WHERE’S THE BLOOD?!?

It has been at least a couple of years since I’ve heard her say it, but when I would confess my sinful moral failures to her in the years after coming clean, she would ask me, “Where’s the blood?!?”

She references Hebrews 12:4, “In you struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (ESV)

You may say, “That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t mean literal blood…that stuff about pluck out your eye and cut off your hand is just figurative.” (Matthew 5:29,30;Matthew 18:8,9;Mark 9:43-47).  I don’t see any evidence to indicate that Hebrews 12 is talking about figurative blood.

Maybe I have a different perspective.  Back in the day (it’s been a few years) I would take part in Pankration – full contact martial arts mixing striking, kicking, and grappling for knock-out or submission (nowadays, MMA).  When I fought, sometimes I’d win, sometimes not – but I was a dogged fighter.  I never gave up easily.  Whenever I did lose, you can bet there was literal, red blood on my gi as testament to my resistance.

That is a mere earthly, flesh and blood struggle. Our resistance to sin is in the spiritual realm, and has another model – Jesus Christ.  You say, “He is the Son of God! He can’t sin!” True, but He was tempted:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (ESV)

Also, when dealing with temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane, He shed real, literal blood:

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:41-44 (ESV)

So, dear friends, the next time you are tempted…

Shed some blood in the struggle! Draw on the power of the Holy Spirit, and don’t give in! Be like Christ and say, “Not my will, but Yours, be done!”

Peace,

George

Advertisements

A GREAT OBSTACLE

In my own life, and in conversations I’ve had with other men trying to salvage their marriages, I see two great obstacles to achieving openness, brokenness, and freedom.

The first obstacle is probable intuitively obvious to the casual observer – Pride.

The second may not be as obvious, and it is rarely acknowledged or dealt with by those who are failing to truly reconcile with their wives.  It is the entitlement mentality which is so pervasive in our society today; the idea that I somehow deserve to be forgiven by my wife, or that others should recognize how much I’ve changed and congratulate me for it, or any number of other detrimental attitudes.

For example, without getting into details, I was once talking with a man who had decided to try the principles taught in 4 Days 2 Freedom.  He had physically abused his wife, committed adultery literally countless times, but he decided to come clean and ask her to forgive him.  I think it was less than three months later that he asked me something like, “How much dirt do I have to let her pile on top of me?!?”

You see, he was upset that his wife hadn’t forgiven him and then completely forgotten about all the pain and anguish he had caused her and the family.  He was upset that she had the audacity to keep bringing things up, especially when he was displaying the same type of behavior toward her that he had shown before coming clean.

My response? It was in terms of Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  I said something akin to, “How much dirt did Jesus let people pile on top of Him on His way to the cross? He was completely innocent, but He took the penalty for all of our sins.” That man went away angry, and completely destroyed his marriage because he didn’t get the treatment he thought he deserved.

Friends, there is a scripture which brings home to me exactly what I deserve: “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23a

Yes, I know the rest of the verse, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, His Son.” (emphasis mine)

Does anyone else out there get it?  Or am I completely off base, here?

When I came clean with my wife, I pulled a big dump truck full of garbage up to her and emptied it all on her head! She drew upon God’s grace and forgave me, as did a lot of other people I confessed to and asked forgiveness from.  In fact, folks thought I was such a good guy for having come clean, no one even bothered to ask how I was doing for almost a year…and as Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Getting caught, having to confess to my wife again, and going through the aftermath thoroughly drove home to me God’s grace as demonstrated through my wife.  She really wanted to kill me…but she chose to listen to God, and extended true forgiveness.

I know that I don’t deserve my wife’s forgiveness, but I am grateful to receive it, and sorrowful when something happens to cause her to remember the pain I have caused.  True forgiveness does not forget past sin (see Revelation 20:11-12 regarding the “great white throne judgment), but chooses not to remember (Psalm 103 – God removes our sin, but there is no indication he forgets it).

Getting back to entitlement…how can I possibly think that my wife owes me forgiveness, much less that God owes me forgiveness?  He does forgive, but it is an act of mercy, purely by His grace, not because of any I have done or deserved (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So, when my wife gets hurt, or upset, or expresses her frustration that I have not changed in an area of my life, the way of brokenness is to humbly take responsibility for her pain and fear, to acknowledge that it is my sin which is at fault, and start the process of figuring out what she needs to feel loved (it takes – gasp – communication, guys…something I am horrible at, but learning).  Do I always have the right reaction? Far from! I am nowhere near as broken and humble and loving as I want to be, but when I do make the right choice (and it is definitely a choice), the pain is assuaged, the reconciliation is sweet, and my wife feels the love of Christ.

Give up your perceived rights, friends.  The only right you really have is to receive death, and there but for the grace of God go I.

Peace,

George

STARBUCKS’ RESPONSE

Dear George,

We’d like to clarify that while we have voiced our support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples, Starbucks has not provided any financial support of this legislation.

At Starbucks, we deeply respect the views of our customers and partners (employees) and recognize that there is genuine passion surrounding this topic. Starbucks has many constituents, and from time to time we will make decisions that are consistent with our values and heritage but may be inconsistent with the views of a particular group.

From our very earliest days, Starbucks has strived to create a company culture that puts our people first and treats everyone equitably. Our company has a lengthy history of leading on and supporting policies that promote equality and inclusion, and we are proud to be one of several leading Northwest employers that support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality. We made this decision through the lens of humanity and our commitment to embracing diversity.

We have 200,000 people that work for Starbucks around the world and the equity of our brand has been defined by the relationship we have with our partners and the relationship they have with our customers. Put simply, the success we’ve enjoyed and the resulting shareholder value created are directly linked to the pride our partners have for the company they work for and their connection with the communities we serve.

Warm Regards,

Cassandra G
Customer Relations
Starbucks Coffee Company
800 STARBUC (782-7282)
Monday through Friday, 5AM to 8PM (PST)