Tag Archives: Sin

Chocolate-Covered, Grace-Covered

25 Nov

One of the funniest people I know is Rhonda Rhea—author, humor columnist, TV personality and quirky-wise pastor’s wife. I decided as a change of pace to feature her here, in this “Christmas is coming” fun post.

Enjoy . . . 

I never cease to be amazed—and pretty thrilled—at the new things people come up with to cover with chocolate each year.

We’re relatively in the neighborhood of “National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day.” December 16th. Oh my. That seems like such a great idea.

I highly—yea, emphatically—support chocolate coverings for the food beauty treatments they are.

But some of these people have gone and made it weird.

Chocolate-covered bacon. What?

Eat your bacon. It’s good.

Then eat your chocolate. That’s even better.

There’s an order to these things.

Chocolate-covered beef jerky? Chocolate-covered pickles? Chocolate-covered onions? Chocolate-covered squid?

Come on. Why would any of those ever be a thing?

Just because there’s no law against it, that does not make it okay, people.

In my book, all those ideas are terrible wastes of good chocolate and should be punishable by…well, maybe by making the people who came up with them actually eat them.

All of us in general are pretty good at coming up with bad ideas—everything that’s wrong for us. The curse of sin does that.

How amazing it is that Jesus can change our sin condition. He exchanges our sin for His own righteousness. And then He keeps working on us and in us even after that.

Jesus gives us a new “wanter.”

Paul said in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose,” (HCSB).

Jesus has us “covered,” in the best way, when it comes to both the ability to do the work we’re called to do, and then the desire to do it. By His grace, He’s the One at work inside us by the indwelling presence and power of His Holy Spirit. And He’s the One who causes our lives to be sweet. Fruitful.

Covered with His delicious purposes.

I think Joseph was a man who wanted to accomplish the purposes of God in His life. What a kick in the gut it must’ve been for him when he found that the girl he was to marry was pregnant with a child that wasn’t his. Under Jewish law, he had every right to make her humiliation public and have her stoned.

But Matthew 1:19 tells us that Joseph was a “righteous man.”

I picture a heartbroken Joseph tossing and turning, then slipping off into a troubled sleep. But what a wake-up call! It was a stunning message from an angel in a dream.

The angel told Joseph that it was okay to take Mary as his wife and that her baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He would be the Savior!

So what did Joseph do? He woke up from his dream and he did exactly what he was told.

I wonder if he ever even stopped to think about what he “wanted” to do. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out that God had already tweaked his “wanter.” Joseph wanted to honor God’s plan.

O Lord, by Your Spirit, help us to ever want what You want. Let us respond to You with unhesitating obedience.

No ifs. No maybes. No sugar-coating.

And, dare I say it? Probably not even any chocolate-coating.

 – Recipe for Chocolate Covered Bacon Skewers (and source for photo) is available here.

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Tempted? Here Are 15 ‘Inoculations’

2 May

I am a courageous woman … except when it’s time to get a shot at my doctor’s office. I’m like a little kid!

So, as I read about some of the things people do to help make “getting shots” less scary for children, I wondered if these ideas might work for me!Inoculations_HelpfulChoices

  • Practice giving shots to a doll.
  • Ask the doctor to use a numbing cream on the injection site first.
  • Distract! Take a sweet treat to focus on while getting your shot, or put a song on your iPod, or play “I Spy” during the process. Anything to keep from looking at the shot!
  • Remember “owies” survived in the past.
  • Ask for a kid-friendly nurse.
  • Help your child feel more in control. Put her in charge of something (like what Band-aid to apply).

Hmmm…. I could practice jabbing my hubby, take a sedative before going to the doctor … and a cookie … and some music. I could remember past visits, and how I survived the high blood pressure episodes before the shots. I could look for a really smiley nurse. And I could even bring my own Superwoman Band-aid, right? LOL!

I’m basically a needle wimp. Before I married my husband, I went to his aunt’s office for my blood test. When she approached me  with the needle for the test, I passed out! “Oh, she’s a real winner,” his auntie said.

I’m not the only one in the family with “shot jitters.” I took my dog to the vet in April for his annual inoculations. Roscoe has a love-hate relationship with his vet. He loves Moses, our friendly vet; he hates the nasty needles. Poor dear … he just about “trembled himself” off the examination table! I comforted him with hugs and a bit of bacon when we got home. (Hmmm… bacon … I could take that with me to the doctor’s office too!)

Now, I know inoculations—for people as well as animals—are necessary to produce immunity against diseases. They are good for us. Helpful.

So I was thinking today …

I wish I had a one-time inoculation against temptation. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Temptations are so daily. Yes, I have been freed from the penalty of sin, and someday I’ll enjoy freedom from the presence of sin. But in the meantime, during the sanctification process, I have to deal with the temptation to sin. But I do believe there are some proactive, intentional things I can do to reject sin and become more like Christ.

Might we consider them something like “INOCULATIONS” to help in the daily battle against temptation?

So here are my 15 inoculation suggestions:

1. Recognize Your Tendency to SinJames 1:14 explains how we are led astray by our natural desires. So don’t be surprised. Instead, get prepared!

2. Identify the Roots – We spend lots of time examining the “shoots” of sin, but seldom the “roots.” The enemy delights in using the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life  (1 John 2:15-16) to entice us to sin daily. These are the basic roots of all sins. So, what temptation do you really need to resist? Get to the core cause.

3. Figure out the Triggers – A trigger on a gun enables its firing. The power behind a trigger is the thoughts and emotions that arise—usually from a past experience. Triggers that pull us toward a sinful response can be almost anything:  fatigue, an intense desire, something visual that draws us, a sound or smell … almost anything! Because we are made in God’s image, we can respond to triggers in godly ways; but knowing our triggers can help us prepare to deal with them. Don’t try to figure them out alone; listen for God’s voice (Proverbs 3:5-6; James 1:5).

4. Expose any Lies You Believe – Many, if not all “triggers” have a false belief connected to them. For example, if you were once betrayed by a friend, Satan—the Father of Lies who desires to devour you (John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8)—would like you to believe you will always be betrayed by friends, and you might react in sinful ways to perfectly normal statements or circumstances. We give “power” to the trigger through the lies we believe.

5. Embrace the Truth from God’s Word – Attack the lies by bringing the light of God’s truth into your situation (Psalm 119:130; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Counsel your heart according to His Word. Discover the commands, values, morals and ethics in God’s Word, and determine to live according to His truth. The Word and Spirit can help us discern lies in our hearts and then “take captive” every thought to make it obedient to Christ (Hebrews 4:12-13; John 16:13; 2 Corinthians 10:5).

6. Think through the Consequences – “Sin” has wages that are deadly (Romans 6:23). “Sowing to the flesh” reaps “corruption”—a crop of worthless weeds (Galatians 6:7-8), and sin separates us from fellowship with God (Isaiah 59:2), because He cannot tolerate our sin (Habakkuk 1:13a). Our sin will eventually be exposed (Hebrews 4:13). Sadly, when we tolerate sin, we can become blind to spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14) and develop an insatiable desire (lust) for more sin! (Ephesians 4:18-19).

7. Ask God for Help – Don’t think you can stand against temptation by yourself. Eventually, if not right away, it will catch up with you. Pray for discernment, strength, courage, etc., and especially, sanctification (Matt. 6:13; 26:41; Luke 22:40). Learn to depend on God in prayer.

8. Resist Temptation* with Scripture – Don’t just know the truth that counters lies; use the Word of God to help you choose a new response to your triggers. You can even conquer hurtful memories from the past that entice you toward sinful responses as you renew your mind with scripture (Romans 12:1-2). Jesus used the scriptures skillfully as He battled temptation, and so can you (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:12, 2 Cor. 10:4-5).

9. Check Your Armor – Study the parts of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, and learn how to use it. Put on each piece—the offensive and defensive weapons! Why? “That you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (v. 11). There are spiritual forces of evil that are determined to bring you down. You need the armor so you can “stand firm” (v. 13). It’s always too soon to stop fighting the battle.

10. Plan for Victories, Not Defeats –  “Make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14). In other words, don’t enable temptation. Don’t plan for defeat. Get rid of those things that lead you into sin, or put safeguards in place to help you conquer in holiness. How? The first part of Romans 13:14 says, “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Freedom and victory are entirely possible in Christ (Galatians 5:1; Romans 6:4; 8:31, 37; Philippians 4:13; Ephesians 2:10).

11. Look for the Way Out – We’re told to avoid every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), but sometimes we’re thrown into situations that tempt us to compromise our purity. God’s advice then is to look for a “way of escape”—perhaps by running away, changing the conversation or using truth to diffuse lies (I Corinthians 6:1810:13-14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22).

12. Replace “Sin Opportunities” – David was tempted to sin (and he fell) with Bathsheba when he stopped ruling in righteousness and allowed himself to be give in to the opportunity for lustful sin (2 Samuel 11:1-4). We fight against temptation by replacing “sinful opportunities” with more worthy distractions or pursuits. Consider some positive activities. Have ready some “quick distractions” (scripture memory cards, a photo of your spouse, a hymn book, etc.) that would help “counter” your triggers. Note: you may need to embrace change in your current surroundings.

13. Seek Help to Win – Remembering we will all give account to God (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13), an “accountability partner” can help us stay on track and encourage us to do right when we are tempted (Galatians 6:1-5; James 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Proverbs 27:17). Seek the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit—He guides, counsels and helps us in our weakness (1 Corinthians 2:13; John 14:26; 16:13; Romans 8:26); but  when patterns of addiction are present, a godly, biblical counselor can also help.

14. Repent When You Fail – It’s not a matter of “forgiving yourself” for failings; it’s a matter of repenting of sin and receiving the forgiveness of God (1 John 1:9; Colossians 1:14). Any shame you feel is not from Him—it’s a lie from Satan. The biblical pattern is: recognize, repent, receive (forgiveness) and then recommit to walk in obedience to the Word of God.

15. Thank God for Every Victory – Our ultimate victory is bound up in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14), and our daily victories are possible in Him (Philippians 4:13; Romans 6:14; 8:37).

Did you notice that all of these “inoculations” are a CHOICE?

See all those action words? You do not have to be a victim. You can choose, in every situation, a powerful way to deal with temptations as they come.

Are any of these “inoculations” missing in your life? What can you do to better prepare for your times of temptation?

– Dawn

* NOTE: In some circumstances, we are not dealing with a temptation. God does not lead us into temptation (James 1:13), but He may be testing us to refine us (Psalm 26:2; Job 23:10; Jeremiah 9:7a). John Piper offered a short post on the difference between temptation and testing. Regardless of whether we’re facing a temptation or test, these “inoculations” are useful in helping us make choices between obedience and disobedience.

 

Spring(clean)ing into Action

15 Apr

I think spring cleaning must be hormonal. And it seems the women’s hormones are the only ones that kick into gear!

I came across an article written by Kellie Head, a mother of six, as a guide for her husband to help her with the spring cleaning. It was called “Spring Cleaning a la Testosterone.” (1)

Kellie says she used to wonder whether men play dumb when it comes to cleaning, or whether they are simply trying to avoid any sort of housework; “but now,” she says, “I think it may have something to do with a testosterone brain block or something.”

Kellie decided to make a “cheat sheet” to help her husband when spring cleaning comes around. It included a number of definitions, and I’ll only share a few here:

“Vacuum (cleaner) … much like the leaf blower except it sucks in , instead of blowing out. Don’t let this alarm you. It isn’t broken and doesn’t need more torque, speed, RAM, or whatever it is you did to the dishwasher.

“Dust pan … Contrary to popular belief, this is where you sweep the dirt, not under the hallway area rug.

“Dust Cloth … A cloth designated for removing tiny particles of dirt from every flat surface of the house. Hint: look for your old ‘lucky shirt.’

“Oven Cleaner … No, not the teenager. This is an actual product that you buy, spray in the oven and wipe out two hours later. You won’t need your welder’s mask for this task, but if it makes you feel more dangerous, go ahead.

“Squeegee … Same principle as washing the car windshield, and yes, real men do squeegee!”

And then Kellie added this final note: “While Duct tape may be a wonderful plumber’s aid, it’s really not the best solution for keeping the bathroom towels in place and Jamie’s teacher is still asking why his homework was stuck to his forehead last week. For these reasons, I have hidden the duct tape and distributed your picture to the local hardware stores. Don’t make me call Duct Tape Anonymous again….”

My dad had a thing for duct tape. I think that I inherited the duct tape gene. While traveling on a revival team during the years when girls all wore “maxi dresses,” my heel caught on the hem of my burgundy plaid jumper and it ripped out right before I was due to go on stage. No problem. I talked our sound crew out of a roll of duct tape and taped my entire hem. It stayed in place through several washings that year!

I’ve often wished I had the Martha Stewart gene, but no ~ spring cleaning is not my cup of … Lysol. It seems there’s always something else I’d rather do when my daily work is done ~ like writing, time with grandkids, water aerobics, or watching something off-the-wall on TV like “Doomsday Preppers.”

I imagine that a number of cultures have some form of spring cleaning. I read about the preparations Jews made for the Passover in the Old Testament. Talk about spring cleaning! Unleavened bread became the symbol of the Jews’ exodus from days of slavery in Egypt, and every observant Jew made sure there was no bread containing leaven anywhere in the house ~ not even a crumb ~ before the Passover celebration. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was so much a part of Passover that their names were sometimes used interchangeably (Exodus 12:15-19, 41; Luke 22:1). During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Israel was to eat only bread without leaven (which represented sin) for seven days. (For more about this feast and parallels to Jesus, the Bread of Life, read here.)

So getting rid of the leaven was a crucial cleaning ritual, and, while I realize that the Jews had a spiritual reason for cleaning their homes before Passover, I imagine that every Jewish woman stood back and admired her clean, “purified” home when she was done. There was the satisfaction that they had obeyed God, and they were ready for the blessings to come.

When I look at the diligence of the Proverbs 31 woman, I imagine that she (and her maids) cleaned her home for many reasons, too. A clean, organized home enabled her to care for her family better. Perhaps it allowed her to offer hospitality without worrying about how the house looked. A clean home was one way to honor her husband.

We can’t have perfectly neat, clean homes all the time. Life gets messy sometimes, and we let things slide. Our dust bunnies invite friends, and spiders crochet doilies in the rooms’ corners. But there comes a time when we need to pick up the broom and dustpan and get busy. We set our homes in order to create a place for greater peace and joy. The more we want to experience a clean, hospitable home, the greater effort we’ll make to do whatever is necessary to get it in shape.

And by the way, our hearts get “messy” sometimes, too. We let things slide, and one sin invites another.  There comes a time when we need to remember the words of 1 John 1:9, God’s promise of forgiveness and cleansing when we confess our sins to Him. When our hearts are clean, we experience more of what God has for us, including peace and joy! We need more passion for purity of heart, like King David, who prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

We need to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and watch out for the “leaven” that causes problems. Cleaning doesn’t just happen, with or without the Martha Stewart gene.

May we use the words of scripture to motivate us to spring into action ~ cleaning our homes and our hearts!

(1) http://www.familycorner.com/parenting/humor/springcleaning.shtml

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