April 5, 2020 (Palm Sunday)

I want to share a perspective that a friend of mine expressed about the COVID-19 pandemic:

It is fascinating the wide disparity in how different people are experiencing this time of ‘stay at home.’ Some people are bored and going stir crazy, for others the workload has skyrocketed. We have healthcare workers who are longing to be home, while others complain about getting on each other’s nerves. Many store workers are idled, some are totally stressed out by their increased workload, including extra cautions. Educators just had their world turned upside [down] and are having to revamp their entire teaching on the fly. For me, I have some extra time (no hospital visits, no time spent watching sport) but that tends to get swallowed up by the pressure of steep learning curves of new technology and trying to be creative in terms of being the church.

Jesus has a way of meeting people where they are, including you. In spite of the deck being stacked against Him, our Lord overcame death, Hell, and the grave. If you feel like the deck is stacked against you, remember this–“But thanks be to God who gives US the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”–1 Corinthians 15:57. May God bless you and yours with a powerful celebration of His resurrection!

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March 25, 2020

As you all know by now Mayor Dee Margo has issued a “Shelter in Place” order for the city of El Paso. The purpose of this letter is to let you know about the actions and operations of the church during this time. Please share this letter with another church member who does not have email capability. I would encourage you to call them and read the letter to them. This may include a Sunday School Class member or someone who attends the worship services, but not Sunday School. 

First, for obvious reasons, the church office will not be open for as long as this city-wide order is in place. I want you to know that, in the meantime, the office staff and ministers will continue working from home. We have arranged for our church phone services to be transferred to Kay during regular office hours. The church number will then be transferred to the pastor’s phone during the evenings and weekends. If you call the church office number (915-595- 2811) during the weekday needing to talk to someone else, just let Kay know who you need to talk to and she will forward your information to us. We will return your call. 

We will do everything we can do electronically/digitally because we will not be able to go into the office to print and mail. So again, if you receive an email or text from the church please convey our message to those that you know of who do not have an email address. This would be very helpful to us, and I am sure that your call would mean a lot to them. Speaking of mail, we have arranged for the mail carrier to deposit our church mail in a designated door that has a mail slot.

Second, in preparation for this order we have turned all thermostats off so that money would not be spent unnecessarily on utilities without people being in the buildings. We have also suspended our lawn care service for now.

Third, we will work hard to communicate with our church family well and often. It is important for us, as a church family, to continue to worship together even if we can’t be in the same building. Some of our Sunday School Classes are arranging to meet digitally. I applaud them in their efforts to do this. There are some video conference apps that would allow groups to get together to study, pray, and worship together. I encourage you to take advantage of those meetings. Additionally we are live-streaming our worship services on Sunday mornings at 10:30. You can access these services on our church Facebook page even if you do not have a Facebook account. You can also find the services on YouTube, and we are researching to see how we can broadcast on Right Now Media as well. 

Fourth, I want to remind you that although we are not meeting together on Sundays this does not mean that ministry has stopped, and most of our property expenses have not stopped. In a staff meeting last Monday I announced that at this point we do not have a Children’s Minister, a Youth Minister, a Music Minister, or a Senior Minister, we just have ministers; and this group also includes our Elders and our Deacons. Our Elders will utilize our digital capabilities to continue to meet in order to give instruction, guidance, and biblical oversight to the church. Our Deacons will continue to reach out to their assigned widows, to oversee benevolent needs, and to minister to other families in need. In the future I hope we will begin to see some prayer groups meeting together via some type of video or telephonic medium just to pray. Feel free to coordinate that yourself if you feel so inclined. 

Finally, because the work, ministry, and finances of the church have not stopped, I want to plead with you to be faithful in giving your tithes and offerings to the church. I know that, in uncertain times like this, it is tempting to want to save everything you can just for your own family. And while I would encourage you to be wise in your money management, I would also remind you that your investment in kingdom purposes will yield an amazing return. It is possible to make an online donation to the church through your bank. If you do not know how to do this just call your bank and they will help you set it up. If you wish to continue to mail your check you may do that. You can also give through our church website or you can text your donation. With that I will leave you with two verses:

• Malachi 3:10-11, “Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce,” says the Lord of Armies.

• 1 Timothy 6:18-19, Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, 19 storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

P6

March 22, 2020

In the words of the apostle Paul, “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:2). The purpose of this letter is to give you some information about the Sunday School ministry in light of the COVID-19 situation. The latest information from the CDC as of today is that they recommend the cessation of any gatherings over ten people. It is highly probable that people are innocently, yet actively spreading the virus although they themselves have not become fully ill themselves. Medical leaders project that we are no where near the peak of the spread of the Coronavirus yet, and may not be for months to come. For this reason we need to remain vigilant, flexible, and intact! This is a time to use our resources to pull together even if it is from a distance. I am aware that the technologies that we are utilizing are not available to everyone, but we are doing the best we can with the opportunities that we have. 

The following schedule was approved by the Sunday School leadership that gathered a couple of weeks ago, but in light of the Coronavirus I am just now getting this information to you. I apologize for being delinquent in getting this information to you sooner. Please see the end of this post for the approved schedule for The Gospel Project.

Dwaina and I are working on a method to teach the Sunday School Lesson by way of an app called Zoom. This app allows for an interactive video group of up to 100 people to study the SS lesson together. This app is different from our Facebook platform because this one would be interactive; therefore, the teaching would be live. Those who participate would be able to interact with one another, answer questions, ask questions, etc. You can also watch while chatting at the same time. As we learn we will keep you informed. This is one thing among many that we can do to help us remain together and united during this otherwise trying time. 

In closing let me share some words of encouragement from 1 Thessalonians 5. I am quoting short statements from these verses so I would ask you to go back and read the passage in its entirety:

  • V. 11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
  • V. 13 – “Live in peace with one another.”
  • V. 15 – “…Always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.”

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Unit 4: God Redeems His People (Genesis; Exodus)

  • March 1 Session 1 God Redeems Betrayal
  • March 8 Session 2 God Redeems Adversity
  • March 15 – There was no Sunday school on this day.
  • March 22 Session 3 God Overrides Evil with Good.
  • March 29 Session 4 God Hears His People
  • April 5 Session 5 God Frees His People
  • April 12 Easter Sunday! No Sunday school planned for this day.
  • April 19 Session 6 God Delivers His People

Unit 5: God Provides for His People

  • April 26 Session 1 A Test in the Wilderness
  • May 3 Session 2 A Leader’s Wisdom
  • May 10 Session 3 A Law for God’s People

Unit 6: God Receives Worship from His People (Exodus; Leviticus)

  • May 17 Session 1 An Image of Idolatry
  • May 24 Session 2 A Place for God’s Presence
  • May 31 Session 3 A Picture of Atonement

Coronavirus Plan of Action

Beloved Church,

As all of us know the top headliner in all news outlets is the Coronavirus pandemic. The purpose of this letter is to make you aware of how we are responding in light of what is happening. Obviously, the spread of this virus is dynamic and spreading so the information that I give you now will no doubt have changed by the time you receive it.

As of this writing there have been over 30 verified cases of COVID-19 in Texas, and four verified cases in New Mexico. To date, none of these cases are anywhere close to El Paso. While this is the case currently, we are all aware that this could change rapidly due to the method of transmission. By the way, El Paso is one of the Texas cities that has a testing center for the virus.

We are also aware that those most vulnerable to the virus are the elderly and those who already have a compromised immune system. Those most fatally affected by this illness are the elderly. For this reason I want to emphasize the need for our elderly members to please use caution about being in large crowds. We completely understand and respect your decision to avoid church services during this hopefully short-lived crisis if you should feel this is in the best interest of yourself and others. I would also encourage anyone who is less than healthy to avoid attending church services until you are completely recovered. Parents, please adhere to the sick policies passed by our Children’s Ministry.

Here is what we are doing to provide a safe environment during these times:

  • Cleanliness: Our custodian (Ruth) does a wonderful job of maintaining a clean facility for us; however, we are taking even more precautions during this season to give special attention to disinfect places where people are most likely to place their hands. We will also spray disinfectant spray around our space before, during, and after events or meetings. We have also checked and maintained hand sanitizer units throughout the church facility. Ruth also wears sanitation gloves as she cleans. Our children’s workers are diligent to disinfect the children’s ministry area.
  • Lord’s Supper: On Sunday, March 29th we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper during our morning service. In order to provide the most sanitary method of distributing the bread and cup we have ordered elements that will have a sealed wafer and a sealed cup. Our Deacons will wear sanitary gloves as they prepare the elements trays. In this way the only person who will touch the elements offered to you is you!
  • Potluck Luncheon: We had a church-wide potluck luncheon scheduled to follow the morning service on March 29th. As a precaution we have opted to cancel this meal at this time.
  • Future services/events: Since there are no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in El Paso we plan to continue with services as scheduled. If, however, any cases of the virus are verified in El Paso we will revisit the issue and alert you as soon as possible. In the worst case scenario that we are forced to cancel the Sunday morning service, we will provide an online service, which would most likely be just me teaching from home, broadcast live on our Scotsdale Baptist Church Facebook page.
  • Donations: As you know, if services should be canceled, as we had to do one other time during my nearly-eight-year tenure here, there is a great risk of suffering a negative impact in financial donations. The church will have ongoing expenses whether we cancel services or not, so I would ask that you please pray and continue to give to the Lord’s work. You may either mail your check, make donations online, or make your donation via direct bill-pay through your bank.

It appears that, like the flu, COVID-19 is relatively short-lived, yet potentially economically devastating. At some point the spread of the virus will subside and life will return to normal. This is a great time for us to trust in the Lord in a way we have perhaps not had to do before. Our God is faithful! He has promised that He will not leave or abandon us (Matthew 28:20). When so much seems so uncertain in our world, God has not changed, and neither has His plan to save those who seek Him. May we be faithful in sharing the hope He has given to us with those who need Him.

Blessed to be Your Pastor,

Pastor P6

(Update from March 13, 2020) If you, or someone that you have been in contact with, has returned home from an area where the Coronavirus has been detected PLEASE DO NOT attend church services until you know that you do not have COVID-19.  It is so counter to my nature to ask someone to not attend church, but for the sake of the health of others please do not create any unnecessary risks for them or for yourself.  We ALL must respect the seriousness of this illness, but even more so for the elderly who may be in attendance. Thank you for your understanding. You are always able to watch the service live streamed on Facebook.

(Update from March 14, 2020) Please click here to read a letter from our Elders.

March 2020

Medical checkups are not fun.  They ask personal questions. They weigh you.  They poke and prod. They take your blood. Then they charge you money for what they just did to you!  Then you have to go back to them so they can give you the results. “You need to lose weight. You need to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.  You need to get more exercise, more water, and more rest. Have a great day and we’ll see you in six months!” Then they charge you money for what they just told you!

Medical checkups are not fun, but they are important in helping you to stay or get healthy if you do what you are told.  If Scotsdale Baptist Church were to go to the Spiritual Doctor, and He gave us a checkup, what do you think we would hear from Him?  What do you think He would tell us to do in order to be healthy?

Acts 2:41-47 gives us a good description of what a healthy church should look like.  During the month of March we are going to glean instruction from this passage.  Then, based on what we learn, I pray that we will make whatever adjustments are necessary to be the people God wants us to be.  God loves us and wants only the very best for us, even if the process is difficult.

P6

Feb 2, 2020

The most noted date in February is the 14 th , Valentine’s Day—unless, of course for you, you were born on another day in February. Valentine’s Day is synonymous with LOVE. I have heard that more cards and flowers are given on this day than on any other day in America. If nothing else, this day recognizes that a fundamental need for all people is the need to be loved.

What so many people fail to realize is that their deep need for love cannot be totally fulfilled in a person. This need can only be fulfilled by God. And too many people will falsely assume that God does not or cannot love them. Actually, quite the opposite is true—God cannot NOT love you! The apostle John stated that “God is love.” For you to say that God cannot love you is to say that God cannot be Himself, and that is impossible!

The most wonderful and fulfilling thing you can do is to receive the love that God has for you as expressed in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ! Happy God Loves You Day—this one is celebrated everyday (Lamentations 3:22-23).

P6

January 2020

Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” At the stroke of midnight on January first we entered into a new year and a new decade. WOW, it seems that time really does fly! Do you even remember what you had hoped to do ten years ago? What was then a future hope is now a distant past. But what about now? What are your hopes, goals, and plans for the future at this point in your life? The New Years is the most common time for us to think about these things.

What gives me comfort in an uncomfortably changing culture is that my God already has everything figured out, from my simple little life to major world events. I am thankful that I can trust Him. As the membership of Scotsdale Baptist Church makes our plans, I trust that God will direct our steps.

P6

December 2019

Many of us will decorate our homes for Christmas. No doubt that a part of the decorations for many of us will include a Nativity Set—a small display of figurines memorializing those who were part of the advent of the child Jesus. As a child I was given such a Nativity Set. Mine depicted the setting as a barn. At the top of the barn was a hole where a light was to be placed to illustrate the star that led the magi to Jesus. Surrounding Jesus, as He lay in the manger, were Mary and Joseph, the barn animals, some shepherds, and the magi.

Over the next few weeks we will look to see what the Bible has to say about these Christmas Advent personalities. I am calling this series “Unpacking the Nativity.” I hope you will able to join us each week to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

P6

November 2019

From prison Paul wrote a letter of thanksgiving to the church at Philippi. This is what he wrote in Chapter 4, verses 18-19–“But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your needs according to riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, I must tell you, church, that I am so thankful for you. While I was away taking care of my mother several servant leaders here at the church stepped up to cover my areas of responsibility. The last two weeks have taught me so much about struggles, hard decisions, and genuine loving care. Scotsdale Baptist Church played a part in that, and I am very grateful! May the Lord be with you and bless you this week as you return your thanks to Him for what He has done for you.

P6

October 2019

Have you ever read a verse that really gripped your heart? It may have been one that you are certain you have read before, but this time the words just seemed to jump out at you—as if God were saying, “This word is for you!”

2 Corinthians 5:10 is one of those verses for me. It says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Paul asserted that he would not be a bond-servant of Jesus Christ if his goal was to please men (Galatians 1:10).

Confession: I try too hard to please men! This is not to my credit, this is actually to my
shame! Jesus specifically told us to “seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). May I be a man, and may we be a church, that will seek the kingdom of God, and seek to be a righteous people before we seek anything else.

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