Please forgive me

September 13, 2017

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Good news first, Calvin’s eye is fine, the surgery went well, no loss of sight, however the tear duct is going to have to have more surgery, so keep him in prayer.

The Spanish have a story about a father and son who had become estranged. The son left home and the father set out to find him. He searched for many months with no success. Finally, in desperation, the father took out a newspaper ad that read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.” On Saturday, 800 men named Paco showed up looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

In a fallen world, forgiveness is essential to maintain close relationships. We all need forgiveness and we all need to grant forgiveness, because we all sin and we all have been sinned against.

But asking for and granting forgiveness are not easy tasks! It’s not an easy subject to understand, as seen by the fact that different writers say conflicting things about forgiveness. It’s not an easy subject to practice, especially on the emotional level. The deeper you have been hurt, the more difficult it is truly to forgive. Some of you were abused emotionally, physically, or sexually as children by your parents or by trusted family members. Some of you have children who were abused by your mate or by a family member. Some have been betrayed by an unfaithful spouse whom you loved and cared for deeply. These kinds of wrongs are not easy to forgive.

But if you’re a Christian, seeking and granting forgiveness are not optional. Jesus said that if you do not forgive others, the heavenly Father will not forgive you (Matt. 6:15; Mark 11:25). Scholars are divided over whether that refers to being under God’s eternal judgment or to your relationship with the Father as His child. I favor the second option. But either way, you don’t want to miss out on the Father’s forgiveness! Jesus said that forgiving others is so important that if you are worshiping God when you remember that your brother has something against you, you should first go be reconciled to your brother and then come back to worship God (Matt. 5:23-24). So it is vital for you as a Christian to grapple with understanding and practicing forgiveness. Since many books have been written on this topic, I can only touch on some of the issues.

In the context, Paul is showing specific ways that we are to put on the new man, “which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (4:24). In one of our earlier devotions, we saw how we are to put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander (4:31). We are to replace these sins with kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (4:32). Now we want to focus on what it means to forgive and how we can practically apply it.

To forgive others, we must understand the nature of forgiveness and the perspective needed for it, and we must take action to demonstrate forgiveness.

  1. To forgive others, we must understand the nature of forgiveness.

What does it mean to ask forgiveness or to forgive someone? There is a lot of misunderstanding here. Jay Adams (From Forgiven to Forgiving [Calvary Press], pp. 58-60) argues that apologizing is the world’s substitute for forgiving. He points out that there is not a single reference in the Bible to apologizing. It is an unbiblical concept. It allows the wrongdoer to tell you how he feels (“I’m sorry”) without acknowledging his sin and it does not ask the one sinned against to grant forgiveness.

Adams also points out (pp. 112, 135) that biblical forgiveness does not mean accepting the other person in his sin, which often amounts to condoning sin. Again, this is often the world’s way. The world brushes aside the concept of sin by saying, “Hey, no problem! Don’t worry about it, we all make mistakes!” But there is no acknowledgement or confession of sin.

In biblical forgiveness, the wrongdoer admits, “I sinned against you,” and asks, “Will you forgive me?” The one wronged must respond by promising, “I forgive you.” This is very different than just saying you’re sorry or saying to the one who wronged you, “Hey, don’t worry about it!”

Paul says that we are to forgive each other “just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” God didn’t say, “Hey, don’t worry about it, we all make mistakes!” He didn’t just brush our sin aside. Rather, our sin renders us truly guilty before God’s holy justice. We have violated His holy law. He requires that the penalty be paid. But in love, He sent His own Son to bear the penalty that we deserved. When the guilty sinner repents of his sin and lays hold of Christ by faith, God graciously and totally forgives the debt of sin. He releases the sinner from the guilt of his sin. He promises not to remember those sins against him, in the sense of not bringing them up again for judgment. And, He is reconciled to the sinner through the blood of Christ. Extrapolating from God’s forgiveness of us, we can say the following about our forgiveness of others.

Before I tell you what this decision involves, let me underscore that it is a deliberate decision you must make. A friend of Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, once reminded her of an especially cruel thing that someone had done to her years before. But Miss Barton did not seem to recall it. “Don’t you remember it?” her friend asked. “No,” said Miss Barton, “I distinctly remember forgetting it.” Forgiveness is the decision to drop the offense, to let it go. It involves at least five aspects:

         To release the offender from the guilt of his sin.

When God forgives us, He brings down the gavel in His courtroom and declares, “Not guilty! Case dismissed.” And the guilty sinner bears his guilt no longer! When you choose to forgive someone, you let the matter drop, releasing him from his guilt.

         To refuse to bring up the offense to use against the offender.

When God says that He will not remember our sins any more (Heb. 8:12; 10:17), He does not forget them in the sense of amnesia. Rather, He means that He will not bring up any of our offenses against us in the future. We do not have to fear standing before Him someday, because there is now no condemnation for us in Christ (Rom. 8:1). To forgive someone is to promise not to bring the matter up again to use against him. Sometimes it is necessary to bring up a forgiven sin for the purpose of teaching or restoration. Sometimes it is proper to impose consequences to teach the seriousness of sin, as God did with David after his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:9-14). It may be proper for a forgiven offender to be required to make restitution. If he committed a crime, he may need to be prosecuted and spend time in prison. But when we forgive him, we should not bring up his sin to accuse or condemn him or to win an argument.

         To refuse to think about the offense.

Thankfully, God is not in heaven rehearsing our forgiven sins every day! For us, this is one of the most difficult aspects of forgiveness, especially when the wrong was serious. But, like Clara Barton, we must distinctly remember to forget past wrongs that we have chosen to forgive. You must deliberately direct your thoughts to other things, such as how much God has forgiven you. To dwell on an offense that you have forgiven is to break your promise to forgive.

         To refuse to talk to others about the offense.

If you say that you forgive someone and then tell others about the offense, you are trying to make the offender pay, which is not forgiveness. Or, you’re trying to evoke sympathy or admiration from others at the offender’s expense. When you forgive, you choose to drop the matter. The only exception would be if you fear that the offender may be trying to repeat his sin toward another person, who needs to be warned of the danger. For example, if someone has molested your child and you see him hanging out with another family with young children, it is appropriate to warn them to be on guard.

         To be reconciled with the offender as far as is biblically possible.

God forgives us so that we may be reconciled to Him and enjoy a close relationship with Him. When we forgive others, we should also seek to restore the broken relationship. This does not always mean becoming best of friends, but it should at least mean that we are cordial and friendly towards the person. To say, “I forgive you, but I never want to see your ugly face again,” is not to forgive as God forgives! Of course, if the offender does not truly repent of his sin, we cannot be truly reconciled or in a close relationship. But even then, we are still commanded to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us (Luke 6:27-28).

So, biblical forgiveness is a decision to release the offender from the guilt of his sin, to refuse to bring up the offense to use against him, to refuse to think about the offense, to refuse to talk to others about the offense, and to be reconciled to the offender if possible.

When someone wrongs you, it helps to control your anger, root out bitterness, and make you ready to forgive if you remember that God has allowed this to happen for His purpose and your ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, he could have become a very bitter young man. Instead, he chose to forgive his brothers. After their father died, they feared that now he would use his position of power to get revenge. But Joseph acknowledged God’s sovereignty and goodness when he said to them (Gen. 50:19-20), “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” By the way, it is blasphemous to say that we must sometimes forgive God. We only must forgive those who wrong us, and the Judge of the earth always does what is right!

Also, while we should not wish for or pray for God to judge our enemies, but rather to save them, we can take comfort in the fact that if they do not repent, they will face God’s justice someday (1 Pet. 4:17-19; Rev. 18:20; 19:1-3). Vengeance belongs to the Lord and He will repay; so we are free to forgive (Rom. 12:19). Vengeance is mine says the Lord. Deuteronomy 32:35

Paul tells us to be kind and tenderhearted toward those who wrong us, rather than bitter and angry. One way to do that is to realize that you don’t know all that the other person has gone through in his life. Perhaps his parents abused him. That isn’t an excuse for his sin, but realizing that he may have had a difficult life may mitigate your anger and put you in the frame of mind to forgive. Also, it helps to realize that if I had been born in the ghetto to a drug-using mother who didn’t even know who my father was, I could be committing horrible sins today. In other words, the person who has wronged me is just like me, a sinner in need of God’s grace. So I need to be kind and forgiving towards him. That leads to the final step towards implementing forgiveness:

When someone sins against you, he destroys trust in the relationship. Forgiveness is granted freely and graciously, but trust is earned over time. If a husband is unfaithful to his wife, she may forgive him freely, but she doesn’t trust him. That is not a contradiction! He must demonstrate repentance and integrity to earn back her trust and it will take time.

We are to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Question: Does God forgive sinners apart from their repentance and confession of sin? Answer: No. God is ready to forgive sinners the instant they repent. He has made provision so that any sinner that repents is promised mercy and abundant forgiveness (Isa. 55:6-7). He shows kindness towards sinners to lead them to repentance. But God does not forgive sinners unless they repent.

Thus I conclude that as imitators of God (Eph. 5:1), we must forgive in our hearts those who have wronged us. We must be praying for their repentance and be ready to forgive the instant that they do repent. Like the father of the prodigal son, we should be looking for their repentant return and when we see them on the horizon, we run joyously to welcome them back. But, we should not extend forgiveness verbally until they actually do repent.

It’s hard to be tender hearted and kind when we have been wronged, but we are never to let bitterness creep into our hearts.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Battle tested

September 11, 2017

FORGED IN FIRE

  “Saul armed David with his armor…. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not tested them” (1 Sam. 17:38, 39).

  Years of preparation are worth a moment of truth! Rest assured that once we are developed and trained by the Holy Spirit, the work whereunto He has called us will be ready and waiting (Acts 13:2). “Our Lord must have an instrument which He has formed in the fire and to which He has given peculiar knowledge of Himself.”

  “The greater the knowledge committed to a servant, the more necessary and important it is that he should be much alone with God about it, in order that he may realize the nature and effect of it on himself before he undertakes to make it known to others.

  “It rebukes the haste and readiness with which many now enter the ministry, attempting to impress others with a measure of the truth which they have not proved for themselves. Surely the servant should ever be able to say: ‘I believed, and therefore have I spoken’ (2 Cor. 4:13). It is better to lose time as to work in preparation for service than to lose time in repairing one’s mistakes in undertaking a work for which one is not yet qualified.”

  “A servant’s discipline must always be in advance of the service prepared for him. He cannot lead beyond the point to which he himself has been led. But when the depth and reality of the truth has been established in his own soul, he is made the channel of it.”

I have found that many a thing which I had presented in an extreme way because I was sure of it, I put forth in a simpler and a more real way when I had touched it in my own experience.

  “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you” (1 John 1:3).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

STUMBLE AND FALL

September 9, 2017

Looking forward, thinking backward?

“Has the Lord not taken the lead?”

Judges 4:14

I look back with a great deal of regret over wasted years and opportunities in my life. But Paul says that the only way to move forward is to put the past behind and focus on what is ahead: “Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13b-14). Forgetting the past means that I accept God’s forgiveness and grace; however, it does not that I overlook the lessons learned from those years. I hope to make the most of every opportunity God gives me now because of my regret over those missed in the past.

As you think through those in your own life, don’t wallow in them with guilt or regret but use them as bridges to the future where you take advantage of the circumstances into which God puts you.

This last week I was struck by how many times my mind wandered to the past. Have you ever done that? Why did this happen or that happen to me? Why didn’t I do better with that opportunity? Why didn’t I react differently to that person? I realized how easy it is to get stuck in that negative thinking. The worst part is it keeps you distracted and looking backwards.

When we are hurt or upset is our natural reaction to forgive and move forward?  Or is it our tendency to go back over the hurt? Do we accept the apology or do we dwell on the hurt and replay the event over and over? Do we keep going back to it? Or do we move forward?

When we keep looking backwards, we lose our ability to focus on what is right in front of us. It steals our ability to heal.  When we stay in the past and continue feasting on past hurt we perpetuate a cycle of unforgiveness and bitterness –and we are going to fall down.

By going over the injustice or the hurt we relive it over and over and that keeps us locked in a cycle of pain. How can we see what is ahead of us if we don’t ever face the right direction?

The Bible says in Psalm 103:12 (NIV) as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

What an example of forgiveness Christ is. There are instances that even though forgiveness is given there are consequences and even  serious punishment. In those extreme cases granting forgiveness can be very difficult. But by forgiving we are freeing ourselves and we are not excusing the hurt nor any injustice done.

The Bible says, Press on towards the prize. In Philippians 3:14 it says, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. I think that is an amazing promise to share with our children.

“Face forward child and look at the path in front of you because, God has called you! What is the reward? Well the reward is a life in him for all of eternity! Don’t let the pains of the past pull you down. Let those go so you can focus on all that God has for you.”

In Jeremiah 29:11 he tells us, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God tells us he has a plan for us. He tells us he has a future and a hope. He doesn’t tell us that he has a past. If we are striving towards a goal then we stay focused on the path ahead. But if we are looking backwards,  we can wander off course and can and often do fall down.

What do you do if your child is weighted down with unforgiveness? Or maybe they are stuck and angry because someone has been mean to them.

Teach them the joy and freedom of granting forgiveness. It will be a lesson that they will use the rest of their lives.

As I’ve said before I’m not a fan of the new “shortened” bible. Every word has some importance. Let me give you an example, ‘Ai’ or ‘Bethel’ Jacob is told to look toward Bethel, not Ai, why, several reasons, but do you know that the word Ai means rubble and Bethel means ‘house of God’ so we have a choice, we can look back at the rubble of our past or look forward to the promise.

“Stumble & Fall”

I heard that it was a really big deal

But then I found out it was just nothing at all

You always say it’s such a big deal

But we both know that that’s nothing at all

And I get over the breaks

And I, I stumble and fall

And I get over the breaks

And sometimes stumble and fall

You just wont admit that it’s all in your hands

So I have to try so hard to make you understand

But all you can say is “It’s just part of the deal”

And I never asked you to understand

How I keep myself to myself in the crush of the crowd

But all you can say is

“Who cares? It’s part of the deal”

And I get over the breaks

And I, I stumble and fall

And I get over the breaks

And sometimes stumble and fall

Well I, I get over the breaks

And I stumble and fall

And I get over the breaks

And sometimes stumble and fall

Yes I fall

Yes I fall

I stumble and fall (by Razorlight)

Keep praying for Calvin, they may have to do a series of eye surgeries.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ALWAYS

September 8, 2017

We are starting out our devotion with a prayer request up front, one of my friends just called for prayer, her husband was on his tractor and going through some trees and didn’t see a branch, it caught him in the eye, it completely tore out his tear duct and did some damage to his eye. Calvin Crane is his name and at 630am Friday morning he will have surgery, please keep him in prayer.

Luke 15:31-32New International Version (NIV)

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours…

This is from the parable of the prodigal son and it is the father speaking to the son that didn’t wander off. For some reason this verse never stood out to me or hit me until my morning bible study.

What a great thought, we already know it but we haven’t let it sink down into our heart and mind.

Our heavenly father says; “YOU are always with Me!

That’s promise number one. And secondly everything The Lord of the Universe has, is also yours. WOW!

Now it you have followed me for any time at all you know that I am not a “name and claim it” preacher, nor am I a prosperity, wealth and God will jump through hoops because of my faith. BUT, I have to say, ‘all the love of God’ is mine, all His grace and forgiveness, mercy is mine.

People ask me all the time about how to pray, this is it, when you start to wrap your head around one phrase, one word in the bible and it really takes hold, you can’t do anything but pray. And the one area I fall short in is telling God I love him.

I don’t know why it’s so hard a thing for me to do, perhaps it’s because of my falling short, the sin in my heart, the curse word to quick to leap from my lips. The people I say I have forgiven and maybe I really haven’t. Maybe because sometimes my only prayer is “God please love me” that I forget to tell him thank you and I love HIM.

Well something we all have to work on, probably.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

cuts like a knife

September 7, 2017

I was asked to do some counseling at a major college today, and do a group therapy session and then presentation to an auditorium full of young girls. The reason, cutting and self mutilation has become epidemic on the campus.

For the most part, she’s like any other teenage kid. Sometimes brash, sometimes sweet; sometimes mature, sometimes childlike; sometimes carefree, sometimes melancholy. It’s those melancholy times that set her apart. She carves her pain into her arms with a razor blade, or burns it into her flesh with a lighter.

She’s not alone.  As its publicity grows through movies, TV shows, books and music, so do the number of teens (and preteens) who try it.  CNN now reports that 1 in 5 teens have intentionally harmed themselves at least once. Many try it initially because it’s trendy (especially in goth and emo subcultures), but move on.

A portion continue the behavior as stress management or punishment or because of the addictive high they get.

Most of the habitual self-injurers are girls. Many of them are high achievers, have eating disorders, and/or have been abused. Most feel high levels of pressure, stress or expectations. The most prevalent self-mutilation is cutting, but behaviors like burning, choking, and throwing oneself down stairs aren’t uncommon. Though violent, self-injury is not a suicide attempt.

Unfortunately, because awareness of the behavior is so new, medical and mental health professionals often don’t know what to do with these patients. Parents bring their kids to a professional for hope, but end up even more discouraged when that expert tells them she or he can’t help their child. Think of it as the early days of AIDS. Most doctors were as confused as anyone else. It’s the same here. Most organizations specializing in cutting, self-injury and self-mutilation are created by laypeople directly affected by the problem. The medical community has pockets of advancement, but they’re slow in coming.

Behavior to watch for includes trouble dealing with stress, has an eating disorder, covers their arms or legs in all weather (wearing long-sleeved shirts, wide bracelets or sweatbands on their wrists, avoids swimming, etc) and explains away injuries.

If someone you know is a self-injurer, getting specialized help quickly is key. Find experts who deal specifically with this problem. They may need to be removed from people and media that encourage the behavior. They will also need your prayer support, unconditional love and a shame-free safe environment. For most habitual self-injurers, the problem won’t go away on it’s own. Our kids are under attack, and they need people to stand up and rescue them.

you need to check your kids social networks on a regular basis. Put a software program on your computer that will track and also keep them from web sites that can promote this behavior.

Don’t be shocked, Girls as young as nine years old are being pressured to have sex. I’m just going to be blunt here, let your young girl dress like a slut at age 7 and up and you are putting them at risk. Seriously,  get rid of your TV. no computer in the bedroom, have a community computer in the kitchen or dining room. Put locks on your kids bedroom windows to keep them from sneaking out. Put tracking programs on their cellphones.

It’s 1984 and your Big Brother. don’t be naive, talk to your kids everyday, about every topic in the world so they will talk to you about anything and everything.

Don’t put your head in the sand. My daughter was raped at church camp, cutting became her way of dealing with it. It’s taken 30 years for her to deal with it and be a healthy young woman physically, mentally and spiritually.

if you feel your in over your head get help.

God Bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

you are loved

September 6, 2017

  We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

  We first come to know something of the Lord Jesus’ love by what He did for us; but that is only the basis for coming to know His love in what He is to us. The first is known at the Cross, the latter is entered into through personal fellowship with the risen Lord.

  “There are three steps in appreciation of His love for us. First, I learn that He loves me so much that He saved me. He is our treasure ‘My Beloved is mine’ (S.S. 6:3). The second step of affection is the consciousness that He loves me so much that He has a right to me. He would have me for Himself. ‘I am my Beloved’s’ (S.S. 6:3).

  “The third step is the consciousness that He loves me so much that He wants my company ‘His desire is toward me’ (S.S. 7:10). Love’s delight is found in the company of its object. May we know in a deeper way, and in a fuller measure, the sweetness of personal intimacy with ‘the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20).

Much ministry is lost upon us as to any practical result, because we are not prepared to be detached from things here, so as to be simply here for Christ. And the preparation for this is to come personally under the influence of the blessed attractiveness of the Lord Jesus. When we sit under His shadow with great delight, everything else becomes so small, and loses its hold upon our hearts.

  “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

We must learn to give thanks to God in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17,18). God is not asking you to be thankful, but to give thanks. There’s a difference between feeling thankful and giving thanks. The first involves trusting our feelings, the latter involves trusting God. While our feelings will mislead us, God will not (Proverbs 3:5,6)

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As we mature spiritually (1) we learn to give thanks to God for all circumstances (Ephesians 5:20). This is because we understand that everything (including bad things) that have come our way can be caused to make us more like Jesus Christ as we turn to God our Father in childlike FAITH (1) trusting Him (Romans 8:28,29).

Note those two previous verses are not saying that God is causing all things to make us happy! But rather all things can be used to fulfill God’s “purpose” of making us Christ-like as we trust Him in “loving” childlike faith. We can demonstrate this trust to God by thanking Him – by faith – that what He has promised is as good as done (Colossians 3:17. Colossians 4:2).

 

 

Sometimes we have to trust God through difficult circumstances, recognizing that He is sovereign and in control. Even if we don’t immediately see the fulfillment of His promise it does not mean we will not see it fulfilled eventually (Philippians 4:6,7. 2 Peter 3:9. Hebrews 11:13).

 

 

Realize, you become like what you think about in your spiritual heart for good or for bad (Proverbs 23:7. Ephesians 5:1-4. Philippians 4:8). If we continually are thankful to God for what He has done, is doing and will do in our lives our faith will be strengthened (Romans 4:16-20).

 

 

When we live a lifestyle of thanksgiving we communicate to God that we appreciate what we have already been given – no matter how small – causing God to desire to give us more than we can ask or think (Psalms 37:3-5. Proverbs 22:11. Luke 17:12-19. Ephesians 3:20). Furthermore, if you continually give thanks to God for everything you will live a life filled with the contentment that only God gives (Isaiah 26:3. Philippians 4:11-13).

 

 

We initially were saved by faith that received the grace of God (i.e., unearned favor Ephesians 2:8,9) and we are to live the rest of our Christian lives in this manner (Colossians 2:6,7). That is, living a life of faith receiving grace which is best demonstrated by a thankful heart! (Psalms 100:4) . While it is easier to thank God when things are going well; however,  when they are not we have a unique opportunity to offer up the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). That is, thanking God when every one of your emotions wants to have a “pity party” is costly – hence the “sacrifice”.

 

 

Having an attitude of gratitude will keep our spiritual hearts tender towards God (Psalms 107:1,2,43).  Consequently, we will have a heart through which God’s grace can pour to meet the needs of others and ourselves.  Remember, when the trials come our way we can either get bitter or get better.  The stones in our path can be either our stepping stone or tombstone.  Therefore, let us stop whining and start winning! (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

Some suggestions for living a life of thankfulness to God:

  • Be humble and focused on God (Jonah 2:8,9)

  • Be thankful for everyday blessings (Matthew 5:43-48)

  • Spend time in the Word of God to learn His promises and how He plans to fulfill them in your life daily (2 Peter 1:3,4)

  • Always thank God in the midst of adversity and trials (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

  • Record blessings in your Bible or a journal and continually reference them when you encounter difficulty (Malachi 3:16)

  • Express your gratitude publicly (Matthew 10:32,33)

  • Continue God’s cycle of thanksgiving by blessing others in the Spirit of Christ 2 Corinthians 9:10,11

Remember Tim S in prayer, he has struggled for over 40 years with grief over a lifestyle of drugs, even though he has been clean all these years he wonders about his sanity in light of the heavy drug use.

Robin M, almost the same request, except one difference, where Tim remembers all the things he did, Robing has lost 20 years of memories including friends and even family members, although functional, she has burnt out a huge chunk of her brain (her words)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

lasso that horse, partner

September 2, 2017

the Bible never says that the way to deal with lust is to pray about it. It commands me to flee (1 Cor. 6:18). It says that I should cleanse myself from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1). It commands me to walk in the Spirit so that I won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Pray, yes! But don’t just pray: Obey!

God puts the active responsibility for obedience in sexual purity on me. Somehow we’ve gotten the mixed‑up idea that actively to deny lust in obedience to the Lord involves the flesh. So we pray for deliverance and go on disobeying as if we can’t help it until that magic moment happens. But Paul never says, “Let go and let God give you victory over lust.” He says, “Run!” He says that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:11‑12). I need to do it and can do it! Otherwise, God wouldn’t command me to do it.

Part of fleeing is guarding myself in advance. I used to play games with this. I would go into a store to look at the news magazines (so I told myself). After a few minutes of doing that, I would find myself thumbing through Playboy or Penthouse, which were always conveniently nearby. (“How could I help it, Lord?”) But now I avoid stores where I could be tempted to browse through sexually explicit magazines. The man in Proverbs 7 wouldn’t have wound up in bed with the loose woman if he hadn’t first gone near the corner where she lived (see Prov. 7:8).

I’ve heard Christian speakers say that one way to guard against sexual sin is to be satisfied with your wife. It’s true that being sexually satisfied with her helps me not to be lured by lust for others. But I’m uncomfortable with the approach which puts the focus on my needs rather than on my responsibility.

My responsibility as a Christian husband is not to satisfy myself, but to satisfy my wife. I’ve found that my sexual satisfaction is the result of seeking to meet her needs on every level—spiritual, emotional, and physical. When I focus on that, she responds and my sexual needs are met.

A lot of men are sexually frustrated in their marriages because they approach sex to meet their own needs. Jesus’ words about seeking your life and losing it and losing your life to find it (Mark 8:35) apply to sex in marriage. If I approach my wife to satisfy my needs, neither of us feels fulfilled. But if I work at pleasing her, then I’m deeply satisfied. The best sexual times for me are when my wife is pleased.

I’ve had to tear down my sexual expectations which were built from Hollywood and Playboy and rebuild them from Scripture. The world promotes my needs above all else. It knows nothing of the self‑sacrifice which our Lord taught. Many Christians have unwittingly bought into this philosophy: “If my wife can’t meet my sexual needs, then I’ll have to meet them some other way. But my needs must be met.” But the Lord’s way is that I am to love my wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church. The blessed irony is that when I work at that, my needs are abundantly met. I can honestly say with gusto, “They have been!”

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “War is a terrible thing. But if you’re going to get into it, you’ve got to get into it all the way.” That’s true in the war against lust. You won’t win by being halfway into it. But if you’ll get into the battle all the way—God’s way, using His strategy—you can win!

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ENTITLEMENT

Ouch, apparently, I hit a nerve with yesterday’s devotion. Look at it from this standpoint.

Are there bad marriages, yes, are there bad parents, yes; are there struggling marriages, and struggling parents? Yes, you need to see the difference. One situation is likely to possibly get corrected. The other is like syphilis, contact is going to infect you.

The sad part is that parents and families that are failing, falling apart and flailing, are most often isolated by members of the church. No one wants to go to dinner after church with a family that always fights before they leave the church parking lot; or at the restaurant the kids are flinging food, pouring the salt shakers into their little siblings’ plate or screaming at a siren volume and the parents acting like zombies.

We have two choices, we walk away or step in.

We are called to be bold, decisive, teachers, mentors, or what I like to think of as “divine interrupters”.

We step in and help, have compassion, yes, sometimes we scold, spank, discipline and in rare occasions we cut off fellowship as a means of discipline if they are unrepentant.

Not what we here from the Name It and Claim It or prosperity group.

Fact, if your family doesn’t behave or your talking divorce at Joel Osteen’s church you are asked to leave. Why? Because they don’t like messy. In their world everything is perfect. Well the world you and I live in is messy.

So what steps do we take to intervene?

Firmly, but with love we step and be the mature, loving, stern adult.

First deal with what  seems to be the most contagious disease in the world today.

THE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT

THE CULTIVATION OF GOOD THINKING

Aren’t we whining when we focus on what is hard in our lives rather than God’s gracious provision? That response reveals an attitude of entitlement: “I deserve to have ____ (health, perfect children, good things, no struggles, etc.).” Shouldn’t we be thankful for what we do have rather than gripe about what we don’t?  Do I make that choice when faced with trials or even a difficult day? Do you?

I appreciate storm victims who express gratitude for their homes, their lives, and for the hard-working people trying to help them. I am sad for all the victims, even those who whine, recognizing how hard their situations must be.

“In everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

It’s biblical to express our grief and sorrow. Don’t think that joy precludes sadness. When we lament our losses, however, we should do so with thanksgiving for God’s sovereign work in the midst of our pain. When we focus on trusting him for the greater good, our perspectives change. We begin to recognize that all of life is grace; we aren’t entitled to anything. As we give thanks in everything, we begin to walk in joy, blessing others, giving glory to God, and in the process becoming witnesses to a watching world.

THE ONE THING WE HAVE FORGOTTEN TO TEACH ABOUT THREE GENERATIONS OF PEOPLE IS TO RECOGNIZE THE ADVANTAGE OF CHOOSING TO WAIT FOR THE BEST, BETTER AND BEAUTIFUL OF ALL THINGS BEING FULFILLED IN GOD’S TIMING AND NOT OUR OWN. AND THAT PUTTING OFF SHORT TERM IMMEDIATE FULFILLMENT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO HAVE THE BEST THAT GOD WANTS FOR OUR LIVES BY WAITING.

SO WE NEED TO TEACH…….

the dog house

Decision-making often involves choosing between short-term pleasure or short-term pain. (Usually it’s more like short-term inconvenience.)

Short-term pleasure often leads to long-term pain, and short-term pain often leads to long-term pleasure. What doesn’t work, and is a horribly unrealistic expectation for life, is short-term pleasure leading to long-term pleasure! (Wouldn’t THAT be nice?!)

Maturity and wisdom is displayed by the choices we make, especially when we exercise patience and self-control, not insisting on the instant-gratification jolt of “I want it NOW!!!” Many of our choices for pleasure in the right-now end up costing us down the road, causing pain later. You know, like that fourth brownie that tastes soooooo good in the moment, but then you can’t zip up your jeans a few days later. Or indulging your child’s demands and whims today because you want to be the “cool parent” and you want them to like you, but then you start to notice the ugliness of that child’s sense of self-absorbed entitlement. Short-term pleasure, even when that pleasure is simply trying to avoid pain, results in long-term unpleasant consequences.

But when we recognize the value of self-control and self-denial in the present, so that we can reap the harvest of pleasure in the future, that’s wisdom. Mark Twain advised, “Do one thing every day you don’t want to do.” That’s good advice, but of course God thought of that much earlier! Using self-control and self-denial is how we fulfill the biblical idea of not indulging the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Getting up early to spend time in God’s word costs you in the moment, but when it has become a habit, that daily time ingesting divine truth and wisdom transforms you. Putting a percentage of your income into savings is a discipline of self-denial in the present day, but it (literally) pays great dividends in the future. Even better, giving generously to Christ’s Kingdom now means you’re sending every penny ahead into your heavenly bank account where God will reward you!

One of my family members really resonated with “the doghouse” when he faced his alcoholism and made many, many decisions to choose the short-term pain of saying no to his desire to drink, and every day he now enjoys the long-term pleasure of a life he can fully enjoy in sobriety and self-control. Another man I know was faced with the decision to choose the short-term pain of integrity, owning and confessing his selfish behavior over several years, or the short-term pleasure of excusing and dismissing his choices that had hurt other people. He chose the short-term pleasure, and now lives in the long-term pain of diminished character and the loss of his family’s trust.

“The doghouse” is helpful for training children (and ourselves!) to think beyond the moment to what they want down the road. Do you want less stress in the morning by taking the time to get your books and clothes and lunch ready tonight? Short-term pain, long-term pleasure. If you give into the temptation to procrastinate (short-term pleasure), how much will you pay for it later (long-term pain)?

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to become My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) Denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus are all about short-term pain with major long-term pleasures!

“The doghouse” is a simple but powerful life-skills tool for your toolbox. What do you want to end up with, long-term pleasure or long-term pain? Choose well today.

SO GOD IS CALLING SOME OF YOU TO MENTOR, TO BE THE FUNCTIONAL ADULT.

PLEASE STEP UP TO THIS CALLING.

BLESSINGS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

PRAY FOR ANNE WHO IS ONE OF THE MOST SELFISH ADULT’S I’VE EVER MET, IF SHE DOESN’T CHANGE SHE IS GOING TO LOSE HER HUSBAND, HER CHILD AND HER SANITY.

PRAY FOR BENJAMIN, A NEW USA CITIZEN TODAY FROM NORWAY

PRAY FOR ELIZABETH G, LEFT HER MARRIAGE OF 35 YEARS, TO LEAVE FOR A 27 YEAR OLD POT SMOKING, GRANOLA,, MOTHER EARTH, UNEMPLOYED MALE NUT JOB, WHO ACCORDING TO HER “UNDERSTANDS HER”

PRAY FOR ED, THROAT CANCER.

BETTY GREEN, NEWLY SAVED CHRISTIAN AT AGE 23, GOING TO AN IVY LEAGUE COLLEGE AND IS PRAYING SHE SURVIVES HER FIRST SEMESTER BACK AS A CHRISTIAN. SHE LEAVES BEHIND HER FAMILY, CHURCH AND SUPPORT GROUP. WE HAVE CALLED A PASTOR NEAR HER AND HOPE AND PRAY SHE IS BRAVE.

 

THE STRUGGLING PARENT

September 1, 2017

WHY DID YOU BECOME A PARENT?

One of the hardest things in the world as a counselor is to sit there in a session and listen to two stupid people, so self-absorbed, so selfish, immature and worst of all totally unteachable. Which in my book makes them fools. But because of tradition and peer pressure (it never goes away) and parental badgering, they decide to become parents.

Yet the child has no real room in their world. I’m honestly beginning to think that a 13 year old pregnant girl who at least has some genuine desire to learn to be a parent is immensely better than the late 30 something that after 8-10 years of marriage (that sucks) gets it into their pea brain that a child is either timely, a fashion statement, or an attempt to make their marriage better.

Holy crap, sell the kid, they’ll have a better chance than the nanny child who will probably turn into Ted Bundy and kill their parents in bed. I’m not blaming the kid, I blame the totally selfish parents that have a kid just because their biological clock was ticking or it proves they are really a couple.

So their 2 year gets woke up at 530am, and is bundled off to the day care by 630am. The kid stays there till closing time 630pm not because the parents are working. No because neither parent wants to be alone with the kid. The mom is off work by 2pm, she goes shopping, or goes home and drinks a bottle of wine and then tells the husband who still working “she is to sick to pick up the kid.” Then on Saturday the call the nanny or drop the kid off at grandma’s. because they need couple time.

After they drop the kid off Saturday with grandma, they go out to breakfast in their separate cars because after breakfast they both have “their” errands to run.

You guessed it, the kid is at grandma’s till 8 pm where they feed the kid a meal he doesn’t need in the back seat of the car. The 2 year old is addicted to coca cola and has literally lost all his baby teeth due to cavities. After a huge temper tantrum, the kid gets put to bed and the parents drink themselves silly, have a fight and one sleeps on the couch.

It’s now Sunday and they come to church because that too is a ritual.

And then schedule marriage counseling to save their marriage.

And so how was your day?

So the moral of the story follows…

Just because a person becomes a parent doesn’t mean that he or she knows how to act like one. This is no more true than when kids become teens. You’ve probably seen it: a nervous parent groveling before a surly teen or trying to be a “buddy” rather than a parent. It makes one wonder: why do some parents feel so guilty about parenting with authority?

Unfortunately this is more than just an occasional outbreak of bad behavior—it’s an epidemic with at least one root cause: “I can’t be too hard on him. After all, I made lots of mistakes growing up and I don’t want to be a hypocrite!”

To parent well, we’ve got to swallow our feelings of guilt and hypocrisy and learn to speak openly and honestly about what is most important in life.

The Hypocrite-phobic Parent

If you have children still at home, chances are you’re a member of “Generation X.” You grew up with the ever-present mantra of “free sex, free drugs, no-absolute-truth.” I would say that at least half of the parents I visit with at homeschool conventions became interested in homeschooling because they wanted to protect their kids from the mistakes they themselves made growing up.

Yet when faced with dishonor and bad choices, these parents freeze. They know that once their kids get to be 8 or so, the hard questions will start coming: “Mom, did you ever lie to your parents? Dad, did you ever do something your parents had forbidden?” Or more serious, “Did you have sex outside of marriage? Did you ever abuse drugs or alcohol?”

Sadly, many parents would rather abdicate parenting all together than confront their children’s bad choices and risk the “hypocrite” charge. Even though parents know how awful today’s television programming is, for example, Mark Bauerlein in The Dumbest Generation points out that more than 80% of parents set no restrictions at all on their children’s television viewing.

Or more sobering, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a study in late 2006 showing that 57% of parents admit to “some degree of difficulty” in engaging teens in meaningful discussions about their friends, how they dress, and tough subjects like drug use.

If you feel disqualified to parent authoritatively because your own life was marred by self-centeredness, premarital sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse or divorce, here’s some good news: There are at least three ways to parent well in spite of having a checkered past. Let’s consider each in turn.

The Example of David: Seek Repentance

The first step to hypocrisy-free parenting is to do what great men and women have done for millennia: humble yourself before God and express sorrow for what you did. Consider the example of King David, starting with this passage written by his son, Solomon:

Listen, my sons, to a father’s discipline, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding, for I am giving you good instruction. Don’t abandon my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother, he taught me and said: ‘Your heart must hold on to my words. Keep my commands and live.’ Proverbs 4:1-4

It seems like a fairly standard bit of parenting advice until one considers who Solomon’s father was—King David! And who was Solomon’s mother? Bathsheba! How did David and Bathsheba come to be married? David committed adultery with Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother) and even had Bathsheba’s innocent, honorable husband killed to cover up his sin.

If living a blameless life was the criterion for giving wise counsel, David would certainly have been disqualified. Yet he did not use his sin as an excuse to avoid giving wise counsel to his son. Rather than abandon his parenting responsibility, David made a confession, asking to be made clean and steadfast so that he could use his life as an example to those who had gone astray:

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to you. Psalm 51:10-13

If you believe your past disqualifies you from wisely guiding your children, pray Psalm 51, as David did, asking God to make you steadfast in the truth so that you can impart wisdom to the next generation.

When I was just out of the military my father (just out of prison the first time) shared with me some of the poor choices he made when younger, and how ashamed he was of what he had done. As he shared, he wept. I found myself feeling uncomfortable, but moved to take my own choices more seriously.

What to Say in the Hard Conversations

The second step in hypocrisy-free parenting is brace yourself for the inevitable difficult conversations. Think now about what you’ll say then, so you won’t be caught unprepared. For example:

“I wish I could parent you based on having lived a perfect life, but that won’t be the case. I’ve made many tragic errors that have hurt a lot of people and brought dishonor to God.”

“Because of my past I must rely completely on God’s grace and His offer of forgiveness.”

“It’s embarrassing to have to admit my sins, but I need for you to know that my counsel to you is based on the wisdom God has revealed, not on my having lived a blameless life.”

“My point in telling you this is not to make excuses for myself or to give you an excuse for acting like I did, but to display the tragic effects of sin and the magnitude of God’s grace.”

“I understand if you’re thinking, ‘Why should I listen to you?’ I don’t blame you and I’m sorry that my example has led you to think that way. What I’m asking you to do, though, is not to follow my example but to learn from my mistakes and do what God has revealed is right.”

Ultimately our children are responsible for their own lives and choices. Statements like these aren’t guaranteed to prevent your children from making poor choices, but they will help prevent them from using your life experience as an excuse for their wrong-doing.

Taking Advantage of the Mentoring Moments

The third step in hypocrisy-free parenting is to exert an influence even when your son or daughter is being resistant.

. Here are 10 ideas of things you can do to create conversational space, even when it’s awkward.

  1. You can listen: “Tell me about what’s important to you…”

  1. You can give a blessing: “Has anyone ever told you that you have the gift of ___?”

  1. You can affirm: “Here’s something about you that makes a great deal of difference to me…”

  1. You can be transparent: “I’ve made mistakes in my life and I’d hate to see you go down that same path…”

  1. You can pray: “I’m not sure what to do either. Can I pray with you about it?”

  1. You can encourage: “I know it’s tough but I know you can do it.”

  1. You can teach: “May I share with you a Scripture verse that has been important to me?”

  1. You can admonish: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you?”

  1. You can love: “No matter what, I’ll be here.”

  1. Failing all else, you can just walk alongside: “Let’s go together.”

Tough conversations will come, but that doesn’t mean we must forfeit our responsibilities as parents. As the old saying goes, “You can’t have a new beginning, but you can start today to produce a new ending.”

Please make an effort to be a godly parent, realize you will stand before God and give an account of your life.

Don’t let guilt turn you into a helpless, non active parent or spouse.

It’s never to late to start.

Also pray that God brings people into your life and your child’s life that will listen and share without causing more guilt.

And if your closet is bigger than your garage buy birth control.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com