Posts Tagged "evil"

Surprised by Kindness – Cassi Piper

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Surprised by Kindness – Cassi Piper

My heart was recently touched by the kindness of a stranger. I had traveled almost an hour one afternoon to attend the funeral of a good friend’s mom. In tow I had all four of my children, ages eight down to 15 months. About thirty minutes into the drive I realized I had not given my third oldest his medicine to prevent car sickness. Shortly thereafter he threw up in the back of my van. Needless to say by the time we reached the service I was a little harried!

After a quick cleanup of the van we entered the church and was greeted by the funeral director. He took one look at me and my crew and pointed me towards the nursery they had made available to little ones during the service. My kids took one look at that unfamiliar room with new faces and clung to my legs. With a sigh I headed to the sanctuary where the funeral had already begun. Peering through the doors I could tell it was a packed house.

While contemplating where to sit I heard a shuffle behind me. The funeral director had grabbed some extra chairs from the lobby and was headed into the sanctuary. Several trips later he had created an extra row in the back just for us. Grateful, I quietly thanked him and we all took a seat.

About ten minutes later my youngest started to squirm in his stroller next to me. I pulled him out and held him in hopes that he would remain quiet.  Those were soon dashed as he began babbling quite excitedly. I was about to get up to take him to the lobby when I spotted the funeral director headed my way. Oh no, I thought. Here he comes to tell me that we are being too loud. To my surprise however, when he reached my chair he kneeled down and gently offered to take my son so I could stay in the service. When I told him that I didn’t think my son would go to him he then offered to sit with my three oldest children so I could take the baby for a walk.  Sure enough, after I had left my seat he took my place and began quietly joking with my kids.

Knowing they were not alone I was able to pace in the lobby with the baby while listening to the service. Periodically I would peek through the sanctuary doors to make sure the older kids were behaving themselves. Not only did they sit quietly throughout the entire service, but time and again I saw the funeral director answering their questions and patting their heads in affirmation of how good they were being. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to have someone be so thoughtful. After the service the director again approached me and asked if he could give the kids a sucker for behaving so well. I appreciated the gesture and my kids eagerly took the candy from their new friend.

In Hebrews we are exhorted to “… not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV) Now I am by no means claiming to be an angel, but I am thankful that the director of the funeral that day took this passage to heart. Through several small acts of kindness he allowed me to be present in support of a dear friend in the midst of her grief. For that I am very grateful.

I believe that God gives each of us an abundance of opportunities to be kind to one another. From sharing an encouraging word, to displaying patience, to offering prayer or financial support, as Christians we are called to reach out in love to those who cross our path. It is my prayer and challenge to us this week to intentionally look for ways we can be of loving service to others we may not know. In doing so we may or may not show hospitality to an angel, but I do know that we just might make someone’s day while exemplifying Christ’s love.

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Vow to take an Oath – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Vow to take an Oath – Pastor Matt

Jesus says in Matthew 5, that we should not make vows or oaths either by heaven, God, earth or ourselves.   Jesus continues to say, “All you need to say is simply, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

What is the purpose of a vow or oath?  It is to give validity to what is being spoken.  But here is the problem.  Unless you are in a court of law, a vow or oath is spoken because credibility is in question.  So the purpose of a vow or oath is to basically manipulate another person.  If one cannot be believed, a vow is simply a way to make one more believable.

Jesus says no.  If you cannot be trusted by your yes or no, you have a truth problem.  If you feel the need to swear by something—a stack of Bibles, your Mother, God, your goldfish—perhaps that is an indication of a lack of trustworthiness.

Jesus goes on to say that anything beyond a yes or no is from Satan.  Strong words you might say.  But a swear, vow or oath is nothing more than a way to deceive however subtle.  When deception is used Satan is around.

As I write this I’m keenly aware of my own flippant use of swears, vows and oaths.  When I am confronted by my own sin, often times I want to protect myself from the pain I have already caused.  So I project truthfulness, I lie.

We compound sin.  This is why Satan is close, because not only does he want us to sin, he wants us to suffer for it.  But as Christians, we fight our sinful inclinations, by bringing truth.  We light a lamp in all the corners of our homes.  We shed light on every part of us.  So even if we have made vows or oaths in the past, we now put away those evil tools and bring light wherever we go, even if it hurts in the moment.

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Everyone Knows Evil – Pastor Matt

Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Everyone Knows Evil – Pastor Matt

Everyone knows evil.  We can sense it like the coming of a thunderstorm.  From the avowed religious to the strict materialist, we all know evil is part of our world.

Now our culture has a difficult time in defining what-is-wrong-with-the-world (evil); thus, our definitions of evil range from poor education to nationalism to economics to chauvinism to anything we want.

As Christians we affirm that any one of these isms or societal problems can lend itself to terrible evil; however, focus on any one as the “true” or “source” of evil is to reduce evil to a group or an idea.  The problem with reducing evil to a group or an idea is to absolve oneself from any participation in evil; just because we can see the splinter in someone’s eye, doesn’t mean we don’t have a plank in our own.

Our culture is obsessed with finding evil in the world.  We hear it on the radio and watch it on the TV.  Evil is so often reduced to “that other group that doesn’t agree with us.”

On the other hand, Jesus teaches that evil is found within each of us, not just in ideas or other people.  He teaches that evil can be found in our own hearts; we are broken people who so often choose our own good over the good of others.

Jesus doesn’t stop there.  Evil is also the handiwork of Satan and his demons.  Our culture mocks the idea of a malevolent spiritual force, yet Jesus affirms that Satan exists and will be judged.

The Christian world-view expresses that evil is both the darkness in our own hearts, and the work of Satan and his demons.  This is important because we cannot express how to fix the problem of evil without a true definition of evil.  If the Christian definition of evil is correct, our framework for evil must change.  We no longer battle against people, but against Satan who is the ruler of this age.  We no longer define groups as evil, but rather see them as broken (like us), and in need of the power of Christ’s love.

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Are All Religions the Same? – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Are All Religions the Same? – Pastor Matt

Are all Religions the Same?

This is a question that is raised all the time, because there are universal similarities to all religions.  In essence, all religions claim to have an answer/solution to THE big problem: evil.  Of course, there isn’t consensus to the definition of evil and thus no consensus to the answer/solution.  To illustrate, modern politicians seek to address issues like poverty, yet there is no consensus on the causes of poverty; therefore, there is no consensus on how to best approach the issue.  One wouldn’t then say all proposed solutions would solve the problem equally.  There are better ways and worse ways to address poverty.

Raising the question about the “sameness” of religions shows that there is at least a consensus about the existence of a problem.  Religions agree that there is something wrong with this world, even if they don’t agree as to what.  That only proves there is a problem.

If one concludes that all religions are the same, it would essentially minimize the meaning of all religions.  If all religions are the same they essentially are nothing and mean nothing.   It’s like playing a game of Trivial Pursuit and instead of earning wedges by answering questions correctly, you earn wedges by listening to questions being read.

If every proposed solution to end poverty garners the same results, then why propose a solution in the first place?  If we truly believed that, we would have to believe that poverty isn’t real.  But poverty is real, whether we do anything about it or not.  So, if we truly believed that all answers/solutions to the problem of evil garners the same results, then there must not be a problem of evil.  Most of us, however, know deep in our hearts that evil is real.  Responding to that evil is where it gets interesting.

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Why Did It Have to be Snakes? – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Mar 19, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Why Did It Have to be Snakes? – Pastor Matt

Imagine a doctor who refused to help a sick child simply because the child could not pay.  You would say that the doctor was not living a life in keeping with his calling.  We would all hope that doctors are more concerned for people than money.  If a pastor were more concerned with raising money than for his people, he would not be living a life in keeping with his calling.

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is baptizing people in repentance.  In other words, John was calling people to be different.  To repent means to turn away from sin.  One cannot repent unless they are utterly changed from their core.  Repentance means you are a different person.  Repentance affects every area of your life.  It would be the difference between someone who is dreaming about being a doctor and someone who is a doctor.

So believers are called to be repentant.  And being repentant stipulates a change in character.  Like the doctor who spends his own money to go to Africa to help sick children, we are repentant.  Our repentance affects every area of our lives.  We no longer are bottom-line thinkers, but consider others first.  We aren’t concerned for prestige but we are humble.  And the proof of our repentance is our fruit; meaning, what we do on the outside is a reflection of our repentance inside.

John calls those who are unrepentant a “brood of vipers”, because they are callous and evil.  They are doctors who are “in-it” only for the money and the pastors who are only concerned with being esteemed.  We repent, because we know we can be full of evil.  We repent because we too were vipers, but we have received the power of God to change our inside and outside.

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