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Scott - First Things First

Boyd Avenue Baptist Church
1930 Boyd Avenue, Casper, WY

(307) 261-9896

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Tuesday
Aug012017

August 2017

Wow!!!  What a wonderful and powerful God we serve.  As I sit in my office this morning, writing this article, I cannot get the power and wonder of God off of my mind. 

Today, we are in the midst of our second week of Summit.  Our youth and their great sponsors attended Summit 1 last week.  Right now, there are 136 teenagers and 41 sponsors at Mountain Top Baptist Assembly in Summit 2.  Stepping into two weeks of Summit, was no small thing.  When we were challenged to make this commitment a year ago, we knew that there was little choice but to go forward, but there was some trepidation to this move.  Could we recruit enough staff for two weeks?  Would we have enough students to make two effective camps?  But, as is so often the case, God showed up. 

Staff recruitment was accomplished earlier than ever before.  This year we are seeing about 70 more in attendance at the two weeks that we had at last summer’s Summit Camp which was the largest on record.  We already know that there have been some salvations, but it will be a few days before we see what we can see of God’s activity at Summit this summer.  I say it that way, because we are all well aware that God does many things around us that are beyond our perception.  Actually, what we can see is just the tip of the iceberg of what He does.

In addition to that, I can look across the street from our office and see the progress on the building.  For over three years, we have been working to see this project get started.  There have been many obstacles.  Some big, some small, but all have been overcome in time.  We know that there are still some hills to climb.  We are working with the city now to deal with a potential parking issue.  We thought this had been overcome some months ago, but it has popped up, so we are dealing with it now. 

Doubtlessly, there will be other obstacles arise as this project unfolds.  I do not know what they will be, but they are coming.  I’m not particularly worried about any of them, because I have seen God carry us past hurdle after hurdle, and I see no reason He will not continue to keep carrying us forward.  That is not to say that these problems are pleasant or that they will not require work on our part.  But, I have seen our mighty God carry us over so many things in the past years, I am confident that we will find a way over every situation that arises.  Again, I say it this way, because if our way is indeed God’s way then there is nothing that will not be overcome as we move forward.

Above, I have shared two current illustrations of our mighty God.  Yes, I want you to know what is happening in these projects.  But, I also want to encourage you, because I know that there are situations that arise in all of our lives that are difficult and/or uncertain.  What I want you to understand is that we serve a mighty God who wants to carry you over each hurdle as they arise before you. 

In Joshua 1:5 God promises Joshua that He will never leave or forsake him.  In the same way, we who bear the name of Christ can walk forward through the struggles of life with absolute confidence that God, through His Holy Spirit, will never leave us or forsake us.  Rather He will lift us over every hill and mountain as they arise in our path.

Christians walk by faith.  This is a faith that is supported by God’s accomplishments in and around our lives.  So let us walk forward in peace and confidence. 

 

Tuesday
Aug012017

July 2017

It is hard to believe, but 2017 is already half way behind us. On the other hand, half of this year still lies before us.  While this has been an interesting and productive year so far, I can’t help but wonder what the second half of 2017 has in store for us.  As I sit in my office writing this article, I can hear the heavy equipment accomplishing the dirt work necessary for the new building.  By year’s end, we expect to see a structure standing on our property, ready for the interior work to be done.  This will put us that much closer to being ready to finish the building so that the Kingdom work that will be there can begin.  This is exciting.

Also, on a bit of a sadder note, a few days ago, we locked the doors on the Set Free house.  This ministry is now concluded in our city.  While it is discouraging to see a ministry that has so much potential pass by the wayside for lack of leadership, it is up to us to move forward.  I am not sure exactly how Boyd Avenue will address the needs of the part of our community that Set Free reached, but be assured we will not ignore it.  My first inclination is to reach toward Wyoming Rescue Mission.  It is already in place and ministering to the homeless and substance challenged that live here.  Several of our folks regularly work as volunteers.  And one of our members is an employee, investing himself into these lives that are so often overlooked.  These decisions and directions will unfold as the rest of the year rolls forward.  Where we will end up in this ministry is still in question, but we can be sure that our Lord will lead us to the place that will best lift up those in need and glorify His name.  So this is exciting.

Then there are those unknown things to which we will find answers very soon.  Like, how is God going to use our mission team in Canada?   By the time you read this, they will be in Calgary working with Southwinds Church.  Then there are the camps that we will be a part of our ministry in July.  Kids’ Camp is fun and we always see youngsters come to Christ that week.  Then there is Summit.  For the first time, this camp has been expanded to two weeks.  Last year, we had about 245 participants in the single week of camp.  At this time, we have 334 registered for these weeks.  Who would have thought?  So it is impossible to guess what God is up to.  But, He is definitely up to something, and by the end of July, I think we will know what He had in mind, this is very, very exciting.

If that weren’t enough, throw into the middle of July our “Nourish” women’s conference.  Now understand, I may be a little prejudiced, but I am very excited about this conference for multiple reasons.  First, my daughters, Angie and Audrey, are the invited speakers.  So I am thrilled to see them, knowing that they are serving our Lord in a very special way.  Also, I am excited, because it was the women of our church who came up with this concept.  Neither Beth nor I suggested this.  This conference is something some of the women of the church wanted, and the next thing you know here it is.  I think that their initiative in this is great!  Add to that, what God is going to do in this conference in the lives of our ladies, and it’s hard to estimate what Kingdom things will be accomplished.  The prospects of all this are so exciting!

So, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m about as excited as a person can become.  Honestly, I’m a little overwhelmed by all that stands before me right now, but I know that God is in charge and He will get all that needs to be done, done.  Then we will all be in a place where we will celebrate God and His goodness and see all the great things that He has done, as this summer and the rest of 2017 unfold.

 

Tuesday
May302017

June 2017

Ecclesiastes 3: 1 says: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”  As I write this article, I am witnessing the changing of a season of ministry in our community in which our Church has been deeply involved.  This is a sad time for me, but one that must be.  A few years ago, we, along with several sister churches, opened the Set Free Church in Casper.  This ministry was aimed at those who struggled most deeply with life.  Its principle purpose was to provide a live-in discipleship program for men who were coming out of prison, introduce them to   Jesus, and immerse them in scripture and discipleship so that they would have a new foundation on which to base their lives.  Most of the men who came through the program have had addiction problems which have greatly afflicted them.

Recently, the director of our program left abruptly, moving out of state.  This is the third leader that we have had fail in this position over the life of Set Free in Casper.  It would not be appropriate for me to detail any of the failures, but each time, the ministry has been left high and dry.  Following this final departure, the pastors of the supporting churches met and came to an obvious conclusion.  We could see no way for this ministry to go forward long term.  It was a difficult decision for us all, one we would rather not have made, but we saw no other course of action.

When the director left, he left about a dozen men in the house who are in the program.  We will not leave these men on the street, but will be working with them over the next few weeks to help them find places to live and means for them to continue their spiritual journeys.  There are wonderful testimonies that have come out of Set Free.  People, whose lives have been changed through this work.  So, it is with a heavy heart that I share this news with you about the passing of this ministry from our community.

This is not to say that Boyd Avenue or the other supporting churches will no longer serve this segment of our community.  We were reaching in that direction before Set Free came along and we will continue to reach out in the days ahead.  Also, we must understand that neither Set Free nor Boyd Avenue has ever saved anyone.  That work is done by God alone through His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ.  It is in that truth that I find comfort today.

So to everything there is a season.  Spring is moving into summer which will move into autumn.  So it is in our lives and in our ministries.  The season of Set Free is passing from Casper.  But, a new season is unfolding before us.  What will that season look like?  I do not know, but I am looking forward to see what our Lord has in store.

 

Wednesday
Apr262017

May 2017

As the book of Revelation unfolds, it is filled with imagery and promises of many things yet to come.  There are the frightening passages as bowls are poured out, as trumpets are sounded, and as seals are broken.  While there are many things that frighten us, we understand that as time moves toward her end, these things must be.  Exactly what these things will look like, how they will touch us I do not know.  But, what I do know is that this book is teaching us that no matter what happens or how they happen, the good guys win! 

It is this victory that God brings to us through His Son that the closing chapters of this book emphasizes.  There are powerful and wonderful descriptions of what heaven will physically be like.  Although the things described are things that exist beyond our natural world, there is no doubt that heaven is a wonderful place.  Also, there are even more beautiful descriptions of how we will relate to God.  He will be our God and we will be His people!  He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more sorrow or pain.  There will be no separation between us and God, us and Jesus, us and the Spirit, and us and each other.  It is these relationships, lived in perfect harmony, that are the true distinctive of heaven. Yes, streets of gold, gates of pearl, a crystal river, the tree of life, and so much more are incredible, but the purity and completeness of our relationships that will be the true joy of heaven.  Also, I think that we need to understand that once these things are established they really won’t seem all that exceptional to us.  No, I think we will wonder how unexceptional the things of our previous life were.

Then as Revelation closes, there is an invitation and an appeal.

The invitation comes from the Spirit and the bride (the church).  Revelation 22:17 says: “Both the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’  And anyone who hears should say, ‘Come!’  And the one who is thirsty should come.  Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift.”  This is a summary of the Christian invitation.  Jesus, alone, is the living water that brings life.  The Spirit convicts people of their spiritual need.  The Church is compelled to extend this invitation to all people. (The Great Commission)  Everyone who has taken advantage of this Living Water must share the Good News.  Then all who are thirsty should come.  Those who do will be given new life.  Those who do not will continue on in their suffering, despite the availability of this Living Water springing up around them.

Then there is the appeal.  This appeal comes from us.  When we come to understand as John did as these spiritual truths were revealed to him, we will join him is his appeal to Jesus. Revelation 22: 20 says: “He who testifies about these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’  Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!”  John could not wait for Jesus to return and fulfill all he had just seen.  Likewise, when we begin to get a glimpse of what Jesus has in store for us, we will join him in his appeal and pray to God, “Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!”

When all of this is accomplished in our lives, then the benediction of the book will have its real power and meaning flow over us.  Revelation 22: 21 “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.  Amen.”

We find the truth of God’s love for us in Christ alone.  His grace and peace will indeed be with us for He has transformed us from sinner to saint.  And His grace will be upon us.  Amen!

 

Tuesday
Apr042017

April 2017

In our called Business Meeting on March 8, our Church approved the recommendation from our Building Committee to move forward with the construction of the multi-purpose building that we have been planning for a long time.  I was strongly encouraged by the meeting.  It was well attended.  There were many good questions and much discussion.  The meeting ran about an hour and twenty minutes and I would characterize it as thorough, but positive.  At the end of the time, those who gathered voted unanimously to approve the recommendation.

A part of the recommendation was to approve the sale of notes for the capital funds for the construction.  These are to be sold in phases as the need for these funds comes about. (The first set of these notes are now available to be purchased at the Church Office.)  There will be many developments as the construction unfolds, and I will do my best to keep everyone updated.

The purpose for this article is not to make announcements or to encourage you to buy a note. Although both of those things are important.  No, I want to dedicate the rest of this space to what we must do as a congregation to complete the daunting task that stands before us.

Very simply put, the only way that this task can be accomplished is for each of us to do our part!  In the book of Nehemiah, we have the record of a great and difficult building project.  Israel had been allowed to return to Jerusalem and to live there again.  What Nehemiah found was a mess.  While people had moved in, they were in a very difficult circumstance.  The walls of Jerusalem remained in ruins and efforts to rebuild them had all been thwarted by forces from both inside and out.  Nehemiah, under God’s direction, organized the folks calling on each family and clan to simply do their part.  And in Nehemiah 6: 15, we read, “The wall was completed in 52 days.”  An accomplishment that no one expected, but God provided.

So what will we, Boyd Avenue, have to do to accomplish this thing that we have agreed together to do?  The answer is simple.  Each of us will have to put our shoulder to the wheel.  Each of us has something we can and must do.  This is not something that I as pastor can accomplish alone.  The Deacons can’t do this, or the Building Committee can’t do this alone.  This is something that will require all of us doing what we can do.  In Nehemiah, each family was called upon to build a certain section of the wall.  Each family rose to the challenge and the walls were built, providing the security they needed to flourish.

So, what is your part?  That, I cannot answer.  But, God can!  He may lead you to help in any number of ways.  Some can help financially.  Some can give much, others less.  We need people to keep giving to the Building Fund.  We need people to make loans through our note sale.  Some can’t give financially, but they will be able to give labor.  There will be phases of this project when we will need volunteers to come out to work on certain parts of the project.  We will need people to clean up after them.  And we will need people to provide a meal or two so workers can have a quick lunch on days they volunteer.  There will be other things that will arise that will demand someone to step forward and say, “I will do that.”  God will lead some of us to help in multiple ways.  But, there is also something else that each and every one of us can and must do.  This is the most important part of the project.  We need Building Project Prayer Warriors!  This whole thing must be bathed in prayer from beginning to end, or it will not be accomplished.  Will we see the project completed in 52 days?  Probably not.  But, if we all prayerfully and collectively put our shoulders to the wheel, I am certain that we will be amazed at what God accomplishes through us!