Popeye

August 17, 2017

STRONG TO THE FINISH

Image result for sayings of popeye the sailor man

Some of you may not be old enough to be a fan of the cartoon/comic of Popeye the Sailor Man. But as a little kid we may have been quick to say his trademark saying, but probably not as quick to eat spinach no matter what our parents said.

Back in the golden age of comic and cartoons there was always a good guy and always a bad guy. Right always triumphed over evil and it was ok to punch someone in the face, Popeye did it, Superman did, and especially the three stooges. What we teach little boys today is a spot for a different devotion.

But the theme of Perseverance has been a theme since the beginning of time.

In 490 BC, the Athenians defeated the invading Persian army in the plain of Marathon, located roughly 26 miles north of Athens. According to legend, the Athenians ordered the messenger Pheidippides to run ahead and announce the victory to the city. When he reached Athens’s public square, Pheidippides shouted, “Rejoice! We conquer”—and then collapsed dead from exhaustion.

Paul may have had Pheidippides—the inspiration for the marathon—in mind when he compared the Christian life to running a long-distance race (see 1Co 9:24–27). Like a marathon, the Christian life requires perseverance to finish well (see Rev 14:12).

Here are three things to know about the discipline of spiritual perseverance:

  1. What perseverance is—Perseverance is the steady persistence in a course of action or purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. In the

    Bible

    the term refers to the continual and patient dependence of the Christian upon Christ. In its spiritual application perseverance always has to do with continuance in the Christian way.

  2. Why we persevere—We must persevere because Jesus is coming: “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Rev 3:11). We can and must persevere because Jesus cannot be defeated—and therefore we, who abide in him, ultimately cannot be defeated either. As Oswald Chambers wrote,

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered.

  1. Where we must persevere—The New Testament everywhere urges perseverance, but it mentions certain areas explicitly. The New Testament says we must persevere in prayer (mentioned eight times, e.g., see Lk 18:1–8; Col 4:2), in doing good (mentioned five times, e.g., see Ro 2:7; Gal 6:9), in Christian teaching (mentioned four times, e.g., see Ac 2:42; 2Ti 3:14), in grace (see Ac 13:43; 2Co 6:1), in faith (see Ac 14:22; Col 1:23) and in divine love (see Jn 15:9; Jude 21).

GOD BLESS

From scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Richard this is his 6 day with no food and he’s still alive. He’s now on morphine and the spark of life has still not gone out. He doesn’t respond to any stimulus, I keep reading the bible to him, but it’s probably more for my comfort than his.

Pray for Stan R, he’s in his 80’s and still runs a large company, but he is wondering if it’s time for him to step down.

Pray for Lori R (no relation to Stan) she spent most of her life abused mentally, sexually and in ways we will never know. Now at age 42 she realizes that she must enter counseling to deal with all the issues and begin her healing. She is a dear sweet girl, but to prone to always being a victim. Help her in prayer to find her way.

 

KNOW TO GROW

August 13, 2017

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KNOW TO GROW

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

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

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

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

  “That I may know Him” (Phil. 3:10).

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

DOES IT MATTER

August 10, 2017

praying mom

DOES IT MATTER

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

  1. Bowing

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

  1. Kneeling

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

  1. Lying Prostrate

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

  1. Lifted Hands

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

  1. Lifted Eyes

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

  1. Silence

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

  1. Lifted Voices

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

  1. Crying Out

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

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

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

coming home?

August 9, 2017

Backsliding is the process by which a believer falls back into former patterns of sin or reverts back to the habits and way of life they had before they became a Christian. While all Christians are sinners, not all Christians are backsliders. A backslidden Christian is one whose communion with Christ is waning and whose faith is weakening.

 What should a believer do if they find they are backsliding? John gives us a clue in his admonition to the church of Ephesus: “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Rev 2:5). In this we find a three-part cure for the condition of backsliding:

  1. Acknowledge the problem and determine “how far you have fallen.” Backsliding is accompanied by a lack of communion with God and fellowship with other believers, so you can likely determine when the problem started by identifying when you last engaged in spiritual formation activities. Make a list that includes the last time you prayed (or prayed regularly), read the Bible and attended church. Next, examine the list and consider how you’ve changed since you began neglecting or stopped engaging in those spiritual disciplines.

  2. “Repent.” Repentance literally means a “change of mind.” It’s not about changing our intentions or beliefs, but rather it’s about changing from sinning to obeying God. To stop backsliding, take steps not only to stop your fall but also to get back on the right path of obedience to God.

  3. “Do the things you did at first.” What actions did you take when you were being faithful to God? What activities were you engaged in when you were leaning on the strength of God rather than on your own strength? Remembering what you did before can help you see what you must start doing once again.

Remember the story of the Prodigal Son, far from home, far from sanity, his father was looking for him to come home. God wants you to come home.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Becky C, had a major fall today while wallpapering, fell of the step ladder on to a coffee table, was home alone for 4 hours before someone found her.

Larsen K, his grandmother passed today, 102 years old, singing today with the choir in heaven. Was saved when she was 9 years old

Kyle L, raised in a Christian home, good parents, went totally over to the darkside, now everyone is hoping he hit rock bottom and will start coming up. Drugs, booze, other things we won’t mention, pray someone reaches out to him.

Peggy N, 69 years young, looks like she is 45, and dementia is beginning. Keep her and her family in prayer.

 

MY RANT

August 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Depressed yet?

Angry yet?

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

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

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

SO WHAT!

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

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

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

happy feet

August 4, 2017

Image result for picture of happy feet

This week I was reminded of the story of a little girl who went to visit her grandparents. It seems as though they held Sunday as the Lord’s day, and holy. They thought it should be a day of quietness, to walk, not run in it, and that the Bible was the only book that should be read. The granddaughter could not swing nor gather the flowers that grew in the pasture. While grandpa was taking his nap, she asked for permission to walk to the gate, and received it. Along the fence she stopped to watch the old mule, standing with his head bowed and his eyes closed. Reaching through the fence, she said, “Poor old fellow, have you got religion, too?”

“The Law lays it down that the Sabbath Day is to be kept holy, and that on it no work is to be done. That is a great principle. But these Jewish legalists had a passion for definition. So they asked: What is work? All kinds of things were classified as work. For instance, to carry a burden on the Sabbath Day is to work. But next a burden has to be defined. So the Scribal Law lays it down that a burden is ‘food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye-salve, paper enough to write a customs house notice upon, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen’—and so on endlessly. So they spent endless hours arguing whether a man could or could not lift a lamp from one place to another on the Sabbath, whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out with a needle in his robe, whether a woman might wear a brooch or false hair, even if a man might go out on the Sabbath with artificial teeth or an artificial limb, if a man might lift his child on the Sabbath Day. These things to them were the essence of religion. Their religion was a legalism of petty rules and regulations.”

Nothing will kill a church, defeat a pastor or drive out members of the church like legalism.

Having spent several years as an evangelist in both the bible belt and the New England states. I knew if pulled up to church and there were only a few cars, I might be in for a hard time. When you walked in the church you knew right away if you were going to meet brother love or mister done wrong on everything.

And for some reason Pentecostal churches seem to attract more than a few shares of stuffed shirt.

Oh, you could dance in aisles and shout “glory” but don’t sing the wrong song, or wear short sleeves on Sunday morning.

I once pastored a church where the little old ladies sat on the front row with blankets, so that when the altar call was given, they could lay the blankets across the young ladies’ legs if they deemed the skirts to short. Man, that was a tough church and it had a reputation of spitting out pastors every 12-18 months. I managed to stay 6 years. Talk about a rollercoaster experience.

Our Lord persistently and publicly chose to violate these traditions and to preach against them (cf. Mark 7:1-13). As a result of His refusal to comply to scribal regulations and traditions, the Lord Jesus earned the reputation of one who had no regard for the Law. In fact He was accused of setting aside the Law in deference to His own (new) teachings. The scribes and Pharisees who were regarded (at least among their own ranks) as the guardians of the Law were condemned by Jesus as hypocrites (Matthew 6:1,2,5,16; cf. 15:1-9; chapter 23).

So there must be balance in our Christian life, enough rules to keep on the straight and narrow, but enough liberty to actually enjoy the Christian life.

One secret is find a church with happy people, seriously, (pardon the pun) but a joyous, loving church will make every aspect more pleasant, regardless which side of the pulpit your on.

So good luck to those that are looking for a new church home.

P.S. avoid the kool-aid

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

STILL QUACKERS

August 2, 2017

Do you remember the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 20? A landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for their day’s wages, so they went to work. Mid-morning, he went out again and hired others and agreed to give them whatever was right. He did the same thing at noon and at mid-afternoon. Then, an hour before sundown, he found others and sent them into his vineyard.

When it was time to pay the laborers, those who came an hour before dark received a denarius. When those who had been working all day came, they expected to get more, since they had put in a long day’s work. But they also got a denarius. They grumbled about how unfair it was, but the landowner said, “I gave you what we agreed on, so take what is yours and go. But am I not free to be generous to these last men with what is my own?” That’s how God’s grace works. It is not dispensed according to merit. He gives it freely to whom He chooses. As Paul says (Rom. 9:16), “It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

The point that Paul drives home from Romans 1:18-3:20 is that we all are under sin. The pagans who do not know God are obviously under sin. But so are the religious folks (the Jews), who think that they are better than the pagans. All deserve God’s judgment and so all desperately need His grace (unmerited favor). The good news of the gospel is that God freely justifies and pardons every sinner who does not work, but believes in Jesus as the propitiation for his sins.

So in our text, Paul is reinforcing that point from David’s Psalm 32. The emphasis is on the blessing of God’s gracious forgiveness. (He uses “blessing” or “blessed” in 4:6, 7, 8, and 9.)

  1. The greatest blessing of all is to have God forgive all your sins.

To appreciate the blessing of forgiveness …

  1. WE MUST FEEL THE HEAVY BURDEN OF OUR GUILT.

A cartoon pictured a psychologist saying to a patient, “Mr. Figby, I think I can explain your feelings of guilt. You’re guilty!”

Ever since the fall, sinners have instinctively responded to their guilt by blaming others. When God confronted Adam, he blamed his wife and he even implicated God for giving him his wife (Gen. 3:12): “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” In effect, he was saying, “It’s her fault or Your fault, but don’t blame me!”

But blaming others doesn’t alleviate the guilt. True, if a person keeps denying his sin and blaming others for it, eventually he may develop a seared conscience (1 Tim. 4:2), where he feels no guilt, even for horrific sins. I read that the Cambodian dictator, Pol Pot, felt no twinge of guilt for murdering over a million of his countrymen! But even if the sinner’s conscience is seared, it doesn’t remove the reality that he will answer to God for his many sins.

So a guilty conscience is a good thing. It’s like the pain sensors in our body, which alert us to a problem. A person with leprosy can’t feel pain, and so he can burn his finger off without knowing it. If we suppress our guilt, it often leads to other emotional, physical, and relational problems. But guilt should get our attention by shouting, “You’re not right with God!” David suppressed his guilt over his sin with Bathsheba for about a year until the prophet Nathan cornered him with a story and then directly said, “You are the man!” You’re guilty!

Puritan Robert Bolton, who at first resisted the gospel, but later came to Christ after deep conviction of his sins, wrote (Instructions for a Right Comforting Afflicted Consciences, cited by Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards [Banner of Truth], p. 128):

A man must feel himself in misery, before he will go about to find a remedy; be sick before he will seek a physician; be in prison before he will seek for a pardon. A sinner … must be cast down, confounded, condemned, a cast away, and lost in himself, before he will look about for a Saviour.

  1. C. Ryle (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], on John 4:7-26, pp. 204-205) put it,

Never does a soul value the Gospel medicine until it feels its disease. Never does a man see any beauty in Christ as a Saviour, until he discovers that he is himself a lost and ruined sinner.

Or, as C. H. Spurgeon put it when describing his own painful five years of conviction of sin before his conversion (C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography [Banner of Truth], 1:54):

Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Savior. He who has stood before his God, convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honor of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed.

So for God’s blessing of forgiving all your sins to be the supreme blessing, you must feel to some extent the heavy burden of your guilt before Him.

We need to understand that when God forgives all our sins, it does not mean that He removes all temporal consequences for our sins. God forgave David, but He ordained some rather severe consequences on David and his family for the rest of his life (2 Sam. 12:10-15). Sometimes God graciously softens the consequences, but at other times He uses them to teach us to hate our sin The fact that we experience difficult trials does not mean that God has not forgiven us. In fact, it is one evidence that He has forgiven us (Heb. 12:8-10).

Guilt over your sins can cause you to keep your distance from others and to try to hide from God. If you are not in Christ, you have legitimate cause to fear His judgment. But God offers every sinner the supreme blessing: He will forgive all of your sins and credit the very righteousness of Christ to your account if you will cease from your own works and trust in what Christ did for you on the cross. Trust in Christ and you don’t have to “remember the duck.” The guilt will be gone and you will know the supreme blessing of having all of your lawless deeds forgiven.

Questions, comments, prayer requests to the email address, please.

We seek forgiveness, His forgiveness.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Snoopy_in_a_Rainstorm_by_DewCrystal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings from God and salutations from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

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

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

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

WHAT IF I CAN’T CONTROL MY CELIBACY?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. FOCUS ON PERSONAL GROWTH IN GODLINESS.

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

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

  1. GUARD YOUR MORAL PURITY.

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

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

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

  1. STUDY AND DEVELOP GODLY CHARACTER QUALITIES.

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

  1. BE WISE, BUT NOT SUPER-SPIRITUAL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Single?

July 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. ADVANTAGES OF REMAINING SINGLE:

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

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

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

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

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

More on that tomorrow.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com