Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Way Out

If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. 1 Corinthians 10:12

In the last 24 hours I’ve discovered three of my mentees have fallen victim to the trap of sexual sin. Good, God fearing girls, leaders among their peers, respected young women. Girls who are strong in their faith now having to confess, repent, and suffer the consequences of their choices.

It breaks my heart. Not because I’m disappointed in them or angry with them, but because I know that all sin leads to death. Maybe not a literal death but a death of innocence, a death of dreams, a death of influence. When we choose to play with sin we will be burned.

I’m so thankful that two out of the three confessed. They want to be healed. And I’m learning that confession is tied to our healing. We need more of this in the church. More confession. We need to be people that are safe to confess to. We need to be people that are humble enough to confess to someone else.

But there needs to be more. I’m tired of the cycle of temptation, sin, and confession. I want to live in freedom. Freedom from sin. I want to live in obedience. To desire to do God’s will above all else. It is only the heart that is fully submitted to obedience that will ever be able to live in freedom.

It is possible. Not easy, but possible. Actually, by man’s strength it’s impossible. But thankfully He doesn’t ask us to be holy by our own strength alone.

But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

God will not allow us to be tempted to the degree that we can’t stand against us. Good news that hurts. Good news because it means He is always faithful, always waiting to rescue us. It hurts because it means that every time I give in to sin it’s because I chose my own selfish desire over God’s way out.

In The Pursuit of Holiness Jerry Bridges writes, “We often say, ‘God hates the sin but loves the sinner’. This is blessedly true, but too often we quickly rush over the first half of this statement to get to the second. We cannot escape the fact that God hates sin. We may trifle with our sins or excuse them, but God hates them. Therefore every time we sin, we are doing something God hates. He hates our lustful thoughts, our pride and jealousy, our outbursts of temper, and our rationalizations that the end justifies the means. We need to be gripped by the fact that God hates all these things. We become so accustomed to our sins we sometimes lapse into a state of peaceful coexistence with them, but God never ceases to hate them.”

This world tells us that we should be able to do what we want when we want. It tells us to gratify all of our desires, encourages us to do so. But we are not supposed to be of this world. We are supposed to be set apart, a people holy unto the Lord. Urged by God to abstain from sinful desires so that He will be glorified.

Father, thank you for being faithful. For providing a way out when we are tempted. Help us to see the way of escape and choose it every time we face temptation. Help us to choose You! To say yes to You and no to sin. Help us to be Your holy people, set apart, free from sin, and fully obedient to You.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Do You Love the World?

One thing I miss about being a Children’s Pastor is teaching kids to memorize God’s Word. I have to confess, I’m terrible at memorizing anything, especially scripture. So teaching the kids memory verses helped me memorize them too. Our lead Children’s Pastor had the most amazing way of creating fun ways to memorize scripture and one of my favorite verses we taught the kids was 1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” I wish I could let you see and hear the dramatic way we would say this verse together.

Last week I was able to get away for an extended prayer retreat and spend a lot of my time meditating on a few verses, prayerfully asking God about how He wanted to apply His word to my heart. This is one of the verses that took center stage during that time. But I continued on to verse 16 “For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father, but from the world”.




Three things that will separate us from God’s love.

It’s easy as a long time follower of Jesus to skim through a list of sins that God despises and think we’re okay. But when I really took the time to think about these three things, I realized that I am overwhelmingly guilty.

The New Testament Greek Lexicon offers the following definitions:

Cravings-greed, destructive longing

Lust- desire for what is forbidden

Boasting- empty, braggart talk that trusts in its own power

I don’t know about you but I crave food for comfort, new shoes for a pick-me-up, I’m greedy for comfortable surroundings and abundance. I lust after getting my way; I long for approval, and pats on the back. And boasting? Well, one look at my Facebook page would confirm my continual boasting. My empty braggart talk.

God says if we love these things then His love is not in us. Why is that do you suppose?

Maybe because craving, lust, and boasting takes our eyes off of Jesus and puts them elsewhere. If I’m having a bad day I should turn to God’s word not brownies or a BOGO sale at my favorite shoe store to fill me up. If I’m feeling rejected and unloved my heart should seek out time in His presence not empty words from man. And if I’m going to dare to open my mouth to boast… why on earth would I choose to boast of myself when the only thing that’s good in me is Jesus?

When I choose the things of this world I fill my heart up with my wicked craving, lust, and boasting leaving no room for the love of God to fill my heart.

God wants us to be holy, just as He is holy. Yet, I live my life making excuses for my sin. Calling it “social media” instead of boasting. Or the new shoes a “treat” instead of greed. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll never hear me say Facebook or shopping is wrong. It’s my heart that’s wrong. Full of greed and in desperate need of God.

I want to be more desperate for Him than anything else this world could ever offer.

Lord, change my heart. Make me more like you!

“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. 1 John 2: 28-29

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Psalm 46 gives an account of a season of trouble. It’s filled with words that communicate dire conditions.

…earth give way… mountains fall into the sea… waters roar… mountains quake… nations in uproar… kingdoms fall… earth melts… desolations…

And at the end of this description of suffering the Lord speaks “Be still and know that I am God”.

Be still? Be still in the midst of trouble and desolation? Be still in the midst of raging war and devastation? How do you be still when the world around you is crumbling?

Maybe the question isn’t how but why? Why be still? Why not run? Or hide? Or fight?

Pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Prov. 4:20

God tells us to be still so that we can hear His instruction to us. Daily we are surrounded by trouble, maybe not “mountains falling into the sea” or “earth melting” but mountains of bills, laundry and deadlines. The kids have meltdowns, or make choices that cause us to meltdown! Daily we are faced with decision after decision that must be made. How do we know what we should do?

Generally speaking I stress over the bills, complain about the laundry, work frantically to meet the deadlines. I yell at the kids then cry about yelling at them. And at the end of the day I fall in bed exhausted dreading the alarm signaling the start of one more day of madness.

I read about being still and then look at the swirling chaos around me and wonderer… how?

In the New American Standard “be still” is translated “cease striving”. In the midst of this crazy life God’s wants us to cease striving, to be still. He longs to speak peace into our chaotic world. He wants to whisper wisdom into our question heart. He desires to speak words of comfort to our tired souls. But the swirling, tumbling noise of our lives drowns out the still quite voice of the almighty God who speaks in a still small voice.

“I have stilled and quieted my soul.” Psalm 131:2

I have stilled and quieted. Through a decision I choose stillness. Through an act of my will I chose quiet.

I spent this past weekend at the Monastery in search of quiet. In the hushed sanctuary of the chapel and on the banks of the quiet pond my heart was stilled and His voice became clear.

Sadly I can’t spend every weekend in the quiet safety of the Monastery. But I can spend at least a moment with a still and quiet soul. I can find at least a brief minute to turn off the phone and let the email go unchecked.

My heart yearns to hear Him. I am desperate to know His will. And so we have to be purposeful about being still. We can’t expect our calendars to magically clear or our kids to spontaneously be quiet. But we can create time to take a moment to sit. To listen. To know.

In the midst of this chaotic life I have stilled and quieted my soul… so I can hear the voice of God.