Tag Archives: Sin

Making the Boo Boo Better

All Better

All Better

Any parent who survived the preschool years understands something of the magical properties of a Band-Aid.  Really, there’s not much to it – a piece of tape over a little square of gauze.  The really cool ones have cartoon characters.  I have even seen bandages with the guys from Duck Dynasty.  But what’s on them matters much less than what they do.  Band-Aids can make any booboo feel better.  Who knew that adhesive tape and a gauze square could do such a thing?  Now, having gone through this stage twice, I’ve learned something about the magic of a Band-Aid.  The real power of a Band-Aid isn’t that it makes things heal faster.  It isn’t that it makes booboos hurt less.  The real power, I have found, is that it covers up the source of the hurt.

It seems that Christians can incur a lot of hurt on this journey through life.  Some of it is intentional, some of it isn’t.  But the reality is that sin hurts.  Now, if you could just go move off in the woods somewhere and be a recluse for the rest of your life, never interacting with other people, you might make it through life without someone sinning against you.  The reality is God has created us to be in community. The first thing that God declared “not good” about creation was that man was alone (see Genesis 2:18), so God initiated the family.  In the New Testament, God took the biological family and turned it into an expanded family through the community that we call the church.  So, the reality is that anyone in Christ is in community.  The problem is that this community is filled with people who still have an amazing proclivity for sin!  This naturally leads to a substantial opportunity for hurt.

There’s three ways to deal with hurt.  The first way is to ignore it.  People who ignore hurt often accumulate for themselves a tremendous amount of bitterness.  You probably know people who “got hurt” in church and refuse to return.  I know far too many husbands who fit this category, leaving their wives to attend church alone.  The second way is to retaliate.  People who retaliate return sin for sin.  They got hurt, so they respond with gossip or slander or other ways to “return the favor.”  This results in deep divides within the body, “side-choosing,” and terribly broken relationships.

The third way to deal with hurt is the biblical way.  This is how Peter challenges us in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.”  Love in the body of Christ is like the Band-Aid that makes the booboo feel all better.  Paul described the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13.  There he said love is patient, kind, unselfish, forgiving, and a long list of other characteristics.  If Christians will love one another in a biblical way, it is impossible for hurts to lead to bitterness or vengeance.

So, are you bearing some burden of hurt today?  If so, then let me encourage you to go to the spiritual first-aid kit, unwrap a love Band-Aid, and let the “healing magic” make that booboo feel all better.  You’ll be better off as a result, and the Kingdom will do nothing but benefit.  Jesus said it best, “By this all men will know that you’re my disciples, if you love each other (John 13:35).”

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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Braking Revival

What is the single biggest hindrance to revival?

If you said “sin” then you just earned a star.  Sin will put the brakes on a movement of God in no time at all.  Inasmuch as the scriptures show when God is active and His people are responsive to His activity, we can also see how sin and folly can quench God’s activity among His people.

One of greatest example of this comes to us from Numbers 13.  This passage is very familiar to us.  God was ready to fulfill His promise to Abraham to give the nation the land.  They had sojourned in Egypt long enough.  They had been beneficiaries of God’s miraculous provision and guidance.  It was time to make their entrance into Canaan.  If the stage was ever set for revival, it must have been set for the day that the nation of Israel entered into the land that God had promised.  An Academy Award-winning Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have set a better stage.

200 or more years enslaved in Egypt.  A year at Mt. Sinai, making spiritual preparations to take the land.  God’s steadfast guidance through the presence of the cloud and the fire.  God’s faithful provision through manna and quail.  It was time for this story to culminate in a victorious march into Canaan and the undying worship and adoration of God’s people.

But…

The devilish duo of disbelief and distrust distracted the nation.  The giants are too tall!  The cities are too fortified!  Our enemies are too powerful!  Instead of God’s people taking hold of God’s promises at the epitome of a miraculous journey of faith, they flopped. Sin won.  The nation took door #3, which guaranteed them 40 years of struggles, a couple of million funerals, and the nation NEVER fully possessed the land that God had promised. If that’s not a lesson on the significance of sin, I don’t know what is.

So here we find ourselves, waiting for revival, praying for a fresh move of the Spirit of God.  Now would be a good time to take a long hard look at sin.  You may think that your sin is private and that no one will ever know.  You may think that your sin is insignificant and that it will never affect anyone but you.  But we must remember that God doesn’t grade sin like we do.  I’m sure the 10 spies found their fears justified.  The giants were tall.  The cities were fortified.  The enemies were powerful. But the daunting circumstances were no match for the faithful promises of God.

Your sin matters and it matters to your church.  Revival begins soon.  Would you join me as we pray that God would reveal the sin in our hearts from which we need to repent.  There may be forgiveness that needs to be granted.  There may be bitterness that needs to be uprooted.  There may be secret sins that no one knows about but you and God.  Would you ask God to purge those sins from your heart so that you may be prepared to take hold of the promises that God has for you.

Repentance is a prerequisite for revival.  Today is a GREAT day to start!

Revive Us Again!

Pastor Brian

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Indebted to the Ceiling

There is one doctor who is a household name.  No, I am not talking about Dr. Phil, or even Dr. Spock.  You could very quickly recall his name if someone in your home began to choke on a foreign object.  You would quickly spring into action, most likely performing what we know as the Heimlich Maneuver.  Though I have never had to be the administrator, nor the recipient of this “maneuver,” if administered correctly, it is supposedly an effective way of clearing the airway of a choking victim.  What is interesting about the Heimlich Maneuver is that it is named after Cincinnati physician, Dr. Henry Heimlich.  The “maneuver” was first advocated by Heimlich in 1974.  Prior to this, the application of back blows was the acceptable practice for clearing obstructed airways.  However, this method often caused foreign objects to drop deeper in the airway, worsening the situation.  Since 1974, countless choking victims have been saved thanks to the Heimlich Maneuver.

However, if you ask Henry’s son, Peter, he will tell you that the Heimlich Maneuver should actually be called the Patrick Maneuver, claiming that his father stole the procedure from colleague, Edward Patrick.  Peter claims that the only maneuver his father can take credit for is maneuvering his own reputation.  In fact, Dr. Heimlich’s latest medical crusade is HIV research.  In a highly controversial procedure, known as Malariotherapy, HIV patients are injected with malaria-infected blood.  This highly dangerous procedure has been widely criticized by the established medical community as a deadly course of treatment.  It is no wonder that these procedures have primarily been conducted in Ethiopia and other developing nations, outside the oversight of governing bodies.  Dr. Heimlich has taken his crusade to Hollywood, raising millions of dollars for his controversial research on the fame of his last name.  Peter claims that all of his father’s medical accomplishments have been proven to be quack medicine or stolen from colleagues.

Isn’t it interesting that the guy known for saving the lives of choking victims may himself be choking?  In Mark 4, Jesus spoke of the risk of sowing good seed in thorny ground.  While the seed may germinate and grow, Jesus said that those plants are choked by the “worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things.”  Who knows if anyone has ever shared the gospel with Dr. Heimlich, but if his son’s criticism is right, there may be a lot of thorns in his life that would keep the gospel from bearing fruit.

What about your life?  Are there thorns in your life that are keeping the gospel from bearing fruit?  Is your lifeline being choked by worries, wealth, and other distractions?  Truth be told, if a plant is worth saving, the only course of action to rescue that plant that is being choked by thorns is the bloody process of removing the thorns.

Jesus knows a little something about thorns.  He knows something about blood too.  All those sinful thorns in my life, they have been pulled by a bloody hand, and trampled on by a bloody foot.  So when my fruit is diminished because I am being choked by my thorns, I would do well to look at the crown placed upon my Lord’s head during his passion – a crown made of the very thing that threatens my fruitfulness – a crown of thorns.  Why I ever allow thorns in my life I may never know, but I am so grateful for a God who has provided the maneuver to keep me from choking in my own thorns.

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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The Least Common Denominator

Being married to a math teacher gives me many opportunities to think about all the things that they taught in school that never quite stuck to the flypaper of my brain.  There are some things that took hold – English and social studies, science and history were all favorites.  I even remember a few things from the home economics class I took my senior year.  But math never found a friend inside my brain.  (Don’t worry, your pastor is fully competent to do the math necessary to shepherd a church.)  Math teachers please do not read the following sentence as what I am about to say will cause you great stress.  I’ve never had to use the Pythagorean Theorem in the conjugation of a Greek verb, nor have I had to use π past 3.14 to figure out how to start a new Sunday School class. 

There is one math function that I have learned to pay more attention to as I have grown, the least common denominator (LCD).  In math, the LCD is the smallest multiple that two fractions have in common.  You have to find the least common denominator to easily perform mathematical operations with fractions. 

In life, the least common denominator is a little different.  We often use that term to describe the most basic characteristic that a group has in common.  I know, that’s not popular today in our highly individualized culture.  No one wants to be lumped into a group because everybody is different.  After a little while, those statements begin to sound like the teacher on Charlie Brown. 

It might be easy to figure out the LCD for Southern Baptists or Blue Dog Democrats or animal rights activists, but what about the human race?  Could it be that there is a LCD for humanity?

The Bible gives a generic LCD in Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Without a lot of thinking, we have defined humanity by something that we all have in common – the reality of sin.  But sin is very diverse.  We are professional sinners, having perfected the art of sin.  We have sins of omission and sins of commission.  We have sins hidden in our thoughts, heard through our words, felt through our actions, and discerned through our motives.  Surely the commonality between the pervert and the thief stops in the generic definition of their sinful condition. 

The end of Daniel 4 reveals to us the most basic element of the human condition.  Some theologians have defined this as the “root sin,” the sin from which all others originate.  Let me suggest that the LCD of the human plight is a condition known as pride.  Pride is the sin that moves the husband into the arms of another woman and moves the embezzler into the books of his business.  Pride is the condition that compels a king to boast about his greatness and drives a self-righteous religious man to boast about his piety.  It is no coincidence that pride is the sin that drove Lucifer to covet the throne of God, resulting in his expulsion from glory. 

At the end of Daniel 4, a beautiful thing happened – Nebuchadnezzar was emptied of his pride.  It took a lot to get him to that point.  It took dreams and visions, miraculous redemptions, and seven-years in an insane condition, but Nebuchadnezzar found the only answer to the LCD of humanity – repenting from sin and turning to God.

Today, the answer remains the same, though revealed even more clearly to us through the cross.  We are all prideful people, every one of us.  The next time you sin, think of your pride.  The only answer to pride is a relationship with Jesus Christ.      

 It’s not algebra, it’s faith,

 Pastor Brian

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