So often, a person only reveals a difficult period of his or her life after the event, while reflecting on the event. This is especially true of "testimonies" given at church. A person stands to thank the Lord for seeing her through a dark period of life; meanwhile, many people stare in wonder how most of the rest of us were unaware of her living through such an event. I, too, used to live a privatized life. If I was struggling through a rough patch in my life, I would keep it all to myself, unwilling to share my pain or difficulties. Part of the reason for my privacy was fear, part of it was shame, and another part was pride. I have decided not to live my life like that any longer. I intend on being transparent about my struggles. I think that in doing so I can honor the Lord, live a more honest and thus healthy life, as well as give comfort to anyone who may be experiencing the exact same feelings.Over the last month or so I have felt loneliness unparalleled -- never have I felt this lonely. This lonely period began when I discovered that the only friend I had (in my area) was not really a friend, in the true sense of the word. Our relationship, unbeknownst to me, has never been one of true friendship but of convenience. If this certain person could not find anyone else to spend time with, then I would do. I was unaware that our so-called friendship was in this sad state of affairs. Now, in other periods of my life, I would have responded differently to this tragic state. But at this vulnerable point in my life, when I most need a close friend (with whom I can spend time and confide and share my thoughts and feelings, as well as reciprocate), I am left all alone and very hurt. The friend I thought I had was not really my friend at all.I often picture loneliness as a chasm because that is how it feels -- like a space of emptiness that needs filling. "But the Lord should fill that chasm," some say. Well, that sounds nice; that sounds like the typical, Christian, spiritual-yet-superficial pat-answer to every situation. But I cannot see the Lord, nor can I audibly hear His voice, or hug or touch or punch and be playful with Him like I would a friend. The Lord gives us like-minded friends who can excite the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell (hopefully pleasant). "Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin" (Prov. 18:24 NRSV). In my present situation, little did I know that I had the former but not the latter. This present loneliness is also coupled with a deep sense of rejection. The one is as hard to bear as the other. What I am learning from this experience is how to choose a friend more wisely in the future. The saying is true: we cannot choose our family members, but we can choose our friends. Nor can we choose if or when loneliness will visit us: all of us, no matter our age or social status, are susceptible to a brief encounter with loneliness (or depression or rejection). Spouses and members of large families often sense loneliness as much as any single person; so the mere presence of people in our lives will not guard us from its grip.Some people, when experiencing loneliness or depression, merely endure it instead of praying or calling someone or watching a movie or going for a walk; they merely sit and endure the grief and pain, the emotional and mental torment. For some, enduring these times is all they can do; they feel paralyzed by their emotions or mental state.I know firsthand that there are many people in the world today, Christian and non-Christian, who are lonely and depressed. I know so because I receive their emails. None of us should deny the fact that at certain times in our lives we must drink the cup of loneliness. We do not like this cup. We try to avoid drinking the contents of this cup. But often we are forced to take this cup, press it to our lips, and drink.I think the aversion we sense to such an experience is natural. We should not feel guilty because we try to avoid feeling lonely or depressed. However, Henri Nouwen has some sound advice:Whenever you feel lonely, you must try to find the source of this feeling. You are inclined either to run away from your loneliness or to dwell in it. When you run away from it, your loneliness does not really diminish; you simply force it out of your mind temporarily. When you start dwelling in it, your feelings only become stronger, and you slip into depression. The spiritual task is not to escape your loneliness, not to let yourself drown in it, but to find its source.1Why finding the source of your loneliness is so very important, he admits, is because "it leads you to discern something good about yourself."2 For me, that goodness is grounded in the fact that I consider myself worthy of friendship, with much to offer a friend. I despise this loneliness because it reminds me that I actually have been rejected, and it hurts. During Jesus' darkest hours in the garden at Gethsemane (lit. "the place of pressing"), He confessed to being deeply grieved, to the point of death, praying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matt. 26:39). Do we not pray the same prayer when we are facing some of the darkest hours of our lives? We all want our respective cups to pass from us. This cup of loneliness is mine to drink for now. No one else can drink from this particular cup. I must drink it, and I must drink it alone. A time will come when the contents of this cup will be depleted. I can then wash the cup, dry it, and place it back into the cupboard. I look forward to that day. 1 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom (New York: Image Books, 1998), 36.
2 Ibid. This truly honest post was written by William Watson Birch. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/01/the-cup-of-loneliness.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I was talking to a gentleman at a bar and he made an interesting comment. "You know Sam that goes to your church? You should talk to him. He used to be one of the meanest men I've ever met." He proceeded to tell about some of Sam's antics. Some of Sam's antics were funny, some were off-color, and some were downright mean. I knew Sam came to our church but I didn't know him very well.
So, next Sunday, I found Sam after church and stopped him for a moment. I told him that I met a man earlier in the week who told me about him. I started to tell him a bit of what I heard and he interrupted me. What Sam said next startled me. He said, "Dale, I'm a Christian now. I am so ashamed of what I used to be. I was not a nice man. I cannot talk about it." Sam said this in such a manner that it was obvious that I had really hurt him. I quickly apologized to him and he excused himself.
Sam taught me an important lesson that day.
Do I take sin seriously?
Do I take my sin seriously?
On another occasion, I was having lunch with a friend who was a new Christian. In the midst of our conversation, he made this interesting comment, "As I grow in my faith, I learn how my past behavior, though forgiven, was shameful and wrong."
That's one of many reasons why I love hanging out with new Christians. They don't have all those defenses that "mature" Christians have.
My new friend taught me an important lesson that day.
Have I taken my sin seriously?
Am I truly repentant of what I have done in the past?
I'm not saying that I need to wallow in my past sinful behavior.
I'm not saying that I need to live a life full of guilt.
I just wonder if I take too many trips down memory lane, thinking about how much "fun" I used to have. Do I take too many fishing excursions, trying to recall my past sins positively?
Do I feel godly sorrow for my past?
Do I feel regret for my past behavior?
These men taught me that a real man faces his past and takes responsibility for his behavior. A real man is sensitive to God's work in his life. A real man doesn't recall past sinful behavior in a positive manner. A real man is a new creation. He adamantly rejects sin.
BE A MAN.
If you stumble into sin, believer, don't give up; don't allow hopelessness to consume you, the deceitfulness of sin to blind you, or the weight of shame to defeat you. In the morning and evening prayer we pray, in part, the following: "I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not fall" (Ps. 16:8
). Christ is
at your right hand, and this fall shall not be final for you; He took the final fall.
Yes, you may feel as though your worst day has cast a shadow over you that will never break to show the light of day, but, happily, you're wrong. God, in Christ, has declared you to be righteous (2 Cor. 5:21
). Of the righteous we read: "for though they fall seven times, they will rise again" (Prov. 24:16
NRSV). You will rise, friend, because Christ will lift you up. He took the ultimate fall in order that you should rise.
No one knows how many times I've had to encourage myself, thinking these thoughts, repeating the words of this post to myself. How I didn't play dead but arose from sin is a testimony to God's sheer grace. This post is as much an exhortation to myself as it is for anyone else experiencing difficulties or tragedies, whether self-caused or otherwise.
What do you do on the worst day of your life? Rise: not because you're inherently worthy of being named righteous. Rise because the one who took the ultimate fall declares you righteous. Rise because, though you sinned, though you deserve the fate of the wicked like the rest of us, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1
But rise, too, because you neither honor the Lord nor serve the body of Christ by remaining fallen. Don't play dead, possum. In Christ you have been made alive (Col. 2:13
). Play dead to your old, sinful nature or past. But in Christ, even when you sin, don't play dead -- don't remain defeated. In Him you are more than one who has conquered all spiritually negative realities (Rom. 8:37
). "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1
You can avoid re-offending others by rising, and thinking healthy, spiritual thoughts: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil. 4:8
). All offenses begin with thoughts. We are instructed to destroy arguments raised up against the knowledge of God.
But the apostle Paul also added, "We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle
raised up against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor. 10:5
NRSV, emphasis added). How many thoughts rise up against the reality of God's holy existence and righteous standards? We are taught to destroy such thoughts, to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5
I picture such thoughts as personified. I imagine capturing them, putting them into a prison cell, while Christ stands watch over them as Guard. If I fail to do so, then I may entertain such thoughts, have them affect me emotionally, and then obey them. When I obey them, I sin. "But one is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved" (James 1:15-16
But when you sin, no matter the degree, take it immediately to Christ. "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9
NRSV). Don't let sin drag you into a hopeless, despondent, dejected place, out of which you feel impossible to escape. By His grace and forgiveness you rise up, and you keep rising up. You don't rise up only once. You will need to rise up every time you fall.
More than that, you will need to rise up every time you think
about a past fall. Such thoughts about your past have a tendency to paralyze you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Paralyzed, you will play dead. No: in Christ you must rise up from the guilt of your past. Though you fall seven times a day, you will rise -- you must
rise (Prov. 24:16
The Lord foreknew every sin you would ever commit when He by grace through faith in Christ saved your soul. You don't ever take Him by surprise by any thought, desire, or action. In Christ He has already declared you holy, sanctified (set apart from the world and for His service and care), and righteous. You don't let Him down because you don't hold Him up.
You are becoming more and more like Christ (Rom. 8:29
), slow as such may seem, and your heavenly Father understands completely all of your eccentricities, particularities, and unique qualities. This is how, you see, you keep on rising. Give your defeats to the One who defeated sin, death, and hell (1 Cor. 15:56-57
; 1 John 3:8
). Give your hopelessness to the God of hope (Rom. 15:13
). Whatever you do, don't play dead, possum, but rise. This post was written by William Watson Birch. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/01/saturday-devotion-dont-play-dead.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
When I saw this photo of the It'll Do Motel, it reminded me of porn. This may be a fine hotel but it looks like those seedy hotels where porn ends up taking a man.
There was a man who was a Sunday School teacher and on his church board who struggled with porn. He would drive out of town, buy porn and then take it back to his garage where he would fantasize and masturbate. Then, in a fit of guilt, he would burn the porn in a "holy ritual" to get rid of porn's effects. He felt that he had his "addiction" under control because God revealed to him about how to perform this "holy ritual" so that he could still be a "man of God."
One nite, however, his "holy ritual" did not seem to remove his guilt. So, in his fervor, he drove around and ended up at a seedy establishment that promised sexual release. He went into this one room, by himself, where he was to stick a certain part of his anatomy into a hole in the curtain by the wall to be fellated. He imagined a young, beautiful woman on the other side and felt quite satisfied. However, as he was getting dressed, he saw a young man slipping out the side. He was struck with the thought, "what if that was the person and it really wasn't a young, beautiful woman?" The man felt totally devastated and decided that he needed to get professional help. He didn't realize that porn is insidious.
I would say that this man, once deciding to get professional help, did much better for quite a time.
Where did this man learn about porn? His story is consistent with most men's stories. Most men are introduced to porn by finding someone's stash.
He found his father's stash in the garage when he was young boy. It was "just car magazines" but he found himself attracted to the women who posed with these cars and was turned on by their provocative poses. As a young man, these magazines started a lifestyle of wasted time, energy and money, not to mention the toll on his spiritual life.
So, as a man, where are you? Are you looking at porn? Do you have a stash somewhere? Porn will win. It always does. It is stronger than a man's resolve.
I encourage you to get rid of that stash, find another man to be accountable to, talk to your pastor about your decision to get rid of porn. Then get into a men's group that talks about the tough things we men go thru and be open, transparent and accountable. Find a licensed Christian counselor and uncover your motivations so that you can, with God's help, kick porn to the curb.
Stop going to the It'll Do Motel and be a man of God. Go beyond It'll Do and be victorious. Don't squeak by, barely making it.
BE A MAN.
It seems to me that some people have more faith in their relationship with God than I do. I hear people talking about how God does special things for them. For example, I hear people say, "God made this sunny day just for me. I prayed that God would let the weather be nice and sunny and dry so that I would have a good day on my birthday." I think, "Really? God put in a high pressure system over where you are today just so you could have a good day?" I then imagine a farmer in the same region praying, "Lord, today, could you make it rain really good? My crops aren't doing well and they could use the moisture." So, now we have competing prayers. How does God know who to listen to?
I think I figured it out. God grades us on the number of good things we do. For example, yesterday I was kind to Karyn, freed a butterfly from a spider's web, petted a kitten and gave a dollar to a man who was homeless. Oh, and don't forget, I was nice to that rude waitperson at the expensive steak house (but he only got an 8% tip because he needed to know that behavior wasn't acceptable).
I feel really good about myself. Surely, God agrees. I am one righteous dude.
I am special. It's me and God and the rest of you can just go to hell. God listens to me before He listens to anybody else. After all the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
So, I've been really good, and do lots of good things. God will listen to my prayer first.
What I think I'm gonna do is rent myself out to the Indianapolis Colts so that I can pray for them to win. Why not put God's favor to my financial advantage? I'll just ask for a tithe of the amount of money that they earn for winning the Super Bowl. But don't worry, I'll tithe the money I earn for praying for them. After all, I don't want to get out of favor with God.
Then I got to thinking.... If that's the way God decides who is righteous, what is the cutoff score? What if God's rule is that I have to do 5 good things a day for 20 years in a row and I only did 4? I would have to catch up by doing one good thing a day for the subsequent 10 years. So, that means if I do 36,500 good things, I'm in. It's just God and me. But, what if my math is off and I figured out that 36,500 good deeds that was needed was wrong? What if I forgot about that one day where I was really, really sick and I only did 4 good things that day? I missed God's favor by one good deed! What am I gonna do?
Well, if the Colts don't win the Super Bowl, I'm gonna be sued for breech of contract.
You think I'm being sarcastic, don't you? Well, I hear Christians talk like this all the time. "I was stranded by the road and God sent a passerby who helped me. God is sooooo good!" What about the person who was stranded beside the road and was raped by a passerby? Is God sooooo good then? Maybe the rape survivor didn't do as many good things as the other person. So, we look askance at people when bad things happen to them and say to ourselves, "I wonder what they did to fall out of favor with God."
I just wonder if all this God is good. God loves me. God made the sun shine for me. Talk. Is appropriate for Christians.
By talking in such a manner, I wonder if we are turning people off to God.
The God's honest truth is that God doesn't grade, even on the curve. None is righteous, no not one.
So, what is the answer?
You can have two attitudes: God, I thank You that I am not like other people
orGod, be merciful to me, the sinner!
Which prayer do you think God listens to?
Jesus said, "everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
So, getting back to the original question, "How do you know when you are righteous?" I don't think you know when you are righteous.
But, I think this is true, "If you think you are righteous, you probably ain't."When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
A teenage actor from a popular CBS sitcom has denounced the broadcast that he has starred in for many years, stating that “a true God-fearing person” cannot be on such programs, and is urging viewers to stop watching “filth” on television.
Nineteen-year-old Angus T. Jones from “Two and a Half Men”
says that his newly-found beliefs are at conflict with the sitcom. Jones has played the young Jake Harper on the show since he was nine years old, but now states that he sees the material in a whole new light.
Jones explained that in his senior year of high school, he began feeling that he needed to get serious with God, and is now uncomfortable with the broadcast. “If you watch ‘Two and a Half Men,’ please stop watching it and filling your head with filth."
“I’m on ‘Two and a Half Men’ and I don’t want to be on it,” Jones added. “I’m not okay with what I’m learning and what the Bible says, and being on that television show.”
Jones continued to explain that the enemy of man’s soul works through various means, including through what some may believe is mere entertainment.
“People don’t like to think about how deceptive the enemy is,” he said. “He’s been doing this for a lot longer than any of us have been around. So, there’s no playing around. There’s no playing around when it comes to eternity.”
“Please do some research on the effects of television and I promise you you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to the television,” Jones advised. “It’s bad news.”
He outlined that he did not want to be used as an instrument of the devil.
“If I am doing any harm, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be contributing to the enemy’s plan,” he said. “You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that.”
The sitcom, produced by Chuck Lorre, centers around a man who was kicked out of the house after a divorce, and moved in with his friend. It originally featured Charlie Sheen, who was fired from the show after producers became concerned about his personal lifestyle, which they stated was “dangerously self-destructive.”
Sheen was then replaced by actor Ashton Kutcher after the writers wrote Sheen out of the broadcast through an episode that claimed that he was pushed in front of a subway by a girlfriend who believed that he had been cheating on her.
The sitcom is often filled with off-color jokes about sexual matters, such as an episode in which Kutcher states that he would willingly have sexual relations with any woman that would like to keep him company. Goes to show you. God is actively at work in this world.
It's never too late to do the right thing.
I'm watching this guy and praying for him that he will continue to seek God's guidance. Will you join me?
This blog post came from the Christian News Network. For the original post, go to: http://christiannews.net/2012/11/26/two-and-half-men-star-struck-by-fear-of-god-pleads-with-viewers-to-stop-watching-the-filth/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
“Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads
.” Nehemiah 9:1 (NKJV)
There are a couple of things we need to understand about this verse. The first is that their sorrow for sin is in connection with hearing the Law. In Nehemiah 8 the Law was read and explained to them. As the Law was preached they were made aware of their transgressions of God’s Law and this brought a deep conviction upon them. Conviction of sin is almost always connected to hearing God’s Word.
The second thing we have to notice is their response to this conviction. They assembled while fasting and wearing sackcloth and dust on their heads. This was all a sign of great mourning for their sin. When you read the Scriptures, particularly the Old Testament you find that the people fasted when they were mourning over sin. I’m not 100% sure of the significance of fasting when accompanying mourning unless it was to show that they were so distraught over their sin that they couldn’t even eat. The significance of the sackcloth and ashes was that of humiliation. They were showing outwardly what was going on inwardly. Inwardly they were so grieved over their sin against God that they were humiliated by it. So they demonstrated their grief and humiliation by wearing a burlap sack and putting dirt on their heads.
Biblical repentance always includes a godly sorrow for the sins committed.
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death
.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10 NKJV)
One of the things that’s important to take away from this passage is not all sorrow is a godly sorrow. The Bible says that there is a godly sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and salvation. There is also a worldly sorrow for sin that leads to death. We have to know the difference so that we can ensure that the sorrow we feel at our sin is the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation.
Let me take a minute and explain what godly sorrow is not. Godly sorrow is not being sorry you were caught. If the only sorrow produced in your life when you sin is a result of someone finding out about your sins, you are not genuinely sorry for your sins. You are sorry you got caught in your sins.
Godly sorrow is not being afraid God is going to punish you for your sins. If the only sorrow produced in your life when you sin comes because you are afraid that God is going to break your leg, burn down your house, do something to your children or do something else to punish you, you are not genuinely sorry for your sin. You fear God’s punishment. To fear God’s punishment and to be sorry for sin is not the same thing.
To be sorry you were caught or be sorry because you are afraid of God’s punishment are examples of worldly sorrow that leads to death. The reason they lead to death is because they do not really turn us to God and they do not produce a change in our lives. When someone is sorry they were caught they are only sorry and only pretend to change while the shame of being caught remains. Once the shame is over the change goes out the window and they go back to doing what they were doing only this time they are more careful.
When someone is sorry because they are afraid of God’s punishment they are only sorry and only pretend to change while the fear of punishment remains. Once the fear of punishment is gone the change goes out the window and they go back to doing what they were doing before.
Godly sorrow is very different from this. With godly sorrow we feel grief or sorrow for the sin committed whether anyone finds out or not. With godly sorrow we feel grief or sorrow for the sin committed whether God chastises us for that sin or not. Basically it means that you are sorry you committed the sin regardless of any other circumstances. It is to be sorry you have sinned against God.
In the world we live in one of the greatest crimes you can commit against humanity is to make someone feel bad about themselves. We live in a world where people feel they are entitled to always feel good. On the other hand the Bible teaches that if we sin against God, we won’t always feel good about ourselves because Biblical repentance always involves a godly sorrow for the sins we’ve committed against God.
This post was written by Rev Ross. You can find the original post at: http://stacyjross.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/sorrow-for-sin/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
During the First Great Awakening Jonathan Edwards preached his famous message Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God
. Reports from this time say that Edwards wasn’t an eloquent speaker. Instead of walking around and preaching with dramatic flair, Edwards looked down at his manuscript and read this sermon in a flat and monotone voice. The reports from this time also say that as Edward preached men and women would hold on to the posts of the church for fear of dropping into hell. Others would stop of their ears and run screaming out of the church. Undeterred Edwards kept preaching. Edwards ended his sermon with this appeal, “Therefore let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come
Flee they did. Many fell on the ground and cried out for Christ to save them. While there is no official number of salvations during this time most estimates put the number in the thousands. From what I’ve read few of these were the flash in the pan decisions that don’t last once the emotional fervor wears off. Instead most of those who were saved during the Great Awakening lived faithful Godly lives the rest of their days.
For someone who has never seen men or women respond to conviction as it is described about the Great Awakening I can easily find myself saying, “Ah I bet that’s not quite how it happened
.” The truth is though; there are Biblical examples of people responding in very similar ways. At the end of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost the Bible says the people were cut to the heart and asked, “…what shall we do
?” (Acts 2:37) The picture of being cut to the heart is very similar to what we hear about from the Great Awakening.
The question this leaves me with is why? Why don’t we see this sort response to conviction in our day? I’m convinced that one of the main reasons for this is that our culture has a low view of repentance. To many in our world repentance is simply asking God to forgive us for our sins, without any real plans to making the necessary changes in our lives that will prevent us from falling into that sin again. We are like a guy I saw in a movie once. He said something like, “I like to sin. God likes to forgive sin. It’s a very good arrangement
Biblical repentance isn’t just asking God to forgive us for our sins. Let’s be honest, we can ask for forgiveness and still remain unchanged. In Scripture we see several examples of people who confessed, “I have sinned
” and yet this really didn’t mean a thing to them. Let me remind you of a couple of these.
In the book of Exodus, Pharaoh was overwhelmed with the plagues that came upon him because of his hardened and sinful heart, and he cried out and said, “I have sinned
” (Exodus 9:7 and 10:16). But he didn’t really mean it because he never let the people go. In the book of Numbers, the heretical prophet Balaam said, “I have sinned
” (Numbers 22:34), but his repentance wasn’t sincere because he still tried to help Balak cause the destruction of the Israelites.
In the book of Joshua, Achan said, “I have sinned
” (Joshua 7:20), but it was too late; he said it only because he was caught and it did not represent heartfelt repentance. In the book of 1 Samuel, King Saul said, “I have sinned
,” (1 Samuel 15:24), but it did not come from a humble heart. He was still speaking in defiance and pride. In the book of Matthew, Judas said, “I have sinned for I have betrayed innocent blood
” (Matthew 27:4), but he didn’t really repent. Instead he went out and killed himself.
My favorite definition of repentance is that repentance is a change of mind about God and sin that results in a change of life
. Biblical repentance always brings about change in our lives. Repentance involves total change in the direction of our lives. We turn from our sin and we turn to God with the intention of forsaking the sin and serving God. This will obviously require more from us than shedding a couple of tears and asking God to forgive us. It will require a total change in our outlook, our expectations and our commitments.
When you read the Bible and see the messages of John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul you don’t find a shallow view of repentance. Jesus called on repentant people to deny themselves, take of their cross and follow Him. John the Baptist and Paul both called on people to repent of their sins, believe the Gospel and then do works that demonstrated their repentance.
Another way we see this shallow view of repentance is in the way that it’s almost seen as optional by many in our day. In fact there is a whole movement of people who teach that repentance is not necessary at all at any time in your life. I personally find this attitude fascinating considering that in Luke 13 Jesus says “Lest you repent you will likewise perish
.” Jesus didn’t get the memo that people didn’t have to repent and so He went around and commanded people to repent. Not to mention that in Acts 17 we are told that God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
This may lead us to wonder what Biblical repentance looks like. That’s what I’m going to talk about tomorrow.
This post was written by Rev Ross. For the original post, go to: http://stacyjross.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/repentance/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Are you, believer, the sum total of your actions or choices? Does behavior always follow beliefs? Who are
you? What defines
defines you? Who do you allow to define you? How we answer these questions individually will, no doubt, vary; but answer them we must, at some time and in some manner, if we are to understand not only who we are but whose we are.
After the LORD had graciously caught me in my sin, I remember an officer telling me, after I had quite the breakdown in front of her:
"This act does not define
you. This is something that you did
, not who you are
." I was not expecting her to tell me that, and I will not soon forget it.
I have come to learn that many times our various behaviors and decisions do not always consistently follow our beliefs. We can be quite inconsistent creatures. We can believe and reason in one manner, holding tenaciously to our beliefs, and then behave in the exact opposite manner, thus betraying our beliefs.
Some people often quote Proverbs 23:7
from some semblance of the King James Version: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is
he." Contextually, however, that is not a proper concept, and there are better translations which accurately capture the essence of this proverb: "Do not eat the bread of the stingy; do not desire their delicacies; for like a hair in the throat, so are they. 'Eat and drink!' they say to you; but they do not mean it" (Prov. 23:6-7
Or, for another example: "Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. 'Eat and drink!' he says to you, but his heart is not with you" (Prov. 23:6-7 ESV
). This man makes one statement with his mouth, but in his heart, he is not being honest. He offers a nice gesture, but he does not really want to grant the offer.
In other words, he appears genuine and generous, but inwardly he is uncharitable. What he feels and thinks inwardly is not how he appears outwardly. Others may think of him as generous and even thrust such an identity upon him. But generous is not his true nature; stinginess and greed are in his heart. When he appears generous, he is acting against his true desires.
Do you wonder what people think of you? Do you wonder what identity people thrust upon you? Those with low self-esteem believe people think very lowly of them. People who think much of themselves believe others think very highly of them. There may be a small amount of necessity as to what others think of us. "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold" (Prov. 22:1
NRSV). But who we are in Christ Jesus is what matters most.
Moreover, not who
we are but whose
we are is of utmost importance. Even if the societal perception of us is less than pleasant, God's perception of us is paramount. If we have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God views us as holy and blameless (cf. Eph. 1:4
). We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21
). What is the righteousness of God?
The word righteousness -- dikaiosuné
-- refers to justice, just or justness (link
). From the word dikaiosýnē
, it refers to being judicially approved, what is deemed right by the Lord and what is approved in His view. For all my wrongs, I am right from God's perspective, by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Though I have sinned, I am counted as sinless
Now that is an identity perspective in which I can rejoice! My past behaviors donot
define me, nor do they define you. I am not
the sum total of my respective decisions and actions from God's perspective, and in Christ neither are you. Moreover, I will not allow others to dictate my identity, and neither will you. Our actions are merely symptoms. Jesus is the solution and cure.
This post was written by William W. Birch. For the original post go to: http://www.wpfences.com/2012/10/actions-and-identity.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Last week was anti-porn week here at Ironstrikes. I hope that you were able to read about the five topics:1. Porn and sexual satisfaction2. Porn and fake relationships3. Porn and women4. Porn and cruelty5. Porn is insidious
Readers have asked about the Zillman-Bryant study from which these five posts were taken. In the early 1980s, Dr. Doll Zillmann of Indiana University and Dr. Jennings Bryant of the University of Alabama wondered whether continued exposure to video pornography had any impact on people's sexual beliefs and their attitudes towards women. For their experiment, 80 male and 80 female college-age participants were divided into three subgroups, and each group was shown 4 hours and 48 minutes of media.
1. The first group, the “Massive Exposure Group,” was shown 36 non-violent pornographic films over a six-week period.
2. The second group, the “Intermediate Exposure Group,” was exposed to 18 pornographic films and 18 regular films over a six-week period.
3. The third (control) group, the “No Exposure Group,” was shown 36 non-pornographic movies over a six--week periodYou may be saying, "that is an old study, what relevance does it have to today?"
At a 2011 conference, Dr. Mary Anne Layden commented about Zillmann and Bryant’s 25-year-old research. “When this study was done, what was called the ‘Massive Exposure Group" -- seeing five hours of porn over a six-week period -- "I now call that the Friday Afternoon Group."
Her statement is far from an exaggeration. A recent survey of 29,000 people at North American universities, shows 51% of men and 16% of women spend up to five hours per week
online for sexual purposes, and another 11% of men spend anywhere from five to twenty hours per week. What used to be “massive” exposure is now common practice.
Furthermore, the Internet has not only increased the public’s exposure to porn, but has also changed the way it is consumed. Dr. Jill Manning believes Zillmann and Bryant’s findings have greater
applicability in the modern age because Internet porn tends to be more interactive and consumer-driven. Viewers can select exactly who and what they want to see, custom-tailored to their greatest specifications.This week, I will be giving four solid tips in helping to curb your vulnerability to porn.
This post is taken from the booklet, YOUR BRAIN ON PORN
by Luke Gilkerson. The booklet can be found at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/brain-ebook/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.