My Family, My Friends, & The Dead Guy That Keeps Screwing Things Up

God saved me in the winter of 1996. In January of 1997 I married Leslie and we have been together for 21 years now. Our daughter Grace was born in June of 2002 and she has been a reminder of God’s grace every year that she has been with us. Through the years we have made many friends; some of them very close to us. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for God, wife, daughter or friends. If they need me for any reason, I am gratefully available to them all, but…

There are times (if I’m being transparent) that I don’t want to be available. Do you ever feel that way? I mean, I love them, but sometimes that’s just not what comes out. I care about them all, but sometimes you just wouldn’t know it. There are times when I am a narcissistic jerk that wants my life to revolve around me and me alone.

It comes out in many ways: sometimes I get quiet, sometimes I say more than I should, sometimes I quit doing anything, sometimes I do things and my actions are hurtful, sometimes my words cut…deep. Sometimes my wit and sarcasm become weapons of mass destruction and before I even realize I hit the launch button all I can do is deal with the fallout and collateral damage. Sometimes I “do” or “say” and immediately think, “Nooo…why did you…?”

Sometimes I live like the old dead guy (2 Cor. 5:17) that doesn’t care about other’s feelings and only wants to be heard, wants to be smarter, bigger, and better than you. Yeah, I know, major jerk. Just writing this I want to punch myself in the face. But listen, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Rom. 7:18-19) But that’s kind of a cop out isn’t it? I mean just saying that I want to do right, but, oh woe is me, I don’t because I just keep doing it even though I don’t want to is kind of a joke.

And if I left it there, it would be a joke, but that’s not the biblical way of dealing with being a jerk. We can’t just say I am who I am and keep doing what we do. Why? Because if we are truly in Christ who we are is a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). I’m not a jerk, I’m not a bad husband, father, or friend. It’s not my true nature as a child of God. Do I still mess up? Yes. Do I still live like the dead guy sometimes? Yes. But that is not my identity. In Christ, I have been set free from the old me (Rom. 6:18) and I don’t have to choose to live that way. So how can I keep the old guy in the grave and live like the new creation that I am? How can you?

  1. CONFESS MY SINS REGULARLY: “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) Keep short accounts of your sin. Don’t let known sins linger, confess them to those you have sinned against and ask others to hold you accountable to your sins. Jesus said, “whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”(John 3:21)
  2. REPENT OF MY SINS: it’s one thing to confess our sins, but if we don’t actually turn from those sins, turn to God, and “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27) then it means nothing. The only thing confession without repentance accomplishes is that people know that we know we’re jerks. So we must “repent…and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19-20)
  3. STAY IN COMMUNITY (NO MATTER WHAT): “The New Testament contains at least 40 passages that contain the words “one another” and each one points to a way that Christians are to treat, or are not to treat, each other.” (One Another, Challies) Our relationships are more about our holiness than they are our happiness. It is only in community that we grow to be more like Christ. Hebrews tells us, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some.” (Heb. 10:24-25)

Paul tells us, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Rom. 15:1) I’m not saying I am strong, quite the contrary, I’m saying I am weak. I need those who are strong in the community of faith to hold me accountable, call me out when I need it, allow me to confess my sins and still love me, help me to live a life of repentance and keep walking with them towards Christ-likeness.

Romans 8:13 says to “put to death the deeds of the body [and] you will live.” In other words we need to regularly tell the dead guy to stop screwing things up, put him back in the grave, and love like Christ has loved us…not just in word, but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)


The Flesh, The Spirit, & A Nasty Little Creature Named Rags

My wife and I once owned a schnauzer named Rags. He was your typical cute little dog that followed us around the house, ate our food if we left it on the coffee table, and had that little yippy bark that made your ears bleed if someone knocked on the front door. We adopted him from some friends of ours that were moving to Hawaii and couldn’t take him. It was either us or the Humane Society…so we took him. My wife loved that dog. She would get him groomed and put bandanas around his neck. He owned a couple sweaters. He never was wanting or without everything a dog could possibly need to be happy and healthy.

Rags was a house dog. He slept on our furniture and sat on our bed and rolled around on our carpet. In the eyes of my wife and our friends he was the poster dog for cute and adorable dogs. Then one day he went outside to do his “business” and when I went out to yell for him…no Rags. So I trudge out in to the cold, “Rags! Come here!….Rags! Come on!” Then I saw him. “RAGS NO!! GET INSIDE NOW!”

Rags, our cute, adorable, house dog was at the edge of our yard, at the edge of the woods, rolling around in a nasty, smelly, rotting….deer carcass. Yep, our cute little dog that got bandanas and perfumes put on him and wore precious little sweaters every now and then was free and out of his mind diving around getting as much wet, putrid, stinky deer funk on him as quickly as he possibly could…then wanted to come in my house and lay on the couch.

You know what? We’re all Rags. God adopts us, brings us into His family, lets us live in His house, gives us everything we could possibly ever need and then whenever we get the chance…we find the first nasty deer carcass we can find and roll around in it…then we want to come back in the house and have Daddy love on us. Romans 7:21-23 says:

“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”

Christ died to set us free, that we might live as children of God, yet we continually run back to the world. The Spirit is leading us in the way of Christ and our flesh is pulling back, tempting us to go the way of the world. So where is the hope, for the Rags of the world?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

The lure of the world is strong, but through faith in Jesus Christ we are free from the law of sin and death. He gives us the ability to serve Him, love Him, and desire Him more than the cheap pleasures of the world. There’s a war going on inside of us, between the flesh and the Spirit, but if we place our hope firmly in the cross and continue to fight, we have already won, in Christ. We still fall, we still fail, we still roll around in a carcass occasionally, but our loving Father “keeps” us (Jude 24) and nothing will separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39)…including the occasional deer funk.

May we strive to walk by the Spirit, not gratifying the flesh.
May we continually look to Jesus, our superior Pleasure.
May we learn to follow.