Are you a good listener?

The old adage of, “I know you can hear me, but are you really listening to me….” seems to be a recurring theme among men that I talk to both in life and in ministry.  The real problem here is that when you strip back the layers it really isn’t just one-sided – rather, it takes two sides.

downloadCountless relationships find communication problems that start out small but end up monumental.  Others seem to let the little things pass them by and then realize over several years that these “minor problems” have become major and in some cases even ending relationships.

Why?  What is the root cause and how does it happen so quickly (look at the previous blog post and realize that we all have an enemy who roams the earth looking to devour – especially those who walk with God.

How to be a good listener:

  • Step 1:  Be a good friend and listen to what the person (wife/husband/friend) is saying without interrupting or hearing what you want to hear and interjecting along the way
  • Step 2:  Remember that God gave us 2 ears and only 1 mouth – I really think that this was for a reason:  Don’t just hear, but listen to what is being said.
  • Step 3:  Do not be quick to judge.  Be slow to speak and slow to become angry
  • Step 4:  When you decide to work on being a good listener, then put down the phone, the texts, and turn your eyes upon the one who is talking to you.  This instantly shows them that they have your attention and respect.
  • Step 5:  If you have distractions that you cannot control (phone, tv, computers, etc.,) remove them or mute them.
  • Step 6:  Body language – make sure that you are giving them every sign and body movement that you are engaged and that the world (at this current juncture) could end and that the only thing that matters is them.
  • Step 7:  Along the way, without being rude, cocky, ignorant or whatever could be deemed negative, ask the person to clarify when in doubt, or say something along the line of, “If I am listening to you correctly, I believe that you are saying…., or that you mean…. – and then ask them to clarify and then continue.
  • Step 8:  Be intentional with your new-found listening skills and ask relevant and insightful questions in regards to the person, the situation and the subject.  This will have positive impacts for both you and the talker as both are feeling validated.
  • Step 9:  Don’t force the conversation.  Even if you know that they are holding back or not ready to fully open (and even if you know what could be said next – Don’t say anything)  by listening and being a good listener, then you will show that you can be trusted (with listening) and that sooner or later that person may decide to open fully up to you.
  • Step 10:  Regardless of the level of conversation, do not devalue it or make it seem like it is not relevant.  Whatever the topic or the issue or the conversation show the person (spouse or friend) that they matter, they are relevant and you do care about what they are saying
  • Step 11:  Do not make light of it.  Do not discard it and do not blow it off.  If it is important to them, no matter what the subject, then value that person by valuing what is important to them regardless of your own feelings or knowledge
  • Step 12: Pray before you talk, during and after for God to lead you the way that you should go.  Listen for the Spirit to guide you to either encouragement, comfort or urging of that person.

top-activelisteningMen, whether we like it or not, God has intended us to be the Spiritual leaders.  That is a big necessity that is lacking in a lot of cultures.  Where are the men with integrity, honor, valor and the like?  Imagine if we all worked on being a better listener at home, school, work and community (and church) – what would that look like to those around us?  How do you think people would respond?

What are some of your steps?

Let’s hear from you,

Dante

When we get this, the rest makes sense

In John Chapter 8, we read about Jesus talking to leader of their time, those who did not know Him and accept Him as Messiah, and we understand Jesus’ very point in what is wrong in society today:   Galatians 5:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

John 8:42-4

English Standard Version (ESV)

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Understand this:

  • The Devil is a liar
  • The Devil is a murderer
  • The Devil does not understand truth
  • When he lies he is speaking his native tongue
  • The Devil is a liar
  • The Devil is the father of all lies

No matter what we think, say or do, we have to convince ourselves that Jesus truly means what he says about one of His Angels – the fallen Angel Lucifer – he is a liar.  Therefore, anything that is of God’s plan, Satan wants to destroy.  God said to us in Genesis – Be fruitful and multiply!  The devil says divorce, quite, hate (murder) those that you know you should really love.  God says that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, body and strength and the second is like the first:  Love our neighbor as ourselves.  The Devil says that we are to love self and hate others.  He wants us to gossip, slander, malign and be captured by our very lusts and pleasures in life (after all society tells us so greatly how much we need it).

Sometimes we hear people say things like:

  • I cannot wait to die and go to hell and be with my friends who love the world
  • You Christians are boring, what do you know about pleasure
  • Don’t be so rigid, live a little
  • How can a God of love cast people into Hell and the Lake of Fire?  I don’t want to serve a God like that…

Sometimes we hear and see Christians shrink behind God’s truth and our freedoms that our forefathers understood what is so important to us in this Country of ours the United States of America:

THE BILL OF RIGHTS

 

The first ten amendments to the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, set forth the priceless rights or freedoms that all Americans may enjoy. A brief summary of these great freedoms is given here.

 

FREEDOM OF RELIGION

 

The first right, or freedom, guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is freedom of religion. This right is guaranteed in the First Amendment. Freedom of religion guarantees to all Americans the right to practice any religion they choose, or to practice no religion at all.

 

Congress is forbidden to establish any religion as our nation’s official religion. Congress cannot favor any one religion over others or tax citizens in order to support any one religion.

 

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

 

The right to express your ideas and opinions when you speak is called freedom of speech. Freedom of speech also means the right to listen to the thoughts and opinions of others. This freedom guarantees that Americans are free to express their thoughts and ideas about anything. They may talk freely to their friends and neighbours or speak in public to a group of people. Of course, no one may use his freedom of speech to injure others. If a person knowingly says things that are false about another, he may be sued in court by the person or persons who believe they have been harmed by what he said.

 

Americans are free to express opinions about their government or anything else. They are free to criticize the actions of the government and of government officials. In a dictatorship, where the nation’s government has all the powers, the people have no right to speak like this. They do not dare to criticize the actions of the government. If they do, they may be imprisoned. But all Americans enjoy the freedom of speech, which is guaranteed in the First Amendment.

 

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

 

The freedom to express your ideas and opinions in writing is known as freedom of the press. This freedom is closely related to freedom of speech and is also guaranteed by the First Amendment.

 

Freedom of the press gives all Americans the right to express their ideas and thoughts freely in writing. This writing may be in newspapers, books, magazines, or any other printed or written form. Americans are also free to read what others write. They may read any newspaper, book or magazine they want. Because they are free to read a variety of facts and opinions, Americans can become better-informed citizens.

 

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY

 

Another priceless freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment is freedom of assembly, or freedom to hold meetings. Americans are free to meet together to discuss problems and to plan their actions. Of course, such meetings must be carried on in a peaceful way.

 

FREEDOM OF PETITION

 

The freedom of petition is the right to ask your government to do something or to refrain from doing something. The First Amendment contains this guarantee, also. The freedom of petition gives you the right to write to your Congressman and request him to work for the passage of laws you favor. You are free to ask him to change laws that you do not like. The right of petition also helps government officials to know what Americans think and what actions they want the government to take.

 

THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

 

The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. In the early years of our nation, Americans needed weapons in order to serve in the militia, or volunteer armies, that were established to defend our states. The militia provided protection during emergencies, too. Many Americans also believed that without weapons they would be powerless if the government tried to overstep its powers and rule by force.

 

“NO-QUARTERING” RIGHT

 

The Third Amendment states, “No soldier shall, in times of peace, be quartered in any house. . . .” Under British rule, the colonists sometimes had to feed and house British soldiers against their will. As a result, Americans wanted this practice forbidden under the Bill of Rights.

 

THE RIGHT TO EQUAL JUSTICE

 

The Bill of Rights contains many rights that are guaranteed to persons accused of a crime. Amendments Five, Six, Seven, and Eight are all concerned with these rights. Our nation places great importance on these rights in order to guarantee equal justice for all Americans.

 

A person must be indicted, or formally accused of a crime, by a group of citizens called a “grand jury” before he can be brought into court for trial.

A person accused of a crime is guaranteed the right to know what law he is accused of breaking.

A person accused of a crime has a right to a prompt public trial by a jury of his fellow citizens.

An accused person cannot be put into prison and kept there for weeks or months while awaiting a trial. He has the right to leave jail, in most cases, if he can raise a certain sum of money, or bail, as a pledge that he will appear at his trial.

An accused person has a right to a lawyer to represent him in court.

All the testimony and evidence against an accused person must be presented publicly in court.

The accused person has the right to call any witnesses to appear if their testimony will help him.

The accused person cannot be forced to testify or give evidence against himself.

If the accused person is found guilty, he cannot be given cruel or unusual punishment. If the accused person is found not guilty of a serious crime, he cannot be tried a second time for this same crime.

THE RIGHT TO OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY

 

The Fifth Amendment guarantees Americans the right to own private property. No person may take away anything that we own. Nor can the government seize our land, money, or other forms of property without cause, or without paying for it. The right to own private property is one of America’s basic freedoms. Our free economic system is based upon this right.

 

THE RIGHT TO ENJOY MANY OTHER FREEDOMS

 

To make doubly sure that Americans should enjoy every right and freedom possible, Amendment Nine was added to the Constitution. This amendment states that the list of rights contained in the Bill of Rights is not complete. There are many other rights that all Americans have and will continue to have even though they are not mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Among them are the following.

 

Freedom to live or travel anywhere in our nation

Freedom to work at any job for which we can qualify

Freedom to marry and raise a family

Freedom to receive a free education in good public schools

Freedom to join a political party, a union, and other legal groups

As a final guarantee of our rights, the Tenth Amendment set aside many powers of government for the states. This Amendment says that all powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution, nor forbidden to the states, are set aside for the states, or for the people. This provision leaves with the states the power to act in many ways to guarantee the rights of their citizens.

 

SUMMARY

 

Government is the authority or power that people establish to help them run their affairs.

Governments serve many important purposes, but the most important one is that government makes it possible for people to live and work together. Government provides us with rules of conduct we can follow. Government makes it possible for people to live by known laws, and helps provide many services that citizens acting alone could not perform themselves.

Our nation’s government is based on the American Constitution. This Constitution, together with its Bill of Rights and other amendments, provides us with a workable plan of government. The Constitution also guarantees to all Americans many priceless rights and freedoms.

Our nation’s government is based upon the approval, or consent, of the people who are governed. It is a federal system in which certain powers are given to the national government and other powers are left to the states and to the people. Certain powers are shared by both federal and state governments. In both federal and state governments, powers are separated and balanced among three branches of government.

———

Understand this:  The Devil wants to destroy the very essence of God’s will for our lives – to have an abundant life and to be saved by His Son – Jesus Christ.

  • Love the Lord
  • Let Go and Let God
  • Repent, turn and serve God
  • Seek first the Kingdom of God
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Don’t forget, the devil wants to destroy every good and righteous things in your life.

Blessings,

D

Time flies by…

As my family and I drove home from a parade in the town next to ours, I was flooded with childhood memories from when my mom and dad took my sister and I to parades in our hometown.  I love how my dad really did the little things that meant so much to me.  As I reflect on these things, my father is 86 years old and lives in assisted living near my sister nine hours away from me.  He is Parkinson’s Disease and is slipping daily both literally and figuratively.   My mom went home (to Heaven) in March of 2011 and I cannot believe how time flies by.

I posted this video from the movie UP as my family and I watched the end of this movie right before bedtime for the girls.  I YouTube’d the video and found the beginning of their relationship until the end.  There is a great secular book called, Tuesday’s with Maurie, and there is a line from the book that says, “Death ends and life but not a friendship”.  That is so true both in the secular world and in the spiritual world.  There is so much of my parents good in me that I cannot even begin to count the blessings.  Of course, there are things that I wished that I could have had throughout my childhood that I didn’t and things that I wished that I could have avoided and didn’t – the pain that came with it but wasn’t prepared spiritually by my dad (he wasn’t a Christian at those times).

timefliesbyI think when we treat each day as a gift rather than a burden we can begin to move toward a posture of gratitude and respect for the One who gives it to us each and every day.   Life is a gift and our breaths are numbered by the Creator who knows when each of us have an appointment to die.  There are simple truths in life that no matter what we do cannot be avoided – death and taxes and the Judgement of God.  With all this being said, time flies by.  1 Peter 3:7, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”  James 4:14, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are  a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

I remember when I was a boy there was a lady friend who was very affluent and she took kindly to me and my education.  Her nickname was Miss Lee (that is what all the kids called her when she was a teacher).  She was also an antique dealer who was doing work for my parents and she made me promise that I would finish college and also pursue my Masters Degree (which I did) and in turn of this promise she ended up gifting me my room with some collectibles that she gave to me free of charge.  My wife and I to this day use that Clerk’s Desk in our family room.  Miss Lee said one thing very provocative to me, “Dante, make the best use of your time, because when you blink, you will be my age.”  I always took that comment at a glance, but the older I get, the taller my children become and the gray in my hair are constant reminders of her truth.

What does this mean for our legacy dads?  What is this post saying to you?  For me, it is simple, there are things that have been slapping me upside the head this week that have become almost comical in my life and it is forcing me to practice what I preach on this blog.

For Starters:

I will…

  • …play more with my children
  • …read more with my children
  • …read more with my wife (more devotions and conversations)
  • …be more active in leading both physically and spiritually
  • …make the best use of my time through work, chores, playtime and rest

I will not…

  • …surrender time to my IPAD or Desktop or Computer
  • …waste time for lazy pleasure
  • …settle for mediocrity
  • …turn away from God by wasting my time

When I think of how fast things are moving by me, I can choose to be a reactive parent or a proactive parent, husband and leader of my family.  The only regret that I want on my tombstone is that my loved ones say that they wish more people would have gotten to know the influence I had in their lives.  The more people that could have looked a my life and instead of seeing me – they see the love of Jesus.

For me and my house, we choose to serve the Lord with all of our time, talent and treasure!!!

What is your choice today?

Blessings,

Dante

 

Perspective on the Stewardship of Time

timetalenttreasure

 

 

 

Psalm 90:12

New International Version (NIV)

12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

For kicks, I took a life expectancy test on the internet and here are the results that I received:

Life Expectancy Results

Life Expectancy: 86.90 years
Lower Quartile: 79.03 years (75% chance you will live longer than this)
Median Lifetime: 88.41 years (50% chance you will live longer than this)
Upper Quartile: 96.23 years (25% chance you will live longer than this).

?????????That being said,  I am currently age 46, which means according to this, I am over half the age that I have till I die.  According the the calculators, I have 41 years left before I go home.  In other words, I have 14,975 days, or (if I am calculating this right), 21 million 464 thousand minutes before I am gone baby gone.  As I am typing this I have a son who is 10 years old and two daughters (ages 9 and 7, respectively).

Psalm 39:4-5

New International Version (NIV)

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.

This past month, I have come to realize how important time is in my life as Prophet, Priest and King of my household.   Scripture clearly tells me as husband and father that I have these roles and that I am to die to self to serve others that I am responsible for.  Thereby, my son and two daughters, my wife and so on – those that I have immediate impact on.

Just thinking about this can be very humbling and intimidating knowing this plate that I have.  All of a sudden, if you are like me, a wave of emotions and thoughts come to mind:

What are my priorities:

  • Are my priorities aligned with God’s will for my life
  • I need to prioritize those things that matter most
  • I need to give both quantity and quality to those things that DO MATTER most and let go of the things that do not.
  • Do I possess the gifts and attributes to prioritize those things?  If not, who do I know that does
  • If I were to look at my IPhone, DayPlanner, Checkbook, would my answers correlate with these three things?  If not, why not

Let’s take some inventory:

  • How many hours of sleep do you get a night
  • How many hours do you work in a day, a week and a year
  • How many minutes, hours, days do you give your wife and children
  • How much time do you give God
  • Are my priorities in line with God’s
  • Who is my g/God (myself or God)
  • Looking at my checkbook, is my stewardship in line with God’s plan for stewardship

Let’s take a moment to be honest:

  • I am not being an effective steward of time:  True or False
  • I am wasting more time than I am using the way God wants me to:  True or False
  • I need to get sound wisdom on this topic and need to seek a mentor and scripture and God’s will for my life:  True or False
  • I am not sure where to find this (even in Scripture):  True or False

After reading through this again (for the third time), I find myself lacking in some key areas of my life.  I need to take stock of the “to-do” lists and the demand of time and how quickly it passes.  As I study myself in the mirror I notice a little hint of grey hairs and a hairline that has been receding.  I realize that my kids are almost all halfway out the door and I have so much more work and instruction for them – the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord.

The next few posts I will be walking through the Stewardship of time and where I am at in making what matters most – the priority of being a good steward with the time that God has given me.

What about you?  Where are you at on this so valuable of a topic?

Let me know,

Dante

 

 

 

 

Why not sex before marriage (nor outside of marriage) part 1

1 Corinthians 7

New International Version (NIV)

Concerning Married Life

 

7 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Noise

noise

prayer.warnoun

1. sound, especially of a loud, harsh, or confused kind: deafening noises.
2. a sound of any kind: to hear a noise at the door.
3. loud shouting, outcry, or clamor.
4. a non-harmonious or discordant group of sounds.

So expanding this definition to Spiritual noise, one can infer that it is a loud, hard and confused kind usually led by either 1) our old sin nature (past sins, temptations and son on) or 2) demonic influence.  There is Spiritual warfare, whether we want to acknowledge or deny it.  We read in Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.   This past week, as I have been preparing my heart for Easter Weekend, I have been listening to The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis and I have also been reading the Book of John.The central theme that I have taken from both readings is that God loves us so much that He gave us His only Son.   That He sent Jesus to atone for our sins by death on an old rugged cross.  That Jesus was born of a virgin, raised on this earth, died on a cross and in three days he rose again and now sits at the right hand of God.  I have also read that the devil hates the Family (whether spiritual or biological).  The evil one wants nothing more than to destroy everything that is good and from God.  The devil wants to destroy the family.

How do you no whether or not you have spiritual noise in your life:
Sexual immorality (anything impure or lustful)
Impurity
Sensuality
Idolatry (of TV, Sports, Travel-League Sports, Hobbies and anything that comes before God that distorts truth in your life)
  • Sorcery
  • enmity
  • Strife
  • Jealousy
  • Fits of Anger
  • Rivalries
  • Dissensions
  • Divisions
  • Envy
  • Drunkenness
  • Orgies
  • And the things like the list above

Some relevant quotes from The Screwtape Letters that highlight Spiritual Noise:

 

  • “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
  • “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”
  • “The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”
  • “Suspicion often creates what it suspects.”
  • “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”
  • “Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is took weak and fuddled to shake off.”

How much noise do you have in your life? What do you plan on doing about it?  How can you get help?  Why join a men’s bible study?

Thoughts?

Dante

 

Consider the Person

iam“Consider The Person”, from Pope Francis, “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. ”

Before I expound on this post, I wanted to share my struggles as a husband, father and legacy dad – First of all, I am a sinner saved by grace.  Secondly, I sin almost every day and on the days that I don’t sin, I sin even more because of my pride.  There is none righteous no not one.  Therefore, what hope do I have in salvation between the outcome of heaven and hell?

Whether you believe Him or deny Him, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man (woman or child) comes to the father but by me.”  This may be a very hard statement by an awful lot of people but don’t miss the message – Jesus was born of a virgin, was on this earth for 33 years, performed many miracles (thus fulfilling all prophecies about the Messiah), was crucified, in 3 days rose again and now He sits at the right hand of God the Father.

The Law of Moses, better said, the Ten Commandments was put on this earth not to condemn God’s chosen, rather, to condemn those who do not know His Son – Jesus Christ.  The list goes like this


Commandment #            Old Testament                                  New Testament (Jesus re-clarifies)

1st Commandment          No other Gods before God         Love the Lord your God with all your heart,  mind, body, soul and strength

2nd Commandment         No images (no idolatry)                 keep yourselves from idols (what’s before God)

3rd Commandment          Do not take God’s name in vain do not blaspheme God, His Son or His Spirit

4th Commandment          Keep God’s day holy                      The Sabbath is between you and the Lord

5th Commandment          Honor Mom & Dad                          Honor your parents with respect and joy

6th Commandment          You shall not murder                      if you even hate your brother – you murder

7th Commandment          You shall not commit adultery    if you even lust – you commit adultery

8th Commandment          you shall not steal                            don’t even think about stealing

9th Commandment          you shall not bear false witness do not lie about your brother or sister

10th Commandment        You shall not covet                          the word reveals this often

I have to apologize about the term, Christian, for many wear that badge of honor but truly not many know the cost of being a disciple.  If you truly define yourself as Christian then the world really should see Jesus and not our sinful self – and our diluted version.  Because if we are really honest so many Christians let ignorance (not knowing the Truth) stand in their way of the transformation of the Gospel.  That is, simply said, that

I have issue with the following situations:

  • How can a church that says it is redeemed and saved only by the blood of Jesus Christ turn others away when they (those other sinners) do things that are on the outside of our own very transgressions (meaning the sin that we tolerate versus the sin that God hates?).
  • How can we say that sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, magic, jealousy, anger, rivalries dissensions and divisions, drunkenness and the like are tolerable, but homosexuality in our midst is outrageous? Or you pick your un-tolerated sin?
  • How can we judge others by the very standards that we refuse to judge ourselves? (You know, the proverbial log in our own eye?)
  • Why do we just isolate homosexuality as the unforgivable sin and not any form of sexual immorality (sexual sin).

Before you condemn me on some of my views just stated, I want you to know that I am a leader in my church (an Elder), I love our church and the pastors that preach and the worship directors who praise and the people who serve and the communities that we impact.  Our mission statement is a biblical mandate:  Reach the disconnected and grow the connected – I am overjoyed to serve in a church that stands on biblical principles and loves people as the Lord loves us.

I will be the first to admit that I do not believe or align myself with the Pope or other religions as I am a Christian who believes in my only hope to reach heaven is through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus did not come to replace the law, but to complete it- without Jesus the law condemns everyone.  Let me repeat that, without Jesus any transgression of the laws damns us to a hell that was intended for the devil and the fallen angels.

What the Pope challenged us on was to consider the person and not the sin.  That statement resonates with me for many reasons:

  • We are all sinners
  • No one is perfect
  • Even on our best day we fall short of the holiness of God
  • God is holy, holy and holy
  • We are not holy
  • Our sin separates us from Heaven without a blood sacrifice

There are two adages that I like to model my life by and three if we count Lance’s Esse quam videri:

1)       People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel – Maya Angelou

2)      “Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Frank Outlaw

3)      Esse quam videri means to be rather than to seem

If truly want to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ then you will take up the following daily:

  • Die to self, Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
  • Renew your mind, Romans 12:1-2, 12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  • Put on love, Colossians 3 English Standard Version (ESV) put on the New Self 3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your [a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[c] 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[e] free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

When you take these steps and truly realize that we are all in need for a Savior (who is none other than Jesus Christ) then we have a hope in God that no on (repeat over and over and over – “NO ONE” can take us away from the Father’s Love) then we are truly his disciples.

itisfinishedWhen the world looks at us, do they see Jesus?

When the world looks at us, do they see hope?

When the world looks at us, do they see love?

If not?  Why not?  Pray for God’s guidance and wisdom in taking this path with us today.

Blessings,

Dante