I was playing the blame game


Kids, especially boys love to show off their scars from fights, from sports, from daredevil tricks. It gives them an opportunity to brag about how tough they are, which is important during the coming-of-age years.
They usually fail to mention that they may have cried like a baby with the pain of the cut or puncture.

The stories usually get embellished a little beyond any conceivable reality, especially if it involves what happened to the other guy. Be that as it may, their scars serve to prove that they have dared something great.

However, as we grow into adults, we tend to leave off the braggadocio and begin to take on a more realistic approach with the stories of our scars. Especially with men, the story becomes somewhat matter-of-fact.
· I got shot.
· I cut myself.
· I was in a car wreck.

Jesus did the same thing.
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. [Jhn 20:19-20 ESV] 

We’ve been told all our lives that we will inherit a new body at the resurrection. And from that we have drawn all sorts of ideas about what that will be like.
However, the only thing we truly know for sure is that the corruptible body we now inhabit that is subject to sickness, disease, and death, will become incorruptible. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [1Co 15:53 KJV]

Have you ever given much thought to Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances?
· When He appeared to Mary, she didn’t recognize Him until He spoke her name.
· When He appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they didn’t recognize Him until He broke bread with them.
· When He appeared to the eleven—and then to Thomas with the others—they didn’t recognize Him until He showed them His hands and feet.

From this we can see that His voice, manner, and body had not been changed by the resurrection. Everything was still the same as it was just a few days prior—EVEN THE SCARS.

Why weren’t the scars removed from this new body which could now walk through walls?

The scars were proof of the price He paid to get what He got.

And what did He get? YOUR SALVATION!! My salvation.

Thomas needed to see the nail prints in order to believe, but Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” [Jhn 20:29]

Scars are a silent witness to past battles. They are a testimony to having survived something that, at the time they were incurred, looked like it was trying to destroy the person.

What about your scars?

What about the scars that no one can see? Not the scars on your back, but the scars on your heart.

We have all experienced what the psalmist did, and what he prophesied about the Lord in Psalm 55:12-14— For it is not an enemy who taunts me– then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me– then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.

Have you ever been offended by a friend from church?

Or, again in Psalm 41:9— Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

We’ve all got scars on our heart, evidence of a wound that often feels as if it is still festering.

Childhood events

  • A best friend betraying you
  • A parent not attending a special event
  • Abuse—sexual, emotional, physical

Adult events

  • Spousal abuse
  • Cheating spouse
  • Friends gossip
  • Church affiliations going sour

Scars of regret—

  • Feelings of failure

A scar is proof that you have survived the event, but we tend to pick at it, much like some people pick at scabs on their arms. That tends to hinder the healing process, because we keep the wound “fresh.”

We re-live the hurt over and over again usually trying to make sense of the whole thing.

  • Why did that happen?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • Why did he treat me that way?
  • I didn’t deserve that.
And even though it is a never-ending downward spiral, we will come back and do it again and again.

When my wife left me, I had a huge hole in my heart. I did not know who I was, what my purpose was, why I even existed. I was completely lost.

I would constantly rehearse what she did. I would occasionally think about things I might have done differently, or about how I could have been better; but it usually came back to what she did

I was playing the blame game.

I needed to be healed. I needed healing from the pain of a failed marriage. I needed healing from the pain of not being good enough. I needed healing from the pain of having failed as a father. I needed healing from the pain of having not been a good enough leader.

During this time, I began to learn more about the truth, and how we so seldom speak truth, especially when it comes to our pain.
We say things like—

  • You made me mad
  • You hurt me
  • You snubbed me
  • You made me feel small

None of which is true. Each one of those is an accusation, blaming the other, and avoiding the real issue of the pain we feel.
The truth is—

  • I got mad when you…
  • I felt small when you…
  • I felt hurt by your…

We need to learn how to access our true feelings and express them in a way that does not blame another. Our feelings are our own, not someone else’s and they have no control over them. They are yours and yours alone. YOU are responsible for your feelings. Therefore…

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, …Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.[Eph 4:15, 25 ESV]

We usually only think of these verses in relation to how we record events. Tell the truth. Don’t lie about it. We all know there is more to it than that.

Some try to apply these verses to correcting others with, “You know I love you, but…” This is certainly not what Paul meant.

One day I took a few hours to examine our marriage, the break-up, and what had transpired in the interim. There was some deep soul-searching going on as I tried to lay everything out before the Lord.

I scheduled a meeting with a therapist, and was telling what I had learned through all this. All of a sudden I began to cry. It turned into a deep gut-wrenching wail as all the pain I had shoved down in my being came gushing out.
From a fetal position on the floor, I screamed out, “She never loved me!” and almost immediately the sobbing ceased. Everything became still. There was a quietness in the room and in my soul. Then I said, “That’s not true. She was not able to love me the way I needed to be loved.”

That was the moment my healing began. Notice that I was still blaming her, but I was giving her an excuse.

Then it hit me—I was not able to love her the way she needed to be loved.
That was the truth that set me free.

I still carry a scar; but it is no longer fraught with the pain it once was.

Learning to speak the truth about things can go a long way toward healing the hurts of the past.

What about you?
Do you have a scar, a wound that won’t heal, because you keep picking at it?
Is there a pain in your life that you have not allowed the Lord to touch?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Heb 4:15-16 ESV]

PRAYER God of grace, you sustained Jesus when he was betrayed and abandoned by his companions. Help us, Lord, to know how to speak the truth of our pain. Help us to learn to come immediately to you, the one who took our pain and suffering to the cross so that we may be healed. When we are frightened and alone, lift us on the bright wings of your Spirit, that we may find our safest shelter and our truest friend in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


Have you ever heard of advertising?

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  [Jas 1:14-15 ESV]

DEATH—we have such a limited understanding of this term as it is used in the Scriptures. Of course, we have the same problem with the concept of “eternal life,” thinking it only refers to something after life on planet Earth.

Eternal life, which is not my focus here, has both a quantitative and qualitative aspect as revealed in the Word of God. “Death” falls into the same category, having both quality and quantity in its realm.

Death, as used in the Bible, refers not only to the cessation of physical life, but also to the abundance of negative things in life before one quits breathing.

You may be thinking, “Preacher, are you telling me that all this crap in my life is the result of sin?” Maybe. But, I CAN tell you this—“Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight.”

[Pro 26:2 ESV]

Notice, then, the process that James lays out. 

First, there is desire. Second, desire conceived. Third, desire births sin. Fourth, sin grows up. Fifth, death is born.

Today, however, I am only going to address the aspect of desire.
Where does it come from?

Before I answer that, let’s ask a different question—

Have you ever heard of advertising?

Of course, you have.

You may have a knee-jerk reaction to the question within the context of this little article and say that advertising only plays to what is already within a person’s mind.

I won’t argue with you on that; but I will take it a step further and ask another question. Why do Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and other major name-brands continue to advertise when it is obvious that the whole world already knows of their existence?

Could it be that they understand HOW to create desire?
Consider this—

“A successful advertising message transcends the audience perceptions of needs and wants. It creates an emotional appeal that subtly convinces the audience that the item being promoted will make a difference in their lives by either making them happy, giving them status, satisfying a desire or providing security.”How Does Advertising Affect Wants & Needs? | Chron.com

It is simply a matter of vying for your attention amid the clamor of everything else also pushing itself at you.

Therefore, the point is to be able to gain access to your mind.

Here’s the rub—the Holy Spirit doesn’t do that.

That is why it is up to you to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” [Pro 4:23 ESV]

It is up to you to guard what goes into your mind. If the television or the radio is on, the advertising will find its way into your heart. It is THAT powerful.

People have told me for years that they don’t pay attention to the ads.
They know better. That is why they continue doing what they do, spending billions of dollars to promote their products.

What is the sum, then?

According to the Holy Spirit’s word through James, your temptations are a direct result of your desires.

You are the only one who has any control over your desires.