I really can change (part two)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well that’s it for today.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

funny face

January 14, 2018

I have a good friend who because of a couple strokes he can’t smile. He’s a preacher. Now if you are wondering what one has to do with the other, here we go.

Because he looks so serious his congregation has developed into a serious crowd as well and a little legalistic. All this from not smiling. (possible?)

Then there’s Jerry, another preacher that is always laughing, playing practical jokes and his congregation is pretty much like him.

The non-funny thing is the serious preacher has a more mature congregation both in age and in the Lord. Jerry’s congregation is younger (he’s 75) and less mature in the Lord.

What ‘s my point, the goal of every preacher is to give a congregation a conscious in tune with the Love of God. They should have godly thinking that leads to a right heart. Can you be serious, sure, can you be funny sure. But in either case you must be thorough, all the Word of God, all the principles.

What come first, heart or mind. I’m going to say the best balance is the mind, then the heart will follow. A mind set on God makes a heart following God.

So a preacher that concentrates on emotions and feelings will have a congregation without maturity and principles. Their Christian walk will be a whirlwind of emotions, a roller coaster walk.

The sound biblical expositor will have a mature congregation and more sure of everything. The church will gravitate towards sound thinking and there will be less church problems. If the pastor is firm.

Aye, and there’s the rub, (been a while since I said that). To many Christian’s today want a socially acceptable church that doesn’t invade their privacy.

I’m going to stop right there and let you ponder that for a while.

God bless and peace in your life. From scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Let me tell you something very interesting. There are many, many descriptions for the Bible, but the best description that I can think of, and God’s favorite description for the Bible is the Word of God. Now, if you think about that. God, Himself, calls the Bible the Word of God. Let me just give you a few representative verses, and I could give you hundreds of them. Acts 4:31, don’t turn to these but listen to it, “And they spake the Word of God with boldness.” Romans 10 verse 17, “So faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:17, “And take the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.” Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword.” I Thessalonians 2 verse 13, “For this cause also we thank we God without ceasing, because when ye receive the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God.

Over five hundred times in the first five books of the Bible, God says, this is my Word. Over a thousand times in the prophets, God says, this is my Word. Over four thousand times in the Old Testament, the Bible is alluded to as the Word of God. Forty-four times in the New Testament it is called the Word of God. Now, wait a minute pastor, why are you, why are you saying that over and over again? I accept that the Bible is the Word of God.

If you really believe that the Bible is the Word of God, if you really believe that when the Bible speaks, that God speaks, it’s going to have some incredible implications in your heart.

Did you know that Jesus and the Bible are not identical, but they are inseparable? Did you know that God gave the same name for Jesus that he gave to his book? He calls his book the Word of God, we’ve seen that, but now write down in your margin, Revelation 19:13, it speaks of Jesus coming in power and great glory and it says this, “and he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood and his name is called the Word of God.” Now, what is the Bible called? The Word of God. What is Jesus called? The Word of God. A man and his word may be different but Christ and his word are not different. I’m not saying that Jesus and the Bible are identical, what I am saying however, is that they are inseparable.

Many folks made a New Year’s resolution to read their bibles, I pray that you keep that resolution and grow in your knowledge of God’s word.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Gwen, has the flu

Pray for Donald, he’s been battling skin cancer for more years than I can remember, he is really low in spirit right now.

Pray for Dave I, his 4th battle with prostate cancer.

Praise from Ann, she’s been sticking to her medication and not mixing alcohol into the mix and been feeling better than ever, pray her resolve stays strong.

 

Men of God

January 4, 2018

What does it mean to be a man of God? This term is fairly common in the Old Testament, but very rare in the New Testament. In the Old Testament it is used to refer to prophets (e.g. Samuel, 1 Sam. 9:6ff.; Shemaiah, 1 Kin. 12:22; Elijah, 1 Kin. 17; 18.; Elisha, 2 Kin. 4.; Igdaliah, Jer. 35:4); writers of Scripture (e.g. Moses, Deut. 33:1; David, Neh. 12:24, 36); and angelic messengers (Judg. 13:6, 7). In all these cases, “man of God” refers to someone who is sent by God to speak for Him.

In the New Testament, “man of God” is used once to refer to Old Testament prophets (2 Pet. 1:21), once in a general sense (2 Tim. 3:16, 17), and only once specifically of an individual. This individual is Timothy. In 1 Timothy 6:11–14, Paul addresses Timothy as “you, O man of God.”

Why should Timothy be singled out as the only man in the New Testament to be called a man of God? First of all, in the tradition of the Old Testament men of God, he was one who was called by God to proclaim His word (2 Tim. 1:6). Second, Timothy had been sent by Paul through the Holy Spirit to minister in Ephesus, in a very difficult and challenging situation. Paul called Timothy “man of God” in order to remind him of the awesome responsibility he bore to safeguard the truth against the false teachers in Ephesus, and also to encourage him with the reminder that he belonged to God, and therefore God was standing with him in his trials.

Is Timothy, then, the only man of God to walk the earth since Christ? Certainly not. In 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 Paul uses the term more generally: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . . that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In its broadest application, then, the term “man of God” applies to every believer, but as in Old Testament times, it still applies particularly to those who are called to proclaim God’s word. Those who are so called in modern times must be diligent to live up to the example of Timothy and all who came before him. They must be men of God in heart and deed, not merely in name; men totally possessed by God and completely dedicated to His service.

How does one recognize a genuine man of God, or how do those who are called to be men of God live up to their calling? In 1 Timothy 6:11–14, Paul gives specific instructions to Timothy which may be taken to apply to all men of God today. There are four qualities that identify a man of God (including, to a large extent, every Christian):

    (1) A man of God is known by what he flees from.

    (2) A man of God is known by what he follows after.

    (3) A man of God is known by what he fights for.

    (4) A man of God is known by what he is faithful to.

This is an excellent practical outline for every man of God who is called to speak divine truth.

As the old hymn says, “Rise up A Men of God, be done with lessor things.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

GOT WOOD?

December 29, 2017

GOT WOOD?

From the dawn of creation until today, in backyards and rainforests across the earth, there have been trees—trillions and trillions of trees. Imagine you are given the task of identifying the most important trees in the history of humankind. In retrospect, a trio of candidates would appear to be obvious contenders: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, and the tree that provided the wood for Jesus’ cross.

But what if you had to identify the tree before it changed history? Even if we were told which country it came from or the forest it grew in, the task would be absurdly improbable. Certainly no one would have suspected the importance of a tree cut down in Egypt to make staffs for goat- and sheep-herding shepherds. But just such a tree made a stick of wood that became the staff of God (see Ex 4:20), a staff Moses and Aaron used for stunning displays of God’s power.

“Consider the mighty ways in which God used a dead stick of wood,” wrote Francis A. Schaeffer. “ ‘God so used a stick of wood’ can be a banner cry for each of us. Though we are limited and weak in talent, physical energy, and psychological strength, we are not less than a stick of wood. But as the rod of Moses had to become the rod of God, so that which is me must become the me of God. Then, I can become useful in God’s hands.”

“God so used a stick of wood”—and he will use us, too, if we are,

➤ Consecrated—To be consecrated is to be set apart or dedicated to the service of God. In what ways has God set you apart for his work?
➤ Shaped—Before it became the staff of God, the stick of wood was shaped into a shepherd’s staff. While we might not fully understand how God is shaping us, we must trust that it is being done so we will become more useful in his hands. Add to your prayer request list that God will form you for Christlike service.

From a little acorn to a mighty oak, who knows what God will turn our lives into.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

HANG IN THERE

December 28, 2017

Hang in there

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations” (1 Peter 1:6).

We have our troubles. My dear friend, this world is not our home. We’re just passing through. We’ve got a home laid up somewhere beyond the blue. And, down here we have troubles and trials. You say, “Well, if I weren’t saved, maybe I wouldn’t have these trials.” Ok, listen up you’d have them anyway. “Man that is born of a woman… is full of trouble” (Job 14:1). But, listen what he says here, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Now, what does that mean? It means that living for Jesus is not all honey and no bees. It means that there’s going to be heartaches and tears. But, it means though our trials are many and though they are heavy, they are all under God’s control. And, notice he says, “But for a season.” Now, the idea here in verse 7, is of a goldsmith, who puts gold in a furnace. And, the idea is that he’s purifying the gold. And, they say that the goldsmith can know the gold is pure when he can see his face in it.

And, if you’re going through heaviness and heartache here don’t let that discourage you. The Lord is just simply working on you. For your good and his glory. Job said, in Job 23:10, “… when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). And, the trials are for his purpose and in his time and when he’s finished you’re coming through.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Lisa and Ty, been married 13 months and she walks out and says she wants a divorce. Ty is a wonderful guy, great husband. This is where a good guy marries a bad girl and thinks it will all work. She’s already out of town and waiting to party hard this New Year.

Pray for Lyle, great guy, has throat cancer,

 

TWO BOXES

December 19, 2017

In the early evening I do a lot of letter writing. I have found over the years that when people receive a letter, one they can hold in their hands it conveys a greater blessing or in this case a more stern caution.

A brother in the Lord, has wandered slightly off the beaten track. Like myself he has led a pretty wild life and the Lord has been gracious in His blessings. But like the prodigal lately he’s been more wild than mild.

23 years ago he killed his wife while driving drunk and stoned. He did his time in prison. And that’s where we met, I was the Chaplain. After getting out of prison he moved in with my family and a year later started his own business and he met a woman in our church that also had served 15 years in prison.

His wife passed of a heart attack early this year and she was the great stabilizing force in his life. She was the most gracious, tender hearted woman and was a great example of mercy and kindness. All the things he needed.

And now that she’s gone he listens to much to his past and not enough to grace.

So my dear brother please open this present early.

Two Boxes

I have in my hands two boxes

Which God gave me to hold

He said, “Put all your sorrows in the black,

And all your joys in the gold.”

I heeded His words, and in the two boxes

Both my joys and sorrows I store

But though the gold became heavier each day

The black was as light as before.

With curiosity, I opened the black

I wanted to find out why

And I saw, in the base of the box, a hole

Which my sorrows had fallen out by.

I showed the hole to God, and mused aloud,

“I wonder where my sorrows could be.”

He smiled a gentle smile at me.

“My child, they’re all here with me.”

I asked, “God, why give me the boxes,

Why the gold, and the black with the hole?”

“My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings,

the black is for you to let go.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Please keep Tim in prayer

Prayer for Rebecca D. this is a tough time for her and her sobriety.

Anthony, pray for his marriage.

Praise from Samantha, year 9 in sexual sobriety.

ONCE IS ENOUGH

December 18, 2017

You are eternally secure because of the nature of your salvation. Your security comes from the nature of your salvation. Now, your salvation is rooted in the abundant mercy of God. Look at it again, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us…” (1 Peter 1:3). Do you see the words “abundant mercy?” Do you know why you were saved? Because of God’s abundant mercy.

Do you think you’re saved by your merit? No: you are saved by God’s mercy. And, that which is the gift of mercy can never be withdrawn because of the lack of merit. Do you understand that? Salvation is not in your merit, it’s in God’s mercy and that which is the gift of mercy can never be withdrawn from the lack of merit. How do you keep your salvation? You keep your salvation exactly the same way you got it.

How did you get it? By the mercy of God. How do you keep it? By the mercy of God. Now, my dear friend, it is rooted in abundant mercy, it results in a new birth. Look again in verse 3: “According to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again “—that’s just another way of saying born-again— “He hath begotten us again…” (1 Peter 1:3). Now, look at the word “begotten.” Do you see it? In verse 3. It is in the Aorist (original Greek) tense. You say, “What does that mean, pastor?” It means dear friend, that when you were born-again, you were born-again once and for all. Something that is in the Aorist tense means it happened never, ever to be repeated. How many times can a man be born physically? One time. How many times can a man be born spiritually? One time. Have you ever seen a human being who was born twice physically? Of course not. And, you will never see a child of God who is born twice spiritually. Never, ever.

Don’t confuse carnal living and revival with a false theology or believe you can backslide out of God’s love, you can’t. trust me I’ve heard all the stories, “preacher, you don’t know how bad I got, and then I got saved a second time.” Not going to happen. It’s either real or it wasn’t.

Trust me, I’ve been that person. I’ve done the carnal, crazy, screw up everything you can, it was an act of repentance not re-salvation.

No, you can became carnal, and backslide, but not out of God’s salvation.

Renewal, yes, repenting, (many, many times) yes, revival, yes. One TRUE salvation experience.

God’s love does it all.

Now there are people who are deceived about their salvation, there are preachers delivering sermons in evangelical, Pentecostal, Baptist, Cowboy churches, that have never truly been saved. And then pow, it hits the fan and they have their first real salvation experience, showing the marvelous grace of God.

If you have doubts about your faith, your walk with God please email us at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

I will arrange a chance for us to talk.

God bless.

 

HUSBAND’S

December 13, 2017

Instead of using his leadership to control or dominate his wife, God calls the husband to use his leadership to love his wife. God planned this from the beginning. The husband would lead through loving his wife. What should this love look like? Paul teaches that the husband’s love should mirror Christ’s love for the church. In Ephesians 5:25-28, he says:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

What can we learn about a husband’s love from Christ’s example?1

  1. The husband’s love must be realistic.

The husband should have no fantasies about the woman he is marrying (v. 25). Christ loved the church, but he knew she was sinful and disobedient. Christ gave his life for the church while knowing her faults. His love was realistic.

In marriage, both mates must grasp this reality. In fact, much of pre-marital counseling is destroying the false expectations set up through romantic comedies and Hollywood. The husband must love realistically. This woman does not walk on water; she has been infected by sin just as he has. She must be reformed daily by God’s grace, and she must be loved through her faults. Scripture says, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Having a realistic love is important for both mates because if they don’t have it, they will become disillusioned. No doubt, one of the reasons for such a high number of divorces in the first year of marriage is because most love is not realistic.

  1. The husband’s love must be sacrificial.

He is to love her as Christ loved the church and be willing to die for her (v. 25). It should be understood that if anybody feels like the wife’s role is unfair, they should give more thought to the man’s. It is much easier to submit to someone than to give one’s life for that person. This love that the husband is supposed to embody is impossible apart from the grace of God. To love sacrificially means the husband must often give up other things in order to serve and please his wife. He must sacrifice for her. He must sacrifice time, friendships, career, entertainment, hobbies, etc., in order to love his wife like Christ.

  1. The husband’s love must be purposeful.

The purpose of Christ’s love is to make the church holy, cleansing her by washing with the Word (v. 26-27). Christ’s purpose is to make the church a perfect bride. Similarly, the husband must love his wife through teaching her Scripture, getting her involved in a Bible preaching church, and encouraging her to get involved with the ministries of the church.

He must seek to cultivate not only her character but also her calling, so she can fulfill God’s plans for her life. He must help her discern her gifts and talents and encourage her in the use of them for the glory of God. This purposeful love also means at times admonishing her to help her know Christ more. Every man should consider if he is ready and willing to love a woman in this way even before getting married. Is he ready to be a spiritual leader? Is he ready to be devoted to the spiritual development of his wife?

  1. The husband’s love must be personal.

He must love her as his own body (v. 28). Every day the husband brushes his teeth, combs his hair, and clothes himself. Every day he maintains his body. Sadly, husbands often go weeks without ministering to their wives. It is very easy to get so busy with life, work, and ministry that one inadvertently allows weeds to grow in his marriage. Love must be personal. He must love her like his own body. He must daily take time to cultivate a happy home.

When the world hears the phrase “male leadership,” it often has negative connotations, but it should not if properly understood. Consider what Christ taught his disciples about leadership in Luke 22:25-27.

Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.’

First Corinthians 11:3 says: “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

In this verse, we see the divine prerogative: Christ submits to God, the man submits to Christ, and the woman submits to man. If the husband is going to lead his wife according to God’s design, he must first submit to Christ. It is for this reason that a wife must submit to her husband, for when she is following her husband, she is really submitting to Christ’s delegated authority.

This brings a grave responsibility to each husband to know Christ’s leading. He must truly be somebody who abides in God’s Word and prayer so that he can discern God’s voice. The man considering marriage should ask himself, “Am I pursuing the Lord in such a way that I can know his voice in order to lovingly lead a wife and a family?” It has commonly been said, “Only those who are near, hear.” The husband must be near Christ, his head, to hear his voice. Only the husband who is near Christ will be able to model Christ and lead properly.

This is also important for single women to hear and consider because not every man is spiritually fit for leadership. They should ask themselves about a potential husband, “Does this man love Christ? Is this man following Christ? Is he spiritually fit to lead?” One can be sure that if a single man is not faithful in following Christ, he will not be faithful when married. Scripture says that he who is unfaithful with little, will be unfaithful with much (Luke 16:10, paraphrase). Husbands must continually be submitting to the leadership of Christ in order to properly lead their homes.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

MARRIAGE 101

December 11, 2017

Marriage 101

We learn from the Bible that the Lord Jesus honored the marriage ceremony with His presence working there the beginning of His miracles. These miracles indicate that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the Sovereign and the Creator of the universe, and the wedding ceremony was the first used to demonstrate this glorious fact.

His purpose on earth was to “seek and to save that which was lost,” As the scriptures declare, “God commended His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The one who sanctifies the marriage union is the Savior of the universe. And the scripture says, “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” And therefore His invitation to all who witness the wedding ceremony is to “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”, “And Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”

The Bible, which is the Word of God declares marriage to be honorable. It was ordained of God in the time of man’s innocency, before he had sinned against the Lord. Since marriage has always been a divine institution, it is to be entered into soberly and discreetly, as in His sight.

God Himself united the first members of human family, which fact alone should abolish all light and frivolous views of marriage. The bridegroom and bride are partners in life, each forsaking mother and father to cleave unto the other. They share a common name, a united household, a common experience, and a love which blesses and transcends all the cares and trials of life. The mathematics of love–Add and multiply joys while subtracting and dividing the sorrows.

Hopefully you recognize that as wedding vows, they have changed quite a bit since I got married 40+ years ago. Having done hundreds of weddings in hundreds of different settings one thing bothers me. Taking the ceremony seriously.

Number one, I won’t marry anyone that won’t have pre-marital counseling.

Number two, if they are sexually active before they wedding ceremony that have to stop having sex until after the ceremony (yes I’m serious).

Number three, are they equally yoked (that’s a whole different devotion idea I will have to go into.)

Number four, can I convince them that this is for life, “till death do we part”.

Number five, there ain’t no thing as a two headed rooster, someone has to be the head.  (another separate devotion).

Number six, it’s in the vow, “you cleave” stick to each other. Your parents come in second place to your marriage.

Get married and then move 1500 miles away from your family. If you’re daddy’s little girl, stop. Mister, grow up be a godly man.

Well this could go on forever, literally. Honor your marriage vows. Don’t get married just because the invitations went out. Go into it as a forever thing.

Good marriages don’t just happen, they take hard work and lots of maintenance.

Got questions, prayer requests? Send them to scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com