Sorry, sorry doesn’t cut it.

sorry

Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.[1]  The greek word, μετανοώ, is mentioned (21) times in the new testament.  Strong’s defines the word as, “to repent, to change any or all of the elements composing one’s life: attitude, thoughts, and behaviors concerning the demands of God for right living.”[2]  According to this, repenting is a little more involved than just an “I’m sorry.”  It requires us to completely change the offending attitude, thought, and/or behavior.  This screams at me the reason we are told to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”[3]

How many times have you wronged someone in a way and uttered the words, “I’m sorry” without changing any element of your life to correct the situation?  I know, I have.  I spent years saying the words but never having the action to fortify those words.  I would lie and manipulate.  I would expect those (2) words to be more than enough.  I would scream, “I said I’m sorry already,” more than a few times.  Sorry, sorry doesn’t cut it.

According to Scripture, for us to truly repent to God, we are required to change any or all of the elements that are offending to God.  The same can be said of our human relationships.  I can say that is not easy as we are creatures of habit and we love to be stuck in the same mundane unhealthy and non-spiritual routines, day in and day out.  We can be happy sitting in our own filth, eating ourselves to death, or not even bathing if it becomes a normal routine for us.  We accept not praying, not doing our devotions, not spending time in the word of God, not tithing, or not going to church.

In the 1800s, revivals would take place.  Mind you, they weren’t planned revivals like you hear of today.  No, they weren’t planned at all.  The people would just show up and feel a nudging to show up, there would be a stirring among-st the crowd that would bring people to their knees repenting.  We need revivals today.  We need people to just show up.  We need the Holy Spirit to move across a town, city, county, state, and country.  Let’s make it easy and just start with you.     Sure, you may be saying to yourself, of course we need this but how do we make it happen.  It’s simple.  I’ve been talking about it this whole post…Repent.

Repentance brings about a spirit and attitude that is contagious.  Repentance brings freedom in Christ.  Repent before God.  Don’t just say you’re sorry, change your behavior as not to do it again.  Remember, saying I’m sorry does not equal repenting.  Commit to abiding in Christ and make it happen.  Then begin bearing the fruits of repentance and bless those that God places in your life.  Your life will be filled with joy no matter the circumstances.

[1] Matthew 3:2, ESV

[2] James Strong, 2001, The strongest Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible / James Strong. – 21st century ed., full rev. and corrected / by John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson.

[3] Matthew 3:8, ESV

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Reflection, conversation, and hope.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table this morning enjoying my cup of fresh coffee while watching the sun make it’s way over the horizon and I am thankful.  You never understand how screwed up your priorities are until your priorities are right.  Looking back on my life, my number one priority was me.  I had it all; all consuming pride, selfishness, self righteousness, with a dose of high mindedness, as well as entitlement.  I literally thought if you don’t like me then there is something wrong with you.  I was above spending my precious time helping someone else and always complained when no one helped me.  Blinded by my own wickedness, I felt vindicated in nearly all of my decisions.

Being caught in infidelity, I would spend hours manipulating and blaming everyone, especially her, it surely wasn’t me.  My life was full of perceived knowledge.  I had a perceived knowledge of the Scriptures.  I had a perceived knowledge of my own salvation.  There was nothing I could do that would cause me to go to Hell.  I had a perceived knowledge of what a man, a real man, should be.  I had a perceived knowledge of love.  I had a perceived sense of entitlement.  I had a perceived knowledge of Jesus.

I placed myself in a world of self gratification.  A world where I was king.  Everyone was here for my own pleasure.  I would spend hours upon hours “working” my next victim.  At the time, I didn’t consider them victims, I was delusional in my conquests.  My life of sin has costs me tremendously.  Sin is much like letting your dog out without tying him up.  At first the dog will not wonder far, in fact, the first dozen times the dog may very well stay within a couple of paces.  However, as you continue to let the dog out, he will venture farther and farther, testing his boundaries.  Sin enters your heart and stirs.  At first, its manageable.  Then it quickly turns on you.  If unaddressed, sin will devour everything it contacts.

The deadliest of sins are those that become habitual.  The sins you are actually planning.  The sins you pretend to control but control you.  Make no mistake, you cannot have a relationship with Christ and be in this position.  The Scriptures are clear that the Holy Spirit and sin cannot dwell within the same vessel.  I don’t care if you are the pastor, deacon, elder of the church.  I don’t care if you are the biggest financial or time contributor.  If you are involved in habitual sin you are traveling straight to Hell.

My saving grace was offered through Christ.  One day, God grabbed my heart and squeezed.  I will testify before the highest courts of the land that this was literal.  I heard him say to me, “Enough!  You will feel every heart break that you have bestowed upon your wife and others.”  For three days, I laid in bed crying.  The hurt was unbearable.  The shame was even more so.  How could anyone possibly love me after all I have done.  I think Toby Mac’s lyrics in “Love Broke Thru” describe this perfectly:

When love broke thru
You found me in the darkness
Wanderin’ thru the desert
I was a hopeless fool
Now I’m hopelessly devoted
My chains are broken
And it all began with You
When love broke thru
And it all began with You
When love broke thru

I can’t help but wonder where I would be today if it had not been for His intervention.  I don’t want you to think God instantly took away all of my issues.  I had to make and still make daily decisions to live for Him and not myself.  The process has been long and hard.    I can confidently say that I am not the same person I was 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years ago.  I’m traveling down the narrow road experiencing all that God is offering.  Through my obedience to Him, I continue on.  I will be launching Plucked from the Pit Ministry shortly and will begin to influence Northeastern Ohio by offering restoration, education, and freedom from the bondage of sexual addiction through the obedience in Christ.

I ask that you continue to pray for me and this endeavor.  I continue to pray for men that will surround me and speak truth into me.  I pray for men that will love me and guide me.  There is a good thing on the horizon and that good thing is Jesus Christ.

Where are the elders in your church?

I have witnessed churches become more concerned about the numbers walking through the doors and the number of individuals becoming saved during services than any other mission out there.  Your first thought here is “Well, that is the Great Commission.”  You are half right.  There is a certain level of arrogance that comes along with this type of thinking and we often forget that we are required to make disciples.  Discipleship has become a giant buzz word within New Testament churches today.  Few understand what this entails and even fewer have plans in place to make this happen.  What kind of retention does your church have?  If you don’t know or are unsure, that is a real problem.  Is your church too large to keep account of the flock?  It’s as if we go to auction bid on the sheep, win the bidding, and then let them wander away to be devoured.

Many churches are truly understaffed and a good portion of the congregation knows very little of the ins and outs of every day church business and the requirements or strains that it puts on those appointed to oversee it.  If you deal with people at all, it can be extremely exhausting and extremely rewarding.  Which makes me wonder if we are meant to have medium to large churches.  In the early church days the believers met in very intimate settings, they lived together, they ate together, they sold their belongings and distributed to any that had needs; they did everything together.  If you are in a larger church you may try to emulate this intimate setting with a weekly “small group”.  Are you getting together and having bible study or are you sharing your life’s intimate details with one another?  We are called to clothe ourselves in humility towards one another, to share our lives, our struggles, and even more so, our praises towards God.  Where is the discipline within the church, the reproving?  Is it happening within the small groups?  Sin is running rampant within the church because we simply refuse to acknowledge it.  We have become a society that doesn’t care what God’s word states but more concerned about which game is playing tonight.

We elect elders through a series of nominations and a vote as we feel God’s Will eliminates or elevates those that belong in that position.  Do you know who your elders are?  Do they know who you are?  Which begs the question, how can you shepherd the flock of God that is among you (1 Peter 5:5) if you don’t know who the flock is.  Do we have too few elders?  Are the ranks of mature Christians that small?  Has it become a popularity contest of older men that really have no interest in teaching the less mature?    Do they love Jesus but refuse to acknowledge their responsibilities?  The flock MUST come first.  How do you offer discipline or correction if you are unaware of the situation?  Have your elders taken men under their guidance?  Are they investing the time to teach, to correct, to facilitate growth?  Are they leading by example?  I certainly don’t want to discredit the other ministries within the church, but rest assured if your men’s ministry is not strong, your ministry is on the brink of death.

What a tremendous responsibility these men have and one that should not be taken lightly.  I for one, appreciate those willing to step up to the task.  If you are an elder and have trouble answering those questions above, consider the opportunities you have for growth and consider even more, the reward you receive from watching a less mature believer come into a more mature presence with the Lord.  Pick five men and start today.

I DECLARE these 25 truths

I will awake every morning and DECLARE these 25 truths.  What are your truths?

  1. Jesus is first in my life, I exist to glorify Him.
  2. I am the son of the King of all kings.
  3. My life is a witness, a city on a hill. (Matthew 5:14)
  4. I love my wife and will lay down my life to serve her.
  5. My children will bear witness to the changes God is making within me. I will nurture, equip, train and empower them to do more for His Kingdom than they can imagine.
  6. I am irrationally generous because God is irrationally generous. (Romans 5:8)
  7. I lay down my pride and selfishness, giving all glory to the one true God.
  8. Jesus’ name is above my addiction.
  9. I am disciplined. Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me.
  10. I am growing closer to Jesus every day. Because of Christ, my family is closer, my body is stronger, my faith is deeper, and my leadership is sharper.
  11. I am anointed, empowered, equipped and called to reach those men stuck in the same muck in which I have been saved.
  12. I am creative, innovative, driven, focused and blessed beyond measure – because the Holy Spirit dwells within me.
  13. My words, thoughts, and imaginations are under the power of Christ. I take all thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.
  14. I wake up with purpose, direction, and meaning every day of my life.
  15. I love because Love lives in me.
  16. I’m not defined by my failures or successes
  17. I am called to make a difference in this world.
  18. The world will be different & better because I served Jesus today.
  19. God will complete the work He first began in me. (Philippians 1:6)
  20. I keep no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
  21. Nothing the enemy throws at me is more powerful than Jesus.
  22. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. (Ephesians 1:19-20)
  23. I fight for purity, guarding my eyes and heart from tempting situations.
  24. Even when others remind me of my past, I will not let it limit my future.
  25. I never give up!

Does Iron really sharpen Iron?

I have been in manufacturing most of my life, nearly 25 years now.  I have never once witnessed iron sharpening iron.  I have seen torches, grinders, diamonds, lasers, shears, or even water used to bevel or put a point on iron, but never iron on iron.  So it begs the question in me, does iron really sharpen iron?  In short, if the iron is the same grade and composition the answer will always be no.  In order for a material to be sharpened it must be placed against a material which is harder than itself.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17, ESV

When the Bible speaks of iron sharpening iron it is a reference to us as fellow believers, Christians.  In the process of sharpening iron, the dull iron will be placed against the harder piece, slid smoothly along removing the burrs, peaks & valleys of the initial piece.  Constant pressure and multiple passes are required to achieve a sharper blade.  Often times improving its effectiveness as a tool.  How can we apply this to our own lives?

As a Christian, you will only be “sharpened” by placing yourself in constant presence of more mature believers than yourself.  You cannot expect to be sharpened if you hang out with less mature believers.  Certainly I am not saying that you should not be around new believers, quite the contrary, in that instance you are the sharpener.  As a Christian, we are to have the role of sharpener and of one who is being sharpened.  If you examine your life and are not influenced and have intimate relationships with more mature believers, your growth is more than likely stagnate.

Pray for God to bring you someone or a group of someones that can hold you accountable, that can sharpen you as need be, and will restore you to a more effective tool.  After all, this is for God’s glory not your own.  It is often a very uncomfortable process, but an extremely necessary one.

 

He is still in control

I continue to pray that God sends me those that need to hear my story.  I am humbled by the shear number of people he is sending my way.  I am merely a servant of Christ that is allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me.  Sure, there are times I stumble.  There are days that the spiritual battles are almost too much to bear.  There are those days, where I feel completely discouraged and yet, He sends another person just to remind me that he is still in control.  I worship a God that has taken all the worry out of my day and replaced it with joy.

Create in me a Clean Heart, O God

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.

PSALM 51:1-15, ESV