Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Living with a Target on Your Back

When we were kids we sang Oh be careful little eyes what you see…be careful little hands what you do…be careful little feet where you go. It was quite catchy back then but had a powerful message—the result of living an unguarded life always ends in disappointment.


This week we discovered another significant pastor admitted moral failure. Although only a few of the ramifications have been announced—disqualified from leading his 20,000 member church—many more are churning in the background. His personal life as well as his ministry are now ship-wrecked. Major restoration is the only hope.
So many scriptures come to mind that speak of temptation, trials, testing, refining. James speaks of how Satan creates a lure to attract us to sin. He also prowls about to attack us. It’s as though we live with a huge target drawn on our backs at which the enemy chunks his darts. All of his attacks are designed to destroy the work of God within us or through us.

But I also realize how faithful God is to make a way of escape. Joseph had that moment to decide if he wanted Potifer’s wife or wanted to maintain his integrity before men and holiness before God. He ran. That moment is our gift from God to overcome the temptation.
No temptation comes to us that is beyond resisting. Jesus proved that. To guarantee our victory over sin, with each temptation is a way of escape if we choose to use it. We can say no. We can walk away. Choosing not to use the way of escape is evidence that the desire to sin has established a stronghold in our heart.

Sin cannot establish a stronghold with a glance, or an invitation, or a suggestion. Sin can only establish a stronghold when it has weakened our desire to resist. This takes time and thought. In other words, we see it coming and don’t get out of the way.
Temptation is never irresistible in itself. It becomes irresistible when we take delight in whatever it is offering. That delight can make us blind to the consequences.

If we will be careful what we see, touch, and where we go, we may keep ourselves from sin by not allowing the temptation to become irresistible. Anyone can give in and anyone can resist. I wish that pastor had done so. I hope I do so. Even now, I'm feeling another ring on the target on my back being drawn.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Making a Mess

I’m messy. I’ve always been messy. I can’t open the hood of my truck without getting grease on me. When I’m building things in my garage, I make a mess. Sawdust, scattered wood, tools, coke cans litter the floor. I can’t create without mess.

Wood Work Shops photos

Okay, blame my mother for not disciplining me to clean up after myself. Blame me for being lazy. Bottom line: I don’t let cleanliness interfere with creating.
Solomon said, Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. If you want the advantage of the ox, you’re going to have to deal with (well) his messiness.

Sometimes God gets messy with us. Since faith is developed by trials and tests, things have to get messy for us to learn to trust Him. Nobody learns significant lessons of truth simply by taking notes in a Bible Study. We haven’t learned anything. We’ve simply noted something significant.

For those truths to become a part of our lives they have to be worked in. Like reading a book on working out and noting the importance of certain exercises but never going to the gym and doing what we read. God doesn’t grow us by information any more than a coach can strengthen us by lecture.

I can check out projects in books or on line all day. But if I'm going to make something that had only existed on paper, things are gonna get messy. Growing faith gets messy. But we won’t grow without it. Just be sure and clean up after you’re done.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why Can't I Feel God?

Forgiveness is the means by which God removes the hindrance of our wrong choices. Those wrong choices are like debris between two magnets. God has established a permanent, attracting relationship between us and Him that can only be minimized by the junk we allow to interfere with that attraction. Like magnets made for connection, God has programmed us to want Him and desire to walk with Him. It’s what Adam knew in the Garden before the bite.

Interesting Facts about Magnets

Whenever we chose some other activity, attitude or advice for how we live, contrary to God’s intentions, debris settles between us and God. It diminishes the sense of the attraction. God is still drawing us to Himself but we have lost interest in the drawing and become obsessed with that that is hindering the connection.
To reconnect with God, John said we must we confess our sins. If we do He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The cleansing mechanism for removal of the junk between us and God is forgiveness. Confess means calling it what God calls it. Acknowledging its interference in our lives and asking God to remove it.

When God removes that interference, the magnets reconnect. It’s automatic. The power of their attraction never went away, but the debris blocking the energy kept them separated.
David sensed the debris in his live and said wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. He had lost the power of his connection with God. By that confession, God cleared the obstruction and reconnected with His child.

The debris was gone. God removed it. He chunked it into the deepest caverns of the ocean. He separated it from David forever. The hindrance was gone. In God’s eyes it was as if David had never sinned in the first place.
That same freedom awaits us today. What a great day for reconnecting with God!