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What I Learned in My Crusades to Ban Alcohol, Legalize Pot, Destroy Religion and Save the Nation

For the last 20 years I’ve been involved in some sort of “crusade.” I’ve argued that: Alcohol should be banned. Pot should be legalized. Religion should be destroyed. America should be delivered from crazy liberals. However, over the last several years I’ve been learning how to spend less time arguing, and more time encouraging people. And today I want to share my story in case you’re tired of wasting so much time arguing and debating. So if you find yourself getting sucked into debate after debate… if your blood pressure spikes every time you open Facebook and you want to change that then keep reading. By the way, after I share my story here’s what I’m not going to tell you to do: “Now, just stop arguing and be nice!” “Follow this nice little 5-Step Plan to be free from argumentativeness.” “Arguing is just a symptom of the flesh. So just kill the flesh.” Remember, this blog is called “Beyond Cliches.” So I try to do my best to avoid using powerless cliches to solve real problems. And my personal opinion is that many people who are prone to argue actually have a gift of exhortation that’s been twisted. So I don’t think God just wants to “kill” that part of you. I believe He wants to “redeem” it and use it for His glory. OK. So here we go… let’s turn the clock back to 6th grade when I was 11 years old.   Stage 1: Ban Alcohol! I remember my Mom telling me she thought I would be a lawyer one day because of how much I argued and debated. My Mom was, and is,...

Delayed Obedience Is Better Than Disobedience

Or at least at I hope it is. Recently, I met two new people. Shaun, was at a business prayer meeting I attended in Vancouver, WA (link to his blog) and Tim, is a pastor I met online (link to his blog). And they both essentially told me the same thing: “Josh, I’ve read your blog and I hope you keep writing on it.” I thought, Yeah, maybe I should start writing there more.  So I pulled up this blog to see when the last time I posted was and it was 11 months ago! Wow. And then I read my last post and felt convicted when I read what I wrote: When I heard, “to obey is better than sacrifice” I knew God was referring to something specific in my life: writing. More specifically, writing on this blog, Beyond Cliches. I haven’t been writing on here even though I believe God wants me to. I have a million excuses why I keep “putting it off”. Then I thought, Great, I’m not only disobeying God… I’m doing it publicly. How embarrassing.  Yes, I know. I shouldn’t care what other people think, only what God thinks. You’re right. But I’m just being honest about how I felt. Why? Because someone else may be feeling the same way about something and hopefully this helps. Plus, I appreciate it when people are honest in their writing. So that’s where I found myself this morning as I sat there sipping my coffee: convicted but motivated to act. Let’s be honest… it’s not easy to obey when you know in your heart you’ve disobeyed. Especially when it’s not the first time. There’s...

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

As I was praying this morning I was reminded of the verse that says, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” I didn’t remember the rest of the verse so I googled it and found 1 Samuel 15:22 which reads: “So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.” When I heard, “to obey is better than sacrifice” I knew God was referring to something specific in my life: writing. More specifically, writing on this blog, Beyond Cliches. I haven’t been writing on here even though I believe God wants me to. I have a million excuses why I keep “putting it off”. Some of my favorite are: I have nothing important to say. I should do everything with “excellence” so I don’t want to write on here again unless it’s quality writing. I don’t want to start writing and then quit like I did before. My time would be better spent in my prayer closet than writing a blog. And it was that last one that I believe God was confronting. I’ve gotten in the habit of waking early at 5:00 am, making my coffee and toast and then setting my timer for  60 minutes of devotional time. I’m definitely a creature of habit and I believe strongly in the value of developing good habits. So each morning (I don’t do this every morning) I wake up, take a shower, then go downstairs and make myself a green smoothie and a...

Why Introspection Is A Waste Of Time

Should you be more introspective? Well, it depends what kind of life you want. If you want to rob yourself of joy, stunt your spiritual growth and become a more self-absorbed person than yes, by all means, you should be introspective. But seriously, think about it. Have you ever felt empowered after an intense time of introspection? Did you examine all your motives and then walk away feeling refreshed and closer to God? If you’re like most people then probably not. And why would you? The nature of introspection is to look for things that are wrong in your life. Areas of your life that need to be corrected. Trying to judge yourself according to your own internal belief system. And from my experience (and observation of many well meaning Christians) introspection does little to change your life for the better. If you really want a heart change. If you really want to be free from sin then turn your gaze away from yourself and onto God. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of doing this work without your help. So is the living Word of God. And so are the people God has placed in your life. If you need to be corrected simply ask the Holy Spirit to convict you when you need to be. Ask him to guide you by His Word. But I strongly encourage you to refrain from spending countless hours “naval gazing.” You will have more joy, mature spiritually and become a more selfless person by gazing into the heart of God instead of into your own soul. If you don’t believe me just try it....

What Do You Believe About Your Nature?

The “sin nature” is a subject that is taught, preached and studied extensively in the church today. Conversely there isn’t much focus on what it means to be a “new creation” in Christ.Think about it for a moment. How often do you hear the sin/human nature mentioned in a sermon compared to the “inward man” or the “new creation”? If you’re like most Christians you’ve been taught about the sinful, fallen and corrupt nature of man far more than you have about being a new creation. It’s as if what Adam and Eve did was more important (or powerful) than what Christ did. And it’s a tragedy. When we neglect to teach Christians the truth about what it means to be a new creation we do a terrible disservice. We end up with Christians and churches who are completely ignorant of the abundant spiritual life available and who continue to strive against sin. Plus, it makes having a real relationship with God almost impossible. Here’s why… Forgetting What Manner Of Man You Are If you believe you’re just a sinner who must continue to battle your sinful/human nature then your life will be marked by struggle, defeat and despair. And you’ll become introspective with sin consciousness plaguing your mind. But if you’re taught, and believe, that when you were born again you received a new nature (God’s nature) and sin no longer has control over you then a whole new life opens up to you. A life of full of freedom, power and love. A spiritual life governed by your recreated spirit. Your spirit that’s in communion with God’s Spirit. This is the life...

I Made the Mistake of Reading George MacDonald (aka C.S. Lewis’s “Master”)

I didn’t even know who George MacDonald was until recently. I think the first time I heard his name was last summer when my good friend Matt Perkins of Northwest Anglican and my mother-in-law Tiffany Seppala were discussing his books over lunch. They said he was a great influence on C.S. Lewis. So I started reading, Discovering the Character of God by MacDonald recently and realized his writings aren’t something I can just quickly read through and say, “Oh that was good,” and move on with life. No. I say “I made the mistake of reading George MacDonald” because I can’t do that. I can’t read a chapter, smile and then just go on with life like nothing happened. For whatever reason, his writing has challenged me at the core of who I am. As he writes about the character of God I begin to think about who God really is. And I want to share a statement that really rocked me last night. So much so that I had to sit my book down, sit up straight in bed and really consider what I had just read. But before I share that let me give you a little background on George MacDonald in case you aren’t familiar with him. Here are some quotes from the introduction of Discovering the Character of God.   “In a life of eighty years and a literary career spanning nearly five decades, Scotsman George MacDonald (1824-1905) produced some fifty-three books of tremendous diversity…Though he was said to have considered himself a poet first, a preacher second, and a novelist third, almost three-quarters of...