Just Say No

I read her book. She was taught right from wrong. And she followed biblical principles. Life was good. But one bad decision led to another bad decision. Her life began to spiral downward. Then one night, she found herself making a decision to do something she knew was wrong. But oh. It felt so right. In the moment, it felt so right. So she did it.

Now she thinks nothing of doing that thing which once seemed so wrong. The thing she once would have never done, she began doing in secret. Now it’s her lifestyle. She’s living a life she once vowed never to live.

Just because something feels right in the moment doesn’t make it right. It’s easy to ignore a prick of the conscience in the moment. It’s the later regrets that are harder to set aside. The self chiding. The self inflicted shame and loathing. But then it’s too late to go back and undo what’s been. It’s too late to unsay those words. 

So why do it? Why say it? Those things that will later become regrets. Why not turn from them while there’s still time? Why not live so close to God that you immediately turn the other way when sin approaches? Just because you hear a knock on the door doesn’t mean you have to answer it. 

Oh. It’s true. We’re human. We’re going to mess up from time to time. We’re going to fall short of our goal. But if we habitually do it, that tells another story.  


You have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. Romans 8:12


How do we go wrong? How do we suddenly choose to go to the other side? How do we wake up one day and realize we’re in a place we thought we would never be? How did we get there? Oh. It isn’t a sudden choice. We let down our defenses. We lower our standards. We stop looking to the One who guides us.

How does a believer stay true to their beliefs when opportunities to choose another path surround us?

I ask because I want to make sure I’m always listening for God’s voice. Oh. Sometimes He leads me in paths that are not my choosing. But I must follow the path He chooses. Or else I would be sinning.

Even Jesus was tempted by Satan.  Satan tried to woo him away from his beliefs, but Jesus’ faith held strong. Satan tempted Jesus when he was physically weak from fasting. But he had the inner strength to resist.  He said no.  He quoted Scripture to Satan and resisted. We can do the same when Satan tries to tempt us to do wrong.  to step out of the will of God.  We can resist.  We can turn Satan away by quoting Scripture and telling him to leave. We can stand firm in our faith.  

Disobedience to God doesn’t always have to be some big ugly public act. It may be an act of private defiance or selfishness that only God sees. A work of the inner heart. Going when God says stay. Or staying when God says go. It doesn’t have to be a sin that puts you in the public eye.

Discontentment sets in where peace once reigned. All because the grass looked greener on the other side. Or perhaps wanting became a hot pursuit in a never ending cycle. And we couldn’t stop with what we had. A little more was never enough. Or living on the edge is more exciting than obedience. 

We can’t have it both ways. Either we’re pursuing a holy life or we’re not. Which is it?

At some point, we have to ask ourselves. Am I living in the grip of sin? I don’t want to. I know that. But how do I make sure I’m always out of sin’s beck and call? John Piper says that fighting sin is mortal combat. I agree. We’re in a fight for our souls. We’re not fighting flesh and blood. We’re fighting against evil rulers of the unseen world. Oh. It may seem that we’re fighting individuals, at times. But really. It’s a spiritual battle. The truth is. If we’re living as believers, we are not at sin’s beck and call. We can say no.

Flu Season

Have you heard?  It’s flu season.  And this year.  This year the flu is bad.  People are dying.  Children.  Moms.  Old people.  It can strike anyone at any time.  Oh.  There are warnings.  Wash your hands.  Get the flu shot.  Stay home if you’re sick.  But not everyone heeds the warnings.

This is the worst flu season in almost a decade.  It’s not an epidemic.  But almost. That’s what they say.  Oh.  There have been other illnesses and plagues that have been worse.  Much worse.  But it seems when the dying season is upon us it feels worse than ever.  And it’s not even peak flu season yet.   Medical experts are predicting this to be the worst flu season in history.  It’s being compared to a plague of locusts devastating crops from coast to coast.  This flu is called H3N2.

Swine Flu.  Polio.  AIDS.  Smallpox.  Bubonic Plague.  Spanish Flu.  Tuberculosis.  Malaria.  Cholera.  Ebola.

Some of these diseases have been eradicated.  Some are now treatable.  All are to be avoided.  Each one has wreaked havoc across many nations and homes.  There have been casualties.  There have been survivors.  All have a story to tell.


For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23


There is another disease that’s wreaking havoc all over the world.  Oh.  I dare to call it an epidemic.  Some don’t want to give it a name.  Others call the name to its face.  This disease has many and various symptoms.  It can seem to be in remission and then return.  It can be eradicated once and for all.  If treated properly.

The thing is.  Everyone is born with this disease.  It shows its face early in life.  One never knows when it will become full blown.  It’s different for everyone.  But it will erupt.  It will cause death.  It must be treated.

Some have symptoms of rebellion.  Others are prone to lying.  Or stealing.  Or cheating.  Stubbornness.  Gluttony.  Unfaithfulness.  Murder.  Worshiping false gods.  Disobedience.  The list goes on.

Here’s the thing.  Each symptom has the same underlying cause.  And each symptom has the same cure.  There are differences in every case.  It depends on how long and how deeply rooted the disease has been working.  It’s an internal disease with both internal and external consequences.  Some consequences come at a huge cost.  Others aren’t so public.  They both lead to the same death.  If the cure isn’t applied.

Some take to the cure more easily than others.  Some fight it.  And they fight it hard.  Sometimes their entire life.  Until it’s too late.  And they miss out on the cure of a lifetime.  Those who accept the cure must be diligent about the continual battle.  The disease can recur.  If it does, it can be even harder to eliminate.  But it’s always possible to beat this disease.  Always.

The cure.  It’s very personal.  It’s free. And it’s immediate.  It’s always available.  This pharmacy is never closed.  It isn’t to be taken lightly.  It’s a private act.  Once the cure is applied, the patient is encouraged to share it with others who have the disease.  It’s that treatable.

The disease.  Sin.  The cure.  Salvation.

 

 

Humbled Pilgrims

The driving conditions are treacherous.  The weather is hazardous.  The office is open.  I must make an effort.

Chemically wet roads.  Black ice.  Falling snow.  Cold weather.  The combination makes the dark morning even more ominous.  And it’s Monday.

Snow trucks are plowing the roads.  Drivers must be cautious.  The going is slow.  Some drivers are overly cautious.  Going 25 miles per hour under the speed limit.  All cars behind the slow leader are anxious.  Knowing they need to go slow.  But also knowing that too much caution causes others to take unnecessary chances.  Who is to blame?  Mother Nature?  It is winter.  After all.

Use caution on overhead bridges.  We’re told.  Slow down going around tight curves.  Watch the tire pressure.  Make sure the windshield is clear.  Pay close attention to other drivers.  Have food and water in the car.  Pack blankets.  All good advice.

The storm passes.  Days go by.  The big one is coming.  Snowpocalypse.  They’re calling it.  Snowmageddon.  How bad will it be?   How much snow will fall?  Will ice be packed under the snow?  Do we hunker down and wait it out?  Or do we venture out?  Stay home unless you have to go out.  That’s what we’re told.


Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.  Hebrews 2:12-14


We’re all travelling the road of life.  Some of us have been travelling it for oh so many years.  Many others are just a few short years into the journey.  It is a series of treacherous paths.  Oh.  Not all paths are hazardous, but many are.  One wrong turn.  One bad decision.  One poorly timed word.  One distraction.  It can throw life into a whirlwind of unexpected events and consequences.  Possibly never going back to what we knew as normal.

I think of King David.  Man of God. Loved by his people.  He caught a glimpse of a married woman bathing in private.  The glimpse turned to lust.  Her husband was off to war.  He would never know.  So David claimed her as his own.  She became pregnant.  The husband, a great warrior, was killed on the front lines. God brought judgment.  The baby died.  David repented.  God forgave and restored.

I think of another man who made a private decision to sin.  The result became very public.  When asked about it.  And he was always asked.  He had to tell what he had done.  He had to admit that the private act caused a public display.  As he would tell the story, it would become obvious what he had done.  That he had sinned.  He was sorry.  He was repentant.  He was humiliated.  This one act impacted him for the rest of his life.

Sin is deceitful.  It looks attractive.  It sounds beautiful.  It tastes good.  It feels good.  Until it’s over.  Until the deed is done.  Until the word is said.  Then the truth comes out.  Feelings of being used.  Feelings of regret.  Feeling ugly and unloved.  Feeling that the world will learn or see what you’ve done and will no longer accept you.  It’s hard to accept yourself.  How will others see you?

We pilgrims walk this road called life.  We must pay close attention.  Use caution.  Think things through.  We must be on guard and not get caught up in sin.  We must walk the slippery road with the guide book in hand.  We must study that guide book to know the way we should take.  It will direct us down the right path.  The path to eternal life.

 

 

 

God Have Mercy

It’s all over the news.  Hugh Hefner died.  Natural causes.  We know how he lived.  We know what he stood for.  We know what his god was.  What we don’t know is if he ever confessed his sins and became a Christ-follower.  Oh.  It could have happened.  On his deathbed, he could have called out to God and asked for forgiveness.  He could have asked God to have mercy on his soul.

After all.  He was a pimp and a pornographer.  That’s what I read this week.  His goal was to change the world’s view of pre-marital sex.  He accomplished that.  Is that even an accomplishment?  God is his judge.  And he has been judged.  Hugh Hefner is in eternity.  Right now. Forever.  He misguided far too many people down a seemingly attractive fun-filled road.  He may be paying for that right now.  He may be paying forever.

I’ve read several articles and heard news reports about his life.  Some applauded him.  He encouraged people to live their dreams.  To disobey God’s commands of purity and faithfulness.  Why did he do it?  Oh, he was raised in a conservative home where values were taught.  He felt he had been repressed as a child.  He rebelled.  He decided to forsake the teaching of his parents.

He was pronounced a stunning success.  Progressive.  Revolutionary.  An architect of the sexual revolution.

The thing is.  God loves Hugh Hefner.  God created him.  He knew Hugh Hefner before he was even born.  He even knew what Hugh would do on this earth.  He still loved him.  He loved Hugh so much that he died for him.  He had plans for the man.  Plans that never materialized.  Not by Hugh Hefner.  Perhaps God had to find someone else to achieve what Hugh Hefner would have had he not lusted after sin.

All we can hope now is that God has mercy on Hugh Hefner.


As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  Revelation 3:19-20


I’ve never started a revolution.  I’ve never created an empire.  I’m not a pimp or a pornographer.  But I have sinned.  I think of the times this past week when my attitude was bent way out of shape. I think of how my negativity could start a revolution of sorts.  I think of how my frustrations led me to say things I can’t take back.

Too often lately, I find myself leaning toward the negative side of things.  I’d like to blame it on the actions and intentions of others.  But deep down, I know I can do better.  Sure, it’s easy to get frustrated.  No one is perfect.

Frustration.  Negativity.  Annoyance.  Bitterness.  Aggravation.

Why is that the first place my mind goes?  I work for God. I live for God. Why don’t I act like it?  Why am I such a failure at this? How does a person stay positive in a negative world?

I can’t help myself.  Or can I? Sometimes I think I enjoy being negative. Sometimes I want to lash out. Sometimes I want to get even.  If I do, though, then I feel foolish.  Immature.  Petty.  Unchristian.  I feel like a failure. Being negative isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Being human is tough. We were made in God’s image. Why is it so hard to be like him? Why do I fail so often? Will l I ever get it right? I hope he sees that I’m trying.

I’m no Hugh Hefner. But I am a sinner. In God’s eyes, sin is sin. Oh. Some may say there are degrees of sins. I don’t know.  Some may say there are different levels of hell.  I don’t know.  What I know is that sin is sin.  If I disobey God, then I’ve sinned.  The Bible says that everyone has sinned.  Everyone has fallen short of God’s plan.  You.  Me.  Hugh Hefner.  Any unconfessed sin will send a person to hell.

The thing is. I don’t want to go to hell. I don’t want anyone to go to hell.   I have asked God to forgive me.  I hope Hugh Hefner did.  I hope and pray you do, too.

All I can ask is that God will have mercy on me.  and on you.