I really can change part 3

January 18, 2018

I really can change part three

Many believers greatly underestimate the necessity of intimacy and trust for successful growth in Christian holiness. But we must be able to share honestly those areas in which we need transformation. We can deal with deep issues of growth only in a community in which we’re deeply known by others. We need others who have our best interests at heart. They must also be people we trust to hold sensitive issues in genuine confidence.

Why does the pursuit of Christian holiness need to occur in community? There are at least two reasons. First, we need accountability in the areas of sin with which we struggle. When we confess our struggles to a group, we become accountable to all of the members to press on toward growth. Because the group is aware of our sin, we can’t hide it in darkness, where it retains a hold on our life and can make crippling guilt a permanent fixture in our walk. If we’re struggling, we have not one but several people to lean on. In addition, the corporate, or group, setting increases the likelihood of support from someone else who has struggled in the same way. In one-on one accountability, one person may not be able to relate well to the other’s struggles. He or she may have different areas of struggle.

The second benefit of corporate pursuit of holiness is that without the encouragement and stimulus of other Christians, we’re often blind to the ways in which we need to grow. In the counsel of many who care for us, there can be greater wisdom. If some believers are blind to being hospitable, the hospitality of another believer can spur them on to develop that quality in their own lives. If some never think about how to speak encouraging words, the encouraging speech of another can become contagious.

“Where can I serve?” is not an optional question; every believer should ask it. Nor is this a matter simply for individual reflection. Rather, we can best discern where and how to serve while in community with people who know our past, interests, struggles, and talents. The community can affirm what they see in us and may know of opportunities to serve that we’re unaware of.

How many terrific musicians are sitting in pews every Sunday because they lack the confidence to volunteer? Those gifted people might merely need others who know them well to encourage them to serve. Maybe someone’s life story revealed that while growing up she played in a band. Someone might ask, “What have you done with that interest lately?”

Understanding our identity in Christ is critical to a fruitful walk with the Lord. The central events of Christianity, Christ’s death and resurrection, are the foundation of the Christian life. Dying with Christ means dying to the things that used to run our lives. For instance, while material wealth is the central motivation in many people’s lives, Christ calls us to relinquish pursuing wealth as a core motivation. The same is true of any other vice that keeps us from fully loving God and people.

Rising with Christ means rising to a new way of living under His kingship. Before we came under Christ’s kingship, our identity was dominated by concerns other than loving God and loving people as Jesus did. There was no way we could transform ourselves to make us acceptable to our perfect Judge and Maker. Whether we knew it or not, objectives and motivations that didn’t focus on loving God and others were running our lives.

Certainly, our earthly identity may contain characteristics that influenced us in godly ways. For instance, our parents may have taught us to be honest. Yet sin and offensive independence from God characterized our lives. Ironically, this “independence” was evidence of Adam’s control. When we come under Christ’s kingship, by God’s grace through our faith, we gain a heavenly component to our identity.

To say that we have a new component is a gross understatement. Coming under Christ’s kingship ought to so transform our understanding of our identity that, in many respects, we no longer consider ourselves the same people. We are new creatures (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 The most basic truth of our identity, our position before God, is determined by who our King is, even though Adam’s realm may still influence us. And our actions will reflect our participation in one kingdom or the other, for each kingdom has certain “deeds” or “fruit” characteristic of it. The deeds of the flesh (see Galatians 5:19-21) result from being in Adam, whereas the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) grows when we are in Christ.

What does it mean to be under Christ’s kingship? To be under a king is to be subject to that king’s will. In our fallen world, that concept rarely sounds appealing. After all, who would agree to be entirely subject to someone else’s will? Would you approach a stranger and say, “I’m at your disposal, and I’ll do anything you want me to do”? Our minds immediately race through all the abuses that might result from such a scenario. That’s because we don’t trust strangers. As subjects of Christ’s kingdom, though, we face an entirely different scenario. We have come to know Him and have found that His will is love. As subjects of Christ, we are implored to do His will, which involves actively caring for others, as pointed out in 1 John:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (4:7-12) If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (3:17-18)

Many people think being saved is like eternal life insurance. It’s more like a pledge of allegiance to a new King. Our Sovereign God doesn’t compel us to produce something for Him that He lacks. Our allegiance to Him requires us simply to love our fellow subjects actively and also to love those who claim no such allegiance—our King’s enemies. How strange this kingdom is to a world that understands the love of friends but knows nothing of loving enemies! But the world has not experienced the love of Christ. We love those who are not followers of our King because we realize that they may simply be enemies who have not yet become brothers. We love fellow believers because we share the joy of being loved by our Great King and we are, therefore, now brothers. We believers are individuals in a community marked by Love, whose name is Jesus.

Stay tuned as we continue our growth and change series.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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

 

I REALLY CAN CHANGE

January 16, 2018

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of spiritual growth? Some picture a solitary individual meditating or praying. While that concept accurately portrays one aspect of Christian spirituality, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The issue of spiritual transformation is not new in the Christian faith. It has been a primary issue, though perhaps given different labels, throughout church history. From the time the Spirit of God descended upon the believers in Jerusalem, God has been transforming the souls of individual believers in the context of local Christian communities.

Preaching has never been and never will be the only element needed for the transformation of Christians into Christ’s image. Nor are small-group Bible studies, personal Bible study, Sunday school classes, or even one-on one discipleship sufficient for growing Christians when they focus solely on communicating biblical information. Transformation of the believer’s inner and outer life must take place as well transformation of the intellect.  “As a man thinketh.”

What do you think about the most each day?

That is the true measure of where you are in your Christian growth.

So think on that.

Let’s begin with some basic concepts of what brings change in our lives.

There is the fellowship model which focuses on corporate prayer for one another, growth of interpersonal intimacy, and support for each other in times of need. This approach effectively connects believers within a church body.

Spiritual disciplines include communal elements (worship, service, and fellowship). Folks need a venue of private, public and personal development.

Dealing with those internal obstacles (habitual sins, addictions, temperament issues, traumas, abuse) that prevent spiritual growth. Dealing with the issues is a key component in spiritual transformation, often done through spiritual counseling.

The fellowship model can fail to guide believers toward growth. The spiritual disciplines model can neglect to emphasize authentic and intimate Christian community, which is necessary for growth. The counseling model can fail to value the role that spiritual disciplines can have in growth. It also risks focusing on deficiencies so much that the person never benefits from the resources of God’s grace. It can focus too intently upon the person’s sin and failure and not enough on God’s enabling power toward growth in holiness.

Authentic community in which people come to trust each other. Though one-on-one relationships can be effective, we believe that multiple relationships are more effective. While one individual can spur another toward growth, that one individual has limited gifts and abilities. Also, though we value the spiritual disciplines, we see them as means toward the end of complete transformation of the believer’s inner and outer life. Disciplines aren’t ends in themselves. Finally, we think believers need to seek greater understanding of sin’s dynamic in their lives. They need to see potential blind spots or obstacles to their spiritual well-being and learn to deal with the root issues beneath their areas of struggle.

Next up; how to make real growth and changes in our lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE CROSS

January 15, 2018

The Cross of Jesus Christ exposes me before the eyes of other people, informing them of the depth of my depravity. If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved. But when I stand at the foot of the Cross and am seen by others under the light of that Cross, I am left uncomfortably exposed before their eyes. Indeed, the most humiliating gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha’s hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations. With the worst facts about me thus exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling that I truly have nothing left to hide.

Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?) And the more open I am in confessing my sins to fellow-Christians, the more I enjoy the healing of the Lord in response to their grace -filled counsel and prayers.  Experiencing richer levels of Christ’s love in companionship with such saints, I give thanks for the gospel’s role in forcing my hand toward self-disclosure and the freedom that follows.

Scriptures used for the above conclusions, (our action plan, to read and know the scripture, to practice and believe and apply them to our thinking).

 Golgotha was the place where Jesus was crucified. John 19.” … and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. (18) There they crucified Him . . . . ” James 5:16. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. . . . .” Ephesians 3. “( 14) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, . . . (17) . . . that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend Ephesians 1:4. “. . . He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” (NKJV)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Praise report from Olivia, her health has been really good now for over a year, she’s gone from bedridden most days for weeks at a time to healthy productive, happy and married. God bless

 

SLOW AND STEADY

January 12, 2018

Slow and steady

  “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; fret not thyself” (Ps. 37:7).

  Our Father moves on the basis of His finished work, therefore hurry is not a factor with Him nor should it be with us. We are to ‘walk in the Spirit,’ and the blessed Holy Spirit will see to it that we obtain all that our Father has for us, step by step. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in His way” (Ps. 37:23). Don’t be discouraged—Enoch walked with God for three hundred years before he was translated!

We cannot become spiritual all at once; we must be content to begin as babes. Spiritual maturity and strength do not come by effort but by growth; and growth is the result of being nourished by proper food. But if we do not grow by effort it is important to remember that we do not grow without exercise.

  “God begins by giving our hearts a sense of the blessedness of the grace in which He has called us, that we may be awakened and enhungered to pursue the knowledge of all this with purpose of heart and prayerful study.

 Whatever we do accurately must take time and collectedness of mind, and there is no accuracy in all the world like keeping company with God, and yet nothing so free from bondage or tediousness. By going slow with the Lord we accomplish more than by going with a rush, because what we do is done so much better and does not have to be undone. It is done in a better spirit, with deeper motives, and bears fruit far out in the future, when all mushroom performances have been dissipated forever.

  “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Ps. 37:4).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Men of God (part 2)

January 5, 2018

Godly Men (part 2)

Paul exhorts 1 Timothy 6:11 to “flee these things.” The verb “flee” conveys the sense of running continually to escape a dangerous enemy. “These things” refers to what Paul has just been talking about in verses 9 and 10: the evils attached to the love of money. These evils include “foolish and harmful lusts” and even the danger of straying “from the faith in. . . greediness.” Greed is the sin of false teachers who pretend to speak for God, but whose true goal is personal gain.

Other things a man of God must flee from include sexual sin (1 Cor. 6:18), idolatry_ (1 Cor. 10:14), and youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). From anything which might distract his heart from God or detract from his ministry, the man of God must flee.

It’s not enough to just rebuke it or claim it. I saw a bible advertised online that is just for Pentecostals or the Joel Osteen ilk, that was supposedly filled with one sentence sayings that were spiritual defenses against dark forces. I mean that sounds more like an ad for Dungeons and Dragons than a bible.

But of course in this 1 minute world, what else could you expect.

Of course these are probably the same people that claim the devil made them do it or my personal favorite I hear all the time; “I just couldn’t help myself.” Really, what are you a zombie?

Ok, I’m done ranting, you see a temptation, flee, literally get away from it.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Anne, she went off her medication and is living in panic attack city.

Seriously if you were prescribed a medication, don’t quit taking it unless you talk to your doctor. Or the side affects are worse than the illness, but still talk to your doctor.

WHAT THE HELL?

January 3, 2018

WHAT THE HELL?

Various theories on the location of hell have been put forward. A traditional view is that hell is in the center of the earth. Others propose that hell is located in outer space in a black hole. In the Old Testament, the word translated “hell” is Sheol; in the New Testament, it’s Hades (meaning “unseen”) and Gehenna (“the Valley of Hinnom”). Sheol is also translated as “pit” and “grave.” Both Sheol and Hades refer to a temporary abode of the dead before judgment (Psalm 9:17; Revelation 1:18). Gehenna refers to an eternal state of punishment for the wicked dead (Mark 9:43).

The idea that hell is below us, perhaps in the center of the earth, comes from passages such as Luke 10:15: “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell” (KJV). Also, in 1 Samuel 28:13-15, the medium of Endor sees the spirit of Samuel “coming up out of the ground.” We should note, however, that neither of these passages is concerned with the geographic location of hell. Capernaum’s being thrust “down” is probably a reference to their being condemned rather than a physical direction. And the medium’s vision of Samuel was just that: a vision.

In the King James Version, Ephesians 4:9 says that before Jesus ascended into heaven, “he also descended . . . into the lower parts of the earth.” Some Christians take “the lower parts of the earth” as a reference to hell, where they say Jesus spent the time between His death and resurrection. However, the New International Version gives a better translation: “he also descended to the lower, earthly regions.” This verse simply says that Jesus came to earth. It’s a reference to His incarnation, not to His location after death.

The notion that hell is somewhere in outer space, possibly in a black hole, is based on the knowledge that black holes are places of great heat and pressure from which nothing, not even light, can escape. Surprisingly, this concept of hell is presented in the 1979 Walt Disney film The Black Hole. Near the movie’s end, all the characters pass through a black hole. On the other side, the villain finds himself in a fiery place of torment, while the other characters enjoy disembodied bliss. It’s interesting that a Disney movie would include a depiction of hell, but it’s best not to base our theology on movies!

Another speculation is that the earth itself will be the “lake of fire” spoken of in Revelation 20:10-15. When the earth is destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1), the theory goes, God will use that burning sphere as the everlasting place of torment for the ungodly. Again, this is mere speculation.

To sum up, Scripture does not tell us the geological (or cosmological) location of hell. Hell is a literal place of real torment, but we do not know where it is. Hell may have a physical location in this universe, or it may be in an entirely different “dimension.” Whatever the case, the location of hell is far less important than the need to avoid going there.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

OCCUPY

December 30, 2017

OK, I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GOING TO USE THIS AS A TITLE.

“OCCUPY”

  “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us . . . hath made us alive together with Christ . . . and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–6).

  Believers are not occupying their position! At best, most are trying to attain a victorious position by means of prayer, Bible study, commitment, reconsecration, surrender, and so forth. But the answer is simply to abide where we have already been placed—in our risen Lord Jesus Christ. Abide above, and keep looking down!

  “Our Father has taken us over Jordan and placed us in Canaan, but the reality of it is never known until by faith we accept the fact on the basis of having died with Christ, and that therefore heaven is our place, and we know it to be our place now; and that this side is not our place, and we know that it is not.

The more we abide in the Lord on the other side, the less disappointed we will be here, for when we are there we import new joys and new hopes into this old world, from an entirely new one, and we therefore in every way surpass the inhabitants of this lost world.

 You must abide in Christ in heaven before you can descend with heavenly ability to act for Him down here. The great secret of all blessing is to come from the Lord. Most Christians go to Him.

 Christian experience is our measure of apprehension of that which is already true of us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  “Stand fast (occupy) in the Lord” (Phil. 4:7).

One thing I tell every struggling pastor who has problems with his sermons. “You are not spending enough time in prayer, you have to come out of the heavenly throne room and into the pulpit.”

Isaiah 6:7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Chris R, gallbladder surgery tomorrow.

Ronnie V, she celebrates 44 years sobriety today.

Bill F, 98 years young, tomorrow we are going trike riding.

 

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

 

The Crown

December 27, 2017

  “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect (mature), establish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10).

  At first, the old nature hides from us. Then, we try to hide from it. But when we begin to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, we are able to face up to the awful facts concerning the old man and his condemnation at the Cross. As the Holy Spirit reveals the old man (Col. 3:9), we count upon death; as He reveals the new man (Col. 3:10), we count upon life (Rom. 6:11).

The believer, at the opening of his new course of life, never knows his own heart; indeed, he could not bear the full knowledge of it; he would be overwhelmed thereby. He graciously leads us by a circuitous route, like Moses in the wilderness, we are on a journey of self discovery. And because of His grace we are led slowly into the understanding of how great our sin and fallen nature as corrupted, in order that our apprehension of His grace may keep pace with our growing self-knowledge.

It was not for nothing that God let Satan loose upon His dear servant, Job. God loved Job with a perfect love; a love that could take account of everything, and, looking below the surface, could see the deep moral roots in the heart of His servant—roots which Job had never seen, and, therefore, never judged. What a mercy to have to do with such a God!

To be in the hands of One who will spare no pains in order to subdue everything in us which is contrary to Himself, and to bring out in us His own blessed image!

  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:6, 7).

We to shall wear a crown of sorrows before we wear a crown of joy. Like Job we will all be tested, bear up under it because it is the mark of kinship with Christ.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Thank you with all my heart those that comment,, hit the like button and pray. Thank you for all the bibles donated for our bible quizzes.

We have so many people emailing to be put on our prayer list, sometimes I can’t list them all. We had one guy that drove over 900 miles to hand us his prayer request, so he could be prayed over before surgery. I wept so deeply that this guy was so disconnected from any sort of community. God not only healed him but blessed him with a new heart and he is getting “plugged in” here in our little town. He’s now the unofficial greeter at Denny’s, handing out tracts and bibles and asking people if they need prayer.

God bless you all so much.