Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

The Noon-Day Demon

February 24, 2023

Have you charted your energy levels at various times of the day?

I have good energy early in the morning. I typically meditate, read, think, and write this early–before 6:30. Then some kind of physical workout. Then more reading and writing until about 11 or 11:30. Then I need some sort of break and lunch. Then I have little energy for a time. Somewhere around 4:00 pm I pick up again and can last until bed time.

Ancient Greeks wrote about akedeia which became Latin acedia — the “noon-day demon.”

This is a state of listlessness, torpor, feeling perhaps a little lost. Perhaps this is the time you post or re-post those cynical, negative thoughts on social media? Perhaps this is the time your thoughts are most prone to dwell upon sinful image and urges?

When the ancient Christian writers were teaching monks acedia outranked some of the demons (as they called them) such as gluttony or sloth. It was a time when monks might wonder why they were even there. Isn’t there somewhere better to be?

I find a short (hopefully) nap to be quite useful. Perhaps a walk for a bit out in nature. That might be a good time for some weight lifting.

The first thing is to recognize the condition. And to realize that the condition was recognized millennia ago. Realize it. Deal with it. Schedule your work day around it–do phone calls not deep work if you’re in an office. Don’t let it overpower you into making bad decisions.

Sin Is A Pass or Fail Test

February 6, 2023

Shortly after I get up in the morning, I put my coffee on to brew and then I measure my blood pressure. I thought about the test. At the doctor’s office, they hustle you back to the examination room, have you sit on the table, they may or may not tell you to put your feet flat on the little shelf, then they measure. One time. That reading is today’s reading. Pass or fail.

But in reality, your blood pressure will vary somewhat during the day. If they took a measure, waited a few minutes and repeated, the measurement would be different.

Once upon a time in my career, I was proficient in preparing products for testing by UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) in order to meet a safety standard. I was even on the Industry Advisory Board for standard development for one standard.

The procedure goes like this:

  • make an appointment
  • send product and any required accessories
  • UL engineers and technicians run the test
  • UL engineer informs you–pass or fail

The test engineer for my standard told me once that companies from one geographic region always asked about going 2 out of 3 if the first test failed. Companies from another region would want to negotiate.

This made me think of some discussions Jesus had with his religious opponents–the Pharisees. To Jesus, an act (physical or in your head) was either a sin or not. Pass or fail. He accused the Pharisees of negotiating. If a law of Moses was inconvenient to their way of life, they made up a rule to circumvent it. Remember the discussion about the law about supporting one’s parents but how the Pharisees had a rule that was like a loophole out of the sin of not doing that?

How about us? Do we negotiate with God? Do we ask to go 2 out of 3?

A sin is a sin. We all do several every day. I know people who sort out certain groups or types of people and won’t let them participate in church because they are sinners. Well, we are all sinners. Why bother pointing our finger at some certain group?

That is why God invented repentance and grace. We have the ability to become aware of our sin, talk with God about turning our ways into a different direction, and then accepting God’s grace that we are still loved and accepted.

That was the Good New Jesus brought. That offering still exists. And will exist.

Who Can Say I Am Pure From My Sin

January 20, 2023

It is honorable to refrain from strife; but every fool is quick to quarrel.–from Proverbs 20

Sometimes uncomfortable memories appear from nowhere reminding me of the time of life when I was quick to quarrel. Mostly I was quiet, but sometimes there would be a trigger.

I still must watch for that even though many years of meditation have rewired my brain.

Who can say, “I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?”–from Proverbs 20

A few men worked in our department in the manufacturing plant who attended the same small country church. They told us that having been “saved by Jesus” they were “made pure from sin and therefore could sin no more.”

There was a 10-minute break time in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon and a 30-minute lunch period. We were all paid by the hour to perform certain assigned work. They had a habit of meeting during those three break periods for prayer. Their prayers might, and usually did, run for much longer than their break time.

Did they not think that getting paid to work and then not working was a sin?

Last night I was reading in Matthew where Jesus upbraided the Pharisees for making up rules that allowed them to circumvent the Laws of Moses.

The human mind is able to justify anything, I guess.

Where am I, where are you, sinning by commission or omission yet calling it not sin?

Bringing Wisdom To Life

January 10, 2023

Today’s reading going through the Hebrew book of the Proverbs during January is Chapter 10—beginning the proverbs of Solomon. He was a son of King David. He was not the first born. Because of rebellion, pride, dysfunctional families, death, Solomon became king upon David’s death.

God visited Solomon and said he would grant a desire. Solomon asked for wisdom. And, indeed, he became known throughout the Middle East for his wisdom.

One would never know it by the way he lived. As befitting a king, he had many wives and many women in the palace not his wives but with whom he could sleep with. He had many offspring. Despite his wisdom, he was unable to raise an upright son and heir.

This is the most ironic book in the Bible. And sad in the sense that at the end of his life Solomon realized that he had not lived according to the wisdom granted him.

His son was full of pride and  in a very short time caused the division of the vast kingdom acquired by his father. It was all chasing the wind, as Solomon said later.

Take a lesson, not only from the words but also from the story behind the words. 

We can read and memorize and even understand the wisdom that comes from God. But as Jesus explained time and again, unless we live out those words, we are lost. 

The Joy of Sinning

November 3, 2020

The Apostle Paul writing some of his most poignant thoughts talked of how he gets upset with himself when he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants.

Augustine (au-GUS-tin, the city in Florida is au-gus-TEEN) of Hippo wrote in his Confessions about a time when at age 16 (the brains of 16-year-old boys were just as undeveloped in 360 as 2020) when he and a group of other boys stole a large quantity of pears and then wound up just throwing them to the pigs. He was puzzling why he did it.

The real pleasure was simply in doing something that was not allowed.

Sometimes I think I’m like Augustine where I can suddenly remember seemingly every stupid thing I’ve done like that. People thought I was a good boy–I wasn’t. At least, not always.

That carries over even until today, I fear.

Often when I read current news, I have the feeling that there are many in our society who are acting out that same inner drive toward sin–the pleasure lies in the knowledge that it is not allowed.

Augustine mourns that he did not know God when he was 16, and he wishes that he would have. I bet most of us are in that same boat.

But today is a new day. Life will put before us this very day opportunities to do things not allowed yet pleasing to our hearts. Or–we could pause, re-focus, calm down, and derive pleasure from being part of the Kingdom of God.

We can pick up Paul’s challenge and sometimes do what we know we should as Jesus-followers.

Politically Correct

December 11, 2018

Many people (white men?) complain about the “politically correct” speech movement. They seem to feel it is a restraint on their freedom.


Do we need to be free to speak about people in demeaning terms?

Do we need to be free to preach hatred?

The founders of the American Republic were rightly concerned that people would grab onto the “rights” without considering the balancing “responsibilities”.

Especially as Christians, do we need social pressure to speak respectfully of others? To speak wisdom? To think before we speak (read the letter of James for a longer essay on this)?

I am almost never on Facebook anymore. I don’t see some of the memes going around. But I guess there is a kerfluffel about the “Christmas” song “Baby It’s Cold Out There.”

First, hate to burst your bubble, but this isn’t a Christmas song. It’s a winter song.

Next, the song is about a man convincing a reluctant woman to have sex with him. It is done playfully. That makes it even more dangerous.

Have we learned nothing from the last several years? Finding ways to convince or force others into having sex is simply not correct behavior. Forget “politically correct.” It is not morally correct.

In the terms of the Proverbs, many people seem to want the right to be a fool when we should be growing into Wisdom.

You’ve Got Some ‘splainin’ To Do

July 5, 2016

“Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!” Desi Arnaz to Lucille Ball

One of the earliest of TV comedies was the Lucille Ball show. It featured a crazy “housewife” and her Cuban band director husband–Lucy and Ricky. She was forever getting herself into impossible situations and then Ricky would discover the scheme of the week.

Steve Carter, teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, was speaking Sunday on Paul’s second letter to his mentee Timothy (2:14-17). Paul instructed Timothy as a pastor and leader to warn people about the destructiveness of empty chatter.

Carter proceeded to pull up Facebook on his laptop (projected to us all, of course), and showed some of the more sanitized of his “news” feed. The loudest response came when he mentioned that many posts are made late at night. “There’s nothing you have to say at 11:45 pm that the world needs to know,” he stated.

It is hard to count the number of times I want to respond to the lies, exaggerations, innuendos, and hate I see spewed by people I know who call themselves Christians. If “by your fruits you will be known” means anything, perhaps more of us should be looking at the fruits of our hearts as broadcast to the world through our Facebook posts.

Well, then I stop, let it sit for a while, and then realize that nothing I say will have any impact on the person. It’s best to just not read it in the first place (you can unfollow people who continually violate that “mindless chatter” stuff and save yourself a few points of blood pressure increase). If by happenstance you do read the stuff, just let it slide by.

But the thought came to me picturing these Christians (especially) on this topic facing God someday and hearing, “About that Facebook thing, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.”


June 6, 2016

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. — 1 Corinthians 10:31

Picture a large seafood buffet restaurant. He had a plate already full of a variety of fish and shrimp. He added crab legs. And he added crab legs. And he piled on still more crab legs. When he walked away there were six piled atop his plate.

I had plenty to eat–2 cups of clam chowder, a dozen peel-n-eat shrimp, a set of crab legs, corn on the cob (well the small pieces of cherry cobbler and apple cobbler were over the top)–and felt like I had barely snacked compared to what I saw going on around the serving lines.

The image of the “Seven Deadly Sins” came to mind as I sat there. One of them being gluttony.

The list came from Pope Gregory I around 600 CE.

7 Deadly Sins List:

  1. Envy = the desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses
  2. Gluttony = excessive ongoing consumption of food or drink
  3. Greed or Avarice = an excessive pursuit of material possessions
  4. Lust = an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially for sexual desires
  5. Pride = excessive view of one’s self without regard to others.
  6. Sloth = excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents
  7. Wrath = uncontrollable feelings of anger and hate towards another person

Yes, one night out at a buffet does not a glutton make. But it is worth considering how much of our attention is devoted to overeating. It certainly shows up around our waistlines!

The list (not found this way in the Bible, by the way, but compiled from many Biblical sources) brings to awareness the many ways that we let focus on ourselves take away our focus on God.

As we  focus, so we live. We need that daily time of reflection to bring God into our awareness so that we focus on what is right and good.