About Kathleen Petersen

I love digging around for scriptural nuggets of God’s truth with our devotional team and being amazed how many facets of meaning we discover. Thanks for reading!

“What, Me Worry?”

When my brother and I were young teens, we subscribed to MAD magazine for a couple years and, when it arrived, eagerly devoured the whole issue. The image of Alfred E. Neuman appeared on every cover along with his “What, Me Worry” motto. MAD and other forms of comedy have had remarkable power to dispel my anxieties.

Humor was one of the primary methods my brother and I used (successfully or not) to de-escalate my mother’s OCD episodes when she entered verbal worrying exercises on behalf of our entire family. I made an inward determination to avoid that kind of emotional state – staying “cool” like Alfred E. Neuman. My resolve seemed successful because, with each extraordinary adventure I tackled, friends would congratulate me for doing “things they would never attempt”.

As I “matured”, I observed people who were overwhelmed by anxiety, and I often thought to myself…”Thank God I’m not like THAT!” My attitude mirrored this parable:

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” Luke 18:11 NIV

After I began my walk with Christ, the Holy Spirit moved me to take periodic inner peace inventories. I’ve discovered, although my anxiety might not look like THAT, I far too often obsessively review in my mind past life events and mistakes of mine or of others. Most of the time these events and mistakes are irreversible. Those thoughts unquestionably fit into the worry/anxiety category. If I go a step further and assign most of the blame to others, I occasionally find myself drifting into a desire for vengeance. As the Holy Spirit has spoken to me about these attitudes, I’ve been humbled.

I’ve recently recognized an enhanced reluctance to attempt things I imagine will end in failure. That hesitation often reflects anxiety. I may not be able to so easily identify my anxieties as I can those of my neighbor, but when I can, it is an important step in improving my relationships in God’s kingdom.

Here’s a prayer asking the Holy Spirit for a heart search. Notice that the path from the wicked or grievous way doesn’t lead to despair, but back to the Way (of Jesus) everlasting. What encouragement!

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV

Sometime today, use this link to listen to and meditate on Psalm 139:23-24 as you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal and release you from your hidden (or already known) anxieties.

“What, Me Worry?”2023-01-28T09:58:37-07:00

Self Sufficiency & Inadequacy – Recipes for Worry

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25

During my lifetime, I’ve enjoyed an unprecedented abundance of the two necessities Jesus highlights in the above verse. So relating to this passage is somewhat difficult.

Estimates are that 30% to 40% of our nation’s food supply is discarded, accounting for around 22% of solid waste in our landfills. Many of us regularly clean out closets, donating the contents to charitable outlets with 85% of those donations ending up in landfills. How does this happen?

Part of the answer may be that nutrition experts churn out mountains of theories leading to never ending searches for perfect foods. Also, style influencers create desires for a bevy of fresh purchases that promise to win approval from watchful connoisseurs. It’s calculated that each of us encounters thousands of advertisements per day that encourage these inclinations.

Dig deeper into today’s scripture. A careful re-reading reveals Jesus’ words aren’t really aimed at starving people who lack warm clothing in winter. His message is most pertinent for those living a life of material adequacy, even abundance.

As Jesus’ followers, we’re challenged with simplifying what’s essential, keeping in mind that God cares for us. Then we’re set free to concentrate on issues he considers important. How should we view cultural standards of excellence considering the Kingdom of God doesn’t pivot around right eating or meticulous outward appearances?

Do you struggle with food and drink in such a way that making a wrong choice induces distress in you?* Or are you touting your eating habits to the point you irk others with implications that their choices are inferior? Do you fear that hairstyle, clothing, or decoration blunders will isolate you from true acceptance and friendships? Conversely, are you self-absorbed with your sense of cutting edge fashion?

Take a short inventory. Do you find yourself nervous because, in spite of your self-sufficiency, you might lose it to an unanticipated future event like an illness? Conversely, do you experience inadequacy anxiety because keeping up with the latest trends eludes your grasp?

Today, notice the times you’re tempted to ponder something attractive you don’t want or need but promises you an improvement or security. Analyze one or two commercials that seem to guarantee ridiculously more than the advertised product can deliver. Thank the Lord that he’s given you power to resist a temptation that could consume your peace or has the potential to separate you from the conscious presence of God.

*Note: Certainly it is unwise to ignore food sensitivities that cause either discomfort or medical emergencies.

Self Sufficiency & Inadequacy – Recipes for Worry2023-01-22T23:21:32-07:00

Three Possible Goals

At the beginning of a new year, some of us will renew or orchestrate our efforts to achieve desired outcomes for our lives. The next few verses reveal how we might frame our dreams around the possible.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:4-5 (AMP)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:27 (ESV)

Thinking about the above scriptures, what should we reasonably attempt to control? What must we relinquish to gain the peace we desire?

As I think about what generates anxiety in me, most of the time it’s the small stuff like needing to reorganize the dishwasher after other household members have once again misunderstood how dishwashers function. On the other hand, anxiety generators are just as likely to be stuff I can’t control. For example: “Don’t those politicians in Washington D.C. have a clue they’ll trigger WWIII?” or “This town is full of crazy drivers…someone’s going to get killed!”

The more I focus on correcting the shortcomings of others, the more anxious I become. Likewise, striving after living a longer life or nourishing expectations that I deserve praise, have the same result. A critical, overly ambitious spirit cannot generate graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, or patience. Only the Holy Spirit can nudge me away from self-centered nitpicking or aspirations, to gentleness of spirit.

As we remain confident that Jesus intends to provide his servants with every resource needed to serve him well in this life and that he will keep his promise to reward us in ways we cannot measure, our security in him is enhanced. Concentrating on the generous character of our Master leaves us free to rejoice in him, even in adverse circumstances.

So resist overestimating the adverse impact of mistakes (yours or of others) or setting your sights on unattainable or selfish ambitions. Simple reminders from the above scriptures can take the edge off looming anxiety. Embrace what you can control:

Rejoice in the Lord always.

Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.

He cares for you!

Write these three reminders on separate cards or sticky notes and place them in locations you frequent during the day. Then tell others about how the Lord has made himself known in unexpected ways.

Three Possible Goals2023-01-14T23:02:52-07:00

Going the “Salty” Distance

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
Matthew 5:13 NIV

As I meditated on this metaphor about salt losing flavor, that Jesus used in his Sermon on the Mount, I became curious – doesn’t salt last forever? Yes, it’s possible, but I discovered (Googled it) that salt exposed to certain conditions or containing additives loses flavor.

A discussion of this passage usually centers around the many uses for salt, but Jesus was warning about salt becoming worthless. So concentrating on the idea of salt becoming worthless should help better understand how dedicated disciples are the salt of the earth. The two contexts where Jesus used this metaphor are Matthew 5:11-13 and Luke 14:25-35.
In Matthew 5, Jesus precedes his statement about salt by emphasizing wholehearted devotion to him will bring heavenly blessing, even when persecution, insults, and false statements are aimed at us because of that loyalty.
In Luke 14, Jesus gives a sermon, again emphasizing that following him, requires the highest level of loyalty. In this sermon, Jesus highlights that counting the cost of following him is key to maintaining that loyalty and finishing well. He illustrates that idea with two stories. The first story is about a builder who would be unable to complete construction and risk the ridicule of others if he failed to calculate costs in advance. The second is about a king who risks forfeiture of his kingdom if he fails to intelligently plan for an upcoming battle. After telling those stories, Jesus concluded with this warning:

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:33-35 NIV

It seems clear that understanding and calculating the cost of following Jesus is the vital component to continued dedication to him in the face of all the hard circumstances that will inevitably arise as we follow him all the way through our earthly lives. Here’s a scene from John 6:66-68 which illustrates the commitment Peter had already developed as a result of counting the cost:

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Did this confession mean Peter never needed a boost to retain his steadfastness? That answer is found near the end of the gospel accounts.

As we seek to build God’s kingdom on earth in our area of influence, the Holy Spirit may show us paths to better building techniques, but our persistent faithfulness to Jesus is the “salt of the earth” cornerstone of all our earthly efforts. As you listen to Find us Faithful by Steve Green, think about Jesus followers like yourselves who have been and continue to be the salt of the earth.

Going the “Salty” Distance2022-11-19T11:56:45-07:00

Totally Awesome!

Today’s full story is found in Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39, and Matthew 8:28-34.

In all three gospels, the encounter I’ll talk about took place after Jesus unsettled his disciples by instantly calming a storm while they crossed the Sea of Galilee.

After that awesome manifestation of Jesus’ power, they disembarked in the Decapolis (Gentile region of the Gerasenes) where they met a demon-possessed man who:

…lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Mark 5:3-5 NIV

A few more details emerge in Luke 8:27-29 NIV:

,,,, For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house…When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man.

Later in the narrative we find this man was possessed by approximately two thousand evil spirits who begged Jesus to cast them into a herd of roughly as many pigs. After Jesus cast them into the pigs, the animals plummeted to their death over a cliff into the sea (Mark 5:13).

To me, Jesus’ instant calming of the storm and instant mastery over more than two thousand demons are “totally awesome” acts – ones only God can accomplish.

Now here are the responses to Jesus’ mastery over demons in Mark 5:14-20 NIV:

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

The focus of this week’s sermon has been encounters with Jesus that lead to next steps. So let’s recap:

First, the swineherds hurried to report their catastrophic loss of livestock to city authorities and other townspeople.
Second, the first responder citizens and authorities became fearful and pleaded with Jesus to leave the area.
Third, the formerly deranged man begged Jesus to whisk him out of town too.

Shockingly, Jesus fulfills only the demand of the townspeople and tells the newly restored man to go back home and tell everyone about his marvelous encounter with Jesus. My inner, amateur counselor ramps up to high alert. This vulnerable man’s hometown is probably very unsafe – the place where his demonic issues started. Please, Jesus…take him with you!

Here’s what happened though:

So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. – Mark 5:20 NIV

Which of these next steps after seeing Jesus’ mastery over demons (and other colossal storms of life) do you normally favor:

Appealing to other humans for their expertise?
Limiting your exposure to unusual aspects of Jesus’ ministry in your life experience?
Fearing what Jesus’ continued intervention might do to your status quo?
Desiring to escape into a safe space with Jesus?
Or, telling the potentially scary people around you about the “totally awesome” things Jesus has done for you – “Celebrating (your) Recovery” as the restored man did?

Meditate on these two amazing stories displaying Jesus’ power. Relate them to a situation you or someone close to you may now be facing and ask him to intervene.

Totally Awesome!2022-11-11T19:46:37-07:00

Party Excuses

Luke 14 is packed with hospitality insights. It’s customary to view hospitality as the responsibility of the one preparing and hosting a celebration. But Jesus’ story in verses 15-24 illustrates an equally meritorious aspect of hospitality:

…one of those at the table with Jesus said to him, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ Luke 14:15-17 NIV

Jesus then related three responses used by the initial invitees:

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ Luke 14:18-20 NIV

Jesus was implying that every rebuff to attend this banquet was inexcusable. First, because both the host and the event described are extraordinary. Second, the reasons the friends of the host gave as excuses, although polite on the surface, range from disingenuous to self-centered.

This parable speaks to “no show” habits that have become increasingly prominent in modern life.

A few years ago, I asked a twenty-something employee of a Christian organization why young people sometimes appear reluctant to commit to community-building events or casually vanish when a commitment seems firm. I suggested my own analysis, “Is it because you have so many attractive options?”. She paused for a moment…. “Yes.”

Has your enthusiasm for live gatherings dimmed, especially from the social chaos stimulated by “pandemic lockdowns”? Is hope for genuine Christian community endangered by the lack of reciprocal hospitality of both the host and guest?

Here’s an expression: “I used to sneak out of my house to go to parties. Now I sneak out of parties to go to my house.” Does this sentiment reflect that attitude of preferring to do my own thing rather than exploring what the Royal Host of the Final Banquet of Luke 14:15 might have in store at one of his preliminary “mini banquets” here and now?

What have some of your favorite excuses been for avoiding gatherings with potential for community kingdom building? Look at the lame excuses above and think about how you might change your attitude toward an enthusiastic friend at a party hosted by our hospitable King.

Party Excuses2022-11-05T10:22:36-06:00

Our First, Ongoing, and Final Enemy

Earlier this week, people engaged in rituals around Halloween, All Saints Day, and Day of the Dead. What are the origins of these observances? Among other things, they are acknowledgements that every human being must face the power of Death and its accompanying decay. Death frightens and fascinates us. Many trivialize, marginalize, dramatize, and glamorize it. But God gives his perspective and victory over Death to those who trust him.

Here’s part of the Biblical account of how humans first tasted Death.

… just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Romans 5:12 NIV

This passage refers to Genesis 3 and Adam’s gargantuan opening act of distrust and disobedience, granting Death and decay their power to ravage all mankind from that time onward. This cataclysm was worse than any natural disaster, but then:

…if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17 NIV

If you’ve experienced the power over sin and Death that Jesus Christ provided through HIS death and resurrection – take a moment to celebrate. We were helpless against Death until he provided his way out of the devastation.

But look at King David’s words in Psalm 44:22 NIV

…for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

We battle death and sin daily. Consider the apostle Paul’s counter perspective to trivializing Death, as he declares the value of Jesus’ resurrection life.

If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” I Corinthians 15:32-33 NIV

Paul emphasizes if we ignore the power of Christ’s resurrection and adopt a cavalier attitude toward sin and Death, godly character will be impacted.

As Paul continues this letter, he builds to this massive crescendo:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:51-57 NIV

Do you love these three words: imperishable, immortal, victorious? They become a part of us as we cling to Jesus. Death and decay brought on by sin are diminished and defanged – Death loses its sting and we have the promise it will be forever banished from God’s kingdom. This is not the case with “the dead” (those who cling to decaying, perishable, worldly systems and false gods).

…and each person [in the group God calls “the dead”] was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:13-15 NIV

Thank God he’s provided our only way to victory over Death in this life and the life to come – the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think about Death’s final destiny – eliminated from the lives of Jesus’ followers forever. Death will no longer bother us as we revel in God’s full and glorious presence.

If Death seems to hold a winning position in an area of your life, meditate on Romans 6. Ask another trusted Saint to pray that you regain God’s perspective and are able to again rest in the power of his resurrection.

Our First, Ongoing, and Final Enemy2022-10-29T10:39:50-06:00

Your Part

Are you feeling at home in the church you’ve chosen or that it is not quite the right fit? Read this:

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. I Corinthians 12:12-26 NIV

If classical pew-sitting and leaving the instant the Sunday sermon ends (or watching sermons on TV or the internet) has become your habit, the above passage confirms you’re intended to serve our Master as he builds his kingdom in an active, sometimes untidy body of Jesus’ followers, rather than in a pristine cloister.

You must start or start again somewhere.

If you’re unsure of your giftings, grab an opening, even if it seems an insignificant opportunity. Try joining a team with a variety of roles where you can move around as your faith journey comes alive.

Perhaps you’ve served in your community of faith for a while now. Are you in a role you’ve outgrown, and does God seem to be calling you to wrestle with a new challenge? Or maybe you need to take more responsibility in an area where you already enjoy benefiting others.

Some of you might already be established in ministry, exercising your gifts in confidence, the Spirit affirming that you are effective and necessary in your service. Encourage others around you as they develop their ministries.

Some of us don’t have the same energy or capacity we once had to fully operate in the gifts that connect us in the body of Christ. Maybe it’s time to major in mentoring or to ask God to open new ways of building God’s kingdom we’ve never considered before.

Most of all, don’t play dead if it seems the cost of being part of a body of believers is too great. Building God’s kingdom has always had a cost. Remember Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and the sacrifices of many fellow believers who have paved the way for us now and over the centuries.

Your Part2022-10-22T09:16:48-06:00

Relationship – the Point of Freedom

Our text this week is I Corinthians 8 and 9. In those chapters Paul dodges through some complex thoughts about what our freedom in Christ should look like in the community of faith he calls us to experience. To pull Paul’s thoughts together, let’s go back to Genesis and capture the simplicity God had in mind from the beginning:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 3:15-17

Can you imagine the freedom God provided? He issued just one, and only one, very observable command. Once the first couple crossed that boundary – boundaries, and the penalties that accompanied them proliferated like aphids in the summer.

Disobeying the one command resulted in a profoundly inescapable impact – severing their intimate relationship with God. That severance likewise interrupted and negatively affected relationships among human beings from that time onward. We see and experience the wreckage every day.

In I Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul reflects on the complexity of moving away from a world gnarled in broken relationships to a community of faith that is searching for ways to love one another. In his letter to the Romans, Paul returns to the simplicity of Jesus’ answer to those questions
(from Matthew 22:36-37, Mark 12:28-30, Luke 10:25-27, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Leviticus 19:18 ) when Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest in the Law:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 NIV

Turning to Jesus and acknowledging that his death, burial and resurrection was for us, restores our relationship with God and infuses us with power to mend and prevent broken human relationships, especially within the community of faith.

Take a minute to refocus on this ‘main thing’ in your walk with Christ. Ask him to remind you that you have the freedom and power of his Holy Spirit when faced with temptations to harm your neighbor in an attempt to exercise and protect your own interests. Choose this “freedom”.

Relationship – the Point of Freedom2022-10-15T11:52:10-06:00

Settle Matters Quickly

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. Matthew 5:23-26 ESV

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 ESV

America’s Founding Fathers established a government system of laws patterned after ancient Rome and Greece. As you become acquainted with the multitude of federal, state, county and municipal laws, codes and regulations that have proliferated since then, it will boggle your mind. The other aspect of these laws, codes and regulations is, as administrations change, more changes in law occur. Yikes!

This expansion is so out of hand that in 2011, Harvard University professor Harvey Silverglate wrote a book entitled “Three Felonies a Day”. Silverglate’s book hasn’t had the impact he hoped. Organizations or individuals are devising more laws and bringing more criminal lawsuits than ever to settle trivial issues or simply punish someone they don’t like.

As you read the above words of Jesus and Paul, this trend is nothing new.

Have you been tempted to settle a relatively trivial matter with another follower of Jesus by calling your lawyer and dragging the matter into the public square? The above passages urge us to settle those issues quickly and keep them “in the family”.

There are gnarly, deeply serious issues that require the benefit of secular court proceedings so they may not inflict immense damage to the reputation of Christ’s body – but those issues tend to be rare. Jesus and Paul are not talking about murder and criminal sexual misconduct.

There are various reasons for the Church to have elders in any local body. If you have a dispute you can’t work out with your fellow believer, take it to those elders. Settle it before things escalate (to a World War Something status).

Don’t wait and let your problem with your brother develop into a Hatfield–McCoy situation.

There is every indication that consistent failure to settle family disputes results in what today is termed a dysfunctional family. Failure to address issues quickly also results in corrupt practices.

Read the above passages again. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. If the Spirit reminds you of a problem you have been ignoring that you have with another Christian, ask for guidance in moving toward a settlement without a lawsuit. If you know of an unresolved situation between two other Christians that’s getting ugly, prompt them to bring it before an elder in your church (you may be that elder) – or a wise Christian if the two aren’t attending the same church.

Settle Matters Quickly2022-10-08T17:49:56-06:00
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