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Soured Plotlines

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Four months of sub-human treatment in the enemy’s camp, and Bobby can’t believe his eyes. Hope forsook him long ago, and yet he’s now staring at his rescue in disbelief. The group of five infiltrated the camp, and they now stand ready to end his stint as a prisoner of war. An hour later, as they make their way out undiscovered, Bobby finally asks the Jed, the group’s leader, where they’re going. After some time with an absent look on his face, Jed admits, “I have no idea. I haven’t thought about it.”

Well, that was lame. Do I win “worst plot of the year” award? Probably. But I bet you’ve actually done this. I know I have. And we’re bound to do it again and again if we don’t ground our lives in firm goal of being infatuated with God ourselves.

It wouldn’t make much sense to break into an enemy camp with no idea where you want to bring the imprisoned soldier. It makes about as much sense to move into your friend’s life to help them and yet have little idea where you want to take them. So, let’s ask: 

What do I ultimately want to happen when I give counsel?

There’s always the answer from the last post, “I want them to see God.” For sure, it’s a sound and biblical answer, but we need to be aware that, as people inherently suffering from multiple personalities (that is, flesh and Spirit), our goals are constantly shifting. “What do you want to happen?” isn't just a one-time, static question to settle with a doctrinal statement. It is an all-the-time, pliable narrative that we work through over and over with the Holy Spirit amid our ever-changing, messy lives.

In fact, I’m not sure we can truly want something for someone else that we haven’t already practiced wanting in daily life. For sure, I can meet my friend and think, “I want you to see God.” But if I’ve merely wanted to escape into television the day before that, then the idea of wanting anyone to see God is honestly more of and out-of-context intrusion than it is a genuine desire. My goals for other people answer to my everyday life. They also have the deciding say as to whether I’m truly helping my friends or souring their plot lines with indecision and unknown goals. Goals are what fundamentally separate biblical counseling from pop-psychology:

What do you want to happen?

The truth is that life changes, our desires change, and we change with them. So get into the habit of asking yourself often where you want to take friends when you meet with them. And realize that your lifestyle (obedience in faith or disobedience in unbelief) is the rudder that determines where you want to take them. If you want others to see God, you must want to see Him yourself, and you must be careful to make this a daily want.

Naked and Exposed

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During our evening meal the other day, my son, Charles Isaac said to me, "I can't imagine you having hair on your head!"  

I have no idea why we were discussing my baldness, but we were. This made me realize that "bald dad" is the only dad that he has ever known. He doesn't know anything about the glory days of my follicles. It is true, I have not always been a bald man. I once had long, majestic, flowing beautiful hair that I shampooed, conditioned, and brushed with loving care. Nowadays, I just rub a bar of cheap soap on my head, and shave the rebel stragglers who do not realize that they lost the war. The Fabio look is just not in the cards for me at this age of my life. I probably more closely resemble John Malkovich. 


Being bald has its unique challenges. When I go to a store with my wife, I always gravitate to the hat section. My head needs to be protected from the elements. In the winter, a hat or toboggan is not a fashion statement, it is a basic survival tool. In the summer, I cover my head with a straw hat to protect it from the sun, yet give it access to the cool breeze. Sometimes, I resort to slathering it with sunscreen to guard against damaging ultraviolet rays. 


We all attempt to protect and cover ourselves in a different way. The writer of Hebrews said "...all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." 


When Adam and Eve sinned, they hid behind the trees of the garden. God already knew that they were naked, and that they disobeyed Him. The trees were not accomplishing the goal that Adam had in mind. We are already naked and open to God, but God wants us to realize this, and come out into the open. He wants us to stop standing behind the trees that he made and be honest with him about our hearts. Just as He did to Adam and Eve, He now asks the same questions of us: "What have you done? Where are you?" 


Where are you? Where is your heart? When God asks us, we do that same thing our ancestors did. We hide behind the things that He created. 


God knows this about us and provided an answer. He incarnated His perfect Son, Jesus to die in our place. That's the good news. If you have heard this before, don't tune out on me now. Listen. 


Why is it good news? Because once we see that the cross has already exposed us for who we are, we can stop hiding. God knows that we have all sinned. Not only that, all other people, whether they be Christians or not, know that we all have sinned. Just ask them. Oh, they may use different verbiage. They may say: "Nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes". That's just another way of saying, "I acknowledge that we all fall short of God's glory". 


So how does this pertain to your day to day life?   


If you didn't fall short, it wouldn't make sense for God to send His flawless Son to die in your place. It's not a secret. You sin. You have sinned in the past. You sin now. You will sin until the day that you die. So why hide? The good news gives us freedom to come out from behind the trees & confess to God. When we do that, God continues to cover us with something that works - the gospel. It also gives us freedom to be honest with those that we are in community with, with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our brothers and sisters can pray for us, encourage us and help us because they realize they are right there with you - saved by grace. We are saved from the embarrassing attempt to cover up the truth with our pitiful, anemic lies.  


My son doesn't know everything about me, even though He has known me all of his life. The problem is, he hasn't known me for all of my life. God, on the other hand, has always known us. Before we were conceived in the womb, He knew everything. Before anything in creation was created by Him, He knew it all. He foresaw our lives, and He knew that we would sin. He knows how many hairs are on your head. If you counted one star in our universe every second, it would take you 12,500 years to count them all. He knows how many stars there are, and He knows everything about them, things that mankind will never know. 


So be honest with the Lord when you pray. As you do, His grace will become bigger in your eyes, and His power will slowly, over time, help you to sin less. Be honest with the Christian friends that you trust. They may not handle it perfectly, but if they are true, they will falteringly and humbly try to lead you again and again to this amazing grace that we share. 

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