Maybe I need a New Focus? – September 24, 2021

Borrowed from a Facebook Post: There is so much going on in my mind lately about all that is going on in our country and world. This illustration by Andy Stanley* really spoke to me this morning. He asked the question,”What do you notice about Daniel in this picture?” The answer is that he is NOT looking at the lions. He is looking to his God!! With everything going on in our world today I think too many of us are spending our time looking at the lions instead of looking to our GOD. (Painting by Artist Briton Rivière, Title – Daniel’s Answer to the King. 1890)

As a young Bible teacher my pride was sometimes wounded when one of my children would latch on to a scriptural truth in our Christian School (or Sunday School or Youth Group) that I had tried to teach at home, maybe dozens of times. I finally consoled myself by concluding that I couldn’t make a plant grow, I could only plant seeds. This week I had a new epiphany.  

In the picture and a brief post above, re-shared on Facebook by one of our own, a truth is being  proclaimed that both Pastor Jim and I have been trumpeting for years, especially of late.  Yet, seeing this picture and reading this snippet, the truth hit me in a new way.  I realized that not only can I not make seeds grow, but God, in His manifold grace, uses all of our senses to communicate His truths.  Here, using art and history, something we should already know is powerfully reinforced.  

Beloved, the world does not hold the answers we seek any more than it did for Pilate 2000 years ago.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). He’s our Joy. He’s our Prize!

Yours, for His Glory,

Pastor Scott

*I know Andy Stanley has said some odd stuff of late; this isn’t an endorsement of everything he is currently saying.; but here, he is right on the money!

Who Decides What Is Hard? – September 10, 2021

Have you seen this meme? It’s a good one to help us “buck up” when we are complaining; but it conveys the opposite message shared by those who knew Jesus personally. Remember what Peter said? “Cast all your cares upon him, because He cares for you!” As we are supposed to become conformed to His image, consider the words of this article. Whether or not you can relate to the particulars, I bet we all can relate, more generally, to the need to humble ourselves in the way Tracy had to….

By Guest Blogger, Tracy Doughtery, via Devotional on September 9, 2021

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …” Romans 15:5 (NIV)

We often hear on the news and social media the stories people share of the hard things they are going through. I have to admit that sometimes I want to roll my eyes at what people say is “hard.”

But recently, God reminded me of an experience I had when my family was stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana. My husband was part of the invasion into Iraq, and we didn’t know when he would return home. We didn’t know if he would return home.

I was in a leadership position for a women’s ministry that serves military spouses. One morning, I was in the front yard with our daughters when my phone rang. When I answered, a soft voice on the other end said, “Hi, Tracy. You don’t know me. My name is Susan. I don’t know who else to call, but I need prayer.”

I responded, “Yes, of course, any time! How can I pray for you?”

She said, “We just moved here, and I know many husbands are deployed to Iraq. My husband just left for two weeks’ Temporary Duty to the Pentagon. I have a 2-year-old and a newborn, and I’m really nervous.”

Immediately, I thought, Her husband is gone for only two weeks — he’s still in the U.S. — and no one is shooting at him. Really?! I haven’t even talked to my husband in almost three months! 

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit got a hold of my mouth before I could say anything insensitive or unkind. Then the Holy Spirit got a hold of my heart. What this woman was experiencing was hard! Two weeks by herself in a new place with a 2-year-old and a newborn — that’s certainly hard.

What’s considered “hard” in our lives isn’t up for comparison.

So I got the young mother’s contact information and invited her to some kid-friendly events that I thought she would enjoy and where she could connect with other women. Then I prayed for her while we were on the phone. I checked back in with her a few days later. As I ended the call that day, I realized this:

It’s not up to me to decide what’s hard. I just need to love others through their hard.

Just as Romans 15:5 says, we are to have the same “attitude of mind” toward others that Christ has toward us — one of grace, love and understanding. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …” (Romans 15:5)

So how can I have an attitude like Jesus toward other people? The key is to ask God. We can depend on God to provide; He is faithful.

No matter what we’re all going through, our current situations may very well be hard — they’re just hard in different ways. The situation I deem easy — our college-aged daughter coming home from school during the pandemic to live with us temporarily — is hard for the single mother who now has her children home with no childcare and can’t go to work. That’s hard … but we can’t dwell on the hard. We can’t allow all our focus to be on the hard. But we can love and encourage one another through the hard … and, in fact, that’s exactly what we’re called to do.

Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to the challenges others around me are experiencing. Give me a Christ-like attitude toward them and a desire to love them well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Let us draw near – Sep 3, 2021

This past Sunday (8/29) we discussed the way Nehemiah handled the news he received about the condition of Jerusalem, how his despair/burden led him to fast and pray, which, of course, led him to a plan.  My prayer for all of us is that if any of us aren’t already executing a plan, that God will reveal His will for each of us as we pray.  That said, as part of His church, His army (Eph 6:10ff), it’s also our responsibility to be praying at all times in the Spirit and to be on the alert for all of the saints!  Even if that’s “all” we can do!  

Please join me in praying for the persecuted church around the world.  Please join me, most urgently, in praying for the crisis in Afghanistan.  I don’t know what any of us can do, other than to pray, but through prayer miracles can happen AND He can open doors even for someone living here in the bellybutton of the USA.  So pray as you start your day.  Pray as you drive to work or drive the kids to school.  Pray during the lulls and even when things are chaotic.  Pray if something wakes you in the night…..

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.

Psalm 63:6

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; in the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; my soul refused to be comforted.

Psalm 77:2

Beseech the God of all flesh, not because He doesn’t know what’s going on, but because He Himself instructed us to pray! 

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the second time, while he was still confined in the court of the guard, saying, “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name,  ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Jeremiah 33:1-3 

Those are my thoughts on this rainy Friday. Blessings,

Pastor Scott