A recent television series called MY STRANGE ADDICTION features tortured folks with varied compulsions such as bathing in bleach, collecting dead things, or ingesting chalk. Each episode gives curious viewers a glimpse into the lives of those with unusual habits. Sadly, these addictions are not habits that give people a full, rich, healthy life.
In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul details the human conflict between living according to the temptations of our sinful nature. Far from casting stones at the sins of others, Paul said, "So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."
The Greek word sarx,
which Paul uses for sinful nature, is also the word translated elsewhere as "the flesh." Paul is contrasting the life controlled by a mind set on the flesh with one controlled by a mind set on the Spirit. Paul recognizes that a life driven by the carnal yearnings -- whether bodily for pleasure, food, or sex, or emotionally for status, power, or control -- contradicts God's law.
Pitting body against spirit was typical of ancient Greek thinking. Sadly, centuries later many Christians are still tempted to view the body itself as bad. But that's not what Scripture is saying. In fact, as part of Paul's argument he reminds his audience that God's own Son was in the "likeness" of sinful flesh in order to be a sin offering on our behalf.
It's not the body
that is bad, but rather it is the life that is controlled by the desires of the body that kills. To be "obligated" to the flesh, Paul says, is to die. To live a life driven by the Spirit is to live!
This post is taken from Today in the Word.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
For three years, the disciples watched Jesus live His life, and never once did He crack or bend. He would break the rules of the religion when love or compassion demanded it. He frustrated His critics when He encountered misplaced spirituality. He was not intimidated by authority figures. He was not swayed by public opinion or pressure from authorities. He would not cave.
On the night before He died, Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him when He was deeply distressed. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow and troubled,"
He told His friends.
Jesus knew what was coming. But instead of longing for a way out, He committed His heart to God's purposes. Just seconds before His arrest, Jesus exclaimed to His friends, "Get up! Let's go!"
He accepted and moved forward to embrace God's purposes.
On that dark evening, the most important thing Jesus might have shown us was how to completely let go of our our hearts to God. But He also stiffened His spine. Spine comes from undivided trust in the One who gives us the undivided heart. There is no sadder or more pathetic man than the one with heart but no spine. Be courageous.
This posts is taken from Every Man, God's ManBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Today we are concluding our discussion of bad boys
with the Chaotic Religious Bad Boy. This man has had repeated false starts and failures in his life. He may also have impulsivity in various parts of his life: spending, sex, gambling, substance abuse, shoplifting, overeating or intentionally punishing himself. He will often have outbursts of intense anger and frequent episodes of a lack of control.
He has a severe identity problem. He may have turbulent shorts of mood ranging from depression to anxiety to irritability and rage. These moods may last from a few hours to a few days with a quick return to a seemingly normal mood. He is intolerant of being alone and frantically tries to find someone to be with so that he will not be depressed. He thinks of his life as being chronically empty and boring.
In church, he will have many people to whom he frantically appeals. There may be from two to twenty people who are seeking to "help" him. He is a topic of frequent conversation among these people, talking about his latest episodes of terror: self-multilation, suicidal gestures, accidents, or fights. Church for this bad boy is not about intimacy with God. Rather, church is a place where there are numerous people who protect him from being alone. When he becomes frantic about being alone, several people in the congregation will be called in rapid succession.How can the church help the Chaotic Religious Bad Boy?
The whole church can become emotionally exhausted after several crises. The spiritual dilemma of caring for these men is knowing how to be a steadfast, sustaining person and at the same time maintain realistic but considerate limits on his demanding nature.
Therefore, a quiet, patient, persistent quest to help them know the mind and purpose of God in his life, sustained and enriched by the assurance that he is a beloved Child of God, who has a meaning, a purpose, a place, and a loving use for his, is the overall strategy in the church's care of him.
The church needs to be a steadfast community of faith questing with him for growth in his emotional and spiritual life. We need to be a community of encouragement and celebration with him as he gets his life together in God's presence.Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The overscrupulous religious bad boy
is a leader who sucks energy from various members of the church. With his endless observations about himself and others, he drains joy from the congregation. Additionally, he is always seeking advice and reassurance, mostly for trivialities.
Further, this bad boy is stingy with his emotions and material possessions. Money often becomes a battleground for him. He insists that the church does things his way and is unaware of the rage he provokes in others when their plans are set aside on behalf of his nitpicking demands.
Unfortunately, this bad boy often ends up as the church treasurer or runs church meetings and runs these meetings strictly by the latest edition of Roberts Rules.
He will argue points of order, procedures and motions so that the point of the meeting becomes lost and the members are frustrated. He fails to see the humor in many situations.
This bad boy can also take on the role of being the person who notices every tiny infraction by church members. The overscrupulous Christian bad boy engages in biblical nitpicking and tends to use certain sections of God's Word as litmus tests, passing judgment on the spiritual state of those who don't agree with his interpretation. Further, it is not uncommon for him to feel much anxiety about his Christian walk and worry about committing the unpardonable sin. How can the church help the overscrupulous spiritual bad boy?
The core concern to be addressed with him is "what is your God like?" This man tends to have a Pharaoh for his god. God, from his perspective, is one who is perpetually demanding of him. The whole perception of a God of deliverance from the slave pits, One who can release him from the burden of guilt, shame and sin, a God who has a "wideness in His mercy" and whose love is broader than than he can perceive -- is the message we want to convey by our presence and our responses to these burden bearers who take on the world's load. Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
This bad boy
has had a troubled life. He has experienced outright rejection, ridicule, depreciation denigration, belittlement and humiliation. These forms of verbal abuse were experienced at an early age causing an emotional disability, learning to expect the same behavior from everyone. Hence, he stays out of the way of possible rejection and humiliation. What makes him a bad boy is that he assumes that he is not worthy of esteem from others. He assumes that the world is a harsh place; he has concluded long ago that life is hard to bear. He is filled with a mixed bag of emotions: sadness, anger, loneliness and feelings of alienation.
In the church, this bad boy really believes he is bad. He sees the world as unjust. He expects the church to be just like he has experienced all his life. Therefore, when he senses any slight or sense of injustness, he quickly backs off and starts to speak of the church as being no different than the world. He quickly proclaims to people in the church, especially newcomers, that "this church is no different." You would think that these feelings would cause him to stop serving in the church but this sense of martyrdom keeps him coming back and verifies his negative feelings which results in negative reactions to him which results in more negative feelings, and on and on. He is caught in a cycle. What can the church do about this avoidant religious bad boy?
To be a source of slowly growing hope that encourages the beginning of trustworthy feelings is the starting point for helping him change. To do this, clear covenants carefully kept and open to being tried and tested are necessary. As he attempts to break these covenants, we can sustain our relationship by seeing it as a test, not as a personal rejection. Yet, being careful not to promise too much is likewise important. Jesus' wisdom of the invitation, of standing at the door and knocking, of waiting for an invitation, of living in the day that is at hand with no thought of tomorrows, certainly speaks to this bad boy more than do any pressured tactics. Much thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Having just taken a 3-day break from posting about religious bad boys, we now are at RELIGIOUS BAD BOYS
- PART DEUX. The four bad boys this week are less dramatic in their presentation and it's a bit harder to ferret out their behavior but they can still be damaging to a church body.
The passive-aggressive religious bad boy has a negativistic or oppositional personality. He has many ambivalent and contradictory behaviors. In the church, this man may be chosen to chair a committee but may never get around to having meetings and misses deadlines.
There are two characteristics that are important to consider with this bad boy:
1) a time awareness that focuses on the present moment and deletes memory of past mistakes, ignoring the foresight required for planning, calculating risks, and anticipating upcoming threats to the church, and
2) a passive refusal to accept the instruction, discipline, and sacrifice in earning credentials for getting ahead in a culture that values greatly things such as college degrees and professional competency and licenses.
The passive-aggressive religious bad boy is essentially unwilling to choose a teacher or a friend from whom he can learn. He believes that he can pick up things from experience, on his own. He is willing to accept money and other favors from people in authority but unwilling to accept consultation, instruction, warning or admonition.
He carries a persistent mode of never having any good luck. If a specific situation does not turn out right, it is because other people have let him down, did not do what they said they would do, or were plainly not doing their job right. He is unwilling to be responsible for their own actions.
This bad boy is a "yes, but..." man. He may courteously agree that your ideas are good but then begins to point out all the hindrances one might encounter. Or he may quietly agree but then procrastinate, dawdle, forget, and finally miss out on the opportunity until it is too late. In other words, he lets life pass by default.
When the opportunity is past, he becomes morose and sullen can be impulsive, unpredictable and explosive. He then makes impulsive changes and drags his family and friends (and sometimes his church if he is a church leader) into surprising and dramatic changes. He may buy or sell property, or spend money inordinately which reveals his great impairment of judgment. How can the church help the bad boy?
Underlying his behavior is a fear of making a mistake, trying to be perfect but knowing that he cannot. Hence, he usually doesn't follow thru with decisions. To help him find confidence, we need to develop a program of close supervision over a period of time. He needs small successes that lead to larger successes.
This man needs to recognize the voice of God's Holy Spirit, learning to act upon these promptings immediately. We can lay a gentle but firm hand of encouragement on his shoulder and be a Barnabas, a person of encouragement.Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I will heal their waywardness and love them freely.
Waywardness is a turning away from what is in our best interest and following depraved, capricious inclinations. There are many ways in which waywardness can be expressed. Some of us are openly rebellious. We flaunt our wild behavior and laugh at God. Others of us are quietly wayward. We try to appear compliant and good but we are self-reliant and defiantly independent.
No matter how we express our waywardness it is a destructive force in our lives. In our attempts to protect ourselves from any further pain we turn away from God and from others who love us. We shut them out. And we shut out their love. As a result, we close ourselves off from what we want and need most desperately in life - to be known and loved.
God promises to heal our waywardness. God understands that our turning away is the result of some deep wound in us. God sees this. God knows. God promises to heal us by loving us freely. When we close the doors of our heart, God does not stop loving us. Instead God continues to love us generously and completely. God will love us freely until our fears are gone and our defenses can come down. God will love us freely so that one day we will be able to give up our waywardness and allow ourselves the joy of being loved.
Heal my waywardness, Lord.
When I turn away from you,
love me so that I will return to you again.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.
We've discussed adultery
Today, we conclude this three part series on Galatians 5:19 with a look at lasciviousness. This strange word, comes from the Greek word aselgeia
. This word describes excess, but it primarily refers to the excessive consumption of food or wild, undisciplined living that is especially marked by unbridled sex. The word aslegeia
is listed as the principal sin of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
and the reason that God destroyed them.
It must be noted again that the word aselgeia
also refers to the excessive consumption of food. This means that in God's mind, it is just as perverted to overindulge in food as it is to engage in sinful sexual activities! So how does that make you feel about overeating?
All of the works of the flesh can be forgiven -- but before forgiveness comes, sin must be acknowledged. That is why we must understand what adultery, uncleanness and lasciviousness mean. Once sin is comprehended, it can then be repented and confessed. This is God's requirement.
If you have fallen into any of these sins, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see these sins as He sees them. Once you get a revelation of His perspective, you won't want to be the same! You'll understand the grossness of sin in God's sight, and you will want to be changed!
Once you confess your sin, God will forgive you and you can move on with your life. If your actions have violated your spouse or someone else, pray for God's mighty grace to be upon them to forgive you
. Then begin to take whatever steps are necessary to make that relationship healthier than ever before.
This study is taken from Sparkling Gems from the GreekBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do.
"Sit down and eat your chicken, rice, green beans, and salad." One father saying these words to his child might mean: "You've eaten so little today. I am telling you to sit down at this dinner table and eat the amount and kinds of food that will nourish your body." The same words to a different child might mean something else, however. The exact same command might mean, "You have already eaten so much junk today! I am telling you to sit down at the dinner table and eat the amount and kinds of food that will nourish your body."
The words of Jesus, above, about instructions on fasting might mean something different to Jesus' first audience than for us today. Though the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
was the only requisite day for Jewish fasting, the faithful would also fast for various occasions including mourning, repentance, or even national penitence. Some would make a great show of their fasting to be seen by others; they would look unkempt and even don pale makeup to emphasize their pallor. Jesus exhorted these people to freshen up. Fasting, which is invisible to others, Jesus promised, is recognized by God.
What's striking from a 21st century perspective is that Jesus assumes His audience is fasting! Fasting wasn't an ancient regulation with no bearing on the Christian life. Rather, the message for believers today is that God recognizes the heart of those, who, discreetly forego food or drink, or Facebook, or Twitter, or television in order to focus their attention on things of God.
Jesus' word to us today about fasting might remind us to take up this practice in order to deepen our relationship with God. We do this to please our Father, not to impress anyone around us by our show of holiness.
This post was taken from Today in the WordBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The anti-social bad boy
places high value on being tough, thick-skinned and powerful. He wants people to fear him. You may look at that statement and ask, "come on, we could spot this guy a mile away, there's no way he could be a church leader!"
You could be surprised. Who wouldn't admire a church leader who plunged himself into opposing anti-Christian causes that many would rather ignore? A pastor who regularly speaks against the ills of our society with a militant vigilantism? A leader who fears nothing and no one? He is always on the news, internet and/or local paper as the man to go to for a Christian opinion, drawing headlines and attention? This man is attractive, manly and assertive. He draws people thru his strength, his ability to gain followers.
What is he like behind the scenes? Thinly veiled as Christ-like behavior, he is self-reliant, full of energy and hardheaded. Intimidation is his first tool of choice in relationships. The anti-social bad boy uses his powers of debate, exclusion and inclusion, and theological name-calling to express toughness. He loves a good fight (in Christian circles, this is called deep theological discussions). He is very good at thinking on his feet, flying by the seat of his pants.
This bad boy lives by the motto, "I don't get angry, I get even." In church settings this vindictiveness appears under a social mask. He may appear to be very suave, sincere and adult. However, his inner circle (the boards, committees and staff that he intimidates), his confidants, carry out his vendetta. These people don't want to cross him. He claims that most people are devious and punitive and this justifies his own mistrustful, hostile and vengeful attitudes by ascribing them to others. People are not to be trusted until they have proven thru repeated testing that they are loyal.
Manipulation and coercion become his tools of conquest. If acting gracious, cheerful and charming will maneuver and subjugate, he will do so. He may have the motto, "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission" and just does what he wants. If such behavior fails, frustration of his will to power easily turns into furious, vindictive attacks. The people & institutions around him become tools of power. Christianity and its pieties are subordinated to the iron necessities of his personal need to control.
He will kiss those above him and kick those below him. When he arrives at his temporary pinnacle (he always wants a more powerful pinnacle) the people beneath him are there to minister to him. He spends his time, energy and attention in feathering his nest and maintaining his position of power.How can the church deal with the anti-social religious bad boy?
The anti-social Bad Boy assumes he is clever and you are stupid. A frank, direct, unequivocal "no" tells him that you will not be manipulated, maneuvered, or used. Jesus reminded us to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves
in the face of such men. A refusal to be frightened by threats and resistance with gentleness and evenhanded good humor destabilizes him. He needs to learn what Paul Tillich says, "faith in God's love means that we can accept being accepted though we know we are unacceptable."
He needs to learn the discipline of considerateness. Gentleness can be learned. Gentleness and self-control are two hallmarks of a person who has God's Holy Spirit indwelling.
He needs to learn a childhood lesson that he obviously missed. In anger we are to be as children. Children don't let the sun go down on their wrath. It's only from older people that that children learn how to carry a grudge, how to plan to get even, and how to be vindictive. In our interactions with the anti-social bad boy, gentleness is our greatest strength
. It confuses and ministers to him because it is a different pattern of living. Living the adage, "He who is genuinely strong has no fear of being gentle"
will eventually, with his willingness to let God work in him, bring about the needed change.Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.