PASSIVE NO MORE

July 30, 2018

boxing

  “For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11).

  The growing Christian is often accused of passivity by the doing Christian. The Lord Jesus was not passive; the Apostle Paul was not passive; nor is the believer passive who seeks to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Compulsive activity is not necessarily fruitful, as the “works of the flesh” attest.

   I have pressed upon many of my younger students, not to give up their secular employment until the work of the Lord so increased upon them that they must give up one or the other.”

 The one who knows best the Father’s love will be the best advocate of that love—the best qualified servant for the Father to send on a mission of interest to those who are ignorant of it. Abide in Him. ‘The only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him’ (John 1:18).

  Under the Mosaic law-system, love for others was to be in the degree in which one loved himself; under grace it is to be in the degree in which the Lord Jesus has loved the believer and given His life for him (1 John 3:16).

  “Perversion of truth takes its rise from having the eye turned to man, and seeking to make the truth suit him, and not to conform man to the truth; so that the way to resolve this difference is by the simple question, Is it God-ward I am looking, or man-ward?” (GW)

  “If you only know the work of the Lord Jesus you are prepared to make sacrifices, but if you know Him as your life then you are ready to suffer for Him.”

  “So then death worketh in us, but life in you” (2 Cor 4:12).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Bobbie G, she is cutting off all relations with every relative, and shutting her self off from all her friends, we are all very concerned for her

Pray for Jacob, a 30 year old, non verbal autistic man, who has been sexually abused by his father and is just now coming for counseling

Pray for Wanda, she has lost one child at 15 to cancer, one child to suicide at 18, and now her son 40, has just confessed to her that he has aids.

Revival

March 5, 2018

THE CANDLE AND THE BIRD (an essay by F. W. Boreham)

It’s not often that I quote someone to this extent, but to try and re-write this would be a crime, so in its entirety from his book “The Golden Isles”

After reading this, you hopefully will feel inspired and encouraged about the spiritual condition of your nation.

To all peoples there come, sooner or later, periods in which the maintenance of a Christian life and an evangelistic testimony becomes so extremely difficult as to seem almost impossible. This spiritual sterility may be precipitated by any one of an innumerable array of causes—the horrors of war, with all their attendant hatreds and excitements; a wave of materialism, frivolity, or sensuality; the concentration of the public mind on subsidiary issues; or some other development that tends to hurl serious thought into obscurity.

But, whatever the cause, such distressing conditions do emerge; and the thing to be remembered at those times is that this unhappy state of affairs represents, not the snuffing out of a candle, but the frightening away of a bird. The distinction is vital. If you extinguish a light, the act is final: you plunge the room into darkness without creating any illumination elsewhere. The flame does not flash into being in some other part of the house. But if you startle a bird, the gentle creature flies away and sings its lovely song upon some other bough.

Several illustrations of this essential principle confront us in the annals of the early Church. A time came when, at Antioch, the Jews refused Paul and Barnabas a hearing. `Very well’, exclaimed the Apostles, `it was necessary that the Word of God should first have been preached to you; but, seeing ye put it from you, lo, we turn to the Gentiles!’ The light was not snuffed out. The bird flew to another bough, that was all!

A little later, the two Apostles journeyed through Asia, intending to preach the word in every city. But, to their dismay, every door was closed against them. They were amazed and bewildered. But when they reached the end of the long road and saw nothing but the sea in front of them, a vision was vouchsafed to Paul. He saw a man of Macedonia bidding him cross the intervening waters and invade Europe!

Think what these two transitions have meant to history—the evangelization of the Gentiles and the conquest of Europe! And when you have grasped their momentous significance, you will have realized the importance of the principle that we have set ourselves to establish. When the Church is overwhelmed by an apparently crushing reverse, it is never the snuffing out of a candle: it is always the frightening away of a bird.

I

That principle is inherent in the eternal scheme of things. On the ancient monuments of Egypt there are crude drawings representing the soul, in the form of a bird, leaving the body of the monarch or hero to whom the memorial has been raised. In the form of a bird, mark you! Even the ancients felt that death is not the snuffing out of a candle; it is the escape of a bird. There is a divine element in humankind—an element which no tomb can imprison. And, similarly, there is a divine element in the Church-an element that no persecuting fires can devour and that no convulsion can destroy.

It was a dark day for the faith when, in the seventh century, the Saracens swept through the world, obliterating the Cross, overthrowing the Churches, and converting into Mohammedan mosques the most imposing Christian and Jewish structures. It certainly looked as if a glorious light had been put out. Yet, at the very moment at which all this was taking place in the old world, something of infinite significance was happening on an obscure group of mist-enshrouded islands in the northern seas.

Paulinus and the other missionaries whom Augustine had led into England caught the ear of the court and of the people; the preparatory work of St. Columba in Scotland and of St. Patrick in Ireland began to bear fruit; and thus, whilst Christianity was suffering eclipse among the lands of Yesterday, it was laying a powerful and formative hand upon the lands of To-morrow.

Similarly, on the very day on which the French mob tore the Cross from Notre Dame in Paris and angrily abjured the Christian faith, William Carey landed in India and claimed a new continent for the Saviour whom France was renouncing. Both events took place on November 11, 1793. A pessimist in France would have regarded the act of the populace as the extinction of a great light: anybody who reviews the incident in the calm perspective of history can see that it was merely the frightening away of a bird.

II

I cherish the hope that, one of these days, a writer learned in such lore, and with a flair for such a task, will trace the influence of this principle upon the history of revivals. Few studies are more stimulating than the study of those tremendous movements that have swept like a divine fire across the various nations. They stir the blood and quicken to new life the most sluggish and apathetic soul. But the striking thing about these historic revivals is that they are so transient, so evanescent, so temporary. They never endure. And the fact that, although so obviously divine, they never endure, sufficiently proves that they were never meant to endure. Martin Luther used to say that a religious revival always exhausts itself in thirty years. Isaac Taylor set a more liberal limit: he fixed fifty years as the maximum period: no revival, he declared, ever lasted longer than that. But the question that immediately concerns us is not the question as to how long a revival can last, but as to what happens when it fades out. And the answer to that question is that it never fades out. If it seems to vanish at one place, it is only that it may appear at another. For the end of a revival is invariably the beginning of a revival. Its termination is never the snuffing out of a candle: it is always the frightening away of a bird.

Is there, in our own annals, or in the annals of any other country, the record of a revival comparable with the Puritan revival of the seventeenth century? Beyond the shadow of a doubt, it was a period of divine illumination. Like the sunrise playing simultaneously upon many snow-capped peaks, the light was caught and reflected by many totally diverse but really majestic personalities. John Hampden, George Fox, and Samuel Rutherford, for example, have little or no connection with each other, yet each represents a focal point in this celestial movement. As we project our minds into that memorable time, the stately and satisfying figures, the sturdy and eloquent faces of Oliver Cromwell, John Milton, and John Bunyan, moving amidst a cloud of kindred spirits, leap at once to our minds. We instinctively feel that Puritanism was no frolic of circumstance, no freak of history. The movement that has left as its indestructible monuments such works as Paradise Lost and The Pilgrim’s Progress can only be regarded as a heavenly revelation. The Puritans, as Macaulay says, were `men who, instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, aspired to gaze full on His intolerable brightness and to commune with Him face to face’. The entire country was made to feel that God was palpitatingly near: the hush of the eternal brooded over city and hamlet. With the light of heaven on their faces and the fear of God in their hearts, the Puritans overhauled and rearranged everything. They put the king in his right place, and the Parliament in its right place, and the Bible in its right place, and the Church in its right place; and they did all this by putting God in His right place; they enthroned Him as Head over all. It was a time in which earth seemed crammed with heaven, and the songs of the angels filled with divine melody the English sky.

It was very wonderful; but it did not last. The spirit of Puritanism decayed with the accession of Puritanism to political authority. As soon as it became fashionable to dress as the Puritans dressed, to talk as the Puritans talked, and to do as the Puritans did, all people became Puritans. They might have felt no regenerating power in their hearts, but they could at least wear drab clothing, allow their hair to fall about their shoulders, interlard their conversations with pious ejaculations and give to their children biblical names. And then, the movement having become rotten within, it quickly received its deathblow from without. Two years after the death of Cromwell, the Stuarts were restored to power. A swing of the pendulum immediately followed. The nation experienced one of those violent reactions that so frequently mark the pages of history. Paradise was lost.

III

No revival, according to Isaac Taylor, can live for half a century. Fifty years after Puritanism had achieved its crowning triumphs, England was knee-deep in mire. The glory had departed, and its departure had broken Milton’s heart. Joseph Addison, who cherished the spirit and ideals of the Puritans in an age that had renounced and repudiated Puritanism deplored the fact that English standards and English manners had fallen to their lowest ebb. Politics had degenerated into an undignified squabble; society was as corrupt as it could very well be; music, art and literature were all degraded; the sports and pastimes of life were universally squalid and usually obscene; religion itself had become formal, sanctimonious and largely hypocritical. `Even the saint’, says Addison, `was of a sorrowful countenance and generally eaten up with spleen and melancholy.’ And, worst of all, the number of people who saw anything to be deplored in all this was so small as to be almost negligible.

Now the question is, did this degeneracy represent the snuffing out of a candle or the frightening away of a bird? Let us attempt to survey a wider horizon in the hope of sighting the tree to which the bird has flitted! And what is this?

On the morning of August 13, 1727—eight years after Addison’s early death—a number of young people were gathered for prayer at Herrnhut in Germany. Count Zinzendorf, the leader of the little band, was only twenty-seven, and it is doubtful if any of the others were very much older. What happened they could never precisely define. All that they could say was that a radiant sense of the nearness of Christ suddenly visited them, and, when their little gathering broke up at noon, they `scarcely knew whether they still belonged to the earth or had actually gone to heaven’. In telling the story of their lustrous experience to their friends, the wondering hearers quickly contracted the sacred contagion.

Thus was born the Moravian movement—one of the most intensely spiritual and most passionately missionary organizations of all time. Fifty years before William Carey had inaugurated the era of organized missions to the heathen, these inspired Moravians had undertaken the evangelization of the world. Within five years of that memorable meeting at Herrnhut, they had sent missionaries to the Negro of the West Indies and to the Eskimo in the frozen North, quickly following these experimental ventures by despatching evangelists, not only to every country in Europe, but to the four quarters of the globe. See, sings William Cowper,

See Germany send forth

Her sons to preach Christ in the farthest North;

Fired with a zeal peculiar, they defy

The rage and rigour of a Polar sky,

And plant successfully sweet Sharon’s rose

On icy plains and in eternal snows.

When, later in the century, William Carey endeavoured to persuade the English Baptists to initiate a missionary crusade, he held in his hand the inspiring records of the Moravians. Throwing the pamphlet on the table, he exclaimed: `See what these Moravians have done! Cannot we follow their example and in obedience to our heavenly Master go out into all the world and preach the gospel?’

Now the striking thing is that this impressive and fruitful outbreak in Germany exactly synchronized with the evaporation of the Puritan revival in England. It was not that a light had been extinguished: it was that a bird had been frightened away.

IV

But, like the English movement, the German movement also spent itself. That never-to-be-forgotten meeting at Herrnhut was held in 1727. Whilst those young people were passing through that Pentecostal experience, Voltaire was bending over the finished manuscript of his first book. The writings of Voltaire quickly captivated the mind of a young German prince who was destined to be known to history as Frederick the Great. Frederick at once entered upon an admiring correspondence with the brilliant Frenchman, eventually inviting him to share the splendours of his palace at Berlin. And, in the hurricane of materialism and militarism that swept over Germany under that regime, the Moravian movement shared the melancholy fate that had befallen Puritanism in England.

But had the light been extinguished? Was it that a candle had been put out or that a bird had been frightened popular atmosphere for evangelism. This was his supreme triumph. In his famous Memoirs, Greville graphically describes Mr. Spurgeon—whose physique struck him as singularly reminiscent of Macaulay’s—preaching, at an ordinary service, to nine thousand people. It impressed him, as it impressed all thoughtful observers, as an arresting and epoch-making development. It forced the evangelical pulpit into the glare of public attention. The world was compelled to take notice. It made thinkable and possible the work of all those ministers and evangelists who have since captured the attention of the populace. And it is only when we attempt to estimate the spiritual, ethical, and civil value of the impact of Mr. Spurgeon’s flaming intensity upon each individual unit in the surging crowds that flocked every Sunday with wistful hearts to hear him that we realize how generously and how vitally he contributed to the new order that sprang into being in his time.

And so we bring our study down to within living memory. Let no person become unduly depressed because, here or there, the good work seems to flag. If, with us, the sun seems to be setting, you may depend upon it that other people, far away, are gratefully greeting the dawn. In a public reading-room, I one day picked up a London journal in which I read a series of somewhat dismal letters concerning `The Dearth of Conversions’. On the very same table I found a couple of magazines. One contained an article by Dr. A. W. Hitchcock, telling of the sensational progress of the work of God in Korea, whilst the other told of a single church on the Congo that is welcoming to its membership more than five hundred converts a year. And thus—

… while the tired waves, vainly breaking,

Seem here no painful inch to gain,

Far off, through creeks and inlets making,

Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,

When daylight comes, comes in the light,

In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,

But westward, look, the land is bright!

So true is it that a period of spiritual sterility invariably represents, not the extinguishing of a candle, but the frightening away of a bird. I have here attempted but a few fugitive illustrations. It will be the duty of that happy historian who undertakes to expound the principle more exhaustively to show that there have been times when the holy flame has visited other lands than those which I have mentioned, flitting from Holland to Switzerland, and from hemisphere to hemisphere. Often it has confined itself to no national frontiers, but has swept across an area that has included many peoples. But the principle is the same. When we have occasion to lament the spiritual poverty immediately around us, we may be sure that the bird that has forsaken us is singing his lovely song, to somebody else’s rapture, on a distant bough. And so it shall continue until that day dawns for which the Church has ever prayed, when the Holy Dove shall feel equally at home on every shore and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

F W Boreham, ‘The Candle and the Bird’, Boulevards of Paradise (London: The Epworth Press, 1944), 103-113.

What a great truth, do not despair if your home, your state, your nation is in a spiritual decline, for that Holy Dove is a lit somewhere else.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Tim G, he pastors a small church in a small town and his stance on holy living is causing the whole town to turn against him. The church has cut his already small salary, they’ve killed one of his dogs. A wave of discouragement hit him this week and he almost quit. Several ‘old timers’ met with him today and prayed for a breakthrough. Keep him and his wife and two kids in prayer.

Several of us drove down with him and the wives refilled his pantry and we fixed things around the house and we all chipped in some money to help him through the month. Pray this candle burns bright.

 

Paid in Full

February 26, 2018

My three favorite books of the Bible, Genesis, Isaiah, and Romans. If I could have only one Book it would be Romans. I’ve done more sermons in the Book of Romans and more in chapter 7 and 8; so here is one of my favorite passages.

Romans 8:1-13

In Romans 7, Paul showed us that Christians still wrestle with remaining, indwelling sin are defined in the Glossary.. He says: “But what I hate I do” (7:15). But, at the same time, Christians have experienced a revolution in consciousness—a real disgust over sin and (now) an inability to find any lasting pleasure in it: “But what I hate I do.” These two facts keep us from either the legalism that says: Real Christians don’t struggle with sin anymore, or the permissiveness that says: Real Christians are human; they sin just like anyone else. The Spirit of God has come in and transformed our “inner being” and self (7:22) so we want God and holiness, but our “flesh” or “sinful nature” is still powerful enough to keep us from doing what our new desires want.

But Romans 7 does not say everything about the Christian life. Our new condition—a “double nature”—can actually lead to more distress unless we “live … according to the Spirit” (8:4*.). Paul gives us directions on how to live in the Spirit. Unless we do, we will find ourselves continually doing what we hate.

No Condemnation

Before showing us how to live according to God’s Spirit, though, Paul wants to show us how God’s Son has given us life. Verse 1 begins “therefore”—he could be reaching right back to sections such as 3:21-27 (as John Stott suggests) or to the previous two chapters (Douglas Moo’s position), where Paul has characterized the Christian as one in whom sin is still powerful, but whose inner “true” self is “a slave to God’s law” (7:25), and who can look forward to being rescued “from this body of death … through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

However far back in his letter Paul is looking, the great truth of 8:1 is captured in two words: “no condemnation *.” These two words tell us of our position as Christians. To be “not condemned” is, of course, a legal term; it means to be free from any debt or penalty. No one has any charges against you. A person who is in Christ Jesus is not under any condemnation from God. Paul already said this in Romans 5:16 and 18.

This is tremendous! It means God has nothing against us! He finds no fault in us. He finds nothing to punish us for.

However, the phrase Paul uses is not simply that Christians are “not condemned.” This is a much stronger phrase than that. He says that for Christians there is no condemnation at all. It doesn’t exist for us. It’s not that we have moved out from under it for a while, but that it could return. No; there is no condemnation for us at all—it doesn’t exist anymore.

The reason it is important to mention this is that many think that a Christian is only temporarily out from under condemnation. Many want to limit the meaning of this phrase to our past, or to our past and present. But Paul is saying categorically that condemnation no longer exists at all for a believer. It is not waiting in the wings to come back and cloud our future!

Many believe that Christians who confess sin and then live a good life are forgiven and are, at that moment, not condemned. But they believe that, should they sin, they are back under condemnation until they confess and repent again. In other words, if a Christian man were to sin, he would again come under condemnation and could be lost if he died in that state. If this were true, then Christians would be people who are always moving back and forth, in and out of condemnation.

But this view doesn’t square at all with the comprehensiveness and intensity of Paul’s statement. Paul says quite literally that condemnation itself no longer exists for us—“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). Thus, the moment we come into Christ Jesus, condemnation is gone forever. There is no more condemnation left for us—it is gone. There can never be condemnation for us. There is nothing but acceptance and welcome for us!

The Problem of Forgetfulness

The great twentieth-century Welsh preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that: “Most of our troubles are due to our failure to realize the truth of this verse.” What happens if we forget that there is “now no condemnation”?

On the one hand, we feel far more guilt, unworthiness and pain than we should. From this may come drivenness from a need to “prove ourselves”; great sensitivity to criticism, defensiveness; a lack of confidence in relationships; a lack of confidence and joy in prayer and worship; and even addictive behavior, which can be a reaction to a deep sense of guilt and unworthiness.

On the other hand, we will have far less motivation to live a holy life. We have fewer resources for self-control. Christians who don’t understand “no condemnation” only obey out of fear and duty. That is not nearly as powerful a motivation as love and gratitude. If we don’t grasp the full wonder of “now no condemnation,” we will understand each word of the rest of 8:1-13, but completely miss the sense of it! Lloyd-Jones summed this up with a useful illustration:

“The difference between an unbeliever sinning and a Christian sinning is the difference between a man transgressing the laws of … [the] State, and … a husband [who] has done something he should not do in his relationship with his wife. He is not breaking the law, he is wounding the heart of his wife. That is the difference. It is no longer a legal matter, it is a matter of personal relationship and … love. The man does not cease to be the husband [legally, in that instance]. Law does not come into the matter at all … In a sense it is now something much worse than a legal condemnation. I would rather offend against a law of the land objectively outside me, than hurt someone whom I love … [In that case] You have sinned, of course, but you have sinned against love … [so] You may and you should feel ashamed, but you should not feel condemnation, because to do so is to put yourself back ‘under the law.’”

(Romans Chapters 7:1 – 8:4, pages 271-272)

No Slavery

Verse 1, then, reminds us of the central argument of Romans 1 – 7: there is no condemnation for sin for believers. Verse 2 explains a second aspect to God’s victory, on our behalf, over sin—there is now no bondage to sin, either. “Through Christ Jesus” (v 2)—through faith in him—”the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” As we saw in Romans 7 (see Romans 1 – 7 For You, page 168), Paul uses the word “law” to mean:

God’s law or standards.

A general principle.

A force or power.

So in 8:2, “the law” seems fairly clearly to carry the third meaning. The Holy Spirit comes to free us from bondage to the sin within our hearts. So verse 1 tells us we are delivered from the legal condemnation of sin; verse 2 that we are being delivered from the actual power of sin. Put another way, salvation deals with our legal guilt (v 1) and our internal corruption (v 2).

Some people wonder about the relationship of verse 1 to verse 2. Paul basically says: There is no condemnation for Christians because the Holy Spirit frees us from sin. This could be read to mean that our sanctification by the Holy Spirit is the cause or the ground of our justification —that it is as we fight sin and obey God that we are made right with God.

But all of Romans up to this point denies that. Instead, Paul is likely saying: We know we are out of condemnation because God has sent the Holy Spirit into our life to free us from sin.

How God Did It

In verses 3-4, Paul shows us how God has achieved the two aspects of salvation (no guilt, no bondage). First, God sent his Son to become human (“in the likeness of sinful man,” v 3) and become a sin offering. In other words, the death of Christ defeats sin legally, by paying the debt. Second, God did this not simply to defeat sin legally, but to wipe it out actually in our lives: “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who … [live] according to the Spirit.” The work of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to obey the law (albeit never perfectly, and thus never in a way that contributes to, nor undermines, our salvation). The great British pastor John Stott explained it this way:

“We are set free from the law as a way of acceptance, but obliged to keep it as a way of holiness. It is as a ground of justification that the law no longer binds us … But as a standard of conduct the law is still binding, and we seek to fulfill it as we walk according to the Spirit.” (Men Made New, pages 82-83)

But why did God send his Son to bear our condemnation, and send his Spirit to break our bondage? Verse 4 tells us that everything Christ did for us—his incarnation (“sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man,” v 3), his death and his resurrection—was all in order (for the purpose) that we might live a holy life. This is an amazing point. The thing Jesus lives for, the purpose of his entire life, is to make us holy, fulfilling “the righteous requirements of the law.” This is the greatest possible motive for living a holy life. Whenever we sin, we endeavor to frustrate the aim and purpose of the entire life, death and ministry of Jesus Christ! If this doesn’t work as an incentive for living a holy life, nothing will.

Mind Matters

In the rest of this section (indeed, in the rest of the chapter), Paul is going to focus on the second great benefit of being “in Christ”—overcoming sin in our lives. After all, as he has shown in heartfelt detail in chapter 7, not only is there no hope in ourselves for our salvation, but there is also no hope in ourselves for our obedience. For any real change, we cannot rely on our own efforts, but only, as Paul now explains, on the work of the Spirit.

How do we overcome sin with the Spirit? Or, to put it another way, how do we “live in accordance with the Spirit” (8:5), in the way that our inner self truly desires (7:22)? The people who do this are those who “have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (8:5). Paul says that the connection between living and thinking is a tight and close one. Literally he says: “For those being according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh, but those being according to the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.” In other words, whatever you have set your mind on shapes your lifestyle and character. What does it mean to “mind” something or “set the mind”? Even in English, when the word “mind” is used as a verb, it has a stronger meaning than simply “to think about.” It means to focus intently on something, to be preoccupied with something, to have the attention and the imagination totally captured by something.

The twentieth-century Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once said: “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” In other words, wherever your mind goes most naturally and freely when there is nothing else to distract it—that is what you really live for. That is your religion. Your life is shaped by whatever preoccupies your mind. The overcoming of sin in our lives begins in our minds; and victory over sin is only ever the result of having minds set on the Spirit.

Questions for Reflection

Do you ever feel under condemnation? What causes you to feel this way; and how will you make sure you remember “there is now no condemnation” next time?

In what way(s) will knowing that Jesus’ ministry was in order to make you holy motivate you to live differently today?

What do you do with your solitude? How will you fix your thoughts on the gospel today?

Part Two

The Things of the Spirit

So a successful fight against sin begins by “mind[ing] … the things of the Spirit” (8:5, AV translation). This is not the same thing as simply thinking about religion all the time, or theology in general. The “things” of the Spirit would be those things to which the Spirit draws attention; to “mind” the Spirit would be to be preoccupied by the things that preoccupy the Spirit.

What are those things? In the rest of chapter 8, we will see that the Spirit comes to show us that we are sons and daughters of the Lord. We will explore this more in the next chapter, but it is worth seeing here what the “things” or truths the Spirit wants us to “mind” are:

Verse 14 will tell us that: “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Verses 15-16 will tell us that the Spirit removes a fear of rejection and assures us that we are God’s beloved children.

Verses 26-27 will tell us that the Spirit gives us confidence to approach God in prayer.

In other words, the rest of Romans 8 tells us what the Spirit is preoccupied with: how in Christ we are adopted, loved and welcomed.

A parallel passage is Colossians 3:1-4: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated … your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Here, Paul tells us to be preoccupied with “things above”: We are to remember that we have been raised with Christ and are accepted in him before the Father. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned here, but the principle is the same. We are to be preoccupied with our standing in Christ. We are to drill into our minds and hearts his love and adoption of us. To “mind … the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5) means never to forget our privileged standing or the fact that we are loved, and to let this dominate our thinking, our perspectives, and therefore our words and actions.

Everybody Minds Something

Ultimately, Paul says, everyone will “mind” something—we will either be preoccupied by the things of the Spirit, or “the sinful nature” (v 5). “Sinful nature” is how the NIV1984 translates the Greek word sarx—ESV and NIV2011 render it “flesh.” It is the desires and would-be-dictates of our senses, a worldview that is worldly rather than godly and self-centered rather than Christ-focused.

Whatever preoccupies the mind controls the life—and one preoccupation results in death, the other in life and peace (v 6). Clearly, someone who does not possess the Spirit of God, and is therefore not a Christian (v 9b), is facing the eternal death of just condemnation from God. But it is not simply, or even primarily, future life and death that Paul has in view here. Rather, he is referring to the brokenness and sense of dislocation that are experienced in this life by those who “have their minds set on what [the sinful] nature desires” (v 5). God created mankind to flourish in relationship with him, enjoying knowing him as we live in his world. So being controlled by our own desires rather than his can only lead to a life that is far less than life should be. It must lead to conflict (internally and with others) instead of peace, to slavery instead of freedom (see Romans 6), and to death rather than life.

We can take any negative emotion and see how this works out. Let’s say I am becoming extremely worried about something. Concern is unavoidable unless you are a totally uncaring and indifferent person. If you care about causes or people or goals, you will worry or have concerns. But if the worry becomes debilitating , it is because I am forgetting that I am a child of God, and that my heavenly Father would only exercise his control over the universe in a way that would be loving to his own. Over-worry is forgetting the “things of the Spirit.”

Another example is when guilt and a sense of unworthiness drive us. A sign of this is when we take on too many things, when we assume a crushing number of responsibilities, because we are trying to “work off” or “make up for” our sin. In this case, we are also forgetting the “things of the Spirit.” 1 John 3:20 says: “Whenever our hearts condemn us … God is greater than our hearts.” If we remember we are adopted children, we “go over the head” of our hearts when we feel unworthy.

Hostile to God

Romans 8:7 is simple and stark: “The sinful mind is hostile to God.” The mind is not neutral ground, and cannot love one preoccupation without rejecting the other. A mind “that is set on the flesh” (ESV translation) must also be treating God and the desires of his Spirit as an enemy. This is why our minds are, naturally, unable to deal with sin. We may realize that a particular impulse is unhelpful, or that a certain course of action is destructive. We may even decide to cut it out, and may do so successfully. But the root of sin is still implanted in the mind—hostility to God. So sin will still grow unchecked in our lives.

And that hostility makes us incapable of pleasing God. Verse 8 is an equally striking statement: “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Left to ourselves, we are totally unable to live in a way that causes our Creator to approve of us. Why? Because the mind that drives the actions is acting out of hostility to him. The person controlled by their own flesh is able to have a thought that is good, or perform an action that is right. But it cannot please God, since it is thought or done in enmity toward him.

Here is a helpful illustration: a man in a rebel army may look after his comrades, may keep his uniform smart, and so on. Those are “good”—but they are done in hostility to the rightful ruler. You would never expect that ruler to hear of this rebel’s conscientiousness or generosity and be pleased by his conduct in rebellion!

But none of this needs to be, or ought to be, the way “you”—Christians—live (v 9). Every Christian is “controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit,” since the Spirit lives in anyone who belongs to Christ. When we received Christ and became righteous in God’s sight, the Holy Spirit came in and made us spiritually alive. The Christian has a body that is decaying (v 10), yet also enjoys a spirit, a mind, that is alive.

And, Paul says, not only must our spirits/minds not follow our flesh now, but one day our flesh will follow our spirit. In Greek thought, the physical was bad, to be rejected and hopefully one day to be left behind; the spiritual was good, to be embraced. Verse 11 overturns all this: ”He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Someday, even our bodies will be totally renewed and made eternally alive by the Spirit. There is no dualism (body bad, spirit good) here—one day, both will be perfected.

For now, though, there is still within us the remaining sinful nature, which is hostile and inimical to our growing spiritual life. And even as we look forward to our bodies being given life (v 11), we must “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (v 13—the end of this verse is best seen as the end of a sentence, unlike in the NIV). As John Stott argues, Paul is still likely referring to an experience of life, and death, now—not in the future. Paul says here: If you let the remaining sinful nature alone—if you allow it to prosper and grow—there will be terrible trouble. Instead, you must by the Spirit attack and put it to death. The more you put to death the sinful nature, the more you will enjoy the spiritual life that the Holy Spirit gives—life and peace (v 6).

Mortification

This process of “putting to death” is what earlier theologians used to call “mortification.” They got it from the old King James Version translation of the verse: “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (v 13).

So what do verses 12-13 tell us about what mortification is, and how we do it? First, it means a ruthless, full-hearted resistance to sinful practice. The very word translated as “put to death” (Greek word thanatoute) is violent and total. It means to reject totally everything we know to be wrong; to declare war on attitudes and behaviors that are wrong—give them no quarter, take no prisoners, pull out all the stops.

This means a Christian doesn’t play games with sin. You don’t aim to wean yourself off it, or say: I can keep it under control. You get as far away from it as possible. You don’t just avoid things you know are sin; you avoid the things that lead to it, and even things that are doubtful. This is war!

Second, it means changing one’s motivation to sin by remembering to apply the gospel . This process of “mortification” goes deeper than merely resisting sinful behavior. It looks at the motives of the heart. Verse 12 says: “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature.” This is a critical statement. “Therefore” refers to the statement before, in which Paul tells us we have been redeemed by Christ’s righteousness and will someday be totally delivered from all evil and pain in the bodily resurrection. Then Paul turns and says: “Therefore … we have an obligation…” Some translations express it differently: “We are debtors, not to the flesh” (NRSV). Paul means that if we remember what Christ has done and will do for us, we will feel the obligations of love and gratitude to serve and know him.

Paul is saying that sin can only be cut off at the root if we expose ourselves constantly to the unimaginable love of Christ for us. That exposure stimulates a wave of gratitude and a feeling of indebtedness. Sin can only grow in the soil of self-pity and a feeling of “owed-ness.” I’m not getting a fair shake! I’m not getting my needs met! I’ve had a hard life! God owes me; people owe me; I owe me! That’s the heart attitude of “owed-ness” or entitlement. But, Paul says, you must remind yourself that you are a debtor. If you bathe yourself in the remembrance of the grace of God, that will loosen, weaken and kill sin at the motivational level.

Therefore, “put to death” (v 13) is just a sub-set under “mind the things of the Spirit” (v 5). Mortification withers sin’s power over you by focusing on Christ’s redemption in a way that softens your heart with gratitude and love; which brings you to hate the sin for itself, so it loses its power of attraction over you.

In summary, then, we kill sin in the Spirit when we turn from sinful practices ruthlessly and turn our heart from sinful motivations with a sense of our debt to love and grace, by minding the things of the Spirit.

Preaching Grace to Our Minds

This means that, if we are serious about mortifying the misdeeds of the body (and verses 6 and 13 should offer sufficient motivation to take this seriously!), we need to preach grace-centered mini-sermons to ourselves throughout our day, and especially when tempted.

Remember, your life is an expression of your mind (v 5). And many Christians try to control themselves with law-centered mini-sermons. We say to ourselves things like: If I do that, God will get me or: It’s against my Christian principles or: It will hurt people around me or: I will be embarrassed or: It will hurt my self-esteem or: I’ll hate myself in the morning. Some or all of these may be true—but Paul tells us they are inadequate! They don’t kill sin. That is taking your temptation to the law and using fear to deter yourself.

But we are to use the logic of the gospel on ourselves. Look what God’s done for me! Is this how I respond to him? We’re to take our temptations to the gospel, and find God’s love for us, in sending his Son to the cross and his Spirit into our hearts, showing us the vileness of that sin, motivating us to love our Savior, and removing our desire to live according to the flesh.

Here is how one Puritan pastor, John Owen, preached to his heart with the gospel:

“What have I done? What love, mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on? Is this the return I make to the Father for his love, to the Son for his blood, to the Holy Spirit for his grace? Do I thus requite the Lord? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash? … What can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? … Do I account communion with him of so little value? … Shall I endeavor to disappoint the [very purpose] of the death of Christ?” (John Owen, On the Mortification of Sin in Believers)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Matthew, he’s been really ill and in the last week has been rushed to the emergency room twice, they still don’t know what’s happening.

Pray for Rosie, cancer in her ear, removed a tumor the size of a grape. Long process ahead for her, she’s 36. Pray for healing and calmness.

The School of Faith part two

February 13, 2018

God wants you to know if your faith is real or whether it is bogus. Your faith is more precious than gold, 1 Peter 1:7, and again I want to tell you that a faith that cannot be tested, cannot be trusted.

Now, so many times we get the idea that if we’re trusting God—that if we are obeying God, if we’re doing what God has tell us told to be—it will be all milk and honey. As a matter of fact, that it’ll be all honey and no bees. That is not necessarily so. So many times when we get saved we say, “Now, wonderful, I’ve trusted God and He’s brought me into the land of plenty.” We think it’s all milk and honey, but it’s not necessarily so.

You’re going to meet the devil, you’re going to be tested in many, many ways. And, many of us are tested in ways after we got saved in ways that we never were before we got saved. Sometimes we get married and we think, “Oh, this is the land of milk and honey.” And, God brings heartaches and tears and trials right into the land of promise. And, you know, it is so. Sometimes in our prayer life we pray—and we’ve been told prayer is the land of promise—to trust God. And, we pray and people have simplified this matter of prayer. And they say, well, you know, God always answers prayer. Sometimes He says, “Yes,” and sometimes He says, “No,” but He always answers prayer. (make sure you keep reading).

Sometimes He doesn’t say anything. Have you noticed that? I mean, sometimes you just pray and you don’t seem to get an answer. And, I mean, it just seems to be darkness out there. Famine in the land of plenty. Sometimes we go to church and we get the idea that, you know over in church everything’s going to be wonderful. Oh boy! You know, all the sinners are out there and all the saints are in here. Ain’t necessarily so folks. I think it was one great theologian who said that, “The church is kind of like Noah’s ark,” he said “We wouldn’t be able to stand the stench if it weren’t for the storm outside.”

I’m not saying that the church is a failure. I’m not saying that at all. But friend, I’m going to tell you whether it be in your prayer life, whether it be in your marriage, whether it be in your salvation, whether it be in your church life, or wherever it is God will bring you into the land of plenty, but He’s going to test you there. He’s going to test you there in ways you’ve never thought. He’s going to see what your reactions are going to be. Go and read the book of Judges, just read chapter 2, a land filled with lots of ‘ites’, Hittites, Canaanites, all these ‘ites’ with just one idea, something more appealing to your 5 senses.

When testing comes don’t try to understand it. Learn something else. As Christians we do not live by explanation. We live by promises. We do not live by explanations. God has not promised to explain it to you. As a matter of fact, he says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8).

Real faith is obeying in spite of circumstances or consequences. Did you hear it? Real faith is obeying in spite of circumstances, a famine, or consequences. If I perish, I perish. I am going to go where God sends me, and I’m going to stay where God puts me until God moves me. I’m going to live by faith.

God will test your faith to find out whether you have the real thing. Now, God knows, but he wants you to know. God’s not trying to find out something about you, He wants you to find out something about you.

I’ve said this many times, being a Christian may be the hardest thing you ever do.

Stay tuned

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Nurses, especially Surgical Nurses in general, do you know they have one of the highest divorce rates. They harden themselves to not feel all the pain going on around them and they don’t realize they are shutting out their families as well.

We’ve started a group therapy for nurses to reconnect with their feelings and families and it has been amazing. And helping them to become better time managers and not get burned out if they want to stay in their career field.

 

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.

my feet like Hind feet

January 24, 2018

You may not be familiar with the book, it’s a great little devotional book. “Hind’s feet on High Places” it’s been around for a while I highly recommend it.

Together forever

[God] hath raised us up together; and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

  In the first stage of our Christian life we seek to bring the Lord Jesus down to our level, for our use; later on we learn to take our position in Him at His level, for His use.

 The desire of many and the tendency of all is to connect the Lord Jesus with ourselves on this earth, instead of accepting that we are in living union with Him in heaven. The Lord give us to apprehend the reality of our true position; that we are outside this scene when we are in our true place. We are thankful that Christ was here, and that He made a pathway through the wilderness, but now we have  to properly come from Him in glory to learn the path and to find His blessing in it.

If you do not know about your union with the Lord Jesus in heaven, you cannot come out in the power of the new creation to act from Him on earth, to be descriptive of Him. You can never be heavenly by effort. Many seek to be heavenly by prayer, reading the Word, devotedness, but the only pathway to it is to be brought by the Holy Spirit to realize union with our risen Lord. You are heavenly by union, by nature. Abide in Him.

Are we prepared to accept our union with the crucified and risen Lord, not only as the basis of being received by the Father, but also as the way we walk day by day? If this question was honestly faced, and answered affirmatively by the members of our churches, there would be no need to endeavor to whip up a ‘revival.’ There would be a spontaneous upsurge of life and blessing—the direct work of the Spirit of God Himself.

  “Risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12).

Spend time with God.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Beth Ann, hip surgery on Thursday

Pray for Barry, he kind of wandered off and his doing his best to get

Back in the flock.

Pray for Carly, she’s 41 today and has spent the last 20 years like a wrecking ball.

She has finally hit the bottom and is asking for help.

 

Ok, so yesterday’s devotion was way long, so today, just a list of things to see if they are in your life and the changes you may need to make to see these actually happening.

Peace: maintaining a sense of harmony and unity

Faith: depending on God

Grace: giving freely to others

Forgiveness: not holding grudges Honesty: speaking truthfully

Confession: verbally admitting failures

Conforming: fitting in with a group or culture

Working alone: accomplishing tasks individually

Influencing: changing the way others live

Recognition: receiving feedback and approval for one’s work

Accountability: being responsible to one another

Diversity of personality: valuing the uniqueness of yourself and others

Conflict resolution: getting conflicts out on the table

Shared goals: holding common goals along with others

Direction: having clear goals

Development: improving and refining skills and gifts

Inclusion: being included with others

Exclusion: being left alone

Intimacy: engaging deeply with others

Creativity: trying new things, expressing new thoughts, doing things differently

Training: repeatedly teaching effective principles/lessons/processes

Loyalty: sacrificing personal interests for those of others

Efficiency: pursuing high levels of productivity

Courtesy: having a friendly and hospitable attitude

Authenticity: expressing thoughts and emotions genuinely

Closure: completing tasks

Structure: having clearly defined expectations and plans

Spontaneity: continuously developing plans

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Larry V in prayer,, shoulder surgery.

funny face

January 14, 2018

I have a good friend who because of a couple strokes he can’t smile. He’s a preacher. Now if you are wondering what one has to do with the other, here we go.

Because he looks so serious his congregation has developed into a serious crowd as well and a little legalistic. All this from not smiling. (possible?)

Then there’s Jerry, another preacher that is always laughing, playing practical jokes and his congregation is pretty much like him.

The non-funny thing is the serious preacher has a more mature congregation both in age and in the Lord. Jerry’s congregation is younger (he’s 75) and less mature in the Lord.

What ‘s my point, the goal of every preacher is to give a congregation a conscious in tune with the Love of God. They should have godly thinking that leads to a right heart. Can you be serious, sure, can you be funny sure. But in either case you must be thorough, all the Word of God, all the principles.

What come first, heart or mind. I’m going to say the best balance is the mind, then the heart will follow. A mind set on God makes a heart following God.

So a preacher that concentrates on emotions and feelings will have a congregation without maturity and principles. Their Christian walk will be a whirlwind of emotions, a roller coaster walk.

The sound biblical expositor will have a mature congregation and more sure of everything. The church will gravitate towards sound thinking and there will be less church problems. If the pastor is firm.

Aye, and there’s the rub, (been a while since I said that). To many Christian’s today want a socially acceptable church that doesn’t invade their privacy.

I’m going to stop right there and let you ponder that for a while.

God bless and peace in your life. From scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Men of God (part 2)

January 5, 2018

Godly Men (part 2)

Paul exhorts 1 Timothy 6:11 to “flee these things.” The verb “flee” conveys the sense of running continually to escape a dangerous enemy. “These things” refers to what Paul has just been talking about in verses 9 and 10: the evils attached to the love of money. These evils include “foolish and harmful lusts” and even the danger of straying “from the faith in. . . greediness.” Greed is the sin of false teachers who pretend to speak for God, but whose true goal is personal gain.

Other things a man of God must flee from include sexual sin (1 Cor. 6:18), idolatry_ (1 Cor. 10:14), and youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). From anything which might distract his heart from God or detract from his ministry, the man of God must flee.

It’s not enough to just rebuke it or claim it. I saw a bible advertised online that is just for Pentecostals or the Joel Osteen ilk, that was supposedly filled with one sentence sayings that were spiritual defenses against dark forces. I mean that sounds more like an ad for Dungeons and Dragons than a bible.

But of course in this 1 minute world, what else could you expect.

Of course these are probably the same people that claim the devil made them do it or my personal favorite I hear all the time; “I just couldn’t help myself.” Really, what are you a zombie?

Ok, I’m done ranting, you see a temptation, flee, literally get away from it.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Anne, she went off her medication and is living in panic attack city.

Seriously if you were prescribed a medication, don’t quit taking it unless you talk to your doctor. Or the side affects are worse than the illness, but still talk to your doctor.

BABLE

December 22, 2017

Babylon, Babbel, Nutz,

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

The rule was this; you have to agree what words mean. For example you just can’t start out a conversation and ask someone “is Jesus Lord of your life” and expect an answer that is mutually understandable to both parties. An agreement has to be reached that each word in that statement has the same meaning to each party.

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

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

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

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

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

So I had to explain to both these mature in the Lord, brothers and sisters that the Pentecostal movement is filled with very poor theological constructs that are used to often make the church toxic, controlling and yes even cult like. Add to that Arminian Theology (you can lose your salvation).

And that is one of the things that I have fought against in trying to make the movement more scripturally based and less experientially based. (good luck with that, it’s not always gladly accepted, as feel good often out sells knowledge and soundness of doctrine). And since that has spread to all these independent non Pentecostal churches, where Jesus is like a warm blanket fresh out of the dryer, or God has to do what you say faith speaking nonsense.

So in our conversation between believers (Christians of other denominations) let’s make sure we are using the right words and agree to what our words mean, in order to express ourselves or it will be the Tower of Babel between the brethren.

God bless

Drop us note at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Denise H. newly married (3 months) and she isn’t sure it wasn’t just about the sex. (where’s the love).

Pray for Abbey, 38 years old and a snow boarding freak, fell and fractured her hip and no one saw her go down. She was praying out loud and

A cross country skier heard her and found her, and it turns out he’s an EMT. Praise God for that.

Ok,, bible quiz and bible give away. What country has killed and eaten more missionaries than any other country? \\

Weird questions right, you can choose a large print KJV or a compact NIV study bible. Just email the answer to scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com