Beyond the Bubble – January 22, 2021

On December 5, 1996 Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve gave a speech that sent the markets around the world tumbling.  In ten sentences he destroyed investor confidence and time zone by time zone, the markets dropped significantly because of a single word: “bubble”. In his speech, he said the market had been overheated by speculation and that current values were too high.  

I know that, not because I’m an expert in the history of the financial markets, but because an investment house is recycling the “bubble” concept to try to get those of us over 45 to start thinking about buying gold.  Without coming right out and saying it, the implication is that the era of John Smith,  laissez-faire, and free market economies is over and once the big investors finally realize that – the bubble is going to POP!

The reason this struck me as so funny is that I got another ad, from another investment house on the same day, proclaiming the glories of the market under the new administration, who intend to model the economy more in line with John Maynard Keynes thinking, which would of course, cause the markets to expand!

A prudent investor doesn’t have all of his eggs in one basket.  If I’m wise I should be able to withstand either an expansion or a contraction. However, if I’m “abiding” in addition to being the best steward I know how to be, I’m also looking beyond the bubble!  Like Paul, I hope to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;  in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

It’s not wrong to be aware of politics and markets, it’s wrong to allow our hope to rest in them. 

“Do not despise us, for Your own name’s sake;

Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory;

Remember and do not annul Your covenant with us. 

Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain?

Or can the heavens grant showers?

Is it not You, O Lord our God?

Therefore we hope in You,

For You are the one who has done all these things.” 

Jeremiah 14:21-22

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.”

Hebrews 6:19

Some things on my mind,

Pastor Scott

Lead Your Heart – 1.15.21

When I was young(er) we used to wait for the Maranatha Singers to put out their new album every year.  It essentially gave us our praise and worship music for that year.  One song that has especially stuck in my head all these years is taken from just two verses in David’s psalm of repentance  – Psalm 51.  The focus is on his need for God to restore – to change – his heart.

Create in me a clean heart, oh God

And renew a right spirit within me

Create in me a clean heart, oh God

And renew a right spirit within me

Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh Lord

Take not Thy holy spirit from me*

Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation

And renew a right spirit within me

I was attending Arizona State at the time and often felt the need for God to cleanse me just on principle – I, after all, was walking around in a sewer.  I’ve seen, as time goes by however, that God made us to also stay cleansed by how we walk.  And sometimes to even change our hearts by first changing our actions.  For example, in those same college years (81-85) only race car drivers wore seat belts.  Laws changed our behaviors, which changed our minds (emotions).  Some of my professors still smoked while standing in front of a lecture hall and we know what‘s become of public smoking.   But here’s a better one:   

Newspaper columnist and minister George Crane tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. “I don’t only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me.” Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan “Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you love him. After you’ve convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.” With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, “Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!” And she did it with enthusiasm; acting “as if.” For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, sharing. When she didn’t return, Crane called. “Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?” “Divorce?” she exclaimed. “Never! I discovered I really do love him.” Her actions had changed her feelings. Motion resulted in emotion. The ability to love is established not so much by fervent promise –but more in often repeated deeds.

My point is, if there is something in your life (eg: Bible reading and prayer; attending a mid-week study; exercise; calling on a neighbor) that you don’t “feel” like doing but you know you ought to, don’t wait for your heart to change  – just do it.     

Pastor Scott

P.S.  There was a question that came into the text line right after dismissal (sorry texter) it had to do with the verse in 1 John 5 that I used to clarify a point in 1 John 3.  Because it was so specific to 1 John 5, I’m going to ask the texter to indulge me and see if I answer the question when we get there in the preaching.

·  This line is not applicable post Pentecost, but is in David’s psalm –I always “watermelon-ed” it.

New Chapters – January 8, 2020

Some days….

Because of a Christian Journal for which I pay; I receive dozens for free. I can’t read them all but I do read some; typically because a title or tagline catches my eye; this one did. I am not really sure why. Maybe God wanted you to read it too. Blessings,

Pastor Scott

Dead Stumps Grow Back and Thrive, and so Can You
TRACIE MILES

“There is hope for a tree that has been cut down; it can come back to life and sprout.” Job 14:7 (GNT)

They all started out in little 10-inch pots, but after 23 years, each had grown 15 feet tall with a 6-foot circumference. These four massive holly trees were now overtaking the front of my house, even blocking my kitchen window.

I finally took the plunge and hired someone to cut them all down, but didn’t realize they would leave the tree stumps in the ground. My uninformed-self just assumed I could cover them with pine needles and forget about them. Which I did. Until a few months later when little twigs and sprouts started poking up between the mounds of needles on all four stumps.

After a little research, I discovered that unless you kill the root of the tree by treating the stump, rain and sunshine will bring life back to it, and the tree can begin growing again. It suddenly struck me how my life was similar to those stumps.

After my husband of 25 years abruptly left our marriage and our family, I felt just like one of those stumps — chopped down as low as I could go and feeling like life was over. Discarded and damaged. Covered up by darkness and despair, wondering why God had allowed these painful circumstances in my life. Heartbroken, scared and uncertain of the future, all because — in one unforgettable day — my entire life was turned upside down and forever changed.

In Scripture, we read Job’s story and can wonder if he felt the exact same way. He was a wealthy man who had everything, and life was good. Until it wasn’t.

Job lost his 10 children, livestock, servants and health. Although he was once like a massive tree full of life, in the course of one unforgettable day, he had been rendered nothing short of an old, dead stump.

Yet, despite Satan’s temptations to bring him down, these losses brought Job down to his knees before God instead. Rather than turning against God as his friends and wife told him to do, he turned toward God, clinging to a hope that seemed impossible in his circumstances.

Job was only human, and we read in Scripture how devastated and upset he was, even cursing the day he was born. His pain, thoughts and emotions ran deep. But he still kept his faith, and eventually, in today’s key verse, we see where he began to speak words of hope, believing that with God by his side, he could endure these tragic circumstances and grow and thrive again: “There is hope for a tree that has been cut down; it can come back to life and sprout” (Job 14:7). Job believed that despite the fact he had lost everything, God was still God, and he would survive

Life circumstances can feel so hard, unrelenting and devastating. Whether it’s divorce, health issues, financial struggles, loss of a loved one, unemployment or some other personal difficulty, we often can’t help but question why God allows us to suffer. We can’t understand why He takes away the very things we treasured most.

Maybe you’re feeling like an old, dead stump, wondering if you can ever sprout twigs of life and happiness again, feeling hopeless and fearful about the future.

Yet, just like Job, we can decide to believe that despite our pain, God is still a good God and let our faith serve as hydration for our spirits and sunshine for our souls so growth and new life can begin again.

Over time, God restored Job’s health, gave him new children, provided him with twice the property he had lost and offered him a long, happy life. God has also brought about great restoration in my own life, and hanging on to hope is what has carried me through the last few years.

That same hope is yours for the taking.

Dear Jesus, my soul is tired. So many difficult circumstances have brought me down. Please fill me with the peace of knowing You see me and are still in control, and equip me to hang on to hope in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 15:13, “May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (GNT)

Psalm 39:7, “And so, LORD, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” (NLT)

Paul’s Revelation – January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

Last Sunday, I preached a New Year’s message (or a goodbye-to-the-old-year message) from Ephesians 5:15-17. (Watch your step; Redeem the time; Seek to do God’s will everyday); simple enough; but I was also delving into some of the darker issues of the day that have many of us feeling as if the time is getting short.  I read 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 wherein Paul clears up similar apprehensions, and after the service I entertained an interesting question.

“If John’s Revelation was written (happened) long after Paul had died, how did Paul know about ‘the man of lawlessness’ etc?”  I thought maybe this questioner wasn’t the only one who was curious:

I call it the “Gap Theory” of Paul’s Post-Cross Education.  Remember Saul (Paul ) was a young Pharisee well on the road to becoming a leader, he was a student of Gamilel, who we meet in Acts 4.  He held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen in Acts 7 and Acts 9 records his trip to persecute the believers in Damascus.  It was on that road that the Risen Christ knocked him off his horse.  The rest of his history we pieced together from the rest of Acts and the 13 epistles that God preserved.  We, obviously, don’t know about every trip he made nor every conversation he had, and what I’m about to present is a deduction as much as it is a revelation.  🙂

Three key texts are involved.  Paul’s earliest letter (in the canon) is his letter to the Galatians. Paul talks about the Gospel being preached to him without human intervention, but rather received directly from Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12).  He also discussed spending three years in Arabia before spending 15 days with Cephas (1:18-19).  I refer to this as the “gap” between Acts 9:22 & 23.

The question remains, what happened during those three years when Paul: a) met with no apostles; and, b) apparently received all sorts of revelations (Eph 3:3; 1 Cor 11:23; 1 Thess 4-5; etc).

Some scholars teach that Galatians 1:11-12 is referring exclusively to the Damascus Road encounter and that Paul spent those three years in Arabia learning from other non-apostolic disciples (followers) of Christ.  That’s a nice answer but it totally discounts one other passage, 2 Corinthians 12

I believe that as Paul was explaining to the believers in Corinth why he was so beset by physical struggles, and he also gives us the final clue as to how he knew things; like the things that were revealed to John in the Revelation.  Paul uses third person because he believes it would be prideful to speak otherwise….

Boasting is necessary, though it is not beneficial; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—  was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.  In behalf of such a man I will boast; but in my own behalf I will not boast, except regarding my weaknesses.  For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.  Because of the extraordinary greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!  2 Corinthians 12:1-7

I believe that Christ is the cornerstone of the church and apostles were the foundation, Paul being the last and being especially targeted to minister to the Gentiles needed to spend three years with Jesus, just like the other apostles did pre-cross.  

These two passages are testimonies not didactic, so let’s not try to make doctrine out of them; I just think they offer a reasonable explanation.  I cc’d the Galatians passage below.

Happy New Year! May we ALWAYS want to know Him and His Word more deeply!

Pastor Scott

11 For I would have you know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel which was preached by me is not of human invention. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when He who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.

18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 But I did not see another one of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which are in Christ; 23 but they only kept hearing, “The man who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they were glorifying God because of me. ~Galatians 1

Merry Christmas 2020

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind; as He already existed in the form of God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men.  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.   And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. For this reason, also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Perhaps you or your family read or recite Luke 2 on Christmas Eve – Might I suggest this John/Paul Hash your Pastor cooked up as a great Christmas Morning Reading!

Hope you have a very Merry, Festive & family filled – Christ centered Christmas!

Pastor Scott

Abba’s Voice – December 11, 2020

Last week, springboarding off the things I was going to miss having to quarantine, I wrote about God as the Potter.  The line in that piece that has played over and over in my head this week (and yes, preachers often step on their own toes; how can they not?) reads:  He’s the Potter. Whiny clay isn’t even a thing.”  

I believe that we often need to hear God’s “drill-instructor” voice (e.g., Job 38-41).  There are, of course, other times that we need to hear Abba’s voice.  Several days after writing the line about whiny clay, God brought to mind a different picture.  Sitting around our house are samples of the finished work of the artists I mentioned in the last piece.  The beautiful lamp or the Hobbit that was in the lump of clay or the block of wood.  They look NOTHING like what came home from the store.

I don’t do handiwork.  I have ten thumbs and they’re all on backwards, but I do have two pretty good eyes.  And I’ve watched the face of these artisans as they gazed at their raw material and somehow saw not what IS but what COULD BE.  In the case of the woodworker, I’ve stood with him at specialty wood stores as he holds up and eyeballs piece after piece that all look the same to me, but a light comes over his face when he sees the one that has IN it what he’s looking for.  And then he can hardly wait to get to work on it, carving, shaving, polishing, even lavishing, if I may, with care in order to reveal the highly valued piece inside.  Beloved, I see so many similarities to how Abba sees us, but we are so much more than a chunk of wood.  He made us!  And He wants us to ultimately live with Him, FOREVER!  Consider just three, out of hundreds of texts:

  1. The Creator of the Universe Chose You!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love  He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,  to the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He favored us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  (Ephesians 1:3-8a NASB, emphasis added)

  1. The Omniscient Maker of the Stars Made You! 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born.

    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

    before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.

    They cannot be numbered!

I can’t even count them;

    they outnumber the grains of sand! (Psalm 139:13-18 NLT)

  1. The Lord of Lords and the King of Kings Has Got You!

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.  (Jude 24-25 KJV)

I have watched a nose get sketched and re-sketched for a child by an adoring uncle.  I have witnessed a gift being lacquered again and again until you can almost see your face in a piece of wood… all for “things” that will be gone in a flash.  We are HIS workmanship and we’re going to stand before Him after this world has passed away.  

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  (Rom 8:14-18)

Pastor Scott

Disappointment – December 4, 2020

I’m writing this on Thursday, December 3, the morning I moved my office home because I’m getting to quarantine.  I’m also getting to miss out on preaching my dear friend Glenn Hayden’s funeral service, on Saturday (and Monday).  I’m getting to delay, possibly into 2021, preaching my second favorite verse in 1 John.  And I’m so looking forward to potentially driving my wife insane with my stir-craziness.   

“Pastor Scott, aren’t you a little let down that God allowed this? After all, He holds all of us in His mighty hands.”

Truth is, I’m human, and as a human I want to be able to blame someone!  I want to be able to shake my fist at that sky…. But I’ve lived a little AND been blessed to have been immersed in the Word most of my life.  If the urge to blame starts to tempt me, I hear the words:

WHO ARE YOU, O POT?

The metaphor of God as Potter and us as clay is only used a few times in Scripture (most notably in Isaiah 29:16; 45:9; 64:8; and Romans 9:21), but it’s been captured in story and drama so much that most of us have that mental picture of clay being smashed down and reformed.  My boys are both artists in that sense. One worked clay in a corner of our basement, so I got to see firsthand how little say a lump of clay has in what it becomes.  And now there is a wood-turning lathe set up in that same corner and my other son turns out beautiful pieces that look nothing like the original blocks of wood AND leaves huge piles of sawdust that is cut from said wood.

I say all that, not because you don’t know anything about woodcarving, but to remind us that you and I are predestined to be conformed (shaped) into the image of His Son.  And like the clay pottery, we might have to be spun and thrown down spun over and over again throughout our threescore and ten years of life, or we might be like the wood shaved and planed and sanded and polished, over and over… because each layer of “self” that comes off reveals another layer of “self” that needs work.  At least that’s my truth.  So if He needs me to sit on my hands for a few weeks, He’s the Potter. Whiny clay isn’t even a thing.

That said, Jesus was in the Potter’s hands for 33 years.  He knows.  He cares.  We don’t slog through this life alone. EVER!

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let’s hold firmly to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.       

Hebrews 4:14-16

Forever in His Grip,

Pastor Scott

I’m ALWAYS late! – November 27, 2020

I received this question anonymously.  The questioner just asked if the Bible said anything about perpetual tardiness.  Since I don’t know if the question was personal or if I might be giving someone a bludgeon. I thought it best to let “gotquestions.org” handle this one. 🙂
 
Question: “What does the Bible say about punctuality?”
 
Answer: Punctuality is the quality of being on time. We appreciate it when planes, trains, and buses are punctual because we don’t have to waste our time waiting for them. We also appreciate it when other people are punctual. Punctual people build trust with others because they are dependable. Punctuality is a way of showing respect for other people and their time. It also indicates to those meeting with us that they were worth planning ahead. We communicate value to others when we are where we said we would be when we said we would be there. Punctuality is a form of trustworthiness that can help build a good reputation.
 
Most people are known for being either punctual or chronically late. Punctuality, or the lack of it, is a character trait that tells other people how dependable we are. The unpunctual may consider their chronic tardiness unavoidable (“That’s just how I am!”). But, while the unpunctual may not realize it, their continued lateness stems from a combination of pride and lack of time management skills. Chronically late people have subconsciously adopted a perspective that says, “I’m important enough that others will wait for me.” It communicates to those who must wait that their schedules are not a priority. So making it a point to be punctual is a way of obeying the Scriptures that tell us to consider others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3–4).
 
Punctuality is also a byproduct of the spiritual fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:22). Self-control requires that we be proactive about our choices and our schedules. Rather than reacting to unexpected events, punctual people have already allowed for the unexpected by allotting extra time for such an occurrence. The unpunctual are usually procrastinators, leaving too many last-minute tasks that must be completed before moving to the next one. By contrast, punctual people are planners who give attention to future events and the time required to honor their commitments. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Diligent people are usually punctual because wise time management is required to accomplish their goals.
 
While all of us will be late from time to time, punctual people are bothered by their own tardiness and do not let it become a habit. Chronically late people, however, have developed an indifference to the problems caused by their continued lateness. Although they apologize and feign regret, they don’t take the necessary steps to change it. The chronically tardy may never know the opportunities, relationships, and responsibilities they forfeited because they could not be counted on to be there. Those who’ve known them for long enough to notice their lack of punctuality simply stop asking for their help.
 
Many have recognized the error in their natural tendency to procrastinate and have worked to overcome it. They have taught themselves, through discipline and external consequences, to leave earlier than they think they need to. They realize that their procrastination is a form of laziness and repent of it, learning new ways to accomplish their goals. Punctuality can replace lateness as a new habit over time, and soon those who struggled to be on time find that lateness bothers them, too.
 


Gotquestion.org
Bible Questions Answered | GotQuestions.org




Glad I let GQ answer it; I would have never thought of pride – but they’re spot on!  Trust you all had a blessed Thanksgiving; hope to see you Sunday, either in person or on FacebookLIVE!

Silent Sermon – November 20, 2020

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination. As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.” Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

Many of you have read this before; it’s still a good reminder and I believe it applies to marriages and friendship, even as it does to our spiritual fervor. Please know that while I do care about WOGF thriving, I care even more about His Church-at-large thriving. And it’s pretty clear, just from the book of Hebrews alone, that if Satan can get his way and can scatter the embers, he wins, at least a local victory over those embers he puts out. I certainly don’t want to be a part of having to account for that! (Hebrews 13:17)

See you Sunday if you can attend safely!