Man-Control (2)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

(Part 2) The very concept of “self-control” implies that there is a battle raging between a “self” that is divided.  It implies that our “self” desires to do what it should not, requiring us to somehow control it.  Jesus instructs us in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  It is on a “daily” basis that our “self” produces desires that need to be denied or controlled.

We get a glimpse just how serious of a battle this is in Matthew 5:29-30 when Jesus tells us, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

Hello… This is Tom.  Suddenly, the previous author (Chad H.) has no hands or eyes and is therefore unable to finish this discussion.

Paul says that Christians should exercise self-control in all things as an athlete who is running a race for a prize, so let us not run aimlessly as one beating the air (1st Corinthians 9:24-26).  Self-control is saying no to sinful desires, even when it hurts.

Many of us grew up repeatedly hearing the anti-drug slogan, “Just Say No!”  How did that work out?  From the looks of drug use today I’d have to say not very well.  The Christian way of self-control is NOT to “Just Say No.”  The problem therein lies with the word “just.”  Christians say “no” in a special way… through their faith in the power of Christ.

The difference between worldly self-control and godly self-control is crucial.  It is a matter of who will get the glory for the victory?  Are we attempting to get the glory by doing things on our own, or are we looking to give Christ glory as we depend on His power as our strength?

It is important for a Christian to understand that self-control is a gift.  It is a fruit of Holy Spirit: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… self-control” (Galatians 5:22).  Romans 8:13 states, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  May we all understand the importance of understanding the it is “by the Spirit” that we may put to death the deeds of our bodies… This includes our minds.  It is not by our might or power, but by His Spirit that we obtain self-control in any area of our life.  Below you will find a few examples of what a self-controlled life looks like.  Can you use help in any of these areas, or other areas?  Find your strength in God’s Spirit.

People with self-control master their moods. They do not let their moods master them. Most of what gets done in the world is accomplished by people who do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it: “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” (Proverbs 25:28)

People with self-control watch their words. They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths: “Be careful what you say and protect your life. A careless talker destroys himself.” (Proverbs 13:3)

People with self-control restrain their reactions.  How much can you take before you lose your cool? “If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it.” (Proverbs 19:11)

People with self-control stick to their schedule. If you don’t determine how you will spend your time, then others will decide for you: “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

People with self-control manage their money. They learn to live on less than what they make and they invest the difference. The value of a budget is that it tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went! “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” (Proverbs 21:20)

People with self-control maintain their health. That way they can accomplish more and enjoy their achievements: “Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body ….” (1 Thessalonians 4:4)

“For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Blessed is best!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Man-Control (1)

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28)

Most of us only need to look down at our bellies for one second to realize that we could improve our of self-control.  If we proceeded to look into our heart and mind it would even be more obvious just how much we need greater self-control in our lives.  We each struggle in our own ways with battles that cause us to do the things we do not want to do (Romans 7:15).  Some matters are minor or trivial, other issues can cause deep separation in our ability to have a deep and personal relationship with God.

Got Questions.org discusses self-control like this, “It is important to understand that self-control is a work of the Holy Spirit, not a work of the individual. After all, Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the Christian. As we are merely the branches upon which the Vine (Christ) hangs the fruit He produces (John 15:1-8), it is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that gives Christians the power and ability to exercise self-control so that we will not be mastered by the “cravings of sinful man.” As Paul said, “God did not give us a Spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Indeed, Christians are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), who helps us in our weakness (v.26), which makes us able to say “no” to sin.

In 2nd Corinthians 6:16 we are instructed on how our bodies are the temple of God.  In  2nd Corinthians 7:1 we are told that “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse every defilement of the body and spirit, bringing holiness to completions in the fear of God.”  This cannot be accomplished without self-control, and true self-control is found only in the Spirit of God.  What areas in your life would benefit for God helping you exercise self-control?  Reflect hard and be sincere… what things in your life are  denying you from experiencing a deeper and more intimate relationship with our amazing God? I challenge you to write them down, email them to me and I’ll post them in next weeks blog.

That last sentence was a joke… But just let that soak in for a moment.  The reality is that most of us (probably all) would have a problem letting others know the content and depth of our struggles.  How embarrassing, humiliating, and destructive that would be.  Yet, God knows everything and for so many this seems to not be much of a concern.  Brothers, I share these things not as a man who has got a firm handle on all of this.  In fact, I write it because it is something that I’m dealing with in my own life.  Self-control is not easy, any attempts to achieve it must be Christ-centered for maximum results.    Men, this is a huge topic that deserves our full attention.  There is not one of us that would not benefit from more self-control in at least one (or fifty) areas of our life.  I’ll end this blog post for now, but we’ll continue exploring this topic next week.  For now I’d ask that you take a few moments and carefully read the scriptures below. Meditate on them over the next week, asking God to reveal areas in your life of which you need more control.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

But I discipline my body and keep it under control… (1 Corinthians 9:27)

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)

But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined (Titus 1:8)

Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:12)

Blessed is Best!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

After God's Heart

“For I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.” (Psalm 119:47-48)

David, “A man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22)  Let me get this right…   King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, He then tried to cover up her pregnancy, and when he failed with that, he had her husband Uriah the Hittite killed. This was not the only sin recorded of David in the Bible, I’ll assume however it is enough to question what made God say in regards to David, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1st Samuel 16:7)

Adultery… Conspirator…. Murder…  and yet he was a man after God’s own heart.  I just had to mention that again because I myself have a hard time processing how that can be.  It is indeed true, David did all those things and they brought serious consequences upon him later in life.  God is faithful in forgiving sin.  One thing is certain—sin always pays back both believers and unbelievers with boredom, guilt, shame, loneliness, confusion, emptiness, loss of purpose, and loss of rewards.  His forgiveness does not mean that there will not be consequences.  Let’s take a brief look at just some of the consequences in David’s life after his terrible sin.

  • David and Bathsheba’s son dies

  • David’s son, Amnon, rapes David’s daughter, Tamar  

  • David’s son, Absalom , avenges the rape of his sister, Tamar and kills his brother, Amnon

  • Absalom plots to succeed David as King of Israel by positioning himself among the people in an attempt to seize power from his father.  Betrayal by a son.

  • Absalom, is publicly having sexual relations with David’s wives (concubines)

It was a youthful David who killed the champion warrior Goliath, victorious because he trusted in God for the victory, not himself.  David killed many of Israel’s enemies in battle. Despite several opportunities, David refused to kill King Saul, although Saul  pursued David in an attempt to kill him out of mad jealousy.  King David is included in the “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11.  David was an ancestor of Jesus Christ. Jesus was often called “Son of David.”

Are we talking about the same guy here?  If so, can any of us relate to David?  Ok, so I’ve never killed a giant… nor have I committed adultery (outside of my heart).  I’ve never attacked a lion or a bear, nor have I committed murder (outside of my heart).  But I’ve had my own great victories, and have suffered defeat in many struggle and battles.  David may be my favorite Old Testament Bible figure, he messed up bad in his life but there were some things about him that we can model in our own lives if we too want to be a man “after God’s own heart.”

First, David had absolute faith in God. David knew early on in life that God was to be trusted and obeyed. As we see in Scripture, David’s faith pleased God, and he is rewarded for it by the Lord.

Second, David absolutely loved God’s law. Of the 150 psalms in the Bible, David is credited for writing over half of them. Writing at various and often troubling times in his life, David repeatedly mentioned how much he loved God’s perfect Word. David “meditated” on God’s statutes.

Third, David was truly thankful. “I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O LORD, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 26:6-7). David’s life was marked by seasons of great peace and prosperity as well as times of fear and despair. But through all of the seasons in his life, he never forgot to thank the Lord for everything that he had. It is truly one of his finest characteristics.

Fourth, David was truly repentant. He had sinned against God and he admits it in 2 Samuel 12:13: “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’” Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance to God: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:1-2).

David made mistakes but demonstrated his faith seemingly on a daily basis which pleased the Lord.  David loved God’s law and he sought to follow it as best he could. He spent much time meditating on God’s word, trying to apply it to his own life.  Another important character trait that David exhibited was that he had the attitude of gratitude and was very thankful for his life. During his life he had all sorts of trouble, but David thanked God every day no matter the circumstances.  Finally, David was truly repentant. Let us not forget that he was a man just like us who sinned on a regular basis. But, despite his sin, he always loved God and sought to repent of those sins. He is a role model for all of us sinners who need to repent earnestly. David was indeed a man after God’s own heart.  May each of us attempt to do the same.  Blessed is Best!

Shared by: Chad Hellenthal

Mind Control

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil,

and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

Thoughts…  Every man has them.  Is anyone else thankful that others do not have the ability to read minds, or that our every thought does not get recorded and/or displayed for all to see?  Countless news casters have been busted sharing their thoughts when they were unaware that their microphone was turned on.  I’m not sure that I’d have a wife, friends, job, or even still be alive if my thoughts were not private.  Wait a second though, are our thoughts really private?  Does anybody want to debate the reality of God knowing our every thought?  Ouch!  If you don’t believe this (for starters) just check out Psalm 139:2 and 1st Chronicles 28:9.

How we think affects how we live.  Every action begins with a thought.  Every sin begins in our mind. When we control our thoughts; we control our behavior. There are some thoughts we can’t allow free reign in our minds.  Unforgiveness, lust, hatred, bitterness, and jealousy are just a few of the thoughts we must take captive. When Satan whispers these thoughts into our minds, we must immediately recognize them, and throw them out.  Failure to do so has impacts far greater than we can ever imagine.

We control our thoughts by submitting them to Christ.  We should ask ourselves; “Is what I am thinking about honoring to Christ?” “Am I allowing my thoughts to wander into areas that I know are contrary to my walk with Christ?”  Sorry men but I had to put that last statement in bold letters, and I’m sure everyone of you knows darn well… why!  One recent study reported that over 70% of men (secular and Christian) between the ages of 18-24 regularly view pornography. This blog posting is not intended to fully address that matter at this time (but we certainly will some time).  Let me just add that another survey revealed that 50% of Christian men are ADDICTED to internet pornography along with 37% of pastors admitting they struggle with it.  I’ve yet to even yet address the matter of LUST.

A quick glance, just one look, a stare, a thought… then another… where will our minds go from there?  If 50% of Christian men admit to struggling with pornography, what percent do you think would struggle with lust?  60%, 70%, 80%… I’ll say it again, OUCH!  I’m not here to accuse anyone or “play holier than thou.”  With 51% of pastors admitting internet pornography is a source of temptation, I think it is safe to assume the percent who may struggle with lust is even greater.  I’m learning of these statistics just now as I write this and am blown away as I am sure you are.  I mention all of this so that we may understand the importance of MIND CONTROL.

Our minds are the battlefield of our spiritual lives.  From the statistics above it is clear that many men are not prepared to do battle in this war ground.  Or, more accurately, accept the VICTORY they’ve already been given.  We will discuss this matter in further detail in the near future, if I talk much more about this it is going to turn into a book.  I just want to share a few scriptures with you.  I’ll ask that you read them carefully, meditate upon them and see what God speaks to you about them.  If you struggle with anything you’ve just read, know you are not alone.  Do not be ashamed.  Be honest. Be real.  Be a man.  Address the matter with a sincere heart.  God is amazingly willing and absolutely capable of leading you into victory in this area of your life.

Start by confessing your sin and your need for His healing power in your life.  If you are feeling really strong, confess this matter to someone and/or find an accountability partner.  Again, you are not alone and you need not feel ashamed. Read and meditate up these scriptures.  Blessed is Best!

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1st Corinthians 2:16)

But that is not the way you learned Christ!—  assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,   and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Proverbs 4:25)

It's My Prerogative

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  Romans 8:5     

Expectations and responsibilities… They are everywhere.  Deadlines, initiatives, decisions, meetings, the list goes on and on.  It is easy to get caught up in the pressures we face.  It is just as easy to rely upon our own selected methods of “unwinding.”   All of us have our preferred ways to relax and refresh.  Most of the ways we unwind are likely just fine as long as they are in moderation, and hopefully they do not completely exclude our wife and kids. Listen, I’m also a man and fully understand our need to have time completely to ourselves at times.  The awesomeness of doing something simple, mundane, brainless, fun, even a bit dangerous.

In a culture of hectic schedules and the relentless pursuit of productivity, we are tempted to measure our worth by how busy we are, by how much we accomplish, or by how well we meet the expectations of others.  A major challenge for many men is finding and making our 1:1 time with God a priority in our lives.  I think of Jesus’ words to Martha when she complained about Mary not helping her serve, “… you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:41-42)

It was her worry and distraction that prevented her from being truly present with Jesus… spending time with God.  How many of us are guilty of this?  Am I the only one with my hand raised?  There are several key strategies we can incorporate into our lives if we want to take our personal relationship with God to the next level.

  1. Deal with known sin

  2. Establish proper priorities

  3. Seize opportunities

I suspect we all want to have a more intimate relationship with our Savior.  It is easy to lose focus of our true purpose in life.  There is nothing more precious and eternally important than our desire to seek His face during our few years on this earth.  May I encourage and challenge you brothers to take your relationship with Jesus to the next level.  Blessed is Best!!

 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…” James 4:8

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