A Fishy Freedom

fish

People aren’t as free as we think, nor should we be as free as we would like.

This is not a welcome idea in today’s world, or in any world, for that matter. Autonomy and freedom in all areas, the right to choose among many options or to create an option that doesn’t yet exist is taken as the hallmark of human progress and evolution.

But for such an ideal to truly work would require a fundamental transformation of our nature.

Consider a fish.

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Sometimes we’re going to give people fish, sometimes we’re going to teach them to fish, but all the time we want to attempt to introduce them to the Creator of fish.

John Babler, Journal of Biblical Counseling, 18:1.

When the Reward for Service is Opportunity for More Service

Lampstands, No. 8

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If we are not careful, Christians can begin to suppose that we serve others in order to get something else. But as Jesus instructed the church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13), the reward for clinging fiercely to God’s grace is the opportunity to give grace.

Set Proper Goals

The world and our own fleshly (sinful) nature suggest goals to us that would distract us from our calling, but the believer sets deliberate goals that reflect his calling. One goal for the believer is that he be kept from falling away, from apostasizing. Jesus says that those who “keep his word” he will keep from apostasy. God does not promise to keep believers from suffering, but he does promise to keep us from surrendering.

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God has so constituted man, implanting in him such a capacity for happiness, and such boundless and immortal desires for its possession, as can find their full enjoyment only in infinity itself. He never designed that the intelligent and immortal creature should sip its bliss at a lower fountain than himself.

Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul (Birmingham AL: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 42

Service for the Christian is not drudgery to be endured in order to gain something better, but is training to be welcomed in order to be something better.

Rob Faircloth

When do you need counseling? Whenever you need the Gospel

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A pastor was preparing a younger minister to lead a church plant. The church planter didn’t think that training people in biblical counseling was a priority for the new church. The pastor asked him, “Well, then, how early should you start training your people to care for one another with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” The church planter smiled slightly, and admitted “Immediately.”[1]

This anecdote illustrates the bias we naturally have against the term “biblical counseling.’ We suppose that any sort of counseling requires degrees, certificates and offices, and we suppose that other regular believers can’t provide us any help in the area.

But biblical counseling is applied discipling, in which one believer applies the Word of God to the particular issues and struggles that another believer faces. This is why many prefer to use the term “Gospel Care” to describe what happens in biblical counseling. In these terms, every believer should be both counseling others and being counseled.

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Being Zealous without Legalism or License

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Be not slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:1

[Jesus Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:14

…be zealous, and repent. Revelation 3.19

When I was a younger believer, we called them Holy Rollers. Bible Thumpers. Jesus Freaks. Holier-than-Thou. They were the Christians who were just a little too serious about the whole faith thing, and expected way too much from other believers. They were radical. Pharisaical. Legalistic. Zealous.

 The problem with this way of thinking is that though there are errors to be made regarding zeal (when used as political philosophy as in Luke 6:15, or when fervor is uninformed as in Romans 10:2), the basic teaching of Scripture is that those who follow Jesus will be fervent and zealous, not lukewarm.

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The Laws of Flat Surfaces

Ballweg’s Discovery is Whenever there is a flat surface, someone will find something to put on it. (Col. Lawrence H. Ballweg).

Faircloth’s Flat Surface Corollary states The sight of a flat surface creates an irresistible impulse to place, hang or draw something on it.

How to Raise the Dead (and know if you are)

Lampstands, No. 7

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When Jesus spoke to the church at Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6), he could have just as easily addressed thousands of contemporary churches today.

Sardis had “the reputation of being alive,” but was actually dead.

Someone once said that the rumors of his demise had been greatly exaggerated. In this case, the rumors of a church’s life had been greatly exaggerated.

That a congregation of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, who claim to be born again by the power of the gospel and to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, could be dead is alarming.

Jesus doesn’t mean here that biological life had ended, but that spiritual life was absent. The church in Sardis was lifeless, ineffective, powerless, incompetent and useless in kingdom work, in gospel ministry. They weren’t physically dead, but in terms of God’s mission for them, they might as well have been.

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Believers should wrestle with the Word of God, refusing to let it leave our mind and heart until it has its intended effect. Yet many times we treat it as a hot potato, turning it loose too soon, because it either Cuts Too Deep, Reflects Too Well, Demands Too Much, or Tarries Too Long.

Rob Faircloth