"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Friday, August 20, 2021

"I Just Don't Want You To Think..." Reveals Much

A gambling addict, a believer in Jesus Christ, recently found himself on the front page of our local newspaper for confessing to embezzling thousands of dollars from his employer (he's given me permission to tell his story).

A few weeks earlier this man had called me and confessed to his crime.

Having been accused of embezzlement by his employer, this man told me that he faced prison time if the courts convicted him of stealing. His attorney counseled him "not to confess, but to plead 'not guilty.'" The attorney was hoping to get a reduced sentence that could possibly include no prison time."

This man asked me, "What should I do?"

I responded, "Are you guilty?"

He answered "Yes."

I said, "Then go to the police station, turn yourself in, and tell them the truth."

He did.

His picture and the story of his confession appeared on the front page of our paper the following day.

Very few criminals turn themselves in and confess to a crime. To me, what this man did is evidence that God's grace is at work within him.

Anyway, back to the appointment with the gambling addict after his public exposure in the paper.

He told me he thinks he finally has come to an understanding of "why" he gambles.

Pay attention.
"Throughout my life, I've always had the goal of people liking me. I need people to accept and love me. I purpose to get acceptance from others. But most of the time I feel rejected. I feel lacking as a human being. Whenever I feel like a failure (which is most days), and whenever I feel rejected by people (which is very often), I find myself desiring to gamble. It's finally dawned on me that every time I win at the casino, lights go off, people praise me, and I get the "substitute high" of being good enough and being "approved of" as a human. I feel like a "winner," whereas in life I most often feel like a loser.  I'm not giving you an excuse for my gambling addiction; I'm only telling you that I believe I've put my finger on the source of why I gamble."
Wise words indeed.

I believe if all of us will take a close look at any maladjustments in our lives, we'll find the roots of our problems in our misplaced goals and purpose.

I tell people all the time:
"If you ever think, 'I just don't want people to think,' or if you ever say 'I just don't want you to feel,' then you have a misplaced goal and reveal much about yourself.
Those who are concerned and try to control what other people think or feel are addicts in waiting. By the way, addiction to sugar, religion, beauty, work, and other legal (and good things) can be as harmful to the individual person as addictions to gambling, drugs, illicit sex, and other illegal things are. It should go without saying that the latter things (eg. "illegal things") often bring far greater pain to other persons.

With Wrong Goals and Purpose in Place, People Become Addicted

Everyone knows what goals and purpose are. We all set goals, and we all think about purpose.

Without goals and purpose, a person becomes aimless. With wrong goals and purpose, a person becomes addicted.

Now, let's talk about our goals in terms of God.

What is your goal spiritually? What is your purpose in terms of your relationship with God?

99% of all people would respond to those two questions by saying:
 "My purpose is to be pleasing to God."
Then, when it comes to "how" one is pleasing to God, the answer is usually:
 "By doing what He commands."
I propose to you that any attempt to please God by obedience to His standards is a wrong goal that leads to addiction. 

To seek to become pleasing to God by your actions is a misplaced purpose.

You already are pleasing to God through the Christ, who is the end of the law to everyone who believes, for it is written:
"For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). 

"But wait," you may say, "I read the Bible for myself and it says that God's acceptance, blessings, and favor are on us when we obey His Law!"

"Listen to this, Wade!"
"If you obey the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your livestock, both the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out…. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you. The Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings." (Deuteronomy 28:2-711–12)
"And Wade, listen to these three paragraphs from the Law":
"However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. 
The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your countryinto dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.
The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you." (Detueronomy 28:15-29). 
"Wade Burleson, how can you read those two passages above and ever suggest to anyone that attempting to please God by a goal of obedience to Law is a misplaced goal or a meaningless purpose in life?"

Good question.

Let the New Covenant Scriptures answer that question:

Christ Is the End of the LAW to Them Who Believe
"For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). 

The word translated "end" is the Greek word τέλος which was used by ancient Greek writers to mean goal or purpose.

Most of the anti-Nicene Christian fathers (pre-3rd century AD) translated τέλος as "goal" or "purpose." 

What does it mean that Christ "is the goal or purpose of the Law"? 

Simply put:
"Jesus Christ is God's consummate goal and purpose for which God gave the Law."
The Law's purpose was not given for you to obey and to become "pleasing to God."

Nope.

 In fact, when God introduced the Law, all that did was make you a worse sinner by revealing even more of your sin.
"I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the Law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the Law had not said, 'You shall not covet'" (Romans 7:7). 
Any church, religious organization, or lifestyle that emphasizes obedience to Law to be pleasing to God has missed the Gospel. 

Christ is the purpose of the Law to everyone who believes.

The Law is about Him.

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:24).
So if you wish to ever be free from addictions in this life (legal or illegal), then get an understanding that you are pleasing to God by the performance and Person of Jesus the Anointed One (Messiah) on your behalf. 

Theologians call this imputed righteousness.

I call it living life feeling the pleasure of God independent of my performance.
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11). 

30 comments:

Scott Shaver said...

10 to 16,000 Afghan Christians may be breathing their last as we sleep tonight. Americans and allies abandoned to savages outfitted with U.S. military gear, rifles and armour.

Any dreams won't be pleasant here.

Christiane said...

Hello Wade,
I find some value in looking at the many interpretations and insights Christian people have of Our Lord's parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, in how these two men came into God's House and prayed, but only one went home 'justified'.

There are many interpretations, yes, in our modern time from modern theologians, but also many found in the Catena Aurea which tells how some of the early Church Fathers also viewed the parable and shared their own insights on it.

The Parable:

Luke 18:10-14
King James Version

"10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

WADE, I think that the parable may speak directly to each one who reads it, in the context of his/her own life, and in some way 'connect' directly with the individual in the ways that the Holy Spirit intends. For me, the simplicity of the parable cuts through much of the 'theological wording' of commentators. I think that the reading of the Holy Gospels often affects people directly in this way.


FYI: to see my reference to the Cartena Aurea, there is a discussion listing and in comparing Sproul's insight into the parable to the insights of some of the early Church Fathers:
https://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/05/imputation-and-infusion-a-reply-to-r-c-sproul-jr/



Rex Ray said...

Scott,

You’re so right about Christians dying tonight. (I’ll add because of the stupidity of our President.)

But understand that Wade sometimes writes his Post many days; even months on different subjects before he publishes them.

I learned tonight that my sister, Ann Rinker, is suffering from a bad case of dementia. Her husband, Rollie Rinker, said he hasn’t told us before because of my ankle problem. She’s in a hospital. Prayers are appreciated.

My wife, Belle had dementia. A month before she met Jesus, I heard her crying and screaming. When she saw me, she was puzzled. We’d been going down the slide on a small mattress. She was holding the mattress in her arms thinking it was my dead body.

Christiane said...

I will pray for your sister Ann tonight, REX RAY. I'm sorry to hear this news about her. I guess the family wanted to spare you because of your pain. I can understand that, yes. People suffer with dementia in ways those who don't have it cannot understand. May God have mercy.

RB Kuter said...

Wade, do you think your gambling addict friend had been born again prior to this incident of getting caught?

I may have given this link before but don't know if you have watched it. I love it and believe it portrays exactly what you are saying in this post.

Please watch it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrLzYw6ULYw

Scott Shaver said...

I am not in the least bothered by Wade's choice of subject matter. It's a great article.

Rex Ray said...

RB,

GOOD ONE!

Those words reminded me of a story:

My two sisters and another girl, Clarisse, went to Bob Jones University. (The school that kicked Billy Graham out for breaking ‘their rules’.)

Clarisse had been questioned why she broke the rules by sitting with a boy on a bus to town. She told Ann she had told them, she was telling him about Jesus. “GOOD ONE, huh?”

(They were permitted to finish the semester, but not to come back.)

Ruth said...

“What is my goal spiritually? What is my purpose in terms of my relationship with God?”

I want to become more like Jesus every day.

"How is one pleasing to God?”

By trusting Him completely as Jesus showed us.


I did enjoy your well reasoned post, but I honestly think there are times that we try to make things a lot more difficult than they really need to be. Jesus said “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I have always tried to look at this with the viewpoint of a child. Any child of loving parents tries to be like them, and trusts them implicitly. As our heavenly Father, God is the ideal parent. He loves us and came to us physically in the body of Jesus to give us the way to salvation. God said “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” How could I do anything better than try to be like Jesus?

God is my heavenly Father. I am His child. I love Him and trust Him implicitly and want to be more like Jesus every day. I know I often fail at this, but like all loving parents He forgives me when I admit my failure and ask for help.

Rex Ray said...

Rollie called today, and said Ann is doing better in the hospital.

Thanks for the prayers.

Christiane said...

The Holy Spirit intercedes for people with dementia in ways too deep for words.



"AT THE END OF THE DAYS, I _____
LIFTED MY EYES TO HEAVEN, AND MY REASON RETURNED TO ME,
AND I BLESSED THE MOST HIGH ...."

(Daniel 4:34)

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Well old friend, I believe when you take Scripture out of context, you do a good job of it.

Neither my wife or sister built a gold statue for people to worship or throw people into fire etc. The Lord punished Nebuchadnezzar to the point he ate grass like a cow before the Lord returned his sanity.

I talked with Ann today, and her memory was 100%. We laughed a lot about old stories.

Christiane said...

LOL,
yes, I loved the phrase
'and my reason returned to me' in the context of 'teshuva' (re-turning towards the Lord'

so you are partially correct, but as in so many aspects of the sacred Scriptures, what is said extends beyond the moment into the past and to the future in 'the Story' of how God relates to His creatures.

If you take the Bible completely literally, as many Christians do, the impact of much of what is revealed may not be fully realized;
that is why it is said that the Holy Spirit, Who has providence over how we are impacted by the Word, ONLY points us to Christ. That by keeping the focus on Christ, we may read the Word by the Light of Christ, and not 'unto our own understanding',
which offers us a chance to row out into the deeper waters where the Word itself offers to us a greater yielding of understanding through the lens of Christ Himself.

Plus, I'm a 'trinitarian' in the sense of ancient Church. So I see the 'Bible' in that light also, that Christ IS God in the second Person of the Holy Trinity; and that the Holy Spirit IS God in the third Person of the Holy Trinity.
From what I have seen, many who take the Bible totally literally in the fundamentalist tradition, refer to 'the Father' only when they speak of 'God'.
The difference? Immense.
Why?
Because IF you undersand the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in the old way,
THEN, you will begin to better comprehend the mystery of Christ as 'the Revealer of God'.

Out of context? Literally, yes.
Seen in an expanded light? Only if it has meaning for a person, yes.

We see what we choose to see sometimes in sacred Scripture. But we may limit ourselves if we overlook reading 'the Word' in the context of Christ Who IS 'the Word' (the Logos). In any case, the reading of the sacred Scriptures is an activity that touches on 'the holy' and 'deep calls unto deep' in the infinite ways of God to touch His Creatures in ways we cannot fully know, in order to fulfill His purposes.

But I run on.
You have a good Lord's Day, REX RAY. Tell 'Aunt Bell' I think she is a saint for trying to keep you out of trouble. God Bless Judy!
You take care, old friend. Prayers will continue for your sister's well-being. No need to thank me personally as I have help with it. :)



Christiane said...

REX RAY,
did you hear the sermon over on Wartburg Watch? Did you understand it?
If so, can you 'interpret' what it means to me? I wonder what denomination the speaker was, but I couldn't make sense of what he was saying. (?)

Rex Ray said...

CHTISTIANE,

I didn’t hear the sermon on Wartburg Watch.

Many years ago, there was wrong information that it was dangerous to eat salt. My aunt ended up in the hospital being crazy. Blood test showed the amount of salt in her blood was zero. She was back to normal after including salt in her food.

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth…” If salt was bad, He wouldn’t have said being a Christian was like salt.

Test of my sister Ann’s blood showed she was lacking a main ingredient. Adding that snapped her out of her confusion.

Glory to God!

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Have you seen the comment made by “GOD” on next to the last comment on Post 8-8-21?

Scott Shaver said...

I don't understand half the messages coming out of TWW.😎

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

I’ve added some to “Dad’s World War II Stories:

My twin brother, Hez, and I were 16 when our parents went to Germany to teach Army kids. We met Monika and wondered why they were so glad to see Dad. We didn’t know the story until 20 years later.
Hez, was Athletic Director of Fairbanks, Alaska. He organized moving an abandoned World War II airplane hangar 150 miles to Fairbanks for kids to play in. During the winter, many overdosed on drugs from boredom.
Indians had used it many years and were resentful for it being taken, and began stealing. Hez got Dad to be a nigh watchman. On the last day, they rushed to extinguish worker’s bedrolls that were on fire that Indians had poured gasoline on. When they got there, bullets started exploding which Indians had put on the bedrolls. They dove behind a low wall where Dad started laughing. “Why are you laughing?”
“This is just like World War II.”
There, Dad told Hez the story of Monica.

Will America wake up to what’s going on in Afghanistan? I believe Biden is like a policeman telling my brother that he was in charge.

“You don’t have enough brains to run a chicken coop!”

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Your Post in a way makes me think of a policeman in Mexico gone bad. George was on the top of the list by the U.S. for smuggling drugs.

His ruthless behavior caused his wife to become afraid of him. She took their small boy and fled. He heard she’d gone to New York. He loved his son so much; he went in search of them. He started thinking his life was so bad his son would be ashamed of him.

The Holy Spirit convinced him of his sin, and he asked Jesus to save him. To the surprise of a New York police station, he walked in and told them who he was because Jesus wanted him to.

He was sent to prison in Mcalester, Oklahoma for 50 years. At the time the prison had many fights and killings between different races of inmates.

George started preaching Jesus and many were saved. The killings stopped. After 3 years, the chaplain told him, “I’ve got bad news, they’re kicking you out.” George replied, “They can’t do that; I’ve got a ministry here.”

He is now a pastor of a church in Mexico. Our church helps to support them. I saw on his desk a plaque from the prison: “Thanks for making our job a lot easier.”
He has remarried since his son and wife were never found.

Christiane said...

Two great stories, REX RAY. Thanks for sharing them.
How is it going with your leg and 'Aunt Bee' and the doctors?
Hope things are better soon.

Am down-sizing here. I gave the house to my son in a trust (tax savings) and will live in an apartment. Am up to my ears in contractors and not very happy these days but I've been through contractors before and I know how it goes . . . slowly. :)
Soon I'll live in one of those nice 55 plus apartments near my son's home and I won't have to worry about the upkeep of a larger property so all will be more manageable.
When I look at my 'problems', I realize how very small they are compared to what is going on in the world, which breaks my heart. I did hear that in Texas, many civilian families have offered to help Afghan refugees who had helped our soldiers in Afghanistan. That is wonderful to know. In spite of all the 'divisions' and culture war garbage, American people are still supporting their soldiers and those who helped them 100%. That says much good about our nation, that what brings us together is positive and constructive and oriented towards what helps those in need.

Enough already. Time to start the day. Prayed for your sister in hospital. You take care and give thanks to God for your dear 'Aunt Bee' who is your strength and stay these days. :)

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...

REX RAY,

I wrote something for another blog which explains why I don't trust FOX NEWS these days, this:


"The 'virus' is invisible to the naked eye, but is known to be deadly for many. But imagine if we could 'see' the virus and it looked like a 'snake' so that those who 'trusted in God' might encounter the virus without 'mitigation' (protection) and be able to claim they had 'no fear' because of 'their faith in God' by taking up the snake in some kind of fundamentalist ritual to show how they were 'real' Christians. . . . . A thought comes to me about a warning in sacred Scripture, this:

" 7Jesus replied, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (from the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 4)



Is 'I'm a Christian who is not afraid of the virus' another form of the sickening and sometimes deadly ritual of handling snakes among the people who attempt this kind of 'test' ? I think it is in some way, yes. But this time, the danger is shared with all around in the community, some of whom will pass it to those who cannot survive 'the test'. (And IF people KNOWINGLY pass what kills to the innocent around them, that is the very opposite of faith, yes.)

If Christ the Lord says 'Thou shalt NOT',
then, openly engaging with a deadly virus seems to be a way of 'testing God' and therefore is 'forbidden' by Our Lord.

Sounds more like those who want to 'test God' are responding to satan without realizing what they are doing in most cases. Fundamentalists have a lot to answer for when they ignore the lessons found in the Holy Gospels in favor of promoting dangerous practices while some among them may have secretly been vaccinated against harm.
Politics?
Or something worse: something satanic?
I no longer know."


Is "We are 'free' to do as we please even IF we know it brings harm on innocent people."
I say 'no' to this whole-heartedly.
That is NOT a part of the Christian faith, no.
It never was.

Rodney Sprayberry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rodney Sprayberry said...

Good thoughts Wade!

As a person who has struggled with "an addictive people pleasing personality" I get it. I really do...even when I forget! (smile). I stumbled across an interview with Dr. Larry Crabb a year or so before he died. He said some things that are, from my perspective, so profound they need to be chewed on again and again. You referenced Deuteronomy 28 in your post. It strikes me that many of us miss the clear meaning of the text. He (Dr. Crabb) pointed something out in the text:

"However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees, I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you"

When you read God's commands to Israel through Moses, He tells them "If you do everything I command you-you will be blessed and have life" If you don't do everything I command "you will be cursed and experience death". Yet, we have bought the lie that God said something different. Instead of "be careful to do everything" We have changed His words to "Be careful to try hard to do everything" We assume "a good faith effort" is "good enough" to receive the old covenant blessings. If I am reading Deuteronomy right all means all, so even 99% is not a passing grade! It was not then, and it is not now. The terms are clear. We deserve to be cursed and to die, because no one has ever been careful enough to follow all of HIS commands. Some might question, "then why did God give Israel the Law?"

Seth Postell in his book Reading Moses, Seeing Jesus says this:

“Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world. Their continued presence in the Garden was contingent on the keeping of only a few commandments, not 613 commandments. Under the best conditions this world has ever seen, Adam and Eve break one of the three laws and die in exile. It is not at all clear how the telling of the story of Adam and Eve’s failure to keep only a few commandments in a perfect world is supposed to encourage Israel to keep 613 commandments in a fallen world. Actually, it offers no encouragement, at all. And if we take the principle of “The deeds of the father are a sign to the son” seriously, Adam’s story never was intended to warn Israel from following in Adam’s footsteps (i.e., a warning to keep the Law). Rather, Adam’s story was intended to be a prophecy that Israel would follow in Adam’s footsteps. “Israel, you will be just like Adam.”

However (Crabb again) “thinking and believing that I can be sufficient in my own power and please God in my own strength feels like Life to me...but it is really death." So, I try harder and harder to reach the impossible goal as it slowly kills me emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.

On the flip side, "dying to self and trusting in the work of Christ feels like death to me, but it is really life.” His perfect and sufficient obedience did please God. So, when my life is hidden in Him, I can also experience God’s pleasure. I am given grace gifts in the ability to rest in Him, the ability to relate to God and others, the ability to repent when I fall short, and the ability to respond to the Spirit’s voice in obedience.
It all sounds too good to be true! But I am deeply grateful that it is.

Wade, would you send me your contact information please. You can email it to nzbcbonham@gmail.com. Tell you dad hello for me!

Rodney Sprayberry

Scott Shaver said...

That's a stretch Christianne. A real tortured stretch. Surely you are capable of better logic than trying to associate a decision to take a vaccine with rejecting a command from God.

On second thought, maybe this IS the best you can come up with.

Either way I totally reject the concept and the exegesis (or lack thereof) behind your conclusion.

Rex Ray said...

Has anyone heard Fox News this morning?

The Taliban is telling our weak President what to do; like giving him 7 more days to rescue our citizens from their country.

Rex Ray said...

How cruel is the Taliban? This is how they treated a prisoner of war:

Before they cut his head off, they made him watch all his relatives get their heads cut off.

Christiane said...

(?)
I thought the original goal was that American troops would be out of Afghanistan BEFORE the Nov. 20 Presidential election, according to this:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51689443

Scott Shaver said...

The withdrawl plan was working beautifully under Trump. Biden botched the staged withdrawal in the most stupid blunder in American military history.

On another note, I wonder how the "Never Trump" and "Evangelicals for Biden" sloganeering is working for the SBC ERLC these past 4 days?

Scott Shaver said...
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