Shame: Us, God & Psalm 25

In the beginning, God made everything unashamedly good,  “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Gen 2:25). Fast forward one chapter…the fruit, a serpent, temptation…being like God?, a bite…another bite, fear & shame. It went like this,

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” – Gen 3:6-10

Their reaction to their actions was a classic shame response – they tried to cover it/themselves up (with fig leaves and actual hiding) because they were afraid. Shame has a way of making us afraid to face reality. Sometimes shame comes from something we have done. Other times we feel shame because of something someone has done to us.

Recently, I have had several conversations with people who are facing tremendous levels of shame and fear. They are going through this same process we see in Genesis 3 – poor decisions were made and ever since they have experienced shame, fear and have tried to cover it up. But you can only cover it up for so long before you realize that freedom only comes in answering God’s question, “Where are you?” When God asks that, he really needs to hear our honest answer. Maybe our answer is that we are in a really dark place because of our decisions. Or maybe our answer is that we are in a mess because of what others have done to us and we just cannot let it go. If we are going to get past the shame we have to start with telling God where we are, right here and now. If we aren’t honest about that and express it to Him, it can never be fully dealt with and healing will come slow, if ever.

One of the places I have turned in helping people deal with shame is Psalm 25. I am going to let this psalm speak for itself…just notice how the end of shame comes from God and our trusting in His guidance.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
    in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.

Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, O Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12 Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord?
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
13 He will spend his days in prosperity,
and his descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.
18 Look upon my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
19 See how my enemies have increased
and how fiercely they hate me!
20 Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope is in you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!

If you are dealing with shame, hand it over to God…follow His lead and let him redeem whatever it is that has happened to you or that you have done in order to get beyond what you are going through. When God deals with it, that is a profound act of grace.

John Piper on What One Must Believe to Be Saved

Have a look at this video of John Piper telling what he believes one must believe to be saved. To read a transcript click here.

He includes the following:

  • Believe and confess his Lordship and his resurrection
  • Recognition that we sin
  • That God exists and that he created a world where sin is a possibility
  • That God has expectations for mankind – to trust, love and live for him
  • That we fail in those three things
  • God is holy and we are not
  • God is judge
  • Deity of Jesus
  • Jesus lived a perfect life
  • Substitutionary atonement, basically – he died in my place
  • Jesus’ resurrection
  • We receive salvation from Jesus Christ’s work on our behalf

A few things I would like to point out. The first is where is baptism? When the Ethiopian asked what he needed to do to be saved Philip didn’t give this list of core beliefs he must first understand. Undoubtedly he understood many of these things. All of these things? We don’t know. But he knew enough to realize he needed God and that what he needed to do in response was to be baptized. That is biblical but it didn’t make the list. Before you say this is a list of beliefs so no wonder something we do isn’t on there. He did mention the need for faith and for confession. To be fair to Piper, I don’t know what his view is on baptism but I suspect if he had much of a view of it being a part of what God expects of us he would have included it here.

Second, notice at the end he says God causes people to believe by the work of the Holy Spirit. I would say God certainly plays a role in our faith by revealing himself to us through the Word and in some way the Spirit plays a role in our faith. But to say God causes our faith is missing out on our responsibility to believe and have faith…two things he pointed out in his answer to the original question.

Last, his list is very logical and if you really examine the core truths of the Gospel you understand why he logically pulled these points together. At the same time he is leaving out some very plain biblical teaching that doesn’t take any logic to expand upon or to be elaborated upon. Baptism really is important not just because I attend a Church of Christ and have heard that my whole life but because God clearly teaches us that in scripture. So my list would include,

“Part of God’s expected response would include repentance (not included above), belief/faith, confession, and to submit to his will by being baptized for the forgiveness of my sins.”

Wouldn’t it just make sense those things would come ahead of understanding the nature of substitutionary atonement?

Confusing Transparency and Integrity

Transparency is highly valued. People hate hypocrisy. They despise people being phony. They would rather known what someone or something is really all about than something being presented falsely. But there is a difference between transparency and integrity. The two should never be confused. Transparency is seeing something for what it really is. If it is junk, it appears to be junk. If it is valuable that shows up as well. Integrity is impossible without transparency but not the other way around. It is entirely possible to be transparent about your lack of integrity. That is called audacity.

Because transparency is so highly valued some Christians have fallen into the trap of thinking evil can be alright as long as they are being honest with themselves and others about it. This is confessional complacency at its best and it results in transparency being a rationalization for sin rather than a means to integrity. The race away from hypocrisy has led many to integrityless transparency rather than using our shortcomings to help our faith and integrity grow.

It is important that we are people of integrity. One of the first steps toward getting there is transparency, that we are real with ourselves and others about our shortcomings. For integrity to grow from there it is going to take more than a complacent acknowledgment of problems. We have to let that knowledge and experience refine our lives into a more holy existence. That can only be done in partnership with God and a community of faith.

“Falling into Sin” – A Phrase We Need to Drop

I hear it all the time. It sounds so passive. I did it again…I fell into sin. It’s like a “woops” or an “uh oh.” I was walking along just doing the best I could and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back looking up at the sky…I slipped. I fell into sin. It sounds so accidental, so casual. It sounds like we really didn’t have a choice, as if it was something that happened to us rather than something we conceived and acted out in an evil and deathly way.

13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” – James 1:13-15

Let’s work backward through the James passage. Death results from sin which results from OUR evil desire. This is no accidental slip up. It is a choice and because it is a choice we have responsibility for our actions. No one faults anyone for slipping on a banana peel or falling in a hole because no one means to do that. But we have to be honest with ourselves when it comes to sin. We choose it. We plan it. We do it. We reap the consequences. So let’s rid ourselves of that phrase once and for all and own up to our own weaknesses and faults and also realize that God is gracious and good. But as long as we just want to make excuses will just keep making the same mistakes and feel like we were the victim rather than the perpetrator. So let’s drop the falling bit. It is beneath us.

Living By Faith, Not By Exception

“So this guy is walking up to the baptistry…he has repented and made his confession before the congregation and just as he steps in the water he slips hits his head on the floor. He dies right before he is baptized. Is he saved?”

The point normally being made with this type of question is whether or not baptism is really necessary for salvation. First, we aren’t the judge. We leave that to God. Second, we can only answer that question (if we actually want to try to) based on what He has told us in scripture. We could go into a long discussion about the thief on the cross, Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit apart from baptism and all the rest but I am going to save that for another day because that isn’t the point of this post.

Here is the question I want to pose. Does God want us to twist and turn and contrive all possible exceptions that we can come up with in order to replace what He has clearly told us in scripture. Let’s say you take the above example…he had faith, confessed and repented and had a heart to be baptized and was even acting on that desire. Let’s say you concluded that he was saved. Is it really appropriate then to say that God desires the exception to be the rule? Does God really want us to be loophole minded rather than just do the obvious? Why not live by faith and take God at His Word. There is no doubt that baptism is important from a scriptural point of view, why develop and form your doctrine out of the exception that is not even found in scripture but is rather contrived from our own thinking rather than from scripture?

Why is it so hard to look at where Jesus told his disciples what to do to “make disciples” in Matthew 28:19 and conclude that Jesus thought baptism was really important? Why is it so hard to read Paul and the burial illustration of Romans 6 and conclude that clearly (not maybe…clearly) Paul thought baptism was extremely important. Even if you concluded that it wasn’t necessary for salvation wouldn’t someone devoted to God want to do it anyway and teach others its importance? I wonder sometimes if people try to live by exception rather than by faith and just take God at His Word. Imagine if Paul wrote his letters but made sure to footnote any possible logical exception…it would be a madhouse rife with abuse. Instead, he laid out his theology very plainly and it is up to us to believe it and live by it as best we can and let God make up for any of our short comings.

The question I am asking here is not about baptism…it is about the heart and what attitude we have when we approach God and scripture. Do we legalistically look for loopholes or do we do as Paul said in Romans 1:17 “the righteous will live by faith.” If we are living by faith, wouldn’t we in good conscience try to live our lives as closely in line with what we find in scripture as possible? And don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying we are saved by our own good works (See this post for more on that).

Learning from Jesus’ Disciples – Sin and Reconciliation

In Matthew 26 Jesus lays out a series of predictions regarding the failure and desertion of his disciples. He predicts Judas will betray him (26:21), that the disciples will desert him (26:31) and that Peter in particular will disown him three times (26:34). In the same chapter they go on from there to the garden of Gethsemane where his inner circle can’t see fit to stay up and lend their support to Jesus (26:36ff). Starting in verse 47 everything begins to happen just as Jesus said it would. Judas betrays, disciples flee and a few dozen verses later Peter disowns him.

What is remarkable to me about all of this is that they all fell short. Not one of them did what they said they would do. They all shirked their responsibilities and showed the extent of their loyalty (or lack there of) when the rubber met the road. We can learn a lot about how what we do with sin and falling short when we look at what happened next. Judas didn’t seek reconciliation. He took his life instead. The eleven were all able to return to Jesus and benefit from his grace and mercy because they had a desire to be close to Jesus.

We all sin. We all do some things we shouldn’t. Maybe we aren’t kissing Jesus in a garden to hand him over to angry soldiers. But maybe in our own subtle ways we push him to the fringes of our life. Maybe we don’t sit by a fire and flat out say we don’t know him but maybe our lives and words don’t really say that we do know him either. What is so hopeful to me in these verses is that those who want to be reconciled can find it. Those who do not seek it out are left to work it out on their own (and fail).

Maybe you have struggled with a particular sin for a long period of time and wonder if God could find it in him to forgive you even one more time. The answer we find in Matthew 26-28 shows us that those who desire to be close to Jesus own up to their mistakes, repent of them, and seek to do better. We can’t let our pride get in the way. We can’t get hung up on having to admit we are wrong or say we are sorry. Instead, we have to do as Peter did and run to Jesus. I wonder how easy that was for Peter to do? The last time he saw Jesus he was disowning him…I bet that took some pride swallowing to run to the tomb when he heard he had risen from the dead! What do you let get in the way of finding reconciliation with Jesus Christ?

10 Dangers of Authenticity

There is a great desire today for people to be real. People want to be told like it is…no hypocrisy, no glossing over and certainly no “holier than thou” approaches. What we have seen has been refreshing for the most part – a real desire for authenticity among Christian leaders, teachers, and preachers. This is a good thing for the most part. It is good to realize that we are all sinners. It is good to realize that we don’t try to put ourselves above people who have problems when, in fact, our problems may be worse than those we try to “one up” spiritually speaking. But authenticity can have some drawbacks and pitfalls. Here are ten to consider:

  1. The first is the danger of the illusion of transparency. We let people in on bits and pieces that are convenient to say at the time. We confess certain things, while other things we hold tight to our chest. All the while, we tout our authenticity but we still have our secrets that we wouldn’t dare let someone else in on!
  2. The danger of authenticity for the sake of expediency. This is where authenticity is used as a means to an end. We aren’t authentic to be authentic. We are authentic in order to accomplish an alternative agenda (to appear to be a better speaker, teacher, preacher or just to get someone else to open up about their own lives quicker). Authenticity becomes a tool rather than a quality.
  3. To be cool. Believe it or not, some people preach about their faults in order to sound cool. They want young people to know they can relate and connect. Ironically, authenticity itself can become a facade.
  4. The easy way out – we get in an accountability discussion and instead of really being authentic, we pick one of those “little sins” to confess to the group. People give us praise for being willing to share something like that…but if only they knew what we weren’t telling them! The more compliments we get, the more we might actually believe we are genuinely authentic.
  5. Authenticity to elicit compliments. Here we aren’t so concerned about being real as we are about getting praise from others.
  6. Authenticity for the sake of shock value. You don’t see this one as much although it does exist. This can be used to make the point “see how far I have come” or it can just be an attention grabber. Either way, if the focus is on self rather than God working in you then it becomes pointless.
  7. To think authenticity can happen in a room with between 15 and 1000 people in it. It just can’t. In churches we have to provide more means for people to meet together in smaller groups and away from the church building.
  8. To think authenticity is not important. You know how it goes…you ask someone how they are doing, they answer you honestly, and you wish you never had asked!
  9. Thinking honesty about sin might make a weak brother more likely to stumble. There is a fear among some that if you start getting honest about sin in our lives that it might make more people stumble if they knew we did this or that ourselves. We do have to be honest about our shortcomings and honest about just how devastating the effects are in our relationship with God. We can never make sin seem appealing, acceptable, or beneficial.
  10. To think it is okay to do as long as you are honest about it. This one is a real biggie. You see this all the time…someone does something heinous and their rationale was “at least I was honest about it.” As if that makes it alright! Authenticity does not mean something loses its shame or is no longer destructive. In fact, I believe sin can be even more destructive once we fool ourselves into thinking its not.

What would you add?

All Who Call on the Name of the Lord Will be Saved – Romans 10:13

A couple of verses that have been used in the anti-baptism argument come from Romans 10. The first is found in Romans 10:9 – “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” That seems pretty straight forward and hard to get around…Paul doesn’t mention baptism as something necessary to do to be saved. The next comes a few verses later in 10:13 – “for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Again, another seemingly straight forward verse. Paul seems to be saying here that if you call on the name of the Lord you will be saved. No mention of belief, confession, repentance, or baptism. This would seem to contradict what Paul writes about baptism in other passages and even what Jesus and Peter taught concerning baptism. But if you can ignore that and the context of this passage you have the perfect prooftext to prove baptism is not necessary for salvation.

So what is Paul trying to say? The problem is not with Paul. The problem is with our traditional methods of interpretation and our propensity to prooftext verses that seem to say on the surface what we want them to say rather than actually trying to figure out what Paul meant. In Romans 10, Paul is talking about the unfaithfulness of Israel and God’s desire for them to put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and as the culmination of the Law. In 10:9 he is saying that God desires to see in them the acknowledgment of who Jesus is – Lord – from his people. This is the response Jesus was supposed to elicit in their hearts and bring them to confession/faith. So the first part of the equation is the context, that Paul is saying God desires for them to acknowledge Christ as Lord (confession).

The second part of the equation is what Paul is not trying to do. Paul is not intending to write here what many have believed he is intending to write. Paul is not writing a “Spiritual how to manual” of how to be saved. Yet, when using this verse that is what many have made it – do this and you will be saved. Paul is not listing all things pertaining to what one must do to be saved. Here is merely telling them the response God had hoped to see in Israel when the Messiah came – acknowledgment by faith that he is the Messiah and Son of God. Instead, many rejected Jesus. So we have to read this verse in an effort to do with it what Paul was trying to do with it and not use it to make a point we want it to make. Context is important.

The second verse is in Romans 10:13 – for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Again, on the surface it appears that Paul is saying just cry out to God and that is enough. Again, we have to read it with an eye for how Paul intended for it to be heard. The emphasis is not an exact, scientific or mathematical equation that adds up to equal salvation. In the previous verses his point has been that anyone who puts their faith in Christ, God is willing to bring to salvation, whether Jew or Gentile. Notice these words in 10:11-13 – “anyone”, “Lord of all”, “richly blesses all”, “everyone who calls”. The point Paul is making here is not a specific “how to” about salvation. The point is about “who.” Who will be saved? Paul says anyone can if they will have faith in God.

So these verses go from proof texts to be used to make a point Paul wasn’t making into verses to be heard as Paul intended them to be heard and to make the point Paul was trying to make. Isn’t that interesting…that we might actually want to know what the Bible means rather than just try to make it mean what we think it means!

Speaking Where the Bible Speaks is Harder Than it Sounds Using Romans 10:9-13 as an Example

One of our main interpretive principles in the church of Christ is to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent. I think that is a wonderful concept to try to attain. I respect our heritage and the overarching respect for scripture that our forefathers have brought to the table. We are spoiled with an incredible heritage and a wonderful ideal that has been set before us. But achieving it is often harder than it may seem at first.

In order to speak where the Bible speaks you have to know what the Bible says. That is easy enough when it comes to passages like “Jesus wept.” We get it…Jesus had physical, actual tears that ran down his cheeks. He felt the emotion of sadness and grief over the passing of his friend Lazarus and over the grief of his friends Mary and Martha. You might also say Jesus was weeping over the condition of mankind as he knew that death was not how things were intended to be for mankind in general. You can break this down very easily. It is succinct and we still weep today so we can relate to exactly what is going on here. All in all this would be a pretty easy exegesis. It is hard to disagree with and is something we all can pretty much agree on.

The plea to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent at its core is an appeal to unity. If we would all just read the same Bible in a very simple way we would all come to the same conclusions and thus be unified in our beliefs. Again, this is quite easy when it comes to verses like the one mentioned above. But in other places this plea is very idealistic and nearly impossible to actually practice. In studying Romans over the past few months I have been primarily reading from Cranfield, Witherington and N.T. Wright. There are times they agree with each other, times when two of three agree and times when none of them agree. In my own exegesis of Romans there are times I agree with all of them and other times I agree with none of them. And we are all reading the same text and all trying desperately hard to understand exactly what Paul meant when he wrote it. In principle we should all be able to read the text and come to the same conclusion but in practice it doesn’t happen that way. Why?

We have many different interpretations of the same verse by well meaning and well intentioned people because the Bible has layers (just like ogres, by the way). The Bible has layers of time, culture, language, audience, author, style, overarching themes, context, and many other layers. When one comes to the text with only 35% of the puzzle pieces they aren’t going to be able to make out what the puzzle is a picture of as well as someone who has 85% of the pieces.

Let’s look at another, more complicated example. Romans 10:9-13 reads, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

There have been many different interpretations of this passage. Here are a few options:

  1. You can look at this passage as a spiritual “how to” list in terms of salvation. Here Paul doesn’t mention confession or repentance. He says confess and be saved. This becomes a tool in the box of those who believe baptism is not essential for salvation to hammer their side of the argument home. Yet, this in the plainest and least digging sense is what the text says on the surface. But that interpretation would not fly because it is not consistent with other doctrines that the Bible speaks about in relation to salvation.
  2. You can decide in advance that baptism is essential (based on a number of good passages) and so try to continue the idea of this being a spiritual “how to” list of how to be saved but use the caveat that Paul assumes they would have already known to be baptized based on what he wrote 4 chapters earlier in Romans 6. After all, we know it takes more than confession to be saved and so to keep this verse from throwing a monkey wrench into our theology we start constructing a precariously built scaffolding to hoist these verses into the framework of that which we already believe, rather than letting them speak for themselves. So we figure Paul is talking about how to be saved but he doesn’t give the full picture here…he would expect them to piece it together from a bunch of his other letters (which they wouldn’t have had access to) and some from this letter in order to decipher just what Paul thinks needs to happen to be saved.
  3. The third option allows these verses to speak for themselves without throwing a monkey wrench into our theology. How? By actually looking at the context. In Romans 9-11 Paul is talking about Israel and God’s desire for them to put their faith in Christ. In 10:4 Paul wrote that Christ was the completion of the law and in 10:6-8 he wrote that we don’t have to do spectacular feats to bring about our salvation…God wants Israel to acknowledge Christ as Lord. That is what the Law was pointing to but they didn’t get it (10:1-4). So Paul is not listing a spiritual how to manual for all things leading to salvation. Instead, he is just making the point that God still desires for his people to come to having faith in Christ as Lord. What about 10:13 and the quotation from Joel about just calling on the name of the Lord for salvation? It makes perfect sense in context. Paul’s point here is not how to be saved. His point is that ALL of those who turn to Christ will be saved…”anyone who trusts” (10:11), “richly blesses all who call” (10:12), “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So Paul is not talking about exactly how to…he is saying whether Jew or Greek…it doesn’t matter. God will be faithful to all who turn to Him to be saved. The implication is that God desires for the rest of his people to do so.

If you simply speak where the Bible speaks when it comes to Romans 10, on the surface it seems you have to preach that confession is the only basis for salvation. But when you look at the context, the historical, cultural, and political background of the epistle things start shaping up and you find yourself actually trying to figure out what Paul was trying to emphasize rather than trying to take what he said awkwardly fit what we already believe. I have seen many, many people (including myself) who try hard to speak where the Bible speak actually take the scriptures and twist them out of context to make the Bible speak the way we want it to rather than to hear it for what it actually says. Instead of doing the careful work of exegesis and finding the true consistency that lies beneath the surface we come up with interpretations that are based on assumptions rather than the text and require us jumping through dozens of theological hurdles and hoops. That is dangerous at best. So this is not an easy task and we need to be patient with those who differ with us on those things that are negotiable. Can we speak where the Bible speaks? Yes. But we have to be careful and not arrogantly believe that we have every verse nailed down with precise perfection. We have to be humble in realizing that there are probably areas where we speak when scripture is silent and we are silent where scripture has clearly spoken. We all just have to humbly do our best and trust that God is graceful to deal with our shortcomings.

What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?

While the commercials were a hit 15 years ago the question is no less important today. I am not talking about pizza. I am talking about things in our lives that should have been put to rest a long time ago.

Romans 6:1-14 says,

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

What in your life still needs to be laid to rest that is keeping your relationship with God from growing? What would you write from your life on this tombstone?

(Tombstone image shamelessly borrowed and adapted from The Making of a Leader by Robert Clinton. )