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Ten Ways to love: Complete trust

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Number 8 on our countdown is:   Trust without wavering.

{Love} 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”     Corinthians 13:7

 

THE HORIZONTAL:

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have absolute, unwavering trust placed in us or placed in another?  Actually, we have that when we’re born.  We have no lack of trust.  We completely, totally, and abidingly trust our parents (and anyone else).  We don’t pop out wondering if our parents will take care of us.  We have to learn not to trust.  How sad is it that it doesn’t take long to learn?  Humans let us down, some on purpose and some just by being humans.  Add in the sin nature and the fact that our brains and perceptions have a few years to grow, and it’s inevitable that we learn to mistrust.

We get hurt; we expect others to hurt us too.  Sadly, we then contribute to mistrust in others.  Someone I know has been hurt by an ex-girlfriend (no, not my husband) and frequently brings it up in his new relationship.  He sabotages the current relationship because of the hurts of the past.  It turns into a vicious cycle.  I know I gave my husband a lot of grief in the early years because I had a trust problem.  My trust issues had nothing whatsoever to do with him, but he paid the price, as did I.

"Forgiveness 3" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness 3” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lack of trust does not show love at all, because real love trusts.  Real love doesn’t hold others responsible for the breach of trust given by others.  Real love FORGIVES.  Forgiveness is not for the person forgiven, it is for the forgiver.  In fact, the only way to keep from becoming a person who can’t trust is to forgive those who hurt us.  It frees us to trust again.  People usually don’t mean to breach your trust, just as you don’t mean to do it to others.  When someone repeatedly breaches your trust, forgiveness does not say “it’s ok.”  Forgiveness doesn’t mean staying with someone who abuses you or continuing to trust someone who can’t be trusted.  What forgiveness says is this:  “I do not have to let you tarnish every other relationship I have.  I can free myself to love and trust.  You will not change who I am!”

Do you allow your hurt to keep you from trusting?

 

THE VERTICAL:

And what about God?  I used the word abidingly above on purpose.  If you look up unwavering in a thesaurus, you will find the word abiding there.

John 15 talks about us abiding in Him.  He is the vine, and to abide in Him, we must remain connected to that vine.  We can’t connect and disconnect, trust and then not trust.  We must remain connected, sucking up the nutrients only the vine can give.  When we abide in Him, we grow.  When we don’t, we wither and die.

This post is well-timed.  I see so many who struggle with trust, and a couple in particular right now.  After all, we all have people in our lives that let us down.  Those who have endured abuse have even more reason not to trust.  God is not human.  How often do we project human failings on Him, though?

We project the sins of the dad on the Father.  We blame Him for evil we bring upon ourselves.  We pout and blame when we don’t get our way.  We allow our trust to waver.

We also look at our own untrustworthy nature.   BUT:  God is, was, and always will be faithfuleven when we are unfaithful.  II Timothy 2:13

"Forgiveness" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

says, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Thank you God that you are faithful, even when I am unfaithful.  When I struggle with trust, You hang in there with me and teach me to trust again.  I want to faithfully abide in You, and yet I am human.  Father, I choose trust.  I choose to love like I’ve never been hurt.  I choose to cling to you as the Vine, the Nurturer, the very Life Blood.  Bless your holy Name!

Do you abide in Him?  Do you have trust issues that need resolved?  Can you love like you’ve never been hurt?  Do you have anything to add?

 

Where was God when….?

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Along with the survivor stories we all have, are those from people who do not feel like survivors or have lost loved ones.  I know one person who lost a loved one in the Indiana tornados and several who have loved ones that survived it.  One tornado was <10 miles from the trailer where my son, daughter-in-law, and all my grandchildren live (next to my sister).  I know how quickly life can turn.

Last time we talked about survivor stories, but today I’d like to talk about the other side.

What if it were my family planning a funeral or figuring out what to do with nothing to our names right now?  Would God still be good?  To that I give a resounding: YES!  Believe it or not, I’ve had some pretty awful things happen to me and/or those I love.  Life is like that:  it comes with the good and the bad.  People have a tendency to give credit to God in the survival stories, but often blame Him when the bad things take away life or possessions.

Where was God…

…when fifteen-month-old Angel Babcock was pulled from a mobile home to land in a field some distance away?  Where was God when her mother, father, and two siblings were killed by the same tornado?  Where was God when little Angel let go of life yesterday?  Why this family and not another?

I am not God, so I can’t answer all the questions.  I do know God, however, so I can say this:  God was there.  He was with them as they crouched in fear, hearing the sounds of destruction coming for them.  He was there as those lives were taken and that baby was laid in a field.  He was there with Angel as she drew her last breath and went to join her family.

God has a plan

God loves each and every one of us.  He loves us in a way we may never understand, for His love is beyond understanding.  We never go through anything that God does not know about.  For some of us, that is comforting.  For others, those who do not know God’s love or cannot see it in their moment of darkness, may see it as a reason to blame God for what they see as a curse.

The truth is that we cannot determine if something is a blessing or curse at the time of its happening.  In every one of the tragic events of my life, God has woven His love throughout the experience.  Sometimes I couldn’t feel it at the time, but always, in looking back (or in looking up in the midst) I see Jesus.  He was there, and God’s fingerprints were everywhere.

Where was God when…

One of the darkest moments of my life was when my Mother passed away.  One of the most beautiful times of my life was when my Mother passed away.  What?  How can it be both?

Given 6 months to live after a cancer diagnosis, my mother managed to live 11 months.   Not only did she live that long, she went to WalMart only a few days before her death.  Having seen several cancer deaths, this was an unexpected blessing.  I stayed with them during this time, going home on some weekends to see my husband and daughter, to help take care of her.  We had a great time, one that can never be taken from me, during this.  We were out and about almost every day.  Many times you could find us shopping at WalMart and being silly.  We liked to make up languages to speak just to make heads turn.  There were hard times here, but the time spent together, the time to go over old pictures and hear old stories, the time to prepare — all of these were priceless.

I had gone home when I got the call that Mom was in the hospital.  The plan was hospice, but a football-sized, matastasized tumor in her stomach broke in two and the pain was unmanageable at home.  I was so grateful to have missed this moment with her.  She was in the hospital only a few days.  Watching her die, watching the pain and confusion in her eyes, watching my dad sobbing over her and telling her he’d marry her all over again, all of that was a deep, deep pain.  But through it all, God was there.  All the family was able to gather in her hospital room.  We sang hyms; we prayed; we cried; we hugged; we watched a beautiful woman slip away to glory.  She would not go until my second son was able to make it, so we were gathered around her bed, holding hands, as she escaped the bonds of her body and went to meet her Jesus.  It was awful!  It was beautiful!  It was priceless!

You see circumstances are simply that:  circumstances.  They do not determine much, but how we respond to them, how we look at them makes all the difference.  If I had not been looking for the God, if I had been focusing on the pain, I would have missed a beautiful thing.

God gives us free will and that brings a lot of pain when we choose sin.  But, even in all our willful mess, He came to give us a way to Him – because He LOVES us!  Love isn’t about feelings.  Feelings come and go.  God never goes.  He is always there, even in the middle of the biggest storm.  Look up into the eyes of Jesus. Raise your hand and ask Him to pull you up and walk with you back to the boat.

Do you see God’s hand in the hard times?

How do you feel about this post?  Some of you may feel differently.

Go back to your survival story and look for God’s fingerprints.   Share them here if you wish.

Can you “Praise Him in the Storm”?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHdcyue0bSw

I am, I am not!

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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!

 

 

CBs: A does not equal B

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I hope you all won’t mind me taking a moment to address my new pet peeve.  I’ll keep it short and sweet.  Dealing with all the paperwork involved in applying for Medicaid for my dad has been a frustrating experience at best.  Any who have faced this Goliath or any beaurocracy know what I mean.

1).  Policy should be the same and knownby all.  Not my first time to waste a few in the paper chase, toda I showed up at the VA to attain a copy of my dad’s POA for health care.  I had called ahead to fin out if I could do so and what I needed.  I was informed it would be no problem.  Arriving at the VA, I discover that since my name is secondary and not primary, they will not give me a copy.  If you wish to avoid frustrating people, especially at a business or church, make sure you don’t have one person saying one thing while others say something else.

I have determined I will take down the full name of the person on the phone and ask them to explain the discrepancyyo the person who will not do what the other promised. Will it work?  I doubt it, but I will feel better.

 

I often feel like I’m putting together a puzzle without the picture on the box.  To complicate things, others are holding pieces of the puzzle.  If I ask for them, I will often get one and find out later there were more behind their back.  My dad’s memory problems + beaurocracy +lack of knowledge +  an argumentative family member = a crazy lady???

 

Fortunately, I know God has got this and is allowing it all for a reason.  I don’t have to be afraid of the paperwork giant, for I am not alone.  I am also not in charge.  And guess what I was reminded of today?

 

I am not a Savior!  I will do my best, but the outcome is not in my hands — whew!  I am also prepared to remind others that I am not a savior as well.  Eyes off me please.

 

Do you ever get frustrated by things that just don’t seem to go the way you think they should? (I’m sure that’s a big duh!)

 

Do you ever have a savior complex and take on responsibility for thins that are not yours?

 

Any nuggets of advice for going against this particular giant?

 

I do not go to battle alone 🙂   The battle belongs to the Lord…

The Maze

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Scream pierces

the darkness

As rat hits

One more wall.

He sits dazed

A moment

Then once more

Shakes it off

Beginning

A new race.

In the dark,

A thick fog,

Darkness clings,

Dripping down,

Covers all.

So which way

To turn now.

Will that wall

Await again

Or will he

Find the prize.

The way out

He can’t see

The way here

The turns are

blind as the

straight-a-ways

to the rat.

But the man

Is watching

From above,

And He knows

The ending

His purpose

Not thwarted

By the rat’s

Blinded eyes.

His own to

Understand

The purpose

Of the maze;

Mine is but

Trust and learn

His great plan.

Communication busters: What lens are you looking through?

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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?

A post in reaction to Miro’s poem: Christians

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Christians  by Miro

Today I read this poem by Miro about “Christians”.   It made me cry because it’s way too true.  I am sure there have been times that I have inadvertently harmed the cause of Christ.  I would never do it on purpose, though.  I hate that “Christians” often give Christians a black eye in the eyes of the world.

I am not talking about legitimate righteous anger.

I am not talking about calling sin sin.

I am talking about Christians who talk the talk in church, and then forget about God through the rest of the week.

Some of these people are well meaning Christians who have no idea they are giving a bad empression.  Others are goats among the sheep.  They have no real relationship with the Father, only giving lip service to something they don’t really own.  I have recently learned that just because I know the truth, does not mean it is the correct time or place to trot it out there, for it, and Christ will be rejected.  If someone asks, I will speak the truth, but I have learned (I hope) to pick my battles a little more wisely.

 

The Bi-polar Posters/Speakers

One issue involves facebook, other social sites, and words.  OMG means Oh, My God!  Taking the name of the Lord in vain is not OK for Christians, even if it is in an acronym,  and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those who see it and hear it.  Then there are those that praise God with their mouth on Sunday and then tell or snicker at dirty jokes through the week.  Still others will post these wonderful, godly things and then post something that is inappropriate or off color.  We post our praises and then confess our adiction to shows that dishonor God.  God calls this “double-minded”, but the world calls it two-faced.

Rage-a-holics

These people are ready at the drop of a hat to start spewing rage and hatred at others, rather than see them as God sees them.  They rail against sinners for being sinners rather than loving them to Christ.  I’m not saying there’s not a time and place for anger, there is.  I am saying that we need to make sure this is anger God approves.  One verse I try to keep in mind as I negotiate these waters is this:

“The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”  James 1:20

 

I’m better than you priders

This is a hard line to walk if we want to come across as humble rather than prideful.  We are not better than anyone else; we’re just forgiven.  This happens between “Christians” as well as between Christians and the world.   Slipping into hypocrit pharisee mode is too easy, and Christians must guard their heart against allowing this to happen.  When Christ is in our hearts and we pursue a deepening relationship with Him, we let go of pride as we realize just how wretched we really are in comparison to him.  Pride comes when we compare ourselves to others; humility comes when we compare to Christ.

The state of the world

The state of our world is not the fault of sinners doing what sinners do.  It is the Christian who has responsibility for, “if my people, which are called by my name, shal humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

This post is really a step outside of the norm, but I don’t do it to condemn.  I have been guilty just like everyone else.  We are sinners who will continue to struggle with our sin nature for as long as we are on this earth, but we can do better.  This is a call to repentence for all of us.  It’s ok if you disagree with me, but I hope those of us who claim the name “Christian” you will seek to remove those quotes by living a life that points others to Christ.  When we earnestly seek His face, we will become the salt and light that makes the world want to know what’s going on.

For those of you who have kindly taken the time to read this post even though you don’t claim the name Christian, just be patient with us.  It’s easy to discern the real from the fake if you watch close enough.  Christianity, truly lived, draws others to want what this person has that makes him or her so different.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Mark 14: 38 ESV

::stepping off my soapbox::                               I love you all!

The Center of it All

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A recent study on keeping Christ in the center of our lives got my brain working.  I actually taught this lesson to my Sunday School class, and I’m not sure I got through to them I’m not sure they heard what I wanted them too.  This is not a carbon copy of the lesson (except for 1 and 2) but it is what I want them to understand.

 

Object Lessons:

1.  Draw the circle.  Draw the best circle you can (with only paper and pencil).  Compare circles and vote for the best.  Show how to make a circle with an actual or home-made compass (string and a pencil).  Talk about how having the center point of the compass helps us make the perfect circle.

2.  Walk the dog.  This one is done in the mental realm, but one could have an actual dog and leash.  When the owner of the dog has him attached to a leash, the owner controls how far the dog can go.  The dog may think he’s an 0n-his-own-big-boy, but he can only go as far as the master allows.

3.  Tootsie Pops.  Talk about what they expect to have in the center of their tootsie pop, and what would happen if they got to the center and found a snail or something else instead of that tootsie roll.  Disappointment was given as a mild reaction and absolutely disgusted as the strongest reaction.

 

And….?

1.  Keeping Christ at our center helps us to have a “perfect,” balanced life.  There are no places where we have bumps going outside the circle or places where we don’t go far enough.  Everything in our life is tethered to Him.

2.  Tethering leads to walking the dog.  When Christ is at the center of our lives, it is like He has control over how far we can go.  I have often prayed that God would take ahold of my hand and never let go.  Then, even if I start to pull away because I see some shiny object that looks interesting, I can only go as far as His arm allows me to go.

3.  Tootsie pops should have a tootsie roll in the center.  Right?  Can you imagine biting into one and finding something gross in the center instead of that tootsie roll?  Can you imagine even biting in and finding gum instead of the tootsie roll.  It’s still edible, but it’s not what you were expecting.  It is disappointing at the very least.  Then imagine biting in and finding nothing, just a big hole where the tootsie should be.

 

 

More on 3

My father had all but given up on finding the way to Christ by the time he entered the army.  He had been baptized; he had been asked to ‘pray through’, but no one had actually told him how to accept Christ as his Savior.  Along with that, Dad had found the Christians in his life to have something else in the center besides Christ.  They were like the tootsie pop, offering something on the outside that looked good, but having a disappointing center or no center at all.   After he left for the army, his mother, my grandmother, accepted Christ.  They moved to Sandusky, Ohio and started going to church.  My mother also attended church there.  My grandmother decided Phil (dad) just had to meet this woman.  She kept asking my mother to write him.   My mother kept refusing.  She was a Christian and didn’t date non-Christian boys.

Finally Grandma brought a stamped, addressed envelope and paper and asked her to just write him one time.  If he did not respond, she was no longer obligated.  The letter basically said, “I’m a Christian.  I don’t _______, ________, or _________.  If you’re ok with that, I will write you.  If not, this is your last letter.  She also enclosed a picture (which didn’t hurt).

When my father opened and read that letter, his first thought was, “This sounds like a real Christian.”  He put her picture in his locker and wrote her back.  His letters were often searching, asking, seeking to know the Christ that my mother knew so well, the one who lived in the center of her life.

They wrote for a year and a half.  The Sunday he came home, he went forward in church and asked to join.  The pastor asked, “Have you joined Jesus yet?”   Dad told him no and someone finally showed him how he could join Jesus.  Obviously, my parents were eventually married and one year later, I was born.  My father surrendered to the ministry during this time and they struck out to live a life with Christ at the center.  Were they perfect at it?  Not! But they always sought to keep Him at the center of their lives.  I believe they have touched many people over the years because of this.

 

 

 

Our intimacy with God — His highest priority for our lives — determines the impact of our lives.”

Dr. Charles Stanley — Life principle 1

It’s all about the intimacy

Keeping Christ at the center is all about our intimacy with Him.  How do we develop intimacy with Christ?  We do it the very same way we develop intimacy with anyone.  We:

Spend time with Him (quality and quantity).

Read His love letter (the Bible).

Talk to Him (Prayer).

Learn as much as we can about Him (Experience, sharing with others, Bible study,…).

Talk to others about what He’s doing in our lives (witnessing, fellowshiping,…).

Trust Him (just as the dog trusts the master or the child trusts the parent).

Run life through His filter (what does He say/think about it vs. what the world thinks).

.  .  .

Have you ever met a Christian who could talk the talk, but was really empty inside?  (Not really a Christian)

Have you ever met a Christian who got it partly right, but Christ was off center in their life?  (Some things right, but still under strongholds of sin)

How did it make you feel?   What impression did it make on you – about the person?  – about Christ? – about Christians? – about Christianity?

Now go back to the first two questions and change out met with been.   Have you? 

We may be the only Christ others see, and keeping Him at the center of our lives brings balance to our life and glory to Him.

What’s in your center?

Name the bars

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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?

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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 :))

 

 

 

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