Tag Archives: Sin

The Unleavening

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What is the leaven in our lives?  What holds us back from seeing the glory of the Lord and the blessings we have?  What keeps us from moving forward?  What is it that makes us stop and be fearful?  Can we do better?  Can we change our perspective from fear, anger, hatred and bitterness to security, love and thankfulness?

Thinking of these questions and doing some soul searching is not a negative, it’s a positive.  Many times over I ponder these questions in my own life.  I like to think of it as an accountability test.  By evaluating that in my life that causes me to stumble, I am able to move forward with hard work, one step at a time.  Searching the true notions of the mind and the desires of the heart I can reach a different perspective than that which tries to rule over me.   I am flawed through sin.  I know it, I recognize it, I act upon it to try and change it.  I am not perfect, yet I am conscious of the failure within self,  driven by the power of this earth.

Acknowledging that there is yeast in my life and that it  is thick enough to hold me back,  allows me to seek out the truth behind what drives me.   Sometimes, I find that anger and bitterness are the ingredients in which the yeast grows and has progressed to a point that needs clean up.  I equate it to making bread.  If ever you have worked with yeast you know what I’m talking about.  If not, let me explain.  When you take a mixing bowl of warm water, add a little bit of honey and then add in a tablespoon of yeast you get the pleasure of watching it foam.  The yeast begins to grow in the water, yet when you add it to flour and baking powder it takes off and is what makes baked goods rise.  If you use too much, a loaf of bread can ooze right out of the pan before it is baked.  The warmth of baking allows the yeast to rise even more before it stops.  My great grandmother used to say that the yeast in bread is still active for a full day after baking.  (I thank my mom for remembering that and sharing that story all these years.)  Yeast is not in one small part of the loaf, it grows throughout, making the entire loaf rise.  They call it the  leavening of the bread.

I imagine Satan kneading that sin throughout.  Just like kneading the bread to make sure that the yeast is spread throughout the impending loaf, Satan does the same thing.   He tries to make sure that every aspect of life is covered in sin, allowing it grow within so that one is unable to see through the over growth.  So now what?  How does one remove the yeast?

1Corinthians 5:7-13
7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

First off, recognition.   Secondly,  repentance.  Thirdly, change.  Only through the Lord Jesus Christ can this happen. There is no one else that can do this.  Unfortunately, being the humans that we are, we are led by either the ruler of this world or by the creator of all things.  If we are chosen by God, we are led by Him, if not we are led by the ruler of this world, Satan.  More recently, I have been given privilege to see just how awful the yeast of deceit is.  Through hatred, bitterness and anger two occasions have had me realizing that I myself am also experiencing the beginning stages of that which holds me back from the blessing of knowing the fullness of the Lord Jesus Christ.  First step, recognition.

Second, repentance.  I have been praying that the Lord show me my sinfulness, the nature of my own self, and the lies that Satan is trying to make me believe.  I have been asking for forgiveness and for restoration of my soul and for the Lord to take away that which Satan is trying to grow within my being.

Third, change.  This is by far the hardest part.  To flatten the leavening process, to clean it out of my life and to make sure that I remember my life is unleavened through the death of Jesus Christ.  To change means to do things of which make the human psyche nervous, uncomfortable, and seemingly  fearful.  However, with the power of prayer and the strength of the Lord, peace, calmness and perseverance are active within the search for a life unleavened.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7                                                                                            6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Sin has no stronghold on my life.  Yes I am still a sinner.  Yes I still have a sinful nature, however, it is not a stronghold that can overcome the good in which the Lord has within me.  I am renewed, I am restored and I am strong with him as the one who kneads me.  There is not room for the yeast that Satan tries to throw into the mix.

There is no room for hatred, bitterness and anger.  There is however, more room for truth.  Truth in who I am to be with the Lord leading.  If I trust in the desires of the heart and notions of mind more than that which He  instills in me, than I am wasted away with rot from the yeast that continues to grow.  So, although difficult, perseverance to change is the key to the restoration of my soul.  That of which I do not take lightly.

Reader, I hope that you will benefit from my own learning experience and that you will evaluate the yeast in your life.  Cleansing out that which holds you back from a thankful heart, a steadiness ready to take on the sin within, and a mind that tries to remind of that which is of no use moving forward.  Guard yourself from the sprinkling of the yeast.  Do not let the ingredients blend together and through prayer keep yourself unleavened.

 

Judgement Of Self

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Trials in our lives come in many shapes, sizes and severities.    The type of trial in our lives can sometimes be so  overwhelming to the soul that if not managed properly can turn our hearts toward bitterness, defeat, and death.

Starting this blog 2 years ago, it was an avenue to express myself during a trial of illness.  It has been a wonderful way of expression and a way to reach out to others so that I can share my own experience in overcoming and accepting.  My illness was only one of many trials I have had to overcome in my life and was certainly not the worst.   With great encouragement I found that the Lord never left my side and I was confident of His presence over my life and that of my family.  Just as He had in other, more devastating times.  With the help of a handful of wonderful sisters in Christ I had fellowship, with the daily hands on help of my family I was cared for physically, and I was nourished daily in the Word by the faith that tenders my heart.

That being said, I was taken aback by an assumption made that I was in need of feeding due to my lack of faith and or doubts that my illness had provoked.  What?  Really?  As I pondered this assumption by a loving soul, I began to pray about it and ask those closest to me at that time if that was truly what I had shown to others.  Politely they replied the opposite, which then had me questioning myself and if I had been truly honest with my internal feelings.  I had to take what was implied, consider what had been true to others who actually spent time with me during that time and take an observation of my own mind, heart and faith.   The similarities of Job and his strength turning to doubt because of assumptions became very evident to me in a very short amount of time.  Prayerfully with thanksgiving, I was reassured with my past prayer journaling  and my blogging.

As the days passed in my dwelling on this, I began to make my own judgements and fell into sin making assumptions of someone else’s intentions, which I should not have.  I began to pray over this and with great comfort felt convicted that the judgement someone placed over me helped me to realize that I too am capable of and do judge others.  As that one conversation sparked a hurt in me, I began to consider others  and judge them as I had been judged.  It, in my mind, began to look like a merry go round without an end.  The hurt I felt, was being passed on to others through my own judging.  Not acceptable!

I feel that the privilege of knowing how I was perceived by someone outside of my caring few was that I was able to see myself pridefully begin to judge others as less than myself, including the person that made an inaccurate assumption about my own trial and my faith.   Painful as it may sound, I see it as a blessing.  I have thus been able to pray about it, repent for it, and pray for those who I have judged and for those who judge me.  I also have had the blessing of wanting to do more to set an example that would glorify God in my healing and overcoming.  For many do not know that which lies in my heart and that which the Lord has placed in my path.  Just as sweetly as the Lord has guided me through, I pray that He will also guide those who struggle, not just with trials, yet also with doubt and sin.

I thank the Lord for this lesson, as sad as it made me feel.   I consider it to be a blessing that I was shown my own sin through that which was presented by another.

In reading C.H. Surgeon – A Popular Exposition to the Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 7, I found my observation of such matters reassuring.  That my own unpleasing thoughts were hypocritical and that which deserved to be repented for and dealt with.

Verses 1-6
Matthew 7:1-2. Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Use your judgment, of course: the verse implies that you will judge in a right sense. But do not indulge the criticizing faculty upon others in censorious manner, or as if you were set in authority, and had a right to dispense judgment among your fellows. If you impute motives, and pretend to read hearts, others will do the same towards you. A hard and censorious behaviour is sure to provoke reprisals. Those around you will pick up the peck measure you have been using, and measure your corn with it. You do not object to men forming a fair opinion of your character, neither are you forbidden to do the same towards them, but as you would object to their sitting in judgment upon you, do not sit in judgment upon them. This is not the day of judgment, neither are we his Majesty’s judges, and therefore we may not anticipate the time appointed for the final assize, nor usurp the prerogatives of the Judge of all the earth. Surely, if I know myself aright, I need not send my judgment upon circuit to try other men, for I can give it full occupation in my own Court of Conscience to try the traitors within my own bosom.
Matthew 7:3-5. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cut out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

The judging faculty is best employed at home. Our tendency is to spy out splinters in other men’s eyes, and not to see the beam in our own. Instead of beholding, with gratified gaze, the small fault of another, we should act reasonably if we penitently considered the greater fault of ourselves. It is the beam in our own eye which blinds us to our own wrong doing; but such blindness does not suffice to excuse us, since it evidently does not shut our eyes to the little error of our brother. Officiousness pretends to play the oculist; but in very truth it plays the fool. Fancy a man with a beam in his eye pretending to deal with so tender a part as the eye of another, and attempting to remove so tiny a thing as a mote or splinter! Is he not a hypocrite to pretend to be so concerned about other men’s eyes, and yet he never attends to his own? Jesus is gentle, but he calls that man a “hypocrite “ who fusses about small things in others and pays no attention to great matters at home in his own person. Our reformations must begin with ourselves, or they are not true, and do not spring from a right motive. Sin we may rebuke, but not if we indulge it. We may protest against evil, but not if we willfully practice it. The Pharisees were great at censuring, but slow at amending. Our Lord will not have his kingdom made up of hypocritical theorists, he calls for practical obedience to the rules of holiness. After we are ourselves sanctified, we are bound to be eyes to the blind, and correctors of unholy living; but not till then. Till we have personal piety, our preaching of godliness is sheer hypocrisy. May none of us provoke the Lord to say to us, “Thou hypocrite”!
Matthew 7:6. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

When men are evidently unable to perceive the purity of a great truth, do not set it before them. They are like mere dogs, and if you set holy things before them they will be provoked to “turn again and rend you”: holy things are not for the profane. “Without are dogs”: they must not be allowed to enter the holy place. When you are in the midst of the vicious, who are like “swine,” do not bring forth the precious mysteries of the faith, for they will despise them, and “trample them under their feet” in the mire.
You are not needlessly to provoke attack upon yourself, or upon the higher truths of the gospel. You are not to judge, but you are not to act without judgment. Count not men to be dogs or swine; but when they avow themselves to be such, or by their conduct act as if they were such, do not put occasions in their way for displaying their evil character. Saints are not to be simpletons; they are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools. Great King, how much wisdom thy precepts require! I need thee, not only to open my mouth, but also at times to keep it shut.

Prayer to remember:  Great King, how much wisdom thy precepts require! I need thee, not only to open my mouth, but also at times to keep it shut.

 

Individual Accountability or Systemic Problem?

We have had many discussions over the last few months about this very subject, topic and issue. We could not however, put it into words as well as these two men who inspire, lead and share the truth and word of God. I always wonder why more don’t go to scriptural truth, individual responsibility and individual accountability.

Hope you will read not only this blog, yet also Voddie’s in his own words.  (http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/thoughts-on-ferguson)                                      Yes this is controversial, however, both of these blogs from these two men sum up what should be the real issues at hand.  

(Reblogging from chantrynotes.wordpress.com.   Author: Tom Chantry 12/2/2014.)

What Voddie Said (and Didn’t)

riotsSo America is experiencing race riots again, which is simply awful.

My heart goes out to the people of Ferguson who are living this nightmare. My heart goes out to the police who risk their lives to protect ours. And my heart goes out to the Body of Christ, which is Black and White and Both and Neither, and in which we are expected to live as one.

Racial tension always exacerbates our struggle for unity, and racial violence does not bring out the best in any of us. Predictably, genuine Christian pastors of varying political, social, and cultural stripes have weighed in on the riots and their cause, and they have not agreed. Recriminations have followed. I have no desire to enter that fray.

In the midst of it, Voddie Baucham posted his thoughts on the Gospel Coalition blog, and while many have linked to his thoughts, it seems to me that most who have interacted or evaluated have either misunderstood or misrepresented his statements. It’s fairly obvious that most have read Baucham’s remarks through their own personal tinted goggles, so maybe I have also. But I’ll tell you what I think anyway, because if I’m reading him correctly, he has said some genuinely wonderful things.

But First, About Baucham

voddieVoddie Baucham is someone I hold in high esteem in spite of our differences. Prior to 2012 I only knew of him as the pastor from Texas who, while he holds my Confession of Faith, is also part of the family integrated worship movement – a position with which I have some rather sharp differences. (NB: This post isn’t on that subject, and neither will the comments be on that subject.) Quite honestly, I had read some things he wrote without ever realizing he was black. I think that is actually significant: Baucham is a pastor with a theological and ecclesiastical point of view, not a representative of a particular racial group.

In 2012 it suddenly mattered that Baucham was black. That was the year of the fateful Elephant Room II conference, in which Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald (remember when folks still thought of them as trustworthy evangelical leaders?) decided to embrace anti-trinitarian and prosperity heretic T.D. Jakes as a “Christian Brother.” Baucham was invited to participate in the conference, initially agreed, and then withdrew. He was still slated to speak at another conference at MacDonald’s Illinois church, but that fell through over Baucham’s vocal criticism of ER2. His own explanation of these events is still available here.

So what did race have to do with all this? Simply this: Jakes is also black, and apparently Baucham was expected to take his “side” out of racial solidarity. Some black pastors argued that anyone who has a problem with Jakes is a racist,theology be damned. MacDonald went so far as to post an incredibly offensive video in which he sat down with two race-baiting pastors. Baucham was aware of all this; he linked to the above linked article himself. However, he was uninterested in being identified as a “black pastor” if that meant being somewhatless identified as a “Christian pastor.” Put another way, Baucham proved in a difficult hour that Christian unity is around the gospel, not around our skin. (He wasn’t alone in this; Thabiti Anyabwile took a similar stand.) Perhaps this is why so many were clamoring for Baucham to weigh in on Ferguson.

What Baucham Said

Regardless of the reason, the clamoring commenced with the first (August) protests in Ferguson. Baucham’s response was finally published last week. What follows is my own summary and interaction with what I heard. You really shouldn’t read it without reading his article first, because – as I said above – I may be wrong.

  1. A pastor’s work is in his church.

Apparently a lot of people asked for Baucham’s thoughts (“asked” may be too weak a word) in August, but for three months he said nothing. The reason is that he is a pastor and a father, roles he mentions in his brief post. If you’re not one of his kids or a member of his church, you have less claim on his time than the child struggling with math homework or the church member grieving over a lost child or a deceased spouse. Quite frankly, our desire to know what the “black pastor” thinks about Ferguson is less important than their need for the true spiritual ministry of a Christian pastor.

If you can’t grasp the significance of this point, you may as well skip the rest of Baucham’s essay. It isn’t just that he delayed his reaction; that is missing the point. He doesn’t appear to have been waiting for the Grand Jury; he merely spoke when he believed his voice as a Christian minister could be useful. He didn’t approach Ferguson as a politician, or as a social scientist, or as a political commentator, because he isn’t any of those things. He didn’t even approach it as a black man per se, or even as an American. He approached it as a pastor, asking what the Word of God says to this situation. He has to be evaluated on that basis. He apparently knows and accepts the calling of Christ communicated through His church. He spoke as a “steward of the mysteries of God,” which is rare enough in this instance. Perhaps that is why so many have misunderstood him.

  1. In a sinful world, personal sin contributes to systemic sin.

At no point did Baucham suggest that there are no systemic problems facing the black community. He identified violence and criminality, immorality and fatherlessness, and indeed, latent racism which at times is manifested through official harassment from law enforcement. Each of these is a real problem which Baucham acknowledged.

However, he does not allow the category of “systemic problem” to excuse the real culprit: the individual sinner. If systemic racism pulled over black drivers without warrant, then racist cops would have an excuse, wouldn’t they? It’s the system; and they are just cogs in the machine. Or to take another example, if systemic racism beat Rodney King senseless in the street, then the officers who held the batons have an excuse. Baucham would have nothing of this; he points the finger at the individual sinner.

This is consistent with his approach as a Christian minister. The Bible addresses our sin individually and insists that we own up to it individually. A steward of the divine mysteries doesn’t get to say that black criminality is responsible for crime. Social scientists can debate that ad nauseum, but the Bible holds the criminal guilty. Similarly, he can’t hold systemic racism culpable for sin; it is the racist sinner who is guilty.

At the same time, Baucham is dead honest about the realities: cumulative sin makes up a culture of sin, and that culture affects us. In America, criminality, fatherlessness, and racism particularly affect black men in a way they do not affect white men, and Baucham never for a moment denies that. But what message does he speak to those living in that reality?

  1. Jesus came to redeem sinners in the world, not to transform the world.

I don’t see many commenting on the one passage of Scripture Baucham chose to highlight: 1 Peter 3:15ff, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” The verse speaks of gospel: Christ the Lord, the holy one, is the hope that is in us. Before Fox News cut him off, Baucham was beginning to proclaim the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is that hope? Perhaps what bothers everyone from Fox to MSNBC is that Baucham doesn’t seem to think the gospel has anything to do with healing America. Instead, the gospel of Jesus Christ takes away personal guilt for personal sin while allowing the individual to turn to a holy life even while living in a broken and imperfect world. It’s a good thing that this is the gospel we have if Baucham is right to say that God always holds individuals accountable for their sin!

  1. God is concerned with how we live under injustice, not with whether we overturn injustice.

But doesn’t the gospel also address systemic cultural problems? Doesn’t it lay out a blueprint for wiping out systemic sin and ushering in an ideal kingdom on this earth? This is simply taken for granted by the transformationalists on the right and the left. It is, however, quite wrong, and Baucham appears to grasp that fact.

As an American Christian, I’ve been troubled by the failure of the Bible to condemn slavery. It seems obvious that a faith which teaches the universal image-bearing quality of all mankind, the disappearance of race and class within the church, and the condemnation of God against “enslavers” would be a faith which would seek to overturn the institution of slavery. Yet the Bible instead tells slaves and slaveholders how to live righteously within that putrid system. Either God incomprehensibly approves a system which so evidently breaks His law at multiple points, or else we are forced to admit that the point of the gospel was never cultural transformation. It troubles me, and it must be absolutely maddening to black American Christians, but there it is. The Bible says what it says, and it doesn’t say what it doesn’t say.

So here’s the point: if the Bible fails to lay out a blueprint for abolition, why would it lay out a blueprint to overturn systemic racism, or criminality, or fatherlessness? Instead, the Bible speaks of how we are to live as Christian individuals in an unjust world: loving our neighbors of every race, abiding by the laws, and owning up to our family responsibilities.

andyPart of what the Bible says – part which very much applies in Ferguson this week, as well as whatever city you live in – is that we are to submit to the governing authorities. Many are outraged that Baucham went there, insisting that it is somehow less applicable in the midst of America’s racial injustice. It is as though they think the Apostle Paul wrote those words to the Saints in Mayberry – that fictional South in which there were no black people, there was no oppressed class, and the governing authority didn’t bother to ever carry his ‘sword’ with him outside the office because he could rely on his backwoods charm to win the day. Of course we should submit to that governing authority, but what do you expect when the system is as messed up as ours? As you know, the Apostle actually wrote those words to “those in [Nero’s] Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints,” so yes, it probably does apply in Ferguson, too.

If the Roman Christians were to render obedience to Nero, and if the black residents of Ferguson are to render obedience to their predominantly white police force, then perhaps those verses also mean something to Christians living under persecution throughout the world – and perhaps soon here as well. We need to get this issue right, and soon, for our own sakes. Baucham points us to the right place: God’s concern that we, people of the Holy Christ, live as holy in an unholy world. That’s what he tells his kids and his church members (Remember them? This is all about them, in his eyes), and it’s what he tells us also.

  1. Those who break God’s laws are without excuse and will suffer accordingly.

Baucham also sees a corrective lesson in this story. Remember, he has acknowledged that systemic racism exists, and that sometimes cops are the individuals who are personally culpable for it. He passes no judgment on Darrin Wilson, whom he has never met. He does, however pass judgment on Michael Brown, based on the evidence now publically available and on his own two eyes.

This seems to have upset everybody, but let’s just wait a moment and think about it in light of everything else Baucham said. Let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that Officer Wilson is one of the racist cops, that he profiled Brown unfairly, and that he precipitated the situation. Baucham is neither a supervisor in the police force nor a member of the Grand Jury. He is, as he reminds us again, a “father of seven black men.” He looks on this situation in light of God’s command to live a holy life even in the midst of injustice, and he says to his kids, “This is what a holy life doesn’t look like. Don’t rob stores. Don’t ignore police orders. Don’t attack the police and try to grab their guns. It isn’t how Christ calls you to live. Furthermore, if you do these things, recognize that you live in a world where divine justice is very real, and if you reap what you sow, whom will you blame but yourself? ”

This has absolutely nothing to do with whether there is racism in America (there is, and Baucham acknowledged it) or on the Ferguson police force (there may be, but Baucham has never been there and can’t say).   It is simply a biblical truism.

What Everybody Heard

That is what I heard, but it seems I’m in a small minority here. Many heard something different.

The Left and Baucham

Many on the left, including some evangelical Christians, who are either defined by the political left or who are highly desirous of being thought of as “racially sensitive,” heard only that Baucham went off script. He didn’t say the things that black men are supposed to say in this circumstance. (They’re right; he wasn’t trying. He’s a Christian pastor.)

In the worst instances of criticism Baucham has been accused of selling out his people. (He didn’t; as one of ‘his people,’ I can attest to that!) Others have suggested that he is racially insensitive, which is a truly stunning accusation for white pastors and writers to make! Many worry that he has only given cover to those who want to grab onto his words to support their own white/right-wing political agenda. But did he?

The Right and Baucham

In fact, I think there are some who have latched on to Baucham’s words as vindication of the idea that systemic racism is not a real problem and that the body politic should simply move on. He actually never said that, either; he asserted that racism is a real problem in America. Presumably he would like to see that change, and even would like to see it addressed intelligently in America. The thing is, he’s a steward of the mysteries of God, and the magical key to solve systemic racism isn’t one of those mysteries.fox

What the right doesn’t seem to want to hear any more than the left is Baucham’s actual message: that sinners sin but that Jesus saves. After all, it was Fox News that cut him off just as he began to go “off message” and talk about the gospel – the real gospel. The real gospel isn’t about political conservatism any more than it’s about racial justice. The real gospel is about spectacular grace offered to spectacular sinners, of which Baucham, you, and I are three of the worst.

The Ultimate Irony

What I find truly amusing in all of this is that none of it has actually revealed anything political about Voddie Baucham. I don’t know how Voddie votes. I don’t care how Voddie votes. Voddie apparently isn’t too interested in broadcasting how Voddie votes. His mission is to proclaim a King whose Kingdom is not of this world.