Friday, April 19, 2013

The Sin that God HATES

Do you know what sin God hates?

All over scripture you see this sin mentioned over and over. God aggressively opposed to the one who commits it.

This was the sin that the religious people just couldn't repent of that eventually nailed Jesus to the cross. This was the sin that kings committed that eventually led to the demise of kingdoms. This is the sin that all of us commit when we think we know what's best and have all the answers and follow our own ways.

Do you know which sin?

Leviticus 26:19
I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

2 Chronicles 26:16
But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God . . .

Obadiah 1:3
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?”

Psalm 10:4
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Proverbs 8:13
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 16:5
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 16:18-19
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Proverbs 18:12
Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

Ecclesiastes 7:8
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Isaiah 2:11
The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

(And that's just some of the passages from the OT)

A high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority.
Pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself

Pride leads to destruction. It leads to distance from the LORD. It leads to discord among others. It leads to disgrace, and eventually it leads to death.

Pride was the reason Satan was cast out of Heaven . . . He wanted to make himself like the Most High God.
Pride is the reason Adam & Eve sinned, they thought they knew better than God. They thought their understanding was higher than His understanding.
Pride is the reason the Pharisees had Jesus crucified. Their law was higher than God's law. They couldn't stand the thought of not being declared righteous by their own doing, and couldn't stand Jesus opposition to their self righteous ways.
Pride is the reason for our sin too. We think our way & understanding is better, that we know more than God.

It can be subtle & secret or loud & public. It can be committed blindly or knowingly. It can sneak in our be found out. It is committed by the churched and unchurched alike. It is prevalent, relevant, and cancerous.

Do you have pride in your life?
Do you always have the right answers?
Is your way the right way?
Do you make decisions based on what you feel or think?
Are you self righteous? Do you feel superior to others?
How much of your thought life is consumed of self?

Pride separates.
Pride destroys.
Pride devours.
Pride grieves God.

"But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:3-5)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Is There Freedom in Choice?

As a woman who cannot bear children there is no bigger issue to me than the issue of abortion.

There is a huge trial going on right now for an abortionist who not only performed abortions, but actually killed babies after they were born. It’s horrifying. The stories, the details, the pictures are just horrifying.

And I just can’t understand.

How is it we value the sanctity of life for abandoned animals, but not for children who are alive in the womb? We live in a time where the abandoned baby whale gets more compassion than the aborted baby human. It is strange to me how the people who will fight to protect the environment, animals, even chain themselves to trees to prevent them from being cut down, are the same people who support the choice to abort human life?

And I find myself saying “How could they? How could anyone consider abortion the right thing to do? I long for a baby and yet women are just killing theirs left and right. How??”

And then I remember . . . I remember having the same feelings as those women in high school/college. I remember walking through the aftermath of abortion with friends. And I remember FEAR.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had an abortion or walked with someone who has, but I can tell you that the women I have walked with were left with every other feeling besides “freedom”. The women I know, who for whatever circumstance, have had an abortion, are left with feelings of guilt, shame, fear, regret, etc.

Many abortions stem from fear. One bad choice that leads to conception and a 16 year old feels like she has no other choice but to abort because her parents would disown her. Or the college age student who was taken advantage of, ended up pregnant, with not place to turn and no support from family, felt she had no other choice.

And I hurt for that.

We have provided a “choice” for women in these situations that in reality is no choice at all.

We have fought for the right to vote, the choice to get and education, to be a career woman, when to have sex, when and if to raise children, and when to keep or kill children.

Ladies, we fought the good fight for equality, freedom, choice, liberation, and now I wonder if we’ve gone too far?

I just wonder in our fight for freedom . . . freedom of choice, have we actually found ourselves in more bondage?

The bondage of pain, shame, guilt, and regret.

We have the freedom to choose and yet the choice is costly.

The woman (Norma McCorvey of Roe v. Wade) who originally fought for the right to have an abortion, has since denounced her position and is actively pro-life and is no longer in support of abortion. And I can’t help but wonder the reason? Perhaps there is more to it than the immediate choice made from fear?

I beg you women who would consider themselves pro-choice, to count the cost. Seek counsel, talk to women who have gone through abortions and listen to their heart afterward. Don’t let fear drive your decision. Consider listening to that baby’s heart beat just once. Consider adoption. Consider abstinence. Consider the grief you will experience. And consider Christ.

For the women who have gone through with the abortion, for my dear friends that I’ve walked with, consider Christ. He is the true liberator, the true place of freedom. He wants to provide healing for you and doesn’t intend for you to remain under the bondage of guilt, shame, fear, and regret for all of your life.

And for those who are pro-life, consider the women in these situations. Have you considered what they are going through? Have considered the fear they’re walking in? Have you considered that they feel they have nowhere else to turn? The condemnation we heap on them in church leaves them feeling like they have no other option.

Being pro-life is doing much more than protecting that unborn baby. It’s helping the mother through this difficult time. If we are truly “pro-life” what are we doing for that baby’s life? The mother’s life? Fostering? Adopting? Supporting?

It’s a painful mess out there. I fear that in our fight for choice, we’ve gone too far. We’ve chosen what makes sense to us, but our understanding is limited. We’ve thought the path to freedom is ending life. In reality, that is only the beginning of a life of bondage to pain.

Thankfully, the LORD is near, He can restore, heal, and redeem. It’s not too late, you’re not too far. There is one choice you can make that will provide true freedom. Choose Christ.

“13For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

“8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Friday, April 5, 2013

To Be, rather than To Seem

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this phrase:

Esse quam videri

It is a Latin phrase meaning

"To be, rather than to seem”.

To be: who you really are
To seem: who you want people to think you are

Because let’s face it, don’t we really want our yard to appear like this:

Not this?

Or if you’re a mom, don’t you want to seem like this?

Not like this?

But I wonder . . . if there’s freedom in BEING instead of SEEMING? Seeming to have it all together is too exhausting. And at the heart of it is discontentment, competition, comparison, guilt, fear, and shame.

I asked you ladies a few weeks ago why we compare? Why do we struggle with comparison so much? And pleaded for all of us to stop. Because all it does is make us live in competition with one another instead of true community. It makes us more worried about appearance and how we seem, than who we truly are created to be.

And sometimes the place we want to seem the best is at church. We want to seem the most spiritual, the most knowledgeable, the most faith-filled, the most put together, the most Proverbs 31ish.

Instead of just being. Being tired, being someone who is in the midst of hard, being exhausted, being real, being teachable.

We studied hypocrisy this week in Academy and it just hit me. If we are more worried about how we seem, we are missing who God created us to be.

If we are more consumed with being seen, we’re missing the point.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)

You don’t think God knows what’s really going on that heart of yours? Mind of yours? Home of yours?

I would rather be in right relationship with the LORD, than seem like I am. I would rather be a disciple, than seem like I am. I would rather be a branch connected to the True Vine, than seem to bear fruit.

I would rather be a good neighbor, than seem like I am. I would rather be a good wife in secret, than seem like I am in public. I would rather be the woman God created me to be (thinker, writer, teacher) than seem like the woman Pinterest wants me to be (crafter, baker, Susie homemaker).

I would rather be honest in the struggle, than seem like I have it all together.

I would rather practice my righteousness in secret to be seen by my Father in Heaven, than practice my righteousness in public to be seen by others.

I would rather be than seem.

Let’s put away our appearance of holiness, and be true disciples.

“Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Monday, Now What? {The Call to Discipleship}

We remembered Friday. We celebrated Sunday, the Resurrection of our Risen King! But what do we do with Monday? Tuesday? Next month? Next year? The rest of our lives?

Somewhere along the way, the answer became “we celebrate, then we sit down, buckle up, get comfortable, and coast until Jesus comes back again.” And we have called that “being the church” or "Christianity" or "following Jesus".


That’s it!? We celebrate the power of a God who raised a dead man to life by . . . sitting and listening to a sermon once a week, or in most cases once every 3 weeks????

If we truly understand Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, can that really be it? Can we really encounter the Living God and then live life as if nothing has changed? How are we misunderstanding the call on our life?

How long can we ignore this? How long can we go on pretending that we’re satisfied with “sit and stay” instead of “go and tell”? How long can we go without taking the Great Commission seriously?

When you read through the gospel accounts, take note of the disciples response and some of Jesus’ first words in Matthew 28 as the Risen Savior.

8So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

They had FEAR and JOY, and RAN to tell of the good news! As they were doing that, Jesus met them and they WORSHIPPED Him.

“Do not be afraid . . . go and tell”.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This is it you guys. This is the reason why we are left on earth as believers. This is the plan for the kingdom. God using fearful, joyful, worshipful, inadequate, ordinary believers to tell others about Jesus! This is our mission.

TO.BE.THE.CHURCH (Not just go to church).
To proclaim the good news until His return.

God has given us the same power to go and make disciples. Not to rally around political causes, or post things on Facebook, or sit in a pew, or slap Jesus on around Christmas and Easter. But to risk, to abandon, to follow Him, and make disciples.

He invites us to a thrilling life where fear it’s conquered with joy, and doubt is replaced with faith, and the adventure of the unknown is rewarded with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, encountering the Living God!

There is nothing more thrilling in life than seeing someone understand Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday for the first time.

Have you considered the Great Commission and the call on your life?
Wherever you are, wherever you “go”, to make disciples?
Do you pour into people and help them mature in their faith?
Do you spend time with people who aren’t Christians?
Do you share your story? Do you hear theirs?
Do you invest time with new believers?
Do you invite them into a life worth living?
Can you say “follow me as I follow Christ”?

Now is the time, today is the day to take the Great Commission seriously. If we truly understand the Resurrection, we have a responsibility. We will be accountable for the truth and grace that has been entrusted to us. I pray we’ll examine our time, talent, and treasure and use them generously to ‘seek and save the lost’.

Let's move from sitting to standing. Then let's use our feet to go and tell, to go and make, to go and love.

"Extraordinary things happen when ordinary disciples, start making disciples."
–David Platt