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

 

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

 

WHAT IF I CAN’T CONTROL MY CELIBACY?

 

The main reason Paul gives is that being celibate is a gift from God, and while he wishes that everyone had that gift, he recognizes that this is not so (7:7-9). You ask, “How can I know if I have the gift of being celibate?” There are three tests you can apply:

(1) Can you control sexual desires? Paul is quite practical and human at this point: “But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn” (7:9). If you are single and find that fighting sexual temptation is a daily, constant battle, then you need to pursue marriage. Paul is not saying that it is impossible for a single person to resist temptation because he later says that in every temptation, God provides the way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). Every Christian can be pure in thought and deed. But if all your energy is directed toward fighting the battle of purity every day, the best solution is not more self-discipline, but a spouse. Of course you still need self-control even as a married person. But God has given marriage as a legitimate safeguard against immorality (7:2).

(2) Are you constantly lonely in spite of close relationships with the Lord and with other believers? I am going back to Genesis for this point, where we find Adam in a perfect environment, in unbroken fellowship with his Creator, and yet God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). To be lonely when you’re single is not necessarily a sign of a spiritual problem. If as a single you can reasonably control your loneliness through Christian fellowship, then you may be able to remain single.

(3) To what ministry has God called you? As mentioned already, if God is calling you to a place where it’s unsafe or unwise to take a family, then you should remain single. I’ve read the biographies of C. T. Studd and other missionary greats, who left their families to take the gospel to difficult places. As I recall, Studd and his wife, who was too ill to go to Africa, were together only a couple of weeks during her last 11 years. David Livingstone left his wife and children for years in order to pioneer in the interior of Africa. While God accomplished much good through these dedicated men, their families suffered great harm. I believe their witness was marred by neglecting their families.

Let me make it plain: If you do marry, it should not be for the purpose of self-centered fulfillment and personal happiness. While marriage and children are good gifts of God that bring great joy, you should marry because you can better serve Christ in line with your spiritual gifts as a married person. The idea of getting married and settling down in suburbia with your nice home, two cars, good job, weekend recreational hobbies, and, of course, a church for the weekends when you’re in town, is completely worldly. All Christians are to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. If you seek first your own happiness, you will come up empty (Matt. 6:33; 16:25).

  1. If you’re not gifted for celibacy, pray and look for a godly mate.

Paul’s words in verse 9 often frustrates a lot of folks. He makes it sound so simple and matter of fact: “Let them marry.” Okay, so how do I go about doing that? There’s a lot of living packed into those three words! I don’t have specific chapter and verse for everything I’m about to say, but along with the apostle Paul, I give my opinion as one who, by the mercy of the Lord, is trustworthy (7:25; of course, Paul was inspired in saying this; I’m not!). Five suggestions:

  1. FOCUS ON PERSONAL GROWTH IN GODLINESS.

You can use your time as a single person to sit around feeling depressed and lonely. You can waste a lot of time in a frantic search for a companion, where you fill all your spare time with being around people. Or, you can use it to seek the Lord in His Word and in prayer. If you use your time to read and study God’s Word, to read good Christian books, to pray, and to serve the Lord in some capacity, when God introduces you to your life partner, you will be mature enough for the responsibilities of Christian marriage. If you want a godly mate, you’ve got to become the kind of person the kind of person you want to marry would want to marry, namely, a godly person!

Burn it into your thinking: It is never God’s will for a Christian to become unequally yoked with a non-Christian in marriage (7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). For some reason, it is usually Christian women who get tangled up with nice (they’re always nice!) unbelieving men, rather than the other way around. I don’t care how nice he is to you, if he is not committed to Jesus Christ and if he is not denying self daily to follow Christ, then he’s living for self. You’re going to be miserable married to such a person. Your children will suffer. Your devotion to Christ will be hindered. Don’t do it! There is no such thing as Missionary Dating. PERIOD.

  1. GUARD YOUR MORAL PURITY.

As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality.” Your body belongs to God, whose Spirit dwells in you. Therefore, you are to glorify God in your body (6:19-20). Paul says that even if a man gets involved with a harlot, he becomes one flesh with her (6:16). This is more than merely a physical union. Physical intimacy, even in a so-called “one night stand,” creates the illusion of personal intimacy. But it clouds and confuses the real issues that need to be the foundation of a Christian marriage. It creates guilt. It carries the risk of venereal disease. It defiles you and your brother or sister in Christ. As Paul states (7:1-5), the sexual relationship is proper for marriage, but only in marriage.

If you’re going to guard your moral purity in our sex-saturated society, you’ve got to plan for it. If you visit the Grand Canyon and don’t want to fall over the edge, don’t go near the cliff. If you want to guard your moral purity, plan not to get yourself into tempting situations. As Garrison Keillor has the pastor in Lake Wobegon say in his talk on sexual purity, “If you didn’t want to go to Minneapolis, why did you get on the train?”

I would encourage you to challenge the American dating system. If you just go along with the system, you’re flirting with danger. The dating system is designed to foster romance and to see how far you can go physically. As Christians, you should be concerned about getting to know the person in the context of moral purity. If I may speak man to man, even if you don’t intend to go all the way, any scheming, men, on how you can get a date into a romantic setting to see if you can “make out,” is sin. Your purpose should be to build up your sister in Christ and to get to know her, not to indulge your lust. Plan for purity! (you may think I’m kidding but every “date” your child goes on is a supervised date, by you the parents.)

  1. STUDY AND DEVELOP GODLY CHARACTER QUALITIES.

If you’re going to shop for a new car, you’d probably do some research. And yet many Christian singles never give any thought to what qualities they should be looking for in a godly mate! I’ve seen girls end up married to abusive men because their role models were movie stars or athletes, not men of God. If a man doesn’t show you respect, gentleness, self-sacrificing love, and other godly traits, don’t marry him. You’re not going to transform him! Men, burn Proverbs 31:30 into your thinking: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Know what you’re looking for (based upon Scripture) and pray fervently to that end! (if their apartment looks like a rat lives there run.)

  1. BE WISE, BUT NOT SUPER-SPIRITUAL.

By this I mean, God expects you to pray and wait on Him, but He also expects you to use appropriate means for finding a mate. Sometimes we get super-spiritual, thinking that God is going to rain down manna from heaven, when He expects us to plow our field and sow some seeds! (don’t read the wrong idea into that statement) There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself in situations where you may meet a godly mate. That can include involvement with campus ministry groups, attending conferences for Christian singles, getting a job at a seminary or other Christian organization, etc.

Also, even though godly character should take precedence, there’s nothing unspiritual about being physically attracted to someone. Read the Song of Solomon and you will discover that the couple isn’t extolling the finer points of each other’s personalities! In its proper place, there’s nothing wrong with physical attraction.

Also, don’t be so super-spiritual that you overlook liking the person. You’re looking for a companion, and a lot of companionship involves enjoying the person’s personality. You should have some common interests and be able to enjoy just being together without having to do things. You should be able to accept the person as he or she is, without major remodeling. Also, seek the counsel of those who know you well, especially your parents. Any strong opposition from parents should be weighed very carefully.

Seriously, visit the parents on the first date, see how that marriage is working, what you see is what you get, literally.

  1. Marriage is not the final solution to your problems; God is!

Marriage is a gracious, good gift from God. As Proverbs 31:10-12 exclaims, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Amen!

But at the same time, if God is not at the center of your life and your mate’s life, marriage creates more problems than it solves. Without the Lord at the center, marriage just brings together two self-centered people seeking self-fulfillment from one another. It doesn’t work. Put God at the center of your life. Pray that He will bring you a mate with the same commitment. Then joyfully serve Him together.

I’ve been married 44 years this year, and my wife and I often talk about the “luck” we had finding each other. One reason we “got lucky” was we did not violate God’s law regarding purity, not before and not after we met. I met her folks on the first date, she met mine on the second. We “courted” not dated. Plus our parents told us the plan before we started relations and seeking a mate.

To those that feel like they’ve blown it and are second rate goods and should take what they can get. STOP. Get good pastoral counseling and work on you image in God’s eye.

Regarding counseling, don’t believe the lie that a person is a Christian counselor just because they say so. Look at their training, if it mainly secular like a Masters in social working, run. They’re just niche’ marketing. Find a pastor who has trained to counsel according to the bible.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

more than one day

July 17, 2017

A young man with a bandaged hand approached the clerk at the post office. “Sir, could you please address this post card for me?” The clerk did so gladly, and then agreed to write a message on the card.

He then asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” The young man looked at the card for a moment and then said, “Yes, add a PS: ‘Please excuse the handwriting.’”

We are an ungrateful people. Writing of man in Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky says, “If he is not stupid, he is monstrously ungrateful! Phenomenally ungrateful. In fact, I believe that the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped.” Luke’s account of the cleansing of the ten lepers underscores the human tendency to expect grace as our due and to forget to thank God for His benefits. “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18).

REMEMBER: GOD’S DELIVERANCE IN THE PAST

Our calendar allocates one day to give thanks to God for His many benefits, and even that day is more consumed with gorging than with gratitude. Ancient Israel’s calendar included several annual festivals to remind the people of God’s acts of deliverance and provision so that they would renew their sense of gratitude and reliance upon the Lord.

In spite of this, they forgot: “they became disobedient and rebelled against You . . . . they did not remember Your abundant kindnesses . . . . they quickly forgot His works” (Nehemiah 9:26; Psalm 106:7, 13). The prophet Hosea captured the essence of this decline into ingratitude: “As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore, they forgot Me” (13:6). When we are doing well, we tend to think that our prosperity was self-made; this delusion leads us into the folly of pride; pride makes us forget God and prompts us to rely on ourselves in place of our Creator; this forgetfulness always leads to ingratitude.

Centuries earlier, Moses warned the children of Israel that they would be tempted to forget the Lord once they began to enjoy the blessings of the promised land. “Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . . Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth’” (Deuteronomy 8:14, 17). The antidote to this spiritual poison is found in the next verse: “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth” (8:18).

Our propensity to forget is a mark of our fallenness. Because of this, we should view remembering and gratitude as a discipline, a daily and intentional act, a conscious choice. If it is limited to spontaneous moments of emotional gratitude, it will gradually erode and we will forget all that God has done for us and take His grace for granted.

REMEMBER: GOD’S BENEFITS IN THE PRESENT

“Rebellion against God does not begin with the clenched fist of atheism but with the self-satisfied heart of the one for whom ‘thank you’ is redundant” (Os Guinness, In Two Minds). The apostle Paul exposes the error of this thinking when he asks, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Even as believers in Christ, it is quite natural to overlook the fact that all that we have and are—our health, our intelligence, our abilities, our very lives—are gifts from the hand of God, and not our own creation. We understand this, but few of us actively acknowledge our utter reliance upon the Lord throughout the course of the week. We rarely review the many benefits we enjoy in the present. And so we forget.

We tend toward two extremes when we forget to remember God’s benefits in our lives. The first extreme is presumption, and this is the error we have been discussing. When things are going “our way,” we may forget God or acknowledge Him in a shallow or mechanical manner. The other extreme is resentment and bitterness due to difficult circumstances. When we suffer setbacks or losses, we wonder why we are not doing as well as others and develop a mindset of murmuring and complaining. We may attribute it to “bad luck” or “misfortune” or not “getting the breaks,” but it really boils down to dissatisfaction with God’s provision and care. This lack of contentment and gratitude stems in part from our efforts to control the content of our lives in spite of what Christ may or may not desire for us to have. It also stems from our tendency to focus on what we do not possess rather than all the wonderful things we have already received.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We cannot give thanks and complain at the same time. To give thanks is to remember the spiritual and material blessings we have received and to be content with what our loving Lord provides, even when it does not correspond to what we had in mind. Gratitude is a choice, not merely a feeling, and it requires effort especially in difficult times. But the more we choose to live in the discipline of conscious thanksgiving, the more natural it becomes, and the more our eyes are opened to the little things throughout the course of the day that we previously overlooked. G. K. Chesterton had a way of acknowledging these many little benefits: “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Henri Nouwen observed that “every gift I acknowledge reveals another and another until, finally, even the most normal, obvious, and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with grace.”

REMEMBER: GOD’S PROMISES FOR THE FUTURE

If we are not grateful for God’s deliverance in the past and His benefits in the present, we will not be grateful for His promises for the future. Scripture exhorts us to lay hold of our hope in Christ and to renew it frequently so that we will maintain God’s perspective on our present journey. His plans for His children exceed our imagination, and it is His intention to make all things new, to wipe away every tear, and to “show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:7).

Make it a daily exercise, either at the beginning or the end of the day, to review God’s benefits in your past, present, and future. This discipline will be pleasing to God, because it will cultivate a heart of gratitude and ongoing thanksgiving.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

hard times

July 13, 2017

Kind of really going through a rough period here at the ranch, tough times, I’d like to report that I’m a shining example, a paragon of virtue, steadfastness and a sterling example of Christian maturity, but that would be a lie. I’ve had my good moments, but this week I would have to say the dark side seems to be shining a little more brightly than I’d like. So keep me in prayer that things turn around and hopefully soon.

“He comforts us in our every affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction by means of the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:4, Weymouth Translation.).

 

  It is a great comfort to know that everything our Father takes us through—much of which may be hard and heartbreaking—has a dual purpose. That which He utilizes to cause us to grow spiritually is at the same time designed to prepare us for His service. He does nothing in vain; He wastes nothing.

 

In the very service itself God makes the servant fit to carry it out. A person is first disciplined for service, and then in the service he is made fit by it for the character of it. God has not servants ready made. He makes them fit for His own service in connection with the race they have to run. The word ‘chasten’ is the same as that used in Ephesians with respect to bringing up the children: it is nurture. We attach too much the idea of severity, or retribution, to it.

 

  “Why does God take some through such deep and trying experiences? Why is it that He does not allow some of His children to have an easy way and to be satisfied and gratified with elementary things? The needs of others—that is why.

 

  “We know quite well if any have been able really to help others, it is because they have gone through deep experience, they have pioneered this way, they have paid a great price for this freedom. It has been costly, but worthwhile if others can be really helped.” GW.

 

  “But to God be the thanks who in Christ ever heads our triumphal procession, and by our hands waves in every place that sweet incense, the knowledge of Him” (2 Cor. 2:14, Weymouth Translation.).

 

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up on the emails and responses, we are in crisis mode and trying to not drop all the spinning plates. Which some folks may not be old enough to know what that means. Oh well, good thoughts y’all.

 

HOPE FOR DEPRESSION

July 8, 2017

DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

Psalm 42:5

New International Version (NIV)

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

DEPRESSION, IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE SOMETIME.

THE BIG DEAL IS DEAL WITH IT, DON’T LET IT GO( I’m not treating this lightly, nor am I dismissing it, as someone that has dealt with depression personally these are things that helped me).

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO DEAL WITH IT

1.REALIZE THAT DEPRESSION IS NOT NECESSARILY CAUSED BY SIN OR BY WRONG DOING, IT IS JUST A SYMPTOM THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG

  1. IT CAN BE CAUSED BY EXHAUSTION, ELIJAH THE PROPHET FELL INTO DEPRESSION AFTER A GREAT SPIRITUAL BATTLE 1 KINGS 19:4; IT IS NOT UNUSUAL TO ACCOMPLISH A GOAL AND THEN FALL INTO DEPRESSION, SO REST AND EXERCISE.

3.VENT YOUR ANXIETIES IN PRAYER, BE HONEST WITH GOD AND TELL HIM HOW YOU REALLY FEEL, RELAX HE CAN TAKE IT. ONCE I WAS SO MAD AT “THINGS” I WAS THROWING ROCKS AT HIM. (HE DIDN’T STRIKE ME DEAD)

  1. WORSHIP HIM, PRAISE HIM IN PRAYER, KEEP A HYMNAL WITH YOU EVERYWHERE YOU GO SO YOU CAN SING YOUR FAVORITE HYMNS. ITS HARD TO MAD OR DEPRESSED WHEN YOUR SING TO THE LORD.

5.LOOK AT OTHERS AROUND YOU, FOCUS LESS ON YOURSELF AND DOING SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE

  1. FOCUS ON SOMETHING NEW IN YOUR LIFE, GET A NEW HOBBY, REWARD YOURSELF WITH SOMETHING YOU LOVE TO DO AND HAVENT’ DONE IT IN AWHILE

  2. CALL A FRIEND, DON’T GO THROUGH IT ALONE

HEBREWS 13:5 “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU”

  1. GET COUNSELING, BIBLICAL COUNSELING, NOT SOME HACK WITH A SOCIAL DEGREE CLAIMING THEY INTEGRATED THEIR TECHNIQUES WITH THE BIBLE).

  2. STILL NOT BETTER SEE A REAL DOCTOR, NOT A CHIROPRACTOR; I KNOW PEOPLE THAT SEE A CHIROPRACTOR FOR MENSTRUAL PROBLEMS OR MIGRAINES, SEE A REAL DOCTOR, AM I DISSING CHIROPRACTORS’, YES, THEIR NOT NUTRIONALISTS, OR THEY BELONG TO THE NEWEST NATURAL PRODUCT, SOME OIL THAT YOU CAN RUB ON THE BOTTOM OF YOUR FOOT AND MAKE YOUR EARS FEEL BETTER. AND WHILE I’M AT IT, ROLFING, BALONEY, SCENTS, HYPNOSIS, HUMMING, WHISPERING, ASM, IF YOU HAVE RUN OUT OF ROPE SEEK A REAL DOCTOR.  

NEVER BELIEVE THE DEVIL OR ANYONE THAT WOULD TELL YOU GOD DOESN’T CARE.

BLESSINGS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

 

Among God’s characteristics, as he has revealed himself, none is more significant than his holiness (see Lev 11:44–45; 19:2; 20:7). The words holy and holiness occur more than 900 times in Scripture, and both the Old and New Testaments speak more about God’s holiness than any other attribute. Because of this characteristic God is not able to tolerate our sin. As Habakkuk 1:13 says: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.”

 Christ does not just save us from our sin, though; he saves us so we can become holy (see Eph 1:3–4). And as Peter says, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1Pe 1:15–16).

The Bible could not be any clearer, The reason for your entire salvation, the design behind your deliverance, the purpose for which God chose you in the first place is holiness.

 Holiness is associated with separation from the ordinary or the profane on the one hand and connection with God or the divine on the other. Holiness is not only being separated from sin and worldliness but being set apart for God’s purposes. Sanctification is the process by which we become holy.

  ➤ Make it your purpose—Of all the goals we might have for our lives, the most important is to pursue holiness, for it is God’s goal for us. As Oswald Chambers said,

  God has only one intended destiny for mankind—holiness. His only goal is to produce saints. God is not some eternal blessing-machine for people to use . . . He came to save us because He created us to be holy.

  If we love God, then we will commit to making holiness the primary purpose of our life.

 ➤ Don’t resist the Holy Spirit—Sanctification is by the Holy Spirit and is part of our conversion (see 1Pe 1:2). In this form, known as definitive sanctification, the Spirit sets us apart in Christ so we can be saved. The Spirit also works in us so we can be obedient to Christ, a process referred to as progressive sanctification because we are progressing toward holiness.

 In this latter sanctifying role, the Spirit (1) exposes our sin so we can recognize and turn away from it, (2) illuminates Scripture so we can understand its meaning and (3) helps us to see the glory of Christ. The Spirit is always willing to do this for us, which is why we must not “resist” (Ac 7:51) or “quench” (1Th 5:19) the Spirit.

 ➤ Commit to obedience—There is no holiness without obedience. As Peter hints at in verse 2, the Spirit’s sanctifying work is done so we can be obedient to Christ. As Jerry Bridges notes, “Obedience is the pathway to holiness.”

 ➤ Pursue Jesus, not moralism—As we become holy we will naturally become more moral. But that is not the goal of growing in godliness. Our pursuit is of Jesus, not moralism. “Holiness is not ultimately about living up to a moral standard,” says Kevin DeYoung. “It’s about living in Christ and living out of our real, vital union with him.”

 ➤ Expect improvement, not perfection—Too often Christians don’t strive to be holy because they consider it an impossible standard. But God is not leading us to an unattainable level of perfection, for someday when Christ appears we will be like Jesus (see 1Jn 3:2). Our lack of perfection in the meantime should remind us of our dependence on God and motivate us to continually strive to improve. John Calvin writes,

  As even the most perfect are always very far from coming up to the mark, we ought daily to strive more and more. And we ought to remember that we are not only told what our duty is, but that God also adds, “I am he who sanctifies you.” (Lev 20:8 ESV)

 

Remember Donovan P in your prayers, surgery on Friday

 

Keep Paul K, in prayer his up coming cancer surgery

 

Susie R, grieving widow, it’s been her first week after the death of her spouse of 55 years

 

Susan R, having ear surgery on her cochlear transplant

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

do your part

June 20, 2017

Today as never before, Christians are being called upon to give reasons for the hope that is within them. Often in the evangelistic context seekers raise questions about the validity of the gospel message. Removing intellectual objections will not make one a Christian; a change of heart wrought by the Spirit is also necessary. But though intellectual activity is insufficient to bring another to Christ, it does not follow that it is also unnecessary. In this essay we will examine the place and purpose of apologetics in the sharing of our faith with others.

The word “apologetics” never actually appears in the Bible. But there is a verse which contains its meaning:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you the reason for the hope that is within you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).

The Greek word apologia means “answer,” or “reasonable defense.” It does not mean to apologize, nor does it mean just to engage in intellectual dialogue. It means to provide reasonable answers to honest questions and to do it with humility, respect, and reverence.

The verse thus suggests that the manner in which one does apologetics is as important as the words expressed. And Peter tells us in this passage that Christians are to be ready always with answers for those who inquire of us concerning our faith. Most Christians have a great deal of study ahead of them before this verse will be a practical reality in their evangelistic efforts.

Another question that often comes up in a discussion about the merits and place of apologetics is, “What is the relationship of the mind to evangelism?” “Does the mind play any part in the process?” “What about the effects of the fall?” “Isn’t man dead in trespasses and sins?” “Doesn’t the Bible say we are to know nothing among men except Jesus Christ and Him crucified?” “Why do we have to get involved at all in apologetics if the Spirit is the One Who actually brings about the New Birth?”

I think you will agree that today there are many Christians who are firmly convinced that answering the intellectual questions of unbelievers is an ineffectual waste of time. They feel that any involvement of the mind in the gospel interchange smacks too much of human effort and really just dilutes the Spirit’s work.

But Christianity thrives on intelligence, not ignorance. If a real Reformation is to accompany the revival for which many of us pray, it must be something of the mind as well as the heart. It was Jesus who said, “Come and see.” He invites our scrutiny and investigation both before and after conversion.

We are to love God with the mind as well as the heart and the soul. In fact, the early church was powerful and successful because it out-thought and out-loved the ancient world. We are not doing either very well today.

People respond to the gospel for various reasons—some out of pain or a crisis, others out of some emotional need such as loneliness, guilt, insecurity, etc. Some do so out of a fear of divine judgment. And coming to know Christ brings a process of healing and hope to the human experience. To know Christ is to find comfort for pain, acceptance for insecurity and low self-esteem, forgiveness for sin and guilt.

And others seem to have intellectual questions which block their openness to accept the credibility of the Christian message. These finally find in Christ the answers to their intellectual doubts and questions.

Those today who are actively involved in evangelism readily recognize the need for this kind of information to witness to certain people, and there are many more doubters and skeptics out there today than there were even twenty years ago.

We can see more clearly where we are as a culture by taking a good look at Paul’s world in the first century. Christianity’s early beginnings flourished in a Graeco-Roman culture more X-rated and brutal than our own. And we find Paul adapting his approach from group to group.

For instance, he expected certain things to be in place when he approached the Jewish communities and synagogues from town to town. He knew he would find a group which already had certain beliefs which were not in contradiction to the gospel he preached. They were monotheists. They believed in one God. They also believed this God had spoken to them in their Scriptures and had given them absolute moral guidelines for behavior (the Ten Commandments).

But when Paul went to the Gentile community, he had no such expectations. There he knew he would be faced with a culture that was polytheistic (many gods), biblically ignorant, and living all kinds of perverted, wicked lifestyles. And on Mars Hill in Athens when he preached the gospel, he did somewhat modify his approach.

He spoke of God more in terms of His presence and power, and he even quoted truth from a Greek poet in order to connect with these “pagans” and get his point across: “We are God’s offspring” (Acts 17:28).

One hundred years ago, the vast majority of Americans pretty much reflected the Jewish mentality, believing in God, having a basic respect for the Bible, and strong convictions about what was right and what was wrong.

That kind of American can still be found today in the 90s, but George Gallup says they aren’t having much of an impact on the pagan, or Gentile community, which today holds few beliefs compatible with historic Christianity.

To evangelize such people, we have our work cut out for us. And we will have to use both our minds and our hearts to “become all things to all men in order to save some.”

As we’re considering how we as Christians can have an impact on our increasingly fragmented society, we need to keep in mind that many do not share our Christian view of the world, and some are openly hostile to it.

In fact, a college professor recently commented that he felt the greatest impediment to social progress right now was what he called the bigoted, dogmatic Christian community. That’s you and me, folks.

If we could just “loosen up a little,” and compromise on some issues, America would be a happier place. What is meant by this is not just a demand for tolerance . . . but wholesale acceptance of any person’s lifestyle and personal choices!

But the Bible calls us to be “salt and light” in our world. How can we be that effectively?I don’t have a total answer, but I’ll tell you after 30+ years of active ministry what isn’t working. And by my observation, far too many Christians are trying to address the horrendous issues of our day with one of three very ineffective approaches.

Defensive Approach Many Christians out there are mainly asking the question, “How strong are our defenses?” “How high are our walls?” This barricade mentality has produced much of the Christian subculture. We have our own language, literature, heroes, music, customs, and educational systems. Of course, we need places of support and fellowship. But when Paul describes spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10, he actually reverses the picture. It is the enemy who is behind walls, inside strongholds of error and evil. And Paul depicts the Christians as those who should be mounting offensives at these walls to tear down the high things which have exalted themselves above the knowledge of God. We are to be taking ground, not just holding it.

Defeatist Approach Other Christians have already given up. Things are so bad, they say, that my puny efforts won’t change anything. “After all, we are living in the last days, and Jesus said that things would just get worse and worse.” This may be true, but it may not be. Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour of His coming. Martin Luther had the right idea when he said, “If Jesus were to come tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today and pay my debts.” The Lord may well be near, He could also tarry awhile. Since we don’t know for sure, we should be seeking to prepare ourselves and our children to live for Him in the microchip world of the 21st century.

Devotional Approach Other Christians are trying to say something about their faith, but sadly, they can only share their personal religious experience. It is true that Paul speaks of us as “epistles known and read” by all men. Our life/experience with Christ is a valid witness. But there are others out there in the culture with “changed” lives . . . and Jesus didn’t do the changing! Evangelism today must be something more than “swapping” experiences. We must learn how to ground our faith in the facts of history and the claims of Christ. We must have others grapple with Jesus Christ, nor just our experience.

We need to:

  1. Go to people. The heart of evangelism is Christians taking the initiative to actually go out and “fish for men.” Acts 17:17 describes for us how Paul was effective in his day and time: “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the gentile worshippers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”

  1. Communicate with people. Engage them. Sharing the Gospel involves communication. People must be focused upon and then understand the Gospel to respond to it. It is our responsibility as Christians to make it as clear as possible for all who will listen. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).

  1. Relate to people. Effective witness involves not only the transmission of biblical information; it also includes establishing a relationship with the other person. Hearts, as well as heads, must meet. “So, affectionately longing for you,” said Paul to the Thessalonians, “we were well pleased to import to you not only the good news of God, but also our own lives, because you have become dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).

  1. Remove barriers. Part of our responsibility involves having the skills to eliminate obstacles, real or imagined, which keep an individual from taking the Christian message seriously. When God sent the prophet Jeremiah forth, He said, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth . . . and I have ordained you to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Sometimes our task as well is one of “spiritual demolition,” of removing the false so the seeds of truth can take root. Apologetics sometimes serves in that capacity, of preparing a highway for God in someone’s life.

  1. Explain the gospel to others. We need an army of Christians today who can consistently and clearly present the message to as many people as possible. Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart so that she heeded the things which were spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Four essential elements in sharing the gospel:

someone talking (Paul)

things spoken (gospel)

someone listening (Lydia)

the Lord opening the heart.

  1. Invite others to receive Christ. We can be clear of presentation, but ineffective because we fail to give someone the opportunity and encouragement to take that first major step of faith. “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we beg you in Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

  1. Make every effort by every means to establish them in the faith. Stay with them, ground them in the Scripture, help them gain assurance of their salvation, and get them active in a vital fellowship/church.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Scripture makes it clear that our eternal salvation comes by grace through faith; it does not come from ourselves but is wholly a gift of God (see Eph 2:8). So what does James mean when he asks, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (Jas 2:14).

 James is saying a faith without accompanying works is no saving faith at all: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (v. 17). Is James contradicting Paul? No.

  Paul is describing true and living faith; James is arguing against a false faith which consists of nothing but spiritually dead intellectual assent (vv. 17, 19, 20, 26)

. . . Faith and good works are both necessary. But one is the root and the other is the fruit.

Not only is holiness the goal of your redemption, it is necessary for your redemption. And as John Piper adds, “All the obedience of believers necessary for final salvation is obedience that comes from faith (1Th 1:3; 2Th 1:11; Gal 5:6; Heb 10:35–36; 11:8). If it does not come from faith it is legalism and gains nothing but deeper condemnation (Ro 9:32).”

 Hundreds of verses in Scripture confirm that growing in holiness is necessary for our salvation. Because holiness is so important to spiritual formation—and for our eternal destiny!—let’s look at some of these verses (emphasis added):

  ➤ The necessity of holiness—“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

 ➤ The necessity of doing good—“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (Jn 5:28–29).

 ➤ The necessity of obedience—“Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1Jn 2:4).

 ➤ The necessity to forgive others—“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt 6:15).

 ➤ The necessity of being free from the love of money—“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Mt 6:24).

 ➤ The necessity of love for God—“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1Jn 2:15).

 ➤ The necessity to love others—“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1Jn 3:14).

 ➤ The necessity of being childlike—“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).

 ➤ The necessity to bridle the tongue—“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (Jas 1:26).

 ➤ The necessity of perseverance—“Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory” (Heb 3:6).

 ➤ The necessity of walking in the light—“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1Jn 1:7).

 ➤ The necessity of repentance—“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Ac 3:19).

  While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all relevant verses on the connection between sanctification and salvation, it’s enough to convey the importance Scripture places on the subject.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com