Sin is just stupid

Sometimes we sin for the dumbest reasons. Sometimes that smallest of sins can have a huge impact. The risks and consequences are grand while the rewards are beyond worthless. You know what I’m talking about because we have all been there. We have all done thing in our lives that we wish we could take back. Things we do in the moment out of pointless fear. We sin sometimes out on instinct. When we sin out of instinct it is because we have depended on the flesh more than we have God.

I had one of those stupid sin moments the other day. All sin moments are stupid, but some are just that more obvious kind of stupid. It was a lie. A simple lie that served no purpose except to save some face. Even after the lie I could not fathom my reason for doing so. It had no purpose. It was done in a moment of panic lead up by other moments of panic culminating in a dependence on my fleshly nature rather than God’s strength. It was met with a period of drain and discouragement, and if I could go back and do it all differently I would in a heartbeat. Life does not give us those kinds of options though, and so we must live with the consequences of our actions.

The consequences are shone through relationships and trust. It makes life irrevocably harder. You see, this is because sin always has a way of coming out. Satan would like you to think you can pull off your sin in secret, but it always has a way of showing itself. You always get shown for the fool you have been. You always come to learn that the consequences are more far reaching than you would have expected in the moment of doing the sin.

It all comes down to having depended on you rather than God. If you depend on yourself for the everyday things then you will likely depend on yourself during a moment of confusion or stress. We tell ourselves we will lean on God when we really need him, but we do not realize is that dependence on God requires practice.

It’s like a football team that practices two minute drills. They do not simply think they will get their act together when they need to during that kind of a situation. They practice to make sure they are prepared as they can be. The more they practice the more they will find the consistency of being in that situation in the first place is small.

Sin is just stupid. It is dumb thoughts followed by dumb actions. The tendency when caught in our sin is to beat ourselves up about it because it is when sin is recognized by someone else that we see the full extent of the stupidity in our actions. We are given a mirror and can see just how foolish and selfish we are. We become embarrassed, and wish so desperately to go back and change our decisions. It’s just not worth it. It’s not worth risking so much for nothing.

We need to stop expecting we will lean on God during the difficult times while depending on ourselves in all other situations. I hate the consequences of sin, but what I hate most is that my sin tells me how short I have come up in relying on God. When I sin I am telling God that I think I have found a better way out of a situation. I am telling Him that I don’t think I need him this time, but to try back later.

I think a lot of times we worry about the consequences of the big sins. We worry about things like pornography or murder. We forget the consequences of the sins we so wrongly view as smaller. There are consequences though. They eat away at you like any other sin. They damage your integrity as much as any other sin. They break trust. They are simply wrong.

Maybe you are reading this today and you can resonate with it. Maybe you are wondering, “Where do I go from here.” Well know you have one more person in that boat with you after reading this. I can’t tell you what you should do. All I can tell you is what I plan on doing next. I plan to move forward. I plan to move forward and be cautious form making the same mistake. I plan on being thankful that God forgives along with those I sin against. I plan to depend on God even more. I plan to rebuild.

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Utterly Dependent

The last 24 hours of my life have been rather exhausting. It has just been one of those times were everything piles up. It is as if bad news just likes to wait for more bad news to appear so that it can pounce on you in a spectacular fashion. You know the kind of days I am talking about. It is those days where you wonder what made God think all of this at the same time was a good idea. What benefit could there possibly be in it?

We can doubt God’s provision when circumstances start crushing us. We can wonder how God decided this was what we needed in these moments. If God new I was going to be dealing with situation A right now, then why not hold off on situation B? Whatever happened to God never giving us more than we can handle?

Yet God does give us both situations A and B at the same time. We are often filled with circumstances beyond our ability to deal with. It is in those moments we are presented with some possible options to deal with everything.

1. Curl up in a ball and wait to die. Some people take this option. They choose to just give in, and let the world that surrounds them crush them with all of its force. They give up and let themselves be engulfed in the chaos. This option is an available one, but not very pleasant.

2. Try and push through it anyway with our own ability. We often try and juggle all the chaos around us, and think if we can just get past this point then we will be ok. If you can just fix one of the issues then you can devote all your time to the other issue. This option often ends with us becoming fatigued and drained to be prepared for the next inevitable wave of chaos and struggle.

3. Depend on a higher power. God loves you. Seriously. If you are reading this, and feel this post relates to your circumstances right now then the first thing I want you to understand is that God loves you. It is not just some silly little phrase said in that cheesy show “Touched by an Angel”. He loves you so much that He paid your debt of sin. It’s not just that He paid that debt, but He actually had the power to do it. He conquered death itself. What makes us think He can’t deal with our petty little problems?

This concept was one of the first things I ever wrote about on this blog back in May. This lesson has been required a reminder in my life over these past 24 hours. A lot of the issues we face are outside our control. Sometimes they are struggles with health. Other times they are heartbreak over the pain in the lives of loved ones. Sometimes it is just a spiritual dryness that eats away at you.

It’s time for me to continue my commitment. My commitment that is echoed in the title of this blog. A commitment to remain completely and utterly dependent on the one who nailed my biggest burden on a cross. Whatever your struggles are there is an important lesson to remember. It is the biggest lesson to learn in the midst of trials and struggles. Depend on God. Don’t lost sight of Christ. Have faith. Take heart my friends. Cling to hope, depend on God, and have faith. I would say more, but I really have nothing else to say.

Where I belong

Lyrics from Switchfoot “Where I belong”

“Feeling like a refugee
Like it don’t belong to me
The colors flash across the sky”

I think we all crave to belong. It is a desire that is written into our DNA. We hunger for a place that fits so perfectly. It is always a place that we can never fully describe. The only words we can use to explain it is, “I will know it when I get there.” I think we find places on this earth that are a close match. Places where we can experience fellowship, love, and charity with family and friends. Places that make us feel safe. A place that gives us purpose. Somewhere where we feel we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.

“This air feels strange to me
Feeling like a tragedy
I take a deep breath and close my eyes
One last time
One last time

Storms on the wasteland
Dark clouds on the plains again
We were born into the fight”

It becomes frustrating when we can never seem to find that place where we truly belong. That place that feels so right that we could never let go of it even if we wanted to. We find mirrors to that place on this earth, but even then realize part of it is still missing. It drives us to hunger for that place. The closer we come the more we yearn to get there.

“Feels like we’re just waiting, waiting
While are hearts are just breaking, breaking
Feels like we’ve been fighting against the tide

I wanna see the earth start shaking
I wanna see a generation
Finally waking up inside”

Sometimes we feel like we want to lose hope. We wonder why we are still in a world where we do not truly belong. We know this desire for something more is there for a reason. We know the glimpses we receive of it are meant to be enjoyed and cherished. How can we live this life knowing it is all meant to be so temporary? It’s like Israel wandering being in Egypt and wandering in the desert. It’s like Moses spending year and years away from his people to live as a humble shepherd. What is pour purpose in the here and now? How long must we cry out as we see the pain and heartache around us?

“Until I die I’ll sing these songs
On the shores of Babylon
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

Where the weak are finally strong
Where the righteous right the wrongs
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong”

It is when we remove ourselves from the situation that we can see the picture a little better. We need to remember this is all bigger than just ourselves. We do have purpose as we wait to arrive. It is to call out to all kindred spirits. A call to all those who realize this whole thing is so temporary. To love our families and friends and unite in a song that can shake this world. Where we cry out in a song of belonging. It is a song that some will hear and dismiss as the ramblings of a fool, but others will hear and have something awaken inside of them. They will hear that song, and realize they need to wander through this world until they reach the place the truly belong.

“This body’s not my own
This world is not my own
But I still can hear the sound
Of my heart beating out
So let’s go boys, sing it loud

And on the final day I die
I want to hold my head up high
I want to tell You that I tried
To live it like a song

And when I reach the other side
I want to look You in the eye
And know that I’ve arrived
In a world where I belong”

There are times in our lives where it will feel like we are doing a lot of wandering. Times where we will wonder where the journey will take us until we reach our final destination. I believe the doubt in the average believer is not over whether or not they will arrive. The doubt comes from what is between here and their destination. What shall we do then? Live it like a song. Dance and sing through it with those loved ones who help you to see a glimpse of that world where you truly belong. One day you will reach the other side. On that day you will just know.

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. I hunger for home, but there is work here to do. I thank the Lord my God that as I remain in this world I do not belong he has given me glimpses of my final destination through the love I experience and give to my wife, son, family, and friends. We may be wandering in a world we do not belong, but we certainly do not wander alone.

A call

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus words in Matthew lately. Specifically I have been thinking on what he says about anxiety and worrying over personal provision in chapter six. It’s an interesting passage. At first glance it would seem as though Jesus is saying not to worry about the future. One could mistakenly assume God is saying not to plan ahead, or be responsible about the future. That interpretation would be wrong.

This is a passage dealing with priorities. God is telling us not to worry over the worldly issues. He is telling us not to worry about the basic provisions. Now leaving our interpretation with that alone would not be enough. It would even be irresponsible to assume that is the main point of this lesson. If you leave chapter six with the belief that you can sit back, and let God take care of everything, then you are in for a disappointing and potentially very short life. God is saying there is no need to worry if you are doing what you are supposed to do.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. It’s all about the priorities. God is saying we need to be willing to follow him even if it appears that the basic necessities of life will be hard to come by. Look at his disciples. Following Christ after his death and resurrection meant a real danger. It meant relying on those who believed what you believed. Guys like Paul would travel to share the gospel not knowing where the next meal would come from. God’s not asking us to be foolish in our planning. He is not telling us to be irresponsible in our thoughts of the future. He is telling us what is the most important thing to focus on. He is telling us we have no need to worry when we follow Him.

When I first wrestled over the decision to go into ministry I was hesitant. I felt this calling form God, but I seemed so uncertain about how it would all work out. How will I get the skills I need? How will I make the money I need? What if He calls me somewhere far away? How will I be provided for? I was asking myself all of these question at a conference I attended every year. At the end of this conference was the altar call for those wishing to accept Christ or rededicate their lives to Him. This year the speaker did something different though. He made an addition. All who who felt the call to ministry were invited to surrender their lives to that call. He talked about all these questions and concerns I had. He said surrendering tonight meant you give all your worries about provisions and the hows to God.

What God is calling for in Matthew six is something far harder than being anxious about earthly provisions. What God is calling for is sacrifice. He is calling us to set aside all the expectations we have in life. He is telling us to stop worrying about what we think we need, and start depending on Him to provide us with what He knows we need. God is going revolutionary on this passage. He is going against what the world says. The world tells us to worry about the spiritual stuff later. Focus on wealth, provision, and comfort now. God is telling us something radically different. Focus on the spiritual stuff now, because this is the only shot you have. Let me worry about that other stuff.

We are not being called to a life of irresponsibility. We are being called to quite the opposite. We are being called to take ownership. We are being called to follow on God’s lead. We are being called to a life of the utmost responsibility. It is a call to seek true riches. What are being called to be treasure hunters. We are called to seek Him for all of our days. Seek God and cultivate your relationship with him. Make him your first priority, and you will find the others necessities along the way.

Sometimes that means going down a road you fear will keep you from having the provisions you need. Sometimes that means going on a path that will throw you out of your comfort zone. God doesn’t want us to worry about the earthly needs because those worries often keep us from following our main need. It’s not a passage telling us to take it easy, and let God give us everything we want. It’s a passage that calls us to sacrifice who we are for something bigger than we could ever possibly be.

No boats can prove Christ.

This post may seem a bit jumbled since its root idea is found from multiple events and articles I have stumbled through recently. The focus is fairly simple though. What is with our obsession over physical evidence to prove that our faith is true? There are those that seem so determined to have some archaeological find, or some hotshot atheist turn Christian give merit that our fight is not just some fairytale. I have to wonder the why. It is wondering the why that often leads to sermons, blog posts, personal ramblings, and beyond.

Ever hear about the constant hunt for Noah’s Ark? If only we found that boat then we could finally put all the naysayers to rest. Then people who say the flood never happened would be proven wrong, and thus would prove that all of Scripture is true. No one would be able to speak against the Bible if we found this boat.

Scripture seems to have a vastly different opinion than you. Jesus often got frustrated at those who refused to believe what He said even after he would perform miraculous signs. People saw Jesus heal blind men, make the lame walk, remove terminal diseases, and even reverse death itself for Lazarus. Some still refused to believe though. He was a magician. It was a trick of the eyes. That’s not really Lazarus. That man was never really blind. Good grief the chief priests were so determined not to believe Jesus that they plotted to kill poor Lazarus after he was raised from the dead. What’s the point? Some people will refuse to believe no matter the amount of evidence thrown at them. Why would a boat make such a difference when the raising of the dead only lead to a plot for more death?

What about some big hotshot atheist converting to Christianity? What if Richard Dawkins himself converted to Christianity. The man who wrote such infamous books like “The God Delusion”. The man do desperate to make Christians look like fools that he will paint a completely wrong and delusional description of God just to make us look like nutcases. If this incredible man of science became a Christian then what a huge victory for our team that would be! Imagine how foolish all those other atheists would feel when one of their biggest leaders proclaims everything they believe is wrong! Surely that would get people to change their beliefs.

Why would it ever have that affect? There were devout Jewish leaders that chose to believe in Christ, but still others refused to believe. Paul, a man who persecuted Christians converted, but rather than changing the minds of all those other Jewish leaders he was persecuted, and often faced attempts at murder for his conversion. Maybe we should stop thinking how incredible of a miracle it would be if someone like Dawkins became a Christian, and start honoring and glorifying God for the miracle of those around us who are already putting their faith in Christ. The salvation of any soul no matter who they are is in itself an incredibly miracle, and worthy of celebrating over.

All of this brings me back to wondering the why. Why are we so determined to find something to justify our beliefs? Is it really so that other will agree with us? Is it possible there is something more to it? Perhaps we are seeking personal justification for our beliefs. Perhaps we wish to take a sigh of relief by finding something that gives a little more merit to what we believe. Perhaps we simply don’t want to rely on faith alone too much.

Faith all the same remains the necessity in salvation. No amount of boats, archaeological finds, or conversion of famous atheists can change the fact that it takes faith to believe that God came down to this earth as a human, showed mercy and grace by dyeing for our sins on a cross as a sinless man, and conquered death itself so that we could be raised in new life upon our belief of his death, burial, and resurrection. No amount of physical evidence is going to change the fact that faith is a requirement in the Christian life.

What does this mean for you and me? It means we need to stop looking for that nail in the coffin of proof. It is great when we find things that give credence to what is said in Scripture. It is great when we can expand our knowledge of the background of Scripture through archaeology. It would even be sweet to find that boat, and learn more from that kind of find, but I do not put hope in it. I do not put my faith in the hope of seeing evidence that will prove me correct. I put my faith in Christ.

It means praising God for the salvation of any soul no matter their status or background. It means rejoicing with those who have taking that same step of faith, and praying for those who demand more evidence before making the decision. Stop looking for evidence to give more point to our team, and start praying people will have a little more faith.

It’s just a little bit

My wife came across an interesting discussion yesterday. It was on a board for mothers. A question was posed to the women that were in this group. They were asked if it would upset them to find out their husband was looking at pornography. No woman said yes. They all claimed they would be comfortable with it. My gut reaction to this news was to assume that these women were either being untruthful, or were unaware of how they would really react if the situation were to happen, but then we learned that many of these women openly admitted they enjoy pornography viewing with their husbands. All of this leaves me wondering what in the world has happened.

Over the past few years there has been the controversial subject of gay marriage. There are those who say legalizing gay marriage would destroy the sanctity of marriage in our country. I think that is a joke argument. Now I don’t agree with homosexuality. I have said as much on this blog before, though I still love, care for, and respect those who are in that lifestyle. I think the whole gay marriage ruining the sanctity of marriage argument is wrong though. I think it’s wrong because the sanctity of marriage has already gotten kicked around. Look at the divorce rate. Look at the amount of husband addicted to pornography. Look at the amount of wives who read books that can only be characterized as housewife erotica. How did this happen?

It’s not real. That is the argument you often here. This book is just fiction. It’s not that big a deal. It’s not like I am doing these things in this book. Watching this porn isn’t a huge deal. It’s not like I am cheating on my spouse by watching it. It’s not like I act on these lustful feelings I get by indulging in this material. It’s fun. It spices up our sex life.

It’s funny really. You see this same argument with the young teenager who tries to convince his parents to let him go see a movie. The skit guys portray it so well in that video. It’s just a little bit of sex, violence, and profanity. None of it is actually real. The actors are only pretending. It is make believe. There isn’t even that much of it. What is one sex scene going to do to me? What is a few seconds of seeing a naked woman on screen really going to do to me. It has to start somewhere though.

At this point some of you may be thinking I am using the fallacy of a slippery slope. Sometimes a slippery slope has truth to it though. For instance, generally a man does not wake up one day and instantly decide to kill someone. It is usually a combination of choices, environment, relationships, and various kinds content that lead up to that point. Even God uses the slippery slope argument. He would often tell His people not to interact with the other cultures. Jews were not meant to marry people form these other lands. The reason? Because they would steer them away from God and push Israel to worship false God’s. Surely God was just being overprotective though right? Well look at Solomon. Multiple wives form different lands which lead to pagan altars and the land of Israel. Spend too much time living in the garbage, and eventually you start eating it.

Porn isn’t a big deal in our culture today folks. The only ones not talking about it is the church. Our world has reached a point of general acceptance towards the porn industry. Books like fifty shades of grey are praised as brilliant works of literature and given top interviewing spots in morning news television. Our world has made pornography glamorous and healthy for marriages. It turns the sanctity of the union between a man and a woman physically and spiritually into a pick up tips to please your spouse time. That is the veil in front of it anyway. Anyone being honest with themselves knows the truth though. No male watches porn to invigorate his sex life with his wife. A man watches porn to become sexually aroused by another woman who is not his wife. Plain and simple.

This leaves us with a question. How do we face off against this? If this is really becoming the norm for couples, and I truly believe it is, then what needs to happen for those in the church? I believe the first thing that needs to happen is for it to simply be discussed. We avoid issues like porn and disguised erotica. It is an embarrassing subject. Churches would blush if they knew how many people in a giving congregation struggle with this issue. People need to be freed from this addiction, but they need to be allowed to come forward with the addiction in the first place.

The only thing that can fix the family unit is a family unit focused on Christ. People keep saying things like gay marriage will rip apart the American family. Since when was the American family synonymous with the Christian family? What needs to be focused on is the Christian family, and there are a host of issues that the Christian family needs to face.

God cares about the family unit. He understands that the best chance a youth has to be raised as a man or woman who honors Him is by having parents who will teach and guide them to be that way. Do you want to know how we fight this issue in our culture? We do it by raising our families to be different. To be the kind of family God intended it to be. To have a marriage where the full sanctity of that union is honored and respected. A marriage that doesn’t look to literature or film for sexual pleasure, but that delights in one another as the gift from God that they are. It is to be the kind of family that raises men and women who love the Lord and seek a spouse who is the same by modeling a healthy relationship that doesn’t need porn to supposedly keep the flame alive. It has parents who understand the power of “A little bit” of garbage media can lead down a dangerous path. It has parents who are parents rather than just friends to their children. It has parents that teach their children that a relationship with the focus of sex, and the need for porn to fuel that sex only leads to an empty shelled relationship void of anything resembling pure joyful emotional or spiritual intimacy. Anyone who indulges in those things, and says they have all that tells me they have not truly experienced what I am talking about.

The addiction of porn and sex is disastrous. During my time in college the struggle with pornography for young men was the norm rather than the exception. It is a struggle that has no bias amongst saved and unsaved. Even the most passionate of believers can run the risk of succumbing to it. That is why I pray for my son. I pray he will live in an environment where the temptations are not too intense. I pray he will live a life of better understanding and wisdom on this issue than his own dad did growing up. I pray he will learn from the mistakes of people like me an others, and never have to learn from them firsthand. I pray he will one day meet a woman who fears and honors the Lord. I pray he will be able to look at the relationship with my wife as a healthy example of a good Christian marriage. Above all else I pray he will take how he has been raised and make the world a little better with it. I pray all families will have this burden. With that passion perhaps we can make a real change in this world. Perhaps with a focus on our own family we can shed a light that the world has no chance at ignoring. Perhaps with our families we can finish this race saying, “We were here, we would not be ignored, and we will not be forgotten.”

Are you taking advantage of God’s mercy?

How much can you remember about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? We refer to it as the kind of culture you don’t want to be a part of. It is a symbol of God’s wrath and judgment. It is an example of the consequences a people face when they become so perverse and sinful that not only does God remove his hand of protection on them, he actually casts out judgment.

Then we vaguely remember Lot. We remember he was spared. Lot was related to Abraham. They parted ways after a while. Lot so the appearance of this land that would later be destroyed, and felt settling there would be best for his family. We look at Lot, and think he must have been a pretty good guy in order for God to save him form the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a thought that would turn out to be pretty wrong.

When the angels came to Lot to observe this land that was considered so evil they witnessed the failures of Lot himself. Men came to visit Lot’s home, and do things to these angels who they believed to be mere men. They wished to do things the encompassed all aspects of vileness and wickedness that was destined to bring this culture to destruction. In order to spare the angels Lot decided to be such a kind man that he instead offered his daughters up to these wicked men. He literally was willing to let his daughters go through heel and death at the hands of these men. This does not sound like a righteous man to me. It was this act that was the final straw. It was after this event that the angels let Lot know to get his family and skip town because destruction was on the way.

Scripture says when he was aware of the destruction and told to leave he lingered. He did not want to leave this place of wickedness. He did not linger because he wished to save everyone. He lingered because he liked living there. His own wife unable to leave looked back at their home and turned into a pillar of salt. A constant reminder to Lot on what happens when you take God’s judgment and commands lightly. This is a story of hellfire and brimstone. It is a story of wrath and judgment. It is also a story of mercy on those undeserving of it.

Why did God save Lot? Have you ever asked yourself that question before? Often we read scripture, and don’t ask questions. We take what we read for granted. Sometimes it is not the actions of God that we need to understand, but also the very reason for those actions. So I ask again, why did God save Lot? What did Lot do to earn salvation rom God?

The answer to that last question is nothing. Lot did not do a single thing to earn rescue. He deserved to burn with everyone else. The man was selfish. He failed to lead his family in the ways of the Lord. He failed to follow the Lord’s commands. Lot was a complete and utter failure. What Lot did not know is there was a man looking down on that land was it lay in ruins. It was his kinsmen. It was Abraham. Lot did not know Abraham was looking down on that city interceding on the behalf of Lot. Genesis 19:29 says, “So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.” Why did God save Lot? Because God loved Abraham, and He was still a God of mercy.

Lot did not deserve saving. Abraham pleaded to the Lord for Lot to be spared though. God remembered Abraham. He saved Lot from His judgment. This leaves me with another question though. What if Lot had been more like Abraham? What if Lot took a stand for the Lord in these cities. What if he tried to bring about change while he lived there? But the story has been written. Lot did not take a stand. He did not bring about change. Instead he fell, and indulged in the culture.

Sometimes we think we can get by in secular cultures by just keeping our distance. We think we do not need to stand up against it so long as we do not indulge in it. We think we can avoid the worst of the destruction to come so long as we are not quite as bad as those around us. Make no mistake, Lot deserved to face the same destruction the rest of the cities face. His family deserved to be in those cities that God destroyed. It was His mercy and kindness that spared them from that fate.

Where does this leave you and me though? Do you think God’s absence form judgment means you are doing something right? Do you think the lack of consequences for your actions thus far mean you are living well enough for Him? Are you taking advantage of God’s mercy? How much longer do you think you can live in this world without taking a stand? I don’t think Lot ever realized how much the culture was affecting him. I don’t think he realized it would push him to a point that he would offer two of his daughters to go through an unimaginable amount of torture and abuse. That’s the way the enemy likes it though. He doesn’t want you to realize how far you have gone until it is too late. Until that moment when evil comes banging on your doorstep, and you realize you either must stand or succumb to the darkness, and if you have never stood up before then, why should things change now?