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Good Guardrails

Proverbs 13:6

Righteousness guards the person of integrity,

but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

You want to know another thing that breaks my heart? The unending number of stories about pastors and ministry leaders who lead sinful, even criminal double lives. There isn’t much out there that can get my blood boiling more than hearing about men who use their position of authority to abuse innocent people under the guise of ministry. There are too many to even name at this point.

But what made me do a double-take recently was the number of pastors on Twitter who, in response to the news about Ravi Zacharias, said things like, “This could easily have been any one of us.” If that’s the case, then get out of ministry and get help. I understand wanting to extend grace and even empathy, but he is guilty of a pattern of criminally abusive sexual predation. That doesn’t just happen.

Today’s verse from Proverbs reminds us how important boundaries are. Jesus didn’t just warn against murder and adultery. He warned against the corrupting power of anger and lust. Outward sinful actions always start in the battleground of the heart and mind.

“Righteousness guards the person of integrity.” Righteousness is all about doing the right thing – even when no one is watching. Joseph is a good example of this, maintaining his commitment to God in slavery and prison and Pharaoh’s palace. The church needs more men and women of integrity, those whose lives are consistent across all the spheres in which we operate. That starts in the heart and mind. Then we build patterns of behavior and guiding principles to protect us from the infiltration of sin.

“Wickedness overthrows the sinner.” When Cain was angry with Abel, God warned him, “Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Cain had a choice. We always have a choice in any given situation. God always provides a way out. Sin always promises more than it delivers. It takes more than it gives. If we think we can handle it, we’re deceiving ourselves.

The good news is every day we get to make a choice about what kind of person we want to be. You can always start over. Every day is a new chance.


Mother God

Isaiah 66:13

As a mother comforts her child,

so will I comfort you;

and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.

As I’m writing this, I’m sick. I checked my symptoms on the Mayo Clinic website. It’s not COVID, just a cold. But I’ve been pretty miserable for the last few days. Anytime I’m sick, I remember what it was like when I was younger. There’s no question that being sick as an adult is way worse than being sick as a kid. As an adult, I still have certain responsibilities I have to meet. As a kid, all I had to do was lie on the couch watching The Price Is Right. Plus, I had my mom to take care of me.

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More than Words

Psalm 19:14

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart

be pleasing in your sight,

Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Hey, remember that thing you said when you were angry, scared, or hungry? Remember how it caused someone to recoil in hurt? Honestly, you probably don’t, but I can guarantee they remember it.

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Sustaining Hope

Psalm 91:2

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

What a year it’s been. It has been almost a year to the day since we got the call informing us schools would be closed before and after spring break. We were nervous but hopeful that this would all be behind us by Easter, or by Summer, or by next school year, or by…. Yet here we are.

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The Little Way

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

I’ve got to keep it real. This passage is in the context of addressing slaves in the 1st Century Greco-Roman world. The amazing thing was slaves and masters worshiped in the same churches and shared a religion. The sad thing is that American slave owners abused this passage and others like it to keep African slaves in their place. These instructions were meant to revolutionize the slave-master relationship, leading to freedom and brotherhood. But like most things, if it can be used to oppress other people, we’ll find a way to do it.

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Love Above All

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

You know what breaks my heart? There are so many people out there who are not willing to even give Christianity or church a try because they’re afraid of being judged. They think they have to get their lives in order before jumping on the J-Train. And why do they think that? Because of us.

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Light the Way

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

What is the Bible? If we’re honest, the Holy Bible can be a very intimidating book. Have you ever tried reading through it? If you got past Leviticus, congratulations! Keep going, it gets better.

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Holy Spirit Cheat Sheet

John 14:26

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

A physics professor was giving a grueling final exam to his undergrad students. He told them they could bring one standard size sheet of paper to the exam. Whatever they could fit on the paper could be used to help them. Some students spent hours cramming as much information as possible in minuscule writing on the front and back of their piece of paper. On the day of the exam all the students frantically filed in and took their seats with their pencils, calculators, and cheat sheets. There was one student garnering strange looks because his paper was completely blank. Just before the exam began, he placed the paper on the floor next to his desk, and in walked another person – a graduate student working on her PhD in physics. She stood on the sheet of paper and helped the young man answer every question on the exam.

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Pruning Season

John 15:2

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesa so that it will be even more fruitful.

One of my favorite times of the year is early spring when I get to tend to my flower beds after a long, dormant winter. It’s always exciting to see plants which look dead burst into color with new life. But inevitably there will be some plants that need to be cut back or trimmed up in order to promote new, healthy growth.

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