Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Guess Who Can Drive Now!?

You probably guessed it...I can!
*almost*
I took my permit test yesterday...and passed!
In front of the DMV with the paper that says
 I am a permitted driver!
Next step is to get some behind the wheel training with a professional...then in February I can get my license! :)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

10 Social Sins...and What to Do About Them

Stock photo from Unsplash.com


Happy August! :)
This is a more difficult post to write...mostly because I am going to write is going to greatly convict me.

What are Social Sins?

First of all, what are "Social Sins"?
Social sins are known as sins that many Christians are so used to that they explain them away or just don't know that they are committing them...or worse, have become numb to the fact that they are sins.

Ouch.

These are all examples that I struggle with. I'm pointing fingers at no one but myself.

A Word Of Warning

I'll put it plain and simple...DON'T USE THIS AS A WAY TO JUDGE OTHERS!!! Remember the log in your own eye before removing the speck in someone else's eye (Matthew 7:1-5).

Ten Examples of Social Sins

1. Anxiety

I'll hit you with a big one right away. Anxiety is directly telling God that you don't trust him. Woah! I CONSTANTLY struggle with anxiety. I want to know what is going to happen...now! Not later, now! I want MY plan to work...and I forget that God's plan is better. I forget that I need to trust him.
For example, right now I am trying to get into a class at the local Christian University. I have my plan of how it should work...but apparently, that is different from God's plan, because I have been accepted as a student, but registering for the class is moving at a snail's pace. I have to remind myself to put it in God's hands and not worry about it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. --Philippians 4:6-7

2. Pride

Yeah, I know, this one seems obvious. We have been told since we were little not to brag. But did you realize that bragging is not the only form of pride? The one that hits home hardest for me is putting myself down. I sometimes struggle with comparison..."I'm not as popular as her" or "I'm not as pretty as her" or "there is no way I could ever be as mature as her" or "as outgoing as her"...the list goes on and on! Comparison is a form of pride. Pride is anytime you take your focus off God and others around you and put it on yourself, whether that is saying you are better than others, or worse than others, or talking about yourself all the time, or doing other things to draw attention to yourself.

"...for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." --1 Peter 5:5b

3. Complaining

Is it sin to move quickly to obey your mom, all the while mumbling under your breath about how you always have to clean the bathroom? Is it is sin to play with your sister, but think about how boring her games are and how you would rather text your BFF? Is it sin to outright tell your mom that you HATE broccoli and WHY DO WE HAVE TO EAT IT AGAIN THIS WEEK!?
The answer....yes.
Complaining is a sin. It is a form of disrespect. God gives us several commands in the bible about honor and respect. First, he tells us to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:2). He also tells us to honor and respect other authorities in our lives (1 Peter 2:17, Romans 13:1). Complaining is a big way that we dishonor those authorities.
Besides that, God also gives us a couple direct commands not to grumble or complain.

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing" --Philippians 2:14

4. Anger

So you think murder is bad? How about anger? Murder deserves consequences...but we just let anger slide by. Jesus says that anger is equal to murder! Ouch! How many times am I angry with someone? Let's put it this way...how many times have I committed murder against my siblings in my heart because I didn't like what they did?
Yeah, I struggle with anger. A lot. And yeah, it is a sin. Just like murder.

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.'  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council...'" --Matthew 5:21-22a

5. Laziness

Pretty much all of Proverbs has something to say about laziness (Proverbs 10:26, 10:4, 12:24, 21:25, 6:6, 10:5, 13:4, 18:9, 19:15, 20:4, 20:13, 12:27, to name a few). The idea that is repeated in all these verses is that the lazy person receives no reward, but whoever is diligent will be blessed. God commands us to be diligent and to work hard. So anytime that we are lazy, or, as James 4:17 says, we know the right thing to do but choose not to do it, it is SIN!

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men," --Colossians 3:23

6. Gossip

I have noticed this in my life a TON lately. "Oh, I've got a story from So-and-so to share" or "Can you believe what so-and-so did" or "did you hear about..." are all things that I've said that very quickly lead to sharing a story that is not my own to share...sometimes (more than I would like to admit) to tear the other person down and build myself up (there's pride again!). As innocent as it seems, it hurts the other person, and really does no good for you or the people you are talking to. And it is sin.

"You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness." --Exodus 23:1

"to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people." --Titus 3:2

See also Proverbs 11:13, 20:19, Ephesians 4:29, Psalm 50:20, James 4:11

7. Lying

Also known as stretching the truth. There is a fine line between joking and telling a lie. I think it is when you stop admitting "yeah, I was pulling your leg" and start insisting that you are telling the truth. It is sin. Even the tiniest little white lie. Still sin.

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." --Exodus 20:16

8. Jealousy

This is one that you don't hear much about. But think about the time that you saw someone's new phone and you said to yourself "I want that phone." I have a rather funny example from when I was a lot younger. I was at a camp and one girl had some candy. Instead of just outright asking her for a piece, I said, "Oh, I wish I could have some!" Yep, I was jealous of the fact that she had candy and I didn't. I've struggled with that at times at camps more recently when someone I know finds a note in their duffel bag or receives a letter from home. But as I have matured, I realize that that's not the point of camp and I've gotten over the jealousy. But I get jealous of the way that a girl did her hair, or the friends or attention someone is getting, or the shirt my friend is wearing.

"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." --James 3:16

9. Corrupt Speech

This is exhibited in many ways. Besides cursing (Exodus 20:7), it comes in the subjects we talk about, and the type of speech we are using (gossip, lying, etc.). In Colossians 3:8, obscene talk is put in the list of sins with anger, wrath, malice, and slander.

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." --Ephesians 4:29

10. Judging

I used to judge people by their feet. "Oh, their feet look weird, they must be weird." How silly is that!! Of course, I don't do that anymore! But I judge people in other ways. "They wear skinny jeans and ride a skateboard, they won't want to talk to me." It is sad, but too true. We judge, I judge, people all the time. Sometimes without realizing it.

"Judge not, that you be not judged." --Matthew 7:1

What do we do about it?

Oh how often I sin against my Lord! It makes my heart sad as I write this post and think about the sins that I just listed. How many times in the day do I commit one or more of these sins and fail to realize it? Too many to count.

If you have similar thoughts, would you consider joining me in a period of meditation and prayer, examining your life today and this week and seeing what areas you have sinned in and confessing them to our perfect savior?

                          *                  *                 *                   *                    *                    *
So what do we do about these sins? We can't just ignore them. And we can't fix them on our own. Believe me, I have tried in the past to fix my failures on my own. But it doesn't work. Read this next verse s  l  o  w  l  y...

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." --1 John 1:9

The word for confess means to say the same thing. You call sin what it is, and you call it what God calls it...evil.

The first thing to do when the Holy Spirit convicts us of a sin is that we need to confess our sins to God. And if you have sinned against someone else, confess to them as well.

The second thing that we need to do is repent. Repentance means that you are walking one way, you stop, turn 180 degrees and start walking the other way. This is hard, but it is worth it.

The third thing is PRAY. Prayer is key to every part of our Christian walk. In the Lord's Prayer, there is a line that says "forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive those who have trespassed against us." We need to daily ask for forgiveness (Matthew 5).
Also, the Bible clearly tells us that there is a war out there. And I don't mean a war in Iraq, or a war on Terrorism, or a world war, or a war between two tribes in South America...I mean a war in the spiritual realm.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." --Ephesians 6:12

There is a spiritual war going on all around us every day of our lives. I would encourage you to read "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. Though it is fictional, the book gives good insight into the spiritual war and how it affects us. Later in Ephesians 6, it tells us to put on our armor--the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the spirit, and prayer. Prayer is our key weapon for battling sin.

Bear with me, I've only got three more things to say on this topic.

The fourth thing we can do about sin is to spend time in God's word. Read it, study it, memorize it. I listed a verse with each sin. If you struggle with any of those, might I suggest that you memorize the verse so you can call it to mind when you are tempted to fall into sin?

"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." --Psalm 119:11

Our fifth weapon is accountability. Don't try to battle sin on your own. Get friends behind you to pray with you, to ask you how you are doing. If you know that at the end of the week you will have someone asking you if you gave into temptation, you will be less likely to do so.

The sixth weapon is related to the fifth. I would highly recommend getting someone in your life who you can mentor. It's like this: You know that this person is looking up to you to see how they ought to live as a Christian. It makes you think twice before gossiping, or living in anxiety, or complaining.
If you have a younger sibling, you have that younger person to mentor already. In my life, I have four younger siblings who (though they probably would not admit it) look up to me. I also work with kids at church and babysit all the time. Do I want those kids I come in contact with to pick up bad habits of corrupt talk, complaining, gossip, disrespect, etc.? No!! It is a constant reminder to live a life that sets an example.

"Do not let anyone despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." --1 Timothy 4:12

I'm sorry, this was a long post. :)

Do you have any additional ways to battle sin? Are there any other "social sins" you can think of? Any Bible verses that help you in the spiritual warfare that is going on all around you?

Remember that God loves you and he wants you to turn from your sin. Nothing you can do can make him love you any less or any more than he does.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life." --John 3:16



 

Friday, August 4, 2017

What I Read- July 2017

I love summer because it gives me the chance to read. I don't have to worry about all the other school work, I don't have assigned reading for school, I can just read for fun. Here is what I read this month;

The Hidden Flame (Janette Oke and Davis Bunn)

This is the second in a series of books by this team of authors. The first book (titled: The Centurion's Wife) is set between the resurrection of Jesus and Pentecost. This book is set between Pentecost and the Martyrdom of Stephen.
In this book, Abigail is a young woman in the Christian community who helps to make food and care for the apostles and the other believers- or "Followers of the Way" as they call themselves. She has injured her leg and walks with a limp...and yet there are two men who are interested in her. One is an influential and rich Jewish merchant. The other is an unbelieving Roman soldier. She is not interested in either one. She ends up marrying a fellow believer named Stephen and helping him in his ministry to the orphans and widows.
But their joy as a married couple is soon to end. The Jewish merchant, her former suitor, was the brother of Saphira. Saphira and her husband were killed by God for lying...but the merchant thinks the apostles did it. So he plans to take revenge. He does this by having Stephen arrested and killed.
In the midst of all this, Abigail's younger brother, Jacob, as grown into a young man. He has always dreamed of being a Roman soldier, but his guardian is now a believer and won't support his dream. So he goes to the Roman soldier who was Abigail's suitor and appeals for help towards his dream. But this Roman soldier too becomes a believer, and Jacob ends up joining a friend as a caravan guard. He isn't happy there, but it is a little closer to his childhood dream. But Abigail feels a new tension between the two of them, and she doesn't like it.

The Silent Songbird (Melanie Dickerson)
 
This is another fairytale rewrite (I wrote about one of them in April). This one is based off the story of Ariel. She is trapped by her cousin (the King) in one of his castles, and she has a beautiful voice. The king is scared that she will be stolen away if she ventures out in the world, so he forbids her to leave without a guard...and he is forcing her to marry a man who is at least twice her age. So the maiden (named Evangeline) ventures out on her own. She goes with her faithful servant and pretends to be mute. She goes by the name Eva. She meets and falls in love with a son of a duke. Then her secret comes out, and he is angry with her. She eventually regains his trust, saves his life, he saves hers, and they marry in the end. This book connects with two of the other books in the series...but since I had to figure it out on my own, you do too! :) (Oh, and by the way, the next book in the series comes out in September 2018...eagerly awaiting!!)

Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives (Charles Swindoll)

This is another one of Swindoll's amazing Bible biographies. I love these books. This one was a smattering of stories of often-overlooked people in the old testament. From the part of Abraham's story we don't hear about, to Jabez, to a guy named Uzziah I'd never heard of, this was full of unusual characters and great truths to learn from their lives.

This Changes Everything (Jaquelle Crowe)

This was a FANTASTIC book written by a teenager for teenagers. Guys, don't let the pink cover fool you, it is a book I would recommend to both girls and guys. Her retelling of the gospel brings so much color to it...as if there wasn't enough color in the gospel already. I mean, GOD comes down to earth to die for his enemies...pretty amazing! But her retelling made it come alive for me. I really saw the WONDER of what he did on the cross. Anyway, following her retelling, she talked about how the gospel changes, well, everything. She applied the truth of the gospel to ALL of life. Not just sin and church, but time, relationships, media, service, and more. And let me say, some of the things she said were SERIOUSLY convicting!!!! I loved the discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Just three short questions that make you think about how what she talked about applies to YOU.

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