rules for a preacher circa 1888, rule 6

“Tell everyone in your care what you think wrong in his conduct and temper; and that lovingly and plainly, as soon as may be; else it will fester in your heart.  Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.” 

This rule reminds me of a verse in Ephesians that is highly quoted.

“In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. –Ephesians 4:26-27

This beckons back to a time when people had a “peace” to say, you know, “speak now or forever hold your peace.”  Which no one ever says at weddings any more.  But the idea is that if we have something to say then we ought to say it.  Especially when what you have to say comes from a place of love and honest concern for the other person.

Whenever I taught from this verse in Ephesians I always just used the verse in 26, I never tacked on the verse that says, “and do not give the devil a foothold.”  That is to strange, it doesn’t necessarily fit into my line of thinking.  But the other day I was doing some studying on this passage and I realized the significance of this verse.  To give the devil a foothold is to have an open door for evil in your life. Hoarded anger becomes an open door for evil.  Anger that goes un-confessed begins to fester and brew and control more of your life.  This type of anger eventually becomes a dominant force in your life.   Unless this is confessed, it continues to build.

A preacher in 1888 would typically be the moral compass for the town.  People still ask me what I think is right and wrong.  However, the difference between 1888 and 2012 is that pastors have less perceived authority to speak into the lives of society.

What do you think? Have people become too accommodating to share their real thoughts and beliefs with others?    Are you scared to confront your friends if there was an issue in their life?

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relentless

My kids draw me closer to Jesus every day.  They do things that remind me of how much I love and care for them.  Each time I realize my deepening and unconditional love for them, the love of God becomes more real in my life.  The reality that God’s desire is for a relationship with me is almost unfathomable until I realize my own passionate desire to love my children.

Today I was in my office reading when I got a text from my wife that read, “Emma snuck into the bathroom and tore her thumb apart on a razor.”  The injury is not life threatening, or even that bad, but I felt a cringe shudder through my body.  My poor baby, I want to take the cuts away from her, in fact I would have lost a thumb so she wouldn’t have gone through that pain.  I know it is ridiculous and insane and people heal from small wounds, but I love my kids with that kind of furiousness.  I expect that God loves me even more than that.

Brennan Manning writes, “The awesome love of our invisible God has become both visible and audible in Jesus Christ, the Glory of the Son filled with enduring love.”  The disciple who Jesus loved, John, said it like this, “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”   In a moment of history, love became a walking reality.  In His reality, there was a drastic reunification with all of the people walking around with razor cuts on their thumbs and hearts.  My kids show me what God must have felt when he saw us suffering.  He poured out His love so that we could be healed. Because true love mends what is broken.  Perfect love pours light into the soul where only darkness exists.  We try to do things to prove that we are loveable all the time.  However, the consistent and persistent reality is that there is nothing we can do ant more or less to prove that we are worthy of love, that fact has been proven already.

The challenge then is to live boldly and comfortably in the love of the Father. This is a challenge when life experiences have given us a definition of love that says that we need to “do” or “feel” something.  Some life experiences have taught us that love is “doing better” or that love is one sided.  Still others have been physically or sexually abused, love becomes something that other people experience, but not me.   Love is associated with pain and darkness it is a deep void and when someone approaches it they have to go. The reality though is that Jesus is deeply, madly, relentlessly in pursuit of you.   He loves you to the point of death.  One of the things that I think highlights how much Jesus loves us is found in Luke 7:47.  A woman with a sinful reputation anointed Jesus in the presence of the religious elite, they criticized the action but Jesus said, “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much…” It is almost the recognition that Jesus knows that this woman has known worldly love, the kind that uses up rather than gives, but now she is going to experience true love.

I wish everyone could sit back and realize how much they are loved.  How many problems would be solved?  If love covers a multitude of sins, how many people would be reconciled?  How many wounds healed?

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