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A Steaming Pile of …… Sin

steaming pile of sin

 

I have a dumb dog. Maybe you can relate. I just

found her hiding in a corner of the back yard with a look of guilt and shame on her face. “Great – what have you gotten into this time” is the thought that races through my head as I go to investigate. Is it one of the boys’ socks that now has to be purged from your stomach? Or some plastic toy that’s been chewed to bits? Or a dead bird that’s been played with and torn apart?

No. It’s actually not that bad this time. In fact, it’s pretty harmless. It’s the remnant of a toilet paper tube that must have fallen out of the recycle bin in the back yard. Yes, she ate most of it, but I really don’t care. No need to induce vomiting, and no destruction of property involved unless you count the loss of potential recyclable material. But if she could talk, I’m sure she’d argue her form of recycling / biodegradation is more environmentally friendly. Whatever.

The beauty of this encounter is that it allowed me to reflect on my own sinfulness. Yes, you read that right – my sin. And no, my sin doesn’t include chewing up toilet paper tubes or swallowing socks (oh, that it were that mundane…..)

But I don’t want to cloud the discussion with my particular sin, because I don’t think it really matters for this discussion. In fact I think it applies to any sin that we try to hide from others, and even try to hide from God.

Do you see it yet? See yourself hiding in a dark corner hoping no one will catch you. Knowing all along it’s not good for you. Or at least knowing that your master has told you (over and over and over again….) NOT to do it. But you do it anyway. And you don’t really know why.

It, of course, is YOUR SIN. And your sin is far more destructive to you than chewing up a toilet paper tube, or even having to have your stomach purged of the sock you couldn’t keep yourself from eating.

Allow me another, albeit more disgusting, illustration. My dog also eats poop. This is, I think, a more accurate metaphor for sin. To us humans, this is a disgusting, stomach churning habit that infuriates us. How does she actually find that appealing?! But my dog keeps doing it anyway, no matter how many times I yell at her and chase her around the yard. The temptation appears too much for her to resist on her own. The only way I can stop her is to remove the source of her temptation.

Now I recognize this illustration starts to break down at this point, but I think it’s still a helpful way to see our sin as God see’s it. Completely unhealthy, destructive, and unnecessary.

Try thinking of your sin as a pile of poop in the backyard the next time you’re tempted.

And don’t be a dumb dog.

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Three Lies We Use Not to Be in Community

The Lies We Use

“God did not bring you to this point of life to make you His first orphan.” – Wes Yoder

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about three reasons from Ecclesiastes that we need to be in community with other men. This week I’m going to dissect some of the lies we tell ourselves and others to not join that community. I’m going to tell you straight off this one is not going to be easy to read. It is going to be convicting. I’m going to call bull on your arguments for why you’ve been going it alone. And before you start saying “judge not” and “it’s easy for you to say”, I’ve given all of these excuses too. I’m right with you brother. I need a dose of reality too because, as of this writing, I’m not in a close community of men either.

 Lie 1 – I’m Too Busy

The most frequently given answer to “How are you doing?” (aside from “Good”) is “Busy”. Busy is an answer we use to give an impression of importance, to justify our lack of self control over our schedules, or to avoid having to say no to something else. But, we’re not too busy. We make time for what’s important. How much TV do you watch? How much time do you spend on Facebook ? Don’t get me wrong, there are seasons of busyness in life. What I’m calling out is a lifestyle of chronic busyness.

 There is no such thing as time management; there is only self-management. – Rory Vaden

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.” The truth is life is short. We’ve not been guaranteed another minute. Want to be a better father? Husband? Want to grow in your relationship with Christ? Those can not be done in isolation. Put your time where your heart is. Stop lying that you’re too busy. You’re not.

 Lie 2 – I Don’t Need To

You may honestly believe this. But the easiest person to lie to is yourself. We were designed to live in community. We are at our best when others are looking out for us and we are looking out for others. How many healthy (mentally, spiritually) loners do you know?

Men, we’ve got it tough. Think of the roles you have in life. Father, husband, home IT support, mechanic, domestic groundskeeper, domicile maintenance, counselor, mentor, friend, neighbor. It’s a ton! Don’t make it harder on yourself by thinking you can do it all alone. Still not convinced? You’ve been given experiences, skills, and talents that need to be shared with other men. Stop robbing the rest of us of that help by living in community.

 Lie 3 – Only The Weak Do Stuff Like This

The reality is that real weakness is hiding our “weaknesses”. You are truly weak if you believe this lie. Pride in turning down help is weakness. True strength is being humble enough to accept that you might have it wrong. True strength is trying out something scary, doing things that you don’t “like” to do but “need” to do.

We all know that we’re not perfect. We all know that the rest of us aren’t as strong as we make out to be. We’re not hiding anything. And when it comes down to it, we are all weak in comparison with the only truly strong man to have lived, Jesus.

 What’s Next?

Society tells us we don’t need community. We tell ourselves that we don’t need it. But we’ve been given a model in Jesus that community is where we need to be. When He started his ministry on earth, he gathered around him 12 “brothers”. He mentored them, taught them, and they were there for each other. In the dark days they were there for each other. In the celebrations they were together.

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another

Hebrews 10:25 NIV

 

Next time we’ll look at what makes up a community of men.

 

Are any of these lies valid excuses? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Stay Sharp!

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On Being a Contrarian

two paths

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

 

From outside appearances my life is very common, but it’s not because my thinking is. I find great joy in challenging the status quo, even though those epic battles rarely leave the space between my ears. In fact I have so much disdain for the routine that how and when I brush my teeth each morning is completely random. I am a rebel! CARPE DIEM!

The truth is I don’t do this often enough but I should. I revel in not doing the things I am told I should be doing. I take great satisfaction in the daily bombardment of fast food advertising, knowing full well that I will never eat any of that garbage. Billions of advertising dollars? Wasted on me! I rule you!

And in my stronger moments when the culture tells me that sex sells and women are objects to be exploited I am able to stand up with resolve, appreciate God’s beauty in all things and say with confidence that my standard of beauty is found in my wife.

Those are my stronger moments. But oh how often I fail. Paul’s words ring in my ears frequently and I think, “What a wretched man I am!”

It is easy for me to analyze my many failures and try to re-engineer them. If only I did this differently. Next time I should avoid that and things will turn out better. I must be stronger and work harder if I want improved outcomes.

Of course these are lies that ultimately lead to no change, no improvement, no salvation. I cannot do it alone.

“’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zec 4:6)

I no more have the strength to take on the world than I have the power to create it. I must rely on the power of the Creator of the Universe. He seeks relationship with me, and for some reason I resist that. And that is when I fail.

Which is why I find so much joy when I don’t do what I should do, or when I do those things I should not do. It is in those moments that I feel the presence of the Lord guiding me. Oh what joy to be a contrarian!

You can learn from my mistakes or you can learn from your own, but I hope you will join me in experiencing the tremendous satisfaction that comes from witnessing God’s amazing power. When life gives you trouble, as it surely will, try the following:

  • Humble yourself and admit that you do not have the strength to win this battle. Acknowledge on bended knee that God has succeeded where you could not.
  • Pray for His strength and power to carry you.
  • Listen and be attentive. What is asked of you may be difficult and it will certainly be challenging. Doing the right thing is rarely easy in this world.
  • Prepare to be filled with the joy that knows no bounds.
  • Don’t keep it to yourselves. God wants you to succeed so that others may experience His love and mercy.

I look forward to an amazing journey with you all!

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