I really can change part 3

January 18, 2018

I really can change part three

Many believers greatly underestimate the necessity of intimacy and trust for successful growth in Christian holiness. But we must be able to share honestly those areas in which we need transformation. We can deal with deep issues of growth only in a community in which we’re deeply known by others. We need others who have our best interests at heart. They must also be people we trust to hold sensitive issues in genuine confidence.

Why does the pursuit of Christian holiness need to occur in community? There are at least two reasons. First, we need accountability in the areas of sin with which we struggle. When we confess our struggles to a group, we become accountable to all of the members to press on toward growth. Because the group is aware of our sin, we can’t hide it in darkness, where it retains a hold on our life and can make crippling guilt a permanent fixture in our walk. If we’re struggling, we have not one but several people to lean on. In addition, the corporate, or group, setting increases the likelihood of support from someone else who has struggled in the same way. In one-on one accountability, one person may not be able to relate well to the other’s struggles. He or she may have different areas of struggle.

The second benefit of corporate pursuit of holiness is that without the encouragement and stimulus of other Christians, we’re often blind to the ways in which we need to grow. In the counsel of many who care for us, there can be greater wisdom. If some believers are blind to being hospitable, the hospitality of another believer can spur them on to develop that quality in their own lives. If some never think about how to speak encouraging words, the encouraging speech of another can become contagious.

“Where can I serve?” is not an optional question; every believer should ask it. Nor is this a matter simply for individual reflection. Rather, we can best discern where and how to serve while in community with people who know our past, interests, struggles, and talents. The community can affirm what they see in us and may know of opportunities to serve that we’re unaware of.

How many terrific musicians are sitting in pews every Sunday because they lack the confidence to volunteer? Those gifted people might merely need others who know them well to encourage them to serve. Maybe someone’s life story revealed that while growing up she played in a band. Someone might ask, “What have you done with that interest lately?”

Understanding our identity in Christ is critical to a fruitful walk with the Lord. The central events of Christianity, Christ’s death and resurrection, are the foundation of the Christian life. Dying with Christ means dying to the things that used to run our lives. For instance, while material wealth is the central motivation in many people’s lives, Christ calls us to relinquish pursuing wealth as a core motivation. The same is true of any other vice that keeps us from fully loving God and people.

Rising with Christ means rising to a new way of living under His kingship. Before we came under Christ’s kingship, our identity was dominated by concerns other than loving God and loving people as Jesus did. There was no way we could transform ourselves to make us acceptable to our perfect Judge and Maker. Whether we knew it or not, objectives and motivations that didn’t focus on loving God and others were running our lives.

Certainly, our earthly identity may contain characteristics that influenced us in godly ways. For instance, our parents may have taught us to be honest. Yet sin and offensive independence from God characterized our lives. Ironically, this “independence” was evidence of Adam’s control. When we come under Christ’s kingship, by God’s grace through our faith, we gain a heavenly component to our identity.

To say that we have a new component is a gross understatement. Coming under Christ’s kingship ought to so transform our understanding of our identity that, in many respects, we no longer consider ourselves the same people. We are new creatures (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 The most basic truth of our identity, our position before God, is determined by who our King is, even though Adam’s realm may still influence us. And our actions will reflect our participation in one kingdom or the other, for each kingdom has certain “deeds” or “fruit” characteristic of it. The deeds of the flesh (see Galatians 5:19-21) result from being in Adam, whereas the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) grows when we are in Christ.

What does it mean to be under Christ’s kingship? To be under a king is to be subject to that king’s will. In our fallen world, that concept rarely sounds appealing. After all, who would agree to be entirely subject to someone else’s will? Would you approach a stranger and say, “I’m at your disposal, and I’ll do anything you want me to do”? Our minds immediately race through all the abuses that might result from such a scenario. That’s because we don’t trust strangers. As subjects of Christ’s kingdom, though, we face an entirely different scenario. We have come to know Him and have found that His will is love. As subjects of Christ, we are implored to do His will, which involves actively caring for others, as pointed out in 1 John:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (4:7-12) If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (3:17-18)

Many people think being saved is like eternal life insurance. It’s more like a pledge of allegiance to a new King. Our Sovereign God doesn’t compel us to produce something for Him that He lacks. Our allegiance to Him requires us simply to love our fellow subjects actively and also to love those who claim no such allegiance—our King’s enemies. How strange this kingdom is to a world that understands the love of friends but knows nothing of loving enemies! But the world has not experienced the love of Christ. We love those who are not followers of our King because we realize that they may simply be enemies who have not yet become brothers. We love fellow believers because we share the joy of being loved by our Great King and we are, therefore, now brothers. We believers are individuals in a community marked by Love, whose name is Jesus.

Stay tuned as we continue our growth and change series.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

I really can change (part two)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well that’s it for today.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

I REALLY CAN CHANGE

January 16, 2018

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

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

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

What do you think about the most each day?

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

So think on that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE CROSS

January 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

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

 

SLOW AND STEADY

January 12, 2018

Slow and steady

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Gwen, has the flu

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

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

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

 

Men of God

January 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Vanilla

January 2, 2018

Doldrums: Technically, the word refers to a part of the ocean near the equator where the winds are often calm. If a sailing vessel with no motor gets into the doldrums, it isn’t going anywhere. Webster further defines “doldrums” as (1) a spell of listlessness or despondency: blues; (2) a state of inactivity, stagnation, or slump.

I’m guessing that some of you may have drifted into the spiritual doldrums. You’re not doubting or denying the faith. You’re not thinking about becoming an atheist. But you’re not going anywhere spiritually. You’re spiritually stagnant. Your Christian life has become routine and boring. If this describes you in any way, I hope to motivate you to get out of the doldrums and make this a year when you make some significant spiritual advances.

You can give yourself all kinds of pep talks, read self help books, go to motivational seminars. Take drugs, drink whatever. The fact is if you’re not happy with your spiritual life there is only one thing you can do. Pray, pray that God gives you a new heart, breaks the fallow ground, sends a revival. Unless you are moved by God anything you do will just fall flat.

The good news, no the great news is God has been just waiting for you to ask for help. Angels have holding their breathe waiting for you to pull your head out of your proverbial rear end and draw back to God.

So your resolution is just pray for God to give you a kick start.

And if you were waiting for some super secret, mystic, mumbo jumbo, rebuke the devil, bind some evil spirit, you’re just spit out of luck. Plain vanilla, fall on your knees, confess your sins and ask God for renewal.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Barry, wants to ask his girl friend to get married.

Remember Lisa and Ty, keep them in prayer as their marriage needs some real work and Lisa needs to grow up and pray for her to be a godly wife.

OCCUPY

December 30, 2017

OK, I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GOING TO USE THIS AS A TITLE.

“OCCUPY”

  “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us . . . hath made us alive together with Christ . . . and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–6).

  Believers are not occupying their position! At best, most are trying to attain a victorious position by means of prayer, Bible study, commitment, reconsecration, surrender, and so forth. But the answer is simply to abide where we have already been placed—in our risen Lord Jesus Christ. Abide above, and keep looking down!

  “Our Father has taken us over Jordan and placed us in Canaan, but the reality of it is never known until by faith we accept the fact on the basis of having died with Christ, and that therefore heaven is our place, and we know it to be our place now; and that this side is not our place, and we know that it is not.

The more we abide in the Lord on the other side, the less disappointed we will be here, for when we are there we import new joys and new hopes into this old world, from an entirely new one, and we therefore in every way surpass the inhabitants of this lost world.

 You must abide in Christ in heaven before you can descend with heavenly ability to act for Him down here. The great secret of all blessing is to come from the Lord. Most Christians go to Him.

 Christian experience is our measure of apprehension of that which is already true of us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  “Stand fast (occupy) in the Lord” (Phil. 4:7).

One thing I tell every struggling pastor who has problems with his sermons. “You are not spending enough time in prayer, you have to come out of the heavenly throne room and into the pulpit.”

Isaiah 6:7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Chris R, gallbladder surgery tomorrow.

Ronnie V, she celebrates 44 years sobriety today.

Bill F, 98 years young, tomorrow we are going trike riding.

 

GOT WOOD?

December 29, 2017

GOT WOOD?

From the dawn of creation until today, in backyards and rainforests across the earth, there have been trees—trillions and trillions of trees. Imagine you are given the task of identifying the most important trees in the history of humankind. In retrospect, a trio of candidates would appear to be obvious contenders: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, and the tree that provided the wood for Jesus’ cross.

But what if you had to identify the tree before it changed history? Even if we were told which country it came from or the forest it grew in, the task would be absurdly improbable. Certainly no one would have suspected the importance of a tree cut down in Egypt to make staffs for goat- and sheep-herding shepherds. But just such a tree made a stick of wood that became the staff of God (see Ex 4:20), a staff Moses and Aaron used for stunning displays of God’s power.

“Consider the mighty ways in which God used a dead stick of wood,” wrote Francis A. Schaeffer. “ ‘God so used a stick of wood’ can be a banner cry for each of us. Though we are limited and weak in talent, physical energy, and psychological strength, we are not less than a stick of wood. But as the rod of Moses had to become the rod of God, so that which is me must become the me of God. Then, I can become useful in God’s hands.”

“God so used a stick of wood”—and he will use us, too, if we are,

➤ Consecrated—To be consecrated is to be set apart or dedicated to the service of God. In what ways has God set you apart for his work?
➤ Shaped—Before it became the staff of God, the stick of wood was shaped into a shepherd’s staff. While we might not fully understand how God is shaping us, we must trust that it is being done so we will become more useful in his hands. Add to your prayer request list that God will form you for Christlike service.

From a little acorn to a mighty oak, who knows what God will turn our lives into.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com