suicide is special

October 22, 2017

Well today was a tough day, I had to do a funeral for a youth pastor that committed suicide. What made it tougher was his home church, the one he worked in refused to do his service as they were sure he went to hell.

After sex, the second most predominant idea in a college kid is suicide.

I’ve lost several good friends to self death, including some relatives it has been an area that I’ve struggled with for many years. To me it’s kind of like the chicken or the egg which came first, is it always depression than suicide or is it shame and them suicide. Fear than suicide.

This is the third person in ministry that I’ve done the funeral of due to suicide.

This is one topic I may change my mind on, but here’s my current thinking.

Since the early days of the church, suicide has been considered a grievous sin. Theologically, it is seen as an act of subverting God’s will.  Because we belong to our Creator and not ourselves, self-murder is on par with murdering another person.

However, all sin is a subversion of God’s will. So how and why did suicide become an “unpardonable sin”? Augustine asserted that suicide was an unrepentable sin based on the fact that “Thou shalt not kill” didn’t exclude oneself. Catholic thinker Thomas Aquinas lent his support on three points: suicide opposes love, it hurts the greater community, and it usurps God’s right to determine the length of his creation’s earthly life. In the Middle Ages, the doctrine was simply that suicide cuts short a person’s relationship with God. The view that suicide doomed one to hell continued with the Catholic church’s view that those who die with unabsolved mortal sin are bound to hell.

Protestant reformation leaders strongly condemned suicide, but generally disagreed with the Catholic church’s stance that suicide would condemn a person to hell. The reformers preached salvation through grace alone, and therefore, it is neither earned nor lost by human works–including suicide. Reformers also opposed the Catholic view as unsupported by Scripture.

Suicide is all that the church has labelled it: a tragedy, a sin, usurping God’s rights. It leaves deep scars on the family, church and community. It is a horrible and painful occurance. But, I believe that we are saved by grace alone, and Jesus’ righteousness clothes even the most wretched sinners, and that nothing can separate us from God’s love, and therefore could answer my friend confidently. There would be many days of pain and regret and healing ahead of them, but they didn’t have to add to that the thought that this Christ-follower was eternally doomed.

Trust me I’ve heard all the arguments, “oh, they weren’t really saved” or “they must have backslid.” I’ve heard pastors preach long time members of the church into hell. Some say, “we must always send them to hell to discourage others.”

What about the fat slob in your church that eat KFC three times a day and we preach him into heaven, with a knowing look of sadness but forgiveness. Death by Cop, death by donut, death by speeding. It’s all about death.

Having been in attendance on both sides of the fence for S.O.S (survivors of suicide) I will tell you the pain and loss of those let behind is a hell all of its own.

I know many folks that survived their suicide attempt and they were all screaming in their head as the bullet thundered down the barrel, “oh God let me live”.

It’s not the answer, but we have to many people living to much in themselves and not living in Christ. As a tag to yesterday’s devotion, “self interest” can lead to self death.”

If your struggling with this issue trust me I know firsthand how the impulse can be so strong, so sudden and seemingly the best answer, it’s not.

Please tell someone, several someone’s, if there is a secret in your life, trust me, tell the secret to someone, shame disappears when it’s no longer a secret.

Please reach out to us at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember I only check my email for this site at 1030 pm central time.

Call 1-800-273-8255 for the national suicide hotline 24/7

Blessings, peace and love, God bless the troubled.

read my mind

October 21, 2017

If you could read my mind love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Just like an old time movie

About a ghost from a wishing well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong

With chains upon my feet

You know that ghost is me

And I will never be set free

As long as I’m a ghost you can see

If I could read your mind love

What a tale your thoughts could tell

Just like a paperback novel

The kind the drugstore sells

Gordon Lightfoot.

first thoughts.

Number one; God can read your thoughts

Number two, the devil cannot read your thoughts.

Number three your spouse can’t read your thoughts

Number four, all tv mind readers, spirit guides, palm readers, horoscopes, mediums, they are all fake and or demonic.

Number five we are commanded to know the mind of God.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).

We are also told to “be of the same mind toward one another” which means essentially that we must develop and maintain the mind of Christ or God’s thoughts. We are to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Rom. 12:16; Phil. 2:5; 1:27). But if my thoughts are contrary to God’s, then I must exchange my thinking with God’s and for that process, He has given us His inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word. So what is our need? We are to study the Scripture, but for that to be effective, we also need to develop the art of biblical meditation.

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 4:4 Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.

The bible has quite a bit to say about our minds, thoughts, intents, feelings. More than we may think (pardon the pun).

Possibly the third most asked question; “how can I be a better Christian?”

Here’s the short answer;

Psalm 63:6 When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches,

Psalm 77:11 I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.

Psalm 78:42 They did not remember His power, The day when He redeemed them from the adversary,

Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy doings; I muse on the work of Thy hands.

Spend more time thinking about God and less about yourself.

One thing that amazes me about social media is how often people take pictures of themselves. Get over yourself.

He (God) must increase, I must decrease. Pretty simple.

Well I promised myself this would be a short devotion.

Think about God.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

SPIRITUAL STEROIDS

September 27, 2017

  If [since] ye, then, be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).

  The growth truths seem complicated and difficult to understand on first encounter. However, with progress in grace we find them to be as clear and logical as the truth of justification. For both time and eternity, all is summed up in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal. . . [to] know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ.”

  “The marvel of divine grace is that not only has everything according to the heart of God been secured for me through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but that I, a child of Adam, should be, not only in peace with God where I was under His judgment, but that I am transferred from Adam to Christ, and I am to have Christ formed in me now.

  “I am born of God—of new and divine origin—a new creation to be here on earth now where I was a child of Adam, in the grace and beauty of Christ, led by His own power to stand for Him; daily more and more transformed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord’ (2 Cor. 3:18).”

“I used to study this passage and that passage to obtain guidance and light. I see now that if I were really near Him beholding His glory (2 Cor. 3:18), I should be transformed, this glory should come from His throne so impressed upon myself that with Jesus living in my heart that His interests would, as it were, naturally control me, guide me and the growth process would occur naturally in the normal course of me growing more Christ like.

  “When the heart has found its rest and satisfaction in Him, it can turn to Him naturally and continually in every circumstance.”

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

God bless from scumlikuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE PRODIGAL CHILD

September 26, 2017

THE PRODIGAL CHILD

Kids are born naked and no instructional manual. I’m sure as parents we’ve all made mistakes and some of the stuff we’ve done as parents is borderline crazy.

Being a preacher and having you kids labeled PK’s (preacher’s kids) I was always amazed at the stories congregations would tell us about previous pastors and the behavior of their kids.

I had two kids, or I should say my wife had two kids, one was an angel and one was a demon. I kept telling my wife it was ok if she would admit the bad kid wasn’t mine, I’d actually feel better. This kid broke our hearts, I can’t tell you how many times my wife and I would go to bed and just weep over the things our one kid did.

As she got older the behavior got worse, as a pastor and marriage and family counselor I was extremely frustrated. What advice I gave to other parents that seemed to work had no effect on her.

Finally in a fit of desperation we arranged our clothes on the floor, my wife’s in the kitchen and mine in my study as though we’ve been “raptured” up and away. And then went and walked down to some neighbors.

We saw our daughter drive home from school and watched as we saw her pull in and go into the house. We waited 20 minutes and then walked in the house.

Well, like Paul Harvey, there is a rest of the story.

We walked in and she was on the phone, we thought she might be calling church folks to see who else might have got “caught up”. Nope, not our kid, she figured the rapture did happen and was calling her friends to come over for a party.

Tough nut to crack, hard row to hoe, whatever the phrase. In long talks to our daughter as an adult I’ve told her I would not have changed one single thing we did as parents. Now that she has had 3 kids and now has grandchildren the shoe is on the other foot. Grandkids are a great payback.

Let me end with this, you can be a good parent and still have a child wander off the reservation. We will trust the Lord until the day we die that she will invite the Lord into her heart and have a good relation with him, whether that includes us or not isn’t as important as that.

I sleep fine at night knowing that God is more concerned, caring and compassionate than I can be and He can do more to influence her life than I can.

So today I have one prayer request, pray for parents that have adult children that are not living a biblical lifestyle, that God will bring people into their lives that can reach out to them and guide them and trust that the Holy Spirit is very active in their lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

mason jars and God

September 17, 2017

I grew up in a bar, my dad went there every night after work. My mother would often tell me to go down and get him. So here is this 9 year old walking down the road at 11pm to drive his dad home. I’d walk in the door and my dad would turn to Bud the bartender and tell him to pour me a short one. I’d pull up to the bar and drink my little beer and listen to everyone talk.

What amazed me is you could say anything at all and they would just nod their heads or say; “I feel you man.”

I bring this up because when these men become Christians and leave the bar scene they will often come to me frustrated and overwhelmed because in church men can’t say what they’re really feeling or thinking because it’s usually carnal, earthy and lets say a bit crusty.

So how do you reach out to these, not raised in church, late bloomers about humility and obedience, or being godly men, when they feel they don’t have a voice to be heard in the church world?

As a pastor get ready to catch some flack when you are real and transparent about your own shortcomings and feelings. Believe the women of the church will crucify you for being a manly pastor. As an evangelist, I realized I could say just about anything because they knew I knew nothing about them personally. And being salty, crusty and genuine myself, I felt honored when after a sermon, men would come up and say “you’re the first preacher I’ve met I didn’t think was gay.”

Now you have to realize that most of my evangelistic days were spent in coal mining towns or lumber mills.

I soon realized that you could be more effective and believable if you were honest about your own short comings and used a little humor. Moonshine was big in the area and every church had a dinner on the ground when an evangelist came to town. After the service, the men would form a circle around me and offer a mason jay with a little ‘shine’ in it. there was always that moment of tension, now rather you agree with me or not I don’t really care, the apostle Paul said to be all things to all men. So I would take a little sip and usually say ‘damn that was really fine.’

The women folk were always amazed that I was asked back more often than any other evangelist. And I made sure the second time back the sermon would be a barn burner. These same women would also comment how ‘so and so’ had never responded to an altar call before, but this time…

Men in church are looking for pastors that can relate and be real. If I’m in a hunting church, I go hunting, fish and trap, coon dog hunting, even went to a pit fight once. But I never compromised the message. Oh, the stuff shirt would complain because the men were in the parking lot smoking.

I will never forget a guy who always dropped his wife and kids off for church and then went to a Bob Evans restaurant and drink coffee, he started coming to church. One day he came up to me and said; ‘you’re the first pastor that would let me come to church with cigarettes in my shirt pocket and not say anything.’

A month later he came down to the altar and later that month he got baptized.

Well I don’t know how I got to this point in the devotion. But pastors be manly, love your wife in public, be a strong parent to your children, don’t embarrass them in church. And stop shaking hands like a pansy and talking that gospel whisper like your Joel Osteen or sex phone operator.  And keep a good tactical knife in your back pocket and at least clean your nails with it. some guy will ask to look at it and then show you his. It’s a start.

Change comes slowly, but lets at least get the men in the church.

Send your rants, complaints, prayer requests to scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

RAMBLING MAN

September 16, 2017

Consider the difference between love and lust. “How can it be wrong if it feels so right?” is the excuse many give. But love is not merely a feeling. The supreme test for determining if something is right is not how it feels, but what God says about it. If sin never felt good, no one would ever be tempted to sin. Love is a choice—for you to do what is best for another person, and for you to make a personal sacrifice. “Husbands, love

your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Count the cost. The excuse “As long as no one knows, no one will be hurt” is a myth. Adultery hurts everyone involved. Guilt and God’s judgment is brought not only upon one person, but both parties involved. Adultery destroys truthfulness, credibility, and one’s testimony. “A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32).

I’ve lost count of the number of pastors that have fallen to lust and believed they had a right, or even it was biblical, or God told them it was all right. One pastor actually convinced his congregation it was biblical for a pastor to have a concubine, which he did. Thank goodness, his denomination found out and kicked him out.

I was asked many years ago to counsel a famous TV evangelist and the denomination told me that if he didn’t make himself accountable to me and follow through with one year of counseling as well as absent himself from the pulpit for that same period, they would defrock him.

In no uncertain terms, he told me his ministry was to important, and God had already forgave him and he didn’t believe the denomination would shut him down. Well it did and today what’s left of his ministry is a shadow of what it was. And he’s still as arrogant and unteachable as always. The funny thing is you will never meet a more legalistic, unforgiving man than him.

A church with a sweet spirit usually has a sweet pastor and vice versa, but there must be accountability. Besides all the bad theology Pentecostals have caused they have created a even bigger monster with the independent pastor, accountable to no one, not in finances or in theology. And thus gave birth to the toxic church.

Friends if your church is causing you harm, or is legalistic or the pastor is accountable to no one, I seriously suggest you examine its viability, and your own spiritual wellbeing. I get phone calls all the time wondering if I can recommend a church and to be honest, finding a church that is theologically sound, full of grace and not legalism, a pastor that is not a tyrant or just padding his bank account and truly evangelical. Well let’s say it’s harder than you think.

A few years back some well-known pastors got together and asked some pastors if they would take a survey and submit one month of sermons to be examined by a well-respected group of elders and pastors. In a city of 2 million, only one church went along with the plan. That church is a thriving, well regulated, healthy church and has gone through 4 building programs and didn’t build until they had the cash and would not go into debt.

Once when on a sabbatical, I visited a dozen or so churches and I always asked the pastor if I could see his bible. If the bible was blank (no notes) usually so was the pastor.

So good luck in your church hunting.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

potato chips

September 15, 2017

MOST REQUESTED DEVOTIONAL FOR REPOSTING, WHICH WE ONLY DO ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR.

SO BECAUSE YOU ASK, WE RESPOND, BLESSINGS AND PEACE

SO WHO’S WITH ME, YOU WANT TO GROW UP AND BE A POTATO CHIP.

BETTER LET ME EXPLAIN, LAYS POTATO CHIPS THEY HAVE ONE THAT’S LABELED, ‘LIGHTLY SALTED; IN A WEIRD WAY IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT THAT EXPLAINS THE FOUR GOSPELS AND THE BOOK OF ACTS (NOT COMPLETELY BUT ALMOST).

GOD IS LIGHT, HIS SON IS LIGHT, AND WE ARE CALLED TO BE LIGHT. IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN IT SAYS THAT DARKNESS (EVIL, THE DEVIL) CANNOT OVERCOME THE LIGHT OR EVEN UNDERSTAND IT. THAT’S HOW POWERFUL LIGHT IS.

SO WE ARE CALLED TO LIGHT.

WE ARE ALSO CALLED TO BE SALT

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 5:13 SAYS WE ARE TO BE THE SALT OF THE EARTH. WE ARE TO BRING FLAVOR AND BE A PRESERVATIVE TO THE WORLD. BUT IF THE SALT LOSES ITS FLAVOR IT IS NO GOOD; AND THERE IS THE PROBLEM.

FOUR THINGS WE ARE SUPPOSED TO DO AS CHRISTIANS.ONE, BE LIGHT, TWO BE SALT, THREE BE CHRIST LIKE, AND FOUR BE MATURE.

WE CAN’T LEAVE ONE PART OUT, WE ARE TO SHINE IN DARKNESS AND LET THE WORLD KNOW A RESURRECTED CHRIST; WE ARE TO HAVE AN INFLUENCE IN THE WORLD THAT ACTUALLY STOPS OR RETARDS THE PEOPLE AND THEIR SINS (CONVICTION AND THAT GOD LOVES THEM). BE CHRIST LIKE IN ALL WE DO SO THE LIGHT SHINES FROM US. AND GROW UP SO WE CAN GROW OUT.

SO HERE’S MY PROPOSITION, SPEAKING JUST ABOUT AMERICA, WE HAVE PRETTY MUCH FAILED IN EVANGELISM, WITNESSING AND SPREADING THE HOPE OF GOD. SO EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN OUR COUNTRY IS PRETTY MUCH THE CHURCHES FAULT AND OF COURSE THE SINFULNESS OF MAN.

ONE WE HAVE NO CONTROL OVER, THE OTHER WE DO. DON’T BLAME THE GOVERNMENT, OR POLITICIANS, THE QUESTION WE HAVE TO ASK IS ‘HAVE OUR LIGHTS GONE OUT AND IS THE SALT GONE FROM OUR LIVES.

HOW MANY FAMOUS TV AND BOOK PASTORS ARE SAYING THE BIBLE ISN’T HISTORICALLY RELEVANT, IT HAS NO PLACE IN THE PLACE OF MODERN MAN. HOW ABOUT ALL THE CHURCHES THAT HAVE ONE GOAL ON SUNDAY, TO MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY AND GOOD ABOUT YOUR SELF (BIG NEWS FLASH, GOD DOESN’T ACTUALLY CARE IF YOUR HAPPY).

THERE IS A WELL KNOWN PASTOR NEAR HERE THAT TOLD ME HE HASN’T PREACHED A MESSAGE ABOUT SIN IN OVER 15 YEARS AND WOULDN’T BECAUSE HE THINKS THAT MESSAGE WOULD DRIVE THE CROWDS AWAY.

ASK YOUR SELF ‘WHY DO I GO TO CHURCH?’ HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE YOU’VE WITNESSED TO SOMEONE, OR TRIED TO HOLD A BROTHER OR SISTER ACCOUNTABLE FOR SOMETHING THEY ARE HAVING A PROBLEM WITH.

BE BIG

BE BOLD

BE BRAVE

SO TODAY WILL YOU RENEW YOUR VOW TO BE A POTATO CHIP, VOTE YES.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com for questions, comments or prayer requests.

 

MUCH, MUCH, MORE

September 14, 2017

MUCH, MUCH, MORE

  I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

Our Father subjected our old nature to the Cross and its resultant death. Experientially, He applies the work of the Cross to our old life, thereby progressively holding it in the grip of that death. He is “unforming” the old nature in death, and conforming the new nature in life.

Living a life more abundant requires that what He did for us shall be made good in us. In the Cross He dealt with our sins, and He also dealt with ourselves; but that is something which has to be made good progressively. It is as we ourselves are dealt with in the power of the Cross that the way is made for His life to express itself in ever deepening fulness.

The fact is that it is the old life which is in the way of the new life and its full expression. It is the natural life which obstructs the course of the divine life. Thus what has been done for us has to be done in us, and as it is done in us that life becomes more than a deposit, more than a simple, though glorious possession; it becomes a deepening, growing power, a fulness of expression.

  “You may have been in the fires and have been having a pretty hard and painful time in your spiritual life, but that only means that God has been preparing you for something more. No, God is not a God who believes in bringing everything to an end. He is always after something more. And if He has to clear the way for something more by devastating methods (Cross), well, that is all right, for it is something more that He is after. There is so much more, far, far transcending all our asking or thinking.”

  “I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Tim A. in prayers, a person new to the faith and is dealing with the “old” crowd that don’t believe he’s changed.

Elena I. had gastric bypass surgery and is having some severe problems.

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

 

cuts like a knife

September 7, 2017

I was asked to do some counseling at a major college today, and do a group therapy session and then presentation to an auditorium full of young girls. The reason, cutting and self mutilation has become epidemic on the campus.

For the most part, she’s like any other teenage kid. Sometimes brash, sometimes sweet; sometimes mature, sometimes childlike; sometimes carefree, sometimes melancholy. It’s those melancholy times that set her apart. She carves her pain into her arms with a razor blade, or burns it into her flesh with a lighter.

She’s not alone.  As its publicity grows through movies, TV shows, books and music, so do the number of teens (and preteens) who try it.  CNN now reports that 1 in 5 teens have intentionally harmed themselves at least once. Many try it initially because it’s trendy (especially in goth and emo subcultures), but move on.

A portion continue the behavior as stress management or punishment or because of the addictive high they get.

Most of the habitual self-injurers are girls. Many of them are high achievers, have eating disorders, and/or have been abused. Most feel high levels of pressure, stress or expectations. The most prevalent self-mutilation is cutting, but behaviors like burning, choking, and throwing oneself down stairs aren’t uncommon. Though violent, self-injury is not a suicide attempt.

Unfortunately, because awareness of the behavior is so new, medical and mental health professionals often don’t know what to do with these patients. Parents bring their kids to a professional for hope, but end up even more discouraged when that expert tells them she or he can’t help their child. Think of it as the early days of AIDS. Most doctors were as confused as anyone else. It’s the same here. Most organizations specializing in cutting, self-injury and self-mutilation are created by laypeople directly affected by the problem. The medical community has pockets of advancement, but they’re slow in coming.

Behavior to watch for includes trouble dealing with stress, has an eating disorder, covers their arms or legs in all weather (wearing long-sleeved shirts, wide bracelets or sweatbands on their wrists, avoids swimming, etc) and explains away injuries.

If someone you know is a self-injurer, getting specialized help quickly is key. Find experts who deal specifically with this problem. They may need to be removed from people and media that encourage the behavior. They will also need your prayer support, unconditional love and a shame-free safe environment. For most habitual self-injurers, the problem won’t go away on it’s own. Our kids are under attack, and they need people to stand up and rescue them.

you need to check your kids social networks on a regular basis. Put a software program on your computer that will track and also keep them from web sites that can promote this behavior.

Don’t be shocked, Girls as young as nine years old are being pressured to have sex. I’m just going to be blunt here, let your young girl dress like a slut at age 7 and up and you are putting them at risk. Seriously,  get rid of your TV. no computer in the bedroom, have a community computer in the kitchen or dining room. Put locks on your kids bedroom windows to keep them from sneaking out. Put tracking programs on their cellphones.

It’s 1984 and your Big Brother. don’t be naive, talk to your kids everyday, about every topic in the world so they will talk to you about anything and everything.

Don’t put your head in the sand. My daughter was raped at church camp, cutting became her way of dealing with it. It’s taken 30 years for her to deal with it and be a healthy young woman physically, mentally and spiritually.

if you feel your in over your head get help.

God Bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com