February 28, 2017
by Mike Sares
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Thursday, February 16, 2017
One of the Most Misapplied Old Testament Bible Verses
By Mike Sares
"... If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2Chronicles )
So often I hear this verse used in reference to the U.S.A., quoted by well-meaning Christians who sense our society's moral decline. Well, perhaps it could apply—I mean, God can do whatever He wants. Originally, though, the context was for the land of ancient Israel (the preceding verse is about droughts, locusts and plagues).
For Christians, I think this promise becomes metaphorical. Christians were never given a piece of real estate by God as the Jews were given Israel. We are God's people, sure enough; but, what is "our land"? Could it be the church—that piece of Jesus' Kingdom which we inhabit right now? If God's people humble themselves, pray, seek God's face, and turn from their wicked ways—then might God heal the drought of love in the church? Might God destroy the "locusts of laziness" that are robbing us of fruitful labor in ministry? Might He heal us of the plague of self-centeredness? It's tempting to point fingers at the society around us and urge it to repent (for, indeed, it needs to), but this verse actually asks us to do the repenting. In return, God (who has forgiven our sins through the cross of Jesus Christ) will heal the churches we currently call home.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
by Mike Sares
There’s nothing like sitting by a fireplace on a cold wintry night, sipping hot chocolate, and listening to Christmas music while gazing at a brightly-lit Christmas tree.
I love Christmastime, but the truth is that a lot of what I enjoy has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. That can bother me. Actually, there is far greater reason, theologically, for Easter to be my favorite holiday. After all, the Nativity is the warm-up for the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. But I don’t have those warm fuzzy feelings at Easter, and that bothers me, too. The Gospel writers spend thousands of words retelling the events of the last week of Jesus’ life and shortly thereafter. They spend hundreds of words writing about Jesus birth. It seems that Jesus himself wants me to concentrate more upon his mission than on his being born. He instructed the disciples to take communion by saying, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me,” and, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1Corinthians 11) We are to proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes—not his birth in Bethlehem.
The world around us seems to like the baby Jesus better than the grown-up Jesus, however. I can understand that ... after all, the Baby Jesus didn’t overturn the tables of merchants or talk about Hell. Christmas is also about giving and receiving presents, and maybe that’s part of the reason that the world makes such a huge deal about Christmas. And, um ... it’s also probably another reason why I like the Yuletide Season so much. I’ve written nostalgic songs about Christmas; but even if I am singing about all the trappings of the holiday, the lyrics always end up with the hope that springs from the birth of Jesus.
The hope of Christmas is that a Savior has been born. Verily, verily I say unto you – if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, nobody would be celebrating His birthday over 2000 years later. Nobody. Not even Christians. (Because there wouldn’t be any!)
So, I celebrate this holiday with one eye on the manger and another on the cross. Truly, there are no warm, fuzzy feelings of peace, joy and goodwill at Christmas without the rest of the story.
Posted by Scum of the Earth Church at 8:32 PM
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
By Fran Blomberg
In 1986 Craig and I had dinner with a Pentecostal pastor. It came out that we couldn’t have children, and his response was immediate. “You need to tell God the desires of your heart! Claim his promises! Show your faith!”
“I am NOT going to tell God what to do! He knows the desires of my heart, he knows my faith, but I want his will, “I replied.
“Well, I’m going to pray for you,” the pastor shot back.
“Fine, pray for me!” I responded, rather sarcastically.
The next month I was pregnant.
Here’s the mystery of healing: Both the pastor and I were right. You can’t manipulate God, and God responds to our prayers.
When we pray for healing at Scum, we rely on certain principles:
God is sovereign—in a nutshell, we cannot guarantee that God will at in any specific way in any specific situation. Isaiah 55:9 reminds us: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 1 Cor. 2:9 tells us “…no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.” How limiting it would be if God only did what I imagined possible!
Healing isn’t dependent on our emotions--I sat with a 33 -year-old friend who was racked with grief that she didn’t have 100% confidence that God would heal her of breast cancer. The more she cried the more anxious she got that God would think she was doubting him. She had been told that you had to present a certain ‘face’ to God, full of confidence and boldness. But God knows our fears, thoughts, desires, and doubts already! The father of a sick child cried, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus healed the child.
Healing doesn’t even depend on our faith. Half of the miracles Jesus performed in his life were on people who expressed faith, such as the woman cured of 18 years of bleeding, or blind Bartimeaus. The other half seemed to generate faith in either the person who received the miracle or people who saw it happen, like the crowd that saw a legion of demons enter a herd of pigs, or the disabled man who sat complaining that no one would put him into the supposed healing pool.
So healing is a crap shoot, there’s nothing I can do to win God’s favor? Yes, and no.
Obedience and humility position us to hear God and discern his will. If I want food, I go to the fridge, not the closet. If I want to hear a band, I go to a music venue, not the library. We put ourselves in the “place” to speak with God, hear from him, and understand his purposes. We pray, we use Scriptures, we seek support from other believers.
We acknowledge God works in many ways.
Some miracles are outright. “Get up and walk,” Jesus told the paralytic.
Some are gradual. A broken bone mends. Fewer things trigger a PTSD response.
Some miracles use human intervention as well as divine intervention, perhaps a particularly meaningful sermon, therapist, or doctor.
Some require our cooperation and follow through. The person immediately healed of a craving for drugs still needs the discipline to not use again.
God won’t override my actual will. If lifestyle choices are furthering the problem, God will not override what I actually do to “rescue” me from my own desires. If I struggle with internet porn, I need to be accountable, tighten the filters, and do my part.
Sin can stand between us and healing. James urges us: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” The first healing is often of our pride and shame.
Sometimes the miracle is the change in attitude we experience; the ability to persevere despite the affliction. Or the miracle could be that profound change in desire that then allows the addiction to be put aside. When we pray for healing at Scum, it’s because we know God is able. We have seen miracles. We pray for many more.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
I hear it a lot. From both ends of the spectrum.
“I’m fine, I’m not an addict.” (Denial)
“Really, this is a stupid little problem, I should just get over it.” (Shame)
CR is a Christian 12-step program that has the advantage of covering the whole gamut between very visible, hard-core addictions and the quieter but no less damaging “hooks, hang-ups, and habits” that keep us from being whole and healthy. We’re working on food addictions, low self-esteem, people- pleasing, anger, porn, recovery from sexual abuse, and substance abuse issues. We’re open for folks who can’t even name what is ‘wrong,’ but just sense that life isn’t all it’s meant to be.
Our meeting starts with worship to settle our minds and relax from the stress of the day. We alternate between a story from someone who’s a bit down the road in recovery, or a lesson from the curriculum. This is Scum, we are very informal, but reciting the principles, steps and serenity prayer together weekly gives us a sense of predictability and commonality.
We break into separate groups for men and women for an hour of “open share.” Confidentiality is stressed, and we’re not here to fix, advise, or compare stories—we are here to listen. We catch up on each other’s week and interact with the story or lesson we just heard. We share prayer requests. No one has to speak, and no one is allowed to monopolize.
We end the evening with healthy snacks and hang-out time.
For those who want to go deeper, we offer step studies in which we work with a sponsor and a step study leader to really probe what it takes to experience release and recovery from our issues.
CR is for everyone who feels “stuck.” That stuck feeling often comes when there is an unresolved issue, a recurrent bad habit, or a lack of support. Try it out any Monday evening, 7-9 at Scum.
Posted by Scum of the Earth Church at 4:42 PM
Saturday, July 30, 2016
We typically say "the offering helps keep the lights on," but what else? Lindsay Blackstone and Aaron Pott, Council members extraordinaire, explained Scum' budget at the last town hall meeting. Here's quick summary:
Total Monthly Budget: $8,311 (annual $99,734). The fiscal year runs - .
Posted by Scum of the Earth Church at 12:30 PM
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
"Let us make man in our image, in our likeness;"
so God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created him.
Genesis 1: 26&27
It has been said that ever since God created us in His own image, we have more than reciprocated. It would be sad if it weren't so humorous. We are ever prone to make God look, act and feel like a human.
Posted by Scum of the Earth Church at 8:00 AM