January 17, 2018

Meaningful Choices and Downstream Consequences

Romans 1:26–27

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26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

In Context:

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Meaningful Choices and Downstream Consequences

Bio | Ronnie Oldfield

Good morning, fellow Journeyers. I am/have been a son; newspaper boy; tobacco, hay, and tomato field hand; office clerk; convenience store manager; oil drilling rig floor hand; university accounting instructor; certified public accountant; political activist; financial administrator; business owner; elected official; husband; father; single parent; disciple of Christ; light shiner and meal provider to at-risk school students; and servant to adults seeking foundational assistance while pursuing a new way of living. These vocations are part of my preparation to write this entry. Please spot the other contributing "-ations" in the Devotional section.

Central Truth

We are all in this world together, and all fall short of God's standard (Romans 3:23). How do we lovingly speak truth, establish appropriate boundaries, and build relationships with people in sin struggles the world is glorifying? Hint: look inside. Watermark's The Prodigal ministry is a great place to learn.

Devotional | Romans 1:26–27

Paul conveys God's truth in these two verses about one of today's burning "lifestyle" issues. Looking at this truth together may allow acceptance of the role we play—taking comfort knowing...

Paul conveys God's truth in these two verses about one of today's burning "lifestyle" issues. Looking at this truth together may allow acceptance of the role we play—taking comfort knowing "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9b), comfort that God's game plan is written, and comfort that we have meaningful choices to live it out—or not.

My heart is convicted that my individual choice(s) impact the world. I believe Paul tells us this in today's passage. The role I played for 25 years was filled with agit(ation), intoxic(ation), fornic(ation), and idoliz(ation) rooted in false beliefs that God didn't love me, His written game plan shouldn't inform every life decision, and my personal choices didn't impact the whole world. Working to impact political systems in this n(ation) provided distractions necessary to keep me from seeking wisdom dispelling my false beliefs about God.

I see clearly what Paul tells us. I am part and parcel of this passage. I didn't live a Christ-centered life, lead my family biblically, or diligently share truth and wisdom with my worldly community. I am part of "For this reason" in Romans 1:26.

God loves us so much He chose to provide His reasons. He provided them directly twice, by Jesus 18 times, twice through Luke, 23 times through Paul, once through Peter, and three times through John. Generally, peoples' actions give rise to an outcome (cause and effect). He loves us enough to not interfere; He will give us over to our desires.

Should I begin to look down my nose at hurting people suffering through a same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion season, I pray I encounter the circle I have drawn around myself and immediately look inside to remind myself of the role I played in "For this reason God gave them up to . . . ."  "And He was saying, 'That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within . . . ." (Mark 7:20-21, NASB). Do my lips proclaim: God is good, He loves me, and He desires me to be reconciled to Him? 

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Discussion Questions

1. When we encounter individuals suffering through a season of same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion, is it important to examine our individual role in Psalm 81:11-12: "So I gave them over to . . . ."?

2. Looking inside, do you see an "-ation" you laid at the feet of Christ so that you might overcome it? Do you believe your story of grace might comfort and encourage someone who has been given over to the sin struggles highlighted today?

3. Inventory all the struggles God has helped you overcome. Even in your darkest times, do you see now that you were always crafted in God's image and He was always available to rescue you? (Colossians 1:15)

4. Finding your hope in Jesus during these dark times may have come about as you realized God is firm to judge us for our sins. Did you have someone lovingly walk with you during this time of realization? Have you thanked them lately?

5. Entering into God's grace by trusting in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus washes all our darkness away. Are you preparing yourself to share this truth with someone near to you? Are you building a relationship that might make this conversation possible? (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

37 Comments available

William Breazeale 10 months ago

I am part of “For this reason”…reminds me of a quote by Jonathan Edwards, that says “Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.”

Jason Smith 11 months ago

I love your entry Ronnie!! I love the idea of looking down my nose to see the circle around me with the laundry list of why I’m part of “For this reason…”. What a beautiful visual to keep me right-sized, humble, loving and dependent on Christ!

Jay Burns 11 months ago

ronnie, late on the journey. Miss seeing you and praying for your current journey. Thanks for the Prodigal shout out!! you are an inspiration in the way you serve the body. loved your entry

Andi Guevara 11 months ago

#3 I actually finished step 4 inventory in ReGen and makes my soul grateful and love God more than ever seeing that has has rescued me some of my past struggles. He loves so much that he still pursues me during my currrent struggles.

Michael Macomber 11 months ago

Thanks Ronnie for a great devo. I pretty much have lived out my life the same as you with all the -ations. I would add that when I got married, I became a Pharisee and very critical. Now that I have accepted Christ and God changes my heart and desires, I see how I am a part of the “for this reason”. Hard to say and admit but easier to say our scripture memory verse for this week.

Burlon Leffall III 11 months ago

@GregJones Man, what a broken world we live in. “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” Psa 90:8 God knows how we hurt and harm whether or not someone believes. I pulled the lucky # of SSA and brown skin (skin is not sin). Man, the list of resentments for either— "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28 So thankful that God is not overwhelmed by the hurts to me or even harms by me. “For my eyes have seen your salvation.” Luke 2:30 I pray God helps the hurting see past people and see Him.

greg jones 11 months ago

I don’t know what it is like to be same sex attracted. I have know what it was like to tell and laugh at certain jokes. I know what it is like to know someone like Hope before someone like Hope is someone you’re “suppose” to like. I found out I didn’t know what it is like to continually be the but of some people’s jokes. I know now that according to the CDC LGB youth are 383% more likely to attempt suicide than their hetero counterparts. I know the look the I sometimes get when I defend the person of someone like Hope before that person is in the condition Hope is in today. I unconditionally do not love that look.

Hope Harris 11 months ago

Thanks @RonnieOldfield, @AlmaBarber, @LisaOlsen, @GordanUp

renee austin 11 months ago

Wow Prodigal ! It’s like a Christ centered Al Anon. So cool!

Ronnie Oldfield 11 months ago

Thanks to my prodigal friends, community group brothers, Frontlines friends and so many others at Watermark who encourage me to struggle well each day. For I am unashamed if the gospel, and pray each day to be prepared to share with others the hope for struggling well which is in me.

Ronnie Oldfield 11 months ago

Thank you for sharing Hope. Yes these seasons can last so much longer than this cold snap. I appreciate Sue’s eternal perspective. How we struggle well while relying on the power of the Holy Spirit living through us will yield Our prayed for eternal perspective.

Ronnie Oldfield 11 months ago

Yes, these “seasons” certainly linger so much longer than our current run of cold weather. So many of us have sin struggles that rip and tear at us constantly. I love how Sue framed our mortal struggles which may never pass from our mortal lives. Our only hope is to spend our eternity with Jesus so that we may look back at our mortal lives and take joy in how well we struggled to overcome. Though I fail at times, I pray Jesus knows I seek to struggle well relying on the power of the Holy Spirit living through me. Thanks to my prodigal friends, community group brothers, and so many others at Watermark who are constant encouragers for me to struggle well. May God bless each of us as we struggle through this cold winter day.

Linda Aland 11 months ago

Reading the comments, I am reminded that each and every one of us has sinned in life. Whatever the sin, it is sin. But we serve an all forgiving God who wants us to acknowledge our sin, repent, and seek reconciliation to Him. I pray that we can all disappoint Him less each day. He is merciful and there is nothing that He does not know that each of us has done, is doing or will do.

Lisa Olsen 11 months ago

Thank you, Ronnie. And Hope, I loved your comment. As someone else who has struggled with same-sex attraction due to abuse as a child, I have experienced the hurt, guilt and shame from choices that dishonor God and leave me empty. But by God’s grace, He has revealed truth to me, and has rescued me from the bondage of sexual sin. I am so thankful and reminded often at how easy it would be to fall to old ways if my eyes are not constantly on Him and exalting Him and only Him on the throne of my heart.

Aaron Young 11 months ago

thanks for helping me (1) reflect today and (2) send a note of thanks and encouragement to those that have supported and helped me in the past

Alma Barber 11 months ago

@HopeHarris “How should I then live? Pick up my cross, deny myself and honor God through a holy sexuality. By living my story of grace out–loud in a redemptive manner that draws others to my Savior.” ** hi five Chica!**

Alma Barber 11 months ago

Great Central Truth. May we all remember what you stated Ronnie: “We are all in this world together, and all fall short of God’s standard (romans 3:23)” We may be faithful in prayer and worship, and biblically solid in our theology and doctrine as believers in Christ. But in our hearts (and in our churches), do we welcome those who are different from us-no matter who they are? Do we communicate to them that we, too, are people equally in need of God’s grace? Regardless of how we sin, may it leads us all to the foot of the cross. We all like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). May we extend the same grace, which we have received- where none was deserved.

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

In the patience and long suffering of God some come to find glory in shame and ironically the same often try to shame those who glorify God. Just as there are glory reversals there are shame reversals coming. Those ‘shamed’ for Christ will marvel in Him. Those who marveled wrongly will miss out. Fortunately, it’s not the end of the story and people can come out of shame to be changed from one degree of glory to another.

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

There are dishonorable passions and honorable ones as well… so be passionate about things honoring to God

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

Cravings need to be dislodged by better desires. God is father in truth to the redeemed and fatherly to all men. God loves the redeemed and benevolent to all men. God just has to step back and hide His face and men sink in the quicksand of thankless fallen natures but God still restrains to a measure all. Part of redemption is a new nature that loves God and hungers for righteousness and still needs to be cultivated, fighting the good fight.

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

God sometimes hides His face and makes us ‘melt in the hands of our iniquities’ Is 64:6 There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

Larry Miller 11 months ago

Good morning, my friend and thank you for your encouragement and reminder of God’s Love for us. Your discussion reminded me of the “law of reaping and sowing” from Galatians 6 that we discuss so often on Tuesdays. Thanks so much for your message, your heart and your service.

Christopher Hyland 11 months ago

I was the poster child for dishonorable passions. I tried everything sexual under the sun and with each experience the next one hade to be more extreme to maintain the erotic high. It was a descending spiral of immorality. At the same time I pursued other dishonorable passions that the world did not flinch at - my lust and desire for money and comfort and “normal” inappropriate relationships with women. And all the is was the result of “for this reason…” the reason being I did I did not honor God in my heart. A lesson I still remember and thankfully a warning I still need.

Gordon Ip 11 months ago

Hope, thank you for your honesty about the temptations & struggles bc of our brokenness. Thank you for your example of obedience and trust in our good father rather than have to “figure it all out”. He is so much more wise and His ways so perfect.

Gordon Ip 11 months ago

Hope, thank you for your honesty and your enlightening us of the temptations due to our brokenness. Thank you also for sharing about the choice of obedience, how that does not have to make totally rational human sense except that we have a good and loving father and by obeying the creator we end up benefiting from His design for us. Ronnie, thank you for reminding me to look within my own circle!

Hope Harris 11 months ago

@SueBohlin, thanks and wow to this “homosexual expression, it is NOT His plan or intention or design for any of us. It is “missing the mark” of human sexuality—or human “emotionality” for that matter.”

Hope Harris 11 months ago

@BurlonLeffal, you can and have. BTW, your references to “ancient films” may reveal something of yourself…just sayin

Sue Bohlin 11 months ago

@HopeHarris—I’m so proud of you for submitting your feelings to the Lordship of Christ. And for working on developing an eternal perspective. Which is why I am confident that 100 years from today, when you are in heaven looking back on your life on earth, you will indeed see your decades of experiencing same-sex attraction as a limited “season” of your life which you were faithful to surrender to Jesus. 100 years from today, all your disordered affections will be properly ordered and gloriously aligned with the character of God and His intention for your heart. Forever!

Sue Bohlin 11 months ago

Thank you, Ronnie, for both your devo and your service at Prodigal. Today I am asking the Lord to REALLY impress the truth of today’s verses on the heart and minds of all the thousands of us participating in The Journey, creating a “wake-up mode” that disturbs and reveals the lie that so many believers have absorbed. God is NOT okay with homosexual expression, it is NOT His plan or intention or design for any of us. It is “missing the mark” of human sexuality—or human “emotionality” for that matter. He can and does dearly love His children who discover their hearts go to same-sex attraction, but He doesn’t intend for anyone to act on it. His call is still to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

Lindsey Driscoll 11 months ago

Ronnie, great devo and excellent questions today that open up for the JTJ community to share authentically. Q2- I was really struck today by vs. 26 “because of this (exchanging God’s truth for a lie 2:25) God have them over to shameful lusts. As someone recovering from a ponography addiction Iknowthe pain and shame that comes from pursuing the lusts of this world. Now that I have found freedom and sobriety those lusts look different. The lust for anything: food, distraction, comfort, material things that make me worship things other than the creator (2:25) are things I daily continue to lay at the feet of Christ.

Burlon Leffall III 11 months ago

@HopeHarris may I reference “GroundHog Day” again? There’s a newer one called “Edge of Tomorrow” Better? Because I’m pretty sure I can copy and paste my answer from Q1 yesterday for Q1 today. Truth has circled the block. Ronnie, it’s cool to see your face and thank you for sharing Prodigal with us! I really liked the statement in the promo video that if a family has an addict, then it has an enabler. I can testify that that is true for community group as well and that I’ve been on both sides of that spectrum. I can testify that God helped me with my brokenness (SSA) with faithful bros and sis in Christ who first ran to Christ with theirs. “For all have sinned…” Rom 3:23

Hugh Stephenson 11 months ago

Good morning Ronnie! Great to see a Prodigal brother on the The Journey. In this passage, I see Paul’s emphasis on God’s intended design and purpose. He has a plan for all creation and when I go against that plan in any way he “gives me up” and I receive “due penalty”. I see my dishonorable passions as including lust but also way beyond it to any number of other ways of going against God’s plan. I want my plan for marriage, family, business and every other part of my life. So often this is like pushing a bolder up a steep hill. Most days are like this. When I have surrendered to His plan it has always worked better.

Julie Newmeyer 11 months ago

I found this interesting when reading Dr. Constable’s commentary, and thought I’d share: “Because mankind “exchanged” the truth for the lie, God allowed him to degrade himself through his “passions.” The result was that he “exchanged the natural” human functions for what is “unnatural.” In the Greek text, the words translated “women” (thelus; v. 26) and “men” (arsen, v. 27) mean “females” and “males.” Ironically, the homosexuality described in these verses does not characterize females and males of other animal species— only human beings. Homosexuality is a perversion because it uses sex for a purpose contrary to those for which God created and intended it (Gen. 1:28; 2:24).”

Hope Harris 11 months ago

Heads–up JTJ peeps, two-part response: Almost nine years after coming to Christ, it’s hard for me to see my same-sex attractions(SSA) as a “lifestyle” or a “season”; by season I’m assuming the use to imply, something temporary that will pass. I found myself attracted to other girls and women at 11. Was it an intentional lifestyle choice then, or passing phase I would get over? 47 years later I’m still attracted to women. As I grow into a fully devoted follower of Christ; I surrender my attractions and desires to God; acknowledging they are not God’s best for my life. As a child, my perspective of sexuality was impacted; by two adults who were sexually and relationally dysfunctional. Influencing my need as an adult to be accepted, affirmed and gain the attention and affection of other women. Legitimate needs being met in illegitimate ways.

Hope Harris 11 months ago

PT.2 – As a result, in my 20’s I went all in as a lesbian. John Piper helps me understand this passage. “Failed worship is our worst disorder. This is beneath all the maladies of the world.” Simply put sin impacts our lives from birth to the grave. Disordering all of our lives, impacting our ability to relate to God and others, He intended us to. #What if my (SSA) never goes away in this life? Does it give me permission to continue to indulge in relationships with other women? Answers: It may not and no it does not. How should I then live? Pick up my cross, deny myself and honor God through a holy sexuality. By living my story of grace out–loud in a redemptive manner that draws others to my Savior.

Amy Merritt 11 months ago

Thank you for this great devo Ronnie. I loved what you said, “Generally, peoples’ actions give rise to an outcome (cause and effect). He loves us enough to not interfere; He will give us over to our desires.” Our flesh will always lead to death and destruction, but Moses says in Deuteronomy, “Now choose life! and your children may live, and that you may love the Lord you God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” This is where life really is. A relationship with God, seeing Him righteous.

John Hill 11 months ago

Hello Ronnie, Yes, I have been reading ahead. Nice job with the devotional. My take away, if we are not part of the solution (sharing Christ with others) we are part of the problem. This year, I want to make it my goal, to be a bigger part of the solution! And thank you for your service to the body of Watermark.

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