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Choose Your Own Adventure

By Melinda Bell

When I was about 11 years old, I was given a book for my birthday. When compared to the Barbie Ferrari or the hot pink windbreaker suit I asked for, I thought a book was a pretty lame present. But this book was special. It was a Choose Your Own Adventure book. At various points in the story it would give the reader different choices to make. For example, the main character might be stranded on a desert island and the reader would have to choose to either build a fort and wait for help or build a raft and brave the ocean. With each choice, the plot unfolded as the reader controlled the story. Each book had numerous possible endings. Most of these potential endings resulted in starvation, disease, or death. However, in each book there was always one happy ending that might include being rescued or a large reward for your accomplishments. But since the ending depended on making all the right choices, it sometimes took a few fatal attempts before actually reaching the happy ending.
 
I had never read a book where I could control the story. In fact, I hated reading and everything else I was “supposed” to do. As a pre-teen, I wanted to be in control of something. I lived in a world of curfews, authority figures and regulations that demanded compliance. I found solace in this book that had to bend itself to my will. It was my own little way of proving that I could figure out life on my own. As my age increased, so did my rebellion. I lived my life the same way I read my Adventure books. I took one wrong turn after another, trying to find my happy ending. I had tried everything from drugs to witchcraft to fill the void in my life. But each of my choices led me further from the contentment I longed for. After years of doing things my way, I was still left with a nagging emptiness that I couldn’t escape.
 
I was completely hopeless and willing to try anything.  In a moment of complete desperation, I called out to the God I didn’t believe existed. “If you are real…I’ll do whatever you want me to… Just show me you’re there and I’ll live the rest of my life for you.” Immediately my heart began to soften and I saw how I was just playing a role in a book that was already written. In my adventure books I thought as the reader I had all the power when in fact the story’s author was really in control. The author created the character, set the environment, gave me the background information and even devised the choices I was allowed to choose from. The Kingdom of God is much like one of those adventure books I loved so dearly. God Almighty created the heavens and the earth for the perfect scenery. He intricately designed each character’s personality and the set of circumstances they were born into. But the Author and Finisher of our faith has a much greater reason in writing the story we live out each day. As much as some days might appear to be the horrible prank of a sovereign God, I promise our stories are not simply for His amusement. Rather, the stories of our lives are God’s way of delicately ushering us to Himself, while still allowing us to choose His Way rather than our own.
 
The more I read my Choose Your Own Adventure books, the more I began to pick up on subtle hints that would lead me to the best ending every time. Soon I realized that the author wanted me to reach the happy ending. The more I read his books, the better I became at picking up on his little clues until pretty soon I could pick up a brand-new book and reach the happy ending the first time through. I didn’t do it by making my own choices, but by figuring out the way the author would have me to go. In the same way, God sets before us choices of blessings and curses each day. He gives us the choice but the only way to experience authentic joy is to give up our way of doing things and choose His way. His way isn’t the easiest. Actually it is usually full of hardship because nothing breeds good character like tribulation. In Luke chapter 9, Jesus tells His disciples, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat – I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” (The Message)
 
Occasionally, when I first began reading my adventure books, instead of making the choices as it prompted me, I’d flip through the pages and find the happy ending and see if it was worth my time to try to figure out the author’s secret path. God promises us in His Word that we have a happy ending beyond anything we can think up or even imagine, but there is only one Way to receive His promise. And His Way is Jesus Christ. No one comes to the Father except through Him.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus is described as God’s Word that became flesh. Jesus is the only path that leads us from the beginning to the end. We are free to choose another way but its end will always lead to death. And God doesn’t wish that any man should perish. God wants us to have an eternally happy ending living with Him. So if we will submit ourselves to His Way and become familiar enough with His style (the Bible), we can pick up on the still, small voice of His Holy Spirit gently nudging us in the right direction. We won’t get it perfect every time; but if we earnestly seek His way and not our own, He promises that we will live Happily Ever After in “The End.”

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 2:39 pm.

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Christ returns to Weddington!

I’m sharing this email from my friends in Weddington about a very significant small victory. Merry Christmas to All . . .

All,

I wanted to share the news that Christ has returned to Weddington, NC.  Yes you heard it here first.  Let me explain…

The other day we received an invitation to the “Town of Weddington Second Annual Holiday Tree Lighting” event at the town hall (see below).  When I received the notice it seemed Christ(mas) was absent from the event.  I knew it was a job for Super Brenda.  So Brenda called the Town of Weddington and inquired about it.  The administrative person said that there had been “some discussion” by the town board about what to call the event (specific to whether Christmas should be used), but they decided not to refer to Christmas.  Brenda lovingly expressed her confusion and concern (Truth in Love, Eph 4:15) over how a Christmas tree had become a holiday tree.  She asked to have her concerns passed on to the board and began reaching out to them via email.

Later in the day she received a call from the Town of Weddington saying that they had reconsidered and would be sending out a notification of the “Christmas tree lighting” event.

I know it’s a small victory for showing our love and respect for Christ and what really matters is whether we carry out the gospel with our hands and feet.  But for a brief moment it was great to be reminded that one voice can actually make a difference in our politically correct culture.  Here is a link that explains the “12 rules of Christmas” that can help separate what is politically correct vs. what is legal in expressing Christmas. http://www.rutherford.org/resources/legal-12rules.asp

We should all humbly serve others as Christ’s hands and feet, but not in absence of speaking and celebrating the name of the one who sent us.

Peace,

PK

Posted 8 years ago at 1:39 pm.

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Book Review:

Christian Article Bank | Book Review: Jesus Christ: Self-Denial Or Self-Esteem By Dr. David Tyler

Book Review: Jesus Christ: Self-Denial Or Self-Esteem By Dr. David Tyler

By: Johnny Kicklighter

If one didn’t look at the title of Dr. Tyler’s book, “Jesus Christ: Self-Denial or Self-Esteem,” they might think they were reading a book about the life of Christ instead of a refutation of the self-esteem movement. Dr. Tyler takes a different approach that’s characteristic of some of the other books on critiquing self-esteem. He doesn’t exclusively argue that the self-esteem position is defective from a humanistic psychological approach as Paul Vitz does. Nor does he attempt to contrast each heretical thought and compare it to an exhaustive look at scripture references. Instead, he compares the notion of selfism to the life and practices of Jesus Christ. By so doing, he demonstrates that self-esteem flies directly in the face of what Christ was teaching others, especially His very own disciples.

In the introduction, Dr. Tyler makes the case that the new pop culture words, self-image, self-esteem and self-worth have one central focus: self. This being a recent phenomena (within the past 25 years), it has had a significant influence on the church and its teachings. He quotes Robert Schuller who says that a new reformation is needed and that being one centering on self-esteem. (It’s ironic that Schuller uses the word reformation. “The Reformation,” nearly 500 years ago, affirmed the utter ruin and insufficiency of man’s condition and reinforced the complete sufficiency of scripture, grace, faith and Christ—a complete and utter opposition of what Schuller wants.) Dr. Tyler seeks to declare that the Bible’s emphasis is on self-denial, a concept that is apparently anathema to modern day authors. And where are, Dr. Tyler asks, the words of Jesus when he supposedly tells his followers to “love themselves, esteem themselves, accept themselves, believe in themselves, develop a healthy self-image, or nurture feelings of significance and worth?” Dr. Tyler looks for them in the next three chapters of his book as he explores the words, works, and parables of Christ.

Dr. Tyler explores Christ’s encounter with various people. Jesus was always other-oriented in that He was continually about His father’s business. His baptism, the cleansing of the temple and the meeting with the Samaritan women are just a few examples that Dr. Tyler cites as proof. The most striking evidence appears in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells the crowd how to obtain blessedness (happiness). One would expect to find here Christ giving exhortation on seeking self-affirmation if the self-esteem zealots were true. However, Dr. Tyler cites five Beatitudes that Christ preached which further disappoints the selfism crowd. Christ proclaimed blessedness would occur to those who are poor in spirit, mourn, practice meekness, are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, and are merciful.

Leaving Christ’s words, Dr. Tyler explores the miracles of Jesus Christ. Jesus used miracles as proof of His divine authority, to give substance to His words, and also to demonstrate his other-oriented attitude by offering love and sympathy for mankind. Dr. Tyler gives several examples, healing of the leper and the Roman centurion’s servant, the calming for the Sea of Galilee, the demon-possessed man, to name a few. This shows Christ was focused on meeting the needs of others. Dr. Tyler also leaves the self-love advocates with a question as to where was the person who cried “I hate myself, I feel inferior and inadequate; heal me Son of David;” (not in Galilee apparently).

Dr. Tyler uses the parables to further prove that Christ was other-oriented. He gives a brief explanation on the purpose of parables. He explains the dilemma that many find as to why Christ spoke in parables, i.e., Christ intentionally hid from the disobedient and rebellious His mysteries. Dr. Tyler’s quotation from G. Campbell Morgan seems out of step however as Campbell’s quote muddies the water. It appears inconsistent with Matthew 13:15b. “lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Dr. Tyler closes his book by acknowledging that undeniably self-esteemism is found in the scriptures. It’s origin is in Genesis 3:6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” This was the beginning of mankind becoming self-oriented. It’s clear to the reader that support for current selfism philosophy cannot be gleaned from the teachings or the life of Christ. Christ was certainly focused on doing His Father’s business as well as relieving the suffering of others.

Author Resource:-> Johnny is an instructor and counselor at the Gateway Biblical Counseling and Training Center, located at Edgemont Bible Church, 5100 North Illinois, Fairview Heights, Illinois, 62208.

Article From Christian Article Bank

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 7:40 pm.

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Posted 9 years ago at 8:32 am.

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