>It Tastes Good; But It Is a Sin Hated by God

>Chris Brauns:

There for a while I was on a kick lately of eating chocolate toffee almond nuggets: creamy and sweet.

Unfortunately, when I ate those choice chocolates, I hadn’t seen the last of them. After they have tasted great, they show up just above my belt. As good as they are, they are not worth the calories. When I eat a chocolate, I give it a free pass to head for my stomach and out into my body.

That says, Proverbs is how gossip is.

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts (Proverbs 18:8).”

So, important is this Proverb, that it is repeated verbatim later in Proverbs 26:22.

Bits of gossip are like chocolate nuggets: smooth and creamy, they melt in your mouth: it tastes good to be in the loop; it is sweet to hear someone else notice the same weaknesses in another that have frustrated you; it feels spiritual to ask for prayer – – gossip and grumbling and complaining are a tempting treat.

But, remember this. As sweet as those gossip nuggets may taste, snacking on them is not the end. Words of gossip accumulate on our spiritual waistlines. They shape the inmost part of our being. Gossip muddies our windshields so that everything looks dirty.

The next time you are tempted to take the tinfoil off a piece of gossip and pop it in your mouth. Think again. Words of gossip go down to our innermost being.

>Stuff I’ve Seen in 30 Years of Ministry

Three decades ago I was in Bible school. At the same time I began working with a large youth ministry. Thus for thirty years (what is such a young guy doing in such an old body?) I have been vocationally involved in ministry. God has opened doors for school assembly programs, prison and jail work, speaking to scores of civic agencies and service clubs, hundreds of churches, and a wide variety of other speaking venues.

As I reflect back over the marvelous things God has done, I wonder if I’ve really learned anything in those 10,950+ days. The following are observations made and/or confirmed. Since there is nothing new under the sun, I’m certain these things have been recorded before, but I offer them simply as “lessons learned” in the hope they may serve as encouragement, or provide an “uh-huh” moment:

*People are much, much more important than programs

*“New” rarely is synonymous with “better”

*Worship is a matter of the heart, not posture or posturing

*When someone says, “I don’t want to gossip; I just want you to pray about something,” insert something in your ears

*Most committees take minutes and waste hours

*When youth workers say the teens are bored with something, it usually means the youth workers are bored, not the kids

*If we don’t encourage people to think, we are not discipling, we’re merely creating more religious groupies

*Musical styles are not worth discussing, much less fighting over (lyrics may be)

*It is possible to have a Christian meeting without food (or an invitation)

*Non-Christians expect more of Christians than Christians do

*A walk talks, and a talk talks, but a walk talks louder than a talk talks

*Ministry happens

*It is easy to spend so much time “earning the right to be heard” that you never say anything

*Acts 1:15 records that Peter preached to “a gathering of about one hundred and twenty,” Acts 19:7 says Paul laid his hands on “about twelve men,” thus evidencing the Holy Spirit’s lack of concern with numbers – Whereas most evangelicals would say “a gathering of 123” and “eleven men”

*Most evangelicals will sign petitions to get the Ten Commandments back in school though most of them could not list the Ten

*Neither teens nor adults can spiritually live on periodic “big” events

*Only God can convince someone that their perceived “conviction” is, in fact, a personal preference

*The often-voiced arguments against rock music are nothing but the parroting of closet racism

*If you verbalize a strong view of anything you will be labeled narrow-minded and opinionated

*If it hurts you to confront, you are probably okay; if you eagerly anticipate it, forget it

*God’s Word is always relative

*Youth speakers are less than a dime a dozen; speaker that will hang out with the kids between pulpit times are a rarer breed

*Other than people, time is the only irreplaceable commodity

*Never preach above your experience

*Don’t let what you don’t know mess up what you do know

*It’s dangerous to use personal pronouns while referring to the ministry you serve

*A real danger for the disciple of Christ is making the Bible, witnessing, worship, or ministry an idol

*Aggressive listening is demanded from the speaker as well as from the audience

*Never tell counselee that they are saved. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit

*Never tell a teen that he or she is “the church of the future.” They are the church of today

*It is high time for the Body of Christ to quit messing with the scaffolding and spend more time strengthening the foundation.

Well, probably nothing drastic in the above, but they are some observations make not in a textbook but in the reality of life. Very often people ask me what my favorite verse is, and my primary response is Deuteronomy 29:29. Look it up, as it sums up rather handily my view on life.