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Category Archives: Scripture

The Statute of Limitations on Sin

With each passing day, more and more accusations come out about past indiscretions. Sexual misconduct. Terrorism. Conspiracy. Bribery. Doping accusations. PEDs. Fake news.

The headlines prompted me to wonder, What is the statute of limitations on sin? Is there anything in my background I need to be afraid of? Any skeletons in my closet that I should fear coming to light?

I am not perfect by any means. Never was. Never will be. There are certainly things in my past that might cause me to be embarrassed, but nothing that would bring an indictment. That being said, that doesn’t mean I don’t experience false guilt at times. At times like this, I need to be reminded of what Scripture tells me about forgiveness.

If I confess my sins, God promises to forgive me (1 John 1:9). He buries my sin in the deepest part of the sea (Micah 7:19). He removes my sin from his presence, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). God chooses to forget my sins and will not remember them (Isaiah 43:25). I am totally and completely forgiven.

Even though I know this to be true, the enemy still accuses me and heaps false guilt on me. He whispers, “Who do you think you are? Don’t you remember that you did _______?” He stands before God and condemns me for my sins. But when that happens, Jesus comes before the Father as my defense lawyer and says, “Father, I died for those sins, and Mark has already confessed them.” (1 John 2:1-2).

While the world may have a long memory and bring up my past failures, God has a short memory when it comes to confessed sin. He chooses to no longer remember what Christ has forgiven. Jesus reminds the Father that his death covered my sins.

Thank you Lord for dismissing the statute of limitations on confessed sin.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in 1 John, Scripture, Theology

 

Letting people see behind the curtain

The Great and Powerful Oz always hid behind the curtain. He did not want people to see he was just an ordinary, failed magician from the Midwest.

As leaders and pastors, it is tempting to follow that pattern of letting people only see our powerful, charismatic persona, and hiding our weaknesses behind the curtain. However, we need to allow people behind the curtain to see us as we truly are, a mixed package of strengths, weaknesses, and frailties.

On many occasions, the apostle Paul spoke of the importance of modeling. He provided an example for believers to follow (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Timothy 4:12-16; Titus 2:7-8). But Paul also revealed his struggles when he spoke of his thorn in the flesh and how he begged God to take it away (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

I have tried to pull back the curtain to let people see how I am responding to a broken leg. I struggle. I vent. I vacillate from hope to discouragement. I waffle from confidence to despair. I am impatient. I trust God’s plan. I’m tired of hurting. I know God is in control. I want to fast forward and skip the next few weeks of rehab. I am resting in God’s timing.

I ride a roller coaster throughout each day. I am confident and encouraged in the mornings. I am diligent to do my exercises and rehab. I am working my way through several books, trying to use my time profitably. But when I get tired, I become discouraged. The days are long and tedious. I feel achy and weary in the evenings. I told Carol last night that I am tired of hurting.

Although I am not preaching from a pulpit these days, I am teaching from my recliner. People are watching to see how I deal with trials and difficulties. Hopefully, it is a good example of how to suffer well. I would like to provide an example like David in Psalm 42 where he cries out to God in despair but then ends in a statement of confident hope and trust.

One thing I appreciate about Scripture is that it paints the individuals with warts and all. We don’t receive an airbrushed portrait of Abraham or David, but we view their strengths, weaknesses, successes, failures, and everything in between. Scripture lets us see behind the curtain. That is my intent in these blog posts.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Character, Personal growth, Scripture

 
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The right way to boast

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2017 in Scripture

 

Finding and giving comfort

During my Bible reading this morning, I read 2 Corinthians 1:3–4.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

It was a welcome reminder for both now and the future. God is comforting me during my current affliction. He is using this experience to prepare me to better comfort others as they go through various trials. He comforts me in my affliction so I can comfort others in any affliction.

Nothing is wasted in the will of God. That in itself is comforting.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2017 in Personal growth, Scripture

 

What is God teaching you?

“What is God teaching you?” someone asked me Friday evening. I was reminded of my father’s answer when I asked him that same question when he was dying of cancer in 1983. Dad responded, “I don’t know, but I know he can be trusted.”

Like my father, I know that God can be trusted even if he never reveals why I went through this season of disability.

I am confident that a broken leg/hip and weeks on the DL is part of God’s plan for my life. I am confident that he who began a good work in me will complete it (Philippians 1:6). I am confident that God will cause this event to work together for his good purpose and that he will use it to make me more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). I am confident God will use this season of trial to further shape and hone my character (James 1:2-12). I am confident that God will demonstrate his power in my weakness, and that his grace is sufficient during this season of disability (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). I am confident that nothing is wasted in the will of God. This is part of his curriculum to prepare me for an even more determinative ministry.

“Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15).

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2017 in Character, Personal growth, Scripture

 

When your strengths hold you back

“Your greatest strength can be your greatest weakness if pushed to an extreme.”

I heard that statement many years ago and have repeated it many times over. I am now dealing with it daily as I recover from my broken hip.

Over the years, I have gained insight from many different personality and strengths assessment tools. I have taken the DISC profile (originally called the Performax Profile), the TJTA, the Meyers-Briggs, the Pearson Golden Personality Profile, the IOS (Individual Operating Style), and the Clifton Strengths Finder. Each one has given me greater insight into who I am and how God wired me.

In the Meyers-Briggs profile, I am an ISTJ, characterized by integrity, practical logic, and tireless dedication to duty. We get things done. In the Pearson Golden Personality Profile (an offshoot of the Meyers-Briggs), I learned I am an Introvert who is Socially Bold. While I am energized by solitude, I am also friendly and outgoing; initiates conversations; comfortable leading; likes public speaking. In terms of my IOS, I am a (1) People-Oriented, Motivating, Communicating, LEADER/Teacher; (2) Committed Long-Term GOAL ACHIEVER; and a (3) Tangible Project Completer/ACCOMPLISHER. In the Clifton Strengths Finder, my top five themes are Learner, Maximizer, Arranger, Responsibility, and Belief.

When you add these different profiles together, you see two common themes. (1) I am a doer who gets things done. I take ownership of my responsibilities and I see them through to completion. (2) I am a communicator, and the way I lead is through teaching and preaching.

While those are tremendous strengths, they are also tremendous weaknesses during this season of my life. I feel responsible for the church. I feel like I have let people down by sitting on the sidelines. I am not leading because I am not preaching and teaching. Because of my sense of responsibility, I want to rush through my rehab and recovery and get back to work. My internal makeup says I am not fulfilling my purpose because I am not doing.

Several people have counselled me not to be in a hurry and rush back. Several have said to take my time and not come back too soon. A few have specifically given me permission to take my time and heal.

My biggest challenge is giving myself permission to heal. As a doer, the hardest part of being on the DL is not doing. I am not accustomed to being idle and sitting on the sidelines. The hardest part of waiting is waiting. I am an impatient patient.

In the midst of all of this, I have to trust that God knows what he is doing. I need to take advantage of my enforced sabbatical to read, rest, and grow spiritually. I need to be diligent in praying for those who have taken up my baton. I must find ways to minister, mentor, and coach from the sidelines. I need to take the opportunity to grow and deepen spiritually while my leg/hip is healing. Rather than chafe against what God is doing, I need to keep my focus on him and let him work in my life.

2 Corinthians 4:16–18 – 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2017 in Character, Personal growth, Scripture

 

Forced or free

Does God force his will upon you? Are you free to choose? Do you feel pressured to obey? Do you follow Christ with a willing heart? Are you afraid of what might happen if you follow Christ? Are you willing to be obedient, even if there is a cost?

These questions came to my mind this morning as I was reading through the book of Acts. In Acts 20:22-24, the apostle Paul makes a curious statement about why he is going to Jerusalem.

22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul says that he is “constrained by the Spirit” to go to Jerusalem. He feels a divine nudging, a subtle pressure pushing him in the direction of Jerusalem. He has no idea what awaits him except that it involves trials, difficulty, and pain.

Despite a sense of pressure and foreboding, Paul is willing to go because it will give him another opportunity to share the gospel. Instead of being dragged kicking and screaming, Paul embraces the unknown challenges. Rather than be distracted by the short-term pain, his focus is on the long-term gain. He wants to finish well.

I want that to be true of my life as well. I want to sense God’s direction for my life. I want to be sensitive to his leading, nudging, prodding, and constraint. Rather than resisting or running from his plan, I want to embrace his direction regardless of the cost. Rather than pursuing a safe, secure route, I want to faithfully run the race he has laid out for me. I want to finish well.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2017 in Acts, Personal growth, Scripture