Sin

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Spiders

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

I gotta admit: spiders are not my new best friends. I don’t freak out when I see them, not do I lovingly say, “Oh, hello Mr. Spider. Welcome to my world! I’m going to let you live because I believe that all creatures great and small ought to live.”

Nope…that’s not me. I don’t know what it is like where you live but there are certain times of the year when spiders seem to be prolific. Their webs are a nuisance. Walking through them and getting that sticky stuff on my face is enough to make me convulse. And I despise seeing their webs visible on my outside mirror and elsewhere, telling me they found a home. When that happens I do what I can to find them and get rid of them.

I recently read a quote from a blog entitled 5 Pastoral Proverbs that Stuck by Jared Wilson. The #5 proverb was

You don’t just wipe away the web; you’ve got to crush the spider

Jared accredits it to Steven Taylor, one of his pastors when he was a kid. His point is important. You don’t just wipe away the effects of sin; you’ve got to be extreme, go to the source of temptation.

That’s good advice. We once had carpet in our house that had pet smell, and even stains from the previous owners. We took out the part of the carpet we thought was the source and had tile put down (Kitchen). Nope. After vainly fighting the stain issue, we finally had to rip up the carpet and pad. That was the only way to get rid of both the smell and the stain.

We need to cut the “heart” out of sin by going to its source. Then crushing it that spider.

Counterfeits

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Last week I ran out of time in my consideration of idols. My last post, in fact, stated that I would list some idols we have today. Then time slipped by, life got hectic and I failed to finish my thought. (That happens a lot lately. Is that a sign of old age?) 🙂

So…what are some idols we have. Pastor Timothy Keller calls our idols “counterfeit gods.” He calls them “anything more important to us than God, anything that absorbs our heart and mind more than God, anything we seek to give us what only God can give.” So here is a list…albeit a short one…and an incomplete one.

Idol #1: Stuff. We live in a materialistic society. We like our stuff. But is it necessary? What place does it have in our lives? Questions to ask: do I really need all this stuff? If God asked me to let it go, could I?

Idol #2: Money. J.D. Rockefeller was once asked, “How much does it take to make me rich?” His answer: “Just a little bit more.” Tragically, our society has bought into this trap. I’m sorry to say many televangelists live off the pockets of others and become wealthy.

Idol #3: Sex. The statistics of internet use of pornography are staggering. It is more toxic and addictive than any other drug. Men and (more and more) women who would never think of taking meth, heroine, coke, or some other drug, find themselves enslaved by this drug.

My next post will list the next three. Absorb what you read here. Then ask yourself some hard questions. I already have and will continue doing so.

Control

Monday, January 16th, 2017

I suspect many of you have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Next to Back to the Future, it is my favorite trilogy of movies. The central plot focuses on The Ring of Power fashioned by the Dark Lord Sauron. This ring corrupts whoever has it. No matter how good his or her intentions are, the ring’s power eventually corrupts even the purest heart. Enter Frodo. Frodo is given the task of taking the ring to Sauron’s lair to destroy it. We watch throughout the three movies as the ring’s power begins to take over and control Frodo’s every waking and sleeping moment. The finale has Frodo on the precipice of where he needs to throw the ring, and with Sam yelling, “Throw it in Frodo!” we watch as Frodo turns to Sam and says, “No Sam. It’s mine” and puts it on. The power of the ring had taken control of Frodo. It had enslaved him.

Idols are like that. They slowly and subtly take over, often without us even knowing it is happening. Pastor Tim Keller calls an idol a “counterfeit god.” He goes on to call an idol:

Anything more important to us than God, anything that absorbs our heart and mind more than God, anything we seek to give you only what God can give.

In my next post I plan to give 6 examples of idols we face today…many we don’t even realize are idols.

Oh…thanks for hanging in there with me over the past couple of months. I’ll give an update on my accident in the next week or so. But I do thank you for your prayers.

Forgiveness

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

I realize forgiveness is a much-talked about subject. That’s okay. I talked about it some more today (Sunday).  🙂  In my mind, I can never talk about it or grace enough.

Psalm 130 opens with a cry from the depths by the psalmist. What is in question is why is he in the depths? Is it because of suffering or because of sin? Both are legitimate thoughts. I said that in my sermon. But I also felt there was a big need to let people know if he is speaking of sin there were four thoughts to keep in mind:

  1. God’s forgiveness is inclusive. Verse 4 tells us that. We would do well to stop putting a premium of one over another.
  2. God’s forgiveness is for now. The verse uses the word “is.” The Hebrew grammar is even more intense. There is no verb. It literally says, “With You forgiveness.”
  3. God’s forgiveness is for those who want it. Confess sin; don’t cover it up. The psalmist is pleading for mercy.
  4. God’s forgiveness leads to godly living. Verse 4 says, “that you may be feared.” I can hear some saying, “Wait! Shouldn’t that say loved?” Biblical fear has to do with a reverence and awe of God.

The important thing to remember is this: forgiveness is not dependent on feeling forgiven. God’s promise is unfailing.

I know there were  those in attendance who needed to hear that. (And probably some not there). Maybe you do as well.

Sin

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

A bad word these days. I know. No one wants to hear sin called sin, especially if what they believe or how they act is diametrically opposed to the Bible. I am also aware there are some who have written off the Bible as a standard to live by. I’m not going to argue that point. Sunday in my sermon I brought out three words used for sin and then ultimately three things God has done for sin. They are found in Psalm 32.

First word used is in verse 1- “transgression.” That word literally means “a going away” or “departure.” In this case “a rebellion” against God and His authority.

Second word used is also in verse 1- “sin.” The Hebrew word is the equivalent to the Greek word which means “missing the mark. ” It was an archery term for “falling short of the target.’

Third word us is in verse 2- “iniquity.” It literally means “corrupt,” “twisted,” or “crooked.”

But here is the good part! Along with those words David also includes what God has done for each of them.

For “transgression” he says “forgiven.” Psalm 103:12 says “he removes our sin as far as the east is from the west.”

For “sin” he says it is “covered.” This hearkens back to the OT sacrifice  at the Mercy Seat (the covering of the Ark).

For “iniquity” he uses a negative. It describes what God not do. “He will not count your iniquity against you.” The word count is a bookkeeping term for keeping a ledger. God does not stand there with this huge ledger marking off the good and bad we do.

The best news of all? The slate is wiped clean. We are forgiven completely and immediately and it is never brought up again. I like that type of news. Do you?

 

Divided

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Have you ever been divided? I mean, have you ever wanted to not do something but felt compelled to do it? That feeling of not wanting to was largely based on the subject matter.

I’m feeling that way right now. I strive to make this blog an uplifting, fun, light-hearted, diverse take on life. But there are times when I find myself writing something which is none of the above. Like now…

In one of my past posts, I talked about the healing and transformation which needs to take place in many lives due to predators. It garnered-not a lot of comments-but it did garner some very thoughtful and thought-filled ones. I’ve been reading more of Healing The Wounded Heart and ran across some important thoughts I’d like to pass along. I am no professional counselor so please keep that in mind.

Under a section entitled Evil’s Plan for Sexual Abuse it says

  1. Evil is a Thief
  2. Evil is a Murderer
  3. Evil is a Destroyer

It is #2 which captured my thoughts. Evil is a killer that delights in taking life and destroying hope. Evil knows that to the degree we are discouraged and defeated, we will not fight for survival. To not fight is to capitulate, to surrender. It wants to plunge us into despair.  And the following is what really hit me:

“There are two primary consequences of despair: dissociation and indulgence. Dissociation is a deep inner disconnection from reality…Dissociation in inevitable for a child or adolescence caught in the web of abuse…Dissociation is not a choice; it is a survival mechanism.” (p.40)

Like I said, I am not a counselor, but my experience with people says those who dissociate often add other struggles which magnify the problem…not solve it. Food, drink, sex, work, TV, pornography to name a few. In an effort to be free, they become slaves to something sometimes even more insidious.

The goal of evil (the enemy) is to steal, kill and destroy. Resisting the enemy is no small fete but if we want to win this battle it starts with “both fists up and wailing away.” All in the power of the Holy Spirit. “Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.”

To love life involves change-at some of the most painful places of all. I know this is not a “fun and games” post, but it can be an encouragement post. Don’t shy away from people who are struggling. Be there for them. Tell them you are fighting alongside them, that they are not alone.

Stone16

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

If you are like me you are tired of hearing about some girl named Ashley Madison. I just read today about a professor/pastor who committed suicide because his name was on the list.

I’m sorry for bringing that “lady” up in this post but it does give me a way to introduce my thoughts on this stone. It is easy to set people up as idols, as people who are bigger than life, only to watch them fall from the pedestal we have put them on. I’m not denying the whole idea of higher moral expectations we do and should place upon leaders in the Christian community, but for someone to take their own life because of shame is beyond comprehension. I can’t understand the devastation the exposure caused to him and what his family must be feeling right now.

The real tragedy is we set people up for a fall when we idolize. Sin doesn’t happen overnight. Giving into temptation doesn’t happen overnight. No one wakes up and says to themselves, “Well, self, let’s destroy my life and those around me today.” For something to happen like this it had to have been festering for awhile in the heart. An affair festers in the heart. It may have started with pornography, with an “innocent” chat at the water cooler or office, a passing comment, or some other form of interaction. Soon the seed planted in the heart becomes an overgrown weed.

I’m drawn to Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery in John 8. But more with the hypocritical Pharisees who dragged her to Jesus with accusations flying. His response to her ought to be ours. GRACE. No stones. Perhaps if we started looking at the blackness of our own heart we might not be so judgmental when it comes to others.

Any thoughts? This is part of my random posts based on this book.

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Stone14

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Have you ever wished you were further along in your Christian walk than you are (assuming you are a follower of Jesus)? I have met a number of people who bemoan the fact they still struggle with temptation and sin.

I say, “Hello! Welcome to the world of following Jesus!”

For some lame reason there are people who have this mistaken idea 1) they shouldn’t be sinning like they do; and 2) they should at least be further along than they are.  The first…well…it is true sin should become distasteful for us but to stop sinning? Yeah, it ain’t going to happen in this lifetime. The second… well…there is some truth to that at times. Just like we expect a baby to grow up from infancy to toddlerhood to elementary school to high school and beyond, we should also have some expectation for growth in our faith walk. We would be concerned if our child never got beyond breast milk or a bottle and soft baby food. In the same vein we should “expect” to see a person moving from milk to meat.

But one thing has to be kept in mind: spiritual growth happens one step at a time. Trying to leap frog people simply does not work.

Randy’s contention (and I agree) is often our expectations out reach where a person is. In other words, we need to see people where they are now not where we think they ought to be. No one grows at the same pace and we do a great disservice to everyone expecting equal “standing.” Furthermore, we need to do away with name calling like “lazy,” or “apathetic,” or “carnal,” or “not dedicated.” 

Let’s follow Jesus’ example.  During the breakfast on the shore, Jesus didn’t castigate Peter. He didn’t say, “Peter, you should have known better.” He restored him and said, “Feed my sheep.” Maybe we ought to start taking the same approach toward people.  What say you?

This is my ongoing random posts about this book. I’m also foregoing my normal sermon “hint” because I am not preaching this week. I’m sure Ryan will appreciate your prayers.

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Thoughts

Monday, June 29th, 2015

After being out of the office since last Wednesday I found today hard-going. So much so that I delayed writing a post because I had a sermon to work on (this Sunday’s which I thought was already done). Plus…I didn’t want to just throw something together for the sake of getting it posted.

So…I decided to give my thoughts. About what?

This past weekend’s SCOTUS decision? Well…yes…AND…no.

I was working on that sermon I already mentioned when this Scripture came up: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” [Gal.5:13]

We live in a day of liberation. Men, women, even children, are demanding more freedom to do as they please. Is there any who doubt that statement? (Pause: remove head from sand. Unpause). In the name of personal rights, authority is flaunted and restrictions are resisted. Again…no need to elaborate.

Tragically, while we live in a day crying for liberation, we are also living in a day prevalent with addiction- alcohol, drugs (prescription and others), pornography, sexual passions, violence, and many other forms of bondage which many are powerless to escape. When people choose their own recourse and their own standard, the resulting consequences eventually consume them. [Read here for proof] Fallen man is a slave to his sinful nature, an addict who cannot successfully control his sinful thoughts and actions on his own.

However, there is a way out. It is a Man…a Man called Jesus. In John 8:34 Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” But in verse 36 He said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Since we are all sinners we are all in need of being set free.

That won’t stop the “judgment-meter-outers” (yeah I know not a word). As I have often mentioned to the church, the standard is the Bible so there is to be no compromise. However, any judgment given must be given in love. Not hate. Not with a caustic edge. Love wins…not in the way they say…but love wins.

There is no deeper love than the love of the Father for His wayward, fallen children. Aaaaah that would be me. That would be you. Can we do any less than show love to others?

Stone6

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

I’m back from a few days away and thought I would ease back into blogging with another Stone from this book. I was going to “tease” things with the title of Bedroom but after doing something like that once several years ago I decided I didn’t want any unwanted spam. Yeah, you know what I mean. 🙂

What does Randy mean by bedroom?

I have, along the way, met some people who have regretted their lives. They will make statements like “If I had to do it all over again…” Or “I feel like I missed out on some things by being (you fill in the blank). I know there are those who think they have missed out on a lot of “satisfying things” by being a Christian. By using the phrase “bedroom life” Randy is speaking of those who are looking for things which happen in a bedroom: pleasure, ease, freedom, unaccountability, and selfishness.

Let’s be honest please: the temptation to think things are greener on the other side is prevalent. I’m not just talking about the bedroom. How often have you/I said, “If I only had a few thousand…” What we think would answer our emptiness might “satisfy” for a short period, but long term it would only bring unwanted heartache. A man/woman thinks that fling will take care of the “longing” he/she isn’t getting at home, but it will eventually give way to hurt, betrayal, fatigue, more discontent, and perhaps worst of all…guilt.

As Randy says, “The bedroom life is only an illusion.” (p.41) Stories abound about the loneliness and disillusionment which comes from a life outside reality. It is only a mirage. One which tricks us into craving and accepting only to leave us grasping at empty promises.

There is only one life which satisfies: the life found in Jesus. It may be filled with potholes and all kinds of junk right now, but the final end is worth it.

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 By the way: I did not take my computer with me the past few days and only used my phone to listen to music on YouTube (you probably wouldn’t like my style), check for some important emails I was expecting, and some minor texting. I came back to over 50 unread blogs. Needless to say, I won’t be able to catch up, so please forgive me for not responding to any over the past few days. Thanks.