Elevator Time – June 26, 2020

thnakfulness = joyOn Sunday,July 14th, we had what we call a “Body Life Service” where we encourage people to to share testimonies.  The focus was to be on God’s provision during the COVID-19 lock-down, yet it was inclusive of other issues as well.  Yesterday I received a prayer letter from the Hughes, our Ethnos360 Missionaries serving at McNeal Air Base. It made me wish someone had transcribed our Body Life Service.  In the letter Kay summarized a similar discussion she had with her ladies; be encouraged!

After 3 months of not meeting together because of COVID-19, our ladies here at McNeal had an “Elevator Time”.  This is a monthly fellowship where we do a variety of things to encourage and “lift up” one another.  After playing a fun game using coronavirus terms, I asked the ladies to take a few minutes to consider what the Lord has revealed to them about “themselves” or “Himself” during this time of “being still.”  It was encouraging, and interesting how so many of the thoughts overlapped.  Things such as:

God’s Sovereignty   vs.   I am not in control

God’s Protection   vs.   what I can do to protect myself

God’s peace   vs.   anxiety in the circumstances around me

God is truth   vs.   how can I ever know truth in all the conflicting media reports

God is our hope   vs.   we are not called to fight issues, but rather to share the gospel of hope with others

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

  Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

  And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


Because of Christ,

Pastor Scott

Racism and Me – June 19, 2020

racial recon

I had thought to write a piece this week about the brotherhood of man. I was going to start in Genesis 1 pointing out that the entire human race is related through Adam.  Then my eyes fell on chapter 4 and I was quickly reminded that brotherhood doesn’t guarantee peace. The first brother murdered the second brother!  It got so bad generations later that God destroyed the whole earth and started over!  Still even after that, most of the atrocities in recorded history were committed between close relations until nations got big enough to form large armies.

The cool thing is that despite the fact that humans, starting with Cain, have been messing up for centuries, God has never stopped loving us. He sent Moses to redeem His people from Egypt. He sent David to unite His people in the Promised Land. He sent Jesus to redeem ALL His people and Jesus is coming again to restore justice and order once and for all.

As I said at the beginning, I had hoped to write a piece of soaring rhetoric that would offer, if not a solution, at least some new insights. However, I’m afraid I must instead come back to what, for us, seems like an old truth. Before Jesus left this earth the last time, He gathered His disciples and He said this; A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35 NKJV)  I can hear you now – “Scott, that’s it?  The streets are burning and that’s all you got?”  Beloved, He died. He rose. He is coming again. He’s doing the work of redemption.  He asked us to tell everybody and to LOVE!  Because love is not natural.  The world is all about self; love is all about others. Let’s focus on loving, and like ripples in a pond let’s affect those around us. I can’t make a difference for everyone, but I can make a difference for someone, and so can you!

Pastor Scott

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

June 9, 2020 – Guest Blog: We Need Missionaries to Christendom

Pastor Scott is on vacation this week. Author Shawn Lazar wrote the following blog on June 3, 2020, via Grace Evangelical Society:

I recently turned forty-two, and just this morning, I learned that Søren Kierkegaard died at forty-two. I knew he died young, but I never took note of his age.

Kierkegaard wrote numerous books and pamphlets, often under pseudonyms, writing in different “voices,” taking different points of view, writing experimentally, with some writings being enigmatically philosophical and others, often written under his own name, being explicitly Christian. And the question that people had was, “Why?”

Philosophers (especially atheist philosophers) have grown to love a “version” of Kierkegaard—i.e., Kierkegaard as an early “existentialist” or postmodern deconstructionist. But other scholars have said that misconstrues Kierkegaard’s work. What was Kierkegaard trying to achieve?

In one of his last books, My Point of View for My Work as an Author, he explained what he was doing: he was a missionary.

He thought of himself a Christian missionary to Christendom.

Kierkegaard lived at a time (the early 19th century) when all Danes were considered Christian because they were Danish! It was the state religion. You were baptized as a baby, and that became your religion. Kierkegaard went to seminary to become a pastor and realized that for most of the fellow students, being a pastor was just a profession, a way to make a middle-class living without there being a connection to a living faith.

“The apostasy from Christianity will not come about by everybody openly renouncing Christianity; no, but slyly, cunningly, by everybody assuming the name of being Christian” (Provocations, p. 232).

That’s what he saw: people calling themselves Christian who had no faith.

Given that hypocrisy, Kierkegaard could not bring himself to become a pastor. Instead, he chose to become a missionary to nominal Christians living in Christendom. He wrote religious works to build up Christians, and he wrote philosophical works to “seduce” nominal Christians into thinking more deeply about existence and perhaps lead them to God.

Although I’ve read a good deal of Kierkegaard, it has mostly been his philosophical works, not his theology. Frankly, I can’t say what Kierkegaard thought about the saving message. Did he believe in faith alone or faith plus works? I don’t know (I’ve seen quotes that could go either way). But my point is not to defend Kierkegaard’s theology. Rather, my point is, like Kierkegaard, you and I are missionaries, too, aren’t we?

After all, we live in Christendom. Is America a Christian nation? No more than was Denmark in the 19th century. Plenty of people take the name “Christian”—but are they?

We live at a time when millions of people think of themselves as Christian by default, without a real understanding, still less a real faith, in Jesus as their Messiah.

Just this week, I saw a picture of a priest “baptizing” a baby from a distance using a squirt gun (see here)! That’s Christianity and becoming Christian according to many (e.g., Catholics, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, United Methodist, Presbyterian, and so on). That kind of Christendom is very, very sick.

Who is going to tell them about the promise of everlasting life? Who will disciple them to live a life pleasing to the Lord? Who is going to teach them about the hope of reigning with Christ in the kingdom?

It can’t only be pastors who are busy reaching in and caring for their flock. It will be missionaries who are reaching out—people like you and me—who can share the grace message with cultural Christians.

Kierkegaard saw the need for missionaries to cultural Christians and took it upon himself to reach out—will you?

Social Discourse 101 – June 5, 2020

sheep arguingGrowing up we lived near enough to my dad’s parents to regularly have Sunday dinner with them until we moved away after my 9th grade year.   When I was in 6th grade my mom (I’m being totally transparent here) started dressing me a little more stylishly.  To my grandpa’s eye, those styles looked like what the Hippies wore, but he skipped right over the Hippies and called me a Communist.  I had no idea what he was talking about, but I knew what a Communist was; so my response was, “Grandpa, I have two paper routes!” –  which, of course, didn’t change his opinion about my plaid pants.

The moral of the story is that he never did change my opinion about the clothing (I still wore plaid for a couple more years); he changed my opinion about his opinion – about him.* I knew for a fact that plaid pants did not make me a Communist.

Sniping causes the one attacked to protect himself.  Some protect themselves by hiding, some by running away, some by creating a shell.  And some snipe back.  In my case I tend to disregard the opinion of those who snipe.  I don’t think many are changed or persuaded by sniping.  

On social media the urge to snipe (argue with someone’s post)** is likely to assure that others aren’t persuaded by something we see as untrue or misleading.  And I get that!!  BUT when I comment under someone’s post, I am commenting to them.  It’s both unkind and ineffective.   If my concern is for them, I should handle the concern privately.  If my concern is getting the truth out “big picture,” then I should write about the truth on my own page.  I need to be as, if not MORE, polite on social media than I am in person, because on social media my audience is bigger and the record is permanent.

Walking worthy (Ephesians 4:1ff) isn’t just about what happens in church. We are the church!

Because of Grace,

Pastor Scott

*Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate my grandpa.  I just shut him out when he opined about my hair and clothing in the early 70’s!

**While I think this has always been an issue, it seems as the political/social/covid19/racial/grief rhetoric in our country has increased so has the arguing/sniping.  And it’s not how Christ would have us behave –   “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”  James 1:19-20