Do You Know Your Rights as a Christian?

“You have the right to remain silent …”

Although I have never been arrested (getting hauled to the police station when I was fifteen for driving without a license doesn’t count), I know my rights. I’ve watched enough crime shows to quote them:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning .
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

C’mon, is there anyone who cannot quote these? I grew up hearing them on TV, and they seem so obvious, but there was a time …

In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was a 22-year-old reform school graduate. The Phoenix police picked him up for questioning in the abduction and rape of a young woman. The police asked him questions and he confessed. He went to trial and was convicted.

When Miranda appealed his conviction, he found out that he never had to say a word to the police. He didn’t know he could ask for a lawyer; he just did what the police said. He didn’t know his rights. This went all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled 51 years ago this week (June 13, 1966) that anyone and everyone arrested must be informed of their rights—their Miranda rights.

Do you know your rights as a follower of Christ? I ‘m not talking about legal matters; I’m referring to spiritual matters.

In a recent post, I said that Christians have no rights, so it sounds like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. But we don’t have any rights when it comes to choosing ourselves over others. We gave up all our self-focused rights when we surrendered ourselves to the lordship of Christ.

But Christ has given us certain rights—certain things we can expect—in our relationship to Him.

  • You do not have the right to remain silent. “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).
  • Anything you say can and will be used to point people to Christ—or away from Him.With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (Jas. 3:9-10).
  • You have an attorney—a constant advocate—in Jesus Christ. We have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
  • The Counselor—God’s Holy Spirit—is always present with you to guide you and help you. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

We have these rights, not as entitlements, but as a gift of God’s grace. If we  hear our Miranda rights, it is because we are accused. We hear our rights in Christ because we are declared forgiven.

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Lies Masquerading as Truth

What we think is true can be just as powerful as what really is true.

Just ask Hitler.

The First US Army Group played a pivotal role in the D-Day Invasion—and it wasn’t even real.

The Nazis knew the Allied forces would eventually try to step onto the continent, but where? The Allies had their sights on landing at Normandy, but they didn’t want the Germans to know that. So they created a fictitious army group, placed it in a British coastal area far from where the Allies were actually stationed, and gave the impression they were going to invade France at Pas de Calais, a good 200 miles up the coast.

  • They created tent cities, fake mess halls, hospitals, and even a sewage treatment facility.
  • They filled the area with rubber inflatable tanks and a massive inventory of jeeps and ambulances constructed of wood.
  • The British film industry stepped in and made dummy landing craft out of fabric, plywood, old pipe, and bailing wire.
  • At night, men would move this equipment around, giving the illusion of activity.
  • They transmitted fake reports of camp activity, preparation, and troop movements.

To German radio operators and reconnaissance planes, the enemy was gearing up for invasion at Pas de Calais. As a result, when the allied invasion occurred on June 6, 1944, the Germans military was not as fortified at Normandy as they could’ve been. Their units were spread thin with a large contingency waiting 200 miles north for an invasion that never happened.

Even three days after the invasion, Hitler ordered the units to stay at Calais instead of joining the others in Normandy. This allowed the Allies to gain the ground needed.

A ghost army won a real battle.

Don’t let a ghost army win any battles in your life.

Has anyone ever said one of these to you? Ever said them to yourself?

  • You failed—again. You will always be a failure.
  • You are inadequate. You’ll never measure up.
  • Sure, God loves you, but He can’t use you—not after what you’ve done.
  • You are who you are. You will never change.
  • You’re hopeless.

Stop listening to these. They are nothing but lies. Jesus Christ changes everything.

  • He removes your sin—no matter how bad it is.
  • His forgiveness and love sees no failure.
  • He comes into your life through His Holy Spirit. God Himself empowers you and overcomes any past or inadequacies.
  • He gives you hope and a future.

Lies rule our lives when we believe them. But if we see the truth of who Christ is and who we are in Him, those lies are nothing more than a pretend, ghost army. They might look threatening, but they have no real power.

So how can we recognize the lies? Focus on the truth. Focus on Christ and what He has done for you. The gospel—the salvation that comes through the death and resurrection of Christ—is not simply to secure your future in heaven; it is for now. The good news is that Christ has set you free now. You rest securely in Him.

  • I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
  • “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
  • “But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him” (Col. 1:22).
  • “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Live in the truth of who you are in Christ.


Stop Tinkering and Start Living

We’re certainly familiar with the name Mercedes Benz. We may be less familiar with the name Karl Benz, the man who built the first practical automotive.

But I don’t want to talk about Karl. I want to tell a story about his wife. Let’s give a shout out to Bertha Benz, whose birthday is celebrated this week (May 3). Without Bertha, we may never have heard of Karl.

Karl was a pretty sharp guy. In the 1870s, he was building gas engines, and he patented a few things we take for granted today: things like spark plugs, radiators, carburetors, and gear shifts. His business did well, leaving him time to play around with another idea: creating a horseless carriage.

And that’s what he did. Karl invented the first automobile. Only problem was that he wasn’t ready to sell it. The vehicle worked—and it worked fine—but he kept wanting to tinker with it.

Enter Karl’s wife, Bertha. She was his business partner and the business brains in their marriage and company. She knew her husband was on to something. She wanted him to manufacture and sell, but Karl wanted to perfect it. So he kept tinkering.

In August 1888, without telling her husband what she was doing, Bertha took the car on a road trip. The first road trip. She took along their two teenage sons and drove 66 miles to her mother’s house. She accomplished three great feats.

  1. She proved to her husband that his automobile was reliable and road worthy.
  2. She showed curious onlookers that the automobile could serve a useful purpose.
  3. She survived the first road trip with two teenage boys.

Karl was convinced. They immediately began to manufacture and sell. And the rest is history.

Too many Christians think we have to be perfect before we tell others about Christ. They’re wary of “putting Him on display” until they’ve matured, learned more about the Bible, overcome a particular habit, or … well, you get the idea. We want to keep tinkering with our walk with Christ before we put it out there for all to see. After all, we don’t want to make Jesus look bad.

Perfection is our goal, but you ain’t there—and you won’t be any time soon. Spiritual maturity and growth in Christ is a lifelong journey.

The attraction of the Christian life comes in seeing us as real people who love Jesus. I’m convinced people respond positively when they see Christ in us—even with our imperfections.

Paul wrote about his own imperfections.

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

It’s OK to keep on tinkering. Even Karl Benz, after he began selling cars, kept tinkering and making improvements. But his wife taught him that tinkering should not keep us from getting on the road.

So get on the road, and don’t be afraid to live out your faith in front of others.

Your Golden Opportunity to Be a Model

  • A $20 bill is on the counter alongside the condiments at McDonalds. Do you ask around for its owner or do you keep it?
  • Fireworks are illegal in your community even though everyone does it—and no one is fined. Your kids love fireworks, so what do you do?
  • The 55 mph speed limit on the county road is never enforced. What do you do?
  • The boss gives you a pay raise because of a project he is giving you way too much credit for. Do you speak up ?
  • Your grown son’s email program is open on his computer. Do you stop to read?

Making the right decision is not always easy, and many of us “fudge” on issues like these.  Maybe the proper response in the above scenarios is easy for you. If so, kudos to you. But not everyone has your maturity or insight. Even Christians can miss the mark.

So how can they learn how to handle difficult dilemmas or decisions? Let’s skip over the standard Christian responses—pray about it and read the Bible—and let’s go straight to a solution I’m going to lay at your feet.

Model it for them.

Hold that thought as we celebrate this week the anniversary of the shopping cart. Sylvan Goldman owned a mess of grocery stores in Oklahoma and he noticed that people checked out, not when they had all they needed, but when their small hand-held baskets were heavy and full. He came up with the idea of a basket they could push around instead of carry. So on April 9, 1940 he was awarded a patent for the first shopping cart.

The response to the shopping cart was … well, underwhelming.

  • Women: They’re not stylish. Besides, I quit pushing buggies when my child grew out of one.
  • Men: Those things are for sissies.

Goldman’s solution was simple. He hired ordinary people to push the carts around his stores, pretending to shop. They might occasionally talk to other customers—real customers—and tell how much easier their shopping had become with a cart.

Did it work? People changed their opinion and started using shopping carts. And Goldman made $400 million from his patent.

People will imitate what they see modeled. And what better thing for them to imitate than Christ-honoring behavior? Jesus didn’t get the brightest and best to follow Him. He chose ordinary people. And the world saw Christ in these ordinary men and women. They saw how their morals and ethics changed. They saw people loved and valued. They saw forgiveness. And the world was changed.

We can bemoan the state of things at work, at home, and in our communities—or we can model what a Christian looks like. So push around your cart full of love, grace, compassion, forgiveness, and Christ-honoring ethics. Others may just want to join you.

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Your Folly May Not be Folly After All

Don’t let anyone ridicule you or your plans. Just ask William Seward.

You would think buying a few acres at two cents each would be a great deal, but it was March 30, 1867—and most people thought it was a lame idea.

OK, so maybe Seward bought more than a few acres. In fact, he bought almost 425 million acres for $7.2 million dollars (which might get you one McMansion in the county where I live).  But still, two cents an acre is pretty sweet.

The people’s beef with Secretary of State Seward was that all this acreage was buried under snow and moose in Alaska. What can you do with that??

Russia owned it, but they didn’t want it. The Russians were deeply in debt, and they needed money more than moose, so they were quick to offer Alaska to the United States.

And why did Seward want it? This sounds funny now, but it was part of a ploy to annex the western half of Canada. The Americans and British were still not sending each other Christmas cards, and Americas wanted to get those pesky Brits out of their neck of the hemisphere. Seward’s rationale was that, by annexing Alaska, it would be easier to annex the western half of Canada.

The plan backfired. By annexing Alaska, we actually pushed the Canadians into the arms of the British Federation (which is a lot like Star Trek’s Federation of Planets, but with Michael Bublé instead of Klingons).

So people laughed at what they called Seward’s Folly—until gold was discovered 30 years later. We know now that Alaska in one of our greatest resources, chock full of oil, minerals, and snow mobiles.

Don’t let anyone ridicule you or your plans. Even if your plans go awry, they can still have great value. I am not offering any Joel Osteen-ish “Just believe in yourself and you can do it” pablum. Far from it. Instead, I challenge you to surrender yourself and your plans to Jesus Christ. Live under His lordship, and live out the strengths, skills, gifts, and interests He has instilled in you.

In other words, do what God has called you to do. Be the person He desires you to be. Even if no one sees the value in your plans—or worse, they don’t see the value in you—stick with it. Value and effectiveness are not determined by the opinions of others; who you are is determined by Christ. Love Him. Serve Him. If no one showers you with accolades now, just know your obedience to Christ will one day be openly acknowledged by God Himself.

“‘Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:23).

There’s no folly in that.


When Procrastination Bites

swinburne8Let’s give a rousing birthday shout out to everyone’s favorite Scottish chemist: James Swinburne.


Exactly my point. Swinburne might have been everyone’s favorite Scottish chemist had he not been so overly cautious.

Swinburne (born February 28, 1858) was actually an electrical engineer, but he was trying to find a way to insulate electrical wiring. (If you’ve ever touched a wire that wasn’t wrapped in insulation, you know why this was kinda important.) Folks had already played around with mixing phenol and formaldehyde, but Swinburne discovered a way of heating it and shaping it into something useful. We don’t call it “baked phenol and formaldehyde;” it has a simpler name:


the-graduate-plasticsBut Swinburne took his time with doing anything with his invention of plastic, and when he finally got around to taking it to the patent office, someone had beaten him to it—by one day.

Swinburne was the first to invent plastic, but he would not reap the benefits of his discovery.

When God gives you an opportunity, take it. If there is something you can do—something you know you should do—do it. Don’t delay. And if it’s something you know God wants you to do, then get after it.

I don’t know who first said this (but a dozen preachers would like to take credit for it), but it rings true:

Delayed obedience is disobedience.

Maybe that’s what David had in mind when he said, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands” (Ps. 119:60).

Maybe the point I’m driving at speaks to that invention you’ve been working on in your basement. But I’m guessing it more likely speaks to your need to …

  • … call your mother.
  • … invite that friend or co-worker to your Bible study group.
  • … check up on someone and offer encouragement.
  • … apologize.

The opportunity won’t always be there.

Radio in Bakelite plastic

Radio in Bakelite plastic

For those dying to hear the rest of the story …

The guy who beat Swinburne to the patent office started the Bakelite Company. Even though Swinburne missed out on the patent, he joined the Bakelite Company several years later and eventually became the chairman.

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