When Your Life Bumps Into Sin

bumper cars

Bumper cars are one of the carnival rides at Dollywood’s amusement park near us.  The fun of the ride is doing exactly what its name says – bumping – into another car, into the walls and the poles around the structure.  The cars are equipped with soft bumpers so the “crashes” don’t hurt you or anything you hit (Wouldn’t that be helpful at those drive-in’s where scratches and bumps are inevitable?!). Anyway…

It’s fun to go in with a group and get an eye on your target car and head for them as quickly as that little electronic car will let you travel.  Their car goes reeling and you speed off, laughing that you got the first “hit!”

That fun scene isn’t so pleasant when the “bumping” happens when your life crashes into a situation that is sinful.  I recently had an alarming experience when I slammed right into a lifestyle that is not only different from anything I’ve ever been close to, but one that the Bible renounces.  I didn’t know how to respond.  I was blown away.  I was burdened for those involved.  And honestly, I felt offended by the bruise it gave my soul.

For days I could not shake the disturbance this scene caused.  I prayed about it.  I pondered my response, and then I turned to God’s Word and dug in, looking for what God wanted me to learn.  If I wanted to know how believers are to respond when their life bumps into sinful situations, I needed to be reminded of how Jesus responded.  I turned to John, Chapters 2 and 4.

In John 2 we find Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers in the Temple.

In John 4 Jesus meets the Woman at the well – the lady who had been married multiple times, and was now living with a man to whom she was not married.

The way He responded to the sins of both of these people taught me how He expects me to respond as well.

When my life bumps into sinners ~

  1. Consider the location
    • At church – Sin shouldn’t be practiced in this place.  The money-changer was selling in the Temple, the place where worship and the teaching of God’s Word was to occur.
    • In the world – We should expect it!  There’s no reason to be surprised by sin here; these dear people don’t know the Redeemer (yet!).
  2. Consider the person
    • Money-Changers sold for a religious occasion out of a greedy heart.  They were making merchandise of this Holy custom.
    • The Samaritan woman married five times to fill a void in her life.  She knew no better!
  3. Consider the need
    • The Money-Changers were making a living by abusing the Passover.
    • The Samaritan Woman lived this way due to her sinful nature.  She didn’t know better (yet!).

Application for you and me:

  • Sin is never to be overlooked, ignored or tolerated.  That sin that I bumped into was in the world, a place where I shouldn’t be surprised at seeing it, but that doesn’t mean I can accept it – it’s still an offence against a holy God.
  • Sin should be answered through the Scripture.  We mustn’t  argue or debate the truth – we share it with the love that Christ showed the Samaritan Woman.  We engage in the sinner’s life and ask good questions that will give us the opportunity to give God’s Word as the answer their hungry hearts are seeking.
  • Sinners should be introduced to Jesus – John 4:29
  • Share and live the Truth, then allow sinners to make up their own mind – to turn to Jesus or not. John 4:42
  • My response – 
    • In the world:
      • Love the sinner
      • Point to Jesus
      • Live out the life of a believer
      • Go my way looking for other sinners.
    • In the church:
      • Remember your own sin first!   If it were not for God’s grace, we, too, could be overcome with sin.
      • With a humble heart, point out the sin to those that claim Christ.
      • Use God’s Word, not my standard.
      • Ask questions.
      • Pray for change and then let the Holy Spirit do the convicting (we cannot change anyone).

Though I didn’t especially enjoy the bumper car experience when I banged up against sin in the world, I’m so thankful for what God taught me after the crash!  I pray that my response will be biblical, both in the world and in my church from here on out.

Oh, and if I ever see you across the arena of the Bumper Car course, look out!Image result for emoji images

 

Have you struggled with how to respond to blatant sin in the world?  How about at church?

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I Was The Reason Jesus Suffered

 

judgment-hall

About eight years ago, I got the call most citizens dread – Jury Duty.  Not only was I called in for my turn to serve, I happened to be called in to serve on the Grand Jury.  I wasn’t really sure what my responsibilities would be, but they definitely let us know when we reported in.

One item on our “To-Do” list was to tour the local prisons.  It was pretty creepy, to be honest. Being stared at by inmates wearing orange jumpsuits was a bit unnerving.  But I also realized that our jails are pretty “cushy” in comparison to years ago.  With basketball courts and televisions, I was surprised at what luxuries they really had.

When you visit the Holy Land and walk in the steps of Christ as He was on the way to Calvary to die for the sins of the world, you are shown the judgment halls where He was questioned and tried -nothing like the prison cells I visited!  Even these preliminary places were dismal and frightening.

After His trial, He was taken to Caiaphas’ house where there were cells underground.

No light.

Dampness.

Filth.

Cold.

Solitude.

Here He was beaten and left alone.  Matthew 25:56 reminds us that Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

While our group was down in this cell, we sang,

Man of sorrows what a name
for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

2 Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood,
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

3 Guilty, helpless, lost were we;
blameless Lamb of God was he,
sacrificed to set us free:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

4 He was lifted up to die;
“It is finished” was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

5 When he comes, our glorious King,
all his ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

To stand and try to sing that song through the emotion of all Christ did for us, was overwhelming, to say the least.  I watched as one man standing near me buried his face in his hands and wept, unashamedly.  I think we all did.  It was so much to take in that Christ endured THIS and much more for me – no, because of me!

I wiped my tears, and we headed out of that cold, damp cell.  I stepped up and out into…

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the beautiful, warm sunshine!  The picture above was my immediate view.  A rose.  I wept again.  I was going free.  I was in the warmth of sunshine.  I could see the beauty of this creation – His creation.  But Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, chose to suffer.  He chose to allow the soldiers to beat Him.  He chose to lay His life down so that I could be free.  Free from sin.  Free from death and hell.

What amazing love!  What a Savior!  How I praise His name.

I’ve shared this before, but I love this song that sums it all up so beautifully…

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Caiaphas’ House

It would all be for naught if we do not receive His sacrifice for our sins.  You must receive His free gift of salvation as the only means to have your sins forgive and to go to heaven.  He did it all. He died for you, my friend.  He loves you.  You, too, were the reason He suffered.

Have you trusted in Christ as your Savior?  When was the last time you really considered all He suffered on your behalf?  When was the last time you thanked Him, really thanked Him for dying on the cross for you?  You’re free if you know Christ; aren’t you GLAD?!

Rejoicing in my Savior,

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Family Friday – A Mom’s Greatest Privilege

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January is a busy birthday month for our family. Our son-in-law celebrated his a couple weeks ago. My husband’s is on the 22nd.  Today we celebrate my mom’s 80th!!   What a blessing she is with her love for the Lord, her family and her home.She has been a blessing to all that know her, and I am thankful to call her my mom!   Happy Birthday, Mom!

Our oldest daughter, Whitney celebrated a special birthday last week – it was her 28th spiritual birthday. When she was three and a half she trusted Christ as her Savior. You may be thinking, “Three and a half? How could a child that young understand how to be saved?” I don’t know how the Lord works in a sinner’s heart, but I know that He does.

From the moment she was born, we told her of God’s love, of Jesus dying on the cross, that sin was what we say or do that doesn’t please God, etc. One evening after she’d been listening to a Patch the Pirate tape about a little boy trusting Christ as his Savior, she told me she wanted to do that too. I wasn’t sure how much she understood, but after talking with her, I knew she wouldn’t be satisfied until she prayed. Her prayer was simple and sincere, trusting as a child can.

As she grew up I didn’t want to keep reminding her of her decision at that early age. If there was ever a doubt in her heart, I wanted her to feel free to make it sure. However, she never doubted what God did for her on that day!

Our responsibility and privilege as moms is to keep telling our children about the Lord, His love and Christ’s sacrifice for them in terms they can understand. We do it as Deuteronomy 6:4-7 admonishes us – while we sit, when we rise, when we lie down, when we get up. This means all through the day in the activities you find yourself doing, make it a natural part of your conversation to talk about the Lord.

Ask the Lord to help you make spiritual applications using the snow, bath bubbles, gardening – whatever you’re doing. It will be a natural conversation, not something that is forced, and when your child understands and is ready to receive Christ, it will probably be at one of those very informal times. When both of my girls trusted Christ, we were at home, doing things we do each day. The Lord may touch your child’s heart when they are at church, but your home can also be the sanctuary in which they are saved.

One year Whitney wrote me on her spiritual birthday and said,

“Thank you for introducing me to Jesus.”

I read that and wept, as I also do at this moment. Is there any privilege any greater than that? She and her sister are two treasures that by God’s grace I get to take to heaven with me! How sweet eternity will be!

To all you young moms – just keep telling the story. Tell it. Sing it. Share it. You may have another birthday at your house as a result!

How old were you when you got saved?

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I’m Going In!

Last week our church had VBS and the theme was Ocean Commotion, so obviously it was all about Noah.  All week long we sang songs about this Bible story and event in history.  We learned about sea creatures, and of course the flood, and how Noah and his family were the only ones who trusted and believed God.  They were the only ones who safely got in the ark because they believed God would do what He said!

On the last night of our Bible school, I had the privilege of talking with three children who had each received Christ during the week!  What a blessing to talk with them about their decision.  They were each sure they were now God’s child and on their way to heaven!

  • They understood they were a sinner
  • They knew Christ died for them
  • They accepted His death on the cross as payment for their sin
  • They repented and confessed their need for Christ and each had an assurance they were on their way to heaven!

I came home rejoicing!  Here were three more, who in essence said like Noah and his family, – “I’m going in!”  They made a choice!

The morning after the last day of VBS, I opened my Bible to the reading plan I’m going through and I read in Matthew 24:37-39 ~

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

God had something else to tell me about this account of judgment on the world.  As I read the verses above I realized that:

  • People were going on their way doing their normal things at the time of Noah’s warnings.
    • They were eating.
    • They were drinking.
  • People were ignoring his pleas and were planning special events like weddings.  That means there were young people brushing off the coming doom.
  • People were giving away their children in marriage.  That means there were old people scoffing at the warnings of Noah.

But there was a day that did come that awakened them to the truth, but it was then too late.  And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away.    Where did it take them?  To their death.  They had been warned, but ignored the warnings and now they were taken away.  Those wedding bouquets and decorations were now just a part of the accumulation of great devastation.  The meals so carefully prepared, pulled off the tables, out of the houses and into the current that swept everything away.  It took them all away.

Today we aren’t preaching about a worldwide flood to come; we have a promise that that  will never happen again.  We are, however, warning that Christ is coming soon, and we each need to be ready by simply accepting what those three precious children at VBS did last week.  You must walk through the One Door (Jesus Christ) to receive Christ as the penalty for your sin. Just as there was only one way into the ark, there is only One way to heaven, and it is Christ -not good works, baptism, church membership or being kind.  Christ did it all for us!

Have you trusted Christ as the only way to heaven?  Are you looking for His return with eager anticipation, or are you like the people in Noah’s day, going on your way planning all your life and events without even considering the coming judgment if you don’t receive Him?  Don’t be among those who will be “taken away” to eternal punishment in hell; accept the deliverance that Christ came to give you so you, too, can be safely inside!

Are you ready?

With love,

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Why Am I Not Seeing Growth In That Believer’s Life?

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That little blue card sitting by itself is more than a pretty little note card – it was probably one of the biggest blessings of my week last week!  Let me explain…

The day before the arrival of that card, I’d had an email exchange with a friend in another state about a woman who had received Christ as her Savior this fall, but since then she’s not really desiring to come to church to grow.  That news saddened my heart.

It also reminded me of another lady (and other people) who accept Christ, but then seem to fall away, or not really show fruits of their salvation.  My husband and I chatted about it, stating our heavy hearts at these kinds of situations.  “Did they really get saved?”  “What’s wrong?”

The next morning in my quiet time, I talked to the Lord about it.  I prayed for this dear lady to have a hunger for God’s Word and the fellowship of God’s people.  I didn’t know it then,  but my husband was also praying about this need in young believer’s lives.

Our mail comes fairly early in the day, so not long after praying my husband went out to check the box, and brought a note in to me.  I read the card…and I wept.  It was like getting a card of encouragement from God Himself with a hug tucked inside.  Here’s part of the note that blessed my heart so much:

I was wondering if you remembered a lady named, ______________.  She attended a ladies’ retreat at Boones Creek several years ago. I saw her today and she was speaking fondly of the retreat.  If you remember, you gave her the plan of salvation and she claimed to have accepted Christ, but later said she had always known the Lord, so we wondered if she ever actually got saved.  Today she said to me “After I got saved at church…” meaning the day of the retreat.

She attends a local Baptist church and is growing in the Lord.  I thought you would like to know.

Oh, was she ever right!  I did love finding out that this dear lady had indeed been saved, and was now growing faithfully!  It was God’s loving nudge to me, saying, “Keep planting the seed and leave the results with me.”

“Yes, Lord, I will.  You do all things well.  This is your  business.  Help me to just obey!”

Can I just encourage you to learn from my lesson?  Don’t get discouraged if someone you know has been saved but isn’t growing at the rate you’d like to see.  God will do the sanctifying, just as He did the saving.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 1:6

Keep sharing the Gospel and be refreshed as you refresh others!

 

Reaching Out or Resisting?

We were seated in our pew at church, this unsaved girl and me. As we sat there, I thought back to how we’d met just a few days before at a restaurant. My husband and I had joined friends for an evening refreshment. She was an employee who was working the dining area and we struck up a conversation with her. She told us of many mission trips she’d gone on and the life-changing events that they were to her. My husband then asked her our favorite question to learn a person’s spiritual condition; “Who is Jesus to you?” Her answer?  “I’m not a Christian. I think Jesus was a figment of people’s imagination, created to help them deal with morality.” We were all taken back a bit, to be honest, but were thankful for this young woman’s transparency. She wasn’t belligerent or hateful; just honest. Oh, the Scriptures that came to all of our hearts…

II Corinthians 4:4 
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 

I Corinthians 15:6
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 

It was late and the restaurant was ready to close, so we ended our conversation with an invitation to our church. How we all prayed for her through Saturday and Sunday morning!

Then, glory to God, she walked in the door for the Sunday school hour! I rejoiced as I watched our church family welcome her and bring her in. The Sunday school hour being ended, it was now that I’m brought back to her presence on the pew beside me.

This was the Sunday of the month that we would take of the Lord’s Supper. I’ve always loved this time to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for me. This Sunday, however, I was sharply aware of how great a gift my salvation truly is. As the communion bread was brought to my pew, the deacon lowered the plate for me, I took my piece. Then, not knowing her spiritual condition, he extended the plate past me to my visitor. From my peripheral view I watched her hands go up in refusal. It was the right response, because she’s not a believer, but my heart ached for her. She did not want any bread, but she was also saying so many other things when her hand went up. My heart truly hurt for her. 

“You don’t want Jesus as your Savior? You don’t want the free gift of salvation? You don’t want to be right with God? You don’t want Him to guide you all your life and make sense of all in this world that is senseless?”

It made me think of my own hands. Though so undeserving, when I reached out to the Lord, He took me in! He accepted me and forgave me and He died for me! As I took of the bread and then the cup, I was aware of my own unworthiness, but the huge gift that I’d received the day I opened my hands to Jesus. He was broken for me; He bled for me and in taking that symbol I was preaching the message that Jesus said we’d proclaim each time we “did this in remembrance of Him” – For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. I Cornthians 11:26

Dear friend, I pray you’ve reached your hands out to the Lord Jesus, but if you haven’t, He died for you and loved you before you were ever born. Don’t resist Him today. Reach out and accept His gift of salvation that He paid for with His very life.

With love,