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Secret Sin

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.   1 John 1:8-10

Our pastor spoke on the subject of the 10th commandment in his message last Sunday.  This commandment deals with the secret sin of “coveting”.  And while it sounds like nothing in light of the other big ones on the list – it is the one in which we can hide, push aside and even deny – making it the most dangerous one of all.

What exactly is coveting? And why is it so dangerous?  Coveting in it’s most basic form is this:  wanting something I don’t have. And in this last commandment that God gave to His people – He spelled it out for them – telling them not to want things that belong to their neighbor, their house, their wife or anything else that belongs to them.  Sounds simple right?  But it is not that simple.

Coveting goes beyond the above commandment.  It deals with the heart. It is all about the secret desires and motives –  known only by God.

Scripture has much to say about the heart. We’re told to “guard it” and that it is the “well-spring of life”.  And we truly believe it.  Until…there is something that we just can’t shake – a past relationship that won’t let us go – or a memory of better days – seeing someone or something that we would like to have for ourselves.  And we thing – “who are we hurting – no one knows”.  But God does.

Our pastor said that we can appear like we have it all together on the outside – we don’t murder, steal, commit adultery – you know the “BIG ONES” on the list.  We come to church and seem to have it all together.  In fact we’re so good that people are actually envious of us!  But this in itself can be a trap.  Sometimes those that look the part – are actually struggling with the most secret sin of their own.

But on the flip side of that – we can become “self-righteous” and “judgmental” when we are not as bad as all those other “sinners” out there.  Holding on to our private “secrets” but looking great on the outside.  It was those people who Jesus had to deal with most in His short 3 years on earth.  The ones that pointed their fingers at others – deflecting blame off of themselves – and the ones who did not acknowledge that they had a problem to begin with – and were just as guilty as the murderers, thieves and adulterers.  Jesus confronted this issue – knowing they all were good Jews and knew the commandments well – got right to the heart of the matter and said,

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Matthew 5:28

I imagine that this kind of radical thinking caused quite a stir.  After all – good Jewish men kept all the commandment to the letter of the law.  This one was uncomfortable and made them squirm.  Why?  Because their heart was wicked and far from repentance – far from God.

We are no different.  Sin is still sin.  Done out in the open – or in the secret places of our heart.  When we sin in a secret way – we are saying that we don’t need a Savior – that we can handle it on our own merit – that because everyone thinks we are good, pure, honest and without sin – that will be enough for God.  It isn’t.  He still knows.  Whether it’s an addiction problem, a lust problem or an unrepentant heart – it’s all the same to God.  Pride and stubbornness are the worst ones – because they tell us a lie – that we are alright without a Savior.

At the heart of our secret sin issue – is Jesus. He patiently waits for us to come to Him and to confess it.  He comes to not just forgive us when we blow it – but to fix us permanently and heal our disease. He heals us from the inside out – taking away the sin and any desire or residue that it leaves.  The sin that will ultimately lead to our destruction – little by little, bit by bit.

How many good moral people are out there?  That sit in our churches?  That have un-confessed sin in their lives?  That are so good in fact – they have no need for a Savior? Don’t be one of those – He is waiting for you today. When Jesus touches your life – you won’t be the same – the change will be permanent – done from the inside out. Something that good moral living alone cannot achieve.  We all have a sin problem – that is why He came.  To do a work that we ourselves cannot do.  Conquer sin in our lives for good – and change us, healing our disease of self-righteousness and pride.

When you get right down to the heart of the matter – Jesus came to save us from ourselves – our sinful tendencies and gave us a better way to live – healing us from the inside out.

Do you have secret sin hiding deep down in your heart that you believe is well hidden – even from God?  When you admit it to Him – He will not condemn you – but forgive you and heal you – giving you a new purpose and a new way to live.  That’s a promise.

God Bless

 

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HOLY SPIRIT - FOIX

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I have a heaviness in my spirit today.  I usually do not add a preface to my articles – but today I really feel that this is for somebody out there.  Someone who has felt condemnation and judgment from others.  I trust that this will help you today – this is for you.

I’ve always been fascinated by reactions of people when given a certain situation to navigate through.

Everyone responds differently.  It is not wrong to respond differently – it is just that we can’t all be put into a ‘box’ and be expected to look at things in the same way. Although – that is exactly what we do.  Expect people to look at things the right way – our way.

My husband used to use an illustration in some of his messages.  He would talk to Christian people and explain how the Holy Spirit can cause a reaction in our lives much like someone touching a live wire.  Here are a few ways people may respond:

1.  Jumping up and down, screaming and shouting and holding onto their hand that was hurt.

2.  Some might feel something but then deny they even felt it.

3.  Others may feel a tingle and say ‘ouch’.

In the same way when something  touches our life – especially the negative painful things – we have a few different ways to react to it:

1.  We jump around, scream and shout and coddle our hurt heart.

2.  We say, ‘You hurt me ‘  And never move on.

3. We say, ‘ouch’ – and move on – and never  touch that painful thing again.

I’ve seen this – and I’ve lived it. Even after doing everything to ‘bare my soul’ so to speak – and to do the right thing after something negative – sometimes the reaction from another person is still  negative. There are always going to be those in life that choose to see others in a negative light – even when we are all fallen, sinful creatures – and can hardly hope to redeem ourselves by casting the first stone. I suppose people do this because it makes them feel better – but I’ve never understood it.

And I am well aware that people see things and events differently too.  And like the above  – they are as varied in reaction as the people who react.  There have been those people in my own life who are quick to point fingers at me and tell me how sinful, terrible and unrepentant I am.  Never knowing the hard long journey that I have taken in efforts to keep my own heart right before God.  And the long soul-searching spent in much prayer asking God’s forgiveness and direction.  I’m sure we all have people like that in our lives.  I sure have in mine.  Those who would try to muzzle me from telling things in my own words – or those that even have the audacity to tell me how I feel – and more horrible than that – not only how I feel (or felt) – but they love to paint and dark and scary picture of what could have happened – based on nothing but speculation and supposition.  It’s insane – and only God has the inside track to who I am – what I’m thinking and just what my motives are for thinking or doing them.  Again these are reactions to their own pain, hurt, confusion and frustration.  And I can only pray for them and feel sorry.

My husband knows more than anybody how I have wrestled with criticism – founded and unfounded by those who at one time were my friends.  And how I have done the long hard work of keeping my heart clean from resentment from those who would still judge me without really knowing me and try to hold me hostage for my past mistakes.  I am guilty as charged.  I’m graciously forgiven by my Lord and Saviour.   I have had to be broken before God to make sure that everything is right inside of me.  And I learned something.  Even when you do this – even when everything is forgiven and covered by God – there are those that still will not believe it. And never will.  Therefore the only reaction that I really care about is God’s reaction to me –  and God’s alone.

There is such amazing freedom in this – He loves me.  He forgives my many mistakes.  He has covered all the sin in my life as He promises to do.  He is gracious and full of mercy – and does not react in a bad way – making me pay somehow.  Nor does he remind me of the past – and just how sinful and terrible I am.  I am then free to love you – with no apprehension – with no hidden agenda – just pure motive of wanting a right relationship – insomuch as is in my power to do so.

And those that continue to react badly – those are the people you feel sorry for – assign them an ‘outer orbit’ and you cut them loose – hoping and praying that others will be kinder to them – then they have shown kindness.  And that they will someday learn that it’s just not worth it to point the finger of blame.  And much better to just let it go and forgive – especially themselves.

I am praying for you

God Bless

Finding Balance

The canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke &...

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Matthew 11:28 (The Message)

28-30“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Long before we were born – in ancient days of old – man was struggling with the same things that we are today.  His sin nature.

From the beginning – we were all subject to the human condition – because of the ‘fall of man‘ – and like King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun’.

Today’s temptations and stresses are nothing new.  Man has been facing them since the beginning of time – and just about any sin you can think of – is listed by example in the Bible.  No one is immune to temptation and his sinful nature.

Jesus promised to bring rest from ourselves. He brought it in a new way.  He gave himself.  As long as we ignore and deny Him – His rightful place in our lives – we will forever be slaves to our dark sinful natures.

I’m not talking about religion.  Religion is ritual and duty.  Born out of guilt about our condition – and as a way to ease our bruised conscience.  That sounds very motivating to me.  NO WAY!  The more you push – the more I’m going to pull – again the sin nature rearing its ugly head.

But Jesus came to bridge the gap of ritualistic religion for religion’s sake.  He came to bring Himself – to offer forgiveness because He Himself IS God – and He came to offer relationship with Him by offering that forgiveness.

You want to live a life of balance and of joy? – then He is the key.  He promises a life of rest and promise. Nothing too heavy will be hoisted upon you.  He will carry you in the tough places.  And He will bring the ‘lightness’ to your everyday world.

There is so much heaviness today in our world.  Those of us that have that relationship with God through Jesus – have a different world perspective.  We have a hope that others do not.  We have a life of meaning and purpose while others live lives of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation.   All sorts of issues today, politically, relationally and economically.  And because it seems that the real enemy of our souls is busier than usual to get us to trip up – just remember this:  Satan has been around a long time – spinning the same lies.  There’s nothing new here.

It comes down to a life of balance. When I am off-balance – this is when temptation and trouble can find me – and I can find it.  A life built on the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus will help to protect me from that temptation of just following  my own sinful nature – that lurks in my heart.  And we all have the ability to be off-balance.  It’s very easy to do. We are stressed, busy, lonely, prideful, independent, etc.  These all can lead to unhealthy habits in our lives.  And take us down a road of temptation that starts out in an innocent way.

This is why we need Jesus to help bring back the balance to our lives.  And He promises to do that.

So walk with Him today – listen to what He is calling, ‘unforced rhythms of grace’.  The many things He allows as part of your journey – and the many times He covers you with much-needed grace and mercy.  And if you’re tired and ‘burned out’ – this is the place you need to be.  Bringing balance and order back into your crazy life.  Walk with Him – watch how He handles it.   Learn from Him.  Watch how he transforms your hard unforgiving heart – into something soft and pliable – and shows you how to apply grace to your life with others.

He will bring that balance back into your worn-out and weary life.  Teach you how to live lightly and freely.

God Bless

 

 

Mercy’s Arms

We were visiting Evergreen Foursquare Church yesterday in Auburn, Washington – where our friend Doug Bursch is the pastor.   The message was probably the best one I have ever heard – on the subject of humility.  It is amazing how we can grow up in the church and even see the same passages of scripture and yet – when somebody else reveals another truth from those passages – it can seem like it’s brand new.  This happened yesterday.

I am constantly amazed at how God will speak – using people and things in our lives to drive home a point and whisper truth into our hearts.  We spend so much time and energy on ‘puffing ourselves up’ to look good – or to feel better – even if we don’t openly admit it – and we can sure find fault with everyone else – again to make us feel good.  We may say to ourselves, “well – I don’t do what THEY do – so I’m better than they are”  – or, “good grief – I’m glad I’m not like them – they’re so WEAK.  I would never do that”  Be very careful – for what you see in your neighbor you are VERY capable of having the same thing happen – unless you take care of your own heart.

What Doug pointed out yesterday was this:  All sin is against God alone.  We don’t sin against our brother or they against us – it’s ALWAYS a problem between God and us – and if I don’t get down to the root of the problem with God alone – I will always point fingers and blame – but it won’t do me any good – in the end I need to come to the complete resolution that I have sinned against God and He will hold me accountable.  I cannot control what others do – I can only control me.  I think sometimes I feel justified in feeling as I do – when others harm me – or hurt me.  And it is completely wrong.

Jesus took a position of servant. He didn’t have to.  But He humbled himself and tried to teach it to the men around him – even though they were pretty ‘brain dead’ and just ‘didn’t get it’ most of the time.  His was a model of humility for me – to take the lowest position – become lower and lower – prefer others over me – even if I feel just the opposite.  Even if others use me – discard me – blame me and mistreat me.  It doesn’t come naturally – because it is the sin nature inside of me that wants to blame – deflect and feel justified.  It is not easy to take on humility.  It is just the right thing to do.

And like the song lyrics below – the ‘walls’ of pride around my heart have to crumble – as I learn to surrender to all He has for me – and surrender to “Mercy’s Arms”.  And as I do – I find that my heart is forever changed – I begin to take on the character and humility of  Christ – as He cleans up my heart – becoming less and less like myself and more and more like Him – so others will catch a glimpse of Jesus in me.

God Bless

The mighty fortress walls
I have built around my foolish heart
how they crumble and they fall
as I surrender all
to Mercy’s Arms

Bathed in holy rain
cleansed from sinner’s bitter stain
only love remains
I’m forever changed
by Mercy’s Arms
sweet the surrender
sweet the embrace
sweet the forgiveness
to one forever undeserving of his grace
safety encircled
rested and warmed
sweet is the taste of love that awaits
un Mercy’s Arms

In the light the life the way
is the key unlocking every chain
sin is lost and freedom gained
the price was paid
by Mercy’s Arms

When I reach my journey’s end
how I hope that He will call me friend
and reach out for me again
forever spend
in Mercy’s Arms

Shake Off The Shame

1 Timothy 1:15

15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Heard an excellent and thought-provoking message from our youth pastor Andy Douglas this morning.  “How many mistakes do you make”?  It was an honest question – and we say to ourselves – “Sure – I make many – or  “I at least make some” – or even – “I hardly ever make a mistake any more”  But the bottom line is this:  we all make them – even when we think we are too spiritual or too far above that in our every day life.  Andy went on to illustrate how when he first got his driver’s license – he made 3 big mistakes in the first hour – being pulled over by 3 different patrol cars.  He had us laughing hysterically – so FUNNY!!  And it was interesting to note – that even though he was talking about mistakes – and ultimately the grace and forgiveness for mistakes we make – I was thinking about those 3 different police officers that pulled him over that night.  They could have been ‘letter of the law’ and each given this new young driver – a ticket – but none of them did.  They gave him a friendly warning – and the last one said to him, “maybe you better go home now” – which he did.  That’s the definition of grace.

This is what God does with each one of us.  Grace by its very definition is this: not getting something we deserved.  It is not something we have earned.  We couldn’t earn it.  It is freely given to us.  And like Andy said this morning – if we cannot accept the ‘gift’ of grace and forgiveness – but instead  walk around with shame for something we have done – and live in bondage to that shame – then we cheapen the fact that Jesus was beat to a pulp and had to endure a horrific death on a cross – so that we could be free from that shame.

Do we continue to make mistakes on purpose.  I hope not.  No one usually does.  They are usually innocent at first – even starting out with great intentions.  You may have a huge heart for people and mean well by loving and embracing them – but then something happens you did not plan on.  You may love helping people – but then you get yourself in too deep and realize – “I made a mistake”  Or you may be naive and think that everyone has the best motives in your world – and then something happens – and you realize that there was another motive altogether and it blindsides you.  Every good well-meaning person makes mistakes.  Pastors and leaders make mistakes all the time.  They don’t mean to – they just do – because they are human.  It is humbling to admit you made a mistake – to ask forgiveness or to forgive someone else – when you may not always be at fault.  But there are times – when it is all your fault. That’s what God’s grace and mercy is there for.  God’s love does not condemn – but rather it renews and gives life and hope to brokenness and hopelessness – bring life from death and joy from despair.

Do we really believe this?  Sometimes.  Do we live like we do?  Not always.  I would like to think that when we make a mistake – and live through the consequences of that mistake – or someone else’s mistake – that we gain perspective and wisdom – and we rarely repeat the same one again.  Oh – we’ll continue to make mistakes – just hopefully not the one that caused so much pain and hard work to recover from.  This is what we gain.  A fresh understanding of the love of God.  A fresh knowledge of grace and mercy.  An understanding of the high cost of that grace, mercy and forgiveness – offered in an ever abundant supply from Jesus.  But so often instead of believing this – and living like this – we walk around with a heavy cloud over us – sometimes choking the joy right out of us.  And we think everyone must know what we’ve done – even though they rarely do.  It paralyzes us.  It prevents us from living a joyful life – a full life where we are able to clearly see the needs of others around us.

But if we could just grasp  concept of grace – we are changed. We no longer live under man’s scrutiny or insinuations – we no longer feel condemnation – and we no longer let what others think of us – rule our emotions and feelings.  We are free – and we understand what that grace means for our lives – because we can agree with Paul in the scripture above – that Christ Jesus came to save sinners, and like Paul we say – …’of which we are the worst’.

If this is true of your life today – you can shake off that feeling of shame and brokenness – forever.  It is only by embracing and accepting the love of Jesus and His covering over those mistakes in your life – that you can really be free.  Free from yourself.  Free from the weight of carrying years of guilt and shame.  Free from the lies that you cannot be forgiven – that you can’t be productive – that God won’t use you anymore because of what you’ve done.  Accept His love and forgiveness today – don’t wait.  Don’t spend another day carrying around this burden on your chest.  He is waiting for you.  Let’s ‘shake off the shame’.

I am praying for you

God Bless

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