Action! Jan 27, 2022

When I was a young man, preparing for ministry there was a popular saying, quoted to young men, that I still remember.  “God can’t steer a parked car!”  Not sure that checks out biblically, but it certainly lines up with what we know of the apostles.  With that in mind I thought I would write a blog about getting moving as covid wanes (Gospel, discipleship, acts of love), but these two clips from my sermon file, under the heading of “action,” preach better than I could!   

Several years ago, I heard the story of Larry Walters, a 33-year-old man who decided he wanted to see his neighborhood from a new perspective. He went down to the local army surplus store one morning and bought forty-five used weather balloons. That afternoon he strapped himself into a lawn chair, to which several of his friends tied the now helium-filled balloons. He took along a six-pack of beer, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and a BB gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was ready to land.

Walters, who assumed the balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air, was caught off guard when the chair soared more than 11,000 feet into the sky — smack into the middle of the air traffic pattern at Los Angeles International Airport. Too frightened to shoot any of the balloons, he stayed airborne for more than two hours, forcing the airport to shut down its runways for much of the afternoon, causing long delays in flights from across the country.

Soon after he was safely grounded and cited by the police, reporters asked him three questions:

“Where you scared?” “Yes.”

“Would you do it again?” “No.”

“Why did you do it?”  “Because,” he said, “you can’t just sit there.”     

Leadership, Summer 1993, p. 35.

Dr. J.B. Gambrel tells an amusing story from General Stonewall Jackson’s famous valley campaign. Jackson’s army found itself on one side of a river when it needed to be on the other side. After telling his engineers to plan and build a bridge so the army could cross, he called his wagon master in to tell him that it was urgent the wagon train cross the river as soon as possible. The wagon master started gathering all the logs, rocks and fence rails he could find and built a bridge. Long before day light General Jackson was told by his wagon master all the wagons and artillery had crossed the river. General Jackson asked where are the engineers and what are they doing? The wagon master’s only reply was that they were in their tent drawing up plans for a bridge. 

Pulpit Helps, May, 1991.

I hope these encouraged us to keep being intentional about the Great Commandment and the Great Commission; and if not I hope it provoked us!

Yours, because I’m His,

Pastor Scott

Sold Out – January 21, 2002

Had I not been sidelined this Sunday (1/23) I would be preaching on “Holiness.”  An English word that means to “make holy” is “consecrate – set apart unto service.”   It reminds me of the challenge that drove D.L. Moody (and later would be attributed to him):  “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”  Under that heading of consecration I re-discovered this piece by Max Lucado – humorous and inspiring  

Steve Lyons will be remembered as the player who dropped his pants. He could be remembered as an outstanding infielder … as the player who played every position for the Chicago White Sox … as the guy who always dove into first base … as a favorite of the fans who high fived the guy who caught the foul ball in the bleachers. He could be remembered as an above-average player who made it with an average ability. But he won’t. He’ll be remembered as the player who dropped his pants on July 16, 1990.

The White Sox were playing the Tigers in Detroit. Lyons bunted and raced down the first-base line. He knew it was going to be tight, so he dove at the bag. Safe! The Tiger’s pitcher disagreed. He and the umpire got into a shouting match, and Lyons stepped in to voice his opinion. Absorbed in the game and the debate, Lyons felt dirt trickling down the inside of his pants. Without missing a beat he dropped his britches, wiped away the dirt, and … uh oh …twenty thousand jaws hit the bleachers’ floor.

And, as you can imagine, the jokes began. Women behind the White Sox dugout waved dollar bills when he came onto the field. “No one,” wrote one columnist, “had ever dropped his drawers on the field. Not Wally Moon. Not Blue Moon Odom. Not even Heinie Manush.” Within twenty-four hours of the “exposure,” he received more exposure than he’d gotten his entire career; seven live television and approximately twenty radio interviews.

“We’ve got this pitcher, Melido Perex, who earlier this month pitched a no-hitter,” Lyons stated, “and I’ll guarantee you he didn’t do two live television shots afterwards. I pull my pants down, and I do seven. Something’s pretty skewed toward the zany in this game.” Fortunately, for Steve, he was wearing sliding pants under his baseball pants. Otherwise the game would be rated “R” instead of “PG-13.”

Now, I don’t know Steve Lyons. I’m not a White Sox fan. Nor am I normally appreciative of men who drop their pants in public. But I think Steve Lyons deserves a salute. I think anybody who dives into first base deserves a salute. How many guys do you see roaring down the baseline of life more concerned about getting a job done than they are about saving their necks? How often do you see people diving headfirst into anything? Too seldom, right? But when we do … when we see a gutsy human throwing caution to the wind and taking a few risks … ah, now that’s a person worthy of a pat on the … back. So here’s to all the Steve Lyons in the world.

 Let’s be consecratedly courageous this week…..and the next….and the next….

Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 247-248.

In this battle WITH you, Pastor Scott

Eternal…Confusion – January 14, 2022

Scripture is clear.  When a soul believes in Jesus, he or she has (present tense) eternal life.  From the moment of faith, we are eternally secure.

 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.  All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:35-40; Emphasis Added 

“for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Romans 11:29; As is His love, cf. Romans 8:35-39

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”  

Ephesians 1:13-14 cf. 4:30

All that said, there are clear warning passages (e.g., John 15; Hebrews 6 & 10; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and two very scary statements:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’   And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ 

Matthew 7:21-23

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”   

1 John 2:18-19

I would like to set aside the warnings that were clearly written to believers, dealing with temporal discipline or loss of kingdom rewards. To address the issues of sincere, but false, belief and apostasy.

I do not see that the Bible teaches that a believer can “sin” his way to eternal damnation.  Both James and 1 John end with admonitions to go after sinners to save them from physical death.  Paul twice condemns specific sinners to the destruction of their flesh for the salvation of their souls.  (The man living with his mother-in-law, 1 Cor 5:5; and the two teachers who veered from the truth, 1 Timothy 1:18-20.) 

All of that said, Jesus warned that there would be people who believed themselves to be Christians and yet were turned away.  And there are others who proved they were never Christians by leaving.  While this may be an oversimplification, let’s call the first group “false believers” and the second group “apostates.” 

False Believers

Jesus said of the false believers that He never knew them; that the ones that can enter the Kingdom, the ones He knows, “do the will of His Father.”  So, what is the Father’s will?  In John the Father’s will is belief in the Son!  Every other precept concerning the “will of God” is directed toward those already in God’s family, so it follows that the “will of God” Jesus addresses in Matthew 7, is faith in Son – the Gospel. So, who might believe they were serving Jesus, without believing in Jesus?  1 John supplies us with an answer.  It has to do with the version of Jesus in which you believe – do you believe in Jesus that is fully God and fully man?  (4:1-6; 5:1-3).  Millions of Mormons and JW’s are sincere in their faith, but wrong about Who Jesus is.  Add to that many others who are in false churches, or who are in Gospel preaching churches, but are “faking” it to fit in.  It’s not hard to see who those disappointed “false believers” might be. So, what about the apostates?


At some point in the history of the Christian cults and uber-liberal churches, someone who was an apparent believer led folks astray.  John says of them, they proved they weren’t part of “us” because they never came back.   For those of us who love someone who has “walked away”, herein lies the hardest truth of all.  There have been (and very possibly are) those among us who never were justified/regenerate; not because God failed, but because they refused to believe (John 3:36  –  the word translated “does not obey” in the NASB is the from the Greek word for unbelief (apeitheó).  The best modern English translation of that word’s contextual meaning is “reject.”   So, in John 3 the teaching is simply God offers you salvation through faith in Jesus, and if you do not believe you are already condemned because you have rejected His offer.  When combined with John’s epistolary statement about false teachers going out and proving they were never a part, we can see that, despite testimony and apparent fruit, there will always be tares (faith rejecters) among us.

Conclusion:  Believers (wheat) and unbelievers (tares) can look an awful lot alike.  As we look out on our congregation, class, or family (wheat crop), we need to be mindful that some of them might be tares.*  While people are still in hearing range, we need to be continually lifting the cross and praying for salvation and spiritual growth here, in the visible family.  After someone removes themselves, we keep right on praying!  Ultimately, we are all in God’s hands, so what better place to leave our “denying” loved one than in the hands of our Creator/Redeemer?   It’s not His will that any should perish (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

*Or wolves (Acts 20)

Pastor Scott

Active Contentment – Jan 7, 2022

The scripture is full of encouragement and instruction to be content.  To stop worrying.  To cease striving.  To rest in Him.  As a wage earner, a homeowner, a husband, father, grandfather, a citizen , etc; these admonitions are directed at me!  Remember Paul, in Phillipians, denying the need for financial help or when the author of Hebrews says: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (13:5).  Contentment is the key to being happy in my circumstances and it’s also part in parcel with resisting the three lusts.  Jesus Himself said, “Don’t worry about what you will eat or wear, God will care for you.”

On a personal level, contentment is where it’s at.  HOWEVER, when it comes to ministry (seeking first His Kingdom).  It occurs to me that if I want to walk on water, I have to get out of the boat!*  Maybe He supplies our needs so that we can serve Him, not just so we can be comfortable.  🙂


Pastor Scott

*We are starting a series on 1 Peter this coming Sunday which is why that phrase is on my mind; It was the title of a 2002 book by one of the Willow Creek guys, but I think the axiom predates the title.