Monthly Archives: August 2014

This Sin Stops With Me!

A spacecraft needs to travel at 25,000 MPH to break free from the gravitational pull of the earth. It takes a tremendous amount of thrust and energy to escape the forces that pull it back to the earth. There are times when family exerts gravitational forces to prevent us from breaking free of their orbit.

In the third episode of season three of the BBC television show, Sherlock, it is evident that Sherlock has not escaped from the gravitational pull of home. When Sherlock and his brother, Mycroft, are together, Mycroft still sees his younger brother as a stupid little boy. Both Mycroft and Sherlock hide their smoking when confronted by their mother. Neither has become independent from their mother’s values.

While the gravitational pull of family is difficult to break, the gravitational pull of the old sin nature can feel even stronger.

Several months ago, I was teaching a series on the Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. I became aware of a pattern of sin that was passed down from one generation to the next. It fits in with a statement in Exodus 20:5 that a father’s sin will impact succeeding generations.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

Break the cycle of generational sin 2

Maybe you can see a similar pattern in your family tree. Your grandfather was an alcoholic. So was your father. Now, you struggle with the bottle as well. Perhaps your family includes five generations of women who were pregnant before they turned 16 years old. Maybe the men in your family have been angry and abusive for several generations.

We knew one family whose favorite meal on Sunday afternoon was “Roast Pastor.” Over their Sunday afternoon meal, they would routinely criticize the sermon, the music, the Sunday School teacher’s tie, the weeds in the parking lot, the coffee, the visitor who sat in their pew, and everything else about church that morning. The parents did it, their adult children did it, and their grandchildren were picking up the habit as well.

“How do we break the cycle of generational sins?” How can we be like Joseph and say, “This sin stops with me!” After pondering that question and researching what others have said, I put together my own list of ideas.

The starting point is to take an honest look at our family in order to Identify our family’s sin pattern(s). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, sons graphically demonstrate a pattern of lies and deception. David and his son, Solomon, gave in to the temptations of women and sex. The generations of David, Solomon, and Rehoboam reveal pride, power, and pleasing self and others. I had to confess that my father was very passive and I have the same tendency. My mother was a worrier and I catastrophize and imagine the worst possible outcomes as well. Take an honest look at your family background, but remember that generational sins sometimes remain hidden through self-deception.

Once we identify the pattern, we then need to Confess our family’s sins and accept forgiveness for them. Nehemiah 1:6–7 and Daniel 9:5–6 provide an excellent example of men who confessed the sins of their ancestors before seeking God’s forgiveness and blessing. Confession alone is not enough, however. We also need to believe God’s promise that he will forgive us and our family (1 John 1:9).

The next step is to Forgive our father/mother for his/her shortcomings and any wounds he/she has given us. We need to grant our father/mother unconditional forgiveness.

Remember that the power of sin is broken through the cross (Romans 6:6-11). Because Christ has set us free, we can soar to new heights.

We also need to Practice true repentance. We need to change how we live. As Colossians 3:8-10 explains, we must replace our bad habits with holy ones.

Recognize that it takes hard work, patience, and sacrifice to break an addiction or pattern of sin. 2 Corinthians 10:4–6 explains that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. We need to change how we think and tear down strongholds of resistance. Not an easy task, to say the least.

If we attempt these changes by ourselves, we are doomed to failure. We must Involve others in our efforts to change. There is strength in numbers (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). We must find others who can encourage, support, and hold us accountable.

Even though our parents or grandparents may not have done this for us, we can still Proactively sow and seek blessings in our family’s life. Follow the pattern of Jacob (Genesis 49) in offering a blessing to your children and grandchildren.

If we break these sin patterns, God promises to bless our family for generations to come (Exodus 20:6).

break free of sin - posterize crosshatchThe “Ice bucket challenge” has become a trendy fad. Someone challenges you to dump a bucket of ice water on your head as a way of raising awareness for the disease of ALS. You have 24 hours to comply or donate money to ALS research.

I’d like to propose a new challenge. With God’s help, we could be the generation like Joseph to say, “This sin stops with me!” Rather than a trendy fad, I believe “the quitting sin challenge” is timeless. I challenge you to make that commitment today.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 31, 2014. It is the final message in a series on the life of Joseph. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Three County Fair

This afternoon, Carol and I took in the Three County Fair in Northampton, MA. According to its history, its the longest running fair in North America, 197 years and counting. The exhibits included monster trucks, motorcycle trick riding, tractor pulls, kiddie tractor pulls, pig races, ox pulls, carnival rides, midway games, agricultural displays, farm animals, and of course, food. It was an enjoyable time.

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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Massachusetts, Photos


A day is to be filled with praise

Psalm 113-3

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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Chicopee, Photos, Scripture, Sunrise


Refuse to Cruise!

“Coasting does not cut it. If you try to coast physically, you wake up one day to find yourself overweight and out of shape. Coasting relationally leaves you either dealing with a lot of conflict or all alone. If you try to coast as a parent or spouse, you end up with an empty or broken heart. If you coast on your job, you soon find yourself missing out on receiving promotions and discover that you are no longer getting raises. Eventually they find someone else to do your job. Coasting does not work in any area of life. This is especially true of our spiritual lives. You cannot coast spiritually. You are either going forward or going backward. You are either getting closer to God or getting farther from God.”

Dave Earley in Ministry Is … : How to Serve Jesus with Passion and Confidence, by Dave Earley and Ben Gutierrez



Great is Your Faithfulness!

Slide 1

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Photos, Scripture


Our selfish selfies point out our need for the gospel

selfie_graphicLove Thy Neighbor as Thy Selfie” is a thought-provoking post on Tim Challies blog. The author, Nathan Eshelman, starts out by explaining that “selfie” is the Oxford English word of the year.

What is a selfie you might ask? The OED defines selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

The author goes on to point out that “The selfie is a reflection of the corporate fallen heart of mankind” and it points out our need for the gospel.

So let’s be honest- we are selfish selfies. May we find grace to deny ourselfies as we cling to Christ that he might cure our selfish fallen hearts.

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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Culture, Tim Challies


In-N-Out fans are everywhere

in-n-out burgerIn-N-Out Burger has developed a cult following. In-N-Out is a burger chain out west (CA, AZ, UT, NV, TX). They only do one thing–burgers–along with fries and shakes, and they do it well. When we lived in Seattle, the closest store was in Redding, CA (northern CA). We knew friends who would drive twelve hours just to get a double-double.

Whenever we head for SoCal to visit family, we always make at least one trip to In-N-Out. It goes without saying that I have 2 or 3 In-N-Out T-shirts in my wardrobe. Which points out the fact that In-N-Out has fans everywhere.

Last week, Carol and I were in Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire. We were getting ready to board the aerial tramway to the top of Cannon Mountain. The operator looked at me and said, “Nice T-shirt.” I asked if he was familiar with In-N-Out. He replied he used to live in Arizona and there was a store five minutes from his house.

A few days later, we were on Boston’s north shore. We were eating lunch at the Blue Lobster Grille in Rockport, MA. A server walked by, saw my t-shirt, and commented, “Best burger ever.” He said he was from the San Fernando Valley and ate at In-N-Out often.

It truly is a small world. Sometimes, we are united by our common interests and loyalties.


Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Fun