Convicted but Not Condemned

There’s nothing the Accuser enjoys more than to confuse us with things we believe are particular to us. That the detours on our journey are there because we have done something that no one else has done and are experiencing the consequences of such personal deviance.
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Wake-Up Call

I’m not sure I’d call it an epiphany, but it certainly was a somewhat startling realization.

Recently, I’ve reentered the sport of cycling. I’ve been out of the sport for over a dozen years so getting back in the saddle has been a challenge. A fun challenge. Of course, as might be the case with anyone, I keep thinking I should be able to do what I used to do on a bike or in the gym, but the realization is—NOT. It’s frustrating at times, but then again I’m not in my fifties anymore.

The other day while I was driving over to my local bike shop I began thinking about what I hoped to accomplish in the sport. Did I think it was possible to ever get to a level of fitness that I enjoyed years ago? Could I race again?  Then it hit me. The answer was a resounding “No!”    Not because I couldn’t but because I wasn’t thinking correctly.  I was thinking like someone who rides a bike and not like a cyclist. There’s a big difference.  There’s more to being good on a bike than eating power bars, drinking Gatorade and logging miles on the road.

As I pondered that, I began to think of the struggles I have in my faith-life. It didn’t take long to make the transition. All too often I think like someone who goes to church and not like a Christ-follower. There’s a big difference. There’s more to being a follower of Christ than just going to Bible study, attending church, or volunteering for a service project.

The Apostle Paul encourages the Philippians with these words, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…”  In other words, think like Christ not like a church goer. Think sacrifice, obedience, even death because that is how Christ thought and acted. A tall order for even the most sincere.

When I think of the Apostle’s challenge it’s rather daunting. I’m more comfortable with the churchy things. Not so comfortable conforming to the image of Christ. Sometimes I think I’m covered with more goat hair than sheep’s wool.

Looks like I need to wake up in more  than one area.

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Was Jesus a “Snob”?

You call yourself a ‘Christian,’ but Jesus wasn’t a snob who judged people for their imperfections. You may wanna get your Bible out & check on that.”

That was how the Facebook post read.

Here’s what’s true about that little quote: Jesus didn’t judge people for their imperfections. People who were lame, blind, deaf, etc. were never judged because of their so-called imperfections. However, there’s a huge difference between imperfection and sin. If the word “imperfection” is a substitute for sin, then the quote is dead wrong. Jesus had no problem judging when it came to people’s sin. It caused him no grief to point out the sin; gave him great joy to forgive it; and caused little anxiety for him to say, “Go and sin no more.”

It seems to me the real intent behind that quote is a position of rationalization. In other words, “Don’t judge me. Jesus didn’t judge people.” You can translate that as “I can do what I darn well choose to do because no one has a right to judge me. After all, Jesus didn’t judge people.”

Now…you may want to get your Bible out and check on the fallacy of that kind of logic.

There is indeed freedom in Christ. But it’s not freedom to do whatever one chooses to do. Jesus had no problem “judging” the religious leaders. He had no problem telling them they knew neither God nor the scriptures. He had no problem telling parables about judgment. He had no problem saying the scribes would “receive greater condemnation” because of their pious habits and neglect of the widows. He had no hesitation telling the woman caught in adultery that, even though he did not condemn her, she should go and sin no more. That is, stop the behavior.  As Anne Landers said many years ago in one of her syndicated columns; “You can’t sow your wild oats six days a week and then go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.”

The fact is, we come to Christ for the very reason of being confronted (judged) with our sin and it’s the repentance that results from that confrontation that offers freedom. It’s freedom to live a life of faith that is focused on honoring Christ with our life.  Not a life that is lived on our terms. You might want to check your Bible on that one too.

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The Impossible Possiblity

NOTE:  This is longer than my normal posts.

I’ve had an ongoing dialog in my mind and, at times, a not so subconscious dialog with others, about the possibility of the impossible. The possibility of the impossible means something that is deemed impossible but made possible by some other means.

Although I’ll only quote two particular passages, if you are familiar with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the Book of Galatians you’ll quickly understand the fuse that ignites my thought process.

Most studies of Galatians I’ve sat in, or perhaps—I can’t recall—taught, have dealt with the idea that the Law (Torah) was given as an impossible standard so that people would recognize their sinfulness and turn to God/Christ in faith. In doing so we apparently make possible the impossible. In other words, without the means of grace, faith, the power of the Holy Spirit, etc., one could never achieve what God set out in the Torah, what Paul sets out in Galatians, or what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount. Continue reading

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Lord of the Impossible

On my bookcase I have a single puzzle piece, a yellow #2 pencil, and a relay baton.  They all have a specific purpose for being there and I look at them often and think of that purpose. Today, I also noticed a book that I’ve had on my bookshelf wherever we’ve moved: from IL, to OH, to TX, to NC.  It’s a book a friend gave me well over twenty years ago. Continue reading

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