Category Archives: self control

What hinders me….?

To Hinder someone is to cause them some amount of difficulty in what they are trying to accomplish. If I wish to take a trip across the country in my car and have $10 in my wallet, the hindrance is a lack of money. Once, while traveling across the country while in college, my dad had sent me a credit card for Shell. My hindrance along the trip was that Shell wasn’t in Colorado…that and no money! My desire to travel back to Oregon was not in question, but there was a obsticle in my way.

When the Eunuch asked Phillip, “What hinders me from being baptized?” The answer really was nothing provided that he believed.

Yesterday, I said that I would discuss “What hinders us from giving 10%” and the answer is usually a simple: Too much outgo. Now, I realize that there are other possible reasons and not enough income to feed and clothe yourself might be a big factor in that. However, if you are in that situation, I trust that you will be able to see that I am not talking about you.

To keep it simple, I will ask about a person who makes $20,000 a year ($1,666/month) and decides that he needs to have his own apartment and stuff. It is so easy with credit now a days to go buy a couch/tv/stereo/PlayStation, etc. Let’s suppose that our young adventurer runs up a bill on various things totaling $15,000. Not a difficult feat to accomplish really. How much will he be paying? A single credit card at 15% (and the furniture he bought on no interest till 2014 will convert to a 29% interest rate if he doesn’t pay the last penny on time.) would be about $350 a month. So while the amount might be a little more than that since he bought at different places, let’s assume ONE credit card bill handles it.

This represents 21% of his before tax income. After taxes, it is likely to be closer to 25% of his income. By the time he pays the rent and utilities, insurance, etc. he is not going to have a lot left. If he has been putting food and gas on that credit card (living on 110% of his take home) then he will be in more hurt once his credit line is maxed out.

  • Rent $600
  • Utilities $100
  • Phone (full web and texting) $85
  • Insurance ($150)
  • Credit card $350
  • Gas $100
  • Food $300

oops! I ran out of money and haven’t even paid TAXES.

The idea is not that you have to (HAVE TO) give 10%, the idea is that even if you wanted to, you couldn’t. Why not? Because you bought things on credit instead of at a garage sale. Now, you have an obligation to take care of and the cash that you would put in the collection plate, you don’t have because you are paying bills.

The thorny soil in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4) was the person who let the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things, choke it out. It became unfruitful.  So many of us are able to choke the ability we have to bear fruit by tying ourselves to the world’s pleasures. We need to free ourselves from that and then we will have money to give. Yes, even more than 10% if we are so moved.

The Marshmallow Chronicles

I want to introduce “The Marshmallow Chronicles” a new blog that I am going to start writing. While you don’t have to, I would consider it an honor if you would go to and follow the posts on that one as well. It will not be a daily blog, at least not yet.

The theme will be Journeys in Self-Control. And it is still a little bit in progress with all the meta tags and widgets and such. The message is more important than the background. Pray that I do it will.

PS. It may be in private mode still, I am trying to get it out of that so, let me know if you have problems getting in.

Be careful little mouth what you speak

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! (Jas 3:5)

from google images

We all remember the song we learned or taught to kids in Sunday School. “oh be careful little hands what you do” and one of those verses says “Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say!” This verse may well have been inspired by this section in James!

So James has just explained how the small rudder or small bridle is able to control such force of strength in the horse or the wind, allowing the driver to go in the direction that he wants to go. I think it would be worth putting out the thought that we are all heading in some direction. It could be Heaven, it could be Hell or it could be ‘in circles’. (which is the same thing as NOT heading toward Heaven). James says the tongue is a big part of that direction.

It is small and, really, it is. While other parts of our body are easily seen, the tongue hides away. Unless one opens his mouth, it doesn’t say anything. However, it can say so many things and as James points out, it boasts of great things. I understand this use of the word ‘tongue’ to refer to what we say, how we speak, and really that all gets back to our heart because the mouth speaks what is in the heart. (Mt 15:18) James wants to warn them of the trouble you get into by boasting. Prov 21:23 says “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble”

from Google images

Great boasters of the Bible would include Lamech (Gen 4), Goliath (I sam 17), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 6), Jezebel (I kings 19), Haman (Esther), Korah (Num 16) and who can forget the little horn of Daniel 7 or Rev 13? Indeed, we can point to sinners and rebellious ones who turn their backs on God, boasting in their own abilities but what about those other great boasters!

Peter (Mt 26:33), Samson (Judges 16:20), Jephthah (Judges 11:30), and Moses (Num 20:10) represent the other side of the equation, using their mouth to promise things or say things that they had no ability to fulfill.  These, who would be followers of God and were men of faith, (all of them are mentioned in Hebrews 11-the faith all of fame) yet their tongue got them into trouble and brought misery into their life. Moses, in particular, was denied entrance into the promised land. Ouch!

“I am a great teacher” some may be tempted to say. Others boast in those who they follow. (I cor 1)  Some boast in the future (James will talk about his later) saying “I will be profitable”.  Some boasted that they had faith (James 2:18) All of these things are vanity and puffing up your own self.

Boasting in the things which you say you have, or which you say you can do, or will do, or even did do is truly a vanity. James has already said in Chapter one that the poor should boast in their exaltation (not that it is of themselves but of the Lord) and the rich should boast in their humiliation (because only the humble rich man will ever see Heaven. Knowing that your riches don’t count is a big step). And Paul exemplifies this principle of not boasting in vain things when he says that he forgets what is behind and presses forward, being too busy reaching the prize in Jesus to boast of his own accomplishments.

In applying this, we can once again go back to chapter one and this time, verse 19 “let a man be quick to hear and slow to speak…”

The Choices of Cain

Today’s morning lesson looked at the choices that Cain made in an attempt to help us do better in the choices that we make. The Premise of the lesson is based on 1 Cor 10:13 which states that God does not allow us to be tempted above what we can bear.

Cain’s first choice was to not offer God the sacrifice that God wanted. Many thoughts are stated about this but at the very least we know that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith and was accepted. Cain then apparently continued to compound one sin by others.

God even advised Cain on how to be accepted. “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” You would think that Cain would choose to respond to this. However, the response to God’s encouragement was killing his brother; some response. Finally he did not even repent of this but made the situation worse by not admitting what he did.

God finally sent him away.

The examples we have in Christ give us clear paths to follow and to serve God. We should make the choices he made and resist the temptations to choose sin over God.  The link to this sermon is here

Self-control in the Garden

Today’s lesson takes a look at an important topic, that of self-control.  Self control is not a commonly used word in the Bible, however, the concept of self-control is found so often in the Bible, that is hard to miss. In fact, one would have to try very hard to miss one main message of Scripture: control thyself! In fact, one doesn’t have to go very far to see self-control, or the lack of it, at work in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve present a good study on how their lack of self-control could star in the book of life’s chapter entitiled “what not to do”.

The tree that Eve ate from was a good looking tree, to be sure, and it was good for food as well. But so were all the other trees in the garden (Gen 2:9) so why that particular tree and what was her motive? I think it was, in part, the attention that she paid to it. If she had treated it like any other tree, as she had been doing, there should have been no problem. The other part, was that Satan caused to be discontent with what she had. It wasn’t enough to have God providing everything for her that she needed, now she wanted to be like God.

Such knowledge was not necessary for her to do her job and fulfill her role. And there are lots of things that we do not need to “know” in order to do our job for God. Knowing Drugs or pre-marital sex, or how to win through deceit is not a knowledge we need to have and the damage can be substantial. Because of our lack of self-control sin creates problems not just for us but for others.

Developing self-control is an important thing to do. It is easier as children to learn to be disciplined but even as adults there are lessons that we should learn to help us control our lives. Admitting that we have a need for control in this or that area will help. As the old saying goes ‘admitting that you have a problem is half the battle.’ A second way to help avoid sin (the failure to control ourselves) is to do as David did. “your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you” (psalm 119:11) and third, we can prayer for strength as Jesus counseled the disciples to do “pray that you enter not into temptation” Luke 22:40

I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you have any suggestions that will help in developing self-control, let me know. The sermon parts one and two are here.

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