pecaspers: a Blog in transition

January 22, 2014

Whiners All

My son is sometimes quite the whiner. The other day he was crying because he wanted to both eat and wear some candy jewelry, which he was already wearing and had permission to eat. Another day he had a full-blown meltdown because I pulled his pants up for him. In fact, that previous sentence could have ended with a hundred different benign actions and would still have been true. Don’t get me wrong; I love my son, and he is awesome most of the time. However, he is like any other three year-old and throws a fit over little things regularly. He has plenty of time to grow out of it.

God could say the same about me. He could tell you of how often I let little things get me down. What kind of little things? It really doesn’t matter. Pain, conflict, fear, difficult circumstances of any sort are all little things in comparison to God and His Kingdom. And that isn’t me making light of whatever troubles you or I might face; it’s me inviting you to step back and get a better perspective on the suffering common to all of us and specific to each of us. This is for all of us because, if you are honest, you have to admit with me that we’re all whiners sometimes.

The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal,” (ESV). We must keep in mind that Paul had seen plenty of affliction that we would naturally categorize as neither light nor momentary. He had already seen plenty of rejection by his own people including being stoned and left for dead. Eventually, he would endure beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, and danger from all sides. However, if you back up in 2 Corinthians 4, you’ll see that Paul endures all (and encourages all Christians to endure all) because the good news is in him and his greatest joy is in getting it out.

God, in His goodness, made a way for sinful people like Paul, me, and you to be brought into a right relationship with Him through the sacrificial death of Jesus–God in human flesh. This is the message Paul suffered to spread so that people would hear it and believe it and turn to God in response to it. Paul looked beyond his present troubles in thanksgiving for those who were receiving salvation by faith in Christ Jesus through his labor; he says as much in the early part of many of his letters. As we progress into 2014 and beyond, I wonder how much more Kingdom impact we would have on those around us if we would complain less and express thankfulness more, focus on our troubles less and consider the gospel more. Let’s find out. What do you say?

[This article was submitted to the Tallassee Tribune on behalf of the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance for the January 21 edition of the paper.]

April 18, 2013

Putting Her Shoes On

A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook wall about her daughter being so convinced that she was about to go to the store to get a pink scooter that she was putting her shoes on. The mom was not planning on going anywhere. It was raining outside. A new pink scooter was not in the family budget. Nevertheless, girl thought she needed her shoes because, I imagine, she just “knew” she was about to go get a scooter.

I think that’s part of what Jesus means when he tells us we must have faith like a child if we are to enter his Kingdom (Matt. 18:1-4, Mark 10:13-16, and elsewhere). We are to trust in Him and act on that trust no matter what.

It’s also a beautiful picture of this little girls hope in the goodness of her parents. Mommy is good, and pink scooters are good, therefor Mommy will take me to the store to get a pink scooter. It’s time to put my shoes on.

In this respect, I’m reminded of Luke 11:9-13:

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (ESV, emphasis mine)

Christians are to pray expecting our good Father to give us the good gifts for which we ask. And as Luke here points out, the best of what God has to give is Himself. He gives His Holy Spirit, not begrudgingly, freely to His Children. He has already given His Son to take away our sin and give us new life. He has also given the Holy Spirit as His seal, His stamp of approval, His mark of authenticity for those He has redeemed. It is our part to have a firm, confident, faithful hope in the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in us. We are to be being filled by the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

With our faith and hope resting solidly on the goodness of God, we are to trust that the gift is given and walk in light of it. Put on the Spirit of Christ, walk in faithful obedience no matter what feelings or circumstances may try to keep you from it.

It’s raining, mom’s not getting ready, we can’t afford it… Would you put your shoes on?

Truth is, she’s getting a scooter, mom found a deal, it’s on its way, but it isn’t pink. Hey, every illustration breaks down somewhere.

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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