Don’t Go Back

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Romans 6:1-2 (CEV)–“What should we say? Should we keep on sinning, so that God’s wonderful kindness will show up even better? No, we should not! If we are dead to sin, how can we go on sinning?”

Yesterday, I read an interesting post written by an extremely talented young lady concerning the portrayal of modern-day Christianity in mainstream television. While I don’t watch the show, I was intrigued by the subject.

(Check out her post here: “Woke Christianity & The Bachelorette“)

Our culture is moving at such a fast pace, it’s amazing we’re able to keep up with the ever-changing tide. Fads come and go at the speed of the internet. And everywhere we look, Christianity is being attacked as some sort of outdated, dogmatic religion with no real place in today’s super-sophisticated society. The culture attempts to “tolerate” our faith by changing some of its doctrines a little bit each day. On the surface, it seems to be working, because we now have a generation of young and old “believers” who try to walk with one foot touching the gospel and the other foot touching the soils of the world’s culture.

What’s more, this behavior is justified (by those straddlers) by using God’s word in error. They say things…let me bring it home for a minute…we say things like,

“I can do whatever I want to do; God still loves me.”

“I’ll just do it once more. Jesus will forgive me when I pray about it tomorrow.”

“God understands I still mess up, so He’ll forgive me for this later.”

We can’t accept the free gift of undeserved grace and then turn around and trample it, by continuing to live in our sinful nature that Jesus paid for in the first place! That’s like being freed from a life of drug addiction, only to keep going back to the addiction under the false belief that every time you return to the clinic, you’ll be freed permanently.

Look, we all have baggage, and my bags may be heavier (for me) than yours are for you. When God frees us from the burdens of those bags, we’re truly free. We don’t need to go back and pick them up; carrying them with the false notion of, “Jesus will help me put them down again”. Yeah…He might. But why pick them up again?

When the woman–caught in adultery–looked up to find no one but Jesus standing over her, she was freed in that moment. But Jesus made it clear to her, “Go, and sin no more.”

Once God frees you from your “it”, leave it behind for good. Don’t go back.

Raw Deal…Or Not

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The Apostle Paul made the fate of believers blatantly clear in 2 Timothy 3:12, when he said,

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”

Wow. Taken at face value, who would want to live that life? It seems like a raw deal, doesn’t it? Especially when you apply your own struggles to this verse.

But, there is hope. More to the point, there is faith. Paul also strengthens us through Romans 8:28, when he said,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

So, maybe following Jesus Christ is not such a raw deal, if everything that happens to us leads toward a greater good, we’re unable to see through human eyes.

Many people refuse the Lord because they think following him means a life of servitude, boredom, restrictions and constant troubles. Actually, following the Lord leads to a life of freedom, excitement, protection and countless victories. Jesus does not persecute. Jesus saves!

*always*

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REBOOT

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While staring at the darkened images on my favorite monitor, a couple of recurring messages begin to run laps around the display: “Syntax Error” followed closely by, “A fatal error has occurred. Windows has to shut down.”

At first, the two messages don’t seem to register in my mind. I haven’t seen a ‘Syntax Error’ message since the death of the original floppy disc. My surprise is quickly replaced by the short fuse of anger. I was right in the middle of watching a web-cam couple getting pretty hot and heavy. I really wanted to see how the activity progressed.

As I frantically begin mashing buttons in a desperate attempt to free up the apparently frozen screen, my adjacent monitor’s screen saver blinks into a black screen. Suddenly, letters begin popping up on the screen, as if the monitor is in some weird form of DOS code.

G:/> what do you think you’re doing?

My fingers stop moving. They simply hover over the keyboard, as I stare at the black screen for a moment. I glance back toward the frozen monitor. The ‘Syntax Error; A fatal error…’ messages are now scrolling freely up and down the screen. I resume my manic button pressing, while cursing under my breath.

The adjacent monitor burps a loud “BEEP!”, and I almost jump right out of my seat.

G:/> i said, what do you think you’re doing?

“What in God’s name-”

G:/> don’t you dare use that language with me mister! you’re in enough trouble as it is…

G:/> …what with you downloading pornography, and all.

I’m flabbergasted. Who in the world hacked into my system, to watch what I was doing in the privacy of my own home? I can’t do anything but stare at the black screen.

G:/> well? I’m waiting for an answer.

“What the frick is going on here,” I shout at the screen. I’m lifting the keyboard to inspect it, when the frozen monitor suddenly burps an angry “BEEP!” at me. I’m so startled by the sound, I fumble the keyboard from my hands. It crashes to desk. Miscellaneous pieces of plastic and three dislodged keys come to rest. In a fit of rage, I swear the likes of which might put a sailor to shame.

The monitor to my left, previously displaying the revolving error messages, blinks black. Now both monitors are displaying DOS coding. The left monitor’s code stops my ranting, cold.

JC:/>  are you finished yet? he’s still waiting for an answer.

The right monitor displays a new line of code, as if answering.

G:/>  yes. i’m still waiting for an answer.

My unbelieving eyes dart back and forth between the two monitors. My mouth is parched. All at once, I’m dying for a drink of water.

“What is this? Who’s doing this?”

Both monitors “BEEP!” at me, and display the same message simultaneously.

JC:/>  i am!

G:/>  i am!

It suddenly dawns on me, what’s happening.

“Oh my…” I whisper.

Rolling my chair away from the desk, I drop to my knees, my face planted against the soft carpet. I spread my arms out along the floor as far as I can.

“Father God, please forgive my indiscretions. In a moment of weakness, I fell victim to Satan’s temptation. In that moment, he reverted me back into someone I once was. Forgive my lusting eyes, my loose and disrespectful tongue. Forgive my misplaced anger.”

From the floor, I hear both monitors “BEEP!” simultaneously. I glance up to find the right monitor blinking a blue screen. Red letters spell out “DOWNLOADING”. The left monitor is also blinking the same blue screen in rhythm, with the word “UPLOADING” sprawled over the display.

“Download/ Upload?” I ask.

As if in answer to my question, both monitors fade to black. Code begins to appear.

JC:/>  ephesians 4:22

G:/>  ephesians 4:29

I scramble for my Bible buried under paperwork on my desk; two months of dust smother its cover. Flipping to Ephesians, I careful read off the verses.

“Wow. Lust and deception; don’t use foul and abusive language. Thank you for reminding me, Lord.”

JC:/>  you’re welcome. i love you.

G:/>  leave the sin where it belongs. do not return to it.

My desktop’s power lamp died. Both monitor power buttons went dim. I sit down at the desk, pushing the shattered keyboard aside, and begin to read through the book of Ephesians, starting from chapter 1.