Category Archives: Christians

You Are Missed

They weren’t here. I did not see them. I am looking at the list of “absentees” from worship this past month and like every month, I wonder, “why are they not attending regularly?” Is it the preaching? Is it our congregational singing? Are we not welcoming? Do they not feel important, needed, and appreciated? Do they not know how much God has done for them?

When I talk with Christians about worship, Bible class, and fellowship attendance I get a variety of responses.

  1. Churches talk too much politics.
  2. The church is weak on doctrine.
  3. Church is out of touch with culture.
  4. Church is not as entertaining as ____________.

The responses are not stated exactly like that, but those are some that I hear – between the lines. There is one more factor in play. This reason usually goes something like this:

“I don’t have any friends (know anyone or have anything in common with anyone) there.”

If you have heard this said about where you worship, then please keep reading. If this is how you feel;  if this is why you are not regularly (multiple times weekly) gathering with other Christians in worship and study; then please keep reading.

First I want to talk to the church. I have something to say to every Christian. Listen up!

People want to be with friends.

There I said it and you can help. We can have scheduled and impromptu gatherings at the building, in homes, in parks, and at restaurants, where Christians and their friends can get together for friendly fun fellowship. We can reach out to our guests and include them in our conversations. We can introduce them to others at our assemblies and small group fellowships and help them form acquaintances that can develop into friendships.  We can even bring long-time church members into our group of friends. We can make all of our gatherings welcoming events. We may have to catch-up with our regular group or family at a later date. Smartphones make this easier.

Now to those of you who struggle to attend for lack of connection, let me talk with you. I want to be as kind and understanding as possible. I say this with compassion,

“Try to make some friends.”

lizzieatpiano

via Working Title

In the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy says in defense, “I … do not have the talent of conversing easily with people I have never met before.” Elizabeth Bennett, while sitting at the piano having been forced to paly and scolded for lack of practice by Mr. Darcy’s aunt retorts, “Perhaps you should take your aunt’s advice and practice.”

An acquaintance of mine tells an account of being a guest at a congregation while on vacation. He could not believe how unfriendly the people were, even those sitting on the same row with him did not speak, they barely even acknowledged his presence. Finally, he decided to introduce himself and force them to at least talk. When he did, the person seemed relieved, and said so. They were also a guest and thought he was an unfriendly member!

Here is the point. Please do not walk in late and leave early. Be there long enough for people to have an opportunity to meet you. Introduce yourself and ask a question or two. At most congregations there are people there 30 minutes before assembly and some stay just as long after having conversations and making plans for getting together away from the building.

-Scott

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Off Target

OFF off targetTARGET

The news reported last night that over 500,000 people have signed a petition to boycott Target. That number is almost 700,ooo this morning. Unless you just ignore social media and the news you know that this boycott is in response to Target’s decision to allow people who self-identify as a different gender from their biological birth to use the bathroom that they feel is correct for them.

But this is not a post about Target, LGBT, bathrooms, outhouses, or boycotts.

I will leave your  response to Target, NIKE, Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A, or any other company to you as an individual or family.

This post is about you and I as Christians and what the world thinks about us based on what we say and what we do. Does the world know more about what we are against that what we are for?

If  I were to take a microphone and camera to the campus of the University of Alabama (one mile from my study – Roll Tide) and asked random students, “What do Christians believe?” I am afraid the answers would be:

  1. They believe getting homosexuality is a sin
  2. They believe transgenderism is a sin
  3. They believe lesbianism is a sin
  4. They are against welfare
  5. They are against healthcare
  6. They are against raising the minimum wage
  7. They believe all other religions are wrong.
  8. They don’t believe in science (climate change, evolution, etc)
  9. They believe a woman does not have a right to her own body (abortion)

There may be other answers, but I am truly afraid that many if not most people I would talk with would know more about what they think we are against than what we are for.

If this is truly the case . . .

We are OFF TARGET!

  • Can I get you to join me in letting people know about the saving power of the blood of Christ?
  • Will you join me in a movement to spread the GOOD NEWS of salvation from the wrath of God?
  • Will you like Paul admit you are a sinner in need of the grace of God through Christ?
  • Will we demonstrate to the world that we believe in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control?
  • Will we show them forgiveness and grace?

We are good at pointing fingers and quoting these words, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Will we remember verse 11 follows? 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.” (emp – BSMc)

-Scott

 

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An Open Letter to Our Son

Andrew,

Your mom and I were discussing our individual childhood memories and games. We both discovered 2016-04-25 07-15-44.941something that you should know. What we learned may have an impact on your past, present, and future. There are advantages and disadvantages to what we discovered.

I will start with your mom. She used to go on the 40 acres and play what we then called “Indian” the correct term now is Native American. She would gather sticks and straw and build a hut she called a TiPi. Many hours of the afternoon and summer were spent playing this role.

When my friends and I played what we called “Cowboys and Indian” which I suppose should be re-termed “Invading Ranchers and Native Americans,” I regularly wanted to be the Native American. I had bows and arrows, and even a chief’s head dress. Once while roleplaying I took an oak branch I was using as a club and literally knocked my older brother out. I took role playing seriously.

I say all this to tell you that your mom I have realized this was more than roleplaying or pretending. We were expressing who we thought we were. That is why we are coming out today as TRANS-ETHNIC.

Trans-ethnic

I realize, we have told you all your life about your Scottish, Irish, English, and Swedish ancestry. I know that our fair skin and blue eyes will cause some to question our ethnic self identity, but stand strong. I hope you will stand behind us and our decision. I hope this does not embarrass you, I hope you are proud of us.

Your parents,

Teaches with Smile (formerly known as Mom) and Stands in Pulpit (formerly known as Dad)

BTW – Now you can now apply for a Native American Tuition Waiver.

OKAY, OKAY. This is completely satirical I am not Native American and neither is Amy, although both of us have at least one ancestor each who was, but that was generations ago. We are not trans-ethnic.  I know my readers are intelligent enough to make the application to society’s current “self-identification” crisis. What we are born as is what were are genetically. No matter what we think we are or want to be our genetics do not change.

-Scott (a.k.a. Stands in Pulpit)

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Take Your Hat Off and Stay

This is an edit of a post from 2012. With all the political correctness going on and people not wanting their feelings hurt by being told they are wrong, I thought I would update and share.

A well-to-do family hired a maid to keep the house and laundry clean. All the first day the new maid wore her hat, the family thought that in the excitement of a new job and wanting to get right to work she had simply forgotten to take off her hat. This habit of keeping her hat on continued into the following week. Curiosity finally overcame the lady of the house and she asked the maid why she always wore her hat when she worked. “Well,” replied the maid, “I want to be ready to quit any time you say something that hurts my feelings.”

The story is ridiculous, the maid needs some help. This easily applies to our whiny culture that does not like being told, “no.” But I am not really going there. That would be too easy.

IMG_0515I wonder, “How many Christians still keep their hats on?” How many of us wear our feelings on our shoulders waiting for an excuse to leave the church? Just this week, I talked with people who no longer attend a certain church, because someone questioned what they said, wore, did , or did not do. Yes, what was said may have been offensive and out of line, but we should not let people get in the way of our relationship to God.

I wonder what hope we would have if Jesus had quit because His feelings were hurt? People mocked Him, taunted Him, doubted Him, accused Him, slapped Him, spit in His face, called His teachings into question, and so on. Yet He persisted in the mission before Him enduring the shame and suffering (Heb 12:2ff).

When many quit following Jesus because what He said offended them, he turned to the disciples and asked, “Will you go away also?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of life.” (Jn 6:67-68).

Where could we go if we leave Christ?

Where else is there salvation?

What is more important to me? – My feelings or my soul?

Are you still wearing your hat? Take it off and get to work!

-Scott

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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.

 

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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

 

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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

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