The most uncomfortable topic-introduction I’ve ever given:

They say farting (or “tooting”) freely and often is a sign of excellent good health. If you talk to the right people, they’ll tell you that you should let the gas escape to give bodily relief–this is a waste-product of your completed the digestion cycle. If you’re uncomfortable with this subject, you’re not alone. I don’t think I would be comfortable with it even if I was a biologist deeply engrossed in this field. I just don’t favor open discussion of all kinds. I think there are limits.

But the reason I bring this up is because I think the discomfort we feel about this topic is a good correlation to the discomfort we feel regarding confession of our sins to one another. We often know the contamination (of sin) is there, and even that it has been known to escape into the open at times, but we are still  do our best to keep very private the details of our struggles. Somehow, we think that if we don’t speak of it, no one will notice that we really are worthy of the title “sinner.” (Choke!)

I think this is not only a shame, but it is wrong. This is not how God has called us to live. He wants us to show forth His grace as we live lives that showcase our weaknesses and need of grace so that grace can be seen for the blessing that it really is. If our lives hold back the evidence of grace’s necessity, how can grace truly shine against the backdrop of our lives?

Yes, sharing the concrete truth about our sin can be unpleasant and embarrassing, but does this change the fact that it is for the good of our spiritual health? The reality is that if sin is in us, it will come out. Confession is not helping more sin to come out, but acknowledging that sin is already coming out. We are admitting that we are the reason that sin comes out and we need help–a solution to deal with what’s inside.

We are often tempted to keep the most unpleasant factors of who we are to ourselves. If we can’t always hold them in, we make sure they are only exposed in absolute privacy. But, while this may be a good-manners policy regarding gas, in the case of spiritual health it is a no-no.

God cannot deal with our sin in the manner He wants if we keep holding ourselves aloof from the help He provides. Because He has already taken care of the penalty that we faced for our sin, we can and must now deal with the roots of our sin that we may be turned in the whole scope of our being toward the God who has saved us and called us to be representatives of His righteousness, peace and grace.

If we do not have peace about owning-up to our sin and the dependence on God that it makes evident in us, than it may well be that we do not yet understand God’s righteousness or grace. They are the very qualities that empower us to fellowship with others free of facades and carefully-planned frameworks for conversation. If God’s righteousness covers us, than we do not have to worry about what our righteousness says about us. If His grace boasts that we are His children, adopted into His sacrificial death, then any boast of identity besides this must be laid to rest.

It’s really quite simple. Let’s not complicate it. It may be uncomfortable to do so, but we must take advantage of grace. Coming closer to God is not necessarily comfortable, but it is ever so good! Shame is a quality that Satan tries to use against us. But instead of cowering before it, we should rejoice that it no longer holds us back from fellowship. Seeing our shame should only remind us of how glorious our Savior is who took our shame upon Himself. He did not bury our shame, but transformed into something that would make us wonder at the love He has for us–how deeply He was willing to enter into our identity and make it bow before His own.

Are you sure desire is the mother of sin?

What does a good desire, a right desire look like? Well, sometimes I’m really not sure I could say.

Is it what makes us happy? You could say that. Is it what moves us to become more of the person we are supposed to be? I’m confident that it is. Is it something that we can share with other people — to make their lives better? Most likely.

All of our desires are the parts of us that show us our greatest strengths and our greatest weaknesses at the same time. Sin is not in our desires, but in how we act upon them. They will either be executed in such a way as to bring us more into submission to Christ, or to seek to subvert His just rule in our lives.

When I’m not looking up, I fall down

“Am I good enough?” Have you ever asked yourself that? “Will I measure up? Can I ever do what is expected of me, or will I disappoint all of us? Oh, and how will I ever live with myself again if I do?!”

I have asked myself those questions. I wish I could say all of these “self-doubts” were just a distant memory, but they’re not. When I feel like it really counts, that I really want to do well, than I remember all the right wrong thoughts to keep me worried so much that I lose my focus.

I want to be the best person I can be, but what does that look like, and at what cost must it be achieved? I am ashamed that I am still so much of my own glory-hound. I want to feel good only by looking good. And I will pay most costs that are put in front of me.

I will worry; I will think more about myself than I typically do; I will get anxious and irritable, even snapping at my family; I will insist on having my way and see no other way to enjoy myself now unless I can guarantee that later I shall be a success in all eyes including my own.

Certain peoples eyes are more difficult to light up than others, and those are often the ones that are more important to me. But they don’t always have to be. Sometimes I worry the most about eyes that light up pretty regularly. I ask myself, “What if they feel like I’ve changed; what if how I acted in a certain situation is remembered with disapproval to the same degree that I recall the embarrassment.

Okay, so my pride is really blowing up here — I hate disappointment. I feel like I can handle anything of this kind from other people, but not from myself. The disappointment I cause myself — which is always ratcheted up by fears that I have permanently lost the respect that I covet so much from others — is one of the most difficult things for me to handle.

In fact, I fear I don’t handle them at all really. If I did, I would get to the root of this disturbance of the heart and give it to God just as well as I could. If the symptoms were persistent still, then I would keep digging, realizing that this was not a small thing that God was laying on my conscience — He wants a big contribution of repentance for an equally large sum of sin.

This realization doesn’t scare me much any more, it is the fact that I still go so long without it. I think I can handle my heart on my own; that all I need is to get my own way and I’ll be fine. Won’t I get it? That is not the way — things are not as simple as being able to believe everything my lying flesh tells me!

I need to face this arbitrary nonsense and turn from listening to it to heeding something stronger, something more vital to my existence. Something I can only call the Word of God and the constant affirmation of His Holy Spirit. I can go on in this life alone! All I’m good at in the natural (being under my own power) is going in circles because Christ is the only One who is capable of moving my stagnant, sinning self forward.

Forward into more of a view of grace, more of an experience of His glory, more of a dependence on His mercy. God is what I need to be assured of, and the rest of life can be what it will be. And I can live with whatever that is — I just need to remind myself to stand on the truth of who God is and not the fickle framework of who I am — which will always be a dangerous lie without Christ at the head.

Are all sins really deserving of death?

I was reading a small section of Deuteronomy in my devotions this morning and came upon something in God’s law that I felt like I had to fix. How could God say this, I wondered, why would He allow the sin of His people Israel to get to the point of capital punishment?

The problem that I was considering was that a son would be put to death for disobeying his parents. The text in chapter 21 describes the law for sons guilty of disobedience to the parental honor commandment this way:

When a man has a stubborn son, a real rebel who won’t do a thing his mother and father tell him, and even though they discipline him he still won’t obey, his father and mother shall forcibly bring him before the leaders at the city gate and say to the city fathers, “This son of ours is a stubborn rebel; he won’t listen to a thing we say. He’s a glutton and a drunk.”

Then all the men of the town are to throw rocks at him until he’s dead. You will have purged the evil pollution from among you. All Israel will hear what’s happened and be in awe.

I must say that this is a lot to take in. But still, why do I sit here and squirm at what the Word of the Lord says about the consequences of sin? I frantically ask, How can this be right? How shall I think of God now? And why have I been treated with mercy when I have not listened or heeded my parents perfectly? I have had memorable seasons when rebellion has taken over my entire being — what am I now to think of this? What is God’s perspective on all this?

Sin and justice are no easy topics, but it is impossible for us to confront them without enabling the Word of God to bear down upon us. We are in bodies that have never known anything but sin, therefore, we need to turn to the counsels of God-who-has-already-been-in-the-flesh: Christ.

My reaction begs the question: Is it ever a good idea to have sin without punishment? And isn’t this what I am asking for — a weak approach to sin; ; less of an exposure of our need for Christ? It is either one or the other — we be exalted in our sin by God’s failure to bring us to justice, or God is exalted by His faithfulness to spare no expense in treating us according to the requirements of His righteousness.

A Classic Character with A Climactic Claims

There is something about classic things — they just don’t die. No matter how old they are in our time, they never cease to be alive and authoritative to us. Their value is in their ability to portrey a moving portrait of the longings and behaviors of mankind. They affect how we see ourselves and what we believe to be true of the world around us — whether it is a novel, poetry, history, law or a futurist outline.

Perhaps a little surprising is that the Word of God is all these things. And yet it has a greater claim on our lives than any other classic held up against it. It has been written for one purpose and that is to reveal the Word (Christ) that came into the world to save men from the deceit of their character.

I don’t know about you, but I have a problem with what the Bible says. I can sit there with you and profess that it is a beautiful book that certainly has a perfect right to its particular status, but beneath what I say there is more that I don’t say.

I like the Bible, but I don’t want it to be right so long as it is discussing me. (I will admit that is highly convenient when I find a place where it slams an individual that I deem is worthy of it, but when I am its subject that is not the kind of treatment I want to get.)

I crave honor and exaltation and I believe that the Bible, of all things, ought to give it to me. You can tell me that I am a sinner and that I need saving — yes, even forgiveness — but don’t force me to accept all the features of this reality that I was once too dishonest to see.

I don’t care for the fact that every discussion of sin and wrong-doing that I find in Scripture is in some way a disortation on me and why I need Christ’s righteousness to stand in for my lack thereof. And the more I grow in god-like-ness — the more I reflect the beauty of God’s original design for me — the less I have a legitimate case for boasting in what I have done to make myself good.

Yet, all these problems show one glaring misconception of the text’s overall theme: Those beautiful words that begin Genesis and carry through the entire story of mankind and beyond, “In the beginning God…” In reading this I must ask myself, Where was I? Clearly this story contains me — missing nothing of who I am or what I was meant to be — but does not rely on me or revolve around me.

This is a problem if I live as though those things are the case: I risk never knowing who I truly am because I have missed the point of the tale into which I was so lately born. I must ask another question of myself at this point: “Do I truly love the Word (book) or its object the Word (the Person of Christ) if I live vigorously opposed to everything He speaks, everything He stands for, all that He is?”

When God meets man the lies explode

To anyone who might struggle with believing that surrendering one’s life could ever be manly enough for them to feel good about converting, let me ask you something. Since when is it not manly to face the truth and commit yourself to living for the only thing that will last?

You may excuse yourself by saying that you’re not one who is much for religion or a relationship. But, are you for being a fraud, for paving a road of regrets, for destroying your own chance of securing a foundation for your future and home? Will you let Life pass you by because it’s portreyed as something you don’t want?

Don’t forget that your enemy, Satan, knows you better than you think — He will paint God in whatever hues you most despise. He is on the offensive so hard with you right now because he knows that it is a losing battle for him if you even attempt to investigate who Christ is and what His claims are on your life. The excellence of who Christ is and what He offers will immediately take hold of your heart and mind and expose to you the imposter-god you have been following around. He knows that every time you believe that you are doing your own thing and forging a new path that you are taking and digesting another potent portion of his great big lie about who you are and where you fit. He will let go of you easily; while you play into his demented scemes he can torture you and grieve God at the same — it’s a win-win for him and a lose-lose for you.

But, if you’re angry at God or find some other reason to be strongly opposed to Him, don’t think that this is your angle. You will die in the end. Nothing that you can do can change God. And the only reason why Satan bothers with you is because you are very significant to God. If you want to do someone in, turn from Satan to God and you will foil the plans of your deceitful Adversary while taking taking hold of all the now-hidden benefits of the plans of a God who is for you.

Now, don’t be too quick to judge what you read by phrases or word-pictures that may disagree with you — find out who God is for yourself and then use your own word-pictures!

Here’s the deal: You are on a hunt. You’ve likely heard some stories about God, but those are just clues that reveal a God who weaves His stories right in the middle of people’s lives. Now it’s your turn to find your story in the big one that God’s telling. When you do, and you learn His take on you and what you’re all about, you are guaranteed to find two things:

1. God has some definite ideas about you and what you should be doing (yeah, I’m aware that you were probably waiting for that) and,

2. His reasoning, and the plans He has for executing it, is actually pretty compelling.

God wouldn’t insist on putting a call on your life if He didn’t absolutely belong there. And what’s more, He wouldn’t make public His intent to find you and refocus your attention and direction if it wasn’t for the fact that He was on a rescue mission.

If you thought that this was just something that came under your area of expertese, then think again. This propensity to perform daring feats and the prowess with which you are able to accomlish them is an awesome example of the imagination of God at work in your life.

All this search-and-rescue stuff; this facing-danger-and-risking-death-to-deliver-someone-else-to-safety; this leading-and-taking-charge; this conquering-all-the-odds-when-you-take-o- the-world — this is all stuff that God did first. And, what’s more is that He did it for you.

Yeah, you need to escape hell, but your sins keep tripping you up; you may have already been briefed on what must go down here, but unless you are sobered enough to recognize what the antecdote is going to cost you, all this information is a loss to you. Confidence without correction and confession will not be able to change anything for you. You cannot make it out alive without first laying hold of the object upon which your destination-alteration depends. That object is not a thing, but a Person. It is believing that Jesus Christ died, absorbing your penalty of wrath from God, in place of you and rose again to offer you His life.

To reject this would be to sink all your chances at once. Because the truth is, you only have one chance: You must be cleared of your errors — not just one, but everone, including the ones you have yet to make — and this will depend on a perfect Person’s testimony and blood being spilled to cover you before the scathing eyes of God.

This has already happened and this is why God has made such a point of meeting with you — He must make you aware of His offer and receive your response. Considering that Christ has stood in the gap of your sin for you, will you choose to stand in His sacrifice?

Whether you realize it or not, you are responsible for the death of another Person — the God-Person Jesus Christ — since He died for you. God did something for you at the highest cost to Himself, because any death-payment for sin that you could have orchastrated for yourself could not have brought you to life on the other side.