DOES IT MATTER

August 10, 2017

praying mom

DOES IT MATTER

Think about all the times you’ve prayed. Think about the situations that you were in when you’ve prayed a certain way. I can remember not having enough money to take my very sick infant son to the doctor or having enough money to even purchase the prescription. Literally no food to eat, I can tell you that for 2 years every meal, every penny was prayed in. I will also tell you that most of my prayers were lying face down on the floor in what I now call “praying the carpet lint prayers.” So it does make a difference, the situation and the prayer. But it’s more about our psychological make up and personalities, to God it may make little difference or it might mean a great deal, you decide.

  1. Bowing

To bow is a physical expression of honor and allegiance. The action of bowing is associated with worship. Even just the bowing of our heads communicates to our mind that we’re addressing the One to whom we’ve pledged our complete loyalty. When the Lord came down in a cloud around Moses on Mount Sinai, “Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship” (Exod. 34:8). King David, centuries later, said, “As for me . . . I will bow down in reverence for You” (Ps. 5:7). Bowing is an appropriate posture of prayer.

  1. Kneeling

Many other biblical references speak of dropping to our knees in prayer. Solomon’s monumental prayer at the dedication of the temple was given while he “knelt down in front of the entire congregation of Israel” (2 Chron. 6:13). Daniel, even at the risk of death for defying the king’s order against praying to anyone other than the king himself, continued kneeling three times a day at the open window of his home, “praying and giving thanks before his God” (Dan. 6:10). And one day, we’re told, “every knee will bow” before Christ—”in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10)—even those who refused to kneel before Him.

  1. Lying Prostrate

Sometimes bowing our heads or bowing on our knees still doesn’t quite reflect the devotion we intend. When Ezra the priest gave an all-morning, public reading of the law to the returned exiles in Jerusalem, “they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Neh. 8:6). Jesus, agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane before His torture and death, “fell on His face and prayed” (Matt. 26:39). And when John later saw Him in His resurrected, glorified form — as described in the apostle’s Revelation on the island of Patmos — he admitted he “fell at His feet like a dead man,” totally prostrate before the power of God (Rev. 1:17).

  1. Lifted Hands

Many prayers from Scripture were made with uplifted hands. The idea of folding our hands, while meaningful, is actually more recent in history. But the Bible does talk about raising our hands—”the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering” (Ps. 141:2). Paul said, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1 Tim. 2:8). Both Solomon and Ezra, whom we mentioned earlier, prayed while falling to their knees and lifting their hands—at the same time—a position of total physical worship and praise.

  1. Lifted Eyes

While closing our eyes is a good way of limiting distractions and maintaining focus in prayer, a common biblical expression was lifting the eyes toward heaven, like when Jesus “raised His eyes” before praying at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:41), or when “looking up to heaven” as He blessed the five loaves and two fish before multiplying them for the crowd of five thousand (Luke 9:16).

  1. Silence

Beyond physical postures, what we do with our voices in prayer is also important. Sometimes the best thing we can do in prayer is be still and know that He is God, without saying a word (Ps. 46:10). When awed and amazed, one is often in silence. When Hannah prayed in anguish for God to give her a child, “she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:13). No one could hear her silent prayer, but God heard and answered.

  1. Lifted Voices

Along with lifted hands and lifted eyes, the Bible also exhorts us to lift our voices to the Lord in prayer. “Give ear to my voice when I call to You,” David prayed (Ps. 141:1). “My voice rises to God, and He will hear me” (Ps. 77:1).

  1. Crying Out

“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud” (Ps. 55:17). This crying out is a frequent descriptor of prayers spoken in the Bible. Jesus, we’re told, during His life on the earth, “offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence” (Heb. 5:7). Various translations of the original words for crying out carry the idea of shrieking in pain, or making a sound like an animal in danger or wailing with deep emotion of spirit. It’s intense and loud. Heavy and heartfelt. Nearly half of the times when John’s Revelation talks about words being spoken in heaven, they’re explicitly identified as a “loud voice”—20 times in its 22 chapters.

If you’ve never felt the need to pray in a different position, think about it, there’s nothing magical or mystical about it, but there might be a time that it seems to make a great difference to you. Just don’t make it into a lucky rabbit’s foot that will always give you the result you want.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

MY RANT

August 5, 2017

We live in a day when human life is no longer regarded as sacred. The devaluing of life is spreading not only through violence in the ghettos, but also through abortion on demand, which results in the deaths of 1.5 million babies in America each year. On the other end of life, the push for euthanasia is further eroding the sanctity of human life.

A family in our church lost their 35-year-old son at an ATM, he was murdered for the 17 dollars in his wallet, he didn’t get to make a cash withdrawal, the man who shot him couldn’t wait long enough. When he saw how little cash he got he stood there kicking the corpse long enough for the cops to come and arrest him.

SOS, survivors of suicide, get one new member to their counseling group every 12 hours.

Planned Parenthood’s newest brochure doesn’t mention the word abortion, or fetus, or unborn child or even an “it” no, they talk about “the inconvenient moment” in your life.

It might surprise you, but suicide happens more among the elderly than the youth of our society. Desperation over health issues, the cost, loss of a spouse, income, their mental abilities, locked in a nursing home, abandoned by children, they hoard their pills or walk out in front of buses.

All of these problems stem from the erosion of the Bible as the standard for truth in our society. If you throw out the Bible and accept evolution, then man is just an animal and there is no basis for human morality, other than cultural norms. Without the Bible, there is no basis for affirming that humans are created in the image of God and that human life is thus sacred. For the survival of our nation and culture, we desperately need to understand and proclaim the biblical truth regarding the sanctity of human life.

Mathematicians and Social Scientists, evolutionists and Behavioral Psychologists want to say we are just an electric battery, built from primordial sludge and even our feelings and emotions are nothing but chemical reactions.

Children can’t be corporately punished (spanking) and we raise a nation of entitled, spoiled brats, now called the “Snowflake” generation because they are too delicate to handle hardships.

40% of adults age 35-40 are moving back into their parents’ home because of divorce or things have gotten too difficult for them to cope. And the senior parents are forced to spend their savings as their adult children are still trying to find themselves.

So let’s legalize marijuana and have whole companies shut down because no one wants to work, or can’t work because they’re to stoned.

Some of our states have almost 50% unemployment and the middle class is being taxed to death and our government keeps getting fatter and taking all of our liberties away. The erosion to our rights in the last 20 years is staggering.

When Noah and his family emerged from the ark, all human and animal life, except for that on the ark, had been destroyed. It was a new beginning for the human race which God had judged because of its corruption and violence (6:11-13). It is significant that one of the first things God affirmed to Noah was the sanctity of human life. God wanted to establish a foundation for the proper view of human life before the earth was repopulated.

God blessed Noah and his sons (Genesis 9:1). God’s blessing here provided for the propagation, priority, and protection of human life. Verses 1 and 7 show that human life is to be propagated to promote God’s purposes on the earth. Verses 2-4 show that human life has priority over animal life. (stick that PETA) And verses 5 and 6 ordain that human life is to be protected through capital punishment for murder. These verses raise some controversial issues. I encourage you to wrestle with the totality of Scripture in arriving at your conclusions, and don’t write me about capital punishment, I think we should back to public executions and criminals with the death penalty should be injected or hung within 90 days of their final trial, instead of us spending almost $40,000 dollars per inmate per year and over 2.5 million people in prison today.

Depressed yet?

Angry yet?

And let’s take the 1% of our society that is gay, and forcing everyone to bend over to their rules. (pun intended).

Our churches need reformation before revival and Christians need to stand up and be counted. The priority is not for the church to deal with “threshold” (homeless) people, but to once again be salt and light in totally corrupted, evil, sinful world.

And guess what, salt burns and light hurts. Jesus isn’t a warm blanket just out of the dryer, God is not our good buddy or a sugar daddy. Have you read the book of Revelation, that Jesus, is coming back with a sword, not donuts and Starbucks.

SO WHAT!

While it’s important to think biblically about these matters, I don’t want this message to be theoretical. What can you do to affirm the sanctity of human life? What can you do about your nation?

It’s really simple, it starts at home, a father blessing and teaching his children. A man being the Godly husband that God intended him to be. A Wife being what God determined what a Woman’s role is, not the View and certainly not Oprah. Then raise godly children who respect and are not callused spoil brats, that honor their parents no matter what their age is. And bring back dignity to our elderly. It starts at home and then God willing it will spread like wildfire.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Snoopy_in_a_Rainstorm_by_DewCrystal

Doubt is good.” “Doubt is evil.” “Doubt is necessary for faith.” “Doubt is the opposite of faith.”

Ask a group of Christians about doubt and you’ll likely get a range of conflicting answers about its role. While the responses are well-intentioned, they leave us confused about whether we should or should not embrace doubt.

Part of the problem is there are numerous types of doubts. For this article, all references to “doubt” will focus on the type of doubt most often addressed in the Bible: uncertainty about the truth and reality of spiritual things, as seen especially in a lack of faith in and commitment to God.

The Bible is not an encyclopedia where we can look for an answer to any sort of question we have. But on the topics the Bible does address, we must give Scripture more weight than other sources. So what does the Bible say about doubt?

With only rare exceptions . . . doubt in Scripture is seen as a negative attitude or action because it is directed toward God by man (or evil spiritual agents). The word connotes the idea of weakness in faith or unbelief.

Doubt in Scripture can be seen to be characteristic of both believers and unbelievers. In believers it is usually a weakness of faith, a wavering in the face of God’s promises. In the unbeliever doubt is virtually synonymous with unbelief. Scripture, as would be expected, does not look at doubt philosophically or epistemologically. Doubt is viewed practically and spiritually as it relates to our trust in the Lord. For this reason, doubt is not deemed as valuable or commendable.

To build our trust and faith in the Lord, we can apply these strategies for dealing with doubt:

➤ Recognize that doubt is not natural, but it is normal—Doubt, like death, is not a natural state for humans. If our minds were functioning properly we would be able to discern all of reality, including spiritual realities, with absolute clarity. But because of sin, every aspect of the image of God in humans—including our intellect—was corrupted by the fall. What had been a sound mind full of the light of truth, full of the God who is the Truth, became unsound and darkened by falsehood.

While doubt is not a natural part of God’s creation, it is a normal part of our fallen world. We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, to find that people doubt—or that we ourselves are doubters.

➤ Be merciful to doubters—Just as we should not be too surprised by doubt, we should not be too harsh on doubters (including ourselves). We should try to overcome doubt gently and with grace, for as Jude says, “Be merciful to those who doubt” (v. 22).

➤ Identify and question your doubt—Most doubt about the truth and reality of spiritual things is due to a deficit in either knowledge or experience. This type of doubt is the least worrisome for honest seekers because God will show them the truth they seek (see Jn 8:32).

Too often, though, we are quick to think the questions that arise from our doubts do not have answers or that the answers we’ve been given must be wrong. In such cases, we must continue to search for answers while also questioning our motives. For instance, do we not want to believe a particular claim in the Bible because it would require that we give up a favorite sin?

➤ Don’t give your doubt so much attention—“We need to learn to be relaxed about doubt,” Doubt is like an attention-seeking child. The more attention you pay to it, the more attention it demands. By worrying about your doubts, you get locked into a vicious cycle of uncertainty.

➤ Pray and meditate—The most powerful tools we have for dealing with doubt are prayer and meditation on Scripture. Ask God to take your doubts away as you focus on meditating on his Word.

Blessings from God and salutations from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember, prayer requests, questions or comments to the email please.

Pray for Emily and her husband Brian, he is only in his mid 30’s and his heart is giving out, and is not a candidate for a heart transplant.

Sue H, she is in her 60’s and is a trust fund baby, never grew up, never had a job and never became responsible, and now she is almost broke and has wrecker her health and mind with fear and worry.

WHAT IF I CAN’T CONTROL MY CELIBACY?

 

The main reason Paul gives is that being celibate is a gift from God, and while he wishes that everyone had that gift, he recognizes that this is not so (7:7-9). You ask, “How can I know if I have the gift of being celibate?” There are three tests you can apply:

(1) Can you control sexual desires? Paul is quite practical and human at this point: “But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn” (7:9). If you are single and find that fighting sexual temptation is a daily, constant battle, then you need to pursue marriage. Paul is not saying that it is impossible for a single person to resist temptation because he later says that in every temptation, God provides the way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). Every Christian can be pure in thought and deed. But if all your energy is directed toward fighting the battle of purity every day, the best solution is not more self-discipline, but a spouse. Of course you still need self-control even as a married person. But God has given marriage as a legitimate safeguard against immorality (7:2).

(2) Are you constantly lonely in spite of close relationships with the Lord and with other believers? I am going back to Genesis for this point, where we find Adam in a perfect environment, in unbroken fellowship with his Creator, and yet God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). To be lonely when you’re single is not necessarily a sign of a spiritual problem. If as a single you can reasonably control your loneliness through Christian fellowship, then you may be able to remain single.

(3) To what ministry has God called you? As mentioned already, if God is calling you to a place where it’s unsafe or unwise to take a family, then you should remain single. I’ve read the biographies of C. T. Studd and other missionary greats, who left their families to take the gospel to difficult places. As I recall, Studd and his wife, who was too ill to go to Africa, were together only a couple of weeks during her last 11 years. David Livingstone left his wife and children for years in order to pioneer in the interior of Africa. While God accomplished much good through these dedicated men, their families suffered great harm. I believe their witness was marred by neglecting their families.

Let me make it plain: If you do marry, it should not be for the purpose of self-centered fulfillment and personal happiness. While marriage and children are good gifts of God that bring great joy, you should marry because you can better serve Christ in line with your spiritual gifts as a married person. The idea of getting married and settling down in suburbia with your nice home, two cars, good job, weekend recreational hobbies, and, of course, a church for the weekends when you’re in town, is completely worldly. All Christians are to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. If you seek first your own happiness, you will come up empty (Matt. 6:33; 16:25).

  1. If you’re not gifted for celibacy, pray and look for a godly mate.

Paul’s words in verse 9 often frustrates a lot of folks. He makes it sound so simple and matter of fact: “Let them marry.” Okay, so how do I go about doing that? There’s a lot of living packed into those three words! I don’t have specific chapter and verse for everything I’m about to say, but along with the apostle Paul, I give my opinion as one who, by the mercy of the Lord, is trustworthy (7:25; of course, Paul was inspired in saying this; I’m not!). Five suggestions:

  1. FOCUS ON PERSONAL GROWTH IN GODLINESS.

You can use your time as a single person to sit around feeling depressed and lonely. You can waste a lot of time in a frantic search for a companion, where you fill all your spare time with being around people. Or, you can use it to seek the Lord in His Word and in prayer. If you use your time to read and study God’s Word, to read good Christian books, to pray, and to serve the Lord in some capacity, when God introduces you to your life partner, you will be mature enough for the responsibilities of Christian marriage. If you want a godly mate, you’ve got to become the kind of person the kind of person you want to marry would want to marry, namely, a godly person!

Burn it into your thinking: It is never God’s will for a Christian to become unequally yoked with a non-Christian in marriage (7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). For some reason, it is usually Christian women who get tangled up with nice (they’re always nice!) unbelieving men, rather than the other way around. I don’t care how nice he is to you, if he is not committed to Jesus Christ and if he is not denying self daily to follow Christ, then he’s living for self. You’re going to be miserable married to such a person. Your children will suffer. Your devotion to Christ will be hindered. Don’t do it! There is no such thing as Missionary Dating. PERIOD.

  1. GUARD YOUR MORAL PURITY.

As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality.” Your body belongs to God, whose Spirit dwells in you. Therefore, you are to glorify God in your body (6:19-20). Paul says that even if a man gets involved with a harlot, he becomes one flesh with her (6:16). This is more than merely a physical union. Physical intimacy, even in a so-called “one night stand,” creates the illusion of personal intimacy. But it clouds and confuses the real issues that need to be the foundation of a Christian marriage. It creates guilt. It carries the risk of venereal disease. It defiles you and your brother or sister in Christ. As Paul states (7:1-5), the sexual relationship is proper for marriage, but only in marriage.

If you’re going to guard your moral purity in our sex-saturated society, you’ve got to plan for it. If you visit the Grand Canyon and don’t want to fall over the edge, don’t go near the cliff. If you want to guard your moral purity, plan not to get yourself into tempting situations. As Garrison Keillor has the pastor in Lake Wobegon say in his talk on sexual purity, “If you didn’t want to go to Minneapolis, why did you get on the train?”

I would encourage you to challenge the American dating system. If you just go along with the system, you’re flirting with danger. The dating system is designed to foster romance and to see how far you can go physically. As Christians, you should be concerned about getting to know the person in the context of moral purity. If I may speak man to man, even if you don’t intend to go all the way, any scheming, men, on how you can get a date into a romantic setting to see if you can “make out,” is sin. Your purpose should be to build up your sister in Christ and to get to know her, not to indulge your lust. Plan for purity! (you may think I’m kidding but every “date” your child goes on is a supervised date, by you the parents.)

  1. STUDY AND DEVELOP GODLY CHARACTER QUALITIES.

If you’re going to shop for a new car, you’d probably do some research. And yet many Christian singles never give any thought to what qualities they should be looking for in a godly mate! I’ve seen girls end up married to abusive men because their role models were movie stars or athletes, not men of God. If a man doesn’t show you respect, gentleness, self-sacrificing love, and other godly traits, don’t marry him. You’re not going to transform him! Men, burn Proverbs 31:30 into your thinking: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Know what you’re looking for (based upon Scripture) and pray fervently to that end! (if their apartment looks like a rat lives there run.)

  1. BE WISE, BUT NOT SUPER-SPIRITUAL.

By this I mean, God expects you to pray and wait on Him, but He also expects you to use appropriate means for finding a mate. Sometimes we get super-spiritual, thinking that God is going to rain down manna from heaven, when He expects us to plow our field and sow some seeds! (don’t read the wrong idea into that statement) There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself in situations where you may meet a godly mate. That can include involvement with campus ministry groups, attending conferences for Christian singles, getting a job at a seminary or other Christian organization, etc.

Also, even though godly character should take precedence, there’s nothing unspiritual about being physically attracted to someone. Read the Song of Solomon and you will discover that the couple isn’t extolling the finer points of each other’s personalities! In its proper place, there’s nothing wrong with physical attraction.

Also, don’t be so super-spiritual that you overlook liking the person. You’re looking for a companion, and a lot of companionship involves enjoying the person’s personality. You should have some common interests and be able to enjoy just being together without having to do things. You should be able to accept the person as he or she is, without major remodeling. Also, seek the counsel of those who know you well, especially your parents. Any strong opposition from parents should be weighed very carefully.

Seriously, visit the parents on the first date, see how that marriage is working, what you see is what you get, literally.

  1. Marriage is not the final solution to your problems; God is!

Marriage is a gracious, good gift from God. As Proverbs 31:10-12 exclaims, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Amen!

But at the same time, if God is not at the center of your life and your mate’s life, marriage creates more problems than it solves. Without the Lord at the center, marriage just brings together two self-centered people seeking self-fulfillment from one another. It doesn’t work. Put God at the center of your life. Pray that He will bring you a mate with the same commitment. Then joyfully serve Him together.

I’ve been married 44 years this year, and my wife and I often talk about the “luck” we had finding each other. One reason we “got lucky” was we did not violate God’s law regarding purity, not before and not after we met. I met her folks on the first date, she met mine on the second. We “courted” not dated. Plus our parents told us the plan before we started relations and seeking a mate.

To those that feel like they’ve blown it and are second rate goods and should take what they can get. STOP. Get good pastoral counseling and work on you image in God’s eye.

Regarding counseling, don’t believe the lie that a person is a Christian counselor just because they say so. Look at their training, if it mainly secular like a Masters in social working, run. They’re just niche’ marketing. Find a pastor who has trained to counsel according to the bible.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Bridge over the river Kwai

You may not be old enough to know this movie reference, if you haven’t seen this movie I suggest you move it up to things you need to do this week.

I don’t want to ruin the plot or the ending so I will only say this “don’t give up.”

As I’m writing this devotion I am at the point of saying I quit, no more, let me off, goodbye, sayonara, adios, you get my point.

I’m tired, fed up, frustrated, worried, anxious, fearful, depressed, again you get my point, not the fruits of the spirit.

You have no idea how my brain works, I have no idea how my brain works.   But you don’t want to be in my head. One reason I keep the radio on a Christian station all day everywhere, even in the shower is so I don’t hear what I’m thinking. Because when it gets quiet it gets crazy.

So here was my idea of solving my problems today, get a big refrigerator box, put a sign on it that says “Unwanted Merchandise” put it out on the Interstate and climb in and see who picks me and maybe they’ll keep me. (grade “A” pity party today)

Except right after I think that this song pops into my head;

1 I have a song that Jesus gave me,

It was sent from heav’n above;

There never was a sweeter melody,

‘Tis a melody of love.

2 I love the Christ who died on Calv’ry,

For He washed my sins away;

He put within my heart a melody,

And I know it’s there to stay.

3 ‘Twill be my endless theme in glory,

With the angels I will sing;

‘Twill be a song with glorious harmony,

When the courts of heaven ring.

Chorus;

In my heart there rings a melody,

There rings a melody with heaven’s harmony;

In my heart there rings a melody,

There rings a melody of love.

And like Paul Harvey, (another reference for the older crowd) is the rest of the story. Yes, tomorrow will still be hard, the pain, the difficulties, the realities of life and circumstances. But I will probably still be singing this song until I fall asleep tonight and then when I wake up tomorrow.

Don’t give up, don’t give in to the dark side, the sun will come up tomorrow and it still may suck in a major way, but hey I will sing this song until the Lord rescues me.

Seriously, smile!

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

  “For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).

  Our Father took the old fleshly life into death at the Cross (Rom. 6:6). He gave us new spiritual life in Christ at the resurrection (Rom. 6:4, 5). As we keep our eyes upon the Cross for the old, and upon the Lord Jesus Christ for the new, all that will remain for others to see will be “not I, but Christ.”

  “In Romans Seven, the personal pronouns ‘I,’ ‘me,’ ‘my,’ are used 47 times in 18 verses. This is the way in which believers live who do not know or who do not recognize the fact of their union with the Lord Jesus Christ.

To be occupied with self is to be defeated and to have failure and live in sin; but to be occupied with the Lord Jesus will mean victory. He must be the center, He must be everything to me. In Him is liberation; apart from abiding in Him is defeat and failure. Are you trying to please God, or trusting the One to whom you are united, the One who did ‘always the things that are pleasing to Him’?

In our Position (union) in Him we are made manifest to God; we are holy and complete in Him. In our Possession of Him He is manifested to men; He lives out His life through us. As we are accepted in Him, so may He be manifested in us.

  “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7).

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

 

do your part

June 20, 2017

Today as never before, Christians are being called upon to give reasons for the hope that is within them. Often in the evangelistic context seekers raise questions about the validity of the gospel message. Removing intellectual objections will not make one a Christian; a change of heart wrought by the Spirit is also necessary. But though intellectual activity is insufficient to bring another to Christ, it does not follow that it is also unnecessary. In this essay we will examine the place and purpose of apologetics in the sharing of our faith with others.

The word “apologetics” never actually appears in the Bible. But there is a verse which contains its meaning:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you the reason for the hope that is within you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).

The Greek word apologia means “answer,” or “reasonable defense.” It does not mean to apologize, nor does it mean just to engage in intellectual dialogue. It means to provide reasonable answers to honest questions and to do it with humility, respect, and reverence.

The verse thus suggests that the manner in which one does apologetics is as important as the words expressed. And Peter tells us in this passage that Christians are to be ready always with answers for those who inquire of us concerning our faith. Most Christians have a great deal of study ahead of them before this verse will be a practical reality in their evangelistic efforts.

Another question that often comes up in a discussion about the merits and place of apologetics is, “What is the relationship of the mind to evangelism?” “Does the mind play any part in the process?” “What about the effects of the fall?” “Isn’t man dead in trespasses and sins?” “Doesn’t the Bible say we are to know nothing among men except Jesus Christ and Him crucified?” “Why do we have to get involved at all in apologetics if the Spirit is the One Who actually brings about the New Birth?”

I think you will agree that today there are many Christians who are firmly convinced that answering the intellectual questions of unbelievers is an ineffectual waste of time. They feel that any involvement of the mind in the gospel interchange smacks too much of human effort and really just dilutes the Spirit’s work.

But Christianity thrives on intelligence, not ignorance. If a real Reformation is to accompany the revival for which many of us pray, it must be something of the mind as well as the heart. It was Jesus who said, “Come and see.” He invites our scrutiny and investigation both before and after conversion.

We are to love God with the mind as well as the heart and the soul. In fact, the early church was powerful and successful because it out-thought and out-loved the ancient world. We are not doing either very well today.

People respond to the gospel for various reasons—some out of pain or a crisis, others out of some emotional need such as loneliness, guilt, insecurity, etc. Some do so out of a fear of divine judgment. And coming to know Christ brings a process of healing and hope to the human experience. To know Christ is to find comfort for pain, acceptance for insecurity and low self-esteem, forgiveness for sin and guilt.

And others seem to have intellectual questions which block their openness to accept the credibility of the Christian message. These finally find in Christ the answers to their intellectual doubts and questions.

Those today who are actively involved in evangelism readily recognize the need for this kind of information to witness to certain people, and there are many more doubters and skeptics out there today than there were even twenty years ago.

We can see more clearly where we are as a culture by taking a good look at Paul’s world in the first century. Christianity’s early beginnings flourished in a Graeco-Roman culture more X-rated and brutal than our own. And we find Paul adapting his approach from group to group.

For instance, he expected certain things to be in place when he approached the Jewish communities and synagogues from town to town. He knew he would find a group which already had certain beliefs which were not in contradiction to the gospel he preached. They were monotheists. They believed in one God. They also believed this God had spoken to them in their Scriptures and had given them absolute moral guidelines for behavior (the Ten Commandments).

But when Paul went to the Gentile community, he had no such expectations. There he knew he would be faced with a culture that was polytheistic (many gods), biblically ignorant, and living all kinds of perverted, wicked lifestyles. And on Mars Hill in Athens when he preached the gospel, he did somewhat modify his approach.

He spoke of God more in terms of His presence and power, and he even quoted truth from a Greek poet in order to connect with these “pagans” and get his point across: “We are God’s offspring” (Acts 17:28).

One hundred years ago, the vast majority of Americans pretty much reflected the Jewish mentality, believing in God, having a basic respect for the Bible, and strong convictions about what was right and what was wrong.

That kind of American can still be found today in the 90s, but George Gallup says they aren’t having much of an impact on the pagan, or Gentile community, which today holds few beliefs compatible with historic Christianity.

To evangelize such people, we have our work cut out for us. And we will have to use both our minds and our hearts to “become all things to all men in order to save some.”

As we’re considering how we as Christians can have an impact on our increasingly fragmented society, we need to keep in mind that many do not share our Christian view of the world, and some are openly hostile to it.

In fact, a college professor recently commented that he felt the greatest impediment to social progress right now was what he called the bigoted, dogmatic Christian community. That’s you and me, folks.

If we could just “loosen up a little,” and compromise on some issues, America would be a happier place. What is meant by this is not just a demand for tolerance . . . but wholesale acceptance of any person’s lifestyle and personal choices!

But the Bible calls us to be “salt and light” in our world. How can we be that effectively?I don’t have a total answer, but I’ll tell you after 30+ years of active ministry what isn’t working. And by my observation, far too many Christians are trying to address the horrendous issues of our day with one of three very ineffective approaches.

Defensive Approach Many Christians out there are mainly asking the question, “How strong are our defenses?” “How high are our walls?” This barricade mentality has produced much of the Christian subculture. We have our own language, literature, heroes, music, customs, and educational systems. Of course, we need places of support and fellowship. But when Paul describes spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10, he actually reverses the picture. It is the enemy who is behind walls, inside strongholds of error and evil. And Paul depicts the Christians as those who should be mounting offensives at these walls to tear down the high things which have exalted themselves above the knowledge of God. We are to be taking ground, not just holding it.

Defeatist Approach Other Christians have already given up. Things are so bad, they say, that my puny efforts won’t change anything. “After all, we are living in the last days, and Jesus said that things would just get worse and worse.” This may be true, but it may not be. Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour of His coming. Martin Luther had the right idea when he said, “If Jesus were to come tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today and pay my debts.” The Lord may well be near, He could also tarry awhile. Since we don’t know for sure, we should be seeking to prepare ourselves and our children to live for Him in the microchip world of the 21st century.

Devotional Approach Other Christians are trying to say something about their faith, but sadly, they can only share their personal religious experience. It is true that Paul speaks of us as “epistles known and read” by all men. Our life/experience with Christ is a valid witness. But there are others out there in the culture with “changed” lives . . . and Jesus didn’t do the changing! Evangelism today must be something more than “swapping” experiences. We must learn how to ground our faith in the facts of history and the claims of Christ. We must have others grapple with Jesus Christ, nor just our experience.

We need to:

  1. Go to people. The heart of evangelism is Christians taking the initiative to actually go out and “fish for men.” Acts 17:17 describes for us how Paul was effective in his day and time: “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the gentile worshippers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”

  1. Communicate with people. Engage them. Sharing the Gospel involves communication. People must be focused upon and then understand the Gospel to respond to it. It is our responsibility as Christians to make it as clear as possible for all who will listen. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).

  1. Relate to people. Effective witness involves not only the transmission of biblical information; it also includes establishing a relationship with the other person. Hearts, as well as heads, must meet. “So, affectionately longing for you,” said Paul to the Thessalonians, “we were well pleased to import to you not only the good news of God, but also our own lives, because you have become dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).

  1. Remove barriers. Part of our responsibility involves having the skills to eliminate obstacles, real or imagined, which keep an individual from taking the Christian message seriously. When God sent the prophet Jeremiah forth, He said, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth . . . and I have ordained you to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Sometimes our task as well is one of “spiritual demolition,” of removing the false so the seeds of truth can take root. Apologetics sometimes serves in that capacity, of preparing a highway for God in someone’s life.

  1. Explain the gospel to others. We need an army of Christians today who can consistently and clearly present the message to as many people as possible. Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart so that she heeded the things which were spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Four essential elements in sharing the gospel:

someone talking (Paul)

things spoken (gospel)

someone listening (Lydia)

the Lord opening the heart.

  1. Invite others to receive Christ. We can be clear of presentation, but ineffective because we fail to give someone the opportunity and encouragement to take that first major step of faith. “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we beg you in Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

  1. Make every effort by every means to establish them in the faith. Stay with them, ground them in the Scripture, help them gain assurance of their salvation, and get them active in a vital fellowship/church.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Scripture makes it clear that our eternal salvation comes by grace through faith; it does not come from ourselves but is wholly a gift of God (see Eph 2:8). So what does James mean when he asks, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (Jas 2:14).

 James is saying a faith without accompanying works is no saving faith at all: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (v. 17). Is James contradicting Paul? No.

  Paul is describing true and living faith; James is arguing against a false faith which consists of nothing but spiritually dead intellectual assent (vv. 17, 19, 20, 26)

. . . Faith and good works are both necessary. But one is the root and the other is the fruit.

Not only is holiness the goal of your redemption, it is necessary for your redemption. And as John Piper adds, “All the obedience of believers necessary for final salvation is obedience that comes from faith (1Th 1:3; 2Th 1:11; Gal 5:6; Heb 10:35–36; 11:8). If it does not come from faith it is legalism and gains nothing but deeper condemnation (Ro 9:32).”

 Hundreds of verses in Scripture confirm that growing in holiness is necessary for our salvation. Because holiness is so important to spiritual formation—and for our eternal destiny!—let’s look at some of these verses (emphasis added):

  ➤ The necessity of holiness—“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

 ➤ The necessity of doing good—“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (Jn 5:28–29).

 ➤ The necessity of obedience—“Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1Jn 2:4).

 ➤ The necessity to forgive others—“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt 6:15).

 ➤ The necessity of being free from the love of money—“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Mt 6:24).

 ➤ The necessity of love for God—“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1Jn 2:15).

 ➤ The necessity to love others—“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1Jn 3:14).

 ➤ The necessity of being childlike—“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).

 ➤ The necessity to bridle the tongue—“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (Jas 1:26).

 ➤ The necessity of perseverance—“Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory” (Heb 3:6).

 ➤ The necessity of walking in the light—“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1Jn 1:7).

 ➤ The necessity of repentance—“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Ac 3:19).

  While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all relevant verses on the connection between sanctification and salvation, it’s enough to convey the importance Scripture places on the subject.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

the who

June 16, 2017

THE WHO

 

  “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).

  We never question how He works, once we know Him for who He is. When I gain the treasure of knowing Him, I can well afford to trust Him.

  “The heart that is captivated by an object could never be at rest until it was with the one who had won it; for satisfaction you must be where He is. Love really does not think of anyone but its Object until it is quite sure of its place with Him, and then when at rest about itself it studies the mind and heart of the Object.

  I find that Christ loved me, and gave Himself for me when I was in a most unattractive state; but He makes me suitable to Himself, and I am so assured of the permanency of His love and of my association with Him that my heart is free to study Him. The more I am in His company, the more I acquire the tastes and characteristics which answer to His mind.

There is an amazing effect of beholding the Lord’s glory. You may be transformed from some old taste without even feeling it; but you are transformed! and you cannot tell how. It is not the process that occupies you, but you are engrossed with the Lord. We are united to the glorified Lord where He is at home, and, blessed by God, that is our home, our life is there.

  “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com