Generosity Redeemed – A Theology of Generosity

GENEROSITY REDEEMED

The way we understand and practice generosity is rooted in our theological perspective. Our theology of generosity, in turn, shapes how we use our resources, live our lives, and steward God’s blessings.

Generosity becomes clearer when we possess a theological understanding of God and His glorious riches.

Many Christians have a shallow, un-enchanted vision of generosity (I suffer from this as well). Often, generosity is a guilt-driven duty or a sentimental desire for psychological well-being or a reciprocal relationship with God, as if God needs anything from us. The deadliest perspective links giving to salvation. Reader beware, dead works will not result in eternal life (see Ephesians 2:8-9). Modern Christians, especially in America, seem to have unintentionally embraced ideas influenced by pragmatism and the Enlightenment regarding generosity. Additionally, adding a dose of moralism renders an unbiblical concoction.

The argument is commonly something like: “The Bible encourages giving as the right thing to do, promoting the expansion of God’s Kingdom while helping those in need. Tax benefits are a bonus!” While not entirely wrong, it’s incomplete and may be misguided. Some Christians use out-of-context proof-texts and persuasion tactics to motivate giving, which can be confusing or manipulative. What’s missing is a full-orbed Kingdom vision and a robust theology of generosity.

Theology, seen through a biblical lens, is more than just knowing things about God. Theology is about intimately knowing God Himself. Knowing God serves as the cornerstone of all Christian faith and activities, including stewardship and its handmaiden, generosity.

Let’s explore a biblical vision of generosity by asking questions of Holy Scripture.

In the beginning, who created?
At the cross, who died?
At the grave, who is risen?
Who is seated at the right hand of the Father?
At the conclusion of human history, who restores all things?
Who is God?
Who am I?
What are God’s purposes?
What is Jesus Christ Lord over?

Whether we realize it or not, our actions and choices in life inevitably reflect our underlying theological and worldview commitments. The way we understand and practice generosity is rooted in our theological perspective. Our theology of generosity, in turn, shapes how we use our resources, live our lives, and steward God’s blessings. Therefore, we need to make sure we have a good theology.

God created the world and deemed it “good.” This signified its intrinsic value because God is creator and God is the source of all good. This declaration demonstrates the richness of the potential embedded in creation, waiting to be discovered and developed. Entrusting man with dominion, God commanded the care and cultivation of Earth’s latent resources for His glory and the good of humanity. We hear echos in the greatest and second greatest commandments.

Jesus answered, “The most important (commandment) is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

Dominion

Dominion in the Bible is often overlooked or misunderstood. It is not about exploitation or oppression rather, theologically, it is stewardship, responsibility, God-given authority, and accountability to God, all directed toward His purposes. Properly understood, dominion is God-centered, not man-centered. As image-bearers, we share in God’s moral character traits, albeit as finite and fallen creatures. All humans are assigned a time and place to serve God’s purposes, exercising dominion over what God entrusts to us. In doing so, we reflect His moral character and bring His glory to the world He created and sustains. Dominion is humanity’s responsible and caring authority under God’s ultimate reign. I believe that exercising Godly dominion is a proper response to God’s grace, kindness, and goodness to us by glorifying Him and enjoying Him.

The first statement of the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us the chief duty of man and what were created for (purpose).

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
(The Westminster Shorter Catechism)

If God is the creator of all things, it means he holds the title deed of every atom in the entire universe. There isn’t anything in all of creation that God doesn’t own, including you and me. The air you breathe, the food you eat – it all belongs to God. He is the one who enables and allows you to breathe, eat, and even understand this sentence as you read it.

A Principle v. A Person

At the foundation of a theology of generosity, you won’t find just a biblical principle; rather, you’ll encounter a person—Jesus Christ. A distinct Christian life will be shaped and guided by principles of generosity that flow from knowing Jesus Christ. Remember, theology is knowing God, not just knowing things about Him.

Only when we retrieve and recover the riches of Christian faith in Christ as the ultimate gift from God, can we undertake any real form of generosity.

The one true definition of generosity, from which all other meanings flow, is God’s definition. Jesus Christ embodies this definition—He is the living and holy reality of generosity. At the center of all reality, Jesus stands as the Truth. When we behold Jesus, we see God’s Christ, God’s Word, God’s world, and God’s spirit, all given as glorious gifts to man. You and I have nothing we didn’t receive.

I encourage you to work out the implications of this in your own life (which is a gift). Generosity flows from a fuller theological understanding of God and His glorious riches.

“Whoever is of God hears the word of God.” – John 8:47

Therefore, through our generosity, we can join the likes of the Apostle Paul and, “proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hinderance.” – Acts 28:31

God’s Generous Gift

God has given us everything we need by granting us His divine power, His great promises, and His divine nature to enable our efforts to act on the knowledge of Him (theology). We benefit, partake, and develop the gift of God’s abundant power through Christ our Lord and Savior. Our knowledge of God’s divine power and promises is a gift. So is the ability and opportunity to utilize that power. When we receive the gift of faith, God supplies His power to enable us to supplement it with virtue and knowledge.

In conclusion, one important aspect of the Christian tradition is the spiritual discipline of generosity that contributes to the believer’s sanctification. In other words, when we exercise generosity, we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ’s character.

Notice, I didn’t mention money once in this post. Now, go and workout the implications of a theology of generosity in your life, watch God work and watch the world change.

“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Praise God the Father who’s the source;
Praise God the Son who is the course;
Praise God the Spirit who’s the flow;
Praise God, our portion here below!”
– Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective. We have a end-of-year fundraising goal of $50,000. There is a $7,500 matching challenge in play! This will allow us to quip and mobilize people for Kingdom action. Please consider us in your year end generosity plans. Learn more and give here…

The Imagination Explained

IMAGINATION EXPLAINED

3 ways imagination is corrupted and what to do about it.

A synthesis and summary of article by Vigen Guroian in Touchstone Magazine.

Most people don’t think very deeply about the most powerful endowment God has given to his image-bearers, the Imagination!

Our imaginations can take us to some very good and joyful places, they can take us into very dark places as well. Our imaginations are more culturally relevant that we realize.

Below is a synthesis of a portion of an article by Vigen Guroian in Touchstone Magazine entitled, “Of Weed & Fairy Tales – The Idylls, Idols & Devils That Corrupt the Moral Imagination” (2020). I quote the article at length.

I hope it helps you understand the gift of the imagination, how to guard it from corruption, and how to cultivate it as God intends. I highly recommend reading Guroian’s article in its entirety.

The Purpose of Imagination

“The human imagination “reaches out and seizes likenesses and analogies” that establish relation and unity in a world of meaning. In other words, imagination is the self’s process of finding direction and purpose in life by making metaphors from remembered experiences to understand present experience. It is not an instinct but an attribute and an expression of our freedom, passion, and reason…

Wherever there are human beings, imagination exists and is exercised, much as wherever there are spiders, webs are spun. The important question is what kinds of imagination our contemporary culture encourages.” (Guroian)

Moral Imagination

The Human Power to “conceive of men and women as moral beings, i.e., as persons, not things or animals whose value is their utility. It is the process by which the self makes metaphors out of images stored in memory, which then are employed to find and suppose moral correspondences in experience.” (Guroian)

Left unprotected or uncultivated, the moral imagination decays into corruption and perversity.

Idyllic Imagination

It is escapist and utopian. “The self gripped by the idyllic imagination is escapist, not in the sense that it flees its physical surroundings so much as it shirks its civic, social, and moral responsibilities…

This is accompanied and reinforced by rejection and rebellion against old dogmas, manners, and mores. The idyllic imagination is in search of emancipation from conventional constraints. In our democratic and individualistic environment, persons justify this “liberation” in the name of self-fulfillment and self-realization, which they believe existing norms and structures inhibit or obstruct…

Quite often there is a turning to hedonistic imaginings, flagrant sensuality, and explorations of the “flesh.” These are paths that promise happiness but more often than not lead instead to boredom and ennui or, worse, physical and spiritual dissipation.” (Guroian)

The Idyllic Imagination rejects morality in pursuit of self-fulfillment. It is marked by hedonism, preoccupation with self, and sensuality. It seeks liberation from morals and results in boredom, dissatisfaction, or worse, physical and spiritual corruption and a wasted life.

Idolatrous Imagination

The Idolatrous Imagination cultivates the “absolutization of the relative” (Will Herberg)…
“Idolatry, in biblical terms, is the giving of one’s highest loyalties and devotions to objects and things other than God… What idolatry does is to convert its object into an absolute, thereby destroying the partial good within it and transforming it into a total evil…

Corrupted imaginations may be tracked everywhere in our culture. The media fixes on false gods whose stories replace the lives of saints and real heroes. One need only look at the popular magazines, MTV, television talk shows, and celebrity channels, to understand how pervasive is the idolatrous imagination… Even our schools and public libraries are heavily under its influence…

“What is more, the people, when they grow dissatisfied with their idols, often mercilessly turn on them and consume them with an ungodly wrath.” (Guroian)

The Idolatrous Imagination absolutizes the relative, lacking consciousness of sin, good things are given priority and devotion over God (Idolatry). A good object is converted into an absolute, making it totally evil. When the absolutized idol fails to satisfy its worshipers, they turn on it and destroy it.

Diabolical Imagination

“The coordinates that track the fall of the Western self into the diabolic imagination are the loss of the concept of sin and the rise of popular therapeutic justifications and excuses for things that were once thought perverse. Moral norms are redescribed as values relative to self or culture. Human nature is viewed as infinitely malleable and changing. Some go so far as to say it is merely a social construct or fiction. Good and evil are considered matters of perspective (opinion / sentiments)…

The Diabolic Imagination is latent within each of us, the image of the demonic imprinted by Original Sin on the human soul.” (Guroian)

The Diabolical Imagination transforms morals into relative values geared toward self. Objective good and evil do not exist outside one’s personal perspective or orientation. Sex and Violence are central. Greed and selfishness rule – revealing the sin nature within every human heart.

The Enriched Imagination

“After a child has read Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen or Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, her moral imagination is sure to have been stimulated and sharpened. The powerful images of good and evil in these stories show a child how to love through the examples of the characters she herself has come to love and admire. Such memories become the analogues that the moral imagination uses to make real-life decisions, and these memories become constitutive elements of her self-identity and character…

A well-fortified and story-enriched moral imagination helps children and adults move about in the world with moral intent and ultimately with faith, hope, and charity. As Flannery O’Connor once said, “Our response to life is different if we have been taught only a definition of faith than if we have trembled with Abraham as he held a knife over Isaac.” (Guroian)

Like a neglected vegetable garden is susceptible to weeds and pests, the human imagination left unattended, unguarded, and uncultivated will incrementally decay and succumb to evil. Therefore, we must steward and shape our imaginations well.

Recovering the Enriched Imagination

There is a reason C.S. Lewis stories of Narnia and Tolkien’s tales of hobbits and rings have captured and shaped the imaginations and lives of generations. They are not simply far-fetched fantasies. Those tales are in fact, true. Not that the characters or worlds existed in human history but their underlying frameworks are constructed on objective moral truths. These beautiful and good true stories point beyond themselves to the ultimate source of goodness, truth, and beauty – God.

“Stories not only reflect life, they shape it. It is of no small account what stories we tell and what stories we live by…”(Guroian)

Keep in mind biblical Christianity has the ultimate story on which all other stories rest – creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. It is The Story that we should tell and allow to shape our lives.

I leave you with one of my favorite G.K. Chesterton Quotes:

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Source of quotes above: “Of Weed & Fairy Tales – The Idylls, Idols & Devils That Corrupt the Moral Imagination” by Vigen Guroian (2020) www.touchstonemag.com

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective. We have a end-of-year fundraising goal of $50,000. There is a $7,500 matching challenge in play! This will allow us to quip and mobilize people for Kingdom action. Please consider us in your year end generosity plans. Learn more and give here…

LEARN ABOUT THE FORGE ROOM FOUNDATION.
TRAINING EVERYDAY CHRISTIANS TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.

Lust

Unlike other sins, lust commits severe violence against one’s self, others, and God. Lust is a distortion of a good desire.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

The grocery store checkout may be one of the most spiritually dangerous places on earth. A wall of magazines adorned with images surround you.

In addition, sexually explicit and suggestive movies, media, social media, advertisements, books, magazines, school ‘sexual health’ curriculum, strip clubs, drag queen shows for children, cultivate and feed lust.

The cover of Cosmopolitan magazine coveys a powerful message about identity and conjures up illicit thoughts. Like mainlining heroin, the image of a scantily-dressed woman rides base emotions, bypasses natural defenses of reason, logic, and moral sensibilities directly into the imagination. Once there, the image of the Cosmo woman takes on a life of its own – playing with powerful desires within us.

In the mind of a teenage boy, an image can conjure up sexual appetites that God made for good purposes. But lust takes hold, distorting and degrading the woman’s image. A boy learns to objectify a lovely creature made in God’s image. Mind you, no one has to teach a boy how to lust or objectify others. It comes ‘naturally’ to him.

Illicit thoughts pulse through the mind. A narrative is created in the imagination and eventually gets expressed through behavior. Behavior reinforces the narrative and a destructive cycle ensues. The sinful narrative can shape a person’s life… Yes, it’s all in the imagination. But, it does not stay there. At some point it will be externalized.

Lust is a blatantly obvious universal sin – if people are honest with themselves. Unlike other sins, lust commits severe violence against one’s self, others, and God.

As an aside. In the mind of a teenage girl, the Cosmo woman’s image conveys messages as well. The first, is the girl will never be ‘good enough’ to be like the woman on the magazine. Second, the girl begins to feel like she must become like the woman on the magazine. Finally, the girl may decide that the woman on the magazine is what boys want – so she decides to pursue becoming like the image.

The truth of “I’m created in the image of God – fearfully and wonderfully made” is replaced with a false identity – a lie takes hold of a young girl’s imagination and heart. It reshapes her life if left unaddressed. She lusts after the image for different reasons… She wants to ‘become like’ the airbrushed Cosmo woman. Again, the imagination builds a narrative and often destructive behavior follows.

But, let me re-focus on boys and men since I am a man and I’ve been a boy, I know this domain best.

In objectifying girls, the boy’s lust transforms the girl from an image-bearer into a thing to be obsessed over, possessed, and used for his pleasure… then, to be disposed of.

Ask any man what he had for lunch last Wednesday. He will have to think about it for a moment… He probably won’t remember.

Ask any man about the first time he viewed pornography… He can tell you IMMEDIATELY. He can describe the place, time, and setting.

Ask any man about the woman he first viewed through pornography. He knows nothing about her other than how her image made him feel and how he responded. 40 or 50 years later, her image haunts him.

The average age that a boy is exposed to pornographic material is 8 years old.

At 88 years old, he will still remember the first time he was exposed to it.

Lust is powerful.
Lust is prideful.
Lust is hateful.
Lust is deadly.

Lust is a distortion of a good desire.

God gave men and women desires for one another that are good. However, due to the Fall, sin caused those desires to become disordered and destructive. This is why Lust is one of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins.’

Epithymia(Greek) Desire, longing, coveting, craving, lusting…
Notice the negative connotation – a notion of craving for something that does not belong to you (coveting). (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

Within the richness of the Greek language, Lust carries powerful characteristics of desire and longing for a specific object. The word, ‘concupiscence‘ is used – denoting a passion of lust, evil desire, an indwelling sin. It emerges from the ‘inside’ when an image or event is experienced from the outside. In other words, when boys are exposed to an image of the naked body of a women, it gives rise to an internal desire (response). When virtues are not fully developed, there is no guardian at the gates of the imagination to protect against lust invading the mind and heart.

Epithymia is connected to another Greek word, orexis. The idea here is “reaching or grasping toward the object of desire to attain fulfillment” which one wants to possess. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

Three things come to mind when connecting epithymia and orexis.

The First comes in Genesis 3 when Eve is tempted by the serpent in the garden to eat of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The temptation and lie is that she will become “like God.” But wait, she was already like God – made in His Image, sharing in the fullness of communion with God and Adam. Was the first sin the first bite of the fruit? I think not. It was their “grasping at” the gift God had already given… Adam and Eve already had everything they could ever need from God. They were in perfect fellowship and peace. Man fell because he attempted to grasp and possess the gift of God. We do this today.

The Second comes from Genesis 15 where God promises Abram (Abraham) a son. Instead of waiting for God to deliver on His promised gift of an heir, Abraham and his wife, Sarai (Sarah) grasp for the gift to possess it for themselves.

The Third image comes to mind from Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings“. The pursuit of the Ring in order to possess its power brings out the worst in every character – even the benevolent and valiant have imagined attaining the ring. Possession often brings about destruction of the possessor and the world around him. There is a deep hatred of the ring and anyone who may possess it – unless you are the one possessing it – but then you hate it too.

Lust militates against authentic love.

While love recognizes others as image-bearers, lust turns a person to be loved and respected into an object to be used and rejected. When this occurs, we begin to hate the object – who a person God created in his image. Eventually, lust will destroy its host with self-hatred and shame that began with curiosity, self-love, and self-pleasure. All that is left is an empty shell of a human – a prisoner of his own desires – a slave who is left groping in the darkness for the illusive object of his desire.

The words of Gollum (Lord of the Rings) echo;

“We wants it (the Ring), we needs it. Must have the precious.”

“Precious, precious, precious!” Gollum cried. “My Precious! O my Precious!” And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail “precious”, and he was gone.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings)

How can we have victory over lust?

First, we must ‘turn on the light switch.’ Like other sins, lust is isolating. It happens in the darkness. When we ‘turn on the light‘, we are doing two things. 1) We acknowledge the sin. 2) We realize we’re not alone. The dark room is filled with others. All it takes is one person to flip the switch and many others are able to see as well. Furthermore, when someone is freed from a habitual sin, he or she is able to help others get free as well. God uses people. Free people free people.

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” – Romans 15:1-2

Below is a link to a post on Repentance (the only starting place).

Second, as those who have asked for forgiveness and have been redeemed by the blood of Christ are robed in Christ’s righteousness before the Father (called ‘imputed righteousness‘). In other words, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and faith in Him, we are declared ‘not guilty’. We are saved from the penalty of our sin, we are being saved from the power of sin, and eventually we will be saved from the presence of sin. That includes lust. By the virtue of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have power over sin (albeit imperfect during our life in this fallen world).

“For His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust (epithymia).” – 2 Peter 1:3-4

Finally, (Christian) we must realize that when we do sin (and we will sin), we will experience the grace gift of conviction that brings that sin into the light – where it can be acknowledged and forgiven (forever).

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

Reflect on this passage and pray it becomes a growing reality in your daily life:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Resources:

Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson

Repentance by Lance Cashion 

 

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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Repentance

We must recover the Doctrine of Repentance and raise it to its rightful place – God’s grace-filled gift to sinful man.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

The Doctrine of Repentance may be one of the least understood essential Christian doctrines.

Most (myself included) have grown up with an incomplete understanding of repentance. In addition, true repentance has been lost in the modern evangelical church. It has sunk beneath the waves of our cultural environment of emotionalism, biblical illiteracy, theological confusion, and therapeutic self-referencing doxologies.

The solution is to recover repentance and raise it from the depths of darkness and bring it to its fullest glorious light. Therefore, we turn to the Puritan, Thomas Watson to help salvage the heavenly vessel called “Repentance.”

I credit Virgil Walker and Darrell Harrison from the Just Thinking Podcast (Episode 120) for inspiring the following post.

The section below contains an extensive quotation from Thomas Watson’s “Repentance.” I have selected specific sections to highlight each of Watson’s points in order to condense his 121 page book into a blog post. I highly recommend reading “Repentance” in its entirety. It will profit you greatly.  [Link to the full work provided below this post]

“Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. For a further amplification, know that repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients:

1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin

If any one is left out it loses its virtue. (p.18)

1. Sight of sin (p.18-19)

A man must first recognize and consider what his sin is, and know the plague of his heart before he can be duly humbled for it… . Sin must first be seen before it can be wept for. Hence I infer that where there is no sight of sin, there can be no repentance.

2. Sorrow for sin (p.19-27)

This sorrow for sin is not superficial: it is a holy agony. It is called in scripture a breaking of the heart: ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart’ (Psalm 51:17); and a rending of the heart: ‘Rend your heart’ (Joel 2:13).

3. Confession of sin (p.28-37)

Confession is self-accusing: ‘Lo, I  have sinned’ (2 Sam. 24:17)… But true confession drops from the lips as myrrh from the tree or honey from the comb, freely. o have sinned against heaven, and before thee’ (Luke 15:8) – the prodigal charged himself with sin before his father charged him with it… Confession gives vent to a troubled heart. Confession purges out sin. Confession of sin makes way for pardon.

Where a person has fallen into scandalous sin and by it has been an occasion of offense to some and of falling to others, he ought to make a solemn and open acknowledgement of his sin, that his repentance may be as visible as his scandal (2 Cor. 2:6-7).

Where a man has confessed his sin to God, yet still his conscience is burdened, and he can have no ease in his mind, it is very requisite that he should confess his sins to some prudent, pious friend, who may advise him and speak a word in due season (James 5:16).

Where any man has slandered another and by clipping his good name has made it weigh lighter, he is bound to make confession. How can this reconciliation be effected but by confessing the injury? Till this is done, God will accept none of your services. Do not think the holiness of the altar will privilege you; your praying and hearing are in vain till you have appeased your brother’s anger by confessing your fault to him.

4. Shame for sin (p.39-44)

Blushing is the color of virtue. When the heart has been made black with sin, grace makes the face red with blushing… Every sin makes us guilty, and guilt usually breeds shame.

Be assured, the more we are ashamed of sin now, the less we shall be ashamed at Christ’s coming. If the sins of the godly be mentioned at the day of judgment, it will not be to shame them, but to magnify the riches of God’s grace in pardoning them.

5. Hatred for sin (p.45-52)

A true penitent is a sin-loather. If a man loathe that which makes his stomach sick, much more will he loathe that which makes his conscience sick… We are never more precious in God’s eyes than when we are lepers in our own.

Sound repentance begins in the love of God and ends in the hatred of sin.

Compare sin with hell, and you shall see that sin is worse. Torment has its emphasis in hell, yet nothing there is as bad as sin. Hell is of God’s making, but sin is none of his making. Sin is the devil’s creature.

Look upon sin in the issue and consequence, and it will appear hateful.

By sin we have lost the image of God, wherein did consist both our sanctity and our majesty.

We should hate sin infinitely more than ever we loved it.

6. Turning from sin (p.52-58)

Weeping and turning are put together (Joel 2:12). After the cloud of sorrow has dropped in tears, the firmament of the soul is clearer: ‘Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations’ (Ezek. 14:6). This turning from sin is called a forsaking of sin (Isaiah 55:7)…

There is a change wrought in the heart. The flinty heart has become fleshly. Satan would have Christ prove his deity by turning stones into bread. Christ has wrought a far greater miracle in making stones become flesh. In repentance Christ turns a heart of stone into flesh.

There is a change wrought in the life. Turning from sin is so visible that others may discern it. Therefore it is called a change from darkness to light (Eph: 8).

It must be a turning from sin upon a spiritual ground A man may restrain the acts of sin, yet not turn from sin in a right manner. Acts of sin may be restrained out of fear or design, but a true penitent turns from sin out of a religious principle, namely, love to God.

It must be such a turning from sin as turns unto God This is in the text, ‘that they should repent and turn to God’ (Acts 2:37). Turning from sin is like pulling the arrow out of the wound; turning to God is like pouring in the balm…

To return to sin gives the devil more power over a man than ever. When a man turns from sin, the devil seems to be cast out of him, but when he returns to sin, the devil enters into his house again and takes possession, and ‘the last state of that man is worse than the first’ (Matt. 12:45).

If we turn from our sins to God, God is not advantaged by it. It is only we ourselves who reap the benefit. In this case self-love should prevail with us: ‘If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself (Proverbs 9:12).

If we turn to God, he will turn to us.

If any one (of the six) is left out, repentance loses its virtue.” (1)

In other words, counterfeit or incomplete repentance is an exercise in futility and worthless. We must recover the doctrine of repentance and raise it to its rightful place – God’s grace-filled gift to sinful man.

Oh, how I need forgiveness for my vein and fleshly repentance!

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”
– Acts 3:19

Ken Boa provides a Prayer for Forgiveness – “I return to You, Lord. For You have torn me, but You will heal me. You have injured me but You will bind up my wounds. After two days You will revive me. On the third day You will raise me up so that I can live before You. Amen.”(2)

“Come, let us return to the LORD.
For He has torn us to pieces,
but He will heal us;
He has wounded us,
but He will bind up our wounds.
After two days He will revive us;
on the third day He will raise us up,
that we may live in His presence.”
– Hosea 6:1-2

New Mercies!

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
– Lamentations 3:22–23

He is Faithful!

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
– 1 John 1:9

If you don’t know Jesus Christ, I have good news (The Gospel) – Call on Him!

“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””
– Romans 10:13

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
– Romans 1:16

Daily habit of the Christian life and fellowship with God.

Christians will continue to sin.
We should repent of our sin.
Do Christians confess our sin to be accepted by God?
By no means! We have already accepted when we place our trust in Christ for Salvation.
We confess our sin to remove barriers to our fellowship with God – and with one another (when necessary).
Through repentance, we draw close to the heart of our Heavenly Father… He draws close to us (James 4:8).

Make it a habit; Repent and believe the Gospel every day.

Footnotes:
1. Thomas Watson – Repentance

2. Ken Boa – Prayer for Forgiveness

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You are worthy and valuable

The truth is the truth regardless if you believe it or not.
You are very valuable! You have so many fine qualities. You are made in the image of God. Therefore, you have intrinsic value and worth. No one, not even you can change that reality. The truth is the truth regardless if you believe it or not.

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The Lord put a word on my heart that I must share with you. Not sharing would be to deny water to the thirsty.

Someone needs to hear this today…

Several years ago, I’ll never forget I heard Pastor Dr. Greg Cook talk about how we’re all “self-deceived deceivers.” Spot on!

Since I was a small child, I struggled with a deep-seated sense of worthlessness. Perhaps it was my upbringing or a traumatic event I can’t remember. It was a lie I believed about myself and that lie shaped my life in many ways for many years. It led to chaos, destruction, and casualties in the lives of others. But, over the years, Christ delivered victory. To God be the Glory!

To a greater or lesser extent, we all believe lies about ourselves and our value as a human beings. We believe a deception, then we deceive ourselves, then we deceive others by putting up a facade. Finally, we believe the facade is the real us – forgetting who we are. The false notion becomes so real that our lives can be built on a lie we believed long ago. Many times, we’re not aware that we’re acting on a false belief about ourselves.

Maybe someone made you feel worthless at some point in your life. The devil got a foothold in your mind and breathed out lies that you believe to this day.

Dear Christ-follower,

DO NOT believe lies the devil or the world have told you to believe about yourself!

The TRUTH is, you are so very valuable! You have many fine qualities. You are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, you have intrinsic value and worth. No one, not even you, can change that reality. The truth is the truth regardless if you believe it or not. Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead for you. He took your sin and worthlessness upon himself. He gave you the crown of life and the keys to his Kingdom.

Ask the Lord to reveal to you the lies you believe about yourself. Ask him to use other Christian brothers and sisters who love you to help you see clearly and believe the truth. Repent of believing a lie and believe the Gospel. Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to yourself each day and believe it!

Here are some truths to believe:

– In Christ, you are WORTHY because He is WORTHY! (Roman 8:17, Rev. 5:12) That is TRUTH!

– You have so many fine qualities, talents, gifts and beauty in who God made you to be. There is only one you! This is TRUTH!

– You are loved by the creator of the universe, who knitted you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139). This is TRUTH!

– You did not choose the circumstances of your birth but, God ordained them in His providence (Acts 17:26). This is TRUTH!

– Before the foundations of the world, the Lamb was slain for you (Rev. 13:8). This is TRUTH!

– Therefore, you were, you are and you always will be part of God’s Story (Eph. 2:8-10). This is TRUTH!

– It is NO accident you are on this earth. Today was and is in God’s plan for you. This is TRUTH!

If you have experienced victory in Christ over deep-seated feelings of worthlessness, praise Him afresh today! Now, help someone else experience that same victory. Encourage someone, tell someone they are valuable and they have many fine qualities.

You have the power to influence conversations tonight by how you serve and treat people in your life today. What is the story you want told this evening? …. Begin by telling it now.

Someone once said, “All of Christ for all of life!” Make it so, Lord!

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Conquering the Madness of the Moment with God’s Story

God structured reality in such a way and embedded reality in his creation so that His image-bearers (humans) can apprehend it, albeit imperfectly. For sure, the fallen world, sin and broken lives distort and dim the good world God created. But, that is not the end of the story. It’s just a moment.

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We live in an ever expanding crisis-centered culture.

Stress at home and at work, and free-floating anxiety are in the air. It seems like you can almost touch it. The world says, “just deal with it” as moments like waves pound you like an ocean storm. Some deal with stress and anxiety by indulging in excesses like drinking, eating, drugs, video games, social media scrolling, pornography, or other unhealthy activities. Some will fall into a pit of despair, depression, or apathy. Many barely make it through the day. It’s a chore to sleep at night. The alarm goes off in the morning shouting, “Wake up! Another crisis ensues!” It can be maddening.

I hear it and see it in the faces of people everywhere. It’s a problem.

The “Out of Control vs. Control” Problem

Most situations we face are completely out of our control. You can only control yourself and your responses – which is extremely difficult.

Out of My Control:

Are you helpless to do anything about a world on fire?

School shootings, natural disasters, wars, a traffic jam on the way to work, a serious health diagnosis, a family member making destructive decisions, an abusive boss, a flat tire, or the dying garden caused by the relentless Texas heat are examples of our limited control.

Don’t confuse the madness of the moment with the bigger story. Remember, we live in moments within a bigger story.

Open your newspaper or newsfeed. You come face to face with empirical evidence of evil, brokenness, and pain. Deep down you know what you’re seeing and experiencing is bad, it’s wrong, it’s cruel, it’s unjust! The madness of the moment militates against a deeper notion that the world is not supposed to be this way. Something is wrong.

Where did the notion that “the world and life are not supposed to be this way” come from?

C.S. Lewis said about his conversion from atheism to Christianity the following, “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” (Lewis’s full quote below this post)

In other words, although we live in a world of brokenness and sin, God did not obliterate goodness, truth and beauty embedded in creation. In a fallen world things are disjointed, distorted and decaying. However, God structured reality in his creation so that His image-bearers (humans) can apprehend it, albeit imperfectly. The fallen world, sin, and broken lives distort and dim God’s good creation. But, that is not the end of the story. It’s just a moment.

By God’s mercy that we have “some idea of a straight line.” The “straight line” is God’s Story.

Within My Control:

Presuppositional truths of the Christian worldview – God’s Story:

1. God is… (God exists, whether one believes or not does not change reality of God’s existence)
2. God is the source of all goodness, truth and beauty…
3. God created all things…
4. God created all things good… (God is the source of good).
5. Sin entered creation because man chose to “be like God” and rebel against his creator…
6. Creation fell into the curse of brokenness, pain, decay and death…
7. But, God sent Jesus Christ to redeem people from sin and His creation from the curse…
8. God is setting right what sin sets wrong…
9. God is currently redeeming and will restore all things in the future…

How to Conquer the Madness of the Moment

Remember The Story
So, when you find yourself caught up in the madness of the moment, remember The Story. Out-narrate the moment with God’s bigger unstoppable redemptive story. It is The Story we inhabit. The Story can be described in four chapters; creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. The story of the Bible contains all other stories.

Did you choose the circumstances of your birth?

Of course not, we did not decide where, when, and to whom we were born. We were born into a cultural moment within God’s bigger Story.

Discover or Rediscover Your Calling
Every man or woman’s life mission is to seek out their unique role in The Story. Merely existing is NOT what life is all about. Escaping life’s troubles and pain through pleasure or distraction leads to meaninglessness, madness, and self-destruction.

God created you for this place and time to serve His purposes in this generation.

Those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” (Roman 10:13) Those who God saves He calls into the biggest, truest and most beautiful Story ever told. God writes His Story with the lives of ordinary people just like you and me – moment by moment, one life at a time.

Reflect on the following:

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
– Isaiah 26:3

“Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service.” – Os Guinness

Note: Join me as I interview Os Guinness on August 8, 2022 at 7pmCT via live Zoom (ask your questions). Link…

“For the secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

C.S. Lewis’s full quote from above:
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such a violent reaction against it?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if i did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

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