Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying #9

March 3, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

You know sometimes there is a huge gap between the production of sequels.  It seems that for a while they are popping out with wreckless abandon every 12-18 months and then they stop.  Why is that?  One reason is that the last one was so terrible that you want people to get the bad taste out of their mouth (Rocky V).  Sometimes it’s because the actor gets too big for his britches (arrogant for those of you who live outside the southern U.S.) and thinks he has become “too big” for the role then the actor needs to cash a check for some reason and after waiting on the “perfect script” they make one and lay a giant rotten egg (Indiana Jones).

Sometimes the author just gets really busy and distracted.

Set up: You or someone you know is going through some tough times.  It seems to be overwhelming.

Response: Well, you know, the Bible says that God won’t give you more than you can handle.

Sometimes people will go even further than that.  People begin to take pride in the trials that they are going through.  “God must think a lot of me, otherwise he wouldn’t put all of this on me.  He thinks I can handle a lot.”

“Now wait a minute, Cloften.  I have bared with this series for most of my adult life, or a month I can’t remember which.  I haven’t always agreed with you, but this is too far.  I know that is in the Bible.”

Ok, here is your verse:

I Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.

What does this passage say?  First of all, it is talking about temptation.  If you are tempted to sin, you will not be tempted in such a way that you will only be left with the option of sin.    If it speaks to anything, it speaks against a false view of “lesser of two evils” that says that we are put into situations where all we can do is sin.  There is no temptation to sin that is so great that you must choose sin.

Secondly, where does the way out come from?  The way out comes from God.  If the only ways you can overcome sin came from you, the verse wouldn’t make sense. I am tempted to sin beyond what I can handle all the time, noted by the fact of my persistent sin problem.  However, God always provides a way out.  Again, God always provides a way out.  Some face temptation in their lives and read this verse and believe that they can have confidence in themselves alone to overcome.  If that is true of you, then 1, you misunderstand your own personal history with overcoming sin and B, you haven’t read the rest of the verse.  We can have confidence in God, not us.

Even if you want to extend this passage beyond the temptation to sin (which is what Paul is talking about) and include the overwheming circumstances of life, it is only in God that we can find the way out.  Never have I met someone who took on a heavy burden and walked through it, that came out on the other side and said, “Wow I didn’t know that I could do that.”  They will tell a story about how God met them in their pain and how God brought others into their lives.

Overcoming the temptations and trials in your life is not about your perceived capacity to stand up against “what you can handle.”  It is about God filling, strengthening and leading humble broken people well beyond what they could handle on their own without God.

A Troubling Declaration

March 2, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

So it turns out that I don’t have enough time in a weekend to do my paying job (pastor), playing the role of mom and to do my non-paying job (blog-writer).  For some pre-thought on my role as “mom” for the weekend, check this out. 

We had a blast this weekend.  We had a sleepover upstairs.  The three of us piled up matresses, blankets, beanbags, etc.  We watched movies and fell asleep.  (I woke up at 3:30 and decided that I wasn’t really sleeping and went downstairs.)  We also played the “Gimme That Fish” McDonalds commercial on Youtube no fewer than 25 times over the weekend.  We played with friends, won two basketball games, had a great weekend of church services.  It was great.

However, there was one moment that still sticks out it my head that I just can’t shake.  Maylee and I were taking Lauren to soccer practice and as we were pulling in she asked if we were going to stay and watch.  She said in such a way that made it pretty clear that she didn’t want us to stay.  So I’m trying to get out of her why she doesn’t want us to stay.  She is embarassed because she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings.

Finally, she says this, “If I make a bad kick, I don’t want you to see it.”  I am going to confess to you that I was crushed.  (If you know her, don’t bring this up to her).  She didn’t want me to see her mess up.  She is hard on herself, very hard on herself.  I would like to think that I am an encouraging dad.  I would like to think that I am “better than most.”  I think that she is great and a great soccer player.  I try to tell her that all of the time.

However, I also correct her when she does something wrong, especially if it comes from a lack of focus or hustle.  Apparently those corrections add up in her mind, and she would rather avoid them, at least during practice.

So what does this mean?  If anything, Dads, you cannot overestimate the power of your words when you talk to your daughters (I assume the same applies for sons.  I wouldn’t know first-hand).  Everything that you say matters and she takes it in.  Everything.  Her view of herself is largely determined by your view of her.  I am now reevaluating everything I say.  I want to be incredibly encouraging.  Even when I feel I need to correct her behavior, I am thinking, “What does my facial expression look like?  What is my tone?  What encouraging comment can I tag this with?”

Maybe I am about to over-correct and be “too easy” on her.  Guess what?  I don’t care.  I could live the next 50 years of my life and I would be just fine without hearing her say that with that look on her face again.  This was a great reminder for me of something Robert Lewis says that I pass on to you, “Dad is destiny.”  What we say, they become.

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