John-Wayne-p15

To my brother Timothy (all young pastors);

If you want to survive in ministry you have to find a balance between a tender heart and a tough skin. Not everyone in your church is going to love you or even treat you with respect.

Some people go to your church because they were there first, you weren’t.

Some people go to your church because they like the worship leader, the youth pastor, Sunday school, their friends go there, their kids go there, it’s easy to get to.

You on the other hand hopefully go there because you believed God called you to that specific church. There are pastors that believe God called them to the ministry and where they serve is moot. Some pastors want to be there because that particular church is seen as a step up in the religious political food chain.

Some pastors were “sent” there by their denomination and they have no choice.

Just like the congregation, pastors get hurt, wounded, stepped on, betrayed, confidences broken. There are people in your church that want to seduce you. Not always with sex but sometimes with power or even bribery.

Hard to believe that what should be a community of likeminded people filled with love and forgiveness, can be pastoral cannibals’. Where you will be chewed up and spit out.

Thus you always have to believe in your calling, you are called to be faithful to the Master, he suffered and so will you. Remember the Apostle Paul and his hard life:

2 Corinthians 6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,     and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

No matter what size church I’ve pastored, I’ve always kept a secular job at least part time. One, so they couldn’t starve me out, two, so I wouldn’t forget the struggles of the secular life and its unique problems. Hand to man, heart to God.

God bless you young pastor with all the blessings and trials that make up the ministry.

Pray for Steve as he struggles to accept the wounds that the church gave him and he grows in grace and not be bitter.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

momentum

April 29, 2015

balance

In John 1:18 we read: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” In John’s Gospel we see that the invisible God is made known to the world through the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we have the expression “no one has seen God at any time” repeated in John’s Epistle. But now God is manifested to the world, not through Christ, for He has gone back to heaven and is now at the right hand of God.

 

 

Instead God is now manifested to the world through believers. How stupendous that now we must be God’s answer to man’s need to see Him! And when we love one another, His love is perfected in us. This means that God’s love to us has achieved its goal. We are never intended to be terminals of God’s blessings, but channels only.

God’s love is given to us, not that we might hoard it for ourselves, but that it might be poured out through us to others. When we do love one another in this way, that is proof that we are in Him, and He in us, and that we are partakers of His Spirit. We should pause to marvel at His dwelling in us and our dwelling in Him.

 

 

How amazing, when I look in the mirror I see someone really screwed up; forgiven, yes but still kind of screwed up. God sees us as a blessing, since I know God isn’t mentally ill, His plan must be ok and I have to learn to live with it. It’s a cliché, but God really does know best, there is no plan “B” we are it.

 

 

One of the big steps for us in our Christian walk is believing that we’ve really changed, sometimes it’s easier for other people to see it in us. Yes our hearts are filled with wickedness and it seems to almost always be at war with His Spirt, but that is why we must yearn for Heaven, when all that junk will be stripped away. That’s why we must also learn to be prevailing in pray. We must fight the devil, sin and ourselves, learn to yield to God, learn to hear His Spirit and enjoy His Holy Word and fight the good fight, whew, whoever thought being a Christian was easy is nuts.

 

 

Sometimes the best answer is just lean forward, people will mistake falling for momentum.

 

 

God bless and it is really with a heart filled with great joy for all those emails about your prayers for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Blessing and Peace.

 

 

From the dyslexic fingers of scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

free to good home

April 28, 2015

sound sleep

There’s an old song that goes, “dang me, dang me, you ought to take a rope and hang me, high from the highest tree, woman don’t you weep for me”. I don’t remember who sang that song and it’s really not important, the point is some will want to hang me for my initial comments.

I don’t write much about children, the reason is I don’t like them, as horrible as that sounds we are all entitled to our own quirks and mine is children. I don’t go to restaurants that are popular with families, if we see kids we ask the hostess to seat us as far as possible away from them. Rude children in groceries stores and department stores I usually walk up to the parents and say “I have a Taser, would you like to borrow it.”

When parents had problem kids I used to say “oh they’ll grow out of it” now I say just put them out for adoption. Having been in foster care myself and having my fair share of “bad” parents I know that parents and children come in all different flavors. So in spite of my personal hang ups about kids let’s see what the bible says about them.

  1. Children belong first to God and are his gift to us.

Ps. 127:3-5.

Ps. 127:3. Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.

  1. Children of believers belong to God and are in his covenant.

Gen. 17:7. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Acts 2:39. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.

  1. God delights in the praise and worship of children.

Ps. 8:2. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

  1. Jesus accepted the praise of children.

Matt. 21:15-16. When the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”

  1. Jesus loves little children; of such is God’s kingdom.

Matt. 19:13-15. Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

  1. David was comforted by the knowledge that his infant son went to heaven when he died, and that he would see him there.

2 Sam. 12:18-23.

2 Sam 12:23. Now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.

So don’t hate me, and don’t pray that someday I’ll like kids, but if you plan on visiting me, leave your kids at home or in a kennel.

Ps. Don’t take everything I say as always serious, maybe.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Ps. (two) what’s even funnier is someone from church just names their kid after me, poor kid

do your job

April 27, 2015

boxing

In Romans 16:17-20 Paul shares three duties that we can perform to help protect the church.

  1. Observation:In 16:17 Paul writes, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned.” We are urged, challenged, and encouraged to watch and be on the alert for those who pollute the body of Christ. The verb translated “keep your eye” is the term skopeo from which we get our English words microscope or telescope. Paul is exhorting every member of the congregation to continually scope out “dissensions and hindrances.” Our eyes must be peeled at all times so that we can identify a dangerous false teacher. This does not mean we are to go around on heresy hunts. Certain Christians tend to be self-appointed, theological watchdogs who sniff at all the saints and bark in disappointment whenever they find one who doesn’t dot his i’s and cross his t’s as he should. This is not God’s desire. Nevertheless, we must keep our eyes peeled.

  2. Confrontation:This second duty is assumed by Paul and clearly expressed elsewhere (e.g.,Titus 3:10). After observing those who cause dissensions and hindrances, it is critical to confront the offender. If the person repents you have won your brother or sister. But often erring members can be hardhearted. Nonetheless, you must not shrink back from your responsibility to confront. (We’ve already talked about Christians and judging, contrary to popular opinion we are to judge what goes on in the church and how people behave and to do so with compassion and not neglect this sacred duty).

  3. Separation:In 16:17b-18 Paul writes that we are to “turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” We too must keep away from these types of false teachers. We must be especially aware of their deceptive speech and not assume that we are incapable of being duped. We can all fall prey to false teaching. We must also be sensitive not to deemphasize doctrine. Doctrine divides, some say, so we ought not to give much concern to it, but instead focus on loving, peaceful relationships. These people forget that we do not know what a loving relationship looks like apart from how it is described by the truth of biblical doctrine. Paul does not say to avoid doctrine here; he says to avoid heretics.

Paul continues in 16:19-20: “For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” God doesn’t want us to be naive about doctrine, but He does want us to be innocent about evil. Discord in the church is almost always the work of Satan, but if believers keep troublemakers and their teaching at a distance, God will give them the victory over Satan and all his works.  We must always remember the war is over. At the cross, Christ defeated Satan and the hordes of hell and then sealed the deal with His resurrection! The victory is complete, but Satan is working like he still has a fighting chance. We must battle him by being obedient to the Lord and waiting upon Him.

God’s work IS your business.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Patty and her surgery

Pray for Roberta and her child custody battle

Pray for Alice and her dental surgery

Pray for Richard C. and his constant battle with adult children that are just plain evil.

Pray for Kim as she battles cancer

Laura Lee and her battle with cancer

And for Olivia that her doctors would be able to figure out what is causing her tremendous problems, she feels more like a guinea pig than a person

He knows my name

April 26, 2015

crown of thorns

You can learn a lot about people by what they tell you about their job. When I am first getting to know someone, I like to ask them about their work. This helps me measure their levels of stress, satisfaction, and overall health. This can be particularly enlightening when I’m talking with a small business owner. When I ask small business owners questions about their business, it can be nearly impossible to shut them up.

Even the introverted small business owner can ramble on for hours on the state of their business. Why is this so? Small business owners have great quantities of time, money, and energy invested in their work. This results in them caring a great deal about their business. So when I talk with such people, I will often ask the question, “How’s business?”

 

 

I’d like to ask you that same question, “How’s business?” This question is posed with a twist though. I’m not referring to how you make a living; I’m asking about how you make a life. Whether you know it or not, you’re responsible to conduct business. In fact, you are called to be a businessman or a businesswoman. But your business may not be what you think it is. You’ve heard it said, “It’s none of your business!” Well, in Rom 16, we see: God’s work IS your business. Paul states that you are to be about the people business, the protection business, and the praise business.

  1. We Are In The People Business (16:1-16, 21-23)

Effective ministry begins and ends with people. This section rattles off a list of twenty-eight individuals that have directly or indirectly impacted Paul. The apostle begins with a commendation in 16:1-21: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant [or “deacon”] of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.” Paul commends Phoebe who is most likely a deaconess. He requests that the church receive her with hospitality (and potential financial support) for she has been a “helper” (prostatis). This term likely means that Phoebe was a patron who gave generously to God’s work. According to tradition, she also carried Paul’s letter to Rome. Paul, therefore, wants Phoebe esteemed and treated well.

 

 

In 16:3-16 Paul moves from a commendation to a formal series of greetings: “Greet Prisca [Priscilla] and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junias [Junia], my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.”

 

 

Let me introduce you to the rest of the names in 16:21-23. (We’ll skip a paragraph for a moment.) These are some of Paul’s best friends who are in Corinth sending their greetings with Paul’s letter: “Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother.”

We have come to the end of what is the most important document ever written—the book of Romans. Yet, Paul concludes his magnificent letter by rattling off a laundry list of twenty-eight individuals, many who have names that are impossible to pronounce. Frankly, this seems like an odd way to end an epistle as high and lofty as Romans. Why does God bother to use precious space in His written revelation for greetings? There are at least four reasons:

  1. To show us that God cares about individuals and knows them by name.God loves people deeply. As Tommy Walker sings, “He Knows My Name!” Jesus Himself is the Good Shepherd of His sheep, whose “sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). If Jesus cares so much about people, we should as well. This week why not memorize the names of ten people in your church family?

  2. To demonstrate that God keeps records on His people, noting the areas in which they have given faithful service.Many of us have visited the Pearl Harbor memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, or the memorial for the 9/11 victims. We often honor people for their sacrifices by including them in earthly memorials. Well, God honors faithful people by including them in His Word, which will never pass away (Matt 5:18).

 

  1. To show us that people of all backgrounds, race, social status, and education are of equal importance to God and to His church.In this list of people Paul includes singles, married couples, widows, and widowers. He greets men and women, slaves and social elites, new Christians and mature believers, Greeks, Romans, and Jews. He has met some in prisons, many and synagogues, several in marketplaces, and a few in churches. This list depicts God’s diverse heart for His church. It depicts a taste of heaven!

  2. To highlight the importance of family affection.Paul urges the believers to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (16:16). This command is mentioned four times in his letters. However, it was not the cultural custom of the Greeks or Romans to be physically affectionate. Instead, a Roman greeting would be to clasp forearms with a stranger or friend. This is a modification of the ancient custom of handshaking, which began when a person would extend the hand to show that he was not holding a dagger. Basically, then, the handshake was a sign to declare, “I’m not going to slit your throat!” Paul’s implied expectation seems to be that believers should be more affection with one another than with those outside God’s family. Hence, most of us need to go beyond a mere handshake. I suggest a warm handclasp or an appropriate hug. By appropriate, I mean non-pressing and non-lingering hugs. In other words, get in and get out! We don’t want people walking into church and requesting the non-hugging or non-kissing section. When in doubt of what is appropriate, ask the other person’s permission (e.g., “Would it be okay if I gave you a hug?”). Most people appreciate warm expressions of affection because God’s people need love. Moreover, we must always remember that on any given Sunday there are people in our midst who are devastated by life’s trials. We need to show them Christ’s love.

There are several other interesting tidbits that are worthy of consideration:

  1. Women are mentioned prominently.More than one-third of those who are mentioned are women. It’s especially interesting that the four people (Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis) described as “working hard” (kopiao, “laboring to the point of weariness”) are women. That should come as no surprise to those of us who serve in the church. Women are typically the most faithful servants; yet, in many conservative churches we often relegate them to baking cookies and working in the nursery. Yet, women are incredibly important. Women were the last to remain at the cross and the first to greet Christ at the tomb. Thus, on the issue of women in ministry, if I have to err, I would rather error on the side of grace and liberty. When I stand before Jesus Christ, I would rather have Him say, “Keith, you misunderstood my Word and gave women more freedom to serve and lead than I intended” versus, “Keith, I blessed you with many gifted women, but you squelched their ability to serve Me.” I’ll take the former rebuke over the latter. Regardless of your understanding of women in ministry, please honor and appreciate the women in your local church. It is likely that without them, your church would not be in existence.

  2. There are several single-minded singles with a passion for Christ.In 16:14 Paul mentions Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. These men all had Greek names and were probably businessmen living in Rome and sharing the same residence. Their living quarters were evidently also used as a house church, or at least for the purposes of a fellowship group. This reminds us that singles were a part of the early church and they were highly valued. Paul was a single and was convinced that being single was a good thing (1 Cor 7). A single can fully invest his or her life in the things of God. If you are single, I urge you to invest the years that you have in the things of God. Please strive to love God and serve Him with your whole heart.

  3. There are courageous couples. Priscilla and Aquila (16:3-4) were willing to risk their necks for Paul. Andronicus and Junias served in prison with Paul (16:7). Both of these couples ministered together as dynamic duos (notice the emphasis on the word “fellow”). Their marriages were for the purpose of ministry. If you are married, is your marriage a ministry? What will you do to ensure that you and your spouse are focused on Christ and serving Him together? If you’re single, I urge you not to get married unless your future spouse will be a complement to you spiritually. If he or she doesn’t share your passion for Christ and your desire to serve Him, don’t marry that person. Continue to wait on God.

  4. There is one adoptive mother. Rufus’ mother (16:13) served as a mother to the apostle Paul. You may be a widow or a woman who is unable to have children of your own, yet that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a mother. There are many children and even adults that need a mother’s care. Please consider pouring your time, energy, and wisdom into the next generation of believers.

  5. House churches are mentioned.These churches are mentioned at least once (16:5), probably three times (16:14-15), and possibly even five times (16:10-11).32 The early church was made up of many communities that loved one another. We must also develop this kind of community today. We must focus energy on raising up small groups that can be led and hosted in various homes throughout our community. We must exercise hospitality and invite other people into our homes for times of fellowship. This is what it means to prioritize people.God’s work IS your business.

[We are to be in the people business

works

April 25, 2015

knock you down

The Bible tells me that when Christ redeemed me, He did so in order that I might now be “zealous for good works.” When God “works” in me day by day, He does so in order to produce in me the desire and the power to “work for His good pleasure.” Indeed, though I am saved by grace and not by works, I am God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that [I] would walk in them.”

 

Titus 2:14. “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

Philippians 2. “( 12) So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, . . . work out your salvation with fear and trembling; (13) for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Ephesians 2:10. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Gospel-motivated works do for the soul what food does for the body. They bring refreshment, enjoyment, blessing, and strengthening to the doer of the deeds, even more so than to the receiver. Hence, the fact that God has prepared such works for me to do becomes a part of what makes the gospel such great news to me.

Are you happy, motivated to do good works, yes we know good works don’t save us, its faith/grace for that.

However, as the book of James says; faith without works is dead. There are no zombie Christians, although to see some folks in church you’d really have to wonder about that.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Grow not weary in well doing, know that he gives rest to the weary, and remember that all you do is really for the kingdom.

not a dirty word

April 24, 2015

full custody

When I first began my apologetic (defense of the Gospel) ministry, I learned the hard way—as probably many of you did—that possessing apologetic knowledge and the ability to answer the tough questions does not qualify someone as a good apologist. It’s also necessary to engage unbelievers in such a way that they will give us a fair hearing—that they will listen, understand, and seriously consider our perspective. In this article, I’ll lay out the do’s and don’ts of good apologetics. On the “do” side are the principles of sound apologetic tactics. On the “don’t” side are the pitfalls of poor apologetics—things to avoid. Together they provide the ground rules of effective apologetic evangelism. I call these principles the ten commandments of apologetics.

RULE 1: GOSPEL FIRST, APOLOGETICS SECOND

Whenever possible, try to start a witnessing encounter with the gospel—which is what unbelievers must hear in order to be saved. It is wrong to assume that every unbeliever harbors intellectual objections to Christianity. Hence, not every witnessing situation requires an apologetic defense (or offense). If the unbeliever responds to the gospel, forget apologetics and continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Confirm the gospel by sharing your personal testimony, demonstrating the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit in your own life.

RULE 2: STAY WITH THE ESSENTIALS

Most non-Christians know little about the Bible or what Christians believe, and what they think they know is often in error. In witnessing opportunities, avoid theological subjects that will be confusing to unbelievers, such as eschatology or predestination. Likewise, avoid debatable issues, such as speaking in tongues or methods of baptism. Similarly (if you can), don’t get hung up on controversial issues, such as the age of the earth. We should never muddy the waters of good apologetics and evangelism with topics Christians may rightfully disagree about. Of course, if the unbeliever raises an issue that he or she is genuinely concerned about, we need to respond appropriately. The apostle Paul gives a good summary of the essentials in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4. In a word, they always revolve around the person and work of Jesus Christ.

RULE 3: REMEMBER YOUR GOAL

The goal of apologetics is to identify and remove obstacles that prevent a person from seriously considering Christianity as a worldview and Jesus Christ as personal Savior. The impulse for many new students of apologetics is to rush out and confront everyone you know and challenge their misbeliefs (especially family members or friends who may have tripped you up in the past). But keep in mind that often a person’s “obstacle” is not intellectual at all. It may have been a bad experience in church or with a hypocritical Christian. It may be an emotional struggle or the loss of a loved one, resulting in anger at God. Often Christian love and understanding is all that is needed.

RULE 4: THERE IS MORE LATITUDE IN APOLOGETICS THAN IN THEOLOGY

The intent of apologetics is to provide intelligent responses to what unbelievers think are insurmountable obstacles to Christianity. But apologetics is not theology. When a challenging issue arises, we are not obligated to give the definitive theological answer, or even our own personal position on the topic. We must give answers that are theologically legitimate and will bear up under biblical scrutiny. If these conditions are met, apologetic responses that avoid dogmatic theological positions are an acceptable means of lovingly removing obstacles that prevent unbelievers from seriously considering Christianity.

Two examples come to mind: the age of the earth and the eternal fate of people who never had an opportunity to hear the gospel message. Christians can disagree legitimately on both these issues, but one’s personal theological position may not be the best apologetic response. Sticking exclusively to a young-earth creation model causes some apologists to omit convincing intelligent design data because it implies an old earth. There is nothing wrong with using Big Bang cosmology or the anthropic principle when doing apologetics, regardless of the age of the earth.

Likewise, there are at least three views on the fate of people who never heard of Jesus (or lived before His incarnation). One can argue that these people are destined to eternal separation from God; or one can point out that God may judge them according to the “light” they have received and how they responded to it (i.e., general revelation); or one can explain the “middle knowledge” view espoused by William Lane Craig and others. Even if you believe the first—and many Christians do—the latter two will get you further in terms of removing this particular obstacle to belief in Jesus Christ.

RULE 5: FIND OUT THE REAL PROBLEM

Sometimes unbelievers will raise objections to Christianity that do not mirror their real concerns. Generally, they fall into one of three categories: emotional, willful, or intellectual. Emotional issues, such as anger at God or a bad experience in church, are not solved through apologetics. These people need to have personal friendships with mature, committed Christians. They need to experience Christian love and observe sincere Christian faith in action.

People who willfully reject Christianity despite our best apologetic efforts have made an intentional commitment to unbelief. Their minds are made up, and they don’t want be bothered with the facts. Normally, the best we can do in these cases is to try to maintain an ongoing friendship—and continue to pray that God will open their hearts and minds to truth.

Finally, for the person with genuine intellectual obstacles, we apply apologetics.

If we fail to identify the unbeliever’s real issue, we may never convince him or her that Christianity is true. So it’s crucial that we identify whatever the obstacle is that stands between an unbeliever and faith in Jesus Christ, and then deal with it accordingly.

RULE 6: AVOID DISTRACTIONS

Apologists encounter several varieties of distractions, but perhaps the most common (and frustrating) are from people who like to argue just for the sake of arguing, and are unwilling to examine the decisive issues critically: Who is Jesus Christ? Is salvation only through Him? Is the Bible true? These people characteristically interrupt, change the subject, wander off on ridiculous rabbit trails, or ask a question but won’t let you answer before they jump to another question.

We respond to these individuals by keeping the conversation under control. Keep them on track by constantly returning to the issue at hand. Point out that you are willing to listen to them, but they in turn must give you the same respectful attention, or there is no use continuing the discussion. Insist they let you respond to one issue before they raise another one. If they try to dominate the conversation, point out that a conversation is two-sided—or it becomes a lecture. Again, keep the conversation under control.

RULE 7: KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE (DEFENSIVE APOLOGETICS)

The Lord has charged us with the responsibility to evangelize the lost (Acts 1:8) and to defend our faith (1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 3). In order to do this, however, we must be able to do three things. First, we must understand and be able to explain orthodox biblical doctrine, especially the essentials of our faith (which revolve around the person and work of Jesus Christ). Second, we must be able to demonstrate these doctrines from Scripture—back up what we say the Bible teaches. This requires a consistent and systematic study of the Bible. And third, we must be able to defend Christian truth-claims; that is, present rational and verifiable apologetic evidences whenever necessary.

This is defensive apologetics. It entails being prepared to answer the challenges and objections unbelievers raise with regard to Christianity as a worldview.

RULE 8: KNOW WHAT UNBELIEVERS BELIEVE (OFFENSIVE APOLOGETICS)

Whereas “defensive” apologetics is defending Christianity, “offensive” apologetics is challenging the unbelievers’ beliefs. This entails two steps. On the one hand, it is crucial that we know what an unbeliever believes. An analogy can be made with missions. Before missionaries go into a foreign culture, they learn as much as they can about the culture: religious beliefs, the language, social customs, moral behaviors, religious and cultural taboos, and so on. Such insights help them to discern the best way to initiate a culturally relevant evangelistic strategy. The lesson here is to be prepared. Do your homework. Learn what you can about the religious and secular worldviews you are likely to encounter in the neighborhood, at work or school, and in social activities.

The second step is to apply an offensive apologetic tactic known as the Socratic method. It entails asking specific questions that put the burden of proof on the unbelievers; challenges them to explain and justify their position on the issue at hand (e.g., “The Bible is unreliable because it’s been translated so many times over the centuries.” “Evolution is a fact of science.” “All religions are equal; they are just different paths to the same God.”). The idea is that once unbelievers conclude for themselves that their assumptions about Christianity (or perceptions about their own worldview) cannot be substantiated, they will be more likely to consider the Christian perspective seriously.

RULE 9: DON’T BE INTIMIDATED

Most of the non-Christians we engage in apologetic discussions are friends, relatives, coworkers, fellow students, and neighbors. Few have much (if any) knowledge of the Bible or have read even a portion of it. More often than not, these critics are merely parroting what they hear in popular culture, such as the Internet, television, and in secular schools. Seldom are their challenges well-thought-out arguments. Don’t let the fear of being unable to respond adequately to challenges prevent you from engaging in apologetic discussions.

If you do encounter questions you can’t answer, or arguments you can’t refute, admit it. Our response to all challenges must be honest. Not having a response at the moment, however, is not the same as saying there is no response. Point this out. Assure the unbeliever that there is not the same as saying there is no response. Point this out. Assure the unbeliever that there is an answer to his challenge and that you will find it. This provides an opportunity to meet another time. If you won’t be seeing that person again, ask if you can get back to him or her by e- mail once you’ve found an answer. If that’s not possible, research the answer anyway. Next time you’ll have a response if the issue arises.

RULE 10: KEEP THE RIGHT ATTITUDE

Shortly after I began my apologetic ministry in the mid- eighties, two Mormon missionaries knocked on my door, and I invited them in. The discussion did not go well for them, and they asked if they could return with their “superior.” I agreed, and the four of us met about a week later. As the three were leaving the second time, one of them turned to me and said, “You know, you’re the nicest person we’ve ever talked to!”

People who know me well would chuckle if they heard this story because I have a reputation for being rather blunt and outspoken. Their flattering comment does not accurately reflect my normal behavior when engaged in, say, a lively discussion (as C. S. Lewis put it) on “a tough bit of theology.” I was being polite and respectful, as all Christians should be when sharing with unbelievers—or fellow Christians with a different perspective on that “tough bit of theology.”

The lesson here is that being discourteous or rude does not create an environment that encourages the work of the Holy Spirit. I could have gotten frustrated, then angry, then argumentative, but that would only reinforce their conviction that Christianity is in error. When unbelievers get rude and defensive with us, don’t we assume it’s because they know they’re wrong and can’t admit it?

The primary apologetic text in the Bible is 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [Greek: apologia: defense] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Unfortunately, this is as far as some Christian apologists go. They don’t apply the equally important last part of the verse—and the one that creates an atmosphere where unbelievers willingly give us a fair hearing: “But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV).

Critical thinking, persuasive reasoning, and objective facts are the tools of the trade in apologetics. And for a trained apologist, it’s not difficult to thwart arguments raised by non-Christians—even sophisticated challenges. But this does not automatically result in a conversion. We may win the argument, but the unbeliever may still remain far from Christ. Good apologetics is convincing without being aggressive or belligerent.

So how do we defend our faith with “gentleness and respect?” The apostle Paul gives us the answer in Colossians 4:5–6 and 2 Timothy 2:24–25. By following his advice, Christian apologists will seem not only interested in sharing truth but also genuinely interested in the unbeliever as a person—which we should be.

 

Defend the faith with love and knowledge.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

 

state of affairs

April 23, 2015

thinking over feeling

Does an individual have the right to put his own will above the government’s under which he lives and follow whatever course of action he thinks proper? Humanism is the philosophic basis for most civil disobedience, albeit humanism in varying degrees of altruism or selfishness. The arguments go this way: If a law is clearly unconstitutional, it must be broken in order to test or protest it. But who decides if a law is clearly unconstitutional? Is that up to each individual, or do we abide by the decisions of the courts? If someone does decide that he must break a law in order to test it, he must be prepared to pay the penalty.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that testing a law under our legal system does not require mass violations in order to bring it to a test.

Sometimes we hear advocates of civil disobedience justifying their actions on the basis that those means are only a last resort. But again, who determines when all legal means have been exhausted? This is a subjective judgment.

We are told that acts of civil disobedience are permissible as long as the participant is willing to take the punishment. This seems to be a perfectly justifiable stance except for the fact that punishment has commonly been regarded in all societies as just retribution for a crime and not a perfectly respectable choice of action open to anyone. In other words, the fact that someone is willing to take the punishment does not make his crime respectable.

The word crime brings up a point that is often overlooked by civil disobedience movements. Acts of civil disobedience are crimes. Protests may not be crimes, depending on the laws of the land and the conduct of the protestors, but violations of the law are illegal actions, however they may be justified in the minds of the violators.

For a Christian there should be no question about the basis for guiding his relationship to the government. He does not—indeed, cannot—operate on a subjective basis, nor can he espouse a humanistic ethic. It is the Bible which guides all of his conduct, and the Bible has a good deal to say by way of direct teaching and example about the matter of civil disobedience.

The Lord recognized the dual citizenship of His followers in His statement: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). He also made clear that God’s servants do not fight in order to bring in the spiritual kingdom (John 18:36), although soldiers are a legitimate part of the order of this world’s kingdoms (Luke 3:14).

Failure to make this distinction has led some to picture our Lord as a revolutionary and leader in civil disobedience. He is described by some as a serious threat to law and order or as conspiring to overthrow the established government. To be sure, our Lord was a threat to the religious establishment of His day but not to the political kingdom of Rome, and Pilate clearly recognized that (John 18:33–38).

Jesus was not an anarchist trying to overthrow Rome, nor did He spend His time protesting the political sins of Rome.

The apostles present clear guidelines about obeying government. Paul commanded believers to be submissive to the government (Rom. 13:1–7) because authority is ordained of God (v. 1; notice that nothing is said about only certain forms of government being ordained of God), resistance to government is in the final analysis resistance to God (v. 2), government generally opposes evil (v. 4), and our consciences tell us to obey (v. 5). No exceptions that would justify civil disobedience are listed.

Eight or nine years later, after having much personal involvement (including several imprisonments) with the Roman government under which he lived, Paul had not changed his mind about the teaching he had written in Romans. He said again essentially the same things: “Put them in mind to be subject [this is the same verb as in Romans 13:1] to principalities and powers [this is also the same word as in the previous passage], to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Titus 3:1). Maltreatment at the hands of the Roman government had evidently not provided Paul with sufficient existential grounds for changing his teaching (see also 1 Thess. 2:2).

About the time Paul was writing to Titus, Peter wrote a similar word on submitting to government (1 Pet. 2:13–17). The reasons he listed for obedience are that by obeying God-ordained government we show our obedience to God Himself (v. 13), that it is the will of God (v. 15), and that it is a good testimony to the unsaved (v. 15). According to Peter, obedience should extend to every ordinance and to all rulers. Again, no exceptions are made for certain types of government or the conscience of the believer. Actually the principle underlying the concept of civil disobedience is the believer’s position as servant of God (v. 16). In summary, the direct teaching of Scripture seems to require complete civil obedience on the part of Christians.

So in spite of end time prophecies, imminent zombie attacks, gun rights, voting fraud, illegal aliens or whatever they are called these days, gay rights, white power, black power, shifting global powers, you name it, we are to be good citizens, actually model citizens. Can we protest, sure, within the boundaries of the law. If there are things you don’t like about society there is still a time honored tradition, prayer. It sounds like a cliché to the uninitiated but prayer does change things; even the hearts of leaders.

If you are unhappy with the state of your nation remember one thing, you always get what you deserve in government. The corruption and ungodliness of your heads of state is reflective of how the nation honors and worships God.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Let’s not pray for revival but for reformation (hhhmmmmmm that may be our next devotion).

 a

who is he

April 22, 2015

Resurrection-Doubting-Thomas

“When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see; the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor'”
—Matthew 11:2–5

Not only does the Bible explicitly teach that Jesus is God, but Jesus Himself also has provided many convincing proofs that He indeed is divine.
First, Jesus demonstrated that He was God in human flesh by manifesting the credential of sinlessness. While the Qur’an exhorts Muhammad to seek forgiveness for his sins, the Bible exonerates Messiah, saying Jesus “had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21); and this is not a singular statement. John declares that “in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5), and Peter says Jesus “committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Jesus Himself went so far as to challenge His antagonists, asking, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46).
Yes, he is the One.
God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com
Regarding yesterday’s post about Lust, I usually don’t comment, but we received a record amount of email comments at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com. Everything to I must not be a “real” Christian, to somebody is burning me in effigy, to thank you for being so honest. To all that read and maybe responded or not, any comment is a good comment, and I have the hide of a rhino, arrows just don’t stick. And having the twisted sense of humor that I have, I enjoy the insults maybe as much as the positive feedback. It’s a lot like the billboard ads, you’re going to look no matter what.
God bless.
Continue to pray for Maureen’s mom who is dying (literally) in agony.
Pray for kim as she battles cancer.
Richard C. for depression
Little ‘j’ as he enters rehab for the third time
And for Lucy who is mentally ill and homeless, she is habitually in and out of shelters, churches and is a great con, also one of the funniest persons’ you would ever meet, what is amazing is when you pray for her she is sane, in her right mind and wonderfully blessed, and then the madness returns. She’s a PK that went bad (her words) and she wonders if God still remembers her.
Pray hard or give up, my new bumper sticker.

plain old fashion lust

April 21, 2015

binoculars

I want to answer a very practical question for Christians living in this sex‑saturated society: How can we win the war against lust and the overt sexual sin which results from lust? We’re bombarded daily with sensuality. You can’t watch TV, read a news magazine or drive past billboards without being confronted with blatantly sexual pictures and messages. We all know that as Christians, we are to avoid sexual immorality. The tough question is, How? Being a man, I’m writing as a man to men, although what I say has much application to women as well.

 

 

For years I fought a losing battle against lust. It wouldn’t be profitable for me to go into detail describing my defeats. But so that you know that I’ve been there, I will say that ever since my early teens, I have been a connoisseur of fine women. Long before the movie, “10,” came out, I had a habit of automatically checking out a woman’s anatomy and scoring her various features. For a number of years, there were very few “Playmates of the Month” whom I had not scrutinized.

I was a Christian, even a “committed” Christian and seminary student during some of that time, involved in serving the Lord. But I was defeated by lust.

 

I still lose an occasional skirmish. But by God’s grace, for many years now, I’ve been winning the war. I want to tell you how. Several things have helped me move from defeat to consistent victory.

 

Scared into holiness

I got scared straight. I knew I should be holy. Years ago I yielded my life to the Lord in accordance with Romans 12:1‑2. But that didn’t make much difference in my battle against lust. Finally I came to a point where the Lord backed me into the corner and asked pointedly, “Do you want to be a man of God or do you want to keep messing around with this sin?” Gulp! I had to make a choice to be holy.

 

Theoretically, that decision is easy. But in reality, it’s a fierce struggle, because, frankly, I enjoy looking at sexy women. Hormones start pumping when I feast my eyes on one of those gorgeous creatures. Besides, it’s a pastime I can indulge in secretly. It’s all in my head. Even in seminary professors joked about men and their sex drives, one professor even had a formula; “the first look is free, the second look is sin, so make the first look long.”

 

God used two things to show me where unchecked lust can lead, which scared me into dealing with my lust habit.

 

First, I was scared by the devastation wreaked in the life of a friend who was ruined by sexual sin. He contracted aids, lost his wife, his children and his ministry, shortly after he committed suicide. We were best friends, I thought he had it under control. Shortly after the funeral his wife called, would I please come to the house. She had found some porn on his computer, after searching the house I threw out 14 larges boxes of porn and “other things.”

A second thing the Lord used to scare me into getting serious about holiness was my responsibility as a father and pastor. Bill Gothard has a helpful diagram showing the “umbrella of protection” which God puts over people through proper channels of authority. He explains that if a father has “holes in his umbrella,” due to sin which hasn’t been dealt with, Satan can get through to those under the father’s charge.

 

As I reflected on that truth, I broke out in a cold sweat as I realized that not only my family, but the people I pastored would be vulnerable to the enemy if I didn’t clean up my act. You may not be a pastor, but if you’re a Christian, both believers and those outside the faith would be damaged if you fell into sexual sin. The gospel of Christ would be slandered. Realizing how my toleration of lust opened myself and others to spiritual harm scared me. I had to stop messing around with lust!

 

Admit my sin and weakness

The next part of the battle strategy was to call my sin what it is: Sin! It’s not just a “problem.” It is disobedience to God. I had to put away all of the rationalizations which I had been using to excuse it: “I’m just a normal, red‑blooded American man. My thought‑life isn’t any worse than any other man’s. It’s not hurting anyone. Besides, I’m faithful to my wife.” No, I’m in disobedience to God when I entertain lustful thoughts.

 

Another rationalization I often used was to think that if I fed my lust a little bit, it would satisfy my appetite so that I wouldn’t need more. But that was like pouring gasoline on a fire. A little bit of lust for me is like one drink for an alcoholic. It just makes me crave more. I had to make a commitment to be a teetotaler.

 

I’ve had to learn that I never will become invulnerable against lust. I’ve discovered that when I indulge in a particular sin, it makes me more vulnerable to temptation in that sin for the rest of my life. For example, I’ve never taken drugs. You could set a grocery bag of cocaine on my desk, and I wouldn’t have any problem throwing it away. But I know some Christians for whom that would be an incredibly strong temptation, because they have yielded to that sin. Having yielded repeatedly to the sin of lust, I have to recognize that I will never become so strong that lust will just glance off me. Whenever I get to thinking that I’ve finally conquered lust once and for all, I’m in trouble. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).

 

 

But being vulnerable to lust and yielding to it are not synonymous. I’ll never be free from the temptation, but I can be free from the sin. By constantly recognizing my weakness, I am driven to trust in the Lord, who is my strength. “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

 

Deal with my thought life

One of the convenient things about the sin of lust is that if you’re careful, nobody else knows that you do it. Just make sure you steal your wrongful glances when no one else is watching. Don’t look at the magazine rack in a store where people you know might happen by. With those precautions, you can enjoy your sin and nobody else suspects it.

 

But that’s like tolerating cracks in a dam. It’s all beneath the surface, where nobody sees it. But sooner or later, the dam will burst and cause a lot of damage. Whenever a man falls into immorality, you can know for sure that he has been tolerating the cracks of mental lust for some time before.

 

Someone has rightly said, “Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Lust must be conquered at the thought level.

 

In the context of talking about mental lust, our Lord said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matt. 5:29). Origen took this literally and castrated himself. That takes care of the sex drive, all right! But I’m not persuaded that that’s what Jesus meant! What He meant is, we need to get radical in dealing with sin! I’ve had to get radical by ruthlessly denying myself the luxury of lustful thoughts.

 

 

This means forsaking and confessing any lustful thoughts the moment they occur. Memorizing Scripture, such as 2 Corinthians 10:3‑5, which talks about “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” has helped. That way I can direct my thoughts from the lust to the Lord. I’ve had to guard what I look at in magazines, even weekly news magazines. I try to avoid reading detailed accounts of sexual scandals—even Christian sexual scandals! It’s amazing how I can remember sensual pictures or stories years later, but I have trouble remembering a verse I memorized last week.

 

 

I sometimes tear pages out of magazine I’m reading and throw them in the trash, because I can’t read the rest of the magazine without repeatedly looking at the lustful picture. I never watch TV or go to movies. I had to throw out a marriage manual because I couldn’t handle the explicit pictures.  several years ago when my office was at home, our teenaged neighbor girls, who were amply endowed by their Creator, were outside my study window in their bikinis washing their car. Between gazes out the window, I was struggling to put together a sermon. I finally got up and pulled the drapes, confessed my sin to the Lord, and was able to finish my sermon.

 

 

You may think that pulling drapes, tearing pages out of magazines, throwing away books, and avoiding TV and movies is a bit extreme. So is gouging out your eye. I have to deal radically with my thought life to win the war against lust.

 

Don’t just pray–obey!

Several years ago I heard about a pastor who had a terrible struggle against lust. He actually rewarded himself for finishing his sermon by going to a porno shop! Concerning his battle against lust, he made the statement, “I cannot tell you why a prayer that has been prayed for ten years is answered on the 1,000th request when God has met the first 999 with silence.”

 

Now wait a minute! If you think about it, this man is blaming God for his own sin: “I prayed for deliverance, but God didn’t answer. It’s His fault!” That offers no hope to the man struggling with lust: “Keep praying, friend. If you’re lucky, God will catch you before you go over the falls. But maybe not.” Some help that is!

But the Bible never says that the way to deal with lust is to pray about it. It commands me to flee (1 Cor. 6:18). It says that I should cleanse myself from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1). It commands me to walk in the Spirit so that I won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Pray, yes! But don’t just pray: Obey!

God puts the active responsibility for obedience in sexual purity on me. Somehow we’ve gotten the mixed‑up idea that actively to deny lust in obedience to the Lord involves the flesh. So we pray for deliverance and go on disobeying as if we can’t help it until that magic moment happens. But Paul never says, “Let go and let God give you victory over lust.” He says, “Run!” He says that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:11‑12). I need to do it and can do it! Otherwise, God wouldn’t command me to do it.

 

 

Part of fleeing is guarding myself in advance. I used to play games with this. I would go into a store to look at the news magazines (so I told myself). After a few minutes of doing that, I would find myself thumbing through Playboy or Penthouse, which were always conveniently nearby. (“How could I help it, Lord?”) But now I avoid stores where I could be tempted to browse through sexually explicit magazines. The man in Proverbs 7 wouldn’t have wound up in bed with the loose woman if he hadn’t first gone near the corner where she lived (see Prov. 7:8).

Now days I keep an internet blocker on my computer and an ad blocker to keep stuff out. I don’t click on links or anything else on web pages. Once a year I fill out a form at the post office saying that no pornographic material can be sent to my mail box.

 

 

Satisfy my wife

I’ve heard Christian speakers say that one way to guard against sexual sin is to be satisfied with your wife. It’s true that being sexually satisfied with her helps me not to be lured by lust for others. But I’m uncomfortable with the approach which puts the focus on my needs rather than on my responsibility.

 

 

My responsibility as a Christian husband is not to satisfy myself, but to satisfy my wife. I’ve found that my sexual satisfaction is the result of seeking to meet her needs on every level—spiritual, emotional, and physical. When I focus on that, she responds and my sexual needs are met.

 

 

A lot of men are sexually frustrated in their marriages because they approach sex to meet their own needs. Jesus’ words about seeking your life and losing it and losing your life to find it (Mark 8:35) apply to sex in marriage. If I approach my wife to satisfy my needs, neither of us feels fulfilled. But if I work at pleasing her, then I’m deeply satisfied. The best sexual times for me are when my wife is pleased.

 

 

I’ve had to tear down my sexual expectations which were built from Hollywood and Playboy and rebuild them from Scripture. The world promotes my needs above all else. It knows nothing of the self‑sacrifice which our Lord taught. Many Christians have unwittingly bought into this philosophy: “If my wife can’t meet my sexual needs, then I’ll have to meet them some other way. But my needs must be met.” But the Lord’s way is that I am to love my wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church. The blessed irony is that when I work at that, my needs are abundantly met. I can honestly say with gusto, “They have been!”

 

 

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “War is a terrible thing. But if you’re going to get into it, you’ve got to get into it all the way.” That’s true in the war against lust. You won’t win by being halfway into it. But if you’ll get into the battle all the way—God’s way, using His strategy—you can win!

 

 

Now after 40+ plus years of marriage I still have to say “be on guard” the devil never sleeps. Are there other sins I fall for, yes, way to many. I know God forgives me and loves me and I will continue to struggle, but I am never hopeless or forget his marvelous grace. One thing I’ve found besides scripture memorization is hymns. The great and glorious hymns that have stood the test of time. When tempted by anything, first I quote a scripture and then I hum or sing a great hymn.

So for all the folks out there struggling with lust, you can win.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com