Receiving the Benefits of Scripture

Reading Scripture without reflection and meditation is like licking a baked potato and expecting to benefit from its nutrients. Instead, one is receiving a mere taste and a slight one at that. One must chew and digest the baked potato to benefit fully from its nutrients. Likewise, one must reflect and meditate upon Scripture if one wishes to receive its full benefits.

 

God’s Plan to Manage Anger

Anger is a valid emotion but one that has a boundary and whose line can too easily be crossed.  We are instructed in Ephesians 4.26-27, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no foothold to the devil.”  This verse is instructional and insightful.  God clearly teaches us that anger in itself is not sin, that it can be carried to the point of sin, and that it can give the devil a foothold.  That literally means, “Giving the devil occupancy—a place to dwell.”

For some people, their anger not only crosses the line of inappropriateness resulting in sin, but they practically invite the devil to sit down at their table and sign a long-term lease to live with them.

Anger unrestrained will lead to all kinds of outbursts that will most likely cause regret.  People that sin in their anger seldom stay on the issue over which they are angry.  They often draw past offenses and hurts to the scene.  This causes anger to swell, which can become the early stage of rage that always leads to irrational thinking.  Unbridled anger or rage leads to irrational thoughts that then lead to thoughts of every kind of evil.

As words begin to erupt from this anger, they begin to flow like lava, and the devil now has a foothold.  The words will be destructive and do damage to anyone in its path.  In many cases, those words do long-term damage that is difficult for people to recover from – and some never do.

God’s wisdom tells us the danger in letting our anger ever cross the boundaries of inappropriateness.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103.8).

God is not expecting people to meet God’s perfection.  Christ was the only one who could.  God is driven by love to help people make progress with great patience.  God sees the best in us, not the worst.  God dwells on what we can become and not simply what we are currently.  God dwells on building us up and not tearing us down.

If anger is a problem for you, here are some steps of wisdom that can help break that in you.

Step 1: When angry, stick with the issue with which you are dealing.  Keep grievances from the past out!  Ask yourself how big of an issue this is in the scope of the big picture of life.

Step 2: Think solution, not problem.  Just keep patiently working with the other person.  Can you be merciful and help instruct them—in a calm way—how to make changes?  Would you rather be known for being merciful, kind, and helpful or angry, tough, and ruthless?  Which do you think is more representive of God?

Step 3: To keep anger from turning to rage, limit yourself to how much you think about or mull it over.  Speak few words about it as words cause anger to grow.

Step 4: Pray to ask God to help you forgive; seek forgiveness for your own personal faults at the time of your anger toward someone else.  Finally, pray for that person from a spirit of love and faith with the sincere desire to help them.

Break this into a plan for yourself, and the next time you feel angry you will have a plan to reduce rage to anger and anger to appropriate anger.

Dear Preacher Abernathy

Yes, you already have informed me that you have had to expand the size of your sanctuary three times over the past decade due to the increase in your attendance.  I am sure that you do have the latest sound system and clearest projection system offered.  True, you could continue to increase the attendance of your church until there is no more room once again.  You could provide everything that people want, love, and value.  Yet, if you are not being guided by the Holy Spirit, you might as well have nothing at all.

You express great joy for your building, great pleasure in everything your congregation offers, and great pride in the number of people sitting in your pews.  Unfortunately, you have a fatal misunderstanding in “church growth.”  Church growth has less to do with the number of warm bodies in your large sanctuary and more to do with the spiritual sustainability of the community of faith.

Though the Apostle Paul desired to boast of nothing but Christ, you boast of nothing but yourself.  As you clearly stated, you started the congregation.  You speak to everyone.  You lead the building projects.  You even lead the singing on Sunday mornings.  You choose the programs offered by your congregation.  Sadly, I must point out that you are the “church.”  You are the only leader, and nothing is done without your say.  The basic definition of a church is what’s left after the building has burned down and the pastor has been moved.  You do not have members sitting in the pews; you have an audience waiting to be entertained by you.

True church growth cannot be measured by numbers.  How would you measure an individual’s spiritual growth?  How do you measure the distance a person has walked with their Lord?

If you continue to remain the center of your “church” and not Christ, then your ministry will fail.  As the Angel of the Lord spoke to Zechariah, it is “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” [Zechariah 4.6].  Therefore, not by eloquent preaching, not by wonderful music, not by great programs, but it is by the Spirit that God completes His mighty work.  You are simply tickling people’s ears and not allowing your congregation the opportunity to open their hearts to all that God can do in their lives.

Ecclesiastic Ego

The familiar proverb “pride comes before the fall” is sadly realized in our world time and time again.  Within our culture, there is a gross exaggeration of human accomplishments, accompanied by a continual need for recognition of such feats.  Repetitive praise about a job well-done help to elevate the human ego and this does not always result in a balanced life of humility.

This behavior is seen in the business world, the sports arena, the entertainment world … and unfortunately, it has even infiltrated into the church leadership community.  Many leaders who have risen to lead large churches have fallen into the “God complex:” an arrogance of who they are and who they have become, allowing them to see themselves as infallible and their self-worth as above those they lead.  God gave them the role [of leading] the church, and adoration from their followers becomes an addiction.  It can be challenging for those kinds of leaders, and for ourselves, to take the advice or wise counsel from those that can keep us accountable and on the road of humility.

When a leader operates from humility, the Lord gives authority to lead and from that authority comes power.  Part of strong leadership is submitting our weakness; nothing is achievable without the Lord and our confidence comes from the covenant we have [with] Him.  When leaders start to elevate their own self-worth by thinking that church growth or increased offerings are the [results] of personal accomplishments, brokenness could soon follow.

Humility shows up and grows up in serving.  It is rooted in our identity with Christ, not our position within the church.  Put simply, humility is about seeing yourself the way God sees you as a leader and serving others the way God sees them and serves them.  We are nothing without Christ; and unless a leader recognizes Christ’s lordship in their life, it can be easy for him or her to start believing that their leadership position is a result of their own abilities.

Runaway pride has destroyed many a leader, a church, and a family and the road back is painful, hard, and does not always end with a positive outcome.  If a mistake happens, the leader with a prideful attitude may blame everyone but themselves for their conduct.  The saddest part of a fallen leader is not only the personal effect but also the impact on their team and the church.  Damage may be forgiven, but for some, it is difficult to forget.

The greatest example of humility was the life our Lord lived on earth.  He never used a title, or position, or possessions to have power over the people.  We have no earthly entitlement to the position of leadership.  It is a gift, to use wisely from a heart of humility.

Matthew 11.29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”

 

This week’s article is written by Charles Stone (www.charlesstone.com), author of the book, People Pleasing Pastors.  Submitted by Russ Olmon, President of Ministry Advantage, and Deb Mertin, certified Ministry Advantage coach.  For more on this and other helpful subjects, go to www.ministryadvantage.org.

From BibleGateway.com

Upon Further Examination [Poll]

For this post, I would like to ask you to express your views.  I desire to delve deep into a book of the Bible.  Personally, I would like to study a number of books from the Bible; however, I do not know which one to choose first.  Therefore, I am asking for your help.  With God’s guidance, I selected four books from which you may choose or offer a suggestion.  If you have troubles with this poll, you can tweet me, contact me, or comment below.  Thank you very much.  Grace and Peace.

Where is The Body of Christ?

Very often, I am saddened with the human element of the Body of Christ.  Personal interests find more importance than uniting the community of faith.  People view themselves as God’s called critics: “I didn’t get anything out of worship today.”  The mindset of individualism has transferred emphasis from “the community of faith” toward “personal faith.”  Our personal faith experiences should be viewed as part of the “community of faith,” an aspect of “communal” faith.  As Paul speaks of the Body of Christ, he focuses upon the “eye” viewing itself as unimportant since it is not an “ear,” nor the “hand” a “foot.”  Yet, today, the “body” seems dismembered as the “eye” seeks only what is “seen” and the “ear” what is “heard.”  There is no connection with one another through the “mind” of Christ.

In the Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13.24-30), bad seed (weeds) is planted among good seed (wheat).  Does it seem the “weeds” have overtaken the “wheat” in the Kingdom of God?

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Relationship Conundrum

Dear Duck_n_Pulpit,

I have wondered if I am to love God with all my heart, mind, and soul while loving others as Christ loves us, then how can I love one person solely?  If I give myself fully to God, is there anything left of me to give to another?  Yet, there is a void within me which I have prayed to God for so long to fill.  I have found nothing to fill that “hole,” to silence the echoing loneliness.  God created us, male & female, in God’s own image, so that the two may become one.  Perhaps that is why I feel “incomplete”—I have not yet experienced that “one”-ness.

If I have a cup of love & give it to God, God then rains down love which makes my cup overflow, so that I must share love with others or else I will “drown” in God’s love.  But as I share this love with others, am I to single one person out over the rest to give exponentially more love?

Is remaining single or pursuing marriage God’s will for me?

Andrew

What are your thoughts?  Is Andrew’s reasoning or examination flawed? Is he overlooking something?  What advice would you give Andrew?