Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Do You Have Scruples?

By Brenda Boen
December 5, 2012

Anyone ever ask you if you have scruples?  Do you even know what that means, really?  The dictionary defines scruples as “a doubt or hesitation that troubles the conscience or that comes from the difficulty of determining whether something is right.”  So, if someone asks you if you have scruples they really want to know if you know right from wrong.  So do you?  I have learned from experience that if you don’t know the truth you will believe a lie.  I have also learned that you can know the truth and deliberately ignore it to satisfy your own sinful desires.

Romans 1:18-20 says “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,  since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.   For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

The Bible packs a pretty good punch saying we can clearly see and are without excuse.  And it also calls people wicked and godless those who suppress the truth.  That is all well and good when you realize how bad the world has gotten with all the sinful desires and acts that are prevalent.  But what about you?  Do you classify yourself in this category?  Do you act wicked and godless?  What do you struggle with that makes you doubt or hesitate and troubles your conscience?  Do you look the other way when something is obviously wrong?  Do you participate in things that you know is wrong but do it anyway?  Are you satisfying your own sinful desires and trying to tiptoe away hoping no one will call what you do sin, not to mention God seeing it?

Maybe you speed knowing that you are breaking the law.  Maybe you keep that extra change at the store knowing it doesn’t belong to you.  Maybe you are having sex outside of marriage knowing full well that God does not approve.  Maybe you just told a “little lie” or a really big one for some selfish reason.  Maybe you are around people that are leading you in the wrong direction.  What could be clouding your conscience to do the right thing?

We are all clearly sinful, that is a fact.  The good news is that God forgives sin.  When we humble ourselves and confess our sins God will forgive us and set us on a new path.  But, we have to choose to walk that path in the correct direction following God’s ways and His truth.  That is not only a day to day process but a moment by moment process.  The enemy tempts us constantly to make the wrong decisions.  But with God as our strength and our power we can resist that temptation.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

So how do you keep a clear conscience and have scruples?  You must first know what truth is.  We learn that by studying God’s Word.  And we have to train just as a runner does for the race.  That means constantly training, not just to read it sometimes.  If a runner runs only a little here and there he will not have built up the endurance he needs to run a successful race.  We too, need endurance to run this spiritual and moral race of life.  When moral dilemmas are presented to us we must know how to respond and how to resist.  And the more we resist the easier it becomes.  Oh, we will still be tempted.  That is a fact.  However, the more we practice resistance the more commonplace it will become.  Then we will be able to stand against evil.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Ephesians 6:10-17

So let me ask you again.  Do you have scruples and a clear conscience?  Strive today to resist evil and walk the path of righteousness.  Get into God’s word and find out how to live.  And keep reading and resisting and live a righteousness life so no one will ever have to ask you if you have scruples.  Live your life in such a way that people know without a doubt where you stand.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Where is Your Focus?

By Brenda Boen
December 1, 2012

The rush is on!  The rush to shop for all those presents, the rush to get the house clean to get the tree and decorations up, the rush to finalize the year end reports and the dreaded New Year’s resolutions on how we are going to make next year different.  Feeling any pressure?  During all the hustle and bustle how many times do you stop to reflect and keep your focus on what is important?  I was told several years ago to “keep the main thing, the main thing.”  What is the main thing for you?  If you could turn off the entire world and sit in quiet for a moment what would you reflect on?

My husband has Stage 4 Cancer.  This past year has been a hustle and bustle of surgeries, chemo treatments, endless tests and doctor appointments.  We’ve had the conversations about “what if” and “when” and taking care of needed things. We’ve had to deal with the financial burdens and stress of a mountain of medical bills as well.  At first we didn’t focus too much on the future because there simply wasn’t time between keeping up with appointments and treatments.  Then there was the not feeling good and the caregiving and the unknown.  But as my husband’s body began to recover from the initial shock of everything that had been thrown at it, we were able to settle in and look forward to each day. 

My husband remarked that cancer was just a bump in the road of life.  I replied that it was more like a pot hole.  But all during everything we both commonly remark that God is still in control.  He did not give Paul cancer but has allowed it in his life.  We don’t always understand everything but we know that God is always with us through it all.  And as we have experienced, life is precious, every moment. 

So, even throughout all we have been going through, we have kept the main thing the main thing.  What is the main thing?  It’s our focus on our relationship with God.  It is paramount to our existence and our being.  Without God, life doesn’t make sense.  We certainly have had many opportunities to question God and we could have cursed Him as well.  But we haven’t.  God hasn’t changed and He hasn’t done this to punish us.  If anything, this experience has grown us closer to God and made us realize that all the hustle and bustle of life is just blowing in the wind as Solomon put it.  What matters is how we relate to God and to other people.  It’s not being successful in business or accumulating things or being better than others.  When it’s all over all that matters is your relationship to God, the One who created you in the first place to have a relationship with Him.  And oh, what a sweet loving relationship that is.  I can’t imagine going through what we’ve been through without the love of God.  With Him we have the hope of a future without pain and suffering that this world offers.  When Paul was first diagnosed his remark was that it was a win-win situation for him.  Either God would heal him here on earth or he’d get to go home to heaven sooner for the ultimate healing.  Now that is something to look forward to!

Our sole purpose of existence is to have a relationship with God.  God created us for that purpose—to have a relationship with Him.  He has given us His Word, the bible, with instructions to know how to have a relationship with Him.  But because we are sinful we cannot get to Him.  So He sent His one and only Son who sacrificed His life and blood on the cross to bridge that gap and cleanse us from that sin and make us a new person.  All we have to do is repent and turn from our sins and walk a new path, the path He has for us.  And when we live with God our life has meaning and purpose.  We have joy and happiness and God’s blessings.  It all sounds so simple because it is.  But first we have to die to ourselves meaning we must get our own pride and self out of the way and let God live through us.  Sure we will still have troubles, but God is with us through it and we can see the sun through the clouds.  I can’t image a life without God.  I can’t imagine all that I’ve gone through in my life without God.  I have true happiness in spite of sorrows and sickness and the sinful world around me.  And I do mess up on a regular basis.  But God forgives me.  He says that when I repent that He will remember my sins no more.  “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12  The past is the past.  I just have to work on the present and continually ask God to forgive me where I mess up.  And He is faithful to do that every time.  Oh I can’t imagine what life is like without God in my life.  I know some people think they are happy but inner peace and understanding that come from God is priceless and worth more than anything you could ever experience.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

What are you focusing on?  How is your relationship with God?  Are you walking with Him or away from Him?  You have a choice every minute of the day.  All the choices you make will shape the outcome of your life.  Are you keeping the main thing the main thing?

Sitting on the Sidelines

By Brenda Boen
March 25, 2012

Recently I watched my grandson play baseball.  This was one of the first games of the season and his coaches had chosen to play an older team for a scrimmage.  These boys were taller, older and much more experienced at playing baseball.  They were very good at working together and throwing and catching the ball when needed.  They could hit the ball very well and actually where they intended it to go.  One boy was very good at bunting too.  They were also very aggressive in stealing base, which netted them several runs because the younger team made bad throws and were not as quick reacting.  When it was all said and done, the other team won 12 to 1.  I talked to my grandson after the game and pointed out all the things that the other team did and how they could learn from them.  When I asked him what he learned from that game he said “Don’t play with older kids!”  A somewhat wise remark but it got me to thinking about how we sometimes avoid things in life because they are too hard.

Life is like this.  We can sit on the sidelines and observe what to do and what not to do.  We can get in the game or sit and watch it from the stand.  I always used to tell my daughters that you don’t always have to experience things for yourself.  You can watch others make stupid mistakes and then just not do what they do.  You can observe how others live and pick up pointers in what is good and what is not.  And you can also sit on the sidelines and not participate in life at all thinking you will make mistakes.  Sometimes life involves risks.  Most are not life threatening or result in disaster.  Some things are actually good to experience.  Most are things we can experience and make a difference in our life or the lives of others.  And some things will teach us much needed life lessons.

Are you afraid to get in the game for fear of failing or making mistakes?  Do you prefer to sit by while life passes you by?  Or are you willing to get in the game of life and live even though it does sometimes take risks on your part?  Often times what we fear is the unknown.  Do we lay it all on the line and hope it doesn’t turn out bad?  Or do we just go for it praying for the best?  Or do we play it safe and just avoid it altogether?

What are some risky things in the Christian life for you?  Is it telling others about Jesus?  Are you afraid you are going to fail because you don’t know enough scripture or just the right words to say?  Are you afraid to commit to a ministry because you feel inadequate?  Are you afraid to play in the big league because others know more than you?  You know, God doesn’t call the qualified and the experienced.  He calls the willing.  When we step out in faith and do things for Him He will bless it and He will be with us through it. 

God tells us to have faith in Him.  He will not give us more than we can handle.  “I can do all things through Him who give me strength.”  Philippians 4:13  The power we receive in union with Christ is sufficient to do His will and to face the challenges that arise from our commitment to doing it.  So don’t be timid, God is your strength.  Rely on Him and have faith.  And get into the game!