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Posts Tagged ‘henry ward beecher’


Calculating an Advantage

 

Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

 

It is one of the worst effects of prosperity to make a man a vortex instead of a fountain; so that, instead of throwing out, he learns only to draw in.

—Henry Ward Beecher

Unfortunately, this generation of Christians has proven to be one of the weakest of all time. While there are millions who call themselves God’s children, most lead lives similar to people who have no interest in God or Christianity. Most Americans are hardened materialists, and so are most Christians.

Today’s Christians seek an advantage in everything they do, precisely like non-Christians. When Christians give, they expect something in return. In their minds, they say; “If I give this, what will You give me in return?” Or, “If I do what you ask, how will it enhance my position in the church and the community?”

People might couch their calculations in noble, selfless terms, precisely like a Pharisee would have in Christ’s day, but at the core of their being, they are calculating a profit or something that will elevate their status. This is the generation of “What’s in it for me?”

If this is true for rank and file believers, it’s even truer for religious leaders. In nearly everything they do, there is a self-seeking component to it. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, and none of it furthers God’s work on earth. Plus, it’s why there is so much religious abuse. When Christians—leaders and followers—are self-seeking, nobody wins, especially the Lord. If Christianity is anything, it’s about serving others, expecting nothing in return for it.

Christian leaders talk about being the servants of all but, by their actions, they are anything but servants, as they enhance their status by using, abusing, and discarding those who get in their way to stardom.

 

For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:18-20)

Jack Watts

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Refer to Step 6: I made a commitment to turn away from my pride and refused to become just like those who abused me.

 

 

He who is false to present duty breaks a thread in the loom, and will find the flaw when he may have forgotten its cause.

—Henry Ward Beecher

 

Much of the spiritual abuse, which debilitates thousands, comes from leaders of non-profit Christian ministries. Part of the problem stems from a mind-set that validates the belief that the ends justify the means. Because the ministry is doing God’s work, many leaders have myopic vision and a cavalier attitude about financial compensation for work that they’ve contracted. In an effort to be wise and frugal with “God’s money,” they authorize work they never pay for—not completely anyway.

Reasoning that the ministry goals supersede the need to be fundamentally fair with those who labor for them, they cheat people out of what they are owed and think they are being obedient to the Lord when they do it. Often, they applaud their decisions, counting the money saved by their behavior as a sign of godly stewardship. Forgetting that a workman is worthy of his or her wages, they may even smile with self-satisfaction, considering their actions laudable.

This attitude, which is deeply resented by those who have labored in good faith, is sinful and never God’s will. In my three decades of working with ministries, I have seen hundreds of people abused this way. It’s wrong and there’s no way to make cheating people out of what they are owed God’s Will. Nevertheless, ministries nationwide do it everyday, leaving emotional carnage in their wake.

Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. (Romans 12:7-8)

Jack Watts

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Calculating an Advantage

 

Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

 

It is one of the worst effects of prosperity to make a man a vortex instead of a fountain; so that, instead of throwing out, he learns only to draw in.

—Henry Ward Beecher

 

Unfortunately, this generation of Christians has proven to be one of the weakest ever. While there are millions who call themselves God’s children, most lead lives similar to people who have no interest in God or Christianity. Most Americans are hardened materialists, and so are most Christians.

Today’s Christians seek an advantage in everything they do, precisely like non-believers. When Christians give, they expect something in return. In their minds, they say; “If I give this, what will God give me in return?” Or, “If I do what God asks, how will it enhance my position in the church and the community?”

People might couch their calculations in noble, selfless terms, precisely like a Pharisee would have in Christ’s day, but at the core of their being, they are calculating a profit or something that will elevate their status. This is the generation of “What’s in it for me?”

If this is true for rank and file believers, it’s even truer for religious leaders. In nearly everything they do, there is a self-seeking component to it. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, and none of this furthers God’s work on earth. Plus, it’s why there is so much religious abuse. When Christians—leaders and followers—are self-seeking, nobody wins, especially the Lord. If Christianity is about anything of value, it’s about serving others, expecting nothing in return.

Christian leaders talk about being the servants of all but, by their actions, they are anything but servants, as they enhance their status by using, abusing, and discarding those who get in their way to stardom.

 

For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:18-20)

Jack Watts

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Character Development

Refer to Step 4: I believe that God understands my wounded-ness and He alone can heal me.

 

Adversity is the mint in which God stamps upon man his image and superscription.

—Henry Ward Beecher

When you see how carefree some people’s lives seem to be, do you ever wonder if God is holding you to a higher standard than He does others? Many people seem to have such a comfortable, easy life, while those of us in recovery—by way of contrast—seem to have a much more difficult time than they do.

If that’s true—and I believe it is—then what is the reason for it? What is the purpose? In my own life, I distinctly remember when I was thirty-three and prayed, “Father, thank You for sparing me from trouble. Everything has always gone so smoothly for me. Nothing bad or difficult has ever happened. My life has been free from pain and suffering. Thank You for that. I’m so grateful—so grateful.”

From my simplistic perspective, I believed what I prayed was true. God was taking care of me by sparing me from all the heartache suffered by others. Within a month from the time I uttered that prayer, things changed, and the subsequent thirty years have been filled with difficulties. Have I struggled and chafed under the strain of my circumstances? You bet—big time!

But I’ve also grown, and the growth was the purpose behind all the difficulties. God promises not to put more on us than we are able to endure which, at the time, never seems to be true. It always feels like the weight of our hardship will break us, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. He stretches us beyond our comfort zone, which is His intention. At the end of it, however, we develop deep character qualities, which we could not have obtained through any other means.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Jack Watts   Resources

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Refer to STEP 2: I refuse to continue living my life pursuing self-defeating behavior.

Troubles come to us like mire and filth; but, when mingled with the soil, they change to flower and fruit.

—Henry Ward Beecher

When you come to the end of yourself—when you’ve bottomed out and feel certain your future will remain forever bleak—that’s when God becomes more real than ever. It’s also the time when He is freest to change you in ways that count. Until a person reaches the end of himself or herself—until a person hits absolute rock bottom—then their self-will, which is always ambitious, has ends of its own to serve.

People can’t help themselves. It is just part of human nature. At the same time, it’s only when a person has bottomed out that God has full sway in that person’s life.

It’s also the place where real, fundamental change in character can be achieved. It’s not an enjoyable place but, more often than not, it’s a necessary place. Being broken is always difficult but, when a person reaches that point, God is always there to meet them. It’s the place where a person is willing to admit his or her faults candidly—the place where self-seeking ends and reality begins.

When a person is broken, crushed by abuse and the vicissitudes of life, then change may be just around the corner. For transformation to occur, however, the person needs to embrace humility, while at the same time, repudiating self-pity. The former leads to growth; the latter to resentment, self-defeating behavior, and a wasted life.

Has this ever happened to you? If so, what you do with your situation is your choice. When you hit the bottom, you can do the work necessary for recovery, which is choosing a life of value—bearing worthwhile fruit, or you can wallow in your resentment, which produces the fruit of bitterness—wallowing in self-pity.

For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)

Jack Watts   Resources

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Refer to STEP 5: I recognize the only way back to a productive life is exactly the way I came. I have to repair my relationship with God and make amends with everyone I have wronged along the way.

Adversity is the mint in which God stamps upon man his image and superscription.

—Henry Ward Beecher

When spiritual abuse occurs, there is always the temptation to conclude God doesn’t care or that He really isn’t there—not really. To feel this way is normal, at least for a while. Along with these feelings, the following question is universally asked: “If God is really in charge of everything, then how could he have allowed this to happen?”

Even Christ asked the question when He was on the cross—”Why have You forsaken Me?”

With Christ, the answer is obvious. If God had rescued His Son, Christ would not have died for our sins. Being forever lost, we would have no way to reestablish a relationship with God. I’m grateful that He didn’t, aren’t you?

But why didn’t God rescue you or those people in Oklahoma? He could have, but He chose not to. Instead, He allows people to go through a world of suffering. Why would He do that? Does it mean He doesn’t really care about us after all? In your own circumstance, when God didn’t rescue you, did that mean you were abandoned by Him?

No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means He has treated you like a son or a daughter, allowing you to suffer at the hands of someone abusive—just like He allowed His Son to suffer at the hands of the Pharisees. God could have rescued Jesus, but He didn’t.

God had a purpose for what happened to Christ, and He has a purpose for what happened to you as well. Knowing how many hairs you have on your head, God knows your situation more intimately than you do. He is aware of every aspect of your abuse and, no matter how badly you’ve been hurt, He is still in charge—no matter what.

His silence may seem unjust, but it is not. His silence may seem unkind and unloving, but it is not. You may not feel His presence and you probably don’t, but He is there for you no matter what. You can not only count on it, but you must count on it.

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)

Jack Watts   Resources

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Refer to Step 6: I made a commitment to turn away from my pride and refused to become just like those who abused me.

 

He who is false to present duty breaks a thread in the loom, and will find the flaw when he may have forgotten its cause.

—Henry Ward Beecher

Much of the spiritual abuse, which debilitates thousands, comes from leaders of non-profit Christian ministries. Part of the problem stems from a mind-set that validates the belief that the ends justify the means. Because the ministry is doing God’s work, many leaders have myopic vision and a cavalier attitude about financial compensation for work they’ve contracted. In an effort to be wise and frugal with “God’s money,” they authorize work they never pay for—not completely anyway.

Reasoning that the ministry goals supersede the need to be fundamentally fair with those who labor for them, they cheat people out of what they are owed and think they are being obedient to the Lord when they do so. Often, they applaud such decisions, counting the money saved by their egregious behavior as a sign of godly stewardship.

Forgetting that a workman is worthy of his or her wages, they may even smile with self-satisfaction, considering their actions laudable. This attitude, which is deeply resented by those who have labored in good faith, is sinful and never God’s will. In my three decades of working with ministries, however, I have seen hundreds of people abused this way. It’s wrong and there’s no way to make cheating people out of what they are owed God’s will. Nevertheless, ministries nationwide do it routinely, creating devastating emotional carnage in their wake.

Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. (Romans 12:7-8)

Jack Watts

Read Full Post »

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