When is it Right to be Angry?

Today I was asked when it was right to be angry (to submit questions, you can go here). That was a very good question and a hard one to answer at that. But I did a little bit of research throughout the Bible and came up with a conclusion that some of you might not have noticed before. Having gone through the Old Testament, I noticed three main mentions of anger: 1.) the Lord’s anger, not to be questioned; 2.) mankind’s wrathful anger; 3.) mankind’s rightful anger. I would like to cover those main anger areas in the Bible and discover how we should respond if we should encounter anger in any situation.

1.) God’s Anger

Throughout the Old Testament (primarily) we see God’s anger displayed a lot. A great example of this are the Israelites. Exodus 32:10-11 says this: “Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.’ But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?” God sought to destroy the Israelites. Or did He? He did not seek to destroy the Israelites; He sought to destroy the wicked Israelites. This is what I’m getting at. God doesn’t want to destroy His people. Look at Numbers 14:18: “‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.'” The Israelites the Lord was talking about were wicked; they had turned from God. This is God’s righteous anger – not that He has any other kind of anger. Notice that Numbers 14:18 says that He is “slow to anger”, yet we see the Bible mention God’s anger so many times in the Bible. Well, the Bible’s not lying; He is slow to anger. Yet we as humans fail so often that He is constantly provoked to anger. Deuteronomy 9:7: “Remember this and never forget how you provoked the LORD your God to anger in the desert. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the LORD”  the Israelites provoked God to anger through their continuous rebellion against Him and His commands. And their actions had consequences. Numbers 20:11-12: “Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’” Because Moses disobeyed God and Aaron did not stop him from disobeying God, they were not allowed to enter into the promised land. Those are severe punishments, but they are inflicted by our sinful actions. So basically, God’s anger is provoked by our rebellion and sins against Him and His commandments.

2. Mankind’s Wrathful Anger

Many people view “wrath” and “anger” as synonyms, but I do not believe they are. Anger is defined as “having a strong feeling of being upset or annoyed”, while “wrath” is “extreme anger”. Wrath is a lot more severe than regular anger, and thus takes on more severe consequences for the wrong usage. The original question was “When is it right to be angry?”.  Anger is a very overused emotion. People indulge in anger way too often, and many people struggle with anger issues. King Henry (father of King Richard [the Lion Heart]) of England would often fly into a “black rage”, destroying things, cursing people, and implementing overly harsh punishments. It is in these outbreaks that he would do awful things he would later regret. It was during one such time that he unknowingly sentenced his best friend to death that very night. So, was he angry? No. He was wrathful. Anger is simply being very annoyed or upset, while wrath is the desire to make your anger “even” if you will. You want vengeance, you want to get even with someone (most of the time.) This is a very dangerous feeling to have, and often leads to dangerous consequences. The Roman Emperor Theodosius had an issue with wrathful anger. He once sent his Roman army to put down a riot, and “without regard to guilt or innocence, seven thousand men, women, and children were massacred” (Richard Hannula, Trial and Triumph, pg. 37). The book also said that he confessed his sin and promised to check his anger by sentencing himself to a 30 day cooling period before sentencing anybody to death. This was a wise action, as he was prone to respond wrathfully.

So basically, man’s wrathful anger leads to destruction, and sometimes death. A man with wrathful anger is to be shunned; he is nothing but trouble.

3.) Mankind’s Rightful Anger

I guess this is what I was trying to get to the whole time. When is it right for man to be angry? After a short study of the Scriptures, I’ve come to two reasons to be angry at something/someone.

1. Injustice

Genesis 39:19: “When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, ‘This is how your slave treated me,’ he burned with anger.” This is an example of (supposed) injustice. Potiphar’s wife claimed that Joseph sinned against Potiphar’s wife, and Potiphar “burned with anger”. Why? He trusted Joseph; he appointed him the highest position in his household. If Joseph truly had committed that deed, it would’ve been a just anger against injustice. This is one reason to be angry. Or is it? What about the little injustices, like somebody cutting in front of you? Isn’t that an injustice? Yes. But is it a good reason to be angry? Not at all. So, injustices are not a good reason to get angry. But what about the verse above? The supposed action in the verse above is sin. Cutting in front of somebody is sin. Kidnapping somebody is a sin. As I heard the other night, it’s good to be angry at what God is angry at. So then, I can come to the conclusion that there is one good reason to get angry:

21. Sin

Sin is a very good reason to be angry. Jesus was often angered by mankind’s sins. Mark 3:5 says “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” Jesus was angered at the Pharisees who were trying to trap Him in his words. He was angered at their un-acceptance towards His words, trying to trap Him in everything He said. He was also angered by their unwillingness to change, or rather, their legalism. But that’s a topic that I will talk about another time, for sure.

So what is my conclusion? It is right to be angry against sin and injustice (just like Planned Parenthood, Kim Davis, and gay marriage –  read my thoughts on it here). But it is not right to be angry about anything else. Look at the following verses:

“For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. ” – 2 Cor. 12:20

“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, ” – Eph. 4:26

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. ” – Eph. 4:31

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. ” – Col. 3:8

“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. ” – 1 Tim. 2:8

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” – James 1:19-20

The Bible says that we should drop all anger, all wrath, and instead lift up holy hands in prayer and focus on God instead of all of the things on the side that draws Christians away from studying the Scriptures and instead brings around arguing and division. Focus on Christ. Be slow to anger, just as God is, but know that it is right to be angry under the correct circumstances.

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The Man Behind the Door

All of us have had friends before. And with every one that has passed, there has been a little piece of hurt thrust into your life. As you get older these hurts increase. I moved to Houston when I was six or seven, but I didn’t feel much true hurt about leaving everybody I knew – I was young! I didn’t understand the meaning of true friendship. But then when my first ever best friend left our church and I never ever saw him again, that was probably my first friend-loss hurt that I’ve ever had. It happened again when we moved, except much more dramatic.
My point is that there is hurt in every one of us – hurt that is almost impossible to comfort by our own efforts. And who really wants to go around broadcasting that hurt to every person on the planet? No one wants all these sympathizers coming to them, and in reality, who would really care about a random person’s hurts?
We need to care. I am going to try to address the need to care, the desire to care, and the reason to care. These are crucial to being a good trustworthy friend.

          The Need to Care
A few months ago I learned that the person who I considered to be my best friend did not feel the same way about me. That discovery brought a whirlwind of hurt, pain, and dislike for that person into my life. The person that I called a best friend really was not my best friend. Or was it really that way?
If we are going to be good best friends, we need to understand this concept: Sometimes people are there for you, and sometimes you are there for them. You shouldn’t be able to look at your friendship as looking in a mirror. You shouldn’t be linked identical-to-identical; friendships don’t typically work that way. Most of the time, God brings people into your life to encourage you, heal you from previous wounds, mentor you, or just be a guide for you. But in order for this rule to be true, it has to go both ways. In mathematical terms, it has to be commutative. If this applies for all people, it applies to you and to your best friend. That means that if your best friend (in your eyes) does not consider you his/her best friend, maybe he is only there for you, and you are getting what you can from him. But what if there’s this guy (or girl in a girl’s case; let’s not make this awkward) that considers you his(/her) best friend, but you really don’t care for them? At all. Maybe you are there for them. But here’s something important about this rule that you have to understand: you have to care for that person! You have to desire to care. Here’s a quote I was shown today:
“I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most, to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return.”

       The Desire to Care
Why should we be given the desire to care? Well, love stems from care, and the two greatest commandments are all about loving God and man; that should be reason enough.
But in case it’s not, you should remember a time when your life was falling apart at the seams, where everything was crumbling around you, and where your life was pretty much chaos and confusion. And do you remember how good prayer from another person felt? It is so nice when you are in need and receive prayer.
I heard a story a month or so ago at a church, where this speaker was talking about an uncle of his, who refused to get saved until a few months before his death (he had cancer). The speaker proceeded to say that after he (his uncle) was saved, he witnessed to more people in his few remaining months than most Christians do in their entire lifetime.
This is the kind of care we should be having. Remembering how close we came to complete destruction should motivate us to help those who are on their way there.

The Reason to Care
The reason to care is a great one. What is it? God cared about us first, and we are to mirror the image of Christ in all that we do. Therefore we should be kind and considerate and caring to those around us who love us. Also, we often care out of love for that person. If you love someone, you will mind if they get injured or are going through a hard time. It’s just something that you should do. That is the reason to care – out of love.
In conclusion, I want to draw out my original point. All of us have friends or people we know. All people are hurting. That means your friend is hurting. That means his friend is hurting. That means you are hurting. You may not realize it, but there is hurt there. There is pain there. There is sorrow there. You may be ignoring it and thus unaware of its presence, but believe me the pain is still present. So, do you want to have a friendship on the surface, or do you want to know the man behind the door?

America Has Fallen

Today, I want you to take a moment to pray for America. America has fallen, ladies and gentlemen. We have lost a war against evil in America. That’s why gay marriage is allowed for the entire U.S., an act which goes against our Constitution, by the way. Us Christians stood by the sidelines and let this entire takeover occur. What do I mean? Just look at what has happened to our country! We used to proudly salute our flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance without question. Now, we have political candidates pressing to take the “under God” part out. And what has happened to our Constitution anyway? Deciding something for the entire country is not allowed on that small of a scale; it is left up to the individual states. It says so in the tenth amendment.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” ~ Amendment 10.
“Any power not listed, says the Tenth Amendment, is left to the states or the people. Although the Tenth Amendment does not specify what these “powers” may be, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that laws affecting family relations (such as marriage, divorce, and adoption), commerce that occurs within a state’s own borders, and local law enforcement activities, are among those specifically reserved to the states or the people.” (Quote taken from Constitution Center.
The US government has no authority to decide relations between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, just as they cannot say in the future that a man may not marry a woman, and vice-versa. They have no authority over those kinds of decisions; it is left up to the States.
Some states have decreed that you cannot say “he” or “she” or anything relating to the separation of genders within a government-run facility because it might offend the “others”. What others? God didn’t design anyone to be an “other”. It is male or female, just like He said in Genesis 2. He did not design any other gender. And now, sadly, it is acceptable and even applaudable that young children influenced by liberal propoganda are allowed to make a permanent, life altering decision as to what gender they prefer to be. Is this world dead or is this sickening to read in the news? Only Christians seem to care about the Oregon college shooting. Check out these quotes:
“As to Obama’s comments calling for stricter gun-control measures?
‘This is about good and evil and has nothing to do with gun control,’ McFarland adds in a press release. ‘This killer would have chosen any means to carry out his motive. The point is, without the God of the Bible, there is no hope.'”*
“Persecution and targeting of Christians isn’t just in Iran or the Middle East, it’s right here in America. The bold souls at Umpqua Community College who stood up to say they were followers of Jesus Christ were heinously gunned down with no mercy. Jesus said, ‘If they hate you, remember they hated me before they hated you.’ (John 15:18)”**
This brings me to my next topic. Persecution is being exercised in America now. The attacks started 9/11/01, but they grew so that our own country and congressmen are back-stabbing traitors. Take Kim Davis for example. She was asked to do something that Christians should be proud to resist, and thankfully, she did. But she was ostracized for it. She was sent to serve a jail sentence that was an undefined length, except that the judge promised she would be released upon her agreement to abide by his ruling. She refused. The media, public, and surprisingly, fellow Christians viciously spoke out against her, but she boldly stood strong in the faith and deflected their rebukes. By picking on Kim Davis, she showed the strength of God to the world in America.
“What law did Kim Davis break? When asked to cite the law that would justify her being handcuffed and locked up in a jail cell, opponents mumble and stumble and look at the floor. They have no answer because there is no answer. What Mrs. Davis did was uphold the law. The Constitution itself is silent about marriage, which means the issue, according to the 10th Amendment, is left to the states.”***
“The one violating the Constitution and the law here is the federal judge, David Bunning, who sent her to the slammer for keeping her oath of office. “***
What Mrs. Davis did was uphold the law. The Constitution itself is silent about marriage, which means the issue, according to the 10th Amendment, is left to the states.
That should not be happening! We should not be threatened with imprisonment for refusing to sign something that violates our faith in America! What happened to America being the “home of the free”? And what happened to the Eighth Amendment that states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.” This is communist behavior in action! Only in the Communist East have I seen this kind of behavior. I must say that I am ashamed to have this kind of face for America. These stories are/were on mainstream news, being broadcasted world-wide to all different countries. What will they think about America’s behavior? But most importantly, what is God thinking right now? He detests this kind of behavior! Sure, people who endure persecution are blessed in His Kingdom, but that doesn’t mean He wants it for His people at all. This is sickening behavior for a country founded by Christian authors. Now think about this next step – it’s not too late to change some of the damage done to our country. That’s why this election will be so important. Who we elect determines the course of our country. I cannot imagine the detestable actions that would come upon America if Hillary Clinton were to be elected. She could make Obama’s work look like child’s play. Our government has failed before our eyes.
But we have strayed further than that, sadly. While praying for America, we cannot forget the apathetic attitude regarding the unborn. Abortion is a horrific thing; a way to legally excuse murdering a baby before he/she is born. But it is culturally accepted as a kind option for mothers. If a mother can’t support a child, we should murder it, right? If the baby will be born “different”, eliminate it, yes? And what if we really wanted a boy instead of a girl? China says that’s a great reason to abort! There are thousands of people who cannot be blessed with a baby and would love to adopt one. But people who do not care about God’s perfect plan for their child just take the child’s life before it can even say “mama”.
If you have not heard what’s up with Planned Parenthood, it’s kind of a big deal for us Christians to know about.  Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, is an established and obvious liar. Planned Parenthood has been suspected for years of many unethical and illegal wrongdoings, and when finally confronted with the truth, she denies (under oath) irrefutable evidence exposing their treachery. If you have not heard, there was a string of videos collected by people posing as potential clients who have captured illegal actions on video in the Planned Parenthood facilities. Huge crimes include the willingness to give an abortion to someone who was not of the age to receive one, selling organs at a non-profit organization, and other awful and unspeakable actions or willingness to undertake those actions. The thing that has caused debate is the fact that Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization, meaning, it is funded by the government. The illegal actions should not be supported by the government, and the funding should stop immediately. Also, Cecile Richards has stated that abortions are only 3% of the services they offer, when in actuality, that number is 86%. She also purports that they are in the business of providing general women’s health care, for example, offering mammograms, despite the actuality that not one of their 600+ facilities world-wide are equipped to provide this service.
“Big news happened today,” said Matt Walsh last week. “Planned Parenthood testified on Capitol Hill. Fittingly for an organization that murders 300 thousand children a year, it was a bloodbath. Planned Parenthood lies about literally everything, nothing they say about anything can ever be believed or taken seriously, and every point and every statement they make is either an obvious untruth or a really obvious untruth.” 300 thousand children every year never get to see their parents. Never get the chance to honor God. Never get the chance to fulfill their mission in life. How they got that number I do not know, but it is a stunning amount of beautiful children that never get to see the light of day. But do they? The undercover people sent in to get the videos discovered that there were some cases where babies did, in fact, survive the abortion. When asked how Planned Parenthood handles such situations, Cecile Richards said she’d never heard of that circumstance happening. “It was a fascinating statement considering abortion survivors just testified in front of this very same committee.” (Matt Walsh also.) She asserts that should that ever happen at one of their facilities, then, of course, the baby should receive proper medical care.
But do we really believe that a company who views each live child as lost revenue would have the decency to do that? And what exactly are they doing with their government funding and 127 million dollars in “excess revenue”? For a non-profit organization, they are literally raking it in. We, the taxpayers, are funding their penchant for elaborate parties and extravagant fluff. Here is an excellent article that gives details regarding the flagrant misuse of funds, if you want to read more.
This isn’t like accidentally killing an animal on the side of the road one night. This is killing an average of 300 thousand innocent children each and every year for who knows how long. And if each and every 300,000 of those children survived, do you think they would ask to have been murdered prematurely? No one in their right mind would say that! Why is this not disturbing everybody like 9/11 did? About 3,000 lives were lost in the World Trade Centers, and 184 in the Pentagon. Besides it being a frontal assault on America, how is this really different from the staggering amounts of children who are killed through abortion every year? It is not. It is still murder, it is still a crime, and it should be illegal. How can you not love a young life? The blissful innocence that they have? It is lovely. I have a 2 year-old brother here, and I know the blessings of seeing a young, beautiful, and amazing life.
*Quote taken from this news source.
**Franklin Graham
***Quotes taken from this news source.

A Message for the Messenger Online Bible Conference – Day 6

This is the last and final day of A Message for the Messenger’s Online Bible Conference! While I’ve enjoyed doing this, and there have been some excellent posts from my guest posters (here, here, here, here & here), I am going to finish this with a post on humility, written by myself. Thank you all for participating in A Message for the Messenger’s Online Bible Conference and for contributing to make it a great turnout. And special thanks to my guest posters (view profiles here, here, and here).
How often do we hear people tell us to be humble or show humility? And how often do we actually know what they are talking about?

Humility seems to be something that Jesus stressed a lot. So why aren’t people being more humble?

Look at the two most important commandments to fulfill that Jesus gives to the Pharisees when they tried to trap Him: “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt. 22:37-40).” Love your neighbor as yourself. The reason this is important is because our natural fleshly desire is to put us first, to satisfy our desires first, and to think of our needs as more crucial than someone else’s. If you love someone as much as yourself, you will want to put them first, satisfy their desires first, and you will finally think of their needs as more crucial than yours. But how do you achieve this level of humility? It’s not something that you can instantly start doing. No, this is a disciplined task. It requires you to purpose to do it, and then to have the endurance and perseverance to keep at it. It is something where you have to know why you’re doing it. Why do you have to know? If you are doing something for no reason and no purpose, you will fail shortly after you’ve begun.

So, during this post, I want to discuss three things: What humility is, why humility is important, and how you get humility.

What is Humility?
In my mind, humility is the act of belittling yourself (in an appropriate and reasonably proportioned way) so that you are not looked upon as being overly important or powerful wrongly. But a part of being a humble Christian is using humility to our advantage. When we are truly humble and are not drawing attention to ourselves, what should we be drawing attention to? God! But read this: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him (Matt. 6:5-8).” Do not draw attention to God like a pagan would or a hypocrite would; draw attention to Him quietly and secretly. This may seem like an oxymoron, but people notice when you’re not with the rest of the crowd. I think this is what we are supposed to be doing as Christians. We are supposed to be the light in the world that other people can look at and want to like them and be with them.
Humility serves as yet another tool for Christians. By focusing attention away from them and onto Christ, it gives us the chance to help people without drawing all sorts of uncared-for attention. We can help people by praying, working, or providing. This kind of help can benefit in all sorts of unpredictable ways, not forgetting that God will be pleased by our actions.

Why is Humility Important?
Humility is primarily important because God instructs us to be. We don’t need all the attention that the world says we do. What do we need then? 1.) God, 2.) a church in which we can grow and learn, 3.) friends or relatives that can encourage and motivate us in our Christian walk. These are the three primary things that we need, besides the obvious physical needs.

But, like in my case, if people give you an adequate amount of attention, why would you want to practice and exercise humility? There are two reasons that come to mind: 1.) No one starts off center-stage and famous. It starts with one song, discovery, publication, etc. for someone to become famous. Having well-exercised humility is handy to have in a situation such as those, so that you are not carried away by sudden fame and popularity. 2.) If you have no plans or reasons to become famous soon (such as myself), a practice of humility is good when receiving everyday compliments. These kinds of compliments (e.g. “nice tie”, “you did really well in that play”, “I like your shoes”, etc.) give you the perfect opportunity to brag or show off. It is easy to be ostentatious when you receive such a compliment as the above. You can easily come up with reasons why they are right (e.g. “Yes, it’s the best brand”, “Well, you know, I did take theatre for four years”, “these shoes are three-hundred dollars!”, etc.)
I can remember times that I’ve bragged, and then times that I’ve corrected a false compliment. One time someone said that they liked my shoes, and asked how much they cost. Truthfully, I told them that they originally cost $400. They were stunned. Smiling, I proceeded to tell them that I bought them for $14 from a resale shop. This is an example on how you can “correct” praise. They were surprised at the cost of my shoes, but it was unworthy surprise and praise. It is nice to have humility in times like that. Unfortunately, I do not practice humility very often. I do need to exercise it more, though.

How do you get Humility?
Probably the best way is to practice exercising it around everyday compliments. That way if you are ever in an overwhelming situation in which you are receiving incomprehensible amounts of praise, you can easily use your humble reflexes and turn their praise around if it’s false, and turn it to God if it’s not. There is an issue here that might need to be addressed, but I will save that for another time.

A Final Note
Humility isn’t just correcting and deflecting praise; it is definitely also returning praise, and putting others first. This act makes you become inferior so-to-speak, and holds the other person higher than yourself. I struggle with this, and have the need to exercise humility much more. But when you’re in line, let the person before you go ahead. Show acts of kindness and, in doing so, you will mirror the image of Christ in your actions.

A Message for the Messenger Online Bible Conference – Day 5

Well, our week is almost over, and we’ve had two posts on faith (here, here), one on humility (here), and one on perseverance and endurance (here). Today, I have the last guest post for this week before I finish the conference, Sophie19, writing on endurance and perseverance!

 

“I AM NOT A WRITER. I just wanted to get that out of the way so that there would be no expectations. Not only did Ryan ask me to contribute to his one year conference, for which I am honored, but he also positioned my post AFTER several deep, well written and thought provoking theological posts. So, though I may not write as eloquently as those before me, I do have things to talk about, and thus accepted his offer.

I have what I call, “My List”. If you have ever watched Veggie Tales, then you may recall a particular episode where Larry referenced his own list, and it was an never ending assortment of things that he did not like or of which he was fearful. That’s where I got the concept from, except mine is a list of hot button items. Ryan asked me to write about perseverance/endurance, which is not really on my list except that I must endure those things which get on my nerves. If he invites me back, I’ll go over my list in detail. Despite what my family says, I’m sure I’m not the ONLY person who HATES to see people throw their cigarettes out the window. Am I right? And there’s lots more where that came from!

OK, being serious now. I have a confession. This post will NOT be about perseverance or endurance, actually. I will try to tie that in somehow to say that I gave it a shot, but, in truth, if I have a limited window of opportunity to speak to an audience of young people, I would like to be more selective in what I have to say.

Those who know me know that I abhor small talk. If something needs to be said, say it, but spare me any information that is not relevant and skip the intellectual talk. One of the tips that C.S. Lewis gave to aspiring writers was “Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one” and that is my philosophy as well.

With that in mind, I have four points that I want to present for your consideration. These are items that either I wish I had concerned myself with more in my younger years or that I have grown to see the importance of as I have grown. I have many more points, but these are the ones that you get today, and they are in no particular order of importance. And yes, they are on my list!

1. Care about current events. Do you have a credible news source that you can follow? If not, find one. (NOT CNN, N.Y. Times, Washington Post, or any other liberal slanted mainstream source.) As Christians, we need to know what is happening in the world so that we can take a stand against things that grieve God. So that we can make an educated vote for Christian politicians who will make wise and ethical decisions for our country. So that we know how to be in prayer for situations in the world. When we sit idly by, unaware or too busy to notice, Satan’s army is actively at work, and before you know it, gay marriage is allowed in our country. WE allowed that to happen, among many of the other things in our country that have quietly crept in. Also, God so loved the world, and so should we. How can we love people we don’t care about or know anything about?

2. Flee pornography. If you have not already, you WILL be faced with this. There’s not ONE GOOD THING that can come of it. It destroys lives and families. Just ask Josh Duggar. He had EVERY earthly thing one could desire, and now his life is ruined. And the whole “boys will be boys” thing is one of Satan’s lies. God has a higher standard for men and young men. He calls you to flee from immorality and to turn your eyes from looking upon worthless things. Pornography is an addictive tool of the enemy to snare boys and men, particularly Christians, to prevent them from being the Godly man they are called to be. JUST DON’T DO IT. And if you are a man or young man utilizing the internet without accountability, you are setting yourself up for failure. God provides a way out when we are tempted, but why allow a temptation that you can prevent with a filter or with a person to hold you accountable for where you go while on the internet? Your future wife will thank you, and I guarantee that that will be on the list of questions when courtship comes around in our house.

3. Know what you believe and why. This is in the top 5 on my list. Do you really know why you believe in God? If someone asked you why you believe that the Bible is real, could you tell them? Church leaders are distressed because the young people in churches are growing up and leaving their faith once they get to college. The answer, in my opinion, is really quite simple. There are many intelligent, articulate, well researched people in this world who will happily try to convince you that the Bible is a collection of fairy tales, that evolution and creation can co-exist, and that the God of the New Testament is just fine with gay marriage, and unless you have a strong, biblical foundation, you will be at a loss for how to counter their slick arguments. OWN YOUR FAITH. Do not spout what your parents have said as a reason why you believe this or that. Research it for yourself and KNOW why you believe.

4. If you want to, like, be taken, like, seriously, then, like, present yourself in a way that inspires people to treat you that way. EVERY THING YOU DO says something about you. Likewise, EVERY THING YOU DO is part of your testimony. The Bible says we are to be set apart from the world. Do you dress like the world? Are you worried about the latest trends and fashions? Do you allow modesty to take a back seat to style? Do you speak like the world? Do you allow “certain words” to season your speech just to fit in? Do not allow modern slang and filler words to dominate your speech. Watch what you say on the internet. When I want to know more about a specific person I don’t know very well, the first thing I do is look them up on Facebook and view their “likes” and their music and entertainment choices. I make a preliminary assessment of that person based upon what I find. And from what I’ve read, prospective colleges and employers are doing the same thing. Will they find someone whose likes and comments are consistent with the world’s? Likewise, if you write a blog, “little things” like spelling and grammar DO make a huge difference as to whether or not someone finds what you say credible or whether or not you come across as being lazy and not doing your best because you didn’t take the time to edit your work before posting. You are a representative of Christ and most of you probably are representatives of homeschooling. Many people already have a negative opinion of homeschooling, and you are adding fuel to that fire by not cleaning up your posts. All this to say, think really hard (and care) about what other people see when they look at you or what other people think when they hear you speak or read what you’ve written. Many unsaved people are put off by Christians who behave no differently than they do.

That’s all I have for today, folks. If you are still reading at this point, thanks for enduring this post. You are applauded for your perseverance. Ha! I told you I’d work that in.”

A Message for the Messenger Online Bible Conference – Day 4

A Message for the Messenger’s Online Bible Conference started four days ago, and we’ve already had two guest speakers come and go. However, today is not like any of the other days. Today is the day that A Message for the Messenger’s Online Bible Study is celebrating. Today is A Message for the Messenger’s 1st year Anniversary!

Anyway, today I have with brought to us a very special guest speaker, who has written on the topic of humility: First time guest poster, my Dad!
“One of my favorite scenes in The Andy Griffith Show is when Barney is practicing his acceptance speech for an award he (mistakenly) believes he is about to receive (season 1 episode 25). “With humbleness and humility” is the line he uses that sends me into laughter. Why? Because Barney Fife is one of the least humble characters on the show. His pride has placed him in more than one difficult situation. The Bible has much to say about how true “humbleness and humility” can help us not only avoid unpleasant situations, but actually grow in our walk with God.

The first thing we need to realize is that we can accomplish nothing without God. Colossians 1:16 (all Scripture references from the NLT) “…God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.” everything we have – including our abilities – is from God alone. To think we can accomplish something great from our own resources is pride at best and blasphemy at worst. Not only do we have to realize that God gave us every talent and ability we have, but He gave them to us to use for His glory. 1 Peter 4:10-11 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another… Then everything you do will bring glory to God…”.

Next, the consequences of pride (the opposite of humility) are real, dangerous, and severe. The Proverbs are full of warnings about the consequences of pride: It leads to disgrace (11:6), conflict (13:10), destruction (16:18), and humiliation (29:23). On top of that God uses the word “hate” to describe His feeling about it (8:13). To have so many and such clear warning about something and continue to do them is foolish to say the least.

In contrast to the warnings about pride are the benefits of humility. Proverbs 11:2 and 29:23 list wisdom and honor respectively as consequences of humility and 22:4 even lists riches and a long life! Some people are motivated by positives and some by negatives; God provides plenty of both in His Proverbs.

So how do we exhibit true humility? Certainly not by telling everyone how humble you are! One of my favorite verses about humility is Proverbs 27:2 “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth – a stranger, not your own lips.” I had that verse written on a tool I used every day at work and looked at it multiple times every day. One of the biggest honors I ever received was when I was offered the position I have now at the company I work for. I never told them how awesome I was (or thought I was), but word got to them through others that I had the skills and abilities that they were looking for. “Someone else praising me” led to me having a very rewarding position and the favor of the company. It can be tempting to shout to the world the accomplishments you have attained, but it is far better to have others do it for you.

If you will simply do what you are supposed to do every day – whether it is doing your chores, your school work, or your tasks at work – with dilligence and a good attitude and remember it is God that gave you the ability to do those things in a way no other person can, you will be on the path to accomplish amazing things for God’s glory.

Thank you, Ryan, for the opportunity to share this with your readers!”

A Message for the Messenger Online Bible Conference – Day 3

If you have not been out here for the last two days, you should catch up with our excellent posts on faith. But for today, I have with us a guest blogger, speaking on endurance and perseverance,  who celebrated her first year anniversary of blogging only four days ago, Lauren S. from Defying Depravity!
“Endurance. Perseverance. The two words sound so intimidating, as if they could only be upheld and kept by the strongest and wisest of people. They’re so neglected by this generation. Endurance and perseverance imply hard work and waiting, both of which the people of today shun with disgust. But what do these words really mean? Are they really so far out of reach? Can I, weak and unwise, have them?

Endurance and perseverance are defined according to Webster’s as follows:

Endure: 1.Tolerate
2.Suffer
3. Survive

Perseverance: persist in spite of obstacles

That seems beyond intimidating, right? I mean, how many of us are strong enough, or have the will to persist in spite of obstacles? How many of us are patient enough to tolerate something and suffer through it? I admit that I do not have endurance or perseverance in certain areas of my life. But does that mean I can never have it? No.

I want to look at my personal favorite reference to endurance and perseverance – Heb. 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

To summarize, this passage specifically mentions that we are to run this race of life with perseverance, and it gives Jesus’ race as a testimony of endurance.

These two terms are so closely related, and frequently used interchangeably, but have two different meanings. But yet, they go hand in hand. So for the moment, I want to specifically zero in on endurance.

When we speak of endurance, we immediately think of hard, challenging sufferings, and it makes us a little more than squeamish. We don’t want to face challenges, especially if it involves suffering! But yet, we wouldn’t have to “endure” anything if it wasn’t hard and painful. So yes, endurance does mean suffering. Without suffering, there could be no endurance.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? Heb. 12:7

There’s that “endurance” word again, right next to the word “hardship”! Linking back to vs. 1-3, we see that Jesus “endured the cross”, and “endured such opposition from sinners”. Yet again, we see endurance associated with suffering and hardship. Okay, so now that we see that we will suffer, and we need to have endurance even through the hardships, how do we have endurance?

I’ll answer my question with another question: How did Jesus have endurance? V. 2b, For the joy set before him he endured he cross… Joy. He had the joy of knowing that in the end, the pain would all be worth it. Once He had accomplished His intentions on the cross, and made a way for eternal fellowship between God and man, it would be worth everything He had suffered through in the meantime. He endured opposition from the ones He was trying to redeem. That couldn’t have possibly been anywhere close to joy. But He saw the joy at the end of the road of pain, and decided that He was willing to pay the price. And thus, He had endurance. He was able to tolerate it, to suffer, and he survived.

In our hardships, in our trials, we tend to focus completely on how terrible we’ve got it, of how awful our situation or circumstance is. We forget that there is joy at the end of the road of suffering, and we forget to look to it. We can even have joy as we are in a hardship, knowing that in the end, it will all be worth it.

Now, to switch gears and shift over to perseverance. We’ve already gone over the definition of perseverance, so let’s look back at the passage in Heb. 12. V.1b, And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us… Well, how are we supposed to run with perseverance? V. 2a, …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. There you have it. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Okaaay… what does that look like? How do we “fix our eyes on Jesus”?

I like to picture those blinders the horses wear sometimes, that come on either side of their eyes, so that they can only see straight ahead. They’ve got their eyes fixed on the road ahead of them, rather than letting their eyes drift to things like that delectable grass on the side of the road. They don’t get distracted by any obstacles on the side of their path.

The same principle applies here. Put your blinders on. Perseverance is defined as “persisting in spite of obstacles” – you can’t see the obstacles of distraction on the side of your path if you have your blinders on, so you can keep your eyes on the road in front of you.

Here’s where perseverance and endurance go hand in hand. When we go through a hardship, we tend to get distracted by the details of the circumstance. Even these little distractions remove our eyes from Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, and cause us to be hindered. We need endurance to bear the suffering, and perseverance to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 1b-3)”