I have a box full of supplies I purchased on clearance. I thought they would be perfect for the job, but I discovered after several attempts they were inadequate for my purpose. So now the box sits on the shelf staring at me every time I go into my storage area. Each time I see it, I think, just maybe, there is something I can do with that stuff.
Recently I stood there and thought, it is time to admit I made a mistake and move on with my life. I need to take that stuff and put it on Facebook marketplace or possibly give it to someone else who might be able to use it.
It was then that I realized how difficult it can be to simply admit you made a mistake and move on, even with a box of junk. That would mean admitting I wasted money and time. It would also mean I wasn’t as bright as I wanted people to think. It means admitting defeat.
If that is how people think over a box of cheap materials, imagine how hard it is to admit we were wrong in some critical arena of life?
Often, one of the most freeing activities in which we can participate is admitting we were wrong, throwing away the junk of our lives, and moving forward into something better. However, every time I see that box, I realize it is much easier said than done.
Sometimes I like to give some practical teaching that is nothing overly spiritual. Today’s topic is also one of the biggest things I have to explain every summer – especially at Church.
In a home or church building, an air conditioner only blows out the cold air at one temperature.
Let me explain further. If there are several people in a room and the temperature goes up from 72 degrees to 74, and you want it to be a comfortable 71 degrees in the room – turning the thermostat number to 62 degrees does NOT make it any colder any faster. The air conditioner did not suddenly start blowing out air that was 62 degrees.
When you adjust the temperature in your car, it has the ability to add a little heat to make the air come out at your desired temperature, so turning it down will get it to the coldest setting. Your house simply blows air in at the coldest setting all the time. It is not like your car! When it is set at 71 degrees and gets to 73, it blows out the coldest air until it reaches 70 and shuts off. If you want a room to be at a specific temperature, set it at the desired number and walk away.
If you want to make your Pastor or maintenance man or spouse happy. Please do not turn the thermostat way down – EVER! Because when the event is over, you will forget, and the system will run for hours and hours after you are gone to get the room down to 60 degrees before it shuts off. Then electricity is wasted, bills go up, and the room will be too cold for the next group to use.
If you do not understand anything I have just written, please never touch a thermostat, especially at Church.
The time before and after worship is crucial to your spiritual growth.
The auditorium is where we spend time worshipping God, and the lobby is where we build relationships with people.
The call of faith is to love God and love other people. The Church building is designed to help you in both of those endeavors.
There is only one drawback to this system. It requires that people be willing to show up early or stay late. A person must be present in the lobby and have time to shake hands, talk, listen and pray. Often these conversations require people to step into another room so they can have time to cry, pray together and share from the depths of their souls. Other times these interactions are carried over to lunch, where people enjoy fellowship over a meal.
My encouragement to anyone who wants the Church to feel like an extended family is to plan an extra hour every Sunday. Give yourself free time so that you can connect with the other people who attend worship each week. The relationships you start there can grow to be the ones that help guide your life of faith.
Most Church lobbies are too small, including ours, but their impact is anything but insignificant. Numerous great friendships have started with a simple handshake and asking, “What is your name?”
The bush continued to get bigger with every passing year. It had been planted in a small garden space right in front of the house. It looked perfect when it was small. Now that tiny shrub had turned into a small tree filling the garden. The limbs were pressed against the house and had no green sprouts where they touched the brick.
The tree was leaning out into the parking lot. It was planted in the space between the sidewalk and the building to give shade as it grew. Now it was a full-grown tree and was leaning out away from the building as it needed light that was being blocked.
A large but half-dead bush and a tree that will most certainly fall soon because it had grown awkwardly resulted from not having enough room where they were planted.
Whenever you put a seed or small plant, there is the potential for growth. One crucial question is, “Is there adequate room for this?”
This is true with the seeds you plant in your flower garden, walk space, or in the figurative places in your life.
As your business and career grow, do you have enough room in your life for it? As your family grows, have you created enough space for it to grow properly? Will your faith flourish or flounder as it grows?
Too often, we plant seeds that will later die or cause problems because we have not thought through the growth of what we have started. Many things in life will keep growing and growing, whether we like it or not. Planning and thinking through the final result will often keep us from unnecessary pain and frustration.
Sometimes even the best advice does not work.
For years I have heard Christian preachers and teachers say something like, “Don’t go to bed angry.” It is based loosely on Ephesians 4:26, which says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
The advice is to stay up, all night if necessary, to work through your issues. The problem is that sometimes that is horrible advice. The Gottman Institute has spent years researching couples, and some people need a time of “self-soothing” before they can continue in marital conflict. Some people get so overloaded emotionally that they need time to rest, relax and refocus before they can continue handling the conflict in their relationships. Staying up and fighting it out is terrible advice for those people.
Sure, the Biblical instruction sounds like it must be handled immediately, and often it does. But other conflicts take time. So the teaching is more of a figurative, “keep working on it.” Don’t put the difficulties and frustrations in the past without ever closing the loop on your pain. It would be best not to let one season of your life pass without handling your current anger.
As Christians, I hope you both dispense and receive good advice. However, we also need to understand that there is no cookie-cutter approach to life. Every situation is unique, and every person handles issues differently.
While the advice may be good, even the best advice does not always work.
I hate sin. I understand that it separates us from God and other people. It does an incalculable about of damage to our hearts, minds, and souls.
As I bowed my head for communion this past Sunday, I had a simple thought that I could not escape. My sin keeps me coming back to Jesus.
If I came to Jesus with my mess of a life and handed it all to him, and then I was perfect, I am sure I would forget about my need for grace. Instead, each sin I commit drives me to my knees to beg for the forgiveness that only God can provide.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans, “Should we go on sinning that grace may abound? By no means!” We are called to live holy and righteous lives. Each believer is to be sanctified. Life transformation is not optional. But on this journey of faith, anytime you do something that God calls sin, run to Jesus. Allow your failures to move you closer to Jesus instead of pushing you further away. Then maybe you can find a reason to be thankful, even in your sin.
I hated this phrase when I was a child. One day you will understand why boys fall in love.
I hated that phrase as a teenager. One day you will understand what it is like to work every day.
I hated it when I was in college. One day you will understand why things don’t work that way.
I hated it before marriage. One day you will understand how challenging marriage can be for you.
I hated it before children. One day you will know how much of a struggle they can become.
I hated it in every single phase of my life. It sounds condescending. Like there are some things that you only learn with age. I knew I was smart and could read, listen, and learn anything to which I set my mind.
Now that I have grown up, been married a while, raised children, and been a Church leader for my entire adult life, I must admit they were right. You can only learn some things in life through experience, which only comes with age.
If life seems complicated and confusing right now – Keep living for God and doing your best. One day many more things will make sense. God is teaching you the lessons you need to know one season at a time. What is hard to comprehend right now, one day, you will understand.
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.