The One Thing That Keeps You From Truly Worshiping

It is guilt that keeps us from worshiping God in freedom and celebration.

Guilt is so heavy. It is smothering. And it leads us to all sorts of places. We find it awkward to confess our sins to other people, for fear of judgmental behaviors. We are afraid of losing things we hold dear, because losing relationships, because of our own personal sin, is too great a price to pay for our own various struggles.

Private, secret sin is so personal. And so destructive. And so heavy.

And it leads us to some strange form of penance. It leads us to become vigorous in our own traditions in our own churches. We become almost vitriolic in those traditions. We make a stand for those traditions, and declare, solemnly, that we are right. Guilt pushes us to hold fast to what has always been there, and has always made us comfortable.

Yet, when we respond to guilt like this, we have given guilt more power than it is due. We give it the power to determine what, in our lives, will become an idol. Many of us have never been taught the true release found in Jesus. We think, instead, that true release is found in a human system that seems comfortable and right. Guilt binds us to those traditions, and we become enslaved by them because of our personal guilt.

I’ve done that. You’ve done that. I know people, right now, who are doing it. They are so bound to the traditions of their church that they have sacrificed their own personal integrity to uphold a system that is inherently flawed. Instead of running to Jesus, they are running to the idol they can see, can attend, and can critique.

The freedom Jesus offers, though, is complete. We can walk away from our addictions, from our sins, from our secrets. Only this freedom can release us from guilt. It releases us from guilt. It supersedes all traditions. It overwhelms all human systems. It exposes our own idolatry.

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The book of Hebrews teaches this much better than I can, though. Today’s reading, from Hebrews 8 through Hebrews 10, exposes the flaws of tradition, and the maintenance required when we try to burden our own sin, instead of releasing it.

There were sacrificial requirements for sin, in the Old Testament, that Hebrews completely exposes as unable to cleanse people from guilt. Here they are:

Sacrifices were ineffective.

… it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4; NIV84)

Sacrifices were endlessly repetitious.

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (10:1)

Sacrifices could not permanently relieve the burden of guilt and sin.

… indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings — external regulations applying until the time of the new order. (9:9, 10)

Sacrifices were forever tainted by the sin of the priests who offered them.

But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year,and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. (9:7)

It’s not a small step to take, to find that these things could never cleanse the heart.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. (9:13)

In other words, these sacrifices only made a person think they felt better about their sin and their guilt. It never took it away.

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Our great tragedy, though, is not necessarily understanding these things. Our great tragedy is finding ourselves back in the same situation as the Israelites.

We don’t sacrifice bulls and goats and such. Obviously, we don’t. But we do sacrifice a lot of other things.

We “sacrifice” our gifts and talents. We “sacrifice” our time. We “sacrifice” our money. We “sacrifice” our resources.

We don’t give them. We “sacrifice” them. We place them on the altar, and by doing so, we start thinking that we feel better about our sin and guilt, because we start to think that our “sacrifices” our so needed.

But we still live with the tremendous load of guilt. “Getting involved,” or “being recruited” to work in some church program cannot relieve our guilt, regardless of how hard we work, or how talented we are. Nothing we can offer, of value, can replace the grace of Jesus.

As sobering and hurtful as that sounds, our gifts and resources and talents and money and time are not needed. When we start thinking we are needed, we start thinking that we have something that can compete with the full atonement and release and forgiveness Jesus gives us.

Yes. I said that. The full atonement and sacrifice of Jesus can never be replicated, even in our petty “sacrifices.” God may call us to a certain place, to give our time and resources, but he does so because it will transform us, not because we are needed. God has given millions of people the same talents he has given you and me. We aren’t unique.

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This is full and complete absolution of guilt and sin:

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (10:15-17)

God has penetrated all rituals, programs, and sacrifices that could only make us feel better, and has, himself, written his law upon our hearts. And he remembers our sins no more.

No more.

That is freedom. That frees us worship. To serve. To bless. To praise. To pray. To share. To offer. To give. To live. To love. To endure. To teach.

Because we have nothing — not one thing — to fear. And we have nothing that could ever compete with this.

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This is my 75th straight post, in 75 straight days, while reading and blogging through the New Testament. God is continuing to do something supernatural in me. If you want to check out the other posts, click here. Thanks for reading these meager wonderings.

Fringe Benefits (Day Nineteen)

Welcome to day nineteen in the ninety days of reading through the New Testament. Today’s reading is from Luke 7 through Luke 9.

And again, Jesus’ acceptance of those on the fringes of society takes center stage.

Luke, in trying to construct an incredible factual account of Jesus, and continuing this story in his companion book, constantly insists upon placing the story of Jesus at the intersection of non-Jewish people, and those on the fringe of society.

  • He heals the child of a centurion (not a Jew), and resurrects the son of a widow (a woman, in a male-dominated world), both in Luke 7. And, again, both stories concern children.
  • Jesus is anointed by a “sinful woman” in Luke 7 (again, a woman in a male-dominated world).
  • Jesus performs an exorcism in Luke 8, of a man no longer allowed into the city because of his demon-possession (he was ostracized from the Jewish community).
  • In Luke 8, he again resurrects a young girl (a girl, in a male-dominated Jewish world).
  • Jesus also heals a woman in Luke 8, simply when she touched his clothing (again, a woman in a man’s world).
  • In Luke 9 Jesus heals a young boy (a child, in a man’s world).

In the New Testament book of Acts, Luke spends much time defending Paul’s ministry to the very same people. Paul traveled into the Roman world, to bring the message of freedom to Gentiles. Luke is, after all, making sure we all understand this, and he does so by placing Jesus in the lives of the outcasts in his first volume, so the second volume of his works will make more sense.

There is a change in story in today’s reading though. Luke sets the stage for Jesus’ passion with a statement in Luke 9:51 that Jesus “resolutely” sets out for Jerusalem.

But before everything in this story becomes focused on the climax of human history, Luke records one final statement about Jesus’ very public and controversial life. Here it is:

Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. (Luke 9:48)

Luke ends Jesus’ time with the outcasts with this very powerful idea.

Matthew may use this very same story in Matthew 18 to highlight a simple faith, but Luke uses it to highlight Jesus’ acceptance, and protection, for the weakest.

This good news of freedom will be available to the most vulnerable in society.

And while these interactions show us the depth of Jesus’ compassion, we also see the flattening of his expanding kingdom.

Everyone is welcomed.

We should see Jesus defending and empowering those who have lost everything, and who had no more to lose.

It’s a stark contrast to our idea of community, though. We build community based upon similarities. Church attendance is held together by those with similar interests. We’ve assumed that the community of our gatherings is God’s extreme intention.

But our non-involvement, and our silent non-acceptance of those on the fringes of our own society, speak greatly to our own depravity. We’ve built ivory castles, and asked people to come to us.

We’ve built strange structures of silent leadership in these gatherings. We protect our stately buildings. We hold high the public presentations of worship and teaching. But we teach truth, and become content at what we present, by saying that those who do not join us have turned a cold shoulder to God.

Jesus, though, in a startling way, never spent much time teaching these people he healed, and his acceptance of these outcasts was never based upon how much they learned first.

There were no bible studies. No worship leading. No bible classes. No board meetings. And no baptisms.

They were healed. They were accepted. They were loved. And they worshiped.

Snapshot

The times are changing.

I compiled these statistics for the leadership of our church. They are just brief snapshots of our culture, as well as statistics on church growth and membership.  Our unique American brand of life is evident here, and is noticed in statistics that are current.

While these statistics may cause a bit of culture shock, the statistics on declining church membership should be equally, if not more, shocking. And it is not a far stretch to assume that the first series of statistics are relevant to the second series of statistics.

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Culture

  • Social Media
    • There are, now, 800 million Facebook accounts.
    • More than 50% of active users log into Facebook every day.
    • There are more than 2 billion posts liked and commented on every day.
    • 250 million photos are uploaded every day.
    • 75% of Facebook users are outside the U.S.
    • It is available in 70 languages.
    • 47% of Facebook users have swear words on their Facebook profiles.
    • The average Facebook user spends almost 8 hours on Facebook every month.
    • Facebook links about sex are shared 90% more than average.[1]
    • 41% of teenagers are very unsure about the future of email, and 15% already consider it dead.[2]
    • The words “retweet” and “sexting” are now part of the Oxford English Dictionary.[3]
    • And shopping on “Cyber Monday” – the Monday following “Black Friday” – this year added sales in excess of $1.25 billion, up 22% from the totals of 2010, breaking last year’s record high.[4]
    • Americans viewed 42 billion online videos in October, 2011.
      • That is 21.1 hours per viewer.
      • Half of those were watched on YouTube, or other Google sites.[5]
  • Millennials
    • Half of all 12-year-olds are on Facebook (some 1.78 million), and they are evading Facebook’s age limit requirements.[6]
    • 45% of Millennials (those between 18 and 34 years old) use their mobile devices to research product details before buying big ticket items. (As compared to 34% of those between 35 and 54.)
    • 28% of these use their devices for location-based apps multiple times a day.[7]
    • 33% of the more than 1400 18-29-year-olds surveyed said that Internet access has become a basic need ranking behind air, water, food and shelter.
    • 64% said they would prefer an Internet connection to a having a car.
    • 40% said that the Internet is more important than dating or going out with friends or even listening to music.[8]
  • Video Games
    • Seven of the top 10 video games, sold in America in 2011, were “shooter games.”[9]
  • Music
    • “92% of the “Top Ten” Billboard songs are about sex.”
    • Of the top selling 174 songs in 2009, each contained, on average, 10.49 sex-related phrases per song.[10]
  • Family Time
    • “The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.”
    • “Family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the development of vocabulary of younger children.”
    • “Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18 year olds.”
    • “Adolescent girls who have frequent family meals, and a positive atmosphere during those meals, are less likely to have eating disorders.”
    • “Kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to say they get mainly A’s and B’s in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week.”[11]
    • “Family time has decreased since 1976.”
      • “The percentage of respondents who engaged frequently in attending religious services together decreased from 38 percent in 1976 to 29 percent in 1997.
      • The percentage who engaged frequently in watching television together decreased from 54 percent to 42 percent.
      • The percentage who engaged frequently in sitting and talking together decreased from 53 percent to 42 percent.
      • The percentage of respondents who frequently have the main meal together on weekdays decreased from 72 percent to 58 percent — and the percentage who take a vacation together decreased from 53 percent to 38 percent.”[12]

Church Growth, or Lack of, In America:

  • “How many people do you know who will, most likely, not walk into a church building? They are not alone. Western cultures are facing a major crisis. With 83.6% of America not attending a conventional church on a given weekend and approximately 95% of the people in other western cultures not attending a conventional church …”
  • “Approximately 80% of all churches in North America have reached a plateau or are declining. The vast majority of the church’s growth comes from “switchers” – people who move from one church to another.”
  • “There is precious little conversion growth. Researchers suggest somewhere between 1-3%.”
  • Church attendance is declining:
    1990 — 20.4% of Americans attended church on a given weekend
    2000 — 18.7% of Americans attended church on a given weekend
    2005 — 17.5% of Americans attended church on a given weekend
    2010 — 16.2% estimated church attendance
    2020 — 14.4% estimated church attendance
    2050 — 10.7% estimated church attendance if Jesus has not come.
  • “Other western cultures, like Europe, Australia, and New Zealand record church attendance ranging between 2% – 8%.”
  • “As of 2008 over 3,500 people leave the church every day.”
  • “The yearly decline in the percentage of people attending a Christian church was faster from 2000—2005 than it was from 1990—2000.”
  • “The average church in the United States will spend as much as 64 percent of its budget on staff salaries.
    Additionally, it will spend as much as 30 percent of its offerings on maintaining its buildings.
    Researchers say that churches spend between 82 – 96 percent of their financial resources on maintaining themselves.
    In 2001 “the total cost of Christian outreach worldwide averages $330,000 for each newly baptized person. The cost per baptism in the United States tops $1.5 million.”
  • “Fuller Theological Seminary did a research study that found that if a church is 10 or more years old, it takes 85 people to lead 1 person to Christ. If a church is less than 3 years old, it takes only 3 people to lead 1 person to Christ.”
  • “Between 1990 and 2050 church attendance will grow from 50 million to 60 million.
    Census estimates forecast a population growth from 248 million to 520 million people.
    In other words, America would need (as of 2008) 15,000 new churches of any kind every year to keep up with population.”
  • “Every year, approximately 4000 new churches open their doors. Every year approximately 7000 churches close their doors for the last time.”
  • “Agreeing with other researchers, George Barna, in his book Revolution, has confirmed that many are going to house churches, in a spiritual quest of a more relevant relationship with God.”
  • “The new Revolution differs in that its primary impetus is not salvation among the unrepentant but the personal renewal and recommitment of believers. The dominant catalyst is people’s desperation for a genuine relationship with God. The renewal of that relationship spurs believers to participate in spreading the gospel. Rather than relying on a relative handful of inspired preachers to promote a national revival, the emerging Revolution is truly a grassroots explosion of commitment to God that will refine the Church and result in a natural and widespread immersion in outreach.” (From George Barna’s book, Revolution.)[13]

[13] simplechurchathome.com/Why.html

Television and Life: My TV, My Movies, and Jesus

no-tvHere’s the scenario:

Someone rings the doorbell of your home. It’s about 7:36 in the evening. You’re sitting down. Your phone is somewhere on the couch next to you, ready to check Facebook when you get bored. The television is on, and you are watching something you really, really like. It’s so good you decide the dishes can wait.

But the doorbell rings.

You check yourself fast. You are in some lounge wear, but nothing too uncommon for anyone to wear, in their own house, after a long day. So you walk over to the door, and peek out of the window. It’s a man. Unassuming. Nice.  One hand in a pocket. The other holding a pizza. You didn’t order a pizza, so you assume this nice young delivery man has gotten the address wrong. So you open the door. As soon as it opens, you see his smile. It’s a good, healthy smile. Good dental work. He opens the box and says, “Your favorite, right?”

And it is.

“I thought you would like this. Mind if I come in?”

Yes, he really said that. But it’s not creepy. It’s somewhat familiar. Especially after he introduces himself.

“My name is Jeshua. Most people call me Jesus. And I decided to come to your house today. And I brought pizza.”

And he is telling the truth. You realize, at that moment, in some ethereal way, that the Son of God is standing on your porch, with your favorite pizza.

“I just came to watch some TV with you. Do you mind?”

And there is the question. Do we mind?

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Forgive my literary allowances. I mean no disrespect at all. It’s a similar story, really, to when Jesus visited Zacchaeus, the tax collector, to share dinner with him (Luke 19). Jesus interrupted Zacchaeus’ life.

If Jesus really, truly, came to your door, to watch TV with you, what would be your very first instinct? Be honest. Because if you’re just brushing aside that question, then you are failing to realize that Jesus is already present, in your company, as you watch television.

That makes us very uncomfortable. It made me very uncomfortable.

I rationalized every viewing moment in really crazy ways, and here they are.  You may find them familiar:

  • If the storyline featured good, triumphing over evil, then it obviously had to be a spiritual program of deep searching.
  • I would look for glances and nuances of Gospel in shows, and movies, in hopes that if I found just one moment of “Gospel,” then my time, and money, would be worth it.
  • I always offered a disclaimer when reviewing a particular program, or movie, for some friends.  I would always be sure to mention how spiritual it was. And then be careful to say, “It’s a little violent in some areas.” Or, “If they had only cut out the sex scene, the movie would have been awesome.” Or, “I just wish they wouldn’t cuss so much.”

Those rationalities began to generate a fair amount of friction, though, when I began to radically rethink what I watch, and how I chose to be entertained. This post is the third of such posts, detailing my decision to ultimately cancel my TV, but this one veers into some other territory, including films and movies, and my decision regarding how I approach those as well.

I am not, and will not judge, your viewing preferences, though. Everyone is on their own journey. This is mine.

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The first time I ever truly thought about discretion with movies was when I was in junior high. I was in a class, at a popular student seminar, in the midst of a weekend of worship and learning. The teacher, whom I do not know, and will probably never know, made a comment in his class that made me think about what I decided to watch. I disregarded his advice for a long time, but that comment eventually made me rethink everything.

He commented on movies, and entertainment. And he said this, quoting from a passage in Psalms 11:4-7:

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;
the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.
He hates those who love violence.
He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked,
punishing them with scorching winds.
For the righteous Lord loves justice.
The virtuous will see his face.

“The Lord hates those who love violence.” That was the statement.

I was offended.

It was an all-guys class, and the teacher was teaching about what it meant to be a man. And his statement was vastly different from what a room-full of adolescent guys wanted to hear.

Because we are taught life in violent ways. Really. We are taught to watch violence. We are taught to be entertained by violence.

Football is violent. MMA is violent. UFC is violent. Most, if not all films and movies, have violence.

And if you love any of those violent things, then, at best, you are offended. At worst, you’ve already left this site.

If you stayed, though, you probably began to dissect the meaning of this verse. I did. And your first thought in this dissection probably was what is love? Because the pronouncement in this passage is against those who love violence. And your reaction is probably somewhere along this train of thought: I don’t love violence. I have never loved violence. And I really don’t want God to hate me.

And then your reaction probably goes in this direction:  so, then, what is violence? Does that mean actually killing people? You probably don’t regularly kill people.

Or … could it mean watching people kill other people, even if it is simulated? Could it really, truly, mean that?

That kind of reaction, and dissection, kept me from making any changes in my viewing preferences.  I was fearful to further investigate, and decipher, the love for violence for which the psalmist writes.

And all the while, I spent lots of money to watch movies that were gruesome and violent. Twenty years after that class, I began to make the connection. I don’t “love” violence. But I have certainly supported it. I have bought hundreds (thousands?) of tickets for movies that were violent, and disturbing. I watched television programs where violence was prominent.

Something had to give.

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On vacation in 2009, my wife and I went to the theater while our daughters remained with my wife’s parents that evening. We were going to see an action flick of some sort. Our oldest daughter was eight, and we let her know that we were going to the movies, and that we would be back later. We were leaving, and my six-year-old daughter (at the time) asked my eight-year-old daughter what Mommy and Daddy were going to see.  My eight-year-old answered her question with this:  “They’re going to see a bad show.”

The phrase “bad show” in our house has a wide definition, essentially meaning any show on television that we decided was not entirely good or wholesome for our daughters – programs that offer little, or no, moral lesson or educational content.

In spite of their conversation, my wife and I watched the movie anyway. We even had a brief conversation about what we could watch, and couldn’t watch, and decided that we were the adults, and we had good discernment, and different rules applied to us. Even then, I knew that decision would not last. In my heart, I couldn’t bear the thought that my daughters believed we were watching something we believed they shouldn’t watch. That sort of decision-making, as parents, would teach our kids a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. And that wasn’t acceptable for us.

Later in the summer, two months later actually, we paid money to see Transformers 2. We believed it to be a harmless movie, but the first few minutes placed the female lead in poses that were completely exploitative. I was embarrassed that I brought my wife to this movie. And I was ashamed that my daughters would one day find out we watched this movie.

So the conversation about what we watch, even before we cancelled our cable, became intense, with incredible amounts of time given to a decision we both knew was inevitable. And here it is: If we thought a movie was inappropriate for even our four-year-old, then it was inappropriate for us.

Our ability to give our children a home, where God is king, was being compromised for a couple of hours to watch something we would never watch in the presence of Jesus.

So we simply stopped watching.

We had already stopped watching movies with an R rating. So we simply dropped the rating level, and stopped watching movies with a PG-13 rating. Which meant, obviously, that our movie-watching experience was about to drastically be reduced. Most movies of any cultural importance have that rating, and so we immediately felt this decision. Most social conversations are about movies. We were immediately left out of many of those. Our exclusion, to us, was glaringly obvious.

But we stuck to our guns, especially considering how long it took us to make that decision. Movies with either a PG or G rating are all that we would watch.

Our decision to stop watching PG-13 movies resulted into two extraordinary things. It eventually lead me to cancel my television. It also led me to rethink my relationship with visual entertainment. I discovered, quite quickly, that I could actually live without movies.

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There were really three, core things that eventually culminated in my decision to just stop:

  • The culmination of knowing I watch everything in the presence of God …
  • Refusing to lie to my daughters about what I watched …
  • Refusing to let them watch some of the things I was watching.

Those were enough to convict me. They should have convicted me much, much earlier.

But there was another consideration.

As a minister who teaches teenagers, and as a minister who leads worship, I found a great amount of friction between my entertainment choices and teaching themes. It was not an easy thing to lead worship on Sunday morning, to a large church, when I spent the previous night watching movies, or programs, that just weren’t holy.

My responsibility, my ordination, and my calling, further convicted me to just stop it all.

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There are countless lists of sins in the New Testament.  It seems that Paul, as he wrote to the scattered churches, felt compelled, from time to time, to make things incredibly simple. He was quite adept with grand, theological themes, but even he realized, like every good preacher, that simplicity is often more powerful. Here is one of those lists, with a little bit of a prelude, from Galatians 5:

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Powerful, isn’t it? If the spirit of God, the agent of life and holy energy, really commands your life, then the desire to do evil dissipates. Reflect upon that, and think about what you watch. True, you may not be “doing evil” simply by sitting in a chair and watching any particular show or movie.  I certainly didn’t believe I was “doing evil.”

But are you being entertained by others doing evil?

So, true to the previous post, I want to offer you some questions with which I struggled.  Be warned, though. They will convict you.

  • What do those shows, or movies, display for you to watch?
  • What about Glee?
  • House?
  • The Office?
  • Or any of a dozen movies?
  • Do they exploit sex as “a thing to be had?”
  • Do they use violence, and anger, to get your attention?
  • Do they push the envelope of acceptability?
  • Do they contain sexual immorality?
  • Impurity?
  • Lustful pleasures?
  • Idolatry?
  • Sorcery?
  • Hostility?
  • Quarreling?
  • Jealousy?
  • Outbursts of anger?
  • Selfish ambition?
  • Dissension?
  • Division?
  • Envy?
  • Drunkenness?
  • Wild parties?
  • Why are we really entertained by these? What does that really say about us?
  • What does our entertainment choices say about satisfying the craving of our own sinful nature?
  • Why do we feed that craving, anyway?
  • What does that say about the decisions we make on behalf of our spouses?
  • What does that say about the decisions we make on behalf of our kids?

And, perhaps, the biggest, and most convicting question of all is this one, which ultimately led me to make some fairly radical changes.

  • Why do we fill our spare time with images, and words, that could never be displayed or spoken as worship to God?

Whatever we do must bring God glory. Every decision must magnify Him in our lives. Every word we say, every image we view, every relationship we entertain, must bring God glory. Everything must speak to God’s presence in our lives. Our preferences, addictions, and options tempt us to bring glory to our wants and desires and motives, though.

The apostle Peter writes this about our decisions:

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in this world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Abstinence is a strong word, which in our culture, has a fairly specific usage. But Peter broadens the word. Stay away from anything that wants to wage war against your soul.

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The next few verses in Galatians 5 are probably more famous. Here they are:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

A life lived by the spirit of God is led by the spirit of God.

If your life is receiving energy and power from this pneuma, this wind, this breath of God, then every part of your life should feel its influence.

Which means that the part of your life you give to watching television, or movies, should be led by the spirit of God.

It should be.

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I have one more post for you, in the coming days.  The biggest question you have, probably, is how in the world do we fill our time now? You can find that right here.

Thanks for reading.