It’s My Fault…I Blame Me

Watch this 3 minute clip before reading the post.

I got pretty emotional as I watched this video earlier today. I have seen this episode of Fresh Prince before, but that was before I started working with young people in our juvenile system and adults in our jails and prisons who went through this in their childhood and my thoughts on the matter have changed. Every day we work with men and women who are struggling to overcome abandonment, bitterness and hatred due to a father who didn’t fulfill his role. The purpose of this post is not to place blame on any specific person, but there are a group of us who have dropped the ball and it’s time we change that.

Let’s start with who I can’t blame. I can’t blame a father who never saw an example of a man loving and caring for his kids. Most of the men we work with (both young and old) don’t have a father figure to look up to. They are angry that they were abandoned, but they follow in the same footsteps because they don’t know any different.

I also can’t blame the kid. He is the victim who grows up to repeat the same negative cycles. He learns to look up to the guys on the street corner who appear to have it all together. They often have drugs in one pocket and a gun in the other. They got the car, the money, the women and they get to do whatever they want, whenever they want. They are what this young man sees as an example and they are the ones he looks up to.

At the end of the clip, Will finally let the emotions go and vows to prove “Lou” wrong. In anger he declares what he is going to accomplish without the help of his dad; college, a great job, marriage and kids, and he’s going to do it all better than Lou. Even though he takes his stand to break the cycles, he still wants to know why.

So let’s get down to it. Who am I pointing the finger at? Me…It’s my fault…I blame me. I spent the first 37 years of my life taking care of me and my family. I went to work, sporting events, fieldtrips and church and while all of these are important, I did all of it without inviting a fatherless child to join us. I insulated myself and my family from others who needed me.

As I have said many times since learning the realities of the fatherless, “I can’t blame the 19 year old who has joined a gang, deals drugs and commits crime, because I wasn’t there when he was 5 and the gang was the only group who gave him attention.” I take the blame. It’s my fault. I didn’t stand in the gap for a young man who needed a role model, and that is the reason this scene is so powerful to me. That is the lesson we all need to learn.

Will had an advantage that the men and women we serve don’t have. He had his uncle Phil. He had a man who invested his time. He had a man who was willing to become a positive role model. He had a man who loved him and taught him right from wrong. He had a man who stood in the gap. He had a man willing to be a hero. Without Uncle Phil, Will’s character would have been another victim of the breakdown in our society.

There are no easy answers. Relationships are hard. I was recently having lunch with a man and I told him of our need for men to stand in the gap for those we serve. He responded, “Wow; that sounds messy.” Yeah, it is messy. I’m not going to sugar-coat the truth and let you believe ministry is all fun and games because God calls us to get messy. If you are ready to be a man; a man who will lay his life down for another and stand in the gap, let me know. We will train you and we have plenty of opportunities for you to be a hero to someone who needs you.


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Where You Lead From the Pulpit, People Will Follow From the Pew

I think every church knows the mission. Jesus made it pretty clear in Matthew 28. We are to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe what Jesus taught. It’s not rocket science. It seems like pretty straight forward instruction on what Jesus wanted the church to be about.
Some churches are growing and others are in decline, but overall the church has a smaller impact on our society than ever before. Why? Why are churches ineffective? We have bigger budgets, more inviting buildings and the coolest programs that have ever been offered. So why is the church no longer relevant to the majority of our neighbors?

There is a long list of reasons why people don’t go to church, some are legitimate and others are just plain selfish, but there is one reason that cannot be denied. I don’t want this to sound too harsh, but I believe the biggest reasons are standing in our pulpits. This is not intended as a condemnation of our leaders, but we are going exactly where we are being led. We have great programs for those inside the building, but our church leaders are not setting the example and building relationships with those outside the building. They are not going into the community to reach the lost and hurting and the people in the pews are living the exact same lives as the leaders in the pulpits.

We all have a lot of responsibilities; work, meetings, social events, fellowship with other believers, family time, and church on Sunday mornings. Just like the leader, our schedules are packed and there is no time for us to fulfill the Great Commission, especially when no one is setting that example.

There are churches that hire someone to do outreach. While this is a legitimate role, that’s not the example of going into the community that is needed. That’s their job. They are paid to go into the community. They can set up programs and events all day, but they will not lead people out into the community as effectively as the person standing in the pulpit.

I was talking with a pastor earlier this week who told me he was ashamed to admit that he can go weeks and never interact with non-believers. It’s just not part of his routine. It’s not who he works with, it’s not who he hangs out with and it’s not how he spends his free time. Again, no condemnation intended. It’s the reality of his life. Just like everyone else, church leaders struggle to fit in all the responsibilities, but the leader has to lead.

The people need to see and hear that the leaders are lovingly engaging with the lost and hurting as a part of their daily lives. Church leaders need to come out of their homes and offices and begin to make a difference on the streets. Interacting with the lost and serving the hurting needs to be an everyday part of life from both the pulpit and the pew.

As important as all of our responsibilities are, GOING into the world is what we are commissioned to do. That is our call. That is why we are here. Jesus commanded it and the world is begging for it. Pastor, know this…where you lead from the pulpit, people will follow from the pew.


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Hope in Suffering


Do you suffer well? Have you ever found yourself trapped in the middle of a painful situation? Not the normal irritations of life we occasionally have to “suffer” through like rush hour traffic, being front and center in the longest meeting in the history of the world with a monotone consultant or Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

No, those aren’t what I’m talking about. I mean long-term painful struggles that you never planned for. One of those “how did I get here?” moments. You wake each morning looking for a glimmer of hope but every day seems to get worse and is darker than the day before.

Betrayal from a friend, being fired, facing financial ruin, a bad report from the doctor, divorce, loss of a loved one; the list could go on for days. We all face these times in our lives, but the holiday season doesn’t make it any easier. Everyone is supposed to be happy. We are expected to smile and be jolly at family gatherings that often bring memories of dysfunction, addictions and abuse that only add to the
pain. It can be a dark, lonely, isolated place.

Joseph was a man who could understand those times in life. He had the American Dream. Everything was going right for him, but God had a different plan. Instead of taking over the family business filled with position, comfort and security, He was betrayed by his brothers. I have often wondered if he could hear them making their plans while sitting at the bottom of that pit. After being sold into slavery he was
falsely accused, thrown into prison and forgotten. When finally given then chance at revenge, he saw God’s purpose in the events of His life. Joseph knew how to suffer well

“His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God. As for you, you meant evil against me, BUT God meant it for good. (Genesis 50:18-20)

Do you suffer well? We all say we want to live with eternal purpose, but do you get angry when God interferes with your life? Do you try to take things into your own hands? Do you grumble and complain?

There is no record that Joseph ever did any of these things. Joseph waited patiently and walked through life looking for God’s eternal purpose.

I don’t know what you may be facing in your life right now, but let me encourage you. Try to see things from an eternal perspective. It’s easier said than done, but this is a lesson that I have had to remind myself of many times over the years. We have faced financial ruin. We have faced betrayal from people we trusted. We

have gotten the bad report from the Doctor…but God.

We lost our house, but were never homeless. We fought through distrust and anger, but our marriage was restored. We faced the potential of cancer, but further tests amazed the Doctors because all signs were gone. God has used each and every one of those situations to bring us closer to Him and equip us for His purpose in our lives.

Is it possible that the very things that interfere with our plans, are designed to be a “but God” moment in our lives? When trouble comes…do we thankfully embrace God’s purpose? As I currently walk through a multi-year struggle I have to lean on David’s prayer in Psalms 46 and remember that God is in control.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Psalm 46:1-3)

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

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Take the Time to Smell the Roses

Classic Car

I love classic cars. I have never been a motor head, I am not good at fixing them and don’t find any joy in busting my knuckles working on them. I am not the guy who can tell you the differences in headlights, depending on the year, or even what kind of engines and transmissions are standard, I just like looking at them.  I think they are beautiful. Every time I see a group of classic car guys driving to a parking lot I am more than happy to follow them to take a look at their pride and joys.

I was recently driving down the interstate heading out for a little R & R in the mountains of North Georgia. I was making great time on Interstate 24 until I began heading up Monteagle. I was in the left lane moving along well and blowing past all the slow moving trucks, until I had to hit the brakes because an 18 wheeler pulled right in front me going 15 miles an hour slower than I was.

I was not a happy camper to say the least. He was barely driving any faster than the 18 wheeler I was next too. What a jerk. It would take him several miles to pass the truck and get back over…this was ridiculous. I started an imaginary conversation with the driver in front of me that went on for a several second until I realized something.

The 18 wheeler next to me was a car hauler and it was full of classic cars. My mood changed instantly. I slowed down and no longer worried about blowing past the “jerk” in front of me. In fact, I took my time looking at each car on the transport. They were beautiful. 

After the road was cleared and I was able to move on, but I was in a completely different mood. That’s when it hit me, if I had continued to focus on the truck in front of me I would have completely missed the classic cars. How often do we do that? How often do we spend so much time focusing on the negative that we completely miss the beauty that is right in front of us? Next time something slows you down, take a look around and enjoy the view.

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A friend of mine sent me an email a few weeks ago. His son was turning 13 and he wanted men who had been a part of his son’s life to pass on words or wisdom or encouragement. He would bind the notes and letters into a book and give them to his son. Below is what I wrote…felt like I wanted to share it here as well.

I heard a story once about how people who work at the Federal Reserve. There used to be a group of people whose entire job was to make sure the money that was being passed in our stores was the real thing. If someone passed faked money around it could really screw up our system and it was their job to keep that fake money off the streets.

There are several ways that they could have trained people to identify counterfeit money. They could have had them look at the best examples of the fake money that they had found; studying all of the flaws from the paper to the ink to the patterns on the bills, but that is not what they did. When they trained people to identify fake money….they had them fully understand what the real thing looked like. They studied and studied, they tested their knowledge to make sure that they were able to fully understand what the original true bill looks like. The trainers knew that for them to spot a fake, they had to know the true, real thing so well that they could quickly find flaws in the counterfeits.

I think you may know that I don’t believe in holding anything back. God asked Meredith and I to give it all to Him and we have done the best we can to try and follow through on His calling. We have spent the last 10 years of our lives trying to do all we can to fulfill the calling that He has placed on our lives. It’s not easy, it doesn’t always make you popular and sometimes it even makes you the target when people disagree with you.

So what are the things that I want to pass on to you?

1. Truth exists. There are a lot of people in this world who will tell you that there is no such thing as truth. They will say that truth is different for everybody and that what is true to you may not be true to someone else. Don’t believe that lie. Truth does exist.
2. Test everything. Become so familiar with the truth that you can quickly identify a counterfeit. Don’t waste your time studying all thing things that are false. Study the truth and test everything on the truth.
3. Be bold. When you find the lie…be willing to call it out. Don’t worry what others will think about you or what they may say. Be bold and stand up for what is true.
4. Do everything you do in love. People today are way too quick to divide and end relationships over disagreements. You may be called names and be accused of hating people that you disagree with. Don’t bend to pressure like that. Let your life of serving and loving others be so obvious that no accusation against you can stand.
5. The source matters. There are so many different people saying so many different things…the source of truth is of utmost importance. Don’t run here and there following the crowd and the latest fads. Truth does not change.

I don’t think it will surprise you to hear where truth is found. God has given us the source of truth and it is up to us to hold to His truth in love. Study the Word. Become so familiar with it that you can quickly identify a lie. Test everything against Scripture and be bold enough to be different and call out a lie when you see it. Most importantly, do it all in love. I have heard it said that we are to speak that truth in love…as Pastor Chris used to say – If someone is going to be offended, I pray that they are offended by the message and not the messenger.

You are an amazing young man. I pray that God will use you to change the world for Him. I will leave you with this verse that God has written for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you, hope and a future.


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The Wedding Ring

It was a beautiful Saturday; the kind of day that motorcycle riders hope for in late January – early February. It was still a little cold, but there was no way I was going to miss my chance to ride for the first time this winter. Every time the weather had gotten into the 50’s and 60’s I was busy at the pizzeria or we already had plans. I had to work that evening, but I had an hour or two before I had to go, so I climbed on my bike, stopped at the gas station and took a short ride into Franklin to grab some lunch before heading back to the house.
It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized that something was missing. I kept rubbing my finger, but my wedding ring was gone. I felt through my pockets and looked through the car. I walked the parking lot where I had parked the bike when I came up for lunch, but I could not find the ring anywhere. I got home and looked through the garage, the bags on my bike and in my gloves and coat that I wear when I ride. It was all to no avail; the ring was gone.
Fast forward to this week; I was heading up to work and, once again, I began to rub the inside of my ring finger with my thumb. I do that a lot…it’s a nervous habit I guess. As I rubbed and realized that the ring was still gone, I looked down at my hand and could see the outline of the ring that had been missing for almost a month. I guess it takes a while to remove the mark left by a ring over a 27 ½ year period. That got me to thinking about a couple of things.
My first thought was that the marks that are left on our lives from relationships don’t just disappear overnight. They stay there for a while. I know how easy it can be to think that I am just going to run away and start my life over, but the reality is we all still carry the imprint of our previous choices and circumstances with us. You can’t just make those things go away. The second thing that began to run through my mind was along the same line, but from a different angle.
My guess is that the ring fell off while I was getting gas. You see, since we bought Brothers’ Pizza I have lost 20 lbs on the “all you care to eat pizza diet”. You can eat as much pizza, pasta, salads and subs as you want, the trick is you work from 8 in the morning till 9:30 at night and never sit down…you just keep running and fixing and working and making and all the other things that are involved with owning a business, but I have gotten off track.
So I got to thinking about the person who found my wedding ring. I’m sure to them it looked like a cheap old beat up ring, which I guess is true at some levels. It wasn’t a very expensive ring and it did have a lot of scratches and it was bent and it had some dings in it. To the casual observer they would just see an old ring.
But to me; those marks on the ring represented a life of good and bad times with Meredith. There was the mark that happened when we were horse-back riding on our 25 anniversary and it was oblong from moving furniture into our house and it got caught between the couch and the door jam. There were also marks from when we almost got a divorce and I got mad and threw the ring on the ground and stepped on it. I suddenly realized that those marks represented the ups and downs of our relationship.
Now I can go and buy a new ring and start over. It will be all shiny and nice and round and everything about it will be perfect. But the point of this is, in time there will be new scratches and marks and it will get smashed in a door jam and the new ring will get oblong. It won’t remain perfect forever. It will go through trials and it will have incredible times too and each experience will leave another reminder of life and relationships on that ring. As nice as a new ring might be, I kind of liked the old ring and wish I had it back.
And I guess that’s the point. It seems that too many times we are willing to throw away the old, when things aren’t perfect, and start over. We think that a shiny new start will somehow make things better. We may walk out on a spouse, a job, family, friends and even our faith. When the old one gets too hard or just has too many bumps and bruises we walk away. If you’re interested in a little advice from a middle aged man with many regrets; stick with it. You may just learn over time that it’s the bumps and bruises that make the whole thing worthwhile.

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Several years ago I was talking to a friend and he asked “Rob, why are you always so serious about life?” Now I found this question to be interesting because this was a guy that I golfed with, we watched football together; we had fun together and we laughed regularly. So you can see why this question threw me for a little bit of a loop. I asked him what he meant. He said “We goof around a lot, but when it comes to how we live our lives as Christians…you get real serious. Why don’t you just lighten up a little?”

I have had that statement made about me several times over the last 10 years and most recently in the last couple of weeks and you know what, I do take the Christian life very seriously. I don’t joke about it, I don’t laugh at sin…I don’t find it very funny and I do everything within my power to live a life that glorifies God. I have never really had a good answer as to why I don’t find jokes about sin very funny, but the last time I heard it I started thinking about it. I wanted to come up with an analogy to better explain why I am so serious about my Christian life…so here it goes.

Throughout my career I have had several management positions. In each of those positions, and in my time as a business owner, there was always a standard that was set on how we behaved, what our work ethic would be and how we would treat the customer. There have been several times that I have had to reprimand someone for providing poor customer service, not following through on an assignment or having behavior that was not appropriate for the workplace.

I was written up once. I was working for one of the world’s largest retailers, whose name will not be mentioned so that I don’t violate any Copyright laws, but let’s just say that they are a big orange box Home Improvement company. So here’s what happened. I had a customer come in and he wanted to order thousands of dollars of ceramic tile. That was not a problem, except all the tile would need to be from the same Lot number so it would match. Suddenly, that would be a problem.

It would take hours upon hours of time to locate all of this tile from the 20 – 30 stores within a 5 hour radius. My time was already tight with all the scheduling and ordering that had to be done, not to mention and entire reset of the hardwood floor section. So I set the note on my desk and went about my job; completely forgetting about this special request.

About a month later I got a page from the GM of the store. He asked me to come to the office. This was not a big deal; I was in the management training program and was being considered for a promotion soon. I walked back to the office a little excited because I thought I might be getting some good news. When I walked through the door, my excitement stayed in the hallway. He was sitting at his desk, looking very serious with a “Corrective Action Form” lying in front of him.

From the name of the form, you can guess what the conversation was going to be about. The man had called and complained. I had let an $8,000 sale walk right out the door, but it gets worse. He was a builder who ordered thousands of square feet of tile on a monthly basis and he was mad at his old supplier. He was looking to replace them and if I had performed well, we would have gotten a big boost in my department.

Now the “Corrective Action Form” was just that; it was a tool to correct an improper action. It clearly laid out the situation, what level of violation this was and what the consequences would be if I did it again. Let me tell you, major retailers who focus on customer service don’t take to kindly to dropping the ball like I did. It was considered a serious violation and if this ever happened again…I would be terminated. Talk about a wake-up call. Well I went on with the company and everything was fine, but remembering that experience got me to thinking.

I take my Christian life as seriously as I do my job. In fact, I take it a whole lot more serious than I do my job. Luckily today, my job is a reflection of my commitment to Christ, but that is not the case with most people reading this. I don’t do this out of a legalistic requirement; I do it because I don’t want Satan to have a foothold to discount my testimony. Paul repeats this theme a lot and puts it in several ways, but the basic message is this. Live in such a way “…that God’s message will not be slandered” Titus 2:5.

As I put all of this together in my head I wondered, how different things may be if God used this type of a system. What would happen if there was the possibility of a Corrective Action Form to tell us what we needed to work on? Would we still spend our time the way we do? Would we change our spending habits? Would we spend more time serving others?

I want you to try something for me…how about you live today as if you could be written up by Jesus?


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Remember What’s Important

Do you have something that you’ve kept that reminds you of a time from your past? Meredith and I have several of these reminders around the house. She has the baking supplies that her grandmother taught her to bake with and I have a pocket knife and a Bible from my from my grandfathers. Reminders don’t have to be big and they don’t have to remind you of a special person. Maybe it’s a ticket stub, dinner receipt or a fishing hook from a special day that you always want to remember. We have several of these too, a goofy hat from a hot dog joint in Chicago, tickets from the U2 concert and a blue shirt.
I call it my “Remember What’s Important” shirt and it’s not just any blue shirt, at least not to me. It is a Roundtree and Yorke Gold Label with a herringbone pattern and a button down collar. It was my favorite shirt. I would wear if I had a big meeting. It was my lucky shirt. I loved that shirt.
One day after a meeting, that had gone very well, Meredith and I were headed home and I was feeling pretty good about myself. We stopped at the gas station to fill up and I noticed a young lady pulled over near the curb on the side of the lot. She was just sitting in her car but from her body language it looked like she may have been crying. Not wanting to look too obvious I casually walked around the van while it was filling up and notice her driver’s side rear tire was flat.
I finished filling the van while trying to rationalize all the reasons that I needed to climb in the van and head home…not stopping to see if she needed any help. It was hot, I needed to start the grill, and Laura was waiting for Papa to come home and chase her around the back yard. I climbed in the van, started it and put it in gear…as I pulled away from the pump I had decided to head home and start our evening.
That was when it hit me. What if that young lady had been one of my girls or, a few years down the road, my granddaughter? I would want an honest person to help them. I told Meredith what was going on, turned the car to cross the parking lot and pulled up next to her. Meredith asked if she was OK and through her tears she said “no”.
She was having a horrible day. She was dealing with the stress of being a single mom and had just had an argument with her boyfriend. She was on her way to work. The restaurant was about to get hit with a dinner rush and the last thing she needed was a flat tire. She was tried, frustrated with life and was now afraid she may lose her job.
I asked if she had a spare…she had no idea. I dug through the trunk, found the jack and an old spare which had obviously been on the car at one point in time. As I pulled out the spare I realized I hadn’t rolled up the sleeves on my shirt. Unfortunately, I realized it too late…my cuff had rubbed against the wheel, transferring years of road grime and grease to my sleeve. I was kind of surprised that I didn’t get frustrated. I was hot, sweating and had just ruined my favorite shirt…but I knew I was doing the right thing.
When I got home I tried to get the grime off, but it wasn’t going anywhere. I started to throw the shirt away when it hit me. That spot of grease hasn’t ruined the shirt…it has given it character. More importantly it has given me a reminder that helping a single mother is more important than a shirt. I stopped by her restaurant a week later and she still had her job. She was happy to see us and thanked us again for helping her out that day.
I still wear that shirt. I have kept it in the regular rotation to remind myself of what’s really important…and it’s still my favorite shirt, but now it has meaning.

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This post comes from an email I got from a friend. IT was so powerful that I asked if I could share it on my blog. So…here it is.

Today we went to the shelter, as we often do on a Saturday, because she likes to keep track of the dogs available for adoption. We walked into the room and there was a young black dog, belly-up on the floor, getting attention from the teen volunteers. There was the isolation crate where a new dog was observing from a distance. A yippy dog, active puppies, a braying hound dog- it was a mass sensation of dog melting into the aura of the room- each crate made a contribution. Except one.

To the left of the vocal, over-sized hound was a crate much larger than the medium black dog needed. Sitting near the front of the crate yet still drawn into herself was a sweet face and eyes nearly afraid to hope. I met her gaze as she moved closer to the door, wondering if I would touch her. Her eyes were hopeful, but her body language wasn’t anxious. She was prepared to be ignored.

As I began to pet her through the door of her crate, I felt her lean into my touch. Her eyes told her story even before I read the intake form on her crate. Her name was Addison. She was there because she had been rescued from cruelty. I felt a surprising urge to cry. Somehow, in the midst of the barking and the chaos of smells, I saw a glimpse of the little girl I remember.

Alone in a crowd, never fully retreating yet also never comfortable fully participating. Bold enough to stay silent, yet too fearful to turn away. Always watching. Always wondering if anyone will see. Hopeful yet fearful. Wondering what touch to expect. Hoping for kindness, but expecting- what? What exactly is it that sits hard inside my soul? Is it cruel? Is it love? Is it hate? It feels like shame, but who does it belong to? It seems to be mine to carry, but somehow that still feels wrong- as wrong as joy feels.

This is my life; a cage of doubt, living in the spaces that make no sense, inside a world where words are needed, but none can give me a voice. If you want to communicate, you need a message. I don’t know what to say. Help? But how do I know you can be trusted? How would you help me? How do I know you won’t leave me worse than you found me? Love me? I really don’t have a clue about love- it doesn’t feel like it seems to be in those books about goodnight kisses and laughter and safety.

I don’t feel comfortable drawing attention to how different I am, so I’ll just try to figure out how to be the way you want me to be. I’ll come to you, but you’ll never have all of me. I’ll laugh, but you’ll never understand why. I’ll cry, but you’ll never see me.

I’ll run, but you’ll never chase me.

I’ll hide, but it will be in plain sight.

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Satan’s New Scheme

Satan was dissatisfied with using the same old ploys to deceive people. His methods were working in several areas, but the numbers were struggling in the most powerful country in the world. So one hot morning, he called together all of his demons for a brainstorming session. He told them of his dissatisfaction. ”We can do worse…we need a new approach”.
All the demons sat looking at each other wondering what was going on with the boss. They had been causing destruction and breaking up families. They had introduced abuse, addictions and division to millions, what more could he want?
“We have done a good job with hurting people, but I feel like more damage must be done”.
One demon said “why don’t we start a rumor that Jesus never existed? That will get His followers to walk away.”
Several demons got excited with a new turn for an old lie, but they soon realized there was too much evidence and it wouldn’t work.
Another demon jumped up.
“I’VE GOT IT! Let’s tell them that if they follow Jesus they will surely be persecuted and die? They’ll be scared and surely turn away.”
A few of the demons liked the idea, but Satan reminded them that every time Christians have faced persecution the church has grown, but with that comment, Satan got a sly grin on his face.
“That give me an idea…I think I have the answer. Punishing those who follow Christ has always backfired…so let’s pull back on all the tormenting and no longer cause them pain. Let’s tell them that following Jesus is easy. Let’s distract them from the truth. Let’s get them to believe that if they go to church, sing some songs and attend a life group, their lives will be better. Let’s give them exactly what they want…A god that gives them everything they want.”
The demons looked confused. One of them said “But unholy lord, won’t everyone want to follow that Jesus…won’t we lose a bunch of our followers?”
Satan stood from his fiery throne and said “YES…yes we will. They will all want to follow a god whose main concern is their comfort and security. They will all serve a god who will make them all happy. This lie will have the following results.”
“First, they will no longer use their money to cloth the naked and feed the hungry. They will spend their money on air conditioning, sound systems and coffee. They will develop elaborate youth programs that teach their kids that the best part of being a “Christian” is the fun you can have”.
“Second, they will no longer visit the sick or those in prison. Instead, we will tell them that Bible studies, special events and life-groups are where they need to focus their time. We will get them so distracted with learning about Jesus…they will have no time to go out and BE Jesus”.
“Lastly, a God who wants them happy will cause division. They will divide over anything that makes them unhappy. We’ll get them to reduce God to what they can fit into their tiny little brains and get them to believe they have perfect understanding and are always right. They will fight over their understanding of God, the way that they worship and who they follow. This will REALLY come in handy every few years when they fight over their leaders. One group will talk about serving the poor as they retreat to their comfortable homes in their luxury cars. The other half will fight for morality while they sit in front of their TV’s and take in every sin that we turn into entertainment.”
“NOW GO!!!”
With those instructions, Satan’s team screamed in delight as they rushed out of hell and ascended to the earth…and the victory was won.

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