Home

I am, I am not!

4 Comments

I AM a sinner.  Iam a saved, forgiven sinner, But a sinner none-the-less.

 

 

I AM NOT:

A savior.

Perfect.

Sufficient on my own.

A judge of people’s hearts.

Good.

Strong.

. . .

 

Sometimes, when I talk about trying to live better, I give the wrong impression.  I cannot make myself better.  If I could, I would not need a Savior.

 

Does this mean I should give up?  Heaven forbid!

 

What should I do then?

I should accept myself as I am, while letting God make me better.

I should make sure any attempt to do anything is powered by the holy Spirit (lest I swell with pride).

IOW -I should stop trying to make myself better and just get closer to Jesus, so He can make me more like Him.

I should stop ‘trying’ to be holy and be holy.  Jesus took my sin and gave me His righteousness.  I am holy because He is holy, not due to any of my pitiful efforts.

I should let Jesus meet others where they are, just like He did me.

I should love as He loves. . .

I should see as He sees. . .

I should cling to Him so closely He can’t turn around without running into me. . .

 

Guess what?

 

Its not about me. It’s not about you.  It’s about Jesus!

 

God forgive me for getting caught up in phariseeism, pride and selfrighteousness.

 

The solution to everything = time spent with Christ!

Forgive me, dear readers, if I ever imply anything else!

 

 

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?

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 :))

 

 

 

Starvin’ Marvin’

Leave a comment

Have you ever wondered why we fall into the same old patterns of behavior – even tough we don’t want to and are determined not to?  The previous post gives us part of the answer – feeding the “flesh” makes it grow in its ability to control you.   The other part of the answer is to not just stop feeding, we also have to take an active role in starving it.

Garbage In

One of the first ways we starve our flesh is by stopping the inflow of garbage that comes in through our eyes and ears.  That movie that tempts you to look at porn or fantasize about someone other than the spouse, that song that spews foul words,  that game that causes us to spend too much time away from our loved ones or yelling at them to get out of the way or be quiet, that computer site that also eats our time and adds its own temptations.

What makes it garbage?

All of the above and more are not inherently bad things.  There are good movies, songs, video games, books, magazines, plays, television shows, etc., that are not garbage, but cause us to neglect more important things.  Maybe one thing is not your area of temptation and has no effect on you, but stymies your brother.  The important thing is too look objectively at the things we allow into our lives from the aspect of it’s content and what it does or does not cause us to do or not do.  Some things are automatically on this list from a biblical perspective, but others depend on how you use them.

Good better best.

An old saying my Mother used to use says,  “Good, better, best, put it to the test, till your good is better and your better is best.”  Some things are not wrong in and of themselves, but often we spend too much time on the good and miss out on the best.  If your time would be better spent on something else, this item needs to go on your garbage list.

Garbage out, now what?

It’s not enough just to take out the bad or stop putting garbage in. We must also start putting in the good if we want to conquer the flesh.  There’s a saying that talks about nature abhoring a vacuum.  That works here too.  If you leave an empty space, your enemy will soon find a way to fill it.  So along with taking out the garbage and cleaning house, we must bring good things into our ‘house’ to replace those bad things we threw out.

It works for all

“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

If you are one of my non-Christian readers, this concept will help you as well, although the power of the Holy Spirit in the committed Christian goes a long way toward fighting fleshly desires.  The point is that replacing that garbage with beautiful furnishings of things that are just, pure, true, honest, good, and worthy of praise, helps keep that old garbage from creeping back in over time.

Discovering the counterfeit

Bank/treasury works learn to spot counterfeit money by handling real money so much that they instantly recognize a counterfeit when it passes through their hands.  Deciding what is “garbage” and what is lovely works in the same way.  We have to become so familiar with the good, with the things of God, that we instantly know when we are being fed garbage.  The enemy is very good at making the counterfeit so much like the real that many people have no idea they are eating the garbage.  But the more time you spend doing/hearing/seeing the good things, the God things, the more likely you will be able to make that distinction as you seek to starve out that fleshly nature.

You knew this was coming

Some of the things we can do, besides following the above verse, are listed below.

Using all the items at hand to keep from feeding the flesh and start starving it will help you in your walk with Christ or your search to eliminate those bad habits or sins that so easly beset us.   It may will take a lifetime, but it is worth the pursuit of purity.  Expect that the flesh will not go down easily, however, and watch out for his tactics.

Can you think of other ‘weapons’ you can use to starve the flesh?

Do you have a story of how you have (God has) defeated the flesh?

Does anything work better for you than another?

Do your intentions get in the way of your follow through?

The Family and Communicating – To Be or Not To Be?

3 Comments

Family is a funny thing, especially when it comes to ‘communication’ issues.  Wouldn’t you think people who live with one another would have some kind of sixth sense about communication?  It never fails to make me shake my head in wonder when I have a seemingly straightforward with one of my own only to find out actual communication never happened.                                                                                                                                        

Selective hearing? 

Image by clarita at http://mrg.bz/gyKDsp

My daughter, who I love dearly by the way, tends to hear one set of instructions.  So if I want her to do something (will I ever learn!?) I need to break it down into bite-sized chunks and/or write it down.  Sometimes, even writing it down is not enough. ::sigh::

I recently sent my daughter to the store for ice cream and chips.  I wrote down the instructions and then carefully went over them.  I wanted a small bag of chips; that she got.  The ice cream is what got her, though. I said I do not want the teeny tiny portion (5 oz) and I do not want a half-gallon.  Using my fingers, I showed her about what size I wanted to have.  All went well up to this point.  Head is nodding; message understood.

Then momma made a mistake.  I said, “I want you to keep it as cheap as possible as well.”  Did that negate the size factor?  Yes, it did.  She came in after her trip to the store and handed me one of the teeny tiny portions of ice cream. (Not enough for a good bite!)  After brief, um, ‘discussion’, it turned out that she heard cheap, blah, blah, blah.

If that wasn’t enough for one of those ‘shaking the head’ moments, she proceeds to pull out a container of ice cream she bought for herself – the size I wanted!  Unfortunately, it was a different kind, but still!  Why would I send her to the store with my money to buy me a cheap portion of something and herself a larger one?  Sadly, this is the story of my life.  She hones in on one thing and the rest is just Mom idly flapping her gums.

Mind-reading – on the defensive?  

Then the other day, after watching her hunched over her cell phone when she was supposed to be keeping an eye on the kids, I asked, “Who is he?”  You would have thought I asked to see her internal organs or something judging by her reaction.  “I always have to defend myself” and “I’ll just never have any friends” are two of the phrases that came out of her mouth.  Defensive much?  Will she ever learn that the instant attitude gives ol’ Mom a huge clue?

So in the space of a portion of a second, she read my mind.  I said, “Who is he?” but my mind must have said something like, “What in the world are you talking to that boy for – you’re never going to learn.”

Common to Mankind?

I apologize to my daughter (24 btw) for using her for an example here, but she provides such great fodder.  We all have a tendency to do this, especially in families.  We have remembered ‘slights’ or other things that filter our reactions (and our ability to actually listen) to others in our family.  No wonder families sometimes have drama and communication issues.

So what experiences have you had with family member communication?  We all have them.  We’ve all done it.  I bet a few of my readers can top my stories, so feel free to share.

Communication Buster: My Way is the Best (Only) Way

2 Comments

Backseat drivers, Monday morning quarterbacks and critical people all slip into the niggling habit of criticizing others. It’s easy to do. We look at our others and wonder why they do what they do. After all, we’d never do it that way. . .       Dr. David B. Hawkins

Anyone who has been married knows that one of the biggest clashes of the early years involves the melding of two cultures.  We have a tendency to think that what we think or do is the correct way to do something.  When we wake up to someone who has a different view of what’s correct (his or her way) it can be a rude awakening!

My marriage has not excaped this wondrous communication buster.  My husband’s grandmother was very rigid in her ways, one of those ‘my way or the highway’ kind of gals.  When I began to understand this, it helped me understand some of my husband’s less than stellar (in my opinion) habits.  When my husband began to understand that I was raised in a very non-structured home that centered on people not things, he began to understand some of my less stellar habits (his opinion of course).

What’s Wrong With You?

In the beginning, we fell into the judgment trap.  “What’s wrong with you?”  Why don’t you get this?”  “Why are you being so mean to me?”  The interpretation of that last statement is this:  why do you expect me to conform to your expectations?  Unfortunately, we don’t recognize the underlying causes of our pain.

One of absolutely huge issues was . . . laundry.  I am a take a day and do it all kind of gal.  My husband is always putting a load in.  I’m sometimes surprised we survived this one! What happened in the end was that Brian got to do the laundry.  This is one of the negative side-effects of being rigid in how you think things should be done – you get to do it.

Believe me, there are things I get to do for the same reasons!

It’s Not About Me!

To overcome this tendency to judge everyone else’s choices and more by our own  heritage and culture, we have to go back to communication buster 1 and recognize that “it’s not about me.”  Ultimately, there are many ways to do something. Some may work better than others, but all (or most) are still going to get the job done.

Breaking the Habit

This habit is so ingrained that it is difficult to recognize it, much less fix it.  Again self-awareness comes to the rescue.  When communication issues arise, and they will, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I judging based on the truth or based on my own biases and filter?
  • If I let the other person do things his/her way, will it get done?
  • If I DON’T let the other person do things his/her way, will the world come to an end?
  • Is this an issue that’s worth fighting over?
  • Do I want to be right, or happy?
  • Am I viewing this issue through the filter of my own upbringing or through divine moral law?
  • Have I become judgmental and critical?

S-S-S-S

When you begin to see a problem, you can begin to change.  It again involves

Self-awareness  (study your reactions and judgments)

STOP!                 (take a moment to re-evaluate and change course)

Start again with your new-found knowledge/understanding.

Stay the course over the long haul.

This habit is deeply ingrained, and won’t be overcome in a day.  But, one step at a time, you can change this thought process that leads to actions that shut down your ability to effectively communicate with others.

Share Time:

Have you done this?

Are you aware of this tendency?

What’s the funniest story you have to share about a time when this happened to you?  (or by you)

Communication – do ya know what I mean?

4 Comments

Do ya know what I mean?

Obviously, at least to me, the title is a play on the saying “do you know what I mean?”  Communication is key to everything we do in life, whether we communicate with God, our spouse, our kids, or even the person we hire to do work for us.  When communication breaks down, everything breaks down.

I hope whatever makes its way to this blog will be well communicated.  If it is not, feedback and conversation can help make it clear.  This blog is what I mean, not anyone else, so feel free to disagree, but do so respectfully and cleanly or you will be eliminated, I mean your comments will be deleted.

The art of debate?

I have a confession to make:  I love to ‘set the cat among the pigeons’ or play ‘devil’s advocate’ in order to get a debate going.  I have found often that people don’t seem to know what I mean by ‘debate’.  A debate is a civil disagreement, if you will.  Each side expresses its own opinions and then defends itself to put it in a nutshell.  When a debate descends into argument and name calling, it has lost focus and there is no point in continuing.  Debate is “iron sharpening iron.” It is a way to learn about what others think and to defend what you believe – to  yourself and others.

Just ‘cuz?

If you believe what you believe ‘just because’, you do not really believe it.  Debate sharpens the mind and helps one learn how to know what he or she believes as well as defend that belief in a real way, using real communication.  One thing that associating with others who have different views does for one (in a perfect world) is help you figure out why you believe what you believe.  If you know why you believe it, you will be able to defend it.  This is crucial for all as we reach into adulthood, having often taken on the beliefs of our parents, and live in a world where others do not believe.  It’s alright to believe as one’s parents do, but it needs, at some point, to become real to you.  In other words:  you must believe it because you believe it and not because others do.  This involves self-searching awareness, and is often like pulling the hook when fishing.

Rabid disbelievers?

I can often tell when a person has genuine, thought out beliefs, not by what they believe, but by how they react with others who disagree.  When a person becomes like a rabid dog defending a bone, it tells me something about their belief system.  They are not strong enough in their belief system to stand in the face of those who would disagree or challenge them in any way.  When you know what you believe, why you believe it and how to defend it, you don’t need to descend into the depths of rage.

It’s all in the filter?

Remember everyone has their own family culture and their own experiences in life, even you, and these things filter how we perceive what others say.  This is one of the biggest detriments to real communication, because we’re not always aware of our filters or how to see through the eyes of the other person’s filter.  As an example:  I once called my husband a ‘slob’.  YIKES!  You would have thought I called him the worst thing in the world.  Why?  Because, to him, with his upbringing and his understanding of the word and his filters, it was a horrible word.  To me it was just a word that came up in an effort to hurt.  It wasn’t true, it was a weapon.  I just had no idea how powerful a weapon it was!  Now-a-days, I am more careful with my words because they may not mean the same thing to the person I’m talking about.  This is also how countries get in trouble because we have different traditions, cultures, meanings, and easily insult one another without meaning to.  It works the same way for people, so we have to be open to the idea that our words aren’t always saying what we mean or meaning what we say.

%d bloggers like this: