Don’t Be A Copycat

When I was in the seventh grade, a boy asked if anyone in our group was religious. Someone said I was. I quickly responded. No. Not because I knew the difference between being religious and being a Christian. But because I didn’t want to be seen as different. I wanted to fit in with the others. I didn’t want my group of friends to abandon me or mock me. They never had before. But would they now that my “religious” status had been spoken out loud? I didn’t want to find out. I just wanted to be like everyone else.

The same happens today. We call ourselves Christian yet we blend in with unbelievers so well that no one knows the difference. We don’t stand out as having different values or beliefs. We live as close to the line as we can get and try to call ourselves holy. But. Christians can’t move back and forth across the line when it’s convenient or comfortable. We must live on the side of holiness regardless of what it costs us. It won’t be easy. It won’t be popular. But it is biblical. 

Perhaps we only call ourselves Christians in private, because we don’t want others to think less of us. We don’t want them to start watching to see anything unusual in our behavior or speech. We don’t want to seem odd. We just want to fit in and be like everyone else. We want to be accepted. All the while wearing our blurred out Christian label. Oh. We’re wearing the label, but we don’t want others to see it.

We can’t disguise ourselves as Christians and expect God to call our behavior good. God knows us as we truly are. He knows our intentions and he knows our thoughts. Even if only our thoughts are wicked, God knows. But what we don’t realize is that even if our actions are good, our intentions may not be. We try to be the type of person we think others expect of us, all the while seething with hatred and resentment on the inside.

Let me just say this. Satan is not your friend. When we clothe ourselves in the approval of others. When we share on social media our shiny, almost perfect looking lives that match the world’s, we’re only fooling ourselves. The God who created us sees us for who we really are. We can’t pretty up sin.

God will transform us into a new person if we open ourselves up to his guiding hand. He won’t steer us down the wrong path. That’s what Satan does. And we can’t mix up the two. And we can’t intertwine them. They will lead us down totally separate paths. One is destructive. The other, although hard, is good and pleasing and perfect.


Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:2


As believers, we are set apart to God. If we’re copying the behavior of those who aren’t believers, what sets us apart? What makes us different? Do we assume that our lives will look the same as everyone else’s after we become Christians? Shouldn’t we be different from those who don’t call themselves Christians? What is it about a believer that is different from a nonbeliever?

God calls us to be holy, because he is holy. So what does that mean for us? What does that look like?

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

Are we up for the task of living a holy life?

If we don’t read the Bible, we don’t know the Bible. And if we don’t know the Bible, we don’t know God. So it’s no wonder that we copycat the behaviors of those who are unbelievers. It’s no wonder we look and act and think like them. Because we’re not looking and acting and thinking like God. We run away from Him when we run toward the behavior and customs of the world. We don’t refuse to bow to the idols of today’s culture. We give in to the ideas of today’s society. So we can fit in. How can we fit into today’s culture and still fit into heaven when God calls us into eternity?

We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12

Satan will try to outsmart us if we aren’t familiar with his evil schemes. He will manipulate us into believing bad is good and good is bad. All we have to do is scroll through social media and it stares us in the face. Watch the news and see all the evil swirling in our midst. And some people applaud it. Do we recognize the difference between Satan’s temptations and God’s direction?  

so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11

When we deliberately choose to follow Satan’s lead, our hearts will harden to the will of God. It won’t be an overnight hardening. It will be gradual. And it may not be noticeable. Until one day, the veil over our eyes and heart is so heavy, we’ve walked far away from God. Oh. The veil can be lifted if we call on our Lord and Savior to forgive us. We can walk in his path of forgiveness. But it’s an intentional daily decision to follow God’s ways. And it will look nothing like Satan’s lies.

But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:14-18

Satan is the god of the world.  That doesn’t mean he controls it.  He is under God’s authority and God has him on a leash.  The evil he does is allowed by God in order to fulfill God’s will.  That may sound strange or wrong, but God is always in control.  When he gave us freedom to choose right or wrong, he knew that Satan would try to maneuver his way into our lives any way possible.  So we have to choose God in order to live a holy life.  We can’t be a copycat of Satan. Because if we aren’t living in line with God’s will, we’re living in line with Satan.  

We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. 2 Corinthians 4:2

Scorched

The pan of oats was cooking on the stove. I would stir it repeatedly when I had a chance. I didn’t keep an eye on it throughout the whole process because I was busy doing other things. Washing dishes. Baking. Cleaning vegetables. So I wasn’t minding the oatmeal as thoroughly as I should have. But I would walk over and stir it as needed. I know that oats can easily stick to the pan if they’re not stirred constantly. And I wasn’t stirring constantly. I’ve cooked oatmeal many times, and I know what’s involved. But on this occasion I was trying to multitask, and the oatmeal didn’t have my undivided attention.

Later I smelled something burning and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I checked the vegetables roasting in the oven. No. They were fine. They weren’t burning. I was stirring the oats off and on, so they shouldn’t be burning. So I just ignored this scorched odor. When the oats were finished, I turned the burner off and set them aside to cool. I wasn’t just making one serving for my breakfast. I was making a batch of oatmeal to be eaten over several days. I like to batch cook for the week so my food is ready to heat up anytime I’m hungry. So on this particular day, I was cooking oatmeal for the week.

Once the oatmeal was cooled, I began dishing it into a storage container. That was when I noticed the burn on the bottom of the pan. The oatmeal had stuck to the bottom of the pan. Now there was a black char on the pan. That was what had caused the scorched odor.

I was able to preserve most of the oatmeal because it was only burned on the bottom. I knew the oatmeal I saved had some scorching running through it, but I saved it anyway. I thought it would be okay when I ate it over the next few days. I could pull out large clumps of burned oatmeal and eat the rest. It seemed a simple idea. But when I saw how burned the pan was, I knew I wouldn’t be able to clean it quickly or easily. I knew it would need to soak overnight. So that’s what I did. I put some cleaning solution in the pan and let it soak.

The next morning when I began cleaning the pan, not all of the burn came off. Some of it was still stuck on the pan. Some parts came clean pretty easily. But others not so much. I added more cleaning solution and water to start the soaking process all over again. Scraping wasn’t enough to remove all of the black soot from the bottom of the pan. And my goal was to get the pan as clean as possible. I wanted it to look as if it had never been burned. But I wasn’t sure if I had ruined the pan or not. Apparently only time will tell.

The batch of oatmeal isn’t all burned. Only the bottom portion of it is inedible. And only the bottom of the pan is scorched. Most of the oatmeal can still be eaten and enjoyed without the burnt taste. The pan can be used again once it is properly cleaned.


Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17


When we repent of our sins and choose to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the burnt oatmeal of sin is removed from our lives. We still have scorch marks on us that represent the sins of our past. It doesn’t mean our lives are ruined. It means that we live with the results of our former sins.

Sin can creep into our lives if we aren’t paying attention. We ignore the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit to stop a certain activity. Or we don’t act on the Holy Spirit’s leading. We allow activities in our lives that we once hated. We become accustomed to using certain words in our conversations that were once forbidden. We become comfortable with situations that were once uncomfortable. And we call it good. We become willing to work around the burnt oatmeal that is building up in our lives. After all, we are good people. That’s what we tell ourselves.

Some of those scorch marks can be easily removed. The burned char can be cleaned away with the act of forgiveness, but the results of that char representing the sin that has long encased our hearts can be hard to remove. It could be bad habits. Or it could be jealousy or greed or lying or lust. It could be just blatant selfishness. Sometimes a lot of work goes into erasing or cleaning up the results of black charred sin. So some of the black char may remain forever. It may always be present in our lives because while God’s forgiveness takes away that burden of sin, some acts of sinfulness have consequences which reap long lasting effects. Those can’t be easily scrubbed away with cleaning solution and soaking. Sometimes the result of those sins are lifelong. And we have to deal with the consequences for all the days of our lives on this earth.

It’s a lesson for us. When we make foolish decisions. When we choose selfish ways. When we know that our actions go against God’s will. There are consequences that sometimes can’t be easily wiped away in our lives. Yes, God forgets those sins when he forgives us. And to him they are no more. But the consequences in our human lives can still remain. That’s what we need to consider. Not just the fact that we’re sinning. But the consequences of those sins. When we make choices in our life. That moment of enjoyment. That so called fun activity or behavior that misrepresents God or rejects God or distorts his will. Those have consequences. So we have to be prepared to live with the results of our sin. While we still have breath, we can be forgiven. But that doesn’t make life easy and perfect.

Are You Broken?

How to get away with murder. The show. I’ve been binge watching it. Don’t ask me why. And please don’t judge. I know. I know. It’s full of scenes I don’t want to see. I started to watch the show a few years ago and stopped. Spoiler alert. They really were trying to get away with murder. I just couldn’t watch it then. But, for some reason, now I am.

A couple of the characters were abused as children. A couple others had distant fathers. One had a rocky childhood. One lost his mother by suicide. One had been in prison. Another had a criminal record. They all admitted that they were broken people.

In one of the episodes, one of the characters said they all deserved hell because of all the bad things they had done. Oh. I think he just spoke for all mankind. We all deserve hell. Because of all the things we have done. Not one of us born on this earth is good enough to escape hell on our own. We need help. We need someone to rescue us from our sins. We need a Savior.

And there is a remedy. There is a Savior. He gave his life for my sins and your sins. For my brokenness and your brokenness. For victims and victimizers. We can be forgiven and healed.

So when you think of yourself, do you consider yourself to be broken or sinful? Do you step outside yourself and look at who you really are and at what you’ve done? Do you try to soften the blow by saying you’re broken instead of sinful? Because, hey. Perhaps someone else’s sin is what broke us. And some sin has broken the one who broke you. And, in spite of all the brokenness around us, we are all sinners. We don’t have to be broken to be sinners.


If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:8-9


Maybe it wasn’t my fault at all that I’m the way I am. But I do have a choice. I do have the ability to name my brokenness. And I can name my sin. Whether it’s your sin or my sin that caused my brokenness. It doesn’t change the fact that we are all sinners.

There is the mess that life gives you and there’s the mess that you make.

Annalise Keating (How to Get Away with Murder)

If we call our lives messy or broken, it doesn’t really describe the gravity of our sins. It somehow softens the blow of sin. Oh. Our lives may be messy and broken as a result of someone else’s sin or our own, but sin is a result of disobeying God. How messed up is that? When do we take responsibility for our sins?

Just imagine standing at the foot of the Cross looking up to the One who died for those sins. We must compare our sins not to other people’s sins, but to God’s holiness. Since sin is rebellion against a holy God, it means that God can’t have any part of sin.

We cannot redefine what God calls sins and presume to identify that ethic as Christian.

Alisa Childers (Another Gospel)

Oh sure. Our brokenness may be on different levels. One person may have suffered massive loss or abuse. Another may have experienced deep depression or anxiety. Rejection by someone who has suffered at the hands of others can lead them to hurt still others. Sometimes our brokenness is due to someone else’s sin. Their sin is not my sin. But sin shouldn’t go by any other name.

Sin isn’t pretty and it isn’t helpful to soften it up with gentle words. Oh. It may make me feel better for a while, but the root of the problem is that I have sinned. Sin will separate me from God. Is that what I want?

Pride Comes Before A Fall

King Saul was a hot mess. He had strict orders from God himself about the battle he was to fight. He and his army of 210,000 men were to kill every man, woman and child, along with all the animals of Amalek. Kill. Every. Living. Being. Leave. No. Survivors.

 It was a harsh command. But God had a reason. 400 years earlier, the Amalekites had attacked the Israelites out of greed. With God’s help, Israel won that battle. But God didn’t forget how his chosen people were attacked. He vowed to pay back the Amalekites. And he took his sweet time in doing it.

 Now that Saul was king, God wanted to test Saul’s obedience. And wow. Saul failed miserably. He partially obeyed God. He killed all of the Amalekites, except for their king. And he killed all the weak and useless animals. But he kept the best animals as plunder. Saul was proud of his accomplishment.

And after he did that, he rewarded himself by setting up a monument in his own honor.

When the prophet Samuel confronted him about it, he proudly announced that he had carried out the Lord’s commands. Then why do I smell and hear animals? Samuel asked. 

Have you ever disobeyed God and then have someone else point it out to you? Has another believer confronted you about the smelly plunder that you have brought into your life? And you deny the sin?

Saul was dumbfounded to learn that Samuel was accusing him of disobeying God. He had killed people and animals. He had won the battle. What had he done wrong? He couldn’t believe that Samuel thought he had tried to play God.

Here’s the thing. A partial lie is a full lie. A partial disobedience is a full disobedience. A partial sin is a full sin. It doesn’t matter if you’re King Saul or John Doe. 

Saul was more willing to offer a sacrifice to God than to obey Him. Sure, it’s easy to perform a legalistic ritual than it is to obey God’s command. But what does it get you? It’s still disobedience. It’s still sin.


Do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8


But Saul. His heart had grown cold. He lived as though he was his own god and only needed to follow his own decisions and plans. He cast God aside and replaced Him with Saul as god. This battle was not his to win. This was a battle that God had planned and prepared for. It was retaliation on a country who were sworn enemies of God and Israel. There were to be no survivors of any kind.

Did Saul forget that he had disobeyed God’s command? Did he not hear the words spoken to him to spare no life? Human or animal? Pride comes before a fall. That’s what they say. And oh. When the mighty fall, they fall hard. Because of Saul’s lack of obedience and respect for God’s command, Samuel told him that he would lose his kingdom. His family line would not inherit the throne. No son of his would ever be king of Israel. Oh. How the mighty have fallen.

Once we start living with lies, we become immune to right living. We get to the point that we have lived in lies for so long that we no longer recognize the truth. We dishonor God by continually denying his existence. We reject his invitation to join in his family of believers. Saul was blind to his sin. He acted as if he was obeying God. But he either failed to realize, or ignored the fact, that partial disobedience equals full disobedience.

God says he wants our full obedience. He says if we aren’t hot in love with him or cold disobeying him, then we are lukewarm. We aren’t God’s children if we are lukewarm. We can’t be half in a relationship with him. It’s all or nothing. God wants our full heart. Our full allegiance.

Sure. It will be a sacrifice on our part. It will be an intentional act of walking away from behaviors and activities that seem pleasant, but are out of line with God’s commandments. It will mean that we say no when we’ve said yes in the past. Or perhaps, we say yes when we’ve always answered no before.

Has your heart grown cold toward God? Or do you recognize that you’re in a lukewarm state? God wants your whole heart. Obedience at all costs. Let’s do what is right. Let’s love mercy. Let’s walk humbly and obediently with our God. We won’t regret it.

Your Choice

The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. They had left Egypt in a hurry one night, escaping from Pharaoh who had been holding them in slavery for four hundred years. God delivered them and promised a new home for them. But after they left Egypt, they disobeyed God.

What should have been an eleven day journey took 40 years. Oh. This people didn’t just disobey God once. It became a thing. It wasn’t necessarily that everyone disobeyed God all the time. But there were grumblings in the camp. There was rebellion. Distrust. They broke God’s laws. They were people being selfish people. They made gods out of gold and worshiped them. They didn’t trust God. They trusted themselves more than they trusted God.

So God used that 40 years to humble his people. They were dependent on him for their daily food. Their clothes didn’t wear out and their feet didn’t blister and swell. He tested their character to see if they would obey his commands.

Obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. Deuteronomy 8:6

God gave the Israelites a choice as they were preparing to enter Canaan.  The promised land. He reminded them of how he had provided for them for the past 40 years. Were those 40 years a waste? After all, it was just a few days journey from Egypt to Canaan. But because the people disobeyed God, their punishment was to wander around in the desert for 40 years. 40 years. That’s an entire generation.

And that generation had to die off before their children were allowed to enter the promised land.

So here they were. Ready to step over into victory. The much awaited and promised land flowing with milk and honey. Ready for the taking. It was theirs.

God reminded them of his miracles and provision and promises. He told them to repeat those stories to their children, because their kids had not lived through those experiences. Those kids had not seen God work mighty miracles. They had heard but they hadn’t seen.

God was faithful to his chosen people. He reminded them that he would continue to be faithful to them if they were faithful to him. They had to choose. A life of obedience to God. Or a life of disobedience. It was their choice.

Read the full story in Deuteronomy 8.


Choose today whom you will serve. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord . Joshua 24:15


God plainly told them what their lives would be like in this new land. Canaan. The promised land. It is a land of plentiful food and a place where nothing is lacking. Did you catch that? Nothing is lacking. They had hit pay dirt. Their ship had come in. The luck of the draw was on their side. But it was all because of God’s provision and mercy that they were entering this new territory.

God told them exactly what to expect and he gave them a warning. These people who hadn’t changed clothes in 40 years were about to become prosperous. They would lack nothing. God warned them to be careful and not forget him and his commands. Oh. He told them straight out that they would want for nothing. They would build fine homes. They would find copper and iron, pomegranates and olive oil. Honey, fig trees and grapevines were theirs for the taking. God warned them that in their time of plenty not to forget him. He told them not to become proud.

It shouldn’t have been a tough decision. He was offering them a lifetime of goodness if they followed his commands. Why would they choose any other way? It seems such a simple decision.

What does a person who’s never had wealth do when all of a sudden it’s laid at their feet?

God warned the Israelites, his chosen people, that they would be destroyed if they disobeyed him. If they followed and worshiped other gods, God would not be on their side.

God won’t honor disobedience. He wants our whole hearts. Our entire lives. Our souls. Our minds. Our strength. He wants all of our being.

But then. As humans, we sometimes think we know better than God does. We think we’re smarter. Our way is better. Or we’re tired of waiting on God, because he is sometimes really slow. And we’re in a hurry. So we make a decision. Or we do the thing. Or we worship a false god. All in the name of free will. We want what we want when we want it and we want it our way. Right now. Do or die, we’re going to get what we want. Just try to stop me. We say. So forget anything or anyone who stands in our way. We become our own god.

That’s what God was trying to keep his favorite people from doing. Because they had walked down that sinful path too many times before. 

I wonder. This year has us at a crossroads. The times are changing. Can’t you feel the tide shifting? Suspense is in the air. We have a choice. Fight for God or fight against him. Now is the time to stand for truth. Biblical truth. It should be a simple choice. God’s way or my way. It’s your choice. What do you choose?

When the Mighty Fall

Oh. Jeffrey Epstein. How powerful do you feel now? Are you walking on streets of gold? Are you living in a mansion? Is your eternal life better than your life on earth?

Did your life end the way you had always thought it would? Did you think you would die under questionable circumstances alone in a jail cell? Were you alone? Or would you have preferred to be surrounded by beautiful women in a party atmosphere on your private island? Or in your seven-story New York townhome?

Oh. You made the news. Jeffrey. You’ve lived a questionable life. Very questionable. Was your death intentional? If so, why weren’t you unwilling to face your accusers? Were they telling the truth, and the hammer was about to come down on you once and for all? Or was it someone else’s last ditch effort to silence you? Or to pay you back? Most likely, we’ll never know.

But there is One who knows everything about you. Oh. You will never again have to stand in front of a judge to be tried for your alleged offenses. But you have now stood before the Judge and Creator of the universe. How did that go for you? You couldn’t pay your way out of your eternal destiny, now could you? I honestly don’t know where you are right now. Jeffrey. Are you living the life you’ve always wanted? Or are you in the darkest pits of hell? Are you with your Creator, God Almighty? Or are you with the enemy of your soul, satan himself? Are you basking in glory? Or are you writhing in agony and torment?


You may be sure that your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:32


Let’s imagine, Jeffrey, that with your last breath you cried out to God to forgive you. Let’s imagine that you are walking the streets of gold. Let’s imagine that when you stood before God to be judged there was a red streak of Jesus’ blood across your record of sins. And that your sins have been made white as snow. They’ve been erased. Let’s imagine that you’ve been forgiven and are now a child of God. You are in heaven. It’s possible that happened.

But then. Let’s imagine another scenario. A darker scenario. Let’s imagine that instead of crying out to God with your last breath, you uttered his name in blasphemy. Let’s imagine that you drew your final breath in hate and bitterness. Let’s imagine that your name was not in the Book of Life and that you were cast into the depths of hell. There’s no turning back from that torture.

Were you laughing at those who were gunning for you and your every dollar? Thumbing your nose at the many who have accused you of indecent and inappropriate behavior. Waving your money to buy you a mansion in your eternal home. But it doesn’t work that way. Jeffrey. You can’t buy or work your way into heaven.

The public may never know the truth. And maybe that’s for the best. Perhaps we don’t need to know how you acquired your wealth. I’ve read that the acquisition of your riches was not necessarily honorable. What was it that caused you to think you were above the law? You chose to run in social circles that many would envy. Politicians. Billionaires. Royalty. Beautiful women. Private island retreat. Private jet. But how did you accumulate what you owned? Why did you crave that lifestyle? Why unwilling young women?

Were you surprised when the cops came to your house and rammed the massive wood door? Oh. You weren’t there. You were already in jail. Did you wonder if they had finally uncovered your deepest darkest secrets? Did you wonder if you had finally been found out? Did you breathe a deep sigh of relief that now the game was over? Or did you breathe short struggling anxious breaths knowing that the true fight had just begun?

Jeffrey. You’re now in eternity. You’ve breathed your last breath. Fought your last fight. Earned or stolen your last dollar. You’ve been judged and have received your final reward or punishment. God only knows what the truth is. He’s the only one who knows the truth. But you are an example to many who are living life on the fringes. Knowing what’s right but doing what’s wrong. Looking out for yourself and pushing others to bow to your wishes. That’s no longer an option for you.

May those of us who still live and breathe choose to follow the Lord God Almighty. May we choose to bow to Him before we’ve taken that last breath. When there is still time to choose heaven. Because our sins will always find us out. We will be held accountable. Just as you have. Jeffrey.