What Sin Are You Hiding?

 —  January 28, 2015 — 2 Comments

umbrella1I realize the title of this post is a bit invasive.

It assumes you’re hiding a particular sin. 

I once worked with someone who thought this way and spoke out often on the subject. He’d say to just about anyone, “I really have a hard time believing that you’re not hiding something sinful.”

Can you imagine what it was like for our leadership team to hear that all the time?

Then again, his candor rallied against the apathy most Christians seem to have toward one another’s secret sins. It almost seems like we have a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in church circles when it comes to the things we struggle with.

Maybe we fear if we hold someone accountable to their secret sins, they’ll hold us accountable to our own.

Again, assuming you have any secret sins.

John MacArthur said, “Those who sin secretly actually intensify their guilt, because they add the sin of hypocrisy to their offense.” Others have added that who you are when no one is looking is who you really are.

That may all be true, but all those statements seem to do is pile more guilt upon an area of your life that you may already feel guilty in.

Again, assuming you have any secret sins.

isawthatHere’s what I’ve observed:

  • It’s easier to live life compartmentalized versus integrated: One of our youth leaders mentioned how a particular carload of teens that came each week had two CDs in their car: one CD was labeled, “Wednesday night” and contained Christian music; the other CD had no label and contained songs riddled with with profanity, sex-talk and more. We could assume this is true of students, but the truth is most get their cues on a duplicitous life from us.
  • Intentional sin is more common than we care to admit: In every prayer circle, we hear people generally ask for support with their “struggles.” Seldom (if ever) do we hear someone say, “I plan on sinning this week, despite what God says about it. Here’s what I’ll be doing and when.” I wouldn’t assume (like my former co-worker did) that everyone is out to live like this, but wouldn’t you agree that it’s probably more the case than we assume it to be?
  • Nothing will collectively change unless someone individually models something more authentic: Present your own life on display as someone who is letting God work in areas that you’re likewise resisting Him. Talk about why between the two choices you’re still erring on the side of God’s best versus your mess. You may need to filter some of what you share to students, but make sure there are some peers who know the whole story so they can hold you accountable.

Again, assuming you have any secret sins.

What have you learned about this area of Christendom that we overlook – sometimes on purpose?

Any thoughts?

youthgroupI actually did this a year ago where I listed some things we should be talking about and discussing in our youth groups (check it out here). And wow, the response was crazy good!! So I wanted to do it again. This time I want to focus on a few topics I believe students are already talking about in other social settings, and really need to know where the church stands on these issues. So here we go:

Homosexuality - Students need to know where God stands on this issue. They need to know where their church stands on the issue. So that they can make a choice on where they stand based on the truth of God’s word. Our culture is definitely letting them know where they stand, while giving them a false view of where God stands. Right now the world is pretty split on the issue concerning it being morally wrong. And right now the media paints those who oppose it as haters and those who are for it right. Students need to know what God says about it and what their response should be.

Sin - It’s not enough to just talk about sin in passing. Students need to understand what it is and how it affected our relationship with God. A lot of times students don’t mind partaking in or excusing sin because they don’t really know a lot about it. All they know is Jesus died for their sins, but they don’t really understand why He had to die. I believe with a better understanding students will begin to mourn the sin they commit and see it for what it really is. If your students don’t understand sin, your teachings are really nothing but motivational talks. When you reference the world they picture people who don’t know Jesus as the enemy. We need to be talking about sin.

Pornography - 93% of boys and 63% of girls are exposed to porn before the age of 18.(source) And they are watching it all; from same-sex porn to child porn. It’s very assessable, and for some students they find it not even looking for it. You need to be talking about it. Here are a few suggested areas to cover.

  1. God’s view.
  2. The lie culture tells us about it.
  3. The spiritual damage it causes.
  4. The relational damage it causes.
  5. The personal damage it causes.
  6. Share some hope and help.

Grace - Here’s a topic I think we all need to be taught and reminded of. We speak about grace the same way we do sin. We talk about it in passing. Students need to know what grace is and why it exist. They need to know grace is not just something that we were given, but grace is something we need to extend to others. And it’s hard to give away something that you don’t fully understand. I believe understanding grace is understanding the cross. Sometimes it’s about getting back to the basics.

Mental illness - Only 20 percent of the children living with mental illness have been identified and receiving the healthcare they need. And over 90 percent of adolescents who commit suicide struggle with a mental disorder. We need to be a safe place to talk about topics like this. The goal is to remove the stigma that keeps students from reaching out for help. We must speak about and become educated on this topic.

Identity - This one may be a no-brainer but it has to make the list. When sin came into the world it didn’t just rob us of our relationship with God, it robbed us of our identity in God. Sin tells us we are our wants and desires. Culture has joined in on sins crusade, and the only cure is God’s word spoken boldly concerning who we are and who we belong to. It’s a huge deal that we speak on this topic.

Empathy Vs Sympathy – I believe this generation needs to know the difference between these two motives when it comes to serving. They both cause us to want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but only one really puts you on the right path as you begin to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Students need to know that the sympathy we feel should move us to empathy. Otherwise our service may do more damage than good. I believe we as believers are called.

Real Love - We take the word love and we apply it to so many things that it looses its true meaning and worth. Students need to understand what this word truly means and how it should be used and applied. Teach about it.

The Church with a capital C – It’s important that our students know that they are not just a part of the local church, but that they are a part of The Church. They need to understand that the Church is bigger than their congregation. The need to know the importance of the Church in the world and who belongs to it, since so many people are claiming to be a part of it. They even need to know the history and the future. Teach about it.

What would you add to this list?

 

Hope it helps,

AC



 

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Navigating being “in the world” and not “of it,” is one of the most complicated mine fields of our life with Jesus. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had it written in black and white in the Bible that we should avoid Snapchat and Grand Theft Auto V while we CAN post on Twitter and Instagram as long as we are never wearing a bikini. It’s all well and good that Leviticus tells me clearly how to deal with a dead cow I find in a field while I am out for a stroll. This has not been an issue for me as of late. Instead the list of actual “rules” seems much shorter than that of guidelines to living for Jesus.

Recently we navigated the Grammy Awards. There was the usual shock & awe that accompanied the show. Katy Perry’s performance was called, “demonic glorification.” The mass wedding during Macklemore’s “Same Love,” caused gasps across the nation. Then of course we love to just poke fun at poor Taylor Swift, this year with her head banging piano playing.

Christian artist, Natalie Grant was nominated for two awards.  Her actions have become viral as she posted on her FaceBook wall that she left the show early:

“We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.”

It was such a vague statement that a variety of people began to basically say, “See she was offended by what we were!”  Instead, she graciously pointed out that it was conviction that caused her to leave, not any one performance.  (You can read more about that HERE)

My reaction to the Grammy Awards? The world acts like the world.

It may sound flippant. I am not saying there weren’t things that I learned about that didn’t offend me, they just didn’t surprise me. It’s sort of why I was indifferent to the awards show in the first place.

The better question for us as Christians is how are we navigating what will feed our soul?  For Natalie Grant she realized that singing for Jesus to people who want to sing to Jesus is her conviction and calling. What I don’t know is if Natalie Grant knew the words to any of the songs she heard live. Some of us will never listen to anything on the Pop radio station, some will and enjoy it while feeling guilty about it, others will proudly sing at the top of their lungs, some of us might even, “ROAR,” during “The Best Day Of Our Lives.”

When students ask me what they should do when it comes to navigating culture choices, I ask this question: “Does it bring you closer to God, or farther away from Him?  Sometimes it truly may do neither. Speaking of Taylor Swift, I don’t feel closer to God when I listen to her, but I may learn how to navigate heartache. Some things are indeed inert.

Where the “shame” lies is when we point fingers at others (namely our students) while screaming, “AHHH! Plank in my eye. Plank in my eye.” We indulge in “guilty pleasures” with a shrug and nervous giggle.

What I respect about Ms. Grant is, she has never once judged anyone in this process, but for whatever reason staying would have caused her to “stumble” as we say, so she left.

This begs the question.  Are we so busy creating a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” that we forget it’s about the state of our soul? I think the reason there are so many guiding verses about watching our heart, tongue and soul, is so we will ask the Lord what He thinks is best for us. Are we willing to delve into Scripture and ask Jesus before we turn the radio up, go to see a movie or turn on the television? None of these are “evil” however, some of them may not be beneficial for me?  If we are going to spur our students on to more, will we do the same in pressing in to be closer to Jesus?

So I wonder, “Would you have left the Grammy Awards?”  Not because of an “agenda,” but simply because the Holy Spirit nudged this is not where He wants you right now?

Some of us would stay and enjoy the show. Some of us would turn to our neighbor and ask them if they know Christ. Others would get up and walk out and let the world know about it.

Tell me how are you dealing with your convictions, and how are you sharing these with your students?

Now excuse me while I chart a path around this dead cow I just happened to find at the Super Bowl Halftime show….

-Leneita

@leneitafix

LYR coverThere are some massive distinctions we need to make in ministry.  For instance, we need to make sure we recognize and live out the difference between:

  1. Teaching people about the ways of Jesus versus simply teaching them proper behaviors for Christians.
  2. Personal conviction versus religious legalism.  Those could not be more different, but they are easily confused.

These are the types of fine-lines I try and make clear in my forthcoming book, Losing Your Religion. My goal in writing this was to help readers realize just how much we personally blur lines such as these so that we can move toward freedom from the chains of religious behaviors.  The book is a journey of recognizing how we get off the path Jesus paved and recalibrating our ideas of Christianity so that we can get back on that path.  I wrote it because I’m growing in concern that many people (like me at one point) have embraced a behavior management system much more than they have the life Jesus has invited us into, but they have mistaken the one for the other.  And I think deep down we know something is off.  If we are honest, we tend to be driven by guilt and shame and often by a fear of man.  These are not Christian motivations, they are religious.  But unraveling this in our minds is difficult to do in a way that doesn’t bash the Church, but instead humbly honors God.  So it’s the latter I try to do in the book.

Well, the book doesn’t come out until November, but I thought I would list out a few distinctions that I unpack in the book between negative religion and Christianity.  There are obviously a ton more, but maybe these can be a help to you today in some fashion or form:

  1. Religion is lived for God whereas Christianity is lived because of God.  Religious ideas focus us on our actions, but the gospel is about our reactions to God’s actions. 
  2. Religion is expressed in/through what we do.  Christianity is expressed in/through why we do what we do.
  3. Religion emphasizes what we do whereas Christianity emphasizes what God has done and is doing through Jesus.

It’s one thing to list out these types of distinctions and agree with them.  It’s another to actually sift through it in our own lives on practical and often intimate levels.  This is the process that I hope the book brings people through.

– Chuck



Moral failure is something that has been coming up a lot in recent conversations. A few weeks ago, my friend told me that the head pastor of her home church recently stepped down from his position due to moral failure. The church was devastated. The ripples of the pastor’s sin rocked the lives of his entire congregation and even the community as a whole. It damaged the reputation of his church and even worse, damaged the reputation of the Christian Church.

I feel like most of us can tell a story or two about a pastor falling hard because of sin and moral failure and the destruction that it left in its wake. But too many of us hear these stories and have an “it can’t happen to me” mentality. Because the scary thing is, it can happen to any of us.

No one plans on having moral failure. Nor does it just happen out of nowhere. It starts small. It starts in the small compromises that we make in our everday lives. The “small” sin that we think, “isn’t the end of the world.” But those compromises add up. Moral failure isn’t possible without those compromises. A pastor at our church spoke on the subject this weekend and said, “sin is not a game. It is a war. A war for your soul.”

I was super convicted by his message and asked myself, “do I view sin as if it is a war?” and “do I act like sin is a war?” If I am being honest with myself, I don’t think I always do. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think it is scary how reckless we can be with our hearts. While we don’t mean to, we often leave them vulnerable to temptation and sin. It is incredibly important that we, not only as church leaders, but also as followers of Christ in general, acknowledge the severity of sin and guard ourselves against it.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

So take some time today to reflect on this. Are you guarding your heart? What is the “small” sin in your life that you need to be stomping out?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

We are in a transition right now in our group as our Youth Worship Pastor has recently stepped  down. He did a great job of leading our students and bands but I regretfully don’t know a lot about the lifestyle expectations that those in the band had. Let me unpack this a bit more and ask this:

Does a student in the band qualify as a leader?

Are they held to the same standard as a college age leader?

Is a lead singer treated differently a percussionist?

Where is the line?

Is the Worship team a front door to the ministry where non-believing students can come get connected?

Or is a place where only those students who have proven to be mature in their faith can lead others from the stage?

So many questions!

What are your criteria for a student interested in  serving on a youth worship team? Does it change depending on the role or involvement?

-geoff