Tag Archives: Sin

The Paradox Between Being Relational and Being Right

I see in my kids a reflection of myself.  We are caught in a paradox seeded in the blueprint of humanity.  An inner desire to be in relational conflicts with a passionate drive to be right.  For my kids, this comes out in epic sibling battles.

My kids love each other, and depend on that sibling relationship for encouragement.  Through their friendships with one another they gain an understanding of the world of High School and Middle School.  They share in common the burdens and blessings of being a child whose Dad is a Pastor of Worship.  They rely on each other to endure the German stubbornness and sometimes quick temper of their dad.

But, while they see their need for a sibling relationship, they are torn with a drive to be right.  Now, I don’t mean to say that they look for the right answer.  No, not at all.  They deeply desire to prove that the thoughts and opinions they start with are the right ones.  Scripture teaches that none of us, by nature, are right.  None of us, by nature, are even good.

Romans3:10 As the Scriptures say,
   “No one is righteous—
not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “They rush to commit murder.
16 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”

We were made to live in intimate relationship with our Creator.  Because of our sin nature it is impossible for us to have this Father/son/daughter relationship with God here in this life or in eternity.  This sin nature is our inheritance (Thanks grandpa Adam and grandma Eve). We have also inherited the penalty, which is death.

That sounds so harsh. “But, I’m a nice person.”  “I do more good stuff than bad.”  “I help the poor.  I go to church.”

Let me ask you a question.  Where did you ever get the idea that God has a scale and weighs your good things against the bad?  That’s not how it works. If the imagery of a scale helps your understanding of the judgement, then you should think of it like this.  If you were born standing one the side of the scale and you needed to throw your good deeds to the other side of the scale, you would not be strong enough to throw them that far. No matter how good your deed is, your arm isn’t strong enough. It’s not about how good your deeds are.  It’s about you not being able to reach the other side of the scale with them.

Romans 3:19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. 21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[a] and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Jesus came and poured out His righteousness for us. He substituted Himself for us on the cross. He died in our place. Because we were helpless to do anything, He did it all.  Every ounce of our salvation is the work of Jesus.  You can’t do good enough works to earn it and you can’t do enough good works to prove it.  Try as you might, you can’t even live up to the laws we’ve been given.

 Romans2:23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Made in the image of God to live in intimate relationship with God under the righteousness of God.  That relationship was broken by Adam who passed on to us an inheritance of unrighteousness. This unrighteousness first inherited then fully embraced by our own sinfulness. Jesus came to cleanse us from Adams stain and forgive our sins.  His work on the cross did it ALL!

I recently saw this tweet – “Supplementing God’s grace with your works is like supplementing the Arctic Circle with your ice chip.  You Are You Kidding?” – Scotty Ward Smith via twitter.

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Give Forgiveness (What’cha doin’ with that rock?)

Of all the things the modern church needs to stop procrastinating with, it’s forgiveness!  Christ DIED for FORGIVENESS!  Some friends brought a paralytic to Jesus and what was the first thing he said? “Take heart my son, your sins are forgiven.”  We live forgiven lives, because of Jesus death – His blood shed for the forgiveness of our sin.  Do we hold his death in contempt when we withhold forgiveness from others?
Sunday we dealt with this issue of forgiveness.  Not one of us can escape.  We all need to forgive. We MUST! No evil could be done to us that cannot be forgiven.  Yet, because we’ve been hurt, we will hold on to a grudge or a conflict because it helps us justify our pain.  There are couple tricks our enemy likes to use to encourage us down a path of unforgiveness.
  1. We can hold it over their head. – Somehow we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that withholding forgiveness gives us power over the person who hurt us.  That is a Lie!  An unforgiving heart is not empowered, It’s imprisoned!
  2. Withholding forgiveness legitimizes my hurt. – No.  It doesn’t.  It only lengthens your hurt.
  3. They should suffer for what they did to me. – Ummm, I don’t know how to tell you this, but… They probably haven’t given it another thought.  How much time have you wasted meditating on their crime and your pain?
As we entered the service yesterday each of us was given a rock.  We were to hold that rock throughout the service.  Awkward doesn’t begin to describe it.  Hindered, restricted, annoyed also fit the bill.  I had to put it in my pocket and it rubbed my leg as I tried to worship.  I attempted to focus on God, but my mind kept returning to the rock rubbing a raw spot against my leg.  When I sat down I took it out and held it in my hand.  My leg was relieved by now I only had one hand free to follow along in my YouVersion bible app.  I was afraid I would scratch my iPad with the rock.  I couldn’t hold my wife’s hand, which we sometimes do while sitting together in church.  The rock came between us.

Finally, when I got up to sing the song of response, I let it go, laid the rock down at the alter.  I’d held it long enough that I could describe it in detail.  I could go back later and among all the rocks, I could tell you which one was mine.  The thought came to me after the final song to go back and pick it up.  THAT would have been a mistake.  I would not have wanted to answer the question later.

“What’cha doin’ with that rock?”

I would have answered honestly. “It is a reminder to me of the bad things people have done to me.  And how I need to forgiven them.”

“Well, if you’ve forgiven them, then why do you want to be reminded about what they’ve done?”

…good question

Father, help me to forgive as you did.  The same death you died on the cross for me is given to the ones who have hurt me.  I have no room to stand and judge anyone.  Thank you for forgiving meI celebrate your forgiveness and pass it on to those whom I need to forgive.

Where do you stand on the subject of forgiveness? Have you been restored after a broken relationship?  

Is there anyone from whom you are still withholding forgiveness?  Please leave a comment below.

Free – In Christ

Memorial day gives us a chance to remember. Did you remember yesterday? Did you thank a veteran? I spent a lot of time contemplating the cost of the freedoms I still get to enjoy. For men and women who took the stand for what they believed and for the many who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

I wondered what I would be willing to stand up for? I thought about how over the last couple decades we have seen certain freedoms taken away from us. I thought about how our founding fathers sought to set up a government of the people, for the people andbythe people and yet today, we see our government acting as if the people are here to support government rather than the other way around.

I considered how many freedoms I truly have because I am “In Christ.” He paid the ultimate price for my freedom and yours.

Romans 8:1-4
8Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,a2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,b God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.c And so he condemned sin in sinful man,d4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

So, we are no longer condemned because of what Christ has done. However, we are still persecuted. There are so many to whom the message of Christ and the Cross is foolishness.

1 Corinthians 1:18
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

What does this have to do with us? Though we seek to carry this message into a world that thinks us to be foolish, it’s Christ they’re rejecting and not us. So why should it matter to us?

How often do we temper our boldness because of the fear of rejection? How many times does our confidence wane when we face criticism?

See, that’s what I mean when I ask myself – What would I be willing to take a stand for? – What would I be willing to die for?

I am grateful for the veterans who have served and remember, with tears in my eyes, those who gave their lives for the freedom I currently enjoy. At the same time I’m reminded that this freedom is temporary. You can quote me on this – The United States of America will not last forever. In the historical scope of things we are a young nation. In our arrogance, however, we sometimes believe and act like this country will always be around and will always be free. Let’s not deceive ourselves. We know too well that some, or should we say, many of our freedoms are already gone.

In direct contrast, the freedom we have “in Christ” is eternal. In fact, it was established for the specific purpose of eternity. If the temporal freedoms of an earthly nation are worth standing up for, worth laying down ones life for then how much more is Christ and His cross worth standing up for? How much more is Christ worth laying down my life for?

Would you join me in these thoughts? I’m not seeking to devalue the sacrifice for country. I’m proud of our veterans! Could you die for Christ? Could you stand up for the church, for Christ and His cross in the face of persecution – in the face of death? I’d love to read your thoughts.


BROKENNESS

Today’s word is… “BROKENNESS”

One of the things that make me more than a little OCD is my idea that the phrases or words we use have an effect on how we think about things. The more we speak negatively on a subject the more strongly we will feel, well, negative about it.I want to tread lightly here because sometimes we will dwell on an unbiblical idea such as “God helps those who help themselves,” hear it then say it and start to believe that it is a biblical principle.You get the idea.

This happened to me and Melanie once back in the day when we were young(er) worship leaders.Singing a song about brokenness being what we long for, you know the song, we received an “unpleasant” anonymous letter pointing out to us how wrong it was to make such a statement because God doesn’t want us to be broken, he wants to heal us.I can say that I get where mr/mrs anonymous is coming from, but they missed the point regarding brokenness.The kind of brokenness we were singing and speaking about was a (Psalm 51:16-17) version where David says this…

16For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Until we change the way that we think about our sin, God can not change the way our hearts view it.We must seek to be truly broken about our sinful state as well and about specific, recurring sin in our lives so that He can start over with us and make us into something beautiful, more like His Son, Jesus.