|The Blame Game
|Thursday, May 05, 2022|
Sadie is possibly the most adorable brown-eyed little girl you could ever meet. She's also charming, intelligent—and too old to be sucking her thumb. Nor is this lost on her mother, as evidenced in a recent conversation:
Mom: Sadie! Take your fingers out of your mouth!
Sadie: (Bats her long eyelashes) But mo-om…Don't you always say God made me?
Sadie: And don’t you always say He made me perfect? Just exactly the way I am?
Mom: Yes, but…
Sadie: And doesn’t He know I am doing it RIGHT NOW?
Sadie: So REALLY, if you think about it, He is ok with it because He made me a thumb sucker, and I am just how He made me to be!
Wow! Guilt avoidance and blame-shifting in one snappy sentence! If there's a pre-school award for twisted theology, Sadie must surely be a nominee.
But don’t most of us big kids also try to bend our bad behavior around our beliefs? Aren’t we just as glib and just as guilty at trying to explain away our conduct as we play the blame game:
Jesus didn't die on the cross to give us better excuses for our crimes. He came to pay for the wreckage—and empower us to turn away from them. The word is repent.
|A Bold Villain
|Thursday, April 28, 2022|
He is relentless. Unstoppable. And he seems to turn up just about everywhere at just the wrong time. I'm talking about my nemesis—and yours: Shame.
He’s the voice that accuses you.
He’s two shots of Red Bull—at midnight.
He’s the one who remembers every detail of every regret you’ve tried to forget.
He's the broken record whispering your faith is too small, your prayers are too short, and your guilt is too great.
That’s Shame. And he’s been on the trail—your trail—for a long time.
Shame has many brothers and sisters. Unless I'm mistaken, you've met fear, resentment, and jealousy. Many siblings. But they all have one father: the father of lies.
In his allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan shares this slice of conversation between Christian and Faithful who have just met with Shame on a journey to the Celestial City:
Faithful then makes this bold demand:
Shame is an enemy to your salvation, too, and will leave if commanded in the name of Jesus. But rest assured, Shame will be back. As Faithful remarks in Pilgrim’s Progress, “Indeed this Shame was a bold villain. I could scarcely shake him out of my company.”
But shake him we must.
And shake him we can.
|You CAN Memorize Scripture
|Thursday, April 21, 2022|
When I last spoke with Art Rorheim—at the age of 99—he was still memorizing the Bible. Wow!
You might be too old to play baseball for the Dodgers. You might be too old to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. You might be too old for lots of things. But I’ve got good news. You’re not too old to memorize Scripture.
You say, “Jon, I’m pretty sure I can’t.”
I’m pretty sure you can. I’m no whiz, but may I share what has worked for me over a long time?
First, choose a verse or passage that really connects with you. Something that smacks you in the face every time you come across it. Something you really WANT to commit to memory.
Second, write it down. Personally, I like to create a card (about 3 x 6 inches—fits in my shirt pocket). I print the verse out on a colorful background—and laminate it. It might take months for me to memorize a Psalm or passage, so it needs to be printed on something sturdy to endure rain, mud, wind and snow. Carry those Scripture cards with you wherever you go.
Now, maybe you’ll prefer using an app on your phone. I use “Remember Me,” but there are many out there. Choose one and stick with it.
One other thought as you begin: don’t beat yourself up for taking a long time to memorize. There’s no prize for first place! Just get going—and do it every day. Learn to use tiny moments to get out that card or Bible app and memorize!
You say, that all sounds good, but how DO you actually commit the Word of God to memory?
Begin with just a phrase. Read that phrase ten times out loud. Now, close your eyes and say that phrase 10 times. Then read it again 10 times—out loud. Go back until you have confidence in the first phrase. Then move on. Don’t demand that you finish memorizing by a certain date. Just stay at it! This is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll quickly develop a sense of when you’re ready to move on.
I suggest you recite at least one verse or passage every night before you go off to sleep. This is great for reviewing—and great for sleeping!
One last word. Do not underestimate how much reviewing you will need to do. Stay at it! Memorize your next verse or passage...but keep reviewing the old ones.
FREE OFFER: I’ll happily send you a one-page PDF Scripture Memory Tip sheet, along with a copy of the current Psalm I’m working on. Let’s do this! Just send an email to Jon@jongauger.com and ask for the Bible Memory tools.
|Thursday, April 14, 2022|
It is, perhaps, our greatest wickedness: we accuse God.
We, the bent—
We, the broken—
We, the ungodly—
We accuse God.
When the job is lost—
When the money is gone—
When the hurt is deep—
When the spouse leaves—
When the dream crumbles—
When circumstances don’t play out—
Most of us can be counted on to accuse God.
We dare approach the One who made us, lived among us, bled for us, died for us, forgave us, and accuse Him.
We accuse Him of not hearing.
We accuse Him of not seeing.
We accuse Him of not caring.
We accuse Him of not answering.
We accuse Him of not doing what (“we know”) He ought to do.
We accuse and accuse and accuse.
Consider that in striking this wicked pose, we are most like the arch-enemy of the Almighty! Is Lucifer not called the Accuser? And are we not most like him when we accuse the Almighty?
Imagine—we, the forgiven—accusing God!
We, the redeemed.
We, the blood-bought.
We, the folks freed from death row.
We, who held the hammer that drove the nails that took the life of His Son—we accuse HIM.
|How's Your Hate Life?
|Thursday, April 07, 2022|
It's a question you probably haven't been asked before—ever: How's your hate life?
Your answer is critical because Psalm 97:10 says, "Let those who love the Lord hate evil." Proverbs 8:13 reinforces that message: "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil." Meaning we are to hate sin.
Like many believers, you might respond, "Of course I dislike sin." But that isn't enough. God calls us to hate sin. All sin. Do we?
You say, "Isn't this all just a game of semantics? Dislike versus hate—not a big deal."
It's a huge deal. Here's why. What we do not hate—we tolerate. Including (and maybe especially) sin.
Think about it. I dislike that I weigh as much as I do. But I don't hate it. If I did, I wouldn't eat so many cookies. And I wouldn't demand my daily Coke at lunchtime.
Scripture says if we love the Lord, we must hate evil. Hence the question, how's your hate life?
When we don't hate what God hates, we inevitably end up trying to manage sin. It's the alcoholic who says, "I must work on my drinking problem. I'll cut back to one beer a day." That's managing sin. Dumping every drop of alcohol in your house down the drain—that's hating sin.
If we are going to hate sin, we must kill it. John Owen once famously warned, "Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you." You don't "manage" cockroaches. You kill them! You don't "manage" mice. You kill them! Same with sin.
If we do not hate what God hates, we invite sin and temptation to ruin us.
Let's not be deceived. Sin is not merely a problem, or a nemesis or a "bad angel" on your shoulder whispering temptations into your ear.
Sin is a killer.
It wants to kill your reputation.
It wants to kill your ministry.
It wants to kill your family.
It wants to kill your future.
It wants to kill your peace.
It wants to kill your hope.
It wants to kill your joy.
How's your hate life?
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