bubblydani asked: Unka! I learn lots from you every day, and I hope you can help with my dilemma. In my philosophy class this semester, we studied ‘Morality and Religion’. We tackled questions like “What is a moral reason to obey God?” since it is through grace, not our works, that we are saved. The question wasn’t answered. My faith waned, and after that, I began being indulgent, and I noticed that everything has started to go bad. I want to return to God, but it’s very difficult. Please help.
Unka Glen answered: Well, if I was in this class, and I was asked about why we do the moral thing, (that is, the right thing), even though we don’t have to, given that we’re saved by grace; and if I had a sense of how this question would cause pain and confusion in amazing people like you in this class, I think I might say the following with a special bit of emphasis:
“Because of THANKFULNESS bitches! I’m OUT!” [Then I would pretend to drop a microphone from shoulder height as I walked out of the class as one person started slowly clapping, and then another started clapping, and another, until they were all cheering in a mighty roar, while I said a quick prayer of silent confession for saying a naughty word, because Unka Glen likes ta keep it kosher, yo.]
But that’s just me.
We do the right thing, beloved, because Christ was punished and humiliated, and then killed for our sins, and we are thankful that He did that, so it makes us not want to do more of that. Right?
I might have also pointed out that this thankfulness motivates us to open our hearts to love God in a deeper way, and when you love someone, you want them to be happy, and you do what it takes to make that happen.
I might also point out that sin isn’t just stuff that feels good, that we know to be vaguely naughty, that we now feel guilty over. Sin is the thing that’s been fu… messing everything up (see what I did there?). Sin is the curse. Sin is the rock tied to your leg while you’re trying to tread water in your life.
If you have a way of being forgiven of that sin, AND you’re able to find a new life that not only feels good, but is good for you AND gives you the power to overcome that sin… then why in the heck would we want to go on sinning?
I may have also pointed out that this exact question is covered in an entire chapter of the Bible (Romans 6).
But the truth is, the thing you think of as sin (normal sexual desires, normal anger-related emotions, etc.) are just the trigger for the real sin: the guilt games. You see, the devil doesn’t care if you look at porn or experiment with drugs, or whatever, you already know those things to be wrong, and they really aren’t that pleasurable anyway (that’s why people try to do so much of both, to try and get enough pleasure out of them).
No, the enemy wants to use your guilt over making those mistakes to make you feel like you can’t go to God, by making you feel tired, and unworthy, and ugly. Wallowing in guilt IS the sin, the thing that’s weighing you down, the thing that’s choking the life out of your relationship with God.
Forget philosophy, morality, and for sure stop letting the enemy talk to you about your sins, and start over with thankfulness.
rainofthelovinggod asked: Uncle, I’m feeling so stupid right now; only a few weeks ago I reconciled with God, and now I’m all the way back to square one. Is it even normal for a man to go up and down the spiritual roller coaster so dramatically? I mean one-day-on-fire-the-other-in-sin kind? There’s grace from God, but the way I’m living it feels like I’m going to spend it out soon. [edited for length]
Unka Glen answered: Bless your heart, here’s the good news: everything about this is wrong. In every way. Totally. Even though many of us often feel this way, you’ll be pleased to know, it’s all dead wrong. So let’s take this one part at a time…
1) You do not reconcile yourself to God, Jesus does the reconciliation for you, and you accept it (2 Cor. 5:18-19). Once you accept it, you will sin again (as you are not a perfect being), and that new sin you commit, after you’ve been reconciled to the Father, you should know, has already been paid for.
Thankfulness is the correct response to that realization, guilt is not.
2) Your relationship with God is not on a “roller coaster”, your perception of yourself is. Don’t climb up on any pedestals, and you won’t fall off any. God is the solid rock your house is built on. He doesn’t change, so His attitude towards you doesn’t change (Hebrews 13:8), especially since He is already aware of all sins you will commit.
3) You aren’t “on fire” one day, and “in sin” the next, you are living a life that has sin in it right now. We all are. Because, again, none of us is perfect. When people say they’re “on fire”, they usually mean something emotional, or that they deleted all their porn, and they’ve been reading their Bible for the past three days.
All of that is not fiery passion, it’s just a way of trying to deal with the emotional guilt rollercoaster that God has no part in. Here’s a better way: confess, accept forgiveness, ask God to take away the guilt, and in its place ask that He grant you both wisdom and strength to make changes slowly but surely.
4) There are no “yeah but”s in grace. “Yeah, but I sin a lot”, “yeah but I keep doing the same sin”, “yeah but I asked forgiveness, and then did it again anyway”, yeah but nothing.
Grace is grace, and it’s time we all learned to live with it. Romans 5:20 says ”where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” That verse directly says that grace doesn’t decrease when we sin, it INCREASES.
God doesn’t forgive “if”, He forgives period.
His heart doesn’t change, and you are going to sin in the future, so we’re going to have to learn to fit all that into our heads, rather than invent an anti-Biblical theology where God only forgives IF we behave well enough, and if we stay “on fire”, and if we don’t look at porn, and if we act Christian, because otherwise God will say, “Wait, I thought you were on fire, and that you were never going to sin again, but here I am shocked to see that you have, so ya know what, I change my mind!”
Our relationship with God doesn’t depend on us acting right, it depends on the blood of Christ… I’ll bet that once you embrace that, it’ll really inspire you to act right.
colourscolour asked: I think the greatest challenge in being a leader is being insecure in one’s position. I feel so insecure as a leader, and it is causing quite a stir in my ministry. I don’t think anyone is aware of it, but I’m constantly disgusted with my thoughts and manipulation techniques. It is really a challenge to create disciples for Christ because we are so often tempted to create fans for ourselves.
Unka Glen answered: Let me give you one word to that will turn this all around: freedom. The Bible says that “where the Spirit of The Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17). Jesus said we are to “proclaim freedom to those in captivity” (Luke 4:18).
Paul even said “it’s for freedom that you’ve been set free.” As if we apparently wouldn’t realize that the point of being set free is to stay free, and “not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
If you preach freedom, you will raise up powerful disciples for Christ, fueled by love and thankfulness. And you won’t end up with shallow “fans”.
Jesus set us free from the cost of our sins. He suffered, He paid the price, and that work is complete (1 John 2:2). We accept total forgiveness, total grace, and full adoption into God’s family (John 14:2). Of course we still sin, but we’re being transformed by this intimacy with God, day by day.
And this transformation sets us free from the power of sin as well. As strong as any temptation may be, there is always something stronger at work within us, empowering us to resist. Romans 6:14 says “sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace”.
Indeed, we are free, at long last, from sin being the center of our lives, and the center of our relationship with God.
As you read all that, you’ll note that everything I’ve said is undeniably Biblical, and yet this message of freedom isn’t really central to most sermons I hear.
After all, if you give people freedom, what that might lead to? You can’t just have people being all happy and content while they still have work to do on their lifestyle! We have to preach something to keep them in line. After all, I’m using fear, shame, and guilt to keep myself in line, so these unruly people I’m leading probably need a double-dose!
But in Christ, we are set free from fear, shame, and guilt. These are the tools of the enemy that should never be in the hands of those who would minister to us.
Using fear, or shame, or guilt to manipulate does one thing even worse, it places the manipulator in that most sacred space in between the believer and their God. Manipulation is about giving people hoops to jump through before they’re allowed to feel like they’re on good terms with God. It sets the manipulator up as high priest.
And sin becomes the main focus.
In the end, it comes down to this: Jesus said that if we love Him, we will end up obeying Him, so all these commandments and teachings all boil down to love. You either believe that, and preach that, or you need to let someone else on the mic.
I know you do believe it, and that you believe in your people, so trust that the seed you plant in them will do the work, and trust that God will handle the rest. Always lead them back to the cross, and lead them to a greater thankfulness for His grace.
Those who are forgiven much, love much.
hedied4me-ilive4him asked: Hey Unkle. This question has been bothering me ever since I got saved. How can I live out my faith? I don’t want to be just a Sunday Christian. I want to go out there and spread Gods love. I just don’t know how. There’s no one in my life that I could imitate.
Unka Glen answered: In Luke Chapter 4, Jesus goes to his home town, He opens the scroll and reads a passage from Isaiah. He chooses this passage to announce that He is the Messiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor”.
That’s remarkable. Of all the people that Jesus might have been meant to preach to, people of power, and influence, and wealth, He was meant all along to preach to the poor. In Matthew 11, when John the Baptist sends his people to ask Jesus if He really is the Messiah, Jesus says, “the good news is preached to those who are poor.”
If you don’t know where to start, always start with the poor.
Maybe the Lord will eventually direct you to work with people who are well off (this is not something to hope for, by the way), however, rest assured, there will come a day when the Lord will direct you to lead those well off people into doing something serious for the poor.
Perhaps you’ll begin working with those who are physically poor, and the Lord will later call you to work with those who are emotionally poor in some way, perhaps drug addicts, or the suicidal.
The original Greek word we translate as “poor” in both of these passages is “ptóchos”. The word literally refers to the people all the way at the bottom of life.
In Matthew 25 Jesus said that when we feed the hungry, or help the sick, or visit those in prison, it is as if we are doing it directly to Him. He said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Start at the bottom. Imitate Jesus, and help those He calls “these brothers and sisters of mine”. Help physically if you know nothing about ministry. Give the simple Good News to the poor, if you know it.
Find a mentor who can show you how to help people get free of the sin that entangles them, then do so with “great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2), also with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
inwhichshetries asked: Hi Unka Glen. There are days when I am content with where I am, trusting in the truth that God knows what I need & will provide. Then there are other days when I see how much he has blessed others, and wonder why he has not blessed me the same, when I feel as though I am working just as hard. How do I address these and be able to live both with contentment, as well as trust that God wants to and WILL provide for me—and not feel so bad when I see others being blessed?
Unka Glen answered: Oh, I can’t talk you out of feeling this way. I feel the same way too. Do you have any idea how bad the church is at supporting the work of inner-city missions? Can you imagine how it feels, watching others being rewarded for ministering to the rich, while people like me are punished (financially speaking) for ministering to the poor?
Oh, there’s precious little justice in this world. Sure, I know that all of us will have to stand before the judgment throne of God and explain what we did with what we’ve been given. But meanwhile, in this world, missionaries and people who minister to the poor are suffering.
We tend to think of the world as a basically just and fair place, and that sooner or later those who do good will be rewarded, and those who do evil will get what’s coming to them. But all too often that doesn’t get settled until we get to the next world. In this world, we face injustice every day.
So what are we to do? Just paint on a smiley face and pretend to be happy? By no means! That’s the worst thing we can do. God intends that we fight against injustice, not resign ourselves to it. But in the mean time, we will need to learn to live with it.
In the end, God does say that we’ll face troubles of all kinds in this world, fair or not (after all the sinning I’ve done, I’m not sure I want to introduce the word “fair” into a situation where I’ve received this much grace). But God does promise that we will have what we need, when we need it.
Having been quite poor for most of my career, I’m in a unique position to bear witness to many a financial miracle that came along at just the right time to keep things going (even if it was at the very last minute). Some of you reading this right now have been part of that miracle.
I think the lesson is supposed to be, that it doesn’t matter how much money anyone else has, it matters whether they have divine protection from God Himself. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have all the opportunities or resources, or whatever. We will have what we need, when we need it, if we follow Him.
That much I know.
In Isaiah 55, God says: ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.’ So why is it that so many of our struggles are based on assuming that God sees us in the same small negative way we see ourselves?
Time and again we assign Him an attitude that could only come from someone who is petty, misunderstanding, easily angered and narrow minded. Someone worse and smaller than us.
But ‘God declares: as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways’.
He is more forgiving and understanding than you are. He is more gentle and tender with His affections than you are. He is more patient with you than you are with yourself. He loves you in ways you can’t possibly wrap your small human brain around. His ways are higher.
Anonymous asked: So I really want to be going after Jesus for fulfillment and satisfaction and real joy, but I find it so easy to be distracted by other things, like material things, relationships or achievements, and chase after them, even though I know they don’t provide any real fulfillment. [edited for length]
Unka Glen answered: Okay, let me give you a big picture way of thinking about all this stuff. We can reduce almost everything in our spiritual lives down to vices and virtues.
The vices are pretty clear-cut: lust, shame, greed, cowardice, guilt, and so on.
The virtues are obvious as well: love, joy, peace, faith, wisdom, conviction, hope, and so on.
Now, if I have an abundance of a vice, like cowardice for example, I can pray for any of these virtues I might need to deal with that. So I may pray for a sense of peace to halt the progress of that fear, then I might pray for courage as I move forward, and then I might pray for wisdom so I know the truth that the fear was distracting me from.
All that is super-simple. And here’s a few more simple things you need to know about virtues:
Now here is where things get messy. You see, we have a tendency to substitute all of these virtues for a worldly equivalent. Instead of receiving peace, we get high. Instead of receiving wisdom, we buy a book and receive only human knowledge instead. We never even ask for joy, really, we ask God for things that we think will give us the human emotion of happiness.
Why would we put so much effort into chasing these weak human substitutes that keep falling short? Why not take the real thing, since it’s free, infinite, and pure? Especially since God is actually happy to give it to us?
Well, who the heck knows, but your ol’ Unka Glen has a theory. I think people don’t like dealing with God directly. I think on one hand they imagine God being worn out by all our requests for forgiveness and help, so He doesn’t care about giving peace and hope to you, because…I dunno, He’s worn out or something. Like maybe He’s lost patience.
And then on the other hand, there is something funny about giving up our independence, and choosing to love a life totally dependent on God. After all, we do let Him down on a regular basis, so how smart could it be to rely on the one you’re wronging so often?
But let’s the Bible have the last word. It says that we should always “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). And Philippians 4:19 says “my God will meet ALL YOUR NEEDS according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”