To Sin or Not To Sin

I watched the news tonight.  I probably shouldn’t have done that, but how else am I to feel superior to all the worldlings’ bad behavior?  Okay, so I’m not a heavy-duty political commentarian.  Or even lightweight.  But once in awhile, something is just so obvious I simply must open my computer mouth and impose myself upon the blogosphere.  So fasten your seatbelt.

I watched two news stories, back to back.  The first had to do with a certain overseas nation who threatens bad things upon gay Olympians.  And a particular American Olympian retorted that he might have to take protective precautions, but happily maintained, “I’m just going to be me, the fantastic [sportsman] that I am.”

The other story was about an incarcerated kidnapper of young women, now on trial.  He claims that “I’m not a monster, I’m just sick.”

One person totally ignores and disputes his sin by justifying and glorifying himself.  The other knows he’s sick, but only halfway, and he uses it to garner sympathy.  Basically, both of them are saying, “I can’t help it, it’s someone else’s fault, give me a break, let me off the hook.”

Here’s where it’s easy to be a Pharisee (Luke 18:11) and thank God that I’m not like them.  And yet — how many times have I justified myself before God?  How many times have I convinced myself that I’m just dandy and loveable the way I am, and that God didn’t really mean what He said in His word, because I’m having a great time in my “un-sin”?  Or how many times have I acknowledged that I’m sick, depraved, and yet I’m not repentant, because I can’t help how I am?  It was only to get sympathy from God, and I wanted Him to feel sorry for me.

Lord, please insinuate Yourself into my heart, daily.  Cause me not  to be a Pharisee when I hear of other people whom I deem worse than me.  I know that, indeed, I can be, and am, just as bad, if not worse, and that I have no excuse.  Please cause me to recognize sin as sin, that it grieves You, and cause me to be repentant before You.  This is why Your Son died on the Cross and purchased my redemption, why He took my filthy rags on Himself, and lovingly draped His righteousness around me.  It’s not about who I think I am — it’s all about Who You are, and how You are changing me day to day, to be more like You.  I praise You Lord for Your infinite mercy.

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August 2, 2013 · 1:45 am

Lightbulb Moment

In the midst of learning how to shop and read labels properly in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle for my husband’s shiny new heart vessels, I’ve come to an astounding realization.  There-is-salt-in-everything!!!! 

I’ve paid a little attention to labels for several years, knowing that there is indeed sugar, fat, and salt added to every bag, box, and jug of produced food.  And I’ve made a few changes, thinking I’m doing myself, and my husband, some good.  I’ve known these facts.  But, hey, these foods taste really good!  However, just a few days ago, the facts morphed into a lightbulb moment.  A hit-in-the-head-with-a-brick moment.  A not-paying-attention-and-falling-into-a-newly-dug-grave moment.  These cruddy man-made inventions are absolutely in everything!  Now, I didn’t just know the facts, I felt it in my whole being, and it was a true wakeup call.  Changing the way we eat is going to change our lives.

And in that same moment, I remembered how I used to be before I was saved.  I’d heard about sin, and like many people, I’d think, “yea, okay, I’m a sinner, but I’m still okay, I’m a good person anyway.”  I knew about Jesus, and thought that He was a good guy, He’ll forgive me anyway, no matter what atrocious crud-filled sin I embraced because it felt good.  But there came the day when my blasé attitude about sin was exploded.  I realized that my sin is everywhere in me.  And Jesus is not okay with that.  Only when I was hit in the head with my own sin did I sink to my knees before Jesus, knowing, not just the facts in my head, but in my gut, that He died to cleanse me of all that sin.  God changed the way I thought about sin, and about Christ.  My eternal life has been changed forever.

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Heart Plaque

It’s probably inappropriate to write a story about something as heavy-duty as the heart bypass about to be inflicted on my husband.  But I do inappropriate really well.  Since it hasn’t happened yet, it’s fun to let our imaginations run wild about how I can best take care of him while he’s helplessly recuperating at home.  Like giving him a buzz-cut when he’s sleeping, and adding a little rouge to his 71-year-old cheeks, and then posting the resulting photo of his glee onto social media sites.  And giving him crossword puzzles in a foreign language just to exercise his brain.  And tossing catnip onto his bed so the 4 cats can playfully “rearrange” his sheets and his pajamas.  Oh, the fun shall be endless!

Of course, we must deal with the core problem that got him into this situation in the first place.  Part of it is not his fault, it’s inherited.  The other part has to do with eating things that God never intended.  Yes, God said all things are good to eat, but I seriously doubt he meant for us to salt-and-sugar-and-fry everything until it was unrecognizable as His original food source.  The end result is that our poor innocent hearts then develop something called plaque.  Ewww.  And then the doctors have a hey-day with us.

Just as doctors test our hearts with ingenious things called “stress tests,” God also tests our hearts (Psalm 7:9).  He already knows what our problem is, so His testing is to inform us that our hearts are “deceitfully wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).  He wants us to understand that we have sin-plaque in our spiritual hearts.  Just as our physical hearts have blocked arteries, so do our spiritual hearts have 100% blockage throughout.  And how did that happen?  That’s right, it was inherited, passed down from our first father, Adam.  “As in Adam, all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

But our great healer God does more than just bypass surgery, with resulting painful recuperation time.  He gives us a new heart, a cleansed heart (Ezekiel 11:19; Acts 15:8, 9).  This heart will never require anti-rejection drugs.  We are now praising God for His permanent healing — “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

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Mercies

“The Lord’s compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.”  (Lam 3:22-23)

 No sooner did I read those words than I experienced one of those hit-in-the-head-with-a-brick moments.  In my head came the words, “are YOUR compassions new every morning?”

 What a thunderbolt.  The Lord gives me new compassions, new mercies, every day.  He holds no grudges over my head, no yesterday’s failures.  And it’s so easy to take that for granted, not even think about it, or thank Him.  And that’s probably why it’s so easy for me not to pass along these same mercies and compassions to other people.  Instead, I store up old un-mercies from yesterday, and sometimes add on a new un-mercy from today.  How easy it is to build up a pile of un-mercies every day, instead of offering a daily clean slate of compassion for those in my life.

The Lord’s tender brick on my head has caused me to awake each morning hearing “do you have new mercies for someone today?”  Praise Him, He’s tenderizing my heart with His mercies to be passed along.

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What are You Thinking?

Recently, my husband and I tried an amazing feat.  We attempted to drive home over familiar roads.  It’s a good thing we were in good moods, and that we had ice cream, or the terror of our experience would have ruined us for life.  Okay, I exaggerate.  Really, it was only the usual summertime obstacle course of figuring out where to go amidst all the roadblocks, detours, one-ways, bumps, sinkholes, ad infinitum.  Occasionally, a directional sign is missing and we’re left to fend for ourselves. That’s when we’re inclined to howl into the wind, “what were you thinking?” to the professional road monsters who caused us to drive into unfamiliar territories. Never mind that sometimes we get to feast our eyes on pretty scenery, or find a new restaurant, or see children dancing, or ….

It’s at this point that I see the Lord’s humor in working Himself into my hard little pea-brain. How many times in my life do my circumstances change, sometimes drastically, sometimes annoyingly, and I find myself berating the Lord, “what were You thinking?” Meaning … what’s the big idea of interfering in my life and causing me to go where I had no intention of going, with spiritual sinkholes and detours? That’s pretty bad, talking to Him like that. And yet, He’s merciful and doesn’t throw me over a cliff, as I deserve. He just reminds me that His ways and thoughts are not mine (Isah 55:8-9). And if I sit back and not fight Him, I can see where He gives me new circumstances to enjoy, new people with whom to fellowship, or to share the gospel, new ways to enjoy Him during solitary drives through Scripture.

I’m a slow learner, but I so happy and blessed that he’s taught me to say, “so, what ARE You thinking, Lord, I can’t wait to see where we’re going together on this trip home.” Attitude is everything.

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