How We Are Like Judas

Being Judas

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests  and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.  From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (Matthew 26:14-16)

It’s easy to read the above passage and think something along the lines of, “I’d never do something like that!” Or, “Judas was an idiot.” 

I mean, who in their right mind would trade their relationship with Jesus for 30 pieces of silver?

But…

We pretty much do the same thing.

We’ve become proficient at being a Judas.

How?

We’ve traded in our relationship with Jesus by placing a higher priority on our families than Him.

We’ve traded in our relationship with Jesus by placing a higher priority on our friends than Him.

We’ve traded in our relationship with Jesus by placing a higher priority on our jobs than Him.

We’ve traded in our relationship with Jesus by placing a higher priority on our reputations than Him.

You get the idea.

We’ve traded in our relationship with Jesus for just about anything that you can think of.

But let me be clear.

The things listed are not bad in of themselves.

I mean family, friends, jobs, and even our reputations should be important to us.

But when they begin to usurp Jesus there’s a problem.

When we start looking for these things to give us something that only Jesus can give us there’s a problem.

Why?

Because only Jesus can satisfy.

Because only Jesus can give us peace.

Because only Jesus can give us exactly what we need.

So what do we do?

What do we do when we’ve traded our relationship with Jesus for something else?

What do we do when we’ve allowed something to usurp Jesus in some way?

Honestly…

This is tough to swallow but we need to repent and change.

We need to ask for His forgiveness.

We need to ask for His strength so we can live a life of surrender.

It may be hard and people may not understand, but trust me, there’s nothing more valuable than Him.

Nothing.

10 Things That Jesus Said That Turned The World Upside Down

Photo By @MichaelDPerkins

Photo By @MichaelDPerkins

When you read about Jesus, you begin to realize how He revolutionary the words He spoke were. I mean, the words Jesus spoke were contrary to how most people lived, believed, and behaved.

In fact, they are still contrary to how must people live, believe, and behave today.

Jesus’ words literally turned the world upside down.

And I believe they still can today, if we decide to live by them.

I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart

“I can look as long as I don’t touch.” 

Umm.

Nope.

If you look at someone lustfully, Jesus says it’s the same thing as, well, you get the idea.

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

We’re taught if we want to be first, we must be the best, the strongest, the one who stands out. Jesus is telling us to place ourselves in a position that causes us to humble ourselves and serve.

Give, and it will be given to you.

We’re taught if we want it, then take it.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, right?”

Nope.

That was a before Jesus response.

Jesus calls us to actually love those who have wronged us; if that’s not upside down then I don’t know what is.

Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven

This is really contrary to what we are taught today. Jesus is saying we should clothe ourselves in humility and serve others.

I’m sensing a pattern.

Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

“Wait. You mean we shouldn’t point out all the awesome stuff we did?”

Nope.

We should humble ourselves and be quick to deflect any credit to Him.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well

Our priorities are often out of order.

We’re taught to seek love, careers, fame, security, etc…

Jesus says to seek His Kingdom first.

Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

“Wait.”

“What?”

Jesus wants all of our hearts, not just the easy pieces that we often give Him.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

Just because something is socially acceptable does not mean it’s Kingdom acceptable.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

It’s one thing to do things in the Name of Jesus and it’s a completely different thing to do things with Jesus.

When we do things with Jesus, we’ll be making a Kingdom impact.

 

3 Ways To Regain Our Sense Of Awe When It Comes To God

Photo By @MichaelDPerkins

Photo By @MichaelDPerkins

A few weeks ago I went to get a haircut. And as I was sitting in the chair, the man cutting my hair started up a conversation.

It was mostly small-talk, but a conversation nonetheless.

After a while of talking about the weather and our children, he asked, “How long had I lived in Corpus Christi?”

“Five months”, I answered.

He then asked, “Do you like it here?”

“Yes, I love it here. I especially love going to the beach with my family.”

“Oh.” he said. “I’ve lived here my entire life and I haven’t been to the beach in nearly ten years. It just gets old after a while.”

My heart sank.

He had lost his sense of awe.

Now, before we think this guy is nuts, we need to realize that we often do the same thing, especially in the church.

We often lose our sense of awe.

Here’s what happens: We come to know Jesus. We go to church. We start to serve. We start to give. We feel fulfilled.

And then somewhere along the way, we lose sight of the reason why we do the things we do.

We start complaining about, well, anything and everything. We begin to develop a sense of entitlement. We stop going to church on a regular basis. We stop serving. We stop giving.

And then we ask ourselves, “Why do I feel so empty?”

It’s because we’ve lost our awe.

So, how do we get it back?

How do we get our awe back when it comes to our relationship with God?

We start by remembering.

We need to remember the day we met Jesus. We need to remember what it felt like when He extended His arm towards us and lifted us out of mud.

We need to remember what it felt like the first time we allowed Jesus to wrap His arms around us and hold us closely.

We need to remember when He saved us and delivered us.

Why?

Because remembering helps re-establish the awe.

Enjoy the now.

I’m a pretty driven person.

I want to succeed. I want to do well. I want to see results. I want to see the Kingdom grow. And I’m sure you are the same way.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with this, in fact, we should be burdened to see the Kingdom grow, but what often happens in the church is that we become so consumed with what’s next that we never fully enjoy what’s now.

For example, we tend to obsess over the empty seats in the sanctuary on Sunday morning, but we forget that over the last month several new families have started attending.

When we cannot enjoy what’s now, we’ll start to lose our sense of awe. So take time, enjoy what God’s doing now.

Pray

Seriously.

We need to pray.

Sometimes, especially in the church, we spend so much time trying to do things in the Name of Jesus, that we never spend any time with Jesus.

And if we don’t spend any time with Jesus, then it doesn’t do a bit of good to do things in the Name of Jesus.

Want to recapture your sense of awe? Then spend time in prayer talking to Jesus about Jesus. I promise you, if you do this, His goodness will overwhelm you.

And let’s be honest.

We all need to be overwhelmed by Him.

Full Service Faith

Growing up, full service gas stations were still a thing. (By law, full service is still a thing in a few states)

A full service gas station is where you’d pull up and someone, most likely in overalls with a sewed on patch of the gas station’s logo on one side of their chest and their name embroidered on the other side of their chest would come out and ask you how much gas you wanted.

They’d then proceed to fill up your car and sometimes, they’d even wash off your windshield for you.

In my opinion, this was awesome. Unfortunately, in our fast paced society, full service gas stations have nearly become a thing of the past, but the idea of full service hasn’t, especially in our churches.

We expect a full service faith.

You know, where one goes to church on Sunday morning, sing a few songs, put some money in the offering plate, listen to a message, go home, and not think about God until the following Sunday.

And then become upset with the Church because they are not getting “filled up.”

While, I do believe it is the Church’s responsibility to minister to people, to encourage people, to equip people; I don’t believe God ever intended us to treat church like a full service gas station.

We need to do what we can to make sure we stay filled.

We need to realize God is the One Who fills us up.

Not our pastors.

Not our church leaders.

Not our family.

God is the One Who fills us up.

We cannot have a personal relationship with God by riding on the coat-tails of someone else’s relationship with Him. We cannot be fully filled by depending on someone else’s filling.

So what do we do?

How do we make sure we are filled?

Spend time in prayer.

Jesus was always slipping off somewhere to be alone with God, to hear God’s voice, to be filled.

And we should do to do the same.

If we want to be filled, we need to be slipping away from distractions to simply listen to His voice. I believe that as we make this a daily habit, we’ll be amazed about how we’ll start to feel a sense of renewed spiritual vigor.

Spend time in His Word.

If we were only to eat one day a week, I imagine we’d feel like we were starving. I mean, I feel pretty hungry if I miss lunch.

The same is true of our relationship with God. If the only time we spend in His Word is when we are viewing it on a projection screen on a Sunday morning, we’ll be starving ourselves to death.

Jesus said that we live on every word that comes from God’s mouth. And the words that came from God’s mouth, are written in the pages of our Bibles.

Am I suggesting that the Church is unimportant?

No.

Not at all.

In fact, I believe it’s extremely important.

The Church is where we are equipped, encouraged, and sent out to spread the message of God’s love, grace, and mercy.

But if that 1-2 hours on Sunday morning is the only time we spend with God, we’ll be very disappointed when we run out of gas and feel empty.

We need to do our part filled.

How To Love Your Enemy

Photo by @MichaelDPerkins

Photo by @MichaelDPerkins

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

Love your enemies.

This is probably one of the most often quoted verses in all the bible. I mean, even as a kid, when my family didn’t attend church, or have much to do with God at all, I knew the phrase, “Love your enemies.”

But how do we do that?

How do we love our enemies?

Because honestly, it’s hard enough just to like some people, let alone love them.

Pray for them.

Like really pray for them.

Ask God to bless them.

Ask God to answer their prayers.

Ask God to do the amazing in their lives.

Ask God to help you love them the way He loves You.

Let the hurt go.

Seriously.

Let the hurt go.

I promise, the person we make the most miserable by holding onto the hurt is ourselves, not others.

So please, make things easier on yourself.

Let the hurt go and forgive.

Pray for them…again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Why?

Because it’s only through prayer that we will be able to love our enemies the way God calls us to love our enemies; by demonstrating the same type of love He has for us.

And honestly, that’s what the world needs.

More of His love being demonstrated.

7 Easy Ways To Be A Jerky Christian

As followers of Jesus, we are supposed to love God with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds and love our neighbor as ourselves. Which, honestly, seems like it shouldn’t be too terribly difficult.

But sometimes many, myself included, have fallen short and have behaved like a jerky Christian. And when we do that, it hinders others from seeing Him.

Say you’ll pray for someone and never actually pray.

How many times has someone said they need prayer and we say, “I’ll pray!” And then we walk away or hang up the phone and never pray at all. It’d be much better to just pray for them right then and there.

Not tipping your server.

My wife used to serve tables when she was in college and she hated, literally hated working on Sundays.

Why?

Because large groups from church would come in and expect her to wait on them hand and foot and then they’d leave an extremely small tip or none at all. We should tip and tip well, because we have a generous heart.

Gossip like it’s an Olympic event.

Seriously, gossiping is never beneficial to anyone.

Just don’t do it.

Become more concerned about a cause than we are for Jesus.

Don’t think this is true? Take a moment and scroll through Facebook. On it you will see statuses and pictures talking about gun rights, marriage rights, the educational system, politics, etc.

Are these things important? Yes.

Should we become so consumed with arguing for Jesus that we neglect loving like Jesus? No.

Consume and never contribute.

As followers of Jesus we are called to serve not just sit back and soak it all in.

Now, I realize that many cannot serve because of physical limitations but we can always pray.

We can pray for our churches. We can pray for our pastors. We can pray for our communities. And if I can be completely honest, praying is the most effective way to contribute.

Expect others to be perfect.

One of the things that probably bothers me the most is how we sometimes expect others, especially new Christians, to be perfect, but we don’t hold ourselves to the same standard.

When they do something that we don’t agree with we’re quick to point it out, but if we mess up and do something we should’t we’ll say, “Thank God for grace.”

Listen, that’s why we must disciple others. We must bring them alongside of us and allow them to experience life as we experience life.

Air dirty laundry online.

Will we sometimes disagree with our spouses? Yes.

Will we sometimes disagree with our family? Yes.

Will we sometimes disagree with, someone at some particular time? Yes.

Should we share those disagreements online for the world to see? No.

It’s never a good idea to go on online and put it all out there for everyone to see. If there is an issue, we should deal with that behind closed doors.

I just want to do what Jesus did and love like Jesus loved.

And I want the same thing for everyone else.

I want to simply love God with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds and love our neighbor as ourselves.

And not do anything that hinders others from seeing Him.

3 Things I Wasn’t Taught In School About Pastoring

Like most pastors, I have spent a significant amount of time in school learning how to be a pastor and shepherd God’s Church.

I’ve taken classes on theology.

I’ve taken classes on biblical exegesis.

I’ve taken classes on Christian counseling.

I’ve taken classes on leadership within the church.

I’ve taken, well, you get the idea.

Over the last few years I’ve came to the realization that even though I have learned a lot in my studies, there are some things that I was never taught in a classroom about being a pastor:

The church becomes your family.

Like many pastors, my family and I live nowhere near family. We have family that lives in Ohio, Kansas, West Virginia, Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Florida, and California.

Because we live in South Texas (Louisiana previously), we obviously don’t get to see our family very often. And so we end up spending holidays, birthdays, and other special times with the members of our church. When you do this, you cannot help but grow to love them.

They become your family.

You hurt when people from the church hurt.

As a parent, our heart breaks to see our children hurting. You think that if you could do anything to take away the pain, you would.

The same is true about pastoring.

It breaks my heart to see people going through difficult times and experiencing pain.

It does not matter what type of pain they are going through, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, or even wrestling with past wounds, like a parent; you wish you could take all the pain away.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve gotten a phone call from someone asking for prayer or have left a meeting in which someone needed comfort and got in my car or I went back to my office and just began to pray and weep for God to intervene.

You often wake up in the middle of the night with the burden to pray for people.

I enjoy my sleep, but there have been many nights in which I wake up with someone on my heart and that burden does not go away until I take the time to pray for them.

Sometimes its just a quick and simple prayer and other times it’s an extended time in prayer wrestling with God for that person.

And what’s amazing is that sometimes that person will come and say to me, “I was going through this.” Or “I was going through that and God helped me.” And I had no clue what was going on, only that I believed I needed to pray.

Am I upset I didn’t learn these things in School?

No.

Absolutely not.

I’m just glad that I’ve learned them.

Because the things that I didn’t learn in school, they are the things that I will cherish for the rest of my life. They are the things that I will tell my son about. They are the things I will tell my grandchildren about.

Why?

Because they are the things that touched my heart.

They are the things I love about pastoring.

Jesus, Jesus (A Prayer On Becoming Less)

John 3:30

Jesus, Jesus.

Oh Jesus.

I need You.

I want to be less so that You can be more.

I want to be lower so that You can be higher.

I want to be nothing so that You can be something more.

 

Jesus, Jesus.

Oh Jesus.

I’m at Your feet.

I want to be less so that You can be more.

I want to be lower so that You can be higher.

I want to be nothing so that You can be something more.

 

Jesus, Jesus.

Oh Jesus.

I’m begging You.

Make me less so that You can be more.

Take me lower so that you can be higher.

Make me into nothing so that You can be something more.

 

Jesus, Jesus.

Oh Jesus.

You are greater.

You are higher.

You are something more.

 

He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30

4 Pieces Of Advice For 20 Somethings

20 Something's

I was 20 something.

About 2 years ago.

Now, I’m a 30 something.

The thing about 20 something’s is that many desire to be influencers.  Many desire to be leaders. Many desire to change the world.

All of that is great.

But I believe that many neglect (I certainly did) to do certain things because of pride, insecurity, and a sense of entitlement.

So…

Here are a few things that I believe are crucial to learn if we want to do anything of importance.

Change your world first

If you want to change anything you need to start with yourself.

Be an example.

It’s really hard to listen to anyone who hasn’t been there before or who isn’t willing to change themselves. In fact, these people sound hypocritical.

On the other hand…

It’s really easy to listen to someone who has made change, to someone who’s trying.

It makes them credible.

Be teachable

You don’t know it all.

Learn to appreciate those who came before you and listen to what they have to say. They have accumulated wisdom and life experience that could make all the difference in the world to you.

Listen…

You’re not going to re-invent the wheel, but you can improve the wheel.  

And you can improve the wheel by finding someone who’s been there before. Someone who’s willing to pour into you.

And then learn as much as you can from them.

So…

Drop the pride and drop the ego and start being teachable.

Be willing to mess up

Don’t let fear stop you from stepping out in faith.

Don’t let fear be your dictator.

Fear will tell you that you suck.

Fear will tell you that are not good enough.

Fear will tell you that you can’t.

If you are going to change the world, you will mess up.

And you will fail.

Don’t believe what fear has to say.

Instead…

Learn from your mistakes and failures.

And adapt.

There’s nothing stopping you but you.

There really isn’t.

So go.

Go and be a difference maker.

Go and change the world.

We need you to.

What Is Our Calling

Surrender

What is my calling?

What does God want me to do with my life?  

These are questions that I hear almost every day in some way, shape or form. Although these are good questions to ask, I believe we need to change our thinking on this.

We spend many hours searching for our calling (most typically that means a vocation)

We spend a great deal of money trying to figure out what we should do next.

And for the most part, I believe it’s all in vain.

Our calling is to surrender.

It’s that simple.

I mean, I wish I could come up with something that sounds really deep spiritually and theologically and give a complicated answer.

But truth be told, it’s not complicated.

We just make it that way.

When we surrender wholly, God will lead us, God will guide us, God will give us direction, God will give us purpose.

But surrendering is hard.

You’re right.

It is hard.

Jesus wants all of us not just part of us. (Tweet This)

And that’s the tough part, because as long as surrendering requires no change, we’re okay.

But the moment we realize God is asking us to change, we begin to justify our actions, or lack thereof, with some Christianese-type of excuse.

God just made me this way.

It’s okay, especially if it makes you happy.

I’m just a sinner saved by grace.

Surrender truly is dying to self. 

But surrender is worth it.

Is it always easy?

No.

Sometimes it’s painful.

Sometimes it’s messy.

Sometimes it seems impossible.

But that’s the point.

Because in the impossible, painful, mess that we call our lives, God comes, God redeems, God restores, and God leads.

And there’s something beautiful about that.