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Sunday, October 8, 2023

Freedom from Anger


Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.    Ephesians 4:26-27

   In the story of The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet,  the main plot centers around a man named Jabez Stone, a farmer in New Hampshire who is down on his luck. His wife and children are ailing, his field is not producing crops, and his horses suddenly become ill. He is so depressed with his lot that, although he is a religious man, he vows he would sell his soul to the devil to improve his wretched fortunes. Naturally the devil shows up the very next day in the guise of a well-dressed and soft-spoken lawyer fitly named Scratch. The pact is made. Jabez experiences seven years of prosperity, after which he persuades the devil to grant him an extension of three more years. At the end of the decade Jabez, in desperation, asks Daniel Webster, a fellow New Hampshire man, to take on his legal case and defend him.

   Jabez Stone is a decent though desperate man. When he realizes that his request may endanger the soul of the great orator, Daniel Webster, he pleads with his would-be savior to leave before the devil gets him. Webster, however, in many ways a man of similar nature—an educated and rhetorical version of the down-to-earth farmer—asserts that he has never left either a case or a jug unfinished. He stays on the case, remaining calm even when the devil shows the little black box with air holes in the lid in which he carries the souls of people he has bought.

   Webster begins the case by insisting on an all-American jury. "Let it be the quick or the dead!" The members of the jury selected by the devil are a gallery of traitors and criminals, all actual figures from American history, including such notables as the pirate Teach and the cruel governor Dale, who broke men on the wheel. The judge, fittingly, is Hawthorne, who presided at the witch trials in Salem and never repented of the convictions.

   Webster's appeal to the jury is brilliant. At first the doughty lawyer simply "got madder and madder," determined to "bust out with lightening’s and denunciations." But as he stares at the wild glitter in the eyes of these repugnant souls, he realizes that would be a mistake, playing right into the hands of the devil himself. Instead, he decides to address them as men, the men that they were rather than the damned that they have become.

   He does not condemn or revile but instead talks about what makes a man a man. He speaks so movingly that the diabolic glitter disappears from the eyes of the jurors, who seem to return to being simply men once more. At the close of the trial, Walter Butler, the loyalist terrorist of the Revolution, delivers the verdict, astonishing the devil by finding for the defendant.

   In Ephesians 4:13 Apostle Paul reminds us that we are “… called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

 To live in the full measure of the freedom God has given us means to live a spirit-filled life in the power and love of Christ. As one reads the 4th chapter of Ephesians, Paul reminds us that we need to put off the old self, the old nature, and start living as a new creation. One of the traits that Paul exhorts us that we can be free from is the propensity for anger.

   Paul’s first words in verse 26, “Be angry, and yet do not sin” echo Psalm 4:4. Does it surprise you that the Bible allows us – in both Testaments – to get angry? Anger is mentioned often in Proverbs – like in 14:29 & 16:32:

He who is slow to anger has great understanding,

But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.


One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And one who rules his spirit, than one who captures a city.

   Now Paul and David didn’t have in mind temper tantrums but righteous anger that directs its rage at the appropriate object – sin and sinful behavior, not sinners. And it’s expressed for the right reason – to defend God’s righteous standards, not to avenge personal grievances. A perfect example of this is Jesus driving the money-changers from the temple because they had turned God’s house into a place for personal profit. (See also Mark 3:1-5).

   Unfortunately, we more often than not, become angry because others fail to give us what we want. They may not give us the full measure of respect we feel we deserve, they may inconvenience us, or they may hurt our feelings. Whatever the cause, our anger often stems from selfish desires, not holy vigilance.  

   So, the Lord is urging us to guard against impure motives and harmful expressions of our anger. In fact, Paul counsels us, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Don’t brood on it or hold a grudge. Understandably, not all conflicts can be resolved before bedtime; sometimes we may need to take a breather in the process of working matters out. The key is to continue to move toward resolving our issues so we aren’t stuck in our anger.

   The danger is, if we string out our conflicts, like our story above, as Daniel Webster realized in the nick of time, we can “give the devil an opportunity” to drive a wedge between us and those who we care about. And the devil will use that wedge to bring divisions into the church, as well as into our personal lives. 

  But God offers us a different way. He has designed the path of freedom to be traveled in peace, by a people (the church) united and empowered by love.

The goal then is a simple one for us to work toward:

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”   Eph. 4:31-32


                                                                               Br. Dennis

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Embracing Where God Has Placed You


Rather than racing into the limelight, we need to accept our roles in the shadows. I’m serious here. Don’t promote yourself. Don’t push yourself to the front. Don’t drop hints. Let someone else do that. Better yet, let God do that.

Today would be a good time to resist going through life and ministry trying to live according to your own understanding—thinking if you can just climb one or two more rungs, you’ll be there. Then you’ll have what you need. Your family will be (what’s that word we like to use?) . . . comfortable. You know what your family needs most? They need you to be right with the Lord. That takes humility . . . especially as pastors.

If God is pleased to expand your ministry, trust me, the word will get out. You’ll be found . . . in God’s time. If you’re necessary for His plan, God will put you in the right place at just the right time. God’s work is not about us. It’s His production, start to finish. So back off. Let Him pull the curtains and turn on the stage lights.

Or He may choose you to be one of the nameless, lesser-known individuals who make the difference for someone else. View either path as a privilege . . . because it is.

Your part, pure and simple: humble yourself. Go there, my friend, and stay there.


The Pastor's Blog: Chuck Swindoll

Monday, July 3, 2023

Trash Day

 The day has finally come, you have been sifting, rearranging, cleaning up and now you have a large pile of trash-which includes broken items, old and outdated, that are no longer usable, items that have been sitting far longer than anticipated and taking up space.

 This day has been a long time coming, and it is amazing to witness and watch how when the day has finally arrived seeing the eagerness to want to get all that trash removed and cleaned up and to finally have this done. It was equally amazing to witness the perplexity of some on the trash day. The same ones who were eager to complete this task, now suddenly started to have second thoughts and wanting to keep the pile of rubbish.                                                                                          

 I could not believe what I was witnessing and hearing, it was at that moment I started thinking about what I have been witnessing on a spiritual level, and I wondered how many of us do this in our spiritual walk with our Lord Jesus, as we grow and mature in our faith walk and commitment to Christ.

When we are walking with the Lord and he points out the things that are rubbish and old and broken items that we are still holding onto from our old lives before we accepted Christ, and even the things that we have collected while walking with the lord that we have picked up along the way, just like children do. 

These items are to be thrown away and we should be eager to do this for the love of Christ. But when that trash day comes, do we toss it immediately or do we keep it?  Are we trying to find some nostalgic memory/feeling towards it to hold on to?  

We know that the Lord is telling us to purge this from our lives, for it has been here long enough, it needs to go. Do we listen or do we hold on? 

 {Apostle Paul tells us in Philippines 3:7-8} “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus My Lord for whom I have suffered the Loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”

 Our Lord also tells us in {Luke 9:62} ”… but Jesus said to him no one after putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

 Let us take Lots wife as an example of desiring the old {worldly goods} the trash/rubbish looking back on Sodom and Gomorrah because she desired the things of the world over the things of God. And she was turned into a pillar of salt. {Genesis 19:17 and 19 :25-26} and Jesus reminds us in {Luke 17 32-33} “Remember Lots wife, whoever ever seeks to keep his life will lose it and who ever loses his life will preserve it.

 Let us remember that there is a spiritual consequence to holding onto the worldly rubbish, and letting our fleshly desire of nostalgia that keeps us desiring what is behind, instead of us always looking forward to desiring the new things in Christ.  

 Every old thing that we hold on to is robbing Christ from filling that space with his spirit.



                                                                                 Br. Steve Hoffner

Monday, May 29, 2023

Squirrels in the Church



    Well you are in luck, for today is a time to laugh!  
So sit back and enjoy the following message, which
was sent in to me by one of our Sister's in Christ.

    Soon you will be saying: THEN OUR MOUTH WAS
And just as Sarah said when
God told her she would have a child at her advanced
age.  You will be saying: "GOD HAS MADE ME LAUGH,
( PSALM  126:2 )  &  ( GENESIS 21:6 )

    A small town had only three Churches in it but they all
suffered with the same problem.  You see, all three had a
serious problem with squirrels getting into the Church.

    Now each Church, in its own fashion, had a meeting to
deal with the problem.

    The first Church congregation decided that it was
predestined that the squirrels be in the Church, and that
they would just have to live with them.

    The Second Church decided they should deal with the
squirrels lovingly . So they humanely trapped them and
released them in a park at the edge of town.  However within
3 days, they had all returned and were all back in the church.

    The Third Church came up with the best solution. They
voted the squirrels in as members.  Now they only see them
at Christmas and Easter.

    The moral of the story is: Don't be a Squirrel, attend your
Church regularly!  (Smile)

God's Minute

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Answer the Charge


wrote with urgency, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1–2). In other words, stick with the preaching plan God has promised to bless and use: preaching the Word. Deliver the biblical goods! Be a man of the Book!

Did you notice something here? This exhortation is not addressed to the hearer; it’s for the speaker. The one who is to obey this command is the one proclaiming the message. That’s you. That’s me. That’s all who are called to stand and deliver.

We’re to be ready to do it in season and out of season. Being ready implies being prepared both mentally and spiritually. Don’t try so hard to be so creative and cute that folks miss the truth. No need for meaningless and silly substitutes for God’s Word. They may entertain but rarely convict the lost or edify the saved. Teach the truth.

In essence, Paul says, “Don’t be lazy. Do your homework. Don’t stand up and start with an apology that you didn’t have adequate time to prepare. That doesn’t wash.” And prepare your work faithfully—when it’s convenient and when it’s not.

Sadly, in an alarming number of churches today, God’s people are being told what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. They are being fed warm milk, not solid meat. A watered-down gospel will attract large crowds (for a while), but it has no eternal impact. I’ve not been able to find any place in the Scriptures where God expresses the least bit of concern for increasing numbers. Satisfying the curious, itching ears of our postmodern audiences is an exercise in futility.

The task of the ministry is to deliver truth. Frankly, I intend to continue doing just that, by God’s grace, until the day He calls me home. I believe that’s your passion as well. That’s why you became a pastor. Thankfully, there is an ever-increasing body of believers who long for nourishing messages based on the Word of God, not human opinion.

Will you answer the charge?

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:19–20 NIV). There is no greater challenge and no more comforting promise. Believe it. Trust it. And by the grace of God, just do it!

I’m right there with you.

The pastor's Blog - Chuck Swindoll