Billboard Theology

Traveling again.

A favorite thing, cleanses the emotional & spiritual palette plus provides connection with family, friends, and animals across the country.

Saw a billboard I’ve read many times before. Shook my head again at its incomplete message.

Wondered about how some do church the same way.

Billboard asks “Does advertising work?”, then claims “Just did!”

As if reading a message really means it ‘worked’.

Traveling hundreds of thousands of road miles over the years means my mind has taken in thousands of messages.

Yet, can only remember one that sparked a response, a visit to the place being advertised. Effectiveness percentage is somewhere in the 0.0001 range.

Truthfully, not very successful.

 

Yet….how many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people can recite John 3:16? Tell the Christmas Story? Recant the message of Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

Now, compare that to how many have a true, life-giving relationship with the Author of the stories. How many lives truly mirror the Rabbi, of Whom they claim to be a disciple?

Dare to dig deeper.

How much of our ‘church experience’ is geared toward remembering catchy phrases, song lyrics, saying “I was there!” for a certain event….

….compared to honestly evaluating our 24/7 lives by the measuring stick of the life of Jesus?

If true religion is to ‘care for the widows and orphans in their need, and keep oneself unspotted from the world’, how much of our religion is true?

If what He requires of us is to ‘act justly, love mercy, walk humbly….’, how many of us are doing what He requires?

If they will know we belong to Jesus because of our love,  if His high priestly prayer was for us to be “one”, as He and His Father (and ours) are one, is the world really seeing something that works?

Or are we feeding them cheap billboard theology, that can ‘parrot’ the principles, yet refuses to live lives that are changed by the Word?

Does advertising work? Sometimes.

Not nearly as much as truly being transformed by the power of Emmanuel, God with us, living lives that truly mirror the One we say is our Lord.

He IS Lord, whether we serve Him or not.

How we live reveals if He truly is Lord of our lives, or if we are parrots spouting billboard theology that simply clutters the landscape of life.

 

 

 

 

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Grace For The Broken

 

He was in a position of authority, of power and influence.

 

He abused that authority to receive sexual gratification from an innocent woman.

 

He tried to cover up his sin, first swearing others to silence. Later, after being confronted face-to-face with his error, he chose repentance.

 

Many didn’t understand his season of brokenness, nor how quickly he chose to go ‘back to work’ after another season of prayer.  God, however, knew his heart….and considered him a man after His own heart.

 

He was David. Shepherd boy, adulterer, murderer, King.

 

A radical religious extremist spent much of his adult life persecuting, torturing, killing followers of Jesus. A terrorist to lead all terrorists, religious radical to lead all radicals. Feared so much that even the strongest men of faith in his town dared not confront him. Then Jesus pierced his heart and soul with Holy Truth, righteous fire, divine inspiration.

 

He was Saul, turned Paul, who became one of history’s strongest teachers of doctrine, life, and faith. By his own admission, he continued to have a ‘thorn in the flesh’ that was a messenger of satan sent to torment him greatly, even while he taught on living a holy life. He knew full well how much he depended on God’s great grace to continue serving his Lord.

 

And there’s the impulsive, hot-headed one who was so full of himself, he had the audacity to rebuke Jesus, prompting Jesus to say his actions were offensive and the work of satan. (Matthew 16:21-23) He made vows to be faithful even unto death, yet cowered in fear less than 24 hours later, denying his faith and his Lord with the language of a lost and angry man.

 

Yet God, in His great mercy, restored Peter and commissioned him to a critical position in the ministry of the early Church. (John 21:15-19)

 

Scripture is filled with stories of broken, sinful people whom God chose to love, restore, and use greatly for His Kingdom. History records hundreds of flawed vessels who were given Holy Spirit power to teach, inspire, and spark revivals.

 

What if we took the most vehement, angry, sin-filled moment of your life, and published it on the internet? Had it covered by national news services? Allowed those whom you have hurt the most, write what you had done to them…..so everyone could see? How many of you, of us, would still be in our ministry positions? Or how many of us would be removed because we were now a liability to the organizations where we serve?

 

We must have high standards of accountability.

We must enforce boundaries, guidelines, safeguards of life & behavior.

We must speak up for those who have been hurt, violated, victimized so they can find healing.

 

We must also refuse to use phrases like “they should never do ministry again”.   If they refuse to repent, refuse to receive discipline, refuse to change their ways, then yes….they disqualify themselves from being used by God for ministry.

 

As ministry leaders, we must pave the way for repentance, reconciliation, and restoration. It’s the Scriptural way.

 

It’s the Jesus way.

 

Because Jesus uses the broken to accomplish His Holy work.

 

Broken people like me.

 

And like you.

 

 

Christ followers, don’t forget the grace needed to rescue you.

 

It’s that same grace that is available to absolutely every single person on the face of the earth.

 

Our God has grace for the broken, pours out forgiveness on the fallen, restores the repentant to positions of power and influence in His Kingdom.

 

Let it be said of us as well.

 

 


Useless Diagnosis

 

Imagine a medical team.

Asking questions, running tests.

Using the best information and technology to determine the root cause of an illness.

An answer is given, clarifying the sickness.

 

Then, the medical team walks away.

No action plan, no remedy, no healing.

 

While diagnosis of the core issue is critical, diagnosis without action is useless.

 

Now imagine your own prayers.

 

Seeking to understand, pleading for answers.

And the Father, through His Word, His Spirit, His people provides a diagnosis.

 

“Grappling with anger and bitterness? Choose to forgive.”

“Struggling financially? Tithe, and make wise financial choices.”

“Feeling far from God? Choose to spend time in the Word daily, and pray often.”

“Seeking purpose? Share the Gospel. Feed the hungry. Shelter the homeless. Visit the prisoners”

“Identify sin in your actions? Repent. For real, repent and turn from those actions.”

Diagnosis without action is useless.

In fact, it can become more dangerous if we ignore what we’ve been shown.

 

Seek deep enough to discover the heart of the issue.

Stop long enough to begin the healing process.

Step forward different, forgiven, healed.


If You Could See

 

If you could see

Behind the scenes

Into the private corners of a life fully committed

To a Holy calling in an unholy world,

 

If you could listen in the silence of solitude

Beyond the noise of propaganda

Past the clamor of popular opinion

Deeper than the shifting sands of emotion,

 

 

You’d hear cries of agony

Offered long after dark.

 

You’d see tears of grief

Falling in silence.

 

 

 

You would see the weight of the burden, the magnitude of the mission.

Souls, lives, with eternity in the balance.

 

 

On your ears would fall offensive taunts, piercing accusations, hollow temptations

From an enemy who, although defeated, refuses to be silent.

 

 

You would see the Lover of our soul, the crucified and risen Savior, step in.

Piece by shattered piece, He picks up all of the brokenness….His own hands bleeding from the process.

With love He reclaims, restores, redeems.

 

You would hear His gentle whispers of love and affirmation. Claiming this life for His own purpose. For His glory. To reach His children.

 

Deep in the heart you would see a solid, immovable foundation that is beyond anything this world can offer. Immovable. Unshakeable. Determined. Relentless.

 

Held together by His Word and His Spirit.

 

 

If you could really see behind the scenes

You would not see the messenger

 

You would see the Master, His masterpiece, His message.

 


He Knows How Temptation Feels

 

It’s one of the worst lies we’ve been told.

Too many of us believe it.

Too many good people have been hurt by it.

 

It goes something like this:  God, if He is real, is too big, too holy, to perfect to ever understand someone like me.

He’s way out there somewhere, being pure, being a judge, not having any idea how tough it is to make right choices in a world going all wrong.

And I’m down here, in the middle of this crazy mess, surrounded by people and systems that just keep getting worse. No one seems to care about doing what’s right because its so much easier to just go with the flow of doing wrong.

He’s too perfect, He’ll never understand me.

 

The truth is so completely different.

 

Oh, He is certainly good. And Holy. And perfect.

He is also deeply aware of how temptation feels.

 

How strong it pulls, how hard it is to resist.

How much it takes to say ‘no’ to all the stuff that everyone else is saying ‘yes’ to.

And, to everything that seems like the quickest way to get rid of the hurt you feel.

 

He was here.

He lived it.

He felt it.

 

And, most importantly:  HE  CONQUERED IT!

 

Whatever the temptation, He felt it. Just like you do.

Stealing.

Lying.

Sex.

Drugs.

Alcohol.

 

Whatever the negative choices your mind & heart want to make, He honestly knows how it feels.

And He wants to help you resist.

To break the cycle of hurt, regret, fall, hurt, regret, fall…..

He wants to help you win.

He wants to show you how to become all the very strong, safe, good, right, and true things you’ve always dreamed about.

 

Because He felt the same temptation, He is the only one who knows how to show you the right kind of grace, mercy, and truth to help you when you need Him most.

 

There is a God, and He knows how temptation feels.

 

Hebrews 4:15 & 16

 

 

 


He Gave His Best For You

 

We all have that one friend.

 

They make tons of promises, keep very few.

 

Promise to help, are hard to find when you need them most.

 

Act like they’re sacrificing the world when they give you what feels like crumbs from their sandwich.

 

And it wasn’t even a sandwich they really like.

 

Drama king, or queen. Unstable and unreliable.

 

There is one friend who is dramatically different.

 

Not only does He not offer you crumbs, He offers you the best of everything He has. The finest, most valuable, most precious.

 

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life”

 

He doesn’t want you to go through this life without Him.

 

He certainly doesn’t want you to enter the next life without Him.

 

He knew that this life would be tough, the path rough, and the way to the other side sometimes hard to find.  That’s why He came to this world, gave His best, opened the door to true and full life in Him.

 

All other ‘gods’ and religions make you do the work, make you earn your keep, make you go through all the effort to earn their favor.

 

Not this God. He knew the distance from us to Him was  –  and is  –  too high, too great, too far for us to ever make it on our own.

 

So He came to us, showed us how to live, showed us how to love.

 

Showed us that true love gives its best.

 

He gave the most valuable, most important gift ever given in all of eternity  –  the life of Jesus.

 

And He gave it, for you.

 

Forget the crumbs.

 

Stop trying to please people & religions that only pretend to care.

 

Spend some time thinking about, and getting to know, the one who gave His very best, long before you even knew you needed Him.

 

There is a God, and He gave His best for you.

 

John 3:16

 

 

 


He Wants You To Find Him

 

Some people think its a game they cannot win.

In fact, it is a basic principle that God intends all of us to discover, and be successful in:  finding Him.

 

Truth be told, most who accuse God of being hard to find are really not wanting to know Him, know His way, know His heart. The amazing thing about God is He allows them, and us, the freedom to determine just how much of Him we’ll have access to.

 

God said: “If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”  If we honestly, with all our heart, want to find God, He promises we will be successful.

 

He knows when we’re just posing, just making statements to appear to want to find God, when in reality we just want to do things our own way.

 

He also knows when things & people & life have beat us down so much that we can barely make the effort to find anything, especially Him.

 

Just, get real.

Raw.

Honest.

Hurt, angry, frustrated, broken.

 

Full of mistakes, still bleeding from woulds of others. Sometimes wounded by those claiming to be Christ followers who really aren’t anything more than religious bullies.

 

Hiding yourself, away from the light of truth. Away from authority, away from anything that messes with your desire to do what you want when you want.

 

However you got into the dark corner, whatever caused you to hide there, know that there is a caring God who does not want you to be alone.

 

Wherever you find yourself, God wants to find you.

 

There is a God, and He wants you to find Him.

 

Jeremiah 29:13