I really can change (part two)

Because each person is unique, God’s formative process is unique for each. And though the Spirit of God is the One who transforms souls, each individual has personal responsibility in the process. Many spiritual disciplines can contribute, yet God is primarily concerned with transforming the whole person, not just patterns of behavior. For this reason, no one method (be it a traditional spiritual discipline or another method) is the single critical component.

To understand our need for transformation, we must understand who we are currently, both as individuals and as members of the body of Christ. Who we are has undoubtedly been shaped by our past. Therefore, we explore various aspects of our identity, such as our heritage and temperament. What do these tell us about who we are and what we value? The interaction during this study bonds us and builds trust among us. Our goal is not to analyze, criticize, or control each other, but it is to grow and affirm what God is doing in and through one another.

In Identity, we ultimately want group members to see themselves in light of their identity in Christ. However, many of the values we actually live out stem from such influences as temperament, family background, and culture. Not all of those values are contrary to our new identity in Christ. For example, the value one person places on honesty, which he learned from his parents, is affirmed by his identity in Christ.

It can take a long time––more than a lifetime allows––for the Spirit of God to transform our values to line up with our new identity in Christ. We cooperate with the Spirit when we reflect on what our values are and how well they line up with our identity in Christ as described in Scripture.

One of the most significant characteristics of our identity in Christ is that we are now part of the body of Christ. The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation.

(I want to say this to all the door kickers, snake eaters, LEO’s and others, in the call of duty you may have “seen the elephant,” combat, war, taking a life. It is never an easy thing to live with. Isolation and “manning-up” doing it solo, is not the answer. Find a support group, talk it out, find other veteran’s, retired cops, talk it out). And Jesus love even you.

In order to experience intimate community in the biblical sense, we must learn to reveal ourselves to others. We need to honestly, freely, and thoughtfully tell our stories. Our modern culture makes it easy for people to live isolated and anonymous lives. Because we and others move frequently, we may feel it’s not worth the effort to be vulnerable in shortlived relationships. However, we desperately need to keep intentionally investing in significant relationships.

Real involvement in others’ lives requires more than what the term fellowship has too often come to mean. Real involvement includes holding certain values in common and practicing a lifestyle we believe is noble, while appreciating that this lifestyle doesn’t make us perfect. Rather, this lifestyle is a commitment to let God continue to spiritually form us.

Share your stories, the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t get a good reaction when you’re candid, find another group, talk to the pastor, your counselor, mentor, sober companion. But you will only find healing in the community of others who have made it through and out the other side. And it is a continuous daily struggle and renewal. One time isn’t enough, it’s not ‘one and done’ it takes being will to share.

Well that’s it for today.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

I REALLY CAN CHANGE

January 16, 2018

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of spiritual growth? Some picture a solitary individual meditating or praying. While that concept accurately portrays one aspect of Christian spirituality, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The issue of spiritual transformation is not new in the Christian faith. It has been a primary issue, though perhaps given different labels, throughout church history. From the time the Spirit of God descended upon the believers in Jerusalem, God has been transforming the souls of individual believers in the context of local Christian communities.

Preaching has never been and never will be the only element needed for the transformation of Christians into Christ’s image. Nor are small-group Bible studies, personal Bible study, Sunday school classes, or even one-on one discipleship sufficient for growing Christians when they focus solely on communicating biblical information. Transformation of the believer’s inner and outer life must take place as well transformation of the intellect.  “As a man thinketh.”

What do you think about the most each day?

That is the true measure of where you are in your Christian growth.

So think on that.

Let’s begin with some basic concepts of what brings change in our lives.

There is the fellowship model which focuses on corporate prayer for one another, growth of interpersonal intimacy, and support for each other in times of need. This approach effectively connects believers within a church body.

Spiritual disciplines include communal elements (worship, service, and fellowship). Folks need a venue of private, public and personal development.

Dealing with those internal obstacles (habitual sins, addictions, temperament issues, traumas, abuse) that prevent spiritual growth. Dealing with the issues is a key component in spiritual transformation, often done through spiritual counseling.

The fellowship model can fail to guide believers toward growth. The spiritual disciplines model can neglect to emphasize authentic and intimate Christian community, which is necessary for growth. The counseling model can fail to value the role that spiritual disciplines can have in growth. It also risks focusing on deficiencies so much that the person never benefits from the resources of God’s grace. It can focus too intently upon the person’s sin and failure and not enough on God’s enabling power toward growth in holiness.

Authentic community in which people come to trust each other. Though one-on-one relationships can be effective, we believe that multiple relationships are more effective. While one individual can spur another toward growth, that one individual has limited gifts and abilities. Also, though we value the spiritual disciplines, we see them as means toward the end of complete transformation of the believer’s inner and outer life. Disciplines aren’t ends in themselves. Finally, we think believers need to seek greater understanding of sin’s dynamic in their lives. They need to see potential blind spots or obstacles to their spiritual well-being and learn to deal with the root issues beneath their areas of struggle.

Next up; how to make real growth and changes in our lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE CROSS

January 15, 2018

The Cross of Jesus Christ exposes me before the eyes of other people, informing them of the depth of my depravity. If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved. But when I stand at the foot of the Cross and am seen by others under the light of that Cross, I am left uncomfortably exposed before their eyes. Indeed, the most humiliating gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha’s hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations. With the worst facts about me thus exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling that I truly have nothing left to hide.

Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?) And the more open I am in confessing my sins to fellow-Christians, the more I enjoy the healing of the Lord in response to their grace -filled counsel and prayers.  Experiencing richer levels of Christ’s love in companionship with such saints, I give thanks for the gospel’s role in forcing my hand toward self-disclosure and the freedom that follows.

Scriptures used for the above conclusions, (our action plan, to read and know the scripture, to practice and believe and apply them to our thinking).

 Golgotha was the place where Jesus was crucified. John 19.” … and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. (18) There they crucified Him . . . . ” James 5:16. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. . . . .” Ephesians 3. “( 14) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, . . . (17) . . . that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend Ephesians 1:4. “. . . He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” (NKJV)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Praise report from Olivia, her health has been really good now for over a year, she’s gone from bedridden most days for weeks at a time to healthy productive, happy and married. God bless

 

God created the inside you

January 13, 2018

Moses was the most famously reluctant public speaker in history. When God called him to be the Israelites’ spokesman before Pharaoh, Moses protested that he wasn’t a good fit for the job because he had “never been eloquent” and was “slow of speech and tongue” (Ex 4:10).

 In Exodus 6:12 we find him once again making excuses for his lack of ability: “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” The more literal translation is, “My lips are uncircumcised.” Moses was not saying he had a speech impediment (“faltering lips”), but rather that he was “not ready for public speaking,” using the metaphorical language of circumcision. More precisely, he was claiming he didn’t have the temperament necessary to be the voice of the Israelites.

 Temperament is the combination of mental, physical and emotional traits that make up our natural predisposition. Like Moses, we all have natural abilities and inclinations that can affect how we respond to God’s calling. We might even, like Moses, use our temperament as an excuse to avoid following where God is leading.

 Because temperament can affect our obedience, both positively and negatively, it’s an area worth considering in more detail. Here are four key truths to keep in mind:

  1. Temperament is part of God’s design—For all of history, humans have attempted to understand and explain our natural dispositions. The Greco-Roman world identified four temperaments (sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic), thought to correspond with the four distinct bodily fluids (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood). Today, psychologists tend to rely on personality tests rather than body fluids when identifying temperaments.

 While some terms used to describe temperament (e.g., introversion and extroversion) can serve as helpful classifications  we don’t have to fully subscribe to any particular theory of temperament to recognize that temperaments and personality types are part of God’s design.

  1. Temperament is not a sin, though it can be affected by sin—As with everything else in creation, sin has tainted our dispositions and proclivities. But our unique temperament is amoral and not necessarily sinful. “Some people are ‘cold’ by temperament,” said C. S. Lewis, “that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is a sin; and it does not cut them out from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning charity.”

  1. Temperament is not who you are—“Your temperament reveals the values that you most naturally hold. “They were given to you (like your body, talents, and intelligence were given to you) to be stewarded for a purpose.”

  1. When, like Moses, we define ourselves by our temperament, we can forget they were given by God to be stewarded for his purposes. This can lead, to pride or insecurity: “Both pride and insecurity begin to use God’s gift as a reason why we are the exception to God’s rules.”

  1. Temperament must be tempered by obedience—Our natural dispositions might make some spiritual disciplines easier and others more difficult. For example, the person who is “cold by temperament” might find it difficult to generate the emotions of charity. But that doesn’t negate the requirement to love our neighbor. It also doesn’t require that we manufacture emotions we don’t feel. “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did,” adds Lewis. “As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

  Moses often attempted to convince his Creator he didn’t have the temperament necessary to carry out the tasks required of him. But despite his frequent grumbling and protestations, Moses obeyed God. In this he can serve as a model for how we, too, can set aside our natural inclinations when they conflict with the requirements of obedience.

Remember that God created you and your temperament.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

SLOW AND STEADY

January 12, 2018

Slow and steady

  “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; fret not thyself” (Ps. 37:7).

  Our Father moves on the basis of His finished work, therefore hurry is not a factor with Him nor should it be with us. We are to ‘walk in the Spirit,’ and the blessed Holy Spirit will see to it that we obtain all that our Father has for us, step by step. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in His way” (Ps. 37:23). Don’t be discouraged—Enoch walked with God for three hundred years before he was translated!

We cannot become spiritual all at once; we must be content to begin as babes. Spiritual maturity and strength do not come by effort but by growth; and growth is the result of being nourished by proper food. But if we do not grow by effort it is important to remember that we do not grow without exercise.

  “God begins by giving our hearts a sense of the blessedness of the grace in which He has called us, that we may be awakened and enhungered to pursue the knowledge of all this with purpose of heart and prayerful study.

 Whatever we do accurately must take time and collectedness of mind, and there is no accuracy in all the world like keeping company with God, and yet nothing so free from bondage or tediousness. By going slow with the Lord we accomplish more than by going with a rush, because what we do is done so much better and does not have to be undone. It is done in a better spirit, with deeper motives, and bears fruit far out in the future, when all mushroom performances have been dissipated forever.

  “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Ps. 37:4).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

RESOLVE

January 11, 2018

RESOLVE

R=reach the lost

E=edify the saints

S=study the word

O=obey His commandments

L=live for eternity

V=visualize the future

E=expect great things

You may have seen this acrostic before, but this is the first time for me (I think).

There is a basic and yet often overlooked principle: a leader cannot deal with problems that he is not aware of. Sometimes he cannot deal with problems even when he is aware of them, of course. But without exception, it is impossible to deal with problems when you do not know about them.

To resolve conflicts or problems biblically, go directly to the person responsible and talk about the problem. If someone comes to you with a complaint, ask if he has talked to one of the pastors or elders. If not, direct him to do so before he talks to anyone else. Many misunderstandings can be resolved at this level without causing larger problems in the church.

It’s easy to get angry but then to cool off and do nothing. After all, it is difficult and uncomfortable to confront those who are causing a problem. It is especially difficult to confront those who happen to be rich and powerful.

I had a young pastor travel all the way across the U.S. to ask me how to solve a problem. He was pastoring a very rich congregation, every one was at least a millionaire. Everytime there was a problem they tried money first. When he complained they bought him a Cadillac. They wanted to have coffee during the service, they bought fine china and some waiters to serve. Then they bought him a bigger house. My advice to him was to resign. He had already quit leading.

It doesn’t matter what job you’re in, but if you are the leader you’re going to get shot, wounded and hurt, attacked and smeared. How you respond is the mark of what kind of leader you are going to be.

Many Christian leaders fall into the trap of thinking that their position gives them certain rights and power. We should follow the example of the Lord Jesus, who laid aside His rights to take on the form of a servant and be obedient even to death on a cross. Pastors can never (or should never) be dictators. But church is also not a democracy. A two headed goat is never going to go anywhere.

Leaders need to hold people accountable to their promises before God and others. If there has been marital unfaithfulness or financial misdeeds, the guilty party needs to reestablish trust. The only way to do that is through very close accountability.

Thus to resolve conflicts biblically, people must air complaints to the proper authorities. Leaders must deal with those complaints in a biblical manner.

Sadly, when leaders confront people with wrongdoing, all too often the people either react with anger and defensiveness, or they just move on to another church or drop out of church altogether without dealing with their sin.

 From 40 years as a pastor, I can say that to see people respond readily to correction is rare! But it shouldn’t be. Hebrews 13:17 gives an exhortation that sounds strange in our day when people have no concept of being under spiritual authority: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

What a foreign concept that is today.

Someone has said that in a church quarrel, Satan remains neutral and supplies ammunition to both sides. That may not always be true, but he does like to divide God’s people by getting them to wrong one another and then not to deal biblically with problems. We must be committed to resolve conflicts God’s way. Then His work will go forward.

Pray for those in authority over you, (first admit there are people in authority over you.) and accountability breeds responsibility.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Let me tell you something very interesting. There are many, many descriptions for the Bible, but the best description that I can think of, and God’s favorite description for the Bible is the Word of God. Now, if you think about that. God, Himself, calls the Bible the Word of God. Let me just give you a few representative verses, and I could give you hundreds of them. Acts 4:31, don’t turn to these but listen to it, “And they spake the Word of God with boldness.” Romans 10 verse 17, “So faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:17, “And take the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.” Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword.” I Thessalonians 2 verse 13, “For this cause also we thank we God without ceasing, because when ye receive the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God.

Over five hundred times in the first five books of the Bible, God says, this is my Word. Over a thousand times in the prophets, God says, this is my Word. Over four thousand times in the Old Testament, the Bible is alluded to as the Word of God. Forty-four times in the New Testament it is called the Word of God. Now, wait a minute pastor, why are you, why are you saying that over and over again? I accept that the Bible is the Word of God.

If you really believe that the Bible is the Word of God, if you really believe that when the Bible speaks, that God speaks, it’s going to have some incredible implications in your heart.

Did you know that Jesus and the Bible are not identical, but they are inseparable? Did you know that God gave the same name for Jesus that he gave to his book? He calls his book the Word of God, we’ve seen that, but now write down in your margin, Revelation 19:13, it speaks of Jesus coming in power and great glory and it says this, “and he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood and his name is called the Word of God.” Now, what is the Bible called? The Word of God. What is Jesus called? The Word of God. A man and his word may be different but Christ and his word are not different. I’m not saying that Jesus and the Bible are identical, what I am saying however, is that they are inseparable.

Many folks made a New Year’s resolution to read their bibles, I pray that you keep that resolution and grow in your knowledge of God’s word.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Gwen, has the flu

Pray for Donald, he’s been battling skin cancer for more years than I can remember, he is really low in spirit right now.

Pray for Dave I, his 4th battle with prostate cancer.

Praise from Ann, she’s been sticking to her medication and not mixing alcohol into the mix and been feeling better than ever, pray her resolve stays strong.

 

wrong way

January 9, 2018

Wrong Way

We all have a testimony, we were sinners, unsaved, lost. Some of us were decent people, religious even, some of us were on the fast lane to hell.

But we all needed a savior.

I was one of the bad boys, my yearbook said most likely to be dead in 6 months. Drugs, booze, motorcycle gangs, outlaw nation, extremely violent. The Apostle Paul said there are deeds so shameful we shouldn’t talk about them. I know what some of those deeds are.

Then like Adam and Eve we try to dress up and look better, fig leaves or suit coats, or in my case a uniform. But God,,, the most powerful phrase there is, ‘BUT GOD.’

He divinely intervenes and says our attempts are futile, useless. We have to have the power of a blood bought sacrifice to really cleanse us. Right from the beginning man attempted to self-remedy, But God said, you can’t cover your sins it will take a sacrifice.

I want you to believe no matter what you have done wrong, sinful, shameful, dirty, nasty, it can’t separate you from the love of God. And trust me, God will find you.

So maybe you’re in a motel room and the hookers just left, or you’re looking for a new vein to stick in the needle, God loves you.

Maybe you’re squeaky clean, no drugs, no booze, no vices, still a virgin, honor roll kid, you haven’t pulled the trigger on someone, never woke up in the wrong town with somebody else’s clothes on. You like everyone else need a Savior, need the blood of Jesus to wash you clean.

If you’re not headed down the highway of life with God, you are headed the wrong way. And maybe this is the first time, or the millionth, God is calling, repent, accept the fact you are a sinner and accept the marvelous gift of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

It’s as simple as saying; God please save my soul, I accept your Son, Jesus Christ as my redeemer. That’s it.

Now you’re headed in the right direction.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

If you need prayer or have a prayer request send it to the email address.

If you read this devotion and accept the greatest gift, Jesus as Savior, email me and I will send you a bible.

 

walk the walk men

January 6, 2018

A MAN OF GOD IS KNOWN BY WHAT HE FOLLOWS AFTER

While the man of God is continually running from evil, he must also be running toward good. There is a sense in which, as long as we are in this body, we can never stop running. If we stop running from what is evil, it will catch us. If we stop pursuing what is righteous, it will elude us. We will never be at the point where we have finally outdistanced what is wrong, nor will we ever have fully captured what is fight. Our whole life consists of flight and pursuit.

What specifically must a man of God pursue? In 1 Timothy 6:11 Paul lists six qualities that distinguish a man of God: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. The first two are general virtues, one having to do with external behavior, the other with internal attitude and motivation.

Righteousness simply means doing right, both before God and before man. This is not the imputed righteousness we have in Christ through faith, but the practical righteousness of living according to the standards of God. When a man who claims to preach God’s word leads an ungodly, lascivious, ego-centered, materialistic life—a life that would make a black mark on a piece of coal—that man is not a man of God. A man of God pursues what is fight.

Godliness, on the other hand, refers to the spirit of holiness, of reverence and piety in the heart. This spirit is the source of fight behavior. It is living one’s life in the conscious presence of the holiness of God. This consciousness comes from devotion to the Word of God, prayer, self-denial, discipline, accountability, worship, communion, and all the other means God provides for bringing one’s heart captive to Christ. A man of God must not be so concerned for the welfare of his flock that he neglects his on spiritual health. If he falls short of God’s standard of holiness, his ministry cannot be effective. A man of God must tend his own garden and bring forth the fruit of godliness.

From these two general virtues flow the more specific ones named. The two internal virtues Paul mentions are faith and love. Faith means confident trust in God for everything, complete loyalty to Him, unwavering confidence in His power, purpose and provision. The man of God lives by trusting the sovereign God to keep His word and meet His servant’s needs. He lives in a kind of relaxed desperation: desperate because of the tremendous ramifications of the ministry, but relaxed because of his confidence in the sovereignty of God. He lives in faith.

Coupled with faith is love: agape love, beautiful, volitional, unrestricted and unrestrained. It is a love that includes everyone, God and men, Christians and non-Christians. The man of God understands the great commandment: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37–39). His love for God is so deep that it overflows into love for God’s children. He loves them enough that, when necessary, he is willing to confront them with the truth.

The other virtues named may be considered outward virtues: patience and gentleness. Patience does not mean a passive resignation, but a victorious, triumphant endurance, an unswerving loyalty to the Lord in the midst of trials. This is the endurance of the martyr who will give his life for the cause, of the shepherd who will lay down his life, if need be, for his flock, just as his Master did. The man of God endures the inevitable and constant trials of ministry, not just with resignation, but with victorious joy.

Finally, the man of God must pursue gentleness, or meekness. This is the selfless attitude of one who, though consumed with a great cause, recognizes that he makes no contribution to its success. The man of God must be humble.

Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness: if a man does not pursue these virtues, but pursues the things of the world, he cannot be a man of God.

The carnal life or the walk in the spirit life. A life long battle, although age seems to help, and drop in testosterone helps as well.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Men of God

January 4, 2018

What does it mean to be a man of God? This term is fairly common in the Old Testament, but very rare in the New Testament. In the Old Testament it is used to refer to prophets (e.g. Samuel, 1 Sam. 9:6ff.; Shemaiah, 1 Kin. 12:22; Elijah, 1 Kin. 17; 18.; Elisha, 2 Kin. 4.; Igdaliah, Jer. 35:4); writers of Scripture (e.g. Moses, Deut. 33:1; David, Neh. 12:24, 36); and angelic messengers (Judg. 13:6, 7). In all these cases, “man of God” refers to someone who is sent by God to speak for Him.

In the New Testament, “man of God” is used once to refer to Old Testament prophets (2 Pet. 1:21), once in a general sense (2 Tim. 3:16, 17), and only once specifically of an individual. This individual is Timothy. In 1 Timothy 6:11–14, Paul addresses Timothy as “you, O man of God.”

Why should Timothy be singled out as the only man in the New Testament to be called a man of God? First of all, in the tradition of the Old Testament men of God, he was one who was called by God to proclaim His word (2 Tim. 1:6). Second, Timothy had been sent by Paul through the Holy Spirit to minister in Ephesus, in a very difficult and challenging situation. Paul called Timothy “man of God” in order to remind him of the awesome responsibility he bore to safeguard the truth against the false teachers in Ephesus, and also to encourage him with the reminder that he belonged to God, and therefore God was standing with him in his trials.

Is Timothy, then, the only man of God to walk the earth since Christ? Certainly not. In 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 Paul uses the term more generally: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . . that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In its broadest application, then, the term “man of God” applies to every believer, but as in Old Testament times, it still applies particularly to those who are called to proclaim God’s word. Those who are so called in modern times must be diligent to live up to the example of Timothy and all who came before him. They must be men of God in heart and deed, not merely in name; men totally possessed by God and completely dedicated to His service.

How does one recognize a genuine man of God, or how do those who are called to be men of God live up to their calling? In 1 Timothy 6:11–14, Paul gives specific instructions to Timothy which may be taken to apply to all men of God today. There are four qualities that identify a man of God (including, to a large extent, every Christian):

    (1) A man of God is known by what he flees from.

    (2) A man of God is known by what he follows after.

    (3) A man of God is known by what he fights for.

    (4) A man of God is known by what he is faithful to.

This is an excellent practical outline for every man of God who is called to speak divine truth.

As the old hymn says, “Rise up A Men of God, be done with lessor things.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com