there’s still something in me that believes that i can “overcome” sin and “do it right.” I catch a glimpse of myself doing the right thing and think, “I can keep doing this…” Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s possible to change, but I’m believing more and more that it’s only through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think we have tend to land on a moralistic “don’t do this” place and feel good for the season that we can keep it up.
i caught a profound glimpse of truth the other day when i had not eaten the entire day. i thought to myself when i started to eat dinner that i need self control to not gorge even though my body had been starved all day. what happened? i totally gorged. i ate and ate and ate and ate… i ate like there was going to be no food tomorrow. this taught me that the idea of will powered change can only last for a short time.
to believe in the gospel of Jesus is to acknowledge and receive a change of heart. i have to understand the deeper issues that drive me to my outer behavior. our behavior is but a reflection of the inner dysfunction of our soul. to change it leaves the heart in it’s dysfunction. to go to the heart is to address the core issues.
ok, so the title of this entry might strike a defensive or even hostile chord in your heart, but it’s an important truth that we “all” need to understand. at times in Scripture, God’s chosen people are referred to as “adulterous people” or an “adulterous generation” or as “adulterer’s.” though the language may seem incredibly harsh and may make us want to cringe, we are adulterers and need to understand why it’s such an important truth for us as Christians and as human beings.
many of us will look at our Spiritual lives and think that we’re doing well or not doing so well and we’ll typically gage this based on a list of actions and morality: i pray or i don’t pray, i read my Bible or i don’t read my Bible, i’m serving or i’m not serving, i’m not ‘sinning’ or i’m ‘sinning’ more than i ought. then, once we’ve assessed ourselves, we’ll make some kind of correction by trying harder. the issue with this is that everything is relational in God’s kingdom and in this world. our spirituality and our growth is not a list of tasks that we “must” fulfill, but a relationship with the living God. doing the right things is meant to be the fruit of a devoted relationship with God through Christ. We, however, make it about self development and self improvement.
So, why are we adulterous? because if everything is relational, then when we sin it’s not merely about doing something wrong or being wrong; it’s about breaking our relationship with God. it’s about breaking our covenant with Him. it’s like breaking our marriage vows (adulterous). i can’t go to my wife and tell her that i love her and am devoted to her but still demand that i will still do whatever i want. that doesn’t make any sense at all.
now, if we look at “sin” in this context, it changes everything. maybe we would grieve more about breaking God’s heart rather than only focusing on our failure. maybe we would understand that our “sin” doesn’t just affect us, but it has impact in our relationships and relationship with God. maybe repentance would look different too since it’s not about doing it better, but about loving more.
we always think that size determines our success or ability to influence. but it’s not necessarily true. i’m in the midst of reading and studying the book of James and he reminds us that destructive power is beheld in this tiny entity called the tongue. remember when we were kids and chanted the mantra, “sticks and stones will break our bones, but names will never hurt me!” i’m not so sure about that. i think that physical pain heals, but emotional scars can last a lifetime. i still remember when someone took a shot at my preaching by saying that “a dog could preach better.” i brushed it off, but it hasn’t left my memory. it’s a remark that somehow enhances an existing insecurity and makes it all the more difficult to move forward and grow. i also remember when a teacher long ago told me that she saw incredible success in my future. these words embedded hope and inspiration whenever i feel like a failure. words are absolutely powerful. they can inspire us to accomplish more than we ever imagined possible or they can kill our spirit to a point where we are physically immobilized. what words do you speak? do you give life? or do you destroy life? james calls us to tame our tongue. he questions how we bless God and yet curse people who are made in His likeness. And he tells us that this should not be so. know that your tongue has great power – power to kill or power to heal. and, know that what you speak changes our world!!!
i was reading an book on raising infants and it raised a really interesting and insightful truth. why do we refer to babies as “good” or “bad” when it comes to their actions? if a baby cries, doesn’t sleep, and is unconsolable we refer to him/her as a “bad” baby. but if he/she eats well, sleeps well, and rarely cries, we refer to him/her as a “good” baby. interesting… how does that make them good or bad?
i’m wondering if we start redefining things in our lives when things don’t match up. and then i’m wondering if we take these new definitions and use them to evaluate everything… even God. for instance, a “good” baby is one that doesn’t disrupt our lives and makes our lives easy. so now, a “good” God is one who doesn’t disrupt our lives and makes our lives easy. hmmmm… that’s maybe why we ask ourselves the questions, “why would God do this?” “if God is good, why would he make me suffer?” “how could a good God allow pain in my life?” So, is God good? if we define good as not interrupting our lives, not transforming us, not helping us, and making our lives as easy and as comfortable as possible, then maybe not… So, maybe it’s time for us to look to Him to our definition of good and to see Him as truly God. Maybe we should approach God with humility and brokenness so that we can be formed and informed by Him.
The Truth: God is a never changing constant and He is always good.
Sami and Jaci helping give perspective to my weed problem...
i’ve got weeds growing everywhere!!! i put a couple shots of one patch that’s in front of my house. One with my kids and car to give you some perspective on how tall they are and one that’s a bit closer up. now, i’ve actually got to do some major work to get rid of these bad boys. i can’t believe how fast they’ve grown. this patch was dirt when we first moved in 9 months ago and now i can’t even see the dirt! being a pastor and theologian, i can’t help but look at my weed garden and see the correlation to our lives. i’ve put off taking care of my garden for almost a year and now i have
Yes, They're ALL Weeds!!!
a serious problem that seems totally out of control and overwhelming. i almost don’t know where to start. i thought of weeds in my life that are now deeply rooted within me and think of how overwhelming they become when i choose to look away and ignore them. when they started, they were just small little patches so i thought, “no biggie… i’ll take care of it later.” after a while though, the crap in my life gets overwhelming and i feel like it’s a lost cause. did you know that some weeds actually produce these little flowers that almost make them look pretty? but no, they’re still weeds that grow out of control and start screwing up the rest of the garden. weeds can be subversive that way.
i sat there thinking about all of the different strategies to kill them. i’ve heard of different organic solutions (water and vinegar, boiling water, soap and water, etc.) but i’ve chosen to go the old school route of pulling them by hand. one by one, i’m going to go after them. since there are so many, i’ve asked my friend to help me out. interesting isn’t it? even in this, i can see how community makes such a difference in helping us figure out our junk as well as help us deal with it. wow, when i decide to deal with weeds, it actually brings me closer with people. interesting.
weeds… a curse, a blessing…
i’m pretty obsessed with my weeds right now… enough talking about them. time to get dirty and deal with them…