Epic Fail…then what?

Hello SNC brothers and sisters!

For this week’s second look I’d like to direct you to 1 Corinthians 10:12-13:

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (NLT)

This past week we looked at one of the darkest chapters in the book of Exodus. The Israelites fail; they fall and do so at a mind staggeringly quick pace. We talked about how anyone can fail in this life and not just the little “oopsie daisy” type of failures; but the huge monumental: “My life may never be the same” kind of failures. Then I shared with you  two lessons we can learn from the failure of the Israelites. The first lesson looked at how the Israelites’ failure began with absence. We looked at how the absence of Moses was deadly for them and how we also need a “Moses” in our life. Moses may be a literal person there to hold us accountable – or it may be certain guidelines we keep in place to protect us from failures. The reality is – we can all be tempted – we can all fall. This is what 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 tells us. Look at how Paul starts his exhortation. He says: “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”  This is something that many of us forget. We think we are above temptation or just impervious to it. But we’re not. Temptation is common to man and Paul guarantees for us that we will be tempted – and that God will be faithful to provide a way out – an exit point.

I don’t know about you but I am a bit of a cautious person in enclosed spaces and I have a bit of an overactive imagination. One way this shows up is that when I walk in a room I’m aware of exit points. When I’m on a plane, I know where the exit doors are because if we somehow crash in a lake or the ocean, I want to know where I need to begin swimming to get out of the plane. When I’m in a theatre, I want to know where the exits are in case there is an earthquake. I once was on a boat going to Catalina; a little yacht that transported people from the mainland to the island in about two hours. Shortly after we pushed away from our dock my mind began to run and I began to look for places I can hide in case a band of robbers took over the ship (yes I’ve seen Die Hard one time too many). I could hide there then figure out a way to get a distress signal out. I know it’s crazy but hey – when this stuff happens, I’ll have a plan ready; and then who will the weirdo be???  🙂

My point is – the more helpful and accurate way to look at things is to have a plan ready – a structure in place for when temptation comes; because it will. You may have heard it said: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  I would add to that: “Failing in your plan – is planning to fail.” If we fail to plan, or if our plan is faulty then we are in trouble – we may be already defeated and we don’t even know it yet.

I don’t say this to make you overly paranoid – but there is a sobriety upon which we must place this issue.  We need “Moses” in our life to safeguard us – to be that wall between us and failure. For me one of the most powerful Moses’ I’ve had has been an uncompromising decision and effort to be known by others. I am someone who has decided it is better to be known than hidden. I’ve chosen to let people into my life – not everybody but a group of men whom I trust with the deep dirt in my soul. They have – in turn trusted me with their dirt.

I cannot tell you how much this has impacted my life not just in the fact that I have a group of Moses’s holding me accountable – but even in making my life more rich. I am known and am loved. This has deeply and profoundly impacted me. Just this one behavior of having a group of men in my life who know my junk – has blessed me beyond what I can measure. I have been blessed with wonderful friendships that are truly deep and fulfilling. I can honestly say I never had brothers when I grew up – but God has provided me brothers since my college days. These men know me and I know them. Our families are growing up together and I am so grateful to God that He used my addiction to push me towards this way of living. It requires boldness and wisdom to share your true self – but I have never regretted this – and nothing has impacted me more than this. This has been a powerful “Moses” in my life; and these men are now the escape that I believe Paul was talking about in our verses above. When I’m tempted – I call them – text them – get coffee with them. I admit failures to them and there is no compromise here.

I pray for you that you may find Moses’ in your life. Sometimes it will feel risky but it might make all the difference in the world for your road in the future. I know that days will come when I am tempted – but I also know I have my Moses’ there keep my eyes pointed towards God.

Have a great week everybody!

Pastor Ryan

 



Murder? Adultery?

Hi SNC Fam,
Man this last Sunday felt heavy.  I don’t know if you felt it – but this was one of the most challenging sermons I feel I’ve preached in a very long time.  Not just because of the material itself but because of how God challenged me in preparing it.  Let me explain…
    As last week progressed, I was thinking about how I would preach this sermon – the content of what I was sharing with you all – when a thought began to come to mind about some people I know.  I don’t know them well – as a matter of fact, I do not know their name but one thing I’m certain of – they are drug users.  We call them “meth-heads.” I’ve run into them several time because they live on my street and God has directed me to pray for them. I rarely see them and usually when I do I’m heading out so it’s difficult to stop and talk with them…. But I’m practically certain they are drug users…
    God has placed a soft spot in my heart for them – has reminded me of them often and yet I have really not reached out to them. My thought process is –
” well I don’t really want to bother them – or they wouldn’t want to talk with me – seems like a waste of time.  I don’t want to throw my “Pearls before swine so to speak…”
    But if I was really honest – and God led me to this last week – I deep down believe that to talk with them would be a waste of time — because they are a waste of time. After all – they are “meth heads” – there is no way they could receive the gospel and there is no way they could really change and if they even wanted it – would I really be willing to help them????
    And then Jesus says- “if you call your brother a ‘Raca’ or a fool”- it’s like you murdered them.  It’s not that I call them names although that really can be quite debilitating and painful – it’s that I’ve come to label them in my mind.  I’ve come to believe this lie about them. I don’t see these people trapped in drug abuse as God’s creation – beloved by Him so much that He would send His Son to die for them.  I see them as a waste of time…
     Can you imagine how much this nailed me to the wall???  Here I am preaching about this and confronted with the deep dark truth of my own heart. Oh God have mercy on me – a murderer and adulterer – a sinner. Oh God what would You have me do?  Oh God – please change me – let me live by Your Word – believing that You are speaking to me through it.  Oh God through the power of your Spirit – let me not label people – or tear them down in my heart or with my words. Oh Lord that You might lead me in a mission to bring light to this dark world and to build Your kingdom. Oh God have mercy on me a sinner.
     I want to close this post with a song.  the starting stanze to the song says this:
Lord, I want to feel your heart
And see the world through your eyes
I want to be your hands and feet
I want to live a life that leads
     This is true of my heart for us all.  It’s hard to admit that our hearts can be dark places and yet we have found the truth – Jesus who loves us in spite of our brokenness..  May we see the world through His eyes.  And may you be blessed this week.  Enjoy the song!
Blessings
Pastor Ryan