Abortion, Forgiveness, Relationships

Throwback Thursday on Friday ~ Aborting People

Originally posted July 24, 2014Aborting People

Cut the negative people out of your life.

Don’t lift a finger for people who won’t lift a finger for you.

Don’t allow people in your life who don’t deserve to be there.

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Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see something like this on Facebook. Clearly, there are people who are violent that we need to stay away from for our own physical safety, and marital problems absolutely must be resolved, but those aren’t what this line of thinking seems to be addressing. It’s talking about the difficult people. We all have them in our lives. You’re probably thinking of some right now.

The constant complainer.

The drama queen.

The narcissist.

The annoyance.

The just plain unlovely.

Maybe it’s a family member, a neighbor, or a co-worker. Somebody who’s in your life for some reason, only you wish she weren’t.

The world’s advice: abort people. If they’re negative, if they don’t further your success, if they drain you, if they’re somehow undeserving of your time and attention. Just cut them out of your life. Abort them.

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Christians are on the front lines of the battle against literal abortion. “Every life is precious,” we say, and that’s as it should be. But somehow, the world’s abortive mentality has crept into our thinking when it comes to the relationships we have with others. Babies are being killed because they’re inconvenient, they’ll hinder someone’s pursuit of success, or they have a disability, and we’re – rightly – grieved and outraged, but do we have any pangs of conscience when it comes to throwing away that inconvenient friend or that personality-handicapped family member? Is every life really precious?

We serve a Savior who loved the unlovely. Took time for the inconvenient. Invested in the drains. He felt their loneliness and rejection and knew the pain of being scorned.

Because He was one of them.

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:2b-3

Jesus stopped along the roadside, not for those who would further His success, but for those who were needy. He called the awkward and personality impaired “brother.” He called a betrayer, “friend.” Even those who wielded the whip, embedded the thorns, and drove the nails didn’t hear, “Go to hell,” but, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Yes, there are people who are so difficult that we may have to love them from afar, taking time between each encounter with them to pray, recover, and forgive.

But we must remember who we were called to be.

I love, not because people deserve it, but because He first loved me.

I am forgiving because I have been forgiven much.

I am kind because God has been so kind to me.

I lay down my life for messy people because Christ laid down His life for the biggest mess of all- me. 

Extend grace. Because in God’s eyes, every life is precious. Even yours.

Church

Throwback Thursday ~ Dis. Grace: Responding Biblically to Church Scandal

Originally published June 30, 2015

scandal

It happened again last week. Another scandal. Another high profile pastor stepping down from the ministry in disgrace. Another family broken. Another church stunned and bereft.

And it’s not just the money grubbing televangelists anymore, either. This was one of the theological good guys. Sadly, pastors and Christian leaders – both those in the public eye and those right around the corner – seem to be dropping like flies these days. Adultery. Financial sin. Pornography. Abuse. Fraud. The list of sinful behavior goes on and on, leaving a wake of destruction in its path and giving Christ and His bride a black eye in the process.

So, what is the biblical response to scandals like these for Joe and Jane Christian? We view the situation through the lenses of Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

How can God use this scandal, awful as it is, for my good and the good of my brothers and sisters in Christ? It’s an opportunity to learn, teach, and minister in so many ways:

Fully grasp the destructive power of sin…

Imagine the agony the pastor’s sin is creating in so many lives. What must his wife be going through? His children? His church? What about his own relationship with God? What about the lost people he was trying to win to Christ? What about the fact that his career may be over and he may lose his house?

It’s been said that sin destroys completely and completely destroys. It’s a good time to reflect on the fact that sin is not something to be trifled with. Count the cost. Would it be worth it to you to commit the same sin in your own life?

Realize your need for Christ…

“There, but for the grace of God, go I.” “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re better or holier than the person who sinned, therefore, you would never do what he did. Instead, let his sin push you towards the cross, realizing that you’re just as weak and susceptible to temptation as he is. Let it amp up your prayer life and drive you to cling to Christ and His word lest you fall into sin.

Dive into God’s word…

What does the Bible say about the sin in question? Learn what God’s word says. Apply it to your life, your work, or your marriage. Teach it to your children. Share it with those in your circle of influence. Build up your brothers and sisters in Christ so they might stand firm against temptation.

Implement safeguards…

People don’t just wake up one day and decide to commit adultery or embezzlement or whatever. Every sin starts with a wayward thought, which, when left unchecked (or entertained), snowballs into action. What could the scandalized pastor have done, practically, to prevent his sin? What are some concrete, proactive steps you can take to guard against sin in your life? Maybe your husband should hold the credit cards or you should cut ties with that certain male friend. Don’t wait for sin to find you. Build some walls before it arrives.

Use the scandal as a springboard for prayer…

Pray for those involved in the scandal. Ask God to protect you, your husband, and your loved ones from that particular sin. Realize that your own pastor and church staff are tempted to sin every day, pray for them regularly, and let them know you’re praying for them.

Practice the Golden Rule

What if you were the one who sinned? How would you want people to talk about and treat you and your family? Call a sin a sin, but let’s remember, when it comes to scandals, to watch our words and actions, and treat others the way we would want to be treated.

Use the scandal as an opportunity to share the gospel…

Inevitably, some lost people will see pastoral sin as one more candle in their “Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites” cake. Don’t be embarrassed if an unbeliever approaches you with this line of fire (and whatever you do, don’t try to make light of or justify the pastor’s sin). Own it. Admit it. “You’re right. This guy sinned. He needs to repent and be forgiven by Christ. He needs to make things right with the people around him. Just like me. Just like you. By the way, Christ was crucified for sinners like him and me and you. Have you ever repented of your own sin and trusted in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the payment for your sin? Mind if I tell you how?”

Repent and Forgive…

It’s hurtful when someone you trust and look up to lets you down. But because we’re sinful humans living in a broken world, it’s going to happen. The pastor who sinned needs to repent. When he does, the people around him need to forgive, even though there will probably still be disciplinary consequences to his actions. Is there sin in your life that you need to repent of and face the consequences for? Is there someone who has sinned against you that you need to forgive? God extends the grace of forgiveness to repentant sinners and the grace to forgive to their victims. Repent. Forgive.

 

Scandals among Christian leaders are heartbreaking, disappointing, embarrassing. But the God who sent His only Son to the cross to turn sinners into saints has a wonderful way of taking offenses and turning them into opportunities for His kingdom.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Church, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Dis. Grace: Responding Biblically to Church Scandal

Originally published June 30, 2015

scandal

It happened again last week. Another scandal. Another high profile pastor stepping down from the ministry in disgrace. Another family broken. Another church stunned and bereft.

And it’s not just the money grubbing televangelists anymore, either. This was one of the theological good guys. Sadly, pastors and Christian leaders – both those in the public eye and those right around the corner – seem to be dropping like flies these days. Adultery. Financial sin. Pornography. Abuse. Fraud. The list of sinful behavior goes on and on, leaving a wake of destruction in its path and giving Christ and His bride a black eye in the process.

So, what is the biblical response to scandals like these for Joe and Jane Christian? We view the situation through the lenses of Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

How can God use this scandal, awful as it is, for my good and the good of my brothers and sisters in Christ? It’s an opportunity to learn, teach, and minister in so many ways:

Fully grasp the destructive power of sin…

Imagine the agony the pastor’s sin is creating in so many lives. What must his wife be going through? His children? His church? What about his own relationship with God? What about the lost people he was trying to win to Christ? What about the fact that his career may be over and he may lose his house?

It’s been said that sin destroys completely and completely destroys. It’s a good time to reflect on the fact that sin is not something to be trifled with. Count the cost. Would it be worth it to you to commit the same sin in your own life?

Realize your need for Christ…

“There, but for the grace of God, go I.” “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re better or holier than the person who sinned, therefore, you would never do what he did. Instead, let his sin push you towards the cross, realizing that you’re just as weak and susceptible to temptation as he is. Let it amp up your prayer life and drive you to cling to Christ and His word lest you fall into sin.

Dive into God’s word…

What does the Bible say about the sin in question? Learn what God’s word says. Apply it to your life, your work, or your marriage. Teach it to your children. Share it with those in your circle of influence. Build up your brothers and sisters in Christ so they might stand firm against temptation.

Implement safeguards…

People don’t just wake up one day and decide to commit adultery or embezzlement or whatever. Every sin starts with a wayward thought, which, when left unchecked (or entertained), snowballs into action. What could the scandalized pastor have done, practically, to prevent his sin? What are some concrete, proactive steps you can take to guard against sin in your life? Maybe your husband should hold the credit cards or you should cut ties with that certain male friend. Don’t wait for sin to find you. Build some walls before it arrives.

Use the scandal as a springboard for prayer…

Pray for those involved in the scandal. Ask God to protect you, your husband, and your loved ones from that particular sin. Realize that your own pastor and church staff are tempted to sin every day, pray for them regularly, and let them know you’re praying for them.

Practice the Golden Rule

What if you were the one who sinned? How would you want people to talk about and treat you and your family? Call a sin a sin, but let’s remember, when it comes to scandals, to watch our words and actions, and treat others the way we would want to be treated.

Use the scandal as an opportunity to share the gospel…

Inevitably, some lost people will see pastoral sin as one more candle in their “Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites” cake. Don’t be embarrassed if an unbeliever approaches you with this line of fire (and whatever you do, don’t try to make light of or justify the pastor’s sin). Own it. Admit it. “You’re right. This guy sinned. He needs to repent and be forgiven by Christ. He needs to make things right with the people around him. Just like me. Just like you. By the way, Christ was crucified for sinners like him and me and you. Have you ever repented of your own sin and trusted in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the payment for your sin? Mind if I tell you how?”

Repent and Forgive…

It’s hurtful when someone you trust and look up to lets you down. But because we’re sinful humans living in a broken world, it’s going to happen. The pastor who sinned needs to repent. When he does, the people around him need to forgive, even though there will probably still be disciplinary consequences to his actions. Is there sin in your life that you need to repent of and face the consequences for? Is there someone who has sinned against you that you need to forgive? God extends the grace of forgiveness to repentant sinners and the grace to forgive to their victims. Repent. Forgive.

 

Scandals among Christian leaders are heartbreaking, disappointing, embarrassing. But the God who sent His only Son to the cross to turn sinners into saints has a wonderful way of taking offenses and turning them into opportunities for His kingdom.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Forgiveness, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Taking Offense

Originally published July 2, 2015

PicsArt_1468429056806

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

Have you ever noticed how easily people get offended these days? We have to watch what we say, wear, and display. We have to be careful about how (or if) we express our political and religious views. A mere, “you look nice today” can be the beginning of a lawsuit.

Even as Christians, it’s easy to get sucked in to wearing our feelings on our sleeves and taking offense to everything that rubs us the wrong way. Certainly, there are important, biblical issues that we need to take a firm stand on in society, in the church, and at home, but for those of us who follow Christ, most personal offenses do not require a confrontation. Most personal offenses demand that we extend grace and love to the offender.

That’s a bitter pill for the flesh to swallow if you’re anything like me. My flesh wants revenge. My flesh wants justice and retribution to immediately prevail. My flesh wants that person to grovelingly admit he or she was wrong and beg for forgiveness. And I know it’s my carnal nature that wants those things because both Jesus’ teachings and His life stand in direct opposition to such desires:

The Pharisees insinuated that Jesus was of illegitimate birth and that his mother was promiscuous.  They called Him a Samaritan – a racial epithet which, in that time, would have been on par with calling someone the “n-word” during the Civil Rights movement. And they called him demon-possessed – which called his mental health and intelligence into question. And all of these insults carried with them the overriding weightiness of calling Him unclean; someone under God’s judgment who deserved to be an outcast.

What did Jesus do? He didn’t retaliate. He used the offensive remarks to keep on trying to reach the hearts of the Pharisees – the offenders – with the gospel.

Jesus taught us to…

…love our enemies

…do good to those who hate us

…bless those who curse us

…pray for people who abuse us

…turn the other cheek

…give to those who want to take from us

…treat others the way we want to be treated.

Even on the cross, after being falsely accused, verbally abused, wrongly arrested, hauled in front of a kangaroo court, and illegally put to death, Jesus’ words for His foes were not pronouncements of judgment and wrath, but, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

That’s a pretty tough act to follow. But then, the calling of Christ is not a calling to “be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease” but a calling to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and give up our lives for Him. That precious calling may not end up with you being crucified for your faith, but surely it can start by ignoring that tiny arrow whizzing past your head as you love the person aiming the bow at you.

Take the offense. Overlook it. Extend grace. Forgive. Bless. Walk in the way of your Master.

 

What are some good ways to extend grace
when someone offends you?


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST. 
Forgiveness, Relationships, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ We’re ALL a Bunch of Bumbling Morons

Originally published November 7, 2014morons

I recently did something colossally stupid.

I can tell by the sound of your jaw hitting the floor that you’re shocked.

dragon-265844_640To repeat the details would be to repeat the offense, so, suffice it to say, it was the metaphorical equivalent of walking across a room and knocking over a really expensive vase. It wasn’t a sin, per se, it was just one of those oafish things we all do from time to time simply because we’re fallen humans living in a fallen world.

Blessedly, God protected the other person and me from the brunt of my bumbling. And then a beautiful thing happened. The other person passed over the incident as if it hadn’t even happened.

Wow.

Now, I can’t tell you the number of times God has had to protect me from my own stupidity (both sinful and non-sinful). One of my favorite passages is Psalm 103:13-14:

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

In other words, God knit together every cell in our bodies and knows every thought and action of our lives from conception to death. Nothing unexpected there, for Him. He knows what He’s got to work with. So, God being God and all, maybe it’s not so surprising that He might have that perspective. He knows all of our weaknesses and still shows us compassion. (Don’t mistake my lack of surprise for lack of gratitude. I would be a smoking crater in the ground if God didn’t treat me with that kind of mercy and compassion. I am extremely grateful for it.)

What’s down right unfathomable in this day and age of everybody wearing his feelings on his sleeve, and wanting to absolutely obliterate anyone who causes him the least amount of agitation is for one human to pass over the failure of another. Proverbs 19:11 says:

Good sense makes one slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Not- confront the person and demand an apology. Not- stop speaking to the person and carry a grudge until I feel he’s been sufficiently punished. Overlook. Act like it didn’t happen. Refuse to let it change your relationship with the person. Fuhgeddaboutit.

These days, that’s rarer than a modest outfit on a Hollywood starlet, even among professing Christians.

And it shouldn’t be. Because the Bible also says:

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

Remember that? The Golden Rule? What happened to treating others the way we would want to be treated if we were in their shoes? Yes, pernicious sin in the Body needs to be dealt with by confronting the person in mercy, love, and a spirit of restoration,  but what about those non-sinful, unintentional human foibles that land in our laps? Can’t we adopt that same mercy and grace God has towards us and our weaknesses and extend it to others?

flower-child-336658_640I want to get better at that. Because when you get right down to it, we’ve got enough people freaking out and flying off the handle these days. All that does is make everybody tense and unhappy. Not to get all “peace, love, and harmony” on y’all, but, well…couldn’t we use a little more peace, love, and harmony as we do life with other humanoids? And of all the people peace, love, and harmony could come from, shouldn’t it be coming from Christians first? Let’s extend some extra grace and give people room to be human. Everybody’s going to need it at one time or another.

After all, the next bumbling moron to come along just might be you.