Refusing to Back Down: What it Really Means to Speak the Truth “In Love”

Refusing to Back Down: What it Really Means to Speak the Truth “In Love”

On the heels of yet another heated political debate the tweets, status updates, and blogs are running full steam. I would certainly be no exception to this. On the other hand, though, there are many Christians who feel it is offensive to openly talk about their political views or their beliefs on touchy subjects such as homosexuality and abortion. This proverbial “duct tape” silences many well-meaning believers, especially in the world of writing, where platforms and likeability are ranked high on the author’s list of things to succeed in.

No doubt, this is a controversial topic. To speak or not to speak: that is essentially the question. For me the answer came in the form of another question. Do I care so much about getting “likes”, “follows”, and “subscribers” to build my platform that I keep quiet about such topics? What is more important, speaking the truth or being liked?

I live in a state where people have been arrested for holding Bible studies in their homes. Refusing to allow and even prosecuting such acts of religious expression is becoming more common in today’s world. Am I to look the other way when things like, say, who will become the next president would directly affect issues of religious freedom? I’m not convinced that speaking the truth “in love” or having my words “seasoned with salt” means to keep silent. But let’s look at the Bible– because I am human and maybe I am wrong. If so, I want to allow God to correct me and keep me on His path to truth.

First of all we have Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount. The things Jesus said were highly offensive, especially to the Pharisees who were the most “spiritual” people of that time. They knew how to follow all of the rules and live about as perfect as a sinful person could possibly live. But Jesus wasn’t impressed because He saw their hearts. He called them out on their hypocrisy and warned the crowds of listeners not to be like them. I really can’t think of anything more offensive then calling someone out in front of other people, pointing out their faults, and warning the audience not to be like them! But—Jesus was, well, Jesus! As God living and breathing in a human body, He had the right and lived the life to back up His words of truth. I don’t have that luxury. I’m not perfect, I am not God. I cannot see someone’s heart, so publicly calling someone out is probably not a form of expression God has called me to partake in. (And under this light, I am aware of some instances where I have sinned in this area.)

But then we come to Paul. Now, the Colossian Church had become infiltrated with false teachers, and Paul, led by the Spirit of God, stepped in and spoke up about a controversial topic: false teaching. In this same letter to the church he says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)” Several verses in the Bible have been taken out of context to support erroneous practices, and this is probably no exception. It has been used over and over again as an admonition to keep quiet about important issues. In the context of the passage, however, that is absolutely not what Paul is saying. In fact, in the previous three chapters Paul warns the church about following the philosophies of man and the patterns of the world (2:8) while at the same time pointing the congregation to the Solution to their problems (2:9-3:1). Now that is what it means to speak the truth with love and grace.

The difference between condescending pious gibberish and sincere warning in the nature of love and concern come out of a sincere heart focused on the One who has given abundant life as well as freedom from the bondage of evil entanglements.

So what does all of this mean? As Christians we have a responsibility to speak the truth, to always be ready with an answer for the hope that dwells within us. When I stand up and say why I believe one candidate it a better choice for America, I am doing so out of love for my country and the people in it. I do not want to see our religious rights taken away. I want to be able, for instance, to hold a Bible study in my home without fear of retaliation. If one candidate can provide that, then I am going to talk about it. In the same regard, if one candidate is clearly supportive of the dangerous deception that a “woman’s right to choose” or a woman’s right to kill her baby is more important than the life growing inside that woman, as a Christian I have a moral responsibility to speak up for the unborn who cannot speak for themselves. I haven’t always done this, and I live every day with the regret of my silence and what became of a situation where I refused to speak. Never again will I make that mistake.

I think an important distinction in all of this is the delivery used to convey our messages. Are we saying things like, “If you vote for so and so you’re an evil demon of darkness” or are we saying, “I believe so and so is a better candidate because…” One of these expresses a view with respect and dignity while the other bashes on those who would hold a different opinion. I can’t find any example where Paul put down the character of another believer because of the choices they were making, no matter how poor those choices might have been. Instead, I see a great man of God who desperately wanted people to understand the truth, and understand where the truth comes from—Jesus. Paul always, always, always pointed people to Christ. I know I have failed in this area many times (and I confess it to God), but that is my ultimate goal in all I say and do.

I will not apologize for my views because they stem from personal convictions. On the other hand, I want to keep me speech grace-full, making sure to avoid name-calling and character bashing of those who would disagree with me. In the end, for me, I feel it is more important to be real with people rather than sensor my beliefs in the name of “likeability”. Do I want to be a successful author with a large platform to reach others with the message of Hope? Of course I do! But I will not compromise the truth in the form of silence. This is a critical time for our country, and we cannot afford to exchange silence for popularity. Yes, I want to have integrity in all I say and do, especially in a public outlet. But I also want people to know I am a real person, with real struggles, real opinions, and real convictions. Maybe I’ll lose a few “fans” along the way, but ultimately I will be the only one held accountable for my choices. In that regard, God’s opinion of my words and actions are all that really matters.

How about you? Have you experienced backlash in your efforts to speak the truth in love? How has God used your experiences in approaching touchy subjects to teach you how to speak in a grace-full way? Have you every failed in this area of “seasoned” speech? Do you feel it’s more important to convey a certain public “persona” then it is to convey your personal convictions? I look forward to your responses and hope to learn from what God has taught you through your experiences.

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A Jesus Diet?

I didn’t grow up in a “fasting” household. I knew about fasting, but had never seen anyone practice it, much less preach about it. As an adult I’ve only been led to fast a handful of times, once for 3 days, and all the other times for only a day. A few days ago a friend of mine posted a link on her Facebook page to this site: www.40daystosaveamerica.com and I clicked on it. Immediately God impressed upon me the desire to do a 40 day fast while not only praying for our nation before the elections, but seeking a personal spirit of revival and repentance.

No matter what comes of the elections, or what side of the street we stand on concerning politics, I think we can all agree that the world needs revival—Christians need revival. This is something we can all be praying for in our own hearts and the hearts of our brothers and sisters.

Not everyone will be called to do a 40 day fast, and many will feel led to give up something other than food. I know some who are doing a Facebook fast, a coffee fast, or giving up other things and exchanging those wants for prayer. Fasting or not, earnest, sincere prayer is essential for the Christian.

And just in case I was feeling like maybe I heard God’s voice wrong (or even hoping I heard wrong!), I received the following devotional in my email this morning, which happens to be day #1 of my fast. It spoke directly to me, and I know you’ll be blessed by it as well. No matter what you choose to do for the next 40 days, I hope you will dive deeper into prayer for whatever God lays on your heart. This time will certainly not be wasted, as we know He saves every prayer for a future sacrifice of worship (see Every Prayer Uttered).

Blessings, my friends!

~Rebecca

 

A Diet in Jesus’ Name?
By Skip Heitzig

We focus a lot on food. Eating is one of our favorite pastimes, and we talk a lot about food. There are even place names that are foods. There’s Two Egg, Florida… Bacon, Delaware… Pancake, Texas… Hot Coffee, Mississippi.

One thing you don’t hear a lot about today is fasting. But did you know the Bible mentions fasting more times (nearly 60!) than even the “important” subjects like baptism?

Fasting is not a “diet in Jesus’ name.” It’s not a way to lose weight and be blessed. Fasting is done for spiritual motives.

In the Bible, fasting was done in times of danger, like when Esther was preparing to approach the king of Persia (see Esther 4). It’s a part of repentance: Both Daniel and Ezra fasted in response to the sins of the people, and the king of Nineveh ordered a fast when that city repented (see Jonah 3). Fasting was done in preparation for an important task or ministry. Jesus fasted 40 days and nights before He began His preaching ministry, and the apostles fasted before they sent Paul and Barnabas out (see Acts 13).

Fasting is a time when we take the focus off of ourselves, and put it on God and His will. (And that’s hard, in a culture where we worship self-reliance, self-determination, and self-worth!) Fasting reminds us that we belong to Him and that He owns us (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.). It’s a time when we discipline the body, and make our appetite our slave rather than our master.

In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus speaks of hypocritical motives for fasting. Note that he says “when you fast,” not “if.” Fasting is not to be for some group in a monastery; it’s to be the norm!

Jesus’ point was that God never fails to notice fasting that is heartfelt and genuine, and that He will reward it. (Note: We don’t fast to gain God’s favor or “twist His arm” so He will do something!) But how would God reward a fasting saint? Through deeper intimacy with Him. By letting us know His will. By giving us clarity of understanding in a difficult situation, or a new strategy for ministry.

There are benefits to fasting (and here I’m going from less to more spiritual):

Fasting is good for our health. During a prolonged fast, the body lives on surplus fat. It renews the body and the mind. It helps the body control weight and dispose of wastes.

It teaches us self-discipline. Many of us are slaves to habits, but fasting makes desire our slave rather than being our master. It reminds us we can live without a lot of things. The prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” will be more meaningful.

It helps us appreciate God’s gifts more. Fasting helps us feel our dependence upon God in this affluent, self-sufficient society.

It helps us see the needs of others: Going without food gets us in touch with people who live that way every day. That will make our prayer life more effective as well as activate us to help.

Fasting is always accompanied with prayer, and it will boost your prayer life. It’ll sharpen our praying—it changes the way we pray…and perhaps the results.

The pleasures of eating are fleeting, but the pleasures of fasting are lasting!

Copyright © 2012 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

 

Wanted: Serious Illness and Complicated Diagnosis

Prescription drugs and extravagant hard-to-pronounce scientific jargon—two things relentlessly sought by countless people in modern society. But why, you may ask, would someone want to have medical problems? Why would someone run to the doctor at the first sign of a cough, tickle, or stray hair? That’s a good question I do not have the answer to. I’ve simply observed in a great deal of personal relationships how quickly people assume a major problem exists when a simple explanation could be introduced. Often when two solutions are presented: complex medical diagnosis or behavioral issue, the former is readily accepted over the latter.

I’m no longer surprised by these occurrences. It’s merely a reflection of the society we live in. Our modern society wants answers given rather than conducting one’s own research. Our society has become too lazy to look into any issue with discernment. Our society accepts what it’s told as the gospel truth and follows willingly without further question. It’s just the way it is.

I refuse to get with the modern-day-program of society. I lived the majority of my life accepting whatever I was told as truth, believing every doctor and doctrine without question. I did little of my own research but readily accepted the opinions of those I viewed as better-educated. Who was I, anyways? I was nobody; I had no proper education. Clearly I couldn’t decipher or develop an opinion for myself. Besides, if I did, I was usually met with criticism and contempt. Better to accept what I’m being told without confrontation.

I took prescription medications for over a decade. In January, I was once again diagnosed with a new problem that would require yet another pill. Finally I did my own research into the various medical conditions I had. Through many hours of reading, studying, and praying, I decided to try something radical. I simply changed the way I ate. Risky! Insane! And even that choice was met with criticism!

But this article isn’t about doctors and prescriptions. This article wishes to address a deeper need within the Christian culture. That instant-gratification, give-me-answers now generation who refuses to be the Bereans they’ve been instructed to be (see Acts 17:17, 2 Timothy 2:15).

That brings me to the point. Do we believe every book, every manuscript, every article that we read because we place trust in the author? Do we believe their education provides them a reputation worthy of our acceptance? Atheists are educated. Evolutionary scientists are educated. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are educated. Would we believe everything they said because their education might be better than our own? If it seems absurd—it is! Each one of us, as children of God seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6), has been given a brain capable of understanding. However, becoming a Christian does not grant immediate wisdom in all things Biblical. Neither does our experience. I’m going to say that again. Our experience does not give us divine wisdom.

The only thing to test our ideas, theologies, doctrines and spiritual diseases by is the word of God. Just like my experience changing my eating habits worked for me, doesn’t mean that’s the solution for everyone. My experience is not to dictate reality. God’s word is reality. God’s word is the only trusted source of advice for social economic issues, justice, politics, and healthcare. My experience needs to be weighed through the word of God, not the word of God weighed through my experience.

Do your own research before readily accepting what you’re told. Every doctrine, opinion, experience, and idea should be held to the scrutiny of the infallible standard breathed by God Himself. You have a brain, too. If you lack wisdom, ask God, who gives generously to all who ask in complete faith (James 1:5).

Society is rapidly spiraling out of control in every area of physical and spiritual nature. It’s getting increasingly difficult to discern truth from error. The only remedy is to know God’s word, front to back. Read it, believe it, and live it. Then, as we’re confronted with experiences, teachings, and sermons promoting certain agendas, we’ll know the truth and be able to discard the rest.

 

(Explore the Bible cover to cover in 30 days, CLICK HERE for a suggested reading plan)

“Planned Bank Robbery”

The following exerpt is from an article written by James N. Watkins titled: Planned Bank Robbery. Enjoy!

We hear a lot about “pro-choice” on the evening news and sound bites from politicians. We, too, want to avoid “legislating values and claiming there are moral absolutes.” Ethics is a personal choice, not a political or religious concern.

That’s why we’ve established “Planned Bank Robbery.” Now, we personally don’t approve of bank robbery, but we don’t want to inflict our morals on anyone else either. We’re “pro-choice” when it comes to grand larceny. It must be a personal decision of each individual.

Education is the key since our studies reveal that 99 percent of senior high teens know that banks are robbed. But it is shocking the number of teens who don’t know how banks are robbed.  Or even how to load a .357 magnum, drive a get away car, or demand, “Give me all your unmarked, non-sequentially-ordered twenty-dollar bills.” Young people need to know the wide range of career options available to them…

And young people who need some extra cash from their local 7-11 shouldn’t have to get their parents permission to obtain this protection [such as a bullet-proof vest]. If that were the case, hundreds more teens would be needlessly injured by narrow-minded parents who are trying to inflcit their morality on their children.

Again, let me emphasize that “Planned Bank Robbery” does not condone or encourage grand larceny. We only want to stress it is a personal decision. We’re “pro-choice”! ~James N. Watkins