Check Yourself.

I have grown up in a Christian home, hearing many of the same sermons in church over and over again. Yet, occasionally, I hear those messages that hit me as something I had never even thought about. You would think that I could recognize anything out of the Bible, as it has been an influence in my life for so many years.

Recently, I heard one of these messages that just threw me off. Maybe I had skimmed over the passage one day, but never had it been thrown out and explained to me. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 says, “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’”

I sat there trying to figure out how many people I associate myself with, especially close friends, that say they are Christians, yet are “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.” I was sitting next to one of my close friends asking myself, “Does he think that of me?” How many people do you associate yourself with that are in constant sin, yet claim the name of Christ? Isn’t that degrading to His name? People that do not believe in Christ might look at the “church” full of immorality and assume that sin is accepted. It seems harsh for us to completely distance ourselves from these relationships, but God calls us to be holy. Check your friends. Check yourself. “And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.” –2 Thessalonians 3:13

Snails and Marcovaldo

I blogged earlier about selfishness and the busyness of the American life. Another negative aspect of our busy schedules is the lack of appreciation for beauty in the small things of creation. We are consumed with cars, clothes, houses, etc., when the things of nature, such as leaves, trees, and the sky provide much more beauty. If you ever come to realize the unique complexity of vegetation, the distinct behavior of wildlife, and the expanse of our universe, you will be struck with utter amazement.

The Format, wrote a song called “Snails” that includes these lyrics:
“Snails see the benefits
The beauty in every inch”

I read a book a few months ago called Marcovaldo or the Seasons in the City by Italo Calvino. He opens the novel with this:
“This Marcovaldo posses an eye ill-suited to city life; billboards,
traffic-lights, shop-windows, neon signs, posters, no matter how
carefully devised to catch the attention, never arrested his gaze,
which might have been running over the desert sands.  Instead, he
would never miss a leaf yellowing on a branch, a feather trapped by a
roof-tile; there was no horsefly on a horse’s back, no worm-hole in a
plank, or fig-peel squashed on the sidewalk that Marcovaldo didn’t
remark and ponder over, discovering the changes of season, the
yearnings of his heart, and the woes of this existence.”

I think we need to be more like snails and Marcovaldo. Let’s follow their lead and admire and appreciate every inch of God’s creation.

Moses vs. Me

As humans, we have inherited a selfish nature. Thoughts of ourselves our endless and constant. We fill our schedules with appointments and activities that please or better ourselves. Think about how many things you do every day that are for yourself, as opposed to helping or spending time with someone else.
I was very consumed with worrying about some things last night as the news caught my attention. They began to cover the story about the shooting at Virginia Tech. Here I am, getting ready to eat a meal with my family, while thirty-two parents and families have no option of ever seeing one of their family members again. I was convicted and my thoughts completely turned around. Does it really take a shooting across the country for me to actually think about others?
“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” –Numbers 12:3
God recognized Moses as humble and selfless. This past Saturday night, Francis Chan asked the question, “How amazing would it be for God to call you the most humble person on earth?” I desire that kind of intimacy with God. My thoughts need to be redirected toward others and God.

Good Friday

I was driving down to Chapman University yesterday thinking about the truth and reality of Good Friday. This sacrifice that Christ made saved my life and made me pure. Without His death on the cross I would be looking forward to eternal damnation in hell. Guilt, shame, and regert are all familiar as I think about what Christ endured for me. Can you even grasp the image of being crucified for so many people, most you have never even seen before? At the same time, I am relieved that He bore my punishment.
Two years ago, during the passion week, I was in the Philippines. Their belief that man has to take Christ’s pain upon themselves allowed me to witness floggings. Two years later, something clicked. I am so thankful for my faith and a Savior that was willing to take the sin and burdens of the world upon Himself so that we may live. What if every Good Friday, we went out into the streets with others and flogged ourselves? The magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice is evident as His one sacrifice saved all believers.

excellence

In my lifetime, I become frustrated with required tasks, especially those with a deadline. When I am offered my own motivation to accomplish a goal, the outcome is better and more successful. I love to read every chance I can get. If I have a spare five minutes, I pick up a book and go to town. Yet, when I am given a book that I must read for school, I become unwilling. I do not enjoy reading the book, and I do not become captured by the book. When I’m asked to journal or write an essay for class, my level of effort and desire to portray my thoughts decreases. At the same time, I often journal on my own time. As Christians, we are called to do everything with excellence, glorifying the name of God, setting examples for those who do not have the privilege of being children of God. I, and those who agree, need to have a change of attitude and realize that every single task, required or not, should be done with undivided effort and the motivation of Christ.

Jessica’s Law

Jessica’s law is a momentous regulation that is currently being proposed. This law would put further restrictions upon sexual offenders. It will place the condition of a minimum of twenty-five years in prison and electronic monitoring for the rest of the predictor’s life. Also, the offender of a child younger than twelve years old will result in death or life in prison with no opportunity for parole.
Objections to this law seem to be beside the point of punishing these criminals. Some say that it would be too emotional damaging for young people to testify in court, but a child can easily be told the reason for this trial. A young person testifying in court is worth justice being served. People also say that it would be too costly for the state. Don’t you think that your money is worth these sexual offenders serving the correct punishment? In America, the punishment is supposed to fit the crime. Jessica’s Law satisfies the punishment of sexual assault.

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