Saturday, August 28, 2010


Reading about the painful divorce between Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, there was an interesting quote about forgiveness being part of the grieving process that takes time.

The truth for many people is that forgiveness is something that never happens... the pain and anger of personal betrayal never attenuates and often grows beyond what anyone might have imagined. The reality, however, is that forgiveness is necessary. Not just for the other people involved... but for yourself.

Reading that article reminded me of another situation... a rift between a pastor and the leadership of his church that ripped the congregation nearly in half. 

One leader made the comment regarding the now ex-pastor, “I will never forgive him for what he did!”  Never is a long, long time... and the refusal to forgive is a dangerous, dangerous thing.

Not surprisingly, this is a common emotion.  And, as time has proven over and over again, is a potentially deadly emotion.

How Many Times?

Simon Peter asked Jesus a question regarding forgiveness. Specifically, how many times should his brother get away with a sin? Peter asked if seven strikes would tbe the magic number. Jesus upped the number to 490 strikes! Then, He added a bit of expository to make the necessity of forgiveness even more profound:

21Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?
22Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!
23Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a human king who wished to settle accounts with his attendants.
24When he began the accounting, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents [probably about $10,000,000],
25And because he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and his children and everything that he possessed, and payment to be made.
26So the attendant fell on his knees, begging him, Have patience with me and I will pay you everything.
27And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him [cancelling] the debt.
28But that same attendant, as he went out, found one of his fellow attendants who owed him a hundred denarii [about twenty dollars]; and he caught him by the throat and said, Pay what you owe!
29So his fellow attendant fell down and begged him earnestly, Give me time, and I will pay you all !
30But he was unwilling, and he went out and had him put in prison till he should pay the debt.
31When his fellow attendants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and told everything that had taken place to their master.
32Then his master called him and said to him, You contemptible and wicked attendant! I forgave and cancelled all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me to.
33And should you not have had pity and mercy on your fellow attendant, as I had pity and mercy on you?
34And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed.
35So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.
Matthew 18:21-35 [AMP]

Jesus told the parable about two men who owed a debt that could not be paid.  One owed an amount that would probably be ten-million dollars in our current economy.  The reckoning might have been devastating, except that he obtained mercy.

Later, when his co-worker failed pay the twenty bucks owed to him, the man failed to show the same mercy that he had received.  The end result of that guy was dismal... he was sent to Gitmo to be water-boarded until somebody came up with the $10,000,000 to bail him out.


Jesus makes it clear that if we do not forgive others, we will be in BIG TROUBLE.  So then, how many times are we expected to forgive?

Seventy Times Seven!

Mark Gershmehl wrote a wonderful song about forgiveness... stemming from a painful experience in his own life. This song spells out what Peter was asking... and delineates the response eloquently. If you would like to listen to this song, use the player below:

During the close of the song, take note of how Rick Florian provocatively emotes some of the difficulties of forgiving someone those 490 times:

  • Lord, You know just how hard I have tried…
  • Gotta see that I’m hurting inside…
  • Don’t you know that my pride is at stake…
  • So tell me how much one should take…

If we were to be honest... we would agree that those things add up to a prideful attitude. I have tried. I’m hurting inside. My pride is at stake. Get it?

It all adds up to a bad attitude. Once you lose that ‘tood, you can move closer to the state of forgiveness.

Lose Da Tood

Now comes the $64 question. How exactly does one manage to forgive someone who dealt something so painful to us? Joyce Meyer was kind enough to help us out with the following scriptures (thanks Joyce):

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].
Romans 8:6 [AMP]

Or, as Lon Solomon put it… it is impossible for us to live the way that Jesus did... to forgive the way that He forgave, etc. We can only do so by allowing Christ to live in (and through ) us by His Holy Spirit. Of course, it is up to us to yield to the Spirit... since He has the right of way.

The natural mind finds it very difficult (if not impossible) to forgive. Those who have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16) find it an accessible reality.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
Romans 12:2 [AMP]

This does not happen to us instantaneously. Would be nice, granted. Still, it is a process that will continue in us until the day that we die. But ain’t it grand when we see those incremental bits of improvement in our lives. Maybe you used to stay mad for weeks, but now you only stay angry for a few days. Keep with it until those days shrink to hours... and hours to minutes... and minutes to seconds. When you reach the nanosecond and picosecond increments, let us know!  ☺

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)
2nd Corinthians 10:4-5 [AMP]

In our albums Non-Carnal Warfare and The Art of Fighting Without Fighting, we go indepth on this subject. We don’t fight the temptation to hold on to anger and unforgiveness through natural means. It is a spiritual condition that is battled via spiritual warfare. The weapons we use to win the battle are delineated in the following scriptures:

10In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].
11Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
13Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].
14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,
15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.
16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.
18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).
Ephesians 6:10-18 [AMP]

But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts).
Romans 13:14 [AMP]

The term “evil cravings of your physical nature” can also refer to the desire for revenge… the desire to have a pity party… the desire to wallow in your emotions. But putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (the Anointed One and His Anointing) gives us the ability to slough off unforgiveness, extinguish the pain of betrayal and annihilate the hurt and anger once and for all. Well, if it tries to do a Freddy Krueger and rise again to come after you, you can use that same spiritual armor to put it down as many times as is necessary. That is part of yielding to the Spirit (Who has the right of way).

Ultimately, what neutralizes the unforgiveness is the power of love. You are putting on the Son of God... and God is love (see 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16).

The Love Solution

Again, giving credit where credit is due… we must thank Joyce Meyer for help in assembling the following:

And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:27 [AMP]

If you have ever seen the movie Ghost of Girlfriends Past, it is amusing to see one guy’s wedding destroyed because his bride-to-be refuses to forgive him for an infraction in his past. His bride flees the altar because she doesn’t want to forgive him.

What if she had messed up and wanted forgiveness? Well, in Hollywood logic, she would have excused herself and continued to hate on her man. But in God’s logic, we need to give to others what we would want to receive for ourselves. So, since we want to receive forgiveness, we must minister forgiveness to others.

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].
John 13:34-35 [AMP]

To forgive is an act of love. Love is the new commandment. It not only reflects what Jesus did for us… but it is the only sure-fire method of showing people that Jesus is real. And sadly, there are too many atheists who are being fed by the failure of Christians to live up to that love commmandment.

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court. But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire. So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift.
Matthew 5:21-24 [AMP]

Whoa! Now we are getting deep! The fruit of unforgiveness leads down a rocky path that can end in the fiery pits of hell. For those of you who want to keep your eternal fire insurance policy intact... keep this in mind!

And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].
Luke 9:23 [AMP]

Jesus’ example is the one that we need to follow. And what did Jesus do? What did Jesus say?

And Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Luke 23:34a [AMP]

So then, how do we become children who grow up into the paradigm of Love set by our Father in heaven and our Lord Jesus? We need to make a few trips to the gym!

The Forgiveness Workout

♫ ♪  She ain’t heavy... she’s my lover!  ♪ ♫

Let us close with a bit more emphasis on the fact that forgiveness is something that takes constant effort... like the repetitions of a weight lifter... or the laps ran around the track... or the time spent on a cardio program...

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]
Ephesians 4:23 [AMP]

The word constantly is key.

This is not a one-time-good-deal. This is something one has to commit to for life. A hard beach body takes continual visits to the gym. Ha hard love spirit takes continual prayer, continual Bible study, continual fellowship with God.

And, like physical workouts, they have to be done correctly.

KEEP YOUR foot [give your mind to what you are doing] when you go [as Jacob to sacred Bethel] to the house of God. For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools [carelessly, irreverently] too ignorant to know that they are doing evil.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 [AMP]

Don’t worry.  Our tests are open-book tests.  And the book that we open is the BIBLE... Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  And the number one instruction that Jesus gave us was to love.

It is kinda hard to be angry and love someone at the same time.  Love, as Larry Graham sang, covers a multitude of sin.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just Wait ‘Till I Tell Them What You Did...

Tattle Tales

The predisposition to Tell or Tattle Tale on other people seems an indigenous part of human nature.

Nobody goes to school to learn how to tell tales on others. It comes naturally... and at a young age!

How often do you hear this coming from a group of young children:  “Oooh!  I’m TELLING!”

Comedians like Eddie Murphy have made millions mimicking that very behavior that seems to form the foundation of our human psyche.

And yet, this type of behavior goes contrary to the perfect will of God.

Or, to put it bluntly, it is sin.

Or, to just get plain real with it... GOD HATES THIS (see Proverbs 6:16-19) !

One of the reasons that God hates type of behavior is that it can kill you.

A man's [moral] self shall be filled with the fruit of his mouth; and with the consequence of his words he must be satisfied [whether good or evil]. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].
Proverbs 18:20-21 [AMP]

Years ago, when somebody pulled a gun on me after I had mouthed off... I realized that I needed to listen more, speak less, and pray always.

Not very long ago , I was working with a group of people, a couple of who considered themselves very devout Christians.

One of these individuals had a number of outward expressions of his religious faith.  His style of clothing... his grooming... all he believed to be taken from the Bible and presumably would make him closer to God.  Apparently he did not seem to want to get closer to other people... but that is another story.

The other individual expressed very conservative beliefs.  No socializing.  No fraternizing.  Just keep your nose down and do your job. 

Both of these individuals worked with a group of drunken, cursing, blaspheming, fornicating heathens... yet their judgmental wrath seemed reserved for yours truly.  Granted, I believe that the true motivation for their attacks was a classic case of cronyism with a religious frosting (yum, religious frosting!). 

The reality, however, is that I have seen more such attacks from people who profess a strong Christian background than from those who say they worship the devil or some other religion. One Christian brother spent so much time trying to find something about my work to criticize that he was four days behind in his own work.  And the person who strove to shield me from his attacks happened to be perhaps the biggest heathen in the organization.  Weird.

In another situation, a manager who allowed employees to decorate their workspaces with profane, vile and pornographic materials wanted to fire me for having my Bible on my desk.  And he, I was told, was a stalwart member of his congregation.


Some of you can begin to understand why the Lord directed me to write the book, Please Don’t Feed the Atheists. Not that I am so concerned about Christians picking on me.  But what does concern me is the atheists’ reaction to behavior that goes in the extreme opposite direction of Jesus’s greatest commandment:

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].
John 13:34-35 [AMP]

Getting back to the topic of doing things that God is pleased with and not doing things that God hates; the scriptures  make it clear that there are behaviors that please the Lord.  For example:

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
Hebrews 11:6 [AMP]

So, faith (which, according to Galatians 5:6 [AMP], is activated and energized and expressed and works by way of love) is something that pleases God.  So then, if there are things that please God, then conversely, there are things that God hates.  Specifically:

These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren.
Proverbs 6:16-19 [AMP]

Proverbs 6:16-19 delineates seven things that God hates. You can listen to a full study of these things by downloading our free album, The Things That God Hates. But our specific focus is on the parts highlighted in red above:
  • A proud look
  • A lying tongue
  • A false witness who breathes lies
  • He who sows discord among his brothers in Christ
Let’s be honest... cutting others down is an act of pride.  

If you are threatened by how good Sally Ann looks in her new dress, you might say words to tear her down in the eyes of the other ladies in your fellowship.

The proud look overestimates our own value while underestimating the value of others.

It is what causes people to say, “How can you call yourself a Christian... the way that you (fill in the blank).”

The concept of a Christian being a forgiven sinner who is living on a constant supply of God’s mercy is often rejected (except, naturally, during those times when we need to apply that concept to our personal lives
The lying tongue and false witness who breathes lies come from the same Hebrew word, “sheqer” which is:

an untruth; by implication a sham.  It is deceitful, false, and a vain thing that has no justification or cause. 
Sowing discord, strife, or contentions between people is what drama is all about.  Not just real-life drama, but also fictional drama.  A movie or television program that does not have conflict will not have viewers.

Think about it.  You don’t watch a procedural to see police officers sitting around the station house eating doughnuts and drinking coffee, do you?  No... you watch to see a bad guy do some heinous thing and then have the detectives find that guy, beat him (or her) down, and then incarcerate them.

Hey... you think that is what God will do to those who cause this level of drama in the lives of their Christian brothers and sisters?  Stand them before His judgement seat and... hmm...

Thoraf Gilbrant and his team wrote the following about this sort of person:
This sort of person not only damages human relationships, but thereby reveals his hatred of God and His covenant, especially of the basic covenantal obligation to love one’s neighbor (Leviticus 19:18, 33f) that underlies more than half of the basic commandments (cf. Deuteronomy 5:16-21). Those who seek to destroy others are therefore not only condemned by those whose lives they attack, but by God himself (v.16), Who hates their way of life (vv. 17ff) and the attitudes that underlie it (v. 14).
After describing the arrogance that leads them to use any means, even violence, Solomon warns that the real problem is not behavior (damaging as that is), but the attitude of the heart. Their hatred grows out of self-centered arrogance that sees others as tools to be used or discarded, and cannot bear to see happiness or love in those whom it despises. A heart that seeks the misery of others will do anything at all to accomplish its ends, as those poems show.
Granted, all seven of those things that God hates (as indicated above) overlap to a degree... considering that they are the fruit of a person who is not walking in love but, rather, hates his brother (and also God).  Still, our primary emphasis this week is on taming our tongues.

Judge Mental

When I recounted those earlier experiences of mine, you might have wondered to yourself, “Now what exactly did Brotha DC do?”

Well, I did avoid the temptation to retaliate.  A little.  But when the pressure persisted... I eventually caved.  :-(

However, I did make the effort to remain  in a position of forgiveness towards those who had hurt me.

And, of course, when I got to the point where I was ready to cuss someone out... we went to 1 John 1:9 and repented, turning around from that path and continuing to walk along the path architected for us by Christ.

But why do people judge others... even to the point of making up lies?  Perhaps it could be if one doesn’t express their faith in the exact same way that they do.

I recall being attacked by a Christian who didn’t believe in handing out tracts... he felt that soul winning should be strictly personal, not printed.  Well, I respected his belief... but it was difficult convincing him I did not want to argue about it. Our time would be better spent winning souls and not arguing.

Another colleague wanted to argue with me that we should use the Hebrew name Yeshua to refer to our Lord and not the English derivation of Jesus.  Again, not something I want to waste time fighting over.  From my perspective, if you call upon Him sincerely, regardless of what language you speak... you shall be saved.
In the situation where I received the proud look... the lying tongue... false witness about my job performance and personal ethics... and the end result was discord that resulted in my losing an awesome job.  Granted, the most awesome job I have is loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, strength and mind.  And NOBODY can get me fired from God’s employ.  God don’t listen to your gossip.  He knows all anyway... not just the conjecture but the intricate details.  Still... I found it rather confusing when those who should have been brothers in Christ came across as my enemies.

Of course, God has his hand in every situation.  And, when opportunities came to throw my misbehaving colleagues under the bus, I followed the instructions of the Holy Spirit to keep my mouth shut (well, maybe I didn’t keep it 100% shut) and to pray for those who persecuted me, in accordance with Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:28.  And, yes, I did repent when my lips failed to stay completely sealed.

But that incident is also a reminder for all of us to keep in mind what our religion is truly about.  Is it about spending a requisite amount of time with our butts touching a church pew?  Is it about dressing a certain way?  Is it about pronouncing your words while dipping your diphthongs?  Is it about fasting a certain number of meals, or reading a certain number of chapters of the Bible or not watching movies or not chewing gum or not dancing or...

What is religion truly about?

If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person's religious service is worthless (futile, barren). External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.
James 1:26-27 [AMP]

True religion is the practice of doing those things that Jesus did: visiting, helping and caring for those who are afflicted and in need.  AND, to stay away from the filth of this world (ref. those things that God hates).  AND, to bridle your tongue!


I was thinking about an incident that happened to me many ears ago. I was a teenager, attending university. In the town where I matriculated, there were liquor stores on just about every corner. And those stores sold more than just beer, wine and distilled spirits. They sold milk, snacks, and newspapers. It was a common thing for people to go in and out of those establishments for anything from a pack of cigarettes to a pack of chewing gum.

I was confronted by a young lady at the church I was attending at the time. She accused me of being a backslider... or worse. She saw me go into the, gasp, liquor store!


She also saw me exit that same store. And she admitted that I was not carrying any bottles, cans or containers... just a copy of that day’s newspaper.

When she realized that she had not caught me in some type of sin, she walked away sorrowful...

What that young lady forgot... and what most of us often seem to forget... is that what we perceive is not always what we are seeing.

AND, even more importantly, whether it is or whether it ain’t someone sinning... our obligation is to make prayers and supplications with intercession for them... not to spread gossip to tear down their character.

Quite often, what people see or hear is filtered by what some social researchers call paradigms.  For example:

An employee may be deep in thought about an innovation that could make the company billions.  But, all the boss sees is somebody sleeping or daydreaming at their desk.  Women in the church may see a young hussy trying to steal their husbands while in reality a young woman brought herself a new outfit trying to raise her downcast or depressed spirit... not for the purpose of catching anyone's eye.

A prime example of this is the typical automobile accident. Two cars collide... and two drivers tell differing (and, often, diametrically opposed) versions of what happened.  As Philadelphian TV personality Wally Kennedy used to say, you ask fifty people what happened and you will get fifty answers. However... those vehicles did not back up and crash into each other fifty times in fifty different ways. The danger, then, is taking one’s incomplete picture and making it into an absolute truth (when, in fact, it is not).

The Pharisees accused Jesus and His disciples of being unlawful for doing something (in their opinion) on the wrong day of the week.  Check this out:

AT THAT particular time Jesus went through the fields of standing grain on the Sabbath; and His disciples were hungry, and they began to pick off the spikes of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, See there! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful and not permitted on the Sabbath. He said to them, Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, and those who accompanied him-- How he went into the house of God and ate the loaves of the showbread--which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for the men who accompanied him, but for the priests only? Or have you never read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple violate the sanctity of the Sabbath [breaking it] and yet are guiltless? But I tell you, Something greater and more exalted and more majestic than the temple is here! And if you had only known what this saying means, I desire mercy [readiness to help, to spare, to forgive] rather than sacrifice and sacrificial victims, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord [even] of the Sabbath.

Matthew 12:1-8 [AMP]

God does not want us being Judge Mental... 50% judge and 50% mental.  And if someone is judging you, check this final scripture out from the Apostle Paul:

Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another's household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand. One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike [sacred]. Let everyone be fully convinced (satisfied) in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. None of us lives to himself [but to the Lord], and none of us dies to himself [but to the Lord, for] If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord. For Christ died and lived again for this very purpose, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you look down upon or despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God [acknowledge Him to His honor and to His praise]. And so each of us shall give an account of himself [give an answer in reference to judgment] to God. Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.
Romans 14:3-13 [AMP]

This Weeks Homework

  1. Let us watch our mouths... 
  2. Let us exercise the process of watching our mouths... 
  3. And, as God reveals things that you may of done that He hates... or things you failed to do that would please Him... REPENT!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Our Sword and Shield


One thing that God is good at is protecting His children.

Those of you who are familiar with the 91st Psalm know that dwelling in God’s secret place remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

God is our Refuge...

God is our Fortress...

God is our Defender!

We may not be able to avoid feeling pain or receiving disappointments, but we have confidence that whatever people may do, God has our back. We see an example of this in the life of an Old Testament prophet.

23 He went up from Jericho to Bethel. On the way, young [maturing and accountable] boys came out of the city and mocked him and said to him, Go up [in a whirlwind], you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!
24 And he turned around and looked at them and called a curse down on them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and ripped up forty-two of the boys.
25 Elisha went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

2 Kings 2:23-25 [AMP]

The Prophet Elisha had just seen his spiritual father, the Prophet Elijah, leave the earth in a whirlwind. That was God’s special way of taking His servant home. This was a glorious thing to witness, but also a time of sadness and mourning. Elijah had been more than just a boss or a higher ranking prophet. He was in a sense like a father. I remember the pastor who was there during my initial foray into the service of the Lord. He was like a father to me. Losing him was very painful.

As Elisha was returning after seeing this great man in his life leave the planet, he was accosted by some juvenile delinquents. Some expositors believe that the insults about his bald head was the reason for their punishment. But it was more likely the fact that they were telling him to go up in a whirlwind. In other words, they did not want to hear the word of God for their lives from Elijah and also did not want to hear it from Elisha. Still, the man of God had a very painful experience and we see how God defended him off by sending the two bears.

While you may not have grizzly bears show up to slap the living daylights out of those who bother you, you do have the assurance of knowing that God is protecting you by His power and His might. We go into more detail about this in our audio teaching entitled Defender. Feel free to listen to this teaching if you need to know more about God’s protection from your enemies. Particularly, satan and his evil forces.

by Brotha DC

Empowered by the Holy Spirit

Before he ascended into heaven Jesus said: But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is your divine helper, counselor, advocate, intercessor, strengthener and standby. He will take the things of Jesus and reveal them unto you for He is the spirit of Truth sent to lead you into all truth. Acknowledge the Holy Spirit in everything you do; He will help you pray when you don't know how, and He will show you things to come.

Father God as a member of Your royal race, I have been made a king and a priest unto You. I am Your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do the works You have prepared for me to accomplish. Because I was born for such a time as this, I will make a difference in this generation and influence future generations. You bestowed upon me Your creativity and ingenuity, and they are expanded through the power of the Holy Spirit, which You sent to be my Helper and my Strength. Amen

And formed us into a kingdom (a royal race), priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the power and the majesty and the dominion throughout the ages and forever and ever. Amen (so be it).

Revelation 1:6 [AMP]

For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

Ephesians 2:10 [AMP]

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?

Esther 4:14 [AMP]

3 For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).

4 By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4 [AMP]

by Judypie

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Speak No Evil...

In last week’s blog, we addressed the fact that we often hurt other people by saying things that we should not have said. I have done that in the past.  In fact, I unfortunately did it today!

Each time that I find my foot heading in the direction of my mouth, I am reminded that I am still far from achieving the state of perfection. 

However, I am constantly being encouraged by the fact that God’s Spirit leads me to apologize and restore that relationship (whether I like it or not).

Even more importantly, I am glad that He is constantly encouraging me to think before I speak. Not that I always do so... but I appreciate that it happens with more regularity.  It is what seems to be an on-going life-long process.

Since this process is an on-going one, let us keep on going with this topic in this week’s blog. 

Those of us who are in Christ have the Spirit of God on the inside to advise us of when we have one or both feet in our mouths... and His love and His kindness provoke us to repent of our sins (our missing the mark of perfection) and to seek and receive forgiveness.

Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God's will)?
Romans 2:4 [AMP]

It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.  Also, if the Holy Spirit resides inside of you, He will lead and guide you in those true (as opposed to those froward) ways.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth).
John 16:13a [AMP]

In general, however, I don’t think that most people realize the power of their words.

For example, marriages have been destroyed as a result of words; whether those words were:

  • Spoken by one or both parties in the marriage, or
  • Spoken by outsiders to one or both members of the relationship. 
Of course, if love and trust are the cornerstone of a relationship... it will take more than a few poorly-chosen words to tear it apart.

Realistically though, how many marriages are truly based upon those archaic conventions?

Let’s face it: a lot of people today get married for a variety of reasons besides (true) love and trust.  These may include (but are not limited to):

  • Financial advantages
  • Guilt-free sex
  • To get a green card
  • Because she got pregnant

But back to the topic of saying destructive words...

Those who have Christ living on the inside will be quick to repent, quick to apologize, and quick to repair any tears in the relationship.

Some people have found themselves in bad relationships because words were spoken early in their lives that destroyed their self-esteem.

Such individuals may feel that they deserve to be abused or mistreated... because as a child they were told that they were not worth anything better.

Those who are the abusers in such relationships often are acting out behavior they learned in their childhood.

This may have been by observation of their parents’ dysfunctional relationship... or, it may have been via their personal experience of abuse.

While their abuse may have been more than just harsh words... they may have experienced physical or other types of abuse.  Still, in some instances, negative words are often the harbinger of physical violence.

Many people have found themselves making bad choices in life because of things said to them during their childhood. Perhaps a teacher told them they would never amount to anything. I know in my life that has happened. However my choice was to do everything in my power to prove that teacher wrong! Unfortunately, not every child will have that level of tenacity to win and succeed in life.

Such words are even more damaging when spoken by a parent. I hear people say to their children quite often that they may never amount to anything or that they are useless or worthless.

The word of God is perhaps the best being for a young child to hear. For example, rather than to think themselves worthless, a child can learn they are truly valued based upon what thus saith the Lord:

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
Jeremiah 29:11 [AMP]

The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 [AMP]

Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands; [O Zion] your walls are continually before Me.
Isaiah 49:16 [AMP]

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
John 3:16 [AMP]

For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 [AMP]

Those are just a few scriptures that expand upon the great love that God has for each and every one of us. You may be inspired to search the scriptures for more or perhaps even all of them. If that is of interest you, you might want to start here, and then perhaps continue here... and then go on from there.

Perhaps the greatest motivation for watching our mouths is love. We are not talking about romantic or fraternal love but, rather, the love known in the Greek language as Agape which is God’s love -- and is one of the four types of love defined in the Greek language.

If I love others with Agape love, then I will not want to hurt them through negative words spoken. This of course requires the power of God, for it is impossible to live a Christ-like lifestyle without His Spirit operating within us. And even so, it is so easy to fail -- because we are human.

The difference however between living in the light and living in the darkness is easily discernible.  If we are in the light, we are walking in love.  If we are in darkness, there is no love... there is only room for hate. Even a five-year-old knows it is better to walk in the light.  Don’t believe me?  Just turn out the lights in the room where the child is and watch what happens!

Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It or in him there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin.
1 John 2:10 [AMP]

That is one tall order, folks... one that is a daily challenge for me. My good friend Charlie Peacock also knows this struggle, as evidenced in his song, “In The Light.” Check this out:
I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from you
I am the king of excuses
I`ve got one for every selfish thing I do

What`s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I`m still a man in need of a Savior

I wanna be in the light as you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh Lord be my light and my salvation
All I want is to be in the light of love
All I want is to be in the light

The disease of the self runs through my blood
Like a cancer fatal to the soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring the sickness under control

Is there such a thing as a man of peace?
If there is, then a man of peace I want to be
I will need your help if I`m ever to be that
If I’m to lay down, lay down, lay down
Then I’ll lay my life for my brothers and sisters
I will need your help, Jesus I need your light
Forever shining bright

As we yield to the Holy Spirit, remembering that He has the right of way, we will find a change in our hearts. And as our hearts change, our words will change.

For some people, the change is immediate and drastic. For others, it is gradual over an extended period time. Many of us fall into that second category...

The bottom line is that as we continue to submit to God and allow Him to change our hearts, our words will change.  Why?  Because our words are determined by the status of our hearts.  As our hearts are filled with God -- and God is love (1 John 4:8) -- then our words will be chosen out of the storehouse of love.

The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45 [AMP]

And, should our words come out wrong and cause damage, we can rely upon the Spirit of the Living God to correct and re-direct.

Change your heart... your mouth will follow...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oops... Did I Actually Say That?

This past week, I said something to a friend as a joke... but they got seriously offended.  Funny how that happens so easily.  I have seen people in a fight or an argument say things that they later regretted... but it is possible to send a proverbial knife into someone by just a few poorly chosen words. 

Well... there are days when I put my foot in my mouth, and then there are days when I open my mouth and put them both in.  Rather than to continue just changing feet in my mouth... I sought some spiritual counsel on how to better manage my words.

I SAID, I will take heed and guard my ways, that I may sin not with my tongue; I will muzzle my mouth as with a bridle while the wicked are before me.
Psalm 39:1 [AMP]

Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3 [AMP]

I remember years ago making somebody so mad that they pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot me for saying something out of line.  I escaped with my life... and then began to pray the above scriptures.  It helped... but it is an on-going task... as we will see in this study.

Another thing that I notice a lot lately is the use of the name of the Lord in vain. I don't just mean to use God's name as a curse or in connection with profanity. While those things are certainly horrible (from a Christian’s perspective) I'm talking about the use of the Lord's name as an adjective or an exclamation.

For example, when you watch a television program do you notice characters who exclaim, “Oh my god!” Or even, bypassing the more gentrifying exclamations such as gosh or golly and just saying His name?

Even more disturbing, those who throw the name of Jesus around in a vain or useless manner. And when they go so far as to use the name of Jesus in conjunction with a profanity… I just want to jump out of my chair and scream!

I would imagine that most Americans are familiar with the Ten Commandments. Whether or not you have seen the motion picture of that title starring Charlton Heston, wore the animated film “The Prince of Egypt,” most Americans have been exposed to those 10 precepts given by God to the children of Israel.  Well then, in that case you should recognize this:

You shall not use or repeat the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, lightly or frivolously, in false affirmations or profanely]; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Exodus 20:7 [AMP]

Unfortunately, while most people are aware of that scripture, they don’t seem to either belive or take it seriously.  And the frequency in which this abuse and misuse of His name occurs is increasing at an alarming rate. 

Not very long ago, I was watching a documentary in which so called atheists were mocking God’s commandment to have no other gods before Him. It is funny to think of people who claim that there is no God and at the same time question His word. Apparently God also finds this amusing.

1WHY DO the nations assemble with commotion [uproar and confusion of voices], and why do the people imagine (meditate upon and devise) an empty scheme?
2The kings of the earth take their places; the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and His Anointed One (the Messiah, the Christ). They say,
3Let us break Their bands [of restraint] asunder and cast Their cords [of control] from us.
4He Who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision [and in supreme contempt He mocks them].
Psalm 2:1-4 [AMP]

Yes, God Who created this entire universe and everything in it... the all wise, all powerful, all knowing God created man and yet His very creation is arrogant enough to think that he can rebel against his Creator?  Hmm... where did that idea originate?  Who was the first to come up with such a ridiculous plan.  Could it be...satan?

13And you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit upon the mount of assembly in the uttermost north.
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.
15Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol (Hades), to the innermost recesses of the pit (the region of the dead).

Isaiah 14:13-15 [AMP]

Yes, those are the words that the angel formerly known as Lucifer spoke before his fall.  And, sadly... the thoughts of those who align themselves with satan and shake their fists toward heaven in bold defiance against the One who has all power in His hand.  And the greatest rebellion that man can perform is to break the commandment against using the Lord’s name in vain. Why?  Because words are containers for great power.  God created the heavens and the earth by speaking those great words:

Let there be...

And of all created things on this planet, man is the only one given the ability to choose and speak words.  Created in God’s image, our words have great power.  The power of death... and, the power of life.

20 A man’s [moral] self shall be filled with the fruit of his mouth; and with the consequence of his words he must be satisfied [whether good or evil].
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].
Proverbs 18:20-21 [AMP]

We have been warned by the Master Jesus Himself, that on the day of judgment that we will be judged for what comes out of our mouths... because what comes out of the mouth is a barometer of what is in the heart.  Everyone will one day leave this life behind.  Death takes rich and poor... Republican and Democrat... saved and unsaved.  Death is probably the only sure thing about life.  And yet, after death comes another sure thing: judgment.  The atheist denies the existence of God to abolish in his or her thinking the idea of judgement or punishment.  In like manner, the person who drives recklessly does so thinking that his or her driving is with impunity.  You ever watch those high-speed chase shows on television?  Eventually, they either get caught or involved in a spectacular crash.  But each time, they step on the accelerator not realizing that you can’t run.  You can’t hide.  You must face the music.

People live their lives like a high-speed chase... and yet death will eventually catch you.  And then, after that... the judgement.  And all those times you threw the name of God or Jesus around in a vain or profane manner... YIKES!

And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment
Hebrews 9:27 [AMP]

36But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak.
37For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.
Matthew 12:36-37 [AMP]

The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45 [AMP]

Therefore, it is imperative that each man or woman reading this REPENT and receive God's free gift of salvation (see John 3:16).  Once you get your sins forgien (see 1 John 1:9), then you can follow the advice of the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians regarding how to properly govern your mouth:

29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).
Ephesians 4:29-30 [AMP]

Watching our words is an ongoing thing that we must all do.  I know that I occasionally have friends tell me that I said something that hurt them, or embarrasssed them, or worse.  That not only hurts my friends, but it grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

That I definitely don’t want to do... so this week’s prayer focus will be on watching and correcting my mouth... and even words that I might text or message to others.

Care to join me in that this week?