Starting fresh

For the past couple of years I have had some form of hair on my face. Whether it's been a full beard, a goatee, or a soul strip, hair has pretty much been there. Last night, I shaved my beard completely off. My daughter Reynolds said, "Wow dad, your face feels just like mine."

It does feel slightly odd having a smooth face. Why did I shave it? I could say that I did it to give the Wake Forest basketball team a little mojo after their first loss of the season. Or it could be that I wanted my daughter Emme to finally be able to give her daddy sugar on the face (she won't kiss the beard). There are lots of possible reasons but I'm not sure any of those can take credit for being the main one.

Basically, I felt it was time to shave. But in a sense, it is kind of symbolic for me to do so. If the true test of a person is how they are when no one else is around (or when no on their own age is around), then I can honestly say that I haven't always passed that test. Being a husband and father and minister is hard and I'm like most other people - I can make it look really nice and clean on the outside. Yet there are times when no one else is around that I find my flesh wanting to play more of a role in my life than it should. Whether it is my temper, my impatience, or my selfishness, I blow it more than I care to admit.

I was reading in Romans last night when I came across this in Romans 6:2: "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" I caught myself asking that question to myself out loud, as if maybe someone else was going to walk in the room and answer it for me. Why do I still commit the same old dirty sins that I do if I am dead to them? This just baffles me!

The answer is actually not that difficult. Even though Christ indwells me, I'm still here too. If left up to me, I will often choose the selfish and sinful route. But you see, I also have a choice in this. Romans 6:12 says "Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires." Do not let sin reign. I have control through the power of Holy Spirit over who or what controls me. Sin is dead. It's been defeated. If it has control, it's because I let it.

The wonderful part of my salvation in Christ is that, when I do sin, I am forgiven. Clean slate. Fresh start. Nothing symbolic like shaving a beard or reciting some special code needs to be done. This fact doesn't give me the green light to sin all I want since I know I'll be forgiven (that's cheap grace), but what it does mean is that when - not if - I blow it I know that it's because I've chosen my flesh instead of my Father. But I still get to choose, I get a fresh start. And when the conviction sets in and the Lord shows me how I've erred, it's a no-brainer who I'm going to choose. I'm choosing a fresh start every time and I've got a smooth face to prove it.

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