Thursday, January 26, 2023

Managing Anger

“Be angry and sin not…” Psalm 4:4
This text, of course, implies that you can be angry and yet not sin. We know that to be true because Jesus got angry from time to time and yet as our perfect example did not sin.
So how do we sin when we’re angry? Obviously by some physical manifestation of our anger that can range from screaming, bad language, casting insults, etc. But it can also be as subtle as angry body language. Maybe not ever expressing an angry word but throwing something or slamming a door or beating yourself on the head.
There is something else that happens when we are angry that may not technically be a sin but is at least unhealthy.
Today I got angry and I doubt that those around me even knew it but I was angry and seething internally. I was scheduled to go the gym and I pulled up and parked in the gym parking lot but didn’t really want to go in. I just wanted to go home and be angry and vent to my wife.
But I told myself… let’s close our eyes and take 10 deep breaths and only think about breathing. Afterwards I went into the gym and had a nice workout and was happy as a lark and decided to write this article.
You know in the Veterinary world when we have a behavior problem with a dog sometimes distraction is the key. For instance if Fido is constantly licking his feet and you can’t get him to stop just take him outside and throw the ball to him and play fetch until he is so exhausted he just wants to come in and take a nap. Voila!
You can also distract yourself with breathing, exercise, prayer, Bible study, or chasing a ball (lol)
You can be angry and just like Jesus… not sin and even not waste time being angry. It takes some self control and maybe a little distraction.
Serve God and remember Heaven.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Detestable Sin

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you” (Leviticus 18)
This passage follows a long list of sexual sins that were prohibited by God including… sex with an animal, sex with someone of the same gender, sex with a relative, etc.
These sins are called detestable and so detestable that the land where they lived vomited them out. Of course we know that the vomiting was God empowering the Israelites to kill and run them out of the land. Note that not all sin is called “detestable”
Israel is warned that if they duplicate the sexual sins then the land would also vomit them out too.
It kind of makes you wonder about the good old USA, could the practice of detestable sexual sin in the USA cause the land to “vomit us out”?
Although I don’t know for sure I’m guessing yes. Knowing that we shouldn’t stay silent about “detestable sexual sin”

Learned Reverence (Part 2)

“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17)
In my previous article on “Learned Reverence” we learned that one learns reverence by continual sacrifice. In this text we find that we also learn reverence by continual reading of the Lord’s Word (the Bible).
In other words we can’t just read the Bible one time and smugly think to ourselves… I’ve got the basics of what God wants me to do I don’t really need to waste any more time with reading.
Note in the above text that there are some reasons why we continually read. The first of which is so that we can follow carefully and exactly in what is written and in that carefulness turn not to the “left or right” but follow exactly in the footsteps of Jesus (so to speak). That type of behavior by the way demonstrates a reverence for God.
Believe me humans tend to be forgetful and might hang their faith on a favorite verse or two and neglect the others and develop a spiritual arrogance of spiritual superiority.
For example, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told (in the air of superiority) that you don’t have to go to church to be saved or that all my dead relatives are in Heaven or that I’ve been saved by grace and I don’t need anything else, etc.
In my personal experience the ones who say such things don’t know their Bibles very well and would do well to heed the instructions given in Deuteronomy 17 and that is exactly why I read my Bible every single day so that I might also not forget and continue to learn to… revere God.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Learned Reverence

“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always” (Deuteronomy 14)
The Jews were to take 10% of their crops and flocks and eat those things in a feast before God in a place of his choosing. In doing so they would learn to “revere God always”
So it seems it may not be natural or accidental to give God the reverence he deserves… rather reverence is a learned behavior and it is learned by sacrifice... regular sacrifice.
Let me suggest that the first thing we should learn to sacrifice to God is our time. It takes time to assemble with other Christians to worship and It takes time to kneel and pray. It takes time to study God’s word and it takes time to meditate on His teachings. It also takes time to “love our neighbors as ourselves”
So I wonder how much time we should sacrifice to God… 10% like in tithing? If so… what a deal… we have 90% of our time to please ourselves.
Let me suggest something else for your consideration. Do you suppose it could be true that the more you sacrifice the more you come to reverence God? If so then giving up only 10% of whatever would not lead to very deep reverence would it?
Here’s the thing… when God gave up his son for us he purchased and owns us.. lock, stock and barrel and when we believed in him and were baptized into the blood of his son we recognized and accepted that fact.
Learn to revere God by matching His 100% sacrifice (Jesus Christ) with your own total sacrifice. After all the only ones who will live with God in eternity are those who have forsaken all to revere Him.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Choose Love and God Will Choose You

I might have a great singing voice and be able to sing all the different parts of a song and might be the best song leader at church but if I don’t have love… I might as well be a coyote howling at the moon.
I might know my Bible backwards and forwards and be on the right side of all the major and minor doctrinal issues and might could preach like Peter on the Day of Pentecost but if I don’t have love… I might as well be whistling in the wind.
I might attend every service the church offers and sit on the front row and be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave but if I don’t have love… I might as well be a dog chasing his tail always coming close but never quite able to catch it.
I might be generous to a fault and give a dollar or two to every beggar standing on a street corner but if I don’t have love… I might as well be a hog dressed in a white dress wearing a pearl necklace around my neck.
Love loves the unlovable. Love can absorb insults and mistreatment and ugliness and take those things and turn them into a smile and well wishes.
Choose love and God will choose you.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Facinating Book

A friend came through town the other day and gave me a book he thought I might be interested in. Receiving a book as a gift is kind of a funny thing because there is some obligation to read it to be prepared for the inevitable question… well how did you like it?
It’s kind of like someone giving you a dog for your birthday which is more like a 13-14 year obligation.
Anyway I liked the book. In fact I’m fascinated by it… fascinated enough to want to share some of it with you.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus told his disciples that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea, in Samaria and in the uttermost parts of the earth. The author of the book points out it was Peter who had the “keys” to the kingdom who opened the doors to the Kingdom by providing the Spirit to the Jews in Acts 2… to the Samaritans in Acts 8 and to the Gentiles in Acts 10.
That’s just a snippet of what’s in this book and I can’t claim that I’m in 100% agreement with the author but I do love people who love and understand the scriptures and can broaden my understanding of them.
What a nice surprise this book was. Don’t even think about giving me a dog.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Keeping Up with Old Friends

Over the course of my life I have figured out some things about myself. One of those is if friends move away no matter how beloved they might be to me I just sort of lose track of them especially if they aren’t on some kind of social media.
A few years back a really good friend of mine from church was moving to another state and he asked if we would come see them. I said… probably not.
You see in my life I’m all about accomplishing things and a good day is one where I get a lot done and that’s where my time and mind is focused.
So here’s what I have come up with. Within the past year I started writing down on a piece of paper (that I keep at my office) the names of people that I need to call from time to time. On that list of paper are the names of 3-4 preachers that I have been associated with over the years. There’s the name of a retired drug rep. who I have known for over thirty years. There’s the names of a few people that I went to college with. There’s the name of a Veterinarian that I used to work for years ago.
The other day I called an old preacher friend and we got to talking about another preacher that we both knew who I hadn’t talked to in years (because he’s not on my list) so I told my friend I was going to hang up and call the other preacher like right now and I did. I talked to the other preacher and his wife (who are both in their mid 80’s) and had a really nice visit. I think it meant a lot to them that I had called.
I called another friend who I hadn’t talked to in a few years and found out that he had been battling cancer.
Any way I guess I realized that I had sort of a handicap when it came to keeping up with old friends but fortunately I figured out a crutch to help me out with my handicap.
Don’t wait to hear about your old friends when you read their obituaries call them now it will be good for you and them.