DO THE HARD PART

May 16, 2017

There are no secrets and there is no easy path.

Do the work, get the reward, that’s the only answer.

When we read or hear the words of Scripture, do we “pay the most careful attention” (Heb 2:1)? How often have you noticed that by the end of the week, you’ve forgotten the Bible reading you did only a few days earlier?

 Too often we attempt to build a framework for scriptural knowledge without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. To lay that groundwork check out this simple four-step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind:

  1. Choose a book of the Bible.

  2. Read it in its entirety.

  3. Repeat step #2, 20 times.

  4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

  The benefits of following this process will become obvious. By fully immersing yourself in the text, you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your understanding of each book, as well as your knowledge of the Bible as a whole.

 This method is adapted from the book How to Master the English Bible by James M. Gray, so we’ll let him explain the benefits in his own words:

  The first practical help I ever received in the mastery of the English Bible was from a layman . . . One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, “By reading the epistle to the Ephesians.” . . . He had gone into the country to spend the Sabbath with his family on one occasion, taking with him a pocket copy of Ephesians, and in the afternoon, going out into the woods and lying down under a tree, he began to read it; he read it through at a single reading, and finding his interest aroused, read it through again in the same way, and, his interest increasing, again and again. I think he added that he read it some twelve or fifteen times, “and when I arose to go into the house,” said he, “I was in possession of Ephesians, or better yet, it was in possession of me, and I had been ‘lifted up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,’ in an experimental sense in which that had not been true in me before, and will never cease to be true in me again.”

  Here are three suggestions for putting this reading plan into practice:

  1. Choose shorter books—Because you’ll be reading an entire book of the Bible and not just a chapter or two, you’ll want to choose books you feel are manageable. You might want to start with a short book that has only a few chapters that can be read several times in one sitting. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help develop the reading habit. For example, a short book like John or Jude can be read four or five times in one sitting, allowing you to finish the entire 20 readings in less than a week. And then you always have the option to work your way up to more extensive readings.

  2. Read at your normal pace—Treating the material reverently does not require reading at a slower than normal speed. Read for comprehension, ignoring the division of chapters and verses and considering each book as one coherent unit.

  3. Stick with the process—After the eighth or ninth reading you’ll hit a wall similar to what runners face in marathons. The text will become dry and lose its flavor. You’ll want to move on to the next book or abandon the program altogether. Stick with it. Persevere and you’ll discover the treasures that repeated readings can provide.

  Keep in mind that not every book will be equally rewarding. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you if during one of your readings you find 2 John a bit redundant or Jude just plain boring. The Bible tells us “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching” (2Ti 3:16–17). Keep reading, and you’ll fully understand the truth of those verses.

The good news, it’s get easier and more exciting and more rewarding.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

AAA (A DIFFERENT ROAD MAP)

Wise people have observed that we all have legitimate, God-given needs for “the 3 As”: attention, affection and affirmation. God intends for children to receive them from their parents first, laying a foundation of a healthy sense of self, then from their peers.

The Attention need is met by being there, listening, watching, engaging and interacting. Ever hear the famous line, “Daddy, watch me!”? One wise father told another whose daughter kept clamoring for him to look at her as she played in the back yard, “If you don’t watch her now, soon she’ll look for another guy to give her the attention she wants from YOU.”

The Affection need is met both physically and verbally. We all need hugs and safe touch. And most boys need the rough-housing kind of physical affection from their dads that says, “You belong in the world of males.” We need to hear the verbal affection of “I love you,” terms of endearment, and other forms of communicating love.

The Affirmation need is met by validating people’s feelings, efforts, skills and gifting. Noticing and commenting when they do things right—or even try. It communicates, “I am for you” and “I believe in you.”

Jesus received the Three As at His baptism. His Father and the Spirit showed up [attention], and the Father pronounced, “This is My beloved Son [affection] in whom I am well pleased [affirmation]” (Matt. 3:17).

Much unhealthy, dysfunctional behavior is driven by trying to get these three needs met, usually without realizing what is driving us. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder than ever to get these needs met because of two things proliferating in our culture.

First, families seem to be growing more fractured and more dysfunctional than ever before. Fatherlessness is at epidemic stage. The National Fatherhood Initiative cites the U.S. Census Bureau’s statistic that one out of three American children live in homes without their biological father.{1} Parents in the home are often stressed, overwhelmed, and so self-focused, whether on selfishness or mere survival, that many children feel like they are on their own. Plus, the people God intends to fill their children’s emotional tanks with attention, affection and affirmation—parents—are often scrambling to try to get their OWN tanks filled. So there is a sense of disconnection at home.

Second, smartphone technology has moved into the hands—and heads—of the majority of Americans. Over half of adults own smartphones, and a recent report from the Pew Research Center revealed that 78% of young people ages 12-17 now have cell phones, and nearly half of those are smartphones.{2} That means continual connection to the internet. That means billions of text messages daily, which have virtually replaced phone calls for many people, especially youth.{3} The camera on most people’s cell phone means that many people view life’s experiences, from wedding processions to grade school concerts to street fights, through a 3-to-4-inch screen held away from the body.

In short, we’re doing life through a screen.

And that screen is an additional layer of disconnection between people. Technology has created a superficial degree of counterfeit connection, and relationships are suffering. People think they’re connected to other people through their phones, but in reality they’re connected to their phones and a counterfeit kind of “life.”

God knew what He was doing when He stressed the importance of staying in connection, continually engaging with each other: I count “one anothers” in scripture.{4} He knew what He was doing when He instructed believers to make sure and keep meeting together to encourage one another (Heb. 10:24).

God put needs for the Three A’s inside us, and He intends for us to meet them through connection to other people. Please, hug somebody. Tell them they’re important and valuable. Be there for them.

And you might want to put down your phone.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

who are you?

May 5, 2017

What do you think about yourself?

Romans 2:1-5 (to start)

Waiting for his first orthodontist appointment, a 12-year-old boy was a bit nervous. He was completing a patient questionnaire and apparently had high hopes of winning the dentist’s favor. In the space marked “Hobbies” he wrote, “Swimming and flossing” (Reader’s Digest [Aug., 1994], p. 112). That humorous story reflects how we all want to portray ourselves to others as better than we really are. We all want to make a good impression!

But when we do that, we’re forgetting something important, namely, that “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). God knows the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Heb. 4:12). Someday we will stand before Him to give an account of our lives. So we must judge our sins on the thought level. And especially we must be on guard against the damnable sin of self-righteousness.

In Romans 1:18-32, Paul indicts the Gentiles (mainly) for their many sins: idolatry, sexual immorality, homosexuality, and a long list of destructive relational sins. Being a Jew and a former Pharisee, Paul knew that his fellow Jews would be sitting on the sidelines, cheering him on: “Give it to those pagan sinners, Paul!” They smugly would be thinking, “Thank God that I’m not like those awful Gentile sinners” (Luke 18:11).

So in chapter 2, Paul begins to zero in on the Jews. He does not begin directly (he doesn’t address them directly until 2:17), which has led to a lot of debate about whether he is addressing the moral Gentile or the Jew in these opening verses. It really doesn’t matter practically, but I think he is using the same indirect approach that the prophet Amos uses (Amos 1 & 2), where he begins by condemning the foreign nations around Israel. Just when the Jews are cheering him on, he moves in to hit them with their sins. (See, also, Nathan with David, 2 Sam. 12:1-7.)

From his own pharisaical background Paul knew that self-righteous people tend to justify themselves by blaming others. Self-righteousness is a very difficult sin to get people to see and condemn in themselves. But it’s a serious, damnable sin because it keeps people from seeing their need for the gospel. It believes the lie that we can be good enough in ourselves to qualify for heaven. Thus we don’t need a Savior who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. “Maybe really gross sinners need a Savior. But me? Hey, I’m a basically good person! God wouldn’t judge a good guy like me, would He?” Or, would He?

If you’re tired of hearing about God’s judgment, I’m sorry, but clearly it’s a major theme of our text. Paul refers to “the judgment of God” in 2:2, 3, and 5, plus he refers to condemning yourself (2:1) and “storing up wrath for the day of wrath” (2:5). So it’s hard to dodge Paul’s message:

If you do not repent of your self-righteous hypocrisy, you are storing up wrath for the day of judgment.

I was going to say “we” instead of “you,” but I changed it because Paul does. In chapter 1, he speaks of “they.” But in chapter 2, he directly addresses his reader as “you.” He’s going from preaching to meddling! He knows that it is easy to be blind to this deadly sin of self-righteousness, so he reaches out, grabs us by the lapels, shakes us a bit, and says, “I’m talking to you! Listen up!” He makes four points in his indictment. I’m going to follow Paul by using the more direct “you” instead of “we.”

  1. You are prone self-righteously to judge others for the very same sins that you commit (2:1).

“Therefore, you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

It is difficult to understand the connection of “therefore.” Probably it refers back to the overall theme of 1:18-32, that God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Therefore, when seemingly moral people condemn other sinners, but then it comes out that they are practicing the very same sins, it renders them without excuse before God. By practicing the same sins, Paul probably is not referring to the more outwardly flagrant sins of idolatry, sexual immorality, and homosexuality (1:24-27), which are not so common among religious people, but rather to the relational sins (1:29-31), of which we all are guilty.

Paul is pointing out how prone we all are to condemn others and justify ourselves, even though we’re guilty of the same sins that we’re condemning in others. I read about a man who was a Republican Party chairman of a county in Florida who sued a former GOP county executive committee member for defamation because he sent out a letter to state party officials accusing the chairman of having been married six times. The chairman called the charge “unconscionable,” and stated that the correct number of marriages is five. He declared, “I believe in family values” (in FlagLive [12/29/05-1/4/06]).

We need to understand that Paul isn’t condemning the act of judging others per se, in that he expects his Jewish readers to agree with him that the sins of the Gentiles (1:24-32) are wrong. The problem with judging others is when you secretly engage in the same behavior that you openly condemn. When a pastor berates sexual immorality from the pulpit, but then it comes out that he secretly looks at porn, he has condemned himself. When a politician postures himself as standing for family values, but it comes out that he snuck off to visit his mistress in South America, he has condemned himself.

Probably one of the most frequently used, but misapplied, verses in the Bible is Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” If people would keep reading, they would see that in verse 6 Jesus tells us not to give what is holy to dogs or to cast our pearls before swine. He was not talking about literal dogs and swine, but rather about people who are dogs and swine. To obey that verse, you have to judge whether a person is a dog or a swine. Then, in verse 15, Jesus warns about false prophets who come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. You have to judge carefully to conclude, “This isn’t a sheep—this is a wolf masquerading as a sheep!” The point is clear: if you don’t make correct judgments about others, you’ll be eaten by wolves! Also, Paul tells us that we are responsible to judge those in the church who profess to be believers, but who are living in sin (1 Cor. 5:9-13).

So in Romans 2:1, Paul is not saying that it is wrong to judge others. Rather, he is saying that it is wrong self-righteously to judge others, while at the same time you’re practicing the sins that you’re judging. We could come up with more, but let me give you five marks of a self-righteous hypocrite by which to evaluate yourself. (If you apply these to your spouse, then you are one!)

(1) A self-righteous hypocrite judges the sins of others while overlooking his own sins. As Jesus says (Matt. 7:5), “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Someone has defined a hypocrite as the guy who complains that there is too much sex and violence on his DVD player! (Reader’s Digest, Oct., 1991, p. 183; I changed VCR to DVD.)

(2) A self-righteous hypocrite judges others based on selective standards, not on all of God’s Word. One of the most helpful chapters for understanding the sin of self-righteousness is Jesus’ indictment of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. The Pharisees picked out certain parts of the Law and prided themselves on their obedience, but they neglected the weightier parts of the Law (Matt. 23:23). They tithed their table spices, but they neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. They invented loopholes around keeping the Law. They said that if you swore by the temple, you were not obligated to keep your word, but if you swore by the gold of the temple, you were obligated (Matt. 23:16-21).

We laugh at how stupid that sounds, but many Christians do the same thing. God’s Word tells us that God hates violence (Ps. 11:5) and that we should not even talk about immorality, impurity, or greed (Eph. 5:3). We should be innocent in what is evil (Rom. 16:19). But somehow it’s okay to fill our minds with TV shows and movies that are filled with profanity, violence, and sexual immorality. The self-righteous person picks parts of the Bible that he likes and prides himself on keeping those parts. And he condemns as “legalists” those who seek to obey all of God’s Word.

(3) A self-righteous hypocrite is more concerned about external conformity than with true, inner godliness. Jesus said (Matt. 23:28), “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” The Pharisees were concerned that they not defile themselves for the Passover by going into Pilate’s Gentile court (John 18:28) at the same time that they were seeking to crucify the innocent Lord Jesus! Self-righteous hypocrites want to keep up outward “Christian” appearances, but they don’t judge their own sins on the heart level. They put on the happy Christian face at church, but use abusive speech with their families at home.

(4) A self-righteous hypocrite is not interested in helping others grow in godliness, but only in gaining a following. Jesus said (Matt. 23:13, 15), “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in…. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” They didn’t care about the people or their hearts before God. They just wanted to gain followers so that they looked good.

(5) A self-righteous hypocrite justifies himself by comparing himself with others or by blaming others for his own sins. Jesus told the parable of the proud Pharisee who went to the temple and prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (Luke 18:11-12). He wasn’t comparing himself with God’s Word, which condemns pride. Rather, he was comparing himself with others who, in his mind, were worse than he was. In his mind, he kept some of the Law; the tax collector didn’t keep any of it. So, on the curve, he is accepted by God, while the tax collector is rejected. But, God doesn’t grade on the curve!

This is the most common problem that I encounter when couples come to me for marriage counseling. It is also the biggest hurdle for them to get over. The husband says, “I know I’m not perfect, but I work hard to provide a good living for this woman, but all I hear is griping. When I come home after a hard day’s work, I deserve some time to watch a ball game, but she harps at me about disciplining the kids or fixing something around the house.” He justifies himself and blames her.

She does the same thing: “I’m not a perfect wife, but I work hard to make a good home for him. I do all the shopping, cook the meals, do the laundry, clean the house, and take care of the kids. All I want is a little love from him. But he just comes home and ignores me and the kids. He yells at us to be quiet. He gets mad if supper isn’t ready on time. He expects me to respond to him in the bedroom and gets upset when I’m too tired.” In her mind, she’s doing the best that she can do. The marriage problems are his fault.

They are both passing judgment on one another, while each of them is doing the same things that they are blaming their spouse of doing. If each of them would stop blaming the other and justifying himself or herself, they would see dramatic improvement in their marriage. So Paul’s point is quite practical: You are prone self-righteously to judge others for the very same sins that you commit.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Joe R in your prayers, battling pneumonia which will delay his shoulder surgery.

 

Deep inside every man there is a private sanctum where dwells the mysterious essence of his being. This far-in reality is that in the man which is what it is of itself, without reference to any other part of the man’s complex nature. It is the man’s “I am,” a gift from the I AM who created him.

The deep-in human entity of which we speak is called in the Scriptures the spirit of man, (1 Cor. 2:11). As God’s self-knowledge lies in the eternal Spirit, so man’s self-knowledge is by his own spirit, and his knowledge of God is by the direct impression of the Spirit of God upon the spirit of man. The importance of all this cannot be overestimated as we think and study and pray.

From man’s standpoint the most tragic loss suffered in the Fall was the vacating of this inner sanctum by the Spirit of God. There God planned to rest and glow with moral and spiritual fire. Man by his sin forfeited this indescribably wonderful privilege and must now dwell there alone.

By the mysterious operation of the Spirit in the new birth, that which is called by Peter “the divine nature” enters the deep-in core of the believer’s heart and establishes residence there. Such a one is a true Christian, and only such.

An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.

One cause of the decline in the quality of religious experience among Christians these days is the neglect of the doctrine of the inward witness.

One distinguishing mark of those first Christians was a supernatural radiance that shined out from within them. The sun had come up in their hearts and its warmth and light made unnecessary any secondary sources of assurance. They had the inner witness. It is obvious that the average evangelical Christian today is without this radiance. Instead of the inner witness we now substitute logical conclusions drawn from texts.

The world’s own prophets, the unbelieving psychologists (those eyeless seekers who seek for a light which is not God’s light) have been forced to recognize at the bottom of religious experience this sense of something there. But better far is the sense of Someone there. It was this that filled with abiding wonder the first members of the Church of Christ. The solemn delight which those early disciples knew sprang straight from the conviction that there was One in the midst of them. How wonderful is this sense of Someone there. It makes religion invulnerable to critical attack. It secures the mind against collapse under the battering of the enemy. They who worship the God who is present may ignore the objections of unbelieving men. What they see and hear overwhelms their doubts and confirms their assurance beyond the power of argument to destroy. Nothing can take the place of the touch of God in the soul and the sense of Someone there. Where true faith is, the knowledge of God will be given as a fact of consciousness altogether apart from the conclusions of logic. The spiritual giants of old experienced God.

We are only now emerging from a long ice age during which an undue emphasis was laid upon objective truth at the expense of subjective experience.

Wise leaders should have known that the human heart cannot exist in a vacuum. If Christians are forbidden to enjoy the wine of the Spirit they will turn to the wine of the flesh for enjoyment. Our teachers took away our right to be happy in God and the human heart wreaked its terrible vengeance by going on a fleshly binge from which the evangelical Church will not soon recover, if indeed it ever does. Christ died for our hearts and the Holy Spirit wants to come and satisfy them.

One quality belonging to the Holy Spirit, of great interest and importance to every seeking heart, is penetrability. He can penetrate matter, such as the human body; He can penetrate mind; He can penetrate another spirit such as the human spirit. He can achieve complete penetration of and actual inter-mingling with the human spirit. He can invade the human heart and make room for Himself without expelling anything essentially human. The integrity of the human personality remains unimpaired. Only moral evil is forced to withdraw.

A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man’s greatest tragedy, God’s heaviest grief.

Sin has many sides and many ramifications. It is like a disease with numberless complications, any one of which can kill the patient. It is lawlessness, it is a missing of the mark, it is rebellion, it is perversion, it is transgression; but it is also waste—a frightful, tragic waste of the most precious of all treasures. The man who dies out of Christ is said to be lost, and hardly a word in the English tongue expresses his condition with greater accuracy. He has squandered a rare fortune and at the last he stands for a fleeting moment and looks around, a moral fool, a wastrel who has lost in one overwhelming and irrecoverable loss, his soul, his life, his peace, his total, mysterious personality, his dear and everlasting all.

When God infuses eternal life into the spirit of a man, the man becomes a member of a new and higher order of being.

We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as certainly as we are made for time. To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of huge proportions. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change. Yet that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory and a prophecy.

Just here the sweet relevancy of the Christian message appears. “Jesus Christ … hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” For every man it must be Christ or eternal tragedy. Out of eternity our Lord came into time to rescue his human brethren whose moral folly had made them not only fools of the passing world but slaves of sin and death as well.

What is the supreme benefaction, the gift and treasure above all others which even God can give? He gives Christ to be in our nature forever. This is God’s supreme and final gift. Not the pearly gates, not the golden streets, not heaven, not even the forgiveness of sins, although these are God’s gifts too. Not a dozen, or two dozen, or a thousand, but countless hundreds of thousands of gifts God lays before His happy people, and then bestows this supreme gift. He makes us the repository of the nature and person of the Lord Jesus. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:19–29.)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

NOT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR. TOUGH NUGGIES.

One of the most popular ideas to emerge in Christian circles is that we all need to build and maintain proper self-esteem. Dozens of best-selling Christian books are laced with this theme. It is frequently mentioned in sermons and on Christian radio shows. It is a fundamental assumption underlying most Christian counseling. For example, one well-known Christian treatment program, endorsed by top Christian leaders, states in a promotional brochure, “Part of [this program’s] success is found in the unique ability to target and resolve problems of low self-esteem. At the core of all emotional problems and addictive disorders is low self-worth. It is never the only problem; but it is so major an issue that, if not dealt with adequately, one is kept from experiencing lasting, positive results.”

An article by a Christian psychologist on the problem of pastors who commit adultery stated that one reason pastors fall into sexual sin is low self-esteem. If they would just love themselves properly, they wouldn’t have a need to find “love” from another woman. Another article asserts that low self-esteem is a major factor behind homosexual behavior. A popular Christian author even used the story of Lee Harvey Oswald to illustrate how low self-esteem led this man to shoot President Kennedy!

The question Christians need to ask is, does the Bible teach this? Does it teach that we need to build our self-esteem? Those who say yes usually support it with the verse, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). They say that you must properly love yourself in order to love your neighbor. But that is not the meaning of the verse. It assumes that we all love ourselves just fine, thank you. If we would show the same regard for others that we do in fact show for ourselves, we would be loving them as God commands. Even those who go around dumping on themselves don’t need to focus on loving themselves. Their problem is precisely that they are too self-focused. They need to consider the needs of others ahead of themselves. The mark of biblical love is self-sacrifice, not self-esteem (see Eph. 5:25).

Even in the case of a suicidal person, the problem is not that he does not love himself. Rather, he loves himself more than he loves anyone else. He is not considering what his death will do to family or friends. He is only considering himself: he is in pain and he wants out of his pain.

Consider the adulterous pastor. He was esteeming himself above everyone else. He certainly was not esteeming God or he would not have dragged His name through the mud by committing adultery. Nor was he loving and esteeming his wife, his children, or the woman he defiled. He was esteeming his “needs” above all else.

The Bible teaches that love of self is at the root of all our sins. It warns that “in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self” (2 Tim. 3:1, 2). This is followed by a list of terrible sins. You can’t find a single command in the Bible that even hints that we need to esteem and love ourselves more than we do. To the contrary, Jesus explicitly said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). Many Bible verses tell us to humble ourselves and not to think too highly of ourselves (see James 4:6-10; 1 Pet. 5:5-6; Rom. 12:3), but none tell us to focus on how wonderful or worthy we are. In fact, God operates on the principle of grace, and grace is for the unworthy, not for the worthy.

In his devotional classic, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law writes of the “monstrous and shameful nature of sin” and then asks rhetorically, “Shall we presume to take delight in our worth, we who are not worthy so much as to ask pardon for our sins without the mediation and intercession of the Son of God?” (Westminster Press, pp. 106-107).

My analysis is that most American church-goers need to grow in a sense of their unworthiness, not their supposed worthiness. They need to see what the old Puritan writers called “the exceeding sinfulness of sin.” Then perhaps we would see how much we need the Savior. Being forgiven much, we would love much.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

right thoughts

April 23, 2017

SO WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

Think of all the things that preoccupy your thoughts, how many of them are of God?

We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.

God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Only the Holy Spirit can enable a fallen man to worship God acceptably. As far as that’s concerned, only the Holy Spirit can pray acceptably; only the Holy Spirit can do anything acceptably.

Man was made to worship God. God gave man a harp and said, “Here above all the creatures that I have made and created I have given you the largest harp … you can worship Me in a manner that no other creature can.” And when he sinned man took that instrument and threw it down in the mud.

Why did Christ come? In order that He might make worshippers out of rebels. We were created to worship. Worship is the normal employment of moral beings. Worship is a moral imperative. Worship is the missing jewel in modern evangelicalism.

I want to define worship, and here is where I want to be dogmatic. Worship means “to feel in the heart.” A person that merely goes through the form and does not feel anything is not worshipping.

Worship also means to “express in some appropriate manner” what you feel. And what will be expressed? “A humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder.” It is delightful to worship God, but it is also a humbling thing.

Now what are the factors that you will find present in worship? First there is boundless confidence. You cannot worship a Being you cannot trust. Then there is admiration, that is, appreciation of the excellency of God. Fascination is another element in true worship; to be filled with moral excitement; to be captivated and charmed and entranced with who God is, and struck with astonished wonder at the inconceivable elevation and magnitude and splendor of Almighty God. Next is adoration; to love God with all the power within us; to love God with fear and wonder and yearning and awe. At times this will lead us to breathless silence.

The God of the modern evangelical rarely astonishes anybody. He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution. Never breaks over our bylaws. He’s a very well-behaved God and very denominational and very much one of us, and we ask Him to help us when we’re in trouble and look to Him to watch over us when we’re asleep. The God of the modern evangelical isn’t a God I could have much respect for. But when the Holy Ghost shows us God as He is we admire Him to the point of wonder and delight.

Worship … rises or falls with our concept of God; that is why I do not believe in these half-converted cowboys who call God the Man Upstairs. I do not think they worship at all because their concept of God is unworthy of God and unworthy of them. And if there is one terrible disease in the Church of Christ, it is that we do not see God as great as He is. We’re too familiar with God.

Worship is pure or base as the worshipper entertains high or low thoughts of God. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.

We’re here to be worshippers first and workers only second. We take a convert and immediately make a worker out of him. God never meant it to be so. God meant that a convert should learn to be a worshipper, and after that he can learn to be a worker. The work done by a worshipper will have eternity in it.

Labor that does not spring out of worship is futile and can only be wood, hay and stubble in the day that shall try every man’s works.

It is rarely that we find anyone aglow with personal love for Christ. This love as a kind of moral fragrance is ever detected upon the garments of the saints. The list of fragrant saints is long. It includes men and women of every shade of theological thought within the bounds of the orthodox Christian faith. This radiant love for Christ is to my mind the true test of catholicity, the one sure proof of membership in the church universal.

He’s not our papa, or sugar daddy, he’s not the God in the shack, he’s not a warm blanket just from the dryer, He’s THE ALMIGHTY GOD, and needs to be treated as such, especially in worship.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for those Christians that struggle with mental illness and wonder what bad thing they’ve done in their life to be so cursed, help them to remember who they are in Christ; and once they step over the threshold of heaven their mind, their thoughts will also be redeemed.

 

DIRTY TOWELS AND JESUS

April 21, 2017

DIRTY BATH TOWELS AND JESUS

WARNING ADULT THEME, MATURE DISCUSSION, PLEASE DON’T READ IF YOU ARE EASILY SEXUALLY OFFENDED.

OK, THESE ARE JUST THE FACTS, NO BITTERNESS, NO FREUDIAN SLIPS JUST SOMETHING THAT CAME TO MIND.

MY WIFE CHANGES THE BATH TOWELS TWICE A WEEK (THAT I NOTICE, IT MIGHT BE MORE). I BRING THIS UP BECAUSE FOR SOME REASON WHEN I CAME OUT OF THE SHOWER AND WAS DRYING OFF, I THOUGHT OF MY MOTHER’S WEIRD HABIT ABOUT WASHING TOWELS.

EVERY TIME YOU TOOK A BATH OR A SHOWER THE TOWELS HAD TO GO RIGHT INTO THE WASHING MACHINE AND BE IMMEDIATELY WASHED.

I ALWAYS CHALKED THIS UP TO MY MOTHER BEING A PROSTITUTE. NOT THE KIND THAT STOOD ON THE CORNER AND HAD A PIMP; BUT A RENT WHORE. SHE SLEPT WITH GUYS THAT WOULD PROVIDE THE BOOZE OR THE DRUGS OR THE RENT OR WHEN THINGS GOT BAD AND REALLY WENT TO HELL A ROOF OVER OUR HEADS.

SOME MIGHT THINK THIS WAS AN ULTIMATE SACRIFICE AS OUR FATHER HAD LEFT US HIGH AND DRY. IT JUST PISSED ME OFF. SHE PUT MY LITTLE SISTER AT RISK AND IT MADE AN ALREADY VIOLENT SON EVEN MORE VIOLENT. ESPECIALLY WHEN I WOULD TAKE AN AXE HANDLE TO SOME CLOWN TRYING TO GO INTO MY SISTER’S BEDROOM.

AND THEN I WOULD GET YELLED AT BY HER FOR RUINING THE NIGHT OR THE GUY LEAVING WITHOUT LEAVING A LITTLE CASH BEHIND.

SO HERE’S THE DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT.

MY MOTHER WAS CONSTANTLY CLEANING THE HOUSE OR HERSELF, SHE WOULD TAKE SEVERAL BATHS AFTER THE GUYS LEFT, IF SHE WASN’T PASSED OUT OR DOPED UP ON PILLS. AGAIN, I DON’T LOOK AT THIS AS THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE OF A MOTHER FOR HER CHILDREN. I WAS  14 AND ALREADY DRIVING TRACTOR TRAILERS OUT OF STATE AND MAKING GOOD MONEY. I COULDN’T GET HER TO STOP. I WOULD GET ESPECIALLY PISSED WHEN SHE SAID “THIS ONE IS GOING TO MARRY HER AND WOULD THE TWO OF US CALL HIM DAD.”

AGAIN THE DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT, COMING FROM A PENTECOSTAL BACKGROUND AND THE ARMINIAN THEOLOGY OF BACKSLIDING AND ALWAYS COMING “BACK INTO THE FOLD”. I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW LIFE CHANGING IT WAS TO REALIZE HOW GREAT THE SACRIFICE THAT GOD MADE AND THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND THE SECURITY OF A SALVATION I COULDN’T LOSE.

NO MORE 6 BATHS A DAY, NO MORE FEARING DYING IN SIN, NO MORE DIRTY TOWELS. JESUS’S BLOOD, TOTALLY CLEANING, WHOLLY, COMPLETELY SAVING.

SO, IN HEAVEN THERE’S A GIANT SUDS SAVING BATH, THAT WASHES ME WHITER THAN SNOW. IT’S QUITE AN IMAGE, THAT I HAVE TO BE COVERED IN BLOOD TO BE WHITER THAN SNOW.

JUST ONE TOWEL PLEASE

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

PLEASE NO PSYCHOANALYZING, JUST READ AND THINK.

PRAY FOR JOE R AND HIS SHOULDER

STEVE AND THE FAMILY LOSS

ROGER E. AND HIS BORDER COLLIE ANNIE PASSING

you move me

April 17, 2017

Image result for dancing man pictures

THREE STYLES OF RELATING

We must understand the principle that every man is moving (towards God or away from God). Movement defines a man’s existence. If we are not moving in a good direction, then we will move in a bad direction. Good movement, means moving through personal unhappiness toward God. Bad movement is movement aimed at nothing higher than relieving personal unhappiness. The things we just talked about, dulling the pain, being a tyrant, getting on with life, and recipe theology are all examples of bad movement – of an attempt to relieve the pain.

Because men are fundamentally relational beings, all movement will be seen most clearly in the way a man relates.

THE NEEDY MAN

The needy man knows that he needs relationships to be happy, but his is a distorted view of relationships. What he wants is for others to come through for him and meet his needs, without them requiring good movement from him. He is actually looking for happiness in people and not from God. He is expecting people to provide those pleasures we talked about earlier.

This is the man who comes home every evening and lets out a heavy sigh when he walks in the door so that the family will know how hard he has been working all day for them (That’s a lie. He is working for himself.). He wants them to take care of him but he is sending out his signal hoping that they will not expect anything from him.

This is the man who feels like a martyr because he’s married to a woman who has no interest in sex. The reality is that she doesn’t respond to him, because he is not moving toward her and so there is nothing to respond to. When she doesn’t meet his needs, he feels like a martyr and feels justified in lusting after other women or having an affair, because it is his right to have his sexual needs fulfilled and his wife isn’t meeting them.

What this man needs to do is see his bad movement—see his evil—and repent. But the needy man doesn’t see it.

King Saul is a good example. He had a need for respect. When he failed to kill all the Amalekites and their animals as God had commanded (he left the king and the cattle and sheep alive) and was caught by Samuel, he starts scrambling and says that they saved them for sacrificing to God. When Samuel says it is better to obey than to sacrifice, Saul says, I have sinned, but then immediately asks Samuel to return with him to the capitol city and stand beside him in public worship. When Samuel turns to leave, Saul grabs Samuel’s robe and it tears. Then Samuel says, that the tearing of his robe is an illustration that God is going to tear the kingdom away from Saul. Saul again says, “I have sinned,” but quickly adds, “but please honor me now before the elders and the people of Israel …” He was more concerned with appearances and keeping the respect of the people than with his sin. 1Sam 15:13-30.

THE TOUGH MAN

Shallow but stable describes this man. He has the “get on with life” attitude we discussed earlier. This is the “strong silent type” we talked about last week. He rarely talks about personal struggles and tends to quickly “resolve” whatever relational tensions he can’t avoid or dismiss. He focuses his energy on things he is good at and is unwilling, even for a moment, to entertain involving himself in something he is not good at—i.e. relationships. He wants to stay where he is comfortable. He wants to dispel the mystery.

Being tough doesn’t necessarily mean being mean or cruel. He doesn’t have to be abusive. He can be cordial all the time – and usually is. He is nice, above reproach, just emotionally uninvolved. He has lots of acquaintances, but no close friends.

He just doesn’t let himself feel anything. The needy man feels the pain, and is preoccupied with it. The tough man ignores it.

THE GODLY MAN

The godly man is sensitive, but it does not lead to self-preoccupation or complaint. He is hurt by broken relationships, but instead of demanding others to come through for him or running away, he uses the hurt to more sharply define and energize his call to move toward relationship. He is willing to sacrifice his pleasure (legitimate or illegitimate) so that he can help others. He releases other from his control and encourages them so that they are free to struggle with their loneliness and selfishness and pain. He’s been there through the struggles and has made it through to the other side—to God. He wants to help them find God too.

So, there are three styles of relating – You can be a needy man, always pulling on others to meet your needs. Or you can be the tough man and ignore your feelings and the feelings of others and focus your energy on things you are good at. Or you can be a godly man and feel your pain and the pain of others, but use it to grow personally, and then use your growth to help others grow.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Coping

April 16, 2017

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The Male Coping Mechanism (the myth) (it’s a pun)

There are many things in life which bring pleasure, such as power, influence, money, status, connections, achievement, success, possessions, food, sex, recreation, etc. All these things are good in their place, but we have a tendency to think that they are the source of happiness. They make us feel good, but they don’t bring true happiness. They do not bring contentment.

? If you are looking for happiness in money, you can never get enough. I know you’ve heard the illustration about when John D. Rockefeller was asked how much money is enough, and he answered, “Just a little more.” We can’t believe that if we were millionaires, we would want more, but if that is what we are looking to for happiness, or security then we would.

? If sex is where you are trying to find happiness, your spouse will never satisfy you.

? If power is where you are seeking to find happiness, then you can never get enough.

? If possessions are where you try to find happiness, then your house is never big enough and your car is never new enough.

? If this is where you are looking for happiness, when these things are taken away, you will be devastated.

God wants us to enjoy these things, but enjoying these things is not the reason God put us here. God has created us with a purpose. The whole Bible is summed up with two commands – Love God and Love your neighbor. And Paul sums up the whole Law with the statement – Love your Neighbor, so God’s purpose for us is to love others – to build relationships, to move into other people’s lives and help them move towards God. We will find the most joy in life when we are doing that. But relationships are messy. We talked a lot about chaos last week. Messy = chaos. Relationships = chaos. Relationships involve mystery.

We hate chaos and mystery. What we really want is certainty in life.

? It’s true in relation to our religion. We want certainty in our religion. We want everything black and white. We want to think there are knowable right answers and so we argue about points of doctrine and split churches so we can hang out with those that believe the way we do and who will reinforce our opinions making us feel certain. It is too hard for many people to recognize that God is infinite and we are finite and there are just some things we can’t understand. There are some things in the Bible that just aren’t clear.

? It’s true in the decision making process. We want to know if the decision we are about to make is the right one. We want God to show us exactly what we should do. But decisions are full of mystery. There is mystery involved in deciding who to marry, which job to take, whether to remodel our home, which car to buy, which stock to invest in, etc. Many of us are paralyzed by the process of making decisions and making a mistake. We can’t decide what to do, so we do nothing.

? It’s true in our relationships. There is no certainty in relationships. There is only mystery and chaos in relationships. People disappoint. They let us down, they hurt us… How will the person react if I do this or that? Will my wife still love me when she finds out I’m afraid of …? Why is my wife depressed? Why is my son a bully at school?

So what we try to do is find a way to eliminate the mystery. How do we eliminate or dispel mystery?

THE SEARCH FOR CERTAINTY

RECIPE THEOLOGY

Many people have a recipe theology. Recipe theology holds out the false promise of certainty. By recipe theology I mean the belief that if we can just find the right set of steps or principles, and then follow them perfectly, then they will make life work. We really like steps to follow. That’s one reason why self-help books, the promise keepers conventions and family life conferences are so popular. We usually walk away from them with a list of things to do. Some people read the books, go to the conferences and come away convicted of their sin and a new resolve to trust God more as they move through life. But others just come away from the conferences with a new set of steps to follow. Recipe theology says, “If I pick up my socks, clean the kitchen for my wife and give up Monday night football, then my marriage will be great.” When that doesn’t work, then our conclusion is that those were the wrong steps and so we go in search of another list. We never realize that what we really need to do is learn how to relate to our wives.

I think one of the best passages and most misused passages on this is Eph 5:25. It says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. I’ve heard people teach on this passage and what they get from this is that we need to sacrifice ourselves for our wives. Then they give their list of things we can do to sacrifice ourselves. But, the whole concept behind this passage is that Christ came to earth to build relationships with men. We rejected Him and killed Him. What this means to a husband is that he needs to move towards his wife to build a relationship with her. In the process, she is going to reject him, argue with him, disappoint him, not respond to him, hurt him, etc. That is where the sacrifice comes in—in being willing to be hurt in the process of moving toward his wife. The sacrifice comes in being willing to enter the chaos and mystery of relationship.

GETTING ON WITH LIFE

Another way we can try to dispel mystery is by trying to ignore the need for relationships and concluding that we might as well “get on with life.” So we run away from people and devote our energy towards manageable things, things we are good at. Often abilities surface like athletic talent, academic gift, or mechanical knack that give us a feeling of power, competence, appreciation, etc. When relationships are too confusing, too disappointing, we turn to the things that bring us those fleeting pleasures we talked about earlier. But they are fleeting, so we spend more and more time at work or buried in our hobbies, or in the garage fixing things, trying to satisfy the longing in our souls.

For example, if you are a computer programmer, I think it would be accurate to say that your job is never done, and if things are bad at home, it would be easy to always work late. You could honestly tell your wife that you are behind, because in that job, you are always behind. And to make it even more attractive, computer programming is a safe place to hide from people. A computer is just a dumb box that does exactly what you tell it. So you are in control. And when you are programming or designing a graphic or whatever, you are being creative. It appeals to and fulfills in a false way what God intended man to be.

Or maybe your solution is to go play golf or go fishing. Those activities are fun, challenging and most important, don’t require much in the way of relationships.

BE A TYRANT

Another way to try to dispel mystery is to be a tyrant. If your are overbearing and dogmatic, you can often beat others into submission where they won’t question you or you can at least keep them at a safe distance so that you don’t have to deal with the issues.

DULL THE PAIN

Others try to dispel mystery by trying to dull the pain through alcohol, pornography, etc. Of these four ways, this one is the least socially acceptable, but the other methods are just as evil and sinful.

So we find ourselves often coping by not coping. If I had a dollar for every time in counseling I heard a woman say; “if only my husband would……

God bless and have a blessed Easter, from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The right way

April 12, 2017

3 mistakes made during a confrontation

 

 

Confrontation can create many unpleasant feelings and situations: awkwardness, irritation, and hurt. However, it can achieve much more if handled correctly—improved communication, understanding, solution to a problem, respect, and trustworthiness. The key is to do your part when faced with confrontation.
Here are three things to avoid when confrontation occurs:

1. Interruption: If someone has worked up the courage to speak to you about a problem, give them the respect to finish what needs to be said. Interruption will only create more tension and frustration. Wait for your moment to speak—that way, both sides of the story will be clearly addressed.

2. Anger: It’s tempting to get angry, to feel offended, and to become defensive, especially if the person confronting you has an angry tone. You want to match it. More than that—you want to raise the stakes. Don’t do it. Stay calm and keep focused on the issue at hand. Most often, the biggest obstacle in confrontation is learning not to take the matter personally. By remaining levelheaded, you will find resolution much more quickly and easily. Using anger as a tool in confrontation can unravel a relationship—but when handled maturely, it can result an improved relationship with better trust and new levels communication.

3. Blame: You haven’t interrupted, and you’ve kept your temper in check. But are you aching for the moment you can finally say “But this isn’t my fault! [Insert excuse] is the real reason it happened!”? While you may not have been 100 percent involved in the issue at hand, were you 20 percent involved? 10 percent? Own up to your words or actions relevant to the situation, and leave it at that. The person confronting you will have a better picture of the whole situation if you’re honest and transparent.

They will also appreciate your honesty and willingness to take the brunt for an action that may not have been entirely your fault.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for those who are living with chronic pain, and how it affects them emotionally as well as physically.