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.

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

 

lasso that horse, partner

September 2, 2017

the Bible never says that the way to deal with lust is to pray about it. It commands me to flee (1 Cor. 6:18). It says that I should cleanse myself from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1). It commands me to walk in the Spirit so that I won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Pray, yes! But don’t just pray: Obey!

God puts the active responsibility for obedience in sexual purity on me. Somehow we’ve gotten the mixed‑up idea that actively to deny lust in obedience to the Lord involves the flesh. So we pray for deliverance and go on disobeying as if we can’t help it until that magic moment happens. But Paul never says, “Let go and let God give you victory over lust.” He says, “Run!” He says that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:11‑12). I need to do it and can do it! Otherwise, God wouldn’t command me to do it.

Part of fleeing is guarding myself in advance. I used to play games with this. I would go into a store to look at the news magazines (so I told myself). After a few minutes of doing that, I would find myself thumbing through Playboy or Penthouse, which were always conveniently nearby. (“How could I help it, Lord?”) But now I avoid stores where I could be tempted to browse through sexually explicit magazines. The man in Proverbs 7 wouldn’t have wound up in bed with the loose woman if he hadn’t first gone near the corner where she lived (see Prov. 7:8).

I’ve heard Christian speakers say that one way to guard against sexual sin is to be satisfied with your wife. It’s true that being sexually satisfied with her helps me not to be lured by lust for others. But I’m uncomfortable with the approach which puts the focus on my needs rather than on my responsibility.

My responsibility as a Christian husband is not to satisfy myself, but to satisfy my wife. I’ve found that my sexual satisfaction is the result of seeking to meet her needs on every level—spiritual, emotional, and physical. When I focus on that, she responds and my sexual needs are met.

A lot of men are sexually frustrated in their marriages because they approach sex to meet their own needs. Jesus’ words about seeking your life and losing it and losing your life to find it (Mark 8:35) apply to sex in marriage. If I approach my wife to satisfy my needs, neither of us feels fulfilled. But if I work at pleasing her, then I’m deeply satisfied. The best sexual times for me are when my wife is pleased.

I’ve had to tear down my sexual expectations which were built from Hollywood and Playboy and rebuild them from Scripture. The world promotes my needs above all else. It knows nothing of the self‑sacrifice which our Lord taught. Many Christians have unwittingly bought into this philosophy: “If my wife can’t meet my sexual needs, then I’ll have to meet them some other way. But my needs must be met.” But the Lord’s way is that I am to love my wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church. The blessed irony is that when I work at that, my needs are abundantly met. I can honestly say with gusto, “They have been!”

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “War is a terrible thing. But if you’re going to get into it, you’ve got to get into it all the way.” That’s true in the war against lust. You won’t win by being halfway into it. But if you’ll get into the battle all the way—God’s way, using His strategy—you can win!

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.

KNOW TO GROW

August 13, 2017

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KNOW TO GROW

  “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

  The heartbreaking knowledge of self-brings a life-giving compensation, which is knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The needs generated by the realization of the sin of self-produce the necessary motivation and hunger which cause us to focus upon the Lord Jesus and become conformed to His image. “And we all, while with face unveiled we behold in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are ourselves transformed continually into the same likeness” (2 Cor. 3:18).

 Many a new believer has obtained relief in his conscience from his sins, because of faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ; that is, he does not see further than Romans 3. He has faith in the work of Christ, but has not yet come in faith to Christ. He is like the woman who touched the hem of His garment, assured of His work but not yet acquainted with Himself.

 It is one thing to believe on the Lord Jesus, to be born again, to be saved. That is a wondrous thing as a beginning or start, but it alone will not take you right through all you must meet, to grow into him; and if you are really in the Lord’s hands He will see to it that by virtue of need you are drawn into knowing more and more of His Son. It is the normal course of a true, Holy Spirit-governed Christian life that, in order to get through, an increase of Christ, a growing discovery of Christ, is necessary.

  “That I may know Him” (Phil. 3:10).

After your salvation, God has but one plan for your life, become like His Son, to grow into the image of Christ. Good news, it will happen, the other news, (not bad) it’s going to hurt. No one seems to preach much on the growing pains of being a Christian. The idea of us becoming more Christ like is the same idea of a hammer striking a die and the image being cut into the metal of the coin itself.

God is the hammer, Christ is the die, you got it, you’re the thing being struck.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Single?

July 29, 2017

A story is told of a woman approaching 35 without a husband. Late one afternoon she went into the woods to pray for a husband. She didn’t notice the hour growing late as she continued to pray. An owl in a nearby tree awoke and in a low voice said, “Who-oo!” Startled by the sound, the woman looked up and said, “Just anybody, Lord!”

A lot of you know how she felt. But, if God wants you to be married, He doesn’t want you married to just anybody. We all know that the bottom line is that Christians must only marry Christians. But beyond that, how do you know whom God wants you to marry? How do you know if God wants you to marry at all? Maybe His will is for you to remain single. What should be your motives if you’re seeking a mate? How can you know God’s will on this important decision?

I’d like to offer some practical advice to those who are single, based on Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7. He was writing to a church in a pagan, sex-saturated society. Many in that culture thought that satisfaction in life comes through gratifying sensual lusts. There were problems with immorality even among the members of the Corinthian church. Apparently, in reaction to the sensuality of the culture, some in the church were saying that all sex is wrong. The celibate life is the truly spiritual life. Perhaps they even pointed to the Apostle Paul as their hero. Even some who were married concluded that it was more spiritual to abstain from sexual relations in marriage. So Paul addresses these and some other problems in this chapter. We can’t deal with the entire chapter in detail. But, his word to singles is:

Singles should pursue a course that leads to the greatest devotion to Christ and His cause.

This advice applies to every Christian, single or married, of course. But it is Paul’s word especially to singles.

  1. If you can remain single and be devoted to the Lord in purity, do it.

While marriage is God’s normal design for most people, He has gifted some to remain single so that they can serve Him without the encumbrances that necessarily go along with marriage. When Paul says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (7:1), he is using the word “touch” as a figure of speech that refers to the physical relationship in marriage as representing marriage as a whole. Thus, he means, “It is good to remain single.” He restates the same idea in 7:7-9, and discusses it at length in 7:25-40. He is not commanding being single, since he recognizes the single state as a gift which God only gives to some (7:7-9); but he is strongly commending it, since it was a gift he himself had, and since it provides a number of advantages for serving the Lord that being married precludes.

This is perhaps a word that needs to be spoken more often in our day. Many Christians put pressure on singles, especially those getting along in years, to get married. Sometimes we communicate an unbiblical attitude: “I wonder what’s wrong with him (or her) that he’s never married? He seems like a nice person.” But Paul teaches that being single is good if a person is gifted for it, since it opens some opportunities for serving Christ that are closed to married people. To say this is not to deprecate marriage, which both Paul and other biblical writers esteem as God’s good gift (1 Tim. 4:3; Heb. 13:4). It’s just a matter of how God has gifted a person.

  1. ADVANTAGES OF REMAINING SINGLE:

Paul mentions at least two advantages for the person who is gifted to remain single.

(1) Singles have more freedom in difficult times (7:26). Paul is quick to add that a person who marries at such a time has not sinned (7:28). But the married person will have more trouble (the Greek word means “pressure”), and Paul is trying to spare him. Interpreters differ, and so I can’t be dogmatic, but I think that Paul sensed an impending time of persecution against the church. In such a time, it’s easier to be single than married. It’s one thing to be martyred for your faith as a single person. But it’s much more difficult to be imprisoned or face martyrdom if you’re married, both for you and for your family.

If you sense God’s call to be a missionary to a part of the world where you may likely suffer persecution or severe hardship for the sake of the gospel, you should consider remaining single. Or, if you have a ministry that requires long periods of travel, it might create such a strain on your family that it would be better not to get married. Some countries are not conducive to raising a family because of the political, economic, or educational situations. Many missionaries send their young children away to boarding schools. But I believe that if God is calling me to be a missionary and a father, then my children should stay with me on the mission field. If that isn’t possible, my first responsibility is to raise my children. So being single means that you will have more freedom in difficult situations than a man or woman with a family will have.

(2) Singles have more freedom to devote themselves fully to God and His service. In 7:32-35, Paul points out that the married person, of necessity, cannot be as devoted to the Lord as the single person. Marriage carries with it certain responsibilities and obligations that take time and effort which otherwise could have been given to the Lord. Of course, many single people are not as devoted to the Lord as many married people are. But Paul’s point is that if a single person gives himself fully to the Lord and His service, and a married person does the same, the single person will be more devoted since he does not have the family obligations that the married person has.

In one of his books, Peter Wagner mentions that John Stott, the well-known British pastor and author, is single. Wagner says that while he spends time with his family, Stott is writing another book or planning another conference or traveling to another country. There’s no way for a married person to match the output of a devoted single person. Perhaps you’re thinking, “If staying single has all these advantages, then why shouldn’t we all stay single? Why get married?”

More on that tomorrow.

God bless from 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