Doom, Despair, and Agony On Me!

We live in an imperfect world to say the least. Sometimes we start to feel like WE are CHARLIE BROWN! The gas prices drop but taxes are too high and our take home pay is often too low, so what’s the point? The moment we really begin to enjoy the beautiful fall weather, an ice storm hits and the air drops to freezing! Then it goes back up to warm weather again, but we’ve come down with the flu, respectively, and are not able to enjoy it…wonderful. We just get the hot water heater fixed but then the furnace goes out right about the time the weather drops below 20o F so you are cold…again, get the flu…again and can’t enjoy the holidays…again! And by the way, the car broke down so who cares about the low gas prices! Sometimes, the problems are even more severe! Sound familiar…

We end up living in an ever perpetual loop of the “doom and despair” syndrome. You know the old Hee-Haw bit: “Doom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Doom, despair and agony on me.” Now Jesus said that we would have tribulation in this world (John 16:33), but that we should be of good cheer, never despairing from the misfortune that befalls all of us at one time or another.

It is in these times when despair would bring us down into a pit of constant complaining, that we need to have our “God inspired gratitude” kick in to remind us of the greatest blessing ever given to mankind. It was revealed to us in Luke chapter 2 and in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when Linus gives a wonderful soliloquy to fellow cast members. It goes something like this: “8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good tidings of joy that will be to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’ 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:8-14).

This is a wonderful time of the year when it may be helpful to remind ourselves that God sent His son, Jesus, that we might be truly blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Purpose of Guilt & Shame

There are times when guilt and shame are properly placed and have a Godly purpose. We should never feel guilt or shame when we honor God, or embrace the same for something that is not our fault. Feelings of guilt & shame that are appropriate can only be so as they relate to God and our dishonoring Him.

In 1 Corinthians 6, we see the account of Christians initiating legal action against their brothers in Christ. The Apostle Paul rebukes this action declaring, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame.” In this instance, brothers in Christ were dishonoring God by taking other believer to a worldly court. They were trying to appear righteous in deed, but were actually showing their spiritual weakness and dishonoring God. Paul said this to their SHAME!

In Ezekiel 43, the Israelites contaminated the temple by ignoring God’s specific instructions. The writer pens this in verse 10, “Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities;” When believers purposefully ignore God’s Word, His directions and sin, we are to recognize our guilt and experience shame. Guilt and shame are proper when our thoughts and actions dishonor our Lord. If the world had a greater sense of well-placed guilt and shame, we would have a lot less young celebrities “twerking” on Grammy Award shows!

Yet, even when we sin and dishonor God, Jesus does not want us to hang on to or bathe ourselves in guilt and shame, wallowing in self-pity. Properly placed guilt and shame becomes improper and misplaced when it continues on beyond the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Guilt and shame is used by the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin so that we can repent and be restored to God. Anything that lingers beyond that turns into ungodly condemnation and is of Satan to destroy us. The Apostle John tells us in his first epistle, chapter 1:8-9, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The devil uses guilt & shame to destroy us. God uses guilt and shame to bring us back to Himself and forgives us of all unrighteousness.

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Oh, The Shame

I don’t know about you, but there have been moments in my life when I have been inundated with feelings of guilt and shame. I think we all have had those moments. Sometimes the guilt & shame we felt was absolutely justified and sometimes the guilt & shame was absolutely unfair and should never have been embraced. Often we have a hard time telling the difference.

I recall feeling guilty and embracing shame one fine Saturday afternoon as we played our Junior League baseball rival. A hard hit drive from our opponent came screaming down the third base line (I happened to be playing that position at the time). The ball hit the dirt about 10 feet in front of me, then proceeded, as if perfectly targeted, to strike my sternum in such a way that every microbe of air exited my lungs leaving me collapsed on the ground. Oh, I had the ball, but the immediate pain and shock delayed my reaction to throw it to first and our opponent ended up with the, what was to be, the winning run on first. During the moment, my short stop cried out, “Throw the ball.” All I could do was mouth the words, “I CAN’T BREATHE!!! I felt guilty and I was ashamed for letting my team down.

Wikipedia describes guilt as a judgment or experience that occurs when “a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.” Shame is the pain that results. As believers, we need to know that the Bible tells us that guilt and shame should only be embraced or rejected according to whether we have dishonored or not dishonored God. Paul tells Timothy that he should not be ashamed of the Gospel or of those who preach the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:8). Many in the world may try to shame us when we share our faith in Christ, but we should never embrace these feelings when doing something that honors God.

We should also reject guilt & corresponding feelings of shame when we have done nothing to dishonor God, but may have been inappropriate or inadequate according to others expectations (such as when I was unable to throw a ball to first base while doubled over in excruciating and debilitating pain). Neither should we embrace these emotions when someone else dishonors God, but we place their guilt upon ourselves because of unfair association. Isaiah 50:7 says this, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” In the next Disciple, we will talk about when guilt and shame should be experienced and how to bring it under the authority of Christ.

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Um, Now What Do We Do?

Well, that is the $64,000 question now isn’t it. The further our nation retreats from the Biblical moorings given to us by God, the more pressure is placed on the Church to respond. The fact of the matter is, this really isn’t new to the Church worldwide or historically. Historically and in other parts of the globe, true Christians (not institutional religious Christianity) have often been the target of persecution and isolation from a larger world that has rejected Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It is just new to us here in America where for decades prayer and the Scriptures were incorporated into so many of our institutions including school settings (but now removed). America is changing at light speed and a heavy anti-Bible believing atmosphere is emerging to challenge traditional understandings of Scripture. It is being replaced with a culture more inclined to tout the virtues of diversity (regardless of unity) and doing what makes one happy at all cost. The world (and many in the Christian world) is certainly engaging in “Happiness Quest” over “Holiness Quest.”
So what do we do now? Just as we look to the Word to know what we shouldn’t do, we need to go there to learn what we should do as well. First of all, we need to realize that persecution is a part of all who will live Godly in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:10-12). Our faith will be challenged by the unbelieving on a consistent basis until the Lord returns so we need not be amazed when we see it happen.
Secondly, continue to follow Jesus and His Word. In verse 10, Paul reminds Timothy how he carefully followed his doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love and perseverance, etc. We need to do the same. They definitely lived in an anti-christian world. Thirdly, in verses 14 and 15, instruction is given to continue in what we have learned, namely the Holy Scriptures which is able to make us wise for salvation through our faith in Christ. We must not be deceived or diverted to the left or the right, but continue to study God’s Word and order our lives in accordance with Biblical tenets. In verse 16, Paul confirms the Scriptures value declaring that it is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.
Finally, let us follow the example Christ laid out for us. He was kind and gentle, loving and forgiving, full of truth and grace to all who would listen to Him, yet wasted no time on those looking to pick a fight. He gave the truth to the proud and grace to the humble. He was stalwart when proclaiming what people did not wish to hear, yet He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. We need to keep speaking God’s grace and truth (with grace and truth) to all who will listen so that the “whosoever will” may come to their spiritual senses and be saved through faith in Christ.
Be blessed even more,
Pastor Chris


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Uh, I Think We Knew This Was Coming

I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it, and if you have any doubt at all, I really don’t want to do it. What? I do not want to get into another political or ideological debate. But people, events and other political and ideological parties keep dragging me into it. And as long as this political tennis ball keeps landing on the Church’s “Biblical and moral” side of the court, I am compelled to address it and send it back across the net. It is not my fault! So here goes.
In light of the past Supreme Court rulings, and the pursuing discussions which followed, I think most would agree that we are seeing some significant change in the wind regarding the theological and moral compass surrounding the issues concerning marriage, family, the Bible, the Church and our national identity. The very fabric of our society is undergoing (and has been undergoing) a seismic shift away from what was held to be true for both millennia in the body of Christ, as well as the majority of mankind’s existence. And, although encapsulated in “good intentions,” it is revealing the ever increasing separation of our national and global culture, and Biblical understanding held by most men and women of God throughout world history. Having said all of that, we kind of knew this would happen.
This past month we spoke about what it would be like living in what many believe to be the “End Times.” As we read Biblical texts, we are clothed with the knowledge that “The World’s” understanding of rightness and wrongness would take a significant left turn (or right turn depending on your political station) from God’s Word. In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes to a young pastor named Timothy and sets out to prepare him, and us, for an upcoming apostasy. He starts out with these words from 2 Timothy 3, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves…” STOP. I don’t want to hear any more!! (Hands on ears).
Following those first few words of Paul comes a laundry list of characteristics describing the condition we find ourselves in today. One thing interesting in verses 7 and 8, we are told that humankind would not only be unable to come to the truth found in God’s Word, but would indeed be resistant to the same (2 Timothy 3:7-8). We are living in a generation where many seek to remove Biblical instruction from all spheres of public life and consistently exalts humankind as their own savior and moral arbiter. Surely, we knew this was coming?! More on this subject in 2 weeks.
Be blessed even more,
Pastor Chris


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