For richer or poorer, cast no judgment on others

BLISS-MIKE-NEW-0416By Chaplain Mike Bliss

I’ve at one time or another, had my position as chaplain challenged by professional clergy, and of course the ordained men of God.  It was usually because I didn’t go to a seminary, or attend some brand of church other than the one that was approved by these men.  My credentials seemed to be just a little short of good enough and on occasion I was told, “I don’t think of you as a spiritual leader because you aren’t the senior pastor of a real church.”

Oh, I could argue from my point of view and get about as far as an overfed dachshund whose feet can’t touch the ground, but for the most part I’m happy with teaching many thousands of people up close and personal in a jail cell.  I believe they have the right to hear the good news about the Gospel of Christ Jesus and I recon I’d better do it right. Before I get to the main attraction I want to share a simple thought with you, God is not a respecter of persons. The Bible says in Acts 10: 34, “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” So keep that in mind when you make a choice on what you’re taught and by whom.

Moving on in with that theme is an even more disturbing and very relevant passage that emerges in James 2: 1-13. (I suggest you read it).

This brings me to the book of James chapter 3. It cuts right to the quick and leaves no doubt what Christ Jesus expects and demands from a teacher that shares His word.  What I do understand is that God wants the ones who become teachers to be aware of the seriousness of it.  He specifically said some things that gave me the creeps and had me thinking that I wasn’t quite ready for this.  In James 3 He says that a position of teacher is a spiritual gift and He demands that you do it His way or He’s going to punish you accordingly.  He didn’t say you had to be a master at the English language or a fast-talking con man.  What He clearly says is that it’s not for everyone and anyone who takes advantage of His children, by using His holy word on them to get what they personally want out of them, is in a heap of trouble.

A hungry man is more likely to sit and listen to a thrashing if he knows he’s going to get a meal afterwards.  If he’s fed first he might receive it as a sweet dessert instead of sauerkraut.  In other words, get up and share the Gospel with someone today.  That doesn’t mean you’re going to be a teacher but what it does mean is you need to be sure that your favorite pastor, minister, reverend, father, and all the others in similar positions, know what they’re doing and are doing it right.  Here’s a hint: if you’re not being taught something new after going to the same church for more than a few years it’s probably becoming a social club with a lot of internal entrepreneurs.  Or, if it doesn’t have any kids in it you’re in the wrong place.  Unfortunately, worship can be the red headed stepchild in most churches, which gets three to four Pinocchio’s.  Or, if you notice that the songbook has up to 500 songs in them and you hear the same songs over and over again.

The complete story is in the Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 Richmond News.

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