only normal

December 31, 2014

Resurrection-Doubting-Thomas

Doubt can be debilitating. Hesitation and uncertainty are characteristic of the doubter.  James says the “double-minded” man is “unstable in all he does”. The man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7, NIV).

 

Yet, it is not unusual for even a Christian to experience doubt. He may question, “Is the Bible really true?” when he hears a critic attack God’s Word. In confusion over unanswered prayer, he may question, “Is God real? Does He  really answer prayer?” When confronted with the reality of his own sinful desires, he may question, “Has God really save me?”

 

In spite of the tendency to doubt, we can be encouraged because honest doubt often leads to solid faith and deeper commitment.

 

The opposite of doubt, of course is faith.  James encouraged those who were passing through trials to “ask of God” and “ask in faith” (James 1:5,6, KJV). We must remember that doubt can be an effective tool of Satan.  He caused Eve to doubt by asking, “Yea, hath God said” 9Genesis 3:1, KJV). He will afflict us with doubts where we are the most vulnerable.  Spiritual disobedience, disappointment, depression, illness, and even the fears of old age can trigger doubt.

How To Help Those Who May Be Disillusioned Through Disappointments:

Circumstances may often cause believers to doubt god because of a divorce, a death in the family, a wayward son or daughter, unanswered prayer, long term illness or betrayal by another Christian.

  1. Encourage them that it is normal to have doubt. God does love and care for us. He wants the inquirer to learn to walk with Him by faith.

  2. Help them to identify the source of their doubts, emphasizing that it is not wrong to ask, “Why?” in life.

  3. Remind them that God has never promised freedom from adversity in life. It may be that they need to get their eyes off themselves and their problems and back on God! We may need to see beyond the circumstances of  life to what God is attempting to teach us through them.

God is faithful.  The encouragement of doubt into one’s mind doesn’t mean that God has ceased to care.

  1. We need to reflect on God’s goodness that we have seen demonstrated in the past, to remember evidences of God’s faithfulness in our own life and in the lives of others. This will help to reassure our minds.

A renewal of faith is in order. Encourage ourselves to begin to trust in God’s promises again.  We should saturate our life with the Scriptures and believe God.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29,NIV).

  1. Pray with folks for renewal, asking that we confess our doubts to God and pray for a dynamic faith.

  2. Encourage others to be faithful in worship with God’s people. The cultivation of relationships with other Christians will be helpful. Getting involved in service for Christ through the local church will fortify resolves and strengthen our commitment.

We can doubt our sanity, our salvation or are our prayers heard, does God Care, these are all normal thoughts.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8, KJV

“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”    John 20:29, KJV

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6, KJV

Trust unquestionably the Word of God. “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firms in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 119:89,90, NIV). “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in you hearts” (2 Peter 1:19, KJV).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

I want to thank a new friend for reminding about the greatness of Classic Christian Art.

God bless the different

December 30, 2014

churtch

Ok. Don’t hate me for this devotion, it might be disturbing but true.

 

Kooky girls, strange women, oddballs, high strung, hyper-spiritual, and maybe a little slow (don’t shoot me, keep reading).

 

We all know women in church that fit this bill. People talk about them behind their backs, rude comments are made about how we hope they don’t breed because the children might be like them. After church on Sunday you tell the kids not to look them in the eye because you don’t want them coming over and inviting themselves to your home or out to eat because they are uncomfortable to be with.

 

Admit it you either know someone like this or you’ve heard church people talk like that (shame on them).

Well as a pastor of many years let me tell you about these special people whether they are men or women. They volunteer for everything you ask, they will tithe and give when it stretches them really tight. They stay at the altar praying longer than anyone else. They are more empathetic and have more sympathy than any one you’ll ever meet.

 

For better or worse they take in stray dogs, cats and people. Huge hearts, they get conned, lied to and taken advantage of.

 

Jesus said we will face severe consequences for screwing around with kids; and these adult children are special in the eyes of God and should be loved, admired and respected in the church. Shame on us for rating them in the hierarchy of the family of God. No wonder people get hurt by the church (the fake church not the real church).

 

If you’ve ever done that please repent, it’s a sermon that’s never preached.

 

God bless

 

Send your prayer requests to scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Pray for Kim who is facing surgery this week and Steve L. for his upcoming heart surgery.

Shiver

December 29, 2014

200514520-004

 

 

Ezekiel 36:26 Ezekiel 36:26English Standard Version (ESV)

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh

 

Webster’s dictionary says that “backsliding” means to lapse morally or in the practice of religion.  It has a deeper spiritual connotation than this would indicate. It means to lose one’s fellowship with the Lord, to grow cold and indifferent to spiritual matters, or even to fall away (apostasy).

 

There are varying degrees of backsliding:

Apostasy: A falling away because of a conscious rejection of God’s truth as revealed in His Word and in His Son.

Sins of the Flesh: Being “drawn away of his own lust and enticed” to sin. This would mean immorality, drunkenness, murder, etc.

Sins of the Spirit: (The most common among Christians). To head the list, we could speak of spiritual indifference – that lack of responsibility before God and the church which results in our being ineffective in life and witness as outlined in the Word.  Also to be listed here are lying, cheating, gossip, envy, selfishness, jealousy, etc. (See Galatians 5:19-21.)

 

Backsliding (or growing disinterested) is losing interest in God (1 Kings 11:9, 10) and not loving Christ “as at first” (Rev. 2:4). Backsliding is first a condition of the heart – a cold or rebellious heart and sinful attitudes – then it becomes evident in one’s life-style.

 

Backsliding can be prevented. A believer is in danger of backsliding unless he take such scriptural precautions as found in 2 Peter 1:5-10: “You must learn to know God better and discover what he wants you to do. . . Learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have his way with you. . ” New Christians should take special care (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

 

Backsliding can be forgiven. God wants to forgive both sinful attitudes and ungodly practices (1 John 1:8-10).

Things That Lead to Backsliding:

Disappointment in the inconsistencies seen or imagined in other Christians.

An indifferent relationship to Christ or “following afar off” and ignoring the place of God’s Word, prayer, and witnessing in our Christian life.

Ignorance of the true implications of spiritual responsibility and practice.

Disobedience to God’s revealed will for my life.

Willful sin which remains unconfessed. We must realize that each person is responsible for his own acts before the Lord.  This implies repentance and confession.

As we talked about yesterday, stop believing in the illusion of innocence, and that everything is all right; confess your sins to God.  That simply means to agree with God when he says you’re wrong.  Don’t try to make excuses for yourself.  1 John 1:8-10 explains exactly what you must do.

 

Ask the Holy Spirit to take complete control, so that you can live a life which is pleasing to God (Rom. 12:1,2; Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:22,23).

 

Determine that you’re going to “grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

 

Take the necessary steps described in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 to keep yourself from ever backsliding again in the illusion that all is all right and nothing needs to be “bible filtered.”

 

Thank God for being so patient and kind with you when have backslidden.  Thank the Holy Spirit for faithfully convicting you of sin in your life.  Thank the Lord Jesus Christ that his blood has now cleansed this backsliding/coldness of all your sins.  Pray that as a believer you will now begin to grow, become strong in your faith, and never backslide again.

 

This is not an act of getting “re-saved” or born again “again” it is building on the foundation of your salvation and going forward.

 

If you are a true believer in Christ, you are going to be at war. The lusts of the flesh, the influence of the world and the devil are going to war against your Christian life.  The flesh will lust against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and there will be constant conflict.  The only time you will have perfect peace is when you are totally committed and yielded to Christ in every phase of your life.  Too many people want to have one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom of God, and it is like straddling a fence.  You are not happy either way.  Declare yourself for Christ.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”                                                                                                1 John 1:9, KJV

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall (find) mercy.”                                                                                                                     Proverbs 28:13, KJV

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”                                                                                                                         Psalm 51:17, KJV

“I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my going. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God; many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”                                                                                                              Psalm 40:1-4 KJV

For those of you that cry out “it’s to late” here are some bible verses for you;

 

“If my people, (who) are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”                                                                                                       2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7, KJV

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

look into my eyes

December 28, 2014

the bible

Illusion; a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.

“the illusion makes parallel lines seem to diverge by placing them on a zigzag-striped background”

synonyms:

miragehallucinationapparition, figment of the imagination, trick of the light, trompe l’oeil; More

  • a deceptive appearance or impression.

“the illusion of family togetherness”

synonyms:

appearanceimpressionsemblance; More

  • a false idea or belief.

“he had no illusions about the trouble she was in”

synonyms:

delusionmisapprehensionmisconception, false impression;

My definition; what most Christians practice as the daily norm of thinking.

 

One reason many Christians fall into the trap of incorrect thinking on this issue is that too many people underestimate how incredibly evil their sin nature is and how its effects have permeated every aspect of their thinking.

 

The great conflict, we are born in the image of God; which makes us noble, gifted, blessed and worth saving. Yet we are horribly marred by sin; which makes us ugly, ignoble, savage, ungrateful and destructive.

 

The greater conflict; is we don’t recognize the illusion, when most churches are trying to convince you that you are a gift and God should be lucky to have you, we are practicing deception. Which is ironic, seeing how we have an all knowing God who truly knows us, and loves us, yet we keep lying to him and ourselves.

 

Because we cannot see reality as it is, we attempt to construct a mental map of our life and its appearance as we seem fit and proper. Some aspects of this mental construct correspond more to reality than do others.

Yet, the overall interpretation of reality is distorted by the lack of sight, the absence of an objective view of reality. This is how every member of the human race functions mentally until they are saved; noble but flawed. Then upon salvation our mind can only be redeemed through faith and living in the truth of God’s word.

 

Now we can see the reason why the great battle is convince everyone that the bible is just another book, whereas to the believer it should be life and breath and the very marrow of our existence and thinking.

 

But the process of reversing years of misconceptions and false ideas also takes time and discipline to study God’s Word and the humility to accept its truth when it contradicts the “reality” we constructed based on our experience.

 

Killing the illusion, should be our supreme goal in life. We can only honor God and grow if we will admit we are wrong about everything and pride and selfishness is exposed to the light of God’s Word and we put every concept through the filter of the Word of God, and in order to do that we have to admit there is a great truth, a reality that there is an absolute truth known only through the Word of God, and as we are so fond of saying; “there’s the rub.”

 

The lost and the unsaved don’t want to believe there is an absolute truth, either they believe they are perfect and don’t need redemption or believe they are so damaged no one could possibly love them. At the risk of repeating myself, both illusions are shattered by the Word of God.

 

Your goal as a Christian is to show the world you don’t buy into the illusion and the bible actually is the construct you use to manage your life. My question is; does anyone ever see you with a bible, or refer to the bible? How can they know if we don’t show them?

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

I’m baaaaaaaaaack

December 27, 2014

last_nail

God’s world is orderly and decorative, but it is also utilitarian. In examining God’s creation, one simple thought I have is that nothing was made on whimsy. God is not like man who does things impulsively and then later has reason to regret what he has done. I have done things and later have come to regret them and found that there is no practical use whatsoever for what I have done.

 

Not so with God. Everything God does has purpose and intention behind that design. It is a master design, and every little thing has its proper place and function.

 

I object most strenuously to Christian writers that can only describe God using adjectives. Since when does God have to be user friendly or cuddly or even completely understood?

The Apostle Paul talked about the mystery of the gospel. Not everything is easy and instantly understood; even the Apostle Peter said some of Paul’s words (message) was difficult to fully comprehend.

 

Some of the greatest Christian writers and preachers have made comments to young preachers along the following lines; “don’t preach from the book of Romans till you’ve been a preacher for at least 10 years, or something of that vein. According to the Torah there are over 613 laws or commandments, plus the original 10.

 

Yet today the popular Christian writer seeks to trivialize God, his commandments and have us believe that a traditional view point of God and theology causes people to feel marginalized, traumatized and demoralized.  The bestselling Christian book today has to be under 100 real pages. If there isn’t an “app” for believers they flounder.

 

Many years ago Gary Collins wrote a book called “Easy Believism;” other’s talk about cheap grace, today I would call it “faith blending.” Let’s present an Oprah version of God, a reader’s digest version of the bible, and let’s take the most popular aspects of all religions and be tolerant of every type of lifestyle, make everyone feel guilty if they have a roof over their heads, oh crap wait a minute we’ve already done that.

 

Let’s tell people that there is no black and white, there is no “one way” to heaven, let’s print bumper stickers that say “coexist” crap, it’s already been done.

 

Let’s use all the adjectives we can find to make God popular, dang, they’ve already done that.

 

Well I guess the fact that Jesus is returning and is kind of pissed off when he returns isn’t a good thing either so let’s skip that. Well I’ve just reduced my bible to the table of contents and “the happy parts,” I’ve gone from 1095 pages to about 145, still to many to be a best seller, crap, I guess we leave out the “I’m the truth, the way and the only way to see God part” and the table of the contents, we’ve hit 99 pages of only two syllable words it’s bound to be a hit.

I guess I have to throw out my King James Version of the bible that still considers Jesus to be Lord, Savior, God, the Christ, the only begotten and all that good stuff that is now politically incorrect and unpopular.

Hey aren’t all of Osteen’s books under 100 pages?

 

I have to stop now or I will really start being offensive and unpopular and crap, my email says I’ve already done that to!

 

God bless, don’t take everything so serious, and laugh at yourself.

 

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

belly button lint

December 26, 2014

light vs darkness

IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to have hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer problems and be misunderstood, to be misjudged by people even though we meant to do well and usually mean well.

 

 

These things can help us to be humble and shield us from having a swelled head and thinking to highly of ourselves. When to all outward appearances our friends and associate give us no credit and may even reach the point when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God, Who sees our heart.

Therefore, we ought to root ourselves more firmly in God that we will not need the consolations or praise of our fellow men.

 

When a man of good will and right thinking is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, and to be present with God without whom he can do no good. Saddened by our sense of miseries and sufferings, hopefully we will begin to lament and pray and seek to truly be blessed by God and not by any earthly acquaintances.

Only then will we understand fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on earth.

 

Pledge now to re-examine everything you do, read, watch and listen to, with a new heart, to be purposed to be closer, nearer and more dependent upon God.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Pray for Martha, who needs to accept she needs to stay on her medication

 

Harold to come to grips with what his life is now.

 

Frank who is battling against those that love him and really want the best for him, to stop sabotaging everything his family does.

 

Richard and his Alzheimer’s who is still brilliant but the disease is taking its toll.

 

Pray for those that are living in fear at home and fear going out even for groceries and are losing their ability to socialize.

We have some great questions to respond to and some great bible give a ways for the New Year.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2014

not ashamed

This is from my good friend and colleague Joe, Merry Christmas.

 

May we praise Him, giving thanks for & celebrating the Birth of Jesus Messiah, Name above all names, but equally reflecting also on His Life, His Death, His Resurrection, and The Hope, which only He, brings.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Philippians 2:8-10 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth 

2 Corinthians 9:15  Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

He became sin
Who knew no sin
That we might become His righteousness
He humbled Himself and carried the cross

Love so amazing
Love so amazing

Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed Redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all

His body, the bread
His blood, the wine
Broken and poured out all for love
The whole earth tremble and the veil was torn

Love so amazing
Love so amazing, yeah

Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed Redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all

All our hope is in You
All our hope is in You
All the glory to You, God
The light of the world

Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed Redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all

Jesus Messiah, Lord of all
The Lord of all
The Lord of all

May we each celebrate Christ this Christmas,

ordinary is ok

December 24, 2014

christ on cross

I go to a church full of older people who live pretty normal, middle-class lives in nice, middle-class houses. But I have really come to appreciate this community, to see their lifetimes of sturdy faithfulness to Jesus, their commitment to prayer, and the tangible, beautiful generosity that they show those around them in unnoticed, unimpressive, unmarketable, unrevolutionary ways. And each week, we average sinners and boring saints gather around ordinary bread and wine and Christ himself is there with us.

 

 

Slow and steady does win the race, yes I have my excitement, three times this month I was divinely protected from physical attack, one this very day. I like to tell you it was my ninja like skills or my menacing manner. But it was neither, I chose not to engage or escalate.

 

Look at all the Christmas Cards, they used to say “peace on Earth” or “joy to the world.”

 

What ever happened to the idea of peace and joy? Why is just driving to work fraught with violence? How can you be two blocks from your house and almost assaulted? Or take those that have not escaped, the raped, the victims of violence or even martyrdom.

Our message of hope must not be lost in the midst of all the images and stories of rage, prejudice, and violence.

 

Christ is still the reason for the season, our anchor, our rock, our strong tower. Not matter what has happened to us this year, this month or day, we are to praise Him and tell others of His excellence.

We pray for peace yet know that violence can be a part of our everyday life. To some just having an ordinary day or rest or peace would not be boring but a blessing.

Father we pray for peace, and rest and simple devotion to you.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Gun Oil

December 23, 2014

bad santa

Midnight’s Past (1985)

Its midnight past —- dark as the darkest coal in the mines of Pennsylvania.  The wind howls with an obscene sound and the snow is blown through the barren fields.  Stubble sticks through the white snow giving it the look of an old man’s beard.  Cold and silence envelop me in the sterile, frozen landscape.  The taste of the gun barrel in my mouth is foul and dirty; the sense of the trigger pulled just to the last pressure point. A twitch, a movement, and the laughter starts.

The demonic voice starts low, almost beyond hearing, growing wilder and wilder with each moment.  It’s not my laughter but a demonic sound from the Prince of Darkness.  It’s his victory chant starting its wild crescendo.  In a flash, a heartbeat, I will be in hell.  I already rent there—what difference does it make.  Every male member in my family on my father’s side, dead by suicide, so it’s inevitable.  The pact will be fulfilled.

It’s almost Christmas.

The gun is in my mouth.  I can’t go through another Christmas.  Dear God, I will spare my family another Christmas from hell.

You’ve sworn on all that’s holy you wouldn’t say, wouldn’t do it.  But you do, and you speak and the first time it happens you are stunned.  How can I stand the pain and disappointment in my wife’s eyes?

My boyhood home—– and Christmas is hell with constant undertones of bickering and fighting between my mother and father.  The drill is the same for my sister and me, doesn’t matter that it’s Christmas time.  Misery exists in our home, side by side with the pathetic Christmas tree.

The agony is constant, but at Christmas it seems magnified when others are singing about “Peace on Earth.”  My father crawls in my bed, telling me lies about my mother, hurting me, while professing his love for me.  And my mother tries to help, ordering him out of my top bunk, grabbing and dragging all 6’2” of him across the room, hitting him.  A smack from my dad lands across her face, sounding like an axe hitting an oak stump. She slides to the floor, my sister falling on top of her, trying to protect her.  My dad hovers like a hawk, watching, waiting, wanting to hit again, and then stomping off to drink his evening away.

My mother’s advice; “Kids, when you hear us fighting, run into the bathroom, and lock the door.  When we move to the other part of the house fighting, grab your clothes, jump out the window and get into the car.  Don’t open the doors, and if I’m not out in 30 minutes, drive the car down to IGA, park there, and blow the horn until Mr. Boltz comes out.  He’ll take care of you.”

“Be sure to call the cops!”

Its Christmas time, and I hate the songs, and I hate the sentiments, and I hate the hate I feel.

Our trip to cut down a Christmas tree starts out as a normal family time.  Everyone in the car, my sister and I hoping and praying for a pleasant day.  “One stop at MacDonald’s Bar and Grill for a quick one.  You guys sit tight,” Dad says.

And a few hours later a neighbor or a state cops comes by and takes you home.

Its three days before Christmas and there’s a knock on the door.  In come three giants in police uniform.  They set up the tree that you never got and decorate it, and they put down the toys and candies and bring in bags of groceries because somehow they know you have been eating nothing but cheerios and spam.  You can’t believe someone cares, and as they leave, they tousle your hair, saying “Be the man, hold it together.”

It’s Christmas Eve, and you and your sister huddle in bed without any visions of sugarplums in your head.  All you can hear is the sound of your drunken father, shooting his gun in the air, laughing and saying, “That fat SOB isn’t stopping here tonight so get your asses to bed.”

Christmas morning dawns, and you race down the stairs.  But there’s no Christmas tree, no toys, no decorations.  Nothing is said, but you and your sister are packed up to grandma’s house, where you can get a semblance of Christmas, where you can feel safe and be a child again.

The Christmas tree is sold with all the toys and decorations right there in your home. Maybe it’s because your father owes someone money, or maybe it’s just because he thinks it’s funny.

Oh, but everyone has to love Christmas.   Not me!

I never shot the gun into the air.  I never sold the goods out from under your nose.  I never got drunk and laid in a stupor for the holidays.

I just bitch about everything.   Why do I have to do it?  Why ask me to participate?  Oh, well, the martyr syndrome kicks in, and I say just get it over with.  I create the tension, I crate the threats, and it’s me who hates Christmas.

I am fully saved.  I am fully justified and sanctified.  But I can’t get through the depression that fall upon me.  It hovers all year and descends in full force at Thanksgiving time.

Ho, Ho, Ho.  I can’t do it.  My first full time position as an associate pastor, I try to play the Christmas Pastor.   I reach the point of thinking if I hear another Christmas carol or poem or get invited to another church Christmas party I’m going to puke.

It can’t be hidden.  Finally I get called into the office two days before New Year’s Eve and asked what’s wrong with me.  Must be a “seasonal effect disorder.”

And so in a windblown field, all is lost, all is gone; the holidays have robbed me of everything. No one can love me, no one comes near, they are afraid of the anger, the tempest.  The depression is black, the Gallic curse is full blown, and a berserker mentality is taking root. A siege engine is gripping my thoughts.   Why surrender?  Why strive? Give up, give in, and stop fighting.   You are not a man.  Give it up!

The lies and seduction call you to rest.  The serpent is whispering, “Pull the trigger, stop fighting, you’ve lost.  There is no shame, it’s the family curse.” And the depression has been with me a year, the weight is like going down the mine, crushing, suffocating.   Blackness, rage, and desperation sets in.

And the hammer starts to fall, and the laughter gets louder.  Everything slows to a crawl.

“Does He matter more than this?” A voice echoes in your mind.

You fall to your knees, and weep, tears freeze on your face.   You think all is lost, all is gone, never to regain anything ever again.

And then the epiphany comes.  Christ Precious.  “Is Christ precious to you?”  It’s more than saying you love Him.  It’s more than calling him Lord.  It’s a fact that you would lose all, watch everything crumble, but there is no companion, no possession worth anything more than Christ.

On bended knee the cry escapes my lips, “Take it all, you’ve taken it all, and you are precious. With this and no more I crave, not one thing can be added, and I will say you are most precious to me.

You shout, “Yes, He is more precious, nothing else matters, if all I have is this moment, it is enough, because He is most precious.”

He is most precious, and with His arms of grace about you, you fall asleep.  It is lifted.

Thank God for healing of mind, body and soul.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

I’m still the not biggest fan of Christmas, I believe in getting help, and sunlight and Son Light both do wonders.

it’s time for a little Fred

December 22, 2014

churtch

Fred, the wild man

Our Sunday evening church service had just ended and the church office phone was ringing. I picked up the phone and heard a man say; “You a preacher, and are you any good?” My response was yes, but it depends on whom you talk to if you want to find out if I’m any good. “I like a man with a sense of humor,” he says. “Let me tell you what’s happening. I down at the city hospital and my old lady is sitting her next to me with a shotgun ducted tapped in her mouth. I want to know what you’re going to do about that PREACHER, he shouted.” Well I could call the cops,” I said. “Then she’d be dead” the voice replied. “I could come down there and talk to you, would you like that?” “Here’s what I want you to do, I need to be committed, and can you get me committed?” “Yes I can, I can have you committed tonight.” “Well there is one more thing, I’m afraid that they’ll give me electric shock, I don’t want that happening, will you commit me and spend the night with me in the hospital and make sure they won’t give me electric shock?”

To say that a million things are rushing through my mind is an over statement. My wife can’t get home with the kids because we came in one car. The kids have school tomorrow, she hates driving home at night, and we live 22 miles away from the church because we live closer to the Seminary than the church. A man has called and said there’s a gun in his wife’s mouth and oh, yeah the voices in his head are yelling pull the trigger. Not your typical end of a church service.

“Fred, I know this is asking a lot but can you hold on for a half an hour so I can make arrangements for my wife and kids to spend the night here in town?” “You promise me your coming, your not jerking me around or nothing, because these voices are telling me to kill the wife and when the cops come, go out shooting.” “That’s not a good idea Fred; I can’t do anything for you if you kill yourself.” “I’ll wait” click, dead goes the phone.

I quickly make arrangements for my wife and kids to spend the night at a church member’s house with the understanding that I would be at the hospital. In the morning I would get there early, take the kids to school, get my wife home and then get to class.

It’s now 11pm as I pull into the hospital. There’s a beat up old station wagon, the dome light comes on as I pull up about 50 feet away from the car. “Come on over pastor, and see what you’re getting yourself into.” I’m walking towards the car and praying, God don’t let me get killed and spare the woman, I probably said that about 200 times in 50 feet. As I come up to the car Fred says, “go over on my wife’s side so you can get a good look.” I said no, I want to be by you because you’re the one that said you wanted my help. He just smiled, (there was going to be a lot of smiles throughout the night) “so you’re no dummy heh, figure if you’re over there and I blow her head off you might get it to. Stay over here and maybe your safe.”

No, I’m over here because that way you can hand me the shotgun butt first, we are not going to do a thing unless you give full co-operation. One thing you need to learn about me Fred is that I’ll go a long way to help you, but screw with me and you’ll wish you never me.”  “Suppose I don’t want to?” he replies. “This isn’t a contest, we either become best friends and hold each others hand an we solve all the problems or I walk, go to a phone booth and call the cops and hope they shoot you.” Another one of those smiles. “Ok,” he rips off the duck tape and starts to hand me the shotgun when he stops and smiles, with the barrel only inches from her head he tells her to unbutton her blouse and for her to show me her breasts. “Fred that’s nothing I need to see,” again the smile. “Oh yes you do, you need to see how **************(a full minute of cursing) while screaming at her, show him your breasts. She complies and quickly unbuttons her shirt, her breast are bruised and strangely marked, and it takes me a while to understand the strange marks on her breasts. I see that the nipple on her left breast is gone it dawns on me that I’m looking at bite marks. Not the everyday kind of bites you see at a daycare, one kid biting another kid bite, but deep puncture wounds, ripping and tearing of her flesh.

Fred looks at me with huge tears moving down his face, “you see those marks, she says that I did those, I don’t remember, honest I don’t remember you have to believe me.” He begins sobbing, I take the shotgun from him and open it up, it’s a single shot H&R and its not even loaded. I open the car door on his side and take him by the arm and pull him from the car, it’s then that I notice two little kids in the back seat, looking like they’re sound asleep. Come on Fred come with me, I lean him over the hood of the car and tell him to assume the position, he looks wildly at me and says, “you must be a cop” and starts to swing at me. I step right into him, chest to chest and say no, I’m no cop but I am a pastor that will beat your butt right through the pavement if you don’t do exactly what I tell you to do at all times from now on, get it, good.” He leans across the hood, hands behind his head. I do everything but a cavity search. “Ok, stand up and be a good boy,” I say.

Mrs. S*******, are you all right to drive home?” “Yes I am, are you really going to stay with Fred tonight?” “Yes ma’m I am, go home and take care of your self, see a doctor tomorrow and I’ll call you.”  She slides into the drivers seat and starts the car, Fred stands up and she just drives off. I realize it’s almost midnight and I’m in a semi dark parking lot with a man that out weighs me by 50 lbs, and I’m no spring chicken and he’s at least a foot taller than me, and there’s that smile again. He’s dressed in bib overalls and sandals, with nothing on under the bibs. (This was his standard method of dress for as long as I know him) “Well pastor it looks like it just you and me.” “And Jesus,” I said, now I have to be honest, I’m not sure that was a statement of faith or I just wanted him to know that there was a witness if they didn’t find my body.

We walked into the emergency room and I told them that my friend wanted to be admitted to the mental ward and that I would be staying with him. We filled out all the paper work and waited. While we waited Fred held my hand like a little boy and sat as close to me as possible while he kept repeating; “ your not going to leave me are you, you promised you know, your not going to let them give me electric shock, you promised, you promised.” I kept telling him I would spend the night with him and he would not get electric shock.

Fred, why are you so worried about electric shock” “I’ve had it before, I hear someone screaming but I don’t think it’s me. My brain itches and writhes, I can feel it crawling inside my head I don’t ever want to go through that again.” He starts singing Jesus loves me and starts rocking back and forth, every time a nurse or doctor approaches us he just stops moving, I think he’s even holding his breath until they pass.

Finally they admit him, and as promised I spend the night with him, with no misadventures. He’s asleep in the bed and I’m passed out in a chair.

The next day after leaving for a couple of hours to take of family matters I’m back at the hospital. Fred is doing ok and has agreed to 90-day stay. They will not be doing electric shock and I’ve worked it out with the women’s prayer group at church that he will get a visit everyday. The emphasis will be on praying for him to have good nights sleep. As no one, including myself will be spending the night. He has to believe God will keep him safe without a hostage.

After about 3-4 weeks Fred and I are having a long visit in the day room and it’s time to take his medication. The orderly hands him the little paper cup with his pills in it. He takes the pills with a little glass of water. The orderly leaves and Fred gets up and spits the pills into his hand. He then walks over next to two coffee makers, one is labeled staff and the other one is labeled patient. He lifts the lid to the staff pot and drops in his pills. “Fred, what in the sam hill are you doing?” Again the same smile and says “the staff needs medication as much as I do, I’m just doing them a favor, trying to make their day go a little better.”

Ninety days later they release Fred into the church’s care. We have found him a small cabin to live in that is owned by a veterinarian that attends our church. Fred will live there and work there for room and board. The vet will bring him to all church services including men’s retreats and prayer meetings. He never misses a meeting, still wears bib overalls, this time with under clothes and a shirt, still only sandals. He always sits on the second row, first section and cries the whole time we sing hymns. When church is over he stands behind me in the foyer watching me shake peoples’ hands as they leave. About every 10th person that goes by he has to say, “this is my pastor, he slept with me in the hospital and I’m always going to watch his back.”

We never had a bit of trouble with Fred; he always took his medicine, even after the long debates about him going to the altar and being healed and not needing his medicine. I would always say, “Fred, when God tells me your healed I’ll tell you, and then you can stop taking your medicine.” Again the smile and his same reply, “whatever you say Pastor, you’re the boss.”

Fred showed such childlike faith, simple devotion and full obedience. He was struck by a car one snowy night walking to a grocery store and died. As long as I was the pastor at that church I missed him standing behind me knowing he would tell someone that I was his favorite pastor because he knew I loved him and never shooed him away. At church afterglows it was like having a personal butler, he would never let me get my own plate and drink; he always had to do it. He threw a fit one-day because I was shoveling the church sidewalk one day and he chewed out a deacon royally because Fred felt that I could use my time better and didn’t the deacon’s know better. I miss the feeling that Fred was always “watching my back.”

Sure I counseled Fred and sought to understand his problems. But I truly think that he needed acceptance more than anything and as long as he felt that he was always obedient. A great lesson, it’s not the counseling, or the counselor it’s the love we share. Christ can do so much more through us when we truly love our neighbors.

I, starting right with the phone call, made Ten million mistakes. Would I do things different today? Certainly, which is why the phone won’t ring. I’m to cautious, to old, to much an old fuddy. Back then I really thought I was invincible, I could give as good as I got. Now that the body is older, and I’m a little older and hopefully wiser I would certainly handle things different. Sadly, Fred may have been a casualty and not a victory. God blesses fools, whether they are the pastor or the patient.

I’ve told this story before, but since it happened around Christmas I was thinking about it again. 2014 is almost over there has been victories and many failures, I’m more cautious than ever before, maybe not quite as brave, my best friend’s favorite saying is; “stud up and fight.” I don’t take punches as well as I used to, you may have good insurance but it pays to be wise.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com