B.C. Askins

The Man With the Golden Gun

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Fatherhood Reflections: Nature vs. Nurture

It’s an old debate. Which is more influential on the character of a person? Their nature by birth or the conditions of their life experiences? Are we a”blank slate” written upon by our environment or a fixed genetic code determined to be what we are regardless of circumstance?

Much ink has been spilled arguing in favor of one, the other, or some combination of the two. Allow me to make a pragmatic point directed at fathers: it doesn’t matter. You’re responsible for both.

You pass your nature and heredity on to your children – which is your responsibility. You set their environmental conditions thereafter – which is your responsibility. The entire character of your children is your responsibility. While it may be in a different manner, you are equally as responsible for the character (thoughts, words, actions, behavior patterns) of your children as you are for your own. If your child curses at his siblings, the child is clearly responsible for his words; but don’t miss that it is your nature acting in him and you have set all of the environmental conditions which allowed that action to occur. You are equally responsible.

It won’t do to blame your father for passing his rotten nature to you, as though you’re some passive victim of circumstance. His responsibility is his and he doesn’t have any room for your responsibility as well. And it won’t do to abdicate your responsibility for raising your children by pretending they are purely autonomous individuals over which you have no authority. Surely they bear responsibility for themselves – but they are responsible to you.

…and no one is adequate to this task. It is heart-stopping to look out at the mountains of my parental responsibilities and look inward at my parental paralysis to fulfill them. I was created in God’s image and have passed that to my children; but my nature is corrupted by sin and I have passed that on as well, effacing His image into obscurity. Only the grace of a perfect Heavenly Father and the obedience of a perfect Eternal Son applied to me by the Holy Spirit in a new birth with a new nature – a gracious nature producing a gracious nurture – can redeem parents like me. Like you. And children like mine. And yours.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you…  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, 10-11)

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Sermon Manuscript: Romans 2:6 (Part 4)

(This is a section of a manuscript of the first prepared sermon I ever preached, which was in 2009 at the Evangelical Church of Fairport.)

Romans 2:6, “He will render to each one according to his works…”

It is also true that some of the most selflessly loving acts are performed in secret. All the sacrifices, good deeds and secret works done on behalf of Christ will receive a reward. The greatest deeds that God delights in are those that are done by his servants when they have shut the door and are alone with him; when they have no other motive but to please him; when they intentionally avoid publicity, choosing the final praise of God over the immediate praise of men; when the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. It would be an injustice if such deeds were left out at the final judgment. This fact should be a great incentive for kingdom work. We strive for righteousness and make our bodies living sacrifices not to receive the praise of men but to hear the words of our precious Savior, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Mt. 25:34). The wise and diligent Christian lays up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Mt. 6:20). The fervent believer runs the race so that he may obtain a prize (1 Cor. 9:24). The faithful servant will receive an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25). What is done for Christ will last forever. “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.” (2 Jn. 8). Be diligent. Run the race. Fight the good fight, for your labors in Christ are never in vain. You will receive a reward that can never perish or be taken away when our king returns.

Now Scripture testifies that the final judgment is a public event. Jesus will return in glory surrounded by the host of heaven. As the judge he will summon all mankind (Mt. 25:32) and the dead will arise at His call (Jn 5:28-29), coming forth from their graves and even the oceans will give up the dead within them (Rev. 20:13). God has ordained the final day to be public for several reasons.
First, its public nature will glorify Christ. Our Lord who was publicly humiliated, condemned as a criminal and crucified will be publicly exalted and vindicated before the whole human race. Every mouth will be stopped and every knee will bow before Him.

Second, God has decreed that the secrets of men whether good or evil will be exposed in a very public manner. Every sinner will hear the story of his wicked life published to his everlasting shame. The public nature of the event is obviously intended to magnify the guilt, shame and dread of the occasion.

Third, the public nature of the event is also a vindication of the saints. Not only will God’s people witness the exposure and condemnation of their enemies and persecutors; the persecutors of faithful Christians, the skeptics and mockers of the truth, will witness the gracious exaltation of believers for the fruits of faith, the good works done in the body. It is a day when the tables are turned, when the humble shall be exalted, the meek shall inherit the earth and the wicked, the proud, and the boastful shall be abased. All who laughed at the truth will be publicly cast into hell.

Human history has a terminus point, a time of reckoning. God permitted a long age of rebellion. For thousands of years God has showed patience and longsuffering to a wicked world. He has blessed the wicked with sunshine, rain, food and delights of every kind (beautiful beaches, lovely sunsets, family, friends, sex, a good night’s sleep, great food, fun vacations, laughter and pleasure). But a day is coming when all rebellion will be crushed. For the unrepentant this life is the closest thing to heaven they will ever experience. There has been a long day for sinning; therefore, God has ordained a special day for judgment. The definitive victory over evil that Christ achieved at the cross becomes a perfected reality on that day when the sheep are forever separated from the goats. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom. 2:4-5)

Erasmus’ Principles on How to Be Strong While Remaining Virtuous in a Dangerous World: 19

SPEAK WITH YOURSELF THIS WAY:

If I do what I am considering, would I want my family to know about it?

Sermon Manuscript: Romans 2:6 (Part 3)

(This is a section of a manuscript of the first prepared sermon I ever preached, which was in 2009 at the Evangelical Church of Fairport.)

Romans 2:6, “He will render to each one according to his works…”

Tonight, I will respond briefly to the objections of believer and unbeliever by attempting to bring the full weight of the Scripture to bear upon the concepts of judgment and justification. Then we will look at three different, but common, formulations of justification: two of them are false and one is true. Which of them you believe is something for which you are permanently responsible.

So Christopher Hitchens accuses God of being a cosmic voyeur and that the idea that God will judge us for our thoughts is, to him, repulsive. Like many of the assertions of the so-called “New Atheists,” this barely deserves a response. It’s not an argument, so it can’t really be refuted. If he and I were to have a discussion or debate on the matter, and he were to raise this objection I might simply reply, “Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, dude.” Hitchens, like many atheists, gets thing precisely backwards, assuming that he is the judge and God is the one on trial. Nothing could be further out of touch with reality. However, his assertion does raise the question, why does God judge even the secrets of men? After all, no court on earth does such a thing.

The answer is a simple one. Our distinction between public and private sins does not exist for God. He is everywhere present and all-knowing. Every instant he is everywhere, seeing and evaluating everything. We live every moment of our lives as though performed on a stage before him. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Heb. 4:13). As I said, everything you do is permanent and you are responsible for everything you do.

God will judge men’s thoughts – ” Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Cor. 4:5); He will judge men’s words – ” I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt. 12:36-37); and he will judge men’s deeds – “And then will (Christ) declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Mt. 7:23). “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’” (Mt. 25:41-43).

The secret things will be judged because perfect justice demands it. Some of the most heinously wicked acts in all of history have been done in secret. All sins will be laid bare. Secret offenses will be brought into judgment. This includes the hidden motives of every action; for we may do that which is right from a wrong motive, and so the deed may be evil in the sight of God, though it seems right in the sight of others. The secret things are of the very essence of our actions. Whether or not an action is good or bad very much depends on the motives behind it. It may seem good, but the motive may tarnish it; and so, if God did not judge the secret part of the action he would not judge righteously.

Think what it will be to have your motives all brought to light, to have it proven that you were godly for the sake of gain, that you were generous as a mere exhibition, or zealous simply for the love of praise, that you spoke carefully in public to maintain a good reputation, but that all the while everything was done for self, and self only. Indeed, on that day God will reveal all secrets, even secrets that were secrets to the sinners themselves, for there is sin in us which we have never seen, and iniquity in us which we have never yet discovered. We have managed for our own comfort’s sake to blind our eyes somewhat, and we take care to look away from the things about ourselves which it is inconvenient to see; but we shall be compelled to see everything in that day, when the Lord judges the secrets of men. The deeds of the night. The sins hidden behind closed doors. Even sins hidden from husband or wife. If a professing Christian is living in dishonesty, untruthfulness, fornication, adultery, uncleanness or idolatry it will all be made known on that day. For “the sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later (or trail behind them NIV).” (1 Tim. 5:24). All hypocrisy will come to an end on that day. Hypocrites will have an eternity to ponder their foolishness and shame.

Erasmus’ Principles on How to Be Strong While Remaining Virtuous in a Dangerous World: 18

CALM YOUR PASSIONS BY SEEING HOW LITTLE THERE IS TO GAIN.

We often worry and scheme about trifling matters of no real importance.

Overtraining

English: A drawing of the sun with an angry fa...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So after Double Murph at the end of April and May: Michael Murphy’s Merry Marauding Month-long Memorial Muscle Massacre (i.e. four Murphs in a month, including a Heavy Murph and an attempted Pro Mask Murph) and doing ridiculous workouts while moving into our new home (box jumps on truck tail gates, walking lunges with boxes overhead, etc.) I managed to completely fry my Central Nervous System. Whodathunk?

So now I’m thoroughly acquainted with what overtraining is like. It started feeling like I was going to have momentary muscle failure just walking up steps or holding a fork full of veggies. At least I didn’t get a visit from Uncle Rhabdo

So I took the last three or so weeks more-or-less off from intense physical training. But I got back to it today – however, I think I’m going to be following a somewhat boring (to write about) weight-lifting routine, calculated to maximize natural production of HGH and Test. So no crazy WODs on the blog, at least for awhile. I expect they’ll be back with a vengeance sometime before fall. Also need to ramp up my running mileage in preparation for me Mudder.

Erasmus’ Principles on How to Be Strong While Remaining Virtuous in a Dangerous World: 17

ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION.

So when the time comes for battle, you will know what to do.

Sermon Manuscript: Romans 2:6 (Part 2)

(This is a section of a manuscript of the first prepared sermon I ever preached, which was in 2009 at the Evangelical Church of Fairport.)

Romans 2:6, “He will render to each one according to his works…”

According to the gospel, on that day of final judgment God will judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. The judgment will be according to works and it will be public and it will be exhaustive. No secret thought or motivation left unpunished or unrewarded. I will see your sins… and you will see mine. I will see how you really thought about me and why you have done the things you have done. I will see how you’ve thought about my wife. And you will be called upon to give an answer for every careless word spoken, every lustful glance, every self-centered motive, every rebellious action. If the idea of the rest of us seeing publicly all of the shameful things you have thought, said and done terrifies you, then that is a legitimate response. It is legitimate, but not at all adequate. How lowly we must think of the God who sees and knows all, how little we must think of the judge with whom we have to deal, to be terrified at the idea of other mere men and women observing our wickedness and self-righteousness, but not terrified enough to stop ourselves from sinning before the face of God! “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt. 10:28) “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me…” (Ps. 139:23) He will. Oh yes, he will.

Objections to this clear doctrine of Scripture abound, from both professing Christians and unbelievers. 

The unbeliever objects to the entire idea of judgment, of punishment, of hell on many different levels. Atheist journalist Christopher Hitchens decries the concept of “thought-crimes” held against us by what he calls a “voyeuristic deity.” Another objection is that even if certain people do deserve punishment in certain cases, such as Hitler or Pol Pot, there is still no reason for that punishment to be everlasting, unceasing.

Professing Christian will object that the Bible says that the sins of believers are covered (Ps. 32:1), washed away (Ps. 51:2), cast into the depth of the sea (Mic. 7:19), never to be remembered by God (Isa. 43:25). That we are justified by faith alone.

Believers, allow me to make clear to you at the outset that the degree to which you are resistant to this biblical doctrine of universal judgment according to works is the degree to which you have misunderstood the doctrine of justification. It is the degree to which antinomianism (or lawlessness) has eclipsed the gospel of Christ in your understanding. And the degree to which you feel natural comfort in the face of this troubling doctrine is the degree to which legalism has surpassed Christ in your heart. It is my hope that before we are through this evening that the gospel of grace will be set forth clearly on this question of the final judgment, so that you can be freed from lawlessness and legalism, the two “thieves” between which the gospel of Christ is perennially “crucified.”

Erasmus’ Principles on How to Be Strong While Remaining Virtuous in a Dangerous World: 16

NEVER ADMIT DEFEAT EVEN IF YOU HAVE BEEN WOUNDED.

The good soldier’s painful wounds spur him to gather his strength.

Erasmus’ Principles on How to Be Strong While Remaining Virtuous in a Dangerous World: 15

WEIGH YOUR ALTERNATIVES CAREFULLY.

The wrong way will often seem easier than the right way.

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