Christian living, Uncategorized

Is Your Iron Sharp?

I recently noticed something. Something big. Something profound. Maybe you’ve noticed this, too… but are you willing to admit it? I recently noticed that it is REALLY easy to see the faults in others while being completely blind to my own faults! GASP!!! I know! I’m in my upper 30s, I can’t believe I’m just now figuring this out! My guess is that you’re like me. That you’ve known this little fact for a while, but you haven’t really given it much thought.

I’m at home all day with the amazing task of teaching 4 children. Kindergarten, first, fifth, and sixth grade. I correct grammar, math problems, behavior and bad attitudes all.the.live.long.day! And sometimes, unfortunately sooner than it should, I become short, frustrated, and sometimes downright unloving. This goes on for some time before my husband comes home. Then my husband walks in, who knows what kind of day he’s had (I mean, I didn’t even ask) but he says one comment in a grumpier-than-I’d-like way and BOOM! I’m all over him! “Why are you short!?” “Why are you so frustrated!?” “Why can’t you be more loving!?” I promise, I don’t really shout this! But I am so quick to see it in him… why was I so unwilling to see it in myself?

I know I’m not alone. I’m a facebook user. I see the “advice-seeker” who posts an issue they’re having, asks advice, but then immediately turns angry when the advice doesn’t go their way. I even have a secret group of pastor’s wives that I’ll take my issues to. But as soon as one of them says something that requires me to look inward at my own bad behavior, I want to high tail it out of there! I’ve even deleted my posts so I don’t have to deal with it (I mean, let’s get real here, right?). It isn’t easy when we are faced with our own sins.

I googled “Why is it so hard to be held accountable?” You can’t even imagine how many responses I got to that question… NONE! Not one!  It’s rare to find someone who truly wants to be held accountable. We may SAY we want it. But our actions tell a completely different story. I tell my husband many times a year, “Honey, please talk me off this ledge! Please remind me of my goals of being a loving parent in the midst of my knit picking and nagging.” Then I wonder why he isn’t quick to do so after I bite his head off for not agreeing with me that whistling is the root of all evil. (Oh, have I never mentioned my hatred of whistling and how quickly it makes my blood boil in anger??? Maybe another blog post…). We say we want to be held accountable, but we actually hate correction. I believe this to be one of Satan’s most successful tools. If we can fight against correction, we can turn a blinds eye to the sin that is so easily visible to those close to us.

The word “accountability” isn’t found in the Bible. But the concept is all over the place.  In Hebrews the Author says,
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -Hebrews 10:23-25

The author knows that in order to hold on to our hope without wavering, we’re going to need each other to stir one another up. This is the purpose of gathering together on a regular basis. Our relationships are so important in this process. This is accountability!

To stir up can be translated urge, spur on, or motivate. It can also mean to provoke or irritate. Have you ever tried to cheer up a really grumpy person? It can be downright irritating! It’s not always easy, even when the accountability is coming in an encouraging way. However, this is needed for us to be at our best spiritually. Done right, accountability can be and should be encouraging. The word “encourage” means to call someone to your side in order to strengthen them with your words; it can refer to a variety of encouraging speech: instructing, comforting, admonishing, warning, urging, begging, and consoling. Whatever it takes to pull a friend from the dangers of sin.

I would expect my husband to remove a knife from my hand if I were about to harm myself with it. I would actually feel unloved if he sat back and did not act quickly when he could clearly see I was hurting myself. So why do I feel so attacked when he steps in to lovingly warn me about the sin I’m involving myself in? Done the correct way, accountability should encourage you to choose a more godly path in life. Galatians 6:1-2 says, Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

If God is telling  a person to help restore a friend, He must expect that friend to receive the restoration. Just imagine the change that can come to your life if you’d receive the correction as a blessing instead of an offense. We are to bear one another’s burdens. Why not take some off yourself and let someone help you with it? Sometimes anger is too heavy of a burden to bear, Confess your sins, and let someone pray for you and hold you accountable (James 5:16). Gossip is a hard habit to break. Ask some friends to stop you before you sin against another person, causing both them and you harm. Depression is a dark hole to get lost in, connect with a friend who won’t leave you alone even when you withdraw. Help a friend help you.

Being held accountable isn’t always easy. It isn’t always comfortable. It isn’t always painless. We are called to admonish one another (Colossians 3:16). Admonish isn’t a pleasant word. It means to warn or reprimand someone firmly. Firmly, not harshly. As grown adults (and I guess even as children), we don’t like to be told what to do. Somehow we thought that when we became adults we could do whatever we wanted and no one could tell us what to do! And yet… The Bible tells us that we should admonish one another. I’m sure many of us read that and allow it to give us permission to rebuke others. That’s easy. But what about when you’re the person who needs the rebuke?

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17). Are you sharpened or do you live in a dull state with no desire to live up to your full potential? Try cutting a tomato with a dull knife. It’s a mess. And so is life when we refuse correction. Would you take this sharpening journey with me? Ask someone to hold you accountable. Tell them to be loving, but to correct you on the sin you’re struggling with. And then actually receive the correction. Pray over it, and make the necessary changes in your life. Don’t let your pride ruin your walk with God.

There is no need to be around toxic people who correct, rebuke, and admonish out of mean spirits and divisive intentions. There are people like this lurking behind every corner. They are not there to encourage you, but rather point out your faults, push you down, and walk away. Search for those with their hands outstretched in love pulling you up. Choose a person that loves you, and loves what God could do in your life. Ask someone to come along side you  in order to strengthen you with their words. And then pray for the humble spirit to take their encouragement and grow closer to God.

 

Church is a great place to find this kind of friend. I’d love to invite you to visit us on Sundays at 10a at Crossroads Church in St. James, MN. 721 Weston Ave. Make plans to visit with a friend, I’ll save you a seat!
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Ministry, Pastor's Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

The Death of a Dream

Let’s see a show of hands… How many of you scrolled through your Facebook news feed and found yourself angry, shocked, ashamed, frustrated, outraged or/and flabbergasted at what you saw? How many of you rolled your eyes at least 5 times? So of those who raised their hands (and those rebellious ones who agreed but didn’t physically comply) were you able to control your emotions and reply in a polite manner? Or did you lash out and begin on a tirade of name calling, belittling, and maybe even slip in some curse words? So, how’s that work for you?

Hey, I get it, I’ve been there. I’ve WANTED to say things I know God would not be proud of. I’ve hit the delete button many times, I may have even let a few posts get posted and I’m not proud of that. I’m actually very ashamed of myself after doing it, and most of the time I have to go back and delete my rude comments. Our society has become rage-filled and filter-free. We’re angry. We’re angry because our candidate didn’t win. We’re angry because we feel our rights are violated. We’re angry because our voices aren’t heard. We’re angry because our neighbor went gluten-free and didn’t accept our homemade bread! We’re angry because someone didn’t agree with our thoughts. And we lash out! We forget our manners and hide behind a computer screen and we call people small. We insult their intelligence. We spew hate and add insult to injury in this hate-filled world.

But what does God say? Do you care? I’m raising my hand over here! I care! I want to glorify God. I want to show Him to be the loving God that he is. I WANT to be an imitator of Him. Even when I mess up, I want to do better. Do you?

Matthew 5:21-22, “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; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

We don’t like the word ‘Judgment’ but there it is, right there in the Bible. And we’re liable. Pastor’s sermon (the notes are here) reminded us that all of our emotions need to be subjected to the authority of the Holy Spirit. We cannot let our emotions go unchecked and do whatever.  We can not see that political post (dietary post, silly meme… or whatever ruffles your feathers) and allow our fingers to spew every ungodly thought we have in our heads.  Of course you CAN… but should you? 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.”

Unchecked emotions can damage others, and damage us. It can hurt our reputation, and for Christians (I’m even sad that we have to be reminded of this), it can hurt our witness.

I asked my kids the other day, “What is the number one thing we, as christians, should be doing?” Without skipping a beat, my 11, 10, 7, & 5-year-old answered, “Glorify God, and try to help others do the same” (It was a proud moment for this mama!) If they get it, why is it so hard for us adults? One of the most glorifying things we can do for God is to point others to Him.

So when you type things like that belittle, insult, and increase the hate, are you benefiting anyone? Are you making things better? Are you then able to point that person to Jesus? If you have to say no to those questions, can I ask that you utilize your delete button? Can I beg of you to back away from your screen and seek God instead? Can I pray with you that we begin to shed off the anger and start producing the righteousness that God desires (You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19,20).

Your dream (whether it be a different president, different policy, different neighbor, or whatever) may be dead, but you aren’t! Live! And live in love!

**This is part of my takeaway from Pastor’s sermon yesterday. His notes are on his page, please head over and take a look. hearitfrompastordave.wordpress.com Follow him if you’d like each week’s sermon. But if you’re in the area, please join us next Sunday at 10 am! I’ll save you a seat! Crossroads Church, 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN