The Pink House at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

A Kansas driver with Florida plates

Identification is important. We carry government-issued IDs to prove who we are and that we have a license to drive a car. You carry a library card to prove that you have a right to check out books. You carry a passport that identifies you as a person who can exit and reenter countries. You drive a car with a license plate that tells what state you’re from and even what county.

Well, the latter is true if you’re driving your own car. If you rent a car? Not so much. Example? Today is our last day in Miami, and we needed a car when we arrived here on Tuesday. So we rented one (a manly Nissan Versa … hamsters included). This car has Florida plates, but the driver is from Kansas. So we’re out on the highway with all the other millions of people who live here, and because of our Florida plates they think our driver knows how to get around in this city. Well … they’re wrong. I’ll let your imaginations fill in the gaps and just say it’s been an exciting couple of days.

Everyone carries identification of one sort or another. But not all identification that we can see is real.

The Pink House at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

The Pink House at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

The verses for today are Matthew 7:21-23.

Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

This is Jesus speaking, and even as a child, this set of verses chilled me. I struggled with my salvation when I was a young teenager because I just wasn’t sure that God had saved me, and every time I would see this verse, I would get really scared. Because how did you know for real if you were saved? What did it actually mean to do God’s will? I thought I was doing it, but was I really?

If I had read this verse in the Message as a child, I might have found some comfort because the context is a little clearer.

Matthew 7:21-23 (The Message)

Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance— isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

Serious obedience. Not just a show but doing what God says to do in Scripture. That’s how you can identify yourself as a Christian.

It’s so easy to sit back and see preachers on television or people doing good deeds all over the world and instantly put them in the Christian category, but I don’t know their heart. Granted, because I don’t know their heart means I can’t say they’re not a Christian; but by that same token, I can’t say they are either.

What matters is that I can say I am.

I don’t want to be that person who presents an image of Christ on the outside but on the inside is only interested in what “being a Christian” can get me. I don’t want to be that person who uses religion to rope people in and manipulate them. I don’t want to be that person who puts on a show. None of that is about Christ, and none of that really makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

Doing what Christ says is the only way to help others. Obeying the Bible. Listening to the Spirit and doing what He says. And being serious about it. Loving others and loving God, and then not only will you know for sure that you are a Christian, but others will know too.


A mind like an elephant?

Elephants never forget, right? That’s what people say, at least. I think it has something to do with how they can remember places and locations like traditional walking paths and burial grounds. Apparently, they just have really good memories. And that’s more than I can say for some of us human types.

People forget things all the time. I forget things all the time. I get so bogged down and crazy in my day that I forget all sorts of things, and even when I write down the things I want to remember, I usually end up forgetting something anyway. Best example is when I go grocery shopping. I will make my list out, and then I’ll forget my list. Or even if I don’t forget the list, somehow I still end up forgetting something I really really needed.

Why is that? Me, I think I’m scatterbrained. I know I’m busy. I think it’s a lack of focus too. There’s so much going on that it’s difficult to concentrate on just one thing. But sometimes concentration is what we need to make sure that we don’t forget something truly important.


Elephant - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is James 1:25.

But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

I think people forget (or maybe they never knew) that the Bible is an instruction book on how to live. It’s not just a collection of old stories that talk about God and miracles and people who dressed funny and floods and catastrophes. It’s one big story about how to live–and how not to live–and about the consequences people who made really poor choices had to face.

It’s full of wisdom. Practical wisdom. Step-by-step instructions on how to get through a day in some instances. But people don’t think about that. Even Christians get it in their heads that the Bible is a book we use to convince people that Jesus is God. And that’s true. The Bible does offer evidence that Christ is God. And the Bible offers all sorts of evidence about its own viability. But the Bible isn’t just a body of evidence. It’s God’s direct words, spoken to you and to me to teach us how to live and how to have a relationship with Him.

You can read technical articles and biographies about great Christians and 12-step programs about how to clean your life up all day long, but nothing else will teach you how to get close to God better than the Bible. And it works the same way as all those other books: you have to read it, you have to do what it says, and you have to keep doing what it says.

That’s it. Just like any other instruction book.

What good is an instruction book if you don’t read it? What good will it do you if you don’t do the things it tells you to do? If you’re building a table and it tells you to put Leg B into Slot B and you decided you want to put Leg F in Slot B, your table is going to look funky. Why? Because you didn’t follow the instructions.

No one gets upset at the instructions when they don’t follow them and their project doesn’t turn out. They just realize that they didn’t follow them. But when we don’t read the Bible and our lives go crazy, we turn on God and claim He doesn’t love us. What? How can He not love us? He gave us an instruction book. It was our choice not to apply it in our lives. And we have to face the consequences of that choice when things don’t turn out the way we expected.

The Bible is here for us. God gave it to us so we can know how to live.

Read it.

Do what it says.

And keep doing what it says. Don’t forget. Don’t set it aside like a checklist or a grocery list like it’s something so unimportant that you can remember it without effort–because you probably can’t.

And God says He’ll bless you for it.