Lord, help me be O.C.D.

Several weeks ago Matt Fowler, Senior Associate Pastor at Grace Life Church of the Shoals, gave us a method for handling conflict biblically.   I was reminded of his alliterated principles O.C.D., recently.  Good stuff!  If you want to hear it from him you can listen here.  He offers commentary on the points found below.  The O.C.D. content begins at 13:20 and goes through 26:15.  The following is the outline for practical application.

Be O.C.D. in resolving interpersonal conflicts…

Overlook an Offense:

  • Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11
  • Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.  Proverbs 10:12

Cultivate a Heart of Mercy:

  • Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.  “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”  Matthew 18: 21-35

Decide to deal with conflict biblically:

  • “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Matthew 18: 15-20

*None of these are possible apart from humility.

Christians Must Vote, Logically

Yes, I have very much stepped over the line on this one.  I can see some of you wince as you read this.  However, I can’t deny the truth of a logical argument.  If you feel that I am in error please respond with a logical argument of your own.  Here goes…

The argument:  If the Democratic platform supports and promotes unbiblical ideas, then Christians should not support its candidates.  The 2008 Democratic platform does support and promote unbiblical ideas.  Therefore, Christians should not support its candidates.

The Democratic platform supports and promotes unbiblical ideas

The 2008 Democratic platform does support and promote unbiblical ideas that are of importance to the Christian.  The two that I want to discuss are marriage and abortion (obviously, this is not an exhaustive treatment of neither the platform document or the bible).  First, on pg. 52 of the 2008 Democratic National Platform, it reads “We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits, and protections. We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act. We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us.”  What is the statement saying?  It says that democrats support a rejection of the biblical understanding of marriage, which promotes marriage of a man and a woman.  It says very clearly that democrats oppose the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines legal marriage as the union of a man and a woman.  This is contrary to the bible’s overall teaching concerning marriage.  Specifically Jesus quotes Genesis in Matthew 19, “He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh.”  Not only this but the Old and New Testaments both call homosexuality a sin.  My point in this post is not to call attention to the sin of homosexuality.  If I did, I think it would only be fair that I talk about sexual ethics in general, which would include heterosexual sin.

As for abortion, on pg 50 of the Democratic National Platform is a statement in support of the “unequivocal” availability of abortions.  It states “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”  I could not be any more concisely thorough on the biblical understand than Andreas Kostenberger when he writes in the excellent book God, Marriage and Family, “Abortion is not a practice condoned by Scripture, both on account of its general teaching regarding the value of human life and on the basis of specific passages.  Both testaments teach that children are a blessing from God (Ps. 127:3-5; Mark 10:13-16) and regard the killing of children with particular horror (e.g., Ex. 1:16-17, 22; Lev. 18:21; Jer. 7:31-32; Ezek. 16:20-21; Mic. 6:7; Matt. 2:16-18: Acts 7:19).  God is shown to be active in the creation of human beings from the time of conception {here he includes several Old Testament passages and a couple of New Testament}, so that human procreation in fact represents “a co-creative process involving man, woman, and God.”  He then lists Psalm 139:13-16 .

Christians should not support its candidates (those who support unbiblical ideas)

First let me say that Christians in general and Baptists in particular love religious freedom and oppose creating a theocracy.  As these two issues, marriage and abortion, become increasingly legislated away from the biblical ideal, opposition to them becomes increasingly difficult.   I am not speaking about personal courage but rather legality.  If it becomes a crime to call homosexuality sin and abortion murder, then the attack is on the gospel.  The gospel must never be compromised.  What the Lord considered sin a thousand years ago is still sin today.  Culture does not dictate truth, God does.  Why would Christians want to support individuals who represent them in making laws for the city/county/state/country when those laws offend, undermine, and destroy beliefs that are of supreme importance to the Christian?

The fact is, we should not.  Christians should not support candidates who will undermine the beliefs that they hold sacred.  Christians should vote.  They should vote from their Christian convictions.  Sadly, most church going Americans do vote from conviction, but it is far from biblical or Christian.  God is not glorified when I condone sin.  Therefore, as I live to do all things to the glory of God, it cannot include a willful vote in opposition to His Word.  Soli Deo Gloria!

Motivation for the Procrastinator

I got the following information from a free little ebook called Biblical Productivity by C.J. Mahaney.  In it he includes the following quote by Alexander MacLaren and article by R.C. Sproul.

No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it.                                                                                                                                   Alexander MacLaren (1826‐1910), Scottish preacher


Time Well Spent by R.C. Sproul (excerpt)

Given my propensity to waste time, I have learned a few tricks to help me beat the clock. They may be helpful to some of you.

First, I realize that all of my time is God’s time and all of my time is my time by His delegation. God owns me and my time. Yet, He has given me a measure of time over which I am a steward. I can commit that time to work for other people, visit other people, etc. But it is time for which I must give an account.

Second, time can be redeemed by concentration and focus. One of the greatest wastes of time occurs in the human mind. Our hands may be busy but our minds idle. Likewise, our hands may be idle while our minds are busy. Woolgathering, day-dreaming, and indulging in frivolous fantasy are ways in which thoughts may be wasted in real time. To focus our minds on the task at hand—with fierce concentration—makes for productive use of time.

Third, the mind can redeem valuable time taken up by ordinary or mechanical functions. For example, the mechanics of taking a shower are not difficult. In this setting the mind is free for problem solving, creative thinking, or the composition of themes. Many of my messages and lectures are germinated in the shower. When I used to play a lot of golf, I found that the time I had between shots was a great time for composing messages in my mind.

Fourth, use your leisure time for pursuits that are life enriching. Leisure time is often spent on avocations. Reading is a valuable use of time. It enriches life to read outside of your major field or area of expertise. Augustine once advised believers to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible, since all truth is God’s truth. Other avocations that are enriching include the arts. I like to study the piano and I dabble in painting. No one will ever mistake me for a serious musician or an accomplished artist. But these avocations open up the world of beauty to me that enhances my view of God and His manifold perfections. I also enjoy working cross-word puzzles to warm up the little gray cells and to expand my vista of verbal expression.

Fifth, find ways to cheat the “Sand Man.” Several years ago I had an epiphany about time management. Though my life-long pattern had been to stay up late at night I realized that for me, the hours between 9–12 p.m. were not very productive. I reasoned that if I used those hours to sleep I might secure more time for more productive things. Since then my habit has been to retire between 8–9 p.m. when possible and rise at 4 a.m. This has effected a wonderful revolution for my schedule. The early hours of the day are a time free from distractions and interruptions, a marvelous time for study, writing, and prayer….

Sixth, use drive-time for learning. Driving a car is another mechanical function that allows the mind to be alert to more than what is happening on the roadway. The benefits of audio tape can be put to great use during these times. I can listen to lectures and instructional tapes while driving, thereby redeeming the time.

Finally, in most cases a schedule is more liberating than restricting. Working with a schedule helps enormously to organize our use of time. The schedule should be a friend, not an enemy. I find it freeing in that the schedule can include time for leisure, recreation, and avocation. It helps us find the rhythm for a God-glorifying productive life.

Why We Love Having Children

First let me say that I sympathize with those who can’t have children.  Because of the fall, sometimes that can be the case.  We were unsuccessful (with the exception of a miscarriage) for about five years with no medical explanation.  There are those who are never able.  We have known a very small portion of the agony and struggle that you have faced.  The Lord for His own reasons chose to give us children after a time of unexplained barrenness.  What follows are just some thoughts after discovering that we will have our third child in January.

It Is Biblical To Desire Children (For a more thorough treatment of these ideas click here or here)

  • Psalm 127:3-5:  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!  He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
  • We are commanded to be fruitful and multiply in several places (Genesis 1:28; 8:17; 9:1, 7; 35:11; Jeremiah 23:3)
  • Great quote from Dr. Al Mohler:  “Christians must recognize that… rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God’s design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift… Morally speaking, the epidemic in this regard has nothing to do with those married couples who desire children but are for any reason unable to have them, but instead in those who are fully capable of having children but reject this intrusion in their lifestyle.”

They Are Our Spiritual Legacy

  • One of the reasons that God gives us children is because we make disciples this way.  We are always teaching and training our children in something.  We want to make sure that we are training up our children to love the Lord.  Voddie Baucham said, “One of the principle purposes of marriage is procreation.  Of course, this goes beyond merely having children to actually bringing them up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4) in an effort to spread the image of God (and the gospel) throughout the earth.”  That’s exactly what we are purposing to do.
  • Deuteronomy 6:4-9 :  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
  • Psalm 78:1-8:  Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God,but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The Lord Often Uses Children To Conform Us To The Image Of Christ

  • There is no doubt that God uses all kinds of means to form us in character, both adversity and blessing.  Two very powerful ways that the Lord chisels us into the image of the Son is through marriage and having children.  Whether it is asking forgiveness from your wife or struggling not to discipline your children in anger, the Lord knows just how to expose your weaknesses through family relationships.
  • Romans 8:28-29:  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.