THE TABOO TOPIC

May 12, 2021

photography of one us dollar banknotes

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Nothing shuts down a church service like preaching about money. Yet it was one of the top 4 topics Jesus talked about. Yes, to many preachers bang on this drum more often than needed. And yes, to many churches have amassed huge debts.

I knew one pastor that on one Sunday morning they had a victory service and dinner over the fact that they had just paid off a huge mortgage. The next Sunday he talked about having a capital campaign to build a new building with a huge mortgage. That was also the day he got fired.

When I pastored small churches, we kept an offering box in the back of the church you put your money in either when you came in or on your way out. the boxed was mentioned in the bulletin and at the end of the service. In large churches we had online giving and a regular collection time. Every October we did two church services on stewardship.

Are Christians required to tithe? (Leviticus 27:30–33)
The short answer is no, Christians aren’t required to tithe.
The Law of Moses mandated the tithe to support the Levites in their priestly
service and those in need among the foreigners, orphans and widows (Dt 14:28–
29). Since Christ’s sacrifice of himself removed the need for a Levitical
priesthood, the principal purpose for the Old Testament tithe is gone. But the New Testament says quite a lot about giving. Believers are to give in the following
manner:
Generously. Jesus told his followers to give to everyone who asks (Lk 6:30), to
give to those who can’t repay (Lk 14:13–14) and to freely give what we have
freely received (Mt 10:8). Paul established the principle that what we reap is a
reflection of what we sow (2Co 9:6). If God is blessing you financially than give more, if you are struggling financially than give less or even nothing at all. I pastored one church where a woman put an envelope in the offering plate every Sunday with coupons in it and the last Sunday of every month she baked something for us. Another church in the Appalachians offered me for a pastor’s salary $25 a month and all the canned goods, chickens or deer and vegetables we could handle.
Humbly. There is danger in thinking that if we follow a specific rule, we have
done everything that God requires. Jesus chastised the Pharisees for giving a tenth of their spices while neglecting more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness (Mt 23:23). To suppose that God demands 10 percent—and nothing more—can foster an attitude that says, “This bit is for God, and the rest is mine.”
With the proper attitude. Using a strictly legal principle of giving prompts
wrangling over questions like: Is it 10 percent of gross income or net income? of
take-home pay only? before or after insurance and retirement deductions? Instead, we are to give what we decide in our hearts to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2Co 9:7). Therefore some better
questions might be: How can I better manage my affairs so that I can give more?
Where can I give that will best serve God’s purposes? Now that I’ve given what
money I can, what else can I give?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

The surgeon told us my wife is definitely going to have to have spinal surgery. This will be her second one in 18 months. Keep her in prayer please.

Keep Steve h in prayer, guidance in finding a new pastor and health and well being. Pray for his wife Pam, chronic knee pain.

If you are familiar with out salvation list than you are familiar with Lauren. I have been particularly burdened for here since my wife is bed ridden she doesn’t get to have her little talks and nudges with Lauren. This girl is a walking time bomb, please keep her in prayer.

Remember Makala, in prayer 18 years old and battling depression and anger over her divorced father that has broken every promise he has ever made.

Rend-the-Heavens-Facebook-Heal-Version-e1620313298243

I’m sure we can all agree that evil surrounds us in America. Daily we are bombarded by reports of heinous crimes and lawlessness being committed throughout our land. How can Christians not only remain peaceful and hopeful during these turbulent times but also dare to anticipate revival—perhaps a Third Great Awakening? I believe we can. But we must be willing to wait on God and seek Him like never before because “He acts for the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:4).

This type of waiting expects something to happen and waits patiently for it. When we wait and pray, anger doesn’t influence us, impatience doesn’t drive us, impulse doesn’t derail us, and fear doesn’t stop us. The disciples prayed in the upper room until heaven opened and the Spirit came down. The filling of the Holy Spirit forever changed them. They were hungry for more of God. Can you say the same?

If we are to expect God to heal the crippled church and our dying nation, we must pray like Isaiah, “Oh God, rend the heavens and come down” (Isaiah 64:1). And like the woman in the parable of the unjust judge, we must keep asking (Luke 18:1–8). Prayer must be brought back into our churches, real prayer that searches the soul and penetrates the heart.

Never, Never, Never Let Go

Many years ago, a very old man who experienced a revival when he was younger was asked why the revival ended. His eyes were filled with holy fire when he cried, “When you lay hold of God, never, never, never, never let go!” Let his burden be a warning as well as a reminder to never let go.

When you were first born again, you had this fire, didn’t you? And then life happened. Prayer and reading the Word gradually became an afterthought. Yet nationwide revival begins with personal revival—believers one by one begin to seek God again, and before long, there are family revivals and then churchwide revivals and then community revivals. Yes, it can happen, but the seeds must be planted by individual members of the body. In other words, it begins with you.

Are we welcoming this type of downpour in our churches and positioning ourselves for a downpour of God’s Spirit, or are we extinguishing it because of pride, sin, doubt, unbelief, and prayerlessness? It’s time to break up our fallow ground and seek the Lord while He still may be found (Hosea 10:12). We provide the sacrifice; He provides the fire.

Do You Want to be Made Well?

People love their sin and play the victim—which seems to be so prevalent in our educated, modern society—and they don’t want to change. Just like many today, the Laodiceans in Revelation 3 thought they were in the center of God’s will. They were a large church, wealthy and involved in the community, but Jesus said they were, instead, “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked,” and that if they remained lukewarm, He would vomit them out of His mouth. Jesus’s strong but loving words were designed to heal the spiritually crippled church. 

Would they repent and experience His presence or remain crippled and drift further away? Throughout the Bible, the promises about returning to God are clear: if you return to God, He will return to you; if you seek Him, you will find Him; if you hunger for holiness, you will be filled; if you thirst for righteousness, you will be satisfied.

A Shocking Indictment

E. M. Bounds, famous for his books on prayer, wrote about a devout Christian named Edward Payson. Payson fueled the fires of revival during the Second Great Awakening through his persistent intimacy with God. It was said that he wore grooves into his hardwood floor as a result of his praying. Although some mock his fervency, I was inspired by it; it caused me to pray, “Lord, please bring a downpour of Your Spirit into my dry and barren soul. Oh God, would You revive Me again so that I can rejoice in You?” Does it stir your soul as well?

Praying fervently to experience the power of God as Payson did is not uncommon. Both early believers and persecuted Christians today would be shocked at how little we actually pray. Prayer can heal a crippled church and even resurrect a dying nation. Conservative churches need to dismount from their high horse and bend their knee at the altar. Carnal churches need to stop quenching and grieving the Spirit and fear God again. Pastors, God wants to fill your heart before He fills your church (more here on both topics). Give up your programs, and replace them with prayer and worship. Give up your marketing ploys and seek God’s glory instead of numbers. Then just wait and see what God will do!

Answer the Call Today

Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”

Will He find you seeking after Him or running in the other direction? Nothing is more painful than seeing an unbeliever on the broad road to destruction or a believer running from God. Return to Him today, and experience the flames of revival.

  • His call is to the prodigal—“Return to Me, and I will return to you” (Malachi 3:7).

  • His call is to the exhausted—“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

  • His call is to the fearful—“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

  • His call is to the broken—“I will bind up the broken” (Ezekiel 34:16).

  • His call is to the sick—“I will strengthen the sick” (Ezekiel 34:16).

  • His call is to the lost—“I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away” (Ezekiel 34:16).

God uses praying, Christ-centered believers on fire for Him to heal our land and revive our churches. Even if you’re not where you’d like to be, God’s love and mercy are continually calling you back. Make that choice today—once you make a choice, it then makes you.

delivered to the West Side Church on the 2021 national day of prayer.

GRIM REAPER

A NUMBER of years ago, Encyclopedia Britannica published a 55-volume series entitled The Great Books of the Western World. This series presented the most important ideas that scholars and intellectuals have considered and investigated over the course of recorded history. The longest essay was on God. When noted philosopher, author, and co-editor of the series, Mortimer Adler, was asked the reason behind this, he replied, “It is because more consequences for life follow from that one issue than from any other.” I believe Dr. Adler’s assessment is spot on. The major issues of life are understood with the greatest clarity only after the question of God’s existence is placed in its proper context. Everyone has a certain perspective on how life works. It is the lens through which we see life. It is what most people call a “worldview.” When we are born, we begin to try and understand how life works. Over time, we formulate a philosophy of life, a worldview, and this worldview influences how we see ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we live our lives.

There are only two points to this discussion. There either is a God or there is not.

The greatest advances in any country came about because of a belief in God.

Most of the greatest innovations to science came from people who believed in God.

The worst places in the world to live are the places that do not believe in God.

The decay or anarchy of a civilization comes about when a nation stops believing in God.

Our worldview informs our personal, social, and political lives. It helps us understand our purpose. Our worldview determines our ethics, our values, and our capacity for happiness. It helps us answer the big questions of life: How did I get here? How am I to live? Where do I find meaning in life? What is my ultimate destiny?

The believer in God has the big question, “what is His will for my life?”

The non-believer asks, “why am I even here?”

Believing in God gives us a moral compass, an understanding of identity and a hope for living.

For the non-believer even though they do not know it, there only choice is going to Hell.

So, my question to all believers is this, if the unsaved world is so miserable and we as Christian know the answer to joy, peace and happiness, why are we not telling everybody we know the Good News?

The answer is shocking, Christians do not care and rarely believe in the doctrine of hell. Satan has succeeded in his grand plan, we are to busy, to satisfied and we do not care.

I recommend that everyone reads ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy’ not because it is accurate but because it is the closest we are going to get in seeing how bad hell really is.

We who are blessed with the love of God and rescued from hell need to share what God has done in our lives and what heaven means to us.

I got to witness today to the chief surgeon to one of the largest military hospitals in the world. When I was done, he asked me if I wanted to see a psychiatrist. That is the world view of the damned. But, maybe, a seed was planted, the bible says the Word of God never returns void.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Keep my wife Sharon in prayer, tomorrow (Tuesday) we see the surgeon and come out with a plan.

Remember our salvation list, Lauren, Nicole, Anne, Tara, Hunter, Garrett, Lubbock, Tavon, Phillip, Drew, Oscar and Cristina, Norma P and her husband Rick and their adult son Rick Jr. along with salvation, deliverance from gambling.

Keep praying for Steve H, strength, encouragement, guidance, personally and in finding a pastor for the church, I am praying for a mature, seasoned, grounded, sound biblical expositor that will be in it for the long haul. Keep his wife Pam in prayer chronic knee pain.

silhouette and grayscale photography of man standing under the rain

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“God can, and does, heal today, but not always. He is not committed to a   covenant promise today but is perfectly free to exercise a proper discrimination regarding the spiritual advisability of doing so where His people are concerned. No believer who has a history with the Lord will deny that He has used physical weakness and sickness as a means to develop the graces of the Holy Spirit and a spiritual dependence upon the power of God.

  “At the same time there are many who have prayed earnestly for deliverance and have received it. In both cases the Lord works on the principle of the highest benefit to the believer, which is his or her spiritual and growth.

  Concerning God’s principle of the highest benefit to the believer: “Hudson Taylor once wrote that his greatest spiritual blessings had come to him in connection with his various sicknesses; that all of the most important advance movements which had taken place in connection with the China Inland Mission, including its inception, had come as a direct result of some physical breakdown through which he had been called to pass.”

My own condition of living daily with chronic pain keeps me more grounded in the Lord and certainly more conscious of folks with prayer requests for relief from pain. Some of the hardest laughing I have ever done were in the midst of great bouts of pain. During that interval of joy and laughing the pain fled my body, when it returned my first thought is always in heaven this will never come back.

I was once carried into a revival service that I was conducting. It was the third day of the revival meeting and I had gone out with some of the men of the church to do some brick laying. My back went out and I could not move, they put me on a 2×10 when it was time to start preaching and carried me into the church, set me up against the wall behind the pulpit. I began to preach that revival night and about 5 minutes into the service I was preaching like Billy Sunday. We had a great service that night. It was not until having an after-church dinner that I saw that 2×10 and realized I had been touched during that service and for the rest of the week had no back problems.

Was I permanently healed? No, several months went by and I ‘threw’ out my back again and eventually had to have surgery. But I still have that 2×10 in my library to remind of times I have been touched and will be gloriously whole in heaven.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

So pray fervently for those that are in pain and suffering, pray that if there is something God is trying to teach or correct or lead in a certain way it will be made known.

Pray for Steve H, vim and vigor, health, guidance and help in finding a pastor. For his wife Pam who suffers from chronic knee pain.

Keep my wife Sharon in prayer, we see the surgeon Tuesday and find out what has to be done.

boxing

If you’ve ever wondered why many people refused to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry, you have to look no further than his command to love and pray for our enemies (see Mt 5:43). For the entirety of their existence, the people of Israel had to fend off enemies—from their slavery in Egypt to their occupation by the Roman Empire. Expecting them to love and pray for their enemies was almost inconceivable. It would be akin to telling modern Christians to love and pray for the criminal and terrorist organizations that persecute them.

Yet when Jesus gave the command to love and pray for our enemies, he knew it would one day require praying for people who would murder his own bride, the church. He made it clear that when we think of the people who hate us and wish us harm that we can no longer even see them as enemies. As John MacArthur explains, “We are not to be enemies of those who may be enemies to us. From their perspective, we are their enemies; but from our perspective, they should be our neighbors.”

But how do we do that? How do we pray for these neighbors who hate us? Such a task is difficult, but here are three specific ways to ease the process:

  1. Pray for their transformation—Like Jonah, we want those who have done evil to receive their just desserts, not mercy and forgiveness. Consider all the Christians who dutifully prayed for the Nazis in World War II. How would they have felt if they discovered that Hitler, prior to his death, had truly repented of his sins and was forgiven by God? Many would have felt cheated, as if it was unfair of God to forgive such horrific crimes. They would likely want to complain, as Jonah did when God spared the Ninevites, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jnh 4:2). But it is precisely because he is a gracious and compassionate God that we pray for our enemies to change their ways. How could we do anything less than ask God to show them the same grace he has shown to us?

  2. Pray the evil they do is restrained—There is no dichotomy in praying for the good of our enemy and praying that their evil actions be restrained. It is to their benefit, too, that they be prevented from committing evil. For those who have hardened their hearts against God, it would be better that their lives are shortened than for them to continue to persecute his children.

To protect the innocent from slaughter, it might even be necessary for human governments to take military action to restrain evil. But we should remember that while force might be the only effective way to restrain their actions, we should not rejoice in their suffering or death (see Pr 24:17).

  1. Pray they will receive divine justice—Just as we seek justice on earth from duly established governmental authorities, we can seek out the divine justice of our holy God. Yet when asking that such justice be meted out, we have to be careful to guard our motives to ensure we aren’t trying to circumvent our duty to love our enemy. In the order of our prayers, this request is a “last resort” option, a plea for doing what is necessary for those who will neither turn to God nor turn away from doing evil.

As former enemies of God ourselves, we should be gracious and grateful we are even allowed to pray for our current enemies, secure in the knowledge that Jesus will hear us. We can be thankful enough for the gospel that we want even our enemies to hear the good news of God’s grace. But if they refuse and harden their hearts against the One who would spare them, then we can ask that they receive the divine retribution that is due to us all. Jonah 4

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember our salvation list, with Lauren at the top of the list, self destructive, manic, suicidal, a complete anarchist and unsaved.

Then there is Anne, Drew, Tara, Hunter, Lubbock, Tavon, Phil, Garrett, Oscar, Cristina, Nicole, Norma P and her husband Rick and her adult son Rick Jr.

Tuesday we see the surgeon for my wife, not sure how invasive the surgery is going to be.

Caliste Burt, brain surgery in September.

Keep Steve H in prayer, guidance and favor in the hunt for a new pastor, we are praying for the perfect pastor, seasoned, mature, a true expositor, and his wife Pam, chronic knee pain.

Bill and Lois, early dementia and chronic neck pain with Bill.

the bomb

Well, you can not spend 40 years on the road as an evangelist, seminar speaker, author etc. without some hotel stories and since we have not done a funny Friday devotion in a while here goes.

What makes this first one funny is that all of these events took place in the same hotel.

Holiday Inn, San Angelo Texas, I was there once a month for several years speaking to different groups and the hotel always gave me the same room.

One night I got there after midnight I was tired and worn out. as I opened the door to my room there was a man standing there about 4 foot away. I had my pistol half way out before I realized the maid had left the closet door with a mirror facing me.

Another time I was sound asleep and I mean sound asleep when I hear some one slipping into the other bed. I turned on the light and there was this much older woman sitting in the other bed. I was speechless and she just said, “oh, do I know you?” I told her I doubt it. Seems the front desk gave her key to my room, electronic locks were just coming out and seems all the kinks were not worked out and she had had a few drinks before coming up to bed.

Same hotel, had a very successful speaking engagement and was half way to Abilene Texas, when my cell phone rang. This was when cell phones came in a  brief case. Seems the honcho’s at headquarters were a bit peeved because I turned in my expenses and there was a receipt for $400 dollars worth of booze. And since this was a holiness organization they had some concerns. I was told to come to Dallas immediately and explain myself. So I stopped at the hotel in San Angelo and was talking to the manager about what happened and he said, “oh, thank God, there’s a salesman here and he is in hot water because he can not prove that he wined and dined his clients. I gave him my copy of the receipt and he wrote me a letter to give to the board and all ended well.

Same hotel, same room, 1Am the door comes flying open and here comes the bride and groom with half their clothes off before I can get the lights turned on. You would think most people realize there has been a mix up and go figure it out. not this guy, he wants to fight, “what the hell I was I doing in his room and how did I know his wife.” Then the fight started, not between him and me, but between him and his brand new wife. I just pulled the covers over my head knowing someone would call the front desk with all the screaming and shouting.

Same hotel, 2 AM, fire alarm goes off, there is smoke in the hallway. Hotel evacuates. We are all standing outside in our whatevers. An hour and half the firemen leave, turns out a sign on ice machine was shorting out and making some smoke. 530 AM, fire alarm goes off again, we all exit the building. Firemen show up, no smoke, no problems go back to bed, just then the lawn sprinklers go on and spays everyone.

La Quinta hotel, Harlingen Texas. Crawl into to bed, shut of the lights, 3 minutes later I hear a strange noise and feel something crawling over my face, turn on the lights and there are about 1000 cockroaches the size of half dollars climbing every where. Call the front desk asking for another room. No rooms available and they tell me no other hotels available because of a big season finale high school football game and in Texas high school football games are treated like the Rose Bowl. I try sleeping with the covers over my head and the TV turned on so they will go to the light. When you can hear cockroaches talking to one another it is time to leave. Slept in my car.

Some no name hotel in Fort Stockton Texas. It’s one AM, one room left in the whole town, yep, football game. Walk into the room and the odor is so bad I almost threw up, and on top of that the top notes of bleach. Back to the front desk. “why does my room smell so bad?” the stoned out clerk looks at me and says the professional cleaners have not shown up yet and some guy died in the room and sat there for a couple of days before he was discovered. Slept in my car in front of the police station.

Corpus Christie Texas, Holiday Inn, I go down stairs for breakfast, see the guy that is in charge of my speaking tour there. Set down and while eating my breakfast start asking him questions about crowd capacity, do we have a good sound system, remind what town is next. His wife joins us at the table and says to her husband, “who is this young man?” he responds, “I have no idea” seems he wanted to see how long I would talk to him before I would figure out he was not who I thought he was.

Same hotel, my wife and I drove down for our anniversary and did not want anyone to know we where there as I promised her no fund raising, no business dinners, nobody inviting us to their home or church to speak. We will be anonymous. Pull into the parking lot and there is a huge sign saying, ‘congrats to Dr. and Mrs. W, happy anniversary. Our room was filled with flowers from well wishers and messages by the dozen with invitations for dinner, tickets to a theatre. We checked out and went to another hotel.

Howard Johnson’s hotel, on the east coast, I’m sound asleep when a cinder block comes crashing through the window, followed by a huge guy in a hoody and gloves on. Turn on the lights shove my .45 in his face and say, you will be the third guy I killed this month. He goes leaping out the window, call the front desk, police show up, maintenance shows up, screws on a ¾ inch piece of plywood over the window. Manager shows up, shakes my hand and tells me the room and breakfast is comped. I ask him why he is not moving me to another room, his reply, “you are safer now then before. Threw all the pillows and blankets into the bathtub, locked the door and slept in the tub.

San Francisco, California, staying at the most expensive hotel in town, they actually wash all the change every night so you get clean change and new bills from the bank. 5 star restaurant. Limo driver, the works. I’m not only the top billed speaker but a publishing company is begging me to edit or ghost write a 15 volume work on the psychology of counseling. I’m staying here for 6 nights. Every morning it’s 6am room breakfast and then speaking to 7 pm. On Wednesday night I’m getting a little tired and when I’m tired I snore, a lot. It is about 2 AM and the Concierge opens my door and is whispering “Dr. W, please wake up” finally he throws a pillow from the couch at me. I spring out of bed ready to fight. I see Pierre and he very apologetically says, “I was just trying to get you to roll over, we’ve had complaints from 6 rooms about your snoring.” Saturday, I do not have to speak, it is a day off, 7AM my door opens and there is Pierre, “Dr. W are you ok?” I’m looking at him like he is crazy, “why are you asking?” “well it is just you have breakfast every morning at 6 AM and since you were not there for breakfast every one was worried. Now that, is a 5 star hotel.

Last but not least, I was preaching a revival in a the hollow of a Appalachian community. The directions were drive till this road ends, walk to the bottom of the hollow, Sara will be there to meet you, Sara is a mule. Get on the mule, it takes me to a make shift tent out in the middle of no where. I preach and have a healing service for 5 hours. I was so tired they brought a chair and would hold my arms and lay them on people for healing. I woke up in a motel with no recollection of how I got there or really where I was. There were about a dozen pies and a basket of fried chicken and pickled eggs and an envelope with $4.00 in it. I have to tell you when I saw that I just wept.

40 years of traveling I have got stories of everything from demons to shotguns and moonshine stills and people that still write letters or send me pictures of great grand kids, some named after me. God is so Great, I have literally recorded over 1.5 million miles driven in that time period and through blizzards and deserts, fog and hail storms God has kept me safe.

My best advice, stay home and sleep in your own bed.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

(and no Mrs. Irwin I did not proof read this).

Remember Steve H in prayer, vim and vigor and guidance, healing for his wife Pam’s knees.

Keep my wife in prayer, we see the surgeon on Tuesday and see what is what. She is in agony. She never takes any medicine including pain meds so she is suffering. Keep her in prayer.

thinking over feeling

Everyone has a certain perspective on how life works. It is the lens through which we see life. It is what most people call a worldview. When we are born, we begin to try and understand how life works. Over time, we formulate a philosophy of life – a worldview. This worldview influences how we see ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we live our lives.

Author and literary critic Adam Kirsch of the New York Sun penned this insightful quote:

“The best atheists agree with the best defenders of faith [in God] on one crucial point: that the choice to believe or disbelieve is existentially the most important choice of all. It shapes one’s whole understanding of human life and purpose, because it is a choice that each must make for him or herself.”

If we are seeking to discover what is true about God, we must remember that truth is discovered and not invented. It is discovered by examining the available evidence that enables us to come to a rational conclusion. If something is supported by evidence, it is worth believing.

William Kingdon Clifford was a philosopher who lived in England more than 150 years ago. He was not very well known because his life was cut short at age 33. His recently discovered essay entitled “The Ethics of Belief” is receiving a great deal of attention.

In this essay, written in 1877, Clifford says that it is our moral obligation to believe responsibly. We must base our beliefs on sufficient evidence that we have diligently investigated. He believed this to be of such great importance because beliefs influence one’s actions. They are foundational to life.

In commenting on this essay, journalist Francisco Mejia Uribe contends that Clifford is on to something because when we believe something, the stakes are high. Every single belief has the capacity to be truly consequential, particularly if the belief is in error and involves the most significant issues of life.

This insight has caused me to wonder how many people examine the evidence on the existence of God before they come to belief. How many of them believe responsibly? I often think people make their decisions about spiritual reality based on subjective preferences. It reminds me of Pascal’s observation that most people invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof (evidence) but on the basis of what they find to be attractive to them. It is quite clear, however, that truth is not a matter of subjective taste but that which is based on objective evidence.

I might add that this tendency of not believing responsibly is true of atheists and Christians. In both cases, they cannot give a good explanation of the position they have taken; they cannot explain the evidence that has led them to belief.

I am reminded of Sir Hector Hetherington, who, for 25 years, was the Principal (President) of the prestigious University of Glasgow in Scotland. In Samuel Leith’s book The Impossibility of Agnosticism, Hetherington had this to say about our search for spiritual truth:

“There are issues on which it is impossible to be neutral. These issues strike right down to the roots of man’s existence. And while it is right that we should examine the evidence, and make sure that we have all the evidence, it is equally right that we ourselves should be accessible to the evidence. We cannot live a full life without knowing exactly where we stand regarding these fundamental issues of life and destiny.”

Do we not care about what is true? Are we afraid to look reality in the eye because it may take us in a direction we don’t want to go? I believe this is one of the great flaws in our human character. We stubbornly hold on to our beliefs because they generally reflect how we want life to be rather than how life actually is. For this reason, evidence does not seem to matter.

A great example of this is Dr. Francis Collins. Many consider Dr. Collins to be one of the most effective and ground-breaking scientists in the world. Collins graduated with a degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia. He earned his PhD in chemistry at Yale and then decided, for good measure, he would go to medical school at the University of North Carolina. From there, he returned to Yale and later, the University of Michigan. He is most noted for having been chosen to chair the Human Genome Project where, in 2003, he led an international collaboration of two thousand scientists in sequencing the human genome. More recently, he was appointed by President Obama to be the Director of the National Institutes of Health. Clearly, he is a prominent scientist, but what is perhaps even more interesting is his spiritual journey.

He began this journey as an atheist. In his third year of medical school, while he was working in the hospital, he was attending a woman who had exhausted her options for treatment. She suffered from a heart condition and was going to die soon. Collins was moved by this kind and faithful woman. She had a strong faith, and she shared it with him. She said, “You know, I’m ready to go. Don’t worry about me.”

And then she said, “Dr. Collins, you’ve been so kind to listen to me and care for me and listen to me share with you about my faith. Tell me about your faith. Tell me what you believe.” Collins later wrote in this collaboration of writings by leading thinkers:

“Nobody had ever asked me that question before, not like that, not in such a simple, sincere way. I realized I didn’t know the answer. I felt uneasy. I could feel my face flushing. I wanted to get out of there. The ice was cracking under my feet. All of a sudden, by this simple question, everything was a muddle.”

Collins began to wonder if he was an atheist because he had chosen the position of reason or because it was the answer he wanted. Finally, it came to him. Collins shares in this collection of stories:

“As a scientist, I had always insisted on collecting rigorous data before drawing a conclusion. And yet, in matters of faith, I had never collected any data at all. I didn’t know what I had rejected. So, I decided that I should be a little better grounded in my atheism. I better find out what this is all about. So, I challenged a patient of mine who was a Methodist minister. And, after listening to my questions and realizing that I was not dealing with a very full deck of information, he suggested that I read the Gospel of John, which I did…I found the scripture to be interesting, puzzling, and not at all what I had thought faith was about… then I began to read C.S. Lewis and realized there was a great depth of thinking and reasoning that could be applied to the question of God.”

Lewis convinced him that reason and faith go hand in hand, though faith has the added component of revelation—the Bible. Collins had previously believed that Jesus and the stories of the Bible were nothing more than mere myths. Again, as he studied the historical evidence, he was stunned at how well documented and how historically accurate the Bible is. He also saw a surprising fidelity of the transmission of the manuscripts that were passed down over the centuries. And, over time, Francis Collins, based on the accumulation of the evidence that he observed, concluded that God exists, and that Jesus is the Son of God. He also concluded that most of the religious skeptics that he knew and that he meets today are just like he was. That is to say, they didn’t want to think about these things and never looked at any evidence, never drawing conclusions from the real evidence that was available.

This is what Dr. Dallas Willard, former professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, believed was a major problem with individuals who considered themselves to be agnostic or atheist. Willard found that so many of the students and scholars he encountered on campus and in the world were guilty of what he called “irresponsible disbelief.” These bright men and women would often choose to disbelieve in something without any significant commitment to an investigation of that disbelief by way of sound reasoning and careful examination of the evidence.

Over 40 years ago, I read the wonderful book A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken. The book details his long spiritual journey as an agnostic. Though Vanauken lived in different places in the world, he somehow struck up a long-distance friendship with C.S. Lewis. Much of the book is an exchange of letters between the two of them. Vanauken was seeking to get answers to the spiritual questions that troubled him the most.

Lewis’ answers provided the evidence that he needed to finally make a personal decision.

After coming to the conclusion that God exists and that Jesus was the Son of God, Vanauken was able to look back on his life and realize that he had contempt towards Christianity, but it was a contempt against something he realized he knew nothing about. He realized, like Francis Collins, that most of the people who reject Christianity know almost nothing of what they are rejecting.

This article is from Richard’s best-selling book Reflections on the Existence of God. a series of short essays that reveals the powerful evidence for God’s existence.

This article was so good I had to repost it. As many of you know I do not lightly endorse modern writers, but this piece really gets the brain whirling. Just how smart are Christians, how many Christians can answer the most basic questions of why they believe what they do. Very thought provoking.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

I am enjoying the emails of all the new readers and from some that have never dropped a line and are saying hello, God bless you all.

BROKEN BRAINS

May 5, 2021

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Romans 1:28 NLT, Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.

Sad but true, today the Prime Minister of India said that there are not enough vaccines and no way to deliver them and of all the countries in the world they have more Covid cases than anyone else. So, here are his recommendations,

1, at dusk everyone go out and beat loudly on a pan or anything metal and shout “covid go away”

2, cover yourself in cow manure this will protect you from the virus.

3, wash yourself in cow urine as this will also protect you from the virus.

Now go back and read Romans 1:28.

Do you want to know why a country puts so little value in human life but will worship a cow? They have abandoned God.

Do you want to know why a country can abort millions of babies a year and then develop a vaccine from the stem cells of these aborted babies? Because they abandoned God.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for revival of our country. Pray for all these false shepherds, fake pastors, depraved pastors, debased pastors are exposed and thrown out of these fake, personality cult like churches.

Pray for salvation for, Anne and Drew, Oscar and Cristina, Garret, Tara, Hunter, Lauren, Nicole, Norma Perales and her husband and adult son. Tavon, Lubbock, Philip.

Keep my wife in prayer, she gets to see the surgeon next Tuesday, she is in agony.

Keep Steve H in prayer, guidance as they are looking for a new pastor, Pam, his wife is suffering chronic knee pain. Pray for healing or a cure.

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UNANSWERED PRAYERS

I am convinced that the number one reason for unanswered prayers is because we ask amiss, incorrectly, out of self-interests or it conflicts with the Word of God.

The second reason is unanswered is unconfessed sin. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, down to our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not walking in the Way or we harbor enmity in our hearts toward our brother or we ask for things with the wrong motives (such as from selfish desires), then we can expect God not to answer our prayer because He does not hear (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). Sin is the “stopper” to all the potential blessings that we would receive from the infinite “bottle” of God’s mercy! Indeed, there are times when our prayers are heinous in the Lord’s sight, most notably when we clearly do not belong to the Lord either because of unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) or because we are practicing hypocrisy (Mark 12:40).

Another reason why prayer seems to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing out of our faith a deeper reliance and trust in Him, which should bring out of us a deeper sense of gratitude, love and humility. In turn, this causes us to benefit spiritually, for He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for that poor Canaanite woman, who cried out incessantly to our Lord for mercy when He was visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28)! She was hardly the person a Jewish rabbi would pay attention to. She was not a Jew and she was a woman, two reasons that Jews ignored her. The Lord doesn’t seem to answer her petitions, but He knew all about her situation. He may not have answered her stated needs immediately, but still He heard and granted her request.

God may often seem silent to us, but He never sends us away empty-handed. Even if prayer has not been answered, we must rely upon God to do so in His own time. Even the exercise of prayer is a blessing to us; it is because of our faith that we are stirred to persist in prayer. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our prayer life is wanting, does that not reflect our spiritual standing also? God hears our impoverished cries for mercy, and His silence inflames us with a sense of persistence in prayer. He loves us to reason with Him. Let us hunger for the things that are after God’s heart and let us walk in His ways and not our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, then we are living in the will of God, and that can never be wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

A person may harbor improper attitudes toward prayer that paralyze his or her prayer life. Some of these prevent us from praying at all. Some people do not pray because they think prayer accomplishes nothing. If prayer accomplished nothing, we would think that people would have abandoned it long ago. The testimony of Scripture is that prayer does produce change both subjectively in the person praying and objectively in the persons and situations we pray about (Numbers 14:11-19; James 5:17-18).

Some people admit that prayer changes things, but they feel it is not necessary to pray except in times of extreme distress. They prefer to rely on experience (Joshua 7:2), human advice (7:3), or personal judgment (7:4) rather than seeking help from God. Unless our only recourse is God, why pray (2 Chronicles 16:12; Isaiah 30:1-2)? Prayer is the last resort for this person. Such an individual never fully realizes the possibilities of prayer. When he concludes that prayer is unnecessary, he underestimates his need for God’s help (John 15:5). Conversely when a person becomes aware of his helplessness, he will seek God’s face diligently. One of our greatest needs is a realistic understanding of our deep need of God in every situation. Such an understanding drives a person to pray.

Lack of faith that God will hear prayer also hinders praying (Hebrews 10:22). The kind of faith required for effective praying is belief that God can do what the person praying asks Him to do. It is not faith that He will do it unless He has promised that He will in His Word. Since God is sovereign and free, we can never be sure that God will do a specific thing in answer to prayer unless He has already promised to do it. Nevertheless we can and must believe that He can do it if it is His will (11:6). If a person does not believe this, he or she will probably not pray in the first place.

Often God wants to do something to us before He wants to do something for us. As simplistic a statement as that is, the fact is it is often the case.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Please keep my wife in prayer, she is in agony and her surgeon is hampered by covid restrictions.

Remember Lauren M. in prayer. First for salvation and secondly you probably can not find a meaner, self-centered, self-destructing person than her. We keep waiting for a phone call that she either killed herself or went psycho and went active shooter scenario. She comes to church only to bargain with God and her latest boyfriend is ‘religious’.

Steve h in prayer, vim and vigor, guidance, favor, and pray for his wife Pam and her chronic knee pain.

Pray for Lisa M. self-sabotaging, mean girl. Salvation and sobriety.

IN THE BLINK

May 3, 2021

BLINK

I see you!

How does one make sense of the unexpected?

We all know accidents happen. We cringe thinking and praying we are never in a wreck like that. We fear getting that phone call with horrific news of a death, a fatal disease diagnosis or a notice that your job has been terminated or the news that an unexpected fractured relationship is seemingly irreparable. We know God could have prevented this accident, but He did not. We live in a fallen world, and accidents happen.

Are they really accidents? Or are they carefully planned and orchestrated events to purposely become a part of that person’s life story, one with the proper response that can bring great glory to God?

In the blink of an eye, 1/10 of a second, faster than you can say a one syllable word. Faster than bang, your life can change that fast. You go to the doctor for your annual physical, and he tells you that you have less than a year to live. The doctor gives you a shot and you die, stroke out, pass out, have a seizure, stop breathing.

That blurry vision, it is retinal cancer. (ok, if you are a hypochondriac stop reading right now). I have heard my doctor say 15 times, there is a good chance this is cancer.

Guy runs a red light.

Your two year old runs out into the street.

A skunk.

Hurricanes, tornados, tsunami, earthquakes.

GOD IS EITHER IN CHARGE AND IN CONTROLL OF EVERYTHING OR HE IS IN CONTROL OF NOTHING. IT HAS TO BE ONE OR THE OTHER.

See, you do not have to like it, or approve of it or even understand it. But God is in Charge. That is basically the point of the whole Old Testament.

In the unexpected, a learned proper response could be to expect God in the unexpected.

Knowing that God is sovereign, knowing that He is perfect love, knowing that He provides for and takes of His children even in the most awful of circumstances gives great comfort in spite of the circumstances.

He is present with His children. He is present with us. He was present for our friends. He is with us even when we are overwhelmed, cannot see our way clearly and wonder how in the world we will survive the mess we are in.

We had been married 2 years; it was Thanksgiving Day we were going on Base to have Thanksgiving dinner with a Christian couple that were mentoring us as new believers. We get home and the front door is open. The robbers took everything, I mean everything, silverware from the drawers, the house plants, the curtains, all the food from the refrigerator. They stripped the house bare, except for the nursery, the did not take one thing.

We called the police, after looking around this cop comes up to me and says they were short and had no kids. I said, “how do you know they were short”? he holds up my wallet, it had been on top of the refrigerator. He being 6’2 saw it right away.

As new Christians we couldn’t believe this was happening to us. I called the family we had dinner with and they rushed over to our house. Don, said we need to pray. I was praying; “God kill them dead right now”. And Don was praying “Lord we do not understand but we praise your name and give you glory”. I remember looking at him and thinking he must be nuts.

We spent the next two days with them. On the second day the police drop by and tell me they have all our stuff. ALL OF IT. It seems that same night the two guys who robbed us were our next-door neighbors and right after they robbed our house they went and tried to rob a Taco Bell with one of our steak knives and the manager beat the crap out of them.

Long story shorter, as a two stripper (not yet a NCO, I was not qualified to live on base, but the base commander was a Christian and he heard what happened to us and moved us on base and threw a block party and all the base and neighbors furnished the house completely for us, right down to toilet paper and hamburger. Like Lot from the Old Testament we ended up with an abundance, much greater that what we had. Including feeling a lot safer, which was a big deal because I was TDY a lot and my wife had a support group and not to mention about 30,000 guys on base with guns.

We learned a valuable lesson we never forgot. You do not have to like what is going on, but you better be prepared to praise God in the midst of the storm.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember please our prayer list and our salvation list.

Questions, comments, topics you would like to know about or scripture verses you want more info on, send us an email. We do not give out our personal phone number, I do give out a Google phone number I check about every other day. You can leave a message or prayer request there. And we do respond to emails.

Many blessings folks.