June 2017

IT’S JUNE!  Half of 2017 is behind us.  Can you believe it?  During this month the school year will officially end, children will go to camp, our youth will attend their camp, families will be traveling for vacation, and others be hosting or attending family reunions.  Life does not stand still! God, however, commands us to STOP!  On the seventh day God Himself rested from all that He had created.  God gave us ten commandments, one of which tells us to set aside a day to rest and worship Him.  The psalmist said in Psalm 46:10, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” In all of our summer activities it is important for Christians to do two things—1) Take time to rest; and 2) Remain faithful in tithing to the Lord through the ministry of the church.   Take/Make the time to stop long enough to take in the majesty of God’s creation.  Demonstrate your thankfulness to God, in part, by investing in the ongoing ministry of His church.
P6

March 2017

Throughout the four books in the Bible focusing on the life of Jesus, people were noted as saying that they were amazed by His teaching and His authority.  How long has it been since you have been amazed by Jesus.  Two songs come to my mind as I am writing this—one is an old hymn, and the other is a contemporary song.  The hymn’s title is “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” (…of Jesus the Nazarene).  The contemporary song simply says, “Lord I’m Amazed By You” (…how You love me).

We have carved out the dates of April 22-25th for a series of meetings called “Encounter Christ Revival.”  It is my sincere hope that God will use this series to help us to have a special encounter with our Lord Jesus.

In preparation for this series I have invited a team of ministers to come and help us.  The preacher for this event is Jonathan Hewett.  Jonathan is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Carrizo Springs, TX.  God has used him to help others encounter Christ in many other countries as well as throughout the U.S.  The singers for our event are Sherman and Tammy Aten.  They have been with us on several occasions as they travel extensively with their message of Christ through music.

As this team comes to join us for this series there is something we can do to help them to be refreshed and energized.  I would like for us to begin praying RIGHT NOW for them and for this event.   As we are praying, I know they would be so blessed to hear from us that we are praying for them.  So—I want to challenge you to go to their respective websites and reach out to them.  Their sites have been given below, and each site has a menu bar with an option to connect with them.  Please send them a message to let them know that you are praying for them and for Scotsdale.  As we prepare for this event, please pray that God would have His way with us!  Here is how you can find out more about this team, their ministries, and how to connect with them:

  • Jonathan Hewett at www.makeitplain.org
  • Sherman and Tammy Aten at www.a10s.org

God bless you for your prayers and participation.  I can hardly wait to see what God is going to do if we will let Him!

Thankful to serve as your pastor,

P6

P.S.  Right now Sherman Aten and a team of men are scheduled to go on a mission trip to a place that is potentially volatile.  God knows where they will be, but let’s pray for their safety and that God would use them to bear much fruit for His kingdom.

 

February 2017

Ask almost anyone what February 14th is and they will tell you that it is Valentine’s Day.  Commercials share no shortage of ideas for you to commemorate your love for others.  Valentine’s Day is seen as a way to tangibly demonstrate your love for special people in your life.  My guess is that this is only one of many days that you express your love for the dearest people in your life in such a demonstrative way.  If not, then you and I need to have a serious talk!

I am blessed by the number of ways that I see Scotsdale members demonstrating their love for our Lord and for others!  Recently I have seen church members helping other church members through struggles of various kinds.  At the beginning of this month I witnessed a large group leave the parking lot of the church to serve a meal and some groceries to low-income residents in the Sparks Community.  What was so beautiful about what I witnessed that evening was the various ages represented.  Parents brought their children.  Some of our members brought friends.  Some of our members were brand new while others have been members here for a number of years.

When we got out to the church where the meal and food distribution takes place I saw my brothers and sisters quickly jump into action unloading, setting up, serving, and cleaning.  When it came to the distribution of groceries we formed an assembly line.  Next to me were two children who said, “We want to help.”  They could have remained outside to play, but they wanted in on the action of serving—so they did!  So on one side I had a collegiate student, and on my other side I had these two grade school aged kids.  Down the line were others who were teenagers, retired, working, young, middle-aged, and elderly all working together for a common cause.

On that night I heard the testimony of one of our recently returned soldiers.  After that Pastor Luis very clearly shared God’s message of love and salvation.  After that I saw a couple of our ladies praying for someone who had requested prayer.  What I saw that night was not only a picture of teamwork, it was also a picture of love in action.  It was a picture of love through service.

Jesus said, “When you serve the down-and-out, you are serving Me!”  Beloved this is true whether you are serving in a large group like we had at Sparks, or within a small group of friends, or all by yourself.  When we serve others, or one another, we are serving our Lord.  Jesus also said that He Himself did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His own life as a ransom for many.

Thank you church members for allowing me to serve our Lord with you.  It is so cool to see your love in action!

P6

January 2017

January 2017

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”  We have all said it many times.  Have you ever really given much thought when you say these words?  It can almost become a cliché spoken without much thought.  We say it because that’s what you are supposed to say this time of year!  While it is my wish for people (myself included) to be happy, I am reminded that Jesus’ words to us are, “Be holy” in Matthew 5:48.  Apart from Jesus Christ I am totally incapable of being holy!  I need Him.

As a church body we are family.  I pray that our approach to this year will be to seek to be holy, not happy.  Incidentally, I believe that striving for holiness will actually result in true happiness.  Disobedience will lead us to unhappiness.  How could any true church be happy if it is walking in disobedience to its Head, Jesus Christ?  May God bless Scotsdale Baptist Church this year in accordance to our commitment to bless Him!

P6

December 2016

November – December

It is mid-November and the “holiday season” is upon us.   The word “holiday” is the combination of two words – holy day.  I love this time of year!  For some the holidays are a time away from their regular jobs.  For some it is a time to travel to be with family or friends.  Some people look forward to sleeping late, staying in their pajamas most of the morning, and watching parades, movies, or sports.  Others will play games or just sit and visit.  For these celebrants, I celebrate with you.

For others, the holidays serve only to accentuate heartache that may have been lying somewhat dormant – until now.  Remembrance of holidays past with a loved one who has passed away reopens wounds.  The same can be said of a lost marriage, or broken relationships.  This time of year can be marked by loneliness, depression, and stress.  For these, my heart goes out to you.

In this great nation, which we have the blessing to live, the history of what we call Thanksgiving has its roots as far back as 1621 when some Plymouth colonists shared a meal with the Wampanoag Indians.  President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the midst of the Civil War.

Christmas has been a holiday that has evolved for the past two thousand years as Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in Israel.  God did not mandate this as a holiday in Scripture.  However, I am certainly glad for our remembrance and celebration of this pivotal event.   Incidentally, this holiday has not always occurred on December 25th.  Be-that-as-it-may, December 25th was the date set aside as a national holiday in the United States in 1870.

In the Bible, especially the Old Testament, there are some holidays (holy days) that God DID assign as days to be remembered and celebrated as an everlasting remembrance.  Sadly, that did not always happen.  I read recently in 2 Kings 23 that Josiah, one of Judah’s kings, reinstated the Passover, which had ceased to be celebrated.  Verses 21-22 says this, “Then the king commanded all the people saying, ‘Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God as it is written in this book of the covenant.’  Surely such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah.”

God had given His chosen people a command to remember and celebrate the time when He delivered their forefathers from Egyptian slavery.  He gave them the inheritance that He had promised to Abraham, the founding father of their nation.  Once they finally got into this Promised Land they ceased to celebrate this high and holy day.  For hundreds of years this assigned holy day went unremembered and uncelebrated.

Beloved of God, we live in a country that allows us to celebrate.  At Thanksgiving we remember our humble beginnings as a nation.  We are thankful for God’s abundant provision.  At Christmas we remember that God, in His love for us, reached down from heaven to present His GREATEST GIFT – His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  This gift exceeds the abundance of a nation.  Jesus gives us a gift that is eternal.

While I am writing this article I am listening to Christmas music.  The songs on this music channel are all about the Christ of Christmas, and I love it.  I am thankful for this country that we live in, and the freedoms that we enjoy.  I am thankful that one of those freedoms is to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I pray that we will never cease to remember and to celebrate.  May we never forget to be thankful for this nation and for our Lord Jesus, Immanuel, God with us!

P6

October 2016

P6 Central1

This past Monday I read Psalm 134 during my Quiet Time.  Verses 1-2 say, “Oh, praise the Lord, all you servants of the LORD, you who serve at night in the house of the LORD.  2“  Lift your hands toward the sanctuary, and praise the LORD.”  I couldn’t help but think of those who would be serving during our annual Fall Festival.  My thought was, some of our church members will sure enough be serving from morning until well into the night, perhaps not in the house of the Lord, but on the campus of the Lord!

That psalm became my prayer for that day, and especially for those who would be serving.  My prayer was that our service for God’s glory would be our way of lifting our hands to praise our Lord.  God answered that prayer in such an inspiring way.  Beloved, YOU inspired me!  From the time we started setting up to the time we cleaned up afterward I saw people working, serving, and smiling.

What blessed me as much as anything was the spirit that everyone had all day long!  Scotsdale people were working in cooperation, and serving with a smile on their face and light in their eyes.

Although this event took a small army of people, I would remiss if I did not thank Grace Taylor for her coordination and planning.  Kudos to her for all of her hard work.  And kudos to all who came alongside her.  The theme of Psalm 133 is “harmony.”  That is what the members of Scotsdale Baptist Church displayed on Monday.  Musically, harmony consists of different notes being sung simultaneously, but those different notes make a beautiful sound.  That is what happened on Monday.  Different people did different things at different times, but all of it came together to pull off a very successful event.  An added bonus to this was the fact that we had so many new members and Scotsdale attenders who were working with members who have been here for years.

The fruit of this labor of love remains to be seen.  We had 67 requests for Bibles, so last Wednesday we had a team of people gather to go deliver those Bibles.  It is my prayer that we will see some of these Bible recipients read their new Bibles and receive God’s gift of eternal life.  Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

 As we begin this holiday season there will be numerous opportunities to give and to serve.  May we all do whatever it is that God entrusts to us with the attitude of Christ which is described in Philippians 2:5-8.

P6

September 2016

P6 Central1

MONEY… Now that is a sensitive subject!  There are some who believe that preachers talking about money is similar to their beliefs about preachers talking about politics.  We don’t like preachers talking about things that are too close and personal unless, of course, it is close and personal to someone else!

While a college student I learned a Bible verse that spoke about how a God-fearing person should regard money and its relationship to our relationship with Him.  This verse is Proverbs 3:9-10 which says,  “Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

This verse will be the foundation of our new series, “God’s Word and the Mystery of Money.”

I’ll be the first one to admit that I am no expert when it comes to money.  Not long after Dwaina and I got engaged she asked if she could look at my check book.  She saw that I wrote checks to basically three places – the church, a Christian book store, and Taco Villa (a fast-food establishment which El Paso does not much to my chagrin).  She also noticed that my check stubs were not up-to-date which prompted a question about reconciling my check book with my bank statement.  My first question was, “What is a bank statement?”  I’m glad that little conversation didn’t end the relationship to.  What it did do, however, was to cause me to lean on her financial knowledge to an unhealthy degree!

Through the years we have both learned a lot about money, and how our use of it says something about our relationship with God.  The fact is that money is neither moral or immoral, it is amoral!  The same dollar bill can be used for evil purposes or for righteous purposes.  The use depends on the person, not the currency.

I recently read in Randy Alcorn’s book, “Money, Possessions, and Eternity,” that there are over 2,300 verse about money in the Bible.  He states that there are more verses about money than there are about prayer and faith combined!  If that is the case, then how you and I handle money must be very important to God.  He must care very much about how we manage what He has entrusted to our care.

Over the next few weeks we are going to study several of these verses and discover what God has to tell us about a Christian’s work ethic, personal budgeting and saving for the future, debt, and generosity.  We will also learn what the Bible has to teach the church’s management of its resources as well.

My hope for this series is to see us trust God in our finances as well as in every other area of our lives.  So I hope you will do all you can to either attend the services or purchase a DVD when you can’t be here with us.

P6

August 2016

P6 Central1

August 2016

About the time that I was transitioning from Youth Ministry into the Pastorate a study was making some huge waves across the Southern Baptist Convention.  The name of the study was “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.”  Dwaina and I completed the study on our own and it revolutionized our relationship with God!

The contents of this study has some important information that any Christian should know about and implement into their lives.   Therefore I am going to take the month of August to share seven realities about experiencing God.  If you will take these principles to heart and apply them to your life, you will truly experience God in a new, challenging, and refreshing way.

The beauty of the truths from this topic is not only for every individual follower of Christ, it is for every church claiming to be the body of Christ!  Through this month you will hear accounts from the Bible about people who came to know God in a powerful way as He revealed His will to them.  You will hear stories about contemporary churches who grew in their faith as a body of believers as they aligned themselves with God’s will and call on the life of the church.  You will learn how to examine your own life as to where you are in your personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.  You will learn how to see where God has used past events in your life to take you to where you are today.

When we as Christ’s followers and as a church quit trying to lead God and begin to let God lead us we will see Him do things that only He can do, that only He could get the credit and the praise for!

I hope and pray that you will commit yourself and your family to attend every Sunday of this series.  I am getting excited in just writing about it.  It is going to be a GREAT refresher for me, and I believe it will be a challenging and motivating teaching tool in your life as well.

I have to warn you of this one thing—God is not a status quo God!  You cannot take this information to heart and not be changed.  So as we begin this series, buckle up and get ready to see how seven realities can lead you, and Scotsdale Baptist Church, to Experience God!

I love you brothers and sisters.  God bless you!

P6

 

 

July 2016

P6 Central1

July 2016

Why did Paul take the time to write his letter to the church at Ephesus?  The reasons are clearly stated in verses 21-22 in chapter 6 – “Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am doing and what I am doing.  I am sending him to you for this purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.” (Phrases underlined for emphasis)

Paul closed his letter with this blessing, “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

These verses describe the kind of affection that Paul had for this church, and most assuredly the affection this church had for him and his partners in ministry.  Amid his own imprisonment and common persecution of Christians in that day, Paul’s wish for them was to know the peace, love, and grace of God.  Notice again the following phrases in the last verse:

  • Peace to the brothers

  • Love with faith from God

  • Grace to all who love our Lord

Beloved Scotsdale Baptist Church, it is my prayer that we would have so fond an affection for one another.  It is my prayer that we would be an extension of God’s peace, love, and grace.  There is no greater witness that the church can have than to extend the peace, love, and grace of God to one another and to the world.  When we stand together to live out these traits that should characterize ANY Christian church, the world will have to take notice!

There is a popular Christian song playing on the radio now that states, “God is on the Move,” and indeed He is.  Right now we read of struggles locally, nationally, and world-wide.  In all of the publicized chaos our Lord continues to save souls, raise up strong servants of Christ, and perform miracles.

While news agencies are giving every reason to fear we must remember that our God is bigger than any opposition we may face.  This is not to say that we should put a bag over our head and just pretend that everything is okay.  That is not the point that I am trying to make.  I simply want to challenge us to look beyond the troubles of today to cling to the victory promised to us by our Almighty God!

God is on the move at Scotsdale Baptist Church!

  • On Sunday, June 26th our sister church, Oasis Baptist, joined our worship service and allowed us to celebrate three baptisms with them as they used our baptistery.

  • At Ray Rutledge’s funeral an invitation was given at his request.  A woman came forward to give her heart to Christ!  Others told me that they wanted an invitation for others to follow Christ offered at their funeral as well.

  • At youth camp a couple of youth gave their hearts to Christ. Halle Taylor stated at camp that God had convicted her about her need to be baptized as a follower of Christ. She followed through on her commitment on July 3rd.  Matt Pinion went to Fuge Camp and is now playing drums during our worship services.

  • Lighthouse Bible Clubs are providing a way for us to take the gospel to kids in several neighborhoods and a park.  Host homes will serve from that point on as a gospel lighthouse to their neighbors.

  • Younger volunteers are stepping up to volunteer their services in various areas

  • God is giving our ministers and volunteers a vision to go beyond the walls of the church to take the gospel of Christ to our community:

    • Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) will be starting in the future to reach out to young adult mothers who are looking for support from Mentor Moms. This is a community outreach

    • Our Mission Team will soon go beyond the borders of the United States to take the gospel of Christ to the Dominican Republic

    • The Way of the Master class is claiming Album Park as a local mission field for the gospel

    • Financial Peace University classes are attracting as many from outside the church as our own church members

    • Our Upward Sports Ministry always brings a large number of unchurched community members to our Christian Life Center each Saturday where they receive love from Scotsdale volunteers, and they hear the gospel of Christ during halftime devotionals.

    • Our AWANA Ministry will continue to help children to hide God’s Word in their hearts. An added benefit is to see the different generations of church members work together during this two-hour time span on Sunday afternoons.

Well, the list could go on!  My point in listing these things is not to highlight how busy we are, but to show you that God is using this church for His glory.  I hope that you, in reading this, will be filled with the peace, love, and grace from Almighty God to see that we are alive and well.

I will conclude with this request—the same request that Paul made to the church at Ephesus in chapter 6, verses 19-20, “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

I am so grateful to be your pastor!

In His Service,

Pastor P6

 

 

June 2016

P6 Central1

June 2016

As the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus it is very clear that he was writing about a variety of relationships.  Yes, he was writing to the church, but who makes up the membership of churches?—People!  As a church we are involved in a relationship with one another.  The book of Ephesians speaks about how our relationship with one another should work within the church and within our families.  Just look at the references to families within this letter… 

  • 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…”
  • 5:22-33 – The relationship between a Christian husband and wife
  • 6:1-3 – A child’s relationship with their father
  • 6:4 – A father’s relationship with his children

I believe that, just as every parent would want harmony and unity in the home, our Heavenly Father wants harmony and unity in His church.  The book of Ephesians instructs us in how to live in harmony and unity with one another.  For this reason this study has taken me much longer to preach through than I originally thought it would, but the instructions are so important, especially in a day when we see our enemy, the devil, trying so hard to steal, kill, and destroy everything that God has created and called good!  By-the-way, Paul’s letter tells us how to combat our enemy as well in Chapter 6, verses 10-18. 

As I pray for Scotsdale Baptist Church, my church family, through this study, I will continue to pray that our gracious God would grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man so that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith.  To the degree that we are rooted and grounded in love, may we be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of His love.  May we know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge so that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  May the Lord do abundantly more than we could ask or think according to His power that works within us.  May our Lord receive the glory in Scotsdale Baptist Church in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.  Amen!

In His Service,

Pastor P6