How Facebook Made Me a Secret Admirer

Do you remember the middle school concept?

When someone left notes in our friend’s locker signed “your secret admirer,” there were usually lines about wanting to know her more or how great she was. We would all embark on a quest to discover the identity of her secret admirer. It was somewhere between inspiringly sweet and super awkward; some unknown person out there really appreciated her.

That’s where I’m at. Somewhere between inspiringly sweet and super awkward.

My Facebook feed features friends, acquaintances, and followers. Over time, I learn about these virtual connections’ lives and character. I promise I don’t go stalking- this stuff shows up on my timeline!

There’s the girl I barely knew, whose friends were friends of my friends. She took a big leap of faith years ago. I am regularly encouraged watching God honor her choice as the story slowly unfolds on my Facebook timeline.

Or there’s the fellow student I loosely associated with as friends overlapped, who I never thought much about at the time. I regularly wish we were closer because as her story slowly unfolds on my Facebook timeline, I so identify with and admire her approach to the challenges and joys she faces.

When I stumble across posts by another friend of a friend I met twice for a few minutes, I sometimes want to leave comments as if we’re good friends ourselves. We’re not. I just love her sweet personality and how she radiates Christ’s love online through everyday life stuff.

I could keep going.

My list of “admireds” is long.

It makes me wonder, on my bravest days, if I should drop a note in their virtual box. If I should walk through the awkward of flattering-creepy and let these people know that the Lord uses their ordinary, everyday Facebook sharing to encourage my heart.

I haven’t decided yet.

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God..png

But I’ll leave this here for all of us admirers and admireds:

When you share online, people notice. Maybe not the people you expect. Maybe without ever commenting or liking. But people notice how you’re living your life. When you’re living it for Him, it’s so obvious. I am awed by our Lord through much of what people share about Him in their daily lives. It’s so powerful…

…Enough to make this shy, awkward, introvert a secret admirer who “thanks the Lord every time I think of you,” courtesy of my Facebook feed.

Facebook might not seem like a place for testimony, but let me tell you, I see God using it for His glory everyday. 

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

Taking Fear Personally

Someone lied to you and you found out. Someone rejected you flat out. Someone ignored you, someone hurt you, someone who was supposed to care for you didn’t.

We all have our someones.

If we’re honest, everyone we know is a someone; everyone gives us cause for suspicion.

I’m not paranoid- many of our fears boil down to a well-founded fact: people aren’t perfect. We have good reason to be afraid as long as people aren’t perfect. Reality reminds us every day.

People misjudge us. People have motives in conflict with our own. People make mistakes. People live outside of our control. People have choices. People are insufficient for us.

This world, likewise, is full of uncertainty and imperfection. Beautiful as it is, the world never works in exactly the way we’d like. It isn’t safe. Predictability is an illusion. Sinkholes open up under safe streets. Lightning strikes people in mild, safe regions.

Fear makes sense.

In Kelly Balarie’s book Fear Fighting, we see this firsthand.

Kelly doesn’t run from fear. She doesn’t ask us to scare ourselves out of feeling it or to grow numb to it.

This is personal for me.

Once upon a time, the unofficial topic of my studies was scaring myself silly about whether or not it was worth it to try to do any good in this world since everything’s broken anyway. I was new to faith and wanted to serve the Lord, but feared failing to honor Him.

An advisor asked me- “Do you believe the Lord can handle anything?” The question stuck.

Through clumsily embarking on a different career path than intended to grouchily moving away from everything I knew to painfully setting boundaries in unhealthy relationships, I found out the Lord could handle imperfect plans, circumstances, and relationships.

He could use the things that hurt me and disappointed me to His glory because His ways are higher (and much better!) than my ways.

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But fear fighting got more personal when I picked up the aptly titled book.

I began to read in words what the Lord has been piecing together in my heart: The Lord can also handle working through and in me.

God can display His power in my obvious weakness.

God can redeem for His good use my meager offerings, insecurities, and insufficiency.

God can rework my fear that imperfection is failure into an awed fear of His perfect work.

Yours’ too.

Fighting fear as God’s own children isn’t a matter of learning to lock our knocking knees or bite our quivering lips. There is no 5-step plan for us to fear failing at. We don’t have to undertake an intimidating process of becoming someone we’re not. Fear isn’t squelched when we muster up the guts to stare it down…but it loses its power over us when we fix our eyes on Him.

We let go of all we are not and see all that God is,” Kelly says. Her proposal is simple: “The Spirit says start. Start fearing God rather than fearing everyone is going to take you down.”*

Kelly knows fear, and she knows we can’t beat it by pretending we can. Instead, she reminds us who can and who has.

Our Savior.

Bravery is fearing God.

bravery-is-fearing-god-1

Bravery is believing Him about all of the implications of who He is. It’s humbling ourselves before Him because we know Him and we want to know Him more. It’s bringing what’s inside of and outside of our control to His throne, imperfection laid bare because His grace is enough.

Choosing to fear the Lord is choosing confidence because of Jesus. Trust because of Jesus. Awe because of Jesus. Hope because of Jesus.

All because the One who is over all is in us, with us, and working through us fearlessly.**

We can take our fears personally to the personal God. Right up close to Him we can fix our eyes on Him. When our fears come into perspective before His greatness, they end up looking much smaller.

Thank you, Lord, for welcoming us to your fearless faithfulness, thank you for being the only way, the truth, and the life for fear fighting, faithful living, and eternal hope. Help us not to seek or fear anything other than your “only.” You are sufficient, amazing, and perfect. What good news for us imperfect people.

*Pg49, Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie
**Ephesians 4:6; Galatians 2:20
Kelly shares regular encouragement on her blog, Purposeful Faith. Her first book, Fear Fighting, is available beginning January 3rd, 2017. She’s been an example to me and a kind friend for a couple of years now, and I’m so grateful to share her book with you. The Lord has strengthened me through it and I hope He will you too!

{Please note this post is entered into Kelly’s contest. You can vote here for this or another post entered. You can also enter the contest yourself! This post is number 15 if you’d like to vote for it!}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.
This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Deja Vu and Milestone Moments

You’re sitting on the side of the road in your car. It’s just broken down. As you sit and wait for the tow, you think of all the mess of your life of late. The list of complaints is probably long.

Then you remember the last time your car broke down. It almost feels like Deja-vu, as the same worries and fears flood your mind again. The stress subsides quickly however; you recall how God provided last time. You wake up to His presence.

Taking a step back, you praise the Lord for a reminder of His faithfulness. It’s amazing how He uses even unfortunate circumstances to point us (over and over!) to Himself.

We all have moments like this. Our Lord uses parallel circumstances to remind us of His character and to reinforce His work in us. “Deja-vu” moments can be spiritual milestones marking God-defining moments.

Two Biblical examples of such milestones come to mind.

1. David, the Chased


Shortly after encountering David early in 1 Samuel, we learn that he had to flee from the king he served. King Saul, fearful of David’s popularity and might, was intent on killing him. So began David’s ministry as a public figure elected by God. A number of Psalms outline David’s learning to rely on the Lord for his deliverance and future, though enemies persecuted him (See Psalms 7, 27, and 53 for example).

Eventually, David became king. He was referred to as “the man after God’s own heart”. His reign was marked by extreme prosperity and rampant popularity. Over time, David committed prideful, bold sin. His family found itself in turmoil in more than one circumstance.

Then, David was chased again. His own son, Absalom, had decided he would take the throne and kill David to gain rule over the kingdom.

On the run again, David was reminded of the difficulty of being personally persecuted and betrayed. In the parallel circumstance, God reinforced David’s need for reliance on God and God’s own reliability.

Psalm 3:3 highlights David’s choice to again trust in the Lord in his difficulty: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

2. Peter, The Fisher of Men


When Peter became a disciple of Jesus, he was a fisherman out on a boat, having poor luck. He obeyed Jesus’ strange command to let down the net on the other side of the boat. Catching an abundance immediately, Peter was amazed. He committed to following Jesus. Christ told Peter he would make him a “fisher of men” (Mark 1:17).

From then on, Peter was a disciple. He was zealous, even to a fault. Come Jesus’ shocking arrest, however, Peter did the very thing he swore he’d never do: he denied his Lord and Savior -three times! Ashamed, Peter continued to seek God in his failure. He was around to discover that Jesus was raised from the dead, for example.

One day after the resurrection, Peter had Deja-vu. Out fishing and having poor luck, a man showed up on shore. The man suggested exactly what Jesus had those years before: try the other side. Up came a ton of fish. John recognized what was happening, and as soon as he told Peter, the ever-excited disciple ran to Jesus (John 21.)

It was then that Jesus reinforced Peter’s calling, even charging Peter with being a shepherd for His human-flock.


For both these men, God used a “Deja-vu,” or parallel, experience, to reinforce truth about His own character and His work in their hearts.

As we encounter situations and circumstances, like sitting on the side of the road when our car breaks down (again,) we might find that God is reminding us that “the Lord plans our steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

We sometimes find ourselves “back” in moments that have proven to be significant in our spiritual development.

When there, we are blessed to remember who it is that guides us, and how surely He is at work in this world, regardless of all that tries to distract us from His glorious presence.

{This post was originally published on My Faith Radio}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Is Christmas Biblical?

“Celebrate annually the coming of Christ. Make it a time of beauty, family, and tradition. Put up lights and a tree. Watch many movies. Gorge yourself on treats. Be happy every day of the season. In so doing, you will glorify the Lord.”

– 1 Snickerdoodle 3 (AKA not in the Bible!)

The Bible never tells us to celebrate Christmas. In fact, Scripture warns us about traditions like celebrating holidays. “For the sake of your tradition (you have) made void the word of God” (Matthew 15:6). In another verse, the Bible references “hollow traditions.”

How many of those do we have?

Christmas is full of traditions that have very little to do with God. Few of us can connect Christmas trees to Christ. Fewer the concept of decorating gingerbread houses or dressing up in fancy outfits to attend parties blaring music about Rudolph and Santa.

Does that mean celebrating Christmas is unbiblical?

Probably not.

God offers plenty of examples of commanding, embracing, and rejoicing over celebrations.

Whether or not the celebration of Christmas is biblical has a lot to do with how and why we celebrate –and even more to do with what’s in our hearts.

jesus-didnt-have-one-of-these-should-we

Some of the main hallmarks of traditional Christmases are Biblical, but we must be careful.

  1. The Spirit of Giving

God loves a cheerful giver” –2 Corinthians 9:7

Gifts are one of the first things that most people think of when they think of Christmas. In Scripture, we find the ultimate example of giving. Christ, in coming to save us, gave Himself up for us. God, in sending Christ, gave His only son to save us.

All throughout Scripture we find examples of giving. God gives good gifts. Christ gives peace and joy. We are encouraged to give with the understanding that all that we are and all that we have is Christ’s. It’s a joy to give of His plenty and in His love!

The Risk: For many, Christmas gifts are about getting. For many others, gifts are stressful, accompanied by the frustration of selection and people-pleasing. Over-spending also undermines the “cheerful” part of what makes this part of Christmas at all Biblical.

  1. The Celebration of Christ’s Coming

“Celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” –Psalm 145:7

Christmas, when it comes down to it, is a celebration of Christ’s coming! This whole time of festivity and adornment and gathering is in His name. It is to be a time of praising Him and beholding in wonder all that He has done, is doing, and will do.

Some of us praise Him with lights that shine like He does. Others by baking cookies as sweet as His kindness while enjoying the company of people He’s given them. Make the connection between these joyful traditions and the joy of our Savior.

The Risk: Christ often gets only an “honorable mention” around the massive celebration of His birth. Much of the celebrating- many decorations, traditions, songs, etc., have nothing to do with Him. That’s fine. Not everything we do needs to be deeply impactful. But we must be careful not to miss the point. That means prioritizing accordingly and not focusing on the world’s offerings above our awe of the Lord.

  1. The Gathering of Loved Ones

“Love one another with brotherly affection” Romans 12:10

The true Gospel of Scripture is as personal as it is corporate. We are all loved by Christ, and we are all precious to Christ. There is no division in the body of Christ, but the unity of love. Christmas is a time of gathering with loved ones to praise Him with those in the body and point those who are not to the One eager to welcome them with open arms and make them new.

The Risk: All too many a Christmas gathering is obligatory and exclusive. Many of us take the social aspect of Christmas for granted, settling for fun, comfortable, and casual. We neglect to realize the significance of sharing His love with those who are familiar and unfamiliar. We must not turn from God’s desire for us to make the most of every opportunity and to build one another up.


Of all times of the year to be living for Christ’s glory, Christmas offers a special opportunity to rejoice in and serve the Lord.

Celebrating Christmas Biblically means celebrating it as those sustained, filled, and loved by the One we celebrate. Watch out for the easy pitfalls that turn the celebration into less than it truly is.

Lord- let us mind our hearts while we celebrate yours! 

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Waiting Isn’t Passive

Our days and lives are filled with waiting. For good, for bad, for new, for people, for change. Waiting is a God-designed practice.

However, as the worn, torn magazines in waiting rooms around the world can attest, patience in the waiting isn’t a natural virtue.

Waiting makes some of us crazy.

In fact, I’m pretty sure if God wanted to test us before we entered heaven to see how much we learned on earth, my exam would be “Sit right here. He’ll call you when He’s ready.”

I’d be pacing the clouds, trying to get through to the Lord via the prayer line: “Hello God. You brought me here. This is the appointment you set. How is it you are not on time?!”

What maddens me most about waiting is the helpless feeling of having no control over what’s going on. Waiting seems passive, and I am not passive.

Truthfully though, waiting isn’t a passive process.

Much like active listening, active waiting is a participatory activity.

Active waiting looks like this:

  • Preparing
  • Anticipating
  • Hoping
  • Being brave and courageous
  • Watching

These are words God features in His Word. They are spoken by God in reference to His call to wait.

With a brief look at what God says about waiting, I’m finding the idea “godly waiting” means sitting quietly doing nothing while completely at peace is just plain wrong.

We shouldn’t wait on the Lord feigning patience.

We can actively wait, participating as God does with a patience that anticipates.

His example of waiting isn’t glamorous or easy, but it’s clear:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9

the-lord-is-not-slow-in-keeping-his-promise-as-some-understand-slowness-instead-he-is-patient-with-you-not-wanting-anyone-to-perish-but-everyone-to-come-to-repentance-2-peter-3

Waiting isn’t about speed or suffering, but being purposeful.

God’s waiting is done with the perfect, purposeful patience of One who knows the wait is worth it.

God believes you and I are worth waiting for- that all people still coming to repentance are worth the wait.

In waiting, He does not sit idly by. He exposes our need for repentance and brings us to it. He offers forgiveness. He enjoys transforming every person up until the last one He is waiting on.

With God, waiting isn’t about the end, but about the beginning.

We wait as those preparing, anticipating, hoping, being brave, and watching carefully because there are new beginnings brought about by the Lord Himself.

It doesn’t matter if you’re waiting on good news or bad. Whether you’re waiting for dreams to be realized or simply for something to change. Maybe you feel all that’s left to wait for is an end of some sort.

Wait assured: God has a beginning ready for you and your “not yet” time is not a wasted time. Instead, your waiting is participation in God’s plan for your life. No sitting on hands required- they have a big job to do praying. No self-muttering needed- you have Someone waiting with you.

He’s demonstrated it for all of time to know: waiting is a purposeful place of peace, joy, and growth for the faithful.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Lie 8: Sin Should Be Left In The Dark

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the whole series here.)

We don’t like to look sin in the face and see it for what it is.

We’re tempted by it, yes. We have a propensity for it, yes. But we really hate to face it.

I remember one of the first times I did.

Case Study: The Christian Who Didn’t Need Saving

Early in our relationship, my husband and I kicked back in campus center arm chairs and slipped into conversation about God. I wasn’t saved, but as best I knew, I was a Christian.

My understanding of sin was wrapped in false humility and security. It was boxed in liturgical or experiential confession. My sin content was stuffed, I believed, with mere mistakes and results of others’ crimes against me. I kept it hidden behind my good deeds and spiritual talk.

But my then-boyfriend went digging. He showed me his sin stuff. With a big smile on his face, I remember him pointing to the floor like his sin was laid bare there. Then he pointed up and told me to understand the heights of Christ’s love and forgiveness meant understanding the depths of sin.

He didn’t ask me to expose my secret stash to him, but he demonstrated a reason compelling me to expose it to God.

Bringing sin into the light of Christ shows us what we are saved from, and by whom. It’s a glorious, relieving, revitalizing exposition. 

To keep sin in the dark, once a believer, is a bit like sitting in a hospital after surgery pretending you have no wound, no treatment to complete, no therapy to continue to work through.

Though the problem is taken care of, the effects are still to be dealt with. The wound needs to be seen, addressed, and cared for. It’s in the hard work of tending to exposed weakness that we heal.

That’s what bringing sin out of the dark into Christ’s light is all about: healing.

Believers still have mess and hurt and sin to face. But in all our still present darkness and pain, we also know the light, the healer. We know Him, and we know the warmth of His illumination- even in the cold of sin.

Saved sin is safely in the care of Christ.

But Saved sinners still need the care of Christ.

saved-sin-is-safely-in-the-care-of-christ-but-saved-sinners-still-need-the-care-of-christ

In Charles Spurgeon’s words:

“We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also…We have a strong argument to plead, for it is His own work of grace that we ask Him to strengthen—‘the power . . . by which you have worked for us.’ Do you think He will fail to protect and provide that?

There’s a reason He sent the Holy Spirit to help believers. Saved sinners still need God. In them, with them, every day.

Now forevermore reconciled to God, believers can be unhindered by shame and the bounds of saved sin. Believers can enjoy fellowship with God, stewarding their lives as those abiding in Him.

Through abiding, even addressing and confessing to God our saved sin, we “walk in the light” of Christ.

In the light, we can “have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7.)

but-if-we-walk-in-the-light-as-he-is-in-the-light-we-have-fellowship-with-one-another-and-the-blood-of-jesus-his-son-purifies-us-from-allb-sin-1

Sin thrives in the dark.

Come into the light where Christ is, where sin is forgiven, shame is disintegrated, and facing the truth means looking full in the face of our loving Savior.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Marital Spats and God’s Plan (Giveaway)

**Giveaway details at the end of the post!**

The day our premarital counseling workbook began addressing arguments, my husband and I were relieved. We have always been really good at arguing. It’s one of our unexpected spiritual gifts (ha!) We even told the pastor counseling us.

He was surprised.

Apparently, most couples get married believing they’ll always just get along or are caught up in love to the point that arguing has yet to cross their minds.

Not us. The Lord uniquely blessed us with plenty of practice disagreeing early on.

I mean it. The Lord gifted us with arguments.

My husband and I learned from the Lord Himself to argue well and to resolve issues to His glory. We have been taught to fight- for each other. The Lord has allowed us to experience strife- teaching us to strive to discern the Lord’s will despite our own propensities for sin.

Arguing can be to God’s glory too.

When we learn to disagree in a godly way, we learn to work in unity with the Lord to live according to His will. 

That’s what The Blessings of Unity by Richard Case is about. I really enjoyed the book’s no-nonsense approach to the topic.

Married to Linda for more than 45 years, Case offers Biblical insight into one of God’s primary commands for husbands and wives: to cleave to one another. Case puts the command in context: not only is cleaving in marriage important, but it is also part of the unity of the body of Christ.

As Case says on page 35, “unity is brought about by our desire to pursue God.” We ought to seek this sort of unity in Christ’s body as the church and as couples.

The Blessings of Unity provides comprehensive Bible study examining several angles and forms of unity. I’ve never encountered a topical marriage book so structured around passages of Scripture.

Each chapter addresses challenges and strategies for unity in the context of living by God’s Word.

Being aligned with the Holy Spirit is another main theme throughout The Blessings of Unity. Case explains: “The same one Holy Spirit in me is also in my spouse…our decisions can always go to unity with the Spirit when we are willing to hear what the Spirit has to say” (pg 42.)

Insightful points like these are packed in tightly.

If there is a criticism of this book, it is also a warning: The book is dense to the point of disorganization. You will find extensive, helpful, Biblical truth throughout, but you will have to work to put it all together in a memorable format for yourself.

I imagine spouses would benefit from reading the book individually and discussing it informally, as it’s not clearly organized for shared study. Retreat or study leaders are also likely to find essential truth in The Blessings of Unity, but should expect to create their own more organized materials for teaching and discussion.

Certainly useful and supported by substantial Bible lessons, The Blessings of Unity is an important reference guide for those involved personally or professionally in the work of more faithfully pursuing God through marital relationships.

Find a copy here.


GIVEAWAY of THE BLESSINGS OF UNITY:

  1. Leave a comment on this blog post
  2. Be sure to include your email address in the private form for commenting
  3. Comment by 11pm EST Monday, November 21st.
  4. I’ll randomly select a winner on Tuesday, November 22nd and notify you by email if you won! You will then receive a free copy in the mail. 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


BONUS GIVEAWAY: All For Jesus eBook

If you’d like a practical 6-page eBook on living an unshakable life, you can grab it here.


This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Lie 6: Some Sin Doesn’t Count

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the whole series here.)

We like to restrict God’s definition of sin to make it more manageable.

God doesn’t define sin manageable as just “doing bad stuff,” or “making mistakes.” God says sin is a condition we’re born into. Scripture uses words like infection and impurity to describe how sin permeates not only us, but the world we live in (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 8:22.)

We minimize sin when we act like it’s a condition we can keep under control.

The lie goes like this:

This particular sin isn’t that bad, it doesn’t count.

But in truth, all sin is an offense to God, which damages, if nothing else, our walk with Him.

Often the sins we don’t really “count” are those with subtle or unseen consequences. We figure sin is only really bad if someone gets hurt.

On the flipside of that logic, we believe avoiding the temptation to sin should be profitable for us.

We end up repeating the words Elihu warns against in Job 35:3:

“You ask him, ‘What profit is it to me,

and what do I gain by not sinning?’”

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When we think like this about sin and what counts as sin, we put a price on righteousness. We value honoring God based on the scales of self.

Case Study: Little White Lies

God says we never have to sin and never ought to.

Yet we are all tempted to tell white lies. They smooth things over, make people feel good, and prevent discomfort.

Essentially, telling a little white lie tends to gain us a whole lot more than being honest appears to.  So we value the self-benefit over the God-honoring truth.

Along the way, we often figure white lies hardly count. After all, we’ve appraised them as such.

Honoring God isn’t about our gain, but His. His appraisal of sin is more important than our valuation of the benefits of doing right or wrong. 

Imagine if Jesus acted as we do! It’s sobering to imagine Jesus diminishing “little sins” and “not counting them” because their consequences aren’t “that bad.”

1 John 1:9 shows us Jesus did not have an attitude of belittling sin.

Rather, Jesus addressed sin head on and with complete assurance:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.png

Would we want Jesus to “miss a spot” when He cleanses us? Would we want to settle for “only” the important parts being redeemed?

Jesus takes stock of our every sin, even the ones we wish didn’t count. He appraises them with just a glance: sin = needs cleansing. Then He turns them all white as snow.

Jesus isn’t satisfied to get us mostly clean. He isn’t one to “miss a spot.”

We have no reason to think He ought to. His cleansing is more than enough, and His grace is sufficient.

Even the “little” sins that hardly seem to count are important enough to Christ for Him to save us from them. He transforms the worst and the “not so bad” into the best for God’s glory.

Let your sin, glaring and subtle, be seen by the One eager to forgive and redeem.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Lie 5: Your Sin Isn’t Your Fault

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the rest here.)

We like to dismiss our sins as being someone else’s fault.

After all, so many sins are committed against every one of us. Every marriage between two sinners has hurts due to sin. Children suffer the natural consequences of their parents’ sins. It’s not hard to accurately blame others for hurting us, misleading us, and tempting us to our own sins.

But we must be careful.

To keep us from facing our own sin, evil deceitfully redirects us to others’ sins.

Yet each of us will give a personal account to God (Romans 14:12.)

We will not be held accountable for the sins committed against us, but we are responsible for the sins we commit in response. It’s important to spot the difference.

The issues we face when we fail to recognize our own responsibility for sin include:

  • A lack of knowing who to or how to forgive
  • Refusing to change though Christ has made the way
  • Excusing our sins instead of asking forgiveness
  • Maintaining only a narrow view of God’s grace
  • Resisting transformation by our Lord

Not only do we tend to remain in the bonds of sin when we cast the blame on others’ issues and ignore our own, but we also perpetuate our own sin.

Case Study: Anxiety

A parent constantly belittling a child can do great harm. It’s not surprising when children who are mistreated like this grow up to be anxious as they question their worth and abilities.

God will hold parents who mistreat their children accountable.

Likewise, believers whose anxieties direct their steps, even if their anxiety is rooted in childhood maltreatment, will also be held accountable. We are not on the hook for a parent’s mistreatment, nor for reacting as a human does. But we are responsible for sinning against God ourselves by letting anxiety be a master.

Understanding what we are accountable for is essential for dealing with sin effectively.

To excuse sin on the basis of victimization is to make too little of God -and too much of the power of sins committed against us.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness-2 Corinthians 12:9

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Sins we commit because of sins committed against us are a picture of the weakness Paul refers to.

It wasn’t Paul who put the thorn in his own side. But it was Paul who had the choice to lean, aching, into the sufficiency of the grace of God instead of choosing to act out of his hurt.

That’s what we’re accountable for regarding sin- our thoughts, our attitudes, our choices. What we begin, and what we perpetuate.

Scripture tells us God holds us accountable for our hidden faults, the sins we have trouble discerning in ourselves (Psalm 19:12.)

God divides soul and spirit, He alone “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12.)

The truth is intimidating. We truly are without excuse.

Sin really is a choice we each make,

not something we can pass off as someone else’s fault.

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Praise the Lord we aren’t stuck in judgement. We know the verdict.

Taking responsibility for our sin gives us the ownership needed to bring it before Christ and be forgiven. Taking responsibility for what we can control -us- is a sure way to the grace of God.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,” Hebrews 4:16 continues.

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We don’t approach with confidence because we are faultless, victimized, or progressing well in the sanctification process.

No, we approach God’s throne with confidence because of who He is, knowing that He who holds us perfectly accountable through Christ also intends for us to: “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

When the temptation is tied to things that aren’t our fault, it’s hard to step up and say “no.” Sin tempts us at our weakest.

Praise the Lord- He breaks the chains that tell us someone else decided for us. Because of Christ, it’s never too late to be free to live assured in Him!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Lie 3: Sin Defines You

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Join me in exposing sin’s lies to God’s Word in this 8 part series.)

We more or less have a Sunday School answer memorized to counteract this lie: Christ defines who I am.

But when it comes it to living it- predisposition often wins.

Predisposition is a subtle form of deceit. It preys on our tendencies, including the tendency to believe that what is is all that will be. Not only do we fear change, we reject the notion it’s really possible.

So the lie forms and we believe it: my sin defines me.

Meanwhile, God says we have the option to be transformed.

Take back the truth.

We are born into sin, but through Christ we can be born again- out of sin.

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There’s no need to keep reliving old sins as if they are more powerful than the salvation Christ has given you.

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Case Study: Shame

The consequences David faced for His sin were dire-a beloved son died. A nation saw their king’s shame.  His circumstances were (publicly!) defined by a sinful choice he had made.

But David knew he still had a choice. He took control over what he still had control: his next choice. To sin or not to sin. To continue in his shame, allowing it to define Him, or turn to God for renewal and restoration.

Choosing to turn to God, David responded with the words of Psalm 51:10:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
     and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

You and I can’t get clean on our own. We can’t redefine ourselves using our own sin-stained hands. 

Sin will continue to follow us around, slinging mud, calling us dirty, claiming us as its own. When we make a mess trying to “redefine” ourselves, sin only seems all the more irremovable.

But God.

Who can cleanse us from our sin?

Who can make us whole again?

Who can clothe us, dressing us in white?

None but Christ.

Asking God to define our identities for us means telling sin it doesn’t have the authority to make our next choices for us. Exposing the lie that sin defines us requires immovable faith in a Sunday School answer:

Christ alone has the power to not only wash our hearts clean, but give us new hearts. Christ alone redefines us, predisposing us to stainlessness instead of sin.   

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…looking for your thoughts to add to the Sin Lies Series!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.