12 Dec 1999

Decisions Based on Life and Freedom

Submitted by theshovel
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Here is a reply I received on the last Shoveletter:

Jim - to some degree I think you are wrong. I don't think that being regenerated means that every thing I do say or think from this point on is smack dab in the middle of God's will. Heather

I love getting stuff like this! It tells me that somebody is thinking. And guess what? Everybody stands to benefit when somebody makes an objection. Do I refer to the opportunity I have to tell you more? That's only part of it ... and it is NOT the first part. For the person who is being challenged - in this case, ME - is being presented an opportunity for real communication.

So, how do YOU handle these situations in YOUR life? Do you take it as an insult? Do you blow it off? Do you react irrationally in self-protection? Do you attack the one who challenges you? Do you seek out those who agree with you so as to fortify your position? Do you take a poll and then side with the most popular view? Do you gossip about and slander the one who challenges you? Do you label the objector so you can refer to him as one of "THEM"? Do you seek a feeling of peace so that your decision in the matter seems to be right?

I'm asking you to consider how you have learned to cope in these situations. Now, in case you are thinking to yourself that you don't get into these situations then you are missing the point ... because you get into them all day long! How so? Somebody tells you they don't agree with your choice of music or fast-food restaurant or clothes or advice, etc. Or someone claims THEIR way is the ONLY or BEST way to do it. You know, the same stupid stuff that that seems to trigger MOST of our arguments and fights all across the world all day long, every day. Don't strain to find an example from ten years ago ... you should be able to pick out a fresh one from earlier today.
:)

Do you know what is really being presented to you all day long? The difference between LIFE and DEATH, that's what. There is a reason it doesn't appear that way to us: we get side-tracked into thinking that our life consists of making a series of right choices. Don't you realize that your real life is happening right under your nose even while you're trying to discover it?

You wanna know something? I have the same objection to what I'm teaching as in the opening objection. That's been MY question for years! I am the one who needs to hear of this reality of Christ in MY life. MY tendency is to look at what I'M doing and what I'M thinking and what I'M choosing and what I'M believing ... and to draw the obvious conclusion that WHATEVER God's will is, I'm not there. I am faced with the same stuff that every other believer is faced with. And I object because I'm looking at ME ... and MY performance (or lack of it). Believe me, I understand the objections. And the really interesting thing is that the truth of Christ never even suggested what I'm objecting to.

The passage I'm quoting below may appear to be totally off the issue, but I ask you to consider that it is EXACTLY the issue:

Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freeman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves OF MEN. Brethren, let each man remain with God in that condition in which he was called 1 Corinthians 7:20-24

Some have suggested that Paul approved of slavery ... or that he belittled women ... or that he had a poor view of marriage, etc. But he never said anything of the sort. Why would we think that? Simple ... we have become so caught up in the bondage of MEN that we miss the obvious freedom and reality of Christ he wrote about. Don't you see that almost all of the stuff we consider the will of God is in the same category as with the slave who spent his life trying to get free? Paul dismissed most of the stuff we struggle with by saying, Hey, if it's a real option, then go for it ... otherwise, stay in your present situation.

What was Paul's real message in all of that? It has to do with how you see yourself in whatever situation you are in. The slave was FREE IN CHRIST; the free man was ENSLAVED TO GOD. We are in HIM ... in His Will ... either way. Pursuing freedom from your slave issue will result in your living AS IF you are NOT free in Christ and your choices and viewpoints will all be found in SLAVERY TO MEN ... AND THEIR SYSTEMS. Yuck!

Until next time .....
scoopfully yours,
the shovel (aka Jim)

Comments

“What was Paul’s REAL[emphasis Adam’s]message in all of that? It has to do with how you see yourself in whatever situation you are in. The slave was FREE IN CHRIST; the free man was ENSLAVED TO GOD. We are in HIM … in His Will … either way. Pursuing freedom from your slave issue will result in your living AS IF you are NOT free in Christ and your choices and viewpoints will all be found in SLAVERY TO MENAND THEIR SYSTEMS. Yuck!”-Jim I have to wonder just how far reaching this reality actually is? I mean are we not attempting to ESCAPE every waking moment of our day?[ it does not matter WHAT we do for a job or who we are living with or who are friends are]Are we not basing our whole existence, our joy, our very life on the view point of the flesh? NO WONDER we can not bare the experience of each and every moment.-Adam Set your mind on things above!
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These comments were all transferred over from the original website


Posted: December 13, 1999 by Jenny

dear Jim,

Hi brother. Good to hear from you, as always. Thanks for the scoop! It is good and much needed. I just went through a whole week of encouraging a sister to look at Christ instead of herself and her feelings. Not sure if our Lord broke through the chains. We can only lead one to Christ, but we can't make them eat and drink! And we can't make them stay there. He won't either. He gives us choices all day long.....walk in HIs Spirit or walk in our flesh. Funny thing is that it's easier to walk in His Spirit. That's done by just resting in HIm, depending on Him. To walk in my flesh takes a lot of striving and sweat on my part and it's never fun. To chose to remember HIm is so much easier and it gets easier with practice. The miraculous thing is that His Life puts to death the deeds of the body (flesh). It's a natural process by HIs power. So, we choose HIm instead of our perceptions and feelings. And just in choosing to remember Him, His life is manifested. The rest just falls to the ground where it belongs.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. This new year is going to be great!

Blessings in Christ,


Posted: December 13, 1999 by John

« Jim - to some degree I think you are wrong. I don't think that being regenerated means that every thing I do say or think from this point on is smack dab in the middle of God's will.»

It all depends by what you mean by "being in God's will." If you are speaking of God's sovereign will, then ALL things that happen are in the will of God, whether to believer or unbeliever.

On the other hand, Ephesians 6:6 commands believers (specifically servants in this passage) to "do the will of God from the heart." 1 Thessalonians 4:3 describes the will of God as being "your sanctification" and then explains the significance of this as being set apart from fornication. In these instances, the will of God seems to be a reference to the revealed or commanded will of God.

John

My response to John


Posted: December 13, 1999 by Eddie

Brother, there is nothing like a good challenge. Like you, I get those everyday of the week. It not only makes for an interesting conversation and makes one think, but it also helps us grow, learn about ourselves and others. Some of my best friends have been those who in the past and sometimes in the present - although not as much - have questioned my biblical insights and theology. We have learned from each other so much that we've grown strong enough in grace and in Christ to love each other dearly and un-conditionally.

I get very suspicious when a person goes along with everything that its written and said. I believe it was Darwin or Einstein who said: "Never stop questioning, for when we stop questioning we stop learning." I think for the most part people, especially Christians are afraid of change, that when challenged at WHAT -not WHO or WHOM - they believe, they easily become offended, defensive and insulted. I used to be like that during the my days of legalism. Thank God for freedom. Some of us may be bound by habits, others with emotional problems and others may find themselves as slave to some religious system. But as long as we are free in Christ and know that it is Christ, Minus Us, Plus Nothing; that's what really matters.

Grace and Peace


Posted: December 13, 1999 by Cindy

Jim,

I really enjoy your letters and last evening my daughter was doing school work on the computer and she checked the e-mail for me and said I had a new shove letter. I said well, I will check it out in the morning. Well, I went to look for it and it was gone. I can't for the life of me figure out where it went but I don't want to miss any of your letters. I really enjoy reading them. If I had the internet I would look up the rest of your stuff. Currently we only have e-mail we have no online service. I'm a real fan of your digging and all your insight. So, please re-send your last one to me. Thanks


Posted: December 13, 1999 by Debbie

You're right,

To be free in Christ means we have to free ourselves from the clutches of other things grabbing us off the street. Or that we let takeover our lives. Be it food, (ouch) credit cards, our bodies, shopping, fun. We can choose to be our old selves or choose to live with intationality in Christ. None of us are perfect so we will make mistakes along the way. But we need to choose Christ. Once we have said Lord Jesus be Lord of my life. We don't have to do anything. But God does desire us to become more Christlike. We are suppose to be an example. Not a bad example either. People are watching us, How do we react?, How do we interact? How do we handle unfairness? How do we handle success?

So Mr. Minker are you, Sherri, Jim and I going to have time to celebrate (with us) before Christmas?

Debbie


Posted: December 13, 1999 by Ken

Hello, Jim. I've received your last two Shoveletters on being in God's will and our personal decision-making. As usual, you've given me something to think about. Brother, I agree that being in Jesus Christ (being a Christian) is the will of God, but there's more to being in His will than being alive in Jesus Christ. If being born again were all that mattered, then much of NT's letters would have been shortened, because there'd be no need to address the mess/foolishness of our attempting to live independent of Christ and the issues of the flesh. (In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the words to the seven churches would have been different, don't you think ?)

I've done some "research" on the will of God and I offer these Scriptures and thoughts to you. May the Lord show each of us what is and is not His will, show us how He defines it, and we take to heart the importance of what He reveals to us.

Romans 12:1,2 ... we offer ourselves to the Lord, we let our our minds be renewed, and then we "prove", understand, the will of God. Yielding to Him, agreeing to be turned, changed, opens us to the will of God.

Ephesians 5:17 ... the Lord wants us to understand His will, to live and walk wisely.

Colossians 1:9, 10 ... the Holy Spirit led Paul to pray and to write about the church being filled with the knowledge of His will, so that we may live/walk worthy of the Lord, please Him, being fruitful, etc. Being in His will is not an "automatic" thing; we are dependent on the Lord to fill us. From those verses alone, I see that the will of God is having a heart attitude of being led by Jesus Christ, moment by moment, day by day, walking with Him, focusing on Him, and letting Him change (improve !!) our understanding, our activities, our walk, etc. The only way to have continuous life is to keep abiding, relying upon Jesus to minsiter life to us. Our doing, our activities, will come from having the right heart attitude (being in His will). First the heart and then the activities. (Just like Jesus said He only spoke what he heard from the Father and He only did what He saw His Father doing.)

John 7:17 ... if we want to do His will, God will reveal it, and will "validate" Jesus' words and His authority.

John 4:34 ... Jesus "fed" off of doing the Father's will, and so do we. Spiritual nourishment comes from the will of God.

Mark 3:35 ... Jesus identifies the family of God as those who do the will of the Father.

1 John 5:14,15 ... We should live in confidence, because when we want/ask what He wants (when we want His will), the Lord will answer "yes". Using the reverse logic, if we want something other than His will, confidence will elude us, because we are asking ignorant of or against His will.

1 John 3:22,23 ties in to this. We receive from Him what we ask because we are "in line" with Him ... we are living a life of love for Him and others that He blesses, supports, grows.

1 Thess. 4:3 ... being set apart to God and for God is His will. We belong to Him.

Philippians 2:12, 13 ... God does work His will in us, and we are to take seriously our relationship with Him, wanting to mature and live with depth. It's important that we do His will from the heart ... Ephesians 6:6.

James 4:15 ... He controls our lives. His will is supreme and we rest in His plans for us.

Revelation 4:11 ... God made everything, and every thing exists and was created by His will. It also occured to me that any time Scripture mentions something we are to do "always", or "without ceasing", this must be the will of God for us. In this "category" is giving thanks (Ephesians 5:20), rejoicing, praying, and thanking the Lord (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Also, the will of God is live without complaining and disputing (Phil. 2:14). We are to always act, to "do all" to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whatever we do, it is to be in the name of Jesus Christ (not in my name or any one elses) and we are to give Him thanks to the Father (Colossians 3:17). And, in this category of "all things" is to "do it" with the ability that God supplies (Not from our own wisdom, strength, means, etc. but from Jesus Christ) ... so that the Lord will be glorified.

Scripture says we know in part and as a sister has told me before "I sure ain't got the whole loaf." Jesus does. He knows us and told us that apart from Him we can do nothing. he also told us we are complete in Him. He completes us !! I trust the Lord to lead us, correct us, and mature us as we focus on Him and love and obey Him. Father, thank You that You want us to understand Your will. Please reveal Yourself to us more and more, and please change us with Your perfect love.

"Now may the God of Peace Who brought up Jesus Christ from the dead, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." -- Hebrews 13:20,21

With love, from your brother, Ken


Hello Ken ... it is so good to hear from you again!

I so much appreciate your taking the time to write to me with your concerns. :) Please know that anything I write to you here is not an attack in any way, okay? You are quite a thinker, and I really love to see it! I plan on stimulating your thoughts, so I hope you don't mind.

You made the statement: « If being born again were all that mattered, then much of NT's letters would have been shortened, because there'd be no need to address the mess/foolishness of our attempting to live independent of Christ and the issues of the flesh. »

You're making some pretty heavy-duty assumptions here! First, you pose this as if I have said or insinuated that "being born again (is) all that mattered." I didn't ... and I don't. Now, if I didn't, then you have posed the rest of your letter based on an assumption that I don't hold. Hmmm? Could be?

Another assumption I think you're making is a limitation on "being born again". What I mean is that, by your question, you don't think the reality of being born again applies to a good portion of the letter. Now, I think I know where you're coming from, for I used to say much the same. Where I came from I understood "being born again" as how we got eternal life ... or how we secured our place in heaven. The sense of it evolved over the years for me, but the concept of it being the "entrance into this life" is how I saw it. That concept is very foreign to me anymore ... praise God! I think you oughta consider that some more. :)

Thirdly, your assumption suggests that I don't deal with the "mess/foolishness of our attempting to live independent of Christ and the issues of the flesh." I find this very strange in view of the fact that our attempts at living independent of Christ is mostly what I deal with in my writings ... for the lies and deceptions we hold to are what I challenge. As I get to know people and I begin dealing one on one with them (or even in small groups I meet with) I will get right in their face about "issues of the flesh" and how these things are so totally absurd. If we continue to correspond (which I hope), expect to be confronted on some specifics. :) Please don't take that the wrong way. Actions reveal what's happening in you. If you are believing lies about yourself and about those around you then you act correspondingly. The problem is that it is not usually apparent HOW one thing relates to the other and it is much easier to deal with the sin than with the person. That's how we live legalistically toward each other. The reality is that it ALWAYS comes back to how we are viewing life ... either by "the flesh" or by "the Spirit"; either death or life.

To tell you the truth on my study habits in the past few years, I have found myself enjoying the passages that are often called the "practical" sections of the letters of the apostles. Such as in Ephesians, I've definitely been reading the last three chapters the most. Same with many of the others. As far as the Revelation, the part of it I read the most is the letters to the Churches. Seeing the reality of Christ in such a life-giving way has given new life and insight to passages I shied away from in earlier years. The context of each individual letter as a whole has opened my eyes to the life Paul spoke of to the people he wrote. One of my favorite letters is 1 Corinthians! Talk about some heavy-duty stuff he dealt with there, huh? But I love it! I love seeing WHY he addressed the issues he did and HOW he addressed them is NOT how most believers address similar issues.

Any way, I will be dealing with a lot more about "the will of God" in upcoming Shoveletters. I forgot to mention that at the end of the last one, which turned out to be pretty cool as the possibility that I was finished may have elicited a few extra letters than had I written that in there. This has given me a little more insight to how people are viewing what I have written. I need the response in order to better address the things I do as I want to be more relevant to the needs of others.

I do very much appreciate what you wrote to me and hope that you will respond again! :)

Jim Minker

I think I understand what was so elusive before, for I used to attempt to apprehend it in a fixed, entirely imaginary/conceptual terms. It seems that in the intellectual mind is embedded the consciousness of contradiction, the perceiving of transgression through a given action. It is perfectly unable to apprehend the dynamics of this life. Or even of the natural life of the flesh; if it was capable of apprehending them, it wouldn’t have led even fleshly men to behave in a manner unnatural even to animals. So, simply live and you will live; but attempt to figure it out, and you will live in view of death? - georgi

“So, how do YOU handle these situations in YOUR life? Do you take it as an insult? Do you blow it off? Do you react irrationally in self-protection? Do you attack the one who challenges you? Do you seek out those who agree with you so as to fortify your position? Do you take a poll and then side with the most popular view? Do you gossip about and slander the one who challenges you? Do you label the objector so you can refer to him as one of “THEM”? Do you seek a feeling of peace so that your decision in the matter seems to be right?”-Jim

I love it! I can hear the joy of one who is set free from this stuff!

Adam

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Random Shovelquote: Heavenly accommodations (view all shovelquotes)

Because I was convinced that my heavenly accommodations depended upon how well I served the Lord, I pushed myself to study the Scriptures as Paul had seemingly instructed Timothy. source