Dancing On The Edge

I am amazed at the number of folks who profess Christianity but chose to flirt with sin.  They don’t actually cross the line but they dance on the edge.  In other words, they see how close they can get to sin without getting burned. This is a very dangerous behavior because the bible tells us this will eventually draw us right into the middle of sin.

Psalm 1 says this, Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord.

There is a very subtle progression in these verses that warn us about playing on the edges of sin.  First, these verses caution us not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly.  In other words, don’t be enticed by sin in the first place.  Stay clear and walk away.  If you don’t walk away while you can, the next portion of this passage says we will find ourselves standing in the path of sinners.  You see, we were enticed by sin as we walked in the counsel of the ungodly and now we find ourselves stopped, standing and engaged in sin. Finally, this passage tells us if we don’t choose to get away, we will find ourselves sitting in the seat of the scornful.  We have now embraced sin.

By flirting with sin, by playing along the edges, we are beginning our walk down a path that will eventually lead us to sitting right in the middle of sin.  We will follow the path described in Psalms.  We will walk into sin. We will find ourselves standing in sin and eventually just sit down right in the middle of it.  We have been enticed by sin, we have become engaged in the sin, and finally we find ourselves embracing the sin.

So what is the answer here?  It’s simple.  Don’t play around the edges of sin.  Get away while you can and simply don’t be enticed in the first place.  Next time you are tempted by something that is not of Christ, remember to stop, turn around and go the other way.  Do not be enticed.  Do not become engaged in the sin. Don’t embrace sin.

God has great plans for your life.  Don’t allow yourself to sit and get comfortable in the middle of sin and miss what God has planned for you.

Who Do You Really Want To Be?

Have you ever asked yourself who you really want to be?  Notice I didn’t ask you what you want to be but rather who do you want to be?

When I am at social gatherings it is amusing for me to watch the interaction among people.  After learning someone’s name, men generally follow up with the second question.  So, what do you do?

We live in a world where our worth is often linked to our job. However, we know that nothing could be further from the truth.  We see people every day who have high power jobs but yet are falling prey to the sins of the world. A United States president accused of involvement in Watergate who ultimately resigned.  Another US president accused of an inappropriate relationship with an intern.  A military general accused of an inappropriate relationship with a business associate. Business executives indicted for criminal activity. These folks know what they want to be but they have struggled with who they want to be.

I can’t help but think of the life of Joseph, detailed in the book of Genesis, when I think of someone who clearly knew what he wanted to be.  Here is a young man who was tempted with sexual immorality by the wife of his boss.  Even when tempted Joseph replied to her, How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.  Joseph understood who he wanted to be.  He wanted to be a man that followed after the heart of God.  He wasn’t about to let anything destroy his relationship with his God.

So who do you want to be? Do you want to follow after the desires of man or do you want to follow the character of Christ?  Follow God or follow man?  You must pick one. You can’t serve both.

I hope today you make the decision about who you want to be.  Be that person who pursues a relationship with God and builds their character on solid Godly principles.

More Bad News?

I am always amazed at the folks who stop me to talk about the most recent negative news reports.  What will happen to the fiscal cliff?  Will the stock market crash?  What will happen to my retirement? Have I heard about the latest shooting? With twenty-four hour access to the news media we will always have some bad news to worry about. But…as followers of Christ, why do we worry so much?

For my generation there has always been bad news that causes us to worry.  Do you remember these events?

The 1963 assassination of President Kennedy

The 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 1972 Munich Olympic games massacre

The 1974 oil crisis that caused the rationing of gasoline

The 1979 Iranian hostage crisis

The 1999 Columbine shootings

Hurricane Katrina in 2005

The economic recession starting in 2007

The recent Newtown shootings of 2012

You see…there is always something to worry about if we are looking for it. However, do you really think any of this bad news catches God by surprise?  Do you really think God sits in heaven trying to figure out what He will do with all these situations? Is God just wringing His hands with worry?  The answer is simple.  Of course not!

Matthew chapter 10 tells us this: What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. Even the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid…

What a powerful verse!  God is still in control of this world and this universe and He will take care of you.  So stop worrying about the cares of the world and instead focus on the wonderful life God has given you.  Focus on those things that, with God’s help, you can change to impact this world for the kingdom of God.

I have great news for you.  God is still in control!

My New Year’s Resolution is…

Every New Year I listen to folks talk about their resolutions.  I am going to lose weight.  I am going to stop smoking.  I am going to run everyday.  I am going to spend more time with my family.  Did you know that very few New Year’s resolutions ever become reality?

According to ABC News, fifty-eight percent of Americans younger than 45 will make a New Year’s resolution.  In this same 2011 ABC News study, forty percent of those who made a New Year’s resolution didn’t keep it at all.  The remaining sixty percent kept it for at least part of the year.  Do you wonder why so many resolutions are never kept?  Perhaps it is because of one simple letter that started this discussion…the letter “I”.  Remember…I am going to lose weight. I am going to stop smoking. I am going to run everyday.

If we listen to some of the studies on New Year’s resolutions maybe we can see how little we really can do by ourselves.  Maybe it’s time for each of us to let God change us from the inside out.  As the New Year arrives, may I challenge you to make a resolution with a difference?  Will you let God direct your steps this year?

It’s never too late.  No matter what mess you find yourself in this New Year you have a chance to make a resolution involving God that will stick.  In Luke 23 we read the story of the crucifixion of Jesus.  As you may recall, two men were crucified with Jesus.  If these men were being put to death, you know they had done some terrible things.  Yet, while hanging on a cross, one of these men said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.  Jesus replied, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.  You see, it really is that simple.  A man condemned to death simply resolved to follow Jesus and his life was changed forever.

Will you make a change today that will not only impact the upcoming year but will transform the rest of your life?  As you consider your New Year’s resolution, pick one that will really matter.  Have the resolve to follow Jesus and let your life be changed forever.

You Want Me To Do What???

As we think about the Christmas season, my mind always goes back to the Christmas story…the story of the birth of Jesus. There are so many powerful lessons in the birth of Christ but one that comes to mind is the power of obedience.

In the book of Luke we learn that an angel appeared to Mary announcing that she would give birth to Jesus.  Stop for a moment and don’t miss the significance of this event.  For you ladies, suppose you were to awaken in the middle of the night tonight.  Next to you is an angel announcing you will give birth to the Son of God.  What would you do?  What would you be thinking?  Mary spent some time in discussion with the angel and then simply said, I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true. What a response! Mary didn’t engage in an argument with the angel. She didn’t say how inconvenient this was going to be.  She didn’t say she was busy with other things.  She didn’t even say the timing just isn’t good right now.  Mary simply obeyed.

Mary wasn’t alone in the desire to obey God.  Joseph also had a significant part in this event.  Now it’s time for the guys to think about what you would do in this situation.  Your girlfriend announces to you that she is pregnant and the baby’s father is actually God.  Do you believe it?  What will you tell your family and friends? Maybe you should simply dissolve this relationship.  This just doesn’t seem to be working out for you.

Yet Joseph clearly supported and cared deeply for Mary.  In fact, after the birth of Jesus, the book of Matthew tells us this:

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”  That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary. 

I want you to focus on the critical words that night.  Yes…that night Joseph left for Egypt.  Joseph didn’t question God about this direction.  There was no hesitation. Joseph instantly obeyed.

So what is God telling you to do?  Are you obeying?  Often when God directs us to do something it is not a convenient time, it is not an easy situation, and it may not be something we want to do. Still, when God speaks don’t push Him aside.  God is directing you for a reason.  Don’t forget the power in obedience.