Monday, June 30, 2008
1) While I will receive a new and glorified body in heaven, one that will be perfect, my Savior will for all eternity bear the scars of my punishment upon His body. Forever will be the nail marks in His hands and feet and forever will be the mark of the spear in His side. So that when I am accused before the throne of the Almighty One, for the sin I continue to commit, Jesus can show the scars and say, "see, I have paid for that with these." Oh the thought of my careless sins grieves me at this moment. That I would take so for granted the wounds He bears on my behalf.
2) that I am far far far to self-reliant. I am far to independent. I too much want to go my own way in my own wisdom- such as it is. I am prideful. I do not confess my need of Him as I ought to. I go tra la la la la-ing my way through my days, rarely consulting Him about my plans. These places of adversity- they cause me to cling desperately to Him like He prevents me from falling off the cliff. And then when I am on top of the mountain again, seemingly out of danger, I brush my knees off, wipe my face and go on my way again until the next thing hurls me overboard. Oh what a wretch I am .... I need Thee, I need Thee, every hour I need Thee... no wonder that song has never meant anything to me before- because I DON'T think I need Him. I can do it all myself thanks, and if I do need ya, I'll give a little whistle. Ugh, disgusting. I am shamed by my own pride and self sufficiency.
"Oh God may I never be so independent! Keep me close Lord. Do not let me stray from You Lord! I beg You Lord, I don't want to be independent, I want to be God dependent! I want to know I need you every hour. God that it would not take crisis or terror to realize this! That I would just always be there. That You would be my guide through this life in more than just a song, or a prayer. But that You would be my constant companion, shielding, guiding, directing my paths, leading the way through this maze of life here., helping me to see the importance and unimportance of so many things I think in my foolish wisdom are so vital. Oh God, help me - I am such a sinner still."
"Thank You that I am seeing this, help me not to forget! Help me to remember this always Lord! As I plan for the future that begins tomorrow, be my guide, be the Captain, be the Lord of my life. Help me, help me, help me. I want You to lead me."
And yes, I hear the words of the enemy of my soul, who tempts me with all that I will lose by such proclamations. I hear him, telling me what I will give up (as if I had it to begin with, ha!) It is all so phony. I never had any of it anyway.
Help me Lord to see Your plan that begins tomorrow, and not to be lulled by the trappings of this world. Help me to make wise decisions based upon what You would have me do. Help us, good and gracious God. I ask in Jesus Name.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
(This entry is a continuation of previous)
What I have learned through ministering to people like our imaginary couple Carol and Bob, is that it quickly becomes evident that on some level- and I am not always sure they realize it- the former-victim-turned-offender (Carol) is enjoying the grilling the other person gets because it validates their anger and bitterness toward them for these (in some cases) long standing sins.
Likewise, the former-offender-turned-victim (Bob)is realizing that they are not necessarily the scum of the earth they have been made out to be since they repented of their sin!
So the focus of the people helping must be balanced equally between the victims and offenders, of which there are now 2 of each!
Observation has taught me that usually by the time we get to a married couple round table the original offender has repented and has begun to demonstrate the good fruit of that repentance. He/she is confused as to why things in the marriage are still going so badly overall and why their spouse reacts and responds the way they do.
The challenge in any of these situations is to move beyond the victim mentality, cease being the offender, and go forward in a restored relationship.
For that to take place the heart must be affected in the areas of forgiveness, pride, anger and its resulting bitterness, and fear just to name a few places to begin with Carol. A person has really got to be willing to humble themselves in such a case but I can think of no better place to start the work than in the area of pride.
No matter what the resulting issues may be, it is imperative that we remember that God is actively opposing the prideful person. He is standing against you if you are prideful and self-righteous! (Jas. 4:6) This thinking often arises out of the misbelief that you are incapable of such a deed as has been done to you. That you are too holy, too good, too sanctified to ever be caught up in such sin. Well, that maybe true for whatever the specific sin is that has been done against you or by your husband but I promise you that you are capable of something just as grievous to God. You must repent.
Remind yourself daily of your need for the gospel! God will take care of your husband (of offender); you must now focus on your own sinful areas. (Rom 12:18, 1 Thes. 4:11)
Remember that you are also unworthy of forgiveness, and mercy and grace! Demonstrate the kind of forgiveness that God has:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
God’s forgiveness of you is conditional only in the sense that a person belongs to Him to receive it. He forgave us in eternity past when He predestined us to be His children (Eph. 1) and He throws our sin as far as the ends of the earth. (Ps. 103:12) God does not “forget” our sin; he chooses to remember it no more! (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 10:17) You can do the same!
…seeing that 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. 2 Peter 1:3
Although I only quoted verse 3 for space reasons, the following verses to 8 are also quite appropriate to remind us what we have been enabled to do and what God expects from us as a result. Choose today to remember no more the sin of the one who has hurt you. Tell him or her you forgive them from the heart because it glorifies God to do so and then determine to never again bring it up to them, yourself, or anyone else.
Do not give in to the temptation to manipulate by emotions. Ask yourself if what you want to do glorifies God. Determine to attack the problems before you, not the person. Anger is an emotion given by God to motivate us to solve problems not to hurt each other by. (Eph. 4:26,27)
You will be amazed at how these little steps can make such a difference in your heart and life and these people and relationships you have struggled with for so long. You don’t need to avenge yourself or to be afraid of being made a fool of. God, who sees all and knows all will honor your desire to follow Him and to honor Him by how you live.
Go forward in freedom from the past!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
In cases where a person as been victimized what we frequently see is that even when the offender confesses his/her sin and repents it is not perceived as “enough” by the victim. For clarity purposes, today we will call our victim “Carol” and our perpetrator “Bob.”
Bob has recognized his sin against Carol and through the counseling process Bob has experienced true heart change and has begun to live these changes out daily. He has confessed to Carol his sin against her, and asked her forgiveness.
Carol has been down
Carol, the once-victim, often perceives herself as the righteous, wounded party. She has adopted a position of self-righteousness and her pride in that is evident. She appears to believe that her spouse is not as spiritual or as acceptable to God as she is. She communicates through verbal and non-verbal communication that she has no sin, or certainly none as egregious as Bob’s, and almost literally peers down her nose at her spouse “The Sinner.”
What has happened here is that the two people have switched rolls and the one who was a victim (Carol) now becomes the offender. If this at all describes a situation you find yourself in, please don’t tune me out now!
This is displayed in ongoing bitterness, hard heartedness, critical spirit, condemnation and in general, a “raising the bar” lifestyle. “It” (whatever change has been made, whatever accountability is in place, how ever many hoops to jump through) is never good enough. Carol is always looking for that one shed of evidence to prove to herself, the counselor, their friends, but most especially to Bob that he hasn’t changed one little bit.
In these situations the person (in this fictitious case, Carol) must be confronted about her sinful attitudes toward her husband. She must be called to account on these numerous levels.
Often, someone like Carol would come to counseling with the expectation that the former offender (Bob) be the only one challenged, rebuked, corrected or the only one who is in need of any kind of change! She is often very offended when confronted about her own sin, believing and saying things like, “This is not why we are here” “Why are you picking on me?” “What about him/her?” This position of self-righteousness leaves little room for examination of their own heart, and little room for accepting any responsibility or contribution to the problems that led up to the violations. There will be some admission that “I am not perfect either” but there is much more concern toward pointing out their spouses wrongs. When challenged in the counseling process, their responses often begin with, “Yes, but he…..” “Well, I did (blank) and she ….” in an attempt to shift any blame away from themselves.
In situations where someone like Carol does say she forgives, I see another common issue arise, the demand for “love” and “understanding” for how long it is taking to get over the offence. This is displayed by radical mood swings, crying jags, silent treatment, reminders of the past offences that she is quick to assure him he is forgiven of!
The demands for love and understanding and time to heal are often impossible to meet because no matter how much love, time, and understanding is given it is never enough! The former offender (Bob) is forever held as an emotional hostage by his deeds of the past.
These responses are often confusing to the former offender. For example, things at home may be going just fine, they may have enjoyed the day of companionship and then apparently out of the blue the victim (Carol) suddenly becomes angry and nearly hostile toward them. Sometimes no amount of asking or pleading will pry from their lips what happened. Their questions and attempts to understand are met with silence or responses like, “You should know!” or “If you loved me, you would know!”
Intimacy is mostly non-existent between the two. There may be sex, but no intimacy because she is not going to allow herself to be vulnerable again. Her heart becomes a closed room to him.
Small and insignificant matters balloon into major confrontations, and there is little peace in the home. Over time every word and deed is analyzed and becomes cannon fodder for arguments that degenerate into hostility on both sides.
If there are children involved, the victim may enlist the support of the children against the offender. I would say this especially true in situations when the husband is caught with pornography. Because the wife is experiencing such betrayal on such an intimate level she strikes out toward the children to ruin their opinion of him and to shame him into stopping.
What is quickly evident in our fictitious case is that while Bob was responsible for the sin that brought this couple to the table, God has used it to reveal some areas in Carol’s heart that need to be dealt with also.
Does any of this sound familiar to you dear Reader?
If this describes you and your marriage, or that of someone you love, than can I encourage you to return here next time?
God surely has a plan for even this trial and time of your life and we will look at it then.
May I remind you- there is HOPE!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Human nature being what it is, in my counseling office I am often presented with cases where one person has caused harm to another.
Many of the cases I deal with are marital situations where husband or wife has grievously sinned against the other and have broken a sacred trust, violated the marriage covenant, or become untrustworthy in any number of ways.
I have created several examples to help you understand the background. (It is important that I state that these examples while common are fictitious and do not represent any one person living or dead or any actual case history or personal story.)
Example #1: Husband has been secretly viewing pornography on the internet or DVD. Wife discovers this and trust is shattered. She considers this adultery. Everything is now suspect about her husband. He is now a liar, cheater, adulterer, pervert, untrustworthy, purveyor of illicit sex, and a whoremonger.
Example #2: Wife has been spending money on credit that the family does not have. She has run all the credit cards to maximum and there is not enough money in the family budget to make the monthly payments on them plus the usual bills. After repeated attempts to stop, and numerous broken promises husband discovers wife has opened new charge accounts and is having the bills sent to her mother’s address. Husband’s trust is shattered. His wife is a liar, and has stolen from the rest of the family by her self-indulgent spending, she is untrustworthy.
Example #3: Wife has been involved with numerous extra-marital affairs. Each time she promises to never do it again. Husband has been forgiving of her, and is granting her forgiveness time and time again only to find another “love” note, receive mysterious “wrong number” phone calls, and realize his wife has unexplained missing blocks of time in her schedule. She is an adulterer, cheater, and a liar.
Example #4: Husband has always been an angry guy. He has yelled about everything their whole married life. He has never admitted he was wrong in all the years they have been married, everything has been her fault. It has gotten so bad that he has been forced to get some help (by whatever means) and has received counseling that has begun to make a difference in his life. He is viewed as angry, hostile, unreasonable, and untrustworthy.
In these situations there is always a victim. The heart of a person who has been victimized is focused on protecting self from being hurt again, this only makes good sense, correct?
The heart is the biblical term Jesus Himself used to describe the inner man. It contains your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, mind, thoughts, spirit, desires, soul, will, and every other immaterial thing about you. Your heart is the place where the essence of who you are resides.
Please allow me to draw you a word picture to help you understand. Picture the shape of a heart and in the center of that heart is you, and the heart of self desires to protect “me” as victim.
Next to that heart is a box that would contain the thoughts, beliefs and desires that would flow from a heart that is protecting itself from being hurt again. Those thoughts, beliefs, and desires might look something like these:
- I must protect myself
- I must look out for myself
- I must not ever let this happen to me again
- He/she is not trustworthy
- I must check up on everything he/she does
- I must not be fooled again
- Verify, verify, verify before trusting
So, we have the heart that is set on “self” and protecting “self” from being victimized or hurt again. Then we have a box flowing from that heart that contains some thoughts, beliefs, and desires someone in that position might have. And finally picture another box next to the first one. This one contains what the results of living this way would be.
- Lack of faith
- Lack of trust
- Inability to move forward
- Unresolved anger
- Unresolved bitterness
- A living desire to “make him/her” pay
I have seen this play out over and over in numerous people’s lives and it is a sorrow to behold.
The victim is suspicious of the one who hurt them and ever-watchful- almost predatory like of the other person.
The victim is suspect of many of the actions of the offender.
The victim is suspect of the motives of the offender.
The victim perceives that the offender is always plotting and scheming some new hurt.
The victim is often irrational about the actions of the offender.
The victim seeks to demonize the offender in every respect.
In some cases, where there is no repentance on the part of the offender, these things are true in part or totally. In some of these cases, we teach the victim how to live with the offender in a Christ-like manner bearing up with the strength of God. In other cases we can allow the victim to seek a divorce after other means are satisfied and it is clear that hope for reconciliation is gone.
However, the majority of our cases of this kind are marital and they involve 2 believers who say they are willing to submit to our counsel and who say they are willing to change. What I find through the counseling process is that even when the presenting issue of the offender is dealt with biblically there is much work yet to be done.
We will pick up here next time, if the Lord allows.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The important question you must ask yourself is this: “How can I respond in a way that glorifies God?”
Your natural man will want to reply in anger, do the words you want to say glorify God? (Prov. 4:24; Prov. 19:1; Ecc. 5:6;
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:29-31
We are specifically told not to use foul speech in this verse. “Unwholesome” is a nice way of saying “trash”, “garbage.” Paul is telling us not to talk trash to one another or about one another because to give in and indulge the flesh will grieve the Holy Spirit! It grieves Him because we are tearing down someone God has created and who may even be a fellow believer (Jas. 3:8-9), and because Jesus has enabled us to respond righteously by His death and resurrection and we have chosen to ignore that precious gift! (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 2:9:8)
We are told to put bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and slander away from us. The temptation to participate in all these behaviors is very strong when a person is being lied about and slandered. But if we want to glorify God in our response we must deny the desires of the heart and obey God.
Your flesh will want revenge! Does avenging yourself glorify God? (Rom. 12:19)
No, of course it does not. To glorify God we must do the hard things in Romans 12
V 14 - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. It is difficult to pray for those who curse you! It is difficult to bless them with kind words and actions. And yet, it is what we are called to do.
V 17 - Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. This is the heart of the Christian life! Our response to evil is to be goodness for that is how our Savior responded. Never is a long time and a very definite command. To not pay back evil for evil we must refrain from slandering the person or people who have done it to you. You must not lie or gossip about them. You are to put V 14 into practice.
V 18 - If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. The hard truth is that despite your best efforts, you may never be at peace with all men because relationships are a two way street. In my assignment scenario (from the previous post) the person being slandered and lied about was really innocent and not even involved in the situation. We live in a very fallen world, and we are often dealing with unbelievers who do not want to be at peace with us. The “If possible” part simply means that we do our best in the situation to be like Christ.
When you have been attacked your pride may be deeply wounded. No one that I know of wants to be thought badly of by other people. Pride is affected when we think we are being denied the respect we believe we are due because of who we are, when we think we deserve better than what we get, or when we think we are worthy of honor and it is denied. Pride is wrongly labeled self-esteem by the modern psychological movement.
It is not a bad thing for your pride to be wounded. God is always in the business of removing pride from the human heart because He hates it! (1 Peter 5:5) Pride draws us away from God and when we get too much of it we seem to believe that we don’t have a need for God or His wisdom as much as when we have been taken down a few notches. (Gal. 6:3;
It is hard to hear people say horrible things to you and about you and while I am not for one moment promoting you place yourself in situations where you will be a verbal punching bag, I am saying that there will be times you must allow it to pass you by without response. (Phil. 2:3-4)
Reading Friends, all of this brings us back to the foot of the cross. Righteous responses like those we have looked at these past two blogs are impossible apart from the Holy Spirit. They are impossible unless we realize that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and you and I are just as capable of the lies, gossip and slander that may have been thrown our way. We must look at our own heart and examine ourselves in the light of His Word and only by His grace determine to apply these truths to our lives that they will overflow into the lives of others.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Have you ever been rolling along just fine through life and thinking that all was well when you suddenly get blindsided? Recently, I was given the assignment of learning how to respond righteously to lies and slander despite the desires of the sinful flesh.
The particulars of any given situation are not as important as the point of this posting is to help you to learn how to properly respond to lies and slander when you are confronted by them and to deal with the resulting confusion, hurt, and anger.
This is the setting: People from the past re-emerge and they want something, but not from you. They want something from your children who are adults and want nothing to do with these individuals and tell them so. And so it begins…
What you learn very quickly is:
Rule #1 about people is that we don’t like to be told “no.”
Rule #2 - We want what we want and usually are willing to go to great lengths to get it.
Rule #3 seems to be that if we cant get what we want the nice way we resort to any means possible. This is evident by the fact that there are robberies, murders, and rapes in society. (Jas. 4:2)
Rule #4 – Some people are just mean and ornery because they do not know Christ. We cannot expect an unbeliever to act like a believer! They are acting out of their nature. (John 8:44)
In this case the people who have been denied what they want begin to attack, and the person they attack is you! They drag up every bad true thing they can remember, and then they add to the pile by inventing things, slandering your character, telling bald faced lies and spreading these things to people who are important to you. Your name is being dragged through the mud, your reputation assaulted and you are baffled by this whole thing.
The first question we always ask is “why.” Why would someone want to hurt you in this way? This is not a question to spend much time meditating on! When it involves an unbeliever any of the above 4 Rules will cover it, I am afraid. When it involves a believer and sadly enough it does happen, you have to remember that Rules 1-3 can still apply!
Our first response when we learn that lies are being told and we are being slandered is not usually righteous. Perhaps you have an angry tirade over the lies and slander that were said about you, and because you are very angry you sin in your anger. You may be surprised at the kind of venom you are spewing about the situation and be (foolishly) surprised at the strength of your flesh and the sinfulness of your heart even after all your years as a believer in Christ (pride!).
You discover that you are only adding to the sinfulness of this situation, take a deep breath or two and begin to repair the damage by thinking biblically about it.
First it helps to remember what Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. John 15:20. Jesus was speaking about unbelievers, those of the world (John 15:18) He makes it clear that we should expect such treatment. We should expect to be hated.We are living lives that are not in synch with the rest of this world. We are the anti-type, the anomaly. Our morals and values are different than those of unbelievers and our priorities are those of the Lord.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:11-12
Second, remember that we seek to please Him rather than ourselves (Col. 1:10). Oh! It is so very hard in those moments to push back against the flesh, when everything inside you screams to be let loose and reply in kind to the treatment you have received! The heart (thoughts, beliefs, emotions, desires) is full of all the wrong kinds of responses:
(“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” Matthew 15:19) so following your heart is the wrong course of action!
If you want to glorify God in how you respond (1 Pet. 2:1) then you must look to Christ for the example.
For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 1 Peter 2:19-23
God has enabled you through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to bear the pain of unjust suffering. While it is a blow to the pride (which is also a good thing) to not retaliate it is the right response. You can choose to accept by faith that this trial is a part of God’s methods of growing and changing you, and that these things are also conforming you to the image and likeness of Christ.
We will continue this next time, if the Lord wills!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
There is simply so much bad theology out there it taken us this long to get to the ‘how to.” Much of the how to, I’ve already mentioned, so here I’ll just summarize. We need not do much hand-wringing if we keep some basic stuff in mind.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
First, this means is that we have to realize that God does not lead everybody. (Eph. 2:1-10)
The works prepared beforehand apply to Christians-they are result of faith, not the cause.
As we follow the Lord he will providentially give us opportunities to do good works that he ordained in eternity past. We can confident then that what ever we do for his glory is indeed within His will, whether it’s in Moldavia or your home town!
Second, our walk with God
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. (Eph. 5:18)
Essentially this means the daily dying to self, turning from sin and pursuing righteousness. It means not being prideful, following our fleshly desires instead of walking in the Spirit. As noted earlier, sometimes people seek to sanctify or spiritualize their desires to get what they want. That’s delusion and contradicts the actions of love in 1 Cor. 13:4-8.
Third, recognize God’s Sovereignty
He owns it all. He ordains all that comes to pass. He does not need us to accomplish His will but chooses to do so. This takes the pressure off us. Remember that God ordains the ends as well as the means so it need not be a spooky process to discover God’s will!
Fourth, pray for Wisdom and
Remember again that God ordains the ends and the means. Here is how author Dave Swavely so aptly puts it.
“…the purpose of prayer is not to change God or His plan. Instead, our prayer is one of the ways God has chosen to accomplish His plan in the world…Through prayer we have the privilege of being part of God’s great work, as we pray, we grow to be more like him.” --Decisions, Decisions, P. Dave Swavely
This is how God put is through the apostle Paul, and James:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NASB)
Fifth, remember Scripture is Sufficient 2 Tim 3:16-17
In this way, I mean God’s gives us all the guidance we need from His word and from God honoring principles extracted from His Word. By studying it and hiding it away in our hearts we can be reasonably sure our desires and His are the same.
Matt 28:19-20 says for example that we are to make disciples everywhere we can. Clearly, if that’s our desire, it sure is God’s and will give us the opportunities.
Ps. 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Note that a prerequisite for good decision making is to have a delight in the Lord.
Matthew Henry: To delight in God is as much a privilege as a duty. He has not promised to gratify the appetites of the body, and the humours of the fancy, but the desires of the renewed, sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and serve God.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Sometimes this passage is taught in such a way that it means the believer must be at the center of God’s will---His perfect will. It is our responsibility to some how find that dot of His will and be on the dot. This passage, nor any other teaches this.
The renewed mind is one saturated with and controlled by the Word of God. good … acceptable … perfect. Holy living of which God approves. These words borrow from OT sacrificial language and describe a life that is morally and spiritually spotless, just as the sacrificial animals were to be (cf. Lev. 22:19–25). (The MacArthur Study Bible)
The passage refers to submitting to God’s moral will-the Holy living of which God approves.
“His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever come to pass.’
God’s preceptive will is also called His “decreed will’, ‘secret will”, or sovereign will.”
The sense of this is that whatever God sovereignly decrees comes to pass, which is everything because he is sovereign but it’s also secretive because it cannot be known in advance and is always seen in retrospect.
“God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever come to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of circumstances.”
Non-reformed Christians struggle with the extent of God’s sovereign and decreed will. I think it’s the result of the pitiful state of teaching in many evangelical churches. The weight of Scripture is overwhelming in teaching the reformed view of God’s sovereignty and decreed will.
On the applied level, God’s sovereign and decreed will means he is not surprised by your circumstances nor those of your counselee’s. He ordained them, in some way we do not understand this side of heaven uses them to bring glory to Himself and to conform His children to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).
The term “preceptive” is an old term from the basic word “precept.” It means instructions from God’s Word. We call this his moral will because it’s based on His commands and it’s revealed quite clearly in His Word.
Author Dave Swavely put it like this: “The moral will of God, on the other hand, is not what he has planned to occur, but what he commands and what brings him pleasure. Whereas the sovereign will includes everything that happens, the moral will expresses what should happen.”
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1:9-10
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29
This passage shows both aspects of God’s will. His decreed will is a secret to us and we see it in retrospect. His moral will is clearly revealed in His Word and it needs to be obeyed rather than discovered. All the spooky stuff regarding God’s will comes from misunderstanding God’s decreed will, how God interacts with us now, in the church age and an overemphasis on the personal relationship with have with Christ, at the expense of our sense of community one another.
We’ve all heard he old saying, “consider the source.” It’s a call to discernment when making a decision. Certainly the counsel we can get from others can be jaded, mean-spirited, manipulative, controlling and a host other things that would cause us to weigh very carefully what they are saying and why. It is not uncommon in the counseling ministry for people to reject your counsel and seek another opinion more favorable to their axe to grind.
Job’s counselor’s for example misunderstood what happened to Job. They kept insisting it was a result of some sin. They misunderstood God’s purposes so they were not really helpful most of the time. Job’s wife was not helpful at all!
So, it’s biblical to consider the source when making a decision and considering the counsel of others.
In Swavely’s book he gives another example of a guy from the mission’s trip who asked his Bible study leader if he should go. This is not necessarily bad, but it is wrong to have the leader make the decision for him and it’s a little scary to go on a mission’s trip because a Bible study leader tells you, you should.
On the other hand the Scriptures are full of exhortations as to the value of receiving counsel-especially in regards to making major decisions. This cuts down on impulsiveness and recklessness, even the type people try to sanctify with their God told me mentality.
I think there are lots of applications here and most are obvious to us. Usually, when we are honest with ourselves and really want counsel we’ll be open to heeding it! But if we have our minds made up it really won’t matter. We usually ask for counsel in areas where we perceive another has greater expertise or a knowledge base. My investment guy is a Christian and a friend-I trust his judgment and he works my “low risk” mentality with savings and balances it with good counsel with a diversified portfolio. By the same token, a spiritual counselor can help us as they have our interests in mind as well as other factors. A fool indeed is one who ignores counsel like that and does what they desire any too anyway.
Conclusion. Consider the source, but heed godly counsel and beware of the pride of “doing what you want’ no matter what.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
I finished by saying: “Believers are not led through subjective, mental impressions or promptings to provide direction in making life’s decisions—something Scripture nowhere teaches.”
So then, if it’s not a subjective leading, what is it?
If you do not remember anything else remember this…God’s will is never revealed in some spooky feeling.
I have been told,“I feel that God revealed to me I have to divorce my husband.”
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15
I personally think the “feeling based” church culture we live in, a culture, largely ignorant of theology or the principles of interpretation are responsible for the wide spread misuse of the verse. No where in the context of this passage is it implied that this peace of God is related to making decisions.
Friday, June 13, 2008
The Pastor said: “I decided to go because I want more power in the church and this is one way to get it.
We are not free to derive application by ignoring context and the bigger picture as to what the passage means. I’ve seen people do this in regards to making job decisions or moving decisions just because they want A over B and then they use the misinterpretation of the passage as a type of “God told me this morning in my Bible reading what to do.” Scripture though does not teach crummy methods of application. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
In many ways this is probably the biggest problem due to the influence of the Charismatic-Pentecostal movement. It is not confined to those circles however. We need “additional” revelation. is available in the form of dreams, visions, feelings, circumstances, fleeces, etc. Special revelation has ceased.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
C. J. Mahaney asks this question in Living the Cross Centered Life, “What’s the main thing in your life? What is truly ‘of first importance’ to you?” He goes on to say, “If it’s something other than the gospel- are you willing to repent to God and reorder your life?”
I will share a secret with you. Until the past few years I thought the gospel was only for the unsaved. I thought the gospel was a vehicle to get a person into the Salvation Club and then was no longer needed by the Christian with the exception of leading someone to Christ. I would tune out when the gospel would be presented in a church service thinking to myself, “That is for other people.” In the quest for relevance we have stopped concentrating on the crucified Christ.
I am amazed at my salvation. I do continue to find the saving of a wretch like me an incredible miracle. I know that even to my sinful self, the depths of my sinful behavior were abhorrent. I blush with the thoughts of my sinful past even though I am only able to recognize in part the depths of my former depravity understanding God knows all!
It surely does seem that we Christians spend too much time seeking for some new truth, some previously undiscovered nugget that will touch an emotional chord within us and rekindle the waning flames of our Christian experience. But as you read Paul’s epistles you see the same truth brought out again and again- it is all about Him, and not about us. It is all about the cross of Christ; it is all about the gospel.
The problem is not with the message or the messenger, the problem is with the heart of the recipient.
Our hearts seem to have grown cold toward the gospel of Christ. It has become a formula by which we become saved, and once saved we discard this life-giving message as though it has no relevance for us today. But that is completely contrary to the reality of our situation! “Only when we understand God’s wrath toward sin can we realize that we need to be saved from it.” “Only those who are aware of God’s wrath are amazed at God’s grace.”
I spent my formative years as a new Christian in a church that was more on the legalistic end than grace centered. I had a firm understanding of Gods wrath and lived in fear of somehow displeasing God or being out of His favor. I took serious the admonition to “be prayed up” just in case some tragedy befall me so I would not die with unconfessed sin in my life. This was a frightening place to be on a daily basis. Never quite sure I was safe (but in danger of what I could never identify) for I knew my salvation was secure based on Eph. 1.
Living outside the light of the gospel (even as a believer) life will be joy-less, guilt-ridden, emotion driven, and you will tend to live by a set of legalistic standards that you will soon discover you cannot keep and will lead you to live under a heavy blanket of self-condemnation. Not a way to live the joyful Christian life!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
How can I say such things? Because I am beginning to understand a bit about how deeply sinful I am at heart. Have you ever "had it in for someone?" Have you ever wanted just to see them get what you think is coming to them and furthermore, were you willing to help make it happen? I suspect that many of us can think back to our childhood days and recall such times. We were a part of those things because on the surface we thought we were right! We believed that the person who was at that point in time the object of our scorn had it coming. Jesus claimed to be God. He claimed to be able to heal the sick and raise the dead and he excoriated the religious leaders of the day. I know I would not have liked that one bit.
Jesus would not have approved of the life I lived. Because my heart is usually focused on me and what I want, believe, and desire I am by nature very selfish and self-serving. He would have seen through my outside facade of goodness into my inner being and had me dead to rights as a sinner; as someone who did not live her life for the glory of God but instead lived for self. I would not have liked that either.
God does not always do things my way. Things that I want are withheld from me, people I love deeply get hurt or sick and die. I have experiences that make me angry, have to deal with other people who are silly, mean, or hateful and I strike back at God for having made them that way. I often complain about the weather (too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry) and think in my own sanctimonious way that I would surely do a better job of running things than God does.
My will is very strong and I tend to voice my thoughts about things; injustices or things of that nature. Usually, my opinions are about how I in my infinite wisdom would never do things this way or that way but a better way. I am not afraid to tell you what I think even when to keep my mouth shut is the better course of action.
Now Jesus knew all these things (and more!) about me that day He died. It was my face he thought of in the garden before He was arrested, and it was my face He saw in the crowd screaming, "crucify Him!" As he was whipped and beaten and brutalized He thought of me... It would make sense to say that He thought of how He would get back at me, how He would bring vengeance upon me. I knew He was innocent of the charges but I didn't really care. I didn't care because Jesus didn't fit my heart's idea of God, and He asked things of me I really didn't want to give.
So if He didn't think of how to get even with me, then what did He think? He thought of how desperate I was to be released from the great many chains of sin that were wound around my soul. He thought of how hopeless I was and how I was unable to do anything to help myself to break free. He knew I was a dead woman! That no matter how hard I tried, and worked at it I was still falling far, far short of the mark and that there was not ever going to be enough good or energy within me to reach that standard.
As he hung on that cross a betrayed, beaten, bloody, crucified mess of humanity He thought of my sin and my horrible wicked heart. He thought of how much hatred and malice and anger and pride I had inside me. He thought of how impossible it was for me to ever, ever make it out of this world on my own. He thought of how much He loved me, and He thought of how much I needed Him.
I crucified Jesus. Me and my sin was all it took, never mind all the rest of you! He would have done it for me alone if that was necessary but it wasn't because I think you were all there with me that day. He saw your faces and hearts too and He heard your whispers of dis stain and hatred. And yet He loved.
Jesus did not pour out His holy and righteous wrath on us for our sin, He poured out His love and lavished His grace upon us! Knowing exactly who and what we are on an individual basis He withheld nothing good from us, in spite of our sin...
Ahhh grace! How can we fully understand grace if we refuse to see how sinful we were? How can we understand our need for grace until we look at the cross? If the cross and all it's horror was the only acceptable penalty for our sin.....then our sin- my sin- was exceedingly horrifically sinful. I firmly believe that if we are to have an accurate understanding of how abundant grace is then we must look at how sinful we were. It is easy for me for I was as Paul said a chief of sinners. I lived for the other guy, the evil one, and my allegiances were with the dark side for a part of my life.
I love God's grace, and I cherish it for it is because I needed saving that God crucified Jesus.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
In the previous post I focused on our pettiness toward each other and confession and forgiveness of one another. Each of the imperatives in Eph. 4:1-3 cannot be accomplished apart from the heart. Of course a person can fake being humble and gentle but not long term. Eventually the "real you" will squish out around the edges.
What is asked, no commanded of us is to be diligent in preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (V 3) If we are diligent about something it means we are continuing to make an effort. We have to make an effort to effect heart change! Of course, it is first and primarily a work of the Holy Spirit for He is the Agent of Change. You and I must begin to respond rightly to His promptings, conviction, and leadership. This is done through the memorizing and meditation of Scripture and then when it is brought to mind by the Spirit acting on it.
Tolerating idiosyncrasies is much easier when the attitude of the heart is focused on being loving.
1 Corinthians 16:14 says, "Let all that you do be done in love." Love was the motivation for your salvation (Eph. 1:4) and it is how we are to build up this body (Eph 4:16). Love must come before programs, and outreach and service projects- it must come before it all or the work is useless.
We must speak the truth in love to one another, ( Eph 4:15) even when it is hard. Sometimes we manage the truth part, but we are far less than loving about it. Our words to one another are vicious and we intend to hurt with them and it seems that if we can't say what needs to be said in a hurtful manner we avoid it totally! This is not what Paul intended. We are instructed to speak spiritual truth to one another to help each other grow to be more like Christ. As we do this the body of Christ matures and grows stronger and it becomes more difficult to feed wrong doctrine to the church.
We are to walk in this love, and it is to be a way of life with each of us! Can you say that about yourself? Do you endeavor to walk in love in your relationships at church? Some people are just plain hard to get along with, I understand. But are we to hate them? Avoid them? Gossip about them and go out of our way to be difficult or to complicate their lives? Ephesians 5:1 says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
I suspect that much of the "love" we show one another is not as sacrificial or loving as we might like to thing it is. I also wonder how fragrant it is to Him.
You see, none of this is about us, it is about Him. It is about Jesus Christ. You and I and the other people in our fellowships are to be representing Him to the rest of the world. We are supposed to be Ambassadors for Christ, representing Him in this foreign land. We are commissioned to display Christ in such a way that other people want what we have!
As you reflect on your relationships with others please examine them in the light of Scripture and in light of your Ambassadorship for Christ. If you were on the outside looking in, would you want what you see being offered as "Christian?"
Monday, June 9, 2008
These sin issues are poison and will be the death of a church. In Ephesians 4 Paul is speaking to the church, and he opens the chapter telling us to walk worthy of the calling we have received in Christ. He speaks about being unified as one body in Christ Jesus and the passage flows into the personal responsibility we all share in making this happen.
I am so sad to say it is not that way in many of our fellowships. Our churches have become hotbeds for dissension, and factions have developed over issues of music, proper attire and Bible translations. Add to this the personal insults and hurt feelings some people struggle with along with pride that comes from a sinful heart, and you have a real sorry spiritual environment.
To some degree, factions are necessary. Paul said "there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you." (1 Corinthians 11:19) This is how we separate the sheep from the wolves in some cases! We are not to be lemmings blindly following our leaders without question, we are told to test the spirits (1 John 4:1), to approve the doctrine being taught to us (1 Tim. 6:3, 2 Tim. 4:3-4), and to approve them as being faithful (2 Tim. 2:2, Titus 1:9) to the teaching of the Word and to the standards set forth in Scripture for spiritual leaders.
However, too many of our factions are over purely sinful things. You don't like me or something I said, I don't like you because of music, or clothing or any of the other previously mentioned things. And then we all come together on Sunday morning pretend we like each other and call it worship and yet our hearts are full of all this unrepentant sin toward one another! We ask God's blessing on it and pretend that somehow we are bringing God glory by these actions...
In reality, these things are a nauseating stench to God's nostrils and it is for the same kinds of hypocrisy that Jesus said "woe to you"! (Matt. 23:27) This is false unity which is beautiful on the outside but is full of crawling worms inside because the inside is dead and rotting.
When will the church realize that God sees the hearts of men? When will she realize that despite the pretense of holiness she is deeply sinful and in need of repentance? Taking it out of the abstract, we must collectively realize that we are our own worst enemies and admit to God that our worship is not from a pure heart!
We must confess our sin to one another-admit our own wrongs. What usually happens is our confessions include "but" (the great dis-qualifier) and we want to shift the blame for our sinful behavior on the other person. This is obvious when we say that we would not have said or done something if the other person would not have said or done what they did. This is not repentance or confession, it is blame shifting and justification of personal sin! True confession is done in humility and seeks to reconcile with others rather than justify ones self.
We must forgive one another from the heart! Often our forgiveness is just lip service and meaningless! We say we forgive but continue to cherish the hurt or offense in the heart. We continue to think critical thoughts, gossip about them to others, and rehearse the events over and over in our minds. Heart level forgiveness means that you transfer the hurt to the cross, the desire for revenge to the cross, and the anger and hatred to the cross. It means that you see the offender through the eyes of Christ- from the cross.
True forgiveness means that you do not ever bring up the incident again. You do not bring it up to others, you do not bring it up to them, and you do not bring it up to yourself. True forgiveness mirrors that of God towards us! The offense is thrown as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and the forgiveness is all of grace (Eph. 1:7). We do not forgive them because they deserve to be forgiven, we forgive them because we were undeserving and were shown mercy and grace.
Friday, June 6, 2008
It seems to me when I think about people I know over a broad spectrum of life that most of them are consumed by living life. There is of course nothing wrong with thinking about summer fun, and ballgames, and picnics, festivals and graduation celebrations. Many of these things are on my list of things to do as well. However, as I meditate upon what Stott said I have to ask what my life is made of. What am I about?
When I first became saved I was all about the living of life. Things were very important to me, I spent my weekends at the mall, I had to be home to watch my favorite television shows. I think I had 60 pair of shoes! I was out for me, what I could get, and how I could live the best life possible.
When I began to grow in my faith I discovered a desire to serve. Sadly, that desire was still more about me and about being recognized than it was about God. After time, enough growth took place that I realized that was the wrong motive. I wish I could remember exactly when that switch was hit, and the change took place... I do remember thinking I would take the classes offered at church on theology. I wanted to be prepared for whatever God would want me to do.
I vividly remember when I realized a deep and yearning desire to give and serve. This was not a snap decision nor was it a lightweight thing. I sat on the steps alone, and prayed asking God to reveal to me if this weight I was experiencing was the call to serve, the call of ministry. It was a time of heavy contemplation and much angst.
That is when I am conscious of my life becoming about giving instead of living. I began to realize what the life of Christ was about, and it was service. The Gospels came alive in a new way as I understood that to be about serving was sacrifice. It was not about being thanked and recognized or appreciated, it was about hard work and invisibility.
Life that is Christ-centered is about giving. The giving is to be as complete on our end as it was on Christ's. So often the words of Philippians 2:1-8 come to mind:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
When you and I reach the level of giving that costs us our lives then we have done enough.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I imagine that David had some conversations like this one, "I was awake at dawn, unhappily so, because I just want to sleep it all away. My fear is that I am just "done" and that is that. I am so so so very weary and....just want to be done with this all. I know all the stuff about thankfulness and I have much to be thankful for but at the moment it is all just blah blah blah in my ears. I am not there. I am struggling to maintain. I am in the valley of despair at the moment and I trust that I will climb to the valley of vision again- but not in this moment. Every fiber in my body aches with sorrow and despair. I, at the moment, just want to give up, surrender and let it all take me away."
Have you been there? If so, you are not alone in discouragement today. I know WE are not alone in struggling with discouragement as God has graciously given us many Psalms to read that record the discouragement of David, and others.
One thing I have noticed about the Psalms, those that begin on a discouraging note don't stay there. There are a few exceptions, but by and large the Psalms that begin down in the dumps conclude with the Psalmist soaring over his troubles and rejoicing. In between the dumps and the soaring is a whole lot of truth. So following the pattern of the wise men of old, you and I have to go back to the basics and preach truth to ourselves.
As out of control and discouraging as this all may appear to me God is in complete control of the situation. The truth is that God is fully aware of our circumstances. Nothing that is happening is catching Him by surprise because He has the long view. He knows the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10) and He says that what He intends will be accomplished as a result of this time.
There is no need for us to fret and be anxious about any of these things because God intends to use them for our good and the good of all those involved. That good may not be what we think it will be...but we can be sure it will be what He has determined it to be. The good that God promises to bring about is that we will be conformed to His image We will learn more about Him and in some way we will be more like him, imagine that.
So what do we do in the meantime? We have to realize that sometimes there is nothing practical we can do about any of it, nothing for us to change. This can be most frustrating and add to the discouragement because we are action oriented people and long to fix things.
We must pray for the willingness to focus on Him instead of our circumstances. When we get our eyes off of the situation and begin to ask God to help us to glorify Him in the midst of the discouragement the clouds of gray will lift. Pray God will strengthen your heart with faith for continued testing that we might glorify Him as we go through this. There are times I am tired... but I am reminded of Paul's words:
...we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Is the life of Jesus being manifested in you as you struggle? We can soar as David and Paul did in the midst of their trials. When David had no personal reason to praise God because his circumstances remained bleak he praised God for being GOD! He praised Him for being wonderful, gracious, kind, loving, merciful, patient, generous, worthy, mighty, glorious and every other attribute he could think of! Paul praised Him for Jesus Christ, salvation, redemption, forgiveness, justification, reconciliation, sanctification, and eternal glory with Him!
As you and I apply these same remedies to our lives we will experience the same shift in heart and mind that these two giants of the faith did. We will manifest Christ and live in the truth despite our circumstances. I have this urge to ask you if you feel better as though that is what it is all about but it is not. It is about Him and our Holy Spirit given ability to praise Him in the midst of difficulties and trials, it is about bringing Him glory and honor in all things!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I have a friend who for a period of time doubted the love of God in her life. Small things would happen that were not a part of her plan for the day and she would wonder aloud, “Don’t You love me God?”
Have you ever been there? Have you been in the midst of some difficult circumstances and wondered if God loves you? Or, have you ever believed that you sinned so greatly that God could never love you or accept you? Some of you have, I know.
What would you have to see or experience to realize this love? How about a day where everything goes right, or an extra paycheck or bonus shows up in your mail slot? For multitudes of people the gauge of God’s love are the circumstances in their lives. If things go well then God loves them and is pleased with them. If things go badly then God is somehow displeased with them, especially if things go wrong for an extended period of time.
I once went through a horrible time of conflict and thought that God was done with using me in ministry as a result of it. I was very, very sad at this thought but wanted what God wanted for me and for His church. I did not realize that I was questioning God’s love for me in the midst of all that grief until I was asked to participate in the Christmas service by reading the Word of God to the congregation. I was simply overjoyed at the privilege of being asked to share the very Word of God on Christmas and vividly recall hanging up the phone and with shouts of joy and tears saying, “You do still love me! You do still love me!”
Until that moment I did not realize I doubted Him. I also did not realize that my beliefs were in conflict with the truth of Scripture. I did not realize what an insult such thoughts and beliefs truly are. Listen, when you are tempted to think such thoughts ask yourself this, exactly how much more would God have to do for you to show you that He loves you? What more this there than death?
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
I repeat, what more can a person do for you to show you His love than to die for you? We makes heroes out of men who jump on train tracks to rescue a little child and rightfully so! What about one Man who provided a way of rescue for every man woman and child ever born? What else could He possibly do to persuade you of His love?
Jesus is enough! His death was enough to prove the love of God for us my friends. His death was sufficient to secure our salvation. His death was enough to secure our life. His death was proof of His love as on that day for the first time ever in all of eternity God turned His face away from His own Son. (Matt.27:46)
But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering… Isaiah 53:10
God did not spare His own Son in any respect in this death. Jesus’ death was not private as His betrayer’s was. (Matt. 27:3-5, Acts 1:18) It was not a simple hanging in a deserted place or a neat and orderly affair, it was a bloody, messy, vile affair that was public; and every stripe was intentional, every drop of blood spilled was accounted for.
In his book Grow in Grace Sinclair
Carefully read Isaiah 53 today. Spend some time meditating on the great love that God has shown us in Jesus Christ. Put away the childish notions that worldly things are evidence of His love and favor and instead think on things that are true (Phil 4:8)
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13