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Who would you trust with to cut on you with a scalpel? Would you trust me with operating on you? If you did, it would be utter foolishness, since I have had zero medical training, I have never been taught how to yield a scalpel, nor have I ever practice the use of one. Chances are high that if you let me lose on you, you will be severely injured, you will end up scarred, maimed, and handicapped, with a very high probability of you dying.

If something needs to be sewed around the Frei household, it will be Susie doing the sowing. Why? Because she’s acquired sowing skills. Anything I’d sow you would either quietly smile at or outright burst into laughter. On the other hand, when it comes to working on our cars I have more skill and practice than she does. If she started wrenching she might make things worse.

Paul reminded the young preacher Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB). The word “accurately” can also translated correctly or skillfully, as in cutting something straight, building something plumb, plowing in straight lines. The Apostle Paul was keenly aware that mishandling the word of God, the scriptures, the Bible, can greatly injure people or make the truth laughable. He understood the scriptures to be sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), cognizant that, “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV). He wanted Timothy to not forget that the Bible is designed to work deeply within the human heart, mind, and soul and therefore needs to be handle with skill, with care, and with precision, none of which are acquired by just inspiration but by diligence, study, and practice.

Traveling over the three continents the past three weeks I was deeply grieved over how much careless, lazy, manipulative, and crooked preaching and teaching I encountered. I was struck again how little discernment listeners in churches showed; how many mistake charisma, hype, slogans, emotional engagement and personal agreement, with truth, sound teaching and preaching, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. My heart weeps for those who are being used, abused, wounded, misled, and made dependent by careless, deceptive, and unskilled handling of God’s word by those, preachers and teachers, who have been tasked to bless, correct, equip, strengthen, and liberate people with God’s word. And as God would have it I found myself reading the pastoral epistles (1&2 Timothy, Titus) while traveling, being reminded of my own responsibility to accurately, diligently, carefully, skillfully, and faithfully preach and teach the written word of God.

How good are you in discerning good biblical preaching and teaching from lousy, shallow, manipulative, and outright deceptive preaching and teaching? How do you learn to discern the difference? You have to read things for yourself, you need to learn basic principles of solid biblical interpretation (biblical hermeneutics) yourself. I encourage you to be more careful as to whom you give permission to yield the scalpel of the word of God than you are picking the surgeon operating on your body, because the consequences are greater.

To finish this pastor’s note let me tell you about Ray, Hans, and Tom and operating a chainsaw. I loved Ray, but I didn’t come anywhere near him when was operating a chainsaw, he was downright dangerous to himself and anyone around with a chainsaw in his hand. I was aware of the dangers because I have learned to operate a chainsaw correctly, in fact I have gained some decent chainsaw skills. However, my chainsaw skills are nowhere near Tom’s. So, there have been times I called on him to help me because I knew I needed his skills or else endanger myself and others. Right now, you might be a Ray when it comes to accurately handling the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, and you might never become as skilled as Tom, but you can acquire enough skill to be like Hans enabling you to discern dangerous preaching and teaching from trustworthy and outstanding preaching and teaching; what to stay away from and what to embrace; whom to dismiss and whom to trust.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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Want to do something that is really good for you? Practice kindness, “A man (person) who is kind benefits himself but a cruel man hurts himself” Proverbs 11:17 (ESV, parenthesis mine.)

Anything make you grumpy? Susie’s dog continually chewing up irrigation lines instantly wakens my inner grump. Somebody treating me like I don’t have a brain has their finger on my grumpy switch. Whining, constant negativity, laziness, stupidity, action-less complaining creates this fast spinning, downward sucking whirl, at the bottom of which my inner grump dwells. Just thinking about what makes me grumpy makes me grumpy. I wish my list was shorter.

The absence of kindness, grumpiness unchecked and excused, is the dance floor of cruelty. Cruel words, cruel intentions, cruel actions, and cruel laws execute fancy choreography dressed in self-righteous clothes, hollow justifications, damning humor, cutting sarcasm, intellectual hubris, and stubborn ignorance. It is a short and crowded walk from grumpiness to cruelty.

Kindness contains mercy and mercy is never without kindness, they benefit both the giver and the recipient, in other words they are always a win win proposition. On the other hand no one really benefits from grumpiness and cruelty, they always injure everybody. This is why Jesus and the scriptures unequivocally and uncompromisingly tell us, encourage us, and command us to unilaterally practice kindness and mercy (Galatians 5:22; 2 Peter 1:7; Matthew 5:&; 2 Timothy 2:24; Proverbs 3:3, 19:22). We are to practice kindness not merely in response to kindness coming our way, no, we are to be kind and merciful (Ephesians 4:32) and have kindness and mercy mark all of our actions, be our normal response. It is the only way to disarm grumpiness and cruelty whenever and wherever they invite us to dance with them.

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself” Proverbs 11:17 (ESV). I read it this morning, right before I walked outside to feed the dogs, and yep, he did it again, not only did he do a number on the irrigation, he also tore up the obviously inadequate protective fencing I installed just two days ago. My inner GRUMP was awake in a flash. Good thing for Walter, aka “Butt-Head,” “Nerd of the Nation,” that God had me read that particular scripture before opening the front door, otherwise he might have gone to “doggy hell” instead of just the “dog house.” I wish all of my grumpy episodes were this benign, that all of my temptations to be cruel had pinned back ears and a saggy butt with a wagging tail and a pitiful look. But they don’t, and neither do yours. It is when we feel unkind, when we feel justified to be cruel, merciless, and harsh that we need to choose what is best over what seems to feel good at the moment.

Have you had to live with grump, or work next to grump day after day? Man, that’s taxing. There is nothing pleasant about the stench and constant ooze of the puss of unkindness continually threatening to become a full-blown infection. How do we maintain kindness there?

  • By continually reminding ourselves of how beneficial and right kindness is and feels.
  • Seeing the self-inflicted wounds of those who are unkind and cruel, and refusing to wound ourselves.
  • Remembering the principle that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7), kindness grows kindness.
  • Always looking to Jesus and the way he responded to unkindness and cruelty, For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly” 1 Peter 2:21-23 (NLT). Jesus conquered the very power sin and hell with kindness and mercy.

So today, tomorrow, and every day, do something super beneficial for you, be kind! “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation” Proverbs 3:3-4 (NLT).

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our dogs have it made, at the productivity level of around 0%, they still get full benefits, tenure, unlimited time off, plus free food, free rent, free just about everything, all for occasionally looking cute, doing something dogish we can laugh about, going for an occasional walk, and welcoming/harassing the UPS man or whoever happens to drive up. They even get a free burial at the end of their days. I have to hand it to them though, they do know how not to mess up a good thing.

What’s cute and acceptable among dogs does not, and should not translate to people. We are meant to grow up, to contribute, to take on responsibilities, to be productive. Being a baby when you are baby is very cute, but being a baby at 15, 25, 35, 45 is anything but cute. A toddler is supposed to be a toddler and it is okay for them to do toddlerish things and have a productivity level of around 0%, but it is ridiculous for an adult. You expect for kids to do the kind of things where you say, “What in the world were you thinking?” to which they will reply, “I don’t know,” and it will be true because they were absolutely not thinking (and many times you have to keep yourself from busting up laughing). This, however, does not fly for an adult, not thinking is inexcusable, as is being stupid and doing stupid things. For a young teenager to continually test the limits and to come up with half-baked excuses is halfway normal, but if he or she doesn’t grow out of it, it is anything but normal, but growing up is, becoming responsible is. There is a time to be baby, to be a toddler, to be a kid, to be a teenager, but then there is a time to be grown up, to be mature.

I admit, being grown up is not all it is cracked up to be, it entails a whole lot of hard work, it has just about 0% of room to live a dog’s life or any other kind of life. But if you have kids they will appreciate it, so will your coworkers, your bosses, your neighbors, your parents, your friends, and your community.

God’s word, the Bible, never encourages immaturity, irresponsibility, and laziness, no matter how it tries to excuse itself or how cute and funny it tries to present itself. Even to the church, the family of God, which has a responsibility to love and care for the needy, God through the Apostle wrote, “Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat. Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good

2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 (NLT). To the Ephesians church he wrote, God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love Ephesians 4:15-16 (MSG).

Can you be mature, responsible, productive, and be young at heart, not lose your sense of humor, not act old and grumpy, be full of love, and be a source of delight to others? The answer is, absolutely, just imitate God.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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When Fat Is Good

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. Proverbs 10:4-5 (NIV)

There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23 (HCSB)

I went by the field of a slacker and by the vineyard of a man lacking sense.
Thistles had come up everywhere, weeds covered the ground, and the stone wall was ruined. I saw, and took it to heart; I looked, and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit.
Proverbs 24:30-34 (HCSB)

If you want to be lazy the Bible, God’s written word, is not the book for you, neither is following Jesus. You will find neither advocates sloth, laziness, or sluggarddom. If you want to be a bum, a moocher, and are afraid of working hard don’t look to heaven for support. You are more likely to get a kick in the rear from the Almighty than receive the slightest support for laziness.

Laziness is utterly self-centered, it leaves others holding the bag, others doing the hard work, others to take care of your responsibilities. Laziness is full of empty talk, full of wasted potential and opportunity, and full of frustration for those who are stuck with a lazy son, daughter, husband, wife, relative, worker or co-worker, or friend.

Laziness is not void of activity, although it does a lot of sitting around. You can be lazy and spent endless hours on the computer, or playing video games, or watching TV. You can be lazy and wear out your phone (that maybe someone else is paying for) doing the TTT (talking, texting, tweeting). You can be funny as heck, be the life of the party, and smooth as silk and be lazy to the core.

Are the people around you blessed by your work ethic, or do they have reason to complain? Do you love to your best or are you more prone to the minimum required to get others off your back? Are the folks who hired you glad that they did? Can your children use you as an example for working hard? Can your parents be proud of both your attitude regarding work and your work? Can people write you a recommendation without having to lie? If someone looks at your “vineyard,” your home, your apartment, your room, your work space, what do they see? And if God were to look for a hard worker, for any task of his, would he be looking for you?

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat. Proverbs 13:4 (NASB)

Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. Proverbs 13:4 (NLT)

Why are you sitting here staring at this pastor’s note? Get up and do something productive, would you! – please – now! Look at you go.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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