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Advice and Direction

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Advice and Direction

While babysitting my 4 ½ yr. old granddaughter at her house, I asked if she knew where some hand lotion might be.  My hands were really dry and even cracking around my knuckles.  Her response was spot on and priceless.

“Grandpa, go down the hall to my bedroom,” (as she pointed in that direction.) 

“Go over to my dresser.  On top on the right side there is a small tube of lotion with a blue cap. Snap open the blue cap.  Squeeze a little lotion into your hand. Close the cap and put the tube back on my dresser.”

Then, continuing to illustrate by rolling her hands over each other, she said, “Rub it in like this.”

These moments make me smile and now serve to outline a few thoughts about the advice and direction in our faith walk. She spoke from experience.  She spoke from a complete grasp of the situation.  She provided visual aids to show me what I needed to do.  And, she knew what I needed to meet my need.

The current sermon series on The Terrible Advice of Jesus creatively explores how Jesus’ comments from the perspective of the non-believing world can come across as counterintuitive, confusing or even terrible advice.  For instance, these two verses: “Turn the other cheek” (Mt 5:38) and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44) make no sense to many people. Yet they are part of Jesus’ terrible advice on how to live well. 

1 Peter 3:15: “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (NLT); or, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...(NIV)”

Comparing the two verses creates this truth:  As Christ-followers we are commanded to live out of and speak about our personal experience with Jesus Christ. As a response to salvific grace, we live our lives as thank-offerings.  To live as thank-offerings equates nicely to worshipping Him. Once we understand from what we have been saved and how, it is our reasonable act of worship to surrender all to His advice and direction, even if it seems terrible advice at times.  This verse doesn’t suggest, but commands that we live life from an experience of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This means we have put Jesus in the driver’s seat of our lives.

When I was about 3 yrs old my brother, Greg, was my savior.  I fell into a swimming pool and he, being 5 years older, plucked me out of the pool.  He saved me; yet, I don’t worship him.  I like him.  We get along well.  However, the one I worship saved me from eternal damnation: He died for me, so that I, in turn, can live for Him in grateful thanks.  Jesus is death-conquering hero, making Him a king worth to whom I can easily and fully surrender my everything. To honor, revere and worship Him as Lord means I check with Him, ideally, on every action and decision.  That is, I would not want to contradict my reverence by acting independently of His advice and guidance.  Life flows and goes so much better when I live like this. 

So, firstly, we speak from our experience with Jesus. He asks us to share our experiences with others to guide them to meet the ultimate need of their lives: a relationship with Him.

 Secondly, we need to  grasp the needs and neediness of those around us.  Sometimes we bemoan the state of our world.  We wring our hands in either worry or frustration. We read the paper. (I just started getting one again.)  We hear or watch the news. We know there are needs in the world.  We also know many will look sideways at believers; many will not understand our motivations; many will always be at odds with or antagonistic to people of faith; and, many live in ignorance about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I’m not saying people uneducated or stupid. I am saying that we who have an experience with Christ are obligated to show, tell and illustrate that experience – like my granddaughter did with the lotion.

Lastly, the people of this world need to be shown and experience the power of the Cross through the love and forgiveness of the people of the Cross. 

This passage challenges us to up our game and always be ready to offer truth in a grace-filled way, to turn the other cheek and to forgive.  This passage call us to live as a people of hope – which using hope as an acronym can mean – heavenly optimism pervading every day. Jesus lives in our hearts.  We worship him in our hearts.  With Christ as savior and Lord, we have lives of purpose, power, and directed toward heaven’s goals, and we shall, can and must be the most hopeful folks in the world. So, live life with a smile!

My granddaughter helped me meet a need because she shared clearly, directly and lovingly.  May we, like her, give advice and direction to meet the needs of rough, dry, and even cracked souls with whom we live, work and play.  May we with gentleness and respect share what we believe, why we believe and what a difference to our own souls our belief gives us.

As a Faith Development pastor let me offer a couple of ways to hone your practice and conversational skills to honor 1 Peter 3:15. Check out Alpha, and Fourward, and any of the numerous on-going women’s, men’s, co-ed groups.  To work out your faith walk, do it with others in community of small groups or serving groups. These groups are available at WRCC.  Just go to the website, snap open the “Connect” tab, and squeeze out some time and you’ll be prepared to give the reason for the hope that is within you!

Posted by Tim Garner with

If You Want to Make a Difference, You Have to be Different

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Coming off the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I'm still amazed that He came to this world and lived among us as a human being with the primary mission of dying for our sins and redeeming our eternal souls. Through His death, He saved us, but through His life, he taught us how to live our faith. Jesus did this both by his actions and through His teachings, the most famous of which is, perhaps, "The Sermon on the Mount," found in Matthew 5-7.

In this passage, a sermon delivered to a large crowd of people who had been drawn to Him, Jesus covered a myriad of topics about how His followers should live -- not as was common, but differently. 

  • The world says repay evil with evil, but Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek.
  • Religious leaders of the time made a display of their prayers, charity, and fasting, but Jesus said to keep those things private.
  • The world analyzes and criticizes our every move , but Jesus said, "judge not!" (Matthew 7:1-5)

Do Not Judge Others

In 2012, when I first felt called to jail ministry, I questioned how I could possibly minister to a population of women with whom I had so little in common. Or at least that is what I wanted to think. I have never had so much as a speeding ticket and my only run-in with the law was my elementary school D.A.R.E. program. How could I relate? How could I develop a relationship with addicts and criminals?


I was judging them. I was judging myself. I was comparing them to myself. And though I was using the same standard for both, I was using the wrong standard.

The point of Jesus' sermon was to illustrate what it means to live a life just like He lived -- perfect in the sight of God. The sermon also illustrates just how impossible that is for us because of our sinful nature. I was comparing myself to the incarcerated women based on our society's legal standard. By that standard, I believed myself to be much better than they.

But if I compare myself (and others) ONLY to the perfect standard modeled by Christ, I had to admit that I am exactly like those women. I am a sinner. Romans 3:23 reminds us, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. "All," as in, "everyone, even me."

God convicted me that I am just like that cartoonish character described in Matthew 7:3, who attempts to remove a tiny splinter from another's eye, all while I have a giant log embedded in my own, blinding me to the reality of my situation.

When I started looking to the standard set by Jesus Christ and the standard He detailed in His sermon, I realized I have a lot more in common with every woman in the Hamilton County Jail than I do with Jesus Christ. The most common bond we share is that we all need a savior, not another judge. 

When I admitted my own weaknesses, my own faults, and my own sinful nature, and accepted my dependence on grace, I realized I was in no position to judge others and it is not my place to do so. Later in the passage, vs 12, Jesus gives, "The Golden Rule," imploring us to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated.

How do I want to be treated? Do I want to be met by others with criticism and harsh judgement? (And believe me, there is plenty to judge.) Or do I want to be met with grace and love? That's an easy one. And since I want to be treated with grace and love, that is exactly how I need to treat others -- even addicts and criminals. Especially addicts and criminals. 

Does Jesus teach us to ignore the speck in the eye of a friend? Does Jesus instruct me to ignore the actions of the women to whom He has called me to minister? Not at all! I can acknowledge it, but I am not to judge.

If I ignore the chains of addiction that are dragging another person down, how can I help her realize that Jesus can break them? If I ignore the fact that women have chosen alcohol, or drugs, or ______, or _____, or whatever has control on their lives, how can I effectively help them learn that Jesus loves them and offers a better way?

In Matthew 7:5, Jesus explains, "First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."

He doesn't say, "then you can judge your friend," rather He says, "then you can deal with," it. And we deal with that speck the same way we deal with the log in our own eye -- through the grace afforded us through Jesus Christ.

It is in admitting our own sinful nature that we learn how to help others experience the same joy we have in Christ. It is in admitting our own faults that we come to realize we don't have the right to judge those of others. When we seek to help others, we can come from a position of loving humility, rather than from a place of proud judgement.

That is how we follow the "upside down" advice of Jesus Christ. That is how we live differently. That is how we can make a difference. 

Posted by Stacy Corwin with

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