Tag Archives: sinful behavior

Who Are We Really?

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I’ve found myself thinking about this blog post and feeling that I would like to avoid writing it.  ( I’m preparing a Sunday School lesson on Jonah, the prophet who tried to run away from God, and boy, can I identify).  However, the Holy Spirit keeps nudging me to put it out there, so here goes.

The Hunger Games

Have you read the book, or watched the movie,  The Hunger Games?  I bet almost everyone has.  It’s the story of a young girl, Katniss Everdeen, who through her abilities and virtue, triumphs over an evil government, and becomes a symbol of freedom that motivates others. It’s a story we all want to identify with, especially here in America.  That’s how we see ourselves, right? The land of the brave and the free?  Individualists who broke away from the control of England to establish a country where liberty is  guaranteed and everyone has an opportunity to work hard and succeed.  Hunger Games fits well with the story we tell ourselves about who we are and how we came to exist as a nation.  I suppose that’s okay as far as it goes.

Unfortunately what struck me, particularly when I saw the movie, was the thought that we’re not Katniss, we’re the people in the capital;  the people who are living an extravagant, gluttonous lifestyle, while outside our borders people starve.  Look up the statistics.  Did you know that 16% of the worlds’ population (this is pretty much the U.S., Europe and Japan) consume 80% of the natural resources?  Americans comprise 4% of the world population, but operate 1/3 of its’ cars and use 1/4 of its’ energy.

You may tell yourself that at least we’re not drafting people to compete in a murderous game for our entertainment.  Think again.  We haven’t quite gotten to that level, but we’re more than willing to view many “reality” shows that encourage conflict, lust and greed for our enjoyment.

Here’s the naked truth.  We live in the capital and we are those evil people.  We have no hope of isolating ourselves from sin, our own and that of society.  We don’t need a Katniss;  we need a savior.  Come Lord Jesus.

 

 

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I don’t get what I deserve.

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What I deserve is Hell. Really, the ten commandments show me how true that is. According to law, I deserve nothing but punishment for the sins that I can’t help but commit. I’m selfish, I’m an ungrateful child, I’m inconsiderate . . . A glutton. For sure Sarah, the christian is not an iota better than her peers.

Yet for all my shortcomings, what makes me different is that I know something. I know Christ Jesus came and redeemed me. Linkin Park sings in one of my favorite songs,

“So let mercy come and wash away
What I’ve done
I’ll face myself to cross out what I’ve become
Erase myself
And let go of what I’ve done”
I wonder if they knew that Jesus is Mercy? I wonder if they knew when they wrote these words that Jesus does and did, wash away what we’ve done? I wonder too if they knew that they didn’t have to face themselves alone. Cuz, when we are left alone to meditate on our mistakes, it is truly unbearable. I certainly hope everyone comes to have the knowledge, that erasing ones self and letting go of what we’ve done, is only fully possible when Jesus does it for us. I know I deserve hell and the pain that comes with it. I also know (through the Holy Spirit) that Jesus saved me from that fate.
Thank the Lord almighty I don’t get what I deserve.
That being said, you now understand (I think) my perspective when I tell you that as I cancelled my appointment for a Spinal Cord Simulator ( https://www.spine-health.com/video/spinal-cord-stimulator-implant-video ) I did with faith. Faith that God knows what I go through. Faith that God is using my story for His good. Faith that one day I will get better than I deserve.
I passed the tests, I got approved, and it wasn’t enough. We came ten percent shy of being able to get it done. And time is almost out. Next year begins new deductibles and new hope. It’ll get done, or it won’t. And tomorrow me and my gimpy leg will wake up and move. I know what I deserve. And I know I’ve got it good. No one but God and I can see my pain, and that holds true with many others out there suffering and struggling with whatever.
 2 Corinthians 11:29&30
  29″ Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness. “
Philippians 1:21
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

Examining Our Relationships

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After a Via de Cristo retreat, participants are encouraged to periodically examine their conscience.  This means to think carefully over their recent words, thoughts and deeds in order to understand how they have failed and confess.  Some suggestions for doing this are provided in the VDC Pilgrim’s Guide.  I’m listing here just the questions pertaining to our relationships.

In Regard to Others have I:

  • Loved others selfishly;  wanted to monopolize other’s affections, been jealous
  • Considered no one but myself.  Never felt real anguish for the misery of others
  • Passed by, indifferent to others’ troubles
  • Had habitual contempt for others;  less educated people, people of different racial, national or economic groups
  • In any way stifled the personal development of another
  • Sought to be respected without respecting others
  • Often kept others waiting
  • Not paid entire attention to a person speaking to me
  • Talked too much of myself, and not given others a chance to express themselves
  • Failed to try to understand others
  • Out of selfishness or pride, expected to be served
  • Failed to help a person in distress
  • Seen only those whose friendship might prove profitable
  • Abandoned my friends in their difficulties
  • Said hurtful things
  • Done harm, by remarks (false or true) that blacken another’s character
  • Betrayed a trust;  violated a confidence
  • Given scandal by the split between the life I lead and the principles I advertise as mine

How do you feel after reading through this list?  I am humbled and contrite.  I fall down so much more than I want to admit, many times I sin against others and don’t even notice!

“For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:22-25

Thankful to Be One of His Sheep

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“All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.”  Matt 25:32-33

 Years ago, I missed a Sunday worship service.  The next time I saw our pastor, I explained that having a yard sale on Saturday exhausted me, and I really needed to sleep in the next day.  His response was, “It’s an excuse, Joan, but not a very good one.”

 None of us likes to be judged and found wanting.  We convince ourselves there is a good reason for the sinful things we do, and for the good things we neglect doing.  At the final judgment, however, there will be no excuses.  Our deeds will speak for themselves.

 The interesting thing is that both the sheep and the goats deny that their actions were premeditated. The sheep do not want special credit, and the goats do not accept blame.  So what is the difference between them?   The difference is the sheep belong to the shepherd.  Their loving behavior flows naturally out of knowing Him.

 Dear Lord, I am so thankful be one of your sheep.  Amen.

 Ezekiel 34:11-16  Psalm 91  Hebrews 13:20-21 

 

Sacrificial Speech

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“It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together

In Michele’s post What is Sacrifice?? she mentioned that people give up all kinds of things as a sacrifice to God during Lent.  We can give up anything that prevents us from directing our life toward God.  So here’s an idea:  consider fasting from careless or uncaring talk.  The book of James says,

“If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is in vain.” James 1:26

In other words, failing to control our tongue is very important.  It can make our other sacrifices worthless.  We all know that words can hurt, yet we still say damaging things and then try to excuse them:  “I was only telling the truth,” “I just didn’t think,” or “he (or she) shouldn’t be so sensitive.”  Keep in mind that gossip and foolish talk are included in Biblical lists of sinful behavior (2 Corinthians 12:20, Ephesians 5:4) right along with things we consider much worse.  We can’t excuse sins of the tongue, any more than we can excuse theft or murder.

In point of fact, we are not just called to abstain from cruel words, but to speak positively as often as possible.  In a recent sermon on the Ten Commandments, our pastor directed us to Martin Luther’s explanation of false witness in the Small Catechism:

“We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

Notice this explanation goes beyond saying, “if you can’t say something good, be quiet.”  It goes further than telling us not to lie about others.  It says we should speak kindly about everyone and truly believe the best of them.  We could boil it down to these words from Ephesians:

“Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

So during the Lenten season, let’s not just give up foolish speech, let’s replace those words with others that encourage.  Say, “thank you,”  “I care about you,”  I appreciate your hard work,”  or “how may I help?”  There are many opportunities to affirm someone every day.