Am I Helping Someone Sin??

Mark Twain once quipped, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” One passage I clearly understand – that “bothers” me greatly – is this one from Luke’s gospel. Jesus said:

“Temptations to sin (literally: “snares”) are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones [God’s children: us] to sin.” (Luke 17:1-2)

Dear God, please allow your servant to be keenly aware of my daily habits. And show me if there be anything I regularly do or say that might cause a brother or sister to stumble. Amen nw

The Dark Night of the Soul

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I thought this blog was excellent….

Whether you’ve been diagnosed as Clinically Depressed, or you simply wrestle from time to time with “normal” depression, you will find this article from Christianity Today to offer an encouraging perspective.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2015/february-online-only/3-truths-of-dark-night-of-soul.html?share=u9xFwK%2b5YSsaiQH%2bQlhPrc8Q3Vzxkokc

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

God’s Love > Our Worst Sin

rembrandt-return-of-the-prodigal-son11“The Return of the Prodigal Son” * Rembrandt * c. 1669

My favorite book in the Bible is the Psalms. But, my favorite chapter is Luke 15. In that chapter we have what we know as the parable of the “Prodigal Son.” (Jesus simply introduces it by saying, “There was a man who had two sons.”) It is my favorite of all biblical parables. I guess because every time I read it, I’m feel as though I’m reading about myself. I can rarely read through it without getting emotional.

So many lessons here. Let’s look at just one:

“But while [the wayward son] was still a long way off [and returning home to ask his father’s forgiveness], his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (vs. 20)

Commenting on this verse, John MacArthur writes, “Clearly, the Father had been waiting and looking for his son’s return. The Father’s eagerness and joy at his son’s return is unmistakable. This is the magnificent attribute of God that sets Him apart from all the false gods invented by man and demons. He is not indifferent or hostile, but a Savior by nature.”

A.W. Tozer said,

“God desires to reveal to us that His capacity to forgive is bigger than our capacity to sin.”

Paul, who described himself as a “wretch”, wrote, “…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

Years ago, Philips, Craig & Dean sang a song titled, He’ll Do Whatever It Takes.  The chorus is below.  The link to the entire song is below the printed chorus.

He’ll do whatever, whatever it takes
His grace reaches lower than your worst mistakes
And His love will run farther
Than you can run away, my friend
He’ll do whatever, whatever it takes
He’ll do whatever it takes

He. Loves. You. So much.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

What I’ve Learned From a Dislocated Kneecap

Recently, I’ve had two epiphanies: they are elementary level axioms of the Gospel of Christ (stuff I should know well, but need to be reminded of often.)

Wed morning, Feb. 18th, my daughter, Macy, had knee surgery. The next day, we had her follow-up appt with her surgeon. Getting her from our house to the dr’s office was nothing short of torture: emotionally & physically for Macy; emotionally for me.

As she wailed, and cried out, “Daddy….!”, I began to cry because there was not a single thing i could do about her pain. (Nothing is more painful for a parent than to see their children hurting…)

The dr told us all was good, and helped us develop an effective strategy for managing the pain. By the time we finally got home, allowing me to lay Macy back down, we were both exhausted. it felt as though we had just climbed Mt. Rainer.

As I watched my girl sleep and rest, two very profound gospel truths came to mind:

1) I would’ve done anything to take Macy’s pain upon myself. Alas, I could not. (You see where this is going don’t you. 🙂 ) God “heard the cry of mankind (which began one nano-second after Adam & Eve blew it in Eden), and did for us what I could not do for Macy. “For God so loved the world (us), that He gave His one and only begotten Son…..” The mighty, awesome, terrifying God “put skin on”; He lived a perfect life.  And, even though tempted by Satan to “bypass the pain of the cross,” Christ “booked a ticket” straight from the Bethlehem to Calvary. I couldn’t do anything for Macy in way of taking her pain upon myself. Christ could take our pain upon Himself. And did! Soli Deo Gloria!

2) The succeeding days gave me & my daughter a number of “moments” to understand that “pain is part of healing.” The dr told us, even in the midst of overwhelming pain, Macy was well on her way to being well. Obviously, at least in the Watts home, this led to conversations about the death of Jordan, and how our pain from losing our son/brother is a necessary part of healing. We *must go through” the pain; there’s no way around it.  I think of Paul writing this sage advice to young Timothy: “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3) Jesus demonstrated this truth by refusing to give in to the tempter (Matt 4 & Luke 4), knowing that the only path to the resurrection was through the crucifixion.

O God, my God – thank you….thank you….

If you’ve never met Him, please consider investigating the claims of Christ. smile emoticon

I love you all, Nick Watts

Fear = Bondage; Christ = Freedom

One month after my son took his life, my sister, Susan Halgren, gave me a copy of that particular day’s entry from the devotional book, Jesus Calling. I’ve carried that Jesus Calling entry in my Bible ever since. We’re approaching two years since my son, Jordan, stepped into Paradise. The words my sister gave me are below, with brackets containing some personal commentary.

“Trust Me and don’t be afraid; I am your Strength and your Song [one month removed from Jordan’s death, I never thought i would sing again – but I did 🙂  Do not let fear [planted there by the enemy] dissipate your energy. Instead, Invest your energy in trusting *Me* and singing *My* Song…

The battle for control of your mind is fierce [that’s an understatement; there were several times in those first 8 months I looked at Michelle Pittam Watts and said, “I’m not gonna make it.”]… Therefore, you need to be vigilant in guarding your thoughts. Do not despise this weakness in yourself, since I am *using it to draw you closer to Me* [once again, Christ has taken what the enemy intended for evil, and is using it for good.]….

You are not alone in this struggle for your mind. My Spirit living in you is ever ready to help…”

Romans 8:6“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” (nlt)

Isaiah 26:3“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (nlt)

Psalm 46:1, 10“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble…. Be still, and know that I am God.”

I love you all, Nick

Searching for a New Pastor: A Brief Theology

I am now in my third successive church searching for a new pastor. On this topic, I’ve seen (up close) the very good, the bad, and the very ugly.

This got me thinking….  If I had never been a part of a church that was forced to search for new staff – and my only source for knowing what to do was the Bible (what a novel idea) – what would I find in the Bible that would help me understand (1) what a Search Team should know, and (2) what a Pastor should be?

I would totally love to hear your thoughts. Agree with what I’ve written? Disagree?

I’ve attached the document in, both, a Word file and PDF file.

Word:   Searching For a New Pastor – A Brief Theology

PDF:  Searching For a New Pastor – A Brief Theology

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Finishing Strong

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Walt Whitman

The Bible tells us that our days on planet earth are “numbered/set.” The Scottish Olympic Sprinting champion, Eric Liddell, said, “We’re all given a race to run. We know not if the race is a marathon or a sprint. Only one thing matters: how we run the race.”

May you and I live each day robustly – as though it were our last opportunity to “love God and love our neighbor” (the two greatest commandments.)