FOLLOW THE WAY

November 19, 2017

The will of God for our lives is that we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness . Choosing to die to self and live for Christ is the most important decision we will ever make—and a decision that has to be made daily. Of course, we’re free to make other decisions in our lives (what jobs we’ll take, whom we’ll marry, and so on) using wisdom and discernment, and following God’s guidance. But how exactly does God communicate his will and guide our paths?

 Here are four ways:

  1. God guides us through outside forces—Oftentimes God guides in a way that is not only beyond our understanding, but also beyond our awareness. He can even use people or events to guide our lives in ways that we might never know. Throughout Joseph’s life, God used other people to bring his servant into a position of power and influence. A primary example is when Joseph interpreted the dreams of Egypt’s ruler. Pharaoh recognized that Joseph’s ability was given by God and put the young Hebrew in a position of great power (see Ge 41:40).

  1. God guides us through his Son—How should we expect God to speak to us today? Hebrews 1:1–2 provides the answer: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” The Father has uniquely revealed himself through the Son. Jesus is the primary means by which God has “spoken to us” and guides our way.

  1. God guides us through spiritual means—Throughout the Bible there are dozens of examples of God communicating to his people using a variety of forms, such as dreams, promptings, visions, a voice and a visit from a stranger. While this form of guidance is usually rare, every Christian has access to the Holy Spirit, who speaks in our hearts, teaching us and reminding us of what Jesus said and did so we can better follow him (see Jn 14:26).

  1. God guides us through Scripture—God clearly reveals his moral law in the Bible, and understanding and obeying that law can often guide us in making everyday decisions. In addition, the Holy Spirit uses Scripture to convict, teach and guide us.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Our bible winner is Leonard S, from Santiago, Chile; thank you for the very kind email we are glad to have a new Scumlikeuschurch friend. blessings

UFC 19061

October 23, 2017

In one of the Bible’s strangest tales, Jacob wrestles with God. Jacob was headed home to face his brother Esau, whom he hadn’t seen in the 20 years since Esau wronged him (see Ge 32:4). Although Jacob had reached out to God for help, he was still resisting fully submitting to his will. That’s when God confronted him face-to-face.

 The wrestling match lasted throughout the night, and yet Jacob wouldn’t let go. God crippled Jacob’s hip, and Jacob still wouldn’t let go. He remained persistent throughout the great struggle and refused to let go until God blessed him. Because Jacob acknowledged God as the source of the blessings, the Lord honored his request. Through this account we see Jacob coming to a point of true faith.

  Here is a reminder that undergoing the great change—becoming a Christian—is not always quick and easy. It is not just a matter of repeating a prayer, making a decision, or filling out a card. True conversion often comes only after intense wrestling with God. A new identity in Jesus often comes only after a period of persistently praying like Jacob, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

  Want to cultivate persistence that rivals Jacob’s? Check out these three ways to prepare:

  1. Understand your desire—What motivates you to become more like Christ? What does a truly honest answer look like? What are the desires of your heart that you want the Lord to give you (see Ps 37:4)?

  1. Outline your steps—Persistence in your journey will come easier when you understand what you need to do next. Consider the spiral of spiritual formation What are the next steps? How are you fine-tuning your choices to make spiritual formation integral to your daily routine?

  1. Expect difficulties—At some point during his struggle, Jacob realized that while he couldn’t overcome the stranger, he could at least hang on. Then the stranger did something unexpected and made “the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched” (Ge 32:25). At that point, the pain was likely overwhelming and Jacob was surely ready to concede. Yet he refused to give up.

  Persistence doesn’t require overcoming every difficulty; it merely requires that you refuse to give up. It is through such difficulties that God strengthens your character. Difficulties are inevitable, so be prepared. You don’t have to know what challenges you’ll face to know that if you refuse to give up you can endure. Hang on until God blesses you.

Not every situation with God is going to be painful or agonizing. So don’t measure your salvation or walk with suffering. Realize though that God does bring detours into our lives that can make the way seem longer. But persistence in building your spiritual life will always pay off.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Tim S, he is struggling with urges he thought were long gone and have come back.

Pray for Sam E, she is asking for prayer for her mom who they just found out she has cancer of the thyroid.

Edie, she wants to say thanks for prayer and for her new bible.

Kurt, is asking for prayer that he would step up his walk with the Lord. He is thinking that maybe God is calling him to be a missionary.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Some suggestions for living a life of thankfulness to God:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

LOOK UP

September 3, 2017

crown of thorns

Look Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be safe, be blessed, believe. Be changed.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

THE STRUGGLING PARENT

September 1, 2017

WHY DID YOU BECOME A PARENT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then schedule marriage counseling to save their marriage.

And so how was your day?

So the moral of the story follows…

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

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

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

The Hypocrite-phobic Parent

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

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

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

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

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

The Example of David: Seek Repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to Say in the Hard Conversations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking Advantage of the Mentoring Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s never to late to start.

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

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

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

best thoughts

August 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

An unholy thought always precedes an unholy deed.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Regards, from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Encouraging God

August 28, 2017

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

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

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

God encourages His discouraged servants to persevere in His work.

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

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

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

  1. THE LOSS OF INITIAL EXCITEMENT CAN DISCOURAGE US.

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

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

  1. DELAYS CAN DISCOURAGE US.

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

  1. OUTSIDE OPPOSITION AND CRITICISM CAN DISCOURAGE US.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. A WRONG VIEW OF SUCCESS CAN DISCOURAGE US.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. PERSEVERANCE REQUIRES THE RIGHT ATTITUDE: BE STRONG!

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

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

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

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

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

  1. PERSEVERANCE REQUIRES THE RIGHT ACTION: WORK!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Housekeeping; questions, comments and prayer requests please send to

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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

 

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

God bless and thanks

THE BIG READ

August 19, 2017

the bible

People use the Bible in all sorts of weird ways. You’ve probably heard the story of the guy who felt he needed some guidance from the Bible, so he opened it at random, closed his eyes and put his finger on a verse: “Judas went out and hanged himself.” He thought, “That can’t be God’s will for me,” so he tried again: “Go thou and do likewise.” He knew there must be some mistake, so he tried once more: “What thou doest, do quickly!” It can be dangerous to use the Bible in the wrong way!

While we chuckle, it’s no laughing matter when people really use the Bible improperly. In 2 Timothy 2:14, Paul tells Timothy to solemnly charge those under his pastoral ministry “in the presence of God” that if they misuse the Bible, it will lead to ruin. We get our word “catastrophe” from the Greek word for “ruin.” Paul means, ultimate spiritual ruin! He names Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had gone astray from the truth, upsetting the faith of some with their misuse of the Bible! Paul is saying that…

I’ve lost count of the bible hucksters that misuse the word of God, and it’s not a new phenomenon as is indicated by our text.

I was visiting a church while I was traveling and as my custom I always take my bible to church. I was actually stopped at the door by two deacons. They wanted to know what I had under my arm. Now I admit my bible is pretty worn out, it’s gray leather and it’s a perfect match for the multiple strips of gray duct tape that hold it together. And it looks pregnant, as I have all sort of notes, illustrations, letters from old parishioners that have passed on and their family wrote me a particularly nice word about how they’ve appreciated my pastorate. There is the one and only letter I have ever received from my dad in it and some obit notices. But still what else would I be carrying into church that looks like a bible.

 I took it out from under my arm and said; “it’s my bible” and their response is memorable; “why would you bring a bible to church, do you think our pastor is going to say something wrong?” Well, DUH.

When I was in Seminary, if you went to church near the college and didn’t have your Greek New Testament with you, you often would be asked why on Monday.

I know that I have written several devotions about versions of the bible and I still stick to the idea that you read the KJV if you are studying Theology, the NASB if you’re studying languages, and for reading for devotional, well just about anything goes. (except the Message,, which is not a bible and not a version)

Or so I thought until today. I got a catalog in the mail today advertising ‘bible reading light’, that’s not an error. They know people are (these are their actual words) lazy, inept, undisciplined, untrained, to busy, to careless, to intimidated and not motivated.

So they have two versions where they (again their words) have cut out all the boring bits, traditionalism and historical flotsam.

To say I almost had a stroke would be putting it mildly. You know the old saying; “those that don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it?”

Obviously, they have forgotten the great Reader’s Digest version of the bible. The worst selling bible to ever come out. Or how about the outrage when the RSV came out for the first time, ‘one word’ capsized that version, In the book of Isaiah they said ‘he’d be born of a maiden’ not virgin. I still have articles from all sorts of publications saying this might be the work of the anti-Christ and it’s the devil’s bible, all that over just one word.

So know there’s an entire curriculum where the idea is that we are not reading the bible as God’s word, but it’s now to be treated (in their own words) as a book club. All the hard bits left out, all the begats and therefores, no chapter headings, no verses, no read letters, no references, just what they consider the bible lite version, oh and guess what it’s not called the bible just “the big read”.

Slap my mother and bite my a$$. You can’t make this stuff up. I guess all the verses in the bible saying it’s inspired, worthy, a blessing to read and hear aloud, not one jot or tittle will pass away, heaven and earth may pass away but not the word. I guess all that doesn’t matter.

You know how I’m always making lists, well now I have another bible version, whoops excuse me ‘the big read’ to add to my list of bibles I won’t read.

But when you see the authors in this catalog it really comes as no surprise. So the BIG READ,  brought to you by all the so called pastors that have brought all our modern heresies and only warm fuzzies, puppies and unicorns and faith in yourself matter. Ok I’ve got to quit or have another stroke.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Dear Prayer Partners, thank you for praying for Richard, he passed today. This guy literally spent his whole life on a boat, and when he retired guess what he did, yep  sea cruises, but not like you and me, he took 60 day cruises and 90 day cruises with only 2 weeks in between. The hospice called me today and asked if I could talk to him and help him let go and pass on. So I told him, “Richard this is it, the final cruise, the best cruise you’ve ever been on, it’s time to let go and get on board. And he did.