SAVVY??

July 22, 2018

  “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

  Hard as it is for the believer to finally come to rest concerning his spiritual birth, it seems to be even more difficult for him to simply rest in the Lord Jesus for his life and service.

There are two stages in the Christian life. The one in which, after conversion, a believer seeks to work what God would have him do. The second, in which, after many a painful failure, he ceases from his works, and enters the rest of God, there to find the power for work in allowing the Father to work in him. (this second stage is only possible if you are not in a legalistic church, and one that grace is available but not cheap.)

It is this rest from their own work which many Christians cannot understand. They think of it as a state of passive and selfish enjoyment, of still contemplation which leads to the neglect of the duties of life, and ruins for that watchfulness and warfare to which Scripture calls. What an entire misunderstanding of God’s call to rest!

Truly to rest in God is to yield oneself up to the highest activity. We work, because He worketh in us both to will and to do (Phil. 2:13). As Paul says of himself, ‘I labor, striving according to his working who worketh in me with might’ (Col. 1:29). Entering the rest of God is the ceasing from self-effort, and the yielding of oneself in the full surrender of faith to God’s working.

Not only does the Lord Jesus live in us, but He becomes the motivating Object of our life as Christians. The law is no longer our motive or rule of life. It is entirely displaced by a Person, and that Person ‘the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ Henceforth the soul has a new center and source—it is no longer self-centered, but Christ-centered.

  “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:29

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

  His love is mine when I know what He did for me; my love is His when I know who He is to me—He who is Love, is my Life. He loved, and died; that I might live, and love. “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (S.S. 6:3).

  “My Father, in His grace, has come in and ended my history in the flesh, by the Cross, and now by the Spirit I am brought into association with His Son at His own right hand in heaven.

  “The Lord Jesus wins my heart in His humiliation; He satisfies it in His glory. A won heart is not necessarily a satisfied heart. But if a heart is truly won by the Lord Jesus it never will be satisfied without Him. No heart that is won is ever satisfied but in the company of the One who won it. Absence does not ‘make the heart grow fonder’! You only discover in absence what you have gained in presence.”

  “We talk of difficulties and perplexities. How little the heart is really in concert, in simple concert with the Lord Jesus! He has gone up to the right hand of the Father in greater power than ever, and He is using the elevation that He has gone to, to effect deliverance for me from all things that would break fellowship between Him and me. And He uses His Word to keep me from all that would interfere with that blessed communion.”

  “Thy Word have I hidden in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11).

The practice of contemplation, one thought, oh how he loves me. We can never think about it to much, think about that love the next time you are tempted.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Cool it

June 8, 2018

Anger is an emotion, an involuntary reaction to a displeasing situation or event. As long as anger is limited to this involuntary, initial emotion, it may be considered a normal reaction.

 It is when we respond improperly to anger – when we lose our temper (let anger get out of hand) or store it up so that it makes us bitter, resentful, or hostile – that is becomes dangerous.

It is here that the Bible calls us to account. In approaching the subject of anger, we must realize that not all anger is wrong. When the Bible deals with anger, it may be focusing on several different emotions.

For example: 1. Moses’ anger burned when he saw the unfaithfulness and idolatry of his people. (Exodus 32:19)

  1. On healing the man with the “withered hand, ” it is recorded that Jesus “looked around at them in anger” because he was disturbed at their (the Pharisees’) stubborn hearts. (Mark 3:5, NIV)

  2. Though not explicitly stated, anger is implied in the attitude and actions of our Lord as He drove the profiteers from God’s House. (Mark 11:15, 17)

  3. Anger is somehow involved in our attitudes and treatment of sin. “Be ye angry, and sin not.” (Ephesians 4:26, KJV)

It Is Scriptural To Control Anger: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Prov. 29:11, NIV). On attempting to control our anger, we must realize that each person has the right to his own opinions, and his life should be characterized by dignity and respect. At the same time, and in order to keep things in proper perspective, let us not forget that if Jesus had demanded His “rights,” He wouldn’t have gone to the Cross. There is a fine line of distinction here.

The thing to remember is that the Christian must be careful of his responses, remembering that our position may be right but our attitudes wrong. Bill Graham writes: “The Bible does not forbid displeasure, but it sets up two controls. The first is to keep anger clear of bitterness, spite or hatred. The second is to check daily on whether we have handled malevolent feelings. There is an old Latin proverb, “He who goes angry to bed has the devil for a bedfellow.” Of course, there are many irritations in life. They become prime opportunities for Satan to lead us into evil passion.”
Anger Is Excessive or Uncontrolled If:

  1. It results in out bursts of temper and/or bad language.

  2. It results in bitterness, resentment, and hostility (the urge to “get even”).

  3. It is spiritually debilitating, causing inner turmoil, unsettles one’s tranquillity and sense of well-being. Do I have the feeling that my attitude is displeasing to God or that I am “giving place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27, KJV)?

  4. It results in harm to other people.

Does it negatively affect my testimony as others observe my bad responses? Are they victims of those responses?

How Can We Learn to Control Excessive Anger?

  1. Try not to interpret everything as a personal offense, oversight, hurt, etc. At the same time, attempt to pinpoint the things that cause you to become excessively angry.

  2. Make your attitudes and responses a matter for serious prayer. We ought also to take the irritating behavior of others to the Lord, realizing that God uses people and circumstance to refine our character. One may have many rough edges that need to be filed down!

  3. Cultivate the practice of confessing excessive anger as sin. The importance of “immediacy” in this matter of seeking forgiveness is to be interpreted in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Do not let the sun down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26, NIV). Learn to balance the books at least by the end of the day.

  4. Realize that the Christian must learn to cope with two natures, each striving for supremacy.

We must learn to practice the “put-off,” “put-on” principle of Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV):

  1. “Put-off” the old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (verse 22).

  2. “Put-on” the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Verse 24).

  3. The effect of practicing the “put-off,” “put-on” principle is to “be made new in the attitude of your minds” (verse 23).

This is the way to validate 2 Corinthians 5:17.

  1. Strive to focus your anger away from yourself to the problems that are causing it.

  2. Surrender each day to the Holy Spirit. “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16, NIV)

  3. Let the Word of God permeate your life as you read, study, and memorize it. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom . . . ” (Colossians 3:16, NIV)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

KILLING ME SOFTLY

June 7, 2018

  “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2).

  It takes more to break inertia than to ease momentum. Misdirected zeal is more easily corrected than inert spiritual sleep.

  It is possible, and very humiliating, to be awakened to the fact, though we have had a measure of zeal for the Lord, that we have barely known the things we should have known, nor the behavior that is becoming to us in this wonderful day of grace.

  But it is the love of the Lord Jesus that would lead us on, through the judgment of ourselves and ways, into deeper communion with Himself to be better representatives of Him here in whose likeness we shall soon appear.

  The snare with zealous and often legalistic, but unprepared and unbroken hearts, is to do the right thing in the wrong way. It is not enough to know the right thing, but I must know the right way of doing it. Not by power, nor by might, but by His Holy Spirit. Which reminds me one of the best books you can read on the Holy Spirit, indeed the only book you will ever have to buy on the subject is by Dr. John Walvoord.

  Denial of the old man is where he is most felt, not where he is least felt; and all the light of Scripture cannot promote growth without self-denial. Here is where most fail, and in this day there is a great deal more zeal to acquire knowledge and intelligence in the wonders of revelation, than to deny the man that has no sympathy with it, nor part in it, but condemnation.

  “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ronnie Smith, at 63 years of age all the life of nothing but having a party has caught up, the doctor gives him days.

Pray for Sherry M, 30 years ago she was in the choir, taught a children’s bible study and now is absent from the church and living in deep moral depravity. The good news is she still gets convicted enough to see if I’ve given up on her. We go to lunch, we pray she cries, she straightens out for a short time and then she wanders off. I told her today the time between us meeting is growing farther apart, enough that I wonder if there will be another time.

Heavenly thinking

April 27, 2018

In the past two years, as I’ve watched people I love die, I’ve thought a lot about that mysterious, distant place called heaven. Within the blessed fellowship of my spiritual community, we’ve buried parents, siblings, friends. We’ve walked through the grass of cemeteries, sat in quiet funeral rooms and breathed the scent of flowers and the smell only a funeral home can produce wafting off the wood-grained lids of coffins. We have stood tearful on this side of heaven, while those we love have stepped onto the other side into glory we can only try to imagine.

Sorrow and pain have pointed our hearts toward heaven.

For us post-modernists, it usually takes such an experience with intense sadness and death to make us think about life beyond the here and now. For most of us, only great losses turn our thoughts away from our obsession with making for ourselves a heaven here on earth; only deep piercing grief causes us to contemplate the end of our days.

It hasn’t always been so.

In early Christian thinking, meditating on the hereafter was a common practice. It was considered a valuable, worthwhile exercise to not only examine life but also to contemplate death.

Richard Foster wrote, “The notion of reflecting on our own demise is actually an ancient spiritual discipline.”

You don’t have to look very far into classic Christian writings to discover how true that is.

Blaise Pascal was a brilliant seventeenth-century mathematician. He often was ridiculed by his intellectual peers for shifting his genius from mathematics to theology and apologetics. But nothing mattered more to Pascal than pursuing God, getting to know Him, and experiencing an ever-deepening intimacy with Christ.

His life was short—he lived only thirty-eight years, but he was a man consumed with love for God. Listen in as he prays, “…Grant then that I may so anticipate my death that I may find mercy hereafter in your sight.”

Teresa of Avila lived a century before Pascal, and her writings still vibrate with her longing for heaven. “O my delight, Lord of all created things and my God! How long must I wait to see you?”

Madame Guyon, writing to a dying friend, said, “I feel my loss, but I am very happy for you. I could envy you. Death helps to draw away the veil that hides infinite wonders.”

John Donne wrote that it is our job to make a home in this world while remembering that home is not here.

This is a challenge to us modern Christians, isn’t it? We aren’t in the habit of “anticipating” our death. We believe in heaven; we just don’t give it much thought.

How much time during the day do you actually contemplate heaven, your salvation, your Lord and Savior, your walk with Christ. Unless you’re a seminary student or pastor or have learned the discipline of daily devotions; it is to long a pause in between times.

You’ve heard the quote; “18 inches between your heart and brain, the longest journey ever.”

How far is it then to heavenly thoughts?

Make the journey more often.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Revival

March 5, 2018

THE CANDLE AND THE BIRD (an essay by F. W. Boreham)

It’s not often that I quote someone to this extent, but to try and re-write this would be a crime, so in its entirety from his book “The Golden Isles”

After reading this, you hopefully will feel inspired and encouraged about the spiritual condition of your nation.

To all peoples there come, sooner or later, periods in which the maintenance of a Christian life and an evangelistic testimony becomes so extremely difficult as to seem almost impossible. This spiritual sterility may be precipitated by any one of an innumerable array of causes—the horrors of war, with all their attendant hatreds and excitements; a wave of materialism, frivolity, or sensuality; the concentration of the public mind on subsidiary issues; or some other development that tends to hurl serious thought into obscurity.

But, whatever the cause, such distressing conditions do emerge; and the thing to be remembered at those times is that this unhappy state of affairs represents, not the snuffing out of a candle, but the frightening away of a bird. The distinction is vital. If you extinguish a light, the act is final: you plunge the room into darkness without creating any illumination elsewhere. The flame does not flash into being in some other part of the house. But if you startle a bird, the gentle creature flies away and sings its lovely song upon some other bough.

Several illustrations of this essential principle confront us in the annals of the early Church. A time came when, at Antioch, the Jews refused Paul and Barnabas a hearing. `Very well’, exclaimed the Apostles, `it was necessary that the Word of God should first have been preached to you; but, seeing ye put it from you, lo, we turn to the Gentiles!’ The light was not snuffed out. The bird flew to another bough, that was all!

A little later, the two Apostles journeyed through Asia, intending to preach the word in every city. But, to their dismay, every door was closed against them. They were amazed and bewildered. But when they reached the end of the long road and saw nothing but the sea in front of them, a vision was vouchsafed to Paul. He saw a man of Macedonia bidding him cross the intervening waters and invade Europe!

Think what these two transitions have meant to history—the evangelization of the Gentiles and the conquest of Europe! And when you have grasped their momentous significance, you will have realized the importance of the principle that we have set ourselves to establish. When the Church is overwhelmed by an apparently crushing reverse, it is never the snuffing out of a candle: it is always the frightening away of a bird.

I

That principle is inherent in the eternal scheme of things. On the ancient monuments of Egypt there are crude drawings representing the soul, in the form of a bird, leaving the body of the monarch or hero to whom the memorial has been raised. In the form of a bird, mark you! Even the ancients felt that death is not the snuffing out of a candle; it is the escape of a bird. There is a divine element in humankind—an element which no tomb can imprison. And, similarly, there is a divine element in the Church-an element that no persecuting fires can devour and that no convulsion can destroy.

It was a dark day for the faith when, in the seventh century, the Saracens swept through the world, obliterating the Cross, overthrowing the Churches, and converting into Mohammedan mosques the most imposing Christian and Jewish structures. It certainly looked as if a glorious light had been put out. Yet, at the very moment at which all this was taking place in the old world, something of infinite significance was happening on an obscure group of mist-enshrouded islands in the northern seas.

Paulinus and the other missionaries whom Augustine had led into England caught the ear of the court and of the people; the preparatory work of St. Columba in Scotland and of St. Patrick in Ireland began to bear fruit; and thus, whilst Christianity was suffering eclipse among the lands of Yesterday, it was laying a powerful and formative hand upon the lands of To-morrow.

Similarly, on the very day on which the French mob tore the Cross from Notre Dame in Paris and angrily abjured the Christian faith, William Carey landed in India and claimed a new continent for the Saviour whom France was renouncing. Both events took place on November 11, 1793. A pessimist in France would have regarded the act of the populace as the extinction of a great light: anybody who reviews the incident in the calm perspective of history can see that it was merely the frightening away of a bird.

II

I cherish the hope that, one of these days, a writer learned in such lore, and with a flair for such a task, will trace the influence of this principle upon the history of revivals. Few studies are more stimulating than the study of those tremendous movements that have swept like a divine fire across the various nations. They stir the blood and quicken to new life the most sluggish and apathetic soul. But the striking thing about these historic revivals is that they are so transient, so evanescent, so temporary. They never endure. And the fact that, although so obviously divine, they never endure, sufficiently proves that they were never meant to endure. Martin Luther used to say that a religious revival always exhausts itself in thirty years. Isaac Taylor set a more liberal limit: he fixed fifty years as the maximum period: no revival, he declared, ever lasted longer than that. But the question that immediately concerns us is not the question as to how long a revival can last, but as to what happens when it fades out. And the answer to that question is that it never fades out. If it seems to vanish at one place, it is only that it may appear at another. For the end of a revival is invariably the beginning of a revival. Its termination is never the snuffing out of a candle: it is always the frightening away of a bird.

Is there, in our own annals, or in the annals of any other country, the record of a revival comparable with the Puritan revival of the seventeenth century? Beyond the shadow of a doubt, it was a period of divine illumination. Like the sunrise playing simultaneously upon many snow-capped peaks, the light was caught and reflected by many totally diverse but really majestic personalities. John Hampden, George Fox, and Samuel Rutherford, for example, have little or no connection with each other, yet each represents a focal point in this celestial movement. As we project our minds into that memorable time, the stately and satisfying figures, the sturdy and eloquent faces of Oliver Cromwell, John Milton, and John Bunyan, moving amidst a cloud of kindred spirits, leap at once to our minds. We instinctively feel that Puritanism was no frolic of circumstance, no freak of history. The movement that has left as its indestructible monuments such works as Paradise Lost and The Pilgrim’s Progress can only be regarded as a heavenly revelation. The Puritans, as Macaulay says, were `men who, instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, aspired to gaze full on His intolerable brightness and to commune with Him face to face’. The entire country was made to feel that God was palpitatingly near: the hush of the eternal brooded over city and hamlet. With the light of heaven on their faces and the fear of God in their hearts, the Puritans overhauled and rearranged everything. They put the king in his right place, and the Parliament in its right place, and the Bible in its right place, and the Church in its right place; and they did all this by putting God in His right place; they enthroned Him as Head over all. It was a time in which earth seemed crammed with heaven, and the songs of the angels filled with divine melody the English sky.

It was very wonderful; but it did not last. The spirit of Puritanism decayed with the accession of Puritanism to political authority. As soon as it became fashionable to dress as the Puritans dressed, to talk as the Puritans talked, and to do as the Puritans did, all people became Puritans. They might have felt no regenerating power in their hearts, but they could at least wear drab clothing, allow their hair to fall about their shoulders, interlard their conversations with pious ejaculations and give to their children biblical names. And then, the movement having become rotten within, it quickly received its deathblow from without. Two years after the death of Cromwell, the Stuarts were restored to power. A swing of the pendulum immediately followed. The nation experienced one of those violent reactions that so frequently mark the pages of history. Paradise was lost.

III

No revival, according to Isaac Taylor, can live for half a century. Fifty years after Puritanism had achieved its crowning triumphs, England was knee-deep in mire. The glory had departed, and its departure had broken Milton’s heart. Joseph Addison, who cherished the spirit and ideals of the Puritans in an age that had renounced and repudiated Puritanism deplored the fact that English standards and English manners had fallen to their lowest ebb. Politics had degenerated into an undignified squabble; society was as corrupt as it could very well be; music, art and literature were all degraded; the sports and pastimes of life were universally squalid and usually obscene; religion itself had become formal, sanctimonious and largely hypocritical. `Even the saint’, says Addison, `was of a sorrowful countenance and generally eaten up with spleen and melancholy.’ And, worst of all, the number of people who saw anything to be deplored in all this was so small as to be almost negligible.

Now the question is, did this degeneracy represent the snuffing out of a candle or the frightening away of a bird? Let us attempt to survey a wider horizon in the hope of sighting the tree to which the bird has flitted! And what is this?

On the morning of August 13, 1727—eight years after Addison’s early death—a number of young people were gathered for prayer at Herrnhut in Germany. Count Zinzendorf, the leader of the little band, was only twenty-seven, and it is doubtful if any of the others were very much older. What happened they could never precisely define. All that they could say was that a radiant sense of the nearness of Christ suddenly visited them, and, when their little gathering broke up at noon, they `scarcely knew whether they still belonged to the earth or had actually gone to heaven’. In telling the story of their lustrous experience to their friends, the wondering hearers quickly contracted the sacred contagion.

Thus was born the Moravian movement—one of the most intensely spiritual and most passionately missionary organizations of all time. Fifty years before William Carey had inaugurated the era of organized missions to the heathen, these inspired Moravians had undertaken the evangelization of the world. Within five years of that memorable meeting at Herrnhut, they had sent missionaries to the Negro of the West Indies and to the Eskimo in the frozen North, quickly following these experimental ventures by despatching evangelists, not only to every country in Europe, but to the four quarters of the globe. See, sings William Cowper,

See Germany send forth

Her sons to preach Christ in the farthest North;

Fired with a zeal peculiar, they defy

The rage and rigour of a Polar sky,

And plant successfully sweet Sharon’s rose

On icy plains and in eternal snows.

When, later in the century, William Carey endeavoured to persuade the English Baptists to initiate a missionary crusade, he held in his hand the inspiring records of the Moravians. Throwing the pamphlet on the table, he exclaimed: `See what these Moravians have done! Cannot we follow their example and in obedience to our heavenly Master go out into all the world and preach the gospel?’

Now the striking thing is that this impressive and fruitful outbreak in Germany exactly synchronized with the evaporation of the Puritan revival in England. It was not that a light had been extinguished: it was that a bird had been frightened away.

IV

But, like the English movement, the German movement also spent itself. That never-to-be-forgotten meeting at Herrnhut was held in 1727. Whilst those young people were passing through that Pentecostal experience, Voltaire was bending over the finished manuscript of his first book. The writings of Voltaire quickly captivated the mind of a young German prince who was destined to be known to history as Frederick the Great. Frederick at once entered upon an admiring correspondence with the brilliant Frenchman, eventually inviting him to share the splendours of his palace at Berlin. And, in the hurricane of materialism and militarism that swept over Germany under that regime, the Moravian movement shared the melancholy fate that had befallen Puritanism in England.

But had the light been extinguished? Was it that a candle had been put out or that a bird had been frightened popular atmosphere for evangelism. This was his supreme triumph. In his famous Memoirs, Greville graphically describes Mr. Spurgeon—whose physique struck him as singularly reminiscent of Macaulay’s—preaching, at an ordinary service, to nine thousand people. It impressed him, as it impressed all thoughtful observers, as an arresting and epoch-making development. It forced the evangelical pulpit into the glare of public attention. The world was compelled to take notice. It made thinkable and possible the work of all those ministers and evangelists who have since captured the attention of the populace. And it is only when we attempt to estimate the spiritual, ethical, and civil value of the impact of Mr. Spurgeon’s flaming intensity upon each individual unit in the surging crowds that flocked every Sunday with wistful hearts to hear him that we realize how generously and how vitally he contributed to the new order that sprang into being in his time.

And so we bring our study down to within living memory. Let no person become unduly depressed because, here or there, the good work seems to flag. If, with us, the sun seems to be setting, you may depend upon it that other people, far away, are gratefully greeting the dawn. In a public reading-room, I one day picked up a London journal in which I read a series of somewhat dismal letters concerning `The Dearth of Conversions’. On the very same table I found a couple of magazines. One contained an article by Dr. A. W. Hitchcock, telling of the sensational progress of the work of God in Korea, whilst the other told of a single church on the Congo that is welcoming to its membership more than five hundred converts a year. And thus—

… while the tired waves, vainly breaking,

Seem here no painful inch to gain,

Far off, through creeks and inlets making,

Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,

When daylight comes, comes in the light,

In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,

But westward, look, the land is bright!

So true is it that a period of spiritual sterility invariably represents, not the extinguishing of a candle, but the frightening away of a bird. I have here attempted but a few fugitive illustrations. It will be the duty of that happy historian who undertakes to expound the principle more exhaustively to show that there have been times when the holy flame has visited other lands than those which I have mentioned, flitting from Holland to Switzerland, and from hemisphere to hemisphere. Often it has confined itself to no national frontiers, but has swept across an area that has included many peoples. But the principle is the same. When we have occasion to lament the spiritual poverty immediately around us, we may be sure that the bird that has forsaken us is singing his lovely song, to somebody else’s rapture, on a distant bough. And so it shall continue until that day dawns for which the Church has ever prayed, when the Holy Dove shall feel equally at home on every shore and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

F W Boreham, ‘The Candle and the Bird’, Boulevards of Paradise (London: The Epworth Press, 1944), 103-113.

What a great truth, do not despair if your home, your state, your nation is in a spiritual decline, for that Holy Dove is a lit somewhere else.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Tim G, he pastors a small church in a small town and his stance on holy living is causing the whole town to turn against him. The church has cut his already small salary, they’ve killed one of his dogs. A wave of discouragement hit him this week and he almost quit. Several ‘old timers’ met with him today and prayed for a breakthrough. Keep him and his wife and two kids in prayer.

Several of us drove down with him and the wives refilled his pantry and we fixed things around the house and we all chipped in some money to help him through the month. Pray this candle burns bright.

 

God created the inside you

January 13, 2018

Moses was the most famously reluctant public speaker in history. When God called him to be the Israelites’ spokesman before Pharaoh, Moses protested that he wasn’t a good fit for the job because he had “never been eloquent” and was “slow of speech and tongue” (Ex 4:10).

 In Exodus 6:12 we find him once again making excuses for his lack of ability: “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” The more literal translation is, “My lips are uncircumcised.” Moses was not saying he had a speech impediment (“faltering lips”), but rather that he was “not ready for public speaking,” using the metaphorical language of circumcision. More precisely, he was claiming he didn’t have the temperament necessary to be the voice of the Israelites.

 Temperament is the combination of mental, physical and emotional traits that make up our natural predisposition. Like Moses, we all have natural abilities and inclinations that can affect how we respond to God’s calling. We might even, like Moses, use our temperament as an excuse to avoid following where God is leading.

 Because temperament can affect our obedience, both positively and negatively, it’s an area worth considering in more detail. Here are four key truths to keep in mind:

  1. Temperament is part of God’s design—For all of history, humans have attempted to understand and explain our natural dispositions. The Greco-Roman world identified four temperaments (sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic), thought to correspond with the four distinct bodily fluids (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood). Today, psychologists tend to rely on personality tests rather than body fluids when identifying temperaments.

 While some terms used to describe temperament (e.g., introversion and extroversion) can serve as helpful classifications  we don’t have to fully subscribe to any particular theory of temperament to recognize that temperaments and personality types are part of God’s design.

  1. Temperament is not a sin, though it can be affected by sin—As with everything else in creation, sin has tainted our dispositions and proclivities. But our unique temperament is amoral and not necessarily sinful. “Some people are ‘cold’ by temperament,” said C. S. Lewis, “that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is a sin; and it does not cut them out from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning charity.”

  1. Temperament is not who you are—“Your temperament reveals the values that you most naturally hold. “They were given to you (like your body, talents, and intelligence were given to you) to be stewarded for a purpose.”

  1. When, like Moses, we define ourselves by our temperament, we can forget they were given by God to be stewarded for his purposes. This can lead, to pride or insecurity: “Both pride and insecurity begin to use God’s gift as a reason why we are the exception to God’s rules.”

  1. Temperament must be tempered by obedience—Our natural dispositions might make some spiritual disciplines easier and others more difficult. For example, the person who is “cold by temperament” might find it difficult to generate the emotions of charity. But that doesn’t negate the requirement to love our neighbor. It also doesn’t require that we manufacture emotions we don’t feel. “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did,” adds Lewis. “As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

  Moses often attempted to convince his Creator he didn’t have the temperament necessary to carry out the tasks required of him. But despite his frequent grumbling and protestations, Moses obeyed God. In this he can serve as a model for how we, too, can set aside our natural inclinations when they conflict with the requirements of obedience.

Remember that God created you and your temperament.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

RESOLVE

January 11, 2018

RESOLVE

R=reach the lost

E=edify the saints

S=study the word

O=obey His commandments

L=live for eternity

V=visualize the future

E=expect great things

You may have seen this acrostic before, but this is the first time for me (I think).

There is a basic and yet often overlooked principle: a leader cannot deal with problems that he is not aware of. Sometimes he cannot deal with problems even when he is aware of them, of course. But without exception, it is impossible to deal with problems when you do not know about them.

To resolve conflicts or problems biblically, go directly to the person responsible and talk about the problem. If someone comes to you with a complaint, ask if he has talked to one of the pastors or elders. If not, direct him to do so before he talks to anyone else. Many misunderstandings can be resolved at this level without causing larger problems in the church.

It’s easy to get angry but then to cool off and do nothing. After all, it is difficult and uncomfortable to confront those who are causing a problem. It is especially difficult to confront those who happen to be rich and powerful.

I had a young pastor travel all the way across the U.S. to ask me how to solve a problem. He was pastoring a very rich congregation, every one was at least a millionaire. Everytime there was a problem they tried money first. When he complained they bought him a Cadillac. They wanted to have coffee during the service, they bought fine china and some waiters to serve. Then they bought him a bigger house. My advice to him was to resign. He had already quit leading.

It doesn’t matter what job you’re in, but if you are the leader you’re going to get shot, wounded and hurt, attacked and smeared. How you respond is the mark of what kind of leader you are going to be.

Many Christian leaders fall into the trap of thinking that their position gives them certain rights and power. We should follow the example of the Lord Jesus, who laid aside His rights to take on the form of a servant and be obedient even to death on a cross. Pastors can never (or should never) be dictators. But church is also not a democracy. A two headed goat is never going to go anywhere.

Leaders need to hold people accountable to their promises before God and others. If there has been marital unfaithfulness or financial misdeeds, the guilty party needs to reestablish trust. The only way to do that is through very close accountability.

Thus to resolve conflicts biblically, people must air complaints to the proper authorities. Leaders must deal with those complaints in a biblical manner.

Sadly, when leaders confront people with wrongdoing, all too often the people either react with anger and defensiveness, or they just move on to another church or drop out of church altogether without dealing with their sin.

 From 40 years as a pastor, I can say that to see people respond readily to correction is rare! But it shouldn’t be. Hebrews 13:17 gives an exhortation that sounds strange in our day when people have no concept of being under spiritual authority: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

What a foreign concept that is today.

Someone has said that in a church quarrel, Satan remains neutral and supplies ammunition to both sides. That may not always be true, but he does like to divide God’s people by getting them to wrong one another and then not to deal biblically with problems. We must be committed to resolve conflicts God’s way. Then His work will go forward.

Pray for those in authority over you, (first admit there are people in authority over you.) and accountability breeds responsibility.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

walk the walk men

January 6, 2018

A MAN OF GOD IS KNOWN BY WHAT HE FOLLOWS AFTER

While the man of God is continually running from evil, he must also be running toward good. There is a sense in which, as long as we are in this body, we can never stop running. If we stop running from what is evil, it will catch us. If we stop pursuing what is righteous, it will elude us. We will never be at the point where we have finally outdistanced what is wrong, nor will we ever have fully captured what is fight. Our whole life consists of flight and pursuit.

What specifically must a man of God pursue? In 1 Timothy 6:11 Paul lists six qualities that distinguish a man of God: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. The first two are general virtues, one having to do with external behavior, the other with internal attitude and motivation.

Righteousness simply means doing right, both before God and before man. This is not the imputed righteousness we have in Christ through faith, but the practical righteousness of living according to the standards of God. When a man who claims to preach God’s word leads an ungodly, lascivious, ego-centered, materialistic life—a life that would make a black mark on a piece of coal—that man is not a man of God. A man of God pursues what is fight.

Godliness, on the other hand, refers to the spirit of holiness, of reverence and piety in the heart. This spirit is the source of fight behavior. It is living one’s life in the conscious presence of the holiness of God. This consciousness comes from devotion to the Word of God, prayer, self-denial, discipline, accountability, worship, communion, and all the other means God provides for bringing one’s heart captive to Christ. A man of God must not be so concerned for the welfare of his flock that he neglects his on spiritual health. If he falls short of God’s standard of holiness, his ministry cannot be effective. A man of God must tend his own garden and bring forth the fruit of godliness.

From these two general virtues flow the more specific ones named. The two internal virtues Paul mentions are faith and love. Faith means confident trust in God for everything, complete loyalty to Him, unwavering confidence in His power, purpose and provision. The man of God lives by trusting the sovereign God to keep His word and meet His servant’s needs. He lives in a kind of relaxed desperation: desperate because of the tremendous ramifications of the ministry, but relaxed because of his confidence in the sovereignty of God. He lives in faith.

Coupled with faith is love: agape love, beautiful, volitional, unrestricted and unrestrained. It is a love that includes everyone, God and men, Christians and non-Christians. The man of God understands the great commandment: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37–39). His love for God is so deep that it overflows into love for God’s children. He loves them enough that, when necessary, he is willing to confront them with the truth.

The other virtues named may be considered outward virtues: patience and gentleness. Patience does not mean a passive resignation, but a victorious, triumphant endurance, an unswerving loyalty to the Lord in the midst of trials. This is the endurance of the martyr who will give his life for the cause, of the shepherd who will lay down his life, if need be, for his flock, just as his Master did. The man of God endures the inevitable and constant trials of ministry, not just with resignation, but with victorious joy.

Finally, the man of God must pursue gentleness, or meekness. This is the selfless attitude of one who, though consumed with a great cause, recognizes that he makes no contribution to its success. The man of God must be humble.

Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness: if a man does not pursue these virtues, but pursues the things of the world, he cannot be a man of God.

The carnal life or the walk in the spirit life. A life long battle, although age seems to help, and drop in testosterone helps as well.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

OCCUPY

December 30, 2017

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

“OCCUPY”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Chris R, gallbladder surgery tomorrow.

Ronnie V, she celebrates 44 years sobriety today.

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