Category Archives: Christian living

How Did That Happen?

April 15 was not a good day for one lady in her sixties. No, as far as I know she did not learn she owned the IRS a pile of taxes. She was attending a Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Socks baseball game when a ball fouled off the bat of Stephen Souza, Jr. This 63 year old lady was sitting behind the protective net, but the 2.8 – 2.94″ baseball found a 4-5″ gap in the net that she was sitting behind. The ball hit her in the eye and she was taken out of the stands on a stretcher and to a local hospital.

gap3

image: Marc Topkin @TBTimes_Rays

 

Reporters noted Souza’s tears over the incident. And his wondering about the odds of this happening.

All this because of a gap in a net.  The MLB’s suggestion to all teams, check for gaps and close them.

Gaps. I never ceased to be amazed at what can get through the smallest of gaps. Insects find gaps in seals, windows, doors, and more to get into your house. This seems especially true of mosquitoes, ants, spiders, fruit flies, and Japanese Ladybugs.

Gaps. Satan finds the gaps in our armor and in our line of defenses to lead us away from God. Sin finds our weakest point and attacks.

Gaps. Our enemy finds gaps in our churches and slides in while we are not paying attention.

God looks for someone to fill these gaps and to help protect His people. He did during the time of Ezekiel, “And I sought for a man among them, that should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.” (Eze 22:30 ASV). He does today.

Will you be that person?  Will you stand up for what is right? Will you look for ways to help others stay true to God? Will you CLOSE THE GAP?

-Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, ministry, service, Uncategorized

God’s Will

Last week I posted God’s Plan for Your Life.

That post generated a few discussions via email, Facebook, and Messenger. One person suggested I expand my thoughts. Another individual just wanted me to explain my understanding to him. This is my answer. It is longer than my usual posts, but this is important. What I am sharing is a theological perspective that underscores who I am as a child of God and how I go about serving in that role. Simply put, the thoughts that follow affect every aspect of my life.

God’s Will and My Choice: A Theology

I have a theological perspective that I want to share with you, my readers. I think it consistent with scripture or else I would abandon it. I am going to do my best to explain it in as few of words as possible.  I am taking time to develop this here so that you can understand why I view the Scriptures and life the way I do.

theologyI start with the Mission of God.  God’s mission is to reveal Himself and his omnipresence to His creation. That is the relationship we see in the Garden; before the fall of man. After the fall of man, His mission does not change, but the way he carries out that mission does.  He longs to restore the lost relationship and plans to do so through Himself (Emmanuel – God with us). Throughout the Pentateuch we see God re-introducing Himself to His creation – Noah, Abram, Moses, etc. Through them God reveals Himself to a chosen people. Chosen for the purpose of bringing the Messiah into the world through Whom, God would reveal Himself to the world.  God does reveal Himself to the world throughout history. Look up phrases like “so all the nations will know that I am God.” But God through Christ reveals Himself and His ultimate plan of redemption. The redemption that comes through the sacrifice of the righteous for the unrighteous – the sinless for the sinner.  Today, the Kingdom of His Son (the Church) has the responsibility to continually reveal God through our work in the World and through His revealed will – the word of God.  Interestingly, God’s revealing Himself seems to follow a pattern of 1. To a person or persons, 2. Oral communication of that revelation, 3. That revelation in writing. Hebrews 1:1-2, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son . . .”

The second part of this theological perspective finds basis in 1. The omnipotence of God, 2. The omniscience of God, and 3. The free-will of man.

God is all-powerful and can do anything He wants even defy the laws of nature and the understanding of man. Consider creation itself, consider the flood, or the many other events throughout history where God set aside the laws of nature to do His will or prove His power. The greatest of these is the resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). Through this I learn that God’s weakness is stronger than my strength.

God is all-knowing. He knows more than any man or mankind can know. Standing outside of time, God knows more than we can even comprehend. Paul says, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

For some unknown reason – at least unknown to me – God gave those He created in His image the freedom to choose to or not to believe in or follow Him. Adam and Eve had a choice. Cain had a choice. Noah had a choice. Abraham had a choice, Lot had a choice, Israel as a nation and as individual had a choice. Peter had a choice. Judas had a choice. We have a choice.

What follows is an exponentially expanded view of God’s omniscience and His use of His omnipotence:

Let me remind you of a mathematical truth; through a single point in space you can theoretically draw an infinite number of lines. Now imagine that that point in space is a point in the space-time continuum. Imagine that point is a point in your life where you must make a choice. Let’s say in this situation you have five choices – one to your front, one to your left, to your right, behind you, or to decide nothing. I believe God allows you to choose and knows what the infinite number of consequences of each choice and of the choices that you will face because of that choice. It is possible that God might prefer you make one certain choice but will not force you. If, however, you as a child of God (and maybe even a seeker who is searching for God (Acts 10)) are desiring to do His will He can, because He is all powerful, bless you in any choice (as long as that choice is not to follow Satan or continue in sin). God out of love allows you to choose and then will work with your choice if you are trying to do His will. 

Open to the book of Genesis and recall the story of Joseph beginning in Genesis 37. Joseph is the favorite son, doted on by his father, Jacob. Joseph is also a dreamer who cannot keep his dreams to himself. When he dreams about stalks of wheat and the sun, moon, and stars, bowing to him, his brothers’ jealousy turns to envy, anger, and hate. They decide to kill him, then through his brother Rueben’s urging, they decide to toss him into a pit to teach him a lesson. When a band of traders passes by they sell Joseph into slavery. The convince their father, Jacob, that Joseph died at the hands of a wild animal. Joseph is sold to Potiphar, then lied about and tossed into prison. From prison he is eventually released because God interprets Pharaoh’s dreams through him and Joseph lays out a plan to survive the coming famine.  Joseph ends up second only to Pharaoh and through that is able to rescue his family from the famine. In Genesis 50:19-20, he tells his brothers who tremble and bow before him, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Another way of rendering that verse could be, “You meant it for evil, but God fabricated it for good.” In other words, God took what the brothers did and used it for His purpose, God did not necessarily force Joseph’s brothers’ hands to treat him poorly, but when they did, God took the opportunity of their choices and turned them to good. God could have in his omnipotence, put Joseph in power through any number of ways. It is not the only time in scripture God foils Satan’s plans.

Consider the preceding paragraph as you recall Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This text does not say everything is good. This text does not say God does everything for our good. This text says God will WORK things together for our good when we place ourselves in God’s care. Called according to His purpose is called by His plan. That plan is our choice to obey the good news. This is what Paul discusses in Ephesians 1. God predestined the “plan” the scheme of redemption that is salvation through Christ. He did not predetermine each individual to be or not to be saved. God is not a respecter of persons nor of ethnicities. His mission was always to reveal Himself to His creation for their redemption. God is not willing that any should spend eternity in Hell (2 Peter 3:9). God cannot go against His own will and only predestine some to salvation or to follow His will.

This is why I conclude, “God’s plan is simple! He wants me to CHOOSE to live for Him in all my life’s choices and to CHOOSE to live in a way to spend eternity with Him through the saving GRACE He offers in Christ.”

-Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, God, theology

God’s Plan for Your Life

I have heard the question for 30 years of ministry, “What does God want me to do with my life?” Or the related question, “How do I  know if this is what God wants me to do?”

Then there is the statement, “Everything happens for a reason.”

Does God have a plan for my life? Does God have a plan for your life? The answer might surprise you.

Does God have a plan? “Yes, but not the way many think.”

gods plan

God does not have a plan for your life that specifically spells out whom your parents will or will not be, where you will go to school, what you will experience in your life, whom you will marry, when or if you will experience pain, disease, or suffer in an accident.  God does not preplan the day you will die. He may know that day in His infinite wisdom, but He did not create you with a specific expiration date – you are not a loaf of bread! Nothing in scripture teaches that God controls all the specifics of our lives.  Heb 9:27 mentions our death being appointed but that is not a set date on a calendar, the Hebrew writer is stating that we will die, that death and judgment to come are what we are to expect out of life.

The same writer does answer the question of God’s will for my life and His will for your life.  God’s word is the only way we can know 100% what God plans for us.  Here is the Hebrew writer’s answer, “Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.  For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Heb 13:13-16.

There are three things in that text that define God’s plan for you and for me:

  1. Love and Praise Him.

  2. Seek Eternal Life with Him.

  3. Serve Others in His name.

Curiously, the wise preacher said something very similar, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecc 12:13-14.

God’s plan is simple! He wants me to CHOOSE to live for Him in all my life’s choices and to CHOOSE to live in a way to spend eternity with Him through the saving GRACE He offers in Christ.

-Scott

By the way, the statement “Everything happens for a reason” insinuates that all the bad things, the hurts, the disease, and death that occurs is a direct result of God’s hand in my life and His teaching me lessons to grow  me the way He wants to grow me no matter what choices I think I have. Such a statement of pseudo-faith takes away the free-will of man that is key to our understanding sin and a faith response to God for salvation. And thinking that God preplans every aspect of our lives tempts us to blame Him when things go wrong instead of accepting the blame and turning to Him for help when we mess up.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Christian living, Christians, God, Uncategorized

That’s Me in the Corner

All I can say is, “Wow!” What an awesome time we are living in. We are seeing people actively living their faith and by their example lighting a fire in others.

What am I talking about? What has me so excited? I am GLAD you asked!

After devotional and Bible Classes, I was talking with a parent of school age children. Here were her words, “My children had a ton of homework, I made them stop so we could come to Bible classes tonight. We wil be up late tonight, but I am so glad we came to mid-week.  We all needed the spiritual boost and classes were great.”

Just recently, I overheard a Christian say, “I am so looking forward to worship. I am getting there 20 minutes early so I can get my seat. I know singing will be great, and we will get to partake of communion, and the series the preacher is doing is fantastic. I told so and so, they could come in town this weekend, but we would not be going to the Lake on Sunday because that is when I want good seats at worship.”

Two teens were talking in between classes and I heard one say, “I cannot believe how immodestly our school friends dress. Don’t they know how gross it is to wear tight leggings as pants!” “I know” the other one said, “and the dresses people are buying for prom – they might as well wear nothing.”

On the way out to eat on a recent Sunday afternoon, I heard a parent and teen talking about his sportstained glass schedule. They were talking about how the coaches would understand them missing the tournament for worship. Their conclusion was that sports are fun but God’s people are more important.

As I thought about all that I had witnessed and heard, I became more and more excited to preach, to reach out to others, and to worship God. Then . . . I woke up. It was just a dream.

It is still a dream and it is my dream. A dream where we as Christians realize what is really important. A dream or a time when we truly put God above all things. A dream where we do not just sing, teach, preach, talk about how great Christ is, but a time when we live it.

Will you help my dream come true?

-Scott

 

1 Comment

Filed under Christian living, Christians, Uncategorized

What You Really Believe

People know what you teach as a Christian. People know what we tell them we believe. We believe the Bible is God’s Word. We believe that God created the universe. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead on the third day. We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah. Therefore, He is the culmination of the prophecies and the fulfillment of God’s pan. We believe that God manifests grace through His gift of Jesus the Christ, through Him offering mankind the forgiveness of sin and an enteral home in heaven.  We believe that the Christ taught us what true love is and how to love others.

Or do we?

Paul shares an encounter he had with Peter (Cephas),

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14)

Peter’s actions call into questions his professed belief. Peter would say he believed that God called Gentiles to salvation, that God is not a respecter of  ethnicity, that we should not call unclean what God calls clean, and that we should not refuse whom God accepts (cf. Acts 10 – 11). But his actions in Antioch say just the opposite.  What does  Peter really believe?

Think about these statements:gal2-18

  • What we do as a Christian should come from what we believe.

  • What we actually do demonstrates what we believe.

  • What we do will change what others believe.

  • What we do will ultimately change what we believe.

Take a look at your day to day actions. What do they say about what you believe?

-Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, faith, Uncategorized

Voting the Lethargic Ticket


When I was a teenager, I was reading through a BC Comic book. In one particular strip, Peter and Curls were discussing an upcoming election. There discussion then sums up how many of us feel 30-40 years later. Peter asked Curls if he was voting for the Apathy Party or the Lethargic Party. Curls replied, “I don’t know, I just don’t see any difference any more.”

Apathy is a real issue not only in politics, work, or school, but apathy invades the church as well. An attitude of apathy can destroy efforts to do what needs to be and should be done. The wise man recorded, “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys,” Prov 18:9. Apathy reveals itself in our lives and actions.

I thought I would share a list of symptoms of apathy/lethargy. If you see more than one in your life, take time to pray and to refocus.

Symptoms of Apathy Toward the Work of God and Christ:

Irregular Attendance.

 

If I struggle to be motivated to attend worship and other church events, my actions suggest I do not care.

Lack of Participation When I am Present.

I will come to worship, but not to Bible Classes. I am here, but I will not participate in class discussions. I am here, but I will not open my mouth to sing praises. I am here, but . . . Well you get the picture.

Consistently Arriving Late.

Tardiness indicates that an event (church in our discussion) shows a lack of concern. If I am truly excited about an event, I will arrive on time – if not early.

Waning Effort to Teach the Lost.

This may be one of the early indicators of apathy. If I do not care about others or about the cause of Christ, I will not share the message.

Few (if any) Private Devotionals or Personal Studies.

This is the first cause of alarm. If I am not spending time growing in my relationship with God, my lack of effort communicates that I no longer care about being with God.

Just somethings to think about.

-Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, Christians, service, Uncategorized

A Spring Thing

Finish this Thought . . .Spring is here. I know this because the pollen count is around 9 out of 10. I do not need to check this on an official site, my eyes are evident and well as my nasal intruder defense mechanism. (Excuse me while I grab a tissue).

As spring arrives many of us will get busy around the house. You may work in flower beds, you might work on the lawn, weeding, trimming, etc.  Some will plant a vegetable garden. You may give the inside of the house a good cleaning, including all the windows. I am planning on getting the pressure washer out and taking care of some things outside.

I encourage you not only to clean your physical house, but take some time to focus on your spiritual house. No, not the church building – YOU. The temple of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling place of God and Christ.

Make certain your faith, your religion is authentic. Authentic in the sense that your faith impacts the way you live. James would tells us that faith that does not impact our life’s choices and actions is in fact not faith at all and in dead ( cf. James 2:17).

Just a few paragraphs earlier James says, “But be doers of the word, and not hears only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22). Faith that makes a difference in our lives is faith that puts God’s word into action. Anything else is unfaithfulness.

Consider the context of James 1:22-27,

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

As you clean house, make these changes in your spiritual walk.

  • Compare yourself to God’s standard – The Word of God

  • Be a Doer that acts on what you learn from God’s Word

  • Simply talking a good religion is worthless. Walk it!

-Scott

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, Uncategorized