Seven Deadly Sins: Envy

envyOn Sunday we looked at the deadly sin of envy. Envy is similar to jealously but they are very different. Jealousy desires what someone else has, envy wants to destroy what someone else has. Jealousy wants other people’s things, envy wants to be the only one with things. A perfect picture is the story of Snow White. In it the queen asks the mirror “Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all”. And when Snow White is named, the queen must wreck, ruin, and destroy snow white. Just so we’re clear the Queen is still beautiful, but that is not enough for envy. The Queen must be the most beautiful, and destroy anything that threatens that. That’s envy. Envy, when it cannot have what it wants, destroys. That is why it is so dangerous.

The second reason it is so dangerous is that it thrives in community. In fact, you need community for envy to even be a possibility. Will WIllimon said, “Envy works best at close range.” This is true. We are often jealous of people distant from us, and envious of those closest to us. We may be jealous of Katy Perry and her fame, but we generally don’t want to destroy her or see her fail. In contrast to that, we sometimes do want our sister, brother-in-law, or neighbor to fail. This is why it’s so dangerous, because it wrecks community.

So much of the strife in our relationships is because we are envious. We are envioius of our brother who gets preferential treatment, so we want to see them slip up. We are envious of a co-worker who never gets reprimanded, so we hope for them to screw up. But what is at the root of envy? Well many church fathers said this: a lack of trust in God.

We get envious when we believe that God is withholding good from us. That we are being shortchanged by God. In essence, envy thrives when we disbelieve God’s goodness. And since this is so closely tied to envy we ended with a challenge. The challenge was this: for one week keep a journal of God’s goodness to you. If feeling envious is tied to a lack of trust in God’s goodness, then we need to create habits to remind us of the generosity, goodness, and grace of God.

So it’s a simple thing to do but it could be a life changing thing. Because whenever we get centred in the fact that God is good, we can live differently. We no longer need to be tied to envy and hurt, instead we can be set free. And that’s something worth finding.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Envy is a problem

Take Aways…

  • Envy is a subtle sin Jealousy wants things, envy wants to the be the only one who has things.
  • “Envy works best at close range” Will Wiilimon
  • Envy is about close relationships and it’s about enjoying when they fail.
  • While greed is primarily about possessions, envy is about one’s place in the world. Where greed wants the good things that others have, envy wants to be the only one who has good things. Envy delights in spoiling what others have. Michael Mangis
  • Envy leads to destruction every time.
  • At the root of envy is a lack of trust in God.
  • Envy is dissatisfaction with who God has made me to be. It is also suspicious that God is withholding what I deserve and giving it to someone else. Michael Mangis
  • Envy is a problem
  • Love overcomes envy.
  • Get rid of envy by getting closer to God.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Had you understood what envy was before today? How has envy wrecked relationships in your life? Is there anyone you tend to feel envious of? How can you grow closer to God this week? What good things has God done for you?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about envy. Talk to them about how sometimes we want what other people have. But be proactive against envy, have them write out reasons why they are thankful to God. Have them make a picture, or share reasons for being thankful to God. The more they are rooted in that, the harder it will be for envy to take root.

Challenge for this Week: Get rid of envy by getting closer to God

Green Eyed Monster ~ Envy

envy_quotes_kelly_swansonOn Sunday we are looking at a really deadly sin. And by deadly I mean that literally. It kills relationships, poisons friendships, and breaks connections. It’s the sin of envy.

The thing with envy is that most of us don’t really know what it is. We think it’s somehow related to jealousy, but if we were to try to explain the difference between jealousy and envy most of us wouldn’t know where to start.

Soren Kiekegaard once called envy a small-town sin. He doesn’t mean it can’t happen in large cities; what he means is that it is something that thrives in community. In fact, you have to have community to even have this sin be a temptation. But it is something that is part of our churches, our families, our offices, and our neighborhoods.

Here is the thing: most of the strife in our relationships stem from envy. It’s true and that’s what we want to look at on Sunday: what envy is, and how we can live free from it.

Hope you can join us. And if you want to be extra prepared watch the movie Toy Story before Sunday, because we’re going to be using it lots. 🙂

Sloth the Sin that Needs No Effort

On Sunday I want to answer this question:

Found at http://azlath.deviantart.com/art/Sloth-a-Sin-273220926
Found at http://azlath.deviantart.com/art/Sloth-a-Sin-273220926

And I think it’s a great question. Because in many ways we’d love to be more “slothful”

  • Who wouldn’t like a day to sleep in?
  • Who wouldn’t like a lazy day inside drinking coffee?
  • Who wouldn’t like a movie marathon every now and then?

The question I think is this – is the sin of sloth anti-rest?

And I don’t think it is. God is not anti-rest. God clearly commands rest, relaxation, and Sabbath. So the question is then, what is the sin of sloth really about? And here is my short answer that we’ll unpack on Sunday. The sin of sloth is a refusal to respond to God. It’s not about conserving or recharging our energy, but refusing to use our energy to join in what God is doing.

So come Sunday we are going to explore this topic, and why it matters. We are going to see how you can be lazy, or busy – and still be stuck in the sin of sloth. We are going to see how the sin of sloth robs you of life, and robs the world of your gifts. So that’s where we are going on Sunday, of course assuming I don’t slothily sleep in.

Gluttony ~ Seven Deadly Sins

856673_20062383So on Sunday we looked at the sensitive topic of gluttony. We started in an odd place, a discussion of math, statistics, and the inverted U curve.

Here is how Malcolm Gladwell discusses what an inverted U curve is:

Inverted-U curves have three parts, and each part follows a different logic. There’s the left side, where doing more or having more makes things better. There’s the flat middle, where doing more doesn’t make much of a difference. And there’s the right side, where doing more or having more makes things worse.

We used this framework to begin to talk about gluttony. Gluttony is really about too much of a good thing that becomes a bad thing. So, for example ,some food is good, a middle amount doesn’t really help or hurt, too much gets unhealthy. But the inverted U works for than just food. It also works for working, stress, and a whole host of things. Working is good for health, but too much work (i.e. being a workaholic) becomes incredibly unhealthy for physically and relationally. A little stress is helpful to stay motivated and in the “flow” – too much becomes an ulcer.

The point of the inverted U is things that are good in small to moderate amounts can have really negative consequences in large amounts. And this is actually the same thing we learn from Solomon, the wisest man on earth. He says this, “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. (Proverbs 25:16)

A little honey is good, it’s sweet, it’s delicious, and it’s good for you. Too much honey will make you vomit. The logic of Solomon is really clear: gluttony is really about too much of a good thing. It’s about a lack of moderation and balance. Most things in life are only good in moderation, overabundance or overconsumption leads to difficulty. This is true in all sorts of things. Work is good, being a workaholic isn’t. Being flexible and saying yes to things is good, being a doormat isn’t. Watching TV is relaxing, watching 16 hours in a row is a rut. Having some “me time” by yourself is great, doing it so much you disconnect from your family is a bad thing. Buying new shoes can be fun, buying 100 pairs and drowning in debt isn’t.

The point is that gluttony isn’t just about how much we eat, but how we live. And there are things in our lives that are a good thing, but that without discipline, quickly become a bad thing.

So on Sunday to make this personal we asked ourselves one question: Is there a good thing that has become a bad thing in our lives? Is there something good that has become too much and become bad?

  • Are we working too much?
  • Are we texting and spending too much time on phones?
  • Are we spending too much?
  • Are we too busy – connecting with people?
  • Are we saying yes to too many things?

And as we asked that question we simply collectively said a one word prayer: help. Help God for me to find balance. Help God for me to find strength. Help God for me to find moderation in this good thing that’s gone a little bad.

So that’s what we learned on Sunday but hopefully it isn’t something that we just learn about – but practice. Because the truth is we feel better when we are in the middle – enjoying a little honey but not so much that we throw it up.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Gluttony is about a lack balance and moderation

Take Aways…

  • Ground Rules #1: Posture of Grace not Guilt
  • God convicts of sin, but he doesn’t shame us for our sin.
  • Ground Rules #2: Personal Introspection
  • Sin leads to unhealthy lives
  • Ground Rules #3: Safe and Transformational
  • Rather than rooting out our sins, we try to keep them under control. Micahel Mangis
  • Gluttony believes that if a little is good, a lot will always be better. Michael Mangis
  • Gluttony is too much of a good thing that leads to a bad thing.
  • Is there a good thing that has become a bad thing?
  • God Help me in this…

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?Have you ever thought of gluttony not just in terms of food? What are maybe some “good things” that have become unhealthy things? How can you start to get some more balance in your life? How can God help you find moderation? Last but not least – can you give it up for Lent? If so who can help to encourage and cheer you on?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about the sin of gluttony. Why not actually act out the verse? Have the kids taste some honey and how good it is. Ask them what might happen if they were to eat the entire jar of it right now. Share with them how Solomon says they’d throw it all up – and how there is a lot of good things – that too much becomes a bad thing.

Challenge for this Week: Give up on good thing that has become a bad thing

We’re All Gluttons

1400423_72410429On Sunday we are looking at one of the most “personal” of the 7 Deadly Sins – the sin of gluttony. This is a hard one to actually discuss because it’s so tied to personal identity, and image. So I think we often refrain from talking about it because it is such a difficult thing to talk about well. Also, I think it’s easy for people to feel a tremendous amount of guilt when we talk about this topic. So in general we don’t discuss this issue ~ even though it is an issue for us all.

That’s right I said for us all.

Regardless of whether you are skinny or not, eat a lot or not, gluttony is an issue for every single one of us.

So what I want to do is to approach this topic from a different angle on Sunday. What if rather than looking at gluttony through the lens of “food” – what if we look at it from the Biblical perspective of unrestrained desire? What if we look at it from the perspective of overconsumption? What if gluttony isn’t just about eating too much at Thanksgiving – but having too much of anything that leads to difficulty?

This is why I think we all struggle with this sin – in some shape or form. Some of us work too much, others watch TV too much, spend time on our phones too much, spend too much, or worry too much. On Sunday we are going to explore those things that we do simply “too much”, that don’t help us but hurt us. Because that’s actually what the sin of gluttony is about ~ overconsuming a good thing so it becomes a bad thing.

So that’s where we are going – but Lent is about reflection. So why not spend some time and reflect on your life now? Is there anything that is good but has become “too much” in your life? Is there a good thing that you need to cut back on? Work, spending time with friends, shopping, reading – or even as we’ll see on Sunday, praying?

So spend some time reflecting and maybe even changing.

Lent and the Seven Deadly Sins

 

 

 

 

On Sunday we are opening up a brand new series, looking at the Seven Deadly Sins for Lent. Yep that’s right a perfect series to invite your friends to…

 

 

Well actually I do think it will be really important and really helpful and here is why. So often when sin is discussed, especially in church, it’s accompanied with judgment, shame, and guilt. So because of this we don’t talk about it. And instead then we end up coping with sin, struggling with sin, and hiding sin. What if instead of talking about sin in this way – we approached it through grace, life, and freedom? What if rather than hiding and struggling with our sin – we could actually be free from it?

 

That’s the perspective of this series to discover how through Jesus’ transformation we might be freed from some stuff in our lives we’ve been carrying along far too long.

 

What if we approach sin not from a guilt or shame perspective – but from a healing and freedom perspective?

 

I think to be honest this is the only way to deal with this important, but misunderstood topic. In the gospels we see tax collectors, prostitutes, and broken people flocking to Jesus. These are “notorious sinners” as the Pharisees point out. But this was because Jesus didn’t condone sin or condemn those struggling with sin – he freed them from it.

 

What if over the next seven weeks we could have the same experience from Jesus? Where we go to him with our baggage and sin – our pride, envy, greed, and anger and find freedom?

 

That’s the whole point and goal of this series. To, for Lent, do some personal introspection and experience Jesus’ transformation as we come to him.

 

So even though it may sound funny – I’m excited about this series because I’m always excited when people find freedom and transformation from baggage they’ve been holding for years. And that’s what this series is all about, so maybe it is something worth being excited about…

Seven Deadly Sins

Asher in The Dishwasher and its Spiritual Ties

IMG_3171My little boy is scary fast. I mean this in all honesty; you’d think with such short legs it would take him forever to get anywhere…but no. In a few seconds of your back turned he can be up the stairs and into the bathroom. In essence, he ends up in all sorts of situations so quickly. Twice in the past week my oldest son, Hudson, who is three, has yelled, “Daddy come see something crazy, look where Asher is”.

And I’ve discovered him in these two places: the dishwasher, and our Tupperware drawer. I, of course, took pictures.

But it’s amazing with a little lapsed focus, where IMG_3151this little man can get to. In almost no time he’s into something that might not be healthy or good. You really have to keep an eye on him. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s just a real life thing.

And I know this might be a bit of a stretch but I think it’s same with our spiritual lives. I think that if we don’t spend regular time in reflection and paying attention to our spiritual lives, they can end up in places we wouldn’t have dreamed so quickly. Things can be going well, but we aren’t paying attention, we aren’t reflecting and focusing, and all of a sudden we end up in a dishwasher, stuck in a drawer, or worse, stuck in a moral failure, a moment of weakness, a mistake that takes years to rebuild.

The point is that we don’t often go from making good decisions to really really bad ones. We often, instead, go from making good decisions to forgetting to think about decisions, to bring God into our choices, to reflect on how God has or hasn’t been active in our lives.

The main point is this: when we forget to pay attention to what’s important, it’s only a matter of time before trouble comes. This is the same thing with my son, but it’s also the same thing with my relationship with God, my wife, and my character. When I stop paying attention to Jesus, my wife, or my character, it’s only a matter of time before something slides and trouble comes.

So my challenge to you today is this: pay attention to what matters. Spend time reflecting on your relationship with God this week. Ask yourself where he has been active, when you’ve felt distant from him, and what you can learn from this. Pay attention to your important relationships; friends, family, or spouse. In essence, just be alert to all that’s going on around you.

And that’s it for me today, because I gotta go.  Asher is trying to climb into the washing machine 🙂

Saving the Word Sin

sinI recently listened to a sermon that made an interesting comment. While this wasn’t the whole focus of the sermon the point was this: we’ve moved from a culture of confession of sins, to managing mistakes.

And I think this is true. We often no longer think of ourselves as “sinning” but instead we make a mistake. We made a poor choice, which we are sure to improve upon next time. We made an error in judgment but we will improve. We have a problem that needs a little alignment. We have virtually removed the language of sin from our vocabulary.

Now this is probably in response to a very poor understanding of what sin really is. Sin is not a moral term, it is not a term that means you don’t have value or worth. Sin is a theological term that reminds us that our relationship with God has been broken and needs fixing.

And here is why I think we need to keep the language of sin in our vocabulary (as misunderstood and abused as it has been). The reason is this: I never take my mistakes to God. I acknowledge them, recognize them, and even give reasons for them. But I don’t take them to God.

With the language of sin we are reminded of the need of confession, and confession is a practice we need to keep. Confession invites God into our lives for transformation. Confession is where we acknowledge our weakness and limits and ask God to do something miraculous. Confession is where we often start to see God work. The problem with the language of “mistakes” is that we never take them to God. And therefore, we don’t invite God into our lives to do a powerful, transformative, and redemptive work.

So while I surely make mistakes, I also sin. And lately I’ve been realizing the importance of naming what is really happening in my life. Because when I honestly name what is happening, and call something in my life sin, I am also simultaneously inviting God in. And I just think that’s important.

The Seriousness of Sin and Confession

On Sunday we talked about the seriousness of sin. Not a fun topic, but a revealing one. What I realized is that Jesus takes sin far more seriously than I do. I’m much more likely to ignore it, to cover it up, to forget it, or to compromise with it. Jesus calls it sin and deals with it.

At first I struggled with why. Why is there just not “grace” to all problems? Why do we have to name the sin, confess the sin, and repent from the sin? Why does it have to be so…personal.

Well, the answer should be clear. Because sin is personal, and it’s personal to Jesus. Sin brought him to death on the cross because that is where all sin leads to death. That is why Jesus is so insistent on dealing with it, because he doesn’t want us to go through the death he went through. He doesn’t want us to feel the force of death, sin, and darkness. So he comes to us and challenges us to name our sin, repent, and live in life. The goal of Jesus isn’t to be harsh, the goal is to bring healing.

sin

So on Sunday we ended with challenging ourselves to ask Jesus if there are any areas of sin, compromise, or darkness that we need to confess. I then challenged all of us to confess any areas of sin to a friend. Why make that step? Why not just confess it to God and be done? Well because sometimes our uneasiness of desiring to go to a friend in community reveals something about us. Dietrich Bonheoffer writes this, “Should we not find it easier to go to a brother than to the holy God? But if we do, we must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God, whether we have not rather been confessing our sins to ourselves and also granting ourselves absolution. And is not the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the fact that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness”. If we want to avoid death we cannot live on self-forgiveness. If we want to live in life we need to do this together with community, and we can’t shy away from naming our sin.

Is it easy? No, naming our failures, regrets, guilt, and shame is rarely easy. The question though isn’t whether it is easy. The question is whether or not it is  freeing…and the answer to that is absolutely…

 

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Sin is serious business

Take Aways…

  • “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit”
  • I take sin far less seriously than Jesus.
  • Jesus takes sin seriously because Jesus died because of it.
  • Jesus doesn’t call it compromise, he calls it sin
  • The path to growing with him, involves dying to sin.
  • Whenever you are walking away from Jesus and his truth you are walking into the darkness.
  • Doing leads to becoming.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What did you feel when you first read the passage? Were you surprised, shocked, or okay with it? When have you been tempted to compromise? What happened? Are there areas in your life now that you need to confess and change? How might you do that? Who are going to confess them too?

Discussion Questions for Young: Families Take a moment and ask them to tell you what they think sin is. Get any of their answers. Then tell them that a good way to think about sin is any action, thought, or desire that doesn’t look like Jesus. Share with them how when we don’t act like Jesus we miss the point, but that if we confess our sins Jesus will forgive us. Ask if there is anything to confess and make sure you confess your sins too. Share together and then walk forward together.

Challenge for this Week:

Confess and Repent of Any Sin to a Trusted Friend

 

Lenten Reflections: Stations of the Cross, Station 7

Jesus falls for the 2nd time…

Written Reflection:

With each step Jesus takes the weight continues to grow. It grows to much, and Jesus falls to the ground. His knees scrap the earth, and his face hits the dust. Maybe he remembers the verse, “from dust you can and to dust you will return” He catches a raspy dust filled breath before he is forced to continue.

Store up this image in your heart and mind. Though he felt alone in the dust we never have to because of his sacrifice. Jesus is on the ground, so that we might be raised up. This is for me and this is for you. Jesus breathes in dust, so that he might breathe out life.

Today take a deep breathe and breathe in life. As you do reflect on this: you have been given a gift from Jesus how might you show him gratitude today.