I’ve always found the concept of the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ somewhat vague—I accept Jesus into my heart around age 10, and He lives inside me. What if I make Jesus’ living conditions—within my heart—completely uninhabitable? In truth, the prayer is more of a contract. Whether I hold up to my end or not, is to be determined.
The real question is, what kind of contract is it? Is Jesus buying or leasing? Have we been ‘bought with a price’, giving Him authority over our lives? Or is He merely a renter, unable to make any permanent alterations without petitioning us first?
Let’s say you’ve just moved into a new crib. All day long you’ve been moving in your stuff, and as you sit down to rest, you hear the front door unlock. WTF! [freak] In comes in the old tenant. And he’s just as shocked to see you, as you are to see him.
“Hey! What are you doing?!” you both exclaim.
If the home is legally yours, meaning, you’ve paid for it, then you have the authority to kick him out. But if you’re leasing, the landlord must be called to resolve the issue.
“Why the freak does he have a key??” you both exclaim.
Picture a scenario where the landlord mistakenly overlapped the rental agreements, and the old tenant still had a month left on his contract. How shockingly unreasonable would it be if he asked you two to co-habitate… “just for a month.”
As ridiculous as this scenario sounds, it’s what we do to Jesus. We give him the key to ‘our heart’ without taking the key from the old tenant, the flesh. When confronted with the issue, we insist that the two tenants co-habitate. In our defense, the flesh is ‘moving out.’
Not just a month, but years pass by. Our humble Lord has been sleeping on the couch while the flesh retains the master bedroom. As Jesus walks over to inquire about the flesh’s departure, He finds him in His bath robe.
“That’s it. I’m moving out,” Jesus says. “Tell the landlord I’m gone!”
But the flesh has no intention of telling the landlord, us, that Jesus has moved out. Why? Because he’s comfortable; he has the whole heart to himself! In addition, doing so would create serious alarm. After all, we still want Jesus in our heart—not as Lord, but as tenant.
Let’s consider our reasoning for praying the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ to begin with. Many of us invite Jesus in to stave off hell. But if fear is our motivation, then we will only do the bare minimum required to escape it. Just like a slumlord does the bare minimum to keep his tenant.
As far as we know, Jesus still lives here. But it’s just the flesh, wearing His bath robe.
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30
Several years ago, I was in a bit of a post-college conundrum. I lived with two roommates I didn’t like, but rent so cheap I couldn’t move out. To be fair, they weren’t the ‘loud-and-obnoxious’ types—drinking, partying, and bringing friends over. In fact, they were a bit nerdy--the quiet-and-obnoxious types!
We tried being friends, but it was clear that we were forcing it. Well, I was forcing it—they were both nerds! They got along just fine. And every ‘house decision’ seemed to be me against them. I wanted to move, but like I said, the rent was so cheap.
Then one day, one of the nerds notified us that he was leaving--woohoo! It correlated perfectly with the arrival of one of my best friends to the L.A. area. I managed to convince the other nerd that we should rent out the room to him instead of ‘some stranger’. He obliged me, and the rest was history!
The power had shifted in my favor; the yoke of geek-dom had been broken! And collectively—my friend and I--made his life miserable. It was not fair; we were the ‘loud-and-obnoxious’ types—drinking, partying, and bringing friends over.
I’ll never forget the look on his face when he came home one night—hoping to study—but the apartment was packed with 20+ people! Some playing poker, some playing X-box; all drinking and puffing.
Our roommate opened the door, looked around, closed the door and left! Victory is mine!
This is our house now--you nerd!
For months we completely ignored the concerns of the nerd. Even when he approached us regarding bills, we brushed him off. We made it virtually impossible for him to live there—so he decided to move out.
His departure correlated perfectly with the arrival of my cousin to the L.A. area. This house was no longer divided. We did what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. No nerd standing in our way!
I know this story makes me seem like a mean person, but my hostility towards him didn’t materialize overnight. It was the proximity to each other that exposed the differences between us. I got close enough to him to know that I didn’t like him, and vice versa.
(Now I’m thinking to self: “How the heck am I going to tie into a positive lesson?!”)
Many of us were raised to be Christians, and we linger in the faith because… well, the grace is cheap. It doesn’t cost us much to simply believe in Christ—in regards to His existence and forgiveness. But as far as having a relationship with Jesus is concerned—well, it’s a bit forced. We don’t like the same things, in fact, we’re virtually opposites.
But we would never say, “Screw Christianity! I don’t like Jesus.” Despite that our lives resonate, “Screw Christianity! I don’t like Jesus.” Instead of just moving out of the faith and declaring ourselves ‘ex-Christians’, we stay despite the polarizing conflict between how we live and how Christ lived. Why? Because the grace is so cheap!
Or at least we treat it like it is.
We don’t feel the need to outright reject Jesus, especially since we have friends under the ‘Christian roof’ who are just like us. There’s false sense of strength in numbers within this ‘now comfortable’ Christianity. Christ steps in, looks around, sees that we aren’t willing to change, and walks out. (Hebrews 10: 26-29)
We have made it impossible for Him to live here. Silently, He moves out—leaving us to our own devices. His exit becomes an opportunity to do more sin—which is what we wanted to do anyway.
There’s an immediate correlation between silencing of the Spirit’s conviction, and the increase of sin without qualm. And all this happens within the house formerly known as ‘Christianity’.
This is our house now. No Jesus standing in our way!
Christianity doesn’t belong to Christ, it belongs to us. We continue existing here because the rent is cheap grace. We do under the guise of ‘Christianity’ whatever we want—unchecked. This house is no longer divided, because Christ has moved out.
Knowing Jesus exposes the disparity between our flesh-driven lives and His Spirit-filled life. We either yield to Him—giving up the entire house—or revolt.
“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8: 7-8
One of the few things that helps lessen the daily drag of waking up, is the right song. The right song can motivate you—give you the focus to get going. As an adolescent, I began every morning with West-Coast gangster rap! It motivated me to focus on what was important,
Fortunately, I never followed through with the lyrics—much of which was in regards to assaulting people with little to no provocation. If so, I’d be blogging from a penitentiary cell where I may have studied the Quran, and the book I’m writing would be titled ‘Comfortable Islam’.
It doesn’t have the same ring.
But that’s beside the point—today is a new day. And I awoke with a slightly different song in my head--Give me Jesus.
The lyrics go, “Give me Jesus, give me Jesus, you can have all this world, but give me Jesus”. It motivated me to focus on what was important,
Unfortunately, I don’t mean those lyrics either.
Essentially, the song is saying that nothing else matters but Jesus—knowing Him is all I need to sustain me. But who desires to only be ‘sustained’? Everything else does matter after all.
There’s nothing attractive about mere sustenance. Consider this: would you be content if your lunch were a mere chicken breast—no seasoning, no sides, no ketchup. I love ketchup. But that’s beside the point. A mere chicken breast would sustain us, but it lacks the carbs, fats, and sugars we’ve grown accustomed to savoring.
Imagine that piece of chicken breast—once lonely on a plate—now surrounded by mashed potatoes, macaroni, bread rolls, stuffing, and most importantly, ketchup! Now this, is looking good!
In like manner, following Jesus isn’t intrinsically attractive. It’s often a lonely affair. For the few, truly dedicated believers, it can be discouraging when even your ‘Christian’ friends desire not ‘only Jesus’, but also the things of this world—revelry, drunkenness, material lust, and ketchup.
You would assume that they would have the same conviction as you, but they don’t. And now you look like a Jesus freak. To you, firm believer, I say, “Stay strong brother/sister.”
But for the rest of us, Comfortable Christians, who have widened the straight and narrow path—to the point where it looks good, it looks identical to that of a non-believer’s path--I say, “WTF.” [freak]
Why have we so egregiously (and sometimes comically) misrepresented Christianity? And why are we so comfortable with that?
Ultimately, we must come to grips with the fact that singing the song, Give me Jesus, isn’t genuine. We’re singing lies. Truthfully, what we want is this world, with a side of Jesus.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” 1 John 2:15
Dear Heavenly Father, we’re gathered here before you, humble swingers, asking you to bless this orgy. Thank you for providing us with alcohol and drugs-—mainly the Viagra! We pray for all the participants—-mainly the buxom blonde whose nurturing chest you have shined upon with voluptuous favor. To whom much is given, much is expected! And Lord, we also trust in you to protect us against STDs. Bless this time of carnal indulgence, in your Holy Name.
And the people said…
I assume you have either stopped reading or are waiting for a darn good explanation. Nobody prays before they commit a sin! Or do they?
What if the sin is no longer considered a sin? Allow me to explain.
The average American gorges himself on 3,000 calories every Thanksgiving Dinner--rivaled only by the pre-hibernation Alaskan grizzly bear! And what do we do before we commence? Give thanks to God! May He bless our carnal indulgence.
You’re probably wondering, what kind of puritan would attack Thanksgiving Dinner?
Relax! I will be excessively feasting alongside you! I’m not against gluttony. In fact, I am advocating for it—-and the expansion of this ‘Thanksgiving’ approach to other sins.
Do you even consider over-eating a sin? Sure you may think, “OMG, I ate too much!” But I’m guessing you have never fallen to your knees in repentance, groveling before the Lord as if you had committed a ‘real’ sin. No one feels convicted, like they may have been the moments after climaxing in the arms of a lover, or the arms of… themselves.
When it comes to gluttony, there is no shame.
Not only is gluttony a ‘real’ sin, it’s one of the Seven Deadly Sins! But we’ve made it completely harmless. So if we can justify gluttony, lets justify, well… whatever! Does that contradict Christianity? Yes, but if you’re like me, then you’re comfortable with the contradiction.
Comfortable Christianity—its time we practice faith the way it suits us. Subscribe to things you like, toss out things you don’t. And I like piggin’ out!
After all, wasn’t Jesus accused of being a glutton? (Matthew 11;19)
Now that we’ve justified gluttony, why stop there? Because it’s likely that, if we can’t control ourselves when it comes to food and drink, we won’t be able to control ourselves when it comes to lust, coveting, idolatry, gossip, etc. So whatever sin you have allowed to remain constant in your life, don’t stress it, just bless it!
If we can justify a ‘deadly sin’ and make it appear harmless, then what harm is any other sin? What harm is fornication, revelry, or homosexuality?
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, came out as gay… and claimed it was a ‘gift’ from God. Preach it brother! He has blessed, with God’s name, an act that contradicts God!
I encourage you to employ this tactic.
Your pornography addiction, is a gift from God! Your envy, a gift from God! Your sidechick, gift from God!
We are stepping into an age of progressive Christianity-—the old school, rigorous, discipleship faith… is outdated. In order to keep Jesus relevant to us, especially in a society where fulfilling the pleasures of our flesh is no longer deemed sin, we must tweak Christ’s hardline stance.
Jesus said, “He who does not obey my commands is not my disciple.” PFFT! We’re calling your bluff!
Don’t just take the shame out of the sin, bless your sin! For Example: Want a divorce? No shame, God bless my new marriage!
Not seeing sin as sin allows us to pretend that we still have a relationship with Christ. So let’s gather together, and give thanks as we indulge in the flesh--in His Holy Name.
And the people said…
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Nowadays, there’s much talk of side-chickery. It seems that less and less people are faithful, and suspicion is at an all-time high. Why?
Well, there are three main reasons:
1) A lack of integrity
2) Less value placed on relationships
3) Greater accessibility to others who also lack integrity and devalue relationships
It used to be said that ‘men are dogs’, but now many women are just as unscrupulous. These girls don’t want your hand in marriage, they just want one night. And depending on how that goes, two nights. So on and so forth.
I recently overheard a girl admitting to her friends, “I feel so bad, I grinded a married guy. But he was so hot!!” It reminded me of a time when I was approached by a woman who had made her intentions very clear upon introducing herself. Now, I sharply informed her-—while flashing my wedding ring—-that I was married. With the savvy of a Hollywood hotshot-attorney, she replied with the most cunning and unapologetic rebuttal.
I was stunned-- ill prepared for such a compelling response. “I’m married,” usually works. (and if my wife is reading this, IT ALWAYS WORKS!)
In hindsight, the best thing to do in that situation is to starting yelling progressively louder, “Jesus! Jesus!! JESUS!!!”
Next time, I’ll be prepared!
“Come at me, girl.” (or ‘bro’ depending on your cross to bear)
The wedding ring no longer means, “I’m off of the market.” It now means, “I’m on the black market.” (not to be confused with jungle fever, ‘black market’ means relations are possible in the shadows) Essentially, the wedding ring means, “You can call me, but not after I get home.”
The best side chicks or side guys know when to call. They don’t bust you out, embarrass you, or put you in a tight spot. They may even remind you to erase your messages! Ultimately, a side chick calls you when you’re free, when she knows you’re not with your …real love. (If you wanna call it that)
Christianity, in essence, is a faith that believes God created us to fellowship with Him. But we’re constantly distracted, constantly cheating with the lust of our flesh (sexual desires), the lust of our eyes (material desires), and pride. These three things are the root cause to all of our sinful behavior.
Christianity is a relationship. But the flesh knows when to call. It knows you’re in a ‘committed’ relationship, it doesn’t care. It’s not trying to break you up with your religion; it’s trying to get you to compromise--perpetually.
A side chick can only offer pleasure. You aren’t going to build a family with a side chick (unless of course, she gets promoted to main chick). Any children birthed as a result of side-chickery, will be bastards. Most likely you will not take responsibility, at least not publicly. You can’t. You’re with someone else.
Likewise, when sin is birthed through spiritual infidelity, we try to gloss over it. We’re in a relationship with Christ, and facing sin means we have to decide who we’re going to be with… the spirit or the flesh.
A side chick (or guy) may offer a thrill. Jesus can get boring. I mean seriously, on Friday night are you gonna get turnt up or go to Bible study? Maybe you should split the night and get turnt up before Bible study!
See what I mean.
But there’s a problem that arises when we try to break-up with the ‘side-chick’. She could be crazy. You don’t realize this until you try to leave her. If she’s happy with just a piece of you, why take that away!?!
Why? Well… to focus on the relationship that you value more.
But she followed all the good side-chick rules, why are you doing this? She refuses. No.
This side-chick doesn’t love you, she’s obsessed with you. And the only way you can break free from an obsessed side-chick--in the literal sense--is if she has someone else. But for the flesh, there is no one else.
It’s you or bust.
If you have a side chick--which I strongly, strongly discourage—don’t piss her off. She will dump out your dirt and show everyone who you really are—a man (or woman) of no integrity. Ultimately, the side-chick will make a mockery of the relationship that actually matters.
As Comfortable Christians, we’ve either glossed over sin in our lives, or have allowed the flesh to expose us for who we are—a Christian with no integrity.
Our flesh exposes to everyone how much we actually value our faith-—making a mockery of it!
So what’s the solution? Kill the side-chick! In the allegorical sense, not the actual sense. I repeat, do not kill an actual side chick! The last thing I need is to be subpoenaed to a case where a Christian murderer was inspired by my writing.
But seriously, this affair we have with our flesh will not end diplomatically. It an obsession, one that—in the end--proves itself void of real substance. And if we truly value our relationship with Christ, we must not offer any part of ourselves to the flesh-—the spiritual side chick. (Romans 6:13)
Kill the side-chick, every freaking day.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25
I must confess a guilty pleasure--I have a weakness for McDonald's. I usually order a Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese add Big Mac Sauce. The meal weighs me in at roughly 1,400 calories.
Now, this may not seem like a huge confession, but to a health freak who eats clean, works out, and condemns the eating habits of his friends, this is a dirty little secret.
I often go months, even a years without my beloved calorie infused burger. Then I crack; I finally indulge. And it feels so good. Then it feels so bad. Either way, I crave it the next day! Something inside me desires more of the very thing I publicly condemn.
Does that make me a hypocrite?
If you’ve ever let your weight spiral out of control like I have, but then managed to get back in shape, you know the value of self-control. The last thing you want is to be in that place where it looks like there’s no recovery in sight, again.
Christians are often associated with hypocrisy, caught by the very sin they condemn. The problem can arise at any time, no matter how long we’ve been faithful. That’s why mature Christians, even pastors, may get caught in sexual sin. And virtuous women may find themselves gossiping and judging.
When we indulge the flesh, we crave more flesh. It doesn’t matter if we condemn the sin, we still want more. When we lose self-control, we keep feeding it until we don’t feel bad anymore. We just accept the fact that our beliefs and our actions are contradictory.
If you’ve ever backslid like I have, then you know what it’s like to look back to a time when you were relatively faithful. There was a time I was regularly praying, reading the Word, and checking sin… only to find myself in a place where I do none of the above.
But I still want to be associated with Christ… perhaps that’s what makes me a hypocrite.
"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." Titus 2:11-12
I’ve always struggled to consistently devote even a morsel of time to my ‘Lord and Savior’. Sure there were periods when my prayer-life was strong-—you know, the hours following a revival conference. Otherwise, I either struggled to stay committed, or I didn’t even try.
I’ve silently wondered why I have so many excuses. It’s always something. “I’m in a rush,” or, “I’m too busy,” or, “I’m too tired.”
I began to see that my relationship with Jesus was purely selfish. My interest isn’t in surrendering my day to Him, it’s enhancing my day through Him. He is something I go through with the aim of achieving a good day, or a good result. Jesus has been demoted from savior to personal assistant. He has become the mediator between goal and man, not God and man.
My prayer is usually in regards to reaching a point where I no longer struggle, in the material sense. Whether it be finances, finances, or even finances—I want Jesus to help me get to a place where I would be so comfortable that I wouldn’t need to pray. Essentially.
If my days have been relatively good--my goals within reach--do I need to go through Jesus? No. Prayer-time had become an enhancement, not a surrender. It was contingent on me needing something as opposed to me surrendering something.
Surrender, is what I fear.
I think of all the things I’m not willing to give up. I avoid prayer to avoid surrender. And if I must pray--given that I’m in a bind of some sort--it’s accompanied with a promise of surrender. It’s as if I feel that I must incentivize my supplication; my prayer is a bribe.
Obviously King Jesus can’t be bribed. So my aim in making these promises is to bribe myself. The purpose of prayer is to submit, to surrender. But since I’m not willing to do that freely, I must persuade myself to be bribed under my own conditions--granted that Jesus performs. If not, He has breached the contract and I will recoup any losses I had surrendered in advance!
Herein this lies the problem. The first thing that must be surrendered is my pride. I can’t obey my Lord unless I submit to His lordship in my life. The very things I fear that I may have to surrender are only secondary. It’s as if I’m promising God I will run, without learning how to walk.
He knows I can’t fulfill my promise. I know I’m not truly willing. Yet the question remains: to pray or not to pray?
I’ve got a blog to write, what’s your excuse?
"Your effectiveness and personal victory in Christ are linked to the time you spend with the Lord in prayer." -Charles Stanley
We all struggle with insecurity--from the teenage girl desperately trying to show cleavage, to the macho man desperately trying to hide it. Even those who seem to be perfect, or portray themselves to be, have their insecurities. As we age, we reassure ourselves that we've either ‘still got it’ or that it doesn't matter. But of course it matters.
Each morning we examine ourselves in the mirror, correcting and re-correcting until we’re satisfied, or come to the realization that we won’t be. Even our ‘selfie’ pictures serve as on-the-go mirrors. After examining numerous shots, we filter and post one. It’s what we want to represent us, even if it doesn't always reflect us.
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. 2 Corinthians 13:5
We can’t assume that we look fine based on last week’s reflection, so how can we consider our faith to be genuine without regular examination? The absence of prayer, reflection through the Word, and the existence of willful sin, should result in a struggle with insecurity. Instead we reassure ourselves that it’s okay, or it doesn’t matter. But of course it matters.
Imagine life without our own reflections. Grooming or applying makeup, would make us look even more ridiculous. And that’s exactly what religion does.
The world scoffs at our hypocrisy, they can see through our filters. Who are we trying to fool? We may want Christ’s image to represent us, even if doesn’t always reflect us.