Tag Archives: affairs

The Depths Of Our Cheatin’ Hearts

Disclaimer: If you’re a reality television aficionado, you may not want to read this…

Since 2000, the reality television show Cheaters has titillated its audiences by exposing adulterous couples caught in the act. Usually, each episode concludes with the host, Joey Greco lecturing the adulterers on their sinful and self-absorbed behavior. And really, Greco is seemingly the right man for the job, considering that he is a graduate of Evangel University, an Assemblies of God school in southern Missouri. He holds an undergraduate degree in counseling and a Masters in counseling as well.

In the defining moment that brought Cheaters to the top of the heap in reality programming, Greco was stabbed by an angry boyfriend who was caught in an indiscretion. With the cameras rolling, Greco was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, barely evading his own death. Voyeuristic audiences ate it up like a side order of chili cheese fries.

But did you know that every episode is staged? The above video clip exposes the depths of the Cheaters television show.

Think about it: the television show that exposes cheaters in reality cheats its television audience. But before you jump on your high horse and criticize those cheaters, you might want to first take a long hard look at yourself.

Please join us in our daily Bible conversation to discover the depths of your cheatin’ heart.

TODAY’S READING

Daniel 11:36-Hosea 3:5
1 John 4:1-5:21
Psalm 123:1-124:8
Proverbs 29:2-8

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Hosea 1:1-3:5. The prophet Hosea lived during the final days of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century b.c. Over a 25 year period, 6 kings ruled over the country, bringing a great deal of instability and anxiety to the people. Of those six kings, four were murdered by their successors, one was captured in battle, and only one was succeeded by his son.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

“If my wife ever cheats on me, that’s it for us. I just won’t put up with it,” the newlywed husband informed my wife and me years ago. He was self-assured and cocky, like many men in their 20s who have yet to experience the blow to the gut that life can give.

Within two years, his wife’s affair brought him to his knees. Miraculously enough, 20 years later they’re still married.

The older I get, the less I’m surprised by stories of cheatin’ hearts. In fact, when I look in the mirror, a cheatin’ heart looks back at me.

The book of Hosea is the gospel for sinners. God told Hosea to marry Gomer, a woman of ill repute. She was the poster child of marital infidelity, unfaithfulness, and the cheatin’ heart.

Despite the love and loyalty of her godly husband, Gomer’s insatiable appetite for other lovers led her astray. Yet Hosea continued to lovingly pursue his wife. Twice, her illicit lovers impregnated her, and twice, Hosea accepted her children as his.

I’ve often wondered how Hosea felt about his union to Gomer. In wedding ceremonies I pronounce to everyone, “Those whom God has joined together, let no one separate.” God brought Hosea and Gomer together knowing that she would cheat on her husband. And Hosea knew it, too. Imagine the pain, stress, and humiliation Hosea felt.

But the hardest blow to us, the reader, is the fact that Hosea’s and Gomer’s relationship is a picture of our relationship to God.

At that time, Israel was experiencing a rapid decline. Godly spiritual values were deteriorating while idolatry was on the rise. The local economy was in bad shape. The military was losing it’s strength. The judicial system was corrupt. Most disturbing was society’s growing addiction to pleasure, materialism, indulgence, and immorality.

Sound familiar?

The deepest betrayal is an adulterous affair. Every time our cheatin’ hearts convince us to think only of ourselves, or we lust after another person, or believe that a little more money or some other possession will fill the hole in our heart, or we tell a white lie, or try to portray ourselves as better than we really are, we follow in Gomer’s footsteps. Sin is adultery against God. And we’re no better than the cheaters who chastise the cheaters on reality television.

John the apostle wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We’re all equal opportunity offenders.

But that’s not the end of the story.

How does God respond to our indiscretions? Describing Israel’s sin, God told Hosea, “I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her” (Hosea 2:14). Speak tenderly?? After everything Israel had done??

Such is God’s deep love for us.

John expressed it this way: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Our sin is dark, heinous. Yet God’s love is stronger than our deepest, darkest sin. God longs to be united with us in an unhindered relationship. If you think you’ve ventured too far away from God or your betrayal of him is too great, take comfort in the story of Hosea and Gomer.

You may have stopped pursuing God, but he will never stop pursuing you.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What does your cheatin’ heart look like?
  3. What elements in the book of Hosea do you identify with most? Why?
  4. Do you ever doubt God’s relentless love for you? Why?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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Tiger, Jesse…and Me

Who would you consider to be the most reviled celebrities in the world today?

Two names immediately come to mind: Tiger Woods and Jesse James.

This week, Tiger Woods is playing in his first golf tournament since being exposed for engaging in multiple adulterous affairs. Understandably, he must be nervous about the likelihood of hecklers harassing him from tournament to tournament. In the same way, he must be nervous about questions from the media—which was  apparent in his news conference, which the video above shows. For the rest of his life, he will face the consequences of his transgressions.

The same applies to Jesse James. For the rest of his life, the media and much of the public will view him through the lens of an adulterer and sex addict.

Are these men deserving of being reviled?

To learn the answer, please join me in today’s daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Deuteronomy 32:28-52
Luke 12:35-59
Psalm 78:56-64
Proverbs 12:24

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Deuteronomy 32:28-52. The first part of our reading is the conclusion to the song Moses sang to Israel. It’s kind of an odd farewell because it focuses on Israel’s rebellious nature and how they will eventually fall away from God. After 40 years, Israel’s basic default settings remained the same. Nevertheless, God still chose to bring his people into the Promised Land. And isn’t that true of all of us? God knows our dark sides (better than we do), and yet he still blesses us with life, friendships, and good things.

Then, Moses urges the people to hear and obey the law, because they aren’t idle words, they are life (verse 47).

Luke 12:35-59. In his first parable, Jesus turns around the normal master/servant relationship by saying that at the end of the age, the master will serve the servant. The rest of this section, however, seems pretty harsh.

In the heat of his tirade, Jesus tells his disciples, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division” (verse 51). While God is love and Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we are still called to choose who we will serve. Our allegiance to Jesus must surpass our commitment to our family. When Luke compiled his gospel, persecution was already beginning to escalate—which is why he chose to include Jesus’ words in this passage. People were afraid of what their families would think if they decided to follow Jesus.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

Today’s readings struck me differently than most days because they tended to be negative. The message in Deuteronomy, Luke and Psalm 78 struck a universal theme: people have messed up, are messing up, and will mess up again.

Throwing Tiger and Jesse to the media lions has been a little disconcerting. While I would never affirm their transgressions, it seems to me that many of his critics suffer from short- and long-term memory loss.

Last weekend I heard about a pastor who recently told his congregation, “If you knew what I was really like inside, you wouldn’t want me to be your pastor.”

Like Israel (from our reading), Tiger, Jesse, and that pastor, we all have a default setting that’s fixed on sin. Reviling other sinners for their sin is the epitome of hypocrisy. If we had no sin, we wouldn’t need Jesus. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” 1 John 1:8 tells us.

Tiger has taken a bigger step than many of us. He owned his sin.

So let me own mine: Count me in with Tiger and the others. In the words the Apostle Paul: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Do you agree?

Then stand in line beside Tiger, Jesse…and me.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Why do certain people like to heckle fallen celebrities?
  3. What is your initial reaction when you hear about Tiger Woods or Jesse James? Why do you think you respond the way that you do?
  4. Why did God choose to bless the Israelites when he knew they would sin? What does this tell you about God?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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True Confessions

After 45 years of life, countless churches attended, and 23 years of pastoral ministry, I must confess that every church I’ve been involved with has knocked me around. I’ve witnessed pastors who were caught in adulterous affairs, church members who deliberately lied about me to force me out, and suffered a painful church split.

Am I nuts for staying connected to the church?

Probably.

But in today’s reading, we’ll look at what drives this insanity.

TODAY’S READING

Genesis 50:1 – Exodus 2:10
Matthew 16:13-17:9
Psalm 21:1-13
Proverbs 5:1-6

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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Genesis 50:3,7. This is pretty amazing: “All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt.” Jacob was apparently given royal honors among the Egyptians.

Genesis 50:15-18. Imagine being in Joseph’s shoes and listening to your brothers make up a story about your father and then watching them throw themselves on the ground begging for mercy. This communicated to Joseph that they didn’t think he was sincere in saving their lives. This also reminds me of the time when Jesus stood in front of Lazarus’ tomb and Mary and Martha doubted him. What did Jesus do? He wept[John 11:35].

Genesis 50:22-26. Strangely missing is the rest of the story of Joseph’s brothers—especially Reuben, the firstborn son. Joseph’s bones were eventually transported to Canaan, but his brothers weren’t. This tells me that Joseph assumed the role of firstborn son.

Exodus 1:10. The Bible Background Commentary explains, “The argument for enslaving the Israelites is that if they are not enslaved they will join the enemy and leave the country…The Egyptians would have wanted to keep the Israelite presence for economic reasons.”

Exodus 1:14. The Bible Background Commentary goes into detail about the difficult life of a brickmaker: “The ancient records agree that brick makers had a filthy job. A work known as the Satire on the Trades attests to an existence that is perpetually muddy and miserable. Houses, public buildings, walls around cities and even pyramids were at times constructed of brick. Literally millions of bricks were needed, and daily individual quotas would vary depending on how many were assigned to a crew.”

Exodus 2:3. The Hebrew word used for Moses’ basket is the same as that used for Noah’s ark.

Matthew 16:21-17:13. Isn’t it amazing how Peter can be so right and so wrong at the same time? Anyone who thinks they need to have their act together before following Jesus hasn’t spent enough time studying the disciples.

Proverbs 5:1-6. Although this section is written to men, I think women could place themselves in here as well. It’s a pretty sobering chapter. Adultery may sound so exciting, but in the end it brings death.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:18 is significant, but Jesus’ answer to Peter’s confession is equally significant: “On this rock I will build my church.”

The Greek word for “church” means “congregation” or “assembled ones.” It doesn’t mean a collection of Jesus’ followers who do their own thing.

On a fairly regular basis, the organized church knocks me around. In a morbid kind of way, I expect it. And I’m sure some people point to me as someone who has knocked them around.

As a result, sometimes I look in the mirror and ask myself, Mike, why do you stay involved in the church? Just do your own thing. That way people won’t keep knocking you around.

At times I’d like to do my own thing, just me and God. But that doesn’t fit into God’s plans. Jesus said “I will build my church.”

The church is Jesus’ primary means of reaching the world. To walk away from the church, in some ways, means to walk away from Jesus.

I realize this sounds pretty opinionated, but I can’t get around Matthew 16:8.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. In light of Jesus’ promise to use Peter—despite his obvious flaws—what stands in your way of allowing God to use you? Why?
  3. Why would Jesus choose to reach the world through such a messed-up group of people?
  4. If you’ve been knocked around by the church, and still attend a church, what keeps you coming back?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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