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Pastor Quin

Pastor Ed

Scott - First Things First

Boyd Avenue Baptist Church
1930 Boyd Avenue, Casper, WY

(307) 261-9896

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Tuesday
Feb282017

March 2017

How do we know that God loves us?  What is the criteria by which we measure God’s love for us?  Now I’m not talking about His love for humanity.  Obviously, humanity is made up of billions and billions of souls, from all over the world, through all ages of history, past, present, and future.  We can understand an abundance of love spread over so great a multitude.  But, I’m talking about the love that God has for me, or for you as an individual.  We understand that the Bible teaches us that God loves us all the same.  That His love is unconditional.  That His love is unfathomable.  That His love is inseparable.  We have been taught and teach others that God loves you and me individually as completely as He loves all of humanity.  Intellectually, we can come to a point that we see that God loves you as much as He loves me and vise-versa.  We understand that in God and by God, we are loved completely.  In other words we just cannot be loved any more deeply or purely than when God loves us.

Now all this is great!  To know that we are loved by the God of the universe to a degree that is beyond our comprehension is wonderful.  But, what about those times when are not feeling that love, at least not in the way that we would like to feel that love?  We know that life is not always easy.  Things don’t always pan out just the way that we had hoped that they would.  When health issues, or money issues, or family issues, or a dozen different issues arise that were not anticipated, do we judge God’s love for us according to those things?  And perhaps, not so much by those things themselves, for we know we live in a fallen world that is not often fair.  But, we often judge God’s level of love toward us on how we feel about those things.  Or another way of putting it, is the level of unhappiness that this situation may bring to us. So we may say, “If God loved me, things wouldn’t be like this.”

You see, if we come to that point, then we are using our emotional comfort level to measure God’s love.  It would be like a very young child, when he/she is being disciplined or denied, saying to their parent, “You just don’t love me.”  Or, even worse, “I don’t love you anymore.” One of the big differences here, of course is that this is an example of an angry child trying to manipulate the situation to get their way. And while our struggle with God’s love may or may not be an attempt at manipulation. But, it may be our attempt of dealing with emotional pain.  So, the question remains, how do we measure God’s love for us, when we aren’t feeling all that loved?

Let us go back to those earlier qualifiers of His love.  First, of all God’s love for us is unconditional.  This is an extremely hard concept for us to grasp, for there are few things in this world that come without condition.  Perhaps the closest thing that we can find within us to this is our love for our children.  We love them, no matter what.  Now, we like them better when their behavior is what we want it to be, but we love them none the less.  It is very difficult for us to comprehend the fact that we do not have to, nor can we earn God’s love.  Often, neglected children blame themselves for the neglect of a lousy parent.  They blame themselves even when it is not the child’s fault at all.  But, I have seen children go to great lengths to win their parent’s approval, all the while never comprehending that this love cannot be earned.  It either exists, or it does not.  Fortunately, for us the unconditional love of God exists.

God’s love is unfathomable.  By this, I mean love that doesn’t make sense.  Why does God love us?  Why did God love the nation of Israel?  Over and over again, they turned away from Him in the Old Testament, but He has loved them and continues to be faithful to them.  He has restored them to their land time and time again, against all odds.  They worshipped Baal, they turned away from God Himself, they rejected His Son as Messiah and murdered Him.  But still God loves them.  Let us be careful not to throw too many stones here.  God’s love for you and me is just as unfathomable as is His love for Israel.  We have sinned against Him over and over.  We doubt His existence from time to time.  We doubt His love for us.  We doubt His faithfulness to us.  We sometimes even try to judge Him by our standards, so that we can justify ourselves.  Why does He love us?  I have no idea.  He just does and that is what makes His love for us beyond our understanding.

His love is inseparable.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Romans 8: 31-39 tells us this truth in great detail.  Verses 38-39 says, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, or things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Do you see that?  Nothing can separate us from God’s love.  It is inseparable in our lives!  So, what does this do for us?  Verse 37 says, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  More than conquerors, so that in God’s love and in His love alone, we can conquer all things.  We can overcome the enemy.  We can overcome all created things.  In Christ’s love alone we can even conquer those things that would make us emotionally doubt the love of God.

So God does love us.  He loves you and he loves me.  I have no instrument that is able to measure His love.  My emotions are fickle.  They will from time to time be inaccurate in their assessment of God’s love.  But, you see in all things, His love is not dependent on any measurement of mine.  No, His love is dependent solely on Him.  And in Him I can fully trust!

Pastor Quin

 

Tuesday
Jan312017

February 2017

What a crazy winter we have been having to this point.  It seemed to me that winter was a little late in coming this year, not unleashing its fury to any great extent until after Thanksgiving.  Sure there were a few cool snaps, and a little snow, but overall, until early December, winter had pretty well kept its head down.  But, when it rolled in, it really rolled in!  Big snow storms accompanied by sub-zero temperatures.  And not just any sub-zero either.  Lows in the -30 range, days when the high temps were still sub-zero made it really cold, even for Wyoming.  Add to that some ferocious winds for several days in a row and in my opinion, we’ve had a pretty harsh winter, at least so far.  I have seen each of these conditions in the past, but I really don’t remember this much bad weather packed together for this many weeks back to back.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m really not complaining as much as I am simply pointing out that we have had about 1 ½ months of tough weather almost non-stop. 

Today, on the other hand, is about the fourth or fifth day in a row that the weather has been really nice here in Casper.  The temperatures are above freezing, there is almost no wind, the snow drifts are declining and the ice on the streets is slowly melting away.  Today is truly a beautiful Wyoming winter day.  If we had more days like this, there would be a lot more folks moving here from other states, so I guess the wind and storms do have their advantages.

I am not writing these things just to talk about the weather.  As I was considering the weather that we have had this winter, it occurred to me how much like life this winter had been.  In late fall, it seemed that winter may never come.  The days were relatively warm and the winds were low, it was a long and beautiful fall.  There are seasons in our lives when everything just goes along better than we expect.  Health is good, our jobs are going fine, the family is happy, and so forth.  Yes, we know that there are potential problems out there, but to date they are not here, and who knows, maybe those storms just won’t come. 

But, just like this winter in Wyoming, winter does come.  This year, winter came in powerfully with a series of storms that were harsh even by our standards.  So it is with life, sooner or later, storms are going to come.  They may be mild and easily endured, but they may come in waves.  Those storms of life may come from any direction and each of them is hard by itself.  But, when they stack up on one another, it makes it that much more difficult.  When we are in the middle of one of these seasons of storm after storm, it may feel to us as though these storms will never end.  But, as surely as the seasons of the year turn, so do the seasons of our lives.  No matter how bitter the storm today, soon there will be some relief.  A day is coming when you will look around and feel the warmth of the sun shining on your face.  There will be a time when nice days have strung together and the snow banks of struggle are declining and the ice of    uncertainty is melting away.  There is always the promise of the new day in which you will once again enjoy the basic walk down the street or another simple pleasure that emotionally you have not felt in a while.

God created us to live in this wonderful creation of His.  He fully intends for us to live in the fullness of joy that life offers.  And while there will inevitably be storms that interrupt our bliss, we can be assured that close on the heels of the storm there will be another time of joy and warmth into which the vitality of a joyful life with Christ is experienced once again.

Yes, I hope this letter brings a little hope that soon another harsh Wyoming winter will be behind us.  But more than that I want to assure you that if there are storms, big or small, raging in your life, that in Christ and with His eternal presence, the sun still shines and the days of warmth and joy are not far away.

 

Wednesday
Jan042017

January 2017

Another year is upon us.  We have turned the calendar once again.  We understand that we cannot go back in time and try to redo the things that are behind us.  We cannot correct past errors, we can only try to avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly.  Nor can we reenact the good things of this past year.  We may imitate them.  We may attempt to set up the same scenarios that worked well before, hoping that they will work well again.  But, we all understand that time cannot be repeated.  If you had a rough 2016, then you will want to leave it behind.  If you had a wonderful 2016, you may try to repeat it in 2017, but that is impossible.  Hopefully, you will have a good year, but 2016 is gone forever.

This brings to mind that passage quoted in Colossians 4: 5:  “Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.”  The New King James Versions calls it:  “redeeming the time.”  Indeed, this should be a goal for each of us as we move from one year into the next.  As you know, the idea of “redeeming” something carries the concept of making it valuable.  We have had only one 2016.  Only you can determine if you redeemed the time of that year.  Likewise, we will only have one 2017 and, again, only you can determine whether you will make this upcoming year valuable.

So how can we view time in such a way as to make it valuable?

First, we need to understand that time is valuable itself.  An old saying in business is, “time is money.”  While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, in reality, time is unspeakably valuable.  They aren’t making any more of it.  There are still just 24 hours in a day, and each of us has one fewer day than we had yesterday.  We must understand that when God gives us a day, He expects us to value it and use it wisely.

Second, time is irreplaceable.  If I break something around my house, it may be frustrating, but most of those things can be replaced.  Through the years, I have worn out several Bibles.  When one breaks down to the point that I cannot keep the pages in place any longer, all I have to do is to shop around and find another one.  But, when time has passed, it has passed.  We cannot reclaim time.  It simply is gone.  We may recall times gone by, or we may be able to duplicate some circumstances so that one time may seem much like a previous time.  But time cannot be repeated. What we have is simply two times that have some similarities.

Third, time is unique.  There are nothing else like time.  Wealth, success, popularity are all good things that most of us enjoy to one degree or another.  But none of them can replace time.  No matter what we may achieve in our pursuits, they do not replace time.  There is nothing else like it and nothing can be substituted for it.

If we can come to an understanding of the precious gift that is time, then we can understand why God instructed us to “redeem the time.”  So while we may understand that time is rare and should be treasured, we also must determine a plan for how to make our time of greatest value.  It seems to me that if we turn to the commands that Jesus gave us, then we will inevitably find that our time will be redeemed to its greatest potential.  Jesus basically gave us three commands.  He told us to love God.  He told us to love the world (Christian and non-Christian).  Then within the household of faith, He told us to love each other.  I think if you go through all the teachings of our Lord that you will find that everything will fall under these three commands.

So if you want to make a commitment to make the most of 2017, then simply do what Jesus has told you to do.  For if we can love as Jesus loved, we will have a great year.  It may and probably will have its struggles, but God’s love in us and lived by us can make all time valuable.

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!!!

 

Tuesday
Nov292016

December 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!  As I note every year at this time, it is hard to believe that another year has come and is almost gone.  If nothing else, I think we can all agree that 2016 has been an eventful year.

While there are many things that could be addressed in this article, I want to take a few moments of your time and update you on our building project and the fund raising that is ongoing.  The numbers that you will see in this article are close estimates of where we are and what we have done to date.  The time lapse between when I write this and you read this will be about 2 weeks, so things will change, but this will give you an idea of what we have done and where we are.

Since we started our capital fund raising about 3 years ago, we have seen consistent and generous giving to this project.  So far, with our building fund offerings, we have purchased the house at 1956 Boyd Avenue for $189,900.  We also purchased the former car lot.  After some designated gifts specifically for this purchase came in, our Church was left with a responsibility of around $45,000.  We have paid for the demolition of the old office building including asbestos testing and abatement, a total cost of about $35,000.  In addition to these expenses, we have spent about $32,500 on soil testing, engineering fees, architecture and drafting, and electrical preparation to service the new building.  This brings the total spent from this account to about $302,400.  Currently we have about $100,000 in the account.  There will be a few more expenses that are upcoming in the near future, but I think the additional monies that flow into the account will outpace these upcoming expenses. 

Before you nod off as you look over these numbers, let me give you my take on all this.  First of all, I find it absolutely breathtaking, that our church has been able to pay out all this money for these purposes related to the building project and we still have $100,000 unspent.  None of this money has come out of our General Fund.  All has come through special donations and gifts to our Building Fund.  There is no doubt that God is in this, because I see no way that we should have been able to accomplish all that has been accomplished to this point.  So with that in mind, we press on toward the mark that our Church feels that God has set before us.

Also, I want us to remember why we are doing all of this.  The answer is short and simple.  We are in the process of building a wonderful ministry tool.  In this new building, we will have a new and modern kitchen facility.  There will be comfortable space for banquet or fellowship gatherings of 300 or more.  Recreational ministries will be available for all age groups.  New offices will be developed.  And there will be some additional educational space.  There is no doubt that this new building will be of great service to our current folks and also open many new doors through which we can touch our community.

Now, this brings us to our current fund raising goal for the Building Project.  Throughout 2016, we have been encouraging people to give toward a project goal of $100,000.  This figure was not just grasped out of thin air.  But rather, this is the number that our research has told us that will be necessary to service and reduce the debt that will be incurred, once we have sold the notes (bonds) that have always been a part of the capital funding plan for this construction. This also takes into account the expanded expenses that will come with a new building (utilities, insurance, etc.).  These expenses will eventually be woven into our budget, but for the first couple of years, we intend to cover them outside the budget.

Currently, we have received right at $90,000 this year.  By the time you read this, we should be somewhere north of that figure.  Let me strongly encourage you to consider giving to the Building Fund, so that we can reach or perhaps exceed our goal.  I am not asking you to do anything that my family and I are not intending to do and have been doing.  But, along with all the wonderful things that we have seen God provide through this Building Project, it is important that we meet or exceed this goal.  We are very close and I am confident that if we all pull together in this, that we will be able to celebrate what our God has once again done for and through Boyd Avenue.

 

Tuesday
Nov012016

November 2016

As November rolls our way, there are a number of things that will get and keep our attention.  The hunting seasons will continue.  The holiday season will get underway.  This year, much to our chagrin, is an election year.  Along with a number of other political offices, on November 8, we will be going to the polls to elect a new president of our country.  While you may or may not be excited about the choices that are before you, all of us have a duty as citizens to vote, so allow me to encourage you to do that.

As each of us considers, from our own perspective, the person for whom we will vote, I am reminded of a challenge that the outgoing leader of Israel made to his people after he had led them on a successful conquest of the land that God had promised to Israel generations before.  In Joshua 24: 14-15 Joshua tells Israel “Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth.  Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh.  But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship:  the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.  As for me and my family we will worship Yahweh”

In essence, Joshua lays out four options from which to choose who or what will be worshiped. 

  1. You can worship Yahweh, the living God of Israel. 
  2. You can worship the ancient gods of Mesopotamia, worshiped by the ancestors of Abram, before he became a Yahweh worshiper and became Abraham.   
  3. You can worship the gods that were worshiped in Egypt that were left behind some 40+ years ago. 
  4. You can worship the gods of the Amorites or other Canaanite peoples whom they had just defeated. 

These were the choices that Joshua laid before his nation, demanding that they must choose who they would worship and serve.   Joshua went so far as to tell the folks what his choice would be:  “As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.”

Now, please understand, that there is no comparison or contrast between the choices put forth by Joshua, and the choices that stand before us in this presidential election.  While we should make a choice in our upcoming election, if we opt not to vote, that may have minimal consequence.  But, as in Joshua’s time, we must choose whom we will worship and serve.  We have a series of gods in our world who are running against our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Everyone has to make a choice.  Who will we choose to worship and serve?  There are idols that have sought allegiance from every imaginable source.  Each of them is competing for your vote.  This is an election that cannot be ignored.  Fortunately, for us, there is an option in this choice that is vastly superior to all the others.  Jesus Christ is the living Son of God.  All of the other candidates are gods of the imagination of mankind.  This was true for Joshua and it is true for you and me.  So, choose today whom you will serve, one of the many gods that our world and culture embraces, or the true and living God, who reaches out to us through His resurrected Son. 

I think you will agree that every presidential election is important.  So again, let me encourage you to exercise your right to vote later this month.  But, more vital than that, let me encourage you to fully embrace the Christian faith, through an active daily relationship with our Lord and Savior.  Our president, whoever he or she may be, may make a difference in our lives.  But, there is no doubt that who we choose to worship and serve will have a much greater impact on our lives, here and hereafter.