It’s Better to Be Together Than to Win the Argument

So many things divide us.

Oh, I know, what a hot take. We’re divided? No way.

How often do we think this is OK, though? How often do we think, “Well, we disagree on something, and it makes us dislike each other,” and we just move on?

I admit that I’ve felt that way recently. There are brothers and sisters in Christ of mine with whom I have differences of opinion, and I really don’t feel like talking to them. I really don’t want to, have no desire to.

When I look at what Jesus says about unity and togetherness, my attitude is completely against His intention.

In our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in John 17, we see that Jesus’ intention for us is to be united, no matter what, because that’s how we show others He’s real. Verses 20-23:

I do not ask for these [his disciples] only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

In college, I heard several stories of some older friends of mine and how they came to Christ because they saw the way Christians loved one another and interacted with one another. They saw a community they wanted to be a part of, a family they wanted to join. So they investigated Jesus and saw He was what made those Christians different, what made them the way they were. It led to their salvation.

That’s a practical application of those underlined words in what Jesus said in the “high priestly prayer” in the Garden of Gethsemane. People believed in Jesus because of the community of believers.

Can we recapture that now? Is the church of America too far beyond that? It’s better to be together than win an argument. It always is. We can disagree on things and still love one another.

I hope that’s not too far gone.

 

 

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I’ve Looked Down That Road Too

So I work as a reporter at The Sanford Herald in Sanford, N.C., and my world was shaken yesterday.

We were told there was a police-involved shooting in downtown Sanford, a few hundred yards from our office. We were waiting for more information from police. Then the news came in. I’ll copy our report below:

A 28-year-old male from Sanford died Thursday afternoon of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to Sanford police.

The incident occurred around 1 p.m. in front of an abandoned business at the corner of Charlotte Avenue and First Street. Police cars blocked off a section of Charlotte Avenue while the man stood outside of the abandoned business. He was armed with a 9mm handgun and shot himself after communicating with police detectives and other civilians for about 90 minutes.

During the 90 minutes, nearby businesses closed down and people eating at La Dolce Vita Pizzeria, just yards away from the incident, were forced to stay inside the restaurant.

After the incident, EMS administered immediate medical assistance and he was transported to the emergency room at Central Carolina Hospital. He was pronounced dead by the medical examiner at the hospital.
 
The name of the man has not been released yet. Stay with The Herald for more.

I was shaken. Why? I’ve looked down that road before, that road of taking your own life, and it’s a dark one.

I didn’t get too far down that road, but I’ve heard stories of others that didn’t, like this young man. As I saw tributes on my Facebook feed to this guy yesterday, I saw that he was well-loved by people of all races, ages and political perspectives. People came together to remember him. I won’t print his name here out of respect for the fact I never met him, never knew him and had never even heard of him before yesterday.

But I want to believe that I’ve felt part of the pain that he felt. Obviously, something happened in his life or his mind that drove him to this drastic decision, and he felt he couldn’t go on.

I understand the impulse. I’ve struggled with enough in my life to make me think about that path — depression, anxiety, bullying, religious doubt, fear of man, despair over mistakes.

In this time, I struggle to think of what I could say to comfort those who might be hurting or mourning. I’ve never been intimately acquainted with someone who has taken their own life. I’ve known people — a former high school classmate, a distant relative, this man yesterday — that have done so. I’ve known people that have thought about it. Words just aren’t enough in this situation.

What I will recommend, and what I hope to do more of, is this: don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you OK?”

I think we’re nervous to get too invested in others’ lives for several reasons. First, we can be selfish people, and getting too much in others’ lives takes away time and attention to ourselves. Second, we don’t want to pry or make things awkward. And third, sometimes we just don’t know how to.

I’ll suggest it this way: Think about how often you start a conversation with someone and you ask, “How are you?” or in the case of Joey Tribbiani, “How you doin’?” It’s a common conversation starter. How often do you or the person you’re talking to say “fine” or “good”?

I recommend that we start taking the time to dig deeper into that. Obviously not with people you’ve just met or in professional settings, but with friends or relatives, be willing to ask, “How are you good?” or “How are you fine?” If they seem a little unsure, don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you OK? Is there anything I can help you with? Do you need to talk about something?”

The worst that can happen to you is that they say “no” and it’s a little awkward for a while. The best that can happen is that 1) you have a meaningful, productive conversation with another human being (talks that seem few and far between these days) and 2) you might bring a little hope and love into another person’s life.

Yeah, love. There’s not enough of that right now. And I’m not blaming the person’s family or friends or coworkers or whoever for not loving him enough. That’s not the point. I’m asking you who know people to show that love to others. Point them down the path of love.

I want to say one last thing, to send a message to my brother who passed on:

Yes, I know we never met, and you’ve probably never even heard my name. But you’re my brother because we’ve had similar struggles, I imagine. I love you, man. I hope and pray you’re in the arms of a Savior who loves you. I hope your life will spur others on to love. I hope your life will spur me on to love.

— Zach

God Paid for Me. What Am I Doing With That?

I like to buy music. Probably too much. But I like it. I like finding new music to listen to while I drive to work, while I write articles at work, if I’m just lounging around my apartment.

The newest music I bought was the album If I Never Speak Again by Hearts Like Lions. Before I bought the album, I listened through it on Spotify, considered music from their past (like their excellent EP These Hands) and weighed up how much I would listen to it. Considering those considerations, I bought it.

Worth it so far.

The question this leads me to is this: God paid for me. He put a lot of thought into it. Am I responding to that well?

Heavy.

It’s not a question in my mind that God paid the highest price for me. His Son died.

“But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” – Psalm 49:15

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10

But what am I doing with that payment? God paid His Son to set me free from the eternal bondage of sin. There’s two ways I need to learn how to respond, two ways I need to deal with this better.

First, I need to know that I am loved and forgiven. 

I can’t let myself continue to be burdened with my guilt and sinfulness. I need to recognize it, but not at the expense of remembering God loves me and cares for me. My sin sucks the joy out of me, yes, but it doesn’t take away the fact that He’s saved me from its eternal consequences. That is the most joyful and wonderful part of being paid for.

But that’s not it.

Second, I need to act like I’ve been paid for.

Just like Hearts Like Lions’ album is serving the purpose it’s been bought for right now, I need to serve the purpose I’ve been bought for.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

What am I doing with the body and the life God bought for me, what He bought from the depths of sin and Sheol? Am I making wise decisions? Am I fighting sin with all that I’ve got?

Far too often, the answer to those questions is no.

So asking the question “What does it mean to be that God paid for me?” can be both an encouragement and a challengeIt can remind us of our blessed position before God, but also our call to be more for Him.

Laziness and Idleness: They Suck

So I don’t like writing the words “suck” or “sucks.”

It has a lot of negative connotations, especially for the older crowd. And I get it. There’s a sexual meaning behind the work that leads to some people viewing it as a bad word in situations where it doesn’t involve a vacuum or a straw.

But when I say that laziness and idleness suck, I really mean it. I’m not just saying it casually.

A few minutes ago, as I was processing what I was going to write in this blog post, I did say it kind of casually. But as I thought about it more, I realized “suck” was the right word in more ways than one.

I’ve been looking for a job for a couple months now, and as such I’ve had a lot of time at home trying to fill up the hours. At first, it was fine because my wife was there and we had things to do to get our apartment set up or figure other things out as a newly-married couple. But now that she’s back working, I’ve been spending a lot more time at home by myself and it’s draining.

You’d think that having nothing to do would be the opposite of draining. Well, not entirely. I’ve been sitting around a lot, watching Netflix, reading and writing, sometimes doing something resembling exercise, some other stuff. I have been looking for a job, I promise, I’m not being completely useless. Sometimes I even see it as “rest” from the last year of working, wedding planning, getting married, all that.

But my days have been marked by idleness and laziness. And I don’t think I need to go too deep into how bad laziness. I’ll just share Proverbs 13:4 – “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Pretty straightforward. Laziness is basically ignoring what needs to be done and instead sitting around. Idleness is a little different. It means to do nothing that is beneficial. 

Lazy people can still do things. Lazy people can do meaningless things and still be lazy. But idle people do nothing. I’ve found myself being awful idle for much of these last few weeks.

And today, I realized how it sucks.

Idleness sucks because it’s wasting time.

This usage of the word “sucks” is more of the “this isn’t good” connotation.

Ephesians 5:15-16 say, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” The Bible warns us, encourages us to make the best use of our time. When we’re idle, we’re not utilizing our time the best way we could.

I’m not saying we have to be using all our spare time in serious prayer and Bible reading and meditation. Those things are at the very least definitely good and beneficial time fillers and at the very most absolutely crucial and essential to living life as a believer the right way.

But we need to think, well, I need to think about how to use my time so much better than I have been until I get a job. Until God provides employment for me, I need to be doing things that benefit my mind, heart, body and soul.

Idleness sucks focus and purpose from your life.

This is what idleness does to me. When I’m not putting my mind to good use, it leads to me losing focus on what is important. Temptation to sin becomes stronger, particularly sexual sin.

When the mind wanders, as it what often happens when you’re idle, it will attach to whatever seems most appealing at a base level. Unfortunately, men’s brains are more wired to think about sex. So we as men must be extremely careful to watch our minds, be careful where they wander. We just might end up in a place we don’t want to be.

Christians are called to be people of purpose and direction. And laziness sucks that very purpose and direction from us.

Rest is good. Idleness is not. Find the difference. Choose rest, then get back in the game. Choose purpose.

Because laziness and idleness suck.

The Same Old, Same Old Salvation Story, And How My Cynicism Got Punched in the Gut.

My church-related cynicism took a fresh hit of reality this weekend, one that was well-needed.

At a church event, the people leading it shared their testimonies. They were (separately) dealing with similar issues. They had heard of Jesus-related things when they were young, but they shoved it aside. Instead, they pursued drugs and alcohol, sex and sports, just about anything else to find happiness in life. Traumatic events shook them. Eventually, they found themselves ready to end their lives, sinking in desperate situations.

But God intervened. Maybe it was a Gideon Bible in a cheap motel room. Maybe it was a kind word from a family member or friend. Whatever it was, God intervened, pulled them out of the gutter and brought them to a place where they chose to follow Him for the rest of their lives.

When I heard these testimonies, I shook my head and thought, “Not again. How old and tired is this narrative? Are they just embellishing to make a bigger point? It couldn’t have been that bad.”

I carried that thought with me for an hour or so. See, not every salvation story is that way! I didn’t do drugs and drink alcohol in high school. I never hung with the wrong crowd. Not for as long as they did, at least, maybe for a couple hours at most before I realized they were the wrong crowd. So what does this have to do with me?

Eventually, I got reminded of something that’s amazing about God.

He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. And there’s something about that sameness that is ubiquitous in these kind of salvation stories.

See, humans are, at their core, the same. We’re all looking for the same thing. Happiness, fulfillment, contentment.

And, for the most part, we go to the same thing to find that. Attention from others, substances of some kind (drugs, porn, alcohol), pouring ourselves into our work.

And the same thing happens every time – it doesn’t fulfill it. It doesn’t do the trick. It doesn’t really help us.

So we all often find ourselves in the same basic situation – stuck, lost, hopeless. Maybe it turns to us wondering why we should even live anymore, but we essentially wonder what the point of life is.

And then God reaches us with the same message – “I love you. I care for you. In me, you will find rest for your souls and forgiveness for your sins. I am the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Then we ask God the same thing – to forgive us of our sins, come into our lives, make us whole again.

And the same thing that happened to everybody else who accepted Jesus happens to us: He does it.

I realized something else today as I was writing this: Those testimonies can perhaps be the most powerful because we can all find some way to relate to them. We may not have dabbled in drugs, but we’ve got something that gets us high but ultimately leaves us unfulfilled.

And that’s one of the many beauties of the Gospel. It relates to every single situation that man faces and provides the same answer: Jesus, on the cross, taking on sin, so we could live forgiven and fulfilled. The ultimate answer doesn’t need to adjust based on what we’re going through.

You know how one medicine doesn’t fix everything? You can’t take Advil to cure internal bleeding (at least I don’t think so). You don’t need chemotherapy for a flesh wound. That’s not how it works with Jesus. Every illness, every disease, every problem has the same cure.

That’s something to celebrate every time we hear the same old testimony of death to life. Because really, my testimony isn’t that different. I didn’t do drugs, but I was pursuing things that didn’t bring true fulfillment or joy. Then Jesus intervened, and I began to pursue the thing that did.

Cynicism can be a good thing in the right and proper context (that’s a whole other conversation for another time). But sometimes I’d wish it would just go away and let me rejoice in the beauty of the Gospel.

That’s the same thing I’ll be working on for a while.

So please, people, go on and testify.

God Isn’t the No. 1 Priority for Christians. Priority Is the Wrong Word.

Yes, I admit that title is a bit click-baity, but let me explain.

Back when I was in high school, we talked in youth group about priorities. What did we value in life more than anything else? What did we spend most of our time on?

I remember one time we did this exercise where we listed our priorities. I think I had my girlfriend at the time as No. 1, school as No. 2, food as No. 3 (some things never change) and God as No. 4. I was (sinfully) impressed with my own honesty as well as concerned.

Well, if I can be honest, I don’t know if that’s changed all that much. Of course I’d love to say He’s No. 1. But as I’ve thought about this language, this semantic, this rhetoric, there’s something missing and lacking, in my opinion, by discussing God and religion and relationship this way.

It’s most recently come to my life with my recent engagement. I told my fiancée the other day, “You’re my No. 1 priority.” I paused, thinking, “Wait, isn’t it supposed to be God/Jesus?”

Another thought then crossed my mind: “Isn’t God/Jesus supposed to be the basis for all my life?”

Isn’t it possible that the danger with listing things in priorities – and by no means is this a life-and-death danger, but just something curious and interesting – is that we can begin to compartmentalize our lives? We can say, “OK, God is No. 1. Then my schoolwork or job is No. 2. Then my friendships are No. 3.” Perhaps that’s the level of concern we should apply to those things. And it’s not absolutely terrible to think about life in that way.

But the compartmentalization can lead us to thinking that God doesn’t associate with our jobs, or our friendships don’t associate with our church life, or Jesus has nothing to do with how I eat. And that’s just not true.

In Colossians 1, Paul is writing about the preeminence of Christ. “He is the image of the invisible God,” v. 15 says, “the firstborn of all creation.” Verses 16-17 add this:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

The idea Paul deposits here is that Jesus is the beginning and the end, the basis for everything, the glue for everything. He’s the foundation, the rock. We talk about Jesus as the cornerstone of the Church (Ephesians 2:20). Everything was started through Him. Through Him, for Him. Everything, whether we see it or not, is tied into Jesus.

And the same goes for our lives. Compartmentalizing can become dangerous, especially when other people are involved.

It kinda depends on your life stage what your priorities are, what your attention goes to, but the idea that Jesus is the cornerstone of all your priorities helps keep in focus, I think, why you’re doing what you’re doing. If Jesus is the basis for your priorities instead of just another option on the list, you’re keeping in sight how important He really is and how He affects everything you do.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to make time in your day specifically for Jesus like you do for your spouse or keeping yourself clean. It’s the springboard for everything else. It’s the foundation. It’s the fuel. You can’t give the proper attention you need to your other priorities without getting something from Jesus first.

Yes, this is semantics and perhaps a bit nit-picky, but semantics are important. Semantics deals with the meanings of words and phrases. And since words and phrases are an everyday part of our lives, in our relationships with others, our relationship with ourself and our relationship with God, they’re important to be aware of.

So what should our priorities be? Family, friends, our jobs, our health, our ministry. Whatever God has put in front of us, whatever sustains us and whatever we care about the most.

And Jesus gives us reason and purpose to faithfully pursue each and every one of those things.

Don’t Give Up: Following Jesus Is Worth Every Single Second of Despair

Note: This is the finale of a series on the idea of not giving up in different scenarios. Previous posts include entries on workrelationships and depression & anxiety.

I’ve been on the brink of quitting following Christ several times.

The majority of those times have been the result of realizing how terrible I am at being obedient. Maybe I committed a particular sin that makes me feel like human feces. I think, “Well, wouldn’t it just be easier to quit? Wouldn’t it just be easier to ditch the whole thing and do my own thing? Sure wouldn’t feel so guilty all the time.”

The despair was rising, the depression setting in strong. I felt empty, gone, done. What’s the point anymore? If everything is just going to end up this way, where I’m frustrated about my proficiency at following Jesus, why keep going?

There are times I still feel this way. But I want to share with you something I learned, something that keeps me going.

It’s not about your “proficiency” at following Jesus. It’s simply following Him at all that is obedience.

Let me explain with a video game analogy.

I don’t play a lot of one-person shooter video games, but in the ones I’ve played, there’s usually some kind of quest or mission. You usually know how to get to the next step of the mission by an arrow or some kind of directional method that points you where to go next.

Let’s take the first game of this kind that I ever owned – Halo 3:ODST. Actually a pretty boss single-player mode for someone who’s not a video game geek. You start by landing on a planet looking for some missing teammates. How you progress through the levels is simply by killing aliens and reaching the next objective.

One of the beauties of these games it that there’s no set way you have to get through the levels. Obviously you have to achieve all the objectives, but you can die as many times as you must to achieve the mission. Each time you die, you get to start again.

Following Jesus is a lot like that.

Say you’re on a mission to overcome a certain sin. You enter the “level” – facing temptation. You fight it off for a little bit, but then you “die” – succumb to the temptation. In video games, you get a second chance, third chance, fourth chance, etc. In following Jesus, you get the same.

If you lie or cheat or boast or get drunk or commit sexual sin or whatever, following Christ means you get to get up and try again, just like Master Chief or Samus Aran or whatever video game hero you love the most.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “the righteous falls seven times and rises again.” Righteousness doesn’t show itself by perfection, but by rebounding from the fall. Every single time you stumble, Christian, you have the opportunity to get back up and you’re still loved by God. You can get back in the battle.

That’s why I encourage you here, in the final post of this series, to never give up in your walk with Jesus. God is on your side! He has given you the tools – His Holy Spirit, the Bible, brothers and sisters in Christ around you – to bounce back with strength. You won’t always bounce back well. I sure don’t. But you have the ability and power to bounce back.

So in this final post of the series (written about three weeks after the last post), I want to make one last encouragement to you. It’s something I’ve been trying to remember in my own life, something I need to grow in, something I need maturation in. So I’m right there with you.

Don’t give up. Please don’t give up. It’s not worth it.

Don’t ever give up.

Desiring Sex Doesn’t Make You a Pervert. It Makes You Human.

WARNING: This post is probably PG-13 on a rating scale for discussion about sex. So if you’re squeamish, you might want to skip this one. And, unfortunately, there’s no discussion of (500) Days of Summer, although it is one of my favorite movies of all-time.

I’ve recently started writing more about sex on this blog. I think it’s something that is a taboo subject in a lot of Christian circles, something we’re afraid to discuss, something that’s uncomfortable and awkward, something that needs to stay behind closed doors.

And while sex itself is a private occasion designed for a husband and wife, discussing it in public shouldn’t be so awkward to do. Sex is a human act just like eating, drinking, sleeping, etc. The only difference is that sex was designed for a specific circumstance in life, marriage between a man and a woman. Eating, drinking, sleeping, etc., has no such limits.

And because those limits are there, we assign limits to discussing it. I understand the need for some of those limits – I’m not going to try to have a conversation with my kids about it in the future when they’re 4. I’ll wait until I feel like they’re mature enough to handle a conversation about it, and then I’ll be open about it and have a real conversation.

One of the things that I’ll tell my son or daughter, whichever one I have, is that having sexual desire doesn’t make you a pervert or sexually deviant. It makes you human.

Because sex is something that’s so off-limits for single people, we get in this weird state where even thinking about sex can feel bad.

Here’s what I mean: I’ll be going along in my day, and a thought about sex comes up. Then I’ll kick myself because I shouldn’t be thinking about sex. Right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?

Not necessarily.

Dwelling on sexual thoughts with someone other than your wife – this includes your boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, fiancée – is sinful. It’s pursuing sexual pleasure in a means other than your wife. It can easily become something lustful, and that’s not good. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says,

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The “body” in this instance includes your brain, includes your mind. So the call in this verse includes this question: Are you glorifying God in your mind? By spending significant time thinking about sexual thoughts, imagining things, etc., you’re sinning. You’re not glorifying God.

However, what about the split second thought you have about desiring sex, that urge to find pleasure in a sexual way? Well, that’s just human.

It’s human to want sex. If God truly created all things, as we believe, He created human beings with parts and drives to have sexual intercourse with our spouses, with the one we’ve dedicated our lives to in marriage. We see it in Genesis 4:1 –

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.”

God is involved in our sex lives. He created us with a desire for it to build intimacy between man and wife, for pleasure and for procreation.

So desiring that doesn’t make you weird or perverted. It simply makes you human. So please don’t beat yourself up or think you’re weird just because you want to have sex with your husband or wife some day.

If your thought process goes beyond that and you start imagining it, then there’s a need to slow down, to clear your mind. We want to pursue purity in how we think about sex.

Purity doesn’t equal never having a thought about sex. It means thinking about sex properly in the proper context.

And that’s the war we wage.

Nothing Makes You a Christian But One Thing and One Thing Alone

What makes you who you are?

That’s one of the bigger questions that I’ve pondered in my life. It’s rooted in the always-perplexing “who are you?” question that led off the most recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. That voice, whatever it was, saying those words made me so excited.

Sorry, that was a sidetrack.

Anyways, identity is one of the most important things you’ll ever decide on in your life. Why are you the way that you are? Who made you that way? What made you that way? How do you define yourself? Huge questions.

People find the answer to those questions in a number of things. Even Christians, who have the most obvious answer to that question, seem to be searching most of the time.

Sometimes it’s in being a Republican. Sometimes it’s in being the best apologist for Jesus out there. Sometimes it’s in being a “‘liberal’ Gospel-centered believer.” Ouch, that kinda hit home. Sometimes it’s in the things we don’t do – not cussing, not drinking, not having sex before marriage, etc.

But there are also negative things we might use to define ourselves. Sometimes it’s how much we fail at following Christ. Sometimes it’s the thoughts we have that frustrate us because we know they’re not good thoughts. Sometimes it’s the flack we get from other people who criticize what we say. Sometimes it’s the flack we give ourselves, thinking it’s God that’s telling us those things.

Christian, you’re called that because of the blood of Jesus alone. That’s it.

Yup. Blood.

Blood shed on a cross, for you and for me. That’s what makes you a Christian. It’s not the prayer you pray. It’s not the confession. It’s not the heart change. Those things lead to Jesus’ blood being applied to you, your name etched in the Book of Life, your eternal destiny (a joyful one) sealed.

Signed, sealed. Never to be changed.

See, while we can wash the human blood off of us that comes out of our body when we get a cut or scrape our knee, the blood of Jesus is a permanent stain, a permanent mark. It means that, even when we feel the worst in the world, God still delights in us enough to not take that blood away.

It’d be easy for Him to do that, just as easy as it is for us to wipe blood off of us. All it would take is His finger.

But fortunately, it’s the same finger that gave us life at birth, and new life at rebirth. And that finger is too busy holding us up to push us down, to push us away.

Today I feel the weight of my sin. Today I feel the fire I’ve heaped onto my own lap (Proverbs 6:27). Today I feel like poop. Today the depression based on my sin is heavy, hard to carry.

But there’s God, holding me up, not taking me down. Because being one of His, being a Christian, doesn’t start, continue or finish based on my actions. It’s based on Jesus’ actions. The ones He took 2,000-plus years ago.

I need to embrace this more. I need to take two minutes every day and just think about this. It’s cliché, and in danger of becoming trite in my mind. Oh, I never wish it so.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.

Christians, let’s take a break from the political argument, the debates over theology, the culture war, all of it, and just think about this one thing talked about in the video below. It’s Christmas time, for crying out loud. Let’s be a little child.

Scars Need Healing. And We Can’t Heal Ourselves.

During my freshman year of high school, I got a scar on my right hand. It’s a line about an inch long about down the middle of my hand, starting near my wrist and going towards my fingers.

I remember when I got it that I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t go wash it or get a Band-Aid or anything. Typical guy thing, not needing help.

But that’s something I pondered this morning. What is it about guys – or more specifically, me – that causes us to avoid help or healing sometimes?

I think this can be a human problem more than just a guy problem. For some of us, seeking help or allowing someone else to help us is the last thing we want to do. Often it’s called “self-sufficiency.” It’s relying on yourself alone to get through life, to get what you have to get, to know what you need to know, to fix yourself.

There’s some self-sufficiency which is good. If you’re constantly reliant on others, you will, in all likelihood, end up alone anyway. There are certain cases where illnesses force that to be the case, and there’s nothing you can do. But if you spend your entire life totally reliant on others, you’ll get nowhere.

A Christian is not made for self-sufficiency. A human is not made for self-sufficiency. We’re made to need other people. Most importantly, we’re made to need God.

See, we all have scars. We all have weaknesses, injuries, flaws. And if we spend our whole lives trying to fix them ourselves, we’ll never get fully healed. Sure, we might fix one or two on our own. But we need to be willing to let others, and God, in to help with the healing process, and in some cases bring full healing.

This is one of the things I’m learning right now with my fiancée. She’s the sweetest, and it seems she wants nothing more than to simply care for me, do whatever she can for me. As someone who’s self-sufficient most of the time, I have to learn to let her do what she does best: help people.

Self-sufficiency will get us nowhere in the long run. True humility is learning to let someone help us, learning to let go of our pride and accept help in the healing process of those scars.

And then there’s our need for salvation. We can’t do it on our own. We need God to intervene for our eternal state to be secured.

In a self-sufficient world, where it often becomes about “what I can do” and improving our own skills and making a name for ourselves, we need help. We need others to come alongside us and help us through. We need Jesus for life now and life afterwards.

Those scars often don’t take care of themselves. They stay there. They stick.

So don’t be afraid to seek help.