Just the Right Gift

fourIf you are like many others, you are in the midst of holiday shopping.  You have gifts for everyone, except that one special person.  You know the one. Your girlfriend/boyfriend, your fiancé, your spouse, that significant other. You are looking for just the right gift. You want to give a special gift that shows them how much they mean to you.

You are welcome!

For what? You ask.

For this list of four perfect gifts. Gifts that will last longer than that salad chopper you bought last year.

Four Perfect Gifts

Respect: This to me is the thrust of Jesus’ statement in what we call the golden rule of Matt 7:12.  This is what Paul commends in Phil 2:1-4.  Treat other people respectfully.  We do this by our actions and by our words.

Compassion: This is another way to say “understanding” or “empathy.”  Look into the eyes of others and do your best to know them and to know what makes them who they are and leads them to do what they do.  How many times in Scripture do we read something similar to this, “Jesus looking on them had compassion . . .”  Look at others with the eyes of Jesus.  This will keep us from passing unrighteous judgment and will help us be a better influence on those around us.

Listening: This is a gift everyone of us wants.  We want others to hear what we say.  I am not talking about the words, but the meaning behind what we say.  When we talk about our lives, our families, our successes, and our failures, we want others to respect us enough to listen with compassion.  We are not always wanting others to solve our problems or to pat us on the back, but we do want to disclose part of who we are to those we trust.   Are you listening?

Love: Ultimately this is what the other three communicate. Love respects others space, time, and feelings.  Love works compassionately for the benefit of the other. Love listens to my dreams, desires, and disasters.  With respect to Whitney Houston; Love for others (not yourself) is the greatest gift of all.  Remember the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

One of the greatest blessings of these gifts is that once you bless someone with them, you often get them in return.  Even if you do not, you receive benefit from giving – Acts 20:35.

– Scott

50 Years

No, I am not 50 years old . . . that is until February. Some of you are thinking, “Scott, you sunriseare so young, just a child.” Others are thinking, “Man, you’re old!”  This is not about my birthday. This is about fifty years.

Fifty Years!

Think with me about fifty years, half a century, five decades, one-twentieth of a millennia. If you are over 50 what have you consistently done for fifty years? I mean other than breathing, having your heart beat, eating, sleeping, and staying alive?

Most of us have a difficult time with consistency. I think of how many times in my adult life that I have decided to eat healthy. I will keep to a plan . . .  for a while. How many times have we started the year with a plan to read a book a month? How many times have we fallen off a Bible reading schedule? I sometimes tease that I am always consistent – consistent in my inconsistency!

Fifty years is a long time to be consistent.

With all this in mind I share with you an article I clipped out of a bulletin 25 years ago:

“A 50 Year Old Decision”

“People do not accidently attend worship without missing one worship assembly for twenty years. They must have planned to attend. Soon after I obeyed the gospel in 1909, I read of an old brother who had not missed going to worship a single Sunday in 41 years. That story caused me to resolve and to purpose in my hear that I would never miss worship on a single Lord’s Day as long as I lived, if possible to attend. I have missed four Sundays in over 50 years, and then it was because of illness.

Once I made that decision the question has not come up as to whether I would attend worship assembly or not. In fact, I did not decide last Lord’s Day to go to worship, nor the Sunday before. That decision was made more than 50 years ago.” – Gus Nichols (1892-1975).

As the year ends and a new one begins, I challenge you to be consistent in your walk with God. Be consistent in study, in prayer, in ministry, and in worship.

-Scott

Making America Great

Politicians from President Eisenhower to President Ronald Reagan, including President makingamericagreatBill Clinton, and Secretary Hillary Clinton often quote or refer to a statement purportedly made by Alexis De Tocqueville.  However, the quote is not in any of his publicized works. The quote even made in into President-elect Trump’s campaign slogan. This alleged quote states,

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . .in her fertile fields and boundless forests – and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

I am disappointed that this quote is apparently made-up. Someone might have said it, but, as far as De Tocqueville, it was likely not him. These words may be the musings of a different philosopher, they may even be oral tradition from an unrecorded De Tocqueville speech.  We may never know. They may be the thoughts of a mid 20th Century minister or writer. Yet for sixty years the lines continue to echo, despite their apocryphal past. Maybe these lines persist because there is truth in them. Truth not simply for a nation, but also for the Church and for individual Christians.

Truth:

  • True greatness grows from goodness.
  • Goodness blossoms into lasting greatness.

This lasting greatness may not be greatness in the eyes of the world. It may simply be greatness in the eyes of your neighbor, your spouse, or your children. As a child of God, your goodness and greatness should reflect the goodness of God and exemplify and expose His greatness.

Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14).

Goodness and greatness start with you and me as individuals. A congregation of God’s people becomes great when her members are good. A nation is great when her citizens are good.

Be good and be great!

-Scott

 

Hand in Hand

Amy and I like to walk. We walk around the neighborhood or through shopping centers or

couple1

Image’ courtesy of Daniel Howell Photography

stores. When we walk, we hold hands. It is both a sign of affection to each other and a statement to those around us that we are and forever will be a couple – no, we are ONE.

I am thinking about that as I reflect on certain scriptures:

  • “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Psa 16:8

 

  • “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ” Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isa 41:13

 

  • “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Mic 6:8

 

  • “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7

God wants to hold my right hand and walk with me. He longs for me to walk with Him. The Creator wants to show me affection and want the world to see that I am one with Him.

God wants to walk with you!

Will you walk with God?

-Scott

 

I Wish this Church was Bigger

1502740_10154588293355486_1059324237383063404_oGrowth.

This is a common goal of churches.  We long for our congregations to grow and for the universal Kingdom of Christ to expand. I read multiple books each year that offer advice on growing the church. Most of them will state that their research and experience is not a formula, but that there are certain common factors in growing churches. Recently, I decided to go the earliest book that reported the growth of churches and the church universal. I reread the book of Acts.

A quick survey of the book of Acts and you quickly realize that the early church grew. No they increased, make that multiplied. After looking at the early chapters and the growth of the church in Acts 2:41, 47; Acts 4:4; Acts 5:14; Acts 6:1, 7; and Acts 8:4 we move on to the verse that is key to their growth:

Acts 9:31, “And the church in Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

There it is! The is a simple Biblical formula that made growth possible.

  1. They had peace. Not peace with Judaism. Not peace with Rome. Not peace with the world. Definitely not peace with Satan. But peace with God through Christ and therefore with each other.
  2. They were being built up. Encouraged, edified, taught by God’s word and by each other’s example.
  3. They walked in fear of God. Yes, fear! Fear: as in reverence and awe as well as fear as in “this is Creator who spoke the world into existence and who caused the immediate death of two who lied to His Spirit (cf. Acts 5).”
  4. They walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. They had the promise of Acts 2:38-40. They understood the seal of guarantee that Paul talks of in Ephesians 1:13-14. Their spirit in tune with His produced the fruit of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
  5. All this lead to the final words of this verse “it MULTIPLIED.”

How is the church growing where you are? Are you part of the problem or the solution?

– Scott

Loving Christ’s Church

I grew-up in a Christian home. My parents are Christians and all my grandparents were Christians or at least Christians minded.  Many of my earliest memories surround assembling with Christians and having other church members over our house on Sunday evenings.  Growing up there were two major influences other than my family they were Church and school.  My adult life reflects those influences – I am a preacher, married to an elementary school teacher and through the years I spent time volunteering with local schools in a number of ways.  Church involvement was never an option and neither was respecting and loving the Church.  That is not to say my parents forced my involvement, but their example and instruction insured that I would dedicate myself to Christ and His Church.  They taught me to love the Church.  What I love about the Church, I learned from those before me.

Why I Love the Church

I love the Church in view of the fact that God loved Her enough to PURCHASE Her at a sacrificial price (Acts 20:28).  How can I not love the people for whom my God and Creator gave all that He had to give for their sanctification?  How can I turn my back on the Church when God was willing to not spare His Son so that the Church might exist?  I love the Church because God loves Her.

I love the Church that is PRECIOUS to Her Groom (Eph 5:21-33).  Paul’s description of the Church as the betrothed of Christ is a beautiful portrait.  When ever I see a beautiful  long-lasting marriage relationship and I see the way the husband dotes on his bride of many years, I think about Christ doting on His betrothed Bride – the Church.  I think of how He is preparing Her for the day He presents His chosen Bride to the Father.  How proud He is of Her beauty and accomplishments that glorify Him.  I love the Church because the Christ loves Her.

I love the Church that has the PROMISE of an eternally joyous relationship with Her Husband (Rev 19:1-10).  We as the Church – purchased and precious – await the day when we will welcome the Bridegroom who promised to come and take us home with Him to His Father’s house (John 14:1-6). I love the Church because the faithful will one day reunite in heaven with the Father and the Son.

 I love the Church! What about you?

-Scott

I Disagree

angry-people-are-not-always-wiseThere are people I disagree with. The list is  . . . well, longer than I would like. My list includes people in power and others. I thought I would share with you some of the people (or at least their titles) I disagree with.  (I am not going to tell you the reason we disagree, just know that there is an issue or issues where these people and I have our differences.)

I sometimes disagree with: My parents, my siblings, my in-laws, my nieces and nephews, my uncles and aunts, my grandparents when they were alive, my son, other ministers, church secretaries, certain police officers, my wife, employers I have had, every President that I recall serving – those I voted for and those I did not, Governors of the states I have lived in. politicians at all levels, teachers, professors, peers, world leaders, members of churches where I have worshipped.

Everywhere I go, I find people that I disagree with. 

You do too.

Some of these disagreements are minor like what color shoes does one wear with navy blue pants. Others are major disagreements about policies or political platforms. You will have – always have – disagreements. Any time you have your own mind and your own thoughts, you can find someone who disagrees with you.

What matters is how I handle disagreements.

  • One way is if at all possible to have a discussion with those you disagree to see if you can find common ground.  I have often found that what I disagree with someone on is the process not the end goal.
  • Another way is to try to understand them. Try to walk a mile or two in their shoes. You may still disagree, but you might understand why they think and feel the way they do.
  • Honestly evaluate your point of view. I admit, there have been times I was wrong and had to make changes.
  • Never, never, never, lash out in anger.
  • Avoid, no refuse to result to “name calling” or putting the other person or group down with insults.
  • Fight the urge to prejudge them. Talk with them to know them. The more you really know someone, the easier it is to understand disagreements and not allow those disagreements to destroy the relationship.

For my fellow Christians reading this, let me remind you that we are to

-Scott

Speaking of disagreeing, here is a throwback song – We Just Disagree

 

Praying

Will you join me in prayer this morning? Specifically for The United States of America.

-Scott

Dear God and Father,

We come before Your throne as Sovereign over all. We bring all glory and honor before and to You. Some in this great nation are rejoicing over the results of our recent election. Some are glorying in that victory. Others are in shock and disbelief and are mourning a loss. Some have a renewed sense of hope while others have lost all hope.

We pray for each individual in this nation. We pray that now we can come together and work for a stronger unified people. While we will never agree on every policy, may we learn to tolerate differences of opinion. May we learn to understand and have conversations with those to our political and moral right as well as those to our political and moral left. May we each learn to truly love one another.

We pray for our newly elected leaders and the transition of power. May they take their office and oath seriously and work with the other branches of government to renew our nation’s strengths and to strengthen our weaknesses. We pray that these men and women consider You and what You know is best for mankind as they make policy and lead our nation. Specifically, we pray for President-elect Donald Trump. We pray for his temperament and his tongue that he may exercise the control needed to lead this country. We pray for him to seek what is true, right, honorable, and virtuous.  We pray for his family as they join him in this new role.  We pray for Vice-President-elect Mike Pence. May he serve with honor and have a positive influence on the Presidency and our foreign allies. We pray for the new Congress, may they work to better our nation.

We pray for Hillary Clinton. We pray that she will do her part to help unite this country. We pray that she will continue to work to help this country in ways that she can. We pray for Gary Johnson and others who were candidates for the Presidency, that they too will continue to help this nation unite and to be strong.

We pray for the true government of our nation – the people. May we keep our minds set on what is true, right, honorable, and good. May we work to bring our nation together. We pray that our rhetoric lead to unity and not division.

We pray for Your people, the Church. Help us to be a voice of reason and peace.

In Jesus’ Name

A Reminder on Election Day

A quote many attribute to Ronald Reagan states that the eight most frightening words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I am here to help.”. Today is the day the United States goes to the polls and voiced their opinion on who we wish the next President to be. I have my favorites and least favorites.  I have great concerns for the future of my country and I am voting to voice my concerns. But after all is aid and done, we will have a new President Elect. With this in mind, I want to share some observations concerning Christian and government.

Paul reminds us that we are citizens of heaven and of the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Php 3:20; Col 1:13) and Peter tells his readers that we are sojourners and exiles (1 Pet 2:11 – this is similar to being aliens). As citizens of heaven, we currently find ourselves living in Republics, Democracies, Monarchies, and Dictatorships. Within each of these styles of government there are varying levels of freedom and expectations of its citizens. Our question is, what does the Bible have to say about a Christian’s duty to the earthly government in which he or she lives as a sojourner?

20111219-090729.jpg

  1. Present Yourself as Subject. Consider the following: Rom 13:1, 5, ” . . . Let every person be subject to the governing authorities . . . .One must be in subjection.” and 1 Pet 2:13-14, “Be subject to every human institution . . .”. Paul and Peter write this as they are living under Roman occupation. They did not vote for Caesar, nor would I think they old agree with aloof his policies, yet they both say to be subordinate to those who rule.
  2. Pay. Rom 13:6-7, “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”. We may not approve of everything our government does with tax money – I am sure Paul did not approve of Caesar using tax money to persecute Christians and host games while citizens starved for food and education – but we pay taxes. We also owe them the respect the office of President, Governor, Congressman, Senator, King, Queen, or Emperor requires. We do not worship them, but we do give them honor and respect.
  3. Pray. 1 Tim 2:1-2, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”.  We must pray for our leaders and the leaders of other nations for our physical life and our spiritual life to be good and full of peace.

– Scott