Sticks and Stones

Posted: January 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

the words we say mean somethingWe are taught as kids, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And it makes sense, right? By repeating this mantra, mocking, jeering, and teasing are magically reduced to fairy dust and troll farts, never to harm you or another soul again.

The barrage of negative, condescending talk from others continues into our adult lives at work, home, and unfortunately even in the Church. And again “Sticks and Stones” runs through our minds, too childish to escape our lips.

But it’s a smokescreen. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What is said to us and about us means something.

We build walls to keep people at a distance, but still the words cut. What was meant to be spell of protection from insult and injury becomes a mask. Words used as weapons slip past our defenses and we force a smile.

But it’s a ruse. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What is said to us and about us means something.

And we too use those same harsh words at times. We relieve ourselves of responsibility by calling it sarcasm. Do you know what that word means? Is it something harsh, yet funny? No. The word means literally, “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt.”

But we’re “just saying,” right? Wrong. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What we say to and about others, means something.

Is this a tongue lashing directed at you, my reader? Not intentionally. I wrote this for me, the guy who claims sarcasm as “just another service I offer free of charge.” It is for me when my wife Beth and I are exchanging words of disagreement or when I tease her in what I think is a playful manner. It’s for me when my kids disappoint me with their behavior (because God knows they couldn’t have learned it from me).

See, “In the beginning was the Word.” God didn’t wave a magic wand or splash enchanted dust to create the universe: He spoke. Maybe you are thinking, “But those were God’s words.” These are as well:

“The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21

“You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you;” Job 22:28

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

So let’s be mindful of what we say, remembering that, “Sticks and stones may break their bones, but careless words may wound their spirit.”


Almost (Saved)

Posted: June 30th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, Spirituality, Videos | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I heard this spoken word (poem) recently and it so moved me, I wanted to share it with you. It’s about the biggest oxymoron know to man: “almost-saved.”

I hope it messes with your soul the way it has mine.


Emancipated, But Are You Free?

Posted: June 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

freedom_shackles_chains_Few words have changed the course of American history like “emancipate.” It’s very utterance stirs images of black families being freed from bondage.

I can see entire families who have just received the news colliding in the middle of a field with crazed enthusiasm greater than the celebration pile at the end of a sports championship win. Decades of struggle, toil, and beatings finally come to an end. The fruit of their labor could now be their own.

But for some it was not so. When the Union won and President Lincoln enforced the Emancipation Proclamation, some slave owners were less than honest. Since slaves weren’t taught to read, some owners told their slaves not that they were free, but that it meant that they could no longer be sold to a new master. This was incredible news to them as it meant their families would no longer be split up and sold to other masters. They could all serve the one master together.

Some worked for years for their old masters before they found out that all along they were truly free to walk off the plantation and make their own way in life.

This Sunday at church, we sang the song “Break Every Chain” by Jesus Culture. The main words of the chorus are:

There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain

In singing these words, I couldn’t help but think about the freedom that Jesus’ death and resurrection purchased for all mankind. However, a harsh master, the Father of Lies has intentionally misrepresented it to us – and some have believed him.

I cannot imagine what it was like to be a slave in the early years of our great country. The humiliation, degradation, and utter emotional and physical devastation that they underwent is unsurpassed in even my imagination.

But I do know what it means to be hopeless and a slave to sin. I know the weight of those chains well. I know what it means to serve the Master of Deception. The wounds of his whip and the scars of his shackles remain.

But when I put my faith in Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin. He gave me the right to walk away from sin and never serve its master again. But I fear so many times I look down and see my broken chains and loosed shackles and just stand there. Maybe it’s that after so many years of bondage I don’t know what freedom even means and the Father of lies says, “Yes Chris, you are free. You can be holy and still work for me on the side. You can raise your hands in worship to God on Sunday morning and lower His standards for you in worship to me on Sunday evening.”

Instead of running for the hills with my freedom papers in hand, I choose to stay and work for the same hard master. I believe my old, harsh master’s words over God’s.

Maybe it’s that I’ve restricted the definition of freedom as only a release from bondage and not also as the permission to move toward liberty. Is it possible that I’ve watered down the regenerating power of God in my life as only the power to abstain from sin and not as the authority to be righteous and holy.

Corporately, as a church, have we done the same and in so given ourselves, by an abuse of grace, a way to serve our old master? Have we manipulated freedom’s definition to hold tight to unholy habits that satisfy our flesh yet defile our spirits?

I know I’ve asked more questions than answered, but look hard at your life, and I will mine. We must look in the mirror and ask the hard questions and not be afraid of the answers. We must examine ourselves regularly to see if we are still in the faith, or out of it. And do so humbly allowing God to confront us where we are wrong and submit ourselves to His correction.

Remember, Jesus’ death was a contract. We’ve been emancipated. We are free, because whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed!


When to Call Out a False Teacher By Name

Posted: April 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Shai Linne Fal$e Teacher$I’ve heard plenty of preachers over the years and thought, “Wow, I’d like to see what chapter and verse THAT theology was based on.” Granted, no one is perfect and I’m sure that I believe a few things that would make you scratch your head too.

But at what point do we call a brother out — by name?

Really. At what point do say, “Pastor, if you can’t show me where this came from and how it applies as you laid out, what you said here is false teaching.” Where is the line drawn if there is no sound evidence that the doctrine is Biblical that you decide to nationally call a pastor out — by name.

Well Christian musician Shai Linne decided to do just that in his new single, “Fal$e Teacher$” (video below).

The song directly attacks twelve pastors for teaching the Prosperity Gospel. I put the list below the video.

I for one hope that Mr. Linne privately confronted these men and women before posterizing them in what has become a viral music video.

How appropriate is this video, and when do you think it is proper to call out a pastor publicly when you believe they are a false teacher?

 

Here’s the list (from his lyrics):

Talk to them)
Joel Osteen – false teacher!
(Let them know)
Creflo Dollar is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Benny Hinn is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them)
TD Jakes is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth)
Joyce Meyer is a false teacher!
(Let them know)
Paula White is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!
(Keep going)
Fred Price is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth)
Kenneth Copland is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Robert Tilton is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them)
Eddie Long is a false teacher!
(Let them know)
Juanita Bynum is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Paul Crouch is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!


By the Word of Our Testimony

Posted: March 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

By the Word of Our TestimonyA few weeks ago I gave a friend a ride to Rochester, which is about a three hour drive. No, acquaintance is more accurate, though I believe now we are friends.

See, there’s only a few things one can do when stuck in a car for a few hours with another individual. You can listen to the radio, talk, or sleep. If you know me at all my only option is to talk.

So talk we did.

It started with the small chit-chat, “How’s it going?” Blah. Blah. Blah. But before long we were sharing our history with each other.

My friend is a single guy, and I’m a fourteen-year marriage veteran with five kids (number six due in three months!). He started asking me how I liked marriage and family life. With each question he drew wisdom out of me like buckets of water from a well. I told an almost perfect stranger about past failures and victories few people know. Before long he was telling me his story and what God had done in his life to make him the man he is today.

It was powerful.

Do I think what I said will make a long-term difference in his life and how he someday treats his wife? I hope so. I hope he avoids some of the pitfalls I fell into and that he develops the type of relationship that love stories are written about. I may never know.

One thing I do know is that God accomplished something in us. This past Sunday Peter Hopper shared at our church about the power of our testimony. When we open our mouths to speak, not only is the other person strengthened but so are we. We are better men, better Christians today because of that talk. We shared our lives, our testimonies of how God has dealt kindly with us despite our transgressions and in doing so broke some of the lies of the devil in our lives–that we are alone and no one can understand our struggles or has overcome them.

And I know it can’t just be me. I believe there’s something deep inside us all that longs to be seen by others. To be known.

Sharing our story with others is part of that. Anyone can love the “good” us, the façade we put on display when we pretend that everything is OK and we are perfect (or at least better than “so and so”). One of love’s greatest powers is knowing the good and the bad about a person and still loving him despite his failures.

Answer that call deep inside you and share your story with someone today. Heck, share it here. Not only will it bring victory into your life, it will bring it to theirs as well.

Revelation 12:11 ” And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (ESV, emphasis added)


Martin Luther King Jr. on Forgiveness

Posted: January 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »
Copyright AP Photo/PL

Rev. Martin Luther King with Harlem Hospital's Dr. Emil A. Naclerio. AP Photo/PL

On September 20, 1958, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was nearly assassinated. At a book signing, Izola Curry stabbed Rev. King in the chest with a steel letter opener. It was reported the next morning that it was so close to his aorta that if he’d have sneezed it would have killed him (source).

I cannot imagine what I would feel toward that woman those five days in recovery, but I can give you the words of Rev. King one month later.

“I am deeply sorry that a deranged woman should have injured herself in seeking to injure me. I can say, in all sincerity, that I bear no bitterness toward her and I have felt no resentment from the sad moment that the experience occurred…

“And finally, as I indicated before, the experience I had in New York gave me time to think. I believe that I have sunk deeper the roots of my conviction that nonviolence {non-violent} resistence is the true path for overcoming injustice and for stamping out evil. (source)”

Incredible. Not only does he forgo any sympathy toward his injury, he focuses on his concern for the woman that tried to drive a letter opener through his heart! Sometimes I have a hard time forgiving my own family of petty differences and incidents, yet this great man did not hold a single ounce of malice toward a woman who tried to end his life. He did not even press charges against her and instead encouraged her to seek treatment.

And then I consider the words of Jesus, “But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15 CEV)” Wow, really? Is God saying that harboring unforgiveness separates me from him? And I see Jesus hanging on the cross looking down at the people screaming obscenities at him while demanding that he prove his claims, at the soldiers with blood splattered hammers in-hand gambling for his clothes while he gasps for air. Then I hear those final words, “Father forgive them.”

I’m left empty, praying. “God help me to be like that. Help me to let go of any debt I feel others owe me because of the pain they’ve caused and truly forgive them. And not only to forgive them but show them love and compassion.”

I’ll leave you with these words from Rev. King and a challenge. Who has wronged you that you have been unwilling to forgive? Now take the time this moment and truly forgive them.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”


How Tall Will A Tree Grow?

Posted: December 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

At first glance, the question appears unanswerable. There are too many variables, right? A definite answer across the board seems elusive, but it can be answered.

Whether the tree’s a gargantuan redwood or a Lilliputian size dwarf willow, the answer is the same; a tree will grow as tall as it can.

You may be thinking, “What a cop-out, Mooney,” but hear me out.

Regardless of the breed, each seed has the potential to grow as tall and fruitful as its species will allow. Even if you compare specific species they still grow to different heights depending on a number of factors like soil, temperature, and precipitation.

If the tree is devoid of essential nutrients or exposed to harsh elements its growth will be stunted, but if given a healthy environment it’s free to grow to its fullest potential.

We’re like that.

Each one of us is different, with our own unique personalities and quirks. Each of us has a different level of talent and potential. In order to become what God has intended for us, we have to create an environment that fosters that growth. This includes praying and reading the Bible, not as a matter of obligation but with a desire to know God. It means excluding activities and relationships that aren’t beneficial to this relationship.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.  Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.


Hearers only?

Posted: October 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, My Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I listen to a lot of teaching material and sermons at work. Many of these are from YouTube and the video plays in the background while I work (they are not a visible distraction). When I need to get up, I pause them, and I have noticed a trend.

Here are two screen captures that I took of recent YouTube teachings. One is a seminar by Jim Rohn, and incredible personal development guru. The other is a sermon at a church. Can you tell me which photo belongs to which teaching? (I blanked out their eyes for privacy)

If you couldn’t guess, the left picture is the sermon, the right is the seminar. There is a distinct difference in the two. In the sermon picture, the attendees are observing the teaching and committing it to mental memory.

The people attending the seminar are participating and writing down the information so they can go over it again later.

Given the different level of participation in the teachings, which group is more committed to the topic at hand?

Which would you say is the group simply hearing?

Which do you think are more likely act on the information they are receiving not just that day, but weeks, months, or years down the road?

Which are you?

 


aka “Fast Food” Jesus

Posted: July 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

What’s your favorite fast food fix? You know, your go to “heart-attack-in-a-sack.”

Mine is a double cheese burger value meal at McDonald’s. Unless it’s breakfast, then it’s a breakfast burrito meal with what they consider to be “hot” sauce. It’s crazy, but I love McDonald’s food.

Once in awhile.

To eat it everyday would not only get old, but be completely unhealthy (see the Super Size Me movie). Plus I always get the same thing, so after a few trips the the Golden Arches, I have to avoid it for a month or so in order to get the craving back.

Sometimes I treat Jesus like that, like a “Fast Food” Jesus.

I get a craving for Him because I love to talk with Him. To quote local Pastor Jeffrey Smith, “I love me some Jesus.”  In these moments I open the Bible to my favorite chapter (Psalm 27) for a minute or turn on Pandora to my favorite station (Skillet/Red/Bride). They’re my go-to spots that satisfy my appetite until I can get in some real quality time.

Now, is having a Fast Food Jesus a bad thing? Not in moderation.

While McDonald’s is food, and it can sustain you for quite some time (I ate it every day for about four years in my teens), it’s not what my body required to run properly. I need more than short bursts of Psalm 27 or turning on “Jesus Radio” while my talk radio is on commercial. In themselves, they aren’t enough to keep my spirit man healthy. There simply is not enough nutrition to be found through the window of a drive thru experience with Jesus.

Only having this type of experience with God can get you in a rut resulting in a mundane Christian life. Break out of the same old routines you have and try something new! There is so much of Jesus to experience and share. Comfortable is OK but new is adventure!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ” ~ Jesus of Nazareth

ANd yeah, you have to tell me what your favorite is. I wasn’t joking about that part.


Hand to the Plough by Sons of Korah

Posted: May 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Ever hear a song that’s so deep it haunts you? Enter “Hand to the Plough” by Sons of Korah. It hurts so good. If you don’t care to listen to this acoustic version from their living room, at least read the lyrics which I put in under the video. Oh, and you’ll have to buy the actual CD if you want the song as I can’t find it digitally anywhere. I guess the Outback is still catching up.

If it hits you like it hit me, please share it on facebook, we could all use a little more conviction.

 

Lyrics:

You say that you’re following Jesus
But I don’t think you know what it means ‘
cause all I can see is
you with your dreams saying,
“Jesus, won’t you come follow me?”

He gave you His life He gave you His Spirit
He gave so that you could give too
He said, “Follow me! There’s work to be done”
and “the workers have always been few.”

You say that you’re following Jesus
So follow and no looking back.

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are drowning outside.

You say that you’re following Jesus
But you’re giving me reason to doubt
You pray, “0 Lord bring in the
blind and the lost!”
But you never pray, “Lord send me out!”

The harvest is plenty
but the workers are few
And the reason could
be that the worker is you
So test all your dreams
Your goals and ambitions
Do you really believe that the gospel is true?

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are
drowning outside. (twice)

Imagine you’re a doctor
sent away to the war
Sent by the General to tend to the
poor wounded soldiers
in the battle out there
But all you ever did there
was treat your own wounds
care for your comforts
never leaving the room to go out
to the battle outside

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are drowning outside.

You say you’re alive
but I don’t see you living
you say you’re a servant
But I’ve never seen you serve.
O where are the faithful;
the Lord’s precious few?
O where are the workers?
Does anybody know?

Words and Music by Matthew Jacoby