Tag Archives: Words

The Handcuffs of Sin

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.  Proverbs 5:22

Today I came across this verse in a counseling session.  I read it in a previous time.  The part “he shall be holden with the cords of his sins” was already underlined in black ink.

The word “holden” means to “sustain, keep fast, or retain.”   This verse is teaching how that a wicked person who is willfully committing sin is actually binding himself with his sin.  Sin becomes a controlling factor in our human experience.  Here the sin, like cords wrapped around a person’s wrist is confining this person.  In other words, this person’s sin is handcuffing him.   Even though sin may be enjoyed – for a season – it will eventually chain you to its will and confine you to it’s desires.

Sin is very captivating.  Sometimes a person does not even recognize how their sin is actually holding them back and retaining them in a “holding tank.”  Think about how a drug addict can no longer think clearly.  Her body is conditioned to “need” the next hit of drugs.   The male addicted to pornography may not think it is hurting him, but his relationship with his wife is not what it could be because of the nurturing of lust in his heart.  The angry couple can be blinded to the hatred in their heart because of unconfessed bitterness that is controlling and affecting every area of life and relationships.

Instead of allowing sin to take us captive and handcuff us, we should take captive our thoughts ourselves – with the mind of Jesus.  One of my favorite verses I use in counseling sessions to encourage, motivate, and equip people to have victory over sin is 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Here Paul states: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…”

Imagine that.  Bring every thought into obedience to Jesus Christ.  Get the Word of God in your life.  It is like the key to unlock the handcuffs of sin.  Let Jesus captivate your heart and mind.  It will change your life!   You will experience more freedom than you thought possible when you devote your life to what is right!

What can I do to get uncuffed?

  1. Confess your sin.  Let Jesus know about it – from your own confession.
  2. Repent of sin.  More than confession, repentance is a turning around from the sin.  It is choosing to go a totally new direction than the way the sin was taking you.
  3. Enjoy Forgiveness.  Thank the Lord that when we confess our sin and turn from it in repentance, the Lord totally forgives us.  Psalm 103:12 says, As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Thank the Lord for that!

Get out of the handcuffs of sin today.

 

 

 

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Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.

 

Teach the Tongue

Teach the Tongue

Powerful.  Life Changing. Incredible.  Sometimes, not saying anything is priceless!  How many times do our words, though seemingly innocent, get us into trouble, or hurt other people?  How many times do our words encourage, edify and help those around us?  How many Christians are really living like Proverbs teaches.

As the school year winds down, finals are administered, and teachers get a restful summer break, what have you and I learned during the school year.  When a family has school aged children the year seems to revolve around the school session schedule.  So, for this year, what have you learned?  Have math skills increased?  Has science and history been your thing?  How much better is your handwriting?

More importantly, what character traits have grown?  What spiritual steps have been taken this year?  What decisions for serving the Lord have you made?

Recently, our family was reading though proverbs and the following 2 verses stood out to me personally.

  • The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. Proverbs 16:23
  • Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.  Proverbs 17:7

What have you taught your mouth?  Taught what?  The wise man or woman, son or daughter, will teach his mouth to say only good things.  Not always will be win this battle, but again, the wise teacheth his mouth.  His lips are guided with learning.  No-one wants to talk the fool, or speak foolishly.  Verbal discipline is a requirement and expectation for the Christian life.

Notice how to not become a fool in Proverbs 17:7.  Excellent speech will not result in a person being a fool.  One paramount, pinnacle lesson each person must learn is the value of their words.  Empty speech, useless conversation, angry words, and bad themes to talk about are not worth talking about!   There are some things we should not waste our breath on!  Here are some ideas to help these verse be true in your life.

  1. Teach or control your mouth.  Take a breath before you speak.  Pray for God to help you say the right things to the right people, the right way, with the right attitude.
  2. Keep learning. Be around good speaking.  Avoid listening to cursing, gossip, or evil communication.  Be aware of the impact of social media and the “Friends” you follow have on you and your speaking.  The people we listen to and look to will inform our mind which in turn impacts what we say or do not say.
  3. Expect more.  Don’t allow negative, selfish, and evil speaking in your home.  Have excellent speech.  Make or create time to talking at the dinner table, in the car, and on the porch.  The more excellent speech that is expected, the least likely you and your children will be in becoming a fool.  Don’t allow useless talk in your home.
  4. Be upfront.  Notice how verse 7 says a person with lying lips will not become a prince.  It is not likely that a lying person is ever truly successful and like a prince in life.  It is less likely than a person who says good things to turn out to be a fool.
  5. Set down the phone.  I read recently that teenagers spend more time on their cell phone than they spend time with their parents. Texting, facebook, twitter, Instagram, video games, snap-chat and more has not increased real life talking!  Learn to set the phone or device down and carry on a real conversation with someone.  Teach yourself good conversation habits.

Make application in your own home and in your own life-stage.  How are you doing?  Have you taught your tongue yet?  It is an area that we must continue to learn and grow in.  We never arrive with our words.  Keep growing in excellent communication!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Tears.  Sorrow.  Raw Emotion. Real Life.  Death.  Death is the cause of so much heartache, hurts and pain.

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote Ecclesiastes 7:2 as God directed him, and the emphasis is interesting; There is a priority of attending funeral services and visiting with people who just lost a loved one to the throes of death.  This singular scripture goes as far to say that it is better to go to a funeral parlor than to a fun party.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

It is better to go to a funeral home.  Not fun – but needed for a proper perspective on life.  With life being devalued today, kids killing each other, and the news filled with reporting of one violent event or another – it makes me wonder – Has today’s modern child (an adults) been to enough funerals?

Probably not.  Many people avoid taking their children to the funeral home.  With good intentions of “not scarring the kids” or preventing them from seeing or hearing something disturbing, many well meaning parents, grandparents, and guardians find other places for their kids to be during funerals.  In fact – lots of adults avoid funerals as well.

Think of it this way; If a teenager has only known about death from a movie or video game – death cannot seem like real life.  He has no basis or foundation for understanding the depths of pain, the wrenching of the loss, or the changes in life that death causes for those who remain.  The seriousness of death is not something on his mind.

Since God says that it is better to go to a funeral than to go to a party – it should cause us to consider our priorities, teaching moments, and how to best place an emphasis on the value of life. Because death is in the future of every man God says being present with the corpse and with those grieving – will cause a person to “lay it to heart.”

We do not “lay it (death) to heart” enough because we avoid thinking about death.  Many don’t even talk about it.  But if a person thinks about death in a proper, Biblical way – it will cause him to make better choices in life!  When a person thinks about death – He will live better!

For example, here is a Fox News Headline from April 7, 2018: “Lakeith Smith, 18, of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced to 65 years by Judge Sibley Reynolds for “felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree theft,” FOX8 LIVE reported.”

“Smith smiled and laughed while being sentenced at the Elmore County courthouse. He had turned down a plea deal that would have recommended he spend 25 years in prison on the charges.”

‘I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,’ C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney, said. ‘We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.’”

“Judge Reynolds said Smith seemed to show no remorse for his crimes during the trial and did not apologize. He also overhead the teen say, ‘I don’t have time for this.’”

Laughing.  I don’t have time for this?  What?  Here is an 18-year-old who apparently has never considered the gravity of life and death.  He is an example of the modern teen who believes life is ego centric and the purpose of living is to have a constant party – just have a good time.   Can I suggest that it would be better to take your kids to at least one funeral annually than to throw an ego centric, all out birthday party for them every year?  That is not intended to be a morbid thought.  Funerals in their proper context will help you and your child live better and make better choices.

No one likes tears.  Sharing in grief is not a fun thing or easy thing to do – but it will make you a better person.  When teaching your family about death, consider the age of your kids.  Find an age appropriate time to talk about and attend a funeral service.  Consider things like is it closed casket, a cremation, a memorial, or a graveside service?  Was this person a Christian?  What was our connection to this person?

Besides emotional “closure” and other similar benefits, going to the funerals and being present when a person’s life is summarized in a 30-minute speech will cause several good things in your life.

  1. Funerals cause us to ponder the brevity of life. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
  2. Funerals cause us to consider the priorities of life. Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
  3. Funerals cause us to examine and “correct course” in future days.  Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

The Apostle Paul, not doubt attended many funerals in his lifetime for Christian’s who were persecuted and killed for their faith. As he “laid to heart” the matter of life and death he said in the last letter he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” The only way to run the course of life and finish well is the make right choices today.  The only way to make right choices is to have Biblical values instilled in our life.  Knowing the brevity and value of life is a major part of this plan.

Help yourself and help your kids; Develop a priceless value on human life – by considering the gravity of death by attending a funeral. 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking But Not Communicating

Talking But Not Communicating

“A Maine potato farmer and a Texas rancher were engaged in conversation at a political rally. The man from the Lone Star State asked, “How much land do you tend?”

“About a hundred acres.”

“I farm about six thousand myself.”

The man from Maine was not overly impressed, so the Texan continued, “There’s a much bigger ranch down near San Antone. To give you an idea of its size, the owner can start off in the morning in his car, and he ain’t barely crossed his place by noon.” “I had a car like that myself once” the man from Maine said.” (-1000)

While this is very funny, sometimes we interact with others in much the same way.  We talk, the other person says something, we speak again.  Who is listening?  How is it that words are said and others (and ourselves) do not hear?

Most of us struggle to some degree with the skill of listening.  Some are better at listening than others but all of us should grow in this area.

Hearing is more than our ears tingling with soundwaves.  Hearing is more than “I need a hearing aid” or “I need to clean the wax out of my ears.”  Hearing is when words and sounds are heard in the ear.  Listening is the processing, and understanding of what is being said.

Some people are so preoccupied in mind they do not “hear.”  Others are so distracted or defensive that they are not listening to what they are hearing or what is being said.

Here are several ideas to help become a better communicator.

  • Stop Everything. Ecclesiastes 5:1 teaches: “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.”

Please notice how Solomon in His wisdom encouraged “hearing” by stopping other movements.  Turning off the TV and radio, removing the cellphone from your face, and looking the person in the eye is a great way to focus.  In conversation – focus!

  • Value Words. In Matthew 13:17 Jesus says, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

Because the disciples had faith in Jesus, they could “hear” and “understand” His words.  Many people in the years before Jesus had hoped to “Hear” and “Listen” to the Messiah, but were not able to. They died before He was born in the Flesh.

Jesus is instructing his disciples to cherish the words they are hearing.  Our relationships would take on new meaning if we valued the words of those who are talking to us.

  • Slow Down. James 1:19-20 directs us: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Being quick to speak and fast to become angry does not help in communication.  In fact, these are big hindrances to healthy communication.  Be fast to say nothing, quick to listen and understand, and slow to react to what is being said to you.  Each of us have witnessed times when a person speaks “off topic” answers in a wrong way, or even says things that are untrue and things they regret later because they did not slow down to understand first.

Determine today that with the grace of God you will be a better communicator to be able to listen, talk and have real communication take place.

 

 

 

 

Following Jesus in A New Year

Following Jesus in A New Year

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

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Peter has just declared that Jesus was “The Christ of God.”  Jesus tells them to “tell no man” and that He would suffer many things.  Peter and the other disciples did not really understand the suffering of Christ until after His death and resurrection.  The next part of this narrative directs us to this verse: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Self denial is one of the most difficult things to do as human beings.  Recently, our family was treated to a terrific Chinese Buffet.  Walk into a Chinese buffet or similar “all you can eat” restaurant and you will see that many Americans struggle with denying self.  Denial issues could relate to eating, exercise, music, the friends we have, time in front of a screen, and nearly every area of life.  Even things that are not necessarily a sin of themselves can become sin to us when we do not practice moderation and the discipline of self denial.

Taking up the cross includes suffering for Jesus.  Some people at work or at school will not love Jesus like you do.  Some will persecute you.  You may be passed over.  The neighbors may not be as kind to you.  You may have people threaten you or mock you.  Take up this cross, letting others know you are a Christian, no matter what suffering you may encounter.  This is to be done daily.

Then Jesus says: “Follow Me.”  “Deny self, take up cross,” and “follow me” are great places to begin a new year.  Here are a few suggestions to help you follow Christ.

  1. Decisions are about Jesus.  A new year’s resolution?  Read the Bible in a year?  Handout a Gospel tract each week? Accept a new job?  Relocate?  Become engaged?  Get married?  What about other spiritual decisions such as confessing sin?  Going to the altar during the altar call and making a decision for Christ?  How about service in the through the local church?  Will you serve in areas you like most or areas that are needed the most?  Make all your decisions about Jesus. 
  2. Discussions are about Jesus.  What will be the topic of our conversations?  Will you boast, exude pride about self?  Will you speak of personal selfishness?  Will you talk about the Lord to others?  Will you say how good God has been to you?  Could you tell someone about Jesus and His gift of eternal life in this new year?  Avoid talking negatively about your local church, pastor, Sunday School teacher or other Christian.  They are not perfect, and for that matter neither are you.  We are to talk to others about Jesus and talk to the Lord about our “problems.”  Be sure to tell people about Christ while at the same time speaking well of His bride – the church.  The lost will pick up on dissension in your speaking about other Christians and it will turn them away.  Be careful of the words you say and how you say them.  If it would be improper to say something in a press conference in prime-time, it would be wrong anytime.  Discussing the Lord will help you choose proper words because of the proper topic being Christ.
  3. Dedications are about Jesus.  To Whom or to What will you be dedicated to?  “Me, myself, and I” is very shallow and humanistic.  The “world, the flesh, and the devil”, are other choices for the dedication of your heart, but will leave you in sin leave your heart heartbroken and enslaved to sin.  “Money, fame, and getting ahead” are insufficient to bring you true peace and lasting joy.  “Following Jesus” is all that really matters.  Be dedicated to following the Lord in every area of your life. 

 

Whether the dedication of your heart, the discussion of your mouth, or the decisions of your mind, let’s determine to be followers of Jesus Christ this year.  Deny self, carry your cross, and follow Jesus.