Go Kill Yourself

I really hate myself.

I really do. I do stuff that is just plain evil. I seek after the wrong things. I do things that are utterly unpleasing to God. I am so far from God’s desire for me that it isn’t even funny. Every time I try to do right I don’t make it. It seems like everything I do is a waste a lot of the time because I simply am not doing it for God but for myself.

Bleach. Why don’t I just kill myself? I mean, that is what the Bible says, right? Paul said he ‘dies daily’ and that we are ‘dead to sin.’ The Bible also says that the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, so why bother keeping it? Why not just go to heaven and cash in on that great and glorious body that doesn’t sin?

Yes, I do feel like that sometimes. I honestly do. Quite a bit actually.

But it is wrong. And you know it is wrong.

God loves us unconditionally, and He has a plan for us on this planet, even while we struggle daily with sin. That is clearly stated many times in the Bible, and we need to turn to those Scriptures when we feel down about our sin. We need to realize God’s glory in our lives.

But I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding underneath that attitude that is not commonly addressed as wrong, and which, I think, is actually commonly taught and promoted by godly pastors and teachers.

That is sad. And I want to address it here if possible.

The Bible talks extensively about the Old Man. It also talks about the New Man. It talks about our Flesh. It talks about the Holy Spirit. It talks about a lot of things. But how are these particular things connected?

Romans 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him,] that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.

So that is pretty clear, right? Our flesh is bad, really bad, and it needs to be as good as dead to us. Really dead. Seriously dead. As dead as we can make it. That means that anything that pleases our flesh ought to be completely cut out of our lives and treated as an abomination to God, right?

I mean, that is what the Bible says over in Romans 8:13 that “if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” And then if you throw in 1 John 2:16 (“For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”) it becomes even more obvious. Our fleshly bodies are absolutely horrendous things, incapable of doing anything good or liking good things.

Actually not that simple.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

Oh.

God wants… our fleshly bodies to be alive? And not only that, but somehow they are supposed to be holy and acceptable unto God! It almost sounds like we are talking about two different fleshes here.

That is because we are. We are talking about the Old Man and the New Man. Or, as we could also put it, the Old Flesh and the New Flesh.

To see this we are going to take a little trip through some parallel passages in Scripture.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We have seen that one already, but I want you to focus on the key phrases highlighted in bold, and keep them in your mind as we go on.

Ephesians 4:22-25 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Okay, I want you to notice the parallels between the mentions of renewing of your mind, and between the connection implied thereby between the Living Sacrifice and the New Man. And now we can continue this series with:

Colossians 3:8-12 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

10 And have put on the new [man,] which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

There is an obvious equivalence between the New Man and the Living Sacrifice, especially when you stack these passages up. And in connection with that is an equally obvious fact that the Old Man and the Flesh is the same thing.

So what does that mean?

It means that our flesh doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Think about it: God made us with bodies. He invented pleasure. He invented our flesh. He made its desires to be the way they are.

But He made them for a particular purpose: to be a Living Sacrifice. He designed us to live in submission to His Holy Spirit (which is the power that makes us able to obey His Word and become like His Son), so that the flesh does not serve itself only, but rather, Him.

A Living Sacrifice. We trade allegiances, and that makes our flesh into a New Man.

And suddenly passages like 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 make more sense:

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God wants our flesh to become like the flesh of Christ: wholly submitted to Him. So what does that mean for us, today? It means that we don’t just kill the Old Man, our flesh: we need to resurrect our flesh as the New Man by the power of Christ.

Romans 6:4-5 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:

We can stop being miserable with our Old Flesh, and start living in victory with our New Flesh. Our ‘fleshly’ appetites are not our enemies… when submitted to Christ and His glory.

So, does that make sense? How do you see this affecting your daily walk?

Pity…

I actually noticed this by accident.

Okay I lied. It was a miracle that I noticed this, and I am very grateful to God that He showed it to me. :)

I was meditating on this Psalm, and was struck by the beauty of its promises and truths, but was also struck by the oddity of the word choice in the KJV in verse 13 (http://bit.ly/9vJLku).

“Psalms 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”

Why ‘pity’? The context is comparing us to God, and how weak and frail we are, so the regular meaning for ‘pity’ fits in fine… but it still stuck with me.

So I looked it up in Strongs, and sure enough it had the ‘regular’ definition: compassion, mercy, etc. Very nice. (http://sir-emeth.com/bible/?T=OT&N=7355) It even has the word ‘fondle’ in there, which conjures up some beautiful images of our Father holding and loving us.

But.

The next word in the Strong’s concordance caught my eye. (Like when can I ever read just *one* word in a dictionary?)

Pitieth (the original word I looked up) was raw-kham’ (a verb). The next word was rakh’-am (the noun). Same word, two different accents, two different word forms. But the meaning made me weep.

http://sir-emeth.com/bible/?T=OT&N=7356

The Hebrew language and culture is built upon vivid word pictures, analogies, and similes. That is how they think. That is how they create their words. And the word for pity in the Hebrew…

Means…

Womb.

Because it *cherishes* the fetus.

Think about it.

God. The sovereign Lord of the universe and Savior of the world. He is as a womb to us, and we are as fetuses to Him. That is the word picture that David painted in Psalm 103, and that is the image that would have come to his hearer’s minds.

Wow.

We are absolutely helpless, incapable of sustaining ourselves, feeding ourselves, protecting ourselves, growing ourselves, or anything. We are utterly dependent upon God and His grace, which gives us everything we need and much more. He is a comfort, a protection, our source of life, our all, our universe. He is all around us.

We are in Him.

Your Turn!

Most of the time on this blog I sit here and talk and talk and talk, and you guys listen (sometimes, when you are being nice). Sometimes you even comment (in which case, as I have said before, you are awesome: most people don’t take the time to put the effort out)!

This time will be different.

This time it is your turn!

I want to know what you think on Abstaining from All Appearance of Evil. I will get you started, but I will mostly be wanting to interact with you in the comments.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Most of you probably agree with this verse. Even non-Christians generally do. But there is something that is commonly missed: who gets to define ‘evil.’ If you let the other person define evil, then you are really in a sticky position. Of course the logical and clearly Biblical answer is that God defines evil. But how does that make a difference?

I am asking you that question. Your turn!

I Am In Love!

I like to put riddles in my statuses, and yesterday was no exception. I posted a short, 42 character message to twitter, buzz, and facebook, and sparked an explosion of responses like none other. The status was this:

“I have a girlfriend; I am in love; she is perfect.”

Some who knew me very well immediately concluded, rightly, that this could not be taken literally.

Others were not sure, thinking that I might possibly, somehow be serious.

Some guessed that the ‘she’ was a new technology, an animal, a boat, a car, the Church, and any number of random and incorrect ideas.

Most were frantic for me to reveal the answer, a couple were bright enough to actually figure it out.

It was very fun.

But now is the time for me to reveal the answer.

She is a ‘her.’ Not an ‘it.’

She is not human.

Nonetheless she is my girlfriend, nonetheless I do love her, and she is perfect.

Her name is:

Wisdom.

Go ahead and kick yourself. :)

Proverbs 4:6-9 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.

9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

Proverbs 8:1-11 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.

5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.

7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Wisdom is represented as a gracious woman throughout Proverbs. She is said to have been there with God before time began, and to have worked with him in the creation of the world. And we are commanded to love her, to embrace her, to dedicate ourselves to her.

And yes, we are commanded to consider her as our sister, our kinswoman, which is well within the limits of the definition of the word ‘girlfriend.’ ;)

Wisdom is valuable knowledge or skill (Prudence is knowing how to avoid evil), plain and simple. People try to give it other meanings, but they aren’t really supported from the Biblical use of the word. The Wisdom character in Proverbs, if you really study her out, is one of the attributes and aspects of God Himself.

God supplies our every relational need. He is our Father, our King, our Brother, our Betrothed, and… our Sister. Pretty cool.

So, what are your thoughts? How can we act out this very interesting relationship with Wisdom in real life?

Eternal Focus

Greetings, and welcome to another guest post! This time I got Tim Sleeper from The Young Heretics Club. We have been friends for a little while on the internet, and I always enjoy hearing his perspective on random, and not-so-random, issues. So without too much ado, here is his article on Eternal Focus!

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When Jay asked me what my thoughts were on focus, it seemed like a joke. I was thinking about suggesting something else to write about that was more interesting and “theological”. But, I decided to stick with the topic I was given. Even though I knew all there was to know about focus, I studied it out anyways. What I found blew my mind. Here are only a few facts to get started:

  • The word “focus” does not appear in the Bible
  • The words “focus” and “concentrate” have different meanings
  • Ironically, the application of “focus” (depending on the definition) is very broad

I thought for sure Paul mentioned focus at least once, I have used the words “focus” and “concentrate” interchangeably, and I thought the application of focus was very narrow. Turns out I was wrong (put that in your record book). This subject gets very deep, but I will try to present as much as I can. However, it isn’t very detailed, so, please take what I say here and study it out for yourself.

To start, I have to define the word “focus”. I also mentioned “concentrate” is different from “focus”, so I will define that as well. There are different definitions for focus, and I think all of them have some application in the Christian’s life, but for this post I will focus on one of the definitions. Put simply:

Focus means to “pay particular attention to”

Concentrate means to “focus all of one’s attention or mental effort on an object or activity”

By definition, “concentrate” indicates an intense form of focus.

We got definitions out of the way, the next question that needs to be asked is “how does focus relate to the believer?” Valid question to which the answer is both simple and complicated. It’s simple as to who we focus on (Christ), but it’s not so simple as to how that focus plays out in its application. To answer the question, I will start out by mentioning that our concentration is on God. God is the creator and author of all things. He owns us. Our concentration, therefore, goes to Him. As a result of that concentration, we focus on His will and His will is to make us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, I think it reasonable to say our focus is to be on Christ. Now, I don’t get this from only looking at it logically, there is also Biblical support for it.

This brings us to Philippians chapter 3. In Philippians 3 Paul is saying that he counts all his gain as loss that he may gain Christ. Paul doesn’t want his own righteousness, he wants the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ that he “may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” Philippians 3:10 (emphasis mine). We are to be conformed to the death of Christ. That is our primary focus.

To whiplash to the next question, “what do we focus on and what distracts us from our focus?” The answer to what we focus on is found in Philippians (again)! In chapter 3, verses 18-21 Paul is comparing two different kinds of people: followers of self and followers of Christ. For the followers of self, their end is destruction (Phil 3:19). For the followers of Christ, their end is life with Christ in heaven (Phil 3:20-21). We focus on the end, not the here and now. If we focused on the present, following self would be almost irresistible. Instant gratification, easy life, wants fulfilled, etc. However, if we focus on the end, following self may seem attractive at first, but we then see the end to that lifestyle and walk away. Following Christ certainly does not give you instant gratification, but an eternity with our Lord Jesus Christ has no comparison and is worth all sacrifice.

When I first started writing I was going to give the example of types of media when it comes to distractions from our focus. Instead, I am going to give an example that is a little more inclusive and is (in my opinion) the root of all sin…PRIDE. The unholy trinity of “me, myself, and I”. In everything we do we are faced with two options: follow what God wants, or follow what we want. Ask yourself “how many times have I backed down on doing the right thing because it was hard, uncomfortable, inconvenient, etc?” Man’s natural lean is to serve himself. Do we not eat when we are hungry or sleep when we are tired? Our natural bent is to see to it that we are comfortable. That greatly distracts us from our focus on Christ. Jesus said in order to follow Him we have to deny ourselves. Our focus matters…BIG TIME! We can take the easy road and focus on self and lose our lives in the process (what a great deal), or we can take the narrow way, lose our lives, seek Christ, and gain our lives. We cannot not focus on the perishable and the here-and-now. We must focus on Christ and the eternal.

Hopefully that all made sense. I had three pages of notes and wish I could share them all. For discussion, what are some other distractions you can think of? Why is it important that our minds (focus) are to be on the things above?

Yippeee!! Oh, Sorry. (Mature Look)

I'm Twenty!Our family loves parties. We really do. We have tons of traditions that make each holiday and event special. Our Christmas is spread out from St. Nicholas Day on December 6th to Epiphany on January 6th, with many fun events in between (not the least being our traditional daily hunt for Joseph and Mary on their way to the Nativity scene).

Birthdays are no exception. We have traditions for how and what we eat for each meal (including breakfasts and desserts). We have traditions for our decorations, from the banner on the cake, to the scene on the table (generally with moss, ivy, ribbons, and origami characters).

We love to give gifts too. 80+ were given just to each other one Christmas, but we toned down after that. :P

We love to go all out, but… it gets expensive, and it is tiring to have massive parties at every birthday. Seriously.

So we picked two birthdays that were our BIG birthdays. Those are the big party ones. The ones where we can have a bit of a bigger budget.

But which birthdays had valuable meaning that would justify it?

Traditionally, in a large number of nations, and historically, the 13th birthday had great significance, and rightfully so. That was when the child (supposedly) begins to put away childish things and become a man. That is when his body begins to kick in and mature, and his mind and spiritual development begin to develop more as well. So that was an easy choice for one.

But the other?

16 is when you get to drive (in the US at least). 18 you get to vote, sign contracts, (have legal adultery :P), join the military, etc. 21 you get to drink (in the old days you got to homestead too, but those golden ages are gone… * sniff *).

Bleah. Pretty poor reasons to have a big birthday if you ask me (even if you don’t ask me).

Does the Bible have anything to say on this point though?

Actually, it does. It names a specific age that is special to God in some way (it is rather obscure as to why it is special and exactly how it is special, but it is special).

Twenty.

The Bible has several different ways that it points twenty out as special.

Exodus 30:11-16 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when [thou] numberest them.
13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel [is] twenty gerahs:) an half shekel [shall be] the offering of the LORD.
14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.
15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when [they] give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

(Notice that this is not a tax of any sort: it is a ceremonial offering, just to be clear on that hehe.)

Numbers 1:45 So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel;

Over and over again twenty is the age from which men were expected to go forth to war (with exceptions for fear, betrothal, marriage, etc.).

Numbers 32:10-12 And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,
11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:
12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.

This is perhaps the most important mention of the age of twenty. This time it was a matter of life and death. God was perfectly able to divide it based on plenty of other things, but He chose to divide the nation evenly by this age.

So twenty is an age of maturity, of manhood, of responsibility, and of achievement.

Thirteen is when we are to begin to put away childish things, and begin to become a man.

Twenty is when we are to finish putting them away, and become a man.

So we have seven whole years to learn, to grow, to cast off, and to build up. We don’t wait until we turn twenty to become a man: we finish a seven year process. And a very arduous and grueling process it can be.

But it is not only worthwhile. It is essential, it is crucial, it is vital.

So does becoming twenty make you more mature? No. It is merely a date to measure your maturity by.

And a handy birthday to have a really BIG party on. :D

Humility AND Self-Esteem??

I would like to welcome Carissa Mann to the writing end of my blog. She has been a good friend and a helpful editor in my many projects, not the least this blog. So I am honored to have her do a guest post here.

Carissa is the oldest of seven, homeschooled, rebelutionary, and can be feisty at times (says me). She blogs regularly and infrequently at Lily of the Valley and Rejoice Always (among other places).

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Reading in E. M. Bounds works on prayer (again!) I read about prayer and humility. His definition of humility is “to have a low estimate of ones self…” He includes some great little poems about humility:

“Never let the world break in,
Fix a mighty gulf between;
Keep me humble and unknown,
Prized and loved by God alone.”

And:
“Let the world their virtue boast,
Their works of righteousness;
I, a wretch undone and lost,
Am freely saved by grace;
Other title I disclaim,
This, only this, is all my plea,
I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.

Also:
“O that now I might decrease!
O that all I am might cease!
Let me into nothing fall!
Let my Lord be all in all.”

Wow! That is how I want to be! Sadly, I find I fall quite short.

Thinking about this subject of humility, I was sitting at the table doing… something, and I heard Zig Ziglar talking to Papa. (Okay, so it was a recording!) Anyway, he was talking about self-esteem. And I, being ever so intellectual, was thinking, How can you possibly be both humble and esteem yourself well?

And, being the wise and curious person that I am, (haha) I asked my dear and very wise Papa just that. (Well, I didn’t say those exact words…)

Well, being the wonderful Papa that he is, he shut off Mr. Ziglar (sorry Zig!), and explained to me that we should realize that God made us, and that he created us in His image. Therefore, to look down on ourselves would be to look down on one of His creations. So to a Christian, Self-esteem is really God-esteem. The only reason we are worth anything is because God created us and loved us and saved us. Without Him, we are utterly, completely worthless, helpless, and unsaved.

So I think you can figure out how that works out. We are humble because we realize that we are worthless and can’t save ourselves, and deserve the wrath of God. But we esteem the work that God has done in creating and saving and loving us.

Now that we hopefully have a clearer picture of how this all works out in theory, here is a practical example:

One case where you need both humility and “self (God) esteem” is when you are teaching someone. (This example is also from my Papa)   If you have an attitude of just “humility” you’ll be like, “I’m a sinner, I can do nothing, I’m terrible at this, we might as well all go home.” If you just have “great self esteem” you will be like, “Oh, I have this humility thing down just right. Y’all just watch me and you’ll see how to do it. I am always humble.” If you have both mindsets, you can tell them openly that you still struggle with this, but by the grace of God, you have been able to make progress in this area, and you’d like to share what you’ve been taught with them.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle more with pride than with having a low view of my self. :) So, how do we gain more humility?

There are many ways we can humble ourselves; For example, admitting that you were wrong about something and asking forgiveness, taking a younger sibling’s advice and correction (this one is particularly hard for me), not taking/seeking recognition for something you’ve done, and so on. Also, the more we learn about God and how BIG He really is, the more we will gain a proper view of ourselves.

Hopefully that made some sense! Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments!

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