Monday, August 8, 2016

The Black Lives Matter Slogan in Light of the New Testament Doctrine of Authority

In every context of authority—home, work, church, government, etc.—the person in authority must be given the benefit of the doubt in questionable cases. Without this baseline social contract, civilization would cease to exist. Franchesca Ramsey’s viral statements hint at a trend of resentment towards this social contract.
“When a civilian has committed a violent crime, they’re generally arrested, tried, and then convicted. Conversely, there’s a lot of evidence that it’s very rare to secure an indictment against a police officer for excessive force. And an indictment is just a trial; it’s not even a conviction! […] If an unarmed citizen is killed by the police, or if an armed person is killed under suspicious circumstances, people should be upset no matter what the victim’s race.” [MTV’s “Decoded,” Franchesca  Ramsey]

We Should Be Offering Respect and Obedience as Much as Possible in the Context of the Government
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be obedient unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that exist are ordained of God. 2 Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves condemnation….4 For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil. 5 Wherefore you must be obedient.
Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be submissive to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates.
1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
·         The benefit of the doubt must be given to the government in questionable cases since the civil authorities are ordained by God and placed in power by God. Not “resisting” the authorities would include not resisting arrest and not rebelling against their side of the story, or criticizing their report without powerful evidence to the contrary—undeniable facts to the contrary.

We Should Be Offering Respect and Obedience as Much as Possible in the Context of the Family
Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise.
Titus 2:4 That [the older women] may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is obedient unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
·         Since parents have been placed in authority over their children, and husbands over their households, their opinions have more weight than the opinions of those who are in submission to them. If all opinions had equal weight, there could be no authority.

We Should Be Offering Respect and Obedience as Much as Possible in the Context of the Workplace
1 Peter 2:18  Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the corrupt.
Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
Titus 2:9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again.
·         Even corrupt authorities are worthy of respect, and they are to be obeyed except in extraordinary circumstances.
·         Submission to authority includes “not answering again,” not talking back, not contradicting the person in authority.
·         If every person’s argument was of equal importance, then there would be no difference between a perpetrator and a judge, a parent and a child, or a manager and a subordinate.

We Should Be Offering Respect and Obedience as Much as Possible in the Context of the Church
Hebrews 13:7  Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation….17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
1 Timothy 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
·         Church leaders are to be in submission to their congregational majorities, but their individual opinions are not of equal weight with others’ individual opinions. This is what it means to “rule.” On the other hand, the leaders are not untouchable. Where facts that are beyond reasonable doubt contradict an elder’s report, then that elder must be appropriately corrected.

The “Black Lives Matter” Slogan Is Itself Dishonest and Inflammatory
     To repeatedly and emphatically state, with an adversarial tone, some point which is painfully obvious and which is not in dispute by any party present is to intentionally pick a fight. Imagine how ambushed you would feel if you were the recipient of the following accusation.
     “So you people think the earth is flat, right?”
     “I never said that. I don’t believe that.”
     “Well, the earth is not flat, and I know you think it really is.”
     Similarly, it is inflammatory to repeatedly and emphatically deny a counter argument that is obviously true and incontrovertible, as in “All lives matter.”
     “Ford cars have headlights.”
     “Sure. All modern cars have headlights.”
     “You don’t get it, do you? Of course all modern cars have headlights, but I want to hear you admit that Fords have headlights.”
     BLM advocates tend to strongly censure the “all lives matter” correction to their mantra. Even Hillary Clinton was roundly criticized when she mentioned her belief that all lives matter in a speech she gave back in June, 2015, at a black church in Missouri.
     MTV’s Franchesca  Ramsey said, “This movement is not saying that black lives matter more than anyone else’s. It’s saying black lives should matter, but the way that our justice system, our media, and our police have been operating suggests that they do not.” Of course, Ramsey is clearly stating her belief that Americans, even in the media and government, generally do not believe that black lives matter (even though media and government loudly claim otherwise). In light of today's spirit of political correctness, this is a very unlikely proposition. Ramsey is also lobbying for black lives to receive even more leniency and charity from "our justice system" and "our media" in the future.
     BLM spokespersons like to use the broken bone analogy to support their slogan (“Of course all bones matter, Doctor, but this broken bone needs your special attention now”) or the burning house analogy (“Of course all houses matter, Firefighter, but this burning house needs your special attention now”).  The underlying conviction in all BLM rhetoric seems to be that black Americans are being broken and set on fire today by virtually all non-black elements of society. Again, that conviction is highly suspect.

It Is Historically True That Government and Civil Authorities Are Notorious for Abusing Power
     Most Americans have no trouble believing that governments and police forces in Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea, etc. are prone to corruption. That suspicion of power is not entirely without warrant here in the U.S., either. Surely it is possible for American police officers to be power-trippers or smart-alecks. As defenders of the oppressed, Christians in a democratic society should hold their civil authorities accountable for the bullying of powerless people. If Brian Crook’s viral Facebook post is true, then it would be naïve for us to maintain a mindless defense of all police officers' actions.
     I got pulled over a lot in high school. Like, a lot a lot….I had a Mazda of my own. It was flashy and loud, but this was 2002 and everybody with a Japanese car was doing a Vin Diesel impression, so it's not like mine stood out that much more than anyone else's. You can understand, then, why it was weird that I was routinely pulled over for a busted taillight. After all, that's the kind of thing I would've noticed and gotten fixed, especially if that taillight tended to burn out once a week or so. My parents had told me how to act when pulled over by the police, so of course I was all “Yes sir, no sir” every time it happened. That didn't stop them from asking me to step out of the car so they could pat me down or search for drugs, though. I didn't have a drop of alcohol until I was 21, but by that point I was an expert at breathalyzers and field sobriety tests….A handful of times, they'd tell me to turn off the car, drop the keys out the window, and keep my hands outside the vehicle before even approaching.
     Once, when I came home from college, I was pulled over less than a block from my parents' house. It was late, probably about midnight or so, but I hadn't been drinking and it was winter so I wasn't speeding because it had snowed that day. The officer stepped out of his car with his gun drawn. He told me to drop the keys out the window, then exit the car with my hands up and step back toward him. I knew he was wrong, but I wasn't about to be shot to death down the street from my parents' house because my failure to immediately comply was interpreted as me plotting to murder that officer. So yeah, I stepped out and backed up toward the officer. He hand cuffed me and refused to tell me why I had been pulled over, or why I had been asked to exit my vehicle. Only when I was sitting in the back of the police car did he tell me that there had been reports of gang activity in the area and that a car fitting my car's description with a driver fitting my description had recently been involved in said gang activity. Gang activity. In south Naperville. Committed by a Black male driving a bright blue Mazda MX-6 with a gaudy blue and white interior. Yeah, alright. He was very short in asking me what I was doing in the neighborhood so late at night. I explained that my parents lived at that house with the glass backboard over there. He didn't believe me. He took me back out of the car and put me face down on the hood of the police car to frisk me. I'd already been searched once before he put me in the car. Then, he spent about 15 minutes searching my car while I stood hand cuffed in the cold. My ID had my parents' address on it, but he still didn't think I lived there. I could tell he wanted to accuse me of having a fake ID. About a half hour after being pulled over, when he found nothing on me, nothing in my car, and nothing on my record, he reluctantly let me go. He didn't even say sorry, or explain that it was his mistake; he must've been looking for another Black man in a bright blue Mazda MX-6 who was a gang leader in south Naperville. He sat in the street until I drove to my parents' house, opened the garage door, drove inside, and then closed the garage door.
     During my senior year, I went to a game at Kinnick stadium….We were waiting in line to get into the game; I was with probably 4 or 5 of my friends. While standing in line, a much drunker guy lost his balance and fell into me and one of my friends. I caught him and helped him back up, and he was pretty oblivious to his surroundings. An officer inside the gate saw what happened and called me out of the line when I got inside the gate. He told me that he saw me try to fight that guy in line and said I was too drunk to enter the stadium. He told me I could either go home or go to jail. I told him I had no problem going home, but because there were only two more home games left I wanted to know what I had done to draw such negative attention to myself. Plus, it was pretty cold anyway. He got about an inch from my face and yelled, “GO HOME NOW OR GO TO JAIL.” I turned to leave and he hand cuffed me. I wound up watching Iowa vs Northwestern 2006 from the drunk tank inside Kinnick Stadium. Everyone else in there was either screaming, puking, or passed out. The guy who fell into me was allowed to go into the game. The charges against me were dropped when the lady who kept an eye on the drunk tank spoke on my behalf when I had to go see the judge.
     In 2012, I went to watch the Iowa game at John Barleycorn on Clark Street in Chicago….I saw a Michigan fan absolutely beating the h--- out of a Nebraska fan (they were both White). I ran up into the fight (I was admittedly drunk this time) and pulled the Michigan fan off the Nebraska fan. Dude's face was all bloody and messed up. The police were on the scene about 15 seconds later. Michigan and Nebraska both got to go home to “cool off,” but I wound up hand cuffed and sitting on the curb. There were at least a dozen witnesses there who tried to tell the officer that I was just trying to break up the fight, and that Michigan should've been arrested for assault. One of Nebraska's female friends even told the officer that I might've saved his life (probably an exaggeration, but it's what was said). After about 15 minutes, the officer removed the hand cuffs and let me go. He said he got a call that there was a big fight breaking out, but otherwise I'd be going to jail that night. He said if he ever saw me on Clark Street again, we'd have a problem.
Conclusion:
     In general, all law-breakers should expect to lose certain rights and any “benefit of the doubt” while committing a crime. In a tense encounter, the party who is breaking the law or infringing upon the rights of an innocent person is wrong, period, and the color of that person’s skin is immaterial. On the other hand, if law-enforcement officers are behaving in an authoritarian or rude manner towards innocent people, then they are in the wrong, period.
     The watchcry of our society ought to be Innocent Lives Matter. The rights of innocent people, black lives or police lives, should be jealously protected. Law-makers and police officers should never address or inconvenience innocent people in an impolite way. Conversely, innocent police officers should never be addressed or inconvenienced by others in an impolite way. “Yes, sir,” and “no, sir” works both ways among innocent police officers and innocent citizens.
     While the utter unfairness of putting BLM’s law-breakers on the same par with civilization’s law-enforcers should be evident to everyone, we must also be ready to acknowledge that there is a great temptation for corruption among civil authorities with power. And we must realize that, while it might seem charitable to suppose that the underdogs in society deserve the benefit of the doubt, for civilization to exist, the benefit of the doubt must go to its leaders. Of course, that default benefit of the doubt does not give law enforcement officers a free pass to infringe upon the rights of innocent citizens.
     First and foremost, innocent lives matter—black, blue, or otherwise—and innocence will always have to be established on a case by case basis. Sweeping assumptions about the innocence of all black people or all police officers are woefully naïve, but authorities simply must be given a baseline benefit of the doubt in society, because that’s the only way civilization works.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Successful Christian Series Notes

MESSAGE #1


THE CHRISTIAN LIFE:
A New Normal
The Successful Christian Series
EIGHT MEDICAL CLINICS IN WEST GERMANY
From 1954 until 1959—no babies born with deformed or missing arms or legs.
1959—12 babies born with deformed or missing arms or legs.
1960—83 babies born with deformed or missing arms or legs.
1961—302 babies born with deformed or missing arms or legs.

And similar things were being experienced in Britain, Australia, Canada, and elsewhere.
 In September of 1960, the Merril pharmaceutical company applied to the FDA for approval of a new sedative drug to use as a sleeping pill and for morning sickness in pregnant women. Thalidomide. The pill was already popular in Europe and elsewhere. The application was handed off to Dr. Frances Kelsey at the FDA simply because it was her turn to review the next drug application submitted.

Laboratory rats were given doses thalidomide 6 to 60 times greater than the doses given for humans, and 1510 baby rats were born without  defects.

But something seemed wrong. Dr. Kelsey asked why thalidomide didn’t make the rats sleepy.
Then, five months later, a British doctor suggested that thalidomide was causing numbness and tingling in the hands and feet of his patients. 

Through the rest of 1960 and most of 1961, representatives for the Merril company pushed hard for Dr. Kelsey to hurry her approval of thalidomide.
The Case Is Cracked
November 15, 1961, a German doctor warned the German manufacturer of thalidomide that an unusually high fraction of deformed infants in his clinic were born to mothers who had used thalidomide. Their drug seemed to be causing birth defects.
November 20, this German doctor addressed a meeting of pediatric physicians about his suspicions, but he did not name the drug. After the meeting was over, another pediatrician came up to him and said, “Will you tell me confidentially, is it the drug [thalidomide]? I ask because we have such a child and my wife took [thalidomide].”
 The March of Dimes organization estimates that something like 10,000 babies around the world were born with deformed or missing arms and legs because of thalidomide.



What if the Devil convinces us that being spiritually disfigured or disabled is normal for humans?
What if 10,000 people all around us are spiritually disfigured or disabled? Does that make disfigurement or disability normal?
Common? Yes.
Normal? Never.
Dr. Frances Kelsey had to stand up to the pressures of her colleagues and tell them that something seemed wrong with thalidomide.
The Bible has come to us with the message that we do not need to be spiritually disfigured or disabled.
A.J. Gordon
 “It is not what we have, but what we assuredly know we have…which determines our spiritual wealth.”




I. What the Successful Christian
Looks Like
Galatians 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance.

What the Successful Christian
Looks Like
Emotional Wellness:
Love/Joy/Peace
Relational Pleasantness: Love/Peace/Gentleness/Goodness
Personal Depth: Faith/Meekness/Temperance

How Do We Get This Fruit?
J.T. Beck
“The development of the divine life in the Christian is like the natural growth in the vegetable world. We do not need to make any special effort, only place ourselves under the conditions favorable to such growth.”
As a boy, Robert McQuilken was once coached in swimming by an expert.

You’re working too hard. You need to learn that the water will hold you up….The next time you take a stroke, just for a moment relax every muscle in your body, as though you were lying in a bed.”  
   

    McQuilken later said, “To this day I recall the impression. It seemed as though the water was actually lifting me up, and I was doing nothing.”

II. The “Bonsai Tree” Problem in the Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:25
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Believers have “walk of life” choices to make in the matter of spiritual fruit.
II. The “Bonsai Tree” Problem in the Fruit of the Spirit

Evan Hopkins
“Shall we try to make Christ to live in us? [S]hall we help Him to put forth His own power in us? Shall we try, in other words, to grow—to produce fruit?....Where Christ thus dwells in unhindered activity, there will be steady growth, perpetual freshness, and abundant fruitfulness; and the life will be marked by ease and spontaneity, because it will be natural.”

Growth will occur if we don’t “bonsai” it, if we don’t extinguish the Holy Spirit’s voice and work in our lives!

Settling for sin (“making peace” with some lack of obedience/surrender) pinches off new growth.

Simple Rebellion and Waywardness
Galatians 5:19
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…

Settling for sin (“making peace” with some lack of obedience/surrender) pinches off new growth.

Associations (unequal yokes) That Hinder
1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived, evil community corrupts good habits.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness?... 17 Therefore come out from among them, and be separate…

Romans 16:17 …mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.

Settling for sin (“making peace” with some lack of obedience/surrender) pinches off new growth.

Other Priorities and Pursuits That Hinder
(“Living the life,” YOLO, “the good life.”)

1 Thessalonians 5:19  Quench  not the Spirit.

Hebrews 12:1…Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily surrounds us.



Infrequent exposure to the Holy Spirit’s writings pinches off new growth.
1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate [Grk. meletaō=attend to/care for/ponder] upon these things. Give yourself wholly to them that your profiting [Grk. prokopte=progress /improvement] may appear unto all.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms  and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word and in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Notice that no New Testament verse commands the believer to read through the Bible in a year, or to read it for fifteen minutes every morning, etc. What it does command, however, is to let the words of the prophets and the apostles reside in your thoughts all the time, day and night— “Let us also walk in the Spirit.”


Infrequent prayerful invitations/appeals for the Holy Spirit’s input “in the moment” pinches off new growth.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally.

Philippians 4:6 Be care-filled for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.

Notice that no New Testament verse commands the believer to pray for an hour a day, or to fast and pray for a week, etc. What it does command, however, is to pray often, all through the day and night—“Let us also walk in the Spirit.”
The same is true of gratitude.



Infrequent prayerful acknowledgements of God’s kindnesses “in the moment” pinches off new growth.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God…

Ephesians 5:20 Be filled with the Spirit…giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:8 Finally brothers, whatever things are true…honest…just…pure…lovely…of good reputation...If there is anything virtuous and if there is anything praiseworthy, think on these things.


Infrequent exposure to other spiritually sensitive Christians pinches off new growth.
Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Notice that no New Testament verse commands the believer to go to church every Sunday, or even three times a week, etc. What it does command, however, is to encourage your Christian brothers “daily,” and never underestimate the importance of gathering together a lot—“Let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Infrequent risks of faith are taken, thus pinching off new growth.
Matthew 9:29 According to your faith be it unto you.

Matthew 25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth.

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Infrequent risks of faith are taken, thus pinching off new growth.
“By Faith”:
Abel offered (4)
Enoch pleased (5)
Noah prepared (6)
Abraham went (7)
Sarah conceived (11)
Saints received (13)
Abraham offered (17)
Isaac blessed (20)
Jacob blessed (21)
Joseph commanded (22)
Moses refused (24)
Moses chose (25)
Moses forsook (27)
Moses kept (28)
Israelites crossed (29)
Rahab survived (31)
Saints subdued (33)
Saints worked
Saints received
Saints stopped
Saints extinguished (34)
Saints won
Saints raised (35)
Saints endured (35-38)


Notice that no New Testament verse commands the believer to take very specific risks for Jesus—to go to Africa as a missionary, to donate all your money to missions, etc. What it does command, however, is to “have faith,” “only believe,” “fear not,” “trust in the Lord,” “cast not away your confidence,” etc. all the time—“Let us also walk in the Spirit.”

November 15, 1961, German doctor warns thalidomide  makers that drug seems to be causing birth defects.
November 20, German doctor addresses  other pediatricians of his concern for an unnamed drug. “Will you tell me confidentially, is it the drug [thalidomide]? I ask because we have such a child and my wife took [thalidomide].”
November 26, German manufacturer  removes thalidomide from the market.
November 28, German Ministry of Health admits that thalidomide apparently causes birth defects.
November 29, the Merril  company in the U.S. receives a cablegram about what was happening in Germany.
November 30, the Merril pharmaceutical company tells Dr. Frances Kelsey that they no longer wish to pursue approval of thalidomide for sales in the U.S.
Mothers-to-be everywhere in America felt a debt of gratitude to Dr. Kelsey for delaying the approval of such a terrible drug, and in 1962 she was presented with the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service.

The New Testament tells saints everywhere that there’s a doctrinal drug of discouragement that’s disfiguring and disabling beautiful people unnecessarily.

It may be common, but it will never be normal. Even if every Christian you know is spiritually disfigured and disabled, it doesn’t mean that this is normal. God made us to be more than that. And we  can be. And, by His grace, we will be!































MESSAGE #2

A Whole New View
The Successful Christian Series
 But at home that evening, she heard a second impression from God: “Don’t just confess your failure. Prepare for the next time.”
     The “next time” didn’t happen for a few weeks, but when it did, she now had the courage to speak out. She gently asked her friends, “Are we really being fair to Lisa by talking about her this way?”
“What if these spontaneous acts of kindness and obedience happened so frequently, maybe a dozen times a week, that they become as natural and habitual as brushing my teeth or checking my email?”
Claire De Graffe


I John 2:20
You have an unction [anointing] from the Holy One, and you know all things. […] 27 But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but…the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie.

Message #1 Was
“A Whole New Normal”
(Harvesting the Fruit of the Spirit)

Today Is Message #2
“A Whole New View”
(Thoughts and Ideas from God’s Spirit)
I. Ideas from God Come to Us That Are Known by Many Others, but Not Because Any Humans Are the Real Teachers of Those Ideas.

Believers have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

Audrey Wetherell
Suddenly his two hands were on my head…I was startled, but at the same time felt what can only be described as a physical “tingling” which began at my head and went right through the rest of my body. At the same time I had an almost overpowering emotional craving at the core of my personality to let myself go, to take it. All of me wanted to yield to this strange “tingling power.” I sent up a momentary prayer to God. ‘Lord, if this is from You, I yield. If not, I claim the precious blood of Christ to cover me. Help me.!’ Immediately it was gone—just like that! I had my answer, and a profound peace filled my being. I knew that this man was surprised, for he had felt the impact in his hands. We said goodbye and I left. I had my answer, and it was final.
----------------------------------------------
[Charles Trumbull] One man confidently told his friends that God strongly indicated to him that he was to approach a certain house and tell the gospel to the needy person who answered his knock at the door.
He was humiliated to find that no one was home at that particular address.
“[People who say] ‘God said this to me,’ or, ‘God led me to do that’ [find that] quite often…circumstances show plainly that God did not tell them to do this or that, but that they had misunderstood His leading.”

“Is it not better, instead of saying, ‘God told me to do this,’ to say, ‘I believe God would have me do this’? Let us recognize that we may be mistaken.”


Born again individuals have new hearts.
Ezekiel 36:26 A new spirit will I put within you. I will take away the stony heart…and give you an heart of flesh….27 I will put my Spirit within you.” 

Jeremiah 31:33 I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” (also Hebrews 10:16).

Believers are renewed/renovated
 in knowledge.

Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.

“Renewed in knowledge” after the likeness of God breaks the shackles of earthbound thinking, satanic deception, and confidence in human efforts.
II. Ideas from God Come to Us About Very Personal Matters That Are Not known by Others and That Are Entirely Untaught Except by the Lord Himself.

Learning must sometimes be done without a teacher or a book (or a Google search).

I John 2:20
You have an unction [anointing] from the Holy One, and you know all things. […] 27 But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but…the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie.

 F.B. Meyer
“One day we went walking along a street that led over a river, and to my surprise as we got to the apex of the bridge he took his tobacco-pouch and pipe and threw them over, and said, ‘There, I have settled that.’
     Then turning to me, he said: ‘I know, Mr. Meyer, you have said nothing about it; but for the past few months God has been asking me to set a new example to my young men….God was searching me…but it is all settled now, sir, it is all done now.’”


God gives supernatural recall in certain important moments.
John 14:26
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said unto you.

God gives supernatural and personal guidance in the details of life.
John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth.
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Angela Thomas
“When I pulled up in the driveway, every Holy Spirit alarm inside me went off. It was as though I could feel a darkness. When I came back later to pick her up, I had the same sick feeling in my stomach. When Taylor got in the car I told her, ‘Honey, I know you are going to think I’m the weirdest person you know, but warning sirens are going off inside of me. I don’t know these people. I don’t what they do. I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but there is a presence of evil here, and I will not let you come back. The girls can come to our house, but I have decided that you cannot be here.’

“Honey, you know I love those girls. I do care about their hearts and lives. I care about the choices they make and the consequences they will suffer. I want you to know they are always welcome here. I will talk with them. I will feed them. I will do anything to care for their tender hearts. But I will not lay my daughter on their altar. You can’t go.’” 
Archie Glover and Family
[A preplanned passage in his personal reading]  Joshua 8:5, "…when they come forth to meet us…we will flee before them."
"My thought was arrested and as I prayed over the passage, I heard but one voice, 'Flee before them, flee before them!'"
[A preplanned reading In their family devotions later that same morning]  2 Samuel 15:14, "David said to all his servants…, Rise up, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape. Hurry and go…."
"This is the Lord's word to us. The path is clear without a shadow of a doubt. We have nothing to do but to obey and flee."
[180 innocent Christians died over the next several months, but the Glovers amazed their friends when they arrived safely at a secure British outpost, having travelled 1000 miles in 68 days.]

 [Bilquis Sheik as a new convert from Islam]
Then one Sunday I didn’t particularly feel like going [to church]. I…gave some excuse. It seemed like a little thing, but almost instantly I began to feel uneasy.. What was it?...Everything was in order, yet everything seemed out of order….And I knew right then what it was I had lost….With a sense of urgency I phoned Ken and told him I would be there after all. What a difference. Immediately I felt, actually felt, the return of warmth to my soul.
     I was sitting on an important truth without realizing it. There were times when I was in the Presence and experienced that deep sense of joy and peace, and there were times when I lost that sense of presence….I thought about…moments…when I knew that I had lost the sense of His nearness. How did the Bible put it: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30). Is that what happened when I scolded the servants? Or when I failed to nourish my spirit with regular Bible reading? Or when I just didn’t go to the [meetings]?...When I obeyed, then I was allowed to stay in His presence.

Marilyn Meberg
Feeling discouraged about  losing her hair from a medical treatment, she happened to catch an infomercial on TV about herbal supplements. The report explained something about the amazing ability of the body’s immune system. She began to think about God’s wonderful oversight of His world, and soon she found herself feeling encouraged.
“I would understand if you said to me, ‘Are you kidding, Marilyn—you mean to say that an infomercial spoke to you [about God]…?’ I’m embarrassed to say that’s exactly what happened.”

Claire De Graaf’s Story
A thirty-something mother in a grocery store line—three kids, one standing in the shopping cart, one holding her leg and screaming, and one gone AWOL somewhere—groceries all bagged, but credit card denied, desperately digging through her purse to find enough cash. About to melt down.
“Here, this ought to take care of it.” (The woman behind the mother is paying the clerk.)
“You don’t have to do that.”
“Please let me do this for you—and for your children.”
And a couple minutes later when both women had finished checking out, the mother said,
“Thank you so much….But why did you offer to pay for my groceries?”
“I’m a Christian. As I stood behind you, I sensed that God was telling me to pay for your groceries, so I did. Simple as that. Since everything I have belongs to God anyway, He paid your bill—not me. Just thank Him if you’d like. I hope you have a great day.”

With God’s Spirit Living in Us:
I.   Ideas from God Come to Us That Are Known by Many Others, but Not Because Any Humans Are the Real Teachers of Those Ideas.
II.  Ideas from God Come to Us About Very Personal Matters That Are Not known by Others and That Are Entirely Untaught Except by the Lord Himself.

That Gives Us a Whole New View!

MESSAGE #3

A Whole New Emotional Health (Part 1)
The Successful Christian Series
Philippians 4:6
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8…whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.


Competing Theories on the Topic of Achieving and Maintaining Emotional Wellness and Stability:
The New Testament Lifestyle Is the Key to Emotional Wellness.
OR
The New Testament Lifestyle Is Incidental and Optional for Emotional Wellness.
If Not the New Testament Lifestyle, Then What?
 In 1888, Sigmund Freud, the “Father of Modern Psychiatry,” published the first of his twenty-four volumes on psychoanalytic theory.
But Freud is almost entirely discredited today.
In any case, there was only the New Testament lifestyle for most Christians to rely upon until 1888.

If Not the New Testament Lifestyle, Then What?
In 1963, Valium was approved by the FDA to become the first-ever drug to be commonly used in the U.S. as a mood-stabilizer.
But most people consider the Valium option to be a failed experiment, for the most part.
In any case, practically, there was still only the New Testament lifestyle for most Christians to rely upon until the first drug therapy in 1963.

If Not the New Testament Lifestyle, Then What?
[Psychology Today04/20/2014]
“According to the largest antidepressant effectiveness study ever conducted...the majority of depressed patients do not experience long-term remission with antidepressant treatment.”

If Not the New Testament Lifestyle, Then What?
[“Effects of a Chemical Imbalance Causal Explanation on Individuals’ Perceptions of Their Depressive Symptoms,” Joshua J. Kemp, James J. Lickel, and Brett J. Deacon, Behavior Research and Therapy, Feb. 2014]
It turns out that telling a patient that his emotional distress is the result of a chemical imbalance actually increases his sense of hopelessness and pessimism over the prospects of remedial action.

If Not the New Testament Lifestyle, Then What?
“Mental Health Research: Half a Century of Status Quo?” 
by Graham C.L. Davey, Ph.D., expert in anxiety and a professor of psychology at the University of Sussex, UK, 
Psychology Today, December 11, 2012
“I may be over-cynical, but it seems that the best that our state-of-the-art clinical psychology and psychopharmacological research has been able to achieve is a recovery rate of around 50-60% for common mental health problems—compared with placebo and spontaneous remission rates of between 30-45%.”
(Notice how near to one another the lower estimate of the first figure and the higher estimate of the second figure really are.)






Huge Disclaimer:
     We must all acknowledge that organic anomalies in the brain have a negative effect on emotional health. Alzheimer’s victims illustrate this reality, and so do cases like that of Phineas Gage, whose emotional stability was instantly changed when a steel bar penetrated his brain in an accident involving commercial explosives.
     Additionally, we will conclude in Part 7 of this study that God may actually wish for certain Christians to be mentally and emotionally ill.

The Whole New Norm for a Believer’s Whole New Emotional Health
George Muller’s Autobiography
“My primary business each day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.”

Like the Emotional State of God Himself, the Normal Emotional State of the Spirit-Filled Believer Is “Love, Joy, and Peace” (Galatians 5:22)
“God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11), but anger is not God’s primary emotion all day every day.
Jesus felt “sorrowful and very heavy,” even “sorrowful unto death” (Matthew 26:37-38) in the garden, but sorrow is not Jesus’ primary emotion all day every day.
The Holy Spirit can certainly be frequently grieved (Ephesians 4:30), but grief is not the Spirit’s primary emotion all day every day.
Like the Emotional State of God Himself, the Normal Emotional State of the Spirit-Filled Believer Is “Love, Joy, and Peace” (Galatians 5:22)
Like the moderate climate on Earth is usually pleasant enough, sometimes breathtaking, but sometimes awfully stormy. The believer’s emotional climate is characteristically pleasant, sometimes breathtaking, sometimes awful, but normally going back to a moderate “set point.”

But what happens when we can’t seem to bounce back to our Christian emotional “set point” of pleasantness?


I. Even the Finest Saints
(who do indeed put the Christian Lifestyle first)
Frequently Suffer Emotional Unwellness.

In 1913, an article entitled “Discussion on the Causes of Invaliding from the Tropics” appeared in the British Journal of Medicine. The author had interviewed 1051 missionaries from the Church Missionary Society between 1890 and 1908.
He found that 20 percent of the missionaries who returned home prematurely did so because of nervous exhaustion, what we would call today anxiety disorders, chronic depression, or even psychotic episodes.
In Japan, a surprising 81 percent returned home prematurely for that reason; in Africa and India, 20 percent; in China, 25 percent; and in the tropics, 39 percent.

[From Hakim Sahib: the Foreign Doctor, a biography on the life of Joseph Plumb Cochrane, M.D.]
“Nervous exhaustion, statistics show, is the disease that the missionary is especially liable to, and it is at the same time one of the most trying and obstinate when once it gets a hold on the system.”
[Same book quoting Dr. Wallace Taylor of Japan:] “[Missions] work is a labour of the sensibilities, a labour in which the sympathies, the emotions, the higher passions are brought to the front and receive the brunt of the wear….Drafts made on these are the most exhaustive, and tell the heaviest on body and mind.”

[From a personal letter written by Hudson Taylor to his daughter, Geraldine]
“How well I understand that nervous breaking down from which you have suffered. Let it be a warning. There is a limit you should not attempt to pass in exhausting labors. It is not easy to fix it, but experience shows pretty clearly where it is. I have gone beyond it at times, when all the foundations of life seemed gone. I cannot express what that means, and hope that you will never know. Most people have no conception how thin the foundations are which keep them above the abyss, where the interests of life exist no more. Learn to say ‘No’ to invitations or calls to labour which destroy the power to labour and the possibility of service.”

[On the psychological state of Adoniram Judson after the loss of his wife and baby daughter.]
“The psychological effects of these losses were devastating. Self-doubt overtook his mind. He began to read the Catholic mystics… who led him into solitary asceticism and various forms of self-mortification. He dropped his Old Testament translation work, the love of his life, and retreated more and more from people. In October, 1828, he built a hut in the jungle…and moved in on the second anniversary of Ann's death, to live in total isolation. He wrote in one letter home…‘My tears flow…over the loathsome sepulcher of my own heart.’
He had a grave dug beside the hut and sat beside it contemplating the stages of the body's decomposition. He retreated for forty days alone further into the tiger-infested jungle, and wrote in one letter that he felt utter spiritual desolation. ‘God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I find him not.’”

[Charles Spurgeon’s Testimony, His first physical breakdown from gout and its attending depression occurred at 45 years old, 13 years before his death.]
“Prayer seems like labor to me; the chariot wheels drag heavily. […] I was lying on my couch this last week, and my spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for—but a very slight thing will move me to tears just now….And in a moment, this text flashed upon my mind….‘Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness’…your spirits are taken away from you; you are made to weep; you cannot bear your pain; you are brought to the very dust of death, and wish that you might die. […] Despondency is not a virtue; I believe it is a vice. I am heartily ashamed of myself for falling into it, but I am sure there is no remedy for it like a holy faith in God.” […]I have undergone fearful depression of spirits. I know the borders of despair.”


II. The Four Therapies of the Christian Faith (putting the Christian lifestyle first).
1. Obedience Therapy
Romans 8:6 …to be spiritually minded is peace.
When we are "walking in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16), and "led by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:18), we may expect to experience the "fruit of the Spirit" called "joy" and "peace" (Galatians 5:22), the very opposite emotions to depression, anxiety, and anger.
Isaiah 48:22 There is no peace for the wicked.
Psalm 38:3 There is no…rest in my bones because of my sin.

2. Simplicity Therapy
1 Timothy 2:2
…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

3. “Light” Therapy (Cognitive)
Philippians 4:8
Whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report….Think on these things.  

Gratitude Therapy
Philippians 4:6
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Before concluding that my brokenness is God’s will for my life, it would be wise for me to address all known sin and spiritual neglect in my life, and then to exhaust the help that might be derived from practicing thanksgiving, proactive thinking, and a godly prioritization of my resources.

Not Incidental or Optional!
Give First Priority to the Four Therapies of the New Testament Lifestyle:
Obedience Therapy, Simplicity Therapy, Light Therapy, Gratitude Therapy


MESSAGE #4

A Whole New Emotional Health
Part #2 Obedience Therapy
Main Point #1 Obedience Is the Starting Point

The Successful Christian Series
If Not the New Testament Lifestyle, Then What?
[“Mental Health Research: Half a Century of Status Quo?” by Graham C.L. Davey, Ph.D., expert in anxiety and a professor of psychology at the University of Sussex, UK, Psychology Today, December 11, 2012]
“I may be over-cynical, but it seems that the best that our state-of-the-art clinical psychology and psychopharmacological research has been able to achieve is a recovery rate of around 50-60% for common mental health problems—compared with placebo and spontaneous remission rates of between 30-45%.”
(Notice how near to one another the lower estimate of the first figure and the higher estimate of the second figure really are.)


Huge Disclaimer:
     We must all acknowledge that organic anomalies in the brain have a negative effect on emotional health. Alzheimer’s victims illustrate this reality, and so do cases like that of Phineas Gage, whose emotional stability was instantly changed when a steel bar penetrated his brain in an accident involving commercial explosives.
     Additionally, we will conclude in Part 7 of this study that God may actually wish for certain Christians to be mentally and emotionally ill.


But what happens when we can’t seem to bounce back to our Christian emotional “set point” of pleasantness?


“Un-peace” is actually sent to the human heart by God in order to awaken us to the dangers of sin.
Our own consciences "accuse" us when we do wrong (Romans 2:15).
The Holy Spirit "reproves" (scolds) us when we sin (John 16:8), bringing us painful "prickings" of the heart (Acts 9:5)—sometimes even unbearable pain (Acts 2:37, 7: 54-57).
Un-peace from sin is known to include anger, weeping, violent outbursts, phobia, trembling, and sadness.


Much of the Holy Spirit's "guidance into all truth" comes in the form of peace or un-peace:
The Holy Spirit is called "the Comforter" (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7)—our advocate, the One who gives comfort, peace and encouragement, the One who says, "My peace I give unto you" (John 14:27).
We are taught in God's Word that "to be spiritually minded is peace" (Romans 8:6).
When we are "walking in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16), and "led by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:18), we may expect to experience the "fruit of the Spirit" called "joy" and "peace" (Galatians 5:22), the very opposite emotions to depression and anxiety.


     The Spirit of Christ is always working  for  a sense of peace.
“Zero Resistance” Is the Key!
Obedience isn’t really obedience until it is cheerful obedience!
“Rejoicing and repentance go together. Repentance without rejoicing will lead to despair. Rejoicing without repentance is shallow and will only provide passing inspiration instead of deep change.” Tim Keller



Romans 6:13
Neither yield your members as instruments of…sin
[this is a command]: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead…
TWO MAJOR QUESTIONS:
1.       REALLY, HOW IMPORTANT IS OBEDIENCE?
It’s like the entire Bible was made for this question. Certainly, your emotional wellness forever is on the line.
2.       WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?

I. REALLY, HOW IMPORTANT IS OBEDIENCE?
Your Emotional Wellness Is on the Line!
Anxiety or Calm
Shame or Relief
Depression or Happiness

Anxiety or Calm
Genesis 3:10  I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid…
Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursues: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
Isaiah 33:14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites.
Proverbs 14:30  A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy [passion] the rottenness of the bones.
Proverbs 3:21 …keep sound wisdom…. 24 When you lie down, you shall not be afraid…and your sleep shall be sweet.

Anxiety or Calm (Cont’d)
Isaiah 48:22 and 57:21 There is no peace, says the Lord, unto the wicked.
Isaiah 59:8 …they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace.
Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love your law.
Isaiah 32:17 And…the effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance forever.
Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Shame or Relief
Proverbs 13:18 Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuses instruction.
Jeremiah 3:25 We lie down in our shame…for we have sinned against the Lord…
Psalm 119:6 Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all your commandments.
2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Depression or Happiness
Lamentations 5:15 The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. 16 …woe unto us, that we have sinned!
Proverbs 23:29 Who has woe? who has sorrow?... 30 They that tarry long at the wine.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.13 Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful.
Isaiah 65:14 My servants shall sing for joy…, but you shall cry for sorrow…, and howl for vexation of spirit.
Psalm 128:1 Blessed is every one that fears the Lord.2…happy you shall be, and it shall be well with you.

Depression or Happiness (Cont’d}
Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man that finds wisdom.
Proverbs 3:17 [Wisdom’s] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
Proverbs 29:18 …he that keeps the law, happy is he.
John 13:17 If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.
Ephesians 6:1 Children obey your parents…that it may be well with you…
1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good.
II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
Because a Breathtaking Relationship With God Is the Key to Your Happiness Now and Forever, and It’s the entire point of the Universe for God’s Glory! (And we can’t have any of that without obedience.)
And it’s the key to pleasant interaction in every other human relationship, too (which we all crave).

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
     The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.
    We should never deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead, we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction. John Piper

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
Matthew 13:44    
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
There is happiness in obedience. There is happiness in disobedience. The difference is in whether there is any regret mixed in with that happiness, and in how long the happiness lasts.

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
My friends who are trying to quit smoking started smoking because it was fun. Now, the very thing they enjoyed, they hate.
“Cash or credit?” “Debit or credit?” is another way of saying “Happy now or happy later?”
It was fun to go home with new stuff. But now the stuff is…heck, you don’t even know where all the stuff is. But you aren’t happy about it anymore.        Andy Stanley

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
The challenging aspect about picking the right paths is that the choices are now. The outcomes are later….most of the time…much later. 
Andy Stanley

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
Consider the man at the art museum who begins to remove paintings from the wall for his own collection.
1 Timothy 6:7
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
Suppose a husband asks his wife if he must kiss her good night. Her answer is: “You must, but not that kind of must.”

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
Psalm 16:11
In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
“To see Him and know Him and be in His presence is the soul’s final feast. Beyond this there is no quest. Words fail. We call it pleasure, joy, delight.”
John Piper

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
…if the dead rise not, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
1 Corinthians 15:32
Outside the Christian faith (no heaven, hell, or everlasting reward), it only makes sense to pursue fleeting pleasures and avoid unnecessary suffering.
“How many Christians do you know who could say, ‘The lifestyle I have chosen as a Christian would be utterly foolish and pitiable if there is no resurrection’?”  John Piper
II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
“When we choose the fleeting pleasures of comfort and security over the sacrifices and sufferings of missions and evangelism and ministry and love, we choose against joy.”
Tim Keller

THE PERSON
PLEASURE
AMBITION
POSSESSION
THAT COMPETES WITH GOD FOR MY LOVE AND LOYALTY IS LIKE A CHEATER’S LOVER.
AN IDOL.


II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
“In our lives there are always some things that we invest in to get a level of joy and fulfillment that only God can give. The most painful times in our lives are times in which [these] idols are being threatened or removed.”   Tim Keller

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
“You should say to God, ‘I see that you may be calling me to live my life without something I never thought I could live without. But if I have you, I have the only wealth, health, love, honor, and security I really need and cannot lose.’ You don’t realize Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” Tim Keller

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
“If we are not willing to hurt our career in order to do God’s will, our job will become a counterfeit god.” Tim Keller

II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
“It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.” 
The author of this poem, William Henley, lost his leg to tuberculosis in 1868, lost his five-year-old daughter to death in 1894, and lost his own life to tuberculosis at the age of 53 in 1903. No one is bullet-proof!


II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
“For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels; And not the words of one who kneels. The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!  Yes, it was my way.”
Frank Sinatra’s children, Frank Jr. and Tina, described their dad as frequently depressed and withdrawn. Twice he attempted suicide in 1953.

I. How important is obedience?
It’s like the entire Bible was made for this question. Certainly, your emotional wellness forever is on the line.
II. Why must obedience be the key to my emotional wellness forever?
Because a breathtaking relationship with God is the key to your happiness now and forever, and it’s the entire point of the universe for God’s glory! (And we can’t have any of that without obedience.)
Because obedience to a social contract between God and all humans makes life predictable and sane.





MESSAGE #5

A Whole New Emotional Health
Part #2 Obedience Therapy
Main Point #2 A Social Contract
The Successful Christian Series

If Not the New Testament Lifestyle, Then What?
[“Mental Health Research: Half a Century of Status Quo?” by Graham C.L. Davey, Ph.D., expert in anxiety and a professor of psychology at the University of Sussex, UK, Psychology Today, December 11, 2012]
“I may be over-cynical, but it seems that the best that our state-of-the-art clinical psychology and psychopharmacological research has been able to achieve is a recovery rate of around 50-60% for common mental health problems—compared with placebo and spontaneous remission rates of between 30-45%.”
(Notice how near to one another the lower estimate of the first figure and the higher estimate of the second figure really are.)


Huge Disclaimer:
     We must all acknowledge that organic anomalies in the brain have a negative effect on emotional health.
     Alzheimer’s victims illustrate this reality, and so do cases like that of Phineas Gage, whose emotional stability was instantly changed when a steel bar penetrated his brain in an accident involving commercial explosives.
  Additionally, we will conclude in Part 8 of this study that God may actually wish for certain Christians to be mentally and emotionally ill, just as in Phineas Gage’s case.


But what happens when we can’t seem to bounce back to our Christian emotional “set point” of pleasantness?


Not Incidental or Optional!
Give First Priority to the Four Therapies of the New Testament Lifestyle:

Obedience, Simplicity, Light, Gratitude


Remember: a Sermon About Obedience Is a Sermon About Happiness.

Obedience Brings Happiness.
And Disobedience Brings Happiness.
But the question is how much regret comes with the happiness of disobedience, and how long the happiness of disobedience will last.


God puts commands in front of His people for the same reason parents put fences around their swimming pools.

Romans 6:13
Neither yield your members as instruments of…sin
[this is a command]: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead…
TWO MAJOR QUESTIONS:
1.       REALLY, HOW IMPORTANT IS OBEDIENCE?
As important as your own happiness.
Obedience Is the Starting Point!
2.       WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
Because There Is a Social Contract Between You and God—His breath-taking awesomeness for your loyalty.
I. REALLY, HOW IMPORTANT IS OBEDIENCE?
Your Emotional Wellness Is on the Line!
Anxiety or Calm
Shame or Relief
Depression or Happiness


DANGER MINE FIELD!
This Is Your Life in a Fallen World
 “Suppose you had to cross a field full of land mines. A person who knows exactly where every one of them is buried offers to take you through it….I would stay as close to that person as I could. I certainly would not go wandering off.” Henry Blackaby


II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
[Promiscuous Man] “I can’t imagine anything more boring than what you say God requires. Making love to only one woman for life. That’s like buying one record, taking it home, and playing it over and over and over again.”

[Christian Man] “I’m afraid your analogy is a faulty one. It is not like buying one record, it is like buying one instrument and learning how to play it….Boredom is not a danger.”
Doug Wilson

Why Does Sexual Purity Matter?
Because God’s plans and wishes for civilization depend on it.
Children must be born in order to populate the world, and homosexuality is not an option for that purpose.
Children must be born into stable homes in order to minimize psychological unwellness in the world, and illegitimacy, divorce, adultery, and homosexuality are not options for that purpose.
Women must have relief from the labor of breadwinning during periods of pregnancy and breast-feeding, and single motherhood is not an option for that purpose.
To minimize psychological unwellness, women must have a sense of security while they risk getting pregnant, and immorality is not an option for that purpose.
To maximize emotional wellness, men and women must be surrounded by loving family members, and broken homes are not an option for that purpose.
To avoid demonic involvement in one’s physical relationships, the relationship must be one that “God has joined together,” and immorality is not an option for that purpose.


Rules.
Obedience to a Social Contract Between God and All Humans Makes Life Predictable and Sane.


Why a Reliable Cause and Effect Relationship Between Sin and Hardship?
So Everyone Has the Same Chance in Life—Equal Opportunity.
So There Are Some Constants in the Universe That People Everywhere Can Count on.
So People Can Learn from the Experiences of Others, Without Making Their Own Mistakes.

Consider slowly pushing an expensive tea set toward the edge of your table—closer and closer to the edge. What should you do?
 Pray for God’s protection of the tea set?
Talk to your friends and followers on social media about how things should be different?
Repent about 10 other foolish things in your life, but not the action of pushing the tea set?


Predictable and Sane
“God’s moral laws are dynamic and silent. They don’t get offended. They don’t quit. They don’t really care what we think. They just keep on going, working behind the scenes to shape our lives.
In some ways, they level the playing field.”
Andy Stanley


Predictable and Sane
Ultimately, Moral Paths Lead to the Same Place Every Time.
Even in the Interim, They Tend to Lead to the Same Place.


Predictable and Sane
 “What if there really are financial paths that lead to predictable financial destinations…relational paths that lead to predictable relational destinations…emotional and spiritual paths that lead to specific emotional and spiritual destinations?”  Andy Stanley


Anxiety or Calm
Genesis 3:10  I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid…
Isaiah 48:22 and 57:21 There is no peace, says the Lord, unto the wicked.
Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love your law.
Isaiah 32:17 And…the effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance forever.

Shame or Relief
Proverbs 13:18 Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuses instruction.
Jeremiah 3:25 We lie down in our shame…for we have sinned against the Lord…
Psalm 119:6 Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all your commandments.
2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Depression or Happiness
Lamentations 5:15 The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. 16 …woe unto us, that we have sinned!
Proverbs 23:29 Who has woe? who has sorrow?... 30 They that tarry long at the wine.
Proverbs 3:17 [Wisdom’s] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
John 13:17 If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.
1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good.

Predictable and Sane
It’s Better to Learn from the Experience of Others!
“Experience is often a brutal teacher. It eats up your most valuable commodity: time. Learning from experience can eat up years. It can steal an entire stage of life. Experience can leave scars, inescapable memories, and regret.”
 Andy Stanley


“THE WAY OF TRANSGRESSORS IS HARD”
Proverbs 13:15
Emotionally!



II. WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
Predictable and Sane
“When it dawns on us that the undesirable but ever-so-predictable outcome of our choices is bearing down on us, we move into victim mode. Christians start talking about forgiveness as if somehow forgiveness serves as an escape hatch from the outcome of bad decisions. Suddenly we want a second chance….We are quick to remind the world that nobody is perfect.” Andy Stanley

David’s Confession
Psalm 32:3  When I kept silence, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.
Psalm 38:3 neither is there any rest…because of my sin….6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 8 I am… sorely broken: I have groaned by reason of the turmoil of my heart….10 as for the light of my eyes, it also is gone from me….

Predictable and Sane
“When we are the ones facing the inevitable consequences of our decisions, it really doesn’t seem fair. But when it’s someone else arriving at the destination his path led him to, [we think], what did he expect?...He expected to be the exception to the rule.” Andy Stanley

Predictable and Sane
Exceptions to the rule are exciting because they are fascinating, and because we all tend to wish for shortcuts and loopholes. (Winning the lottery is way easier than working hard.)
“But planning to be an exception is not much of a plan. Planning to be lucky is no plan at all.”
Andy Stanley


Forgiveness but Still Consequences
Consider the Algebra Student Who Apologizes to His Teacher for Failing the Exam.

Predictable and Sane
We Ask, “How could God let this happen to me? Why doesn’t He love me enough to bail me out?”
God’s love stood behind His careful tutoring and His warning.
Lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6


Predictable and Sane
Lean not unto your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him.
We all need outside information.
We all need to acknowledge our deficiency and the deficiency of our peers.


Predictable and Sane
“Deep in our hearts we all believe that we are too smart to make decisions that will adversely affect our lives. We are convinced that we are too careful. Too shrewd. Too experienced. But that’s because our propensity is to lean on our own understanding, to trust our own judgment.”
Andy Stanley






Predictable and Sane
Uh Oh! God’s rules make sense!
I see that my substance use has caused me to have an emotional problem.
I see that my credit cards are full (and strangers are calling for me), and my financial distress is causing me an emotional problem.
I see that my spouse is scarred by my habitual unpleasantness, and my failed marriage is causing me an emotional problem.
I see that my sharp tongue is causing problems at work, and the setbacks in my career are causing me to have an emotional problem.


TWO MAJOR QUESTIONS:
1.       REALLY, HOW IMPORTANT IS OBEDIENCE?
As important as your own happiness.
Obedience Is the Starting Point!
2.       WHY MUST OBEDIENCE BE THE KEY TO MY EMOTIONAL WELLNESS FOREVER?
Because There Is a Social Contract Between You and God—His breathtaking awesomeness for your loyalty.
Like the law of gravity, this is true for everyone, predictable, and sane.


Breathtaking Awesomeness for Loyalty
Predictable and Sane