Or touch his lady, or take his food, or steal his money, or curse his God. Beyond the inherent commandments given in the Bible, I take these as serious offenses that elicit grave consequences (not really the rhubarb, that’s just a line from the first Batman movie––take all the freakin’ rhubarb you want). I expect people to respect those particular elements in my life. I must confess though, I have not always followed my own advice. To whomever I have violated in any of these principles, I am truly sorry. I have never claimed to be a saint but that doesn’t excuse me from misconduct. I have been ashamed, as most of you have also, for things that I have done in the past. Though I can’t guarantee avoiding shameful situations in the future, I feel like I have learned enough not to repeat the same errors over again. Thankfully, He has forgiven me and I hope you will too.
If it makes you feel any better, you can have my Brussel sprouts.
Note: Don’t read into this. Those it applies to know who they are. Don’t sucker punch me next time you see me because you deduced from this that I messed with your woman, ate your French Fries, gambled with your money, or cursed your God (if ours is the same God, I love Him just like you do). This is about my conscience, not about your possessions.
For thirty plus years, my parents kept the kitchen trash can in the pantry. After remodeling the kitchen a few years ago, they moved the location of the trash can. That hasn’t stopped me (even years later) from going to the pantry to throw something away at least once when visiting. It’s maddening! It does make it easier to see why we sometimes continue to struggle with the same sins over and over again. Just like old habits, sin becomes almost ingrained in us. Romans 7:17-19 says, “ As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
I do manage to find the trash can. Actually, it even seems to get easier to take my garbage to the right place the more that I do it. Old sins die hard, but they do die! Do not be discouraged––your sins of yesterday cannot defeat your Savior of today!
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Jesus saves me all at once but he changes me little by little. ~Pastor Steven Furtick
It’s better to break out little by little than to stay in chains for eternity. ~Pastor Steven Furtick
Posted in Bible, Character, Christianity, Death, Faith, Hope, Jesus Christ, Random Thoughts, Sin, Steven Furtick, Truth
Tagged Habits, Jesus Christ, Life, Sin
Back in the day, there was a metal band called Faith No More––maybe some of you have heard of them? Well my pastor preached an intense, encouraging word yesterday from the parable of the prodigal son that made me feel the opposite. I felt so inspired that on the way home from church, I told my wife that I was starting a resolution to sin no more. Yep, I was headstrong on giving up sin. That is of course until her comment quickly brought me back to earth. She said, “Great honey, I’ll go home and fill up the bathtub and you start walking.” OUCH! A test I could never pass. I guess I was asking for that.
Without sin, there would be no separation from God, the parable of the prodigal son would be pointless, Christ would be just another prophet at best, His resurrection a fraud, and His work on the cross useless. Actually, without sin would there even be a Christ (or a need for one)? Would there be a God or would we be our own god?
It is because of sin that we know of a perfect, all-powerful God and it is because of a Son that we know the perfect, all-powerful God. Thank God for sin (never thought I’d say that) and His son! Nevertheless, I shall “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (2 Peter 3:14b).”
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. ~ James 1:19-20
This is my prayer for me. This is what I’m asking you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to stand in agreement with me on, that is, keeping my trap shut; it’s what I really suck at. I continually tell my daughter not to say anything if she doesn’t have anything nice to say but find that I don’t really practice what I preach. I am sometimes (or maybe even more often than I recognize) callous with people, including my own family. There have been several occasions in the last couple of weeks that have brought me to this realization. I detest this about me, or more importantly, detest how it likely makes people feel; I am sick of myself and need a change!
Don’t get me wrong, in spite of myself, I’m still a “success” by most people’s standards. I still have friends (that aren’t necessarily like me), I develop great rapport with my patients, I am a trusted and respected team member at work and church, my wife and daughter love me anyway, and most of my family still speak to me. But is it because they have learned to overlook that about me? And how many people have I hurt in the process of “being myself?” Would I even like me if I was my own best friend?
When used with discretion, being direct with people can be a good quality. That’s just not me though––I‘m abrasive instead of assertive, my comments can be hurtful rather than helpful. When I look back over the years, I think I’ve been (and am) a real horse’s rear at times. You may not see it (thank goodness) but that’s because writing is a little different. I have time to formulate my thoughts, proofread what I’ve written, and hold it to rigorous standards. That’s exactly the kind of model that I need to apply to the words I speak. Easier said than done.
Like the praise song, please pray that the Lord would change my heart to demonstrate the righteous life of God that is within me. That He would give me the discipline and ability to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, saying only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs and benefiting those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).
That’s the “speck in my eye” right now. Do you have a vice or shortcoming for which we can stand in prayer together?
Posted in Change, God, Life, Prayer, Random Thoughts, Sin, Transparent
Tagged Change, encouragement, God, Life, Prayer, Random Thoughts, Sin
I was once trying to witness to a guy who had a lot of personal pain. It was easy to see his hurt when he started opening up to me. We had several long conversations over the course of the next couple of weeks and I sensed that I was getting in over my head. He had issues that was beyond my ability to help in any practical way so I continually insisted that he come to church. I knew that if I could at least get him to church, it would be a good first step in pointing him in the direction of some real help. I finally had to get emphatic and insistent saying, “You say you want help but I’m not seeing it. I’ve been inviting you to church and you have yet to come.” He later divulged the reason for: Our church meets in local high school auditoriums and he is restricted as a registered sexual offender from coming within 1,000 feet of a school. Had our services been held in a traditional church setting, there would have been no legal restrictions to him coming. Having an 11 year-old daughter, I must admit that it was a little bit of a struggle to remain objective and non-judgemental. I mean, he absolutely needs Christ, maybe even more than the next guy, but do I want him sitting next to my daughter in service? What are your thoughts?
Does your pursuit of reaching the lost for Christ have limits?
How comfortable are you knowing that there could be sexual offenders going to the same church as your family? If you became aware of an offender attending your church, would you act differently toward the person or would it even matter?