Overcoming Evil

Overcoming EvilEvil is all around us. Most people agree on this subject whether they are a Christian or not. When we see a child brutally murdered or a government horribly oppressing its people, we can see darkness and it is blatantly obvious.

The Bible uses different words to describe evil. We see synonyms like “wickedness” or “malice” among many others used to convey this intention. When these words are used, scripture goes on to describe details that include a wide range of activities. Many times, in fact, we see the perpetrators seeming to have a great time and falling into very comfortable patterns when they are called out in this way.

Sometimes, it is easy to throw the word “evil” around at our own discretion. For instance, if something inconveniences us enough or someone behaves outside of our understanding of “goodness” then we may be tempted to use this significant word to describe the event.

The Word is clear that we are to stay away from evil of every kind. It also indicates that we should avoid associating with those who practice evil. Yet, in even more places in scripture, the example is given that shows us we are to come alongside the sinner and even serve them. We see healing, teaching, feeding, loving, and caring for these people who are living lives directly opposed to God’s law? So, how do we reconcile these thoughts? Do we avoid these folks, or do we love on them? Do we stop at praying for them? Or, do we get into their lives?

These are thoughts I am still tossing around in my mind, but I do know that people will not accept or follow the life-giving message of Jesus if they do not hear it in our voice and see it in our lives. Granted, we are never the ones who convert people, but we can still convey a message of hope and show that there is a way out.

Evil is born from a full embrace of sin. When we reject God and His abundance, we begin to look at the world in a way that was never intended through the process of creation. We also begin to look at ourselves as the one true authority in the universe.

Here is something interesting to ponder, though. So many times, when God comes down hard on sin in scripture, it is in response to the actions of people who claim to follow Him. Sure, people who don’t know Him are mentioned, and even rebuked, but often they are being spoken about in third person. Essentially, they are referred to as the mission and part of the purpose of believers.

So, what are we to do with the verses that tell us to avoid evil and those who promote sin? Well, in many cases these things are being said to believers who are very immature in their faith. A mature follower of Jesus has grown and prayed for the mind and heart of God. He or she has established in their own heart that their deep passion is to see that the lost are found, and the wicked are made clean. Also, their mindset changes as they begin to see these “evil” people through God’s compassionate eyes.

I can’t say that I fully grasp God’s grace and mercy, but I can make assumptions based off what I do know. Here is the way I see it. While sin and evil are synonymous, I think God’s perspective is much deeper than simply writing off transgressors.

Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life…The question, I have is “what are we doing to offer people life as an alternative to death?”

We need to stop looking at people as evil and instead start looking at them as hurting, dying, and in need of rescue.

That man who is on his third drunken binge this week…is he sinning? Yes

That single lady caught up in promiscuity…is she sinning? Yes

That person who abandoned their family…are they sinning? Yes

But…before we call them evil let’s ask ourselves if…

that man is trying to medicate the memories of a past abuse,


this lady has never seen a healthy relationship…

or even

if this person went through a crisis that they never worked through in a healthy way.

Leading people out of sin means investing in them. It means sometimes getting dirty. God wants us to be a living sacrifice, and while we are never called to participate in evil and sin, we are called to help mend broken hearts.

Be someone’s way out today.

Love you all

-Landon DeCrastos

I Struggle Too

I Struggle TooIf I were to be completely honest with you, I would say that this blog post is one of the hardest I have felt led to write. The reason is not because the topic is a difficult one to articulate or the fact that it is a particularly controversial stance on a “hot button” issue, but because of my heart attitude behind it.

As I get closer to Jesus, I have learned that God honors thoughtful response over angry outbursts. He values the offering of hope over a self-righteous decree of condemnation from my own personal soapbox. So, I want to write today out of love, grace, mercy, but firm resolve and I pray that God will be in my words. I want to talk about the concept of racism.


I sat in a big leather chair in front of a woman who had cried so much that I was afraid she would become dehydrated. He husband had cheated on her. The adultery was getting to be too common in their marriage, and after multiple transgressions, he once again told her it “would never happen again”. This woman was broken, angry, and had practically given up on long term joy in her life. My heart filled with my own brand of anger when she told me the lies that were told and the sins that were committed. The man that she was married to made her feel inferior. He made her believe things about herself that were not true. He made her think this was all her fault. On top of this, over the period of several years, he had made sure that she was removed from opportunities, relationships, more education and much of the outside world as a method of domination and control. She prayed that God would help her and He did. She divorced him and years later, she married the man of her dreams. She also forgave her ex-husband.

The problem is, I really want to hate this man. The carnal part of my human existence wants to show him how wrong he is, and make him pay. I know, however, that a life lived controlled by God’s spirit compels us to seek a much higher level of conduct.

You see, if Christ lives in a person, has complete control, and has forgiven them…it is really hard to go on living with hatred towards another human being. That doesn’t mean that the temptation is not there, but there is a power that is greater in you than that which is in the world.

Racism, at its core, is a systematic desire for a group or groups to express their perceived superiority over others. Often times they will single out a particular community, and do what they can to separate them from society, tell them lies, and openly display their hate for them. In essence, there is not much difference between an adulterer and a racist individual. With that being said, there is a part of me that wants to treat someone who is racist with the same contempt as I would the adulterer. I can’t though. I can’t because I have no idea what type of lies that person has been told throughout their life, and I have to believe in my heart that they are eligible for restoration and love as much as I am. If Jesus cannot heal them, then His death on the cross was a waste of time. Sin is sin.

This doesn’t make the whole issue any less frustrating though. I have heard people who wear gold crosses around their necks say the most awful things about people of different races. This is confusing for many reasons.

So, here is my overall thought. There is no such thing as a Christian racist. I say this, because I have heard people getting upset at the Church for racist acts they have seen in media outlets. And, there have been people who have displayed racism in their lives who claim to be believers. Let me make this very clear. Not disagreeing with the Bible, going to church on occasion, and being raised in a semi-religious home does not  make someone a Christian. Nor does giving oneself the label of “good”. A Christian is someone who desires to be like Christ, associates themselves with His crucifixion and resurrection, allows God to transform them, allows the Holy Spirit to guide them, and who has accepted the forgiveness that Jesus offers; all while bearing the fruit of the Kingdom. So, there is no such thing as a “Christian racist”. It cannot exist. Christianity and racism are like oil and water. Sure, there are people who have accepted Christ and who have had to repent of old habits that have arisen temporarily, but that leads to deep grieving and change.


Jesus led by example, and when He wanted to emphasize a virtue, He displayed the virtue through His action. Look at the story of the Woman at the Well in John chapter 4. There were two main issues being addressed when we look deep into this story. The first issue was the sin (and thus the cure) in the life of the woman (who happened to be a Samaritan). Water was just the illustration. Jesus offered her a way out of her constant searching for love, fulfillment, and forgiveness. Jesus took care of all of that, and offered her abundance. The second issue pertained to race. This woman was astonished that a Jew would even speak to a Samaritan, not to mention offering her something to drink. This was unheard of, because of the deep racial divide. In other areas of scripture, the implication is that even the disciples accepted this divide as common. Jesus shatters this mentality, loved this woman, and contradicted the culture.

Hope exists, because there is a God who fashioned all of us from the same dust. This same God declared that we were made in His image. This is a foundational belief in the Judeo-Christian world view. Hope comes from the fact that God forgives and transforms human hearts. He forgives.

The old me wants to hate people that are full of racism and hatred. I have realized that this type of hate is the same brand of hate as those wielded by racist individuals; only in different packaging.

So, a Christian, if guided by the Holy Spirit would spend more time serving, loving, giving, feeding, clothing, proclaiming truth, and praying than complaining and allowing anger to fester and grow. In fact, Jesus did his ministry in the shadow of pagan statues, unholy temples, and hateful hearts. His mind and heart were focused on the people, and He knew the only true kingdom was not this way.

The heart of the Christian is occupied and Jesus does not need a roommate. Hate does not fit.

As followers of Jesus we are called to speak out against hatred of every kind. We are also called to serve those who are not following God.

I end all my blogs the same way…but today I mean it more deeply than I have in the past. With a broken heart yearning for reconciliation, I say it once again…

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

I’m Sorry, America

I’m sorry, America
Please accept my apology
For only thinking about myself
And less about your eternity

We see struggles in this place
Of every conceivable kind
Struggles that are buried deep within
And others that are easier to find

The world is in turmoil
We see fighting, famine, and strife
People often feel so lonely
With no immediate hope in their life

I’m not sorry for what I have done
But rather what I have not
I have a story that has blessed me
But I rarely share the plot

I’m sorry for not sharing what I know
The most vital message of all
That Jesus came to save the lost
And reverse the curse of the fall

Each day in the local news
We see addiction, anger, and hate
And here I sit in my comfortable chair
Mentally judging people’s fate

I’m sorry for not sharing Jesus with you
Like I absolutely know I should
I think it is fear, or laziness
Or other things that feel so good

I can’t speak for every person
I can only speak for myself
I just know there are times
When I put my beliefs on the shelf

I know I should share about God
And about a life changing choice
To accept the Creator’s love
And hear His delivering voice

If I would have done what is right
If I could have eliminated my fear
I could have made this world better
And accomplished my mission here

So, I am sorry America
The problem is partly me
I will promise to share the hope
That I have found Jesus to be

I once was lost, but now I am found
I was blind but now I see
Jesus rescued my life from the grave
And changed my eternity.

Even in the mess we are in
For which I am partly to blame
I resolve to share hope and joy
And love the world around me in Jesus name.

-Landon DeCrastos

Offend the Night

That lump in your throat.
It’s injustice and hate.
It’s disappointment
when God seems to be too late
we see kids dying
adorned with flies.
We see politicians
replacing truth with lies
we see disunity
among those dark and light
as if human skin color
is looked at as a plight
we wish to go our own way
and regard our bodies as our own
we witness unbearable evil
invading our comfortable homes
we are desensitized to greed
because we still want more
we let impurity in
through the front door
We are utterly surprised
when people are sold and bought
As if everyone else is to blame
and we are not
when are we going to really see
the true cause of this all?
A dependence on our own wills
Humanity has devolved to a crawl
The God who made human hearts
Is calling us to obey
Not to confine our freedoms
But because abundance comes through His way
Many can’t do the equation
The dots simply do not connect
If we will look at the world around us
And simply pause to reflect
“Giving Jesus a try”
is simply not enough
He wants our whole hearts
No matter how impure and rough
Transformation will infect the world
And will show people what is right
If we embrace freedom’s call
And offend the seemingly endless night
-Landon DeCrastos

The Coming King (Repost)

When will we erase these hateful notions
That the cure for debate involves explosions
Realizing bitterness is a sour potion
Wishing our enemy would die

It makes no sense that the color of skin
Or the past life, or where people have been
Or even who you claim as closest of kin
Could feed the posionous lie

I believe in 2 or 3 generations
Racism will be purged, uniting the nations
The king will come and restore relations
And lift our spirits high

Really, I am no better than you
I was born sinful and needed rescue
I have even lived through pain too
And bleed like any other guy

What I fear is a world for my kids
Women being sold; bought by high bids
Babies dying; abortion…SIDS
Evil and good locked in a tie

I think though, everything will be fine
As long as humans who have a spine
Acknowledge the One who gave us a sign
For, in the end, He will descend from the sky.

-Landon DeCrastos

The Coming King

When will we erase these hateful notions
That the cure for debate involves explosions
Realizing bitterness is a sour potion
Wishing our enemy would die

It makes no sense that the color of skin
Or the past life, or where people have been
Or even who you claim as closest of kin
Could feed the posionous lie

I believe in 2 or 3 generations
Racism will be purged, uniting the nations
The king will come and restore relations
And lift our spirits high

Really, I am no better than you
I was born sinful and needed rescue
I have even lived through pain too
And bleed like any other guy

What I fear is a world for my kids
Women being sold; bought by high bids
Babies dying; abortion…SIDS
Evil and good locked in a tie

I think though, everything will be fine
As long as humans who have a spine
Acknowledge the One who gave us a sign
For, in the end, He will descend from the sky.

The Problem With the Cross

crossIt had already been a long morning when we find this bloody man dragging a torture device through the center of town. People were yelling, shaking their fists, and some were keeping quiet for fear of being ostracized for their position that reflected the minority opinion. Many people have met their doom in this way, but not many have received such publicity.

If you think about it, the whole circumstance was a rather impractical way to die. The individual hung on a cross for a long period of time in public view for the sole purpose of humiliation. Death was a secondary bonus as far as the Romans were concerned. The act of being displayed before and during expiration was the modern equivalent of a billboard propagating the idea that this government was supreme.

So, here was this man, who was declared publicly innocent by the governor thus giving the screaming mob an out to possibly assuage their own guilty conscience. Minutes later he is beaten and forced to drag a cross for the amusement of hundreds. His countenance reflected someone with courage and missional resolve. He didn’t put up a fight, and acted almost as if he was marking items off of a task list. His heart was fixed on what was next, but at the same time his mind was meditating on what had already come to pass. Generations of people who claimed to know and love God…and every one of those generations falling into disobedience. Not this time though. He was going to end this cycle. This story started with the perfect couple, who doubted God’s perfect word. The story reaches its pinnacle here. A story defined by stripes, blood, and sacrifice.

This story has become so common in Christian ritual. It is something that is taught to children in a more tame setting, and conveyed to nonbelievers in a way that does not offend. We wear beautiful representations around our necks as fashion accessories, and buy them to match our home decor. Here is the problem with the cross. It is ugly. It is dirty. It is cruel. Yet, for this man, who made this event his vocation…it was strangely comfortable. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was infinitely painful, but there was a peace about it that follows anyone who finds themself being funneled into the center of God’s will.

Here is another problem with the cross. It demands for us to be more than we think we can be on our own. We can look at Jesus and agree that this story is life changing, but it really isn’t if we never allow it to penetrate our hearts and change our direction. There is something about this story that should cause us to fear what could have been. If Christ would not have done this, we would have been a goner. The problem with the cross is that we can’t take it back. It happened. We wish we could change things, but we can’t. We caused it, and now we have no right to complain about it. Our sin brought this upon Him. It is our fault.

Yet…that was not what was on His mind. We were. His love for us consumed Him. That’s the ultimate problem with the cross. We deserve it, but he accepted it.

-Landon DeCrastos

Dear Enemy

The evil that turns away the human heart
I have battled you before
That which destroys the souls of men
Which erodes to the core

Know that I see your smug face
Peaking behind their eyes
Laughing as if you have won
Whispering to them your lies

Don’t think you will have them for long
Your play time is almost through
Get the tantrums out of your system
Because your number is almost due

To be honest, I think you are scared
I think you are trembling with fright
You know you don’t have a prayer
In fact, you hide under the cover of night

You are merely a weak pest
That leads so many astray
If it were up to my strength
Your work would end today

So, be on our guard, dear dragon breath
Be on the look out for me
I have the winner on my side
And His name is Victory.

Look out behind you; enemy of souls
Put a chain on your gate
The church is about to mobilize
You are about to meet your fate

You have taken too many friends
Yet you are entitled to none
Have your fun now weak serpent
The battle has already been won.

-Landon DeCrastos

We Are Becoming Toxic

toxicDo you remember the TV show “Captain Planet”? I sure do. This show came on right after I woke up every weekday morning. It was the show I watched after I had gotten ready for school and I waited to go out to the bus stop. If you have never seen this show, I invite you to grab a DVD (or VHS) of the various episodes from your local library. The premise of the show centered around a group of friends who were each given a magical ring by Mother Earth (Gaia) that had a certain unique power. The rings had the power of wind, water, fire, earth, and heart (or love). The kids who possessed these rings had the ability to battle against enemies who desired to destroy the world through pollution. When these powers were combined, they created a powerful nature-conscience superhero called “Captain Planet”. As kids, we knew that this show was really a commercial for “living green”, but whatever the agenda of the show, it was definitely entertaining.

In this show, the most powerful foe that Captain Planet faced was the supervillian “Captain Pollution”. This villian was created through the combination of powers from evil rings called the “rings of pollution” that were created to be the antitheses of the good rings possessed by these children mentioned above. The powers included smog, toxins, radiation, deforestation, and hate. Got it? Ok…I am done with your nerdy superhero history lesson…let’s move on.

Besides the obvious themes of recycling and protecting nature, I think this show can give us an illustration of the way, I believe, humanity tends to lean in regards to the gifts God has given us. Our gracious Heavenly Father has gifted us with so many great things in life, and for some reason, we have  tendency to distort them to their antithesis. Those things that were intended for good; humanity has always found a way to pervert.

When we look at things like sex, stewardship, love, loyalty, joy, and even worship, for example, we can see the “rings of pollution” that were created by us in response. These responses, such as immorality, greed, selfishness, control, worry, and legalism, were all created when God had been abandoned out of insecurity. Think about it, even death was created from our disobedience and rejection of life.

In the Old Testament, when Moses went up on Mt. Sinai to speak with God, the people who were left at the base of the mountain, were encouraged to worship and trust in God while they waited for their leader to return. By the time Moses had returned they already had fashioned a golden idol to worship. Their insecurity drove them to the antithesis of what they were called to do. They had taken the golden gifts they were given and melted them down to create something they could control, but nothing that could help them.

Christians are not exempt from this concept. I know, for me, there have been many times in which I have felt as if God were far away. When I have reflected on these instances, I have found that a large reason why I felt this way was because, at some point, I began to rely on my own resources or power to get me through a situation. With great intentions, I fashioned an idol that looked strikingly similar to my own reflection. Worship became about me.

I think we need to repent. We need to repent of the gifts that we have “melted down” for the purpose of turning them into idols. The gifts that God gives are always God. Keep God at the center and we can access His power through the gratitude we give Him for these gifts.

Operate out of love and trust today.

-Landon DeCrastos

Do You Want Sin With That?

burgerSometimes there is nothing more convenient that taking a little detour through your local fast food establishment, and picking up a greasy burger. No matter how much of a health nut you are, anyone can admit that the ease of picking up a cheap meat-fix is unrivaled by any other nourishment. Doctors will tell us that these meals are not a part of a recommended diet…and sometimes, when these health professionals tell us this all we hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher. In fact I think there have been times when my doctor has explained the dangers of this type of diet and all I could think about was who currently has a promo for a sandwich with a pretzel bun.

Since my family has been eating healthier, this type of eating is more rare, but it still creeps into our regimen from time to time. It really isn’t detrimental if it is extremely rare, and every one knows that moderation is key in this context. No matter how often I tell myself this though, it seems like I fall into old habits and it is just so easy to eat this way regularly. No matter how many times someone tells me that this lifestyle is okay in moderation, the temptation sucks me in. I have realized that I have to be extra careful. The truth is there have been times when I have been addicted to this food. It starts with one meal, then someone else will pay the next day, and then we get home late the next day and that time is supposed to be our last. We then reflect on our month, and it is riddled with cheap meals with little nutritional value. When we are in the moment, there are so many excuses…they seem to make so much sense.

Something else interesting happens… I have found that, when I eat this way, I become more lethargic about my health. It becomes a lower priority, and relaxing moves higher on the list.

When we are involved in sin, we see similar symptoms. Each action seems okay in moderation, but after a while we begin to make excuses for why we are entitled to feel the way we do. We become lethargic about our own transformation because it is too hard. You see, sin is a form of spiritual nourishment…At the time it seems so satisfying and a craving is extinguished for a temporary time, but the more we allow ourselves to be overcome by it, we realize the power it has over us. Our anger, unforgiveness, addictions, or pride seems justified at the time and the easiest thing in the world is to give into it. THEN, as we become more comfortable with this lifestyle of giving into temptation, we become less comfortable with healthy behaviors (i.e. church, fellowship, giving, prayer, etc). If we allow it to win, we then find ourselves feeding bitterness until we transform into a being we were never intended to be.

Stop making excuses and choose health over sin. God loves you too much to allow you to be hypnotized into death.

-Landon DeCrastos

Fighting an Old Friend

Fear is an interesting force. It is something that can slow progress and halt our growth. It is something that everyone experiences from time to time. Why?

Why do we fear so many things?

We fear that the worst will happen, that one person will be mad, death, bankruptcy, and a laundry list of other things. Some even fear being afraid. Does this seem rational?

To us, in the moment, it seems very rational. I think there is something within everyone that activates when we experience fear that truly believes that we can change a potential outcome simply by being afraid. We know fear is not a great thing, and we really do not want to have it, but most people, when confronted about their fear will defend it with all they have. It is toxic. It steals our joy. It even sometimes manifests itself in physical illnesses.

But……it is familiar.

Let’s look at it honestly. Sometimes the worse case scenerio actually does happen. We are forced to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do run out of money for bills, that one person exits our life, or everything falls apart. Then what?

Some, out of fear, will give up altogther…thinking that inactivity will solve their problems. The fact is this only perpetuates a fearful spirit. If you think about it, many of the terrible things that we are going through right now have more to do with fearing the worst and actually experiencing the worst. Those that choose to learn from what happened realize that God can produce fruit from their struggle.

When we put our faith in God, it is on His resources that we rely. This means, fear of a potential outcome is not a right we can claim because it is not us that has the responsibility of coming through. God uses us, guides us, and fills us with His spirit for a reason. So that we do not have to rely on what we have to make sure things happen the way they should.

Let’s not be afraid anymore. Even if it is not going to be okay…..it will be okay. That family member you lost, the money you can’t get back, the person who has walked out…….God will use this to grow you and build your testimony. It doesn’t mean He caused it to see you suffer, but He can use anything for His glorious outcome.

-Landon DeCrastos