Saturday, December 17, 2016

My Perplexing Relationship with Christmas

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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Healing Prayer

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 5:16 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 Don't Need Celebrate Recovery

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. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

July Town Hall Meeting

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 March 1Feb 28.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Creating God in Our Image

"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. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Our Worship Service

The Church Council appointed a Worship Committee plan the new worship service, beginning June 5. The Committee discussed the WHYs before the WHATs, and made the following recommendation, which has been OKed by the Trio (Mike, Jesse and Fran) and the Council. If you want more information about, get in touch with Fran Blomberg, Tyler Warner, Todd Blackstone, Tyson Rasmussen, Adam Skinner or Tina Rea.


FIRST AND FOREMOST, the WORSHIP service is about GOD, not us.
We want an intentional, planned and cohesive service (not sloppy or rambling…).
We value authenticity—no fake people or cheesy maneuvers.
We value learning about and meeting God.
We realize the kingdom of God is bigger than Scum.  We have brothers   and sisters.
We want to leave both challenged and encouraged by God.

We value incorporating and not scaring off newcomers
We want ant newcomers/nonbelievers to see genuine worshippers enjoying God
We value people being spiritually stirred during the service
We value a Sunday service that is accessible to believers and non-believers
We value participation, but make it optional, not embarrassing

We value having multiple leaders up front (who are prepped and intentional)
We value earing each other’s stories
Worship leaders freedom for a variety of worship styles
We value praying for one another and believe that God hears our prayers
We value doing things our own way—”cultivating creativity and using everyone’s gifts”
We see worship and community in a meal as an extension of communion.

welcome from the worship leader
worship in song
brief prayer (the “Collect”)
Scripture reading(s) to accompany the sermon
extended prayers (various formats)
time of response:
      worship in music
      Communion (every week),
     other creative expressions
Lord’s Prayer
Doxology (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”)
closing prayer (“Benediction”)
Dinner every week

children go to nursery and Sunday School before service (4:50)
children 4 and up return to the service at 6:00;
3 and under stay in the nursery for the whole service.

Monday, April 25, 2016

An Overseas Perspective

For several years, Scum has been growing relationships in (of all places!) Cambridge, England.  Groups and individuals  have visited Scum through our connection with Ridley Hall, an Anglican training college in Cambridge, and the relationships are growing even deeper and wider through "friends of friends." 

AN OVERSEAS PERSPECTIVE From Scum’s newest Cambridge intern, Naomi Chamberlain: 

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Letter to Scum

Kayleigh wrote this letter to Scum during the all church family meeting in late March.  

Dear Scum, 

I am new to Scum. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Evangelism or Discipleship? Go or Grow?

Mon March 28, 2016 · By Adam Skinner

excerpted from his sermon on the four soils in Luke 8:1-15.

What are crops for? To eat, right? Not all of them,though—you’ve got to use some of the crop to replant the field for the next harvest, maybe even expand the field. In some ways, using it for our growth is the most important part. In other ways, going out and sowing farther and wider is, since without that, this will be the last year to get bread, and without food, where will growth be? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Christos Anesti!

Tues March 22, 2016 · By Mike Sares

If Jesus didn't really rise from the dead, Christians are idiots.  Think about it.  A man claiming to be God is crucified and then reportedly comes back to life.  His followers are so convinced of this fact that they not only tell everyone, they travel great distances to tell more people, they write about it for future generations, and then brave all kinds of torture and death because they will not stop talking about it.  I wrote a little ditty about this as a young Christian:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Can We Talk about God?

Sun. March 6, 2016 · by Leanor Ortega-Till

Often times at Scum of the Earth Church we are the "door" for someone just entering the church. Some people are returning to a belief they once held dear and for others Scum is the first step at peering into the world of Christianity.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reaffirming and Revising our Vision

Web Feb. 24, 2016 · by Fran Blomberg

Happy sweet sixteen Scum of the Earth Church! SOTEC formed in February 2000, and originally we said we were a church for the "right-brained and left out." But sixteen years on, the vision was due for refinement--who is Scum now? Let me walk you through the vision statement adopted in January 2016, which Mike first outlined on a napkin years ago: