The Quick Fix


A frantic call comes to the counselors office, “I need to talk to someone. My husband might be having an affair and I am so worried…” Eventually, a 30 ish couple sits before the counselor and one after the other they punch and counter punch, shifting blame, denying responsibility, and once they have finally aired their laundry, they both look at the professional fixer of broken people and their faces ask “What now?”

The man and his wife were raised by parents who were careful to not offend their child’s sensibilities, resulting in few hard rules, and blurred limits that resulted in controlled chaos. The wife’s parents ruled by consensus with each member of the family having a voice in solving any problems. The husband’s mother is a domineering woman married to a man who is passive personified. The result is two children who are immature, spoiled, and every slight bump in the road of life causes them both to quickly play the victim card. Everything is someone else’s fault.

The counselor, now two and a half years into his practice, is a trained professional. His specialized training fits this case perfectly. Had they not both already declared each is a victim he would have done it for them. What he knows is that everyone’s social problems as adults are not really their fault but a result of childhood emotional trauma.

This husband and wife just wasted a large fee because they are sitting in the office of a person who is not equipped to tell them the truth but will only play to their weaknesses. The counselor is frustrated too because he knows this couple is headed for divorce court and he can do little to stop it. He will spend the next six weeks asking the wrong questions, gathering data that us useless. Information is not the answer, truth is.

I think in most cases a “Christian Counselor” is better than one who is not a Christian. I know for sure that a “Biblical Counselor” is better than a “Christian Counselor”. He or she may be a PhD with a certification in family therapy. Or it might be a pastor, some other church leader, or a trusted friend who is brave enough to tell troubled people the truth. A trained counselor who happens to be a Christian is far different from a trained counselor who is a “Biblical counselor”.

The problem with failed marriages is almost always SIN. There are often as in this example sins of infidelity and other “big sins”. But there is also selfishness, unforgiveness, lying, and a host of others that cause couples who were once deeply in love to look for a way out. It takes courage to look someone in the eye and tell them the obvious but it needs to be done.

Divorce is at epidemic levels even among evangelical Christians. The bad news is that the trend will continue as long as church leaders accept unrepentant people whose lives are full of sin as members in good standing in their congregations. The Quick Fix is divorce. Just hire an attorney, tell the kids, split up the stuff, and move on. The problem isn’t solved. Yes, a marriage is dissolved. But, one or more people leaves the court-house still in rebellion against the former spouse and God.

A Christian man and a Christian woman, both of whom are walking in the Spirit, are daily experiencing, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A person who is living in this reality does not have divorce on his or her mind. It is the person who is experiencing some of these things, sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like who is ready for the Quick Fix.

A person who has a sin filled life needs to hear one word plainly and forcefully, Repent! Our churches are filled with Christians who are trying desperately to live the Christ life in the energy and resources of the flesh. It has never worked and it will not work. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit is it possible to live in the victory of the Christ life. We are to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Christians are to live their lives in happy submission to each other and especially so in marriage.

There is little doubt that if two troubled people will sincerely repent, forsaking every known sin and asking their God to fill them with himself, they can do what is necessary to save a holy union. Paul encouraged the Ephesians saying,

“put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self,created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
(Ephesians 4:22-24)

A believer can live like the old person or like the new person created to please God. Don’t go for the Quick Fix. Honestly, the best you know how, confess your sins and purpose to turn away from them and trust God to change you into the person you really want to be.

I write this as one who long ago was in a divorce court. I have many, many friends who are divorced, some as many as 3 times. It isn’t right. It is against God and his will. I do hope we, all of us who call Christ our Lord, will try to do things God’s way and not our way which always fails.

Royce Ogle

Teaching truth vs. fighting error


uturnLooking out over the beautiful vista of the Gulf of Mexico with wite sand, sparkling blue water, and a distant fishing boat swaying with the waves is a perfect, calming atmosphere for hearing from God. I was just moments ago reading 2 Timothy and it is like God shook me and said “Wake up Royce!” No, I did not hear an audible voice, but I assure you God has spoken to me.

“So flee youthful passions (or, old comfortable habits) and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness, that God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:22-26)

I am guilty of flagrantly violating the teaching of this passage of scripture. I am guilty of doing exactly what this passages says not to do (“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies”) often at the expense of not doing what I should be doing (but the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness). I am far too often glib, rude, and impatient with those I am trying to correct. I am certainly not gentle. I have even sort of secretly looked foward to the quarrel and I have become good at being quarrelsome.

My repentance includes leaving off the things mentioned above and concentrating on the Truth that sets men free. May God please grant me love for those with whom I disagree, paitence, and thick skin. I apologize to those to whom I have been less than loving, short on kindness, and for not looking out for their best interests, even when I am convinced they are wrong.

“..in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20,21)

I pray these precious promises will be true in my life…

Desing to be used,
Royce

What is Repentance?


“Repent!” was the common message of John the Baptist, of Jesus, and of Peter. Peter having been baptized with the Holy Spirit preached the good news about Jesus to his murderers and the others and they were deeply convicted and convinced of their need of Christ and His forgiveness and cried out “What must we do?” (Acts 2:38) Peter’s answer was “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”.

 

I think it is odd then that some people teach that a sinner must “clean his life up” (repent) before he can become a Christian. And, because of this teaching I have given the good news about Jesus to men who have responded, “I am not good enough yet”, or “I am not ready yet, I need to change some things in my life”. Asking a sinner to change his life is like asking a corpse to wave at you, it is impossible.

 

Repentance is not unlike faith as I discussed in my last post. Repentance is not subjective, but like faith it is objective. Faith’s object is Christ. Acts 2:21 says it well, “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ”. I made the case that biblical, saving faith, begins at a moment in time and is proved up by corresponding works. In the same way repentance occurs at a moment in time and is proved up by a lifestyle change. Consider these verses that clearly make this clear. Stopping bad behavior and beginning good behavior is not repentance but rather the evidence you have repented.

 

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance(Matthew 3:8) 

But declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” (Acts 26:20) 

Just as with faith, good works show that you have faith, they are not the cause of it, so too good deeds show you have repented, they are not repentance. The person who has truly repented will live differently. His lifestyle will show he has repented.

 

To those who are depending on their own works of righteousness the Hebrew writer said “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” (Hebrews 6:1) Here it is clear that repentance and faith are foundational, they are the starting point of becoming a Christian. It should be noted that one of the things a penitent sinner should change is to stop depending on dead works (self righteousness).

 

Repentance, like faith, is given by God. The ability to truly repent is given by God.

 

“God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31) 

“When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18) 

“…Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth”.(2 Timothy 2:25) 

Only when the Holy Spirit has done His blessed work will a sinner trust Christ and change his mind about the direction of his life. Repentance and faith are so closely joined together that they can’t be understood well apart from each other. No person can fully trust Christ without a change of mind about how he is living. And, no person can fully repent who does not place his trust in Christ.

 

Repentance is no more than a divinely enabled choice to do a mental U-turn. Repentance is to change one’s mind and thus the direction of one’s lifestyle. It is impossible to turn to Christ and not turn away from sin. And it is impossible to turn from sin without turning toward Christ.

 

How can you tell if a person has repented? This is the way the Bible describes it. Jesus spoke to Paul saying in part “I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
(Acts 26:17, 18) The same truth is stated again “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1Thessalonians 1:9) People who have truly repented will not only have a change of mind but a change of life.

 

The message has not changed. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30, 31)

 

Jesus Christ will be the measure God uses to judge sinful men. You will both be justified, and finally saved at the resurrection because you have repented and turned to Christ, or you will be lost. Those who depend on their good deeds as a substitute or a supplement to what Christ has accomplished are living dangerously. “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. (2 Corinthians 10:12) If you judge yourself to be right with God because of what you do, I ask you, to whom are you comparing yourself? Only when you compare yourself to Jesus’ holy life will you see your need of him. Perhaps it is time to repent.

 

Royce