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Category Archives: Sin

You Are Capable (of great sin)

There but for the grace of God go I. (John Bradford)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

I am more than capable. So is everyone. If you deny it you need to repent for lying to yourself and everyone else. (Barnabas Piper)

This is good:

Shelve Your Shock.

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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in God's Word, Grace, Sin, The Church

 

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For Your Consideration 7.12.13

I received “God’s Favorite Place on Earth” by Frank Viola today! Very excited to dig in and offer a review in the coming days.

In the meantime,here are a couple of blog posts published at Desiring God that challenged and encouraged me this week:

If you have not read anything by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, you really must. This piece will give you a taste of not only her story, but her exceptional writing style. An excerpt:

The Bible is not some pragmatist’s paradigm. It is the double-edged sword that chiseled truth into my stony heart, rendering it new and with it, recreating me as a new creature in Christ, a daughter of the King. I have no personal sexual orientation to call my own after Christ chisels my heart anew — and neither do you. We have Christ orientation, an alien identity to which we claim no rights. Do we struggle with sin? Yes. Is temptation a sin? No. What distinguishes temptation from sin? Temptation clobbers you from the outside and lures you to do its bidding. Sin makes temptation a house pet, gets it a collar and leash, and is deceived to believe that it can be restrained by impositions of civility. What you do with temptation reveals Who owns your heart. How you talk about other people’s sin patterns reveals Who owns your heart.

Read the rest here in her post called, DOMA and the Rock.

The second, written by Jonathan Parnell, is Three Things We Should Know About God. And I confess, “Creator” was one of my three. Think of three things that come to your heart and mind when you think of God then read this post. I promise you will be thankful and encouraged. Here’s a sample:

When you think of God, do you think happy? Or do you think stern? Sadly, it is common for us to think of God as a negative caricature would depict him. Do you think of him frowning? Is he seething with anger like a capricious despot? Or do you see him who is glad at heart — glad in the glory of his Son and the communion that they share? Do we see him as the Father who said of Jesus, with no hesitation, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17)? Do we see him as the Father who delights to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32)? Do we see him as the God who overflows with joy when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7)?

So long as sin exists, he feels indignation every day (Psalm 7:11). But at heart — who he is in himself — God is happy. To grasp this truth will work wonders in our souls.

Keep feeding your mind and soul with GOOD things. Drink deeply from God’s rich word, and never stop learning, seeking, growing, thirsting, following hard after Him.

Blessings on you this weekend!

 

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Tragedy. Angst. Evil. Justice. Love.

I have no wisdom in response to today’s senseless violence and loss of life at the little elementary schools in Connecticut and central China (nor the daily violence in the middle east, nor the hideous and silent suffering of millions of women and children enslaved this very moment across the world and in our own neighborhoods…) but I’ve been reading a lot, and here are some words from much wiser individuals…

An Insufficient Answer to the Shooting in Connecticut

Three Ways Christians Should Respond to the Horror of a Broken World

Responding to the Problem of Evil

A Day for Hatred

Where Was God?

Rachel Weeping for Her Children

A Lesson for All from Newton

Implosion update: The demons of violence are on the loose in America. But why? And where do we go from here?

I wish I could hug a mom whose arms are empty tonight. I wish I could hug a mom whose child is safe in bed and she wonders why hers was spared. I wish I could hug the child whose mom’s arms will no longer hold them in this world and I wish I could save every single woman and child who are being held against their will, in slavery for someone else’s sick “pleasure.” Yet I know that the angst I feel is but a drop in the bucket to what my Father feels — and His justice will prevail because He is a God of love — He IS love. And tonight He is surely grieved about our fallen state yet loving on those little Kindergartners who are in His wonderful arms forever.

Boy holding onto his mother

Post Script: A friend just posted this on Facebook — a good resource for comforting those grieving the loss of a child:

Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT to Say and Five Things to Say In a Trauma Involving Children

And here is a very good book on losing on a child written by parents who lived it:

Written in Tears: A Grieving Father’s Journey Through Psalm 103

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Current Events, Sin, Suffering

 

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Broken Resolutions and New Beginnings

What is the real secret of the new year? It’s real secret lies in that we know nothing at all about it. Year after year men and women make their new resolutions. They realize above all else what is needed is a fresh start and a new beginning. They decide to turn their backs on the past, to turn over a new leaf, or even to start a new book of life. That is their desire, that is their firm conviction and intention. They want to break with the past and for a time they do their utmost to do so, but it doesn’t last. Gradually they invariably slide back to the old position and to the old state of affairs. And after a few such experiences they no longer try, and come to the conclusion that all is hopeless. Up to a point, the fight is kept up and maintained, but sheer weariness and fatigue eventually overcome them, the pressure and the might of the world and its way seem to be entirely on the other side and they give in. the position seems to be utterly hopeless.

Well, now, there’s a cheery thought for the new year! But for how many does this ring true? By our own determination we try to keep our new year resolutions. And it lasts for a little while. (My daughter commented last night at how she dreaded January at the gym because beginning January 1 through about mid February, the place was packed with newbies starting their resolutions… for about six weeks.)

This is my first day back at work this year, so the “real” beginning. Thought I should make it count. The above quote comes from a sermon on The Parable of the Prodigal Son by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones (1898-1981). (I wonder if he preached it in January.) He goes on to say (and the rest of this text is largely taken directly from his sermon):

Do  you feel that your life has gone wrong, has gone astray? Are you forever mocked by the haunting spectre of the might-have-been? Do you feel that you have got yourself into such a position, and into such a situation that you can never get out of it and put yourself right again? Do you feel that you are so far away from what you ought to be, and from what you would like to be, that you can never get there again? Do you feel hopeless about yourself because of some situation with which you are confronted, or because of some entanglement in which you have got involved, or because of some sin which has mastered you and which you cannot conquer? Have you turned to yourself and said, “What is the use of making any further effort, what is the use of trying again? I have tried and tried many and many a time before, but all to no purpose, and my trying now can lead to but the same result. I have made a mess of my life, I have forfeited my chance and my opportunity, and henceforth I have nothing to do but to make the best of a bad job.”

The very first word of the Good News (the Gospel) is that people in this position should lift their head! All is not lost—there is still hope, still the possibility of a fresh start, a new beginning. And it can begin right now without a moment’s hesitation, and not by hoping on something imaginary, something that relies on our strength of determination, or something in the unknown future, but rather by leaning of something that happened in the past nearly 2,000 years ago, but which is as strong and powerful today as it was then. There is a possible turning point even along the blackest and most hopeless road. There is a new beginning.

But conditions are attached. Drawing further from the parable, there are three things we must do if we wish to avail ourselves of a new hope and a new start:

  1. First, we must face our position squarely, honestly and truly. It is one thing to be in a difficult position and quite another to face it honestly. Like the prodigal son, we don’t get into that kind of a pickle over night. It’s gradual, it’s quiet, and we scarcely see it at all until we hit bottom. Then we tend to avoid thinking about it. We busy ourselves with other things or say, “what’s the use, here I am anyhow.” But the very first step back is to face the situation honestly and clearly.
  2. The next is to realize that there is only One to Whom you can turn and only one thing you can do. The prodigal had tried and exhausted all his own efforts and the efforts of other people. He was finished and no one could help him but his father. If we pathetically try to cling to our own means, our money, our friends, we will never be pulled from the pit of repetition or the snare of our own doing. The  improvement will only be transient and temporary. You can go on trusting yourself and others and trying with all your might, but a year from now the position will not only be the same but actually worse. God alone can save.
  3. But as you turn to Him, you must realize further that you can plead nothing before Him except His mercy and His compassion. The prodigal left home full of himself, his rights, his own confidence, but he returned determine to be nothing more than a servant in his father’s household, at least they had it better than what he finally made of himself. We are nothing before God—we have turned our back on Him, ignored Him and flouted Him. Yet if we cast ourselves upon Him and His mercy, asking Him if in His infinite goodness and kindness He can possibly make something of us, then all will be different.
  4. If you do, you will find that in your case, as in the case of the prodigal, there will be a real, solid new beginning and new start. The impossible will happen and you will be amazed and astounded at what you will discover. In Jesus Christ, a real genuine new start, and new beginning are possible. And they are possible alone in Him! We see the prodigal son’s father rushing to him as he sees him returning, kissing him, stripping him of his filthy rags of clothes, preparing a huge celebration feast, treating him like the son he always was and not the beggar he had become. God is amazing and surprising. He rises far above our way of thought.
  5. But in order to have a really new start, I require something further. It is not enough that every trace of my past be removed, I require something in the present. I desire to be clothed, I must be robed. I need confidence to start afresh and to face life and its people and its problems. The father does not stop at kissing his son and removing his filthy rags, he clothes the boy with dress that is worthy of a son and places a ring on his finger. He announced to all that his son has returned and clothes him so as to make him feel unashamed when he meets people. No one else could do that but the father.

It is precisely the same with us when we turn to God. he not only forgives and blots out the past, He makes us sons and daughters. He gives us new life and new power. He will so assure you of His love that you will be able to face others unashamed. He will clothe you with the robe of Christ’s righteousness [right standing], He will not only tell you that He regard you as a child, but make you feel that you are one….The world only tries to clean the old suit and make it look respectable. God in Christ alone can clothe us with the new robe and really make us strong. Let the world try to point its finger and remind us of our past. Let it do its worst; we have but to look at the robe and the shoes and the ring, and all is well.

Here is opportunity for a real new beginning. It is the only way. God Himself has made it possible by sending His only Son into this world, to live and die and rise again. It matters not at all what you have been, nor what you are like at the moment. You have but to come to God confessing your sins again Him, casting yourself upon His mercy in Jesus Christ, acknowledging that He alone can save and keep, and you will find that

The past shall be forgotten,

The present joy be given,

A future grace be promised,

A glorious crown in heaven.

My prayer for us all this new year is that we don’t waste time or waste our lives, waiting for some unknown imaginary event or new year resolution to improve our lot. Faith in Christ alone will do that. Such an amazing gift, such a wonderful, unfathomable promise. Time to leave the pig sty and return to the Father.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Grace, Jesus, Salvation, Sin, The Journey

 

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Who Am I to Judge?

How many times have you heard someone misquote scriptures, admonishing us not to judge? Usually these folks also misquote scriptures about loving one another. In their theology we are neither to hold each other accountable nor point out any shortcoming or behaviors that would hinder either the person or the church. We’re just to “love” — whatever that kind of “love” means.

I think one of the reasons the American Church is weak and ineffective is because we have bought into the secular worldview of “tolerance” to the point that commands to encourage one another in the faith are about as watered down as the trite, “I’ll lift you up in prayer” and the wimpy, “Hang in there.” So when a sister in the faith is caught up in sin, or a brother’s actions clearly do not honor or bring glory to God, we look the other way. And those new to the faith or just considering Christ see this and think, “Why should I ‘get saved’? I’m as good or better than they are!” If you can’t tell the difference between the people in the pews and the brothers in the bars, what’s the point of church?

The title “Christian” means “little Christs.” We are to strive to be like Jesus. We are “the called out ones.” We are “set apart.” We are strongly admonished not to love the world or the things in the world. We are God’s family. We are the “bride of Christ.” Now if I dress like a hooker, drink like a fish, swear like a longshoreman, or stab my friends in the backs, you have every right (as my Christian brother or sister) to take me aside and lovingly point out to me my shortcomings (and if I was behaving like that you might also question whether I was following Christ!). I have told my friends that I expect them to show me my blind spots. I think if they don’t, they must not love me very much. Hebrews 3 tells us, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

In order to point out someone else’s mistake you must make a judgment about it. How else can you know? You see the behavior, you compare it to what God’s word says, you make a judgement as to whether it lines up or not, and act or speak accordingly. If you use my bathroom and find porn under the sink, it’s not a stretch to discern a problem. Discernment is sound judgement. Then you need to speak the truth in love. (This is extends to discerning bad from good, from better, from best doctrine as well, but that’s another post for another time…)

In 1 Corinthians 2:14 we read that the spiritual person is to judge all things. We have the mind of Christ. This does NOT mean we make a value judgement on our brother or sister. We do not make a judgment on the “severity” of the sin. We do not judge the heart or the motives. Leave that to the only One who can. Who is to say one sin is worse than another? And why do we presume to classify certain temptations as worse than others? Why do we shun the gay guy but come along side the man struggling with a porn addiction?

In 1 Corinthians 5 we see that church strongly chastised for not grieving over sin practiced by someone in the their midst and were called to remove that person from their fellowship. And of course we all know Matthew 18 where Jesus tell us to show our brother his fault privately. If he doesn’t repent, take a couple of others, and so on. We also know Jesus told us we need to take the ‘log’ out of our own eye before we can help a brother with the ‘speck’ in his. How often do we do this? And how often do we avert our eyes, embarrassed and sad and grieved but unresponsive?

I think another reason for missing the boat in this area is our lack of authentic Christian community. I Corinthians 12 tells us that “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” We are called to bear one another’s burdens and often than burden is unrelenting temptation as in the case of those recovering from addictions or struggling with homosexuality. Doing life together is often messy. We don’t want to get messy with others. So we leave them to struggle alone, we look the other way, we don’t follow Christ’s commands.

We are one body. We are to suffer together, we are to rejoice together. We are to encourage one another and hold one another accountable. We can do none of this if we don’t know each other. Strong and deep community breeds honest relationships; brothers and sisters with log-less eyes helping each other with specks. Outside a few vibrant small groups, I think this is largely missing in the church today. Let’s prayerfully consider how we might cultivate an authentic, vibrant, discerning, sin-confessing, healing community of believers. I’d like that very much.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2011 in God's Word, Obedience, Relationships, Sin, The Church

 

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The Guts and the Grace

Well, it seems there is a great convergence going on. You know: when multiple things come together and form one powerful thing.

It’s like when you experience something; there is a tug at your heart. You start to ask God about it. Then you read something in a devotional, then an article, then read something similar in another book; you take notice, it’s growing. Then you hear a sermon on Sunday, and have a conversation with a friend on Monday; it’s coming together. Two or three blogs you subscribe to seem to be discussing variations of the same theme, then your sister calls you and says the speaker at the conference she’s at is teaching on the subject. You turn to the next chapter in your Bible the next morning, and God’s talking about it, too. It’s becoming clear. Do you think He is speaking? 🙂

My friend and worship pastor likens this phenomenon to tributaries in the rainy season all rushing in to form one big, brown, raging Class V river. Convergence.

This has been happening to me, and yes, the topic is still “Sin.” Why do people not even like to say the word? In reality it’s an archery term that means “missing the mark.” I don’t have any trouble at all telling people I missed the mark. I messed up. Why then do we have a problem saying, “I’ve sinned”??  Maybe a dose of reality would help:

In my last post I quoted from James 5 where we are told to confess our sins to one another and pray for each other so that we may be healed. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” I didn’t read on farther that day, but I did today. The last verse in that chapter reads, “If anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

Wow. That’s pretty powerful. Sin is not only something we should watch out for in our own lives, it is something we should watch out for in the lives of our sisters (and brothers) because it could cost them their lives. I have friends who were “brought back.” This means their friends went after them when they were messing up. Had the guts to do it. Loved ’em enough to do it. I hear those stories and cry. As a “prodigal daughter” three times over, I don’t recall being pursued like that. I don’t remember anyone trying to rescue me. Though perhaps people tried and I was just too stubborn, willful, self-centered, and rebellious to hear. But I do know that there were times when not only was I not pursued, I was shunned. And I wonder how many times I turned an ignorant or a blind eye to my sisters who needed me to have the guts and grace to come after them…

YET — look at the blessing the rescuer gets according to this verse! Having been the drowning, I would like now to be the rescuer. Do we have the wisdom and desire to see and remove the log in our own eye? Do we have the guts and the grace to help a sister out with the speck in hers?

My prayer is for this “convergence” to become one mighty, raging, unstoppable river — sweeping in believers in to its swift current and causing a cleansing, a renewal, a keen and quick understanding of sin, of confession, of repentance, of redemption and of so much love for one another that we cannot bear to see a sister washed ashore and left behind. THIS should be what the church is all about.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Grace, Sin, The Church

 

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Sin? What Sin?

In the American church there is a practice commanded of us that people rarely obey. We are to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed. I think there are many who walk around dealing with physical and spiritual illnesses unnecessarily simply because we refuse to acknowledge, let alone confess, our sins.

This morning I read John Fischer’s blog, The Catch, in which he discusses this. He concludes, “It is far worse, and does greater damage to others and the truth to hide your sin than to bring it out into the open.” Here is a link to the full post:

Claim and Shame

I believe real healing will come to believers who start to sincerely confess their sins to one another, and that revival would break out in any church that started acting like one, especially in this area. And if many churches started acting like they were part of The Church, there were most certainly be a sea change in our Western culture. I would seriously like to be part of that.

Would you?

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in God's Word, Sin, The Church, The Heart

 

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