do the math

May 22, 2017

The problem with setting your expectations too high is that we try to create what we believe is the perfect scenario for us (emphasis on “us”) and then hope God simply blesses our desires.  I think we forget that God’s plans, dreams and expectations for us may not always align up with ours. In fact, His plans may include us having to climb our way out of a valley for awhile before we reach victory.  When that happens then we get upset and tend to question God, feeling disappointed that he didn’t bless our big expectations for the year like we hoped.

What’s ironic is that God gave us the ability to dream in the first place.  He wants us to dream big and have high expectations about things in life but I also believe we have to taste disappointment from time to time to better appreciate and enjoy victory when it happens.  He wants us to be content when things don’t always go our way.  I would say and so would Paul that contentment is the key to a great life here on earth.  He has great plans for all of us that believe and follow Him.

One of the most dangerous places for our unrealistic expectations, though, is what we think God should do. Some of the most bitter and angry people I know, or who have loud voices in the culture (think of the “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris) are those who feel betrayed by God, so they decide He isn’t there.

That sense of betrayal and disappointment comes from having expectations of God according to how we think He should act:

  • Protect the innocent from pain and suffering

  • Protect the people who maybe-aren’t-so-innocent-but-not-as-bad-as-axe-murderers from pain and suffering

  • Show the same grace to all of us by treating us all the same

  • Give us an easy life

  • If I do all the right things to be “a good person,” God should do His part to make life work the way I want it to

When we pray fervently for what we want and He doesn’t answer the way we want, many of us get angry with Him.

Many times, we pray in faith, believing God will give us what we ask for, but we ask for things He never promised in the first place. Or even worse, we “claim” them on the basis of a scriptural promise wrenched out of context, such as “all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matt. 21:22). Jesus never promised that if we believe in our prayers, we would receive what we ask for. Believing in the Bible is all about trusting in and surrendering to the goodness and character of GOD, not our prayer list. We will always receive an answer to our prayers because God is good. Sometimes the answer is “No, beloved,” because we ask amiss. Psalm 84:11 promised, “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” If God says “no,” it’s because it’s not a good thing for us. His “no” is a “yes” to something else. But because we have such a limited perspective, it is essential that we trust in the unlimited perspective of the God who sees everything.

When we feel disappointed in God, when we think, “God didn’t come through for me,” that’s the time to take a step back and ask, “What kind of unrealistic expectations did I have in the first place?” That may be a great question to talk through with a mature trusted friend who can see things more clearly. Then we can place the unrealistic part of our expectations into God’s hands as an act of worship and trust . . . and watch our anger and frustration subside.

You want less anger, less stress, less frustration?

Look at all the ways you have no control, not over anyone, not really, or situations, so what to do?

Try lowering your expectations.

No I haven’t lost my mind, but if your biggest problem is other people, lower your expectations. For example no one has esp, so why are you upset when the person you want to call and see if you’re ok doesn’t call. How will they know that’s want you want? Less expectations, less frustration. Like anything else don’t overdo it.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ALL OR NOTHING

May 21, 2017

All or Nothing

  “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace” (2 Thess. 2:16).

  It has been well said that “it takes a lifetime to learn real dependence upon God, and to accept practically our own inadequacy.” We are going to learn this only through experience, and now is the time to settle down to this schooling—a day at a time.

We are to understand that God loves us, and that He justifies us by the work of His Son. We have no longer conscience of sins before God, because He Himself has taken them away before His eyes; we know that being united to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has fully glorified God in that which concerns our sins, we have been made the righteousness of God in Him. So the heart is free to enjoy His love in the presence of the Father.

I no longer attempt to produce that which will satisfy God from myself as originator. I know that even if I try I shall only fail. But I do seek to please God by faith in the activity of Another. The Son of God who indwells me by His Spirit is able and willing to carry out in me ‘those things that please Him’; and I count upon Him to do so. Consciously, day by day, I take the attitude that I trust Him to work the will of God in me, and in that attitude I go forward and serve Him. I do not trust myself. ‘I live by faith in the Son of God.’

  “Comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thess. 2:17).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23).
Self is the believer’s indwelling enemy; its degrading bondage is his deepest heartache. However, the reign of self is overthrown by its own enmity, since it creates the needs that cause us to hunger for and appropriate Christ’s life and liberty.

“A sense of spiritual poverty is necessary to spiritual growth. This awareness of failure becomes acute to the believer during those days when he is attempting to attain holiness of heart through self-effort. Knowing what he ought to be and do, he proceeds to try to reach those goals. He purposes, resolves, promises, struggles, weeps, and fails again. His testimony, with Paul, is, ‘The things that I want to do, I do not do, and the things that I do not want to do, I do’ (Rom. 7:15).

What a delightful day it is for him when he realizes that ‘in him, that is, in his flesh, dwelleth no good thing’ (Rom. 7:18). Only then does he, in his failure, cry out, ‘Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ ‘I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Rom. 7:24, 25) comes back the reply. He begins to recognize that God expects only failure from the flesh, never success, but that ‘in Christ’ is his sanctification, his growth. Thus it is that freedom comes through bondage, life through death.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

prayer requests to the email sight please, blessings.

DO THE HARD PART

May 16, 2017

There are no secrets and there is no easy path.

Do the work, get the reward, that’s the only answer.

When we read or hear the words of Scripture, do we “pay the most careful attention” (Heb 2:1)? How often have you noticed that by the end of the week, you’ve forgotten the Bible reading you did only a few days earlier?

 Too often we attempt to build a framework for scriptural knowledge without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. To lay that groundwork check out this simple four-step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind:

  1. Choose a book of the Bible.

  2. Read it in its entirety.

  3. Repeat step #2, 20 times.

  4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

  The benefits of following this process will become obvious. By fully immersing yourself in the text, you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your understanding of each book, as well as your knowledge of the Bible as a whole.

 This method is adapted from the book How to Master the English Bible by James M. Gray, so we’ll let him explain the benefits in his own words:

  The first practical help I ever received in the mastery of the English Bible was from a layman . . . One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, “By reading the epistle to the Ephesians.” . . . He had gone into the country to spend the Sabbath with his family on one occasion, taking with him a pocket copy of Ephesians, and in the afternoon, going out into the woods and lying down under a tree, he began to read it; he read it through at a single reading, and finding his interest aroused, read it through again in the same way, and, his interest increasing, again and again. I think he added that he read it some twelve or fifteen times, “and when I arose to go into the house,” said he, “I was in possession of Ephesians, or better yet, it was in possession of me, and I had been ‘lifted up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,’ in an experimental sense in which that had not been true in me before, and will never cease to be true in me again.”

  Here are three suggestions for putting this reading plan into practice:

  1. Choose shorter books—Because you’ll be reading an entire book of the Bible and not just a chapter or two, you’ll want to choose books you feel are manageable. You might want to start with a short book that has only a few chapters that can be read several times in one sitting. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help develop the reading habit. For example, a short book like John or Jude can be read four or five times in one sitting, allowing you to finish the entire 20 readings in less than a week. And then you always have the option to work your way up to more extensive readings.

  2. Read at your normal pace—Treating the material reverently does not require reading at a slower than normal speed. Read for comprehension, ignoring the division of chapters and verses and considering each book as one coherent unit.

  3. Stick with the process—After the eighth or ninth reading you’ll hit a wall similar to what runners face in marathons. The text will become dry and lose its flavor. You’ll want to move on to the next book or abandon the program altogether. Stick with it. Persevere and you’ll discover the treasures that repeated readings can provide.

  Keep in mind that not every book will be equally rewarding. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you if during one of your readings you find 2 John a bit redundant or Jude just plain boring. The Bible tells us “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching” (2Ti 3:16–17). Keep reading, and you’ll fully understand the truth of those verses.

The good news, it’s get easier and more exciting and more rewarding.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

AAA (A DIFFERENT ROAD MAP)

Wise people have observed that we all have legitimate, God-given needs for “the 3 As”: attention, affection and affirmation. God intends for children to receive them from their parents first, laying a foundation of a healthy sense of self, then from their peers.

The Attention need is met by being there, listening, watching, engaging and interacting. Ever hear the famous line, “Daddy, watch me!”? One wise father told another whose daughter kept clamoring for him to look at her as she played in the back yard, “If you don’t watch her now, soon she’ll look for another guy to give her the attention she wants from YOU.”

The Affection need is met both physically and verbally. We all need hugs and safe touch. And most boys need the rough-housing kind of physical affection from their dads that says, “You belong in the world of males.” We need to hear the verbal affection of “I love you,” terms of endearment, and other forms of communicating love.

The Affirmation need is met by validating people’s feelings, efforts, skills and gifting. Noticing and commenting when they do things right—or even try. It communicates, “I am for you” and “I believe in you.”

Jesus received the Three As at His baptism. His Father and the Spirit showed up [attention], and the Father pronounced, “This is My beloved Son [affection] in whom I am well pleased [affirmation]” (Matt. 3:17).

Much unhealthy, dysfunctional behavior is driven by trying to get these three needs met, usually without realizing what is driving us. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder than ever to get these needs met because of two things proliferating in our culture.

First, families seem to be growing more fractured and more dysfunctional than ever before. Fatherlessness is at epidemic stage. The National Fatherhood Initiative cites the U.S. Census Bureau’s statistic that one out of three American children live in homes without their biological father.{1} Parents in the home are often stressed, overwhelmed, and so self-focused, whether on selfishness or mere survival, that many children feel like they are on their own. Plus, the people God intends to fill their children’s emotional tanks with attention, affection and affirmation—parents—are often scrambling to try to get their OWN tanks filled. So there is a sense of disconnection at home.

Second, smartphone technology has moved into the hands—and heads—of the majority of Americans. Over half of adults own smartphones, and a recent report from the Pew Research Center revealed that 78% of young people ages 12-17 now have cell phones, and nearly half of those are smartphones.{2} That means continual connection to the internet. That means billions of text messages daily, which have virtually replaced phone calls for many people, especially youth.{3} The camera on most people’s cell phone means that many people view life’s experiences, from wedding processions to grade school concerts to street fights, through a 3-to-4-inch screen held away from the body.

In short, we’re doing life through a screen.

And that screen is an additional layer of disconnection between people. Technology has created a superficial degree of counterfeit connection, and relationships are suffering. People think they’re connected to other people through their phones, but in reality they’re connected to their phones and a counterfeit kind of “life.”

God knew what He was doing when He stressed the importance of staying in connection, continually engaging with each other: I count “one anothers” in scripture.{4} He knew what He was doing when He instructed believers to make sure and keep meeting together to encourage one another (Heb. 10:24).

God put needs for the Three A’s inside us, and He intends for us to meet them through connection to other people. Please, hug somebody. Tell them they’re important and valuable. Be there for them.

And you might want to put down your phone.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Constant Care

May 9, 2017

WE ARE NEVER WITHOUT HIS CARE

  The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth 2:12).

  The Lord Jesus not only died for every sin in our life, but He lives for every second of our life. We cannot rest in Him until we realize that there is never an instant that He is not caring for us. It is as though each of His own were His only one.

So many saints are disturbed, so many are restless, because they are not living in the knowledge that they are under the care of the Lord; and then there is no power to walk. Why have you so little power in walk or service? It is because you are not yet clear that the Lord is caring for you, that He is in all watchfulness over you, that He has let down the strong pinions of His protecting care till they sweep the ground around you, and, if you are wise, you will creep up close under His wings, into the very down.

It belongs to the nature of our pilgrimage and life of faith, that we cannot see the land for which we are bound. If only thou hast bid farewell to thy past, have confidence in thy God; trust Him to bring thee into a better land than the one thou art leaving. Should we find that Divine things do not at present correspond with our hopes, we may be quite sure they will eventually exceed our expectations; we shall realize above all we ask or comprehend.

  “And a man shall be like an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; like rivers of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isa. 32:2).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.comfa

 

BE PREPARED

April 20, 2017

Image result for boy scout emblem

  Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh is at rest from sin” (Phil. 2:5, Weymouth Translation; 1 Pet. 4:1m).

  Too late! Too late! If we seek to deal with sin by reckoning at the moment it becomes an issue. Our stand and attitude from the beginning of each day is to be a settled matter as we rest in our risen Lord Jesus: the death of the Cross separates me from the enslavement of sin and self, and I continually abide in my new life, Christ Jesus. My life is “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

  “The reckoning believer is to meet every proposal of self-gratification armed with the mind to suffer in the flesh. Sin is the gratification of self, but ‘he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from the domination of sin.’

If you allow yourself to entertain a suggestion of self-gratification—if you consider it, and give it a place in your mind—you are defeated. You have laid aside your armor, and will fall an easy prey to the foe. But there will be no response to the suggestion or temptation if you stand armed with the mind to suffer in the flesh. That which is proposed to you is exactly opposite to what you are set for. It is suggested that you should be pleased and gratified in the very thing in which you are fully minded to suffer. You are now in conflict with sin—not going along with it; you suffer in the flesh, and have ceased from the practice of sin.

  “So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires but [he lives] for what God wills” (1 Pet. 4:2, Amp.).

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

 

 

In the “Pardon My Planet” cartoon, an earnest young man is speaking in candlelight to a young lady and says, “From the day you marry me I’ll spend the rest of my life making your dreams come true. ‘Till then, I’ll work myself to the bone trying to lower your expectations.”

The objective, of course, is not to lower expectations. It is simply to make them realistic. Unrealistic ones that are unachievable only set us up to fail.

She was a young excited bride-to-be eagerly anticipating married life with her fiancé. In a burst of enthusiasm, in the midst of one of our pre-marriage counselling sessions, she exclaimed, “I can’t wait until we get married and we can be together all the time!” Immediately the lights went on. “Hold it! Wait a minute! You mean that’s your expectation of married life?” Simply unrealistic. If the record isn’t set straight right now, they are heading for some rough water ahead. Managing expectations involves having expectations that are realistic.

My wife and a good friend were having lunch together when her friend lamented over the conflict she and her husband were having with their adult children. Due to circumstances of school and finances the 22 year old and 25 year old were living with them. The friend felt she was doing all the mother-chores for the adult children who were taking some advantage of her, showing little respect and taking on little responsibility. She and her husband were exhausted and frustrated.

So, in an act of desperation, the parents created a list of “expectations” – they called them rules – curfews, lunches, laundry etc. etc. They laid it all out – “If you are going to live in our home, this is what we expect.” It seemed quite reasonable to the parents. But with the children it was horrible. The son stormed out of the room stating he was moving out if he had to comply with them. The daughter raced out of the room and fled to her bedroom crying. “We are in a turmoil,” said her friend. What went wrong? What can we do?

My wife replied, “You made an excellent first step – writing down and presenting your expectations. However, you failed to do the second important step – give a person an opportunity to do some negotiations.”

When confronted with expectations that are being placed upon you, you have three options. You can say; “I’ll do it to the best of my ability.” Or you can say; “I’m sorry, I just can’t do it,” and explain the limitations that prevent that. But, there is a third option.” You can say; “Can we negotiate?” Managing expectations well, often requires some negotiation. This is the third essential.

  1. THEY MAY NEED TO BE NEGOTIATED

With negotiation, unrealistic expectations can be transformed into realistic expectations.

Here is a simple strategy for negotiating expectations:

  1. a) Identify the issue, problem, area of conflict.

  1. b) Choose the category. For example, it could be time spent together. Narrow it down to the conflict point:

“We miss having you home for supper.”

“I miss our date nights.” “We haven’t had a date night for weeks.”

“We need time to talk.”

“I am feeling very alone when it comes to family decisions.”

  1. c) Express your differing expectations re: the category you have chosen. Take turns, being sure to listen to each other. It might even be wise to write the expectations down.

  1. d) Focus on the problem, not the person. Sentences should begin with

“I think,” “I feel.” Don’t start sentences with “You!”

  1. e) Take time listening and speaking with a Christian attitude.

Phil. 2:2-4; Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. (NLT)

Be selfless, sacrificial and serving.

Eph. 4:25-32: So put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbour the truth” because we belong to each other. And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you, Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil…. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT)

Speak the truth (25)

Settle your differences quickly (26-27)

Speak constructively (29)

  1. f) Work toward a compromise. Adjust, revise, reject, create until you can agree on your expectations in the category you have chosen. They are now expressed and realistic! Write them down (just in case someone forgets!)

  1. g) Reinforce each other’s positive fulfilment of the expectations.

Re-evaluate regularly. It may require a little adjusting before you get it right.

Done over a period of time, you will soon establish a set of specific expectations for a variety of areas that have been clearly expressed. You have agreed on them. You have committed yourself to do them. You are accountable for them.

It must always be remembered, however, that some expectations are non negotiable. Certain legal, moral and biblical directives fall into this company. Parents, for example, can negotiate curfew hours, but never underage drinking or immoral conduct. Biblical absolutes are just that – absolutes!

Roles/Responsibilities

The scripture identifies a variety of roles in our society today. In Ephesians 5:22-6:9 there is the husband, wife, parent, child, slave (employee) and master (employer). In 1 Peter

As a father, my responsibility is not to exasperate my children (Eph. 6:4). Children are different. What exasperates one, may motivate another. This is where expectations come in.

As a husband I am to live with my wife in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). That is in the light of my understanding of her. Wives are different. What my wife needs from me may be very different from what your wife

needs from you. This is where expectations come in.

As a Christian leader I am to manage my family well, be above reproach, have a good reputation. As a Christian businessman, I am to be a person of integrity. What do these and many more biblical directives involve?

There is a sense in which our responsibilities in relationships are not fully defined until we have a clear set of agreed upon expectations. Then, and only then do I know my responsibilities.

Stability

What an amazing place to be in any relationship. Managing expectations is the price of peace in a marriage, a family, a business and a church. This may be an oversimplification, but I have often traced major “wars” between a husband and wife, parents and a child, members in a congregation, pastoral leaders and elders to the mismanagement of expectations.

When this problem is addressed and negotiated it can go a long way toward peace in a home or at a church.

Change

More than ever before, we are convinced today of the reality of three things in life; death, taxes and change. Change will come and it will affect your expectations.

Just consider a few such changes: the first child, an unexpected fourth child, a visit from the in-laws, grandparent moving in, a layoff at work, moving from a two career family to an one career family or visa versa, the results of a medical test, a child obtaining a driver’s license, leaving home for college, getting married, promotion at work, new responsibilities at church, retirement and a hundred more.

Any one of these changes will require some adjustment in your expectations. How will you know? You will feel a pinch in the relationship.

Pinch

It’s not a crisis. It’s not an explosion. It’s not a meltdown. It’s just a pinch. The change makes it less possible to meet the expectations that you have been meeting in one category or another. Or, it makes you feel as though your expectations are being ignored, neglected or overlooked. You feel short-changed. Something is different in the relationship.

This is when you ask yourself, your spouse, your child, your colleague, your associate: “Is there anything going on in our relationship right now, which, if it continues, will drive us apart in some way.” Expectations in one or more categories are not being met the way they once were. Why?

This is what we call a “CHOICE POINT.” Don’t ignore it in the interest of peace-keeping. You will only create a pseudo-peace. It will be artificial and superficial. Unless you identify the problem and address it, you certainly will drift apart. You will build up frustration and anger, become bitter and watch the relationship deteriorate.

An unforgettable Candid Camera’s episode illustrates the point. An undercover actor enters a diner, sits at the counter beside a person eating a hamburger and french-fries. He quickly reaches over and helps himself to a french-fry off the person’s plate. The neighbour notices it, frowns, but turns away and ignores it. Another fry is taken, eaten, then another. No reaction from the neighbour, just frowns, scowls, disgusted looks. Several different neighbours were subjected to the same treatment. Not one person said anything. They internalized their frustrations and irritation. They obviously wanted to keep the peace but it was a pseudo-peace. Underneath there was lots of agitation. This type of thing is relived in real life over and over again.

Don’t ignore the pinch. Something is gong on which will drive you apart if you don’t do anything about it. Something has changed and it’s affecting your relationship. You are trying to keep the peace but you are slowly losing it.

So what do you do when you feel the pinch? You go back to the first line; EXPECTATIONS. Identify the category which has been affected by the change in your life. It could be time spent together, curfew, sermon preparation time, or any one of the categories you came up with when you deal with expectations. Now you renegotiate the expectations in that category.

The “Pinch” is a CHOICE POINT. It’s the time for a PLANNED RENEGOTIATION. Do not renegotiate every category of “Expectations,” just the expectations affected by the life-change at that time.

xxx Disruptions xxx

Disruptions occur because of the violation of expectations. Anxiety, resentment, blaming, guilt, anger, bitterness are just some of the unhealthy fruits.

Far too often, this is when the pastor or marriage/family counsellor enters the picture. There have been months, even years of mismanaged expectations. There are emotional bruises and scars, shattered dreams, devastated self images.

This brings us to the second CHOICE POINT.

Crunch

At this point a person has at least four options:

  1. EXIT: We may choose to terminate the relationship. It is generally hurtful, resentful, painful, even a devastating conclusion. In marriage it is a divorce. In family it’s a moving out. In our work it’s a resignation. In ministry it’s leaving a church. Often it’s unbiblical. Never is it easy. It may actually be unnecessary because there is a better option.

  1. QUIT AND STAY: We may choose to stay in the relationship but withdraw from any ownership, participation and responsibility. The husband or wife quits the marriage but stays until the children have all left home. The couple quits the church but decide to stay in the church for the sake of the children who love the youth ministry. The teenager quits the family but stays in the home until he/she leaves for work or college. The elder or Sunday school teacher withdraws from participation – just fulfills their term but no joy in ministry. Every case is a sad, pathetic story – settling for so much less when there is a better option.

  1. FORGIVE AND FORGET: This is the option most Christians choose when the situation is not too serious. We may go back to the second line in our model – ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES. We review our biblical roles and responsibilities, face up to the fact that we have failed to live up to them, apologize, ask for forgiveness and promise to try harder. The problems have not been settled or addressed and we probably will be shortly repeating the cycle through the PINCH down to the CRUNCH again.

This is a PREMATURE RECONCILIATION. It’s a reconciliation for sure, but has the cause actually been addressed? Too often they are setting themselves up for a repeat breakdown in the relationship. This is a poor solution because there is a better option.

  1. The PRESSURED RENEGOTIATION: This is the fourth and preferred choice. It requires returning to the top line of our model and renegotiating expectations. Not all of them, just the categories affected by the changes and disruptions creating the crisis.

Check the completed model in the next illustration.

Did you notice the two CHOICE POINTS: PINCH and CRUNCH? Which of the two is the preferred choice point? Of course, it’s at the PINCH in any relationship. Recognize it and act on it. Don’t wait for the CRUNCH!! It’s so much more painful and difficult. Avoid it at all costs.

Did you notice there are three strategies?

PLANNED RENEGOTIATION

PREMATURE RECONCILIATION

PRESSURED RENEGOTIATION

Which of the three is preferred? Of course, it’s the PLANNED RENEGOTIAION. The PREMATURE RECONCILIATION doesn’t eliminate the cause. The PRESSURED RENEGOTIATION is acting with an ultimatum on the table. So much better to plan to renegotiate any expectations affected by a life-change at the time of the life-change. That’s really being smart!!

Think about a relationship which you are in – whether at home, at work or at church. Where do you place yourself on the Expectations model? If you are at STABILITY, then you know why you are there – you have in one way or another expressed and negotiated the expectations pertaining to that relationship and for the most part those expectations are being met. If you are at the PINCH you don’t have to stay there – you know what to do. Change has come into the relationship. Think about the category that has been affected by that life-change. Now renegotiate those expectations. Many relationships today are feeling the CRUNCH. They find themselves in a desperate situation not knowing where to turn. Now there is hope. Don’t QUIT, QUIT AND STAY or just FORGIVE AND FORGET. Go back to the EXPECTATIONS, think through the categories where the relationship is falling apart and renegotiate those expectations.

Here is the goal in all of our lives:

Unity and Stability in the church. This is God’s ideal as we see in Ephesians 4:1-6

Harmony and Stability in the home. This is God’s ideal, as well, and in Ephesians 5:21 – 6:4 we see the critical factors to achieve this.

Harmony and Stability in the workplace. Ephesians 6:5-9 offers the critical factors, once again.

Unfulfilled Expectations

Not only do men and women have different expectations, they often handle unfulfilled expectations differently. Take wives for example. Martie Stowell in Promises Promises (p, 177) writes;

“A wife has assumptions about time with her husband, about money, about meals and about the children. Her husband has different assumptions. So every time he acts in some way that differs from her assumptions, she feels as though he has broken a promise to her.”

The effect; she feels betrayed and crushed. This, of course, is not really the case. What has happened here? There has been a failure to express, discuss, negotiate and agree upon a set of expectations in these categories. Think of the damage done when a wife thinks her husband has broken a promise. This can all be avoided through better management of expectations.

How do men, characteristically, handle unfulfilled expectations? They feel personal rejection. They feel neglected and usually withdraw or become aggressive and redirect their energy to their job, sports or hobby. This can all be avoided also! Now you know how to do it!!

What About Our God Relationship?

After all, our relationship with God is the most important of all. It is our primary relationship affecting every other relationship. Understanding and meeting expectations are as important in our relationship with God as with one another.

The Bible makes an important distinction between being a creature of God and a child of God. We are all His creatures; every breath we breathe is a gift from our Creator. Speaking of God’s Son, Jesus, coming into this world of humanity, John 1:11 says; “He came unto his own and his own received him not.” Then verse 12 says; “Yet to all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

That’s the difference. Children of God have personally received Christ into their life, recognizing He is the Son of God who died to pay the penalty for their sin. This is what God expects.

When we receive Christ into our life, turning from our sin, trusting Him to become our Saviour, we are delivered from the penalty of our sin. We are committing ourselves to be one of Christ’s followers. That’s what God expects of us. That person becomes a child of God.

1 John 5:12 – “He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

What can followers of Christ expect of God? Forgiveness; a personal relationship with God as our Father; a new life with the joy of the Lord, the peace of God, the guidance and energizing of the Holy Spirit, the privilege of prayer, a new freedom and ultimately a home in heaven.

If you have never received Jesus Christ personally into your life perhaps this prayer from The Four Spiritual Laws will help to guide you.

“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins, I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

TRUMP (NOT THE PRES)

April 2, 2017

It’s traumatic when thieves steal your identity and your money, but there is something far more traumatic and tragic, namely, when spiritual con artists, who claim to be Christian, deceive the unsuspecting. The stakes are much higher than someone’s life savings. The eternal destiny of souls is at risk! Since the days of the New Testament, Satan has planted these deceivers in Christian churches, where they prey on the untaught or on those who are disgruntled. To avoid spiritual deception, you must develop biblical discernment and be vigilant at all times.

But we live in a day when the whole idea of spiritual discernment is minimized because spiritual truth is minimized. The slogan is, “Doctrine divides. Let’s set aside our doctrinal differences and come together on the areas where we agree.” Another popular mantra is, “Jesus said that they will know that we are His disciples by our love, not by our doctrine.” The implication is, “Set aside your doctrinal views and accept anyone who says that he believes in Jesus.” Tolerance, unity, and love are viewed as much more important than doctrinal truth, which often smacks of pride.

I have had my share of unpleasant encounters with those who arrogantly claim to have the truth. They beat you up with it, not showing much grace or kindness. But we should not allow such experiences to cause us to throw out the biblical emphasis on sound doctrine. It is not a minor theme in the Bible!

It is highly significant that John, the apostle of love, who has just written that love is an essential mark of the true Christian (2:7-11), now calls these false teachers “antichrists” and “liars”! He doesn’t call them “brothers in Christ,” who just have different ways of understanding things. He makes it plain that they were trying to deceive the true Christians and that they were not Christian in any sense of the term. True biblical love is not divorced from an emphasis on biblical truth. To compromise the truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ is to be hateful to the core, because such error results in the eternal damnation of those who embrace it.

In these verses, John applies his third test by which you may evaluate the soundness of a teacher, as well as your own life. He has already given us the moral test of obedience to God’s commandments (2:3-6). He has given the relational test of love (2:7-11). Now he gives the doctrinal test of truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ (2:18-27). He says,

To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people and doctrine.

The section (2:18-27) falls into three parts. In 2:18-20, John shows that to avoid spiritual deception, you must develop discernment with regard to people. In 2:21-23, he shows that you must develop discernment with regard to doctrine, especially, the truth about Jesus Christ. In 2:24-27 (which we will study next week), he shows that the means of developing such discernment is to abide in the Word and in the Spirit.

  1. To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people (2:18-20).

John contrasts the false teachers with true believers. He addresses all of his readers as “children,” (see 2:13), implying their vulnerability and the need to be on guard against these unprincipled men who were trying to deceive them (2:26). As a wise spiritual father, John is giving important counsel that will help us avoid being deceived.

He says, “It is the last hour.” The way that we know it is the last hour is that “many antichrists have appeared.” Some have said that John mistakenly thought that Jesus would return in his lifetime. Such a view undermines the divine inspiration of Scripture. If you buy into it, you cannot trust anything that the apostles wrote. You become the judge of Scripture according to what strikes you as true. This view also impugns the intelligence of the apostles. John had heard Jesus say that no one knows the hour of His coming (Matt. 24:36). It is not reasonable to accuse him of being mistaken here about the time of the second coming.

Rather, John is calling the entire period between Jesus’ ascension and His return “the last hour.” No one knows how long this period will last, but the phrase, “the last hour,” implies a sense of urgency, in that Jesus may come at any moment. Jesus concludes His teaching on the end times with this application to the wise hearer: “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (Mark 13:33).

John says that a distinguishing feature of this age is that antichrist is coming and that even now many antichrists have appeared. John is the only New Testament writer to use this word, and it only occurs five times in four verses (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). But the concept of the antichrist is more frequent. Daniel 7 talks about the horn and Revelation 13 talks about the beast, both of which refer to antichrist. Paul (2 Thess. 2:1-12) mentions the man of lawlessness who will exalt himself and display himself as being God. His coming will be “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9). He will deceive many, who will perish. When John says that antichrist is coming, he refers to this future evil leader.

But when he says, “even now many antichrists have appeared,” he means that the evil spirit that will characterize the final antichrist is already working in these false teachers who have left the churches. The prefix, “anti,” can mean either “instead of” or “in opposition to.” It may contain both ideas here. The false teachers rise up within the church and present a system that subtly presents something instead of Jesus Christ. The false teacher may use the same label, “Jesus Christ,” but he will not be the same Jesus that is presented in the Bible. If a gullible person takes the bait, he is led farther away until finally he is in total opposition to Christ.

These false teachers, whom John labels antichrists, did not carry pitchforks and wear red suits with horns and a tail, or T-shirts saying, “Warning: I am an antichrist!” Rather, they arose in the churches. Some of them may have been elders or pastors, who for a while had taught the truth. Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Now these men were leaving the churches to form new groups, saying, “We have come into a deeper knowledge of the truth. Follow us and we’ll let you in on this secret knowledge.” John gives three guidelines to watch for:

  1. BEWARE: SATAN WORKS IN THE REALM OF RELIGION.

False teachers invariably adopt Christian terminology and posture themselves as being Christians, but they are not. They usually begin within the church (2:19) and at first, their teaching is orthodox. They often have attractive personalities and they build a following of people who seem to be helped by their teaching.

But, eventually, they begin subtly to veer from the truth. There may be multiple motives. Sometimes, they fall into immorality, and to justify their sin, they have to deny Scripture. Or, they may love the acclaim of being popular, along with the financial rewards that often go along with a successful ministry. It feels good to be in demand as a speaker, to stay in luxury hotels and speak to large crowds. As a man’s popularity grows, he grows in power. He hires a loyal group of lieutenants who carry out his wishes. No one dares to challenge the man’s teaching or lifestyle, even though he is preaching heresy and living in disobedience to Scripture. But, in spite of his deviance, he is still trafficking in the realm of religion.

Note, also, that there has never been a perfect church, even in New Testament times while the apostles were still living. We sometimes idealize the early church, thinking that if we could just get back to the New Testament principles, we wouldn’t have all of the problems that we constantly battle in the modern church.

But, these early churches had gone through the damage of false teachers in their midst, who now had left the churches to form new groups. Undoubtedly, they took with them people from the churches. Whenever that happens, those who still are in the church are confused and wounded. They wonder, “Why did our friends leave? They claim that they have found the truth now and that we are in the dark. Maybe there are problems here. Maybe we should leave, too.” This is how the enemy has worked from the earliest days of the church. Don’t be surprised when it happens.

  1. BEWARE OF ANYONE WHO BREAKS FROM THE TRUE CHURCH TO FORM A NEW GROUP WITH NEW THEOLOGY.

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (2:19). John’s words here do not apply to people who get disgruntled in one evangelical church and leave to join or form another evangelical church. While that practice is usually regrettable and sad, it is wrong to label those who left as heretics, unless they also have abandoned core Christian truth.

Heretics not only eventually separate themselves from true Christians to form their own groups, but also, they deviate from orthodox Christian doctrine on major issues. They claim that they have the truth and that others do not, or that they now see things that others do not see. And, invariably they try to recruit others from within the church to join them.

While such situations are painful and unpleasant, John’s words here should prepare us not to be surprised or disheartened when it happens. If it happened to the churches under John’s care, it can and will happen to churches today. But, when it happens, we need to think biblically about some issues.

First, true Christians are born of God. The key issue with these false teachers was, they were not of us. They did not share the new life in Christ that brings us into His body, the church. So, they felt free to leave. You can be on the membership list of the church without having experienced the new birth. While I believe that it’s important to join a church, it is far more important to make sure that you’re truly of the church through the new birth.

Second, if you truly know Christ, you will persevere with the church. It is imperfect. It contains difficult and irritating people. But, it is family! You were born into it through the new birth, and so was everyone else who has truly trusted Christ. While you may not have picked these folks to be in your family, God picked them and you’ve got to learn to get along with them! Although they often grate like sandpaper against your soul, it’s by persevering with them that God smoothes your rough edges. You will experience hurt feelings and misunderstandings if you get involved in a local church! Be committed to work through these matters. Don’t bail out on the church!

Third, note that John was more concerned about purity of doctrine than he was about church growth or unity. He never says, “We should go after these dear brothers and bring them back!” Or, “Let’s set aside our differences and love these men.” Rather, he says in effect, “Their departure shows their true colors. Let them go!” Of course, we need to evaluate the seriousness of the doctrinal matter at hand. Sometimes sincere Christians have to agree to disagree or even to work in separate parts of the Lord’s vineyard. But if the doctrinal issue is a core matter of the faith, purity is much more important than unity or church growth. We should not measure a church’s success by the numbers who attend, but rather by its faithfulness to the truth of the gospel.

So John says, “Beware, Satan works in the realm of religion. Beware of anyone who breaks from the true church to form a new group with new theology.”

  1. BEWARE OF ANYONE WHO OFFERS “NEW TRUTH” THAT OTHERS HAVE MISSED.

The test of orthodoxy is submission and adherence to the apostolic teaching contained in the New Testament. If someone comes up with some new “truth” that no one else has discovered since the days of the apostles, beware! The heretics claimed that they had now been initiated into a deeper level of truth than the average church member had experienced. It always flatters our pride to think that we have some level of truth that others lack, or we have had some special spiritual experience that other poor souls are missing out on. These false teachers were claiming such knowledge and offering it as bait to those who had yet to be enlightened.

This is probably the background to verse 20. There is a textual variant here. The KJV (and New KJV) follows the reading, “you know all things.” Most other versions follow the reading (probably original), “you all know.” John is telling his readers that spiritual knowledge is not restricted to some elite inner circle. Rather, they all know the truth of the gospel because they all have the anointing from the Holy One, which refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit that Jesus, the Holy One, promised to send.

The false teachers may have been using the word “anointing” as a technical term for being initiated into their special gnosis, or knowledge (John Stott, The Epistles of John [Eerdmans], p. 107). But John takes their term and uses it of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of the new birth, God’s Spirit opens our blind eyes to see the truth about our sinfulness and the all-sufficiency of what Christ did on the cross to pay for our sins. This simple gospel message is what these believers had heard from the beginning (2:24). Rather than moving on from it to some “new truth,” they needed to abide in the old gospel truth that they had believed from the start.

So John’s first point is that to avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14, 15). But, they are liars and deceivers!

  1. To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of doctrine (2:21-23).

The late philosophy professor Allan Bloom began his 1987 best-seller, The Closing of the American Mind ([Simon and Schuster], p. 25), “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” He goes on to say (pp. 25-26), “The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating.”

He was right: We live in a day that has rejected the idea of absolute truth, especially in the spiritual realm. It smacks of arrogance to say that you know the truth and that others who do not share your view are wrong. You’re free to have your own spiritual opinions, as long as you don’t claim that your view is the only true view.

This prevailing tenant of postmodernism has now invaded the church through “the emergent church.” This growing movement downplays preaching (what could be more arrogant than for one man to stand up and say that he is proclaiming the truth?). And it magnifies sharing personal experiences in an accepting, non-judgmental atmosphere.

Notice how contrary this is to John’s statement in 2:20, “you all know,” and to 2:21: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” That sure sounds like John believed in absolute truth in the spiritual realm, and that you can know when you’re right and others are wrong! There are three implications here, which I can only touch on briefly:

  1. SOUND DOCTRINE REALLY MATTERS!

John says (2:23), “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father.” He goes on to say (2:25) that all of this concerns God’s promise to us about eternal life. That’s fairly important! If you deny the truth about God’s Son as revealed in the New Testament, you do not have the Father and you do not have eternal life!

A popular sentimental, syrupy view goes, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.” When you share Christ with someone who buys into this thinking, he will respond, “It’s nice that you believe that, but I have my own beliefs.” According to this view, sincerity is the main thing; truth doesn’t matter. That is utter nonsense! You can sincerely drink poison, believing that it is medicine, but it will kill you just the same. Sound doctrine really matters!

  1. SOUND DOCTRINE IS INEXTRICABLY LINKED WITH A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

John says that if you deny the Son, you do not have the Father. He goes on to talk about abiding in the Son and the Father (2:24). “Abiding” is John’s word for fellowship or a close relationship with God. His point is that if you deny cardinal truth about Jesus Christ and yet claim to know God, you are deceiving yourself. This is not to say that a new believer must be able to give precisely correct theological statements about the trinity or the two natures of Christ in order to be truly saved. But it is to say that if someone knowingly makes heretical statements about Christ and is not open to correction, his salvation is suspect. Sound doctrine necessarily goes along with a genuine personal relationship with God.

  1. SOUND DOCTRINE ABOUT THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL.

Most heresies go astray with regard to the person or work of Jesus Christ. John Calvin pointed out that since Christ is the sum of the gospel, heretics especially aim their arrows at Him. The only way that we can know the Father is through the Son (John 14:6). These false teachers were denying that Jesus is the Christ (2:22). This probably was more than a denial that Jesus was the Old Testament Messiah. The context here, which refers to Jesus as the Son of God and which closely links the Father and the Son, indicates that these false teachers denied the full deity of Jesus Christ. They denied the incarnation, that God took on human flesh in the virgin birth of Jesus. They taught that “the Christ” came upon the human Jesus at His baptism and departed at His crucifixion. John says that they denied both the Father and the Son.

The modern cults all go astray on the person and work of Jesus Christ. They deny His deity and His substitutionary death on the cross. They deny the trinity. Some of them speak in Gnostic fashion of “the Christ within us all.” By denying the Son of God, they do not have the Father. In the words of this apostle of love, they are liars, deceivers, and antichrists.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Truly, Truly

March 31, 2017

It doesn’t matter if TV or the movies paint them as funny, emotional, gifted, misunderstood, passionate. Homosexuality is a sin. I am grieved that major charities like the Salvation Army and other charities afraid of lawsuits and loss of funding have committed to the idea that homosexuality is not a sin. That is the official stance of the national office. There is hope that the majority officers still believe in the bible. The salvation army has declared over and over that it doesn’t matter what the bible says about poverty or homosexuality, or even insurance for “alternate spouses”.

Any decision based on fear is a wrong decision, I hope the following shows what the bible truly says and the grace and forgiveness God has for all people.

Lev 18:22 You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is a detestable act.

This straightforward law prohibits all homosexual acts. It makes no distinctions as to whether or not they were consensual. It comes in the midst of a section of laws related to sexual relationships. No consequence is given here in each verse for the individual laws, but rather they are all listed as things that must not be done. All of the items in this chapter’s list are said to “defile” (Lev. 18:24) and are called “abominations” (Lev. 18:27, 30).

Rom 1:20-32 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. (21) For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. (22) Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools (23) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. (24) Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. (25) They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

(26) For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, (27) and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (28) And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. (29) They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, (30) slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, (31) senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. (32) Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

This text discusses homosexuality more extensively than any other New Testament passage. However, homosexuality is not the overarching theme of this section. Paul wants to clearly explain the gospel. To do that though, it is necessary to show that all people are under God’s judgment and condemnation—and thus in need of the gospel. He starts by declaring that because the testimony of God is visible in nature all are without excuse for their rebellion against Him. The just wrath of God is on all ungodliness (Rom. 1). Then he shows that in condemning the sin of others we actually condemn ourselves (Rom. 2). Likewise even the Jewish people with the law are still fully under God’s condemnation for their sin. Furthermore they are incapable of remedying the situation (Rom. 2-3). Thus it does not matter whether one is apart from the law or under it. All people stand condemned without partiality. This paves the way for explaining God’s grace in Jesus—which is the good news of the gospel. There is indeed one way of deliverance from this predicament.

So this section on homosexuality occurs in the portion showing why God’s wrath is upon humanity, and how humanity is inexcusable before Him. Before moving to the negative, Paul starts with the positive good news that he is intent on sharing. The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel which is received by faith (Rom. 1:17). By contrast the wrath of God is revealed as being upon the ungodliness of mankind (Rom. 1:18). Where is this ungodliness seen? Where is this suppressing of the truth seen? It is seen in the inexcusable idolatry of humanity. All have seen in creation the invisible attributes of God, His eternal power and nature (Rom. 1:19-20). However instead of worshipping the true creator, humanity moved to idolatry and worshipping creation (Rom. 1:23-25). The existence of nature demands that there be a designer. This truth is suppressed and turned to the worship of self or some other created thing. One of God’s judgments for this behavior is the turning over of humanity to their own sinful desires (Rom. 1:24). This giving over to sinfulness and its consequences specifically includes homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-28). It also includes a whole list of other sins more briefly mentioned (Rom. 1:29-32).

God has designed men and women with functional capabilities. According to this text these capabilities are rebelled against through homosexual acts.

From this text then, we see that homosexuality is an example of God having delivered people over to the consequences of having rebelled against Him. It is not the only sin listed, but is indeed the highlighted one. It seems that this example is given because homosexuality diametrically opposes the clear design of God. God made people in His image (Gen. 1:27) with a built in complementary design in the marriage of a male to a female (Gen. 2:22-25). To commit actions clearly opposite God’s plan at the nature level distinctly declare the reality of rebellion. It declares that God’s very design and plan were wrong and inadequate. As it is listed here, homosexuality and the rest of the sins listed, are a part of God’s immediate (though not final) judgment. Sin is a judgment upon itself—in that it reaps what it sows. Additionally, the willful exchange of the truth of God for a lie can result in God delivering people over to a depraved mind. One’s ability to reason or view things in an accurate moral way can be seriously impaired (Rom. 1:28).

However, lest any become self-righteous, Paul immediately moves on to showing that all are condemned under sin. Indeed, condemning the sin of others condemns oneself (Rom. 2:1-5). The only reason Paul can share any of this in a worthwhile way is because he is not relying on his own righteousness. He is relying on the righteousness of God. This has been given to him in Christ Jesus by the grace of God. He himself has been forgiven of his sin. The point was not to condemn others in order to justify himself. The point was to make clear the existence of sin for every individual so that the grace of God that had rescued him could be shared with fellow humans who needed deliverance just like he had needed it.

The same purpose and point that Paul had here in the book of Romans remains for Christians to share today. We too are fellow sinners. We too were under God’s full and immense wrath. I too am a sinner condemned by these truths. By God’s grace we may be forgiven. Yet even with that grace, in ourselves we are not any better than anyone else. We have nothing of which to boast. This shows God’s work to be that much more amazing. That He would love and redeem us while we were His enemies in such a deep rebellion against Him is almost incomprehensible. This same grace that has changed and is changing our lives and that will bring us eternity with God in a perfected existence is available to the whole world. No person, gender, race, nationality, ethnic group, class, or any other possible division is excluded from this offer of the gift of grace. This is the grace Christians should be offering, because it is the true grace of God.

1 Cor. 6:9-11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, (10) thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. (11) Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Unequivocally then this is a strong and definitive statement about sin and its consequences as well as about the one way to be rescued from them. In this context Paul is powerfully reminding the Corinthian church that these kinds of behavior are not compatible with the kingdom of God. In this portion of the book Paul has been dealing with quite a number of behavioral and ethical problems that have been plaguing the church. Their former behaviors were influencing their lives presently in a completely inappropriate way. Apparently it had gotten so bad that Paul even challenged them in a following letter to examine themselves to see whether they had truly become believers (2 Cor. 13:5).

These sins in and of themselves were nothing that would keep them from truly accepting the grace of God and becoming children of God. However a continuation in them as a manner of life11 would be an indication that they were not truly believers and not going to inherit the kingdom of God (cf. 1 John 3). Quite helpfully for us today, this is a clear statement that some of the Corinthians had become believers out of that manner of life. This should lead us to at least two conclusions:

  1. Like other sins, homosexual behavior may be forgiven. God’s grace is not limited by this or any other sin. As Romans 5:20 states:

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)

  1. Since Christians have come out of such sins, they should be the ones most desirous to share God’s love with others. As 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 states:

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away — look, what is new has come! (18) And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (19) In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. (20) Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” (21) God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com