Choosing Sin, Choosing Judgment

Isaiah 2:5. “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

In Is. 1:18, God said, “Come now, and let us reason together,” in an offer to prevent the judgment that was sure to come if the people continued in their chosen sinful path. Now, He says, “Come. . .let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

God is gracious, patient, merciful, and loving. It is not His desire that His people suffer.  It is His holiness that cannot tolerate disobedience and sin, and that demands repentance and justification.

When His people continue to harden their hearts and ignore His pleas, then they are choosing judgment. The question is not, “How can a loving God let this happen?”  The question is, “How can God’s people, who KNOW what the end result will be, continue to walk in sin and expect to avoid judgment?”

 

A Little Encouragement

Psalm 39:1-3. “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.”

The bridle in this verse is like a muzzle you would put on a dog to keep it from barking.

If we can muzzle our mouths so that we don’t sin with our words, we will also reduce the likelihood of sinning in other ways.  The tongue is such an unruly member, and has created worlds of hurt.Even when we are speaking truth, we need to be careful not to sin. Truth can be spoken with malice, and with the intent to do harm.

In this awful political season here in America, words have filled the airways, print journalism, and cyberspace. Words have been used to slander, to accuse, to participate in petty name-calling. It’s shameful.  I will be SO glad when it’s over, although no matter which candidate wins, I don’t imagine the carping and complaining will stop.

Christians  need to be careful, even when our hearts burn within us, that when we speak, we speak with both grace and truth.  There is much in this campaign to stir up my own desire to come roaring out of my corner and set everything straight, believe me.

Sometimes, though, it is better to put a muzzle on my mouth so that I avoid sinning.

Proverbs 20:1 says that the heart of the king (ruler, leaders) is in the hand of God, and He can turn that heart wherever He chooses.

Trust that. God is not at the mercy of politicians.

Call it What it Is!

Ephesians 4: 27. “Neither give place to the devil.”

Verse 27 is the capstone to verse 26.  When we sin in our anger, when we carry wrath from one day to the next, we are giving Satan a foothold in our minds and hearts.

By the way,  why has it become popular to refer to Satan as “The Enemy” and never call him by his name?  It’s not wrong to call him The Enemy, but it seems to me that it’s  an avoidance of naming him and identifying him clearly, and I’m curious as to how and why this came about.  Is it related to our tendency to use euphemisms instead of the word sin?  We say  mistake or poor choice when what we’re really talking about is sin.

Why are we afraid to call it what it is?  Sin, Satan, the Devil—those are strong, clear words that I don’t believe we should soften or sidestep.

Sinless Anger

Ephesians 4:26. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”

ephesians_4_26_by_markcwy-d4de91j

The first two commands in this passage:  Stop lying.  Speak truth.

Today, the commands are:  Don’t sin in your anger;  don’t end the day angry.

“Well,” you may say, “That’s all well and good, but if someone makes me mad, I can’t help it!”

And my reply is always, “Yes, you can!  God doesn’t give us commands that we cannot follow. “

Here’s the simple truth:  Anger is a choice.  We decide to become angry; we decide to behave horribly while we are angry; we choose to carry the anger across several days, making  many other people miserable in the process.

Anger, in and of itself, is not sinful.  The Bible mentions God’s anger over 450 times, and He never sins!  Where the sin comes in is when we give the anger free rein and behave according to the flesh instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to calm our hearts.

There are some things we NEED to be angry about.  I, for instance, am angry every single time I hear about another child who has been molested.  That child will never be the same. Sexual molestation touches not just the body, but also the heart and soul. However, I do not find a gun and go out and shoot the molester. The anger isn’t sinful, but murder is.

We need to be angry about abortion; about domestic violence; about the horrendous efforts over the last eight years to sabotage our freedoms and the America we are losing through our lack of knowledge and our laziness.

I am angry at the ridiculous circus a certain candidate has made of the election process, calling names and launching personal attacks.  He has no dignity whatsoever. Yes, I’m angry about that.  But I’m not going to stoop to his level, and I’m not going to hire someone to assassinate him.

Instead of acting out in anger,  I will continue to pray that God will intervene in spite of our apathy.

And never go to bed angry.  Forgive, restore, reconcile.  If it is more important for you to win than it is to reconcile, then you are an angry, unhappy person.  That is sad, because you are missing out on so many wonderful relationships. Being RIGHT above all, never admitting fault, refusing to forgive, all make you a very lonely, very unlovely person.

Happy New Year!

I have nothing profound to say today 🙂  Busy getting ready for my daughter’s family to spend the afternoon and have supper with us.

I do want to invite you to know my Savior, if you haven’t already met Him.  Jesus wants nothing more than for all to come to Him for salvation. If you aren’t sure you’re on your way to heaven, please message me and I’ll be more than happy to share the way to heaven with you.  Nothing would be a better start for the New Year than to know Jesus Christ.

Here is the simple way to salvation:

  1.  Romans 3:10 and 3:23 tell us that all are sinners, coming short of the mark of perfection.
  2. Romans 5:8 tells us that sin came into the world through Adam, and that death, because of sin, has passed upon all men.
  3. Romans 6:23 confirms that what we earn for sin is eternal separation from God in hell; but that His gift to us is eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  4. Romans 10: 9-10 tells us that if we say we believe in Jesus, and actually do believe in our hearts,  that we are saved.
  5. Romans 10:13 says that whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.  No conditions, no take-backs.

It would be my joy to talk more with you about all of this. I’m making this an open invitation for you to contact me if you want to know how you can experience forgiveness and salvation.

What could be better than to start the new year in a right relationship with God?

 

Made Nigh

Ephesians 2:13. “But now  in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made night by the blood of Christ.”

Every verse  in this chapter seems to be bringing new  joy, new insight for me. Today’s verse is so simple, yet so profound. The whole story of sin, salvation and redemption is in this verse.

We are far off from  God because of the nature with which we are born. We are sinful.  Because of our sin, we have no hope of heaven, or of relationship with God.

But God loved us, and desired for us to be able to have right standing with Him, so He provided the only perfect sacrifice for sin in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, Whose blood was shed as the cleansing power of forgiveness.

When we acknowledge our sin before Him, and accept His gift of eternal life purchased through the shed blood of Jesus, we are no longer far off from God.  We are brought close to Him, and have the sure hope of eternity with Him in heaven.

Simple.  Profound.  Amazing.

 

Friday Counseling Issues: Secrets

I haven’t come to any hard and fast conclusions about my topic today.  Something a friend said got me thinking about the secrets we keep, why we keep them, from whom we keep them. So I’m just sort of letting my thoughts drip out of my fingers onto my keyboard this morning, and we’ll see what happens.

Sometimes we keep secrets out of guilt. We don’t want others–not even those closest to us–to know about our darkest selves.  If we are keeping secrets about sinful behavior or attitudes, then I think we’re in trouble. To keep sin secret is to allow it to grow and take hold.  It becomes one of those strong holds mentioned in II Cor. 10: 4. When we indulge in behaviors and thoughts that we know we must keep hidden even from those closest to us, we are truly walking a dangerous path.

There was a young man who was handsome, intelligent, and personable. He first saw pornography when he was about 10.  It took a strong hold in his mind, and finally in his heart. Today, 20 years later, his marriage is in danger because he finally acted out on what he’d been hiding for all those years. His secret, though, since it has been exposed, has lost all its appeal for him and he is truly broken before God and his family. I think they’re going to make it.

Not all secret sin is so clearly sinful, though. Sometimes we hide things that, in themselves, are not really sinful. Sneaking chocolate into the house in your purse?  Chocolate isn’t sinful.  Hiding it and indulging in it secretly?  Well, if you’re saying things like, “I don’t know why I can’t lose weight!  I’m so careful about what I eat!”  Now you’re sinning, because you’re deliberately choosing to sabotage your health–and you’re lying about it.

Reading material. Music. You have no idea how easy it is to hide horrible “music” (I’m sorry, I don’t consider a lot of what passes for music these days to really be musical) in the middle of an iPod, or on a tablet or any other electronic device. Did you know that kids know how to access porn on their X-Box games?  They can get online to play with the kid down the street, and that’s all you as a parent are aware of. What you don’t know is that they’re accessing porn sites together.

But lets go to a different kind of secret.  Maybe you had a relationship prior to meeting your spouse, and you were sexually involved with that person. You don’t want your spouse to know, because you’re afraid he would leave you. Maybe it wasn’t sexual sin.  Maybe you experimented with drugs.  Maybe you drank too much.  Maybe you stole money  or shoplifted to get things you thought you had to have.

Or maybe the appearance of spirituality is nothing more than a facade, and you are dishonest with your spouse about what she thinks is a close relationship with the Lord.  Maybe you are a spiritual leader in your church:  Pastor, deacon, bishop, elder, teacher, ministry leader.  But maybe it’s all a facade, and you know it is, but you’ve fooled everyone else including your family.

It happens all the time.

So give me some feedback, okay?  Why do you think we put on these false fronts to begin with?  Why is it so hard to admit to previous sin that may be affecting your marriage now?   Should you “tell all,”  or are there some things that need to stay buried in the past?  If you have confessed and repented of sin to God, do you need to share that with your spouse if he wasn’t involved in any way, if it happened way before you met him?

If you are struggling spiritually, maybe fighting depression, should you keep that a secret from your spouse in order not to worry her?

How about your kids?  What do they need to know about you?  What should you keep from them? When does keeping a secret become passive lying?

I’d love to hear what you have to say about all this.

Caterpillar to Butterfly

Galatians 6:15. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”

God no longer looks at whether or not we keep the law.  He looks at the heart, to see if it has been made new.  What matters to Him is that the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly, free to spread its wings and fly as it enjoys the grace of being unlocked from its cocoon, and its landlocked body becomes renewed and set free.

I know a young man who accepted Christ as is Savior when he was a pre-teen.  He never really grew.  He lacked a father, and there were no mentors who came in and discipled him.  He knew he was saved, but  it hasn’t been until recently, after he fell into terrible sin, that he’s been broken-hearted and willing to completely surrender to the Lord.  He’s growing by leaps and bounds now, soaking up scripture as if it were his lifeblood.

This is his transformation.  He’s been a caterpillar for years, figuring he could make everything perfect by his own efforts.  Only now is he willing to accept not only salvation, but the wonderful grace of Jesus that has the power to heal and restore.

It’s wonderful to watch him become a butterfly.

Reap What You Sow

Galatians 6:7. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Such a simple priniciple. If you plant carrots, you’re not going to get tomatoes!

If you plant rebellion, anger, and bitterness, you’re not going to get sweetness and contentment.

If you plant a critical, negative, self-righteous spirit, you’re not going to reap love and respect.

If you live in the flesh, you’re going to reap spiritual corruption and the fleshy results of living in the flesh.

If you eat tons of fat and sugar, you’re going to reap morbid obesity and diabetes. There’s just no way around it.

If  you live in the Spirit, your’e going to reap love, peace, joy, and all the other fruit of the Spirit.

One of the things I say to so many of my clients is this:  When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequence. There is no avoiding it. Even when you sincerely repent and turn away from sin, you will still bear the natural consequences of your behavior. That doesn’t mean you aren’t forgiven. It just means that there are unavoidable results of the behaviors we choose.

Friday Counseling Issues: Is it a Mistake, or is it Sin?

I am fed up to here with political correctness.  We have become so accustomed to framing our speech in ways to avoid offending anyone that we don’t even realize we’re doing it, and still people are offended. You can hardly say “Good morning” these days without someone accusing  you of being some  horrible thing that ends in ist. Racist, sexist, some kind of phobic, judgmental, legalist, and so on.  If you hold an opinion that differs from the politically correct agenda, you are the worst person in the world.

And God forbid that you should be an outspoken Christian!

You can approve of abortion. You can be sexually promiscuous. You can have affairs on your spouse. You can ignore your kids’ character training and allow them to terrorize the neighborhood in the name of free expression. You can use foul language, you can ruin people’s businesses and lives if they don’t bow to the GLBT agenda, but if you DARE to be a Christian and name sin for what it is, then you, of all people, are the worst sort of bigot.

Let me pause here. Westboro Baptist “Church” is a desecration.  They bring shame to the name of God and to believers everywhere. That is NOT Christianity.

My particular gripe today is the use of the word mistake as a euphemism for sin. The Clintons are perfect examples.  Remember years ago when Bill went to the Rose Garden, biting his lower lip, and “apologized” to America?  Remember what he said? “I have done wrong, I have sinned against you all, against, Monica, and against God?”  No.  Not even close.  He said “Mistakes were made.”

Please.  First, he used the passive voice.  He didn’t even have the courage to say “I made mistakes.”  No, he leaves it to the listener to decided who made these mistakes, and what they might have been. What a cop out.

And now we have Hillary saying her criminal behavior with her private server was a “mistake.”  No.  There was no mistake. It was deliberate, secretive behavior that broke every ethical, moral, and legal policy governing the behavior of a high government official.  She lied. She cheated. She endangered lives with her manipulations and misbehaviors.  She’s guilty of far more than General Petraeus was; she’s guilty, and so is Obama, of far more than Richard Nixon was. Guilty of a mistake?  No. Guilty of sin.

And she’s going to get away with it. She’s been getting away with it since she was fired from the Goldwater campaign way back in the dark ages. I don’t know how she does it, but you can bet there’s nothing open, transparent, honest, or ethical about what is going on. The guy who maintained her private server has now refused a deal to tell what he knows in return for immunity from prosecution. Nope. He’s zipping his lip, and I can’t help but wonder who got to him, with what threat or promise.

Obama came out in her defense yesterday.  Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better.

We need to stop calling deliberate, self-centered wrong behavior a mistake. A mistake is what happens when you miscalculate a column of figures, or have trouble balancing your checkbook. A mistake is unintentional, and it can usually be corrected.  A mistake is taking the wrong turn because your map is confusing or inaccurate.

Deliberate, measured, secretive behavior that harms the security of a nation is not a mistake.  It is sin. Deception and lies are not mistakes. Breaking the rules is not a mistake. It is sin.

Our children are growing up in a society that has bowed to this nonsense.  None of them are sinful. They just make “poor choices.”  They don’t need to be disciplined.  They just need to be “redirected.” Our children are not little sinners. They all have “good hearts.”

No, they don’t. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”  Romans 3:23 says, “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” John 3:16 says, “For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Jesus did not come to suffer and die for a world full of people who have good hearts but make poor choices now and then. He came to die for a fallen race whose hearts are so darkened with sin that they excuse the worst behavior as a “mistake.”

We need to quit allowing the Thought Police to control our thinking, and replace them with the Word of God.