Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Adrian's Blog: Needy People Need God - 1 Samuel 1

This is a sermon not to be missed. There are so many needy people in the world, with so many needs, but the bottom line is they need God.

Adrian's Blog: Needy People Need God - 1 Samuel 1

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pride part 3 of the 7 Deadly Sins

In Mark (12:38-40) Jesus said "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."Those are strong words, and not to be taken lightly by those of us who sometimes wear flowing robes, sit up front in church, and may at times be tempted to call attention to ourselves rather than the Holy One we profess to serve. he made it clear that those who would be "the greatest" must become the least in the eyes of men. Pride is an ancient enemy, driving a wedge between God and humanity. Listen to more of Jesus words in Luke 18: 9-15
"Jesus told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people. Two men went up to the temple to pray. One a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this. "Oh God, I thank you that I am not like other people, robbers, crooks, adulterers or heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income." Meanwhile, the tax man slumped in the shadows. His face in his hands, not daring to look up and said, "God give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner." Jesus commented. This tax man, not the other, went home, made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you are going to end up flat on your face. But, if you are content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself."
There was a man who seemed to have the Midas touch in business. Everything that he touched turned to success. He was active in his community and active in his church. One day he walked into his pastor's office. He just looked as the weight of the world was on his shoulders. He confessed to his pastor that he had become involved with a woman in his office and his wife had become aware of it and confronted him. The pastor and the man talked for a while and the pastor recommended that he seek long term counseling, which he did. For several months he was going to a counselor every week. It seemed as things were getting better with his family, but with this man, it just seemed like he was in a rut. He wasn't getting any better and he came back and he talked to his pastor again. He explained to his pastor all that had been happening, . . . how he tried to mend fences and to apologize appropriately to people and to own up to the mistake that he had made. His pastor said "Maybe that's the problem. You keep thinking that you made a mistake, like an arithmetic error." He asked, "Have you accepted the fact that what you did was sin against God and sin against your wife and sin against your family and sin against your church and sin against your community?"
The man was a little defensive to be thus confronted. But he thought about it for a moment and realized the truth. He had been treating his adultery like he has just made a mistake, . . . it was like a bad business deal and he hadn't accepted how he had turned his back on Jesus Christ and on his family. That day he got down on his knees and he offered a prayer of confession to God and he received the forgiveness of God. He also received courage to go home and truly confess to his wife with deep brokenness and recognition of the gravity of what he had done. This man said to his pastor, "I knew there is a law against adultery, I guess I just didn't think it applied to me." How blind we can become when pride and other sins begin to work their way in our lives and no longer can we see clearly. God offers us His vision, He offers us the mind of Christ, but when we let sin get a foothold in our life, our vision becomes blurry and we cannot see. It causes us to begin to trust in ourselves, just as the Pharisee trusted in himself. It was his fasting that he thought made him righteous. It was his prayers that he thought made him righteous. He lost sight that it was the grace of God, - - - God choosing to love us and to accept us - - - that makes us righteous.
In Ecclesiastes, we are told, "The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker." This suggests that, whatever the degree of pride, it is rooted in our unwillingness to trust God, our determination to be in control.
flourishes in good soil. The danger of pride is that it feeds on goodness.”

pride can trip us up. Benjamin Franklin understood this. He once said, “There is perhaps none of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases—it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it I would probably be proud of my humility

PART of the problem with pride is that it is easy to see in other people but hard to see in ourselves. This was illustrated in a satirical carton that The New Yorker magazine ran several years ago—a cartoon in which a smiling woman was jabbering nonstop to a glum-faced companion. The smiling woman finally said, “Well, that’s enough about me. Now let’s talk about you. What do YOU think about ME?” Pride is deceptive isn’t it? As this cartoon shows, it blinds us and gives us a tunnel vision such that we see everything through the lens of “me.” ( the country song about the woman always talking about herself and he wants to talk about himself, Toby Keith I WANNA TALK ABOUT ME
In fact, SELF is the FOCUS of pride. Pride seeks to defend and advance SELF in every way possible. In his book, A Love Worth Giving, Max Lucado writes, “The self-centered see everything through self. Their motto? ‘It’s all about me!’ The flight schedule, the traffic, the dress styles, the worship styles, the weather, the work....everything is filtered through the mini-ME in the eye.”
we need to realize that PRIDE is not always a sin—I mean, there is such a thing as GOOD pride. GOOD PRIDE is seen in healthy self-respect, dignity dignity, satisfaction in a job well done, joy in seeing others succeed...those kinds of things. But the other kind—BAD PRIDE—is conceit, egotism, it’s an attitude of superiority that manifests itself in ARROGANCE and BOASTING.

Pride can even make us think we are more important than God. In fact, it was this sinful way of thinking that entangled satan and led to his fall. Isaiah 14:13-15 records satan’s proud words, “I will ascend to Heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountains. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” And of course, once satan fell, he successfully led Adam and Eve to commit the same prideful sin. Remember? They ate of the forbidden fruit so they too could be equal to God.

Well, since pride is so destructive—since it can so easily entangles us—it would behoove us to learn to recognize it. So how can we? I mean, how do we know if we are slipping into the grasp of this sin?
Romans 12:16 says, “Don’t be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.”
Here are two verses we will look at as they tell us about ourselves, God and pride: The first is Proverbs 16:16 and the second is 1 Peter 5:5. Proverbs 16:16 - There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: [and the first is] Haughty eyes...
1 Peter 5:5b - All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Pride is foremost. It gets top billing in this list. And here in 1 Peter it says that God “OPPOSES” the proud. Well, why would this particular sin be so upsetting to our Heavenly Father? Why would HE hate PRIDE more than other sins? Why would He oppose those who embrace it?
1. One reason is that He knows that, like all sin, pride HURTS us.
As Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction.” And I like the way The Message paraphrases it, “First pride—then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” when we engage in prideful behavior we are setting ourselves up for a painful fall. Pride hurts and God doesn’t want His children to hurt—the thing He wants most for us is that we would experience the joy of living life as He intended. I think this is one PRIDE is listed first in this list of sins that God hates most.
A. And one way pride hurts us is this: it opens the door to other SINS.
Now, remember, pride is an attitude that focuses undue attention on self—and this focus ALWAYS leads to sin.
As C. S. Lewis once said: “There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty of themselves: PRIDE. Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
B. And then another way pride hurts us is that it prevents personal GROWTH.

Prideful selfishness ERODES them. You know, so many conflicts in marriage and in parenting and in churches would never happen if it weren’t for arrogance. Usually the key to reconciliation is for us to simply swallow our pride. And if it helps, remember, pride is non-fattening
So, God detests pride because He knows it hurts us—He knows it poisons relationships—but the main reason God opposes pride is because....
3. it makes a growing relationship with Him IMPOSSIBLE.
I mean, you can’t even become a Christian until you first HUMBLE yourself and admit that you are a sinner and that you can’t make it on your own—that you NEED Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. PRIDE is the wall that will keep any sinner from a relationship with God and God loves sinners so He hates pride. Pride can lead us to exclude God from His rightful place in our hearts and to bow down before a mirror instead. It is the main form of idolatry in society today. And we see it so clearly in our culture where people foolishly think they are greater experts on how to live than God is. do we avoid the snares that pride sets? Or...if entangled, how do we free ourselves? I want to suggest two basic principles we need to follow.
1. First to defeat pride we must learn NOT take OURSELVES too seriously
Lewis Smeades tells a wonderful story about Pope John XXIII. Apparently a member of the curia was continually nagging him to fix this or that problem. This official in the curia lived as though he alone saw the severity of the problems facing the church and the world, and as if without his warnings everything would collapse. Finally the pope had had enough, so he took his hyper-conscientious adviser aside and confessed that he, too, was sometimes tempted to live as though the fate of the world rested on him. He was helped, he said, by an angel who would sometimes appear by the side of his bed and say, “Hey there Johnny boy, don’t take yourself so seriously.”
Well, this is good advice for us to heed in our battle with pride because in order to defeat it we must remember that as the Psalmist says, “The Lord is God. It is He Who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:1-3) Paul refers to this attitude in 1Corinthians 15:10 where he says “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” In other words, Paul didn’t take himself too seriously. He counteracted pride with the knowledge that anything good that he did was due to the grace of God.
Tony Campolo said, "If you ever start to feel proud, just remember that soon after your body has been lowered into the grave, your family & friends will be eating potato salad & telling jokes, & you’ll be history."
To free ourselves from pride we must do the same thing—remembering that as James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father.” And of course the most important PERFECT GIFT to remember is the gift of God’s only Son. Above all else, this memory will help us not take ourselves too seriously. You see, when we look to the cross, we remember our sin.
..but secondly—DO take the needs of OTHERS seriously. (I shared here how pride had effeced m relationships especially with my husband.)
In other words, embrace the opposite of pride—HUMILITY—and put the needs of other people above your own. Make their needs a priority in your life. Now, in our culture, this word “humility” is often given a bad rap. I mean, when we think of humble people we think of doormats and people with self-esteem problems. But that’s not Biblical humility. No—humble people are not people who are always putting themselves down. They are simply people that have been empowered by God to love their neighbors the way they love themselves. Humble people don’t have inferiority complexes. To the contrary, they are secure in who God made them.
In fact, the truth is, humility is the mark of emotionally HEALTHY people whereas pride is the mark of emotionally INSECURE people. (Elena Amos)
Humility is not about convincing ourselves that we are unattractive or that we are incompetent. It’s not about beating ourselves up or trying to make ourselves into nothing. No, humility has to do with a kind of submitted willingness; humility has to do with a healthy self-forgetfulness. Real humility is not thinking poorly of yourself. It’s just thinking more about other people. It’s getting the focus off my needs, my desires, my hurts, my wants, and putting the focus on what other people need. Think of it this way: Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is simply thinking less about yourself.
Another thing—humility is an attitude that expresses itself in action. Humble people don’t just sit around thinking about the needs of others—they do things to help others. Humility not just something a person has—It’s something a person does. 3. Love 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
13If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
So how do we deal with pride in our lives?1). Recognize it—this is the first step!2). Repent of it (the example of the tax collector in Luke)
3). Not taking ourselves so seriously, humility, and God’s love in us.4. God enables us to stand against pride in our lives. But it can only happen when we accept his grace and mercy.

Pride Part 2 of the 7 Deadly sins

So just what is so bad about pride?
Hebrew Scripture answers that question. It says that Sin and Pride are very close together. Sin – in both the Hebrew and the Greek – comes from a root which literally means "to miss the target" – God’s target. It implies an almost physical failing. We cannot hit God’s target because, as imperfect human beings, we are unable to clearly see it. We cannot clearly see it because we have disconnected ourselves from God’s eyes. Pride is described in similarly physical terms. It comes from a term which literally means "to be swollen." In other words, Pride – like Sin – is also a failure of sight – a failure of sight which makes us see ourselves in a distorted way: as bigger than we are – more important, more deserving.

What is Pride? Besides the obvious, I have used the word Pride to make an acronym and used each letter as a jumping off point to define, describe pride. Perhaps you will think of your own words as we go along too.

P pride, proud, pretentious,
Points to others and say they are prideful, not us It leads to prejudice toward people.npreoccupation with self priorities are messed up and focused on the wrong thing. Praises themselves. Self Preoccupation
R The Reservoir of All Sin, ridicule of others, need restoration, robs us, robs our relationships, robs our churches rageful, resentful when others are recognized or complimented. Can’t rejoice with other’s success. rusts selfRighteous totally self-Reliant
I “I”, it is illusive, and illusion, insidious, about our image, not God’s image, our investment in looking right, its impressive but it is only an impression. It is an “I”-sight problem not an eyesight vision problem. Impatience with others sign up insecurity.
“Look how wonderful I am.” Inflated sense of self importance.

D devil, devious, deceiving, determined to get our way, deceptive, depends on what others think of us, is actually self defeating. Performance, posturing ourselves devastating deadly destructive, determined to be in control,
The Donald. We think we are deserving and we are not. Demanding causes delusions in the mind looks down on ohers. Disagreeable unless it is something wonderful about them the person.

E ego, evil, get even with others. Error in judgment of who we really are thinking we are better then we are. We come to God empty handed, because we are empty inside. It entangles us. Esteem ourselves better than we are.
Erodes relationships it is the wall we have erected between Jesus and us.
Excessive love of oneself

Pride of the 7 Deadly Sins

Breaking Free of the “I” Problem
Feb. 26, 2006
Beginning of the sermon series on the 7 Deadly sins

We have had rainy, cloudy, dreary days for too long now. You can’t work, or play outside hardly at all. As you can tell by the same sign being up about the praise and worship, neither Marty, Bob or I have been able to get it changed due to the weather. The darkness and cloudiness begins to effect our attitudes, our feelings, our morale doesn’t it. Kids want to go out and play, and due to cabin fever are becoming wilder and more active.

I thought about that as I thought about the beginning of the series on the 7 deadly sins. I thought that you one day of cloudiness and rain you can tolerate. But as it goes on and on you give into its darkness. And isn’t that the way it is with sin, that we might give into one little bit of temptation, and it doesn’t seem so bad. But sin begins with one little temptation, and unless you are willing to repent, and ask God to forgive you, then that little temptation grows into something bigger and bigger, and darker and darker until it consumes you by taking hold of your person hood, your character, your relationships, your thoughts, your attitude, and your very soul. C. S. Lewis commented, “the safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts

Now I was not raised Catholic, and am not as familiar with the 7 deadly sins as Marty is. I am more familiar with the Protestant version of sin. But when our Bishop wrote his new book “Sinning like a Christian”, on the 7 deadly sins, and went around discussing the book, I became intrigued by them. Sara Pearson had gone with me, and we discussed the idea of a sermon series and/or discussion group on them. This Wednesday begins the season of Lent and what better time to talk about these than now. In order to get all 7 sins in before Easter, I had to start early hence beginning today. And today we begin with an introduction and a look at the first sin, Pride. Now this is not just to be an informational series, you can go read the book for that. It is to be a transformational series, thus the title of Breaking free. Every Wednesday of Lent there will be a prayer guide on one of the sins or as this Wednesday, Thomas Merton’s prayer on all 7 sins.

Here is some background on the 7 deadly sins; Centuries ago, the Middle Ages to be exact, Pope Gregory the Great around 600AD the church recognized the devastation of sin in the lives of people. The church recognized that they needed to warn the people of the dangers of sin. Dangers that we need to be aware of because these sins will separate us from God and they will cause destruction in our families and in our churches and in our homes. The church came up with a list known as the Seven Deadly Sins -- Pride; Envy; Anger; Sloth; Greed or avarice; Gluttony and Lust.

When I was growing up preachers talked a lot about sin. They vigorously warned us about its consequences, often in frightening terms. Today we hesitate to use the word, in part, I think because it has been overused and in part because we live in a predominately secular society. In a secular society God is not a factor. And, apart from God there is no sin. Apart from God sin is "inappropriate or harmful" behavior. In short, we shy away from the word sin because it has lost most of its impact. And yet we deal with sin every day, all day. Sin is a reality in all of our lives whether we label it sin or not.
And while the "Seven Deadlies" aren’t found in the Bible, and obviously cannot be synonymous with the "Ten Commandment," each of them is clearly proscribed in Scripture. And there is a reason why Pride tops list. Of the seven sins just listed, Pride is condemned in the Holy Scriptures more than the other six combined. More even than any of the sins proscribed by the Ten Commandments. More than stealing, more than adultery, more than murder, more even than idiolatry. C.S. Lewis, "According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

Friday, May 05, 2006


TODAY IS KNOWN AS GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY because, in each year of the liturgical cycle on this 4th Sunday, the Gospel is always taken from the 10th chapter of John where Jesus speaks of himself as the "good shepherd".
John 10:11-18
11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

You are probably more familiar with the King James version of Psalm 23:
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
But you might also enjoy Eugene Peterson's translation of Psalm 23 in The Message:
O God, my shepherd!I don't need a thing.You have bedded me down in lush meadows,You find me quiet pools to drink from.True to your word,You let me catch my breathAnd send me in the right direction.Even when the way goes through Death Valley,I'm not afraid when you walk at my side.Your shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.You serve me a six-course dinnerRight in front of my enemies.You revive my drooping head;My cup overflows with blessing.Your beauty and love chase after meEvery day of my life.For the rest of my life, I'm back home in the house of God.

I am preaching on these two passages combining them for Sunday's message.

Gluttony of the 7 Deadly Sins part 3

Well if it is a sin, then how is it cured, what is the anecdote to this horrible life taking sin? In many of the sermons, books I read, they really didn’t have an answer, I was disappointed. In his book on Sinning like a Christian this is what Will Willimon says, Disgust is our only means of keeping Gluttony at bay, uh, how is that an answer. Most people I know who are overweight are disgusted, Will with how they look and what their overeating has done to them. I think Will has never really had to deal with this problem in his life.

It is not just dieting, there is only a 20 per cent cure rate of those who really retain their weight loss, and stay gluttony free. Look at one of the most famous, who we have watched on tv go up and down, Oprah Winfrey, She has lost over all 20,000 pounds, been on 674 diets, 255 exercise programs, weighed herself 4, 349, 571 times in her 30 year career. She went on a recent diet due to hypertension brought on by her eating and weight. She has lost a lot of weight by even then she has struggled to maintain. You see it is not so easy to cure and to maintain a cure. I can tell you myself having done the yo – yo thing for years. As of even recently I was on a diet, losing weight really doing well, when a stressor came into my life, and I turned to what food to deal with it. That one little turning, kept turning, until I put on what I had lost and more, I also turned away for consistent exercise, consistent healthy patterns, and consistent meditation and bible reading, until once again Gluttony became my God. I was hoping like so many others that by researching for this sermon, and writing it there would be something that would not just help me lose again, but would be the maintaining factor. But I know what that is, It goes back to what Overeater’s Anonymous says: it is to work the 12 steps, be part of a OA group, get a sponsor, become what they call abstinent, taking food off of its throne in your life, and putting God back on the throne of your life. In other words it is more than just dieting it also includes spiritual work. And when you read the Bible it has some of the answers.

In the book The 7 Sins of Highly Defective People Rick Ezell uses these action steps
1 Feeding- It sounds a little ridiculous to talk about feeding when someone is lost in the grips of the disease, but its not totally. If on the one hand it is like a feeding frenzy when you have given into gluttony, it is getting back to the basics of eating. The experts say we have lost the ability to know when we are actually hungry, what are hunger pangs, and when we are thirsty or what we are. So you have to go back to basics, and know what is actually hunger. He says the glutton needs to be fed by God, From Genesis to Revelation
God is portrayed as ta caring Father who feeds his people. Gen 2:9 the Garden of Eden was planed with trees that were pleasing to the ey and good for food. And then in Rev 22:2 the new Jerusalem is the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. What is it that we pray, Matt 6:11 Give us today our daily Bread. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights James 1:18 God feed us with the good things he has fed us, He also feeds us his very self; Jesus says in John 4:32; “I have food to eat that you know nothing about”, and in John 6:35 Jesus says I am the bread of life, he that cometh to me shall never hunger, In fact the celebration of communion is way of not just remember the last supper, but participating in the Eucharist and receiving what God has to feed us, his grace and mercy for our lives. That is part of why we serve communion every Wednesday night.

2. Feasting. Now some might think this gluttony, but it isn’t, Gluttony is self-indulgent, feasting is God honoring, keeps perspective and is a social act that enhances community by celebrating God’s blessings. It is part of the Christian faith. The people of Israel were always feasting, having celebrations of thanksgiving for what God had done, we are about to enter into the time of the feast of Passover, the celebration for God delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Remember Jesus liked a good celebration, went to many dinners. He was even accused of being a glutton and a drunkard in Matt 11:19, but he was not one was he. The Christian faith is a sociable one, it is one of getting together to celebrate God’s goodness and mercy in our lives, perhaps we have forgotten the part of celebrating God’s goodness and mercy, and perhaps we have forgotten how to feast and not be a glutton. Perhaps the church can provide the place for feasting and not gluttony. Perhaps we need to include the attitude of gratitude as a way of battling gluttony.

Fasting. I know I know, I don’t do fasting from food very good. I have found I can fast from tv and the computer. Maybe then I can turn what I have been able to do with my media fast to a healthy food fast. Not dieting though, that is a modern way of dealing with it, but a more biblical way is fasting. Fasting is mentioned more times in scripture than Baptism. Jesus talks about the way to fast in Matthew 6:16.
It is defined as a voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purpose remember Jesus fasted, it is not a crash diet, but abstinence from food for spiritual purposes, And what more spiritual purpose is there than to rid yourself of a sin, the sin of gluttony. Jesus said in Matt 5:6, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. “A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.” -Frederick Buechner. So instead of eating to eat and eat and eat, you are fasting for spiritual food. Fasting keeps us alive to what Jesus knew “My food is do the will of him who sent me. John 4:34.
Why even that great Country Western singer, movie star Dolly Parton fasts. In a interview with People magazine she credits her family and her faith for her character. She says “I quote the Bible real good!” She will turn to the bible and fasting not to diet but for spiritual reasons, and for making major decisions, “I’ll either fast 7, 14,or 21 days, I don’t tell anyone either when I am fasting.
When we fast we can find the will God, the contours of our souls, who we really are before God, and find the true God, not the God of Food.

Finally Focusing: Paul wrote in Phil 3:20-21 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Our focus needs to be on heavenly things not on earthly things, not on what feeds the stomach, but on what nourishes the soul, not on the negative, but on the positive and not on what will deform but on what will transforms our bodies. Paul also wrote in Phillipians 4:8 8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. The object of our focus needs to be God and not food, and by doing so, we allow God to be at work in us instead of being a servant to food.
But there is one final aspect of this and that is self control, not will power, but self control. How do we get self control? We don’t get it on our own, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which comes from our opening ourselves to God, and letting go of our control, and letting God have control through the holy spirit. You and I can do all the actions that Ezell suggest, but it will be just like dieting and trying to control ourselves if we don’t let God have control of our lives. To defeat the sin of gluttony takes our work, the support of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. It is not the Holy Spirit that makes us do things, like Gluttony will often make you over eat, it enables us to control ourselves. We are no longer driven by the sin, but by the power of the holy spirit in us. It enables us to do what would honor Christ the most and what would glorify God in our lives, and what would be a witness for God in our lives, It is self caring, not self defeating, it is encouraging not putting one down. And if you have been in the throes of gluttony you know that it is self defeating and shaming. It provides protection and grants freedom. 2tim1:7 says God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power of love and of self discipline (or control). Gal 5:16 says it this way Let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. You see it is inviting and letting God be your God, and Lord of your life. And frankly having studied this and written this I realize that I quit letting God be the Lord of my life, and put me and food back on the throne. And if I am to defeat gluttony in my life it will be through the spiritual disciplines with the power of the holy spirit with God being the Lord of my life.
A young boy was helping his father bring in some wood for the fire, and he was struggling under the weight of a heavy load of wood, “Why don’t you use all of your strength?” The father asked. “I am” the boy responded, feeling dejected. “No you are not,” declared the father. “ You have not asked me to help you.” The father reached down and lifted both the boy and lad in his arms and together they carried that heavy load of wood.
If you are struggling with the sin of gluttony or any of the other 7 deadly sins, pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, and lust, why don’t you ask the Lord our father to help you carry the load, and give him the burden of your sin. Because when we ask and when we give the Lord our burdens, he will sustain us.

Gluttony of 7 Deadly sins part 2

But in the fifth century when the deadly sins were decided upon it was all about food, because when the members of this small communities were off in the desert, food often was scarce, and when they had it well you can see how the sin became a sin. Bob says in his big family, if you didn’t grab your food first, someone else would get it for their bellies. I picture in the orphanages there was a lot of grabbing of food, and so kids learn how to hide it, hoard it, or get it. Food fight has a different meaning to those kids. There was a concern in those early communities that the food would take the place of God, the relationship with God, destroy the person, and destroy the community. Beginning in the 6th century with Gregory the Great and on through Aquinas and the Middle Ages, there were understood to be five main branches to the sin of Gluttony; eating too soon, too much, too avidly, too richly, and too daintily. Do you hear that word “too”, it is the trademark of gluttony.

You and I have to eat to survive and live, just as the early Christians did, and others have to do. Yet, when we look at it it is a natural thing gone bad,. Overeaters Anonymous knows this and treats it as a disease just as alcoholism and any other addiction. Paul wrote about it in Philipians 3:19 this phrase talking about the enemies of the cross, “whose God is their belly”. You can see how easy it is when you don’t have enough food that you begin to worry when the next morsel is going to come. But for us it is the question is Your belly, the excessive needs of your belly, only your needs of your belly what is important to you and has it become your God. In Overeaters Anonymous, they call it a spiritual disease and they would agree with Paul it is about your God being your belly.

In the movie Narnia, which some of you have seen, and by the way is out on video and dvd now and I recommend viewing. is a good example of gluttony. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the character, Edmund Pevensie, personifies gluttony, the sin of excessively using things in themselves legitimate, normally associated with the appetite, and, in effect, making one's belly the god he serves (Phil. 3:19). Jadis, the White Witch, exploits Edmund's weakness when she meets him in a snowy woods, offering him a warm drink and Turkish Delight, his favorite candy. From the first bite, he is hooked, for each "piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious." As she pumps him for information regarding his brother and sisters, he readily replies, driven by an insatiable hunger for more and more Turkish Delight: "At first Edmund tried to remember that it is rude to speak with one's mouth full, but soon he forgot about this and thought only of trying to shovel down as much Turkish Delight as he could, and the more he ate, the more he wanted to eat, and he never asked himself why the Queen should be so inquisitive" ( 32; all references to the Narnia stories are from the Collier edition, 1970).

Edmund's gluttonous desire has deadly ramifications, for later in the tale, after he has betrayed his brother and sisters in order to obtain more and more Turkish Delight (which, ironically, he does not receive), Jadis demands his life by invoking Deep Magic: an ancient Narnian law that entitles her to the blood of any traitor. And while Edmund is saved by the intervention and intercession of Aslan, the cost is deadly to the latter. Lewis' point in emphasizing Edmund's gluttony is to illustrate vividly the effects of sins in general and this sin in particular; over indulgence blinds us to the truth, turning us inward, making us slaves to our own insatiable desires.

Do you hear that, what Lewis says over indulgence in anything blinds us to the truth, turns us inward and makes us slaves to our own insatiable desires. And Lewis is right. When I have been deep in my own gluttony it has blinded me to the truth, it has turned me inward and made me a slave to my own insatiable desires, one is never satisfied, and I have been there. Believe me Satan knows our very weakness, just as Jadis knew Edmund’s and will come at you at that point, starting with one little bite, one little need, one little purchase of your favorite item until that is all you see, all you desire, you all in all.

Perhaps it is in a way the sin of America, we consume more food than the rest of the world. We consume more petroleum than the rest of the world. Bush called it our dependence on Petroleum. And part of the price we pay, is our own bodies, in weight gain, diabetes, heart problems, high cholesterol, damaged knees and backs from bearing too much weight. We pay the price of having then to purchase new clothes in bigger sizes, medications for what ails us, surgeries to correct the problems caused by the weight or surgeries to correct the weight, diets, diet organizations, gyms and fitness items, bigger chairs to sit in, beds to sleep in, bigger and bigger, I read where they are now having to make bigger car seats because we now bigger infants and kids, not all due to this problem, but some, or wheel chairs or rascals to get around, or if you are in your disease more money for more food. Now do you see how this sin begins to grow and effect you and others. And that is why it is one of the deadly sins now. It will kill you, and if it doesn’t kill you, it will destroy your life, your relationships, your true God.

Gluttony –What’s feeding You

Gluttony –What’s feeding You
April 9th
Proverbs 23:15-21

If I were to say the word glutton, what would come to your mind? Perhaps someone sitting there with a plate piled high with food. Maybe someone so huge it blew your mind. Maybe someone at a picnic or church social that was taking all the food, leaving none for any one else? Those are all good images of a glutton.

Perhaps you know someone who is a glutton. The thing about this sin gluttony is it just not about food or being fat. It is much more than that. It is the sin of excessiveness. And yet it is more than self indulgence, it may also be a way of being blind to the needs of others in the world. This is no better shown in the bible than in the story of Lazarus and the Rich man in Luke 16 beginning with verse 19. Here is a man who has it all, even good wonderful meals, he could have shared just the crumbs off his table, but he did not, he ignored the Lazarus’ plight. So when we say it is a sin of excessiveness it is excessiveness to exclusion of others. The glutton gets into his own little world, puts blinders on, thinks only of himself, and does not think of the needs of others. That puts new light on this sin, doesn’t it.

So that when we think of that, it can be more than food that we are over consuming, it can petroleum and natural resources, or noise, TV, computers, hi tech items, cell phones, cars, addictions, bulimia, alcoholism, the life of the gourmand, think about what people are known for consuming, their little collections.

But it is not just the excessive consumption that makes it a sin, it’s the excessive attentiveness to whatever one is into. There are over one million cook books being produced, and diet books being produced, But other interests also have their books as well. There are magazines for the different interests. And now there are tv shows as well, but not just tv shows, there is the food channel, the out door channel, the travel channel, the mtvs and other music channels, Discovery channel have become dedicated to motorcycle makeovers, car makeovers, truck makeovers, the house channel, fitness channel, the golf network, all the sports channels, QVC and other shows that sell the list could go on and is being added to everyday as they figure out what sells to what markets.
So, gluttony includes time spent thinking about, reading about, dreaming about the item.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Part 3 of the sermon on Wrath

Such anger may not be as dramatic as eruptions of visible rage, but it is a soul-destroying state of life. Can such anger be overcome? The great fifth century monastic writer Cassian discusses anger at some length in book eight of The Institutes. He states bluntly that the acquisition of peace of mind “must not be made to depend on another’s will...but it lies rather in our own control.” Remember that Paul said in Galatians that Self Control is a fruit of the Spirit.
In other words the angry person only gets rid of the anger when it dawns on him or her to stop hurting herself and others. Put simply One must understand why one is angry and, more importantly, learn how to let go of it. Cassian frames the matter in theological terms: the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in company with the spirit of anger. We might put it this way: the price of persistent anger is misery; the reward for letting go of anger is peace of mind. Benedict linked anger to self-absorption and pride; and then linked peace of mind to its opposites, love and concern. That strikes me as a wonderful truth even if easy to give and hard to put into play.
Jesus tells us that we must first love God and then our neighbor as our self. It is patently the case that the angry soul neither loves neighbor nor self; so to let go of anger is to learn to love one’s self and, then, others. If the old monks are correct, and I think they are, it is a hard task to do so but, in the end, worth it for self and neighbor and, ultimately, for the love of God. And isn’t that what Jesus taught us as the first commandment is to Love the Lord our God with all our heart mind soul and body. The second being like it to love our neighbor as ourself. Frankly all the law and the prophets and Psychology can be wrapped up in those words.

Today we heard James words to the early Christian Community on dealing with anger. He knew like that 4th Century Desert monks that Anger could be corrosive, destructive, alienating, and harmful to the person, and the community. It is words we need to heed about dealing with anger along with others have to say.
"Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger...." (James 1:19)

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry (Ephesians 4:26 NIV)

Part 2 of Wrath of the 7 Deadly Sins

It is curious to read how often the early Christian writers, especially the monastic writers, singled out anger as one of the most persistent and dangerous of these sins. I say that this is curious because the Bible is filled with stories of anger. The prophets were specialists at anger as they took to task their people for lack of loyalty to the covenant they made with God at Sinai. And we hear in the Old Testament God’s anger with his people for not keeping their part of the covenant. Job cries out in anger at the seemingly unjust state of his being. Jesus not only got angry but, as the Gospels tell us, lashed out in anger at the sellers at the temple, overturning their tables and lashing them with whips of cords.

Thus, the question arises: why did those early Christian writers single out anger as a treacherous condition that puts in danger our lives and poisons our relationship with God? Perhaps it might be useful at the outset to make a distinction between getting angry and being a
an angry person. After all, would it not be a callous person who did not react in anger at the sight of manifest injustice? Are there not things in this world that warrant an angry reaction? Getting angry is different than being an angry person. Everyone, at times, can identify with the character in the movie or book who gets angry with a given situation of abuse or injustice. Everyone gets angry, it is a natural feeling. Latin, shows us a difference in the words for anger; indignation (indignatio) from anger (ira).

It seems like that today we live in an angry world, with America having the highest rate of violent crime in the Western World. Psychologists report that they spend more time helping clients deal with their anger than any other emotion. Just turn on the news and you can see the evidence of the effects of anger such as; terrorism, child abuse, domestic abuse, work place violence, road rage, and many other expressions of violent anger. Today 6 middle schoolers were arrested in on suspicion of plotting to bring guns and knives to school to kill their classmates and faculty in Alaska. The students had planned to disable the Middle School’s power and telephone systems, allotting time to kill their victims and escape from their home town. Apparently, the seventh-graders wanted to seek revenge for being picked on by other students, the Police chief said. They also disliked staff and students, he said. Also this week, on April 21: Five Kansas teens were arrested after details of their alleged shooting plot appeared on Because of this link between anger and violence, it is hard to disagree with those who, over the centuries, have suggested that anger is always undesirable and should be eradicated from the range of human emotions. But all that anger is easy to see and is quite apparent.

By and large the early Christian writers did not always have that kind of anger in mind since that sort was easy to detect. What most worried those writers was that kind of internalized anger fueled by disappointment, wounded pride, real or imagined slights, disappointment with one’s situation in life, or other personal affronts that smoldered within a person, often undetectable by others but becoming a lens through which that person saw all of his social life. In our contemporary vocabulary, we often employ synonyms for this kind of anger. We call it “bitterness” or “resentment.” In a homily on anger the fourth century monk and Bishop Basil the Great called it a “sickness of soul, a darkening of thought, an estrangement from God...a cause of conflict, a fullness of misfortunes.” He ends that catalog indicating that such a person actually gives birth to a “demon” in his soul. Please note that “demon” did not mean a little creature with horns and a forked tail but a “power” (Greek: daimon) that took control of a person.
What ultimately is so bad about internalized anger is this: it hurts not only the person who possesses it, but then so is everyone else. One sees that kind of anger in families where a person “doesn’t speak to” or “freezes out” another member or members because of issues which, perhaps slight at the time, become magnified into a massive grievance that the person constantly rehearses mentally or externalizes by silence in the face of invitations or other gestures of good will. One sometimes sees a similar kind of angry person in the business environment: the employee or colleague who vents his or her internalized anger with passive-aggressive behavior or through little acts of sabotage or, more sadly, through a depressed life of doing as little as possible in order to “get through the day,” enveloped in a fog of barely suppressed unhappiness. Or the person who tries to control things at church, or school or clubs or meetings or in the family.

Wrath Defusing your anger

Wrath Defusing your anger James 1:19-25 April 23, 06
Part 1

We are still in our series on the 7 Deadly Sins with six down, and 1 to go. But we can look at these sins in a whole new light because of what we know about the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus over sin. Our sins have been nailed to the cross, and the resurrection put an end to the power of sin over us.

Researching these sins, I have learned that only in the Middle Ages did they earn the title sins. In the fourth century the desert monks called them vices or habits that came from evil thoughts which would tempt the monk and try to dissuade him from his spiritual pursuits. Each of the Seven Deadly Sins can be corrosive to the soul; each can be embodied in actions that are harmful to self and others.
The concern was how then these habits would effect the small Christian community. Now remember you won’t find these sins in the Bible in a list. But throughout the Bible the Psalmist, Jesus, Paul and others write about these sins.

It was the pioneers of the Christian spiritual tradition, the fathers and mothers of the desert who identified anger as a deadly sin. They weren’t interested in getting things done, but in purity of heart. To them anger was never justified. Why did the desert fathers condemn it? Anger inflates the heart, when what we most need is a heart that is receptive. Anger blocks grief. If you are high on the adrenaline of anger you don’t cry, you don’t mourn, you don’t recognize your faults. In stead you swear and hit. Rage can keeps certain kinds of pain at bay. Anger blocks the relationship to God, by making it difficult to pray.
Kathleen Norris, who has a sense of dry humor and wrote the book Amazing Grace, says that wrath, or anger, is a tricky sin, and that the desert monks of the 4th century regarded anger as the most dangerous of human passions--far more destructive than even greed or lust--and they had much to say about the tricks that anger plays on us. "When it is absolutely necessary to correct another, do so," they said. "But do it quickly and simply, then let it go. Don't get entangled in the expectation of results. Otherwise, anger can take hold and lead you to commit an even worse fault than the other person.”

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lust Part 3

We live in a SEX-SATURATED SOCIETY $12 billion in revenue is generated by the sex industries in the U.S. each year. 25% of all searches done online are pornographic in nature. The average age of first internet exposure to porn is 11 years of age. Estimated that over half of all homes have no guards against pornographic access. 25% of visitors to pornographic sites are women. About 24 million U.S. adults have pornographic addictions (out of 260 million Americans). 3 suggestions for battling lust:

The way of Jesus offers us an alternative to momentary pleasure, empty and fruitless seeking and a life’s pathway strewn with discarded people and things. The way of Jesus offers us an alternative to this life of instant gratification and endless pleasure seeking. The way of Jesus offers us relationship with the living God that slowly but surely transforms us into humans who can glimpse, even faintly, the deep love God has for this world. And we can live our lives reflecting that love.
Love is the alternative that sticks around when life is not so pleasurable but, in the end yields returns that give life real, substantive meaning—and not just for me . . . God, you remember, loves the whole world.
And remember it began with the look. I am reminded of the man shopping w/ his wife at the mall. A beautiful young lady passed by wearing a provocative form fitting dress catching the eyes of the man who nonchalantly watched the girl walk out of view to which the wife responded w/out looking up – “Was she worth the trouble you in?” You have to choose whether you are going to make a habit of looking and how you look at the opposite sex. I remember a friend of mine told me he was out running his usual mile or so, when he saw in the distance a pretty young woman coming his way, and he thought to himself, my she is pretty. But as the young woman got closer he realized she was his teenage daughter, it was a wake up call for him. In chapter 31:1 Job said he had made a covenant with his eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman. Be like Job, make a covenant with yourself to not look with lust upon the opposite sex.

One tool is confession. Have someone in your life that will hold you accountable to your Christian walk. Be sure that is someone you can trust to tell your struggles to, to share with, and that will pray with you and for you. Be willing to be honest. I have made it a habit to be honest with Bob about any one whom I have found myself attracted to our who I felt was trying to get my attention in an impure way. But maybe you don’t feel comfortable with your spouse, find a friend, a mentor, your Pastor, or counselor. Lust is a deadly sin to you, your marriage, your family and your other relationships.

The third tool is love. Self-serving lust can be dethroned only by a stronger love which seeks the welfare of others (See Matthew 12:43-45). Lust is not love. Lust wants it, the thing itself; love wants the beloved. The thing is a sensory pleasure that occurs within one's own body. It has often been said that a lustful man wants a woman. But that is not what he wants. What he really wants is a pleasure for which the woman happens to be a convenient piece of apparatus. Lust is what makes people want sex even when they have no desire to be with each other.
Thoughts are an alarm. And if you are thinking alot about someone or something lustfully let it be an alarm for you that Lust is enticing you and you are about to bite the hook. Go get help.
2. Recognize you are vulnerable.
3. Watch your input.
5. Watch your circumstances.
6. Think consequences.
7. Satisfy each other in marriage.
10. Rely on God’s Spirit.
I counseled a couple in which the husband, a Pastor was spending an inordinate amount of time on the internet, time spent in X rated sites. The computer was the church’s and he had been found out. All the while he had been covering it up. The church was gracious and offered him time off to get help, to overcome this that had over come him. He instead chose to continue his internet habit. He did not take my counsel, did not get any help. He kept trying to cover it up. The marriage ended. His job as the Pastor of the church ended, in fact the denomination asked for his ordination credentials.
We need to end the cover up and let God truly cover over your sin and forgive it. There’s no sin that God won’t forgive, no sin the blood of Jesus isn’t powerful enough to cleanse but you must end the cover-up. Come to God in confession. That’s how we become a Christian and that’s what it means to live as a Christian. Being a Christian is all about ending the cover-up. We don’t just come to the cross for forgiveness, you come to the cross for a changed life as well. We’re not people who cover-up sin anymore. We’re glad it’s out in the open because Jesus has paid for it. Now we’ve got to keep it out in the open, for God to work on it.

Lust Part 2

Paul said it this way: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Col. 3:5 And in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; [4] that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, [5] not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; [6] and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. [7] For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
James then reminds us: Don’t love the world or the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that’s in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn’t of the Father, but is of the world. Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they entice him away and trap him. Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death. James. 1:13-15

Did you know that Word: Entice – is a fishing term meaning to lure by using bait. Did you know that in fishing, the #1 lure for catching bass is called a jig? The best jigs have just enough skirt to hide the hook. The devil understands that if he can get our interest peaked in lust, he has us well on the way to getting hooked.
Lust is the sin of instant gratification with no commitment. The key word in the Matthew passage is “lustfully”. However, that’s actually not a very good translation of this Greek word. The English “lust” carries a decidedly negative and sexual connotation—both of which are missing in the Greek word, epiqumew. It simply means, “to desire something or to long for something” and it is strictly a neutral term. In other words, whether desire is good or bad depends entirely on what you are desiring. The Bible uses this same word to say that one who wants to be an elder “desires a noble task”. Paul “desires to depart” this life and be with Christ. Jesus “eagerly desired” to eat the Last Supper with his disciples. The prophets in the OT “longed to see” the Messiah and angels “long” to understand our salvation. When Jesus uses this word, it is usually positive. But here it is obvious that he is talking about a desire for a woman that God has placed “off limits”. To desire that woman, says Jesus, is wrong, just as adultery itself is wrong.
Lust is a craving, a yearning, a longing, and a passion. The American Heritage Dictionary sadly Lust is a sexual craving, especially when excessive to have an inordinate desire especially a sexual desire. Henry Fairlie’s introduction to the subject: “Lust is not interested in its partners, but only in the gratification of its own craving, not in the satisfaction of our whole natures, but only in the appeasement of an appetite that we are unable to subdue. We can see how the early church and the early desert Christian communities were concerned about this sin for the person, and for the group. It could become disruptive to the person’s spiritual life with God, and then the life of the group. But we too need to be aware of the potential of this sin to destroy our lives, our relationships with Jesus, and our Christian communities. And we need to know how to handle this deadly sin for ourselves and how to help someone who may be caught on its hook.

Lust: Avoiding Fatal Attractions

I am back and will attempt to post my sermons from the 7 Deadly Sins series. I am also getting ready to move, so it will be sporadic for awhile. (Sorry, as if it has been regular all the time.)

Matthew 5:27-30 April 30 Part 1

It all began with a look across the way. It was an innocent look of sorts. He was alone, and lonely. She was alone, herself, and vulnerable. He was 48, married, and had it all. She was young, newly married, and didn’t. He was a person of faith and character. But that look started something in his mind that led him to think about her, a lot. And those thoughts led to a desire that led to finding out who she was. It then led to him making arrangements to see her. He then set about seducing her, he wanted what he wanted, being used to getting his way and getting what he wanted. And this time like all the others he got what he wanted.

Who was this man? Bill Clinton? Donald Trump? The male charachter in the movie Fatal Attractions? One of the men on Survivor? A Sports star? Movie Star? Rock Star? Country Musician? An evangelist? Your Boss? The Guy next door? Just your average Joe?

Would you believe me if I told you he was once King of Israel. Would you believe me if I told you he liked to play on a harp. Would you believe me if I told you he once killed a giant. Would you believe me if I told you he once was a sheepherder? Now you know who he was, David, whose life story is told in the bible in the Old Testament. It is true and a sad part of his life, and his time as King. Because that one simple look, that turned into a desire and an act of seduction then led to a betrayal of marriages, pregnancy, lies, setup murder of the wife’s husband, a betrayal of his relationship to God, and other consequences for his behavior and his sin.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus said these strong words about lust; 27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Poor Jimmy Carter got in trouble over these verses, do you remember, and if that is before your time, let me remind you. The man served as president of the United States and has had a distinguished career of diplomacy and public service far beyond his years in office. In 1976 interview he did with Playboy Magazine, in which he was asked if he was “born-again”. Remember that? Carter said yes, he was, and the interviewer asked that, in light of his born again status if he considered himself holier than most. Carter replied that no, he did not, and in fact . . . he had committed lust in his heart. This was fuel for the media fire that far outweighed Al Gore’s invention of the Internet. Even today people associate Jimmy Carter with lust. We’d never, ourselves, want to be personally associated with the sin of lust .

But if Jesus words that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery is strong, then the rest of our passage is even stronger. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. Are we really suppose to do bodily harm to ourselves, because of lust? Well no, but Jesus is trying to get our attention to the point of how dangerous lust can be and has been and will always be. And he is telling us to get control of ourselves, our looking at others with more than just a look, our thoughts, our desires, our emotions before it is too late, and we have crossed the boundaries to act on our intentions. Because if we don’t we follow the same path of David and others who have given to the enticement of lust.

(to be continued)