Practical Evil: Part Five – Practical Victory

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Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

This is a series that definitely has a good ending.  But getting access to that ending is not as easy as you might think.  This is the part of the series where I triumphantly announce that Christ defeated sin and evil when he died on the cross and rose three days later.  And that’s true.  Yay!

So then why do I still have this temptation all around me?  This quiet voice telling me I’m a failure?  This sin that I cannot extract from my life?  Why can’t it be as simple as the 40 days Christ spent in the desert when he just said over and over, “Nah.  I’m good.  But thanks for your super evil temptation.”  Well God wired us up, and it’s quite the complex wiring scheme.  So, yes, you can walk away from sin and evil, but let’s get this out of the clouds and theory and into some concrete stuff.

Telling someone to just “walk away from their sin” is a little like telling someone with pneumonia to just not cough so much.  Great idea!  How do I pull that off exactly?

  1. Read the Bible.  When I first did this I expected it to be some type of magic, I think.  “I am reading the Bible every day and hence I will have a hedge of protection around me such that I will not be tempted to sin.”  Didn’t matter which section.  Just read it.  It’s magic.  Well the Bible is a book.  Paper with words on it.  It’s not magic.  But when the whole “mystical removal of sin” thing didn’t work in my life I actually started paying attention to what was written in the darn thing.  OH!!  YOU MEAN THERE’S PRACTICAL INFORMATION IN THERE??  WHO KNEW?!?  Yeah, like don’t borrow money.  Watch how you dress.  Stay away from fakers who call themselves pious Christians.  Stuff like that.  It turns out there is a ton of practical advice in this book on how to start walking away from win.
  2. Read the Bible.  Yeah, it’s the same thing twice.  But it’s my blog.  So there.  In addition to making the shocking discovery that there is actual useful every day information in the Bible, there is also a ton of encouragement.  You can read about Paul struggling with sin, and Christ talking about sin and how we’re supposed to treat each other.  It is encouraging to me to read that even in the Bible (especially the Old Testament) that God was able to use people as messed up as me.  And I’m going out on a limb here: there are some dudes in the Bible way more out of whack than I am that God used just fine.  There’s hope for me!  (No really… there’s hope for us.  That was supposed to be funny but it’s also supertrue.  I just made up the word “supertrue” so now there’s no stopping me…)
  3. Seek out encouragement.  I have this really messed up thing in my head that I’m supposed to be positive all the time and operate at a high level and be amazing but I’m never supposed to require encouragement in order to get there.  It’s just supposed to be in me because I’m like super special and stuff.  What a bunch of crap.  Yes, dummy, you need some encouragement and you need it every day!  The little encouraging memes on Facebook?  Read them!  Allow people to compliment you without deflecting it.  Take a little time every day to read something that pumps you up.  Listen to encouraging music.  Are you supposed to be able to be amazing without all these things?  Maybe.  But I haven’t figured that out.  So I need them.  And the good news is that they are everywhere.
  4. Stop hanging out with dopes who don’t believe in you.  We all see people from time to time that we like, but that don’t exactly knock it out of the park in the positive thinking category.  Go see them from time to time.  Grab a beer and chill out every once in a while.  That won’t kill you.  But if you are spending large chunks of time with people who cut you down and fail to encourage you then go find new people to spend a lot of time with.  If the dope is your boyfriend, then dump his sorry butt.  I see stuff on Facebook all the time, “Can’t believe how my BF treats me.”  Okay.  Ummm… time for a new one.  He’s a jerk.  The only thing you can change about him is whether he hangs out with you.  If it’s your spouse, then you need to go on an all-out year-long assault of positive encouragement expecting nothing in return so you can lead them to appreciate a life as something other than a Debbie Downer 24-7.
  5. Get a mentor.  I don’t have one.  But I hear it’s awesome.  Thoughts?  I do hear a lot of podcasts talking about getting a mentor and the initial “can you be my mentor” exchange strikes me as super creepy.  I guess you could say I do have a few mentors but we don’t really call it a mentoring relationship.  My friend Jim is my “don’t be a wuss and just do it” mentor.  My brother is my “don’t be such a spaz and chill from time to time” mentor.  My boss is my “don’t suck at being a lawyer” mentor.  And they are good people.  Inspiring.  The whole bit.  But we don’t have mentor meetings and such.  Technically at work I am an official mentor to one of our associates.  You need to pray for him.
  6. Pray.  Yeah yeah yeah.  Pray.  I know!  But man.  I’m busy, and I usually fall asleep while praying.  Remember that prayer is one of the things that evil will interfere with most.  You start talking to God on a regular basis and evil will not like it.  So don’t expect it to be a walk in the park.  You make appointments all the time.  So set an appointment with God every day.  You wouldn’t blow off an appointment with your doctor.  So don’t blow off an appointment with your Creator either, you weirdo.  I get up about an hour earlier than I need to so that I can spend a little time in prayer and write to all of you fine people every day.  And that hour ended three minutes ago.  Time to wrap this up.

Listen, I am not at all trying to short change the extent to which Christ dying on the cross for us can rock your world and turn it upside down.  That’s true.  But the sad news is that in our society today we’ve placed a complex and intimidating maze between ourselves and that truth.  And there are practical things we can do to get through that maze.  Some people have a radical life shift where they get dropped into this truth in a split second.  Cool!  Not me.  I’m working through the maze and I do all of this stuff to help me.  Most days it propels me forward through the maze.  Yesterday, not so much.  But I drop right back into it and start again the next day surrounding myself with the right people, listening to the right music, reading the right things.  Not one of these gives me salvation.  Only Christ does that.  But if they can be a part of bringing me closer to Christ, then I need to be doing them.

Now… go put on K-Love, read something encouraging, and spend the rest of the day being awesome!

 

We were built to be heroes.  It’s about time we started acting like heroes.

 

 

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