I beg to differ

Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant woman came and said to him, “You were also with Jesus the Galilean.”

But he denied it in front of all of them, saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

When he went over to the gate, another woman saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.”

With an oath, he denied it again, saying, “I don’t know the man.”

A short time later those standing there came and said to Peter, “You must be one of them. The way you talk gives you away.”

Then he cursed and swore, “I don’t know the man!” At that very moment the rooster crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ words, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably. (Matthew 26:69-75 CEB)

“If only I could have lived back in the time of the apostles and experienced with my own senses what they experienced, it would be so much easier for me to believe.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“I don’t really need other believers to help me stay strong in faith. I can do this on my own.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“Experience and knowledge trumps temptation. Compromise or cowardice are temptations for the young in faith, not for those who have been with Jesus for some time.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“No one has ever been able to tell the future.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“There is simply no way I would ever deny the Lord.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“A true Christ-follower knows when they’re most vulnerable, and so, is always ready for anything.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“Satan can do us no real harm when he tries to take us head-on. He always does his best work obliquely.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“I’m forever done with __________ [insert the sin of your choice here]. It can never be a temptation to me again.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“It seems clear to me that if someone falls away from the Lord, they never really had him in their heart to begin with.”

Peter would beg to differ.

“Real men never cry. Nothing good can ever come of it.”

Peter would beg to different.

Heavenly Father, lead me not into temptation. Deliver me from the evil one. Amen.

fresh bread: why Judas, why?

Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve. He went out and discussed with the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard how he could hand Jesus over to them. They were delighted and arranged payment for him. He agreed and began looking for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them … (Luke 22:3-6 CEB)

Why did you do it, Judas? That’s all I want to know. Why?

Was it for glory? You don’t strike me as the glory type. I don’t recall hearing you ask for special favors. You didn’t ask for the best seats in the house. No, the glory card doesn’t work for you.

Was it for the money? Sure, it was a nice chunk of change, but everyone knows you were pretty much taking what you wanted from the bag all the time anyway. I doubt the money is what it was all about.

Was it because the devil made you do it? Sure, Satan stepped into your head, but that was only because you threw the door open to him and said, “Come on in and have a seat.” No, the devil didn’t make you do it; you had a choice.

Were you disillusioned? Were you just plain tired of tramping all over the country, hanging out with the lowest of the land, staying dependent on others just to get by, suffering no small amount of ridicule, and having your neck hanging out on the line? Maybe you could see better than most of the disciples. Maybe you just knew it couldn’t all play out the way the other disciples expected with some glorious victory for Israel over Rome. Maybe you thought you could imbed yourself in the other side and so save your own skin. Maybe.

Was it because you thought you had a better idea? You saw what Jesus was capable of doing again and again and yet, why wasn’t he throwing the Romans out of Israel on their keester? You got impatient with him, didn’t you? So you thought you’d force his hand and put him in a situation where he’d usher in his real rule and kingdom. No more lollygagging around; you were just adding some go juice to the program, right? But you were just as clueless about what sort of kingdom Jesus had in mind as the rest of the disciples, weren’t you?

Why Judas? Why?

Or perhaps I should ask: Why me, Lord? Why do I do what I do?

Holy Father, deliver me from the Judas within me. Save me from the parts of me that resist you and refuse to submit to you. Forgive me when I sell you out for my own gain or tell you I can’t go on anymore. Deliver me from dealing with the devil. Rescue me from my own stupid self. For I pray in the name of him who paid it all for me. Amen.

fresh bread: never leave him

If people escape the moral filth of this world through the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, then get tangled up in it again and are overcome by it, they are worse off than they were before. It would be better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having come to know it, to turn back from the holy commandment entrusted to them. They demonstrate the truth of the proverb: “A dog returns to its own vomit, and a washed sow wallows in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:20-22)

I’m late posting today’s Fresh Bread devotional for a reason, and to be completely transparent, it’s an emotional one.

You see, several days ago I decided I would post a devotional thought today from this candid, haunting passage that forms the conclusion of 2 Peter 2. That’s what I had in my head, but my heart has been in the way. As I read this text, I keep seeing people; “dead people,” as it were. I keep seeing the faces of people I’ve known across the years who once made a good start with Christ, but who have long since left him, choosing instead to go back and try to live their life without him.

Some of their stories I know; some I don’t and probably never will. I’ve buried some of them while others still live. Some still living I’ve kept up with while others I can only wonder where they are. Of those I know still, some I know seem to be getting along just fine, while others only act as if all is well. And there are others still, I know from their own words, who live in utter despair.

But this they all have in common: my heart bleeds for them. They are my brothers and sisters in the Lord, but they’ve left home and kin, Father and siblings. Some left with a will while others simply drifted away, but the end result for most of them is the same: they become even more entangled with the world and its ways than they ever were before. It’s a dirty, sickening sight to see and my throat grows tight and my eyes a bit misty even as I try to write now. The words haunt me: “It would be better for them never to have known …”

I need to pray.

Heavenly Father, bring whatever is necessary into my life and the lives of my brothers and sisters to humble us and keep our hearts warm toward you. Remind me often of my pledge to you and do the same for all in your family. For I want to never leave you and I yearn for all who have to return. Be patient, I pray, and have mercy on us all. We are weak and live only by your salvation. Take our lives from us before we would ever forsake you. Save us so in the name of Jesus I pray.Amen.