American Change

american-changeThe United States of America is changing. This is not breaking news. This change began years ago with the start of the grand experiment. Every few years we as a nation evaluate our leadership and make changes. In my half-century I can say that I have both liked and disliked these changes.

There are policies, laws, attitudes, and actions displayed in this country that I do not like. People, towns, cities, counties, and states all across this great nation do things and promote things that I find offensive and often immoral. (No, I am not going to list them.) There are times when I am so disappointed in my fellow man, my fellow countrymen, that I wish I could  . . . well that won’t happen so I will just stop even wishing. I get frustrated.

Allow me to give you an example or two.  I am frustrated and disappointed at the so-called protests that are turning into riots and looting festivals. I understand the need and freedom to speak out. But there is a difference in what I see being reported and free speech. I spent the last eight years disappointed by conservatives who would not let go of their constant opposition to President Obama, I saw and heard so many conservative say they “opposed Obama on everything.” Why? What if his idea happened to be a good one?

The restrictions of time and space for this post will not allow me discuss all the dangers associated with the moral decline in America. Things that our parents and grandparents blushed about are now out in the open. Things once reserved for dark alleys are now accessible to us on our phones, tablets, computers,  and TVs for instant access.

America needs to change. Americans need to change. And that change, starts here and now. That change starts with me.

Change starts with me!

Jesus reminds me of this truth in the Sermon on the Mount, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother ‘s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘ Let me take the speck out of your eye, ‘ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’ s eye.” (Mat 7:3-5).

He also tells me (and you) that we are to be the palatable and enlightening influence in our world, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people ‘s feet.
” You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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.” (Mat 5:13-16)

Take a look into the mirror of His word and make the changes you can make. Changes in you! (Jas 1:22-25)

-Scott

Bonus Video. I cannot help but think of this song from the late ’80s:

 

 

Yesterday

Yesterday

© B. Scott McCown, Feb 2, 2017

yesterday

Yesterday I carried my sin on my shoulder.

Yesterday my burden was my own.

Yesterday my guilt was a heavy load.

Yesterday I thought I was all alone.

************************

But that was my yesterday,

Today the sun shines bright.

Today the clouds have parted,

As I see the Son’s glorious light.

**************************

Yesterday, you no longer define me,

Yesterday, you are now my past.

Yesterday, you held me captive.

Yesterday I felt downcast.

**************************

But that was my yesterday,

Today the sun shines bright.

Today the clouds have parted,

As I see the Son’s glorious light.

“But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)

-Scott

Will You Pray with Me?

jer-29-7Dear Father in Heaven,

Although, my citizenship, my home, and my heart is in heaven with You, this morning the nation of my birth and in which I live is on my mind. We seem to be, not a nation of states united, but a group of individuals and special interests divided. This division gives me cause for concern. This division has grown steadily over the last 8 to 10 years and I fear we are at a loss as to how to bring us back together.

Please, help us to learn to listen to each other. Help us to learn from each other. Help us all to look to what is true and good and right. Help us as individuals to look to Your Word for guidance for our individual lives and to help others learn to do the same. Return us to a spirit of love and trust as we search for what is right for all people no matter their nationality or background. Help us remember that You care for the sojourner, the outcast, the downtrodden, the innocent both born and unborn, and yes – the refugee. Help us to recall Your love for us when we were not so different from those we now argue against.

I pray for our leaders; for the local mayors and town councils, for our governors and state legislators, and for our President, congress, and justices. I pray that they will set aside any personal agenda, any personal pride, and hatred or distrust and will work to unite this nation around the common cause of caring for our citizens from the least to the greatest as well as for the hurting of the world, where we can safely have an influence.

I pray for our military men and women and the role that they play in protecting our national interests and promoting freedom throughout the world.  I pray of our law enforcement officers, for their safety and that they can be the conservators of peace that they train to be and that they can help keep our communities safe.

Please, help those of our communities that are hurting whether physically, financially, or emotionally. Help them find the comfort and help they need. Help us fight our sense of entitlement and learn to be humble. Help us learn to submit to one another and more importantly to submit to You.

In Jesus’ name,

Does it?

WIN_20140123_092714Every six months or so I feel the need to repost this.  I keep hearing this from people of faith. “Everything happens for a reason.”

Everything? Happens for a Reason?

I am not sure what everyone who says that phrase means by it. I am not sure everyone who says it understands what they are saying. It sounds like a statement of faith. It sounds noble to say. Yet it communicates the following idea: “Although I do not know why this is happening, I trust that God is doing this for a reason and I will just wait to learn the lesson God has for me to learn.” I have to ask. Please help me understand. Does everything happen for a reason that God has in His plan?

Consider these thoughts before you say, “everything happens for a reason.”

  1. If everything happens for reason designed by God then we have no free will. That means that God predetermines every aspect of my life including my faith or lack thereof. I know that followers of Calvinism will agree. But did God really have a reason for me to play basketball in the dark and stub my toe on a stealthily hidden root?
  2. If everything happens for a reason, why did the inspired apostle and Biblical writer Paul say “perhaps” and not, “I know.” When writing to Philemon about Onesimus? “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother–especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Phm 1:15-16). If Paul cannot be definitive about God having a reason, why should we claim God has reason for all the events in our lives?
  3. If everything happens for a reason designed by God then we face TEMPTATION for a Reason. However, consider instead what James has to say: Jas 1:12-18, Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (Underlined emphasis – BSMc)  God does not tempt. Paul lets his readers know that not only is God NOT the author of temptation, but provides help for us to avoid sin, 1 Cor 10:13, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. What do you mean, Paul? God wants our success. Personally, I will listen to Paul and James.
  4. If everything happens for a reason designed by God they we ALWAYS SUFFER for a Reason at the hand of God. Personally, I think we are quick to say “there is a reason for everything” because, like our children, we like immediate answers and results. The oven door barely closes and your children ask, “When will the pizza be ready?” We pray to God to help us find a job and in our next prayer we ask, “God, when will I get that job?” A family member or we ourselves suffer a tragedy and we ask, “God, why did You do this to me? I know everything happens for a reason, what is the reason?”

We must not blame God for what He does not do.

After telling a parable about weeds in harvest and the coming of the reapers Jesus explains the parable to the disciples as recorded by Matthew in 13:37-43. Notice who Jesus blames for the causing the weeds, “He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.”(underline emphasis – BSMc). Personally, I will listen to Jesus.

Everything may have a reason.

But that reason is not always God.

  • The reason may be my poor choice.
  • The reason may be the poor choice of someone else.
  • The reason could very well be the influence of Satan in the world.
  • And perhaps, the reason could be God’s work in the world, after all “every good and every perfect gift is from above.”

-Scott

Who I Was

One of the amazing things about coming to know and understand God’s Grace is the scan0001impact that Grace has on our lives. Throughout my years in ministry, I can recall individuals who came to know God’s Grace and witnessed the change in their life.  I think of Gary (not his real name) who described his life before Christ as “debauchery.” He was everything the world told him he should be as a teen and young adult.  I think of the young mother who came to the Church looking for help to raise a child as a single mom. She found what she really needed in Christ and quit her job as a dancer in a men’s club. Grace does that.

Grace does that!

Grace points you to salvation that is in Christ and leads you to a righteous life.  Paul tells Titus, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self- controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14).

Peter tells us that our former friends, co-workers, or even family may not understand. He says, “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1Pe 4:4-5). The change is real.

The change is real!

The Bible talks about us:

  • Becoming a new creation
  • Putting off the former self.
  • Putting on the new self.
  • •”And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor 6:11).

Grace does that!

  • When we see what God did for us because of His great love; How can we not change for Him?
  • When we see what our sinfulness did to His Son; How can we continue to live that way?
  • When we see Christ lifted up on the Cross in our place; How can we stay away?

Who I was before is not important. Who I am in Christ is what matters.

-Scott

Note: The kid in the pic is me at a Fall Festival at Escambia Christian School circa 1978 or ’79. I was trying to pull off  a “Huck Finn” look.

By Grace

grace.pngAs I am working on this Sunday’s message about God’s grace I am finding and culling material.  This little tidbit won’t be in the lesson, but I thought it worth sharing with you.

A man awoke one morning after having a dream that disturbed him. When his wife asked what he dreamed, he related it: “I dreamed that I died but could not pass through the Pearly Gates because Peter said I had to have 1,000 points to my credit. He asked me to relate my record of religious activity on earth. I said, ‘I attended church services every Sunday.’ He said, ‘Good, that’s worth 50 points.’ Then I added, ‘I visited the sick some.’ He said, ‘Good, that’s 50 points. What else did you do?’ I said, ‘I gave to good causes.’ He replied, ‘That’s another 50 points.’ I said, ‘My points are not adding up very fast. The way you are counting them, I honestly believe that if I get to heaven at all, it’ll be totally by the grace of God.’ Peter replied, ‘That’s great. Learning that is worth 1,000 points by itself!’

Come to think of it we are saved by grace through faith not by our own merit (Eph 2:8-10).

-Scott

Blessings from God

blessingsfrom-god

I want to drive you to deeper thought.  My desire is to cause us to think about what we say as well as the thought behind what we say.  I admit, that some of what I am about to challenge you with are things I say and think. I have no agenda in writing other than the musings of a man who wants desperately to be true to the Creator and His Word – His Will.

  • I hear us say, “God blessed me with a wonderful family.” But what does that mean to and about the Christian who has a broken family?
  • I hear us say, “God blessed me with a wonderful spouse.” But what does that say about the single Christian who longs to marry but has not found someone to be their husband or wife?
  • I hear us say, “God blessed me with wonderful children.” Yet there are Christian couples who would make great parents, but are unable to have children.
  • I hear some say, “I am blessed to live in the United States.” Then I think about the Christians suffering in poor and developing countries or countries where being a Christian can get you killed and wonder, “What does God have against them?”
  • I hear us say, “God blessed me with this job.” Why are those blessings withheld from other Christians who need employment to care for their families?
  • I hear us say, “God blessed me with health.” Does that mean God cursed your brother in Christ with cancer?
  • We consider a house a blessing from God when others Christians live in poor conditions.

Are you with me? Do you understand my thoughts? What makes you so special that God would bless you and not others?

Does God really concern Himself with my physical abundance and my financial affluence?

Isn’t this what Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu debate in the book of Job?  Their entire theology was that God blesses the good, the righteous, with physical blessings. Now that Job had lost his blessings, it must be that he had done something to lose God’s favor. In the end, God taught Job that all Job needed was to trust God and that all Job needed was God. Nothing else mattered.

Nothing else matters.

Jesus, the Christ, God in the flesh tells us in Matthew 6:25-34,

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

God’s concern is that we have what we need and that we serve Him. He does not promise any more. When I brag on what I think are my blessings, do I harm the faith of those who do not have the same privileges? I also wonder, “Are these comforts blessings or can they become snares?”

There more I consider these things, the more I am convince that God’s concern is more about my faith and focus on Him.

-Scott

If you have an answer, please let me know . . .

 

The Printer

I have a small printer/scanner/copier in my study. It is not a fancy one, I use it mostlyimg_1862 for drafts, inner-office papers, and things only a few people or I will see.  However, upstairs in the college study area there is a much nicer printer. They have the same manufacturer, but that one is a higher quality machine.

I started thinking about these printers as mine needed ink. My printer uses a cartridge with the number 74xl and the better printer uses a 950xl. I like the way the other printer’s pages look much better than I do the way mine look. I decided to buy the 950xl ink for my printer. Now my pages look much sharper.

I did not really do this!

You know what would happen if I did try this. My printer requires 74xl, it will not work with any other number. The manufacturer designed it that way. They set a STANDARD ink for my printer and the series it belongs too. No print cartridge other than the one designed for it will work. If I were to try a different cartridge, I would get an error message or a blank page.

If we know this about printers, why do we forget this about ourselves?  We have a Designer, a Manufacturer, a Creator who knows what we need and what is best for us. Why do we try other things? Why do we try other ways other that His STANDARD?

Just asking.

-Scott

Living Debt Free

Are you covered in debt? That is what the radio commercials ask every day.  Do you have over $10,000 dollars in credit card debt, then call ____________. President Obama signed bills to relieve business debt in 2009.  President Trump (President as of 12:00 ET today) is a business man who through the years has carried a lot of debt and even went into corporate bankruptcy.

living-debt-free

Debt.

Like most of you I have debt.  I have a mortgage on my home, I am in the process of paying off a couple of vehicles so I can go into debt on another one and  I am paying on a refrigerator – interest free. I also have one debt that leaves me feeling helpless.

This debt is so large that I know for certain that no “debt relief” company can handle it for me.  This is the debt I owe God.  I owe Him for creating me, I owe Him for paying for my sin.  You know the scriptures, “The wages of sin is death.”  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  I am in the negatives so much that I can NEVER work my way out!  But thanks be to God that my balance sheet looks better than I just described. Written on the top of my balance sheet is:

Paid in Full!

Jesus, the Son of God, the Sinless man who was also God, paid the way for me to come to God.  Paul says it something like this, “God made Him who had no sin (debt) to become sin (indebted) for us that we might become the righteousness (state of being debt free) of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21).

How did I acquire this debt relief?  Simply.  I did the same thing God asks of you.  By faith, put on Christ. – Gal 3:26-27.

Are you covered in debt or are you living debt free?

-Scott