Fool’s Choice

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James 1:19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – My dad often said we have one mouth and two ears, meaning we should listen twice as much as we speak.  We listen because the other party might be right.  It happens.  But being “slow to speak” does not mean we do not speak at all.   The other party might be wrong.  It also happens.  And if the stakes are high (not trivial), it is crucial that we do speak up.  A true friend does not withhold the truth, even if it may hurt.  But how we speak the truth (in love, gentleness and respect) is just as crucial.

Silence Matters – Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

The Fool’s Choice – The mistake most of us make when dealing with things that matter is that we mistakenly believe the choice is between telling the truth and keeping a friend (not making an enemy), between candor and kindness.  But when it comes to risky, unpopular, controversial or emotional issues (where the stakes are high), skilled (brave?) people find a way to get all of the relevant information (from all parties) out into the open.  They dialogue (taking part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem).

Remaining silent, will rarely resolve any issue.  People skilled at dialogue do not remain silent, and they do their best to make it safe for everyone to share in the dialogue.  Even when the other’s views appear at odds with their own beliefs.  Those unskilled at dialogue, if they do not remain silent, will resort to outright attacks (sarcasm, caustic comments, verbal attacks) or subtle manipulation and passive-aggressive behavior (innuendo, playing the martyr, body language).

We begin with differing opinions, beliefs and history.  Whether we remain silent or we attack  the truth is rarely revealed and we are not being a true friend. (Notes from Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler. McGraw Hill, 2012.)

Study 6 – All Christians Believe In Evangelism?

Screenshot (187)Ephesians 2:1-5 – As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings (lusts, passions) of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive (quickened us) with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (NIV 1984)

Divine Initiative – 1st step of salvation brought to pass unilaterally and exclusively by the power of God.

Total Depravity – 1st of the five “Tulip” points of Calvinism (T – Total Depravity of Man; U – Unconditional Election; L – Limited Atonement; I – Irresistible Grace; P – Perseverance of the Saints). Does not mean utter depravity (man is as bad as he can be). Better term is radical (root, core of existence) corruption (sin affects the whole man – mind, body, will, soul, spirit). All of us walk or follow the ways of this world gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature.

But GodBut God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5, NLT).

The point is: But God, not but man, made us alive even though we were dead (not sick, not dying) because of our sins. Divine initiative – 1st step is accomplished by God not man.

Once made alive, man can choose, believe and repent because we are alive to God. Before we are made alive one cannot do any of this. Dead men don’t choose. Dead men cannot choose.

The question is: why do evangelism?

Pre-Destined – If some are chosen (pre-destined) from the creation of the world, and some are not, with or without anyone bearing witness, why do evangelism. Because Jesus commands it!

The question is: why command something that is not necessary?

God has not only sovereignly decreed the end (elected), but He has also sovereignly decreed the means (evangelism) of bringing man to salvation. He did not need us to accomplish His unconditional election, but He chose to include us as the means.

Evangelism – Both a duty and a privilege.

Notes from: Chosen by God, R.C. Sproul

Hold On Tight

Hebrews 4:14Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Wouldn’t it be nice if we held as tightly onto our faith as we do to some of the sinful habits that we don’t want to let go of?

My Advice – Hold onto your faith tightly. There will be blatant and subtle, direct and indirect, expected and unexpected attempts to make you let loose. Be on guard.

Daily Encouragement

Hebrews 3:13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is easy to deceive one. It is harder to deceive two or more. That is why it is so important to have a number of friends in the faith.

My Advice – Make friends with other believers. It’s not that you cannot have friends that are not believers, but they cannot give you the spiritual encouragement that is so essential to living a Godly life.

Because He Understands

Hebrews 2:18Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Jesus not only suffered by dying on the cross for our sins, He suffered by being subjected to the same temptations that we are – yet without sin.

My Advice – Don’t think that Jesus does not understand the temptations that you face. He does.

Driftwood

Hebrews 2:1We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is easier to drift away if we do not pay attention.

My Advice – Pay attention to your life in Christ and to developing your relationship in Him. Keep your spiritual focus so you do not drift away.

Show and Tell

Philemon 6I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Witnessing is more than just how we “show” our faith by how we live our lives. It is also about how we “share” our faith in words. People need evidence (show) and testimony (share) in order to reach a verdict about accepting Christ.

My Advice – Don’t be afraid to share your faith with others. Some will reject, some will ridicule, some will hate. But none of this is directed at you. And remember, some will accept Christ, and that is a great thing to be a part of.