Pastor’s Blog

This Too Shall Pass

Life can be like a roller coaster at times when in the middle of our peaceful world, sudden disappointments appear wrecking havoc and throwing us into turmoil. In one stretch of time we seem to be traveling along on a steady course that appears uneventful and peaceful and then…BAM…tragedy strikes and our world is turned upside down.   These are the moments that try our faith and can often lead us to question God and His purposes for us. The Bible gives us several reasons for why these things take place, but the most common reason that I see is revealed in this scripture. Matthew 5:44-45 says this. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Yes, we can blame the devil for many things that we see going wrong in the world. And yes, we at times need to lay the blame on our troubles at the feet of our own bad decisions. But more often then not, the sun shines as well as rains for all of us because we exist together on this giant ball called earth, living in a fallen world of sin that affects us in very real, tangible ways. And bad things happen to very good people just as they happen to those who have rejected God and blaspheme Him. There are instances in the scripture where we see God intervene and punish the unrighteous for their evil deeds as well as rewarding the righteous for their unbending faith in Him. We also see the devil at work trying to wreck havoc where he can. We have seen these examples in our study of Daniel on Wednesday evenings.   But if we continue digging in the Word, we will also see times when the unrighteous are seemingly ignored by God while His servants suffer.

Jesus encouraged His disciples during these times when He said that in Him we may have peace. In the world we experience tribulation; but be of good cheer, He has overcome the world (John 16). Just know this, and I hope this encourages you, God is watching and keeps an accounting of all He sees. For those following Him, He will never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). His blood cleanses you of all sin and we can rest in knowing that when difficulties arise…THIS TOO SHALL PASS. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

Be blessed even more!

 

Pastor Chris


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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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