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Summary: We all struggle with the sin in our lives. Some days we wonder how we will ever measure up to the standards that God has commanded in his holy word. Paul came to the conclusion that it is only through Christ Jesus our Lord that we can hold on and propse

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“Giving Thanks in the mourning”

The residents of Lane County, on the Oregon coast, woke up one morning to a devastating find. A forty-five foot, eight ton pacific grey whale had died and washed up on the beach near the town of Florence. It had been a while since such a large whale had washed up on the beach along this stretch of Oregon coastline. No one could remember the last time this had happened or what had been done the last time it had happened to remove the remains.

The removal task fell upon the Oregon Highway Department because they had jurisdiction over caring for and maintaining the area. They researched various ways to remove the massive remains including moving it in sections, which was too expensive, and burying it, which posed the problem of tempting the area scavengers to dig up the whale and create an even bigger mess. Finally the department came up with a plan. They decided to place explosive charges, 1000 lbs. of dynamite, in strategic places that would virtually disintegrate the whale into very small pieces. The highway department thought that this action would also provide food for the seagulls and many of the indigenous crabs that inhabited the beaches. Indeed the seagulls could be observed hovering overhead all day as the engineers set and placed the charges. The engineer in charge of the operation, George Thornton, was confident that this solution would take care of the problem. The dynamite had been placed on the leeward side of the big creature so that most of the remains would be blown out to sea.

Well, the moment was at hand. Spectators and highway personnel were moved back ¼ mile away for safety. At the sound of the blast a huge cloud of sand and fire rocket upwards. Then you hear the amazed spectators shouting "Yayy!" and "Whee!" (Pause) Then, suddenly, the crowd’s tone changes. You hear a new sound like "splud" repeating over and over. You hear a woman’s voice shouting "Here come pieces of...MY GOD!" Something smears the camera lens. The excitement of the entire situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival as huge chunks of whale blubber fell everywhere. "One piece caved in the roof of a car parked more than a quarter of a mile away. Remaining on the beach were several sectors the size of condominium units. There was no sign of the seagulls, who had no doubt permanently relocated to Brazil.

Later an eye witness observer wrote: “I was there that day, on the dunes, over looking the beach. We were between the whale and parking lot. Parts flew everywhere, with some flying over our heads and one gigantic piece landed on a car. The owner said "What am I going to tell my insurance man?" He sure had a sick look on his face. Everything was very oily.”

It seems to me that even the best intensions the actions we take can go a-rye. We can experience unwanted results coming from the best made plans.

Why do things that are planned out so meticulously sometimes fail? Nothing is perfect in this world and nothing ever will be, until the world is redeemed fully by our Lord Jesus Christ at the end of time. None of us will ever reach the pinnacle of perfection until we are perfected by Christ. But, little miscalculations and omissions are not the point of Paul’s writing in Romans Chapter seven.

Paul is trying to illustrate the war of the will. In this passage Paul is describing the deep struggles that take place in the mature Christian and he is also speaking of the teachings that lead them into maturity, which is God’s Law. Spiritual formation begins in a person with awareness. As Christian’s begin to study and follow God they become aware that God has laws to obey. It is through the Law that we understand the expectations that God has for us in our relationship with Him and with each other. As our understanding deepens pressure builds up within believers as they attempt to measure up to these expectations. God gives us ways to cope as we continue on in our life journey.

Some Christians get stuck on the ascent to maturity. Has this ever happened to you? When this happens they often become frustrated and walk away from the call to move closer to Christ. Mike Yaconnelli addresses this situation in his book, “Messy Spirituality”. He writes: "I would like to add two words to our vocabulary of spiritual growth: stuck and unstuck. Most Christians consider being stuck a sign of failure or burnout, an indication that a person isn’t working hard enough on their spiritual life...The hidden assumption is, ’If you are stuck in your spiritual life, you aren’t doing something right, because dedicated Christians should never be stuck.’ Nothing could be more untrue. Actually, getting stuck is the prerequisite to getting unstuck. Getting stuck is a great moment, a summons, a call from within, the glorious music of disaffection and dissatisfaction with our place in life."

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