The Rebellion – Against Sin

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you.” – Hebrews 12:3-5

Is there any greater battle than the one that wages within our hearts and souls? Armed Forces go into battle and give their lives, sometimes the cost of freedom. I’m forever grateful for their sacrifice so that I can sit here comfortably in a coffee-shop and express my heart and opinions on the issues. But I think there’s a battlefront that we seldom pay attention to. It’s the war that wages on for our souls – the one that claims Heaven or Hell, Life or Death, Pure Love & Joy or minimal pleasure in the moment.

I expressed in a previous social-media post that I hate sin. Scripture clearly states that the “wage of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a) and I have learned the hard way, time and again, that we cannot outrun the Kingdom Economy of reaping what we sow. But we still try – don’t we? Thinking that we are cunning and witty, we chase our own satisfaction to the point of exhaustion, realizing that it only makes us thirsty for more. But more of what? Because does anything outside of God’s will ever truly satisfy? So we find ourselves thirsting for emptiness, even if that’s not what we label it at the time. Because at the end of the day, after the contact high of that substance, person, or simply the thrill of rebellion, we realize there are places in our heart left untouched.

Our mind wanders back to the truth that we miss intimacy and closeness with God and with the Church – with people that truly know us. The depths of our hearts – yes, even the scary, dark places. This kind of intimacy does not run from conflict and does not try to retreat when things get tough. This kind of intimacy stays close and presses through. It fights to victory without worry of defeat.

But we don’t think we deserve that anymore. We couldn’t possibly. Why would God and His Church still embrace us as we are? How could our story be redeemed. By chasing counterfeit affections, we’d said “Hey God, you’re not actually good enough to satisfy and provide for my needs on a spiritual, emotional, and physical level. I do not actually believe…”

You find yourself quite sobered when that thought makes its way across the platform of your brain. Laying there in bed, staring at the ceiling in the dark, unable to sleep – “Do I really believe? Is Jesus enough for me?”

He wasn’t when we sinned. He simply wasn’t.

I hate sin.

This is where things get messy. Because we’ve sinned, we decide that we’re not good enough for redemption. We are not good enough for His Love.

So we run.

We run away from home. Away from Heaven and toward the gates of Hell. Because we’ve allowed the enemy to seduce and trick us into thinking it’s the only option so we might as well enjoy it. (What a crafty liar…)

Friends, you have not yet outrun the love of God. He’s in constant pursuit of your affection. We feel miles away from Him at times. But if we just turn around, we’ll realize He’s right there ready to take us back and restore us to our proper destiny as heirs to the throne. The bloodline of redemption. True freedom found in submission to King Jesus’ will. Ironic that it’s found in abiding by the rules, just like our parents tried to lovingly teach us.

So you may be experiencing a great deal of pain. You may be pressing through a lot of heartache. Your world as you know it may be crumbling down. It’s possible that the Lord is disciplining you. A father disciplines the child he loves. He loves us where we’re at, but he won’t let us stay there. I’d react the same way if my *future* son were in trouble.

I hate sin, because it just isn’t worth it. Anything that promises satisfaction but is outside of God’s will for our lives will absolutely never satisfy. I hate sin because it doesn’t just affect me. Like a rock being tossed into a pond, there are ripple-effects that touch the whole pond and not just where you threw it originally. The sin of pastors has crippled churches. The sins of mothers and fathers have caused another generation of the family bloodline to pick up on their life-killing habits and love-avoidant hearts. The sins of sons and daughters have left parents feeling shamed and disheartened.

But do not lose heart! Do not be dismayed. You are not yet beyond recovery. You have not yet surpassed God’s loving will to see your life restored.

In your fight against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. Stop giving up and start giving in to God’s overwhelming love and power to overcome.

It’s Tuesday – let’s rebel against sin and fight for love at all costs.

the-rebellion

A “Fearless” Conclusion

Today, I finished reading Max Lucado’s book, “Fearless”. First of all, I highly recommend his book to absolutely anyone. It has surely opened my eyes to the incredible amount of fear in our world and renewed my mind according to God’s will, regarding what it is that I should fear, and what it is that I should not. If you are interested at all in what I pondered this afternoon, as I began to draw a few conclusions from what I had read and what I felt God was attempting to teach me, then I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the following journal entry that I ended up writing as a result…

Fear has a way of setting the world on fire; men and women hungrily eat up tidbits of dreadful news through every avenue of media they can. I’ve witnessed this with motherly figures in my life. Women that have positions in which they have nurtured and matured me throughout the years and whom I certainly love. They watch hours of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dateline, 20/20, and other shows that will remind them of the dangers of the world. It’s like a sick addiction where scary news must be read, shared with others, and fret over, while good news is quickly forgotten.

Forgetting seems to be a common issue that Christians deal with. God constantly reminds us to remember throughout the course of Scripture. Ministry leaders must remind us frequently that God is still there and He still cares. Christians, we have to remember. If we forget who our God is, then who will tell this broken and depraved world that there is indeed someone who can save them!?!?! God is here! Our Savior has come and will surely be coming back.

The old idiom, “you are what you eat,” can be taken quite literally. We will become whatever it is that we fill ourselves up with. If you feed on the fear that media wants to feed you, then you will be fearful. If you read magazines that tell you to worry about the shape and size of your body, then you will care far too much about your looks and potentially become critical of others. If you sip from the sex-crazed goblet of romance novels, pornography, and sensuality in general, then you will indeed become a sexually immoral being.

What if we began to fill ourselves up with the words of God? He says to us, “Be strong and courageous”, “do not fear”, and reminds us that we have “not yet resisted sin to the point of shedding blood”. If you want the world to change, then change it; one broken heart at a time…starting with yours. Yes, even your heart needs healing and indeed our minds need to be renewed. If you fill yourselves up with God’s Word and His Spirit, then you will surely become more and more Christ-like each day and the people in your life NEED Jesus’ love. Let’s face it, you and I are not capable of loving others to the degree that they need to be loved, especially if we are not filling our cups to overflowing with His gracious, perfect, and merciful love on a daily basis.

Ready for the bottom line? God is God. If one truly reveres (respectfully fears) God, then all other fears cease and courage is born. Max Lucado stated, “Courage is fear that has said its’ prayers.” How incredibly true! “When God is fully revealed to us and we ‘get it’, then we experience the conversion of our fear…’Fear of the Lord’ is the deeply sane recognition that we are not God.” At the bottom of the same page, Lucado writes, “A big God translates into big courage. A small view of God generates no courage.”

Imagine a country filled with men that actually feared God…Imagine what they would be capable of under the direction of the Holy Spirit…Imagine how much your life would differ if you concluded to live a life that is free from the fears of this world, but maintained a healthy dose of the sobering fear of the LORD. Imagine…how friendships would be deepened, marriages restored, families brought together, nations united. The imagination is a powerful tool and a beautiful gift that God has given us. Anyone tired of simply imagining? Who is ready to make their wildest, Christ-centered dreams a reality?

It would appear that Max Lucado shares my love for coffee, as at the end of his chapter, “Caffeinated Life”, he writes, “Eternal glory. I’d like a large cup, please. ‘One venti-sized serving of endless joy in the presence of God. Go heavy on the wonder, and cut all the heartache.’ Go ahead and request it. The Barista is still brewing. For all you know, it could be the next cup you drink.” Christians, it is time to walk away from the paralysis of fear. It is time to truly live. “Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Yes, life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” (Max Lucado) Lay down your pride, O Christian, fall on your face before the LORD, admit that you are not adequate for the task as your forefathers have (even Jesus relied on prayer, do you think yourselves to be more capable than He?), ask Him for His blessing, and when He touches you, lifts you up, and instructs you to live according to His purpose, free from fear…then do just that. Live obediently.

Continuing the Fight,

Justin