Is__________Ethical?

 What is Ethical?

According to Merriam-Webster Ethical is:

1 : of or relating to ethics <ethical theories>
2: involving or expressing moral approval or disapproval <ethical judgments>
3: conforming to accepted standards of conduct <ethical behavior>

I understand why this this question may cross our minds, but I dislike the question. Asking if a person “should” refrain from something, like asking whether it is “ethical” for a Christian to do something, usually leading to dead ends. One group of people may decide strongly for one position, another group of people argues against them, and around they go, accomplishing nothing except fracturing the relationships with an ever-growing number of artificial divisions.

Choose any ethical dilemma you like—drinking, sex, tattoos, porn….etc—and you will notice that they are all framed by the question, “What should a Christian do?” Each issue has its vocal proponents and staunch critics. The church is plagued by these prideful, destructive, and fruitless debates. Perhaps a more productive set of questions is: Why would a person want to participate? Why would a person want to watch it?

What is the motive behind the action? What is at the heart of the issue?

The Bible is never gray. Black and white and crystal clear. Unfortunately we as people like to pick and choose what verses we want to tag along with so our conscience is soothed.

The bible is not a collection of moralistic stories, but the unfolding story of God’s plan. The Hero of the Story is Jesus. We should want to know Jesus and love Jesus and understand his great love for us. We should want to learn the difference between moralism and grace; memorization and faithfulness to Jesus; religion and true love for God.

What does this action or desire have to do with my love and adoration toward God?

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Who is good enough?

Did you happen to see the AOL survey last week? If not, here is something you may find interesting…

What is the key to getting into heaven?

  • Living a good life. 65.5%
  • Having connections to someone at the top. 26.7%
  • Helping old ladies cross the street. 2.7%
  • Slipping St. Peter $20.00. 1.9%
  • Having a strong letter of reference. 0.5%
  • Making a deal with the devil. 1.2%
  • Telling a really good lie. 0.5%

Total votes 121,836

Are you going to heaven?

  • Yes. 89.8%
  • No. 10.2%

Total votes 143,309

(Source: http://www.aol.com)

Most of the answers are not really surprising, but did you notice how many more people responded to the second question (are you going to heaven?)  21,473 more folks opted to answer that simple question as opposed to the first one.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5)

There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them. (Acts 4:12)

Evidently, God’s survey would come out very different: one out of every one goes to hell without Christ!

Examine your life. What have you left undone? Or what have you done wrong? What if they were revealed to your neighbors, your family, the media? Would you fare any better than ____________? Truth be told, no one can withstand such scrutiny. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” 1 John 1:8 reads. Furthermore, we deceive ourselves if we think we do not sin in such a way that would bring such shame if exposed.

Apart from the gospel of grace, there is no hope. You will find no redemption in the faux tolerance of an unforgiving society. Yet if Jesus can forgive the very men like Paul who cheered his crucifixion, then he can forgive you, too, no matter what lurks in your past. Your good is not good enough. But his is. As Tim Keller often says, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

Special thanks to dare2share and Collin Hansen for their input in this post.

Living in Central New York and The Gospel

 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.   (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)

If someone performs an act of love toward you, there are four ways that you can see the depth of that love.

1. The Costliness of the Deed

One is by the costliness of the deed. How much inconvenience or sacrifice did it cost the one who loved you? The greater the sacrifice, the deeper the love. If it cost an afternoon of time and sweat, it is one degree of love. If it cost his life, it is another degree of love.

2. How Undeserving the Object of Love Is

A second way to see the depth of love is by the howundeserving you are of the act of love. Jesus said,

    If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not    even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers    only, what do you do more than others? Do not even    the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:46–47)

In other words the depth of our love is shown not just in the measure of our sacrifice but in whether we will give it to people who don’t return it—and who may not deserve it at all. The love that overwhelms us is the love that comes to us authentically from those we have deeply wronged.

3. The Greatness of the Benefit Secured

A third way to see the depth of love is by the greatness of the benefit that comes to us by the act of love. If a person claims to love us with sacrifice, but we are not really helped by their love, we might begin to wonder if this kind of love really means anything. Love is not just making a sacrifice. Love is making a contribution to someone’s life—at least that’s the intention. And the greater the gift, the more amazing the love. John wrote,

    See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that    we should be called children of God. (1 John 3:1)

The greatness of God’s love is seen in the incredible benefit of being made children of God.

4. The Freedom of the Act

Finally, we see the depth of love which someone shows to us by how free the act of love is. If, for ten or fifteen years, I tell my son to get his brother a birthday present, and even sometimes buy it for him so he’ll have something to give, that is one degree of love between brothers. But if, in his first year away from home at age nineteen, he calls, without a reminder from his parents, the week before his brother’s birthday and tells me he knows of a store where there is a special knife sharpener his little brother really wants, and asks me to take the money from his account and buy it for him, then love is manifest in a whole new way.

Jesus has loved us in all these ways to a degree that is beyond human comprehension.

Insecure? Counterfeit gods-Tim Keller

Nebuchadnezzar is a classic case study of how an “insecure man seeks to overcome his insecurity by a will-to-power…He pretends he is not limited”.

Human beings have very little real power over their lives. What sort of things in life are out of your control?

Nebuchadnezzar had taken personal credit for his rise to prominence.

Read 1Corinthians 4:6-7. 6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,[a] that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

How does remembering this truth prevent us from “taking pride in one man over against another”?

More intervention by God was necessary in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. Read Daniel 4:24-27.24 this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, 25 that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. 26 And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

 For what reason did God make Nebuchadnezzar like an ox? Is God being gracious or cruel?

Read Jeremiah 18:1-6. 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4And the vessel he was making of clay wasspoiled in the potter’s hand, andhe reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel,can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD.Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

How best are we to respond to the Potter when He chooses to remould, bend and squeeze us? How does having a long-term perspective help us in this situation?

Read Daniel 4:34-36. 34At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, andmy reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honoredhim who lives forever,

   for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,    and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 35all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,    andhe does according to his will among the host of heaven    and among the inhabitants of the earth;and none can stay his hand    orsay to him, “What have you done?”

36 At the same timemy reason returned to me, and forthe glory of my kingdom,my majesty and splendor returned to me.My counselors andmy lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness wasadded to me.

What is the biblical opposite of pride?

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t merely ponder God’s sovereignty, but rather, he praised the Almighty God. What does this tell us about the relationship between pride and worship?

 Nebuchadnezzar was restored and became greater than before. This deep pattern of grace has its climax in the cross. How does Jesus’s life challenge your desire for power and control? How can you become more like him?

 

What are you obsessed with? -Crazy Love by Franchis Chan

 “We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world. Would you be willing to pray this prayer? God, bring me closer to You … whatever it takes …” When we live in crazy love with Christ, we are not living in safety. We are called to take risks and follow Him no matter what the cost. That is the picture the Bible paints of the disciples, and it is what we are called to do as well.Let me leave you with several quotes about what an obsessed person looks like. Read over these slowly and apply them to your life.

  • People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.
  • People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress.
  • People who are obsessed with Jesus live lives that connect them with the poor in some way or another. Obsessed people believe that Jesus talked about money and the poor so often because it was really important to Him.
  • Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo. A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.
  • A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the sin of pride is always a battle. Obsessed people know that you can never be “humble enough,” and so they seek to make themselves less known and Christ more known.
  • People who are obsessed with Jesus do not consider service a burden. Obsessed people take joy in loving God by loving his people.
  • People who are obsessed with God are known as givers, not takers. Obsessed people genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world.
  • A person who is obsessed thinks about heaven frequently. Obsessed people orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is her in front of them.
  • A person who is obsessed is characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God, above and before every other thing and every other being.
  • People who are obsessed are raw with God; they do not attempt to mask the ugliness of their sins or their failures. Obsessed people don’t put it on for God; He is their safe place, where they can be at peace.
  • People who are obsessed with God have an intimate relationship with Him. They are nourished by God’s Word throughout the day because they know that forty minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them for a whole week, especially when they will encounter so many distractions and alternative messages.
  • A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn’t depend on circumstances or the environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God.
  • A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the best thing he can do is be faithful to his Savior in every aspect of his life, continually saying “Thank You!” to God. An obsessed person knows there can never be intimacy if he is always trying to pay God back or work hard enough to be worthy. He revels in his role as child and friend of God.

Let me ask you again, are you obsessed with Christ? If you can’t answer that positively, then I urge you to fall crazy in love with Christ. This book is a great way to get started on the journey.

Morning Dedication- Puritan style

Almighty God, as I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Thy care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to thy ways. Mould me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay. May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Thy praise. Let those around see me living by Thy Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clad in the entire armour of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings.  Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands. May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth. Order this day all my communications according to Thy wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one.If my life should end today, let this be my best day.

Be Unto Your Name- Robin Mark

We are a moment You are forever God of ages,
 God before time
 We are a vapor You are eternal God everlasting Reigning on high…
[Chorus:] Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
 Higher praises Honor and Glory Be unto your name
 We are the broken You are the Healer
Jesus Redeemer Mighty to save
 You are the love song We’ll sing forever
 Bowing before You Blessing Your Name
[Chorus:] Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Higher praises Honor and Glory Be unto your name  (Repeat x 2)
[SOLO:] Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
 Higher praises Honor and Glory Be unto your name
[CHOIR:] BE UNTO YOUR NAME…