece of paper with paint that said, “This is my painting. Pretty cool huh?”

Jesus looked at me kind of funny and said, “Words are your painting?” That’s a pretty deep statement too since my work of art is done through my blogs and other writings. Jesus is pretty smart I guess.

As the day went on, I realized I had to get going. I still had a few things to get accomplished so I told Jesus I needed to get going. Jesus looked kind of sad in that moment and said, “I don’t want you to go. But I hope you come back.”

Jesus doesn’t want us to leave him. Not while he’s not feeling well in the hospital or sick. He doesn’t want us to leave when he’s in prison. He really appreciates the meals we cook for him because he hasn’t eaten in days. He thanks those of you who gave him a place to stay and a blanket to keep him warm.


The day I visited Jesus at the hospital| Written by Mike Monica

All Scriptures taken from the New International Version (1984)

psa (why did Jesus have to die?)

The following is a guest post from Trevor Nashleans.


[This post is in defense of the biblical doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement.  It is written as a response to specific misconceptions about what Jesus accomplished on the cross. This post is exceedingly long and it is intended to be for the sake of a thorough defense of an important doctrine. Be advised.]

The cross and resurrection are the culmination of Christ’s ministry.  It was here that Jesus would die for the sins of the world. (1 John 2:2; John 1:29)   It was here that sin and death would be defeated.  (1 Corinthians 15:56-57; 1 Corinthians 15:26) It was here that the Lord would have his victory over Satan and hell. (1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelations 12:11; Revelation 20:13-14; Revelation 20:6)   It was here that sins would be forgiven and those who believe would be made right with God. (Hebrews 8-10)

[Because of our sins, for our Benefit]

On this topic Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” To die for our sins means to die because of our sins.  Elsewhere Paul says, “for our sake [God] made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Here Paul indicates that Jesus not only died because of our sins, he also died for our benefit.  Peter echoes this in 1 Peter 3:18 when he says “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”

This exchange is known as penal substitutionary atonement; penal meaning penalty, substitutionary meaning in our place because of our sins and atonement meaning to make those who believe right with God. In other words Jesus died on the cross in our place to take the penalty we deserve for our sins so that those who believe in him can be made right with God.

[The Wrath of God]

The Bible clearly states in both the Old and New Testaments that God’s wrath is against those who do evil.  God’s wrath is his just anger against sinners. We see this in the passages below as well as many others:

1) Psalm 78:21-22: “Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, because they did not believe in God and trust in his saving power.”

2) Ezekiel 25:17: The Lord said, “I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I lay my vengeance upon them.”

3) Nahum 1:2: “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.”

4) Romans 12:18: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

5) Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

6) Revelation 19:21: “He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”

Basically, God is loving, gracious and kind. He is slow to anger, wanting all to turn from sin and be saved, but he will not withhold his wrath from those who continually refuse his loving kindness. (2 Peter 3:9; Exodus 34:6-7)

[All Have Sinned]

Scripture is also clear when it states that all people have sinned against God and face his wrath.

1) Romans 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

2) 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from[a] the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might”

3) Romans 3:10-12, 23: “None is righteous, no, not one; no on understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless.  no one does good, not even one… For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

4) 2 Peter 2:9: “Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment”

Jesus, therefore, substituted himself for sinners at the cross.  He would die so that we could live.  He would be condemned so that we could be forgiven.  He would absorb the wrath of God so that those who believe could instead receive the mercy of God.

[A Necessary Substitute]

This is called propitiation, which means to appease or deal with a persons anger by diverting it to someone or something other than the person who deserves it. In other words, the offense is actually dealt with by someone or something other than the person who committed the offense, it’s not just overlooked. The following passages illustrate this clearly:

1) 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10: “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven,whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

2) Romans 5:9: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

3) Romans 3:23-25:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift,through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

4) 1 John 2:2: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Scripture is clear: all people are sinners who deserve the wrath of God.  God, in his kindness and love, sent Jesus to the cross as our substitute to absorb the wrath of God so that those who believe could instead receive his love.  God is holy.  It would be unjust for him to simply overlook our offenses.  The cross is where God can execute justice against sin, while simultaneously showing mercy to sinners.

[Naysayers and False Teachers]

At this point, many progressive Bible teachers speak out against the truth of God’s Word.  These are the men who would rather tell the gospel as they’d like for it to be than as it actually is. (2 Peter 3:14-18) Their arguments are as follows:

1) Modern Bible translations have misinterpreted the word propitiation used in places like 1 John 2:2, Romans 3:25 and 1 John 4:10.  They argue that the word translated as propitiation doesn’t actually mean to “pacify wrath,” but that it should be translated as expiation which means to “remove sin.”  The truth is that Jesus both pacifies wrath and removing sin.

Let’s assume however that you’re smarter than I because you know Greek and Hebrew (or can quote the first website that agrees with your opinion) and that the word for propitiation is incorrectly translated.  There are other Scriptures that do not use the word propitiation and still communicate that Jesus saves us from the wrath of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:10, for example, states that “Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come.” Likewise, Romans 5:9 clearly states that we are “saved from the wrath of God by [Jesus].” Finally, John 3:36 explicitly says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Scripture clearly and emphatically teaches that  Jesus saves from God’s wrath.

2) The second argument against Jesus’ substitutionary work is that Jesus never stated that he died to save sinners from God’s wrath.  This is simply not true. In John 3:16-17 Jesus himself says that “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  Jesus is referring to a person perishing because they are condemned, but condemned to where?  The answer is hell, the place of God’s wrath as we’ve already seen in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. At the cross Jesus was condemned so that those who believe wouldn’t have to be.

Furthermore, in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7), Jesus states that it is better to enter life maimed than it is to be thrown into hell for one’s sin. (Matthew 5:27-30)  If a person is thrown into hell because of his sins, then for Jesus to save a person from his sins means that Jesus has saved him from God’s wrath in hell.

Lastly, John the Baptist stated that Jesus died to take away the wrath of God (John 3:36). Jesus had personal interaction with John and many of John’s disciples became Jesus’ disciples. (John 1:35-37) Surely the Lord would have heard of John’s teaching, yet no where in Scripture does Jesus refute the teaching that he is to die for our sins to take the wrath of God.  If it were not true, Jesus would have most certainly corrected the man he regarded so highly. (Matthew 11:11)

3) Those who disagree with the doctrine of propitiation also argue that this stance does not fit with the rest of the New Testament.  Hogwash.  Jesus said at least three times that he came to fulfill the Scriptures (Matthew 26:54, 56; Luke 24:27)   and Paul echoes Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:3.  The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. If Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures, that means that he fulfilled the Old Covenant with it’s laws, rights, rituals, practices, traditions, customs and requirements.

Leviticus 16 illustrates penal substitution when it describes the responsibility of the high priest to slaughter animals as a substitute, or sacrifice, for the sins of the people.  The animal would die, so that the people could live.  The animal would be condemned, so that the people could be forgiven.  If Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures, then he fulfilled this requirement by becoming the substitute for us, which is also confirmed in Hebrews 5-10.

This would also mean that Jesus fulfilled the Passover in which the death angel, executing God’s judgment and wrath against Pharaoh’s rebellion, passed over the homes of those who had the blood of a Lamb painted over their doorposts.  (Exodus 12:12-13) In Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus indicates that his blood is the blood of the covenant, indicating that he is the Passover Lamb, through whom the wrath of God passes over those who believe.

4) One final argument that is commonly made is that penal substitutionary atonement (propitiation) is too judicial.  It pits God the Father against Jesus the Son.  Those who make this argument must have removed passages like Romans 2:1-52 Corinthians 5:10, Acts 17:31 and Revelation 20:12 from their Bibles.  These passages clearly teach that we will all stand before the judgment seat of God to be judged for our sins.  You can’t get much more judicial than that.

If we are to be judged for our sins, then Jesus had to have died to take that judgment.  If he didn’t, then we have no hope but to face the judgment ourselves.  God the Father positioned himself against Jesus the Son on the cross so that he would no longer have to position himself against ill-deserving sinners, which is why 1 John 1:9 calls Jesus our advocate.

An advocate is someone who defends another person in a court of law.  Again, very judicial. How does Jesus defend us in God’s court? By taking the judgment of God upon himself so that he can rightfully defend us at our own judgment. Christ’s judgment is our restoration and without Christ’s judgment there can be no restoration. God is not Judge or Father he is both Judge and Father.

[A Glorious Conclusion]

Indeed, at the cross God’s wrath is most certainly satisfied.  Jesus absorbed it so we wouldn’t have to.  What then of God’s love? Is he a cold, begrudging deity?  By no means. 1 John 4:10 tells us that “in this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Other translations say “atoning sacrifice” which is another way of saying “to make right with one through the substitutionary death of another.” In fact the dictionary definition for sacrifice is “the offering of an animal, plant or human life or of some material possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage.”

The breath-taking reality is this: God would rather pour his wrath out on his own Son than to see ill-deserving sinners get the penalty they deserve. You cannot find a better personification of love than that.  Jesus willingly took the punishment you deserve for your wrongs against God so that you could be forgiven.  That’s love.  God the Father chose to punish his Son for your sins so that he could adopt you as his child.  That’s love.

If the question is whether or not the cross is God’s love magnified or his wrath satisfied, then the answer is that the cross is God’s love magnified through his wrath satisfied.  It is at the cross that love and justice meet.  A holy God is vindicated and ill-deserving sinners are loved far beyond what their sins deserve.

Please take some time and check out Trevor’s blog @

guest post| 7 things i do that upset Jesus

[The following is a guest post from Landon DeCrastos]


In today’s Christian subculture it is trendy to spend a lot of time pointing out what “Christianity” is doing wrong. Many Christ followers get whipped into a lather when they start talking about “religion” and how our faith life should reject this concept and a relationship should be embraced instead. I get it…God is looking for a relationship not a religion…Christians constantly mess up and make the Kingdom look like a joke, but while I could sit here all day and talk about what everyone else is doing wrong I get uncomfortable when I think about the ways I make Jesus upset. It is hard to admit, but it may speak to others.

Today, I want to talk about 7 things I do that make Jesus upset:

1. I incorrectly define “blessing”-Too often, when I think about the concept of blessing I get it mixed up with being pampered by God. Blessing, in my experience, has more to do with enjoying God’s favor…not collecting more possessions and marinating in temporary happiness. Remember, even though we do not like to admit it, Job was blessed. Not because he got his stuff back at the end of the Old Testament story, but because of his closeness with the Father.

2. I label too many things “legalism”- When I am confronted with a Biblical truth that puts me in my place or rebukes a pattern of behavior; it makes me uncomfortable. I want to live my life the way I feel is right, and often when approached in this way I claim that the information being presented is legalistic. I would rather stick with the way I think about things or react to situations and convince myself that Jesus is still happy with me despite my disobedience to Biblical truth.

3.  I put down the Body of Christ- I always post statuses on Facebook that talk about how the average Christian misses the mark. I have to remember that each believer is a sibling…and just as valuable to the Kingdom as I am.

4. I trust God only with my surplus- It is easy to give God praise when there is money in my bank account. It is also easy to trust Him when I have extra. God desires that I step out without a guarantee that my foot will hit pavement. The Lord, who is perfect in love, knows what I need, and has historically always provided.

5.  I spend too much time talking to God- Much of my prayer time consists of me asking for things, or different circumstances. I think that God has more to say to me than I allow Him.

6. I study His word instead of living it- God’s commands are not meant to be merely memorized, but obeyed. Enough said here.

7. I don’t thank God enough for my family- My biggest support system consists of my wife, children, parents (and in laws), grandparents and siblings (including sister in law). I always yearn for encouragement, but it seems to always come for free with them.

I am so glad that grace is a real thing. Jesus puts up with so much that I do.

-Landon DeCrastos

Please check out Landon’s Blog @

Please check out his church and pray for them too as they share the Gospel!



why have you forsaken me?

Loneliness is a bitter pill to swallow. Hard times are a reality we endure. Emptiness comes from a broken world which is seeking to find an answer but fails to believe in truth. What is worse is that God doesn’t make sense sometimes. God fails to show up in the way we want him to.

I’ve felt alone at so many points in my life. So many times I have felt alone in the crowd, wondering what my purpose is, wondering why I even exist and if I even make a difference. Who will miss me if I’m gone anyway? Am I really even making an impact?

With so many  questions flowing through my mind, I always come to the same place-have I simply been forsaken by God? Has the Lord forgotten about me? In my waiting I find my patience is fading.

The Psalmist echoed in Psalm 88:3-4, 5-6 & 18,

“For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man who has no strength left…I am forgotten, cut off from your care. You have thrown me into the lowliest pit; into the darkest depths…You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my only friend.”

In despair I cry out, wondering where God is sometimes. In my emptiness I search for God but often I cannot find him. Many times I begin searching my heart, looking for the sins that I have been or continue to commit and attribute my loneliness to that.

In my attempt to become a better Christian, I engage sin, fight against it, only to fall short again and again. In my fight against my flesh and in the midst of all the battles I lose, I fall face down and cry out, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Someone else, someone who is greater than I am spoke those exact words too. While these words are first recorded by the Psalmist, they were spoken by the Son of the Living God, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 27:46 “At about three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have your abandoned me?”

Was Jesus forsaken by God on the cross? I was told that countless times as I grew up in the church. I heard the story, again and again, that God turned away from Jesus as he became sin for us.

Of course, there’s more to the story. And the truth is Jesus was not forsaken by God.

When Jesus spoke those words, he was reciting Psalm 22:1, which was a prophetic psalm written by David. Psalm 22:1 reads, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?”

Jesus, while on the cross, was facing the worst punishment a person could endure. During the final twelve hours of his life, Jesus endured the worst treatment of any human being. He was betrayed by a friend (Judas), he was abandoned by all of his disciples, he was denied (Peter), he was tried, convicted, beaten with a whip, stripped of his clothing, had a crown made out of thorns placed upon his head, and he was crucified among two thieves.

Jesus felt pain, abandonment, loss, betrayal, but was he forsaken? No, he was not forsaken. We read further on in Psalm 22:24, “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.”

God wasn’t forsaking Jesus on the cross; he was allowing him to suffer. God was pleased to crush his own Son for the sake of our sins. Jesus felt the sting of separation, he felt the pain of abandonment, and he felt the emptiness with the feeling of being forsaken but he was not.

I am reminded that in this life, which is scarred by sin, I often feel the weight of burdens and I feel alone and empty. There are times I wonder if I will make it through life and I wonder if I have any value whatsoever. There are times when I feel abandoned that I am reminded of this: Jesus felt forsaken.

There are times in the midst of loneliness when Jesus comes in, puts his arm around me and says, “I know how you feel. I’ve felt the same way before.”

Jesus was not forsaken and neither are we.


All Scriptures Taken from New Living Translation via

  1. Psalm 88


  1. Matthew 27:46


  1. Psalm 22:1


  1. Psalm 22:24

hey parents, can I have your attention?

A number of years ago, I was invited by my best friend and his wife to help watch their newborn son. I remember the conversation well because I remember just how crazy I thought my friend was for asking me to do such a thing. Here’s a little bit of background information for you…

I had been on a downward spiral for quite some time. I was depressed, negative about everything, I had a long history of not having a job even though I currently held one at the time of the conversation and had been there for about a year but above all, I was running from God and I knew it.

My best friend knew it too. He knew I was and had been struggling with my faith for a while. I brought to him my concerns-I had no experience with children whatsoever, I lived in constant fear of doing something wrong and all the other hang ups us guys get around young children. In a word, I was insecure. For some reason though, my best friend believed in me.

After I thought about it for a week or two, I agreed to help them out. At first,it was my best friend and myself watching Ryan with a small time span of where I was alone with him waiting for his mom to get home. They had jobs that left their son alone but not long and I was okay with that.

As time went on though, I began watching him more and more on my own. I started learning the hands on aspects of the job. I started to feed him (which of course I hated because it took forever); I started changing his diapers and everything else that comes with watching a child. In addition to watching him, I worked a part time job (about 27 hours a week) and I was a full time school (online) student. That made it so I had to juggle my time with him so I would allow him to do things while I concentrated on reading my textbooks and writing endless reports.

So, needless to say, I had a full plate. While I don’t like to brag about myself, I had a pretty good ability at time management. I knew what I could handle and what I couldn’t. I learned early on to say “No” to a lot of things, even if I could thrive in doing them.

While I worked in the retail industry, my schedule ran from Tuesday to Saturday. Sunday’s were church and I was heavily involved there in a number of ministries which left Monday to be my day off. For a short while, I used Mondays to “get ahead” in reading my textbooks and writing assignments for school.

It wasn’t much longer that I realized that young children need a role model, a friend, and someone to be there for them. So I decided to use my Monday’s as my real day off. Since I didn’t work that day and I knew the amount of assignments I had for school and I knew I could accomplish them, i made the decision that Monday was my “sabbath, my day of rest. Monday was a day for Ryan and myself, to do things together because the rest of the week I had to concentrate.

I tried to focus on that for as long as I could too. We played together quite a bit and during the times it was nice outside, we would go to the park, where he could use the playground or we would jump on our trampoline. During the winter months, we went out behind the house and he would sled down the hill while I watched in absolute terror because I thought he was going to crash into a tree. Other times, we would just watch a movie together like Monsters Inc. or Over the Hedge. Sometimes we went to the store just to get ice cream and other times we just would go out for car rides.

Here’s my point-my priorities were never in the right place until I rearranged them so Ryan had my undivided attention. School work was important but studying theology and pursuing a degree isn’t as important as watching Sponge-Bob. Even the Bible says there is a time and place for everything. Sure, I could have studied and gotten ahead and quite possibly graduated earlier and reduced the amount of student loans that are due. But if I did things that way, I would have given up what God had given me, an opportunity to be there for a young child who needs attention, who needs someone to look up to and needs someone to just be a kid with.

That being said, his parents are great parents. They are world class parents and he is blessed beyond measure to have them as parents. They haven’t failed him in any way. I was in a place where I could watch him from a distance and let him do his own thing while I did my own thing or, I could sacrifice what I wanted to do for a brief period of time, invest in the life of someone else and allow what needed to be accomplished on my watch work itself out. I chose the latter.

So hey parents, can I have your attention?

You’ve probably got a job (maybe more), you’ve got bills to pay and you’ve got to have your alone time. I get that-we all have priorities. But it’s important for your kid(s) to have someone to be there for them. They need someone to be there as a friend, a role model and someone to care for them. Children need their parents.

So, play with your kids, have fun with them. Do something with them that allows them to know you are there for them. Take them out to eat, take them to the park, read a story to them or sing to them. Above all else, tell them and show them you love them.

hello, my name is God


SermonGraphic_MyNameHello, my name is God; it’s nice to meet you. Now I know that’s kind of a crazy way to start a blog. But, truth be told, I can be a little crazy. Sure, I’ve introduced myself many times by my birth name but today I am introducing myself as God.

There’s a reason for that of course.

1 John 4:17 reads,

“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” (NLT)

Let’s focus on that last part-“we live like Jesus here in this world.”

The NIV reads, “In this world we are like Jesus.” And

The HCSB reads, “For we are as He is in this world.”

That’s just CRAZY!!!

So, here’s a story I want to share with you…

As some (if not most of you) know I live in New England. We are known for our snow. We have lots of it. Some of us hate it, including myself. This past week, we had a major storm approaching us. We just got over a major storm and thank God we had a few days in between to prepare ourselves.

It started on Thursday and it got progressively worse as the day went on. I had an early release from work that day, followed by a snow day on Friday. Friday morning I had to move my car in order for the drive way to be snow plowed. It took a lot of shoveling, getting stuck and shoveling some more until I was able to get the vehicle out of the way.

(Note to self…stop buying cars that don’t do well in the snow)

While I was outside taking care of all of this, I noticed the neighbors across the road were doing the same thing. But, what’s more is I heard their voices getting louder and louder and it turns out that while the parents were shoveling the driveway, making it possible to move their cars so they could go to work. Their son, stood on front porch yelling at them.

Now I cannot tell you why the argument started, what it was about nor can I share what was being said because I really don’t know. All I knew was that the son repeatedly used the “F word” again and again and again.

Finally, after about ten minutes of back and forth bickering, the son  got into his car and drove off.

This is one of those times where we could easily throw out that, “What would Jesus do” things here. We could argue against the son being disrespectful towards his parents and failure to “honor them.” I personally could have gone over and defused the argument (I have served as a Security Forces member in the USAF) so I know how to handle those kinds of situations. Another action would be for me to simply walk over and help my neighbors with shoveling, not saying a word. Just between you and me, the final thought was the only thought that ran through my mind during the course of the argument.

Of course, I had the pressing issue of my car to move and the son left, so I returned to removing my car. Yet, as I returned to my work, I couldn’t help but think, “How have I treated my neighbors?” “Have I shown them the love of God through my actions?”

[We Are Jesus to the World]

I think it would serve us well if we simply replaced “What would Jesus do” with “What am I doing?” The reason I suggest this is because the Scripture already declares that we are like Jesus. We are not becoming like him because of our behavior or our actions but when we abide in the love of God. Though the sheer love and grace of God, we are being transformed and being made complete.

This begs the question, how have I been treating those around me, especially my neighbors? Have I been Jesus to them the entire time they have known me or do I reflect Jesus only when it is convenient? Is being Jesus to the world a part time gig or a lifestyle?

Those around us should see a difference in us and that difference is that Jesus, the Savior of the world, lives in us and we live in him.

[We Are Jesus to the Church]

Another popular saying is this: “We are not called to be like other Christians, we are called to be like Chris.” It sounds great but the truth is, that’s rather unbiblical. We should be like other Christians.

The starting point for every believer is to STRIVE to be like Jesus. Being like Jesus is the call of the gospel…

we should strive to live like he did (1 John 2:6)

we should strive to have the same attitude he had. (Phil. 2:1-11)

we should strive to be kingdom focused (Col. 3:1-25)

we should strive to live surrendered to God (Rom 12:1-2)

While Jesus is always the focus, I believe we should be like other believers as well. Here’s three quick points on that matter…

1. Paul writes the the church in Corinth, “…follow my example as I follow Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul was calling other believers to act like him because he had the confidence that he was “like Jesus.”

2. In John 17:21, Jesus prayed for unity among other believer and through that unity, the world would actually come to believe in Christ. Unity is vital because the message we live is reflected in our unity.

4. In John 13:34-35, Jesus calls us to love each other as he has loved us. Again, Christ is the example, but we are to live and operate in grace towards one another. In loving each other, we reveal to the world that our identity is in Christ.

While it is true that many believers act in a way that is contrary to the Word of God, and our example is Christ, believers are responsible for their own spiritual development. When you act in a way that is not aligned with how God calls you to live, you bring about disunity in the body. “If I allow any turning away from God in my private life, everyone around me suffers.” -Ozwald Chambers

[We are the Fifth Gospel]

There are four gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We are the fifth gospel to everyone else. Our lives are the testimonies of God’s grace which rescues, transforms and empowers us to live for Christ and to live in Christ.

We are to let our light shine-so the world will see Christ and so the church is encouraged. We need to let Christ be our first example and our mentors, leaders, pastors, teachers, and others solidify Christ’s way of life. We need to love one another and operate in grace.

How are you being Jesus to the world around you?

Scripture References

1 John 4:17 (NLT Version)

1 John 4:17 (NIV Version)

1 John 4:17 (HCSB Version)