pecaspers: a Blog in transition

April 19, 2014

Gardens, Trees, Falling, and Rising

Filed under: Ministry,My Life in General,Tallassee Tribune drafts — pecaspers @ 9:10 PM

[The following was submitted to The Tallassee Tribune as a contributed article from the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance. An edited version will appear in the April 22 edition of the paper.]

In Genesis 3, the story of the fall of man is told. It’s the history of how the first man and woman broke God’s single, simple command and the curses that came to all creation because of their rebellion. It’s a story that takes place in a garden, involves a tree, and ends with people leaving a place they should have stayed. As a result of our first parents’ disobedience, shame and fear caused them to feebly attempt to hide their nakedness and hide from God. This original sin which we are all heirs to brought separation between humanity and God.

In the aftermath, God gives both curses and blessings. The earth is cursed with thistles and thorns, making man’s work a struggle against the land. Man must now sweat for his bread. The man and all his kind will die and be buried, returning to the earth from which he was made. The woman will now suffer great pain in childbearing, and she will be under the stress of filling a role of submission with a heart-desire to rule over her husband. The man and woman must also leave the garden behind.

The serpent was cursed too, but a promise of future blessing came with its curse. God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel,” (Genesis 3:15, ESV). This is what Biblical scholars call the proto-evangelion, the first-gospel. Here, so close to the beginning, we are given the promise that a man would come, the offspring of a woman, who would destroy the serpent though he would also be struck himself. Throughout the Old Testament, the details about this promised one are sketched out in types, shadows, forerunners, and foretellings–individuals and events that pointed to the One who would overcome the power of sin and death.

God blessed the man and woman he had created to bear His image by not destroying them outright as their sin deserved. They certainly died spiritually that day, but God mercifully spared their physical lives for it still pleased Him to work His good plan through them. God also clothed them; He made adequate coverings for their bodies from the skins of animals. Again this points to the way of things with God, blood was shed to cover man’s sin.

And so we come to the celebration of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, or Easter as it’s popularly called. Jesus was a man born of, in earthly terms, only a woman; he was outside the line of inheritance for Adam’s sin yet still the offspring of woman. The ancient serpent Satan struck him a mighty blow, it seemed at first. In a garden, this man who was the “bread of life” sweat drops of blood in anguish as he struggled in prayer over the things only He knew were about to come. This son of woman willingly submitted himself to the hands of ungodly rulers to endure pain greater than childbirth. Jesus, blameless as He was, took a punishment he did not deserve and forgave those who tortured and killed Him. He wore a crown of thorns on His righteous head, thorns which grew from the ground He had cursed because of sin. His clothes were striped from him; much of his own skin was stripped from him, too. He was shamefully hung naked on a cross, on a tree re-shaped for one cruel purpose. He died on that tree, and his lifeless body was taken down and placed in a tomb.

And in all this, he undid the curse. We began in a garden, and Jesus’ tomb was in another garden. A tomb is where a dead person is supposed to stay, but Jesus left His garden tomb behind. The great great turn around of history had begun. What looked like the end turned out to be a set up for a new beginning.

Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we who are naturally born sinful sons and daughters of Adam and Eve can be supernaturally reborn sons and daughters of God. Because Jesus overcame death and the grave, we can know that death is not our end but have hope for the coming resurrection to eternal life. Because Jesus lived as one of us and remained sinless, we can hope to sin less and less as we live by the same Holy Spirit that was in Him. Because Jesus bore our guilt and shame on the cross, we have no reason to hide in fear from God, instead we can run to Him as our loving Father who has been anticipating our return.

The cross of Christ undoes the fall of man for all who will have it and all its glorious ramifications. This is what Easter Sunday is about. This is what every Sunday is about. This is what every moment of every day is supposed to be about. Is this what you are about? Let’s be about sharing this message until He comes again.

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January 27, 2014

New Year, New Bible

This is my new Bible.

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It’s, as you can see, a Chronological Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation.

For a while now, I’ve read through a different translation of the Bible each year. It wasn’t all that intentional at first, but I’m on a pretty good streak. (Of years, I mean. Day to day, it’s rare that I string more than a week together without something derailing at least one day’s extended reading time.) Sometimes, I’ve chosen to simply read book by book through a regular version of the Bible. The rest of the time has been spent working through various study Bibles, reading every last note and article along the way. I’ve gone through The McArthur Study Bible in the NASB translation, The Holman Illustrated Study Bible in–obviously–the HCSB (scathing review pending), The Daily Bible in the old NIV, as well as at least one round through the old NIV, and twice through the ESV.

It’s not complicated. Reading 3 chapters a day carries you through the whole Bible in a year. Typically, you can read only 15 minutes a day and be on track to finish in a year. Reading a study Bible with all it’s notes and such will mean that you either spend more time reading or cover less ground each day of course. I typically read complete “episodes,” which is to say I’m looking for natural breaks in the narrative as places to stop. Sometimes that’s hard, but most of the Bible really is in story form. There are also more reading plans out there than you can shake a hardback KJV at. In fact, many Bibles have one or more reading plans mapped out in some of their supplemental materials.

This year, the Bible of choice is the previously mentioned and pictured Chronological Life Application Study Bible in the NLT. I went Chronological because I found the format very helpful at connecting concurrent events across various books the last time I read a chronologically ordered Bible some years ago. I went Life Application Study Bible because I wanted a study Bible that was less scholar-directed and more average-Joe oriented. So far, it’s been good for my soul to see some simple truths highlighted and applied to everyday life, even my everyday life. I went New Living Translation because I wanted read the whole New Living Translation. That’s supposed to sound obvious. I like the NLT in general. If you are looking to do in depth Bible Study, then it’s not the way to go because it is very interpretive and fluid in the translation philosophy. However, that’s precisely what makes it so easy to read, and that readability is what makes it such a popular translation. So because I know some of my people will be using it, I want to have experienced all of it as well. Besides that, I enjoy the flavor of many of the translation choices, for lack of a better way to put it.

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I’m not posting any of this to say “Hey, look at how awesome I am at reading my Bible.” I am trying to encourage you that Bible reading isn’t that hard and is super rewarding. You can’t deeply understand any one part of the Bible if you don’t have a basic familiarity with the whole thing. That’s not to say you can’t be a Christian until you’ve read the Bible, but what kind of Christian are you if you’ve never read the whole story of the Christ? Do you not want to know this God you claim to worship? Too many “Christians” are like the people Moses led out of Egypt who when confronted with the power and glory of God revealing Himself on the mountain said, basically, “You go hear from God, then come back and tell us about it.” (It’s in Exodus, which you know if you are a Bible reader.) Those people died in the wilderness because they didn’t really know and trust God, and that’s my fear for a person who calls him/herself a Christian but refuses to take up the discipline of Bible reading. “Pastor, you go hear from God, and then come back and tell me about it.” Are you asking someone to tell you about the light rather than opening your eyes?

Hopefully that last paragraph wasn’t for you. I read the Bible because I love the Bible because the Bible tells me about God because He loves us and wants us to know and love Him. God wrote a book. Have you read it? Why would anyone ever stop?

November 18, 2013

Thanksgiving TMA Article

Filed under: Culture,Ministry,My Life in General,Tallassee Tribune drafts — pecaspers @ 2:38 PM

[This is a draft of my article printed in the Tallassee Tribune on behalf of the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance for the week of November 19, 2013.]

There is this thing called the Internet; maybe you have heard of it. It’s kind of like newspaper, radio, television, video games, shopping malls, bars, and old-time country back porches all rolled into one. On the Internet, there are all sorts of places to post your thoughts. As November began, I started seeing many of my friends, far and near, post things they are thankful for. If you are on the Internet, then you probably noticed this too. In fact, I’m also doing this, but I’m a few days behind at the moment. Anyway, it got me thinking. Who are all these people thankful to?

All the people posting their thanksgivings on various social media platforms aren’t Christians. Likewise, not everyone who will gather with friends and family around a roast turkey (or a deep fried one or a block of tofurkey or whatever) in celebration of our American Thanksgiving holiday is a Christian. Some seem to be thankful to a vague notion of God which isn’t true to His character, and others seem to be thankful to the impersonal universe in general. You can’t really give thanks to a God you don’t know.

I know that when I say I’m thankful for something general–like my church or clean tap water–I mean that I am thankful toward the one true and living God who has revealed Himself through history as recorded in the Bible and through the person and work of Jesus Christ. That God is the one to whom all my thanksgiving is ultimately directed.

Psalm 100 is a great Scripture to consider as we approach Thanksgiving:
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.”
(Psalm 100, ESV)

What about you? Who are your thanks toward? Do you know the God who made you? Do you know His steadfast love that He put on display by covering for all you faults, failures, and faithlessness through His sacrificial death on a cross?

Many people are guilty of receiving God’s good gifts and turning to something or someone else to say thank you. Or, perhaps worse, they’re not giving thanks at all.

For my part, I’d like to thank you for taking a moment with me to consider how we ought to give thanks for “Every good gift and every perfect gift…from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change,” (James 1:17). Let’s praise God for who He is. Let’s thank God for what He’s done. And as often as we have opportunity, let’s point people to salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ so that they may join us in thanksgiving to the glory of God.

October 14, 2013

Random Recommended Readings

These are some articles I’ve read over the past few months. Each one has been sitting as an open tab in my browser since reading them so that I wouldn’t forget to share it somewhere. So, here you go; I’m sharing. There really isn’t an overarching theme other than that I think they were all worth reading. Enjoy!

The Blazing Center – “I Don’t Remember Chemistry and I’m Not Homeless”

More Than Dodgeball – “How to Defuse a Bomb”

Desiring God – “Six Benefits of Ordinary Daily Devotions”

Russell Moore – “What’s at Stake with Internet Pornography”

The Gospel Coalition – “Predators in the Pews: Protecting against Child Abuse in Your Church”

Morf Magazine – “Miley Cyrus and the Church”

Michael J Kruger – “The Complete Series: Ten Basic Facts about the New Testament Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize”

September 24, 2013

Is It Christmas Already?

Filed under: Culture,Ministry,My Life in General — pecaspers @ 6:51 AM
Tags: , , , ,

It is late-September. Do you know what that means? It means that Christmas is right around the corner.

That’s right; I went there.

You can argue that I’m jumping the gun here, but the fact is that most retailers have their Halloween stuff out already and will be putting Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations out in the coming weeks. Our church choir has already begun preparing for our Christmas cantata. Our LibertyYouth Christmas activities have been on my mind for over a month. We are less than 100 days away from the holiday that is the climax of “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the song goes. Ready or not, here Christmas comes.

As stores and churches make long-range preparations for the coming holiday season, I want to challenge you to go ahead and plan to prepare your heart. Ask yourself now whether your past Christmases have been mostly about how the eternal God took on flesh and lived among us, or if they’ve been focused on all the materialistic trappings and traditions with only a tip of a furry red hat to the baby in the manger. Will the biggest gift you give be to yourself, your kids, your spouse, or to your church as the body of the Christ we celebrate? Will you hustle and bustle to get the deals and buy presents and decide that you are too busy to be present among God’s people when they gather to worship Him?

I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on you. I’m trying to give you a heads up so you can make plans that speak clearly about your priorities.

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV) Paul instructed the faithful brothers in Colossae, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”(Colossians 3:1-4, ESV)

What treasures will most consume your Christmastime? Will they be laid up under a tree or laying at Jesus feet? When you set your mind on things above, will that be higher than the reindeer paws up on the housetop?

September 19, 2013

Can You Fix My Heart? – TMA Article Draft

Peter: “Can you fix my heart?”
Me: “Yeah buddy, I can fix it.”
Peter: “Can you really?”
Me: “Yes, I really can.”
Moments later…
Peter: “We did it!”
Me: “Who did it?”
Peter: “You did it!”

That’s a close approximation of an exchange between my son and me from the other day. His side is exact because it was so awesome that I typed into a post draft because I knew I had to write this out to share. As soon as my beloved son said “Can you fix my heart,” I knew there was a sermon illustration in there. However, it just got better and better.

This wasn’t some deep, philosophical request from my almost-three-year-old. My mom had given him a set of tangram magnets. (You know, they’re those sets of simple shapes you use to create larger shapes; you probably played with them in a math class at some point.) He was asking me to put the heart-shaped set back together. When I claimed my ability to fix his heart, he double-checked me. “Can you really?” he asked. He was forgetting two facts: (1)I’m a stinking wiz at tangrams, and (2)I’m the one who put it together the first time.

He stood close to the action as I maneuvered the pieces into position. He “helped” in the sense that as I put the pieces into place he would touch some of them, often sliding them slightly out of position so I had to nudge them back. He tried to claim that “we” did it, but he was honest enough to admit that it was really me who had put the heart back together.

If you don’t see where I’m going with this, then pay attention and get ready to be introduced to the one true and living God, the one who made you.

He throws a party in heaven every time one of us comes to him and says, “Can you fix my heart?” (See Luke 15). But we also often ask, “Can you really?” He is the one who made us in the first place. He is a master at both creation and restoration. It is His joy to take the broken heart we have and give us a new and better one (see Ezekiel 36:26, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21-23, John 7:38, Hebrews 8:10, etc.). He is also good and tender so that he endures us when we claim, “We did it!” “We” didn’t do it. He did it in us — or can do it in you. You and I cry out for the mending of our messed up hearts, but He does all the fixing. (I’ll leave it to you to discuss and discover how dead people are even able to cry out for new hearts, but that’s beyond the scope of my story.)

The point of it all is that God the Father sent God the Son to live, die, and rise from death so that all who will believe in Him can receive God the Holy Spirit, fixing our hearts and bringing glory to God. You see, God is the ultimate puzzle solver, and He is the one who put you together in the first place. Can you look at your remade heart and shout “You did it!” triumphantly to Him? It all begins with a simple, humble, child-like request to a good Father.

[This is the original draft of my article published in the 9/17/2013 edition of the Tallassee Tribune as the contributed article on behalf of the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance.]

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August 15, 2013

TMA Article Draft – Happy New School Year

[Originally contributed to the Tallassee Tribune as the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance article for the August 13, 2013 edition.]

Let me be one of the first to wish you a happy new year, a new school year that is. Next week the school-age citizens of our area will be returning to the hallowed halls of learning. Along with that return, everyone else’s lives will lock back into a steadier routine. Coworkers won’t be off on vacation, parents won’t be desperate to find daily activities to occupy their offspring, children won’t be out playing in yards throughout the day, teenagers won’t be hanging out until one day fades into the next–for the most part. Whether you have kids or not, the school year affects all of us as surely as a rising tide raises all boats.

The return to school always brings up one question year after year. What did you do with your summer? It’s the title of an essay for every student at some point: “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Did you go anywhere? Did you have any adventures? Did you accomplish any goals? Did you read any good books or see any good movies? Did you work your tail off because in your vocation summer is a busy season? What have you got to show for the last couple months of your life?

Now for the pastoral twist.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” (ESV). Did you make a wise use of your summer, and did you ask God on the front end how He wanted you to spend it? If you are like most people, you probably didn’t stop to consider what God thought of your vacation plans, your summer reading, or your bathing suit. And there’s a lesson there; Christians aren’t supposed to be just like everyone else. In context, that is precisely what Paul is pointing out in Ephesians 5. He even begins this section with the audacious instruction to, “…be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Eph. 5:1-2, ESV).

Now as worthy a point as that is, there is a greater one yet. Do you realize that you will be held accountable before God for how you spent, not just your summer, but every moment of your life? Do you realize that he finds how you have spent and will spend much of your time to be an infinitely offensive evil against His holy character? But thank God that “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” so that we might stand in his infinite righteousness before God. Being both sinless man and infinite God, Jesus was able to satisfy God’s wrath against our sin and restore to a right relationship with Himself all who will repent (turn away from sin and self-righteous attempts to be “good enough”) and believe in Him.

So the real question isn’t “What did you do with your summer?” What is important is this: What have you done with Jesus?

July 15, 2013

TMA Article – I Love the Bible

Filed under: Ministry,My Life in General,Tallassee Tribune drafts — pecaspers @ 3:00 PM

I love the Bible. Do you want to know why I love the Bible? I love the Bible because it tells me about God, and I love God. Do you want to know why I love God? I love God because He loved me first and because He is good and because He has revealed His goodness and love to me. Do you know how I came to know this? It’s in the Bible; see 1 John 4:19, Psalm 100:5, and Luke 10:21-24 for a sampling. I love the Bible.

There is no book like the Bible. The Bible is the number one best-selling book of all time. The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in the world. (And any good translation goes back to the original languages, so please don’t give me any of that “it’s a translation of a translation of a translation” mess.) There are more ancient hand-written copies of the Bible, in whole or in part, than any other ancient book. Most ancient literary works exist in less than ten or twenty copies which date to a thousand or more years after they were originally written. There are over twenty-five thousand ancient biblical manuscripts (with that many copies, sorting out the copyist errors gets relatively easy), the time between the originals and existing copies being as short as forty years for some New Testament books. Why did ancient Jews and early Christians diligently copy and distribute their Scriptures? It’s because they loved the Bible. They loved the Bible because it told them about God.

I finished reading the Bible for the almost fourth time last week. I say almost fourth because one time it was The Daily Bible which arranges the Scriptures chronologically and blends redundant passages together; so that time doesn’t fully count. The translation I just finished was the 2007 edition of the English Standard Version. Do you know what I did this morning? I pulled out The Holman Illustrated Study Bible, and I started reading it. But I didn’t start in Genesis 1:1, I started with the Introduction because it’s a study Bible with lots of notes, so I wanted to know exactly where the translators and editors were coming from. Do you know why I did that? It’s because I love the Bible.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I love the Bible. I love it because it tells me about God. And I love God. It’s not just instructions. It’s God’s story of how He created Man, of how Man rebelled against Him, of how He provided a way of salvation from our rebellion by punishing Himself in our place, of how He sent out His people to tell the world so that all might turn to Him and be saved, and of how He will come and judge the world and recreate a new home for His people to be with Him. So, I read and re-read and study and meditate on and pray through the Bible.

In this room with me, I have at least eight copies of different translations of the Bible in English, a Hebrew Old Testament, a Greek New Testament, and a small stack of The New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs from the Gideons. I have these to study from, to share, to give away, and a couple for sentimental reasons. I have them because I love the Bible. You probably have one or more copy of the Bible in your home, but do you love the Bible?

It’s not, “Do you have positive feelings about the Bible?” The question is this: Do you love the Bible? I’d be a bad husband to my wife if I never spent time with her; my love is evident in my actions. I’d be a bad father to my son if I never did anything with him and never said anything to him; my love is evident in my actions. God wrote a book. Do you love God? Have you read His book? Do you love His book? I love the Bible.

[Originally written as a Draft for the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance contributed article in the Tallassee Tribune in July 2012.]

July 10, 2013

TMA Artical Draft – Crazy Talk

Filed under: Ministry,My Life in General,Tallassee Tribune drafts — pecaspers @ 12:00 PM

Have you ever said something then realized that it was a crazy thing to say? Maybe you hurt someone’s feelings, maybe you claimed something outrageous about yourself, maybe you stated something with authority that wasn’t accurate, or maybe you boasted of some future plan that you couldn’t possibly fulfill. I have done that sort of thing more often than I care to admit. I’ve probably done it more than I even realize. The good thing is that I’ve gotten pretty good at admitting my mistakes and eating crow (the secret is in the sauce).

Jesus said some pretty crazy stuff, but he never had to apologize for it. That’s because He was always right. One of my favorite crazy things Jesus said is in John 8:46. After calling a bunch of self-righteous folks liars and sons of the Devil, he says “Who among you can convict me of sin? If I tell you the truth, why don’t you believe Me?” (HCSB). The response back is that they call Him a demon-possessed half-breed and eventually go looking for rocks to throw at Him when He claims to be the I AM who existed before Abraham (see John 8:48-59).

Can you imagine what the response would be if you stood up before a bunch of people who did not like you and said “Tell me one thing I’ve ever done wrong?” Some would be dumbstruck by the absurdity, others would begin shouting grievances, others would sit down with a pen and paper and get back to you later, and at least one guy would go blog about it. It can be helpful and humbling to ask close friends to point out your blind spots, but you would be crazy to offer that sort of challenge to people who already hate you. Crazy, that is, unless you really are without any flaws. If you are perfect, if you have never made a mistake, if you do all things well and only say what God has told you to say, then you are confronting people with the stark difference between you and them, between you and everyone really.

The crowd in Jesus’ day didn’t like what they heard, but they couldn’t come up with an a single sin with which to convict him. In fact, the only thing they could get any traction with when they finally sought to put him to death was that He claimed to be God and King. The trouble is that He was–and is–God and King. He came back from the dead as a proof of all His claims.

It’s a good thing He did, too. When he sacrificed Himself, He made the way for me and you to be forgiven before God of all the crazy things we’ve said, done, and thought. Because of His victory over sin and death, we can have peace with God and with one another. So the next time you are on either the transmitting or receiving end of some crazy talk, remember the one who is without sin. His blood bought us reconciliation with God. And if we have been forgiven our foolish words, then we must also forgive others for theirs. Otherwise, what we’re saying is that their sin against us is bigger than ours against God. Now, that’s crazy.

[Draft for an article published in the Tallassee Tribune, July 9, 2013]

April 15, 2013

We Have a Crap Problem

We have a crap problem at our house. Stay with me; I’m going somewhere with this.

My son is potty training. While he’s pretty good about going pee-pee, the poor kid struggles to go poop. He holds on to it for too long then dances around on his tip-toes saying “oh dear, oh dear.” If you ask if he needs to poop, then he’ll tell you that he just needs to pee-pee. But of course, that’s not the solution to his problem. Eventually, he’ll either poop in his pants, or we’ll sit him on the potty and enter into a battle of wills to keep him there until he just can’t hold it anymore. Then we celebrate. “Look! I put my poops in the potty!” “Good job!” …as if he hadn’t been fighting his need to poop for hours or days.

It’s extremely frustrating, potty training that is, from a parental perspective. I’m sure it’s emotionally hard on my wife to sit watching her son in pain knowing that she could just tell him it was O.K. to go in his pants. However, she had a preschooler in her class once who would ask for a diaper to poop in for years after he had mastered the other side of potty-training, and she doesn’t want that for us.

As a man, I like to fix things. So as a father, I want to fix his problem, but I can neither physically force him to poop nor go for him. I have also had no success at commanding him to poop or threatening to punish him for not going when I can clearly see he’s struggling to hold it in. (Don’t call DHR. If you have been through it as a parent, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then one day you will.) We are trying to train him in how to deal with his bodily waste in a healthy way, but he wants to keep it inside and deny that there is any need to let it go.

The poor boy gave me a new line the other day while he was sitting on the potty after about ten minutes solid of stumbling around on tip-toes trying to put together a puzzle rather unsuccessfully due to his decreased ability to focus his motor skills. I said to him, “Just let your poops go. You’ll feel so much better.” And he looked at me and said, “I don’t know how!”

Now, he does know how. This isn’t the first time we’ve put him on the potty, and it’s certainly not the first bowel movement he’s ever had. Here’s where this article will take it’s turn.

Isn’t this exactly what we (include yourself if you are a Christian) put our Heavenly Father through? In so many ways, isn’t he trying to show us how to get the crap out of our lives so we can stay focused on enjoying Him and enjoying doing the good work He has set us apart to do?

The apostle Paul wrote this to the Philippian church after having described his own Jewish, self-righteous pedigree:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)

The word translated as “rubbish” is a light vulgarity. Depending on your generation and geography, it’s roughly equivalent to crap or the “s-word.” If you are walking barefoot in the grass and squish down into a warm pile of dog feces, what word do you use? That’s the way you should read this text.

Paul says all the things that he once thought were so important are really “rubbish.” It’s not that this stuff is worthless, rather it’s that it has negative value. Paul is saying that he considers himself worse off because of all the things he might be tempted to find some significance or value in.

You have seen that show Hoardes, right? They try to help people who have amassed so much useless stuff that it is litterally (see what I did there) a danger to their physical health and has usually caused relational breakdown with family and friends. That’s what Paul says we are, spiritual hoarders.

Paul wants us to recognize that life–real, good, glorious, wholesome, true, beautiful, eternal life–is hindered by all the mess we falsely think has worth.

We are children of God who do not know what to do with our feces. We need to poop, we’re crying out, we’re distracted, we aren’t able to enjoy being with our Father and family,
but we won’t admit to ourselves that letting it go is as simple as it sounds.

And it makes me realize how frustrated God must be with me at times. And it makes me think about how good a Father He is that he doesn’t just grab me and squeeze. And it makes me wonder why we dance around and try to stay busy ignoring what we’re in desperate need of expelling. And it makes me stop and consider what I might be missing out on in God’s Kingdom because of the earthly things I cling to for support.

We have a crap problem.

Let’s remember, too, going potty isn’t a one time thing. I have to take the trash out of my house every day or two and to the curb once a week. You may rid yourself of rubbish today only to find there is more to be rid of tomorrow. It’s only natural.

Praise God, however, because there is a day coming when the King will renew everything and all the broken things that bring junk into our lives will be set right. There is no “rubbish” in God’s house.

Until then, learn from the Father how to get rid of the waste in your life. Don’t be like my son. Just let it go. You’ll feel so much better, and you’ll make Daddy proud. He loves to see his children mature and succeed.

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