Next time you feel overwhelmed by your obligations, consider what it must have been like for Moses. For the ancient Israelites, Moses served as the chief leader, primary lawgiver (delivering God’s laws) and sole judge in disputes.

 When Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, heard about these duties, he offered wise insight: “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Ex 18:17–18).

Jethro recommended appointing other capable and trustworthy men to be judges. As he said, “That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you” (v. 22).

 For Christians, helping to share one another’s burdens is not just good advice; it’s a way we fulfill the law of Christ (see Gal 6:2).

  Some of you wonder what you are supposed to do with your life. Here is a vocation that will bring you more satisfaction than if you became a millionaire ten times over: Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter.

  Here are three ways to hone the skill of burden bearing:

  1. Be watchful for indirect opportunities—In many cases, we can’t bear others’ burdens directly. We can’t often take their place or do their tasks for them. We can, however, help them indirectly by reducing other strains and distractions in their life.

  1. Be willing to do small deeds—“So many of our good deeds are so small,” “They seem paltry. Instead of handing over the keys to a brand new car, we hand over a slightly over-cooked casserole. Instead of funding an extreme makeover for that person’s home, we show up on Saturday morning to help apply a new coat of paint.”

  1. Be ready for the boring—Burden bearing is often boring. It’s not exciting work that will garner you lots of attention. But it’s work that is absolutely essential. Don’t wait for a future time when you can be a hero; just be a help right now.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Robin M, 16 years of drug addiction, 23 years clean, her mom and dad both passed away within 8 days of each other. They were her grounding, pray she gets closer to the Lord.

Pray for Jessie d, in the early morning fog, his truck struck a hitch-hiker, the guy is in the hospital with a concussion, several broken bones and a ruptured spleen. The Highway patrol is still investigating.

 

The School of Faith

February 12, 2018

THE SCHOOL OF FAITH (PART ONE)

Your accomplishment is measured by your faith. Matthew 9:29 says that according to your faith be it unto you. Do you want to please God? People do all kinds of thing to please God. They go on pilgrimages, they give money, they make sacrifices, and some of them dress in strange ways and do outlandish things. Do you want me to tell you how to please God? Believe Him. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith pleases God, because faith honors God. And, by the way, if you please God, it doesn’t matter whom you displease. And, if you displease God, it doesn’t matter whom you do please. And, the way to please God is to believe God.

Faith overcomes the world. Are you having troubles and struggling? Is this world oppressing you and weighting you down? The Bible says in 1 John 5:4: “And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” You say, “Pastor, I’ve got a mountain of problems.” Our Lord says in Mark 11:23: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove.” I do not have the vocabulary, words, or emotion enough today to emphasize to you the importance of faith.

And if someone ever comes to you whether in print or radio, TV or online claiming they have found the secret, or they have the formula, or they know it all, don’t believe them. I’ve been a serious Bible student for almost 45 years. Bible college, Seminary, Doctoral degree, post-doctoral studies, pastor, professor, psychologist, street preacher. And I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learned, I’m as ignorant as a rock. The depths, and the heights of the Word of Truth, unfathomable, it’s like a diamond mind that never gives up all it’s secrets easily.

Now that’s not to be a discouraging statement, we are like builders, we have the shoulders of past giants to stand on. We have great books and sermons to guide us. But each and every great truth has to be relearned, rediscovered, reapplied. Head knowledge alone is worthless without the Holy Spirit making application, “making it real” in our lives.

Pick one bible and make all your notes in that bible, when it wears out buy the same bible and transfer all the notes over again, you’ll be surprised at the great gems you’ve discovered in your pilgrimage. And some stuff will make no sense at all, don’t erase it, there was a certain setting in time where it was important. Plus there will be stuff you wrote that now you know is just flat wrong. Don’t erase it, but mark it as incorrect and write the truth next to it and the source. Every quote you write down, write, who, when and where.

(As side note, only buy bibles in premium leather, calfskin or kangaroo, with Smyth binding. It will never wear out if cared for; as your bonded leather will give up the ghost no matter what you paid for it. Leonard’s bookbinding can resew it and put quality, premium leather on it, it will become a family heirloom. One last thing, lay your bibles on their sides, not upright like a regular book, you will ruin the ‘yap’ on the bottom).(now don’t panic, there is a church in Michigan??? That makes a premium KJV bible for under 100 dollars with large print and great paper and premium leather. just look up church bible printers(??) or email me.) if money isn’t an object than go to evangelicalbibles.com and the best hand sewn or Smyth Sewn with premium leather and the best paper and the text is lined up on each side of every page so there is no shadow or bleed through of text. Expect to pay up to $300 dollars for Schuyler Caxton Bible in any version you like and it will last a lifetime. Like a carpenter that has learned to buy the best tools for a lifetime, this is the same principle. I have my great, great grandmother’s bible, I don’t know how she could have afforded it, but it is a treasure to see her handwriting and the little notes or even a family recipe stuck in it, not to mention the genealogy written down with a few pictures as well.

Sorry got side tracked there.

Abraham was the Dean in the School of Faith, but he had to learn some lessons himself. At this time he was very young in the faith. And, God now brings him into the land of famine, as we’re going to see, for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to test him. But, he failed the test. Now, my dear friend, God’s going to test your faith. Not because He doesn’t love you, but because He does love you. If you don’t remember anything else that I’m going to tell you today, I’m going to tell you this. A faith that cannot be tested, cannot be trusted. How do you that you have the real thing? How can you trust what you have if it’s not been tested? Now, God will test you. Peter taught the same thing. 1 Peter 1:7: “That the trial of your faith”—that is the testing of your faith—”being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire” or through fire. Now, what Peter says is that your faith is worth more than gold. But, you test gold to make certain that it’s real gold and not fools gold.

Stay tuned for part two

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The next thing that we need to do if we’re going to have a successful argument—we need to deal with one problem at a time and deal with problems as they come up. Now the Bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath.” Many of us used to collect trading stamps. (I’m showing my age here) You used to go to the store and they give you these stamps after you buy something, the more you buy the more stamps you get, you put them in a little book, and then one day you go down and redeem them for anything the store carried. You collected enough stamps you could come out with new lawn mower or a new food processor.

 What you do is you just put them in the book. Now that’s the way a lot of marriages do. Your husband hurts you—you put it in the book. Say something else, late for the dinner—put it in the book. Forgot your anniversary—book it in the book. You don’t deal with those things as they come up and then one of these days, there’s an explosion. She comes in to cash all her stamps. I mean all at one time, or he comes in, and you wonder why, when did all of this happen? How did all of this happen?

You have failed to do what the Bible says to do and that is to deal with these things as they come up, when they’re small, when they can be dealt with. Trading stamp is not so big. It can be dealt with, but not the whole book all at once. “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath!” Stick to the subject. Know what it is. Don’t attack one another; attack the problem. Deal with these things as they come up.

(ok this is one giant pun) But you can lick the stamps, not the whole book. Deal with it when it comes up. This is why your church needs to do a seminar on Temperaments. If you understand your spouse’s temperament. The moody person that it’s always their fault, or the person who has no problems, it’s always ‘you’. Or how about the emotional handwringer it takes two days put them back together again or the let’s write this down and draw a chart to solve this.

None of these are wrong, but opposites attract and we need to know the emotional IQ of our spouses and how the God given temperament is a double edged sword it works great when the person is walking with God. But oh boy, when it’s the carnal nature leading the way watch out.

Homework assignment, seriously, read Tim LeHaye’s book on temperament and the book ‘please understand me’ these are great books and will help you as a spouse and as a parent.

Next learn to negotiate. Don’t get in a win-lose situation. Rather than having a war where both husband and wife lose, have a negotiation where both husband and wife win. Let both save face. Give in. Adjust. Compromise. Be gentle. Jesus does that. Jesus said, “I have many things to tell you; you’re not able to bear them.” He knows what we’re able to do. Learn not just to force your point all the way down to the bitter end.

And if you are one of these dim witted cavemen that with a bible in one hand and megaphone in the other yelling “submit” the bible says you have to submit woman. Well let me ask you one question Capt. Grunt, what have you sacrificed for your wife lately?

Golf on Saturday, out with the boys Friday, spending to much on toys, you know the big boy toys.

How about blessing your wife, do you touch her (non sexually) at least 10 times a day. How about kissing (non sexually) 10 times a day, holding the door open for her. Telling her how beautiful she is, saying thank you for dinner. No sniping and rude comments. You’d be surprised how the relationship changes.

Next, know how important this is, pray, pray, pray, pray and pray some more. It’s amazing how prayer will help you through these things. Sometimes Sharon and I will be in a disagreement. We’ll be sitting there at the kitchen table. It will get tense.

And she’ll say to me, “Greg, you’re wrong.” “Not me.” “Yes, you’re wrong.” “No, I’m not wrong.” “She says, you are wrong, but I can’t prove you’re wrong because you can talk better than I can. But I know you’re wrong.” I say, “No I’m not wrong.” “You’re wrong.” It gets tense I say, “Well let’s just stop for a while.” I go in my study and try and prepare a sermon. Ha. Try to read. Try to do something else. I can’t do it. So I say, “Lord, did you see what went on in there?” He says, “Yeah, you were wrong.” “Me?” “Yeah, you. You were wrong.” “Okay, Lord.” I have to go back, “Honey, I was wrong. Forgive me.” She says, “I forgive you.” We hug and kiss. Make up. Prayer will do that, friend. You be honest with God. Honest with God. Just honest and let God speak to you. And friend if you’ll do these things and they’re so simple, but so real, your marriage can be a marriage that can stay together as you have that commitment. That communion. That confrontation. All sheltered over with His great love. Would you pray for your home right now?

Which brings us to the most awkward thing I ask couples to do, kneel down next to the couch at least once a day and hold hands and pray together. Trust me the first few times it is going to feel weird and you might think your prayer didn’t go past the ceiling. But keep at it for at least 3 months and then you’ll see that time will become the most precious time of each day.

PS, no self-righteous, talking down to prayers. Husbands pray first, and the wife. You’ll be amazed what love and forgiveness, harmony and closeness develops.

Ding. This round is over.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember pray requests and comments to email address, ALSO IF WE NEED TO TALK BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FIND A GOOD CHRISTIAN COUNSELOR EMAIL ME YOUR PHONE NUMBER AND THE BEST TIME TO TALK.

the balanced life

January 31, 2018

So let me give you some rules for having a good fight, okay? Let me tell you how to confront and all of these things I can back up with Scripture. I mean, you’re going to have to confront your mate. You are. And I want to give you some principles here. Very quickly, I’m just going to name them off. And if you’ll do this, you’ll learn how to make up and not break-up. And you’ll learn really to have that super glue marriage and you’ll not be able to do these unless you have the first two already, which is that lifetime commitment and that loving communion, or communication. Then you can have that loyal confrontation.

First of all, isolate the problem. Pinpoint the problem. Know what it is that you’re truly arguing about because many times we’re hurting in one place and we’re grunting in another. For example, your wife, she may be scolding you and fussing at you, but maybe she’s tired. Maybe she’s sick. Maybe she’s afraid. Maybe you hurt her feelings over here with something else that you said or didn’t say, and you have no idea that you did it. And so what you’re really arguing about is not the point at all. Or maybe you come home and you find yourself in an argument with your wife and you’re not really mad at her. You’re mad at what happened to you on the freeway coming home, or what your boss said to you.

Zig Ziglar, who is a great communicator, tells a story about a Mr. Sparks who was going to the health club one day and he was a business executive. And he was stopped for speeding. Made him so angry that when he got back to the office he chewed out the sales manager because the sales were down. He wasn’t mad at the sales manager, he was mad at the highway patrolman. Got all over the sales manager. The Sales Manager took it, couldn’t say anything back, but he talked to his secretary and said, “Where are those five letter I gave you? How come they’re not in yet? Get those letters out!” Secretary began to burn to a slow burn. She went over to the switchboard operator, “Oh you sit there everyday and just answer the telephone. You don’t do anything else. Why don’t you help me? Why don’t you do something to help me get these letters out?” Chewed out the switchboard operator. Switchboard operator went home that day and her twelve year old son was sitting there watching television, had a little nick in his blue jeans. She said, “Look, you’ve torn your pants. You go upstairs. No more television for you and no more dinner for you.” About that time, the cat crossed this little boy’s path. That was a mistake for that cat to come past right then. And he kicks the cat. Now Zig asks this question, “Wouldn’t it have been a lot simpler if Mr. Sparks, the business executive had gone over to the switchboard operator’s house and kicked the cat himself and not disturbed so many people in the way?”

So many times we’re hurting in one place and grunting in another. Happy is the couple the can say “What is the problem?” What is the problem? Pinpoint the problem. Pinpoint the problem.

Number two, learn to attack the problem and not one another. If we could only do this, most arguments are ego against ego. Right? Trying to prove we’re right rather than attacking the problem. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: There are no problems too big to solve, just people too small to solve them. If we would learn that the mate may have done something wrong and that is the problem, but the mate is not the problem. It’s what the mate did. You say, “I can’t slice it that thin.” Oh yes you can. Listen, if you have a child for example and you need to confront your child, your child comes in with bad grades or stayed out too late, don’t say to that child, “You’re no good. You’re a bad child. You have no respect. You have no integrity.” Don’t talk to that child that way. You’ve attacked him. Don’t do that. Attack the problem. Say, “Son, grades are important and here’s way. Here’s what you did that’s wrong and here’s how we’re going to fix it.” So many times it’s ego against ego. And our rotten pride wants to be right.

Stay tuned for part two “how to have a good argument”.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

YEP, IT’S A SIN

January 30, 2018

YEP, IT’S A SIN

Faultfinding over trivial things. You didn’t put the top back on the toilet. You squeezed it in the middle. Or you hung your stockings again on the shower rail. Or you never pick up your clothes. Did you know the word “Nag” and the word “gnaw” are related? You ever have anybody gnaw on you? It ain’t funny. Here’s what the Bible says. Now these verses you can tell old Solomon knew what he was talking about. Proverbs 21:19, “It is better to dwell in the wilderness then with a contentious and an angry woman.”

Proverbs 27:15, “a continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.”

Drip. Drip. Drip. But it’s not only the women who nag. Men nag. You need to confess it, not as a weakness, but as a sin and break the habit.

Think about your speech, to yourself, your spouse, children, co-workers. Does your speech bless?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Richard B, getting married this Sunday afternoon. First time, he’s 32 and she’s 28, both have been “saving” themselves. A very godly couple, it will be a pleasure to do their wedding.

Pray for Sarah L, February will be the anniversary of her mother’s suicide, 5 years ago during the superbowl. She’s a great Christian young woman and her mother missed a large part of her life past and present, but it’s still her mom.

Thank you to all that pray.

Start Right

January 29, 2018

Start out right

Did you know that most of the marriage problems that I deal with, at their root, is nothing but selfishness? Now another word for selfishness is immaturity. Big babies. And most of the time, but not always, most of the time these big babies are the men. They think that God gave them a built-in servant when they got married and she’s to wait on him hand-and-foot, for somehow he’s the head of the house and he’s little, Lord, and she’s his servant. And she’s to wait on him all the time.

A recent survey on marriage, taken in America, has some shocking statistics. Did you know that fifty percent of the women who were married said, “If I had it to do over again, I would not marry the same man.” That’s shocking. Fifty percent of the women. One out of every two women said if I could do it again, I would not marry that guy. They surveyed the men. Seventy percent of the men said, “I would marry the same woman again.”

Now guys, what does that say about us? Let me tell you something else. They put a new ingredient in the survey and they asked this question: Does your husband help you at home? To the wives who said, “Yes” to that question, 82% of them said I’d marry the same man again. 82%. Selfishness is one of the major problems. It comes across in so many ways.

I’m constantly amazed at the men who don’t help their wives at home. Most wives today are working mothers, they work 40 hours or more per week, spend 40 hours working at home, kids, meals, laundry. And the husband is out golfing on Saturday, comes home and expects a beer and sex 5 minutes after he gets home. That’s male immaturity, grow up guys.

Did you know that washing dishes with or for your wife won’t shrink your testicles?

But guys sure act like it will.

Come on guys be a partner with your wife in all that you do. My wife shoots as good as I do, she can sharpen a knife as good as I can. We both love to cook, I can sew on my own buttons. We don’t take separate vacations, have separate checking accounts, we take care of each other.

You can build a strong marriage or just let go out the window, your choice. It’s easier to make a good marriage than to fix one, so start at the beginning.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

commitment

January 28, 2018

It’s a day of throwaway marriages. Disposable marriages. Discardable marriages. And what a tragedy it is. I was recently reading Newsweek magazine, an article on marriage, and I want you to listen to it.

The landscape is littered with victims of the divorce epidemic. Ex-wives raising their children alone. Former husbands trying to start new lives and still be good fathers to kids they see only on specified days. And the children themselves often tore between two warring parents. In a recently completed ten-year study of sixty divorced, middle-class families in Northern California, psychologist Judy Warstein, found that only ten percent of the ex-spouses said they had both succeeded in improving their own lives. That is for ninety percent of these, they said it was a disaster. Divorce, Warstein said, has been a wrenching experience for every family I have ever seen.

Now that’s in a secular article. Divorce—a wrenching experience for every family I’ve seen. Now I am not here to make divorced people feel worse. If you’ve been divorced, thank God for the grace of God that cleanses. But I am here to lay out a warning to those who are not yet married and to help those who are married to have what I want to call today a Super Glue Marriage.

I want to show you today how to make-up and not to break-up because dear friend, if you do break up, I can tell you with all of the emphasis, function and emotion in my soul there’s going to be heartache, there’s going to be difficulty. There are no whole eggs in a broken nest.

The average 13 year old spends 8.3 hours per day!!! On an electronic device. Where the heck are the parents. If they are not taking care of their children they can’t be taking care of their marriage either

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, regardless of your child’s age, when they get home their cell phone goes into a locked box, and there’s no tv, computer, electronic anything in their bedroom. And once a week you go through their room looking for contraband. Be the parent, grow up, take responsibility. Discipline your kids.

people with broken lives tend to build broken homes, which tend to produce broken lives, which tend to produce broken homes, and there’s a vicious cycle.

Psychologists tell us that girls tend to marry men like their fathers. Now you can see why mothers cry at weddings.

Marriage is the highest of all earthly, human relationships. When God says that a man shall cleave to his wife, that speaks of the permanence of marriage. Actually the word here, “cleave,” means to “weld” or to “glue.” That’s the reason I’m talking to you about a Super Glue Marriage. All right, that’s the permanence of marriage. And then they shall become one flesh—that’s the purpose of marriage. That a man and a woman come together and become in the closest bond and communion, one flesh. Never thinking if this one doesn’t work out maybe the next one will.

I don’t care what your excuse is, but we have to teach our children that marriage is for life. “Oh, we were just incompatible” is a lie.

There must be such a total commitment to marriage if you want your marriage to last. Now folks, you show me a boy and a girl who come to the marriage altar, who say in the back of their minds, “Well if this doesn’t work out, we can get a divorce,” and I’ll show you a boy and a girl who have a great potentiality for getting a divorce.

But you show me a boy and a girl who come to the marriage altar and say there’s no such word as divorce in our vocabulary, we are making a lifetime, a lasting commitment. We’ve thrown away the parachute. There is no other way for us, no matter what happens, thick or thin; we’re going to stick it out. I’ll show you a marriage that has a great potentiality for staying together.

You want great advice on your marriage ask a couple that’s been married 70 years.

But no, what I see are people asking their divorced friends what they should do.

Why, because they want permission to get divorced.

it is not primarily your love that holds your marriage together, it is your marriage that holds your love together. It is that commitment that enables your love to go on and on and on. And without that commitment your love is going to disintegrate. Don’t get the idea that your home is held together by love. Your home is held together by a commitment. It is your commitment that sustains your marriage. And sustains your love, not vice versa.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

BULLET PROOF MIND

January 27, 2018

MAKE UP YOUR MIND

  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

  Just whose side are we on? The enemy who would occupy us with ourselves, or the Comforter who would occupy us with the risen Lord Jesus? The spirit of death, or the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? “Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).

If we have only learned the Lord at our own side, the tendency is to be occupied with ourselves, or to seek to be an object of consideration; whereas if we have been led by the Spirit to His side, His interests and concerns will singularly occupy us.

The natural inclination is to make oneself the center of everything passing, how it pains or cheers oneself, even musing on oneself as if one were the one solitary object for the sunshine or the cloud to rest on. If I am a hero, or a martyr to myself, I look at and regard divine things as they suit my thinking about myself, and not as answering to what He is thinking of me. I am confining the Lord to myself instead of rising up and seeing myself lost in Him, and then following Him in all the greatness and blessedness of His work and ways down here.

  “We may love as Jonathan, and follow as Ruth, but until we know that we are united to the Lord Jesus Christ in glory, we will not be free enough from our own interests, to take up His.”

  “[Who] made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7).

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

Praise from Anne, she has been sober 3 weeks, stayed on her meds, and the difference in her has been dramatic. Pray she keeps it up..

Pray for Todd, he’s been married a year and since Christmas his wife has been drunk, sleeping around and just mean tempered. He want’s to stay married, but she won’t come in for counseling or move back home.

Pray for Andrew, a very rare thyroid condition has him hospitalized and will have surgery on Monday.

Roger asks, to keep his mom (91) in prayer, she still lives at home and cooks and cleans, but he’s worried about her neighborhood really going downhill.

 

OLD ABE

January 25, 2018

OLD ABE

Stored in a safe place at the Library of Congress is a small blue box. The label reads: “Contents of the President’s pockets on the night of April 14, 1865.” As you probably know, that was the fateful night on which President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

The box contains five things: (1) A handkerchief embroidered “A. Lincoln”; (2) A country boy’s pen knife; (3) A spectacles case repaired with string; (4) A purse containing a $5 bill—in Confederate money! (5) Some old and worn newspaper clippings.

The clippings are concerned with the great deeds of Abraham Lincoln. One of them reports a speech by John Bright, a British statesman, saying that Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest men of all time.

That is not news for us who live over a century later. We all know that Lincoln was a great man. But in 1865, the jury was still out. The nation was divided and Lincoln had fierce critics on both sides as he made decisions that he hoped would restore the Union. Remember, Lincoln hadn’t read the history books on himself!

There is something poignantly pathetic about picturing this lonely figure in the Oval Office reaching into his pocket and spreading out these newspaper clippings as he re-read the encouraging words of a man who believed that Lincoln was a great man. It gave him the courage and strength to go on. People, especially leaders, need encouragement! (From an article by Charles Swindoll in the newsletter of the First Evangelical Free Church, Fullerton.)

Shift the scene from the Oval Office of Abraham Lincoln to a dungeon in Rome. It is dark and cold. A dim ray of light filters in through the opening at the top. Inside sits an aged, weathered little Jewish man, chained to a guard. It is Paul of Tarsus awaiting execution. Keep in mind that Paul didn’t know that his life and teachings would radically change the course of world history. All he knew was that the end was near and that many of those whom he had loved and taught were abandoning him like sailors jumping off a sinking ship.

Suddenly, there was a noise above as the guard opened the hatch to his cell. The old man squinted into the light, but couldn’t see who was climbing down the ladder to visit him. But he recognized the friendly voice, “Paul, Paul, I’ve found you at last!”

“Onesiphorus! Is that you, my good friend?” The two men embraced warmly in spite of the stench of the prisoner and his squalid cell. Then Onesiphorus, whose name means “bringing help or profit,” opened his bag and gave Paul fresh bread, fruit, cheese, and wine. He stayed a long time and he came back often, bringing good news of the progress of the gospel across the Roman Empire. Each time he came, Paul was refreshed in body and spirit.

Onesiphorus could have thought, “Paul is strong. After all, he’s the great apostle, who has suffered often. This isn’t his first time in prison. Who am I to try to minister to someone like him?”

But the reality is that everyone needs the ministry of refreshment at times. Even the Lord Jesus, in His hour of agony in Gethsemane, took His three closest disciples with Him and asked them to watch and pray with Him there. If Christ needed it and if Paul needed it, then we all need it. That means that we all need to look for those in need of refreshment and minister to them.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

I really can change part 6

January 22, 2018

PART 6 IN I CAN REALLY CHANGE

WE CAN’T CHANGE IF WE DON’T UNDERSTAND OUR IDENTITY. IT’ LIKE GOOGLE MAPS, YOU NEED A STARTING POINT AND A DESTINATION.

As we probe the depths of our identity in Christ, we want to direct our attention to a phrase in one of Paul’s letters: “the new man.” Our look into the meaning of “the old man” and “the new man” (see Colossians 3:9-10) will reveal that our identity is not only individual but also corporate. This is a significant biblical discovery as we close our study of Identity.

Our culture can even influence our initial interpretation of Scripture. Often those who have been raised in an individualistic culture view the phrase “in Christ” primarily as an individual experience rather than a corporate one. But that’s not how Paul intended it.

Christian identity is inherently corporate. More often than not, the New Testament writers speak of identity in Christ in plural terms. Almost all of the pronouns in the great identity chapters of Ephesians are in the plural. Even the second person “you” in those sections is plural in the original Greek, which, unlike English, has a different word for “you” singular than “you” plural. Those who grow up in a Western culture are often blind to the corporate way the Bible presents the believer’s identity in Christ:

American culture is obsessed with the individual. Individual rights are the cornerstone of many cultural truths we hold dear. The image of the strong individual moving west of the thirteen original colonies to claim both land and a future is a powerful theme in the early American history. “Rugged American individualism” is a phrase we learn at a young age.

One biblical metaphor for Christian identity that is usually interpreted individually is the “new man” and the “old man.” The New International Version translates Colossians 3:9-10 like this:

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

“Old self” and “new self” here are literally “old man” and “new man.” The New English Translation renders the passage like this:

Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.

“Self” in the New International Version is a clearly individualistic reading of this passage. It’s defensible, especially if one has been steeped in the psychological revolution of the twentieth century. However, there’s reason to believe that we’ve misunderstood that phrase. New Testament scholar Darrell Bock points out that Colossians 3 uses second person plurals (“you” as a group rather than “you” as an individual). Bock thinks the “new man” may refer not to individual believers but to the whole body of a church community. Here he summarizes his analysis:

So the new man is related to Christ and consists of peoples. In other words, it is Christ conceived of as a corporate entity, that is, Christ’s body. Another way to say it is that the new man refers to the new community in Christ that he forms by joining people to himself as they are saved (i.e.,“buried and raised with him,” as Paul already declared in Colossians). An even simpler way to say it is that the new man is the church, the new community in Christ. (I’M STILL DIGESTING THIS INTERPRETATION)

If Bock is right, then a core part of a Christian’s identity is his or her connection to a community of other believers. In the same way that our earthly identity involves a nonnegotiable connection to other persons, whom we call our family, our heavenly identity binds us to a heavenly family. We cannot deny that we are and will remain “family” with our biological parents and siblings. While in recent years biological family bonds have been weakened and broken (at least in legal terms), one’s earthly father, mother, and siblings will always be so. Likewise, though believers may avoid contact with a local church community, at the core of their identity they are to be members of a larger community of Christians. When believers fail to be or are restricted from being involved with that corporate experience, then a part of their identity is distorted.

Consider the prayer of Christ on the night of His betrayal:

“My prayer is not for them [his first disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:20-26, emphasis added)

The analogy here is powerful. Just as Jesus’ identity is inextricably linked with His Father’s identity, so a Christian’s identity is to be linked with a community of other believers. Jesus’ prayer is that we be completely one, just as He and God the Father are one. Clearly, intimate involvement in community with other believers is nonnegotiable for Christians.

Having considered a few biblical references to corporate Christian identity, we see that a concept of identity that is limited to an isolated individual is incomplete. As members of the body of Christ, we have the privilege of sharing a heavenly identity that will bind us together for eternity. Our earthly relationships, then, serve as a significant context for our growth and God’s glory.

So we can’t really change all on our own, it takes accountability, corporate growth, communal participation. Think about this, if a person gets his/her feelings hurt in church what do they do? They drop out for a while or even permanently and either switch churches or stop going.

Folks, we need each other more than we realize for fellowship and growth.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com