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Woe Is Me or Whoa, This Is Me? Both!

undoneI’ve been thinking lately about how often I feel “undone” in the presence of God. I can be talking in conversation about Him and feel “undone”. I can be reading His Word and something strikes a chord in me and I am “undone”. I can be worshipping or praying and I’m unable to go on because I feel “undone”. I can be teaching or preaching and the reality I get to speak His Word leaves me feeling “undone”.

In those moments, God takes what He created, “me”, and does me in. I can’t move, can’t speak, can’t think; and to be honest, I don’t want to. I KNOW He is the One who does me in and He completely overwhelms my thoughts, heart, and mind and overrides my will and body. At those times I stop everything and let Him do me in! It can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, but afterwards I am always in awe that He would care to meet with me.

One day after I was undone in God’s presence I thought about what happens in being undone. First I thought of earthly things. For example; an undone piece of meat can be NOT good for us(tasty if you like “rare” but a bit risky). Undone brownies might actually taste good though messy. How about zippers undone on our pants? NOT good and potentially bad! Leaving homework or “work” work undone? NOT smart! These situations show us being “undone” means something is left incomplete, unaccomplished, unfinished; simply not done yet!

downloadBut think about “coming undone” emotionally. We don’t like that thought as much, especially if it happens in public. We can come undone when things don’t go as planned or expected; or when something fails; or when we are superbly surprised. Having an unwelcomed meltdown where we lose all composure or self-control is usually not a favorite for most people.

After all this thinking, it came to me! Being undone in God’s presence can mean all these things AND so much more! Like a piece of undone meat, we are never done! Christians can still be tasty but it’s risky so we need God every moment to keep “doing”! Like undone brownies, we still have an impact in this world even though we can be messy. While being caught with our zippers undone can be embarrassing, getting caught with our spiritual zipper down is quite freeing, cleansing, purifying, and truly, completely amazing! See, there is no “awkwardness” involved with God – just complete transparency before the One who makes all things new. Finally, while it’s not wise to leave school or “work” work undone, letting God finish His work in us is much more productive than striving to do it alone. Plus, He loves the extra time we spend with Him “getting it done”!

Being undone in God’s presence is always unplanned just like being undone in earthly things. I can honestly say I’ve never scheduled a time of being undone in God’s presence. My undone “episodes” range from brief moments of raw exposure, being stunned in His presence, to complete meltdowns, often messy, when I lose all composure and self-control. One thing is for sure; they ALWAYS surprise and humble me. I become acutely aware of God’s presence and the fact He chooses to come and touch His beloved fills me with reverential fear of Him and I think, “Whoa, this is awesome”, as I’m reminded of who I am and more importantly WHO HE IS!

Isaiah said it this way, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah said this after a vision in which he saw the Lord sitting on His throne, high and lifted up and the train of his robe filled the temple while the seraphim cried out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory!”

You would think after having this vision instead of saying “woe is me” Isaiah might have said, “Whoa, this is me! I must be God’s favorite! I mean, seriously, have any of YOU had visions of the Lord in His temple while angels worshipped Him? Probably not! This makes me super special in God’s eyes. How awesome am I for God to show me this stuff?” You would also think Isaiah would be happier than happy! Instead, he is undone. In the original language, undone means he felt cut off, thinking he would surely die at this sight of the Lord on His throne.

woe_is_meSo…being undone is like being caught with our zipper down spiritually and we realize just how totally obnoxious we are, at least in comparison to our holy God. We sin! It’s bad enough to realize just how much we sin, but to have it exposed, to be undone by and before a holy God, well…THAT is humbling.

The truth is every Christian comes face to face with their sin when undone in the presence of a holy God. The sinfulness of sin by nature is contrary to the holy nature of God, leaving us undone! Sin exposes the vast difference between us and a holy God!

Let’s face it! Just like Isaiah, our lips are unclean. We say things we should never say. We curse, we lie, we gossip, we slander, and we even say terrible things about people we supposedly love. It surprises me how often we accuse family, friends, and fellow members of the body of Christ of being terrible people, or doing horrible things. Of course we say it behind their backs and then are super sweet to their faces. We seem unaware that we are giving Satan legal right to torment our families, relationships, and churches, and even more oblivious that God sees all of it! Friends, we have unclean lips and God’s got a remedy.

coalIn Isaiah, the seraphim took tongs to gather coal from the altar and then touched Isaiah’s lips declaring his sins burned away, purged and he was cleansed. Now THAT is a WHOA and a WHOOHOO! Being undone in the presence of God leads to our sins being done as well. When we’re undone in His presence we can expect to be confess and repent of sin because we see it all clearly AND we are encouraged and lifted up because visions of God’s glory have that effect on us! We have a Mediator, and that, my friends, leaves us undone in the presence of our Lord and Savior, able to boldly and confidently approach Him!

 

a-sinners-prayerWhen our eyes meet the King of kings and Lord of lords, we are undone; we are filled with fear and freedom at the same time! When we truly believe He is Lord, we see His sovereignty and majesty over all and it strikes even greater awe, reverence and godly fear to the very core of our being!

So friends…I pray we are all undone! There is no greater place to be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Judge! Oh, But Please Remove Those Planks and Specks!

“Don’t judge” – the automated response by unbelievers and silent believers alike whenever Christians mention “sin”!  It makes me wonder what would happen if we told the highway patrol “Don’t judge” when he pulls us over for speeding?  Or, how about we tell the doctor “Don’t judge” when he tells us to quit smoking? Or if people are robbed we tell them “Don’t judge” the thieves? Or when kids are bullied, what if we said, “Hey, don’t judge bullies!”?

Too extreme you think?  Perhaps!  But that’s exactly what we do when someone holds us accountable for sin and we tell them “Don’t judge”. The Bible clearly lists and describes oodles of sin yet if a brother or sister in Christ loves us enough to hold us accountable, we are still likely to default to “Don’t judge”! We do this for a variety of reasons: We assume we are being judged when our actions are questioned; our conscience is pricked so instead of dealing with the prick we deal with the person pricking; we simply don’t know there is a difference between “judging behavior” and “passing judgment”; or maybe we are in denial about our own tendency to pass judgment leaving us super sensitive to any accountability!

No matter what reasons we come up with, the root of all “Don’t judge” pleas is ignorance about true judgment and its meaning in light of Scripture.  When Christian people “feel” judged they will often recite parts of Matthew 7 to demonstrate how others should not make them feel bad about sin.  1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’” 

People especially love their own renditions of the plank and speck visual which usually leads to the conclusion, “Mind your own business because we all sin!”  Unfortunately, this deduction only focuses on sin and judgment while missing the message Jesus is conveying; remove our own sin to see clearly; then remove sin from others in the family. 

This reminds me of reading game instructions. Sometimes we would rather just start playing instead of reading through all the instructions first, thinking we can just learn as we go along.  We end up playing some games “our way” instead of the way they were designed to be played.  Instructions are meant to give guidance and provide more enjoyment when rules are understood.

Christians need to read and understood the “Official Rules” in regard to judgment and sin.  They might start something like this:  “Matthew 7 Official Rules!”  Players: Any number can play at the same time. Players are those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Contents: Sins known as planks  and specks. Object: To remain free from judgment while removing sin from self and others. How to play: Carefully consider your own planks, remove them, see the specks in others, then remove those.

Loopholes and exceptions are inevitable in any game, life being no different.  Christians should not assume they know how to play without reading the instructions as well as stop making up rules as we go!  We need to read all the instructions and ask those with “game” experience for guidance as well as return to the instructions repeatedly for clarification. Doing so assures we understand how to play and that we all play by the same rules.

When Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged”, it was the perfect set up to play by the rules!  He was saying don’t condemn, criticize, pronounce judgment, or pass sentence on people.  In other words, don’t write people off because of their sin and don’t act the part of judge, handing down a death sentence. He was not suggesting we move through life ignoring our sin and refusing to see the sin in the lives of loved ones.  He was not saying “Don’t judge” behavior or actions if it is sin in the body of Christ. Instead we are charged with the privilege and responsibility of handing down a life sentence to people.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  Sometimes we just need a little help to acknowledge our sin in order to confess it! We need help removing the specks!

The problem comes with our understanding of judgment because most people jump to conclusions and misapply truths (make up rules) in regard to judging. However, judging something as sin is not the same as “passing judgment”. The most common English definition for “judge” is “to form an opinion or estimate”.  When this definition is applied to sin, people conclude that calling out behavior as sin means we form an opinion and make a judgment about A PERSON rather than form an opinion and make a judgment about A BEHAVIOR! Immediately then, defenses go up, and we protest “Don’t judge” because we assume “WE” are being judged rather than the truth, our “SIN” is being judged.

When people play a game without knowing the rules, by using their own rules, or by changing things up as they go, it always causes arguments, frustration, and even anger as people might even throw their hands up in the air saying “I quit!”  It’s no fun playing a game with people who cheat or change the rules to benefit themselves.  In life, God’s rules get more and more distorted as people refuse to read His instructions and live by His rules, preferring their own set of rules. For example, one person said to me, “If people were REAL Christians they would leave the judging up to God and not spew their narrow-minded opinions.  EVERYBODY has the right to love and be loved.”

There is so much wrong and implied in those words! First off, there is only ONE kind of Christian; a REAL one who actually follows Christ.  People who don’t follow are not Christian.  “REAL” insinuates there is a “FAKE” and “Fake Christian” is an oxymoron!  In other words, you can’t be a fake follower because you would be faking your following and that would mean you are not a Christian.

Secondly, leaving the judging up to God is correct in the sense of letting God “hand down the judgment” but knowing we are our brother’s keeper gives the sense of accountability and desire to bring truth for the sake of Jesus Christ! Judging sin based on the Word of God is our responsibility.  Naturally (and supernaturally) final judgment is God’s alone, but judging sin and calling it out has nothing to do with being narrow-minded or opinionated and everything to do with love!  True, unconditional, God-fearing love motivates us to share the love of Jesus with people as we stay busy removing planks and specks.

Think this through!  We cannot and should not rank sin, yet we do.  We think our sins are HUGE LIKE PLANKS, therefore we shouldn’t deal with the little specks  in others.  Instead we need to remove planks from our eyes to remove the specks from our brother’s eye.  BUT…for our brother, the speck we see in them is actually a plank to them.  So they must remove their plank (that we call a speck) so they can see the speck (that we call a plank) in us.  BUT… the speck they see in us is actually a plank and our plank is actually a speck! You get the point!  Plank or speck – Sin is sin! This teaching from Jesus is all about getting rid of sin and in the process, refusing to pass judgment on each other because sin is sin is sin is sin!

Thirdly, “Everybody has the right to love and be loved” is an interesting concept that makes me think about children, love, and obedience. Children disobey parents!  But even when they disobey, they are still loved! They have no “right” to disobey and they have no “right” to be loved. Love is a gift! We simply live passionately in love with them because we belong together! Our acceptance and love for children is never based on their obedience or disobedience (though we might not like them at the peak of disobedience).  Love motivates Christian parents to judge behavior as sin!  We remove our own sin and then we also remove it from our kids, most often through discipline and punishment, which always hurts, but is always worth the effort!  Likewise, taking a plank or a speck out of the eye is painful!  But oh, what sweet relief when it is out!

If love is a “right”, I guess our kids have the right to come back at us and say, “Hey, Dad and Mom – Don’t judge me!  Be REAL Christian parents!  Leave the judging to God!  Stop spewing your narrow-minded beliefs (opinions) at me!  I have rights you know!  I have the right to love and to be loved. Back off!”

No, love cannot be contained in a “right”.  Rights involve entitlement or thinking we are justified in making a claim on something. The moment we start thinking of “love” in terms of a “right” we fall into the trap of thinking we have done something to deserve love. That is a slippery slope into conditional love if there ever was one.  God is love! God first loved us therefore we are able to love others. Love is not based on what we do or don’t do but on who we are!  We have no right to be loved but we are blessed by the gift of love!  We have a God who loves unconditionally so that we can love unconditionally!

So what should we do instead of cry out “Don’t judge” all the time? Read the instruction manual.  Don’t judge!  Oh, but please remove those planks and specks!  Irritating specks, glaring planks – what’s the difference? Let’s do something about all of them!  Jesus did!

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Judge, Uncategorized

 

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The Great Cover-Up!

“Do it yourself” projects can be fun and interesting but they are often a bit deceiving.  The experts who put together projects for “do it yourselfers” sometimes underestimate the work and knowledge necessary to obtain the same results they get, making projects look easier than they really are. What may be simple for one person can be exceptionally challenging for someone else with different gifts and talents.  Experience also plays a huge factor because the more time and effort we have put into something, the more “unforeseen” problems we have faced and solved!  And even though experts can help avoid or sidestep difficulties, rarely can “do it yourselfers” come out unscathed, and very often mistakes need to be covered up.

Ultimately, there is no substitute for expertise. For example, most of us call the electrician when we need electric work done in our homes.  If he finds bad wiring and informs us of a fire hazard, I doubt we would argue with him or share our opinion, but would get the repair work done. We call on contractors to build, add on, or fix problems in our homes.  We usually take their advice, especially if they find issues, and it is unlikely we ignore what they have to say. We call on dentists when we need teeth fixed, doctors when we have medical concerns, lawyers when we have legal issues, bankers or financial experts when we have money questions, and plumbers when we have…pipe problems .  We might get a second opinion at times, but rarely do we pretend to be the expert in these things, nor would we think it appropriate to argue with those who know more than we do! 

It seems natural that we would do the same spiritually, you know, call on the experts to help us understand the Bible, grow in faith, and grasp truth.  Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Instead, when it comes to God, the Bible, and religion most people tend to be “Do it yourselfers”, forming their own opinions with little to no help from the experts.  People like to tell God their plans, “make their peace” with Him (whatever that means) and go on with life!  If a Christian pastor speaks truth, suggests a change of direction, tells us our spiritual understanding (wiring) is messed up, or that we have some problem areas, we rarely listen to their advice. We would rather argue, walk away, make our own plans, and continue to do our own thing.  There always seems to be someone who will come into agreement with us, so we just keep looking until we find them. 

Rejecting spiritual advice from those who are called to give it is like telling an electrician we disagree with them when they inform us a fire is imminent. Or telling a contractor we don’t consider the cracked foundation he found to be a big issue so we will just take our chances. We tell spiritual mentors, “Thanks for the information but we’ll be fine!”

This happens because electricians, contractors, dentists, doctors, lawyers, bankers and plumbers all deal with tangible, hands-on problems making it easy to see and feel our own limitations and inabilities.  We easily surrender to our need for help if we physically see and feel all is not well, and though we will complain about the cost, we still pay!  But when it comes to faith and spiritual issues that we can’t see or touch, we aren’t as willing to admit our limitations and inabilities, or seek advice, or pay the cost.  Sin is at the root of nearly all problems in life. This is where the “Do it yourself” approach gets us into the most trouble.  We don’t think sin is anybody else’s business and as long as we take it up with God and He is good with us, we do whatever we like.  At least that is the prevalent attitude out there. 

But here’s the thing about sin!  It’s not relative! In other words a sin cannot be compared to other things to determine if it really is sin or not.  Our personal definition of sin is irrelevant when it disagrees with God’s Word and this is where it would be wise to consult those who study the Word of God and are appointed by Him to lead us.  Most of the time we tell our spiritual leaders what we are doing is not sin.  The thing is, sin deceives and destroys leaving us vulnerable and in need of exposure the same way bad wiring or construction is unsafe and we need experts to uncover the problems. Most often we do whatever it takes, including seeking and heeding professional advice to get and stay healthy to rid our lives of physical pain and agony, yet do we make the same effort to care for ourselves spiritually? We generally don’t because we can’t “see” and “feel” it as quickly so it is just a slow fade!  Sin eats away at us like decay in our mouths, or germs and virus eat away at our bodies. 

The great news is we don’t need to sit back and let sin do its’ dirty work unbeknownst to us.  Sin does not define who we are nor does it direct our destiny.  Sin should be neither hidden nor flaunted.  It is not meant to be argued or debated.  It does not have the ability to embarrass or humiliate.  It is not a private matter between God and us.  Keeping sin secret might save us embarrassment for the time being but in reality it is a huge set-up for failure because where there is no accountability sin runs rampant.  Instead, sin is meant to be exposed and expelled from our lives according to the Word of God. Sure, it isn’t always easy.  But the answer is still simple. We have a Redeemer.  His Name is Jesus!   He is our remedy for sin and with our eyes fixed on Him, sin is just sin.  Its power is gone when exposed!   

All that is required is faith in Jesus to let God’s wisdom and understanding have the driver’s seat in our lives while making human logic and reasoning take a back seat. We don’t leave them behind when we walk in faith but they are no longer the driving force.  By faith we accept the fact that without Christ in our lives, we are broken down messes with undetectable cracks and wiring issues in need of repair and professional help.  When we open ourselves to the “experts” we discover spiritual matters demand time, endurance, patience, and our cooperation.  There are rarely any “quick fixes” when it comes to problems in life. This is usually where we lose interest.  We don’t like the fact that we can’t “hire” someone to fix up our lives, so we fix them ourselves, rejecting the leadership of our shepherds, trying to make God fit into our plans, and assuming He fixes our cracks and wiring with no effort on our part.  Indeed, on the outside things might appear to “be fine” but in reality we have just covered over problems with our “Do it yourself” remedies.

Through faith in God and His Word we will have no problem seeing that the “Do it yourself” approach in life is not God’s great cover up. James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  The only way to turn each away from the error of his way is to call sin what it is; a wandering from truth! We get to talk about truth AND about sin. There are no gray areas here!  Neither truth nor sin is relative and exposing sin turns us toward truth saving us from certain death!  Now that is great news!

We can probably all agree it is not an easy task to turn sinners from the error of their ways because it is never welcomed.  Even those who say they want to be held accountable only like it if they already know they are in sin and confess it before they are held accountable.  Instead, we are quick to attack, defend, rationalize, or flat-out deny any error and we totally reject any effort to save our souls from death.

God’s great cover up for sin is further exposed in 1 Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”  In these two verses we discover God’s great cover up: Salvation and love cover a “multitude” of sin not just a little bit of sin. However, we must understand this is not like the covering of a nice cozy blanket in bed on a wintry night. Salvation and love are not coverlets for sin, nor would we want them to cover over our sin. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to sleep with a multitude of sins, whether they are covered with love or not!  That is like eating chocolate covered maggots.  Yuck!

This would be another good place to consult the “experts” when it comes to uncovering the secret to this “cover”.  The Greek word for “cover” in these verses is “kalypto”, which most often means “to hide or hinder the knowledge of something”.  But if that was the meaning in this context, it would insinuate love hinders our knowledge about the sin in our lives, which is obviously absurd.  Instead, in these two verses, “kalypto” means “to pardon the sins or to procure pardon of the multitude of sins from God”.  Isn’t that beautiful? Love doesn’t cover our sin in the sense of hiding it, but it pardons, forgives, and removes the sin from us so that we can revel in love! How does that work?  By turning one another from the error of our ways, by exposing sin for what it is, and then receiving pardon by turning to His love!

Peter’s reference is taken from Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”  This Hebrew word for “cover” most often means to conceal or hide something. But here it means to “pardon” or “officially release us from further punishment.”  And we see the same in Psalm 32:1 “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Psalm 85:2 “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin.”  Knowing these Greek and Hebrew definitions for “cover” helps us expose sin in order to be released from it rather than covering it up or hiding sin.

God’s great cover up for sin is so much better than ours.  We embrace His ways by letting Holy Spirit open our eyes to what He is saying rather than reading His Word through our own eyes of understanding.   For example, one truth from Scripture that Christians often misread leading us to be silent and deceived when it comes to sin is Matthew 7:3-5 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Most Christians read this and conclude since we all have planks (sin) we should keep quiet about specks (sin) in others.  In other words, since we all have “huge” sins in our lives we should not talk about the “little” sins in the lives of others.  But this is not what God is saying at all!  By relegating the meaning to this, not only will others not get free from their sin but we won’t either.  Nowhere in these verses does it say we are not to remove sin from each other! In fact it says the opposite!  Scripture is consistent! We should get rid of our own sin so that we will see CLEARLY to REMOVE sin from our brother or sister. Jesus points out the hypocritical attitude of people who ONLY see the sin of others without acknowledging their own sin.  He is not saying “Let’s never talk about sin!”

Hypocrites are people who say one thing but do another; they are pretenders.  Hypocrites are not people who call out sin in the family of God.  We are hypocrites if we pretend other people have sin and we don’t.  We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but that does not leave us victims.  Get rid of our sin, and then let’s deal with sin in others.   

The question remains, why are we so willing to remain silent in the face of sin? Because we know people will reject us if we call sin, sin!  They will say we don’t love or support them. They will accuse us of being judgmental!  They will walk away from us and THEN how can we help them?  They will say we aren’t any better than them (no one said we were).  They will find others who sympathize with them. They will go find people who will be “nice” and support them instead of letting the kindness of our Lord lead them to repentance.  In the end how much better is it to risk rejection for a moment here to save a soul from death?  The cost is great – but it is well worth it.

I want to be around people who refuse to cover up the truth of my sin and want the same for themselves. Oh, I know I won’t like it – but the pay-off is worth it.  And I want to hang with people who believe in the greatest cover up of all time – The love and salvation of Jesus Christ! Then, we get to go and share this great news with everyone we meet!   

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Sin

 

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