True Religion (Nehemiah 5)

Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.” Nehemiah 5:1

As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” This was the strategy that the enemy employed to get at Nehemiah. Threats of war could not stop the work on the wall. In fact, it brought the people of God together! However, it wasn’t long before  internal strife reared its ugly head.

This is systematic for a lot of congregations in our Christian religious experience. Although there are times where outside influences can knock a church down, for the most part it’s the internal strife, disunity, and struggles that cause the most damage. When the enemy can get members to fight against members, church leaders to rebel against pastoral authority or a multitude of similar situations, the church cannot fulfill the call of God. Where disunity is present in a church, the enemy is glorified. As Mark 3:25 states, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”

There were three results of this outcry that we can interpretively apply in a spiritual context:

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3 things that I learned from a pig snout

Sometimes, crazy things happen in ministry… Here is my story.

A few years ago my wife and I were invited to dinner at the home of a new family in our church—recent immigrants from Mexico who wanted to get to know us better. When we arrived we were treated as honored guests as they attended to our every need. It goes without saying that for most pastors these types of visits are the best ones.

We were served “posole”—a traditional Mexican soup that is made with either chicken or pork. In this case, the region of Mexico this family comes from has a peculiar tradition of honoring their special guests by serving them the pig snout. Imagine my surprise when I was served a giant bowl of soup with a floating pig snout in the middle.

In my Puertorican heritage we aren’t accustomed to eating snout (as far as I’m aware, at least). I just smiled graciously and asked myself, “What do I do?” I didn’t want to disrespect them or make this couple feel bad. I didn’t want my culinary preferences to hurt these great people who had obviously worked so hard to make us feel honored in their home.

These types of situations are reflective of ministry, where sometimes pastors must stretch their cultural limitations. In order not to offend sensibilities, we might have to do things we are uncomfortable with…

That being said, allow me to share what I learned from a pig snout that evening:

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