Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cancel the Guilt Trip

The story is told of a man driving past an insane asylum.  As he did, he got a flat tire.  As he pulled over and started to work on the tire one of the patients sat by the fence watching him.  The man took out his jack, tire iron, etc.  He began to loosen the lug nuts and remove them.  He removed the tire and accidentally kicked the lug nuts and they fell into the sewer drain.  He was at a loss for words.  Without the lug nuts he couldn’t put on the spare.  The man behind the fence said, “Mister, why don’t you use one lug nut off each wheel and it will be enough to get you to a service station.”  The driver said, “That’s a great idea. Thanks! By the way, what are you doing in a place like this?”  To which the man replied, “I’m crazy, but I’m not stupid!”
 
One thing that will drive us crazy is guilt.  Guilt is an emotion that hurts and hampers many.  Guilt is that feeling of sorrow and regret over wrong behavior.  In the movie “The Mission” Robert De Niro plays a man who kills his brother in a jealous rage.  He takes asylum in America at a mission.  Because of what he has done he is instructed to carry a heavy pack to do his penance.  He feels terrible yet he doesn’t know what to do with his sin and the shame that came with it.

At times we all feel that way.  Some are tethered about by some transgression.  Some are dealing with guilt over things done years ago.  Guilt hurts us in so many ways.  It damages our relationships.  We can’t get close to others because we feel bad about the past.  Guilt also keeps us stuck in the past.  We play our sins over and over again in our minds.  Someone has said,” Guilt cannot change the past and worry cannot change the future but it sure will make you miserable today”.

The worst trip you will ever take is the guilt trip.  God is a God of forgiveness.  In the book of Isaiah He says, “Come now, let us reason together.  Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”.

That scripture reminds us that God is willing to forgive us if we ask him.  And once we have we need to forgive ourselves.  It has been said to err is human but to forgive is divine.  Oh!  How true!

See ya Sunday!
Pastor

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tame That Temper

It is no wonder that some believe anger is burning hotter in modern society than ever before.  When you consider some of the phrases which are now common place – “Domestic violence”, “Workplace Violence”, “Road Rage” “Drive-by-shooting”, among others – it seems we live in a world seething with anger.  Consider also that experts state that sixty percent of homicides investigated are committed by one family member who is angry with another family member.  And most every night the news is brimming with reports of civil unrest and mass demonstrations from all corners of the globe which often depict angry mobs rioting in the streets.  Anger that is both ungodly and unhealthy appears to permeate every level of every culture.  As a radio preacher of yesteryear once stated “No form of vice, nor worldliness, nor greed of gold, nor drunkenness itself does more to un-christianize a society than an evil temper”, and we certainly seem to be witnessing this on a global scale.  

On a more personal level, in the years God has given me the privilege to pastor I have often seen the heartbreaking after-effects left in the wake of a violent temper.  The especially tragic aspect is oft times anger of this nature is founded upon misinformation or miscommunication, and destroys what were once loving relationships.  Have you ever been angry with someone for so long that you really can’t remember why?  If we are angry with someone and cannot rationally and reasonably identify the root cause of this, that anger is wrong.  Jesus affirmed this in His sermon on the mount when He declared “Whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment.”  At other times our anger can be misguided.  It is one thing to be angry when an injustice has been perpetrated; it is another thing altogether if our intention is to seek vengeance rather than justice.  That type of anger is clearly wrong from a Biblical perspective.

The great C.H. Spurgeon said,” I have no more right as a Christian to allow a bad temper in me than I have to allow the devil in me.” He was exactly right.  The Bible makes it clear that we are never to let the sun go down on our wrath.  Husbands and wives ought not to go to bed angry with one another.  As the comedienne Phyllis Diller once quipped “Never go to bed mad.  Stay up and fight!”
    
When anger takes root in the heart and becomes part and parcel of a person’s natural disposition, it will produce toxic results.  Unchecked, anger of this sort can lead to a host of problems, and can have detrimental effects on every level of an individual’s life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  As Christians, we need to be ever vigilant from permitting anger a place in our hearts if we are intent on living as Christ’s ambassadors, for as the Apostle James warns:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”.

See ya Sunday!
Pastor

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Truth Shall Make You Free!

The very last verse of the Book of Judges (21:25) declares, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes”.  It was written as a brief but concise description of how far the nation of Israel had strayed from the truth of God’s law.  In fact, in many cases they were outright rejecting it.  There was no longer a common standard of right or wrong among the people; moral authority was no longer tethered to God’s standard, and Israel teetered on the precipice, soon to descend into the moral decline which ultimately provoked God’s wrath.

To a large degree, America today is not far from an identical situation.  We find ourselves in cultural and moral confusion, the end result of the current favored academic and philosophical fade, Post-Modern Relativism.  This is a fancy way of essentially saying that there is no such thing as “absolute truth”, that truth is “relative” to the individual.  In other words, “what you believe is true is fine for you, but may not be true for me”.  If this sounds a bit bizarre, this little anecdote will hopefully explain why:  There was a college professor, who stood before his class and boldly proclaimed “There are no moral absolutes.”  To which a puzzled young student asked, “Are you sure of that?”  The esteemed professor confidently replied, “Absolutely sure.”  Now, I don’t know about you, but to me the contradiction is profoundly self-evident!

But because of this pervasive belief, our culture suffers from an onslaught of numerous strange departures from previously held moral “truths”.  The “gay” community demands the “right” to marriage, while heterosexuals are running from it.  We are now being told that guns should be outlawed, but pot shouldn’t be.  We find in many states that a 14 year old girl has to get her parents’ permission to go on a field trip, but not to have an abortion.  It is not difficult to see why many feel America has reached the tipping-point, and is perched similarly on the slippery slope as was Israel at the conclusion of the Book of Judges.

In opposition to modern philosophical trends, Christians believe God has revealed and established absolute truth, not only through His written word in the Bible, but that this truth was embodied by His son, Jesus Christ, who emphatically and unequivocally declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.  Secular philosophies suggest we can have freedom by denying the existence of truth; but ultimately this is the path by which we become slaves to sin (and government, for that matter!).  Contrast this to the promise Christ Himself makes: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.

Yes, I believe America is at a crossroads.  It is time “we the people” decide whether we will continue to sink beneath the shifting sands of Post Modern Relativism, or whether we will return to building our cultural foundations upon the “Solid Rock”. 

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance”.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Meek is Mighty

One of the strangest virtues lauded by the Bible as one to be desired by a “fruit of the spirit” Christian is that of meekness.   A reason this is so can be attributed to our modern connotation of this word, which seems to be associated with cowardice, or weakness, or to use a slang phrase, to be a “namby-pamby”.  This probably originates due to the popular idiom “as meek as a mouse”.  As such, our society does not place a premium on meekness because it is not in line with what is identified as “the American way”.  Although Jesus included this attribute along with the other Beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount, encouraging those who heard Him that “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”, it seems our cultural philosophy of the day is “blessed are the muscle men”, or “blessed are the money men” or “blessed are the powerful men”; not blessed are the meek men.

However, the Biblical connotation of meekness is completely antithetical with our modern perceptions.  The Biblical model of meekness is someone who has great spiritual fortitude, someone who will stand on his principles, who knows what he believes and will not waver to popular opinion, but who does so without arrogance or cockiness (see 1 Peter 3:15).  Jesus, of course, demonstrates this quality most definitively, as He was meek, yet He obviously possessed great strength.  So, meekness from a biblical perspective essentially means to be strong in purpose, to be confident in your beliefs, but to maintain self control and not resort to mean-spiritedness when confronted.

Although I am by no means a television addict as I rarely sit down and watch a program from start to finish, there are times where I will “veg-out” to enjoy a program which I find entertaining.  A few years back there was a series I would watch on occasion, “Walker, Texas Ranger”, a quintessential (and somewhat hokey) “good guys vs. bad guys” show whose star was Chuck Norris, a popular martial arts expert.  He once told of a time while filming his TV series in Texas where he had stopped at a restaurant for dinner. He was relaxing in his corner booth when a large man came up to him and informed Norris he was sitting in “his booth”.  Without hesitation, Norris simply got up and moved to another booth.  A few minutes later the guy came to see Norris again and asked, “Are you Chuck Norris?”  Norris nodded he was.  The stranger, rather astonished by this revelation, said ”You could have whipped me easily.  Why didn’t you?”  To which Norris replied, “It would have proved nothing.”  He shook the man’s hand and had made a friend.  I relate this story as I believe it is a perfect application of meekness in action!

Few people are aware that before The Revolutionary War, our forefathers initially attempted to resolve their differences with Great Britain through peaceful means.   They were confident in the rightness of their cause, and would not waver in their pursuit of liberty, but they did not resort to violent means immediately.  They exhibited true meekness in this manner.

In short, meekness does not equate with weakness; meekness means to be purposeful, but under control.  For the Christian, that means yielding our lives to the Master, and being “Under His control”.  When we do that we become blessed beyond measure.
 
See ya Sunday!
Pastor

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Blame Game


As Israel was suffering under the oppressive hand of the Babylonians, God called the prophet Ezekiel to speak to His chosen people.  They had become an idolatrous nation, actively worshiping gods other than Yahweh.  Ezekiel was instructed to warn them of further impending judgment which was soon to befall them if they persisted in their wicked ways.  Strangely enough, the Jews argued that their present suffering was not due to their own misguided behavior, but was in fact the result of the sins of their forefathers!  They put the blame on their ancestors, refusing to take any responsibility and recognize their own unfaithfulness and need for repentance.

Shift forward a couple of thousand years, and things have not changed all that much.  Despite the notion that mankind is so much more advanced, it is fairly obvious our modern pop psychology can be reduced to this threefold concept: blame someone else; blame anyone else; it’s the other guy’s fault!  I have spent a good deal of time counseling people the past 20 years or so, and it has been quite an education in human behavior.  The most common thread I have encountered in these sessions is the propensity to “point the finger” at someone else as being the progenitor of the problem.

Having been a parent, and now a grandparent, it has always amazed me how this blame-game is displayed even early in childhood.  Ever notice how your children will always blame the other guy for starting their quarrels?  Ironically, the first instance of this phenomenon is recorded in the Bible, and goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve (and even had the audacity to blame God in an off-hand manner!), Eve blamed the serpent, but the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on! (Yes, that’s a joke). 

We blame our failures on parents, teachers, brothers, sisters, churches, God, and lack of money, opportunity or education.  Scientists now even use the excuse that genetic composition causes many of the less than desirable behaviors afflicting mankind, essentially relieving us of any culpability for these actions as we have no control over our predisposition toward certain things. 

Truth is that when sin entered into the human race it did indeed damage us all (Romans 5:12).  As Christians, we recognize the Biblical truth we are all basically flawed, and one of the evidences of this fact is the tendency of our fallen nature to attempt to place blame any where but where it belongs. . . . on us!  However, equally true is the fact the Bible is replete with warnings that each one of us will be held individually accountable for our own actions.  And although we are all affected by numerous and various influences, the first step toward spiritual and emotional healing is to accept personal accountability for our individual behavior, and seek forgiveness in those areas where we have failed, rather then seeking someone or something to blame.  Once we have done this, God will be pleased.
See ya Sunday!
Pastor

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Patience...

Someone has said, “You can do anything if you have the patience.  You can carry water in a sieve if you wait till it freeze".  Henry Ford said,” Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears”.

Have you ever noticed how long we wait when we go out to have dinner?  We wait for the menu.  We wait to place our order.  We wait for our food.  We wait for the check.  And finally we wait for the opportunity to pay the check.  Then the restaurant has the audacity to refer to the one who addresses all of this activity as the waiter! 

I don’t know about you but I need help at times with patience.  We all need to be more like the little boy in a department store.  He was at the end of an escalator watching the railing as it went around.  Finally, a salesman came by and asked him, “Son, are you lost?”  The boy replied, “No sir, I am just waiting for my gum to come back.”  We need that kind of patience. 

One of the most blessed fruits of the Spirit is patience.  The Bible describes it as longsuffering.  It is a word which means “long tempered”. 

In his book, “Is it Worth Dying For?” Dennis Brio takes a physician’s approach to patience.  As a cardiologist, Dr. Brio argued that hot reactions “Respond to every frustrating situation with angry stress, which constricts their coronary arteries.  If the condition persists, and one continues to handle matters in such a way, it can ultimately lead to heart trouble and even heart disease.   He counseled people to be “cool reactors” to alleviate stress and future health problems.  He was basically advising them to be patient.

Much of life requires patience.  A Palestinian   farmer sowed seed in the ground and received no rain at all much of the year.  The field would turn brown.  They had no irrigation.  Dependence on rain was crucial.  An early rain would come in October.  Then it would not rain again in March or April.  His crops were out of his control.

 James in his Epistle writes, “See how the farmer waits expectantly for the precious harvest from the Lord.  See how he keeps up his patient vigil over it until it receives the early and later rain”.  Then James says, “So you also must be patient.”

Patience is a virtue.  Possess it if you can, seldom found in a woman, never found in a man.
Patience-get it.  The life you save might be your own.
 
See ya Sunday!
Pastor

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gun control?

It was Patrick Henry who said, “Whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it”.

 It has always amused me how the liberal side of the media provides news from their point of view.  A case in point would be gun control and the Second Amendment.  In actuality gun control has its roots in racism.  Very little is written about the role guns played in securing victories African-Americans achieved in the civil rights movement.

In 1958 in North Carolina, Mr. Robert Williams opened a local chapter of the NAACP.  Dr. Albert Perry, a physician, helped as a leader in the community.  This particular county (Monroe) was KKK country.  The Klan included in its membership the sheriff, several police officers, and many elected officials.

Mr. Williams, a veteran of the Marines knew he and his constituents must be protected.  In 1960 he applied to the nation’s oldest civil rights organization for help, the NRA.  He applied for a local charter.  They did so and supplied him with material for fire arms training.

 Officially sanctioned as the Monroe NRA Rifle Club, Williams recruited other black veterans.  This infuriated the Klan and it inflamed many white liberals.  One night, seeking to make an example they decided to attack Dr. Perry’s home.  The local NRA branch heard of it and sprang into action.  That night, instead of finding Dr. Perry at home with his family, they found a house filled with armed guards who knew how to use a weapon.  A firefight ensued.  The Klan was no match for these trained veterans.  The Klan drove off with unknown casualties.  The story of Monroe is one the liberal elites don’t want well known.

As Monroe demonstrates, it is dangerous to leave oneself unprotected.  Our forefathers saw this and thus we have the Second Amendment.  Their intention was that we have a God- given right to protect ourselves.  At times our only defense is self-defense.

Under today’s laws Monroe county would never happen.  The laws limit the sale of many guns.  Registration and licensing laws would tell the Klan who had guns and allow them to round them up before the raid took place.  When someone tells you we need stiffer gun laws remember Monroe County.  And when you hear the critics of the NRA, remember Monroe County and realize the NRA’s influence on civil rights.

 You won’t read this on the national news, but you should.  Our Constitution was written for free people.  Black and white.  Gun control is all about people control.  In the famous Dred Scott case, Chef Justice Taney said, “We cannot allow the recognition of blacks as humanity because they would be allowed to keep and bear arms.”

Gun control is anti-American.  The Second Amendment stands for itself.  It is a fundamental right.
 
See ya Sunday!
Pastor