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.
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.
06161995 asked: Is God always proud of us? Even when we sin?
Unka Glen answered: If you give me one word to take to the world, and give them the ACTUAL definition, it’s this word: sin. The Biblical definition of sin is this— anything that’s imperfect. The problem you and I have, is that we don’t see the world that way. We think of some things that we do as “good”, some are “bad”, and others, basically…meaningless.
If you define sin as only being those bad things you occasionally do, then you’re going to be stuck on square one in your walk.
Besides, we should know better. We sometimes do what we think of as a “good deed”, and end up enabling people. We tell ourselves that being nice and avoiding confrontation is Christian, when what we’re really doing is giving in to fear, protecting our own desire to be liked, and allowing evil to continue unchecked. That’s neither Christian, nor good.
Jesus said nobody is good except God alone (Mark 10:8). So let’s look at it another way. There are many good things I could be doing right now, but only one right thing. So being a “basically good” person means nothing. That is to say, if an angel appears to me and tells me to go and witness to my neighbor, and I go to church instead, then going to church (in this specific instance) is a sin, no matter how good it may be to go to church.
I can’t just go to church and excuse myself from doing the right thing, just because I did a good thing. Over and over Jesus said, “follow me”, but we would much prefer to follow our own idea of Jesus in a religious way, rather than actually following, ya know, Jesus.
In Sunday School you probably heard that sin means to “miss the mark”, and that’s actually a solid Biblical definition. We very rarely hit the “bullseye” in our walk, and sin (that is, any degree of imperfection) is the usual state of things.
But when you ask if God is still proud of us when we sin, it sounds like we’re thinking of sin as the really bad stuff we only do on occasion, the stuff that probably shocks and alarms God so much that we move Him to no longer care for us us… Because He never saw this coming… Or something like that…
Sure God isn’t proud of all the things you do, neither are you, but you’re making the classic mistake of thinking that you are the sum total of your actions. You aren’t what you do, you are who loves you.
And God loves you, even in your sin. Start learning to live with that today.
Anonymous asked: Is it true that if you don’t truly believe that something you did was wrong, even if you repent, you’re not really forgiven by God? For example, if I speed and tailgate to intimidate a slow driver, and then I ask God to forgive me for scaring that person, am I truly forgiven, if I believe deep down that they deserved it? That they were just too freakin’ slow and they SHOULD be scared?
Unka Glen answered: What you’re talking about is justice. If someone is on the highway, and they’re not properly monitoring their speed, they’re making life less enjoyable for the rest of us, and they must be taught a lesson, even if you need to put your life, and theirs, at risk to do so. That’s what being a hero is all about. Fixing all the wrongness in the world is dangerous, messy, and often goes unappreciated.
I get that.
In this case, if this is the right and just thing to do, what is there for God to forgive? If however, this is a response that is out of all proportion, and is in fact a product of your own lack of Godly patience, well then, that’s a different deal isn’t it?
There are all kinds of situations where we feel justified in reacting the way we do, and yet our conscience tells us otherwise. In that case, repent, without reservation, or excuse, and know that God will accept it. If you just don’t know if you were wrong, it’s okay to pray something like:
“Please forgive me if I’ve done anything wrong here Lord, I did what I thought best, but my own judgement has led be down the wrong path before. If I did something wrong here, I want to know it, and see it, and repent of it. If this was the best response to a bad situation, then please give me a peace about my choices.”
Either way, this we know for sure: God had a choice to act according to judgement, or according to grace, in dealing with you. He chose grace. And on nearly every page of the New Testament, He makes it clear that He intends for you to choose grace as well.
Consider the parable of the unmerciful servant. A man who owes the King more than he can pay, begs for time to pay it back, the king does more than that and cancels the debt altogether. Then the freed servant sees someone who owes him money, and literally tries to choke it out of him. Then Jesus finishes the story:
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:33-35).
So… yeah. If you missed the point, YOU are the servant with a sin-debt you couldn’t pay, HE is the one handing out justice.
If you’ve received grace, you’re meant to insist on it in all your relationships, and in all your ways of viewing the world. Grace should be the color of your universe. If a genie in a bottle gives you one wish, pick grace. Your favorite song: Amazing Grace. If we made you sum up your whole life and testimony in just one word, it should be: grace.
Anonymous asked: Hi Unka Glen, thanks for helping me see faith in a whole new sense. I have been thinking about God’s forgiveness lately. I know that Jesus has paid for all of our sins and so we are made righteous in God’s eyes. But does that mean God “forgets” our sins? Even we cannot forget some of the bad things we have done, so how does God truly forgive us?
Unka Glen answered: God does indeed forget our sins, or perhaps to put it more accurately, He chooses to no longer remember them. There are numerous Biblical examples of this, but here are two:
Hebrews 8:12 says “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Isaiah 43:25 says “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
We have a clue as to why He chooses not to remember our sins in that Isaiah verse, He does it “for His own sake”. He does it out of love. He does it so we can be with Him. God put His Son on the cross to get sin out of the equation of our relationship.
Of course it should come as no surprise to any of us to discover that God is more forgiving than we are. And it should be no surprise for us to find out that we judge ourselves in harsh ways we would never judge anyone else. After all, it would be evil to judge and condemn someone else, but to do it to yourself is, allegedly, something like self discipline (yeah, right).
But the part that you and I have a hard time dealing with, is the possibility that we make a bigger deal out of sin than God does. Oh sure, there’s somebody somewhere sinning and not being particularly bothered by it… until the Holy Spirit brings conviction that is. But I think most of us swing too far to the opposite extreme, blowing our sins out of all proportion. The truth lies somewhere in between.
So where does that leave us? We know we’re forgiven. We know that we aren’t perfect, and that we still sin and make mistakes. We know that God cares about the things we do wrong, but as for the eternal consequences, it’s all paid for. This realization is what brought Paul to say:
"One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal." (Philippians 3:13b-14a)
But this is where we find ourselves in a moment of hesitation. As long as this is all a game where I decide how desirable I am to God by the amount of sin in my life, then I’m in control. As long as my numerous sins are the most important thing in my world, then I have a free pass for not actually following God.
You have to ask yourself: are your sins at the center of your religion?
Awhile back a guy named Clayton Barbeau came up with the cheeky phrase “shoulding yourself”. He used to it describe a situation I often see in today’s church. Ask yourself, how often do you find yourself thinking about the things you should be doing, and how much of the anxiety in your life is tied to those “should” thoughts?
On and on. We pile these shoulds on ourselves without really examining them, because, after all, these are “positive” things. Exercising, studying, reading the Bible, these are always good, all the time, and I could always be doing more, therefore I SHOULD always be doing more.
But let me share one simple reality with you, beloved: by saying that you “should” do something, you’ve just made yourself less likely to actually do it. When you say, I should do something, your brain takes that something and files it away in a drawer labeled “Stuff I dread because I suck” …and who wants to spend time digging around in that drawer?
If you say you should read more Bible, you’ve just made reading the Bible a chore and an obligation. Reading the Bible because you love it is a long way from reading the Bible because I suck if I don’t. Then all of a sudden, the enemy whispers in your ear, “if you really wanted to read that Bible, you’d already be reading it.”
What’s worse, is that I think some Christians think their whole job is telling people what they should be doing. If you think shoulding all over me is the same as ministering to me, then we need to have a long talk.
So what’s the solution? Let me give you three steps:
1) Humility. You shouldn’t be holier than what you are, let’s be honest, you’re doing good to be as holy as you are right now. I mean, dang, have you met you? You should be humping everything that walks, given that every molecule in your body is screaming out for you to get out there and sex it up. But look at you, you’re keeping yourself basically in check. Are you doing a perfect job of that? Heck no. Is it still worthy of some recognition, considering the effort it takes to hold things back? You bet it is.
2) I can, I will, or I’m working on. Replace the word “should” with any of these three phrases that apply. I should avoid porn, becomes: I can control my lusts, with God’s help. I should read my Bible, becomes: I will be making time to read my Bible, because it’s important to me, and it refreshes me. I should be a better Christian becomes: I’m working on being less prideful and more focused on God. Those shoulds sound kinda whiney in a way, but those “I can and I will” phrases sound bold and strong.
3) Joy barometer. Do you ever notice that when you start shoulding, that joy begins to leave the picture? Your focus shifts off of the face of God Himself, and onto your sins. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” All those shoulds weigh you down with the chains of obligation. But there is a joy in knowing the right path and freely walking in it.
Sure, the enemy is going to tell you that your relationship with God should be less messy, it should be more consistent, that it shouldn’t be hanging by a thread on many a day. But God loves your sloppy, messy, confused little self, right now, as you are. Period. Will you get better? Sure, but you’re perfectly loved and totally forgiven, right now.
So we should feel joy… I mean, we can and we will, live in the joy of this moment. :)
Anonymous asked: I’m currently dating a guy who grew up in the bible belt of Nashville. His parents divorced when he was little, and he now has a mother as well as two gay dads. Because of this, he’s gotten a lot of flack from the Christian church, and is very very against Christianity/religion in general. I myself am pretty strong in my faith, and would love to share this part of me with him. He’s respectful of my faith, but the talks we’ve had about faith become kind of awkward because I don’t want to make him feel pressured or anything. How can I talk to him about this without preaching? I really like him, but I have always envisioned myself in a relationship with someone who shares my faith. Thank you so much!!!
Unka Glen answered: The problem here is, there will always be this question in your boyfriend’s mind: will she stay with me if I reject Christ? The bigger problem is, there is no good answer to that question.
If you say, yes I’ll stay with you no matter what, then you’re showing to him a willingness to put the relationship above your beliefs, which shows a disrespect to your beliefs (and maybe a lack of character). It’s hard for you to convince him to believe in something, if you don’t believe in it enough to fully assert it).
If you say no, I will eventually will leave you if you reject a relationship with Christ, then you put him in a position to either fake it, or get rejected by a Christian for not being Christian enough. Something that’s bound to turn him off of Christianity as well.
Choosing to date a non-believer sets up this no-win scenario every time. I know myself from bitter first-hand experience how heartbreaking this situation can be. Either way, you might as well decide whether you’d leave him or not, and give him a clear challenge.
First, he needs to know exactly how you feel, that it’s important that you end up with someone who shares your faith. Second, you aren’t asking him to believe in organized religion in general, or Christianity in particular, you’re asking him to believe in Jesus. And he should know that the only kind of sinner that Jesus harshly rebuked were the legalistic religious types.
For the record, I agree and sympathize with him about his dads. When I hear so-called Christians choosing homosexuality, of all the sins in the world, as a sin that deserves this kind of all out public attack, I think of friends of mine who are gay. Those Christians, whether they realize it or not, are talking about someone I love. And when that happens, it makes me want to find them in a dark alley, and “lay hands” on them. Chicago style.
But your boyfriend already knows and respects Christians who aren’t jacked up, like you. And he knows that shipwrecking his own spiritual life because someone else doesn’t know how to handle theirs, makes no sense. He’s not choosing to act, he’s choosing to react. You aren’t asking him to believe in the God of organized religion, you’re asking him to believe in the God you know and love. The God he’s already started to know through you.
Anonymous asked: Hey Unka Glen, I’ve having trouble with my relationships with people lately. I get into conflict with them inevitably because of [their] sin. This time it was difficult because it was a situation where I found out about something accidentally, and told the other person upfront what I did not like and why. I’m not so sure if I handled the situation in a godly manner, I was a bit anxious, worried, and frustrated. What should I do?
Unka Glen answered: So what you’re telling me, is that you have problems in your relationships because you go around pointing out people’s sins, and they don’t like that? Hmm. I’d say it’s actually you that needs to repent and turn from your sin (ouch, right?), because this kind of behavior is rude, unbiblical, and lacks the nurturing quality that God calls forth in us. Deep down you already knew this, that’s why you were anxious and worried.
Some Christians have a way of not being able to live with sin, so they hide it, deny it, and act perfect to other people who act perfect back at them. Once an undeniable sin enters the picture, the only thing to do is to shame people into hiding it away like the rest of us. This is not Biblical Christianity. Not by a long shot.
Let’s start with some basic Biblical realities. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin. That means that deep down sinners know they’re sinning. They may not admit it, they may not be able to acknowledge it, they may deny it, but they feel it. Acting on the blind and frankly ridiculous assumption that sinners sin because nobody is telling them it’s a sin, you (bless your heart) come along and put your finger on that raw nerve, and you’re confused as to why that ends poorly.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict everyone of all their sin all the time, or we’d all be overwhelmed. So He convicts us of the sin that is most important for us to get rid of. This means that if you convict someone of a different sin, and thus distract them away, then you’re actually working AGAINST the leading of the Holy Spirit.
So here are a few important questions to ask yourself:
That last one is a critical hurdle for you to get over before speaking up. If I’ve earned your respect as a man of God, if you believe that I love you and have only your best interests at heart, if you believe that I do not judge you but have listened to the Lord regarding this sin… then you’re likely to receive a word from me on this sin.
If you haven’t earned the right to be heard, and you aren’t sure if this is exactly what the Lord wants pointed out, then wait, and keep silent while you do.
Keep silent you say? How can I? Isn’t it our sacred and solemn duty to point out sin!? Nope. It isn’t. You’re meant to preach the Good News, to love, forgive, and have patience in equal measure to that which you’ve received, and to proclaim freedom to those in bondage to sin.
Jesus hung out with drunkards so often He was actually accused of being a drunkard. He was close with prostitutes and tax collectors. But when it came to rebuking sin, Jesus constantly points to the kind of wrong attitude that you (and all too many of the rest of us) are guilty of showing: ”Woe to you, experts in the law, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)
It turns out that weighing people down with the need to stop sinning is not Biblically praiseworthy behavior. When Jesus says “woe to you” it’s time to pull up and quit what you’re doing.
I know you’ve seen plenty of Christians act this way, getting into the public eye and condemning sinners for sinning, and all the other Christians seem to agree with this, but it’s not the path that Christ taught us to walk, and what’s more, it’s not even the path that you want to walk. This isn’t the kind of Christian you want to be, it’s the kind of Christian that other Christians have wrongly suggested that you should be.
The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sins, you’re there to be the other half of the conversation: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Prostitutes, drunkards, tax collectors… they all loved Jesus for the message He preached. If the “sinners” in your life don’t like the message you’re preaching, then I think it’s time to point that finger of conviction back at yourself.