Fall So Hard

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 ESV

 

The first sin, the fall of man. It was a dark day for mankind when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. They were kicked out of Eden, Adam had to start working the fields, and Eve was promised painful childbirth. Not a very good start in my opinion. To cut Eve some slack, she was deceived by a creature who, “was more crafty than any other beast of the field,” Gen. 3:1. Nevertheless, they sinned. They chose to believe the lies of the enemy instead of the truth of God. Why? Why did Eve put her faith in the lies of the serpent instead of God’s truth? Yes, the serpent was crafty but I think it has more to do with how Eve viewed the tree. It says she, “saw that the tree was good for food,” and, “a delight to the eyes,” Gen. 3:6. Eve viewed the tree as a delight not as a means to death. She viewed it as pleasure instead of pain. God told her that if she ate, she would die. Yet, she eats.

Thousands of years later, we still commit the same sin. God tells us not to do something because it is sin and sin leads to death, but we do it anyway. We still choose the lies of the world, the lies of the devil, instead of God’s truth. We do it because it seems delightful or may bring us momentary pleasure but we are left with guilt, heartache, and pain. We have to change our perspective on sin. We put new labels on old sins to make it seem less lethal. We say things like, “I’m struggling with…” or “I messed up again.” We must call it what it is, sin. Don’t get me wrong, I have things that “I’m struggling with,” we all do. The bible says that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. But we must call sin, sin. The good news is we don’t have to live in a continuous sin cycle, we can be free from the chains of sin.

So how do we break free? How do we escape slavery to sin?

We confess.

Romans 10:9 says, “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED.” This is how we are saved from eternal damnation, but how do we free ourselves from our sin cycle?

We confess.

James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be HEALED.”

We confess to God and we are saved, we confess to one another and we are healed. We are not meant to do this life alone, we need each other. We need people in our lives that we can confess our sins too. I’m not talking about someone you confess to and they say, “Yeah, me too buddy! Join the club.” I’m talking about Christian brothers and sisters that will hold us accountable to our sin. People that love us enough to tell us when we are wrong and to call out our sin.

The problem many face is that we don’t like to be called out. We don’t want people to know our dirty secrets. We fear the rejection of man more than the wrath of God. This too comes from a problem with our perspective on sin. If someone warned us that we were about to do something potentially deadly, like walk into traffic or jump out of a plane with no parachute, we would thank them for saving our lives. If someone calls out our sin we tell them to mind their own business. We must view sin as the poison it is and be thankful for the people that God has put in our lives to help us overcome it.

My prayer for you reader, is that if you are struggling with sin you would confess it and be free. You don’t have to live with that guilt and shame from some hidden sin anymore. Confess and you will be healed. Break free from the bondage that is sin.

 

 

 

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Quoted from a coffee cup

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 ESV

I have seen the above verse on coffee cups, t-shirts, bumper stickers, key chains, pretty much anywhere you can stick a verse, I’ve seen this one. It’s a great verse. It inspires you to strive forward, to keep pushing, to go for gold! But is that what Paul really intended when he wrote it? If we look at the verses just before, Paul is talking about being content instead of personal achievement.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

Paul is saying because of the strength that God has given him (and us too!) he can face any circumstance, good or bad, and be content. Keep in mind, Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. He wasn’t on a mountain top, staring at a beautiful sunset, he was in jail! To me, that statement is way more powerful than, “You can do it!” It says that no matter what you are going through, God is with us through it all. He may not bring us out of the storm like we want, but He will bring us through it and He will be by our side every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.P.G.

Some of my favorite video games I’ve ever played were RPG’s, or “role playing games.” The reason I liked them so much is because you could play any type of character you wanted. You could be a dashing hero always there to save the day, a villainous raider taking whatever you want by force, or somewhere in between. Another great aspect of RPG’s is that if you didn’t like your character or a decision you had made, all you have to do is erase it and start over or load a previous save where your actions had not yet taken place. This works only in the realm of video games. When we try to apply this same logic in our real lives, we can find ourselves in a loop of regret, disappointment, frustration, guilt, and may even fall into depression. We don’t have the option of loading a previous save in the real world, or simply erasing our past mistakes. We don’t have that kind of power, but God does.

“What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

God has the power to change our characters. He can take us from villainous raider to dashing hero. He can hit the reset button. But how? The bible says, “…those who become Christians become new persons.” So how do we do this? How does someone become a Christian? Much like an epic main quest from one of my favorite RPG’s, a person can travel down “Romans Road.”

Romans Road is a journey through the book of Romans in the bible that lays out a path to salvation through Jesus Christ. As you travel along Romans Road you will discover who needs salvation (Romans 3:23), why we need salvation (Romans 6:23), how God provides us with salvation (Romans 5:8), how we can receive salvation (Romans 10:9), and the results of our salvation (Romans 5:1).

The amazing thing about this is the fact that once you walk Romans Road, it isn’t the end of the story but the beginning. This is when your epic tale of salvation, your trust in Christ truly starts. You are free then to explore the side quests of Christianity.

If you have never walked down Romans Road, if you are still living in your past mistakes, still living with the shackles of sin in your life, I urge you to trust in Jesus. Let God remove the guilt, the shame, and the regret. We can’t do this on our own, only God, through faith in Jesus Christ can. Let Him hit the “reset” button on your life, and start anew!

 

Imaginary Jesus

“We can’t know Jesus apart from the Bible because, as Jesus himself says, the Bible always and on every page testifies to him. Any other “Jesus” is just a Jesus of our own imagining.” -Barry Cooper

 

I’m currently reading a book called “Can I really trust the Bible?” In it, Barry Cooper talks about the difference between the word (the bible) and the Word (Jesus). He points out that the religious or spiritual people of Jesus’ day wanted the word but not the Word. And how today we seem to want the Word but not the word. Hang with me here, I know this sounds a little confusing but the point he’s trying to make is extremely important.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders spent their entire lives studying the bible. Yet, despite being in the word of God their entire lives, they never actually met God. They studied the scriptures day in and day out, increasing in knowledge but never in love. They turned God’s word into a profession instead of a relationship. Fast forward 2000 plus years and we seem to have flip-flopped. We want the Word, but not the word. We want God’s grace, mercy, and love, but have no time for his word. Which begs the question, if we are not reading the bible then are we really following a biblical Jesus? Or are we worshipping our own imaginary Jesus. I fear many are worshiping a false Jesus, a Jesus made of good intentions instead of biblical truth. We have to make it a point to dive into God’s word in order to truly know the Word.

Jesus shows us the importance of the word of God while being tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Jesus says, “It is written,” indicating his knowledge of the written word of God. Another interesting point in Matthew and the temptation of Jesus is the fact that the devil tried to use scripture against Jesus. The devil quoted Psalm 91:11,12 trying to tempt Jesus into sin. I believe this is one of the most important reasons we must study God’s word. The enemy has proven that he knows the scriptures. He knows the scriptures well enough to quote them to us in an effort to make us stumble. As Christians, we must be prepared to do spiritual battle with the enemy just as Jesus was in the book of Matthew. Ephesians 6 talks about the armor we are to wear in this battle, and the only offence we have against the enemy is the word of God.

In Ephesians, the word of God is called “the sword of the Spirit”. If I am going to battle with a sword, I want to make sure I know how to use it before I am thrown out onto the battle field. Much like a knight would spend time training with his sword, we must spend time training with ours.

If you are a Christian and reading the bible is not part of your regular routine, I highly encourage you to do so. At first, some of the scriptures may prove difficult, just as it would prove difficult to weld a sword for the first time. Don’t let this discourage you. With time, and help from the Holy Spirit, you will grow in your knowledge of the word and your skill with God’s sword.

 

 

 

 

Cracker Jack

This morning I was in the gym (killing it #humblebrag) and this thought kept popping into my head, “crackerjack clean”. It just kept repeating itself in my mind, crackerjack clean, crackerjack clean, crackerjack clean. I thought on it and what it meant. It just kept going over and over again, crackerjack clean, to the point I was starting to get annoyed. After returning home and getting my son to school, I started looking through old notes, googling the phrase, and after a few minutes I found it. A quote in one of my study bibles by Chuck Swindoll, a former Marine.

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with every day need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just crackerjack clean living. Just honest-to-goodness, bone-deep, nonhypocritical integrity. Authentic obedience to God.” -Chuck Swindoll

Chuck was talking in reference to David in 1 Samuel 24:1-7 when he found King Saul, who was trying to kill David, a little exposed. David had the opportunity to take King Saul out, but chose not too. Why? King Saul was God’s anointed one. David stood for a righteous principle. He stood for God, and he was obedient.

For me, this quote by Chuck means something else. It means I need to adjust my life. It means I need to remove every stumbling block in my life that may cause another brother or sister to stumble or hinder a nonbeliever from coming to Christ. It means living a “crackerjack clean” lifestyle. A living sacrifice.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:13 NIV, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall in sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” That’s pretty intense! Paul is saying that if by him eating meat it causes a brother or sister to stumble or fall away from Christ, he would stop eating meat altogether! But maybe today, for us, it’s not meat, maybe it’s a beer or a glass of wine. Maybe it’s encouraging gossip or slandering someone. In reality, it’s ANYTHING that would cause a brother or sister to stumble.

We have been called, by God Himself, to point others to Jesus Christ. An anything that would hinder that needs to be eliminated from our lives. Crackerjack clean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking Body

“Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

 

The bible states over and over again that we, Christians, are the body of Christ. The body of Christ, that’s kind of a weird analogy. But lets really take a look at this. Like a body, we Christians all have a purpose. We were all created to have a function on this earth that will help the church. We each have a calling in this life that will further God’s kingdom.

Now, like a human body, not every part of the body of Christ is as glamorous as others, (nobody wants to be the colon…) but they are each one just as important as the others. The bible says, “But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it.” 1 Corinthians 12:18 NLT. I know a lot of us would love to be the fiery preacher on stage, when in fact God may be calling us to drive the church bus full of seniors to pick apples. But we must not look down on these parts of the body, or feel bad when we are not called to be the “glamorous” parts of the body. Each part is essential for a healthy body.  “In fact, some of the parts that seem the weakest and least important are really the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally.” 1 Corinthians 12:22-24 NLT.

The problem that we run into today in the church is that a lot of Christians are simply not functioning the way God intended. It doesn’t work very well when your hand tries to act like a foot! We can’t pick and choose what part of the body we want to be, rather we must step into what God has called us to be. So how do we know what God has called us to be? How do we know if we are a foot, or a hand, or an eye? Well, to put it simply, you jump in! Start serving, start volunteering, see where your talents are. Try to pick up a cup with your ear or write with your feet, you’ll soon realize what and where your calling is. Some are called to be greeters, some worship leaders, and others are called to full time ministry. My point is to get out there and try! The church is always in need of more volunteers. Who knows, you may just be the next mouth of the church….or possibly the colon.

Resolution

“For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

 

Looking back at 2016, I’ve had highs and lows. Spiritual mountaintops and darkened valleys. Like David in the Psalms, I had moments where I praised God aloud for His grace and mercy and then screamed out, “Where are You?!” I’ve had moments where I asked myself, “How did I get here? How did I end up in this situation?” If I were to be completely honest, those times of darkness were often times I turned away from God, thinking I knew better than He did, and trying to do life on my own program. But one thing always brought me back around. One emotion or concept. One feeling, love. The bible says in 1 John 4:8 that God IS love. When I was down and out, feeling blue and sorry for myself, there was always someone there to love me through it. Someone to sit me down and speak truth to my life, not anger or hatred, but love and truth. I thank God for the people He has placed in my life. People of strong faith, people to keep me accountable, people to love me. I’ve seen what my life looks like without the love of God and His people in it and it is not a pretty picture. That is why my new year’s resolution is 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.” I’ve allowed myself to drift into the cares of this world for too long, forgetting what true love looks like. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT.  God is love. There is no clearer picture of that than Jesus Christ on the cross. That is true love.

 

 

 

 

Daily travels along the straight and narrow path to salvation.