Heroes – admiring but not emulating

Heroes are everywhere. We like to talk about them and read their lives, and often we act like we want to be like them. But we really don’t want to emulate them. They set an example for us and we hold them up in esteem but try all we can to avoid their examples.

We see many heroes in the Bible. Moses is called the servant of God. It took 80 years to get there and even after he has to wander and bear the burden of all Israel. Abraham was called the friend of God. It took him leaving family and home to wander for the rest of his life. David was a man after God’s own heart. He was chased by Saul for years, and then later run out of his kingdom by his son. Job was perfect and upright so that God bragged about him. He lost everything he had.

What is my point? We talk about them with pride, but we are terrified that God might actually brag about us. But to that I would say, “Don’t worry about it.” If you aren’t prepared to lose all your family and your own life also God isn’t going to be bragging to Satan about you. If you aren’t walking with Him and finding your hope, joy, and comfort in Him than you won’t be called the friend of God.

Luke 14:26

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

God requires everything of us. These “heroes” are believers/saints/disciples. They are what God requires of all of us. We need to be ready to give it all up with no earthly hope of the future. We look for a heavenly hope.

So, if you lose your house or job in this economy trust the Lord and be His servant, friend, and a man after His heart. If you lose your health or your loved ones, trust the Lord and be His servant, friend, and a man after His heart. If your life seems unfixable and with no light ahead, trust the Lord and be His servant, friend, and a man after His heart.

Our worry shouldn’t be that God might brag about us and Satan attack. Our worry should be that God can’t brag about us and Satan is happy to leave us alone.

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Carpal Tunnel and Sin

I recently developed a bad case of carpal tunnel in both my wrists. I had some sense that it was coming but thought my passive attempts to prevent it would be enough. Really, I didn’t divert enough attention to it. Now I am.

It has taken over a good portion of my time. It did this in two ways. First, I can’t do things the way I normally would. Typing this blog is taking me longer than normal, and as I type I wonder if I am worsening my condition and if I should take the time off. (I tell myself it doesn’t matter because all of my work involves computers and typing to come degree.) My second loss of time comes where I have spent an ample amount of time researching what to do to aid in the healing process and prevent from happening again.

Why did it take me so long to address this? Because I was busy. I had other things that I prioritized over my hands hurting and sometimes going numb. I had other priorities over my arms being tight and being frustrated when I couldn’t grip correctly. Silly, I know. But it made me thing: don’t we do this with sin? I do.

I see a sin in my life that is “small.” I know it is there, but it really isn’t something I have the time to deal with. It isn’t my priority because it isn’t affecting many people. It is minor and there are more important things to deal with. But sin doesn’t stay minor. It never does. It grows when allowed to have a place. When we have made excuses for it, that is like emptying a room and having a multiplying slime monster (slime monsters make the easiest analogy here – they split in half each creating their own unique being that continues to split and multiply) move in and grow within that room as much as it wants. It is the back room and no one can tell. But soon that room is full and the hall and other rooms become overtaken with the them. When sin is allowed to go unchecked, unrepented, and unaddressed, then it grows; eventually it affects every area of our lives.

This takes our time. Dealing with the consequences of our sin takes time. Dealing with the sin itself now that it has left the back room and is front and center takes time. We lose those other priorities because now we have something that has grown larger than it should  ever have been allowed to grow. We must deal with this sin head on.

But the second thing, that I think we often do not do, is to research, examine, and ask how to beat the sin. With my wrists, I have talked to many people. I have talked to nurses and done much reading. I have talked with others who have experienced this, and talked with others who have treated it. I have used Google extensively and read all about tendons and what can go wrong with them. I have dived into this subject so that I could best deal with it. Why don’t we do that with sin? Maybe you do, great!

We should if we don’t. We should dive into the Scripture to see how to deal with it. We should research what the actual sin is and not just the symptoms. We should read God’s mind on the matter and see how Biblical characters have dealt with it. We should talk to other saints. He that walks with wise men will be wise. We should look to others to see how they have overcome this. We should talk to those who have helped others overcome it. Whatever the sin is, we should get help. We need to go to our pastor and our friends. And if they don’t know what to do, ask again. Ask the older generation at church. Read some commentaries. Read some messages, or download a podcast. There are a plethora of options for getting help, but we don’t reach out. We need accountability. We need someone to be there with us to break our bottle of alcohol, to unplug our internet, or whatever accountability we need.

Most importantly, with any sin, is repentance and going to God. God gives us the victory through Jesus Christ. Jesus has defeated sin and death for us. We are winners, and we need to lean and trust fully on Him. Just like with my carpal tunnel, I’m going to do everything I can, but in the end my trust is not in me icing my wrists. My trust is that God will heal me. Even as I look for a brother or sister in Christ to hold me accountable for sin, and to give me help when I need it, I look to God to deliver me. I don’t trust in myself to overcome sin. I don’t trust in my friend to deliver me. Christ will deliver me. Whatever the case may be, the most important aspect of recovery and prevention is trusting in God.

What “minor” sin is slipping by in your life today? Deal with it now before the throne of grace, that it doesn’t have to overwhelm your life. Is it already at that point? Figure out what God says about it, get accountability, and throw yourself on God’s mercy trusting Him to give the victory Christ has already won for you.

Walking, Talking, Seeing, Praying, and Listening

More and more I have been impressed with the need to Walk with God. Within my mind, I have been turned from the traditional and general “read your Bible and pray everyday” mentality to a more specific wording of “walking with God.”

I have grown up in a good Christian home and a good church. My life has been spent serving and I am glad when they say unto me “let us go into the house of the Lord.” I rejoice at the preaching of the Scriptures, and love to sing praises. And it is easy for me to make a list of priorities with prayer and Bible-time at the top, and just do it.

But, oh, how empty it is when I’m not really praying, but just talking. When I’m not really listening to God, but just reading. It is defeating, and it is scary. It is the sound of my own inadequacy. It is my desperate effort to please God on my own and not to lean on Him for everything. It is me, trying to fix myself with a formula I’ve had memorized for years.

The worst part is that I know that I need God. I know and so I return to my list rather than to Him. I struggle to walk next to Him. I struggle to talk to my Friend. I find my mind all over. I can’t pray for more than a couple minutes before I am distracted or my mind wanders. I don’t recall a single thing from the chapter I just finished and have to start over in defeat.

God doesn’t want this empty form. He doesn’t want to see me bowed on my knees and uttering words into the air without meaning. He doesn’t want me to read/quote Scripture as the Pharisees did. The OT law was not about the form and the sacrifices. He wanted the heart that should have been behind it; He wanted the heart that longed to serve Him from love in obedience. Today, He wants my heart, not the forms of godliness from my priority list.

Praise be to God, when I finally in my spirit cry to the Lord, I find that He is still there! He hasn’t left me, and I knew that as a truth, but now I know it personally, again. When I am athirst, He satisfies me. When I am hungry and my soul longs after Him, He is there. I know where He is. I know He hasn’t left. I just need to run to Him instead of the forms of worship.

Micah expresses this simply. God doesn’t want our rules and lists. He wants our hearts. He wants our faith. He wants our love. He wants us to walk with Him.

Micah 6

Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Empty worship is not worship (John 4:23). Empty religion is not pure (James 1:27). The form of godliness has no power in our lives (2 Timothy 3:5). But to walk with God is the greatest thing in the world. It is then that we have power, love, and a sound mind. It is then that we know Him. It is then that we are light and salt. It is then that we know the confidence that if He is for us, none can be against us.

Oh, that we might be like Enoch and be known for our walk with God.