Home

Ten Ways to love: Accusations

5 Comments

The second statement in our ‘Ten ways to love’ series is this:

Anger

Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. (Photo credit: baejaar)

2.  Speak without accusing.

The verse:  James 1:19:  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

I find this one very difficult because it’s so hard to keep accusation out at times.   Because it’s more difficult to see my own stuff, I’m afraid I will have to use what I see in others as examples here.  I am not casting the first stone, however, because I can accuse with the best of them at times.

The backhanded question

A certain person is quite good at speaking with accusation behind seemingly innocent words, usually in the form of questions.  “Why is the front door open?”  translates to “Why didn’t you shut the door, do you want to heat the whole world?”   Implied (and often spoken after the statement) is the hard work trying to earn money to pay the bills while everyone else wastes money like it grows on trees.  This is speaking with accusation.

I saw ‘evidence’ and, I know you’re guilty!

Sometimes, we speak with accusing when we haven’t received all the information needed.  This one seldom happens a LOT in relationships.  If you’ve ever caught some of the Maury Povich type shows, you see people coming on with accusation oozing out of their pores!  I saw a text on your phone, so you MUST be having an affair.  “I only slept with 5 people, but I know you’re the dad.  So why aren’t you stepping up to the plate to take care of YOUR child?”   “I saw you look at her, you don’t love me!”    And so on ad nauseam!!!  This way comes by jumping to conclusions and attacking rather than waiting for more information and strangling him in his sleep DISCUSSING it in an adult manner.

How could you?

Sometimes, in a similar vein to above, we assume another’s motives.  It’s entirely possible we’re wrong, but we think we can read minds, so….  Another person I know seems to be able to find a negative motive in most anything.  I probably attribute good motives more than I should, but I’d rather give a person a chance than to assume  wrongly.  People have different love languages (and other filters), and sometimes they mean well, even if the results are not what they intended.  For example, when my husband does something for me, like going to work every day or fixing a problem, he is saying, “I love you!”   Because I did not understand this for a few years, I attributed wrong motives and didn’t believe he loved me.  I was wrong and caused a lot of heartache to myself and him.   Sometimes we can just accept people, and their motives, at face value.

A Person (Man) exclaiming something

A Person (Man) exclaiming something (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Political Debates gone wrong

If you’ve ever watched a debate, and I use that term loosely.  How often do you hear accusations flying?  Uh, yeah, all the time!  Rather than defending one’s own take on the issues, deflection techniques muddy the waters.  Personally, I would rather hear what a candidate believes than the mistakes of his/her opponent.   A person that can stick with the issues and not get sucked into the vortex of distraction gets my respect.  This type of conversation (no matter who is doing the ‘debating’) should keep the focus on the person speaking and not the other person through accusation and idiocy.

The Children

We do this to children all the time.  They bring us a flower and we yell at them for picking it.  They want to hug us, but we accuse them of ‘bugging’ us or being to clingy.

The rest of the story

If you read the next verse in James, it says, ”

20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

 

I memorized this scripture many years ago and use it often to remind me that my anger, accusations, judgments, etc. do not work God’s righteousness.  In fact, they often get in the way and turn others away from God.  In order to show love, it is necessary to tame that tongue and give thought to our words before we allow them out of our mouth.  No one is perfect, but sometimes that extra second of thought will save some heartache for all.

Have you ever jumped to conclusions and wrongly accused someone?   Have you rightly accused them, but to the relationship’s detriment due to the way you handled it?  Have you attributed negative motives to someone and accused them by word or deed?  Do you distract through accusation in a fight, debate, discussion, argument?  Have you brushed a child aside and spoken with accusation to them?  What are some other ways we speak with accusing?

Communication busters: What lens are you looking through?

3 Comments

Before we get to the meat of this post, I would like to go back and make a few comments on another.  In my response to Miro’s poem, Christians, I was reminded that this is nothing new.  True.  Those who do not want to be bothered with Christianity have been hating it and it’s proponents through the ages.  Many will continue to do so no matter how well Christians act.   I was also reminded that what I said may be misconstrued.  This is true as well.  And that leads me to this post.   The reason my words might be misconstrued is that we all tend to look through different lenses.  The Christian might read my post and understand completely what I was trying to say.  The non-Christian may see something else.  For instance,  I did not mean that Christian’s need to meet other’s ideas of proper behavior.  They need to meet God’s criteria.  Others will disagree, and that’s their business.

 

Knowing we have these lenses, it makes sense to take a second look at everything we see/hear/read/etc., as we navigate our world.  Are we seeing the truth or have we donned our own biased lenses to view it.  Misunderstandings abound because of this tendency.  We use the same words, but they have different meanings.  For the Christian, this means we need to see things through God’s lenses.  How does God see this person/situation/…?  If the Christian will look at his or her world through the lens of God’s eyes, we would better know what to do in each situation.  I apologize for the rather disorganized thoughts in this post, but it is what it is.

 

Lens 1:   God does not hate homosexuals conservatives democrats tea partiers occupiers gossips gluttons adulterers _______.  God hates SIN!   When God looks at a person, He sees the heart.  He may hate the sin the person is bound to, but He does not hate him or her.  He loved him or her enough to provide a way back to Him from their sinful condition.  Christians have to walk a line.  We are not to say bad is good, but we are to love the person.  This is an issue I struggle with, not because I don’t love the person, I do.  I struggle because I also have a deep need to speak God’s truth.  God reminds me that there is a time and a place for everything, even speaking truth.  I can speak the truth and still love.  This love is not dependent on other’s acceptance of it.  I love because God loves and gives me the grace to love others despite how they treat me or feel about me.

 

Lens 2:  If I do ____________  or don’t do ___________  I am better than others.  No, you’re not!  God’s criteria is the same for every person.  You cannot earn it.  You cannot get to it by following a list of “do”s and “don’t”s.  When we give Christ our sin, He gives us His righteousness.  It is the only righteousness that is good enough to meet God’s standards.  Our attempts at personal righteousness outside of Christ are pathetic at best.  This lens looks around and compares to others.  God’s lens looks at Christ and compares only to Him.  If we are wearing His righteousness, we make the cut.  If we are still trying to get good enough on our own, we do not.

 

Lens 3:  I have __________, so God must be happy with me and blesses me more than others.  NOT!   God doesn’t look at the things you have or don’t have when determining how or when to bless you.  He looks at your heart.  He looks at your future and what will be best for you.  He looks at your relationship with Jesus.  We cannot determine for ourselves whether something is a blessing or a curse.  Look at Job.  His life looked like a blessing, then looked like a curse, and then looked like a blessing.  None of what happened to him was because of something he did or didn’t do wrong.  You have to look through God’s lens to see whether something is a blessing or not.   Any time we elevate ourselves above other people, we better watch out.  That is pride and pride is not from God.

 

 

There are many more lenses, but I’m going to stop here.  What lenses do you see out there that keeps Christians from living like they should, bringing glory to God?   Can you see through God’s lens?    Has there been a time when you were looking at a situation or person in a certain way and God showed you how He sees the situation/person?  How did this effect/affect you?  What do you believe are some of the biggest distortions in our lenses that keep us from knowing truth?

Wellness is a frosted cupcake

Leave a comment

Wellness is a frosted cupcake.   This post by Derek Mansker of No Throw Aways, gives an excellent answer to my questions in a recent post The same or different?   I asked if all sin is the same, gave 8 reasons why it is, and then one way in which physical consquences might be different.  Then we come to the however.

Derek brings up a great point about the term wellness and what it really means.  Derek’s post points out that we don’t find spiritual wellness by comparing ourselves to others or even by keeping a list of dos and don’ts.

Sin is . . .

Sin is ultimately against God.

Sin separates us from God.

Sin, whether in the physical realm or in the mind, carries with it the same consequence:  Spiritual death or separation from God for eternity.

Sin does not make you ‘well’ or ‘not well’; it is a symptom of your sin nature.

Spiritual Wellness:

IS NOT:  an attempt to live a perfect, sinless life.

IS NOT:  an attempt at living better (following more rules) than someone else.

IS NOT:  attempting to commit less sin than someone else.

IS NOT:  logging up brownie points by going to church, reading the Bible, etc.

Spiritual Wellness:

IS:   “something that we are given as a gift in Christ.”  Derek Mansker

IS:   “not of our own creation, but by our relationship with Jesus Christ.”  Derek Mansker

and best of all:

IS: “…experiencing that freedom.” (that lets sin know it is not the boss anymore.

This is a difficult concept, even for those who have been in the faith for a long time. All of us, at times, slip into that mode of trying to earn our salvation by doing or not doing something. However, as Derek points out: “the penalty that was due to you because of that sin is gone and you are able to walk and live in freedom that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

 

The standard is not others.

The standard is God (Jesus Christ).

We are sinners who do not (cannot) meet that standard.

Jesus met that standard for us.

He offers us the free gift of His salvation.

This gift is so much more than just a ticket to heaven.

It is freedom from the power of sin.

It is freedom to Christ’s righteousness.

It is freedom to everything Christ has.

It is grace.

“Wellness in Christ is not something we do, it is something we have obtained because of His work…..it is about understanding the grace of God in our daily life and living within it.”   –Derek Mansker

I hope you will hit the link above and drop over to read Derek’s article.  Tell him Angie sent you.  You will find some excellent wisdom there.

God’s  Riches  AChrist’s   Expense.” –Unknown

 

Name the bars

4 Comments

To sum up previous posts, the conclusion is:  Yes, all sin is sin is sin.

Just because we may not see the consequences of some sins, does not mean it is not equally sin.

All sin destroys; all sin leads to death.

Jesus heals; He leads to life.

A prison of our own making

If you commit a heart sin, you may not wind up in an earthly prison, but you will be in a prison of your own making, Christian or not.

Maybe you have not committed a murder of another human being, but have harbored hatred in your heart.  Hatred, when taken to it’s natural conclusion leads to murder.  In God’s eyes, it is murder, but before it leads there overtly, it leaves a path of destruction in the life of the person and in those around him/her.

 

Where does it lead?

On a radio program, I recently heard the story of a man who found himself in prison for murder.  He was a good man.  He was only trying to protect his two step-daughters from their abusive biological father.  However, he harbored hatred in his heart and it led him farther than he ever intended to go.  Don’t delude yourself that you could never find yourself in that position, because we are all capable if we allow the heart sins to grow and fester in our lives.  The end result may have protected the girls from their biological father, but it took a good man away from them for life as well and left them with trauma and no dad at all.

This man, in his determination to protect his step-daughters, allowed his heart to harbor prison bars.  What were they?  Possibly believing lies, bitterness, not seeking God in the situation, and much more.  It is the seemingly small things that spoil our hearts and lead us to paths we never intended.  The same is true of all heart sin, be it lust, bitterness, hatred or more.

What do you suppose the actions of these fathers has planted into the hearts of the children?  The damage is extensive and while it can be healed, cannot be removed.  There will be plenty of scars in the lives of these children.  The families, friends, communities, and even society will also pay a price.

So what bars make up your prison? 

Can you name them?

What would you be willing to do to get out of prison? 

Are you in denial about the consequences of your pet sins?

Some of the bars that keep us from living fully as we should:

Guilt (real and false)

Hatred

Bitterness

Ruined Relationships

Believing lies

Denial

Judging

Unintended consequences

Planting hatred, bitterness, sin, in other hearts

Hatred, bitterness, other sin planted in my own heart.

The good news:

Jesus stands with the key, purchased with His own blood, but will not force you to allow him to open it.

“Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.”

Elvina M. Hall (public domain)

Can you name more bars that imprison us?

The same or different?

9 Comments

As I was teaching my Sunday School class one day, a topic came up and discussion took off.  We were talking about the consequences of sin.  One girl asked, “So aren’t all sins the same?” sparking my teacher thoughts to ponder an answer.  The answer to that question is YES!  and NO!  But how do you explain that to an 8th grader?  I hope you guys will chime in.

Is all sin the same?  Yes

1.  There is no victimless sin.  All sin has consequences and all sin hurts others.

2.  All sin is missing the mark.  When it comes to our worthiness for heaven, one sin (of any kind) causes us to miss the standard of holiness needed to be accepted.  Whether we miss by an inch or a mile (human thinking), we still miss.  That’s why someone who did meet the standard, Jesus, had to pay for sin in our place.

3.  All people sin.  Yes, even you and I.  If there’s anyone out there who thinks they have not, let me know.  Then give me the numbers of the people who know you best so I can validate your perfectness.

4.  We are all “born to it.”   We are all born with a sin nature.  That means our tendency is to sin.  If anyone has ever been around a 2 year old (of any age), you know exactly what I mean.  We are born with a “my way” in our genes and seek “my way” the rest of our lives.  Hopefully some of that my way is tempered as we age, but it’s always with us.

5.  Sin’s eternal consequence is determined by accepting or rejecting Christ’s sacrifice/payment for sin.  All of us have the option to invalidate the eternal consequences of our sin.  When we accept Christ as Savior and allow Him to make the payment (He already took the punishment), we are no longer responsible for the eternal consequence of breaking God’s laws.  If we do not accept Him, it’s like having your brother take a spanking for you and still asking your Dad to give you a spanking too.  Why?

6.  We all make excuses for it.  Yes, we do!  We all have this tendency to justify our own sin.  ‘I can’t help it’, ‘I was born that way’, ‘It’s harder for me than others’ (the “I’m special” syndrome), and so many more.  Of course we’re ‘born that way’; it’s called a sin nature or the flesh.  All of us have different sins that beset us most.  The devil knows exactly which sins will take us down and seeks to keep us off our game in that/those areas by feeding us with lies.

7.  The only remedy for sin is Jesus.  This is covered above, but I wanted to add it and remind about the previous posts on feeding the flesh.  When 6 happens, and we are giving in to it repeatedly, we are feeding the flesh.  We need to starve the flesh and feed the spirit.  Thank you God for sending the remedy for our sin sickness.  Even though we may attempt to become more like Christ, none of us will accomplish it in this lifetime.

8.  We all minimize our own sins and maximize others.  In other words, we want everyone to believe that we’re special and have reasons we behave as we do.  However, we are not so open when it comes to other’s sins.  We tend to judge them more harshly than we judge ourselves.

 

Is all sin the same?  No

1.  The non-eternal consequences are different. 

►Some sins have more victims and deeper hurts than others.

For example:  Having a beloved spouse cheat on you hurts way worse than having an acquantance gossip about you.  By hurt, I mean heart-hurt, but the hurt can be in other areas as well.

►The depth of the consequences depends on the relationship with the person, our own emotional state, previous life experiences, what we tell ourselves about it, how public the sin is, and how chronic the sin is.

For example:  Murder takes a life.  Does not our own justice system parcel out consequences for sin according to it’s nature and harm?  Breaking a traffic law generally has less consequences to self and others thank murder.

 

HOWEVER

The Bible says that if we hate our brother, we have committed murder; if we lust, we have committed adultery; . . .   Doesn’t that negate all the stuff about sin not being the same?  No it doesn’t;  in many ways, it confirms it.  A sin of thought – i.e. hatred  hurts for sure, but if not taken to the extreme, it doesn’t take the life of the person.  {In many ways it takes the life of the hater, but that’s another post.}  The point of that is that we are all sinners.  Look in John 3 and Matthew 5 for more about this.

One of the points of reminding us that we are all guilty, even if only in our thought life, is to remind us that we are not to judge people’s motives.  We cannot cast the first stone because we are not guiltless.  We are not better than anyone else.

 

Due to time constraints, I am leaving this post at this. (I had to write this on actual paper and with a pen!)

 

I hope you will all read, cogitate and add to this post by giving other ideas for why sin is or isn’t all the same.  You can ask questions or post links to information about this topic.  How would you explain this to an 8th grader?   Do you believe there is any point in which all sin is not alike?   The comment box is yours :))

 

 

 

Communication Busters: He said, she said

4 Comments

If you have a significant other, I’m absolutely sure you’ve experienced this.  He thinks she said and she thinks he said and neither one has a clue.  It reminds me of a Friends episode in which Chandler and Monica were discussing their plans.  Phoebe was writing their conversation down in a book.  Later when they realized that he thought they were to meet at one time and she thought another, Phoebe whipped out the book and said she knew it all the time, reading their former conversation to them.

If only we had a replay button (or a Phoebe)!

As my husband and I grow older, this happens more frequently.  I think it has something to do with his hearing loss.  Of course my daughter is only 24 and she only hears the first thing I say and nothing more (discussed in a previous post).  In other words, I could be wrong about the reason, but it still seems to happen to us — a LOT!

A night out starts at Best Buy

Tonight, Brian and I found ourselves alone and so decided to go out and do something.  Dates with my husband do and always have included shopping.  I’m not that big a fan, but tonight he was shopping for me, so I was down with it.  We went by Sam’s Club to grab a price check on an IPad (my promised Christmas gift from, you know – last month).  Armed with comparison information, my ever bargain-hunting husband and I headed to BestBuy to check out IPads.  That went well; questions were answered;  my husband is now thinking it over to make a decision at some later date (hopefully soon) as to which one is the best deal.  After 29 years, I would expect nothing less and have learned patience.

 

Getting our grub on

We then head to O’Charley’s and have a nice dinner.  We both had fish, he talapia and I fried something white.  It was good and we had a nice time, discussing various things that did not include our grown children or our grandchildren.  A fun time was had by all.  Even the server left happy.

 

Wally World is waiting

The next leg of our trip was to WalMart.  I needed to get some things, and we were in that area.  I am getting to the point; hang in there.  I had left my phone at home (that’s never good), so my husband said, “If we lose one another, lets meet at the front.”  I agree and we go our separate ways with our separate lists.  I pick up my items, cruise the clearance racks (my kind of shopping) and head to the food section for a couple things.  We meet at the vegetables, and he puts his stuff in my cart and asks if I’m done.  I tell him almost and say, (I swear I said this) “I’m almost done so if you want to go on out to the car, I’ll be out in a minute.”  I turn to go find my cinnamon and cereal, and he disappears.

 

 

 

He said, she said

Here it comes:  He was still  on “meet at the front”; I was on “go on out”.  He disappeared and was nowhere to be found, so I checked out and went to the car (well, it’s a van).  Anyway, no Brian!  I go back in (no keys or we’d have been there all night with me sitting in the van and him looking for me) and sit waiting, talking to my favorite WalMart greeter, Joyce.  She even peeks around looking for him.  I finally see him and holler his name.  He gives me “the look”, takes his stuff through the register and we get to the van.

The first words after the van doors close

He starts with, “I told you to meet at the front.  I was waiting and waiting and starting to get upset.”

I come back with:  “I told YOU that I was almost done and would meet you at the van.”

He:  “You did not!”

Me: “Yes I did!”

He:  “Well I didn’t hear you.”

We agreed thereafter not to argue about what I did or did not say.  The point was that he did not hear me, and so misunderstanding ensued.

 

 

 

What’s a gal to do?

So what do you do in a world where these kind of misunderstandings happen?  Do I question him after every statement to make sure he heard and understood exactly what I said?  Hearing and understanding are two entirely different things by the way.  Does he need to question me and make sure I understood everything he says?  Well, that’s one way, but somehow, misunderstandings still happen.

 

 

How about this

“This” is the stuff of sitcoms and comedy.  It happens to all of us.  The problem (well most of the time) is not that these things happen, it’s what we tell ourselves when it happens.  In this particular scenario, I didn’t get overheated, but I’ve had my moments.  But, my husband, exhausted after a day of work and an evening with me (yes, I’m exhausting), was filling his head with all kinds of lovely things about me as he stood waiting for me to show.  By the time we found each other, laughing about it was not a possibility.

What happens then

At this point, he was not very happy with me.  He was even more tired than before and not in the mood to listen to my excuses. {Admit it; you’ve been there.}  What happens is an argument about who said what, who did what, who was wrong, etc.  One or both may wind up feeling insulted or angry that they are impuned.  Does this change what happened?  Nada.  Does this help keep it from happening the next time?  Maybe, but I’m going to say Nada.  Does it help he and she to have warm fuzzy feelings for each other?  Nada.  I’m not saying the issue should not be discussed, especially if it is a chronic problem, but getting hot under the collar and blowing it out of proportion does nothing to facilitate communication between two people.

 

 

 

It is best to:

►Beware of what you’re telling yourself during the misunderstanding.

►Beware what you say to the the other person after the misunderstanding.

►Count to 10 or whatever you do to calm down, then rethink what you want to say.

►Be nice!

►Failing all that, write a blog post about it.  Oh, no, that’s just me.

Has this ever happened to you?  What happened?  How did you resolve it?  Do you lean more toward having a good laugh or strangling your mate in these situations?  What advice would you give to others (like maybe newlyweds) about these inevitable misery misunderstandings mishearings?  How do you make sure you are really heard?  Is that even possible?  Got any great stories you want to share?  The comment box is yours 🙂

It’s all about the heart, Part III

4 Comments

In case you missed them:   All about the heart, Part 1    All about the heart, Part II

Often my “Christian” posts are a part of my study for teaching my 7th, 8th and 9th graders in Sunday School at my Church.  The same is true with Part I of this series, and follows the posts about feeding the flesh and purity.  Today I used this blog loosely as my lesson.  You see last week we learned about Purity – what it is, why it’s good for us, etc..   After class, the students were all in the hall listening to a joke that was questionable.  I’m not sure they even understood why it was questionable or why doing this right after a lesson on purity would bother their SS teacher.

The trial of “Joke Teller”   

Our first activity of the day was to put “Joke Teller”, a former student who can handle being an object lesson, on trial.  We talked about what would make the joke “wrong”.  They immediately understood that it’s off color nature was not good.  It took a while to pull out of them, however, that the joke uses the Lord’s name in vain twice.  (See the 10 Commandments)  Once they understood what that meant, it was easy to lead them to a guilty verdict, not just for “Joke Teller” but for themselves too for listening (and retelling).  The joke may not seem such a big deal to many, but it was an object lesson opportunity this teacher could not pass up!

Line? What line?

Where’s the line?

For our next activity, we divided into three teams.  Each team had yellow electrical tape on the end of a table as close to the end as possible.  The goal was for each team to compete to be the one to get their car closest to on the tape without going over.  The three winners then faced off for an over-all winner.  We then discussed part of the ways we push disobedience (as per Part I) where we try to go as close to ‘the line’ as possible or even push our toe over it.  One point I wanted them to understand was that when we walk on the line all the time, it’s very easy to fall over the line.

If you can’t see me, I’m not guilty

Our next activity involved a game where a student was blindfolded and placed in a chair.  One at a time, other students were given a chance to try to steal a treasure from under the chair without

undercover

getting caught.  The seated person could use hands and feet and movement to try to tag anyone sneaking around them.  If a ‘thief’ was tagged, he or she became the owner of the treasure.  Then we broke down the next items on the list of ways we disobey (per Part I) by sneaking and thinking that “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”.   We used driving as an example (even though none of my students are drivers yet).  I asked them, “What happens when a person is driving along (over the speed limit or not) and they spot a police car?”  Answer:  “Slow down!”  Question 2:  “What does the person do after they get over the hill and away from the police?”  Answer:  “Speed back up!”  {Come on, you know you’re all guilty 😉 }

 

Integrity is what we do when no one is looking

Too many of us fall into the mentality that our ‘hidden’ faults aren’t that bad.  One danger here, aside from believing we can cross the line if no one sees us, is that we often tend to judge others for their failings without considering the extent of our own, especially the ones no one else knows about.

Did it ‘stick’?       

I get it already!

I sure like to think it did this time.  Games are a great way to get across to young people as object lessons.  At the end, as I was winding down and bringing them to the conclusion of the lesson, the students each had two coins in front of them they were not allowed to touch (fake ones).  The idea was for others to try to take the other’s coins without getting caught.  That didn’t happen, but as we talked, a couple students started to do/say something not right, and I saw them thought-check themselves.  For me – that’s a win!

I wanted to share the purpose of some of my recent posts for those who care to know.  You each get to make your own choices and suffer your own consequences.  I hope we’ve all learned something as we’ve walked through this together.

How important is integrity to you?

What are some other ways to show these concepts?

Do you think “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”?

What do you think of this series and is there anything you would like to see here?

Are there other questions or concepts you feel I could explore with my class?

It’s all about the heart, Part II

4 Comments

If you missed the previous post, you can see it here:  It’s all about the heart.

Derek Mansker of http://nothrowaways.wordpress.com/  made a great comment on the previous post and brought up a good point about a concept that confuses even the most knowledgeable of Biblical Scholars.  Here is his comment:

“Well think about it like this: What does it mean to be free? We are not free in the sense we can do whatever we want. We are free to operate within a certain boundary- God’s. This is a great place to be, but there is that pesky me first attitude that gets in the way.”

Two questions that comes to mind:  Free from what? or Free to what?   We will expand on this in further posts.

In Christ, we are free.  Our sins have been paid for.  Does that mean we should continue to sin?  Paul asks this question in Romans 6:1-8 [v1].  How do we explain this in an understandable way?

1.  We who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, are free from the eternal consquences of our sin.  Our sin has been paid in full, and we no longer need to fear eternal separation from God and paying for our own sin.

2.  We are free of the law of sin.  We live in grace, not the law.  Does that mean we toss the law out the window?  Absolutely not!

a) Our physical bodies are still subject to the physical consquences of sin.  God’s law gives us guiderails to keep us safe and help us live the best life possible here on earth.  If we continue in habitual sin, our bodies will pay the consequences and we may not live as long on the earth as we could have.  We will also have a lot of misery in our lives because the consequences of sin, in the physical body, will still visit us.  If we cheat on our spouse, we will face consequences.  If we stuff our faces with junk food:  we will face consquences.  You get the picture.

b) We are dead to sin and are no longer chained to it to do its bidding.  I use the phrase “dead men don’t eat donuts” to remind me that I am dead in Christ and do not need the things I used to crave.  This takes us back full circle to the posts:  “Getting our feed on” and “Starvin Marvin”.  We feed what we treasure.

c) We have lost our desire to sin.  If we have truly understood what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, we will want to follow Him, thank Him, and become just like Him.  We will also want to please Him.  “Sin” or whatever you want to call it goes against our very nature as His children.  We are free, but we make the choice every day to do what is pleasing and right (or not) based on our love of the Savior and whether we have been feeding the spirit or the flesh.

d) We have Scripture – God’s love letter to us – and the Holy Spirit within to show us what we need to do and why.  It goes back to those guardrails we discussed previously.  The Bible lays out the things that will harm us and the things that will bless us.  The Holy Spirit whispers to us to go to the right or the left.  We are not on our own.

Imagine you bought a new flat screen television.  No, you didn’t buy it completely put together, you bought the parts and plan to put it together yourself.  Even with a guidebook, this would be a difficult if not impossible for the average Joe or Jane to do.  But, in this case, your best friend puts televisions together for a living.  He knows exactly what each piece is, where it goes, and why it goes there.  I’m guessing that even the most technologically impaired among us could get the job done with this helper.

So, is this concept understandable as I explained it here? 

How would you explain it? 

Are there other reasons for following ‘the rules’ even if you’re free to choose not to? 

Do you have other questions I (or other readers) might tackle? 

What do you think?

It’s all about the heart

10 Comments

When it comes to the things we want to do or do not want to do, we want what we want.  Anyone who has spent any time at all with a 2 year old knows the truth in this statement – we do not like it when others put boundaries on us.  Hopefully, as we grow, we learn to accept boundaries from authority figures (including God).  This is true when it comes to living pure/holy/moral lives as well.   There are several ways to respond when God/Parents/Authority figures say “No!” (or do/go/stop/etc.).

You can’t make me!     It wasn't me!

I have a grandson, Roland, who has just turned 4.  This child is and was rebelious from the get go.  He simply does not want to do something if others tell him to do it and wants to do it if they tell him not to.  In teaching him to say “I’m sorry” after accidentally hurting someone (which happens quite often), we came to a head-to-head crisis.  At the crisis point, I had him on my lap, holding him there until he said “I’m sorry”.  It was a 45 minute struggle, and I was certainly tempted to let it go.  However, I understood that this was an important thing for him to learn.  Fortunately, I am stronger than he is.  Finally, after 45 minutes, he said, “I’m sorry.”   Game over, Grandma wins.  What Roland didn’t realize is that he won too.  He had learned a lesson about boundaries and doing what’s right.

Where’s the line?

Another incident that sticks in my mind with Roland happened early on.  The molding between the family room and kitchen is the “no cross zone” at our house (at the time).  I remember well the day Roland walked up to the line.  Grandma said, “No!” firmly.  He turned, looked at me full in the eyes, and stuck his toe over the line.  His eyes said, “This is a challenge.  Do you mean what you say or not?”  Grandma took the challenge, and Roland discovered that even a toe over the line is disobedience.

There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forhead; When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid! unknown

The distraction technique

The next disobedience technique comes from my not-quite-two granddaughter.  She learned early, that if she could distract the adult telling her no, she could reach up with the other hand, swipe the item, and run like a bunny rabbit.  She thought she could get away with it if she wasn’t seen.  Of course, this didn’t work very often.  Sometimes it does work because parents can’t always see what their children are doing.  We sometimes think we can pull one over on God too, but He is never distracted.  In fact, He knew  you were going to do it before you did!

Sneaky fingers

Look over there, Gramma!

The next techinique, same granddaughter and similar in style, involves what I call sneaky fingers.  Marilyn is not allowed to touch the keys on my computer.  Of course she wants to do so– really bad.  So her techinque is to stand and watch as if she has no interest in the keys.  Soon a little hand slowly starts moving up toward the keys, slowly creeping upward with a final rush toward a key or two if she makes it close enough.  This is a form of distraction and attempt to hide her intent as well.

What??????

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The next technique I’ve seen in every child I’ve ever had in my care, but right now we’re discussing my two preschool grandchildren as my examples.  My 4 yo grandson was just potty trained.  Yes, it’s true.  He did not want to do it, and he fought every attempt.  His habit was to sneak off in a corner, an attempt to fly under the radar, and poop his pants.  As soon as he finished, he’d go right back to playing until the stench told on him.  Anytime kids are quiet . . . .   Marilyn is really good at this.  If she wants to do something, play with something, taste something, and has been told no, she will get very quiet, fall off the adult radar, and do whatever it was she wanted to do.  This falls into the category of deciet and an attempt to hide the ‘sin’ as well.

Obedience with a but…

The final category involves obedience, but with a heart attitude.  Outwardly, the obedience happens.  Inwardly, not so much.  Marilyn, when told no, stops what she’s doing and gets this hooded, gear-churning look on her face.  She will stand there like that for a minute or more.  She obeys, but Grandma knows she’s doing it out of duress and not because she wants to do it.  This is the category many Christians fall into:  I will obey you God, but in my heart, I’m really doing what I want.  This is the most insidious of the categories as well, because the attitude of disobedience is still there.

How's your heart?It’s all about the heart

Our determination to follow the rules, whether society’s, parents, or God’s, often begins and ends in the heart.  We see a police car and obey the speed limit while in view.  The minute we’re past, how many step on the gas and go right back to disobedience?  Do we think it’s OK to do something if no one is looking?  Do we step our toe over the line to see if we will get away with it?

Actions (or inactions) have consequences

Every thing we do or don’t do, every choice we make, every time we do something we know is not good for us or we’ve been told not to do, has a consquence.  The consequences can be mild or major, they may happen now or later, but they will happen.  Some of us decide experiencing the consquences is worth the momentary pleasures of the disobedience.  Some of us obey — with a but.  Some things have consequences for others.   We think we’re not hurting anyone else by our choices, but that’s not true.  Nothing we choose to do (or not do) happens in a vacuum.  Your choices effect (and affect) others.

So, what’s the point?  Ah, let’s go there.  There is a reason parents give rules.  There is a reason society gives rules.  There is a reason God gives rules.  Are they for our hurt?  Absolutely not! {Disclaimer:  I am aware some human beings may do things for our hurt – we’re talking about the rest of them.}  Do children understand all the rules their parents give them?  If only!  We may not always understand why we need to do or not do something.  Our obedience is not dependent on our understanding.  A right heart obeys because it is the right thing to do.  Understanding comes later.

Do you have a story about one of these techniques or others I have not included?

Have you ever used one of the above techniques or others to try to get your way?

Do you justify breaking rules or laws because you don’t agree with it or because it won’t hurt anyone?

What is your heart attitude?  Are you chronically disobedient?  Do you obey with a but…? 

Feel free to add your stories, questions or comments to this post.  You may be included in a future post 🙂

The following is for fun.  Having the granddaughter here…..

Stand Up – Veggie Tales

What is purity?

8 Comments

How many bugs parts. . . until it's impure?

How many bug parts, aphids, thrips, rat hairs, feces, eggs, magots, etc., are acceptable in your food?  According to the FDA, you can have a minimum of these and more in your food before they declare it unclean.  You have probably eaten the equivalent of several bugs (and more) already this year.  Examples (via FDA website):  Pizza and other tomato sauces can have up to 34% mold count; Spinach can have up to 50 aphids, thrips or mites per  100 grams; Peanut butter must have less than 30 insect parts for every 100 grams.  Ok, now that you are sick to your stomach ready to barf aware of what the FDA considers ‘pure’, what do you think?

Purity, as defined by Dictionary.com includes:

(1) the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.

(2) freedom from any admixture or modifying addition.

(3) ceremonial or ritual cleanness.

(4) freedom from guilt or evil; innocence.

(5) physical chastity; virginity.

Not gonna happen

We would like (without success) for our food to be absolutely pure.  Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to keep contaminants from our food — if not along the process, then in your own home.  I won’t give you details in the interest of keeping you here instead of running to the bathroom causing you to never eat again.  But what about us?  God wants us to be pure.  What does that mean?  Is it even possible?

The basics

Just like our food, we allow contaminants in our lives that mar our purity.  Pornograpy is a huge contaminant.  Television, movies, games, etc. can contain images and words that contaminate.  According  to one article, Neilson claims the average child has seen 8,000 murders on TV by the time elementary school is completed. By age 18, that number jumps to 200,000.  The article also brings up the matter of commercialism.  Commercials are made to draw the child.  He sees. He wants. He demands. Often, he gets.  The child is constantly bombarded with images of items she does not have, teaching her that she is wanting in some way if she does not have these things — leading to coveting, envy, jealousy, discontent and more. These are only a few of the examples of “garbage” we willingly allow to go into the minds of our children.  Adult minds are not immune from the effects either.

Bombarded with impurities

Just as it is difficult to have a pure food item, it is difficult to remain pure in a world where we are constantly bombarded with impurities.   So how do we stay pure in an impure world?  Just like our food, it is impossible to be 100% pure in most ways, but if we don’t strive for purity, we will land far from it.  Whether of body or spirit, purity is a worthy goal to pursue.

How do we pursue purity?

1.  Guard our minds from impurities.  One way to do this is to turn off the television, choose not to see that movie, choose not to listen to that off-color joke, choose well the people we hang with, and stay away from certain web sites, among other things.  I could also mention putting on the armor of God here.

2. Fill our minds with the pure things.

  • Scripture:  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”  2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)  Meditating, reading, studying of scripture, thinking about good things
  • Thinking on good things:  “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Our lives will reflect what we fill them with.  Choosing purity must be intentional.  It will not happen if you just kind of hope it does.  It is a choice.  And along with the choice, must come the feeding of purity and the starving of impurity (See previous posts:  “Getting our feed on” and “Starvin Marvin”).  This is true whether you are in a relationship with God or not.  What you feed in your life will show:  you are what you feed on! {You reap what you sow, Garbage In = Garbage Out, . . .}

What are some ways you choose purity?

What are some ways you drift along, allowing impurities in?

What are some ways to make purity intentional?

What does purity mean to you?

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: