For as long as I’ve been in church, I’ve known that sexual sin is a guy’s struggle. Lust, sexual fantasies, pornography, masturbation. These were all things common to man, not common to woman. So what was I to do when my mom’s Victoria’s Secret catalog arrived, and I secretly ogled over the pictures wishing I looked like those women? Or when I replayed intimate and sexual scenes from Titanic in my head? Or when I discovered certain parts of my body felt great when touched in a certain way? A Christian girl ought not to deal with such things.
But the truth is lust is a temptation common to humanity, not just men. Lust is a desire for something that isn’t yours to have. And plenty of women, myself included, have lusted for the pursuit and intimacy of a husband way before it was ours to have.
As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1-2
Suffering produces an insatiable desire to blame. Surely there must be some reason why this poor man must suffer all his life without sight. We hunger and thirst for some impetus for it all.
Why are we so bent on finding fault? Partly because we hope to prevent future suffering by finding the cause. Just like you may avoid spicy food if it once gave you heartburn. Partly because if the sufferer is to blame, we can accept the hardship as a legitimate recompense to sin: “She deserved that,” or “I had it coming.” If someone else is to blame, we at least have someone to take our anger out on.
So how does Jesus answer the disciples inquiry about the cause of the blind man’s life of suffering?
Jesus doesn’t tell us of a world of needless suffering. There is a reason, but it is one that we have had no category for at all: suffering for the sake of the glory of God.
Is God important enough to us that we’ll do whatever it takes to hear Him? In 1 Kings 19, God revealed Himself to Elijah not in an earthquake or fire but in a “low whisper” (v. 12). How can we hear this gentle whisper of God unless we quiet the noise of our lives? To have a listening prayer life, we need to learn to wait in silence on God.
Can you be thankful for your failures? Does it have any beneficial place in the life of the Christian?
My self-love was like a film over the eyes of my heart. I could see God, but the glimpses of Him were somewhat cloudy. Failure is the solution disolving the residue of pride. With each removal of pride comes a crisper view of the glory of God.
Though I never had an outwardly needy friendship, the weeds of codependency were still popping up in my life, just in a different form.
I needed her to be ok with me. I needed her approval and her acceptance. I needed her more than I loved her. This is the essence of codependency: driven by our own needs we become unable to truly love other people. My neediness was near impossible to see because it manifested by keeping her at arms-length. I perceived myself not to be needy, but to be perfectly content without her in my life.
Growing up as a church kid, repentance wasn’t a good thing. It was like flu medication. If you got the flu, of course, it was commendable to take the medication. But even better than that was not getting sick. Avoiding sin was better than needing to repent. Goody-two-shoes that I was, this was great news. I was pretty good at obedience, at following the rule book. But sometime during those church-going years, I got a glimpse of God in His Word: His character, His beauty, His holiness. Rule-following was no longer appealing. Knowing Him was.
Before the moving truck arrived at our house in Dallas, I had already been asking God to provide at least 1 friend who would want to study the Bible with me. I knew that thriving in a new city meant finding a community who would join me in exalting Jesus together in the Word.
Jesus is a kill-joy. That’s right, the “happy God” (1 Tim. 1:11 ) of our salvation, who gives life to the full, intends for you not to be happy. Not to be happy, that is, in anything less than the best things.
Jesus is shocking in the way He exposes counterfeit happiness. In fact, His whole ministry turns our understanding of joy, satisfaction, and success upside down. The inaugural words of His first sermon are startling: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3, emphasis added).
At the first snow of manna in Exodus 16, God introduces His people to a Sabbath day. Two-and-a-half months after leaving their former slave drivers, God’s people hear an odd command from their new Master—rest.
Though we might not be slaves, our present culture prizes productivity so highly that taking a day off also sounds absurd. “Maybe God meant take a rest from my normal work and do a different kind of work. I can’t just waste time.”
To be honest, this is exactly how I think. If making to-do lists was a viable hobby, it would be mine. I treat productivity like a sport, seeing if I can beat my previous record of tasks completed in one day. Sad but true.
Do you feel distant from God? Do you feel at odds with Him? Do you desire to draw closer to Him? There is one mediator between you and God. It’s not your favorite author. It’s not a book or Bible study. It’s not your pastor, your counselor, your friend, or your parents. For there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. Your pastor or friend or favorite blogger have not given themselves as a ransom for you. Only One person has done that… the man Jesus Christ.
Do you have loved ones who are far from God and hope to see them reconciled to Him? Does it seem like it’s all up to you? Like you’re the only one in their life speaking truth and pushing them to God? Remember, there is one mediator between God and men, and it’s not you. You have no power to reconcile others to God. The best you can do is point to the man Jesus Christ who gave Himself as a ransom for all.
Continual worship of God is in the art of noticing.
While laying on a picnic blanket with my daughters there are 2 things vying for my attention: the blue sky, littered with cotton candy clouds and laced by the silhouette of the tree we lay under or the latest stream of photos from my friends in instagram. One is a beauty that I have seen before. It’s nothing new. The other boasts of pictures and comment conversations that are unknown to me. The new and undiscovered often presents the stronger pull in the moment. The fear of “missing out” seems to endanger my joy.
Repentance is the act of agreeing with God about our sin, turning from it and rejoicing in what God has done for us in Jesus. Most of our repentance is reactive. We repent primarily for the sins that are staring us in the face or the ones that others point out. And honestly, even then, sometimes we delay dealing with our sin.
But what if we weren’t just reactive in dealing with our sin, but proactive? This is a trait we see in many of the godly men and women of the Bible: Josiah (2 Chron. 34), Daniel (Dan 9), and David (Psalm 139:23-24) to name a few.
The truth is, our sin is so vile, so wicked, so wretched, so full of anti-God-self-love, that God’s forgiveness of us at the expense of His One and Only Beloved Son should put us into a state of utter shock and disbelief. But if you don’t think your sin is that bad, then God’s grace toward you won’t be that good. And I think this is where other good things (like marriage) creep in and start to look a little more appealing than a right relationship with God.
If you are not shocked that God has offered you a right relationship with Him, then you likely don’t think you’re a very bad sinner. Does the above description of sin sound extreme to you? Then you likely have too low a view of your sin. Or you have excused your sin because of circumstances or by comparing yourself to others. And so long as knowing God is not that impressive to you, you’ll always be looking to something else for deep and abiding joy.
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