Make the Move (Soulology Day 8)

I used to play chess. In fact, I was class champion in the 8th grade, Impressed? Didn’t think so. Truth is I never got a trophy for it and never wound up in therapy over it (see yesterday’s post). Good chess players explore every possible move and the subsequent possibilities that can arise from each move. They are usually four, five, or even six moves ahead in their thinking, but eventually they have to make a move to keep the game going.

When sin is executing its battle plan against our soul, at some point we have to make a tactical move. We can’t stay in defensive posture forever. Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening in the battle and then a very clear next move for us.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8 KJV)

Unstable isn’t a word we would probably use to describe our lives. It’s a word of weakness and uncertainty, In fact, the word translated “Unstable” in the original language is ἀκατάστατος which carries the weight of being “unsettled” and almost anarchic (see Strong’s concordance). James is clear: if you are double-minded your behaviors and actions will not reflect a life controlled and directed by the Holy Spirit. It has a paralyzing effect that keeps you drifting through life.

James has more to say about this idea of being double-minded.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
(James 4:8 NKJV)

Double Minded is δίψυχοι (dip su koi) in the original and means “double-souled or split-souled”

Yesterday we looked at the idea of sin waging war against our souls. Our Soul MRI revealed that sin fractures, splits and shatters your soul. Sin makes you double minded or double souled.

How many of you have ever made a statements like these:

My life is falling apart.
I just can’t seem to get myself together.
I just can’t get my act together.
I seem to be coming to pieces.
I am coming apart at the seams.

If you’ve ever said things like that, here’s why you feel that way: it’s the cry of your soul longing for wholeness. You’re only going to find that wholeness your soul so desperately craves in God. The war that sin is waging against our soul mandates a clear battle plan for us and an important tactical move.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭5‬ NIV)

The appetites of your flesh, thoughts and directives of your mind and propensity of your will are going to pull you in one direction while the soul that seeks to integrate all of this into a single, whole life before God will pull you in the opposite direction. Once you bring every thought captive and say no to the flesh and your stubborn will, you are moving toward wholeness. The truth is, the move toward wholeness is yours and yours alone.

How much do you you want it? How badly do you want a life that is whole and stable as opposed to unstable and anarchic? The choice is yours and the move is yours.

Make the move.

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“The Worst” – (Soulology Day 7)

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
(1 Timothy 1:15 NIV)

We don’t like to admit that we’re bad at something. Seems un-American for us to do so. Each year, the hit show American Idol takes the first several weeks of its season and showcases the highlights from each of the audition cities that were visited.

It’s always amazed me that some of the young men and women who audition for the show actually think they’re good singers and then fly off the handle or fall to pieces when the judges say “no” to them. More than once, I’ve told my wife that someone, a parent or friend, should have pulled those kids aside and told them the truth – “You’re not good. You need to put your energies elsewhere – anywhere but singing.” Then again, the first six weeks of the show wouldn’t be near as entertaining without the wanna-bees.

Paul told his young protege Timothy that he was the worst of all sinners. What could he possibly base this statement on? The late John Stott, who wrote Basic Christianity, said “Paul did not do a careful study of every sinner in human history and conclude he finished in last place.” Rather, Paul was so vividly aware of his own sinfulness that he couldn’t imagine that anyone could be worse.

We should be impressed by this. The man who gave us half the New Testament and contributed more than anyone to the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire had enough boldness to confront his own sinfulness and enough fortitude to admit that he was the worst. But before we wipe our brow and thank Paul for letting us off the hook, consider this:

When we are truly awakened and disturbed by the Holy Spirit as to our own sinfulness, we would probably say the same thing, so for just a moment today, would you be willing to just consider that you are the worst of all sinners?

Don’t think of your husband’s sin, or your wife’s sin, or your boss’s sin, or the sin of the TV preacher you sent your money to and wish you hadn’t. As we do an MRI of our souls, ask The Lord for a gentle, humble, contrite spirit before him in considering the depths of fallenness. Can we do this?

It is only when we acknowledge our sin that we can take the next bold leap in caring for our souls.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11 NIV)

Soul work is spiritual war. We really throw the term spiritual warfare out loosely in our day. In some ways we think of it all externally, but Peter says dealing with our sinful desires is an internal thing. These fleshly, sinful desires are literally exercising a military campaign against your soul. It’s a strategic tactic of the enemy designed to take you down and destroy that part of you that so desperately longs for connection with God.

Sin breaks that connection with God and his love, and slowly begins to disintegrate our life. That’s why we have to get it right with our soul and it starts by abstaining – staying away from – sinful desires. Sounds simple enough. Abstain. But we all know it’s easier said than done. It’s a battle. It’s war. Fight it.

Until tomorrow…….

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Soul MRI (Soulology Day 6)

A few years ago at the annual church picnic I was playing basketball with some of the guys, made a simple pivot move and heard a “pop” in my left knee. I knew immediately there was a problem. Two days later I found myself visiting an orthopedic doctor who believed I had torn the lateral meniscus in my left knee, but only an MRI could confirm it.

Two days after that, I went for the MRI which is really a fascinating experience if you aren’t claustrophobic. The MRI took incredible, crystal clear digital pictures of my knee and pinpointed exactly what the problem was. There was no hiding it. I had a torn meniscus and wound up having surgery. The Psalmist David, in one of the darkest hours of his life wrote these words:

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. (Psalms 51:6 NKJV)

We briefly touched on this last week but the context of Psalm 51 is powerful to consider. In a very short time period, David became an adulterer, a murderer and a cover up artist. The prophet Nathan came to him and gave him a prophetic MRI: “this is what’s really going on inside you. It’s crystal clear. You’ve sinned. You can’t hide it and you need surgery.”

Psalm 51 is the outpouring of a sin-damaged soul crying desperately for wholeness and desiring to get back on track with God. The MRI given by Nathan the prophet exposed what needed to be exposed, not for the purpose of destruction, but for the purpose of bringing healing to David’s life.

What would it look like if an MRI was taken of your soul? What would be exposed as the root problem of your life? As we saw last week, the soul is that part of you that is designed to integrate your will, mind and body into a single life of wholeness that is vitally connected to and drawing its life from the Creator of the Universe.

Safe to say, nothing will fragment your soul faster than sin. We can’t do a study on the soul, nor can we attend to our soul unless we understand the devastating effects of sin on that which is designed to bring our lives into wholeness.

Recognizing that God desires truth in the inward parts. are we willing to humble ourselves before Him and allow Him to diagnose our problem with a Soul MRI, or will we continue to plow our way through life, sowing seeds that will eventually bring nothing but destruction?

Paul wrote of soul-fragmenting things that would characterize the last days.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV)

As I pondered that verse this week, the last imperative command jumped out at me. Have nothing to do with such people

What if “such people” is you? What if those things show up in your MRI? If they do, let the shepherd of your soul lead you into wholeness. Reject the very things we should have nothing to do with. Then you’ll understand what it really means to have truth in the inward parts.

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What Are Smart phones Doing to Us?

Hope all of you are having a great weekend so far. This morning I ran across this article that was re posted by Brett Kunkle from Stand to Reason and it was thought provoking to say the least. I thought I would send it out because it’s something I’ve thought a lot about recently.

It’s not a quick read, but maybe it will give you some extra stuff to think about over the weekend.

How Do Our Smart Phones Affect Us

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