Monday, December 19, 2011

In Your Anger Do Not Sin

Psalm 4:4 says this, and Paul repeats it in Ephesians 4:26:  "In your anger do not sin."  This statement is followed in both passages by the idea of not going to bed angry; or, while you are in your bed, quietly searching your heart.  So then, is anger a sin?

Colossians 3:8 tells us to rid ourselves of things such an anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language.  In this list, anger is connected to the acts of the sinful nature, and the opposite of the way "Children of the Light" should live.  Does this mean it is a sin to get angry?

James 1:19 says we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because, "man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."  Is anger a sin?

I am interested to hear what you all have to say in this regard. it a sin?

(Try to use scripture for your answers, because we all know our emotions can control us and seem right, even when they are wrong.  Saying, "I feel that..." to make a point is not going to hold water against scripture.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Control Freaks

The story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:16-22 is a story of control.  Ultimately, he was willing to obey the commands of God as far as he controlled them.  Jesus was pleased with his willingness to keep the commands, but found that this man had one flaw:  A lack of complete surrender to God and faith in His competence to control all things, including financial provision for him if he would follow Jesus.

When we read the words, "he went away sad, because he had great wealth," we tend to be judgmental of the man for turning away from Jesus.  But when it comes to issues of control, how often have we done the same thing? 

"One thing you lack,..." Jesus says.  What is it for you?

"Give me control of your future; your problems; your family; your finances; your actions; your will?"  What is it you keep back from Him?  Are you on the threshold of walking away sadly because you trust yourself more than God when it comes to one of these issues?  Are you unwilling to give any one of these areas over to His control?

Which area is the biggest challenge for you?  Why?  What are you afraid will happen if you give up control?  Is Jesus really Lord of your life if you don't surrender this area to Him?  Will you surrender, or walk away, sadly?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Anonymous Confrontation

I have a few opinions about things in life.  You know that if you read my blog, and you know it even more if you have had conversations with me for any amount of time.  I am opinionated.  I confess it, and I own it.  So let me give you my honest opinion about people trying to confront others by sending unsigned letters... 

1.  You are SELFISH.  I cannot think of a more selfish, self-preserving, self-motivated action than to write a letter of condemnation to someone else without letting them know who sent it.  

2.  You are a COWARD.  Writing the address in box letters and sending it from a generic place so no one can trace it back to you shows that you are scared and don't have the convictions of your words to stand behind them.

3.  You are UNLOVING.  In the church, this is one of the most damnable traits of all.  If someone is truly wrong, it would be a loving thing to tell them in a loving way.  A letter that looks like a ransom note is not loving.  By the way, the charge you are making better be scriptural sin if you plan to rightly confront an issue in the life of another Christian.

4.  I will IGNORE you EVERY TIME.  Because you are an unloving, selfish coward, it is not worth the time of day for me to actually take to heart anything you try to say to me.  If it was an important issue that was truly hurting my Christian witness, a truly loving brother or sister in Christ would lovingly address it to my face, with great concern for my spiritual well-being; not take pot-shots in a ransom note.

With that one has sent me one of these types of notes - recently, anyway.  I am not referring to a personal attack or instance of this.  Someone on my worship team at my church had a cruel note sent to them by a gutless coward and I am filled with what I believe is a "Righteous Anger"!  It is not for myself.  It is not because my feelings were hurt.  It certainly isn't because I'm afraid that what they said was true!  It was an ignorant and non-scriptural "opt-ed  piece" being vomited all over one of my church family members. 

If this viper has the where-with-all to try to stick up for their act of cruel cowardice, I would be more than happy to explain to them exactly why they are nothing but wrong for this very stupid act.  Try to stick up for yourself on this, you disreputable snake.  I dare you!

By the way, you are not anonymous to God.  He knows who you are, and He will protect His people.  You will give account for every careless word spoken (or written).  I am ready to account for what I have written here.  My name is connected to it.  How about you?

Told you I was opinionated.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Holy Spirit

We have been talking about the Holy Spirit in our church services for the last couple of weeks.  It is interesting that Jesus told Nicodemus he must be "born from above" to see the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus went on to call the experience, "Born of water and of the Spirit."

What do you suppose that means?  How are we "born of water?"  How are we "born of the Spirit?"  If this is being "born from above," what part do we play in the whole thing?

I would suggest that baptism with water is a more important part of beginning a relationship with Jesus than we Wesleyans sometimes treat it.

I would also add that being born of the Spirit is not taught very well or addressed very much in our salvation messages.  We talk about believing, but Jesus said we will not enter the Kingdom of God without being "born of the Spirit."  How does that happen?  Do our churches reflect an understanding or experience of life-change that evidences a "New Birth" in our people? 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Gospel

We like to summarize.  I believe we like it to an unhealthy extent, especially when it comes to the Bible.  We like to say, "That's what the Bible is all about," or "Isn't that really the whole Gospel?"  We want a bumper sticker to say it all.  I believe that if that were possible, God would have given us a bumper sticker, instead of 66 books of Scripture.

So, what is the Gospel message?  Is it simply, "Believe?"  Is it, "Let go, and let God?"  Is it possible to summarize?

Here are some vital aspects of the gospel.  Which parts are necessary for people to understand and accept to be saved?  Which parts do not need to be understood?  Read them all.  Tell me what to delete.

·         God is holy.  He wants holy people.  He created Adam and Eve in holiness; to be holy.
·         Adam and Eve disobeyed God, bringing sin and death into the world, tarnishing the holiness in which they were created.
·         Now, we in ourselves are unholy (worse than “not holy”, we are actively “unholy” - SINFUL)
·         Hell was created to punish Satan and the angels who followed him in rebellion before God.  The punishment fits the crime.  Sin in us has condemned all of us to hell
·         Because of God’s holiness, death has to be paid for my sin.  It is the wage my sin has earned.
·         Jesus is God’s Son (holy in character and action), and was without sin.  The spotless lamb.
·         Because of His incredible love and mercy, Jesus' death paid the wage of my sin.  No other payment is sufficient replacement for what I owe; Jesus redeemed me by His blood, and there is no other hope for freedom from hell.
·         The resurrection of Jesus was the greatest victory.  Because He defeated death, we have hope of eternal life, as well!  Without this truth, we are to be pitied more than all others.
·         When we realize all of these things are true (hear and understand the gospel), and we choose to believe it and receive the forgiveness available through Jesus, based on a desire to change the way we live so as to honor Him and submit to His authority as the author of life (repent), and receive the Holy Spirit through the cleansing work of submitting my life into His hands (as shown through baptism, where I died and He came alive in me); when we do this, we receive a new nature, eternal life, and become citizens of heaven.
·         When this has truly happened and you have genuinely believed, you will never be the same, again!  You are a new creation, filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit of God, dead to who you were and alive to what you are becoming.
·         Now, by faith, we live in obedience to God, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we blow it, we sincerely ask God for forgiveness, and He faithfully cleanses us.  Then we continue in obedience.  Our lives are His, and not our own.
·         The hope of heaven drives us to daily serve God on earth.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Follow-Up to "Alcohol and Membership Requirements"

A lot of people viewed the article I wrote on this topic some months back.  One person asked a good question that I am afraid no one will read because it is an older post, so I am reprinting my response to his question here for further insight into my views on this.  I want to be honest about this and admit my views have changed immensely since I was a young minister.  The reasons are in this post.  Here is my response to the question regarding why the church would have expectations about alcohol now that would have omitted Jesus and the disciples from membership in the church today:

Since we are talking about a form of governance and not a heaven or hell issue, I do not believe we have to qualify why Jesus turned water into wine at Cana in Galilee.

We have seen such miserable and embarrassing failures in the leadership of the church over the last 30 years that I believe we need to go the extra mile to show that we are serious about integrity and character among our leaders. In Acts 21:26, Paul had some of the Gentiles ritualistically purified to appease the Jewish community even though they didn't have to be in God's eyes. He did this in order to appease people who thought Paul was getting carried away with his freedom in Christ. Sometimes it is better for leaders in the church to submit themselves to the expectations of the whole to create a peaceful environment in the body.

Jesus made Himself submissive to even death for the sake of saving His church. He could have exercised His freedom - and been right to do so - except that no one would have been saved. Now He has called us to be servants of all; submissive to the authorities that exist.

As the church has become larger and more organized, we have seen divisions happen for all kinds of reasons. We have seen false teachers and weak-willed believers create an atmosphere of doubt about the church, our sincerity and whether anyone really believes what we say, anymore. I believe this has changed our obligation to the Lord and to the world in what we expect of ourselves to live "above reproach" in our day. I think this is "What Jesus Would Do".

Monday, September 05, 2011

If God is Good, Why...?

This is the way many people who struggle to believe - and many who just plain choose to disbelieve - start their questions about Jesus and the Bible. The same questikon can have two completely different impacts on me. When someone is asking it sincerely looking for an answer or for help, it causes me to go right into intercessory prayer for them. When someone asks it to be confrontational and "prove me wrong", it causes me to go right into a prayer for wisdom and protection against what will obviously be an attack against me and my faith. One thing we can't let it do is turn into "fighting words", pitting me against the person I am trying to have a resaonable discussion with. I want to build a bridge for them to cross using wisdom and the word of God as the Spirit leads me, I do not just want to win the argument.

If God is Good, why is there evil? Why do babies suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? All of these can be causes for genuine confusion for many, and I want desperately to be helpful to them. But some people are just asking these questions to make God appear to be a foolish fantasy, and they are asked with anger, mockery and pretension. This second group of people really tries my patience because they are immediately attacking my faith, assuming they already know what I believe.

In your discussions about your faith, do you find that more people are really trying to understand, or are they just trying to tell you why they don't believe and get you off their backs? Are they peaceful in their approach with you, or do you feel that they are instantly angry at the idea of God? I would love to hear from you how people have responded to your attempts to talk about Jesus with them.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

What Style of Evangelism Works?

Many churches are struggling to get our message - the Gospel - out in a positive way.  Some are using food give-away's and mission works to "Evangelize", some are still trying to get people into the church to listen to the gospel, and others are going door to door with a "confrontational" evangelism.

I am interested to hear of successful methods of evangelism - ideas that are currently working.  I am not asking for how you were brought to the Lord, but how you ARE CURRENTLY, EFFECTIVELY reaching your community and seeing lives transformed.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


The 73rd Psalm was written by Asaph, and addresses an issue that could challenge all of us at one moment or another:

PS 73:2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.

PS 73:3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Have you ever felt like people who don’t care what God thinks are advancing in their lives while you, as a follower of Jesus, are suffering; struggling to get by? Asaph goes on to express how this made him feel:

PS 73:13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

PS 73:14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.

When we are trying to tell people how badly they need Jesus, they often don’t see it because of these very things. Visibly, they seem to have it all while we have very little, yet we are saying they should want what we have. Sometimes, we even struggle to believe that they can learn anything from us. We may “almost slip”; we may “almost lose our foothold” (v.2).

So what answer does Asaph come up with for us? How do we keep from “envying the arrogant” (v.3)?

PS 73:16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me

PS 73:17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

We need to constantly come back to the Word of God, taught in the Sanctuary of God. We need to be reminded that this world is fading away, and what we are receiving has not yet been made completely known, or revealed. But the fate of those who are lost will not be changed by their money or power or fame, here on Earth. Only what we have – the Name of Jesus Christ – can change that for them.

PS 73:24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Asaph had the understanding of glory that waits for us after this life is through. While we are here, God guides us. When we die, He will take us into His glory. Meanwhile:

PS 73:27 Those who are far from you will perish;…

This is not something we rejoice about, but rather a reminder that we do have something that they need.

This life is not all there is. Better to suffer for a little while and then have an eternity of heaven, then to have it easy for this life, and suffer an eternity of hell.

And so, we say, along with the Apostle Peter, in Acts 3:6:

AC 3:6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. …the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… ."

Hope is found nowhere else, but the Name of Jesus, and the Salvation He has brought us.

Maybe you feel like your life as a Christian has been harder than many who do not follow Jesus, but don’t let your foot slip; don’t lose your foothold. Follow God’s guidance throughout your life, and come to the Sanctuary of His Word, often, to remember that this is all about eternity, not the moment.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Inside of the Church

I am intrigued and somewhat shocked by what some people think makes a church meeting place actually look like a church meeting place. The sense seems to be that if our worship center doesn't have certain decorations, it is not truly a worship center.


So what makes it a worship center? How does it have to look to be a place where we can actually worship? What artifacts do we need to create the right atmosphere so that it is actual worship and not a show? I am really interested to hear from people on this.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Alcohol and Membership in the Wesleyan Church

The Wesleyan Church membership requirements for Covenant Members includes an expectation of abstaining from all alcoholic beverages, tobacco and drug use (other than prescribed medicines). Many debates have been held over this issue, and the debate continues in our generation.

First, it must be pointed out that we are not talking about how to be saved, we are talking about how to govern a body of believers, and keep godly order in the church. We need a system for leadership that promotes godliness and all of the fruits of the Spirit. One of those fruits is “self control”.

Alcohol causes unnecessary battles in the area of self-control on two levels: 1) The self-control over addiction; 2) the self-control given up when intoxicated.

Why does the Wesleyan Church have membership requirements? To call our membership to live above reproach; to live a witness to the world that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life; and to call our people to holiness. Members and leaders are rightly called to a higher standard than those who simply attend. This is not to Lord anything over them as if we are better than anyone else, but to serve them by denying ourselves and living in a way that will not cause any of our brothers and sisters to stumble.

No, it is not a sin to drink. It is a sin to get drunk. It is a sin to cause our brother to stumble. It is a sin to give up self control.

It is challenge enough to control the things that we must do, like eat without gluttony, work in the worldly surroundings of American commerce without joining in dishonest practices to get ahead, and carry on conversations with our lost friends and family without joining in on gossip, slander, coarse joking, unwholesome talk and malicious anger at others for whom Jesus died. These things we face every day because we have to if we are going to be "in the world yet not of the world."

With all the unavoidable battles thrown at us from the enemy, why intentionally bring a battle into your life, your family’s lives, and the life of the church that we don’t have to face? No one HAS to drink alcohol.

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. - 1 Cor. 10:23

So for generations, the Wesleyan Church has revisited this same discussion as to why we have a membership requirement like this that is not directly spelled out in scripture. I would answer with the final thought of 1 Cor. 10:23: We are doing it, and teaching all members to do it, for the good of others. It works. I welcome your input.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Many people say that salvation is complete at the moment you believe in Jesus. If that is the case, what is the need for and value of doctrine?

Your doctrine is the belief system by which you make all decisions in your life, from whom you will marry to what you will do for a living to what you believe is right or wrong. God's Word speaks into all of these things and more.

Paul wrote to Timothy and gave instruction about doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:9-11 says that sound doctrine has to comform to the gospel. In 1 Timothy 4:15-16, Paul warns Timothy to persevere in his life and doctrine, and so save himself and his hearers.

Most valuable to this conversation is 2 Timothy 4:2-4, in which Paul warns that the day will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. This fact comes up after Paul admonishes Timothy to rebuke, correct and encourage people with the Word of God.

Who will put up with rebuke or correction from the Scriptures anymore? The "wisdom" of the day is that we all sin, so no one has a right to correct or rebuke anyone. Is this the fulfillment of Paul's prophetic warning to Timothy coming to life in our day; in our church? In your church?

Doctrine. Does it matter? Is it extra-gospel rules, or intra-gospel necessity? Chuck Coleson wrote a book that asked the question, HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE? I might ask my question this way: "WHY, THEN, SHOULD WE LIVE LIKE THAT?"

Friday, May 06, 2011

Love Your Enemies...

I have had some interesting back-and-forth with some people on Facebook regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden. The debate is whether there should be celebration of his death by any Christians, because that is not a Christian thing to do.

Choosing now to abstain from my own editorials, I would just welcome some scriptural insights from anyone who reads this.

I am going to frame the conversation just a bit, however.

1. Keep in mind, that Osama isn't just one man, but the representation of a religious sect and the trainer and supplier of many terrorists.

2. He wasn't killed by a person taking revenge, but a country defending itself against the ongoing attacks and calls to war that he released and for which he gladly took credit.

3. He was a man who mocked God, and had dedicated his life to killing all Jews and Christians. He was not going to stop.

Within that framework, is it biblical to celebrate his death, or is it ungodly?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

God's Grace

When you talk with someone who is broken by their own sin, and the guilt of their actions is overwhelming them, you might give them this kind of consolation:

"Hey, God will forgive you for these things. After all, all of us have sinned. Don't beat yourself up about it, just ask Him to forgive you, and get back in the game."

These words are comforting to a person truly filled with godly sorrow. What a joy to know that God will always forgive those who confess their sins.

Another person who has been in an ongoing pattern of sinful living is confronted for their actions with the scriptures only to have them respond not with repentant sorrow or submission to God, but more of a defiant attitude. When they use the same words as you gave the person consumed by their guilt; saying, "Hey, everyone sins; I'll just ask forgiveness for it," you kind of feel sick inside. Those words seem hollow and meaningless, and are less about grace and more about indulgence.

Have you experienced these two kinds of people before? How do you feel about them when they speak to you? Do you think they will both receive forgiveness from God when they ask? Do you believe God is pleased with both of them? What is the difference between these two people?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Levels of Sin?

I haven't posted on here for a long time, because I am of the opinion that no one is reading this. However, I have a question that demands some open debate. I don't want to ruin anyone's day or cause them to hate me, so lets make sure this is a friendly conversation without personal insults or accusations. Agreed? Okay, then, here it goes:

Do you believe there are levels of sin? Is one worse than another? In God's eyes, if I lose my temper and treat someone unlovingly, is it the same as murdering? Is homosexuality a "worse sin" than adultery? Is unforgiveness an "unpardonable sin", since Jesus said, "if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."?

Are all sins the same? If so, explain from scripture. If not, explain from scripture. I would love some responses to this.