“Acceptable” Sin

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Happy Monday! I know my title may keep some of you from reading on. Those that are hanging in there with me, thank you. I don’t think you will be disappointed. First off, I apologize for no blog last week. It was my birthday and I taught 5 classes last week so it was busy. That said, let’s move onto the topic God placed on my heart.

All have sinned – Romans 3:23a, NIV

When my daughter was in Awana (a Bible program for kids), they memorized verses. This verse “all have sinned” was set to a song to help them learn it. The only words were “all have sinned.” She was very little at the time – like 3 or 4 years old. One day, my dad asked her what she was learning. She sang to him “all have sinned.” He was shocked at the boldness of her song. A memorable moment for sure. However, it’s true. All of us have sinned.

What is sin? Sin is actually a term in archery. The sin mark is how far away from the target your arrow hit. Sin means, you missed the target. What is our target? Not to sin, a.k.a not disobey God. Whether you are a following of God or not, sin separates you from Him. As a believer, when you accept Jesus, God’s son, as your Savior and ask Him to guide you life, you receive forgiveness for sin and a pathway back to God. I love the image below to show us how to bridge the chasm.

Now that we have established we all have sinned, what is “acceptable” sin? “Acceptable” sin – according to my pastor – are the “little” sins we rationalize. Those little things you do every day and think nothing of. A white lie. Speeding (guilty). Not claiming all income on your taxes. And so on.

One of the ways we find peace to commit these “acceptable” sins is by calling a friend who will know will side with us. I intentionally call certain people for accountability and others for permission. You know what I mean. I know you do. Let yourself go there. It’s tough but it will root out another level of disconnect with God in your life.

I am struggling with a decision that I know is unethical (that’s another thing we do, we don’t call it sin we call it unethical or justified.) It’s a sin if I do this behavior. I know it. I still want to do it. I want someone to give me permission to do it. I know who I can call and plead my case and scream it’s justice and they will side with me. I know who I can call who will tell me that regardless of what others have done, wrong is still wrong. I haven’t let it go and it keeps coming back to me. Reality – it is sin. I don’t want to do it and don’t plan to do it. However, I do want to do it and I have to keep connecting to God to not do it. Friends, the struggle is real. Paul addresses this very thing in Romans 7.

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! ~ Romans 7:14-25 NIV

Whether you have been a Christian for your lifetime, are a new believer, or not yet a believer, choosing to obey God’s Word – all of it – is a lifetime struggle. We can’t change the Bible to fit our needs or our culture’s beliefs. The Bible is God’s Word and it’s perfect. So, I encourage you to look at the “acceptable” sins in your life and stop them. I also encourage you to look at those friends who support those “acceptable” sins. Don’t stop interacting with them, instead, join into some accountability with one another. Challenge each other to grow rather than support each other’s weaknesses. Deepen your friendship. Deepen your relationship with God.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Take the pink lemonade

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My mom and dad love Minute Maid pink lemonade. When I visited a few months ago, they offered me a glass. I accepted it and enjoyed the sweet, not tart, flavor. It was truly delicious. Upon subsequent visits, Dad offered me more pink lemonade. Some days I said yes and some I said no. Eventually, the pink lemonade was pre-poured in a tall glass filled with ice waiting for me to enjoy. One day, I was feeling a bit behind in my health goals and decided against the sugary sweet drink. It sat at my place on the patio table where we social distanced visited. I declined it kindly and said I’d just drink the water I brought. No biggie and no one truly cared. Until yesterday.

When I got home from my visit at my parents yesterday, I missed the lemonade. I realized the pink lemonade represented an act of hospitality and love. They love this drink. They want to share it with me. Honestly, if I called my dad today and said sorry I said no to the pink lemonade the other week, he would laugh at me. However, he hasn’t offered it to me since that day. I shut down a method of him showing me his love and sharing a part of him and Mom with me. So what if one day I had a few more calories because I indulged in pink lemonade? So what if I wasn’t thirsty and didn’t really want it? (I know there are a group of you out there who think “it’s better to be honest and let them know you don’t want it.” I was one of those people, until yesterday.)

When I realized I was not only missing out on a gesture of love, I was also depriving him of one of his ways to show his love to me. My dad is 88. He’s not huggy and kissy. He says I love you and gives hugs and kisses but they are few and far between. His gesture of lemonade was a simple way to show his love. Year ago, I came to him in a crisis in tears. He listened then checked the air pressure on my car tires. My friend suggested that checking my tires was one way he could show his love and concern for me without getting all emotional. I have never forgotten that moment. I did, however, forget to look for his other hidden gestures of love.

Friends, I encourage you this week to look beyond the action of someone who offers you food, a cut in line at the store, or even a glass or water. Instead, see the emotion behind it – love, kindness, concern. Not everyone is as emotional as I am, or as expressive. Everyone shows love in their own way. Let’s look deeper to see how those around us are expressing their love this week. A glass of pink lemonade would fill my soul right now because of the love that filled the glass.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Couch Church

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I love couch church. Every Sunday morning at 9 am, my kids and I are on the couch participating in church. I get up early to make breakfast, which we eat during the service. Normally, we are scattered on Sunday mornings. Now that church is on the couch, we all sit together and even have a discussion afterwards. It has been wonderful to be gathered together as a family while we can’t gather in person with our church.

I have a few friends who are doing church online but many watch after the fact rather than live. Some friends are watching multiple sermons over multiple days. Even others are watching regular TV preachers who have done their services on TV for years. Whatever you are doing, keep it up. If you have fallen out of the practice of church, now is the best time to jump back in.

I encourage you to worship together as a family, if possible. I was surprised when my teenagers choose the 9 am service when there was an 11 am option too. Pick a service time that works for the entire family. Grab your spot on the couch and rejoin your church fellowship. Treat your online service just like church. Pay attention. No electronic devices, except for the Bible app. After the service, fellowship as a family. Have a meal, during or after. Ask each other what spoke to them during the service. Make it a weekly commitment. If you can’t attend in person, still attend together as a family.

I’d love to hear how everyone is doing church during this season. Please share in the comments. Also, include the link to your church’s website so we can join you some Sunday via internet. We don’t know when our church will return to meeting in person. Until then, we are committed as a family to worship together every Sunday. A bit of normalcy in a very non-normal time has been very helpful.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

P.S. My church is live at live.madeforfellowship.com on Saturdays at 5pm, Sundays at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am and 5 pm.