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Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Scarlet Crooked Letter: Sex and the Church

"The Devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape." - William Shakespeare

The topics of sex and sexual sin are an unturned stone in most of today's churches. They're not given their just due in terms of severity. Even among congregations that would consider themselves to be "with the times", "relevant", "contemporary", or whatever they may call themselves, this topic still carries with it a certain stigma. If it is mentioned, it's usually going to be thrown into a mix of other things, as so not to seem exclusive. After all, no pastor wants to be seen as a pervert, right?

A good example of this would be an incident that occurred at Houston Baptist University several years ago. There was a musician/evangelist that was invited to come and speak there because of his extensive work with youth and young adults. The guy was great. He was real. In one of his sessions on dealing sin he began to talk about sex. But he didn't do it in a passive manner. This guy knew his audience well enough to know that when you are dealing with young adults in a sex-crazed society, you have to dig in--and dig in he did. He explained the seriousness and how he had seen lives broken. Not only that, but he also went on to tell us about his own personal struggles; how some years back he had gotten off into pornography and other sexual indiscretion. The minister explained how God had indeed brought him out from under the bondage to these things, but that it had not been easy--one of the reasons that he always traveled with some one was for accountability purposes because being on the road presented him with temptations of which he wanted to safeguard himself against. "Wow", I thought. I had never heard anyone who professed to be a Christian handle sex in that manner (let alone a minister). I was encouraged after that day. I wasn't alone in the struggle. This was indeed good news. However, the administrators of the university had a different take on the issue. The student body was informed that he would not be returning because of the content of his discussions. In other words, he was too racy. Mind you, he never glorified any sexual escapades, nor did he give any gory details about anything of that nature. The only gory details that were discussed were the weight and effect these types of sins can have on your mind and heart. But more importantly than that, we got to hear from a man of God who presented himself for what he was (a sinner saved by the grace of God) and a cautionary tale of how the effects of certain sins can still linger; they are not willing to go quietly. Unfortunately, the message wasn't conservative enough. He also didn't exactly try to paint a rosy picture of himself. He presented himself as the broken vessel that he was and it cost him a speaking engagement.

Real Sex

However, sex is quite a topic in the bible. God seems to take sex very seriously--all kinds in fact. In both the Old and New Testaments we have a wealth of knowledge about human sexuality. We have historical records, as well as instructions on how we as humans should conduct ourselves accordingly. The most striking thing to me is that in the book of Proverbs, David revisits the subject of sexual indiscretion and purity many times over when giving advice and warnings to his son, Solomon. Even better still, in the Song of Songs (or in some bibles, Song of Solomon) paints a wonderful picture of two young people talking to one another in a very open manner about the anticipation of the consummation of their marriage. They even go as far as to describe each other's physical features!! This is a little too much for some church folks, so we've remedied that pesky little problem by allegorizing this book to the death. It's no longer about two young lovers, but about Christ's love for his bride--The Church. This may very well be the case (to a certain extent), but there is no way around the fact the allegory does not hold up throughout the entirety of the book. Things like this are at the crux of the problem. We avoid or reshape the issue so that we don't have to deal or look at it honestly. We begin to think that living in a world is so sexually charged, talking about sex in any manner will only add fuel to the fire. So, we just do away with it altogether. This leaves many Christian men and women to fend for themselves. Instead of opening our bibles and dealing with sexuality in a God-honoring fashion, we are left to formulate ideas based on secular cultural standards which have a tendency to run counter to what know (or should know) to be true. I can't tell you how many times I've heard Christians say that, "Oral/Anal Sex doesn't count", "It's okay if you're getting married", "It's okay to watch Porn if you're married", etc. They are left to justify themselves according to their own standards while trying to hang on to mere conservative morality by a pathetic thread.

Learning How to Blush (again)

While it is true that we live in a society that makes it extremely hard to remain sexually pure, the best way to combat this is to have right thinking on the issue as to be able to flesh out right living to the glory of God. We need to recover an appropriate sensitivity for this issue and handle it accordingly. For example, as a martial arts/self-defense practitioner and part-time instructor, I deal with violence. I throw punches and kicks as a way of exercise. I learn how to use knives and other weaponry. Most outsiders who witness some of the training sessions are shocked at the things that are taught. They can't comprehend why anyone should be learning these things or would want to learn them. They see it all as further glorification of violence in an already violent society. To them, I usually offer a simple reply:

"It's not about fighting, it's about surviving; if you don't know the difference going in, you're going to die."

The truth of the matter is most people do get into martial arts or self-defense training for the glory of the fight. They're not very humble and they take things lightly--eager to mix it up. However, as they learn how to defend themselves properly, they also begin to gain the right attitude. They begin to appreciate their new found wealth of knowledge and become much less eager. Why? Because they now understand that violence is more than just something on television--they don't revel in the fact that they can hurt, but often times when confronted they refuse to do so. It is something that should be used with the utmost care and caution because the consequences of there actions could be costly or even fatal.

And so it is with sex. One of the main reasons that sexual misconduct runs rampant in the christian community today is because we have forgotten our compass for navigating the waters. In a culture that bombards us with sexual images and words, we forget how to blush--we just don't let it effect us (or so we would like to think). Instead of teaching parishioners and church-goers how to properly combat sexual sin and temptation, we throw the baby out with the bathwater. We make it so uncomfortable that it cannot be discussed at all. We overemphasize Christian singleness (which is not a gift that everyone possesses) instead of teaching proper use of single life while you wait for the Lord to bless you with a husband/wife. People become afraid to bring it up, so in turn we privatize it and develop our own set of standards by which they judge what is good and pure; all the while the Bible is waiting there for us to use in all its honesty, carefulness, and purity. It is God's word that shows us the better way to deal with our sexuality. This is something that has been given to us as a gift from God to be used for his glory. To gain a better appreciation and care for this gift, we must look to the Gift-Giver. If we are to find our way through the darkness of sexual fruitlessness that the world has to offer we must let the scripture be our light and guide.

Soundgarden - Pretty Noose

I caught the moon today
Pick it up
And throw it away all right
I got the perfect steal
A cleaner love
With a dirty feel all right
Fallout and take the bait
Eat the fruit
And kiss the snake goodnight
Common ruse dirty face
Pretty noose is pretty hate

And I don't like What you got me hanging from

Let your motor race
Pick it up
And get this mother gone
Out from and far away
The wooden stake
This thing has got me on
Diamond rope silver chain
Pretty noose is a pretty pain

And I don't like What you got me hanging from

I don't care what you got
I don't care what you need
I don't want anything

And I don't like what You got me hanging from...

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion,and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death;her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. - Proverbs 5: 1-6 ESV

Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed,and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. - Proverbs 5:15-19 ESV

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. - Proverbs 31:10-13, vv. 17, 30 ESV

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. - Song of Solomon 2:7 ESV

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. - Matthew 5:27-30 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria,


Monday, January 15, 2007

Before There Was King: Lemuel Haynes--Black Puritan

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. - Galatians 3:27-29 ESV

{I guess this is my way of gettin' Black History Month started a couple of weeks early. But, Lemuel Haynes is definitely worth learning about. Not only is he a major player in the abolitionist movement in the U.S., but also has a significant place in the reformed faith as a person of color. Enjoy...}

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833) was an influential African American religious leader who argued against slavery.

Little is known of his early life. He was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, to a reportedly Caucasian mother of some status and a man named Haynes, who was said to be "of some form of African extraction". At the age of five months, Lemuel Haynes was given over to indentured servitude in Granville, Massachusetts. Although serving as an agricultural worker, part of the agreement required educating him. Through accompanying his masters to church, he became exposed to Calvinist thought and religiosity.
At about twenty years of age, he saw the
Aurora Borealis, and, fearing the approach of the Day of Judgment as a result, he soon accepted Christianity. Freed in 1774 when his indenture expired, Haynes joined The Minutemen of Granville. In 1775, he marched with them to Roxbury, Massachusetts following the news of the Boston Massacre. In 1776, he accompanied them in the garrisoning of the recently captured Fort Ticonderoga. He returned to his previous labors in Granville after the northern campaign of the American War of Independence.

In response to the events at the Battle of Lexington, Haynes began to write extensively criticizing the slave trade and slavery. He also began to prepare sermons for family prayers and write theologically about life. The Scripture, abolutionism, and republicanism impacted his published writings. Haynes argued that slavery denied black people their natural rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Paralleling the recent American experience with oppression to the slave experience, Haynes wrote: "Liberty is equally as precious to a black man, as it is to a white one, and bondage as equally as intolerable to the one as it is to the other".
By the
1780s, Haynes became a leading Calvinist minister in Vermont. His contemporary White republican and abolitionist thinkers saw slavery as a liability to the new country, but most argued for eventual slave expatriation to Africa. The American Colonization Society (founded in 1817) was one such group. Included among its supporters were people such as James Madison, James Monroe, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. In contrast, Haynes continued to passionately argue along Calvinist lines that God's providential plan would defeat slavery and lead to the harmonious integration of the races as equals.

After his death, white abolitionist thought would argue for the freedom of African Americans, but they tended to continue to see African Americans as inferiors. Echoes of Haynes' arguments for equality would again be heard only in the time of Martin Luther King.

John Saillant (2003, p. 3) writes, "[Lemuel Haynes'] faith and social views are better documented than those of any African American born before the luminaries of the mid-nineteenth century]".

for more on Haynes, click here.

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. - Colossians 3:10-12 ESV

"Here then I could conclude; but I must not forget the poor negroes; no, I must not. Jesus Christ had died for them, as well as for others." - George Whitefield

Soli Deo Gloria,


MLK: His Life's Work and the Sovereignty of God

"Non-violence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time; the need for man to overcome oppression and violence, without resorting to violence and oppression." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, we commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In recent years, there has risen much debate and controversy about the life of Dr. King--everything from his dissertations and speeches to his personal life (marital unfaithfulness, misappropriation of funds, political views, etc.). Whether any of these things are true or not, I cannot say. The evidence that has been presented can go in either direction. In other words, only time will tell. Whatever the case may be, it is important to remember that this man was raised up by God in a time when people needed him. As we celebrate this day in honor of King, let us not forget to thank God, first and foremost, for Dr. King and men like him. God uses both good and evil men to accomplish His purpose. May his will be done on earth as it is in heaven...

Martin Luther King, Jr. - A Brief History

Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. With him are strength and sound wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are his. He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. - Job 12:9-10, 16, 23 ESV

The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. - Proverbs 21:1 ESV

“We are immortal until our work on earth is done.” - George Whitefield

Happy MLK Day...

Soli Deo Gloria,


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else: The Truth and Fullness of the Word of God

"With the loss of truth we forfeit profundity; we are deprived of depth." - Seamus Heaney

"Truth lives in the cellar, error on the doorstep." - Austin O' Malley

The major issue that faces those of us who live in what is being called the "Postmodern Age" is the loss of objective truth. To put it another way, truth still exists - but only as it applies to the individual. Absoluteness is thrown out of the window. In short, truth is only relative if it's relevant. My own personal emotions and experience outweigh the importance of the information. The present-day Church has not gone unscathed by the spirit of the age. It's sad to say, but it seem that more often than not everywhere you turn, from Sunday Morning sermons to Christian Television, we are seeing and hearing more and more "gospel" presentations that are starting to sound more and more like tug-on-the-heart strings motivational speeches than strong proclamations of the true gospel as it is in Scripture.

What Ever Happened To Doctrine?

There are many ways that you can go in this discussion to look at particular failures that have brought us to this point, but the first and most devestating of them is an overall low view of Scripture (God's Word) itself. From this point the dominoes just keep falling. Since this is the basis for what we believe as Christians and foundation of our salvation and sanctification (Romans 10:17, John 17:17), it's only a natural progression to behold; a low-grade view of biblical authority leads to low-grade biblical acumen of preachers and teachers, which in turn leads to low-grade preaching, which leads to low-grade evangelism, which leads to low-grade "conversions"...etc. It becomes a vicious cycle of what Charles Spurgeon would call "Christianity on the downgrade". To have a low view of Scripture is to have a low view of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) himself. I was explaining this view to a friend of mine at work today. She too is a fellow Christian. However, when I pointed out the fact that scriptural error and faulty presumptions about God are considered sin, she bristled a bit. "I don't know about that", she said. "It's impossible to know everything or to get it all right...how can that be a sin?". That sounds like a good defense. And in most cases, I would say that it is. However, we must take into account what we are taught in scripture about scripture:

Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. - 1 Timothy 4:15-16 ESV

and again,

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. - 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV

As can be seen from these verses, there is an undeniably high calling for us to understand and comprehend scripture to the best of our abilities. The funny thing about my friend's response to my argument in support of this view is that she (most likely, unwittingly) pushed my argument beyond its rational conclusion; not at any point did I say one should know everything (even though it is plausible to say that everything written in scripture can be understood if given enough time, or else, why would it be there?). I merely stated that it was a sin to mishandle, twist, or omit any passage of scripture, whether knowingly or unknowingly (sins of ignorance are still sins- Luke 23:34, 1 Tim. 1:13). We have to be careful about how cavalier we can be in our attitude toward the scriptures. If the truth claims of the Bible are pushed aside and not taken seriously as we make a mad dash to try to be more "relevant" to the culture, what does that leave us with?

Attention Deficit and A New Kind of "Gospel"

The lack of a true teaching and preaching of the Gospel (as well as a proper understanding of the function of the law in the light of the gospel) leaves a vacuum. It is here where we turn the corner; sucking up every new trend that comes along. Some may be helpful (in an extremely limited capacity), but since these movements usually consist of more author than authority, once they've run their course and worn out their welcome it's on to the next big "thing". Whether it be Purpose-Driven Mania, Body Worship or Clown Sermons (yes, actual clowns doin' clown shtick) we are all too willing to jump on the bandwagon. Churches are paying through the nose to have the latest fad implemented into their worship services. We've gone from "Truth for all time" to "Truth...for a dime". And if someone would take half a second to crack a Bible, it wouldn't take long for us to realize that this type of consumerism is not held in high regard when it comes to authentic worship (John 2:14-16). With no real anchor, the Church searches for her identity, giving in to the culture around it, asking what it would take for them to receive us. This type of Gospel can promise nothing and makes you a slave to the world; bring 'em in with bells and whistles, then bells and whistles it is - for good. The second the luster goes, so do the people. Sacrificing truth for social acceptability is not what it appears to be; it is the ultimate lose-lose situation. The Church loses its "saltiness" and the world loses its "light". Instead of self-denial, we are about self-gratification. Meanwhile, once the flock leaves the zoo and has to make passage through the wilderness that this world presents us with, we are ravaged and eaten alive. We can't defend basic truths of the Christian faith when confronted with the weakest of accusations. When the Satan asks, "Hath God said?", we reply, "well, I don't know, did he?". We rarely ever get our Sword of the Spirit out of the sheath; even when we do, we wound ourselves by mishandling it.

Yet as I say all of this, there is still hope. God's truths are eternal. All we need to do as the Church is to repent of our sins of dereliction and apathy. If we, as the people of God, stand on the veracity of the Scriptures we will find a freedom and relevance that relates to everyone, everywhere. The Truth of God's Word does not return void. It accomplishes its purpose. Flesh and human reason are of no avail in the battle for absolute truth. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness...

Truth of the Bible - John MacArthur

Truth of the Bible - John MacArthur (pt. 2)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. - 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12 ESV

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. - 2 Peter 1:19-21 ESV

There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. - 2 Peter 3:16-18 ESV

"Truth is not finally a matter of philosophy but of Theology." - Os Guinness

"God and his truth cannot be changed; the gospel is not negotiable." - John Marshall

Soli Deo Gloria,


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Thus Says The LORD...But I Could Be Wrong": Hittin' and Missin' with Pat Robertson

when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. - Deuteronomy 18:22 ESV

Well, I guess there's no reason why we can't kick off this new year with a bang. It's time for Pat Robertson's Annual "Prophecy" Report:

Associated Press
Updated: 10:53 p.m. CT Jan 2, 2007

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson predicted Tuesday that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in “mass killing” late in 2007.

“I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear,” he said during his news-and-talk television show “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network. “The Lord didn’t say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.”

Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.

Robertson said God also told him that the U.S. only feigns friendship with Israel and that U.S. policies are pushing Israel toward “national suicide.”

Robertson suggested in January 2006 that God punished then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a stroke for ceding Israeli-controlled land to the Palestinians.

The broadcaster predicted in January 2004 that President Bush would easily win re-election. Bush won 51 percent of the vote that fall, beating Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. He also predicted Bush’s victory for a second term in 2005.

“I have a relatively good track record,” he said. “Sometimes I miss.”

In May, Robertson said God told him that storms and possibly a tsunami were to crash into America’s coastline in 2006. Even though the U.S. was not hit with a tsunami, Robertson on Tuesday cited last spring’s heavy rains and flooding in New England as partly fulfilling the prediction.

He states that he hears these things from God, yet at the same time he states that, "sometimes I miss". Anyone who is a reader of scripture will have a serious problem with this statement. Where in the text can you find an example any true prophet of God who "missed" on a prophecy? You won't find one because it's not there -- because they get there message directly from God. Robertson claims this as well, however, he can still only boast a "relatively good track record". Can you imagine the fear and confusion that would have been caused if Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah or John had said something this outrageous?! What if the book of Revelation ended with, "but you know, sometimes I miss"? Scripture warns about this time and time again, but it never ceases to amaze what a little media stroke and time in the spotlight can do to a guy. The bottom line is this; prophecy is not a 50-50 business. If you preface a statement with, "thus says the LORD", you better be 100% certain you know what you're speaking. To do otherwise is to take the Lord's name in vain; you are speaking where God has not spoken. Thanks to the grace of God, for Robertson's sake, or he would have been the one to be "taken out", according to the Laws God gave Moses (Deut. 18:20). I pray that Robertson moves away from this sort of foolishness, puts his ego aside and tame his tongue. By his example may all believers learn to rely on the Word of God in Jesus Christ through the witness of the Holy Spirit. Just because a person has a certain position or status in the Christian community, that doesn't make them a prophet. Jesus Christ is still, and always will be, the Final Word of God.

"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen--" - Deuteronomy 18:15 ESV

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." - Mark 9:2-4, 7 ESV

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. - Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria,

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Resolve for the Ages: The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

“New Year's Day - Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” - Mark Twain

“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.” - G.K. Chesterson

By the grace of God, we've managed to make through another year!

However, I must confess that I'm not one who's big on making resolutions for the new year. I tried it some years back, but I just never saw the purpose in resolving to do something simply because the calendar rolls over. I did it as a fad, I guess you could say. When I take an honest assessment of myself, if I realize there's something that I need to be working on, and I procrastinate long enough for it to become a resolution for the New Year, then I don't think that I'm all of a sudden going to find the strength and discipline to accomplish said goals. It's more than likely a set-up for failure and frustration. I know I'm not alone in this. For most of the population, NYR's end up falling by the way side. We always start strong and we fizzle out. The saddest part of this is that it's not as if the majority of these resolutions are made with any real sense of urgency. If they were, why the wait? I can say for myself, most of the things that I tried to resolve in the past were not of a mass importance in the grand scheme of my life. Most of what I vowed to change amounted to nothing more that mild annoyances; things that I knew I need to change or wanted to change, but if I didn't accomplish them no sweat off my back. I live to fight another day, right? I finally came to the conclusion that I was lying to myself and everyone else. I was falling into the trap of believing that by concentrating on particular areas of my life (weight, finances, relationships, work, etc.) that the universal aspects (spirituality, relationship with God) would suddenly get better as well. Once again I'm sure I'm not alone in this. This may seem like a good notion, but what it really equates to is a microscopic view of a telescopic realm; we blow up the little things while the big things become small and practically invisible. Some friends and I were talking last night about what need to change in our lives. The overwhelming conviction seemed to be that as Christians we needed to develop a sense of urgency-- to become deliberate in our resolve to pursue righteousness through the grace of faith that God has given us. A challenge indeed, but one worth engaging-- a resolution for the ages. No more waiting around; We want resolution! When do we want it? Now!!

Out of One, Many--Seeing the Big Picture

Jonathan Edwards was a great example of what the Christian resolve should look like. He didn't wait for a new year-- he would write down his resolutions when he felt the need to do so. I have decided to use his works as my template; to make his resolutions my own for this year and every other year. Edwards' sole purpose was to live a life that would be to the glory and honor of God. It is out of this mindset that his resolutions came. With God's help may we all seek to be more like Christ through the testimony and witness of Edwards.

These are taken directly from The Resolution of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723):

*(Note: Resolutions 1 through 21 were written by in one sitting in New Haven in 1722.)

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

**Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is
perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.

44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25 and July 13, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14' and July '3' 1723.

64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear', of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.
Aug. 17, 1723

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:33 ESV

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. - 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

"The great end of God's works, which is so variously expressed in scripture, is indeed but ONE, and this one end is most properly and comprehensively called, THE GLORY OF GOD" - Jonathan Edwards

Welcome to 2007...

Soli Deo Gloria,


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