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AskMe #2517046 06/07/11 06:13 AM
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Proverbs 10:28
The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.

God desires for our lives to be filled with happiness. There is nothing wrong with having hopes and dreams as long as they match up with God�s desire for our lives. However those who turn from God create expectations instead of hopes. The difference being an expectation has a demand with it and the want should be met as desired.

It seems like there are a lot of men in the news these days that say, �My wife was not meeting my needs which was not helpful to our marriage.� The truth is the person had an expectation and not a need. They expected to receive something that may not have even been available to them. Expectations also are not often communicated in a loving way, but instead a demand is made without love or without God�s blessing. True intimacy is being able to be open and honest with a spouse and everyone still feel safe and secure. When demands are made the security and safety vanish and usually the spouse rejects what is uncomfortable. Husbands and wives listen for a moment. Instead of making demands, instead of having expectations of your spouse learn to give to each other out of love. Learn to openly communicate and have an intimate relationship where love flourishes.

AskMe #2517538 06/08/11 06:27 AM
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1 John 1:8-10 (NLT)
8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

The apostle warns us of deceiving ourselves, which also leads to deceiving others. When we put honesty aside we are not living our life truthfully. We should instead be ready to be honest and confess our sins to God and to those we have harmed or offended. God is just and fair and He will forgive our sins when we are honest with Him. If we continue to sin and say we have no sin then our own dishonesty is calling God a liar.

William Shakespeare said, �Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.� Many of us remember the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. In jest the boy dishonestly yelled out for help several times and each time people ran to his rescue just to find he had lied. Then when real trouble came along no one listened for they believed his call for mercy was nothing more than a dishonest lie once again. Lies separate us from our spouses, friends, relatives and others because they begin to realize they do not know the true person. I have listened this week as a public official stated lie after lie and then finally broke down and told the truth. The evidence had become greater than his capacity for dishonesty and he could no longer compartmentalize his lies. If you are familiar with Dr. Drew and his work for addiction recovery, he said one of the strongest points they try to get across to patients is to �be honest�. If the patient cannot be honest they deny the addiction and problems. Doesn�t that sound like the verse above? Honesty builds a character of integrity. Lies and deceit tear down a person�s character in an instant. It is better even to pause for a moment to gather your thoughts when confronted with the truth than to express a lie. Stop and think what is right and what needs to be made known and honestly make a statement. It doesn�t even hurt if you say, �right now I cannot comment on that statement, but I will give an answer that is honest.� Honesty is your best policy in the long. Learn to be honest and also teach those under you the importance of having an honest character.

AskMe #2517972 06/09/11 06:26 AM
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Proverbs 11:3
3 Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people.

This proverb asserts God will guide the upright. The proverb also states dishonesty will destroy those who turn to evil purposes. Integrity, honesty and sincerity will guide a good person in the way of duty and safety. Their principles are clear and they can walk with an upright conscience. However, iniquity leads a person to ruin so their own perverseness will be their pit of destruction. They falsely believe their dishonesty will protect them, but in the end it will lead to ruin.

Shame is a powerful motivator. Shame is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. When a person commits an act they know is seriously wrong shame begins to overwhelm them. Often to handle the shame a person will begin to lie to cover up their shameful trail. As lies continue their life becomes compartmentalized. Take a person who appears to have a wonderful marriage. Then assume they start seeking out inappropriate relationships and involving themselves in self-destructive behaviors; eventually they have to admit their faults or do like some and lie to cover up their shame. There is a saying that honesty heals and secrets kill. It is so true and like the proverb above dishonesty will destroy. Even when sin is committed; honesty will bring about healing for the person. They may still have to deal with the shameful feelings and the consequences, but at least they are on the right track to recovery. The people around them know what they are dealing with and can help in ways the person did not imagine. If the person lies about an affair or problem they are having; they start building boxes to hold their lies. This is when compartmentalization begins. They may tell their spouse they are working, which in fact they are meeting their affair partner. Then they may tell lies to their affair partner to make the lies to their spouse feel more comfortable. They may have to lie to their friends who see them out with the affair partner. As the lies grow and grow the person is now trapped into maintaining those lies for different groups. The only way to bring about healing is honesty. Honesty destroys the compartmentalized boxes and makes the person whole again. Their anxiety reduces and they can work on their problem with the help of those who understand their failure.

AskMe #2518494 06/10/11 06:19 AM
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Proverbs 10:31-32 (NLT)
31 The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice, but the tongue that deceives will be cut off. 32 The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.

Here in this proverb we find people are either justified or condemned by their words. It is both the proof and the praise of a person�s wisdom and goodness that they speak wisely and well. A good and wise person will be of benefit to others as their wisdom has been rewarded by God. The good person will lift up many, praising them for their accomplishments; giving advice that edifies and is agreeable to the listener. Sin however becomes the ruin of the wicked. Their words are displeasing and they provoke controversy. They speak when they should remain silent and they give advice that is often unheeded.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer gives the following perspective on the Ministry of Listening. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter. [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), pages 97-8.]

There is an appropriate time to speak and give wisdom and there are times when we should just listen. Proverbs 29:20 tells us �There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.�

AskMe #2519076 06/13/11 06:42 AM
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Mark 2:15-17 (NLT)
15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus� followers.) 16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, �Why does he eat with such scum?� 17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, �Healthy people don�t need a doctor�sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.�

Jesus had called out to Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him and be one of His disciples. Levi in response invited Jesus and His disciples to his home. Being a tax collector was a scrupulous job for many tax collectors took advantage of the people for their own gain and profit. We notice in the verses Levi had invited many others to his home, tax collectors and those who sinned. The �religious� leaders saw what was taking place. Instead of directly confronting Jesus they went to His disciples and asked, �Why does he eat with such scum?� The Pharisees were making their own judgment about these people. Jesus overheard them and responded, �I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.�

In his book The Kingdom of God Is a Party (Word 1990), Tony Campolo relates an experience he had late one night in Hawaii. I see in it a parable of the kind of life Church Union Church needs to embrace in 2010. Up a side street I found a little place that was still open. I went in, took a seat on one of the stools at the counter, and waited to be served. This was one of those sleazy places that deserves the name, "greasy spoon." I did not even touch the menu. I was afraid that if I opened the thing something gruesome would crawl out. But it was the only place I could find. The fat guy behind the counter came over and asked me, "What d'ya want?" I said I wanted a cup of coffee and a donut. He poured a cup of coffee, wiped his grimy hand on his smudged apron, and then he grabbed a donut off the shelf behind him. I'm a realist. I know that in the back room of that restaurant, donuts are probably dropped on the floor and kicked around. But when everything is out front where I could see it, I really would have appreciated it if he had used a pair of tongs and placed the donut on some wax paper. As I sat there munching on my donut and sipping my coffee at 3:30 in the morning, the door of the diner suddenly swung open and, to my discomfort, in marched eight or nine provocative and boisterous prostitutes. It was a small place, and they sat on either side of me. Their talk was loud and crude. I felt completely out of place and was just about to make my getaway when I overheard the woman beside me say, "Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm going to be 39." Her "friend" responded in a nasty tone, "So what do you want from me? A birthday party? What do you want? Ya want me to get you a cake and sing 'Happy Birthday'?" "Come on," said the woman sitting next to me. "Why do you have to be so mean? I was just telling you, that's all. Why do you have to put me down? I was just telling you it was my birthday. I don't want anything from you. I mean, why should you give me a birthday party? I've never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?" When I heard that, I made a decision. I sat and waited until the women had left. Then I called over the fat guy behind the counter, and I asked him, "Do they come in here every night?" "Yeah!" he answered. "The one right next to me, does she come here every night?" "Yeah!" he said. "That's Agnes. Yeah, she comes in here every night. Why d'ya wanta know?" "Because I heard her say that tomorrow is her birthday," I told him. "What do you say you and I do something about that? What do you think about us throwing a birthday party for her�right here�tomorrow night?" A cute smile slowly crossed his chubby cheeks, and he answered with measured delight, "That's great! I like it! That's a great idea!" Calling to his wife, who did the cooking in the back room, he shouted, "Hey! Come out here! This guy's got a great idea. Tomorrow's Agnes's birthday. This guy wants us to go in with him and throw a birthday party for her�right here�tomorrow night!" His wife came out of the back room all bright and smiley. She said, "That's wonderful! You know Agnes is one of those people who is really nice and kind, and nobody does anything nice and kind for her." "Look," I told them, "if it's okay with you, I'll get back here tomorrow morning about 2:30 and decorate the place. I'll even get a birthday cake!" "No way," said Harry (that was his name). "The birthday cake's my thing. I'll make the cake."
At 2:30 the next morning, I was back at the diner. I had picked up some crepe-paper decorations at the store and had made a sign out of big pieces of cardboard that read, "Happy Birthday, Agnes!" I decorated the diner from one end to the other. I had that diner looking good. The woman who did the cooking must have gotten the word out on the street, because by 3:15 every prostitute in Honolulu was in the place. It was wall-to-wall prostitutes�and me! At 3:30 on the dot, the door of the diner swung open, and in came Agnes and her friend. I had everybody ready (after all, I was kind of the M.C. of the affair) and when they came in we all screamed, "Happy birthday!" Never have I seen a person so flabbergasted�so stunned�so shaken. Her mouth fell open. Her legs seemed to buckle a bit. Her friend grabbed her arm to steady her. As she was led to sit on one of the stools along the counter, we all sang "Happy Birthday"' to her. As we came to the end of our singing with "happy birthday, dear Agnes, happy birthday to you," her eyes moistened. Then, when the birthday cake with all the candles on it was carried out, she lost it and just openly cried. Harry gruffly mumbled, "Blow out the candles, Agnes! Come on! Blow out the candles! If you don't blow out the candles, I'm gonna hafta blow out the candles." And, after an endless few seconds, he did. Then he handed her a knife and told her, "Cut the cake, Agnes. Yo, Agnes, we all want some cake." Agnes looked down at the cake. Then without taking her eyes off it, she slowly and softly said, "Look, Harry, is it all right with you if I�I mean is it okay if I kind of�what I want to ask you is�is it O.K. if I keep the cake a little while? I mean, is it all right if we don't eat it right away?" Harry shrugged and answered, "Sure! It's O.K. If you want to keep the cake, keep the cake. Take it home, if you want to." "Can I?" she asked. Then, looking at me, she said, "I live just down the street a couple of doors. I want to take the cake home, okay? I'll be right back. Honest!" She got off the stool, picked up the cake, and carrying it like it was the Holy Grail, walked slowly toward the door. As we all just stood there motionless, she left. When the door closed, there was a stunned silence in the place. Not knowing what else to do, I broke the silence by saying, "What do you say we pray?" Looking back on it now, it seems more than strange for a sociologist to be leading a prayer meeting with a bunch of prostitutes in a diner in Honolulu at 3:30 in the morning. But then it just felt like the right thing to do. I prayed for Agnes. I prayed for her salvation. I prayed that her life would be changed and that God would be good to her. When I finished, Harry leaned over the counter and with a trace of hostility in his voice, he said, "Hey! You never told me you were a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to?" In one of those moments when just the right words came, I answered, "I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for whores at 3:30 in the morning." Harry waited a moment and then almost sneered as he answered, "No you don't. There's no church like that. If there was, I'd join it. I'd join a church like that!" Wouldn't we all? Wouldn't we all like to join a church that throws birthday parties for whores at 3:30 in the morning? Well, that's the kind of church that Jesus came to create!

AskMe #2519473 06/14/11 07:04 AM
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James 5:19-20 (NLT)
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

James is writing to brothers and sisters in Christ; which are Christians within the church. He reminds them it is possible for them to wander off into sin. James is always exhorting Christians to live moral and Godly lives, but he also reminds them they are capable of following the path of sin. When a Christian wanders into sin they are prone to error and subject to consequences. Bringing a Christian back to the truth not only saves them from the consequences that could affect life, it also has a positive impact on the lives around them.

In an article for ChristianityToday.com entitled "Our Divine Distortion," Christian songwriter Carolyn Arends shared a personal story that shows how easy it is to view friends as enemies when we are racked by shame or guilt�a dangerous trait that can have an impact on how we view God. She writes:

Condensed from an on-line article by Christianity Today magazine Carolyn Arends states: When I found a brand new lap-top for half price on eBay, I told my friend and musical colleague Spencer about my bargain of a find. He was worried: "Usually when something's too good to be true �" "I know," I replied impatiently, "but the seller has a 100 percent approval rating." "Be careful," warned Spencer.
"Of course," I assured him, annoyed. I wasn't born yesterday. I sent the seller $1,300 and discovered in very short, sickening order that I had fallen prey to a classic scam. A fraudster had hacked someone's eBay identity in order to relieve easy marks like me of our money. I felt [like a] fool�and didn't want to tell Spencer. The next time I saw his number on my caller ID, I didn't answer. I could just imagine his "I told you so." Soon, I was avoiding Spencer completely. And I started to resent him. Why did he have to be so judgmental? Why couldn't he be on my side? Why was I ever friends with that jerk? Eventually, we had to fly together to perform at a concert. "Whatever happened with that computer thing?" he asked an hour into the flight. Cornered, I finally confessed my foolishness, dreading the inevitable response. But as soon as I told Spencer about my mistake, a strange thing happened. The enemy I had turned him into evaporated. Spencer turned into Spencer again, my teasing but deeply empathetic buddy. As embarrassed as I was by my eBay error, I felt even dumber about the way I had allowed my shame to distort my perception of a best friend. If my hand had not been forced, I would have remained estranged from him indefinitely. I've always considered myself perceptive, but the longer I live, the more I discover my susceptibility to misinterpretation. This is true of the way I view my friends, truer of the way I see my enemies, and perhaps truest of the way I perceive God. [Carolyn Arends, "Our Divine Distortion," ChristianityToday.com (12-18-09)]

AskMe #2519757 06/15/11 06:19 AM
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Hebrews 13:8-9 (NLT)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God�s grace, not from rules about food, which don�t help those who follow them.

The apostle tells us we can count on the fact Jesus Christ always remains the same. It doesn�t matter if it was yesterday, today or anytime in the future, Jesus remains the same. Jesus delivered us from sin by His death on the cross. It was an act of love, mercy and grace. Because of the grace extended to us we are not held by rules, but instead by the love of Christ.

This morning I am struggling, trying to understand how far the grace of Jesus extends. It is a struggle because most of my life has been set with rules. Even in my day to day life I find many rules I must follow. There are laws on how to drive. There are laws that govern my living. There are rules about the way work must be performed. Yet, my life is also covered by grace. So am I obeying rules out of fear or am I obeying rules out of love for my Lord and Savior; that is my struggle! In my life I want to know God and I want to understand His desires. God said King David was a man after His own heart. Obviously David understood and knew what God wanted, yet David was not a perfect man. While it is sad about the many flaws of David I am thankful for them. For if David had been perfect I know it would never be possible to be a man after God�s own heart. Yet I have hope through grace. I have hope because God gave me hope. I know there are others who struggle with understanding God�s purpose for them, so let us stand together in prayer that we may know God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit that leads our lives.

AskMe #2520181 06/16/11 06:26 AM
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Acts 12:1-5 (NLT)
1 About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. 2 He had the apostle James (John�s brother) killed with a sword. 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration. 4 Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. 5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.

In these passages we find John�s brother James has been killed with a sword because of his powerful preaching about Christ. He was one of those sons of Zebedee whom Christ told that they should drink of the cup that he was to drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that he was to be baptized with. In other words they would follow in His death. One might think God would keep one of His from perishing, but the purpose of God may have been to awake the other apostles to the critical mission before them. For we find Peter is also imprisoned and placed under guard waiting for a trial. Peter may have thought it his duty to wait in prison for his trial, but the church was praying for him.

The next portion of Acts tells us this about Peter, �The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, �Quick! Get up!� And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, �Get dressed and put on your sandals.� And he did. �Now put on your coat and follow me,� the angel ordered. So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn�t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. Peter finally came to his senses. �It�s really true!� he said. �The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!�

While the angel miraculously freed Peter from his bondage in chains it was up to Peter to put on his shoes, get dressed and walk out of the prison. Peter then made his way to the home of John Mark�s mother where people were gathered praying for him. They were so intent in prayer they could not believe it when Peter said it was �he� who was standing at the door. It would have been so easy to miss the answered prayers of God. Yet God knew what He was doing so that His purpose might be fulfilled.

AskMe #2520638 06/17/11 07:05 AM
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Psalm 68:5 (NLT)

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows�this is God, whose dwelling is holy.

King David wrote the words in reflection that God watches over and protects those who have no one to protect them. He is a father to the fatherless teaching them His ways. For the widow is He is a defender ensuring the widow is cared for and protected. This is God�s nature that is holy and lives in a place of holiness.

In the US Father�s Day is held on the third Sunday of June. Father�s day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Sadly in life there are those without fathers. Some fathers live to a rich age, while others have died early in their life. However, some fathers abandon their families and leave them behind for their own selfish reasons as in my case. My father was an abusive alcoholic who could not or did not want to control his behavior. So when I was one year old my mother left and divorced my father and I never saw him again. It wasn�t until his family called to say he had died and there would be a funeral that I finally met him lying in a coffin. Because I am a junior, over the years I received calls from social workers saying they had found my father homeless on the street or he was in the hospital recovering from problems related to alcohol. It is sad that a father would put the importance of alcohol above his own children, but it was an illness he did not want to overcome. I say children because it turns out I have a younger half-brother I have never met, nor do I know where he lives. He was abandoned as well and from what I was told; he found my father and quickly sent him back because of the alcohol related issues. There were so many times it would have been nice to have had a father who cared and was available. He missed ballgames. He missed birthdays and celebrations. I needed someone when I was trying to learn how to be a man, but he wasn�t there.

Let me speak to fathers for a moment. Fathers you need to do everything possible for the sake of your children. You need to support, love and care for your family. Fathers you need to take time for your children and show them you love them. Be patient, kind and encouraging. Fathers, be present for your children and live as God would have you live.

For men and women without fathers let me say God has been with you always. God has been your protector. God has been there with you at those ballgames, dance rehearsals, while watching you celebrate life. You may not have had an earthly father, but you had a heavenly Father who cared deeply for you and found you precious. God is your Father and cares for you deeply and those blessings will continue to your family.

Children if you have fathers, who loved you and lived godly lives, show your honor and respect. You do not know what a blessing your father is until he is not present with you.

Happy Father�s Day to all fathers!!

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Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT)
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Psalm 51 is David�s admission to God about the sin he committed to take Bathsheba as his own. Not only had David committed adultery and caused Bathsheba�s pregnancy; but to hide the fact he placed Bathsheba�s husband in a position during war that ensured his death. David was a man broken by sin. His spirit was shattered as he came to grips with how he had sinned against God. In the verses above David confesses there is no need to try an offer sacrifices for what he has done. Instead David understands his need for repentance. David says to God, �You will not reject a broken and repentant hear�.

In life there are many times we find ourselves broken by sin. Sin while it may be appealing slowly destroys the life of a person. David started with just a look at Bathsheba and it increased into a desire to have her. When David was finally confronted by a friend he felt like his life was shattered to pieces. As much as David thought he had hidden his sins, his sins were never hidden from God. Fortunately our God is quick to forgive and supplies grace and mercy to those who have repentant hearts. Maybe you have experienced brokenness in your life. Remember God is always prepared to heal and restore you once you turn your life back over to Him.

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Proverbs 21:23 (NLT)
23 Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.

This proverb speaks for itself. There are some things which just should not be said. Avoiding saying the wrong words will keep a person from trouble.

It never fails to amaze me how people try to reconcile their issues and then they will say something that just completely ruins any trust or confidence. I have been listening to several interviews of people in the media lately. It seems the ones in trouble just didn�t know when to say nothing. For instance you don�t stand up before the public and say, �I did not do this!� and then the evidence comes out that you did. Another one is you don�t say the problems in your family was your fault and then turn around and announce had your family been supportive maybe the problems would not have occurred. You can�t blame another for your actions, when you were the one at fault. Listen well to this proverb and remain silent at the appropriate times. Don�t blame others when the blame is yours. And don�t lie to cover up mistakes for it better to say nothing than to say something that will break trust.

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James 5:16 (NLT)
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, writes we should be willing to confess our sins. We should also confess sins to those who we are close to so that they might pray with us to overcome those sins. James tells us that confession to a righteous person who prays for us will have great power within our lives and produce wonderful results.

Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. With accountability we are willing to disclose issues that affect us or others. We are willing to let someone look into our lives and see whatever problems may exist and guide us in correcting those issues. Many self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, take accountability serious. They tell the individual they need to seek out the forgiveness of those they have hurt, make themselves accountable, and make amends where possible with those they have hurt. This is where talking with someone is important and why AA includes a sponsor as a part of their program. The sponsor gives the individual someone safe they can trust to listen to their problems and help guide them in their recovery efforts. As Christians we need close, safe, and righteous friends we can discuss our sins with. We need to let these friends hold us accountable for our actions and pray with us when we fail. God is quick to forgive when someone confesses their sin so it is important to not hold back. We don�t always need to confess our sin to a person, but when we have hurt others we do and need the help and guidance from those who are safe, close and righteous friends.

AskMe #2522916 06/23/11 06:07 AM
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Proverbs 23:29-35 (NLT)
29 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. 31 Don�t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. 32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper. 33 You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. 34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. 35 And you will say, �They hit me, but I didn�t feel it. I didn�t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?�

King Solomon passes along to his son the wisdom of not indulging one�s self with the pleasure of alcohol. For the person who gives into indulgence finds themselves facing anguish, sorrow, along with emotional and physical pain. Even with the suffering they face they continue to seek after the pleasure of alcohol while continuing to destroy their lives and the lives they are tied to.

1st Timothy 3:8 says for a person to qualify as a deacon of a church they should not be heavy drinkers of wine. Ephesians 5:18 says to the Christian �And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.� The Bible makes it clear as Christians we should avoid indulging ourselves with alcohol and instead we should be seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I know firsthand the pains caused by alcohol for my father was an alcoholic. My mother said when my father was not drinking he could be the kindest person, but when he drank he became out of control, much like the words in Proverbs. He complained. He got into fights. He found himself beat up after spending long hours in bars. From years of drinking mixed with amphetamines to pull him out of his drunken state; he was psychotic; had hallucinations and said things that were untrue and crazy. He found himself in the mental hospital on several occasions from his addiction. Amazing how the words from thousands of years ago are still so true. If you find yourself struggling with the use of alcohol seek out help and stay clear from its temptation. Don�t ruin your life and the life of others for something that destroys.

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Proverbs 24:17-18 (NLT)
17 Don�t rejoice when your enemies fall; don�t be happy when they stumble. 18 For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.

King Solomon reminds us God does not want us to rejoice when those who trouble us fall from grace. God�s desire is to restore people and He allows the consequences of their choices to discipline them. It is at that time we should show mercy and grace in hopes they may be reconciled to God and with us.

In 1913, the Federal government held a fiftieth anniversary reunion at Gettysburg. It lasted three days. Thousands of survivors camped in the old battlefield, swapping stories, looking up comrades. The climax of the gathering was a reenactment of Pickett's Charge. Thousands of spectators gathered to watch as the Union veterans took their positions on opposite ridges and started toward each other. Philip Myers, [who witnessed the event as an 18 year old] wrote, "We could see not rifles or bayonets; nothing but canes and crutches. We soon could distinguish the more agile ones aiding those less able to maintain their places in the ranks." As they neared the battle line, they broke into one final, defiant rebel yell. "It was then," wrote Myers, "that the Yankees, unable to restrain themselves longer, burst from behind the stone wall, and flung themselves upon their former enemies...not in mortal combat, but re-united in brother love and affection." They came together, old enemies, and spent several moments in embraced hugs, hand shaking, and patting each other�s backs. [The Civil War, p. 412. From the files of Leadership.]

This was a time for reconciliation, not a time to start a new war. The broken and wounded were there where the battle had taken place and the enemy gave compassion freely and openly. God wants us to be compassionate and merciful to those who have been broken and wounded; not resentful and angry. We all need to learn to forgive for our own sake and let grace be our guide.

AskMe #2523814 06/27/11 07:17 AM
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2 Samuel 13:20-23 (NLT)
20 Her brother Absalom saw her and asked, �Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, my sister, keep quiet for now, since he�s your brother. Don�t you worry about it.� So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom�s house. 21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry. 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister. 23 Two years later, when Absalom�s sheep were being sheared at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king�s sons to come to a feast.

These verses show the dysfunction of a family. Amnon, son of King David, half-brother to Tamar and Absalom, raped Tamar. Absalom found out and wanted to hide Tamar�s shame and protect her. King David found out the details and while angry did nothing about the problem. Two years passed and still King David had done nothing about the rape of Tamar, which was his responsibility as king and even more of a responsibility as her father.

Can you imagine the turmoil Tamar lived in? First raped by her brother and then ignored by her father. Then the brother who cared so much for her made a choice to defend her honor and kill his half-brother, which later isolated him. Can you imagine being told to keep quiet through this turmoil? Unfortunately many people feel they must remain silent about their problems and secrets. Yet, God wants us to seek out safe and wise people who can help us with our struggles. God wants us to know there is someone we can share our burdens with and not have to hold back secrets. I have heard Dr. Drew say more than once that patients are told �You are only as sick as your secrets.� And it is true, hold back the secrets and you are holding back the emotional pain that needs to be released and dealt with. I pray if you have issues in your life you have not told anyone, seek out someone you can trust and someone who has the wisdom to lead you in the right direction. Please don�t let life�s issues overwhelm you to the point of seeking out solutions that destroy your life.

AskMe #2524124 06/28/11 06:12 AM
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Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

King Solomon shares this piece of wisdom that we must maintain a holy jealousy of ourselves and ensure that all areas of our soul are guarded. We are to not let our hearts hurt others, nor are we to let others hurt our heart. Our hearts should remain free from sin and not disturbed by the trouble that comes into our lives. We are to have a good conscience; keeping good thoughts and not bad ones. We must keep our hearts with more diligence than any other part of us, because all issues of life are directed by the heart. Our lives will follow the path of our heart making us comfortable or uncomfortable, rejoiceful or distraught.

We owe it to our husband or wife, our fellow workers, our children, our friends, indeed to everyone who comes into our lives, to be as happy as we can be. This does not mean acting unreal, and it certainly does not mean refraining from honest and intimate expressions of our feelings to those closest to us. But it does mean that we owe it to others to work on our happiness.... I once asked a deeply religious man if he considered himself a truly pious person. He responded that while he aspired to be one, he felt that he fell short in two areas. One of those areas, he said, was his not being a happy enough person to be considered truly pious. His point was that unhappy religious people reflect poorly on their religion and their Creator. He was right; in fact, unhappy religious people pose a real challenge to faith. If their faith is so impressive, why aren't these devoted adherents happy? There are only two possible reasons: either they are not practicing their faith correctly, or they are practicing their faith correctly and the religion itself is not conducive to happiness. Most outsiders assumer the latter reason. Unhappy religious people should therefore think about how important being happy is -- if not for themselves, then for the sake of their religion. Unhappy, let alone angry, religious people provide more persuasive arguments for atheism and secularism than do all the arguments of atheists. [Dennis Prager, talk show host, author, columnist , Happiness Is a Serious Problem (Regan Books, 1998), p.4]

AskMe #2524378 06/29/11 07:31 AM
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Proverbs 29:1 (NLT)
1 Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.

The Reverend Matthew Henry wrote, �The obstinacy of many wicked people in a wicked way is to be greatly lamented. They are often reproved by parents and friends, by magistrates and ministers, by the providence of God and by their own consciences, have had their sins set in order before them and fair warning given them of the consequences of them, but all in vain; they harden their necks. Perhaps they fling away, and will not so much as give the reproof a patient hearing; or, if they do, yet they go on in the sins for which they are reproved; they will not bow their necks to the yoke, but are children of Belial; they refuse reproof , despise it, hate it. They shall be suddenly destroyed, in the midst of their security, and without remedy; they have sinned against the preventing remedy, and therefore let them not expect any recovering remedy.

There are two types of criticism we usually deal with in life, negative criticism and constructive criticism. Negative criticism is when someone voices an opinion towards us with the purpose of showing that something is simply wrong, false, mistaken, nonsensical, objectionable, disreputable or evil. It is generally interpreted as an attack towards us. Constructive criticism aims to show that the intent or purpose of something is better served by an alternative approach. In this case, the target of criticism is not necessarily deemed wrong, and its purpose is respected; rather, it is claimed that the same goal could be better achieved via a different route. For some of us any form of criticism is painful because it is directed at our self-esteem which may make us feel devalued. However King Solomon says we should accept the words of criticism and not refuse it when it is given to us. In other words we should listen to others opinions, but use the wisdom God has given us to discern what is true and what is not. Listening never hurts. In fact the Bible tells us we should be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to anger giving time to weight the evidence before us and apply what is necessary to our lives.

AskMe #2524630 06/30/11 06:28 AM
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Luke 18:9-14 (NLT)
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 �Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: �I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don�t cheat, I don�t sin, and I don�t commit adultery. I�m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.� 13 �But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, �O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.� 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.�

Jesus told this parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector to teach us humility and for humiliation of sin revealed in prayer. Pharisees thought themselves to be strict followers of the law who did no wrong. The tax collector on the other hand was considered the lowest of the low by most people for having an unscrupulous character. In these verses the Pharisee boldly enters the holy temple and praises himself to God. The tax collector stood afar from the temple not daring to approach what was considered holy ground for he knew himself to be filled with sin. In truth we are all filled with sin and it was the tax collector who humbled himself as a sinner crying out for mercy from God. Jesus then states, �those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those humble themselves will be exalted.�

Let�s face the truth; there is not a single person alive on this earth that does not commit sin in some fashion or form. Romans 3:23 tells us, �For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.� So it doesn�t matter who you are or how religious you think you are; you are a sinner. Jesus proved that point when religious leaders brought a woman to him caught in the midst of adultery. He said to them, �He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.� What was the result? Everyone was convicted of their sin, even those who thought they were set apart as being holy and righteous. They all departed leaving Jesus alone with the woman they were so willing to destroy because they were suddenly humbled. There are many today who think they are holy and righteous and take up stances against those who �they� believe are sinners. We are told to be careful how we point out another�s sin because of our own sins. We are told we can reprimand a Christian who has fallen into sin, but we are also to lead them back, and forgive their sins. For the non-Christian we are always to act out of love and mercy so we might lead them to Christ. Humble yourself before God knowing you are a sinner saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Extend the grace and mercy God offers you to others and love them instead of condemning them.

AskMe #2525394 07/05/11 06:26 AM
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Luke 20:45-47 (NLT)
45 Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said, 46 �Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.�

In these verses Jesus cautions his disciples about the ways of the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus wants them to understand they should not be drawn into their sinful ways. He describes the leaders prideful ways, and how they seek after admiration. They cheat those who are to be cared for. They pretend to show reverence for God by making lengthy prayers, but they do so only for show. Jesus said these leaders will be severely punished for their actions.


Author Ed Dobson wrote a book titled The Year of Living Like Jesus, in which he tells the story in diary form of how he tried to live as Jesus lived and as Jesus taught for a year. On day thirteen of month one, he records this story:

My wife and I drove to Key West. I decided to take a day off from reading. As we walked past a restaurant on Duvall Street, a man, who'd obviously been drinking, called from the steps: "Hey, could spare some change so I can get something to eat?"

I've heard that line a lot, and I know a number of responses. First, you can simply ignore such people. After all, he will most likely use whatever money you give him to buy more alcohol, and, therefore, you'd be enabling his habit. Second, you can offer to take him to a restaurant to buy him something to eat. In most cases the person will not go because he mainly wants the money to buy alcohol. Third, you can point him to an organization that provides meals for the homeless. Many such organizations exist in most cities.

What did my wife and I do? We walked past the man without doing anything, as we have done with so many other people over the years. After all, it's not our fault that he is where he is.

But after we'd walked on a little farther, he called after us, "Can you help a Vietnam vet?" My youngest son is a veteran, and I deeply respect those who have served their country in that way. So I stopped, walked back to him, and gave him a dollar. At that moment I remembered the words of Jesus: "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." It's as simple as that�give to the one who asks. He asked. I had an obligation to give.

As I walked down the street, a wonderful peace came over me because I felt I'd actually obeyed one of Jesus' teachings. I knew he'd probably use it to buy more alcohol and that I probably hadn't made the wisest choice. And I also knew that a dollar wasn't really going to help him. But I had no other choice. He asked and I was obligated.

Still, what caused me to give him the money was not really my responsibility to follow Jesus, but the fact that he was a veteran. So after my initial euphoria, I realized I had done the Jesus thing for the wrong reasons. [Ed Dobson, The Year of Living Like Jesus (Zondervan, 2010), pp. 24-25]

AskMe #2525703 07/06/11 06:17 AM
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Luke 22:45-46 (NLT)
45 At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. 46 �Why are you sleeping?� he asked them. �Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.�

Jesus had warned the disciples with these words, �Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.� Jesus had even looked at Simon Peter and said, �I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.� Jesus was directly telling Simon Peter he was going to sin, but he would repent and turn back to strengthen the other disciples. Even with this knowledge the disciples ignored the warning and slept as Jesus prayed. The response from Jesus was, �Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.�

Prayer is the means by which we communicate with God. Can you imagine having a relationship with anyone that you were not in communication with? Over time the relationship would decay as we lost the importance of whom the person is and who we are to that person. There must be communication in order to maintain a healthy relationship. Our relationship with God works the same way. We must spend time talking to Him in prayer. We need to express our feelings and talk about our life. We must also listen to His desires, which require us to remain silent at times. God wants the best for us, but we cannot know the best without knowing which direction God wants us to go. Follow the words of Jesus and �Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.� God is waiting for us as He always does.

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