Cannibalism in the Church

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I am writing today from beautiful Florida.

The other night I tried a new restaurant, and the food was horrible! It actually made me sick. So I got a to-go box and took it home so I could chew on it for several days and share it with my friends.

Sound crazy? Of course it is. Thankfully my story never actually happened. I just wanted to illustrate how foolish it is for us to keep dwelling (chewing) on negative experiences and sharing them with our friends. Sometimes we feel we have been offended and we share the painful experience over and over with out friends. Sometimes we want them to validate our negative feelings. However whenever our friends justify our hurts and feelings of being offended, they are encouraging us to walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit. Sometimes we share the bitter experience to turn our friends against the person who hurt us. This is when we start tinkering with Cannibalism.

My brethren, clear your souls before God. Cease your criticizing and fault-finding. Satan will keep you at this till the Lord comes, if he can. He knows that thus he can most effectually hinder the Lord’s work. Backbiting is cannibalism. -Ellen White, General Conference Bulletin, April 2, 1903

When the serpent tempted Eve, he started off with a very subtle slander.

“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”Genesis 3:1 NKJV

Notice he forms the insinuation as a question. Not accusatory. Maybe even “sincerely” seeking for clarification, but the idea is now thrown out there that God is restrictive and holding good things back from us. 2 Corinthians 2:11 says we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices, and of course we are not. We even use his devices! Gossipers and slanderers in the church will often start off very subtly, hoping to gain an ear. Once they have that ear, they turn from subtle hints to outright slander just like the serpent did with Eve.

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;  but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. Genesis 3:2-4 NKJV

Now the serpent has called God a liar! He started off subtly to gain an audience. Now that he has captured his audience, he has moved into outright slander! There are predators who groom entire congregations by sweet-talking them and buttering them up, even lending a helping hand whenever needed. Then they will subtly point out that they are helping the congregation more than anyone else. After their sweet talk and “good deeds” they insinuate that they deserve your loyalty more than the pastor, since after all, they have helped you more than the pastor, haven’t they? Then they begin to slander the pastor and usurp his influence. And you owe them your loyalty, because, after all, they have helped you so much with all their “kindness” and “encouraging” words. Absalom, in 2 Samuel 15:2-6, is an excellent example of grooming people, pretending to have their interest at heart, when in reality just wanting to promote self.

Jesus has a cure for slandering, gossiping and backbiting. It is the exact opposite of those things.

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. Luke 6:27-31 NKJV

Paul adds,

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14 NKJV

Peter describes Satan as a lion looking for someone to devour with his mouth. When we gossip and slander others we too are like the lion looking for someone to devour with our mouth. This is cannibalism. Revelation 16:13 talks about three unclean spirits like frogs. Frogs catch their prey with their tongues. When we gossip about someone are we trying to catch our victim with our tongue? When we gossip are we practicing Satan’s device? In Genesis 3:1 the NKJV says the serpent was “cunning.” The KJV says he was “Subtle.” The NIV says he was “crafty.” Satan is too cunning, subtle and crafty to just walk up to you and invite you to practice cannibalism. So what does he do? He relabels it “white lies” and “gossip.” Or even more benign than that, he will label it “just venting to a friend.” Remember, when a friend validates your feelings of being offended and wronged, he is encouraging you to walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit. Love keeps no record of being wronged. (1 Corinthians 13:5 NLT)

2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us we are aware of Satan’s devices. This means we are not supposed to use them ourselves in the church! Subtle and outright slander, lying and cursing are all Satanic tactics and should not be practiced by Christians. As Seventh-day Adventists preparing for translation, let’s remember the seal of God is not just about the Sabbath. There will be many in heaven who kept Sunday and many who kept Saturday, but there won’t be anybody in heaven who made a practice of slandering. I personally fear more people will be excluded from the 144,000 over gossip and slander issues than Sabbath issues. John says the 144,00 have no guile in their mouths. (Revelation 14:5 KJV) Google “guile meaning” and you will find, “cunning,” “craft,” etc. basically all the things that make up gossip and cannibalism.

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Psalm 15:1-3 NLT

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

What is Jesus Saying About you?

Heron Channelside (5)

Journalling through Revelation here in the Tampa Bay area.

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5 NKJV

I’m concerned about what Jesus is saying about me before the Father and the angels. What people are saying about me? Not so much.

Study Revelation here. 

Revelation 3; What Does Jesus Say About You?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Revelation 3:5 

Your name rolling off the lips of Jesus before the throne of God! What an awesome thought! It is always pleasant to overhear someone giving us a compliment. The other day at work one of the executives told me that my boss had praised my work in a committee meeting. It made me feel really good about myself. It’s always nice to hear that we are well spoken of, yet I cannot think of anything more thrilling than to know that Jesus is ”bragging” about me to His Father! 

Fact is here on earth there will always be some people mentioning our names in a good light and then others mentioning our names in a bad light. Instead of worrying about what people are saying about us here on earth, our concern should be, what is Jesus saying about us before His Father, that is all that matters. 

Remember, while folks on earth discuss your reputation, The Son and father in heaven discuss your character, and it is not our reputation, but our character that we take to heaven. 

What will Jesus have to say about you today?

Luke 20; Spies Who Dress Like Sheep But Really Are Wolves

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke  20:19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them. 

 20:20    And they watched [him], and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. 

Do you believe Satan uses these same tactics today? You better believe he does! He will use wolves in sheep clothing who pretend to be sincere, to get you to open up to them so that they can report what you have said, and hopefully twist your words and malign your motives to destroy the work you are doing for God.

While it is true that no weapon formed against God’s people can prosper, and that the enemies of truth can do nothing but advance the truth, Satan and his spies can still cause some headaches along the way. This is why Jesus warns us, “Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Luke 12:3    And remember Jesus said that before there were cell phones and Facebook! Solomon in his wisdom advises, “ Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” Ecclesiastes 10:20

  The last time I performed a baptism at church, when I changed into my robe, I did not want to leave my wallet with my clothes, so I gave it a friend to watch for me. While I would never dream of anyone in the church taking my money, there was still only a handful of people I felt comfortable leaving my wallet with. While I assume many are trustworthy, there are very few that I will put in a position where they need to prove they are trustworthy. Many of us have friends all over the country. If we must talk about a problem that is sensitive and needs secrecy, it may be best to share it with a friend who is way outside the picture rather than one who is close by. They will have less opportunity to let it slip to the wrong people, and they may even be able to give us a better neutral objective view point on the issue. Of course we have a friend in Jesus, who we can trust with all our secrets, and in reality He is the only one who can help us anyway. Also remember, evil spies cannot twist words that were never spoken.

Matthew 18; When is it a Good Idea Not To Follow Bible Counsel?

I am re-sharing this post while golfing and seeing friends and family in Texas and Tennessee. I took this picture in Fort Worth on Tuesday, December 20, 2011.

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.  Matthew 18:15-17

 

This counsel rarely ever gets followed. How much better our world and church would be if people would follow this counsel from Jesus. Here is what I have seen happen too often. Someone actually tries to follow this counsel, but when they go to step 2 and get a brother to go along, the brother perceives it as gossip and does not want to meddle in the situation even though this is exactly what Jesus says to do. Or, instead of the third party being neutral, they get an ear load from one side and go into the meeting very biased. And even more sadly, I have talked with church leaders who passed judgment on another member without ever hearing their side of the story or going to them personally first, and they clearly admitted they did not follow the counsel of Matthew 18 because they already had all the evidence without needing to follow Matthew 18. What? You don’t need to follow Bible counsel because you already have the full scoop? Since when was following the Bible optional? Apparently it happens all the time. This to me is the most sad situation of the three, because the people not following Matthew 18 know they are not following it and don’t care, but still think they are fit to be church leaders while intentionally ignoring Bible counsel.

 

Before many churches can heal and move forward in proclaiming the gospel, they need to make sure they are following the gospel themselves. We need to make sure we follow Matthew 18 when a problem arises and go to our brother one on one without anyone else knowing. Most problems can be resolved at step one. If not, then step two means we should take along another party who can hear both sides of the story at the same time, and not get an ear full from one side before they even get to talk to the other side. This is stacking the deck in ones favor, very easy for humans to do, but with God’s grace we can avoid this temptation especially if we are honestly wanting truth to win. Thirdly take it to the church. At this point the church should not be afraid to handle the matter. It is not gossip at this point, it is Bible counsel. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul tells the church it will be judging angels and needs to be judging its own issues.

 

When we reject Bible counsel everyone loses. When we follow Bible counsel there is redemption for all.

Mark 15; When Silence is Golden

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Mark 15:13 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.

A few weeks ago someone publicly made false accusations against me. I said nothing. Later I thought about saying something to defend myself, but a friend stopped me before I had a chance and explained to me that if I defended myself against the accusation, I would just be giving the accusation merit. I am so glad I listened to this friend, because I found out later that hardly anybody was really paying attention when the persona made the accusation any way, and those who heard it knew better than to believe it. I realized, the only person who gave it any mind was me, and once I let it go it was gone! When someone makes a false accusation about you just be glad it’s a false accusation. Jesus got those all the time too. On Friday night, Satan thought He had made such a spectacle of humiliation of Jesus on the cross that He would never show His face again, but the following Sunday everyone was worshiping Him again. False accusations did not stop Jesus and they should not stop us from doing good either. Just remember, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17  I have found this to be very true!

Matthew 16; Good Questions

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:13-16

 

After Jesus asks the disciples what everyone else thought about Him, He asks them what they thought about Him. Often we are tempted to wonder what others think about us, when we should be asking Jesus what He thinks about us. In Revelation 3:5 Jesus says if we are overcomers through Him, He will confess our name before the Father. Isn’t that an amazing thought; Your name rolling off the tongue of the Son of God before the Father on His throne! Shouldn’t our thoughts be centered on what Jesus is saying about us and not man? When wondering what others say about us, shouldn’t we turn and ask Jesus the same question He asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”

 

I heard the title of a book that I have never got to read yet, but I think just the title says it all. The book is titled, “What you think of me is none of my business.” Really that is true. Let people think what they want. There are millions of opinions flying through the atmosphere about a million different things.  The only Person whose opinion matters is Jesus. What Jesus thinks about me is my business. What others think about me is none of my business.