I heard a preacher say, “We are very proud of the sins we do not break and ignore the ones we do.”
Through the years, I have found his words to be true. We have a list of sins we abhor and another list of things that are acceptable under certain circumstances.
I once watched an interview with an ex-porn star who was now a Christian. She talked about how honest she was and never told a lie. Um, yeah, but … Then there was a used car salesman who spoke proudly about no moral compromise sexually over this lifetime. Um, yeah, but …
ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That means everyone.
Perhaps you don’t know why someone would fall to THAT sin because it has never been a temptation to you. On the other hand, maybe you know exactly why someone struggles with THAT sin because you do too.
My struggle with sin is not the same as yours. That does not make you or me a better person. It simply means we are different.
ALL of us need grace for the sins we hate and the ones we accept.
Thank you Jesus.
It is defined as “making a show of being morally superior to other people; self-righteous.”
Some people are genuine religious people. They are devout and try to do everything God desires.
Then there is a line that a few within that group cross. They begin to develop an attitude that they are better than others because they try to be devout followers of God.
It is hard to say where this line is found. Perhaps it is crossed after numerous years of faith. Maybe we step over it when we receive the praise of our peers. It might be blurred by our increased knowledge in matters of the Bible.
It is easy to go from being sanctified in Jesus to sanctimonious in our own righteousness if we are not careful.
Pharisees always had good intentions. They wanted people to follow God like they did because they did it correctly.
The moment you feel morally superior to someone else is when you need to stop and repent.
My apple music finished the song I had requested and then launched into a list of current music with a similar vibe. It was one song after another of pain, regret, and sadness. Each piece contained lyrics about poor choices and the emotional toll they took on the singer. After several songs had played, I felt myself beginning to wallow in my own poor life choices.
Knowing where my mind was heading, I went to my favorite Christian playlist. There are several popular Christian songs along with numerous praise and worship songs on the list. For the first time, I noticed similar first verses. Even these songs told the story of making wrong decisions that hurt the singer.
But the chorus was different. Instead of a sense of hopelessness, the lyrics painted a picture of forgiveness and new possibilities. There were words of joy, hope, and love amid mistakes. The tunes were not of suffering but pain redeemed by God.
Everyone has regrets. We all make bad decisions. Each one violates God’s will for our lives. We all know it and feel it.
The difference between a life of faith and a lack of it is that believers can find light in the darkness. People may sing the same old songs of regret, but with Jesus, the music is not finished until the blues are gone for good.
I recently read this advice about modern love.
Today, if you love someone, plan on spending half as much money as you think you should. And then give the person twice as much time as you feel is necessary.
Giving someone the gift of your time and undivided attention is the best way to say “I Love You.”
Everyone wishes there was one.
There is none.
Everything worth having requires effort. Quite often, it takes more work than we imagine or want. This is true in every area of life.
Accept it. Embrace it. And get to work.
We are on the verge of entering the vacation season. It is the time of year when people will travel all over the country and even the world to see sights, enjoy good food, and spend time with family.
I am all in favor of vacation. My family and I plan on taking one the first week of August. Go. Enjoy. Have fun. And we at the Church will miss you so don’t forget to return to us soon.
This summer can be a time to rest and reconnect. But may I also suggest that it is an excellent time to refocus.
Throughout the Old Testament, the people are told to take a sabbath. That is the practice of taking off Saturday and doing no work. It was a time to rest. On top of that, the people of God had three different festivals that required them to take a week off work to spend time celebrating all that God had done for his people. God favors us taking time away from work, but it was primarily for them to refocus.
The people of God were not taking a week to focus on self-indulgence. Instead, they were taking it to get their head clear and to make God the center of their lives again. They needed a reminder that God could run the world without them, and they needed him above all else.
I hope you allow your vacation this summer to move you closer to God and not further away.
Nehemiah 7:2 “I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.” (NIV – 2011)
The writer Nehemiah says that he gave a man named Hanani a leadership position for two reasons.
First, he was a man of integrity. The idea is that he was faithful to what he believed. He trusted God and his belief led him to do whatever the law required and handle situations as God desired. He would not oppress people, abuse his authority, take bribes, or do anything that would be perceived as wrongdoing.
Second, he was a man who “feared God more than most people do.” He was religious, but his religious conviction superseded anyone else in the community of believers. There was something that separated his behavior from other believers.
This description is never explained to us. Does it mean he spent more time in prayer? Perhaps he read the scriptures more. Maybe he was a son who cared for his parents better than most people. Could it mean he was a quality husband and father? Was it just about his worship of God, or did this include every aspect of his life?
We have no way of knowing precisely what Nehemiah meant, but through our experience, we also know what he is talking about. When you think of a deeply religious person, you immediately think of that one person. They fear God more than most people do.
The question is, “Would anyone ever say that about you?” Is there anyone who would say of you, “They fear God more than other people,” and everyone would agree? If not, what would it take to get there?
A wise old preacher who had experienced dynamic growth in his Church over his tenure was once asked what advice he would give young preachers. I will never forget his response. He said simply, “Don’t be boring.” To clarify, he said that he meant preaching, as it is always a good practice not to be boring. But, he primarily meant, “Don’t be a boring person.”
Then he told the story of a woman in his Church who collected doorknobs and was an authority on the topic. She would research them, travel to shows to learn more, visit displays, and keep a catalog of all the types that had existed for the last several hundred years. Then he explained how people would want to stop her and talk everywhere she went. She had taken something seemingly mundane and made it into something with which everyone wanted to talk to her.
He then talked about his life. He had simply gotten dull with age. He did the same things, in the same way, every day, and when people talked to him, his life was boring. Conversations dried up, and people did not want to be around him. Then he went out and bought a Harley. He and his wife began to rediscover a passion from their early years of marriage. They joined a motorcycle club. Suddenly, he noticed that people wanted to talk to him about his “bike” and his next trip. This finally gave way to talking about Jesus and the Christian life.
Now, as he looked back on his life and ministry, he saw that boring is the enemy of Jesus. It lulls people to sleep. It makes people think that the goal of every believer is to quietly sit in Church each week and share polite conversations about the weather. Instead, God gave us this one and only life to be used to enjoy his creation and do some exciting things. The more we use it, the more it opens up conversations that lead others to Jesus.
One way to impact this world for Jesus is to maintain an exciting life. It will give you wonderful experiences and stories to tell. Those will open the door for so much more if you let it.
The Hydrox brand of cookie with two small crunchy cookies and a creamy center debuted in 1908. It was made by Sunshine Biscuits and was produced for 90 years. Eventually, Keebler bought them out, and three years later, they ended production in 1999. Then in 2015, Leaf Brands reintroduced the product back into the world. This simple product can now be found in most grocery stores across the United States.
The story of Hydrox would be classified as a massive success if it were not for something that happened in 1912. That year a competitor entered the cookie world with what appears to be an imitation of their product. The new company was named Oreo.
Over time, the Oreo became the favorite for several reasons, and Hydrox went from being a leader in their industry to being considered an off-brand Oreo. It is the generic Oreo with a less sweet filling and a harder cookie. The story of the Hydrox cookie is one that goes from a solid start to a joke over time.
Several years ago, I started a new Church. We began in a dynamic fashion. A group of people who desired to do something great for God. There was prayer, sacrificial giving, selfless service, and a strong sense of community. This is the story of almost all new Churches when they share their story. A group of deeply committed believers stepping out in faith and forming a Church.
Then over time, something happens. The people lose their drive to make an impact. The group settles into complacency. Innovation, creativity, and risky faith are lost. Soon everyone is content to just have Church as usual. The group is a sort of generic Church that drifts out of the center of the local community.
I want an Oreo Church, not Hydrox.
There are two groups of people who will ask you for help.
The first group is those who always ask for assistance. They are constantly struggling. Perhaps they have never been able to live another way. Maybe it is because they like the attention it brings. There are people we know who will always have needs.
The second group is those who only ask because they are desperate. They genuinely need help, but they absolutely hate to ask for it. Perhaps they see asking for assistance as a sign of weakness. Maybe other people have failed them, and they do not want to rely on anyone again. Some people really need help but are the last people to ask.
One challenge as a Christian is to figure out what type of person you are dealing with and act accordingly.