SHORT CHRISTIAN READINGS SELECTED FOR FORMER JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
On Being A Christian
By Natalie Pappas
There was a time when I trusted God, but I was not familiar with His ways. I did not understand a lot of the Bible or what to think about things that happened in my day to day life. It seemed as if I was simply drifting along, reacting to circumstances beyond my control. Sometimes if I sat down and thought for a very long while, it seemed like I could come up with a plasible reason why a particular event had happened in my life. If I continued thinking about what God's Word said, then I might even realize how to fix a problem before it started, or even how to ignore getting sidetracked from the goal. This is part of every Christian's growth process. We become more and more precise everytime we read the Word of God.
Other times we know something is wrong and we just can't put our finger on why it is wrong -- but we feel in our gut it is wrong. It is good to wait and ponder such things until we can come up with a Biblical reason. This is a thinking process we should all pay more attention to applying to our lives. It is a thinking process that takes time. It does not come naturally. It must be developed and practiced, all the while imploring God for His wisdom over our own. Reading through the minor prophets in the Old Testament helped clear much up of my relative thinking. You see...God thinks precisely (and perfectly) and I don't. Now, as I continue to walk this Christian life, I realize that I understand Him better each passing day, though I am nowhere near perfect. This is the Christian life. Knowing Him.
There comes a time when we realize our thinking is a bit sharper than it used to be and we discover that God has rooted out of us tons of bad habits. We are so thankful to Him, understanding this is His good work in our lives. We are just beginning at this point to understand obedience. Up to this point we have slowly been practicing the art of of nailing this carnal flesh to the cross and we find are able to do so not by our own strength but by His! We are willing, even eager to rid ourselves of every thing that is offensive to Christ and set out to do so at full speed. Though it is extremely painful to deny ourselves, we rejoice because we know when all is said and done that we are going to be so much better.
This is when Satan becomes furious. As inmature Christians we often did ourselves in. Or ... perhaps we did other people in. Maybe we did this through ignorance, maybe not. But the point is that at this point in our lives we are doing all we can do to be pleasing to God in the knowledge and understanding of Him that we currently have. No longer are we trying to pridefully please ourselves, but we have let go of our pride and are seeking humbly to please Jesus.
Watch out! Now that you aren't doing yourself in and you aren't doing others in, the devil is going to try to do YOU in! The destroyer is going to attempt to destroy you ... but here comes faith! No one snatches God's own from His own hand! You may stumble, but you will not fall. Remember: Christ is your Strength, your Hiding Place, your Rock of Salvation. Never forget through this trial and tribulation that it is God who is faithful!
How will the devil attack you? He'll do it through someone close to you. That way it will really hurt! This person the devil uses will be someone who says they love you. However, if they really loved you, they would act in love, not out of it. Do not be deceived: acting OUT OF LOVE is really hate!
There is a certain way God would have us deal with problems. If we deal with them in a carnal manner, we will fail. We should never blame God or others. We must put the blame on the instigator of this persecution: Satan! Yes, there are times when it is all Satan's fault. Job is a perfect example of this. You will never be able to fully put the experience behind you until you understand the demonic influence going on behind the scene.
If you don't believe Satan will ever target you, you are the perfect target. Move out of the way as quickly as possible by sticking close to Jesus Christ. Immerse yourself in His Word and in prayer. When Satan sets out to destroy our peace by using others to do us in, this is called persecution. Satan will get a foothold in people who are close to you and he will use their weaknesses to hurt you -- emotionally or physically. This is the battle of every Christian. That is why Paul writes that we are not to be ignorant of Satan's wiles (tricks).
Let's remember to keep our eyes on Christ when we are stumbled by those claiming to be Christ's. It is the only way to make it through such betrayal. Every Christian is betrayed by someone who claims to love them. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, remember? Above all, don't ever let Satan use you as his tool of destruction. Don't ever discourage or stumble a fellow believer. We are to build one another up in love not out of love.
The Helmet of Salvation
Having the Mind of Christ
By Natalie Pappas
What is the best way for an enemy to defeat someone quickly? Through a quick and heavy blow to the head of course! Consider this: Satan bruised Jesus' heel (ineffective though it still hurt). However, Jesus crushed Satan's head (it not only hurt but it was effective!).
In Genesis chapter three this concept of head crushing is first introduced. Amazingly enough, it is expanded upon in Isaiah chapter 59. Here, Christ Himself intervines because no justice in found in the nation of Israel--thus He will Himself go out and repay wrath to His enemies and retribution to His foes. Yet, notice, Christ (who is our example) puts on a helmet of salvation. He's not about to get His head crushed in battle!
Later in the Scriptures, this phrase, Helmet of Salvation occurs again. As in Isaiah 59, a battle is pictured. This time it is the Christian who is intervening and in danger. Paul the Apostle reminds us to put on the whole armor of God (Eph 6). Though the battle is real, it is invisible to the human eye. If we fail to take up our armor we are in danger from the enemy.
Thus, the Helmet of Salvation is available to every Christian. Being given, we ought to accept it. Clearly there is choice involved here. When a soldier goes out into battle and leaves the helmet in his sleeping quarters, it is only a matter of time before a piece of metal hits him in the head and he is injured or killed.
In putting on the Helmet of Salvation, lets think, considering some things that we have been saved from ... our sins ...
the power of sin over our lives ...
There are many more things which we have been saved from, but all these things make us think, causing us to remember Christ's faithfulness in each of our lives. It is an encouragement to us. In Philippians' chapter 4, we are urged to think of:
This is because our thought lives are often destructive. Yet, we are told in Scripture that Christians have the mind of Christ (2 Corinthians 2). Since we have it, shouldn't we ought to think like it? Satan can (and does) use our thoughts against us. Then we turn around and act on those thoughts, often hurting others.
Thus the helmet is our main form of protection against the temptations of our own flesh and against the attacks of Satan. Having right thoughts is our Helmet of Salvation. When we fail to wear this simple piece of armor, we are easy prey. It is almost a grim reminder at exactly how frail we are without God's protection. Notice how this particular piece of armor gets our thoughts off of ourselves and onto God? No longer are we being self-centered, even selfish, but godly.
In having this mind of Christ, we are to take our thoughts as captives to make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10). We are the guards! But notice that we are also having to make our thoughts obedient. We are also the guardians! This makes perfect sense because we did give birth to them (by way of our evil desires).
Thus if we do not take captive our thoughts and make each one obedient to Christ, it is only a matter of time before we actively carry out our evil desires in broad daylight. If we don't take our thoughts captive and make them behave, we simply aren't taking that Helmet of Salvation. We have essentially rejected it.
Another way we refuse the helmet is our refusal to read/study the Scriptures. If we don't find ourselves looking forward to reading the Bible on a consistant basis, we need to ask if we truly love Christ. Christ is the very Word of God (John 1). Do you want to love Christ more? Read the Bible more.
The bottom line is that we have been warned through the Scriptures--Satan's attacks are real. We are not to be ignorant of them. Satan can attack us through our mind and we can attack ourselves through our mind. Thus if we are not thinking Christ's way, then sin will enter our lives and take control. It is why we are commanded not to sin in our anger (an emotion) lest the devil get a foothold (Ephesians 4). It is why we are commanded to think of pure and lovely things (Philippans 4). It is why we are commanded to take our thoughts captive and make each one obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 2). It the way to overcoming any sin in our lives (Romans chapter 7).
The Helmet of Salvation is given for our own protection. If we don't put on our saving helmet, we get hurt. Don't blame God if this happens. He has warned us. Just because the battle may be spiritual, thus invisible to the human eye, doesn't make it any less bloody. Lets not refuse that helmet otherwise we will find ourselves with no protection under attack in the middle of a satanic battlefield.
By Our Love
By Natalie Pappas
There's a Christian hymn that we often sing in church services and a line of it goes like this: "They will know we are Christians by our love". I get to wondering sometimes if this is true or not.
There are a lot of misconceptions by Christians and by non-Christians about what love is and what love isn't. I can't count the times I've started out writing this article and how many times I've ended up deleting it altogether because in writing about what love was, I ended up writing about what it wasn't--and it ended up being a very unloving article about love. Ain't that an oxymoron!
I like listening to very old preachers. They seem to understand what love is and what love isn't. Borne out of their great experience is years of dealing with people in general. I heard one guest preacher say just last week, "If I had to deal with Christians without the knowledge of who Jesus is, I couldn't do it." Hey folks, I'm on his side.
I hate to say this but Christians are some of the most loving and unloving people you will ever have the fortune or misfortune to meet.
I firmly believe that one of the reasons why Christians can be unloving is because they honestly don't know the definition of love. Because our culture is so firmly rooted in emotional responses to circumstances, the Christian often times goes too far to the other extreme. They refuse the idea of warm fuzzies and become cold and heartless altogether. I'm speaking out of my experience now.
I've heard the phrase, "We have to love so-and-so to thier highest good" misapplied so many times I want to vomit. Usually what that means is that this person believes another should be confronted in a less than gentle way and upbraided one side and down the other until they repent from their wicked ways and conform to their idea of godliness.
See ... here I am, doing it again ... writing about what love isn't in order to define what love is.
When Paul spoke about telling the truth in love in the book of Ephesians, I don't think he had the above senerio in mind. I believe that he actually was considering telling the truth while being patient and kind and not being arrogant, proud or exaulting one's own self. What Paul meant was to tell the truth and not be rude about it. Don't work yourself up into an anger while telling someone else what their faults are. Don't bring up past offenses (imagined or otherwise) to further make whatever point needed in order to direct that person towards the "right" path. The end never justifies the means.
If love rejoices with the truth, then if the truth really is told in love, the person being told that truth will (USUALLY) repent. Never forget that it is God's kindness which leads people to repentence (Romans 2:4). If God is tolerant and patient towards sinners, shouldn't we be too? And before you open your mouth, make sure you are actually acting upon truth and not just what you believe must have happened. Double, triple, quadriple check your facts!
Don't get what I'm saying wrong. God doesn't ignore sin and neither should we. I am talking specifically about being loving in a Biblical manner. That involves telling the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15 (NAS)). Part of being loving is being patient and kind. Yes the Bible is talking about warm fuzzies.
I did a study on love a few weeks back when I was translating a few verses from the book of Philemon. What I found was that love actually begins with an emotional reponse to a person's unfortunate circumstances.
In the BAGD on page 4 agapeo is first described as 'of affection for persons', also 'of the love of supernatual beings" (i.e., God for humans). Jesus felt this when he encountered (of all people) an unbeliever in Mark chapter ten verse 21. Read it. If Jesus could feel this emotion with an unbeliever, shouldn't we at least attempt to do the same with our Christian brothers and sisters? Hey...here's a thought ... how about being loving toward those non-Christians for a change!
"Agapeo" (the Greek word for loving someone to their highest good) is definied in Perschbacher as: 'to love, value, esteem, feel or manifest generous concern for, be faithful towards, to delight in, to set store upon' (pg 2).
The Apostle of John is known in Christian circles as "The Apostle of Love" because he writes about this subject more than any other of the Apostles. At the end of his gospel, he writes about the event where Peter was reconciled to Christ after the Resurrection.
When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you truely love (Agapeo) me more than these."
"Yes Lord, You know that I love ('Phileo') you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love ('Agapeo') me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love ('Phileo') you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
The third time he said to him "Simon son of John, do you love ('Agapeo') me?"
He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love ('Phileo') you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17, NIV)
The word Peter used "Phileo" is a different word than "Agapeo". While Phileo is a word that is a warm fuzzy feeling, it is composed of emotion that lacks action. It is a type of love that Christians tend to despise and scorn. But you know, I don't see Jesus despising Peter. Peter admitted readily that what he felt for Jesus did not have the action to back up his feelings (remember Jesus was addressing Peter's denial of knowing Him before the crucifixition). Yet, even in this admission, I see Jesus strengethening Peter by urging him to take action while still feeling those emotions, not abandoning them!
Later we actually see Peter succeed with love through the letters he wrote to the early churches. Jesus had previously urged Peter to put his warm feelings (phileo) into action (agapeo). We see him feeding the sheep and taking care of them because of his feelings toward the flock of God. Phileo turned into Agapeo. Peter ended up knowing what love (Agapeo) really was because he finally understood what love wasn't just an emotion (Phileo) -- it was emotion that led to action. It was not one or the other. It was both.
Too often we forget that true love is action that accompanies our emotions. No one is really able to be patient and kind unless they feel it in the first place. Being kind is a fruit of the Spirit. God produces it in the believer and because they feel kind, they are able to be patient. They will exhibit all the qualities expressed in 1st Corinthians chapter thirteen.
So the next time your church sings a hymm about "They will know we are Christians by our love" make certain that you are loud!
The Best of Friends
By Natalie Pappas
Well, it is the day before thanksgiving, the pies are in the oven and I'm sitting here counting all the ways in which God has greatly blessed my life. I have SO much to be thankful for!
I have been blessed with the greatest of friends: Jesus Christ. He is the sole provider of every breath I take, the source of all my joy. He carries my burdens and grants me strength to live each day anew in Him. Since I have known Him, every part of my life has changed. I look at things differently than I ever have before.
I know regardless of the trials I will endure, I will emerge a victor, not because of who I am, but who He is. The hardships I face, I do not face alone, because He is always with me.
Believing in Him is not about believing in myself, because I am absolutely helpless to help myself. I know better my weaknesses better than anyone and He knows my weaknesses better than I do. This is why I can trust Him. In the past, He has never allowed me to go through a trial that I was not able to withstand. Not only that, He will always provide me with a getaway route.
He knows my deepest thoughts. Those thoughts that stray away from Him He deals with slowly and gently. In His perfect mercy, He changes me from the inside until I conform to Him in both thought and in action. He has so much good to work into me, but He is not impatient with me, because love is patient and kind, and God is, afterall, love.
Understand this: my faith is not about me, but about Him, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do in the future. It is the same with all who are His, though faith in Jesus Christ, our perfect Savior, our eternal friend is worthy of our trust. Through His selfless love, He made all who believe in Him children of the living God. When He died on the cross for your sins and for my sins, it wasn't just a meaningless event. If it was, He couldn't have come back alive from the dead. He proved to us what no one else can ever prove: only He is worthy of our belief.
So I am thankful this year to Jesus Christ, for His unfailing love and for His gift of everlasting life. Faith has to have an object, if not, why bother? My faith is in Jesus Christ. He is my best friend. It is my prayer that He is yours as well.
"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ." -- Philippians 1:2a
By Natalie Pappas
"The word used [for conduct] could refer to discharging the obligations of a citizen. Because Philippi held the privileged status of a Roman colony, its citizens understood the responsiblities associated with citizenship". (Nelson Study Bible, pg 2000). I don't think that's true today.
There are many who call themselves by the name of Christ who ought to understand this great and awesome responsiblity. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe they have done the calling instead of Christ. We ought to all test ourselves, is "Jesus Christ really "in you" (2 Corinthians 13:5). Paul also wrote to the Corinthians saying, "Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable....(2 Corinthians 13:7).
God never intended for believers to persecute each other. But that is what is happening in this day and age. I'm not talking about disagreements about what the Bible teaches. I'm talking about a person's character. How a person acts and what a person says reveals what he or she believes. I think many masquarade as Christians. Jesus said this would happen, "By their fruits ye shall know them". Paul elaborated upon this in his pastoral epistles.
Jude describes these kind of people flawlessly, "These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever."
You would think with such a strong warning about such consequences, that the "Christian" persecuting other Christians would be scared senseless into repenting. The problem is that this person (who very well may believe in God) does not BELIEVE what His Word so clearly says.
I can't say I will rejoice the day these "spots" like the ones described in the book of Jude enter hell, but I sure don't want fake Christians in heaven. They make our lives miserable here on earth (or at least they try). However, I think they make themselves more miserable than the person(s) they are persecuting.
Jesus was right, when he said the blind could not lead the blind. These types of people stumble those who are blind. Those who Christ really lives in, have the responsibility to minister to those who have been deceived, to point them to the real Christ in Scripture. Because there are some that really don't show it, or live it, but they sure do talk a lot about it! Once you can spot one, though, the rest are pretty easy. No one is fooled by a lie already known or experienced.
To be discerning of people like those described in Jude, we ought to always remember Philippians 2:3-4, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
There are those who say they have your best interests at heart, but their actions say otherwise. People like this boast in themselves. They tell you about how others have praised them about .... WHATEVER. There is no humility, but they will tell you that they are humble. Get a clue .... humble people don't realize they're humble. Think about it. Study Moses, the most humble man in Scripture other than Christ.
If the person who is spiritually abusing you claims to be a Christian, run him or her through the test of Jude. Watch how they treat others. How do they treat you? If they do not pass the test, pray God give you wisdom to get out of that relationship. He is faithful to rescue His own from the teeth of the wolves.
Do you think of yourself as a Christian? Who are you mad at? Who do you want to hurt? Who do you want to control that you can't control? If you really feel this way, you had better examine yourself...Is Jesus Christ living in you? Are you sure?
The Issue of Sin in the Life of a Believer
By Natalie Pappas
Sin is like a huge mountain in my life that I can never completely dig up and move from one side of my life to another. One shovelful at a time is all God requires of me. I am continually working on it and because I am a Christian I want to work at it.
When I die (or am translated at the rapture) that mountain of sin will immediatly moved. But until then, God wants me to work at it. Why? I think it helps me understand His character better, and it also helps me understand the seriousness of sin. He has given me my shovel (a way to overcome sin), and so I will trust Him as I work at that mountain. And when I fail, I will confess and He will be faithful to cleanse me once again.
Sin is a prevelant problem in any believer's life. All sin is forgiven once a person believes Christ died for their sins and He rose from the grave -- and yet we STILL sin! Wouldn't it be great if we could be forgiven and then never sin ever ever again? That's how I would have set it up if I was God.
He's done it differently, though. Until this body dies I am going to sin. When He resurrects me part of the deal is that the new body He gives me will not be capable of either dying or sinning. Sin will be something I couldn't do if I tried. I sure would like to have that body now! It sure would be a help in my day to day life! But He has determined that I am to wait for that day, so I suppose I will have to wait just like everybody else.
And while I am waiting, I have been contemplating this whole sin issue. It is overwhelming until it is thought of as overcoming one sin at a time. There are sins that I commited in my 20's that do not have a hold of me anymore. I overcame them by the power of Christ. It was a hard battle. At times it was a bloody battle. But through Christ, I overcame by certain facts.
One fact is that I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I am born again and I am able to overcome sin in my life. Those are some facts. Another fact is that I am going to sin in some way or another until God gives me that really cool unsinning, undying body, which will happen at the rapture. And if I die before the rapture, it will happen a twinkling of an eye before the rapture. So the only other way out of sinning until then is to die (hopefully of natural causes) and be with Christ until the rapture happens.
But what about between now and then? When I sin my fellowship with God is broken. That does not mean that I have lost my salvation. It is like when a child does something wrong and until that child admits it (confesses), the fellowship is broken between parent and child.
God gives us the problem of our sin in Romans chapters 1-3 and then Romans chapters 4-8 explain the method we are able to (in Christ) overcome all sin in our lives. 1st John chapter 1 outlines what we do when we do sin.
The Bible says that if anyone does not admit that they have sin, that they are liars and the truth is not in them. And yet, the Bible teaches, we are to be free of sin. There is a solution to solving this apparent oxymoron, and the answer is the fellowship issue: if we sin our fellowship is broken and when we confess it is restored and day by day, moment by moment, we work at overcoming the sin in our lives.
This is a difficult doctrine to understand, but I think it is possible in Christ to do so. I never go to the point where I think I might miss out on heaven because of my sin(s). I know that's a finished work of Christ in my life and I am set for eternity with Him.
So as I wait I think I'll pick my shovel back up. ; )
By Natalie Pappas
We all should be desiring to be pleasing to God, in our minds (thoughts) in our hearts (emotions) and in our lives (actions). David was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). He desired to please God in everything he did. Why? Did David think God would love him more because he had this desire to please God?
David sought to be pleasing to the Lord because David loved God. Scripture tells us that, "We love, because He first loved us" (1st John 4:19) Before salvation, the question is, "Does God love me?" After salvation the question arises, "Do I love God?"
It's not a 'give and take' relationship with God's love. It's not, "God loves me if I ....", but instead it is the faith Christians carry inside our hearts that God loves us no matter what. This knowledge ought to spur us on to gratefulness and the desire to be pleasing to Him.
God showed His great love for us by providing a way back to Him through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1st John 4:10). We either believe this great love or we don't. I am going to suggest that if one is truly saved, he or she will have a desire to know God more and more. Therefore, a saved person has the desire to read the Bible, to be obedient, to do good works. If there is no desire to do any of these things, I would offer the same suggestion that the Bible offers, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you -- unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5)
One Scripture that keeps coming to my mind is Matthew 25:23. What happens if a person truly is saved, has no desire to read the Bible, obey Him, or do His works ... what happens to those who come into the very presence of Christ? How sad it will be for them not to hear the words, "Well done good and faithful servant." How sad to settle for simply salvation.
The reward for being grateful and faithful is something the Bible does not go into a great deal of explanation about. I have read a wide variety of suggestions, from everything to the reward is being able to stay physically closer to Christ throughout all eternity to mansions being greatly decorated to the amount of crowns one will receive. While I find all these suggestions interesting, I think the rewards given are something we can't even being to comprehend in this earthly plane in our earthly bodies. I think they are so magnificent that we aren't able to understand them.
I do think, though, that these rewards will be a much as an eternal mistake to miss out upon as much as it will be for a person who finds himself or herself in hell and realizes they've missed out upon salvation.
Satan can't take away our salvation, but are we going to let his deceptions trick us into thinking that knowing God, obeying God, and doing His works aren't important? Are we going to allow the devil to steal away our reward?
Do you love God? Obey Him. Do you love God? Learn more about Him by reading the Bible. Do you love God? Do His work.
Remember after Christ was raised from the dead, He was restoring His relationship with Peter, because Peter had denied Him three times before His death on the cross for all of our sins. Christ asked Peter, "Do you love me?" three times. Then Christ told Peter three times to feed His sheep. (John 21:15-17)
I don't think there was any question in Peter's mind that Christ loved him. The question for Peter was did Peter truly love Christ? That is your daily question and my daily question today, that is, if we say we are truly His.
By Natalie Pappas
I think we have a common misconception of the word patience. We often confuse this with a feeling of 'calmness' even as our world is falling apart around us. But it doesn't mean that at all. This word typlifies a very real struggle going on inside our soul at any given time.
Have you ever prayed for patience? I hear requests like these in church. I'm sure you have too. And the next week the person (usually a young mother with a two year old) comes back, desperate for us to pray for her some more. She doesn't think God has answered her prayer, but He has.
This is because the word 'patience' in the Greek is made up of two compound words meaning 'under suffering'.
The Bible lists the fruit (note: not fruits) of the Spirit at Galatians 5:22 : love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. The New Kings James version lists 'patience' as 'long-suffering', and that is an appropriate visual of what patience is.
This is because of how this word is put together. When a Greek word is made up of two compounds and the first word is a preposition, such as under, it is done in order to greatly emphasize and punch up the meaning of the second word, in this case 'suffering'.
Today's teenagers would understand 'under suffering' as meaning 'extreme suffering' and that is exactly what it means to be patient, it means to be undergoing some extreme suffering.
When we are 'under' (or experiencing extreme) suffering, what or whom are we under? For still remaining with the idea of using the preposition is the actual meaning of the preposition under. The answer is being under God. In America we have the phrase under God in our Pledge of Alligence: One nation under God ....
I'm trying not to get off track, so back to the subject at hand. The difference between Biblical patience and worldly patience is that the first is done suffering under the love of God, and the second is done without any thought of God at all. It must be a lonely place to suffer without being aware of the love of God. The Christian cries out to God when under suffering. But who does the atheist call out to?
So pray for peace if you've decided to pray for patience, better yet pray for all the fruit of the Spirit. For He hears us when we cry out to Him. And if you are an atheist reading this, there is no need to suffer alone. Believe in Jesus who died for all your sins, and rose again bodily from the grave on the third day. After all, He's our example of true patience. Look what He suffered for us...
Gossip. What is it? How YOU can avoid it (and stop it)!
**psthurismos -- whisper, hiss, secret, gossip, talebearing **
By Natalie Pappas
Gossip is a big problem in the world today, not to mention the church. The Bible has a lot to say about gossip. Here's a simple definition that is easily remembered. Gossip is a story that is true that can damage a person's reputation. Unfortunately most people confuse gossip with slander. They believe since the story is TRUE, that EVERYBODY (and I mean everybody) has THE right to know! So one lady gets on the phone and calls all her close friends in the church who turn anound and call more people who end up calling OTHER people and then much damage is accomplished.
You know in the book of Jeremiah where it says, "My people are destroyed by a lack of knowledge"? Well, the hard truth is we are destroying our brothers and sisters in Christ when we don't understand that gossip is a story that is true that can damage a person's reputation.
There are some reading this article who may point out that I have a redundancy problem. I am doing this on purpose. I want people who finish reading this article to really understand that gossip is a story that is true that can damage a person's repuation. (Oops I did it again!)
The Bible says that:
Proverbs 16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends
Proverbs 26:20 Wood without a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.
Proverbs 18:8 and 26:22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they do down to a man's inmost parts.
Proverbs 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
Preventing People From Gossiping About You
How do you prevent people from gossiping about you? The first and most important thing to remember is not to tell anybody anything that you wouldn't want the entire church to know about your private life -- that includes openly confessing any sin you're struggling with by the way! Yet the Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another, right? Look for those people who don't seem to have a lot to say. Seek out people who have never served choice bits of gossip to you. These are the people you can confide your struggles with. These types of people will be faithful to pray for you and not tell anyone what you're dealing with.
Preventing People From Telling You Gossip
You've just hung up the phone. A person has just handed to you a choice morsel of gossip. You didn't know what to do so you did nothing. That's okay, you can always call the person back, or better yet, speak with them face to face. It's not a bad thing to think out how to hande things properly. It's actually more Biblical because the Bible advises us not to speak rashly. Nonetheless, you're upset because you didn't ask to be served. Yet, there it is, an ugly lump of dung, sitting on a dainty plate disguised as a 'prayer request for so-and-so'". How do you refuse? Remember this: just because it was served doesn't mean you are obligated to eat it!
First ask, "Where did you hear that from?" When they answer, ask, "Where did THAT person hear that from?" What I'm advising you to do is to find out as much as you can about who is talking to each other. Eventually the gossip will begin appearing uncomfortable. That's okay. You want this person to begin to feel badly about what they've done. When you've gotten all the names ...
Explain to that gossip that a story that is true can damage a person's reputation. Outline your plan to talk personally to everyone just named so that they also understand that gossip is a story that is true that can damage a person's reputation. And then do it. How? Name names: "So and so passed on to me what you said about a certain situation concerning so and so." Don't describe the situation, just say "a certain situation" .... they will know what you are talking about--after all, they contributed to your knowledge of it.
Share some Bible verses about gossip with all involved. Make certain that everyone understands that there is a Biblical way to deal with people who have fallen into sin, but that gossip is not one of those options.
2nd Corinthians 12:20 (Paul the Apostle is writing) "For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder"
Romans 1:29 (Paul the Apostle is explaining all traits of the depravity of man and includes the sin of gossip)
1 Timothy 5:13 (Paul the Apostle is writing to young Timothy giving advice for the reason NOT to put younger widows on a 'take care of' list) "Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to."
If you follow the Biblical advice given in this article, I guarantee that next time gossip is making its ugly rounds, nobody who has tried to share gossip with you in the past will call YOU up and try to share again. I've discovered there is a wonderful peace walking around in ignorant bliss!
Yet, I'm sure, somewhere, there are walking wounded in your church, those unfortunate victims of gossip. How can you minister to that person or persons without making things worse? First pray for wisdom, God will lead you to know how to gently minister to that person's shame of everyone knowing their private business.
I'd like to make one more point....have you ever noticed that gossips never gossip about their own sins, but always about someone else's sins? Remember, Gossip is a story that is true that can damage a person's repuation The Bible tells us how to deal with those who have fallen into sin. We are to gently restore them. We are to forgive them. We are to love them. And if they refuse to repent, we are eventually to shun them. But nowhere in Scripture, not ONE place, does the Bible ever give us council to gossip. Not ever! This ought to be a strict warning to us never to engage in it.
Here's a good rule of thumb to follow. If you are too embarrassed to ask the person you heard something about if it is true, it is either gossip or slander (slander is a story that is NOT true which WILL damage a person's reputation -- but that's another article). The bottom line is this: If you can't talk about the incident with the person involved in the incident, then you have absolutely no business talking about it with others either.
Did anyone else notice that the Greek word meaning gossip found at the beginning of the article starts with three tiny letters which make the sound, pst ...?
** Page 892, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Tstament and other Early Christian literature **
1st Corinthians 5
By Natalie Pappas
Nothing makes me angrier or breaks my heart more than slander. Slander begins with a lie and the father of all lies is the devil. You can't reason with the devil. You can't appeal to the devil for mercy, you can't even plead the truth. The devil isn't interested in the truth. He's just interested in the lie.
This is why I believe Scripture teaches Christians to have nothing to do with other 'so-called' Christians who engage in slander, because the Christian should have nothing to do with the father of lies.
Slander is something that isn't true that damages a person's reputation. Gossip is true and damages a person's reputation. I discussed that in a previous article. However, here I want to address slander.
The person who slanders has often times taken part of the truth and rewritten it. Then they take that false story to someone else, who hears it and believes it. Just because someone slanders doesn't mean they don't have an engaging personality. Oftentimes, the best slanderers have the funnest sorts of personalities.
Slandering is not some activity in which only the rich engage themselves, poor people do it to. It is described in 1st Corinthians chapter 5 as being downright immoral, right up there with murder and sexual immorality. It is no wonder the Christian is warned against participating in slander.
Those who participate in slander are not just the ones who verbally give it to another. It is also participated in it by those who listen. Those who listen and do not investigate to see if the story is true and then repeat it to others are guiltier of even a far greater sin.
Scripture tells us slander is wrong. It tells us how to deal with a slanderer. It tells us not even to sit at a table and eat with such a person. It doesn't tell us to go and correct the person who is slandering, though it would feel good to my flesh to be able to defend myself or others against slander. We are not to do anything other than to ignore the slanderer. This is because God knows us (and our enemies) better than we know ourselves (or them).
Just as one cannot reason or plead the truth with the devil, one cannot reason or plead the truth with that someone who is slandering. They simply are not interested in the truth. All they are interested in is spreading their slander to as many people who will listen. Slander isn't always give in an harsh and ugly tone. It is usually clothed in concern and with sincerety. So do not listen to slander. Just as the devil is evil, slander is evil. Have nothing to do with those who slander.