Are We Making Jesus Mad?

Are We Making Jesus Mad?

Everybody loves Jesus, right? I've never ever had a conversation with anyone who thought he was a jerk. He healed people, loved people, and cared for the outcast. He died a horrible death because he believed that he could save our souls. Even if someone doesn't believe the story at all, you can't not like Jesus. 

So what's the problem? The problem is a lot of people love Jesus, they just don't want to follow Him, and they're not interested in Him. Why is that? It's because they're not getting Jesus represented to them well. Jesus loves us and He died for us, but for a few weeks, I'd like to look at the side of Jesus that should make the church pause and pay attention, ANGRY JESUS.


Just to be clear, anger is not a sin. Paul said, “In your anger do not sin.” And Jesus, that everybody loves, one time made a whip, went into the temple, and drove out the money changers and overturned tables. This Jesus told people it would be better for them to have a rope tied around their neck with a two-ton rock attached and thrown into the sea. This Jesus called people names like “brood of vipers”, “unmarked graves”, and “sons of hell”.


Jesus definitely said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I am gentle and humble in heart." I think the world's idea that Jesus was nice is correct, so what do you do with “you snakes”, “you brood of vipers” and “how will you escape being condemned to hell”? This is Jesus too. Sometimes Jesus' words were sharp and biting.


When the son of God gets mad, we should pay attention because we can learn a lot about a person from the things they don't like. So, who was He mad at? Well, that's the kicker. I always knew Jesus was mad at the Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the law. Then one day I realized the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the teachers of the law were the church leaders of their day, and Jesus was a part of that church. As a matter of fact, this was the church that God set up. They were the people appointed by God for the purpose of enacting God's system of religion. 


When that realization hit me like a ton of bricks, I began to wonder if there was anything that caused Jesus to be mad at His church back in the day, that might be my issue as a current church leader. I discovered four basic attitudes that were the problem: legalism, judgmentalism, hypocrisy, and indifference to suffering. Those were the four things that flipped Jesus’ switch. In fact, we still have problems with those things today. 

The bigger “aha” moment for me was when I realized WHY those bad attitudes made Jesus angry. In every scriptural instance where Jesus expressed anger, the people who claimed to be religious and followers of God gave “love” a bad name through legalism, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, or indifference to need. When our religious attitudes get in the way of God's love, this makes Jesus mad. And, as I’ve pointed my finger at the Pharisees and Sadduccees, I’ve had three fingers pointing back at me. Search us oh God.


The real tragedy about this propensity that we have to drift from God's heart of love is what it does to those on the outside who are not part of the active church and may not consider themselves followers of Jesus. Jesus was mad at the people on the inside of the religious groups who were blocking the way for those on the outside to come into God’s presence. All Jesus ever wanted was for people to be reconciled to God the Father who loves each one. Jesus died so ALL could have access to God. He paid the ultimate price and it is an affront to Him when we, as His church, do not represent love well and push people away from God’s loving presence after Jesus paid such a price to provide for that access. 


Does that change things? Jesus' anger in the story of the temple took place in the gentile court and was directed at the religious people who were denying access to the gentiles who wanted to worship God. Those who already felt furthest from the Father, who were suffering the most, were being robbed not only of their hard-earned money, but of their access to God. It made Jesus angry because access to God is what He came to provide. This was something Jesus felt deeply passionate about. Jesus will throw tables, or animals, or people out of the way to get you access to the Father because He gave up His life to get us full, unhindered access. God wants us in. He's calling us in. He's never going to stand by and let anyone, or anything, keep any of us out. He came to reunite the lost children with their Father.


I realized at some point that Jesus was mad at the Pharisees, but the Pharisees were doing what they thought they were supposed to be doing. If I'm holding any of those same attitudes in my heart, if the current church is functioning in any of those same attitudes, we're guilty of the things that made Jesus angry. We will unpack this further in the coming weeks. I hope you will join us as we learn what makes Jesus mad and turn to those things that please Him.

Deconstructing Pride

Deconstructing Pride

Today, I want to talk about pride. A message on pride, for purposes of actual change in people’s lives, is a frustrating topic because the people who need to hear it don’t think it’s for them.

I want to challenge you as you read this article to be open to considering that you have a little bit of pride. Keep in mind that if you’re not open to receiving this message you probably need to hear it.

Most of us don’t typically see pride as a real sin. But God detests pride (Proverbs 16:5). No one wants God to look at us like we’re detestable! But, we tend to dismiss pride as a sin. For a different perspective, what if I was talking about lust and I admitted to checking people out. Your response would be “that’s gross” and you wouldn’t want to hear from me anymore. Pride is just as bad. 

Pride is not necessarily ego. Pride is tricky and can manifest by drawing attention to yourself by appearing pathetic. The end result is you are still after people’s attention for yourself. Our job is to put all attention on God. We want to show off who He is. Are you worried about what people are thinking about you all the time? You may be struggling with pride. 

Pride is a pervasive matter. No one wants to admit to it. Honestly, it’s easier for me to admit to it when I’m writing a message about it. Pride is usually why we get our feelings hurt and why we feel rejection. Pride is the reason we can’t admit to making a mistake. Pride causes us to take ourselves a little too seriously. We will resent criticism if we are prideful. Insecurity is a result of pride because we are seeking for others to notice and praise us. Pride causes us to see ourselves as overly important or more special to God than others. Pride will make us want to blame others for our problems.

Mark 7:21-23 gives us a list of things that defile us including pride. 

“For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

So how do we become humble? How do we develop a humble attitude? Humility is not a look. It’s not the way we dress or what we drive. Humility is not about letting people walk all over you. Humility is knowing that God is our source - that all we have comes from God. We’re created to bring glory to God. So often we want to draw attention to ourselves but we need to focus on and bring focus to God.

Humility of all the virtues is the hardest one to gain and maintain because we all want to be first and we want to be noticed and we want to be important. But, we must have everything in Christ and nothing in ourselves. I don’t deserve all God has allowed me to do and be a part of in the natural, but God can do anything with anybody who stays humble before Him.

When I started, I had a big vision with little reality. I kept pressing toward that vision and God, in His faithfulness, taught me humility along that way. I was insecure and wanted to be great and important, but I had to get rid of that attitude. It's humble people God can help. He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.

We are to have the same attitude as Christ. He is our example of humility. He came from heaven and took on a human body. He never defended himself. His depth of humility is unfathomable. He loved everyone even while He was mistreated. Instead of focusing on Himself in those moments, He was thinking about what those who were persecuting Him were doing to themselves. Those who mistreat you don’t know what they’re doing. He prayed for them! Jesus forgave them. He loved them. 

Humility treats everyone with care and love no matter who they are. Pride is boastful and high minded, thinking of yourself more highly than you should. We don’t have to think of ourselves as below others, but just not more highly than others. Have a servant’s attitude. Judging and criticizing others is the fruit of pride. One of the most important things that reveals our level of pride or humility is how we treat other people, especially people that we or the world might deem as unimportant. 

If you’re going to be in authority, you need to know how to be under authority. You need to learn how to be under authority without complaining and gossiping, even in the privacy of your home. It’s the words you’re putting out there that are the problem. Zip your lip. Use a glue stick instead of chapstick! When you are going through tough times that make you want to complain and be vengeful, remember, often the things that hurt you the most will teach you the most.

Are you in a dark place? God will give you treasures out of this if you submit to Him in the process. Pray for God to do what He wants with you. But be ready. Like a puzzle that has a lot of plain blue or green pieces, one by one as the pieces come together, the big picture will emerge over time as God does a good work in you. We’re each called to do something. God wants to use you. But it will only be under the condition of humility.

How often are we dealing with pride and don’t know it? It's a priority and imperative that you get your heart in the right place, and know who you are in Christ. God is not impressed by the positions we hold, but is drawn to our love, our hunger and our thirst for Him. After seeking His righteousness first, are we pure in heart? How are we treating other people that the world thinks are unimportant? Let’s work at getting ourselves off of our own mind. Look for those who are hurting. Work to bless and encourage someone else. 

Pray and ask God to show you every time you’re in pride. “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3 NLT).

Do Your Part

God has amazing things in store for you! Scripture says that the plans and thoughts He has for you are beyond anything you can think, ask or imagine! But maybe you find yourself in a place where you are asking, “God, where are you? I do not see you in my current situation. I am believing for a miracle but I am not seeing any movement. I am discouraged and becoming hopeless.” As the epileptic boy’s father said to Jesus in Mark 9, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” We must do our part. If we engage, as we worship, the atmosphere will shift. We have a certain amount of faith but we can increase our faith. We can break the barrier that separates us or holds us back from our victory. Have you been hurt? Maybe you have had a bad experience at church even. Is this holding you back from what God has for you? You can't hold someone in contempt because that person was foolish. Get to church. Enter into worship. Break through that barrier. Take hold of expectations. Expectation is the breeding ground for miracles.

As a baseball player focuses and pays attention to be able to run bases and get to home plate for a score, we need to focus. We don't need to be told how to run the bases. We just need to do it. Just run! But, as many of us have discovered, the need for miracles happens most between third base and home base. When we are closest to the score, closest to breakthrough, the enemy works harder against us, Weariness sets in. We begin to have anxiety about finishing. We may think God has forgotten us or that this victory wasn’t for us. We might begin to believe we were hoping for something that was not ours to have. Focus! Believe! Be intentional. Take time with God. Worship Him. Ask for Holy Spirit to open up Scripture to you so that you receive new levels of understanding. Then watch as God works on your behalf. Are you believing? Losing hope will keep you from running that last 90 feet between 3rd and home. Get with God and He will renew your hope. We add more faith to our existing faith through worship, learning the Word and prayer. Ask God to show you scripture that reveals His promises for you. Then speak these words, declare them, until your belief increases and you have added that extra pound of faith. Cut out those things that work against faith. Are you being critical? Are you complaining and confessing things that work against your victory? This is pollution and if we allow pollution, our faith gets diluted.

Jesus tells us to come to Him, we who are burdened, and He will give us rest. When we put our faith in Him, when we come to Him, faith will activate. God is cheering us on. Don't stop now. God is always talking to you. Are you listening? Are you looking to hear from Him more? The more you fill up with God's Word, the hungrier you will get. Faith is a muscle and for it to grow you have to stretch it and work it. Learn how to read and declare scripture so it pours out of you and affects those around you. Check out the story of Paul & Silas in Acts 16. They were praising God at midnight, in prison, in chains and their praise changed the atmosphere and broke the chains. Declare God and His Word in the middle of a storm and watch the circumstances shift. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God. Declaring victory coupled with knowledge of scripture will shift the atmosphere.

Listen for your direction from God through His Word and in your prayer time, then keep following the instruction He gives until He tells you a new direction. Just like the player on third base, stay the course and don't quit. Sometimes we let our guard down. We allow sin to enter in. But this pollutes and dilutes our faith. If you find yourself in that place, clear out that pollution. Confess your sin and He is faithful to forgive you your sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Then embrace what He is saying and be diligent to declare it. This will add to your faith. Remember to be intentional with believing for your miracle, be clear and concise about your expectations based on Scripture, and be patient during the process. God sees you on third base so don't quit now. Help others find their miracle to open your heart for your miracle. This is trust and surrender in action. Develop a hunger for God's word and get a passion for His presence. Take those scriptures that resonate with you and declare them. This increases faith. It gives God something to work with. Don't allow yourself to be desensitized, fearful, weary, or fatigued. Stop looking at the dead. Shift the atmosphere through worship, time in the Word and prayer. Declare your victory.

God is in the miracle working business but He needs your participation. This is the power of agreement. If you are working in agreement with God, there is nothing that can’t be done. You've got to have a victorious mindset and create an atmosphere of expectation. He wants to do exceedingly and abundantly more than you can ask, think or imagine. But, you must do your part.

Grab Hold & Don't Let Go

Today, I want to talk to you about praying - prophetically seeing, hearing and thinking what God is saying and doing in the life of your kids and household. It is important that we hear from God for our families and for our children through what the Bible says and through specific things God speaks regarding us or our family. Sometimes God reveals things to us and sometimes another person will speak things they’ve heard God say about us or our family. The thing to remember is that when God speaks, it will always be consistent with what the Bible says.

When we declare scripture or those things we believe God is saying directly to us, it not the understanding that is powerful, but it is the fact that it is spoken. Some things need to be declared. My wife and I have been declaring certain things over our son since he was still in the womb. You want to find the word of the Lord for your child and you want to speak those things over your child. The same is true for your family.

In Job 1:4-5, we see Job offering sacrifices on behalf of his children. This was an intercessory role. He prayed on their behalf, not because they did something wrong, but just in case they might have done something wrong. What an amazing posture. We should take this attitude as parents, not just to bring problems to God as they come up, but to be proactive and pray for them as they go through the process of life. We want to call out things that strengthen them for challenges ahead or events that are coming up. We want to be praying ahead of time rather than just reacting to situations and circumstances. Pray with your children every night. Pray over each of your children uniquely according to the gifts inside of them. Each one has gifts and qualities that God has given them for their life’s purpose. It is important that you are speaking into those areas and declaring God’s word over them.

When children come home with problems, help them find a purpose in those difficult times. Help them identify what they can learn from the situation. Use these moments to awaken hope and purpose for them. This is not necessarily prayer or prophecy, although this is always a good time to pray with them, but it is a good word in due season for encouragement. When you see things in your children, speak them. You see and you declare. Train them up in the way God has for them (Proverbs 22:6). We have got to learn to pay attention to the way they should go and then be there for them to support, encourage and direct when needed. Be careful that the words that we speak over them are constructive not destructive. Hard times will come and mistakes will be made, but these don’t define your child and they don’t define your family.

There are some things that we pray repeatedly because that’s the way children learn. We teach simple prayers to them and we repeat scripture, but we also need to encourage our children to hear from God themselves. Have them ask God if there’s anything that He wants them to do in their life that seems impossible. Help them see that God created them on purpose to do impossible things We also have the ability as parents to reverse words. We can openly and declaratively reject negative words that are spoken over our children. They are not identified by mistakes they’ve made. We know they’re not perfect. But we know God has great and wonderful things planned for them and this is what we hold to and declare over them. Give honor to qualities and efforts they make and brag on them.

Finally, find scriptures for your family and pray these words over them until they become yours, until they become true. Even when you’re children are adults, find, pray and declare scripture over them. Don’t stop praying when they graduate high school or college. Pray for them throughout their lives. Study and learn to hear from God for your family. Call out the gifting‘s and the personality traits for each of them. Take the things you see in them and pray them. We not only have to pray into the present but we have to pray into the future and declare what God is saying on behalf of our families.

Live Long & Prosper

Have you ever wondered, “How do I have a prosperous and long life?” Ephesians 6:2 gives us a key. Honor your mother and father and things will go well. Why honor? We honor because of the position. Parents may not necessarily deserve honor, but we are commanded to honor unconditionally, just because they hold the position of parent in our life. The position is designated for honor, so we have no excuse. So, how do we honor our parents through the course of our life?

As a child, we honor by obeying. We do what they ask and follow our parent’s instructions - willfully, cheerfully and immediately. I call this first-time obedience. God has ordained three authorities according to Scripture, home, church, and government. When we learn how to respond and relate to those in authority as a young person, it helps us throughout life. As a teenager, respect is valuable in showing honor. In Leviticus 19:3, God commands us to show great respect to our father and mother. It says nothing here about making an exception if they are flawed and imperfect. Forgive them for their imperfections, the good, the bad, and the ugly and treat them with respect. Another way is by listening to your parents. This proves your intelligence according to Proverbs 13:1. Foolish children do their own thing and go their own way. God gave you parents for a purpose, to help you become the person you were meant to be. Proverbs 6:20 says to obey your father’s commands is the path to life. But what if I am an adult? How do I show honor to my parents at this stage of life? Appreciate them. Appreciate your parents for their effort. They put up with you they whole time you were growing up. Appreciate them for their sacrifice. They went without things in order to raise you! Parenting is expensive. It's an unselfish decision to be a parent. Prov 23:25 says to give your father and mother joy. May she who gave you life be happy. Learn to value your parents and acknowledge that you understand that they've impacted you. Stay in touch with them. Call them and visit them. Provide for them as your roles are reversed.

God valued the honor of parents so much that he included it in His first, most basic and most important commandments, right up there with “don't murder” and “don’t commit adultery”. It's an important commandment with a promise for long life and prosperity. In fact, it is so important to honor your parents that even as Jesus was crucified and dying after a beating beyond imagination, He took time to make sure His own mother was cared for. He made seven statements while He was on the cross and one of them was to commission John to care for His mother Mary. Honor and care of His mother was that important. I Timothy 5:8 says that if anyone doesn't take care of his own relatives, especially his immediate family, that he has denied his Christian faith and he is worse than an unbeliever. We honor God when we honor our parents. Love is spelled t_i_m_e. Give your parents time. Show up. Call. Write. Text. Make time for them, to honor them and ultimately to honor God.

I know some are in a situation where parents were abusive or absent. What should you do if your parents hurt you? Face it and deal with it, so you can get on with your life. If you're carrying unfinished business, unforgiveness and hurt, you need to deal with it so those emotions don't surface and result in hurt of your own spouse and children, friends and family. Release the anger. Let it go and be healed. Forgive. Stop hiding. Stop blaming. Find a good counselor. Talk to your parents about how you feel if possible. Do the work necessary so you can move on with your life. Stop the cycle so it doesn't affect the generations that follow. Only God can heal you but it starts by facing the issues instead of pretending to be ok. Were you abandoned? Psalm 27:10 promises that the Lord Himself will take care of you. He never leaves you. You can turn to Him at any time. There is no indication in Scripture that we ever grow out of the command to honor our father and mother. And just as there is no end to the command, there is no expiration of the attached promise, that if you do this, it will go well with you. You will live long and prosper. Take God at His word and you will be blessed.

This Is The Day

This Is The Day

Palm Sunday occurs every year on the Sunday before Easter. Today, we remember Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The account is  in all four of the gospels. Jesus entered the city, knowing that he was going to be tried, and then crucified. But, he also knew he would be raised from the grave to save us from sin. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Weekor Passion Week, which is the remembrance of the last days of Jesus..

One third of the Gospel writings concern this last week of Jesus’ life on earth. This week, Jesus visited friends in Bethany on Saturday. Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, held a dinner to honor the One who performed this miracle. During the event, Lazarus’ sister Mary worshiped Jesus, anointing his feet. She worshiped, not caring who was watching or what people thought about what she was doing. 

This woman was so thrilled with what Jesus had done in her life and for her family, that she took her most prized possession, perfume that was worth a fortune, and poured it all out for him.

The following day was Sunday. This was Palm Sunday, March 30 in the year 33 AD. This date was prophesied in Zechariah 9 and in Daniel 9. The crowd shouted “Hosanna!” which is a phrase directly from Psalm 118. They were crying “Lord save us!” in verse 25. In the previous verse, we find that THIS WAS THE DAY that the Lord has made. This phrase specifically speaks of this day and prophecy is precise, 173,880 days from March 5, 444 BC when the king gave the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Palm Sunday was not just another day, but was prophesied hundreds of years before to bear witness to King Jesus.

Most thought Jesus came to deliver them from the oppressions of Rome. But according to Daniel 9, he was going to come on this appointed day and there would be a celebration, but after that the Messiah  would be cut off. In 33 AD, inattentive of the prophecies of old but fulfilling them nonetheless, the Pharisees saw the popularity he had gained and resolved to destroy him. God’s word reveals such great truths in every part of the story. As we spend time considering these scriptures, they draw us closer toward Christ and remind us that he indeed is King.

Many biblical prophecies were fulfilled during this week. Jesus came to earth to save humanity by dying on the cross on Good Friday (Passover) and resurrecting on Easter Sunday. By doing what he did, he swung the gates of heaven open, allowing our sins to be forgiven and ushering in the presence of God. Until then it was impossible for humans to be good enough to be in the presence of God, and be forgiven for our sins. Old Testament sacrifices were used to cover sin by the Jewish people, but Jesus was the perfect sacrifice once and for all, including Gentiles. He went to the cross out of his great love for you and for me so that we could stand in the presence of God.

The story of Jesus’ Passion during Holy Week started on Sunday with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem as a king which is why it was triumphant. Monday was Jesus’ first public act as King. He cleansed the temple symbolic of the cleansing he accomplishes in us, his living temple.

On Tuesday, Peter noticed the withered fig tree that Jesus had cursed. Jesus used this as a lesson for us  to have faith and recognize the power of forgiveness. The tree was a picture of what God’s people should be, a deeply rooted plant that grows leaves and bears fruit. Jesus will come out against the fruitless temple. 

Wednesday is widely known as spy Wednesday. There was a plot developed by the high priest and the authorities to kill Jesus. This is when everyone knew Jesus had to die. Judas made himself available to the plot and agreed to betray his teacher. 

Thursday we remember his last meal and the new covenant presented at the Last Supper. Jesus ministered in a personal and intimate way to his closest disciples and counseled them for the last time before his death. He revealed that the Passover meal would now represent his body and blood given for them… and us. He was the lamb that would bring freedom, sealing a new covenant, that through his death we would be free and through his resurrection he would be our King. We celebrate this act of God  today by communion when we break bread and share wine or juice, which represents the blood and the body of Christ. On this day, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment that we find in John 13:34,

“Love one another just as I have loved you..”

Friday, Jesus was arrested and the King of the universe was questioned, tortured and condemned, an innocent man led to crucifixion and death on the cross. He was betrayed and deserted by his closest friends. Why would it be called Good Friday? It’s called Good Friday, because by Jesus’ death, he became the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. Jesus broke the bonds of sin and death for you and for me.

Saturday would be his body resting in the tomb. It was a rich man’s tomb, which again fulfilled the prophecy from the old testament in Isaiah 53. Holy Saturday is a time for us to really lean into being present in the Lord, placing our own agendas at the door, and coming before him to simply just be with him. The Lord desires a relationship with us, and the requirement of relationship is time together. I would encourage you Saturday not to ask God for anything, but simply just spend some time with him. On Saturday, we remember everything was finished and there was nothing to be added. We join Jesus in his rest and we join him in the Sabbath.

Next Sunday, we will celebrate the day of resurrection. Jesus defeated death and the news of how God’s son died for our sins and rose again from the dead spread. He reigns today, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our King, who on Palm Sunday rode out like a rival king, who on Monday and Tuesday pronounced destruction on the temple and his final victory, who on Wednesday was prepared for burial like royalty and on Thursday announced the new covenant of his monarchy. On Friday he went to war with death on a Roman tree and on Saturday he rested from all of his work in Sabbath sleep. On Sunday, he rose from the dead and proved once and for all that he is who the whole Bible and this Holy Week claim him to be… Our God in the flesh… King of kings… Our Savior who reigns eternally.