We All Bleed The Same – WARNING. This Is NOT A Politically Correct Post

So much ugly going on in the world! Wars and rumors of wars. Brothers killing brothers. Marriage disdained and disrespected. Unnatural relationships; paedophiles in the news every day, same-sex relationships glorified in the media. School shootings, church shootings, workplace shootings. Mass killings in public places.

Christians are having to dig deep to find the courage to stand today. It is politically incorrect to proclaim Jesus Christ as LORD, but It’s encouraged to worship anything, anyONE, besides our GOD. Is it really courage we lack, as much as it is the desire to be liked and to be a part of the popular scene? I’ve never been very courageous, myself. I was a shrinking violet, a wallflower, in junior high and high school. Once I was at college, I connected with the ‘cool kids’ – the rebels from the restrictive Christian families we came from. Hear these words from Jesus to us!

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t Love Me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your Lampstand from its place among the churches.”

“I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the Crown of LIFE.” – Revelation 2:4‭-‬5‭, ‬9‭-‬10 NLT

The LORD knows our suffering, and He is practically begging us to turn to Him; to be FAITHFUL to Him in our despair. When I rely on JESUS and rest in His Arms, He lifts me up and gives me a peace that surpasses and rises above the mess surrounding me. He wants to do the same for you and every person alive. All you have to do is ask Him. He will give you all that you need. JESUS is not about being a Liberal or a Conservative; Republican, Democrat, or Independent. He doesn’t care where you were born, or how much money you have. The color of your hair and skin is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you are the richest man on earth or the poorest of the poor, living in abject poverty. We all bleed the same, we all have one soul, and we all have a choice. JESUS, or the world. JESUS, and an ETERNITY with Him in Love, or Satan, the world, and an ETERNITY in hell and unspeakable, unimaginable suffering. Satan is Fear, and Fear is a Liar. JESUS is Truth. If you choose not to choose, then you have made you choice. You have to ask Jesus into your heart and life. He’ll never force Himself on you.

“But those who drink the Water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them Eternal Life.” – John 4:14 NLT

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the LORD, for you know that nothing you do for the LORD is ever useless.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT

Maybe our prayer today shoud be for the courage to be politically incorrect, and to let our choice of JESUS CHRIST shine on the world.

Listen to Mandisa’s song “Bleed The Same” (or Google the video!) and Zach Williams’ “Fear Is A Liar.”

I Was A Rube

What is a “rube”? Webster’s says a rube is “an awkward, unsophisticated person: rustic; a naive or innocent person.” Another dictionary added “country bumpkin.” When I graduated high school and prepared to leave my parents home for college, I was all of those things – especially the “naive” part. I had grown up in a restrictive house with very protective parents, and I was convinced that the world would be a piece of cake. They had good reason to fear the world. Between the alcoholism and workaholics in their birth families; because of the war and it’s privations; through their experiences growing up, my parents did everything they could to shield us from life’s ugly side.They did the absolute best they could do with the knowledge and experience they had at the time.

Boy, was I wrong.

I was desperate to impress upon my new college family how sophisticated I was. That didn’t work out so well for me. I tried so hard to be one of the popular kids, the cool kids. The other preacher’s kids just weren’t all that, so I turned to the rule-benders and rebels. Instead of elevating me, I found myself dragged down because of my innocence and naivity, and shunned by the kids there who were walking the righteous path. I am no longer a Rube. Through a hard life, with more bumps and bruises than you could count, I have finally reached a path of contentment. I don’t need to be worldly to be wise, I merely need to submit to GOD’s Will. Hah. “Merely!” Makes it sound so easy, right? I am still an awkward, unsophisticated person, and i am okay with it. One thing I am not any longer is innocent. Once your innocence is gone, there is no way to recall it. I sincerely hope that I don’t come across to people as hard and cynical. Without JESUS CHRIST in my life, I think that is exactly how I would be perceived by tne world.

Most of the time now, I don’t really care if I am seen as a Rube.

“So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6 NLT

Know God?

“Yes, they knew GOD, but they wouldn’t worship Him as GOD or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what GOD was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.” – Romans 1:21‭-‬22 NLT

What does your god look like? Is He Majestic and Holy, clothed in His Creation? Is your god clothed in Sooner cream and red, Dallas blue and silver, OSU orange? Perhaps your god is dressed in the latest fashions, or corporate goals. Maybe your god is wrapped up in busyness or children or a spouse. Loyalty, addiction, obsession to something in this world can so easily supplant THE God, Creator and Saviour. Too many times, in our quest to fill that God-shaped hole inside us, we get caught up in the external and the glittery temptations that God’s enemy, Satan, places in front of us. It’s so easy to get sidetracked into his lair, and it can be incredibly difficult to extract ourselves from the webs of deceit he weaves to trap us.

Reflecting on my past, I see clearly many instances where I was hung up in those webs. I was so busy having fun, I could ignore how miserable I was. That’s on way the enemy keeps us trapped. Busy, busy, busy. Career, kids, school, football and other sports, cars, shopping….. rather than dwelling on “What’s in your wallet?”, can we switch focus to “What’s in your heart?” Do you know the Almighty GOD? Is HE in your heart, filling it with love and compassion for His people, or are you cramming tnat hole full of earthly pursuits? It’s lke the sign says,

“Know God, Know Peace. NO God, NO Peace.”

Which part are you? Do you KNOW Peace, or do you have NO Peace in your heart? Be like the author of this psalm: Praise Him, be Thankful for Him, and Pray for God’s help and protection.

“I praise GOD for what he has promised. I trust in GOD, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” – Psalms 56:4 NLT

Fools….

There are a LOT of verses about fools in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments! Wonder why? Even Adam and Eve, father and mother of all humanity, acted foolishly with their free will. Rather that walking with, and listening to, their Creator GOD, they foolishly chose to listen to the serpent, who represented Satan. Fools, and it has passed down from generation to generation through the eons, to today. While they could have chosen contentment with dwelling in a breathtakingly beautiful setting and walked with God daily…. with GOD, people! Actually physically present, supremely approachable, the LORD of the existence…… they chose to leave God’s beauty for a promise from a serpent??? Their punishment has become ours:

“Then {The LORD} said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you…. And to the man He said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.” – Genesis 3:16‭-‬17 NLT

Wow. And so it goes…..

King Solomon wrote poetry and prose, and there is much about fools and foolish behavior in his writings. Some examples from the book of Proverbs follow:

“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” – Proverbs 13:20 NLT

“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” – Proverbs 12:15 NLT

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” – Proverbs 18:2 NLT

We have all been fools, or foolish, in our lives, JESUS being the only exception in the history of mankind. Oh, I sympathize with you! Much of my life has been spent under the categorization of a fool. I associated, by my choice, with people who made consistently unhealthy choices. Not surprisingly, we got into trouble. Lots of trouble. We thought we were right. Our way was the way, and we made sure our opinions were loudly voiced. We didn’t listen to anyone we disagreed with. We didn’t need to, because we were right. It has taken years of turmoil and heartache for me to understand that I am not always right on every subject. I’m trying to do better at picking people to spend my time with, although I will be the first to admit that my ‘picker’ is broken! I have learned – no, that’s wrong. I am learning to let go and let God do the picking.

Okay, so my sympathy only goes so deep. When someone continues to make poor choices (ooh, me me me!!) in their friends and in their decisions for life, when they KNOW that they are doing it and they KNOW the cure, well, I get very impatient with that person. (Yes, I get very impatient with myself!) I don’t think the LORD sympathizes, but I know He understands. He offers Redemption, and Salvation; Healing and the best friendship ever, because He has experienced temptation. He has Compassion and He knows our realities. There is nothing we are faced with where He can’t help us. If we remain fools; if we continue our foolish behavior, we are skirting disaster. I want to walk with Jesus. I crave His Presence in my life. While with Him, while I am spending time with Him, will I continue making foolish decisions? Probably. I’m still human, I’m imperfect, and I’m very opinionated. Where do uou stand? Are you still hanging out with fools?

WHY Do Christians Act This Way?

Listen to these words from Paul to the church in Corinth, and his plea to God to remove the “thorn” in his flesh:

“Each time {God} said, “My Grace is all you need. My Power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me….. For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior. Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9‭, ‬20‭-‬21 NLT

In verse 9, Paul is admitting to his weakness. We don’t know if it was a physical condition or perhaps it was pride, or arrogance? Whatever it was, God uses Paul’s weakness in his ministry. I love that sentence, “My Grace is all you need.” God’s Grace is all I need. Many times in his letters, Paul pleaded with the people to pray for. In many ways today, we do the same thing in prayer requests…. only too many times the prayer chain is used a gossip line. “We need to pray for Brother Tom. He’s struggling in his marriage. He just doesn’t see how good he has it with that wife and business of his. Did you see his new assistant? Why, I would never cheat on my marriage! Mercy, his wife must be a wretch behind closed doors! I just wish I had his good fortune!”

I’ve heard similar stories passed on as “prayer requests” many times. We use the opportunity of a prayer request to grill that person for details. There’s nothing wrong with asking for what specifically they want prayer for, but we really don’t need the details. In my study groups, I have interrupted someone digging for dirt by saying “We don’t need the details because God knows them already, so let’s pray.” and then leading the group in prayer. We all make mistakes in our lives. Even the greatest Christians to ever live were human, are human, and sin. It could be a little lie, and it could be have sex with someone other that your spouse. It could be gossip, or it could even be murder. God doesn’t differentiate between these sins. Sin is sin, period. “…..quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior…… impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.” We are ALL quilty of these things, so be careful of your judgemental attitude!

Yes, I am one of “those people,” and I can only give my LORD the credit for saving me from that lifestyle of self-indulgence and lustfulness. I am not now, nor will I ever be perfect. I am broken, but Jesus has put me back together. I love this quote “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” This doesn’t give me Carte Blanche to think and act however I please today. It actually reminds me of my past and how incredibly loving my God is to love me and forgive me, in spite of myself. It also reminds me of this saying “To whom much is given, much is expected.” God gives us forgiveness along with our salvation. That is HUGE. As Christians, we have been given Eternal Life with our LORD. Shouldn’t we be sharing that, instead of sharing all the dirt? We need to growing together……

Bickering Is FUN

I confess. I like a good argument. Bickering can be fun. It’s definitely entertaining, and can be more interesting than a bland, superficial conversation. Keep in mind, please, that I’m talking about the “blah, blah, blah” conversations. The ones where you find your mind wandering or your eyes closing as you nod off…. Not everyone agrees with me about bickering. It’s important for me to remember is that it isn’t fun or entertaining to everyone. Some people have to be “right”, disregarding truth in the process, or they think that bickering is arguing. (For those of us who are perfect, this is moot, because we are always right!)

I considered myself to be one of those perfect people for years. My thoughts and opinions were unquestionably the best. What I didn’t accept was how utterly broken I was. Oh, the lies we tell ourselves! Thank GOD for His Saving Grace! Accepting our own brokenness, our imperfections, is difficult at best. I think it’s much easier to realize these things in others (Matthew 7:3, Luke 6:41). I will always struggle at times about having to be being “right,” and remember that sometimes – MOST times – it really isn’t important.

I still enjoy a good argument. Maybe I should join a debate club!! Instead of having to be right all of the time, I would truly prefer to be as Christ wants us to be. The Apostle Paul wrote a lot on this subject, so I know I’m not alone in this struggle.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:31‭-‬32 NLT

Isn’t that just a kick in the pants! When I consider how much God has forgiven me, there are no grounds left for me to hold a grudge against anyone, or to demand that I be right. It’s important to recognize the difference in light hearted bickering and arguing, and to know the person you are engaging with. If it makes that person or the people around you uncomfortable, then it becomes a tool for the enemy.

“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the LORD must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” – 2 Timothy 2:23‭-‬24 NLT

If you are curious about what a Christian should look like, Ephesians chapter 4 and 2 Timothy 2 are two great places to start reading…. and the whole New Testament! Lots of good stuff there. I need to hold tight to this verse from the prophet Jeremiah:

“But Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their Hope and Confidence.” – Jeremiah 17:7 NLT

Safe….?

“(10) The Name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe. (14) The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit? (19) An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. (24) There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:19‭, ‬24 NLT

A crushed spirit. That’s what happens in a relationship and a marriage when one leaves, physically or emotionally. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to study on this; too many opportunities. Currently, I find myself again feeling betrayed by a friend, a person I took at his word that he would not abandon me. A crushed spirit. Knowing a person for almost 20 years, being friends and going through good and bad times, helping each other through emotional times, doesn’t guarantee anything. I wanted to believe the best, but everyone lets down their friends at times. Why do we do this? Why make promises we know we won’t keep? Why do we lead others on, letting them believe something in error? Safe? No, there isn’t anyone on earth who is safe, who won’t disappoint you.

No matter how long or how much effort we put into the study of human behaviour, I believe we will always be disappointed, simply because we are human and full of flaws. Knowing that, studying that, doesn’t make it any easier to get past the hurt. The only way to really get past it, to find forgiveness for those who hurt us – and that includes forgiving myself for the hurt I have caused myself and others – and that way, the only way, is through Jesus Christ. Can I still forgive while being treated with disrespect and disdain? Do I want to? I study the scriptures for guidance, because I cannot find forgiveness in my heart. Instead I find sarcasm and anger flooding me, along with the hurt and the disappointment. All of those feelings come straight from the enemy, and they don’t help me at all. In fact, if I let them go, these negative thoughts and feelings can overcome and actually, physically, cause me to be ill.

With Jesus, and through the healing of the Holy Spirit, I can get through this. Study the words of Jesus for forgiveness. He taught us this: “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:15 NLT

Jesus was betrayed by a friend, a close friend who He loved, one who gave Him over to be tortured and killed in the most horrific ways know to man…. and before He died, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34 NLT

Even while dying; beaten, bruised, and humiliated, Jesus forgave us. Are we beater than the Son of God, that we can hold judgement and unforgiveness over another person? Let the chains of hatred, unforgiveness, anger, and hurt go. Let God have it. He can handle it.