Living Life

Jesus, Me, and the Kitchen Table

Living Undefeated

I’ve been thinking about the apostle Paul (also called Saul) of the Bible a lot lately. Here was a man mightily used of God. He wrote more of the New Testament than any of the other apostles. He turned the world upside down preaching Jesus’ message of salvation and how to live. He suffered immensely for his faith. We are talking about a man who endured shipwrecks, beatings, stoning, imprisonment, and other hardships all for the sake of the Gospel. Different groups of people stirred up trouble for him in various places he went. This was the thorn in his flesh – those who stirred up trouble. His story is amazing. When we first meet him in the Bible, his name is Saul. And he wreaked havoc on Christians everywhere he went. He was a major persecutor of Christians. But all that changed one day when God got ahold of him on the road to Damascus. He was struck blind and the Lord asked him why do you persecute Me? This is not the whole story, but it is a great story of how God took a sinful evil man and changed his heart and then used him mightily!

Paul could have gone through the rest of his Christian life and been content to just go to church and be happy he was there. He realized and confessed that he was the chief of sinners because he had persecuted the Church, but he didn’t live a defeated life because of it. He had turned away from that life and had now embraced the Cross, and instead of hindering the move of God, He was advancing the Kingdom of God throughout the known Gentile world at that time.

Our world today may seem a lot different, and is, than the times in which Paul lived. But one thing remains the same. The Bible says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But it also says that once we accept Christ as our Savior, that we are new creatures, and the old man (the sinful man) passes away. We are new creatures in Christ. We are born again spiritually speaking. Our old sin nature is gone and we are now free to live a Godly life in Christ. How awesome is that! This is how Paul was able to live in victory. And the good news is, that we can too!

I hear a lot of people, good Christian people, telling others something like, “i’m a Christian, and I love Jesus, but I’m not perfect.”
It is true that none of are perfect, that there is only One who was perfect, and that is Jesus Christ. However, when people say this or even write it, I can’t help but pick up on a tone of defeat in their voice – even if the rest of the message was very positive.
So this statement of “I’m not perfect” has started to kind of bother me. It’s not because I think we are supposed to be perfect. But I guess it bothers me because I don’t think that is how we are supposed to look at our Christian life.

Let’s consider why someone might say this… One, they are just saying that they make mistakes. True. We all do. We stub our toe and it hurts, but we learn to avoid that bed post or whatever, or to put on shoes. We might slip up and say a “bad word” once in a while. But as soon as it comes out, we realize it and confess it as sin, and ask the Lord to forgive us, and then we try to not let it happen again. These are mistakes. We learn from them and move on and confess / repent and move on. So in that instance it is okay to think of ourselves as less than perfect – AS LONG AS we don’t let our mistakes defeat us and keep us from going after God.

On the other hand, let’s say the scenario is more intentional. Maybe someone is a “Christian” and they watch movies or listen to music that has ungodly content (sex, profanity, violence, etc.). Perhaps they have a pornography problem, a drinking problem, or anger issues. They know in their heart, if they really listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, that this is wrong. But since they “aren’t perfect” they are content to stay like this and go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays. They may even teach Sunday School or have another leadership role. But they are trying to lead when they themselves are defeated. They can’t do as the apostle Paul did. They are telling people, hey I’m not perfect but I’m doing the best I can do.

What if Paul had lived this way? What if when Paul was going around teaching about Jesus he had told the Corinthians, “I’m not perfect, and neither are you. Let’s just try to follow this Jesus as best we can. We probably can’t win many people to the Lord, but we can try?” Well I can be assured that things would not have turned out the way they did… he would not have been successful… he would not have been known as the great apostle Paul. Would he have been in the Bible, much less wrote a large portion of the New Testament? Likely, not.

But let’s look at how he lived and what he said.

In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he says, “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ.” NKJV.
Wow! What a statement from the man who thought himself the chiefest of sinners! That sounds a whole lot different than, “I’m not perfect” doesn’t it?

In another passage we read of Paul when he says,
14 “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. (Emphasis added).
– 1 Corinthinas 4: 14-17.

Now that is a leader, friends! He was saying follow me as I follow Christ! I’m showing you how to do it. Look at my life and see how to live, how to handle the people who mock you and make things a mess, how to endure hardships, how to live when there is plenty, and when there is lack, how to be victorious over sin.

So, let’s get rid of that defeat mentality. Let’s live victorious in the Lord, as HE intends for us to be!
As new creatures, sin does not rule over us anymore! We can put that old life behind us and are free to live for Christ.
If there are sin issues, and you really want to be free, the good new is, YOU CAN! The Bible says in Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Take it to the Lord. He will never allow His children to be tempted more than what we can bear. And when we are tempted he will always provide a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Live life undefeated. Pay attention to who you are following. The Bible also tells us that bad company corrupts good morals. Watch what you confess with your mouth. Be zealous for God and for his Glory. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you(James 4:8)! It’s hard to draw near to God if you let sin get in the way. So the first thing we have to do is get the sin out. After that, we can draw as close to God as we want to go – and He will be faithful and draw near to us! And finally, may the Lord bless you my friends and readers!


My Testimony

For some time now I have felt like I needed to share my testimony with you, my readers.

Without going into all the details, I was raised by my adoptive father, who was single. I’ll call him dad from here on out. His first wife had committed suicide and he divorced his second wife. He was a bar owner and worked there all day everyday and late into the nights. He was 55 years of age. One of his regular customers was my biological mom. She was pregnant with me and already had two children, I think, in the welfare system. And she did not know what she was going to do with me either.

One day after I was born she came into the Jolly Joker lounge, the one dad owned, at 11 in the morning. I was out in the car. Keep in mind this was in Houston, TX in the summer. So dad wanted to go out and see me. When they saw me, I was in the car seat with my hands tucked under my head on one side. Now turn the clock twelve hours to 11 PM that same day. Once again she came into the lounge without me. Once again dad and she went out to the car to check on me. Dad said I was lying in the exact same position as I had been when he saw me that morning. It was late and dad was not prepared, but he asked her if he could take me home that night. So she handed me over. She did send a bottle but there were no diapers, wipes, no diaper bag. Not exactly how you would send your child off to stay with the grandparents or something!

Once at home that night, dad did not have any milk, formula, or diapers. So he did the only thing he knew to do…and that was to fill the bottle with sugar water.  For a diaper he used a handkerchief and pinned it together. It was a great cloth diaper….the best he had at the moment anyway. Howeever, when he went to change my diaper, he noticed that I had horrible diaper rash…. we are talking sores upon sores…. the diaper had not been changed all day. It was then he decided to take me to the doctor the next morning.

The docttor visit didn’t go very well and dad left thinking that I may not live. This same doctor was surprised when I returned for my 2 week follow-up appointment. That was the first miracle. At this point, dad had spoken with an attorney. Mom had decided to sign over her parental rights to him. So at that point I belonged to him, and he became my dad.

Next, dad discovered that I could not see well.  He said I did not react the aame way other babies did to lights.  I diid not notice them or reach out for them. So he took me to an eye doctor who told him that I was completely blind and there was no use in hoping for any improvement. But he did not accept this as a possible outcome for me.  He had read where a mother carried her baby upside down and eventaully the baby started seeing.  Sounds cooky, right? Well, maybe so. But he did begin carrying me in a head-down position for short periods throughout the day, especially as he walked around the pool table in the lounge. One dday, I began reaching for the lights. And lo, and behold, I could see. This was miralcle number two! Wheen I was about three years old, I could point at pictures on an eye chart at the doctor’s office – something they thought I’d never be able to do! My vision is not perfect to this day, and I do have low vision. But I see well enough to drive with telescopic lenses.

Growing up, we nnever really went to church. In the sixth grade, we moved to a small town called Normangee, TX. I began attending church at a small interdenominational chapel. The Sunday school class for my age group was taught by Lillian McReeynolds.   Since the chapel only had morning services, she also attended First Baptist Church in Normangee.  I began going home with her after church in the mornings, stayng with her Sunday afternoons and then riding with her to church on Sunday nights to First Baptist.

I distinctly remember one Sunday nnight service. I was in the 7th grade and like a lot of the youth ws not really paying attention to the sermon. When we stood up to sing the hymn for the altar call, I started feeling really nervous. The feeling is very hard to describe. There was resistance, but at the same time Divine nudging. I knew I had to go to the front. I knew I needed to accept Jesus as my Savior, even though I really didn’t know how to say that… At the altar the Pastor greeted me. I told him what I was feeling and he asked me if I felt like I needed to be saved, to accept Jesus. I said yes, because inside I knew that was it! He explained to me what this decision meant and i was so excited! Words cannot express the pure joy that I felt when Jesus came into my heart and I was “born again.” It’s just like the Scriptures say, the old had been washed away, and behold, the new creature was born. I had been bought with a price, just like you have. The precious blood of Jesus washes all of our sins away. And that is the cleanest feeling you will ever have in your life. It’s the cleanest feeling I’ve ever had in mine. People said I was literally “glowing” that night. I felt like I was glowing! I just wanted to tell everyone what had happened! An evangelist I know, who has gone to be with Lord, used to say, “Every drop of His blood paid for every one of your sins.” – Steve Hill.

Salvation is a gift but it is not free. It cost Jesus His life. And to those who accept Jesus, we need to give Him our all. he is worthy of it ALL!

And even though the road has NOT been easy and I have faced what I feel might be more than my fair share of struggles in this life, I can honestly say, that I could not have gotten through them without Jesus to walk with and even carry me through. Dad passed away my senior year in college from a massive heart attack. He had his wish of dying either while playing the guitar or working in the field. He was at a birthday party singing and playing his guitar. He could quote Scriptures, but he was not assured of his salvation. I’d ask him if he knew where he was going to spend eternity and he would say that there is no way one can know.

I had gone a mission trip to Mexico with the Baptist Student Union and we had shared the Jesus film with the people. Upon returning from the trip, I shared it with Dad and he changed. Through this movie and our talks, I know he accepted Jesus as his Savior. I could tell a huge difference in his life. And I know one day, I will see him in Heaven, with the girls (his granddaughters he never met) and our Lord.