Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Father/Son Team Day 2013 Memory Verse

For you go-getters, planners, and competitive types, here is this years memory verse for the Father/Son Team day. The memory verse is highly weighted not to mention the most important activity you can do with your son.

1 Peter 1:13-19   13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
The verse above is in the English Standard Version. You are free to learn it in any translation you prefer but please bring a copy of that version for use in judging the competition.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Who gets to take credit?

And herein lies the tension. God calls us to act, but not in our strength.
I struggle in knowing how to counsel people in their fight with sin. I don't want those I counsel to think, as is so often so easy, that if they just work a little harder the sin will simply sluff off like a case of dandruff. I also don't want those I counsel to think that the process of sanctification is a couch potato miracle that is really only a fat example of spiritual laziness. But how do we avoid the fall into either tempting counterfeit? i don't yet have an answer I feel brings it all together and so I often solicit thoughts from the fathers and young men who I have the privilege of coming to know well over time. The following short exchange is one such exchange on Facebook. This young man has been fighting to overcome a sin that had for years enslaved him but over which God has now granted a great deal of freedom. So I wanted to get his thoughts on how he approaches the fight without doing so in his own strength. I found his answer helpful and I hope you will as well.
Me: "I am glad that things are going so well! I'm curious on two things you mention above. The first is probably one of the biggest questions I have as I think through the actual process of sanctification and especially as I come alongside young men who are dealing with besetting purity issues. The fact is that we are not puppets at the end of cosmic strings. We are volitional creatures, free agents who must exercise our freedom (though not a libertarian freedom in the philosophical sense). However, you and I both know that God never blesses us when we try to find victory in our own strength. And herein lies the tension. God calls us to act, but not in our strength. So I am seeking to understand this tension better over time at least in terms of how to counsel myself and others as we seek to be faithful people but not in our own strength. So in the past when you've gotten too confident and had not been trusting God, would it be possible to explain what the lack of trust looked like and what you believe the more appropriate response now looks like? I figure over time with help from guys like you I might be able to be more helpful in aiding guys to understand more concretely what that looks like even if we never really understand how to bring the two together completely."
My Young Friend: "I feel that when I begin trusting myself it begins to manifest itself in my thought life. When I'm tempted I'll say things like "no, I'm not going to do that." Instead of calling on The Lord for help. I will mentally muscle through. Also, I think that it happens when a complacency sets in. I'm not spending the time in prayer or the word that I need to be. When that happens, it is usually only a matter of time before I fall."

I noticed one thing that jumped out at me from his response to my question. The actions that he takes that produce the faithful response he seeks are acts that communicate weakness. Turning to God in confession, the very act of prayer itself, fleeing into the strong tower of God's word, they are all confessions of weakness and need even if the words themselves are never spoken. This may not be a great answer to the philosophical tension that nags at me but I think I'm OK living with that tension.