mason jars and God

September 17, 2017

I grew up in a bar, my dad went there every night after work. My mother would often tell me to go down and get him. So here is this 9 year old walking down the road at 11pm to drive his dad home. I’d walk in the door and my dad would turn to Bud the bartender and tell him to pour me a short one. I’d pull up to the bar and drink my little beer and listen to everyone talk.

What amazed me is you could say anything at all and they would just nod their heads or say; “I feel you man.”

I bring this up because when these men become Christians and leave the bar scene they will often come to me frustrated and overwhelmed because in church men can’t say what they’re really feeling or thinking because it’s usually carnal, earthy and lets say a bit crusty.

So how do you reach out to these, not raised in church, late bloomers about humility and obedience, or being godly men, when they feel they don’t have a voice to be heard in the church world?

As a pastor get ready to catch some flack when you are real and transparent about your own shortcomings and feelings. Believe the women of the church will crucify you for being a manly pastor. As an evangelist, I realized I could say just about anything because they knew I knew nothing about them personally. And being salty, crusty and genuine myself, I felt honored when after a sermon, men would come up and say “you’re the first preacher I’ve met I didn’t think was gay.”

Now you have to realize that most of my evangelistic days were spent in coal mining towns or lumber mills.

I soon realized that you could be more effective and believable if you were honest about your own short comings and used a little humor. Moonshine was big in the area and every church had a dinner on the ground when an evangelist came to town. After the service, the men would form a circle around me and offer a mason jay with a little ‘shine’ in it. there was always that moment of tension, now rather you agree with me or not I don’t really care, the apostle Paul said to be all things to all men. So I would take a little sip and usually say ‘damn that was really fine.’

The women folk were always amazed that I was asked back more often than any other evangelist. And I made sure the second time back the sermon would be a barn burner. These same women would also comment how ‘so and so’ had never responded to an altar call before, but this time…

Men in church are looking for pastors that can relate and be real. If I’m in a hunting church, I go hunting, fish and trap, coon dog hunting, even went to a pit fight once. But I never compromised the message. Oh, the stuff shirt would complain because the men were in the parking lot smoking.

I will never forget a guy who always dropped his wife and kids off for church and then went to a Bob Evans restaurant and drink coffee, he started coming to church. One day he came up to me and said; ‘you’re the first pastor that would let me come to church with cigarettes in my shirt pocket and not say anything.’

A month later he came down to the altar and later that month he got baptized.

Well I don’t know how I got to this point in the devotion. But pastors be manly, love your wife in public, be a strong parent to your children, don’t embarrass them in church. And stop shaking hands like a pansy and talking that gospel whisper like your Joel Osteen or sex phone operator.  And keep a good tactical knife in your back pocket and at least clean your nails with it. some guy will ask to look at it and then show you his. It’s a start.

Change comes slowly, but lets at least get the men in the church.

Send your rants, complaints, prayer requests to scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

We must learn to give thanks to God in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17,18). God is not asking you to be thankful, but to give thanks. There’s a difference between feeling thankful and giving thanks. The first involves trusting our feelings, the latter involves trusting God. While our feelings will mislead us, God will not (Proverbs 3:5,6)

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As we mature spiritually (1) we learn to give thanks to God for all circumstances (Ephesians 5:20). This is because we understand that everything (including bad things) that have come our way can be caused to make us more like Jesus Christ as we turn to God our Father in childlike FAITH (1) trusting Him (Romans 8:28,29).

Note those two previous verses are not saying that God is causing all things to make us happy! But rather all things can be used to fulfill God’s “purpose” of making us Christ-like as we trust Him in “loving” childlike faith. We can demonstrate this trust to God by thanking Him – by faith – that what He has promised is as good as done (Colossians 3:17. Colossians 4:2).

 

 

Sometimes we have to trust God through difficult circumstances, recognizing that He is sovereign and in control. Even if we don’t immediately see the fulfillment of His promise it does not mean we will not see it fulfilled eventually (Philippians 4:6,7. 2 Peter 3:9. Hebrews 11:13).

 

 

Realize, you become like what you think about in your spiritual heart for good or for bad (Proverbs 23:7. Ephesians 5:1-4. Philippians 4:8). If we continually are thankful to God for what He has done, is doing and will do in our lives our faith will be strengthened (Romans 4:16-20).

 

 

When we live a lifestyle of thanksgiving we communicate to God that we appreciate what we have already been given – no matter how small – causing God to desire to give us more than we can ask or think (Psalms 37:3-5. Proverbs 22:11. Luke 17:12-19. Ephesians 3:20). Furthermore, if you continually give thanks to God for everything you will live a life filled with the contentment that only God gives (Isaiah 26:3. Philippians 4:11-13).

 

 

We initially were saved by faith that received the grace of God (i.e., unearned favor Ephesians 2:8,9) and we are to live the rest of our Christian lives in this manner (Colossians 2:6,7). That is, living a life of faith receiving grace which is best demonstrated by a thankful heart! (Psalms 100:4) . While it is easier to thank God when things are going well; however,  when they are not we have a unique opportunity to offer up the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). That is, thanking God when every one of your emotions wants to have a “pity party” is costly – hence the “sacrifice”.

 

 

Having an attitude of gratitude will keep our spiritual hearts tender towards God (Psalms 107:1,2,43).  Consequently, we will have a heart through which God’s grace can pour to meet the needs of others and ourselves.  Remember, when the trials come our way we can either get bitter or get better.  The stones in our path can be either our stepping stone or tombstone.  Therefore, let us stop whining and start winning! (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

Some suggestions for living a life of thankfulness to God:

  • Be humble and focused on God (Jonah 2:8,9)

  • Be thankful for everyday blessings (Matthew 5:43-48)

  • Spend time in the Word of God to learn His promises and how He plans to fulfill them in your life daily (2 Peter 1:3,4)

  • Always thank God in the midst of adversity and trials (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

  • Record blessings in your Bible or a journal and continually reference them when you encounter difficulty (Malachi 3:16)

  • Express your gratitude publicly (Matthew 10:32,33)

  • Continue God’s cycle of thanksgiving by blessing others in the Spirit of Christ 2 Corinthians 9:10,11

Remember Tim S in prayer, he has struggled for over 40 years with grief over a lifestyle of drugs, even though he has been clean all these years he wonders about his sanity in light of the heavy drug use.

Robin M, almost the same request, except one difference, where Tim remembers all the things he did, Robing has lost 20 years of memories including friends and even family members, although functional, she has burnt out a huge chunk of her brain (her words)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

LOOK UP

September 3, 2017

crown of thorns

Look Up!

  “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

  Our Father allows the believer to struggle with self, not for victory, but for defeat. Then the “wretched man” learns to rest in the Victor.

Once you have begun the Christian walk, and know the blessedness of it, you are not trying to correct yourself, for you know that all has been removed from the eye of God; and you insist on the fact that self has been to the Cross, and that Christ is your life. The old man was crucified, and you cannot reform him; all attempts of amiable people to reform him are only denying the fact that he has been dealt with in judgment. The responsible (law) man is not before God now. It is now the day of grace. Everyone who receives His grace is set free from the domination of the old man. The appeal to the believer now is not to do, but to look.

  “The believer is never told to ‘overcome sin,’ but to reckon, on the ground of his death with Christ, that he has died to it. On the basis of death, he is told not to ‘let’ sin reign in his life. It is to be dealt with by an attitude of death, not by ‘overcoming.’ The believer therefore is not to be spending his whole life in getting victory over sin, but understanding his position as having died unto sin.”

If you are struggling with sin, you are not ‘reckoning’ or looking at the cross, just as you say, “I’m born again and Jesus is my Savior” you say the same thing to sin, “I’ve been crucified with Christ.”

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BELIEVE ANY SERMON OR BOOK THAT TELLS THE STORY OF THE WHITE DOG AND THE BLACK DOG. AND THEY FIGHT, AND THE ONE THAT IS FEED THE BEST, WINS

IN THE GOSPEL, BOTH DOGS ARE DEAD. DON’T BELIEVE IT’S ALL LAID UPON YOUR SHOULDER AND YOU ARE MASTER OF YOUR FATE, CAPTAIN OF YOUR DESTINY. YOU CAN DO NOTHING BUT GAZE UPON THE CROSS.

It took faith to be saved, it takes faith to be in the right place.

Faith to believe “We are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Be safe, be blessed, believe. Be changed.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

THE STRUGGLING PARENT

September 1, 2017

WHY DID YOU BECOME A PARENT?

One of the hardest things in the world as a counselor is to sit there in a session and listen to two stupid people, so self-absorbed, so selfish, immature and worst of all totally unteachable. Which in my book makes them fools. But because of tradition and peer pressure (it never goes away) and parental badgering, they decide to become parents.

Yet the child has no real room in their world. I’m honestly beginning to think that a 13 year old pregnant girl who at least has some genuine desire to learn to be a parent is immensely better than the late 30 something that after 8-10 years of marriage (that sucks) gets it into their pea brain that a child is either timely, a fashion statement, or an attempt to make their marriage better.

Holy crap, sell the kid, they’ll have a better chance than the nanny child who will probably turn into Ted Bundy and kill their parents in bed. I’m not blaming the kid, I blame the totally selfish parents that have a kid just because their biological clock was ticking or it proves they are really a couple.

So their 2 year gets woke up at 530am, and is bundled off to the day care by 630am. The kid stays there till closing time 630pm not because the parents are working. No because neither parent wants to be alone with the kid. The mom is off work by 2pm, she goes shopping, or goes home and drinks a bottle of wine and then tells the husband who still working “she is to sick to pick up the kid.” Then on Saturday the call the nanny or drop the kid off at grandma’s. because they need couple time.

After they drop the kid off Saturday with grandma, they go out to breakfast in their separate cars because after breakfast they both have “their” errands to run.

You guessed it, the kid is at grandma’s till 8 pm where they feed the kid a meal he doesn’t need in the back seat of the car. The 2 year old is addicted to coca cola and has literally lost all his baby teeth due to cavities. After a huge temper tantrum, the kid gets put to bed and the parents drink themselves silly, have a fight and one sleeps on the couch.

It’s now Sunday and they come to church because that too is a ritual.

And then schedule marriage counseling to save their marriage.

And so how was your day?

So the moral of the story follows…

Just because a person becomes a parent doesn’t mean that he or she knows how to act like one. This is no more true than when kids become teens. You’ve probably seen it: a nervous parent groveling before a surly teen or trying to be a “buddy” rather than a parent. It makes one wonder: why do some parents feel so guilty about parenting with authority?

Unfortunately this is more than just an occasional outbreak of bad behavior—it’s an epidemic with at least one root cause: “I can’t be too hard on him. After all, I made lots of mistakes growing up and I don’t want to be a hypocrite!”

To parent well, we’ve got to swallow our feelings of guilt and hypocrisy and learn to speak openly and honestly about what is most important in life.

The Hypocrite-phobic Parent

If you have children still at home, chances are you’re a member of “Generation X.” You grew up with the ever-present mantra of “free sex, free drugs, no-absolute-truth.” I would say that at least half of the parents I visit with at homeschool conventions became interested in homeschooling because they wanted to protect their kids from the mistakes they themselves made growing up.

Yet when faced with dishonor and bad choices, these parents freeze. They know that once their kids get to be 8 or so, the hard questions will start coming: “Mom, did you ever lie to your parents? Dad, did you ever do something your parents had forbidden?” Or more serious, “Did you have sex outside of marriage? Did you ever abuse drugs or alcohol?”

Sadly, many parents would rather abdicate parenting all together than confront their children’s bad choices and risk the “hypocrite” charge. Even though parents know how awful today’s television programming is, for example, Mark Bauerlein in The Dumbest Generation points out that more than 80% of parents set no restrictions at all on their children’s television viewing.

Or more sobering, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a study in late 2006 showing that 57% of parents admit to “some degree of difficulty” in engaging teens in meaningful discussions about their friends, how they dress, and tough subjects like drug use.

If you feel disqualified to parent authoritatively because your own life was marred by self-centeredness, premarital sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse or divorce, here’s some good news: There are at least three ways to parent well in spite of having a checkered past. Let’s consider each in turn.

The Example of David: Seek Repentance

The first step to hypocrisy-free parenting is to do what great men and women have done for millennia: humble yourself before God and express sorrow for what you did. Consider the example of King David, starting with this passage written by his son, Solomon:

Listen, my sons, to a father’s discipline, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding, for I am giving you good instruction. Don’t abandon my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother, he taught me and said: ‘Your heart must hold on to my words. Keep my commands and live.’ Proverbs 4:1-4

It seems like a fairly standard bit of parenting advice until one considers who Solomon’s father was—King David! And who was Solomon’s mother? Bathsheba! How did David and Bathsheba come to be married? David committed adultery with Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother) and even had Bathsheba’s innocent, honorable husband killed to cover up his sin.

If living a blameless life was the criterion for giving wise counsel, David would certainly have been disqualified. Yet he did not use his sin as an excuse to avoid giving wise counsel to his son. Rather than abandon his parenting responsibility, David made a confession, asking to be made clean and steadfast so that he could use his life as an example to those who had gone astray:

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to you. Psalm 51:10-13

If you believe your past disqualifies you from wisely guiding your children, pray Psalm 51, as David did, asking God to make you steadfast in the truth so that you can impart wisdom to the next generation.

When I was just out of the military my father (just out of prison the first time) shared with me some of the poor choices he made when younger, and how ashamed he was of what he had done. As he shared, he wept. I found myself feeling uncomfortable, but moved to take my own choices more seriously.

What to Say in the Hard Conversations

The second step in hypocrisy-free parenting is brace yourself for the inevitable difficult conversations. Think now about what you’ll say then, so you won’t be caught unprepared. For example:

“I wish I could parent you based on having lived a perfect life, but that won’t be the case. I’ve made many tragic errors that have hurt a lot of people and brought dishonor to God.”

“Because of my past I must rely completely on God’s grace and His offer of forgiveness.”

“It’s embarrassing to have to admit my sins, but I need for you to know that my counsel to you is based on the wisdom God has revealed, not on my having lived a blameless life.”

“My point in telling you this is not to make excuses for myself or to give you an excuse for acting like I did, but to display the tragic effects of sin and the magnitude of God’s grace.”

“I understand if you’re thinking, ‘Why should I listen to you?’ I don’t blame you and I’m sorry that my example has led you to think that way. What I’m asking you to do, though, is not to follow my example but to learn from my mistakes and do what God has revealed is right.”

Ultimately our children are responsible for their own lives and choices. Statements like these aren’t guaranteed to prevent your children from making poor choices, but they will help prevent them from using your life experience as an excuse for their wrong-doing.

Taking Advantage of the Mentoring Moments

The third step in hypocrisy-free parenting is to exert an influence even when your son or daughter is being resistant.

. Here are 10 ideas of things you can do to create conversational space, even when it’s awkward.

  1. You can listen: “Tell me about what’s important to you…”

  1. You can give a blessing: “Has anyone ever told you that you have the gift of ___?”

  1. You can affirm: “Here’s something about you that makes a great deal of difference to me…”

  1. You can be transparent: “I’ve made mistakes in my life and I’d hate to see you go down that same path…”

  1. You can pray: “I’m not sure what to do either. Can I pray with you about it?”

  1. You can encourage: “I know it’s tough but I know you can do it.”

  1. You can teach: “May I share with you a Scripture verse that has been important to me?”

  1. You can admonish: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you?”

  1. You can love: “No matter what, I’ll be here.”

  1. Failing all else, you can just walk alongside: “Let’s go together.”

Tough conversations will come, but that doesn’t mean we must forfeit our responsibilities as parents. As the old saying goes, “You can’t have a new beginning, but you can start today to produce a new ending.”

Please make an effort to be a godly parent, realize you will stand before God and give an account of your life.

Don’t let guilt turn you into a helpless, non active parent or spouse.

It’s never to late to start.

Also pray that God brings people into your life and your child’s life that will listen and share without causing more guilt.

And if your closet is bigger than your garage buy birth control.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

best thoughts

August 29, 2017

One of the most helpful things I have learned about the Christian life is that all sin begins in our thoughts, which the Bible often calls “the heart.” Jesus said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23). No one commits these outward sins without first having committed them in his mind. If we want to grow in godliness, we must win the battle over sin on the thought level.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul exhorts us to develop a Christian thought life. His words should not be divorced from the context. Practicing verse 8 is essential if we want to develop and maintain healthy relationships (4:2-3, 5). A Christian thought life is also integral to a life of joy (4:4) and peace (4:6-7) in every situation. Since our thoughts form the basis for our behavior, a godly thought life is also essential for the obedience to which Paul exhorts us in verse 9. Clearly, Paul’s thought life was at the heart of the contentment he had learned in every situation (4:10-12). So Paul is telling us the way to be whole people in our relationships with God, with one another, and within ourselves. But before we look specifically at what Paul is teaching and how to obey it, we need to think about:

  1. What Paul is NOT teaching: the power of positive thinking.

I need to focus on this for a moment because the Christian world has been infiltrated with the false teaching of “positive thinking,” popularized by Norman Vincent Peale and, with only slight variations, by Peale’s protege, Robert Schuller. If you are at all familiar with the teachings of these men, you know that they are not Christian in any orthodox sense of the term, even though they both have been welcomed into evangelical circles. Through their influence, the idea has crept into the American church that it is wrong ever to be negative or critical. This has resulted in the loss of discernment.

 

In one church I was pastoring at a family stopped coming whenever we had revival meetings; they said all we talked about was sin and repenting. My response may have not been the most pastoral comments I’ve ever made (boy is that a long list) “how would you know you’ve never been to a revival meeting”. They didn’t leave the church, they just never came to revival meetings.

 

 

The positive thinking heresy has further spread through the so-called “Positive Confession” heresy, also called the “Health and Wealth” or “Name it and Claim it” teaching, that whatever you confess positively by faith, God must do it. This heresy attributes power to faith itself, and says that even if you are sick, you must not give a negative confession by admitting it, but must claim your healing by affirming, “I am well!”

Also a number of purportedly Christian sales companies or successful salesmen have utilized a form of this error through a sales motivational teaching called “positive mental attitude.” You’re never supposed to entertain negative thoughts. You’re supposed to use “positive self-talk,” have faith in yourself, and visualize yourself as successful and wealthy so that it will become a reality.

 

 

I’ve had to counsel a number of pastors that when they had to supplement their income by taking on extra work in the form of real estate salesmen, got pressured into buying all sorts of books and attending all sorts of seminars and they would go off the deep end of “positive thinking” and “wealth speak”, to the point where they had to be removed from their pulpit.

 

 

The Christian life is best supported, grown, developed, matured by two things; bible reading and prayer. I believe it to be in that order. Your prayer life will never be great if you don’t read and pray your bible.

The more you read your bible, the more you will think your bible.

 

 

John Bunyan great author of Pilgrims Progress was said that if pricked he would bleed bible.

 

 

Many of the “positive mental attitude” methods are effective in making you a successful sales person. But the question is, Are they biblical? We must test everything by God’s Word, not by feelings or pragmatism or by experience. If not based on scripture it is always a lie.

 

 

“Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:7-8). To think on what is right means to think on the holy nature of God, especially as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, and to model our behavior after Him.

 

 

Right thinking, Righteous thinking, equal Right deeds, Right actions.

 

 

An unholy thought always precedes an unholy deed.

 

That is why Jesus changed everything when he said every thought will be judged.

 

 

So don’t despair right now, God forgives anything.

 

Blessings on your thoughts, your heart and mind, Jesus wants to be Lord of all of you.

 

Regards, from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Encouraging God

August 28, 2017

Perseverance seems to be an outdated concept in our day of instant everything. If it doesn’t come easy, why pursue it? If it’s hard or requires endurance, maybe it isn’t your thing.

It’s easy to start a new diet. It’s tough to stick to it when you crave that cinnamon roll. It’s easy to start a new exercise program. It’s tough to persevere when your aching muscles scream, “No more!” It’s easy to get married. It’s tough to hang in there and work through problems over a lifetime. It’s easy to begin a new ministry in the local church. It’s tough to keep on when problems arise or when the results don’t match your initial expectations.

That describes the people in Haggai’s day, just shy of a month after they had obeyed his first message and resumed work on rebuilding the temple. The foundation had been laid about 15 years before, but the project had been set on the shelf. But now, in response to Haggai’s word from the Lord, the leaders and people had begun to rebuild on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius (Sept. 21, 520 B.C.; 1:15). The seventh month in Israel began with the Feast of Trumpets on the first day, followed by the Day of Atonement on the tenth day. Then the Feast of Tabernacles went from the 15th to the 21st. On the last day of that feast (Oct. 17th), Haggai delivered his second message to the people (2:1-9). It is a message of God’s encouragement to discouraged workers. We learn that …

God encourages His discouraged servants to persevere in His work.

These verses teach us three things about persevering by turning our discouragement in serving the Lord into encouragement:

  1. God understands and cares about the discouragement we face in serving Him (Haggai 2:1-3).

The Lord did not gloss over or ignore the reality of the situation. He knew what they were thinking and feeling, and He brings it up to show them that He understood and that He cared for them. If we do not keep in mind that in all our troubles the Lord understands and cares for us, we will easily become discouraged. The text and historical context reveal several potential sources of discouragement when we get involved in serving the Lord:

  1. THE LOSS OF INITIAL EXCITEMENT CAN DISCOURAGE US.

There is always a certain sense of excitement when you begin a new ministry or project. But the glow easily rubs off in the grind. There were probably piles of rubble that needed to be removed. Perhaps some of the workers had envisioned putting the finishing touches on some gold work or other craftsmanship, but they hadn’t thought about hauling rubble. Their initial enthusiasm was already wearing thin.

The summer after I graduated from seminary, I was involved with a group of men in starting a new church that was branching off of an existing church. We received some wise counsel from the elders of the mother church. They said, “What you’re doing now is new and exciting. But the time will come when the glamour wears off and then you’ll need to know that God has called you to this work and persevere in it.” The leaders did persevere, because last year I received an email from the pastor telling me that they were celebrating their 25th anniversary.

  1. DELAYS CAN DISCOURAGE US.

Work for the Lord seldom moves as quickly as we had hoped. Perhaps working around the numerous feasts and Sabbath days in the seventh month had dampened the initial enthusiasm because the work was going so slowly. It’s easy for that to happen in anything we do for the Lord, and the delays get us down.

  1. OUTSIDE OPPOSITION AND CRITICISM CAN DISCOURAGE US.

In verse 5, the Lord says, “Do not fear!” He would not say that unless they had a reason to be afraid. Probably the same men who had threatened them and lobbied against them at the Persian court 15 years before were at it again. Any time you attempt to do God’s work, Satan will stir up opposition. We’re in a battle with the forces of darkness that are opposed to the church of Jesus Christ. Expect opposition!

  1. INSIDE PESSIMISM, COMPARISONS, AND FAULTY EXPECTATIONS CAN DISCOURAGE US.

When I began in ministry, I naively thought that most of the opposition would come from outside the church. Boy, was I wrong! Most opposition comes from within, and it takes different forms.

One common form is pessimism. “We tried that before. It won’t work!” When they had laid the foundation years before, there was great joy mixed with weeping (Ezra 3:11-13). The young people who had not known the glory of the former temple were rejoicing. But the old-timers, who had seen Solomon’s Temple, wept at this new temple, because it just didn’t measure up. Although they would be in their seventies or older by now, a few were still around when the work got started again. Maybe they were saying, “God’s blessing just isn’t on this temple!” Pessimism!

A second form of inside opposition comes from those who drop little comparisons on you. The old-timers were saying, “You should have seen Solomon’s Temple. Now that was a temple! This new one is hardly worth calling a temple compared to the old one!” Sometimes people will say, “That church on the other side of town really has their act together!” (Implication: You don’t!) Or, “Have you ever heard Chuck Swindoll preach? He’s really good! You ought to listen to him.” Thanks for the encouragement!

And then there are those who have faulty expectations. This usually operates in conjunction with comparisons. “Where is all the gold? Solomon’s Temple was lined with gold. Why isn’t this one?” I’ve had people tell me about their former pastors who must never have slept and changed into their pastor uniforms in a phone booth! These pastors would visit everyone in the church, preach superb sermons (with great illustrations), attend all the youth activities, and always have time for drop ins. Besides that, they never neglected their families! Implication: “Why aren’t you like they are?”

  1. A WRONG VIEW OF SUCCESS CAN DISCOURAGE US.

Some view success externally rather than internally (or spiritually). “This temple isn’t as big as Solomon’s Temple was. This temple doesn’t have all the gold and fancy workmanship that Solomon’s Temple did.” But God says through Haggai, “I own all the gold and silver in the world, and I could cover this temple with gold if I wanted to. But I’m going to do something better. Instead of gold, I’m going to fill this temple with glory, the glory of My Messiah” (paraphrase of 2:7-9).

God doesn’t view things as we do. Just because one church isn’t as big or outwardly slick as another church doesn’t mean anything to God. A church may have a multi-million dollar facility, but if it doesn’t honor God’s Word or promote His glory among the nations, that facility is a big pile of wood, hay, and stubble! God is looking for the glory of Christ formed in the hearts of His people, not for the outward, superficial signs of success.

Another wrong view of success is the instant view as opposed to the eternal. None of the workers on this temple lived to see its glory exceed that of Solomon’s Temple. That didn’t happen until Messiah came into this temple over 500 years later, and even then many missed it! God says, “Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land” (2:6). While there may have been a partial fulfillment of that prophecy within a few years of Haggai’s day (in the overthrow of powerful kingdoms), the ultimate fulfillment is still future in our day! God will shake all the nations at the Second Coming of Christ, and they will bring the wealth of the nations to His temple in the Millennium.

If the people in Haggai’s day were viewing success from the short range, they would have been very discouraged. With God, a thousand years is as a day. True success will be measured in the light of eternity, not in our lifetimes. We need to keep this in mind as we labor for the Lord. The harvest is at the end of the age, not at the end of the meeting. God’s timing is not our timing.

Whatever our source of discouragement, God understands and He cares. But He doesn’t coddle us or let us stay there.

  1. God’s word to us when we discouraged in serving Him is to persevere (2:4a).

Three times the Lord repeats, “Be strong!” (“Take courage!”) And He tells them to work. Keep going! Persevere! There are two aspects to this kind of perseverance: an attitude and an action.

  1. PERSEVERANCE REQUIRES THE RIGHT ATTITUDE: BE STRONG!

The people had the wrong attitude. They were weak because they had gotten their focus off the Lord and onto the slow, disappointing progress on the temple. Maybe they were thinking, “This will never get done. We’re just wasting our time!”

Have you ever noticed how much your attitude affects your ability to persevere? If you’re motivated, you can stay up all night on some project. But if you get discouraged, you procrastinate and never get around to finishing it.

We hear about many pastors burning out and quitting the ministry. While in some cases the cause of burnout is not properly managing one’s schedule, often the real cause is an attitude of discouragement because of setbacks or disappointments. I recently read that 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression. Eighty percent of pastors and 84 percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their ministries. I think every pastor should feel unqualified (2 Cor. 2:16), but not discouraged. As Americans, we’re far too emotionally fragile. Someone offends us, so we get our feelings hurt and drop out of service. Someone doesn’t do what we had expected, so we quit. Someone criticizes what we’re doing, and we say, “I’m out of here!”

But God says, “Be strong!” We aren’t to be strong in our own strength, of course, but in God’s strength (2 Cor. 3:5). But, be strong! Have the attitude that hangs in there in spite of obstacles. The real question is not how do we see things, but how does God see things? If we have not factored God into the equation, we don’t see things in the right perspective.

Do you remember the story of the 12 spies who went into the land of Canaan? Ten of them came back focused on the giants in the land and said, “We’re like grasshoppers in their sight. We can’t conquer them!” But Joshua and Caleb came back and said, “Because God is with us and He has promised us that land, we will eat them for lunch!” (Num. 14:9, paraphrase). Be strong in attitude!

  1. PERSEVERANCE REQUIRES THE RIGHT ACTION: WORK!

The attitude provides the motivation, but motivation without work won’t get the temple built. Joshua and Caleb had the right attitude of trust in the Lord. But they still had to go into the land and fight the giants. Much of the Lord’s work is far more perspiration than inspiration! That is certainly true of my weekly sermon preparation. These messages don’t come floating down from the sky! I have to work hard to prepare them. Just because you’re gifted in whatever you do for the Lord does not mean that it just flows effortlessly. To persevere we must not only be strong; we also must work.

Thus God encourages us in our service for Him by showing that He understands what we’re feeling and He cares. His word to us is, “Be strong and work!” Finally,

  1. God assures us when we are discouraged in serving Him by His presence, His promise, and His prophecy (2:4b-9).

  1. GOD ASSURES US WHEN WE ARE DISCOURAGED IN SERVING HIM BY HIS PRESENCE (2:4B).

After telling Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people to be strong and to work, God adds, ‘“For I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” The Jews may have feared a hostile host against them, but God is the Lord of hosts, the Supreme Ruler over all the armies of heaven and earth. If the Lord of hosts is with us, who can defeat us? If we’re serving Him, then nothing can happen to us accidentally or without His express permission. The assurance of His presence should lift our discouragement and enable us to press on.

After many years of hardship and danger in the heart of Africa, David Livingstone received an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow. On that occasion, he said, “Would you like me to tell you what supported me through all the years of exile among people whose language I could not understand, and whose attitude toward me was always uncertain and often hostile? It was this: ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ On those words I staked everything, and they never failed.”

  1. GOD ASSURES US WHEN WE ARE DISCOURAGED IN SERVING HIM BY HIS PROMISE (2:5).

“Promise” (2:5) refers to the covenant God made with Israel when they came out of Egypt. He promises them now, as He had then, that His Spirit would go with them and abide in their midst. Therefore, they need not fear.

God has made a better covenant with us than He did with them, the New Covenant, enacted on better promises (Heb. 8:6). Jesus sealed that New Covenant with His own blood. He promised us the indwelling Holy Spirit to be with us forever (John 14:16). When we grow discouraged in our service for Him, we should remember His promise, that He would not leave us as orphans, but would come to us and that in the meanwhile, He has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to serve Him.

 

Housekeeping; questions, comments and prayer requests please send to

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

thank you especially to those that reach out and say thanks, or “like” or tell us you are part of our prayer partners, your encouragement means more than you can know.

 

Pray for those that have been hit hard by hurricane Harvey, I have some dear friends living in and about Houston and 50” of rain is not an easy thing to deal with. Please keep Joe and Randall in your prayers and countless others.

God bless and thanks

the woof and the warp

August 15, 2017

There’s an old phrase, if you are under 60 or not a fan of Shakespeare, you may not recognize it; or you don’t read the King James Version of the Bible, Leviticus 13:48,49 “the warp and the woof”. In weaving, the weft (sometimes woof) is the thread or yarn which is drawn through, inserted over-and-under, the lengthwise warp yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom to create cloth. Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while weft is the transverse thread.

It is a phrase that is used to mean ‘inseparable’.

The Cross and The Holy Spirit are the warp and the woof of our salvation, you must have both.

  “But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

  The Lord Jesus carried out the work of the Cross as to our eternal position. The Holy Spirit carries out the work of the Cross as to our present condition. “He will take the things that are Mine and will transmit them to you” (John 16:15, Amp.).

  “We cannot separate the Cross from the Holy Spirit. We can have no Easter and no Pentecost until we have first had a Good Friday. Through the Cross alone we are prepared for life in the fullness of God; only he who is crucified with Christ can be a vessel unto honor. Our ‘old man’ must be crucified with Christ, and in His

resurrection

we find the roots of our new life. Whosoever loses his life, shall find it. We must learn the lesson of the Cross, as condemned and rejected ones, who have been crucified with Christ.

Then the door will be open for a life of power and blessing. All that belongs to death must be turned over to the death of the Cross, even as the body is laid away in the

earth,

because it belongs to the earth. The Holy Spirit, the Eternal Spirit, is unchangeable. He brought Christ our Head to the Cross, and us His children with Him. For this work in us is twofold. On the one hand, it leads us to death; and on the other hand, to that life which God has placed within us and which leads from glory to glory.

  “And all of us, with faces uncovered, because we continue to reflect like mirrors the splendor of the Lord, are being transformed into likeness to Him, from one degree of splendor to another, since it comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Pray for a dear friend of mine that has maybe a day left to live, he may even pass this night. As I made arrangements for his funeral it was hard to imagine him gone, he was a funny little guy. The sad part is that when we talked about Jesus he always said not to worry about that it was taken care of. He was always visibly moved when we talked about it, but would never talk about ‘his salvation’. And now we are at the place where it may be

to

late.

My point is evangelism must be the woof and warp of our lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

you believe in what?

August 8, 2017

A Peanuts cartoon depicted a conversation between Linus and Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown was confused and disillusioned by his failing beliefs when Linus comforted him with these timely words: “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” I also recently heard a religious leader on television state that if the bones of Christ were to be discovered in Palestine today, this would not alter his Christian faith; his faith was not bound by objective truths.

Surveys are becoming emphatically more clear that the majority of our culture believes that truth is relative. It has been clear for some time now that our world is going through a major cultural shift. The illustrations stated above are all too common in today’s postmodern society. We have moved from a world of absolutes, objectivity, and dogmatism to one of relativism, subjectivism, and tolerance. The greatest commandment in this postmodern society is this, thou shalt tolerate one another. Springing forth from this relativistic epistemology, tolerance has become preeminent. As one writer has put it, “Tolerance has become so important that no exception is tolerated.” A person may have his or her religion, and may believe it, but he or she has no right to try to persuade another of his or her belief. Why? Because what you are saying is that your belief is superior to their belief. This is the supreme act of intolerance, the primary postmodern taboo.

 

 

Typical postmodernist mean when they cry for “tolerance.” They are not asking people to simply tolerate and get along with the opposing belief. The fact is that they are asking people to compromise their beliefs. They are asking me to concede that my neighbor’s beliefs are just as true as mine, to forfeit my notion of objectivity, and to surrender my view of exclusivism. The result would accomplish nothing less than to render a death blow to my belief in the Scriptures. What they are implying when they push their definition of “tolerance” is that people should never stand up for their beliefs, if standing up for them means stating that their beliefs are the only true beliefs—that they are exclusive. They are not asking people to tolerate the homosexual, but to change their belief that homosexuality is wrong for everyone. But, again, this is not asking someone to be tolerant; it is asking someone to compromise his or her beliefs and convert to the postmodern faith. This is something that the Christian cannot do.

 

 

By tolerance, the postmodern means that we compromise the objectivity of God’s Word. By tolerance, the postmodern cries for us to stop reaching out to others with the Gospel. By tolerance, the postmodern demands that we approve of their lifestyles. By tolerance, the postmodern is essentially asking us to give up our faith. This we cannot do.

The first step in understanding and reaching out to the postmodern non-Christian is for us all to be able to understand and compellingly argue that it is not tolerance that they want, but compromise.

In chapter four of his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul begins to tell his readers how they are to live the Christian life. Speaking on the importance of unity, Paul states, “Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3, emphasis added). Here Paul tells us that one of the primary ways the Church preserves unity is by showing tolerance.

 

The King James often translates it, “to suffer with.” This word is used by Christ when He cries over Israel, “how long shall I put up with you” (Matt 17:17, emphasis added). It almost always carries a negative connotation. In 2 Maccabees 9:12, it is used

of an unbearable stench; the smell was said to be intolerable. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is telling the Church that it will sometimes be necessary to tolerate the “stench” of one another. This presupposes something negative about the ones we are to tolerate. Someone may have a repulsive personality—Paul tells us to endure them! Another has a bad temper—bear with them! Someone differs with you in some non-essential doctrine—tolerate them! Let’s face it, when we all get to heaven we will all find out that we were wrong about a few things. Some more than others, but we will all have some surprises.

 

 

We’ve mentioned this before, “the short list” and the “long list” there are the basics we cannot compromise on, that the scripture is inerrant, inspired and infallible, salvation only as a propitiatory act (divine substitute) that all of mankind is fallen and sinful, that God is full of grace and mercy, yet, will punish sin. Christ is eternal, yet born of a virgin, fully God, yet

fully man, crucified, died, buried, resurrected, ascended into heaven. Salvation only through him.

 

After that list we begin the longer list, we may or may not agree but as brothers and sisters in Christ we will respect our folks in the body of Christ (the church).

As Christians we emphatically affirm the existence of objective truths. It is one of the bedrocks of Christianity. It is because of the objective truth of the atonement that you and I can have access to God. It is because of the objective truth that God created us that we exist. There is no room for relativity in these matters. It is our job to defend many of these objective truths at all costs.

 

 

  “But to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Romans 14:14b). Therefore, if someone thought that it was a sin to eat ham, but did it anyway, this was a sin to him. Not because God would be angry that the person ate what was unclean, but because he consciously believed it was wrong and therefore rebelled against his conscience and God. Not only this, but Paul goes on to state that whatever is done without full conviction that it is right is sin (v. 23).

So we have to have respect

among the church, (the long list) I can work on.

Love the Brethren, be humble, kind to one another, if we put this into practice maybe more people would like to visit our church and stay.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

never forgetting

July 23, 2017

45 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, what most people don’t know is that Buzz Aldrin partook of communion on the moon, he partook of real bread and real wine and read a card that had printed on it Christ’s statement; “do this in remembrance me”.

The reason we never heard about it was NASA was being sued the atheist Madeline  Murray O’Hair for Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis as they circled the moon.

 

 

Speaking of forgetting here’s a quote from Puritan Preacher Richard Baxter.

 

It is a most lamentable thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles, while God is cast aside. He who is all seems to them as nothing, and that which is nothing seems to them as good as all. It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion! If God had never told them what they were sent into the world to do, or what was before them in another world, then there would have been some excuse. But it is His sealed word, and they profess to believe it.

Richard Baxter (It’s impossible to measure the influence of this English Puritan over four centuries. His works remain in print and are widely read, which shouldn’t surprise us. J. I. Packer considers him “the most outstanding pastor, evangelist, and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced,” listing Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor (1656) as one of the top five books that have influenced him most.)

 

 

So let us not forget the bravery of Apollo 11 on this anniversary of that historic moment and let’s never forget our purpose here on this planet Earth to worship and bring glory to our Creator.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

INSIDE OUT

July 15, 2017

A BIG BITE

Ok, I’m going to assume, that if you have been following this devotional sight for any amount of time you are interested in your own spiritual growth. So, with that in mind I want to challenge you to put today’s devotion to practical use; i.e. “do it.” I mean really make an effort, print this out, make several copies and keep one with you everywhere you go and pray it into your life.

Our culture teaches us that people are basically good and that their internal problems are the result of external circumstances. But Jesus taught that no outside-in program will rectify the human condition, since our fundamental problems stem from within (Mark 7:20-23). Holiness is never achieved by acting ourselves into a new way of being. Instead, it is a gift that God graciously implants within the core of those who have trusted in Christ. All holiness is the holiness of God within us—the indwelling life of Christ. Thus, the process of sanctification is the gradual diffusion of this life from the inside (being) to the outside (doing), so that we become in action what we already are in essence. Our efforts faithfully reveal what is within us, so that when we are dominated by the flesh we will do the deeds of the flesh, and when we walk by the Spirit we will bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

A Process from the Inside to the Outside

Holiness is a new quality of life that progressively flows from the inside to the outside. As J. I. Packer (one of my top ten favorite authors) outlines it in Keep in Step with the Spirit, the nature of holiness is transformation through consecration; the context of holiness is justification through Jesus Christ; the root of holiness is co-crucifixion and co-resurrection with Jesus Christ; the agent of holiness is the Holy Spirit; the experience of holiness is one of conflict; the rule of holiness is God’s revealed law; and the heart of holiness is the spirit of love. When we come to know Jesus we are destined for heaven because He has already implanted His heavenly life within us. The inside-out process of the spiritual life is the gradual outworking of this kingdom righteousness. This involves a divine-human synergism of dependence and discipline so that the power of the Spirit is manifested through the formation of holy habits. As Augustine put it, “Without God we cannot; without us, He will not.” Disciplined grace and graceful discipline go together in such a way that God-given holiness is expressed through the actions of obedience. Spiritual formation is not a matter of total passivity or of unaided moral endeavor, but of increasing responsiveness to God’s gracious initiatives. The holy habits of immersion in Scripture, acknowledging God in all things, and learned obedience make us more receptive to the influx of grace and purify our aspirations and actions.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21). It is wise to form the habit of inviting God to search your heart and reveal “any hurtful way” (Psalm 139:23) within you. Sustained attention to the heart, the wellspring of action, is essential to the formative process. By inviting Jesus to examine our intentions and priorities, we open ourselves to His good but often painful work of exposing our manipulative and self-seeking strategies, our hardness of heart (often concealed in religious activities), our competitively-driven resentments, and our pride. “A humble understanding of yourself is a surer way to God than a profound searching after knowledge” (Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, my second favorite book). Self-examining prayer or journaling in the presence of God will enable us to descend below the surface of our emotions and actions and to discern sinful patterns that require repentance and renewal. Since spiritual formation is a process, it is a good practice to compare yourself now with where you have been. Are you progressing in Christlike qualities like love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, understanding, servanthood, and hope? To assist you, here is a prayer sequence for examination and encouragement that incorporates the ten commandments, the Lord’s prayer, the beatitudes, the seven deadly sins, the four cardinal and three theological virtues, and the fruit of the Spirit. This can serve as a kind of spiritual diagnostic tool:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

You shall have no other gods before Me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come,

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

THE BEATITUDES

Poverty of spirit (nothing apart from God’s grace)

Mourning (contrition)

Gentleness (meekness, humility)

Hunger and thirst for righteousness

Merciful to others

Purity of heart (desiring Christ above all else)

Peacemaking

Bearing persecution for the sake of righteousness

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

Pride

Avarice

Envy

Wrath

Sloth

Lust

Gluttony

THE FOUR CARDINAL AND THREE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES

Prudence (wisdom, discernment, clear thinking, common sense)

Temperance (moderation, self-control)

Justice (fairness, honesty, truthfulness, integrity)

Fortitude (courage, conviction)

Faith (belief and trust in God’s character and work)

Hope (anticipating God’s promises)

Love (willing the highest good for others, compassion)

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-control

Some of these items are in the “put off” category and some are in the “put on” category. So get the inside out.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Dan and Lee, as they move into their new home today with their two little girls and go from city dweller to country folk.