Faith is made of sturdy stuff
It doesn’t bend or break or rust
It dares walk on wind and waves
It shan’t forget to watch His face
Fear is made of evil stuff
It doesn’t love or laugh or trust
Never moving past the grave
Hiding joy beneath the dust
Hope is made of hearty stuff
It doesn’t run or stop or quit
Much too strong to just give up
Keeping flames of faith alit
Hate is made of filthy stuff
It doesn’t heal or help the hurt
Over time it just gets worse
Making pain grow in reverse
Love is made of potent stuff
Ever-changing hardened hearts
It’s tenacious, always tough
Holding on because it must
Lust is made of feeble stuff
Formed in muck of wicked minds
Etched on hands drenched in blood
Heartless, sinful, ugly, gruff
Joy is made of ardent stuff
It changes not with passing whims
Nor falls apart when skies grow dim
Always faithful, full of love
My wife, Taylor, is the most intelligent and intuitive person I’ve ever known. She can read people almost effortlessly without them realizing she’s doing it. Residing deep inside her is a wellspring of observational ability that enables her to know a person’s soul instinctively. More importantly, she fights for good relationships with the tenacity of a soldier. She’s like a relationship ninja. It’s pretty cool. I honestly envy those qualities. And while I do most of the talking in public formats, she is the better communicator in our relationship. We learn from each other, but I think I have more to learn than her. I’ve certainly gleaned new insights talking through this series with her for the last several weeks. And I’m incredibly grateful we’re on life’s journey together.
Get Caught Up
If you’re just now joining the conversation, you can listen to Part 1 of our Relationslips podcast here. If you scroll down, you’ll see a link you can’t miss for Part 2 of this series. Also, here’s a link to the first blog entry in this series. It’s worth looking at that article and reviewing the list of book recommendations. We’ve enjoyed responding to your questions and comments. Feel free to send more our way, and we will respond sometime soon.
Passive Aggressors & Energetic Attackers
One common source of relationship friction that causes “slips” is the ongoing war between passive aggressors and energetic attackers. And, of course, Taylor and I are opposites in this area. My natural, carnal, fallen, faulty response to frustrations, anger, feelings of offense, and disappointment is passive aggression. Allow me to define passive-aggressive behavior for those who might be uncertain. Indirect expressions of hostility, including negative attitudes, characterize it. Here are some specific passive-aggressive behaviors I’ve unfortunately struggled to overcome: 1) Resentment and unspoken opposition to demands from others. 2) Procrastination and intentional mistakes in response to others’ requests. 3) Cynical, sullen, or quiet hostility to others near me. 4) Masking my frustrations in complaints, sarcasm, humor, or hints and doing just about anything to avoid confrontation, argument, or outright hostility.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are people I’ve dubbed energetic attackers. Taylor falls into this category. So rather than running away from confrontation, she runs towards it. Sometimes she enjoys confrontation (although not always), but regardless, she isn’t afraid of it. She approaches relationship problems aggressively. She likes all the feelings out in the open. She likes to have all the cards on the table and all the soldiers on the battlefield. And although she never intends to attack people, she wants to attack the problem, which does cause some personalities to feel attacked at that moment. While passive-aggressive personalities can arguably be too patient, energetic attackers have little patience. They’re quick to speak their mind and openly push back when frustrated.
It’s easy to see how these drastically different personalities can “trip” each other up. But, as unlikely as it seems, passive aggressors and energetic attackers have traits that can bring balance. For example, Taylor has helped me recognize the value of confronting things in a timely fashion, and I’ve helped her learn the importance of finding the right time for confrontation. Timing is everything when it comes to healthy confrontations in all of our relationships. I naturally lean too passive, and she leans too aggressive. This personality dynamic creates tension in countless families, workplaces, churches, friendships, schools, and leadership teams.
Timing is everything when it comes to healthy confrontations in all of our relationships.Tweet
Finding Balance & Seeking Reconciliation (Relationslip Tip #4)
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there, remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:21-24, NIV).
The Bible isn’t silent on this issue. Jesus speaks directly to it during the famed sermon on the mount. He began by mentioning an injustice everyone can agree is terribly wrong, murder. Then He swiveled to the topic of anger without even saying whether or not it was justified. Ultimately, Jesus adroitly led the audience to consider how offenses destroy relationships.
Interestingly, when Jesus gave the protocol for dealing with anger, bitterness, insults, and general relational frustrations, He purposefully left a detail out that most of us would want to know. He never mentioned whether He was talking to the offended or the offender. Look at Matthew 5:23 again, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there, remember that your brother has something against you.” If I had been in the crowd, my hand would have shot up so I could ask Jesus, “Wait, does this apply if they have something against me because I did something wrong or because they did something wrong to me?” But Jesus didn’t bother to clarify because it didn’t matter. His instructions in the next verse apply regardless of whether I did wrong, they did wrong, or we both did wrong. Any way you slice it, what Jesus said next applies.
I’m taking a tiny bit of liberty with the text and putting it in today’s context. So, you’re at the altar in church when you remember that (for whatever reason) there’s some bad blood between you and so and so. Instead of pretending everything’s fine, or putting it off another second, find that person while your mind is focused on the Lord and make things right as best you can. You might think, but I’m doing something spiritual right now. I can deal with that later. Not so. Jesus told us that our highest priority should be seeking reconciliation if an offense is “slipping” up a relationship. When we go to that person, our main goal is to mend “whatever” it is that caused the rift.
Jesus told us that our highest priority should be seeking reconciliation if an offense is “slipping” up a relationship. When we go to that person, our main goal is to mend “whatever” it is that caused the rift.Tweet
Practical Advice Regarding Reconciliation
You might be a passive aggressor, an energetic attacker, or anything in between. Regardless, seeking reconciliation prioritizes people above being right, winning, getting everything you want, or having the final say. A reconciliatory attitude is stripped of pride, arrogance, and selfishness. If peace is possible, reconciliation achieves it. I’ve found that most people welcome reconciliation once they realize how much I value my relationship with them.
Seeking reconciliation prioritizes people above being right, winning, getting everything you want, or having the final say. A reconciliatory attitude is stripped of pride, arrogance, and selfishness.Tweet
With that said, here’s some practical advice for leaving your gift on the altar and having the hard reconciliation talk: 1) Calm down before going to that person. This can be especially hard for energetic attackers, but waiting until your emotions are under control is essential. 2) Think the problem through from your side and try your best to see their point of view too. You don’t have to agree with their views, but just putting yourself in their shoes for a little bit can change your perspective. 3) Pray about the situation. Pray for that person, and specifically ask God to help restore that relationship. Seek the Lord for wisdom, self-control, and guidance. 4) Plan a conversation that will bring about peace. A soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), so prepare your mind to speak with a tone that promotes healing, not anger.
Literalators & Exaggerators
I’m a big-picture guy. Taylor is a detail detective. I’ve learned that when Taylor asks about my day, she doesn’t want an overview; she wants every microscopic detail. I like to ballpark times and numbers. Taylor wants to know the exact milliseconds, pennies, and nanograms. Because I’m a big-picture, ballpark guy, I also tend to exaggerate. Typically, because I genuinely don’t remember the specifics. This can be problematic because if she’s taking everything literally and I’m ballparking, it creates disillusionment and miscommunications.
My father is also an exaggerator, and my mother is a literalator. Dad might say something happened recently that happened a decade ago. He isn’t trying to be dishonest or misleading. He just isn’t super focused on the time aspect of the story. It seems irrelevant to him. My mother can turn a three-minute story into a three-hour treatise on her trip to the grocery store because she feels the need to share every detail, precisely how it happened in real-time. So, you can imagine how literalators and exaggerators might have to work through communication issues and learn to meet in the middle.
Instructing Your Mouth (Relationslip Tip #5)
The heart of the wise instructeth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips (Proverbs 16:23, ASV).
People with wisdom in their hearts teach their mouths what to say, when, and to whom. I don’t enjoy giving specifics, and I wouldn’t say I like being given too many details. But I love my wife; she likes particulars, so I let wisdom instruct my mouth. She knows I don’t always want to hear the extended version of a story, so she allows wisdom to instruct her mouth. This is called relationship maturity. It’s learning how to communicate with others in a way that is meaningful to them. So, when literalators and exaggerators are together, they have to make concessions for each other in their communications.
Learn how to communicate with others in a way that is meaningful to them.Tweet
The Constant Thread
A constant thread of truth runs through these relationslip tips: Intentionality. Good relationships take time, energy, effort, care, selflessness, and intentionality. Great marriages don’t happen by accident. Lifetimes of friendship don’t just happen. Tremendous parents don’t just stumble on it. Happy workplaces don’t magically appear from nothing. Church unity doesn’t fall from Heaven on a few super-blessed congregations. No. Every meaningful relationship is fraught with protentional slipping hazards that must be carefully navigated. It can be exhausting; sometimes, we feel like giving up on certain people. But the benefits far outweigh the burdens.
Good relationships take time, energy, effort, care, selflessness, and intentionality.Tweet
I’ve had to learn, Not every love comes with an expiration date, Not every heart comes filled with unrecognized rage, Not every kind word hides secrets full of hate, And fate does not control what God creates. If He is love then love is good regardless of the pain. Perhaps the good is better once the hurt has filled our veins. Maybe love is worth more than we can explain. God gave us hearts that break. And grace to put them back together again. I’m relearning love, and it’s better than it was Because love is more than fairy tales and pretty songs, beating hearts simple thoughts. It’s bigger than castles and kingdoms demons and dreamers roses and poems and old dusty speeches. It’s stronger than iron colder than frozen glass and burns like the summer sun. It’s laughter and tears, turmoil and fear. It’s incredibly happy and unbelievably sad. It’s anger and madness. It’s faithful and kind when things are bad. It’s tough in the struggle, a light in the dark. A whisper in the wind, a hand holding tight when the worst possible news steals your breath and holds it like a vice. Love forgets to remember and remembers to forgive when it does. That’s the paradox of love. It confronts and contends without controlling or pretending. It speaks up but never down. But most of all, it casts out fear. It just throws it out. It wrestles and fights and grabs it tight sometimes from morning to night until finally, perfect light. Suddenly, with flashes of godly light love shines so bright all traces of darkness vanish beneath its might. Finally, fear is forced back to Hell from whence it came.
God knew that Adam couldn’t do it alone
So He created woman, bone of his bone
Once depleted, man now completed by Eve
Complementing, persuasive, persistent is she
Her powers unique, and different than his
In man’s weakness, she enhances his strengths
Disparate, distinct in every way, yet linked
Independent, yet dependent, fulfilling needs
Joined as one flesh, the two becoming as one
Now they are joined, under God’s holy Son
This poem was written for my lovely wife, Taylor, whom I affectionately call JJ.
Ep. 52 | Unusual Thanks, Completed (New Poem) & Gross-Good-Great (Special Thanksgiving Family Edition) – Apostolic Voice with Ryan French
Satan’s Hellish Scheme
If I were Satan and wanted to influence people to be less concerned about their eternal soul, I would stir up lots of confusion about Hell. And, that is what he’s done. Hell was a relatively non-controversial doctrine for centuries. It’s one of only a handful of universally agreed-upon doctrines in history. But, of course, post-modernism is defined by disagreement and predisposed to disregard Truth. So, it shouldn’t surprise us that Hell became a hotly contested, controversial theology. However, Satan’s misinformation campaign is silently creeping its way into apostolic thinking like a spider stalking prey. This confusion about Hell is deeply concerning, and it’s time to shed some light on Satan’s hellish scheme.
Why Are People Confused About Hell?
Before we dive into specific false doctrines, we need to understand why we’re having this problem in the first place. Somehow, preaching about Hell became taboo. I believe this happened and is happening for several reasons: 1) Preachers are unprepared to defend the paradox of God’s love and judgment. 2) Preachers are afraid modern hearers can’t handle the truth about Hell. 3) Some preachers haven’t “settled” a theology about Hell in their hearts. 4) Preachers are afraid of being labeled wild-eyed lunatics. 5) Many ministers don’t believe in “scaring” people into Heaven. 6) They sense that Hell is a taboo subject and simply give in to peer pressure. 7) Some preachers wanted to distance themselves from genuinely distasteful, hellfire preachers. 8) Some preachers are being influenced by mainstream misinformation about Hell that isn’t rooted in solid biblical exegesis. When preachers are silent, saints become vulnerable to every wind of false doctrine.
Sadly, saints ingest lots of false doctrine via “Christian” television, radio, social media, and literature. They read, see, and hear misinformation all the time. Christians who are not comfortable seeking out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) are highly susceptible to believing misinformation about Hell (or anything else for that matter). It’s easy to blame preachers; however, saints are responsible for growing in God’s Word themselves without being spoon-fed every vital thing from a minister. Listen to the frustration in the Apostle Paul’s writings as he reprimands saints in the following passage for their lack of biblical knowledge and understanding:
“…you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish [even slothful in achieving spiritual insight]. For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]! But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law (Hebrews 5:11-14, Amplified Bible).”
Finally, the Devil knows his time is limited. So he’s intensifying and strategically honing his attacks. Although Revelation 12:12 is speaking of a future event prophetically, it gives insight into how the Devil operates: …rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the Devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time (Revelation 12:12). When Satan is running out of time, he hits harder. Time itself is wrapping up, and even if the Church isn’t fully aware of it, the Devil is.
Why Does It Matter What People Believe Concerning Hell?
Technically, it might be possible to have an incorrect understanding of Hell and be saved, but false doctrine damages other essential areas of our walk with God. For example, if Hell isn’t a real, painful, never-ending place, why in the world would we need to evangelize? Without a correct belief in the horrors of Hell, we are unlikely to carry a real burden for the lost or take the Great Commission seriously (Matthew 28:18-20). After all, what do people need to be saved from in the first place?
It is correct that people are not likely to be terrified into a good relationship with God. However, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10). The word fear is best translated as reverence. Which means awe mingled with healthy fear. I respectfully submit that our culture (religious and non-religious) has lost its sense of reverence for God. Wisdom begins with fear, which leads to a proper understanding of God (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10). We can’t know God without reverence (fear mingled with awe). An improper view of Hell results in a wrong knowledge of God. All false doctrines have ever-expanding unintended consequences. So, while it might be correct that people will not serve God long-term out of fear because ultimately, we must fall in love with the Lord, the beginning of our relationship with God must include some healthy fear. If we bypass reverence on the way to love, our walk with God will be off-balance.
If we bypass reverence on the way to love, our walk with God will be off-balance.Tweet
The Terror of the Lord!
Consider this passage of Scripture where the Apostle Paul speaks briefly of death: …to be absent from the body, … [is] to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). He continues by saying that we labor to be present with the Lord in death (2 Corinthians 5:9). Then Paul pens these politically incorrect words:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God… (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).”
Paul carefully emphasizes that we will all stand before the Lord in judgment for the things we have done in this life. And, because we have this holy fear of God, we are motivated to reach people with the Gospel so they can stand before the Lord blamelessly. Genuine Christians are highly determined to reach lost people because they understand the fearsome judgment of God. If God’s adjudication is not dreadful, there is little reason to feel an urgency about evangelism. Indeed, it makes sense Satan would create an aura of confusion around the subjects of God’s wrath and Hell.
We All Need A Healthy Fear of Hell
Look at this often-overlooked passage where Jesus startles His audience:
“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into Hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear (Luke 12:4-5, New Living Translation).”
I love how Jesus started gently and then… Wham! He pounced like an old-time preacher (actually, the old-timers were preaching like Jesus), telling them to fear God and shun Hell. The word throw could also be translated hurl, which gives a little more gravitas to the message: …Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then hurl you in Hell…. Yeah! That’s pretty terrifying. But Jesus didn’t end the sermon with fire and brimstone. Instead, He gave us a beautiful example to follow in our preaching and teaching. Watch how Jesus brought that gut-wrenching thought back around to the overwhelming love of God:
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows (Luke 12:6-7, New Living Translation).”
This snippet of Jesus’ preaching shows us precisely how to strike a balance between fearing and loving God. Indeed, as we realize just how majestically awesome God is, we grow to love Him more. But if one views God as the great-big-cuddly-teddy-bear in the sky, one is more likely to disrespect and disobey God. It can’t be helped; we keep circling back around to Proverbs: …the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10). We all need to begin and end with a healthy dose of fear. We just can’t be saved if we don’t fear God and Hell.
Common False Doctrines About Hell: Metaphorical View
The metaphorical view of Hell is growing in popularity despite its lack of biblical support. In the metaphorical doctrine, the unsaved will spend eternity in Hell. But the extreme pain and environmental conditions described in the Bible are not interpreted literally. The biblical descriptions of fire, heat, bondage, darkness, thirst, worms, pain, flogging, fire, etc., are considered symbolic. Proponents of this doctrine believe separation from God to be the ultimate pain of eternity. To them, the only agony endured in Hell will be the agony of complete Divine divorce. As Billy Graham once stated: I have often wondered if Hell is a terrible burning within our hearts for God, to fellowship with God, a fire that we can never quench. Billy Graham leaned towards the metaphorical view of Hell.
Common False Doctrines About Hell: Purgatorial View
The Roman Catholic Church is unique its purgatorial view of Hell. According to this doctrine, everyone is judged by God immediately after death. Only a tiny minority of saints will go directly into Heaven. Instead, God will send most people to purgatory, a place of punishment (basically a temporary Hell). Most Catholics believe that people are released by God from purgatory into Heaven after a certain length of time. Purgatory is like a cosmic prison sentence ending with a ticket into paradise. There is not one iota of Scripture supporting this false view of Hell.
Common False Doctrines About Hell: There Is No Hell
A small minority of Christians claim there is no Hell at all. In their doctrine, unsaved people cease to exist at death. They incorrectly cite Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. They interpret this Scripture to mean that death is the ultimate and final wage of sin. They are fond of saying death always means literal death in the Bible, and therefore Hell as a place should never be taken literally.
However, they overlook Luke 15:24: For this son of mine was dead and is alive again (New International Version). They ignore the symbolic use of life and death repeatedly used in Romans 7. Also, they fail to contend with Scriptures like Genesis 2:17: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. In this passage, God was speaking directly to Adam and Eve. We know Adam and Eve eventually did the exact thing God told them not to do, but they didn’t instantly fall over dead. Did God lie to them? Of course not, they died spiritually on that fateful day, and literal death entered into the world as an inescapable reality.
All this and more affirms safely interpreting Romans 6:23 to mean the wages of sin is spiritual death and eventual literal physical death. However, even if you are uncomfortable with this interpretation of Romans 6:23, it does nothing to prove Hell is not a real place. Literal death is an attached consequence to original sin from Genesis 2 and on. We know from a vast array of other Scriptures that death is the precursor to judgment, and judgment is the precursor to Heaven or Hell. This doctrine misinterprets one Scripture and blatantly ignores obvious passages describing Hell’s realities and eternal damnation.
Common False Doctrines About Hell: Hell Isn’t That Bad
In his classic book The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis envisions Hell as a dreary, bothersome, almost pleasant place whose inmates can take a day trip to the outskirts of Heaven. This biblically illiterate view of Hell seems to be pop culture’s favorite. Pop music often refers to Hell as a kind of eternal party for the naughty. Nearly everyone casually and exhaustively uses Hell as a curse word. Television and movies like to portray Hell as an obnoxious, almost silly place of torment-ish. For many, Hell might even be considered preferable to Heaven.
Common False Doctrines About Hell: Hell Is Only Temporary
This false doctrine is the evangelical version of purgatory. The lost are sentenced to Hell for a particular length of time, depending on their sinfulness while on earth. When the sentence has ended, the sinner experiences a second death, and their soul is extinguished by God forever. Adherents to this doctrine abandon belief in the immortal soul, and they are forced to become extremely creative with several passages of Scripture. A spin-off of this doctrine believes (much like Catholics) that after a severe sentence is completed, the fire purified soul will be admitted by God into Heaven. I concur with this comment by Stanley Horton: It is hard to see why the Cross would be necessary if the lake of fire could provide another means of salvation.[i]
Is Hell A Divine Overreaction to Sin?
“In no way does man reveal his littleness more effectively than when he exhibits surprise over the fact that there are realities in the universe which he cannot understand. The permission of sin in the universe by a sovereign, holy God who hates sin to an infinite degree, the damage it does to uncounted multitudes of beings—angels and men—whom He loves with a Creator’s love, and the fact that sin must demand of God the greatest sacrifice He could make, all this only tends to enlarge the mystery involved.” [ii]
“In no way does man reveal his littleness more effectively than when he exhibits surprise over the fact that there are realities in the universe which he cannot understand.” -Lewis Sperry ChaferTweet
Wrestling with the profound weight of Divine retribution upon sinful humanity is troubling. It requires a great deal of humility to accept our inability to understand how evil sin is and how it conflicts with God’s absolute holiness. We know because Scripture revealed that God’s holy answer to unrepentant sin is perdition and retribution. Serving the Lord with complete honesty requires growing comfortable with the mysteries of God. Human arrogance assumes that it can always find the answer or solve the puzzle. However, in God’s economy, we aren’t guaranteed every answer to every question, at least not in this life. Deuteronomy 29:29 applies nicely: The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
It requires a great deal of humility to accept our inability to understand how evil sin is and how it conflicts with God’s absolute holiness.Tweet
Trying to understand why God will punish sin with eternal suffering isn’t wrong. Job indeed sought understanding in his torment, but he did so without sinning or charging God foolishly (Job 1:22). Consider this: “Sins may be committed by unbelievers or believers, both of whom are injured by it and require grace. Sins may be committed against God, others, self, or some combination. Ultimately, however, all sin is against God (Psalm 51:4, Luke 15:18, Luke 15:21).” [iii] God alone reserves the right to avenge sin (Psalm 94:1, Romans 12:19). But we can take comfort knowing that He takes no pleasure in punishing sinners (Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 33:11, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). The reality of Hell, combined with the revelation of God’s overwhelming love, should elucidate just how grave sin is. It’s not merely that God refuses to be compatible with sin. Instead, God’s unchanging nature makes it impossible for Him to coexist with evil (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8). Humanity is grossly underreacting to sin; God’s response to sin has been consistent since the beginning of time.
The reality of Hell, combined with the revelation of God’s overwhelming love, should elucidate just how grave sin is.Tweet
It’s not merely that God refuses to be compatible with sin. Instead, God’s unchanging nature makes it impossible for Him to coexist with evilTweet
Humanity is grossly underreacting to sin; God’s response to sin has been consistent since the beginning of time.Tweet
Will There Be Different Levels of Punishment in Hell?
I believe the Bible affirms there will be varying degrees of punishment in Hell (Matthew 10:15. Matthew 11:22, Matthew 12:36-37, Luke 12:47-48, Romans 2:5, Hebrews 10:26-31). All the lost will suffer for their sin; for some, that suffering will be worse than for others. Hebrews 10:26-31 is one of many compelling passages indicating various degrees of judgment:
“…if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (English Standard Version).“
People who do not believe in various punishment levels for individuals in Hell reduce the throne of judgment into a sham where God pretends to be fair. The Bible is clear that God will be so entirely just in His decisions that not one person will claim unfair treatment (1 Peter 1:17, Romans 2:11, Colossians 3:25, Romans 3:19, Revelation 19:1-2). God will judge in absolute righteousness (Acts 17:31). His decisions will not be limited to who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. God will also assign punishments in perfect fairness. Every lost soul will receive a personalized sentence directly from their Creator.
What Criteria Will God Use to Determine Levels of Punishment?
The Gospel Coalition lists three biblically sound considerations: 1) The extent to which a person has abandoned himself to sin (Matthew 5:21, Romans 2:5, Revelation 18:6-7). 2) The extent to which a person by example and influence led others to sin (Matthew 18:5-7, Mark 9:38-47, Matthew 23:13). 3) The extent to which a person abused their exposure to revelation and opportunity (Luke 12:47-48, Romans 2:12, Matthew 10:15, Matthew 11:22-24).[iv] I believe that age and mental capacity will also be taken into consideration by God (Genesis 18:25). Furthermore, God will evaluate things we have never contemplated in this world (Psalm 19:7-14).
There is No Hope in Hell!
There is no biblical basis for holding onto any hope that grace will extend past this life into eternity. As Chafer eloquently points out:
“Such a case should not be considered as being without precedent. Uncounted legions of angels have sinned, and for them, there is not the slightest intimation to be found in the Bible, which extends to them a ray of hope. By Divine decree, these angels are already consigned to the lake of fire, not under a possible proviso that this doom will be averted if, in the meantime, they repent; but they are arbitrarily, unrevokably consigned to retribution and that without remedy. Since God has said, without condition, that the fallen angels will be cast into the lake of fire, He would be found untrue should the destiny of the fallen angels be otherwise.” [v]
Chafer continues by pointing out the utter lostness of the Gentiles from Adam to Moses. Their pagan plight is chronicled in Romans 1:18-32, as those who willfully rejected God. Three times in one context, Scripture declares that God abandoned them to their sinful ways. Ephesians 2:12 shows just how absolutely God discarded the Gentiles before the New Covenant: …at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. No more decisive terms could be used than men being without Christ, without promise, without God, and without hope. Furthermore, God destroyed the entire earth with water and at least two cities with fire because of humanity’s iniquity; all this judgment came before God gave humanity a Bible or a Messiah.[vi] Chafer concludes with a mind-altering thought: The result of any unprejudiced investigation into God’s revealed truth respecting fallen angels and God-rejecting Gentiles of past ages will be a conviction that the marvel of it all is not that sinners are lost, but that they are ever saved.[vii]
“…the marvel of it all is not that sinners are lost, but that they are ever saved.” -Lewis Sperry ChaferTweet
Does Hell Just Mean the Grave?
It’s essential to address one final objection often raised against Hell being a place of eternal torment. There’s a convoluted idea floating around, which asserts that the Hebrew word Sheol (the KJV sometimes translated Sheol as Hell, sometimes as the grave, and sometimes as the pit) always means the grave and does not refer to the afterlife at all. Others erroneously contend that Sheol always refers to Hell (if you’ve Googled articles about Hell, you’ve likely read an article fervidly arguing this fallacy). One is used to undermine biblical teachings regarding Hell, and the other is an overzealous attempt to uphold orthodox teachings about the afterlife. Horton handily dismantles the myth that Sheol only means the grave:
“Actually, Sheol is often described as a depth that contrasts with the height of Heaven (Job 11:8, Psalm 139, Amos 9:2). Often, the context refers to God’s anger or wrath (Job 14:13, Psalm 6:1-5, Psalm 88:3-7, Psalm 89:46-48), and sometimes to both wrath and fire (Deuteronomy 32:22). In some cases, the references are brief, and it seems it is treated simply as the place or the state of the dead. In it, the dead are called Rephaim, what we might call “ghosts” (Isaiah 14:9, Isaiah 26:14). Other passages refer to some of the dead as Elohim, in the sense of “powerful spirit beings” (1 Samuel 28:13). But very often, it is clear that Sheol is the place for the wicked and “all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17, Psalm 39:12–13, Psalm 55:15, Psalm 88:11–12, Proverbs 7:27, Proverbs 9:18, Isaiah 38:18). Where the New Testament quotes Old Testament passages referring to Sheol, it translates the word by Hades, which it sees, not as the vague place pagan Greeks talked about, but as a place of punishment.” [viii]
Interestingly, in Acts 2:27, Peter quotes Psalm 16:10, clearly understanding Sheol as Hades. It’s perfectly proper to link the Old Testament (Sheol) and New Testament (Hades) verbiage together with the word Hell. Also, it’s incorrect to assume ancients did not believe in the afterlife. Enoch and Elijah did not taste death because the Lord took them directly to Heaven (Genesis 5:24, 2 Kings 2:11). David believed he would “dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6, Psalm 16:11, Psalm 17:15).” David speaks of being redeemed from Sheol’s power (Psalm 49:15), indicating his desire to be with God rather than in Sheol in death. The psalmist Asaph spoke of being received into “glory” at death (Psalm 73:24). Another phrase seems to indicate Old Testament saints expected an afterlife. After he went up the mountain, God told Moses and looked across to the Promised Land: You too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was (Numbers 27:13). But Aaron was buried at Mount Hor, and no one knows where God buried Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5–6). Therefore, being “gathered to one’s people” does not refer to the grave.[ix]
How Does the Bible Describe Hell?
Jesus intimated that Hell was initially designed for Satan and other fallen angels (Matthew 25:41). Revelation 20:14 reveals that Hell will contain a horrific lake of fire. After the Final Judgment of God (Revelation 20:11-15), the lost will experience continual and unimaginable suffering and torment. In contrast to Heaven, where there will be no more tears (Revelation 21:4), there will be dreadful weeping and gnashing (or grinding) of teeth in Hell (Matthew 8:12). This gnashing suggests, among other things, the pain will perpetually cause people to grind their teeth in agony (Matthew 8:12, Matthew 22:13, Matthew 24:51, Matthew 25:30). Numerous times Jesus mentioned hellfire or the fires of Hell (Matthew 5:22, Matthew 29:30, Matthew 18:19, Mark 9:43-47). Jesus called the fire everlasting, leaving no doubt that Hell’s torments are eternal (Matthew 25:41). Jesus underscored the seriousness of Hell, saying it would be better to cut off your hand or foot or pluck out your eye rather than use any of those things sinfully and be cast into Hell (Mark 9:43-47).
Some find it troubling that Jesus mentions outer darkness in the context of Hell (Matthew 22:13). 2 Peter 2:4 references chains of darkness. Some find that hard to reconcile with the fiery images of Hell the Bible typically evokes. But this is hardly proof of biblical errancy, the afterlife will defy our sense of logic, and it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that God created dark hellfire. Beyond that, we know that Hell will be large and is ever-expanding (Isaiah 51:4). Scripture doesn’t specify that every square inch of Hell will be fiery or that every square inch will be dark. Hell may have significantly different regions throughout its length and breadth. We probably know less about Hell than we know.
In Mark 9, Jesus abruptly ends His ominous comments about Hell by mentioning worms that never die and fire that never goes out (Mark 9:48). The word translated Hell in Mark 9:43 is the Greek word Gehenna, which comes from the Hebrew name for a place called the Valley of Hinnom.[x] Jesus used this place to paint a vivid mental picture of Hell. Gehenna was Jerusalem’s giant garbage dump located on the southern outskirts of town. In the past, children were sacrificed to idols by pagan parents in Gehenna (2 Kings 23:10); in Jesus’ day, it was a place burning with constant fires to devour the city’s trash. The things burned there included everything from household trash to animal carcasses to convicted criminals (Jeremiah 7:31–33). Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 66:24, and the worm mentioned in connection with dead bodies means grub or maggot. Maggots bring the awful imagery Jesus intended to conjure sharply into focus.
The Bible gives us enough information about Hell to know; avoiding it should be life’s paramount priority. Nothing is more crucial than diligently ensuring we enter Heaven and escape the anguishes of Hell. Jesus lovingly and compellingly asked His disciples: What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? (Matthew 16:26). Then Jesus asked another rhetorical question: Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matthew 16:26). Satan challenged God on this very subject while seeking to destroy the righteousness of Job. Satan argued that a man would give everything he has for his life (Job 2:4). He was wrong about Job, but countless others have traded their righteousness for temporary things. Again, Jesus cautioned us to prioritize heavenly things above earthly things encouraging us to store up treasures in Heaven, not on the earth (Matthew 6:19-21). All of creation and God’s Word compel us to live with eternity at the forefront of our minds.
The Bible gives us enough information about Hell to know; avoiding it should be life’s paramount priority. Nothing is more crucial than diligently ensuring we enter Heaven and escape the anguishes of Hell.Tweet
All of creation and God’s Word compel us to live with eternity at the forefront of our minds.Tweet
How Can I Escape the Torment of Hell?
The ultimate question is, how can a person be guaranteed to avoid Hell in the afterlife? This, of all questions, should be searched after with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Yet, many people think very little about the salvation of their souls. Tragically, one of Satan’s magnificently malicious victories is convincing generations of people that salvation is easy, cheap, and convenient. The average person spends more time searching for temporal pleasures than searching for redemption. Yet, salvation is not found with casual commitment or through convenient conversion. The Bible says that even righteous people barely escape Hell; think of the awful fate awaiting those who have not obeyed the Gospel (1 Peter 4:17-18)? That alone should remove any casual or careless approaches towards the discussion of salvation. Especially knowing it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). The God who created the universe and Heaven and Hell is the only One able to tell us how to be saved. And, He chose to reveal the answer to us through the Bible (His Holy Word).
Tragically, one of Satan’s magnificently malicious victories is convincing generations of people that salvation is easy, cheap, and convenient.Tweet
The average person spends more time searching for temporal pleasures than searching for redemption. Yet, salvation is not found with casual commitment or through convenient conversion.Tweet
The God who created the universe and Heaven and Hell is the only One able to tell us how to be saved. And, He chose to reveal the answer to us through the Bible (His Holy Word).Tweet
There is only one place in all Scripture where people specifically ask: What must we do to be saved (Acts 2:37)? The Apostle Peter gives the most transparent, concise response possible in the following verse: …Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). That precise formula is the only way to be birthed (John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:23) into the Kingdom of God. At the heart of the Gospel is the teaching that we must undergo our own spiritual death, burial, and resurrection just as Jesus did physically (Romans 6:3-8, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 2:12-13).
Essentially, repentance is our spiritual death (Galatians 5:24, Romans 6:11, Galatians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:24, Romans 6:6), baptism in Jesus’ name is our spiritual burial (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12-13), and the infilling of the Holy Ghost is our spiritual resurrection (Romans 6:5, Colossians 3:1, Romans 8:8-14). Furthermore, the infilling of the Holy Ghost is first evidenced by supernaturally speaking in unknown (previously unlearned) tongues (languages) just as they did in the book of Acts (Mark 16:17, Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6) and every time from then on. And, baptism is only salvific when done in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12, Colossians 3:17, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27, Acts 10:48, Romans 6:3).
Baptism is only salvific when done in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12, Colossians 3:17, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27, Acts 10:48, Romans 6:3).Tweet
After we are obedient to the fullness of the Gospel, all the old sinful things pass away, and we become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). We walk in agreement with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Meaning, God not only saves us from our past sin, but He also empowers us with His own Spirit to live righteously (2 Peter 1:3-4). The extra good news of the Gospel is that God doesn’t just save us and leave us the same: He saves us, changes us, dwells within us, and continues to strengthen us daily. Now that’s excellent news, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what it means to be transformed by the power of God.
The extra good news of the Gospel is that God doesn’t just save us and leave us the same: He saves us, changes us, dwells within us, and continues to strengthen us daily.Tweet
Hell Motivates Christians Morally
Grudem lists four ways the doctrine of Hell influences our lives morally: 1) It satisfies our inward sense of a need for justice in the world. 2) It enables us to forgive others freely. 3) It provides a motive for righteous living. 4) It gives an excellent motive for evangelism.[xi] Engrained in the complexity of human nature is the desire to see justice served. The doctrine of Hell assures us God is in control and that justice will be done in the end. Because that is true, we can forgive without worrying about final judgments. We must love God to serve Him truly, but there are seasons where the fear of Hell keeps us on a righteous path. Finally, the doctrine of Hell should compel us to go into all the world, preaching the Gospel out of concern for the lost (Matthew 28:16-20).
The doctrine of Hell should compel us to go into all the world, preaching the Gospel out of concern for the lost (Matthew 28:16-20).Tweet
I sincerely hope this article has been helpful, informative, and compelling to you. If so, please consider sharing this article with a friend. If you are uncomfortable sharing it publicly on social media, consider printing it out and giving it to a friend or loved one. I realize Hell and the afterlife is an uncomfortable topic for many people to discuss openly. However, maybe this article can be a good starting point to open up a dialogue between you and people you know and love. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and I will respond accordingly. As always, thank you for reading, and may God bless you.
[i] Stanley M. Horton, Systematic Theology, Revised; Accordance electronic ed. (Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 2007), 654.
[ii] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology Kregel/Accordance electronic ed. 8 vols.; Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1976), 4:427.
[iii] Stanley M. Horton, Systematic Theology, Revised; Accordance electronic ed. (Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 2007), 280.
[v] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology Kregel/Accordance electronic ed. 8 vols.; Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1976), 4:429-430.
[vii] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology Kregel/Accordance electronic ed. 8 vols.; Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1976), 4:430.
[viii] Stanley M. Horton, Systematic Theology, Revised; Accordance electronic ed. (Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 2007), 608.
[ix] Stanley M. Horton, Systematic Theology, Revised; Accordance electronic ed. (Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 2007), 609.
[x] David G. Shackelford and E. Ray Clendenen, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, s.v. “HELL,” paragraph 7790.
[xi] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Bits & Bytes/Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 1148.
A relevant Apostolic Pentecostal resource that interacts with exciting guests and covers biblical topics of interest, ministry, Christian living, and practical insights hosted by Ryan French. This program is an extension of the popular blog Apostolic Voice (www.ryanafrench.com). Ryan is the Associate Pastor of Apostolic Tabernacle (www.aptabupc.com), a revivalistic United Pentecostal Church on the south side of Atlanta. Ryan’s greatest passion is helping people walk confidently in the Apostle’s doctrine and live a book of Acts life in the 21st century. Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/apostolicvoice/support
From the original ryanafrench.com article, What About Hell? – Everything You Need to Know, Ryan addresses the most common questions, concerns, and misconceptions about Hell. Questions like: Is Hell a real place? Is purgatory real? Is Hell eternal? How could a loving God send anyone to Hell? Are there levels of punishment in Hell? And much more. Stick around to the end to hear a powerful fifteen-minute-long highlights clip of the infamous sermon by T.G. McNeely called Trophies on the Walls of Hell. It’s well worth dealing with the poor 80’s audio quality to hear that life-changing message—ending song credit: The Trumpeteers, Little Wooden Church, circa 1948.
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If you’re a preacher, a preacher’s kid, or someone who loves the ministry and wants to be sensitive to their needs, this article is for you.
Today is my son’s seventh birthday, and he loves the Lord and legos very much. I think his love hierarchy is Jesus, his sister, and his legos. I trail those things by a small but pronounced margin. On a sappy parental note, I love his toothy grin, his high-pitched (and very frequent) laughter, his sensitive heart, and his never-ending questions that leave me scratching my gradually balding head.
My son has the distinction of being a second-generation preacher’s kid and a fifth-generation Apostolic Pentecostal. So he’s got a pretty stalwart legacy of faith behind his little lego littered life. Of course, he’s too young to feel the pressures of being a PK, but with every passing birthday, I know he’s getting a little closer to feeling that burden.
My nine-year-old daughter is just starting to show the telltale signs of PK pressure. I recognized them quickly because I faced them myself. Sometimes they’re subtle, and sometimes they’re manifested dramatically. Even before having kids of my own, I’ve had a heart for PKs. I’ve been privileged to speak at several PK seminars over the years, and listening to their stories takes me right back to my childhood faster than Odyssey’s Imagination Station (if you don’t know what that means, do yourself a favor and look it up).
I would never minimize the challenges that every child faces. Indeed, these are challenging times for children in general. However, it’s also true that being born into a preacher’s home is a tremendous privilege with certain built-in advantages. Some unique difficulties and problems are specific to PKs. In the hopes of helping, or at the very least drawing some awareness to the issues, I am listing a few common PK problems below.
1. Extreme Feelings of Loneliness & Isolation
Because few peers can relate to the ministry lifestyle’s unique challenges, PKs often feel lonely and isolated. They suffer in silence and deal with a lot of unresolved emotional tension. They usually feel ashamed to voice these feelings to their parents because they genuinely don’t want to hurt them or sound harsh towards the things of God; they cherish so deeply.
PK’s often feel lonely and isolated. They suffer in silence and deal with a lot of unresolved emotional tension. They usually feel ashamed to voice these feelings to their parents because they genuinely don’t want to hurt them…Tweet
2. Bitterness Towards Saints
PK’s parents are incredibly busy. Ministry isn’t something you can turn off or punch a time clock and be done for the day. Saints often don’t realize that the ten minutes you just spent on the phone with them is only one of a series of hundreds of ten-minute phone calls that interrupted yet another family moment. Not to mention all the mandatory church events, bi-vocational ministry homes, impromptu counseling sessions, and mountains of prayerful study time that sequesters preachers away from their families. Meetings, administrative work, conferences, ministry-related travel, the business of life, in general, keep pastors and their families overwhelmingly busy, too, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Also, pastor’s wives are unpaid workers with heavy loads of responsibility. They labor alongside their husbands, and although they are technically not on staff, they shoulder an immense amount of time-consuming work. All of this can leave a PK feeling like everyone else is more important than them. Every need is more urgent than their need. Every crisis trumps their crisis. So, they retreat and grow bitter (or jealous) towards the people (or the church in general) who regularly pull mommy and daddy away. If left unresolved, those feelings can morph into bitterness towards mom and dad.
It’s not uncommon for kids to feel a level of bitterness towards their parent’s job responsibilities because it keeps them busy and away from home, but when children start feeling that way about the place they are supposed to go for spiritual nourishment, real dangers are lurking.
Pastor’s wives are unpaid workers, and although they are technically not on staff, they shoulder an immense amount of time-consuming work. All of this can leave a PK feeling like everyone else is more important than them.Tweet
3. They See the Ugly Underbelly
No matter how much their parents try to shield PKs from the worst aspects of a church, it is impossible to keep it all neatly hidden in a drawer. As a result, PKs see their parents attacked by saints and sinners alike. They see their parents disrespected by people they thought were respectable, and they have a front-row seat to the tragic showing of every backslider’s decline. Sadly, disgruntled saints will sometimes try to use a PK to get at their parents or cause a church rift. This is disgusting at best, but not unusual.
PKs, see their parents at their highest highs and their lowest lows. They see Elijah calling fire from heaven, and they see him running from Jezebel too. These are challenging scenarios for a child to process and still love their church family as they should. Others may only see the public displays of respect for ministry, but PK’s see the ugly moments when the masks come off.
PK’s see their parents attacked by saints and sinners alike. They see their parents disrespected by people they thought were respectable, and they have a front-row seat to the tragic showing of every backslider’s decline.Tweet
PK’s see their parents at their highest high’s and their lowest low’s. They see Elijah calling fire from heaven, and they see him running from Jezebel too.Tweet
4. Unrealistic Expectations
PKs, live under a different set of expectations than most kids. And it can go from one extreme to the other. On the one hand, many people stereotype PKs as being trouble makers, spoiled rotten, or bratty. On the other hand, many people expect PKs to bypass their childhood entirely and act like miniature, perfectly mannered adults. PKs live in a glasshouse where their every move is under the watching eye of curious people. Everything they and their parents do is highly visible and scrutinized. The feeling of always being under a microscope can devolve into spiritual and emotional suffocation.
Some PKs live under the overwhelming pressure to grow up and be in the ministry just like their parents. I’ll never forget, I was all of eleven years old when someone very seriously asked if I knew Greek and Hebrew like my father. To complicate things even further, if PKs feel called to the ministry, they face the all-too-familiar critical eye of a watching crowd. Will they be more anointed than their parents or less anointed than their parents? Will they be as talented as their parents or less capable than their parents? Some PKs balk at the emotional reality that some shoes just seem too big to fill.
PK’s live in a glasshouse. Everything they and their parents do is highly visible and scrutinized. The feeling of always being under a microscope can devolve into spiritual and emotional suffocation.Tweet
Preacher’s Kids Are People Too
Bottom line, kids are kids. Preacher’s kids must learn, grow, laugh, cry, win, lose, fall, and get up just like every other kid. They have strengths and weaknesses. They have unique talents and special abilities distinct to them and them alone. Some are called to pastoral ministry, while others are not. They are not puppets to be used in an irreverent game of tug-of-war. They have peculiar challenges and unique advantages at the same time. Saints who love the ministry will love PKs with grace, sensitivity, and understanding. And yes, your pastor and his wife will appreciate it more than words can express.
Preacher’s kids must learn, grow, laugh, cry, win, lose, fall, and get up just like every other kid. They have strengths and weaknesses. They have unique talents and special abilities distinct to them and them alone.Tweet
Saints who love the ministry will love PK’s with grace, sensitivity, and understanding. And yes, your pastor and his wife will appreciate it more than words can express.Tweet
Final Note: For those that might be wondering, as far as I can tell, no one in my church has ever been anything but sweet to my children. I truly appreciate the kindness and consideration that Apostolic Tabernacle shows my children on a regular basis.
AV Podcast with Talmadge
I had so much fun creating this episode with my son, Talmadge. We had so many cool bonding moments and laugh-at-ourselves moments putting this together. We hope it blesses you and your family and that you enjoy listening to it. If you do, please leave us a like and a review on iTunes and your socials. Oh, and for those of you who prefer to read, I’ve added a transcript of Talmadge’s opening remarks. He very earnestly and thoughtfully laid out his top three PK problems. Or, at least, the ones he’s willing to share publically right now. Thanks and God bless.
Ep. 26 | Talmadge’s Cold Open: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix
I’m the son of your host, Ryan French, and my name is Talmage, and this is Apostolic Voice, the podcast. Today, my dad is going to talk about four problems preachers’ kids face. This topic is something I can relate to as a preacher’s kid. And we know it’s a subject lots of people are interested in because, for the last four years, the blog article called 4 Problems Preacher’s Kids Face at http://www.ryanafrench.com has trended in the top 10 and has been downloaded over ten thousand times. I wanted to add what I faced as a preacher’s kid, and maybe this will help others. Number one, we often feel the embarrassment in the pressure to speak with people all the time. Number two, feeling self-conscious about our appearance and voice because we are in the spotlight more than other kids. Number three, sometimes preacher’s kids feel inadequate and unimportant compared to their preacher father. I reminded dad that PKs are all unique people with their own set of needs, and they need to be recognized for who they are as a person. So if you’re a preacher or a preacher’s kid or someone who loves the ministry and wants to be sensitive to their needs, this episode is for you.
A relevant Apostolic Pentecostal resource that interacts with exciting guests and covers biblical topics of interest, ministry, Christian living, and practical insights hosted by Ryan French. This program is an extension of the popular blog Apostolic Voice (www.ryanafrench.com). Ryan is the Associate Pastor of Apostolic Tabernacle (www.aptabupc.com), a revivalistic United Pentecostal Church on the south side of Atlanta. Ryan’s greatest passion is helping people walk confidently in the Apostle’s doctrine and live a book of Acts life in the 21st century. Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/apostolicvoice/support
In this episode, Talmadge joins the program for the first time to talk about the realities of being a PK. Ryan examines real-life problems preacher’s kids face from the original article Four Problems Preacher’s Kids Face at ryanafrench.com. Also, Ryan and Talmadge give a spoken word version of Fear No More by Building 429. If you are a preacher, PK, or someone who loves the ministry, this episode is for you.
Everything meant to break us made us stronger than we were before.
Every fear meant to freeze us made us braver than we were before.
Every lie meant to ensnare made us wiser than we were before.
Every dream we thought was dead is bigger and better than it was before.
Every sad song became a worship medley in the playlist of our lives.
I remember when we talked and you cried tears of joy and healing was in the sky.
Our hearts soared to spiritual heights as realizations of love filled our eyes.
I remember when you took my hand and asked if we would always be alright.
I knew then that God would always be at the center of our lives.
He took broken puzzle pieces, trampled-twisted; flipped them around, and made masterpieces with them.
Every hurt meant to embitter made us better than we were before.
Every hit meant to bruise made us bolder than we were before.
Every strain meant to drain us made us fuller than we were before.
Every chain meant to enslave made us freer than we were before.
Every fallen tear became a bubbling brook in the landscape of our lives.
I remember when the sun stood still and your eyes grew wide as strong winds beat against us for the very first time.
Life did what life does and pain tried to quench the light but you grabbed my hand and held on tight.
That was far from the last time but it was a beautiful beginning to a wonderful life.
“Every sad song became a worship medley in the playlist of our lives.“Tweet
God takes broken puzzle pieces, trampled-twisted; flips them around and makes masterpieces with them.Tweet
Whataboutism is an old word gaining fresh attention primarily because of the obnoxious world of politics. Don’t worry; this isn’t a political post. Whataboutism is a debate technique that deflects criticism by pointing out the wrongdoings (whether real or perceived) of others.
Oxford Dictionaries defines it as “the technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counter-accusation or raising a different issue.”
Whataboutism is a debate technique that deflects criticism by pointing out the wrongdoings (whether real or perceived) of others.Tweet
Essentially, whataboutism uses misdirection in the form of a rhetorical question. My kids use whataboutism all the time. Recently, while scolding my daughter because her room was a disaster, she responded by asking, “What about Bubs?” At that point, she was smirking at the profundity of her argument. She continued with what she considered to be the knockout punch, “You haven’t told him to clean his room, and it’s messier than mine.” And presto, she felt vindicated. In her mind, she had accomplished two things: 1) unveiled hypocrisy by pointing out a lack of consistency, and 2) justified her wrong behavior by focusing on her brother’s wrong behavior. In doing so, she was trying to evade the question and shift the blame.
Essentially, whataboutism uses misdirection in the form of a rhetorical question.Tweet
Every kid I’ve ever known skillfully employs the whataboutism technique. I certainly did (I can hear my mother shouting “Amen”). It’s a childish artful dodge. And yet, whataboutism has become the rhetorical loophole of choice for adults who don’t want to discuss the merits of biblical morality. Whataboutism is the favorite self-justification of the average backslider. They shout, “What about all the Christian hypocrites?” And my response to them is the same response I gave my nine-year-old daughter, “Someone else’s wrongdoing doesn’t make your wrongdoing ok.”
It’s a childish artful dodge. And yet, whataboutism has become the rhetorical loophole of choice for adults who don’t want to discuss the merits of biblical morality.Tweet
Whataboutism is the favorite self-justification of the average backslider. They shout, “What about all the Christian hypocrites?” My response to them: Someone else’s wrongdoing doesn’t make your wrongdoing ok.Tweet
As I’ve said before, many Christians embraced gay marriage because they saw Christians committing adultery, divorcing, and fornicating. They said and still say regularly, “You’re against gay marriage, but what about that TV preacher who cheated on his wife?” Well, what about it? Two things can be true at once: 1) homosexuality is a sin, and 2) Christians can be sinful hypocrites. But finger-pointing doesn’t make my sin or your sin somehow magically acceptable.
Two things can be true at once: 1) homosexuality is a sin, and 2) Christians can be sinful hypocrites. But finger-pointing doesn’t make my sin or your sin somehow magically acceptable.Tweet
There’s a compelling case of whataboutism in the Bible involving David and his oldest brother Eliab (1 Samuel 17:22-29). David had just arrived at the battlefield with food for his brothers, only to find the entire army of Israel hiding from Goliath. David started asking around about the situation. He rightfully felt indignation that a pagan giant was being allowed to defy the armies of the living God. But when Eliab overheard David’s questions, Eliab grew angry, probably because he was feeling a surge of guilty humiliation. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. And then he dropped the hammer, “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be watching?” And there it is, whataboutism on full display. Eliab didn’t stop there, “I know your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle,” he sputtered at his little brother.
Eliab resorted to a defensive posture when faced with his naked cowardice by insinuating that David was equally imperfect. He projected his own reprehensible character flaws onto his brother. Thankfully, David didn’t let that stop him from doing the right thing. Whataboutism always carries a whiff of resentment with a dash of accusation. If there isn’t any actual hypocrisy for a whataboutist to exploit, they’ll simply make something up. The argumentative whataboutism spirit of Eliab is alive and well today. Christians must resist the pressure to succumb to this toxic brand of self-justification. Jesus addressed the natural human desire to justify our bad behavior with someone else’s bad behavior. He said:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).”
The message is clear, just because your enemy was hateful first doesn’t mean you get to be hateful too or excuse hatefulness in others. Jesus wasn’t a hypocrite either. He talked it and lived it. Speaking of Calvary, the Apostle Peter wrote:
“Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness… (1 Peter 2:23-24).”
Although unjustly judged, Jesus left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. The work of the cross allows us to live unto righteousness. Christians are new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). That means we don’t get to play the whataboutism game. We don’t get to say, “They did it first!” In other words, we aren’t reactionary. We stand stationary on the Rock that is Christ Jesus. Oh, and the next time someone starts pointing out all the imperfect Christians to excuse their sin, just point them towards Jesus.
Christians are new creatures in Christ Jesus. That means we don’t get to play the whataboutism game. We don’t get to say, “They did it first!” In other words, we aren’t reactionary. We stand stationary on the Rock that is Christ Jesus.Tweet
The next time someone starts pointing out all the imperfect Christians to excuse their sin, just point them towards Jesus.Tweet
“For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).”
Most people don’t intentionally try to hurt their pastor. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule. However, there are subtle ways that people carelessly or inadvertently bruise their pastor. If you love your pastor and want to create a climate of revival and respect you will do your best to avoid the items listed below. Let’s dive in.
Tell him he only works on Sundays (or something to that effect). Most people say this jokingly not realizing how terribly insulting they’re being. The typical pastor is massively overworked and understaffed. Studies show that huge numbers of pastors leave the ministry because of burnout and exhaustion. Pastors often work seven days a week and have very little “off the grid” time. There’s no such thing as a definite “day off” in ministry.
Insinuate he makes too much money. First, you should want your pastor to be financially blessed (1 Timothy 5:17-18, 1 Corinthians 9:9-14, Romans 4:4, Acts 6:2). If you don’t, there’s a deeper issue at play. I realize that shyster preachers and TV charlatans have tainted the waters and made people wary, but a godly pastor deserves to be compensated reasonably well.
The average pastor struggles financially. The percentage of wealthy pastors is almost microscopic. Most pastors could make a far better living in the secular workplace. When a person insinuates their pastor is overpaid they are being hurtful in three major ways. One, if their pastor is struggling financially it tells him he will always be struggling financially if this saint has anything to say about it. Two, it demonstrates a lack of respect and appreciation for the work of the ministry. Three, it exposes a mindset that is undervaluing the worth of pastoral ministry.
Refuse to tithe. There is a curious trend that most pastors notice but rarely mention out loud; people who fail to tithe are often the most demanding people in the church. They want more programs, more individual attention, and more costly improvements than the average member. Now, good pastors aren’t in ministry for the money, but being in the ministry doesn’t mean you suddenly don’t need to make a living. Refusing to tithe doesn’t just harm the church it harms the pastor’s ability to provide for his family.
Disregard, disrespect, or mistreat the pastor’s family. Some people will do things to the family that they would never do directly to the pastor. Staggering inconsiderateness or blatant confrontational unkind behavior, when directed towards the family, ultimately harms the pastor. And it’s just plain wrong.
Compare him to other preachers. Constantly comparing your pastor to another pastor or a celebrity preacher who probably doesn’t even know who you are is soul crushing to him. Your pastor is not just a preacher he is your under-shepherd. Meaning, he has prayed for you, entreated God on your behalf, and bears a customized burden for your spiritual well-being. There might be other preachers who have more oratorical skill than your pastor, but your pastor doesn’t need to feel the pressure of comparison.
Disparage new ideas. Every pastor will have a new idea from time to time. Sometimes they work out as planned and sometimes they don’t. Don’t be the person who can always be counted on for the dreaded “I told you so” when a new idea falls flat. Every leader needs the leeway to try new things and adjust accordingly. Be as supportive of new things as possible.
Minimize successes. There are few things more discouraging to a pastor than people who refuse to celebrate successes. Some folks bring a wet blanket to every celebration by pointing out all the things that are still imperfect. No matter the strength of any given church, there will always be plenty of room for improvement, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t rejoice when progress is made.
Pretend you want advice when you really want validation. Ah. This is a big one. Don’t ask for counseling when you’ve already decided what you’re going to do. If you’ve already made up your mind just admit you don’t want spiritual guidance or genuine input from your pastor. Pretending you do when you don’t is disingenuous.
Talk behind his back. It might’ve just been a moment of frustration and you didn’t even really mean what you said, but when it gets back to your pastor (and it will) it will weigh on him heavily. He’ll love you regardless but your trustworthiness will be compromised.
Withhold honor. Some saints withhold honor because they don’t want their pastor to get a “big” head. Trust me. There are more than enough “balloon poppers” out there to keep him humble. Just give honor when and where honor is due.
View him suspiciously without a valid reason. We’ve all seen pastors fall from grace whether up close or from afar. We’ve all heard or maybe even seen the horror stories of preachers gone bad. Satan uses those sad stories to plant seeds of distrust and disunity within the hearts of good people. You wouldn’t teach your kids to distrust all police officers because of a few dirty cops, likewise, extend the same benefit of the doubt to godly ministry.
Fight with other saints. Probably nothing else causes more grief to a pastor than trouble among the saints.
Complain about irrelevant things. There are legitimate complaints that are worthy of mentioning to your pastor. However, airing out every personal preference and petty dislike becomes hurtful in a hurry.
In conclusion: everyone (including myself) has done at least one of the things mentioned in this article. Your pastor loves you anyway and that’s not going to change. We’re human, and that means we accidentally hurt one another occasionally. The key is to do our best to adjust when we realize that we’re causing someone pain.
It’s no secret that our country is in a tremendous state of turmoil. America is in religious, political, economic, and moral upheaval. We seem more divided than ever by class, creed, color, and culture. This ought not to be so, but ignoring reality is not an option. Let’s narrow down that massive list of generalities to the subject of the escalating racial tensions that have dominated the news over the past few weeks.
First, all racism is rooted in hatred and hatred is a sin. John didn’t pull any punches when he said, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (1 John 19:20-21).”
You cannot claim to love God and hate others at the same time. In another place, John equates the sin of hatred with the sin of murder (1 John 3:14-15). If you study the Bible and human nature you will quickly find that hatred and murder are just a few short steps apart from one another. Christians of all races absolutely must resist the pressure to be subdued by racism or hatred of any kind.
Satan knows that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). He works feverishly to divide and conquer. The Church must recognize and rebuke Satan’s handy work wherever hatred manifested as racism raises its murderous head.
We should also know that this proliferation of racial division is a clear indication of the soon coming of the Lord. While speaking about the end of time, Jesus said in Mark 13:8, “…nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”. Recently, my friend Reverend Victor Jackson articulated that the word nation mentioned here finds it’s root in the Greek word meaning race. Therefore, it is accurate to say that in the last days, races will rise up against races and kingdoms will rise up against kingdoms. The Church recognizes that this is the spirit of the antichrist at work. If the Church allows the spirit of division (a spirit that is antithetical to the Holy Spirit) into its ranks it will cease to be the Church.
I believe that racial injustice is more prevalent than many want to acknowledge, and less than some who peddle division would lead us to believe. The Church must stand against injustice for people of every color, race, and creed (Proverbs 21:15, Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 24:24-25, Psalm 106:3, Proverbs 21:3, Deuteronomy 10:18, Deuteronomy 27:19). The Bible intertwines the unfailing love of God with justice (Psalm 33:5). In other words, love and justice are closely connected attributes of God. If we are reflectors of God’s image then we must love people and love justice.
Jesus took it a step further by commanding us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). This might not be very compelling had Jesus not obeyed his own command by forgiving the very people who put him on the cross (Luke 23:34).
As racial tensions hang over our nation like storm clouds we must remember one key Scripture: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
And so, as the Church stands against injustice, racism from every direction, hatred, violence, and class warfare we must be ever mindful that the battle will be won with spiritual weapons. Bullets are not the answer. Hatred and violence only instigate more hatred and violence. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King are more relevant today than ever before:
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
It is imperative that the Church models to this world what racial unity looks like in word and deed. We must stand in solidarity against violence and hatred. For the record, I believe that the vast majority of police officers do their jobs with excellence and integrity (there are always exceptions to the rule). The apostle Paul clearly admonished believers to give honor and respect to governmental authority (Romans 13:1-7). As a Christian, I grieve over every senseless loss of God-given life. I rigorously oppose violence against black lives, blue lives, and white lives. I know it sounds silly and sappy but the words of an old children’s song we used to sing in Sunday School keep ringing in my ears, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight”.
We know that our weapons are not carnal but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). Therefore, prayer is a powerful force of good in the fight against evil. Prayer is not a waste of time. Prayer is not just something that we do to make ourselves feel better. Prayer is not just a platitude that we talk about. Therefore, pray we must. I’m imploring everyone who loves the Lord to join me in prayer for the healing of our nation. Join me in prayer for the families who have recently lost loved ones to what seem to be unjustified acts of police violence. Pray for the families of the Dallas police officers who tragically lost their lives because of an injustice that they did not commit. Pray that the cycle of hate and violence will stop. And if you really want to be like Jesus; pray for your enemies too (Matthew 5:44).
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