August 22, 2016


 A few days ago, I was thinking about how is it that some people can come before God with a sense of entitlement and arrogance ... and other people can come before God with humility and appreciation?  In my thought process, I began to think about my grandmother.  When we were children and would do something obviously with the wrong intentions, she would say, "have you no shame?" 
That was the cue to do some self reflection, and correct the behavior... Not just at that moment, but from that moment forward. 

When we look at so many of the events that are taking place with those closest to us, and as far reaching as the national platforms - the question is still a valid one to ask.  Police have no shame in killing both the incident and the guilty without due process of the legal system, males procreating but not fathering their children, people walking around all day -out in public- in pajamas or with their underwear on display, broadcasting intimate life details on social media..... And on and on and on.

There is a lack of connection to what is right and good. Our society has become accustomed to anything and everything. The standards are so relaxed now, that even the most basic requirements seem like too much to ask. Everyone believes that they are a good person, because behavior should not be the measure of one's character. It is as if good and evil are now void of meaning.  That is how the decline of morality has seeped in to the norm of our culture. The inability to acknowledge anything, is in essence a way to affirm everything.  It doesn't work that way. 

Acknowledging one's own sinful nature is even more challenging under these terms. Because under these terms, there really is no sin, just misinterpretation.  So it is much easier to redefine everything constantly and conveniently than to call things wrong or right according to biblical standards.  It is much easier to point out the flaws in the character of others than it is to be introspective and to acknowledge one's own flaws.  It is larger than claiming or owning an act or event of sin, but the humiliation of knowing the lack of one's own moral accountability. Example: A married Christian protesting gay marriage, but being unfaithful in one's own heterosexual marriage.  {My grandmother would say, "two wrongs don't make a right.}  It is a hurtful feeling to humiliate yourself to yourself. This is when you know that you are wrong, even if no one else knows or identifies it. 

Have you no shame? = Are you not able to hold yourself accountable for what you know is right?  

The kind of shame that leads a sinner to repentance is the ability to stand in awe of God's completeness of being (Wholeness/Holiness), and comparing one's inferior state of being (sinful nature).  I use the word 'ability' because the sinful nature brings with it arrogance and a sense of self righteousness, which has to be shattered before one can realize the need to change.  It is hard to be humiliated, especially internally.  Shame is not about being humiliated by the awareness that others see your wrong, but it  is the internal dialogue that happens within self.  When the error of your ways become so overpowering that change is absolutely necessary, this is when one is ready to surrender to God. Conviction is being convinced that wrong was done. Repentance is the determination to change from a nature of wrong-being, intentionally going in the right direction - in mindset, intention and deed. 

When a person has no shame:  wanting the results of what is right, but lacking the desire to be or do right.  It is wanting the reward without the effort.  This leads to behaviors that lack integrity. The lack of integrity is also a lack of shame. 

Sanctification is the intentional effort to live a life separated from sin, it is biblically based integrity. It does not imply perfection, but intention.  The greater the intention, the more probable the success of the effort. It is an effort that becomes a lifestyle. The more it is practiced, it becomes the norm. Each day, each individual has to make a conscious effort to make sin the norm or to make sanctification the norm. Each day, the effort will become easier to maintain the course, and this is why it is important to remain intentional. 

The nature of humanity is such that in most, if not all cases, the change of behavior will not come until one's desire to be right has become solidified.  Forced change can take place due to social norms or even penal systems, but a change of heart has to happen from within, before the individual is really capable of true repentance.  For example,  a child can hit another child for no reason and an adult require a verbal apology to be given. The child can learn when it is appropriate to say the words, but never have any intention to stop hitting the other child. But once the child determines that he or she does not want to hit others for no reason, the behavior will shift, not only to avoid hitting others intentionally, but also making  the effort to not hit other unintentionally.   That is the formation of character. 

So when we have expectations of God, but no desire to change -  "Have we no shame?" 

August 1, 2016


Today, was a good day.  I went to church, as I regularly do, but today was different for several reasons. I have had a lot on my mind and I have been questioning some of the ways that I have handled some choices in my personal life.  

As most of us do at some point and time,  I was thinking about how differently my outcomes could have been if I had made some different choices, both career and personal.   So when I say that I went to church today, that was really loaded with a lot of alternatives that were going through my head---specifically the thought of spending the day on the beach.  But I decided to stay the course and go to church. 

I love my church.  Being a part of a community of believers is very important to me.  What makes this important is the shared understanding of what Phil Robertson- the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family- calls "Biblical Correctness".   Biblical principles are the foundation to my views and to be in a church that goes to the Bible to articulate why certain topic should be discussed a certain way or managed a certain way is important. 

Today we had a guest speaker. I have never heard him before, and didnt know anything about him other than I know that there are some specific criteria about the type of speaker that will be invited to speak at my church. And this man did not disappoint.  The topic of his sermon was "Our Conviction". He gave several examples of why we have our convictions and what the world system is set in place to do regarding pulling us way from what we believe about God and our walk as believers and followers of Christ. 

So, as I reflect on several things, I realize that what causes us to be challenged in our convictions is temptation.  It comes in many forms and in many ways. It is not always the obvious right or wrong, but temptation most of the time looks like the better option. It looks like the easier option and it markets a better outcome.  

Temptation  has the job of trying to convince you that you can outsmart the plan of God.   In this way, making wrong look right is the ultimate goal.   And it is impossible to hold on to both wrong and right at the same time. So temptation is what forces you to feel like you have to choose, it becomes an either/or dynamic. This is when you begin to feel the urge that a choice must be made quickly, before you miss the opportunity and before you talk your self into something else.   Anything that requires you to rush, might be something to take notice of whether it is leading you in the right way or the wrong way. Ask yourself, what is the urgency?  If the urgency is not related to pleasing God or obeying God's Word, then more than likely it is temptation trying to pull you away from what is right. 

Since it is temptation's job to look like, not only a good idea, but the best idea, this means that many times scripture or doing right will seem to be the outcome.  For example, Sarah had already been given a promise from God. One that she laughed at because it seemed impossible.  It was not that she didn't want what God had promised, but in her trying to rationalize how it could be, she decided to help the process along. She decided to act without instruction from God.   If God could send the messengers to tell her and her husband what God was going to do, then obviously if God had instructions for them those would have been given. But without instructions Sarah figured she would figure it out herself.  

Temptation would have to believe that God needs you to figure out how to make what God has already said come to reality. This is not true. God is fully aware of the details needed for what God has planned for your life. God has all of the details under control.