Just Do It!

Sometimes I have people ask me, “how can I be a better Christian?”

They’re always surprised when I ask them questions about obedience. I know we are going to have problems when they say things like; “I didn’t know religion was so legalistic, or you’re bumming me out.” (what adult still says that?)

How do we know God? In 1 John 2:3 we find the surprising answer: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.”

 We tend to think of “knowledge” as purely intellectual activity, but in Scripture knowledge is often gained through experiences. It’s the difference between knowing about something or someone and knowing because we’ve gained understanding through an experiential encounter. Think of the way we can have knowledge about swimming through books, but we don’t really know what swimming is like until we are immersed in water and flailing our limbs in an attempt to stay afloat. We only fully gain “knowledge” of swimming by swimming.

 Similarly we don’t come to know God through abstract speculation but through living our lives the way the Lord requires. Specifically, we come to know God by understanding and then doing what he commands.

 We gain the first part by searching Scripture to understand exactly what God commands of us (see, for example, “32 Commands of Christ”). Once we know what God wants us to do, we then come to know God by doing what he wants us to do.

 What that means, in light of 1 John 2:3, is that the process for Christians to know God occurs through the following steps:

  Step #1—We learn what God requires through reading and meditating on his Word.

 Step #2—Powered by God’s grace, we obey and keep his commands.

 Step #3—Through keeping God’s commands, albeit in our flawed way, we gain experiential knowledge of the One who kept the commands perfectly, Jesus Christ.

 Step #4—By increasing our knowledge of Christ, we grow in communion with the Father.

 Step #5—This knowledge, gained through the experience of keeping God’s commands, gives us assurance, as John wrote, that “we know that we have come to know him.”

 Step #6—This knowledge reveals God’s beauty and glory, motivating us to delve deeper into Scripture so we can gain a better understanding of how to obey him even more.

  Obedience thus becomes not just our means for knowing God but a motivation that drives us to know him more.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

my apologies for falling behind on email responses, hopefully i can get caught up this weekend.

Pray for Bobbie K, his wife slept with a homeless man, pray that as they go through counseling that the Lord will work on both their hearts.

Pray for Lauren M, 25, has a boyfriend that is pressuring her to have sex, they’ve been together 6 years and he’s never discussed marriage. She needs to keep vows to God and not succumb to his negative comments, i.e. like he’s going to bail. I asked her to ask him to see me, and he won’t, so I kind of know where this is going to go.

For S.K. he wants to stop using drugs and acting out in a very dangerous manner that could get him killed

For Sammie, she’s been cutting herself and just entered the hospital this afternoon of her own accord.

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

 

keeping it real

July 14, 2017

Mark 6:52

English Standard Version (ESV)

52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

 

This is not talking about just anyone, but specifically his disciples.

The thought seems to be that even after seeing the power of the Lord in the miracle of the loaves, they still did not realize that nothing was impossible for Him. They should not have been surprised to see Him walking on the water. It was no greater a miracle than the one they had just witnessed. Lack of faith produced hardness of heart and dullness of spiritual perception

I personally think it was because they were guilty of looking for a Literal King, a political Messiah to rescue them from the rule of the Romans. So, they missed the lowly Servant King.

If we make our religion a political affair and not a spiritual one, we will be guilty of the same fate. Look at the mess Jerry Falwell created with his brand of political Christianity. But a word of warning, Christianity is not a private, keep it at home religion, we need to be recognized as public Christians, with a public faith, not haters of those who are lost, but actively engaged in sharing the importance of the eternal choice people are making.

Keep Jesus real, personal and King of our hearts, not a political figure and you won’t miss the miracles.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

our trials

July 12, 2017

Our Trials

 “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:15).

  Since He is both my God and my Father, and since all of the hardships He takes me through are specifically designed to conform me to the image of the Lord Jesus, how can I help but trust Him and rejoice in His faithfulness?

It is well to remember that the deepest and truest spiritual qualities are not learnt or established in us by our happy or enjoyable times, but in the difficult ones! There is nothing wrong in times of great joy and spiritual blessing; in fact we long for more of them, and look back perhaps to some days of much blessing in our lives or in the work of the Lord; but in the securing of Christ in greater measure in our lives, we find that it is by the things which we suffer that we learn most. So let us give thanks for the joyful days, and learn all that the Lord intends by the days of waiting and difficulty.

Faith asks for no props from the men and things around it; it finds ‘all its springs’ in God; and hence it is that faith never shines so brightly as when all around is dark. It is when nature’s horizon is overcast with the blackest clouds, that faith basks in the sunshine of the divine favor and faithfulness.

  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).

We’ve had two deaths this week in the village, long time acquaintances, one only 19, a woman who ran a stop sign because she didn’t have to stop because it was a “man’s law” hit and killed a young man that was going to be married the end of this month. I wish our state still did hangings.

And then Vernon S, 49, dropped dead of a heart attack, doctor said he was probably dead before he hit the floor. Besides his death was the sad fact that he had just reconciled with his wife and was going to move back home today.

Life is a mist, a vapor, like a puff of smoke, the merest breath removes it from our sight, prayer for these two families. They never knew each other but their funerals are both tomorrow and in the same cemetery, less than 25 yards from each other.

I want to thank those that write and encourage this devotional page, those that pray for our prayer lists, you are a blessing, bigger than you will ever know.

questions, comments, prayer request to

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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

 

I guess we are on a kick about lies told in church, especially in the Pentecostal/Charismatic vein. I’m always surprised when I talk to someone in the mainline denominations and they’ve never heard this crap, so for all us lunatics in the fringe crowd, this is for you.

Don’t believe this lie

Two lies you don’t want to believe and again this may be foreign theology for some but that’s why we are covering it because it’s bad theology.

Lie number one; bloodline curses.

Lie number two; nation curses, or nationality curses.

There are actually spiritual idiots out there that as the apostle Paul says are preaching for the sound of their own voices, and to tickle the ears of the foolish or vain.

One favorite preacher/teacher now long time departed Donald Barnhouse who  preached a great sermon about Jack Ass preachers, with long ears with bells on them, love to hear themselves talk, or as he said listen to their own ‘braying’.

The two lies are similar versions of the same lie and can sneak into your life and cause you much needless suffering.

First the bloodline curse, this is the lie that you are prone to sin, a particular sin because of your parents, especially if you look like one of them or have learned negative traits that are similar to theirs.

So If your father was a rageaholic ( I know spell check is going nuts) then it make sense that you are also cursed to be a rageaholic. (rage + addicted to rage), it’s a learned behavior pattern, not a curse of bloodline. Sounds simple but unlearn the negative behavior; don’t blame it on a curse, or that demons can taunt you and hound you because it’s a family curse, you need deliverance, no such thing, it’s simply not true.

Reason number uno, and primary reason why its not true, is when you accepted Christ as your savior His bloodline became your bloodline and even if the curse was true it was broken by His resurrection and the fact that His sacrifice (blood) was acceptable as final payment to God.

The nationality curse, i.e. I’m Irish so I’m supposed to fight and drink, demons encourage it, they haunt me, tempt me, prompt me because the Irish are cursed, prone to depression, etc. very similar to the bloodline curse but it’s still hooey.

Never blame your actions on something external, never blame your actions on something like your race, nationality etc. yes some nationalities are more prone to alcoholism then others but that’s genetics not a curse.

The problem with curses, (even though Lon Chaney in the wolfman is probably my favorite movie) they have one purpose and that is to make you feel helpless or not in control, more hooey, you and you alone will stand before almighty God and give account for all your actions and motivations, and believe me there is no scripture to support a bloodline curse, (except that of being related to Adam and the sin of all mankind).

The other problem there is always some high and mighty super Christian snob, goody goody know it all that thinks they have super powers and have a deliverance ministry, more hooey, only you and your relation to Christ can deliver yourself. You don’t have to ‘take authority’ over anything, just believe in the work of God through his Son and bang, instant deliverance (speaking of deliverance and movie themes, absolutely hated the movie, I wouldn’t go canoeing or camping for years).

So don’t believe the lie, if you are a Christian then there is no demonic ties to your behavior, which as a bonus I going to throw in a free lie, if you are a Christian you cannot be cursed because you touched a crystal, or touched a Ouija board at a garage sale, etc. because we are blood bought, purchased and sealed, kept by God; so stop struggling so much and relax in Christ, not RIP, but RIC , hey maybe that will become as popular as WWJD.

God Bless,

Give us a shout at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

really needy

June 30, 2017

God’s basic ingredient for growth is need. Without personal needs, we would get nowhere in our Christian life. The reason our Father creates and allows needs in our lives is to turn us from all that is outside of Christ, centering us in Him alone. “Not I, but Christ” ( Gal. 2:20 ).

He makes Himself known to us through our needs; necessity finds Him out. I doubt much if we have ever learned anything solidly except we have learned it from experiencing needs.

Think about your prayer life, (this is not a negative comment) but how much of our prayer is centered around our needs. There’s an old song we used to sing way back when that really illustrates this well; real real real; he so real to me, he’s my doctor when I’m sick, he’s so real to me. Real real real he’s so real to me, he’s my banker when I’m broke, he’s so real to me. (ok not the greatest song in the world but you get my point).

When we prayer for others we are praying for their needs, prayer requests at church, needs.

So God allows needs to come into our life to shows us we can depend on him and that he really desires to show himself able and willing to meet our needs.

The problem is often the waiting period, another old saying; “God’s calendar and our calendar probably will never match; ah there’s the rub. We will be tempted to solve it in our own capacity, thus never seeing the deliverance of God; or we allow something or someone else to meet that need and they become an idol.

I’ve used that term before, “idol” and you can see how it’s a bigger issue than we think, its not just something pagans or folks from the old testament did. It’s very real today, we could be practicing idolatry today and not even realize it.

Sure we are not bowing down to some carved image, but we can be making an offering of our desire, need and wants to someone or something else.

 Without a bitter experience of our own inadequacy and poverty we are quite unfitted to bear the burden of spiritual ministry. It takes a man who has discovered something of the measures of his own weakness to be patient with the foibles of others. Such a man also has a first-hand knowledge of the loving care of the Chief Shepherd, and His ability to heal one who has come humbly to trust in Him and Him alone. Therefore he does not easily despair of others, but looks beyond sinfulness, willfulness, and stupidity, to the might of unchanging love. The Lord Jesus does not give the charge, ‘Be a shepherd to My lambs … to My sheep,’ on hearing Peter’s self-confident affirmation of undying loyalty, but He gives it after he has utterly failed to keep his vows and has wept bitterly in the streets of Jerusalem.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

better yet

June 25, 2017

19 ways to say I will

Since his death in 1758, Jonathan Edwards has become recognized as one of America’s greatest pastors, theologians and thinkers. But there was a time, says church historian Sean Lucas, when Jonathan Edwards wasn’t the Jonathan Edwards we know.

 At 19, Edwards began writing a list of 70 resolutions. His goal in making and keeping resolutions wasn’t self-fulfillment but the glory of God. Edwards would later write, “I felt in me a burning desire to be in everything a complete Christian.”

 In a list similar to the one created by Edwards, Scottish theologian Sinclair Ferguson compiled 19 suggested resolutions from the book of James that can help shape our own lives:

  1. Ask God for wisdom to speak and with a single mind (see 1:5)

  2. Boast only in exaltation in Christ (see 1:9–10)

  3. Set a watch over your mouth (see 1:13)

  4. Be constantly quick to hear, slow to speak (see 1:19)

  5. Learn the gospel way of speaking to the poor and the rich (see 2:1–4)

  6. Speak always in the consciousness of the final judgment (see 2:12)

  7. Never claim as reality something you do not experience (see 3:14)

  8. Resist quarrelsome words (see 4:1)

  9. Never speak evil of another (see 4:11)

  10. Never boast in what you will accomplish (see 4:13)

  11. Always speak as one subject to the providences of God (see 4:15)

  12. Never grumble (see 5:9)

  13. Never allow anything but total integrity in your speech (see 5:12)

  14. Speak to God in prayer whenever you suffer (see 5:13)

  15. Sing praises to God whenever you are cheerful (see 5:13)

  16. Ask for the prayers of others when you are sick (see 5:14)

  17. Confess it freely whenever you have failed (see 5:15)

  18. Pray with and for one another when you are together with others (see 5:15)

  19. Speak words of restoration when you see another wander (see 5:19)

  Want a tip for how to apply these resolutions to your own life? Over the next five to six weeks, highlight three or four of these resolutions and add them to your daily routine. Continue the process until you’ve added all 19. Mark off a date 90 days from today on your calendar or journal to reflect and pray about how these resolutions have changed your heart and character.

I’m not sure where this fits on the list of questions I get asked, but it has to be near the top 10, “how can I be a better Christian?”

This would be a good start, blessing y’all

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

 

where ever we go

June 19, 2017

Every Where We Go

So, my son and daughter in law take me out to eat for Father’s Day. We go to their favorite restaurant, it’s packed, we have to wait, I decide to go to the men’s bathroom. While I’m standing there do my business, a young father comes in with his 3-4-year-old son.

The dad holds open a door to a stall and tells his son to sit there and go pee. The kid points to me and says; “no, dad, I want to go standing up like that guy.” The father says “you’re not tall enough.” A big frown drops on the kids face and he folds his arms and says very firmly “I’m big enough to stand and pee.”

The dad says “fine I’ll hold you up while you pee.” So the dad waits til his son drops he pants, waddles to the urinal; he picks up his son and the kid is not peeing. His father goes “come on Tommy pee.” And the kid while not looking at his father says in a most serious voice; “tell me you’re not going to drop me.” To which the father says to son as gently and as reassuring as possible; “son I will never let you go or drop you.”

And bingo, there’s our devotion, our Heavenly Fathers promises the same to us.

So where ever we go, we are sustained by the Father, wherever we go.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com