The sin-bin for church

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I enjoyed playing rugby union more than any other sport. It is a brutish physical game where no quarter is given or asked. Foundational to playing was the idea that you always respected the officials – no talking back to the referee, only the captain asked questions (politely) of him.

Last weekend a French national player Louis Picamoles was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes by the referee for illegal play. He has subsequently been dropped by the team for one match with his coach being scathing in his criticism of the player. The BBC reported it like this

France number eight Louis Picamoles has been dropped for next week’s Six Nations match against Scotland for showing disrespect to a referee.

The forward appeared to mockingly applaud Alain Rolland after the referee sent him to the sin-bin against Wales.

He also gave a thumbs-up gesture as he left the pitch during Friday’s 27-6 loss to the reigning champions.

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre said: “Certain attitudes have no place whatsoever in our sport.”

He added: “Respect is the foundation of our values. It is important to send a signal to all players who have the privilege of wearing the jersey and remind them it imposes duties and obligations.”

What about doing that in our churches? How would it sound if we took a strong stance against ungodly speech, against gossip and slander, back-biting and all malicious words? What would happen if we sent someone in church to the sin-bin for 10 minutes to think about their speech when they have been offensive in what they say?

We come to the Bible, Ephesians 4:29 says,

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (ESV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. (Msg)

I know we are people of grace and forgiveness – or at least should be if we want God to forgive us Matt 6:14-15 – but just occasionally I wonder if God wants more from us, sacrifice, self-death, purity, Christ-centred living and a tongue that is kept in check?

I realise most churches are reluctant to speak out take action about such sins. I can only conclude that I have to listen to the Holy Spirit as he convicts me and send myself to the sin-bin for the good of the Body of Christ.

God's not dead

no miracles

I haven’t been posting cartoons on Saturdays recently but the one above did make me chuckle and think. Then I asked a question of myself, “Where does the power of the gospel start and end in my [your] life?”

Many people I know say that the greatest miracle is someone getting born again. On one level I find that hard to disagree with and yet I still find myself asking questions about the power and reality of God?

I believe God does miracles today, he heals the sick, delivers the demonised and breaks bondages. The God who made the universe still has a role to play in it.

Peter and John obviously knew God’s power on that fateful afternoon as they walked to the temple for prayer, see cartoon above and Acts 3.

Paul seemed to think God’s power was an essential part of the gospel, 1 Cor 2:4,5; 4:20 (ESV)

“my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God…For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”

Most strikingly, and challengingly, Jesus told us to expect God’s power, Jn 14:12 (Msg)

 “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it.”

Some Christians suggest we no longer need miracles, after all we have the Bible. My problem is that my Bible tells me to expect miracles.

A work of art

Following on from CS Lewis’ observations about the church I read this quote on Facebook,

“The problem with our churches is that they are PRODUCTION LINES. When someone doesn’t meet the standard, they are considered ‘rejects.’ Our churches should be more like ART GALLERIES, where every person is subject to observation that leads to appreciation!”

Manny Velante