Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Fixed

This was written by my wife Bessie.

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” (Psalm 57:7)

Sometimes when I hear or read a great truth from the Scriptures, my first reaction is “Oh, I want that to be true in my life!” The second reaction is, “But how?” I will deal here with this second reaction.

The quotation above is from the King James Version but is rendered my heart is steadfast both in the RSV and NIV. I like the strength of the KJV because “fixed” suggests a locked-in position, a trusting regardless of circumstances. We read in the caption that David had written this psalm when he fled from Saul into the cave.

A “fixed heart” assumes a confidence in the Lord. It assumes a mind that disregards the circumstances. The impossibility of the situation only drove David to reliance on the Lord to the extent that he said, “I will sing and make music” (Psalm 57:7b).

In Psalm 25:15, David expressed this in different words: “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.”

It is one thing to declare that our heart is fixed but another to demonstrate it by a restful mind when thoughts distract and emotions run wild over the situation with which we are faced. To maintain a fixed heart, we need to bring our minds to a spiritual conclusion. By that I mean we reason with ourselves; we conduct a conversation that may run like this:

“Is this situation beyond my capability?”

“It certainly is.”

“Do I see any human solution by my effort or some other person’s effort?”

“No, I don’t!”

“Has the Lord allowed this situation to occur?”

“Obviously.”

In some cases, at this point we need to confess that some sin or neglect on our part brought the situation to pass.

“Does He love me?”

“Oh yes, I know He does.”

When the waves are high, you may be tempted to doubt His love. Remember Peter walked on the water until when distracted by the wind, he began to sink. He had forgotten that Jesus had said, “Come” (Matt. 14:30). Peter was not “locked in” to the word of the Master.

“Is He faithful?”

At this point the mind recollects the many deliverances of the past.

“Oh yes, He is faithful.”

“Am I ready now to turn in faith to Him, trusting the situation to Him, and with a glad heart waiting to see Him act on my behalf?”

“I am ready.”

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast [fixed] because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Our Hope in Adversity

A post for the Christmas season written by Chris Vlachos, who ran CCM's bookstore in Provo, UT.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manager, because there was no room in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

In this passage, we see a simple but striking account of God’s hand providentially working in the affairs of men to bring to pass His ultimate and glorious purposes. The emperor, Augustus, just prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, sent forth a decree requiring that all Roman subjects be registered in a census. This census was for tax purposes. It was necessary for each person to return to his hometown to be enrolled. Joseph, a native of Bethlehem, travelled with his pregnant wife back to his home city, and while they were there, Mary gave birth to her son, Jesus.

In the Old Testament book of Micah, it was foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. In order to bring this to pass, God moved the heart of the emperor to issue the census decree. What seemed to be a routine affair in the governmental workings of the Roman empire was in reality God sovereignly steering history’s course of events to bring His plans to pass. In reality, it was not Caesar, but God who issued the decree.

Can anything be drawn from this event? Is there anything that can be applied to our lives as we think about this incident during this coming Christmas season? Yes, there is, and it is this: if God sovereignly rules all events according to His purposes, then those of us who are His people can take comfort when seemingly unfortunate events come our way. Joseph and Mary had to make a 70-mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Times couldn’t have been worse for the couple. Mary was due to give birth. Joseph would have to miss valuable days from work at a time when he would soon be supporting a child. We do not know if it was with bitterness that they made their trip; however, most of us would have to admit that there would be seeds of resentment within us if we found ourselves in similar circumstances.

But what seemed to be “hard knocks” turned out to be for good! What seemed to have served no purpose had a great purpose. How much time and energy we spend moaning about the events that we later see had a beneficial purpose.

As we are reminded this season of the birth of Christ, may we recall that God has a plan for the lives of His people, a plan that He brings to pass through His sovereign ruling of events. Next time, rather than grumble at our circumstances, let us thank Him and trust Him!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Results of Responsibility

Besides the wonderful security of having the seal of the Holy Spirit in our lives, there is a security that comes from good relationships in our homes. The major source of security in the home outside the Holy Spirit has been assigned by God to the husband/father. He is the one around whom the home revolves. The wife looks to him, and the children look to him. He is the rock in the home. He is the source of strength and stability. He provides wisdom, decisions, and financial and emotional security.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Raising Sons: Teaching Relationship to Women

Early in his life, a boy should be taught and required to respect and love and be considerate of his mother and his sisters (both older and younger). As he approaches puberty, he should be taught about the female population outside his family. Respect and consideration should again be stressed. Because we are commanded to love our neighbors, he should be taught to love. This is not a command to express affection and love to girls.

He should also be taught to respect, be polite to, and not cut down girls. They will be grateful for the former and hurt if he fails in the latter. They may respond with counter-cuts, which makes them less feminine. Boys should be taught not to touch a girl in any way that would cause physical harm or in any way that would cause her to respond sexually to them, or in any way that would hurt her emotionally.

Masculinity does not have to be proved with muscles, sexual prowess, bragging, etc. True masculinity is established by taking the responsibility that God has given you.

Friday, November 25, 2016

For Raising Sons

Before they get to have authority, men should be under authority. If they have a difficult the submitting to authority, they become petty tyrants when they, in turn, find themselves in positions of authority.

Authority and responsibility go together. If a man has great responsibility but does not have commensurate authority, he is unable to carry out his responsibility. If he has authority but no responsibility, he ends up giving orders when there is nothing to do. Again, he is a petty tyrant.

God built the need for respect into the human race. All men need it as they are growing up. If they do not get it, they ask for it by bragging and boasting. If they do not have anything to brag about, they invent something. They lie and brag.

Both sexes need two things given to them from infancy: love and respect. They need these from both sexes. However, as they grow older, a girl needs love more than she needs respect (although she still needs both), and a boy needs respect more than he needs love (although he needs both). How can you tell? Little boys brag, and little girls flirt. The boys are asking for respect, and the girls are asking for love. It is a poor way to get either, but it shows that the need is there. Children who are very secure in love and respect do not brag or flirt.

If we want our sons to mature into responsible men, our part is five-fold:

1. Give them much love and respect from both sexes of parents.
2. Do not provoke them to wrath or discouragement (Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:21).
3. Give them the “training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
4. Give them responsibility as they grow older. The responsibility should be enough to stretch them, but not so much that it breaks them.
5. “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth” (Deut. 11:18-21).

As a boy continues to grow, he wants and needs more opportunities to be responsible. Sometimes he is given responsibility before he is ready for it. If he cannot handle it, if it is too much for him, he becomes irresponsible. He finds it easy to blame his failures on other people and on the circumstances. If this is an isolated event, he may learn from it. However, if he is regularly given responsibility before he is ready, it is sure to establish a lifelong habit of irresponsibility. (Sometimes boys will demand freedom when they are not ready for it. The results are the same if it is given.)

It is best to give increased responsibility in small increments, but always more than he thinks he can handle—but not too much more. This way you ensure his growth—strong, normal growth. If he is given too little responsibility or not given it until long after he requests it, you are teaching him to be rebellious. But when he is given responsibility he can handle, he is successful with it. This increases his respect for his father and for himself, and he is ready for more responsibility.

His successes should be 1) acknowledged, 2) not criticized, and 3) not flattered. Acknowledging success stimulates a desire for more. Correcting successes with a critical spirit causes discouragement (Col. 3:21). Sometime a son will work even harder hoping for a “well done” from his father, and he never gets one. Flattery is over-praise for non-accomplishment. This is an encouragement to be irresponsible. It is not an expression of love. Love is present in defeat and in success; it is not tied to accomplishment. It can be expressed with hugs or spanks, but not with flattery or a critical spirit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to Become a Responsible Man

1. Become a Christian. If you need help with this, ask a Christian friend or write, call, or email Community Christian Ministries. You can also request a copy of the gospel of John and the booklet Jesus Said, “Follow Me” from me. If you are already a Christian, confess all known sin to God. Visit the CCM website for a free download of my talk, “Confession of Sin.”
2. Repair your relationship with your parents (Mal. 4:6). See “Relationships with Parents” in How to Be Free from Bitterness.
3. Desire responsibility. "Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task" (1 Tim. 3:1).
4. Humble yourself before God. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time" (1 Pet. 5:6).
5. Follow the example of godly men.
6. Read the biographies of godly men such as Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, James Fraser, R.G. LeTourneau, George Whitfield, and R.C. Chapman.
7. “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 3:22).
8. Be a man of the Word: reading, studying and memorizing it, meditating on it, obeying it.
9. Be a man of prayer: praise, thanksgiving, supplication, intercession.
10. Recognize that irresponsibility is a sin, gross wickedness. Confess this wickedness; repent of it, forsake it.
11. When you read the Scriptures, latch onto the assignments, not just the authority.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Taking Action

Assuming you think that God had a good idea in His creation and assignments to men and women, here are a few ways to prepare yourself and your children to be the right kind of husband and father.
The automatic change is a man’s conversion, his salvation. The Bible describes this event in strong terms. Here are a few of them:

• He has been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6, Col. 2:20).
• He has risen with Christ (Col. 3:1).
• He is dead to sin (Rom. 6:2).
• He has put off the old man (Col. 3:9).
• He has put on the new man (Col. 3:10).

This conversion determines the necessity and the possibility of all subsequent requirements (see Romans 8:3-4). Because these things are true of all believers, it is normal for a Christian man to be responsible.