Political Correctness by the Preacher?

Political Correctness by the Preacher?

Over the years, the style of preaching has changed. In recent years, the impact of political correctness has created an atmosphere in many churches today where sin may be dealt with in a generic way but where the clarity of God preaching about the sins of the listeners has almost been removed. Young preachers, and some older ones, would do well to examine the kind of preaching which in the first century “…turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

Politcal Correctness Heston

Truth doesn’t always make you smile.

Have we lost sight of the fact that the preaching in the first century came about because God determined the message, and “they began to speak…as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4)? Jesus’ disciples were told that when they were confronted in the synagogues or brought before authorities, “Do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you should answer, or what you should say” (Luke 12:11-12). Preachers need to study to learn the kind of preaching done when God chose the style of preaching.

Look at how Jesus described the kind of preaching that was done by the Holy Spirit. “He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). When properly understood, the Greek word translated convict shows the kind of preaching God wanted in that day as well as in ours. Barclay says in defining that word, “It is used for the cross-examination of a witness, or a man on trial, or an opponent in an argument. It has always this idea of cross-examining a man until he sees and admits his errors or acknowledges the force of some argument which he had not yet seen.” This concept stands in marked contrast to the use of the sophistry of human wisdom trying to suavely change lives of the listeners without upsetting their souls.

It is the word used to describe the preaching of John the Baptist when he openly confronted adulterous Herod (Luke 3:19). It is the word used to describe the public action God intended for preachers to do when they openly rebuked impenitent elders before the whole church (1 Tim. 5:20). It is used to describe what could happen when an unbeliever comes into the weekly assembly. “If…an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all…so falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you” (1 Cor. 14:24-25).

Yet in our day, we tend to remove the convicting words of the Spirit and replace them with our own ideas. Why would we not bring to the forefront those book, chapter and verse words given so forcefully by God? Have you considered that by not using His word you might be quenching the Spirit?

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Tact: Work on It

Tact: Work on It

A person who is tactful is able to say and do things in a manner which have a lesser chance of offending people.  Some people are absolutely more tactful than others.  All of us have had moments where we could have been more tactful.  Over the years, I certainly have had my tactless moments.  I know as I have aged those moments have become fewer and far between, but I am not immune to a lack of tact.  Christians need to be careful that they are growing in their ability to be tactful.

tact behavior

Consider the impact of what you say and do before you say or do it.

A good brother delivered a fantastic live online lesson on Church History.  The lesson was factual, contained a heart-felt plea for restoration, and was received well by a large audience.  Unfortunately, immediately following the lesson another brother in Christ decided to publicly challenge him on a divisive topic not addressed in the lesson.  The example was poor.  The timing was poor.  No visible benefit was produced.  What was conveyed was insensitive, unconstructive, and tactless.  The good Christian brother with a lack of tact did not increase his influence in reaching others.  Strangers are not more likely to be going to him for Biblical instruction.  Souls will not be won by his actions.  What could have happened?  How could the concern on the questioning brother’s mind have been handled so that it did not reflect negatively on him, other Christians, and the Church as a whole?

Acts 18 discusses a man named Apollos.  Apollos was mighty in the Old Testament scriptures.  He was eloquent.  He spoke about Jesus.  He spoke boldly!  Yet, due to his own ignorance, he shared the truth only in part and not in full.  Two Christians, Aquila and Priscilla listened to his message.  They had concerns.  They could have publicly blasted Apollos in a tactless moment.  They could have shamed their example and the Church.  What they did instead was treat a good brother in Christ with respect and kindness.  Acts 18:26, speaks of them taking Apollos to the side and helping him with the way of God.  That is the art of tact.

Do we think of what we say and do before we do it?  Why not take concerned replies to others into private discussion instead of disgraceful public squabbling?  How often have you read on the internet or on a bumper sticker something to the effect: “I was at Church Sunday, not watching the Big Game”.  How many souls have ever been won by this approach?  How many have been offended and turned away by this attempt to dump of a random bucket of guilt on a stranger’s head?  The Puritans when they came to America would demonstrate how “pious” they were by multiple worship services on Sunday.  When Christians behave with such tactless motive are they simple trying to show how “pious” they are in comparison to others?  I suggest they reevaluate the result.

Christianity is about a relationship with our God.  While the Word of God ultimately may bring offence to many, the manner in which that Word is shared needs to be done with kindness and thoughtfulness.  Consider a few scriptures for further study on tactfulness:  Proverbs 16:24, Ephesians 4:29, I Corinthians 9:19-23.  I implore you, please keep your words under control, sober, and edifying all those with who come within your sphere of influence.

Ephesians 4:15 – “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”




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Scattered and Alone?

Scattered and Alone?

Just shortly before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to His own, and will leave me alone” (John 16:32a). We can all certainly relate to both sides of that statement today can’t we? We have all been scattered, each to his/her own home for the time being, no longer able to enjoy the sweet fellowship and togetherness that we have become so accustomed to, and maybe even taken a little for granted at times over the years. Subsequently, many of us have perhaps even begun to feel very alone due to our physical isolation from one another… But hear Jesus’ next words very clearly: “And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (John 16:32b).

scattered pieces

Scattered and alone? Or Scattered but One?

Jesus, going into the worst and most horrific event of His entire existence, knew, and took total peace and comfort in the fact, that even if no one else He loved could/would be there with Him, that His heavenly Father was with Him. Jesus was dying to have you and I be able to enjoy that same level of divine peace and comfort, even in the worst of our worldly tribulations: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

When you factor in that God would soon, however, be forced to abandon Jesus because of our sins upon Him (Matthew 27:46); but how that God has promised never to forsake His faithful and forgiven children in Christ (Hebrews 13:5) because of the righteousness of God upon/within them (2 Corinthians 5:17), shouldn’t that therefore, enable and empower us to have even more peace and comfort than Jesus did that evening… even though we, too, may be scattered, and/or otherwise alone? It surely should! And so, go forward and rejoice today my beloved brethren, knowing that God is with you (Psalm 118:15-29, and particularly verse 24)!

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Complaining and Discontentment

Complaining and Discontentment  Ruin Your Heart

For more than fifteen years I have challenged parents to find more time to study God’s Word and train up their children. Oftentimes, I was met with the excuse: “We just don’t have enough time.” For decades, spiritual growth often took a back seat to ball practice, band practice, school plays, or some school club. Parents frequently served as glorified taxi-drivers, chauffeuring their children from one activity to the next.

complaining behavior

Are you characterized by complaining, discontentment, or grumbling?

And then came the coronavirus—and in the blink of an eye we all discovered that we had more free time. Suddenly, our transient lifestyles hit a major roadblock as more and more states began enforcing “Shelter at home” statutes. No more ball practice. School plays were canceled. Even graduation plans have been put on hold, as our nation now watches and waits to see how long this thing will last.

At first, most families enjoyed the break. It was almost like we had been given an extended weekend vacation. But once the newness of “social distancing” wore off, it became tiresome for many. How much longer would we have to endure? Why can’t grocery stores restock flour and toilet paper? How am I supposed to work with the kids at home? Why isn’t Netflix offering everything for free? Why can’t the government get their act together and help fix this mess?

What has been our response to this unsettling time? While there have been some beautiful demonstrations of love and Christianity, one common thread that is woven throughout many social media posts is grumbling and complaining. We don’t like not knowing the future. We don’t like not being able to do all the things we used to do. We don’t like not being able to hug our friends. We don’t like what this is doing to the economy. We don’t like what this is doing to our jobs. We don’t like how certain political parties are handling this. We don’t like…and the list could go on for days.

An honest evaluation reveals that we sound like the Israelites—a people who knew God but didn’t take long to start complaining. In Exodus 14 we find God delivering them safely through the Red Sea. One chapter later, in Exodus 15:24, they are already complaining, “What shall we drink?” They complained about food. They complained about water. They complained that their enemies would crush them. They complained about Moses. Think about that for a moment. God had revealed Himself to them, saved them, and yet—they complained.

According to Deuteronomy 1:2 it is only an eleven-day journey from “Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea.” Eleven days. But because of their lack of faithfulness, unbelief, and complaining they would end up spending the next 40 years walking in the wilderness. “So the Lord’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone” (Numbers 32:13).

According to Numbers 33 the children of Israel encamped at 42 different places from the time they left Egypt until they were on the brink of the Jordan River. A conservative estimate reveals that about one million people died in the wilderness. That means every day on average 68 people would die…2-3 per hour.

The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us why these people were cursed. “Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:17-19). Why were they cursed? According to Scripture it was because of unbelief. They had seen the power of God and yet, they still did not have faith.

We claim to believe in Him today—and yet, we complain. We are discontented. We seek something else rather than finding our solace in Him. We would all do well to heed the warning given in the very next chapter of Hebrews. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”

God had saved them, and yet they still complained, grumbled, were disobedient, and were full of unbelief. Think about it: Almost two years from Egypt and walking around Mt. Sinai wasn’t enough to teach them humility and dependence on God. God says that even though they saw His glory and the signs in Egypt and in the wilderness of Mt. Sinai these people continued to test Him time after time with their grumbling and did not hearken to His voice or rest in His power. The implication is the wilderness wandering was to humble the people.

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
(Deuteronomy 8:2).

So the 40 years in the wilderness was a lesson about humility, obedience, and dependence on Him. It was about revealing their heart. What is your heart revealing during this trying time? Are you content in Him? Are you looking for ways to bless others. Or are you restless and complaining? Let me encourage you, take some time to find rest in Him!

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Don’t Take It Personal

Don’t Take it Personal

Have you ever felt like you just cared too much? Sometimes we do better when we are disinterested in than when we deeply care. Why? This is an emotional phenomenon known as attachment: when we identify with it to the point of ownership.We take everything said or done about the subject “personally.” If a decision is made against our desires, it deeply offends us, and we find ourselves obsessing. Instead, we need to be detached understanding that we can still care without letting it become personal.

personal control

Taking it personal? Remember, you never were in control.

Something like this happened to Samuel when the Israelites asked him for a king. First Samuel 8:6-7 says, “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.’” God’s response teaches us a couple of things. First, we should not be so upset over losing something that we get depressed about it. Christians must rejoice in the Lord (Phil.4:4) and let Christ’s joy remain in us (John 14:11). We can’t do that if we allow earthly defeats to push out our joy. Second, God wants us to remember that all things belong to Him. Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” There is nothing that I truly possess in this life; it all belongs to God. I can never really lose anything, and there’s no reason for me to “take things personally.” Rejoice always because God is in control.


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