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Welcome

Welcome!

I long to lead people to worship God for his practical advice. All Scripture gives me practical truth that will show me I’m worse than I realized, then fix the mess it has exposed, purify, perfect, and equip me to help others. God is so smart and caring, yes, and kind and powerful, etc., etc. Let us worship him for his wisdom by listening with both our spirit and understanding then apply his truth and witness to others of its benefit.

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Uncategorized

WORSHIP THE FOOTWASHER

God’s ways are not my ways, neither are his thoughts my thoughts. For as the heavens are higher than the earth(this is an infinite distance)so are God’s ways higher than my ways.

When I was in the Air Force I was told that an officer never asks his men to do anything he has not himself done. In fact it is best to demonstrate your willingness as an officer to do something, before you asked the men to do it. God is like that, there is nothing he asks me to do that he has not done himself both as an example and to help me not feel like I am above doing it.

So what are some of the things that I need to be doing if I am going to be Christlike and if others are going to see Christ in me. How might I let my light shine in such a way that people see what I do, and see Christ instead of seeing me?

I can start by washing people’s feet. Of course, if I went up to people with the basson and a towel and said, “Do you mind if I wash your feet?” they would probably think I was a pervert. However, I can pick up their mess, wash their dishes, and for the old I can even give them a bath and clean them when they are soiled.

They called him names like Beelzebub and he did not call them names back. He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do!” When I am called names I can pray for them and “bless” them by looking for good things about them to point out and appreciate. If they gossip about me, I can tell others the good things that I have noticed about them.

When dragged before the court, Jesus stayed calm and did not rant or rave. When I am attacked I can listen and stay quiet.

Being totally equal with God the father, he did not think that his rights were something to cling to, but humbled himself and took upon himself the form of a servant. I can watch for my tendency to get all clingy about my “rights” and instead look for ways to serve.

Sometimes I am not so sure that I want to be like Jesus. I know I am not strong enough, but that I can do all things through and by him. I do want to let my light shine in such a way that people see Jesus in me. Lord, help me to see that being like you is a glorious privilege even when it is uncomfortable.

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Uncategorized

Negative Arrogance?

Anytime I say, “I am the only one in the universe who…”

I am being arrogant.

The scriptures say that there is no trial I face that everyone does not go through similar trials. Everyone struggles with similar weaknesses, feels similar pain.

To think that anything is true for just me, is clearly arrogant.

For example: Thinking that what I have done is so bad that it is unforgivable. Yet when I see someone else who has done the same thing, I clearly understand that they are forgivable. Thinking that God’s ways and his truth works for other people, but, in my case, it just does not work. Thinking that I have done my part and God just did not come through probably because my efforts were just not enough, but God comes through for others.

What helps me and many of the people I work with, is to ask myself the following powerful question, “What advice would I give someone else? Someone exactly like me, in the same position, with the same struggles, facing the same challenges?”

I would probably give them wise advice as to their worth, as to hope, as to resting in God’s grace, as to it being okay to ask for and receive help from others etc. etc.

However, I then think, “In my case it’s different!”

Logically, either something is true for everybody or nobody. Either everybody in my situation is worthwhile or no one is, there is hope for everyone or no one. God can forgive everyone or no-one. I do not get to be the only exception.

Prayer: “Lord help me to apply your grace to myself, to see that, because of grace, I am forgiven, empowered, and secure/just as everyone who asks you for forgiveness and grace, is forgiven, empowered, and secure.”

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Uncategorized

Ha! Ha! Ha! Oh it feels good to laugh!

God said: Proverbs 15:13, 15:15, 17:22, Ecclesiastes 8:15, 9:7-9.

The Bible says:

A merry heart will do me good like a medicine/A merry heart puts a smile on my face and the smile will make my heart merrier (not to mention making other people’s hearts merrier)/ If my heart is merry , I will find that life is like having a continual feast/I will enjoy my food and drink and it is to be commended because I can keep the benefits of happiness but all the other results of hard work will pass./ So what’s a man to do? Work hard for the Lord and don’t fret about, “Did I do it well enough to please God?” He accepts even my feeble , imperfect efforts. Eat, drink, be merry, put on clean clothes, comb my hair, live joyfully all my life with the wife I love, and whatever I find to do, do with all my might.

Human research has found that the Bible is correct:

Infrequent laughter was associated with long-term blood pressure increase among middle-aged men.

 Laughter therapy is considered to be useful, cost-effective and easily accessible intervention that has positive effects on depression, insomnia, and sleep quality in the elderly.

 Results indicate that serotonin activation through laughter therapy can help middle-aged women by lessening depression and providing important grounds for depression control.

A meta-analysis revealed that laughter and humor interventions are effective in relieving depression, anxiety, and improve sleep quality in adults.

A daily frequency of laughter is associated with lower prevalence of cardiovascular diseases. 

There are lower depression scales in people treated with laughter therapy.

It was noted that depression reduces the frequency of laughter and, inversely, laughter reduces the severity of depression.

 Laughter also increases the connectivity of patients with people in their life, which further alleviates symptoms of depression

 Laughter lowered the after meal peak glucose level in 34 patients with diabetes.

People with heart disease respond less humorously to everyday life situations.” They generally laugh less, even in positive situations, and displayed more anger and hostility.

Hearty laughter leads to pain relief, probably through the release of endorphins.

The pain threshold is significantly higher after laughter than in the control condition. This pain-tolerance effect is caused by the laughter itself.

When 52 healthy men watched a funny video for 30 minutes, they had significantly higher activity of natural killer (NK) cells and higher levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM (all of which helps the immune system defend us and eliminate cancer as it arises) compared with men who watched an emotionally neutral documentary.

Humor, as measured by the Sense of Humor Survey showed that the higher the sense of humor score, the higher the odds ratio of surviving 7 years.

It has been demonstrated that laughter is able to improve mood directly and to moderate negative consequences of stressful events on psychological well-being; in addition, it is possible that the stimulation of particular cerebral regions, involved in depression pathogenesis, and the normalization of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical system dysfunctions, both mediated by laughter, can efficiently counteract depressive symptoms.

My own experience:

When I feel overwhelmed at work, I take out the complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes that Lois bought me and I read and laugh and find what I need to get back to life.

When a situation is especially tense, I find that helping the other person laugh is key to making progress. I never laugh at anyone but rather laugh with them at the mutual craziness of human nature and life in general.

I love the picture of Jesus laughing and think that we all need to lighten up, after all we are already victors and it is all pretty crazy at times.

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Life Challange

Persistent Passion

How would you like to go to a church which had a report from God almighty that said:

This church works hard; is patient; does not tolerate evil; checks out people who claim to be leaders and teachers and can tell the difference between those who are putting on a show and those who are real; is patient and bears up under stress; does not faint or give up under persecution; and does everything for the name of Christ?

Sounds pretty good, huh? But not to Jesus. He said that outweighing all of that effort, was the fact that they had left their first love!

He told them to repent, remember where they had fallen from, and go back to doing labors of love, not just labors.

He advised them to shape up or he would come quickly and remove their candlestick.

We are told to put our light on a candlestick to give light to all in this dark world. However having a candlestick with no light on it is pointless; having a candlestick with the false “light” of loveless, if dutiful, labor is even worse.

Being human, it is so easy to drift from the labor of love to either doing no labor while trying to maintain a bubbly infatuation or to doing labor that becomes an end in itself without relationship.

Think of marriage

We start out fascinated by the newness of it all, delighting in the love of the other person. We move on to being familiar with the other and take things for granted. We are to continue to invest in that person, adding to our initial love an ever-deepening intimacy and commitment. For “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

I am blessed to be part of a growing church with lots of “first love” people. However, I fear that they might stop at just being saved and avoid the effort and struggle of growth, commitment, and lifelong deepening relationship with God and each other.

Jesus is Far More than Insurance

Jesus wants to be in all my thoughts and not just be an insurance policy or a fixer of my problems. He wants me to see all of life’s events as ways to walk together and get to know him more. He wants me to delight in his love and in the privilege of loving him back. He wants to be a fellow soldier, worker, sufferer, builder, etc.

I need to ask at the start of each day and of each endeavor, “Am I doing this because he asked me to? Am I doing it in his strength? Am I doing this in fellowship with him, talking to him and enjoying his company as we adventure together?”

One good way to tell if I am going it alone is to ask myself if the present moment feels like a stressor or do I see it as a challenge and opportunity. If it is a stressor, then I am going it alone.

Like marriage, it is not okay to say, “I told her I loved her and if I change my mind I will let her know.” I need to constantly check in on my tendency to wander. I need to build habits into my life such as daily quiet time with Jesus.

Remember that habits back up good intentions and make them stay alive and grow.

Check out the following words by Robert Robinson asking Jesus to help him keep his heart fixed on him. But remember we still have to do our part. I can’t expect God to make me stay on track while I actively wander off. Read 2 Chronicles 6 and 7. Solomon asks God to keep him on track and bless him and the Lord replies, if you do your part I will do mine.

As for me, I will work to ignore the storms and focus on my heavenly lover.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
  Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
  Call for songs of loudest praise.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
  Wand’ring from the face of God;
He, to save my soul from danger,
  Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
  Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
  Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.
Teach me, Lord, some rapturous measure,
  Meet for me Thy grace to prove,
While I sing the countless treasure
  Of my God’s unchanging love.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
  Prone to leave the God I love:
Take my heart, oh, take and seal it
  With Thy Spirit from above.
Rescued thus from sin and danger,
  Purchased by the Savior’s blood,
May I walk to earth a stranger,
  Walking hand in hand with God.

Categories
Marriage Relationships

For Husbands Only

Becoming a Provoking Husband:

And let us consider our wives to provoke unto love and to good works, making time to be together and exhorting one another. 

Hebrews 10: 24

We that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the week, and not to please ourselves.  Romans 15:1

God’s word is wisdom among them that are perfect: Yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing. 

1 Corinthians 2: 6

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5: 14

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: And if in anything ye be otherwise minded: God shall reveal even this unto to you.

Philippians 3: 15

All too often people are in a marriage where the other partner makes no pretense of walking with God.

It is easy to complain of how hard it is to be godly when our partner is not doing their part.  Instead of complaining, the Bible exhorts the husband to stay in the marriage and live in such a way that God can use his example, first to sanctify his children, and then influence his wife.

And the husband which has a wife that believes not, if she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not leave her.  For the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

First Corinthian’s 7: 13

From the first sin in the garden, wives have wanted to control their husbands:

“See, I ate from the tree and I feel fine, you try some.”  

It used to be that husbands could say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” But times have changed, and we often find that our partner is not as interested in spiritual things, or feels she can be fine spiritually without our leadership, or that she is more spiritual and should do the leading.

Does this mean you have to give up leading your family spiritually even though you can’t make your wife change? Can you be the spiritual leader even if she does not want to follow?

Well, God calls us to do our part whether anyone else does theirs or not. But this does not mean demanding the role or shoving our leadership onto her. You can do things that lead towards God and reward her anytime she joins you in focusing on God.

Living This Out

  1. You can lead your wife to pray together with you.

Husbands, dwell with your wife according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, [I strongly suggest you don’t you not call her that!] and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7

 You can deliberately go through life watching for needs, that would touch her heart, as they naturally arise around you. You can then invite her to take a minute and join you in prayer.

Example: “Dear, my boss just found out his daughter has cancer, could we take a minute and pray for her?” Even if she just stops and listens with you as you pray, she is still joining you in praying together. Then you can say, “Thank you for supporting me in prayer.”

2. You can watch for life questions and take them to the Bible and to older Christian men to seek guidance. Then say something like,

“I ran into the following issue at work, and I have been trying to think through what God would have me do. I think that he would have me________. Do you think that I am understanding that right?”

Even if she just says, “Sounds OK to me.” That is enough. You can then go out and apply the insight and say, “Thanks for letting me bounce ideas off of you, I tried it and it went really well.”

3. Be willing to admit to yourself and your wife,

“I want to grow into a better person, and I have identified the following areas that I need to work on_________. I know that I am blind to my faults and will miss obvious problems. Besides this, is there some other area you would like me to work on?
“I am already doing the following to help me grow_______. Every Monday after supper, would you take a few minutes and let me know how I am doing? Here is a notebook for you to write in during the week. If you see some examples of where I have been doing better or need to do better, please share them with me.”

If she says, “O you are fine the way you are.” Don’t walk away satisfied. Say something like,

“I realize that I have not been open to your feedback in the past. I have even done things to make you uncomfortable when you care enough to give me feedback. I have pointed out your faults or just withdrawn.
“God is convicting me of my need to grow and I promise, with his help, to listen and benefit from your feedback.
“If you would forgive me and take the risk to help me grow, I would be so grateful.”

 If she has the guts to suggest something — anything, thank her and clarify, “Are you seeing the following area I can work on?” (No explaining or defending, see my blog on excuses).

If she risks pointing out something, it will probably be something small and unimportant but if you accept it and grow from it, she will slowly become God’s best tool for fashioning you into the likeness of Christ.

Then you need to work to benefit from her feedback. The next week, point out what you have done and how you appreciate her supporting your desire to grow.

When she is encouraged and rewarded to start with little steps, it leads to more and more. Soon she will be thinking that getting saved and supporting you in your spiritual journey, might not be such a bad thing after all. Even if she does not change, you will find yourself becoming more and more like Jesus!

A Vital Warning

Do not point out that she could do some growing too! Leave that to the Holy Spirit who is free to work on her in the same areas you are letting the Spirit work on you.

Instead

Keep your own notebook of any little efforts she is making and point out your appreciation.

All In

God is not into you changing your 50% if she changes her 50%. Nope, he is into 100% you change even if she does not. This is because he sees your changing as 100% a blessing for you. Such 50/50 thinking garbage comes from seeing godly growth as hard and boring and painful rather than glorious.

Of course, you might say to yourself that, “This is just too much work and she is doing almost nothing, it’s not fair.” True it’s not fair, but God is not fair:

  • he pours out heaps of unfair mercy,
  • he paid the debt he did not owe (how unfair) you owed the debt you could not pay, and it was unfairly paid.  

So, anything God asks is fair, fair, fair. Also, her “almost nothing” is a whole lot better than nothing.

Categories
Marriage

For Wives Only

Becoming a Provoking Wife

And let us consider our husband to provoke unto love and to good works, making sure we spend time together and exorting one another. Hebrews 10: 24 

We that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the week, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1

God’s word is wisdom among them that are perfect: Yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing. 1 Corinthians 2: 6

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5: 14

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: And if in anything ye be otherwise minded: God shall reveal even this on to you. Philippians 3: 15

All too often people are in a marriage where the other partner makes no pretense of walking with God.
It is can be easy to complain of how hard it is to be godly when our partner is not doing their part.  Instead, the Bible exhorts the wife to stay in the marriage and live in such a way that God can use her example, first to sanctify the children, and then influence the husband.

The woman which has husband that believes not, if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband. 1 Corinthians 7: 13

Men, from their first sin in the garden, either say:

 “Sure, dear, I’ll eat the fruit.”   /   Or they say, “You don’t tell me what to do, I tell you what to do!”

Calm spiritual leadership is not a natural bent for men; they are terrified of taking their proper role and need help beyond themselves to see what it looks like and to grab ahold of it.

But does a wife have to accept the fact that her husband will not naturally be a spiritual leader?

Well, God calls us to do our part whether the other does theirs or not. However, she can do things that lead toward and reward him whenever he takes his God-given role. She can increase his likelihood of taking his role and even his likelihood of getting saved.

For example, a wife can lead her husband to pray more by first watching for needs as they naturally arise around them. She can then invite him to take a minute and join her in prayer.

“Dear, my boss just found out his daughter has cancer, could we take a minute and pray for her?”

Even if she has to do the actual praying, he is still joining her in praying together. She can then say, “Thank you for supporting me in prayer.”

When a man is thanked for doing almost nothing, his brain will perk up and say to him, Maybe I should invest more time and energy into that area.

A wife can watch for life questions and take them to the Bible and older Christian women to seek guidance. She then, having done most of the work, can go to her husband and say, perhaps,

“I ran into the following issue at work, and I have been trying to think through what God would have me do. I think that he would have me _________. Do you think that I am understanding that right?”

Even if he just says, “Sounds OK to me,” that is enough. She can then go out and apply the guidance, return to him, and say, “Thanks for your advice! I tried it and it went really well.”

Despite the glaring issues she can see in him, a wise wife will admit to herself and her husband,

“I want to grow into a better person, and I have identified the following areas that I need to work on __________. I am doing the following to help me grow.
“Every Monday after supper would you take a few minutes and let me know how I am doing? Here is a notebook for you to write in during the week. If you see some examples of where I have been doing better or need to do better, please share that with me.
“I know that I am blind to my faults, besides the areas I have identified, is there some other area you would like me to work on?“I ran into the following issue at work, and I have been trying to think through what God would have me do. I think that he would have me _________. Do you think that I am understanding that right?”

If he says, “O you are fine the way you are.” Don’t walk away satisfied, but say,

“I realize that I have not been open to your feedback in the past. I have even done things to make you uncomfortable when you care enough to give me feedback. I have pointed out your faults or just withdrawn.
“God is convicting me of my need to grow and I promise, with his help, to listen and benefit from your feedback.”
“I am already doing the following things ________ and getting the following accountability from my friends ________.”
“If you would forgive me and take the risk to help me grow, I would be so grateful.”

If a husband has the guts to suggest something, anything, thank him and clarify, “Is there anything else I can work on?” Then work on it and the next week point out what you have done and how you appreciate him supporting your desire to grow.

Do not point out that he could do some growing too! Leave that to the Holy Spirit who is free to work on your husband in the same areas you are letting the Spirit work on you. Instead, keep your own notebook of any little efforts your husband is making and point out your appreciation.

If he risks pointing out something, it will probably be something small and unimportant, but if you accept it and grow from it, he might slowly become God’s best tool into fashioning you into the likeness of Christ.

The Christian Life Isn’t Fair

Of course, you might say, “this is just too much work and he is doing almost nothing, it’s not fair.”

True, God is not fair, he pours out heaps of unfair mercy on us, he paid the debt he did not owe (how unfair), you owed the debt you could not pay. So, anything God asks is fair, fair, fair. Also, “almost nothing” is a whole lot better than nothing.

Starting with a little can lead to more and more.

Soon the husband could be thinking that getting saved and being a spiritual leader might not be such a bad thing after all.

So many men fear that getting saved would require them to submit to the wife who is “more spiritual.” Now he would just have to submit to God himself, which is a little easier for a man to do. And he can see how submitting to God would give him the back-up he needs to fill the new role his wife is easing him into.

Categories
Iniquity Sin

Sin? What Sin? I’m Not That Bad! Am I?

Perhaps the worst sins of all are the ones that are hard to spot because they actually look good, or, at least, don’t look as bad as others.


For example, we can sin by deliberately crossing a line. By thinking that we will just dabble with sin “a little.” We figure we spend most of the time living in the good area but have the fun of crossing the line a bit. This is called transgression.

Or we can sin by deliberately saying, “I do not care, I am going to do what I want to do even though I know it is wrong.” Such sins are so obvious that sooner or later we can see the consequences of our choices. These sinners are easier to help.

My pastor worked in Las Vegas and he says he never had anybody have difficulty there with the idea that they were sinners. They just figured they were hopelessly addicted, but they were open to hope. But then he came to Grand Rapids and, Oh boy! All the sinners who think that they are fine saying, “I thank God I am not like those real sinners.”

What are some of the difficult sins to spot?

(And thus are much more dangerous)

  1. Deciding for myself what is right, then doing what we think is right in our own strength, and moaning and groaning about how hard it is or taking the credit. Perhaps this is the most dangerous of all. (aka Iniquity)
  2. Then there are the opposite of the do-gooders: people who do not do deliberately bad things but know they should do something good and choose not to. The Bible says if you know there is good that needs to be done but you do not do it, that is sin. Another place in the Bible says if you know that people are being lead to destruction and you do not intervene, then you are guilty of their death.
  3. Then there are the passive-aggressives who say, “I am trying, I am trying!” Truthfully they are not. They fool everyone, including themselves, that they are going to come through, that they have a good attitude, that they can be counted on.
    Then they make sure they do not do what needs to be done and instead have good excuses or blame others to cover the fact that they did not do their part. (e.g., “Well, if you had been more clear or given me more time or more help, I would have done it.”)
  4. Then there are codependents, like myself. We say, “Yes I am guilty of the sin of being too nice.” We think, “Is it all that bad, after all, if we are too nice?” We really believe that is the fault of the other people for taking advantage of our niceness.
    The apostle Paul says, I am going to love even if the more I love you the more you hate me. That is true love, doing what is best for others not just what pleases them!
    When we do not want to stir up other people and get them mad at us; when we do not want to risk rejection so we say nothing and let them go to their own destruction without intervening, this isn’t love.
    This kind of “niceness” is a great sin but a difficult one to see. It is saying, “The finished work of Jesus on the cross is not enough to buy my worth. I must get everyone to like me by my own niceness, if I want to feel worthwhile!” (Ah, the blasphemy of niceness.)
  5. Then there is putting ourselves down (self-deprecation). It almost feels righteous. “See how humble I am. I am willing to find fault with myself, call myself worthless, hopeless, and helpless.”
    Now, admitting that we are messed up is a first step toward righteous. Then we can go to God, ask for forgiveness, cleansing, and strengthening and then move on into righteousness.
    I am talking about the people who just wallow in their self-contempt and then feel like they are extra humble for putting themselves down. Or the people who say, I just do not have the ability, so do not ask me to do my part.
    They are like Moses claiming he could not talk when he was in fact a mighty man of words.
  6. Or, there is a sin of putting other people on a pedestal where we think we are doing something good by pointing out how wonderful the other person is. The pastor can talk so eloquently, other people can sing so well, and other people are good with kids. (But don’t expect me to do my part because I can’t compete).
    However, in the process of putting them on a pedestal we are comparing ourselves by ourselves and among ourselves and this is unwise. And it is sin.

I have found that people who indulge in these “good-looking” sins are the hardest to reach. People whose sins do not look “all that bad” don’t feel the need to examine themselves and change. How can they get to the point of praying, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” John says that, if we say we do not sin, we lie.

What Can I Do to Escape These Sins?

I need to pause and say,

Lord help me to see myself the way you see me. Help me to quit thinking “I am not all that bad.” Help me to take the plunge into the “mess of me,” to see the whole of what needs to change and find anew the Mercy and the Grace to keep growing and changing from now til the day I die. Help me not to fight your Holy Spirit with, “What’s so wrong with…? Or I’m sure better than they are.”

This is a faithful saying and one you should accept, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom Verle Bell is chief!”

Categories
Grace

My Sin, the Measure of God’s Love

So, just how big is God’s grace? Infinite!

The problem with infinite is that it is so big that I get no picture in my head.

Picturing grace is like picturing the national debt.

I might be able to picture a $1 million house and, with a lot of work, I might picture a subdivision with 1,000 such houses. And that would be a billion. Now if I try to imagine a thousand such subdivisions (I can’t), I would be at one trillion and am closer to the national debt.

It is like that with grace.

I can’t actually picture how big it is, but I do know, “It is bigger than that!” Bigger than all my sins. (Hard to imagine, huh?)

So why is it important for me to get a good picture of how big grace is?

As it turns out,

  • my gratitude,
  • my willingness to do what ever God asks while seeing it as reasonable,
  • my ability to not whine about the trials in my life,
  • my ability to not judge someone else as hopeless or worthless,
  • my ability to worship and glorified God by sharing with others examples of how great his grace is,
  • and my sense of personal worth

are all connected to seeing just how big a debt I owe and then that God’s grace is bigger than that!

The Bible says that if Abba, Father was willing to sacrifice his own son for me, how will he not also with him give me all things that I need. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for me was so huge that the entire universe is small by comparison. So, however big that is, I can rest in the fact that Grace is bigger than all my sin!

The problem is that I do not want to look at how big my sin is

All Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, that I might be purified and given good work to do. Still I want to jump right from doctrine to ministry and forget all about reproof .

I don’t want to have to look at the details and enormity of my sin.

Yet there will be no correction without looking at what needs to be corrected. That would be like a surgeon trying to take out your appendix without making a diagnosis or looking at what he was doing.

Brace Yourself!

I have found that my sin is like an iceberg, 1/9th sticking out and 8/9ths waiting to pop out when the sun melts some of the visible part of the iceberg. I am willing to guess that that is true about your sin.

We are much worse that we think, but lighten up, his grace is bigger than the iceberg, even bigger than the whole glacier and the whole icepack. He can handle it if we allow him to bring it out into the sun.

Categories
Sin

Everyone Else is Doing it, so it Must be Fun—I Have to Try Just Once!

Boy, that fruit on the tree can still look pretty good. I am sure that Eve just kept thinking, “I wonder what it tastes like, it sure looks good to eat, just one bite cannot hurt.” Oh, boy, was that was a mistake!


Young people growing up see that we have no laws against eating mud or hitting your finger with a hammer because obviously those are nasty. When they are told that they cannot drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, or have sex outside of marriage, they think, “All those other people are doing those things and they seem to be having fun and are getting away with it, can I really go my whole life without finding out what so fun?” (Yes, you can, by God’s grace, and be better off for it.)

  • So often we insist on looking at the attractive fruit on the tree. This raises our desire to try it, just once!
  • We then question, “What’s so wrong with that? Those people seem to be enjoying it.”
  • We question God, and then give in.
  • We then promise to never do it again, then slip again, then promise to quit, only to find ourselves addicted.
  • We then begin to reap the consequences of our sin and we cry out to God and get help to quit.

God will help us, but he does not install chairlifts in the slippery hill of sin. Instead, we have to climb, with him and with the help of others, slowly and painfully out of the valley. This is good because he wants us to get to the place where we trust him when he says “do not.”
He is leading us to the place we trust him when he says, “obey.” He wants me to trust him and not just to avoid getting into trouble.


Way back in the garden of Eden, God gave them a single rule so that they could learn obedience. He is looking today for people to go to his Word, get instructions from the Holy Spirit, and obey him before we get into trouble.

Obey him even when my way seems better to me.

Obey him because I know he is wiser than I.

I need to learn to hate the sin of being my own boss more than I hate the consequences of my bad choices.

It is like the child who disobeys his mother, leaves the yard, and gets injured by a passing car. Instead of saying, ” I am sorry for being disobedient,” he says, “I am sorry for breaking my leg and it was wrong because it hurts.”


“Lord teach me to hate my sin of indulging in “just looking” at the beautiful sin and just wanting one bite. Of wanting to judge for myself. Help me instead to delight in your law, seek out your advice, and follow it with joy before I learn the hard way to trust that you are wiser than I am.

Categories
Uncategorized

Dynamic Balance

These days people just love to take up a stand on one extreme or the other.

They then delight in pointing out

why the other side is crazy and wrong and

why they are right.

Balance in the Home

Husbands and wives do not seek to solve problems and be a team. They seek to win and be the one who is “more right.”

We marry somebody because they are different and we can see how God could use that to balance us—then we try to change them to be exactly like we are.

Even if we admit that there might be two sides to an issue, we want to find a balance that is perfect and does not need to be adjusted from time to time.

We don’t like truth to be dynamic; we like it fixed, always the same balance. Then we can figure out and apply to every situation in the same way and feel in control.

The problem is that static balance does not work!

Take, for example, the balance between work, family, and time for oneself.

  • There are times where you have to put in extra focus on an effort at work
  • and other times where you have to back off of work and put extra focus and time on family
  • and yet other times you need to back off of both and have some quiet time between just you and the Lord.

I think one reason we are so uncomfortable with the fact of the need for a shifting, dynamic balance, is that it can only be found by talking to others and keeping our eyes focused on the Lord at all times. I will never “master” the art so well that I am in control and can handle each situation in my own strength.

In an attempt to maintain balance between work, family, self, and church I have found it helpful to let my wife and children know that I am open to their feedback and that I will adjust accordingly. For me, the hardest was to make sure I took time for myself to renew and rejuvenate.

An Example at the Level of Society

In politics, the Lord says that we need to take care of the needy, that if you have two coats, share one with a person who has none. That it is wrong to say to starving brother “God bless you” and not take care of his need.

On the other hand it says if a man does not work he should not eat and that a widow is not a widow if she has family that can take care of her.

So do we give to needy people or don’t we?

Maybe I have to do a little thinking first, ask others, and spend time in prayer. I need to ask whether I am actually helping the person and not making them weak or dependent.

Balance in Christian Discernment

We are told to judge not lest we be judged with the same judgment we use to judge others. On the other hand Paul says, “although I am not even there, I have judged already.”

So, are we supposed to judge or not?

Maybe I need to see that it is good for others to judge me. To see whether what we are doing is healthy and tell me so. Then I can, in turn, judge others’ choices for their welfare and not to make myself look better.

I am to do “all to the glory of God” and he should be in “all of my thoughts.” However I am to focus on the people and things around me and on meeting their needs and enjoying what I have.

How do I avoid being so heavenly minded as to be of no earthly good? I remember a pastor that spent so much time preparing a perfect sermon and praying that he never went to visit or minister to his people.

I am to actively focus on, and hope in, heaven while still enjoying the food and tasks and people around me now.

Just when I get the balance fairly set, what I need to look at and emphasize seems to shift.

Dear Jesus, you be my balance and I will just walk each moment with you trying to see what you see and care about what you care about.