How To Deal With Judas

Jesus had a Judas.  

We all have had or will have a Judas in our lives. 

My guess, you're going to have more than one.

We've all been betrayed.  But there is a level of betrayal that seems even more painful than most.  When one is determined to bring you great pain or also destroy you - it's usually expensive both emotionally and even financially.  

Luke 22: 1 - 5  1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.
3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

Why Judas did this isn't known.  The writers really had no interest in sharing that with us.  It is assumed by most that either his greed or his disillusion (or both) led to his betrayal.  Just so we are clear, the only thing that he betrayed was Jesus' position and identity.  But Judas knew what was going to happen because of his actions.  He knew that he was sentencing Jesus to death.  

A word about disillusionment.  It can lead to a fantasy reasoning.  When someone has created an unrealistic reality around themselves, your truth as a follower of Jesus will challenge their fantasy. Their response is usually rooted in their fantasy, which leads them to tell untruths and betrayal.  Remember this.  They believe what they are saying and will continue to do so even in the face of truth.    

So how do you deal with Judas? 

Acknowledge you have a Judas.  
At the last supper, Jesus did just that.  But I suspect that He knew that Judas was destined to cause Him some kind of trouble down the line.  Think about this.  Did Jesus recruit Judas to be His betrayer?  No.  He recruited Him to be His disciple.  Jesus poured His life and soul into Him just as He did the other 11. 

Anyone can be a Judas.  A spouse, a child, your best friend or even your business partner.  It is usually someone that you have loved and trusted.  Do what Jesus did.  He never said that He regretted sharing His love and life with Judas.  

Forgive Judas.
Jesus really had more than on betrayer.  Peter would probably be my #2 choice if I had to make one.  Denying even knowing Jesus is pretty cold.  But while Judas wouldn't seek Jesus' forgiveness, Peter would accept it.  If Jesus forgave Peter, He would have forgiven Judas.  

Forgiveness is powerful.  To yourself.  Forgiveness has the power to release you from pain, regret, anger, bitterness and a whole host of negative emotions.  

Help Judas, but know when to move on. 
As followers of Jesus, we are to do all we can to save our relationships in Christ and to help others keep their relationship with Him.  But there can come a time and place when you have to let it go.  God will tell you when that is.  When you move on, don't look back.  Pray that God will help them deal with later in their life.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to have grace and mercy with the people who betray me.  AMEN

P.S.  For some reason I felt that someone needed this blog today.  While it is rather long, it is the truth that you need.  

What Is a Cassette Tape?

How did the smiling thing go today?  I hope it did well.  I tried, but to be honest, I've had a headache all day, and it was painful to smile.

I'm going through some stuff in storage and cleaning out some old stuff.  I came across a box of cassette tapes and wondered what they were.  As I pulled them out, I realized that it was tapes of me from 10 and 20 years ago.  Sermons I preached in various places and different times in my life.

Then someone asked me, "What's a cassette tape?"  Really?  But this was someone born after 2001.  Did you know that everyone born after 2001 has never known a world without cell phones?

In the same box were some VHS tapes.  Google that if you don't know.

Then I remembered, I'm turning 55 this year.  What does this mean?  I'm not 45, 35 or 25.

2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Don't be distracted by the fact that time is marching on.  Instead, find solace in that your heart will never grow old and your spirit is eternal.  The body may disagree with time, but the mind and spirit don't have too.  

Remember, those people who ask you what a cassette tape is today will have to answer this question in their future.  "What's a keyboard?"  To which they will say,  "Really, ask Alexa." 

PRAY Dear Jesus, may I gain wisdom and lead a generation to put their faith in You.  AMEN  

Smile on Monday

For some people, it is the first day of their work week.  Ugh!
For some people, it signals the end of the weekend.  Double ugh!

Monday is the least favorite day of the week.
There are more heart attacks and sudden deaths on Monday.

In some parts of England, people don't smile until 11:16 am and gripe about it being Monday for a full 12 minutes.  I have a suspicion that we start later and gripe longer here in the states.

With all that said.  I will venture a guess that you may not like Monday, so let's change that.

Psalm 126:2-3 “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.”

What can you do? 

First of all, decide that you are going to smile more today.  We will decide on what you are going to smile about in a moment.  But you will never smile until you decide to do it. 

Secondly, be like Peter Pan and pick your happy thought.  Find something that you can be grateful for and, well, be grateful.   It doesn't have to be perfect, and it doesn't have to terrific - just grateful.  

Thirdly, Try.  Look at a few people in the eye and smile.  You can say, "Hi!" or something non-threatening.  But just smile.  What are you doing?  Sharing your gratefulness. 

That's it.  Call it a social experiment, but give it a try and see if it doesn't change your day.  Then after you have done it.  Comment below how it turned out. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to be grateful and smile today.  AMEN  

Happy Fathers Day

Besides my dad, I had many, many father figures in my life.

Rich Nelson.  The Royal Ranger Commander (that's kind of like boy scouts in a way) who showed interest in me as a kid.

Glenn Trusty and Darryl Billingsly, youth pastors, who invested in my life profoundly.

Tom Gotcher - a senior pastor who saw more in me than I saw in myself.

Ed Lawrence - my college professor who would listen to me ramble on about stuff, but welcomed me into his home and life.

Psalm 71:18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

There is a heritage of wisdom and faith that must be passed down from generation to generation.  For thousands of years, it was by word of mouth.  Then mankind started writing it down.  Now we Youtube it.  

But the best way is still through friendship.  Deep, valuable and long-term friendships.  So what can you do to be a mentor/leader in someone's life? 

Be trustworthy.  If someone can't trust you, they will never learn from you. 

Admit your imperfections.  You're not trying to create little copies of yourself.  So don't try to be perfect.  

Have integrity.  Like trustworthiness, but make sure what you do in secret isn't something that your mentorees would be ashamed of. 

Demand servant leadership from yourself.  Put others before yourself.  

I just want to say thank you to the men who invested their faith into my life.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to invest my life in the next generation.  AMEN  

Life Isn't Fair

There was a flash of light, a sudden explosion, I rose out of my chair two feet, the electricity went off, my computer shut itself off, I landed in the chair, the electricity came back on, and my computer popped.  

All of that happened in less time than it took you to read it.  Lightning struck nearby.

Both internet routers were dead except for one wireless signal.  My computer will not start up correctly, and the Ethernet card is now gone.

35 minutes on the phone with AT&T.  Yep!  We need a repairman.  Two router boxes, two repairmen.  (HUH?)  Will be here between the hours of 12 and 2.  They arrived, and two more hours later we are back in business.  I have figured out a workaround to get my laptop to work, albeit I don't know how long it's going to last, and I'm out a whole day's worth of work.

Now to keep things in perspective, I know that there are people who are in much worse shape than I am.  In fact, you might be reading this say, "Really, Jones?"  Hang in there with me, I'm making a point.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (ERV) I also saw other things in this life that were not fair. The fastest runner does not always win the race; the strongest soldier does not always win the battle; wise people don’t always get the food; smart people don’t always get the wealth; educated people don’t always get the praise they deserve. When the time comes, bad things can happen to anyone!

I'll recover from this mess one way or another.  It's not the end of the world.  But life isn't fair.  Bad things are going to happen to good people.  Some might say, "But I thought when I asked Jesus into my life, bad things would stop happening to me!"  Nope, not going to happen.  What Jesus promised was this.  

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Jesus' love and grace are fair.  Sin has destroyed life.  But Jesus will restore our lives through His power. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I know that life isn't fair.  But I also know that you are.  Thank you for your grace, mercy, and love towards me  AMEN  

I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up

(Phone rings)
Me: "Hello?"
Caller: "Pastor, I'm in trouble."
Me: "What is it?"
Caller: "I've started drinking again."
Me: "How long?"
Caller: "6 weeks now.  I can't stop.  What do I do?"

I've had this phone call, in one form or another, more times than I can remember.

Proverbs 24:16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

What do you do when you've fallen and can't get up?

Get help
- Family - Tell your family what your struggle is all about.  Sure, some of them might reject you.  But if you are humble about this and are willing to accept their love, I believe most of them will help you.

- God - Spiritual leadership and church do increase your chances of recovery dramatically.  The family of God is a place that practices love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

- Professionals - If you need to check yourself into some kind of rehab center.  Find one that is faith-based.  If you need to talk to a therapist/pastor or professional who specializes in your problem. Talk.

- Yourself - You're not perfect.  You will never be perfect.  You cannot be perfect.  Embrace it.  The pressure you put on yourself to be perfect is the fuel for your problem.  Remove the fuel and the fire will go out.

- Others - When you allow other people to play with your emotions, you will self-destruct.  Don't kill yourself trying to please someone else.

- God - The question you make me asking is, "Why God why?"  God didn't do this.  God is here to give you hope and a way through it.  But life isn't fair.

- Being in control.  The more you try to take control, the more out of control you will become.

- Trying to fix it yourself.  If you could, you would have already.  Stop it.

- Trying to fix it quickly.  There are no quick fixes.  It took a long time for you to get into trouble, it will take some time to get out.  Patience is your teacher and your friend here.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I love you.  I am flawed and in trouble.  I know you love me and I know that You want to help.  I'm asking for Your help today.  AMEN