The Slow Fade

202254_3439 Throughout history those that we held as famous and virtuous have fallen from the pedestal that we put them on.  We are not supposed to put people on those pedestals in the first place but in all honesty, we do.  Even the most mature Christ-Follower in their heart of hearts held Rev. Billy Graham to a higher standard than their neighbor in the church pew beside them.  Thankfully he is one example of a “Hero of the Faith” that never fell from his lofty status in Christendom.  Not that he never sinned, but that he never sinned as publically as others.  We all sin, no matter how mature and pious we are, sin still enters our hearts and exits through our actions. 

I am reminded of a couple of pedestal dwellers that have fallen recently, one person that achieved his lofty status through the game of football and one that attained his lofty status through leadership in the church.  Steve McNair and Ted Haggard.  One a high profile quarterback, the other a high profile pastor.

200px-Steve_McNair_2007-08-10

Steve McNair was shot and killed on July 4, 2009 by Sahel Kazemi, his mistress girlfriend, who then shot and killed herself.  According the The Huffington Post his wife, Mechelle, had no knowledge of his relationship with Sahel.  Steve hid his relationship from his wife as well as most of his friends. 

 

 

Ted HaggardTed Haggard, the former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Co, founder of Association of Life-Giving Churches and leader of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) from 2003 until November 2006, resigned or was removed from all his leadership roles in November of 2006.  He admitted to soliciting a male prostitute named Mike Jones for sex and methamphetamines.  Soon after he entered counseling and as of the beginning of this year is still attending it. 

Both of these men, I am sure, started their rise to stardom with good intentions and good morals.  Both did amazing things for their respective areas of influence on the field and in the church.  But both fell quickly and publicly.  How did it happen?  Could it have been prevented? 

How did it happen?  It happened the same way all sin happens, slowly and almost unnoticeably.  In the Old Testament the weight of sin was on the physical performance of a sin but in the New Testament Jesus revealed a new way to look at sin.

But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.  Matthew 5:28  (The Message)

20-23He went on: "It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution."  Mark 7:20-23  (The Message)

Those things done in the secret place called your mind, the thoughts that no one but you and God know about, that’s where it starts.  That is the beginning of the end. 

Think of it this way, you get a very small thorn in your foot.  Allowing that thorn to remain in your foot brings infection.  Left untreated the infection spreads and eventually you are rushed to the hospital and told the only way to save you is to remove you’re leg.  Sinful thoughts act the same way, like a small thorn in your heart a lustful or prideful or any other sinful thought pierce your heart.  And just like the thorn in your foot, if left untreated it begins to poison the rest of your heart.  As time goes by more and more destructive thoughts begin to infect your heart.  Eventually, like the infected leg, the infection in your heart must be removed.  Sin becomes public.  You become a mannequin on display for the world to see.  Your reputation is destroyed, you life in ruins.  Why?  Is God punishing you for your sin?  Is this His revenge? 

No.  No!  And again, NO!!!  This is not revenge, this is life saving surgery.  God doesn’t care about your reputation at this point anymore than the doctor cared about the infected leg.  It has to be removed for healing to begin.  This isn’t so much about discipline as it is restoration.  All God’s discipline is done with love for restoration and healing. 

Could it have been prevented?  How do I keep all that from happening in the first place?  Paul gives us a statement that most of you have probably heard for many years.  He says,

We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.                         2 Corinthians 10:5b  (New Century Version)

First-  Our responsibility is to train ourselves to look at every thought that enters our mind and then decide if they are acceptable or unacceptable.  If they are good, neutral or evil.  Once we decide, we accept or reject. 

Second- Find someone that you can go to and confess your sins to.  “What???”  Yep, I wrote it, find another living, breathing person to confess your sins to.  It talks about this in JAMES.  I have one, he has been my closest friend since before Jr. High.  We know each others weaknesses and we know each others faults, and we hold each other accountable when we do something we shouldn’t. 

Third- Pray, pray and pray some more.  The more time you spend with God the less time you spend looking at and listening to things you shouldn’t.

And finally, read your Bible.  The Bible is a handbook to getting through life.  Everything we need is contained in the 66 books that make up God’s Word. 

Here is the inspiration for today’s post.  It is a song by Casting Crowns that my Accountability Partner put on his facebook page.  Take a few minutes and listen.  You’ll be glad you did.

Slow Fade, by Casting Crowns


Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

I’m not Einstein!

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In and Out- love in the fast lane!

  garbageI’m sure everyone has heard or read the phrase- “Garbage in-Garbage out!”  Well the opposite is true as well.  “Good Stuff in-Good Stuff out!”  If we are constantly putting Good Stuff in we will get Good Stuff out. 

  Yesterday I blogged about leaving puddles of love that people have jump over so they don’t step in it.  I was asked for some practical advice on how to do this.  Here it is:

  Love!  Love unconditionally.  Love radically.  Love completely.  Love the un-lovable, the outcast, the abnormal.  But don’t forget to love your neighbor either.  The Bible has a radical verse on this-

Jesus was asked a question by the religious leaders of the day, “What is the single most important commanment in the Bible?”  They were hoping to stump Him.  They wanted to “one-up” Him with their command of the laws of God.  But I have to tell you, Jesus was one crafty individual.  Several times this had happened and every time Jesus either asked another question to make them look like idiots or answered their question in such a way that their was no room for debate or dispute.  This one falls into the latter group.  Here’s the full account from Matthew 22

34-36When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

 37-40Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”  (The Message)

  Jesus says loving God with everything you have is numero uno.  Love God emotionally, prayerfully and intelligently.  Use every resource you have available.  Now that is not earth shattering is it?  I mean, it seems pretty obvious.  God created mankind and everything around us.  He gave His Son to die for us to make a way to get to heaven.  A debt was paid and our love is what He asks in return.  Not a bad deal.  It is the second part of this passage that blows us away.

  “Love others as well as you love yourself.”  What?  Hold on!  Rewind!  Love others like I love me?  That’s insane.  I mean, I love me some me.  Right?  We treat ourselves pretty good.  We want to best for US!!  I do.  I’m sure you do to.  We may not be able to afford the best, most of us aren’t named Trump, but we save the best for us and our family.  But Jesus pulls the rug out from under us.  Treat “others” as well as we treat “us”.  Who are the “others”?  Is it our kids-yes, our parents-yes, our spouses-yes.  How about those on the street?  What about the people we don’t like?  The teachers that give us bad grades?  The boss that fires us?  The smelly guy at church that no one wants to sit next to?  The crack head in the abandoned building on the wrong side of town?  Does Jesus really want me to love them the same as me?  Yep, uh huh, absolutely!  Jesus never stipulated which “others” to love, just “others”, everyone!  In the King James Version the word “others” is translated as “neighbor”.  The word “neighbor” is from the greek word “plhsivon” which literally translate as “any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet”.  See Strong’s Concordance.  Basically- EVERYONE!  We are to love all, irreguardless of race, color, sex, religion, smell, hair style, body type, blood type etc….

  So how do we practically apply this?  Great question and I’m glad you asked.  Herehands_holding_world-resized is the best website that I know of to find practical advice on loving others.  I will include several links but they all pretty much deal with the same website.  Sign-up for the emails.  Sign-up for the free pdf booklet (if they don’t still offer it let me know, I have a copy I will email you.  Their are a lot of free resources and great ideas.  Bring it to your life, bring it to your church or small group.  Get some friends together and see what God does.  Let me know of some of the adventures that God takes you on because of this info.  Or maybe you have some ideas of your own that you have either tried or want to try, leave them in the comments section for others to read and learn from.  F.Y.I., I am not affiliated with any of these nor do I get monetary gains from the recomendation.  I have just used them for years and they are great.

 Here’s the links-

www.servantevangelism.com– great website.  All the info you will ever need.

www.stevesjogren.com–  blog

Outflow: Outward-Focused Living in a Self-Focused World– Great book by the Servant Evangelism creator Steve Sjogren 

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Bleeding

A lot of us are going through rough times right now. The economy is reeling, relationships are strained and bleeding-heartfriendships are falling apart. It feels like our hearts are bleeding. Is this you or maybe someone you know? I know someone who is hurting like this right now. He is fighting loneliness and feels the spectre of depression hovering beside him.

I was watching an old UFC fight last night and something happened that ties in. I know, UFC and Jesus, doesn’t sound like they go together but stay with me. I don’t remember the names of the fighters but I do remember what happened.

The fight began and both fighters were trading blows, testing each other out. One of the guys makes a mistake and the other fighter catches him on the nose with a kick. His nose splits open and starts gushing blood. The ref stops the fight so the ringside doctor can look at it and stop the bleeding. He gets the bleeding stopped and the fight resumes. Not twenty seconds later the cut opens again and the blood flows. This happens over and over. The ref wants to stop the fight but the fighter says no. The next time the fight is stopped the ref again wants to stop it but the fighter literally begs to keep fighting. The ref allows it. At the end of the fight both fighters are covered in the hurt guys blood. He is bloodied, battered but still standing. He finished the fight. He lost, but he finished. By staying in the ring he earned the respect of the announcers and all of us watching. The next time he fights none of us will remember he lost, but we will remember he finished.

Paul writes of something similar in 2 Timothy 4:7-8;

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.  (New Living Translation)

davisspratt0069_fightWhat’s important is what you don’t see in this passage. You don’t see the word “win”. Paul doesn’t claim to win the fight, only to finish it. He doesn’t claim the checkered flag, for you NASCAR fans, but he does claim to finish.
When your heart feels like it is bleeding, keep going. Find friends and loved ones that can help stop the flow but you must continue. You will eventually get to the prize whether it is the healing of your heart or taking your place in heaven.

If you are in last place, finish the race. If you’re fighting and get knocked down, get back up. Claim the prize that God has waiting for you.


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Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

This is a tough one.  Please, if you are reading this, read to the end.  Don’t assume you know what I am going to say.

This subject has been on my mind since and earlier post from a few days ago about the iphone app, “Babyshaker“, anlittle-eyes app that allowed you to shake the phone until the “virtual baby” died.  I didn’t like it, thought is was pretty much a horrible idea.  I still do.  But as I read on some websites there is so much out there that is like this that it is causing me concern.  First let me say that I am NOT one of those people that believe if you play a game with evil in it or listen to music with lyrics about killing, rape and other indecent topics that you will become a serial killing rapist hellbent on destroying the world.  I have listened to my share of what most Christians would call devil music.  I like AC/DC, I even like a little Disturbed now and then.  I have even found my feet bouncing along to an Eminem song or two.  I know, how can I be a Christian and listen to such music?  But the fact remains that I have neither sacrificed goats to satan nor have I shot people from the trunk of a car.  Mostly I listen to Country and Christian music.  I have and continue to read books such as The Da Vinci Code and my favorite author is Matthew Reilly, an author that writes novels that make the Die Hard movies seem boring.  But I also read the Bible and Cristian literature as well as the occasional classic.  I am reading Mark Twain’s, Huckleberry Finn now.  My favorite movie is Braveheart starring Mel Gibson, a movie filled with violence and death.  But I also thought The Passion was incredible and wept like a baby at parts of it.

One thing that does concern me more than others are video games.  I know, your thinking “here we go!”  But hear (or read) me out.  I believe in common sense.  I think things have to pass the common sense test.  And common sense tells me that when companies are creating video games about raping women as a means to aquire a higher score I think our common sense has become uncommon.  Why would they make this game if no one is buying it.  This is a fairly new game and in the report I read everyone on the street that was interviewed had never heard of it and would never buy it.  But, they wouldn’t make it if there wasn’t an audience.

There is so much junk in the world that I don’t believe we can keep up.  While I am against censorship, I am for common sense.  Common Sense would seem to me to dictate that this stuff never gets put on the market to begin with, but that is no longer true.  Everything has become acceptable online, in the movies or in music.  Again, I am against censorship, but I am all for censoring what I and my children view, hear or play.  And thats the point I want to make today.  YOU are responsible for what gets in your head and the heads of your children.  It is your responsibility to sort through and weed out the stuff that you feel is adverse to the way you believe and what is ethically responsible.  I hold companies accountable and so will God, but I hold each of us more severely accountable because the difference between listening to the wrong music, watching the wrong shows or playing the wrong games is a remote or mouse click away.

Check out this passage from the Bible and see what you think,

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”  Philippians 4:8-9 (The Message)

While I admit this is not easy and maybe not even possible, it is definitely something to strive for.  I am not saying get rid of everything in your life that is non-biblical, I am still going to watch the Wolverine and Transformer 2 movies this summer.  I am planning to re-read Stephen Kings’ classic The Stand when I am finished with my current book.  What I mean is understand balance.  Just like Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, “Better learn balance. Balance is key..”  We must have balance as well, hopefully the balance scale will be tipped to the “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” side of life.

Those annoying Capital One ads always ask at the end, “What’s in your wallet?”  Well, I ask you, “What’s in your head?”

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