Archive for the ‘sin’ Category

an evil trick

Posted: October 19, 2010 in faith, sin

My small group is reading / discussing the Donald Miller book Blue Like Jazz on Monday nights.  I realize that this is by no means the new must-read in the world of Christian faith….it’s been out for several years, and I’m not sure if there’s  a pastor on earth who hasn’t read it.

But only 2 of us in small group had ever read it, and for me it was nearly 3 or so years ago, so I’ve forgotten most of it.  And whether you like the content or not, it makes for great discussion.

In chapter 2 – which we discussed last night – Miller writes…

“I believe the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God.”

Reading this again impacted me profoundly.

By my estimation, I am awake approximately 120 hours each week, give or take an hour.  I spend about 9 of those hours driving to and from places, including work.  I spend most of those hours listening to sport talk radio.  I spend 45 – 50 of those hours actually at work.  About 6 of those hours are spent cooking, cleaning, doing chores around the house.  Typically about 9 – 10 hours each week are spent at Crossings and/or at small group.

At this point, there are at least 45 hours leftover.  Let’s safely assume that at least 10 of those hours are spent watching television….some weeks as many as 18 hours.  A couple of hours each week to travel to Walmart and do grocery shopping, and we’re still left with 20-25 hours remaining.

Now let’s ask the tough questions. How many hours each week do I spend engaging God – including time at church and small group?  (Answer – maybe 3 hours?)

How many hours do I spend truly engaging my son, reading books with him, playing with toys, taking him to ride his bike?  (Answer – probably another 3 hours?)

How many hours do I spend engaging my wife, talking, turning off the tv, and just being attentive to her as a husband and friend?  (Answer – another 2 – 3 hours?)

This sh*t has to stop.  The truth is, each week I probably spend more time driving in my car, listening to sports talk, than I spend in authentic relationship with God, my wife, and my son COMBINED.  I spend 5 times more time watching television than I do reading a book.  I’ve spent nearly as much time drafting this blog post as I have in one-on-one prayer with the Father in the last few days.

The devil has had an evil trick up his sleeve, and he’s caught me hook, line and sinker.

God help me.

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McDonald’s, Monopoly, & Indigestion

Posted: October 28, 2008 in food, sin

Question: 

Would it be considered gluttony if someone were to “Large Size” their Big Mac meal at McDonald’s, just so they can get six Monopoly game pieces (and six chances at instant prizes)? 

And what if that person were to do this 3 times in one week? 

Just wondering.

Topic #1 – Being a Sinner

Posted: November 29, 2007 in sin

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with the fact that I AM a sinner. I don’t just commit sins. I am a sinner. And so are you. And if you say you are not, then you’ve just committed a sin, so there. =)

There’s a tremendous conflict of language in the Bible regarding sin. The wages of sin is death. One who lives in sin and does not love his brother cannot know God. Christ died for our sins so they would be wiped away. But if you do sin, ask God for forgiveness and it will be granted. But don’t sin, because sin is darkness, and God is light. I understand there are “contexts” to all verses of the Bible, and that it must be read and understood as a whole. But still.

I’d like to think I don’t “live in sin”, but that’s probably a lie….which is a sin. The key here is to understand that SIN is SIN. Bad thoughts, worrying about things you shouldn’t worry about, unkind words, lies, untruths, holding an earthly person in too high of esteem (idolatry?), seeing opportunities to help someone in need and consciously ignoring it. These are sin just as much as rage, robbery, and assault are sin. Yes, the consequences differ, but they are sin. And SIN is SIN. It separates us from God. And we spend our whole lives – if we’re fortunate enough to believe in Him – bridging that separation. Which is almost futile in a sense, because we will continue to sin, regardless of how hard we try not to.

Which is why Christ’s sacrifice – for our sin – is so utterly amazing and unbelievable and really hard to understand deep down inside. No act of goodness can save me. Once I’m saved, no measure of good living can “enhance” my saved-ness in any way. Christ did it all. And I believe it and accept it. And I’m so grateful for it. And yet…I still sin. And although it does matter….somehow, through Christ’s death, it doesn’t. And I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to comprehend it.

pimp slapped by 1 John

Posted: October 29, 2007 in Jesus, sin

I am a Christian, a believer and follower of Christ. However, I’ve found it difficult to use this blog as a way to promote or discuss that much. I’m not sure why, really. It’s possible that I’ve envisioned this site as a way to just kind of put ideas/thoughts in my mind to (virtual) paper, and frankly, I don’t dwell on spirtual or Christ-related things all day long. I’m not necessarily proud of that, and I don’t mean to sound “unspiritual” in some way, it’s just the truth. I’m aware of Christ daily and strive to mold my life in ways that are true to my beliefs, I just don’t find myself thinking all that much about spiritual matters.

However, I would like to direct you to 1 John, chapters 1, 2 & 3. Notice, this is not a reference to the Gospel of John, but the first of three smaller writing by John. This is what we’ve been studying the last 3 weeks in my small group at church. I’m going to paste the text at the end of this post, just in case you feel led to read it. If not, that’s okay. But if you do, I just want you to be aware of the strong terms in which John writes. The black and white of it. Notice both the encouragements he gives to believers, then the almost backhanded pimp-slaps he follows it up with. At least that’s how I felt. It was hard to read, but here’s what it left me with:

Being a follower of Christ requires intentional, consisent, daily, fleshed out effort by way of living right, loving your brother, avoiding sin, and holding true (“remaining”) to Jesus love, care, and teaching. You don’t get to take a day off and be okay with it. You don’t have a choice to not love people. You don’t get to think of sin in any type of light hearted way. You either walk in the light or you walk in the dark. There is no half-lighted middle passage. To me, this felt like a body-shot from Iron Mike….or like a pimp slap from John. And I needed it.

1 John 1
The Word of Life 1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete. 5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

1 John 2
1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also forthe sins of the whole world.
3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. 7Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. 12I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 13I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. 14I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 18Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. 26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. Children of God 28And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

1 John 3
1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. 11This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. 16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

My Chains Are Gone

Posted: July 20, 2007 in family, friends, sin

Just over 7 years ago I committed a criminal offense. I did it. It was horrible, wrong, shameful, terrible, hideous, etc. I’ve never denied my guilt. Just under 7 years ago I was placed under arrest at about 11:30pm after having driven from Detroit, Michigan all the way to Knoxville to meet with police personnel. I spent the night in jail. My good friend bailed me out around 9:00am the next morning.

Exactly 6 years ago, I was sentenced to 6 years of enhanced probation with the state of TN. Today, that sentence has expired. The words that keep popping in my head are the refrain of Chris Tomlin’s new version of Amazing Grace…”my chains are gone, I’ve been set free, my God my Savior, has ransomed me.”

Ultimately, sin is sin. Lying…sin. Stealing…sin. Envy…sin. Pornography…sin. Mistreatment of others…sin. Lust…sin. All sin has a cost. Some more than others. Some may cost more here on earth, all will cost us in eternity. We will account for our sin. We will be rewarded because of our righteousness.

This is going to be pretty “rough”, because I don’t have much time….but I’d like to give a brief overview of what my criminal act of sin has cost me in the last 7 years. Here it goes:

  • Approximately $16,000 in fines, misc fees, and legal fees.
  • Approximately $30,000 in lost wages.
  • Completed 576 hours of fairly grueling community service work.
  • Attended about 175 group counseling sessions, totalling about 250-300 hours.
  • Submitted to 9 polygraph tests over 5 years.
  • For the first 19 months of my son’s life, I was not allowed to care for him by myself.
  • For the next 12 months of his life, I was only allowed to care for him by myself while my wife was at work.
  • Almost all of my immediate family live in Kentucky, about 3 hours away. In the last 5 years, because of travel restrictions, I’ve been to Kentucky a grand total of 1 time.
  • Because of the above restriction, my parents (and brother/sisters) have probably driven to Knoxville at least 12-15 times in the last 3 years to visit, often spending the night on our living room floor and spending who knows how much in gas and food money.
  • Summer of 2004 – was forced to move residences within 1 weeks time.
  • Numerous lost friendships and relationships.
  • Until today, I have not worn shorts in public in almost 2 years. This because I’ve had to wear a “box” on my belt and a bracelet on my ankle since September 2005.
  • Went through a significant period of time when I wondered if I would ever attend a church again.

I’m sure there’s more I could add to this list. But you get the point. You do bad things, you suffer bad consequences. Thank God for watching over me all this time. Thank God for my wife who’s loved me throughout. Thank God for my family (including in-laws) that have supported me and done whatever needed when we were in a pickle. Thank God for some of you reading this who’ve remained loyal friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope this helps shed some light on the name of my blog…Life Recaptured.