Baptism and the principle of doubt

Years ago, I listened as Dick Sztanyo presented an excellent lesson on ethics. In it, he enumerated a number of principles for ethical decision-making. One he called the “principle of doubt.” Citing Romans 14:23, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (ESV), Sztanyo reasoned that if one doubted the rightness of an action, one should so act as to remove the doubt.

The context of Romans 14 discusses morally neutral actions that may prick the consciences of weak Christians, thus causing them to sin. The principle of doubt calls the weak to avoid those actions and thus clear their consciences. May the principle of doubt also be applied to another class of actions?

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Surpassing confidence. Possessing God’s approval.

How confident are we? Are we masters of the grill, gifted at our professions or perhaps certain of our flair for gab? Yet, who among us has not experienced an unexpected curve ball? The dinner turned out disappointing. A work project did not go well. We stood speechless.

What we expected slipped between our fingers. In such instances we discover our earlier confidence did not deliver. Just because we felt confident did not guarantee the results.

So what about really important things, like heaven? Can we surpass mere confidence to know for certain we are God’s forgiven people? Yes we can!

I imagine joyous exclamations: “by faith” and “by grace!” To be sure, these principles are intrinsically involved. Yet, throughout scripture a more fundamental principle exists.

Continue reading “Surpassing confidence. Possessing God’s approval.”

It will be alright

Have you ever known anyone who became so anxious with reading a story that he or she would skip to the last chapter to see how it ended? Years ago I remember someone telling me this was her strategy for reading books. For many of us this would ruin the story. However for her, knowing how the narrative tensions would be resolved enabled her to relax enough to read through the story.

I’m not convinced this is a great strategy for reading books. Nevertheless, it is a helpful way to live life. Continue reading “It will be alright”

Satan, self-esteem and self-talk

Satan appears to be our friend and supporter (John 8:44), but he will do anything to destroy us. We can resist him (1 Peter 5:8-9; 2 Peter 3:9), but it requires spiritual strength and maturity to do so.

One of Satan’s goals is to destroy our self-image. We either think too much of ourselves so we become our own god (Luke 16:18-31), or we consider ourselves worthless.

If we don’t love ourselves, we may be incapable of healthy relationships. What we think of ourselves permeates every aspect of our lives. It can feed on itself, growing in magnitude. Continue reading “Satan, self-esteem and self-talk”

Winning is everything

by Robert Goff, Jr.

In our efforts to teach our children how to prioritize their values, we often caution, “Winning isn’t everything.” Certainly, that is a true statement in most realms of our lives.

Winning a ball game is more fun than losing, but it isn’t everything. Winning a contest at school is important to young people (and their parents), but we all must understand that some of the most important lessons in life are learned when we don’t win. Continue reading “Winning is everything”