Musings on Christianity 51

Musings on Christianity 51

What Are The Things God Finds Abominations?

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).”

I’m not saying that other sins aren’t sin. I’m not claiming that anyone can commit any sin without repentance and be saved. I’m not saying that there are things some people hate that aren’t on this list. But the word of God gave this expressed list as the seven things that are an abomination to Him. This, to me, implies that of all sins, these are the ones he finds most egregious. Indeed I willingly submit to more trained pastors to offer correction, but absent a degree in Biblical studies, I can only read and interpret the word as well as any other mortal applying basic hermeneutics. 

So I wanted to devote a chapter of this book to those seven things and offer application. I also hope others will contribute to the discussion. 

Haughty Eyes

Hebrew writers put a lot of stock in primacy. So I too feel we should pay close attention to that which is named first in any list in Biblical writing. To think of all the things I see in myself that I don’t like, my pride and arrogance may be what God finds most disdainful. 

Notice that all of these things speak to the heart and how one treats others (or looks at himself). Presented first is one who is arrogant or disdainful, for only such a person could look at others with haughty eyes. 

This changes my perspective a lot. I’ve spent my whole life constantly being indignant over some “wrong” I observed. Some may even want to say things like, “it’s ok to be angry.” But where does that anger come from? Where does any anger come from? In those times, I’m not righteously angry, disgusted over someone’s sins against God. I’m angry because I feel something was denied me; I feel like something was taken from me; I feel like I was belittled. 

All of those thoughts are self centered and based on a perspective as one with haughty eyes. People who feel enraged should carefully look at why they feel these emotions and challenge themselves to see it from a Godly point of view. If your anger is based on your own pride or desires, then your seeing through haughty eyes. This is what I tell myself these days when I’m angry (and I’m angry a lot). I don’t want to be an angry person anymore. I don’t want to be a prideful person anymore. I’m up against decades of practice where I validated my perceptions and opinions, seeking to elevate myself. This has to stop. This has to be purged from my life because I can’t love my neighbor if I look upon him with haughty eyes. Neither can anyone else.

If we are driven to “show” others how “right” we are, we no longer care about that individual. Working with this motivation doesn’t seek unity or understanding; it demands submission to your viewpoint. Christians should demand they submit to God’s viewpoint and no other’s. 

A Lying Tongue

I can’t stress this one enough. I’ve always found it odd that we will see protests against so many things (a lot of which are indeed sins against God), but I’ve never once seen a single protest against lying. I see people seek to justify white lies or lies to make others feel better. People lie to get into office or keep their office. People lie for entertainment. A lying tongue is one of seven things that are abominations to the Lord above, but it might just be the one thing everyone seeks to justify in their own right. 

Lying is wrong. There is no explanation that makes it right. There is no circumstance that makes it appropriate. There is no situation in which one should use it. 

So why then do people smile and nod their heads when others say, “Everybody lies”? 

Over and over again, Scripture tells us to seek truth. Love truth. Embrace truth. Fix your thoughts on what is true. 

This abomination is one that God even emphasized by placing in the ten commandments. In fact, one can argue this one abomination is repeated (though different in circumstances) three times (see below). 

When we live our lives, we should do so striving to never lie.

This doesn’t mean we are obligated to shout out whatever truth we wish. Shouting “fatty” to the overweight person on the street or calling someone who committed adultery a slut isn’t loving or honoring anyone. In fact, if you’re shaming others to elevate yourself, you’re looking upon that person with haughty eyes. Make no mistake, a demand to avoid speaking lies does not conversely demand one let whatever true words he wishes fly from his mouth.

Hands That Shed Innocent Blood

Here is where I probably offend a great many people. It’s obvious that society as a whole sees murder as wrong. This sin also has a place (a deeper emphasis) on the ten commandments. So I submit that most understand the killing of another is wrong.

This is why abortion is also wrong. The argument is based on the perspective of the term “life.” When does life begin? For those who seek to better define this concept, I have at least an intellectual understanding. If life doesn’t begin until birth, then an abortion isn’t the killing of an innocent child. 

However, I don’t really understand that line of thought. If we stomp on a cocoon, we don’t  say we terminated a cocoon. That butterfly or moth may or may not have died, but our act of stomping on it denied it that chance. 

Then there is the argument of choice. As a man, I’ve no doubt I’ll only be seen as another man telling women what to do with their bodies. Here’s the thing. I didn’t tell you to have sex. But this world sees sex as an activity like running or video games. To which I say, “OK.” But No runner blames the concrete for the blisters on his feet and no one with bad eyes ever condemns video games. 

It is my opinion that a woman and a man are indeed capable of having as much sex as they want. But sex seems to be the one thing everyone wants to do without being accountable for doing it. The thing I’m most against is abortion as a means of ultimate birth control.

Some men want to run off whenever any woman becomes pregnant. Some women want to have sex, but they don’t want to be parents, and I respectfully can’t see the difference between a woman who got pregnant without meaning to and the driver who hit a car she didn’t see. Sure, neither woman meant for it to happen, but no one expects the car to pay for injuries sustained in an accident. Some people shout, “pro-choice” as if they’re being denied the right to sex. No, they are not. But anyone who makes a decision of any kind must then accept the consequences of those decisions. You’re not being denied a choice, you’re being told to accept the path those choices put you on. Also, I would be the first to vote for a dead-beat-dad law, one that forces men who sire children to at least provide financially for the child he sired.

Naturally this leads to those who unfortunately didn’t choose. My grandmother was raped. She didn’t ask for sex. She didn’t choose to have sex. The choice was denied her. As a mortal man, I can’t express to you how sympathetic I am to those who had this most sacred choice stolen from them. My grandmother may not have had abortion as an option. I’m not even smart enough to know. What I do know is that she gave birth, and she died very shortly after. Her parents raised that child, and, unfortunately, that child didn’t grow up to be very good either. Some may see this as justification. I do not. To kill an unborn child is not denying the evil that person could become. To kill an unborn child is nothing more than killing an unborn child. What was done to someone was (in my human eyes) the worst thing anyone could do. If I were a political figure, I might not fight so hard against this sort of abortion. I can even admit that, but I will never say that action is right. At what point would any of us want to kill another for what someone else did? Should we kill the parents of a serial killer because they raised such child? Should a robber’s child be killed because his father was a robber? We should love, care for, and support victims of such crimes, lending them any help we can offer, but not matter how horrible the crime of the father is, does any child deserve to die? Would I turn my back on a woman faced with this unimaginable choice? No. Not at all. In this regard I just can’t imagine how difficult this would be. 

This also applies to pregnancies where one or even both parties may die. If I trust in God, I leave to him the choice to grant me life or grant me death. If I kill, I’ve lost my faith in God’s sovereignty and tried (though no mortal really can) to thwart or overpower His will. If we are alive, we have hope. Death denies anyone a chance to live on this earth. I speak of bodily death. Spiritual life and death is also in the hands of God.  

You may disagree (passionately) with this position. If you are Christian, however, there is no such grounds. It is simply against God’s wishes for any innocent blood to be shed for any reason. One may wish to debate this further, but once the word of God speaks, the real debate becomes whether or not one is willing to submit to God’s (not my) authority or not. Even there you do, in fact, have a choice to make. That right isn’t actually denied you. Some people say to make abortion illegal would only mean people would have illegal abortions. I’m of the opinion that abortion is already illegal in God’s eyes. Making it illegal in this nation would only align with God’s law. People do illegal things in this world. If one were to make murder legal, it wouldn’t suddenly make murder right in the eyes of God, it would only make murders feel free to do so. 

Does this mean I will personally lash out at you or condemn you? No. I don’t have the energy or time. I don’t have to judge you. If my words make you feel judged I would challenge you to ask yourself why. One only feels defensive when they already know they are wrong. If an unborn baby isn’t alive, then what is there to debate?

A final point of discussion I hear regarding abortion is one seeks to defend one’s rights “up to” birth. Pro life is more about pro birth. People only want babies to be born, but they don’t care what happens after the baby is born. 

These ideas may be the most ridiculous. If the world is responsible for every baby born than somewhere around seven billion people owe my children money for their college tuition. This argument assumes that every life is the responsibility of every other life, and that’s just not true. If we tone down this argument, claiming that we need more laws to help underprivileged children and more funding for such children, I can agree with that. I can petition and vote for such laws. In short, if the child is actually alive, I can fight for his rights, but before I defend a child’s right to prosperity or a happy life (something no human being is promised), I must first fight for the child’s right to live in the first place. I can do nothing but pray for a murdered child. 

This will probably be the most inflammatory portion of this entire book. This is absolutely a heated subject. Before anyone feels compelled to flood my blog with hateful (haughty) comments or take whatever other option they want against me, remember I’m nobody. I am one man with this opinion who feels that opinion is based firmly on the word of God. Maybe I’m wrong. The best news you have is that I’m not the judge. I’m just a man who gave his frank opinion on a volatile topic. You may freely make your opinions on this topic known. You have that right (you were born). But I already freely acknowledge your right to disagree and your ability to do whatever it is you want. I can’t stop you. All I can do, and all I have done, is point out my interpretation on how God sees it. 

A Heart That Devises Wicked Plans

This actually ties to the above point and several others. I’m of the opinion that any time one devises a way to do what he wants regardless of what God wants, he’s guilty of this abomination. When one uses self-justification to do something, they’ve already taken God out of the equation. Now, not every independent decision one makes is sinful. However, what this speaks to is the one who knows he should do otherwise instead seeks a way to do that which is in his own heart. 

I originally thought to type out several examples of this, but I am honestly making an effort to transition from the tension I very likely created in the above passage. 

The correct action from a Christian perspective: Filter your intended actions through the Word of God. The Pharisees were guilty of this abomination. They denied God’s command, “Honor your mother and your father,” and selfishly protected their money, “What I would give you is given to God (Mark 7:1-13).” This means that one can not violate God’s law under the pretense of following God’s law. 

When I catch myself looking for a way to do what I want, I hope God works in me a heart to first challenge myself to see if if the thing I’m seeking is a thing I should do. As stated in a previous chapter, we should be God-centered in our thinking. So rather than looking to devise ways to do or get what we want, when should instead seek to do what God wants us to do.

Feet That Make Haste To Run To Evil

This is a heart that is eager to sin. This could also be someone who knows what they are doing is wrong, so they rush to do so quickly, seeking to do what they want before anyone might see. 

More interestingly, this might be considered a catch all to any who rushes to sin. Even if the sin they seek isn’t on this list, if they’re rushing to their sin, they’re guilty of this abomination.  

A False Witness Who Breathes Out Lies

One may say this is a repeat of having a lying tongue, and I don’t argue. However, this specific purpose for lying bears discussion. Lying is bad in and of itself, but to lie by false witness is another particular form of such an abomination. One may lie to make himself seem better or to avoid punishment for his own sin, but one who lies about another is especially abominable. It’s wise (as all God’s words are) to cut off one who would avoid lying for one reason, but freely speak falsely about another. 

To take this further, this does not necessarily mean one who knowingly lies about another. Indeed, I would think one who is quick to speak about another without first determining the truth of his words is still guilty of this abomination. How often do we feel free to offer our opinions about others without bothering to see if we’re just rumor mongering or gossiping? Which brings us to our last abomination.

One Who Sows Discord Among Brothers

Call it what you want. Call it stirring the pot, playing Devil’s advocate. Call it venting or getting your thoughts off your chest. If you’re spreading rumors or speaking ill of someone who isn’t there, you’re sowing discord. 

To rebuke one or speak to someone to gain understanding and come closer together is good. However, if your goal is to justify yourself or convince others to see someone through your (perhaps haughty) eyes is to commit this abomination. 

In these abominations I notice a trend. Most of these abominations have everything to do with one’s viewpoint. Indeed many of these can be tied to a person thinking about his own desires. This means that one devoted to loving God and his neighbor would easily avoid these seven issues to begin with. But these sins are also (for the most part) easier to hide. One would have to verify everything another says to find the lies. And we are often haughty or prideful in our actions or viewpoints. 

I’ve been guilty of almost all of these abominations. I can only say I’ve never shed innocent blood. Even then, Christ tells us that one who hates his brother is guilty (Matthew 5:22), so in this, I’ve also proven my actions abominable. I don’t offer these from a position of one who’s never done any of these things. Instead, I confess my guilt and urge others to look at their actions to see if they are guilty of the same. It is the heart that loves God above all that resists the temptations to do these things, and the more one seeks God, the more likely one is to turn away from these abominations. Indeed the one who loves God can not do such things. 

For our panel: What are your thoughts on these seven abominations? While given special attention and named as abominations, does making those distinctions truly mean these sins are the greater sins? If these aren’t the greater sins, what are? What does someone like me (one who acknowledges he struggles with pride and arrogance) do to turn away? How does someone who’s exercised such pride and arrogance into his life even start to seek humility and respect?

Musings on Christianity 48

Musings on Christianity 48

Are All Commandments Equal?

Some ten years ago, I wrote a short story called Entrance to the Light. The story was about a group of people on a bus that crashes. After they die (not a Biblically sound premise by the way), they see God and understand their sin, repenting and receiving salvation. Again, you actually have to repent before you die, but my message was more about the last person in the story. He was a liar. The killer and the adulterer had been admitted because of their repentance, but the liar was denied because he never repented. The point was that unrepentant sinners go to Hell. 

This is true. Whatever your sin, no matter how bad or how small, if you do not repent of your sins and (according to my faith) turn to Christ, you will go to Hell. There is no sin you can commit that is so “minor” that a perfect and holy God will simply let it pass. Christ died so that whoever believed in Him and followed Him would have salvation. He did not die so that we could go on living our sinful lives however we wanted because He picked up the bill (a very broad paraphrase of Romans 6:2). 

However, while every unrepentant sin results in damnation, not every sin is equal in God’s eyes. The first five books of the Bible have several names. The Pentateuch simply identifies them as the first five books of the Bible. They are sometimes called the Laws of Moses or even (since Moses was God’s chosen spokesman) called “The Law.” 

Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy have the most extensive list in terms of the Old Testament. The sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7 expands on a number of those laws. Galatians has more information.  

First, not all of those laws from the Pentateuch are in effect. Christ declared all foods clean, so humans can really eat pretty much any animal they want (Mark 7:19-23). Christ declared that the sabbath was for man, not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27). There is no Christian requirement for a day of rest. With each representative (even Adam) there was a covenant, a promise made by God to His chosen representative. Christ brings a new (and the best) covenant, and through him we have an updated list of commands. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15).”  

So again, Christ did not die on the cross to allow us humans to live however we want and still go to Heaven. Instead, we show our love for Him by keeping His commandments. 

But if we analyze the history of each covenant, we see God responding differently to some sins than others while people are on the earth. Some sins He is (or even has been) far more patient with than others. Some sins required physical punishment or even the death penalty. 

We know we should strive to be perfect because God is perfect (Matthew 5:48), but we can not attain that perfection while we are still in the cursed flesh we inherited all the way from Adam. Ultimately, the combination of salvation and eternal life is a free gift of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).  

What all of this brings us to is the realization that there are some sins that are far more egregious than others. And here is where my limited knowledge becomes a source of frustration. From the day I wrote that short story to today, I’ve been far more concerned with the most important concept of Christianity. I was aware of the sin in my life, and horrified that my sin would lead to damnation. I wasn’t worried about the severity of that sin. I hated its presence in my life, and so I tried and tried to eradicate it, afraid that any sin, no matter how small, still led to Hell. 

That mindset would be true if we were still bound by The Law, but we aren’t. The Law brings death, Christ and grace bring life (2 Corinthians 3:6). 

So my mindset has shifted, as any who walk the path eventually see. We are unfinished works. 

In Salvation, we became new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

But while we are new creations of Grace, we are not yet complete and perfect works. God is working in us (Philippians 2:13). 

When confronting sin, the temptation is to respond to all sin in the same manner. If Christians respond to all sin the same, we’re missing some critical points. 

First, with the exception of repentance vs refusal to repent, God Himself did not treat all sin the same. If God responded to all sin with immediate and permanent death, we’d all already be damned. God did not kill Adam and Eve and then start over. Do you realize he could have? I do. It boggles my mind trying to figure it out. God had the power. There certainly wasn’t a lack of dirt to form a new man. But rather than destroy what he had already made and made well (Genesis 1:31), he redeemed man through Christ. When God gave Moses the Law, it came with various punishments for various crimes. Some theft required monetary replacement while some other crimes required stoning. 

Second, if we treat every sin the same way and lash out at it in the same way, that anger (even if it’s Biblically righteous) will just come off as noise. Think about the guy at work who’s always mad about his company. After a while, don’t or wouldn’t you eventually get to a point where you see him or her and think, “Oh, here he comes again. What’s he pissed about this time?”  When we elevate all sin to an extreme, we leave ourselves shouting and lamenting, and we just become noise. 

Third, treating all sin the same requires either elevating one sin to a status God didn’t give it, or degrading another sin below how abominable it is in God’s eyes.

This means we must seek out and work on all the sin in our own lives, paying close attention to those which might be bigger problems than others. This is a blessing. God is more patient with some sins than others. This allows me to focus on the issues in my growth that are more important first. Then, I can begin to work on the smaller issues.

I’m still not permitted to continue in my smaller sin just because it is smaller. Neither am I permitted to covet or practice one sin just because I’ve turned away from a more egregious sin. It simply gives precedent to the issues that are more important.

This means we have to be more diligent to the bigger things. This means we have to focus far more on some issues. If we allow lesser issues to overtake larger ones, we’ll inevitably fall into those issues and be lost. My pastor at church says, “If you make the little things big, you inevitably make the big things small.” The big things must always be the big things. We don’t ignore the little things. We just don’t let the little things become more important than they should be.

So what are the big things?  This is my failure. I am, regrettably, among those who looked at all sin the same. So I frankly don’t know the answer with confidence. However, the word of God (as always) provides some insight. 

The most important: Christ Himself gave us the two most important laws. These are the commandments we must ensure we’re following every day, all day, not matter what. If we’re not doing these two things, we’re already lost. But these laws are not simple tasks. It’s not like, “Mow the lawn, and make your bed.”

Indeed, these laws are about our hearts, and what we seek with them. 

“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).’”

There we have, straight from our Savior, the two things we must never fail to do. I’m of the opinion that if anyone can simply follow those two commandments, all would be well. God, our loving, merciful heavenly Father, knows our hearts. He is patient with us. His discipline is done in patience and love, to make us more like His son. 

Next chapter we will look at those two commandments more closely, but I first wanted to provide an overview on what I found in the Bible as the more important commandments and more egregious sins. 

Since we’ve already looked at the most important commandments, let’s look at egregious sins. Did you know that God expressed seven sins He hates in particular? As people continue to protest, debate, argue, and philosophize what things are worse than others, God kindly gave us a list. 

See Proverbs 6:16-19:

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breaths out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

We will study those in particular in future chapters as well. 

You see, I don’t have an exact count on all the commandments from God. Sure, there are the ten commandments, which we will look at as well. But if you just read Leviticus and Deuteronomy, you’ll see just how extensive The Law really is. Read the rest of the Bible and study Matthew 5-7 and Galatians, and you’ll see the Law is hopelessly extensive. We can’t follow it perfectly. Even if we were in some way able to start following every law perfectly from the moment we read it, we can’t go back and erase what we did in ignorance. This is, again, why the grace offered us through Jesus Christ is ultimately the only rational method of salvation. No human I’ve ever knowns has earnestly said, “I’m perfect. I’ve never done anything wrong in my whole life.” I’ve never even met someone who’s said, “Well I wasn’t born perfect, but since I’ve ready the Bible, I’ve never done a single thing wrong.” 

So if we’re all ready to acknowledge our imperfection, what way is there to be reconciled to a perfect and Holy God? The only possible reconciliation we can have is if someone who was able to be perfect and did live a perfect life paid the price required so that His righteousness could be credited to us (Romans 4:5). 

How can I proclaim to be perfect if I can’t even offer to you the extensive list of commandments that must be followed? I can’t even provide you the number. 

It’s horrifying. I’m supposed to honor a perfect God by following His commands, and I don’t even know what they are! Wait. Be patient. Remember, some things are far more important. God has revealed to us the things that matter most. As we grow, we will see more and more how we might honor God in what we do.

Does that mean anything outside of the nineteen (seven abominations, two great commandments and ten commandments) things I articulated here are simply “fair game?” No! Just because theft isn’t inherently listed there doesn’t mean theft isn’t wrong. In fact, I urge you to remember that one of the abominable sins is feet that make haste to run to evil. That one abomination accounts for any who rush off to a sin just because it’s not one of these listed. 

Also, if you’re using this book to structure your life, I’ve failed and even sinned against God. This isn’t the book you’re supposed to use to base your life on. The Bible is. This book is nothing more than one Christian pondering the only book that really matters. If more people just read and studied the Bible more every day, working to apply it in their lives, the world would be well.

How can I make such a blanket statement? I’ve already gone through the logic diagram. If you don’t actually believe in a God, nothing I say really has any importance to you anyway. 

The more valuable question is, “Why do I believe that statement above is true?” 

Well just go look at those nineteen things. Are they really so bad? I challenge you to think about a world where everyone treats each other as themselves. Where would police brutality go if every police officer treated a suspect the way they would be treated? Where would racism go if every white person treated every black person like, you guessed it, themselves, people? Where would we be if no one ever wanted to shed innocent blood or make haste to do evil? 

I dare say even if you didn’t believe in God and simply avoided those seven abominations, the nature of your salvation may still be a point of dispute for some (not for those who are Christian), but the condition of this planet would still be much better.  To rephrase, the world would be a better place regardless of who goes to Heaven or Hell. Here I must digress and point out that no matter how great this world could be, it would pale in comparison to Heaven. No matter how bad this wold could be, it would pale in comparison to Hell.

Yes, the first commandment still demands a whole-hearted love to God, the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac .Remember I’ve already acknowledged you either agree with that, or you don’t. This is a Christian belief. But God is patient. He’s shown His willingness to let humanity go where it truly wants to go (a paraphrase of Romans 1:24-25). This means though that we can turn away, but we can turn toward Him as well. On this world, we can hold fast to these principles and enjoy a more peaceful earthly existence.

This is a wold that could be. We could live in a world where everyone follows these commands regardless of where their hearts lie, and the world would be a better place. We wouldn’t look upon one another with haughty eyes and judgement. We’d simply live, and God would judge. We would judge ourselves and others according to the same standards, which is so much better than any system we have now. 

In future chapters, we’ll study this list more carefully. 

For our panel: What is the actual, comprehensive list of commandments a Post Pentecostal Christian should seek to follow? Are there other, more important commands or more egregious sins I failed to mention? How does one apply these commands in one’s own life? Does the committing of any of those sins immediately condemn a person? Are there truly any unforgivable sins?

Musings On Christianity 44

Musings On Christianity 44

But Christ Died For My Sins, So I Can Do Whatever Right?

Nobody’s perfect.

We’re only human.

Our God is a forgiving God.

It’s only natural.

I don’t know about those who may be reading this, but I’ve certainly said every one of those phrases at least once in my life. I wanted to live in a world where I could do what I wanted, even knowing it was wrong, and it would be fine because my sins were paid for.

Let’s look at this from a human level. Let’s say you had a loved one or friend who kept getting into financial trouble. You loan him a bit of money, but he falls right back into debt. You give him more, but he loses his house. You give him a place to stay, but he never makes much of an effort to find work or provide for himself. He seems perfectly content to do what he wants and let you pay for everything. He doesn’t even so much as help clean up around the house or even cook a meal.

Wouldn’t you, even the most patient and loving of you, eventually grow tired of it? Isn’t that person really just using you?

The above phrases are absolutely true, every single one of them. There are simply two ways (there are always only two ways when you boil them down) to look at it. One way is for a person to accept those truths and let them convict their hearts to strive to do what is right. The other way is to accept those truths and simply not bother to try at all. Even someone who fails time and again, but continues to work and pray and find ways to turn from their sins is still working under the first perspective.

It’s to those who try and shrug it off I offer this warning. You can’t live in sin and call yourself a follower of Christ (1 John).

“Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him (1 John 2:4-6).”

God is forgiving of those who strive to keep his word but slip (1 John 2:1). There is no such forgiveness to those who continue in sin (1 John 2:9-11).

“No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him (1 John 2:6).”

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (1 John 2:8-10).

We’re still working our way toward recognizing sin. But before we look at sin for what it is, we have to abolish the myths people cling to so they can excuse their sins or avoid the need to even look at sin. I’ve demonstrated that one must either believe in Christianity, or not. I’ve demonstrated that it is impossible for one to believe in Christianity and any other path, since belief in Christ means accepting him as the way, the truth, and the life.

Now we must abolish the myth that accepting Him somehow allows us to continue sinning as if we didn’t believe in Him. This simply isn’t true.

Paul pondered this same subject in his letter to the church in Rome. He asked a direct question: Can we continue to sin so that God’s grace can continue to abound? He offered a very simple response:

“By no means (Romans 6:2)!”

A true Christian dies to sin, so they can no longer live in it (Romans 6:2).  Romans 6:2 is 14 words long, and it holds such deep, meaning. The question Paul asks points out the very same excuses some people claiming Christ make without realizing they haven’t turned to Christ.

Paul and John were not the only people to dispel this falsehood.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15).”

Those are the words of Christ Himself.

Once more we can reject Christ and do as we wish, or we can accept Him, but if we accept Him we must, therefore, keep His commandments, for that is what those who love Him (and therefore accept Him) do.

Jesus didn’t mention this once in passing. He emphasized this in His final words to His disciples as I mentioned above, but it was a part of His ministry throughout His life on Earth.

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you should love Me, for I came from God, and I am here (John 8:42).”

There Christ openly states that love of Him demonstrates a relationship with God (since they are two parts of the one triune God).

Then Christ explains the actions of those who follow the devil.

“‘You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him (John 8:44).”

There is no position in which one can say he belongs to Christ and then continue to live for himself rather than for Christ.

This does not in any way indicate that one slip, one instance of failure means damnation. Again, the words I began this chapter with are all true. What this means is that those who follow Christ strive to live in accordance to His commandments.

For those who do this, Christ advocates on their behalf when they stumble (1 John 2:1).

God Himself declared David a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).  Yet David committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11:4, 2 Samuel 11 14-15).  How can such a sinner then be of God.

David absolutely sinned against God, but David repented each time. David accepted the severe consequences of those sins. He didn’t challenge God or question Him. He understood his sin for what it was. He asked for forgiveness. He accepted God’s sovereign punishment for those sins.

This is the difference between one who lives in sin, and one who lives in Christ. Never in scripture does David plot in this manner. He never (in scripture) says, “Well I know I shouldn’t murder Uriah, but I’ll do it, and God will forgive me.”

This isn’t to say he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. He did, and he worked very hard to hide it. But when rebuked (through the prophet Nathan), he confessed and repented.

That brings another important concept to mind. Even those seeking earnestly to please God sin, and those sins have consequences.  David, God’s anointed, sinned, and he, the one whom God declared was after His own heart, was punished. If David was not free of consequences, who is?

This shows us that even though our sins are forgiven, they are not necessarily without punishment. If God still reserves Earthly punishment for His chosen, what hope do those who deny the Son He sent to rule us have?

The myth that, “I’m Christian, so nothing will happen to me” or “I’m Christian, so I can sin, and God won’t judge me” dies.

What about the myth that “I’m blameless, so I’m guaranteed a wonderful, prosperous, pain-free life”?

Job was that man. He indeed had a life full of prosperity and blessing, but his story in the Bible isn’t about how great his life was or how great it ended. Instead, it shows us Job’s great trail. Even Job had no right to demand a life free of pain from God. Even Job had no right to question God and his sovereignty. Job, a man who was blameless (Job 1:1) saw the worst sorts of emotional and physical pain. His fortune was taken. His family was taken. Everything he had was taken. Indeed, he was once more blessed beyond even what he once had (Job 42), but his life wasn’t free from pain or turmoil. How much more those of us who openly admit we have done wrong?

No Christian life is free of pain. No Christian life is absent of blessings. Indeed, on this Earth, God gives and takes away (Job 1:21). God does this to sinners and the righteous (Matthew 5:45). That’s because the real reward is in Heaven. The real reward and blessings exist in God’s kingdom, and those rewards are only reserved for those who serve Him.

Nobody’s perfect, but a Christian strives to be as much as he or she is able, trusting in God’s forgiveness and accepting His divine sovereignty.

We’re only human, but a Christian strives to live like Christ, God in the flesh.

Our God is a forgiving God, but no Christian tests God (Deuteronomy 6:16 and Matthew 4:7).

It’s only natural, but a Christian doesn’t live of this world, but of Christ (1 John 2:15-17).

We had to dispel the myths those outside the faith want cling to. We had to reveal those myths to those who are of the faith but don’t understand they’re misguided.

We had to do these things before we look at sin for what it is because only those who see sin for what it is can then truly choose to live in it or turn away from it.

Again, that choice belongs to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t now be Christ’s and live whatever life you feel “makes you happy.” You can’t be Christ’s and sin as you please. You can’t be Christ’s and follow after other religions.

These are the truths a Christian must accept. You can accept them or reject them, but you can’t reject them and accept them.

For our panel: What are some other excuses people cling to? How would you dispel those excuses? What are some other areas of the Bible we can study to better understand the myths we’ve covered?  How do we come to terms with the fact that even Christians receive trials and consequences for sins? How does a Christian stay focused on the real rewards even while losing some (or even, unfortunately all) of their Earthly blessings? How does can one know they’re lost in sin?

Musings on Christianity 42

Musings on Christianity 42

The Choice That Ultimately Determines Other Choices

We’re approaching a discussion on what is expressly forbidden by the word of God. That is where the rubber essentially meets the road. One can not truly discuss Christianity without eventually discussing those things that are expressly forbidden.

Before I begin considering this matter, I must first take a step back and ask why any organization would need rules. It seems silly for me to have to do this, but it is actually necessary.  You see, when a college star joins the NFL, he agrees to follow the NFL Code of Conduct. No one blinks.  When a young person decides to join the military, they swear to uphold the Constitution and obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice. No one blinks. My point is that people freely join groups, and they accept the boundaries that group places on them. When one decides to work somewhere, there are rules and policies in place that everyone at that place of business is required to follow. No one blinks.

But ask a Christian what is right in accordance to their faith, and suddenly people climb out of the wood work to talk about how right or wrong these rules are. I won’t deny that some people who claim to be Christian make this situation more difficult. This is because the Bible doesn’t exactly have a long list of expressed sins. It really doesn’t! I’m not even talking about those sins that are currently hot debates in today’s society. I’m currently talking about people adding to faith, which ironically is a sin in and of itself. That’s right. Adding to the word of God is a sin, so anyone who adds a burden to the faith that isn’t expressly forbidden by the word of God is actually a violation of the word of God.

It frustrates me when people try to use my faith as a platform to push their own agenda. It’s ugly. A Christian’s primary duty is to love God. Then there are those who seek to be God’s avenger. God doesn’t need an avenger. Vengeance belongs to him. He’s perfectly capable of meting out justice, and He’s even ordained the day when he will separate the saved from the damned. I don’t have any business punishing people for what they do. However, those God places in authority are responsible for upholding the law. God granted them full authority to judge and prosecute offenders. He ordained this in Exodus and confirmed this ordinance in Romans (among other sections of the Bible).

I’m just a guy, so it’s not my job to judge anyone—except myself and my family. This is because I am the head of my family, and I am responsible for my own actions. No, I won’t attempt to punish anyone who violates an expressed Biblical command unless that person is a member of my family, and even then, just as God has granted me mercy through Christ, I too may be merciful if I deem it appropriate. Any parent can punish a child for, say, not doing homework. Or a parent could simply rebuke the child and leave it there. This is an example of my point.

When I sin, sometimes my wife (or another brother or sister in Christ) lovingly rebukes my sin. It’s never fun, but I respect those rebukes because I respect the faith. People sometimes balk, and rightly so, at some of the “rules” churches put on their congregation. For me, the rules a church has should be based on the word of God and nothing else. This is one reason I love my church so much. It takes Biblical discipline very seriously. It’s also very careful what rules it enforces.

What might scare some people is that some organizations have rules and forces others to follow them. They’re called cults. But there is a difference between a cult, which seeks to dominate and possess people, and any other sane organization. A cult seeks to possess and own. I can leave my church tomorrow, and nothing would change except the place in which I choose to worship. Even Christ gave people the choice. They could choose to follow Him or not.

What happens, however, is that even non Christians understand the implication of those words. Christians, as I mentioned in an earlier chapter, believe that Christ is the only way to Heaven. Therefore, those who don’t follow Christ aren’t going. It’s as simple as that.

If I’m wrong, I’m doomed anyway, and what does it do to anyone else? I’ve mentioned this several times, so it’s time to look at it from another perspective.

Ultimately every person must decide what he or she believes. Is Christianity right or wrong? One must choose.

Those who choose Christianity is wrong can do whatever it is they want. They can choose another religion, but they must then submit to the rules of that religion. One day, we’ll die and figure out who was right. My point is, if one decides Christianity is wrong, they are completely at liberty to do whatever it is they decide to do within the confines of the civilization in which they live. Of course, no American is free to walk around murdering people. That’s against the laws of this nation. But they may choose to do things that violate Christian law so long as it doesn’t violate state or federal law. 

If they’re wrong, they’re doomed just as I am doomed if I am wrong.

Those people who choose Christianity is wrong may simply choose to follow no religion at all. They can do whatever is right in their own eyes. They’re still at the mercy of the state and federal laws of wherever they live, but the rest is a decision they hold the right to choose.

If they’re wrong, they’re doomed just as I am doomed if I am wrong.

Those who choose Christianity is right must then submit to the rules established by God’s word. How can one say, “I truly believe Christ is the only way into Heaven,” and then do things Christ expressly forbids? The one who makes this choice must realize and accept that following Him is a decision they’ve already made.

That creates a lot of pressure from one point of view, but we remember that Christ isn’t just our master. He’s also our advocate. When we sin, just as any sin must be paid for, we can realized that Christ has already paid for that sin. When we’re tempted, we can turn to Christ for strength because He also was tempted (see Matthew Chapter 4). Even when we fail, we can still turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness because He understands what it means to be tempted. We don’t sin without remorse because we want to be like Him, but we rejoice in his forgiveness because He has paid for our sins and speaks on our behalf with the Father.

All of this is only relevant if one chooses Christianity as their faith. That single choice demands the rest of these ideals also be accepted.

If Christianity is wrong, Christians are doomed just as others are doomed if they are wrong.

I have to establish this before I can discus other, more emotionally charged, topics. If you are one who passionately believes Christianity is wrong, then the rules of a Christian life are naturally going to be equally abhorrent to you. But if one takes a step back and says, “He’s a Christian, so he’s going to believe these things,” one can choose to either listen for understanding or walk away because they already know they disagree with the principle any Christian should stand on.

However, if one chooses Christianity is right, then those things Christ expressly forbids must be accepted and avoided.

I don’t know how many atheists really balk at Christian values. I really don’t. But I’ve seen plenty of Christians argue over Biblical law. That’s the thing I don’t understand. If you don’t want to follow Christian laws, then don’t be a Christian. I’m not casting anyone out of anything. I’m not “kicking you out” of the club or “turning my back” on you.

Two people sit down to a game of cards. The game goes on for a while until a man makes a play that’s illegal.

“You can’t do that,” the first man says.

“Why not?” the opponent asks.

“Because it’s against the rules,” the first man explains.

“That rule is stupid! I’m not playing anymore.”  The opponent gets up and leaves.

Anyone who chooses a way of life must then live in accordance to that way. In this, Christianity isn’t any different. No one is forcing anyone to be Christian, not even Christ. However, anyone who chooses to do anything must do so in accordance to the rules.

Just like that game of cards above, the rules to Christianity are in a very-easily located rule book, The Bible. You can read it and decide you want to do what it says (as well as any fleshly person can), or you can read it and decide you don’t want to do what it says.

Again, that is the first choice that determines every other choice. But if people can simply understand that is the most important choice, maybe they could at least accept those differences and live in peace.

I’m a Christian. I’m going to vote in accordance to my faith. I’m going to raise my children in accordance to my faith. I’m going to treat my wife in accordance to my faith. I’m going to work in accordance to my faith. I’m not perfect. I’m going to make mistakes. So I have fellow Christians who can guide and correct me when I make a mistake just as anyone I play cards with might remind me of a rule I have to follow. They don’t do this so that my game is less fun. They do this so that I can keep playing.

The guy at work who comes to me and reminds me I should be working isn’t trying to ruin my life. He’s trying to keep me from getting into trouble or even getting fired.

The same is true of Christianity. Discipline, which is training, not punishment, isn’t to hurt the individual, it’s to help them. The more we remember that, the more we appreciate those who keep us in line.

For our panel: Why is it people are so passionate about debating what Christians should and shouldn’t do? Why are some people so ready to claim to be Christians and yet still so unwilling to obey clearly-expressed laws of God? Can people have it both ways? Can people say they’re Christian and still do whatever the feel is right? Why not? Are Christian rules put in place to control us or make our lives miserable?

Musings on Christianity 19

Musings on Christianity 19

Does God Accept Me For Who I Am?

The short answer is no. It sounds brutal and cruel, but that’s just the way it is. Neither is it true to think that Christ doesn’t turn people away. We want to think that He wouldn’t. We want to believe that we can do whatever we want (no matter how sinful) and Christ will just be “cool with it.” But, I say again, that just isn’t true.

There are many who might be outraged by this fact. They will talk about how Christ loved us and Christ died for us. Indeed He did. However, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to Heaven. I want to put a pin on that last clause long enough to finish this first, and most important, thought.

The words of Christ Himself:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name, and do many might works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Readers, if you are under any sort of impression that the simple lip service of “Christ is king,” or “I believe in Christ” is in and of itself enough, you are under the incorrect belief. Those of who you think Christ “doesn’t turn anyone away,” needs to read that entire chapter of the Bible much more closely. 

Who then will he not turn away? Christ gave the answer in the above passage: “ … the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.”

Sin is not in any way a part of God’s will.

Why then do we want to pretend otherwise? The answer is in the sin that you love. As a Christian, I want to seek out those sins I’m coveting. Those sins I love more than God. They exist. All people sin. The Christian seeks sanctification. The lost live in their sin.

“No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.” (1 John 3:6)

I’m of the opinion that we live in a world where we want to be able to sin and still get to Heaven. We want to pervert the love of Christ to mean, “He’ll let me do whatever I want and still take me.” 

It’s a very terrifying moment to realize that’s not true. It was for me. So the next thing people tend to do is try to minimize sin. They try to make some sins more terrible than others, and there are indeed sins God hates more than others, but that doesn’t make the other sins acceptable.

Our human rationalization is, “My sin isn’t all that bad, so I should be OK.”

Sin is bad. You’re not OK. If you live in sin, whatever it is, you don’t know Him, and you haven’t seen Him (see the above verse).

So, let’s go back up to that statement I mentioned above.

Assertion: Not everyone is going to Heaven. I think most would agree. I think if I talked to 1 million people, not one of them would claim everyone is going to Heaven.

But if you’re willing to acknowledge that not everyone is going, you have to then also acknowledge that Christ does indeed turn people away. Who then does He turn away? Refer back to the first passage I quoted in this chapter. Any who doesn’t do the will of the Father, will be turned away.

I’ve said several times that sin is sin. I even tend to not focus on any one sin. It’s just too volatile. Why? Because there are people who love their sin more than their brother (which is actually another sin). There are people who love their sin more than God (yet another sin).

So what happens is mortals rationalize. They say sin is sin from one side of their mouth, and then live in their sin as if that’s justification. Such actions then imply that one can do whatever he wants because sin is sin, but no rational person believes this.

To allow this mental debate to have a resting place, let’s pick a sin that no one fights for the right to do: murder. I’m not even talking about how Christ further defined murder in Matthew 5:21-48. For the sake of this mental experiment, I’m talking about the actual, physical murder of one person by another. I’m fairly confident no one is going to try and justify this act to me in any way. (Of course now some one is going to try some round about manner of justification such as the death penalty or self defense. Please just acknowledge then that all you’re doing is arguing for the sake of dissension and move along.)

I’ve never once seen a social media post or campaign topic that tries in any way to make it OK for people to kill, so I’m sticking with that to avoid more common, more politically acceptable sins.

  If saying, “I believe in Christ,” is enough to get into Heaven in and of itself, then do you believe that a man, a serial killer, could claim such and then continue to kill whomever the thrill of it called him to kill? Of course not! I’d venture to assert that even if a man had killed a hundred people and genuinely repented, falling down on his knees to beg Christ for forgiveness, paying for his crimes by turning himself in and accepting his punishment (You see, punishment by a court of law isn’t murder, those dissenters referenced above), never killing again, you would still want to condemn that man to Hell.

This is because killing is wrong. It is. It’s a sin, but so is the sin you’re holding on to. So too is the sin you want to keep and justify in doing so because that sin is more socially acceptable.

The truth of the matter is the angels rejoice over that murderer who repented and turned away from his sin. They do so more over him than the (self) righteous person who’s never killed a person, but committed several “lesser” sins, believing he is above the need to repent and turn away.  (This is a personal paraphrase of Luke 15:7.)

In my life, I’ve thought about people I wanted to go to Hell. They’d done things no one would argue are evil. I wanted wrath for that sinner and that sin. Then, I wanted grace and forgiveness for my own sin. Am I God that I should choose who goes to Heaven and who doesn’t? No, and neither are you.

Just as man can not condemn another man for their sin, neither can man declare another man righteous. We are not the way to Heaven; Christ is. (John 14:6) 

We only have the written word to guide us, but we need to pay attention to it. We can’t fall into the belief that lip service is enough. We can’t say we believe in Christ and continue to do all the things he said are wrong. We can’t do that any more than an abusive husband can claim to love his wife and continue to beat her. We can’t do that any more than an addict can claim to love her child and then lose him while drugged out of her mind. Even if those people mean what they say, and those statements have some immeasurable truth to them, they can’t argue they love their loved ones more than the sins they commit. No one in Heaven or Earth would believe them.

So then where is this leading to? I beg you to remember the two most important commandments given to us by Christ Himself:

“And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27. See also Matthew 22:36-40 and Mark 12:28-31)

Therefore, anyone who puts any sin above God, whatever that sin is, is in violation of what Christ says are the most important two laws. We have to cast aside our sin for the God we claim to love just as we have to do for our neighbors.

This explicitly tells us we do in fact have to change for those we love. If we refuse to change, we are in fact, showing how little we love them. How contrary to popular philosophy and self-help books that statement is! 

But don’t we do that? Don’t we break up with the boyfriend or girlfriend who wont’ give up smoking or some other undesirable habit? Don’t we leave the relationship where the person is selfish? 

So if we on Earth know to turn away those who refuse to love us enough to turn from the wrong they do, so don’t we also realize Christ will do to us?

And now for those who feel this truth is a little on the “unloving” side. All the cases I used above were clearly things anyone would accept as reasonable. But what about that guy who never, ever, puts the lid to the toilet down. What about that wife who works a bit more than you’d like and doesn’t have time to help around the house or even just offer time for affection that you’d like?

Well, this is where forgiveness and Christ’s infinite love comes into play. We mortals have all sorts of deal breakers. Think about this. We have several (sometimes difficult to understand and/or explain) things we will immediately end a relationship over. We want to do that, but imagine a God who would be OK with anything? How does that even make sense?

However, where we would summarily end any relationship over any number of deal breakers, God, through Christ, is much better than all of us. You see, Christ is forgiving. For those who repent and turn away, there is no deal breaker. There’s no crime so great one can commit that Christ’s blood can’t wash away. This, is how glorious he is. And in that grace and mercy, Christ understands us. He advocates for us. (1 John 2:1)

That means that murderer is indeed forgiven, even if you don’t like it. That means anyone can be forgiven, if he but accepts Christ into his heart and repents of his sins. He did this for a thief on a cross who minutes before was ridiculing Christ. (Luke 23:43)

Sin is sin. There is not greater or lesser sin you could choose to live in and do continually that Christ, in his perfect, righteous glory as king of kings, would ever accept.

However; Sin is sin. There is no sin Christ’s blood can’t wash way. We may stumble, but Christ knows our hearts. He knows our desire to change and be more like Him. Those who accept Him and obey Him are among his elect. Those who strive to live as He lives and do as He does will be welcomed.

Consider this as you look at your life and the sins you carry. I’m not beyond this scrutiny. I look at the sin in my life and it horrifies me. Some sins fell away, but it seems like sin is some sort of hydra, popping up with two heads more each time I turn from one sin. The goal is the keep growing. The goal is to aspire and live to be more like Christ. Then His grace and mercy will be with you, and nothing will take you from God’s hands when you are His. (Romans 8:39)

For our panel: How does one turn from sin? What does it mean if I repent of a sin (whatever it is) and then succumb to it? Is backsliding a real thing? Does being a Christian mean being perfect?

Musings on Christianity 7

Musings on Christianity 7

I’ve Repented! Why Am I Not Like Christ?

A man decides he wants to be in shape. He brings a bag to work with him. After work, he hits the gym. He does this for a week. The next week, he takes off his shirt in the bathroom and looks in the mirror.  The gut is still there. He gets on the scale, he’s only lost one pound.

Why isn’t he skinny? Most would answer simply. It takes time and commitment.

Sanctification is no different. When one repents, accepts Christ as his savior, and even gets baptized (which is a symbol of salvation, not a requirement), he’s just filled his metaphorical gym bag. No human in the flesh will ever achieve perfection because he’s still made of sinful flesh. Therefore he’s literally composed of sin. His heart is born in sin (Psalm 51:5).

Just like that man who’s realized he needs to live a healthier life, so to a repentant sinner  is one who’s realized he needs to live a more spiritually healthy life. Just like that man in the gym, so to does the man who’s just repented needs to realize that it takes time and commitment.

Paul is an amazing source of encouragement for sanctification. Whenever he talks about growing in faith, he talks like the beefiest muscle man speaking to that wimp who’s just decided to hit the gym. 

He teaches us to discipline our bodies and keep it under control (1 Corinthians 9:27). He teaches us to see the day of Christ’s second coming as the goal, to run for it, to finish (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Another great stumbling block for me (and some others I know) is the discouragement that comes when you’ve dedicated your life to Christ, and then you sin. You begin to mourn, but an unaware Christian can fall prey to the Devil’s schemes by beginning to believe that God has forsaken him.

Have you ever thought, “I can’t stop sinning! God must not want me”?

I have. I’ve had sins I’ve struggled with that made me feel ashamed and weak. I have sins I struggle with that make me feel foolish and slow. That’s when this tiny verse from 1 John comes to mind. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” (1 John 2:1 partial).

If you stop there, your discouragement only grows. Read the whole verse, and even the rest of the second: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2: the rest of 1-2)

This isn’t a message saying, “don’t worry if you sin, God doesn’t care.”  To complete this picture, we need one more verse that is typically (even by me) misunderstood.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Remember that sadness and remorse I mentioned above? That’s a good thing. The difference between the redeemed and the unredeemed has a pretty simple measuring tool (there are a few, but I’m focusing on this one): The unredeemed don’t mourn their sin. They don’t feel guilt. The most painfully misguided think their sin is like some sort of unlimited credit card that Jesus will pay off. Let’s think about this realistically. 

A father gives his son a credit card with which he should buy some food. The son proceeds to buy whatever he wishes, choosing not to purchase any food, but instead using it for women, drink and debauchery. When that father receives the bill, do you think he’ll simply pay it with no complaint? Won’t he instead say, “Son, I gave you that card for things you need, and you just used it to put your life into a deeper pit.” Would that father, no matter how much he loves his son, choose to still pay that bill? Now you could run off on this tangent, but the truth is the father (even if he really wanted to, which I affirm he wouldn’t) would ether be unwilling or unable.

When we mourn our sin. When we strive to change our lives, we stumble. Like the person who’s just started working out, we pull muscles. Our commitment fades for a moment (usually because of discouragement, which could deny them the spirit necessary to push through, or because of a true unwillingness to put forth the effort, which shows the person never wanted to change in the first place).

But if we remember what Jesus said, we can seek that comfort, and there is much comfort to be found. This comfort doesn’t brush our sins aside as if they don’t matter. They lovingly tells us we’re forgiven. They tell us to rise again and trust God, who’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

This is all to help one realize becoming Christian in no way makes you perfect or sinless. It’s the beginning of the journey, and the end comes when you finish the race. Run! Sprint! If you fall, get back up and keep running! The Lord is there waiting for you! He’ll wrap you in his arms and welcome you. You just have to keep running.

For our panel: Do you ever feel discouraged? What do you do if you do feel discouraged? How does one address any critics who may become aware of a sin you’ve committed? I guess that question is in regard to people who want to call you a hypocrite. When you stumble, in whatever way, how do you maintain that you are indeed saved even though you’ve just sinned? How should a person respond if they sin? Does a person’s sin immediately mean he’s not saved? Are you willing to share a sin you may have struggled with even after salvation?

Sonnets for My Savior 34

Sonnets for My Savior 34

What I Need

I have had seasons of plenty,

but I still need Jesus.

In times when I don’t have any,

Rather than riches, I need Jesus.

When my stomach is empty,

more than food, I need Jesus.

When I attain a position of great respectability,

I still need Jesus.

His sacrifice makes me clean.

His righteousness covers my iniquity.

When before God, for me He will intervene.

His power is sufficient to cover my frailty.

No matter how much I have or how little I am given,

I need Christ because through Him, I am forgiven.



Rely on Him

We rely on you, for you are greater than any other.

No illness is cured without your providential hand.

Our hope is in you, you and no other.

No one can do the great things that you can.

We seek you first, for you are our deliverer.

You guard us from temptation.

We seek you first, for you are the great healer.

You save not just our bodies, but our souls with Your salvation.

Our trust is in you, for you are our creator.

All that you do is for your glory and our good.

You are our most holy and sovereign maker.

Let us always seek you just as we should.

You are patient and faithful,

We rely on You, our God most merciful.



Though We Didn’t See

We didn’t place our fingers in the wounds on his hands.

We didn’t place a hand into his side.

Yet we still follow his commands.

We still praise him with arms open wide.

He hasn’t visited us in person.

He didn’t sit with us at our table.

But of his resurrection, we are certain,

and we imitate him as well as we are able.

We haven’t seen him with our own eyes.

We didn’t see his death on the cross.

Yet we still trust him to lead our lives.

We still look at the things of this world and count them all as loss.

It doesn’t matter that we didn’t see;

with all our hearts, we still believe.



Let Them Go

It isn’t my time,

But the time God has given me.

When I think of the hours and minutes as mine,

I’m not thinking as I ought to be.

It isn’t my money,

But the money God has given me.

If I insist on being greedy,

How can I claim Christ has set me free?

It isn’t my food,

But the food God has given me.

If I maintain a selfish attitude,

I place Christ below the desires of my body.

The glory of heaven is more than I could ever know,

So please great me a heart that’s willing to let these Earthly treasure go.


Do You Love Him?

What would you do for the one you love?

What wouldn’t you do for his or her sake?

How do you show your love to the one above?

Is your love truly genuine, or is it pretense? Fake?

Would you cast your friend aside for success?

Then why is Christ not worth your time?

If friends are nice to have in times of stress,

how much more valuable is an all-powerful Savior like mine?

If you would sacrifice for a child or mother,

what are you willing to sacrifice for Him?

If you would loan money to a brother,

why can’t you make an offering to Him?

If your declare you love for Him,

How do you show that love? What do you do for Him?




We measure them from worst to most acceptable,

The sins we commit.

We compare ourselves to those more contemptible

Rather than seeking wisdom through the Holy Spirit.

We point out the sins of others

To make our own sins seem less despicable,

But there is no profit in comparing ourselves to our brothers.

We are all sinners; thus we are equally impeachable.

This is why we need a Savior.

Only His righteous blood can make us clean.

No act of man can win God’s favor.

But faith in the true vine can make any withered plant green.

One isn’t good because others are more depraved.

This is why submitting to Christ is the only way to be saved.




I could breathe, but there was no life in me.

I could bleed, but there was no joy in me.

I looked alive to all who could see,

but existence and life are not the same to me.

I was blind even though I had eyes.

I was deaf even though I had ears.

My words of pride were only lies.

I couldn’t find a way to escape my fears.

Through His death, I have life.

Through His resurrection, I have justification.

His grace has brought joy to my life.

His love has given me salvation.

Without Him, sin can only thrive,

but through Christ my Savior, I am alive.

Sonnets For My Savior 23

Sonnets For My Savior 23

To Miss the Target

God’s will should be the prize,

the target one should aim for.

To ignore the target is sin and your demise,

To miss the target is a sin against the God we adore.

Aim for the target that is His will.

Discipline your body and mind.

Work and train so that you might hone the skill

to perform as you should; cast off any bad habits that you find.

However; none are without flaw,

we inevitably fail to hit the target.

For no mortal flesh can perfectly follow the law.

The temptation rises, and, no matter how disciplined, we forget.

Thanks be to God for Christ our advocate, our propitiation.

Thanks be to God through Christ, through whom we received our salvation.



David chose to cut Saul’s robe

rather than his neck.

Saul had chased David across the globe,

yet David kept his anger in check.

David could have killed Saul where he slept,

but instead took Saul’s spear and water.

Saul’s jealously led him to anger, and David wept,

but still, David did not give in to the counsel’s advice to slaughter.

If David had his enemy at his feet,

how much more could God do to us as he wills?

Instead he sent his son to perform his redeeming feat,

for with his death our punishment Christ fulfills.

When all we deserve is death under God’s fury,

What fools would turn aside this chance at mercy?


How I Would Be Treated

Though they may treat me with anger,

let me act with love in all situations.

Though they my avoid me like a stranger.

Let me welcome them like my closest relations.

Though they may hate me, and perhaps justly so,

let me forgive as You have forgiven me.

Though they may make promises that their actions never show,

Let me act as I say I will and be as I say I’ll be.

Though they may fail to come when I need,

let me be steadfast, faithful, and reliable.

Though they may strike me and make me bleed,

let me hold my temper lest I prove myself despicable.

Let me be loving, honorable, and respectful of men,

for that is how I would be treated by them.


The Good News

He died on the cross for our sins;

as the Pslam says, “They have pierced My hands and feet.”

Isaiah said, “But He was wounded and crushed for our sins.”

Indeed it was prophesied, and now it is complete.

He was buried and raised on the third day;

as Isaiah said, “He was put in a rich man’s grave.”

But God would not let this death stay.

The Pslam said, “You brought me up from the grave.”

He appeared to appeared to Peter;

he appeared to the apostles and to 500;

He appeared to Saul, who then became a believer.

All those who accept this truth become kindred.

This is the gospel by which we are saved.

Through him we’re freed from sin, no longer enslaved.


The Empty Tomb

The stone was rolled away,

revealing the tomb was empty.

He had risen on the third day

as it was written at the beginning of history.

They did not see Jesus leave,

He had already gone.

Then the women came to grieve

just as the sun began to dawn.

They wouldn’t have known if the stone hadn’t moved.

Any could have argued he still slept.

But the barren tomb only proved,

he had risen as he said, and the women remembered and wept.

You see, the stone wasn’t moved to help Jesus leave;

it was rolled aside so others could see and then believe.


Reasons to Praise

How wondrous and mighty is He!

How merciful! How just!

He saved a sinner like me.

He soothed my anger and pulled me from my sinful lust.

How gracious and kind is He!

He heals our diseases! He gives us comfort when we’re in pain!

He helps the blind to see.

His might releases our strain.

How righteous and holy is He!

He is sovereign! He is perfect!

This universe came alive through his decree.

He sees every flaw; there is no transgression he will fail to detect.

Praise be to our God almighty.

All glory and honor belongs to Thee!


My Words

I say people should be kind and giving,

but I cling tight to my money when others have need.

I say people should let go and be forgiving,

but I hold grudges and never concede.

I say people should be helpful,

but when others cry out, I tell them I haven’t the time.

I say people should sacrifice,

but when asked to help, I hold fast to what I consider mine.

I make excuses for the the rules I say others should follow.

I rationalize the misdeeds I judge others for doing to me.

But I no longer want my words to be hollow.

I want to treat others as I wish to be treated, so my conscience can be free.

But I don’t have power or wisdom to do this on my own.

But by the help of Jesus, I can change. I have help. I am not alone.

Sonnets For My Savior 17

Sonnets For My Savior 17

Turn Away

Turn away from your sins

regardless of their name.

The path to righteousness first begins

By seeing each sin as one and the same.

Do not seek to weigh one sin against another.

Do not claim another’s sin is worse than your own.

For the Lord in Heaven, your almighty Father,

equally hates any evil seed man has sown.

Worry more about the plank in your own eye

and less about the speck in your brother’s.

Repent of your own sins, lest you die

while in your pride, you were lost judging others.

Repent and seek salvation through Christ our Savior,

because you’ll only find Hell seeking your own foolish favor.


Fill Out Hearts With Trust

We offer our prayers and petitions with thanksgiving;

let our hearts not be anxious, but trust in You.

Your strength and faithfulness are unending;

You will strengthen and uphold us just as You say You do.

The peace You give us is perfect and true;

let us not be worried, upset or afraid.

When our anxiety was great, and we were blue,

Your consolation brought us joy, our fears did fade.

We pray to You, asking for aid,

but let us do so with faith and trust.

Help us remember that every promise You have made

has been kept, for You are just.

You hear all the prayers of Your faithful;

therefore, we have no reason to be doubtful.


Everyday Blessings

A child’s smile at bedtime,

a wife’s kiss in the morning,

fill my heart for such a long time

and send my hear soaring.

How wonderful are You, God, to bless me so.

A friend’s chuckle at a jest,

makes my heart glow,

and I feel so blessed.

How wonderful You are to me.

Every breath is a gift.

All these things You give for free,

and, my heart, these blessings uplift.

How glorious are Your blessings each day,

but the greatest is Your love, which can never be taken away.


Beyond Human Understanding

Who can know Your will?

Who could fathom your plans?

Yours is the wisdom of infinite skill.

Yours are the mightiest of hands.

Your plan was made before You spoke the universe into existence.

Your plan was complete before You even uttered a single word.

There are none who can bring Your song dissonance.

For everything that happened did so exactly as You preferred.

Foolish men scheme unaware of Your design.

Men of little faith question why You allow certain things.

But there are no mortal words that can accurately define

the inscrutable, unknowable greatness Your sovereign judgement brings.

Let us remember that Your wisdom surpasses understanding,

so we can trust in Your grace, for it is everlasting.



We may suffer for a little while,

but He will restore us and make us strong.

Though trials and issues may pile,

He will see you through, for, to him, you belong.

We should rejoice when we face these trials,

for these tests produce perseverance.

Even if our journey spans miles and miles,

God can carry us through any distance.

We are not discouraged,

for He is with us wherever we go.

For in His strength, we find courage,

and in his wisdom, for there is nothing he does not know.

So we strive to endure all things,

trusting in His grace and the peace that it brings.


Service For You

I see moments of fellowship as obstacles.

I see chances to bear fruit as impositions on my time.

When I have the chance to speak of your chronicles,

instead I sinfully try and make the moment mine.

How selfish of me to see opportunity as inconvenience!

How horrible to see this chance to serve as a bother!

Help me, Lord, to remember Your Son’s deliverance.

Help me follow His example, Heavenly Father.

Each moment is a blessing,

for it is a chance to glorify Your name.

What should ever be more pressing,

pride, money, or fame?

These fleshly things will all pass away,

but blessed is the one who takes advantage of the chance to serve and obey!


Your Power, Not Mine

Why trust in my mind,

when Yours was the one that created all things?

What is the strength of all mankind,

when compared to the King of Kings?

Wisdom is made foolish.

Strength is made weak.

What can we ever hope to accomplish,

without He who promised the world to the meek?

Our own ability, compared to His, is small.

Let us instead seek him in times of peril.

Trust in Him, who created all.

Trust in Him, who defeated evil.

We cannot hope to find our power within,

but true might comes only through putting faith in Him.

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 17

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 17

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

The Visit

I got on a plane at around 7 p.m.  I landed in Phoenix at about 9 p.m., but with time difference, that means I was in the air for about five hours. When I landed, I linked up with my sister and her children. We jumped straight in the car and took the three-hour drive into Yuma.

By the time we got to another relative’s house, it was one in the morning, and I was exhausted. I went straight into a room, said my prayers, read my Bible and passed out.

We drove to my parents house the next day.  Mom answered the door. I tend to seem unsympathetic.  I might actually be unsympathetic. I’ve always confessed I’ve never been the most sympathetic person. I am, however, empathetic, not like one of the characters in one of my books, but still fairly able to understand the emotional temperature of the room.

I say all of this because my arrival wasn’t some made-for-tv sort of moment where we hugged and cried. That’s just not how our family works. I hugged her. It was startling to see how much weight she’d lost. To be clear, she didn’t look frail, except she’d lost a lot of muscle weight in her legs, which causes her to have trouble standing after sitting down.

She still looked like mom. I honestly had this mental picture of her having been shaved bald.  That wasn’t the case. The sides of her head had clearly been shaved, but it had grown back in the time since her surgery. Honestly, she looked much better than the mental picture I had in my mind.

We all sat down.  My first concern was talking to my mom. I asked her how she was. I asked her about the new procedure she was about to start. Then, I asked her if she was ready for it.


Talking to my mom is a bit tricky.  What I knew right away was that my mom is still in there. She’s still mom.  She’s restless and relentless. She wants a clean house. She wants to talk to and play with her grandkids. I think her lack of ability to communicate, and the physical toll this illness has taken, caused her to feel like she’s a burden.  The woman who was obviously the back-bone to my entire family wasn’t happy needing help.

While mom is still mom, it seems like someone took her entire lexicon and scrambled it. She knows what she means, but she’s using words that don’t match her intended meaning.  She’ll use one familial term when she means the other.  She’ll use one adjective and mean something else. Then she has a few words that sort of sound like placeholders for a lot of other words. “Flaming (or flame)” is the one I remember most. She might be talking about her carpets or a bedroom or even the walls.  This means that talking to her requires a lot of patience and a great deal of translation. However, she’s very good at answering questions, so I quickly realized asking her yes/no questions was a good approach.

That day was a lot of conversation, but it was also incredibly mundane. Were it not for my mom’s struggle with word choice, it would have been like any other visit. She sat there while my dad and I watched the game. My nephew played around the house while my niece reclined on a chair, working on her phone.

In the last segment, I talked about my mantra. Listen, and be supportive. So once Mom said she was ready to take on this new challenge, I looked at my dad, sister, and mom, and said, “So we’re all on the same page. We’re going to do this treatment and see how it goes.”

Seeing my mom walk around and talk and play with her grandchildren really boosted my mood. I think it helped my sister too. I have it easy. I saw mom up and about, complaining that her house wasn’t clean “enough.” I’ve never had to take her to a hospital. I’ve never had to see her lie in a bed, unable to move a limb or even most of her body. For those in my family who had to sit through that, I can’t even imagine the worry that would bring.

Once we started talking about how we got to this point, the reason the problem existed served to become the source of friction in the family. There are actually other sources of friction, but the one causing the most pressure was the manner in which one describes what’s happening.

The surgeon said the tumor had grown and that it was inoperable. This is the individual my sister trusts.  Why not? He’s the doctor who performed that first surgery on my mother.

The oncologist said that the MRI was inconclusive. The swelling and fluid in my mother’s brain was simply too bad for us to really know what was going on. This is the individual my father would quote.

Early on in this testimony, I mentioned my mom qualified for a new, experimental treatment. I’m not speaking on the overall effectiveness of this treatment, but it didn’t work for my mother. She consistently needed to be checked in to the hospital for various side effects. The worst issue wasn’t caused by that as I understand it.  The biggest issue always happened when they tried to ween my mom off the steroids. Please do not take this as a statement of my opinion of the experimental treatment. I don’t have nearly enough data.  All I know is what happened this time with my mom.

As true as that statement is, my sister worried that this approach might be just another excuse to try another experimental treatment. If anyone suspected that, I can only imagine how much distrust and anger that would generate.  I don’t know. I literally have no idea. I’ve never met the oncologist, but while listening, I realized that was my sister’s opinion. I don’t have time to investigate the motives of this oncologist, so again, please don’t take this as a statement of truth.  The only verified truth of what you’re reading here is what my sister felt.

So when facing a new round of treatment, how natural would it be to feel that it might just be a new thing to try? If one believes a doctor is just looking to push the boundaries of science, who would volunteer their mother to be the lead subject?

My dad offered the most logical source of relief. This treatment, avastin infusion, is a normal, FDA-approved treatment. It’s not experimental.  In fact, regardless of possible motives or which of the two sources of information was correct, this treatment is the solution.

Avastin (more scientifically called Bevacizumab), is indeed used as treatment of gioblastoma. It is used specifically for brain tumors that were resistant to previous treatments.

The link I gave you, a link to the NPS Medicinewise website, gives the eye-crossing science of it, but here’s what I know I know.

Avastin essentially cuts off the blood (and therefore the food) supply to tumors. This should stop, or at least slow, the tumor’s growth. It also reduces swelling, which is what the steroids were for. The problem with steroids is that using that much for that long on my mother would eventually just contribute to the problem. So this treatment should work against the tumor while reducing the swelling that’s causing problems.

The plan is to administer a few (three) treatments and then take another MRI to see how things are going.

Knowing this was a normal, FDA-approved course of action put my sister a bit more at ease. I sat there, listening to the discussion. Frankly, I got pretty upset at the team caring for my mom. Being in the military taught me something about communication: When you can, go straight to the source. My frustration was that two people even spoke to my family. I’d be fine with the whole team being in the room to answer specific questions, but man would my family be a lot less stressed if one guy gave us one situation and then provided the list of options to which my father referred when I called him the day before. I’m not saying they’re horrible people or anything.  This conflict had way more to do with the team’s communication skills than their medical skill.

Frustration or no frustration, it provided a very clear line in which my family could stand on opposite sides.

The first task was making sure everyone was supportive of the current course of action. We got there pretty quickly.  I’m still not sure how well I did anything else.

It’s difficult because my family hans’t been united for a very long time. My biological father molested one of my sisters. That divorce did a lot of damage. It damaged our faith:

When my mom was about to move us out, the church we attended at the time saw fit to visit (en mass). They told her, and I still remember the quote.

“You need to get over it and keep your marriage together.”

They argued the sanctity of marriage to my mother, who was trying to get our family (and the rest of her daughters, three of which still lived at home) away from this person who committed this awful act.

I feel compelled to explain something. Matthew 5:32 makes one thing perfectly clear, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”  That word “except” starts the most important prepositional phrase ever in terms of divorce and Christianity. No, a person is not obligated to get a divorce, but my mother was in every Biblical right to divorce my bio-dad.

Apparently that church forgot to read that particular verse in the Bible. As I’ve read and studied the Bible, I’ve come to see that church was (I have no idea what it’s doing these days) sadly misguided in their actions and woefully inaccurate in its doctrine. My greatest obstruction in my walk with Jesus is without a doubt false teachers. I encountered more, but this particular event was what drove the wedge between my family and the Church (if not God Himself).

My bio-dad’s abuse fractured our family: The chain of events that started on that day only got worse and worse, particularly for my sister.  This sister is not the one with whom our mother stayed. I have a lot of sisters.  I commonly call this sister my oldest, but that’s only accurate in terms of siblings I spent a large portion of my life with. Each time something happened, more wedges were driven. We were separated from people we love. The desire for acceptance and attention became critical. Our motivation was validation through gifts and words of affection.

Mom fought to keep us together. Mom fought to make sure we got along. I don’t know if my siblings share this opinion, but I feel that what happened was we all chose to compete for her affection rather than love. It’s shown in various ways. The most common would be to raise ourselves up by speaking ill about the others. I am easily as guilty of this as anyone else in my family.  Rather than being good children and good siblings, we competed to be the best child.

How I wish we’d studied the Lord’s Supper at some point.  How could we though? We’d already been poisoned against God’s words by a list of false teachers.

During the Lord’s Supper, the apostles began a competition to determine who among them was the best. Jesus responded to this debate by washing the feet of each of his apostles. When every one of Jesus’s most trusted disciples were fighting over being the greatest, Jesus showed them the way by doing the most demeaning, humiliating service that could be done in this time. See Luke 22, Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 20.

Here we are, nearly 30 years later. When my family got that news, words were said. Feelings were hurt. Yes, I know that’s passive voice.  To make the phrase active, let’s say, accurately, that relatives did things and/or said things to each other that hurt. I don’t need to (or want to) list the accusations or perceived offenses.  What I want is for you readers to try and imagine how a family hardened by nearly 30 years of stress  would react when the  central foundation of that family is the person we’re fighting over.

My efforts are to change the wording of this. Rather than fighting over, I hope to get to a place where we’re fighting with her.

For those families split by atrocity, whatever it may be, I ask you to be sure that your focus is on the family as a unit. It was hard for my mom. I didn’t make it easy. I was a prideful, hateful little bastard. I wasn’t exactly an angel before the divorce, and when it happened I, who bear a tremendous physical resemblance to the bio-dad, felt powerless, and I sought power by lying and undermining everyone I could. Even when I realized how selfish and hateful that course of action was, I still sought to be the most loved so that I felt like I was the least like the man who I still recognize because the face in the mirror is hauntingly, agonizingly so much like the face of the man I still struggle to forgive.

Those are my wrongs. Those are my crimes, and in this tale I focus on what I am doing and what I can do to be better.

All of my siblings struggle with this history. I’ve found immense comfort in studying the Bible and applying what it has taught me. So once we all acknowledged that this course of action was the right one for mom, I did the only think I knew was right.

I asked what I could do to help, and I did it. Then I had to keep working with my sisters to at least act like the children we should be.



Questions and Revelations

You actually want to forgive that molester? 

That’s the real problem. You see, the fact is, I know I should. We should forgive others, so that we are forgiven (Matthew 6:14).  That verse doesn’t say, “unless he did something really bad.” In fact one of the biggest issues facing the world today is the idea that there are “lesser sins” and “greater sins.” The simple fact is, sin is detestable to God (Proverbs 6:16) That particular reference provided six things the Lord expressly hates.

We are saved because Jesus took that wrath upon himself, cleansing us with his blood, speaking for us to God so that he may pass over the judgement for which we are all deserving.

We protest sins we don’t like, but we don’t reproach ourselves of the sins we commit because we think them “less offensive” to God.

When the divorce was fresh, and later, when the bio-dad died, I truly struggled with the idea that I might see him one day in Heaven. We picture Heaven as this blissful place where we see all the people we like, and none of the people we hate.  But God isn’t that small. We humans judge and classify things that are small in comparison to the universe as a whole.  We elevate ourselves higher, when the fact is, on any scale, we’re nothing.

So I’ve known my whole life that I should forgive. I’ve even said I forgive. Gotten over, is the more accurate term.  Think about it. Were you ever close to someone. Did someone that close to you ever do something to you that you just couldn’t get over?  It may be the case.  God, however, can get over anything. I say again, anything.  Does that mean the bio-dad is in Heaven? I don’t know.  I’ll let you know when I see you there, if you are saved.

The fact is, Heaven will be filled with the saved. I know for a fact there are people I love who don’t have a ticket. It doesn’t make me not love them, but the ticket into Heaven was bought by the blood of Jesus, and only those who acknowledge that and accept him into their hearts will get one. That means that when I get there, I might see bio-dad. He certainly proclaimed his salvation.  Many have, but that’s not necessarily the truth.

Does that mean I’ll rage out or I’ll hit him. No, because when Jesus returns, all of our sin, including the hate and resentment I feel, will leave me. We’ll all be like Jesus.

Some non-believers use this as justification to remain apart from God. They say, “I could never believe in a God who could forgive a killer.”

There it is again, a mortal elevating one sin above another. A man who lies is every bit as offensive to God as one who kills. I actually wrote a short-story on that years ago. I knew even then that sin is sin, and it’s wrong. It is equally offensive to God regardless of its classification.

I argue it is better to have a God who can forgive anyone of any sin. I feel this way because I’ve done some seriously wrong stuff in my life. I’ve stolen. I’ve fornicated. No, I’ve never killed.

I feared my bio-dad’s crime so much that I realized later in life that I avoided relationships.  I sought out pornography and strip clubs because I was terrified that one day whatever disease or insanity that struck bio-dad, and let’s not forget his bio-dad, the rapist, would visit me.  I kept thinking, “Well, you know, the bio-dad had several daughters, so maybe some strange thing happened in his brain to make him this way.”

For the record, even if that is/was the case, we still choose to sin. Our lusts, no matter how dark, are symbols of our humanity. Our faith is demonstrated in how we resist temptation.  For a long time, I resisted it by being shy. I resisted it by hiding from the possibility.

I think I’m a good uncle. In my arrogance, I happen to feel pretty strongly that I represent all the best things an uncle should be. But what made me fight to be such a great uncle wasn’t just my love for my nieces and nephews.  They were what I felt I was allowed to have in my life. I honestly felt I didn’t deserve love or children because my biological track record had disqualified me. I “could handle” nieces and nephews. I “could handle” being in the “friend zone.”

I have never once felt the desire to molest a child. I’ve never looked at a kid and been tempted. In fact, to this day I’m careful. I hug. I never kiss on the lips.  I fought for decades to avoid a temptation I’ve never felt, and what it cost me was time I can’t get back.

It took me a while to realize most of the children I know today have no memory of the bio-dad.  They’ve no clue at all who he was or what he did. All they know is their Uncle Matt.  I have a young cousin who get’s mad at me from time to time.  You see, I fly her around like  an airplane, and this airplane is very disappointing when it lacks the energy to keep her flying around endlessly.

My nephew gets mad I won’t tickle fight 24/7.

My other niece loves drawing with her uncle.

Saleah liked listening to me play guitar and sing. She loved watching TV with me. Now she’s off to college.

For decades, I struggled with avoiding a man I could never be. All it did was keep me from being the man I can be.

I have an opportunity now. I have this woman I mean to marry one day (soon), and she has three boys of her own. I see a lot of my concerns in them, and I intend to make sure they don’t live their whole lives trying to not be someone.

Our vow to not have sex until marriage (which is currently the only line remaining to cross), is important to me for that reason. I want to endure the temptation of having sex with her to show my faith to God’s will and my trust in him. It shows control of myself.

Whoever we are, God forgives. Whoever we are, Jesus saves. We show our faith and increase our bounty in Heaven by bearing fruit (helping to save others) and resisting temptation (whatever it may be).  Please know that you can never simply push on sinning thinking, “God will forgive me.” Sanctification is the reduction of sin in our lives so that we may be more Holy each day. This means I need to be less of a prideful jerk, and whatever your sin is, no matter how “small” or “large” you think it is, you need to repent and stop.

If we do, no matter who we are, we’ll be forgiven, and we’ll all see each other when Christ returns. We may even see people we hated in this life. If that happens, we’ll be incapable of hate, so we won’t hate them in the next.

For those of you who feel this probability is why one shouldn’t turn to God, I ask you to consider that you may see some people you don’t like, but is there really anyone you like less than Satan? Would you really risk hanging with him for the rest of eternity simply to avoid seeing anyone else? I wouldn’t. He’s the source of evil. He’s who introduced us to sin in the first place.


This incredibly long section is still only a part of the larger, but to help you understand where I come from and how hard it is for our family to unite, I had to explain how  we got to this point.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading