The Day I Crashed the Server the Lesson of Herman Cain
Recap on Holy Bible (the band, not the book)
Becoming a Man of Honor A publication of On My Own Now Ministries, Inc.
GENUINE MOTIVATION Young Christian Man Jan 2012, Vol. 3 On My Own Now Ministries, Inc., Publisher Rob Beames, Editor Donna Lee Schillinger with Daniela Bermudez, Page Design Kimberly M. Schluterman Editorial Support Contributors Jeffrey Bridgman, Will Dole, Randy Kosloski , Thomas Mollohan, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Except where noted, content is copyright 2012 On My Own Now Ministries. Articles may be reprinted with credit to author, Genuine Motivation and www.OnMyOwnNow.com. On My Own Now Ministries, Inc. is a nonprofit organization with a 501 (c) (3) determination. Your donations aid in our mission to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults during their transition to living on their own. We welcome submissions of original or repurposed articles that are contributed without expectation of compensation. May God repay you. Visit us at www.OnMyOwnNow.com.
in this issue... Foremost
For Christian Men The Lessons of Herman Cain by
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
My Prayer by
Can You Relate
Becoming a Man of Honor by
Heard Holy Bible Yet? by
Confidence Redefined by
The Day I Crashed the Server by
.10 .12 .14 .16
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Walking Man: A Modern Missions Experience in Latin America By Narciso Zamora Winner of the 2008 Next Generation Indie Book Award, this odyssey of a Peruvian delinquent’s winding and treacherous path toward finding his calling in missions recounts a literal journey of 10,000 miles. 978-0-9791639-0-6 Softcover 208 pp. On sale $11 at OnMyOwnNow.com Abridged audiobook in MP3 format and CD .Kindle edition available. Also in Spanish: Caminante con Dios…en apuro mas no desesperados: El Trabajo Misionero en América Latina Por Narciso Zamora 978-0-9791639-1-3 Softcover 186 pp. On sale $1 1 at OnMyOwnNow.com
White Collar Skid Row by Melissa Ann Bell Melissa thought her faith was strong, but when she fell in love with and married a charming doctor, in rehab for alcoholism, she quickly became his enabler and their relationship challenged all she believed about herself and her faith. White Collar Skid Row is a wake-up call for any woman who thinks she might be impervious to falling for the wrong man. Paperback 302pp. On sale $11
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Foremost oremost F
For Christian Men
The Lessons of Herman Cain by
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
or Christians, the lessons of Herman Cain are too important to leave in the history books of the 2012 presidential campaign. Herman Cain “suspended” his campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination on Saturday, ending one of the most interesting political campaigns of recent years. Cain’s energy and ideas had catapulted him into the front ranks of Republican candidates, even though he had never previously run for any national political office. This unlikely candidate ran an unconventional campaign that collapsed under the weight of unusual developments. In a matter of minutes, it was over. “As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” he stated. “Because of the continued distractions, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because
we are not fighters. Not because I am not a fighter,” he said. The “suspension” of his campaign means the end of his quest for the nomination, and it came in the wake of serious allegations of sexual misconduct that Cain, in the end, could not escape. It began with a Chicago woman accusing him of making an unwanted sexual advance years ago when Cain was head of the National Restaurant Association. Next, a second woman made similar charges. Then, it was discovered that two other women had made similar accusations against Cain. At least two of the women received settlements from the National Restaurant Association in return for dropping their charges. It then became known that the two women received the equivalent of a year’s salary as part of the settlement. The final blow came when an Atlanta woman, Gin-
Feature ger White, accused Cain of recently ending a 13-year sexual affair. Though the candidate suffered from political mishaps and confusion on some key issues, the sexual charges are what, in the end, doomed his candidacy. While there are any number of worthy angles of serious reflection left in the wake of the Cain campaign, there are lessons here of particular importance to Christian men. 1. The Christian man must realize that credible accusations of sexual misconduct or immorality are fatal to credibility and ruinous to Christian witness.
private matter of no public concern. We know better. One hard lesson from the experience of Herman Cain is this: A Christian man accused of sexual immorality cannot make the argument that moral concerns “end outside of one’s bedroom door.” The Christian man cannot say, or allow to be said on his account, that matters of “legitimate inquiry” are limited to actions which carry legal sanction. The American people do not accept this evasion when it comes to their political leaders. Even when they have supported a candidate after such a revelation, they have not claimed that the immoral behav-
"The Christian man cannot say, or allow to be said on his account, that matters of "legitimate inquiry" are limited to actions which carry legal sanction." The Bible places an unmistakable premium on sexual purity and faithfulness. This expectation is revealed in laws, precepts, and commandments and it is demonstrated throughout Scripture in virtually every conceivable manner. The clear expectation is fidelity within marriage, and the Bible warns of both temporal and eternal consequences of sexual immorality. The Church does not consist of those who have never sinned, but of those who have come out of any number of sinful patterns into obedience to Christ. When a credible accusation of sexual immorality is made against a Christian man, nothing less than his faithfulness to Christ is called into question. Nothing is then more important than to refute the charge with honor and credibility, or to make a clean confession and accept the consequences. 2. The Christian man cannot dismiss any charge of sexual immorality as being a
ior was of merely private consequence or concern. Christians are held to a far higher standard than those who are merely political leaders. When the political leader identifies as a Christian, the importance of these issues is only amplified. 3. The Christian man must plan his life in order to assure moral accountability and protections. When the first charges of sexual misconduct were alleged, the first problem for Herman Cain was his inability to dismiss them immediately and demonstrate his innocence with credible argument. Instead, Cain fumbled the charges badly. In retrospect, he fumbled them at least in part because he could not dismiss them — and this was fatal to his campaign. Look closely at the charges. One woman charged that Cain had made a sexual advance after taking her out on a night of socializing and entertainment in
Washington, DC. Cain’s situation would have been radically different if he had been able to respond that he had always maintained a policy of never socializing alone with any woman other than his wife. If those close to Cain had been able to support his claim, the charge would have been very difficult to press. Cain made no such claim. There was no denial that he had been alone with the woman in this context. The other women who made accusations of sexual harassment were also able to do so without any credible refutation — especially when it was revealed that at least two of the women had received settlements from Cain’s employer. Does this prove that Cain was guilty of what the women charged? We will never know. What we do know is that he had engaged in behaviors that no Christian man should allow himself, opening his life to moral vulnerabilities that no man can responsibly accept. In some situations, an insurance company can decide to settle a potential lawsuit without the permission of the accused. This is extremely dangerous for a Christian man in the business world or in any leadership position. What the Christian man must not accept is that this would be the end of the matter. He must insist, at the very least, that the appropriate authority (such as a supervisor or corporate board of directors) be ready to state that there is no credible evidence of such misconduct. No responsible authority has made such a statement on Cain’s behalf. The Christian man must plan his life, including his business life and his professional career, in such a way that he does not allow himself to be in a situation in which he can be credibly accused of such misconduct. A Christian man does not socialize alone with a woman who is not his wife — period. Though this can sometimes add complication and cost, a Christian man should not travel or conduct business in a way that exposes himself to sexual temptation or opportunity. 4. The Christian man must depend upon his church, the congregation that is so essential to his Christian vitality and faithfulness, as a bulwark against sin.
Christianity is not to be lived in isolation. We are called together into congregations of fellow believers, living together in submission to Christ and growing together by the ministry of the Word. Christian men desperately need the strength and accountability that comes through faithful membership in a Gospel church. The congregation must provide moral protections as well as moral instruction. The men of the congregation, old and young together, must be a band of brothers ready to pray for one another, to encourage one another, to confront one another, to admonish one another, to protect one another, and to stand together in faithfulness to Christ. Do your Christian brothers know of your practices, patterns of life, and principles of conduct? Are they ready to defend you should an accusation come? Do you regularly seek the counsel of your brothers in deciding how to conduct your marriage, your business life, and your professional practices? If not, you are in trouble already.
"It is too late for Herman Cain to restart his presidential campaign ... But it is not too late for many Christian men to act in order to prevent the day when they are caught in their own moment of trial in the face of such accusations."
Feature 5. A Christian man knows that his wife is his best defense against sexual immorality and sexual vulnerability - and his most important witness to character. The campaign of Herman Cain started to disintegrate with the accusation of a 13-year sexual affair. Once again, Cain had no rational defense, other than to insist, as he did, that he had done absolutely nothing wrong. Why was that not credible? The press quickly learned, and Cain affirmed, that he had given the woman repeated sums of money and had exchanged frequent phone calls and text messages. Then came the most damaging admission: His wife knew nothing of the relationship. Then came an even more bizarre development: Cain waited days to discuss the accusations with his wife in person. As The New York Times reported, the accusation was made the Monday after Thanksgiving. Cain did not return to Atlanta until Friday night “to meet and consult with his wife for the first time since Ms. White came forward with her claim.” Seriously? Americans watched day by day as Cain told the public that, by the end of the week, he would consult with his wife. That would be the wife who did not know of her husband’s “friendship” with a woman he had over the years given both money and much attention. At his Atlanta appearance, Cain said: “I am at peace with my God. I am at peace with my wife, and she is at peace with me.” Mrs. Cain, who was at his side, said nothing. Did the liberal press try to pull Cain down? No doubt this is true, but Cain’s campaign was not destroyed by the accusations, but rather by his inability to counter and refute them. Is any man vulnerable to such accusations? At one level, yes. But that is a very superficial level. What separates such accusations at this point is the ability of the accused to mount a real defense and refute the charges. Herman Cain’s situation would have been radically different had he responded by denying the charges, documenting his moral protections, demonstrating the untruthfulness of the charges, allowing his wife to attest to those protections, and then challenging anyone with evidence to the contrary to come for-
ward and present such evidence in public. Perhaps he could not. In any event, he did not. There was just too much left on the table after any fair-minded person looked closely at the charges. Herman Cain would be in a very different position today if he had been able to say that he had never socialized alone with a woman other than his wife, and that he had never engaged in a relationship or friendship with any woman that was unknown to and unaccompanied by his wife. As became apparent, he could not make these statements. It is too late for Herman Cain to restart his presidential campaign and start again. But it is not too late for many Christian men to act in order to prevent the day when they are caught in their own moment of trial in the face of such accusations. For Christians, the lessons of Herman Cain are too important to leave in the history books of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world. He is always glad to hear from readers. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler. Reprinted with permission from AlbertMohler. com.
Press On by
morning prayer T
he other morning I woke up and decided to pray before I read my Bible. I usually attempt this to some extent, but I must be quite honest, and say that it is exceedingly difficult for me to do. I can read my Bible and generally maintain focus, but to actually pray and present my requests before God, as the Bible tells us to do repeatedly, is a very difficult task for me. So on this particular Saturday morning, I decided to write my prayer out. I’ve been in a bit of a funk as of late, and I don’t really know why. During this time I have wrestled with who I am, what my purpose is, and where I am going in life. While struggling through this thought process, I have also been studying the book of Philippians. The message of this letter is captured in the first chapter, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (verse
21). Just like most people, I don’t want my life to be wasted. I want my life to reflect Christ. So in light of those things, this is the prayer I wrote down. Maybe there is something in it that can be of help in your prayers for the coming year: Here are some passages I suggest reading as you have your morning prayer time—or whenever His Spirit moves you to pray. Psalm 42 Isaiah 43 1 Corinthians 15 Ephesians 1-2 Philippians 1:29, 2:5-11, 3:1, 7-11 1 Peter 2:24, 3:7
Father God, Thank You for who You are. I thank You for being so enormous and majestic that even the rocks will cry out if need be. I praise You and thank You for the fact that You made creation in such a way that it really does speak so plainly that it is not only a statement of Your existence, but also a declaration of Your glory! I thank You for manifesting Yourself to us through what are called common or general ways. What flimsy words for such marvelous truths are these? Lord, I pray that You would use me mightily in the proclamation of these truths. You have been so gracious in showing them to me. I cannot keep silent. Make Your voice loud through me. Use me effectively. Work in spite of me, as You so often have done in the past. Mold me. Shape me. Make me more useful for Your work and kingdom. Lord, I pray for my words both written and spoken. I also pray for my life. I pray that my words would be true to Your character and to Your word, even to the Living Word, Jesus Christ. Allow me to point others to Your clearest revelation to us, that is, Your Son. I pray that I would be unambiguous when I communicate your gospel. May I be so deeply rooted in, soaked in, steeped in, and saturated with Your Word that I may be authoritative. I pray my life would follow Your powerful Word, so that Your grace would continue to be poured out on me by means of sanctification. May it point out, call out and remove my sin. Point me towards You, graciously showing more and more of Your all-consuming beauty. Don’t allow me to desire and to chase trivial things like power, prestige, money, popularity or comfort. Keep ever before me the flightiness of this life and the endurance of You. Be the One who consumes me. Allow me ever to see the joy of exalting and glorifying You, my Savior, Lord and King. I pray this most especially when suffering comes. I thank You that Christ has endured and removed my condemnation and that any trial or suffering that I encounter is not punitive—I know You aren’t getting back at me. You are sanctifying me and conforming me to the image of Your Son. What a gift this is! Allow me to find my joy in You and not my circumstance. Keep me humbled under Your righteous right hand that in due time I may be lifted up. Allow me to see the suffering in my life as a sculptor’s chisel, a refiner’s fire or as a sanctifying agent. Soften my heart to be the proverbial clay in the potter’s hand. Make my life a megaphone to this world proclaiming Your sufficiency. I pray You would make me a husband who loves his wife as Christ loves His church. I pray I would indeed give myself up for her, as well. Allow me to dwell with her in an understanding way and teach me to better cherish this wonderful co-heir in the grace of eternal life with whom You have allowed me to walk through this life. Teach me to be a humble servant laying aside my selfish desires. Teach me to be a strong leader fearlessly following You and shepherding my wife appropriately. I pray you would allow me to provide for her well and to take care of her. You, Lord, are my only hope. Without You I am nothing. Keep this ever before my eyes. Keep me desperate for You. Don’t let me be satisfied with how I’m doing. Don’t allow me to be content with the quality of my walk. Don’t let me feel as if I have arrived. I pray that I would press on toward the goal and that I would be faithful to You. God, I am needy. This You obviously know since You killed Your Son to pay for my need and You have sent Your Spirit to make me, a dead man, alive. Thank You, In the name which is above every name, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Can You Relate
ne word we think too little of and one which is certainly not observed enough is the word “honor.” When we hear the word its meaning is often muddled in our minds. At best, it makes its rare appearances in verb form in the same sentences as the words “promise” or “agreement.” We also hear it in wedding vows as the bride and groom pledge to honor each other. Practical application of these vows deserves a
place of supremacy in the values and priorities of each and every marriage. Still, I suspect that until we obtain a better sense of what honor is and its priceless worth, the point of honoring one another will be lost on most couples, children, in regard to their parents, and Christians, in general. God’s Word delineates correct priorities clearly in the commands to love God above all other things and love others at least as much as we love ourselves. Intricately wound up in this love is the fact that honoring another is a means by which we demonstrate love. We are therefore admonished to honor God above all things. In other words, we are to revere and esteem Him more than anything else (1 Corinthians 6:20, Numbers 25:13). Then, as beings who carry His image and recognize that others have also been created in His image, we honor others, too. More to the point, as Christians, we are to “honor others above ourselves,” (Romans 12:10). A specific way children honor God is by obeying their parents (Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, Ephesians 6:2). We also honor God when we respect those institutions that He has created for His divine and holy purposes. Marriage, the joining of a man and woman in a holy covenantal relationship, is specifically to be held high (Hebrews 13:18), for it recognizes what Jesus has done by giving of His life for His church and joining His Spirit with the church. Marriage is to be highly esteemed because it is the primary vehicle for aligning our culture with God’s plans (Malachi 2:14-15). Aided and strengthened by God’s church, it perpetuates godliness in our darkened world, inasmuch as the husband and wife place their home under the loving control of God. But what does it mean to have honor or to defend one’s honor, and what does it mean today to be a man of honor? I have known soldiers who have had a better idea than most of what honor is, but I haven’t had the same experience in discussion with those outside of the military. I am grieved to find that talking about honor with most people is like talking in another language. Honor, as a noun, means simply an esteemed reputation or a reverenced name. To have honor simply means that we live up to the name that we now carry as Christians. If a Christian lies, then he
dishonors the name of Jesus. If a Christian cheats, or steals, or is unfaithful, then he is not living up to the name that he has been given, the very name of Christ. A look today across the landscape of broken promises, selfish acts and cowardly decisions will expose the fact that there are few, indeed, who truly have a sense of honor. Honor means little, because we generally do not understand its worth, nor do we care to ascertain it. Think for a moment about the price that Christ paid for you! Jesus, the ultimate Man of Honor, courageously forsook selfish motives and endured a life of hardship, so that He could revere His Father’s holiness. He boldly spoke the truth to all, even when He was hated for it, so that He could establish His Father’s Word. He bravely cared for those that others deemed unworthy of attention and affection and then willingly died the death we deserved, so that He could uphold His Father’s love. Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27). Honor is at the heart of Who Jesus is and always seeks to glorify that which is deserving of it. Ultimately, nothing is more deserving of veneration than the name of God. This is why we need to seek to restore honor to our homes, to our businesses and to our reputations. Whether or not we ultimately achieve a name of honor depends on keeping our promises, dealing with others justly, and demonstrating lives of compassion. The manner in which we are known becomes the platform from which we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and becomes the means by which the name of God is glorified. Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 16 years and is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables. He is the pastor of Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at email@example.com.
The Recap ©2010
Holy Bible Yet? by
which stands for Holy Bible, is a Christian band from Finland—don’t worry, they have English lyrics. The band formed in 2002 and has since been consistently creating new and original music. “Frozen Inside,” released in 2008, is the English version of their second full-length album called “Enne.” They usually produce both English and Finnish versions of their albums because they have such a wide audience. That’s cool, but the question is: What do they sound like? Actually they don’t sound very Finnish—whatever Finnish sounds like. Their vocals are perfectly intelligible and aren’t hindered by an accent that makes it
hard to understand. Except for the occasional odd wording, an average American might go away thinking the singer was British. Musically, they’re like a female-fronted band, like Red or Skillet, but with a more bombastic, orchestral feel. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is another similarly sounding band. HB can also be compared to secular gothic metal acts like Nightwish, Within Temptation, or Lacuna Coil. All of these consist of basically the same mix: female singer, symphonic string passages, choirs and heavy guitars. However, HB offers positive, Christ-centered lyrics, as well. For example, one of their most popular songs, “God Has All Glory,” opens with stringed instruments followed by choirs while
© Essi Tuomi HB is: Johanna, vocals; Antti, guitar, vocals; Bob, guitar; Sofia, guitar; Tuomas, bass; Markus: drums Below: © Taneli Heiskanen
guitar chords build the song into a bold wall of sound. This crescendo is then graced by beautiful, female vocals singing glorifying lyrics to God. Some of the songs could almost be praise songs sung in a church if put to different music. They usually have lyrics that proclaim God’s power and wisdom while proclaiming the importance of Jesus’s sacrifice for us. Lyrically, the album touches on various themes of faith. Some songs call out to the unsaved asking them to turn to Jesus as the only One who can complete their lives and save them. Other words beacon unbelievers to open their hearts to the One who loves them just as they are and reminds them of how He is waiting for them to turn to Him and be set free. Other songs by HB prompt the saved to live out their faith well and to be witnesses for Christ. “It Is Time” asks if we have become prisoners of our own comfortable lifestyles and encourages us not to forget the reason why God has put us here on Earth—to be His witnesses. The chorus of this song is a prayer to God to help
us be obedient to Him as He’s called us to do. HB includes other themes which deal with common trials in life, like the song “Years Go By,” which has a ballad feel containing a beautiful piano piece, or the title track “Frozen Inside,” where lyrics cry out to God like David did in some of his Psalms. Here’s the final assessment: HB infuses scripture and godly themes with great music, making for unique sound which demonstrates the artists’ passion for Christ. If you like hard-hitting rock played by skillful musicians, you should check out this band! Here’s a couple websites to get you started: www. hbmusic.net and www.myspace.com/hbmetal.
N N the
Don’t worry about believing in yourself. Love God and love your neighbour with all your soul, mind and strength, and He will direct your path.
The most uncomfortable spot in my world is
sitting on my own therapist couch. I remember when my wife and I were having our first parenting discussions. We debated what some of our primary parenting goals should be. One of our goals was to strive to give our kids confidence. Not a bad goal, and certainly preferred to trying to convince your children that they are not good at anything, however, I’m not sure it is as important of a concept as I once believed it to be.. “Self-efficacy” is the psychological term most synonymous with “confidence.” Albert Bandura is the psychologist most associated with this term, as he is credited with coining it. Bandura describes self-efficacy as a belief that one can succeed in a specific situation. The Bible tells us we can do nothing in our own strength and that through Him who gives us strength, we can do all things, (Philippians 4:13). On second thought it seems that my priority as a parent should have been to give my kids a relationship with God, and in doing so, redefine confidence for them. Melvin was a young, single guy who was a bit of a nerd and possessed the absolute lowest confidence which I had ever encountered in
anyone. Melvin had, no doubt, endured a lifetime of ridicule for his nerdiness. Ostracized by his parents and unsuccessful at meeting the expectations of friends and family, Melvin felt he had absolutely no ability to succeed at anything. The task of helping someone like Melvin find the confidence to succeed in life is the counselling equivalent to “Mission Impossible.” It would have taken years of work to reinterpret the many harsh interactions in a way that could have help Melvin understand the folly of others, including mistreatment from his parents. It requires a significant amount of time to relive all of the negative interactions between family members and peers in the light of their ignorance. Even with sufficient time, only God can turn it around. I knew only God could rebuild Melvin. As a therapist, on my own I could do nothing. Let us examine what nothing means in Biblical terms. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon repeatedly describes nothing as just about everything “under the sun.” I think that Solomon is trying to tell the whole world that pursuing money, material things, admiration and even respect are all worth nothing to us. It is possible for us to attain all of these things, but in the end it will be meaningless. It is not what God ultimately wants for us. In the same way, we need to examine what “all things” are, biblically speaking. Near the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon also says, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). As far as meaning goes, that’s it, I think. In addition, Jesus says in Matthew 22: 37-40 that all the Law hangs on two commandments: to love your neighbor as yourself, and above all, love the Lord your God with all you have. I think that to Love God and your neighbor is all the meaning there is. If we equate success with meaning and confidence with the ability to love God and to love our neighbor, we have a couple of beneficial definitions with which to work. In light of this, we can say to someone like Melvin, “Don’t worry about believing in yourself. Love God and love your neighbor with all you soul mind and strength
and He will direct your path.” That’s a tough sell for a counselor, I admit. But I also know, as a counselor, that it’s the only real solution out there. Unfortunately, I was not able to convince Melvin that confidence was just a human misinterpretation of our obvious need for God. The idea had not germinated into truth for me when I first met him. Even if I had possessed the concept, I would not have been able to talk him into it, since he didn’t hang around long enough to do so. I am sure it was, at least in part, because I indirectly communicated to him that I was overwhelmed by the challenge of helping him to overcome years of mental trashing. Looking back, I realize I was overwhelmed because I thought I was supposed to have the ability to help him in myself. I see now that on my own, I can do nothing. While nothing includes many things, none of those things has to do with helping, loving or connecting with others. Without God we can only be selfish. This is an ugly truth, actually. It is even worse to attempt to sell this concept of nothing to my son and to try to sell him on the illusion of confidence. What a wonderful Christian parent I am! Thankfully, my son is only five years old and already worlds smarter than I am. God has instilled in him an ability to see through a lot of bad advice and understand the circumstances underlying the principles in that poor council. Very often those principles get down to these: There is no meaning outside of love and there is no love outside of God. Everything else is selfishness; everything else is nothing.
That’s a tough sell for a counselor, I admit. 15
The Day I
the Server by
or the past seven years I’ve worked in an environment in which I had freedom to experiment with new software – clicking around to see what happens with no apprehension about anything bad happening. It’s great to not have to be absolutely certain before every little move. In the worst case scenarios nothing happened, cluing me in that I needed to tweak my formula or click on something else to get the result I targeted. For a tweaker like me, it’s the preferred method of learning. Recently I decided to take on a new work challenge, and although I knew I would be starting over regarding to some extent, I felt confident that I would figure things out in the same way that I always have: by testing to see what will happen. At first, things appeared to be as I expected. There was no pressure. I was free to try something and see if it worked. If it didn’t, I learned something. No worries! But that all changed one day as I was trying to tweak a file only for my own edification, and within the hour I learned that I had impacted hundreds of people across the company. My incorrect modification had crashed the server. Later, I learned that had I been in test mode I could have avoided this catastrophe. I got that set up the next day, but the damage was already done, not only to all those who weren’t able to use the application that crashed, but also to my own psyche. For a while I didn’t even want to learn anything new because I was afraid of what might happen if I messed up. It wasn’t long before the fear of losing my job began to outweigh the fear of another fatal error, forcing me to move forward. Yet, that one event really impacted my overall approach. I no longer had the confidence to test things out, or even to play around with something for instructional purposes. I now felt I had to be perfect in my preparation and in every detail beforehand. With every click I made or formula I constructed, I heard a voice in my head say, “Don’t crash the server!” Unfortunately, this is the culture in which many Christians live most of their lives, and not only does it crush the joy that God desires us to have in our union with Him, but it also destroys the effectiveness of our witness. When unbelievers observe us living in fear of failure and worried about punishment, they aren’t attracted to or convinced
of our message of freedom. Who needs more fear and worry? The freedom of the Gospel of Christ is the beauty we often miss. Jesus had to blind the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus before he got it, but he finally did: “‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Later, he repeats the same sentiment with another clarification, “‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive” (1 Corinthians 10:23). The first time Paul quotes this popular proverb, it is in response to a serious issue of sexual immorality. The second time he is addressing practices which were causing division among Christians of that time – eating meat offered to idols. In both cases, Paul does not refute the saying – arguing that all things are not permissible – but clarifies what that means to us. After all, he has written much to say that it is true; all things are permissible for Christians, because we have been entirely forgiven and freed by the death of Christ. In the first instance, Paul makes it clear that although nothing can keep us from the love of God, including sin, we do not want to be mastered by anything, especially sin. As we’ve discussed previously, there’s a give-take relation with sin in that it takes increasingly more from us and gives back increasingly less, much like a drug. So one reason we deny our sinful nature is to avoid returning to the bondage of sin from which Christ rescued us. We don’t fear the condemnation of sin. Christ took care of all of that once and for all. Neither our mistakes or our sins will crash the server bringing down our salvation, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39). When Paul repeats the message later in the same letter to the Corinthians, he makes clear that although we don’t have to worry about doing some-
thing wrong in regard to our relationship with Christ, we should be very aware of how our actions impact our brothers and sisters for whom Christ also died. Our love should be greater for them than for our own indulgences, causing us to err on the side of caution rather than turn someone away from God. We should share the same attitude Paul had later in the same letter, “For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:32). In this passage, as did Christ during His ministry, Paul directs us to the motivation of our hearts. We have been freed from slavery to sin, but we are still enslaved to doing right, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). The difference now is that we don’t obey because we must; we obey God because it is our desire to do so. Sure, we won’t obey perfectly—far from it. The more we respond in faithful obedience out of a sincere love for God, the more God’s Spirit increases our faith and our love for Him. That’s a little insight to how God’s Spirit works along with us in our sanctification. The trick is understanding the inverse proportional relationship which exists between the trust we put in our own efforts—good or bad—and the faith we place in the completed efforts of Jesus on our behalf. The degree to which we trust in our own efforts, is the degree to which we fail to trust in what Jesus accomplished for us. Perhaps that’s why Jesus often spoke to those He had just healed as He did to the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, “Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’” (Matthew 9:22). Once they’d given up hope in healing themselves and trusted in what Jesus could do for them they were healed by their faith in Christ and finally set free! He loves us—this we know. Now, we can go about proving to ourselves that we love God in return. We won’t prove anything to Him or to anyone else. He knows what’s in our heart and it He knew what was in it before He saved us: envy, hatred, anger, selfishness and all kinds of darkness. While we may still exhibit these sinful qualities at times, He has given us a new
heart which is able to do good things by His Spirit, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). As we allow Him to tell us this in His Word, and as we allow His Spirit to reassure us in this manner, our response is to love Him more. The stranglehold which fear has on us loosens as His love slowly warms the frozen tundra of potential rejection and failure, on which we shuffle through life. We will start to feel free from accusation, as a matter of fact, we are, and commit to trusting only in His constant love for us as we once did so long ago. Those voices we hear in the background telling us, “Don’t crash!” will eventually quiet into an indistinguishable murmur and we will live in the joy of our salvation. We will once again be able to test our gifts for His use without the fear that our world will crash down or that we’ll ruin someone else’s world with our imperfect efforts. We are free to test things out. We won’t bring down our divine server. In a sense God says, “Bring it on! I can handle it.” It may seem like an eternity, but it will happen, just don’t give up. Oh, go ahead and give up on yourself. You will let yourself down—no doubt. But, don’t ever give up in God’s deeply engrained love for you. It will not quit. It will not fail until you are home and safe in His presence!
The Christian Alternative to the Men's Magazine In this issue: Lessons for Herman Cain for the Christian Man; The Day I Crashed the Server;...