ONE WAY IN

October 12, 2017

It’s a real pity that the Word of Faith movement, lying tv evangelists, screwed up Pentecostals, whacked out charismatics, have made talking about faith seem like leprosy. Now for those that don’t know or forgot, I’m eminently qualified to talk about this particular group, as I pastored a Pentecostal church for over 27 years before I had a complete change of mind about how important or should I say less important the “the second blessing” was.

Now don’t get me wrong I still believe in the gifts of the spirit and have seen to many miracles to throw out the baby with the bath water. But I’ve also seen the toxic faith, cult like control and hyper faith movement gone off the track and wreck lives and derail the faith of many folks.

The key word is balance.

The most important thing in the believing Christian’s life isn’t’ speaking in tongues, it’s a biblically centered, sound theological understanding of faith.

The measure of your life’s accomplishment and your victory is your faith. The Bible clearly, concisely, convincingly, and compellingly tells us that, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). Now, let me tell you something, the identifying mark of a Christian is his faith. As a matter of fact, Christians were called believers before they were called Christians. Faith is the identifying mark of a Christian. But, not only is it his identifying mark it is his chief duty. You have no greater duty than to just simply believe God. John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe.” Isn’t that something? This is the work of God that ye believe.

Glorifying God, by our faith in Him. That’s your chief and main duty. That’s it, that’s the cake, everything else is just frosting.

Now, if faith is the chief duty, then unbelief is the greatest evil. There is no greater sin than the sin of unbelief. As a matter of fact, that’s the sin that will consign you to Hell for eternity. The Bible says in John 3:18: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Not because he steals, not because he murders or lies, not because of his lust of pride, but because he believes not. Unbelief is the mother sin, the father sin, the parent sin, and the sin out of which all other sins grow.

What determines your eternal home is either faith in Christ, go to heaven or unbelief in Christ, you condemn yourself to hell. It’s that simple.

You can stand on the highest platform and yell to the top of your lungs that there is no God. You can get a PhD in philosophy and sound smart. You can say your prayers were never answered, the list goes on. The fact is unbelief is a sin and the mark of a fool.

The Bible makes one statement four times. In Habakkuk 2:4, in Hebrews 10:38, in Galatians 3:11, and in Romans 1:17 there is one verse that is repeated four times. Do you want me to tell you what it is? “The just shall live by faith.” Do you have it? The just shall live by faith. Four times God says that the just shall live by faith. The just shall live by faith, the just shall live by faith, the just shall live by faith. Do you get the idea God is trying to tell us something? Yes, He is and I’ll tell you what it is. The just shall live by faith. My dear friend, the way that you live the Christian life is by faith.

If you are in the heavenly choir shout amen, if there is a large hole in your heart and you are the most miserable of all people, pray to God that Jesus is real and you’d like to have it, believe it. bend your stubborn neck and look at the mess you’ve made of your life and ask Jesus, the Son of God, THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN. Into your heart.

Friend I hope you make that decision, if you have questions or need to talk, email me at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Just so you know I check my emails late at night so don’t be discouraged if it takes me a day to get back to you.

God bless and have faith.

grow some faith

October 9, 2017

Been a while since we did a list so here we go;

Abraham is considered the “father” of the faithful (see Ro 4:16) and a hero of faith (see Heb 11:8–19). So what made him special? He believed God and acted on that belief.

God said go, and so Abraham went (see Ge 12:1–4). He became our model for faithfulness not because he was a moral exemplar but because he trusted God enough to obey. Like Abraham, our trustful response to God’s self-revelation is a sign of faithfulness. Biblical faith is therefore a kind of limited personal knowledge of God. As we grow in our knowledge about God, we trust him even more, thereby increasing our faith. This increased faith leads us, like Abraham, to be increasingly faithful.

Here are five things to know about faithfulness:

  1. Faith and faithfulness are connected—In both the Old and New Testaments, faith also suggests the concept of faithfulness. Faith is not merely a mental assent that we trust in God; it is the willingness to act on this trust.

  2. Faithfulness is the externalization of faith—Faith describes our internal state of trust in God; faithfulness, the external actions that result from that trust. We do not possess true faith if we are not faithful (see Jas 2:26).

  3. Faithfulness is a lifelong process—Abraham exemplified faithfulness when he left his country for the land promised to him by God. But that was just the beginning. God repeatedly called on him to act on his faith. Like Abraham, we, too, are called to continuously act on our faith. Adherence to God’s truth requires that we obey him.

  4. Faithfulness is tested for our sanctification—As we see in the life of Abraham, God allows the testing of our faith to sanctify us (see Jas 1:2–8; 2:14–26). We can expect to endure such tests as a necessary part of our spiritual growth.

  5. Our model of faithfulness is Jesus—Abraham might be the father of the faithful, but Jesus is our perfect model. Jesus was faithful to his Father (see Heb 3:2), and we learn to obey God by following his example.

Hebrews 11:6 King James Version (KJV)

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ann, her marriage, her life, her salvation, learning to be under authority.

Pray for McKee, she needs to find the Lord and get help with her rage.

 

hhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm,

October 5, 2017

PROMPTED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, ARE YOU SURE?

 

OPPORTUNITIES COME TO THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY SERVING, NOT TO THOSE WHO ARE DOING NOTHING.

Sometimes people don’t serve the Lord because they’ve never experienced a dramatic “call” to ministry. You can turn the steering wheel of your car all day long, but if the car isn’t moving, you won’t get anywhere. You can sit around and pray for God’s direction for service, but you won’t get it if you’re not already serving Him. Start doing something to serve Jesus Christ, and He will redirect you if He needs to.

GOD SOMETIMES LEADS US TO THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITIES BY HINDERING US FROM THE WRONG ONES.

We read (Acts 16:6) that these men were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (a province in western Turkey). Next, they tried to go north into Bithynia (near the Black Sea), but “the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (Acts 16:7). What’s going on here? Didn’t the Lord want those in Asia or Bithynia to hear the gospel? Yes, later He did (Acts 18:19-21, 24-19:41; 1 Pet. 1:1), but not now. All we know is that the Holy Spirit is sovereign over His work, and that He stopped these faithful men from going into these two regions and redirected them into Europe at this time. He did not do it because of anything that He saw in the Europeans that was more worthy than what He saw in the Asians or Bithynians. The gospel does not come to people based on their merit, but rather based on God’s sovereign, unmerited grace.

I’m going to raise a couple of questions that I cannot answer, but you can chew on them with me. First, how did the Holy Spirit forbid these men from going into these areas? It could have been through an audible voice. It may have been through circumstances that blocked the way. It may have been a lack of inner peace. It may have been physical illness on Paul’s part, which was why he linked up with Luke at this point. The bottom line is, we don’t know how the Spirit communicated these prohibitions, since the text does not say. But He uses many different ways of hindering us from heading in the wrong direction. We’re not talking here about doing something that is against God’s Word, but rather about doing good things that simply are not His will for us at this time.

GOD’S LEADING US TO THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITIES IS USUALLY A PROGRESSIVE MATTER, NOT AN INSTANT REVELATION OF THE BIG PICTURE.

Paul was feeling his way along at this point. After these two hindrances, if you had asked him what his plans were, he probably would have said, “I honestly don’t have a clue!”

Usually, knowing God’s will is like driving in the fog. God just gives us enough light to see the next few feet. As we follow, He gives us the light we need to keep moving ahead.

The second question is, how did these men know that the hindrances were from the Holy Spirit and thus to be obeyed; and not from some other source and thus to be overcome? In 1 Thessalonians 2:18, Paul says that Satan had hindered him from visiting the Thessalonians. But here, it was the Spirit of God who hindered them. How did he know the difference? Sometimes God wants us by faith to keep knocking until closed doors are opened. At other times, the closed doors are His way of saying no. All I can say is, we need His wisdom and discernment to know the difference. I don’t have any formulas for figuring it out!

WHEN GOD REVEALS HIS WILL TO US, WE MUST MAKE SURE THAT IT IS FROM THE LORD, AND THEN BE QUICK TO OBEY.

The word “concluding” (16:10) indicates that the missionary team discussed the meaning of Paul’s vision before taking action. The word means to join or knit together, or unite. As they talked, it all came together. As soon as they were sure of what God was saying, immediately they sought to go into Macedonia. They didn’t form a committee and deliberate for months. They figured out what God wanted and went down to the harbor to buy tickets.

Does God direct us through visions in our day? The answer is, He can, but be careful! There are all sorts of crazy visions that people have that are not from the Lord. Benny Hinn (a total nut job) told an audience on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (10/19/99) that the Lord had revealed to him that thousands of people from all over the world would be raised from the dead when people put their caskets in front of their TV sets tuned to that station. I don’t know of any funeral homes that have been lacking for business yet!

On the other hand, Bill Bright tells of how late one night as he was studying with a friend for a Greek exam in seminary, he suddenly sensed God’s presence in a way that he had never known before. He had the overwhelming impression that the Lord had unfolded a scroll of instructions of what he was to do with his life. Specifically, he knew that he was to devote his life to help fulfill the Great Commission by winning and discipling the students of the world for Christ. When he shared it with his Bible professor, Dr. Wilbur Smith, he paced back and forth in his office, saying, “This is of God. This is of God. I want to help you. Let me think and pray about it.” The next day, Dr. Smith handed Bill a piece of paper on which he had scribbled, “CCC.” He explained that God had provided the name for Bill’s vision, Campus Crusade for Christ

The balance we need is on the one hand not to quench the Spirit, but on the other hand to examine everything carefully and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thess. 5:19-21). An obstinate apostle Paul could have plowed ahead into Asia or Bithynia against God’s promptings not to do so. But the obedient apostle obeyed God’s promptings and waited until the Spirit showed him where to go. Then he went immediately. The world has never been the same.

OFTEN, WHEN WE OBEY, THE REALITY DOES NOT MATCH THE VISION.

Paul saw a man of Macedonia calling for help. He got there and found a small group of women gathered by the river, and one of these became the first convert. The second convert was a demon-possessed slave girl. Her conversion landed Paul and Silas in prison with their backs shredded by whips. It wasn’t a glorious beginning, to say the least! But it’s how the gospel began to take root in Europe, and we now know that the history of Europe has been forever different. Often when we obey God’s leading and launch out into His work, the reality doesn’t match the vision. But we must continue to obey what we know He called us to do.

6) THE GREATEST HELP THAT WE CAN GIVE TO PEOPLE IS TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL TO THEM.

“Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:10). Paul went and gave them the best help in the world: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (16:31). That is the most helpful message that we can give to anyone. It is the most helpful thing that we can do for anyone.

If you were walking down the street and heard someone cry, “Help me! Help me!” you would be stirred to action. If you could not provide help yourself, you would at least make sure that the proper help got to this needy person. Ask God to burden your heart with the cry of the lost: “Come over and help me!” If you cannot go yourself, at least you will give and pray for missionaries to go. That’s the best help we can give to a desperately lost world.

Do you have a burden for lost souls, if not you need to do some real soul searching (pardon the pun). The Gospel is good news only if we share it.

 

hope monkey junkie

September 23, 2017

Lyrics by Aldo Nova – Monkey On Your Back

“let me tell you a story about two kids in the city

 see they both have a problem with life and it isn’t very pretty

there’s a kid called timmy he used to be pretty witty but then too many rides on the horse got him hooked and it’s a pity

 cause now he’s got a monkey he’s got a monkey can’t fight it monkey on his back he can’t deny it monkey he found a dragon that bites a hole in his arm at night where all the monney goes monkey,monkey on his back monkey,monkey on his back a dirty monkey

well there’s a girl called sally she walks the streets in the city she works down on the corner every night gives her money up to willy

you see her man’s big willy and when he met her she was pretty but he gave her a habit that she didn’t want now that’s a pity cause now she’s got a monkey….”

 Aldo Nova – Monkey On Your Back (not an endorsement of this band)

THE HOPE MONKEY JUNKIE

Two small words. When heard on the battlefield, in the hospital waiting room, or in our darkest thoughts, they bring despair. Two words that carry such anguish that no one can withstand their power. What, then, are these two unbearable words?

“No hope.”

Proverbs 18:14 tells us, “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear?” A broken spirit is a spirit without hope. The loss of hope is a terrible thing. Without hope, life’s troubles bring discouragement, depression, despair, and even death. We can bear the doctor’s frightful diagnosis with hope for a cure. We can endure the separation from a loved one with hope for a reunion. We can endure certain death with the hope of eternal life and infinite joy in the presence of God forever. But where no hope exists—we are undone.

There are those that have hope taken from them so often the thought of having hope scares them, for fear it will be stolen from them again. So they fight ‘the hope monkey’ it scares the crap out them. They live lives of quiet desperation, hoping to fly below the radar at church, work, even home. They had hope at one time, but that hope was based on something or someone fallible, transient, gone, died of cancer, aids, suicide, walked out the door, left them. They now feel betrayed because they lost hope and rather than hope again they throw off the hope monkey every time it comes around.

So now it’s one-night stands, or bar flys, no commitments, it’s just sex. Not sure I even caught your name, get thee behind me hope monkey. I won’t be hurt again.

Problem is the hope monkey junkies think it’s their fault, if only I had been richer, faster, taller, more pretty, spoke better, chose better, had better, lived better, been in the moment, not taken for granted, stopped at the red light, didn’t drink that beer. Been a better mother, father, son, sister brother, pal, hope monkey get off my back.

So with lowered expectations they are constant victims of no hope, they live in hopelessville, and have nothing but bad dreams, it’s like PTSD without shooting someone. They can’t tell you the last time they slept well or didn’t cry without provocation. Over eat, under eat, behavior disorders, gambling, acting out. Hope monkey junkies always sing the blues.

But the hope monkey junkie can kill the monkey.

As believers, we can easily fall prey to discouragement in a world of bad news and blasphemy of the excellence of Christ and the Gospel. But, despite our difficulties and bouts of gloom, we can’t afford to neglect Scripture, prayer, worship, fellowship, and ministry to others, because hope grows by an active love and pursuit of God in these things. Like faith and assurance, hope must be cultivated: “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end” (Hebrews 6:11). Perseverance and Bible study strengthen hope, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

We know for certain He will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). This has to be more than a cliché, it has to be a core believe, a foundation of true thought and belief and practice. In the midst of the most hopeless moment, that verse has to live in your heart, on your lips and in your brain. Write it on the wall, tape it to the dashboard, write it in shower.

As believers, we often have uncertain and certain hope at the same time. For instance, we may pray and hope for deliverance from a present trouble and not know if, when, or how God will answer our prayer (uncertain hope), while knowing He will ultimately deliver us and that our eternal destiny remains secure in Christ (certain hope). “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Uncertain hope involves the “secret things,” while our sure hope rests on the “things revealed.”

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5: 1-5).

“A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength” (Psalm 33:17). Hope can be uncertain when it stands on something or someone that may not be able or willing to fulfill it. And hope is sure when it rests in something or someone absolutely able and willing to fulfill it (Christian hope). Like faith, the object of our hope is Christ: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).

There are Christian hope monkey junkies as well as non-believers. Every life is fraught with pitfalls, more rainy days than sunshine. Mental illness can hit anyone. Death robs us of loved ones, jobs are lost, relations falter, faith wanes. Doubt creeps in, and for some it’s better to manage a level of pain, like cutting yourself, I’m in control.

But I’m here to tell you that the hope monkey can be nailed to the Cross. There is one body piercing that saves your life. Christ on the Cross killed the monkey. And brought us all to a living hope.

Bury the hope monkey, live free in Christ.

You have to choose a different lifestyle, say goodbyes to the pills, booze, sex, fights, debt, overspending, binging on donuts, secret stashes of food, secret lifestyles, double lives, risk taking, being a live hand grenade, this isn’t the complete list, so don’t think if I left you out you’ve escaped notice.

Kill the hope monkey junkie syndrome!!

By having a living hope!!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you, who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:20-21).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Comments, questions, prayer requests to the email address please.

crown of thorns

mason jars and God

September 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Yes, You Can

September 12, 2017

It goes without saying that unbelievers pounce all over Christian hypocrisy and judgment. A Hindu professor once found out that a man in his class was a Christian. The professor said to this student, “If you Christians were like Jesus Christ, India would be at your feet tomorrow.” A learned Muslim who recently became a Christian said, “If Christians were truly Christians—like Christ—there would be no Islam.” A USA Today poll shows 72% of unchurched Americans agree that a God exists, but the same percentage says “the church is full of hypocrites.” 44% say Christians get on their nerves. People flat-out don’t like Christians. Yet, when is the last time you heard someone say, “Man, Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists get on my nerves!” It doesn’t happen, does it? People show respect and honor to these religions. Now it’s easy to object, “This just isn’t fair. The media has turned Christians into cultural punching bags.” Yet, we must ask, “Have we brought some of this pain upon ourselves?” If we’re honest and humble, we would probably have to say, “Yes, guilty as charged.” Just stop and think for a moment. Are you notorious for criticizing the media? Politicians? Your teachers? Your pastors? Your boss? Your coworkers? Your neighbors? Your friends? Seriously, can you even watch a football game without being critical of the quarterback, the coach, or the referee? Most Christians are critical. Some are even bold enough to boast that their spiritual gift is criticism. Yet Jesus says, “Be slow to judge others and quick to judge yourself.” In Matthew 7:1–12, Jesus gives two exhortations dealing with judicious judgment.

  1. Judge with humility not superiority (7:1–5). In this first section, Jesus clarifies how you should relate to other believers in the matter of judgment. In 7:1, Jesus tells you what you shouldn’t do: “Do not judge.” No sentence in the Bible is more familiar, more misunderstood, and more misapplied than Matt 7:1. Therefore, we must first determine what this verse doesn’t mean. “Do not judge” doesn’t mean you can’t say anything critical or pointed to another person. In this context, Jesus Himself alludes to certain people as dogs and pigs (7:6). He also warns His disciples, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (7:15). In both of these examples, Jesus makes a judgment about various individuals. Later in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus requires His disciples to confront believers who are in sin (18:15–17). Furthermore, the New Testament is clear that Christians are to judge both error and sin. So despite what many people believe, the ideal Christian is not an undiscerning, all-accepting jellyfish who lives out the misinterpretation of “judge not.” Christians can and should judge.

So what does this verse mean? First, you are not to pass final judgment on any person. Final judgment belongs to the Lord. You are not in the condemning business. If anyone needs to be condemned, God Himself can take care of that. You should have no part in it. This is why curses like “God damn you” or “Go to hell” are so wicked! The one who utters these curses is attempting to play God! Second, you are not to judge the motives of others. The Bible says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Often we are quick to come to negative conclusions about others based on why we think they did something. But try as we might, we see only the outside. God alone sees the heart. What Christ means when He says “Do not judge” is that we are to refrain from hypercritical, condemning judgment. There is a universe of difference between being discerningly critical and hypercritical. A discerning spirit is constructive; a hypercritical spirit is destructive. All of this means you can judge what people do; you cannot judge why they do it. You can judge what people say; you cannot judge why they say it.

In 7:1b–2, Jesus tells you what God will do. He says the reason that you shouldn’t judge is “so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” When Jesus says “Do not judge so that you will not be judged,” He uses a future passive verb. He is referring to being judged at the judgment seat of Christ. In other words, God will use the same basic standard you use to evaluate others when He evaluates you! In Matt 5:7 Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.” If you are gracious in your dealings with other people’s failures and shortcomings now, you will receive mercy in the future when the Lord evaluates your life. As the old saying goes, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” The longer I am in pastoral ministry, the greater my empathy for the struggles of my pastoral colleagues. The longer I walk with Christ, the more I empathize with my fellow believers. The longer I am married and strive to raise a family, the more I can empathize with other couples and parents. It is hard to be who you want to be, isn’t it? I want to grant grace and extend mercy to others. I want to believe the best and be kind. But when necessary I want to love brothers and sisters enough to call them on sin.

In 7:3–5, Jesus tells you what you should do. He uses an illustration that comes from His background as a carpenter’s son (13:55). He puts it like this: “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Undoubtedly, Jesus didn’t say this with a straight face. He must have been smiling and giggling as He said this. Visualize a man with a plank in his eye walking through the lobby of the church trying to find a person with a speck of sawdust in his eye that he might remove it! But the very image of such a man looking into a mirror but unable to see the plank in his eye because he is blinded by the plank is funny indeed. Again, Jesus did not say that Christians are not to judge under any circumstances. His warning was against hypocritical judgment—someone with a “log” in his eye passing judgment on someone with a “speck” in his eye (7:3). He was warning disciples not to make the mistake of the Pharisees! Jesus’ concern was making sure that we are qualified to judge. This is why He said, “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (7:5). Thus, believers are to judge error and sin, but in a gracious and non-judgmental fashion.

We naturally tend to exaggerate. We often inflate the faults of others while at the same time underestimating our own. You could say we are perfectionists when it comes to other people, but extremely tolerant when it comes to ourselves. We find it so easy to turn a microscope on another person’s sin while we look at ours through the wrong end of a telescope! Yet, when we let Jesus convict us of our sin, we will be able to judge others with humility, sensitivity, and compassion.

Have you ever had someone attempt to help you remove something from your eye? If so, you can readily understand the amount of gentleness and tenderness that’s required. The eye is very sensitive. It takes a compassionate hand and a delicate touch to do surgery in the eye. When you have eye trouble, you need a doctor who knows what he is doing because even the slightest mistake can have catastrophic consequences. In the same way, when we minister to one another in the Christian community, we must do so only after careful introspection to make sure our own motives are pure. Then we can proceed with appropriate care and humility. Sometimes in our haste to help others, we can cause more damage than the original speck of dirt caused. This doesn’t mean you must be perfect before you can correct another Christian. However, Jesus’ words do require you to have dealt as decisively as possible with any obvious areas of disobedience in your own life before you attempt to correct someone else. Otherwise, it is as if you are attempting to perform surgery blindfolded. In that situation, neither the patient nor the doctor feels confident! Moreover, if you are committing the same sin, the judgment you pass on someone else boomerangs on you. And you definitely don’t want that! Remember, be slow to judge others and quick to judge yourself.

There are a number of ways you can lovingly confront a person.

  1. Make sure your own heart is right with God before you confront someone.

  1. Pray for the person that needs to be confronted.

  1. Set up a time with the person to talk, in private without interruption, but don’t put it off.

  1. When the occasion calls for it, confront immediately.

  1. Don’t take out your own anger on someone.

  1. Begin with a word of encouragement.

  1. Ask the person, “If I could share something with you that would help you, would you want me to?”

  1. State the issue as you see it. Give your perspective on the issue. Say, “This is the way I see it, please help me to understand.” Admit that maybe you misunderstood or got the wrong perspective.

  1. Ask how you can help the person.

  1. Be confidential.

  1. Pray for the person.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

never 2nd best

September 10, 2017

Because all Scripture testifies about Jesus we shouldn’t be surprised to “see Jesus” in the first chapters of the Bible. Although we can find testimony about Jesus throughout Genesis, two aspects from chapters 1 and 2 deserve special consideration: creation and the second Adam. (you may or may not be familiar with this title for Jesus, but he is considered the second Adam, in that Adam was created without sin or a fallen nature, Christ was born without sin or a fallen nature, thus ‘the second Adam’ but unlike Adam, he never sinned. Imagine for that moment on the cross, forsaken by God, when he (Jesus) took on the weight of all our sin).Thank you Lord.

  ➤ Creation. Too often in considering the creation account we get distracted trying to figure out what the story means to us. We debate issues of evolution and creation or the age of the earth and overlook the fact that these chapters are about Jesus. As Paul writes, “All things have been created through him and for him” (Col 1:16). That “for him” is not only the main point of Genesis 1–2; it’s also the main reason for creation. Creation exists for Jesus. That’s a powerful thought, isn’t it? Does it change how we relate to our world? What about how we respond to God?

 ➤ Second Adam. Adam held three roles that would later become distinct offices in Israel: prophet, priest and king. As prophet he was the representative to speak about God and his creation. As priest he was anointed to directly offer prayer and praise to God. And Adam and Eve were king and queen in that they were given dominion and rule over creation. In Jesus we find the “second Adam” (or “last Adam”), who is the perfect prophet (fully declared God to us), the perfect priest (offered the supreme sacrifice on our behalf) and the perfect king (he will reign forever over the new heavens and new earth).

  We are called to imitate Christ in each of these roles. As prophets, we proclaim the gospel to a fallen world. As priests we offer our good works and our bodies as sacrifices pleasing to God (see Heb 13:16; Ro 12:1). As kings and queens we share in ruling over the earth as stewards of God’s creation (see Ge 1:28).

 In what other ways can we fulfill the role of prophet, priest and king?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Continue to pray for Calvin and his eye.

Pray for Liam, from Dublin, wants to come and visit America, as he’s following his family tree.

LOOK UP

September 3, 2017

crown of thorns

Look Up!

  “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

  Our Father allows the believer to struggle with self, not for victory, but for defeat. Then the “wretched man” learns to rest in the Victor.

Once you have begun the Christian walk, and know the blessedness of it, you are not trying to correct yourself, for you know that all has been removed from the eye of God; and you insist on the fact that self has been to the Cross, and that Christ is your life. The old man was crucified, and you cannot reform him; all attempts of amiable people to reform him are only denying the fact that he has been dealt with in judgment. The responsible (law) man is not before God now. It is now the day of grace. Everyone who receives His grace is set free from the domination of the old man. The appeal to the believer now is not to do, but to look.

  “The believer is never told to ‘overcome sin,’ but to reckon, on the ground of his death with Christ, that he has died to it. On the basis of death, he is told not to ‘let’ sin reign in his life. It is to be dealt with by an attitude of death, not by ‘overcoming.’ The believer therefore is not to be spending his whole life in getting victory over sin, but understanding his position as having died unto sin.”

If you are struggling with sin, you are not ‘reckoning’ or looking at the cross, just as you say, “I’m born again and Jesus is my Savior” you say the same thing to sin, “I’ve been crucified with Christ.”

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BELIEVE ANY SERMON OR BOOK THAT TELLS THE STORY OF THE WHITE DOG AND THE BLACK DOG. AND THEY FIGHT, AND THE ONE THAT IS FEED THE BEST, WINS

IN THE GOSPEL, BOTH DOGS ARE DEAD. DON’T BELIEVE IT’S ALL LAID UPON YOUR SHOULDER AND YOU ARE MASTER OF YOUR FATE, CAPTAIN OF YOUR DESTINY. YOU CAN DO NOTHING BUT GAZE UPON THE CROSS.

It took faith to be saved, it takes faith to be in the right place.

Faith to believe “We are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Be safe, be blessed, believe. Be changed.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

STANDING ON THE PROMISES

August 31, 2017

STANDING ON THE PROMISES.

One of my favorite modern gospel tunes. It’s been sung by great country artist and old-time gospel singers. I hope you know it.

  1. Standing on the promises of Christ my King,

    Through eternal ages let His praises ring,

    Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,

    Standing on the promises of God.

    • Refrain:

      Standing, standing,

      Standing on the promises of God my Savior;

      Standing, standing,

      I’m standing on the promises of God.

  2. Standing on the promises that cannot fail,

    When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,

    By the living Word of God I shall prevail,

    Standing on the promises of God.

  3. Standing on the promises I now can see

    Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;

    Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,

    Standing on the promises of God.

  4. Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,

    Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,

    Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,

    Standing on the promises of God.

  5. Standing on the promises I cannot fall,

    List’ning every moment to the Spirit’s call,

    Resting in my Savior as my all in all,

    Standing on the promises of God.

Long time since I’ve used this phrase; “but here’s the rub.”

A promise is a declaration that reaches ahead of its speaker and its recipient, to mark an appointment between them in the future. A promise might be an assurance of continuing or future action, an announcement of a future event or a solemn agreement of lasting, mutual (if unequal) relationship.

 Scripture is filled with promises made by God to man (about 8,000 by some counts). We find the first promise in Genesis 3:15 (and its fulfillment in Gal 4:4; Lk 2:7; Rev 12:5) and the last in the second to last verse of the Bible: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).

 Many of God’s promises are intended for us (general promises), while many others are not (specific promises). And some statements that look like promises aren’t promises at all. How can we know which of God’s promises are for us?

 Here are a few guidelines to help you determine which are for you:

  ➤ Don’t mistake a principle for a promise—One of the most oft-quoted Bible passages about child rearing is Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Yet all of us know godly parents whose children have turned from the path of righteousness. Do such cases disprove such proverbs? Of course not. Proverbs are principles, not promises. “Aphorisms and proverbs give insight as to how culture under God works, how relationships work, what our priorities should be; they do not put in all the footnotes as to whether there are any individual exceptions, and under what circumstances, and so forth.”

 ➤ Don’t mistake answered prayer in the Scripture for a promise to you—Some Christians read prayers in the Bible—such as the prayer of Jabez (see 1Ch 4:9–10)—and assume they are promises to us. They are not.

 ➤ Make sure you understand the context—We can often determine if a promise is general or specific merely by looking at the context. For instance, the promises made in Genesis 12:1–3 are specific to Abraham.

 ➤ Recognize conditional promises—Many of God’s promises are unconditional—there are no conditions required for him to do what he promises. But other promises are conditional and dependent on the choice or actions we make. Most conditional promises take an “If . . . then . . .” form. “Promises that contain an ‘If’ require some form of obedience before we can expect them to come to pass in our lives, they are conditional. If we want to claim them, we had better be ready to act in obedience to what they require. A prime example is God’s promise to forgive our sins if we forgive others (see Mt 6:14–15).

 ➤ Don’t twist the meaning of a promise—God’s promises mean only what God intended them to mean. When we subvert the meaning of a promise, it ceases to be a promise at all.

  Even when we rightly recognize a promise as intended for us, we often impose our own understanding of exactly how it will be fulfilled. Or we are tempted to impose our own timeline on its fulfillment. Yes, God does have a plan to prosper you and not to harm you (Jer 29:11), but as in the case of the people to whom those words were originally written, that “you” is more likely a collective reference to the body of believers, and that plan may play out across centuries in ways we can’t possibly predict. To recognize this intent does not diminish the beauty of the promise at all. It actually enhances it.

  ➤ Some promises intended for us are collective, not individual, a promise can apply to us as members of a collective body, such as the church. We should be open to seeing how such promises could be applicable and yet not necessarily applicable to us individually, at least not at all times or in all contexts.

One of the greatest truths you can learn about the bible is the promises that apply to you and the principles that we are to live by.

Blessings are something also promised, to the obedient.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

TINA THE EXOTIC DANCER

August 26, 2017

TINA THE EXOTIC DANCER

NO WAIT THAT’S REALLY THE TITLE

So there’s Mark, nice guy, shy, quiet and a young Christian. He meets this girl online, she cute, perky and funny. They start dating, she has more experience than he, they start having sex, it’s his first time, bang (pardon the pun) and he’s in love and proposes. She realizes he’s a nice guy, good job and he thinks he’s in love.

She starts coming to church knows the Christian lingo, he thinks she’s a Christian. Tell them marriage counseling is mandatory, bang they elope. Come back and his excuse for not following through “love can’t wait”.

Bang, six months into the marriage Mark comes in he’s shattered, she wants to go out dancing, have some drinks, seems a lot of guys at this club know her; he’s ashamed, for the first time ever he drinks, dances, gets a little drunk, and bang, she wants to bring home another guy to ‘spice things up’.

Bang, he wants a divorce, but hey in a Pentecostal church that’s like practicing birth control in a catholic church (sorry old school). Now he’s really ashamed that he’s gotten into this situation, she moves out, he’s heart broken and hears from a ‘friend’ at work his wife is already sleeping with someone else.

He comes in for counseling and here’s where we get controversial. (now thanks to google you can look this up, I did and I have to say there are some people that are twisting what I am about to talk about right out into outer space, so filter this through your theology and pray about this, don’t take this principle to far, and don’t over apply it to some sort of spiritual warfare and setting blockades against satan, because this isn’t about that.)

The prophet Hosea is told to marry a prostitute and she runs away and here is what God says he will do.

Hosea 2:6-7

Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.

“Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,
and my new wine when it is ready.
I will take back my wool and my linen,
intended to cover her naked body.
10 So now I will expose her lewdness
before the eyes of her lovers;
no one will take her out of my hands.

I told this story to Mark, and told him that if what he was saying was true and he really wanted her back to pray this prayer; a prayer of hedges around his wife and wait for God to do something; nothing less nothing more, just pray and wait.

The real principle here is believing God can do something, the second principle is to not feel powerless and try to do something in your own strength, the third is if God did this for Hosea cannot he not do it for you.

So we prayed that she would be unseen to other lovers, she would get no benefits from other lovers, no one would take care of her, and that as verse 7 says she will go back to her husband.

So what did Tina do, she went back to stripping (exotic dancing if you are more sensitive) and guess what, she was hired right back by her old boss because she used to be a great ‘producer’ (read cash cow, ouch that seems rather insensitive).

Six weeks later she’s fired, reason given by her boss, and I quote; “Tina, it’s like you are invisible, no one tips you, no one asks for lap dances (you are blessed if all this is foreign to you) it’s like you don’t even exist.

Ok no binding dominions, no commanding spirits or satan to let go just believing God can do his thing.

She comes back to Mark begs forgiveness and asks him to take her back. I caution him (because sometimes after being a prison chaplain I can really be cynical and I confess a skeptic, not always but sometimes).

Mark believes its God’s will to honor his vow he takes Tina back, it’s a bit bumpy at first but a year later she truly gives her heart to the Lord and is baptized (full immersion, still old school).

Guess what, they are still married and she’s expecting their first child.

Like an old time radio show, will it work out, will she truly stay ‘saved’. Stay tuned, and wait.

So also being a hopeless romantic and having some measure of faith I think it will.

And don’t believe that old saw about 50% of marriages failing, it’s the same 10 people getting divorced all the time.

God Bless

Stay in touch at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

PS, it’s five years later, they are still married, still coming to church and she’s a Sunday school teacher and he’s the principle at a Christian school. So for skeptics and cynics like me, it’s good to remember that God never changes but he can change us. No matter what.

It’s why we called this devotional site, scumlikeuschurch, because, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.