RECONCILIATION AND SALVATION

Tom asked a question on another post, and I gave a lengthy answer which I want to repeat as a stand-alone post, because I think it is important.

Here’s what I said:

Sorry to take so long to respond. I wanted to make sure I got it right, and I am just taking some extra time to look up the verses that keep going through my mind.

First, I should be clear – being prepared for the day and the hour means being a true Christian. Salvation does not depend on anything other than faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement for my sin by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.

That said, James called it when he said, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18 ESV)

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) and “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

He also said, “So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24, emphasis mine)

So, that last verse is a command, and it involves loving God (worship) and loving your neighbor. According to Jesus’ words, if you truly love Him (and by extension God), you will reconcile with others so that your worship of God will not be hindered.

John said, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20, emphasis mine).

Scripture is clear. If we profess to be Christians, and thus profess that we love God, we must live that out by doing everything humanly possible to be reconciled with others (specifically, per the use of the term “brother”, other Christians – though we are also commanded to love our enemies as well).

So, husbands, so, wives, so, brothers and sisters in Christ – fervently, doggedly pursue reconciliation as proof of your profession of faith.

As Paul says in Romans, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (That is where I don’t want anyone to make an excuse, and say, “I tried to reconcile, but he/she wouldn’t…” unless you have really, truly, before God and man, made every possible attempt to reconcile).

Blessings,

George

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THE DAY AND THE HOUR

Folks love to quote Matthew 24:36, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the Angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

I propose to you that just a few verses later the Bible states exactly when Jesus is coming again:

“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭24‬:‭44‬ ESV)

When is it that no one really expects Him? NOW

I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t think he has at least one more Planck, or yoctosecond, or whatever, before Jesus returns.

The first part of the verse says we must be ready – we must be trusting in the Blood of Christ alone as the atonement for our sins, that sets us free from slavery to sin. We should be expectant as well, like the five wise virgins in Matthew 25. As Christians we are always looking ahead to Jesus’ return:

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (‭Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭20‬ ESV)

Yes, I am speaking a bit tongue-in-cheek…

But you should still be ready. For Jesus to come.

Now.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (‭Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭21‬ ESV)

– G

COURTSHIP OR DATING?

I read a Facebook post today which prompted me to write a response. I don’t often respond, and not at great length, but this post pushed a button.

The post was sharing one person’s viewpoint on why courtship doesn’t work, and why dating is much better: Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed

My response:

“The problem, in my opinion (just opinion, mind you) is not with courtship or dating, but in the modern view (both within and outside of Christian circles) of what marriage is for and about. Almost all of our society seems to view marriage’s purpose to be happiness and self-fulfillment. “Finding the right person…to love me for life.”

The bible describes marriage as the picture of Christ and his Church. It is all about self-sacrifice and glorifying God. Yes, you can find someone through courtship, or dating, or arranged marriage, or whatever. However, the relationships don’t succeed or fail based upon how you meet, but on how each person pursues God and His plan for marriage rather than their own happiness and their own plans for marriage.

I’ll get off my soap box now :-)”

Your thoughts?

G

MY OPINION RE: the BSA

I have been seeing a lot of articles lately regarding the likelihood that the Boy Scouts of America will succumb to outside pressure within a few years and allow openly homosexual men as leaders, to which I say…

POPPYCOCK!!!

……..

Ok, now that I have let it sink in for a moment or two, let me put it in context:

I was a Boy Scout from age 11 to 18.  At age 15, I attended Buckskin TLD at Camp Emerson in California.  Everyone just called it “Buckskin,” but the “TLD” stood for “Troop Leadership Development.” The program has gone through some name changes, but the training still exists with the emphasis on training troop leadership.

Think about it. I was in hard-core LEADERSHIP training. I was taught “Manager of Learning” (MOL) principles (look it up – not lightweight fluff), how to train younger scouts using a flip chart, how to lead songs around the campfire, how plan a camp menu…in short, how to LEAD a Scout troop.

Newsflash, folks – the BSA has already voted to allow homosexuals in leadership.  I held every leadership position available to a Scout under age 18 – Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster.  I have no distinct memories of witnessing homosexual behavior (though there was plenty of coarse jesting about it). I definitely was exposed to a lot more deviant behavior than my Scoutmaster was aware of, including pyromania and drug abuse.  I have a distinct memory of senior Scouts putting new members through “initiation” off in the woods, which included pain and humiliation (such as being hung from a tree by rope tied to their underwear).

I had two of the best Scoutmasters one could want – one of whom was my father, and another a solid Baptist who taught us to honor God. Even so, they were not the real “leaders” of the troop. By design, they were there to be mentors and facilitators to the true leaders – the older Scouts – and they could not keep tabs on every last thing that happened; especially at a Camporee or Jamboree with hundreds of other Scouts in attendance.

In short, I can only imagine what a 15- to 18-year-old homosexual Senior Patrol Leader might deem appropriate for “initiation,” or what might happen to an 11-year-old Scout out in the woods on his first trip far from home, all without any adult involvement or knowledge.

To reiterate, people no longer have to worry about the BSA allowing homosexuals as leaders – it is a fait accompli. “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Peace,

George

P.S. If you want an excellent father/son organization to join after leaving the BSA, give Alert Cadets a look.

JAMES 1

Jas 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

  • Hello to all who wander this way.  I haven’t written anything in a while, but tonight James Chapter 1 really grabbed me.

Jas 1:2  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

  • What is a trial, really?  Is it being away from home for two weeks on a business trip? Perhaps not being able to have my favorite latte arequipe because I’m bleaching my teeth? Waking up at 1:30 a.m. and having a hard time getting back to sleep?  I hardly think so, when I look at the trials Paul lists in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28.

Jas 1:3  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

  • I long for steadfastness in my life.  I have spent too long bouncing along, dreaming dreams, but never becoming the husband and father God created me to be.  Lord, I’m not asking for trials, but do whatever it takes to increase my faith!

Jas 1:4  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

  • What might it be like to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing?  In one sense, I really am lacking in nothing – I have food, shelter, clothing, a car, a caring, beautiful wife who loves me, four wonderful children, an excellent job, and much more.  On the other hand, I am far from perfect and complete; I am not holy, as God is holy, set apart completely for Him.  I was listening to a Doug Small message tonight, and he talked about how the Industrial Revolution took men out of the home, and 200 years later we hardly exist in the home.  That’s me!  I live and breathe work, while my family is left effectively fatherless and leaderless! Not that I must quit work – they need to eat – but I must make my relationship with God, and my relationship with Marla, and my relationship with my children become my focus.  If I do that, work will take care of itself, in the right time and the right perspective.

Jas 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Jas 1:6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Jas 1:7  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
Jas 1:8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

  • Wow.  This section hits hard.  I am reminded of the “Lies We Believe” portion of the WIT conferences.  For a long time I would say that one of the lies I have believed is that I am not capable of making a good decision.  Marla has given me a different perspective on some things, however: Mat 5:25  “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” The idea is that sometimes the enemy tries to bind me up with the truth, to get me to wallow in the prison of self-pity.  However, in my agreement with him (yes, I am rotten at making decisions) I can be set free to seek a solution – God’s wisdom.  My problem is that I still waver.  I don’t have single-minded faith when I ask for God’s wisdom.  I live in the fear that I’m just going to mess up again, and it paralyzes me – I am unstable at work, and at home, and I can only keep up the façade for so long.  Mar 9:24  “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’”

Jas 1:9  Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
Jas 1:10  and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.
Jas 1:11  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

  • My family and I started reading and praying through Operation World two or three weeks ago.  It lists the average yearly income for various countries, and we read of a couple with that number below $200 yearly.  I am rich beyond imagination for some folks, yet I take it for granted.  I am going to fade away in the midst of all my pursuits if I don’t get the right focus.  My children are growing and soon to be gone.  My wife needs my attention and leadership.  I need to see these riches with humility, as a gift of stewardship from God, a tool not to be taken for granted, not merely a means to gratify my desires and fill me with pleasure.

Jas 1:12  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

  • Rev 4:10,11  “the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’”
  • I just have to soak that verse in. What kind of crown will I have to cast at the feet of God in worship?

Jas 1:13  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
Jas 1:14  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Jas 1:15  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

  • My flesh seeks to devour me.
    • Rom 7:17-24  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
  • God is my salvation!
    • Rom 7:25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
    • Rom 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
    • Tit 3:4-7  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Jas 1:16  Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

  • I know this connects the next verse, but I just have to sit and say, “Amen!” Please don’t fall prey to the deceptions of the Enemy. Satan is roaming the earth looking for brethren to devour.

Jas 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

  • This verse is so sticky sweet that I often miss its power.  I want to dwell on the part about receiving gifts, but miss the part about NO VARIATION.  God is changeless – He will never go back on his nature, we can always trust Him!  Period!

Jas 1:18  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

  • It is by the very will of God that we exist!  I am not the accidental result of some combination between primordial scum and a bolt of lightning!  Rather, I was spoken into existence by God’s intentional word, just like the rest of creation.  Thank you, Lord, for giving me life!

Jas 1:19  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

  • Hard.  Hard, hard, hard.  Very hard, but oh! so fruitful when I am.  My kids know me as quick to anger, quick to speak, and they hardly bother coming to me any more. What a condemnation! Lord, change me!

Jas 1:20  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

  • Exactly. Point taken.

Jas 1:21  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

  • This is the concept of “put off” that I have heard so often.  I am still putting off, and it seems like it will never end, but I know that God is faithfully at work in my heart and mind to will and to do His good pleasure.

Jas 1:22  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

  • “Put on”.  It’s what I have to do after I put off, or else I will go nowhere, until I just slide back into the filthy slime.

Jas 1:23  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
Jas 1:24  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

  • Lord, don’t let me ever forget! Break my pride!

Jas 1:25  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

  • The law of liberty.  Not freedom to do whatever I feel like – it is not the “freedom in Christ” I have heard so often through the years that “allows” me to get drunk, or look at pornography, or live in slothfulness because now I am set free from the Law.  No, this liberty is the perfect law, the law of loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and doing my utmost to do His will until the day I die.

Jas 1:26  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

  • I have lived the outwardly religious life while filled with death and corruption hidden within.  It was a miserable life, and I thank God for setting me free!

Jas 1:27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

  • What a picture, along with a responsibility.  I can’t afford to miss that “keep oneself unstained” at the end.  I have no part in my salvation – God has given me salvation as a free gift by His grace. However, as part of my Christian life, my sanctification, I am responsible to cognizantly seek to live a pure, holy, unsullied life through the power of the Holy Spirit living within me.  I must choose to serve God, not my flesh, not the world around me, not the whisperings of the one who tempted Adam and Eve into bringing death and destruction into this world.

Well, that’s a long dissertation, but I needed to write it down more for my own sake, to see it in print, to remind myself again and again as I revisit this post in the years to come.

May God’s grace and peace be with you all!

– George

A GREAT OBSTACLE

In my own life, and in conversations I’ve had with other men trying to salvage their marriages, I see two great obstacles to achieving openness, brokenness, and freedom.

The first obstacle is probable intuitively obvious to the casual observer – Pride.

The second may not be as obvious, and it is rarely acknowledged or dealt with by those who are failing to truly reconcile with their wives.  It is the entitlement mentality which is so pervasive in our society today; the idea that I somehow deserve to be forgiven by my wife, or that others should recognize how much I’ve changed and congratulate me for it, or any number of other detrimental attitudes.

For example, without getting into details, I was once talking with a man who had decided to try the principles taught in 4 Days 2 Freedom.  He had physically abused his wife, committed adultery literally countless times, but he decided to come clean and ask her to forgive him.  I think it was less than three months later that he asked me something like, “How much dirt do I have to let her pile on top of me?!?”

You see, he was upset that his wife hadn’t forgiven him and then completely forgotten about all the pain and anguish he had caused her and the family.  He was upset that she had the audacity to keep bringing things up, especially when he was displaying the same type of behavior toward her that he had shown before coming clean.

My response? It was in terms of Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  I said something akin to, “How much dirt did Jesus let people pile on top of Him on His way to the cross? He was completely innocent, but He took the penalty for all of our sins.” That man went away angry, and completely destroyed his marriage because he didn’t get the treatment he thought he deserved.

Friends, there is a scripture which brings home to me exactly what I deserve: “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23a

Yes, I know the rest of the verse, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, His Son.” (emphasis mine)

Does anyone else out there get it?  Or am I completely off base, here?

When I came clean with my wife, I pulled a big dump truck full of garbage up to her and emptied it all on her head! She drew upon God’s grace and forgave me, as did a lot of other people I confessed to and asked forgiveness from.  In fact, folks thought I was such a good guy for having come clean, no one even bothered to ask how I was doing for almost a year…and as Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Getting caught, having to confess to my wife again, and going through the aftermath thoroughly drove home to me God’s grace as demonstrated through my wife.  She really wanted to kill me…but she chose to listen to God, and extended true forgiveness.

I know that I don’t deserve my wife’s forgiveness, but I am grateful to receive it, and sorrowful when something happens to cause her to remember the pain I have caused.  True forgiveness does not forget past sin (see Revelation 20:11-12 regarding the “great white throne judgment), but chooses not to remember (Psalm 103 – God removes our sin, but there is no indication he forgets it).

Getting back to entitlement…how can I possibly think that my wife owes me forgiveness, much less that God owes me forgiveness?  He does forgive, but it is an act of mercy, purely by His grace, not because of any I have done or deserved (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So, when my wife gets hurt, or upset, or expresses her frustration that I have not changed in an area of my life, the way of brokenness is to humbly take responsibility for her pain and fear, to acknowledge that it is my sin which is at fault, and start the process of figuring out what she needs to feel loved (it takes – gasp – communication, guys…something I am horrible at, but learning).  Do I always have the right reaction? Far from! I am nowhere near as broken and humble and loving as I want to be, but when I do make the right choice (and it is definitely a choice), the pain is assuaged, the reconciliation is sweet, and my wife feels the love of Christ.

Give up your perceived rights, friends.  The only right you really have is to receive death, and there but for the grace of God go I.

Peace,

George