Act Like It!

Today’s Scripture is Ephesians 4:25-26 New International Version (NIV),

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

Today’s Blog Post is by Annje Hutchinson, Administrative Assistant…

We have an array of human emotions:

Sadness

Fear

Joy

Embarrassment

Anger

Disgust

Surprise

Courage

Shame

Envy

Love

Boredom

The movie Inside Out is about a young girl (Riley) who is uprooted from the life she knows in the Midwest and moved half way across the country to San Francisco. The movie stars the young girl’s emotions as if they were each a separate person with a unique personality in her mind. Anger, who is voiced by the “angry” comedian Lewis Black, decides that Riley should just take the bus back to her home in the Midwest where she was happy. In his anger, Anger gets a little violent with the controls of Riley’s “emotions board” and it breaks, leaving poor Riley emotionless and not able to reverse her decision without the help of all the emotions together.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians is not saying that anger is innately bad or that we should suppress our anger. He’s saying be careful how we act when we are angry because we represent something bigger than ourselves. We represent the ENTIRE body of Christ. Riley, when faced with her anger over having to make new friends, fit into a new school and try new things, acts hastily and irrationally. She does not think about how her parents would miss her terribly. She does not think about what could happen to her on a trip by herself as a young girl. She does not think that, maybe, there was a healthier way to deal with her anger.

Anger can call us to action, move us to make changes in our lives or to make better choices for ourselves. However, when anger controls our lives, it can make us act irrationally, feel depressed and bitter, and cause physical ailments like high blood pressure and headaches. Paul, in today’s scripture, is telling us righteous anger is fine, but talk with the person we are angry with, face the situation we are angry about. Make things right and do it quickly… before the “sun goes down.” Also, he is saying don’t sin in our anger. Don’t spread rumors about the person we are angry with. Don’t have an affair on our spouse because we are angry with him or her. Don’t lie to get out of trouble when we are angry. Don’t drive erratically when we are angry with another driver. Never sin in our anger.

Remember who we are and who we belong to when we are angry. We are Christians and belong to God! We are the body of Christ… Act like it!

How it Begins…

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 26:20-21,

Without wood a fire goes out

Without gossip a quarrel dies down

As charcoal to embers and wood to fire

So is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife

Today’s blog post is by Hazel Campbell,

Who said she did that?  Not sure!

And so my friend that’s how it began. No one knew the source, but everyone heard the story and willingly passed it on. The investigation proved it wrong. Gossip, slander, backbiting, whispers and unfounded assumptions are the pitfalls against which the verses above are set to warn us. Whether in the church, or among our families, or in society, the effects of these words are the same DISCORD. The common saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never’ is just false. Gossips (words) have brought down empires, kings, rulers and even create contentious environments in churches.

A recent report revealed that 60% of all adult conversations is about someone not present!

The first known usage of the word ‘gossip’ is said to be before 1627 (Webster) and that it has gone in meaning from ‘godparent,’ ‘close friend’ to present day meaning ‘anyone, friend or not ,who shares the secret of others’  Why do we engage in such a destructive act? To gain friendships; add importance to ourselves; jealousy; for others to see us more pure or holy?

Or, is it that we are expressing a heart condition?

I invite you to join me, just for a moment, and walk in the shoes of someone who is being gossiped about. There is pain – dreadful pain. He or she feels hated, is discouraged, feels friendless, lonely, helpless.  He or she is swabbing wounds that are unseen to the eye. Is this a place for our neighbor to reside peacefully?

Tempted ever to gossip! Make the choice instead to recall Proverbs Ch. 17:9, “He that covers a transgression seeks love, but he that repeats a matter separates very friends.”

 

 

Leave Her Alone!

Today’s blog post is by Monica Hidalgo, Traditional Worship Director…

I remember saying those words when I saw her being made fun of and ridiculed at youth group. I saw that she was kind of weird; her style of clothing, a bit socially awkward, and trying really hard to be liked. She defended herself against them.  But, I could see her starting to crumble.  I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I wanted to stand up for her.  But, I was afraid  I would be ousted from the “in” crowd, since I had worked really hard at being liked myself.

I built up the courage and, just before she burst in to tears, I said, “Leave her alone!” I put my arm around her and took her away from them.  Surprisingly, they left her alone after this.  We actually became great friends and that friendship still continues today. She often talks about how I was her only friend and thanks me for loving her in all of her “weirdness.”

At the time I honestly didn’t know that I was making a difference – I just couldn’t see her being mistreated.  I loved and accepted her for who she was. I was always taught to treat others with kindness and to help those in need.  I am so grateful for the godly examples I had in my family, that taught selflessness and love for others.

Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV remind us: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” 

King Lemuel’s mother spoke wise words to teach a King how to look out for his people and to protect those who could not protect themselves. She recognized how important it was for him to learn he should be in control, being careful of the company he kept and keeping his strength for the things that really mattered.

These words are not just for the King, but also for the reader. If we don’t take responsibility for speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, then who will? We should work towards being a strength to our family, our friends, and to those who are in need. Our God is very concerned for the needs of those who don’t have as much as we do. Often times in the Bible, God uses those who have much to give to those who have little.

As Christians, we aren’t removed from this obligation. Jesus was concerned for the orphan and the widow.  They represented parts of society that were easy to forget.  In a sense, they were a burden to everyone else.  Jesus is showing us to be His hands and feet and bless people with His love and provision.

This is why we “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”   We defend the defenseless not because it’s easy, simple, friendly, fun, or popular.  Instead, we do it because we have been brought from darkness into light by the unrestrained grace of God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Who are the ones that need the most help today?  Here are few: the elderly, the intellectually disabled, the foster child, the bullied, the addict, persons with mental health issues, the needy and the hungry.  Please remember them, let’s find a way to make a difference and show the love and grace of Christ today.

Be Nice!

Today’s Scripture is from James 4:11-12 ,New International Version (NIV),
 
“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Today’s blog post is by Peter Borsella,
 
As I’ve been summer stretching with the rest of you I’ve been more focused on doing things I normally wouldn’t do, but this verse is calling me to stretch myself and stop doing something I might already be doing.
 
Does James really have to state the obvious about not speaking evil of each other?  Yes, I suppose in the same way “do not murder” is obvious.  God knows my heart and knows I need to hear these instructions anyway, particularly since Jesus told us that if I have hatred in my heart I’m just as much a murderer as the one who acts on it (see Matt 5:21-22).
 
James is addressing us as brothers and sisters, which means he’s speaking to we who are already part of God’s family, connected together through Christ, all living with the same Holy Spirit inside of us.  And yet, like little children we have to be told by our Father not to bad-mouth each other and “be nice.”
 
Even more convicting is the idea that when we speak ill of each other we are not honoring Christ’s message of love and unity, and, we are taking God’s place in judging each other.  Our words have the power to help unite us together or divide us against each other.
 
Sometimes slandering is hiding under gossip about someone.  I do this.
Sometimes backbiting is hiding under complaints about someone.  I do this, way too much.
Sometimes bad-mouthing is hiding under anger when we’ve been wronged by another.  I do this, too.
 
As Christ’s body we are called this day to love each other in unity, not harm each other in judgement. 
Today, I will be nice.

Hypocrisy: Guilty Condemning the Guilty

Today’s Scripture is Matthew 7:1-5 (NCV),

Don’t judge other people, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.

Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, “Let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye”? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite! First take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend’s eye.

Today’s blog post is by Rita Bewry…

To judge” means “to condemn.” An earthly judge is given authority to condemn (pronounce judgement on) after hearing evidence in support of or against an accused.

Judgement under God’s Law is not delegated to anyone. God gave the Law, and He alone is its enforcer, because only He is uniquely qualified to judge righteously. God is without sin; He knows the facts because He is all-seeing and all-knowing; He is impartial, and He cannot be bought. Why then, does anyone on earth presume to be qualified to judge on moral issues.  All humanity has rebelled against God’s laws, and have been declared guilty before God – the guilty condemning the guilty, is hypocrisy.

We are also known to be harsh judges of people for non-moral reasons, such as outward appearance, race, culture and personal choices. This kind of judgement relies on stereotypes and other dehumanizing standards that have nothing to do with the worth of an individual. God must be particularly miffed when people-groups, as well as individuals, rather than celebrating the shared humanity of all His creatures, choose instead to be separate from, indifferent to, and belittling of others. Do we not get that God is not a boring God? That diversity is His idea?  There is work to be done. Breaking down barriers between individuals and groups must be a function of the church that is achieving God’s purposes in the world.

Although we are commanded not to judge; Jesus did not forbid His followers from making objective judgements. We are called to be discerning in order to distinguish between right and wrong and between truth and falsehood. In fact, we are encouraged to correct someone who is in error: hence Gal. 6:1Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again.” Of course, Christ would nudge us to pray for the revelation of our own sin and for forgiveness, before undertaking such a mission.

 

Silver Boxes

Today’s Scripture is Ephesians 4:29-30 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Today’s blog post is by Annje Hutchinson, Administrative Assistant…

I grew up in a household where unwholesome talk was the norm, but somehow I knew if I said any one of those words or phrases I would get my mouth washed out with soap. (That did happen on occasion.) However, I remember more vividly the unkind words spoken to me by my family. The kind of words that cut you to your core. The words you can never forget. The ones that make you feel insignificant, unwanted, and unworthy.

Later, in my teen years, my mom read a book called “Silver Boxes: The Encouragement Gift,” by Florence Littauer. She gave me an empty box wrapped in pretty silver paper with a poem called “Silver Boxes,” by Michael Bright attached to it. The teenager that I was, wasn’t having it. An empty box was no apology for all the hurtful things she had said to me growing up. Years later I realized that was the only way she knew how to apologize. I now wish I still had that silver box. Thanks to Google I can find the poem:

“My words were harsh and hasty

And they came without a thought.

Then I saw the pain and anguish

That my bitter words had brought.

Bitter words that I had spoken

Made me think back through the past;

Of how many times I’d uttered

Biting words whose pain would last.

Then I wondered people

I had hurt by things I’d said;

All the ones I had discouraged

When I didn’t use my head.

Then I thought about my own life.

Of painful words I’ve heard;

And of the times I’d been discouraged

By a sharp and cruel word.

And now clearly I remember

All the things I might have done;

But, by a word I was discouraged

And they never were begun.

Lord, help my words be silver boxes.

Neatly wrapped up with a bow;

That I give to all so freely,

As through each day I gladly go.

Silver boxes fill of treasure,

Precious gifts from God above;

That all the people I encounter

Might have a box of God’s own love.”

Michael Bright

Today I THINK before I speak:

T – is it True?

H – is it Helpful?

I – is it Inspiring?

N – is it Necessary?

K – is it Kind?

Let us all remember Ephesians 4:29-30 and use our words to build others up in God’s amazing grace and love. #welovefirst
 

 

Let’s Stay Together…

Today’s Scripture is Romans 15:5-6, 13…

“Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Today’s blog post is written by Olivia Reynolds, Summer Ministry Intern…

Something I love about the epistles of Paul is that he makes things personal. Usually near the end of each letter, Paul sends his love to fellow Christians, offering them reminders and blessings. It kind of reminds me of a parent sending their child off to school or camp—”Don’t forget your lunch! Remember to be polite! Have lots of fun, we’ll miss you!”

But the stakes for Paul and the early church were much higher than kindergarten or summer camp. New Christians faced persecution from the state and ostracization from their friends and neighbors. So Paul prays that God will give the Christians in Rome the gift of unity—the ability to come together as a whole, to glorify God “with one mind and one mouth.” That might sound unrealistic, and to some extent, it is—life in any community sometimes creates conflict and disagreement. But as these verses remind us, our God is the God of patience, comfort, hope, joy and peace. If we’re striving to cultivate those values in ourselves, we’re working toward the kingdom of Heaven. And it’s important that we do that together!

So let’s take a minute to reflect on our relationships. If you’re finding that there’s resentment or stubbornness in your heart against a fellow believer, use this opportunity to make things right. It’s a tough way to stretch, I know, but resolving those conflicts can be such a relief!

After all, remember that we serve the same amazing God and share the same transformative hope. That’s more important than anything that divides us.