Eternity

Dear George,

The Bible says “The wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23a) which means not just dying physically, but eternal death and punishment. Rev 20:11-15, “…And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done…Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire…”

The only recourse for us is the other half of Rom 6:23, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Also note, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” John 1:12.

Jesus said multiple times things like, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:12. 

1 John 2:3-6 “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

George, you must be characterized by obedience to God. You must display love for him, or for your wife. You must display immediate conviction for your sin or a desire to repent and make things right with God and those you sin against. You need to take some time daily and deeply consider where you will spend eternity based upon having received Christ as your Lord, your Savior, your Master, your Deliverer, and everything else he is to those who love him.

Decide today whom you will serve, and do not harden your heart!

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Note to Self

Dear George (note to self),

You are personally responsible for everything you do, to the God who created this universe. The Bible says every idle word we speak will be called to account at the final judgment, saved and unsaved alike.

Jesus stated very plainly that if you love him and love God, you will keep (attend to carefully, take care of) his commands. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” John 14:23,24

All of his commands are written down in the Bible. It is your personal responsibility to learn what his commands are, and to decide all on your own to obey him. When you choose to disobey God, that is sin, and shows a lack of love for him. Jesus was tortured and died to pay the price for every single time you disobey God.

A lifestyle of sin demonstrates that you don’t love God, and are not a Christian. A Christian is deeply convicted over sin and (as a result) changes lifestyle to stop that sin (maybe not overnight). Life is a long process of becoming sanctified, changing to be more and more like perfect Jesus. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5

So, it is not anyone’s job but your own to keep you pure. Other people can help, and the Holy Spirit is with every Christian to remind us of God’s commands in scripture. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

God gives us all the grace (spiritual strength) we need to obey him. “Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,” Romans 1:5

At the end of it all, though, it is still an individual choice every time to obey God (or not).

Openness, Brokenness, Freedom

I have been part of Whatever It Takes Ministries pretty much since the beginning. The main motto is Open, Broken, Free, referring to how being open about sin in my life leads to my being a broken (humbled) man, free from bondage to hidden sin.

Originally, I had the idea that this was a point-in-time occurrence. I could confess everything, get all my garbage out in the open. Then I would be like some of the men I knew, who talked about an experience of being totally broken before the Lord, on my face and weeping, a cathartic instance of becoming (in one fell swoop) a broken man. All of this would set me completely free from all temptation and bondage to sin.

I did the “open” bit in 2005, when I came clean with my wife, boss, pastor, oldest brother and sister, and a lot of other people. I wept before God and my wife as a “broken” man. I did break free from the bondage of masturbation which had ruled me for 28 years. However, that short period of being open and broken did not set me free for the long term, and within a few months I started back into pornography and hiding my sin. I finally got caught almost a year later and had to start over…

So, now I have a different perspective. Open and Broken is a start, but it is not enough. Instead, it must translate into a lifestyle of Openness and Brokenness, leading to an ongoing Freedom from slavery to sin.

Openness is the theme of 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” ESV‬‬. Note that it is a walk, an ongoing thing, not a point in time. Whenever I stop practicing openness, I lose fellowship with God, with my wife, with fellow Christians.

Brokenness, in my opinion, is best shown by “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus didn’t just humble himself once, but He lived a life of doing the Father’s will and not His own (as Jesus made clear in the Garden of Gethsemane). Walking in Brokenness is decision by decision, choosing to obey God rather than sin.

Living in Openness, walking in Brokenness, perforce leads to a life of Freedom from bondage to sin.

As stated multiple times in Romans chapter 6, Jesus’ death and resurrection not only took the punishment for our sin, but also set us free from sin. If you are not a Christian, you are still a slave to sin. If you are a Christian, you have absolutely no excuse to continue a life of sin.

May God bless you and keep you, and may you live a life of Openness, Brokenness, and Freedom.

George

BROKEN? I DON’T THINK SO

“…love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or proud. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.” 1 Corinthians 13:4,5 ESV

Last Sunday, August 23, 2015, I came face to face with how little I really love God and my wife and family.

As I told some of my close friends, when confronted with how poorly I have been treating my daughter…

“Instead of humbling myself and letting the Holy Spirit rule my tongue, I spoke completely in the flesh and spewed a lot of venom at [my daughter] and [my wife]. All my pent-up selfishness and resentment and blaming others and all kinds of junk came forth. Wagging my finger at [my wife] and telling her it’s her fault I’m shut down emotionally. Telling [my daughter] she’s irresponsible and lazy and making her feel worthless. A comment [my daughter] had for me later was “I feel like you destroyed the part of me that for so long has been your little girl.” [My wife] said for the first time in all our marriage regret entered her mind and heart.

I don’t know if our relationship will recover. The only hope is for me to truly love God, and then [my wife] and my family. I am lazy, and I don’t pursue God. I don’t do the hard things. But I have to change that.”

So, am I a broken man? I guess, in the area of sexual immorality, I have brokenness in that I allow the Holy Spirit to rule over my flesh in that area when temptation comes along.

How about the verses above?

I certainly envy and boast a lot. I can’t let one of my kids be the center of attention – I have to come up with something from my distant past to prove that I am at least as good or as cool. I can’t just praise them.

Arrogant? Definitely! Rude? Certainly! I talk down to my wife, children, co-workers, just about everyone. Not consciously most of the time, though I can be cruel in doing so when I get going.

I insist on my own way often, usually through passive-aggressive means, whether at home or work. I pout, or put on the martyred look.

Irritable? Always! Especially when I get pushed to do something I don’t want to do, or when my direction is suddenly changed by other needs (unless I get to jump in and be a hero, which stokes my ego).

Resentful? I gave my wife and older children an earful of how resentful I am that I have put in so much hard work over the years to give them everything they want, only to receive ungratefulness in return. What a joke! The main thing they really wanted was ME, being engaged in their lives and eing there for them instead of running off to serve everyone else, since it is easier and more gratifying to serve outside the home, in a way more people will see.

My wife says she wants me to BE, not to DO. To BE a man of God, a man in love with God. I can see so clearly how I have failed.

Time to CHANGE!

WHAT DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE?

What do you think…is God really involved in our daily lives? Is He really like the God described in the Bible, or has He backed off, and doesn’t get all that involved in our world? I have heard that latter opinion all too often, and it was a major stumbling block in my own battle against bondage to sin.

If you have a hard time seeing God as described in scripture, therein lies your most basic problem – you don’t really believe in the God of the Bible. Rather, you believe in a God who is shaped by your intellect, by what you think of Him, by what you perceive Him to be.

Your actions will show that you don’t fear God as much as you fear the opinion of people directly around you (and, conversely, you don’t hunger for His approval like you hunger and thirst for people’s approval).

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.” (Ephesians 6:5-8 ESV)

God is the God of the Bible, regardless of what you may think or believe about Him or His involvement in your life.

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?“(Numbers 23:19 ESV)

Adam and Eve shook off God’s authority because they wanted to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil, and they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil to become like God. It didn’t work out so well for them.

The only way to be truly free from bondage to sin (anger, adultery, fornication, lies, covetousness, etc.) is to put ourselves back under God’s authority, to allow Him to be God in our own lives instead of stubbornly wanting to decide for ourselves what role He is to play on this earth.

So, you have to decide. Are you going to acknowledge that God IS, that He is everything the Bible says, and bow your will to His will like Jesus did right before His crucifixion? Or, are you going to be like those described in Romans:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:21-25 ESV)

I never could break free from bondage to hidden sin until I truly started to fear God more than the opinions of people around me, and determined to seek His will and do it, no matter how painful, Whatever It Takes!

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death.” (Revelation 12:11)

May you fully acknowledge the grace of God and the blood of Christ to truly set you free,

George

UPCOMING WHATEVER IT TAKES EVENTS

Marriage Intensive
Asheville, NC
March 12-15

We are only 2 weeks away from the upcoming 4 Days 2 Oneness Marriage Intensive.  We still have a few spots remaining.  If you, or someone you know, would benefit from this weekend, please don’t delay.  Pass the word along and register today. Click Here or go to WITMinistries.com for more information.

4 Days 2 Freedom
Men’s Intensive
Tampa, FL
March 19-22

This is an added weekend due to January and February’s weekends filling up so fast.   These weekends continue to help men find freedom.  If you know someone who could benefit from this weekend, please pass this along.
Click Here

4 Days 2 Hope
Women’s Intensive
Blue Ridge, GA
(near Atlanta)
April 16-19

Come and meet God in the North Georgia mountains this spring. If you know someone who could needs hope,
please pass this along.
Click Here

BROKENNESS AND OBEDIENCE

Have you ever prayed, “God, please change me! Make me the man you want me to be!”?

I have. Plenty of times.

On one hand, God does change us – that’s progressive sanctification. Through trials, and renewing our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit, by knowledge and reproof and correction from His word.

On the other hand, the prayer is usually meant as, “God, please flip the switch in me that will suddenly take away all my temptation to sin. Please make me behave like a Christian!”

That version doesn’t really fit scripture.

Have you ever really read the Great Commission?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV) (emphasis mine)

Jesus states that He has given the apostles commands which are to be obeyed. He doesn’t say that people will be suddenly changed, and have no responsibility for how they live after becoming disciples.

Earlier, Jesus said:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36 ESV)

and

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments…Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him…Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.’” (John 14:15,21,23-24 ESV)

and

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 ESV)

God makes it abundantly clear throughout scripture, Old and New Testament, that He commands, and expects us to obey out of our love for Him.

THAT IS WHAT BROKENNESS IS ALL ABOUT!

Brokenness is not God forcing me into the image of Christ, so that in spite of my desire to sin He causes me to do what is right anyhow. Asking God, “Lord, please make me a broken man!” is like praying, “God, please force me to love you!” God wants loving, obedient servants, not blindly obedient robots. He wants the willing, voluntary slave, not forced labor.

Many times, when in the midst of temptation, I would pray, “God, please help me!” (meaning, “God, please intervene and do something to prevent me from committing this sin!”)

God’s response over the years has been, “I already have helped you. Jesus died to set you free from bondage to sin. Go read Romans 6 again!”

I am without excuse! God is the sovereign Creator of the Universe – He gets to set the rules! It is my part to love and obey.

The most beautiful bit, should I choose to accept it, is that God doesn’t just put it all on me to bear alone. As he says in Romans:

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 ESV)

and in John:

“’And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.’” (John 14:16-17,26 ESV)

He commands, He expects love and obedience, but He also gives us encouragement, reminders, and the power of the Holy Spirit living in us to conquer the nature of sin that still plagues us! (See Romans 8 and Galatians 5, for a start…)

So, when you are beset with temptation, and sin rears its ugly head, and you feel utterly hopeless and stuck in bondage, don’t shake your fist at God and ask Him, “WHY?!?” Instead, stare at yourself in the mirror, take a deep gut check, and admit that you are making a decision – whether you will a) draw on the power of the Holy Spirit and the finished work of Christ on the cross, and take the path of brokenness in loving obedience…or b) shake off God’s hand and take the path of disobedience, sin, and destruction. Every day. Every hour. Every temptation.

You have to decide.

The Love of God and the Peace of Christ be with you always!

George