[forthright] Expectations/The Battle For the Heart

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2006 16:39:30 -0600
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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Expectations by Stan Mitchell
The Battle For the Heart by Barry Newton
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COLUMN: Reality Check

Expectations
by Stan Mitchell

Father: "Son, when Abraham Lincoln was your age,
he walked seven miles to school."

Son: "Dad, when Abraham Lincoln was <i>your</i>
age, he was president!"

We are usually pretty quick to see how others
should behave; we have high expectations ... for
them! We instinctively know what someone else
should do to handle their problems, and have a
blind spot for our own failures. We have cliches
for their solutions, but feel that our own
problems are "more complicated," and therefore
require our bending the rules a little.

"Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus
loved was following them ... When Peter saw him,
he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered,
'If I want him to remain alive until I return,
what is that to you? You must follow me'" (John
21:20-22).

Jesus' sharp reply to Peter's query about John is
almost shocking, until you think of his final
exhortation:

"You must follow me."

Following Jesus is a full-time job, engaging
enormous resources of will and concentration.
Those who are engulfed in this consuming task will
have little time for setting standards for others,
or trying to control their lives.

What was Jesus doing when he was your age?

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COLUMN: Hands-on Faith

The Battle For the Heart
by Barry Newton

His world consisted of plastered walls, glass
windows with security bars, broken asphalt, and
the continual buzz of a large metropolitan city.
He was unaware of the unseen forces around him.

As far as he knew, life as a kid consisted of
playing his video games, going to school, an
occasional sibling squabble and enjoying mom's
cooking. Sure, there were problems, like when his
dad would get drunk or his mother exploded all
over him like a land mine, but this was, well ...
just life. Sometimes his family would go to a park
or do something special. This usually made him
feel really good inside. He was unaware of the
unseen forces around him.

Although he was unaware of how thoroughly his
lifestyle, attitudes, and opinions were being
shaped, as a teenager, he knew well the unofficial
lessons from those around him. Watch your back and
be aware of your environment at all times. Life is
not fair. Work hard. The more you have, the more
fun is possible. He was unaware of the unseen
forces around him.

As he grew up and then got married, he figured his
life was rather typical. For the most part he was
trustworthy and a reliable worker. There had been
times when his marriage seemed like it would
explode apart and other periods of heaven on
earth. He was unaware of the unseen forces around
him.

For good reason, most people who knew him would
say he was a great guy. Of course, he knew he had
not been a saint all of his life. In several
situations he had acted maliciously, at other
times he had lied to protect himself or to get
something he wanted. He felt guilty about several
different forms of experimentation and fantasies
he had pursued for a short time. But, for the most
part he considered himself a regular good guy just
trying to make ends meet. He was no thug.

Although he was unaware of the unseen forces
around him, both God and the forces of evil knew
all about him. To him, Jesus was little more than
an occasional curse word. His heart relied upon
himself, his job, and the modest accommodations he
was purchasing. In the battle for his heart,
darkness was winning. Basically he was content
with his life, although he recognized some aspects
could be improved. As far as he was concerned,
there was no need to delve into thinking seriously
about Jesus. In the battle for his heart darkness
was winning.

Unbeknownst to him, his life was like a raft
caught in the powerful tug of a fast-flowing river
headed over a devastating waterfall. To those who
did not know God, Paul announced, "God has fixed a
day when he will judge the world with justice by
the man whom he has appointed."/1 Justice demands
anyone less than perfect would be charged with
guilt and condemned. The cross of Christ would be
of no benefit to him, since he had not received
Jesus.

Is evangelism and missions important? On the day
of judgment, ask those who benefited from a
missionary coming to their city. Ask someone who
has just heard, "Welcome to heaven" and obeyed the
gospel because a friend cared enough to tell the
story of Jesus.

"Do I take any pleasure in the death of the
wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I
not pleased when they turn from their ways and
live?"/2

1/ Acts 17:31
2/ Ezekiel 18:23

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