September 2016

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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

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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

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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

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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

May 2016

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May 2016

Romans 13:7-8 says, “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

On the last Sunday of this month we will celebrate Memorial Day, commemorating service men and women who gave their lives in service to this country. Soon we will pray for several servicemen from this congregation being deployed. Our thoughts, prayers, and best wishes will go with them, as well as our pledge to aid their families who remain here while they are away. This is our way of honoring those who deserve honor. Another way of showing honor was described by something that one of our church family members witnessed.

Linda Cobbs shared the following story. I hope it will bless you as much as it blessed me:

“Last Saturday I returned from a family trip to the Washington D.C. area. The Southwest Airline terminal was a hub of activity associated with 8 different gates. The plane that I was to catch arrived so we were instructed to line up in the appropriate number sequence. Instead of passengers rushing off the plane from the previous flight, there was no activity for several minutes, then slowly the first of more than 25 veterans from Vietnam, WW II and one from Korea entered the terminal, each with an escort wearing an Honor Guard Association shirt. The response from all the passengers in the terminal was immediate cheering, whistling and clapping rang through the terminal as everyone stopped what they were doing to appreciate these heroes.  I learned that this organization brings in VFW groups and provides a special memorial experience for them. I wish that each of you could have seen the joy that flowed from the face of each veteran. You could see the effort each one made to stand a little straighter as they fought back tears of remembrance. After boarding the plane for my flight, I reflected on this experience and could not help but think of it in terms of our final trip to Heaven where we will be cheered by fellow believers whom we did not know and in addition be greeted by our Lord.”

May God bless the men, women, and their families who sacrifice so much so that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms that we have.

In His Service,

P6

April 2016

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April 2016

When Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus he was under house arrest in Rome from 60-62 AD.  His first exposure to Ephesus was during his second missionary journey.  It was during his third mission tour that he started the church at Ephesus in 54 AD (see Acts 18-20 for more information).

As you read Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians it is easy to see his love for this church.  Scholars tell us that the first three chapters focus on doctrine (teaching), while the last three focus on application of the doctrine – how to live out what the doctrines teach us.

 Paul’s instructions to Ephesus are every bit as applicable for the Lord’s church today in every place that His church exists.  The overarching theme is this – We all, whether Jew or Gentile, are one body in Jesus Christ!  Our color, culture, country, language, or denomination is secondary to our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord.  Chapters 4-6 give very practical information about what that unity in Christ is to look like. 

  • Chapter 4:1-16 describe how our differing gifts from the Holy Spirit should be used to help the church to be mature and ever growing.

  • Chapter 4:17-32 tells us how we should treat one another as followers of Jesus Christ as opposed to the way we used to live before receiving His gift of salvation

  • Chapter 5:1-14 defines the boundaries we should apply to our lives in order to be morally pure.

  • Chapter 5:15-21 encourages us to make good use of the time that we have in helping one another to be the best that we can be.

  • Chapter 5:22-33 challenges husbands and wives to build a marriage that would be a reflection of Christ’s love for His bride, the church.

  • Chapter 6:1-4 commands children and parents to honor Him within their family

  • Chapter 6:5-9 instructs Christ’s followers in how we should carry out our work as employees and employers

  • Chapter 6:10-17 issues to us God’s spiritual armor

  • Chapter 6:18-20 leads us in how to pray for ourselves, one another, and His servants who are on the front lines of battle, or are in prison for their faithful witness for the cause of Christ

 Oh beloved of God, my hope in peaching through Ephesians is that my life will be challenged and radically transformed.  I pray that for Scotsdale Baptist Church as well.  With Paul, from Chapter 3:20-21, I pray that God would do far more abundantly beyond all that we could ask or even imagine according to His power that works within us.   May our God receive the glory in Scotsdale Baptist church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.  Amen.

March 2016

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March 2016

Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus has so much instruction for the Lord’s church.  Paul’s words from the book of Ephesians is vital to the health of any church.  In the middle of Paul’s life, and that of the church at Ephesus, there is constant spiritual warfare against them.  Likewise, we need to be aware of the warfare against Christianity in our day as well.   And like the church at Ephesus, we must rise above our circumstances to fight the good fight of faith!

The fact is that our nation is no stranger to contests, conflicts, and competitions.  For the last several months we have been watching candidates competing to vie for their party’s presidential nomination.  The culmination of this competition will lead our nation to elect a new president in November of this year.

This month is the beginning of what has come to be called March Madness.  During this month a host of games and tournaments will be held to determine the nation’s best college basketball teams.  The process will lead us from The Big Dance, to the Sweet Sixteen, to the Elite Eight, to the Final Four.  The culmination will be the best two men’s teams and women’s teams playing for the National Championship.

During this month we also recognize someone else who was involved in a contest—well actually, a war!  On March 17th we recognize St. Patrick’s Day.  This Catholic Saint was a Roman born in Britannia in 387 AD.  He was taken captive and enslaved by the Irish at the age of 16.  He eventually escaped his captors, only to return to Ireland years later, not as a slave, but as a missionary!  Throughout his life he faced many hardships that caused him to question his faith, solidify his faith, and to humbly serve his Lord Jesus Christ.  During his tenure he led thousands to faith in Jesus Christ.  He was a man who, like so many other servants of Jesus, knew both tragedy and triumph.

The Apostle Paul, like St. Patrick, could speak from experience about the difficulties of living a life devoted to Jesus Christ.  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul encouraged the church in their constant spiritual warfare.  Within this warfare Christ’s followers were instructed to live in unity with one another, to speak the truth in love to one another, to refrain from any kind of immorality, to use their time wisely.  He encouraged husbands and wives to allow their marriage to be a witness of Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church.   He encouraged dads to train up their children in the ways of the Lord.  He also instructed us in how to win the spiritual battles that rage all around us.

As members of Scotsdale Baptist Church, and more importantly the members of God’s family, I pray that we will ALL heed the words from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  If God is going to use us to win the spiritual warfare all around us, then we must commit to suiting up, and fighting the good fight of faith.  I am thankful to be on the battlefront with you!  May God bless you and strengthen you, my precious church family!

 

February 2016

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February 2016

The month of February is best known for one particular date, February 14, which has been designated as Valentine’s Day.  This day promotes  “LOVE,” with a special emphasis on romance.

The Greek language is so much more complete than the English language.  Here are some main Greek words for “love” (with their English transliterations), and their basic meanings:

  • “eros” – romantic, sensual, sexual love

  • “phileo” – familial, brotherly love; friendship love

  • “agape” – unconditional, self-sacrificing love. This is often described by Christians as the kind of love that God has for all people.

  • “storge” – a love of natural affection or natural obligation

In English the word “love” can take on a myriad of definitions based on the context in which it is used.  My love for chocolate has a completely different definition than my love for my wife.

The Bible tells of a much deeper, eternal love offered to us by God through Jesus Christ our Lord.   In the book of Ephesians, “love” is used twenty times. Paul’s last use of the word “love” is described as an incorruptible love. The question is, which love is it that motivates us?

Throughout Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, every time he uses the word translated “love” in our English translations, the literal Greek word is “agape.”  Even when Paul commands husbands to love their wives he uses this Greek word to describe the type of unconditional love that Jesus Christ has for us.

You and I are called to love one another unconditionally.  This kind of love never gives a wink to sin, but it does help another person up after they have fallen to the temptation of sin.  In all that we do may we be motivated by God’s unconditional, “agape” love.

January 2016

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2015 Highlights

One of the things that is common when ending the year is a look back to see what has been accomplished.  As with any organization there is a series of trials and triumphs.  It is important for us, as a local body of Christ followers, to see where God has taken us from to where we are.  As this article summarizes 2015 I hope you will join me in praising the Lord for what He has done.

  • As a church we transitioned Grace Taylor from our Church Life Ministry Assistant to serving as our Children’s Minister

  • As a church we welcomed Pastor Luis Olmos and David Gunn to our ministry staff—Pastor Luis as our Youth Pastor, and David as our Music Minister.

  • As a church we brought Kay Atherton to join our staff as the new Church Life Ministry Assistant

  • As a church we backed these new ministers in some ideas and changes that they wanted to implement. As for most people, change is not easy! But it was such a blessing to see so many of you hop on board and carry off some wonderful ministry events!

    • In March we held a Spiritual Awakening Conference where we saw God move many toward a renewal in their commitment to Christ.       We saw two salvations come out of this blessed week, which was targeted more toward church renewal than for evangelism.

    • During our Fall Festival we moved the event outside the walls of the church building for the second consecutive year. This year we had over 500 visitors, we shared the gospel of Christ, and we gave Bibles to 48 families upon their request.

    • We have seen growth in both numbers and in spirit within the youth group.

    • There is a renewed spirit of excitement and anticipation about the future.

    • A renewed focus on outreach and evangelism.

    • Our AWANA Ministry got children involved in ministering outside the church, and that will continue into 2016.

    • Our Youth Ministry is more involved in the overall life of the church.

    • During our Christmas Eve Service we ran out of candles due to the unexpected attendance. We saw a lot of unknown faces due to church members passing out a lot of invitation cards!

    • We started Parents’ Night Out to minister to parents, and in 2016 we will combine this ministry with Youth Night.       This should give parents some needed time for a date, solitude, or fellowship!

    • Our Children’s Ministry made an important connection with Eastwood Elementary School in the distribution of Thanksgiving Baskets.

    • The generosity displayed in our Christmas Giving Tree blessed a number of children and their families from two schools with some much needed heat this winter.

    • Our Music Ministry and Technical Ministry has seen some needed additions, especially in the area of instruments, but there is still room for more singers. We hope to see this ministry expand in 2016.

    • As in years past we exceeded our goal in giving to each of our Special Mission Offerings.

    • We began building a discipleship ministry that continues to develop, and hopefully will be used by God to mature us as the body of Christ.

    • Our Military Ministry works to reach out to soldiers and their families at Fort Bliss, as well as those who have been deployed.

  • I am sure that I have missed some highlights. It is just difficult to know when and where to stop the list. But my final highlight is this—As a result of the ministries enumerated above we have added 31 new members to the Scotsdale Baptist Church family, 12 of whom joined us by receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and being baptized as a witness to their decision to follow Jesus!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in looking forward to 2016 I pray that we will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18.  And in that personal growth, God will entrust to us even more souls and more Christ followers to join us in the journey!