God & Adolf Hitler – December 31, 2019

question mark

On Sunday, December 29, I preached on Romans 13.  It was an odd choice for a holiday weekend, but I was trying to wrap up our study of Romans before the New Year and had encountered some weather hurdles right before Christmas.  In Romans 13:1, Paul reminds his readers that they are “to be in subjection to governing authorities and there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.”  I used the subheading God “Chose” Hitler as the title of that paragraph in my outline.  I put quote marks around the word chose because I don’t really know how to explain it, and really wanted to spend some time discussing God’s permissive will vs. His perfect will.  However, that wasn’t the point of the passage and I do prefer to preach the author’s intent!

That said, in the after-service receiving line, more than one person was a little unsettled with the concept, and on Monday, another congregant took the time to message me this:

So Question… On Sunday you said God chose Hitler.  My first thought is I do not agree, but that He allowed Hitler to be in charge.  The reason being if God chose Hitler He was choosing someone who did evil things.  Whereas allowing him to be in charge/rule was just our sinful world playing out in its sinful ways.  Change my mind.  🙂

My short or “gut” answer is, I agree!  I don’t know how to harmonize Romans 13:1 and James 1:13 any better than that.  However, we can’t discount the fact that God wants us to know that He holds these kings and rulers in His hands.  Nebuchadnezzar was probably responsible for killing more Jews than Hitler and yet God said, very specifically, of him: “And let a beast’s mind be given to him…in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes, and sets over it the lowliest of men.” (Babylon was the world-spanning empire and Nebby was the Emperor to whom the Most High was speaking.)

So while God may indeed “allow” rather than “choose”, He is still sovereign and could just as easily “disallow” as He did when He ended the rule of Nebuchadnezzar’s heir, Belshazzar, in a single night!  (Daniel 5:30). Perhaps we can think of it this way:  God used Cyrus to take out Belshazzar and He used the Allies to take out Hitler.  So a ruler can’t rule one minute longer than God allows and, therefore, they rule at His pleasure.  With that understanding of God’s will we’ll have to content ourselves! (Job 38-40)  

Pastor Scott 


Staying on Course – December 29, 2019

fun signWe (Scott & Kelly) have a weird driveway.  It’s one lane straight down to a three-lane, 120 degree left turn onto a parking pad.  It’s easy to drive down, going forward, but for some reason it’s very hard to go back up it.  It takes lots of microcorrections, as evidenced by how many first-time visitors to our house have taken out the mailbox and/or power box on either side of the driveway.  🙂   Life can be that way, too. Without course corrections we can find ourselves way off course without realizing it.  Or maybe a better analogy is that we can get all tangled up in weights that encumber us from running the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2, cf. 2 Timothy 2:4).

As we walk in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and each other, these course corrections should be made constantly and consistently, but life gets BUSY and it’s not a bad idea to STOP and take stock every once in a while.  The children of Israel cleaned out their whole houses before Passover. Here in the West we tend to get contemplative as we roll into the New Year.  This New Year’s, take time to pray through these eleven passages and ask God to search your heart (Psalm 139:23-24).


Have you been holding a grudge against anyone? Have you been secretly unforgiving? Desiring revenge? Secretly jealous of someone? Harboring bitterness? Unwilling to forget a misunderstanding? Hateful? Do you avoid people you dislike but who need your love? Are you critical or judgmental of others? Do you justify your bad attitude by claiming it is their fault? Do you gossip to feel superior or better about yourself? Have you worn a self-protective mask and failed to let people get close to you?


In what areas of your life have you failed to put God first? Do any of the following interfere with doing God’s will … your personal ambitions and goals, your fun and hobbies, your job, your desire to get rich, your own plans, your habits, your friendships, your family? Do you find you don’t have time for God? For prayer? For Bible reading? For small group? Have other activities made you irregular at worship? Is there anything you would be unwilling to give up if God asked you?


Do you complain and whine about your circumstances? Are you ungrateful? Irritable or cranky? Always speak negatively? Do you get angry easily and blow up or pout? Are you ever harsh or unkind? Are you unteachable? Sarcastic? Do you put down others instead of building them up? Do you worry about things God wants you to trust Him with? Are you fearful or anxious? Do you try to control people or circumstances? Impatient? Prideful or stubborn?


Are you honest in all your dealings? Do you find it easy to lie? Do you exaggerate to make yourself look better? Leave a better impression of yourself than is true? Have you cheated on taxes? Have you stolen things? Failed to return things? Do you do good things hoping to impress others? Do you pretend to live one way in front of your Christian friends and another way at home or at work? Do you keep your promises? Are you dependable?


Have you failed to guard your mind from unhealthy, ungodly input? Have you filled your mind with sleazy or profane movies, television programs, magazines, or books? Do you participate in entertainment that causes you to have impure thoughts? Pornography? Do you spend more time with the TV or the internet than with God’s Word? Are you lazy in memorizing scripture verses?


Have you failed to dedicate all of your possessions to the Lord? Have you acted like your possessions belong to you, not God? Have you robbed God by not giving him the 10% tithe that he commands? Do you find yourself resentful or defensive when asked to give to God’s work? Are you eager to get rich? Are you stingy with wealth? Have you failed to trust God with your finances? Do you need to be more generous with what God has given you?


Are you in any way careless with your body or health? Is there any activity or habit that is harmful to you? Are you lazy or undisciplined?


Do you tend to follow your moods or feelings rather than doing what you know is right? Do you allow your emotions to be inspired for the Lord at church but then do nothing about it? Do you focus more on your circumstances instead of the promises of God? Have you failed to trust God with the disappointments of your life?


Are you accountable to any small group of believers for growth? Are you using your God-given shape in some ministry? Do you pray for your church and your pastors? Have you been critical instead of helpful? Have you expected to be “fed” without giving back?


Are you unkind to those you live with? Do you pray for them? Do you need to ask forgiveness from a family member? Have you been unfaithful to your spouse mentally, emotionally, or physically?


Have you failed to share the Good News of Christ … with your relatives? With friends? With co-workers? With neighbors? Kept silent in fear?


1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins to God, He can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.”

I found this “unattributed” in my files.  Also online on a number of sites. ~ Pastor Scott

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. ~ 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Christmas Meditation – December 20, 2019

It was probably the late 70’s when Evie put out her Christmas album, “Come On, Ring Those Bells,” which immediately joined our family record stack at Christmas.  One song was a medley of two hymns, “No Room” and “Have You Any Room for Jesus?” During those high school and college years that medley always got me. Seems that whether it was my studies, my girlfriend, my jobs, or my hobbies, something had crowded out Jesus and I was humbly reminded at Christmas.  

Of course now as a husband, pastor, father, grandfather and football fan, I never let Jesus get crowded out!  :-}

How about you?

There was no room in the inn 2000 years ago.  The Holy Spirit via Luke felt it was important to mention.

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Scott


Christmas Meditation – Dec. 13, 2019

74da3aa7dcf36d89ba0bbd6ef98df225I love Ken Gire’s creative depictions from the life of Jesus entitled “Moments with the Savior.”  I find myself especially drawn to the moments surrounding the birth narrative.  The pull quote below is just part of his meditation on the encounter Mary had with Gabriel…

But it was one thing for Elizabeth to become pregnant. It was quite another thing for Mary.  Elizabeth was married, and had been most of her life.  Mary was engaged, and that only recently.  In light of that, her response is extraordinary.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”

When Mary submitted to God’s will, she subjected herself to great risk.  In the balance hung not only her reputation but her life.  At worst, she would be stoned.  At best, she would be ridiculed.

Imagine the rumors that would circulate around the only spring in town where everyone came to draw water.  “Loosely woven morals always come unraveled,” an old woman piously says as she fills her jar.  Another woman, half in Mary’s defense, speaks up.  “So easy for a nice girl to get in trouble here, what, with foreign traders spending the night, Roman soldiers passing through.”

As Mary’s story would become public, the rumors would harden to ridicule.  Imagine the looks.  The smirks. The comments.  “An Angel visited her?  Uh huh.  And said what?  The Holy Spirit.  She said that?  And you believed her?”

Who in their right mind would?

Joseph?  Her in-laws?  The rabbi?  Who?

Maybe no one would believe.  But that wouldn’t keep her from believing.

Her faith was courageous.  We know that because her decision was quick, and her obedience complete.  She would submit to God.  Regardless of the questions it would raise.  Or the eyebrows.  Regardless of the cost.  Or the consequences.  Regardless if it meant losing her reputation. Or the man she loved.

Even her very life.

And maybe, of all the favorable qualities this young woman had, maybe it was this “regardless” quality that made her most suited to the task of raising such a wonderful promise.  For “regardless” had to be a quality that was instinctive if the promise were ever to grow up and reach fulfillment as Savior of the world.

I found that instructive for my faith.  After all, isn’t that what faith is?  “God, here I am.  Do with me what You will!”

Blessing and Merry Christmas!

Pastor Scott

Marriage Study Survey – December 6, 2019

downloadIn Sunday’s bulletin we asked if couples would be interested in a 10-week marriage study beginning in January.  As the bulletin announcement explained, I wanted to find out “who” before we figured out “when.” But based on some discussions I had after church, I realized the announcement needs more explanation.

In early October we hosted a two-day Marriage Matters seminar here at WOGF that we put together ourselves.  We used a combination of live and video teachers. One of the video teachers was acclaimed marriage author Emerson Eggerichs.  In his teaching he “teased” his ten-week seminar, now available as combination of video/discussion/workbook kit, which we own. At the October seminar we promised to make the seminar available this January.

This is a phenomenal seminar.  It’s great for couples in the early years and couples in the twilight years.  It will help couples whose marriage is on the rocks and couples whose marriage rarely ever sees any turbulence.  If you have a perfect marriage, we ESPECIALLY want you to come, because the rest of us need your leadership, example, and mentoring!  Plan NOW to attend, whenever this class runs! ~PS

After we see who wants to take part, the question we need to answer is what works better – a weeknight (e.g. Thursday)? A Saturday morning? Or the Sunday morning Bible Study (SS) hour?  The first two could be in homes or here at church, depending on the number of people involved and childcare needs. If we used the Bible Study hour, the study would likely go longer than ten weeks, but it might be easiest in terms of kids, etc.

And that’s why I wanted to find out “who” before I tried to figure out the when!  🙂

Pastor Scott