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

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.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Common Excuses and/or Justifications for Irresponsibility

• Pass the buck. “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’” (Genesis 3:12).
• I did not wake up in time.
• He disobeyed me, so I lost my temper.
• My wife is not loveable.
• She does not respect me.
• I need time alone.
• I needed that extra Harley Davidson (or shotgun or fishing rod or video game).
• I told her I loved her when we got married. Didn’t she believe me?
• The boss is too hard.
• The boss doesn’t know his job.

All these excuses are based on one of two things:

• Your own selfishness
• Blaming your actions (or lack of action) on the other guy

This is a partial list. It could easily be much longer. Your response may be, “Let’s be real,” or, “A man would have to be godly to be responsible.” Men who make the second objection should not get married. Does that mean I want him to have irresponsible sex instead of responsible sex? No. A man is not allowed to be immoral just because he does not get married.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Characteristics of a Responsible Man

What are the characteristics of the responsible man?

• He receives orders and commands without complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:14).
• He stretches and grows into a job he has to do. It does not break him.
• He is not defensive when he is accused, whether the accusation is true or false.
• He does not pass the buck; he does not blame others above, alongside, or below him.
• He is not short-tempered.
• He assumes the burden of supporting his family. Whether by work or by faith, the burden is his. "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).
• He teaches his children to be responsible.
• He provides a secure environment for his wife and children. He will not scold his wife. He certainly will not beat her. He will nourish and cherish her. He will nourish and admonish his children.
• He protects his family from all kinds of evil: physical, spiritual, and emotional.
• He is not selfish with his money, things, or time.
• He is a man of prayer. "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing" (1 Timothy 2:8).
• He is a servant to others.
• He is self-controlled. In Titus 2, Titus is instructed to teach the older men “to be temperate, worthy of respect and self-controlled…Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14).

Responsibility means that a man takes complete responsibility for his actions, even if an action was irresponsible: for his wife and children, and for the sins of fornication and the consequent pregnancy, mother, and baby.

God requires men to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. There is an obvious reason for this in creation. God made women with a great need to be loved, to be protected, and to be made secure. God made men with a need to be respected. Both were made incomplete. Man was made incomplete first, so woman was made to complete him. He in turn was to complete the need that was created in her.

Friday, November 18, 2016

God’s Commands Concerning Responsibility: Principles Taught through Stories & Parables

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

“He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

“The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

“‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

“His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

“His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

“Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

“‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” (Luke 19:11-27)

This short story speaks of the responsible actions of two servants and the irresponsible actions of a third. It also tells of rebellious subjects. They were all held accountable. We are all subjects or servants of God. The servants are given special responsibilities.

There is a similar story in Matthew 25:

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.”

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

The man with two bags of gold also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.”

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.” (Matthew 25:14-27)

The principle is laid out in Luke 16: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" (Luke 16:10-13).

These two parables are talking about the kingdom of God. The master assigned responsibilities according to the servants’ respective abilities. The irresponsible servant in Matthew was wicked and lazy, and the one in Luke was judged wicked. Both of them endeavored to place the blame on the master to cover up their own wickedness.

Being irresponsible is being wicked or being wicked and lazy. I will continue to use the word “irresponsible,” but remember it is a synonym for these two words.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

How To Confess Your Sins

Here is a good video presentation of my confession of sin graph done by Dr. Mike Lawyer:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

God’s Commands Concerning Responsibility: Direct Commands

To the male of the species God has given responsibilities that fit the fruit of the Spirit more than the works of the flesh.

Responsibility comes with the territory. The first territory was earth, and the first man and woman got that responsibility.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:27-30)

It may be that the husband had the primary responsibility then because of prior creation.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (1 Timothy 2:12-14)

Eve was deceived; Adam rebelled.

They also got a smaller, detailed responsibility—the Garden of Eden. "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15).

After both of them failed that responsibility, it was taken from them. "To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, "You must not eat from it," Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life'” (Genesis 3:17).

The husband/father is primarily responsible. We see this order in the law very clearly in Numbers 30. A husband or father is responsible for the vows made by his wife or daughter. If he cancels the vow, she is free from keeping it. If he does not cancel the vow, then the husband, by silence, confirms it. If the woman does not keep the vow, her husband is guilty. The New Testament assigns responsibility to the father/husband in Ephesians 5:25-30, 6:4, 1 Peter 3:7, and Colossians 3:19-21.

God made man with a conscience and placed him under a moral law. After he has been redeemed, man has a new conscience and the Holy Spirit. As men are redeemed out of the world, this cultural phenomenon of wanting authority without responsibility must not be allowed to affect them.
Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to. (1 Corinthians 7:24)

God called us. We are responsible to Him. We answer to Him. We are accountable to Him.

As Christians, men and women together are given great, common, moral responsibilities. We can see this throughout the Bible. However, I want to draw attention to those assigned responsibilities given to men only. After that, I will draw some extensions that also apply only to the men. You may argue with these, but please be careful that in doing so you are not trying to avoid a genuine responsibility.

“And he will rule over you”:

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

Responsible for the vows of his wife and daughters:

When a young woman still living in her father’s household makes a vow to the Lord or obligates herself by a pledge and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the Lord will release her because her father has forbidden her…If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the Lord will release her. Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself. (Numbers 30:3-5, 10-13)

Children:

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28)

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. (Psalms 127:3-5)

Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord. (Psalm 128:1-4)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)

Faithfulness to marriage vows:

You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. (Malachi 2:14-16)

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Mathew 19:3-9)

No adultery/no coveting:

You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:17)
No looking/no touching:
Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. (1 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV)

For those who have increased responsibility in the church, the lists in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-6:8 also apply.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Results of Irresponsibility

God built a need for respect into the male of the human race. All men need this respect as they are growing up. God made men incomplete, so He made women to be their helpers. This incompleteness is apparent in men’s need for respect. That is why God requires women to respect their husbands.

Men want to have authority and respect. Is this wrong? No, not in itself. But responsibility comes with authority, and many men have abdicated this responsibility. Authority without responsibility makes men tyrants. If they pass the responsibility to their wives but do not delegate the corresponding authority to them, those wives cannot carry out the responsibility, and the husband will not.

Many of the Christian men I know today (as opposed to fifty years ago) come from families with irresponsible fathers and grandfathers. If they coast (even though they are now Christians), it will be downhill. They will imitate their fathers. They will be irresponsible to their wives and children, and maybe with money and things. They might be very responsible on the job and in their profession and have respect there, but not in their homes.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Attitudes about Irresponsibility (from Both Men & Women)

Today, irresponsibility is no longer recognized as failure. Men and women think it is normal, even a birthright. Men may still want the authority that comes with it, but they do not want the responsibility itself. That compounds the problem. There are two humanist views of masculinity circulating today:

• Muscular, dominant, boastful, sexual prowess, professional performance. One famous athlete said that he had had 24,000 women. Krishna, a fictitious Hindu deity, was supposed to have had tens of thousands of wives and to have committed adultery with 1,000 other men’s wives without the men knowing it. This is the kind of “masculinity” you find in dirty talk and novels for men.
• Thoughtful, kind, tender, irresponsible until he meets a good woman who straightens him out in marriage. This view is found in romantic novels written by women for women.

God made men with testosterone and estrogen. The natural man lives by pleasant sensations that God has given as a means, and he makes them into an end in themselves. “This is the way I was made; this is the way I will act.” He follows his stream of consciousness.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Reasons Some Men Are Irresponsible

There are non-Christian men who are responsible husbands and fathers. There are Christian men who are not responsible. Whatever the initial reasons for this irresponsibility in Christian men are, it should not, must not, continue. Here are a few possible reasons:

• They grew up in broken homes.
• They grew up with fathers who were irresponsible.
• The men they know at their jobs, in their communities, and as relatives are poor examples and teachers.

If a man becomes a Christian out of this kind of background, there is one automatic change and several required changes.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

History of Irresponsibility: Real-Life Examples and Evidence

You may argue with or misunderstand the point of this article (that men were designed and commanded to bear responsibility) because your experience was different. It may seem wrong to you because:

• The present culture says otherwise.
• Your mother provided the stability in your home.
• Your mother was dominant, but not stable.
• Your father was not self-disciplined, and therefore over-disciplined the children.
• Your father was dominant, but irresponsible.
• Many other combinations.

What are the signs of an irresponsible man? The primary evidence is selfishness or self-centeredness. All of the characteristics listed below are subsets of this selfishness. There are many signs of irresponsibility in the male of the species. Unfortunately, this includes many Christian men, or at least men who think they are Christians.

In general, men want the privileges of being male without the corresponding responsibility. What are these privileges?

Sexual gratification:

• Marriage
• Free sex (promiscuous sex, paid-for sex, unloving sex, rape, or incest)
• Homosexual sex (monogamous or promiscuous)
• Pornography

Pride:

• They need to “make it” in their profession and have other people know they have made it. If they have not made it, they will excuse or justify themselves or blame the boss or others. Men are much guiltier of this than women.
• They brag and boast of good things, innocent things, and evil things. They must draw attention to their prowess in whatever physical, mental, or athletic endeavor they are good at.
• They succumb to peer pressure and dirty talk.
• If they are bigger, older, or have more authority, they bully those under them.
Fun/Pleasure:
• Innocent fun. Hobbies like woodworking or stamp collecting or activities like hunting, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, fitness, jogging, basketball, skydiving, golfing, computer games, etc.
• Evil fun. Doing things for kicks, practical jokes, kidding (Proverbs 26:18), stealing, heterosexual activity outside marriage, homosexual activity, getting drunk, lying. Any of the hobbies mentioned above can also become evil when it turns into an obsession, an addiction. This kind of addiction can be hard to recognize because the fun seems innocent. The fun becomes irresponsible when it occupies a man’s thinking, his time, or his money beyond what can or ought to be afforded.

A final sign of irresponsibility is that the man does not want to be responsible. He would rather be waited on than serve. What’s more, he thinks that it is a God-sanctioned privilege to be irresponsible.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Dead and Alive

Dead and Alive: Obedience and the New Man is now in print. You can purchase it on the CCM website. There is a 15% discount for orders through December 1; enter code OBEDIENCE at checkout to get the discount.

This book was written primarily to help new Christians anticipate an obedient, victorious life in Christ. It was also written to encourage defeated Christians who think defeat is normal.

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." (Rom. 6:8)

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3)

This is the key. Christ’s death and resurrection go together. Because of them, we who have trusted in Jesus have received forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Him. Is there something more than “forgiveness” and “a place among the sanctified”? There is. This book is about that “something more,” which is the third result of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our faith in Him. That result is obedience.

We died with Christ. Our sinful nature was crucified with Him. This is in the past tense. It has happened already.

We have been raised with Christ. We live in Him. We live by the Spirit. We are alive in Christ. This is already true.

Monday, November 07, 2016

History of Irresponsibility: Biblical Examples

This is the first post in a series on responsibility.

Men were designed, created, and commanded to bear responsibility. So what happened?

It all started with our first parents. They were given responsibility and commensurate authority. This assignment was removed and then reduced after they failed their first responsibility.

Adam was given responsibility. He not only failed the responsibility; he blamed his wife and God for his failure (Genesis 3:12). Adam was not a responsible husband.

Noah got drunk and lay naked in his tent. His youngest son saw him and told his older brothers. When Noah awoke from his drunkenness, he cursed his youngest son’s youngest son. Getting drunk and cursing someone not responsible was not being a responsible father or grandfather (Genesis 9:20-27).

To save his own life, Abram had his wife lie for him and let the king of Egypt take her. He was not a responsible husband (Genesis 12:12-16). He did it again with Abimelech (Genesis: 20:2). Abram listened to his wife and had a son with Hagar. This brought persecution upon her and the son by Abram’s wife. He was not a responsible husband or father (Genesis 16). There are repercussions from his actions today, some 4,000 years later.

Each of these men was saved by faith (Hebrews 11). We can continue this list of irresponsible men: Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Reuben, Levi, Simeon, Judah, Moses, Aaron, Samson, Gideon, Eli, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jehosaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, Josiah, etc. These were the good guys. They were irresponsible in their relations to women, their wives, and their children.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Father

A few biblical expressions about the Father:

John 3:35: The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.

John 6:32: My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

John 14:6: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.

John 10:15: Even as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 16:3: These things they will do because they have not known the Father or me.

John 16:23: Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it to you.

John 17:5: Now, Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.

John 10:30: I and the Father are one.

The “Father” is mentioned 105 times in the gospel of John. This is in addition to the word “God,” which occurs about 90 times in the gospel of John.

Matthew 6:8: Our Father who is in heaven…

Ephesians 3:14: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth derives its name.

Colossians 1:2-3, 12: To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…. and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

1 John 1:3: We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:5-6: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

In all the Christian literature you read and in your speech as an evangelical Christian, how often is the Father mentioned?

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Application Test

This is a follow-up to my last post on meditation; it is written by Roy Knecht.

"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out in to the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him." (Luke 8:16-18)

This teaching of Jesus comes on the heels of the well-known parable of the sower and the seed. After the parable, the Lord’s disciples did not understand its meaning. They approached Jesus and asked him for an explanation. Jesus replied that there are four ways of hearing the Word of God: three bad and one good.

The one good hearer is set apart by 1) his noble and good heart, 2) his ability to retain what he heard from God, and 3) his response to what he hears, which means to put it into practice, exercising perseverance. The Word of God thrives in such a person.

Jesus then applies this same principle in the following verses. The picture of a lamp on a stand is one Jesus has used before. In Matthew 5:14-16, He tells His followers that they are to be as a lamp put in its stand, shedding light for all to see. They are to shine before men in their godly deeds, bringing praise to God for the way they lead their lives. The unavoidable result of a Christian living the Word of God is that he or she is going to be noticed.

Jesus uses the picture of hiding a lamp under a bushel to illustrate this. Suppose you invite a friend over for dinner one evening. He arrives and discovers that the apartment is completely dark. When he asks you to turn on a light, you reply that it is already on. “Where?” “Under the bed,” you reply. Your friend would think you are a bit silly to have a light on and hidden. A lamp is only a lamp if it is put out in the open. But if it is out in the open, what happens? People see it.

Our motives for hearing God’s Word will be shown for what they are, just as a light switch is either on or off. If you are listening to God’s Word with the intent of putting it into practice, you will shine like a lamp put on its stand. If you are unwilling to do what God says, you cannot shine. No matter how well you try to fake it, your motives will be found out when application time rolls around.

Perseverance is patient endurance. By its very nature, it occurs during times of testing. The work of patience is to bring about maturity in the believer. A mature Christian is one whose life is characterized by his becoming more and more like Jesus. He “has” (verse 18a), and he is receiving more all the time. The sad thing about the person who “has not” is that he thinks he has (verse 18b). This is the same person who can quote all the right verses, but the same verses are not applied when the testing comes. A baseball player standing at home plate with a bat in his hands may be able to call a strike as well as the umpire. But his job is not to describe the pitch. His job is to hit it. God gives us instructions and sends us to the batters’ box to hit, not to repeat the instructions.

Commit yourself today to applying the Word of God as soon as you hear it. Do not be deceived into thinking that hearing is doing (James 1:22). The one who is not committed to application will find that when the heat is on, he cannot handle it. He cannot “quote away” the difficulty, so, sadly, he perceives the Word of God as inadequate for handling his particular problem and chucks it. Later he defends himself with phrases like, “After all, I’m only human,” or, “Well, my problem is unique.”

In Luke 8:19-21, Jesus emphasizes this teaching on perseverance and motives. His mother and brothers are unable to come to Him because of the crowd. Jesus says his true family, those who are closest to Him, are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice.

Next time you open your Bible, ask yourself, “Am I willing and ready to do what it says?” If you are not, then get willing. Do not go any further until you are. Consider carefully how you listen.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Meditation and Imitation

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

There is a kind of Bible study that goes beyond reading, Bible memory, group Bible study, Old Testament references in their context, and subject studies. Meditation is more mystical and practical. That may sound like a contradiction.

Let me tell you what meditation is not. It is not looking for some deeper, hidden meaning. It is not numerology or looking for a codified arrangement of the text. And it is not saying that the plain meaning of the text that we got from our previous reading and studying is not the correct meaning. We probably got the right meaning, and we can repeat it back. We know the text!

What, then, is this kind of Bible study? It does not have to do with our understanding; it has to do with where we understand it. Do we understand it in our heads, or do we understand it in our hearts?

Most study results in head knowledge. In other words, if we were given a practical lab examination on what we had studied, we might not do as well as we would do on a written exam. If we had studied Matthew 5:38-48, we might come up with the right answer on paper. Would we do as well if we were put into a laboratory with evil people who sued us, hit us, forced miles upon us, asked us for money, and borrowed our things? In addition, they are our enemies and persecute us.

When I go into this lab, I must have all my head knowledge transferred to my heart. My actions (planned and unplanned) come from there, not from my head. Transferring my true, cognitive knowledge to my heart is a mystical event. It is not done by concentration or hard study.

Having the knowledge in my heart makes it practical. That is where I need to store all this good stuff so that when I overflow, good stuff comes out. Here are three teachings from the gospels that describe this practicality, good and bad.

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matt. 12:34-35)

“Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean’” …. He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” (Mark 7:15, 20-23)

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
Early in my Christian life, I memorized a lot of Scripture verses. I knew them word-for-word and could name the references. They were in my head, and I could call them up at any time. It did not occur to me or to others that I was not living out these Scriptures. I am not sure how many years it was before I got suspicious. It was one thing for my brain to overflow and spout Scripture; it was another thing entirely for my heart to overflow. I thought that memorizing Scripture was hiding His word in my heart. It was not; it was hiding His word in my head. I may or may not have been able to pass a written test. But it was a sure thing that I would not pass the lab test.

I thank God that neither test is given, since we have been saved by grace. After we have been saved by grace, we are to be careful to do good works. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
Our new birth guarantees that we do not continue to sin, that is, live in sin.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him…. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:6, 9)

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness…. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Rom. 6:18, 22)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealously, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:19-23)

These Scriptures are not commands; they are indicative statements. They just are.

After the new birth, we are given heart commands. Here is a representative one: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:1-2).

Our good works, whether they be the fruit of the Spirit or physical actions and words, are works that come from our hearts. We are in the lab all the time. Let’s look at a few biblical examples.

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brother or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14)

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Phil. 2:14-16)

But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. (Matt. 5:39-42)
Each of these texts has commands in it. Look at them again. What do they say? Do you understand them? Are they clear?

You may have questions. If your questions take the following character: “What does it mean?”, “Where do you draw the line?”, “You mean I cannot invite my parents?”, “How rich?”, “Suppose he is wrong!”, “Suppose he is evil!”, then you probably understand in your head and do not understand with your heart.

To understand with your head, ask this question, “Is it clear?”

To begin to understand with your heart, ask this: “Is it true or false?” If you answer “True,” don’t say, “But…” After you say “True,” praise God with thanksgiving. When you thank God for these commands, you will begin to hide the Word in your heart.

How do you continue? Soak in these Scriptures, muse, meditate on them so that you begin to pray about the lame and the blind, your enemies, and evil people. Confess anything in your heart that is hindering willing heart obedience to the commands. Then begin to anticipate, long for, and pray for an opportunity to obey without conditions or excuses.

If you do not understand the previous paragraphs, and you are a Christian, something is very wrong. It may be that you are too comfortable in your evangelical church. You realize that if you suddenly obeyed these commands from the heart, you would be out of step with your friends. In other words, you do not want to be godly or holy if it means being different from the rest of the saints.

Meditation does not take study. It takes prayerful, willing submission to the text. That is why and how it can be done all of the time.

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. (Josh. 1:8)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)

Soon you will anticipate and long for opportunities to put your meditation into action.

There is still another way to have a normal and natural heart obedience. In a father-son relationship, there are three causes of the son being like his father. The first is genetic inheritance. He looks like his father. The second is a command/obedience relationship. The third is imitation. This is the other way. The Bible makes reference to it several times. Here are few of those instances.

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt. 5:44, 48)

Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (1 Cor. 4:15-16)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 4:32-5:2)

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:14-16)

I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. (Phil. 2:20-23)

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 10:32-11:1)
We have become like our fathers by imitating them. It is the best way of learning anything that involves application.

Meditate and imitate.