A tale of two message-boards

Virginia Heffernan
I ran across an arti­cle that filled me with sor­row while at the same time giv­ing me a smidgen of hope.

Colum­nist Vir­ginia Hef­fer­nan has been in the conservative/Christian news for the past cou­ple of days. Her admis­sion of believ­ing in Cre­ation­ism and her han­dling of the expect­ed vit­ri­olic assault from the main­stream­ers is both con­fir­ma­tion of our fears of how hos­tile and intol­er­ant soci­ety is to faith and dif­fer­ing belief and encour­age­ment because one of us has coura­geous­ly stood up and spo­ken hon­est­ly and then coura­geous­ly stood up to their hate­filled response as well with char­ac­ter and back­bone.

Virginia’s arti­cle titled “Inside the Infi­deli­ty Club”, gives me much the same dual­i­ty of feel­ing.

I love mar­riage, fam­i­ly, and rela­tion­ship, and more specif­i­cal­ly God’s per­fect blue­print for them. See­ing what soci­ety has made them… the destruc­tion of the fam­i­ly, hearts, and lives is a top­ic nev­er far from my con­sid­er­a­tion. It’s so dif­fi­cult for me not to be filled with sor­row bor­der­ing on hope­less­ness as I per­ceive a con­tin­u­al and accel­er­at­ing decline, and find lit­tle to give hope of a return to san­i­ty and health. Virginia’s arti­cle took me into the deep­est regions of that dark val­ley as she describes a mes­sage-board for women who glee­ful­ly dis­cuss their extra­mar­i­tal affairs: hav­ing them, lov­ing them, jus­ti­fy­ing them, plan­ning them, recount­ing them, feel­ing enti­tled to them, encour­ag­ing one anoth­er to greater depths of betray­al, etc. She con­trasts it with a sec­ond mes­sage-board for women* who are try­ing to sur­vive being betrayed by their spouse.

My smidgen of hope is engen­dered by her choos­ing to explore/expose this dif­fi­cult sub­ject in a main­stream forum and wasn’t afraid to be hon­est and call the bad bad and speak truth regard­ing the ter­ri­bly self­ish immoral hate­ful behav­iors and the hor­ri­ble pain they cause oth­ers… to be hon­est and say that it’s unequiv­o­cal­ly wrong. Maybe that’s part of the answer to turn­ing stam­ped­ing herd that is rush­ing head­long for cliff’s edge… peo­ple stand­ing up and clear­ly say­ing, “This is wrong. It’s hate­ful, self­ish, imma­ture and despi­ca­ble. It’s wrong and there’s absolute­ly no jus­ti­fy­ing or ratio­nal­iz­ing it.” What a gift to those who have oper­at­ed under these lies so very long with the rest of the world cheer­ing them on to new depths of depraved inhu­man behav­ior.

She doesn’t stop there how­ev­er. She goes on to out­line efforts she intends to make to be cer­tain that she is pro­tect­ing and build­ing her own mar­riage… not things she sees that need fix­ing in her spouse, but extra efforts she her­self plans to make to grow her­self and her mar­riage. If any­thing, I sus­pect this final bit may be of even greater val­ue to those liv­ing the lie than even her speak­ing truth to the lie. I could see this find­ing chinks in hard­ened hearts and expos­ing self-decep­tions that might have stood unex­am­ined indef­i­nite­ly. The thing that seems to be most feared by per­sons of a moral-rel­a­tivist human­is­tic bent is self-exam­i­na­tion. Denied pre-knowl­edge on a much-sup­pressed hon­est lev­el, that they would -not- like what they would find, fills them with a ter­ror-dri­ven goal to avoid such an exer­cise at all cost. Per­haps her crit­i­cal self-exam­i­na­tion will be ignored just deter­mined­ly as the usu­al frontal-attack on their lifestyle, but I have hope to the con­trary.

Even if the results on the heart of one who reads and absorbs her per­son­al explo­ration is not imme­di­ate­ly and dras­ti­cal­ly felt, it may be that what Ravi Zachara­ias says is true of the appli­ca­tion of apolo­get­ics on a hard­ened spir­i­tu­al heart may also be true of her efforts on a hard­ened rela­tion­al heart. He states that apolo­get­ics can only take you so far and no fur­ther in many cas­es. He said that it is rare if not unheard-of to -argue- an athe­is­tic heart into belief in God. Over the years he’s been told by many for­mer-athe­ists that such argu­ments, while admit­ted­ly hav­ing some small influ­ence on their shift, were not the cause of or impe­tus behind the shift.

* No indi­ca­tion if there are sim­i­lar com­mu­ni­ties of dev­as­tat­ed men.

A Sad Truth about the ‘Average’ Evangelical Christian

A.W. Tozer
Repost­ed from Tony Miano’s blog at OnTheBox.us

The aver­age evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian who claims to be born again and have eter­nal life is not doing as much to prop­a­gate his or her faith as the busy adher­ents of the cults, hand­ing out their papers on the street cor­ners and vis­it­ing from house to house and going door to door.”

— A.W. Toz­er

Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pastor in history

Bare­bones min­i­mum, yes?
Does the gospel need a $300,000 sound/lighting/video sys­tem to reach hearts?

Is the gospel rel­e­vant to the heart of some­one today, or must it be made rel­e­vant with pithy grit­ty angst, a rock-con­cert atmos­phere, and the Holy Spir­it rid­ing the back of the mega-church smoke machines?

I dis­cov­ered that I have a mail­box at church last week, or rather that the A/V Min­istry does. This is appar­ent­ly a fix­ture estab­lished for two rea­sons. The first is for the mem­ber [dear­ly loved] of the con­gre­ga­tion who reminds me near­ly every week that our 87dB wor­ship ser­vice is too loud and pro­hib­i­tive to wor­ship. I found a col­lec­tion of pho­to­copied jour­nal arti­cles and even jour­nals them­selves with bits cir­cled and notes paper-clipped to pages out­lin­ing the dan­gers of expo­sure to heavy sound pres­sure lev­els. *chuck­le* I feel bad because there were some con­tri­bu­tions that had sat there lan­guish­ing unread for a long while. The sec­ond pur­pose is to serve as a place to stick all the adverts and cat­a­logs from sound/lighting/video/production sup­pli­ers.

In perus­ing the pages of these full-col­or glossy tomes, I ran across tes­ti­mo­ni­als from church­es that had been helped by the catalog’s com­pa­ny. It was appar­ent that the answer to these ques­tions was indeed, ‘yes’. The pho­tos from these installs showed booths and stages that a pop-record­ing mega-artist and their sound-tech would feel quite at home with­in when per­form­ing.

I am a crea­ture of ADD extremes, flights of fan­cy, bursts of strong (some­times unwar­rant­ed, often­times inad­vis­able) emo­tion. I know this. God knows this. My friends and fam­i­ly bless me (Thank you. I love you. Thank you God) with an atti­tude sim­i­lar to that which we Mis­souri­ans express towards our capri­cious weath­er… “If you don’t like it, wait five min­utes.” That’s not to say that I’m an unteth­ered kite being blown by a storm with no emotional/intellectual anchor. Quite the con­trary… I just have a heart that rush­es on ahead and a mind that labors to catch it up and remind it that has again run away with­out a prayer con­sult, and left all the notes and lessons learned behind, sit­ting use­less­ly in a dis­card­ed back­pack. The teth­er and the anchor are there, there’s just a regret­table amount of slack in the line that usu­al­ly runs-out with a semi-painful ‘snap’.

I had a few hours of per­son­al cri­sis. Despair, dis­gust, sor­row. I just want­ed to turn in my mon­i­tor­ing phones along with my 2 weeks notice. This last­ed, for­tu­nate­ly, only a few hours, before rea­son reassert­ed itself and I was able to view my own goals to repair, expand, and oth­er­wise meet the mod­est ‘needs’ of our Sun­day ser­vice, with a peace­ful con­fi­dence that our answers to those ques­tions, if asked, would be a sim­ple, ‘no’, and if ever we stray into that men­tal­i­ty, we have only to reeval­u­ate and tell our­selves ‘no’.

It helped to have the clear words of Ravi Zacharais from a few days ear­li­er to remind me that the peo­ple that I turn to and trust for good teach­ing and insight into mat­ters of faith aren’t caught up in this trou­ble­some church mindset/trend:

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2″ @15:39 Pre­vi­ous Arti­cle

David Platt described his real­iza­tion thus in his book “Rad­i­cal: Tak­ing Back Your Faith from the Amer­i­can Dream”

The youngest megachurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.”

While I would dis­pute that claim it was nonethe­less the label giv­en to me when I went to pas­tor a large, thriv­ing church in the Deep South — the Church at Brook Hills in Birm­ing­ham, Alaba­ma. From the first day I was immersed in strate­gies for mak­ing the church big­ger and bet­ter. Authors I respect great­ly would make state­ments such as, “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that’s five, ten, or twen­ty thou­sand mem­bers.” Soon my name was near the top of the list of pas­tors of the fastest-grow­ing U.S. church­es. There I was… liv­ing out the Amer­i­can church dream.

But I found myself becom­ing uneasy. For one thing, my mod­el in min­istry is a guy who spent the major­i­ty of his min­istry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 peo­ple who were actu­al­ly stick­ing around and doing what he told them to do. More like a minichurch, real­ly. Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.

So how was I to rec­on­cile the fact that I was now pas­tor­ing thou­sands of peo­ple with the fact that my great­est exam­ple in min­istry was known for turn­ing away thou­sands of peo­ple? When­ev­er the crowd got big, he’d say some­thing such as “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Not exact­ly the sharpest church-growth tac­tic. I can almost pic­ture the looks on the dis­ci­ples’ faces. “No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll nev­er get on the list of the fastest grow­ing move­ments if you keep ask­ing them to eat you.”

By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained. Jesus appar­ent­ly wasn’t inter­est­ed in mar­ket­ing him­self to the mass­es. His invi­ta­tions to poten­tial fol­low­ers were clear­ly more cost­ly than the crowds were ready to accept and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said rad­i­cal things. And through their rad­i­cal obe­di­ence to him, he turned the course of his­to­ry in a new direc­tion.

Soon I real­ized I was on a col­li­sion course with an Amer­i­can church cul­ture where suc­cess is defined by big­ger crowds, big­ger bud­gets, and big­ger build­ings. I was now con­front­ed with a star­tling real­i­ty: Jesus actu­al­ly spurned the things that my church cul­ture said were the most impor­tant. So what was I to do?

I’m still trou­bled, but I think that’s a good thing. As Lewis says in Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, “We have cause to be uneasy.” and ” And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­take. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”. I want to stay uneasy. I don’t want to fall asleep. I want, at the very least, when I get excit­ed and think, “This would be so cool for our sound sys­tem.” to ever have a voice that reminds me to ask myself (and God), if the Gospel needs my tech, or even my tech­nique. Am I help­ing, or would I help more just by get­ting out of the way?

The sin­gle great­est cause of athe­ism in the world today is Chris­tians, who acknowl­edge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbe­liev­ing world sim­ply finds unbe­liev­able” — Bren­nan Man­ning

What you win them .with. is what you win them .to.

Ravi Zacharias

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The Ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2” @15:39

Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, Part 1 — Mp3
Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, Part 2 — Mp3

Happy Birthday — Flipsyde

From the heav­ens to the womb to the heav­ens again
From the endin’ to the endin’, nev­er got to begin
Maybe one day we could meet face to face
In a place with­out time and space, hap­py birth­day

This song real­ly touch­es me. It’s an incred­i­bly pow­er­ful and hon­est self-con­fes­sion to his unborn child about a choice he’s come to regret as so many do. He has the courage to express what so many feel yet nev­er share. If all these voic­es were to speak aloud they would deaf­en those spread­ing the non­sen­si­cal lies that few if any women and men suf­fer from hav­ing cho­sen to abort their baby. I praise God for this man’s courage and for giv­ing him a tal­ent that [here at least, I’m unfa­mil­iar with his oth­er work] he chose to redeem.

Once To Every Man and Nation

James Rus­sel Low­ell, 1819–1891

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with false­hood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great deci­sion, offer­ing each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by for­ev­er, ’twixt that dark­ness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and prof­it, and ’tis pros­per­ous to be just;
Then it is the brave man choos­es while the cow­ard stands aside,
Till the mul­ti­tude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burn­ing mar­tyrs, Christ, Thy bleed­ing feet we track,
Toil­ing up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occa­sions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil pros­per, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her por­tion be the scaf­fold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaf­fold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God with­in the shad­ow, keep­ing watch above His own.

Ravi Zacharias quot­ed the first stan­za of this hymn in his lec­ture Char­ac­ter Counts, Part 1.

Addi­tion­al: This hymn was quot­ed by Rev. Mar­tin Luther King at the con­clu­sion
of his speech, ‘Viet­nam: A Time to Break Silence’ in April 4th, 1967 at a
meet­ing of Cler­gy and Laity Con­cerned at River­side Church in New York City, USA.


Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley

I met a trav­eller from an antique land
Who said: ‘Two vast and trun­k­less legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shat­tered vis­age lies, whose frown,
And wrin­kled lip, and sneer of cold com­mand,
Tell that its sculp­tor well those pas­sions read
Which yet sur­vive, stamped on these life­less things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear –
“My name is Ozy­man­dias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Noth­ing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colos­sal wreck, bound­less and bare
The lone and lev­el sands stretch far away.’

— Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley

Pearls Before Swine

To give truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more mul­ti­plied rea­sons [plen­ti­ful mate­r­i­al] for mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion.”

George Mac­Don­ald, Min­is­ter, poet, and nov­el­ist (1824 — 1905)

I am com­ing to believe that this quote suf­fers from the same symp­toms with which Jim Elliot’s “He is no fool” quote is beset, in that there are many vari­a­tions float­ing around out there and lit­tle to sug­gest which has greater verac­i­ty. Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is that the author may have com­mu­ni­cat­ed, in print or per­son, the same mean­ing­ful phrase mul­ti­ple times and per­haps not the same way every time. The first time I heard Ravi Zacharias relate this quo­ta­tion it was with the “more mul­ti­plied rea­sons” word­ing and that remains my favorite, but I’ve sub­se­quent­ly heard him quote it as “more plen­ti­ful rea­sons” and so I am left in doubt if one or the oth­er is real­ly more accu­rate. Search­ing the inter­webs I find both ver­sions in sim­i­lar abun­dance.

Words of a skeptic…

The char­ac­ter of Jesus has not only been the high­est pat­tern of virtue, but the strongest incen­tive in its prac­tice, and has exert­ed so deep an influ­ence, that it may be tru­ly said that the sim­ple record of three years of active life has done more to regen­er­ate and to soft­en mankind than all the dis­qui­si­tions of philoso­phers and all the exhor­ta­tions of moral­ists.”

— William E. H. Lecky, “The His­to­ry of Euro­pean Morals from Augus­tus to Charle­magne”.

Him­self not a believ­er (Ravi describes his as a skep­tic) but unable to draw any con­clu­sion but this.

~ “Let My Peo­ple Think: One God Among Many, Pt 2 of 2”, Ravi Zacharias, April 20, 2013

The “Progressive” Man

Clive Staples Lewis

First, as to putting the clock back; Would you think I was jok­ing if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sen­si­ble thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means get­ting near­er to the place where you want to be. And if you have tak­en a wrong turn­ing, then to go for­ward does not get you any near­er. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walk­ing back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soon­est is the most pro­gres­sive man. We have all seen this when doing arith­metic. When I have start­ed a sum the wrong way, the soon­er I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is noth­ing pro­gres­sive about being pig-head­ed and refus­ing to admit a mis­take. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­takes. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, Chap­ter 5, “We Have Cause to be Uneasy”

A Gem to Store in my Hearthoard

With great joy I now real­ize that I would much rather spend the remain­der of my life know­ing, desir­ing, hav­ing found, but nev­er hav­ing, than instead reach the the ter­mi­nus know­ing that for all my seek­ing, I nev­er found it, nev­er knew it, and yes, per­haps ques­tion­ing if I had done all that I could have done to find and if I had been faith­ful to myself and that which is truth.

Creed” — by Steve Turner

Lis­ten Mp3: Ravi Zacharias’ read­ing of “Creed” by Steve Turn­er

We believe in Marxfreudand­dar­win.
We believe every­thing is OK
as long as you don’t hurt any­one,
to the best of your def­i­n­i­tion of hurt,
and to the best of your def­i­n­i­tion of knowl­edge.

We believe in sex before, dur­ing,
and after mar­riage.
We believe in the ther­a­py of sin.
We believe that adul­tery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is OK
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s get­ting bet­ter
despite evi­dence to the con­trary.
The evi­dence must be inves­ti­gat­ed, and
you can prove any­thing with evi­dence.

We believe there’s some­thing in horo­scopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Bud­dha,
Mohammed, and our­selves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think some
his good morals were bad.

We believe that all reli­gions are basi­cal­ly the same;
at least the one that we read were.
They all believe in love and good­ness.
They only dif­fer on mat­ters of cre­ation,
sin, heav­en, hell, God, and sal­va­tion.

We believe that after death comes The Noth­ing
because when you ask the dead what hap­pens they say Noth­ing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it’s com­pul­so­ry heav­en for all
except­ing per­haps Hitler, Stal­in and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Mas­ters and John­son.
What’s select­ed is aver­age.
What’s aver­age is nor­mal.
What’s nor­mal is good.

We believe in total dis­ar­ma­ment because We believe
there are direct links between war­fare and blood­shed.
Amer­i­cans should beat their guns into trac­tors
and the Rus­sians would be sure to fol­low.

We believe that man is essen­tial­ly good.
It’s only his behav­iour that lets him down.
This is the fault of soci­ety.
Soci­ety is the fault of con­di­tions.
Con­di­tions are the fault of soci­ety.

We believe that each man must find the truth
that is right for him.
Real­i­ty will adapt accord­ing­ly.
The uni­verse will read­just. His­to­ry will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
except­ing the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejec­tion of creeds
and the flow­er­ing of indi­vid­ual thought.

*Post Script*

If chance be the father of all flesh,
dis­as­ter is his rain­bow in the sky,
and when you hear:
‘state of emer­gency’,
‘sniper kills ten’,
‘troops on ram­page’,
‘youths go loot­ing’,
‘bomb-blast school’,
it is but the sound of man wor­ship­ing his mak­er.

— Steve Turn­er

Chapter One of the Great Story


“All their life in this world
and all their adven­tures in Nar­nia
had only been the cov­er and the
title page: now at last they were
begin­ning Chap­ter One of the
Great Sto­ry which no one on earth
has read: which goes on for­ev­er:
in which every chap­ter is
bet­ter than the one before.”

—C. S. Lewis,
The Last Bat­tle

James 1–3 NASB

James 1

1James, a bond-ser­vant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dis­persed abroad: Greet­ings.

2Con­sid­er it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter var­i­ous tri­als, know­ing that the test­ing of your faith pro­duces endurance. And let endurance have its per­fect result, so that you may be per­fect and com­plete, lack­ing in noth­ing.

5But if any of you lacks wis­dom, let him ask of God, who gives to all gen­er­ous­ly and with­out reproach, and it will be giv­en to him. But he must ask in faith with­out any doubt­ing, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, dri­ven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive any­thing from the Lord, being a dou­ble-mind­ed man, unsta­ble in all his ways.

But the broth­er of hum­ble cir­cum­stances is to glo­ry in his high posi­tion; 10 and the rich man is to glo­ry in his humil­i­a­tion, because like flow­er­ing grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun ris­es with a scorch­ing wind and with­ers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beau­ty of its appear­ance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pur­suits will fade away.

12 Blessed is a man who per­se­veres under tri­al; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempt­ed, “I am being tempt­ed by God”; for God can­not be tempt­ed by evil, and He Him­self does not tempt any­one. 14 But each one is tempt­ed when he is car­ried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has con­ceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accom­plished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing giv­en and every per­fect gift is from above, com­ing down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no vari­a­tion or shift­ing shad­ow. 18 In the exer­cise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His crea­tures.

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But every­one must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the right­eous­ness of God. 21 There­fore, putting aside all filth­i­ness and all that remains of wicked­ness, in humil­i­ty receive the word implant­ed, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove your­selves doers of the word, and not mere­ly hear­ers who delude them­selves. 23 For if any­one is a hear­er of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his nat­ur­al face in a mir­ror; 24 for once he has looked at him­self and gone away, he has imme­di­ate­ly for­got­ten what kind of per­son he was. 25 But one who looks intent­ly at the per­fect law, the law of lib­er­ty, and abides by it, not hav­ing become a for­get­ful hear­er but an effec­tu­al doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

26 If any­one thinks him­self to be reli­gious, and yet does not bri­dle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s reli­gion is worth­less. 27 Pure and unde­filed reli­gion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to vis­it orphans and wid­ows in their dis­tress, and to keep one­self unstained by the world.

James 2

1My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glo­ri­ous Lord Jesus Christ with an atti­tude of per­son­al favoritism. 2For if a man comes into your assem­bly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3and you pay spe­cial atten­tion to the one who is wear­ing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my foot­stool,” 4have you not made dis­tinc­tions among your­selves, and become judges with evil motives? 5Lis­ten, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the king­dom which He promised to those who love Him? 6But you have dis­hon­ored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and per­son­al­ly drag you into court? 7Do they not blas­pheme the fair name by which you have been called?

8If, how­ev­er, you are ful­fill­ing the roy­al law accord­ing to the Scrip­ture, “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self,” you are doing well. 9But if you show par­tial­i­ty, you are com­mit­ting sin and are con­vict­ed by the law as trans­gres­sors. 10For who­ev­er keeps the whole law and yet stum­bles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11For He who said, “Do not com­mit adul­tery,” also said, “Do not com­mit mur­der.” Now if you do not com­mit adul­tery, but do com­mit mur­der, you have become a trans­gres­sor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of lib­er­ty. 13For judg­ment will be mer­ci­less to one who has shown no mer­cy; mer­cy tri­umphs over judg­ment.

14What use is it, my brethren, if some­one says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a broth­er or sis­ter is with­out cloth­ing and in need of dai­ly food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is nec­es­sary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18But some­one may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith with­out the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shud­der. 20But are you will­ing to rec­og­nize, you fool­ish fel­low, that faith with­out works is use­less? 21Was not Abra­ham our father jus­ti­fied by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22You see that faith was work­ing with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was per­fect­ed; 23and the Scrip­ture was ful­filled which says, “And Abra­ham believed God, and it was reck­oned to him as right­eous­ness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is jus­ti­fied by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the har­lot also jus­ti­fied by works when she received the mes­sen­gers and sent them out by anoth­er way? 26For just as the body with­out the spir­it is dead, so also faith with­out works is dead.

James 3

1Let not many of you become teach­ers, my brethren, know­ing that as such we will incur a stricter judg­ment. 2For we all stum­ble in many ways. If any­one does not stum­ble in what he says, he is a per­fect man, able to bri­dle the whole body as well. 3Now if we put the bits into the hors­es’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are dri­ven by strong winds, are still direct­ed by a very small rud­der wher­ev­er the incli­na­tion of the pilot desires. 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a for­est is set aflame by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniq­ui­ty; the tongue is set among our mem­bers as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of rep­tiles and crea­tures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a rest­less evil and full of dead­ly poi­son. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the like­ness of God; 10from the same mouth come both bless­ing and curs­ing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11Does a foun­tain send out from the same open­ing both fresh and bit­ter water? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, pro­duce olives, or a vine pro­duce figs? Nor can salt water pro­duce fresh.

13Who among you is wise and under­stand­ing? Let him show by his good behav­ior his deeds in the gen­tle­ness of wis­dom. 14But if you have bit­ter jeal­ousy and self­ish ambi­tion in your heart, do not be arro­gant and so lie against the truth. 15This wis­dom is not that which comes down from above, but is earth­ly, nat­ur­al, demon­ic. 16For where jeal­ousy and self­ish ambi­tion exist, there is dis­or­der and every evil thing. 17But the wis­dom from above is first pure, then peace­able, gen­tle, rea­son­able, full of mer­cy and good fruits, unwa­ver­ing, with­out hypocrisy. 18And the seed whose fruit is right­eous­ness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

The Way of Wisdom-James MacDonald-WitW

Excel­lent ser­mon series that cov­ers the premise of “Deci­sion Mak­ing and the Will of God”.

These are the pod­casts, cre­at­ed of seg­ments of the orig­i­nal mes­sages, so there is a lot of rep­e­ti­tion.  I am mix­ing down a sin­gle cohe­sive resource.  To be added lat­er.

  1. WalkInThe­Word-20091127-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 1
  2. WalkInThe­Word-20091130-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 2
  3. WalkInThe­Word-20091201-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 3
  4. WalkInThe­Word-20091202-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God’s Will for You Pt 1
  5. WalkInThe­Word-20091203-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God’s Will for You Pt 2
  6. WalkInThe­Word-20091204-Way­OfWis­dom-The Way of Wis­dom Pt 1
  7. WalkInThe­Word-20091207-Way­OfWis­dom-The Way of Wis­dom Pt 2
  8. WalkInThe­Word-20091208-Way­OfWis­dom-Deci­sion Time Pt 1
  9. WalkInThe­Word-20091209-Way­OfWis­dom-Deci­sion Time Pt 2