Showing posts with the label Compromise

Do I really need this?

My brothers and sisters, if anyone wanders away from the truth and someone helps that person come back,   remember this: Anyone who brings a sinner back from the wrong way will save that person from eternal death and cause many sins to be forgiven. (James 5:19-20) Most of us don't run away from truth - we let little things come into our lives that 'add distance' between us and God. It isn't really all that recognizable at first. The little things come in, crowding out time with Jesus, refocusing our attention away from truth, and silently bringing death where life once dwelt. Compromise isn't always a conscious choice - sometimes it is accomplished without us even noticing. It is always important to have at least one person in your life that is able to spot the little things that might lead to even bigger things. We call that an 'accountability partner' - someone who is willing to 'take notice' and then isn't timid about letting us know they have

The cost

Sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go, keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and cost you more than you ever wanted to pay. (Anonymous) “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) It's easy to travel the broad road, enjoying the pleasures all along the way. It's the most popular road: lots of people are on it. The real problem is where the road ends. The beginning may not seem 'all that bad', but the end is where we find much regret, sadness, and 'spoiled lives'. Whatever enticed us down that wide road may not ever be worth the challenge we face when we finally realize the destination! Farther than you ever wanted to go. Can that describe some 'journey' you may have taken in life? It can describe more than one for me! What

Lavish Grace

Socrates reminded us that "the unexamined life is not worth living" - when we only allow others to examine our lives, we might just get a 'warped perception' of how we are doing. Human opinion about our choices is not always the wisest thing for us to latch onto as the standard by which we will live our lives. In fact, it could just allow for some things clearly not good for us, while excluding things we desperately need! Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. (Psalm 26:1-3) Proverbs 16:2 reminds us that people may be pure in their own eyes, but until the Lord examines the heart, we can be living by an unrealistic standard. Why? Our own opinion of how we are to live isn't always influenced by the right values or standards. If we go only

The sins of the parent

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:4-6) I was asked how God could lay the sins of the parents upon their children. Isn't God a loving God and children innocent of their parents' sin? God wasn't saying he would 'count' the parents' sin against the children over generations to come, but rather than the effects of their sin would be evident to the children. Taken in context, God is reminding Israel (and us) that he is a 'jealous God' - he will not allow us to bow down

With haste!

He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil... (Romans 2:6-9) I believe one of the greatest things God does for us is extend his kindness toward us, giving us a chance to turn from our independent choices (choices that often lead us into sin), and turn toward him. God's judgment against sin isn't a thing to be trifled with, but neither is his grace! Grace is given freely to all who seek it, but with grace comes the responsibility on our part to allow God to change our heart's attitude toward sin in our lives.  It is a matter of us determining to walk away from sin and toward God - not once, but repeatedly. Why do I say

Mixed loyalties

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (James 4:8-10) There will be times when we don't feel all that close to God. It isn't because he has left us, or withdrawn from us, but that we have let something come between us. We get all wrapped up in stuff that takes our focus off of this relationship, or we follow some compromise that makes us feel totally yucky in the end. If we want to feel that closeness again, it may require some 'adjustments' on our part. We need to unclutter our lives, confess our compromise, or a combo of both. Divided loyalty probably causes us more issues in our daily lives than anything else. It is that battle the Apostle

Are you strong enough?

Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down, and his strength left him. Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him. (Judges 16: 19-20) Samson and Delilah - do you recall the story of his tremendous strength against the Philistine armies? We can learn a few lessons from his life, but probably the most important center around his strengths and his weaknesses. He was a very courageous warrior - not afraid to tackle whatever was in his path. Remember the story of him slaying a lion with his bare hands, rendering his attack unsuccessful? How about him going against the Philistine army and carrying the gates of the city away with him when he felled the army? He was willing to put himself out there, but he also struggled with

The other 'or'

But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.” (Genesis 19:4-8) The sad story of Lot's compromises continues. Having taken in the two angels God had sent to warn him to leave Sodom before judgment came down on the township, the men of the town now demand to have their way with the 'men he had taken in'. The men of the town did not recognize them as angels, did not know of their purpose in being within their township, and were intent on committi

Is this God's will?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. (I John 2:15-16) At times, people will ask me how they can know if a particular decision is 'in God's will'. I have found that using this verse as a guide to 'weed out' the ones that really aren't the best for us has helped me. If the craving is for some form of physical pleasure, I take a moment longer to consider the choice. If it is just because I see everyone is on the bandwagon to get something, I step back and wait to see if that 'thing' or 'activity' really is necessary or is just a nicety. If those two don't stop me in my tracks, I consider just how much my pride is motivating a particular decision. If it seems that

It is dark in here

Imagine being surrounded on all sides, enemy forces about to tromp on you, fear mounting, despair permeating every fiber of your being. You may not realize how 'dire' the circumstances really are, but you know something has happened to change the course of 'good times' in your life. We all get there on occasion - sometimes by our own doing. We choose to compromise our lives with some 'little sin' that really isn't 'all that big'. Then we wonder why we find ourselves with mounting pressures and attacks. Truth be told, that 'little sin' let in a dump truck load of other temptations you might not have wanted to entertain, but now they are there. In those times when the pressures seem to be closing in, keep in mind one very important fact - God has not forgotten how much you need light in your life! The Lord will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness. (Micah 7:9) Sin has a way of creating 'dark places' in our spirit, a

What counts as sin?

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20) What 'counts' as sin? I have actually had some attempt to 'debate' this topic with me. What I found to be at the root of this question was their desire to 'justify' something that they didn't consider 'all that bad', and therefore it wasn't really 'sin'. Truth be told, if our conscience is actually causing us to ask that question, it is likely not the right path for us to be taking! I was raised in a church that 'graded' sin - in other words, there were 'degrees' to the 'badness' of your sin. There isn't anywhere in scripture that actually says sins are 'menial' - all sin is sin (small to large, smal

Will it really matter in the long run?

Are you easy to get along with? The "characters" within the groups we interact with each day make it a little harder for us to score a perfect ten in this "getting along" category at times. According to what James tells us, a holy life is characterized by getting along with others. Uh oh - now I have gone to meddling! If we can 'get along' consistently, it must be because we are embracing this life of God's wisdom, and not living by the whim or fancy of our mood or someone else's attitude!  Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (James 3:17-18) "Getting along" with

No rest for the wicked

I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go. (Isaiah 48:17) It is in this same chapter of Isaiah that we get our saying, "No rest for the wicked". The exact reading is: "There is no peace," says God, "for the wicked." The nation of Israel, delivered from Egypt to enter into a great land of prosperity and promise, chose to walk away from the one thing God asked of them - undivided and unchallenged loyalty to him. In the end, they knew no 'peace' - for they chose to live as the wicked of the land. We make good choices right alongside some not so wise ones, don't we? We do it all the time - choosing 'when' to be obedient and 'when' to live as we want to in the moment. Choice will always be ours - what we do when presented with the 'options' around us is 'learned' - it doesn't always come naturally for us to choose wisely. God shows us what to do and where t

Prepare for the worst

Guilt is banished through love and truth; Fear-of-God deflects evil. (Proverbs 16:6) Guilt is a tough opponent, isn't it? That guilt we all carry around in our lives is like a 'cling-on' - kind of undetected but wearing away at us as time goes by - it resists separation at all cost. I have some sweaters that have those balled up pieces of lint that gathers everywhere and make them look a little less than stellar. They are comfortable, but they don't look very nice anymore. Those 'cling-on' bits and pieces refuse to separate themselves from those sweaters - even when I pluck them away, it just leaves a place for another bit or piece of lint to gather. Guilt is kind of like that - we get rid of some of it, but it leaves 'raw places' in our lives that seem to get 'filled' again with memories of the 'bits and pieces' that were shed from that spot. When mom was alive, she used to buy things from one of those places that sent the catalogs all t

Agile and Aware

“I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (John 8:12) If you have ever hit your toe on some object while stumbling around in the dark, you know how much pain a tiny 'mess-up' like that can result in. In some moment of "altered alertness" you came into full contact with that inanimate object - never intending to, but regardless of your intent, it happened. We "almost" avoided the contact - just a small margin of error - not a huge deviation from course - just a tiny margin resulted in such significant pain. Sometimes the "errors" we experience in life that cause us more than a little pain are not the result of  a "huge" margin of error, but "smaller margins" of error - we call them compromises. We often "stumble" where there is no light! The truth is: We NEED light! Nothing dispels darkness other than light. Jesus said he is the world'

Rear-view or Full-view?

And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; they wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!  (Psalm 84:5-7) Some of us may have God in our rear-view mirror right now. It is like we look up one day and realize that he isn't in front of us any longer - we aren't following him as closely as we were at one time. Sometimes that is a result of us taking our focus off him, while at others it is more of us having drifted into just doing things by rote. We read the Word, but it is because it is habit - we aren't really getting much out of it. We say a few prayers, but it is also out of habit - we aren't really expressing our heart or listening to his. Ever start out on a journey and find yourself there, almost unaware of the twists and turns you took to get there? We all have roads we travel

The Fast & The Furious

We all probably know someone who lives 'fast and furious' - either a family member or friend. They seem to be kind of oblivious to the risks they are taking. What they may fail to recognize today is that the enemy of their soul is about to 'strut his stuff' because all this 'fast and furious' living is about to cave in on them! That makes the enemy of our soul very, very happy! He gets his 'glory walk' on and struts around like a little peacock just relishing every moment of every 'crash and burn'. Do you ever feel like the enemy of your soul is just strutting his stuff when it comes to the choices you have made? It seems like he has repeatedly dealt blow after blow in 2020, until each of us are left low and beaten down. It could be we find ourselves experiencing this "beaten down" state simply because of the subtle, but consistent, compromises we have made. Either way, God hasn't left the throne. The enemy of our soul may be ' out there?

So seek God and live! You don't want to end up with nothing to show for your life but a pile of ashes, a house burned to the ground. For God will send just such a fire, and the firefighters will show up too late. (Amos 5:6) Ever find yourself in a place where it feels like everything around you is 'on fire' and you are somehow trying to put out all the fires at once? I think we occasionally find ourselves in these times of wearing and quite frustrating 'firefighting'. Most of us can put out a small fire, but those bigger ones require the expertise of the firefighter specifically trained in the task! Amos was one of the twelve minor prophets of Israel. He finds himself leading a group of people who had little time for God and lots of time for their good life. The armies of Assyria (one of their fiercest rivals) were battling for bigger territory and Israel was allowed to live almost without warfare during that time, enjoying the expansion of their own territory wi

Muck and Mire

You can't find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm.   (Proverbs 12:3) Swamps aren't exactly my idea of a good place to make a home. There are lots of critters who'd just as soon eat me than leave me alone. There are pesky bugs, and way too much moisture. The opportunity for dry ground just isn't all that frequent - not to mention the unpleasantness of all that humidity and 'foul-smell' of boggy places. In the swamp are many obstacles that impact our ability to be on the footing that allows for solid growth. There are some lessons in the swamp, though - - - a couple of common obstacles found in a swamp are kind of like some of the obstacles we face in our daily walk. A swamp is made up of water, reeds, muddy bogs, and lots of pesky critters. The water of the swamp is not known for its clarity or purity. In fact, it is known for the extreme, almost impenetrable  murkiness. Within the murky waters are all kinds of insatiable "

Okay, I've got ZERO traction here!

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. ( Galatians 6:1   NLT ) I know for a fact just how easy it is to get caught up in some temptation we might have thought we had already dealt with fully, for I have followed some path back to where I really shouldn't have gone on more than one occasion! I usually am smart enough to see that I am headed there, and maybe even arrived a little ahead of schedule! There have been times when I have needed the faithful words of a friend or two to direct me back on course again, simply because I get stuck in the mire of the wrong place I got myself into. There is no shame in needing help from time to time - there is more "shame" in not taking it when it is offered! I honestly believe God puts us in a community of believers because he knows we don't always