Genuine Motivation: Young Christian Man

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Where’s Your Assurance?

Outbid on eBay? Alternative Online Auctions A Day’s Wages for a Cappuccino I LOVE AMERICA! (Maybe a Little Too Much) A publication of On My Own Now Ministries, Inc.


GENUINE MOTIVATION Young Christian Man Mar 2012, Vol. 3 On My Own Now Ministries, Inc., Publisher

in this issue... Foremost

Where Can I Find Assurance? by

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Tullian Tchividjian

Rob Beames, Editor Donna Lee Schillinger with Daniela Bermudez, Page Design

Press On

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A Jerk for Jesus? Will Dole

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Kimberly M. Schluterman Editorial Support

Can You Relate

Contributors Julie Ann, Jeffrey Bridgman, Will Dole, Randy Kosloski , Thomas Mollohan, Tullian Tchividjian, Brandon Woodard

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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.

Fathomless Compassion Thomas Mollohan

An Election Year I Love America (Maybe a Little Too Much) by

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Finance

A Day’s Wages for a Cappuccino? Jeffrey Bridgman

Cornered

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A Bold-faced Lie by

Grace

Rob Beames

Tool Box

Outbid on eBay? Alternative Online Auctions by

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Brandon Woodard

Faith by

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Julie Ann

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Foremost

Foremost

Where Can I Find Assurance? by

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Tullian Tchividjian

ot long ago, I pointed out that confidence in my transformation is not the source of my assurance. Rather, the source of my assurance comes from faith in Christ’s substitution. Assurance never comes from looking at ourselves. It only comes as a consequence of looking to Christ. As a result, I had a few people raise this question: “But wait a minute…once God saves us and the Spirit begins his renewing work in our lives, shouldn’t that work of inward renewal become a source of our assurance? Isn’t that at least one way we can know we’re right before God?” At this point we need to be very clear regarding what we’re talking about specifically when we talk about the ground of our assurance. To be sure, the sanctifying work of the Spirit in the life of the Christian bears fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). God grows us in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Christ, we have died to sin and been raised to newness of life (Romans 6:4). And this new life shows itself in new affections, new appetites, new habits. We begin to love the things God loves and

hate the things God hates. We begin to grow into our new, resurrected skin. But when the Bible specifically speaks about the grounding or the foundation of assurance, it’s addressing the question, “How then can man be in the right before God?” (Job 25:4). Assurance has to do, in other words, with the conscience’s confidence in ultimate acquittal before God. When we are talking about assurance we are talking about final judgment–what God’s ultimate verdict on us will be. Our assurance depends on how certain we are that God will say at the final judgment: “Not guilty!” The Bible is plain that God requires moral perfection. It tells us unambiguously that God is holy and therefore cannot tolerate any hint of unholiness. Defects, blemishes, or stains–to the smallest degree– are unacceptable and deserving of God’s wrath. And just in case I’m deluded enough to think that my Spirit-wrought moral improvement since I became a Christian is making the grade, Jesus (in the Sermon on the Mount) intensifies what God’s required perfection entails: “Not only external actions but

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Our transformation, our purity, our growth in godliness, our moral advances and spiritual successes -- Spirit-animated as it all may be -simply falls short of the sinlessness God demands. internal feelings and motives must be absolutely pure. Jesus condemns not only adultery but lust, not only murder but anger–promising the same judgment for both” (Gene Veith). In Matthew 5-7, Jesus wants us to see that regardless of how well we think we’re doing or how much better we’re becoming, when “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” becomes the requirement and not “look how much I’ve grown over the years”, we begin to realize that we don’t have a leg to lean on when it comes to answering the question, “How can I stand righteous before God”? Our transformation, our purity, our growth in godliness, our moral advances and spiritual successes–Spirit-animated as it all may be–simply falls short of the sinlessness God demands. And since a “not guilty verdict” depends on sinlessness, assurance is ultimately contingent on perfection, not progress. So, if God requires perfection and there is no definitive assurance without it (God isn’t grading on a curve, after all), then what hope do I have, imperfect as I am? The New Testament answer to this question is singular: For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:23-25) And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as

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righteousness. (Romans 4:5) The conscience is given assurance only as living faith is created by the Spirit through the Gospel announcement that God justifies the ungodly. The righteousness we need comes from God “through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22) The life we live, we live by faith in “the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). So faith is the only touchstone for assurance– the God-gifted miracle of believing the impossible reality that God forgives me and loves me because of what Christ accomplished on my behalf. Assurance happens when the God-given, Spiritwrought gift of faith enables me to believe that I am forever pardoned, that Christ’s righteousness is counted as my own, that in Christ God does not count my sins against me (2 Corinthians 5:19). We are justified (reckoned righteous) by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. God’s demand for moral perfection has been satisfied by Christ for us (Matthew 5:17). Therefore, assurance can never be found by my looking in. It can only happen by faith–believing in him who was “delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Martyn Lloyd-Jones is helpful here: We can put it this way: the man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone. He has ceased to say, “Ah yes, I used to commit terrible sins but I have done this


Feature and that.” He stops saying that. If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith. Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, “Yes I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin, yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ and God has put that to my account.” True assurance, in other words, is grounded not on some word or work from inside us, but on the word of the gospel which comes from outside us and convinces us of what Jesus has done. Our assurance is anchored in the love and grace of God expressed in the glorious exchange: our sin for his righteousness. John Calvin wrote, “Faith is ultimately a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Institutes, 1:551 [3.2.7]). And since our faith is always weak and wavering, we need to be reminded of this good news all the time as it is communicated through preaching and confirmed in the sacraments. There must be a clear, continuous, and unqualified pronouncement of the assurance of salvation on the basis of the fullness of the atonement of Christ. In the February 2003 issue of New Horizons, Peter Jensen writes: The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ says that the ground of our assurance is our justification. In Romans 5:1, Paul writes that “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Faith in Jesus Christ (which is itself a gift from God) has given us access “into this grace in which we now stand” (vs. 2). We do not stand in any experience which we have had, we do not stand in any progress which we have made, we do not stand in our success in the battle against sin. We stand in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he has justified us. What we have to keep remembering is that “before the throne of God above” we are (and in ourselves always will be) imperfect–so, no assurance by looking at ourselves. But, “before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea”–and that strong plea is not my imperfect transformation by grace, it is not my love for God and neighbor, it’s not how much I’ve grown over the years. That strong

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and perfect plea is Jesus Christ–sola! So, “when Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within”, if I look in I’m in big trouble. But, if “upward I look and see him there, who made an end of all my sin”, then by the miracle of faith, I can say to the accuser who roars of sins that I have done, “I know them all and thousands more, Jehovah knoweth none.” It is for this reason (and in this context) that I told the story of the old pastor who, on his deathbed, said to his wife that he was certain he was going to heaven because he couldn’t remember one truly good work he had ever done. His assurance was grounded by faith where only true assurance can ever be grounded: Christ’s perfect work for us, not our imperfect work for him. Similarly, the great Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck was asked on his deathbed if he was afraid to die and he replied: I have my faith, and in this I have all. Rest assured: Before God, the righteousness of Christ is all we need; before God, the righteousness of Christ is all we have. William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A Florida native, Tullian is also the grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a contributing editor to Leadership Journal. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian has authored a number of books including Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway). He travels extensively, speaking at conferences throughout the U.S., and his sermons are broadcast daily on the radio program LIBERATE. As a respected pastor, author, and speaker, Tullian is singularly and passionately devoted to seeing people set free by the radical, amazing power of God’s grace. When he is not reading, studying, preaching, or writing, Tullian enjoys being with people and relaxing with his wife, Kim, and their three children— Gabe, Nate, and Genna. He loves the beach, loves to exercise, and when he has time, he loves to surf.

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Press On by

Will Dole

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’m a fairly bold person in that I like to do, say and write things that make people think. Occasionally, someone is offended by the bluntness—perhaps, I should say rudeness—but it’s the way I’ve always been and to some extent, it’s the way I still am. I’m prone to communicate an attitude which says, “I’m right. You’re wrong. Here are the facts. Deal with it!” Does that make me sound like a jerk, or what? When I was about 19 years old, God really started to get my attention and I started reading my Bible a lot. I honed in on a lot of verses about love, and sometimes I would stop to reflect and think, “Wow, Will, you’re a real jerk!” Fortunately, this realization helped me to tone down the boldness a bit—okay, a lot. Of course, I couldn’t get rid of all my jerky qualities—not totally. In fact, I can still be a jerk with the best of them when I forget who I am. Yet, over time, there has been a noticeable shift in my rudeness. That

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A Jerk for Jesus? sounds promising, right? There’s room for improvement. Recently, I have been reading through the book of Jeremiah. There is a noticeable pattern in Jeremiah’s life: He hears from God, communicates it to many people and then they react poorly. I don’t mean that they simply walk away and quit listening. I mean the people who heard his message beat him, cursed him, wanted to kill him and, at one point, tossed him into a cistern. If people reacted to me that way, I think even I would stop being a jerk. That didn’t stop Jeremiah! He kept preaching. How’s that for boldness? When we consider the time Amos called rich people the Cows of Bashaan for their trampling of the poor, or John the Baptist called out Herod for the King’s questionable sexual practices, or when Jesus repeatedly challenged the religious authorities of His


day, or the plethora of other examples in scripture—the aforementioned constitute only a tip of the iceberg— there seems to be something which could be called a holy or a sanctified boldness. This boldness is often seen by the world as arrogance—if you don’t believe it, try claiming Jesus is the only way to God and see what sort of things people say about you. In my attempt to run from pride, which is an admirable thing to do (see Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6), I often buy into the world’s lie about boldness—not consciously, mind you. I am very quick to say that avoiding or hiding the truth is the epitome of an unloving behavior, but in my attempt to avoid being arrogant I can become wishy-washy on eternal matters. Instead of challenging the wrong views which friends, family, coworkers and even strangers communicate to me and lovingly pointing them to Jesus and the Bible, I often cower from such discussions or slyly change the subject. I reason with myself that I don’t want to be a know-it-all or that I don’t want to burn any bridges with my arrogance. Yet, in these situations, I am simply avoiding the truth and in my pursuit of a politically-correct kindness, I am basically demonstrating that I don’t genuinely care or love them. Wow! Now that really makes me a jerk.

not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” Now, Paul is bold! Three chapters later he absolutely rips the church in Corinth for tolerating sexual immorality, but where does his boldness lie? Was it in his own wisdom, his own clever words, or his great capacity as an orator? No. His boldness rests in the power of the Spirit. For us to boldly and humbly proclaim “thus says the LORD” with a heart broken for those who need to hear it isn’t arrogance. It is love.

For us to boldly and humbly proclaim “thus says the LORD” with a heart broken for those who need to hear it isn’t arrogance. It is love.

So then, what is the proverbial middle ground? How do we find the appropriate balance? I believe it is found in the foundation of our confidence. Paul demonstrates this very clearly in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were

Arrogance is when I want to show off my knowledge or prove my superiority. When our concern is that people see the superiority of Jesus then we are in balance. We should want others to know Christ and Him crucified, so that they may see Christ and Him glorified (Philippians 2:6-11).

We’re right to abhor pride and to make every attempt to kill arrogance (Colossians 3:5), but this does not preclude boldness. Indeed, it ought to foster boldness. If my concerns over my image, my pride and my ego are non-existent then what will stop me from boldly telling others about Jesus? What would hinder me from warning a brother or sister about sin? There would be nothing. We ought to desire more than anything else to see others grow closer to Jesus and to see many more people come to know Him. This will never be accomplished by keeping our mouths shut. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” We should be bold and set an example for others in this context. If our boldness is truly immersed in love then we should not be ashamed of our actions—however bold they may appear.

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Can You Relate by

Thom Mollohan

Fathomless Compassion e would be a wise people if would allow the truth of God to not only permeate our racing thoughts but also to saturate our busy lives. Of particular value to us, not only personally but to our world as well, is God’s fathomless compassion for people. Consider how Jesus’ earthly ministry was characterized by His tender interventions in the lives of needy people. He was in fact demonstrating the heart of His Father in heaven as He taught, healed, forgave and encouraged people who were distraught, disowned, disturbed and despairing. Here in the pivotal turning point of all history was the fulcrum of creation itself in the Person of the Son of God… full of glorious holiness, infinite in wisdom and power, yet weeping and lamenting the spiritual needs of men and women on planet earth.

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His disciples were witnesses to His compassion and mercy which changed the desperate straits of people regardless of their gender, age or rank, and they became conveyors of that same compassion as they considered in later years that their own lives were worth giving up for the salvation of people destined for spiritual destruction. Is it possible that many Christians today have forgotten Jesus’ mission? It was not merely one for social reformation—although such reformation can be the happy byproduct of a people whose hearts are transformed. It was not only a mission of political reorganization—although politics had become an unhappy circus of woeful duplicity and needed a major overhaul. Nor was His mission simply to bring about physical healing and to cast out evil spirits—although He, in His compassion, did these very things. His


mission was, “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). What motivated the mission of Jesus? He knew something very important about our future, and what He knew fueled His passion to reach out to the lost in compassion. He knew that lives without Him then, as they are now, were doomed to spiritual destruction, which was a far worse fate than even the most trying of physical, yet temporal, circumstances (see Mark 9:43-48). So Jesus strove passionately to reach the lost even to the point that He gave His life on the cross so that the spiritually lost could be found and the spiritually blind could be made to see. How much do we pursue these same goals? How often do we share in His sorrow? Do we take to heart the knowledge that hell is the final destination of many of our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family members? As Jesus approached Jerusalem in the week prior to His death, He grieved over the impending desolation of the city, their fate for refusing Him for Who He is. Jesus’ heart ached over the spiritual need of the men, women, boys and girls in that town because they were, “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus’ sorrow over the billions of spiritually lost people today has not diminished nor gone cold. His Spirit is even now moving throughout the world working to bring the lost home to faith in Christ. If we are earnestly seeking to personally grow in our relationship with God then we must engage this quality about Him: “He is patient… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). And as we engage this dear quality of Jesus by reflecting on it, digesting it and ultimately owning it, we should remember that knowing what the future holds for the lost moved Him

to compassionately reach out to them. We also have been given a glimpse of the future and must also allow this knowledge to make His passion become our passion. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24). If we have indeed crossed over from death to life, then we should not also allow the holy and tender compassion of our Savior to swell in our hearts and move us to share our hope with others? In addition to the things for which we pray that are only temporary, since they last only as long as this physical life, we should also add to our prayer list the forever needs of others and intercede on their behalf for the power of God to soften their hearts to the truth of His Gospel. Take up your post today as a pray-er—an interceder for the spiritual needs of others, and believe that God can tame the wildest lives, break through the hardest of hearts and speak to the most deaf of spiritual ears. Today, don’t hesitate to be a part of that invisible army of men and women who lift up those who are lost. 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 pastorthom@pathwaygallipolis.com.

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An Election Year

I Love America (Maybe a Little Too Much) by

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love America. I thank God almost every day that I was born here and get to enjoy all of the advantages of life in this country. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’m strong enough to be an ambassador of Christ’s kingdom in a place that’s made it so effortless to claim to be a Christian and so difficult to be distinguished as one. It’s undeniable that Scripture presents the church as an entity set apart from the world. The only way the church is going to remain separate is if the church is made up of individuals who live in the world without becoming absorbed by it. The idea of being in the world but not of it was a main theme of one of Christ’s last recorded prayers in John 17. It’s interesting that one of the things Jesus made time to pray about before He left His disciples was that they would be set apart by the truth found in the Word of God. A major part of spiritual growth is learning how to apply what Scripture says to our individual context. So what does it look like for us to be distinctly Christian in an American context? Is there a point where we become Americanized to the submission of our Christian identity? How far can we remove ourselves from culture and still be any good to it?

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Brandon Woodard

Over the years there have been many different answers to these questions. Some Christian traditions have taught that we should be totally separate from the world. They argue that we shouldn’t join the military, vote or say the Pledge of Allegiance. Others would say that America should be a Christian nation and that we should be heavily involved in all aspects of the government to help realize this goal. Personally, I think the answer lies somewhere in between—exactly where, I’m not sure. As is the case with many other issues, this issue creates more questions than can be answered. But sometimes questions are better than answers. Questions are more likely to result in selfexamination, as well as honest, open discussions—two things on which the church is frighteningly short. My goal here is not to convince anyone to do things my way, but to encourage the ongoing conversation about what it means to be God’s church in America. Here are a couple of questions which might help to determine if we are becoming too wrapped up in the things of this world. Whose kingdom are you working for? Everything we do furthers someone’s kingdom. The issue


is whether it’s God’s kingdom or not. All too often we strengthen, and bring glory to, competing kingdoms. We work for our country, class, family, and sometimes worst of all, self. The Bible describes us as ambassadors of Christ, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador represents the interests of one kingdom while living in another. Ambassadors are surrounded by a culture not their own. Yet in order to be of any use to the kingdom they are serving, they need to understand and to be able to function in the culture which surrounds them. But if they begin to identify too much with the foreign culture, they cease to be any good to the kingdom they are representing. Sometimes I think that Christ’s church in America has been pretty inefficient at this sort of kingdom work. We have the collective resources to change the world. Unfortunately, those immense resources are controlled by individuals who are more concerned about living in comfort and security than advancing the kingdom they have been born into through salvation. Are we more concerned with our own priorities, such as, family, community or nation, than we are with the priorities of God? Every Christian should regularly examine which kingdom their actions and lifestyles are advancing. Whose kingdom are we looking to for solutions? It’s not very hard to find problems when we look around the world today. America is no exception. As His church, we are called to be a part of reconciling the world to God. This means we are to be actively involved in making the world, including America and our neighborhoods, look more like it should. There are not too many Christians that would disagree with this. How we go about solving those problems indicates whether we are becoming too reliant and involved in the ways of the world. When we see these problems in society, do we look for God and His people to do something about it or do we look for the institutions of the world to solve those problems? Unfortunately, Christians all too often wait for the world to bring about the changes which God has called us to implement. Many times when we do get involved we want to work through man’s systems instead of God’s. We want laws to be created or enforced differently. We want the right person elected for the right office. We want the government to do a better job

of caring for orphans, widows, the homeless, the hungry and oppressed. When governments and corporations fail, we are quick to blame them for the sad state of the world. Should they do a better job? Yes, but God calls us to be concerned for people and issues. If our focus is on Christ and furthering His kingdom, we will have solutions which reflect Him. Instead of relying on the ways of the world, we need to rely on the ways of God. We often avoid doing so because it can be costly, uncomfortable and require a lot of faith and patience. It also requires being open to the direction of God with some creativity on our part. Always a good place to start is by looking at the example of Christ. Christ never founded any nonprofit organizations or created any new programs. He didn’t support any politicians or parties. Not that these things would not have been necessarily wrong, but His example shows they shouldn’t be our primary focus. He built relationships with people based on His love for them. He passionately gave of Himself and His resources out of His love and the world was forever changed as a result. These two questions go a long way in determining how our lives and actions are stacking up to the scriptural command to be in the world but not of it. We are never going to agree on where to draw that line in every situation, but it’s important to remember that we can disagree, as long as we realize that we need to draw a line somewhere. This is especially true in America because of the relative ease and comfort available to us here. It’s alright to love America and appreciate the advantages of life afforded here. But, it becomes dangerous when we begin to love the nation of our physical birth over the kingdom we were born into through the redemptive power of Christ’s blood. If this happens, it may hinder the way God uses us in the redemption of others. Brandon Woodard and his wife Jessica live in Odessa, Texas, with their two boys Jose and Elias. He attends University Park Baptist Church and supply preaches for churches in the area. This fall he begins a Master’s program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. Contact him at brandonwoodard77@hotmail. com.

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F aith by

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F inance

Jeffrey Bridgman

A Day’s Wage$ for a Cappuccino? I

was having a cappuccino with a friend at a café the other day when I started to get that uneasy feeling you get when you know you’ve done something wrong. It wasn’t because I was procrastinating and avoiding that paper I needed to write. No, it was because my cappuccino cost $2.95. Don’t think that’s very expensive? Think again. According to Wikipedia, (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Measuring_poverty) an estimated 2.7 billion people lived on less than $2 a day in

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2008. My drink cost more than what almost half the world makes in a whole day. We are the 1 percent who are rich. We might think that we’re somehow suffering for Christ when we spend a sleepless night on a bus or have to go a few days without warm showers while on a mission trip. But let’s face it, for most people in our world, that’s just everyday life. Americans don’t really experience suffering. Somehow we’ve ended up on a cushy assignment here on planet earth and have


Somehow we’ve ended up on a cushy assignment here on planet earth and have the audacity to thank God for our material blessings, as we buy ourselves the newest, shiny iPosh gadget. What’s up with that? the audacity to thank God for our material blessings, as we buy ourselves the newest, shiny iPosh gadget. What’s up with that? But at least we’re being grateful, right? Since we tithe, we’re good right? Isn’t that good enough? I’m not so sure it is. Scripture is full of hard passages that can stab straight into our hearts like, “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13), and “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31). According to scripture, we somehow lend to God by being kind to the poor, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17). We should be more willing to be like the poor widow in Mark 12:44 and give all we have, but often we are more like the rich young man in Luke 18:22-4, who was saddened that Jesus asked him to give up the riches and comforts of this world. We shouldn’t lose sight of the reason we are really here, especially since we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:4). I think scripture is clear. If we love God we will be those in heaven to whom Jesus will say, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-6). We should take advantage of the opportunities around us to show others

the mercy God has shown us. It’s easy to know we are to do these things but it’s more difficult to get it done. We can all use new ways to try to pull this mission off, so here are some practical ways we might put these things into action. Try sponsoring a child through WorldVision (www.worldvision.org) or Compassion (www. compassion.com). Both organizations have similar goals of helping children in poverty, providing aid during crisis and community level improvements. Another way you can aid your brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution while learning more about how you can pray for them is by visiting a website called Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com). Of course there are many other options including helping out with various programs which your local church may have like helping the area homeless or less fortunate. Even if you don’t know what types of things are being done in your church or community, you should ask. Churches usually have someone who, if they aren’t heading up a ministry, can point you toward someone who is. That might be someone in another church or a community organizer. They might just need some help to love others in the name of Christ, even if they don’t know Who He is. So, go out and give it a try! What do you have to lose? We don’t have to know what we’re doing, especially at first. We can’t mess it up too bad if we are trying to help others. Who knows, if we give enough of our time and money away, we might just give up that guilty conscious, as well. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Cornered by

by

Grace

Rob Beames

A Bold-faced Lie I

n the beginning, God’s first creation had a perfect relationship with God, partly because even though they were created with the ability to sin, they never had sinned—yet, it would be more accurate to say that their relationship with God started out perfectly because there was no sin in the world, at all. This means there was nothing between them and their perfect Father. The moment at which all of this changed is often the focus of the theological-minded because of its incredibly long-reaching, long-lasting implications, as it altered not only all of humanity, but also all of creation. In fact, even those with a casual curiosity about the relationship between God and mankind have shown interest in the beginning, especially how everything went wrong. The way it all began to fall apart is also commonly

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known: with a lie. The devil uttered the first ever lie earning him the right to have Jesus dub him “the father of lies” in John 8:44. This lie has been further dissected, and not without good cause. Understanding the way the serpent tricked Eve can help us understand our tendencies to which the constant presence of sin, now in our lives, has made us even more vulnerable. With this worthy endeavor in mind, we consider this lie once again—or at least the last part of it. The first lie was hardly subtle, “‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:4). Only a few verses before this we find that God did say to Adam exactly that: “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good


and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). This fact shows that the false statement from the devil was a bold attack on the very words of God and most assuredly on God’s character, as well. In short, the father of lies told Eve that God could not be trusted. The devil’s explanation to her was that God had lied in an effort to cover up His true alterative motive: keeping them from becoming like Him. The devil was, no doubt, quite convincing with this argument since he already believed he was like God. What the devil was actually offering was independence from God. The appeal was to be free of their reliance on God to tell them what was right or wrong. No longer would they have to learn from God which tree was the right tree. They would be able to determine that for themselves—or so the lie said. No longer would they have to ask themselves, “Is God okay with this action”? No longer would they need to trust Him. Never would they have to fear the punishment of God’s death sentence as the result of disobedience. They would no longer wonder what God might do to them out of His disapproval if they failed. They would never have to doubt that God approved of them, period—not that they ever had a reason to doubt before. They were offered the ability to know these things for themselves. They were offered control over their lives and even their destinies. They were told they would have the ability to make their own choices. In fact, the ability to discern right from wrong was the little sliver of truth that could be found in the lies spewed out by the crafty serpent. Adam and Eve certainly knew they had done wrong, immediately. Knowing what was right may have taken them longer to realize, and it may be that only their offspring after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit many years later obtained this ability, but there was nonetheless some truth in that. It sounded like a reasonable offer to them. After all, the prospect of becoming like God wasn’t so tough of a sell since they were already made in His image. Why should they trust someone who threatened to kill them if they stepped out of line? Why not trust someone who offered them autonomy, instead? Do you know why it is important to understand the first lie and its attractiveness in such detail? Because we still buy the same lies today. Instead

of resting in the approval which God has already given us based on the peace Christ attained for us, we would rather attempt to please our Creator. In this way, we can rationalize that our justification is deserved—though we do not grasp how incredibly far we fall short. Instead of trusting that He knows what is good for us when He tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9), we continue to attempt perfection so we don’t have to rely on his grace. In this way we reason that we don’t need quite so much grace to make it. We seem to constantly be trying to prove to Him, and to ourselves that we are worthy enough to be in His presence— journeys of futility. We have already been provided righteousness from Christ. The only catch: we have to accept it by faith. It cannot be earned. We have to trust God that it is true although our soul might scream that it’s a lie. We desire to know that these things are true for ourselves. We don’t want to be forced to trust in them by faith. Faith is always more difficult than seeing for ourselves. Unfortunately, our eyes don’t always see things as they truly are. They can’t because of sin. Actually, our minds don’t always reason things out the way they truly are. They can’t either, because of sin. Because of this first lie on which Adam and Eve acted—and all the countless lies their offspring have jumped on ever since—sin has damaged us in every aspect. There isn’t one part of us which isn’t plagued by sin. It essentially runs through our veins—that doesn’t sound like someone I want to trust with my eternity. Should we trust in the efforts of fallen, damaged creatures for our justification—maybe just a little? No, not in the least! Yes, it’s difficult to trust, but it’s also inevitable. In the end, I would rather trust completely in a perfect, loving Father who cares deeply for me and has already prepared a place for me to be with him forever. Wouldn’t you? (I believe he wanted me to remind you of this.) you get the picture.

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Tool Box by

W

hether or not you have used them to buy or sell, you are probably at least somewhat familiar with online auction site e-Bay and the online classified board Craigslist. But did you know there are many other ways to buy and sell online? When you think of online auctions, e-Bay automatically comes to mind as the undisputed king. But run a search for “online auction sites” and you’ll find hundreds of other sites. In general, auction ranking reviews rate e-Bay as the best choice in most categories. However, if you are auctioning something specific to a target audience, you might want to investigate auction sites tailored to that product. For example, if you have concert or athletic event tickets for sale, you would want to specifically focus on ticket-seekers using a site such as StubHub. If you are looking to buy via an online auction you might be tempted by a penny auction site, like BidCactus.com. Penny auctions are sites often used for selling consumer electronics such as computers, cameras and HDTVs. Items are listed with a minimum selling price and price per bid is set. For example, you sign up for a penny auction and pay 50 cents per bid on a laptop. The price of the laptop starts at one cent. Each time you bid, you pay 50 cents and the laptop price increases by one cent. The auction will ends once the bidding fees plus item price reach the seller’s set price. If 2,000 people each placed a bid at 50 cents each, the seller would net $1,000 but the winner walks away with a laptop for $20, plus whatever she spent in bidding. Unless you’re the only person bidding, auctions have an element of excitement as you go for the win, but with penny auctions, the thrill is more

akin to that of gambling. At Bassabids.com you get the penny auction excitement, but bidding is free. Penny auctions can be very risky, and while it seems like a good deal, what you spend on bids can add up fast and if you don’t win the item, you’ve just walked away emptyhanded, much like gambling. Make sure you do plenty of research on penny auctions sites, how they work and which ones are legitimate before jumping in. If you just want to buy or sell items without the stress of online auctions (I know I do!) then you can check out sites like Esty, Craigslist or Facebook groups. If you are crafty or are looking for a unique homemade item, then point your browser to esty.com . Esty allows you to list handmade and vintage items or craft supplies. You will pay Esty a 20 cent listing fee and then a 3.5 percent transaction fee (there is also an optional advertising fee that varies by product). If you can crank out handmade jewelry, baby blankets or have a closet full of unused craft project supplies (like me!) then check out Esty to see if it’s a good money-making match. It’s also a great place to shop for unique gifts and maybe you can pick up a good deal or two from fellow crafters. Online classified ads are another way to unload unwanted items or pick up a great deal. Craigslist is the best known online classified ad service. You can use Craigslist locally to browse items you wish to buy or list items you are selling, and then arrange a pick-up/payment location in your community. I even know people who have scored really great items for free on Craigslist – all they had to do was pick the item up. Craigslist results are typically better when listing household items (furniture, dishes, and electronics) as opposed to collectables.

outbid on ebay? ALTernATIVE online auctions

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Julie Ann


As I said, check it out carefully to be sure it’s the right choice for your item. Craigslist has its limitations though. If you don’t live in or near a metropolitan area with a Craigslist, it won’t be of much help to you. Also, there’s no easy way to search more than one local at a time, if like our editor, you live equidistance from three Craigslist cities. If Craigslist isn’t the best choice, often local communities or groups will host a classified board. My church even has a Web site where people can list items they are selling, giving away or ask if anyone has an item that they may need. Recently Facebook groups have popped up that allow people within the community to buy, sell or exchange products. Typically, you will request to be added to this group and then group members will post their items to the group’s Facebook wall. You can respond in the comments if you are interested in the item and strike up a deal with the seller. Sometimes these even follow a silent auction type format where you place your bid in the comments.

Many states and cities also have auction sites to sell inventory being replaced with newer models. You can find everything from computer equipment to medical equipment and desks to lawn mowers and a lot more you wouldn’t expect. Search your city or state’s name plus “government surplus auction.” Always remember to use extra caution when using Craigslist or another classified service that requires personal contact. Arrange pick up/delivery in a busy public place, take along a friend (preferably a big burly ultimate fighting champion) to ensure your protection and if something doesn’t feel quite right, trust your gut and back out of the situation. It’s always better to use a reputable service, such as e-Bay, that will offer a layer of protection even if you have to pay a little extra for the listing. Selling and buying online can be a great experience and help you earn or save extra cash. However be sure to do your homework on the sites you are planning to use beforehand and know the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.

5 Auction Alternatives To E-Bay Sam’s Club – You do have to be a member to buy, but in case you are, you can get some decent deals on new merchandise. Goodwill – Selling the best of their donations online. Bidding for Good – Online auction for hundreds of charities. The old silent auction to the extreme. Lots of swank here, as well as some decent deals if you really look. Property Room – Even the cops are in on the deal now. Police and warehouse sales. Look here for used Crown Victorias and mink coats – among other things. Liquidation.com – This is where the Christmas returns go to be sold in lots to the second line resalers. You can literally start your own small resale business with a small investment OR how about everyone gets the same thing for Christmas this year. 35 beanbags for $100, anyone?

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Tool Box From the National Consumer League’s Internet Fraud Watch

Don’t Buy “a Load of Goods” Online • Understand how the auction works. Many online auctions simply list items that people want to sell without verifying that the merchandise actually exists or is described accurately; and they can’t guaranty that the sellers will keep their promises. • Check out the seller before you bid. Be aware that positive reports may have been “planted” by the seller and negative comments could be from a competitor. Other sources of information are state or local consumer protection agencies and the Better Business Bureau. • Be extra careful if the seller is a private party. Many consumer protection laws don’t apply to private sales, though government agencies may take action on multiple complaints about the same person or if criminal fraud is involved. • Be especially cautious when dealing with sellers in other countries. If you have a problem, the physical distance, difference in legal systems, and other factors could make resolving it very difficult (read “Kiss your money good-bye.”) • Get the name and contact information of the seller. The name, physical street address, email address, and phone number are helpful to have for checking the seller out and following up later if there is a problem. Don’t do business with anyone who refuses to provide that information. Run the address on Google satellite images to see if it exists. • Be wary of claims about collectibles and other expensive items. Since you can’t examine the merchandise or have it appraised until after the sale, don’t assume that claims about its condition or value are true, or that photographs are accurate. Print out and save the description and any photos to document the claims that were made. • Ask about delivery, returns, warranties and service before you pay. Get a definite delivery time and insist that the shipment is insured. Ask about the return policy. If you’re buying electronic goods or appliances, find out if there is a warranty and how

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to get service. • Look for information on the auction site about insurance. Some auction sites provide insurance that covers buyers up to a certain amount if something goes wrong. Others may have links to third-party programs that offer insurance for a fee. Read the terms of the insurance carefully. There is often a deductible, and there be other limitations or requirements that apply. For example, you may not be covered if the seller had a negative feedback rating on the auction site at the time of the transaction. • Pay by credit card. Under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you paid the seller with a credit card and the goods were never delivered or if they were misrepresented. If you are paying through an intermediary service, ask what happens in the case of disputes. • Look for bonded sellers. Some sellers are bonded through programs that have investigated their business backgrounds and credit histories and guaranty your money back if they don’t fulfill their promises. Click on the program symbol to learn how the bonding program works and verify that the seller is a member in good standing. • Consider using an escrow service for expensive purchases that aren’t covered by insurance or bonding. For a small fee, an escrow service takes your payment and forwards it to the seller once you confirm satisfactory delivery. If there is a dispute, the escrow service may act as a referee. Ask if the service is licensed and bonded, and how you can confirm that with the appropriate agency. • Try mediation to resolve disputes. Not all problems are due to fraud. Sometimes people simply fail to hold up their side of the bargain in a timely manner or there may be a misunderstanding about something. Some auction sites provide links to thirdparty mediation services that help people resolve disputes. There may be a small fee that is usually paid by the party who requests the mediation. • Inform auction sites about suspected fraud. They may have policies to remove sellers from their sites if they use “shills” or don’t live up to their obligations. Source: www.Fraud.org