Perfectly Imperfect: Get Out?

Perfectly Imperfect
I came across this while reading for a class this week:

“I do not require my clients to be virtuous in order to continue in therapy. There would be few clients and few therapists if the standard of full moral integrity was imposed on all of us.” (Doherty, 1995)

That’s comforting, right? I mean, the reason most people seek counseling is because they are having trouble with their values, feeling, emotions, etc. So it makes sense that a counselor wouldn’t kick a client out because they’re not perfect! But the author also says there wouldn’t be many counselors either, if they were expected to be perfect. Hmm…

The church is like that… right? It should be. Could you imagine what it would be like if we had to be perfect in order to be a part of God’s family? I think sometimes we expect perfection, and we should most definitely try our best, but we’re just not. We need to stop expecting perfection out of imperfect people who just want to come worship God and have a church family to be a part of. This also goes for ministers, teachers, elders, and deacons… no person in the church, no one on this planet is perfect.

One big difference in the church and a counseling practice, is our Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) is perfect! But the same as an earthly counselor, he doesn’t expect us to be perfect, he understands us (Hebrews 2:17, 4:15). This isn’t an excuse to not strive to be perfect, to be like Jesus, what it is though is love. He loves us even though we’re not perfect. We need to love each other, even though we’re not perfect.

 

Doherty, W. J. (1995). Soul searching: why psychotherapy must promote moral responsibility.

Family Defender?

Again, I find myself not posting in quite sometime. This time its been over a year! I also haven’t been using this as a personal blog like I had planned. My intention was, and is, to share my thoughts as a Christian dad but I have really only been sharing devotional thoughts. Which are great and I’m not planning to stop with those types of articles, but I also want to share my everyday thoughts and concerns as a Christian dad and husband. One long standing thought of mine is family and self defense.

I have been avoiding this topic a bit because for some reason it becomes a hot button issue. It can degrade into arguments very easily, but we’re not going to do that here. I appreciate comments and your thoughts on the issue, but I don’t appreciate rudeness or arguments for arguments sake.

As I get older and my children get older, I find myself becoming more and more aware of my responsibility to defend them. I fall into a spiral of self doubt. Am I doing enough to keep them safe? What would I do if someone tried to hurt them? How would I respond if someone tried to take my child at the grocery store or at the mall? Could I even do anything? Do I have any skills or a plan to defend them? Or even myself? As a Christian, do I even have the ability or authority, to physically defend myself or my children? Am I still a child of God if I have to hurt or kill another person to defend my wife’s, children’s, or my own life?

We will often go to the book of Luke to justify our ability and need for protection. Jesus told his apostles to sell their cloaks and buy a sword if they didn’t already have one (Luke 22:36), so we assume that we also have the right to protect ourselves. I think we need to be careful to apply this to ourselves, Jesus reminded them in verse 35 that before they didn’t need to take anything like gear, money, or weapons on their missions to spread news about Jesus because he, the Son of God, provided those things for them. But, after he is crucified they would be going out into the world, past the borders of Israel, without his protection. He is telling them as you go out this time you are going to need to provide these things for yourself. I’m not saying that this precludes you and I today of needing protection, but in this case he is speaking specifically to a certain group of people in their current situation.

But take a look at Nehemiah, basically a governor, and his work in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.

And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

 

Nehemiah 4:11-14

Some people didn’t want to see the wall rebuilt, these people liked having an unguarded city and easy prey. Evil people. These people planned to sneak in and kill indiscriminately so the wall couldn’t be completed. The friendly Jews who lived in surrounding areas warned Nehemiah, so he made sure there were armed men hiding in wait, willing and ready to do violence, to protect those who were working. Then he charged the rest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to fight! Why? To protect their friends, their families and themselves.

Paul wrote to Timothy that a person doesn’t provide for his family he is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). Paul doesn’t specify what he means by provide, but I know my wife and I provide food, clothing, and shelter for our children. But shelter also needs safety and security, also know as defense.

But why? Why do I feel the need to defend my family? Why did Nehemiah want his people to defend themselves? Why did Jesus warn his followers they would need to take their personal safety into their own hands? Love. I love my family and want to be sure their safe – by any means at my disposal. Nehemiah loved his people, and wanted to see them safe. That included seeing them properly armed and a protective wall built. Jesus loved his followers, and he loves us, and wants to see us all safe from evil people.

John Lovell of the Warrior Poet Society has some great content about being a lover of people, willing learn how to and to do violence to protect innocent people from the evil people of the world.

How big is a Mustard Seed?

Moses grew up as a prince in the then world power of Egypt. He ran away after he killed an Egyptian slave master in defense of a Hebrew slave. Moses settled in Midian, became a shepherd, and started a family. One day he was called by God to go back to Egypt and lead his fellow Hebrews to freedom in Canaan. Moses came up with several excuses why he couldn’t do what God had asked: “they won’t believe me”, “they won’t listen to me”, “I’m not a good public speaker”, and so on. But a question Moses asked God is interesting. He asked, “Who am I?” It seems that Moses didn’t think he had what it would take to do what God called him to do. He lacked faith in himself, he lacked self-esteem, he seemed to feel like he wasn’t worthy to take on the task. But mostly, he lacked faith in God.

But look at Elijah. Elijah took on 450 so called prophets of the false god Baal in a battle of faith on Mount Carmel. He was so bold and courageous that he mocked the prophets, and their god, when they were unable to bring supernatural fire down to burn their sacrifice. When it came to Elijah’s turn, he prayed to God to bring fire from heaven and show who the one true God was. He didn’t just hope or think that God would respond, he knew it. He knew it and believed it with every fiber of his being! He had a mountain of faith in God’s power, and God delivered in a spectacular way.

Who do you feel like most days? Do you feel like you can’t do what Jesus asks of us and share his good news? Do you lack the faith to change the world?

When some followers of Jesus couldn’t cast a demon out of a boy, they asked Him why. He told them they lacked faith. Then He said that if they only had faith the size of a mustard seed they could move mountains. Did you read that, they could move mountains!

We don’t need to lead a nation to freedom, face down idolatrous hordes, slay a giant, or build a boat to change the world. We only need faith the size of a mustard seed.

How do we grow our faith? Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians in Rome that faith is built by hearing God’s Word preached. We need to worship and study to grow our faith. Solomon prayed for wisdom, we also need to spend time in prayer and be asking for the Spirit to strengthen our faith. Pray for ourselves, pray for each other, pray for the church, just pray!

What could you do with faith the size of a mustard seed?

Jonah, a Rusty Gate, and Me

The Biblical account of Jonah has some crazy action! Jonah ran from God, got tossed overboard in a storm, swallowed by a giant fish, vomited out onto land, then finally preached God’s message in a very dangerous city, in a very dangerous country. The people living the city were so vile, that God had planned to destroy them if they didn’t change their ways! Jonah delivered the message to them and God’s transforming word did its work and they repented! God decided not to destroy them, and this made Jonah happy that he finally performed his God given duties. Right? No!

In fact, “it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” (Jonah 4:1) Jonah had a lot of things going into the mission field of Nineveh. He had God on his side, he had a life saving, soul preserving message from God. Through Jonah, God saved many souls on that day! But Jonah was also missing a few things. Things like: compassion, grace, empathy, and love!

In 1 Corinthians 13:1 Paul wrote, “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.”  Jonah spoke with more than human eloquence and angelic ecstasy, he spoke with the authority and might of God! But he did not love. Paul would go on to write, “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” Jonah did end up doing what he was told, he preached God’s life saving message and saved many souls, but he gained nothing. He was spiritually bankrupt! Because he did not love.

Are we any different? I can also go the ends of the earth, or the end of my street, and spread to gospel because it’s what I’m “supposed to do”. But just like a smile that never reaches my eyes, if the gospel never reaches my heart, I don’t benefit at all from the work I do! That’s called going through the motions. The people I teach may end up obeying the gospel and become saved, but if I don’t love them as I teach and preach, I will be lost!

So today, as I labor in God’s Kingdom, I need to evaluate myself. Every word I say, every action I take, every decision that I make, every thought I think… are they done with love?

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Don’t be a clanging cymbal, noisy gong, or a creaking rusty gate! Speak the truth and love (Ephesians 4:15)! 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Have a great week!

Get up, Bambi!

get_up_bambi

There’s a scene from Walt Disney’s 1942 classic, Bambi, where the titular young deer is laying down tired, wounded, and alone as a wildfire races toward him. The Great Prince of the Forest, and Bambi’s father, calls out to him, “Get up, Bambi! Get up! You must get up!” Bambi’s father could see what he couldn’t see for himself, the imminent danger he was in and that he would certainly die if he didn’t pick himself up off the ground and move.

1 Kings 19 shows us a picture of the prophet Elijah. He had just won a great victory in a spiritual battle with the prophets of Baal, a false Canaanite god. Queen Jezebel, the evil wife of King Ahab, heard about the defeat of her prophets and chased after Elijah to kill him! Tired, scared, and seemingly alone, Elijah took up residence in a cave in the wilderness and laid down, for good. God came to him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah explained that he was tired and that he was the only person in Israel that was still loyal to him. God told Elijah that there were at least 7,000 Israelites who were still loyal to their God, and he gave Elijah a list of things to do, including to train Elisha, his replacement. God basically said get up, Elijah! Get up!

We as Christians are also warned of dangers around us. Paul warns us of false teachers, who want to destroy us from the inside. Peter warns us about the devil, who stalks us, hunting to find a person who he can devour! We may want lay down under the pressure and strain of spiritual battle, feeling wounded, lost, and alone. But we are never alone. Just like Elijah, there are those who are loyal to our God, our Christian family who we can lean on and they can lean on us. We have Jesus who we can cast our cares onto, we have the Spirit who guides us and makes intercession for us, and we have the Father who forgives us and watches over us.

So get up, Christian! Get up! You must get up! There is work to do, let’s go together and do it!

The Update Blog

Well, its been some time since my last blog post! A lot has changed since November of 2015. Allow me to fill you in…

If you read my previous entry about life changes ahead, those changes did indeed happen! God has blessed my family and I with the opportunity to work with the Westside Church of Christ in Alvin, TX. I have been the full-time Family Life and Youth Minister since April of 2016. Aside from the challenges of moving across the country, renting then buying a house, and getting to know teenagers who didn’t want to see their old youth minister leave, things are great! We love the congregation and don’t plan to leave until they throw us out!

I have separated from active duty service in the Air Force and have joined the AF Reserve. I opted to go back into aircraft maintenance. I travel about 6 hours to attend drill, but I decided to do that rather than retrain again (6 months in technical training) to go into a new job closer to home.

I’m still plugging away at my bachelor’s degree of Bible/Ministry at Amridge University. I’m almost there, if all goes well I should finish my coursework this fall and graduate spring of 2018! Next will be my master’s in professional counseling.

Next order of business, I’m thinking of changing my blog name to something more descriptive. I hope that my followers won’t have to update their links or re-follow me, I’ll have to to some more research about that.

I hope to be posting more blogs soon, maybe not weekly, but more regularly.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

Should we make a mess so allowance can abound?

Closet Nightmare!My wife and I are just starting an “allowance” for our kids, more like a chore incentive program. They do their chores, they earn a little spending money. My 5 year old son was looking for his remote control ‘Mater and said it was at the bottom of his closet, which is a nightmare! I told him not to make a huge mess, his reply: “Its ok, if I make a mess I can clean it up and get some money!” I told him that’s not how it works, you can’t create the mess on purpose just to clean it up and get some money.

Paul said something very similar to the Christians in Rome:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means!

Romans 6:1-2a

 We have a gift of grace from God, but if we sin intentionally knowing that we can ask for forgiveness and He will forgive, we are wrong! That’s not how it works! Just like my son with his intentional mess, we also can’t make an intentional spiritual mess and expect to be forgiven! Of course we will all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), but if we do our best to walk the Christian walk, and to be Christlike, then God will forgive our sins (1 John 1:5-9).

 

I pray that y’all have a great day!