We are not the world

February 19, 2018

It’s always good to know who your enemies are. And, may I tell you, beyond the shadow of any doubt or peradventure, that you that you have three enemies at least, and they are three big ones: the world, the flesh, and the devil. And, no Christian can afford to be ignorant of these enemies, for, to be ignorant is to be unprepared, and to be unprepared is to fall and to go down in shame and disgrace and ignominious defeat.

Now, of these three enemies, I want to just take one, and talk to you about that one enemy—and, that one enemy is the world. And, I’ve entitled this message “Your Friendly Enemy,” because the world seems so friendly, so charming, so innocuous, sometimes beautiful, sometimes helpful, sometimes harmless. But, I want to warn you that what the Bible calls the world is an enemy and a deadly enemy.

Now, what do we mean when we say the world? We have to be very careful because we’re certainly not talking about the earth—Planet Earth. Sometimes the word cosmos, that’s translated “world,” speaks of Planet Earth. For example, it does, in Acts 17, where the Bible says the Lord made the world and everything that is in it (Acts 17:24). There’s nothing evil about the rocks and the trees, the birds, the ocean, the fields, the mountains. Thank God for these things. Jesus said, “Consider the lilies how they grow” (Luke 12:27).

There’s nothing wrong with the material physical universe, and never think that there is. And, when the Bible warns about the world, it’s not warning about Planet Earth. Do you have that?

When the Bible warns about the world, it’s not warning about the people of the world. The Bible says, in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). There, he’s talking about the people of the world. Now, if God loves those people, we ought to love them. “Red and yellow, black, and white, they are precious in His sight.” He’s not talking, therefore, about the physical universe or the physical earth, he’s not talking about the people, some 5 billion of them now that live on Planet Earth.

When the Bible uses the word world, what does the Bible mean? When the Bible says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world”—1 John 2:15? Well, it’s the word cosmos. And, what does that mean? It means a system, an order.

there is a system that the Bible calls the world, which is the world of wickedness—and we’re told, not to love it. 1 John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love [this system], the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

What we are talking about—this ungodly system—first of all, it has a prince. The prince of the world is the devil. Now, the Bible makes that plain. For example, in John 12:31, Jesus called the devil “the prince of this world” (John 12:31). What Jesus meant by that, is that Satan rules this ungodly system. He is the prince of this world. In John 14:30, again, he says, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30). That is, Jesus had no itch the devil could scratch. But, there again, Jesus called the devil “the prince of this world.” And, in John 16:11, He spoke, “of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11).

This world has a prince, and the prince of this world is Satan himself. That’s the reason the Apostle John said, in 1 John 5:19, “And we know that… the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). The whole world, the whole system, lies in wickedness. And, the word wickedness there may be personified. It literally means the whole world lies in “the wicked one.” And, the word lieth there actually means, “to sleep in the bosom, or the lap, of one.” That is, Satan’s got this whole world in his hand.

We sing “God’s got the whole world in His hands,” but, actually, the Bible says that Satan has this world in his hands. This whole world lieth, sleepeth, in the bosom, in the lap, of the wicked one. So the world—put it down, number one—has a prince.

There is an enticing network of ideas and values that the devil has skillfully woven together in order to attract you as a child of God. For example, 1 Corinthians 2:12, speaks of the spirit of this world (1 Corinthians 2:12). 1 Corinthians 3:19, speaks of the wisdom of this world (1 Corinthians 3:19). 1 Corinthians 7:31, speaks of the passion of this world (1 Corinthians 7:31). And, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s from the schoolhouse to the courthouse, from Madison Avenue to Wall Street, whether it’s Hollywood or your neighborhood—it makes no difference. There is a philosophy that is permeating all that we see out there, and, my dear friend, it is your enemy.

The world wears a cloak or disguise, whenever a freedom is taken away from you that means the world is winning. Think of every dictator, every socialist, that is the world, trying to control all you do. Who rules the world, the devil, who controls the tv you watch, the media you listen to and read, the devil. If you haven’t put on the filter of God’s word and spirit you are being brainwashed into believing one thing. That you need the world, the system, government to take care of you. No self-reliance, no individuality, no ability to protect yourself.

Here sign up for free food, free housing, free education, free health care, surely you’ve heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” there is no such thing as free, all this free stuff is borne on the back of the taxpayer, the distribution of wealth, socialism.

So any political figure in any country that promises to take care of you by robbing you of God given rights and freedoms is of the world and therefore of the devil. So how comfortable do you want to be? That’s what it really comes down to.

Now there is a difference between being provided for by God and a handout.

That moron standing on the street corner with the cardboard sign reading “God bless you.” is part the world, he’s depending on your guilt that your comfortable. He’s telling you he deserves to be taken care of, by you!

Ok, my blood pressure is shooting up, stay tuned.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

the hard way

February 17, 2018

  “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).

  John 3:16: The Savior laid down His life for His enemies. Have you ever thought of John 3:16 in that light? God, knowing that there would be those that would turn their backs on the greatest gift ever and the few who would accept the gift.

 1 John 3:16: We are to “lay down our lives for the brethren.” The death of the Cross spells love for both friend and enemy.

  “If we get a wrong idea about the inward working of the Cross we shall lose our own enjoyment of God’s love and fail to manifest that love to others. We have no doubt that, for the sinner, the Cross is the outstanding expression of God’s love, but when we realize that it brings us, as believers, into a very personal experience of being crucified together with Christ, we are apt to lose sight of the love of God.

  “We set our teeth, as though making up our minds that from now on everything is going to be grim and harsh. It almost seems that the carnal Christian may be cheerful and happy, but the crucified ones must expect to pass into a gloomier experience. Nothing is farther from the truth. The Cross will always bring us back to the love of God in ever-increasing fulness.”

The challenge of the Cross, the insistence that we have been crucified with Christ, may sometimes appear to be a dark and forbidding message. The Cross is not the end: It is the way through to His end. God is working for something beyond the immediate; He is working towards the glory.

  “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer. 29:11).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

school of faith part three

February 14, 2018

PART THREE WITH A RANT IN THE MIDDLE. (never be afraid to speak your mind, no one has to agree with your point of view, but we do need to express our opinions)

The School of Faith part three

God’s photograph album of all his believers has his saints with warts and all. I mean, I’m glad because really if Abram is the father of all them that believe, that can be an encouragement to me. Because when I see how God helped Abram in his faltering faith then I can learn how God can help me in faltering faith.

Genesis 12:1: “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country”—underscore that—”and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will shew thee.” Nothing could be clearer than that. Get out. Leave your kindred and go to the place that I will show thee. Did he do that? Well go down to Genesis 12:4-5: “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him.” Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t he say leave your kinfolks? Yes. Who is Lot? His nephew.

So first of all our faith falters or fails when we don’t follow the direction God gives us. Not being obedient to the Word of God. I’m always amazed at how people will say they believe the bible, literally, but refuse to follow the principles laid out in verses. For example; “not being unequally yoked” II Corinthians 6:14; that applies to marriage, business, all aspects. But it also has other applications, now these are just my personal applications from years of marriage counseling; a rich girl marries a poor guy, personally I’ve never seen it work; if they try to live in the ‘poor guys’ lifestyle, she’s unhappy. Either the daddy wants to ‘promote’ the guy or the keeps giving money to daughter, so she can be “supported in the manner she’s been accustomed to.” It never works out satisfactorily.

Or the mature Christian marries a newly saved person, oh, their marriage might make it but there is always discontent or frustration, or worse a compromise of values. Water seeks its own level(yes, there are always exceptions).

But, they didn’t go straight to Canaan and they didn’t leave everything that they had behind. Rather than going all of the way, he settled in Haran.

Now, does that remind you of anybody you know? I’d call them half way Christians. I mean, they’re saved, but they only go, it seems like they half way. Rather than forsaking this world as our Lord has taught us to do, we have those hang over sins. I mean, we bring the old things with us, just like Abram did. And, out there are the promises of God, but they’re unclaimed promises. And so, we’re sort of out of paganism, but we’re not into Canaan.

It’s kind of like the discussion of tattoo’s, mine are ok, because they’re Christian tattoos not pagan. Or they’re ok, because I’m not a pagan. Yet the bible says don’t do it. Will tattoos send you to hell, NO, will they cause confusion, probably, will they make you more spiritual, definitely not.

We do have this command in 1 Peter 3:3–4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Granted, this passage is directed at Christian women, but there is a principle here that may be apropos: namely, a person’s external appearance should not be the focus of our attention. Much effort goes into “elaborate hairstyles” and “fine clothes” and jewelry, but that’s not where a woman’s true beauty lies. In the same way, tattoos and body piercings are “outward adornment,” and we should be careful to give more effort to the development of the “inner self,” regardless of our gender.

In relation to tattoos and body piercings, a good test is to determine whether we can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use that particular activity for His own good purposes. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The New Testament does not specifically command against tattoos or body piercings, but it also does not give us any reason to believe God would have us get tattoos or body piercings.

An important scriptural principle on issues the Bible does not specifically address is if there is room for doubt whether it pleases God, then it is best not to engage in that activity. Romans 14:23 reminds us that anything that does not come from faith is sin. We need to remember that our bodies, as well as our souls, have been redeemed and belong to God. Although 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 does not directly apply to tattoos or body piercings, it does give us a principle: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do and where we go with our bodies. If our bodies belong to God, we should make sure we have His clear “permission” before we “mark them up” with tattoos or body piercings.

I don’t condemn them, but I will never endorse or promote them. It’s one more sign of how much more like the world we’ve become, and I believe they are a sign that most preachers are failing to reach out and make meaningful connections and relevancy to all generations. But that’s just my opinion, and comparing them to another abuse like overeating, is a straw man, and like comparing apples to oranges.

We’re sort of separated from sin, but we’re bringing some sins with us. In other words, it’s just a time of compromise. Now, I’m speaking to many today, you’re saved, and if you died right now you’d go to Heaven, but your faith is so weak. Now, I’ll tell you one of the reasons your faith is so weak, because you’re like Abram was with worldly compromise. Now, what’s the result of worldly compromise? I’ll tell you what is, it’s weakened faith.

Not a popular message, I’m sure, but trust me my heart is in the right place.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

PEACE AND LOVE BABY

February 10, 2018

I don’t know whether you know what humanism is, but humanism is the pervading philosophy of the media, Hollywood, today. Humanism is a philosophy that makes man the center of the circumference of everything. Now the humanists are an actual organization. That is, there is an American Humanist Association, and they make their goals very clear and very plain. But there are a lot of people who are not members of the Humanist Association who are humanists at heart.

Now, simply defined, humanism is man’s attempt to solve the problems of mankind independent of God. Man’s attempt to solve humanity’s problems apart from God. Now, one of the leading humanists has written this for you and for me to understand what humanism is all about, and I quote precisely: Humanism is the viewpoint that human happiness is its own justification and requires no sanction or support from supernatural sources.

Plain English, be happy and leave God out of it. Listen to it again: Humanism is the viewpoint that human happiness is its own justification and requires no sanction or support from supernatural sources.

But the most dangerous part of humanism is they don’t believe in an eternity. And without the concept of eternity there can be nothing sacred.

So we can do anything we want, with our mind, our bodies, there is no morality.

We need to confront people with eternity, with the love of God. Do you know why the “Jesus Movement” was so big in the late 60’s and 70’s? Love, baby, love. It was like the book of Acts, all over. Now granted there were a lot of cults back then and high drug use (that’s a pun), but churches were filled. The long hairs and the bald, flower power and grannies. If the church would stop all it’s in house fighting and love at least the brothers and sister in the body of Christ, we’d see church evangelism begin to flourish.

It starts at home, love and peace, peace and love baby.

Rock on.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

IT’ YOU

February 9, 2018

OUR ADVERSARY MIGHT BE YOU!

Do you know the devil is not all that interested in getting you to commit the grosser sins of the flesh? You know, sometimes you see a man, he’s all drunk in the gutter, covered with vomit and flies, someone says, look what the devil did to that man. No, he did it to himself. He did it to himself.

You see, some person who has become the cast-off plaything of lecherous and wicked men. Her face racked and ruined with the scars of sin, her body filled with disease, and all cast away. We say, oh, look what the devil made her do. No, she did that—she did that.

The devil’s kind of ashamed of those kinds of people. Did you know that? Did you know that there are some folks living such a way to embarrass the devil? You know, if the devil had his way, he wouldn’t want you acting like that. You know what the devil wants you to do? Wants you to put on a nice suit, get a nice tie, put on a beautiful dress, and get some pretty gloves and get you a little Bible and he wants you to come to church and he wants you to sit on the pew and he wants you to smile and look religious and live your own life without God.

The devil had rather send you to Hell from the pew than the gutter anytime.

The most dangerous person in the world is a religious person. Not saved, not living for God, just a funnel for hypocrisy and feel good about yourself false facts. Did you know there is such a thing as false facts?

It’s the bible twisted and perverted to suit a persons own set of beliefs. If you doubt that’s possible read all the sermons by Confederate Preachers endorsing slavery. Or for a modern example take Joel Osteen. False Facts. You say anything long enough you’ll believe it. The bible can say something in black and white, don’t do it, that’s what the bible says. But people will say anything to endorse their sins, their habits, mistakes.

My favorite lie is; “well, that may be a sin for some folks but not for me.”

Or how about, “well I did that or got that and look at me I’m still going to church.” Millions of Christians can do something wrong and yet they’ll never confess it or repent. It’ called ‘self righteousness’ and it leads other Christians down the wrong path.

Congrats, you are the devil’s favorite spokesperson.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

CREATING GOOD HABITS

February 6, 2018

Creating Good Habits

Proverbs 4 is a mini-course on how to live wisely. The main metaphor of the chapter is that life is a journey and we are to keep to the path of righteousness (see v. 18). We are to “give careful thought to the paths for [our] feet and be steadfast in all [our] ways” (v. 26). To do this we will need to adopt a number of life-changing behaviors, such as getting wisdom and understanding (see v. 5), guarding our hearts (see v. 23) and avoiding corrupt talk (see v. 25).

 Although Proverbs doesn’t use the word habit, it is implied throughout that virtuous habits are necessary to live wisely. Habits are unconscious patterns of behavior acquired through frequent repetition. We often acquire our habits unconsciously or through repetition forced on us by authority figures (think teachers and parents). But we can also directly develop habits through conscious effort.

 Once we understand the ins and outs of habits, we can harness the process to create virtuous habits like those mentioned in Proverbs 4. Virtuous habits also include behaviors such as reading Scripture and serving our neighbor, which help us to become more like Jesus.

 Want to create a new virtuous habit? Try this:

  1. Identify the habit loop—The new pattern of behavior you want to create will consist of the habit loop: a cue, a routine

    and

    a reward. Take a few minutes to think through (and if it helps, write down) the details of each part of the loop. Let’s use the habit of a daily devotional reading as an example. To set up the routine, to actually read the devotional, what do you need? Well, access to a Bible and some devotional material would be helpful. You’ll also want a time you can consistently carry out the habit loop (e.g., in the morning, before work). The more you understand the habit loop you are creating, the easier it will be to identify any problems that might prevent you from making it a regular behavior.

  1. Isolate the cue—Cues signal you to begin the routine. Research has shown that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories: location, time, emotional state, other people and immediately preceding action. A helpful cue will take advantage of as many of these categories as possible. For instance, your cue could be pulling into the parking lot at work (location and immediately preceding action) at 8:40 a.m. (time) when you are relieved to be out of traffic (emotional state) and no one else is around (other people).

  1. Create a reward—When creating a virtuous habit, surprisingly the reward stage can be one of the most difficult steps. Why should you be rewarded for doing something you should be doing anyway? And isn’t the habit—such as your devotional reading—a reward in itself? It’s understandable that you might feel guilty about creating a reward for a good habit. But keep in mind that you are not rewarding yourself for doing the right thing; you’re training your brain to create a neurological craving. If you “reward” yourself (by eating a small piece of candy, for example) after reading a devotional, it isn’t to actually reward you for your accomplishment. It’s merely a way to directly affect how your brain will respond to the habit loop.

  1. Plan and evaluate—Habits are difficult to consciously create because they have not yet become a habit. It’s the conscious part—making sure your brain is actively focused on the habit loop—that becomes the stumbling block.

  Making the habit loop part of your natural thought process requires effort and persistence. Ask yourself a few questions, such as,

  ➤ How will I handle obstacles?

 ➤ What if I miss my schedule and need to get back on track?

 ➤ Are my cues and rewards working like I want them to?

 ➤ Customize the idea to make it work for you.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Start Right

January 29, 2018

Start out right

Did you know that most of the marriage problems that I deal with, at their root, is nothing but selfishness? Now another word for selfishness is immaturity. Big babies. And most of the time, but not always, most of the time these big babies are the men. They think that God gave them a built-in servant when they got married and she’s to wait on him hand-and-foot, for somehow he’s the head of the house and he’s little, Lord, and she’s his servant. And she’s to wait on him all the time.

A recent survey on marriage, taken in America, has some shocking statistics. Did you know that fifty percent of the women who were married said, “If I had it to do over again, I would not marry the same man.” That’s shocking. Fifty percent of the women. One out of every two women said if I could do it again, I would not marry that guy. They surveyed the men. Seventy percent of the men said, “I would marry the same woman again.”

Now guys, what does that say about us? Let me tell you something else. They put a new ingredient in the survey and they asked this question: Does your husband help you at home? To the wives who said, “Yes” to that question, 82% of them said I’d marry the same man again. 82%. Selfishness is one of the major problems. It comes across in so many ways.

I’m constantly amazed at the men who don’t help their wives at home. Most wives today are working mothers, they work 40 hours or more per week, spend 40 hours working at home, kids, meals, laundry. And the husband is out golfing on Saturday, comes home and expects a beer and sex 5 minutes after he gets home. That’s male immaturity, grow up guys.

Did you know that washing dishes with or for your wife won’t shrink your testicles?

But guys sure act like it will.

Come on guys be a partner with your wife in all that you do. My wife shoots as good as I do, she can sharpen a knife as good as I can. We both love to cook, I can sew on my own buttons. We don’t take separate vacations, have separate checking accounts, we take care of each other.

You can build a strong marriage or just let go out the window, your choice. It’s easier to make a good marriage than to fix one, so start at the beginning.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

BULLET PROOF MIND

January 27, 2018

MAKE UP YOUR MIND

  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

  Just whose side are we on? The enemy who would occupy us with ourselves, or the Comforter who would occupy us with the risen Lord Jesus? The spirit of death, or the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? “Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).

If we have only learned the Lord at our own side, the tendency is to be occupied with ourselves, or to seek to be an object of consideration; whereas if we have been led by the Spirit to His side, His interests and concerns will singularly occupy us.

The natural inclination is to make oneself the center of everything passing, how it pains or cheers oneself, even musing on oneself as if one were the one solitary object for the sunshine or the cloud to rest on. If I am a hero, or a martyr to myself, I look at and regard divine things as they suit my thinking about myself, and not as answering to what He is thinking of me. I am confining the Lord to myself instead of rising up and seeing myself lost in Him, and then following Him in all the greatness and blessedness of His work and ways down here.

  “We may love as Jonathan, and follow as Ruth, but until we know that we are united to the Lord Jesus Christ in glory, we will not be free enough from our own interests, to take up His.”

  “[Who] made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7).

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

Praise from Anne, she has been sober 3 weeks, stayed on her meds, and the difference in her has been dramatic. Pray she keeps it up..

Pray for Todd, he’s been married a year and since Christmas his wife has been drunk, sleeping around and just mean tempered. He want’s to stay married, but she won’t come in for counseling or move back home.

Pray for Andrew, a very rare thyroid condition has him hospitalized and will have surgery on Monday.

Roger asks, to keep his mom (91) in prayer, she still lives at home and cooks and cleans, but he’s worried about her neighborhood really going downhill.

 

I really can change part 6

January 22, 2018

PART 6 IN I CAN REALLY CHANGE

WE CAN’T CHANGE IF WE DON’T UNDERSTAND OUR IDENTITY. IT’ LIKE GOOGLE MAPS, YOU NEED A STARTING POINT AND A DESTINATION.

As we probe the depths of our identity in Christ, we want to direct our attention to a phrase in one of Paul’s letters: “the new man.” Our look into the meaning of “the old man” and “the new man” (see Colossians 3:9-10) will reveal that our identity is not only individual but also corporate. This is a significant biblical discovery as we close our study of Identity.

Our culture can even influence our initial interpretation of Scripture. Often those who have been raised in an individualistic culture view the phrase “in Christ” primarily as an individual experience rather than a corporate one. But that’s not how Paul intended it.

Christian identity is inherently corporate. More often than not, the New Testament writers speak of identity in Christ in plural terms. Almost all of the pronouns in the great identity chapters of Ephesians are in the plural. Even the second person “you” in those sections is plural in the original Greek, which, unlike English, has a different word for “you” singular than “you” plural. Those who grow up in a Western culture are often blind to the corporate way the Bible presents the believer’s identity in Christ:

American culture is obsessed with the individual. Individual rights are the cornerstone of many cultural truths we hold dear. The image of the strong individual moving west of the thirteen original colonies to claim both land and a future is a powerful theme in the early American history. “Rugged American individualism” is a phrase we learn at a young age.

One biblical metaphor for Christian identity that is usually interpreted individually is the “new man” and the “old man.” The New International Version translates Colossians 3:9-10 like this:

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

“Old self” and “new self” here are literally “old man” and “new man.” The New English Translation renders the passage like this:

Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.

“Self” in the New International Version is a clearly individualistic reading of this passage. It’s defensible, especially if one has been steeped in the psychological revolution of the twentieth century. However, there’s reason to believe that we’ve misunderstood that phrase. New Testament scholar Darrell Bock points out that Colossians 3 uses second person plurals (“you” as a group rather than “you” as an individual). Bock thinks the “new man” may refer not to individual believers but to the whole body of a church community. Here he summarizes his analysis:

So the new man is related to Christ and consists of peoples. In other words, it is Christ conceived of as a corporate entity, that is, Christ’s body. Another way to say it is that the new man refers to the new community in Christ that he forms by joining people to himself as they are saved (i.e.,“buried and raised with him,” as Paul already declared in Colossians). An even simpler way to say it is that the new man is the church, the new community in Christ. (I’M STILL DIGESTING THIS INTERPRETATION)

If Bock is right, then a core part of a Christian’s identity is his or her connection to a community of other believers. In the same way that our earthly identity involves a nonnegotiable connection to other persons, whom we call our family, our heavenly identity binds us to a heavenly family. We cannot deny that we are and will remain “family” with our biological parents and siblings. While in recent years biological family bonds have been weakened and broken (at least in legal terms), one’s earthly father, mother, and siblings will always be so. Likewise, though believers may avoid contact with a local church community, at the core of their identity they are to be members of a larger community of Christians. When believers fail to be or are restricted from being involved with that corporate experience, then a part of their identity is distorted.

Consider the prayer of Christ on the night of His betrayal:

“My prayer is not for them [his first disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:20-26, emphasis added)

The analogy here is powerful. Just as Jesus’ identity is inextricably linked with His Father’s identity, so a Christian’s identity is to be linked with a community of other believers. Jesus’ prayer is that we be completely one, just as He and God the Father are one. Clearly, intimate involvement in community with other believers is nonnegotiable for Christians.

Having considered a few biblical references to corporate Christian identity, we see that a concept of identity that is limited to an isolated individual is incomplete. As members of the body of Christ, we have the privilege of sharing a heavenly identity that will bind us together for eternity. Our earthly relationships, then, serve as a significant context for our growth and God’s glory.

So we can’t really change all on our own, it takes accountability, corporate growth, communal participation. Think about this, if a person gets his/her feelings hurt in church what do they do? They drop out for a while or even permanently and either switch churches or stop going.

Folks, we need each other more than we realize for fellowship and growth.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

I really can change (part two)

Because each person is unique, God’s formative process is unique for each. And though the Spirit of God is the One who transforms souls, each individual has personal responsibility in the process. Many spiritual disciplines can contribute, yet God is primarily concerned with transforming the whole person, not just patterns of behavior. For this reason, no one method (be it a traditional spiritual discipline or another method) is the single critical component.

To understand our need for transformation, we must understand who we are currently, both as individuals and as members of the body of Christ. Who we are has undoubtedly been shaped by our past. Therefore, we explore various aspects of our identity, such as our heritage and temperament. What do these tell us about who we are and what we value? The interaction during this study bonds us and builds trust among us. Our goal is not to analyze, criticize, or control each other, but it is to grow and affirm what God is doing in and through one another.

In Identity, we ultimately want group members to see themselves in light of their identity in Christ. However, many of the values we actually live out stem from such influences as temperament, family background, and culture. Not all of those values are contrary to our new identity in Christ. For example, the value one person places on honesty, which he learned from his parents, is affirmed by his identity in Christ.

It can take a long time––more than a lifetime allows––for the Spirit of God to transform our values to line up with our new identity in Christ. We cooperate with the Spirit when we reflect on what our values are and how well they line up with our identity in Christ as described in Scripture.

One of the most significant characteristics of our identity in Christ is that we are now part of the body of Christ. The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation.

(I want to say this to all the door kickers, snake eaters, LEO’s and others, in the call of duty you may have “seen the elephant,” combat, war, taking a life. It is never an easy thing to live with. Isolation and “manning-up” doing it solo, is not the answer. Find a support group, talk it out, find other veteran’s, retired cops, talk it out). And Jesus love even you.

In order to experience intimate community in the biblical sense, we must learn to reveal ourselves to others. We need to honestly, freely, and thoughtfully tell our stories. Our modern culture makes it easy for people to live isolated and anonymous lives. Because we and others move frequently, we may feel it’s not worth the effort to be vulnerable in shortlived relationships. However, we desperately need to keep intentionally investing in significant relationships.

Real involvement in others’ lives requires more than what the term fellowship has too often come to mean. Real involvement includes holding certain values in common and practicing a lifestyle we believe is noble, while appreciating that this lifestyle doesn’t make us perfect. Rather, this lifestyle is a commitment to let God continue to spiritually form us.

Share your stories, the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t get a good reaction when you’re candid, find another group, talk to the pastor, your counselor, mentor, sober companion. But you will only find healing in the community of others who have made it through and out the other side. And it is a continuous daily struggle and renewal. One time isn’t enough, it’s not ‘one and done’ it takes being will to share.

Well that’s it for today.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com