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Hate the sin, love the sinner, NOT.

I was having a lengthy conversation with a volunteer at a local food pantry.  We talked about process and procedures; you know the how  of administration of the way they provided the services.  The discussion rambled here and there until I made the remark, “Our greatest ministry in the food pantry is not the food, it is the provision of that food without destroying dignity.”  But how about those who are gaming the system?  Those who use our Christian charity without real need?  How about those who drive new luxury cars to pick up food only because it costs them nothing? It is hard to be a part of a ministry to people that really don’t deserve it.  What is my attitude to those who do not deserve?

Some would say, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.”  But hold on there.  That is not from the Bible.  It is a quote for Gandhi.  Is there a place for hate?  Is there a place for intolerance to imperfection?

Proverbs stats quite emphatically:

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies and one who sows discord among brothers.

The real issue is the more I study, the more I understand what God expects of me, the more I grow, the more I hate sin.  Not anyone else’s sin but only mine.  God hates the failure.  God’s wrath, righteous judgement and hate is reserved NOT for the action but for my inner failure.  It is not what we do, it is what we are.  If I think I am better that someone else, it is pride.  It may well never be exhibited outwardly in the form of words or actions but it is still a sin.  When I am hard-headed, God breaks through with his disfavor (wrath).  But it is not because He hates me, but  because He loves me.

God hates sin because He loves us and wants to be absolutely intimate with us, which is impossible as long as we “love darkness instead of light because [our] deeds are evil” (John 3:19). I have grown out of a black and white view of God.  Previously I saw God’s hate or wrath and God’s love as polar opposites. Years of experience and beating my head against the wall I have learned that God’s hate and God’s love are independent qualities that work together to achieve the same purpose, like a hard-nosed football coach who reams out his quarterback ruthlessly in practice to make him tough, but holds him for five minutes without a word while he sobs after losing a close game.

What do you think?  Leave a comment.


Passion is what energizes life. It is the zing in our waking.  It is the empowerment to go one more time. It turns the impossible into possible. In fact, if you don’t have any passion in your life, your ministry, your church, or in your salvation, you will become boring, dull, routine, monotonous. What I am saying here is, if you don’t have passion in your life you are not living. You are existing. God made you to live a passionate life and to serve him and his people with vitality. Life with vibrancy, energy, and enthusiasm is not the exception, it is the expected norm. He wants you to have this in your life.  If you are not living on the edge of excitement you are probably just taking up space.

In John 10, Jesus said “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” God wants you to live a full life, a fulfilling life, which is the basis for a fulfilling your calling to be one of his followers. If that’s true, that’s the kind of life God meant for us to live. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured. Sadly, however, countless thousands of pastors, hundreds of thousands of Godly church members and ministry leaders are simply enduring, holding on for the ride and hoping to survive until death without blowing it too badly.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.” God’s will for you is to live and lead in a spiritual adventure. The life that God plans for you is not a mundane boring life. It is an adventurous life. Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a daring adventure or it’s nothing.” I often think the same should be true of our spiritual walk – it’s a daring, bold adventure, or it’s nothing.

Brent Hobbs defines passion this way:
Passion is waking up in the morning wherever you are and bounding out of bed because you know there’s something out there that you love to do, that you believe in and that you’re good at. Something that’s bigger than you are and you can hardly wait to get at it again. It’s something you’d rather be doing more than anything else. You wouldn’t give it up for money because it means more to you than money.

What is the Church?

What is a true Christian Church?  Is it the name?  Some denominations have one of the names of God: Church of God, Apostolic Church of God, Church of the Nazarene, Christ Covenant, and Assembly of God.  Some are named with reference to the Bible: Beacon Bible Church, Church of the Living Word, Word of Life Church, Word of Faith, Bible Way, Community Bible Church and Bible Church.  There are Methodists, Baptists, Christian, Presbyterian, Christian Missionary Alliance, Covenant, Lutheran, Episcopalian Pentecostal, Calvary and on and on.

Is the church the style of worship?  There are churches with traditional styled services.  There are churches with contemporary styled services.  There are churches with celebration styled worship.  There are churches with sacramental styled worship. There are churches with no music in their services.  Some churches have light shows and modern stage presentations.  There are churches with pews and others with chairs.  There are churches that are big but most are small with less than 100 members.

All Christian churches are divided first into one of three areas.  Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. From there the divisions and branches are too numerous to go any further.

What the true mark of a true Christian Church are core beliefs? Those core understandings of God are what makes a church a Church.  Looking carefully at belief systems of many churches, most fall into specific core beliefs.  There are as many, what I would call periphery beliefs from style of baptism, to stands on the Gifts of the Spirit.

Now you wouldn’t be reading this unless you were willing to hear what I have to say makes the true Christian Church.

In the true Church the following is true:

  1. A belief in God as defined as belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Holy Spirit.
  2. The holiness of the Church and the communion of saints.
    1. The church membership requires salvation of the individual by faith.
    2. The church member is sent to propagate and extend the benefits of the saving grace of God.
  3. Jesus is Lord.
    1. Christ’s second coming, the Day of Judgement and salvation of the faithful.
    2. Jesus is the head of the church. Jesus is Lord.  Jesus is the ruler.
    3. Jesus is the purpose of everything that is done. This single core belief calls the church together as a community.  If the Church does not have Jesus as the purpose it is not a Christian Church.
    4. Jesus is the method of salvation. Only in belief in the forgiving power of Jesus is the power of salvation.
    5. The death, descent into hell, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
    6. Christ’s second coming, the Day of Judgement and salvation of the faithful.

So enough with the technical and theology.  My idea of a Christian Church is a church were a united community of believers are called together to worship and empowered to go out to the world with hope and purpose.  It is a place where the past never defines the believer’s future.  In my Church there is always redemption.  That redemption there is always a new brighter, blessed, hope filled day coming.  In my ideal church no one thinks himself better than anyone else.  Even to a point that my church is not any better than any other in town.  In my church each believer is doing the best that can be done at being the best we can be.  In my church there is a belief that we believe in God and God believes in us.  The ideal church, believers would not think less of those who do not believe like us, but there is an active pursuance of them in the same love that pursues us.

At my church the believers are still learning.  Learning to learn with an appetite directed to the scriptures.  Learning to serve God and neighbors with a joy in their hearts.  Believers are learning to worship God in more of their lives than just Sunday morning.  It is worship with the entire being and everything that is done. It is a congregation of believers that live, breath, cry, laugh, and love for God’s glory, honor, praise, and fame.  There is no place for an “I” in Church.

Caution must be had here.  There is no perfect church.  Believers still make mistakes.  Leadership make mistakes.  The difference is what is done in response to error.  The true believer, the leader, the church itself has to choose to not to give up.  It is a choice to use that failure as a stepping stone to growth.

The true church is part of the world of believers held together by the resurrection of Jesus.

The true church the believers choose to believe that God is real and God wants the best in us and for us.  The church the believers strive to server others in need of a touch, a prayer, meal, or a hug.  The true church is the hands and the feet of Jesus.

The true church is always inviting, loving, hoping, living, worshiping, praying, smiling amid tears, learning, and being more than the total of the lives of the believers.

R.O.M.E.O Retired Old Men Eating Out

At the church where I attend we have a monthly fellowship lunch that we affectionately call ROMEO. Retired Old Men Eating Out. There are not many who attend but the conversation is both rewarding and insightful. This Thursday one of the attendees pointed out that one of his growth goals is to find a new insight for each week of Advent. Two weeks have gone by and I wanted to share what he has learned.

First was simply that most of the characters of the bible story of advent were very ordinary. From the shepherds watching their sheep at night to right on to the star gazers from the nation of Persia. Mary and Joseph were very unassuming village folk forced to travel great distances to register for a census and along the way give birth to the savior of the world. The only one with any social status in the story was the inn keeper of the town of Bethlehem, and he could find no place in his upper status dwelling for a man and a woman that was great with child. God uses the most unlikely people to display the wonder of God’s world.

Secondly, my well educated attendee pointed out was the wonder that God would send a little baby to save the world. A single little individual with all the inherent characteristics of humanity including pain, disappointment, anger, resentment to come to this world and give himself for it even though they did not deserve it. As it says in Matthew 1:21 and speaking to Joseph. “you will call him ‘God Saves’ because He will save His people from their sins.

Remarkable that an ordinary yet divine human baby was destined to die for me to pay the price for my own stupidity.

Thanks Bill for sharing.

The Church of Nickels & Noses

God does not care as much about nickels and noses as men do. Carnal men glory in such things as nickels and noses. We live in a time of big meetings, big churches, big church buildings, big preachers, and big church budgets. The failure or success of a church and its pastor is judged by the number of nickels and noses that they have. In all too many cases, there is seen in this more Satanic pride than spiritual piety…

As a pastor for quite a few years I have many times been asked this question, and, no doubt, I will be asked it many more times if I live. Never has anyone ever asked me such questions as the following: “Are your services spiritual?” “Is Christ real to your people?” “Are your members hearing the whole counsel of God?” “Are your people growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ?” “Is there a spirit of unity and love in your church?” Evidently. these things are not important to modern-day religionists, who judge religious success by worldly standards–nickels and noses. I just wish one single time that a person would ask about something other than nickels and noses!


The philosophy of nickels and noses has drastically changed our churches for the worse. In the craze for nickels and noses churches have replaced preachers and pastors with puppeteers and pranksters. The gospel of Christ has been superseded by gimmicks, gum, gadgets, and games. Psychology has taken the place of Holy Spirit conviction. The faith has been displaced for finance, fun, and foolishness.

This syndrome has filled our churches with unconverted persons. We have far more churchianity than Christianity. The only change some church members made since joining the church was from wet to dry clothes following their baptism. Many church members are white-washed, but they are not blood washed.

It has produced icy services and cold, callous, complacent church members. Look at the average church! They have their robed choir, their cut and dried program, and their intellectual preaching. They have a beautiful edifice. They have all the organization and rituals one could ask for, but in most cases it is Spiritless! We have never faced such in our generation. We have form without reality; we have organization without power; profession without possession. We have a form of godliness without the power of it. We have religion without life.

It has caused pastors to spend more time worrying with goats than feeding the sheep. The pastor nowadays must provide a spiritual diet for people who have no spiritual appetite. Like Ezekiel of old (Ezek. 37:1-10), he must preach to dead, dry bones, but without the blessings which Ezekiel experienced. These dry, dead bones can’t hear, yet the pastor must keep preaching and pretend someone is listening. These dry, dead bones do not grow in grace, for the dead do not grow.

This idea has given us the gimmick gospel. Most church members want to be entertained instead of instructed in the Word of God. They have far more delight in the gospel of amusement than the gospel of the atonement.

It has made people look down on small churches. Preachers politic for the large churches which have a lot of nickels and noses. They will compromise their principles and preach almost any heresy to get a big church.

Church members like big churches so they can hide out in the crowd and have no responsibilities. They like the upper class in society. Such churches have skilled politicians as pastors who do not offend their many nickels and noses.

While there are some exceptions, most big churches are worldly churches. They have high carnality and low spirituality. Truth is very scarce in such fashionable churches because the Word of God has been compromised to keep nickels and noses. These churches are more like social clubs than spiritual centers. Christ has departed from these Laodicean churches (Rev. 3:14-22). All that keeps the people in such liberal organizations is their love for social prestige.

Who Am I?

I am sitting at my desk attempting to discover what I am. To determine in reality, what should be my chief concern. I need to come to some understanding of the why of my being. Is the chief concern of a man to see that his own soul is right in the sight of God. Is it “to thy own self be true”? It was the wise Solomon said, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” I see the thong of the world about me and their portrayal of those masses in all communication mediums and it seems its all about the right medicines, the right toilet paper, the right cell phone, the right crowd, the right breakfast, the right car, the right everything. You can add your own list of right things. But, in reality are these right things my chief concern? How many shirts can a guy wear, how many cars can I drive?

The common conciseness is not to think but take the hints of everyone else to dictate reality. But if every one is following, who is leading? We all seem to think a great deal about the covering of the body, but do not think anything about the ornaments of inside. The feeding of the physical frame engrosses much care, but the supply of internal intrinsic food is often neglected. I am more than what I wear, eat, drive, wipe, listen. I am more than this vessel. As long as I am overwhelmed with the outside the inside will starve. My outside is sucking up all the resources of my being and my soul is malnourished. Deep thoughts, but it is a step to meaningfulness.

Seed that would not grow.

One of my earliest memories of Marina Del Mar Elementary School was the day a little seven year old me witnessed a miracle.  Kindergarten was not what it is today.  Most of the time was spent normalizing wild children into a homogeneous group.  We played together and the teacher was there to mitigate and bring justice when there was a disagreement.

Oh back to the miracle.

It was time in the late morning for a science experiment.  Each little one was given a paper cup.  We were to go out into the play yard made up of dirt interspersed with hard metal rings and slides and instructed to fill our cup half full with dirt.  We were reminded that the quality of the soil would determine the outcome of the experiment.

Each child went out to find their dirt.  I went to the farthest corner under a large hedge row of Cyprus and dutifully dug a little hole and filled my cup half full with dirt.

Upon returning to the class room we poured out our diggings on individual paper plates and were given some dark soil to mix in.  I did not smell very good.

We refilled our cups with this mixture almost to the top.  George next to me spilled his and had to start over.

Each of us was given a little seed, about the size of a freckle we put on top and covered with the last of the ill smelling stuff.

We watered those little gardens every other day and left them in the window.

That’s no miracle you would say.  But my paper cup garden was different.  You see mine did not sprout out of the ground like the others.  Mine did not come up when everyone else’s did.

We planted them on Thursday. Friday we added water but no indication in any of them. On Monday three of the other kid’s cups had a little sprout of green. Tues the majority of the other kid’s had their sprout. Wednesday everyone had a sprout but me.

I was told that I must have had a bad seed. For a kindergartner that is not a very good answer for the sense of disappointment.

The teacher didn’t want me to start over because I would behind all the rest.  She suggested that I should look on with someone else.

But I would not give up.  I left my cup in the sun. I gave my cup water. Thursday and still no green sprout. Friday and no harvest.

Monday as I arrived at school, fully expecting to be disappointed again, I went to the window sill and there it was the miracle.


Not out of the middle of the cup where the seed had been planted, but close to the edge. In all its green glory my little plant had pushed its little sprout out of the dirt.  It was small but it was there.
The miracle was that in my hurry to plant the seed I had not been very careful with the dirt I had used.  I had placed my seed under a small stone.  The seed had in its effort to rise to the sun had come up against the stone and had taken four extra days to move something probably twenty thousand times as big as itself out of the way.

Never underestimate the power of a seed.