S.O.S.

May 30, 2018

For some reason today, suicide was the hot topic. Not because everyone was watching 13 reasons why. But because the suicide rate is highest among seniors than any other age group.

For the Christian, it is essential to understand several things regarding suicide:

(1) Suicide is sin. God forbids murder (Exodus 20:13) and taking one’s own life is murder. It is also sin because it fails to take into account the assurances of God’s grace and mercy, of the compassionate High Priesthood of our Lord Jesus, and because it believes that there is no way out, but to sin. None of these are true. Taking one’s life is to disobey God, and disobedience is sin. Suicide is also sin because it causes great suffering for those we leave behind.  Suicide does not serve others for their good.

(2) While suicide is sin, it is not the unpardonable sin. (if the attempt fails) The only unpardonable sin is attributing the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus to Satan (Mark 3:20-30).

(3) While suicide is sin, it is easier to understand why a Christian would consider suicide than it is to grasp why an unbeliever would do so.  At best, the unbeliever who commits suicide enters into an uncertain future.  Little do they know that the are actually entering into a state of eternal separation from from God.  Knowing the glorious future that awaits the Christian, a believer might reason that it is better to escape the trials and tribulations of this life and enter into eternal joy in the presence of our Lord.  This is not to understate how tragic this choice is, or how destructive it is to one’s testimony, and to one’s claim that God’s provisions are sufficient for our every need. But the Christian is assured of going to heaven when they die (even if that be by suicide). When one is overcome by depression and is not thinking clearly, suicide may appear to be the only way out.

(4) There were genuine believers in the Bible who wanted to die, men like Elijah and Job, but the Scriptures that describe these men’s despair and suicidal desires make it clear that they were wrong. Later events make it clear that “bailing out of life” would have been a very bad choice.

(5) God sometimes brings us to a point of total despair and frustration so that we will give up trying to live this life in our own strength and cast ourselves wholly upon Christ.

After decades of crisis counseling and standing with parents as their young teens were brought from the brink of death by a suicidal attempt. I’ve reached one opinion. Every single kid was glad they didn’t die.

Suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do, it reflects a person consumed only with their own feelings and thoughts. It doesn’t “solve” anything.

My advice is tell the secret, come out of the closet, share what’s going through your mind, tell your wife you got aids, from that 20 dollar hooker, do the prison time. Whatever. Just get over you being the most important person in the world.

On a happier note our bible winner was actually brother and sister from Ecuador. And since we had two matching bible and a great phone call with some new friends of scumlikeuschurch. We are happy to announce that Birdy and Lollei are now even bigger friends.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ADULT TOPIC, CAUTION, READ ONLY IF YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THE TOPIC.

THERE ARE NO PICTURES OR GRAPHIC DETAILS.

WARNING ADULT SUBJECT

Memorial day,

Every 98 seconds, an American is being sexually assaulted.

A government watchdog suggested that Congress might want to prohibit the Defense Department from spending money on Afghan military units whose members sexually abuse children or commit other human rights violations including the sexual abuse of our own American Soldiers. But the Pentagon disagreed with that idea, saying such incidents must be weighed against U.S. national security interests. (REALLY!!!) That attitude will never help soldiers come forward to tell their story because it’s at odds with ‘national interests.’

While in military service 1.5% of men reported being raped by Allied Troops while in the showers in forward operating combat zones. The figure in reality is much higher. Custom knife makers have been making neck knives to especially be worn while showering. Both to defend but also to mark the offenders so they can be challenged in a military court or more practical, shot while out on the next patrol.

The instructions are to slash the face and hands, leave a tell-tale mark. Problem is 99% of the men attacked don’t report it, especially if they were raped.

Hey, I’m a man, I’m supposed to be a lean mean green fighting machine. It’s hard for a man to admit something like that happened. Don’t let anyone tell you keep it to yourself, or, time is a great healer.

40% of women in the military report some form of sexual abuse, from groping, hazing, lewd comments, to physical assault.  Another reason not to have women in the military (in combat areas especially) (my opinion only).

13% of all men have reported the same thing.

What happened to the few, the proud, the Marines.

When I was in the military I saw 1 female in uniform, she was a major, a psychiatrist. Never saw women in the ranks. Never had one driving a truck with me or toting a gun out in the jungle. Now granted we still rode horses and shot bolt action guns (kidding) but it was a very long time.

Different jungle for me, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Banana Republics. For me we were told if you end up in prison down there kill yourself immediately. We all carried several knives, two single shot pistols as well as the usual weapons. We never all slept at the same time, two up 5 down, hypervigilance. Our biggest problem was money. Living in a place where bribes were 3 times larger than your annual salary. There was no loyalty.

So on this Memorial day, I’m encouraging soldiers to step up, speak out, sell your story (repeat until someone listens). Find someone to help you tell it all. Lay aside the self-blame. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed. You’re not less of a man for telling the truth about what happened. Women, the court experience can be worse than the event. You will be pictured as a slut, asking for it. I’m sorry, that’s all I can say, it’s not right. But hang tough. Take another beating, this time in court. But break the S.O.B. that did this to you.  As a soldier I apologize for what happened. A pastor might tell you vengeance is the Lord’s. well as a pastor, the court system is a part of God’s system. We won’t even go into the problems with the court. But it is what it is. By submitting to the law, you are submitting to God.

As our society further decays it is only going to get worse.

Changing the venue, sexual abuse here in the church, first thing, notice how high the numbers are that are being reported. It’s still to big a risk, to much shame in the military for men and woman to come forward. The stakes are higher while being in the military. You can lose your entire military career, or never be promoted, driven out silently.

In church, you just change churches. (I’m not making light of the situation) both are horrible events. But the problems are vastly different in the environment where the abuse happens. Because the systems are different, civilian world is an open system, whereas the military is a closed system.

Let’s turn to the church world

  • Evangelicals are initially more skeptical of media reports, even well-documented ones, than are members of the population at large—even when such reports come accompanied by significant evidence and documentation. It appears that we are more likely to go with the legal system’s “innocent until proven guilty” rule of thumb than the Bible’s “at the mouth of three witnesses let a thing be established” guideline. Nevertheless, when journalists continue to provide evidence, evangelicals are slowly persuaded.

  • That means often we believe the high-profile person who says “I didn’t do it” over the less powerful person saying, “You did this. And I have nothing to gain and everything to lose by bringing it up.”

  • When #MeToo initially went viral many Christians assumed the church was ahead of the culture in terms of morality. But it just took longer for the church stories to break. #ChurchToo followed with many stories about abuses of power beneath the steeple.

  • Some have suggested that a key problem with sexual harassment accusations is that the lines are gray, and people have misunderstood simple flirting—making a big deal out of nothing. But some solid Barna research contradicts such thinking. People, it turns out, are pretty clear about what constitutes crossing the line.

Hey, in my marriage it was simple, don’t look, don’t touch, don’t even think about it.

 Americans say that sexual harassment is most often about being touched or groped (women: 96%, men: 86%) or being forced to do something sexual (women: 91%, men: 83%). The list encompasses more than these extremes, however; it also includes someone touching themselves intentionally or masturbating in front of an unwilling witness (women: 89%, men: 76%); making sexual comments about someone’s looks or body (women: 86%, men: 70%); and sharing intimate photos or videos of someone without permission (women: 85%, men: 71%).

  • Christians who provide well-researched, investigated reports on allegations of sexual harassment and abuse are doing holy work, bringing darkness to light. Often public accountability is the only way to keep powerful people honest. Even church boards, seeking to reduce negative publicity, are often complicit in cover-ups.

  • There are a lot more people who get harassed and abused and finally come forward than there are who get falsely accused. So while we must take both seriously, we must also recognize our tendency to disbelieve the powerless.

  • If someone’s behavior is illegal (e.g., rape, child porn), the church has an obligation to more than deal with it internally; they must report it to the police. So those of us in leadership need to be familiar with our states’ laws. Many mental-health professionals believe that the power differential is so significant in minister with parishioner, physician with patient, and counselor with client relationships that there is no such thing as “consent.” That being the case, words such as “affair” have no room in our vocabulary for describing such situations.

  • When calling for an independent investigation, we need to look for ways that even a so-called independent investigation can leave the researcher beholden to the one(s) paying the bills. Such ties can create a conflict of interest—which can lead to accusations of cover-ups. So we must aim for fuller transparency and accountability.

  • When people confide in us their stories, we must avoid victim-blaming. One way to do so: ask super open-ended questions such as “What seemed the best course of action to you and why?” rather than “Why didn’t you call the police immediately?” Our questions can inflict more pain if we aren’t careful.

  • It is not enough to call for resignation when a leader has harmed a parishioner. And a verbal apology is not enough, either. Healing involves also making reparations such as taking full responsibility via rhetoric and paying for victims’ counseling. (When Zaccheus repented of ripping people off, he did more than apologize. He paid back his victims more than they had lost through his thievery. See Luke 19.)

Paul called on the Ephesians to expose the deeds of darkness Eph. 5:11). If you know of abuse happening—whether it’s like a David with a Bathsheba or a Potiphar’s wife with a Joseph—do something. Tell someone! The church of all places should be the best place in the world for victims and victimizers alike to encounter both mercy and justice.

Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up. (Galations 6:9)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

CREATING GOOD HABITS

February 6, 2018

Creating Good Habits

Proverbs 4 is a mini-course on how to live wisely. The main metaphor of the chapter is that life is a journey and we are to keep to the path of righteousness (see v. 18). We are to “give careful thought to the paths for [our] feet and be steadfast in all [our] ways” (v. 26). To do this we will need to adopt a number of life-changing behaviors, such as getting wisdom and understanding (see v. 5), guarding our hearts (see v. 23) and avoiding corrupt talk (see v. 25).

 Although Proverbs doesn’t use the word habit, it is implied throughout that virtuous habits are necessary to live wisely. Habits are unconscious patterns of behavior acquired through frequent repetition. We often acquire our habits unconsciously or through repetition forced on us by authority figures (think teachers and parents). But we can also directly develop habits through conscious effort.

 Once we understand the ins and outs of habits, we can harness the process to create virtuous habits like those mentioned in Proverbs 4. Virtuous habits also include behaviors such as reading Scripture and serving our neighbor, which help us to become more like Jesus.

 Want to create a new virtuous habit? Try this:

  1. Identify the habit loop—The new pattern of behavior you want to create will consist of the habit loop: a cue, a routine

    and

    a reward. Take a few minutes to think through (and if it helps, write down) the details of each part of the loop. Let’s use the habit of a daily devotional reading as an example. To set up the routine, to actually read the devotional, what do you need? Well, access to a Bible and some devotional material would be helpful. You’ll also want a time you can consistently carry out the habit loop (e.g., in the morning, before work). The more you understand the habit loop you are creating, the easier it will be to identify any problems that might prevent you from making it a regular behavior.

  1. Isolate the cue—Cues signal you to begin the routine. Research has shown that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories: location, time, emotional state, other people and immediately preceding action. A helpful cue will take advantage of as many of these categories as possible. For instance, your cue could be pulling into the parking lot at work (location and immediately preceding action) at 8:40 a.m. (time) when you are relieved to be out of traffic (emotional state) and no one else is around (other people).

  1. Create a reward—When creating a virtuous habit, surprisingly the reward stage can be one of the most difficult steps. Why should you be rewarded for doing something you should be doing anyway? And isn’t the habit—such as your devotional reading—a reward in itself? It’s understandable that you might feel guilty about creating a reward for a good habit. But keep in mind that you are not rewarding yourself for doing the right thing; you’re training your brain to create a neurological craving. If you “reward” yourself (by eating a small piece of candy, for example) after reading a devotional, it isn’t to actually reward you for your accomplishment. It’s merely a way to directly affect how your brain will respond to the habit loop.

  1. Plan and evaluate—Habits are difficult to consciously create because they have not yet become a habit. It’s the conscious part—making sure your brain is actively focused on the habit loop—that becomes the stumbling block.

  Making the habit loop part of your natural thought process requires effort and persistence. Ask yourself a few questions, such as,

  ➤ How will I handle obstacles?

 ➤ What if I miss my schedule and need to get back on track?

 ➤ Are my cues and rewards working like I want them to?

 ➤ Customize the idea to make it work for you.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Crushed

December 15, 2017

Isaiah 53:5

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

Chuck Swindoll brought up an interesting viewpoint today. “THE GOD WHO CRUSHES”. If He would do this to His own Son, what would he do to us?

So he quoted part of this anonymous poem, here it is for you to ponder.

When God Wants To Drill A Man

When God wants to drill a man,

And thrill a man,

And skill a man

When God wants to mold a man

To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart

To create so great and bold a man

That all the world shall be amazed,

Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects

Whom He royally elects!

How He hammers him and hurts him,

And with mighty blows converts him

Into trial shapes of clay which

Only God understands;

While his tortured heart is crying

And he lifts beseeching hands!

How He bends but never breaks

When his good He undertakes;

How He uses whom He chooses,

And which every purpose fuses him;

By every act induces him

To try His splendor out-

God knows what He’s about.

Hopefully this helps or changes your viewpoint about our trials and hardships.

His goal is to have us like his Son.

See where I’m going with this?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Connie, her 4th miscarriage. She is devastated, so many emotions right now, keep her in prayer.

Pray for Ron K, Ron was in the porn business back in the 70’s, he accepted Jesus as his Savior yesterday. He’s in an accountability group, keep him in prayer, he is moving to a men’s camp for three months of discipleship and to stay away from the LA crowd.

NOTE: in our Pure Life Ministries we’ve seen dozens of folks associated in the porn business come to know the Lord. Some have gone on to have great marriages, others have stayed celibate, but if we can get them move away from the industry they make great strides in their growth.

HIJACKED

December 4, 2017

HI-JACKED

Susan Smith drowned her two toddlers by strapping them in their car seats and aiming her driver-less car into a lake. Political cartoonist John Deering drew a cartoon showing her car being hauled out of the lake, complete with a South Carolina license plate, a Baby-on-Board sign in the back window, and a Pro-Choice sticker on the rear bumper. There was no caption; there didn’t need to be. His point was clear: If it is wrong for a mother to choose to kill her toddlers, why is it not wrong to kill them a few months before?

A Planned Parenthood newsletter earlier this year ran an article titled, “Help Stop the Violence and Defend the Right to Choose.” The violence referred to was not killing babies, but killing abortion doctors. I’m against killing abortion doctors, but I’m also against Planned Parenthood which kills babies! Pro-choice means the choice to kill children who just aren’t as old as other children. The right to choose to kill your children should not be legal because it is not moral. Let’s drop the rhetoric.

The latest Planned Parenthood brochure says they are a good choice when it’s not convenient for you. Don’t wreck your plans your life call us when it’s inconvenient.

I want to recommend that you listen to Pastor Steven Davies, at Wisdom for the Heart ministries. And today’s sermon. 12/03/2017

He reads a speech by the president of Planned Parenthood, declaring that the services they provide are holy, sacred, and divine. That they are providing a sacred gift.

Ok, right now your blood pressure should have shot up, your fists curled and maybe a little cussing. Really, we can’t talk about our faith at work if you are a Christian, but an abortion clinic is holy, sacred and divine.

Dr. Walter Martin, the excellent author of the book “kingdom of the Cults.” Writes a great thesis in the beginning of his book, “we must agree what words mean.”

It started with Bill Clinton defining what sex meant, and now the language of God, of the Judeo-Christian world is being hijacked by abortionists. Do you want to know why? It because they are defying God, they are reprobates, their minds are darkened and they blaspheme God. It’s not politics it’s about the tower of Babel. What men think in their mind and imagination they will carry out against the wishes of their Creator.

Friends we need to pray for our country like never before and stop these ungodly people and their agenda.

if you have had an abortion, God loves you and forgives you.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

TOUCHED

November 20, 2017

THE NEED FOR TOUCH

I’m always amazed by how unloved people in the church feel. In one church we mentioned in the bulletin that on Thursdays you could come to my office from 9am to 9pm and just be hugged. There would be two other people in the room, usually my wife and I.

I was amazed at how many people “snuck” in for a hug and a prayer. Now I’m a big hugger, you gonna know you were hugged. No sissy, barely held you, nope you’re gonna get the works. What amazed is how many people just wept when embraced.

The other comment was “thank you for hugging me like a real man.” That puzzled me at first, but I always ask, “what do you mean?”

The most common answer was from married women who said how their husbands barely touched them any more and if they did they felt like they were being hugged by their sister not their husband.

Well the church all on its own started a hugging revolution. All the services had everyone hugging, before during and after. And then it spread outside of church. How did I know that? People started coming to our church to be hugged. We actually roped off two front pews with a sign that said “need hugs.”

Those two pews began to fill up with the threshold crowd, mentally ill, homeless, broken, and they sat there with a childlike presence waiting for someone to reach out and hug them. We actually had some parolees with warrants and one escaped mental patient call and said they would turn themselves in at the church if they could get a hug first. The police were shocked, but they cooperated, and I’ve lost count of the people that came in to be arrested if they were hugged first. And never a problem.

I try to stop by my son’s business at least once a week, we always hug and he kisses me on the cheek and we say “we love you.” Clients there will ask if we will hug them as well. And then so many ask or say about how loving every one there is. Or that they haven’t seen an adult son and father hug and kiss in forever.

When I leave my son and daughter in law will shout out again; “we love you Pop.” And the whole place goes silent waiting for my heart felt and loud, “we love you too.”

Friends, it might take you a while to get used to invading someone’s space but start hugging. And spouses start hugging.

People are surprised but filled with joy over a hug.

I have a big Aryan ex-con friend, all tatted up and everything pierced, he never wears a shirt just his biker vest. This guy is a muscled bound steroid abuser (ex) we meet every other month at a nice restaurant. He always gets there first so he can sit in their real fancy bar. And when I come in the door he rushes at me like he’s going to kill me. (a few people actually screamed a few times) but we give these huge bear killer hugs and he picks me up off the floor and always says. “I love you man.”

People need the Lord, and everybody needs touched. That was the hallmark of Jesus’s ministry he touched the unwanted. We need to touch everyone.

So spread the love.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

A SECRET AFFAIR

October 14, 2017

Here are three ways men are called to serve their wives:

  1. Sacrifice unto death—The most important way a husband can love his wife like Christ loved the church is to sacrifice himself for her sake. Consider the (negative) example of Abraham. When he moved into the region of the Negev, he feared that some man might kill him to take his wife, so he claimed Sarah was his sister (see Ge 20:2). This was the second time Abraham tried to pull this ruse (see Ge 12:10–13), putting his own safety ahead of his wife’s. Abraham had it backward; as Sarah’s husband, he should have been willing to die for his bride—just as Jesus died for his.

  1. Be Christ to her—Because of a misunderstanding of Biblical authority, many wives cringe at the idea of having to “submit” to their husbands. But as the husband is Christ to the wife (who represents the church), submission becomes a two-way street. “Jesus himself teaches that, at least for Christians, authority must manifest itself not in the exercise of power but in service that finds its ultimate expression in sacrifice.”

  1. Lead her into holiness—God’s intention for our lives is that we be made holy. One way he does that is by having a husband model and channel the love of Christ. A husband should therefore forgive, pray for and encourage his wife to engage in disciplines that lead to her sanctification (see Eph 5:25–27).

There are many things I fail at, but the one thing I’m really good at is being married and a good husband. We have a marriage and a friendship that is stellar. I can’t tell you how many times in restaurants people have come up and asked if we just got married. My wife is always pleased that we are romantic in public. Women have followed my wife into the restroom and asked if we were having an affair (which I find deeply disturbing on so many levels).

Our marriage seminars have great alumni, that keep coming back to make sure they are still kindling a fire.

I think we are particularly fortunate in that we were high school sweethearts, we dated almost 2 and half years. We spent every weekend with each other’s parents (or in our case grandparents, we were both raised by our grandparents, which gave us a little older value system). Completely different in temperaments but the same religious values and both wanted great marriages as we both saw our birth parents fail miserably.

As a marriage counselor and pastor let me tell you two danger signals I see in a marriage, and I’m not joking, separate bank accounts and separate vacations. I would have to check my records to be sure, but after 40 years in ministry and 43 years married, I see that being a path way to disaster.

One other thing, shortly after being married (3 months) we moved 1500 hundred miles away (military) we had nothing but each other and everything we owned fit into a 1962 Chevy impala, and I mean everything we owned.

Good marriages are from attention to detail. Appreciation and expression. I make sure I hug or kiss her at least 10 times a day. (probably a lot higher). We are strange in that we don’t watch TV so we talk a lot, we share books, so I guess we are really a cult with just two people in it.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Roberta, hip surgery,

Remember Jennifer, oct 31 cataract surgery.

Pray of Bill O, he fell on a cruise and hurt himself pretty bad, one broke rib, and 3-4 ribs cracked.

 

the true mark

September 29, 2017

The subject of positive self esteem, love yourself, self love, our self-concept or self-image creates a kind of paradox. The Bible-believing Christian knows that he is a sinner, that in himself dwells no good thing, and that in himself he has no merit with God; yet, like a paradox, at the same time, he also knows, as a creation of God, created in God’s image and redeemed by His grace, he has value and purpose in life.

So how do we hit a proper balance? How do we avoid the self-centered approach and focus of the world and at the same time have a biblical concept of self, a proper viewpoint of our own value and purpose that sets us free to serve the living God, that sets us free from those thoughts and feelings that tie us in knots and ruin our personalities, create false agendas and motives that so people are incapacitated for ministry?

That we think properly about ourselves is important and is even commanded in Scripture. In Romans 12:3, the apostle wrote, “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.”

The basic word for “think” in this passage is proneo, which means “think, form or hold an opinion, judge.” “Sober discernment,” is sophroneo, “be of sound mind.” It means “to be in one’s right mind, be reasonable, keep one’s head.” But first, the apostle warns us against thinking more highly of ourselves than we should.” The Greek word here is huperphroneo, “to think too highly of oneself, to be haughty.” Ironically, quite contrary to our society today, the apostle does not warn against thinking too little of ourselves. Regardless, the sound thinking Paul is calling for is grounded in biblical revelation and faith in the work of God for us in Christ. Paul is calling for thinking and personal evaluation based on the authority of God’s revelation and on the facts of God and His grace. It means we are to look at ourselves through the lenses of Scripture.

To Timothy, whom some expositors have nick named “Timid Tim” because he seems to have been having problems with his self-confidence (or confidence in God’s gifts and ministry for his life), Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (or sound-mind thinking). The Greek word for “discipline” here is related to the word used for thinking in Romans 12:3. It is sophronismos from sophron, “sensible, prudent.” It comes from sos, “safe, sound, and phren, “the heart, the mind, or the inner man.” Sophronismos refers to “control, self-discipline, prudence” that stems from right thinking. A controlled life, one that demonstrates self-discipline stems from soundness of mind, from knowing and acting on the truth of Scripture in the light of God’s grace in Christ. In both passages, Romans 12:3 and 2 Timothy 1:7, the context deals with God’s gifts to us and the bold expression of those gifts in loving ministry for the sake of the body of Christ.

Thinking properly about ourselves stems from right thinking about God, but then that extends to right thinking about others so that it results in a freedom to serve according to the grace of God.

Now, let’s ask some questions: What am I worth as a person? Do I feel good about who I am or do I wish I was someone else? Have I accepted who I am as a person, not my sin or sinful habits, but the uniqueness God has created in me as a person (Ps. 139:13-14)? How we answer these questions may play a key role in what we do with our lives, how we live our lives, in the joy we experience in life, in the way we treat others, and in how we respond to people and to God. “Research has shown that we tend to act in harmony with our mental self-portrait. If we don’t like the kind of person we are, we think no one else likes us either. And that influences our social life, our job performance, our relationships with others.”

A biblical concept of self developed out of our concept of God and His grace is important to solid spiritual maturity, to ministry, to our ability to lead others, and especially to our ability to be servants. Without a biblical concept of self, we end up playing spiritual king-of-the-mountain and engage in promoting personal agendas to build up a sagging ego. We seek from position, power, and praise what we should get from resting in God’s grace.

Thus, in order to effectively lead or minister to others we must think biblically about who we are. This means two key things: (a) we need to know our abilities and limitations while (b) always keeping in mind a biblical view of God, His grace to us in Christ, and knowing our sufficiency is always in God regardless of our abilities or weaknesses (see 2 Cor. 2:16-3:6).

Why is thinking in these terms so important? Because without it we will vacillate between fear and pride or between insecurity and overconfidence. Without this we will become either withdrawn and introverted or we will find ourselves running around in a hubbub of activity trying to feel good about ourselves because of our achievements. Paul’s spiritual maturity and qualification as a leader is seen in his freedom to serve others because, resting in who he was in Christ as a servant called of God by grace, he was not seeking to protect a poor self-image or to impress men with his greatness (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:1-6).

It’s all about balance, self identity, who am I, and why am I here. Talk about this topic with teens, young adults and college students; and not give empty rhetoric and blasé platitudes and you will pack out the house. Add to that have the meeting in a non-traditional place and wow, you will have people come that will never walk into a church. (until you show them it’s relevant.)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Roger D, and Jennifer, cataract surgery coming up soon, they’re both a little bit afraid.

Susanna B, against all advice from all her family, she went and had face surgery, (plastic) it went really wrong. The emotional damage done right now is epic.

 

step up your game

September 25, 2017

These are all quotes about prayer, I just finished a great book on prayer, you can find it free online, written in the late 60’s I think, by Levi Strauss, “Sense and Nonsense about prayer”, 138 pages you can read in about an hour or so, his comments and illustrations is what makes this a fun book to read and hopefully encourage you to step up your prayer life.

Also, Saturday, September 23 Ravi Zechariahs opened his part one series about prayer with the first quote here, I encourage you to listen to the broadcast.

We all are up and down and all around on prayer, we are either prayer warriors or garden gnomes and then somewhere in between. The best part of Strauss’s book it will at least keep you from praying wrong, stupidly or even just wasting your time. Besides bible reading there is nothing more important than bible reading. Bible reading comes first, you can’t pray correctly or effectively without reading your bible.

So I hope the following quotes will inspire you and Strauss’s book will guide you.

A person that reads and prays  frequently will stand out in any group by not standing out, humble, quiet, caring and thoughtful are those that have found the pathway to intimacy in God, questions, doubts and fears all disappear to the obedient of these disciplines. For no other reason than should you neglect such a blessing.

The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it had bridled the rage of lions, hushed the anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings. – Chrysostom

The prayers of holy men appease God’s wrath, drive away temptations, resist and overcome the devil, procure the ministry and service of angels, rescind the decrees of God. Prayer cures sickness and obtains pardon; it arrests the sun in its course and stays the wheels of the chariot of the moon; it rules over all gods and opens and shuts the storehouses of rain, it unlocks the cabinet of the womb and quenches the violence of fire; it stops the mouths of lions and reconciles our suffering and weak faculties with the violence of torment and violence of persecution; it pleases God and supplies all our need. — Jeremy Taylor

More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of. wherefore,

let thy voice

Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats,

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

Both for themselves and those who call them friend? For so the whole round earth is every way

Bound by gold chains about the feet of God. — Tennyson

Perfect prayer is only another name for love. — Fenelon

It was said of the late C. H. Spurgeon, that he glided from laughter to prayer with the naturalness of one who lived in both elements. With him the habit of prayer was free and unfettered. His life was not divided into compartments, the one shut off from the other with a rigid exclusiveness that barred all intercommunication. He lived in constant fellowship with his Father in Heaven. He was ever in touch with God, and thus it was as natural for him to pray as it was for him to breathe.

“What a fine time we have had; let us thank God for it,” he said to a friend on one occasion, when, out under the blue sky and wrapped in glorious sunshine, they had enjoyed a holiday with the unfettered enthusiasm of schoolboys. Prayer sprang as spontaneously to his lips as did ordinary speech, and never was there the slightest incongruity in his approach to the Divine throne straight from any scene in which he might be taking part.

That is the attitude with regard to prayer that ought to mark every child of God. There are, and there ought to be, stated seasons of communication with God when, everything else shut out, we come into His presence to talk to Him and to let Him speak to us; and out of such seasons springs that beautiful habit of prayer that weaves a golden bond between earth and heaven. Without such stated seasons the habit of prayer can never be formed; without them there is no nourishment for the spiritual life. By means of them the soul is lifted into a new atmosphere — the atmosphere of the heavenly city, in which it is easy to open the heart to God and to speak with Him as friend speaks with friend.

Thus, in every circumstance of life, prayer is the most natural out-pouring of the soul, the unhindered turning to God for communion and direction. Whether in sorrow or in joy, in defeat or in victory, in health or in weakness, in calamity or in success, the heart leaps to meet with God just as a child runs to his mother’s arms, ever sure that with her is the sympathy that meets every need.

Dr. Adam Clarke, in his autobiography, records that when Mr. Wesley was returning to England by ship, considerable delay was caused by contrary winds. Wesley was reading, when he became aware of some confusion on board, and asking what was the matter, he was informed that the wind was contrary. “Then,” was his reply, “let us go to prayer.”

After Dr. Clarke had prayed, Wesley broke out into fervent supplication which seemed to be more the offering of faith than of mere desire. “Almighty and everlasting God,” he prayed. “Thou hast sway everywhere, and all things serve the purpose of Thy will, Thou holdest the winds in Thy fists and sittest upon the water floods, and reignest a King for ever. Command these winds and these waves that they obey Thee, and take us speedily and safely to the haven whither we would go.”

The power of this petition was felt by all. Wesley rose from his knees, made no remark, but took up his book and continued reading. Dr. Clarke went on deck, and to his surprise found the vessel under sail, standing on her right course. Nor did she change till she was safely at anchor. On the sudden and favourable change of wind, Wesley made no remark; so fully did he expect to be heard that he took it for granted that he was heard.

That was prayer with a purpose — the definite and direct utterance of one who knew that he had the ear of God, and that God had the willingness as well as the power to grant the petition which he asked of Him.

Major D. W. Whittle, in an introduction to the wonders of prayer, says of George Muller, of Bristol: “I met Mr. Muller in the express, the morning of our sailing from Quebec to Liverpool. About half-an-hour before the tender was to take the passengers to the ship, he asked of the agent if a deck chair had arrived for him from New York. He was answered, “No,” and told that it could not possibly come in time for the steamer. I had with me a chair I had just purchased, and told Mr. Muller of the place nearby, and suggested, as but a few moments remained, that he had better buy one at once. His reply was, “No, my brother. Our Heavenly Father will send the chair from New York. It is one used by Mrs. Muller. I wrote ten days ago to a brother, who promised to see it forwarded here last week. He has not been prompt, as I would have desired, but I am sure our Heavenly Father will send the chair. Mrs. Muller is very sick on the sea, and has particularly desired to have this same chair, and not finding it here yesterday, we have made special prayer that our Heavenly Father would be pleased to provide it for us, and we will trust Him to do so.” As this dear man of God went peacefully on board, running the risk of Mrs. Muller making the trip without a chair, when, for a couple of dollars, she could have been provided for, I confess I feared Mr. Muller was carrying his faith principles too far and not acting wisely. I was kept at the express office ten minutes after Mr. Muller left. Just as I started to hurry to the wharf, a team drove up the street, and on top of a load just arrived front New York was Mr. Muller’s chair. It was sent at once to the tender and placed in my hands to take to Mr. Muller, just as the boat was leaving the dock (the Lord having a lesson for me). Mr. Muller took it with the happy, pleased expression of a child who has just received a kindness deeply appreciated, and reverently removing his hat and folding his hands over it, he thanked the Heavenly Father for sending the chair.”

One of Melancthon’s correspondents writes of Luther’s praying: “I cannot enough admire the extraordinary, cheerfulness, constancy, faith and hope of the man in these trying and vexatious times. He constantly feeds these gracious affections by a very diligent study of the Word of God. Then not a day passes in which he does not employ in prayer at least three of his very best hours. Once I happened to hear him at prayer. Gracious God! What spirit and what faith is there in his expressions! He petitions God with as much reverence as if he was in the divine presence, and yet with as firm a hope and confidence as he would address a father or a friend. “I know,” said he, “Thou art our Father and our God; and therefore I am sure Thou wilt bring to naught the persecutors of Thy children. For shouldest Thou fail to do this Thine own cause, being connected with ours, would be endangered. It is entirely thine own concern. We, by Thy providence, have been compelled to take a part. Thou therefore wilt be our defence.” Whilst I was listening to Luther praying in this manner, at a distance, my soul seemed on fire within me, to hear the man address God so like a friend, yet with so much gravity and reverence; and also to hear him, in the course of his prayer, insisting on the promises contained in the Psalms, as if he were sure his petitions would be granted.”

Of William Bramwell, a noted Methodist preacher in England, wonderful for his zeal and prayer, the following is related by a sergeant major. “In July, 1811, our regiment was ordered for Spain, then the seat of a protracted and sanguinary war. My mind was painfully exercised with the thoughts of leaving my dear wife and four helpless children in a strange country, unprotected and unprovided for. Mr. Bramwell felt a lively interest in our situation, and his sympathising spirit seemed to drink in all the agonised feelings of my tender wife. He supplicated the throne of grace day and night in our behalf. My wife and I spent the evening previous to our march at a friend’s house, in company with Mr. Bramwell, who sat in a very pensive mood, and appeared to be in a spiritual struggle all the time. After supper, he suddenly pulled his hand out of his bosom, laid it on my knee, and said: “Brother Riley, mark what I am about to say! You are not to go to Spain. Remember what I tell you, you are not; for I have been wrestling with God on your behalf, and when my Heavenly Father condescends in mercy to bless me with power to lay hold on Himself, I do not easily let Him go; no, not until I am favoured with an answer. Therefore you may depend upon it that the next time I hear from you, you will be settled in quarters.” This came to pass exactly as he said. The next day the order for going to Spain was countermanded.”

These men prayed with a purpose. To them God was not far away, in some inaccessible region, but near at hand, ever ready to listen to the call of His children. There was no barrier between. They were on terms of perfect intimacy, if one may use such a phrase in relation to man and his Maker. No cloud obscured the face of the Father from His trusting child, who could look up into the Divine countenance and pour out the longings of his heart. And that is the type of prayer which God never fails to hear. He knows that it comes from a heart at one with His own; from one who is entirely yielded to the heavenly plan, and so He bends His ear and gives to the pleading child the assurance that his petition has been heard and answered.

Have we not all had some such experience when with set and undeviating purpose we have approached the face of our Father? In an agony of soul we have sought refuge from the oppression of the world in the anteroom of heaven; the waves of despair seemed to threaten destruction, and as no way of escape was visible anywhere, we fell back, like the disciples of old, upon the power of our Lord, crying to Him to save us lest we perish. And then in the twinkling of an eye, the thing was done. The billows sank into a calm; the howling wind died down at the Divine command; the agony of the soul passed into a restful peace as over the whole being there crept the consciousness of the Divine presence, bringing with it the assurance of answered prayer and sweet deliverance.

“I tell the Lord my troubles and difficulties, and wait for Him to give me the answers to them,” says one man of God. “And it is wonderful how a matter that looked very dark will in prayer become clear as crystal by the help of God’s Spirit. I think Christians fail so often to get answers to their prayers because they do not wait long enough on God. They just drop down and say a few words, and then jump up and forget it and expect God to answer them. Such praying always reminds me of the small boy ringing his neighbour’s door-bell, and then running away as fast as he can go.”

When we acquire the habit of prayer we enter into a new atmosphere. “Do you expect to go to heaven?” asked someone of a devout Scotsman. “Why, man, I live there,” was the quaint and unexpected reply. It was a pithy statement of a great truth, for all the way to heaven is heaven begun to the Christian who walks near enough to God to hear the secrets He has to impart.

This attitude is beautifully illustrated in a story of Horace Bushnell, told by Dr. Parkes Cadman. Bushnell was found to be suffering from an incurable disease. One evening the Rev. Joseph Twichell visited him, and, as they sat together under the starry sky, Bushnell said: “One of us ought to pray.” Twichell asked Bushnell to do so, and Bushnell began his prayer; burying his face in the earth, he poured out his heart until, said Twichell, in recalling the incident, “I was afraid to stretch out my hand in the darkness lest I should touch God.”

To have God thus near is to enter the holy of holies — to breathe the fragrance of the heavenly air, to walk in Eden’s delightful gardens. Nothing but prayer can bring God and man into this happy communion. That was the experience of Samuel Rutherford, just as it is the experience of every one who passes through the same gateway. When this saint of God was confined in jail at one time for conscience sake, he enjoyed in a rare degree the Divine companionship, recording in his diary that Jesus entered his cell, and that at His coming “every stone flashed like a ruby.”

Many others have borne witness to the same sweet fellowship, when prayer had become the one habit of life that meant more than anything else to them. David Livingstone lived in the realm of prayer and knew its gracious influence. It was his habit every birthday to write a prayer, and on the next to the last birthday of all, this was his prayer: “O Divine one, I have not loved Thee earnestly, deeply, sincerely enough. Grant, I pray Thee, that before this year is ended I may have finished my task.” It was just on the threshold of the year that followed that his faithful men, as they looked into the hut of Ilala, while the rain dripped from the eaves, saw their master on his knees beside his bed in an attitude of prayer. He had died on his knees in prayer.

Stonewall Jackson was a man of prayer. Said he: “I have so fixed the habit in my mind that I never raise a glass of water to my lips without asking God’s blessing, never seal a letter without putting a word of prayer under the seal, never take a letter from the post without a brief sending of my thoughts heavenward, never change my classes in the lecture-room without a — minute’s petition for the cadets who go out and for those who come in.”

James Gilmour, the pioneer missionary to Mongolia, was a man of prayer. He had a habit in his writing of never using a blotter. He made a rule when he got to the bottom of any page to wait until the ink dried and spend the time in prayer.

In this way their whole being was saturated with the Divine, and they became the reflection of the heavenly fragrance and glory. Walking with God down the avenues of prayer we acquire something of His likeness, and unconsciously we become witnesses to others of His beauty and His grace. Professor James, in his famous work, “Varieties of Religious Experience,” tells of a man of forty-nine who said: “God is more real to me than any thought or thing or person. I feel His presence positively, and the more as I live in closer harmony with His laws as written in my body and mind. I feel Him in the sunshine or rain; and all mingled with a delicious restfulness most nearly describes my feelings. I talk to Him as to a companion in prayer and praise, and our communion is delightful. He answers me again and again, often in words so clearly spoken that it seems my outer ear must have carried the tone, but generally in strong mental impressions. Usually a text of Scripture, unfolding some new view of Him and His love for me, and care for my safety … That He is mine and I am His never leaves me; it is an abiding joy. Without it life would be a blank, a desert, a shoreless, trackless waste.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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