Your Very Life

Living where Life is

Month: August 2016

If only I’d believed INRIX!

imgres-1Last Friday, we were on I-85, an hour north of Charlotte, heading to a Panthers pre-season game. I saw the DOT sign: “heavy congestion ahead 10 miles.” I didn’t really pay attention. I didn’t really believe it. “Probably someone forgot to change the message. We’re cruising along perfectly… it’s gonna be alright.” I was already tasting the Spaghetti at Sue’s mom’s house.

A few more minutes passed. A few more miles. Some red tail lights up ahead. Now, red brake lights. But still we’re moving near the speed limit. I checked the INRIX traffic app, and the southbound interstate was red—indicating traffic at a stop—very close to us, but our blue dot was still rolling. I wasn’t convinced INRIX was right, and passed by the exit.

The last exit. Within ¼ mile, we were dead stopped. We’d move a few yards here or there. But it took 8 minutes to go less than half a mile.

I didn’t heed the warnings, I waved them off. Things were going smoothly, we were sailing along. Until it was too late. Now I was stuck in the thick of the traffic jam. Then I finally checked the note on INRIX: “accident at exit 60. 58 minute delay.” (Exit 60 was a good 6 miles ahead).

Lose an HOUR?!?! No way. We can’t afford to. Kickoff is counting down. There was only one way out of this jam: Turn around. At a break in the highway divider, I snuck through, turned our van around, and headed north. I was the 4th car to do so. We took side roads to by-pass the accident.

The only way out of that traffic jam was to turn around. As I was sitting there—with plenty of time to think—it occurred to me: this is a parable of my life. So often I ignore the warning signs of trouble ahead, and I careen right into a traffic jam in life.

  • The kids are pressing my buttons, I can tell they are doing it (they might not even know it), and I blow my top. I knew I was going to.
  • The dumb show or movie that you really shouldn’t watch, but, well, you know, you’re home alone tonight… I’ll just watch the first 5 minutes…
  • The little twinge of jealousy when your boss starts to praise a coworker, or when your neighbor starts to say how great so-and-so is. You drop a little sarcasm to put them down a bit. The rest jump on and it becomes real gossip, real fast.
  • The misunderstanding with your wife. She said, he said. But, really, she needs to come to me to apologize. Though, maybe I was too harsh. Nah, I’m going to bed.

We see the warning signs all over the place… but it seems that we just keep careening into the traffic jam.

The only thing to do is get out. Drive across the grass, through the highway divider, and head north. The bible’s word for this is to “repent”. That means to change your thinking, to turn 180 degrees.

When Peter told the Jerusalem crowd who Jesus REALLY is (The One and Only World-Rescuer), they said, “what do we do?” He answered: “Repent and be baptized. Every one of you for the forgiveness of sins.”

Turn around, trust who Jesus is, and let him get you out of the traffic jam mess your life has become. He’s written the DOT signs and INRIX app that we’ve ignored. But, still, he will help us when we call. Repent: call out to him and say, “I’m on the way wrong direction. Will you take over?”

This is the only doorway to your days being filled with His purposes and your joy. How many more traffic signs will you ignore?

Lost no more!

41Gyiatp+JL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Last week at Grace we considered the journey people often take in coming to Christ. We used the book, “I Once Was Lost” as our learning guide, and discovered that individuals with no real knowledge of Jesus typically come to a point of surrender by passing through 5 thresholds.

Everts and Schaupp discovered these thresholds in their work with thousands of students on college campuses over the past two decades.

To download a pdf of my book notes, click this link: I Once was Lost – Everts and Schaupp.

You can click here to order the book from amazon.

A Prayer for Teachers

images-2The school year is upon us, and teachers, coaches, assistants, specialists & administrators are hard at work. Whether in the public schools, in private schools, homeschools, colleges or tech schools, they are preparing to invest in the next generation.

Here is a prayer to pray for this upcoming year, and to commission teachers et al., to the task ahead.

Father at the start of a new school year, we pause to give thanks: that all knowledge comes from you, all truth, all facts, all wisdom and clarity. They are good gifts from you.

You also have given to us teachers who will help the next generation learn the way your world works, and how you have wired each of them.

Dear Lord, we pray for our teachers, and all in influence over our kids—coaches, assistants, administrators. Will you grant them to have your heart for kids, and for truth.

Grant that each classroom is filled to overflowing with grace, peace, wisdom and truth.

Grant that every homeschool mom and every football coach and everyone in between would exhibit the gentle, strong character of Christ.

We pray for our campuses – that they would be havens in a tough world.

Grant safety, protection, and real goodwill. Grant students to grow into maturity this year.

Grant that the schools in our area would be tops in the state. Lord, that seems like a tough prayer, but you have put in place a teaching faculty of your choosing. Thank you, and use them to form the character of our kids, as well as their educational goals.

We pray that these schools would bring you glory, bring students lasting growth, and bring teachers joy at a job well-done, and because of a calling lived-out by your grace.

We ask this in the matchless name of The Teacher of Righteousness, even Christ Jesus. Amen.

God’s Grace and Porn

imgres-1Friends,

Many, way too many, are fighting this battle. All of us are tempted to sin–this is universal. And different sins lure us with greater or lesser strength. For some, it’s envy. For others, it’s bitterness. For many it’s lust.

The inner drive (which is from God–he created sex, after all), the Fall into sin which warps all of God’s good gifts, the cultural moment of highlighting the human body and sexuality, and the near-universality of private and portable screens… well, these 4 factors combine to make porn and lust a real problem for so many.

Three tools for you today:

A) At Grace today, we tackled this subject.  You can watch the sermon by clicking here.

B) We also emailed out the following to our congregation. Read it and take it to heart.

Grace family,

Today, as part of the “Any Questions” series, Jason addressed pornography and God’s grace.  We want you to know that there is hope and help in this area of struggle.

If you would like help, there are several ways you can get started.

  1. Personal assessment: There is a downloadable pdf available on our website. Just scroll to the bottom and you’ll see it. www.gracekinston.org
  1. Accountability: We find greater success in this battle when we are not in it alone.There are caring, grace-filled folks at Grace who would come along side in accountability with you. If you’re interested in getting an accountability partner, you can email kent@gracekinston.org (men) orSusan@gracekinston.org (women), and they will connect you confidentially with someone.
  1. Further resources: 

At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry – Steve Gallagher (Pure Life Ministries). A simple and helpful introduction to the dynamics of sexual sin, and how God brings us toward Christlikeness. 

Wired for Intimacy: How pornography hijacks the male brain – William M. Struthers (Intervarsity Press). A focused look at how porn re-wires (physiologically) the male brain, and how God’s grace can un-wire it!

Grace for Shame: The forgotten gospel – John Forrester (Pastor’s Attic). Porn is like many sins, it brings a deep sense of shame. While the ‘gospel of forgiveness’ is crucial, it’s also rational and often doesn’t touch our inner sense of shame. The gospel is also ‘acceptance’ before God… not based on what we’ve done, but based on God’s grace.  It’s God’s grace for our shame.  This book is not strictly about porn or sexual sin, but is a real help for apprehending a the fulness of the gospel’s blessings.   [end of church email]

C) Don’t miss investigating and installing filters and blockers and parental guides on your screens.

  • Covenant Eyes or x3watch are two tools for computers.
  • SafeTeens is a service that allows you (as a parent) to know exactly what activity is happening on your teen’s phone (sent and received: texts & photos, deleted texts/photos, etc.).
  • Netflix, Hulu – install the parental guides and keep the code a secret.
  • Computer, phones and TVs in a public place at home. Bedrooms and screens are too tempting.

These are helps for the journey.

The biggest help is this: you are not alone… so talk to someone about your own struggle. Get a Christ-following friend in this with you, and together you will see God’s grace and growth in this area. (listen to the sermon for more on this!)

Let’s watch God grow us into greater Christlikeness, more victory over sin, and greater reliance on him.

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