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Posts tagged ‘wisdom’

DECISION MAKING AND THE WILL OF GOD (Adapted from the book by Garry Friesen)

The expression “will of God” is used in the Bible in two ways. God’s sovereign will is His secret plan to determine everything that happens in the universe. God’s moral will consists of the revealed commands in the Bible that teach how we ought to believe and live.

The Nature of God’s Moral Will

  1. It is the expression, in behavioral terms, of God’s character.
  2. It touches every aspect and moment of life: goals, attitudes, and means (why, how, and what).
  3. It is fully revealed in the Bible.
  4. It is able to equip believers for every good work.

For God’s children, all things within the moral will of God are lawful, clean, and pure. In decisions that are made within that moral will, the Christian should not feel guilty about his choice; neither should he fear that his decision is unacceptable to God. God has made it clear what He wants: His plan for His children is for them to enjoy the freedom that He has granted.

What One Must Do To Acquire Wisdom
Have the right Attitude

  1. Reverence
  2. Humility
  3. Teachableness
  4. Diligence
  5. Uprightness
  6. Faith

Take The Right Approach

  1. Ask God for Wisdom
  2. Seek Wisdom in the pages of Scripture
  3. Seek Wisdom through personal research
  4. Seek Wisdom through wise counselors
  5. Seek Wisdom from life itself

To sum up: The ultimate Source of the wisdom that is needed in decision-making is God. Accordingly, we are to ask Him to provide what we lack. God mediates His wisdom to us through His Word, our personal research, wise counselors, and the applied lessons of life. Regarding counselors, one should seek two kinds: Of those who possess deep spiritual insight, the question should be asked: “Are you aware of any biblical principles that touch upon my decision?” To those who have gone through relevant personal experiences, the question should be: “When you went through a similar experience, did you gain any insights that would be of value to me?”

Principles of Decision Making – The Way of Wisdom

  1. In those areas specifically addressed by the Bible, the revealed commands and principles of God (His moral will) are to be obeyed.
  2. In those areas where the Bible gives no command or principle (non-moral decisions), the believer is free and responsible to choose his own course of action. Any decision made within the moral will of God is acceptable to God.
  3. In non-moral decisions, the objective of the Christian is to make wise decisions on the basis of spiritual expediency. Spiritual expediency, put simply, means what works best to get the job done within God’s moral will. Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.
  4. In all decisions, the believer should humbly submit, in advance, to the outworking of God’s sovereign will as it touches each decision.

God’s Sovereign Will and Decision Making

  1. God’s sovereignty does not exclude the need for planning; it does require humble submission to His will.
  2. Circumstances define the context of the decision and must be weighed by wisdom — not “read” as road signs to God’s individual (as opposed to His moral) will. Such events are determined by God, to be sure, but they are not to be viewed as “signs” to be read. Circumstances must be evaluated, not to determine some clue from God, but to help decide the advisability of a given course of action. Circumstances indicate many of the pros and cons, but they carry no “yes” or “no” tags.
  3. Open doors are God-given opportunities for service — not specific guidance from God requiring one to enter. Opportunities, like everything else, come through God’s sovereignty. The nature of such opportunities indicates that most of the time “open doors” should be utilized as part of wise, resourceful living for the Lord. If a greater opportunity or more pressing work is at hand, it is acceptable and proper to pass by the open door. An “open door” is not a direct providential sign from God telling the believer to go in a certain direction. A door is used, not because it is a sign, but because doors facilitate entrance. Considering the concept of “closed doors,” if one were sovereignly prevented from pursuing a plan, and yet the plan itself was sound, one simply might wait and try again later. In this view, a blocked endeavor (i.e., closed door) is not necessarily a sign from God that a plan was faulty. One might accept the fact that he could not pursue it at this time and continue to desire, pray, and plan for the eventual accomplishment of the goal.
  4. “Putting out a fleece” is an invalid practice that sometimes works when it is really wisdom in disguise.

Applicational Solutions of the Wisdom View

  1. Ordinary Decisions: One should exercise good judgment and not waste time.
  2. Equal Decisions: One should thank God for the opportunity to select from acceptable alternatives, and choose one’s personal preference.
  3. Immaturity: One should apply maturity by gathering and evaluating data, devoting sufficient time to the process, giving personal desires their proper place, and basing the decision on sound reasons.
  4. Subjectivity: Since God’s moral will has been completely revealed and the means of acquiring wisdom has been explained, the knowledge required for decision making is fully attainable.

The believer already has at his disposal everything that God is going to tell him about his decisions.

The moral will of God is objective, complete, and adequate. God’s Word does not tell one what to decide in every situation; it teaches how to come to a decision that is acceptable to God. It is from Scripture that we learn the necessity of determining those choices that are both moral and wise.

It is the Bible that tells us to acquire wisdom and apply it to our decisions. It is the Bible that tells us where wisdom is to be found. It is the Bible that tells us of God’s involvement in giving us wisdom. It is the Bible that established the objective standard by which we may define and recognize what is moral and wise. It is assumed in Scripture that knowledge of God’s moral will and the necessary wisdom for good decision-making are attainable.

The Bible indicates that one’s depth of wisdom and knowledge of God’s moral will certainly will increase progressively over a period of time. The believer is expected to study the Word sufficiently to become personally convinced of its meaning. As he grows in spiritual insight and understanding of God’s Word, his convictions will be appropriately revised, his judgment will mature, and his decisions will reflect greater wisdom. But at any given point, the believer can acquire a sufficient knowledge of God’s moral will and an adequate level of wisdom to make a decision that meets God’s approval.

Wisdom Signs Pointing to God’s Moral Will and Wisdom

  1. Bible
  2. Inner Impressions
  3. Personal Desires
  4. Special Guidance
  5. Circumstances
  6. Mature Counsel
  7. Common Sense
  8. Results

Impressions can come from a multitude of sources. They must be judged by the moral will of God and by wisdom. On the basis of that evaluation, the believer determines his response to the impression. Those impressions that conform to God’s moral will and to wisdom may be followed.

The presence of peace or the lack of it may or may not mean a decision is the best. The lack of peace may indicate immaturity, fear of one’s inability to keep a potential commitment, concern about the wisdom of a course of action, or uncertainty about one’s judgment in the decision at hand. The way of wisdom judges the emotional makeup and momentary emotional state of the believer himself as one of the valid circumstances in the situation. That “concerned feeling” should be judged by wisdom. One’s emotional makeup should be judged by wisdom. In the final analysis, every good thing comes from God. So any thought, impression, or feeling that is both moral and wise has its ultimate origin in Him.

According to the Bible, God is involved in our decision making at several levels.

First, He has provided the resources for making decisions that are acceptable to Him. He has revealed His moral will in its totality. He has instructed us in His Word to seek wisdom for making decisions, and has informed us how to do it.

Further, He has given us a new nature which makes obedience of His moral will possible. As a loving Father, He has equipped us with everything we need to make decisions that are pleasing to Him. As we work through the process of arriving at a decision, God is continually present and working within us. The words of Paul remind us that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Specifically, His grace enables us to trust in Him (Acts 18:27). He gives the believer the desire to obey His will. By His Spirit, He provides the enablement to keep His commandments.

Furthermore, it is God who sovereignly opens doors of opportunity for us. When we ask for wisdom, He gives it through the channels He has established for our benefit. He also answers the related prayers we offer concerning our decisions. And He brings to successful completion those of our plans that are within His sovereign will. Along the way, He utilizes the circumstances and the very process of decision- making to change our character and bring us to maturity.

Finally, He works through our decisions to accomplish His purposes – not only in us, but through us. We can trust that if anything more is needed for guidance – such as an audible voice, an angelic messenger, or some other form of supernatural revelation – He will supply it just as He has when it was necessary in times past.

Decision Making and the Will of God

Life’s Storms: What Guides You Through Them?

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Karl Benzio/Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

What Instrument Panel Guides Your Flight?

I have a friend who is a pilot and I’ve flown with him on several occasions. I asked him if he felt flying through storms was dangerous. He said, “No, but as any pilot will tell you, the danger comes in giving into the temptation to fly by your instincts instead of using the instrument panel.” He went on to explain how easy it is to become disoriented if you rely on instincts – thinking the plane is going up when it’s actually going down. Thankfully, the instrument panel is set to magnetic north and can be trusted every time, no matter how bad the conditions might be. He said that letting the instruments guide you … even when it feels wrong … ensures safety in the storm.

We all face storms that not just threaten, but actually confuse and disorient us:

Experiencing an ominous call from the doctor’s office, having a significant conflict with a loved one or friend, enduring a financial setback, coping with an unexpected obstacle in your day, dealing with a shattered dream, or seeing a child struggle are situations that require special care.

When you are blinded by life’s disappointments, don’t trust your instincts.

Flying by the seat of your pants during life’s storms can lead to despair, confusion, wrong words, addiction relapse, or vengeful responses that make matters worse … and this is exactly where Satan wants you to be.

God wants to guide you, and His Word is packed with wisdom and insights for living. The bottom line is this: No matter what, you have to need trust in something to guide you during you stormy times. So, what will be your trusted instrument panel? How will you ground yourself? With the truth, or with lies?

Go to your Bible and trust God. Trust His promises and character. Let His instructions and principles guide you through the storms of your life.  Storms are inevitable, but today, in your next small or major storm, make the decision to use God as your instrument panel.

If you are experiencing a conflict, examine what you are leaning on for instruction. What instrument panel are you using to guide and interpret the situation to determine a course of action? Then compare it to God’s power and track record and His word. You definitely want to follow where His instrument panel guides you. Whether you are being guided by God or you follow the world’s teaching is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I seem to spend a lot of my life in storms … worse yet, I get disoriented easily. Help me trust in Your sovereignty as these storms come my way. I turn now to You God, to help me know what is up and what is down. I want to rely on You as my instrument panel and my lighthouse … teach me how to develop antennae for Your signals, and how to follow Your tracking signal. I pray in the name of the ultimate instrument panel, Jesus Christ; – AMEN!

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Remembering Zig Ziglar In Quotes

SOURCE:  Adapted from a posting by Keiki Hendrix/Vessel Project

Zig Ziglar, beloved author and motivational speaker died in Plano, Texas on [November 28, 2012]. He was a World War II veteran who founded ‘The Ziglar Way’ and wrote more than 30 books.

All who have read him, knew him or admired him collectively sighed. He brought much to this world and what he left was much more.

As a quote collector, Zig Ziglar is a goldmine. I love to read his quotes. As we all remember Zig Ziglar, here’s a few of my favorite quotes by Zig Ziglar.

1. If God would have wanted us to live in a permissive society He would have given us Ten Suggestions and not Ten Commandments.

2. Building a better you is the first step to building a better America.

3. If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.

4. If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you’ll never end up with a nag.

5. Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the “gotta have it” scale.

6. Every obnoxious act is a cry for help.

7. People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

8. Money won’t make you happy… but everybody wants to find out for themselves.

9. You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.

10. The way you see people is the way you treat them.

11. Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs.

12. Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.

13. A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.

14. There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.

15. You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.

16. Some people find fault like there is a reward for it.

17. Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.

18. The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.

19. Don’t become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific.

20. When you put faith, hope and love together, you can raise positive kids in a negative world.

21. Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.

22. Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember ~ the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.

Pornography: Q & A — Should I Marry A Man With Porn Struggles?

SOURCE:  Russell Moore

Should I Marry a Man with Pornography Struggles?

A couple of months ago, I posted a question about an ethical dilemma a recently engaged woman is facing. She just found out that her spouse to-be has had “ongoing struggles with pornography.” She isn’t sure what to do, or how to make sure the issue is sufficiently addressed. You gave your thoughts on the issue, and here are mine.

Dear Engaged and Confused,

Far too many women are watching “The Notebook” or “Twilight” for indicators on what kind of man they should marry. Instead, you probably should watch “The Wolf Man.”

Have you ever seen any of those old werewolf movies? You know, those in which the terrified man, dripping with sweat, chains himself in the basement and says to his friends, “Whatever you do, no matter what I say or how I beg, don’t let me out of there.” He sees the full-moon coming and he’s taking action to protect everyone against himself.

In a very real sense, that’s what the Christian life is about. We all have points of vulnerability, areas of susceptibility to sin and self-destruction. There are beings afoot in the universe who watch these points and who know how to collaborate with our biology and our environment to slaughter us.

Wisdom means knowing where those weak points are, recognizing deception for what it is, and warring against ourselves in order to maintain fidelity to Christ and to those God has given us.

What worries me about your situation is not that your potential husband has a weakness for pornography, but that you are just now finding out about it. That tells me he either doesn’t see it as the marriage-engulfing horror that it is, or that he has been too paralyzed with shame.

What you need is not a sinless man. You need a man deeply aware of his sin and of his potential for further sin. You need a man who can see just how capable he is of destroying himself and your family. And you need a man with the wisdom to, as Jesus put it, gouge out whatever is dragging him under to self-destruction.

This means a man who knows how to subvert himself. I’d want to know who in his life knows about the porn and how they, with him, are working to see to it that he can’t transgress without exposure. I’d want to know from him how he plans to see to it that he can’t hide this temptation from you, after the marriage.

It may mean that the nature of his temptation means that you two shouldn’t have computer in the house. It might mean that you have immediate transcription of all his Internet activity. It might be all sorts of obstacles that he’s placing in his way. The point is that, in order to love you,  he must fight (Eph. 5:25; Jn. 10), and part of that fight will be against himself.

Pornography is a universal temptation precisely because it does exactly what the satanic powers wish to do. It lashes out at the Trinitarian nature of reality, a loving communion of persons, replacing it with a masturbatory Unitarianism.

And pornography strikes out against the picture of Christ and his church by disrupting the one-flesh union, leaving couples like our prehistoric ancestors, hiding from one another and from God in the darkness of shame.

And pornography rages, as Satan always does, against Incarnation (1 Jn. 4:2-3), replacing flesh-to-flesh intimacy with the illusion of fleshless intimacy.

There’s not a guarantee that you can keep your marriage from infidelity, either digital or carnal, but you can make sure the man you’re following into it knows the stakes, knows how to repent, and knows the meaning of fighting the world, the flesh, and the devil all the way to a cross.

In short, find a man who knows what his “full moon” is, what it is that drives him to vulnerability to his beastly self. Find a man who knows how to subvert himself, and how to ask others to help.

You won’t find a silver bullet for all of this, but you just might find a gospel-clinging wolf man.

(Image Credit)

Momentary Pleasure: What’s Your “Bowl of Soup?”

SOURCE:  Charles Stanley/In Touch Ministries

The Lure of Momentary Pleasure

You probably read the story of Jacob and Esau today and thought, I can’t believe Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. How foolish! But let’s think beyond birthrights and soup. Is there anything of true value that you are trading for something of lesser worth?

In other words, what is your “bowl of soup”?

Have you pursued wealth and a career at the expense of family? Maybe your busy schedule has kept you from spending time with God in His Word each day. Some people become involved in extramarital affairs, trading the well-being of their family for the satisfaction of lustful desires. Others sacrifice their health by consuming harmful or addictive substances, or even by overindulging in food. The list of ways we make foolish, shortsighted choices is endless.

Some of the decisions we make today could rob us of the blessings God wants to give us. When you yield to temptation in a moment of weakness, you’re actually sacrificing your future for momentary pleasure. We can’t afford to live thoughtlessly, basing our decisions on immediate desires or feelings. Since the principle of sowing and reaping cannot be reversed, we need to carefully consider what we are planting. The harvest will come, and we’ll reap what we have sown–and more than we’ve sown.

Are you contemplating anything that could have serious long-term ramifications if you yield to the yearning? A wise person evaluates choices by looking ahead to see what negative consequences could follow a course of action.

Don’t let “a bowl of soup” hinder God’s wonderful plans for you.

Are You Guilty of Being Too Nice?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Do you ever find yourself saying “yes” when you want to (or should) say “no”? For example, several years back, a graduate student asked me if I thought she would make a good counselor. I knew her gifts weren’t strongest in that area, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She left our conversation believing I thought she was capable.

We all do it. We say “yes” when our honest response should be “no”. But let’s take a look at the cost of being too nice.

We Hurt People

It amazes me how unaware we are of how we injure people by being too nice. Isn’t that why we’re nice to begin with? We don’t want to hurt people? When I wasn’t completely honest with my intern, I unintentionally hurt her. She spent time, energy, and money pursuing a career that didn’t reflect her true calling.

In another example, Lydia worked hard to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother. But the more she gave, the more her husband and children took, with little concern or even awareness of Lydia’s needs.

Lydia became exhausted caring for everyone with no one giving back to her. Over time, Lydia’s niceness enabled her family to become more and more self-centered, self-absorbed, and selfish. Lydia didn’t mean to, but she weakened her husband and children by not inviting them into a more reciprocal relationship.

Here’s another way we wound people by being too nice. Debbie was a new believer who attended Nancy’s Bible study at church. Debbie began phoning Nancy at home, asking a question or wanting to talk something through.

Debbie always took Nancy’s calls, but soon grew weary. She didn’t want to discourage her new friend, but found her neediness overwhelming. Instead of being more honest with Debbie and setting a better schedule for phone calls, Nancy started using her caller ID to screen her calls. Eventually Debbie caught on and felt hurt and abandoned. Nancy’s niceness gave Debbie the impression that she was always available any time night or day.

When we are too nice and fail to set appropriate boundaries, we may not mean to, but we hurt people. The only person who can be always available without getting crabby or tired is God. Don’t try to do his job. You will fail every time and the other person will get hurt.

We Hurt Ourselves

There is nothing unbiblical about being wise with who you give yourself to. While in college, Sharon took a walk with a young man she wasn’t attracted to, nor was she very comfortable with. She said yes because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings by saying “no thanks”.  During their walk, he sexually assaulted her. Every day she deeply regrets that she was too nice.

It doesn’t have to be a dangerous or suspicious situation for us to learn to simply say “no thank you, I can’t,” or “I don’t want to.” We all have limited resources of time, energy, and money. When we allow others to take from our resources without limits, it’s like giving them unrestricted access to our checking account and then feeling angry when we’re constantly overdrawn.

If giving to someone hurts you, count the cost. Sometimes it’s appropriate to sacrifice yourself for another, and other times it’s foolish. Jesus tells a story about five women who refused to share their lamp oil with five others who did not bring enough for themselves. Instead of rebuking these women for being stingy, Jesus called them wise (Mathew 25:1-13).

We Miss God’s Best

Each day there are endless things and people that clamor for our attention. Oswald Chambers reminds us that “the great enemy of the life of faith is the good that is not good enough.” Don’t allow other people to set your values, your schedule, or your priorities.

Many people asked Jesus to do things for them, but Jesus always looked for what God wanted first–even if it meant disappointing people. (See Mark 1:29-38 or John 11:1-6.) When we are too nice and passively accommodate others, we could very well miss God’s best.

Finally, here are some steps to help you stop being too nice:

1.  Understand that nice isn’t one of the fruits of the Spirit. Being kind doesn’t mean you always say “yes.” It means that you learn to say “no” kindly.

2.  Before you say “yes,” stop and say, “Let me think about that. I’ll get back to you.” This will give you time to think through whether you’re being too nice or if you really feel led to do it.

3.  Let go of guilt. You can’t be all things to all people nor do everything people want.

Jesus was perfect, and he still disappointed people.

Am I Wise or Foolish? What’s The Difference?

SOURCE:  Michael Hyatt

THE PRIMARY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WISE AND FOOLISH

A few weeks ago, a business acquaintance called to discuss a challenge he was facing at work. As usual, I began with a few questions, trying to understand the context and the issues involved.

It quickly became apparent that he didn’t want to change. In fact, the entire conversation was about why he couldn’t change, why he didn’t need to change, and why he wasn’t responsible for the results he was getting.

Ten minutes into the discussion, I realized I was dealing with a fool. There was no point in continuing the conversation. More talk would not change anything.

In Chapter 7 of his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud deals with the difference between wise people and fools. It has given me clarity about something I have struggled with for years.

The difference between a wise person and a fool is not about:

  • Position. Plenty of business leaders, pastors, and politicians are fools. Conversely, I have met wise executive assistants, gardeners, and even one shoe shine man.
  • Intelligence. I know fools with masters degrees and Ph.Ds. Some of them teach in universities and have written books. Conversely, I know wise people who never graduated from high school and a few who can’t read.
  • Talent. I know fools who are successful entrepreneurs, worship leaders, and television pundits. I know wise people with average talent and modest income.

According to King Solomon, there is one major thing that differentiates a wise person from a fool: how he or she receives instruction and correction.

(See, for example, Proverbs 1:5; 9:8–9; 10:8; 12:15; 15:12; 17:10; and 19:20.)

A wise person:

  1. Listens without being defensive.
  2. Accepts responsibility without blame.
  3. Changes without delay.

If you are dealing with a wise person, talking is helpful. They soak up feedback and use it to adjust their lives for the better. Your input can truly make a difference.

If you are dealing with a fool, however, talking is a waste of your time. They resist change. The problem is never “in the room.” It’s always out there somewhere—something you can neither access nor address.

I have always wondered why some conversations never seem to go any where. Instead, I am left confused and frustrated. Now I know. This inevitably happens when you are talking with a fool.

By the way, this doesn’t mean that you have to write fools off. Instead, you have to change strategies. More talk won’t help a fool. Instead, you must:

  1. Stop talking.
  2. Provide limits.
  3. Give consequences.

If this topic interests you, I recommend you read Necessary Endings. Honestly, it is one of the best books I have read in the last year.

God’s Wise Ways: End The Misery — or — Strengthen Me In It?

SOURCE:  Charles Spurgeon

If He strengthens me

It may not please God to lessen the burden, but it comes to the same thing if he strengthens the back.

He may not recall the soldier from the battle, but if he gives him a greater stomach for the fight, and increased strength for its toils, it may be better still for him.

“The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Give a man health in his countenance, and he laughs at that which would have crushed him had he been in another mood.

There are times when the grasshopper becomes a burden, and there are other seasons when with undaunted spirit we can say, “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubabel thou shalt become a plain.”

From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled “The Secret Of Health,” delivered March 25, 1875.

Q & A: Should I Marry a Man with Pornography Struggles?

SOURCE: Taken from an article by  Russell D. Moore

A recently engaged woman just found out that her spouse to-be has had “ongoing struggles with pornography.” She isn’t sure what to do, or how to make sure the issue is sufficiently addressed.  The following is a response by Dr. Moore:

Far too many women are watching “The Notebook” or “Twilight” for indicators on what kind of man they should marry. Instead, you probably should watch “The Wolf Man.”

Have you ever seen any of those old werewolf movies? You know, those in which the terrified man, dripping with sweat, chains himself in the basement and says to his friends, “Whatever you do, no matter what I say or how I beg, don’t let me out of there.” He sees the full-moon coming and he’s taking action to protect everyone against himself.

In a very real sense, that’s what the Christian life is about. We all have points of vulnerability, areas of susceptibility to sin and self-destruction. There are beings afoot in the universe who watch these points and who know how to collaborate with our biology and our environment to slaughter us.

Wisdom means knowing where those weak points are, recognizing deception for what it is, and warring against ourselves in order to maintain fidelity to Christ and to those God has given us.

What worries me about your situation is not that your potential husband has a weakness for pornography, but that you are just now finding out about it. That tells me he either doesn’t see it as the marriage-engulfing horror that it is, or that he has been too paralyzed with shame.

What you need is not a sinless man. You need a man deeply aware of his sin and of his potential for further sin. You need a man who can see just how capable he is of destroying himself and your family. And you need a man with the wisdom to, as Jesus put it, gouge out whatever is dragging him under to self-destruction.

This means a man who knows how to subvert himself. I’d want to know who in his life knows about the porn and how they, with him, are working to see to it that he can’t transgress without exposure. I’d want to know from him how he plans to see to it that he can’t hide this temptation from you, after the marriage.

It may mean that the nature of his temptation means that you two shouldn’t have computer in the house. It might mean that you have immediate transcription of all his Internet activity. It might be all sorts of obstacles that he’s placing in his way. The point is that, in order to love you,  he must fight (Eph. 5:25; Jn. 10), and part of that fight will be against himself.

Pornography is a universal temptation precisely because it does exactly what the satanic powers wish to do. It lashes out at the Trinitarian nature of reality, a loving communion of persons, replacing it with a masturbatory Unitarianism.

And pornography strikes out against the picture of Christ and his church by disrupting the one-flesh union, leaving couples like our prehistoric ancestors, hiding from one another and from God in the darkness of shame.

And pornography rages, as Satan always does, against Incarnation (1 Jn. 4:2-3), replacing flesh-to-flesh intimacy with the illusion of fleshless intimacy.

There’s not a guarantee that you can keep your marriage from infidelity, either digital or carnal, but you can make sure the man you’re following into it knows the stakes, knows how to repent, and knows the meaning of fighting the world, the flesh, and the devil all the way to a cross.

In short, find a man who knows what his “full moon” is, what it is that drives him to vulnerability to his beastly self. Find a man who knows how to subvert himself, and how to ask others to help.

You won’t find a silver bullet for all of this, but you just might find a gospel-clinging wolf man.

————————————————————————————————————-

Dr. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of several books, including The Kingdom of ChristAdopted for Life, andTempted and Tried.

One Stupid Decision Away

Editors Note:  We need reminders that all of us are only one stupid decision away from destroying our lives and our legacy.  It’s probably safe to say that none of us wakes up in the morning making plans toward intentionally running headlong into a destructive and disastrous life choice.  However, one bad decision can become two. Two can become three. And eventually, these decisions can cascade into a horrible, unexpected end.  Sadly, for years  to come, our present decisions can carry the consequences of what seemed to “make sense” in the present moment.  

(Proverbs 3:5-6) 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 

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ARTICLE SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Michael Hyatt

 

What are the lessons for us? We still have choices ahead. I think there are at least five (that help us make better decisions):

  1. We never make decisions in a vacuum. Everything matters. Our words and actions will echo into eternity.
  2. One moment of indiscretion will be remembered forever. It can wipe away a lifetime of good deeds, all of which will be forgotten.
  3. We are all vulnerable to lapses in judgment. If we think we are not, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
  4. We need to build a support system of family and friends who will care enough to challenge us when we veer off course.
  5. We need to live our lives on-purpose. In my experience, the best way to do this is to create a life plan and review it frequently. If you don’t have a road map, you could end up anywhere.

As humans, we have the privilege of determining our legacy. We can decide how we want to be remembered. But this is not a single choice; it is a series of choices. It’s never too late to change course and make your life count.

Puritan Advice on Discovering God’s Will

SOURCE:  Jonathan Parnell based on the work by John Flavel

If therefore in doubtful cases you would discover God’s will, govern yourselves in your search after it by the following rules:

  1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts. Be really afraid of offending him. God will not hide his mind from such a soul. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
  2. Study the Word more, and the concerns and interests of the world less. The Word is light to your feet (Psalm 119:105), that is, it has a discovering and directing usefulness as to all duties to be done and dangers to be avoided. . .
  3. Reduce what you know into practice, and you shall know what is your duty to practice. “If any man do his will he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17). “A good understanding have all they that do his commandments” (Psalm 111:10).
  4. Pray for illumination and direction in the way that you should go. Beg the Lord to guide you in straits and that he would not permit you to fall into sin. . .
  5. And this being done, follow Providence so far as it agrees with the Word and no further. There is no use to be made of Providence against the Word, but in subservience to it.

John Flavel (1627–1691) was an English Presbyterian clergyman and author.

The Mystery of Providence, 1678, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2006), 188-9, emphasis mine.

Are Evil And Suffering God’s Will?

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by  John MacArthur

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

Many people assume that somehow everything that happens is God’s will. But that’s not true. Lives destroyed by murderous aggressors and families broken by adultery aren’t God’s will. Children and adults ravaged by abuse or crippled by disease aren’t God’s will. He uses sin and illness to accomplish His own purposes (Rom. 8:28), but they aren’t His desire.

Eventually God will destroy all evil and fulfill His will perfectly (Rev. 20:10-14), but that hasn’t happened yet. That’s why we must pray for His will to be done on earth. We can’t afford to be passive or indifferent in prayer. We must pray aggressively and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).

That’s how David prayed. His passion for God’s will compelled him to pray, “Make me understand the way of Thy precepts, so I will meditate on Thy wonders. . . . I shall run the way of Thy commandments, for Thou wilt enlarge my heart. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, and keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it” (Ps. 119:2732-35).

But David also prayed, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God. But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; yes, let them rejoice with gladness” (Ps. 68:1-3). He loved God’s will, but he also hated everything that opposed it.

When you truly pray for God’s will to be done, you are aggressively pursuing His will for your own life and rebelling against Satan, his evil world system, and everything else that is at odds with God’s will.   Pray for wisdom to see beyond your circumstances to what God wants  to accomplish through them.

Be Lovingly/Honestly “Different” With Your Kids

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by  Stepping Stones

Transformational Thought

Some mothers prepare their teenage daughters for premarital sexual activities by helping them with birth control plans. They may feel guilty asking their teenage daughters to abstain from sex outside of marriage, especially if they, as teenagers themselves, did not. Likewise, some fathers may allow their teenage sons to drink alcohol … after all, they did when they were teens … how can they say “no” now?
 
No matter what mistakes we may have made, that is history. If we have received Jesus’ forgiveness, the past is past. This is today … and God is calling us today to train our children in the way they should go. The way that is pleasing to Him.
 
But for your message to have real impact on them you need to do 3 things:
1.      Don’t just tell them the right decision to make, but live it, role model it.
2.      Understand the reasons that those behaviors aren’t good and explain them to your child. Your explanations need to go deeper than “the bible says so” or “because you’ll get in trouble”.
3.      Start equipping them with a concrete strategy so they can become better decision-makers. Teach them decision-making skills and the rewards and consequences they will experience physiologically (their brain chemistry), psychologically (their personality), and spiritually (their connection to and relationship with God). Knowing the benefits of doing the right thing will help motivate them to do the right thing.
 
Today, remember you don’t have to do it alone. Ask God for the courage, the strength, and the wisdom to train your children in the way they should go. Today, do some self-assessment and see how you disciple those God gave to you to mentor with decision-making skills.  
Prayer
Dear God, help me to guide and disciple my children so that they won’t make the same mistakes that I did. Help me to train them in the way they should go. Help me understand how You designed me and why I make the decisions I make. Help me learn how to make Godly decisions and teach these principles and motivations to my children. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One You sent to train me in the way I should go, Jesus Christ;  

The Truth
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6
 
The Lord your God will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is within your reach. Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 30:10-11, 19-20

Six Tests To Fine-Tune A Decision

SOURCE:  Unknown

The basis for making great decisions:

“…if you …turn your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding…if you look for it…and search for it…then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path.”   (see Prov. 2: 1-9)

Make use of the following “tests” as guidelines to determine if a potential decision is wise and rests upon a solid foundation.

1.  The IDEAL Test:  Is it in harmony with the Bible?

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.   (Ps. 119:105)

2.  The INTEGRITY Test:  Would I want everyone to know about this decision I am making?

“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”   (Prov. 10:9)

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”   (James 4:17)

3.  The IMPROVEMENT Test:  Will it make me a better person?

“Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive.”   (1 Cor. 10:23)

4.  The DEPENDENCE Test:  Could it become addictive or controlling and begin to dominate my life?

“Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me –but I will not be mastered by anything.     (1 Cor. 6:12)

5.  The INFLUENCE Test:  Will it harm other people?

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God…make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.”   (Rom. 14:12-13)

“Be careful, however that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak…When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.”   (1 Cor. 8: 9, 12)

6.  The INVESTMENT Test:  Is it the best use of my time and life-resources?

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”   (Eph. 5:15-17)

Quotations of BILLY SUNDAY

SOURCE –  Adapted From:  Keiki Hendrix

Brief Biography
Billy Sunday (1862-1935), was a professional baseball player from 1883 to 1891 for Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia teams.

He was converted through the street preaching of Harry Monroe of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.

He left a $5,000 a year salary as a baseball player for a $75 a month for the previously evangelistic YMCA. From 1893 to 1895 was associated with J. Wilbur Chapman.

He was an evangelist from 1893 to 1935. It is estimated that over 300,000 people walked the “sawdust trail” to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. (Adapted from “The Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church,” page 387, Elgin S. Moyer, 1982, ©Moody Press, Chicago, IL)

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+Let’s quit fiddling with religion and do something to bring the world to Christ.

+If you want to drive the devil out of the world, hit him with a cradle instead of a crutch.

+I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as   I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!

+Live so that when the final summons comes you will leave something more behind you than an epitaph on a tombstone or an obituary in a newspaper.

+The Lord is not compelled to use theologians. He can take snakes, sticks or anything else, and use them for the advancement of his cause.

+I believe that a long step toward public morality will have been taken when sins are called by their right names.

+Your reputation is what people say about you. Your character is what God and your wife know about you.

+If you took no more care of yourself physically than spiritually, you’d be just as dried up physically as you are spiritually.

+If you live wrong you can’t die right.

+Look into the preaching Jesus did and you will find it was aimed straight at the big sinners on the front seats.

+If good preaching could save the world, it would have been done long ago.

+Churches don’t need new members half so much as they need the old bunch made over.

+There wouldn’t be so many non-church goers if there were not so many non-going churches.

+There are some so-called Christian homes today with books on the shelves of the library that have no more business there than a rattler crawling about on the floor, or a poison within the child’s reach.

+Too many churches are little more than four walls and a roof.

+Home is the place we love best and grumble the most.

+I don’t believe there are devils enough in hell to pull a boy out of the arms of a godly mother.

+There is nothing in the world of art like the songs mother used to sing.

+To train a boy in the way he should go you must go that way yourself.

+Don’t stop with telling your boy to do right. Show him how.

+Be careful, father, or while you are taking one lap around the devil’s track your boy will make six.

+If you would have your children turn out well, don’t turn your home into a lunch counter and lodging house.

+Not to walk in the straight and narrow way yourself, is to give the devil the biggest kind of a chance to get our children.

+Some homes need a hickory switch a good deal more than they do a piano.

+Better die an old maid, sister, than marry the wrong man.

+Whiskey is all right in its place — but its place is hell.

+The normal way to get rid of drunkards is to quit raising drunkards — to put the business that makes drunkards out of business.

+Riches have never yet given anybody either peace or rest.

+It won’t save your soul if your wife is a Christian. You have got to be something more than a brother-in-law to the Church.

+You can’t raise the standard of women’s morals by raising their pay envelope. It lies deeper than that.

+The reason you don’t like the Bible, you old sinner, is because it knows all about you.

+Going to church doesn’t make a man a Christian, any more than going to a garage makes him an automobile.

+The difference between God’s side and the devil’s is the difference between heaven and hell.

+God keeps no half-way house. It’s either heaven or hell for you and me.

+A man can slip into hell with his hand on the door-knob of heaven.

+The Bible will always be full of things you cannot understand, as long as you will not live according to those you can understand.

+The inconsistency is not in the Bible, but in your life.

+God likes a little humor, as is evidence by the fact that he made the monkeys, the parrot — and some of you people.

+Yank some of the groans out of your prayers, and shove in some shouts.

+If you are strangers to prayer you are strangers to power.

+What have you given the world it never possessed before you came?

+The Bible says forgive your debtors; the world says “sue them for their dough.”

+Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.

+I am not the author of the plan of salvation, but I am responsible for the way I preach it.

+I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world’s heart for two thousand years.

+When I hit the devil square in the face some people go away as mad as if I had slapped them in the mouth.

+The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn’t hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees.

+To discover a flaw in our makeup is a chance to get rid of it, and add a new line of beauty to our life.

+It is not necessary to be in a big place to do big things.

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