Just a Little Something

psa 100_4Thank you for reading The Morning Drive. I began this adventure in 2009 and some of you have been with me the entire way. I truly do appreciate your loyalty, comments, and I covet your prayers that my thoughts may in some way help folks focus on what is good and right.

With Thanksgiving approaching in the United States, I am going to take a break from writing as I spend time with family. I will miss you. I hope you will miss me. I will be praying for you and your family and especially those that are travelling for the holidays.

Before I go, I want to leave you with a quote and a question or two:

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”

William Blake (https://www.brainyquote.com)

As you think about that quote, tell me:

  1. What you think he meant and why you agree or disagree?
  2. What application does this have to our daily life?

-Scott

 

 

Preaching and Teaching

What is the Church of Christ?Recently I attended a luncheon on “Crisis in Ministry.” This luncheon included a panel discussion about handling the issues that come up in ministry. The panel included leaders from Baptist churches, Community churches, and others.  I attended to learn how these men handle issues that are common to those that serve in ministry across the board. There were some things that they face that I do not, for example, I do not hire and fire staff or oversee the budget. We have elders and deacons that take care of those things. However, there are similarities. We all stand up before a group people multiple times a week and preach or teach a message. We all try to minister to people in different areas of need (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.). We all love people and want to be loved by them.

After thinking about this luncheon and reflecting on some of the things people have said to me over the years, I recalled this poem that I shared back in 2009.

This is for you, my fellow ministers.

-Scott

When I Preach
(Unknown)

When I preach, there are some who say
They could listen to me all day.
Others think I preach too long.
And some think I go about it wrong.
Some say my sermon is much too deep.
To others, it’s shallow and they go to sleep.
Some report I hold them spell bound,
While others squirm and look around.

Some speak of me as an orator,
But others feel I’m a perfect bore.
Some believe I have no light,
And others think I preach just right.
Some affirm that I’m too bold,
Others wink and say I’m cold.

Some used to say I was much too young.
But others declare my spring has sprung!
Some folks tell I have met success.
Others think my work is a mess.
Some have said my pay is too low,
When they discover the pace I go.
Still others say it is above the peak,
“Why he only works three hours a week.”

From all this, ’tis plain to see.
That as a preacher, I’m up a tree.
Condemned if I do, condemned if I don’t;
Criticized if I will, criticized if I won’t.
I can’t please men of such discord,
So I’ll just keep trying to please the Lord.

An Epidemic

Our National DiseaseWe are currently in a national epidemic.  We have a disease in this country that permeates every socio-economic level, every educational level, every state, every political party, every religion, and every ethnicity. No one group is immune. No one group is unaffected. Everyone of us needs to pay attention.

I am reading more and more stories about it. I am seeing report after report on news outlets about people dealing with the symptoms and complications of this disease. If I do not warn you, you may be a victim of this disease. In all candor, I would think statistically that some of you may already feel the impact of this disease. You are suffering with your own symptoms or you are suffering because of someone you love.

This disease is over-sexualization. Our society is over sexualized. Television, movies, books, music, and magazines have made sexual intimacy between unmarried (or married to someone else) appear quite normal. This constant bombardment of sensual fiction has created a fact: If you dare mention that someone should wait for marriage, others look at you as if you are an alien or that you crawled out from under a rock.

Just this morning before 8:00, I read, heard, or watched reports and statements about Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore, Democratic Senator Robert Hernandez, Democratic President Bill Clinton, Actor Bill Cosby, President Donald Trump, and remembered stories about televangelists, priests, local ministers, teachers, coaches on all levels, actors, directors, producers, influential business owners, and others who apparently suffer from this disease.  Many of these are men and some of these are women. Some are aggressive until they do not get what they want and then play the role of victim. Others force their victims to submit to their lusts by use of coercion, drugs, or physical force.

This is a terrible disease that is running wild in our nation. It is criminal and it is a SIN! 

We all need to stop! Get rid of the pornography that feeds our lust. Turn off the shows that promote sexual perversion. Stop supporting movies that pervert what intimacy and love truly are to be. Stop watching so-called soft porn in the form of erotic dress and dancing (I am specifically thinking about Dancing with the Stars). Stop supporting shows about harems (A single man sharing intimacy with multiple women who are soliciting a rose and a ring or a single woman with a group of men). Stop watching shows that use innuendoes and euphemisms to talk about sex in supposed “intelligent humor.” I can go on! I can mention song lyrics from every secular genre. I could mention novels and popular magazines. The supply of smut that Satan produces is seemingly endless.

We must remember that God gave us sexual intimacy as a part of a monogamous marriage compact. We need to learn that when we take that intimacy out of sexuality and pull that relationship out of marriage, when we popularize multiple partners in a lifetime as normal adult behavior, we then create a society that considers sex solely from selfish motives. We live in such a society now. We created a disease where gratification is the end, as an individual’s right.  We have forgotten that sexual intimacy is a way to be emotionally and physical connected with a life partner. We forget that it sexual monogamy is part of the trust we need as humans. In a monogamous marriage we are saying to each other, “I trust you with the most intimate part of me.” Intimate life partners is what God intended from the beginning.

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:18-24)

This disease is tearing families apart. This disease is destroying our entertainment industry. This disease is ruining our democracy. This disease is pitting Christian against Christians as we defend our earthly heroes or try to destroy other’s heroes. This disease is killing our nation!

This disease is killing God’s people!

Will you join me in the fight against it? My battle starts in my home and my heart, your battle starts where you are. From there we can take it to the streets.

-Scott

It Really Happened

Surviving-Domestic-Violence-2-661x441We were sitting in the front room of the house when we heard the commotion. A quick look out the window revealed the scene that was the source of the noise. I do not know how long they had been parked there, but there they were and they were making a scene – he was!

We were living in the house across the parking lot from the church building. Their truck was next to the building. She was screaming and doing her best to block his fists as they were coming at her over and over again. I could not bear to watch, I did not take time to put on shoes and walked barefooted toward them to see first if I was just imagining things and second see what I could do. As I came within view of the truck, I asked, “Is everything alright?” The woman shouted through tears, “Call the police, he is going to kill me.” He warned me, “This is none of your business, you need to leave!” I kept walking, and went in the back door of the building and used a phone to call the police.

The police must have been close by because two cruisers pulled up within a couple of minutes. As soon as he saw them coming, he jumped out of the truck into a small building and out the back window into the wooded lot behind the church building. One officer approached the truck to talk with the woman another gave chase into the woods. He came back in a few minutes with the man in cuffs.

I went back into the house while the officer’s performed their duties. An half an hour later, an officer was on my front steps talking to me after the couple drove off together. No one was arrested! The officer explained to me that no matter what I saw and what they could see from her bruising and tears, she refused to press charges, so they had no choice but release him.

I was angry!

I was angry at the man who was beating his girlfriend, fiancé, or wife right in front of me. I was angry at her for not pressing charges, knowing he would do this again and again. I was angry at a system whose hands were tied preventing them from doing what they knew they needed to do. That event from over 20 years ago, still upsets me.

Would you have been angry? I know you would have. Anytime we see a violent crime against others we are upset.

Now you know a little about how God feels at any sin. He knows the danger. He knows the pain and suffering. He knows what the destroyer, accuser, that snake, and prowling predator, Satan does to mankind. That is why God hates sin. That is why He had to do something about it. That is why He appeased His own wrath through the death of His Son on the cross.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10).

-Scott

 

 

Why We Pray for Others

Will you stopto pray-The thrill and privilege of prayer is not always getting precisely what you want, but seeing God active in your world. I never cease to be humbled when God works in my life through answered prayer (even when He says, “no” or “not yet”). Maybe the greatest thrill is seeing God work in the lives of others.

Scripture teaches that as Christians we have only one Mediator – Christ (1 Timothy 2:5), but we have more who can and do intercede for us at the throne of God. Paul says the Spirit intercedes (Romans 8:26) and the Hebrew writer speaks of Christ interceding (Hebrews 7:25).  These intercessions are special and powerful, but there are others.  There is more.  We can intercede for each other.  Consider the following verses:

  • And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” (Acts 8:24)
  • So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. (Acts 12:5)
  • Brothers, pray for us. (1 Thessalonians 5:25)
  • 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. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

What a privilege to speak to God on the behalf of others!

What an honor to have others praying for me!

When I pray an intercessory prayer for others, I am admitting their needs, my weakness, and God’s power. When I pray for you, I am asking God to partner with you in your life or specific situation.

I ask you to pray for me. Pray for me as a minister, writer, and servant of God.  Pray my words reach the hearts of people. Pray for me as a husband and father.  Pray for me as God’s child.

Let me pray for you.

– Scott

A Different Assembly

A DifferentRecently, I went with a friend who invited me to a different assembly. Since this gathering of devotees did not interfere with my regular assembly, I took the opportunity. My friend picked me up at my house in the evening and drove to where I would meet some of his other friends and assemble with them.

This assembly is larger than Central or any other congregation I have been a regular part of. The group is large enough to require local law enforcement to direct traffic. When we first arrived, over an hour before the assembly began, we caught up with a group that was already fellowshipping with each other and I listened as they excitedly talked about the assembly that was to take place.

With a few minutes to spare, we made our way to our seats, it was crowded. Once every one was seated, I did not see more than a couple of empty seats. Soon music began to play and introductory videos played on large screens. The assembly sang along. Everyone knew the words and there were no hymnals or words on the screen to help. Everyone around me sang. I joined in on the songs I knew.

Once the full assembly began, those assembled stood together without anyone directing them too and they also knew when to sit. More songs and more group singing. There was a man speaking with a microphone and at times those assembled would shout in agreement with what he said. It went something like this:

Man with microphone: “First down, Alabama!”

The assembly: “Roll Tide Roll!”

I want to thank my friend and deacon at Central, Vince, for inviting me to join him at his company’s tailgate and to enjoy an Alabama Football game.

I thought about the experience Sunday morning, as we gathered at Central and we all joined in singing praise to the Father. I thought about it as we remembered the sacrifice of Christ during our common meal (communion). I thought about it as a member or two said “Amen” after a prayer, the scripture reading, and during the sermon.

I wondered how many of the 102,000 gathered at Bryant-Denny were gathering to worship God yesterday morning.

I wonder if we, as Christians, are excited about Christ as we are about certain players or coaches on football (basketball, baseball, soccer, softball, gymnastics, etc) teams.

I wonder if the same folks (including me) who unashamedly shout, “Roll Tide Roll,” “War Eagle,” “Geaux Tigers,” “Go Vols,” or some battle cry at first downs or touchdowns, are too timid to say, “Amen” in worship.

I wonder . . . .

-Scott

Last Words / Final Words

The Final WordsThrough the years the movies have played out the drama of final words. A character is at death’s door, but has just enough energy to speak a few last words to the hero / heroine of the story. Sometimes the dying character passes from this life to a different realm and speaks clearly or loudly from some form of after-life (“Use the Force, Luke”).

I wonder.

I wonder if God had one last thing to say, what would it be? If there was something of extreme importance that He wants us to remember, what would He tell us?

I am here to tell you that God has spoken. He has given a last word. He has sent a message that He wants His creation to hear.

The Gospel Message is Trustworthy and True: Rev 22:6 “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

The Gospel Message Brings Blessings: Rev 22:7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

The Gospel Message Stirs Our Hearts to Worship: Rev 22:8-9 And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

The Gospel Message Transforms Lives: Rev 22:10-11 “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

The Gospel Message Focuses on Jesus: Rev 22:12-13 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

The Gospel Message Places One IN Christ: Rev 22:14-15 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

The Gospel Message is From Jesus: Rev 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

The Gospel Message Contains the Greatest Invitation: Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

The Gospel Message Can Not be Altered by Man: Rev 22:18-19 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

The Gospel Message Gives Incomparable Assurance: Rev 22:20-21 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Are you listening to God?

-Scott

Rat Poison

RatPoison1Rat poison? Recently, Kirby Smart and Nick Saban who are the head coaches for the CFP Ranked Number 1 and Number 2 teams respectively used “rat poison” as a metaphor for the media hype surrounding their rankings and their weekly games. Their arguments are that the hype that says Georgia or Alabama are destined to meet in the SEC championship, or that they have no reason to be concerned about any upcoming opponent, or that they are guaranteed to win by a certain point spread, and so on are poisoning their players’ mindset.

As coaches, Saban and Smart say that they have to spend time reprograming the way their players think to combat the “rat poison” that media and fans feed them.

Rat Poison!

When I heard that term used that way I started thinking about how God might feel that way about a lot of things His people heard. God has had to deal with “rat poison” for a long time.  Notice His warning in Jeremiah,

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ (Jeremiah 7:1-4) 

People, parading as prophets of God, were saying, “God will not allow Jerusalem to be destroyed, His temple, His house is here. God will protect that holy place and therefore protect us.” All the while, the people and their leaders continued to live in rebellious disobedience to God. “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:8-10).

They were listening to poisonous words. They were ingesting rat poison that would destroy them.

As I kept reading and reflecting I realized that this was not just a Jerusalem problem. God’s people, the Church (the Church in her infancy) also had to hear warnings about rat poison. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

We still have the same threat.

Pay attention to what we hear today. There is rat poison in the messages of hate, prejudice, tolerance of sin, and more that the world broadcasts. There is also rat poison in the messages that sound spiritual. These false messages can poison our heart, mind, and soul. Heed the warning. Compare what religious leaders say to the pure message of God’s word. Paul told Timothy (and through Providential preservation of the message, he tells us), “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Don’t ingest rat poison. Avoid it! Stay away! Spit it out! Spend time in God’s word which provides all that we need for life and godliness.

-Scott

I am a Christian

IMG_0254In his Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 5th Ed, <(Nashville:Abingdon Press), 1970.> Frank S Mead wrote, “There is a distinctive plea for unity at the heart of the [church title removed- bsmc] — a unity that is Bible based.  It is believed here that the Bible is the “beginning place” in and through which God-fearing people can achieve spiritual oneness” (p 85).  “They disclaim being a denomination, but claim to be nondenominational with no headquarters, no governing boards, and no clergy” (p 86). He stresses, “Since all official status in these institutions [schools and publications were listed] is lacking, none of them being authorized to speak for the entire church, their conformity in ideas and teachings in all the more remarkable” (p 87).  Elsewhere in the article Mead mentions the concept of congregational autonomy with each congregation being governed by her own elders and deacons.

Unity and Similarity

Unity or similarity between churches can only exist when there is  a focused dependency on scripture to be the basis of both individual and collective faith. Another call for this reliance on scripture is seen in well-known European theologian Dr. Hans Kung’s work from 1968 The Church (Die Kirche) <(London:Burns and Oates Continuum), 1967, 1968, 2001, trans. Ray and Rosaleen Ockendon>. Dr. Kung lamented the fact that the established church has lost its way; has become burdened down with tradition; has failed to be what Christ planned it should be. The only answer, according to Dr. Kung, is to go back to the scriptures to see what the church was in its beginning, and then to recover in the twentieth century the essence of the original church.

What about the Twenty First Century?

This is what I want to do and who I want where I assemble to be. This idea of returning the church to what scripture lays out is a continual process. A process that has made changes due to culture, with methodologies, and because of new technology. But my prayer is that I am always true to the message of salvation in Christ and that my life and worship is pleasing to him.

My Interest is to be a Christian.

I am interested only in the Bible as God’s word and the simplicity of the good news of grace in Christ. I do not conceive of myself as being  anything but a Christian; as anything more than a member of the body of Christ. I desire as an individual for whom Christ died to gather with others who are in Him, called by His name, and guided by His word.
-Scott

God Bless You!

God bless you!No, I did not hear you sneeze.  Why is that one of the only times we speak of blessing – that an the wonderful U.S. Southern phrase, “bless your heart”?

This morning I want to pass along a different blessing. A blessing found in scripture that is my prayer for you.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Num 6:24-26)”

The Lord Bless You and Keep You. God does desire to bless you through Christ – Eph 1:3

The Lord Make His Face to Shine Upon You, and Be Gracious Unto You. All spiritual blessing are in Christ –including Grace – John 1:17.

The Lord Lift His Countenance Upon You and Give You Peace. May God smile at you as a loving father does when seeing his children. We are His children in Christ, 1Jo 3:1. Now we have peace with God – Rom 5:1

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Num 6:24-26)”

-Scott