Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sin... And it's mortification

I've had some good dialogue with some great friends on my previous post on Tiger Woods and sin.

And although I believe that the main premise is true... I want to say that in making an absolute statement I may have neglected a bit of the nuanced aspects when talking about sin, and sanctification and faith in Jesus. I get that.

However, I believe that the main point was still accurate... that we always act according to our true values/beliefs or... put another way, our actions affirm or betray our stated values.

Part of this is recognizing what Paul says in Romans 7 (A friend brought up this passage in reference to my last post) "I do what I don't want to do and what I want to do I don't do." (I'm paraphrasing... the NJV... New Jake Version)

That really makes the point for me. Even though Paul is saved and the work needed to atone for all his sin is complete. AND he is being sanctified as he is growing in maturity in Christ... he still recognizes that his sinful heart chooses sin and it baffles him.

In some instances even Paul values sin MORE than he values Christ. Now, He can still value Christ and strive to live a humble, obedient, and moral life... and he should... as we all should, but he recognizes the death-grip that the flesh has on him and so he, once-again, throws himself at the mercy of God in Christ to continue to kill the flesh that seeks to destroy him.

As we must do.

The whole point about Tiger was this... the issue isn't a mistake or a lapse in judgement... it was a choice. And the choice I am speaking of is not one of many acts of indiscretion... the choice was something OTHER that God's way... sin. It is a deep core issue long before it moves us to some kind of action in our behavior...

I am thankful for the mercy of God in the Gospel that rescued me and rescues me every day.

That is why I pray for Tiger Woods and others who are trapped in sin... there are great strides to take to get life "back on track" but the first (and MOST IMPORTANT) step to take is the one turn around called repentance where mercy is found at the foot of the Cross... where we trade the ashes of this life in for beauty and wear forgiveness like a crown on our heads... and where we find new life that frees us from the curse of sin while we wage war against it by repentance.

Sometimes the old dead guys are the most challenging to read (partially because of their language and mostly because of the content. There is a short book called "The Mortification of Sin" by John Owen. It hits the nail on the head pretty good. You can find an online copy of it HERE.

When you are looking at the manger this Christmas know that forgiveness comes through those once small hands of a child in a feed-box, who grew as a man, tempted as you and I and yet was without sin. Walked the road to Calvary and took the punishment of God's wrath that you and I deserve for our sin on himself that he might be our propitiation... then rise again to new life that we might share in that inheritance as adopted sons and daughters.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the nature of humanity... and Tiger Woods

Not that anyone cares... in fact this might seem like “too little, too late” to the field of pundits, commentators, and reporters who have been talking and writing, seemingly non-stop about Tiger Woods and his many indiscretions over the past couple of weeks. Adding my two cents might be just more stuff that NOBODY WANTS TO READ about a story that is getting very old, very fast to the average, everyday person.

However, The nagging in my head and heart is this... how do we sift through all the sensationalism and 24-hour reporting to work toward a Biblical and Gospel-centered response to the whole situation.

I think there are three things I want to state before you read bits and pieces of this and get the wrong idea. (we are typically very bad with context in our culture)

1 - Tiger Woods made deliberate choices to have multiple illicit sexual relationships with women other than his wife... that is bad. Adultery against one’s spouse is, in Biblical light, is a sin. Plain and simple.

2 - As much as Tiger says that He was not being “true to his values”... i don’t believe that to be a true statement. I don’t think Tiger is intentionally mis-leading... but I would argue that everyone always acts in accordance with their values and is unable to act out-of-line with those values. (more on that in a moment)

3 - Either way, Tiger, like the rest of us, stands condemned under sin and in need of a Savior. I have been moved to pray for his realization of his need for a savior and that he would find salvation in Jesus. Because ultimately, full redemption is found only in Christ’s finished and complete work on the cross.


Point #1 - Sin is sin... but we know that... at least most of us are willing to take a stand on that and agree that there is a level of wrong-ness to Tiger’s actions. I’ll leave that for another post.

Point #2 is where I want to spend most of the rest of this post.

This whole thought began in my head after reading Tiger Woods’ first statement posted on his website...

I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect.”

He says, “I have not been true to my values...” and many of us read that and say “yeah... you should be better.”

To that I would say, “No, Tiger. You are being EXACTLY & wholeheartedly true to your values.”

I would argue that it is impossible for us to NOT act in accordance to our values. Our actions & behavior might not line up with our stated values but, let me say it this way... our actions ALWAYS line-up perfectly with what we TRUELY value... what we really believe deep in our hearts.

This does not excuse the wrong-ness of his actions... The Bible is clear about sin but, in reality, he is choosing his actions based on what is true in his heart... we all do it. We are unable to choose something and act in a way that is dissonant with our values.

We CONSISTENTLY act in contrast to our stated values. But we always act in accordance with what we really believe. One needs only to look at the the stories in the past 2-3 years of pastors & politicians who have committed adultery, admitted to drug-use, and lied to cover their tracks. Their public value statement is one of morality, and faithfulness but they really believed it was ok to do what they were doing. They were acting in a way consistent with their true values.

You see... the problem in all this isn’t the actions themselves. Again, this is not to minimize sin. I stand every day before the throne of God broken and needing repentance for the wickedness of my heart which leads to wicked action... but the action isn’t the main problem... it is a symptom of believing that something else is better, or more satisfying, or more saving, or more anything than Jesus.

If I say that I believe that God is omni-present... that He is always with me... that I am never alone... and yet I step into sin by choosing a dishonest business deal, or choosing to fill my eyes and mind with airbrushed images, or choosing to destroy myself with an overuse of chemicals or hurt myself with sharp objects says that although I SAY I believe that God is always present i do not really believe that is true. If I did I would chose behaviors and act in accordance with my values... what I believe.

So we come to this... I believe Tiger acted right in-line with what he truly believes. Which points to the issue that is greater than his transgressions... His need to have his heart transformed so that he might be able to believe and TRULY value what we all SAY that we value.

2 Chronicles 6:36

Isaiah 53:6

Romans 3:23

These verses remind us that none of us is free from this problem... we struggle under this weight without victory...

However, our hope to believe God comes in Christ. Only Christ brings transformation that changes our hearts. We can’t manufacture it. We put up morality police to deal with our heart issues. Oh yes, morality police and structures of “do and don’t” will point out our sin (and that isn’t bad to point out sin when it is seen) but it won’t deal with our issue... that we will always act in accordance with what we Truly Value and without Jesus we will always choose sin. We need a savior.

Matthew 19:26 - But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

I pray for Tiger Woods. That God would be merciful and grant his marriage restoration. They he would be repentant and seek true forgiveness from his wife and kids. I pray they his wife Elin would be soft in heart and find forgiveness in Jesus and, in Him, find forgiveness for her husband. And I am thankful for the wisdom to take a break from Golf to deal with his real life for a while... I pray He doesn’t try to fix the problem... but surrender to the creator who, from before time began, purposed to fix the problem and began the plan of redemption in the Son [Jesus], that we might be rescued from our false-belief and un-belief and, by the power of the Holy Spirit... see our terrible state and believe on Jesus.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When random meets reality...

"You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks (post 'Big') & Meg Ryan (pre lip enhancement) is one of my wife's favorite movies. I enjoy it enough to watch it with her (although I think it was contrived as a piggy-backing, quick money maker following the main actor's on-screen chemistry from "'Sleepless In Seattle")...

However there is a quote from the movie that struck me as particularly funny... And particularly accurate.
Please excuse the use of the word 'hell'... Although sometimes offensive, I find that, in this case it makes the line all the more funny when delivered.

I'd love to hear if you also see the truth in the statement...

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino." (Tom Hanks as Joe Fox in "You've Got Mail")

River City Church

River City Church from River City Church on Vimeo.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Matt Chandler - Must See!

Hey - Just saw this short video today.
Matt Chandler (Pastor of the Village Church in TX) recorded this message to his congregation before his surgery this past Friday. It was played yesterday (Sunday) for the church and was put online today.

I was moved, challenged, convicted,m and encouraged by what I heard. Give it a listen. I'd love to hear what you think...

For Him,


Watch it HERE