MARRIAGE 101

December 11, 2017

Marriage 101

We learn from the Bible that the Lord Jesus honored the marriage ceremony with His presence working there the beginning of His miracles. These miracles indicate that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the Sovereign and the Creator of the universe, and the wedding ceremony was the first used to demonstrate this glorious fact.

His purpose on earth was to “seek and to save that which was lost,” As the scriptures declare, “God commended His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The one who sanctifies the marriage union is the Savior of the universe. And the scripture says, “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” And therefore His invitation to all who witness the wedding ceremony is to “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”, “And Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”

The Bible, which is the Word of God declares marriage to be honorable. It was ordained of God in the time of man’s innocency, before he had sinned against the Lord. Since marriage has always been a divine institution, it is to be entered into soberly and discreetly, as in His sight.

God Himself united the first members of human family, which fact alone should abolish all light and frivolous views of marriage. The bridegroom and bride are partners in life, each forsaking mother and father to cleave unto the other. They share a common name, a united household, a common experience, and a love which blesses and transcends all the cares and trials of life. The mathematics of love–Add and multiply joys while subtracting and dividing the sorrows.

Hopefully you recognize that as wedding vows, they have changed quite a bit since I got married 40+ years ago. Having done hundreds of weddings in hundreds of different settings one thing bothers me. Taking the ceremony seriously.

Number one, I won’t marry anyone that won’t have pre-marital counseling.

Number two, if they are sexually active before they wedding ceremony that have to stop having sex until after the ceremony (yes I’m serious).

Number three, are they equally yoked (that’s a whole different devotion idea I will have to go into.)

Number four, can I convince them that this is for life, “till death do we part”.

Number five, there ain’t no thing as a two headed rooster, someone has to be the head.  (another separate devotion).

Number six, it’s in the vow, “you cleave” stick to each other. Your parents come in second place to your marriage.

Get married and then move 1500 miles away from your family. If you’re daddy’s little girl, stop. Mister, grow up be a godly man.

Well this could go on forever, literally. Honor your marriage vows. Don’t get married just because the invitations went out. Go into it as a forever thing.

Good marriages don’t just happen, they take hard work and lots of maintenance.

Got questions, prayer requests? Send them to scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Yes, You Can

September 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Begin with a word of encouragement.

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

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

  1. Ask how you can help the person.

  1. Be confidential.

  1. Pray for the person.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

WHAT IF I CAN’T CONTROL MY CELIBACY?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. FOCUS ON PERSONAL GROWTH IN GODLINESS.

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

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

  1. GUARD YOUR MORAL PURITY.

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

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

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

  1. STUDY AND DEVELOP GODLY CHARACTER QUALITIES.

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

  1. BE WISE, BUT NOT SUPER-SPIRITUAL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

He Restores my soul

March 1, 2017

THE PATH OF RESTORATION REQUIRES REPENTANCE.

Remembrance of God’s Word.

Luke 22:61King James Version (KJV)

61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord….

“Peter remembered the word of the Lord” (Luke 22:61). All repentance begins when we remember the word of the Lord. What does the Lord say about what I have done? That is the issue. Men may minimize my sin: “Don’t worry about it! Everyone slips up occasionally. Don’t be too hard on yourself.” But God’s Word is the final authority. It tells me that I have sinned.

  • Conviction of our sin.

The Lord’s look penetrated down to Peter’s conscience. Jesus didn’t have to say anything. Peter was deeply convicted in his heart. He didn’t try to paper over it or make excuses or rationalize it away. Conviction acknowledges that God is right and I’m wrong.

Godly sorrow over sin.

This will vary with the seriousness of the sin and the personality of the sinner, but when our consciences realize that we have sinned against a Savior who loved us enough to die for us, we will mourn over our sin. We won’t be flippant or shrug it off.

  • Appropriation of Christ’s sacrifice for our sin.

Jesus had already begun to suffer for Peter’s sins as He endured abuse at the hands of sinners. That sacrifice would be completed on the cross, where Jesus cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). We cannot atone for our sins by our sorrow or penance. Christ fully paid the penalty that we owe. We can only appropriate Christ’s sacrifice to cover our sins.

  • Appreciation of God’s abundant grace.

Christ’s look not only conveyed the pain He felt at Peter’s failure. It also communicated His great love and grace. Peter remembered the word of the Lord, which included the fact that he would be restored because of Jesus’ prayers for him (22:32). What amazing grace, that Christ chose Peter and us, knowing full well how we would fail Him! His grace saved us and it keeps us unto the day when we shall be with Him forever. If you say, “I’ve sinned too badly; I just can’t accept God’s forgiveness and grace,” you’re not trusting in Him alone. You’re proudly trusting in your own method of atonement. Christians believe in and thank God for His grace as the only basis for forgiveness. If you need to be restored, you must repent of your sin and trust again in God’s grace and mercy.

  1. THE PATH OF RESTORATION RESULTS IN RENEWED SERVICE.

As you know, the Lord personally restored Peter and did not kick him off the apostolic team. When the Day of Pentecost came, it was Peter who stood in Jerusalem, before some of the same people who had heard him deny Christ, and boldly proclaimed Him as Savior and Lord, risen from the dead. If Peter had clung to his pride, he would have said, “I’m never going to show my face in Jerusalem again. Someone else can preach, but I’m going back to fishing.” But thankfully, Peter recovered from the fear of what people thought and was restored to care about what pleases Christ. So he preached and God was pleased to save 3,000 souls.

The hymn writer Robert Robinson, was a wild young man who lived a debauched life as a teenager. At age 17, he went with some friends to scoff at the famous evangelist, George Whitefield. But Robinson was so impressed by Whitefield’s preaching that he got saved. At 23 he wrote the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” For many years he served as a Baptist pastor, but later in life he got involved with the doctrines of Unitarianism and strayed from the Lord.

One day he was riding in a stagecoach when he struck up a conversation with a woman. When she realized that he was well informed on spiritual matters, she asked him what he thought of a hymn she had just been reading. To his astonishment, he found that it was the hymn, “Come Thou Fount,” which he had written as a young man. He burst into tears and told her, “I’m the poor, unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago. I would give anything to have back the joy I knew then.” The woman assured him that the “streams of mercy” referred to in the song still flowed. Robinson was deeply touched, turned his wandering heart again to the Lord, and experienced His grace and forgiveness.

That same grace is available to all who have failed the Lord. If you will turn back to Him, He will abundantly pardon and restore you to fellowship with Him and to service in His cause. You may be a great sinner, but Jesus is a greater Savior!

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

wipe out

January 28, 2017

Image result for picture of a surfboard wipeout

  “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

  The Lord Jesus was in our place of death and judgment; we are in His place of life and glory.

  Romans Seven describes the experience of the believer who has been shown by the law principle the terrible consequences of his position in Adam. Romans Eight describes the experience of the believer who knows what it is to be “in Christ,” and who is being made free experientially from “the law of sin and death” by “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

  “It is of immense importance for every Christian to know that ‘our old man’ has been fully judged and ended before God. Not changed or forgiven but utterly condemned in the death of the Lord Jesus. ‘God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh’ (Rom. 8:3). Where sin brought us, love brought the Lord Jesus—even to death; and His death is the end before God of all that we were as children of Adam—men in the flesh.

On the other hand, we have life in One who is risen from the dead. We did belong to the race of which Adam was head; but the death of Christ is, in God’s reckoning, the termination of our history in Adam. A new Head has been provided for us, and we have been transferred by divine grace from Adam to Christ.

  “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves; but unto Him” (2 Cor. 5:15).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

January 15, 2017

The Universal Rightness of a Wife’s Submission to Her Husband

 

When Peter says that unbelieving husbands may be “won over” for Christ “by the behavior of their wives” when they are submissive to their husbands, there is a significant implication for the question of whether such submission is appropriate for all cultures and all times. The attractiveness of a wife’s submissive behavior even to an unbelieving husband suggests that God has inscribed on the hearts of all mankind the rightness and beauty of role distinctions in marriage (including male leadership or headship in the family and female acceptance of and responsiveness to that leadership).

Someone might object that female submissiveness is attractive to the unbelieving husband only because he is selfishly interested in gaining power for himself or because it fits his culture’s current (and presumably wrong) perception of appropriate male-female relationships, and in either case—this position would argue—such role distinctions are still wrong or still incongruent with God’s ideal plan for marriage. A similar objection would be made by those who say that this command was only a missionary strategy for that culture, to make the gospel inoffensive to non-Christians, but that it is not universally binding today. In fact, those who make this objection would often say it would be wrong today to require all Christian wives to be subject to their husbands—it would fall short of God’s ideal for marriage.

 

However, this position is unpersuasive because Peter would not encourage a morally objectionable behavior pattern (whether in the culture or in the husband himself) to continue in order to bring someone to faith. It is pure behavior, not behavior that falls short of God’s ideal, that attracts unbelievers to Christ (1 Peter 3:2). And this pure behavior (verse 2), Peter says, especially involves wives being subject to their own husbands. The unbelieving husband sees this behavior and deep within perceives the beauty of it. Within his heart there is a witness that this is right, this is how God intended men and women to relate as husband and wife. He concludes, therefore, that the gospel that his wife believes must be true as well. Perhaps, indeed, he sees his wife’s submission to him in contrast with his own refusal to submit to God, who is infinitely more worthy of his submission, and is convicted of his own sinfulness by it.

Another way that people sometimes have tried to avoid the permanence of these commands is to look at the commands about hair and jewelry and say that those are no longer binding today. This view says that Peter is forbidding the wearing of gold or braiding of hair when he writes, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes” (verse 3). This view reasons: (a) these commands are for that culture only, and cannot apply today; (b) therefore the other command in this paragraph, that a wife should be subject to her husband, does not apply today either.

 

But this view is certainly incorrect, because it misunderstands Peter. In this section Peter emphasizes not external, visible things that perish but unseen spiritual realities that are eternal, just as he has done frequently in the letter to this point (see 1 Peter 1:1 [“strangers”], 4, 7-9, 18-19, 23-25; 2:2, 5, 9, 11). “Let not yours be the outward adorning” (RSV) gives the sense of the phrase quite well and prepares the reader for the contrast with “inward adorning” (RSV) in verse 4. “Adorning” refers to what one uses to make oneself beautiful to others. The point is that Christian wives should depend for their own attractiveness not on outward things like braiding their hair, decorations of gold, and wearing fine clothing, but on inward qualities of life, especially a gentle and quiet spirit (verse 4). Furthermore, although the RSV and NIV speak of “fine clothing,” the Greek text does not include an adjective modifying himation, “clothing,” and the text literally says, “Let not your adorning be the outward adorning of braiding of hair and wearing of gold or putting on of clothing.” It is incorrect, therefore, to say that this text prohibits women from braiding their hair or wearing gold jewelry, for by the same reasoning one would have to prohibit “putting on of clothing.” Peter’s point is not that any of these is forbidden, but that these should not be a woman’s “adorning,” her source of beauty.

 

In fact, we should rather note that Peter in this very text is opposing dominant ideas in that culture. When he rejects the use of hairstyle, jewelry, or clothing as a means of winning the unbelieving husband, Peter writes counterculturally. He commends not just any behavior or dress that would be approved by the culture, but a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (verse 4). Peter goes right to the heart of the Christian faith—hope in God (verse 5) and the gentle and quiet spirit that stems from faith and “is of great worth in God’s sight” (verse 4). Peter is functioning from the center of the Christian faith here; he is not merely adapting to culture.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Questions, comments, and prayer requests to the above email

 

NOT WHAT YOU THINK

January 14, 2017

 (1 Peter 3:1-7)

(1)Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, (2) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (3)Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. (4)Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (5)For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, (6)like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (7)Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. [1 Peter 3:1-7, NIV]

This is a magnificent text for understanding God’s plan for an ideal marriage. In a few verses Peter describes the complementary responsibilities of husbands and wives and guards against common abuses.

I. Directions to Wives

A. What Submission Does Not Mean

Because there is much misunderstanding today about what the Bible means when it says that wives are to “be submissive” to their husbands, this text is very helpful for correcting wrong understandings and practices. While Peter tells wives to “be submissive” to their husbands, the text also gives several indications of what such submission does not mean.

  • 1. Submission does not mean putting a husband in the place of Christ.

The whole context assumes that allegiance to Christ takes priority over all human allegiance. The larger section begins, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men” (1 Peter 2:13), and affirms that the Christian life above all means that we should look to Christ and follow in his steps (2:21).

  • 2. Submission does not mean giving up independent thought.

Peter speaks directly to wives, not to the husbands so that they can tell their wives what he says. Peter assumes that they will hear, ponder, understand, and respond to God’s Word themselves. Moreover, Peter knows that some wives have chosen Christ even though their husbands have not, and this was good for them to do. They have thought the matter through and departed from their husbands’ way of thinking on this issue of supreme importance in life.

  • 3. Submission does not mean a wife should give up efforts to influence and guide her husband.

The Christian wife should try to influence her husband to become a Christian. Peter helps her to do this; he does not tell her not to.

  • 4. Submission does not mean a wife should give in to every demand of her husband.

If he should say, “Stop being a Christian, be like me,” she will have to humbly say, “I cannot. My conscience must answer to a higher authority.” If he should tell her to steal, or lie, or do something else contrary to the clear moral teachings of Scripture, she must refuse, thereby following Peter’s command to maintain good conduct among the Gentiles (1 Peter 2:12). Moreover, the word hagnos, chaste (RSV, NASB; the NIV has “purity”) means pure, free from moral defilement, and serves as another reminder that the submission Peter commands must never go so far as to include obedience to demands to do something that is morally wrong.

This is consistent with other parts of Scripture where God’s people have disobeyed some human authority and have been approved by God for so doing. Consider, for example, the Hebrew midwives in Egypt (Exodus 1:17), Esther before King Xerxes (Esther 4:16), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:13-18), the prophet Daniel (Daniel 6:10-14), the apostles (Acts 4:18-20; 5:27-29), and Moses’ parents (Hebrews 11:23). The principle to be drawn from all these passages is to obey except when it would be sin to obey, which is consistent with Peter’s general statement that it is “for the Lord’s sake” (2:13) that all our submission to lesser authority is to be given.

  • 5. Submission is not based on lesser intelligence or competence.

In fact, where there is a Christian wife with a non-Christian husband, she is shown to have greater spiritual insight than he does—she has seen the truth of Christianity, and he has not.

  • 6. Submission does not mean being fearful or timid.

Peter tells wives to “not give way to fear” (verse 6). Thus the reference to the wife as the “weaker partner” (verse 7) cannot be due to any inherent lack of inner strength or courage in the face of danger or threat.

  • 7. Submission is not inconsistent with equality in Christ.

We must remember that submission in regard to authority is often consistent with equality in importance, dignity, and honor—Jesus was subject both to His parents and to God the Father, and Christians who are highly honored in God’s sight are still commanded to be subject to unbelieving government authorities and masters. Thus the command to wives to be subject to their husbands should never be taken to imply inferior personhood or spirituality, or lesser importance. Indeed, Peter affirms just the opposite: wives are “heirs with you of the gracious gift of life” (verse 7).

It is important to note the relationship between this passage and Galatians 3:28-29:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

This text is often played off against submission as if the “neither … male nor female” in Galatians 3:28 ruled out any commands for submission within marriage. But 1 Peter 3:1-7 shows that the apostolic pattern of thought in Scripture did not feel any tension between a call for wives to submit to their husbands (verse 1) and a clear declaration that husbands and wives are joint heirs of the grace of life (verse 7). This is Peter’s way of saying, “There is neither male nor female …” you are all one in Christ Jesus, and the context shows that it is not inconsistent with female submission and male headship in marriage. Submission in role and equality in dignity and importance stand side-by-side in apostolic thought. In fact, the parallel between Galatians 3:28-29 and 1 Peter 3:1-7 is even closer when we see the theme of being “Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29) compared to the theme of being daughters of Sarah in 1 Peter 3:6.

A wife’s submission to her husband therefore is more like the submission of Christ to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28), the submission of one to another who is equal in importance and essence.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

FIX OUR MISTAKES

January 11, 2017

How to Fix a Bad Decision

The first step is to answer the following question:

Was this bad decision a morally bad decision (right vs. wrong), or was it just a stupid bad decision? The way you deal with the bad decision will vary depending on your answer to that important question.

How to Fix a Morally-Bad Decision

1)   Confess it to God.

1 John 1:9

The first step to fixing a sinful mistake is to confess it directly to God. By “confess,” I mean that you should agee with God about how bad it was and ask Him to forgive you for what you did. Amazingly, once we confess our sins to God, He will cast them as far as the east is from the west, and He will remember them no more.

2)   Stop doing that bad thing.

Proverbs 28:13

It’s one thing to confess your sin, and it is another thing to forsake your sin. You must do everything you can to turn away from that sin. This begins with an utter commitment to do whatever it takes to change.

3)   Wrap your head around everything God has said about that issue in the Scriptures.

Joshua 1:8

It is absolutely essential that you learn everything you can about what God has to say about that sinful mistake you have made. When you learn His thoughts, you will begin to pave a path away from that sin and toward restoration. But you just can’t wing it. You must study the Scriptures to know God’s heart on that issue.

4)   Ask for forgiveness from any who were hurt because of your bad decision.

Matthew 5:23-24

When we sin, we often hurt others. Sometimes we don’t even realize how badly we’ve hurt others while we are in the midst of the sin. So, take time to look around and take an honest look at what harm you may have caused others. Then, go to those you have hurt and apologize and do whatever you can to fix that hurt. You may not be able to fix it completely, and they may not even forgive you. But you need to do all that is within your power to make it right.

5)   Set up guardrails in your life that will help you keep from doing that again.

Proverbs 27:12

Proverbs 26:11

We all have sinful desires, and so we must establish guardrails that will keep us from careening off the road spiritually and wiping out in sin. If you struggle with Internet sin, then enlist an accountability partner who can monitor your online activity. If you struggle with anger, then enlist an accountability partner (a godly friend) who will lean into you to help you do right and correct you when you do wrong. Set up boundaries that will make it impossible for you to do that wrong thing even if you wanted to do that.

6)   Seek godly counsel for solutions in getting back on track.

Proverbs 11:14

We all need people to speak into our lives to give us a fresh perspective on how to fix our problems. None of us can solve all of our own problems alone. When you find godly advisors who can help to guide you, you will be amazed at how great of ideas they can come up with at times that will help you to find victory. They will see things that you cannot see yourself. It’s sort of like you’re walking around with a “kick-me” sign on your back. Others can see it, but you cannot. A godly counselor can help to remove it from your back.

7)   Surround yourself with a godly support system that will help you to do right.

Hebrews 3:13

In addition to one or two close advisors, you need a whole network of Christian friends who can help you to do right in your life. And the best places to find these close friends will be at church, small group Bible studies, and when you get involved in ministry. These relationships will make a huge difference in strengthening you and helping you to stay on the right path.

8)   Make a long-term commitment to change.

Matthew 16:24-26

To change, you must be committed to the long term. Plenty of people get into trouble in their lives and show up at church to find a “quick fix.” But then you often see those people fade away after just a few weeks or months. They return to the same old paths of sin that got them into trouble in the first place. So, up front, you must understand that this is a long-term commitment, and you must be committed to changing over the long haul. The Christian life is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

But what if the bad decision you made was not necessarily sinful, but it was just stupid?

How to Fix a Stupid Decision:

1)   Take full responsibility.

Proverbs 28:13

If you made a mistake, own it. Don’t explain it away, minimize it, or shift the blame to others. Just admit that you blew it, and take full responsibility. If you fail to own it, then others will question your integrity, and your problems will mount. It takes guts and true character to admit when you’ve made a mistake.

2)   Wrap your head around everything God has said about this specific issue.

Joshua 1:8

The principles of God’s Word are miraculously able to help you navigate the paths of life, so take advantage of that treasure trove of wisdom. Saturate you mind with God’s very own thoughts. Allow His thoughts to become your thoughts. The principles of God’s Word will guide you in getting things back on track.

3)   Work to understand fully what it was that went wrong.

Proverbs 10:23

It’s one thing to make a mistake. And it’s another thing to make the same mistake over and over and over, week after week after week. To stop the cycle, you must take time to stop, evaluate your situation, and figure out what it was that went wrong. Do everything you can to gain knowledge and understanding that will prevent you from making the same mistake repeatedly.

4)   Stop doing the stupid thing (if possible).

Proverbs 26:11

It may seem odd to have to actually make this point, but… you need to stop doing that thing that has gotten you into trouble. The reason I’m making this point is that I have counseled with too many people to count over the years who have recognized that they’ve made a bad decision, but then they go on to do it over and over again. So, stop doing that stupid thing. This means making a COMMITMENT to putting it to an end. You’ve got to want to stop it so badly that you will do whatever is required of you to forge a new path. Make that commitment right now!

5)   Ask for forgiveness from anyone you may have hurt by your bad decision.

Matthew 16:24-26

Even though your bad choice may not have been sinful, it still may have been hurtful to others. If so, do what you can to rebuild those relationships. Humbly take responsibility and ask for forgiveness. Don’t add any qualifiers to your apology. In other words, don’t say, “I’m sorry I did that, but….” Just apologize and ask them to forgive you for blowing it.

6)   Do whatever you can to offer restitution to anyone you have hurt by your bad decision.

Exodus 22

The Bible speaks of confession and forgiveness, but it also speaks much of restitution. If your mistake has caused a loss for others, then it is your responsibility to repay that loss. And if the loss is not a clearly tangible loss that can be quantified, you need to do whatever you can to fix the problem you have caused. This is difficult at times, but it is the right thing to do. And God will bless you greatly when you pay restitution to those you have harmed.

7)   Seek wise counsel to help you formulate a solid solution. (Formulate a “board of directors” for your life.)

Proverbs 11:14

1 Corinthians 15:33

I highly recommend that you find several godly advisors who will sort of act like a “board of directors” for your life.  No, you probably won’t conduct annual meetings or hold votes, but these advisors will be your go-to people when you need input for making decisions and resolving problems. These godly friends can help you to make good decisions and help you to resolve problems that arise when you make bad decisions.

8)   Create a plan for getting yourself back on track with where you should be.

Proverbs 21:31

Proverbs 16:9

Now it is important to prayerfully establish a plan to get yourself back on track, and then allow God to lead you each step of the way as you move forward within that plan. Determine what the best potential outcome can be considering the circumstances, and then think through the specific steps you will need to take to get to that preferred outcome. Write out those steps, and then assign deadlines for when you plan to complete those steps. Once you have your plan in place, share it with your closest advisors (someone you are accountable to). They can help you greatly by giving you additional input and by holding you accountable to sticking to your plan.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Images of death are common: the wailing of distraught Arab women hugging the blood-smeared bodies of their sons, victims of the latest outbreak of fanaticism; the singing, weeping, dancing inhabitants of an African village as yet another victim of tribal conflict is carried to a simple grave; the pomp and circumstance as the remains of servicemen lost on foreign fields are returned to Arlington cemetery draped in the Stars and Stripes; the pitiful gaze of emaciated starving children lying, fly-infested, waiting for death to release them from the misery which is, sadly, all that they have known. Violence and agony seem to be the order of the day. We have become so inured to them that we can eat our food while keeping an eye on the television as it conveys to our minds the hideousness of death at the same time our knives and forks convey sweet food to our bellies. Death in the abstract no longer moves us and we like to keep it that way.

 

 

But death is not abstract. Paul tells us that “death spread to all men” (Rom. 5:12), and he attributes this to Adam’s transgression. The death that Adam experienced started the day he sinned (Gen. 2:17), although he continued to live for many years afterward. This death was clearly not physical death but rather a separation from the God with whom he had known intimate fellowship. But subsequently Adam died physically (Gen. 5:5). Whether Adam and the human race would have died if Adam had not sinned has been debated by many. But it would appear that since death is called an “enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26) and death will be ultimately destroyed (Rev. 20:14) that it could hardly be regarded as part of God’s original plan for man.

 

 

Enoch, we are told, “walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). The New Testament called this termination of his earthly walk “his translation” as if to suggest that his walk down here had been so precious and intimate that God chose to deliver him from the pains of death and simply transfer him to a walk with Him on a higher plane. Perhaps in this account and that of Elijah’s translation we are given clues as to how man would have been taken from earth to glory had not sin entered. Whatever the case might be there is no doubt that this ancient statement pierces the gloom of pervasive death with a ray of hope which, shining through the centuries, grew in intensity until Christ’s glorious Resurrection and its attendant promise, “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).

 

On the other hand, it is a sobering thought that no hint of hope for life after death is mentioned for the other men of this chapter. This alone does not mean that they perished, but it does remind us that life after death for some will mean glory and for others judgment. Part of this awesome prospect is called “the second death” and is related to the “lake of fire” into which those who are not written in “the Book of Life” are cast (Rev. 20:14-15).

 

It has been suggested that only those who view death rightly can hope to live properly. If this is true, great care should be taken to ensure that we understand death in its spiritual, physical, and eternal dimensions and accordingly embrace life in all its physical, spiritual, and eternal possibilities.

 

 

It touches us all, and all must be ready, if you have any doubts at all about your fate after death, if just a small part of you believes that God may exist then today is the day to make things right with God. Eternal life or eternal judgment, you are not the captain of your destiny, God is, but you do get to choose, choose life ever after not damnation.

 

 

Questions, comments, arguments, prayer requests; email me at our address of;

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

WE ARE BACK TO ANOTHER CHAPTER OF ASA, KING OF JUDAH

ASA IS CLEANING UP THE KINGDOM, KNOCKING OUT ALL THE IDOLS AND BEING BLESSED BY GOD.

2 CHRONICLES 15:8-17

As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord. And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. 10 They were gathered at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. 11 They sacrificed to the Lord on that day from the spoil that they had brought 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep. 12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul, 13 but that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman. 14 They swore an oath to the Lord with a loud voice and with shouting and with trumpets and with horns. 15 And all Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.

16 Even Maacah, his mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron.

IN VERSE 8

HE TOOK COURAGE AND WENT AGAINST THE PEOPLE AND CUT DOWN THEIR IDOLS. IT TAKES COURAGE AND DETERMINATION TO GO AGAINST THE POPULAR AND THE ACCEPTED AND EVEN AGAINST PUBLIC OPINION. ASK YOURSELF WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME IF EVER; THAT PEOPLE COULDN’T BELIEVE HOW DEDICATED TO GOD YOU REALLY ARE; AND SAID, ‘THAT TOOK GUTS.’

VS 16 ASA GOES AGAINST HIS FAMILY, HIS QUEEN MOTHER, SHE HAD IDOLS OF HER OWN, AND HE EVEN TOOK OUT THOSE. THERE WILL BE TIMES WHEN YOU MUST TAKE A STAND EVEN AGAINST YOUR OWN FLESH AND BLOOD, LOVED ONES MAY TURN AGAINST YOU, BUT YOU MUST SAY NO TO THEM AND YES TO GOD.

IF THERE ARE STRONGHOLDS OF EVIL, OR IDOLATRY IN YOUR LIFE STOP WAITING FOR GOD TO CONQUEROR THEM AND BELIEVE THAT THROUGH HIM HE HAS GIVEN YOU ALL YOU NEED TO PULL DOWN THESE STRONGHOLDS. OFTEN WE ARE NOT “DELIVERED” BECAUSE WE THINK WE ARE WAITING ON GOD, WHEN HE IS WAITING ON US.

WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED, YOU HAVE FAITH, AN ALL POWERFUL GOD. WE ARE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE HAVE ACCESS TO THE VERY THRONE ROOM OF GOD THROUGH OUR SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, WE HAVE HIS WORD TO EMPOWER AND MAKE US BOLD. HOPEFULLY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST TO PRAY FOR YOU.

ASA WAS DOING SO MUCH FOR GOD THAT OTHER KINGS WERE JEALOUS AND ACTUALLY BLOCKING THE ROADS AND PASSES TO KEEP PEOPLE FROM TRYING TO GET INTO JUDAH AND BE BLESSED.

WOW, IMAGINE THAT, BEING SO BLESSED BY GOD THAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE LEAVING THEIR HOMES AND COUNTRY TO SEE WHAT GOD IS DOING. THOSE THAT HUNGER AFTER GOD WILL ALWAYS SEEK OUT WHAT GOD IS DOING. IF ONLY OUR NATION WAS STILL THAT KIND OF NATION, WHERE WE ATTRACTED THE RIGHTEOUS AND NOT THE HATE FILLED, THE GODLY AND NOT THE FANATICS OF CRAZY, THE HOLY AND NOT THE SUPPRESSORS THAT ARE TRYING TO REMOVE GOD FROM EVERY PART OF OUR LIVES.

IF ONLY

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com