preachthecross.org Blog

March 24, 2009

Mark’s Response to Comment from M.V. on 3-08-09

Filed under: Uncategorized — Administrator @ 3:26 pm

Take heart, my friend, for what I understand seems to you to be “impossible” really is not at all; as “all things are possible with God”. Your struggles are not the least bit strange to God, nor “impossible” for Him to quite effectively deal with. You have simply been “sowing” or investing your time and efforts in the wrong places, and in the wrong way. You have also erred in assuming that mere human reasoning or logic can address spiritual phenomena (warfare); e.g., assuming the only dialectic is “human effort & works to be holy” or “wanton sin”. Sexual sin is not your problem; rather, it is your not understanding the depth and power of the Grace of God, and the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We don’t grow in righteousness in “recovery” groups, or “support” groups, or “accountability” groups, or any other form of human (wordly) wisdom, reasonings, and works. We grow in righteousness in small imperceptible increments which HE crafts while WE are investing our entire focus on Christ and Him Crucified.
Perhaps you recall the scene of Jesus coming to visit at the home of Mary and Martha. Martha was “distracted and burdened with much serving” (human effort/works), while her sister Mary “sat at the Master’s feet and heard His every Word”. You have been as Martha, when you need to be as Mary.
This is the same lesson of the children of Israel being bitten by serpents in the wilderness (sin–including perverse sexual sins). The “remedy” was for Moses to fashion a serpent of brass on a pole (Christ and Him Crucified), and “lift it up before the people”, commanding them to keep their entire focus fixed on it. While they stared intently on it, the healing process ensued, and they lived. When they looked away, or attempted traditional remedies (human works), their symptoms got worse, and they died. Talk about a “test of faith”. Our situation is no different.
God is asking that you direct your “faith” at Him, rather than your own weakness and failings. God sees all that, but it doesn’t matter to Him. What matters is what He did for you, and in you, at the Cross of Christ. That is what HE focuses on.
Satan’s game is to condemn you in your conscience for every sin and every failure at trying to stop sinning. He does this to get you to focus on yourself, inspire self-loathing, and eventually get you to renounce “faith” because it “didn’t work”. We help him win when we take our eyes off the serpent of brass, and scramble frantically for traditional remedies we understand and can control (accountability groups, support groups, abstinence, etc.).
Romans 12:1,2 says we are “transformed by the renewing of the mind”. The mind is renewed at the Cross of Christ. That’s where you need to park yourself and focus all of your attention and devotion. 1 John 1:9 is the interim “bar of soap” as we go along in the process and fall in the mud from time to time. The key is to confess EVERY sin to the Father immediately, never attempting to hide anything. THAT is the ONLY “accountability” God commands: to Him, not other fallen, failing men. Like salvation, this process is meant to be a one-on-one, personal process between you, Jesus and the Father. Don’t let anyone else into this process except someone who knows what is going on and keeps you focused on the Cross.
Go to my website and read some of the tenets under “About This Ministry”, and the scriptures in the Further Study/Exegesis.Read Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians in Chapter 1. Then, ASK God to give you a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” –Jesus Christ, and the “work GOD DID in Him, and YOU, there at the Cross”). Like Peter walking on the water, the “trick”, if I can use that trivial term, is to not focus on the natural circumstances (sin and your own failure), but to look at Jesus, and the COMPLETE work at the Cross. That word “complete” is the a hint at something very profound; and that is your first “assignment” in your new spiritual outlook. Go dig up the the treasure God buried there. (It is what Paul referred to as a “mystery” in 1 Corinthians 2, and Ephesians 3). Then write me when you start to “see”.
May God bless you in His infinite and unfailing love and Grace, M.V. I will pray for you.
In Christ,
Mark

3-08-09; Response to OC Register column on 3-08-09; from WTL

Filed under: Uncategorized — Administrator @ 3:17 pm

NOTE: This comment was posted at the Preach The Cross.org website, and I transferred it here to include it in the dialogue–Mark

From: WTL

Superb, right on, and long overdue message for all Christians to hear and, frankly, churches to preach.

If more people who called themselves Christians learned what it really means to be born again (i.e. a Christian) — accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, with evidence of a changed life through repentance and good works — there would be fewer hypocrites in the church and a lot less tolerance of sinful behavior. So simple, yet so profound.

Nice work, Mark. The Lord is smiling on you.

From You Can’t Lose What You Don’t Have—A response to William Lobdell’s book “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting On Religion In America”, 2009/03/08 at 4:57 PM

Comment from M.V. 3-8-09: Your Newspaper Column responding to William Lobdell’s article in the OC Register Feb 24, ‘09

Filed under: Uncategorized — marcharr3 @ 3:01 pm

Posting Date: Sunday, March 8, 2009

Posted by:  M.V.
 
> I just read your Register column about William Lobdell.
> It touches a nerve in me.
>
> I was raised on the Bible and in the church, poured myself into serving, believed that Christ worked within me, taught the Bible for years, and have “fallen away” like William Lobdell, out of the very tension that your column addresses, but does not answer.
>
> The exhausting act of “self effort” to stay pure sexually, which you call “self-worship”, indeed led to exhaustion and even collapse.
> This happened in the context of three years of accountability in a sincere Christian recovery group. I gave up, not only on the group, but on any hope in the impossible claims between grace and works. To try to be holy by Christian standards leaves me to “self effort”. To not try leaves me to what Christians call sin, and I am left outside the church.
>
> How do you reconcile Christian sexual demands on those for whom it seems as impossible as the demand not to eat or drink? How does “grace” apply to those who don’t continue in the path of sexual chastity because they’re too weak or exhausted-from-trying? How does a man “repent” without self-effort?
>
> I do not see how this can be reconciled, and I don’t see that your column ever expresses that it can. You seem to put out the same Damned-if-you-don’t and equally Damned-if-you-do-and-keep-failing that I embraced for over forty years and then collapsed from almost a decade ago.
>
> What do you tell a longing lost Christian?

THE CROSS–THE POWER TO SAVE, THE POWER TO MATURE US AND GUIDE US

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 3:01 pm

              "The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish (regressing) foolishness, but to us which are saved (Gr. "sozo"–eternal context; past, present, future/eternity) it is the Power of God"  1 Corinthians 1:18       Think about it, the message of the Cross–Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection–has the POWER to accomplish the most amazing miracle of all creation: translating someone out of the kingdom of death and darkness and an eternity of separation from God, and into an eternity WITH Him in the Kingdom of Life and Light.  The only "WORK" required on our part is FAITH in GOD’S WORKING at the Cross.   He does it all; which is why the scripture says he "sat down" and rested from all His works, and why He alone gets all the glory and the honor.  We cannot add to it; just accept it by faith.         Yet the Church today is NOT "resting" in that work, and it is not exercising FAITH in the cross (after the initial confession of faith) and is, in fact, trying to add to God’s work at the cross: the inner sanctification or spiritual maturation process.   Gone is even the ability to apply common sense to understand that if God is able to perform the greatest and most difficult miracle–the eternal saving of one’s soul in the instant of one’s SINCERE confession of faith in the Cross–then surely He must be able to control and direct the on-going sanctification process.  Surely we TRUST that He will perform the miracle of ushering us into His presence at the moment of our physical death, right?          Anyone know what they are going to "do" when they die to help bring about  our hope of eternal life at that clearly helpless moment?  Didn’t think so…       We certainly did not "do" anything in the past to be born physically, right?  …didn’t  "do" anything in the past to be born spiritually, right?  …and certainly  won’t "do" anything in the future to be glorified after death, right?   Then WHY do we think we have some ability to "do" anything in the present to take pro-active control of the sanctification process?  Why do we let our natural mind rise up–right now as you just read this–and scream "No way!; that’s preposterous, we have to "do" something!"            Of course, I’m not referring to the outward activities of reading the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, and worship, which we can "do".  I’m referring to what the Bible refers to as the INNER work; the renewing of the mind, and in becoming truly transformed in one’s inward nature.    That is GOD’s work, and He has a "way" that it is accomplished, with HIM FULLY IN CONTROL.  It is the same "way" that He started with, and will finish with: the Cross.  That is why the eternal tense word "sozo" is so important to bear in mind when reading 1 Corinthians 1;18.  That is why Paul chastized the Galatians Christians in saying "O, foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you (literally allowed demons to control one’s thinking), having begun in the Spirit (faith in the Cross), will ye now be made perfect (complete spiritually) in the flesh (human reasoning and works).          God has indeed finished the ENTIRE work.   We are the ones who don’t believe it, and believe we must somehow add to it and help Him.  God has indeed rested, and calls us to enter into that rest.          The focus of this ministry is instructing people in HOW to "labor", in faith, to enter into God’s Rest, and allow God to perform and complete the "work" in them.  

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