Beyond the Logic of Sin and Insecurity by Michael Nichols

The movement of the Holy Spirit is a funny thing. He's not just our heart rate during worship, nor is He just the force behind an armada of supernatural events, nor is He simply your conscience when your own sense of reasoning fails, nor is He just the lifeline that God throws to us when we're drowning in the world's system. He is all of these things and more. What I'm about to explain is what happens when we don't latch onto Him when He moves.

Like anyone, whether it's in my own mind, radiating through my fingertips, or lashing out through my tongue, I have, and, as certainly as the night will come, will deal with sin. Will every thought be corrupt? No. Will every thought be pure? No. Thankfully, I have a Heavenly Father who trains me daily in the way I should go despite me, and who reprimands me clearly yet lovingly when I need it.

I've said so before, but I'll say it again: I micromanage myself sometimes, especially with spirituality and sin. I'm hypersensitive and hypercritical of what I do and how I feel and what I think and believe, often times to my detriment. That having been said, it's easy to justify the sin, the distance, the lack of direction, the lack of passion -- really, without wanting to admit it, the lack of Him, in an attempt to quell hypersensitivity with insensitivity.

The fact about me -- really all of us -- is that I desperately, utterly need Him, but I don't always run to Him. I tend to make excuses, to justify what I sometimes do so that I won't feel as guilty, but the cover up that we impose upon ourselves is worse than whatever sins and insecurities we hide. We only start to make excuses when we run out of reasons, to rationalize when we've done the irrational, to justify that which is unjust, to fabricate false answers for the ones we refuse to humble ourselves to seek out... and after all of those simulations of salvation fall to pieces, we are left to either accept the truth or scream in its face.

When you get past the reasons, the justifications, the excuses, and finally dismantle a sin, and you can finally see it for what it is, something will happen. You'll ask yourself, "Why do I do these things?" to which you will quickly reply, "I don't really know." But since when was the purpose of sin to be understood? Sin exists for one reason: to kill you secretively. When all of the other "reasons" we ascribe to it fall away, it's okay to say, "I don't know," because that's the moment you realize you've fallen and need help to rise to your feet again.

Don't panic. You can rise to your feet again. To do that, we must latch on to God's hand. Sin's purpose may be to kill you, but your purpose is to kill sin, and the victory is already won. We often define our chances in life as the sum of our sins and insecurities, but these things are small, and they collapse eventually -- the Lord doesn't. Don't tell God how big your chances are; tell your chances how big your God is.

"For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." -- Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 NIV)

Excuses -- Part 3: Laying Down the Crutches by Michael Nichols

By the time the night was in full swing, I didn't even want to leave the floor. Now, I wanted to make every excuse I could to stay there, to keep dancing. I didn't want to stop. Why would I want to stop? At first, I was so uncomfortable, but it didn't bother me so much.

People usually associate being uncomfortable with a bad ending. Change, however, isn't always bad -- oops! I forgot to ask: did you know that when you encounter something uncomfortable, you are bracing yourself for change? It's true, I promise. You are bracing yourself for change. Does that always mean things are going to change? No. If something does change, is it always bad? Not even! I know how to dance now -- well, a little, at least -- and I made a friend!

By the way, after that night, I started pushing the envelope more. I started taking more risks, but good risks -- the kind that you know will be worth it in the end... and I didn't want it to end. I mean that. I didn't really want that night to end, and I didn't want to lose the new vitality I had found. At the time, I didn't even consider it as an option. The unfortunate truth is that it is an option, but on the flip side, that means that I choose whether or not to give it up, and guess what! WHY SHOULD I?

We are tossed into life like groomsmen and bridesmaids on a massive, fast-paced dance floor, and why for a second should we not dance? Why shouldn't we show them all what we're made of? Why shouldn't we say what's on our minds, love without remorse, fight without despair? Why shouldn't we get out of our beds, glance but once at the crutches we've collected, then RISE AND WALK? I can guarantee you that nothing worth chasing will be found sitting down but rather running rampant, enjoying life, living and breathing the promise of God, speaking hope to the hopeless, heart to the heartless, and that if anything is sitting down, making excuses for their misery and the misery of others, that a part of them is teeming with life, ready to burst...

... so give them an excuse. :)

Excuses -- Part 2: The Loss of Feeling by Michael Nichols

Sometimes, following a trauma that strips one of the use of his legs, he can regain that ability. Other times, it is gone forever, and that is beyond our control, in which case we are not to blame, but what if you were to simply give up and not even try to restore the use of your legs? What then?

Making excuses works the same way. It always starts somewhere, with some reason, be it within or without your control. But then comes the time to decide to recover, be it possible.

Let's go back to the night I learned to dance. It was fantastic! It was fun! It was phenomenal! But what if I had made up some excuse to not dance with her? What then? Well, for the record, I did. I told her I didn't know how, but my untaught feet weren't going to stand in the way. I was nervous. If I remember it right, I told her as much. (The way I see it, when you expose your weaknesses and fears, you take ownership of them, and that's the first step in overcoming them.) So did I make excuses? Absolutely yes, but she wouldn't take "no" for an answer, and that was the best part.

Where I had let fear become a crutch, she taught me how to walk, and in a way unlike I'd ever walked before. The end was worth burning through the fear.

In the end, I had no good excuse not to dance with her, and she basically, in a roundabout way, called me out on that (and it restored my faith in people a little, but that part wasn't really the point.) Had she not done that, I wouldn't have the awesome experience and memories that I do now, and I would still have a lot of barriers up when it comes to doing things I've always wanted to do was had been too afraid of ridicule to step out on a limb and do them. I would have been subject to atrophy, and I would have missed so many things between then and now, good things.

It all came down to a choice. She chose persistence, and I chose to go along with it. Every time you make an excuse or don't, you make a choice, whether that choice is part of a habit, an addiction, a lifestyle, or just whether or not you know how to sing or dance or draw or paint or write and anything. That is the beauty of it. You can choose to change your life, to live unafraid, to see your scenes in a different light. That is the beautiful part.