Month: October 2019

A Do-Over

2 Corinthians 5:16-20
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Written by: Ian Rock

For writers, one of the biggest technological breakthroughs came with the invention and distribution of the personal computer. Writing things by hand was the only method since the beginning and when a mistake was made, there was no simple way of completely erasing it. Whether things were blotted out, written over, or erased—even the tiniest smudge marks were the clear indication that there was a mistake along the way. Computers gave us the opportunity to click a few buttons and completely erase any remnant of our mess up. They gave us the chance for a “do-over.”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could have a do-over in every area of our life when we wanted it? The impulse buys, mornings we hit the snooze button too many times, moments we go for the fried chicken over the salad—they could all be erased with a simple snap of the fingers. It would be awesome!

There are some other things, like deeper hurts, failures in relationships, patterns of destructive behavior, that if we could, we’d call for a do-over. The reality is, what’s done is done. We all miss the mark at some point, but that doesn’t have to be the end of our story.

This passage in 2 Corinthians 5 gives us hope. For those of us who follow Jesus, He gives us the opportunity to call for a do-over. It tells us that the person you or I were before following Jesus and the person that you or I are after saying “Yes!” are two completely different people. By no means does that mean we instantly become perfect people, but we aren’t defined by what we’ve done and achieved.

The single most important thing about you or me is that God loves us and made a way for us. His love doesn’t waver in spite of what we’ve done.

Because of that, we each have a purpose. Verses 18-20 talk about the fact that all followers of Jesus are ministers and ambassadors. Because of the grace that we’ve been shown, and the new life we’ve been given, we now get to be lights in our homes, workplaces, and communities.

Talk about a do-over! In an instant, we can go from the guilt and shame from the weight of our failures to a new life with a rich purpose.

104Thought of the day: If you find yourself bound to the life you once lived and carry the shame from your past mistakes, know that there is a God that loves you enough that he wants to give you a do-over. When we couldn’t do enough to work our way to Him, He came to us. There’s freedom in that.

Prayer: God, thank You for the second chance you gave me and the grace You show me every day. Thank You for taking my life and giving me a purpose. Reveal the areas of my life I still hold on to shame and allow me to find freedom from those areas. As I interact with my family, friends, and peers, allow the joy of what You’ve done in my life to be contagious to those around me.

An Invitation to Relationship

John 8:10-11
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Written by: James Washburn

She was caught red-handed! A woman commonly known in the Bible as the “adulterous woman” was caught in an act of adultery. She was dragged before a crowd—humiliated, naked, and exposed. Can you see the scene? A massive crowd is surrounding her as she lays on the ground with stones in hand to throw at her with the intent to kill her. Isn’t this what she deserved? Judgment. Condemnation. Death. Jesus completely turns the situation on its head by refusing to condemn her and extending unexpected, undeserved grace.

The amazing part of this story is Jesus’ ability to give grace to someone caught in sexual sin to whom no one else wanted to give grace. People tend to lean to the extreme when it comes to judgment. I’m sure you can relate, whether you have been on the giving or receiving end of judgment.

Sexual sin brings immense guilt. So many feel unworthy of God’s grace and forgiveness. They feel like God has a clipboard in Heaven keeping track of all of their sins. Here is the great news: That is far from the truth.

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” You are not looked down upon by God. Yes, He hates sin. However, but He desires an intimate relationship with you more than anything. He wants a relationship with YOU. Jesus is saying to you today through the power of the Holy Spirit, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” He is inviting you into a grace-filled relationship, regardless of what you struggle with. 

103Thought of the day: Are you struggling to accept God’s forgiveness for present or past failures? What failures can you surrender to God through prayer today? If you are reading this and feel hopeless in this area, consider attending Celebrate Recovery  and allowing brothers and sisters to come along side you.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for loving me and giving me grace in my struggles. Please help me to accept Your forgiveness and grace every day as I strengthen my relationship with You. I will live in the freedom You provide through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Culture Creep

Genesis 19:5
Two angels, in the form of men, were sent to warn Lot. Lot was chosen as a righteous man. They came to warn him of the upcoming destruction and to take his family out of the city.  While these guests were in his home, the men of the town surrounded the house demanding Lot turn over his guests so they could “have their way” with them. 

Written by: Kyle Stanforth

Sometimes the world around us changes us in ways we don’t even notice. There are times it draws us closer to a relationship with God and other times it may pull us further away. Let’s look at the story of Lot in the Bible. While this story has a lot (no pun intended) of interesting facets, let’s look at how he handled a particular conflict.

At the point of the passage above, Lot went out and tried to make a deal with the mob. In this moment, he offered his two virgin daughters for the men to “do what you want with.”  While this part of the story is no doubt raw, evil, offensive, and mind boggling, we have to trust this is recorded in the Bible for us to learn from. How did Lot think offering his two virgin daughters to a mob of men was a good idea? Lot, at least in the moment, must have thought he was doing the “right” thing.

Lot was Abraham’s nephew and was not from Sodom originally. When he arrived in Sodom, he was likely offended at the perverted culture he was now in the midst of. But, over time, the culture crept in. Today, like in Sodom, we live in a very sexualized culture where “anything goes.” Things that would have made our grandparents blush are commonplace and we don’t even notice. It can be easy to feel superior to the sin all around us. However, that aides in blinding us to the sin in our own lives and how culture has crept in and affected our decisions, values, and behaviors.

102Thought of the day: Here are three things to remember:
1. We are all broken.
2. We live among broken people.
3. Jesus died for our sins.

Prayer: God, thank You for Your grace. While I live in a crazy and upside-down world, I am still a part of it. And yet You love me right where I am. Give me the strength and wisdom to recognize the sin that has crept into my life due to cultural influences. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Toe the Line of Temptation

Genesis 39

Written by: Courtney Flocken

Joseph was ready to run as he quickly and decisively fled from Potiphar’s wife. He knew exactly what he would do in the face of temptation. In spite of the heartbreaking lows of his life, Joseph was strong in his choice to honor God. Joseph knew sexual offense against God, Potiphar, and his own body would spread like a cancer within him.

Bobby’s mom shared with me how at 15 years old her son remained far from toeing the line through a seemingly small choice to “run.” He quickly learned the power of social media and that it can quickly and unapologetically pull you further than you intended. Bobby was steadfast in his purity but found not everything set him up for success. With wise parental counsel and a countercultural view of “cool,” he deleted Safari, Instagram, and other social media from his phone. There is wisdom in boundaries that allow room to breathe. If his boundary was toeing the line, the risk lies in crossing a boundary you never set out to cross. Like Joseph, Bobby recognized boundaries aren’t to be determined in the face of temptation, but rather set in place to guide him in the face of temptation.

Genesis 39 shows us that wisdom lives in healthy boundaries that are far away from temptations. “One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside.” (Genesis 39:11)

Joseph didn’t know there wasn’t anyone inside until after he entered. But he recognized the huge red flag of being alone with Potiphar’s wife, who wanted to sleep with him. Joseph was prepared in the face of temptation how he would respond: run! We often go through life responding to situations without a plan to succeed in our lives, marriages, and sexuality.

It will cost us something to have healthy boundaries, but it will also cost us something to not have boundaries and toe the line of temptation. Having boundaries cost Joseph something: unjust prison time. But not having predetermined boundaries would have cost him more.

101Thought of the day: In which area of your life, marriage, or sexuality can you establish stronger boundaries that allow breathing room to keep you far from toeing the line of temptation? If you are reading this and feel hopeless in this area, consider attending Celebrate Recovery  and allowing brothers and sisters to come along side you.

Prayer: God, thank You for today. Please increase my wisdom in areas to surrender to Your power to establish strong boundaries that help me create margin and lead away from temptation. In Jesus’ name, amen.