Digital Inequities – April 24, 2020

lights cameraYou may, in your surfing of YouTube or FaceBook, have noticed that different churches have been able to accomplish different varieties of services during this social distancing era.  And you maybe wondering why Word of Grace Fellowship hasn’t had a drive-in service or worship music, etc…  so I thought I’d take a shot at answering a couple of those:

Drive-In Service: In the weeks before Palm Sunday I asked the City of Raytown for permission to do a parking lot service on Palm Sunday and Easter.  I proposed that the congregation would stay in their cars.  We would broadcast to their FM radios and to Facebook Live.  The City of Raytown redirected me to the Jackson County Department of Health.  I left voicemails and sent emails, but they did not respond.  Once upon a time, we used to say that silence gives consent, but given our experience with the county I wanted permission in writing, so the drive-in service was a bust.  The churches closest to us that I am aware of which held drive-in services published that they had received their waivers from their local police stations.  I guess I missed that step.

Music Online:  As I surf other services and see music being played online, my first thought is almost always, “I hope they have the right license!”  I seriously doubt the FCC has enough employees during this pandemic-driven online church era to police it, but I still believe we ought to obey the laws and contracts we agreed to when we bought the music we use. 

Here at Word of Grace and at most churches that want to use music produced in the 20th or 21st centuries, we use a copyright service to assure that the copyright holders get their royalties.  We pay an annual fee that is adjusted according to the size of the congregation for the right to project, play and sing their music.  We use a service called Christian Copyright License International (CCLI).   Up until a week or so ago our license only included songs we played in-house.  Therefore, tapes, CDs, and, lately, streamed services contained preaching only, because we didn’t have the license to record music.

Recently money was donated to upgrade our license.  We are now legal to stream the music portion or our Sunday service.  When we are back in business, if you are watching our service on Facebook Live or YouTube, you can watch the WHOLE service.  (That was the donor’s intent.)  The natural query that arises is what about now during the stay-at-home order?   I don’t know if you picked it up, and I can’t really wrap my head around it, since once something is “streamed” it’s recorded, but we can only live-stream.  We can’t record songs and then upload, which is how we are now doing Sunday messages, because we are all doing these from our own homes or at different times in order to follow the social distancing guidelines.  The only way we can abide by our license agreement and add music to our service is if we all gather on Sunday and stream the service at 9:30.  Frankly, too many of us fall into the susceptible category (me included) for all of us to gather on stage until we are sure it’s safe.  

If you really want to know the ins and outs of this, you can spend some hours on this website:  or email Pastor Tom.  🙂 

Pray with me this ends soon,

Pastor Scott

Carnal Believers – April 17, 2020

be516f3cd6d6b8b0b3b82862bf6c3aa1This past Wednesday night I felt like Eeyore all alone in his meadow with his broken balloon.  It’s been weird trying to adjust to preaching to the congregation through a camera lens, but then to find out mid-high point that the congregation couldn’t see or hear me… it was a tad deflating.  🙂

Anyway, I was in the middle of answering an Ask-the-Pastor question that reads like this:   

1 John 2:15-17 says that whoever loves the world does not have the love of God in him.  Does this mean he is not born again? How do we handle those who say they are believers and yet love the world and exude worldliness? 

There is a whole sermon in this question, but I’ll try to handle just three main points that jump out at me.

  1. What does it mean to be born again?  In the opening paragraph(s) of Ephesians, Paul lists a number of things that happened before we were born (some before the world was created), and in verse 13 it says that when we heard the gospel and believed, we were sealed by the Holy Spirit into all of those truths.  In fact, in a survey of Paul’s, Peter’s, and the author of Hebrews’ writings, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chaffer famously distilled 33 benefits that accrued to our account the moment of salvation. I like to picture one of those old attic doors up in the ceiling with a pull string.  Imagine that you’re covered in honey and there are 33 feathers up there; faith is what pulls that string. In a moment, an instant, you are covered with all 33 feathers, benefits of salvation, and they are yours forever. (Chaffer’s list is below.)
  2. “They say they are believers.” Here lies an issue.  #1 is a list of God’s promises and they occur at the moment of faith, but that moment occurs between the believer and God, not between the believer’s parent, pastor, or teacher and God.  Sometimes we need to take these opportunities to challenge a young person to make his faith personal. Secondly, we need to remember that when a child becomes a believer he is still a child and still has to grow up.  “Christian kids still get spankings” because foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Also, discipleship/Christian growth is NOT automatic, else there wouldn’t be so many issues the epistles had to cover. Sometimes the Holy Spirit convicts without the input of the Word or the Body, but many times it takes time and the input of both to sharpen the believer.
  3. Finally we come to the verses in 1 John.  I believe John was a) writing about fellowship (1 John 1) and b) writing about false teachers (1 John 2:26).  So I don’t read the warning in 2:15, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” as being a warning to the recipients of the letter so much as it is a reminder that these false teachers who clearly love the world shouldn’t be listened to.  It reminds me of James teaching in James 3 about bitter and pure water coming from the same well. God’s love isn’t going to share space with love of the world.  Now, just because the force of the writing is toward false teachers doesn’t mean it’s not true of everybody.  If we are loving the world, we are not displaying the love of the Father. If we are truly saved, then we are walking in a manner that is unworthy (Eph 4:1) and the call is to repent!  

Your Brother in Christ,

Pastor Scott

Chaffer’s List (sans Scripture references because they were all hyperlinks)

1)  Forgiven

2)  Child of God

3)  Having access to God

4)  Reconciled

5)  Justified

6)  Placed “in Christ” 

7)  Acceptable to God

8)  Heavenly citizenship

9)  Of the family and household of God

10)  A heavenly association

11)  Within the “much more” care of God

12)  Glorified

13)  In the fellowship of the saints

14)  On the rock, Christ Jesus

15)  A part in the eternal plan of God

16)  Redeemed 

17)  A living relationship with God

18)  Free from the law

19)  Adoption

20) Brought near

21)  Delivered from the power of darkness

22)  Entrance into a new kingdom

23)  A gift from God the Father to Christ

24)  Circumcised in Christ

25)  Members of a royal and holy priesthood

26)  A chosen generation, a holy nation, a peculiar people

27)  His inheritance

28)  The inheritance of the saints

29)  Light in the Lord

30)  United to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

31)  Blessed with the firstfruits of the Spirit

32)  Complete in Him

33)  Possessing every spiritual blessing

Good Friday – April 10, 2020

Me: Okay, God, here’s the thing. I’m scared. I’m trying not to be, but I am.

God: I know. Want to talk about it?

Me: Do we need to? I mean, you already know.

God: Let’s talk about it anyway… We’ve done this before.

Me: I know, I just feel like I should be bigger or stronger of something by now.

God: *waiting patiently, unhurried, undistracted, never annoyed.

Me: Okay. So, I’m afraid I’ll do everything I can to protect my family and it won’t be enough. I’m afraid of someone I love dying. I’m afraid the world won’t go back to what it was before. I’m afraid my life is always going to feel a little bit unsettled.

God: Anything else?


God: Remember how Jaxton woke up the other night and came running down the hall to your bedroom?

Me: Yes.

God: You were still awake, so when you heard him running, you started calling out to him before he even got to you… remember? Do you remember what you called out to him?

Me: I said, “You’re okay! You’re okay! You’re okay!”

God: Why did you call to him? Why didn’t you just wait for him to get to your room?

Me: Because I wanted him to know that I was awake, and I heard him, and he didn’t have to be afraid until he reached the end of the dark hallway.

God: Exactly. I hear you, daughter. I hear your thoughts racing like feet down the dark hallway. There’s an other side to all of this. I’m there already. I’ve seen the end of it. And I want you to know right here as you walk through it all, you’re okay. I haven’t gone to sleep, and I won’t.

Me: *crying. Can we sit together awhile? Can we just sit here a minute before I go back to facing it all?

God: There’s nothing I’d love more.

Copyright©️ Becky Thompson.

Note from Pastor Scott:  This piece is a sampling from a new mom’s devotional that is being previewed on a site I follow.  I don’t know the author, but she has good tastes in Bible Camps insofar as where she posted her preview.  It resonated with me, I think, because I’m “office-ing” at home these days and there be children here!  Here’s more about Becky’s book:

For more hope and encouragement, Order my new book, Midnight Mom Devotional: 365 Prayers to Put Your Momma Heart to Rest, releasing in one week! It’s available at Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and just about everywhere books are sold.💕

Persistence – April 3, 2020

persistence“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”  2 Corinthians 4:7-9

These are verses we all love to go to in hard times.  And they stand alone very well, but if you have a moment, I would encourage you to read the whole of chapter 4.  Note how it starts and ends with the phrase “we will not lose heart.” We, as a nation, as a church, as families, are going through a rough patch right now.  Paul’s entire ministry life was a rough patch (cf. Acts 9:16) and yet he didn’t lose heart or stay down because his eyes were fixed on the eternal prize (2 Cor. 4:18).  Let’s try to remember throughout this and any other trial Satan sends our way that our hope is NOT in this world. With Christ, we can live to fight another day until He takes us home.  I love this purely physical story of Andrew Jackson’s persistence. Maybe it will help you as it has helped me to not stay down! 🙂 PS  

The story is told that Andrew Jackson’s boyhood friends just couldn’t understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They knew of other men who had greater talent but who never succeeded. One of Jackson’s friends said, “Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now.” Another friend responded, “How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn’t they usually say three times and out?” “Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat — he would never stay ‘throwed.’ Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andrew Jackson would throw him and be the winner.” Picking up on that idea, someone has said, “The thing that counts is not how many times you are ‘throwed,’ but whether you are willing to stay ‘throwed’.” We may face setbacks, but we must take courage and go forward in faith. Then, through the Holy Spirit’s power we can be the eventual victor over sin and the world. The battle is the Lord’s, so there is no excuse for us to stay “throwed”!