There is a way out

The first time I heard the name Ashley Madison I remember thinking to myself, “Oooh, I want some chocolate donuts.”

I was quickly told that I was thinking of another Madison named Dolly. Her cousin Ashley, well, she’s more of a black sheep in that family.

Although the media has been awash with reports of the 32 million names hacked and then released from the “Hey let’s destroy our family” website where married folks gather to have an affair, I’ve been mostly disinterested.

Until today.

A pastor friend called me today and asked for some advice. It had come to light that the names of some of those in his church are… on the list.

Well, we had a good and redemptive conversation, but after hanging up I began to think about things closer to home.

I have no doubt; there will be people I know on the list. In fact, it would be foolish of me to believe otherwise.

  • We have decimated the value and meaning of marriage in our culture.
  • We’ve made pornography more accessible than a Big Mac.
  • We have robbed the gift of sex of its sacredness and made it as flippant as a weekend excursion.
  • The marriage and divorce stats from inside the church, don’t show a people any different from those outside the church.

So, once again, the whole mess doesn’t surprise me.

I am just thankful there aren’t other sites spilling the beans on us.

If ever got hacked, and all those pictures of me binge Twinkie eating ever got out… I’d be in serious trouble.

Let’s hope never gets busted or… well, they might be ok. Those folks probably never got around to signing up.

I know, you’re probably thinking I am minimizing the wrongs being committed through this whole Ashley Madison mess. You’re wrong, I am trying to do just the opposite.

I want us to begin to consider all sin, the ones we consider “little stuff” up through the majors, to be vile, offensive, destructive and worthy of immediate and corrective action.

1 John 1:8-10 says,

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Sin is a disease we all share, and it’s serious business.

We have a collective sense of moral outrage at what has happened, with the exception of about 32 million people I would guess, but it’s too little, too late.

We got to this place because we have collectively starting accepting the “little stuff.” What was inappropriate on TV 20 years ago is on Cartoon Network today. The clothes we buy for our kids today wouldn’t have passed inspection at any school in the country 15 years ago. Ten years ago the language reserved for bathroom stalls is now prefixed with a hashtag or suffixed with .com.

We are all to blame. We are all guilty. We are all in need.

I am a guilty sinner, and even though my name is not on some list for the world to gawk at, I confess that my heart, mind and life are corrupt and need of repair.

So, if you are on the list, or if your name is on a list only you know about, let me offer you the hope to which I cling.

There is a God. He loves you and is willing to forgive. If He weren’t, you’d be a burnt spot on the pavement already.

His plan is Jesus Christ. Not strict adherence to a moral code, but devotion to a person. Jesus paid a price so we wouldn’t have to, He provided a way we could never have found, and He offers us a way out of our mess… whether it’s adultery or Twinkies.

May we be reminded that sin is sin, and we don’t have the luxury of labeling some as worse than others. When we do that, we start the slippery slide to a place like we are today.

No matter how dark things may seem right now, there is Good News. There is a way out.
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Making the most of opportunity

What a great opportunity. I was invited to speak to all incoming freshmen at Sterling College on the topic of capitalizing on the spiritual opportunities of the college years.

The text was Mark 10:46-52

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You've got problems

I am attending a meeting this week in Atlanta… well, at least I hope I am.

Right now I am sitting in Dallas, stranded with about 300 of my newest friends. We should have been to Atlanta about…. wait for it… one minute ago, but here we sit in the Lone Star state.

It started with the captain saying they couldn’t close the forward cargo door and they were sending for a mechanic. I heard a joke a few rows up, something about getting a bigger hammer.

The immediate gaggle of passengers laughed.

But, the laughing faded into silence, which gave way to sighs, growing into murmurs, that eventually erupted in widespread contagious complaining… well, I can’t blame them too much.

We did sit on the runway for two hours.

It was 106 degrees.

People missed their connections.

Information was scarce.

The flight was oversold, no spare seats.

It wasn’t fun.

But, at the end of those two “faith provoking” hours they let us know that someone had finally gotten the door closed and we were on our way… kinda.

We taxied out to the runway, sat for a peculiar amount time before the captain came over the intercom just one more time.

“Folks, I really hate to tell you this, but I’m getting an excessively high oil temp reading on one of our engines and I am going to have to take us back to the gate.”

I can’t really think of another way to say this, but… people lost their minds.

Everybody tried booking another flight… nope, not gonna happen.

One guy ‘demanded’ information, from the poor lady who knew even less than we did.

And, the language was… well, flowery.

It was quite an uncomfortable episode, but honestly… a little entertaining (I know that’s just wrong, sorry).

My first thought personally was, “Hey, I’d rather be late and safe than on time and falling out the sky!”

Just a thought anyway.

I really kept it together, I was glad I didn’t go into the mob mentality, start foaming at the mouth and biting heads off of random airline employees… besides, I don’t use that kind of language. It’s hard to be too mouthy when you usually end a sentence with, “Can I get an amen?”

I began to think that I had finally arrived! Spiritually mature, finally.

You see, there’s that passage in Titus talking about older men where it says:

Titus 2:2 tESV)

2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Sober-minded, self controlled, dignified… yep, that’s me.

Except last week when I lost it when that GPS app stopped working.

Or, when I threw a private fit because I was having to say the same thing to the same person for the same reason for the thousandth time.

Or, when I raged on the steering wheel after I got caught in rush hour traffic… by the grain elevator.

Hmmm… so, maybe I haven’t arrived.

Still, I think I do know why I was able to let all the trouble roll on during this airport fiasco. Over my years of ministry I have learned to distinguish between real problems and first world problems.

When you have seen the absolute and prison-like devastation of poverty in a country like Haiti.

When you have felt though cold and cruel grip of repression while serving in “Eastern Europe.”

When you have first hand experienced with the isolation and persecution of a place in “Asia” where your beleifs are not the majority, they are not even tolerated… then you begin to see things differently.

Worst case scenario here in the airport is that we all spend the night here… in a perfectly safe building… with air conditioning… restaurants… and wifi.

Sometimes we think we have problems, but what most of us really have are inconveniences.

It would do us good every now and again to remember the things that make us mad, hostile, rude and miserable, are actually a privilege in other parts of, in fact most of, the world.

So, you’ve got problems, but they are first world problems.

Well, we should hear from the mechanics in about 10 minutes, and we’ll know our fate. Until then, I’ll just sit here typing on my Mac, eating my McDonald’s salad while I charge my phone… suffering for Jesus.

Pray for me…

God will not excuse our sin

A study of Nahum 1:3… don’t worry… it’s not what you think.

Listen, think, pray, comment and share… love you guys!

Nahum 1:3 (ESV)

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,

and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.

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