“To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?” The idea of whether is it better to live or to die quote is taken from Hamlet written by Shakespeare.  Let’s talk about how not to be today!

Some of us behave live we have seen our parents behave.  We can’t help it.  It’s what we know best, right?  But, some children grow up in less-than-ideal homes, living with damaged-by-life moms or dads who are not always loving and kind.  They don’t know love because they were not loved.  Some parents are selfish and mean, thinking only of themselves.  Some are just trying to “make it” through another day.  Some are dependent on drugs and alcohol to merely survive each day for they are suffering from some of the same addictive weaknesses as their parents.  Most of their money, made from in illegal ways, are used to buy more drugs instead of feeding their families. Why have children I have wondered if you do not seem to want to care for them?

Some people admittedly have children because they were too drugged up to think of using protection to prevent it.  Some have children to meet their needs of value and significance.  Many turn to their children, as soon as possible, even as young as first grade, to care for the family so they can go out and do more damage to their lives.  Yes, these babies grow up, fending for themselves, caring for each other as orphans of their parent’s sins and disabilities to parent. 

Unfortunately, most children grow up with the same destructive behaviors as their parents and grandparents.  How do I know this?  I taught these kids in public school. I had a first grader who fell asleep each day around ten each morning.  I let him nap because he told me, “My baby wouldn’t stop crying last night”.  This first grader had a mom who left him with his baby brother to care for while she prostituted herself to buy more drugs for her addiction.  His dad, who was in and out of his life, was a drug dealer.  His dad was killed eventually by those who he cheated in the drug world.  His mom was jailed.  The boy and his brother were given to their young uncle to raise.  The boys were raised in a drug-free environment and began to thrive once more.  These boys were rescued.  Our first grader’s life transformed.  Life is so precious. 

Over the years, I also listened to many kids’ stories in youth group because they were brought by some of their friends who went to church.  I prayed with many kids who wanted to break the chains of generational sin and be different.  There were those who did survive, rise above what they had been accustomed as “normal” to give their lives to Jesus.  Jesus pulled them out of the life that, in their own words, taught them “how not to be”.

Why do I write of these stories?  Simply, it’s what I know to be true because God put in places to hear and to try to help by His leading.  This is what God’s church is all about, dear friends.  We point people to Jesus for rescue, for his saving mercy and grace, for help in living life that is extremely different than what is currently considered the norm, all because of His love.  As the Body of Christ, we exist to worship Him, not each other, to lead others to Him as we serve Him in obedience of our wills.  In other words, we lay down what we want to pick up what HE wants and live life for His glory.


Jesus teaches all of us “how not to be” as he accesses the work of the Pharisees and other teachers of religious law.  He gets down to the nitty gritty, so to speak, with Truth telling.  Jesus, Son of God, as well as Son of Man, sees the inside of hearts and knows what is there and what shouldn’t be there.  Jesus speaks to his followers about what is real and what is not.  God’s Law is real and should be followed as God intended for our best life.  But the teachers are not real in the way they live. 

Watching the religious leaders live their lives has been the only example God’s people have had for generations!  Jesus comes to not only teach what God intended when He gave The Law to follow, but he came as a perfect example of how to live The Law in behavior that pleases God and gives Him glory.  Jesus points to the pretentious, religious teachers who have lost their relationship to God and teaches his followers how not to be.  Jesus is serious.  Jesus speaks clearly about pride and arrogance as their generational sin that leads to destruction and death. 

After this “sermon” of how not to be, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem who is filled with false living teachers who have blindly guided God’s people in wrong directions while oppressing them greatly.  Jesus’s mission is to bring Light to a dark world.  Jesus is still doing that today.  Jesus is our rescue from how not to live to how to thrive in God’s Kingdom of Eternal Life.  Follow Jesus.

Matthew—God’s Word Fulfilled

Matthew 23, NLT

Jesus Criticizes the Religious Leaders

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’

“Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

13 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.

15 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

16 “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ 17 Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. 19 How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. 21 And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. 22 And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.

23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!

25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. 30 Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’

31 “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started. 33 Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?

34 “Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. 35 As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation.

Jesus Grieves over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 38 And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. 39 For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”


You know our hearts.  You see clearly into the depths of our souls.  You rescue us from ourselves.  You rescue us from the evil that surrounds us and tries to bring us down.  You save us and lift us up, out of what was, to what is true.  You bring Light into our darkness.  You cleanse us completely and forever with your “soul-cleansing blood”.  Thank you, Lord.  We ask that you keep us focused on You.  Deliver us from pride, arrogance, gossip, selfishness, pretense and play-acting—all the “how not to be” behaviors that displease you.  Teach me, grow me, transform me into all you created me to be. Truly, blessed are you who will come back someday to take us all home with you!

In Jesus Name, Amen

And I’m singing an old hymn that encourages me.  “Are You Washed”

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood?
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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