never forgetting

July 23, 2017

45 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, what most people don’t know is that Buzz Aldrin partook of communion on the moon, he partook of real bread and real wine and read a card that had printed on it Christ’s statement; “do this in remembrance me”.

The reason we never heard about it was NASA was being sued the atheist Madeline  Murray O’Hair for Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis as they circled the moon.

 

 

Speaking of forgetting here’s a quote from Puritan Preacher Richard Baxter.

 

It is a most lamentable thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles, while God is cast aside. He who is all seems to them as nothing, and that which is nothing seems to them as good as all. It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion! If God had never told them what they were sent into the world to do, or what was before them in another world, then there would have been some excuse. But it is His sealed word, and they profess to believe it.

Richard Baxter (It’s impossible to measure the influence of this English Puritan over four centuries. His works remain in print and are widely read, which shouldn’t surprise us. J. I. Packer considers him “the most outstanding pastor, evangelist, and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced,” listing Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor (1656) as one of the top five books that have influenced him most.)

 

 

So let us not forget the bravery of Apollo 11 on this anniversary of that historic moment and let’s never forget our purpose here on this planet Earth to worship and bring glory to our Creator.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

weed whacker

July 20, 2017

A Christian has an instinctive push toward righteousness because of his new nature. Just as his old nature drives him to temptation and wrong, so his new nature moves him toward goodness. I think evangelical Christians tend to give the old nature too much attention and room; they seem to expect to sin and fall, and keep on doing so. But we should also expect to succeed and be victorious over sin because that is the bent of the new man.

God’s seed is in us (1John 3:9). Seed means growth and expression and God’s expression is always holy. I am sure many believers stumble and fall, and yet  “ Better things” that “ accompany salvation” (Hebrews 6:9) are expected of us. The beautiful and yearned-for “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) is set in exact contrast to the “fruit of the
flesh”; yet, both are instinctive and, if given a chance, will abound in us. Which fruit will it be? Paul says that God “ began a good work” in us and He will keep bringing it to maturity in us until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6).

There is a determinism in the new man that is difficult to deny!

As any gardener knows, fresh seeds dropped into the ground must be given a chance. Weeds must be removed, the ground must be prepared, and sufficient moisture and sun must be applied. Do that for the new man, the Bible cries out, and see what will happen!

The fruits of the new nature, says Peter, are many and attractive (2 Peter 1:1-9). But we have to make them “abound,” that is, allow them to multiply in us (v. 8, KJV). If we let them shrivel or “ lack” (v. 9) we are blind and forgetful.

In short, I have all the equipment I need for a triumphant, godly, fruitful life. That is God’s part. My part is to make room for it, clear the rubbish away, and let spiritual instinct take over from there.

“ For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you  neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8)

 

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Gift

July 17, 2017

The Secret of Contentment

“We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.” Uncle Screwtape’s diabolical counsel to his nephew Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is a reminder that most of us live more in the future than in the present. Somehow we think that the days ahead will make up for what we perceive to be our present lack. We think, “When I get this or when that happens, then I’ll be happy,” but this is an exercise in self-deception that overlooks the fact that even when we get what we want, it never delivers what it promised.

Most of us don’t know precisely what we want, but we are certain we don’t have it. Driven by dissatisfaction, we pursue the treasure at the end of the rainbow and rarely drink deeply at the well of the present moment, which is all we ever have. The truth is that if we are not satisfied with what we have, we will never be satisfied with what we want.

The real issue of contentment is whether it is Christ or ourselves who determine the content (e.g., money, position, family, circumstances) of our lives. When we seek to control the content, we inevitably turn to the criterion of comparison to measure what it should look like. The problem is that comparison is the enemy of contentment—there will always be people who possess a greater quality or quantity of what we think we should have. Because of this, comparison leads to covetousness. Instead of loving our neighbors, we find ourselves loving what they possess.

Covetousness in turn leads to a competitive spirit. We find ourselves competing with others for the limited resources to which we think we are entitled. Competition often becomes a vehicle through which we seek to authenticate our identity or prove our capability. This kind of competition tempts us to compromise our character. When we want something enough, we may be willing to steamroll our convictions in order to attain it. We find ourselves cutting corners, misrepresenting the truth, cheating, or using people as objects to accomplish our self-driven purposes.

It is only when we allow Christ to determine the content of our lives that we can discover the secret of contentment. Instead of comparing ourselves with others, we must realize that the Lord alone knows what is best for us and loves us enough to use our present circumstances to accomplish eternal good. We can be content when we put our hope in His character rather than our own concept of how our lives should appear.

Writing from prison to the believers in Philippi, Paul affirmed that “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:11-12). Contentment is not found in having everything, but in being satisfied with everything we have. As the Apostle told Timothy, “we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:7-8). Paul acknowledged God’s right to determine his circumstances, even if it meant taking him down to nothing. His contentment was grounded not in how much he had but in the One who had him. Job understood this when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). The more we release temporal possessions, the more we can grasp eternal treasures. There are times when God may take away our toys to force us to transfer our affections to Christ and His character.

A biblical understanding of contentment leads to a sense of our competency in Christ. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). As Peter put it, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). Contentment is not the fulfillment of what we want, but the realization of how much we already possess in Christ.

A vision of our competency in Christ enables us to respond to others with compassion rather than competition, because we understand that our fundamental needs are fulfilled in the security and significance we have found in Him. Since we are complete in Christ, we are free to serve others instead of using them in the quest to meet our needs. Thus we are liberated to pursue character rather than comfort and convictions rather than compromise.

Notice the contrast between the four horizontal pairs in this chart: (which I don’t know how I got this to work this time!)

WHO DETERMINES THE CONTENT OF YOUR LIFE?

SELF

CHRIST

Comparison

Covetousness

Competition

Compromise

Contentment

Competency

Compassion

Character

As we learn the secret of contentment, we will be less impressed by numbers, less driven to achieve, less hurried, and more alive to the grace of the present moment.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

more than one day

July 17, 2017

A young man with a bandaged hand approached the clerk at the post office. “Sir, could you please address this post card for me?” The clerk did so gladly, and then agreed to write a message on the card.

He then asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” The young man looked at the card for a moment and then said, “Yes, add a PS: ‘Please excuse the handwriting.’”

We are an ungrateful people. Writing of man in Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky says, “If he is not stupid, he is monstrously ungrateful! Phenomenally ungrateful. In fact, I believe that the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped.” Luke’s account of the cleansing of the ten lepers underscores the human tendency to expect grace as our due and to forget to thank God for His benefits. “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18).

REMEMBER: GOD’S DELIVERANCE IN THE PAST

Our calendar allocates one day to give thanks to God for His many benefits, and even that day is more consumed with gorging than with gratitude. Ancient Israel’s calendar included several annual festivals to remind the people of God’s acts of deliverance and provision so that they would renew their sense of gratitude and reliance upon the Lord.

In spite of this, they forgot: “they became disobedient and rebelled against You . . . . they did not remember Your abundant kindnesses . . . . they quickly forgot His works” (Nehemiah 9:26; Psalm 106:7, 13). The prophet Hosea captured the essence of this decline into ingratitude: “As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore, they forgot Me” (13:6). When we are doing well, we tend to think that our prosperity was self-made; this delusion leads us into the folly of pride; pride makes us forget God and prompts us to rely on ourselves in place of our Creator; this forgetfulness always leads to ingratitude.

Centuries earlier, Moses warned the children of Israel that they would be tempted to forget the Lord once they began to enjoy the blessings of the promised land. “Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . . Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth’” (Deuteronomy 8:14, 17). The antidote to this spiritual poison is found in the next verse: “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth” (8:18).

Our propensity to forget is a mark of our fallenness. Because of this, we should view remembering and gratitude as a discipline, a daily and intentional act, a conscious choice. If it is limited to spontaneous moments of emotional gratitude, it will gradually erode and we will forget all that God has done for us and take His grace for granted.

REMEMBER: GOD’S BENEFITS IN THE PRESENT

“Rebellion against God does not begin with the clenched fist of atheism but with the self-satisfied heart of the one for whom ‘thank you’ is redundant” (Os Guinness, In Two Minds). The apostle Paul exposes the error of this thinking when he asks, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Even as believers in Christ, it is quite natural to overlook the fact that all that we have and are—our health, our intelligence, our abilities, our very lives—are gifts from the hand of God, and not our own creation. We understand this, but few of us actively acknowledge our utter reliance upon the Lord throughout the course of the week. We rarely review the many benefits we enjoy in the present. And so we forget.

We tend toward two extremes when we forget to remember God’s benefits in our lives. The first extreme is presumption, and this is the error we have been discussing. When things are going “our way,” we may forget God or acknowledge Him in a shallow or mechanical manner. The other extreme is resentment and bitterness due to difficult circumstances. When we suffer setbacks or losses, we wonder why we are not doing as well as others and develop a mindset of murmuring and complaining. We may attribute it to “bad luck” or “misfortune” or not “getting the breaks,” but it really boils down to dissatisfaction with God’s provision and care. This lack of contentment and gratitude stems in part from our efforts to control the content of our lives in spite of what Christ may or may not desire for us to have. It also stems from our tendency to focus on what we do not possess rather than all the wonderful things we have already received.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We cannot give thanks and complain at the same time. To give thanks is to remember the spiritual and material blessings we have received and to be content with what our loving Lord provides, even when it does not correspond to what we had in mind. Gratitude is a choice, not merely a feeling, and it requires effort especially in difficult times. But the more we choose to live in the discipline of conscious thanksgiving, the more natural it becomes, and the more our eyes are opened to the little things throughout the course of the day that we previously overlooked. G. K. Chesterton had a way of acknowledging these many little benefits: “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Henri Nouwen observed that “every gift I acknowledge reveals another and another until, finally, even the most normal, obvious, and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with grace.”

REMEMBER: GOD’S PROMISES FOR THE FUTURE

If we are not grateful for God’s deliverance in the past and His benefits in the present, we will not be grateful for His promises for the future. Scripture exhorts us to lay hold of our hope in Christ and to renew it frequently so that we will maintain God’s perspective on our present journey. His plans for His children exceed our imagination, and it is His intention to make all things new, to wipe away every tear, and to “show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:7).

Make it a daily exercise, either at the beginning or the end of the day, to review God’s benefits in your past, present, and future. This discipline will be pleasing to God, because it will cultivate a heart of gratitude and ongoing thanksgiving.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

inside out part two

July 16, 2017

One of the great enemies of process spirituality is the craving to control our environment and the desire to determine the results of our endeavors. Many of us have a natural inclination to be manipulators, grabbers, owners, and controllers. The more we seek to rule our world, the more we will resist the rule of Christ; those who grasp are afraid of being grasped by God. But until we relinquish ownership of our lives, we will not experience the holy relief of surrender to God’s good and loving purposes. Thomas Merton put it this way in New Seeds of Contemplation:

This is one of the chief contradictions that sin has brought into our souls: we have to do violence to ourselves to keep from laboring uselessly for what is bitter and without joy, and we have to compel ourselves to take what is easy and full of happiness as though it were against our interests, because for us the line of least resistance leads in the way of greatest hardship and sometimes for us to do what is, in itself, most easy, can be the hardest thing in the world.

Our resistance to God’s rule even extends to our prayerful attempts to persuade the Lord to bless our plans and to meet our needs in the ways we deem best. Instead of seeking God’s will in prayer, we hope to induce Him to accomplish our will. Thus, even in our prayers, we can adopt the mentality of a consumer rather than a servant.

Perhaps the most painful lesson for believers to learn is the wisdom of being faithful to the process and letting loose of the results. (there is supposed to be a box or arrow pointing down from each “o” word, i,e. opportunity>Divine, but i can’t get it to format right in wordpress)

Opportunity

Obedience

Outcome

Divine Sovereignty

Human Responsibility

Divine Sovereignty

We have little control over opportunities we encounter and the outcomes of our efforts, but we can be obedient to the process.

Distorted dreams and selfish ambitions must die before we can know the way of resurrection. We cannot be responsive to God’s purposes until we abandon our strategies to control and acknowledge His exclusive ownership of our lives. At the front end, this surrender to the life of Christ in us appears to be the way of renunciation, but on the other side of renunciation we discover that it is actually the way of affirmation. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:24). The better we apprehend our spiritual poverty and weakness, the more we will be willing to invite Jesus to increase so that we may decrease (John 3:30).

Another key to staying in the process is learning to receive each day and whatever it brings as from the hand of God. Instead of viewing God’s character in light of our circumstances, we should view our circumstances in light of God’s character. Because God’s character is unchanging and good, whatever circumstances He allows in the life of His children are for their good, even though they may not seem so at the time. Since His will for us is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2), the trials, disappointments, setbacks, tasks, and adversities we encounter are, from an eternal vantage point, the place of God’s kingdom and blessing. This Romans 8:28-39 perspective can change the way we pray. Instead of asking the Lord to change our circumstances to suit us, we can ask Him to use our circumstances to change us. Realizing that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18), we can experience “the fellowship of [Christ’s] sufferings” through “the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Thus, Blaise Pascal prayed in his Pensees:

With perfect consistency of mind, help me to receive all manner of events. For we know not what to ask, and we cannot ask for one event rather than another without presumption. We cannot desire a specific action without presuming to be a judge, and assuming responsibility for what in Your wisdom You may hide from me. O Lord, I know only one thing, and that is that it is good to follow You and wicked to offend You. Beyond this, I do not know what is good for me, whether health or sickness, riches or poverty, or anything else in this world. This knowledge surpasses both the wisdom of men and of angels. It lies hidden in the secrets of Your providence, which I adore, and will not dare to pry open.

We are essentially spiritual beings, and each “today” that is received with gratitude from God’s hand contributes to our preparation for our glorious and eternal destiny in His presence. In “the sacrament of the present moment” as Jean-Pierre de Caussade described it, “It is only right that if we are discontented with what God offers us every moment, we should be punished by finding nothing else that will content us” (Abandonment to Divine Providence). It is when we learn to love God’s will that we can embrace the present moment as a source of spiritual formation.

As we grow in dependence on Christ’s life and diminish in dependence on our own, the fulfillment of receiving His life gradually replaces the frustration of trying to create our own. It is in this place of conscious dependence that God shapes us into the image of His Son. Here we must trust Him for the outcome, because we cannot measure or quantify the spiritual life. We know that we are in a formative process and that God is not finished with us yet, but we must also remember that we cannot control or create the product. Furthermore, we cannot measure our ministry or impact on others in this life. If we forget this, we will be in a hurry to accomplish significant things by the world’s standard of reckoning. Francois Fenelon noted that “the soul, by the neglect of little things, becomes accustomed to unfaithfulness” (Christian Perfection). It is faithfulness in the little daily things that leads to faithfulness in much (Luke 16:10). Henri Nouwen used to ask God to get rid of his interruptions so he could get on with his ministry. “Then I realized that interruptions are my ministry.” As servants and ambassadors of the King, we must be obedient in the daily process even when we cannot see what difference our obedience makes.

Blessings from God and Greetings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Dan and Leigh, they are trying to move into their new house and it caught on fire today.

keeping it real

July 14, 2017

Mark 6:52

English Standard Version (ESV)

52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

 

This is not talking about just anyone, but specifically his disciples.

The thought seems to be that even after seeing the power of the Lord in the miracle of the loaves, they still did not realize that nothing was impossible for Him. They should not have been surprised to see Him walking on the water. It was no greater a miracle than the one they had just witnessed. Lack of faith produced hardness of heart and dullness of spiritual perception

I personally think it was because they were guilty of looking for a Literal King, a political Messiah to rescue them from the rule of the Romans. So, they missed the lowly Servant King.

If we make our religion a political affair and not a spiritual one, we will be guilty of the same fate. Look at the mess Jerry Falwell created with his brand of political Christianity. But a word of warning, Christianity is not a private, keep it at home religion, we need to be recognized as public Christians, with a public faith, not haters of those who are lost, but actively engaged in sharing the importance of the eternal choice people are making.

Keep Jesus real, personal and King of our hearts, not a political figure and you won’t miss the miracles.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

hard times

July 13, 2017

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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

 

grow or die

July 11, 2017

It is a law of nature that where there is no growth, there is no life. That principle applies as much to our spiritual lives as it does to plants and children. The way we grow in our spiritual formation is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2Pe 3:18) But what does that mean? If grace is entirely God’s gift to us, how can we take the initiative to “grow in grace”?

 As any soul increases in spiritual knowledge, in the same degree it grows in grace.” To grow in grace requires that we be diligent in the acquisition of spiritual knowledge, both experiential and intellectual, that allows us to grow in wisdom—knowledge of our spiritual state, knowledge of God’s Word and knowledge of Christ.

 Here are a few suggestions how to grow in grace:

  1. Recognize that it will take sustained effort—“As growth in grace is gradual, and the progress from day to day imperceptible, we should aim to do something in this work every day. We should die daily unto sin and live unto righteousness.”

  2. Do the work, but rely on the Holy Spirit—Our progress in spiritual formation requires that we “do the work” by diligently practicing spiritual disciplines. But even as we add our human efforts toward sanctification, we should realize that any progress is the work of the Holy Spirit. A good rule of thumb is to “use the means as vigorously as if you were to be saved by your own efforts, and yet trust as entirely to the grace of God as if you made use of no means whatsoever.”

  3. Study Scripture for spiritual benefit rather than for curiosity and controversy—“Avoid curious and abstruse speculations respecting things unrevealed and do not indulge a spirit of controversy.” Our efforts in studying Scripture should lead us to become more like Jesus, not toward becoming better theological debaters or curators of obscure speculation.

Grow or die, growth is a part of any living organism.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

A special to Ron at our local Veteran’s Association, he’s been a big help.

Remember Dion; 9 years old and bravely battling cancer, quite the little trooper

Pray for Frank K, 97 years old today and is going RV-ing with his nephew up to Vancouver from Texas. He’s in great shape for his age and he’s the one asking for prayer that his nephew doesn’t chicken out of the trip.

 

THE LAW OF FREEDOM

July 10, 2017

Well we just did a week of my favorite posts, from 2009 until 2016, but now it’s back to work, blessings

The Law of Freedom

  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

  We need not submit to the law, nor do we need to struggle against it. It is now a matter of our standing on heavenly ground in our risen Lord, free from the influence and demands of the entire principle of law. In Christ Jesus we are motivated by a higher law, ‘the law of the Spirit of life’ (Rom. 8:2).

There is no way of deliverance from the law and its bondage, into that liberty for which Christ set us free except to believe, and to keep reckoning, that we died to the law with Him, and are now risen, and joined to Another, the Risen One—even as Romans 7:4 asserts: ‘Ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God.’

In man the law and the flesh always go together. The Cross was the end for both in the sight of God. The flesh was judged and condemned there; it was treated as a dead thing before God—dead and buried; and the law which deals with the flesh we are dead to. We have passed out of both; we are not in the flesh (Rom. 8:9), and we are not under the law (Gal. 2:19).

  “But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you—directs and controls you” (Rom. 8:9, Amp.).

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

ouch, man that hurt

July 9, 2017

Colossians 4:6

English Standard Version (ESV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we say can bless or harm.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

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