Free Will

By G McFatridge

the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.

synonyms: self-determination, freedom of choice, autonomylibertyindependence More

 

God created us in his own image complete with the right and ability to choose what we want.  Our salvation depends upon that freedom to choose.

Salvation is not salvation when you are forced to accept it when you don’t want it.  At the same time if you are not given a chance to choose between salvation or not there is no hope or freedom.

Yet the greatest falsehood is that we really don’t have a choice. YOU have ALWAYS had a choice.

Man cannot take that choice away from you and neither can the devil, no one can.  God won’t, and he will always abide by your choice.

If the cross could not stop Jesus, there is nothing that can stop him. He will Honor His Word and the Word of God every time and God does not change his mind.

Your greatest enemy is yourself and self-doubt. Once you understand that God is for you and has been since before you were born you will see the truth.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV) 17  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We need to hear the spoken word because it activates in our hearts, minds and in the earth.

Isaiah 55:11-13 (NKJV) 11  So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. 12  “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13  Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the LORD for a name, For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

The only thing holding you back is yourself, by your own doubt and choice. You must choose to change your life and when you do act upon that choice and change the direction that you are going. You can do that and the only thing that is stopping you is YOU.

If you sit there and don’t make a choice, you have made a choice to do nothing. If you keep claiming the negative in your life you have made a choice.

So don’t tell me that you can’t change, because it is your choice that got you where you are and it will be your choice that begins the change.

First thing you need is to change your words. Start speaking God’s word over your life. Start with the Psalm 23 and then let the Holy Spirit Lead you. I usually find Psalm 91, and from there the Lord directs your steps as to which way you should go.

So think about it, what is your next choice? Are you going to stop whining about your life and do something about it? Or are you going to sit there and do nothing?

 

 

Posted in Spiritual | Leave a comment

Why the Church Shoots its Wounded

by ANDY WOOD on MARCH 13, 2013

in CONSUMERS, LV ALTER-EGOS, PLEASERS, SINCE YOU ASKED

A few years ago I was having coffee with an old friend and colleague.  I was in a pretty wounded state at the time, and felt compelled to tell him my story.  He was compassionate, listened attentively, then asked, “How can I help?”

“I was thinking about visiting your church,” I said, “and just wanted you to know.”

“Well, I’ll be honest with you,” he replied. “We’re not much of a healing place.”

Wow.  There it was.  Translation:  We’re more interested in fresh blood than spilled blood.  But to be fair, his church was and is true to its mission as they perceive it.  And at least he was kind enough to be honest.

For years I have heard the old saying, “The Christian army is the only army in the world that shoots its wounded.”  Let me say right up front, that’s not accurate.  If you really believe that, you’ve never been in a corporate “army” or a political one.  The wounded get eliminated there all the time.

But the church is supposed to be different, right?  We’re supposed to be trophies of grace, havens of love, lighthouses of hope and (make your own cliché here:  [blank] of [blank]).  So what’s up with that right foot of fellowship?

Defining “Its Own Wounded”

I guess we need to be on the same page here.  Sometimes we use the word “wounded” to mean somebody who has been a victim of the sins of others.  The good news here is that the church has a history of being more compassionate in those circumstances, at least for the most part.

“Wounded” in this case means someone who has been exposed to the enemy (the devil) and somehow has been defeated.  In simplest terms, that usually means they’ve failed somehow.  Little or big.  Private or public.  Wounded means you messed around and got yourself shot, and there’s nobody to blame but you.

But to be even more precise, this saying refers to its own wounded.  We love to take in the world’s wounded or the devil’s wounded.  We believe we have answers for that.

God’s wounded?  That’s another story.  And here are 9 reasons why:

1.  It saves time and money.

I know that sounds crass and selfish, and I’ve never actually heard somebody say that.  But let’s be honest.  It’s a whole lot cheaper and quicker to read The Four Spiritual Laws to 20 people and get them in the front door than it is to do the dirty work of restoration and healing of one.  Healing and restoration take time, and even in church world, time is money.  With limited resources (money), we have to do the most good for the biggest number of people.  I know what Jesus said about leaving the 99 and going after the one lost sheep, but Jesus didn’t have to deal with the competition down the street.

2.  It makes the gospel harder to sell to the community.

Every time there’s another scandal or another embarrassment to the fellowship, it makes it that much harder to say to a lost and dying world, “Give your heart to Jesus and you can go to heaven when you die and be just like us until you get there.”  Who wants to be like us when “us” is being a bad example?

After all, the gospel is only as big as the vehicle that carries it.  Right?

3.  Sometimes they have to pick sides.

This one’s awkward.  Sometimes the wounds spread and involve others in the fellowship.  Maybe a marriage gone sour or a business deal gone bad.  And it isn’t fair to the congregation to have to choose who’s right or who to side with.  But choose they will if they have to.  (Hint:  They don’t always choose the “victim.”)

I know Jesus prayed for unity and all that.  But in the real world sometimes we have to choose the greater good.

4.  They’re hurt.

Remember, the church isn’t a thing – it’s people.  And even (self) righteous people get their feelings hurt by the failures of others.  It hurts to feel betrayed, or embarrassed, or disappointed.  I know that Jesus talked about forgiving seventy-times-seven times, but these feelings are real.

5.  Pride

Paul said to the Galatians, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

Well, we looked to ourselves, and we would never be tempted to do what they did.  That would never happen to us.  And we don’t want to be guilty by association, either.  We have an image to uphold.

6.  Desire

Very few Christians get up on Sunday or Monday mornings hoping they can ignore, hurt, or reject another believer.  But what they do want is a simple, easy life, with a relationship with God and His people that makes their lives even more simple and easy.  They want answers to their questions, relief for their pain, and inspiration for their day.  They don’t want their lives made more complicated by messed up saints.  Anyway, isn’t that what professional help is for?

7.  Fear

I used to have a dog named Eeyore.  Like any dog he had his funny side and his barking side.  I noticed something one day about him during one of his barking fits.  He wasn’t barking because he was angry or threatening.  He was barking because he was terrified.  And he was trying to sound tough to keep the perceived threat away.

And that’s exactly why the Church sometimes “barks” at its wounded.  The simple truth is, we’re scared.  Scared to say the wrong thing.  Scared of doing nothing at all.  Scared mostly of being scared.  So we bark instead.

8.  They confuse forgiveness with approval.

Once I was part of a church that gave a baby shower for an unwed pregnant teen.  Not everybody was pleased.  One lady needed to vent, and I got to hear it.  “What kind of message does this send?”  I just listened as she went on about back in her day and all that, but my thought was, “I don’t know… but is a baby shower the place to pick that fight?”

The church has always had an awkward relationship with forgiveness because treating someone as if they had never sinned seems to be approving of the sin itself.  I know that Jesus prayed for sinners while He was dying for their sin, but come on!  Where do you draw the line?

9.  They’re just as disconnected with God as the wounded soldier.

And they just don’t know how to say it.

 

Now… I need to tell you that I am who I am today in large part because of men and women in the Body of Christ who weren’t part of the cliché.  Throughout my lifetime, they have walked in when the world (and church) walked out.  They have shown me grace, held me accountable, and spoken truth into my life.  They served me and let me serve them.  They loved me unconditionally.  And in the next post I’ll tell you what they did – and what they risked – to get this wounded soldier to a place of healing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forgiving Yourself?

Does God want us to be mired in guilt and regrets, or does He provide a way out of them? What do you need to know about forgiving yourself?

Source: Forgiving Yourself?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What does the Bible say about forgiving yourself?

Question: “What does the Bible say about forgiving yourself?”

Answer: Never does the Bible talk about the idea of “forgiving yourself.” We are told to forgive others when they trespass against us and seek forgiveness. When we ask for God’s forgiveness based upon Christ having already paid for our sins and our having trusted in Him as Savior and Lord, He forgives us. It is as simple as that (1 John 1:9). However, even though we are released from the bondage to sin (as spoken of in Romans chapters 6-8), we can still choose to wallow in it and act as though we are not freed from it. Likewise, with guilty feelings we can accept the fact that we are forgiven in Christ, or we can believe the devil’s lie that we are still guilty and should therefore feel guilty.

The Bible says that when God forgives us, He “remembers our sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). This does not mean that the all-knowing God forgets because He forgives us. Rather, He chooses not to bring up our sin to Himself or others. When our former sins come to mind, we can choose to dwell upon them (with the resulting guilty feelings), or we can choose to fill our minds with thoughts of the awesome God who forgave us and thank and praise Him for it (Philippians 4:8). Remembering our sins is only beneficial when it reminds us of the extent of God’s forgiveness and makes it easier for us to forgive others (Matthew 18:21-35).

Sadly, there are people who don’t “forgive themselves,” that is, who don’t move beyond their past, because they really don’t want to forget their former sins, choosing rather to continue getting a vicarious thrill out of reliving them in their minds. This, too, is sin and must be confessed and forsaken. A man who lusts in his heart after a woman is guilty of the sin of adultery (Matthew 5:28). In the same way, each time we mentally relive our sin, we commit the same sin over again. If this is happening in a Christian’s life, the pattern of sin/guilt/sin/guilt can be destructive and never-ending.

Remembering that our sins are forgiven should make it easier to forgive others their sin (Matthew 7:1-5; 1 Timothy 1:15). Forgiveness should remind us of the great Savior who forgave us, undeserving though we will always be, and draw us closer in loving obedience to Him (Romans 5:10; Psalm 103:2-3,10-14). God will allow our sin to come to mind (Satan may intend it for an evil purpose, but God allows it for a good purpose), but He wants us to accept His forgiveness and rejoice in His grace. So, the next time your former sins come to mind, “change the channel” by choosing to dwell upon His mercies (it might help to make a list of verses that encourage you to praise) and think about how we should loathe sin.

Recommended Resource: The Gift of Forgiveness by Charles Stanley

Check the Scripture, and trust the Word of the Lord and listen to the Holy Spirit.

Posted in Spiritual | Leave a comment

What is Sin?

     What Is Sin – The Big Question: We live in a culture where the concept of sin has become entangled in legalistic arguments over right and wrong. When many of us consider “What is sin?” we think of violations of the Ten Commandments. Even then, we tend to think of murder and adultery as “major” sins compared with lying, cursing, or idolatry.

The truth is that sin, as defined in the original translations of the Bible, means “to miss the mark.” The mark, in this case, is the standard of perfection established by God and evidenced by Jesus. Viewed in that light, it is clear that we are all sinners.

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 3:23“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

In light of this, it does no good to compare ourselves to others. We cannot escape our failure to be righteous in our own strength. This is by God’s design, because only when we understand our weakness will we consider relying on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

What Is Sin – A Biblical Perspective: Sin is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, starting with the “original” sin when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge. Often it seems as if sin is simply the violation of any of God’s laws, including the Ten Commandments.

Paul, however, puts this in perspective in Romans 3:20, when he says, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

God wanted us to recognize our sins. Even those who have not murdered or committed adultery will find themselves convicted of lying, or of worshipping false idols like wealth or power ahead of God.

Tragically, sin in any amount will distance us from God.

“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear,” says Isaiah 59:1-2. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

We must resist the temptation to act as if we are righteous, especially by leaning on our good works.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (1 John 1:8-10).

What Is Sin – A Call to Repentance : The good news in all of this is that, once we recognize ourselves as sinners, we need only to repent and embrace Jesus to be forgiven. Jesus can forgive us because he died and rose again three days later in victory over sin and death.

The Apostle Paul refers to this process of recognizing sin and being responsible for it as “godly sorrow.”

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death,” Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. “See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

Learn more about Forgiveness!

WHAT DO YOU THINK? – We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, “Jesus is Lord,” you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

What is your response?

Copyright © 2002 – 2016 AllAboutGOD.com, All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Spiritual | Leave a comment

When Jesus looks Like a Sex Offender

October 6, 2016 by Hugh Hollowell

An acquaintance of mine, a man who is a deacon in a local church, stopped by, and asked if he could talk to me.

We sat down in the small conference room at the community center we run.

“What do y’all do about sex offenders in church?” he asked.

A man named Andy had been coming to their church – a nice, successful, red brick, steeple church – for the last few months. He had attended their adult Sunday School, and everyone liked him.  Andy was an older man, in his late fifties, with a short beard and horn rimmed glasses. He was well read, knew his Bible and listened with rapt attention in the service. He was thinking about joining the church, so he scheduled a meeting with the pastor.

“That was when it went south. He told the preacher he was a sex offender, and he wanted to join the church,” the deacon said.

The pastor told him he would have to do some research. He had then called the denomination’s regional office, who said that it was a no-go because of their “safe-child” policy.

The pastor then called a meeting of the deacons to let them know what was going on, and my friend said he would talk to me, since I probably had had this come up before.

“I don’t know what to do. What would you do if a sex offender showed up at your church,” he asked.

“Well, it happens almost every week. I would say, ‘I’m so glad you are here’, and then probably ask him if he wanted to help me serve communion, or lead us in prayer.”

He looked like he had swallowed something distasteful, so I went on.

I told him that the sex offender registry as it is currently doesn’t really tell us anything about the person. Getting caught peeing in the bushes near a school, being 21 and having consensual sex with a 17-year-old, and molesting a 4-year-old are all things that will get you on the registry, but not all of those people are of equal risk to others.

I also said that all relationships have boundaries, and that it was a great sign that Andy wanted the pastor to know that he needed boundaries. I also told him that a lot of the research shows that recidivism rates for sex offenders are pretty low anyway, and even lower when the perpetrator has a support network, like, you know, a church family.

And then, there is the fact that the Church was allegedly founded by a guy who tended to stick up for people who others had written off, and welcomed those others said were unwelcome because they were unclean. So there is some precedent.

He thanked me, and as he was walking toward the door, stopped, turned back and said, “So he could come to church with you guys, right? It wouldn’t be a problem?”

I assure him it wouldn’t. He said he would talk to the pastor and let me know if there were more questions.

It’s about 3 weeks later. I had never heard anything else, and had honestly forgotten the conversation.

We are getting ready for our weekly service, and I notice a man standing in the corner, looking nervous. He is well dressed, and brought a Bible with him, a rarity in our congregation. I have never seen him before.

‘Hi, I’m Hugh,” I say, shaking his hand.

“I’m Andy,’ he said, like I should know who he is.

I didn’t. I looked blankly.

“Didn’t they let you know I was coming? They told me I could come here, when they told me I couldn’t go to their church anymore.”

I got it.

“Oh, over at [name of big steeple church]?” I ask.

“Yes.” A nervous pause. “Is it OK I am here?”

I assured him it was.

“Come on in, Andy. I’m glad you are here. Let me introduce you to some people.”

At our weekly service, we share communion every week. And I always end the words of institution with the same words:

“Churches have argued over the years about who gets to take communion – just who is welcome at the table.

Some say it is only for members of a particular church. Others say only the baptized can come. But here in our community, we are clear that this ritual reminds us of a meal Jesus once shared. And in our examination of the scriptures, we don’t see anywhere where someone wanted to eat with Jesus and was turned away.

So we won’t turn you away either. We don’t care what you’ve done. Or where you’ve been. Or even what you believe right now. All that matters is that you want to be here. And if you do, then you are welcome, and we invite you to come forward.”

The line was long that week. I had the bread, and one of our regulars had the cup of grape juice we use instead of wine, because lots of us are in recovery.

I would hand them the bread –

“The bread of life, broken for you.”

They take the bread, dip it in the juice –

“The cup of love, poured out for you.”

…and return to their seat while our bearded bluesman who wants to e called Bullfrog belts out some licks on the guitar.

Andy is at the rear of the line, looking down at his hands as he shuffles forward in the line.

He stands in front of me, and looks me in the eye.

I hold out a piece of bread.

“The bread of life, Andy. And it’s for you.”

Tears in his eyes, Andy takes it.

“I can be here? You’re sure?”

I hug him, and say, “If you can’t be here, then neither can I. I’m glad you came.”

After dipping his bread in the juice, he puts it in his mouth, juice running down his chin, staining his white shirt. He then turns and walks down the aisle to his seat.

Andy is one of more than a dozen men on the sex offender registry that regularly worship with us. I could tell you things about his story that might challenge your perceptions about sex offenders, but that’s not the point.

We know Andy, and Andy knows us. We know each other’s stories, and there is accountability in that. And Andy prays for me, which is good, because I need it, and Andy is a good prayer, a skill he learned in those long years in prison.

The easiest thing in the world to do is to confuse your comfort with your safety, and it is easy to be scared of what we do not know. And the work of relationship and accountability is much harder than telling a man like Andy he has to go worship elsewhere. After all, no one in your church is going to fault you for trying to “keep them safe”.

The problem is, the gospels tell us nothing about our safety, but do say that people like Andy – the underdogs, the pariahs, the unclean and the forgotten – are actually Jesus in disguise, and that when we reject them, we reject Jesus himself.

So by all means, pray to God, and sing your organ music and pass the plate and preach about Jesus. But if you do that, you have to be prepared for what to do when he shows up, looking like a sex offender.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We Are Not Perfect

We can demand perfection from everybody around us all we want, my question is this how can you expect perfection from others and yet you are not perfect?

I am not perfect! I am not always right. I make mistakes and I don’t always admit when I am wrong.

One thing I do know is that Jesus Christ is the only one that was perfect. and then I look at myself and say there is no way I can measure up to Him.

The Other thing I know is that Jesus did not ask us to be perfect, He asked us to believe and obey, to accept the gift that we could not earn.

So who are you or me to ask anyone we know to be perfect?

Just as I am without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me,
and that Thou Biddst me come to thee, O Lamb of God I Come,! I come!

Stop and think!

Posted in Spiritual | Leave a comment