He Did It! ……No, He Did It!


If you’ve spent any time around children you’ve heard this line. It starts with a broken lamp, a crayon-inspired work of art on the bedroom wall or a knock on the door from the neighbor who has come to report someone ran through her flowers and trampled every one of her precious tulips. The “event” is usually followed by that look from mom that strikes fear in any and all children within it’s range and almost simultaneously the arms go up, the fingers point and the first terrified little voice shouts the accusation, “he did it!” followed by “nuh uhn! he did it.” What is it that is in us from a very young age that causes us to want to place blame elsewhere?

There is no doubt that we are all born with an unwillingness, or at very least, a reluctance to take responsibility when we are at fault. Even in the garden of Eden Eve blamed the serpant and Adam blamed Eve. For most of us our knee jerk reaction when faced with accusation is to point the finger at someone or something that made us choose to do wrong. Who hasn’t uttered the words “the devil made me do it”? Recent news stories filled with finger pointing, transferring the blame and complete unwillingness of people to accept responsibility for their actions has me thinking – why are we so unwilling to humbly say “I messed up. I made a mistake. I was wrong and I’m sorry”?

Due to ridiculously large sums of money awarded in court cases and a culture that glorifies and sensationalizes bad behavior, we live in a time when even those caught red-handed claim innocence by some reason or another or they label themselves a victim of a grand scheme by others to bring them down. We celebrate those who continue to break the law and offend and disrespect everyone on the planet yet never utter the words “I’m sorry.” (think Linsay Lohan, Kanye West, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, need I go on?) No matter how obvious it is where the blame lies, everyone seems to make choices with no thought toward consequences because they’ve learned to defer responsibility onto someone or something else. Most mornings I hear a news story on TV that begins with “Who’s to blame for _______?” (fill in the blank….high gas prices, growing unemployment rates, high levels of obesity in America, increases in government spending, etc.). I think one of the most unbelievable examples I’ve seen recently is a group of college students who sued their college because they couldn’t find a job upon graduation. Nine graduates of a New York law school filed a $225 million dollar lawsuit on the basis that the school they attended should have anticipated the current recession. No seriously, they did. Fortunately a judge dismissed the case stating that “although we all sympathize with those who are having difficulty finding work, their anger and angst are misdirected.” Other lawyers unsympathetic to the new graduates said “The people who are applying to law schools are highly educated, they know how to read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.” And the fear of litigation has caused many doctors, hospitals, school systems and companies to put in place preposterous policies to protect themselves. Extreme insurance costs have driven many small companies out of business and as consumers we pay the price through sky high insurance rates resulting from frivolous lawsuits. But all of that doesn’t seem to stop the mentality of “deny all, admit nothing and blame somebody else” which is prevalent in today’s society.

So again, why such an unwillingness to admit fault? I think the answer is really not  as difficult as it may at first seem. We are sinners, sinners who are filled with pride.  Pride is one of the most common things the devil uses to entice us into sin because pride is the opposite of the humility that, when present in our lives, points others to Jesus. Pride wants to take credit for favorable outcomes and place blame on others for the unfavorable ones. Pride blinds us to the reality of our situation by obscuring the truth. It causes us to overestimate our own righteousness and self worth which prevents us from repenting. Pride causes us to rationalize and justify our own wrong behavior. Pride masks our selfish attitudes which causes us to come to the conclusion “I don’t deserve punishment because I didn’t do anything wrong.” Pride has kept many from accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior because to admit our sins and acknowledge that in our own strength we can do nothing to receive eternal life requires humility and a reliance on someone other than ourselves. In his book Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis said, There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine they are guilty themselves.” We are all guilty of the sin of pride yet our pride keeps us from wanting to admit it.

I’ve thought too as to why the blame game bothers me so much beyond the obvious frustration we all experience when we see people pointing fingers when they have absolutely no basis for doing so. One reason is that I’m guilty of it and even though I repent I still sometimes find myself falling into the trap of blaming others instead of taking responsibility myself. But the reason that stirs a righteous anger within me is that there was never a more appropriate and justified moment in the history of our world for someone to point the finger and to say “they did it” as when God sent Jesus to die for our sins. He had every right to say “But I didn’t do anything wrong, why do I have to take the punishment?” Instead he chose to receive the punishment that we deserve for our sins. He took the blame for every wrong that we’ve ever done. He endured the beating and excruciating pain of being nailed to a cross when it should have been us. He took our place when He said “I am he” as the guards approached him while searching for the one they had already presumed guilty. He willingly gave His life for ours so that we don’t have to die an eternal death as penalty for our sins. He traded His perfect life for our imperfect one. My prayer for myself is that the next time I’m tempted to join in the blame game I will remember the humility of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He selflessly took the blame on my behalf and I will say, with a humble spirit, “I messed up. I made a mistake. I was wrong and I’m sorry”.

Sky Diving and Rocky Mountain Climbing


Several years ago Tim McGraw released a song called “Live Like You Were Dying” from his album by the same name. The song reached number one on the charts and earned McGraw a Grammy.  The message of the song was simple – live each day as if it were your last. Do the things that you always wanted to do, make amends with anyone you still hold a grudge against, show love to those who you hold most dear, and spend more time with God. Each of these suggestions are definitely things we all should be doing whether we are dying or not. But what if, instead of living like we’re dying, we chose to simply live like we really believed that when Jesus died on the cross He didn’t just die for our sins, He overcame the power of sin in our life?

Many people today say they believe in God and they believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. But the worry, fear, doubt and perpetual cycle of  sin in their life says they believe something very different. Still others are filled with guilt and condemnation because they don’t believe they are good enough for God to love them even though they have received the gift of salvation. The problem for both is that they haven’t reached a point of understanding the full extent of what Jesus did the day He died on the cross. They believe He died for their sins, which is vital for salvation. They also believe that all their past sins have been forgiven. But what they fail to understand is that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for all of their sins, He overcame sin.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we know it is not up to us pay the price for our sins. The price has already been paid and it only needed to be paid once. There is no need for anyone to keep paying the price. It is finished. When we accept God’s forgiveness of sin, it is erased from our life along with the power it has over us. We are set free from the bondage of sin and the power it weilds over us. But for many, they live their life as if sin still reigns over them. They walk down the aisle of the church to the altar, respond to the gospel and receive the forgiveness for their past sins. Then they attempt in their own strength to make changes in how they act so they won’t sin anymore. At that point they are simply practicing behavior modification when they should instead be surrendering their lives to Christ and trusting in His power to overcome sin in their life. Once we are saved, we are never separated from God. But those still trapped by the guilt and condemnation of past sin feel the separation that sin causes and for this reason many end up turning away from the church. They believe that as long as they behave a certain way they will be close to God but when they don’t behave “right” they feel as if they are separated from God, even though that’s not true. They believe God and other believers will no longer accept them because they have failed. They wrongly believe that they are the only ones who have done anything wrong and that everybody else has it all together so they choose to isolate themselves. And it’s in their isolation they become an easy target for the enemy. The message of the gospel is not about doing all the right things and being a good person so God will accept us. It is accepting God’s promise that we are forgiven once and for all and trusting in Him and the power of the Holy Spirit to change our sinful nature and transform us into His image.

However, knowing our sins are forgiven – past, present and future – does not give us free reign to go sin because we won’t have to pay the price for that sin. What it does do is give us confidence in knowing that no sin – past, present or future – has any power over us. We are free from the control that sin once had in our life and from the guilt and condemnation it made us feel. We do not have to live in fear that we will disappoint God. In His eyes, we are white as snow because our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. We do not have to isolate ourselves when we do fall short because there is nothing that can separate us from God once we are born again. We do not have to feel the pressure to be a “perfect” Christian because we accept that we are sinful by nature and know we will be forgiven when we repent and turn from our sins – past, present and future. We don’t have to perform for God to love us, but out of our love for Him we choose a life of obedience to His commands. We do not have to fear death and eternal separation from our Father because the Word promises that through our salvation we will spend eternity with Him in heaven. We don’t have to live like a prisoner bound by the power of sin because we are free through the power of God. Tim McGraw sang we should live like we’re dying but I say it’s much better to live like Jesus lived, glorifying the Father by living victoriously over sin. How much better would our lives be if we all lived like we really believed that Jesus not only died for our sin, He overcame it!

Fear of Commitment


When I hear the term “fear of commitment” I immediately think of a runaway bride. Others may think of a stereotypical ladies man who is afraid to commit to a relationship. But I want to share my thoughts on another fear of commitment I see in our culture today. Let me begin with the many worthwhile things that we regularly commit to. Some people are committed to their workout routine. They faithfully show up to the gym each day to ensure they fit their workout in before they begin the rigors of their busy day. This is a worthy choice because those who are committed to a healthy lifestyle are typically more concious of the foods they eat and are in overall better health than the occasional exerciser. Then there are those who are committed to their favorite TV shows. I admittedly fall into this category (don’t judge). Their DVR is set up and ready to record with the priority order set. Their personal plans revolve around their TV viewing routine. They will turn down offers to join friends for other events if it means they would miss an episode of their show. They even plan parties for season finales complete with a theme, food and decorations. There are also those who are committed to their children’s athletic activities. They sign their children up for a different sport each season and endure a grueling schedule of practices and early Saturday morning games all in the name of commitment. And under the same category of sports enthusiasts are those committed to their favorite team. They (we) clear their schedules to make sure they’re parked in front of the TV whenever their team (Jacksonville Jaguars) is playing a game that will air on national TV. And if they happen to live in city that is home to a college or professional team, they are sure to have season tickets and game day is an all day event of pre-game festivities and post-game celebration after a big win.

But there’s a different kind of commitment that is lacking in people’s lives today. Many people today find it very easy to commit to workouts, TV shows, sporting events and teams but can’t seem to commit to faithfully following God. Many easily find time in their schedules to ensure they never miss a day at the gym or a moment of their TV show but can’t find the time to attend a bible study or to show up to church on Sunday. Others are commited to ensuring they have much deserved time for themselves and what they want to do, but they can’t find any time in their day to spend a moment talking with God through prayer. Still others show up to the weekly pick up game with the guys or the Bunko game with the girls but for some reason have no room to fit some bible reading or prayer into their busy day. And even if you remove the Christian faith from the equation, there are many non-believers today who are more committed to their career, their hobby, their “cause” they support, or pretty much anything more than they are committed to their own marriage or family. We live in a world that will enthusiastically dedicate their time and energy to almost anything but fears committing to the very things that deserve their devotion.

But then it happens. There comes a moment in our lives when we need God. It may be a financial or health crisis. Or our marriage may be headed toward divorce and suddenly our priorities completely change. We begin to pray for God to move in our situation and make everything better. We cry out for God to heal our disease or restore our marriage. And while it’s a good thing for us to seek God in our times of need, He must be a priortiy in our lives during both good times and bad. We want God during those times when we need Him to move upon our situation but many are unwilling for Him to permantly move into their lives. Many times we run to God when we want Him to fix our problem but once it’s over we return to our own ways of doing things because it’s too hard to be committed to surrending our lives and completely trusting that God knows what is best for us. We want God to come into our lives like a fairy godmother and wave a magic wand to make everything better. We want Him to fix everything without any long term commitment on our part. It is during our times of desperation that God becomes our priority. But many times the commitment ends when the crisis is over.

As Christians we have become lazy in our faith, unwilling to put in the time and obedience that is required of us in order to experience victory this side of heaven. We agree that Jesus died on the cross for our sins – and because we believe, He is our Savior. But for Him to be Lord of our lives, we are required to submit our lives to God and obey His commands. To be a disciple of Christ requires commitment on our part. And commitment like that isn’t easy. It requires a lifestyle change. It means we have to rethink our priorities and make adjustments where our commitments are concerned. We need to be less committed to the things of this world – even the good things like exercise, children’s activities and entertainment – and be more committed to the things that have eternal value like connecting to spiritual family through the local church, reaching the lost, obedience to God’s word, devotion to our marriages, giving of our time and resources and our own spiritual growth.

Maybe it’s time to do a personal evaluation to see how you spend your time. What are you faithfully committed to? Do you rarely miss a day at the gym but consistently have excuses for why you can’t make it to the bible study you signed up for? Do you religiously attend every one of your child’s sporting events but regularly miss Sunday church services? Do you take pride in the fact that you’ve seen every episode of your favorite TV show without fail but you can’t seem to find time in your busy schedule to pray or read your bible. It’s time for Christians to get over our fear of commitment to our faith. It’s time we reevaluate how we spend our time and understand that for real transformation to take place in our marriages, our finances and our lives it’s going to take real commitment on our part – commitment to lay down our lives to the One who laid down His life for us. Once you experience the love of Christ and the indescribable peace and joy that comes from being a committed follower of Christ, you’ll never be the same. So why wait, it’s time to fearlessly commit to the One who committed His life to you. And when you do – you’ll never be the same, that’s a promise.

I Want Results


I am admittedly a fan of the show The Biggest Loser. One of the things I like best about the show is the unexpected twists and turns that keep you guessing as to what shocking game twist they will come up with each season to keep things interesting. The current season of “No Excuses” is certainly not lacking in unexpected game changers. In a recent episode, two of the contestants were so upset by the decision of the producers to allow all previously eliminated contestants from this season to return and compete for the opportunity to be in the finale that they quit the game altogether. Of the three remaining contestants who chose to stay on the ranch, Jeremy lost the weigh in and was forced to compete with all the eliminated contestants for the final spot in the finale. His situation made him so frustrated that he became completely distracted during his workout and was putting forth very little effort to participate. Dolvett, his trainer, noticed Jeremy’s lack of effort and pulled him aside to ask him what was wrong. Jeremy explained that he was mad and didn’t even feel like trying because he was now in jeopardy of losing the game.

Dolvett’s response was wisdom-filled advice that could apply to all of our lives. He told Jeremy that his problem was that he was in love with the results when he needed to be in love with the work which would lead to the results. He explained that Jeremy was only focused on his desire to get to the finish line. But what he was missing was trust in the process that would get him there. Dolvett encouraged him that if he loved the hard work and the discipline that was required more than his desire for the end result and he put his trust in the process, then he would achieve the result he was after. Refocused, Jeremy worked out harder than he ever had and was able to beat all the other contestants for the spot in the finale.

As Christians we many times become focused on the result (getting to heaven) and miss the process entirely (a relationship with God). I remember when I responded to the message of the gospel and the promise that if I asked Jesus into my heart, believed that He died for my sins and that I was forgiven, that I would spend eternity in heaven. I responded because I wanted to be sure that I would go to heaven when I died and I wanted God to bless me because I believed in Him. But after my initial response to the gospel, I returned to the same way of life I had been living by doing whatever I wanted to do, not what God desired for me to do. I returned to the actions and behaviors that had made me so miserable before and had created so much drama in my life. I returned to the very things that initially drove me to the realization of how desperate I was for a Savior. My problem was that I was in love with the result – I wanted to go to heaven when I died and I wanted God to bless me. But I didn’t want to give up my own desires in order to follow Him and seek His will for my life. I wanted the result without the process. I was unwilling to surrender my life to God in order to be transformed into His image. I wanted Jesus to be my Savior but not my Lord.

Life continued and I kept doing the same old things but expected different results because after all, I was saved now so I thought things would be different. But because of a lack of true repentance and surrender on my part, things were the same as they had always been. Through God’s grace, I ended up attending a church that taught about discipleship and Lordship – two terms I had never heard before. I learned that nothing was every going to change in my life if nothing ever changed. I had to stop trying to run my own life and trust in God to be the Lord of my life. I began to fall in love with the process of building a relationship with my Lord and Savior. I began to trust in His will for my life as I lived in obedience to His word – not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I surrended to God’s will for my life and I began to experience changes. I was re-focused on trusting in the process and not looking only for the results. I began to be more joyful than I had ever been. When everything wasn’t going exactly as I wanted, it no longer consumed me. There was much less drama in my life and I had peace even in the midst of challenges and difficulties. My attitudes and my behaviors changed as I spent more time working on my relationship with Jesus through reading and studying His word and spending time in prayer. I was encouraged and hopeful but no longer condemned. I felt freedom from the hold that sin had on my life and healing for the wounds that had been part of me for so long.

I learned from faithful followers of Christ who gave of their time to disciple me and teach me how to not just believe in God for salvation, but to follow Him as His disciple. I was forever changed because of their willingness to pour into my life. By putting my trust in the process of discipleship and growing in my relationship with God through obedience, I got the results I desired. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams and I am assured that I will spend eternity with my Lord and Savior. Now that’s what I call achieving the results you’re after.

Blind Obedience


Have you ever heard the term “blind ambition”? Most people have, but could you define it if someone asked you to? My son recently asked me what it meant and like most parents faced with a difficult question, I picked up my laptop and googled it. There is not an exact definition for the term but here’s the best explanation I found: “Blind Ambition is simply that.  You do not have a particular ‘focus’ as to where you are going, or what you want to do.  You just KNOW you want to do something, but where exactly you are headed is uncertain.  You can’t make up your mind, yet you’d do anything to anyone to get there as quickly as you can.  Make sense?  I thought not..but it’s true.”

It’s kind of like having a goal, having the ambition to reach the goal, going full speed ahead toward it but having no specific plan on how you will achieve the goal. It’s when you just “go for it” without really thinking it through first. Like the definition above states – it doesn’t make sense and you don’t know what the results will be but you do it anyway.

So that got me thinking. What if all followers of Jesus Christ practiced blind obedience – the kind of obedience that doesn’t always make sense but you do it anyway. As believers we don’t obey a set of rules, but as an act of love we are called to obey God’s commands not because we have to but because we want to. We shouldn’t need to know all the details and know how everything will turn out. All we have to do is to trust God and obey what He calls us to do. He is certainly not required nor should we expect Him to explain the “why” behind every opportunity He gives us to obey Him. God doesn’t need us to fully understand all that He asks of us. But He does want us to completely obey. Besides, we would be beyond overwhelmed if God showed us the “big picture” of every aspect of our lives.

So why do we feel such a need to know what’s coming next? Why do we find it so hard to just obey the step that God has placed before us? Pride and fear are two obstacles that get in the way of blind obedience. We believe we know better than God what the best plan of action would be or we’re too afraid to step out in faith and do what He has called us to do. What is it that you know that God has told you to do that you’re waiting for the full picture to develop before acting on it? Could it be that God is giving you the opportunity to practice blind obedience and to trust Him even though it may not all make sense right now? In John 14:15 Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commands.” It’s not complicated or difficult to understand. Do you love Jesus? Then just obey Him, even if it means you can’t see beyond the first step. What’s the worst thing that could happen?