Holy, Just and Good

July 26, 2017

Holy, Just and Good

  “For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace” (Rom 6:14)

  The believer’s attitude toward the law is that it is “holy…and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12). He does not belittle it by refusing to be under it; he honors it by acknowledging its fulfillment. “For I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God” (Gal. 2:19).

If I say I am under law, and stop there, I am left in spiritual anarchy. If I say I am under law and under grace, I am in the current Galatian heresy which seeks to combine law and grace. But if I say I am not under the law but under grace, I am giving a biblical and Christian testimony.

Our identification with Christ in His death places us in perfect reconciliation to a violated law. God has said, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ The believer has sinned, and has died in Christ’s death. The law has said, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ None have continued in obedience. But Christ has been ‘made a curse for us’; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.’ Hence, crucified with Christ, we have been accursed in Him. Not one jot or tittle has then passed away from the law, but all has been fulfilled.

  “If, then, when you died with Christ, you put away the childish lessons of outward things, why, as though you still lived in outward things, do you submit yourselves to decrees?” (Col. 2:20).

Remember Paul K, in prayer, the 26th he goes into the VA hospital to have a kidney removed because of cancer. This is a dear Brother in the Lord, pray for peace of mind, no fear, and the guiding hand of the Lord.

Pray for Lacy, she just found out her husband is having an affair with her sister, she is devastated. And to add insult to injury she (the sister) is pregnant. Which she did on purpose to out the husband.

Pray for Mailand, she is here from Thailand, rescued by a missions group and is applying for citizenship.

Blessings from Christ our Lord,

Housekeeping note, prayer requests, comments, and all to the email address please.

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

hard times

July 13, 2017

Kind of really going through a rough period here at the ranch, tough times, I’d like to report that I’m a shining example, a paragon of virtue, steadfastness and a sterling example of Christian maturity, but that would be a lie. I’ve had my good moments, but this week I would have to say the dark side seems to be shining a little more brightly than I’d like. So keep me in prayer that things turn around and hopefully soon.

“He comforts us in our every affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction by means of the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:4, Weymouth Translation.).

 

  It is a great comfort to know that everything our Father takes us through—much of which may be hard and heartbreaking—has a dual purpose. That which He utilizes to cause us to grow spiritually is at the same time designed to prepare us for His service. He does nothing in vain; He wastes nothing.

 

In the very service itself God makes the servant fit to carry it out. A person is first disciplined for service, and then in the service he is made fit by it for the character of it. God has not servants ready made. He makes them fit for His own service in connection with the race they have to run. The word ‘chasten’ is the same as that used in Ephesians with respect to bringing up the children: it is nurture. We attach too much the idea of severity, or retribution, to it.

 

  “Why does God take some through such deep and trying experiences? Why is it that He does not allow some of His children to have an easy way and to be satisfied and gratified with elementary things? The needs of others—that is why.

 

  “We know quite well if any have been able really to help others, it is because they have gone through deep experience, they have pioneered this way, they have paid a great price for this freedom. It has been costly, but worthwhile if others can be really helped.” GW.

 

  “But to God be the thanks who in Christ ever heads our triumphal procession, and by our hands waves in every place that sweet incense, the knowledge of Him” (2 Cor. 2:14, Weymouth Translation.).

 

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up on the emails and responses, we are in crisis mode and trying to not drop all the spinning plates. Which some folks may not be old enough to know what that means. Oh well, good thoughts y’all.

 

ouch, man that hurt

July 9, 2017

Colossians 4:6

English Standard Version (ESV)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21)

Not-so-constructive criticism. For many of us this is a tough one, because we really mean for our criticism to be constructive. We want our little comments and suggestions to motivate our loved ones and inspire them to change (for the better, of course). But too often, they only devalue.  We say we just want our loved ones to be happy. But how can they be, when what they hear from us is that they are unacceptable and unlovable the way they are now? They get the message that they’re a disappointment to us; they’ve let us down.

It’s been said that some people find fault like there was a reward for it. I think it’s true. If we’re not careful, we can get in the habit of constantly criticizing other people, finding fault with them and tearing them down, for no good reason.

Truth not spoken in love. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it’s always loving or helpful to say it. This includes bludgeoning others with Scripture in a misguided attempt to set them straight. The family of a woman I know once found itself facing one crisis after another: loss of a job, death of an elderly parent, adult daughter attempting suicide, and adult son going through a divorce. To top it all off, she and her husband both came down with bronchitis.

When, for the first time in five weeks, they were finally able to attend church, they slipped into the pew exhausted and desperate for some spiritual nourishment. Within minutes they were accosted by a woman, barely more than an acquaintance, determined to take them to task for their recent absence. “I’ve noticed you haven’t been coming to church lately,” she began. “The Bible says we’re not supposed to ‘give up meeting together.’ We’re all busy, but we have to make it a priority. You need to make a commitment to be here.” She added, “I’m just telling you this because we’re supposed to ‘speak the truth in love.’” Seriously? There was no love behind her words. She was just being a busy-body. Love would have said, “It’s so good to see you. We’ve missed you. How have you been?” And later, “How can we help?”

“Humor” that gets out of hand. We were just teasing. Having a little fun. Then it got out of hand. Sarcasm has a place, for sure; it serves a purpose. It can be an effective tool to highlight hypocrisy and humble the proud and arrogant. (God uses a fair amount of it Himself.) But it’s not meant to be used to constantly ridicule and rip to shreds people we claim we love. Even when our quips are clearly intended to be funny, even when they’re accompanied by laughter, a daily barrage of snarky asides can be brutal to another person’s self-esteem. Even those of us who regularly enjoy a little “witty repartee” have to admit how quickly “cute” and “clever” can grow old.

Add a little sarcasm to a compliment and you can steal all the pride and joy, the enthusiasm, and the sense of accomplishment right out of someone else’s heart. “Wow! You cleaned your room for once. Too bad it doesn’t look this good every day.” Or, “Your teacher says you’re so organized and disciplined at school—wish you could be that way at home!” A favorite excuse: “We’re not laughing at you; we’re laughing with you.” Really?

The silent treatment. Strangely enough, one of the ways we wound with our words is to withhold them! When we refuse to communicate, when we won’t say what it is we’re upset about or what people have done wrong, we shut them out. We fill their hearts with anxiety and frustration and even dread. We make them feel isolated and rejected—without saying a single word. And that is after all, what the silent treatment is for. Not to be confused with taking time out or having a cooling off period, the silent treatment is all about manipulation and control. It’s a form of punishment or revenge that somehow feels more righteous than an angry outburst. But throwing this kind of tantrum is not the mark of an emotionally healthy, spiritually mature woman. It certainly isn’t biblical (see Matthew 18:15-17).

These are just a few of the weapons at our disposal; they go on and on.

So speak in love, be careful what you say and think before you speak.

I always stop at stop signs and say one Alabama, two Alabama, after getting stopped by the police for rolling through a stop sign. If only I practiced the same way before opening my mouth.

What we say can bless or harm.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Praise report, well this is the second time in last year that someone seriously ill, and mean you can’t get any more sick has been misdiagnosed with the wrong disease, been given the wrong medicine for several years and guess what, it’s Lyme disease, no cure but there is medicine that helps tremendously. So if you’ve been told you have MS, Lou Gehrig’s or even IBS, get a second opinion and tested.

 

HOPE FOR DEPRESSION

July 8, 2017

DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

Psalm 42:5

New International Version (NIV)

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

DEPRESSION, IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE SOMETIME.

THE BIG DEAL IS DEAL WITH IT, DON’T LET IT GO( I’m not treating this lightly, nor am I dismissing it, as someone that has dealt with depression personally these are things that helped me).

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO DEAL WITH IT

1.REALIZE THAT DEPRESSION IS NOT NECESSARILY CAUSED BY SIN OR BY WRONG DOING, IT IS JUST A SYMPTOM THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG

  1. IT CAN BE CAUSED BY EXHAUSTION, ELIJAH THE PROPHET FELL INTO DEPRESSION AFTER A GREAT SPIRITUAL BATTLE 1 KINGS 19:4; IT IS NOT UNUSUAL TO ACCOMPLISH A GOAL AND THEN FALL INTO DEPRESSION, SO REST AND EXERCISE.

3.VENT YOUR ANXIETIES IN PRAYER, BE HONEST WITH GOD AND TELL HIM HOW YOU REALLY FEEL, RELAX HE CAN TAKE IT. ONCE I WAS SO MAD AT “THINGS” I WAS THROWING ROCKS AT HIM. (HE DIDN’T STRIKE ME DEAD)

  1. WORSHIP HIM, PRAISE HIM IN PRAYER, KEEP A HYMNAL WITH YOU EVERYWHERE YOU GO SO YOU CAN SING YOUR FAVORITE HYMNS. ITS HARD TO MAD OR DEPRESSED WHEN YOUR SING TO THE LORD.

5.LOOK AT OTHERS AROUND YOU, FOCUS LESS ON YOURSELF AND DOING SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE

  1. FOCUS ON SOMETHING NEW IN YOUR LIFE, GET A NEW HOBBY, REWARD YOURSELF WITH SOMETHING YOU LOVE TO DO AND HAVENT’ DONE IT IN AWHILE

  2. CALL A FRIEND, DON’T GO THROUGH IT ALONE

HEBREWS 13:5 “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU”

  1. GET COUNSELING, BIBLICAL COUNSELING, NOT SOME HACK WITH A SOCIAL DEGREE CLAIMING THEY INTEGRATED THEIR TECHNIQUES WITH THE BIBLE).

  2. STILL NOT BETTER SEE A REAL DOCTOR, NOT A CHIROPRACTOR; I KNOW PEOPLE THAT SEE A CHIROPRACTOR FOR MENSTRUAL PROBLEMS OR MIGRAINES, SEE A REAL DOCTOR, AM I DISSING CHIROPRACTORS’, YES, THEIR NOT NUTRIONALISTS, OR THEY BELONG TO THE NEWEST NATURAL PRODUCT, SOME OIL THAT YOU CAN RUB ON THE BOTTOM OF YOUR FOOT AND MAKE YOUR EARS FEEL BETTER. AND WHILE I’M AT IT, ROLFING, BALONEY, SCENTS, HYPNOSIS, HUMMING, WHISPERING, ASM, IF YOU HAVE RUN OUT OF ROPE SEEK A REAL DOCTOR.  

NEVER BELIEVE THE DEVIL OR ANYONE THAT WOULD TELL YOU GOD DOESN’T CARE.

BLESSINGS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

 

Tower of Babel

July 5, 2017

Babylon, Babel,

In Dr. James Kennedy’s book; ‘Evangelism Explosion’ he wrote one thing that is often overlooked in talking to people about Christ, especially people in cults,(although now days I would apply this rule to everyone you talk to since we are so multicultural these days).

The rule was this; you have to agree what words mean. For example you just can’t start out a conversation and ask someone “is Jesus Lord of your life” and expect an answer that is mutually understandable to both parties. An agreement has to be reached that each word in that statement has the same meaning to each party. Today when someone tells me they are a Christian, I ask them to explain what that means to them; more often than not, it doesn’t mean what I think Evangelical Christian theology means.

This also important as we talk to other believers; we need to ask them what their theology allows them to believe, so we know that we are really talking about the same thing or even if both parties know what the other party is talking about.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about; my Bachelor of Science was in new testament languages and theology (double major) from a Reformed Theological viewpoint, my masters was in theology was from a Brethren seminary, my M.Div., was in counseling psychology were I went for clinical work at a very Freudian institute but also continued at the Brethren seminary; my doctorate was in the Psychology of Counseling from an Evangelical college that was mostly Dutch Reformed.

But the whole time I am a preacher in a Pentecostal Church or working for Oral Roberts.

Sorry to make you wade through all that; the point is that I realize I speak in Pentecostalese. (that one does not make it through spell check).

So here’s the reason for this devotion, twice now for devotions we’ve talked about ‘secret sins’ and twice now in Christian dialogue with born again believers that have never had any association with Pentecost, they have never heard the term used before, and like the devotion pointed out they knew that there could not be such a thing as secret sin, as God knows all.

So I had to explain to both these mature in the Lord Brothers that the Pentecostal movement is filled with very poor theological constructs that are used to often make the church toxic, controlling and yes even cult like.

And that is one of the things that I have fought against in trying to make the movement more scripturally based and less experientially based. (good luck with that, it’s not always gladly accepted, as feel good often out sells knowledge and soundness of doctrine).

So in our conversation between interfaith believers (Christens of other denominations) let’s make sure we are using the right words to express ourselves or it will be the tower of babel between the brethren.

God bless

Drop us note at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Which includes prayer requests, questions and comments

Remember Donald Bowker in your prayers as he recovers form a car accident

Paul for his upcoming cancer surgery

   Remember Joe Rogers and his shoulder surgery

 

One morning Death was walking into a city when a man stopped him and asked what he was doing. Death answered, “I’m going into the city to kill 10,000 people.” The man replied, “That’s terrible that you would kill 10,000 people.” Death responded, “Taking people when their time has come is my job. Today I have to get my 10,000.” Later, as Death was coming out of the city, the man met him. Again, he was furious. He said, “You told me this morning that you were going to take 10,000 people, but 70,000 died today.” Death answered, “Don’t get mad at me. I only took 10,000. Worry killed all the rest.”

Worry has an uncanny knack for killing people. The poet Robert Frost (1874–1963) wrote, “The reason why worry kills more people than work is because more people worry than work.” Seriously, worry has become an American pastime. For many people, worry has become so ingrained in their personalities that once the old worries are gone they search for new ones. They’ve become dependent on worry as a lens through which to view life, and they’ve forgotten any other way to live. Is there reason to be worried today? Most people would say there is. High energy costs, a worsening economy, rogue nuclear nations, threats of terrorism, widespread job layoffs, and tension in the Middle East—all these make for uncertain times. Economic stress is taking its toll on Americans’ emotional and physical health. Surveys show that more than half of Americans report irritability, anger, fatigue, or sleeplessness. Almost half say they self-medicate by overeating or indulging in unhealthy foods. Money and the economy topped the list of stressors for at least 80 percent of those surveyed. Finances now overshadow the more typical daily stressors of work and relationships.

Fortunately, in the midst of a world of “worry-warts,” Jesus isn’t worried. Even better, He has a definitive Word for you. In Matthew 6:25–34, He says, “Don’t worry, be hopeful.” Now there are some passages in the New Testament that are difficult to interpret, but this is not one of them. Jesus uses the word “worry” six times and He says, “Don’t worry” three times. Jesus is against high anxiety and unhealthy worry. Consequently, He provides two reasons you shouldn’t worry.

  1. Worry is an exercise in futility (6:25–30). Jesus promises to meet your needs because He cares for you. He begins this section with a negative command: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on” (6:25a). The phrase “For this reason” ties back to 6:24. Jesus’ point is: If you can’t serve God and money, then you can’t worry about the material things that money can buy. The phrase “do not be worried” can be literally translated “stop worrying.” Jesus wants His followers to stop worrying over food, drink, and clothes because He will meet their basic material needs. Now, I need to put forth two disclaimers. First, don’t worry doesn’t mean don’t plan. The King James Version translates the phrase “do not be worried” as “take no thought.” This is misleading because it gives the impression that future planning is unnecessary. Over the years, many people have mistakenly assumed that this is a prohibition against career ambition, financial planning, and life insurance. But this is not what Jesus is saying. Jesus is pro-planning! He wants you to work hard and plan for your future. To do otherwise is to be foolish. Second, don’t worry doesn’t mean don’t be concerned. If you’re not concerned about your children playing near traffic, you’re a terrible parent.

 If you’re not concerned about your health, you’re a fast-food junkie. You need to have some degree of healthy concern. Otherwise you won’t meet deadlines or go in for medical checkups. The root idea of the verb “worry” (merimnao) means “to be pulled apart.” There’s a difference between concern and worry. Concern is when you can do something to help a situation, so you do what you can do. Worry is when you can’t do something, but you don’t want to leave it up to God. In other words, worry is concern gone haywire. You can spiritualize it all you want, but worry is a sin. If you are a worrying Christian, you are a sinning Christian. It doesn’t carry much weight with Jesus that He’s your first love, then you act like you can’t trust Him to look after you. Worry is a hideous sin to God because it is an indictment against Him, a slap at His love. So don’t worry, be hopeful.

Jesus now gives four reasons why you shouldn’t worry.

God will ensure your survival. Jesus says, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (6:25b) Jesus provides an argument from the greater to the lesser. Since God gave you life, He can surely sustain that life. Almost tongue-in-cheek Jesus says, “If you are going to worry, at least worry about something important, such as your life.” We worry whether we are going to have enough to eat. Jesus says we better worry about whether we are going to be alive to chew. God says, “If I’m going to wake you up tomorrow, I’m going to feed you. Now which is easier? Feeding you or waking you up? Don’t worry about breakfast tomorrow. Worry about whether your heart is going to stop tonight. Worry about whether I’m going to keep your brain working and your heart pumping. If you’re determined to worry, worry about that.” Now most of us don’t worry about stuff like that. We assume when we go to bed at night that we are going to wake up the next day.

 Jesus says, “If God has the power to keep you alive and wake you up tomorrow, then He will see to it that you have something to eat and something to wear tomorrow.” If you buy into a Creator God, you must buy into a Sustainer God—or you’re simply inconsistent. On a much smaller scale, if a jeweler gives you an expensive diamond ring as a gift, will he give you a box to put it in? Of course he will! The gift of the ring assumes a box. Similarly, if the Lord gives you life, He will take care of that life. Jesus anticipates a follow-up question: God can provide, but will He provide?

God will meet your material needs. Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (6:26) Jesus now moves from the lesser to the greater. The word translated “look” (emblepo) is a compound verb that can be translated “take a good look at.” Since humankind is created in the image of God, men and women are far more valuable to God than birds (Matt 10:31; 12:12). Birds expend energy in doing what is natural, such as building nests and collecting food for their young, yet it is actually God who feeds and clothes them (cf. Ps 104:10–16). The point is that when Jesus’ disciples are responsible to carry out the proper ways of life as ordained by God, God is faithful to carry out His responsibilities.

Our family has four bird feeders outside of our living room and dining room windows. We like to watch birds eat. Lori and the kids spent the better part of a year studying birds, after a friend gave us the book Birds of Texas. Since that time, we have identified nearly twenty birds that come and feed in our feeders. A pair of juncos come year after year to nest in one of our hanging baskets. We have observed first-hand that God provides for the birds because He loves them. At one time or another, you have likely heard from a parent, a sibling, a teacher, employer, or spouse the message, “You are unlovable.” Words like, “Can’t you do anything right?” or “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” or “What’s wrong with you anyway?” or “I’ve found someone else.” These words erode your sense of value until you start to doubt whether even God loves you. Yet, the last phrase of 6:26 demonstrates your value to God. If He cares for the birds, how much more valuable are you? Don’t worry, be hopeful.

God will grant your allotted days. Jesus says, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (6:27). Worrying may actually shorten your life. Are you worrying so much that you’re losing sleep? God stays up all night, so why should you? You’re the one who needs to sleep! There was a man who began to worry that he would get cancer. The serious disease had been prevalent in his family, so he began to worry about it. He worried about it for thirty years and then suddenly died of a heart attack. Worrying is such a waste of time. Should you be concerned about your health? Absolutely. Should you do the best you can to stay healthy? Absolutely. But after you’ve done all that you can do, don’t worry. To worry is to insult the God who has your life under control.

 The word worry comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word that means “to choke” or “to strangle.” That’s an apt description of what worry does to us. Worry won’t stretch our savings account, bring back that prodigal son or daughter, or keep cancer or senility at bay. But it will cause us to lose sleep. It will give us ulcers, high blood pressure, and headaches. It will sour our mood and distance our friends and eventually stifle our relationship with God. It not only has physical consequences, it has spiritual consequences as well.

God will cover your external appearance. Jesus says, “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if30 God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” (6:28–30) Jesus says, “Don’t be worried about what you will wear. Just look at the flowers.” At first glance, Jesus’ words about the lilies, like the birds, are lovely, but they are not very compelling. Sure, birds and lilies don’t worry about life, but they also don’t have mortgages, car payments, grocery bills, and college tuitions to keep them awake at night. Yet, here, Jesus says, “God will meet your need for clothing.” You may not be decked out in designer wear, but you’ll have what you need. The verb “observe” is a strong word. It means more than just a mere casual glance. It means to study the beauty of the flowers. The emphasis shifts slightly in 6:30 where Jesus speaks of the clothing of “the grass of the field.” Like flowers, grass is transient and even less impressive. Yet, God clothes the grass whether we fertilize it or not. Jesus longs for you to learn a lesson from the flowers and grass. He closes with a rebuke: “You of little faith,” which is an expression only directed to Jesus’ disciples. It indicates not an absence of faith but deficiency of faith. Jesus is saying, “Trust God to meet your needs.” God’s trustworthiness is the issue. Did God take care of you yesterday? What about the day before? What about the day before that? Then, how come you’re worried today? What kind of Father do you have? Some people have sufficient faith to believe God will get them to heaven but not enough to believe He will get them through the next twenty-four hours. They are absolutely confident of the sweet-by-and-by but are terrified of the nasty here-and-now.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Taking Care of All

June 15, 2017

Taking care of all

God, says James, accepts two evidences of religion: “pure and faultless,” inner purity and acts of compassion toward the most vulnerable members of society (Jas 1:27). Christians are to model Jesus in both his purity and his service to those in need. Just as God comes to the aid of those in need, those who practice true religion “look after” two of the most vulnerable groups, orphans and widows.

 Here are five simple ways to look after widows and orphans:

  1. Recognize them—While we often think of an “orphan” as a child who has lost both parents, the term can also include loss of one parent or abandonment in general. Similarly, while single parents who have not lost a spouse through death are not technically widowed, they often face similar problems and are deserving of our compassion. The church is filled with single parents, foster kids, step kids, blended families, unmarried parents, pregnant teens. We need to make sure our church door and hearts are open to all.

  2. Look after them—Christ used the word for “look after” in Matthew 25:43 to describe the ministry of caring for those in prison. Obeying this appeal calls for more than just donating money or an occasional visit; it requires we devote ourselves to them with personal concern. We need to train our church folks to not come to church with blinders on; to “see” everyone in the church and to love all.

  3. Provide relief for widows—Being a widow or single parent can often be lonely and exhausting because they have to do the work of a couple all by themselves. Providing relief can be as simple as taking them a meal, helping them shop for groceries or babysitting so they can get some rest. Find one way to help them regularly.

  4. Spend time with orphans—Boys need men who can exhibit Biblical masculinity and girls need women to demonstrate Biblical femininity. Be a role model by spending time with a child just being a model of Christ’s love. Make a commitment to spend regular time with them. “Orphaned kids are more needy than most, and that need doesn’t expire. Yes, God is their heavenly Father, but they also need the hands and feet of the church.”

  5. Incorporate them into your life—The most helpful way we can look after widows and orphans is to incorporate them into our own lives and our families. Make an effort to include them in your regular activities.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Joe R, in your prayers for his shoulder

Paul K for his upcoming cancer surgery.

 

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.