January 25, 2013

“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.  By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…” 1 Timothy 1:18-19

Icy Roads, Take Me HomeWe have experienced a prolonged inversion that has kept the temperature from surpassing 10 degrees F.  Then a storm blew through our area.  I had hoped that the storm-front would provide a little relief from cold temperatures by acting as an atmospheric blender. Unfortunately, the storm was like a fondant that encrusted our world in ice.

That made my commute into work an adventure.

I realized that the roads were bad when my greeting to the county highway was a car trunk awkwardly peeking out from the opposite shoulder of the road.  I am still questioning the wisdom of my decision not to turn around at that moment and head back to the safety of my home.  However, I did not turn around.  Rather, I put my pickup in four-wheel drive and cautiously pressed forward into a white landscape of questionable decision-making.

The road had my full attention on this morning; very excessive depression of the accelerator told me that I was traveling on ice.  There was no day-dreaming, working on memory verses, changing radio stations, or checking texts (which I would never do anyway). The road would periodically check if I was paying attention by giving my nerves a little jolt.  The road would give a slight tug on the steering wheel, followed by a strange floating sensation, followed by another slight jerk as the tires grab what little traction was available.

I don’t like that feeling.  I don’t like what that immediate shot of adrenaline does to me.  It is an electric pulse down the spine as your muscles all try to contract in an instant. It makes you momentarily wonder whether your flight response may have gone too far.

It was amazing how quickly my foot would unconsciously lift off of the accelerator.  I didn’t even have to think about it.  I was equally amazed at the unconscious resistance to placing my foot on the brake or jerking my arms to compensate for a slight misdirection.  I have learned from experience that either of those actions will immediately put me in a place I don’t want to be – the ditch.  It took all my experience of driving on icy roads to make it into work yesterday.  I made it but I don’t think it was the smartest decision that I could have made.   When you think about the consequences, it just wasn’t worth it.

This experience of creeping along dangerously slick roadways made me contemplate the equally dangerous and slick paths of our spiritual lives.  Most of the time, there is a decision before venturing down a particular path.  We will stand at a cross-roads and make a conscious decision to proceed with an activity or a relationship that has inherent dangers to our souls.

dentro al fosso - into the ditch

dentro al fosso – into the ditch (Photo credit: Uberto)

Is it wise to proceed down those roads?

Do you have the experience to navigate those slick pathways without putting your faith in the ditch?

Those are good questions to ask before you proceed.  I remember my first couple of years out of high school.  I was working full-time in a cabinet shop and going to a community college in the evenings.  It was my intention to take all my under division classes at the community college before transferring to the university so I needed to take some humanities classes.  At the time, my cousin was taking a philosophy class.  I could see that those classes represented a slippery road for me.  I decided that I was not ready for that experience and took some humanities classes where I felt I had better footing.

Subsequently, I did take several philosophy classes as part of my education and I am glad that I waited.  From my experience, the philosophy departments of the universities that I attended were dominated by professors who were more evangelists for their secular humanist beliefs than professors, but that is not limited to philosophy departments.  I have sat through classes in philosophy, biology, geology, and even economics where the professors were proselytizing their beliefs in a direct assault on my faith with a blatantly one-sided presentation – people of faith are ignorant.

Those were some slippery roads for me.  However, it was an experience that made my faith stronger.  I am very glad I took those classes but the timing needed to be right.  I needed my faith to be sufficiently mature so that my faith grew on those slick roads rather than put me in the ditch.  I did not have that maturity when I first got out of high school.  I praise God that He showed that to me at the time.

Car Crash - 1I have watched many a person put their faith in the ditch on similar slippery roads.  I have had theological discussions with folks who are tied into intellectual knots.  I wonder what slippery road caused their faith to land in a ditch without them even knowing it.  I have known brothers and sisters in Christ who have had a slippery road result in great detours in their sanctification.

I think that it happens more than we realize but it is not inevitable.

My experience is that pride and foolishness are the main reasons for the times that I have found my vehicle and my faith in a ditch.  Timothy was told to hold onto his faith.  There are many folks who are not holding onto their faith and I have been one of them.  I have over-estimated my maturity and I have under-valued my faith.  For too many, the implications to their faith is not even a consideration in their decision-making:

What is taking this job going to do for my faith?

What is going to this school going to do for my faith?

What is this relationship going to do for my faith?

What is this hobby going to do for my faith?

When we send our kids off, what are we allowing their young faith to be subjected to? 

The reality is that many don’t want their decisions to weigh the implications on their faith or their kids’  faith because their “good conscience” is already pushing them against it.  How many times have you pushed forward with something that you knew wasn’t good for you or your kids?  I have made decisions against my own “good conscience” where I was not valuing my faith, and it resulted in having to be dug out of a ditch.  It never works out well.

A part of navigating the treacherous roads of this life is assessing the ones you even need to be on.  All of the roads don’t have to be traveled.  Like a good general who picks his battles, the wise followers of Christ will carefully pick the roads they choose to travel.  There will be some roads we travel where we don’t have a choice but even then there are decisions we can make that will make those roads safer to our souls.  We need to humbly evaluate the conditions when we come to those forks in our spiritual paths.  We need to accurately assess our own experience and maturity before we blindly push forward onto roads that we are likely to lose hold of our most valuable treasure – the sanctification of our faith.  It is OK to say, “I am not ready for that.” It is wise to build a support team around yourself to keep you on the narrow road or to pull you back if you start sliding away.

Those decisions require you to acknowledge that you have not arrived, which is humility.  We all could use more humility.  Humility would have kept me from unnecessarily traveling dangerous roads to make it into work.  Humility would have kept me from taking paths that have rocked my faith.  Humility acknowledges who we are and the importance of our faith.  We must maintain the mindset of holding onto our faith, which makes our faith a player in all of our decision-making.

There is nothing in this world that we need to fear but that doesn’t mean we should act foolishly.  Safe travels my friends.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for protecting me from my own bad decision.  Thank you for placing my feet back on a sure foundation after I have so casually treated my faith.   Father, you are my all in all.  Give me wisdom and discernment to assess the roads ahead.  May the holding onto my faith be always at the forefront of my mind.  Father, keep me from making a shipwreck of my faith; keep me from putting my faith in the ditch.  Amen


  1. […] SURVIVING SLIPPERY ROADS – Jan. 25 (boyslumber.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Thank you for liking my blog.. and thank you for yours.. it was a very interesting read. Humility is such a big lesson.. I feel one that takes us all a long time to learn and even when we think we are fully humble god shows us we are not quiet there… im thinking the choices we make so often are made in our own strength and not asking God what does he want for us .. when we can ask him continuously each day, each moment, to guide us and what decision he wants us to make in that situation that is a act of humility … but is there anyone out there that does not make one move in their life when they wake of a morning to ask his help… im thinking its a big thing to achieve..none of us are perfect . humilty comes in so many forms even of saying im sorry.. recognising that we need to be stripped clean daily. hmmm thoughts now u have me really thinkin i could blog on this one LOL bless you 🙂 M

  3. This post was so uplifting to me and came at a perfect time in my life. After 30+ years out of school, I’ve recently begun the pursuit of a degree, and am currently in a Psychology class in which I appear to be the only Christian in attendance. I’ve sat through discussions led by the professor and supported by the rest of the class on issues that go directly against God’s Word. Not only will I be learning about psychology in this class, but I believe the Lord is going to bless me with increased faith and strength to stand firm on my beliefs in Him. Your words spoke directly to my heart when you said “I have sat through classes in philosophy, biology, geology, and even economics where the professors were proselytizing their beliefs in a direct assault on my faith with a blatantly one-sided presentation – people of faith are ignorant.” I am on that slippery road right now, brother! And for the first time, I am thankful that I waited until now to begin this academic journey. Thanks for your perfectly-timed words.

    • Thank you so much for commenting. I am delighted that this post was encouraging to you. I prayed for you that God will strongly support you as your going through those classes.
      God Bless!

      • Thank you, JD. I covet your prayers!

  4. Good advice for me! I slipped a lot in the past.. 🙂

    • Me too and I will slip in the future. Isn’t it great that we have such a great God who picks us up.
      God Bless!

  5. I appreciate a sense of caution, but there is a line somewhere between good discernment and fear. Heidegger, Nazi affiliations aside, talks about faith in an insightful criticism of the modern evangelical condition. Now of course, he had tried, unsuccessfully, to be a priest of the Catholic church, but his comments apply to us just as well. Faith which cannot question itself is not faith but mere convenience and tradition.

    As the saying goes, a realist does not fear the results of his experiments. I believe all Christians should be realists, ready to stick by the truth rather than an inherited set of beliefs. This is as true now as ever, with an incredible pile of evidence not just supporting evolution but also a variety of ideas which do not align with conservative Christian ideals.

    If we teach these things, I’ll be frank: it’s going to change our faith and our lives. But we should not fear that, and good discernment won’t turn us away from examining the truth.

    • There is always a balance between wisdom and fear. My goal in written that post was to encourage believers to consider their faith in their decision making. Many people often will not even consider what their actions or inactions have on their relationship with God. I actually encourage believers to press past apparent practical consequences (fear) in the post that I made today. https://boyslumber.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/wearing-the-sandals-of-the-sanhedrin-jan-26/
      I believe that we should be walking our lives in faith, which means we are using the wisdom that God has given us and walking in the Spirit (fearing nothing).

      What often passes for truths in this world can be deceiving when you don’t consider God. Truths of this world (I am referring to science and the scientific method) do not allow for miracles but I believe what the scriptures tell me about miracle and when it says that nothing is impossible for God.

      Please allow me to write a word of caution in trusting too much on the results of your experiments. Your experiments are inherently limited. These experiments that you refer to are ultimately judged by you. You and I have a limited perspective and understanding.

      That is why I adhere to sola scriptura – the scriptures alone is the authority for my faith and the practice of my faith. The Bible does not contain all knowledge but I believe that it contains all that is necessary for salvation. I am willing to be considered ignorant in rejecting the supposed evidences of realists because I believe there is a reality is beyond any experimentation.

      Time will tell us what will stand the test of the ultimate revelation.
      God Bless!

      • Sola scriptura is a nice thought, but it unfortunately finds itself as an overly simplistic approach to interpreting the Bible. Without external knowledge, we are unable to interpret what the Bible says, just as without knowledge of language and writing, one’s cat cannot read anything.

        Most people don’t realize the extent of the background which they bring to scripture. No one is ever living by “sola scriptura.” Your preconceptions about what type of thing the Bible is will influence your interpretation of it very heavily.

        Luther’s “solas” serve best not as unshakable principles but as protests against his culture. He had some *really* bad theology, but he was doing something necessary in opposing the Catholic church.

        Solas aside, I would mostly caution you not to turn assent to propositions (i.e. specific beliefs about scripture) into moral issues, and you may be on the verge of doing so. This is the point at which I believe “faith” turns to “abuse.”

      • I appreciate the caution that you are providing.

        I am in favor of a having a wide variation of external knowledge. I am not making that point at all. I have bachelor and Masters degrees in subjects that are not theology so I think that is a reasonably demonstration of my by belief in the value of external knowledge.

        You may have read over my statement that I believe that the Bible is sufficient for answering questions of faith. As you are probably aware, the Catholic Church placed Church doctrine (external knowledge) at the same level as the Bible. I believe that the Bible is the highest authority on matters of my faith. I am not going to place any Churches doctrinal statement, policy statements, prophecy, proclamations, etc. at the same level of authority as scripture.

        Everyone has specific beliefs about scripture. I have taken the position that scripture is the highest authority for my faith. It appears from your statements that you do not believe that scripture is the highest authority but just one of potentially many authorities (please clarify if I am wrong). That there are can be external knowledge that might come along and supersede the Bible. I have a few questions to help me understand your position:
        Doesn’t that make the basis of your faith subjective?

        How much of the basis of your salvation are you willing to be flexible on?

        If someone comes to the scripture with a background that allows them to interpret the Bible to say that Jesus was not the Son of God but just a prophet, do you believe that can be a valid interpretation for them?

      • I don’t really think “external knowledge” (it was all external at one point wasn’t it?) such as that gained through scientific studies can or should supersede your faith, but it can’t be ignored either. It just goes in your brain alongside all the other stuff. How you order it and value one thing over the other is up to you (and is very likely heavily influenced by how you were raised). I’ve never been one to let my faith get in the way of learning new things. I know God would have never given me my senses, nor this fantastic mind with its curiosity and wonder, if He didn’t want me to use it, and enjoy doing so.

        For example when I find a fossil in ancient rocks my mind is taken back to the time that creature lived, trying to imagine what it must have been like to stand in that same place but millions of years ago. I don’t consciously place that experience below my faith, in some sort of rigid hierarchy. That’s just way too structured for me. I love being free of thought because I believe that’s the way God intended us to be. Call my faith weak if you will, but nothing ever remains strong that goes unchallenged. Nothing brittle survives a freezing winter; it cracks and crumbles if it cannot flex.

      • I certainly am not saying in any way or degree that learning is not a good thing. I absolutely love to learn new things. I think that God has called us to use our minds in our faith and throughout our lives. The larger question is regarding the source of knowledge about God and can we find God on our own. I believe that the Bible is clear that man in our sinful condition is blinded to the divine. That is why Jesus came as the light to lead us out of the darkness. If man is not in the darkness then did Jesus not need to come to this world?

      • I am saying that you have to approach the Bible with a hermeneutic that will come not from within the Bible itself. Things cannot interpret themselves, a philosophical point I can explain if you like. Only from a knowledge of the cultures in which the Biblical authors wrote can we know what the authors intended to say.

        Not only that, but only from further knowledge about the world and about history can we distinguish what we should actually take from the Bible. Dr. Peter Enns semi-famously argues that Paul believed in a historical Adam, but we should not; however, it does not negate the theological points Paul made.

        I am not saying that all opinions are as valid as the next; rather, I do believe there is a primary way of interpreting the Bible, and it requires a lot of outside help to do so — things on which the Bible is not the final authority.

      • I understand the philosophical point that you are espousing. This is a discussion that I have had on a couple of occasions with slight variations. You can explain it if you would like for clarity.

        I am more interested in seeing how you practically apply it. That is why I asked the questions. I find that there is very much clarity in the actual application of philosophical principles. So, please allow me to ask those questions again with the addition of one:

        Doesn’t the learning of additional external information make the basis of your faith subjective?

        How much of the basis of your salvation are you willing to be flexible on?

        If someone comes to the scripture with a background that allows them to interpret the Bible to say that Jesus was not the Son of God but just a prophet, do you believe that can be a valid interpretation for them?

        Do you believe that the Bible is inspired by God?

      • The better question than whether this viewpoint makes interpretation subjective is whether anything can be objective. Objectivity is not something we can grasp at all. Good Biblical interpretation will not be “subjective” in the sense that any viewpoint is as valid as the next; rather, there will be experts who must all seek to criticize one another’s interpretations until we find ourselves at some sort of consensus. A diversity of experts will also help ensure that wrong presuppositions do not creep into interpretation. I am not particularly impressed if someone comes to me with their own personal interpretation of a passage unless it is well-supported.

        Now as for salvation, it is difficult to say. That Christ died as our atonement is clear. That salvation is through faith in Christ is clear. What is not clear is what faith in Christ really is. I do not believe it is assent to the fact that Christ died on the cross — even the demons believe. Faith in Christ will be something more, and it may not even require specific historical knowledge about Christ. Before you call me a heretic, though, this is the position put forward by CS Lewis and a great many other scholars. Salvation is only through Christ, but Christ-followers are more than those who can say his name.

        Inspiration is another can of worms. Zero Dark Thirty was inspired by true events. Clearly the men writing the books of the Bible were divinely-inspired, but what that means isn’t clear. Do you mean that in the Platonic sense of the word, where the writers have their minds overtaken by God and write in a frenzy of direct revelation? Or do you mean that the Bible was written by a people struggling to understand God and the ways in which He interacted with them? I understand inspiration as the latter and find the former to be unsupportable beyond an appeal to faith.

      • As you stated before, “Without external knowledge, we are unable to interpret what the Bible says, just as without knowledge of language and writing, one’s cat cannot read anything.” How can you know that Christ died as our atonement? What external evidence are you using to support that definitive of a conclusion?
        How do you know that salvation is through faith in Christ? What external evidence are you using to support that definitive of a conclusion?
        How can you accept that salvation is only through Christ and that Christ-followers are more than those who can say his name? The consensus of Christian theologians throughout Church history has not held that belief. It appears that you have violated your own principle of seeking “a diversity of experts will also help ensure that wrong presuppositions do not creep into interpretation.” Your position is in the minority so shouldn’t your position be rejected as an incorrect interpretation?

        Where have you formulated your position on the inspiration of the Bible because it is contrary to 2 Peter 1:19-21?
        “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture come from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

        How can you reject 2 Peter 1:19-21 but yet keep the belief that Christ died for our atonement?

        I apologize for peppering you with so many questions. I realize that it can come off as rude in this sort of format and that is not what I am trying to do. The reason I am asking these direct questions is because I want to get past all of the philosophical talk and get to how you are actually applying your belief system. It appears to me that you may not be consistent in the application of principles you have been advocating but I very well could be wrong about that. I am very interested to understand how you resolve these issues.

  6. Thank you for stopping by my blog, which led me here for powerful words that I so sorely need today:”I have over-estimated my maturity and have undervalued my faith” gives me much think and pray about…….And your litmus test for decisions: “What is this going to do for my faith?” is so good!

    • I am so glad that I found your blog. I really like your writing; keep up the good work. I am happy that you were encouraged by visiting my site.
      God Bless!

  7. Guess I disagree about pushing forward despite misgivings never ending well. For me it’s often ended well, and standing pat has often not ended well. A common underlying reason a person pushes forward despite the potential dangers of doing so is this: you know you need to be outside your comfort zone to grow as a person. I do agree you need to feel somewhat ready. But having faith in your own abilities is important too.

    • I don’t think that we are actually disagreeing. I think I touch on the point that you are making in the post that I made today. https://boyslumber.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/wearing-the-sandals-of-the-sanhedrin-jan-26/

      I believe that we are to walk by the Spirit. That means that we are relying upon the Spirit in all things. I believe that involves both the wisdom that God has given us and stepping out in the faith that He has given us.

      My main purpose in this post was to encourage believers to be setting their minds on the things of the Spirit. I have seen so many people make decisions about their lives without a consideration of the things of the Spirit. The misgivings that I was referring to is when the Spirit is telling you not to do something but you go ahead and do it anyways; when you go against your own “good conscience” that Paul was warning Timothy about. I have never seen that work out well. I have personally experienced the opposite. When the Spirit is pushing me to walk past my own fear in obedience, that always works out well.
      hope that clarifies what I was trying to communicate.
      God Bless!

  8. Reblogged this on quotes and notes and opinions and commented:
    I, too, have landed in a few ditches by pressing forward on a decision without consideration to the impact on my faith in God…But even if we make a decision and it leads to travelling a slippery road we can know a safe, albeit nerve-wracking, journey if we do what faith’s practice in previous life’s lessons has taught us. Still, knowing to do what is right and doing it is the best road to take.

  9. Thank you, JD, for your thoughts on our daily choices. Free will, the gift of God, leads to some tricky changes in life. I thought of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”, where he says, “I Chose the road less travelled by…and that has made all the difference.”
    I appreciated your mention of sanctification, the forgotton doctrine. This, to me means the use of free will to say, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” Oh, I know that I can only do it through the power of The Holy Spirit, but the decision to live a sanctified life is akin to deciding to be, not just a believer in Christ, but also a disciple of Christ. That first step is beginning to pay the cost of discipleship. And there will be cost, unlike free grace. I am rambling on too long. Bless you for a terrific read.

    • Amen! Thanks for commenting.
      God Bless!

  10. I thank God for the wisdom He has given you and thank you so much for sharing it with us! I love reading your posts! They are the ones that I really stop and read each word, which is unusual for me these days. Thanks!

    • Thank you for the encouragement. I really appreciate it. I am so glad that they are encouraging.
      God Bless!

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