Battle Plan – Strategy 9 – Flee!

(The list of these strategies in chart form can be found here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK )

Strategy 9: I’m prepared to flee if necessary; to remove whatever sources of temptation may be a stumbling block to me.

 

Paul writes to Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22, NKJV)

 

The key word here is run. We normally have an instinct to run from danger. Why don’t we flee the lusts and temptations that are at war against us? I think it’s probably because we don’t realize or believe the danger that God warns us about in His word.

 

Paul told the Galatians, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Galatians 6:7–8, NKJV)

 

I heard a message by Charles Stanley who said that we reap what we sow, later than we sow, and more than we sow. Somehow, I don’t think we believe this is true, otherwise we would be running away from our temptations the way Joseph did in Genesis 39.

 

I think a big part of our problem when it comes to our hesitance to run is simply a matter of unbelief. We don’t believe God’s warnings of the corruption and death that is inherent in our practice of sinning. Paul warned the Galatians in the passage above that if we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption. Nobody wants to reap corruption, but we don’t believe it will happen with us because we are “saved.”  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this passage from Romans: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13, NKJV)

 

This is written to believers, but there is the threat of death in it. Living according to the flesh, following its desires and lusts, results in death. He may not be referring to eternal death, here, but certainly we bring corruption, rotting, into our lives and hearts somehow by not fleeing. Is this really what we want?

 

Think about it!

 

Priority Goal 9: Today I will turn around and run away when confronted with the strong lusts of the flesh. I will retreat to the Word of God, prayer, and other believers who will be able to help me flee.

Charles and Larry Discuss “The Great Extinction”

The Great extinction

L: I just read that the 6th great extinction might be underway as we speak!

C: What do you mean?

L: Well, they said that for example the African elephant population has been cut basically in half since the early part of the 1900’s.

C: Should we be worried?

L: They said a lot of it is caused by humans. I think we should work really hard to stop it.

C: What should we do?

L: I think we need to cut back on carbon emissions, stop clearing so many forests, cut back on the number of kids we have, and so on.

C: And you think that would stop this extinction from taking place?

L: I think it would help.

C: Let me ask you a question. What caused the first five extinctions to take place?

L: I don’t know. It just happens. That’s the way evolution works. The earth changes, species come and go.

C: So why should we worry about this one?

L: Because if our species disappears, we’re doomed!

C: Yea… and what would happen then?

L: I guess new species would develop and…

C: Life would go on. What’s to worry about?

L: But part of this is our fault and we have the responsibility to take steps to slow it down, so that future generations will be able to live the kind of life we live.

C: Future generations of humans or just future generations of something?

L: Future generations of humans.

C: You don’t believe in God, right? You believe in evolution through totally natural causes.

L: That’s right. There is no God planning or guiding or directing what is happening. It just happens because of the laws of science.

C: So evolution of the planet and of life just goes on without any supervision or oversight. There is no ‘ought’ to any of it. Atoms bounce around in certain ways and come together according to nature and over enough billions of years we have the earth as we know it today. Right?

L: That’s right.

C: So my first observation is that the way the earth is today, then, is not necessarily the ideal. It just happens to be the way it is today. Over the course of evolution, let’s say when the dinosaurs were here, they went wherever they wanted and ate what they wanted and there was no God and no people to say, “You shouldn’t go there or do that.”

L: Right

C: Eventually evolution got to human beings. Humans decide to build houses and so they cut down trees. All of a sudden that is a bad thing. Beavers are never accused of destroying trees. It’s just what happens.

L: But we have intelligence.

C: So we chop down trees. We clear land so we can grow crops and we have extended our life span. We’ve invented products to make our work easier. It’s what we do.

L: But we need to do those things carefully and with thought and care for the environment.

C: Who says so?

L: We sort of agree to do that.

C: Not everyone.

L: I know but some people waste things and pollute the environment and it hurts other people.

C: Who says that is bad. Some animals do things that hurt other animals or other species and we never accuse them of ruining the environment.

L: That’s because they can’t think.

C: Thinking about things is an ability we have, but as soon as you suggest that there is an ought, I get nervous because that makes me think that you think that there are rules out there somewhere that we are all obligated to obey.

L: Well there are.

C: Who says so?

L: We just know it. We know that we shouldn’t harm the environment so that other people suffer now or at a later time.

C: Apparently not everyone knows that because if they did, they wouldn’t be doing things that you don’t like.

L: They might not know it, that’s why we need to educate them.

C: But who says your way of thinking is right, just because you believe it or say it.

C: Here’s the thing: If evolution is true, humans are currently the product. The earth is the way it is now, but that is not the ideal. It just is the way it is. So if humans bring a species of plants from China to the U.S., that shouldn’t cause everyone to freak out. It’s just what happens in the course of evolution. Evolution created us and evolution gets to deal with the results of our behavior.

C: There are no “oughts.” Any oughts are preferences of one group seeking to subjugate another group. Right now it seems like those of your point of view are trying to create oughts that people like me are required to agree to and follow just because you have more numbers or power. But that doesn’t make your preferences right.

C: Humans inherently have the notion that what I have just described can’t be right. We believe that people really ought to live in a certain way even if we’re not always sure what that way is. I maintain that the moral sense we have and the conscience we have is evidence that we are not really alone in the universe. We haven’t really just evolved from organic soup by chemical laws. There really is a creator God out there who has the list of oughts and has the right to tell us what to do. We need to find the list.

C: The reality of a creator God is a better foundation for environmental care than evolution. If there is a God who made all this, then we have the responsibility of handling his creation with care and treating all of it with respect.

Battle Plan – Strategy 8 – Make No Provision for the Flesh

(The list of these strategies in chart form can be found here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK )

Strategy 8: I am not making any provision for the flesh. I do not make arrangements of time or place to permit sin to gain a foothold.

 One would think that this would be the easiest strategy to implement, but unfortunately it is one of the hardest because in all reality we love our sin too much. So often we have a divided heart. We need to say with David, “Unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11).

Paul writes the following to the Christians at Rome, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:13–14, NKJV)

There are lusts which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11) and these should be avoided because of the destruction they cause within our very person. One of the steps in overcoming these lusts is to avoid making provision for them. When we speak of making provision for something we are talking about making arrangements so that all that is needed will be provided. When a man makes provision for his family so that they will be cared for if he should die, that means he has made financial arrangements for a regular income. He has annotated procedures for handling the paying of bills and maintenance issues around the house. He has labeled important folders and documents so that his family will know where things can be found without a lot of additional hassle.

When we make provision for the lusts of the flesh, we do the same thing. We make sure we know how to locate whatever it is that triggers our lusts. We know where to look in our mind. We know where to look on our computers. We know who to hang around with that will provide the stimulus we “need” to fulfill our lusts. Sometimes these arrangements are so subtle that we hardly realize that we are doing it.

The author of the book of Hebrews writes, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV)

Here we can see that the Word of God is able to help us discern between the thoughts and intents of the heart. Sometimes our heart can plan an innocuous trip to the shopping mall, but the deeper intent of our heart is to search out something — book, magazine, car showroom, theatre – that will strengthen our fleshly lusts. Our conscious mind almost convinces us that the obvious purpose – shopping for our wife for Christmas – is the real reason, when in reality there is a more sinful, devious purpose that we almost don’t see ourselves. Regular reading and meditation on the Word of God will make us more sensitive to those real motives and will encourage the repentance and victory that we desperately need.

As a teenager I was encouraged to write the following sentence in the front of my Bible: This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.  Haven’t you found this to be true in your own experience? When we avoid the Bible, our sensitivity and discernment go down. The Scriptures are able to help us discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. The more know the Word of God, the more aware we are when our own motives are not really what they seem.

 

Priority Goal 8: Today I will make no arrangements for the flesh. I will make it as difficult as possible for the flesh to find and use its lusts against me.

A Song for This Sunday Morning

1. His be the Victor’s Name
Who fought the fight alone;
Triumphant saints no honor claim;
Their conquest was His own.

2. By weakness and defeat
He won the glorious crown;
Trod all His foes beneath His feet
By being trodden down.

What though the vile accuser roar
Of sins that I have done;
I know them well, and thousands more;
My God, He knoweth none

3. He hell in hell laid low;
Made sin, He sin o’erthrew;
Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
And death, by dying, slew.

4. Bless, bless the Conqueror slain,
Slain by divine decree!
Who lived, who died, who lives again,
For thee, my soul, for thee.

My sin is cast into the sea
Of God’s forgotten memory
No more to haunt accusingly
For Christ has lived and died for me

Words: Samuel Gandy, 1838 (verses & chorus), alt.; Zac Hicks, 2013 (bridge)
Music: Zac Hicks, 2013
©2013 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP)

The Crucial Importance of the Church

The Crucial Importance of the Church

The Church, the body of Christ, is the fullness of God.

….the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him [God] who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22–23, NKJV)

God the Holy Spirit baptizes (places) us into the body.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13, NKJV)

He places us in the body as it pleases Him.

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” (1 Corinthians 12:18, NKJV)

We then are one spirit with Christ. He is the head. We are the body and share His spirit.

“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17, NKJV)

We also have the mind of Christ.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16, NKJV)

We also are members of His flesh and bones. Our hands, toes and eyes are His flesh and bones.

For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” (Ephesians 5:30, NKJV)

We are therefore members of one another since we are part of the same body and share the same spirit.

so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:5, NKJV)

The Holy Spirit gives a manifestation (external evidence, gift, spiritual ability) to each Christian to be used for the profit of the other parts of the body for the overall health and growth of the body.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NKJV)

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11, NKJV)

 

A body is healthy only when all its parts are there and functioning according to their design. When a part of our body is not functioning or is functioning weakly, our body is not healthy and not growing as it should. The same is true of the body of Christ. Every part has a function. Every part is connected to every other part and must be aware of the impact it would have on the other parts of the body if it does not function as it should. There are no individual parts of the body just floating out in space. All parts are interconnected and have the same life and spirit flowing through them.

from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16, NKJV)

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor… But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
(1 Corinthians 12:20–27, NKJV)

Spiritual Gifts Listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12

Word of wisdom                                                                          Mercy

Word of knowledge                                                                     Leading

Faith                                                                                                Giving

Healings*                                                                                       Exhortation

Miracles*                                                                                       Teaching

Prophecy1                                                                                       Serving

Discerning spirits                                                                          Administration

Tongues*                                                                                       Helps

Interpretation of tongues*

Many of these characteristics, such as faith and giving, should be present generally among God’s people. But some are especially gifted by the Spirit in these areas.

There may be additional gifts not listed here, but many of these gifts cover a lot of areas. Gifts such as serving, faith, or helps have a broad range of applications.

God gives some men gifts to be used to equip others to do the ministry.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men…. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:7–13, NKJV)

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers….
(1 Corinthians 12:28, NKJV)

The main point to remember is that you as a Christian have been given one or more of these gifts. God has given the gift to be used in and with the local body of Christ. There should be a consciousness and awareness of the rest of the body and how your gifts are serving for the edification of others so that the body is made stronger and healthier “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13). This is to be intentional. It does not just happen. Paul warned the Corinthian Christians about this when instructing them about communion. It wasn’t general secret sins that Paul warned them about resulting in “some are weak and sickly among you and many sleep,” it was not discerning the Lord’s body. The body of Christ, the fullness of God,  with its many members was right there among them and they didn’t see it. They were just interested in themselves and making sure their personal needs were met.

For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Corinthians 11:29, NKJV)

Questions each Christian must ask himself:

  1. What is the gift or gifts the Holy Spirit has given me?
  2. How am I using my gift in the church to serve the Body?
  3. Am I a healthy member of the body functioning and interconnected with others?
  4. How is my gift strengthening the body, building up others in the body and helping the body to grow and mature?

*We believe these were special gifts given to the church to authenticate the apostles’ message and are no longer widely active today. This does not mean that God cannot or does not use these gifts in some special circumstances today.

1By prophecy we mean the Spirit enabled proclamation of the truth of Scripture, not the foretelling the future.

 

Battle Plan – Strategy 7 – The Reason for God’s Wrath

(The list of these strategies in chart form can be found here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK )

Strategy 7: I realize that participating in and supporting immoral, sexual activities is making me a part of the reason God’s wrath is coming on the world.

 In Ephesians 5:3 we read the following:

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;” (Ephesians 5:3, NKJV)

Paul continues listing sins and then concludes with this:

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (Ephesians 5:5–7, NKJV)

Paul gives another such list in 1 Corinthians:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10, NKJV)

So God is saying that people who live in the life styles listed here will not inherit the kingdom of Christ and God. Now before you get too self-righteous, be sure to notice that he doesn’t include just the sexually immoral. He also includes those who are characterized by covetousness, idolatry, drunkenness, and thievery and swindlers among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Then he goes on (in Ephesians 5)  to tell us why we shouldn’t involve ourselves with these sorts of behaviors. The reason is because these sins are the reason why God’s wrath will come upon the earth. How can we justifiably participate in activities that are the cause of God’s judgment? It doesn’t make any sense for children of God to live in this way.

When we come to Christ there is a basic change in our nature. In this same passage in verse 8, Paul writes:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8, NKJV)

There is a change. We’ve gone from darkness to light. It makes no sense to have fellowship or common bond with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph 5:11).

Priority Goal 7: Today, every time I am tempted to look at or participate in anything that God says is wrong, I will remind myself that it is because of these very things that God’s wrath is coming. Do I want to be a part of God’s reason for judging the world?

Charles and Larry Discuss Sexual Sin, Jesus’ Compassion and Hell

These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well.

Charles and Larry have met for breakfast and have been discussing a wide range of topics when Larry changes the subject…

L: I agree with the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. And I think Jesus would have agreed. He was one to show compassion and not condemn people, don’t you think?

L: Think about the woman who was arrested while committing adultery. Jesus rebuked people for judging saying, “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.”

C: When all of her accusers had left her, Jesus said, “I don’t condemn you either.”  This is just what you said. Somewhere else in the Bible Jesus said, “I have not come to condemn the world but to save it.” But Jesus said more than this to the woman. After he told her that he didn’t condemn her, he told her to go and don’t sin anymore.”

L: Yes, but he wasn’t condemning. And that’s the point. Christians today are so condemning. They’re no better than anyone else and yet they are often so condescending.

C: You’re right. Many of us are. But I think you’re missing an important point in what Jesus is saying. Jesus is not willing to let her go and continue in the life style she was engaged in. He called her adultery a sin. That’s different from the way modern people think. To most people today, adultery is not a sin. It’s a life style choice. But Jesus is telling her to stop. Jesus, the person who loves sinners the most does not want people to continue sinning because doing so will lead to eternal destruction.

L: First of all, I don’t believe adultery is a sin. I don’t really believe in sin as such unless you’re talking about abusing the most defenseless among us. That is sin. It is a sin to not pay people a fair wage and keep people in poverty. But whether someone has sex with someone he’s not married to is a personal matter and I certainly wouldn’t call it a sin. As long as both people are consenting and no one gets hurt, it can’t be a sin.

C: But Jesus thought so, didn’t he?

L: But Jesus lived at a different time. He was under different expectations from his culture.

C: Jesus went against the teachings of his Jewish culture all the time and he certainly went against the pagan culture of his time. And if Jesus was just acting out a part, and if he wasn’t giving actual true truth, then he must not have been God. Because I don’t think God would have played along with either the religious or the secular culture. God would tell it like it is.

L: Maybe so, but at least he had compassion on this woman and didn’t condemn her.

C: But I think you’re missing the point. He had compassion and so should we. But it is not compassion to let someone go without telling them that the path they are on is sinful. The path of sinning leads to eternal judgment in hell.

L: I don’t believe in hell and Jesus didn’t either.

C: Jesus said that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause is in danger of the judgment and whoever calls someone a fool is in danger of hell fire (Matt 5:22).

  1. I don’t believe Jesus said that. He was too loving to have said something like that.

C: It’s in the Bible.

D: But the Bible must not be right at that point. Jesus would not say that!

C: How should we know what Jesus actually said and what he didn’t? Just accept the parts we like and agree with? How are you going to know if any of it is true with that method?

D: No, but I just don’t believe Jesus would threaten someone with hell for calling someone a fool.

C: Jesus also said that if someone causes one of the young believers to stumble, it would be better for that man that a heavy stone be tied to him and be thrown into the sea rather than suffer what he was going to suffer. He went on to say that if your hand causes you to sin, it would be better to have it cut off than to go to hell where the fire is never quenched (Mark 9:42 and following).

C: So it doesn’t sound to me like your Jesus is compassionate in the same way you imagine. Jesus knows that sin is destructive. Sin will keep a person from God. God pleads with people saying, “Turn from your evil ways. Why will you die?” (Ezekiel 33:11).

C: That is true compassion. Someone who knows a course of action will lead a person to certain death and doesn’t do anything to warn them doesn’t love them very much.

Charles and Larry discuss Poverty

These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well.

(Check for further conversations like this on Fridays. Whenever I have a CL discussion, I’ll post it on Friday.)

C: Thanks for meeting me for coffee, Larry. It’s good to get out and have real conversation and discussion. So much of the debate and argument occurring today in politics and other corners of culture are so vitriolic and combative. One of the things I like about our conversations is that we can debate intensely, hold our ground and yet give each other space to think differently.

L: Agreed! You don’t find much of that kind of discussion going on anywhere anymore.

C: What have you been reading or thinking about lately?

L: Not really been reading much. I’ve been thinking a lot about poverty and its causes. Some people are at a real disadvantage in our economic system. The system seems to favor some people and penalize others.

C: What do you mean?

L: Well, some people grow up in homes where they don’t value education or where the parents are on drugs or something and the kids just grow up not wanting to learn or work hard or anything. They don’t develop a lot of skills and so they can’t find work and the cycle just repeats itself.

C: In all your thinking have you been able to come up with any solutions?

L: I don’t know, I just think we have to help people like that a little more

C: Are you?

L: Am I what?

C: Have you found some family like that that you’re helping?

L: No, not personally. I meant as a society our government should help people like that.

C: Where would the government get the money to do that?

L: I guess through taxes.

C: Do you think that would help the skill problem? I mean it might enable them to buy food and  clothes or keep the heat on, but I don’t think it would really get to the root of the problem.

L: There must be something that could be done to stop the cycle. Maybe there’s something our schools could do more. You were a teacher weren’t you. What are the schools doing to help?

C: I’ve thought a lot about this. I used to teach math and science to middle and high school kids. It was a poorer district. There were a lot of kids who received free lunch and so on. A higher percentage of those kids did not want to work in school and they really didn’t want to do their homework.

L: That’s because nobody at home modeled that for them. How would you expect them to do any homework when maybe their folks were high or maybe it was just a single mom at home who tried her best, but didn’t know how to make sure her kids had time to do their school work. Maybe she didn’t even realize how important it was.

C: So if one of those scenarios was the case, what should the school do about it?

L: Maybe keep the kids who needed help after school so that the teacher could work with them more.

C: You could do that, but then you’d have to hire more staff, but it could be done. What usually happened though is that the parents didn’t want to have to come to school to pick them up or perhaps they didn’t have a working car or something like that and so they relied on the school bus to take their children home.

L: They could do that, couldn’t they?

C: Sure. The buses sometimes took athletes home later. What I found though is that in most cases the kids really didn’t want to spend more time in school. They already didn’t like school. Their parents weren’t always willing to fight that battle against their kids. It worked for some kids certainly, but not for the majority. There was something about the climate in those homes that made it very difficult to overcome.

C: Realistically, it seems to me that what has to happen is for someone — now this is going to sound extreme, and it can never really happen – someone needs to basically move in to the home and assist the family to know how to set priorities, budget their time and money, educate them on the importance of learning a skill and teaching them that it takes persistence and daily effort and self-discipline to change into patterns that would be productive for them and their children.

L: Wow, that really is extreme!

C: Or you could have something like a working farm where the kids could go and learn how to get up early and do chores and live a disciplined and organized life with time for chores, school work and fun too of course. I’m not talking about a military camp or a slave farm. I’m talking about a place where kids could learn to be self-reliant and productive and realize the pleasure that comes from being successful at something. So many kids never have that opportunity.

L: But since your ideas are really extreme and are not really going to happen for the majority of kids coming from dysfunctional situations, isn’t the next best thing to provide the family with some assistance financially to get them out of poverty?

C: It doesn’t work. If you gave a family $50,000 a year and the family had no experience in budgeting, bargain hunting, saving for the future, prioritizing purchases, etc., that money would be basically wasted. Don’t you think?

L: Probably. But could we have required instructional classes that go along with it that they have to attend. Maybe somebody could go shopping with them to show them how to do it.

C: Where are you going to get that kind of staff?

C: And what happens when they don’t meet the requirements, miss meetings or whatever? Cut off their support? Then you’re right back where you started.

L: What does your Christian faith teach about all of this. Aren’t we supposed to have compassion on the poor?

C: Yes, of course. It’s too big a topic to go into in detail, but the Bible teaches a lot of things. Helping the poor is to be an individual or church matter, not a government function. Individual people and churches are to help the people in their communities, people that they have contact with and can follow-up with easier. The Bible teaches that one’s property belongs to the individual. If it is to be shared communally, it is done so voluntarily, not by voting to take more taxes from everybody in the community.

C: One of the things the Bible teaches is that poverty is often a result of individual decisions that arise from thinking or acting foolishly, without regard to wisdom. The Bible also teaches consequences. It says for example that someone who will not work should not eat. It’s not talking about people who are unable to work because of physical difficulties, but if someone is just sitting around all day and is unwilling to work, then they shouldn’t eat. I think we make it too easy for people to do that today. We give them support so that they don’t have to work but still get to eat. And besides that, most poor people in this country have television, a phone, a microwave, air conditioning, etc. That’s not what the word poor used to mean.

L: Now you’re starting to sound kind of mean and unsympathetic to their plight.

C: Not at all. We’ve removed the motivation to work.

L: But sometimes there isn’t a job for everyone.

C: I see help wanted signs all of the time in my county where there is still a lot of unemployment.

L: Maybe people don’t have the skill.

C: To work at Subway?! The thing is you have to follow a schedule, get to work on time, show up every day, and work. There are a lot of people who don’t want to do that.

L: I think most people want to be productive.

C: Then why don’t they take those jobs?

L: I don’t know.

C: Another thing that has happened is that because of all the lawsuits, people can’t really help out around their own government-assisted housing. What if people who lived in a low-rent situation had to help out by washing windows, keeping a garden, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, etc. But you can’t require them to do that or even allow them to volunteer to do some of that because what if they fall from a ladder while washing windows? Then you have a lawsuit on your hands. So then people who are on government assistance have nothing to do with their time. There is no productive work and so they sit around a lot. Sometimes people like this don’t realize what they’re missing and they get depressed because they don’t understand that what’s missing from their life is meaningful, productive activity.

C: We’ve completely lost God’s plan for work and the reward that comes from working hard and seeing the fruit of your labor. I don’t know how to get it back.

L: Wow! The time has flown by. Speaking of work, I had better get there. See you later, Charles.

C: See ya!

Battle Plan – Strategy 6 – Avoid the Second Look

(The list of these strategies in chart form can be found here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK )

Strategy 6: I’ve learned to control my eyes by avoiding the second look. I have made commitments not to look on or lust after evil.

Consider Job’s testimony: ““I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1, NKJV)

Also consider this commitment from David: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.” (Psalm 101:3, NKJV)

These are examples of two men who made the decision not to take that second look. Sometimes we cannot help what we see at first, but we can turn our eyes away from those things which incite us to lust for things which God has forbidden.

Lust is the kind of thing that is never satisfied. We think that we will be satisfied if we just take one more look, or one more bite or view one more scene. But lust is going to come back stronger and will demand more and more from us. It is a powerful force!

When Eve was tempted to eat the fruit which God had commanded her not to eat, she looked at it too long. Look what the Scripture says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6, NKJV)

In Daniel 1:8 we learn that Daniel had purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s food. This was a decision he had made ahead of time. We need to make that determination in our hearts and before God that we will respond in righteous ways when temptation is placed in front of us. Trying to make those decisions on the fly doesn’t work.

Priority Goal 6: Today I determine not to take that second look when confronted with any kind of temptation.

Battle Plan – Strategy 5 – Put on the Armor

(The list of these strategies in chart form can be found here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK )

Strategy 5: I have put on the whole armor of God so that I will be able to be standing when each skirmish is over.

Paul gives us this admonition in Ephesians 6: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10–11, NKJV)

We already discussed the fact that our strength and power comes from the Lord. As we work, He works (Philippians 2:12-13). Paul tells us here in Ephesians that we are to be strong in the power of His might. Obviously we are not strong in our own might. Our defeats day by day are enough evidence of that.

In order to stand against the schemes and tricks of the devil, we are to put on the whole armor of God as explained in this passage. There are pieces of armor for the head and for all the other parts of the body. They are mostly defensive, but He has given us the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, as our offensive weapon. We are to put it on. It won’t put itself on.

Why do we need this armor? Because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of wickedness. This is a dirty battle and the enemy is deceitful and cruel. Therefore we need all the protection we can get.

We need the belt of truth. Don’t believe the lies, even the lies you tell yourself. Know the truth and base your life on it.

We need the breastplate of righteousness. This cannot be our own righteousness because our righteousness is porous – full of holes. Paul writes in Philippians: “[that I might] be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;” (Philippians 3:9, NKJV)

We need God’s righteousness as our breastplate.

We are to have the gospel as our footwear. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves every single day. Christ died for our sins and paid the death penalty for us. He was raised the third day and is ascended into heaven where He makes intercession for us.

We are to have the shield of faith to quench those fiery darts. Faith is believing God, taking Him at His word. Faith involves acting on what He says. Faith which doesn’t act is not faith. As James tells us, such faith is dead.

We are to have the helmet of salvation. In other words, we are to be a regenerated person. A person who has been given a new heart, a new spirit and new inclinations toward God.

And we are to have the Word of God as our defensive and offensive weapon. Remember how Jesus responded to the temptations Satan brought him?  He said, “It is written.” We must now and use our Bibles effectively.

Priority Goal 5: Today I will make sure I have the armor on. I will think through the components of God’s armor and make sure I am securely protected by them. I will do this consciously and intentionally with my mind and heart focused on its importance for a successful battle. So that having done all, I will still be standing.