Q&A – October 30, 2018

question markThis blog was written in response to questions that were received on and around Sunday, October 21, the Sunday that Pastor Jim and I team taught about being led by the Holy Spirit.  It’s being published a week late because my computer spent a week “in the shop.” The following are five quick answers to five good questions, each of which may stimulate longer answers as part of a sermon in weeks to come.  Happy reading!

Question #1 from the Sermon on 10/21:  In Acts 1:8 it states; “but you will receive…” Why do you assume that the “you” applies to all of us and not just to the Eleven who He was speaking to?

Great question!  Perhaps the easiest answer is found in the writings of the last Apostle, who incidentally was not there when Jesus ascended, but was holding the coats of the men who stoned Stephen….  The Apostle Paul writes to the mostly Gentile church at Corinth that each of those Corinthian believers had received gifts chosen by and empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11).  So the power promised to the Eleven that were there at Christ’s ascension was promised by the twelfth, who wasn’t there, to a church that didn’t even know YHYH when Christ made that promise to the Eleven.  Therefore, being a member of the same church, having been baptized by the same Holy Spirit, I believe I (we) have the same power (cf. John 17:20).

Question #2 from the Sermon on 10/21:  We talk about the Holy Spirit indwelling us upon our belief, yet you read Galatians 5:19 regarding those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  What if we have the Spirit yet do these things? I also think of Hebrews 10:27. Thanks.

I believe that Galatians 5:19 is a rhetorical reminder of a warning that Paul gave the Galatians when he was preaching there, that grace doesn’t mean license, and that God will change you.   He is reminding them that “of course you will want to walk in the Spirit because you don’t want to live like those who aren’t going to inherit* the kingdom.” Secondly, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer; He also seals the believer (Ephesians 1:13); the believer isn’t in danger of losing his or her eternal salvation; but the believer is in danger of temporal discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11) and loss of heavenly reward (1 Cor 3:10-15).   

*If this talk of “loss of inheritance” is to believers, then it’s a reference to the Bema Seat rewards.  As to Hebrews 10:27 – All of Hebrews is one big argument that it’s Christ or NOTHING. The first part of Chapter 10 talks about the once for all offering and then the tone changes to “but if you…..”  He’s not talking to the believer who goofs up; he’s talking to the soul that rejects Jesus.

Question #3 from the Aisle:  Can you explain the three vertical bar logo on our sign?

This question was asked on Facebook recently, and here is the answer from the artist himself… “Our primary focus in creating this logo was for the design to be aesthetically pleasing and memorable enough for it to generate brand recognition. In other words, we want people to see the logo and instantly think of us. As far as any spiritual significance, there is some room for interpretation. The number three is a big one in the Bible, appearing a number of different ways: three crosses, three days between Christ’s death and resurrection, three parts of the Holy Trinity. We don’t hold to any one of those interpretations in particular.”

Question #4 from an Email: Are children covered by parents’ salvation until the child is old enough to make a decision for him or herself?

This is a hard question, because the Bible gives us hints, but no outright teaching.  In 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul says children are sanctified by the believing parent, but Paul isn’t specific in his definition.  It’s part of his argument for a believing spouse to stay with his/her unbelieving spouse, so he doesn’t dig into the theology behind his statement.  I do, additionally, believe that unbelievers will understand the reason they are being judged. So if a child is too young to understand the wrong he has done, I don’t believe a Holy God would convict him.  We also know that David believed he’d see his infant son again (2 Samuel 12:23). And finally we know that God didn’t hold the children of the Israelites accountable for the sins of their parents at Kadesh. In Numbers 14:29 he excuses everyone 19 and under from the curse of death by wandering.  So is the child covered by their parents? I don’t know. Is the child given time to grow into accountability and understanding? Yes. How much time? That is the question we have to leave in the hands of our holy, merciful, all wise and all loving Heavenly Father.

Question #5, also from an Email:   Are boundaries biblical or are they a kinder way of saying I’m unwilling to forgive? Is there a difference between holding a grudge and setting a boundary?

I think there can be a difference.  I think it takes God-given discernment, possibly including wise counsel to tell the difference.  My concern with claiming “boundary” is that it can be used to cover a grudge, but obviously you see that, too.

Preventing continued abuse is the best example of a boundary that might be necessary, even if forgiveness has been extended.  Just be cautious and practice the Golden Rule. Imagine how hurtful it would be if someone put up a wall keeping you out because you talk too loudly or wear mismatched socks!

Keep the questions coming and do remember to walk in the Spirit who illumines God’s holy word! (John 16:13)

Pastor Scott


Grudges – October 19, 2018


We all have people in our lives who have a hard time getting over stuff.  Maybe it’s a co-worker who keeps double checking your work ever since you made that one little mistake.  Or that spouse who won’t ever let you forget the time you forgot your anniversary. Most of the time when someone bears a grudge we never know it – it just changes the fellowship we have with them.  Of course, there is only so much we can do about someone else’s grudge, but we can most certainly be responsible for ourselves.  I try to keep three things in mind.

1)  What is this grudge (nursing of bitterness or resentment) accomplishing?

Grudges only harm me, not the person I resent.  But while I may “know” that, I often don’t process it that way.  Remember:

“To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.” ~William Walton

“Once armies carried cannonballs with them, afraid they would meet the enemy somewhere and have nothing to shoot at it. In terms of specific gravity, grudges are about as heavy as cannonballs. But it makes little sense to carry them. Most likely, the “enemy” is unaware of your enmity, and surely would be surprised to learn that you’ve been stalking him with a cannonball in your pocket. So examine your grudges. Do what armies do when hostilities are over: unload the cannonballs and stack them on the courthouse lawn. Then marvel at how much easier it is to get around.” ~James Thom  

2)    Is this the way a grown-up acts?A grudge is the adult equivalent of pouting.  It’s the behavior of a child who isn’t getting his/her way and can neither accept nor change that fact.   As we grow up we should learn to accept (be content) with what we cannot change and we should also learn to work hard to change those things we can change.  When as an adult I’m powerless to change a circumstance and also unwilling to accept said circumstance, I may look for a scapegoat to resent, and there is my grudge.  Or I may have a conflict with someone and despite the apologies and words of forgiveness, I still hang on to some bitterness because, like a child, it makes me feel like I have an upper hand.  There may be countless scenarios wherein the best way for me to deal with the issue is to simply get out my driver’s license and do a little math. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” ~1 Corinthians 13:11

3)    Is this grudge affecting my fellowship* with my Savior?  The answer is simply, “yes!”  Not only does it grieve the Holy Spirit – check out the flow of thought at the end of Ephesians 4 – but Jesus Himself said that it will hinder my prayer! Remember His discussion in Mark 11 about asking in faith after the disciples were marveling at the fig tree He had cursed?  After telling them to pray believing, He added these words:  “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” ~Mark 11:25,26   Chilling words!  Brother, sister, if you’re carrying around bitterness or resentment because of some hurt, sin or even disappointment, let it go.  My unwillingness to forgive, let go, tear up the debt I’m holding affects my fellowship with God. Since I desperately want His forgiveness, I must forgive!

Bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and grudges only hurt me, make me look like a child, and prevent God’s fellowship forgiveness of me.  Perhaps it’s time to let it go!

Pastor Scott

*If you have trusted Jesus with your eternal life, you were forgiven of all sin for all time (Hebrews 10:1-18) and have been adopted as God’s child – that is your relationship.  Your relationship doesn’t change; you will always be His kid.  The conditional forgiveness Jesus talks of here and in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6) must, therefore, be speaking of our fellowship with Him (e.g., even if your mom isn’t speaking to you, she’s still your mom.  Your relationship hasn’t changed; how you experience, or fellowship, within that relationship has.)

Walking AND Chewing Gum

monks tower

I was challenged recently by a contractor who happened to notice the end-times timeline on the wall as he walked through the church building.  He spent a considerable amount of time attempting to persuade me that not only can we not possibly know what God has planned, but that those of us who spend time studying eschatology (future things) lose touch with meeting the needs of the people that Jesus came to save in the first place.  He likened it to those who are so concerned with their own personal holiness that they build tower walls to separate themselves from the world and have no impact on it.  It was a lively debate and I certainly hope we weren’t paying him hourly…. But it did remind me of something in Pastor Grout’s recent blogs that said that we shouldn’t be too quick to brush off criticism without first seeing if any of it is merited.

Am I so preoccupied with being right about doctrine, including eschatology, that I’m not involved in doing good things in people’s lives?  Or am I so concerned about remaining unstained by the world that I have no contact with the world for whom Christ died?  The answer for me, and I contend for all of us, is “NO!”  Even if we really are completely disconnected from doing good and from loving people, it’s NOT because we are too highly focused on doctrine and/or holiness.  It might be that our lives are too crowded.  It might be timidity.   It might be laziness, or selfishness, or ______.  But it’s not holiness and it’s not “looking for the blessed hope” that keeps the “Good News” bottled up inside of us!

Let’s look at a familiar text:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people.  It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.   He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good.  Titus 2:11-14 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Looks to me, that If I’m living the way God intended, God’s grace not only saves me, but it trains me to live a more holy life, it encourages me to look forward to His coming and will make me zealous for good works!!

Beloved, with the Holy Spirit living in us, not only can we walk and chew gum at the same time – we are supposed to!


Pastor Scott

Shock Absorbers – October 5, 2018


All of our cars have some flex in their undercarriage.  Not because any municipality sets out to make a bad road, but because wear, tear, and weather make roads bad.  It’s so common to find a rough spot that our vehicles are designed to accommodate them.   The truth is roads aren’t the only place we can find imperfection.  If we look hard enough, we can find fault with our neighbor’s lawn, our friend’s laugh, our brother’s parenting style, our churches carpet selection; the list goes on.  I don’t even need to have a gift for it, criticism and fault finding is easy.  In fact, if I put my mind to it, I can disparage anyone or anything.  The Triune God is the ONLY perfect being in the universe and I bet if we took a poll 50% of respondents would take issue with His choices!

Let’s choose to be different.  Let’s stop doing the easy thing, the natural thing.  Let’s let our conversation be seasoned with salt, giving grace to all who hear (Col 4:6).  Let’s make sure our words are edifying, not destructive (Eph 4:29).  And let’s see if we can make the Golden rule apply to our words and our thoughts, even as we do our actions.   It’s too easy, at least for me, to gripe or complain to a brother about a brother, which is just makes me a gossip (literally a terrorist – James 3:5-6).  So, just as we teach our children, I – and perhaps many of my readers – need to learn again, to tell my troubles to God, and speak words of encouragement to others!*

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Scott

*Of course there are times when an individual can benefit from reproof, correction, or instruction, but speaking with the individual is more helpful than speaking about the individual.  🙂