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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
Nov242015

December 2015

Well, it’s hard to believe, but another December is upon us.  Another year is nearing its completion.  For some, 2015 was a difficult year.  A time where things didn’t always go as planned.  Health issues, family problems, job adjustments, and more can make for hard times.  Others had a great 2015.  Things went as expected or perhaps a little better.  For most of us, the year has fallen somewhere in between.  There was good and bad.  There were successes and failures.  Joys and disappointments come and go.  This is called life.  It generally has its ups and downs.  Overall, they tend to balance out pretty well.

 If your 2015 has been difficult, odds are that next year will be better.  On the other hand, if you had a great 2015, next year may not be quite so good.  The great variable here is how certain individuals handle hardship and/or success.  Some folks get overwhelmed easily.  Others have a knack for making lemonade out of the lemons of life.

Whichever, category you fall into you can rest assured that next year will likely be different than this year.  Just as this year was different from last year.  I know that you already know this.  But the point that I am trying to get to is that life changes.  Pure and simple, life changes.  The question is how am I going to approach this inevitable reality?  Will I sit back and try to roll with the flow of life and let the changes happen around me?  Or, will I be more aggressive in my approach to life and try to shape some of the changes that are sure to come?

The changes that come to us are in God’s design.  He calls them growth.  Growth is expected in our lives and we have to understand that this is true in our spiritual lives as well as our physical lives.  It is a valuable exercise to evaluate ourselves in a comparative way.  Have you grown spiritually in the last year?  Are you better able to deal with situations now that you did a year ago?  Do you have a better understanding of the Bible now than you had last year?   Are you involved in a different ministry?  Or, has you involvement in a ministry deepened?  All of these are markers that we can and should be using to measure our growth this year.

Obviously, growth is a good thing.  Growth comes to us as life unfolds.  Ironically, growth tends to be greater when we are in the crucible.  When life heats up or crushes in on us, tremendous growth opportunities arise.  It is very consistent that we grow more from adversity than from any other force that we encounter.

Shortly after the first of the year, I am going to lead an adult study on Wednesday evenings called S.H.A.P.E.  This is not an aerobics class.   It is a study through a series   of self-evaluations that will help people find their  ministry shape. 

God has created every believer to be involved in ministry.  Each of us are shaped differently because God uses each of us differently for His Kingdom purposes.  How has God shaped you for ministry?  Come be a part of this class, and we will not only try to help you discover your ministry shape, but we will also try to find an effective way to use that shape for the work for which you have been designed.

This study should help all of us grow.  It can be one of those tools that God uses to grow us spiritually.  Then when December 2016 rolls around, we will be able to see our understanding and use of our ministry shape as a point of growth.

I wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A     HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

 

Tuesday
Oct272015

November 2015

November is always one of my favorite months of the year. No, I am not looking forward to the full onset of winter that usually comes with this month, but it does bring us into the holiday season.  As it now stands, Beth and I are planning to spend some vacation time in the latter part of this month in Texas, visiting with my parents, our kids and grandchildren.  Actually, the only reason we go back to Texas on such a regular basis is to see and be with   family.

On the first of the two Sundays we plan to be gone, we will be a part of a baptismal service at Valley Creek Church in Flower Mound, TX.  This is the church that all three of our children and their families attend.  Recently, we have been given the exciting news that two of our six grandchildren have accepted Christ.  Our son’s son, Gage, and our older daughter’s first born son, Jaxen, both made the decision to receive Christ.  These decisions were independent of each other, but as it turns out, they will both be baptized in the same service, while we are there.  Furthermore, to my great delight, my son asked me if I would baptize Gage.  He has checked with the leadership of Valley Creek and it appears that this is going to happen.  Needless to say, I am thrilled and honored.

As I was reflecting on this, I began to mull over baptism, why we do this, and what it means.  First, of all we have to remember that Jesus chose to be baptized as He began His ministry.  If there was ever a person who did not need to be baptized, it was Him.  He had no need for repentance.  He had no sin to confess.  He was in complete harmony with the Father.  But, still He came to John the Baptist and insisted on being baptized.  This fact alone is reason enough to baptize people when they come to faith in Christ.  But, beyond that, Jesus also instructed the Church to baptize new believers.  We are to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  We are to baptize them, upon their profession of faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior.  As a new believer we desire to be baptized, because our Lord was Himself baptized.  As a Church we want to baptize new believers, because it is a celebration of what Christ has done and it marks the growth of our Christian Family because someone has been “born again.”

But, what does baptism mean?  What is the symbolism in this rather unusual rite?  First, of all we must understand that baptism is a symbol.  There is no saving power in the water of baptism.  The miracle of salvation has already taken place.  We baptize so that the one being baptized can make a public statement of what Christ has done for them.  The symbolism of baptism is powerful.  It shows our sharing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  The water cleansing shows the washing away of our sin by the cleansing power of the blood of Christ.  The departure from the baptism shows the new life in which we walk, following our encounter with Jesus.  Yes, baptism is symbolic, but it is no small symbol.  It is a symbol of the power of God’s grace and how it can affect our lives every day. 

WOW!!  What a symbol!

Perhaps, we would do well to review our own baptisms.  It is a great honor to be asked by God to imitate Jesus.  As Christians, we are called upon to be as much like Jesus as we possibly can.  While you and I will always fall short in many areas, we can imitate this thing that He did as He began His earthly ministry.  We can follow Him in believer’s baptism.  If you have not been baptized by immersion as a believer, there is no time like the present to accomplish this.  If you have, then take a moment and relive that time of testimony and celebration when you went through the waters of baptism.  No doubt, it was a great day in your life.  And we should enjoy and celebrate its memory often. 

If our current plans for this November unfold as we hope they will, we will celebrate this very special day in the lives of two of our grandsons.  There is no doubt there will be much giving of thanks during Thanksgiving 2015 in our  family.

May each of you have much for which to give thanks this Thanksgiving.

 

Tuesday
Sep292015

October 2015

As our building program continues to move forward, I thought it would be helpful if I took this opportunity to bring you up to date on where we are in the process.

I know that all you have seen happen over the last few months is the moving of the office and the growth of our “brick wall” as we near the first financial goal in our fund raising.  But let me assure you that there have been many other things happening behind the scenes.  We have had to have an asbestos study done in preparation for the demolition of the old office building.  By the time you read this, this will have been completed and demolition of the building should be scheduled.  One day, you will come by and the building will simply be gone.  Along with the building removal, the trees will be taken down and the black-top will be scraped away.  Basically, the lot will be scraped bare, in preparation for the construction of the building which is targeted to begin in March.  This has to be done, because soil samples must be taken to determine the proper engineering for the foundation of the new building.  While all this is being done, construction plans will be completed, bids for various aspects of construction will be taken, and preparation for the beginning of construction will be underway.  While you may not be seeing very much happening, that is going to change in the very near future.  Things are moving forward.

The fund-raising aspect of the program is continuing to move forward as well.  If you have been watching the “brick wall” visual, you will have noticed that we are very close to reaching the $300,000 goal that is required to trigger the next phase of our fund-raising needs.  Please understand, that in any major building program, the fund-raising never really stops until the project is complete and paid off.  I doubt the $300,000 goal will be in hand by the time you read this, but it will be very close. 

Somewhere near the first of the year, we will begin to sell church bonds to raise the construction capital for the project.  The details of this will be put forward in the coming weeks as we prepare for this bond sale.  In a capsule, we will sell bonds in various sizes for various durations.  The interest that we will pay will be markedly higher than can be had in CDs or traditional savings accounts.  But, to the church’s advantage the interest we pay will be notably less than we would pay in any conventional style construction loan.  In effect we will be borrowing the money from ourselves rather than from an outside entity.  It seems to be a win/win.   Furthermore, once that has been reached, we will put up another visual that will challenge us to give $100,000 in 2016.  The purpose of this income is to enable us to pay back the bonds that will come due.  These styles of fund-raising emphasis will happen periodically until all debt is eliminated.  Hopefully, we will see a day in the very near future when the building will be in full use and the debts will all be repaid.

All of this has been the progress and the administrative side of what we have been doing.  But now, I want to take a minute and remember why we are doing all this.  We are not doing all this just to build a building.  I promise you, I have plenty of things to keep me busy without this.  We are building this particular building, because it is going to vastly improve and increase our ability and opportunity to touch our community.  It will give us a fellowship area and increased kitchen space to open many opportunities for gatherings where everyone in our church can gather and comfortably fellowship and dine with each other.  It is going to exponentially expand our recreation ministry.  We will have the opportunity to join with already successful ministries in our community, as well as open an array of new opportunities to touch children, youth, and adults with an on-campus ministry, that, to date, we simply cannot do.  A quick glance at our congregation on any Sunday morning, will reveal a large and growing number of young children and their families.  If we want this trend to continue, we must widen our opportunities to minister to them as quickly as we possibly can.  Now please do not misunderstand me, this building is not just for kids and their families.  There is not an age group that will not benefit from the completion and utilization of this building.  It will serve many purposes and will have many functions.  But, the bottom line is that there is no doubt in my mind that when this project is complete, Boyd Avenue Baptist Church will have the opportunity to touch many more lives for Christ.  We will see His Kingdom grow.  We will see our community improved!  This is why we are doing all of these things.  Please continue to pray for and give to this project.

If you have any questions, please let me know.  I will do my best to give a full and complete answer.

 

Tuesday
Sep012015

September 2015

It does not seem possible, but it is September already.  Every year I look forward to this month probably more than any other.  September means that we have completed a very busy summer.  This summer was no exception.  What a busy, but great summer we have had.  But, now that is behind us.  Yes, there is some follow up required on a few items, but the heavy schedule is now in my rear view mirror. 

Also, we will be putting into action the fall schedule, which will include starting up another semester of SWAT, Wednesday evening meals, new Bible studies, and more.  These are always exciting times to see how they play out. 

But, the thing that really sets September apart from other months is the fact that it marks the opening of the hunting seasons.  This is a pursuit that I enjoy to no end.  Archery hunting is one of my most enjoyable pastimes.  It may seem odd, but I do not hunt with bow and arrow for the purpose of harvesting an animal.  The odds of my taking an elk with my bow (at my skill level) are not very high (although it has happened).  But I archery hunt, simply for the pleasure of being in the high country.  Whether I am alone or with good friends, I have a great time walking through beautiful places, looking for one of the most beautiful creatures that God created.  I have been asked by non-hunters how I could harvest such a beautiful animal.  Well, God not only made elk beautiful, He also make them tasty, and so who am I to argue?

Now, if I were to calculate success in this hunting experience solely on whether I harvested an elk, then I would be anticipating failure.  But, this is not the case.  I anticipate great success!  For when I go archery hunting for elk, I will be in a beautiful place, with good friends, out of cell phone service, unwinding my spirit.  I will get a lot of great exercise.  I will likely see some fascinating wildlife.  I will worship and pray.  And who knows, if the Lord smiles on me greatly I may even fill my tag and my freezer.

The point that I am trying to make here really is not about elk hunting.  You see, there is a parallel here to our life with Christ.  We are such goal and result oriented people, that we often lose sight of the fact that it is our journey with Christ that is truly the great blessing of the Christian life.  Now, there are many blessings that God provides for us along the way.  He never leaves us or forsakes us.  But, it is more than the stuff that He does for us that is our blessing.  It is more that the people He puts in our paths that are our blessings. It is indeed the journey with Him itself that is our blessing.  If we can ever get past the idea that what God does for us is the blessing He brings, and get to the point that we enjoy and celebrate the journey itself as the blessing, then we will know the abundant life that He wants for us.  And He will hold our hearts close to Himself and we will know success in our Christian lives that we never imagined that we could have.

Yes, it is the hunt that I enjoy more that the harvest, (at least in archery season).  So it must be that our journey with Christ itself is our source of joy more than the stuff that comes from our relationship with Him.  Now do not get me wrong.  If God blesses me with a dumb elk, and if He guides my arrow, so that I can fill out my tag, I will be most happy and thankful.  But, if not, I will enjoy my time on the mountain, just I as I enjoy my walk with Christ every day!  If you are a hunter, “Good Hunting”.  If you are not, then enjoy your journey with Christ.

 

Tuesday
Aug042015

August 2015

Through the ages, Christians have consistently expressed their joy to God through chorus, hymns, spiritual songs and poems.  While the lyrics of these expressions cover a wide variety of topics, many of them extol the goodness of God and the joy of serving Him. 

As I write this article, I have just finished the “July Trifecta”.  That is, on consecutive weeks we have been to Canada on our annual mission trip.  We have been to Children’s Camp.  And we have been to Summit Youth Camp.  Three weeks of long trips, many hours of work, much lost sleep, and ministering to many people in a short period of time.

At the end of this strong push, what is running through my mind, is not the desire to get rested up again, not the desire to get caught up around the office and church, not the need for a few days off.  While all of these things are running through my mind, the thing that I find myself considering more than anything else, is just how good God is!  What a wonderful three weeks we have just concluded!

First there was Canada.  The fourteen hour drive was highlighted by 10 minutes at the Canadian border.  We haven’t gotten through there that quickly in about 4 years.  But, far beyond that, the ministry with Southwinds Church just gets better and better.  Then last week we get a report from their pastor, Bo Neal, that a family that has been coming to their sports camps for years is finally open to seek the truth about Jesus!  Years of time, effort, and prayer is finally paying off and I expect that we will soon get a report that they have come to Christ and entered the Kingdom.

Then there was Children’s Camp.  There were around 110 or so pre-teens there at Mountain Top that week.  For about the sixth or seventh year, I was camp pastor.  I have never had a group of youngsters that were so attentive to the messages!  As soon as the team finished with the worship music, these kids sat down and gave me their full attention.  Understand, I only had that attention for about 15 minutes, but this group was really tuned in.  By the end of the week, we had 17 recorded professions of faith.  That is 17 more little sisters and brothers in Christ.  Only God knows how these youngsters will affect their families, classmates, and friends, so the impact of that week will be far reaching.

Last but not least there was Summit Youth Camp, again at Mountain Top.  This is a camp for middle and high school students.  This year, Boyd took 43 campers and eight sponsors, which does not include me.  Camp wide we had over 130 students and 31 sponsors plus Summit staff and camp staff (cooks, yeah cooks!!)  This is a high energy camp, where activities start early and end late.  By the end of the week, everyone, young and old alike were exhausted.  But, also by the end of the week we had 13 recorded professions of faith, and 17 other decisions, mostly commitments to walk more closely with Christ.  You may notice that I am reporting to you the “recorded decisions”.  These are decisions that campers make, sit down and talk to a sponsor about, then fill out a decision card that we provide for them.  We have no way of knowing how many decisions are made privately, between an individual and God that do not get recorded.  These decisions are just as valid as a “recorded decision”, we just don’t know about them.  But God does, and that is what really matters.

I share this report with you, not to brag about what we have done this July.  But rather I share it with you to brag on what God has done this past month.  He has been good.  Every time I take a moment and ponder what we have seen God do during these three weeks, my mind and heart break out in song.  Songs of praise about what a good God we serve.  He created us.  He sent His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sin. He drew us to His salvation.  He blesses us with the joy of service.  Yes, indeed, that is another reason why we praise Him!  So along with the saints through the ages, we sing praise to Him with our lips, with our minds, and with our hearts because He is good.  No, now that I think about it, He is better than good!!