So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore – Part 7

It’s rough coming back to work after a 3-day weekend, huh!

Our weekends are always action packed. We gathered with family and friends to celebrate 3 birthdays, and 2 parties later of all-you-can-eat food especially cake and desserts, explains why I can’t tread water very well and sink to the bottom like a lead weight. Yep I got a lead booty. =)

Anywho, I’ll tell you about an experience I had in the middle of the night that will tie into Chapter 7 – When You Dig a Hole For Yourself, You Have to Throw the Dirt on Somebody.

(Free download of the novel directly –>[JakeStory5x8] or visit the author’s site:

Our house’s fire detectors are all wired to each other. When one goes off, every one of them sends a high pitched sound that makes you want to slap your mama. (I do not advocate slapping people; it’s just an express.) This was 2 or so in the morning that the detectors kept going off then stop for awhile then go off again. The alarm scared the kids and they slept with us on our queen size bed which if you got kids like ours they like to move around like they’re break dancing in their sleep.

Hoping that the alarm would just stop and even saying a prayer for a miracle, this made out to be a very long night.

I was now on a special mission to seek revenge. Arming myself with solutions found online, I was ready to open a can of whoop …. air. There was one detector going off because the sensor collected dust. I used a can of compressed air and a vacuum to eliminate the problem. Mission complete. The family was safe again. The wife and kids went back to bed…but not daddy. So what can I do at 3am if I can’t sleep? I watched my favorite show on DVD that arrived from Netflix – The Unit (Season 4). If you liked the show 24 with my uncle Jack Bauer, then you must add it to your queue specifically the episodes, Into Hell Part 1 & 2.

So why do I bother to share this?

Let’s find out as we look at Chapter 7 with a rather long title – “When You Dig a Hole For Yourself, You Have to Throw the Dirt on Somebody.”

In season 4, Mack is bent on revenge for catching his wife with another man who so happens to be his colonel that sets up all the missions. Plus anyone caught fooling with another unit’s wife is subject to a death sentence that will be carried out and sanctioned by his brothers.

Jonas (their team leader) says this to Mack: “You know what they say when you plot revenge? Always dig two graves.”

(I’ll come back to this later.)

We see in Chapter 7 that Jake is at a football game and stumbles upon the elusive Tito John.

Below is part of their conversation as Tito John explains that the Good News is more than just God executing a death sentence on His Only Son.

“Just remember he’s not worried about tomorrow because he has already worked that out. He’s inviting you to live with him in the joy of the moment, responding to what he puts right before you. The freedom to simply follow him that way will transform so many areas of your life. He loves you, Jake, and he wants you to live in the security of that, without having to figure everything out.”

“I’m beginning to get a glimpse of it. I’ve been reading Romans 8 over and over trying to figure out what Paul was trying to say. It seems Paul drew his confidence in God’s love from what he accomplished on the cross. Because of what he knew about that he never seemed to doubt God’s love again, no matter how brutal things got for him. I have always seen the cross as a matter of justice not love, at least from God’s eyes. I know Jesus loved us enough to die for us, but wasn’t it God who put him through all of that? If he would treat his own that way when he was innocent, how does that prove his love for me?”

“You’re making a common mistake. Too many people see the cross only as an act of divine justice. To satisfy his justice, God exercised the ultimate punishment on his Son, thus satisfying his wrath and allowing us to go unpunished. That may be good news for us, but what does it say about God?”

“That’s what’s always troubled me. I understood how the cross showed me how much Jesus loved me, but it certainly didn’t endear me to God.”

“But that’s not how God views the cross, Jake. His wrath wasn’t the punishment sin deserves, but the antidote for sin’s power. The purpose of the cross as Paul wrote of it, was for God to make his Son to become sin itself, so that he could condemn sin there and purge it from the race. His plan was not just to provide a way to forgive sin, but to destroy it forever so that we might live free.”

“How could God put him through all of that?”

“Don’t think God was only a distant spectator that day. He was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. This is something they did together. This was not a sacrifice which God required in order to love us, but a sacrifice which God himself provided for what we needed. As Paul saw it someone leapt in front of a stampeding horse and pushed us to safety. He was crushed by the weight of our sin so that we could be rescued from it. It’s an incredible story.”

Wow! Did you see how that is a game changer when understanding God’s heart. No other belief system can claim that. You may be familiar with this saying, “If you want to get the job done right, you got to do it yourself.” God had a goal to redeem his bride from a kidnapper. His plan was a suicide mission. God would have to put on special attire called human skin. (Are you seeing where I’m going with this?) Jesus would enter enemy territory, crossing the border from heaven to earth to set in motion a very intricate and risky plan to free His beloved bride. He would stop at nothing to be with her again. Do you know that to be true for you? He loves you more than you can imagine.

The rest of Chapter 7 gets good. We see the reason for the chapter’s long title.

“My daughter, Andrea, told me that last week at school she overheard two teachers talking. They didn’t know she was on the other side of the bathroom door when they passed by. She heard my name so she stopped to listen. She recognized one voice coming from an elder at City Center who teaches at her school. He told his colleague that I had really harmed the church and that he’d heard I had a drinking problem.”

“How did she handle that?”

“I asked her what she thought, and her answer surprised me. ‘Well, Dad,’ she said, ‘When you dig a hole for yourself, I guess you have to throw the dirt on someone.’ Then she dashed off to play.”

John laughed as hard as I’d ever seen him laugh. “I love it! It’s amazing how easily children see through the game. Who you are doesn’t change in her mind because of what others say. She’s not playing.”

“But why can’t those other people see how this game is so destructive? They are being lied to!”

“They don’t want to see it Jake. Religious systems prey on people’s insecurity. They haven’t learned how to live in Father’s love, follow his voice and depend on him. Consequently they can’t do anything that might upset their place in the game, or they’ll feel lost. Remember our walk through your Sunday school program a year or so ago? We wire people to their approval needs at a very young age and try to exploit it their whole life long.”

“And part of that training is to marginalize those that don’t go along.” I let out a deep sigh. “I’ve certainly done that to others. I had no idea how it felt from this side.”

“Institutionalism breeds task-based friendships. As long as you’re on the same task together, you can be friends. When you’re not, people have to treat you like damaged goods. Now you know what that’s like from the other side and one of the big things Jesus is doing in you now is to free you from the game, so that you can live deeply in him rather than worrying about what everyone else thinks about you.”

I’m done playing games. Are you? Wanna know why there is no revival? Religion aka Institutionalism but disguised to fool the unaware. Like a magic show, you see amazing illusions performed in a controlled environment where props and people are used to trick your senses. But if you turn on the lights, remove the smoke and mirrors, and have them try it again, I bet you’ll soon discover that the magician has no supernatural powers. It’s all built on a lie and hype so that you can keep coming back. Sounds familiar, huh?

Going back to the quote from Jonas to Mack (from The Unit): “You know what they say when you plot revenge? Always dig two graves.” You’ll see this apply to Jake as he no longer wants to “play the game” but wants to tackle these issues by starting a home church. Tito John gives him this advice:

“If this is another place for you to find your identity and to bury your shame by thinking you’ve got a better way to do it than anyone else, then you’re sating the same thirst, just from a different fountain. That’s what I hear when you call it a great move of God. You’re still talking like you’re a competitor with other brothers and sisters. You can’t love what you’re competing against and if you’re keeping score you can be sure you’re competing.”

“So we shouldn’t do it?”

“I didn’t say that, Jake. What I hope you’ll do is simply let God connect you with those brothers and sisters he wants you to walk with for now. Think less about ‘starting’ something, than just learning to share your life in God with others on a similar journey. Don’t feed off your need to be more right than others, then you’ll know more clearly what he is doing in you.”

This is another amazing chapter which the setting (a football game) fits the topic of being played by others and becoming like them. There was more discussed but you’ll be able to unpack those truths on your own.

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