I have started this blog over and over, but here we go. As Christians what do we do when we make a mistake or sin? Yes, as a follower of Christ we have been forgiven of all of our sins.
The problem is when our name gets written in the Book of Life you are still on this earth, and you still can sin, and make mistakes. Does this mean we just keep living a life of sin? Romans 6:4 answers this question, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” We as Christians are called to live a life that is perfect and pleasing to the Lord. However, throughout our life, we will continue to mess up and make mistakes. What I want to talk about is what we do when we make mistakes.
Everyone’s Mistakes are Different
It was Hannah Montana who said, “Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has those days. Everybody knows what—what I’m talkin’ ’bout. Everybody gets that way.” You know what, Hannah was right, we all do make mistakes. However, before we get into what our response is when we make mistakes, I think it is important to remember that temptation hits everyone differently. There are some that suffer more from greed, or from pride. There are some that can be humble with no problem but struggle with lust. The important thing is not to compare ourselves to other people and their struggles. For example, saying things like, “Oh I am in great shape because I don’t get angry like that guy.” Lead us to Matthew 7:1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” The Bible is pretty clear that instead of worrying about the shortcomings of others, we need to be focused on our struggles, and our relationship with the Lord.
What do You Do When You mess Up?
What is your game plan when you mess up? The way I see it is you have two options. You can feel sorry for yourself and be sad that you made a dumb mistake. However, the latter option is you rest on the fact that God has given us grace. We then pray for forgiveness of that sin and we move on and live for the Lord. The moving-on part can sometimes be the most difficult part of the process, but it should not be, and here is why. God has promised not only the forgiveness of that sin but also that He forgets it.
Isaiah 43:25: “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
Hebrews 8:12 ESV: “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Hebrews 10:17 ESV: “Then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Jeremiah 31:34 ESV : “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
These verses make it clear that God has the power of forgiveness, and the power to forget. God has moved on from your sin and wants to continue your relationship. We should not get in the way, but remember that God has given us grace, we should accept His grace and run after Him.
Ok, What Now?
I challenge you that the next time you make a mistake, and sin is do 3 things: 1. Ask God to forgive you of that thing you have done, 2. celebrate in his Grace, and 3. go on living for Him.
When I was a teenager my whole family would watch T.V. together. There were certain nights of the week, that some of our favorite shows would come on and we all would sit down and had a blast watching the shows. Then one day in high school my dad got something called Netflix. When Netflix started it was not a streaming service, you made a list of the movies you wanted to see and they would mail you the discs (I am not making this up, you can google it). The funniest part is if you wanted to watch a show they would not mail you a whole season. They would mail you 1 disc at a time. Years down the road they put it all online, and the world of binge-watching began.
The Purpose of this article
My goal today is not to tell you that you can not watch Netflix, Hulu, or Disney +. My goal today is for us to see that as Christians we should be in our Bible’s more. In order to do something more, you will have to cut something out or scale back on something. In my own life, I know what could be scaled back for me is my time on Instagram and Netflix. However, this got me thinking, why is watching Netflix or scrolling Instagram more enjoyable than reading my Bible? I have come up with a few reasons why, when I have a minute to spare I would rather watch my favorite show rather than read what God has to say in the Word.
Why we think TV is easier than the Bible
When I get home from a long day, it is almost an instinct to flip on the T.V. In most of our homes it is at the center of our living room. The room that is titled because we spend a lot of our time living in there. Think about that, the room that supposedly is the center of the house is centered around the television. When you get home it is so easy to just pick up the remote, sit on the couch and just dive into our favorite show. Our lives seem to be set up around our televisions, computers, or phones. What if at the center of my living room was a stack of Bibles? It sounds cheesy, but maybe this is something I should try. I should put out Bibles by my bed, car, living room, and my office. Then, maybe the first thing I will reach for is God’s word rather than watching the same episode of the Office for the 50th time. We prioritize the things we care about, and we make doing the things we enjoy the easiest thing in our day.
When I have spare time I like finding a new show or movie or watching one I have seen before. I find this relaxing, but more than that, I enjoy it. I like what is happening in the movie or television show. This is the main reason I come back to the television and watch again and again. I feel invested, I want to know what happens next. Even if it is a show I have watched over and over, I still want to see what happens. Why are we not this invested in God’s word? This problem is mostly reciprocal. We don’t want to spend time in the Word because we are not invested in it, and we are not invested in it because we don’t spend time in His word. If we just sit down and look at the awesomeness, that is the word of God, we will be amazed by what we read.
Why is the Bible even Important?
The Bible has value because it is the perfect words of God. As Christians, we should have a desire to know our God who created us, saved us, and lives in us. The Bible was given to us by God so we could know him. If you had a friend who was leaving on a trip for a year but they promised to send you DM’s, texts, or even letters, you would be excited about these. The reason why is because you care about your friend and want to know them more, and hear about their experiences. In the same way, God has given us 66 books of information, and insight on who God is. It tells about His nature, His character, and His likes and dislikes. The more we read, the more we know Him, and the better we can worship Him, and bring Him glory.
Navigating the Tween and Teen Years Together
Disclaimer: This blog does discusses the topics of lust, purity, physical desires, pornography, masterbation, and sex.
I think being the parent of a teen has always been challenging, but today’s world presents some unique ones for sure. I by no means have this thing figure out, but God has allowed me to be involved in education for many years and is now allowing me to study counseling. I am around tweens and teens most days and this gives me a view into their world. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I’m happy to help you find the answers you need.
My heart’s desire is to share information that gives you some tools to be able to start conversations with your kiddos. I think we all know that as parents, we should revisit some of these ideas over and over again. Remember the toddler and preschool years and how often we had to remind them to not draw on the wall, not tear up the book, or not bite the dog? Well, these kinds of reminders are back but the topics are much weightier. Our students are beginning to practice for adulthood. We need to give them room to explore their world but stay connected enough to know what’s going on and be able to correct their course as needed.
This past Sunday we talked about the 7th commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” Beyond the teaching of scripture, why do we need to talk to our kids, and keep talking to our kids, about sex and pornography? Here are just a few statistics taken from this article.
• Young Americans do not think pornography is a negative thing. When they speak about pornography with friends, 90 percent of teens (ages 13 to 17) and 96 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24) say they do so in a neutral, accepting, or encouraging way.
• Sixty-six percent of teens and young adults have received a sexually explicit image via text and 41 percent have sent one.
• Thirty-three percent of women ages 13 to 24 seek out porn at least once per month. (And the statistic for men is even higher.)
And just yesterday, Feed Youth Ministries shared that 56% of U.S. Christian teens believe it is ok to have sex before marriage. These are real issues that our kids are facing and we need to be prepared to help them understand what it looks like to believe in and follow God in today’s world.
I’ve written the following section for our students (You should look through the section first, before you pass it along for them to read), but I want them to have an adult to talk to about what it shares. I don’t know how you’ve talked about sex with your child, and I want you to be able to share with them when and where you want; I want to provide a tool to help start or continue the conversation, not dictate how you should parent. I know some of your students might not be mature enough to read the section below, but that does not mean you avoid this conversation. Your children are hearing about sex. If it is not from you, it is from their friends and the world. I think the best thing for us, as parents is to introduce this topic ourselves in order for our children to have the proper framework. Without us setting the parameters, they will begin to be curious about the things they have heard. This curiosity can lead down some dark paths. When you have read the student section below, here is a button that will take you to a link with just the student part. You can copy this link and send it to your children directly. I pray this is helpful to you and your tweens and teens. Please feel free to reach out to Jordan or myself if you ever need anything!
For Your Students: You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)
Hmmmmm. As a student, this is another commandment that seems pretty straight forward, right? How can you even do this? You’re not married; many of you haven’t even started dating yet. But, when we look at what Jesus says in Matthew 5, it changes things a bit. Even the youngest in our group has noticed a cute girl, a hot guy, has probably wondered what it’s like to hold hands with someone, or even kiss them. You’ve heard things at school about what a couple did together. You’ve possibly received a “sext,” or even seen something that is considered pornography. These things all have to do with what Jesus was teaching on. Now, is having these thoughts alone a sin? Probably not because these desires are something God has given us. But, when they are allowed to take control of our minds, and then move us to desires and actions, then, we are probably moving into the realm of sinning.
But, you say, “If God has given me these desires, why is acting on them, embracing them, a sin?” I’ll explain but let me paint a picture first. Think about fire. Are there times fire is beautiful, necessary, and a very good thing? Are there also times that fire is very dangerous, that it can quickly get out of control, and become very destructive? Even if you never touch a fire, is it possible to get burned? But, doesn’t fire also provide warmth and sometimes even protection? I believe you all probably answered yes to all of those questions.
Now, I want to talk about that thing you’ve all been hoping I wouldn’t mention – sex. But, we’re going to talk about it for a just moment. Sex is like fire in that within the context that God created it (Yes, God made sex and sexual desires… mind blowing, I know) it is a VERY GOOD THING. It provides things in a marriage relationship that nothing else can and teaches us things about God we can’t learn anywhere else. But, like fire, when taken out of a safe place, or if it is used improperly, it can be very dangerous, and even destructive. There are many consequences we can face if we don’t abide by the guidelines, rules for lack of a better word, that God gives us in the Scriptures. These guidelines define what it means to live a pure life. But even knowing all this, sexual temptations is often VERY hard to flee from.
I hope you’ve seen as we have talked about the other commandments that simply “following the rules” isn’t exactly what God is after. Even if we never have sex before we are married, or never look at pornography, it is possible to fall into sexual sin, to break the 7th commandment. Especially when we look at what Jesus taught in the New Testament, we see that God cares not only about our actions but also about our thoughts and feelings, about the state of our hearts. So, how does purity become an issue of the heart?
I believe what God really desires in our pursuit of purity is an absolute dependence on him to satisfy us. When we take the satisfaction of our desires into our own hands, we don’t get to experience and enjoy God in the ways he intends. The world says that we should watch porn, use masterbation (self pleasuring), making out, or engage in sex with another to satisfy these urges and desires. But when we do that, we circumvent the pathways God has for meeting our needs. We also miss out on opportunities to grow in the things of God, in the things that he teaches us in waiting for his will to come about. Pursuing purity is about trusting God to provide for you when you need it, how you needed it, and exactly the way He wants to. Purity requires faith that these desires won’t over take us and trusting that God really is enough.
It is important to have a plan, to know what you will do, BEFORE you are faced with sexual temptation. Begin now by talking to the adults in your life about what purity means and how to face the temptations that are around you. Pray now that God would help you make right choices and that He would help you know how to flee from the temptations that will arise. And remember, you are not alone! If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit is IN you! He is ready and willing to come to your aide whenever you need it. And there are adults all around you, that love you, and care about you, and are willing to listen and answer your questions.
Questions to consider…
Take some time to think through these and talk about them with your parent or another trusted adult.
• What questions do you have about what you just read? Seek answers from an adult you trust, NOT the internet or your friends.
• Do you know what pornography is? Have you ever encountered it? What did you do when you saw it? How do you think God wants you to respond?
• Knowing what God desires for you, what are some things you can do to pursue purity?
We as a country we have been in a state of flux for almost two months. Things have changed quickly and drastically before our very eyes. When we think of what life was like at the beginning of March, to now as we enter the beginning of May, things are different on almost every level. However, as time goes on over the next couple months things will start to slowly go back to whatever post Corona normal looks like. I have no idea when that day will come, but what I do know is that I must prepare myself ahead of time for when that day comes.
Why Do We Need To Be Prepared?
As leaders people rely on us. You might be a leader in you church, or a leader in your job, or maybe you are the leader of your family. No matter where you are leading there is probably someone in this world who is looking up to you for guidance and direction. Whenever things do start to head towards normalcy, people will have questions. These people will want guidance and direction, and as a leader you will need to be prepared.
The Best Leaders Are Prepared?
We have all probably had at least one great teacher who has taught us in school or in church. The good teachers are the ones who walk in, and from the start of class they are ready to go. Things on the board, papers printed out, and fun and engaging things so we don’t fall asleep. However, at the same time we all have probably had at least one terrible teacher. The one that walked in to class late, and when they got there realized they forgot all their papers at home. The teacher that kind of rolled their eyes when they finally stepped up to the front of class and just read the text book. In both of these examples one thing that separated these two leaders was the level of preparedness.
How Do You Prepare?
PRAY, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
What About After That?
You have to keep praying. Once again, I have no idea how long the world will look like it looks now. However, I do know I worship a sovereign God. The same God who was on his throne before this, and the same God who will be on his throne long after. We have to spend more and more time in prayer during this time. The transition of things going back to any kind of normal will be a process. That process will take time and patience. In that transition we will need to be prepared to lean on the Lord (It is a good idea to always lean on the Lord just an FYI). This is the time to pray as we ready our hearts and minds to lead others in this confusing time.
There was a game I played growing that I loved. It was called the “Guess Who Game”. This game had two boards with a bunch of cartoon people. You had one and the person you were playing against had one. The point of the game was to take turns trying to figure out who the other person had selected as their person. You asked questions like, “Is this person wearing a hat,” or “Do they have blonde hair?” With this game you were trying to guess who someone was based on physical characteristics. This game is a lot of fun, but as mothers all over the world have said for generations, “what matters is on the inside”.
A couple years ago the Enneagram Test came on the scene, and it seemed like the whole world picked it up like it was on sale. At first it was just the test, and you could compare with your friends which Enneagram number they were and which one you were. It led to fun sayings like, “Oh yeah that is true, you do think like that. You are such a 7.” As time has gone on, this test has picked up steam with graphics and social media pages dedicated to what number you are. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the test. When I took the test I got Enneagram 2. However, the funny thing about the test is it is a boiled down version of personality tests that have been around for decades.
The Root of the Tests
So why do we love them so much? We as a society, and as people in general have a desire to know about ourselves. These tests are merely a quick assessment of how we approach situations, people, and the world. Taking the test is a good starting point if you are taking a deep self-assessment. As ministers and leaders knowing about ourselves is vital. However, it is not always easy. There are many people that I have met that enjoy being wrong, and sometimes, when trying to find out who you truly are, you realize you were wrong about yourself.
Why is it important?
So why is knowing about ourselves important? This is a topic that could have many blogs written about, (and many have been). The truth is we are all made differently, we have different strengths and weaknesses. When you are younger this is something that doesn’t really register. I kind of always thought everyone was like me. I thought they loved what I loved, and wanted to do all the things I wanted to do. However, the older I get the more I began to see that there is no one just like me (honestly this is probably a good thing). This is why knowing who we are is so important, because knowing where you thrive, and seeing where you can improve does not only help you as a leader, or a minister, it also helps you as a Christian. We are called as Christians to minister to our community, and to the people around us, and this can be done so much more effectively when you know who you are.
What This Is Not
However, when learning about who you are, I have personally seen people make two big mistakes in this process. The first is, when they start to see things that they don’t like about themselves they stop the process. If we are going to look in a mirror to see who we truly are, we are going to see some warts. Part of being a mature Christian is recognizing areas where you need to improve, then handing those areas over to the Lord. The second big mistake I have seen is using your traits as an excuse. I have heard things like, “Oh I don’t need to do that, that is just not me”. Just because there are things that might be outside of our comfort zone does not mean that you shouldn’t do them. When someone is working out, some pressure is put on the muscle, but this is how they build up their strength. In the same way, if we are growing in who we are in Christ, there will be some hard things we have to do. I am reminded of Moses: he tried to get out of leading by saying he couldn’t speak to people. So God told him to grab his brother Aaron. This is why knowing who you are is so valuable; it not only shows you where you can grow, but it shows you that you can surround yourself with people who have strengths where you have weaknesses.
The Bible’s View
The Bible discusses this idea that we are all different when it talks about Spiritual Gifts (This is not a long list or discussion about spiritual gifts.). The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 14-20, “14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, yet one body”. The Bible shows us that in order for Christians to be the Body of Christ, then we need to embrace our differences. This starts with knowing what makes you you, and how you can best serve the Lord.
Well, What Now?
There may be some of you reading this who have spent years in staff development meetings where you have done everything I have talked about. If this is the case, how can you encourage others around you to start this process for themselves. If this is all new to you there are a three places where you can start. First, take a spiritual gifts test. These are not always perfect, but they are a start to show you how the Spirit has gifted you to grow and help the church. Second, find some personality test and spend some time honestly filling them out. I have already mentioned this is not where you stop when you are trying to find out who you are, this is where you start. Lastly, spend some time in prayer with the Lord. Start to really pray about who you are, and what you can do to live for him.
If you are interested in any resources that might help, drop a comment.
When is the last time your child made you angry?
I have a son who is two, and we have moved into the stage of life where he is getting his own opinions. If you have been a parent for any amount of time you probably can empathize with me. That moment when your child goes from a smiling baby, to a toddler who is starting to understand more about the world. We have been blessed with such a happy and well-behaved boy. However, there are sometimes like every other child that he does not want to corporate.
When They Say No
A lot of times my anger towards him when he is being difficult is way more about me then it is about him. He is not doing what I wanted right then (This is not saying that we do not make our children do things they don’t want us to do. I am saying that when they rebel, what is my response, and why). Matthew 7:3-5 says, “ 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”. Now once again I am not saying that we are not supposed to lead our children. What I am saying is for me a lot of times when I am getting frustrated at my son it is in result of my sin. I let my anger get the best of me and it makes it harder for me to be the Christ like example I am called to be. If I am getting on to my son for not being respectful, but I do so in a very disrespectful way, what is he learning?
You Might be reading this and think, ok… what is your point? My point is, from my very limited sample size as a parent, it is very easy to get frustrated and when I do I am become the opposite of what I want my child to emulate. So what do we do when are kids are not doing what they have been taught. For me I came up with 3 things.
Prepare: With anything you have to prepare properly in order to have success. We as parents need to be in the Bible daily connecting to God. If we want are children to act like Christ they have to see it from somewhere. There are going to be days where your son or daughter is doing all the wrong things, and if you have not set and thought about how to handle this. You are likely to handle it out of anger or frustration. However, if we take moment out of our day and read the word, and think about our children, and talk to them to get to know them better. When a situation presents itself, we then are better prepared.
Pray: This second one goes hand in hand with the first. We as parents need to be praying for our children. Every day we should be lifting them up. I can not tell you what to pray for, but I can tell you that it is important to pray for the. You also need to pray for yourself. We have to constantly ask God to fill us with strength and patience. Our children will try and test us, but we are called to be the example, we are called to be like Christ.
Patience: As parents we are teachers. Our children will not always get it right, but we have to be patient with them as they learn. This does not mean we are soft and let them walk all over us, but we are patient. I think I take for granted sometimes that the things I know I learned from somewhere. In the same way before I get frustrated at my child doing things the wrong way. I need to remember that my parents were here at some point teaching me what right looks like. We as parents are called to walk this life with our children holding their hand and showing them what could trip them up.
Our children our learning and growing every day, but they are not perfect. They are going to mess up, but the question as a parent is how do we handle it? We can get mad or frustrated, or we can patiently teach them what it means to be a Christlike man or woman for the rest of their lives.
Does God want us to be happy?
I am watching a video that my mom sent me of my son when he was a baby. She is hitting the ground, and he is just laughing up a storm. He is giggling and smiling, and it just filled my heart with Joy. This got me thinking about how our heavenly Father delights in our joy. He wants us to see us smiling and laughing.
However, there is a difference between us being filled with joy and filled with happiness. We live in a culture that screams, “do what makes you happy”. We are told by movies, and the radio that if you think that something will make you happy, you cannot let anything stand in your way. The problem is happiness is momentary, it is fleeting. When my son is laughing uncontrollably when my mom is hitting the floor, but for how long? In my experience, when my mom stopped hitting the floor he usually stopped laughing. This is how happiness seems to work there are a lot of ”things” that can make you happy, but how do you feel when that thing is taken. The world would say you just need to find a bigger and better thing.
The Bible tells a different tale. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”. When asked if God wants us to be happy, I think the question is focused on the wrong thing. God wants us to be filled with joy. Joy is something that is eternal, because it is not brought about by something, but someone. We find joy in our relationship with God. The verse above says, that we find our peace in our belief in Christ. This world is falling apart, but so many are looking things to make themselves happy, rather then growing closer to God. When we are close to God we think less in temporal happiness, and more in eternal joy.
So now what? I hope this week you can spend more time focused on the things of God, and the joy he provides. I hope you can spend less time chasing the things the world says will make you happy. When we chase happiness, we are like the dog chasing a car, what do you do when you catch it?