Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 3, January 18, 2019: Commitment

What is Commitment?

Commitment is defined by Merriam Webster as: “1. an agreement or pledge to do something in the future, 2. a commitment to a cause.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commitment). Cambridge English Dictionary says it is “a promise to give yourself, your money, your time, etc., to support or buy something” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/commitment). The Urban Dictionary expands upon these definitions by adding, “Commitment is what transforms the promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions and the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none; coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.” (https://www.urbandictionary.com/.php?term=commitment)

Under the word “commit,” the ISBE lists passages that use the Hebrew words galal, paqad, natan, and sim (Job. 5:8; Ps. 10:14; 22:8; Jer. 11:20; 20:12; Ezek. 27:24; Isa. 22:21; and Lev. 6:14). Also there are passages where the Greek words paradidomi, paratithemi, and didomi, are found (Lk. 23:46; Acts 8:3; 14:23; Rom. 6:17; 1Tim. 1:18; 2Pet. 2:4; and Rev. 20:4). Then, by way of explanation, it is stated, “In these references, “commit” is used in the sense ‘entrust.’” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, G. W. Bromiley, General Editor, Volume One, p. 751).

Though the Bible does not contain the word “commitment,” it certainly does have a great deal to say about the concept of commitment. To convey this idea of “a promise to give yourself to support a cause,” The Bible uses words like “faithful” (Lk. 16:10-13), “doer” (Js. 1:20-25), “works” (Js. 4:14-26), “boldness” (Phil. 1:20; 1Thess. 2:2), etc. If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of commitment.

The Heart of A Champion Foundation tells those that are enrolled in its Character Development Program, “It is challenging to be a person of commitment today because we live in a world where commitment seems to have little value. Yet, clearly, those who are committed to relationships, their jobs, and upholding a standard of honesty are those who achieve the greatest and most long-lasting success and personal fulfillment…. Your commitments are tested on a daily basis. You have been given great talents and abilities. But crossing the finish line will depend on your level of commitment. Quitting is always hardest the first time. From then on, it becomes easier and easier. Don’t quit! Be a person of commitment and GO THE DISTANCE!” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 3)

Consider the following areas where we can demonstrate commitment and some examples Of people who have done just that  …

Commitment to What is Right

The story of Louis Zamperini is pretty unbelievable. He is perhaps most well known for being a Japanese prisoner of war survivor. But prior to his war exploits, Zamperini was known as an athlete who took up running in high school and participated for the US in the 5,000 meter race in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1941, he was commissioned into the United States Army Air Forces as a lieutenant. He served as a bombardier in B-24 Liberators in the Pacific. On a search and rescue mission, mechanical difficulties forced Zamperini’s plane to crash into the ocean. After drifting at sea for 47 days, he landed on the Japanese occupied Marshall Islands and was captured. He was taken to a prison camp in Japan where he was tortured. Following the war he initially struggled to overcome his ordeal. In a televised interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network in 2003, Zamperini related that after the war, he had nightmares about strangling his former captors and began drinking heavily, trying to forget his experiences as a POW. While attending one of the evangelistic crusades led by Billy Graham in Los Angeles, he was reminded of his prayers during his time on the life raft and imprisonment, and Zamperini recommitted his life to Christ. Following this, he forgave his captors, and his nightmares ceased.

Later Graham helped Zamperini launch a new career as an evangelist. One of his recurring themes was forgiveness, and he visited many of the guards from his POW days to let them know that he had forgiven them. This included an October 1950 visit to Sugamo Prison in Tokyo, where many war criminals were imprisoned, and where he expressed forgiveness to them. Zamperini told CBN that some became Christians in response. Zamperini’s life story has been captured in the biography by Laura Hillenbrand Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption and the hit movie Unbroken.

“It is said that when we forgive, it is as if we are releasing someone from a sort of ‘mental prison’ that we create for them. This is true, but it is also true that we release something within ourselves when we forgive. When unforgiveness remains in us, it simmers into bitterness, and bitterness will eat away at your soul. According to medical professionals, bitterness can cause depression and even lead to various physical maladies. But when we forgive, we release that bitterness, and in so doing, release ourselves from our own ‘emotional prison’. A commitment to do what is right means a commitment to forgive others. When you forgive, you are embodying the greatest act of love and power you can ever know. So do the right thing. Go the distance in your relationships by forgiving others.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 4)

Joe Ehrmann is another example of one who has a commitment to what is right. Ehrmann has developed a program called Building Men for Others, utilizing his 13-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL and his 10-years’ experience as a volunteer high school defensive line coach. He works to tear down stereotypes that are common criteria for manhood: athletic ability, sexual conquest, and financial success. He says, “These standard, consistently set young men up for failure. It gives this concept that what we need to do as men is compare what we have and compete with others for what they have. Ultimately, as adults, we compare bank accounts and job titles, houses and cars, and we compete for the amount of security and power that those represent. We compare; we compete. That’s all we ever do. It leaves most men feeling isolated and alone. And it destroys any concept of community.”

Ehrmann offers an alternative, what he calls “strategic masculinity.” In his definition, manhood is based on two keys: relationships and having a cause beyond yourself. He “reinforces these principles through stories and lessons about being a man built for others. Serving others, empathy, inclusion and integrity are preached. A code of conduct is emphasized: accepting responsibility, leading courageously, enacting justice on behalf of others. Team rules are unorthodox: no player should allow another student to sit by himself in the lunchroom; no boy is ever cut from the team; every senior plays; coaches must always teach by building up rather than tearing down.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 6)

Commitment to People

Clayton Lillard is an example of one who has a commitment to people. Clayton, while still an elementary school student, had a dream of helping children. Clayton discovered he could salvage old bicycle parts to build refurbished bikes for needy children. Writes Linda Owen, “It all began in 1998 when he found two battered bikes on top of a pile of brush in his San Antonio neighborhood. The thought hit him: It would be really great to fix up those bikes and give them to kids who don’t have one….  Since that first year, “Clayton’s Backyard Crew” has repaired and donated more than 600 bikes through area churches’ Angel Tree ministries, which give Christmas presents to kids who have a parent in jail. ‘The kids think the bikes are from their incarcerated parent,’ says Clayton, now 16. ‘That’s OK with me. Just seeing the excitement on their faces as they realize ‘My Daddy loves me!’ is the best reward.’ Whenever he can, Clayton makes sure they know their Heavenly Father loves them, too; and that’s why Jesus was born. ‘This was God’s idea,’ says Clayton. ‘He just allowed me to be the instrument that he used to bring his love to the children.’” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/truelifestories/interestingpeople/25.16.html)

Clayton says this on his go fund me page, “In 1999, at the age of 10, and with the essential help of my mother, Vicki Gil, I founded a community project called Clayton’s Backyard Crew (CBC).  Originally, we received bicycle donations from around the city of San Antonio and would restore them to be delivered as Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents.   Over the next 14 years we were able to successfully donate over 1,200 bicycles to these at risk youth.  We’ve been on a brief hiatus (I moved out of state for college and have since settled down in Austin, TX) but we are bringing CBC back into operation for 2014!” His current status shows $1,285 raised of $7,500 goal, with no donations made in 50 months. (https://www.gofundme.com/thebackyardcrew)

“So many people say they want to help those who are needy, but few ever actually do it. All around you there are people with serious needs – physical, emotional, spiritual. But what they most need is to know that someone cares about them. That doesn’t happen because of one phone call, letter visit, or extended hand of assistance. It happens when we turn one call, one visit, one letter, or one extended hand into a series of them reflecting a longer-term commitment. People need to know someone is committed to them. This gives them hope. Spouses, children, friends, the needy – all those in your relationship circle throughout your lifetime need to know you will be there for them. Your commitment shows them that there is at least one person who will be there for them. Nothing provides them greater human comfort. Remember, a champion looks for opportunities to make the lives of those around them better. R U Committed?” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 7)

Ruth Jones is another example of one who has a commitment to people. Jones’ work with the Henry Paideia Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has earned her numerous honors, awards and accolades, as well as visits from former Michigan Governor John Engler and President George W. Bush. From 1994 to 2004 she was responsible for taking the inner-city school from the brink of closure, because of poor academic performance to a top-performing institution.

“Jones began a multi-faceted approach to change. She began to address the constant sadness and depression she saw in students. She also addressed their practical needs. It was common for many children to come to school dirty, so Jones had four washing machines and dryers installed at school. Children were now able to have clean clothes, which kept them from what Jones saw as unnecessary embarrassment. Eventually Jones instituted school uniforms for all students, which she said made an almost immediate impact. The reduced peer pressure related to clothing translated into reduced conflict.”

“The keys to her success, say her peers, are Jones’ ability to care for each student and her commitment to give her students the same quality of life as children from wealthier neighborhoods. ‘We act like just because a child is poor, they are going to be able to do without all the things our kids have and be the same as our kids and out all right,’ Jones says. ‘We so nothing, we reap nothing.’ (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 9)

Commitment to the Truth

Mack White made some very bad choices that landed him in a juvenile justice facility in Texas for three years. While incarcerated he was forced to confront some difficult truths that led him to change his heart and become a more productive citizen. With the help of Mike and Carmen Studer, who asked Mack to come and live with them, he gained confidence and came to appreciate that nothing is impossible if you are willing to face the most difficult truths about yourself. Mack’s story is woven through the movie entitled One Heart. The website says this about the story that forms the basis of the movie and of Mack White’s story that is part of the movie. “Based on the real-life events surrounding a 2008 high school football game, One Heart is the amazing story of the players and coaches from Gainesville State School and Grapevine Faith – two groups from diverse backgrounds whose paths cross to create life-changing hope and inspiration for both teams. Two Teams. Two Cultures. One Heart.

“Reminiscent of The Blind Side, Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, and Chariots of Fire, One Heart is a moving story that transcends sports, touches the heart and shows how a simple act of compassion creates a powerful and lasting impact. One Heart demonstrates the power of unconditional love to transform lives. The film is targeted to both adult and teen audiences as well as the family film audience.

“At the conclusion of the movie, the audience will have the opportunity to join the One Heart Movement and impact a forgotten population of juvenile offenders. The One Heart Project is a public charity that provides a second chance to incarcerated and at-risk youth, through service partners in communities across America, by connecting those activated by the movie.

“The One Heart movie is being produced by Eterné Films in association with Birchwood Pictures…..”

“Mack White experienced first-hand what it is like to be a part of the “cradle to the cage” pipeline. Mack was born into the circumstances and cruelty of inner city life in Houston’s toughest neighborhood only to end up in prison, a two-time felon, at the age of 16. Mack never denies his part in this tragedy, but is convinced that there are ways to keep others from making the same choices and break the cycle. Kids born into cultural depravity are making adult decisions, life altering decisions, at ages as young as 10. With that in mind, Mack is on a mission to teach every kid in America that when opportunity is rare and life’s not fair, preparation is the only way out of his or her snare. Because of Mack’s leadership for good in prison, he earned a reputation that gave him an opportunity to be mentored by a Faith Christian School family who attended the football game that launched this movie. He now lives with this family in Flower Mound and in seven short months he: has obtained his Driver’s license, has begun working, has bought a truck, is working on his GED, has become the domestic spokesperson for Touch A Life Foundation, which works to saves kids in Africa and around the world from slavery, has become a consultant on the movie One Heart. He has recently signed a contract with Kim Dawson Talent and Modeling Agency in Dallas. Mack’s Character is woven throughout movie.

“Mack is now being mentored as a public speaker by Victor Marx.”

(http://www.oneheartmovie.com/story.html)

“Truth, no matter how difficult, is worth standing for at great personal cost. But when we are presented with the truth, we must act upon it. Every truth demands our response, our action. It takes great character to uphold the truth, especially when the truth is difficult to face. BUT YOU CAN DO IT!” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 10)

Carlos Beltran, at the age of 17, was selected in the second round of the June 1995 Free Agent Draft by the Kansas City Royals. He made his major league debut in 1998 and in his first full year in 1999, he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Beltran had dreamed of playing in the major leagues from the time he was 5 years old and promised his parents, “When I get to the big leagues, I am going to buy you a new home.” After the end of the 2002 season, Beltran and his wife Jessica, returned to Puerto Rico, and under the guise of buying the house for themselves, sought the parent’s guidance in selecting items for the house. During a family party on Christmas Eve, Carlos and Jessica presented the house to his parents.

Commitment to Doing Your Best

Sheila Burrell had a dream to be an Olympic gold medalist on the track. She had many of the tools that she needed to achieve her dream: athletic ability, the coaching and the desire. The only thing holding her back was a commitment to do her best.

She did make a commitment to do her best. Sheila competed in the heptathlon. The women’s outdoor heptathlon consists of the following events, with the first four contested on the first day, and the remaining three on day two:

100 meters hurdles

High jump

Shot put

200 meters

Long jump

Javelin throw

800 meters

Sheila was a two-time representative of the United States at the Summer Olympics, competing in 2000 and 2004. Her best Olympic finish was fourth place. She also competed twice at the World Championships in Athletics, which included a bronze medal in 2001. She was also a two-time silver medalist at the 1999 Pan American Games. Her personal best for the heptathlon was 6472 points and she was American national champion on four occasions.

Sheila was disappointed at many of her early performances but she was motivated by the knowledge that there were many who had better records that she beat at the Athens games in 2004. She recognizes that her performance does not define her and she still pushes herself to be the best even though she has retired as a heptahalete. She now coaches women’s track at San Diego State

Drake Hills said of her in a recent article,

“Even in moments of adversity, like the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, injury couldn’t stop Burrell from finishing. After hurting her knee and no-heighting on her first attempt in the high jump, Burrell completed each event, finishing 26th while earning the respect of opponents.

Such character and competitiveness have spilled into Burrell’s coaching career, with stops at Cal State Northridge, Kansas State and Georgetown before she arrived at San Diego State.

“In the end,” Burrell said, “the goal is always for us to finish top 25, win conference indoor and outdoor, and qualify as many athletes as possible for the NCAA finals.

“The goals are the same.”

(“Former heptathlete Burrell ‘creating success’ as SDSU track coach,” by Drake Hills, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 4, 2018 )

Fallon Taylor was blessed with both supermodel looks and world-class rodeo riding skills. During her pre-teen and teen years, she set many barrel racing records and earned more than $250,000. When she was 17, she gave up her barrel racing and moved to New York to focus on another career she had fallen in love with, modeling. But after six years of modelling, Fallon decided that she missed her barrel racing so much that she moved back to her parents’ home in Texas in 2004 to concentrate on both interests.

Fallon broke her C-2 vertebrae in her neck in a horse accident in 2009 but after recovering from that went on to other rodeo successes. She won the World Champion Barrel Race at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in 2014. In addition to barrel racing she has also been a New York model and was the Axe body spray girl, made appearances on several TV shows including Two and a Half Men and started her own clothing company – ranchdressn.com with her two best friends in 2014.

(Source: http://www.wpra.com/index.php/taylor-fallon)

“It is the ultimate dichotomy. Taylor goes from thousands of dollars a day shoots in which she wears elegant outfits and spends hours getting her hair and makeup done, to throw on jeans and cowboy boots and riding horses inside a smelly arena…. Continuing in both professions is grueling, however, Taylor wouldn’t have it any other way. She remains committed to giving her all to make the dual-career work. This once child prodigy is still young a young star on the rise making every day count.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 15)

CONCLUSION

Think about what it takes to demonstrate commitment to what is right, to people, to the truth, and to doing your best. How will you use these examples to motivate your own commitment? John Maxwell tells the story of Michelangelo and the extreme commitment that it took for him to complete the painting of four hundred figures and nine scenes from the book of Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Very likely we will not be asked to make a commitment of that magnitude. Maxwell says Commitment means different things to different people, “To the boxer, it’s getting off the mat one more time than you’ve been knocked down. To the marathoner, it’s running another ten miles when your strength is gone. To the soldier, it’s going over the hill, not knowing what’s waiting on the other side. To the missionary, it’s saying good-bye to your own comfort to make life better for others. To the leader, it’s all that and more because everyone you lead is depending on you.” (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader, pp. 16-18).   

Won’t you be the man that God wants you to be by showing commitment like Jesus did when He went to the cross for us?

Thanks for reading.

–Randy

The Disciplines of Life – Lesson #7: Danger, Daring, and Darkness


This is the seventh lesson in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have studied: Solitude; Discipleship; Dependability & Determination; Discernment, Decision & Duty; and Declining Days, Deformity, & Disability thus far.

There are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. In this lesson we want to look at the Disciplines of Danger, Daring, and Darkness. As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

Danger (Neh. 6:1-19)

Life is full of dangers: physical, social and spiritual. Nehemiah’s experience is illustrative of the discipline of danger. As we read the 6th chapter of the book of Nehemiah, we see described the dangers he faced in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

First, there was the Danger of Intrigue (vv. 1-4).  The enemy sent word to Nehemiah that they would like to meet with him. Nehemiah could only speculate as to the purpose of the meeting, but the text says that “they were planning to harm me” and therefore sent word to them, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” They repeated the request four more times.

Second, there was the Danger of Innuendo (vv. 6-9). They sought to ascribe to him false motives. They said, “It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, a king is in Judah!” Nehemiah’s response was that they were inventing these things in their own minds.

Third, there was the Danger of Intimidation (vv. 10-14). Shemaiah told Nehemiah that, ““Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.” Nehemiah replied to him, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!” Nehemiah realized that God had not spoken to him at all, but rather that Shemaiah had been hired by Tobiah and Sanballat,  hoping to intimidate him and make him sin so that they could accuse and discredit him.

Finally, there was the Danger of Insinuation (vv. 17, 19). The text says, “During those fifty-two days, many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the nobles of Judah…. They kept telling me about Tobiah’s good deeds, and then they told him everything I said. And Tobiah kept sending threatening letters to intimidate me.”  The servant of God may be assaulted by letters sent by others in an attempt to destroy his reputation. Sticking to his duty, in the midst of such a barrage of letters, may very well be the deepest of trials for this servant of God.

The application for us as Christians today is that we may be tempted to turn from our tasks to address the dangers of intrigue, innuendo, intimidation, or insinuation but our safety is in doing our duty (2:3),  putting our trust in God (6:9), standing steadfast and immovable (6:11), and serving in silence. The result for us will be as it was with Nehemiah, “…the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God” (6:15-16). “Danger feared is folly, danger faced is freedom” (Erdman, p.23)

Daring (Joshua 1:6-7)

Joshua illustrates wonderfully the Discipline of Daring. Scripture tells us that after the death of Moses the Lord spoke to Joshua, his assistant and told him “the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:2-5)

There is no indication in Scripture that Joshua hesitated at all, but rather he promptly began giving instructions to his officers, “Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Joshua 1:10-11)

It certainly would not have been unreasonable to expect that he would have exercised the Discipline of Deliberation – “To be sure, there is the discipline of deliberation, wherein one ponders the pathway he should take and restudies the resources he will need for any given enterprise; but there is also the discipline of daring, wherein one decided to do his duty despite every difficult and danger” (Erdman, p.25).

But to deliberate and delay unduly, when God is for us and leading us, is foolish. “Daring can mean the difference between defeat by default and the delight of duty well done” (Ibid). And so God urged him on, ““Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do” (Joshua 1:6-7).

We need that same exhortation today, “Be Strong & Very Courageous!” There are giants as there were then. Joshua had seen them (Num. 13) but he did not concur with the majority report (Num. 13:33; 14:8-9).

Consider these insightful comments by Erdman

  • “Daring sees God, not the giants, the Savior, not the cities walled up to heaven; the promises, not the impossibilities; the authority of God, not the Anakim” (Erdman, p.26). Their minority report said “Let’s go up at once and possess it … (Num. 13:33).
  • Daring often stands alone or in a hopeless minority; and learns therein one of the primary lessons of patience that lead to triumph; dread not the majority that outvotes you nor the mob that would stone you” (Num. 14:10)(Erdman, p.27). Often “…our real foes are not the fierce sons of Anak, but rather are the furtive Achans within our own camp” (Joshua 7) (Erdman, p. 27).
  • There is the Jordan, as well as the giants to hinder us as it did Joshua. The giants may represent spiritual and psychological foes that face us when we would follow God, the Jordan may well represent physical factors that render fortuitous or even foolish any thought of following Him further … There are physical factors that make impossible our obedience to the know will of God…. God had told Joshua to go over this Jordan just as it was. There is a very fine line of differentiation between fanaticism of self-will and the faith of obedience to God’s will; and happy the heart that learns that difference” (Erdman, pp. 28-29).
  • While caution considers and deliberation delays, daring obeys the explicit command of the Lord…. This is a discipline of daring: to be strong when the seeming impossibility stares one in the face; to be very courageous when obedience commands that we put our feet on the brim of certain disaster” (Erdman, pp. 29-30)
  • A life of sight calculates, considers, cautions, and cringes. Whereas a life of faith follows God implicitly” (2Cor. 1:9-10; 4:8) (Erdman, p. 30).
  • “To walk by faith is to face an unending succession of giants, Jordans, and Jerichos and to dare to conquer each one in turn” (Erdman, p. 30).

When we are considering how we should move forward, we must recognize the God’s methods may not be ours. In fact, usually they are not. Consider the methods God chose at Jericho (Josh. 6:16, 20), at Ai (Josh. 8:18, 26) and centuries later with King Jehoshaphat (2nd Chron. 20:22).

“This is the discipline of daring; to discern one’s duty, to do God’s bidding, to delight in His presence, to depend upon His promise, to discover His power as we obey His word, ‘Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do … that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest …’ (Josh. 1:7-9)” (Erdman, p. 31).

Darkness (Isa 50:10)

Finally let’s consider the Discipline of Darkness. To illustrate this discipline, we will look at the statement found in Isaiah 50: 10, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.” The child of God has benefit of wisdom from God’s word, and therefore need not walk in darkness. This truth is confirmed in many New Testament passages, including Col. 3:19; Eph. 5:17; Rom. 12:1-2; Acts 23:11.

But we are also told that the trial of our faith is inevitable (1Pet. 1:7). “This trial of faith provides the discipline of darkness for God’s child, that he may learn to trust his Father in the shadows as well as in the sunshine” (Erdman, p. 34)

Consider several Bible Examples. First consider Joseph. Childhood dreams taught him he would be preeminent among his brothers but his pathway led through hatred, envy, & rejection. His experience in Potiphar’s house was very much a journey through darkness as was his experience in prison. But Joseph was faithful to the mission God called him and God blessed him (Gen. 50:20).

Secondly, consider the example of Jeremiah. He was misunderstood by others, but assured by God (Jer. 15:11, 20). He went deeper into distress and difficulty. But God again assured him (Jer. 39:17, 18).

Third, consider John the Baptist. He was a burning and shining light (Jn. 5:35). But the hatred of the Herodians led him to the dungeon and death. 

Finally, consider Job. There was none like him in all the earth (Job 1:1-8; 2:3). Suddenly he was plunged into dismay, desolation, disease, and despair. Have you ever thought about the “dark night of the soul” reflected in Job’s statements in Job 3:23; 6:8-9; 9:30-31; and 13:24-25?

The darkness brings to us haunting shadows that insinuate ‘God has forgotten to be gracious,’ ‘God concerns not himself with you,’ ‘God’s will would not bring you into the shadow,’ ‘God has forsaken you because you have disobeyed Him,’ and a thousand similar subtle snares of Satan. On the contrary, the discipline of darkness can show us the wonderful truth of Isa. 50:10 …Our temptation is to give up all hope in the dark or else to kindle a fire of our own (Isa. 50:11) which will prove to be loss and sorrow. Rather we find heart and mind are stayed upon the Lord, that, ‘unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness; he is gracious and full of compassion and righteous’ (Psa. 112:4)” (Erdman, p. 37)

Conclusion

Danger, Daring, and Darkness. Those are disciplines that we may very well be called upon to engage in our lives as Christians. Are you prepared to face what life throws at you? If you “trust in the name of the Lord and rely on your God” you should be! If not, make it right today!

Thanks for reading dear friend.

-Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life, V. Raymond Edmond, pp. 17-38)

Remembering My Creator Volume 4, Number 2, September/October, 2018 Theme: Thoughts From 1st and 2nd Thessalonians

In This Issue

 

  • “Paul Remembers: How the Church was born, nurtured and established (1st Thessalonians Chapters 1-3)” by Randy Sexton
  • “Paul Exhorts: In Holiness, harmony, honesty, hope and helpfulness (1st Thessalonians Chapters 4-5)” by Randy Sexton
  • “Encouragement in Suffering (2nd Thessalonians Chapter 1)” by Hannah Clark
  • “Book of Second Thessalonians Chapter 3” (Reprint) by William C. Sexton

 

 

 

Paul Remembers: How the Church was born, nurtured and established (1st Thessalonians Chapters 1-3)

 

By

 

Randy Sexton

 

A Church is Born (Chapter 1)

The Background of the city of Thessalonica is very impressive. Today it is the second largest city in Greece, behind Athens. During World War I, it served as an important Allied base. The city has a long history. Originally it was known as Therma, but was renamed Thessalonica in 315 B.C. after the half-sister of Alexander the Great. At the time that Paul wrote this letter, 200,000 people lived there. The population was a mix of Greeks, Romans, and Jews. The church here was established by Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-15). Paul had only been at Thessalonica “three Sabbath days” (Acts 17:2) before the Jews stirred up trouble and he had to leave. Scripture says “the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea” (Acts 17:10). Regardless, we know that Paul worked at his tent making trade to support himself (1Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:6-15). Despite his short stay, his teaching was solid enough to leave behind a thriving church. When he left for Athens, Paul told Timothy and Silas to remain behind there and help the new church and then join him later.

 

The Burden that Paul had for his brethren is evident in his writings. He wrote the two letters to the Thessalonians to assure them of his love and concern and to ground them in the doctrines of the faith, particularly with reference to Christ’s return. He recognized that they might be tempted to compromise the truth in the face of severe persecution. He also wrote to encourage them to live holy lives. There seemed to be some confusion among these brethren in regard to the second coming of Christ and about those who had already died. Paul comforts them with what he wrote (1Thess. 4:13-18).

 

The Blessing in the message of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians is the return of Jesus Christ and how this vital doctrine can affect our lives and churches and make us more spiritual. This book is unique in that every chapter ends with a reference to the second coming of Christ (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23). With this emphasis on steadfastness and holy living, an appropriate theme might be: HOLINESS IN VIEW OF THE COMING OF CHRIST.

 

Paul addresses the Thessalonians as An Elect People (1:1-4). Paul is joined by Silvanus and Timothy in Corinth, where he is when he writes this epistle.  They had been with him when the gospel was first preached in Thessalonica. Paul offers his salutation along with a petition for grace and peace. He follows with an expression of thanksgiving for their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope, knowing their election by God.

 

He recognizes them as An Exemplary People (1:5-7). They had received the gospel not only in word, but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance. They had imitated Paul and Jesus by receiving the word in much affliction and joy, they in turn had become examples to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

 

They are further described by Paul as An Enthusiastic People (1:8). They were faithful in sounding out the word in every place, and in the process, the news of their own faith toward God had so spread that Paul did not need to tell others about them. In fact, others were telling Paul of the Thessalonians’ conversion from idols to serve the true God, and how they were waiting for the resurrected Jesus to return from heaven who would deliver them from the wrath to come.

 

The Thessalonians were An Expectant People (1:9-10). Based upon what they had been taught, they were fully expecting the return of Christ. They were known as a people who were waiting for the resurrected Jesus to return from heaven and to deliver them from the persecutions they were suffering then and from wrath to come.

 

A Church is Nurtured (Chapter 2)

“Just as God uses people to bring the Gospel to the lost, so He uses people to nurture the babes in Christ and help lead them to maturity. The church at Thessalonica was born through the faithful preaching of the apostle and his helpers, and the church was nurtured through the faithful pastoring that Paul and his friends gave to the infant church. This helped them to stand strong in the midst of persecution” (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 2 by Warren Wiersbe, p. 163).

 

“Reflections Regarding His Conduct (2:1-12)

Having reflected upon their reception of the gospel, Paul now reflects upon his own conduct while with them. He describes the manner of his preaching as one that was free of guile, deceit, flattery, and covetousness. Seeking not the glory of men, but of God, he spoke with boldness despite conflict, and was gentle among them as a nursing mother would be with her own children (1-8). His manner of life was sacrificial, working hard not to be a burden to them, behaving devoutly, justly, and blamelessly while among them. As a father does his own children, he exhorted, comforted and charged them to walk in a way worthy of God who was calling them into His own kingdom and glory (9-12).

 

Reflections Regarding His Concerns (2:13-20)

Paul then begins to reflect upon the concern that he has for their condition. Thankful for their reception

of his gospel as the word of God and not of men, he writes how they had imitated the churches in Judea

in receiving the word among much persecution by their own countrymen (13-16). Even though it has

only been a short time since he has seen them, he has desired to come to them time and again, but Satan had hindered him. His longing to see them is due to his view of them as his hope, joy and crown of

rejoicing in the presence of Jesus when He comes again (17-20).”

(The First Epistle To The Thessalonians, p. 10, Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2001)

 

A Church Is Established (Chapter 3)

“In the first two chapters, Paul explained how the church was born and nurtured. Now he dealt with the next step in maturity: how the church was to stand. The key word in this chapter is establish (vv. 2 and 13)(The NASB uses the word “strengthen” in verse 2, but many other translations use the same word in both verses-RS). The key thought is expressed in 3:8: “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord” (Wiersbe, p. 171).

 

“As Paul expresses his concern for their faithfulness, he explains why Timothy had been sent to them while he himself remained in Athens. Fearful that their afflictions might have given Satan an opportunity to tempt them and render his labors with them in vain, Timothy was sent to establish and encourage them in their faith (1-5).

 

Timothy brought back good news to Paul concerning the church at Thessalonica, telling him of their faith and love, their fond memories of Paul, and their desire to see him again. This greatly comforted Paul who was suffering his own afflictions, and he is overwhelmed with thankfulness and joy. Praying night and day that he might see them again and perfect what is lacking in their faith, he offers a prayer that God and Jesus might direct his way to them. He also prays that the Lord will help them to increase and abound in love to one another and to all, and to establish their hearts blameless in holiness before God at the coming of Christ with all His saints (6-13)” (Copeland, p. 13).

 

As we read this first epistle to the Thessalonians, we should be encouraged. Even though we do not face the tremendous physical persecution that these brethren faced, we may be subjected to social persecutions. Young people, you especially may face peer pressure that takes a great deal of courage and faith to resist. I pray that the word of the Apostle Paul to these first century Christians will help you in your walk with Christ.

 

Thanks for reading …

Randy

 

 

Paul Exhorts: In Holiness, harmony, honesty, hope and helpfulness (1st Thessalonians Chapters 4-5)

 

By

 

Randy Sexton

 

As we look at the final two chapters of 1st Thessalonians, the following outline by Warren Wiersbe may be helpful:

  1. How to Please Your Father (4:1-12)
  2. Walk in Holiness (vv. 1-8)
  3. Walk in Harmony (vv. 9-10)
  4. Walk in Honesty (vv. 11-12)

 

  1. The Comfort of His Coming (4:13-18)
  2. Revelation: We Have God’s Truth (vv. 13, 15a)
  3. Return: Christ is Coming Again (vv. 14-15)
  4. Resurrection: The Christian Dead (vv. 15-16)
  5. Rapture: Living Believers Caught Up (v. 17)
  6. Reunion: Christians Forever with the Lord (vv. 17-18)

 

III. Don’t Walk in Your Sleep! (5:1-11)

  1. Knowledge and Ignorance (vv. 1-2)
  2. Expectancy and Surprise (vv. 3-5)
  3. Soberness and Drunkenness (vv. 6-8)
  4. Salvation and Judgment (vv. 9-11)

 

  1. It’s All in the Family (5:12-28)
  2. Family Leadership (vv. 12-13)
  3. Family Partnership (vv. 14-16)
  4. Family Worship (vv. 17-28)

 

Also, as you read the Bible text, consider the following summaries of this good brother.

Chapter Four

“With this chapter Paul begins a series of apostolic instructions related to the Christian’s walk in holiness, especially in view of the coming of Christ. Urging them to abound more and more so that they might please God, he first focuses on their sanctification and the need to abstain from sexual immorality (1-8). He then urges them to increase more and more in brotherly love, even though they had been taught by God to love another and did so toward all the brethren throughout Macedonia (9-10). That they might walk properly toward outsiders, he urges them to lead quiet lives, mind their own business, and to work with their own hands (11-12).

 

Paul then addresses the matter of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. He did not want the Thessalonians to sorrow over them as others who have no hope. For just as God raised Jesus from the dead, even so He would bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (13-14). This leads to a description of the Lord’s coming, especially as it relates to how those who are alive and remain until His coming will in no way precede those who have died. Indeed, when the Lord comes from heaven, the dead in Christ will rise first, and we who are alive and remain will at that time be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air, to be with Him forever. Christians should therefore comfort one another with these words (15-18).

 

Chapter Five

“Continuing his apostolic instructions, Paul knows he does not need to write to the Thessalonians concerning the timing of the Lord’s coming, for they know full well that He will come as a thief in the night and with sudden destruction catch many people unexpectedly (1-3). Such should not be the case for Christians, however, for they are “sons of light” and “sons of the day”; therefore they should watch and be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and having as a helmet the hope of their salvation (4-8). Knowing that God has appointed them to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ, they know that whether dead or alive they will live with Christ. Through such hope they should therefore comfort and edify one another, just as they were doing (9-11).

 

A series of exhortations follows. First, to recognize and esteem those who labor among them and are over them in the Lord, and to be at peace among themselves (12-13). Then, exhortations related to our

concern for one another, along with a call to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in everything, to quench not the Spirit nor despise prophecies, yet testing all things, holding fast to what is good and abstaining from all that is evil (14-22).”

(The First Epistle To The Thessalonians, pp. 16, 20, Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2001)

 

Young people, It is so important for us as we read this epistle of the Apostle Paul to these Christians of the first century, to see application in our own lives. May I suggest the following applications?

  • We should live in such a way that we are examples to others and when they think of us they think of our work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope
  • We should be busy about planting the seed of God’s word in the hearts of others and, as we do that, we should let the truth of God’s word speak for itself; we should not attempt to use “flattering speech” to persuade.
  • We should always be willing and eager to accept the word of God for what it is and make corrections in our lives.
  • We should continuously be examining our walk in the light of God’s word; so that we improve in those areas where we are weak, and so that we “excel still more” in those areas where we are strong.
  • We should be informed about the second coming of Christ and always be prepared for that day, knowing that no one knows when it will take place.

 

Thanks for reading …

Randy

 

 

Encouragement in Suffering – 2 Thessalonians Chapter 1

Thoughts by Hannah Clark

 

A while back I saw a picture on Facebook with pretty font and at first glance, I thought it said “So weary of the seed.” I scrolled back up to get a better look and realized it actually said “Sowers of the seed.” It got me thinking, how often do we feel weary of living by “the seed” (or the word of God)? How often do we take blessings for burdens? It’s something I’ve struggled with in my attitude of late but am also reminded that it’s not a feeling isolated to myself. Present Christians and those of the first century church in the New Testament all face various trials and tribulations. It’s our attitudes and decision to bend our wills to that of the Lord’s that sets up apart from the rest of the world.

I thought I was just having a rough time but when I look around at my co-workers, they are struggling too (not just physically but spiritually). On tough days, one thing that helps me gain a better perspective is taking a moment to try and help someone else out. It helps me see that I’m more blessed than I realize and am guilty of taking my blessings for granted far too easily. This life isn’t an easy one and that is why we have fellow Christians/brethren so that we can help one another – Christ didn’t intend for us to “go it alone.” The church in Thessalonica worked together for righteousness, despite the persecution they faced.

Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians isn’t long but I love the way it begins. Verse 2 says “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” If that isn’t a way to start a letter, I don’t know what is. Paul then goes on to commend them for their faith and love toward one another and even boasts of the patience despite the “persecutions and tribulations” that they endure (vs. 3-4). There are congregations now, especially in other countries, which face greater persecution than we do here in America. However, in the past and present, there were and are still “those who do not know God” and “those who do not obey the gospel” (vs. 8). Paul states in verse 9 that those people will be “punished with everlasting destruction.” Through suffering, we can find strength in Paul’s words not only to the Thessalonians but also when he told the brethren at Corinth to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, know that your labor is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:58).

Paul tells the brethren in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 that their righteousness will count them as worthy for the kingdom of God (vs. 5) and that God will “repay with tribulation those who trouble you” (vs. 6). The same holds true for us today. Whatever life may throw our way or however the devil may choose to tempt us, our righteousness will be rewarded. And for those that may wrong us as we try to sow the seed, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

 

Book of Second Thessalonians Chapter 3

 

Reprint from the Works of William C. Sexton

 

Introduction:  This third and final chapter of this book points to how discipline of people needs to be administered, if and when they do not conduct themselves according to the inspired teachings. This is a matter that is not always carried out, and if attempted, often trouble develops because it is not supported by all members of a congregation.

 

In the first five verses we are told of Paul’s request for their prayers that the word of the Lord would have frees course and that unreasonable and wicked men would not be able to keep it from having it’s effect. In line with that, the Lord would establish them and keep them from evil. He expressed his “confidence” in the Lord to perform His part and enable them to do “the things which” he had commanded them. He pointed to the Lord directing them relative to LOVE and PAITIENCE in “waiting for Christ.” (2 Thess. 3:1-5).

 

He commands them, using the authority of Christ Jesus, “that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother” who walks “disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye receives of me.” He reminds them of how he had conduced himself among them He had not been “disorderly,” among them, eating another’s “bread for naught.” Instead he had labored night and day, that he “might not be chargeable to any of “ them. He could and did call them as witnesses of his behavior. His behavior was not done because he didn’t have the power/right to have their financial support, but he was motivated to be “an ensample,” meaning example of course, for them to “follow” him. He reminds them that while he was with them, he “commanded” them “that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thess. 3:6-10).

 

His knowledge comes from someone telling him that “there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” This was shameful then, as it is today. When people are not busy working to support themselves, they become busybodies, meddling in things that are unprofitable. I believe we need to recognize the evil involved in such a lifestyle, and do what we can to correct them, according to God’s directions. The Bible does not support the lazy person who will not work to support self and contribute to others that  are really needy (Cf. Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:8). When such people are members of a congregation, they are to be dealt with as Paul here gives directions: “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” He tells them not to be “weary in well doing.” That is needed to be reminded when God directs us to take such action, then we need not be worry in such. Even more directly he tells them: “If any man obeys not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” Notice the aim of such action: It’s to cause a person to see his misconduct and be ashamed so that he can/will return to behaving as the Lord demands! Then a cautionary note is give as to our relationship with that person: “Yet count him not as an enemy but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thess. 3:11-15).

 

Paul closes this letter by pointing to “peace” that the Lord gives, as He is with them. The “token” of each of his letters is to give his salutation with his “own hand.” Wishing the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” (2 Thess. 3:16-18).

 

Questions

  1. Finally what did Paul request of these brethren as he opens this chapter (2 Thess. 3:1-2)

 

  1. What did he say the Lord is “faithful” in doing (2 Thess. 3:3)?

 

  1. What did Paul have “confidence” concerning (2 Thess. 3:4-5)

 

4). What matter did Paul given direction concerning in v. 6-15)?

 

  1. What action is commanded relative to “every brother” who does walk how (2 Thess. 3:6)?:

 

6.How had Paul conducted himself among them for what reason (2 Thess. 3:7-9))?

 

  1. When with them what had he “commanded” (2 Thess. 3:10)?

 

8.What had he heard about some there and his direction to corrective action (2 Thess. 3:11 12)

 

9.What is the aim of such action, and attitude toward a disciplined brother (2 Thess. 3:13-15) ?

 

  1. How did he close the letter (2 Thess. 316-18)?

The Disciplines of Life – Lesson #6: Serving

As we continue our series on The Disciplines of Life, I would suggest to you that servanthood is one of those character traits that require “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.” As humans driven to serve self, serving others is not something that we do naturally.

 

In April of 2005 I gave a Toastmasters speech which I entitled “Do You Think Like a Servant?” In that speech, I said, “Mr. Toastmaster, fellow members and honored guests, in a previous speech, I challenged you to consider whether you have the HEART of a champion.  Today I want to challenge you to consider whether you have the MIND of a servant.  My question for you today is, ‘Do you think like a servant?’” The following is material that I presented in that speech.

 

The great Master Teacher said, “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant” (Mk. 10:43 from The Message bible).  Author Rick Warren suggests, “The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position….  God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you….  Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood….  Anyone can be a servant.  All it requires is character.” (The Purpose Driven-Life, pp 257-258)

 

But Consider that …

 

Servants think more about others than about themselves.  When we stop focusing on our own needs, we become aware of the needs around us.  This can be very challenging in a culture that encourages us to insist on our RIGHTS.  Also, if we are not careful, our service can become self-serving-to get others to like us, to be admired, or to achieve our own goals.  I am by nature selfish so thinking like a servant requires me to understand that self-denial is the core of servanthood.  There are daily opportunities for each of us to be servants.  These opportunities require us to make the choice between meeting my needs or the needs of others.  Servants keep a low profile – not promoting or calling attention to themselves.  “There are more than 750 ‘Halls of Fame’ in America and more than 450 ‘Who’s Who’ publications, but you won’t find many real servants in these places.” (Warren, p 263)

 

A perfect example of this attitude is described by Peggy Noonan, in her biography of Ronald Reagan, which she titled, When Character Was King.  (I love that title.) She describes a scene in the President’s hospital room after an assassin’s attempt on his life.  John Hinckley’s attempt had not been fatal, but the bullet wound was serious enough to hospitalize Mr. Reagan. The still weakened President had spilled some water and was on his hands and knees cleaning up after himself so that a nurse wouldn’t have to.  He did not want to bother the nurse with the problem he caused. Here was the most powerful, influential man in the free world down on his hands and knees cleaning up.  He thought more about others than about himself.  (When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan by Peggy Noonan)

 

Secondly, Servants think like stewards, not owners.  A steward is a servant entrusted to manage an estate.  A young man in the small nation of Israel in is an example.  His name was Joseph and he was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.  This condition of slavery led him to Egypt where he first served as an overseer in Potiphar’s house (Gen. 39:1-20).  In this role, Potiphar gave him “complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t have a worry in the world, except to decide what he wanted to eat.” (New Living Translation of 39:6.)  As a steward who was faithful to Potiphar and to God, he resisted the advances of Potiphar’s wife.  When he spurns her advances, she spitefully accuses him and causes him imprisonment.

 

In Pharaoh’s Prison Joseph again demonstrated the thinking of a steward (Gen 39:21-41:36) and is placed in charge of the other prisoners and eventually finds himself in the role of interpreter of the dreams of Pharaoh.  Throughout, Joseph maintained his integrity and his servant’s mindset.

 

And finally, as a prince in Egypt Joseph continues to think as a steward (Gen 41:38-50). He is wise in his service to Pharaoh, as his wisdom is manifested in his administration showing foresight in years of plenty and shrewdness in years of famine.  He is merciful in his treatment of his brothers who he forgave for selling him into slavery.  He continued to believe in the providence of God: that God could make good things come out of evil intentions and that God would keep his promises made to His people.  Joseph was indeed a servant, a man of Character!

 

Finally, Servants think about THEIR work, not what others are doing.  They don’t compare, criticize, or compete with other servants/ministries.  There is no place for petty jealousies between servants.  My two boys, Ryan and Tyler have not yet learned how to think like servants.  They are very much in competition – comparing their own achievement against that of their brother.  We excuse this in children but adults also can be guilty.  When Martha complained about Mary not helping with the work, she lost her servant’s heart.

 

Sprint gives us abundant opportunities to serve and to develop our ability to think like a servant.  Last week was National Volunteer Week when nominations were solicited for those who “Inspire by Example” reflecting the power volunteers have to inspire the people they help, as well as, to inspire others to serve.”  We have Community Relations Teams.  Sprint also encourages its employees to serve on a non-profit board of directors and towards that end is offering two University of Excellence Courses, “101-Board Training” and “102-Strategic Board Leadership.”

 

I like what Chuck Swindoll says in his book, Improving Your Serve.  He says, “What I’ve learned: To keep my eyes open for opportunities, my wallet open for giving, my time open for flexibility, my heart open for availability, and my ears open for listening — even the unspoken needs.”

 

Are you usually more concerned about being served or finding ways to serve others?  If you would have the MIND of a servant, you will think more about others than about yourself, you will think like a steward rather than an owner and you will think about YOUR work not about what others are doing.

 

Thanks for reading.

Randy

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 2, September 22, 2018: Compassion

 

What is Compassion?

Compassion is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” (www.dictionary.com). The etymology of “compassion” is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” Compassion involves “feeling for another” and is a precursor to empathy, the “feeling as another” capacity for better person centered acts of active compassion; in common parlance active compassion is the desire to alleviate another’s suffering” (Sherlyn Jimenez, see article on Compassion, The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology, Volume I, Editor: Shane Lopez, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-1-4051-6125-1).

 

“It is a word often misunderstood. Many people think that to be compassionate means to give money to those in need, or to hug someone when they are feeling down. Those are aspects of compassion, but compassion is more than that. It is entering into someone else’s pain, suffering or hardship with them. It is stepping into their circumstances and providing comfort, assistance, or both” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Volume 3: Compassion, p.3).

 

Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for a friend” (Jn. 15:13). If we are to be the men God wants us to be, we must be willing to lay down our own needs and desires to reach out to others who are in need of our compassion? Are you willing to do that? Please consider some areas where we must demonstrate compassion and some outstanding examples in each of these areas.

 

Compassion for family

Mike Magusiak was an executive at CEC Entertainment, Inc. (Chuck E. Cheese) for nearly 27 years. “When Magusiak initially joined CEC Entertainment in 1987, the Irving-based company was facing a negative cash flow and needed a turnaround. By 1989, with Magusiak as chief financial officer and taking CEC Entertainment public, the company began returning profits once again. In 2008, Magusiak was named CEO of the company and served until 2014 when it was sold to a private equity group. Magusiak also served on the board of directors from 1988 to 2014. The annual compound growth rate of CEC Entertainment, Inc. stock from 1989 to 2014 was 18.6 percent” (https://udallas.edu/cob/cob-news/Chuck_E_Cheeses_CEO_Joins_Faculty.php).

 

In his leadership position, he had a great deal of responsibility that required job commitment. But Mike determined early in his career that he would not allow his career to stand in the way of spending quality time with his family, making it clear which one he loves more.

 

In an interview that appeared in the March 2013 issue of D Magazine, Mike described the valuable time he spent with his family.Wendy and I have been married for more than 30 years. We are blessed to have three sons. Jason, 24, is a CPA working for KPMG; Matt, 23, is a senior at Ole Miss who will graduate next semester with a double major in accounting and marketing; and Nick, 17, is a junior in high school. My wife and I spend a lot of time at ice arenas watching two of our boys play hockey. I also enjoy golfing with our middle son, and we enjoy boating as a family. Every Halloween when our boys were young, my wife would take them next door while I changed into a Chuck E. Cheese costume and I’d take them around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat. My boys never knew it was me. In fact, one year they wanted to bring Chuck E. home to meet Daddy.”

https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-ceo/2013/march/meet-ceo-michael-magusiak-of-chuck-e-cheeses/

 

 

Karen Hughes was a trusted top advisor to President George W. Bush. She served as the White House communications director but in 2002 she decided to give up that position in order to spend more time with her husband, Jerry, and son Robert. Upon announcing her resignation, she said, “Throughout my career I have tried to prioritize my family while I have a career…I think this says that I can do what is right for my family, and continue to serve the President in a key way. I’ve always prided myself that this is a family-friendly White House, and I think this is a family-friendly decision.” Many Washington insiders were shocked by her decision. But Karen Hughes redefined what it means to put family first. She remained an advisor to the President, but she put her family first. She still treasures that decision, stating, “Other than marrying my husband, that decision was still the best decision I think I’ve ever made.

 

 

Compassion for peers

Krissi Holomon was a bright & beautiful teenager who died at an early age cutting short dreams of college. But she was a person known for her extreme passion. She so touched her classmates that the high school graduation was moved to her home when she was too sick to leave her bed.  The touching story of Krissi Holomon can be viewed in the HOC Foundation video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSf5WXmxCFs.

 

Compassion for those in need

Andrea Jaeger was a tennis prodigy who rose to the second-ranked player in the world in 1979 at the age of 14. But in 1985 her career was ended by a shoulder injury. Five years later she founded the Silver Lining Foundation in Aspen, Colorado to help children with cancer. She used her $1.4 million in tennis earning to launch the foundation in 1990.

 

Young cancer patients are flown by the Foundation to Aspen for a week of support and activities. Because of her experiences in high school she developed a heart of compassion for kids in need. When she was in high school, fellow-students, jealous of the attention she received as the result of her tennis prowess, would throw food at her in the cafeteria and push her into lockers.

 

“Jaeger’s autobiography, First Service, was published in 2004. In the book she wrote about her teenage years as a tennis player and her later decision to focus on serving God. All proceeds from the book were donated to children’s charities.

 

Jaeger has since established the “Little Star Foundation”, reaching on average 4,000 kids annually. She has moved from Aspen to a much larger 220-acre (0.89 km2) property in Hesperus, Colorado, where she will be able to expand her programs. [12] (https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/printedition/sports/20070309/c1scov09.art.htm)

 

On September 16, 2006, at the age of 41, Jaeger became Sister Andrea, an Anglican Dominican nun.[15] She reportedly left the order in 2009.[16] (Futterman, Matthew (August 27, 2010). “Where Are They Now?” The Wall Street Journal).

 

In April 2007, Jaeger and several former athletes, including Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Tony Hawk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Muhammad Ali, appeared on the American morning television talk show Good Morning America to announce their formation of a new charity entitled “Athletes for Hope” with the goal of encouraging their fellow athletes to think philanthropically. [17][18] https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3077119

 

Oprah Winfrey describes Jaeger as a superstar turned superhero. [19]” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Jaeger)

 

 

Compassion when it costs you

Todd Wagner is a successful business man with interests in technology and entertainment, but his greatest interest is in kids. He has dedicated many personal resources to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

Wagner is the co-founder of Broadcast.com and founder and CEO of the Charity Network. He also co-owns 2929 Entertainment with Mark Cuban, along with other entertainment companies. Wagner has his own charitable foundation, the Todd Wagner Foundation. After meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wagner in 2001 launched his Foundation’s first children’s program, the Dallas chapter of the After-School All-Stars (then called Inner-City Games), a national program championed by Schwarzenegger that provides year-round technology, academic, sports and cultural programs for children in the nation’s inner cities. The Dallas After-School All-Stars now reaches more than 4,000 children with programs ranging from chess and art classes to golf, running clubs and math competitions.

 

Wagner also created a Minority Technology Fund that provides funding and resources to minority-owned, technology-focused businesses based in Dallas and has made investments in numerous companies including: Imaginuity Interactive, a Web site development firm; Abstract Concepts, developer of African-American communities Ebonymate.com and Dallasblack.com; and rocKnot, a software development firm.

 

Wagner has also developed the MIRACLES technology, education and life skills program that provides an after-school program for inner-city children. This program is currently in its fifth year and is operating in nine cities in conjunction with the national After-School All-Stars. The multi-year program begins in sixth grade and continues through high-school graduation. The Foundation recently made a grant that unites the MIRACLES curriculum with The Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA) technology program “Club Tech”.

 

The Foundation has also provided funding to bring KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter school to Dallas in 2003 and to Wagner’s hometown of Gary, Indiana in 2006. KIPP Truth Academy is a program for students to develop knowledge, skills and character.

 

“An old parable teaches that it is more compassionate to teach a man to fish rather than to catch a fish for him, because if he is taught how to fish, the man will be able to sustain himself throughout his lifetime. True compassion that enables sustained change requires a personal investment from us. Whether time or money, change comes at a price.  An old saying goes, ‘no pain, no gain.’ True compassion requires us to ‘consider others above ourselves. ’While difficult thing to do, there is no act that is nobler. Others need your compassion, but it may cost you – in time, money, comfort or convenience. However the results will be life changing.” (Heart of a Champion Program, Compassion, p.13).

 

  1. Truett Cathy was the founder of the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. He took a tiny Atlanta diner, originally called the Dwarf Grill, and transformed it into Chick-fil-A the nation’s largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain. With $7.885 billion in sales annually (as of 2016) and over 2,200 locations across America, Cathy’s business success allowed him to pursue his true passion – helping young people have a better future. In 1984 he started the WinShape Centre Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners, which provides scholarships to 20 to 30 students to attend Berry College. Also, through its Leadership Scholarship Program, Chick-fil-A has given $1,000 scholarships to restaurant employees. Those awards have totaled over $23 million since 1973.

 

For Cathy, it was not just about giving, but about giving in a way that enables others to succeed. Cathy believed that requires sacrificial giving – giving to others in a way that means a personal cost to him – a cost that he said is well worth it. “We must motivate ourselves to do our very best and by our example lead others to do their best as well,” Cathy said. Before his death in September 2014, Cathy said, “I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”

 

For Cathy, leadership was about making a difference and a willingness to use personal resources to better the lives of others. His life philosophy is reflected well in his statement, “If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; if you wish to enrich years, plant trees; if you wish to enrich Eternity, plant ideals in the lives of others.”

 

Cathy wrote five books: the autobiography Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People, a motivational book entitled It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, the parenting book It’s Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men, an explanation of his business success in How Did You Do It, Truett?, and a final book on the significance of money in today’s society titled Wealth, Is It Worth It?. He also contributed to the anthologies What My Parents Did Right and Conversations on Success, and co-wrote with Ken Blanchard Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure.

 

Cathy was a deeply religious man and determined from the beginning of his enterprise that all Chick-Fil-A’s restaurants would be closed on Sunday. It was a decision made out of personal conviction and care for his employees. Realizing full-well that he would be forfeiting an entire day of business, he desired to give his employees a day free for rest, family time and the exercise of their faith. His business has never suffered from that decision and is carried on today by his son Dan, who became CEO of the business in November 2013 when his father retired. S. Truett Cathy died at his home on September 8, 2014 of diabetic complications at the age of 93.

 

Conclusion

Think about what it takes to demonstrate compassion in your family, for the needy, for your peers and when it costs you. What do you now know about compassion and how can you show others that you care? Now that you know what compassion means, what are you going to do to show what you know? Quite frequently in Scripture it is said that Jesus was moved with compassion by what he saw (Mt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; Lk. 7:13; 10:33, etc.). Won’t you be the man that God wants you to be by showing compassion like Jesus did?

Thanks for reading.

–Randy

 

The Disciplines of Life: Declining Days, Deformity, and Disability

This is the fifth lesson in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have noticed: Solitude, Discipleship, Dependability, Determination, Discernment, Decision and Duty thus far.  As we have said, there are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. In this lesson we want to look at the disciplines of Declining Days, Deformity, and Disability. As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360). Please consider …

 

Declining Days (1Samuel 8)

1Samuel 8 tell us that when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel but they did not walk in his ways. Instead they turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice. As a result the elders of Israel got together and confronted Samuel. They said to him, “Look, you’re an old man, and your sons aren’t following in your footsteps. Here’s what we want you to do: Appoint a king to rule us, just like everybody else” (paraphrasing). As we think about Samuel’s situation we can think of several difficulties that can beset us as we get older. These difficulties require a disciplined mind to approach them with the proper attitude.

Difficulty #1: graciously granting responsibilities to younger people without feeling that you are no longer wanted or needed

In the local congregation, we know that we need to begin transitioning responsibilities to the younger folks. If the local church is to survive, we need to recognize that our young people are the church of the future, but

Difficulty #2: seeing your children no longer walking in the way of the Lord

How embarrassing it must have been for Samuel that his very sons whom he had appointed to positions of responsibility and leadership were now involved in dishonest gain, bribery and perverted justice. It can be very discouraging to Christian parents when their children no longer walk with God when they become of age. It causes them to question where they went wrong in carrying out the instruction to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. As discouraging as it is, parents cannot allow their own faith to be wrecked. They must continue to walk faithfully and to pray that their children might return to the Lord as well. Proverbs describes both the sorrow of the parent of the child who is disobedient and the joy of the parent of the child who is obedient (Proverbs 13:1; 23:24-250.

Difficulty #3: adaptation to demands of a new day

Samuel had succeeded Eli as judge in Israel. He followed in a long line of judges with an established routine of governing. But now the nation was demanding a new form of government and a new ruler. This left Samuel feeling, not only that he was losing his job, but also that they were rejected him as a person. Of course the Lord told him, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (v. 7).

So it can be with us today. Declining days may bring unemployment or forced retirement. A professional who has given many years to the profession, that he chose early in his career, may find that employment in that field is not possible, for whatever reason. The Christian must have the discipline to reject the despondency and despair that could come upon him. Reacting positively to the demands of a new day, he turns to a second career or accepts the reality of retirement and turns his attention to spiritual pursuits.

Difficulty #4: seeing the next generation turn from “the old paths”

Like Samuel, a Christian can give earnest, even tearful admonition (8:11-18; 12:6-17) to the oncoming generation. He can try to teach about the issues that have faced God’s people in the past. But still some will not want to bother studying “Issues That Divide Us.”

Rather than becoming sullen in such a situation, the challenge is to maintain the sweetness and sincerity of a Samuel. His response to those who he felt was rejecting him was, ‘Yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart … For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way” (12:20, 22, and 23). Christians today need to sound the same call made by Jeremiah, “Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).

To Pray and To Teach is one of the “deepest disciplines of declining days.” Erdman makes an excellent point when he says, “In my opinion, Samuel did more for Israel in the days of retirement than in all the long years of active and conspicuous service. He prayed for all his people and their new king, in days that were darker and more difficult than any they had known under Samuel’s administration.”

It is not difficult to believe that Samuel was so busy with his administrative duties that he had not been able to give much time and effort to teaching. Now that he was no longer the leader, he could pray and he could teach. Thus began “the school of the prophets” (1Sam. 19:18-20; 2Ki. 2:15; 4:38; 6:1).

“The discipline of declining days that comes when days wane and strength subsides, when doors close and comforters depart, when others bear the heat and the burden of the day; then to grow old graciously and sweetly; to grant responsibilities to stronger, though less experienced, hands of our sons or others; to adapt oneself to the demands of a new day; and above all, to pray for others and to serve the Lord in whatever hidden ministry may be ours. This disciplines in spirit we are sweetness and strength to those who need us most” (Erdman, p. 53).

 

Deformity

George Gordon Byron (i.e. “Lord Byron”) (born January 22, 1788, London, England—died April 19, 1824, Missolonghi, Greece) was a “British Romantic poet and satirist whose poetry and personality captured the imagination of Europe…. had been born with a clubfoot and early developed an extreme sensitivity to his lameness.” (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lord-Byron-poet).

Lord Byron’s response to his physical handicap is captured by Erdman (pp. 71-73) in a lengthy quotation from Margurite, Countess of Blessington’s, A Journal of Conversations with Lord Byron, pp. 143-144. Byron says that it was his feelings at this period that suggested the idea of a play that he wrote calling it The Deformed Transformed.

 He said, “My poor mother, and after her my school-fellows by their taunts, had led me to consider my lameness as the greatest misfortune, and I have never been able to conquer this feeling. It requires great natural goodness of disposition, as well as reflection, to conquer the corroding bitterness that deformity engenders in the mind, and which, while preying on itself, sours one toward all the world.”

David’s desire to help the sons of Jonathan (1Sam. 20:14-16; 23:18; 2Sam. 21:7) and especially Mephibosheth (2Sam. 9:3-13) is positive Bible example of how we should respond to deformity.

Another positive example are the lepers sent by God (2Kings 7) to deliver the message that the enemy had fled, and that food had become available in abundance to the starving multitudes of Samaria, as he had promised through his servant Elisha.

“The inconspicuous have their inning, the incompetent make their contribution, the unsightly serve their God and fellow men, and the handicapped help open windows in heaven! (Erdman, p.75)

John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress presents a picture where Greatheart and his courageous companions were on their way to the City of The Great King where they met Mr. Feeble-mind. Mr. Feeble-mind was hesitant to accompany such accomplished pilgrims because he was week and feeble. “In the midst of their discussion, ‘Mr. Ready-to-halt came by with his crutches in his hands and was also going on a pilgrimage.’ To him spoke the weak Christian, ‘I was but now complaining that I had not a suitable companion, but thou art according to my wish”; To which Mr. Ready-to-halt replied with gracious spirit and offered him one of his crutches” (Erdman, p.76).

“Seeing in the shadow of blindness, singing in the sadness of sorrow, serving in the loneliness of lameness, strengthened in the grace that is sufficient; this is the discipline of deformity that makes sweet our spirit, and strengthens that of others.” (Erdman, p. 77)

Disability

Life can get us down if we focus on the negative. “So much of life seems utterly meaningless, even miserable, without rhyme or reason, right or wrong and justice, least of all. There is abundance everywhere of turmoil and trouble, tragedy and tears, inhumanity and injustice, sickness and sorrow, so that anyone without would could reason that the universe is entirely unreasonable, a miserable mess, a ghastly joke. There is so much that just ‘happens,’ no apparent plan nor purpose, only pathos, pain and perplexity, loneliness instead of love, handicaps instead of help, false hopes instead of far horizons, pain instead of pleasure, inactivity instead of activity, sobs instead of song, for walls instead of for freedoms, darkness instead of daylight, futility instead of fulfillment: these happen to all of us. This is life but not all of it” (Erdman, p. 151).

But, on the positive side … “There is the discipline of disability that brings singing for sighing, serving for sitting, gladness for gloom, assurance for ashes, melody for mourning, usefulness for uselessness, duty for dungeons.” (IBID)

Consider some Bible examples …

Joseph knew this discipline. He was the subject of the envy by elder brothers (Gen. 37). In Potiphar’s household, he was misrepresented and suffered a miscarriage of justice (Gen. 39). He was forgotten and forsaken in prison (Gen. 40).

However, brighter days came! The opening of prison doors (Gen. 41:1), service in high places (Gen. 41:43), blessed with a son (Manasseh) (Gen. 41:53) that made him forget all his toil, birth of another son (Ephraim)(Gen. 41:52) that reminded him of God’s allowing him to be fruitful in the land of his affliction, and finally, the bowing down of his brothers to him (42:6; 43:26; 44:14).

Job knew this discipline. He was happy, healthy, “a perfect and upright man” (Job 1:8). In a brief time there came loss of loved ones, wealth, and health, everything. His friends became “miserable comforters” blaming his misfortunes on his supposed sins. “…in the book of Job, God is teaching us an even dozen lessons: there can be sorrow without sin, darkness without disobedience, inequity without iniquity, mourning without merit, chaos without cause, judgment without justice. The innocent suffer because of the folly of the fathers, the greed of the grafters, the arrogance of the autocrats, the laxity of the laws, the inhumanity of the uninhibited, the treachery of the tyrants, the wickedness of war, the fatality of fortune, the godlessness of the ungodly” (p.153)

Jonah knew this discipline. Jonah’s problems came upon him because of his disobedience (1:3). As a result, he found himself in the “belly of hell” (2:2-9). Repentant, he returned to the Lord who delivered him (2:10). God calls him the second time (3:1). The discipline of Jonah was relatively brief, compared to Job’s.

The Apostle Paul knew this discipline. At Damascus’ gate he is called by Jesus (Acts 9:3-6; 26:12-20). He went from city to city preaching, suffered many things. But even after all this there was no respite (Acts 21:27-22:24; 23:23-26:32). Even so his attitude continued to be positive (Phil. 1:12). Incidents in his early ministry taught him this discipline: the plot against his life (Acts 9:22-25, the perversity of the sorcerer (13:6-12), the persecution at Antioch (13:44-49), the prison of Philippi (16:25-34). Then there was the imprisonment in Rome where he provided effective witness to the guard (Phil. 1:13), gave encouragement to believers (1:14), shed light on the deepest truth of the gospel (1:21), and was provided the opportunity to write the prison epistles.

Conclusion

Declining Days, Deformity, and Disability are disciplines that we may need to apply at various stages of our lives. With the help of God, we can respond appropriately with the discipline we have gained though focus on our Christian growth.

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Erdman, pp. 45-53, 71-77, 151-157)

Remembering My Creator Volume 4, Number 1, August 31, 2018, Theme: Thoughts From Hebrews

In This Issue

 

  • “Jesus is Superior to Angelic Beings (1:1–2:18)” by Randy Sexton
  • “Warning, a Rest for the People of God (3:7-4:13)” by David Bushnaq
  • “The High Priesthood of Jesus (4:14-10:18)” by Dillon Jarrett
  • “The Full Assurance of Faith (10:19-39)” by Hannah Clark
  • “Sacrifices Pleasing to God (13:1-19)” by John Crawford
  • “Thoughts From Hebrews 13 by William C. Sexton (Reprint)

 

 

“Jesus is Superior to Angelic Beings” (Hebrews 1:1 – 2:18)

By

Randy Sexton

 

Roger Shouse states, in his excellent class material on the book of Hebrews, “Hebrews is considered by many to rank with Romans and Revelation as difficult to understand. Certainly the writer himself believed what he was writing was for the spiritually mature (Hebrews 5:11-6:3). The book contains what is probably the most sustained argument in Scripture. The author makes extensive use of Old Testament quotations and an understanding of the Jewish Scriptures is essential to understanding the book.”

The Hebrew epistle does not tell us who wrote it and various commentators and writers have differing opinions as to authorship. Some believe it was authored by Paul, others Apollos, and still others Clement, or Luke, or Barnabas. Neither does the author of this epistle clearly designate his audience. But he does seem “to be targeting a group of Jewish converts who are facing the temptation of returning to Judaism. The author seeks to show the superiority of the new convenant over the old. The author knows the recipients (Hebrews 5:11f; 10:24f; 1317f), who are clearly a certain group of Hebrew Christians rather than Hebrews in general” (Shouse).

The theme of this entire epistle is that the New Covenant is better than the Old. A Key Verse is Hebrews 8:6: “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.”

“Jews who became Christians faced many hardships. Think about it. Just leaving behind all of the rituals of Old Testament worship would have been hard. They had been doing these things their entire lives. Some were treated as outcasts by their friends and family. Others were persecuted. Because of all these hardships, some considered turning away from Jesus and going back to the Old Law.” (David Banning, A Quick Look at Each New Testament Letter, p. 18)

The primary thoughts in this section of the epistle could be captured under the headings: the supremacy of God’s Son, Warning Against Neglecting Salvation, and the Founder of Salvation. Let us examine these thoughts as presented by the writer of the Hebrew letter.

The Supremacy of God’s Son (1:1-14)

Although God has spoken to His people throughout the ages, the instrumentality He has chosen has varied. And in our case, He has saved the best until last. In these last days He speaks to us through His Son. We may sometimes lose sight of how blessed we are to sit where we do in the “stream of time” and to benefit from those who have lived before us and from the things that “have been written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4).

Warning Against Neglecting Salvation (2:1-4)

To avoid drifting away from our salvation, “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard.” Because we are prone, as humans, to act from what our hearts and minds dwell on, we cannot NEGLECT what we have learned, and still remain steadfast.

The Founder of Salvation (2:5-18)

The writer of this epistle shows the tremendous things that Jesus has done for us in order to demonstrate the value of remaining faithful. Nothing else can compart to Him. The fact that Jesus left heaven to become a man should make us so very grateful for the benefits that accrued to us.

 

 

Warning, a Rest for the People of God” (Hebrews 3:7-4:13)

By

David Bushnaq

Hebrews 3 shows us that there are two types of people, those who will enter God’s rest and those who will not. We also find just how those who failed to enter God’s rest earned that state. Starting in verse 7…

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”

We as children of God know that we too, as those who were lead out by Moses can rebel against God if we wish, however as hindsight is 20/20 we also know what awaits us.

Could you believe the nerve of those following Moses? They saw the plagues, they saw the sea separating right and left so they could walk on dry land, but as soon as things got tough, they wished to return to the Egyptians, undoing all the good God and Moses did for them.

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

This passage warns, and rightly so, that we can depart from the Living God. In doing so, we lose our salvation, or rest, when this life is over. Not only must we watch out for ourselves, but those in the household of God as well.

We do not have Moses, as they did, but we do have something better. We have God’s holy word and the best defense against deceit is, as Jesus said “it is written.” We must realize where our salvation comes from, and live lives accordingly- steadfast until the end.

Now there is a command for us, we must “hear his voice” and remain open, receptive to it. After all, starting in verse 16 we find that just hearing isn’t enough.

“For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

This is the finality of life. All will cease- from this life that is. I guess in that regard all will rest, physically, but that’s not the end of it. If we rebel, as those did, our state would be like those who fell in the wilderness. Worse than that, we incur God’s wrath. A wrath there will be no rest from once we die.

So once again, there are two types of people, those who will obey and those who will not. I ask you then, which will you be? We learn that not all died in those 40 years, those who remained faithful did enter the promised rest, everyone else, however, as Matthew 7 states

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

 

http://www.achristiansvoice.com/remembering-my-creator-volume-4-number-1-august-31-2018-theme-thoughts-from-hebrews/high-priesthood-of-jesus-by-dillion-jarrett/             
 Call to Faith and Endurance – The Full Assurance of Faith” (Hebrews 10:19-39)

Thoughts by Hannah Clark

For the passage listed in the title, my Bible contains two division titles, “Hold Fast Your Confession” and “The Just Live by Faith.” I have separated my thoughts to coincide with these headings and hope they will make it easier as you follow along in your Bible.

Hold Fast Your Confession

We are to emulate Christ and one of the characteristics of our Father is that He Himself is faithful. One of the promises made to Abraham was that “all of the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) Throughout the Old Testament we can see prophecies that foretell the coming of Christ in whom we have salvation. The Hebrew writer even states in chapter 10 verse 23 that “He who promised is faithful.” What a comfort to know that the living God we serve will not forsake us despite how imperfect we are. In this, we can have assurance that our trust in Him will not be misplaced but lead to everlasting life.

The Just Live by Faith

“Therefore do not cast away your confidence which has great reward.” (Heb. 10:35) Our faith will be tested and tried in various ways but in turning to the scriptures, we are warned not to give in. The Hebrew writer includes a warning for those that would turn away in that there is no salvation from sin outside of Christ.

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29)

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31)

Joshua stated in the Old Testament “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) The first century Christians felt a sense of urgency that has been lost over time. They were awaiting the coming of Christ again and preparing His coming. They knew that their earthly possessions were of little value compared to their home in heaven (Heb. 10:34). The Hebrew writer says that they “…see the Day approaching” and that “for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.” (Heb. 10:25, 37)  Our lives on this earth may seem long and full of years but that is nothing compared to the expanse of eternity. With the assurance of faith we have in the Lord, we ought to be preparing ourselves for Christ to come again and be waiting to “see the Day approaching.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

 

 

“Thoughts on Hebrews 13″               

By

William C. Sexton (Reprint)

 

Introduction: This last chapter of the book to the Hebrews begins with the directions to let brotherly love continue, looking back and remembering, not forgetting some who entertained strangers.

Remembering faithful Christians in “bonds,” is a commendable thing to do. Marriage is described as be “honorable in all,” while the violators of God’s rules in this matter shall be “judged.”(Heb. 13:1-4)

Covetousness is to be avoided, as we are to be “content” with such things as we have. This can be done, if we remember that God has promised that He’ll not leave nor forsake us. Whit that promise, we can know by faith the Lord is our helper, so we’ll not fear what men can do to us (Heb. 13:5-6).

Remember, in the sense that we respect them who have the rule over us. Each of us ought to appreciate the people God has set forth in His church to rule in the sense they are concerned for our souls and are willing to guide us in that which has been revealed, knowing that God knows best and is interested in our well-being! These people have spoken the message from heaven and provide example worthy of imitating, following. We need to look at the results of such living (Heb. 13:7)

We need to recognize the unchangeableness of Jesus, and thus be not carried away with doctrines that are not what God has revealed. The heart needs to be established on the grace of God, rather than being obsessed with carnal matters. In contrast with those who are trying to hold on to the Old Covenant, we have an altar on which they have no right to partake. Those animal sacrifices are no longer doing what they once signified, for Jesus has come and fulfilled His mission. He has accomplished what those offerings of Old could only point to. The appeal is made then for us to go forth committed to Jesus, and humbly carry any and all reproaches that result from our behavior and commitment to Christ. (Heb. 13:8-13).

Christians here are not looking for an earthly city; rather, we are looking for that heavenly place. The “sacrifice” we offer is “Praise to God,” the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Doing good is to ever be before us. That included understanding what respect we need to give to the elders who watch for our souls. We need to pray for all the servants of God. (Heb. 13:14-19).

Now the God of peace who brought Jesus forth from the dead can make us “perfect in every good work,” as we do His will. The writer appeals to them to accept the word of exhortation, and to “know” brethren who have been “set at liberty.” Salute all them who rule. Grace be with us all. (Heb. 13:20-25)

Questions:

  1. What are we told to continue and remember (Heb. 13:1-2)?
  2. How is marriage described, contrasted with violations of the marriage vowel (Heb. 13:4)?
  3. What is said about covetousness and contentment and why (Heb. 13:5-6)?
  4. What is said relative to them who have the rule over us (Heb. 13:7, 17)?
  5. What is said about Jesus and being carried away with strange doctrine (Heb. 13:8-9))?
  6. What is said about the “altar” we have contrasted with the Old one (Heb. 13:10-13))?
  7. What is said about a city, as distinct to what we are looking for and doing (Heb. 13:14-16)?
  8. What is said about prayer, conscience, and honestly (Heb. 13:18-19)?
  9. What has the “God of peace” done and can and will make you (Heb. 13:20-21)?
  10. What is said about exhortation, knowing certain brethren, and saluting (Heb. 13:22-25)

A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren: Volume 7, September 4, 2005 Number 42

Editors Note: With the Labor Day Weekend upon us, I thought it appropriate to reprint the last Labor Day edition of A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren that my father ever wrote. He published this bulletin on Labor Day 2005 and passed from this life the following May. In it you will find, among other things, a short piece he wrote reflecting upon the tendency to travel far and wide on this holiday, but he asks us to reflect upon how much thought we give to ensuring that our surroundings are spiritually uplifting. How much planning do we put into ensuring that we will be with God’s people on the First Day of the week? Also in this issue is a poem that he wrote, Labor Day – a Christian’s View of labor. I commend it to your reading.

A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren: Man uses his voice and pen to convey thoughts. Paul mentions using words that by his voice he might “teach others” (1 Cor. 14:19). John says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17). My aim is to challenge, inform, and invite – us all to Listen to the VOICE of God. Editor Bill Sexton. 802 Adeline Lane, Van Buren, AR 72956-3530. Phone 479-474-2617. Car phone: 479-650-8399>>> I Have Voice Mail, call me and I can pick it up

Volume 7, September 4,  2005 Number 42

 

This Week’s Challenges

We are practicing: Memory, Meditation, and Application

  1. Memorize (Isa 28:16)
  2. Meditation: Who is that foundation, searching the New Testament one will se that it is Christ
  3. Application: How wonderful to see that the foundation stone is secure, and we can and should build on it (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:19020)

 

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody even got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

~Author Unknown~

     Labor Day weekend, how many people will be traveling, even with the HIGH gas prices, Etc.!?

This is another holiday and we Americans have the habit of traveling far and near, changing places to spend our time. How many will plan ahead about their worship of God, meeting with the saints (Heb. 10:24), studying the message from heaven to be lifted up spiritually?

It is wonderful to have the opportunity, means and freedom that we do have in our land to travel, go places and see things, and visit with relatives, etc. Yet, do we THINK as much about the type of environment we are in? THINK about the benefit of meeting our brothers and sister in the Lord, and how we SHOULD enjoy their company, and how beneficial it is to us to get to know more of our brother and sisters.

Beloved, let us see the NEED to place God first in our lives, and see the benefit of doing so (Matt. 6:33). However, in this busy work, with all the opportunities to travel, communicate, and be entertained, we are likely to spend the greater portion of our resources on the WRONG thing, in the place that is not appropriate to our spiritual growth, safety, and spiritual health. Let us be wise, loyal to the Lord and demonstrate to those observing our behavior that we are TRULY Christians, belonging to Christ. He is our Lord!

 

Labor Day – a Christian’s View of labor

 Work is a four letter word many dislike

Yet, we all know that it is necessary and good

If we are active in the right things

Then to the work, to the work, we can/do sing!

 

So let us THINK on the right tract,

See God’s word on this and other matters of fact

If we are doing the Lord’s work all will be fine

There’s plenty to do, looking in His word we find

 

Labor is wonderful to be able to do

This day we may honor by looking at it truly

God has ordained that man be busy as he could

In his daily activity, for his own good

Jn. 9:4; 1 Cor. 15:58

Bill Sexton, 8-31-2005

     Today’s Schedule for Yours Truly: !0:20A.M. Preaching at Van Buren, Sermons: The Storms Of Life Sermon –Lk. 8:22-25; Matt. 8:24-27). Tonight at 6:00 PM Singing at Van Buren

 

Excuses for departing from God’s graceful Path

In most any city one can find a number of people who began to serve the Lord some time ago, but now are out of service. Why? The reasons given may be many. In truth, however, all of them are excuses, only! There is no real reason for one to fall away (Lk. 14:15-24). Satan has a hand in each, but none can rightful blame him; each must accept personal responsibility for one’s action. Warning after warning is given (Cf.1 Cor. 10:12-13; Heb. 3:12).

Each of us needs to recognize that we may contribute to discouragement, etc., and be careful that we do not lend a hand to Satan to distract and destroy, because he has and will use every device (2 Cor. 2:11).

Each of us may be tempted to turn aside in some fashion, being influenced in one way or another, but let us be honest enough with ourselves to admit we are responsible! We’ll have to pay! There are all types of rationalizations one can make in trying to get around our personal responsibility. Yet, let us all remember that if we really want to be saved eternally, we’d better meet the standard ( Jn. 12:28; Rom. 2:16), to be recipients of God’s grace.

Perhaps there is not enough time spent on considering various factors that may influence us to turn aside, back, or around. Prayerful consideration should be given to the matter.

Likewise, there is likely not enough effort made to see that we do not discourage one another, so that Satan may deceive us into giving in to something (2 Cor. 11:1-3) that will destroy us.

Yet, we need to have indelible stamped on our brain — we DO NOT HAVE TO YIELD to any of these influences (Jas. 4:7).

Let us look at a few people who may be -instrumental in causing others to turn aside.

1. Preachers are to be examples ( 1 Tim. 4:12), but they can lead others astray –or give them cause to distrust and play into the hand of the evil one. How many people are out of service, partly, because they trusted a preacher and then had him betray their trust? Peter was instrumental in influencing Barnabas to “be carried away” with dissimulation, participate in something that deserved rebuking (Gal. 2:11-13).

2. Elders and deacons can fail to lead and serve to the extent that some members become discouraged, and think “what’s the use,” and yield to weaknesses.

3. Being overly concern with and involvement in everyday activities of “making a living,” paying the bills, educating and entertaining our children, can take us away from our duty of attending all the services, participating in Bible classes, spending time to invite others into our homes, spend valuable time with others to influence for good!

4. Family demands are many, to be sure and they are very important, yet they must not be allowed to derail our train of service to God (Matt 10:37-39; Lk. 14:25-33).

Yes, beloved, there are many avenues of influence that are away from God and His Son Jesus Christ. Let us first be convinced that we, individually are responsible because we are able capable of resisting the temptations — with God’s help and grace and mercy! (Phil. 1:12-13).

Let us look at a few things that may turn us/others aside.       1. Immorality –we may come to think that life is too dull serving the Lord, and determine to “enjoy life,” as seen through the blinders Satan provides.

2. Wealth may come to attract our attention and cause us to give too much of our time in obtaining it.

3. Laziness –we may decide we want to REST when we should be practicing our religion — attending services, helping others, taking time to teach others the gospel of Christ!                                        –William C. “Bill” Sexton

 

 

MIS-USED WORDS

There are many words which are miss-used In today’s religious world.  When teaching the truth, I am accused-And hateful, angry words are hurled.

One word, of which I speak, is “Pastor”, Used by ‘most every denomination. The way it is used is truly a disaster and causes God much consternation.

Pastor simply means “to feed”, Acts 14:23 Acts 20:17, 28 and referred to a plural group of men. I Pt. 5:1-4 The “Elders” were responsible for the “seed”, which would guard their flock from sin.(Singular)

“Reverend” is another miss-used word—It was never applied to any man. To make that application is absurd—It was never a part of God’s holy plan. Holy and “Reverend” is HIS name, And that applies only to almighty GOD. Ps. 111:9. Man’s using it for himself is a shame, For, before the almighty, man is only a clod.

When Christ said, “I will build my ‘church’ “— To a physical structure He didn’t make mention. If, the scriptures, you will thoroughly search, You will find, that was not His intention.

“Church” simple means ‘those who are called out’ I Thes. 2:12; II Thes. 2:14; Rm 8:30 .Coming from darkness, into the kingdom of light.. A “spiritual house” are all the devout,  I Pt. 2:5, 9 Who have left the darkness and sinful blight.

And, what a miss-use of the word “priest”, This, too, is such a sinful shame. With Christ the old system of priesthood ceased; Heb. 11:7-8; Rev.1:6Now, every Christian is called by that name.  I Pt. 2:5, 9; Rm.12:1

The next I would mention is the word “baptize”. It is a word which means to “immerse”.  And most do not seem to realize. Without immersion, they are under God’s curse. But it must be for the remission of sins, Acts 2:38. That, as for Paul, they would be washed away. Acts 22:16. That is the ONLY way that Christ will cleanse  Rm.6:3-5 And lead you into the light of day.  There are many such words in the bible which man, in his foolishness, miss-uses. When, in truth, he is committing libel. When, the gospel of Christ he, thus, abuses.

Oh, well meaning but foolish, religious man, Mt. 7:21-23. Please consider the use in the gospel of Christ. Don’t try to change it, but yield to His plan. For nothing else has ever sufficed –By L. B. Strawn May 11 & 12, 1998 *****

Editor’s Note: There are so many Bible words that are misused, perhaps the above will assist in keeping some of them before our mind! Let each of us labor to call Bible things by Bible names, as well as do Bible things in Bible ways! For, you see, some day we’ll stand before the Lord (Matt 7:21-23). How terrible if we have spent so much time, effort and resources misusing what the Lord  provided us with and then hear: “ I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

I know that to some people this is “Legalism,” but I had rather be accepted by the Lord, even though I’m classified by man in various uncomplimentary fashions (Matt. 5:11-12), than to avoid their criticism and be rejected by the Lord.

I remember that the people Paul spoke of in (Romans 1:18-32,) professed themselves to be “wise,” when in fact they were very foolish. Shall we be as they were? Or, shall we be seen as “foolish” by man while we embrace the “wisdom of God” (Cf. 1 Cor. 1:23-25)? Beloved, I prefer to be seen as foolish by my fellow man, wordily creatures than to be thus seen and classified by my Lord and Maker. I challenge each of us to look carefully at the words used in the New Testament and let the Lord’s meaning be established in our mind.   William C. “Bill” Sexton

Reprinted from Van BurenVanGuardin 1998

 

BOOK OF 1 TIMOTHY – Chapter 2.

Introduction: In the second chapter of this book, Paul begins by expressing his desire that prayer be made for various people. Also, there are various types of prayer. God’s desire relative to all men is expressed. He points to the proper position of women, looking back to the deception of Eve.

His exhortation is that as a “first” order of priority supplication, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. Thus we see that it is proper to pray for all persons, but each category will have different needs, and we should recognize and comply with that fact. Then he identifies one category of men: kings, and all that are in authority. We should recognize that these people affect our lives, and we should see the need to pray that they would perform so that we can receive benefit from their rule. The benefit we should desire and pray for is: “we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

The inspired apostle shows why the prayer and benefit we may receive is: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” For he shows that God would have all to be saved, by coming to the knowledge of truth. That involved some fundamental facts: That is only ONE God and One MEDIATOR who can legitimately and effectively come “between” God and man –Jesus Christ, who was deity and man! He gave himself a ransom for all men everywhere, to “be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:3-6)

In face of the facts just stated, Paul claims that he was “ordained a preacher, and an apostle,” also a “teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”  As he preaches the truth in Christ, he speaks of the need for men to pray, with “holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” In similar fashion, he wants women to “adorn themselves properly in “modest apparel,” and that is with shamefacedness and sobriety. The attention is not to be given by the hair, jewelry of gold, pearls and expensive clothing.  Their conduct is to manifest itself in professed godliness accompanied with good works (1 Tim. 2:7-10).

He points to the subjection of women –they should learn in respectable submission. Women are limited in their realm of teaching. She is NOT to “usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” The basis for this goes back to the early behavior of the woman, Eve. She was deceived by the serpent and persuaded her husband to be involved in “transgression,”: although he was not deceived. Yet we need to understand, woman can still be saved. One of her functions is “childbearing.” She needs to “continue in faith,” as well as in charity/love, holiness/being set aside for God’s service, and doing this with “sobriety.” (1 Tim. 2:11-15).

 

QUESTIONS:

  1. In light of what does he “therefore,” exhort be done “first” (1 Tim. 2:1)?

 

  1. Name differ kinds of speaking to God are called for and for whom (1 Tim. 2:1-2)?

 

  1. What is the aim of prayers in man’s benefit (1 Tim. 2:2)

 

  1. What is “good and acceptable” to God and His desire concerning “all men” (1 Tim. 2:3-4)?

 

  1. What is the function of a “mediator” and who meets that requirement (1 Tim. 2:5-6)?

 

  1. What is Paul “ordained’ to and his “will” for men (1 Tim. 2:7-8)?

 

  1. “In like manner” what is his will that women will “adorn” themselves (1 Tim. 2:9-10)?

 

  1. How are women to be in and manifest their “subjection” (1 Tim. 2:11-12)?

 

10.What basis is  given for this subjective position  and how is she to “continue” (1 Tim. 2:13-15)

 

_________________________________________

A Christians’ Voice

802 Adeline Lane

Van Buren, AR 72956-3530

 

 

 

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 1, August 24, 2018: Integrity, Character, and Rebuilding Trust

What is Integrity and Character?

Much has been written about integrity and character. Coach John Wooden told his players, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are” (Quoted by Brian Biro in Beyond Success, p. 38).

 

The Heart of a Champion Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Colleyville, TX, that offers educators an innovative and effective approach to developing character in the lives of their students, says, “Character is the inward motivation to do what is right according to the highest standards of behavior in every situation. Character is the combination of qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her responses regardless of the circumstances. Character is what you do when no one is watching. And character comes from your heart …. You have the power to be a person of character; to affect your future and realize your destiny. No other person can make that happen in your life. You alone are responsible for rising to the challenge of being a true champion. Achievements, accolades, appearances, and performances will one day fade away! Ultimately, your character is the one thing that will last, and the one way people will identify you. Dive into this program and be a true champion” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program).

 

John Maxwell in his excellent book 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader says that there are four things that every person must know about character:

  • Character is more than talk
  • Talent is a gift but character is a choice
  • Character brings lasting success with people
  • Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character

 

How is Character Improved?

Maxwell also offers a four-step plan for improving character:

  1. “Search for the cracks. Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.) and identify anywhere you might have cut corner, compromised or let people down.

 

  1. Look for patterns. Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing?

 

  1. Face the music. The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions.

 

  1. Rebuild. It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.”

(Maxwell, pp. 1-7)

 

What Responsibility Has God Charged Us With?

If we are to be the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of integrity and character. God has charged us with the responsibility of being the spiritual leaders of our families and in order to do that we must be genuine and authentic. One author likens this role to a “point man” who takes up his position on the front lines of battle. I have used this quote before in this column, but read again what he says, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster and carry them along in His limitless strength (2Chronicles 16:9). May we be those men! And may He give us the strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing” (Steve Farrar, Point Man, p. 231).

 

What Do the Scriptures say about Integrity and Character?

Men face many challenges in today’s culture. Satan has many devices to hinder our ability and our desire to be that influence that desires for us to be. The Scriptures are full of passages dealing with integrity and character. Notice a few of them:

Proverbs 10:9 “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.”

1 Kings 9:4 “Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’”

Job 2:3 “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”

Job 31:6 “Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity.”

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”

Titus 2:7 “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,”

Philippians 2:22 “But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

Rom. 5:3-4 “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

How May Integrity Be Rebuilt?

God said that David walked in integrity of heart. And yet David was tempted when he saw Bathsheba bathing, he yielded to that temptation and he sinned. So it was necessary for David to rebuild his integrity. In doing so, he asked God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalms 51:10-11). We can all learn from Job’s example. He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (Job 31:1, NLT).

 

The Bible plan for forgiveness of sin for the Christian is simple: repent, ask forgiveness from the one(s) against whom the sin was committed, and pray to God for His forgiveness and for His help in the rebuilding process (Mt. 18:15-17 and Acts 8:18-24). But when trust has been broken and the marriage relationship has been shattered, the rebuilding process becomes much more complex. During the fifty-six years that I have been a Christian, I have witnessed TV evangelists, personally known preachers and elders, and friends succumb to this sin.

 

Much has been written to help those who find themselves in such a situation. One writer suggests, “I don’t know of any assignment more difficult (but more worthwhile) than the job of regaining a wife’s trust. She trusted you enough to marry you, but the bond of trust has been broken. So many men just walk away when they have failed and broken the heart of a loving spouse…. They walk away and take their shame and the knowledge that they walked away when they most needed to step up” (Stephen Arterburn and Jason B. Martinkus, Worthy of Her Trust, p. xi) (emphasis mine).

 

Arterburn and Martinkus outline a plan for rebuilding trust that involves nine “non-negotiables.” If these aren’t present of if they’re deficient, it will be incredibly difficult for one’s relationship to be restored. These items are: Spiritual Commitment, Honesty, Transparency, True Intimacy, Accountability, Open Review of Computer/Internet Use, Sexual Integrity in the Workplace, Restitution, and No Self-Pity.

They also recommend several “tools” to assist the rebuilding process. These include: The Five-Minute Rule, T-30 Journal, Financial Accountability, Twenty-Four Hour Disclosure Rule, GPS Tracking, and Wifecam. I highly recommend this book as is an excellent resource for any man attempting to regain his wife’s trust after admitting to sexual integrity issues (e.g., pornography, affair, etc.).

One of the key concepts that resonated with me and that is repeated throughout this book is the idea of being “intentional.” For example, “When it comes to trust building, free time can be detrimental. We must begin to use our time intentionally and channel it toward a goal” (p.105). In regard to setting boundaries on the job, “Because the work environment can change our persona, we have to be diligent in preserving our sense of authenticity and self. Your new self must be careful with boundaries, intentional with words, and conscientious about how interactions can affect your wife’s heart” (pp. 110-111). In regard to a husband keeping his word they write, “It is incredibly important for you as a husband to be intentional about what you commit to and how you communicate that commitment to your wife” (p.128). And finally, “The journey you’re on is changing you from the inside out. Character and integrity are being woven into the fabric of your being. As such, things will get easier. Truth, trust, and redemption will be more natural and will flow out of who you are, rather than having to be an intentional thing that you do” (p. 191).

 

If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be intentional in building integrity and character. If we stumble and fall along the way, we must be diligent in rebuilding that character and integrity. Our eternal security depends upon it! Thanks for reading and sharing this website with others.

 

–Randy Sexton

The Old Man in The Mirror

Editors Note: I just found this poem among the files on a flash drive that belonged to my father. The occasion was his 75th birthday in 2003. Looking back with much fondness now, and knowing that he would pass from this life on May 8, 2006, I am filled with great joy. For this poem embodies so much of the spirit of the man that I knew as Dad, and that others knew as “Bill” Sexton.

 

The Old Man in The Mirror

 

Seventy Five years old, surely that’s NOT me

A Short time ago, I was a boy plowing the field, it seems.

Wanting to hurry up and be a big man so others could see

As an adult I could explore the world, perhaps even sail the sea

 

Yes, when I look in the mirror, sometime I see

An old man looking back at me

I wonder how that old frame in my mirror me could be

For In my mind a younger man should be smiling  at me

 

Surely seventy Five years could not have passed so fast

Leaving the old figure in the mirror I observe when I pass

For I’m still young at heart,

From that young age I’m not ready to depart

 

How old is seventy five years anyway

When one is young that age seems so far away

Someone once said he/she is just as old as they feel

So, beloved, In my heart I’m still YOUNG enough to climb a hill

 

Please don’t write me off as being old just yet

The Lord surely knows how much time I have left

But while He allows me to live, love and laugh

I’m young in mind, enjoying youth while He allows it to last

O, yes another year is just about to end

Seems just the other day it only began

Which indicates we need to be busy all the time

Doing things, by looking back, will bring joy to our mind

 

Bill Sexton, December 23, 2003

 

 

 

December 25, 1928 —-2003