Dads, don’t give up on leading your families in worshiping Jesus.
As difficult as it was to have our church buildings closed for several months, one of the surprising graces for many families has been the recovery of family worship. Yet in this recovery, many dads — including myself — discovered our shortcomings as family worship leaders.
Despite my role as one of our church’s pastors, I admit that in our home, family worship can at times feel more forced than joy-filled and more frustrating than fruitful. On many occasions, I’ve felt tempted to throw in the towel altogether. Perhaps you can relate. That said, we know that God’s will for fathers is to raise their kids “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), and that faithfulness requires pressing on in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Consider three common obstacles that often hinder dads in their efforts toward joy-filled family worship of Jesus.
Typically, when we think of family worship, we imagine the whole family huddled together to share in prayer, Scripture, and song. That’s not a bad way to think about family worship, but the first hurdle requires you to take a step back from intentional times of worship and to consider what else is competing for your family’s worship. The reality is, your family is always worshiping someone or something and, if you don’t consider the competition, you may be surprised to find that despite intentional times spent in God’s word and prayer, your family’s worship of Jesus may still be coming in second place.
You can identify what is competing for your family’s worship by doing a personal assessment of where and how your family spends the bulk of its time, money, and attention. Even more importantly, dads, draw in your wives and children, inviting them to help you determine what is most important in your family’s life. Ask questions like:
For all of the talk within the church about family worship, so few men and fathers today grew up in homes where Jesus was regularly worshiped, the Bible was consistently read, or their fathers played an active role in their spiritual maturation. Husbands and dads know they should be leading their families in worship, but many of us have received little practical discipleship in how to do so. As a result, many men feel as though they are inventing the wheel when it comes to family worship — and the wheel typically doesn’t roll smoothly at first.
I have found that when I’ve tried to hide my insecurities about leading my family spiritually, I’ve actually made our times around God’s word and in prayer painfully awkward and strained. Instead, when I’m honest about the weakness I feel to adequately lead my family, I experience God’s grace at work in and through me the most.
So, dads, clear the hurdle of awkwardness by naming your insecurities as they relate to leading your family in worship, and trust that in your weakness the Lord will prove the sufficiency of his grace and power (2 Corinthians 12:9).
3: Mere Knowledge
Deuteronomy 6:4–9 gives both the goal and mechanism for family worship. The goal is to cultivate a love for God that brings him glory, and the mechanism is saturating your life with his word.
The danger for many dads is to make family worship hardly anything more than an intellectual exercise. I know that I’ve been too easily satisfied at times with my children simply reciting the right answers about whatever passage of Scripture we’re studying or topic we’re discussing. Knowledge is good and necessary, but it’s not enough by itself. God’s chief concern is that the truth of his word is impressed upon our hearts: “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:6). The goal of family worship doesn’t end with learning; it ends with love.
“The goal of family worship doesn’t end with learning; it ends with a changed heart.”
With love as the goal, dads, take the lead in drawing out your family at an affectional level. One of the best ways to do this is to set the tone by expressing how you’re seeing God at work in your own heart. Encourage your wife and children with what the Lord is teaching you and ways you’re seeing him make you more like Jesus. Help them see how the gospel applies to their joys and sorrows, and encourage each of them in the particulars of their lives.
As you approach family worship, clear the hurdle of mere academic exercise by remembering 1 Corinthians 13. If you have family devotions but have not love, you are a noisy gong and ultimately gain nothing. Pursue love, and you gain God.
Consistency Is Key
Family worship is significant but surprisingly simple. Dads, you don’t need to overcomplicate leading your family in worship. God has given you his word, and his Holy Spirit, and promised to work in and through your weakness. With the Spirit’s help, repent of ways your family has valued other activities and worshiped things above Jesus. Then set aside regular times to read the Bible together, sing, discuss, and pray.
Your family’s worship will not always feel profound (though it is!). You will certainly face all sorts of distractions — from wriggly toddlers to defiant teenagers. Sometimes family worship will feel forced. At other times it will feel frustrating. But consistency is key.
God’s word never returns empty and always accomplishes what he has purposed (Isaiah 55:10–11).
So, don’t give up even when you feel like your efforts are fruitless. Fight the good fight of faith, and trust that God will use your perseverance in family worship to cultivate deeper love for him and neighbor. Be faithful, and leave the results to Jesus, the true worship leader of your home.
Should you like more helpful guidance on establishing a devotional time each day with your family, please let me know and I will gladly be there for you to offer encouragement and help to get going or keep going.
Faithfully In Christ
There have been two transactions, not one. The first payment, the price of our redemption, was made in order to satisfy all other claims over all men everywhere. Twice in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians he tells the believers that they have been bought with a price, which price Peter tells us is “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1: 18, 19). However, a second transaction was, and is still being, made to those who turn to Him in faith … to us. Jesus did not just settle the debt I owed, He purchased me and therefore has rights over me, His purchased possession.
The second payment is not the price that has been paid for sin, to redeem us to God: that price is the precious blood of Christ. The second payment is the gracious Holy Spirit of God.
In Ephesians 1: 14 the AV uses the term “earnest” to denote this payment which is translated literally as pledge, alternatively a down payment. Strong’s identifies the Greek word as “arrabon”, which means a pledge, or surety. It is a commercial term, referring to that part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the remainder – the balance of the purchase price. In modern parlance we would speak of a security deposit.
In modern Greek “arrabona”, a slightly different word, refers to an engagement ring - an expression that some prefer as linking with the concept of the Church as a bride. Whilst this has appeal it confuses two thoughts:
All Christendom has the Scriptures in common, but not all who handle the Scriptures belong to Jesus. What then makes the difference?
The gracious Holy Spirit of God! He is the difference
The table is a place to remember the blessing of God.
There is a concept from a number of years ago that encouraged Christian families to guard their time around the meal table.
The techno world we live in and embrace has in many homes robbed the family of a healthy time of communication with each other. Everyone is on their device or watching television or both and if anyone speaks, it is sometimes perceived as an inconvenience by the rest of the family.
The concept was suggested that Christian families should ensure they sit around the meal table and engage each other as they eat and utilize this quality time, and then conclude it with a devotional time in God's Word and Prayer.
There is a lot of value in this concept and it is by no means a new one. Perhaps you could be encouraged to explore how frequently the Christian Community and Body of Christ and in fact even before this, the Jewish nation in Scripture reveals so much value and situations that revolve around the meal time table.
Jesus empowered the ancient church with a strategy for communion designed to create unity, loving community, and holiness in view of His return. One part of this strategy was to celebrate the Lord’s Supper frequently. The other was to partake of the elements in the context of an actual meal.
Perhaps before we invite people to Jesus or invite them to church, we should invite them to dinner
Sharing tables is one of the most uniquely human things we do. No other creature consumes its food at a table. And sharing tables with other people reminds us that there’s more to food than fuel. We don’t eat only for sustenance.
The Table as a Place of Connection
Tables are one of the most important places of human connection. We’re often most fully alive to life when sharing a meal around a table. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, to find that throughout the Bible God has a way of showing up at tables. In fact, it’s worth noting that at the center of the spiritual lives of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments, we find a table: the table of Passover and the table of Communion. New Testament scholar N. T. Wright captured something of this sentiment when he wrote, “When Jesus himself wanted to explain to his disciples what his forthcoming death was all about, he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.”
In the fast-paced, tech-saturated, attention-deficit-disordered culture in which we find ourselves, Christians need to recover the art of a slow meal around a table with people we care about. “Table fellowship” doesn’t often make the list of the classical spiritual disciplines. But in the midst of a world that increasingly seems to have lost its way with regard to matters of both food and the soul, Christian spirituality has something important to say about the way that sharing tables nourishes us both physically and spiritually. We need a recovery of the significance of what we eat, where we eat, and with whom we eat.
In Matthew’s account of the Last Supper, he writes, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’” (Matt 26:26). The same pattern of language—blessing, breaking, and giving—also shows up in the accounts of Jesus’s miraculous feedings, as well as in the scene in which Jesus is recognized by the disciples with whom he had walked on the road to Emmaus.
We need to recover the importance of gathering with our family and with people around our tables for the purpose of enjoying a meal as both a gift and means of fellowship and encouragement. Such gatherings don’t need to involve lavish spreads. They can, in fact, be quite simple. But they are those meals where we gather with guests and get a glimpse of the banquet of the kingdom to come, those meals where we get a little foretaste of the shalom of God. (I use the word Shalom as we don't seem to have an English word that singularly embraces it all). A Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility.
So let me encourage you to make a concerted effort in two areas:
1. In your home, enjoy your meal time around a table as opposed to in the lounge watching tv, and conclude your evening mealtime with a scripture reading and family prayer time.
2. Think of someone each month that you can invite to share in your meal with you as you enjoy the meal the Lord has provided, and encourage them.
When speaking to people during this Lockdown period of the Corona pandemic, I have found that some folk harbor bitterness and unforgiveness towards a friend or family member. In some cases these go back years and often seems to happen around times of grief over the loss of a loved one.
Forgiveness is getting your heart right with God by making the choice to forgive others and by receiving His forgiveness.
Forgiveness does not mean you are relieving someone of responsibility for his or her actions. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean you trust that person. Forgiveness is the act of letting God’s love flow through you.
Think about the above definition for a moment.
Doug Easterday says, “You’re not alleviating responsibility from anyone by forgiving them. You are transferring it to where it really belongs and that’s with God. They will answer to God someday, but if you’re requiring them to answer to you, then you have as big a problem as they do.”
Forgiveness is obedience to God.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV).
Lord, it is only by Your power that I can forgive. Keep me from destroying myself with unforgiveness. Amen.
Greetings Knysna Community & Lagoonside Church Family
This Sunday the 26th July, we will be opening the doors for Church Fellowship.
We will be having our meetings 10 am Sundays. Should you be considering joining us at church then please read the following guidelines we will be following:
Notice Guidelines For Convening for Church at the Building
Between Services all surfaces like tables and chairs etc to be sanitized including kitchen counters and toilet facilities.
We will maintain a Register of attendees. Kindly send Kristen the following information once off for each of you that will attend :
(a) Full names;
(b) Residential address;
(c) Contact Details: cell number, telephone number or e-mail address
Any form of socialising should be done only outside and 1.5m apart
Where places of worship remain open to the public for visits, prayer or counselling, No substance or liquid may be shared between persons.
We thank you in advance and look forward to seeing those who come.
Those who remain home, we will continue to service you via current media being used. Should you have a friend or family member you would like to be included in on that format, send us their details to incorporate them.
We thank the Lord for His continued grace each day!
Dealing With Your Anger
Chances are, almost everyone here was angry at least once this past week. It may have been minor frustration with another driver or being irritated with your kids for not putting away their toys. It could have been a situation at work. Some husbands and wives live with daily anger and hurt feelings. Some parents and their children are in a constant battle of outbursts of anger and abusive words. Many adults have hurts from childhood that keep bubbling to the surface. Every time they think about them, they seethe with anger.
Don't be thinking you don't get angry or downplay it. In The Christian Counsellor's Manual ([Baker], p. 359), Jay Adams states, “Anger is a problem for every Christian; sinful anger is probably involved in 90 percent of all counselling problems.”
Think of what would happen if everyone learned to deal with their anger! Child abuse and divorce would be eradicated. Murder, terrorism, and war would stop. And many health problems would clear up. Doctors believe that anger can harm the heart as much as smoking and high blood pressure do. The number one predictor in cardiovascular disease—more important than cholesterol—is mismanaged anger. Besides high blood pressure and heart disease, anger can result in many other serious health problems. So our text is very practical. Paul says, Christians must put aside all sinful anger and abusive speech.
Col 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
If you’re honest, your reaction to this verse is probably, “I agree! But, really, how do you do it?” It’s easy to say, “Put all your anger and abusive speech aside.” But it’s another thing to do it!
Paul’s advice here reminds me of the hilarious Bob Newhart routine where he is a psychologist and a woman comes for counsel because she is afraid of being buried alive in a box. (Watch it on You Tube when you need a good laugh.) Newhart’s counsel for her phobia, plus several other problems, consists of two words: “Stop it!” He screams it at her over and over, “Just stop it!” She tries to bring up how her mother treated her as a child, but Newhart says, “No, we don’t go there. Just stop it!”
Well, here Paul seems to say, “You’re angry? Just stop it!” “But, Paul, when I was a child, my parents abused me. So now I seethe with anger.” “Put it all aside!”
“But, Paul, my wife nags me constantly until I explode with anger.” “Put it all aside!”
“But Paul, my husband is a workaholic who leaves all the housework and dealing with the kids to me. He’s so inconsiderate! I’m so angry with him!” “Put it all aside!”
“But, Paul, my kids don’t do what I say, no matter how many times I ask them to do it. The only way I can get them to obey is to yell at them!” “Put it all aside!”
“But, Paul, you don’t understand. My boss at work favours his daughter who works for the company and he treats me unfairly. I get so angry. I just hate him!” “Put it all aside!”
It’s as if Paul had taken lessons from Bob Newhart! He doesn’t say that it will take years of psychotherapy to work through your anger issues. He doesn’t tell these new believers to sign up for an anger management class. He simply tells them, “Put it all aside.”
I wonder if we’ve made things more complicated than they need to be. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul writes to people from pagan backgrounds who had been involved in some pretty serious sins which undoubtedly left them wounded and scarred (Col. 3:5-7). They didn’t have study Bibles and Christian books on how to deal with anger. There were no video series by famous Christian counsellors. In fact, there were no Christian counsellors! There were no magazines offering self-help articles on anger management. And all Paul says is, “Put it all aside.” That’s amazing! What can we learn from this verse in the context of this letter?
1. Honestly analyze your anger to determine whether it is righteous, sinful, or mixed.
It is striking that in verse 6 Paul mentions the wrath of God, but then in verse 8 he tells us to put aside all anger and wrath (“anger” in v. 8 is the same Greek word as “wrath” in v. 6). But if God has wrath and He gets angry (Exod. 34:6; Ps. 7:6) and we are to be godly, then why do we need to put aside all wrath and anger?
In Colossians 4:16, Paul tells his readers to swap letters with the church in Laodicea. Many scholars think that Ephesians was a circular letter sent to all the churches in Asia Minor and that it’s the one he refers to as coming from Laodicea. If so, the Colossians also read it. In Ephesians 4:26 (quoting Psalm 4:4) Paul wrote, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Then, a few verses later (Eph. 4:31), he told his readers to put aside all anger. These and other Scriptures show that anger can be either righteous or sinful. What’s the difference?
Righteous anger is the godly reaction to sin or injustice. God’s wrath is His settled opposition against sin. In fact, most biblical references to anger refer to God’s anger, not to human anger. Jesus was angry without sinning when He encountered unbelief and hypocrisy (Mark 3:5; John 2:14-17; Matt. 21:12-13; 23:13-33). If we become like Him, we, too, will be angry and feel hatred toward sin, hypocrisy, and injustice. In fact, when you hear of babies being slaughtered by abortion or of criminals going without proper punishment, it raises a righteous anger!
So the first step in dealing with your anger is to stop and honestly analyze it: Is it righteous anger, sinful anger, or a mixture of both? Think about why you’re angry. God used this approach with Cain when He asked, “Why are you angry?” (Gen. 4:6). God never asks questions to gain information, but rather to help the person think about the situation from God’s perspective. Cain was angry because God had rejected his sacrifice and he was jealous of his brother, whose sacrifice God had accepted. God went on to exhort Cain to do well and to warn him that sin was crouching at the door, ready to devour him. But Cain ignored God’s counsel and murdered his brother.
The prophet Jonah was angry because he wanted God to judge his enemies, but instead God had brought a revival and forgiven them. God specifically asked Jonah more than once, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” (Jon. 4:4, 9) Jonah angrily insisted that he did have good reason to be angry, but it’s obvious that he did not.
So, be careful! The Scottish hymn writer, George Matheson, said, “There are times when I do well to be angry, but I have mistaken the times.” It’s easy to justify sinful anger by claiming that it was righteous. And even legitimately righteous anger is often tainted by sinful anger.
The embarrassing truth is that when I analyze my anger, almost always it is rooted in selfishness: I didn’t get my way and I want my way! I didn’t get my rights and I demand my rights! So the first step in overcoming anger is to analyze it honestly before God by looking at why you were angry. If selfishness had any part in your anger, it was sinful.
But, maybe you’re thinking, “How is that helpful? Admitting that my anger was sinful only makes me feel guilty!” But, the good news is that the Bible has the solution for victory over sin! Thus …
2. You can control your sinful anger.
Christ died both to take away the guilt of our sins and to give us power through the indwelling Holy Spirit to overcome our sins. Paul’s simple command to put aside our anger implies that we can control it. He doesn’t make exceptions for those with short fuses or for those who have been victimized. He just says (Col. 3:8), “Put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”
You may protest, “But the problem is, I can’t control it! I explode before I think about it. Telling me to stop being angry is like Bob Newhart telling that claustrophobic woman to stop it.” But that’s not true. I offer two proofs:
First, the Bible never commands us to do what we cannot do by the power of God’s indwelling Spirit. Besides Paul’s commands here and in Ephesians, there are many other direct commands in the Bible. The Book of Proverbs has well over a dozen verses about controlling anger (e.g., 12:18; 14:16, 17, 29; 15:1, 18; 16:32; 17:14; 19:11). God told Cain that he must master his sin and temptation (Gen. 4:7). While Cain probably did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling him, if he had cried out, “God, I can’t master my sin! Give me Your strength to obey You,” God graciously would have answered.
But all believers in Jesus Christ have the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13). In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists a number of deeds of the flesh, including “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, and envying,” which all are related to sinful anger. He goes on (Gal. 5:22-23) to list the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control,” most of which are the opposite of sinful anger. The key to moving from the deeds of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit is (Gal. 5:16): “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
So while it may be humanly impossible to control your anger, if you’ll confess it as sin and learn to walk in the Spirit in obedience to God, you can control it or else God’s Word is not true. The word “fruit” implies that it is a growth process. These qualities require nurture and attention. But if, the second you feel anger welling up inside of you, you stop long enough to recognize it as sin, yield to the Holy Spirit, and rely on His strength, you will see increasing victories over your anger.
Second, your own experience proves that you can control your anger if you want to do so. Every one of us has controlled our anger—instantly turned it off—when we wanted to. For example, you’re having a heated argument with your spouse when the phone rings. You pick it up and hear my voice on the other end. “Oh, pastor! How nice of you to call!” What are you doing? Yes, you’re being a hypocrite! But, also, you’re controlling your anger! Or, your boss does something that makes your blood boil, but you know that if you explode at him, it will cost you your job. So you keep a lid on it. You’re controlling your anger. (I’m indebted to Adams, ibid., p. 352, note 8, for this basic idea.)
Even non-Christians can control their anger. Magazines like Reader’s Digest often feature self-help articles with tips on how to control your anger. Psychologists offer anger-management classes that must be somewhat effective or they would not continue to get students. Gandhi had a motto on his wall which read, “When you are in the right, you can afford to keep your temper; when you are in the wrong, you cannot afford to lose it.” So if the world without God can control anger, we who have the Holy Spirit living in us need to get rid of the excuse that we just can’t control our anger. That’s not true.
What is it we are to control? “Anger” and “wrath” are often used somewhat synonymously. If there is a difference, “anger” has the nuance of a settled, deep-seated animosity that grows into hatred. “Wrath” comes from the Greek word meaning, “to boil” and refers to outbursts of anger (Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28; Gal. 5:20). “Malice” is a general term for wickedness; here refers to, “Having it in for someone.”
“Slander” is the word used for blasphemy against God, which means to damage God’s honour or reputation. Here it means to speak against someone by tearing down their reputation. You make them look bad and yourself look good. “Abusive speech” means using insults, whether profanity or not, to put down another person. It’s the opposite of words that build up the other person and give him grace (Eph. 4:29). Our anger usually works its way out in angry words that tear into the other person. But Paul’s command shows that we don’t have to yell or use foul language that attacks the one we’re angry at. We can control our tongue, even when we’re angry, to bring grace and healing.
So the first step when you’re angry is to stop long enough to analyze it: Is it righteous, sinful, or mixed. Then, realize that you can control your sinful anger.
3. Recognize and confess your sinful anger and submit to God’s sovereign hand in the situation.
Before I can deal with my anger by putting these things aside, I’ve got to recognize that I am angry, that it’s sin, and that I’m responsible for it. If you’re really brave, ask your wife, “Am I an angry man?” But don’t get angry if she tells you the truth! So many Christians either deny being angry; or, they’ve bought into the psychological hogwash that says, “Feelings aren’t right or wrong; feelings just are.” So rather than confessing their anger as sin and turning from it, they accept it as okay. I’ve known of Christian counsellors who tell angry people that they have a right to be angry because of how they’ve been treated. Some even advise, “Tell God off! He can take it! Tell Him how angry you are with Him!” These are unbiblical, worldly strategies for dealing with anger.
God’s way is not for us to blame the person who wronged us or to justify our anger as right when it is sin. It’s never right to blame God for allowing some difficult situation that came into my life! Rather, when I’m angry I should acknowledge, “I have sinned” (2 Sam. 12:13; Ps. 51:4) Confessing it means accepting responsibility for it and taking appropriate action to turn from it. It means going to the one I was angry with and asking forgiveness. I must believe that God sovereignly out of His goodness allowed whatever happened to me for my good. So I must submit joyfully to His mighty hand (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28; 1 Pet. 5:6-10), asking Him to teach me what I need to learn from this trial.
4. Deal radically and decisively with all of your sinful anger.
The command of verse 8 parallels that of verse 5, where Paul said to put these sins to death. “Put them aside,” was used of taking off a garment. In Colossians 3:12-14, Paul commands us to put on many godly behaviours, summarized by love. “Putting off” and “putting on” are decisive actions that we can and must do. The Holy Spirit produces His fruit of self-control in us, but we are responsible to walk in the Spirit so that we do not fulfil the deeds of the flesh, such as anger. A passive approach to anger doesn’t work. You’ve got to confront it head on; it won’t go away by itself.
To deal radically and decisively with anger, you’ve got to develop a biblical strategy. First (and foremost!), make sure that you’ve trusted in Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and give you eternal life. The minute you believe in Jesus, you receive the Holy Spirit who takes up permanent residence in your heart. Then you need to learn to walk in moment by moment dependence on the Spirit, yielding control of your life to Him.
Also, memorize key Scriptures that relate to anger. Proverbs 12:18 states, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” You can use your tongue like a sword to destroy or like a scalpel to heal. God has brought that verse to my mind many times just as I was ready to start swinging my “sword”! Another helpful verse is James 1:19-20, “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” There are many other helpful verses that God can use, but only if you’ve committed them to memory. You won’t have a Bible and concordance available when you’re tempted to be angry!
If you have sinned by being angry, go to the person and humbly ask forgiveness for your wrong. If as husband and wife, you’ve argued angrily in the presence of your kids, call the family together. Men, take the initiative by telling your kids, “When I yelled at your mom, I sinned. I’ve asked God to forgive me and I asked your mother to forgive me. I want to learn how to please God by not getting angry in the future.” Ask your kids’ forgiveness when you get angry with them. Otherwise, they will smell hypocrisy: Dad claims to be a Christian and he puts on a good front at church, but he doesn’t act like a Christian at home!” Our homes should be permeated with the love of Christ, not with sinful anger.
Also, to conquer your anger, spend time daily meditating on God’s mercy to you at the cross. Paul goes on to say (Col. 3:12-13), “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” How did He forgive us? Paul already told us (Col. 2:13): “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” Now we are totally identified with Christ, who is our life (Col. 3:1-4)! Meditate on these wonderful truths daily!
Another way to deal decisively with anger is, pray for and with those you’re angry with. If a quarrel erupts in the family, husbands, take the initiative to say, “Hold on! Let’s stop and ask God for wisdom on how to resolve this His way.” Don’t preach at your mate or at your kids with your prayer: “Lord, please help my wife and kids not to be so angry!” Confess your own anger and ask the Lord to help you show His love to your family.
The point is, your anger won’t get better by itself if you don’t take radical, decisive action to put it aside. You’ve got to recognize that all sinful anger and abusive speech are not pleasing to the Lord. They’re old, dirty clothes, but they should be cast aside by the person who has died to the old life and has been raised up to new life with Christ. Don’t accept it or excuse it as normal. Anger can be controlled if you analyze it as to its source, recognize and confess it as sin, and deal decisively with it as you walk in the Spirit.
In the Sermon on the Mount, after speaking about how anger makes us guilty of murder in God's sight, deserving of hell, Jesus applied it by saying (Matt. 5:23-24), “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” To paraphrase, “If you’re at church and you remember that you’re at odds with someone, God is more concerned about your being reconciled to that person than He is with your worship while you’re still at odds.”
Our relationships, especially in our families, are very important to the Lord! Don’t live in anger all week long and then put on a veneer of worshiping God on Sundays. He wants us to put aside the old, dirty clothes of sinful anger and abusive speech and to put on the new, clean clothes of love, kindness, and forgiveness in Christ. The Lord’s Supper is a frequent reminder of how He forgave us. Even so, we are to forgive and love one another.
Is Paul’s command to put aside all anger simplistic? How much do we need to probe the past to resolve our anger issues?
What has been the most difficult aspect for you in controlling your anger? How can you deal with it?
Since anger is largely a feeling, how can God command us not to be angry? Can we control our feelings? At what point do our angry feelings become sin?
God asks Cain (Gen. 4:6), “Why are you angry?” How can asking yourself that question help you deal with your anger?
This Sunday is Father's Day
This must be a time we pray for the men in our lives, families, community and country.
At Lagoonside church in Knysna of the GardenRoute, we firmly believe the end goal of the Christian life is to become the man that God wants us to be. We do this by allowing his vision, mission, purposes, and goals to shape our lives. This involves healthy habitual disciplines.
A discipline, or in our case "spiritual discipline," is a training activity that helps to shape and mould character over an extended period of time that accelerates and focuses the process. Spiritual discipline is the "strict training" that Paul was talking about 1 Corinthians 9:25-27.
1Co 9:25 "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
Here are some Foundational Spiritual Disciplines to embrace
Prayer is a fundamental discipline, and we men need to learn to build prayer routines into the daily patterns of our lives. Prayer is talking with God. For newer Christians, talking to an unseen God is unusual. And it's unusual because when we are having a conversation, there is usually someone physically standing in front of us that talks back. Prayer does not exactly work like this. But the small hurdle of learning to talk with an unseen God is not the central issue men have with practicing the discipline of prayer. The primary problem is all the other pressing issues that keep us from praying and developing a pattern of prayer. Daily we face demands that compete for our time or distract us. Because of this, men go days, weeks, and even months devoid of prayer, trusting only in human effort rather than also trusting in God through prayer. This can leave us feeling physically exhausted and spiritually depleted. Since so many other things compete with this priority, we need to be reminded of its priority and encourage men to strive to make time.
One of the best methods to help you get moving into regular prayer is the A.C.T.S. Method. This acronym stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. This method is easy to learn and easy to use.
People want the truth, and I believe they're on a search for it. As Christians, we believe truth originates from God alone. God's Word is the revelation of the truth, and Jesus is the physical representation of truth. But we cannot know the truth if we don't know how to spend time in the Word and with Jesus. Small doses of it, spoon-fed in short readings one time a week on a Sunday morning is not enough. Men, I challenge you to read your Bible. We can show you how to read it, study it, memorize it, and pray it. To teach someone how to read and study the Bible; is the greatest gift we will ever give a man. And it's the primary way we hear from God. The following are a few pointers on how to get started.
First, just start reading. I would recommend starting in the New Testament with the Gospel of Mark, as we are teaching through it on Sundays already, maybe even use a Bible App on your phone. (I'd recommend you use a KJV or ESV version). Read a few minutes each day. One of the great apps over the last few years that I have pointed men to is the Daily Audio Bible or the YouVersion Bible.
Second, read a trusted devotional. Short and easy-to-read devotionals teach us how to dig meaning from the Bible. I would use a devotional that includes Bible verses and then expands on these verses. When it comes from a trusted person or trusted source, it helps you to learn how to draw practical application from your Bible reading. It's like having a personal coach as you focus on a few verses from the scripture.
Third, establish regular patterns. This step is not so much about quantity or quality--it's about developing a routine. Setting small daily goals and repeating them is essential. Even ten minutes per day for a month will result in positive habits and will become rewarding over time. Then increase the repetitions and the length of time as able.
Third, go to the next level by learning how to study the Bible. This is a little more involved and requires more effort, but it's the greatest gift you could ever give yourself or another man. I would use the Inductive Bible Study Method. This method will teach you how to observe, interpret, and apply God's Word correctly. While it's great to learn from a pastor and discover how they observe, interpret, and apply the Bible, every man should learn how to become self feeding, to discover the truths in God's Word for themselves. Speak to one of the Elders /Pastors for help with this.
Men need relationships with other men. Most men not only fail to develop meaningful relationships with other men, but they also lack adding in the spiritual component that must undergird it. Men prefer to go life alone for several reasons—time is valuable, relationships take work, chemistry is challenging, and autonomy is easier. But the biggest reason I believe men don't establish spiritual connections with other men is that many have never experienced one before. Having never had one, they don't know how to do it, and because of this, they have never experienced the benefit. All this leads to men defaulting to superficial male relationships that focus on trivial matters. They press the easy button.
Men who participate in one on one relationships or small groups mature spiritually faster than those who do not. This environment is a place where the previous three disciplines can be sharpened and experienced. Men need to be involved in a Christian community, and not just the occasional weekend gathering. Smaller gatherings regularly are where men can discover some things about themselves and others. Spiritual growth doesn't happen in isolation; it occurs in a community, and men need other men. When men link arms, great things happen. Take, for example, Jesus and his men. What Jesus did changed the world, but he used other men, otherwise the world would have never heard the good news Jesus proclaimed.
Accountability with another man is perhaps the leading indicator of spiritual success in a man's life. Brothers in accountable relationships make a great man of God. Jonathan made David better. Barnabas made Paul better. Paul made Timothy better. Jesus made the Twelve better. And it wasn't just happenstance and acquaintance; it was intentional brotherhood with substantial doses of accountability.
Spiritual accountability is perhaps one of the most misunderstood practices in male spiritual relationships. I believe this is because when men hear the word "accountability" in a religious context, they immediately assume a negative connotation. Men mostly hear about a need for accountability when issues of sin arise. Therefore accountability means that we need help because we can't overcome our financial problems, sexual addictions, or marital conflicts. This understanding is unfortunate because it has given accountability a bad name and leaves out all the spiritual potential of accountability in brotherhood. If we brand accountability this way, it makes a man look weak, and men don't want to feel and look this way—unless they are in desperate need of help and don't care.
Here are a few things we need to understand about accountability. First, it needs to be proactive and positive, not exclusively reactive and negative. Spiritual accountability should be focused on the things I should start doing and continue doing. While occasionally, we all need a little accountability around some areas of sin that I need to stop doing, failure to fill the void activities we've stopped with activities we need to start fails to initiate positive momentum. We need some accountability around actions that will have a proactive and positive impact on our spiritual life. For example, men need accountability in praying with our wife, regularly giving, reading Scripture, forgiving self, casting anxiety on God, and things like this.
Second, men need to invite self-imposed accountability. Too often we think someone else needs to hold us accountable, and I think this idea, while well-meaning, fails to work successfully. However, when a man invites self-imposed accountability based on declared goals, there is a much higher return and long-term benefit. Accountability of any kind that is self-imposed produces more significant results—this is especially true in this case.
Third, accountability needs to be spiritually-focused. We need men not only to hold us accountable but to help us dig for the spiritual aspects. Accountability to behaviour change is essential but add in the spiritual purpose and potential spiritual outcomes of it, and then we focus on doing the right behaviours for the right reasons. We have to remember we are becoming the men God wants us to be, and we are doing it for his glory, not our own. Therefore, when it comes to accountability, here is what we are looking for positive willing spiritual accountability.
Christian men who are accelerating their spiritual growth are involved in personal ministry. Personal ministry includes things like mentoring other men, leading a small group, teaching a class, organizing a mission trip experience, serving on a board of a non-profit, or conducting a study in a workplace environment. I get excited when men do this because now they are moving from being a disciple to discipling others. They are finding unique ways to use their passion and talent for eternal benefit.
Some men need to be pushed to take this step. Too often men wait too long before taking this step. And I think men sometimes need a little push on this one since they prefer to disqualify themselves for lack of knowledge and because of personal sin. They need another man to say, "Get off the bench and into the game."
Speak to our pastors and see how you can be encouraged and built up in the faith. Make yourself available in the Sunday Meetings to be involved in the service, attend Iron Man Men's Digging Deeper Study each week, bring a friend to one of our Men's Breakfasts, or get involved in a Life Group Or Men's Bible Study.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2Pe 3:18)
Forty Days Of Prayer
Pointers to Ponder on Prayer This Week
Prayer is like breathing, it is essential to the abundant life of the believer. We should be aware of the fact that God is not obligated to hear our prayers, so we should understand some thoughts from God's Word on why some prayers remain unanswered.
1. Not God’s will
We must always seek God’s will. It’s all about Him and the advancement of His kingdom not you.
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Mathew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
2. Wrong Motives and Ungodly Prayers.
James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.
Pro 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.
3. Unconfessed Sin
Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Living a continuous life of sin.
Proverbs 28:9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
John 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
Pro 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
1Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
5. Closing your ears to the needy
Proverbs 21:13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
6. You are not having fellowship with the Lord
Your prayer life is non-existent and you never spend time in His Word.
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
James 1:6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
8. God didn’t answer so you can grow in humility.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
9. God didn’t answer because of your pride.
Pro 29:23 One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
10. Hypocritical prayer for attention
Mat 6:5-6 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
11. Giving up
Just when you give up that is when God answers. You must persevere.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Gal 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
12. Lack of faith
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
13. You won’t forgive others
Mar 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
14. God is making you rely and trust in Him more.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
15. Our awesome Lord is in control and God has something better for you.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
16. You didn’t ask.
James 4:2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
17. Treating your spouse badly
1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
18. Not yet: We must wait for God’s timing
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
Ecc 3:1-11 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Ecc 3:4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
The God-Given Task 9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Continue in your pursuit of God, by trusting the Lord completely, and patiently. Knowing the Lord through His Word and the aid of the Holy Spirit will equip you to pray more effectively
Have you thought about doing something special for this overlooked day in the church calendar? Ascension Day is Thursday, May 21st this year. You probably haven’t because it’s not a popular holiday, but it was a remarkable memorable moment for the disciples as they watched Jesus ascend into Heaven. Can you imagine what that was like? There is much for us to learn about this event so here are some simple ways to observe this day and learn more about our Saviour and His return!
This list is intended to be simple and helpful if you want to join us in celebrating Ascension Day this year. No pressure, don’t stress; just six quick ideas.
1. A dinnertime idea: Historically, Ascension Day has been a feast day in the church. Consider making something special for dinner to surprise your family. Or create an easy pavlova, meringues, or another cloud-like dessert to celebrate the Ascension—and how Jesus will return. Here are a few verses to read as a family so everyone can participate in learning more:
Mark 16:19, Where is Jesus? Who is He near and why is that important to us?
Hebrews 7:25, What does this tell us Jesus is doing now in Heaven?
John 14:1-3, What else is Jesus doing? Talk about what kind of places and rooms these might be.
2. A bedtime idea: For bedtime conversation ask your kids to imagine what it must have been like to watch Jesus rise off the ground, into the air and then disappear in a cloud? Read Acts 1: 6-9 together to hear what actually happened.
3. An outside idea: If it’s not raining go outside, throw a quilt or blanket on the ground, everyone lay on their backs to look up at the sky and clouds together. Read Acts 1:11 then together imagine Jesus returning on one of the fluffiest clouds you can see. I bet some kids will try to see Him!
4. An inside idea: Or if the weather doesn’t permit, read the same verse and then have your kids, even teens, draw and colour pictures of what they imagine they will see when Jesus returns on the clouds! Hang all the drawings, for visual reminders in the days to come that He promised to return and one day He will!
5. A teens idea: With older kids try to discuss how our lives should be different because Jesus was here with us. Ask them what they imagine it was like for the disciples after the resurrection. Did they live as if Jesus had never come? What evidence should be obvious to us and others that He once lived among us and is forever present with us? He promised His presence, “Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Mt 28:20). Jesus is closer to us every moment of every day than any other human can ever be!
6. A family idea: Buy some helium balloons for the special day. Enjoy their happy presence all day. Then in the late afternoon or early evening before the sun sets, take the balloons outside, read the story of Jesus’ ascension in Acts 1:6-11, write a note or message to Jesus on your balloon and then together release them. Watch them disappear into the sky and imagine His disciples watching Jesus ascend to Heaven.
I hope these suggestions are inspiring and that you’ll want to try one with your family. Ascension Day is worth marking in our lives in a celebratory way!
We’d love to hear any stories and see photos of how you celebrated with your family – Use #Lagoonside if you do post on social media!
Fire Doesn’t Go ...
Dr. Adrian Rogers would tell a story that beautifully illustrates the scriptural truth that Christians will not see the judgement of the Great White Throne, though they will meet Him at the Bema.
It concerns a party of cow-hands searching for strays on the American prairies in the early nineteenth century.
They were caught suddenly in a raging prairie fire that can spread as fast as a horse can gallop, depending on the conditions. An old hand took charge and set fire to a patch of prairie downwind ahead of them, and when the ground had cooled sufficiently they walked the horses on to the burnt ground. The other hands were slow to appreciate what he had done, and while they trusted his hard earned wisdom and experience and followed his instructions, they were perplexed and asked what was the good of it. He made the telling observation so relevant to our point, that: “Fire doesn’t go where fire has gone before.”
It is true, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12: 29) but the believer is in the cleft of the rock, hid in Christ, and... Christ took the brunt of God's judgement in our place.
“Fire doesn’t go where fire has gone before.”
As we take heart in this, remember to give God thanks for our amazing salvation in Christ. Should you feel in need of assistance during this time, remember the Elders and church family are here for you. Simply call or message us. (Devotion courtesy of Rob Jenkins).
Wayne Schmidt (Rev.)