A Little Cheese With That Whine? – by Pastor Greg

Ever wonder why the tone of a child’s voice when they are whining just seems to find that last nerve? Have you ever met a “Debbie downer”?  Both statements conjure up images that are not pleasant. Complaining is a part of our experience, we all have engaged in it from time to time. It seems so natural that when things don’t go as we wish, we express our dissatisfaction verbally. Complaining is described as expressing discontentment or dissatisfaction. Most of us complain much more than we realize or are willing to admit. We verbalize our discontent or dissatisfaction almost daily and we usually involve others. I ran across an interesting study on complaining from a psychology article.

 “Research from Stanford University has also found that complaining reduces the size of our hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and problem solving. The study found that engaging in complaining or simply hearing someone complain for more than 30 minutes could physically damage our brains.”  (www.m1psychology.com/complaining-is-bad-for-your-brain)

Seems that complaining is bad for you and others, yet we still do it. In fact, we seem to be drawn to it. Entire industries are dedicated to expressing dissatisfaction or discontentment. Much of what is broadcast on the “news” channels are complaints of various kinds and the in-depth analysis as to why. I wonder if all the negative commentary that is broadcast on news channels were removed, how much news would be left? I would be willing to bet not very much. Complaining has been turned into a spectator sport and business is good! So much time is spent on verbizing why we are discontent or dissatisfied, that there never seems to be time to think about anything else. 

In Philippians 2:14, Paul writes, “Do all things without grumbling (complaining) or disputing (arguing).” The context is Paul’s admonition to be like Christ. To live as He lived, think as He thought, have the attitudes He did. When one looks at the life of Christ, we see a Man who did not grumble, complain, dispute or argue. He lived a life of humility and contentment, dependent on the Father. He was above reproach in all He did.  We too are to live like that. When I live life without the complaining, murmuring, grumbling and arguing, my life will be clean and innocent according to Paul. Now that doesn’t mean not speaking the truth or speaking against that which is wrong or evil, but it does mean I live a contented life regardless of my circumstances. In verse 13, Paul states “for it is God working in you giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.” My focus is to please God rather than myself. My complaints often are related to my own desires and wants that are unfulfilled and show a discontentment with God’s work in my life. Paul later in the letter states that he had to learn how to be content with his circumstances, whether he had an abundance or didn’t have enough. The lesson learned for him was, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”  (Phil. 4:13). His circumstances were not the key – it was the life of Christ in him that changed his attitude. Paul took his own advice at the end of 2:14 and didn’t argue with God. He simply accepted what God had provided even as he made his needs known. Instead of arguing with God that he deserved better, Paul trusted Him who had his best interest at heart.

So instead of complaining and getting brain damage, why don’t I trust and live contentedly? Why not shine brightly amongst a crooked generation by living a clean and innocent life without the stain of grumbling, complaining and arguing. 

Don’t Say It – Pastor John

An excerpt from our chronological Bible reading this past week:

Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD.  Jeremiah 1:4-8 (NASB)

We live in a world awash with the profusion of words. The value is to talk, though often there’s no depth to match length in speech. Politics, “news” and social media are noisy specimens. Yes, you note I did not include sermons in my examples.

You may recall a time when the value was in words few and measured, with weighty thought behind them, chosen to persuade and effect change. The shift today is value in a torrent of words, and cleverness or crudeness of phrases. The goal is not to dialogue, but to “cancel” detractors, and embolden minions holding to the “correct” view. Attacks shift to personal levels, and every perceived slight is amplified through a flood of rhetoric, designed for reaction, not reason.

So here we are. And this is the world our children inherit.

Jeremiah was certain his place was to be silent, and offered his youthful inexperience as his hall pass. The Lord counseled him with some truths that we might be sure to pass to our children, as we also live them out ourselves.

The Lord informed Jeremiah that He was sending him, and obedience was not optional. It is a good reminder that God has divine appointments for us in our days, and we are to respond to the Lord’s direction for us. Think of Noah, Abram, Moses, Jonah, the Prophets, the Disciples, Paul…

The power behind the words we speak will be from the Lord. That implies we are listening to and allowing Him to form us, in thought, deed and word. “I think” is not as weighty as, “The Lord tells us.” I know this from experience. Are we teaching our children of the importance to listen to God (in His Word, prayer, godly counsel) and then unapologetically communicating what He reveals to us?

The fear of man is a warning throughout scripture. When we walk with our Lord, and are used of Him in situations easy or stressful, we can leave the outcomes to Him as well. Our deliverance is already secured through the power of the Risen Christ, and what have we to fear, whether standing before paupers or kings?

A great example of this truth in life is found in Acts 3 and 4, where Peter and John are hauled before the authorities to give account. Their response, and the response of the believers (at 4:23 and forward) is something worth reading carefully and discussing fully with your family.

There would be more I might share, but I’ll take my own medicine, and refrain from talking further at this time…

What a Shame – Pastor Greg

Jeremiah 6:15  Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord.

Romans 1:32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Edgar Allen Poe. Ever read any of his short stories? One that stands out is called the “Tell Tale Heart” – a story of a man who kills his roommate and buries him under the floorboards. The crime is perfect and he is sure to get away with it, but for one thing. He begins to hallucinate that he can hear the man’s heart beating and it drives him to confess! The point of the story is how one’s conscience, even a crazy one, will motivate people to change behavior. I am sure that all of us can remember when we did something wrong and were miserable until we confessed. That is our conscience working as it should. It is something that God has given to us. We see the first example of this when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and immediately realized they were naked and ashamed. They tried to cover and hide. 

The conscience is an immaterial part of all people that either excuses or accuses the correctness of our behavior. Its function is like that of an umpire in a game. The umpire does not determine what is wrong or right, but takes his cues from an outside source such as the rule book. So if the rules are changed, so will the umpire’s response, based on what is acceptable or not. So it is with our conscience. It takes its cues from an outside source, be that society, legislation or God’s word. If any of those codes of conduct change then the conscience will adapt to what is now acceptable or not. Paul describes the conscience this way in Romans 2:15: “For when Gentiles who do not have the law do instinctively the things of the Law these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.” Even unbelievers who do not have the clear declaration of God’s law understand the concept of right and wrong, even if those definitions are twisted.

Going back to Poe’s story, the crime of murder was clearly understood to be a wrong thing to do. In 1843 when the story was written, murder was a capital offense and was a shocking event when it took place. Not only was it a crime legally, but it was also understood from God’s word that only God or designated human authority had the right to take a life. This clear declaration both legally and morally had been absorbed by the conscience of the murder and manifested itself in the sound of a beating heart that drove him to confess to his heinous crime! 

But our conscience can be adjusted or seared. The more sin is redefined as less than sinful, the more that good is declared to be wrong our conscience will adjust to the new input and accuse or defend accordingly. Paul shares in I Tim. 4 that in the later times some will fall away from the faith by believing deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons and that by saying one thing but doing another their consciences are seared. Ever sear meat? It’s done to seal in the juices, it creates a barrier on the outside. So it is with our conscience, we can say one thing and then live another way, and by doing so we slowly sear our conscience and make it less sensitive to the truth. Our culture does not know how to blush anymore. It is hardened to the truth of God’s word and rejects it outright. So the things that once caused us as a society to blush no longer have an effect and in reality are applauded.

What about you and me? Are there things that we used to be bothered by, but now we don’t really notice? Can we say we are more sensitive to the things that God cares about or less sensitive? As the world becomes harder and harder are we allowing the tenderizing of the Word to influence our hearts? I have to say that I need the reminder to keep faith and a good conscience (I Tim 1:19a). It takes effort and I need to adjust my thinking to the truth rather than allow the culture to adjust my thinking to it. So, does our conscience bother us? Do some things cause you to blush? Good. Ask why and seek the truth.