The downward spiral of sin and the choice of sinning

James 1:14-15 (NLT) 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT) 6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Bernard of Clairvaux taught the following.

The process, order, and bondage of sin and choices of sin:
Sensual Desire—listening to our fallen nature, or the voice of others, or the thoughts from the evil one. Consent—succumbing to the idea of sinning Action—the act of sinning Habit—repeating the act over and over again Contempt—No one—even God, is going to tell me what to do! Proverbs 18:3 (NLT) 3 Doing wrong leads to disgrace and scandalous behaviour brings contempt.

(Adapted from P 34 Ralph Martin. Th…

Duh--What church should I attend?

Part # 3 of three Part Blog:

Why go to church? What is the ‘church?’ How to find the right congregation?

How to find the right congregation?
A congregation is what we normally refer to as a church.  Here is the distinction I am making.   The Church; This is the one described in my previous blog… “what is the church.”  It is the timeless eternal body of believers. A Congregation: This is a local gathering of believers who are part of “The Church”. Think of it this way—-three levels:
Level # 1-  THE CHURCH—the mystical eternal union of all believers.
Level # 2-   The Church in a town/ city/ area.  Because of level # 1, there is realistically only ONE church in a town, city, etc.
Level # 3-  Congregations:  These are various groups of people that meet together for primarily four interactive, communal, things:
Word:  Preaching, teaching, sharingSacrament:  Celebration of the Lord’s Supper (communion/ eucharist)Worship: Music, readings, silence, giftsPrayer:  Communal prayer, interaction, liturgies 

Duh---What exactly is 'the church' anyway?

What is the church?
A church is the ecclesia—which means, the called out ones.  The Church in essence is the called out ones.  What is the church called out from?  What is the church called out to? Called out from:  The church is called out from life dominated by sin to life dominated by grace. The church is called out from the world’s way of doing things.  The world is controlled for a short season longer by Satan and demonic forces.  The church is called out from that domination.The church is called out from selfishness, egotism, narcissism, laziness, immorality,  Called out to;Love unconditionally.  Show mercy, humility and justice.To serve and help the hurting, the lost, the politician, the rich, the poor, the immoral, the lonely.
The Church is an organism formed/created by the actions of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 (NLT)  “Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share…

Duh? What's all this about church?

My next three blogs

Why go to church? What is the ‘church?’ How to find the right congregation?

Why go to church?

The bottom line—it’s not optional.  Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”There are various pictures of the church in the New Testament and they are pictures that infer relationship and connection.There is the picture of the body.  So the church is a body.  A body is made of  many parts.  To be a non-churched believer is like seeing an ‘arm’ shuffling down the street, driving a car, watching a movie, or cutting grass.  There is the picture of a building.  So the church is a building.  A building is made up of many parts.  You don’t see a pile of 2 by 4’s and say—there is my house!The church is a vine—we are all individual members. John 15:5 (NLT) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce muc…

You cannot earn righteousness

Righteousness is a gift
Righteousness is never earned—it is a gift given by God.  You cannot earn righteousness—you simply are not able to.  Righteousness is a gift given by God through faith.

Deuteronomy 9:1-6 (NIV)  Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky.  The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you. After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is…

I can be wrong

I can be wrong:
I was having lunch with a friend of mine, Howard Katz, who told me three important things in his life: 

I can be wrong I can be wrong even when I believe I am absolutely right. I need mentors who love me to tell me when I am wrong regardless of how right I think I am.

Now, none of that is earth shaking news…but we do not tend to live that way.  We may give head knowledge to it, but do not practice this.
Most of us don’t appreciate being told when we are wrong, especially when we ‘know’ we are right. The biggest thing that will keep us from growing and developing spiritually, intellectually, socially, financially is conceding that we are wrong.  
Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.
Proverbs 1:5-6 (NLT) 5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance, by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles.
So, settle with the possibility:


Spirituality and Sexuality

There is a PG rated story (actually lots of them in the Bible)  that I read the other day that really hit me.  In Numbers twenty-five the Moabites were at war with the Israelites.  The weapon of war that the Moabites used was sexuality.

What hit me about it was this:  we are in a very highly sexualized culture.  Sex sells everything.  Sex is very important.  Sexuality of any and all description is flaunted in our culture.  This story in Numbers twenty-five would fit into our culture. The Moabites used sex to literally seduce the Israelite army.  The Israelites attended a Moabite public worship event and ended up having sexual relations with the Moabite women.  This was wrong.  God is upset at their blatant disrespect of their own sexuality and God issues this command: “Seize all the ring leaders and execute them before the Lord…(Number 25:4)”. What happened next is really mind blowing. Numbers 25:6-9 (NLT) "Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into his tent, …