Musings on Christianity 38

Musings on Christianity 38

Why Do We Need to Forgive

In previous chapters, I talked about forgiveness. I think sometimes people feel like forgiveness is only for the offender. Anyone who’s ever been forgiven knows it’s a great feeling, but forgiveness isn’t just for the transgressor.

For a long time, I had a lot of trouble with forgiveness. I didn’t want to let go of what my biological father had done. I didn’t want to let go of things that were done to me. I really felt like if I were to forgive them, it would have made it like it had never happened. Forgiving these things would mean I was ok with what was done.

I’m not so sure of that anymore. What I know though is that I needed to let go. I held on to anger and bitterness, and that doesn’t do anything to anyone but me. That anger, that resentment, builds up. It calcifies on a heart and makes it hard. It made me hard. It made me unreasonable and uncompromising. When people agreed with me, they found me a wonderful ally because I would fight tooth and nail. However, when people were in opposition, I was inconsiderate, unloving, and unkind.

I did it wrong. A lot in my life, for my whole life, I did everything the wrong way. I withheld forgiveness for reasons I’d believe anyone would support me for having, but all that ultimately did was corrupt my heart. Even now, I have a tough time letting go of offenses. I have a tough time forgiving even though I know I’m every bit as guilty as the next human being.

Withholding forgiveness doesn’t do anything to hurt the offender. But what it did to me was deprive me of a heart unburied by resentment.

We’re instructed to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Ephesians 4:31).

This instruction makes us more like Christ, who died for all of our sins, but it’s for our benefit. It empties our hearts of things that poison and corrupt.

Bitterness takes root in a person and only causes that person trouble (Hebrews 12:15).

I didn’t know what it was doing to me when I was younger. I was just an angry kid who grew up to be a grumpy man. Even now, I’m argumentative and bossy. I don’t think I’m the most overbearing man in history. I don’t think I’m more obstinate than anyone. However, I’ve come to realize that the bitterness I held on account of truly wrong things only bred myself into being a bitter person.

I trained my body and heart to be unforgiving and resentful. But if we as humans only practice withholding forgiveness and embracing anger, we only become more a part of the problem. I go back to that young, angry kid, and I wish I could tell him:

I wish I could tell him you’re not forgiving him for his sake, though it is kind to him. You’re forgiving him so that you can have peace in your own heart. Your forgiveness isn’t justification for the wrong that was done. Your forgiveness doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong; it means that even though it was wrong, your heart holds onto peace. You’re heart chooses love and peace over resentment and bitterness.

I’m not saying there isn’t true injustice in the world. Obviously this world is surrounded in injustice. This nation is opening its eyes to the injustices it’s practiced for 244 years. But there are some who are embracing the outrage and resentment, and as a human, I can understand and sympathize. But I look at my sons, and I look at the students I teach, and I feel it’s a far better lesson to teach love and kindness. I feel it’s much more beneficial to work on one’s own heart.

We should seek and pray for justice. We should redress our grievances. Yet even as we cry out for justice, let us do it out of love for those who deserve it rather than against the offenders who commit atrocities.

I mention that because of the times we’re in, but I still understand I don’t really know the first thing about persecution or injustice

What I do know is what it feels like to be wronged in a horrible way. I know what it is to hate someone.

But I grew to pass that hatred into myself. Hatred breeds hatred. Anger breeds anger. The only cure for evil is good (Romans 12:21). The only cure for hate is love.

In this chapter, I’m not speaking on the behalf of transgressors. I’m imploring those who were like me to let love rule your hearts. I know what it is to despise a person. But that anger brought me nothing but pain. I know what it is to be angry, but that anger brought me nothing but scorn.

Don’t choose my path. It’s long and dark, and it’s so hard to turn back from. By the grace of God, I have seen the light. I want to type that I’ve found a heart of love, and I am more forgiving and patient, but I have so far to go. I don’t want this in my heart. I don’t want this thorn in my side, and I would save anyone that pain.

For our panel: What can someone do when they realize they have so much resentment in their heart? How does one find it in their heart to forgive something that was truly terrible (abuse, assault, murder)? What are some other benefits of letting go of anger? Why is it so hard to let go of anger? What Bible verses can one turn to for help in these matters?

Musings on Christianity 22

Musings on Christianity 22

Is Anger Sinful?

Someone new to faith or someone who’s misguided may instinctually feel like any anger of any kind is sinful in and of itself.

Let’s challenge that assumption by looking to scripture. If God is Holy and perfect, and anger is inherently sinful, then the LORD must have never been angry. However, if there is a form of righteous anger (since God is indeed righteous), then we’ll see examples of God Himself becoming angry.

“Even at Horeb, you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that He would have destroyed you.” (Deuteronomy 9:8)

“‘Now then, let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make you a great nation.’ Then Moses entreated the LORD his God, and said, ‘O LORD, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?’” (Exodus 32:10-11)

“The Lord has swallowed up; He has not spared all the habitations of Jacob in His wrath He has thrown down the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; He has brought them down to the ground: He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.” (Lamentations 2:2)

Those are just three examples of God becoming angry. So you see, anger can’t be sinful in and of itself. However, before you start calling people fools and shouting at every person who ever does the slightest thing to you, consider for a moment what angers the Lord: sin.

When one is angry because of an offense to God, that person’s anger is justified and holy. If you’re just angry because your wife forgot to pick up milk on the way home, you might be overreacting. Why are you angry? What sin has she committed against God? When it’s your pride and your desires being denied, you’re using self-centered thinking. Don’t read this and think I’m not sinfully angry. I’m actually working on that very thing in my walk with faith at this time in my life. I get so mad when my schedule is thrown off. I get mad when my reading time is interrupted. I get mad when I don’t get my “me time.”

Some may say to themselves, “Who doesn’t get mad if they can’t get what they want?”  The answer to that question is people who aren’t thinking selfishly. A person focused on God is looking for ways to use his time to glorify God. I’m human, and sure, I like the chance to think in the quite for a time, but to become angry because I’m not getting what I want isn’t righteous. Being aware of this truth doesn’t mean I’m not guilty of this sin. I speak on it not just to show i’m not perfect, but to offer myself as an example of what not to do.

But when one sins against God, when a child dishonors his father or mother, when a husband fails to love his or a wife fails to respect her husband, those things will probably anger a person, and that anger in itself isn’t wrong. But what we do with that anger is another test.

“Be angry and do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26)

Well how the heck does one pull that off? Jesus, our Savior provides us a few examples. I’d like to look at those for a short time in this chapter.

“And he looked around them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” (Mark 3:5)

That statement stemmed from a test the Pharisees set up. They wanted Christ to heal a sick man on the sabbath, showing that he’s “working” and therefore wrong. The problem was, there’s nothing wrong with doing good on the sabbath. The Pharisees knew this, but their pride and desire to see Christ (who was at that time healing the sick) fall, caused them to set up this horrible and elaborate trap.

But what did Christ do? He indeed showed the Pharisees their sin. He then showed them the right action to take. This pattern is one I like to see. In this case, Christ rebukes, shows the heart-wrongness (the sinful desires of the offending people), and shows the correct action. (Do good. Give to those who ask.)

This pattern is seen again in another example:

  “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’” (Mark 10:13-15)

Here, Jesus was indignant (a synonym for angry) at his own disciples. Again, he rebukes (Let the children come). Some may argue Christ didn’t show the heart-wrongness, but He did. You see, the disciples were trying to have the authority to decide who got to see Him and who didn’t. Christ showed them the heart wrongness by showing them (one of several times) just who has the most right to His Kingdom. ( .. for to such belongs the kingdom. This shows that the kingdom of God belongs to children.) God takes it a step further (teaching the right thinking) by explaining that those who don’t receive the kingdom like a child, shall not enter it. 

There are several examples of the disciples jockeying for authority and importance, and on many occasions, Christ turns their attention to children.

Anger can be Holy when your anger is based on the word of God and his commandments. However, that still doesn’t grant you authority to punish or rage. It’s certainly not the most used format Christ showed us.

Most used? Well, there was the time Christ made whips and chased a bunch of people out of the temple. (John 2:13-22)  Yeah, Christ literally made a whip and drove out the sellers and exchangers of the temple. Even in this, Christ rebuked and taught. Christ, the sovereign King of Kings, also used force. Still, He could have done much more. Instead, he drove them out of the temple. The offense was turing the house of God into a house of trade. This description of God’s house warranted a stricter rebuke. But he still showed them their heart-wrongness. Is driving them out with a whip the correct course of action?

Someone might say that. Remember, we’re still looking at God in the flesh.  Driving people out of a church is a Biblically-based doctrine. There are several reasons the Bible gives to do just that. However, if we take up whips and add our punishment, we’re still taking on a role and sinfully placing ourselves where we don’t belong. 

God may punish in his wrath. God grants leaders, government and world leaders, authorities, that privilege. But us normal folks? We don’t have that right. Vengeance belongs to God. (Romans 12:19)

  So before you start searching for good whips to use on Amazon, remember who you are and where your authority lies. Parents have authority to discipline their children (discipline, not abuse). Governments have authority to punish law breakers. Churches may cast people out (and should for some specific reasons). However, even in this, those churches aren’t granted corporal authority. 

Because we’re talking about how to be angry and not sin, I had to mention that for the sake of transparency. Focus more though on the technique and process Christ followed on many other occasions.

Our options when we are angry are to rebuke, show heart-wrongness, and demonstrate the correct action; or we can just let the offense pass.

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” (Proverbs 29:11)

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11)

These are good things to consider the next time you start to feel your metaphorical pot beginning to boil. Stop for a moment and make sure your anger isn’t just a selfish expression causing you to want your way over another’s.

“ … or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;” (1 Corinthians 13:5) 

If your anger is holy, then you have to decide. Can you overlook an offense to your glory? If you can’t, then by all means, rebuke (tell them what they did wrong from a Biblical standpoint), show heart-wrongness (reveal to them how their sinful heart is tainting their actions), and demonstrate or teach the proper action.

For our panel: What are other times Jesus showed us how to righteously discipline a person? When we rebuke someone, should we be offended if they don’t repent? What are some ways one who has offended another may offer repentance? Does the Bible have any evidence of anyone other than God righteously punishing transgressions? How do we defend ourselves if we’re not guilty of the offense of which we are accused? How do we respond if we’re punished for something for which we are not guilty?

Musings on Christianity 9

Musings on Christianity 9

Scorekeeping Is Bad

When was the last time your wife frustrated you? When was the last time your husband said something rude to you? When was the last time your brother got on your nerves?

Do you keep a running tally? Have you ever said or thought something like, “You always … “ or “You never … “?

The thing is, the Bible doesn’t have anything good to say at all regarding holding grudges or being angry. The best thing it does is tell us that there is a distinction between righteous and unrighteous anger.

I don’t know about you readers, but this is a hard thing for me to do personally. I was raised in a sort of scorekeeping lifestyle. I did this, so now it’s your turn. You did this to me, so now I should be allowed to do this to you? I did this for you, so now you should feel obligated to do that for me. This sort of scorekeeping, trade sort of mindset isn’t Biblical.

When you hold on to anger in your heart, you’re feeding your spirit with the wrong sort of nourishment. There are several verses that warn about this.

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses,” (Proverbs 10:12). “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense, “(Proverbs 19:11). A

As usual, those who try to split the word of God tend to scoff at Old Testament scripture. (I’ve said they are part of a whole numerous times, but I am fully aware that those young in the faith or questioning of it try to create conflicts where there are none.)  So, with that in mind, here are some New Testament verses. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” 

And here we come to the crux of this chapter. The formula of Salvation is simple.

Christ’s death on the cross = sufficient for all sin. One death for all (Romans 6:10).

In that one, loving sacrifice, Christ redeemed all of our sins. Not just mine, not just yours, all the sins of the redeemed. Repentance for sin is the acceptance of that sacrifice and key for our Salvation. Those who don’t accept that salvation and repent of their sins aren’t covered.

But our human minds want that trade off. Our human minds want reciprocation. When we are hurt, we want those who hurt us to be punished. When we do something nice, we want something nice done for us.

Christians, Christ died on the cross for you? If your own human logic desires such reciprocation, why hesitate to die for him? This could be literal (as in being martyred), but in this case I mean in a metaphorical manner. Salvation is demonstrated by letting the old self die and taking up the life Christ gave for you (Romans 6:11)?

However, even then our salvation is a gift. Therefore, the forgiveness of our sins is also a gift, one given despite the number and severity of our sin.

Why then, do we harbor grudges? I understand my own shortcomings in this. I count everything. Not just what people do for or against me, but my own sins. I covet my sins and my transgressions, seeking to make up for the things for which I’ve already been forgiven. I haven’t yet learned to let go, and it affects my relationships.

Does it affect yours? The Bible is clear that I need a heart of forgiveness, but my sinful flesh, bred and nurtured on the concept of human payment, seeks more.

The only solution I can can consider is to hold fast to the word of God, and at my point in my development, this is a big cause. I have to hold fast to the fact that vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:19). I have to hold fast that the price for sin has been paid through Christ’s death (gospels).

If you are like me in this, repent with me. Address your grievance or as forgiveness (Matthew 5:24) or overlook the offense (Proverbs 19:11).

For our panel: What are some ways for one who’s used to holding on to his anger to let go? Why do people hold onto anger in that way? What are the dangers for people who can’t let go of the guilt of offenses they’ve already repented for? What verses can one memorize to help with this problem?

Sonnets For My Savior 28

Sonnets For My Savior 28


When the world calls to me,

let me choose You.

When it asks me to turn from You or use You for money,

let me choose You.

When the world offers me power,

let me choose You.

If the world offers me all the food I could devour,

let me choose You.

You are the creator of all things;

let me worship you and not your creation.

Help my heart seek only the joy Your love brings;

Help me cast aside my desire for the material for the grace of salvation.

Should the world offer me glory or fortune or fame,

please, Lord, let me instead choose to honor Your holy Name.


Thirst, Come, Drink

The water of the earth can’t compare.

Any who drink of it, will be thirsty again.

To those who truly thirst, do not despair;

True living water exists for such men and women.

Come to Him, who can satisfy your thirst.

Seek Him, and you will find.

All who come to him, be they last or first,

will be provided for, for he is the Savior of mankind.

Drink deeply the water he gives.

Drink ,and you will be filled.

For he is the Savior who died and yet lives;

He is the Messiah, who did just as God willed.

Only believe in Him, who has come from the Father,

for those who believe, out of their hearts, will flow rivers of living water.


Forgiveness and Peace

Please rid my heart of this anger.

Forgive me for this sin.

Change my heart, oh Great Redeemer,

and purify me from within.

I feel slighted,

but vengeance is yours.

The fury in my heart has been ignited,

but judgement is all an angry heart procures.

Help me to turn my cheek.

Help me to give away my cloak.

Take my prideful heart and make it meek.

Grant me a heart that doesn’t provoke.

Help peace reign where anger lives.

O Heavenly Father, please great me a heart that forgives.


Whom He Chose

Let us prefer to be foolish

rather than regarded by this world as wise.

Let us think all earthly things rubbish

next to Heaven’s glorious prize.

Let us choose to be weak

rather then regarded as strong.

For it is written that Heaven belongs to the meek.

He who relies on his own strength will discover himself wrong.

Let us praise our God who raised up what is low

to make nothing things that are.

For those who worship God know,

His power is the greatest by far.

Let us not seek to meet any standards of this earth,

but instead let us seek to praise God, for what he gives is all that has worth.


What Must Change

This world is broken,

and I lack the power to fix it.

My pride demands I be outspoken;

It pulls me from Christ and won’t let me submit.

If I claim I know what should occur,

I place myself on the throne of perfection.

The world can’t run as I prefer,

if indeed I’ve given Christ all my affection.

If he is my ruler,

I can’t demand control.

If Christ is my ruler,

I must trust in him with all my soul.

It isn’t the world that should change to my whim;

rather it is I who much change, which is only possible through Him.


The Betrayer

Woe to he who would betray

Christ the Savior on that fateful day.

This deaf fool heard all Jesus had to say,

but could not bear to submit and obey.

Woe to he who accepted thirty pieces of silver

as a blood price for his terrible deed.

He thought he was a clever deceiver,

but Christ choose him that Jesus may do as God decreed.

Woe to he who tried to feign remorse,

for his actions showed his lie.

Rather than face the consequence of his chosen course,

he instead chose to die.

Woe to he who betrayed Jesus with scorn,

For it would be better for him if he had not been born.



They spoke the truth about what would happen.

They recognized what the sign would do.

Their hearts were hardened against what was done then,

for they refused to see what was plainly true.

Lazarus rose, and many believed.

Rather than rejoice, the leaders feared they’d lose their place.

In truth, they weren’t deceived.

Rather they wanted to avoid disgrace.

But God found a use even for the blind Caiaphas,

For the high priests’ lips spoke prophetic words.

It is better that Jesus died for us.
Indeed, the death of the Lamb saved the herd.

God used their blind and hardened hearts for our gain.

For Jesus died and rose again, just as the Father did preordain.

Book Review: Anxious For Nothing by John MacArthur

Book Review: Anxious For Nothing by John MacArthur
Anxious for nothing
Image of the book’s cover was taken from for review purposes under fair use doctrine. 

I have been, and feel I will always be, a man of ambition. I’m constantly after something. I’m task and goal oriented. The bulk of my earthly motivations are built around a specific and (usually) measurable goal.

There are a lot of advantages to this. I consider myself reliable. People tend to come to me for results, and I would like to think I deliver. My drive has helped me to publish the books I’ve published and be recognized at work.

But that drive wears on not just me, but those around me. I say again, I’ll always be a man of ambition, but I don’t want my ambition to cause more selfishness than I already tend to demonstrate. I don’t want my ambition to push those I love away or blind me to things that I already have.

Those are the reasons I choose to read Anxious for Nothing as my next book by John MacArthur. Reading this has given me a new perspective on how to separate drive from stress. I’m still growing in this, but having a biblical perspective on life has already dramatically reduced my number of rants. I’m certain I used to have a daily average. Not only is this frame of mind sinful, it’s also just exhausting. I’d be mad at a coworker. I’d be annoyed at one of my friends. I’d be frustrated over my sales. All of these things are self centered. This book is essentially a blunt reminder that we trust God to provide for us. For one (such as myself) who seeks to move and do, that action can become sinful (and unhealthy) if it leads to stress and resentment.

Image of John MacArthur taken from his website for review purposes.

This book points out that fact, and it provides biblical reasoning for why that thinking is unnecessary. It’s hard for me to do, but the more I let go of my own pride, the more I find things working out. I don’t currently further endorse the phrase “let go, and let God.” My problem isn’t with the literal words, but the connotation they might have. If I just sit in my chair without eating or drinking, I’m going to eventually starve to death.

So rather than detract from MacArthur’s valuable insight, I choose to focus on a single verse:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

The more I focus on that, the more I find my other efforts bearing fruit. MacArthur’s book is an arrow pointing to a frame of mind that can truly bring peace to anyone working with stress or frustration. I’d recommend it to anyone, but it’s probably best suited for believers who may be feeling overwhelmed or stressed about their daily life.

Thanks for reading,


Sonnets For My Savior 21

Sonnets For My Savior 21


He held fast to the truth,

and his faith remained strong.

Every member of the Sanhedrin gnashed his tooth,

but Stephen knew he wasn’t wrong.

They charged him with blasphemy,

and he responded with scripture.

He described their own history,

and it was more than they could endure.

They dragged him out of the city

and stoned him to death,

but even during this atrocity,

he forgave them with his dying breath.

This is the price every disciple must be willing to pay.

One can only hope he faces death with the grace Stephen had on that day.



He persecuted Jesus’ followers.

He wanted to hunt them down.

On the road to Damascus, Jesus demonstrated His power.

Saul was blinded and led, by hand, to the town.

Three days he was without sight.

Then Ananias was called to heal him.

So it was done, and Saul saw the light.

He began to preach the gospel even at the risk of life and limb.

He became Paul, apostle to the gentiles.

With zeal, he planted church after church.

He went on to write 13 books of the Bible, called epistles,

Think, all this happened after he began an evil search.

Jesus converted a man driven by an evil obsession,

and now Paul stands as an example of Christ’s great redemption.


A Sling

A giant taunted a cowering king;

He shouted and cried for a fight.

Goliath was tall, powerful and frightening,

and he mocked Israel all through the night.

Then came the son of Jesse,

who heard Goliath’s call;

He said to the fearful king, “Let me!

for as the LORD wills, this giant must fall.”

Goliath saw the boy

and mocked him with boasts

Though the giant had a sword and spear that could destroy,

with David was the Lord of hosts.

For David defeated Goliath before the giant could take one swing,

and all this was done with but a stone from a sling.



I could give all I own.

I could sacrifice everything.

I could even break every bone.

But without love, it doesn’t mean anything.

I could provide great instruction.

I could lead with effectiveness.

I could even direct an amazing production.

But without love, it would all be meaningless.

I could offer great speeches.

I could learn every wondrous thing.

I could even study all Jesus teaches.

But without love, I gain nothing.

If I can only receive one thing from the Lord above,

let Him bless me by filling my heart with love.


The Seats of Power

God the Father

is from whom we exist.

His wisdom is far greater

than any human could enlist.

Christ the Son

is through whom are all things.

Every battle he has has been won.

All hail the King of Kings.

The Holy Spirit

will teach us all.

Blessed are those who hear it,

for those who can’t shall fall.

The seats of power are occupied by these three,

which can only mean there should be no room for me.



Keep my heart from folly;

don’t let my temper become hasty.

For I must be Holy as you are Holy,

And I can’t be that if I’m angry.

Help me be still;

Help me wait for You.

Let me focus on Your Will.

Help me do as you want me to.

Rather than let anger rule me,

let me be silent,

and trust in thee,

so my frustration might relent.

Help me put on a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Please hear my prayer, God of encouragement and endurance.


Give Them Up

“When I was a child,”

“I spoke like a child,”

“I thought like a child,”

I Reasoned like a child.”

Have I given up childish ways?

If I haven’t, can I claim to be a man?

Reveal the distractions that cause one’s heart to stray.

If we see them, we should forsake them if we can.

For a child clings to what he wants

and not what he needs.

A child resists his assignments

and when he is spoken to,he doesn’t heed.

If I am to grow in spirit or in life,

I must cast aside those things which cause me strife.