jasonbwatson

October 14, 2015

Choices (Part 2)

Christians need to have a predetermined mindset about what is and is not acceptable in their lives. They need to have decided-upon convictions that will enable them to make the right decisions. Some years ago the WWJD movement had folks wearing rubber bracelets with those letters, representing the question “What would Jesus do?” That’s a good question, and Christians should use that question as a filter in evaluating their own choices. However, Christians must already have the knowledge available to make the right decision when the time comes to make a decision. Effective, God-honoring decision making takes more than a conscience. The conscience is an important guide in decision making, but the conscience is really only a window or sky light–it serves only to let in light from our decided beliefs and convictions. In other words, conscience that is not informed by biblical principles will be a false guide.

What kinds of decisions am I talking about? Any decision, really. For the sake of the three principles I want to share now, though, think specifically about the influences you allow to enter into your mind through your eyes and ears–what you watch, what you listen to and who you hang out with. This includes movies, television shows, internet sites, video games, music and more. There are three tests that I believe will be helpful in making wise decisions.

First, there is the content test. Philippians 4:8 tells us what we should be thinking about. Ask yourself if the content you are filling your mind with is pleasing to the Lord. Is it helping you grow in your relationship with Him or is it hindering that relationship? I Thessalonians 5:22 tells us that we are avoid even the appearance of evil. I John 2:15-17 and James 4:4 tell is that loving the world means loving sin. Reflecting on these verses and using them as filters through which we evaluate our choices can help us to make God-honoring decisions.

Second, there is the control test. In I Corinthians 9:27 Paul writes that he disciplined his body in order to keep it under control. Some things may pass the content test but fail the control test. How? Because whatever controls us is sin. It becomes idolatry when we get fulfillment from anything other than God. Many people, quite frankly, worship themselves. Just a few chapters earlier, in I Corinthians 6, Paul writes that not everything that is permissible or acceptable is also beneficial. In the NIV translation of that verse Paul writes, “everything is permissible for me but I will not be mastered by anything.” We must be careful not to allow anything other than Holy Spirit to control our lives, thoughts ans actions.

Third, there is the clock test. Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to redeem the time. In other words, we are to use our time wisely–to be good stewards of it. If we spend so much time on unnecessary and unbeneficial things that it takes us away from God then we have failed the clock test. Even those things which are good become bad if they are getting in the way of what is best. Again using the NIV translation, Ephesians 5:15-16 says we are to “making the most of every opportunity.”

So, next time you need to make a decision or evaluate some options, put the matter through these three tests. If it passes the content test, the control test and the clock test, the odds are quite high that the decision is a safe one to make. If, however, there is a failure in any of those tests there should be cause for concern. The should be careful evaluation and consideration given to whether or not that choice which failed the test is really the right one to make. Is it, in other words, really what Jesus would do?

October 8, 2015

Choices

Filed under: Spiritual Growth — jbwatson @ 6:52 pm
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Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Circumspectly is a big word that does not get used much these days. It means “accurately, precisely, with great care.” And fool in the Bible does not refer to intellectual limitations but to an unbelief in God–or at least inattention to what God says–and the behavior that results. So what does this have to do with choices? This: to do something accurately and precisely requires thought and planning–it requires a strategy. And a strategy involves choices.

So what can we do? The Bible gives us instructions. Here are eight helpful ones:

1. Put off the old and put on the new – see Ephesians 4:22-24
2. Capture your thoughts – see 2 Corinthians 10:5
3. Cast off the works of darkness – see Romans 13:12
4. Lay apart all filthiness – see James 1:21-22
5. Deny ungodliness – see Titus 2:12
6. Flee youthful lusts – see 2 Timothy 2:22 and 1 Timothy 6:11
7. Abstain from the appearance of evil – see 1 Thessalonians 5:22
8. Study – see 2 Timothy 2:15

What do all of these have in common? They are all verbs. They all require action. In other words, they all come about as the result of choices we make. Each of the eight actions listed above requires action, and we must make the choice–either one way or the other. We can choose to do what the Bible says we should do or we can choose to do our own thing, do what’s popular, do what feels food, do what feeds our own lusts and desires.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 says that God has not called us to uncleanness but to holiness. In verse 4 of that same chapter it says that we should know how to possess our vessel (our body) in honor.

We know what the Lord’s will is. Or, if we do not know, we have access to knowing, because it is contained in the Scripture. However, God has given each of us a free will to choose–and the choice is up to us. Ultimately, no one else can make the choice for us. The victory over sin has already been won; we can experience victory when we yield to the Spirit’s working in our lives and make the choose to do what God wants and instructs us to do.

What choice will you make?

October 3, 2013

Poor CHOICES

This morning the Christian News Network reported on a Presbyterian church in Memphis, TN that has selected a local abortion provider as one of the recipients of the funds raised during their upcoming 5K race.

Shady Grove Presbyterian Church has decided that CHOICES, a Memphis “center for reproductive health” will be one of three non-profits to receive money from Shady Grove’s “Race for Grace.” What is CHOICES? Here is what it says under the “About” tab on its web site: “Choices provides comprehensive reproductive health care to women, men and teens. We offer adolescent reproductive health visits, adoption referrals, colposcopies, fertility assistance (including artificial inseminations), HIV testing and referrals, reproductive health services for people living with HIV/AIDS, birth control, Gardasil vaccinations, lesbian and gay sexual health visits, transgender healthcare, first trimester surgical and medication abortions, training of medical students and advanced nurse practitioners, miscarriage management, and comprehensive pregnancy options counseling.”

Pregnancy centers are very much needed, and many churches provide financial and volunteer support for such organizations in their communities. What makes this case unusual is that CHOICES states clearly and unapologetically that it provides abortions (not to mention other health services that many Christians would find objectionable).

On its website CHOICES includes “Race for Grace” under its “Get Involved” tab. Clicking on that link brings up this information: “CHOICES is honored to have been selected as one of three non-profits to benefit from the 2013 Race for Grace sponsored annually by Shady Grove Presbyterian Church in Memphis. Proceeds from any 5K registrations earmarked for CHOICES will benefit planning efforts to add prenatal care and midwife deliveries to our growing list of patient services. Specifically, Race for Grace funds will support the development of a Pre-Natal Services business plan. If you support CHOICES’ philosophy of comprehensive, integrated reproductive health care services, we hope you will register and participate in this year’s Race for Grace.”

Perhaps Shady Grove and its leadership have determined that prenatal care and midwifery are noble efforts and worthy of the church’s support. Perhaps so. However, there are surely other ways and other organizations the church could support such services without providing money to an organization that also provides abortions and supports other efforts that are unquestionably contrary to biblical teaching. After all, just above the “Race for Grace” on CHOICES’ “Get Involved” tab is another event called “CONDOMONIUM.” The logo for this event is a “C” shaped out of a condom. The CHOICES home page includes this announcement: “CHOICES is seeking designers to create fashions and accessories out of condoms for CONDOMONIUM.” The web site further states that this event is the “annual public awareness event and signature fundraiser for our small (but mighty) non-profit organization providing reproductive health care, education, and advocacy around reproductive rights & justice.” One of the stated purposes of the event is to share with the Memphis community that, “Our community will not be bullied into silence and shame around universal issues of sexuality and reproductive health.”

Is this really what Shady Grove Presbyterian Church wants to support? The logo for “Race for Grace” includes this statement: “Benefiting bright spots in Memphis.” So regardless of the fact that the funds given to CHOICES through “Race for Grace” are earmarked for prenatal and midwife services, the church is publicly announcing that it believes CHOICES to be one of Memphis’s “bright spots.” I find this incredibly troubling.

So, by the way, does John Brindley with the Abolitionist Society of Memphis. According to the Christian News Network report Brindley said that “Christians from the city have met with the ‘pastor’ on three separate occasions, but that he nonetheless decided to go forward with allowing funds to be sent to the CHOICES abortion facility.” As a result, Brindley and his organization are planning to take graphic reminders of the realities of abortion to the church this Sunday in the form of photos of aborted babies. Brindley further stated, “Just in case someone is thinking that it’s not a big deal since the money is earmarked for pre-natal care, consider that they are entering into a covenant relationship with an organization that believes it is alright to rip apart the unborn and throw them away like trash. What would you think of a church in Nazi, Germany that earmarked money to a local concentration camp restroom renovation project? They just want to be Jesus to the Jewish prisoners who should have clean bathroom facilities, right? It’s just that the people who are receiving the money are exterminating the Jews on the other side of the building.” A harsh comparison? I don’t think so. It’s in-your-face, no doubt; but the holocaust of abortion may require that kind of language at times to bring people to grips with the reality of what is going on, with the reality of how serious abortion really is. After all, since Roe v Wade was decided far more babies have been killed through legal abortions in the United States than were killed by Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Unfortunately, this situation in Memphis serves as but one example of many, many instances of churches supporting organizations, positions and outreaches that are clearly in violation of Scripture. This should be a reminder to us all that just because a building or a group of people carry the name “church” does not mean that God is honored there or that the truth of the Bible is believed, taught or practiced. What little the Shady Grove web site has to say about the church’s “Philosophy/Spirit” leads me to question whether I would hear biblical truth if I were to attend the church this Sunday morning (or any other Sunday). I am sure I would hear some biblical truth, but I suspect it would be greatly diluted by the feel-good messages and “refreshing blend of the ephemeral and simple” that would be more prominent. (That phrase, by the way, comes from the church’s web site).

Let us pray for Shady Grove Presbyterian Church and other churches that are failing to stay faithful to God’s Word and His mandate for the church. Let us pray for discernment as we walk through this world and seek out churches and fellow believers that we would lovingly confront error where we find it and we would find co-laborers in the Lord to be our companions on this journey. Let us also pray for CHOICES and organizations like it. Most importantly, let us pray for women who are facing life-altering choices of their own, particularly regarding their unborn children, that they would find wise counsel and be encouraged to make the right choice, the choice for life.

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