suicide is special

October 22, 2017

Well today was a tough day, I had to do a funeral for a youth pastor that committed suicide. What made it tougher was his home church, the one he worked in refused to do his service as they were sure he went to hell.

After sex, the second most predominant idea in a college kid is suicide.

I’ve lost several good friends to self death, including some relatives it has been an area that I’ve struggled with for many years. To me it’s kind of like the chicken or the egg which came first, is it always depression than suicide or is it shame and them suicide. Fear than suicide.

This is the third person in ministry that I’ve done the funeral of due to suicide.

This is one topic I may change my mind on, but here’s my current thinking.

Since the early days of the church, suicide has been considered a grievous sin. Theologically, it is seen as an act of subverting God’s will.  Because we belong to our Creator and not ourselves, self-murder is on par with murdering another person.

However, all sin is a subversion of God’s will. So how and why did suicide become an “unpardonable sin”? Augustine asserted that suicide was an unrepentable sin based on the fact that “Thou shalt not kill” didn’t exclude oneself. Catholic thinker Thomas Aquinas lent his support on three points: suicide opposes love, it hurts the greater community, and it usurps God’s right to determine the length of his creation’s earthly life. In the Middle Ages, the doctrine was simply that suicide cuts short a person’s relationship with God. The view that suicide doomed one to hell continued with the Catholic church’s view that those who die with unabsolved mortal sin are bound to hell.

Protestant reformation leaders strongly condemned suicide, but generally disagreed with the Catholic church’s stance that suicide would condemn a person to hell. The reformers preached salvation through grace alone, and therefore, it is neither earned nor lost by human works–including suicide. Reformers also opposed the Catholic view as unsupported by Scripture.

Suicide is all that the church has labelled it: a tragedy, a sin, usurping God’s rights. It leaves deep scars on the family, church and community. It is a horrible and painful occurance. But, I believe that we are saved by grace alone, and Jesus’ righteousness clothes even the most wretched sinners, and that nothing can separate us from God’s love, and therefore could answer my friend confidently. There would be many days of pain and regret and healing ahead of them, but they didn’t have to add to that the thought that this Christ-follower was eternally doomed.

Trust me I’ve heard all the arguments, “oh, they weren’t really saved” or “they must have backslid.” I’ve heard pastors preach long time members of the church into hell. Some say, “we must always send them to hell to discourage others.”

What about the fat slob in your church that eat KFC three times a day and we preach him into heaven, with a knowing look of sadness but forgiveness. Death by Cop, death by donut, death by speeding. It’s all about death.

Having been in attendance on both sides of the fence for S.O.S (survivors of suicide) I will tell you the pain and loss of those let behind is a hell all of its own.

I know many folks that survived their suicide attempt and they were all screaming in their head as the bullet thundered down the barrel, “oh God let me live”.

It’s not the answer, but we have to many people living to much in themselves and not living in Christ. As a tag to yesterday’s devotion, “self interest” can lead to self death.”

If your struggling with this issue trust me I know firsthand how the impulse can be so strong, so sudden and seemingly the best answer, it’s not.

Please tell someone, several someone’s, if there is a secret in your life, trust me, tell the secret to someone, shame disappears when it’s no longer a secret.

Please reach out to us at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember I only check my email for this site at 1030 pm central time.

Call 1-800-273-8255 for the national suicide hotline 24/7

Blessings, peace and love, God bless the troubled.

Green and Mean

October 17, 2017

In the Marines they used to say, “there is no black, there is no white there is just green. And then there is the Law, you will follow every order…”

Semper Fi, just the Corp, all green, all Marine.

Wow, pretty simple, no Black Panthers, the Weathermen, Brown Berets, KKK, Aryan Army, no Black Lives matters. (half of you probably never heard of some of these terms, which is good thing).

Just folks, you and me, me and Jesus, you and Jesus. Christianity is and was the great equalizer. It was and is radical. No historical figure ever said, “come unto to me all that are heavy burdened.”

All, the gospel of Luke, follows the story through the genealogical trail of women. The book of Ruth, no direct mention of God, just His shadow.

In the book of Genesis, the first chapter “the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.” It is a feminine noun, in Egyptian it is the hieroglyphic of a mother bird, hovering over its nest.

No Race, no color, the bible says Jesus had no appearance or figure, shape, outward shape that was distinguished or notable. He was average.

Simple, we inhabit one planet, we are the human race, one family of being. Follow the law.

You want to not get shot by a cop, follow the law, when he says drop the gun, drop the gun, when he says get out of the car get out of the car. Respect and politeness goes a long way.

It’s not about race, it’s about obedience. We can have anarchy or we can have peace.

Follow God’s law and the same thing happens, peace.

Follow God’s plan, know peace.

Do you know that in the early history of America, you couldn’t become a lawyer until you had a Divinity Degree, because our laws are based on the bible. My how times have changed.

Well I told you no more questions, follow the plan.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ABIDING

October 7, 2017

  “The God of peace . . . working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ” (Heb. 13:20, 21).

  Abiding involves a dual choice. We can abide in the old nature and thereby become the victims of the internal civil war as depicted in Romans Seven. Or, we can abide (rest) in the risen Lord Jesus, the Source of our new nature, and thereby become the glad recipients of His life and liberty, as depicted in Romans Eight. “The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).

  “How do we abide? ‘Of God are ye in Christ Jesus’ (1 Cor. 1:30). It is all the work of God to place you there, and He has done it. Now stay there! Do not be moved back onto the ground of the old nature. Never look at yourself as though you were not in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Look at Him and see yourself a new creation in Him. Look at Him as the very source of your Christian life. Abide in Him. Rest in the fact that God has placed you in eternal union with His Son, and let the Holy Spirit take care of His work in you. It is for Him to make good the glorious promise that sin shall not have dominion over you’ (Rom. 6:14).”

  “We should be spared years of struggle and failure if we learned at once—as the converts did in the days of Paul—that we ourselves were taken through the death of the Lord Jesus. The past blotted out, the pardoned sinner accounted crucified with the crucified Lord, henceforth joined as a new creation to the risen Lord and now sharing His life (Rom. 5:10).”

  “The Lord Jesus is all that we need for all that we are.”

  “Your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

This last bible verse, has yielded to me 32 sermons, study this verse Col 3.3 every day, every moment, let it not drift far from your thoughts and you will see great victory come into your life. Rest. Peace. Victory. Yours.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Kevin D, 15 years old, broke up with his first girlfriend, you’ve all been there.

Pray for Jennifer N, new born baby (literally today) a host of complications.

 

the true mark

September 29, 2017

The subject of positive self esteem, love yourself, self love, our self-concept or self-image creates a kind of paradox. The Bible-believing Christian knows that he is a sinner, that in himself dwells no good thing, and that in himself he has no merit with God; yet, like a paradox, at the same time, he also knows, as a creation of God, created in God’s image and redeemed by His grace, he has value and purpose in life.

So how do we hit a proper balance? How do we avoid the self-centered approach and focus of the world and at the same time have a biblical concept of self, a proper viewpoint of our own value and purpose that sets us free to serve the living God, that sets us free from those thoughts and feelings that tie us in knots and ruin our personalities, create false agendas and motives that so people are incapacitated for ministry?

That we think properly about ourselves is important and is even commanded in Scripture. In Romans 12:3, the apostle wrote, “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.”

The basic word for “think” in this passage is proneo, which means “think, form or hold an opinion, judge.” “Sober discernment,” is sophroneo, “be of sound mind.” It means “to be in one’s right mind, be reasonable, keep one’s head.” But first, the apostle warns us against thinking more highly of ourselves than we should.” The Greek word here is huperphroneo, “to think too highly of oneself, to be haughty.” Ironically, quite contrary to our society today, the apostle does not warn against thinking too little of ourselves. Regardless, the sound thinking Paul is calling for is grounded in biblical revelation and faith in the work of God for us in Christ. Paul is calling for thinking and personal evaluation based on the authority of God’s revelation and on the facts of God and His grace. It means we are to look at ourselves through the lenses of Scripture.

To Timothy, whom some expositors have nick named “Timid Tim” because he seems to have been having problems with his self-confidence (or confidence in God’s gifts and ministry for his life), Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (or sound-mind thinking). The Greek word for “discipline” here is related to the word used for thinking in Romans 12:3. It is sophronismos from sophron, “sensible, prudent.” It comes from sos, “safe, sound, and phren, “the heart, the mind, or the inner man.” Sophronismos refers to “control, self-discipline, prudence” that stems from right thinking. A controlled life, one that demonstrates self-discipline stems from soundness of mind, from knowing and acting on the truth of Scripture in the light of God’s grace in Christ. In both passages, Romans 12:3 and 2 Timothy 1:7, the context deals with God’s gifts to us and the bold expression of those gifts in loving ministry for the sake of the body of Christ.

Thinking properly about ourselves stems from right thinking about God, but then that extends to right thinking about others so that it results in a freedom to serve according to the grace of God.

Now, let’s ask some questions: What am I worth as a person? Do I feel good about who I am or do I wish I was someone else? Have I accepted who I am as a person, not my sin or sinful habits, but the uniqueness God has created in me as a person (Ps. 139:13-14)? How we answer these questions may play a key role in what we do with our lives, how we live our lives, in the joy we experience in life, in the way we treat others, and in how we respond to people and to God. “Research has shown that we tend to act in harmony with our mental self-portrait. If we don’t like the kind of person we are, we think no one else likes us either. And that influences our social life, our job performance, our relationships with others.”

A biblical concept of self developed out of our concept of God and His grace is important to solid spiritual maturity, to ministry, to our ability to lead others, and especially to our ability to be servants. Without a biblical concept of self, we end up playing spiritual king-of-the-mountain and engage in promoting personal agendas to build up a sagging ego. We seek from position, power, and praise what we should get from resting in God’s grace.

Thus, in order to effectively lead or minister to others we must think biblically about who we are. This means two key things: (a) we need to know our abilities and limitations while (b) always keeping in mind a biblical view of God, His grace to us in Christ, and knowing our sufficiency is always in God regardless of our abilities or weaknesses (see 2 Cor. 2:16-3:6).

Why is thinking in these terms so important? Because without it we will vacillate between fear and pride or between insecurity and overconfidence. Without this we will become either withdrawn and introverted or we will find ourselves running around in a hubbub of activity trying to feel good about ourselves because of our achievements. Paul’s spiritual maturity and qualification as a leader is seen in his freedom to serve others because, resting in who he was in Christ as a servant called of God by grace, he was not seeking to protect a poor self-image or to impress men with his greatness (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:1-6).

It’s all about balance, self identity, who am I, and why am I here. Talk about this topic with teens, young adults and college students; and not give empty rhetoric and blasé platitudes and you will pack out the house. Add to that have the meeting in a non-traditional place and wow, you will have people come that will never walk into a church. (until you show them it’s relevant.)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Roger D, and Jennifer, cataract surgery coming up soon, they’re both a little bit afraid.

Susanna B, against all advice from all her family, she went and had face surgery, (plastic) it went really wrong. The emotional damage done right now is epic.

 

THE GOSPEL OF MARKED

September 28, 2017

THE GOSPEL OF MARKED

That’s not a misprint, I’m just curious, what does your bible look like?

Is it covered in dust? Has it been broken in, taken for spin, is your name in it?

Have you marked any passages?

My great grandmother a very godly woman, her bible had some newspaper clippings, obits, and wedding announcements, the presentation page had her name on it only because her mother filled it out. But there was not a mark in that bible other than being extremely worn from her daily bible reading.

Some people have their bible color coded, symbols, underlines, 50 bookmarks.

Being a preacher I have so many different bibles, some look untouched, some are collectible, rare, previously owned and filled with notes. Bibles and hymnals, bookshelves full. My preaching bible since 1987 is gray and held together with duct tape, I’ve thought of having it rebound by Leonard’s Book Binding, but the bible has a certain feel.

One time I was visiting a church while on vacation and the pastor didn’t show up, no one knew where he was. A deacon yelled out “where’s that guy with the duct taped bible, you need to get up here and preach.”

I joke that if I lost my bible I’d lose my salvation; all my notes are there and a sermon or two. It represents years of ministry and counseling, failures and victories.

My regular study bible looks like it’s pregnant, I’ve glued so many extra pages throughout it to hold all my Greek or Hebrew notes, word studies, illustrations, it’s 4 times thicker that its original shape.

My pocket bible or hospital bible has paper clips and post it notes that I’ve cut up in into quarter inch strips with just an 1/8th of an inch sticking up or out to find special verses for funerals, counseling, weddings, baptisms, just to name a few.

We had people ask if it’s ok to mark up a bible because it says ‘Holy Bible’ on it. something that’s not as common on the spine of the bible like it used to be.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 2:9–12

What are distinguishing marks of the people of God which separate them from the world?

Do you realize that like your bible you are supposed to be marked?

Christians should be drastically different from the world. Christ taught the same thing in Matthew 5:13, he said you are the salt of the earth. You preserve the world from decay. You have tremendous value. He said you are the light of the world (v. 14). Among the people of the earth, there are a people who are radically different.

I think Christians are to be marked by their speech, we should sound different than anyone else.

The believer’s job as a priest is to learn the Bible, to never let it depart from their mouths, to talk about it at dinner, to talk about it at work. One of the reasons you have been chosen to be a priests is to be a teacher of the Word of God. Most of the world will never read the Bible, but they should see and hear the Bible coming out of your mouth all the time. God told Joshua, “Never let it depart from your mouth” (1:8). God told Israel the same thing.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6–9

In spite of the electronic age we live in, I still think the number one thing you can do to show people your different, marked, is to still carry a bible with you, to work, to school, especially to lunch. Will you get teased, mocked, made fun of, talked about behind your back, YES. That’s the whole point to show the world that our walk with God is not private, not just for home and church and in private.

You are a people on the earth whom God enjoys. You are his possession… If you truly understood this, if the eyes of your heart could really grasp this, it would deliver you from all your insecurities and fears. The world says you’re too short, too tall, not smart enough, not a great enough leader, not a great enough speaker, you don’t have enough money. No, you are perfect. You are perfect because you were created by God (cf. Psalm 139:13-14) and he can use even your weaknesses for his glory (cf. 2 Cor 12:9-10).

So, make your mark on your life, your world, your business, go ahead let someone call you a Jesus freak, what a compliment.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

SPIRITUAL STEROIDS

September 27, 2017

  If [since] ye, then, be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).

  The growth truths seem complicated and difficult to understand on first encounter. However, with progress in grace we find them to be as clear and logical as the truth of justification. For both time and eternity, all is summed up in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal. . . [to] know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ.”

  “The marvel of divine grace is that not only has everything according to the heart of God been secured for me through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but that I, a child of Adam, should be, not only in peace with God where I was under His judgment, but that I am transferred from Adam to Christ, and I am to have Christ formed in me now.

  “I am born of God—of new and divine origin—a new creation to be here on earth now where I was a child of Adam, in the grace and beauty of Christ, led by His own power to stand for Him; daily more and more transformed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord’ (2 Cor. 3:18).”

“I used to study this passage and that passage to obtain guidance and light. I see now that if I were really near Him beholding His glory (2 Cor. 3:18), I should be transformed, this glory should come from His throne so impressed upon myself that with Jesus living in my heart that His interests would, as it were, naturally control me, guide me and the growth process would occur naturally in the normal course of me growing more Christ like.

  “When the heart has found its rest and satisfaction in Him, it can turn to Him naturally and continually in every circumstance.”

  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

God bless from scumlikuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE GRAND PARADOX

September 24, 2017

  “You were set free from the tyranny of Sin, and became the bondservants of Righteousness” (Rom. 6:18.).

  The principle underlying resurrection life is, of all things, death. “For since we have become one with Him by sharing in His death, we shall also be one with Him by sharing in His resurrection. Surrender your very selves to God as living men who have risen from the dead” (Rom. 6:5, 13). Let the facts of your position overwhelm the feelings of your condition.

  “By exercising faith in the Word, apart from any feelings, be ‘planted together with Him in the likeness of His death’ (Rom. 6:5). Only by thus standing in your position will you begin to experience ‘the likeness of His resurrection.’ Reckon on your life-union with Him. Reject the old life on the basis of your death in Christ on the Cross, and count yourself alive in Him until He makes experiential your resurrection position. Do not forget that you must stand firmly upon the specific truths: ‘dead indeed unto sin—alive unto God in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 6:11).

The sharing of His life is our blessed experience just in the measure in which we share His death. So many of us are content merely that the Cross should be the power to save us from the penalty of sin, but death was not the end of the manifestation of Christ. It was resurrection, and it is the risen life, shining forth in the believer, that alone can carry out the purpose of God in redemption. The believer, in whose daily attitude the mark of resurrection is seen, becomes what the world is looking for, a convincing witness to the power of the Living Redeemer.

  “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Paul C, he’s kinda of gone off the reservation since his wife died and we are praying he’ll get back to being accountable and checking in and get back to church and godly living.

 

NOW

September 21, 2017

hand sign

The Bible mentions many people whose obedience to God came from their faith and love for him (see Heb 11). For example, Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice (see Ge 6:4); Abraham left Ur at God’s direction, not knowing his destination (Ge 6:8); and Moses refused the privileges of being called Pharaoh’s son, choosing rather to identify with Israel, God’s people (see Ge 6:24–25). In each case their faith motivated their action.

 One of the most astounding exemplars of faith in action was Noah. God tells Noah to build an ark and stock it with animals, and “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (Ge 6:22). Noah provides an example not only of obedience but of immediate obedience.

 Here are five ways to begin practicing immediate obedience in your own life:

  1. Fill your heart with love for Christ—Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands” (Jn 14:15). Our love for Christ is our motivation for obedience. Reflect on your love for Jesus to motivate you to want to undertake acts of immediate obedience.

  1. Commit to immediate obedience—Make a commitment today that you will obey God immediately in whatever he requires. Ask the Lord to give you the strength necessary to act without hesitation.

  1. Look for commands to obey—During your daily Bible reading, make a list of the commands applicable to all believers. Not sure which commands are meant for you? Start with the most obvious, such as the command of Jesus to forgive others (see Mt 6:14–15).

  1. Look for ways to obey—After identifying a command, think of ways you can apply it within the next 24 hours. If a command seems difficult to implement, consider whether you are facing a genuine obstacle to timely obedience (e.g., you won’t be able to help a widow or orphan today) or are merely looking for an excuse to disobey.

  1. Look for unique opportunities—If in your daily Scripture reading you come across a specific command, be watchful for unique circumstances God might provide for you to obey. Have a plan for obedience, but be open, ready and willing to obey in whatever ways God provides.

Praise report, Calvin is doing great, his eye has been saved, the tear duct repaired and he says thanks.

Pray for Gavin, he hasn’t been feeling well and things are strapped financially and his wife said; “surprise I’m pregnant.” His response wasn’t ecstatic enough and then the fight started. Plenty there to pray for.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

standing tall on our knees

September 18, 2017

STANDING TALL ON OUR KNEES

  “And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23)

  True spiritual experience will result from our standing immovable in our position “in Christ.” All too often believers allow certain “experiences” to move them from the faith-ground of their objective position, and they are soon adrift on the sea of subjective feelings and unscriptural influences. Which is why so many false teacher are able to manipulate and extort so many church people.

  “The Christian life is essentially a continuous dying, and a continuous living. Of course, there may come a particular crisis in experience where the Spirit of God brings the soul face to face with a definite issue as to a willingness for the Cross, and a yielding of the life to God. Yes, the first revelation of the secret of victory also may constitute a real crisis in the life of the believer, but that crisis or experience can never, in itself, avail for the future.

There is a subtle danger in relying upon some isolated experience of ‘sanctification,’ so-called. The victorious Christian life is a Person, not an experience. Following the crisis, whatever phase or landmark in the life that may represent, there must be the daily reckoning, the moment-by-moment abiding and the control of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever may have been our experience of holiness, and the measure of spiritual attainment in the past, or the teaching of a ‘second’ blessing; we can never get beyond the need of abiding in Christ and the continuous reckoning of faith.

  “For we, alive though we are, are continually surrendering ourselves to death for the sake of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:11, Wey.).

Don’t let someone tell you that you are only ‘half’ blessed or you haven’t had the full gospel experience. The operative word being experience. We are followers of Christ and devoted to the Word of God guiding us in all things, not just spiritual realms. I’m always amazed at Christians who think the bible isn’t relative to every aspect of their life and only take God out of the box on Sundays.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Walter,, he is developing dementia and is becoming violent. Pray his kids step up their game in taking care of him.

Pray for Prura, a new Christian in S. America, she gave her life to the Lord today and as to face a family that is traditional and not supportive. Her parents have given her an ultimatum about getting her life “back to normal”

 

MUCH, MUCH, MORE

September 14, 2017

MUCH, MUCH, MORE

  I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

Our Father subjected our old nature to the Cross and its resultant death. Experientially, He applies the work of the Cross to our old life, thereby progressively holding it in the grip of that death. He is “unforming” the old nature in death, and conforming the new nature in life.

Living a life more abundant requires that what He did for us shall be made good in us. In the Cross He dealt with our sins, and He also dealt with ourselves; but that is something which has to be made good progressively. It is as we ourselves are dealt with in the power of the Cross that the way is made for His life to express itself in ever deepening fulness.

The fact is that it is the old life which is in the way of the new life and its full expression. It is the natural life which obstructs the course of the divine life. Thus what has been done for us has to be done in us, and as it is done in us that life becomes more than a deposit, more than a simple, though glorious possession; it becomes a deepening, growing power, a fulness of expression.

  “You may have been in the fires and have been having a pretty hard and painful time in your spiritual life, but that only means that God has been preparing you for something more. No, God is not a God who believes in bringing everything to an end. He is always after something more. And if He has to clear the way for something more by devastating methods (Cross), well, that is all right, for it is something more that He is after. There is so much more, far, far transcending all our asking or thinking.”

  “I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Tim A. in prayers, a person new to the faith and is dealing with the “old” crowd that don’t believe he’s changed.

Elena I. had gastric bypass surgery and is having some severe problems.