Monday, February 24, 2014

Sex: The Go to Sin for the Church

Why is sex often the go to sin for the church? Is it because for many people it is what they are hung up on and don't feel free enough to discuss? Is it easier to just label and blaspheme someone who dares to venture into sexual waters that you don't agree with?

Why is sex the bigger sin? What about people who judge people for sexual preference while they fudge a business deal during the week to aid their bottom line?  Is that a pretty big deal or just a little white lie as Forrest Gump's mama said?

What about if your neighbor is hungry and you have food overflowing in your house? You drive past them on the way to church.

I have heard some interesting conversations lately and a great example yesterday by Pastor Steve. Are you going to go Old Testament on someone over sex, or anything else for that matter? People already know where they are at. He spoke of setting God's love free. Lavish people with love and see what occurs. Let God worry about the rest. Just love them. Wow what a concept. I am telling you that if the church did that I believe the buildings would be overflowing everywhere.

I lived in darkness for most of my life and I knew it. Someone telling me what I already knew was of no help and if anything pushed me further away. But authentic people reaching out to me with the love of God, now that spoke to me.  The most spiritual man I ever knew was Horace Hilton. He knew my lifestyle and while he did not agree with it never once was I judged. He offered love and with it hope. He granted me an open door to his home. He came to see me whenever my Mom asked him too. He prayed for me when I was in his presence and when I was not. He believed in the good in me when I did not. Wow what a gift that is. Steve used one of my favorite words at the conclusion of the service yesterday...encourage. Now that is a word for all of us to grasp and liberally dish out. Let's face it. Life is difficult. Everybody has stuff they are dealing with. If we can be honest with our heart and not be afraid to look inside and uh oh be wrong. We will be humbled by our shortcomings. I sure have many but one I don't have and by the grace of God I never will is to walk arrogantly with our Lord. I wrote an earlier blog about The Path and how I viewed it. Safe to say if I begin to walk arrogantly that is when I have stumbled off the path and I am in the brier patch. And on another note let's be real careful about saying I would not do this or that when you have not had the life experience to even be confronted with such an occurrence. Pride does indeed go before the fall.

Choose to live with an honest heart and one thing I can assure you is you will be humbled. I am there right now. My last blog was Pressing In. I wanted to do better when obstacles emerged. No sooner than that blog was out it has been one obstacle after another and I have failed miserably. My wife has not. She has stood in her faith which exceeds mine.

Do you think Jesus is giving up on me right now? Is He judging me for doubting, for questioning where He is  when I need Him to move? Should I just believe the lie of the enemy that I am just not good enough. That things will not change.

The Old Testament judging leads people to think they don't measure up even after they have been set free by Jesus Christ. They are not good enough because they did this or that. Guilt is a powerful tool of darkness. Why not model how we view things as how Jesus did them? Wow, what a concept.

The woman at the well. Did Jesus judge her or offer her hope? Mary Magdalene appears to have had a checkered past. Did Jesus set her completely free? All sins eradicated. Do we really believe that?

I told a minister once after his ridiculous sermon on sex that I did not care if a woman was a prostitute on Front Street. The moment she turned to Jesus and accepted him fully into her heart she is pure.

Do we believe that? Not with our words but our heart.   Do we?

I do.........

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pressing In

It is much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one!
The above quote by Mark Batterson really resonated with me this morning as I was enjoying quiet time by the fireplace with our faithful dog Sydny. At first it struck me with an obvious initial meaning and then I was reminded of something I shared with Julie recently. 

The quote in itself certainly is true is it not? We can go along our merry way being close with our Father right up to the point where someone ruffles our feathers. So many subjects out there to argue about. Politics, religion, sports, any news item in our 24/7 world. How about a bad boss? Most of us have enjoyed that wonderful experience. Many are dealing with it right now. As I was returning to Jesus the last person I had to dig deep and find forgiveness for was a Director that I worked with for eight years. I would not mouth the words forgiveness when in my heart I hoped he was homeless living under a bridge wearing a tacky Christmas sweater somewhere. But in time I believe it is as simple as this. The more residence of Jesus I allow in my heart the more fruitless stuff like the resentment of someone I will probably never see again moves out. I can actually pray for that man now and mean it. And if that is not God I don't know what is.

We all have families and they can be the most difficult to react as Jesus would have us too. We can hold on to the patterns that can be rooted so deeply in family lore. Once you are labeled in a family isn't it hard to ever be anything else? Or, once we brand a family member in one way do we offer them the grace to change?

Don't we all have our hot button behaviors that rile us easily, regardless the offender? Mine is don't talk down to me. I don't care how smart, rich, religious, or beautiful you perceive yourself to be. My first reaction is not good in these situations and my second is usually not much better.

The second part I saw in this quote is not about how I react to people as much as how I react to situations. I guess it has always been rooted in my personality that I react a certain way to obstacles that suddenly emerge. It is not a horrible way to deal with these challenges. I just think there is a better way.

Step 1. Obstacle appears from nowhere. 
Step 2. It knocks me back and all I can see is this problem.
Step 3. I start to gather myself and think of solutions to the problem.
Step 4. Hey, wait a minute. Lord, you can do all things and you can assist me in dealing with this problem. You can even bring good to this situation.

Now I may mouth the words to Step 4 during the Step 1 phase but that is uttered with my mouth and not with my heart. I am still seeing only the problem.

This is me and I have been this way for a long time. Except for a long period when I didn't care about Step 4 at all. And if I did it was to blame God for yet another failure in my life. I wasted much of my life in anger.

But I no longer accept that this is who I am. I will accept that it is who I have been but I am leaving the door open to God to help me change. 

(Ephesians 3:20)  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us

Where I want to be is this. Problem emerges from nowhere and my first  inclination is to press into the Father.

Father this situation has suddenly come about and I do not have the answers to solve it. What I choose to do is lift it to your capable hands and trust that you will see me through it. You will find the answer that right now I can't. You will give me the strength, courage, and wisdom to walk through this place. You will even bring good to this time that right now I may not be able to see. I trust You completely with this matter and all things. You love me and I am your child. I am comforted in the knowledge that I do not walk alone but You walk with me. 


The year is 1967 and Wilmington, NC, like much of the nation is embedded in racial turmoil. Bret Marin and Money Wilkins, two boys on the cusp of manhood meet on a basketball court where each earns a measure of respect that leads to an improbable friendship.

Bret’s life is constructed around his love for his little brother Alex and hatred of their cruel wealthy father.

Money Wilkins possesses no external luxuries but thanks to his proud black father, Clarence, a builder of houses and lives, he has the greater riches. When his beautiful sister Teke visits it sets off a series of events no one could foresee. The most chilling being the dark night the Klan appears.

The River Hideaway