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.

 

Loose Lips…

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 20:19…

“A gossip can never keep a secret.  Stay away from people who talk too much.” 

Today’s blog post is by Michelle Musselman…

When I first read the verse for this blog, I thought, “Well, that’s obvious.” Actually there are many verses in the bible regarding gossip (and the tongue). Google it.  Plain and simple – it’s a sin, don’t do it.

A gossip is defined as a person who often talks about the private details of other people’s lives.  No one wants to be called a gossip, but if we are honest, we probably all gossip somewhere along the way. Gossip can be the intentional, devious, destructive passing of personal information, true or not, to others.  It can also be the flippant comment or the unintentional casual conversation and before you know it, someone’s life struggle, marriage, finances, choices, children are being critiqued and analyzed.  Anybody ever say this…“I just wanted you to know so that you could pray for them”?  Once our words come out of our mouths, we can’t get them back.  We have no control as to how they will be repeated or to whom.  Psalm 14:13 (ESV) says, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”  

This verse is also warning us not to share personal, private, confidential things with people who have a tendency to share too much information.  (Reminds me of the saying “loose lips, sink ships”)  Once again, that seems pretty obvious.  Well, being around people who talk too much makes it very easy to “learn” information about others…juicy tidbits, the latest news.  Listening may seem innocent, but information whether accurate or not has the ability to change us.  Information about others can change the way we see them, change the way we think about them, change the way we treat them, change what we say about them – giving us the potential of becoming the gossip.  Matthew 12:36 says “You can be sure that on Judgement Day you will have to give account for every useless word you have ever spoken.”  Yikes!

Guard Your Heart and Mouth

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 4:23-24

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” 

Today’s blog post is by Pastor Vance…

At first glance, these two verses appear to be unrelated.  The first is about guarding the heart.  The second is about what comes out of your mouth.  Heart?  Mouth?  What’s the connection?

The key words are, “for everything you do flows from it.”  In essence, if you don’t guard your heart, nasty things may flow from your mouth.  Or, the nasty things that come out of your mouth come from an un-guarded heart.

Jesus echoes this in Matthew 15:16-19,

Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Let me make this very plain.  When we eat something, it enters the mouth, then it passes through the body, and later exits elsewhere in a less desirable, stinky, revolting form.  But, according to Jesus, what comes out of the mouth can be equally revolting – lies, gossip, grumbling, insults, slander, etc.

Where do such nasty words originate?  According to Jesus and Proverbs 4:23-24, the words we speak originate in our hearts.

Elsewhere, the book of James says that the tongue is the most difficult of all human organs to maintain control of.

Think of it this way.  If it is in your heart, it will come out in words.  Thus, the words you speak are an accurate indicator of the condition of your heart.

If your heart is hurt, your words will be hurtful.  If your heart is full of envy and jealousy, your words will be resentful.  If your heart is full of judgement, your words will be condemning.  If your heart is prideful, your words will belittle.  If your heart is full of lust, your words will be perverse.

Here’s a suggestion – pay close attention to what you say today.  How frequently do you use obscenities?  How often do you gossip? How often are you critical?  How much do you grumble?  How many of your words are unkind?  How often are your demeaning to others?  How many opportunities do you miss to say something kind, encouraging, or affirming?

Where does that crap come from?  Your heart.  Why is it there?  Maybe it’s time to put a lot more of Jesus in your heart, and a lot less of the other stuff.  You’ll be amazed by the difference.