How Big is Your Spread?

You spread out our sins before you – our secret sins – and you see them all.  Psalm 90:8 (NLT)

I read Westerns.  I never used to like them but as I have grown older they’ve grown on me.  My favorite author is Ralph Compton.  While reading and watching Westerns I have heard the word “spread” a lot.  “How big is your spread?” or “I really want a big spread when I get done driving these cattle.” are common phrases. 

 

What they are talking about, for those that don’t know, is a piece of land.  “How big is your piece of land?” 

Let’s ask ourselves something.  How big is our spread?  The difference is that I’m referring to our spread of sin.  If God spread out my sin or your sin how big a spread would it be?  Would you have a lot, a block, how about an acre?  Maybe you are a hell-raiser and have a 40 acre spread.  I would be willing to bet that most of us have a pretty good size spread, I KNOW I do.  Today alone I have sinned at least 5 times that I can think of and I have only been awake for 30 minutes. 

Most of them are “secret” sins.  You know those right?  The ones we are ashamed for people to see.  The thoughts and intentions that if anyone got a good look at they would run screaming to the police that we were some kind of monster, yeah those.  We all have sins that it’s ok for others to see.  Mine are jokes.  I have a hard time controlling my humor.  It tends to get racy and mean.  I try to be careful but the words seem to flow out on their own.  And while this isn’t good the sad fact is that if you could look in my head and see what is really flying through you would probably be scarred for life.  BUT, (and it’s a big but) I bet the same would be true for you if I looked inside your noggin’.

The cool part is that not only does God see all our sins, even our secret ones, but He forgives all our sins as well.  We only have to ask. 

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.  1 John 1:9 (NLT)173662_1979

This does not mean it is ok to sin.  It’s not ok to do wrong.  When we sin, when we go against God it does several things but mainly it hurts God and hurts us.  It hurts God because of His sacrifice to forgive our sins.  If we sin and keep sinning the same way over and over we make a mockery of what Jesus did on the cross, His sacrifice for us.  It also hurts us.  Sin repels God’s blessings in our lives.  Sin cuts our communication with God.  Sin hurts our relationship with others.  Sin can cause physical illness.  Sin destroys families. 

BUT!!!!   But, if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.  That’s not to say the consequences from sin won’t still be there, but the relationship with God will be restored.  When my kids get in trouble and tell me they’re sorry I forgive them but the consequences remain.  They may not be as steep if they realize what they did and seek forgiveness, but the consequences are still there.  I am teaching them and reinforcing the lesson just like God does with me.

How big is your “spread” pardner?  It’s not nearly as big as God’s ability to forgive!

 


It’s all about Him,

Shawn

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The Esau Syndrome

chocolate_strawberrySin, ah, sweet sin.  How do I enjoy thee?  A lot!  That’s how I enjoy thee.  I enjoy the instant gratification that sin affords me.  The adrenaline spike of walking on the wild side.  The knowledge that I am in control and no one tells me what to do.  The arrogance of basically giving God the middle finger every once in a while makes me feel tough. 

But sin comes with a price.  Instant gratification is great but guilt stays for a long time.  That adrenaline spike is cool but when you come down off it you feel weak and shaky.  Being in control is great until I make a wrong turn and end up in the bad section of town hoping and praying I get through it safely.  Flipping God off sounds tough but how tough am I when I come crawling back to Him when life kicks me in the, um, gut, yeah, let’s say “gut” there.

It’s funny, sin promises all these amazing things;  happiness, be your own boss, gratification, you’ll be cool etc…  The problem is that it rarely delivers and the times that it does it just makes you want more.  You’re never satisfied.  There is never contentment or peace, only the need for more.  Look around, the only truly content people are people who have figured out that more is not better.  That instant gratification is WAY over-rated. 

Think about it.  Most of our grandparents saved for most of their stuff.  There was very little credit back then.  Did they have the latest and greatest?  Not usually, but they also didn’t have all the stress of making that next payment or having to work two jobs just to pay the interest only payments.

How about the availability of porn on the internet.  I don’t remember hearing about porn addictions before the internet.  I’m sure there were some, they had Playboy and stuff, but it was pricy and harder to get.  Now, just search Google for anything, any word and I guarantee you will see naked people. 

I’m not trying to sound like some Christian wacko crusading against everything under the sun but at the same time we need to realize that every compromise we make has consequences.  Every sin we allow to take root in our life will grow.  Sin is never happy with limited space.  Sin is like a weed and gardeners will tell you that weeds always choke out the good plants. 

It’s called the Esau Syndrome-

  14-17Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17, The Message)

jakob_esau_linsengericht Who was Esau?  You can read the full story HERE.  Short version- Esau is the older brother and therefore the one who will inherit everything from their father.  But one day Esau is hungry and Jacob offers him food for his birthright.  Esau, only thinking about the short-term, agrees and gives away his inheritance for some Campbell’s Chunky soup.    Yeah, he was an idiot.

But hold on, don’t we do that?  We give away integrity for some office supplies.  We offer up our morals for a peek at a dancing girl (or guy).  We sacrifice our reputation to be cool.  We betray the sacrifice Jesus made for us to have a little “fun”.  The Esau Syndrome.

Jesus offers peace, contentment, joy and love.  Sin offers discontent, war, anger and lust.  Why do we keep selling our birthright for cheap soup?

——————————————————————————————————————–

It’s all about Him,

Shawn

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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!

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I’m not Einstein!

Watch That Last Step, it’s a doozie!

wylie_Help One of the things I struggle with is small compromises.  I have a trend, I start out strong, reading my Bible, praying and trying to do God’s will.  Then, slowly but surely, I start to drift away.  I get lax on my Bible reading, I forget to pray, I stop looking for God in my daily life.  Invariably this eventually leads to compromise.  Soon, I’m just going through the motions.  God seems as distant as the sun in the sky and just as unreachable.  This process takes time, a year, maybe two years, but never-the-less, it seems to be a constant cycle.  We all struggle.  We all take a step or two forward and a step or two back, but eventually I seem to take several steps back and like Wylie E. Coyote, I look down and nothings under me and it’s a long way to the bottom.

For years I have tried to figure out why I do this.  Why am I on this merry-go-round?  Well, I may have part of my answer.

I am reading a book by Charles Stanley called “LANDMINES In the Path of a Believer”.  I am on the chapter about the landmine of Compromise.  In it he lists and explains several reasons we compromise.  The one that hit home for me was the need for acceptance.  I thought I was over this.  But apparently I am not.  When I read it a light clicked on in my head.  The Holy Spirit spoke directly to my heart and basically said, “No, you’re not over this.  It’s still there behind your facade.  It waits to jump up when you aren’t looking.  I want it gone, I want you to KNOW that the only person that needs to accept you is Me.”  Granted it wasn’t in such concise words, but that was the gist of it. 

A little background.  I have a skewed sense of God.  I get it from the way my Dad was when I was a child.  This is NOT a rant against him.  I love and respect my Dad.  We have a great relationship and he is a great Dad and Grandfather to my kids. 

Before he became a Christ-Follower he was never there.  He worked 80+ hours a week (not an exaggeration) and when he was home he rarely spoke to us kids, at least that’s the way I remember it.  My Mom was who we talked with and who we asked permission to do things from.  Dad was there when Mom said, “Shawn needs a spanking.”  I don’t remember my Dad expressing love and pride in me very much.  Maybe he did, but I don’t remember it.  Not many hugs or “I love you”s.  He was a very unemotional man.  This is where I got my view of God.  God is our Father and our views of our earthly Dad’s cross over into our views of our heavenly Dad.  When I think of God, I picture an unemotional, distant, gone a lot, kind of God.  While this is completely the opposite of God it is hard to get my heart to accept it.  My mind get’s in the way. 

Top that off with not being in the “in crowd” in school for most of my life and you find a 34 year old man who has been a Christ-Follower for 29 of those years and still struggles with acceptance from God.  This in turn flows over into looking for acceptance from others.  This continues into seeking acceptance by trying to fit in with those at work.  So I struggle with swearing, I struggle with inappropriate jokes, I struggle to share my faith.  I struggle with standing up for my ideas and beliefs. 

All these small compromises eventually lead to bigger and bigger ones until I am standing in mid-air looking down and thinking, “This is gonna hurt!” 

So what’s the answer?  How do I change?  How do I get my heart to agree with my head on it’s view of God? 

Here is a quote from Charles Stanley’s book,

“Ask yourself, Do I want to be accepted by a group of people who could love me today and not tomorrow, or by an eternal, loving, heavenly Father, Who loves me with an everlasting love?”  The answer is simple, There is no greater acceptance than God’s acceptance.  Anything else is many times less than the best.  When you make a commitment to be the person He has designed you to be, you will face some challenges.  Rest assured, you won’t face a single one alone.”  Charles Stanley,  Landmines In the Path of the Believer

Which is all well and good, but it is also way easier typed than done.  It’s the doing part that gets me.  I have to make sure I am focusing on the small compromises.  Ensuring  I don’t start back down that road.  My main prayer my whole life has been that I would see God as He really is and not as I think He is.  I want to be able to have a close relationship with Him.  Reading and meditating on God’s Word has helped.  I am closer to seeing the true God than ever before, but I still have a long ways to go.

28 For the LORD loves the just
       and will not forsake his faithful ones.  (Psalm 37:28 NIV)


9 This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. 10 This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins.  11 Dear friends, if God loved us that much we also should love each other. (1 John 4:9-11, New Century Version)


 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud.5 Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. 6 Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. 7 Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, New Century Version)


God loves me.  He also loves YOU!  Maybe that is the first time anyone has ever told you that.  Maybe it is the millionth time but this time it finally made sense.  The fact is that no matter whether I believe He loves me or not, He does.  He never stops.  He never leaves and He never ignores.  I have felt that love many times before and it is amazing.  Why do you think I want so badly not to fall backwards this time?  I have it now, I want it forever.  I want nothing to come between myself and God. 

Maybe you have never felt the love of God but right now you are reading this and you hear a faint whisper in your heart.  A simple longing to feel loved, cared for.  This small spark of hope burned just a little brighter when you read about my struggles, that you weren’t alone after all.  My friend, you are not.  There is a God out there that loves you, He loves you so much He sent His Son Jesus to die for you so that the love you crave can be yours.  So that the emptiness can be filled, not by temporary things, but permanently, once and for all. 

If that is you today and you are ready to grab the Love, the Acceptance, and the Assurance that God is with you, it is quite simple.  Notice I didn’t write that it is easy.  It is simple in the fact that all you need to do is accept it but it is not easy in the respect that you have to give up control of you.  You can’t be first anymore.  God has to be first.  Putting Him before “self” is hard, but it is so worth it. 

Now, I want you to understand that simply saying a prayer does not “save” you.  Saying the prayer below has no more power to save you than saying, “I want to be a fairy” will make you a fairy.  It is the intent and faith of your heart that saves you.  Only putting your faith and trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins and believing that He was raised from the dead three days later and that He is the ONLY way to get a relationship with God, will save you.  The below prayer is just a way of putting all that into words and telling God that that is your decision.  There are no magical words to get into heaven.  You either believe and accept Jesus or you don’t. 

The biblical method of salvation is faith in Jesus Christ.  Going to church doesn’t save you, reading the Bible doesn’t save you, being christened doesn’t save you.  Salvation only comes by faith in Jesus.   John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.” Salvation is gained by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), by receiving Jesus as Savior (John 1:12), and by fully trusting Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), not by reciting a prayer.

So what do you think?  Are you ready to find peace, joy and Love?  Simply believe what we read just a second ago and pray this prayer,

Jesus,

  I need you.  I need Love.  I need acceptance.  I don’t want to be empty anymore.  I accept your offer of forgiveness and I ask You to be in charge of my life.  I don’t want to be the boss anymore, I want to follow you.  Forgive me for my failures and my sins.  Help me to stop doing what I want and start doing what You want.  I want You as my Savior, I want You as my Lord.  Thank you for dying for my sins.  I believe you were raised from the dead and that you are alive in heaven right now.    In Jesus Name, Amen.

If it was your decision to believe, accept and pray then allow me to be the first to say,

“Welcome to the family!” 

“Welcome to love and forgiveness and acceptance like you have never known.  It won’t always be easy, sometimes it will be very hard.  But the struggle is worth it. 

Let me encourage you, if you made the decision to follow Jesus and accept His forgiveness, send me an email or leave a comment below with a good email address.  Not only do i want to send you another congratulations but I would also like to send you some info on what happens next.  Nothing big, I won’t spam you.  I don’t have a generic email I send out.  Here’s my email- reflectionsofamirror@gmail.com

Or if that freaks you out a little, find a church in your area and talk to the Pastor.  I don’t push one church over another but make sure it is a Christian Church. 

Another place you can go with a bigger presence is InTouch Ministries.  Or you can contact the folks at Billy Graham Ministries.   A great website to look at is www.crosswalk.com.  These ministries are very large and will help you take the next steps in your relationship with Jesus.  No matter what you decide though, find someone that can help you and show you where to go now.  If you just let it sit all those same feelings of emptiness and loneliness will come back.  Even though God hasn’t left you, it will feel that way.


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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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How’s the View Up There?

  Last week was an amazing week in my blogging life.  I had more posts than usual and more comments from you all than usual.  I wrote five posts on marriage/love and had a blast doing it.  I love that topic and apparently so do most of you.  But this week I was having Brain Drain.  Last week seemed to be so easy, the thoughts and ideas just flowed.  Today, I was trying to come up with something to write, which really isn’t my thing.  I write about what I feel I should write about.  Things and ideas just pop into my head (it’s a God thing).  But today I found myself forcing ideas.  I even started writing one.  It stunk.  I deleted it.  All of a sudden God spoke to me.  “Shawn, you haven’t spent time with me today.”  “But God, I really need to get my blog done so I can tell people about what I’ve experienced with You today.”  Let me stop there and ask, D'oh!“Anyone doing the Homer Simpson slap on the forehead and saying, “D’oh!”?  Yeah, I figured you were.  Anyway, to make a short story long, I stopped, deleted what I had and sat down for some God Time.  I have been reading Matthew lately (when I remember to spend time with God) and today was chapter 16.  As I read, three things did the “Holy Highlight” and jumped out at me.  So, now I have three blogs for this week, all in the same chapter.  Ain’t God cool?

On to the post-mountain_top

  Anyone ever been involved with some kind of amazing God Thing?  God did something so incredible and you got to be a part of it?  You’re on a Spiritual High, if you will, and you feel like everything is just perfect.  Some Christians call it the Mountain Top Experience, the pinnacle of life.  I’ve been there a few times, I was there last week with how many people the marriage posts touched.  The problem with “Mountain Top” experiences is that on the other side of that peak is a steep drop into the valley.  Generally, after an amazing God Moment, there is a letdown because life get’s in the way.  God doesn’t let us down, but rather we do something or someone else does something that pulls us down.  Why?  Why can’t we stay on the mountain top?  Why can’t we live there? 

Let’s look at our passage-

5 Jesus’ followers went across the lake, but they had forgotten to bring bread. 6 Jesus said to them, "Be careful! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees."

7 His followers discussed the meaning of this, saying, "He said this because we forgot to bring bread."

8 Knowing what they were talking about, Jesus asked them, "Why are you talking about not having bread? Your faith is small. 9 Do you still not understand? Remember the five loaves of bread that fed the five thousand? And remember that you filled many baskets with the leftovers?10 Or the seven loaves of bread that fed the four thousand and the many baskets you filled then also? 11 I was not talking to you about bread. Why don’t you understand that? I am telling you to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." 12 Then the followers understood that Jesus was not telling them to beware of the yeast used in bread but to beware of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.                   Matthew 16:5-12 (New Century Version) Emphasis Mine

This passage is mainly about Jesus trying to teach His disciples to be careful of the religious leaders teachings at that time- they had a “work for your salvation” belief but Jesus teaches salvation by grace or as a free gift.  The religious leaders wanted a sign and Jesus was teaching faith.  But I don’t want to focus on that right now, I want to focus on the background story, what the disciples were worried about.  In the chapter before this one, chp. 15, Jesus had just used the disciples to miraculously feed 5,000 men plus women and children.  Estimates put it at over 10,000 people.  He did this with, according to Matthew 15:34, seven loaves of bread and a few small fish.  Not only did He feed them but there was leftovers!  I love leftovers, food is usually better the second day!

Amazing!  Miraculous! Astounding!  Truly a Mountain Top experience for the disciples.  But now, just a few days later here they are arguing and worried about who forgot to bring food.  After witnessing Jesus feed 10,000 people with the equivalent of seven Mc Donald’s Happy Meals (minus the cheap toy) they’re worried about food. 

So why can’t we stay on the Mountain?  Why the Slipn Slide ride to the bottom?

There are three reasons that i can think of.  Untitled

First, sin.  This is never a good reason.  If you’re on a real mountain top and you trip bad things can happen.  Several years ago I took a youth group to a retreat in the Rockies.  We hiked up a mountain.  It was awesome.  As we started to come down we came across some ice patches and the guides we had with us told us it was ok to slide down them.  A bunch of us did it and we were having a blast.  But one gal slipped and got out of control and couldn’t stop herself.  Unfortunately the rocks at the bottom did.  It tore her up pretty bad.  She healed but it wasn’t pretty at the time.  While she didn’t “sin” she did loose control and experienced the same wreck at the end that sin causes.  cloud9v1

The second reason may be that no one could stand to be around us for very long.  Ever run into that person that is on Cloud 9?  You know, the one that won’t stop going on about how amazing it is and how they are perfectly happy with everything?  Yeah, me too, their annoying.  How can we relate to folks if we aren’t with them?  Spending time with God is awesome but the fact is we are still in this world and people are hurting and need a shoulder to cry on.   So maybe God leads us down the mountain so we can help others.

manureThe third reason is a little less poetic.  My Mom plants.  She plants flowers, veggies, fruits, everything.  If you ask her she will tell you plants need several things to grow, mainly, sun, water and good soil.  It’s the last one that is key though.  Good soil.  How do you get good soil?  You fertilize it.  What’s fertilizer? Manure, aka- poop!  On the mountaintop you get a lot of sun and some water, what you don’t get is good, poop-filled soil.  That’s because it all collects at the bottom of the mountain, the valley.  So maybe that’s why we can’t stay up there forever- no manure.  No soil to grow roots.  Roots provide nourishment, roots provide stability. 

Summing it all up-

Watch out for sins ability to trip you up and start an out-of-control slide to the bottom.

If your head’s always in the clouds how can people reach you and with all the clouds in your eyes how can you see them?

No manure, No roots, No growth.

 

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Let’s Get Naked!!

     Adam and EveEasy folks, don’t get too excited.  I am not talking nudist colony naked but emotionally and spiritually naked.  Anyone remember a couple named Adam and Eve?  Adam was the first man whom God created.  But God had created Adam to love God and to love people.  Well the loving God thing was going well but there were no people to love so Adam was lonely.  God then decided to create Eve.  So Adam went from having a perfect relationship with God to having a perfect relationship with God and Eve.  The Bible describes the relationship Adam and Eve had with each other as simple innocence and complete openness when it says, “Although the man and his wife were both naked, they were not ashamed.”  Genesis 2:25.  

     Unfortunately things don’t stay so rosy.  As we all know Eve lets the snake convince her to eat the fruit that God told them not to, then she in turn gets dumb old Adam to eat as well.  The sin of disobedience enters 

 humanity and the rest is history.  Most people focus on the fact that this is when fellowship with God and man is first broken, and for good reason.  But we sometimes fail to look at the second result of disobedience, this is the also the first time that Adam and Eve’s fellowship is broken.  All of a sudden they were ashamed of their nakedness with each other and made fashions first Spring Line.  

     God wants us to be naked and NOT ashamed before others.  Not physically, but emotionally and spiritually.  Most of the time though, I tend to throw so many layers of clothes over me I look like the abominable snowman.  Why do we do this?  Well, quite simply, it is because we are all a like Adam and Eve, our lives, our relationships get messed up by sin, shame and guilt and we run from each other and hide.  

     Ask my wife what her number one complaint about me is and I can bet she will say, I don’t open up to her like she wants.  This is true for a lot of us.  I find it very difficult to truly open myself up to anyone.  There have only been two or three people in my life I have done that with.  Why?  Mostly I learned it form my Dad.  He was a very closed off guy.  Never talked a lot growing up.  Don’t get me wrong, he never abused me or anything, mostly he just ignored us kids.  Please understand, I love my Dad and I have a great relationship with him now, we are starting a church together.  But when we were young (him included) I just think he didn’t have a clue what to do with us, he just left it to Mom.  So I learned at a young age that men don’t need to socialize and talk about their feelings.  But I try, and my wife appreciates it and is patient with me.  I am just emotionally constipated.  

     In James 5:16 the Bible says this;

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. 

And Galations 6:1-3;

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

     If we can get to the point where we are willing to share our sins and our burdens with each other life will be much easier and spiritual growth will explode.

Diapers in the Wash

Diaper    I am going to give any new parents out there a little advice.  It is important so I need you to pay close attention.  Don’t wash disposable diapers in the washing machine with your clothes.  Pampers and jeans DON’T mix.  Here is what happened, I opened the washing machine to be a great husband and help my wife with the kids laundry, we have three kids so there is always laundry, and as I pull the clothes out there is this fuzzy, grainy, slimy, not sure how to explain it, stuff all over the clothes.  I ask my wife, “Baby, what in the world is all over these clothes?”  She comes and looks and says, “I washed a diaper with the clothes.”  To which I reply, “On purpose???”  For which I get a smack on the arm, I get hit a lot!!  Generally I deserve it.  She says,”No not on purpose, one of the kids must have thrown it in there.”  WHOA, whoa, whoa, I can’t blame the kids when I pass gas but she can blame them for this.  That is wrong on several different levels.

Here come the fun part.  She tells me all the clothes have to be taken outside and each one has to be shaken out, turned inside out and shaken out again.  She, of coarse, has a headache or some other debilitating sickness, so I gamely say, “I’ll do it Honey.”  She smiles a knowing smile and walks away.

I get all the clothes out of the wash and go out on the porch and begin to shake the clotes out.  This is a horrible job.  Each piece of clothing has to be shook out individually, remember these are kids clothes, which means there are approximately 1,352 pieces of clothing in the laundry basket.  Onsies, long sleve onsies, jeans ( with lots of pockets that have to be turned inside out), sweaters and jackets with hoods, socks, more socks and socks after that.  I think you get the picture.  I was out there for what seemed like an hour.  The other problem is that as you shake the clothes out the little diaper boogers fly all over the place, on me, in my hair, on my glasses.  Nasty work.  Thankfully it was a pee diaper and not the alternative!

I got to thinking, isn’t our spiritual life the same way?  Stay with me for a minute and it will make sense, or at least more sense than it does now.  Lets say the diaper represent sin and the clothes represent different areas of our life and the washing machine is the world.

We are going through our cycle of life and somehow a diaper of sin gets thrown in, a few minutes later, boom, it explodes and shoots sin boogers all over us.  They are every where, in the creases, in the folds, in all the cracks and crevasses.  The only way to get rid of them is to stop the cycle and shake each part of your life out, turn it inside out and shake it out again.  We should constantly be examining ourselves for sin boogers.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  We all have sin boogers, not one of us is perfect.  But that is ok, God gave us a way to get rid of sin, in Romans 6:23 He tells us “the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If you are already a Christ-Follower you should always check the laundry of life to see where the sin boogers are.  Maybe they are in your work laundry.  You should be living right at work but your not.  You claw your way to the top, stepping on anyone that gets in the way, or maybe you steal from work, pens, tools, how about time?  When you should be working your goofing off.  Maybe it’s your home laundry,  you should be spending time with your family but you are always out with friends or at the bar. How about your marriage laundry, are you washing someone else’s clothes with yours?  Then there is the internet laundry, did you visit a site by accident and then another and then another?  Take a look at your laundry, are there sin boogers on it?  Does it need to be shaken out and rewashed?  Stop the wash cycle and take a break, look at each piece carefully, sometimes sin is very small and hides from you.  Once the sin is found the only thing left is to shake it out, ask God for forgiveness.  1 John 1:9 says “But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.”

If you are not a Christ-Follower and would like some more info on becoming one go here,  Christ-Follower.

Remember- Sin is the path of least resistance, but God’s forgiveness is the way to a fulfilled existence!