Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer may seem obvious. Consider the facts.

Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer seems obvious – No!

But hear me out.

I have a story that can help us answer that question — a question we each need to ponder.

Just to warn you a little, this is not a chicken nugget post. It’s more like filet. By that, I mean this question is meaty.

Worst Decision Ever

Many years ago I made the worst decision of my life.

I sat on a vinyl-covered barstool and walked away from God.

We’d come to an impasse.

The life I wanted didn’t match the life He seemed to want for me. So I told Him the time had come for us to part ways . . . at least for now.

I hadn’t stopped loving God. But He wanted me to surrender to Him, and I wanted Him to surrender to me.

Since we both refused to give in, I made the worst decision of my life.

Two years and painful scars later, I found my way back to God.

With relief and joy, I fell into His welcoming arms and surrendered to His will.

At least I thought I’d surrendered.

Here We Go Again

While my renewed relationship with God exhilarated me, my repeated failure to walk free from sin frustrated me.

Want what God wants. Want what I want.

Gain victory. Fall on my face.

Stand against sin. Run after sin.

Before long, I was digging my heels in with God. Again.

“You always get Your way,” I cried. “Please, this time, just do what I’m asking!”

The Pangs of Death

Ever patient, God spoke through His Word into my aching heart and clouded mind.

“Your way leads to destruction. Your path is paved with lies. Believe Me when I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

I’d been feeling the pangs of death, sure enough, but not the kind God meant.

I was killing my fellowship with God. I was fighting a battle I knew I’d ultimately regret but couldn’t seem to stop fighting.

As they say, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”

They are so right sometimes.

Except it was like I had two hearts.

Two Hearts – One Battle

One heart wanted what God wanted as it overflowed with love for Him. The other heart wanted what my sin wanted, as it overflowed with desire for it.

I begged for relief. “Change me, God! Change my heart!”

Silence.

I understood why suicide seems appealing. Relief from pain and struggle in an instant.

God knew I didn’t need relief, though. I needed power. Resurrection power to follow the heart that desired God more than sin.

The funny thing about resurrection, though, is it only comes after death.

Finally, on a warm spring day, I sat on the soft grass in the shade of my Vitex tree and died.

“You win, God,” I said. “I can’t fight anymore. I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want You. I don’t care about anything else. Just give me You. I’ll do whatever You want, no matter what it costs me, even if You never bless me again. I don’t care. Just give me You.”

In utter weakness, I died that day. Yet, I rose up and walked into my house stronger and freer than I’d ever been.

God had won the battle, and I gained the victory.

The Verdict

It’s time for a verdict on whether sin can be good.

But first, let’s review the facts of my story.

Facts:

My love for God – as strong as it felt – didn’t draw me back to Him. The pain of my sin did.

My desire to please God didn’t open my eyes to the reality of how good He is or how perfect His law is. My sin did.

It was the devastating “rewards” of my sin that shook me awake to the truth that the path I was walking led only to destruction.

Sin’s agony sent me fleeing to Truth. Running back to God.

Without sin’s wretched grip, I may never have become desperate for relief. I may never have died that day and fully surrendered to God.

Instead, at the very best, I might have lived the rest of my life in exasperation, feeling doomed to a rollercoaster existence of failure, victory, failure, victory.

In view of the facts, I ask again: Can sin ever be good?

Verdict:

No!

No, it can’t.

Sin can never be good. It is unadulterated evil bent on destruction.

But God is good.

God is so good and powerful that He can and does use everything, including our most hideous sin, for His perfect purposes.

He used my wretched sin to draw me to Himself and teach me the truth we all must learn:

Jesus paid the full price (penalty) for our sin on the cross, BUT sin isn’t gone. It lives on inside us, and we are powerless to defeat it – by ourselves. But thanks be to God for His resurrection power over sin through His Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian.

Sin is Never Good. But God Is.

If you’re struggling with sin and feel powerless to defeat it, you need to know that only God can, and He will. Abide in Christ.

Trust Him to be your strength and walk in that trust.

If you’ve already reached an impasse with God and walked away, I pray you’ll return. God is worth more than anything sin or this world has to offer.

Sin’s “rewards” lie perched on a mountain of crumbling lies.

Because sin can never be good.

But God always is.

Can sin ever be good? Consider the facts #Biblestudy #God Click To Tweet




Is That Your Final Answer?

Is That Your Final Answer? Just wondering with Billy Graham, Regis Philbin, & Jean Wilund via www.InspireAFire.com Billy Graham got me wondering.

I read Billy’s final My Answer column, and he got me wondering.

What if God set Regis Philbin of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” fame (remember that show?) outside heaven’s doors with one final question and four multiple choice answers?

What would your final answer be? 

I talk about both over at www.InspireAFire.com today.

Check it out by clicking on the photo or the link.

Thanks!




A Total Eclipse of Awe-Inspiring Faith & How to Find It

Total Eclipse of Awe-Inspiring Faith -- The One-Two Punch via www.JeanWilund.com

Ooh, Wow! Don’t Look at the Sun!

I think I said, “Ooh, wow!” and “Don’t look at the sun!” in my sleep last night.

If you watched the total solar eclipse, you know what I mean.

Ooh! Wow!

Especially if you watched it with small children.

Don’t look at the sun!

For about 2 1/2 overwhelming minutes, the moon utterly eclipsed our sun, a blazing ball of burning gas 400 times bigger than it.

That describes the faith I want. The faith I need all the time. A Total Eclipse of Faith.


The Awe of Eclipse

Viewing any solar eclipse is incredible, partial or total.

The moon blocking 90% of the sun is quite a sight. 

But 100%? That’s epic. Magical. Miraculous.

The birds and bees left my flower garden with the light and went to bed. Our street and porch lights came to life. The temperature dropped to an eery, comfortable coolness of evening.

All for 2 1/2 minutes.

Then the moon shifted over a hair.

The sun lit up the sky again. The birds and bees returned along with the blistering heat.

If you notice in the picture above, I’m wearing socks — bright white socks. But not for an awkward fashion statement or to keep my feet warm, but to keep them from burning on the scorching stone walkway.

After the total eclipse of the sun, all was as before — except for us. We stood in awe and wonder. Overwhelmed by the greatness of the experience.  

No photos or words do it justice. You have to experience it. And once you do, you’re Googling where the next one will be.


A Total Eclipse of the Heart

The next day I received a letter from a lady who’s struggling to fully surrender to God and hoped I had words to help. I related with her heart, eclipsed by doubts and fears.

As I sat to write her, I suddenly saw the solar eclipse as a great illustration for surrender to God.

Most of the world lives outside the path of totality for a solar eclipse. They see only a partial eclipse and long to experience a Total Eclipse.

Likewise, most Christians live in partial surrender to God, but long for a total eclipse of faith — faith that eclipses all their fears, doubts, and rebellion.


Do You Live in a Full or Partial Eclipse? 

I would imagine that many Christians live in at least 50% surrender to God.

We’ve trusted Him for salvation and thank Him for eternal life. But for this present life, our faith is weak. It doesn’t make much difference in our daily lives.

We attend church. Maybe not every week, but more than some. We own a nice leather Bible, and if you’ll give us a minute, we can find it. 

We do Christian stuff, but knowing Christ doesn’t seem to have transformed us because we worry just as much as our neighbor who doesn’t see a need for Christ in their life.

Christ is our Savior, but not much more than that.

We hope our faith will deepen and move to greater surrender. Maybe 75% surrender? But we don’t know how to get it to 100%.

We struggle.

Partial faith is exhausting. If we don’t get some answers, we may move back to 50%, and eventually down to negligible faith. Or none.


Oh, for faith to trust You more, Lord

How can we move our faith to where it eclipses all our fears, doubts, and rebellion?

I can’t speak for everyone, but two factors (a one-two punch) have allowed me to experience many amazing moments of a total eclipse of faith.

And the time between eclipses has shortened as I’ve learned to give my fears, doubts, and rebellion the one-two punch: Know and Obey God.


1. Know God

Any fears, doubts, or rebellion we hold are unfounded. God is always able to care for His children, and He does all things well. All things.

Since we can trust God enough to cause our fears, doubts, and rebellion to shrink in the face of who He is, why don’t we?

We’ll never trust anyone more than we know him.

We must come to know God — not just about Him.

Study the Bible, the Word of God. Look on each page to find Jesus and discover God’s character. Don’t study to know how to be a better Christian. Study to know God.

Learn His character. Treasure it in your heart where it will transform your faith in Him.

Check out my ever-growing list of posts on God’s Character.

The more we know God, the more our heart will believe we can trust Him, which leads us to the knock-out punch: Obedience.


2. Obey God

The more we know God, the more we’ll trust Him.

The more we trust Him, the more we’ll obey Him.

The more we obey Him, the more we’ll experience Him.

The more we experience Him, the more we’ll love Him,

The more we love Him, the more we’ll want to know Him more.

God reveals more light after we obey Him with the light He’s already given us.

Once we obey, we learn by experience that God is indeed everything He said He is. And we fall in love and grow in faith.

But it’s a process, like a total solar eclipse.


Bit by Bit, A Total Eclipse of Faith

Total Eclipse of Faith -- The One-Two Punch via www.JeanWilund.comBit by bit, as we obey, our faith will overshadow our fears, doubts, and rebellion until we enjoy a total eclipse of faith.

Then we’ll stand in awe and wonder at our Lord, the One who, by His kind grace, gives us faith. (Romans 12:3, Ephesians 2:8, I Timothy 1:13-14, Romans 10:17)

Pray and ask the Lord to give you a total eclipse of faith. Then obey Him in whatever He shows you to do, trusting Him to do in your heart what needs to be done. 

I wish I could say my faith is always at 100%, but each time I enjoy a total eclipse of faith, it inspires me to trust God more the next time. 

And unlike in a total solar eclipse, in a Total Eclipse of Faith, I can say, “Ooh, Wow! Look at the Son!”


Have you enjoyed a Total  Eclipse of Faith? Share your experience. We’d love to hear it.

If this post encouraged you, I hope you’ll share it. There are handy sharing buttons below:

Imagine if ur #faith could #eclipse your fears, doubts, and rebellion. It can with this 1-2 punch. Click To Tweet




Ridiculous Forgiveness — A Story You Won’t Believe (And a Song to Testify)

Ridiculous Forgiveness -- Watch a Story You Won't Believe & listen to "Testify" by Needtobreathe (via www.JeanWilund.com

What if the Unforgivable Happened to You?


If a crooked cop — who falsely arrested you and landed you in prison for four years — got hired to work side-by-side with you, what would you do? 

If you’re Jameel McGee, you’d hang out with him and be his friend even though you lost everything when he sent you to prison.

The Story of Ridiculous Forgiveness


One morning in 2005, Police Officer Andrew Collins set a goal for himself. By the end of the day, he’d get another drug arrest no matter what it took. Even if he had to destroy a life to do it. And he did.

Collins arrested Jameel McGee on false charges of drug dealing, sending McGee to prison.

McGee lost everything. He almost lost his life as he considered suicide. He determined to find Collins and take his revenge when he got out. But before he could, the truth caught up to Collins.

The courts sent the crooked cop to prison and exonerated and released McGee. 

Collins served 18 months for his crimes. McGee served four years.

Back in Benton Harbor, Michigan, McGee and Collins faced each other for the first time in many painful years. 

McGee’s Moment Finally Came


McGee could finally exact his revenge on the crooked cop who stole four years of his life. He took full advantage of that moment and shocked the world.

He forgave Andrew Collins. He forgave the unforgivable.

What Collins did for evil, God used for good. It was while they were in prison that they both found faith in Christ, and McGee found the power to forgive.

Hear the story in their own words and then find out what kind of response they’ve received:

 

They Don’t Get It


I was overwhelmed by their story.

Others were outraged, which I discovered after reading the comments on the youtube video.

Some praised both men. Collins, for confessing and repenting. Andrew, for taking the hardest step — forgiving him. 

Others commenters felt nothing but hate and anger — violent anger.

Here’s a more G-rated comment: 

You can’t put someone in prison and EVER be free of what you did to them. I don’t care if today he says “I’m sorry”. Tough.

Ridiculous Forgiveness -- Watch a Story You Won't Believe & listen to "Testify" by Needtobreathe (via www.JeanWilund.comAnother person wrote, “They would of been doing a interview from death row because I would of killed his [bleep].”

Most comments were so toxic, I can’t print them.

My heart breaks for these people even more than for McGee, because McGee gets it, but they don’t.

Forgiveness frees the one who forgives even more than the one being forgiven.

McGee didn’t forget he spent four years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He simply chose complete freedom.

I said “simply” not “simple.” Forgiveness can be extremely hard, but not impossible. With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26.

It wasn’t enough for McGee to be free of the jail cell. He chose to free his heart of the destructive forces of unforgiveness and hate as well.

He set his heart free to embrace life and experience overwhelming peace every day.

Unforgiveness and hate rot the heart to the bone.


Collins stole four years of McGee’s life. Hate would steal more. It would steal his whole life, infect every relationship he had, and rob him of a life of joy and peace.

Hate and revenge don’t bring happiness or contentment. They rot the heart to the bone leaving a shell of discontentment and loneliness.  

McGee isn’t just content. He’s happy.

If he’d followed the advice of those who want Collins destroyed, McGee would live every day filled with anger and rage. When has that ever made anyone happy?

If more people believed like Jameel McGee, our country would be known for its love and unity, not for divisiveness and hate. 

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

Unforgivable and Yet Forgiven


What Collins did is unforgivable, and yet, because of Christ, he’s forgiven.

And because of Christ, McGee can forgive.

He now lives a full, happy life and enjoys a life-changing friendship that the world would do well to emulate, not hate.

Are Anger and Unforgiveness Holding Onto You?


Does the mere mention of a particular name bring up feelings of bitterness?

Do anger and unforgiveness have a hold on you?

No matter what anyone has done to you, heinous as it may be, the worst tragedy is letting unforgiveness steal your chance to live free of bitter hatred.

Nothing is worth harboring bitterness and anger. Let them go. Christ paid for it all on the cross. He paid for your offender’s sins and yours.

Each of us will answer to God one day for the things we’ve done.

Those who hurt us will answer for their crimes. And we will answer for our crimes — including the crime against God of refusing to forgive as He’s commanded. (Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 6:14, Matthew 18:33)

Embrace the joy, peace, contentment, and freedom that forgiveness brings.

As Steve Hartman said in the video, “If these two guys can set aside their bitter grounds, what’s our excuse?

Testify


I want to end this post with a song that exudes the freedom Jameel and Andrew enjoy: Testify by NeedtoBreathe.

Jameel’s and Andrew’s lives testify to the power of Christ to wash away anger, despair, and guilt.

They came to the fountain of Christ and are satisfied.

Let’s get lost inside the fountain of Living Water.

Go ahead, sing with all your might. I am.

Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. 

Forgive as Christ forgave you.

Ridiculous Forgiveness - A Story You Won't Believe #Testify #MondayMusic #Christ Click To Tweet




When Pain Is Like a Flower, Truth Makes Hope Bloom

When Pain is Like a Flower, Truth Makes Hope Bloom by Mekeishakay via www.JeanWilund.comEver met someone you’d like to have follow you around and talk for you?

All you’d have to say was, “Yeah. What she said!”

Blogger–and my new friend–Mekeisha has a way of explaining truth that leaves me staring at her dumbly.

When people stare at me like that, they’re trying to figure out what I’m babbling about.

People stare at Mekeisha because they’re mesmerized.

I want to grow up to be just like her.

I asked Mekeisha if I could rip a post off her blog and share it with you. She said, Sure – go for it!

I chose When Pain is Like a Flower because when she read it to my roommate Bethany and I at a recent speakers conference (Christian Communicators Conference–shameless plug), Bethany and I just stared, stunned.

I wish you could’ve been there. It would’ve been crowded in our hotel room, but you would’ve loved listening to her.

After you read Mekeisha’s post, go onto her blog (the link is at the bottom of this post) and leave her a comment, requesting she start streaming live readings.

Thanks! and Enjoy . . . 

When pain is like a flower

(by Mekeisha as appeared on her blog, Mekeishakay)

This afternoon, J (my 8 yo) slipped into my room for a visit. I was settled on my bed checking e-mails and reading articles, when she began twisting wool into a ring, and the words began to flow. I knew it was going to be more than a casual conversation when she opened with

Mom, do you know what really makes me sad? 

As she began to share, I was surprised to realize that my fun loving, rambunctious little girl had such deep thoughts brewing below the surface.

I’m happy on the outside, but I’m not happy on the inside. I feel mean on the inside. And angry. And hurt a lot… as she braided and re-braided the string in her hands, she looked away with the saddest face and said It can never change…

Oh, Babe, that makes my heart sad. God doesn’t want you to feel that way!

As I sat across from her, an illustration began to form in my mind:

Imagine your baby sister with a backpack full of rocks, so full she couldn’t even walk- she could only crawl, because it was too heavy to walk with. Then someone added even more rocks until she finally rolled over from the weight. She would be lying on a lumpy backpack full of heavy rocks!! Now wouldn’t that be terrible!? What would you do?

With tears in her eyes, she ardently proclaimed, I would walk over, scoop her up in my arms, kiss her and tell her that she was going to be okay, and then I would put her rocks in MY backpack, and I would walk over to the person who did it, and I would tell them

You may not touch her any more. You can only Touch Me.

I started crying as I put my arms on her shoulders and asked, “Now J, if you would do that for your sister, don’t you think God would do that for you? That’s exactly what Jesus did when He went to the cross! He saw how heavy our backpacks were, and He took our rocks of sin, shame, and pain and He told the Devil: You can only touch me.”

You can only touch me – so they beat Him with a whip.

You can only touch me –  and they spit in His face.

You can only touch me – and they placed a crown of thorns on His head.

You can only touch me – and they plucked his beard from his face.

You can only touch me and He was nailed to a cross.

You can only touch me and He went to Hell for us.

“Do you believe Jesus did that for you?”

She looked away and whispered… No.

How will I get through to her?

“Now… remember when you said that you could never change the way you feel inside? I have a question: What if R, your sister (who is only four) had a backpack full of rocks and you walked over to help her and she said ‘NO! I like my rocks! I want to keep my rocks! You can’t have my rocks!’

“What if she couldn’t even walk because the rocks were so heavy? What would you do then?”

She thought a moment, smiled wide and replied, “I would tell her, I know something that you like better than rocks, and I would take her rocks and give her a humongous Lollipop!”

“J, God wants to trade with you too! God wants you to give him the heavy stuff in your backpack so He can fill it up with something better… like love, joy, peace, patience- all these things are fruit of His Spirit working in you!

“Well, don’t you want to get rid of those rocks in your backpack?”

Mom, do you know how many rocks are in my backpack?

No, how many?

One. Just one big, really heavy rock.

What makes it so heavy?

Meanness, grumpiness, anger … the opposite of gentleness, hurt, and… tons of pain.

Why so much pain?

Because sometimes I feel lonely, or sad, and then I feel pain. My pain is like a flower that grows up from the rocks, and it doesn’t die even when it gets too much water, or too much sun… 


Do you think God can take your pain, that He can make it go away?

Yes, but sometimes it’s like someone sneaks in and plants another one.

Well, if that happens, we know what it looks like, right? It’s like a weed growing in your garden, and we know how to get rid of it! God can take care of that one too!

Let’s imagine there’s a table in front of us and you are unloading your backpack onto the table. You know, whenever we see something in our heart that shouldn’t be there, and we say it out loud, that’s called confessing, or admitting something is wrong. When we do that, God loves to forgive us! And it’s okay if you feel angry sometimes… I do too. The Bible says Be Angry–and sin not. It’s what we do with our big feelings that can get us into trouble!

It’s also okay to ask for help, because sometimes we can’t make ourselves do what we should. That’s why God gave us His Spirit. He said He would send us His Spirit so that we would have the power to do what is right. You’re not supposed to try harder to stop doing bad things, we’re supposed to ask God and let Him help more.

As she began to name the things that were in her heart–the anger, the hurt, the mean feelings towards others–her countenance completely shifted from being sad and heavy to being joyful and light.

When we finally emerged from the bedroom to share a snack with the rest of the family, she smiled and proclaimed, “I emptied my backpack!”


You know, I think explaining what we believe in simple words – for little ears – helps us to understand things better. I love the way she grappled with words to share what was on her heart.

I think I understand, though. Sometimes pain does seem to thrive, even when I try to kill it with forgiveness, or when I hope it will scorch under the heat of neglect, pretending I’m fine when I’m really Not… but I think God wants us to be honest enough to admit I hurt… and I need to be healed.

I forgave… but I still feel raw.

I want to do what is right, but I’m sad at the times I’ve failed…

Maybe confession is like opening a door to God. If so, we swung it wide open today.


Meet My Friend Mekeisha

Hailing from the frozen North of Alaska,
I am a wife, mother of four, poet, musician, artist and Grandmother wanna-be.

I read voraciously and love to teach others
about how amazing God is.

He’s a genius, you know.

Love God. Love people.

That’s as simple and complicated as it gets,
my friends.

I write a blog, Mekeishakay, that is my attempt to
share the beauty of our broken places, and the things I am learning in this journey.

Stop by and visit me: Visit Mekeishakay and find beauty, truth, and hope.

When Pain is like a Flower, #Truth makes #Hope Bloom #ChristCarriedYourPain @MekeishaS Click To Tweet