THE BIG READ

August 19, 2017

the bible

People use the Bible in all sorts of weird ways. You’ve probably heard the story of the guy who felt he needed some guidance from the Bible, so he opened it at random, closed his eyes and put his finger on a verse: “Judas went out and hanged himself.” He thought, “That can’t be God’s will for me,” so he tried again: “Go thou and do likewise.” He knew there must be some mistake, so he tried once more: “What thou doest, do quickly!” It can be dangerous to use the Bible in the wrong way!

While we chuckle, it’s no laughing matter when people really use the Bible improperly. In 2 Timothy 2:14, Paul tells Timothy to solemnly charge those under his pastoral ministry “in the presence of God” that if they misuse the Bible, it will lead to ruin. We get our word “catastrophe” from the Greek word for “ruin.” Paul means, ultimate spiritual ruin! He names Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had gone astray from the truth, upsetting the faith of some with their misuse of the Bible! Paul is saying that…

I’ve lost count of the bible hucksters that misuse the word of God, and it’s not a new phenomenon as is indicated by our text.

I was visiting a church while I was traveling and as my custom I always take my bible to church. I was actually stopped at the door by two deacons. They wanted to know what I had under my arm. Now I admit my bible is pretty worn out, it’s gray leather and it’s a perfect match for the multiple strips of gray duct tape that hold it together. And it looks pregnant, as I have all sort of notes, illustrations, letters from old parishioners that have passed on and their family wrote me a particularly nice word about how they’ve appreciated my pastorate. There is the one and only letter I have ever received from my dad in it and some obit notices. But still what else would I be carrying into church that looks like a bible.

 I took it out from under my arm and said; “it’s my bible” and their response is memorable; “why would you bring a bible to church, do you think our pastor is going to say something wrong?” Well, DUH.

When I was in Seminary, if you went to church near the college and didn’t have your Greek New Testament with you, you often would be asked why on Monday.

I know that I have written several devotions about versions of the bible and I still stick to the idea that you read the KJV if you are studying Theology, the NASB if you’re studying languages, and for reading for devotional, well just about anything goes. (except the Message,, which is not a bible and not a version)

Or so I thought until today. I got a catalog in the mail today advertising ‘bible reading light’, that’s not an error. They know people are (these are their actual words) lazy, inept, undisciplined, untrained, to busy, to careless, to intimidated and not motivated.

So they have two versions where they (again their words) have cut out all the boring bits, traditionalism and historical flotsam.

To say I almost had a stroke would be putting it mildly. You know the old saying; “those that don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it?”

Obviously, they have forgotten the great Reader’s Digest version of the bible. The worst selling bible to ever come out. Or how about the outrage when the RSV came out for the first time, ‘one word’ capsized that version, In the book of Isaiah they said ‘he’d be born of a maiden’ not virgin. I still have articles from all sorts of publications saying this might be the work of the anti-Christ and it’s the devil’s bible, all that over just one word.

So know there’s an entire curriculum where the idea is that we are not reading the bible as God’s word, but it’s now to be treated (in their own words) as a book club. All the hard bits left out, all the begats and therefores, no chapter headings, no verses, no read letters, no references, just what they consider the bible lite version, oh and guess what it’s not called the bible just “the big read”.

Slap my mother and bite my a$$. You can’t make this stuff up. I guess all the verses in the bible saying it’s inspired, worthy, a blessing to read and hear aloud, not one jot or tittle will pass away, heaven and earth may pass away but not the word. I guess all that doesn’t matter.

You know how I’m always making lists, well now I have another bible version, whoops excuse me ‘the big read’ to add to my list of bibles I won’t read.

But when you see the authors in this catalog it really comes as no surprise. So the BIG READ,  brought to you by all the so called pastors that have brought all our modern heresies and only warm fuzzies, puppies and unicorns and faith in yourself matter. Ok I’ve got to quit or have another stroke.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Dear Prayer Partners, thank you for praying for Richard, he passed today. This guy literally spent his whole life on a boat, and when he retired guess what he did, yep  sea cruises, but not like you and me, he took 60 day cruises and 90 day cruises with only 2 weeks in between. The hospice called me today and asked if I could talk to him and help him let go and pass on. So I told him, “Richard this is it, the final cruise, the best cruise you’ve ever been on, it’s time to let go and get on board. And he did.

 

Popeye

August 17, 2017

STRONG TO THE FINISH

Image result for sayings of popeye the sailor man

Some of you may not be old enough to be a fan of the cartoon/comic of Popeye the Sailor Man. But as a little kid we may have been quick to say his trademark saying, but probably not as quick to eat spinach no matter what our parents said.

Back in the golden age of comic and cartoons there was always a good guy and always a bad guy. Right always triumphed over evil and it was ok to punch someone in the face, Popeye did it, Superman did, and especially the three stooges. What we teach little boys today is a spot for a different devotion.

But the theme of Perseverance has been a theme since the beginning of time.

In 490 BC, the Athenians defeated the invading Persian army in the plain of Marathon, located roughly 26 miles north of Athens. According to legend, the Athenians ordered the messenger Pheidippides to run ahead and announce the victory to the city. When he reached Athens’s public square, Pheidippides shouted, “Rejoice! We conquer”—and then collapsed dead from exhaustion.

Paul may have had Pheidippides—the inspiration for the marathon—in mind when he compared the Christian life to running a long-distance race (see 1Co 9:24–27). Like a marathon, the Christian life requires perseverance to finish well (see Rev 14:12).

Here are three things to know about the discipline of spiritual perseverance:

  1. What perseverance is—Perseverance is the steady persistence in a course of action or purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. In the

    Bible

    the term refers to the continual and patient dependence of the Christian upon Christ. In its spiritual application perseverance always has to do with continuance in the Christian way.

  2. Why we persevere—We must persevere because Jesus is coming: “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Rev 3:11). We can and must persevere because Jesus cannot be defeated—and therefore we, who abide in him, ultimately cannot be defeated either. As Oswald Chambers wrote,

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered.

  1. Where we must persevere—The New Testament everywhere urges perseverance, but it mentions certain areas explicitly. The New Testament says we must persevere in prayer (mentioned eight times, e.g., see Lk 18:1–8; Col 4:2), in doing good (mentioned five times, e.g., see Ro 2:7; Gal 6:9), in Christian teaching (mentioned four times, e.g., see Ac 2:42; 2Ti 3:14), in grace (see Ac 13:43; 2Co 6:1), in faith (see Ac 14:22; Col 1:23) and in divine love (see Jn 15:9; Jude 21).

GOD BLESS

From scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Richard this is his 6 day with no food and he’s still alive. He’s now on morphine and the spark of life has still not gone out. He doesn’t respond to any stimulus, I keep reading the bible to him, but it’s probably more for my comfort than his.

Pray for Stan R, he’s in his 80’s and still runs a large company, but he is wondering if it’s time for him to step down.

Pray for Lori R (no relation to Stan) she spent most of her life abused mentally, sexually and in ways we will never know. Now at age 42 she realizes that she must enter counseling to deal with all the issues and begin her healing. She is a dear sweet girl, but to prone to always being a victim. Help her in prayer to find her way.

 

Christian Lampoon

August 13, 2017

Chevy Chase/Billy Joel Poster

It seems there is much misunderstanding of the developing Christian life. For fear of one cause we run from another, much disinformation is abounding, and we have now developed “Box Christians”.  We read the labels and have “Christian Lite” vs. “Full Gospel” and “Dominion Christians” the “Tongue Waggers” and the “Lord, Your lucky to have me group” and let’s not forget the “Lord fill my Wallet” group (which is a twofer group) the cheats and the swindlers preachers and the dumb as a stone pew warmer that swallows it all. Then we have the “puffers and fluffers” they always have a ‘special’ word from the Lord and look down their noses at you because you’ll never reach their level. The interesting thing about them is there is a whole herd of these swine, and as they look down their noses at you as they roll in their own filth. They’ll cast the first stone, yet their computers are filled with porn, they lie and gossip and rob pastors of time and effort and make them weary and discouraged because nothing ever changes and they run off every visitor. Then there are dung heap Christians, as they lie in their own filth they claim in loud voices how excellent and shiny they are.

Is it any wonder why we have over 2000 different denominations in America, and a new church (always built on a split) on every corner.

So we choose churches like we choose cereals, we look at the cover and does something appeal to some innate sense of inner peace. Earth tones that calm or bright colors that attract us like a magpie. Or the pastor is famous and doesn’t take a salary because his sugar-coated books lull each one into a sleep coma so deep they’ll never hear the trumpet sound.

Then we read the ingredients, no tithing expected, sin never spelled out, little faith needed, padded pews or padded chairs (even better so we can move them and not sit too close to those not enlightened as we are group). There’s no counseling provided because we don’t need no stinkin counseling, the bible is the latest Jesus is homogenized version that you could substitute any one’s name in. oh and in the parking lot there is a drive through lane for communion, a happy meal and your prescriptions refilled.

Then there’s the mid week bible study, where the rich go to the rich homes and the poor stay home as they don’t have the gas to spare.

And the latest trend the social do-gooders, these are one of the fastest growing churches in America. They specialize in “threshold people” (we used to call them homeless). We don’t have any problems and can’t abide any sermon directed at us. But with enough air fresheners and we make sure we pee before we go to church so we won’t set on the same toilet and catch something or see them in the restroom peddling drugs, blowjobs and smokes. Ok, we lost all our old folks from church because they smell funny too and talk about the way it used to be and the good old days. So between the unwashed and 18 piece hyper amplified band with two drum sets, choreographed fat women in spandex and banners wiggling out with their rumps “oh how we love Jesus” 47 times. The hymnals are gone and we’re paying a worship director twice what the pastor is paid to give us a light show and colors and unicorns dancing on the walls as we sing songs that might be about Jesus or some gay guy, honestly, we can’t tell any more only somebody loves somebody a lot.

Welcome to the new, extra crunchy, won’t get soggy, varnished Clark Griswold totally non-nutritious church service.

Isn’t Jesus wonderful, just like a warm blanket just pulled from the dryer. (sorry I have to puke now)

I don’t have a migraine or a brain tumor and there is no rancor or sour grapes. Just deep sorrow as we have a religion one inch deep 3000 miles wide and the nation is going to hell in a handbasket as we have no roots and religion is like being gay, we just have to keep it private and in our bedrooms and oh wait, only Christian have to hide, the gays are out and teaching your kids in boy scouts how to camp, crochet and start a fire with a Bic.

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com probably fighting the crowd out front with torches and pitch forks now, oh, and by the way, it’s not really Frankenstein anymore, it is really the Freudian version of a confused transgender guy. And the gospel is a hate crime.

I’m playing Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression right now, turn it up!

Questions, comments, prayer requests to the email address please.

KNOW TO GROW

August 13, 2017

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KNOW TO GROW

  “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

  The heartbreaking knowledge of self-brings a life-giving compensation, which is knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The needs generated by the realization of the sin of self-produce the necessary motivation and hunger which cause us to focus upon the Lord Jesus and become conformed to His image. “And we all, while with face unveiled we behold in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are ourselves transformed continually into the same likeness” (2 Cor. 3:18).

 Many a new believer has obtained relief in his conscience from his sins, because of faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ; that is, he does not see further than Romans 3. He has faith in the work of Christ, but has not yet come in faith to Christ. He is like the woman who touched the hem of His garment, assured of His work but not yet acquainted with Himself.

 It is one thing to believe on the Lord Jesus, to be born again, to be saved. That is a wondrous thing as a beginning or start, but it alone will not take you right through all you must meet, to grow into him; and if you are really in the Lord’s hands He will see to it that by virtue of need you are drawn into knowing more and more of His Son. It is the normal course of a true, Holy Spirit-governed Christian life that, in order to get through, an increase of Christ, a growing discovery of Christ, is necessary.

  “That I may know Him” (Phil. 3:10).

After your salvation, God has but one plan for your life, become like His Son, to grow into the image of Christ. Good news, it will happen, the other news, (not bad) it’s going to hurt. No one seems to preach much on the growing pains of being a Christian. The idea of us becoming more Christ like is the same idea of a hammer striking a die and the image being cut into the metal of the coin itself.

God is the hammer, Christ is the die, you got it, you’re the thing being struck.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Hebrews 13:4; (NIV) Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Over the past 60 years, our culture has taken a U-turn away from the Christian view of marriage and sexual morality that was prevalent before that time. While divorce and sexual immorality are not new, they used to be frowned upon and marital faithfulness was viewed as desirable. But beginning in the 1960’s, our culture threw off Christian standards and openly embraced “free” sex and easy divorce. Openness toward homosexuality began to make inroads, so that now it is widely promoted as a way of life that should not only not be condemned, but be accepted as normal.

It would be naïve to think that the church is insulated from these powerful cultural trends. Frances Shaeffer observed, “People drift along from generation to generation, and the morally unthinkable becomes thinkable as the years move on” (cited by Erwin Lutzer, The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage [Moody Press], p. 57). It is a commonly known fact that the divorce rate among evangelical Christians is no different than that of our culture at large. We used to say “wait 10 years and then the church will be doing it, and then 5 years and now I’m not sure there is any lag time.”

Also, evangelicals are not doing well in the area of sexual purity. In a recent journal for pastors, commissioned a poll to determine how common is pastoral indiscretion. They found that since entering local church ministry, 33 percent of pastors had done something with someone other than their spouse that they considered sexually inappropriate. Twelve percent admitted to having extra-marital intercourse. Among those who were not pastors, the figures doubled! Also, 40 percent of pastors admitted to looking at sexually oriented media at least once a month!

Because of the importance of godly marriages as the foundation of our church and society, our text is extremely important. The connection with the preceding context is that love of the brethren (13:1) must start in the home, between Christian couples. To practice biblical love, husbands and wives must guard themselves against sexual infidelity. To restrict sex to marriage was a novel idea to many in the first century. Men often had mistresses or could go to temple prostitutes. To call people to lifelong fidelity to a single spouse was radically counter-cultural. It has become so again in our culture. We have an opportunity, through moral purity and godly marriages, to shine in the darkness around us for Jesus Christ. We can sum up our text:

Since God ordained marriage and sex within marriage, He will judge those who practice sex outside of marriage.

It’s really simple, if you’re married you can have “normal” sex. If you’re not married you can’t have sex.

I put normal, because of all the Christian couples I’ve counseled that have “not kept the marriage bed undefiled.”

The Apostle Paul says there are things so vile that they shouldn’t be openly discussed. So I’m not going to put an explicit list up of the “no-no’s” if you have a question email me at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

And again let me say this; if you have faltered, failed, fouled up, God forgives, don’t keep repeating the same mistake over and over again and wonder why you feel guilty.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

DOES IT MATTER

August 10, 2017

praying mom

DOES IT MATTER

Think about all the times you’ve prayed. Think about the situations that you were in when you’ve prayed a certain way. I can remember not having enough money to take my very sick infant son to the doctor or having enough money to even purchase the prescription. Literally no food to eat, I can tell you that for 2 years every meal, every penny was prayed in. I will also tell you that most of my prayers were lying face down on the floor in what I now call “praying the carpet lint prayers.” So it does make a difference, the situation and the prayer. But it’s more about our psychological make up and personalities, to God it may make little difference or it might mean a great deal, you decide.

  1. Bowing

To bow is a physical expression of honor and allegiance. The action of bowing is associated with worship. Even just the bowing of our heads communicates to our mind that we’re addressing the One to whom we’ve pledged our complete loyalty. When the Lord came down in a cloud around Moses on Mount Sinai, “Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship” (Exod. 34:8). King David, centuries later, said, “As for me . . . I will bow down in reverence for You” (Ps. 5:7). Bowing is an appropriate posture of prayer.

  1. Kneeling

Many other biblical references speak of dropping to our knees in prayer. Solomon’s monumental prayer at the dedication of the temple was given while he “knelt down in front of the entire congregation of Israel” (2 Chron. 6:13). Daniel, even at the risk of death for defying the king’s order against praying to anyone other than the king himself, continued kneeling three times a day at the open window of his home, “praying and giving thanks before his God” (Dan. 6:10). And one day, we’re told, “every knee will bow” before Christ—”in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10)—even those who refused to kneel before Him.

  1. Lying Prostrate

Sometimes bowing our heads or bowing on our knees still doesn’t quite reflect the devotion we intend. When Ezra the priest gave an all-morning, public reading of the law to the returned exiles in Jerusalem, “they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Neh. 8:6). Jesus, agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane before His torture and death, “fell on His face and prayed” (Matt. 26:39). And when John later saw Him in His resurrected, glorified form — as described in the apostle’s Revelation on the island of Patmos — he admitted he “fell at His feet like a dead man,” totally prostrate before the power of God (Rev. 1:17).

  1. Lifted Hands

Many prayers from Scripture were made with uplifted hands. The idea of folding our hands, while meaningful, is actually more recent in history. But the Bible does talk about raising our hands—”the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering” (Ps. 141:2). Paul said, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1 Tim. 2:8). Both Solomon and Ezra, whom we mentioned earlier, prayed while falling to their knees and lifting their hands—at the same time—a position of total physical worship and praise.

  1. Lifted Eyes

While closing our eyes is a good way of limiting distractions and maintaining focus in prayer, a common biblical expression was lifting the eyes toward heaven, like when Jesus “raised His eyes” before praying at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:41), or when “looking up to heaven” as He blessed the five loaves and two fish before multiplying them for the crowd of five thousand (Luke 9:16).

  1. Silence

Beyond physical postures, what we do with our voices in prayer is also important. Sometimes the best thing we can do in prayer is be still and know that He is God, without saying a word (Ps. 46:10). When awed and amazed, one is often in silence. When Hannah prayed in anguish for God to give her a child, “she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:13). No one could hear her silent prayer, but God heard and answered.

  1. Lifted Voices

Along with lifted hands and lifted eyes, the Bible also exhorts us to lift our voices to the Lord in prayer. “Give ear to my voice when I call to You,” David prayed (Ps. 141:1). “My voice rises to God, and He will hear me” (Ps. 77:1).

  1. Crying Out

“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud” (Ps. 55:17). This crying out is a frequent descriptor of prayers spoken in the Bible. Jesus, we’re told, during His life on the earth, “offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence” (Heb. 5:7). Various translations of the original words for crying out carry the idea of shrieking in pain, or making a sound like an animal in danger or wailing with deep emotion of spirit. It’s intense and loud. Heavy and heartfelt. Nearly half of the times when John’s Revelation talks about words being spoken in heaven, they’re explicitly identified as a “loud voice”—20 times in its 22 chapters.

If you’ve never felt the need to pray in a different position, think about it, there’s nothing magical or mystical about it, but there might be a time that it seems to make a great difference to you. Just don’t make it into a lucky rabbit’s foot that will always give you the result you want.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

MY RANT

August 5, 2017

We live in a day when human life is no longer regarded as sacred. The devaluing of life is spreading not only through violence in the ghettos, but also through abortion on demand, which results in the deaths of 1.5 million babies in America each year. On the other end of life, the push for euthanasia is further eroding the sanctity of human life.

A family in our church lost their 35-year-old son at an ATM, he was murdered for the 17 dollars in his wallet, he didn’t get to make a cash withdrawal, the man who shot him couldn’t wait long enough. When he saw how little cash he got he stood there kicking the corpse long enough for the cops to come and arrest him.

SOS, survivors of suicide, get one new member to their counseling group every 12 hours.

Planned Parenthood’s newest brochure doesn’t mention the word abortion, or fetus, or unborn child or even an “it” no, they talk about “the inconvenient moment” in your life.

It might surprise you, but suicide happens more among the elderly than the youth of our society. Desperation over health issues, the cost, loss of a spouse, income, their mental abilities, locked in a nursing home, abandoned by children, they hoard their pills or walk out in front of buses.

All of these problems stem from the erosion of the Bible as the standard for truth in our society. If you throw out the Bible and accept evolution, then man is just an animal and there is no basis for human morality, other than cultural norms. Without the Bible, there is no basis for affirming that humans are created in the image of God and that human life is thus sacred. For the survival of our nation and culture, we desperately need to understand and proclaim the biblical truth regarding the sanctity of human life.

Mathematicians and Social Scientists, evolutionists and Behavioral Psychologists want to say we are just an electric battery, built from primordial sludge and even our feelings and emotions are nothing but chemical reactions.

Children can’t be corporately punished (spanking) and we raise a nation of entitled, spoiled brats, now called the “Snowflake” generation because they are too delicate to handle hardships.

40% of adults age 35-40 are moving back into their parents’ home because of divorce or things have gotten too difficult for them to cope. And the senior parents are forced to spend their savings as their adult children are still trying to find themselves.

So let’s legalize marijuana and have whole companies shut down because no one wants to work, or can’t work because they’re to stoned.

Some of our states have almost 50% unemployment and the middle class is being taxed to death and our government keeps getting fatter and taking all of our liberties away. The erosion to our rights in the last 20 years is staggering.

When Noah and his family emerged from the ark, all human and animal life, except for that on the ark, had been destroyed. It was a new beginning for the human race which God had judged because of its corruption and violence (6:11-13). It is significant that one of the first things God affirmed to Noah was the sanctity of human life. God wanted to establish a foundation for the proper view of human life before the earth was repopulated.

God blessed Noah and his sons (Genesis 9:1). God’s blessing here provided for the propagation, priority, and protection of human life. Verses 1 and 7 show that human life is to be propagated to promote God’s purposes on the earth. Verses 2-4 show that human life has priority over animal life. (stick that PETA) And verses 5 and 6 ordain that human life is to be protected through capital punishment for murder. These verses raise some controversial issues. I encourage you to wrestle with the totality of Scripture in arriving at your conclusions, and don’t write me about capital punishment, I think we should back to public executions and criminals with the death penalty should be injected or hung within 90 days of their final trial, instead of us spending almost $40,000 dollars per inmate per year and over 2.5 million people in prison today.

Depressed yet?

Angry yet?

And let’s take the 1% of our society that is gay, and forcing everyone to bend over to their rules. (pun intended).

Our churches need reformation before revival and Christians need to stand up and be counted. The priority is not for the church to deal with “threshold” (homeless) people, but to once again be salt and light in totally corrupted, evil, sinful world.

And guess what, salt burns and light hurts. Jesus isn’t a warm blanket just out of the dryer, God is not our good buddy or a sugar daddy. Have you read the book of Revelation, that Jesus, is coming back with a sword, not donuts and Starbucks.

SO WHAT!

While it’s important to think biblically about these matters, I don’t want this message to be theoretical. What can you do to affirm the sanctity of human life? What can you do about your nation?

It’s really simple, it starts at home, a father blessing and teaching his children. A man being the Godly husband that God intended him to be. A Wife being what God determined what a Woman’s role is, not the View and certainly not Oprah. Then raise godly children who respect and are not callused spoil brats, that honor their parents no matter what their age is. And bring back dignity to our elderly. It starts at home and then God willing it will spread like wildfire.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

happy feet

August 4, 2017

Image result for picture of happy feet

This week I was reminded of the story of a little girl who went to visit her grandparents. It seems as though they held Sunday as the Lord’s day, and holy. They thought it should be a day of quietness, to walk, not run in it, and that the Bible was the only book that should be read. The granddaughter could not swing nor gather the flowers that grew in the pasture. While grandpa was taking his nap, she asked for permission to walk to the gate, and received it. Along the fence she stopped to watch the old mule, standing with his head bowed and his eyes closed. Reaching through the fence, she said, “Poor old fellow, have you got religion, too?”

“The Law lays it down that the Sabbath Day is to be kept holy, and that on it no work is to be done. That is a great principle. But these Jewish legalists had a passion for definition. So they asked: What is work? All kinds of things were classified as work. For instance, to carry a burden on the Sabbath Day is to work. But next a burden has to be defined. So the Scribal Law lays it down that a burden is ‘food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye-salve, paper enough to write a customs house notice upon, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen’—and so on endlessly. So they spent endless hours arguing whether a man could or could not lift a lamp from one place to another on the Sabbath, whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out with a needle in his robe, whether a woman might wear a brooch or false hair, even if a man might go out on the Sabbath with artificial teeth or an artificial limb, if a man might lift his child on the Sabbath Day. These things to them were the essence of religion. Their religion was a legalism of petty rules and regulations.”

Nothing will kill a church, defeat a pastor or drive out members of the church like legalism.

Having spent several years as an evangelist in both the bible belt and the New England states. I knew if pulled up to church and there were only a few cars, I might be in for a hard time. When you walked in the church you knew right away if you were going to meet brother love or mister done wrong on everything.

And for some reason Pentecostal churches seem to attract more than a few shares of stuffed shirt.

Oh, you could dance in aisles and shout “glory” but don’t sing the wrong song, or wear short sleeves on Sunday morning.

I once pastored a church where the little old ladies sat on the front row with blankets, so that when the altar call was given, they could lay the blankets across the young ladies’ legs if they deemed the skirts to short. Man, that was a tough church and it had a reputation of spitting out pastors every 12-18 months. I managed to stay 6 years. Talk about a rollercoaster experience.

Our Lord persistently and publicly chose to violate these traditions and to preach against them (cf. Mark 7:1-13). As a result of His refusal to comply to scribal regulations and traditions, the Lord Jesus earned the reputation of one who had no regard for the Law. In fact He was accused of setting aside the Law in deference to His own (new) teachings. The scribes and Pharisees who were regarded (at least among their own ranks) as the guardians of the Law were condemned by Jesus as hypocrites (Matthew 6:1,2,5,16; cf. 15:1-9; chapter 23).

So there must be balance in our Christian life, enough rules to keep on the straight and narrow, but enough liberty to actually enjoy the Christian life.

One secret is find a church with happy people, seriously, (pardon the pun) but a joyous, loving church will make every aspect more pleasant, regardless which side of the pulpit your on.

So good luck to those that are looking for a new church home.

P.S. avoid the kool-aid

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

STILL QUACKERS

August 2, 2017

Do you remember the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 20? A landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for their day’s wages, so they went to work. Mid-morning, he went out again and hired others and agreed to give them whatever was right. He did the same thing at noon and at mid-afternoon. Then, an hour before sundown, he found others and sent them into his vineyard.

When it was time to pay the laborers, those who came an hour before dark received a denarius. When those who had been working all day came, they expected to get more, since they had put in a long day’s work. But they also got a denarius. They grumbled about how unfair it was, but the landowner said, “I gave you what we agreed on, so take what is yours and go. But am I not free to be generous to these last men with what is my own?” That’s how God’s grace works. It is not dispensed according to merit. He gives it freely to whom He chooses. As Paul says (Rom. 9:16), “It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

The point that Paul drives home from Romans 1:18-3:20 is that we all are under sin. The pagans who do not know God are obviously under sin. But so are the religious folks (the Jews), who think that they are better than the pagans. All deserve God’s judgment and so all desperately need His grace (unmerited favor). The good news of the gospel is that God freely justifies and pardons every sinner who does not work, but believes in Jesus as the propitiation for his sins.

So in our text, Paul is reinforcing that point from David’s Psalm 32. The emphasis is on the blessing of God’s gracious forgiveness. (He uses “blessing” or “blessed” in 4:6, 7, 8, and 9.)

  1. The greatest blessing of all is to have God forgive all your sins.

To appreciate the blessing of forgiveness …

  1. WE MUST FEEL THE HEAVY BURDEN OF OUR GUILT.

A cartoon pictured a psychologist saying to a patient, “Mr. Figby, I think I can explain your feelings of guilt. You’re guilty!”

Ever since the fall, sinners have instinctively responded to their guilt by blaming others. When God confronted Adam, he blamed his wife and he even implicated God for giving him his wife (Gen. 3:12): “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” In effect, he was saying, “It’s her fault or Your fault, but don’t blame me!”

But blaming others doesn’t alleviate the guilt. True, if a person keeps denying his sin and blaming others for it, eventually he may develop a seared conscience (1 Tim. 4:2), where he feels no guilt, even for horrific sins. I read that the Cambodian dictator, Pol Pot, felt no twinge of guilt for murdering over a million of his countrymen! But even if the sinner’s conscience is seared, it doesn’t remove the reality that he will answer to God for his many sins.

So a guilty conscience is a good thing. It’s like the pain sensors in our body, which alert us to a problem. A person with leprosy can’t feel pain, and so he can burn his finger off without knowing it. If we suppress our guilt, it often leads to other emotional, physical, and relational problems. But guilt should get our attention by shouting, “You’re not right with God!” David suppressed his guilt over his sin with Bathsheba for about a year until the prophet Nathan cornered him with a story and then directly said, “You are the man!” You’re guilty!

Puritan Robert Bolton, who at first resisted the gospel, but later came to Christ after deep conviction of his sins, wrote (Instructions for a Right Comforting Afflicted Consciences, cited by Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards [Banner of Truth], p. 128):

A man must feel himself in misery, before he will go about to find a remedy; be sick before he will seek a physician; be in prison before he will seek for a pardon. A sinner … must be cast down, confounded, condemned, a cast away, and lost in himself, before he will look about for a Saviour.

  1. C. Ryle (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], on John 4:7-26, pp. 204-205) put it,

Never does a soul value the Gospel medicine until it feels its disease. Never does a man see any beauty in Christ as a Saviour, until he discovers that he is himself a lost and ruined sinner.

Or, as C. H. Spurgeon put it when describing his own painful five years of conviction of sin before his conversion (C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography [Banner of Truth], 1:54):

Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Savior. He who has stood before his God, convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honor of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed.

So for God’s blessing of forgiving all your sins to be the supreme blessing, you must feel to some extent the heavy burden of your guilt before Him.

We need to understand that when God forgives all our sins, it does not mean that He removes all temporal consequences for our sins. God forgave David, but He ordained some rather severe consequences on David and his family for the rest of his life (2 Sam. 12:10-15). Sometimes God graciously softens the consequences, but at other times He uses them to teach us to hate our sin The fact that we experience difficult trials does not mean that God has not forgiven us. In fact, it is one evidence that He has forgiven us (Heb. 12:8-10).

Guilt over your sins can cause you to keep your distance from others and to try to hide from God. If you are not in Christ, you have legitimate cause to fear His judgment. But God offers every sinner the supreme blessing: He will forgive all of your sins and credit the very righteousness of Christ to your account if you will cease from your own works and trust in what Christ did for you on the cross. Trust in Christ and you don’t have to “remember the duck.” The guilt will be gone and you will know the supreme blessing of having all of your lawless deeds forgiven.

Questions, comments, prayer requests to the email address, please.

We seek forgiveness, His forgiveness.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Snoopy_in_a_Rainstorm_by_DewCrystal

Doubt is good.” “Doubt is evil.” “Doubt is necessary for faith.” “Doubt is the opposite of faith.”

Ask a group of Christians about doubt and you’ll likely get a range of conflicting answers about its role. While the responses are well-intentioned, they leave us confused about whether we should or should not embrace doubt.

Part of the problem is there are numerous types of doubts. For this article, all references to “doubt” will focus on the type of doubt most often addressed in the Bible: uncertainty about the truth and reality of spiritual things, as seen especially in a lack of faith in and commitment to God.

The Bible is not an encyclopedia where we can look for an answer to any sort of question we have. But on the topics the Bible does address, we must give Scripture more weight than other sources. So what does the Bible say about doubt?

With only rare exceptions . . . doubt in Scripture is seen as a negative attitude or action because it is directed toward God by man (or evil spiritual agents). The word connotes the idea of weakness in faith or unbelief.

Doubt in Scripture can be seen to be characteristic of both believers and unbelievers. In believers it is usually a weakness of faith, a wavering in the face of God’s promises. In the unbeliever doubt is virtually synonymous with unbelief. Scripture, as would be expected, does not look at doubt philosophically or epistemologically. Doubt is viewed practically and spiritually as it relates to our trust in the Lord. For this reason, doubt is not deemed as valuable or commendable.

To build our trust and faith in the Lord, we can apply these strategies for dealing with doubt:

➤ Recognize that doubt is not natural, but it is normal—Doubt, like death, is not a natural state for humans. If our minds were functioning properly we would be able to discern all of reality, including spiritual realities, with absolute clarity. But because of sin, every aspect of the image of God in humans—including our intellect—was corrupted by the fall. What had been a sound mind full of the light of truth, full of the God who is the Truth, became unsound and darkened by falsehood.

While doubt is not a natural part of God’s creation, it is a normal part of our fallen world. We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, to find that people doubt—or that we ourselves are doubters.

➤ Be merciful to doubters—Just as we should not be too surprised by doubt, we should not be too harsh on doubters (including ourselves). We should try to overcome doubt gently and with grace, for as Jude says, “Be merciful to those who doubt” (v. 22).

➤ Identify and question your doubt—Most doubt about the truth and reality of spiritual things is due to a deficit in either knowledge or experience. This type of doubt is the least worrisome for honest seekers because God will show them the truth they seek (see Jn 8:32).

Too often, though, we are quick to think the questions that arise from our doubts do not have answers or that the answers we’ve been given must be wrong. In such cases, we must continue to search for answers while also questioning our motives. For instance, do we not want to believe a particular claim in the Bible because it would require that we give up a favorite sin?

➤ Don’t give your doubt so much attention—“We need to learn to be relaxed about doubt,” Doubt is like an attention-seeking child. The more attention you pay to it, the more attention it demands. By worrying about your doubts, you get locked into a vicious cycle of uncertainty.

➤ Pray and meditate—The most powerful tools we have for dealing with doubt are prayer and meditation on Scripture. Ask God to take your doubts away as you focus on meditating on his Word.

Blessings from God and salutations from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember, prayer requests, questions or comments to the email please.

Pray for Emily and her husband Brian, he is only in his mid 30’s and his heart is giving out, and is not a candidate for a heart transplant.

Sue H, she is in her 60’s and is a trust fund baby, never grew up, never had a job and never became responsible, and now she is almost broke and has wrecker her health and mind with fear and worry.