Gossip is Playing with Fire

Gossip is one of those sins that people don't really take seriously. As long as we are saying factual information and we would say it to someone's face we consider it information sharing, not gossip. Admittedly, I have gossiped over the years without giving it much thought, but that all changed when the tables were turned and I was on the wrong end of gossip.

God is very clear on what He thinks of gossip by the sins He compares it to:
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents (Rom. 1:29). Gossips and haters of God are found in the same sentence which shows God's classification for that particular sin. We also know that gossip can have profound effects from reading the book of Proverbs.

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.(Pr…

Grace or Apathy

This summer has been full of the usual business but two situations have caused me to wonder at the state of my heart. The first situation involves someone killing their baby and the other sexual assault of a vulnerable child. In both cases the criminal has claimed the forgiveness of God and expressed repentance and desire continued fellowship in the church.

Part of me wants nothing to do with them, but the other part wants to know if I should be extending them forgiveness of some kind. Biblically speaking they both deserve death for their actions (Gen. 9:6, Deut. 22:25-27), but they both will get off with far less than that. Since killing a baby is not considered a crime that person will receive no punishment from the state, and since a statement of repentance is all that is needed to convince Christians of remorse there will be no further consequences from the church or their friends. The person involved in the assault has been punished by the state and similar to other one who state…

NO - It is not okay to be angry with God

Over the last decade or so I have heard it said many times that it is okay to be angry with God. Anger is a "strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility." The problem is that God never does anything to deserve your anger, which means that whenever you are angry with God you are sinning. Although, many people use the Psalms to defend their position, it does not support their perspective. Let's look at one.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide you face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Ps. 13:1-2) These verses are not displaying displeasure or hostility or anger in any common meaning of the word, rather they are a cry for understanding and longing for God. This only is confirmed in the verses that follow:
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have preva…

God Speaks

There is a song that plays on our local family radio station that drives me crazy. Originally our family radio station was branded as a Christian radio station, but over the years and presumably for marketing reasons they changed their branding to be family radio. The content of this radio station is Christian in the broadest sense, including Catholic, Charismatic, and Evangelical content, but lacks so much discernment that it is not really Christian in the real sense. The song is written by Todd Agnew and is called "Written on the Wall." The chorus goes like this:
And I wish You still spoke through burning bushes
And I wish You still wrote on blocks of stone
'Cause the sound of this world's deafening
And I'm having a hard time listening
And I wish Your will was still written on the wall  Essentially, this is a call to return back to the Old Testament, which is step backwards, not a step forwards.
Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with su…

Hope for the Future

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). This is one of the most popular verses shared when people are going through trouble, but the context is often forgotten. The original recipients of this verse were the initial wave of exiles (people who had been taken into captivity) who were residing in Babylon. They were hoping for deliverance from their current situation immediately, but God had other plans.
For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are complete for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. (Jer. 29:10) Many of the people who first heard this verse would have died before it came to pass. God's plans are not individual but collective, and they are not necessarily fulfilled in our life time. We need faith to help us comprehend that whatever we are going through is for the best even if we don't understand it.
But seek…

Forgiveness without Repetance

The other night I gave a talk which touched on the topic of forgiveness. During the group discussion afterward the enduring question was brought up, do you forgive if the person does not repent? The answer to this question is a straightforward no, but the situations are not. How can you forgive if someone is not sorry? On the other hand, who is on what side of that equation?

The problem is that not all situations are black and white. In cases of rape, murder, and abuse it is clear that there is a victim and a criminal, but in cases of slander, gossip, and greed the line isn't so clearly etched. Naturally, the parties involved don't see it that way, but that should be expected. Although God is infallible, Christians are not.

Jesus, completely innocent and justified, on the cross said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." This example of forgiveness is what should guide our hearts when dealing with our fellow man. Jesus did not wait for man to come t…

Church Discipline - Part 3

Previously, I wrote about the importance of the disposition of the heart in church discipline. In this series of articles I want to expand on that a bit further with regards to the major biblical teaching on church discipline.

In Part 1 of this series we discovered that church discipline has a process that aims at restoration. The accused is given multiple opportunities to repent and to have their case heard to ensure that justice is done. Likewise, the accuser's claims are verified by multiple people to avoid false accusations and they are exhorted to have a heart of forgiveness like God's heart towards them. Those responsible for the discipline must also act in accordance with the will of God in order for it to be binding.

In Part 2 of this series we saw a practical example that illustrated that Christian's should shun someone who claims the name of Jesus yet their life is characterized by their sin and they refuse to repent, in order that this person might be restored a…