In my last blog, I said this:

If there is a sin in your life that you constantly ignore, that’s your real god.

We have to keep battling, even when we it seems like we are constantly under attack in our weak area.  Have you ever just felt like God was tired of hearing from you because every time you talk to Him you were confessing the same thing?  It does get old.

1 John tells us that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If that’s true, why is it SO HARD to keep away from some sins?

Acts 3:19 may give us some insight into why this keeps happening:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

The first step in turning from recurring sin is to confess and repent, but we often forget the second part of that verse.  It says, TURN TO GOD!

The book of James also confirms that this is the pattern.  James 4:7-8 says:

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”

The first part is “Resist the Devil.”  Turn from your sin.  Repent.

The second part is to “Come close to God.”  If you simply confess and repent but don’t run as close as you can to God, Satan comes back to tempt you pretty quickly.

My 3 year old, Adam, likes to play “Bear”.  In the game, sometimes my teenager, Daniel, will pretend to be a bear and go after Adam.  Adam will sometimes try to wrestle Daniel by himself.  Adam always looses.  Daniel is 13 and Adam is no match for Daniel.

Other times, Adam will run and stand behind me as his protector.  So far, Daniel is no match for me.  (I know that day is coming because he is growing but I still have the “old dog” bluff on him.)

As long as Adam is hiding behind me, Daniel is held at bay.  Daniel will wait 3 feet away from me waiting for Adam to wander away from me, but he will not attack Adam while Adam is hiding close to me.  I am his protector from the bear.  Daniel the bear will be defeated if he attacks Adam while Adam is close to me.

That’s why it is important to immediately begin praising God, listening to praise music, reading and memorizing verses, and fellowshipping with God.  As long as you are standing in Christ, Satan is no threat.  When we wonder away, we our defenses grow weaker and we’re no match for the evil one.  Satan is waiting just 3 feet away for you to wonder off.  Stay close to the master and the bully will be at bay.

What helps you draw to God?

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“Burned” By Church?

October 8, 2012

A lot of people today have a bad taste in their mouth for church.  As I serve as pastor, I run across people from time to time that say they have been burned by church and that’s why they quit going.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.  I’ve seen “spiritual abuse” in several situations where it does seem like the church “turned their back” on people going through tough times.  Maybe a couple goes through a divorce and the church mistreats both the husband and wife.  I’ve seen a family ostracized because they had a child who was out of control.  Cases like these are sad.  That certainly doesn’t illustrate God’s love to those who need it most.

On the flip side, I’ve seen people that are in direct conflict with what they know to be God’s will and direction.  Their new sin begins to affect their wife, kids and church.  When a fellow believer cares enough to talk to them in love about their path, they totally cry “foul” and say the church has turned their back on them.

In reality, they are still very loved and the loving thing to do is to mention the issue with the friend.  I’ve seen those who have cried “foul” run away from those who love them and then blame the church.

One thing that cracked me up recently was hearing a former Sunday School teacher who had multiple affairs, even after being caught, proclaim, “I can’t stand fake Christians.”

He said that he felt “burned” by the church and fake Christians.  (I also know that men reached out to him in love during his failures and he refused to let them in.)  I would not call him or anyone else a “fake” Christian, but  I certainly don’t see that he would have rights to call others “fake”  just because they didn’t accept his sin or called him on his hypocrisy.

I think sometimes we “punch ourselves in the face” by our actions and then we blame God and the church when it is painful.  I know the church has a lot to learn about grace but I also believe that the church often gets a bum rap.

It’s a thin line to walk between helping each other move towards holiness, yet showing grace.  The church is filled with imperfect people, including this pastor.  I believe it’s important to accept everyone where they are and encourage them to go where God wants them to go.  The church is complained about because of “hypocrites”, yet complained about when they attempt to call people to repentance.  Thin line, indeed!

Those who claim to be teachers in Christ should be held to a higher level.  (See James 3:1)  If you’re a leader, you know better, and you shouldn’t be “burned” when you fail but you also should be repentant.  (That means stop the sin.)

What are your thoughts about this?

My 2.5 year old son has learned to say, “I’m sorry Daddy.”  He says it so sweet that my heart melts when he says it.  It seems that he almost has the new idea that the “I’m sorry” words are magical and it erases the thing that he did wrong.  It’s like it’s ok to do something as long as you say, “I’m sorry” after doing it.

If he dumps out the dog food and says, “I’m sorry,” he thinks there are no consequences.  That worked for about a day, but I’m starting to think that he’s taking the transgressions a little lightly now.  I’m thinking that he believes by saying “I’m sorry” he can do the deed again in ten minutes.  I’m on to him now so I’ll encourage the “I’m sorry” words but I’ll also be taking steps to curb the behavior too.   (It would be easier if he wasn’t so cute, btw!)

I think we’re like that with our heavenly Father.   We think all we have to do is say, “Sorry God” and then go about our business without making any changes.

God’s grace and forgiveness is free but it isn’t cheap.

Our sin caused the murder of the Son of God.  Murder.  He paid the ultimate price for OUR transgressions.

An attitude of repentance is what God wants from us when we sin.  He wants us to turn from our sin.  Repentance is like a U-Turn.  You’re going one way, then you turn and go the opposite direction.

It seems that Satan has notes on every believer and he knows where we are weak.  Satan knows where we will fail and that’s where he attacks us.  Many believers are stuck in a pattern of sin and fall to the SAME sins just about every day.  They issue a “Sorry God” and continue the same path.  I admit it.  I’ve been guilty of taking sin too lightly at times too.

If we continue doing the same things today that we did yesterday, the results will be the same and the sin will remain.  If we ever want to grow in Christ and be used in a greater way by Him in His mission, WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH OUR SIN.

Get brutal.

  • If it’s a relationship that brings you down, break it off!
  • If you can’t seem to stop watching shows you shouldn’t watch, cancel cable.
  • If your marriage is in trouble, be relentless in making things right.  Get counseling.  Commit to a date night.  Whatever it takes.
  • If there is a secret sin that you’ve had for years, TELL SOMEBODY you trust and deal with it TODAY!

Don’t waste another day.  Be brutal with getting rid of your sin.  We aren’t expected to be perfect but we are called to be holy because He is holy.  He will help us but he won’t force us to love Him enough to obey Him.  If we love God, we will obey what He says.  That doesn’t mean we get to pick and choose.  Sure God offers grace, but He’s serious about that holiness thing.

Want a Life That Sucks?

August 10, 2012

I’ve learned in life is that if things aren’t going smooth and you ignore God’s instructions in the Bible, life will get worse.  The Bible is our instruction manual from our creator.  Want to know how it’s supposed to work?  Read and LIVE the Bible.

Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flower fades but the Word of our God stands forever.”

Want a life that sucks?  Then ignore God’s instructions.

God has given us a roadmap to life in the Bible.  It is chalk full of wisdom and it doesn’t change.  The same God that said that marriage is for life 2,000 years ago is the same God that I talk to today.  He hasn’t changed.  It’s our choice as to whether or not we will walk according to God’s will.

Sometimes we like to make “Grey” areas out of areas that God was really clear about.

So.. our wife doesn’t make us “happy” anymore…..  Is it ok to leave and go find another one?

If our husband doesn’t fill our needs is it ok to have an affair?

God hasn’t “laxed” his law just because society and culture have changed.  It seems like many today interpret God’s Word through what the culture says.  If culture says it’s about how a person “feels” that matters, they will “tweak” God’s Word to make everything ok.

God calls us  to look at and interpret culture through God’s Word.  If culture disagrees with what God said in His Word, then culture is WRONG.  (I realize culture says it’s wrong to say anyone else’s life style is wrong.  Guilty as charged!)

In the words of Rick Warren:

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

God calls us to live a holy lifestyle.  He wants us to read and LIVE His Word.  That means loving others before ourselves, staying in a marriage that we’re not thrilled about (we can work on it and make it better), caring for the poor, being involved in a church, and working hard like we’re working for God.

God’s Word tells us how to live our life and it shows how to follow Christ.  If you aren’t following Christ, you aren’t a Christ follower.  It’s that simple.

It’s not about YOU!

Do we get more sinful, the closer we get to God?  That’s kind of crazy but that seems to be how the Apostle Paul seemed to describe his own life.

Paul thought he had it all going on before meeting Christ.  He was a member of the prestigious Jewish Religious group, the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were so religious that the 10 commandments weren’t enough for them.  They made up over 600 more rules to follow.

Then Paul became a Christ-Follower.  Here is the progression of his attitude about his own spiritual standing:

Right after becoming a Christ-follower, he considered himself “the least of the Apostles.”  (1 Corinthians 15:9)  He had “transferred” from the elite group of Pharisees to another “elite” group, the Apostles.  He did, however, now consider himself as the least of the Apostles.

A few years later he wrote Ephesians 3:8.  In this passage, he said that he was the “least of all the saints.”  Now he seems to have slipped in his opinion of himself.  He is now not just the least of the Apostles but the least of the saints.

Checking in on Paul’s writing just a bit later, he now claims to be the “foremost of sinners.”  (1 Timothy 1:15)  He seems to have fallen even farther in his walk.

Although Paul seemed to be on a “down-ward” spiral in his own words, I believe the opposite is true.  Paul came to appreciate the grace of God more and more in his own life.  He didn’t become more sinful but the closer he got to God, the more he realized how much God had done for him in sending His only son to pay for our sins.

What have you learned since you have begun your journey with Christ?

If we let our feelings lead us, it always leads us into trouble.   If our feelings lead us, we are prone to:

  • Overeating
  • Saying the wrong things
  • Reasoning ourselves into believing someone “owes” us so we take advantage of them to even the score
  • Unhealthy relationships

I could go on and on.

I had a friend that confided in me once that he was having an affair.  I helped him go through several steps to make the situation right with his wife and with God.  I was really proud of him.  Unfortunately, several months later I learned that the affair with the same woman had started again.  When I confronted him he told me, “Eddie, I prayed for God to take away those feelings that I have for her and He didn’t do that.  So…it must be God’s will that I am with her.”

That’s a perfect example of being led by our “feelings” instead of God’s principles.  That’s also a perfect example of WHY we have to know what God’s Word says.  I’m pretty sure that if my friend had ever read the Bible, he knew that God was against him leaving his wife and kids for another woman.

If our feelings EVER contradict God’s Word, we have to follow God’s Word.

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him DENY himself, pick up his cross, and follow me.”  (Matthew 16:24)   John 3:30 says, “He (God) must increase and I must decrease.”

Basically, when we decide to become a Christ follower we decide that our own will isn’t what we’re going to follow anymore.  We seek and desire to do God’s will every day.  Now that doesn’t mean we won’t stumble or miss it sometime.

We will fall, but there is a difference in those who just “believe” in Jesus and those who FOLLOW Jesus.  Lot’s of people “believe” in Jesus.  Just look at the surveys in America.  Most people will still admit that they believe, but they really aren’t followers of Jesus.   In fact, the book of James tells us that even Satan “believes” and he shudders at the thought of Jesus.

A follower of Christ is actively learning to crucify his own will on a daily basis and follow God’s principles.  This can only happen when a person has a relationship with Jesus.  Another word that can describe a Christ Follower is “disciple,” which comes from the word, “discipline.”  God gives us discipline when we follow Him, spend DAILY time with Him, and learn His what His principles are in the Bible.

Luther Ingram once sang, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.”   A “casual believer” in Jesus probably wouldn’t admit it, but that’s the mantra that they live by.   If it feels good, do it!

I want to encourage FOLLOWERS of Jesus to realize that the words of Joyce Meyer is true.  Joyce said,

“You can feel wrong and still do what is right.”

What are some areas that you have seen Christ followers take the High Road on God’s principles when it would have been easy to get even, bring up that damaging event again for revenge, or even eat that third doughnut?

Burn The Ships

January 2, 2011

The 21 day Daniel Fast starts tomorrow. I went out and destroyed a few chicken wings in preparation today since there will be no meat for 21 days.  That’s scary just writing it to me.  I could easily live without veggies or fruit, but without meat is going to be tough for me. I’m far from a Vegetarian!  LOL

I was reading in Daniel in preparation for the fast and this struck me.  I thought I’d share it with you and get your thoughts.

Daniel 1:8 says:

“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

 

Daniel decided, IN ADVANCE, that he would not go against the convictions that God had put in his heart about eating from the King’s table. He didn’t wait until the food was set before him. That’s basically what I’m doing. I’m deciding in advance that I won’t eat anything for the next 21 days except fruit, veggies, or nuts. I will not be drinking anything but water.

This reminds me of certain sins that seem to plague us. Satan knows our weaknesses and he knows where and when to hit us. It seems to me that the key is to decide IN ADVANCE that you will stand up, in Christ, to the temptation. Don’t wait until the temptation that plagues you is looking you in the face. Pray about it, confess your weakness to a trusted believer friend, and if possible, remove the stumbling block completely when you are strong.

When Cortez landed in Mexico, he feared that his men would grow tired of the journey and want to return home. Maybe they would turn against his leadership and force a return. As soon as they set foot on Mexican soil, he ordered then to “Burn the ships!” There would be no way to turn back now.

Regarding the fast, there’s no turning back either. If twinkies are your weakness, feed them to your dog. Give them to your neighbor. Throw them away. Whatever it takes, just get them out of the house. Don’t make it easy for you to eat one in a moment of weakness.

The same principle with sin applies. If you are prone to a specific sin, the time to “burn the ships” is when you are strong. Do whatever it takes to remove the barrier that is harming your relationship with God. When you “burn the ships,” God can speak to you because you are more prone to listen to Him. Maybe that means confessing to a brother or sister. Maybe you have to get rid of something that no one knows about except you and God. Maybe there is a relationship that you need to end. You know what it is that God wants you to do if you belong to Him.

Remember, John 8:47 says, “He who belongs to God hears what God says.” If you belong to God and there is something between you and Him in your life, there may be only one thing that He has been saying to you for some time. You ask Him things like, “God, what’s your will for my life?” “God, where should I work?” Whatever you ask Him, He keeps pointing to that one thing, saying “Burn The Ships.” It’s time to light the fire. Once you do, perhaps through this fast, God will then tell you something else. Decide NOW to

Burn it to the Ground, then go for it. Let’s do this!

Have you ever felt God telling you to “Burn The Ships”?