BOOKNOTES & REVIEWS
CARING ENOUGH TO CONFRONT; The Love Fight, David Augsberger, Herald Press, 1980
Subtitle: How to understand and express your deepest feelings toward others.
From the Preface: When my thrust as a person -- my hopes, dreams, wants, needs, drives -- runs counter to your thrust, there is conflict. To sacrifice my thrust is to be untrue to the push and pull of God within me. To negate your thrust is to refuse to be reverent before the presence and work of God within you.
Back Cover: Speaking the truth in love -- or "truthing it in love," as Paul originally phrased it -- sums up the Christlike response to conflict. Discussing trust, anger, change, prejudice, blame, guilt, loyalty and conscience, the author describes a life-style for Christians who care enough to risk confronting others when differences become important. Especially for Christians who care deeply about relationships...
Chapter 1, Care-Fronting: "To confront effectively is to offer the maximum of useful information with the minimum of threat and stress... Speaking the truth in love is the way to right relationships... I can come to see conflict as natural, neutral, normal... Truth with love brings healing. Truth told in love enables us to grow. Truth in love produces change. Truth and love are the two necessary ingredients for any relationship with integrity."
New English Bible: Love in all sincerity... Care as much about each other as about yourselves (Romans 12:9, 16). Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men's sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance (1 Corinthians 13:5-7). Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you go on fighting one another, tooth and nail, all you can expect is mutual destruction (Galatians 5:14,15). No, let us speak the truth in love; so shall we fully grow up into Christ... Bonded and knit together by every constituent joint, the whole frame grows through the due activity of each part, and builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:15,16).
Do a mental rehearsal of both caring and confronting in conflicts you experienced today or anticipate tomorrow. Place the other person in a chair in front of you and hold out your left hand saying, "I do care, I want to respect you, I want your respect." Alternate by reaching out with the right hand to say, "But I want you to know how I feel. I want to tell you where I am. I have this goal in our relationship." Work both sides of yourself. Become aware of which is more difficult. In which are you least practiced? Stay with it until feelings of caring and statements of goal both become clear.
"Chapter 2, Truthing It: To love one another is to invite, support, protect that person's equal right to hear and be heard... When I speak I want to speak simply. To say what I mean in the clearest, shortest, frankest words I know. I want to reach out with my meanings to meet your meanings... I will not try to speak for you... I want to speak honestly. Truthing it is trusting others with my actual feelings and viewpoints. Avoiding honest statements of real feelings and viewpoints is often kindness, thoughtfulness, or generosity. More often it is the most cruel thing I can do to others. It is a kind of benevolent lying.
"Selective honesty is not honesty at all. I find myself using it (1) to avoid real relationships with others when I'm too rushed or bushed to give them any time; (2) to avoid clear confrontation with others; (3) to manipulate situations or facts to protect myself or others. I don't like such defense systems, no matter how comfortable they may seem. I want to be truthful in all situations. I want to pay others the compliment of believing they can handle honest feelings.
"Always giving in is no good. Accumulating grievances is even less helpful. Dishonest statements to cover it all is even worse.
"It is certain that a relationship will be only as good as its communication. If you and I can honestly tell each other who we are, that is, what we think, judge, feel, value, love, honor and esteem, hate, fear, desire, hope for, believe in and are committed to, then and then only can each of us grow. Then and then only can each of us be what he really is, say what he really thinks, tell what he really feels, express what he really loves. This is the real meaning of authenticity as a person: that my exterior truly reflects my interior. It means that I can be honest in the communication of my person to others. And this I cannot do unless you help me. Unless you help me [work and cooperate with me because I want us to grow together because of my love for you], I cannot grow or be happy or really come alive.
"When questions are used as concealed ways to make statements, or statements are made as concealed questions, non-constructive confusion results. The most frequently misused communication pattern is the question. Questions can be clever, coercive, or concealed ways or either offering opinions or manipulating others. Six of the most commonly used pseudo-questions are:
The leading question: "Don't you feel that... ?" "Wouldn't you rather... ?"
The punishing question: "Why did you do such a thing?"
The demanding question: "When are you going to do something about... ?"
The dreaming question: Asks for hypothetical answers; the function is to criticize.
The needling question: "What are you waiting for? What do you mean by that?"
The setting-up question: "Didn't you once say...? Isn't it true that you once...?" This maneuvers the other into a vulnerable position, ready for the hatchet.
"Why" questions are most often covert ways of attempting control... I will ask "what" and "how"... I want to give statements instead of asking questions... Love gives up the concealed weapons called questions and makes clear statements like: I care about you. I need you. I want your help. I want your respect. Love is honestly open in conversation. Love sets no traps.
A few simple guidelines for cleaning up fights are: the person who has a complaint should make the first move to discuss it; one complaint to a session; no trapping questions. just clear statements... "When you do it I feel..." "What I really want is..." Have the other repeat [it back to you]. Then respond with a clear yes, no, or compromise offer.... "Whatever you have to say," Jesus counseled, "let your 'yes' be a plain 'yes' and your 'no' a plain 'no' -- anything more than this has a taint of evil" (Matthew 5:37, Phillips). [An example is "Yes, but... " or "No, but... ".]
"I can't say no to the boss." To say "I can't" is seldom true. More often it's a way of avoiding responsibility for making a decision. "I'm a nice guy," you say to yourself. "I'm just to nice to people. I smile, I say yes -- yes -- yes, and yet inside I feel tired [of this]." As Jesus said, "Let your yes be a clear yes, and your no, no. Anything more has the taint of evil."
"Chapter 3, Owning Anger: Anger is a demand... Even though you seldom put the demands into words, they are there inside the feelings, energizing the resentment... Maturity comes through freeing others to live and grow without the imposition of controlling demands... 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'
" ...each of us is automatically 'defensive' in the face of perceived rejection... to demand by angry words or pouting that others recognize the preciousness of the self I am, and respond accordingly. Such demands fail because in making my demand I reject and ignore the very persons I want to love me;"
"Chapter 10, Peacemaking: Peacemaking begins by truly being there for others... It's much easier to tell a fellow man what to do about his hurt than to stand with him in his pain. It is much simpler to be a problem-solver for a sister than to share any part of her suffering... Finish the past by dropping old demands, canceling old criticisms and prejudices... Universal principals are values which... seek after justice for all God's creation. Immediate solutions have their place... Strategic solutions have their use... Temporary solutions are often the best we can achieve... peacemakers take a long view... are people of conscience... of internalized values, convictions and commitments. This can make them appear to be out of step with the status quo. They may in fact seem alienated... "That bunch of blue-nosed conservatives would pick me clean like a flock of vultures." ...But what does it do to you inside to keep your honest feelings hidden? ...Following the conscience is a uniquely human gift. ...In communities of outer-directed conformity, a conscience that varies from the mass mind will be feared as a dangerous force which may make a person an intolerable misfit, out of step with rank and file and, since different, someone to be excluded."
"Without conscientious wisdom, human beings become inhuman. Persons become unquestioning robots. And human community becomes a mass of pliable and pitiable puppets manipulated by the strings of any chance chain of command. With 'conscientious wisdom', women and men become persons of integrity, sensitive to values, committed to truth.... True, there are risks to following conscience. But more crimes have been committed in the name of duty and obedience to authority than in the name of conscience. 'Conscientious wisdom' is a love of truth... always demands courage because following the conscience is a vulnerable act. It exposes a woman or a man to ridicule, to anger, to public rejection, to shame, to suffering, even to violence... may be an act of faith. The faith that your decision is the most responsible choice open to you... that choosing the right thing is the best thing even though the cost seems staggering... that time will vindicate the rightness of your act even though friends may condemn you now."
COMPETENT TO COUNSEL, Jay Adams, Zondervan, 1970.
The author proceeds with the concept of ministers making themselves vulnerable to the literature and teachings of the various schools of psychology. The trouble with the tenants of psychology is that they mostly treat mental illness as a "sickness" rather than as "sin". Let's quote extensively from the Introduction to this book:
"...mental health propaganda advised... stern warnings against [ministers] counseling anyone with difficulties more serious than... the pages of books and pamphlets published by the Mental Health Association. Pastors were threatened with the possibility of doing serious harm to people if they did not refer."
"The Bible... says much about counseling people with personal problems... Kenneth Taylor's translation of Psalm 37:30-31 puts it well: 'The Godly man is a good counselor because he is just and fair and knows right from wrong'... James 5:14-16 seemed to confirm the importance of confession of sin... James seemed to say that patients should at least be asked to consider whether some of their difficulties might stem from sin."
"...the Bible describes homosexuality and drunkenness as sins, most of the mental health literature called them 'sickness' or 'diseases.' ...Gods Word said that the source of these problems lay in the depravity of man's fallen human nature."
"During the summer of 1965 we [Dr. O. Hobart Mowrer and the author] worked in two state mental institutions... we began to see people labeled 'neurotic, psychoneurotic, and psychotic' helped by confessing deviant behavior and assuming personal responsibility for it... Mowrer urged people to 'confess' their wrongs ...the people I met in the two institutions in Illinois were there because of their own failure to meet life's problems... they were there because of their unforgiven and unaltered sinful behavior... Reading Mowrer's book The Crisis in Psychiatry and Religion.. challenged the entire field of psychiatry, declaring it a failure, and sought to refute its fundamental Freudian presuppositions. Boldly he threw the gauntlet to conservative Christians as well. He asked, 'Has Evangelical religion sold its birthright for a mess of psychological pottage?"
Footnote, "This was my first introduction to group therapy. I now have come to the conclusion that such group activity is unscriptural and therefore harmful."
"...psychotherapy became a search into the past to find others... on whom to place the blame... He suffers from real guilt, not guilt feelings... He is not a victim of his conscience, but a violator of it... Problems may be solved, not by ventilation of feelings, but rather by confession of sin."
Chapter 2 is The Holy Spirit and Counseling. "Counseling is the work of the Holy Spirit. Effective counseling cannot be done apart from him. He is called the paraclete ("counselor") who in Christ's place came to be another counselor..."
Chapter 4 is What Is Nouthetic Counseling? The author take the Greek word nouthesis and noutheteo from Colossians 3:16, Romans 15:14, and Colossians 1:28, using the context of all three verses to come up with three aspects that are needed to translate the meaning from Greek to English, for which there is no exact English equivalent [much the same as there is no exact English equivalent for baptizo, so it is transliterated instead of translated].
"Nouthetic counseling always implies a problem, and presupposes an obstacle that must be overcome; something is wrong in the life of the one who is confronted... the word nouthesis focuses on both the confronter and the one confronted... The fundamental purpose of nouthetic confrontation... is to effect personality and behavioral change."
"The second element... is that problems are solved... by verbal means... in it's aims at straightening out the individual by changing his patterns of behavior to conform to biblical standards. "
"Specific biblical instances of such nouthetic activity may be seen in Nathan's confronting David after his sin with Uriah and Bathsheba, or Christ's restoring Peter after His resurrection."
"The third element in the word nouthesis has in view the purpose or motive behind nouthetic activity.... I Corinthians 4:14... 'I did not write these things to shame you but to confront you nouthetically as my beloved children.'... The goal must be to meet obstacles head on and overcome them verbally, not in order to punish but to help him." See II Timothy 3:16; 4:2.
"The author speaks of digging down and rooting out the problem and not just the surface manifestation. Sometimes counselors think they have success when they only have altered the person's surface manifestation of their problem... Counselors also fail by coming to conclusions too quickly... it is important for counselors to examine their own lives and their counseling practices in light of every failure they see in others."
"In Romans 15:14, Paul wrote: 'And concerning you my brethren, I myself am also convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish (nouthetically confront) one another.' Paul sets forth goodness and knowledge as qualifications for good counselors... that any Christian may engage in... In Colossians 3:16... he conditioned nouthetic confrontation upon a 'rich' knowledge of God's Word, skillfully applied in 'wisdom."
This reviewer does not recommend a seminary education, but perhaps Jay Adams sums up the answer to the title of his book on Page 61. "Counseling means, among other things, giving advice. The Holy Spirit uses counselors to right wrongs by the application of God's Word to human problems. Knowledge of Scripture does not mean merely the memorization and cataloging of facts. One in whom the 'word of Christ dwells richly' (Colossians 3:16), is one who knows the meaning of Scripture for his own life. Because he is capable of solving his own problems Scripturally, he is qualified to help others do so. Knowledge and goodness combine for this purpose, since one must have the welfare of the other person at heart to motivate him to spot wrong courses of behavior and endeavor to correct them. Goodness embraces both the involvement and empathetic concern about which something already has been said. It also comprises an enthusiasm of life in which Christ is apparent, and which thereby communicates hope to the counselee."
"An examination of Proverbs 1:1-7 shows that words of three sorts were used to explain what God means by wisdom. These words involve: (1) learning and knowledge; (2) practical skill in the application of general principals to concrete situations; (3) behavior with a covenantal-moral orientation. In short, wisdom is a skillful use of divine truth for God's glory. Knowledge and concern must be buttressed by skill in personal relations. Counselors who wish to counsel nouthetically must seek to grow most fully in these three elements."
THE MYTH OF MORAL JUSTICE, Thane Rosenbnaum, Harper Collins, 2004
"Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What's Right"
Much in our everyday lives revolves around the law, and we are bombarded daily by cultural images of lawyers and the legal system at work. At the same time, most people report that they don't trust lawyers and hold them and the legal system in very low esteem. Those who have had unfavorable experiences with the law have walked away bitter and resentful. Some have observed that lawyers operate according to their own professional worldview, one that is emotionally detached and unfeeling, overly logical, technical, narrow, bureaucratic, and insensitive to basic human emotions and moral principles.
The absence of moral conviction in the law makes us furious.
In The Myth of Moral Justice, law professor and novelist Thane Rosenbaum suggests that this paradox stems from the fact that citizens and the courts are at odds when it comes to their definitions of justice. They expect the law to do the right thing. Yet our legal system willfully ignores basic moral criteria. As a result, the justice system undermines truth, perpetuates secrets and lies, prevents victims from telling their stories, promotes adversarial enmity over community repair, and fails to equate legal duty with moral responsibility. Legal outcomes that make sense to lawyers and judges feel simply wrong to most people and enrage others.
Rosenbaum tackles complicated philosophical questions about our longing for moral justice. He also takes a critical look at what our legal system does to the spirits of those who must come before the law, along with those who practice within it. Rosenbaum reinforces his themes with artistic representations of lawyers and legal systems from the classic works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Franz Kafka, along with various important feature films that illuminate why our legal system fails to do what's right.
"Rosenbaum should be read by every law student in America." New York Times Book Review - Dahlia Lithwick (05/02/2004)
THE PRINCE, Niccolo Machiavelli, Penguin Books, 1961, 1995.
The Prince is the Bible of realpolitik. This famous treatise on statecraft holds such power to shock 'men of good will' that at the time Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was identified with Satan himself. In his own turbulent times, however, Machiavelli wasn't concerned with lofty ideals, but with government that would last. He drew on his own experience of office under the Florentine Republic. Here he states uncompromisingly what, in some degree, most governments do not profess to do...
The citation above is from the back cover of the book. Machiavelli was an evil genius who recognized the dark formula of applied politics. It reaches to the lowest depths of human nature and is devoid of morality. The only significant interest to a Christian of such knowledge is to it's exposure in the light of day in recognition that even people who call themselves Christian can sink to the darker side of human nature. We see it in church politics, church battles, and church splits, as well as in other aspects of our lives!
Machiavelli presents ungodly wisdom for staging a revolution. For our Church split analogy, let's call it "reform"; and as we proceed in studying Machiavelli, try and apply the analogy yourself. The most difficult government to topple is where the traditional old rich families are in control. It takes superior forces and a bloody revolution to overthrow the system. If you are patient and most cunning, you can undermine the system by misleading the old guard into thinking you are working for them while you do your dirty work. If you are victorious as planned, you do not gain the loyalty of a conquered old guard and they cannot be trusted because they will only be thinking of returning to power. You may have picked off the leaders one at a time, but you have to watch your back; you aren't going to last forever. [Hitler and Stalin had their days of glory but Hitler lost and Stalin was poisoned.] A younger government that is in the state of flux, is easier to conquer. It is less bloody. Sometimes it can be done by ingenuity rather than open warfare. This book is about the use and misuse of principalities and powers, everything done for political gain, with the ends justifying the means.
Christians tend to be very naive, not only about others but also about themselves. We are not exempt from getting into trouble, and when we get into our lower nature, even get involved in Church politics, the worst side of our human nature can surface without our ever realizing it. And, just like as in a divorce, there is seldom a guiltless party. We need to be shocked into the reality of our liabilities so that we can correct ourselves. Exposing the works of darkness will defeat the works of darkness.
People who call themselves Christian, even do the things described in The Prince in church politics, to some degree. Carnal Christians who think they know what's best for everybody else are dangerous! People who are selfishly ambitious for position and authority are dangerous! [See commentary under The Problem, Church Splits.]
THE TENDER COMMANDMENTS, by Ron Mehl, Multnomah Publishers, 1998
"The Ten Commandments are one of the most powerful examples of God's love in all scripture. Some people, of course, imagine it to be the exact opposite. They don't hear love in these statements, they hear the clink of chains and the rattle of padlocks." -- Ron Mehl
Once you've read Ron Mehl's exuberant reinterpretation of the Ten Commandments, you'll have a new understanding of the biblical contest that defines these simple guidelines for living -- not as harsh, restrictive rules, but as a tender love letter from a wise, all-knowing Father.
Devoting a chapter to each commandment, Ron shows how God uses them to remove the confusion about right and wrong in today's relativistic culture, protects us from the consequences of our own moral weakness, and guide our thinking and actions in every situation.
As Ron explains: "The Ten Commandments will keep us from destruction. Carefully heeding these ten warning signs in the power of the Holy Spirit will change the whole course of our lives. It will allow us to discover our destiny as a child of God."
Rediscover the Ten Commandments as a tender message of love from a protective and affectionate Father God.
TO TRAIN UP A CHILD, by Michael & Debi Pearl, The Church at Cane Creek, 1994, 1997.
This is the most practical book, of only 109 pages, that we've ever seen on raising children. It has proven methods that you have never read in any psychology book. The methods are very simple that you will feel stupid for not having thought of them yourself. They are simple solutions to big mysteries in solving those problems that you thought were impossible. The Introduction to the book is as follows:
"This book is not about discipline, nor problem children. The emphasis is on training of a child before the need to discipline arises. It is an apparent that most parents never attempt to train a child to obey. They wait until the child becomes unbearable and then explode. With proper training, discipline can be reduced to 5% of what many now practice. As you come to understand the difference between training and discipline, you will have a renewed vision for your family -- no more raised voices, no contention, no bad attitudes, fewer spankings, a cheerful atmosphere in the home, and total obedience from your children.
"Any parent with an emotional maturity level higher than the average thirteen-year-old can, with a proper vision and knowledge of the technique, have happy obedient children. This is not a theory; it is a practical reality which has been successfully applied many times over.
"A couple, stressed out with the conflict of three young children, after spending the weekend with us and hearing some of the principals, changed their strategy. One week later, they exclaimed, "I can't believe it; we went to a friend's house, and when I told my children to do something, they immediately, without question, obeyed."
Order from: The Church At Cane Creek, 1000 Pearl Road, Pleasantville, TN 37147. One book $3.89 + $1.60 S/H (U.S. Postal) = $5.49. Discounts for quantity.
TOTAL TRUTH, by Nancy Pearcey, Crossway Books, 2004.
"Liberating Christianity from It's Cultural Captivity" http://www.gnpcb.org/page/news.2004.08.09
Does God belong in the public arena of politics, business, law, and education? Or is religion a private matter only—personally comforting but publicly irrelevant?
In today’s cultural etiquette, it is not considered polite to mix public and private, or sacred and secular. This division is the single most potent force keeping Christianity contained in the private sphere—stripping it of its power to challenge and redeem the whole of culture.
In Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey offers a razor-sharp analysis of the public/private split, explaining how it hamstrings our efforts at both personal and cultural renewal. Ultimately it reflects a division in the concept of truth itself, which functions as a gatekeeper, ruling Christian principles out of bounds in the public arena.
How can we unify our fragmented lives and recover spiritual power? With examples from the lives of real people, past and present, Pearcey teaches readers how to liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity. She walks readers through practical, hands-on steps for crafting a full-orbed Christian worldview.
Finally, she makes a passionate case that Christianity is not just religious truth but truth about total reality. It is total truth.
"Pearcey found her way to the Swiss retreat, and the intellectually rigorous faith, of the Calvinist maverick Francis Schaeffer. This book continues the Schaeffer-inspired project that Pearcey and Chuck Colson began in How Now Shall We Live?—awakening evangelical Christians to the need for a Christian "worldview," which Pearcey defines as "a biblically informed perspective on all reality." Pearcey gives credibly argued perspectives on everything from Rousseau's rebellion against the Enlightenment, to the roots of feminism, to the spiritual poverty of celebrity-driven Christianity. She also provides a layperson's guide to the history of America's anti-intellectual strain of evangelicalism."
THE TRAGEDY OF AMERICAN COMPASSION, by Marvin Olasky, Regnery Publishing, 1992, 1995.
The tragedy is that Christian charity has been replaced by a welfare State that has created poverty and a weaken society. Marvin Olasky is a scholar at the Heritage Foundation. This book was recommended by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich. It gives a history with good examples of the success of Christian charity in the United States and shows the tragic results of Christians allowing the government take over the role of charity. It also shows how the current welfare system perpetuates poverty upon succeeding generations of welfare recipients. It also discusses the root, spiritual causes of material poverty.
"This is the most important book on welfare and social policy in a decade. Period." --William J. Bennett, Editor, The Book of Virtues
The author's closing statement: "Certainly, our political leaders can break down programmatic barriers to compassion, but isn't it time we realize that there is only so much that public policy can do? Certainly it's good to "empower" the poor so they are not in thrall to the welfare establishment, but isn't it time to realize that only a richness of spirit can battle a poverty of soul?
"Most of us have grown up with personal peace and affluence, to use theologian Francis Schaeffer's phrase, as a great goal. We like the way a welfare system, corrupt and inefficient though it is, removes the burden of basic material care from our consciences, and protects us from the mean streets that we traverse only by day. We react to any prospect of removing the wall of pseudo-compassion in the same anxious way some reacted to changes in Central Europe: agreed, the unbreached Berlin Wall was an atrocity, but it symbolized for four decades a certain sad stability. We had become accustomed to it's face, as we have become accustomed to the welfare system. Nevertheless, we need to realize that we do not increase compassion by expanding it to cover everything. Instead we kill a good word by making it mean too much, and nothing.
"Change in poverty-fighting is needed, but Americans need to be clear about the reasons for change. Governmental welfare programs need to be fought not because they are too expensive -- although, clearly, much money is wasted -- but because they are inevitably too stingy in what is really important, treating people as people and not as animals. At the same time, the crisis of the modern welfare state is not just a crisis of government. Too many private charities dispense aid indiscriminately and thus provide, instead of points of light, alternative shades of darkness. The century-old question -- does any given "scheme of help ... make great demands on men to give themselves to their brethren? -- is still the right one to ask.
"Each of us needs to ask that question not in the abstract, but personally. We need to ask ourselves: Are we offering not coerced silver, but our lives? If we talk of crisis pregnancies, are we actually willing to provide a home to a pregnant young woman? If we talk of abandoned children, are we actually willing to adopt a child? Most of our twentieth-century schemes, based on having someone else take action, are proven failures. It's time to learn from the warm and hard heads of earlier times, and to bring that understanding into our own lives."
TRUE SPIRITUALITY, Francis Schaeffer, Tyndale House Publishers, 1971
Francis Schaeffer is the author of
Escape from Reason
The God Who Is There
Death In The City
Pollution and the Death of Man
The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century
The Mark of the Christian
The Church Before the Watching World
How Shall We Then Live
True Spirituality is about the reality of being a Christian and what the Bible says about the meaning of the finished work of Christ for our present lives.
Chapter One - The Law and the Law of Love: "...it is impossible even to begin living the Christian life, or to know anything about true spirituality, before one is a Christian. And the only way to become a Christian is neither by trying to live some sort of a Christian life nor by hoping for some sort of a religious experience, but rather by accepting Christ as Savior... There are no exceptions, Jesus said a totally exclusive word: 'No man cometh unto the Father but by me."
"There is a new birth, and then there is the Christian life to be lived... Often, after a person is born again... he is given a list of things, usually of a limited nature, and primarily negative. Often he is given the idea that if he does not do this series of things (whatever this series of things happens to be in the particular country and location and at the time he happens to live) he will be spiritual."
" ...true spirituality, is more than refraining from a certain list of taboos, in a mechanical way. Because this is true, there almost always comes into being another group of Christians which rise up and begins to work against such a list of taboos: ...Both of these groups can be right and both can be wrong, depending on how they approach the matter. (Romans 14:15) 'But if thy brother be grieved because of thy food, now walkest thou not in love. Destroy not him with thy food, for whom Christ died.' This is the law of God. In a very real sense there is no liberty here. It is an absolute declaration that we are to do this. It is perfectly true that we cannot be saved by doing this; we cannot do this in our own strength; and none of us do this perfectly in this life. Nevertheless, it is an imperative."
"... the Christian life and true spirituality are not to be seen as outward at all, but inward... The commandment not to covet is an entirely inward thing... Any time that we break one of the other commandments of God, it means that we have already broken this commandment, in coveting... Coveting is always internal; the external manifestation is a result... When I do not love the Lord as I should, I am coveting against the Lord. And when I do not love my neighbor as I should, I am coveting against him."
"...if I am listening even in a poor fashion to the direction of the Holy Spirit, I can no longer feel proud... In this life I can never say, 'I have arrived; it is finished; look at me - I am holy.' When we talk of the Christian life or true spirituality, when we talk about freedom from the bonds of sin, we must be wrestling with the inward problems of not coveting against God and men, of loving God and men, and not merely some set of externals... Does this mean that any desire is coveting and therefore sinful? The Bible makes plain that this is not so - all desire is not sin... desire becomes sin when it fails to include love of God and men... I am to love God enough to be contented; second, I am to love men enough not to envy... When I lack proper contentment, either I have forgotten that God is God, or I have ceased to be submissive to him." (Ephesians 5:3-4, Romans 8:28, Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 2:7, Colossians 3:15.)
"The beginning of men's' rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart... When we say we live in a personal universe and God the Father is our Father, to the extent that we have less than a trusting attitude we are denying what we say we believe. We say that as Christians we have by choice taken the place of creatures before the Creator, but as we show a lack of trust we are exhibiting that at the moment, in practice, we have not really so chosen."
"As Christians we say we live in a supernatural universe and that there is a battle, since the fall of man, and that this battle is in both the seen world and the unseen world... If we really believe this, first we can be contented and yet fight evil, and second, surely it is God's right to put us as Christians where he judges best in the battle."
"In a Christian understanding of contentment, we must see contentment in relation to these things. To summarize, there is a personal God. He is my Father since I have accepted Christ as my Savior. Then surely when I lack trust, I am denying what I say I believe. At the same time, I say there is a battle in the universe, and God is God. Then, if I lack trust, what I am really doing is denying in practice that he has a right, as my God, to use me where he wants me in the spiritual battle which exists in the seen and unseen world. The trust and contentment must be in the Christian framework,"
"Natural desires have become coveting against a fellow creature... when we have a mentality that would give us secret satisfaction at his misfortune. In 1 Corinthians 10:23,24 I am told that my longing in love should be to seek the other man's good and not just my own: 'All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.' 1 Corinthians 13:4,5 '...love envieth not' ...When we read these things and understand that failure in these areas is really coveting, a lack of love... it destroys any superficial view of the Christian life."
Chapter Two - The Centrality of Death: "Pressure is put upon us by a world that does not want to say 'no' to self - not just for a minor reason, but out of principle, because they are determined to be the center of the universe. When we step out of that very black perspective and into the perspective of the kingdom of God, then these negatives which are laid upon us take an entirely different aspect."
"In the first commandment is set forth a call to say a strong negative towards wanting to be in the place of God. This is the key to the whole thing: wanting to be in the center of the universe. We are, by choice, to die to this... The last commandment, 'Thou shalt not covet,' shows that these negatives are not related just to outward behavior, but to inward attitudes. Here is our death, in reality... We are to say 'no' by choice - to die to self - at the point when we are in the midst of a living, moving life which could want the things and find enjoyment in them... in the midst of the moving of life, surrounded by a world that grabs everything in rebellion first against God and then against its fellow men, we are to understand what Jesus means when he talks about denying ourselves in regard to that which is not rightfully ours."
Chapter Four - In the Spirit's Power: "True spirituality is not achieved in our own energy. The 'how' of the kind of life we have spoken of, the true Christian life, true spirituality, is Romans 6:11: 'Recon ye also yourselves' (there is the faith) then the negative aspect: 'to be dead indeed to sin'; but then the positive: 'but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' This is the 'how', and there is no other. It is the power of the crucified, risen, and glorified Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, by faith."
Last Chapter - Substantial Healing in the Church. "Church' in Greek (Ecclesia) simply means 'that which is called out,' called out of a lost humanity.
...with the Church of Jesus Christ. The real unity is not basically an organizational unity; the real unity is not of one part with the other parts, but a unity in which each part is under the control of the Head and therefore and therefore function together. The unity of the Church is basically the unity of the head controlling each of the parts. If I as an individual, or if groups of Christians, are not under the leadership of the Head, the Church of Jesus Christ will be functioning like hands that cannot find each other; the whole thing will be broken and a 'spastic' situation will exist in which the Church functions in a most disjointed way. This is not only in the whole Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is also true in any specific group of Christians."
"There is a very special calling, a special oneness in Christians working together - a unity that is not merely organization or abstract. It will not be perfect in this life, but on the basis of the finished work of Christ there should be a substantial restored relationship among Christians in this life. ...The proper legal aspects of the Church will deal first with doctrine, because otherwise the body is telling lies about the Head."
"Men will not always be led to apply the same action at the same moment in regard to the Bible's command concerning the practice of the principle of purity of the visible church, but if the principle is given up as such, the proper legal circle falls to the ground just as certainly as if we cast aside Christ's and the Bible's command concerning the proper legal aspect of marriage. So the church has its legal relationships in regard both to doctrine and life."
"Because of the fall it will not be a perfect exhibition - we must keep saying that. But as Christians it can be and should be a true one, and of all relationships this is certainly the calling of the Church as the body of Christ. The matter of the proper legal circle, the battle of false doctrine and sin, will never come to an end in this life."
"What should the Church consciously be then? The Church consciously (and my emphasis is very strongly on the word consciously) should be that which encourages its members in the true spiritual life, in true spirituality - in that which we have set forth in this book. It should encourage them in freedom in the present life from the bonds of sin, an in freedom in the present life from the results of the bonds of sin. It should encourage substantial healing in their separation from themselves and a substantial healing in their separation from their fellowmen, especially fellow Christians."
"No matter how legally right a Church is, if it does not provide an environment conducive to these things, it is not what it should be."
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