About the Author: I am Joshuah Ellis and I have been working, full time, with the Hub City church of Christ since June 1, 2016. I have never considered myself much of a writer. Perhaps that is why I like the blog format so much. For me, it feels like there is less pressure to be perfect with a blog as opposed to a more formal article In this blog, you will find personal stories, anecdotes, humor and maybe a bit of sarcasm, but the aim of each post will be the same: to encourage, inspire, and challenge the readers to dig deeper and work harder in their service to God. If you would like to offer feedback, leave a comment or contact me here.
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We all have it in our lives. Sin. We would like to pretend that it doesn’t exist. In fact, that is what we do too often. Pretend. We put on our freshly pressed clothes every Sunday and enter the church building with a smile, all the while masking our weaknesses. Why? Because the last people in the world who we want to make aware of the sin in our lives are these people!
What would they say?
What would they do?
What would they think of us if they knew about our sin?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but your secret is out and here are 5 things I know about your sin.
1. It exists. Yep. You heard me. I know that sin exists in your life. Is this because I am suddenly a mind reader? Have I hacked into your life in some way? No! I know it exists in your life because it exists in everyone’s life. (Romans 3:23). That is no secret so there is no point in trying to hide it. In fact, I would suggest that it is even more dangerous to try and hide it than it is to actually deal with it. The reasons why will become clearer as you continue to read.
2. It doesn’t make you a bad person. I want you to see that again. It doesn’t make you a bad person. After all, isn’t that why we, at times, go to such lengths to conceal the sin in our lives? Because we don’t want others to think that we are bad people? We want folks to think we have our lives together, but assuming that because we have sinned, or are currently sinning, we,re bad people is false, False, FALSE! I mean, come on already! Most of our favorite Bible role-models were big ol’ sinners. Noah, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul and so forth. All sinners! We need to get past this idea that because we sin, we are bad. If we don’t, how will we ever be able to overcome?
3. You shouldn’t be scared of it. Rather, you shouldn’t be scared to admit it. This idea that we have to appear sinless can scare us away from admitting sin. This is a huge problem. When we don’t admit sin, we cannot be forgiven (Acts 3:19, Romans 2:5). God did not design us to be afraid (2 Timothy 1:7). That is the devil’s handiwork. We know this because fear (ungodly fear, that is) keeps us from fully submitting to God.
Fear makes us value our image more than our salvation!
4. You need to stop it. I know that you know this already, but it still needs to be stated. You need to stop sinning. Right now! Sin is stupid and destructive. It separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), and it will ultimately kill us; our souls, that is (Romans 6:23). Your secrecy does not make your sin any less deadly. Unacknowledged sin is as dangerous for the soul that unacknowledged cancer is for the body. You may not want to talk about it, but if you don’t talk about it, and then deal with it. You. Will. Die.
5. You CAN stop. It is possible. It might not be easy, and the process could be grueling, but it can be done. God has made it possible for us to find a way out of sin. His name is Jesus (John 14:6). He was sent to this earth for that purpose (John 3:16-17) and God has set us up for success (1 Corinthians 10:13), but the only way to stop sinning is to stop hiding your sin. You have to deal with it. Whether you talk to a friend, a spouse or God about it. You have to shine a light in these, the darkest parts of your life.
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any comments or questions, you can contact me here.
Bless her heart. Bless. Her. Heart.
It's a southern thang and the more slowly you say it, the more concern it conveys. It's like a free pass to make it appear you have not just said something unkind about another person. "Did you hear about ... Well bless her heart."
So have I? Blessed her heart? Have I done anything today to bless her heart?
Have I sent her a card to let her know I’m thinking of her?
Have I asked if she needs help cleaning her home?
Have I volunteered to take her to the doctor?
Have I asked about her sick mother?
Have I told her I miss her at church?
Have I said a prayer for her today?
Have I done anything? ANYTHING?
I offer time excuses all the time. I start Monday with a list and find myself at Friday afternoon having accomplished nothing on that list, having blessed no one’s heart, my own included. I’m approaching the evening of my life and look back with grief for the heart blessings I did not make time for. Who did I lose as a friend because of it? Who did I lose as a sister because of it?
I know of at least one. She meant the world to me. She was my earthly sister from another mother. When I set about trying to find her a couple of years ago, hoping against hope I could repair the mess I had made years ago, what I found broke my heart. She had passed away 2 years earlier.
James writes, in chapter 4 of his letter, “14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, it him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
Make the time. Make a conscience decision each day to bless someone’s heart. You will find your heart blessed too.
Confession: I love technology. I love anything I can gat my hands on that can increase productivity and make life a little bit easier. I especially appreciate it when technology can help me learn more about the Bible or enhance my worship. So here goes…the following are some of my favorite apps that me and/or members of my family use at home, in the car, and at the church building.
1. Bible.is (FREE): This is a great app that my wife absolutely loves! It is pretty standard, for the most part, as far as Bible apps are concerned. However, it does have one unique feature that sets it apart in my opinion. The Audio feature allows you to have the Bible read to you, but it does so with some really neat elements like background music and different voice actors for different people in the text. This is great for doing you Bible reading on your commute. Just plug your phone into your vehicle’s auxiliary jack, select the chapter you want to hear, and listen God’s Word presented in an enjoyable listening experience. To check this app out, click here.
2. Pitch Perfect (FREE): Song leaders of the world unite! This is definitely a must have. Whether you are at the church building leading singing or at someone’s house, this little gem comes in real handy. We may not always remember to keep a pitch pipe on us, but we always have our phones. Sure there are other options, but the traditional pitch pipes can’t be shared unless you want to risk catching bird flu and the digital ones aren’t as reliable. With your pitch pipe on your phone, you can be sure to always be prepared for whenever the situation calls for a song. Just select the desired note or key for your song and the app will play the tone for you. To check this app out, click here.
3. GoodNotes 4 ($7.99): Ok, I know this one is not free, but it is AMAZING! If you are someone who likes to take notes, then you will love this. GoodNotes is a very powerful note-taking app. It allows you to create several different notebooks and the writing experience is almost identical to that of writing on paper with pen only you don’t have to worry about lugging that stuff around with you. The best part is you never run out of paper. One of my favorite features the palm rejection technology so you can rest your hand on the screen without the device thinking your hand is a stylus. This works best with the use of a Bluetooth stylus. They’re a tad pricey but so worth is. I use the Adonit Jot Script 2. To check this app out, click here.
4. Bible App for Kids (FREE): This one is great! My wife came across this one and now uses it to do Bible studies with the kids. YouVersion makes it and we love it. The app allows you to download Bible stories to your device and then provides the story along with nice graphics and animation. You can have the app read to you, storybook style, with fun background sound effects, or you can mute the sound and read yourself. We have an 8 year old so we put the app on mute and let him practice reading to his younger brothers. The graphics for the stories even respond when touched. The kids love it! At the end of the story, there is usually a question or two that rewards you with stars for correct answers. If you have kids, you must try this out. To check this app out, click here.
BONUS: The Bible Project on YouTube: I know this is not an app, but it is so cool! I found this a while back when there were just a few videos and then was recently re-introduced to it, and am I happy about it! There is a series of videos that will provide an overview of a book of the Bible using graphic note taking. This allows you to hear and see the structure, theme, and background of the books. It is a great tool to enjoy on your own, but also a great teaching tool. I haven’t shown these to my kids yet, but a friend of ours said that she watches them with her 7-year-old son and then they talk about it after. Below is the video for 1st Corinthians:
Check these videos out here.
I hope these tools are helpful and if there is an app or a website that you love, please let me know by clicking here.
The following is a guest post written by one of the women who worships here at Hub City. Her words are beautiful and poignant. I hope you enjoy this submission by Nannette Oswalt.
I was raised by an independent woman. She was silent when I thought she should speak. She defended my father when I felt he was undeserving. Her desires seemed to always take a back seat.
So it’s little wonder that I grew into a stubborn, impatient, independent woman. How much is nature vs nurture? It’s hard to say. Between the example I had at home and growing up in the 60s and 70s, I would say it was beyond a reasonable doubt I would be who I am.
Then I got married. And I knew what I had been taught all my growing up years about the man being the head of the household. I chaffed against the very idea of handing control over to anyone else, even my husband. After all, who could possibly know or do better than me? Right?
Guilt rarely motivates me to do what I know is right. I’m good at digging in my heels. So I was in a constant battle to get my way and then feeling guilty when I did. I’m not talking about minor things like what to have for dinner or when to do his laundry. I talking about decisions that determined where we lived, where we worked, and who our friends were.
And then I had a light bulb moment. A moment you can get only through mediation and soul searching. And my realization was…it’s not about me being in control. Control was nothing more than me being selfish, self-centered and inconsiderate to a person I claimed to love. All attributes that are very unattractive and destructive.
So what to do? Let go. Relieve myself of the weight. I married this man because I love him and I want him to be happy. I trust that he has my best interests at heart and won’t intentionally do anything to hurt me. I found that when I considered first what he wanted or needed in the small things, like when to do his laundry, I became more willing to support and help work through his decisions on the big things.
Paul, in Ephesians 5, writes, “22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
It’s interesting to me that 3 verses are directed wives. The following 8 verses are directed to husbands. And the final verse brings them together.
Only after understanding my motivations and more fully understanding my role as a Christian wife did I find the peace of mind I needed.
I also understood my mother.
It’s Sunday morning. The alarm clock sounds and the first thought that goes through your head is, “I don’t want to get up and go to worship!” But wait! It’s Sunday…the Lord’s Day. You should be so overcome with zeal that you fly out of bed with all the enthusiasm of an over-caffeinated Disney character. So what’s the problem? Why don’t you feel as committed to serving God as you wish you did? Maybe you’re one of those lukewarm Christians that Jesus talked about, and that cannot be good because we all know how God feels about those folks (Revelation 3:16). So, here are some things you can start doing right now if you feel that you don’t have that fire inside of you motivating you to give God the best of yourself.
1. Stop feeling guilty. Being lukewarm doesn’t mean that you are a bad person, or even a bad Christian. It just means that you have a kink in your spiritual life that needs to be worked out. God has made provision for all of us to live a life that is pleasing to Him (2 Peter 3:9). He has set us up to succeed which means that change is always possible. Take a moment right now to thank God for giving you what you need to win!
2. Do a good deed. You will notice, Jesus said, “I know your deeds” (Revelation 3:15). The Laodecians’ lukewarmness (Is that a word?) was not associated with their motivation. It was associated with their behavior. Behavior is easy to control. Don’t believe me? Stick out your tongue right now. See? You have perfect control of your behavior. So behave in a way that will make God happy. Do one thing today, that maybe you don’t ordinarily do, that represents the godliness to which you aspire!
3. Pray. I know, I know. Everybody always says, “Pray and your problems will go away.” Well, don’t roll your eyes just yet. James does tell us that prayer works (James 5:16), but that isn’t the only benefit of prayer. When you pray, what are you thinking about? Usually, we think about God and our minds are consumed with our expressions toward Him. What we don’t usually think about during prayer are the things, which are contributing to our lukewarmness (there’s that word again). Spend 5 minutes today talking to God about your current situation and see what happens!
4. Get a little stubborn. What?!?! Yeah, you heard me. If you’re lukewarm, the devil is loving it! He hates you, and he wants you to fail (1 Peter 5:8)! Don’t give him that satisfaction. Don’t make his job easy one little bit! Dig in your heels, and resolve that for today, you are going to make the devil’s life miserable. Then, tomorrow, do the same thing. Be a warrior. It’s in you. I know it is, because God put it in you (2 Timothy 2:3).
I hope these suggestions help you today, and that you once again find that fire for serving God!