I REALLY CAN CHANGE

January 16, 2018

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

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

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

What do you think about the most each day?

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

So think on that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Crown

December 27, 2017

  “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect (mature), establish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10).

  At first, the old nature hides from us. Then, we try to hide from it. But when we begin to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, we are able to face up to the awful facts concerning the old man and his condemnation at the Cross. As the Holy Spirit reveals the old man (Col. 3:9), we count upon death; as He reveals the new man (Col. 3:10), we count upon life (Rom. 6:11).

The believer, at the opening of his new course of life, never knows his own heart; indeed, he could not bear the full knowledge of it; he would be overwhelmed thereby. He graciously leads us by a circuitous route, like Moses in the wilderness, we are on a journey of self discovery. And because of His grace we are led slowly into the understanding of how great our sin and fallen nature as corrupted, in order that our apprehension of His grace may keep pace with our growing self-knowledge.

It was not for nothing that God let Satan loose upon His dear servant, Job. God loved Job with a perfect love; a love that could take account of everything, and, looking below the surface, could see the deep moral roots in the heart of His servant—roots which Job had never seen, and, therefore, never judged. What a mercy to have to do with such a God!

To be in the hands of One who will spare no pains in order to subdue everything in us which is contrary to Himself, and to bring out in us His own blessed image!

  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:6, 7).

We to shall wear a crown of sorrows before we wear a crown of joy. Like Job we will all be tested, bear up under it because it is the mark of kinship with Christ.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Thank you with all my heart those that comment,, hit the like button and pray. Thank you for all the bibles donated for our bible quizzes.

We have so many people emailing to be put on our prayer list, sometimes I can’t list them all. We had one guy that drove over 900 miles to hand us his prayer request, so he could be prayed over before surgery. I wept so deeply that this guy was so disconnected from any sort of community. God not only healed him but blessed him with a new heart and he is getting “plugged in” here in our little town. He’s now the unofficial greeter at Denny’s, handing out tracts and bibles and asking people if they need prayer.

God bless you all so much.

MORE RED MEAT

December 1, 2017

Fluff or Stuff

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,

Romans 5:12-19 On account of this, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death entered by means of sin, and so death spread into all men, because all sinned. 13 For until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 But death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon the ones who had not sinned in the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 And the gift is not like what resulted through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment from one transgression resulted in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift from many transgressions resulted in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more the ones who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then, as through one transgression condemnation came to all men, even so through one righteous act came justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Having described how God has provided His righteousness to sinful man through faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ (5:1-11), Paul begins in 5:12-19 to contrast that work of redemption with the work of the sin of Adam which created the need for redemption. In commenting on this passage, Jonathan Edwards wrote that Paul . . .

. . . had particularly spoken of the depravity and ruin of mankind in their natural state, in the foregoing part of this chapter; representing them as being sinners, ungodly, enemies, exposed to divine wrath, and without strength. This naturally leads him to observe, how this so great and deplorable an event came to pass; how this universal sin and ruin came into the world. . . [the Jews] were prejudiced against the doctrine of universal sinfulness, and exposedness to wrath by nature, looking on themselves as by nature holy, and favourites of God, because they were the children of Abraham . . . it was therefore exceeding proper, and what the apostle’s design most naturally led him to, that they should take off their eyes from their father Abraham, their father in distinction from other nations, and direct them to their father Adam, who was the common father of mankind, equally of Jews and Gentiles.

“. . . something has been accomplished by Christ which is as universal in its effectiveness as was the sin of the first man. Paul is no longer speaking just about the Church: his vision now includes the whole of humanity.” Christ is described in another letter as the “Last Adam” and is thus, by inference, God’s ideal Man fulfilling what Adam did not fulfill and yet was designed to fulfill. Christ ruled “. . . over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,” and He thus demonstrated that He fulfilled God’s purpose for man as man. Christ also lived a life of obedience that Adam did not. This is seen dramatically portrayed in the two garden scenes. The garden of Eden provided Adam a choice to submit to the Father’s will or to die because of His sin. Adam willingly chose to sin, and this brought eternal ramifications for the whole human race. The garden of Gethsemene provided Christ a “choice” to submit to the Father’s will to die to pay for the sin of mankind in Adam, yet there was no other choice for Him, because as God’s ideal Man, Christ would obey the Father’s will above His own. Christ willingly chose to die, and this brought eternal ramifications for the whole human race. The two gardens and the two choices brought two results which are the topics of a theological comparison and contrast in Paul’s discussion in Romans 5:12-19.

The “Natural Headship” view. This view squares with the principle that each person pays for his own sins because each person was not only represented in Adam, but was actually present in Adam when He sinned. Paul said in v. 12 that death spread into all men because all sinned, each a sinner for his own sin. Calvin concurs:

Hence, even infants bringing their condemnation with them from their mother’s womb, suffer not for another’s, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed of sin, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt.

(this is the simple version, which I guess I should have put first)

The results of Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteous act have given the human race, all under condemnation in Adam, the potential for all to be righteous in Jesus Christ for those “who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness.”

An important application to the church today is to preach the gospel to all men in fulfillment of the Great Commission. All men being sinners in the one man, Adam, constitute the need for them to hear also of the righteousness provided through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Thank God for the Gift of Jesus Christ. The real reason for the Christmas season.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ruby I, a very young 77, she fell today for the first time and is more devastated mentally than physically. (she kept saying this is what old women do).

Pray Jack P, needs to decide if the military is a career and a calling.

 

SIGN POST

November 3, 2017

Godly parents, who to the best of their ability seek to raise their children in the faith, can still have children who turn away. This will be the exception, not the rule. But it can and does happen. We have wrongly interpreted Proverbs 22:6, ”Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” to mean that if you train them properly, then it is guaranteed that they will follow the Lord. Thus if the child goes astray, the parent must be to blame. But the Proverbs are not ironclad promises. Rather, they state general maxims about life. It is generally true that if you train up children properly, they will follow the Lord as adults. But it is not a guaranteed promise, and therefore it is not necessarily a sign of parental failure when a child rebels. If there has been obvious parental failure, then we, as the church, should help a hurting parent to deal biblically with the area of failure. But it is wrong for us to be judgmental.

Ok, this may be way to much info but to be thorough here we go

This verse is a key to the whole responsibility of training children, but there is a particular focus in this verse that shows us a parent’s training must be based on knowing his or her child. This emphasis is not apparent in the English as it is in the Hebrew text. As seen previously, the word “train,” the Hebrew chanak, has as it primary meaning, “train, instruct, initiate,” and it can also mean, “to dedicate, throttle or discipline.” In this verb we see the primary responsibility. Parents are to train and so teach their children that it brings God’s control into the child’s life. And certainly, since their children are trusts from God, they need to dedicate these little ones to God and be dedicated themselves to the training process.

But what is the standard for the process? God’s Word is the standard, of course, but there is something else that must guide the process and this is seen in the words, “in the way he should go.” The Hebrew text is actually much stronger than this and literally reads, “according the measure of his way.” “According to,” the Hebrew ‘al pi, is literally according to the mouth of. This carries the ideas of “according to the command of, the evidence or sentence of, or according to the measure of.” The preposition ‘al denotes the norm, standard, or rule by which something is to be done. The noun pi is from pe, “mouth, opening, orifice.” Since mouths or apertures vary in size, it developed the concept of “measure” or “portion.” With this in mind, pe was often used with prepositions to mean “in proportion to.” A small child normally has a much smaller mouth than an adult and can’t begin to take in as large a portion as a man. The principle here should be obvious. Training should be done according to the measure, the capacity, or ability of something. But what is that? It is spelled out for us with the words “his way.”

Again, maybe a little to much info, but if you want to go from A to Z on the topic here we go;

The Hebrew text has the personal pronoun attached to the noun “way.” It reads, “his way” and not simply “in the way he should go.” “Way” is the Hebrew derek, “way, road, journey, manner.” It was used of (1) a way, path, journey, course of action, (2) mode, habit, manner as a customary experience or condition, and (3) of duty and moral action and character both good and bad. From the knowledge of Scripture and from an observation of our children, we know certain things about their way. First, we know that God, in His sovereignty, has a plan, a course He wants each child to follow—an orbit for him or her. Second, we know that every child has a specific make up as an individual with certain abilities, talents, and tendencies—a particular bent. Derek is from the verb darak, “to tread, march,” but it was often used metaphorically of launching something as in the bending of a bow in order to launch an arrow, or an assault, or bitter speech, or judgments in a certain direction (cf. Ps. 7:13; La. 2:4; 3:12; Ps. 57:7; 64:3; 1 Chron. 5:18; 8:40; Isa. 21:15). While darak does not have this specific meaning, the use of the verb form provides us with an interesting illustration considering the nature of children according to inheritance factors and as God has designed them.

With this in mind, let’s consider a few key ideas in training a child according to his way:

(1) Parents need to know their children as the unique individuals they are. To do this, they must prayerfully observe, study, and recognize the individual characteristics (or bent) of each of their children and train them accordingly.

(2) Parents should never think that seeing that a child gets plenty of Bible training or gets to church will be enough. Bible teaching, church, and growing up in a Bible-teaching home are all vital and a necessary part of the process, but each child needs to be dealt with as a unique individual and nothing should be taken for granted. Parents need to take special note of what is happening in each child’s life—responses, weaknesses, habits, attitudes, etc. The same environment does not mean that each child will respond in the same way. A blanket approach may not work. Some biblical illustrations of the different ways children will respond to the same environment and teaching within the same home are Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Absolom and Solomon.

(3) Parents should never try to force their children into the way they want their children to go. By this I mean parents often try to pour a child into some preconceived mold they’ve dreamed of for their child. This is often nothing more than a parent’s attempt, through the accomplishments of their child, to attain the applause or praise or whatever it was they wanted for themselves, but never received. For instance, a parent may have a dream of seeing their child become a great athlete or artist and do everything they can to manipulate and push their child in that direction when that may not at all be in keeping with the child’s aptitude, talents, abilities, or desire—let alone what God wants for that child.

(4) A bow is made by its designer to bend in one direction, according to its bent. We saw that the verb form of “way” was used of bending a bow to launch something. If the person using the bow does not recognize the way the bow is bent and tries to bend it differently, he will not only face a difficult task, but he may break the bow. In like manner, parents need to recognize the way their child is bent, both by the way God has designed them and by the way sin has affected them. If a parent fails to recognize this, they may also fail to help their child get launched into God’s orbit or plan for their life. This would suggest that children are not like a pliable piece of clay that may be molded anyway the parent chooses. Rather, they are unique individuals with a way already established that needs to be recognized, acknowledged, and reckoned with by means of the truth of Scripture and a parent’s careful observation.

So training a child in the way he should go really means helping them discover their temperament and uniqueness of character and going in a way that compliments their gifts and abilities, the verse should be interpreted “according to his (the child’s way)” that they should live a life that complements their strengths and talents and not be forced into a mold. So if you have two kids you may have to raise each one differently according to their temperaments.

I hope this helps those parents that have used this verse to beat themselves up because their child was “wayward” in the faith and they feel they have failed. That’s not what this verse has ever meant, not in its literal sense.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

SOVEREIGN

November 1, 2017

On July the sixteenth in the year seventy-nine, a madman named Nero burned the city of Rome. He only meant to burn the slums because he wanted to rebuild the slums and he was an ego-manic who wanted to build things for his glory and honor. And, in order to get rid of the slums he set fire to them. The people reacted in ways that he didn’t expect them to react and they turned on Nero the Emperor.

Nero was looking for a scapegoat and so he was looking around for someone to blame and they said, “Why don’t you blame the Christians, after all the Christians are a strange sect. They meet underground. They have a ceremony that they call the Lord’s Supper where they think they’re drinking blood. And, they also are talking about a judgment of fire. It would be easy to say that these people are cannibals who set the city of Rome on fire.” And, so they blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians.

Therefore, it was open season on the Christians and Christians in this day were nailed to crosses. Many of them were set on fire as human candles to light the gardens of Nero and for his wild parties and banquets. Many of them were dressed in animal skins and set loose in the forest to be hunted like wild beasts.

Now here we are over 2000 years later, and I want to ask you a question, could this happen again? Impossible you say, we are more civilized, more advanced, you really think so?

Hebrews 13:3, which instructs us to “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”

 Persecution has always made the church stronger. It burns impurity out of the church. It drives away the nominal, worldly attenders, and separates the church from the world. It drives the church to prayer. It unites the church in brotherly love. It often causes the church to expand numerically, as seen in China under Communism.

I’m not ready to pray for persecution, because I’m not fond of suffering! I’ll leave it to the sovereignty of God, who knows what we need. But we do need to be ready for persecution in case it comes. Our religious freedom in America is on thin ice. It is not inconceivable that we could face imprisonment or have our children taken from us for insisting on the moral teachings the Bible. So we need to know in advance how to respond to persecution.

(Acts 4:23-35)

I’m speaking here about something that most of us have not experienced firsthand. Sure, I’ve faced opposition as a pastor; but I’ve never been imprisoned or beaten or had my property taken away because I am a Christian. But these principles also apply to the subject of how to respond to trials in general. I’ve encountered many American Christians who do not have an adequate theology of suffering. When trials hit, they rage at God, rather than submit to Him. They think that they have a right to prosperity and good health. So they grow bitter when trials hit.

Our text reveals the response of the early church to persecution. Peter and John had been arrested, put in jail, and then threatened by the Jewish leaders because they had healed a lame man and had preached the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the crowd. This snapshot shows them responding by drawing near to God in prayer. It also shows the care that the church had for its members and their continuing witness to the world. It teaches us to …

Persecution will either drive you away from God and cause you to become bitter, or it will drive you closer to God and cause you to become better. We see four ways that these early Christians affirmed their commitment to God:

The Bible clearly affirms the absolute sovereignty of God. Nothing happens apart from God’s ordaining it to happen. The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 (rewritten in modern English as A Faith to Confess [Carey Publications], p. 20) puts it this way:

From all eternity God decreed all that should happen in time, and this He did freely and unalterably, consulting only His own wise and holy will. Yet in so doing He does not become in any sense the author of sin, nor does He share responsibility for sin with sinners. Neither, by reason of His decree, is the will of any creature whom He has made violated; nor is the free working of second causes put aside; rather is it established. In all these matters the divine wisdom appears, as also does God’s power and faithfulness in effecting that which He has purposed.

“He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (Ps. 2:4). It is utterly futile and foolish to fight against the Sovereign Lord! God’s enemies thought that they won when they killed Jesus. But God triumphed by raising Him from the dead. He is coming again to judge the living and the dead and to reign as God’s anointed on David’s throne.

The best prayers always are based on Scripture, applying it directly to our present situation and needs. But we won’t be able to apply God’s Word in a time of crisis unless we are saturating our minds with it on a daily basis. In Proverbs 1:24-33, God’s wisdom warns fools and scoffers that because they had neglected wisdom when she cried out to them, later in a time of crisis when they cry out to her, she will be silent. In other words, the time to seek God’s wisdom through His Word is before the crisis hits. If we know God’s Word through a daily time with Him, we will be able to apply it when we face persecution or trials.

Thus we reaffirm our commitment to God in a time of persecution through corporate prayer, by having a high view of His sovereignty over all, and by knowing and applying His Word.

So what’s my point? First God is sovereign, second fear is not of the Lord.

I once pastored a church where a small percentage of folks got involved in the survival/militia movement, this was in the mid 80’s. they spread fear through that congregation like wild fire. I had to take strong issue with several members and spent many an evening in their homes trying to get them to balance their lives between common sense and practicality. Most of them put themselves into debt buying coins and guns, jeeps and one guy even bought a half track.

By revealing their ever-growing fear and self-dependence they were denying the Sovereignty of God and faith in His ability to provide and protect.

Now don’t get me wrong I have a bug out bag, and all the other high speed, low drag stuff, extra water, but I deal in reality, long droughts, storms, ice storms have kept me locked up for a week. But I’m not getting ready for zombies, and SHTF world ending scenarios or a plague altering the human race. Balance, faith, trust in God is more than a motto.

Special thanks to all those that got up and prayed for Jennifer at 5 this morning and all morning, her surgery went great.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ELEVATED

October 1, 2017

  “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

  The Cross has separated us from the power of sin (Rom. 6:11), the old man (Rom. 6:6), the world (Gal. 6:14), the law (Rom. 7:4), and the devil (Heb. 2:14). The Spirit has joined us to our risen Lord, and we are “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). We are free—to abide above; free—to fellowship with our Father in glory.

  “The lack I find in souls is, that while they know that their sins are forgiven, they do not know their new place. What place do you have? Is it earth or heaven? It could not possibly be earth, for the Lord Jesus was rejected from the earth. It has a great moral effect upon a person to be able to say, ‘I have a place in heaven; I have no property on earth at all, it is all in heaven.’

 It is the Lord’s property I have on earth, but in heaven I have my own. In the garden of Eden, man lost his place; the question to him then is, First—Where art thou? then, What hast thou done? Every believer seeks to be clear as to the latter, but very few are clear about the former.

  “Many do not go beyond Christ’s resurrection; they do not extend to His ascension. They do not know Him in glory. They are occupied with Him in relation to their own side. He was at my side and glorified God there both in His walk here and in His death; but He is now at His own side, and it is there I intelligently realize the vastness of my life, for He is my life.”

My mind must rise above what I am to what God is; then it is that one is formed by the revelation of what God is. To this we are called.

  “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Jeremy, on parole and his wife is a bad influence, seriously, she is like the devil incarnate, but he won’t stay away from her.

Larry R, 64, just diagnosed with brain cancer, he is a Christian.

Pam, Z, just lost her husband, they’ve known each other since 2nd grade.

 

the true mark

September 29, 2017

The subject of positive self esteem, love yourself, self love, our self-concept or self-image creates a kind of paradox. The Bible-believing Christian knows that he is a sinner, that in himself dwells no good thing, and that in himself he has no merit with God; yet, like a paradox, at the same time, he also knows, as a creation of God, created in God’s image and redeemed by His grace, he has value and purpose in life.

So how do we hit a proper balance? How do we avoid the self-centered approach and focus of the world and at the same time have a biblical concept of self, a proper viewpoint of our own value and purpose that sets us free to serve the living God, that sets us free from those thoughts and feelings that tie us in knots and ruin our personalities, create false agendas and motives that so people are incapacitated for ministry?

That we think properly about ourselves is important and is even commanded in Scripture. In Romans 12:3, the apostle wrote, “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.”

The basic word for “think” in this passage is proneo, which means “think, form or hold an opinion, judge.” “Sober discernment,” is sophroneo, “be of sound mind.” It means “to be in one’s right mind, be reasonable, keep one’s head.” But first, the apostle warns us against thinking more highly of ourselves than we should.” The Greek word here is huperphroneo, “to think too highly of oneself, to be haughty.” Ironically, quite contrary to our society today, the apostle does not warn against thinking too little of ourselves. Regardless, the sound thinking Paul is calling for is grounded in biblical revelation and faith in the work of God for us in Christ. Paul is calling for thinking and personal evaluation based on the authority of God’s revelation and on the facts of God and His grace. It means we are to look at ourselves through the lenses of Scripture.

To Timothy, whom some expositors have nick named “Timid Tim” because he seems to have been having problems with his self-confidence (or confidence in God’s gifts and ministry for his life), Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (or sound-mind thinking). The Greek word for “discipline” here is related to the word used for thinking in Romans 12:3. It is sophronismos from sophron, “sensible, prudent.” It comes from sos, “safe, sound, and phren, “the heart, the mind, or the inner man.” Sophronismos refers to “control, self-discipline, prudence” that stems from right thinking. A controlled life, one that demonstrates self-discipline stems from soundness of mind, from knowing and acting on the truth of Scripture in the light of God’s grace in Christ. In both passages, Romans 12:3 and 2 Timothy 1:7, the context deals with God’s gifts to us and the bold expression of those gifts in loving ministry for the sake of the body of Christ.

Thinking properly about ourselves stems from right thinking about God, but then that extends to right thinking about others so that it results in a freedom to serve according to the grace of God.

Now, let’s ask some questions: What am I worth as a person? Do I feel good about who I am or do I wish I was someone else? Have I accepted who I am as a person, not my sin or sinful habits, but the uniqueness God has created in me as a person (Ps. 139:13-14)? How we answer these questions may play a key role in what we do with our lives, how we live our lives, in the joy we experience in life, in the way we treat others, and in how we respond to people and to God. “Research has shown that we tend to act in harmony with our mental self-portrait. If we don’t like the kind of person we are, we think no one else likes us either. And that influences our social life, our job performance, our relationships with others.”

A biblical concept of self developed out of our concept of God and His grace is important to solid spiritual maturity, to ministry, to our ability to lead others, and especially to our ability to be servants. Without a biblical concept of self, we end up playing spiritual king-of-the-mountain and engage in promoting personal agendas to build up a sagging ego. We seek from position, power, and praise what we should get from resting in God’s grace.

Thus, in order to effectively lead or minister to others we must think biblically about who we are. This means two key things: (a) we need to know our abilities and limitations while (b) always keeping in mind a biblical view of God, His grace to us in Christ, and knowing our sufficiency is always in God regardless of our abilities or weaknesses (see 2 Cor. 2:16-3:6).

Why is thinking in these terms so important? Because without it we will vacillate between fear and pride or between insecurity and overconfidence. Without this we will become either withdrawn and introverted or we will find ourselves running around in a hubbub of activity trying to feel good about ourselves because of our achievements. Paul’s spiritual maturity and qualification as a leader is seen in his freedom to serve others because, resting in who he was in Christ as a servant called of God by grace, he was not seeking to protect a poor self-image or to impress men with his greatness (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:1-6).

It’s all about balance, self identity, who am I, and why am I here. Talk about this topic with teens, young adults and college students; and not give empty rhetoric and blasé platitudes and you will pack out the house. Add to that have the meeting in a non-traditional place and wow, you will have people come that will never walk into a church. (until you show them it’s relevant.)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Roger D, and Jennifer, cataract surgery coming up soon, they’re both a little bit afraid.

Susanna B, against all advice from all her family, she went and had face surgery, (plastic) it went really wrong. The emotional damage done right now is epic.

 

step up your game

September 25, 2017

These are all quotes about prayer, I just finished a great book on prayer, you can find it free online, written in the late 60’s I think, by Levi Strauss, “Sense and Nonsense about prayer”, 138 pages you can read in about an hour or so, his comments and illustrations is what makes this a fun book to read and hopefully encourage you to step up your prayer life.

Also, Saturday, September 23 Ravi Zechariahs opened his part one series about prayer with the first quote here, I encourage you to listen to the broadcast.

We all are up and down and all around on prayer, we are either prayer warriors or garden gnomes and then somewhere in between. The best part of Strauss’s book it will at least keep you from praying wrong, stupidly or even just wasting your time. Besides bible reading there is nothing more important than bible reading. Bible reading comes first, you can’t pray correctly or effectively without reading your bible.

So I hope the following quotes will inspire you and Strauss’s book will guide you.

A person that reads and prays  frequently will stand out in any group by not standing out, humble, quiet, caring and thoughtful are those that have found the pathway to intimacy in God, questions, doubts and fears all disappear to the obedient of these disciplines. For no other reason than should you neglect such a blessing.

The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it had bridled the rage of lions, hushed the anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings. – Chrysostom

The prayers of holy men appease God’s wrath, drive away temptations, resist and overcome the devil, procure the ministry and service of angels, rescind the decrees of God. Prayer cures sickness and obtains pardon; it arrests the sun in its course and stays the wheels of the chariot of the moon; it rules over all gods and opens and shuts the storehouses of rain, it unlocks the cabinet of the womb and quenches the violence of fire; it stops the mouths of lions and reconciles our suffering and weak faculties with the violence of torment and violence of persecution; it pleases God and supplies all our need. — Jeremy Taylor

More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of. wherefore,

let thy voice

Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats,

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

Both for themselves and those who call them friend? For so the whole round earth is every way

Bound by gold chains about the feet of God. — Tennyson

Perfect prayer is only another name for love. — Fenelon

It was said of the late C. H. Spurgeon, that he glided from laughter to prayer with the naturalness of one who lived in both elements. With him the habit of prayer was free and unfettered. His life was not divided into compartments, the one shut off from the other with a rigid exclusiveness that barred all intercommunication. He lived in constant fellowship with his Father in Heaven. He was ever in touch with God, and thus it was as natural for him to pray as it was for him to breathe.

“What a fine time we have had; let us thank God for it,” he said to a friend on one occasion, when, out under the blue sky and wrapped in glorious sunshine, they had enjoyed a holiday with the unfettered enthusiasm of schoolboys. Prayer sprang as spontaneously to his lips as did ordinary speech, and never was there the slightest incongruity in his approach to the Divine throne straight from any scene in which he might be taking part.

That is the attitude with regard to prayer that ought to mark every child of God. There are, and there ought to be, stated seasons of communication with God when, everything else shut out, we come into His presence to talk to Him and to let Him speak to us; and out of such seasons springs that beautiful habit of prayer that weaves a golden bond between earth and heaven. Without such stated seasons the habit of prayer can never be formed; without them there is no nourishment for the spiritual life. By means of them the soul is lifted into a new atmosphere — the atmosphere of the heavenly city, in which it is easy to open the heart to God and to speak with Him as friend speaks with friend.

Thus, in every circumstance of life, prayer is the most natural out-pouring of the soul, the unhindered turning to God for communion and direction. Whether in sorrow or in joy, in defeat or in victory, in health or in weakness, in calamity or in success, the heart leaps to meet with God just as a child runs to his mother’s arms, ever sure that with her is the sympathy that meets every need.

Dr. Adam Clarke, in his autobiography, records that when Mr. Wesley was returning to England by ship, considerable delay was caused by contrary winds. Wesley was reading, when he became aware of some confusion on board, and asking what was the matter, he was informed that the wind was contrary. “Then,” was his reply, “let us go to prayer.”

After Dr. Clarke had prayed, Wesley broke out into fervent supplication which seemed to be more the offering of faith than of mere desire. “Almighty and everlasting God,” he prayed. “Thou hast sway everywhere, and all things serve the purpose of Thy will, Thou holdest the winds in Thy fists and sittest upon the water floods, and reignest a King for ever. Command these winds and these waves that they obey Thee, and take us speedily and safely to the haven whither we would go.”

The power of this petition was felt by all. Wesley rose from his knees, made no remark, but took up his book and continued reading. Dr. Clarke went on deck, and to his surprise found the vessel under sail, standing on her right course. Nor did she change till she was safely at anchor. On the sudden and favourable change of wind, Wesley made no remark; so fully did he expect to be heard that he took it for granted that he was heard.

That was prayer with a purpose — the definite and direct utterance of one who knew that he had the ear of God, and that God had the willingness as well as the power to grant the petition which he asked of Him.

Major D. W. Whittle, in an introduction to the wonders of prayer, says of George Muller, of Bristol: “I met Mr. Muller in the express, the morning of our sailing from Quebec to Liverpool. About half-an-hour before the tender was to take the passengers to the ship, he asked of the agent if a deck chair had arrived for him from New York. He was answered, “No,” and told that it could not possibly come in time for the steamer. I had with me a chair I had just purchased, and told Mr. Muller of the place nearby, and suggested, as but a few moments remained, that he had better buy one at once. His reply was, “No, my brother. Our Heavenly Father will send the chair from New York. It is one used by Mrs. Muller. I wrote ten days ago to a brother, who promised to see it forwarded here last week. He has not been prompt, as I would have desired, but I am sure our Heavenly Father will send the chair. Mrs. Muller is very sick on the sea, and has particularly desired to have this same chair, and not finding it here yesterday, we have made special prayer that our Heavenly Father would be pleased to provide it for us, and we will trust Him to do so.” As this dear man of God went peacefully on board, running the risk of Mrs. Muller making the trip without a chair, when, for a couple of dollars, she could have been provided for, I confess I feared Mr. Muller was carrying his faith principles too far and not acting wisely. I was kept at the express office ten minutes after Mr. Muller left. Just as I started to hurry to the wharf, a team drove up the street, and on top of a load just arrived front New York was Mr. Muller’s chair. It was sent at once to the tender and placed in my hands to take to Mr. Muller, just as the boat was leaving the dock (the Lord having a lesson for me). Mr. Muller took it with the happy, pleased expression of a child who has just received a kindness deeply appreciated, and reverently removing his hat and folding his hands over it, he thanked the Heavenly Father for sending the chair.”

One of Melancthon’s correspondents writes of Luther’s praying: “I cannot enough admire the extraordinary, cheerfulness, constancy, faith and hope of the man in these trying and vexatious times. He constantly feeds these gracious affections by a very diligent study of the Word of God. Then not a day passes in which he does not employ in prayer at least three of his very best hours. Once I happened to hear him at prayer. Gracious God! What spirit and what faith is there in his expressions! He petitions God with as much reverence as if he was in the divine presence, and yet with as firm a hope and confidence as he would address a father or a friend. “I know,” said he, “Thou art our Father and our God; and therefore I am sure Thou wilt bring to naught the persecutors of Thy children. For shouldest Thou fail to do this Thine own cause, being connected with ours, would be endangered. It is entirely thine own concern. We, by Thy providence, have been compelled to take a part. Thou therefore wilt be our defence.” Whilst I was listening to Luther praying in this manner, at a distance, my soul seemed on fire within me, to hear the man address God so like a friend, yet with so much gravity and reverence; and also to hear him, in the course of his prayer, insisting on the promises contained in the Psalms, as if he were sure his petitions would be granted.”

Of William Bramwell, a noted Methodist preacher in England, wonderful for his zeal and prayer, the following is related by a sergeant major. “In July, 1811, our regiment was ordered for Spain, then the seat of a protracted and sanguinary war. My mind was painfully exercised with the thoughts of leaving my dear wife and four helpless children in a strange country, unprotected and unprovided for. Mr. Bramwell felt a lively interest in our situation, and his sympathising spirit seemed to drink in all the agonised feelings of my tender wife. He supplicated the throne of grace day and night in our behalf. My wife and I spent the evening previous to our march at a friend’s house, in company with Mr. Bramwell, who sat in a very pensive mood, and appeared to be in a spiritual struggle all the time. After supper, he suddenly pulled his hand out of his bosom, laid it on my knee, and said: “Brother Riley, mark what I am about to say! You are not to go to Spain. Remember what I tell you, you are not; for I have been wrestling with God on your behalf, and when my Heavenly Father condescends in mercy to bless me with power to lay hold on Himself, I do not easily let Him go; no, not until I am favoured with an answer. Therefore you may depend upon it that the next time I hear from you, you will be settled in quarters.” This came to pass exactly as he said. The next day the order for going to Spain was countermanded.”

These men prayed with a purpose. To them God was not far away, in some inaccessible region, but near at hand, ever ready to listen to the call of His children. There was no barrier between. They were on terms of perfect intimacy, if one may use such a phrase in relation to man and his Maker. No cloud obscured the face of the Father from His trusting child, who could look up into the Divine countenance and pour out the longings of his heart. And that is the type of prayer which God never fails to hear. He knows that it comes from a heart at one with His own; from one who is entirely yielded to the heavenly plan, and so He bends His ear and gives to the pleading child the assurance that his petition has been heard and answered.

Have we not all had some such experience when with set and undeviating purpose we have approached the face of our Father? In an agony of soul we have sought refuge from the oppression of the world in the anteroom of heaven; the waves of despair seemed to threaten destruction, and as no way of escape was visible anywhere, we fell back, like the disciples of old, upon the power of our Lord, crying to Him to save us lest we perish. And then in the twinkling of an eye, the thing was done. The billows sank into a calm; the howling wind died down at the Divine command; the agony of the soul passed into a restful peace as over the whole being there crept the consciousness of the Divine presence, bringing with it the assurance of answered prayer and sweet deliverance.

“I tell the Lord my troubles and difficulties, and wait for Him to give me the answers to them,” says one man of God. “And it is wonderful how a matter that looked very dark will in prayer become clear as crystal by the help of God’s Spirit. I think Christians fail so often to get answers to their prayers because they do not wait long enough on God. They just drop down and say a few words, and then jump up and forget it and expect God to answer them. Such praying always reminds me of the small boy ringing his neighbour’s door-bell, and then running away as fast as he can go.”

When we acquire the habit of prayer we enter into a new atmosphere. “Do you expect to go to heaven?” asked someone of a devout Scotsman. “Why, man, I live there,” was the quaint and unexpected reply. It was a pithy statement of a great truth, for all the way to heaven is heaven begun to the Christian who walks near enough to God to hear the secrets He has to impart.

This attitude is beautifully illustrated in a story of Horace Bushnell, told by Dr. Parkes Cadman. Bushnell was found to be suffering from an incurable disease. One evening the Rev. Joseph Twichell visited him, and, as they sat together under the starry sky, Bushnell said: “One of us ought to pray.” Twichell asked Bushnell to do so, and Bushnell began his prayer; burying his face in the earth, he poured out his heart until, said Twichell, in recalling the incident, “I was afraid to stretch out my hand in the darkness lest I should touch God.”

To have God thus near is to enter the holy of holies — to breathe the fragrance of the heavenly air, to walk in Eden’s delightful gardens. Nothing but prayer can bring God and man into this happy communion. That was the experience of Samuel Rutherford, just as it is the experience of every one who passes through the same gateway. When this saint of God was confined in jail at one time for conscience sake, he enjoyed in a rare degree the Divine companionship, recording in his diary that Jesus entered his cell, and that at His coming “every stone flashed like a ruby.”

Many others have borne witness to the same sweet fellowship, when prayer had become the one habit of life that meant more than anything else to them. David Livingstone lived in the realm of prayer and knew its gracious influence. It was his habit every birthday to write a prayer, and on the next to the last birthday of all, this was his prayer: “O Divine one, I have not loved Thee earnestly, deeply, sincerely enough. Grant, I pray Thee, that before this year is ended I may have finished my task.” It was just on the threshold of the year that followed that his faithful men, as they looked into the hut of Ilala, while the rain dripped from the eaves, saw their master on his knees beside his bed in an attitude of prayer. He had died on his knees in prayer.

Stonewall Jackson was a man of prayer. Said he: “I have so fixed the habit in my mind that I never raise a glass of water to my lips without asking God’s blessing, never seal a letter without putting a word of prayer under the seal, never take a letter from the post without a brief sending of my thoughts heavenward, never change my classes in the lecture-room without a — minute’s petition for the cadets who go out and for those who come in.”

James Gilmour, the pioneer missionary to Mongolia, was a man of prayer. He had a habit in his writing of never using a blotter. He made a rule when he got to the bottom of any page to wait until the ink dried and spend the time in prayer.

In this way their whole being was saturated with the Divine, and they became the reflection of the heavenly fragrance and glory. Walking with God down the avenues of prayer we acquire something of His likeness, and unconsciously we become witnesses to others of His beauty and His grace. Professor James, in his famous work, “Varieties of Religious Experience,” tells of a man of forty-nine who said: “God is more real to me than any thought or thing or person. I feel His presence positively, and the more as I live in closer harmony with His laws as written in my body and mind. I feel Him in the sunshine or rain; and all mingled with a delicious restfulness most nearly describes my feelings. I talk to Him as to a companion in prayer and praise, and our communion is delightful. He answers me again and again, often in words so clearly spoken that it seems my outer ear must have carried the tone, but generally in strong mental impressions. Usually a text of Scripture, unfolding some new view of Him and His love for me, and care for my safety … That He is mine and I am His never leaves me; it is an abiding joy. Without it life would be a blank, a desert, a shoreless, trackless waste.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

hope monkey junkie

September 23, 2017

Lyrics by Aldo Nova – Monkey On Your Back

“let me tell you a story about two kids in the city

 see they both have a problem with life and it isn’t very pretty

there’s a kid called timmy he used to be pretty witty but then too many rides on the horse got him hooked and it’s a pity

 cause now he’s got a monkey he’s got a monkey can’t fight it monkey on his back he can’t deny it monkey he found a dragon that bites a hole in his arm at night where all the monney goes monkey,monkey on his back monkey,monkey on his back a dirty monkey

well there’s a girl called sally she walks the streets in the city she works down on the corner every night gives her money up to willy

you see her man’s big willy and when he met her she was pretty but he gave her a habit that she didn’t want now that’s a pity cause now she’s got a monkey….”

 Aldo Nova – Monkey On Your Back (not an endorsement of this band)

THE HOPE MONKEY JUNKIE

Two small words. When heard on the battlefield, in the hospital waiting room, or in our darkest thoughts, they bring despair. Two words that carry such anguish that no one can withstand their power. What, then, are these two unbearable words?

“No hope.”

Proverbs 18:14 tells us, “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear?” A broken spirit is a spirit without hope. The loss of hope is a terrible thing. Without hope, life’s troubles bring discouragement, depression, despair, and even death. We can bear the doctor’s frightful diagnosis with hope for a cure. We can endure the separation from a loved one with hope for a reunion. We can endure certain death with the hope of eternal life and infinite joy in the presence of God forever. But where no hope exists—we are undone.

There are those that have hope taken from them so often the thought of having hope scares them, for fear it will be stolen from them again. So they fight ‘the hope monkey’ it scares the crap out them. They live lives of quiet desperation, hoping to fly below the radar at church, work, even home. They had hope at one time, but that hope was based on something or someone fallible, transient, gone, died of cancer, aids, suicide, walked out the door, left them. They now feel betrayed because they lost hope and rather than hope again they throw off the hope monkey every time it comes around.

So now it’s one-night stands, or bar flys, no commitments, it’s just sex. Not sure I even caught your name, get thee behind me hope monkey. I won’t be hurt again.

Problem is the hope monkey junkies think it’s their fault, if only I had been richer, faster, taller, more pretty, spoke better, chose better, had better, lived better, been in the moment, not taken for granted, stopped at the red light, didn’t drink that beer. Been a better mother, father, son, sister brother, pal, hope monkey get off my back.

So with lowered expectations they are constant victims of no hope, they live in hopelessville, and have nothing but bad dreams, it’s like PTSD without shooting someone. They can’t tell you the last time they slept well or didn’t cry without provocation. Over eat, under eat, behavior disorders, gambling, acting out. Hope monkey junkies always sing the blues.

But the hope monkey junkie can kill the monkey.

As believers, we can easily fall prey to discouragement in a world of bad news and blasphemy of the excellence of Christ and the Gospel. But, despite our difficulties and bouts of gloom, we can’t afford to neglect Scripture, prayer, worship, fellowship, and ministry to others, because hope grows by an active love and pursuit of God in these things. Like faith and assurance, hope must be cultivated: “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end” (Hebrews 6:11). Perseverance and Bible study strengthen hope, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

We know for certain He will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). This has to be more than a cliché, it has to be a core believe, a foundation of true thought and belief and practice. In the midst of the most hopeless moment, that verse has to live in your heart, on your lips and in your brain. Write it on the wall, tape it to the dashboard, write it in shower.

As believers, we often have uncertain and certain hope at the same time. For instance, we may pray and hope for deliverance from a present trouble and not know if, when, or how God will answer our prayer (uncertain hope), while knowing He will ultimately deliver us and that our eternal destiny remains secure in Christ (certain hope). “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Uncertain hope involves the “secret things,” while our sure hope rests on the “things revealed.”

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5: 1-5).

“A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength” (Psalm 33:17). Hope can be uncertain when it stands on something or someone that may not be able or willing to fulfill it. And hope is sure when it rests in something or someone absolutely able and willing to fulfill it (Christian hope). Like faith, the object of our hope is Christ: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).

There are Christian hope monkey junkies as well as non-believers. Every life is fraught with pitfalls, more rainy days than sunshine. Mental illness can hit anyone. Death robs us of loved ones, jobs are lost, relations falter, faith wanes. Doubt creeps in, and for some it’s better to manage a level of pain, like cutting yourself, I’m in control.

But I’m here to tell you that the hope monkey can be nailed to the Cross. There is one body piercing that saves your life. Christ on the Cross killed the monkey. And brought us all to a living hope.

Bury the hope monkey, live free in Christ.

You have to choose a different lifestyle, say goodbyes to the pills, booze, sex, fights, debt, overspending, binging on donuts, secret stashes of food, secret lifestyles, double lives, risk taking, being a live hand grenade, this isn’t the complete list, so don’t think if I left you out you’ve escaped notice.

Kill the hope monkey junkie syndrome!!

By having a living hope!!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you, who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:20-21).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Comments, questions, prayer requests to the email address please.

crown of thorns

Yes, You Can

September 12, 2017

It goes without saying that unbelievers pounce all over Christian hypocrisy and judgment. A Hindu professor once found out that a man in his class was a Christian. The professor said to this student, “If you Christians were like Jesus Christ, India would be at your feet tomorrow.” A learned Muslim who recently became a Christian said, “If Christians were truly Christians—like Christ—there would be no Islam.” A USA Today poll shows 72% of unchurched Americans agree that a God exists, but the same percentage says “the church is full of hypocrites.” 44% say Christians get on their nerves. People flat-out don’t like Christians. Yet, when is the last time you heard someone say, “Man, Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists get on my nerves!” It doesn’t happen, does it? People show respect and honor to these religions. Now it’s easy to object, “This just isn’t fair. The media has turned Christians into cultural punching bags.” Yet, we must ask, “Have we brought some of this pain upon ourselves?” If we’re honest and humble, we would probably have to say, “Yes, guilty as charged.” Just stop and think for a moment. Are you notorious for criticizing the media? Politicians? Your teachers? Your pastors? Your boss? Your coworkers? Your neighbors? Your friends? Seriously, can you even watch a football game without being critical of the quarterback, the coach, or the referee? Most Christians are critical. Some are even bold enough to boast that their spiritual gift is criticism. Yet Jesus says, “Be slow to judge others and quick to judge yourself.” In Matthew 7:1–12, Jesus gives two exhortations dealing with judicious judgment.

  1. Judge with humility not superiority (7:1–5). In this first section, Jesus clarifies how you should relate to other believers in the matter of judgment. In 7:1, Jesus tells you what you shouldn’t do: “Do not judge.” No sentence in the Bible is more familiar, more misunderstood, and more misapplied than Matt 7:1. Therefore, we must first determine what this verse doesn’t mean. “Do not judge” doesn’t mean you can’t say anything critical or pointed to another person. In this context, Jesus Himself alludes to certain people as dogs and pigs (7:6). He also warns His disciples, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (7:15). In both of these examples, Jesus makes a judgment about various individuals. Later in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus requires His disciples to confront believers who are in sin (18:15–17). Furthermore, the New Testament is clear that Christians are to judge both error and sin. So despite what many people believe, the ideal Christian is not an undiscerning, all-accepting jellyfish who lives out the misinterpretation of “judge not.” Christians can and should judge.

So what does this verse mean? First, you are not to pass final judgment on any person. Final judgment belongs to the Lord. You are not in the condemning business. If anyone needs to be condemned, God Himself can take care of that. You should have no part in it. This is why curses like “God damn you” or “Go to hell” are so wicked! The one who utters these curses is attempting to play God! Second, you are not to judge the motives of others. The Bible says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Often we are quick to come to negative conclusions about others based on why we think they did something. But try as we might, we see only the outside. God alone sees the heart. What Christ means when He says “Do not judge” is that we are to refrain from hypercritical, condemning judgment. There is a universe of difference between being discerningly critical and hypercritical. A discerning spirit is constructive; a hypercritical spirit is destructive. All of this means you can judge what people do; you cannot judge why they do it. You can judge what people say; you cannot judge why they say it.

In 7:1b–2, Jesus tells you what God will do. He says the reason that you shouldn’t judge is “so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” When Jesus says “Do not judge so that you will not be judged,” He uses a future passive verb. He is referring to being judged at the judgment seat of Christ. In other words, God will use the same basic standard you use to evaluate others when He evaluates you! In Matt 5:7 Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.” If you are gracious in your dealings with other people’s failures and shortcomings now, you will receive mercy in the future when the Lord evaluates your life. As the old saying goes, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” The longer I am in pastoral ministry, the greater my empathy for the struggles of my pastoral colleagues. The longer I walk with Christ, the more I empathize with my fellow believers. The longer I am married and strive to raise a family, the more I can empathize with other couples and parents. It is hard to be who you want to be, isn’t it? I want to grant grace and extend mercy to others. I want to believe the best and be kind. But when necessary I want to love brothers and sisters enough to call them on sin.

In 7:3–5, Jesus tells you what you should do. He uses an illustration that comes from His background as a carpenter’s son (13:55). He puts it like this: “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Undoubtedly, Jesus didn’t say this with a straight face. He must have been smiling and giggling as He said this. Visualize a man with a plank in his eye walking through the lobby of the church trying to find a person with a speck of sawdust in his eye that he might remove it! But the very image of such a man looking into a mirror but unable to see the plank in his eye because he is blinded by the plank is funny indeed. Again, Jesus did not say that Christians are not to judge under any circumstances. His warning was against hypocritical judgment—someone with a “log” in his eye passing judgment on someone with a “speck” in his eye (7:3). He was warning disciples not to make the mistake of the Pharisees! Jesus’ concern was making sure that we are qualified to judge. This is why He said, “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (7:5). Thus, believers are to judge error and sin, but in a gracious and non-judgmental fashion.

We naturally tend to exaggerate. We often inflate the faults of others while at the same time underestimating our own. You could say we are perfectionists when it comes to other people, but extremely tolerant when it comes to ourselves. We find it so easy to turn a microscope on another person’s sin while we look at ours through the wrong end of a telescope! Yet, when we let Jesus convict us of our sin, we will be able to judge others with humility, sensitivity, and compassion.

Have you ever had someone attempt to help you remove something from your eye? If so, you can readily understand the amount of gentleness and tenderness that’s required. The eye is very sensitive. It takes a compassionate hand and a delicate touch to do surgery in the eye. When you have eye trouble, you need a doctor who knows what he is doing because even the slightest mistake can have catastrophic consequences. In the same way, when we minister to one another in the Christian community, we must do so only after careful introspection to make sure our own motives are pure. Then we can proceed with appropriate care and humility. Sometimes in our haste to help others, we can cause more damage than the original speck of dirt caused. This doesn’t mean you must be perfect before you can correct another Christian. However, Jesus’ words do require you to have dealt as decisively as possible with any obvious areas of disobedience in your own life before you attempt to correct someone else. Otherwise, it is as if you are attempting to perform surgery blindfolded. In that situation, neither the patient nor the doctor feels confident! Moreover, if you are committing the same sin, the judgment you pass on someone else boomerangs on you. And you definitely don’t want that! Remember, be slow to judge others and quick to judge yourself.

There are a number of ways you can lovingly confront a person.

  1. Make sure your own heart is right with God before you confront someone.

  1. Pray for the person that needs to be confronted.

  1. Set up a time with the person to talk, in private without interruption, but don’t put it off.

  1. When the occasion calls for it, confront immediately.

  1. Don’t take out your own anger on someone.

  1. Begin with a word of encouragement.

  1. Ask the person, “If I could share something with you that would help you, would you want me to?”

  1. State the issue as you see it. Give your perspective on the issue. Say, “This is the way I see it, please help me to understand.” Admit that maybe you misunderstood or got the wrong perspective.

  1. Ask how you can help the person.

  1. Be confidential.

  1. Pray for the person.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com