Strangely Blessed

September 22, 2018

I’m going to tell a story about a parishioner that recently passed away. He told me that he came to church because it kept his wife off his back. He was a heavy alcoholic drinker, and he was a mean drunk, and he was often unfaithful because he was hung like a Missouri Mule (that was his wife’s description and she said the main reason she wouldn’t leave him was the sex).

I cannot tell you how many times his wife called me asking me to go get him out of a bar or restaurant where he was drunk and harassing a young waitress. And remember I said he was mean, this guy was 150 pounds of pure mean. I’ve saw him actually fall off a roof (single story) while welding and just get back up and go up the ladder.

There were several times that I had to taze him or Mace him in order to get him to comply and get in my car, he once told me he liked me because I was the only pastor that ever punched him in face (not a pastoral technique I recommend and one I don’t often use).

Funny thing is every time he saw me in the grocery store or the hardware store or Home Depot he would come up to me and hug me and cry and say that I was the best pastor in the world because I always came and got him, and always listened to his stories and I always talk to his wife and calmed her down and convince her not to divorce him.

Well his son has followed in his footsteps and the mother is called asking if I will go get her son and it is a mirror image of what happened with his father, he’s a mean drunk and he just ends up crying about how sorry he is and he’ll show up in church on Sunday and give his heart to the Lord which by the way never happens .

But his father dying from Cirrhosis of the liver accepted the Lord 10 days before he passed away. And it’s probably the only 10 days he’s ever had sober. So I was holding his hand as he passed away he told me that he was always grateful that I was gracious and loving to him and my love convicted him he said so often of his need for a Savior .

So pastors, the black sheep of the congregation you love them and so you going the extra mile out of your way to help them eventually pays off, so don’t give up on them, it’s your duty to go after that one out of the 99 that seems to always wander away .

I’ve been strangely blessed by having more of my share of the mentally ill, philandering, coke sniffing, alcoholic, pot smoking, sex addicted, ex-cons and bikers in my different churches. My family says I’m a magnet for weird, the “normal” people in church sometimes complain, but eventually they get with the program. God loves us all. And as the Apostle Paul said, “we were once one of them.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Heavenly Places

September 21, 2018

  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

  It is sad to have to say that the present-day Church is so earthy that it is of little earthly good. “Sir, we would see Jesus”! (John 12:21). The agony and the ugliness or the old rugged cross is now a golden bejeweled cross. There is no longer in most hymn books songs about the blood or phrases like; “such a worm as I.”

No, we sing praise songs about how great we are.

  The great failure of the Modern Church was in giving up the Apostle Paul. Many pulpits haven’t heard a sermon from the book of Romans in years. Or the second coming of the Lord and how it could be at any moment.

  It is essential that a believer have a clear understanding of his position before the Father—his place in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This alone will give true peace of mind, joy and comfort of heart, strength for conflict and power for service. We will never be able to properly understand or fill our place for God on earth if we do not realize our God-given standing before Him in heaven.

  And never forget that our place before the Father is His gift, and a gift worthy of the Giver; not a gift according to the measure of our worth but a gift intended to display the exceeding riches of the grace of the Giver. The greatness of the Giver then is the measure of the blessings that are mine in the Lord Jesus Christ, not what I am or what I deserve.

 When you see and stand on your heavenly ground, you come to rest, just as the Father rests. You need not worry—only keep on that ground by your attitude of heart. If you are going to worry—if you must worry—worry lest you get down on earthly ground, for that is the ground of worry. Abide above! Heavenly things are in safe keeping—in the keeping of One who is ‘far above all.’.

  “For ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3, ASV.).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember to pray for Gwen and her economic struggles

Continue to pray for Maureen and her shingles.

Dave I, and his battle with prostate cancer.

THE PROMISES OF GOD

September 20, 2018

One of the questions I am often asked is; “are all the promises in the bible for me?”

They are surprised when I say NO.

Not every promise in the bible is for you. Some are only for the Jews, Some are for non believers, some are for the New Testament Church, some are for the 7 years of tribulation, some are for the 1000 year reign of Christ.

So you have to take the promises in context of the chapter and book.

So the old saying; “every promise in the book is mine” isn’t really correct.

So here’s a list from the first five books of the bible, ask yourself who they are for. It might surprise you.

GENESIS AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

God made man in his image, in his likeness, and gave him dominion over the earth and all its creatures (1:26-28).

God blessed the descendants of Abraham, and all peoples on earth have been blessed through them (12:2-3; 18:18).

When we believe the Lord, he credits it to us as righteousness (15:6).

God established his covenant with Abraham and greatly increased his numbers, so that he became a father of many nations (17:2, 5).

Nothing is too hard for the Lord (18:14).

God chose Abraham, “so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” (18:19).

The Judge of all the earth will always do right (18:25).

God promised to bless Abraham and make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Through his offspring, all nations on earth would be blessed, because he obeyed God (22:17-18).

EXODUS AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

The Lord is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (3:6).

The Lord took the Israelites as his own people, became their God, and brought them out from under the yoke of the Egyptians (6:7).

The Lord raised up Pharaoh to show him his power and to cause his name to be proclaimed in all the earth (9:16).

The Lord is faithful to his covenant promises and delivers his people through his powerful right hand (14-15).

“Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (15:11).

God brought his people in and planted them on the mountain of his inheritance (15:17).

The Lord is our Banner (17:15).

God promised that if his people would obey him fully and keep his covenant, than out of all nations they would be his treasured possession. Although the whole earth is his, they would be for him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (19:5-6).

“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (33:14).

The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin (34:6-7).

LEVITICUS AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

Among those who approach God he will show himself holy, and in the sight of all the people God will be honored (10:3).

“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” (11:44).

“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (17:11).

“Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord” (18:5).

“Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy” (20:7-8).

“You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to by my own” (20:26).

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (26:12-13).

NUMBERS AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (6:24-26).

“The Lord answered Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you’” (11:23).

The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion (14:17).

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God” (15:41).

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (23:19).

DEUTERONOMY AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

“The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky. May the Lord, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised!” (1:10-11).

“The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place” (1:30-31).

“The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything” (2:7).

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (3:22).

“O Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?” (3:24).

“What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (4:7).

“If . . . you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (4:29).

“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath” (4:31).

The Lord is God; besides him there is no other (4:35, 39).

The Lord is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands (7:9).

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him” (18:17-18).

“The Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (20:4).

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (29:29).

That’s just the first five books of the bible, so what kind of list did you come up with?

Hopefully you’ll press on and work on the whole list, although there is a disagreement of how many promises there are, some say over 5000, some say only 3000. Either way you have a lot of work cut out for you to identify them all.

It will take a life time of work.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Larry R, going through a rough divorce

Pray for Valerie, the same (different person

Pray for Maureen and shingles.

Pray for those that are depressed. Reach out to someone today.

OUGHT NAUGHT TO BE

September 17, 2018

OUGHT NOUGHT TO BE

I’ve mentioned this before but want to revisit the situation.

I can walk into any bar or tavern. And say; “I’m cheating on my wife, my taxes, my boss, I’ve shot the neighbor’s cat and I just found out my mistress is HIV positive.”

And someone will come over and by me a drink. Or someone will come over and say; “I know what you’re saying.”

But have any failure in a Christian environment and well they shoot horses don’t they.

Mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, brotherhood, fraternity, grace, support, join AA because you may not get it from church.

Doesn’t seem to happen. It’s seems the membership for church is perfect people getting saved and leading perfect lives. Don’t dare tell them your past, you’ll find yourself not asked for dinner after the Sunday service.

Yet Jesus live and visited with the worst of his day, sinners. He laughed with them, broke bread with them and invited them to know Him better.

How can we expect a body of believers to grow intimate with each other when we hide our past, keep secret our current struggles and shove out anyone that fails?

So by pretending to be perfect we become false. And the brother or sister in Christ is afraid to share their struggles and failures, because on Sunday morning everyone is lying and saying, “all is well” and “I’m just fine.”

We don’t have an actual church plan in place to help the brother or sister to restoration, just condemnation and forced out of fellowship.

There must be a balance in church, yes, the mature believers acknowledging the less mature and their failures. And the saint that falls, needs support not an exodus.

Let’s pray that we as believers are gentler, more forgiving, and willing to acknowledge we are forgiven but still fall short of perfection.

There is a time for the rod, but we are to quick to use it.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Maureen in your prayers as she deals with shingles.

Pray for Gwen that is struggling financially.

be a good witness

September 15, 2018

The most important question an unbeliever can ask was posed by the Philippian jailer: “What must I do to be saved?” (Ac 16:30). The reason we proclaim the gospel, the reason we share God’s Word with others, is to lead unbelievers to ask that very question.

 But what happens when they do? Are we prepared to give them the most important answer they will ever hear?

 The first demand Jesus made during his public ministry was, “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15). That is the heart of what we need to know to be saved. Keeping the message straightforward: “Repent, believe, confess. Keep it simple . . . Stick with the basics. The deep theological discussions can come later.”

 Here’s a helpful breakdown of what it means to repent, believe and confess and how each one is addressed in Scripture.

  1. Repent—The first requirement for salvation is that we must repent of our sin (see Ac 11:18; 2Pe 3:9). As Charles Spurgeon once explained,

  Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it. It is, in fact, a change of mind of a very deep and practical character, which makes the man love what once he hated, and hate what once he loved.

  1. Believe—The second requirement is that we believe in the gospel, specifically that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead (see Ro 10:8–10). And how does one come to believe this? Yes, through the preaching and spreading of the gospel.

  2. Confess—The last requirement is that we must confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord (see Ro 10:10). To confess Jesus is Lord we must believe he is God, the supreme authority over all that exists and the supreme authority over our lives.

    Repent, believe, confess. By keeping the steps to salvation simple, we can be sure we’ll always be prepared to answer the unbeliever’s most important question.

We are all called to be a witness. So you say you work in a secular environment. Then be a servant and be loving; people will ask you why you are so different. Now it your chance to tell them about Jesus.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for all those in the military. As a veteran I can tell you it can be a difficult calling.

More than a muscle part three

September 13, 2018

The Heart Needs Giving

To balance out your character you need to do more than guard your heart. It is the flip side that makes you authentic … you also need to give your heart. To resist releasing yourself for fear of getting burned may seem safe, but in the long run it is lethal.

(1) Giving the heart means risk, entanglements, becoming vulnerable: It means having to step out in faith, believing God rather than one’s own strategies. It means having to give up something … sometimes a lot. It can even mean having your heart broken and wrung like a towel. But to fail to give it means to lock it up safely in the casket of selfishness. And like a body laid to rest in a casket, the heart will change; though safe, dark, and motionless, it will rot and become a bag of bones.

(2) Giving the heart also means accountability: “As the maxim goes, ‘People are willing to give God credit, but not cash.’ As long as accountability is in the future and suspended in space, I will accept it. But if it actually starts interfering with my personal life, forget it.”

To believe you can give your heart without accountability is like believing that you can raise children without discipline, run a company without rules, or lead an army without authority. Accountability is to the Great Commission what tracks are to a train. It is the means of quality control, facilitates leadership, protects the congregation, makes ministry a joy, helps people keep their commitments.

(3) Giving the heart means involvement: Involvement with God, involvement with family, involvement with other Christians, and involvement with non-Christians. And what does involvement include? It includes: sacrificial love, walking by faith rather than sight, spontaneity rather than rigidity, the risk of vulnerability, and a willingness to become accountable. In Webster’s Dictionary, we find that being involved means “to draw in as a participant, to relate closely, to connect, to include.”

Religious striving is far too often egocentric, and though this can be purified and brought into the service of God through His Word, too often true fellowship with God and loving Him with all our heart is corrupted and nullified by craving and striving for power, security, or other selfish desires that stem from a heart that is kept from God as our source of strength, joy, and meaning in life.

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous” (Isa. 29:13).

Obviously, withholding the heart means our inability and our unwillingness to give our hearts to either God or ministry to others. Certainly, since we never arrive at ultimate maturity in this life, there will always be room for growth in giving the heart because it is so difficult to give up our various methods of self-protection.

The Heart Needs Preparing

Psalm 78:8 And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Psalm 108:1 A Song, a Psalm of David. My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul.

The word “prepare” in Psalm 78:8 and “steadfast” in Psalm 108:1 is the Hebrew, kuwn. Its basic meaning is “to be firm, established, stable.” From this it came to mean (a) “be set up, established, fixed” and is used in the Old Testament of a house fixed on a foundation, of the establishment of a throne or kingdom, and of persons being established, secure and enduring. (b) Then it came to mean “to fix so as to prepare, be ready, arrange, set in order.” As such it was used of preparing words for wise speech, of the preparation of food, of preparing the foundation for the temple of Solomon, of prayer being prepared, arranged, and set in order before God, of preparing a road, a sacrifice, one’s steps or path (Ps. 119:133), of God’s creative activity, of what He has established as the heavens by His understanding, and of preparing the heart.

This word is used in Psalm 78:8 of preparing the heart to be firm, focused, and fixed on the Lord in the sense of trust and rest in God’s love, goodness, wisdom, grace, and power (cf. Ps. 112:7-8). The point here is that the heart can only become steadfast, stable, when it has been properly prepared in a biblical sense.

This same word is used in Psalm 108:1 of preparing the heart to worship the Lord. The KJV translates this as “My heart is fixed” while the NASB, NIV, and RSV all have “My heart is steadfast.” The Amplified Bible has “My heart is fixed—steadfast [in the confidence of faith].” But the idea here is that it is steadfast because it has been spiritually prepared. Remember, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” As the heavens were prepared, fixed, and established by God’s understanding, so our hearts are made stable by the understanding which comes from God’s Word (cf. Col. 2:1-6).

Just as the human heart needs preparation through proper diet and exercise in order to handle strenuous activity and be healthy in general, so one’s spiritual heart must be properly prepared if it is going to be able to effectively respond to God in the varied situations of life.

This is one of the ways we can guard the heart, but the emphasis here is on the need of spiritual preparation through the various biblical disciplines—honest, deep down confession of sin, fervent prayer, careful Bible study, meditation on the Word, Scripture reading and memory, and fellowship with believers. We need these disciplines to stabilize the heart so we can respond positively to God in trust for the varying situations of life.

The Heart Needs Purifying

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

(1) The heart is purified by being renewed. The mind needs renewing in its ideas, values, motives, and beliefs. The thoughts and intents of the heart need to be changed through storing and meditating on the Word. Included here is the idea of exchanging our viewpoint for God’s (Rom. 12:2; Isa. 55:8f; Ps. 51:10; 119:9-11; Pr. 3:3; 7:3; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 2:23).

(2) The heart is purified by being tested (Deut. 8:2; Jer. 17:10; Ps. 139:23-24). One of the reasons for suffering and trials and the varied irritations that God either brings or allows is to reveal the condition of our hearts, to show its true colors that we might see our sin and deal with it through confession and faith in God’s provision.

(3) The heart is purified by confession or repentance (Acts 8:22). This is vital to the whole process, of course.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ronne and Tim, their only child, a missionary to Africa was martyred this week and they just found out.

More than a muscle part two

September 12, 2018

Since the heart is so important to what we think, say, and do, we each need to regularly do open heart surgery with the scalpel of the Word under the guiding hand of the great physician, the Lord Jesus. We accomplish this through the teaching, guiding, convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Like a sharp two-edged sword, the Word divides the inner man asunder to reveal the true condition and needs of our hearts (Heb. 4:12).

Most people today want to be successful according to their own idea of success. However, as you listen to the success propaganda of today, again and again the focus of attention is on one of two things. First, the vast majority of thinking, writing, and talk focuses on the outer self—on how smart I can appear, what kind of impression I make, how much applause I register on the applause meter, how much I make, how much I own, how fast I climb the ladder of success in my company, and on the list goes. Very little that you read places any emphasis on the inner man, on the heart, the wellspring of our thoughts, motives, ambitions, values, and decisions. And second, when what you read or hear does place an emphasis on the heart, it generally does so in a completely self-centered way, even in a lot of Christian literature.

Against the present anthropocentric (man-centered) kind of spirituality so common today is the biblical theocentric (God-centered) spirituality which sees the glory of God and the advancement of the kingdom of God as the priority pursuit and reason for life. Scripture’s goal is not material or even spiritual gain for oneself, nor self-realization or promotion, but the realization of our calling as heralds and ambassadors of Jesus Christ. “Franz Kafka once observed: ‘The Fathers of the Church were not afraid to go out into the desert because they had a richness in their hearts. But we, with richness all around us, are afraid, because the desert is in our hearts.’”

Bloesch also writes: (you may be surprised that I quote Dr. Bloesch, he is probably the most frustrating theologian that an Evangelical could quote, but dig through his writings and right after he makes you mad, he drops a great pearl.)

In our society today, the humanist ideal of happiness or interior well-being was incorporated into Christian faith without any drastic modification so that religion was given a decidedly anthropocentric orientation. It is generally acknowledged that much popular religion (both conservative and liberal) is narcissistic (egocentric), focusing on inner feelings and on purely personal hopes and goals. God is deemed necessary to help his people attain the desires of their hearts or to find perfect happiness. Some even make the object of religion sound like capitalist consumerism—acquiring the goods of this life. But is prosperity an inevitable concomitant of true faith?

Importantly and interestingly, the Bible says very little about success, especially that kind of success, but as seen, it says a tremendous amount about the heart because the heart is the wellspring of true success. Little wonder, then, the word “heart” is found literally hundreds of times in the Bible. So, when it comes to describing man and his needs, heart is one of the most commonly used terms of the Bible and, again, most of these occurrences are used metaphorically of the inner man, either of the mind, the emotions, the will, the sinful nature, or inclusively of the total inner person.

Is it any wonder then, that Solomon challenges us:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

Swindoll writes: “How important is the heart? It is there that character is formed. It alone holds the secrets of true success. Its treasures are priceless—but they can be stolen.”

We must all ask ourselves this question: How well am I guarding (keeping) my heart? Is the condition of my heart my greatest concern? It should be because it is so determinative of every aspect of life. It ultimately determines our love for God and for others. It determines who we are and what we do.

Needs of the Heart

The Heart Needs Guarding

The heart needs guarding because of its natural bent as a part of our fallenness. And this is true even of those who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ. While believers possess the new nature and the capacity to know God and discern spiritual things, and while they have received the enlightening and empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit, they still possess the old nature or the wretched capacity for evil and selfish pursuits by which they can independently strive to handle life on their own apart from God.

To use biblical analogies or illustrations, we can be:

(1) People committed to building our own cisterns, but these always turn out to be broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13).

(2) People who are always prone to turn to the arm of the flesh rather than to the arm of God and His resources (Jer. 2:13; 17:5f).

(3) People who seek to walk by the light of our own man-made firebrands (Isa. 50:11).

To use the words of Isaiah, we can become filled with influences from the east, i.e., man’s substitutes for life for God’s plan for life (Isa. 2:5-6). Obviously, then, as Proverbs 28:26 warns us, the heart of man is not a safe haven, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” (See also Prov. 20:9 and Jer. 17:9.)

Isaiah 55:8-11 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself; Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.

Here are seven reasons the heart needs guarding:

(1) The heart needs guarding because we do not naturally think and look at life like God does. We are inherently ignorant of His mind and His ways. We desperately need the wisdom and direction of the Lord to know His ways and to know our own heart and its wicked ways. Proverbs 19:3 warns us that our foolishness subverts or perverts our way. “Perverts” is the Hebrew word, salaph, “to twist, pervert, overturn.”

(2) The heart needs guarding because, like sheep, we are prone to wander from God in our hearts (Isa. 53:6a). We want to live independently to control and direct our own affairs. We want to be in charge of our own destinies. Oh yes, some of us want to trust God with getting us into heaven, but we would too often prefer to direct our own affairs down here on earth partly because we are so committed to our own desires. To completely follow His directions means we may be called on to give up something that we think we must have in order to be secure or happy. Thus it is much safer to be in charge ourselves, so we think. Man is inherently rebellious by nature as a result of the fall.

(3) The heart needs guarding because the heart is not just deceitful, it is more deceitful than all else (Jer. 17:9a). We can’t trust it because of its natural selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-protective ways and devices (Ps. 81:12-14; Jer. 17:9; 2:13). But to experience God’s way we must first repudiate our self-trust or reliance upon those devices we use to protect ourselves. Then, in the place of self-trust, we need to learn to rely completely on the Lord regardless of how things appear. Rather than lean on our own understanding, we trust the Lord to direct our path (Prov. 3:5; Ps. 37:5). But our heart, because of our fears and selfish concerns, deceives us through its vain rationalizations and we want to turn to our own solutions.

(4) The heart needs guarding because the heart is desperately sick, i.e., incurably wicked (Jer. 17:9b). The NIV translates this “beyond cure.” Remember that the word “heart” may be used for the mind, the emotions, the will, the whole inner man, or as here, of the sinful nature that is a part of the inner man.

The sinful nature cannot be eradicated, it cannot be improved, or changed for the better. Human reformation doesn’t work on the heart of man. So again, he who trusts his own heart is a fool! The pull of this old nature is always there to deceive us.

(5) The heart needs guarding because the heart cannot be understood by our own wisdom. Only God can reveal and lay bare our hearts to us (Jer. 17:10; 20:12, Pr. 17:3; Ps. 139:23). It is hard to know our own motives and reasons (1 Cor. 4:4). We are naturally skilled at deceiving ourselves.

(6) The heart needs guarding because the heart is the wellspring of life; the fountain of attitudes, values, beliefs, aspirations, and pursuits (Pr. 4:23; Matt. 13:34; 15:18; 6:21). Because of this, we must guard it or we develop those of the world and this will always lead us astray.

(7) The heart needs guarding because, as is the fountain, so must be the streams that flow from it—the eyes, the mouth, the feet, i.e., words and actions. The means for guarding the heart will come as we study some of the other needs of the heart. But to balance out character, we need to do more than guard our hearts.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Vickie and her fight with breast cancer

Pray for Barbara and Laurie the same.

Pray Dave Ingram and his 4th battle with prostate cancer

Pray for Sue D, 59 years old and just entered hospice.

Pray for Virginia M, a strong saint, she’s been serving God for over 60 years. She’s been blind since she was 10, and now bed ridden, she has been begging God to take her home and is having problems with suffering and pain robbing her of her joy.

Pray for those that suffer chronic daily pain and the depression it can bring.

more than a muscle, part one

September 11, 2018

the bible

I have reported before an excellent book, that alas I no longer own and am still searching for a copy. It was written by the grand daughter of either Keil or Delitzch. She was a psychologist and wrote this little book about the heart, the bible and it being more than just a muscle. I’m still looking for that book, but here are some notes that I have made.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”

(Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

Certainly we live in a consumer-oriented, materialistic, hedonistic society bent on pleasing self. In comparison to some portions of the world, most of us are accustomed to very high levels of luxury by way of our comforts, pleasures, and security. With this has come the prominent idea that happiness comes in accomplishments, in recognition, in material possessions, comfort, and the like. We have come to believe the mistaken (and Satan promoted) notion that if we just acquire certain things, then we can be truly happy and even secure. As a result, people develop their own agendas by which they seek to climb the mountain of success or happiness. Of course, the chosen agendas are very much the product of the mindset of a Wall Street, Madison Avenue controlled society.

As Christians, we may have rejected some or even a lot of these notions. Yet, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and because we are all so easily influenced by the world around us, our hearts need guarding.

Scripture clearly teaches us that the real issues of life are spiritual and are really matters of the heart, the inner man. Maybe it’s for this reason the word “heart” is found so many times in the Bible. Because the word “heart” can be translated a number of ways, depending on the context, the number of times it is found varies in the different translations of the English Bible (863 in the NASB, 963 in the KJV, and 791 in the NIV). As these numbers suggest, the heart is a prominent concept and one of the most commonly used words of the Bible. Most of these occurrences are used metaphorically of the inner man. When used metaphorically (depending on the context) heart refers to either the mind, the emotions, the will, to the sinful nature, inclusively to the total inner man, or simply to the person as a whole and is often translated as such. As a simple illustration of how various translations handle the word heart, compare the translation of the KJV in Exodus 9:14, “I will send all my plagues upon thine heart (referring to Pharaoh), and upon thy servants,” with the NASB’s “I will send my plagues on you (marginal reading has “heart”) and your servants.”

The term heart, then, generally speaks of the inner person and the spiritual life in all its various aspects. This multiple use of “heart” along with the way it is used strongly focuses our attention on the importance of the spiritual life. Like the human heart, it is central and vital to our existence.

Because of vast number of passages using the word “heart,” I have focused primarily, though not exclusively, on the Psalms and Proverbs. It is here we find the greatest concentration of uses in this one section of the Bible.

The Purpose and Goal

Enlightenment: First, one goal of this study is designed to show how we can use a concordance to get God’s perspective on a particular subject. A second goal is to help us see afresh how important our inner world really is in terms of our ideas about God, ourselves, and others, and in terms of our motives, goals, and aspirations.

Exhortation: The design here is an appeal for the personal application that we might each deal with the inner life in the light of God’s Word in practical and personal ways.

Encouragement: Another goal is encouragement. We all need to be encouraged to seek God Himself and His resources as we struggle with the various pulls of our sinful natures in the ups and downs of life.

Importance of the Heart in Scripture

As evidenced by the many recurrences, the term “heart” is a very important word because God is so deeply concerned about the inner man or the condition of the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.

These passages teach us that the Lord looks at and searches the heart, the inner person. Why is the heart so important? Because the issues of life—our actions, works, pursuits, etc.—all proceed from the heart (Pr. 4:23; Matt. 6:21; 12:34; 15:18). What we do in word and deed is first of all a product of what we are on the inside.

In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus spoke strongly against the mere external, performance-oriented hypocrisy of the religious Pharisees. In Matthew 5:17-48, no less than six times He contrasted the mere external approach to the Old Testament Scripture, as it was taught by the Pharisees, with His own teaching which, of course, was accorded with the true design of God’s Word. He did this by the following statements:

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 21-22)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 27-28)

“It was said … but I say to you …” (vss. 31-32)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 33-34)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 38-39)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 43-44)

What was the Lord showing the people? He was calling their attention to the moral precepts they had been taught by their religious leaders for years, precepts which had their source in the Old Testament Scriptures. But then, with the words, “but I say to you,” He readdressed those same issues as, first and foremost, matters of the heart. This and only this is authentic Christianity. Biblical Christianity centers in an inward, intimate walk with God by faith. Anything else is nothing more than religious hypocrisy.

For instance, Jesus teaches us that adultery and murder begin in the heart. You may not have literally committed adultery, but if you look at a woman or a man with that in view, you have already committed adultery. Where? In your heart! (Matt. 5:28). Our walk with God is always a matter of the heart.

However, as one of the consequences of the fall, people look on the outward appearance. God, however, is always concerned with the heart, with the reality and condition of what is on the inside. Why? Because if the inside of the cup is clean, so will be the outside.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (RSV)

One of the goals of the Christian life is the formation of Christlike character, the character of Christ formed in our lives through the various life changing tools that God has chosen to use:

  • The ministry of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-26)

  • The truth of the Word (Ps. 19:7-14; 119:9-11; John 17:17)

  • The trials and testings of life (Jam. 1:2-4; Ps. 119:67, 71)

  • The ministry of others as iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17)

For these tools to be truly effective, we need personal diligence in honestly dealing with the heart.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Stay tuned for part two.

the mighty R’s

September 9, 2018

When it comes to prayer, a primary stumbling block is the idea that when speaking to God we should be original and impromptu, that our prayers should be spoken “from the heart” and done without preparation.

 But when we look in the Bible we find, as in Acts 4:24–26, Christians praying the Psalms (in this case, Psalm 2). Even Jesus himself prayed using the Psalms: His dying prayer on the cross was a quotation of Psalm 22:1 (see Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34). As Charles Spurgeon said, “If Christ thus lived upon the Word of God, should not you and I do the same!”

 While almost any passage of Scripture can be used for prayer, the best place to start is in the Bible’s own prayer book: the Psalms. Here are a couple of ways we can incorporate the Psalms into our own prayers:

  ➤ Use the “Three R’s” Method—I recommends an approach to praying the Psalms that can work for other Bible passages: Rejoice, Repent, Request. To pray using Scripture, ask the following three questions: (1) What about a passage gives you reason to rejoice, to give thanks and praise? (2) Is there something about this passage that reveals sin in my own life that should lead me to repentance? (3) Does the passage lead me to make a request of God for myself or others?

   ➤ Pray with Jesus—The German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us that when we pray Scripture, we are praying with Jesus:

  All prayers of the Bible are such prayers which we pray together with Jesus Christ, in which he accompanies us, and through which he brings us into the presence of God. Otherwise there are no true prayers, for only in and with Jesus Christ can we truly pray. If we want to read and to pray the prayers of the Bible and especially the Psalms, therefore, we must not ask first what they have to do with us, but what they have to do with Jesus Christ.

We are our worst enemy when it comes to prayer. Because we know our weaknesses and failures. Thus we think we are unqualified to pray. Nothing could be farther than the truth. It’s because of knowing our failures, that like King David, we present ourselves to God, fatigued, failed, fighting, foolish, false ideation, we can start our prays always saying thank you God for putting up with me, loving me and being merciful.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

WORD OF MY DEMISE IS PREMATURE!

Imagine my surprise today to find out from my insurance company that my family (mother’s side) have signed and witnessed a statement that I’ve been dead three years now and they have collected the death benefits.

The insurance company is admitting negligence on their part and will be asking the family to return the money (good luck).

At first, I thought it was funny, hey my family is very dysfunctional. But as the day wore on it became a very grievous thought. That my family, full well knowing that I’m alive would have that much animosity to commit a crime and be that thoughtless of my feelings about my very own death.

Then I remembered this was the same family that never notified me of my mother’s death, or of my grandmother who raised me.

Now I will be the first to admit that as a kid I was one rotten hooligan.

I will take responsibility for being a delinquent. And I did give my mother a nervous breakdown. But hey, that was over 46 years ago.

Which proves a point, unforgiveness will lead to bitterness and possible revenge.

I took me a better part of the day to go to prayer and ask God to help me forgive them. I also know that this is a bridge that I burnt, and it will never be rebuilt.

I’ve never been home after I joined the military, my mother gladly signed the paperwork when I was 16 years old to get me out of her life. I thank God for the surrogate family that He gave me and the same for my children. That we were “adopted” by the family of God; and given new parents and my children their own grandparents.

And the irony has not escaped me that I haven’t heard from my daughter or grand-daughter for over 20 years. They followed the same destructive past I did. I can only pray (which I do) that they are godly adults, love the Lord and Serve Him.

Maybe our reunion may have to wait until we meet in heaven. I honestly don’t know what my initial reaction would be if I were to see my daughter. Hopefully not in a morgue.

Well enough of that gloom and sadness. I don’t have a monopoly on dysfunctional. Each of you could probably tell a tale yourselves.

But for the grace of God, thank God, that He gives us grace and gifts of wonderful people to fill our lives. I’m especially blessed as a pastor to have baptized infants and then did their weddings and now get ready to dedicate their grandchildren.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

And a word of advice, if your family is abusive, toxic and harmful, get out, and get away. It is not “the Christian thing” to do and be harmed mentally, sexually and or emotionally. Run for your life and sanity.