Friday, January 29, 2016

Have a Mentor to Speak Truth into Your Life

Yesterday I brought up the subject of leadership styles and I mentioned two types.  The first type was the public opinion poll leader who was tossed back and forth based on the audience with which they were currently addressing.  The second type of leader was the conviction based leader who new their stance and was unwavering in their resolve to run the course they had set before them.  I had indicated my preference for the second type of leader.

I summarize this information because I think one of the best tools a convictional leader has in their tool box is mentoring or coaching.  In other words, the best leaders have individuals in their lives who mentor or coach them to be better and more effective.  The field in which the leader is working is irrelevant.  Every professional golfer has a golf coach even though the professional plays better golf than the coach.  The coach is able to see things the professional can’t and gives advise to make the professional better.  Actors have acting coaches.  CEO’s have business coaches and on and on the list can go.  There are now even professional life coaches in the market place who are available for hire no matter what area of life is your specific niche.

My point in bring all up these mentors or coaches is because it is my fundamental belief we all need them.  Some of these are professional with whom you pay a fee.  Others are personal friends with whom you know are experts in a specific area and they are willing to mentor you in order for you to be a better leader in your context.  I cannot express the value these mentors or coaches will have on your life.  What I can say is their impact will be significantly more valuable to you than if you tried to do the work on your own.

The reason they so often add value is because we all wear blinders in life.  We often do not see the entire picture and a coach is able to see or even sense things based on your conversations with them that will help guide and stir your course away from the rocks which will destroy your progress.  To put it bluntly, life coaching makes you more productive because they see what you can’t.  According to a Manchester Consulting Group study of Fortune 100 executives, the Economic Times reports “coaching resulted in a return on investment (ROI) of almost six times the program cost as well as a 77% improvement in relationships, 67% improvement in teamwork, 61% improvement in job satisfaction and 48% improvement in quality.” Additionally, a study of Fortune 500 telecommunications companies by MatrixGlobal found executive coaching resulted in a 529% ROI. The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development concludes “coaching is not just perceived as a nice-to-have intervention.”

If you do not have a mentor or coach, let me encourage you to get one.  You will truly have increased productivity and well being in your life.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Be a Convictional Based Leader

I have recently been thinking about the subject of public opinion.  We, as a nation, are currently in the heat of the race for our next presidential election.  As I have listened to these candidates who are trying to win their parties vote I have thought about the different types of leaders that exist.  I am not going to name names and classify the different candidates, but rather I am just going to list the two types of leaders I more often observe.

The first type is the opinion poll leaders.  This type of leader makes their stance dependent upon the winds of public opinion.  They are constantly looking at polls and trying to please everyone.  This type of leader is not just in the political arena.  There are pastors who try to please all of their congregational members.  There are business owners who try to please all of their employees and customers.  These people pleasers change their stance on a subject depending on the audience with which they are speaking.  I find these types of leaders to be exhausting.  I personally get tired just watching them run back and forth trying to please everyone.

The second type of leader is the conviction based leader.  This leader knows what they believe and why they believe it.  They recognize the fact they will never please everyone, but they know the resolve with which they have set based on their convictions.  I may personally not agree with this leaders convictions, but what I admire about this type of person is they are not tossed back and forth in the wind.  They set their course and they run straight.  I know when this person speaks to one group of people that this leaders message is going to be the same as when he/she speaks to another group of people.  This type of leader has consistency.

I have obviously tipped my hat as to my leadership bias.  I personally prefer the second type of leader.  I recommend you surround your life with conviction based leaders.  This type of leader will add value to you and to your organization (no matter what type of organization with which you are a part).  They will help hold you accountable to the organizations vision because they have bought into the vision on a convictional level.

Let me clarify a point some of you may be thinking about a conviction based leader.  Just because a leader is convictional in nature does not mean this person wakes up in the morning thinking to themselves, “Well, let’s see, who can I frustrate today because of my core convictions which are unwavering.”  These leaders are not unsympathetic to those in an opposite camp.  What these leaders do, however, is try through negotiation to convince those holding a differing position as to why their conviction is the best from their point of view.  If they are successful, then they have won a person over to their belief.  If they are unsuccessful, they move on and do not let this disagreement derail them from their end objective.

In closing, let me say, whether you are a type one leader or a type two leader, leadership is not for the weak and faint of heart.  If God has called you to lead, however, lead well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ministry is Invoked by the Church

Scripture: Acts 13:3
Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Insights: The last truth from this weeks sermon is ministry is invoked by the church.  Notice in today’s verse that after the leaders had finished fasting and praying they had Barnabas and Saul set apart through the laying on of hands.  They were commissioned by the church of Antioch to go on their first missionary journey.  At the end of the day, ministry is not just about the Holy Spirit’s inspiration or the leadership’s initiation.  At some point the church has to join the work.  FBCBG held a Vision Workshop in which the Strategic Planning Team presented out in a four hour session the results of the work they had done the previous two years.  One of the statements presented that night was, “There are two aspects required for revitalization to occur: A pastor [in our context of today’s blog, leader] with the attitude and commitment to take the church through the ReBirthing Stage and a church that has members who are also desiring for ReBirth to occur.  In order for ReBirth and Growth to transpire, both the pastor [leader] and the church membership must be in agreement on ReBirth and Growth.”  I write this quote to help illustrate the totality of the church body.  1 Corinthians 12 gives us a really good picture about the church being the body of Christ.  The Holy Spirit inspires the ministry, the leaders initiate the ministry, but everyone in the church invokes the ministry.  It takes us all doing our job to make ministry come to pass.  We at FBCBG have an opportunity to Carry Christ to our Community (C3) this coming weekend.  We are going to go out on Saturday and place door hanger questionnaires.  On Sunday we are going to return and clean up yards, pick up the questionnaires and leave a new door hanger telling them we love them.  In order for this C3 event to be successful it requires all of the church to be involved.  If just the leaders are present, then it will not be successful.  Let me encourage you to trust the Holy Spirit has truly inspired the leadership to initiate ministry.  With this foundation of trust, then let me encourage you to join the work and bring the Lord glory.

1. What ministry is your church rallying around and asking for your engagement?
2. Are you willing to jump in and join the church in this work?

Prayer: Father, it is my prayer the entire church will be motivated by the inspiration of Your Spirit and the initiation of the church leaders to join in the ministry assignment You give.  May our work bring You glory.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ministry is Inspired by the Holy Spirit

Scripture: Acts 13:2
While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Insights: Yesterday we learned ministry is initiated by leaders and though this is a true statement it is not the complete process.  If we look at today’s verse, I think we will get a better grasp of the leaders ability to initiate ministry.  The leader initiates ministry to his followers, but who inspires the leader to know what ministry ought to be done?  Does the leader just pick this work out of thin air and say to himself, “I think this ministry is a good idea?”  I think the answer is an obvious, “No.”  The Lord God, through the work of His Spirit, is the One who inspires leaders to do the work of ministry.  It was while the five leaders we read about yesterday were fasting and praying that the Holy Spirit spoke to them and set Barnabas and Saul apart for ministry.  Let me write this idea out in the context of FBCBG.  In December we voted on a formalized vision and mission statement.  Our mission is we at FBCBG are Christ centered, gospel driven, joyfully united and prayerfully obedient.  Our leadership did not just enter into a room one day and say, “Let’s write a pithy statement and tell everyone that is our mission.”  What did take place was literally hours of time in prayer, conversations, research, writing, revising, and clarifying what we sensed the Holy Spirit was telling us as a leadership team.  If the Holy Spirit had not been present in our work, then all we have is a man made concept and it will surely fail.  As a result of having engaged in this vision the Holy Spirit gives us inspiration along the way to meet this vision.  For example, how do we get contact information from a guest without actually making the guest feel uncomfortable like a spot light is shining on them?  Well, through research and the Holy Spirit’s promptings we sensed we don’t need them to raise their hands and be pointed out.  We also sensed through the Holy Spirit and research we did not need to request too much information from them.  It was through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the leadership decided the best way to get information was through a contact card for the entire church.  It is for this reason we are requesting you to write your first name only on the paper and then add a prayer request, if you have one.  It literally takes two seconds, but it makes our visitors feel more comfortable because everyone is doing it.  This example is just one of the ways leadership listens to the Holy Spirit and then initiates ministry.

1. In what way is the Holy Spirit inspiring you to join Him in ministry?
2. Are you willing to be obedient to the Holy Spirit?

Prayer: Father, leaders may initiate the ministry, but they are inspired by You.  Let me be sensitive to Your Spirit’s voice so I can initiate ministry which has been inspired by You.  Amen.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ministry is Initiated by Leaders

Scripture: Acts 13:1
Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Insights: There are five men listed in today’s verse who were considered to be prophets and teachers.  These men represent the leadership of the church of Antioch.  It is my presupposition these men were the ones who initiated any kind of ministry campaign or activity.  Many of my leadership assumptions have come from John Maxwell and his courses and books.  For example, some of Maxwell’s adages are, “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” “People buy into the leader, then the vision,” “Trust is the foundation of leadership,” and “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.”  I list these Maxwellian statements because I believe these five men represented these truths in the Antioch church.  Leaders are going to initiate ministry and it will become contagious to the rest of the body in time.  As more and more people buy into the vision, then momentum begins to build.  As the momentum grows it becomes like a snowball going down a steep hill.  It picks up speed and size the further down the mountain it rolls.  Now this idea of ministry being initiated by the leader makes me ask a question.  What if you are in a ministry context and you have a poor leader who will not engage in ministry, what do you do?  Let me again point you to a Maxwell resource titled The 360˚ Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization.  The premise of this resource is to help a person who is not the “official” leader to lead others.  God has called all of us to ministry and He has not given us the latitude to make an excuse for our lack of engagement based on a poor leader in an official capacity.  We need to pray for these unengaged leaders.  We need to start conversations with others and influence them into ministry opportunities.  We need to be intentional about serving the Lord.  The absolute best scenario is when the titled leader actually will lead, but even if he will not, someone must rise up and lead others into ministry because ministry is initiated by leaders.  Beloved, it is my prayer we all become more intentional about engaging a lost world for Jesus.  Let us share His love with someone today.

1. How willing are you to follow your church leadership into ministry opportunities?
2. If you have a poor leader who is not leading you into ministry, are you willing to step up and be the kind of leader that motivates others to do ministry?

Prayer: Father, You are the ultimate leader.  Guide my life in such a way I become a better leader to motivate people to take action for Your kingdom.  Amen.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Let Your Story Join God's Bigger Story

Yesterday I started a conversation about Storying and would like to elaborate on it a little more today.  If you click this link (  you will go to my first telling of the Creation to Church story (C2C) which is produced by Storying Training for Trainers (  I share this link not for self-aggrandizement, because there are A LOT of mistakes and awkward pauses in this telling of the story, but rather I share it as a way of introduction to this blog post.

The world is comprised of a big story which we call the Meta-Narrative.  The Meta-Narrative is really God’s story as He interacts in the world.  It has a beginning and a middle and an end.  We learn about this story in the Bible.  The C2C story gives in approximately six minutes this Meta-Narrative of God.  It shares God’s initiation into the story with creation and then reveals man’s disobedience to God’s gift of life.  The story would be a tragedy if it ended at this point, but the story continues with God’s interaction with His creation and ultimately His sending a Savior to make it possible for humanity to be reconciled to Him.  This Savior is Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  The story, however, does not end with Jesus.  It goes on and shows what our role is in this world as we wait for the end of the story to commence.  The story’s end begins with the return of Jesus.  In a very short fashion, what I have just provided is a very brief overview of the Meta-Narrative.

The use of stories is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to help engage other people into this Meta-Narrative with their narrative.  We are created to join God’s story and to tell other people about His story.  We are to help those individuals who believe in Jesus and receive His gift of salvation to grow in their relationship with Him.  We are to equip them to be reproducing believers of God’s great love.

In this personal narrative God has a plan and a work for you to accomplish for Him.  As life goes on and we enter into new seasons of our lives the work may change and shift, but we are still called to join our narrative into God’s Meta-Narrative.  This truth forces me to ask the question of myself and to you as to our intentionality of engaging God in the narrative.  In other words, are we series about our involvement in serving God for His great glory.  Henry Blackaby describes this process as God always being at work and then inviting us to join Him in His work.  When we have received this invitation, we then have a crisis of belief in which we determine if we really trust God and believe what He has told us.  If we do, we then join God in His mission of reconciliation of a world to Himself.  When we join God, we then experience Him which is why Blackaby titled his work Experiencing God.

Let me challenge you to let your story, your narrative, join with God’s story, His Meta-Narrative and watch lives become changed as a result of entering into the bigger story.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Reflections on Mission College's Storying Track

Last week I had the privilege to go to Mission College in Richmond, Virginia at the International Mission Board’s retreat and training center.  I and another member from FBC Bowling Green went through the Storying Track and I am so grateful we did.  One of the more recent statistics abounding is that around 80% of the worlds population are oral learners.  What this means is that for the vast majority of this 80% they are incapable of reading or writing.  There is another portion of this 80% who are capable of reading and writing, but they just don’t read unless they absolutely have to.  

With statistics like this it forces us to ask the question about Christian discipleship to this vast majority of people who are incapable or unwilling to read the Bible.  The Catholic church faced this same question in its early inception and that is one of the many reasons they placed the twelve steps of Jesus’ Passion throughout their churches.  It was to help visually tell the story of Jesus’ work on the cross in pictorial form for those who were unable to read.

Storying is a method to help with this discipleship and evangelism process.  It is a lengthy process, but a very effective one.  Storying is not a new concept.  In fact, before recording history, storying was the method history was passed down from one generation to the next.  The “storying” method with which I was exposed has also been around for a few decades.  It has had a great deal of success in other countries.

As I sat in the training sessions I began to think about the local church and this discipleship method of storying.  I do not know the answers as to how to implement such a method in a literate culture, but I know the value is present even for them.  As a result, I used story telling in my sermon this past Sunday and am still evaluating the effectiveness of it.  I did not, because of some other time constraints, do what I wanted to do in terms of the discipline process, but I think it was a good start for an introduction to our church.

I am looking forward to see how the Lord develops and uses this method in my ministry and would encourage you to pray for me as I seek this truth out in my life.  What I think I have come to believe is people will learn and retell a story when they won’t memorize Scripture and tell others the significance of those Biblical words.  Whatever method you choose to use, it is my hope we as followers of Jesus would be willing to tell others about His great love and help lead them to Him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

God Created Us For Eternity

Scripture: Psalm 139:13-16
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

Insights: The final truth this week deals with the fact that God has created us for eternity.  We see this truth expressed in today’s verses when David sang, “And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  All of humanity at conception are written in God’s book.  We know, however, from Moses not every name remains in this book.  Some names are crossed out.  In the New Testament we are given further revelation and learn the name of this book is the Lamb’s Book of Life and the only names that eventually remain in this book are those who have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  God created us for eternity!  Beloved, I need you to understand this eternity is for those who spend it with the Lord God and also for those who spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.  It is absolutely necessary for us to feel the weight of this significance.  These individuals do not just suffer for a minute and then become annihilated and exist no more.  They do not suffer just for a minute and then get brought into God’s glorious grace.  Eternity is for ALL time.  There is NO end to their suffering and we must do all we can to share with them the hope of Jesus.  I cannot express the importance of this fact enough.  If we really believe this theological reality, and it is true, then we need to share Jesus all we can.  May we never take this responsibility lightly or flippantly.  May many souls come to know the Lord Jesus because of our faithful obedience to Him in proclaiming the gospel to lost souls.  Jesus is the Good News that can change their eternal destiny from one of pain and suffering to joy and pleasure.  Let’s go, let’s share, let’s tell, let’s bring God glory!

1. Have you received Jesus as Your Lord and Savior?
2. Are you intentionally looking for opportunities to share Jesus with people so they may experience the love of the Lord for all eternity?

Prayer: Father, help me to feel the tension and the weight of eternity.  Grow my sensitivity to the seriousness of lostness and increase my burden for souls.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

God Created Us To Work

Scripture: Psalm 139:13-16
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

Insights: The second truth I believe we learn from this passage is we are created to work.  You might be saying to yourself, “Scott, I don’t see work mentioned in these verses.”  I believe it is an implied truth found in David’s stanza, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”  The reason I believe it is an implied reference to our work is because of the connection to God’s work.  Let me get a little technical with you.  The part, “I will give thanks to You” is linked to the part “And my soul knows it very well.”  The part, “for I am fearfully” is linked to the part, “are your works.”  The part “and wonderfully made” is linked to the part, “Wonderful.”  The stanza is an A, B, C—C, B, A pattern and very common in the psalms.  Because God’s work is mentioned and is tied to the fearfully part, it is a descriptor of our work.  In other words, we are capable of amazing feats as people.  In my sermon I referenced our sending men to the moon.  That work was a fearful prospect and points to mans incredible resolve to accomplish much.  The prospect of all man can do is fearful at times.  Think back to the Tower of Babel in Genesis and see what the Lord Himself said about humanity, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them (11:6).”  We are a fearful people when we work.  The amazing part is we can work like they did in Genesis chapter eleven for our own glory or for the glory of God.  This second type of work is what Jesus mentioned in Matthew 5:16 when He said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  Beloved, we are to work in a fearful fashion in order to point people to God.  This kind of fear is more of an awe type of fear than a dread type of fear.  It is honoring not hindering.  Let us glorify God with our work.

1. In what capacity do you work for the Lord?
2. Do you understand your work is one way in which you point people to Jesus?

Prayer: Father, let me work in such a fashion that others recognize a distinction in me.  I pray you will prompt their hearts and have them inquire as to why I work the way I do.  Grant me boldness when they do to tell them the story of Jesus.  Amen.

Monday, January 18, 2016

God Created Us

Scripture: Psalm 139:13-16
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

Insights: Yesterday was Sanctity of Life Sunday and we examined the verses of the psalm you just read.  There are three truths I believe we find in these few verses.  The first will be discussed today and it is God created us.  Notice God formed our inward parts and He wove us in our mother’s wombs.  Our frame was not hidden from Him and He saw our unformed substance.  We are not just a random accident of evolution as our school systems would have us to believe.  Rather, God intentionally created us and we ought not to take this truth for granted.  God values every life and we will see this unfold on Wednesday in a fuller sense.  For today, what I want us to focus on is the fact that God sees our unformed substance.  In other words, when we are conceived God knows us and He values us.  God is intentional about all His creations and He loves everyone of them so much He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for each and everyone of them.  His death paid the price for each one of them and their sin which separated them from His great grace.  His death demonstrates the value the Lord places on each one of His creation.  May we understand and respect God’s creation as much as He does and may we strive to educate and demonstrate to others the importance of every life.

1. Do you recognize that God has created us as a special creation?
2. Can you understand the importance of every life created by the Lord God?

Prayer: Father, help me to value every life You have created.  You have granted life to Your creation and each and everyone is precious.  Amen.

Friday, January 15, 2016

There Is A Balance To Maintain: To Be All Things To All People, While Being All For God

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Insights: The final way we share the gospel without being needlessly offensive is by being in the world, but not of the world.  Paul stated that to those without the law, he was as one without the law, but not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ.  In other words, Paul was saying, I will go out into the midst of the world and live among them, but I will not forsake my relationship with Jesus.  I am not going to sin with a sinner in order to share Jesus with them.  The person who lived this out perfectly was Jesus.  He was known as the friend of sinners.  He hung out with sinners and tax collectors.  These individuals were the low-lifes of society in the first century.  When He was confronted about these relationships Jesus told the religious rulers He came to minister to the sick who were in need of a physician, not the healthy who had no need of a physician.  Jesus admonished us to be in the world, but not of it.  When we live life in this fashion we are communicating to lost people that there is a better way to live life.  There is more to life than what they have personally experienced.  Beloved, there has been a word used throughout this weeks blog posts and it has been intentional.  We need to intentionally engage a lost world.  Join a golf league or bowling league and meet lost people.  Join a civic organization or host a neighborhood bar-b-que and meet lost people.  If you regularly go to the same restaurant, befriend a specific waiter or waitress and learn their story and if they don’t know Jesus work the conversation to Him.  Find a lost person to cut your hair and over time share Jesus with them.  I don’t care what your method for meeting and sharing Jesus is, my concern is we are intentional about doing it and the only place we are going to find lost people is in the world.  So, let’s go reach them.

1. Are you of the world too much?
2. Are you in the world enough?

Prayer: Father, help me to truly be in the world, but not of the world.  Amen.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

There Is A Perception To Gain: Where Is This Person?

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Insights: The second way in which we share the gospel without needlessly offending the lost person is to meet them where they are presently.  Notice Paul met the Jew were the Jew was.  He met the one under the law as one under the law.  He met the one without the law as one without the law.  He literally became all things to all people in order to win some for Jesus.  One way in which I personally try to find common ground is to keep my eyes moving and looking around me.  I look at what the person is wearing and see if their is a logo or phrase on their clothing I can use as a jumping point into a conversation which I hope will lead to a conversation about Jesus.  If I happen to be in their home, I am looking at paintings or pictures or art around the house.  Again, I am doing this to find a common ground.  I ask questions about their employment or hobbies.  Again, I am doing this to find common ground.  I have found the biggest key to being able to do this looking is to have a genuine concern for people.  In other words, when I really seem to care about that individual I am willing to look and ask questions in order to know them better.  When I am rushed or disinterested or even fatigued I find I am unwilling to take the time to get to know the person.  It is for this reason I believe we must truly be intentional about finding common ground with which to engage a person with conversation.  Beloved, slow down, get the proper rest you need each night and be curious about people.  All you have to do is start asking questions and let the conversation progress naturally as you try to find common ground.

1. As you evaluate your lost friend have you discovered common ground on which to build the relationship?
2. Do you have difficultly finding common ground with other people?

Prayer: Father, You have put people in my path for a reason.  Help me to look for ways to connect with those I don’t presently know in order to earn the right to share Jesus with them.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

There Is An Attitude To Adopt: I Am A Slave To All

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Insights: The first part of the week we looked at how we need to be about sharing the gospel with lost people.  The remainder of the week we will be examining practical ways in which we share the gospel without needlessly offending people.  The first way is by following Paul’s example of being a slave to all, so that he might win more.  All too often I view 
the lost as the enemy to be conquered and not souls that need to be saved.  What I mean by this sentence is I see their lifestyle and worldview and instead of being broken by their choice, I see them as one who is imposing their views on to me.  So, I do not see their eternal state of damnation, but rather just their discomfort they cause me in the here and now.  God forgive me for this selfish attitude of personal rights.  Beloved, we need to look at these individuals with love and compassion.  We need to intentionally serve them and minister to them.  There is one more aspect to this idea I want you to think about.  I mentioned the fact I all too often look at them as my enemy, which they are not, and if I do engage them in conversation, it sometimes turns into a debate.  I must constantly remind myself while in this argument my job is to lead them to Jesus, not to win the verbal contest.  What good is it if I win the debate, but they still end up rejecting Christ because my attitude was not one of a slave.  May this never be our objective.  Let’s strive to let Jesus’ love permeate our lives as we serve them.

1. Do you consciously put others, especially lost people, ahead of yourself?
2. In what ways can you demonstrate to a lost person your servant attitude toward them?

Prayer: Father, help me to be a servant.  Help me to find a way to serve those who do not know Your Son Jesus in a very real and practical way.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

There Is A Message That We Must Proclaim: The Gospel

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Insights: Yesterday we learned about the three reasons we need to own this goal of proclamation.  Today, we will examine the three parts which make up the gospel.  The first part of the gospel is we are all sinners.  The Scriptures tell us we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  It is imperative for people to understand they are sinners and they have a fallen sin state which separates them from the Lord.  The Father, however, did not leave us abandoned in our state of sin.  He knew a provision needed to be made to restore the relationship between Himself and humanity.  As a result, God provided a substitute for our sin in the person of His Son, Jesus.  The Old Testament tells us all things are cleansed by blood and there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood.  In order to make a perfect sacrifice which was sufficient for the remission of all sin, required a perfect sacrifice.  The only One perfect was God Himself, and therefore, He came in the person of Jesus.  Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time.  He lived the sinless life and shed His blood to pay our sin debt.  He was God’s provision for us.  There is still one last part of the gospel and that is repentance.  We must receive this gift and accept God’s gift of grace.  The evidence of our reception of the gospel is a turning from our way of sin and rebellion to that of obedience, love and devotion to the Lord of grace.  If you are one who has never received Jesus as your Lord and Savior it is as simple as praying and asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to come into your life.  Once He does, you are then to listen and obey Him as Lord of your life and this plays out in the form of repentance from your previous life of sin.

1. Have you ever encountered God’s provision for your sin?
2. Have you ever repented of your sin and received the free gift of eternal life through Jesus?

Prayer: Father, grant me the boldness to share all the aspects of the gospel with those around me.  Amen.

Monday, January 11, 2016

There Is A Goal That We Must Own: By All Means To Save Some

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Insights: I wish to express gratitude to Steve Cole for the outline of Sunday’s sermon.  The guts were mine, but his outline was extremely well designed.  The goal for all Christians to own is that by all means we must win some for the kingdom.  There are three reasons this is important and the first is that this goal is realistic in nature.  In other words, we are not capable of saving all people, but we are able to save some.  This fact helps us to realize and live under the realistic expectation that does not overburden us with the pressure of winning all for the kingdom.  The second reason we need to own this goal is the goal is worthwhile.  I cannot think of anything more important than the souls of humanity.  Our occupations are not more important, our hobbies are not more important and our preferences and prejudices are not more important than the souls of men.  The third reason we need to own this goal is because of the crucial nature of it.  I think there are two reasons we do not live with the crucial reality of eternity.  Firstly, it has been almost 2,000 years since Jesus ascended into heaven, and as a result, we have lost the sense that Jesus really is coming back.  Let me tell you, He is coming back.  Secondly, we are incapable of truly feeling the extent of eternity.  I don’t think we understand those in the Lake of Fire do not just become annihilated and disappear.  They literally suffer forever and ever and ever.  There is never a second of relief extended to those who reject Jesus’ gift of salvation.  Beloved, let us own the goal and remember it is realistic, worthwhile and crucial for us to reach as many as we can for the Kingdom of God.

1. Have you come to the place where you own the goal of gospel proclamation?
2. Do you feel the crucial nature of eternity for those who will spend eternity in hell?

Prayer: Father, grow my burden for the lost.  Help me to know the depth of eternity in the Lake of Fire.  Grant me the courage to be bold in my every day life.  Amen.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Let Us Stand in the Gap

Today in my quiet time I was reading out of the book of Ezekiel.  In the twenty-second chapter in the thirtieth verse God says, “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.”  As I read this verse it got me thinking about Nazi Germany and the silent majority who allowed Hitler and his sycophants to exterminate eleven million people.  It makes me think about the silent majority of Muslims who allow militant Muslims to terrorize the world and do nothing to stop it.  Even further than these examples, however, it got me thinking about the church in the United States that allows millions of unborn babies die every year and yet we, as the silent majority, really do not do anything.  We do not let this issue affect our political position regarding government.  We do not let it affect the way we approach adoption.  We don’t let it affect the way we teach sex education in our school systems.  It got me asking the question, “Am I one to whom the Lord could look and see someone standing in the gap for Him in this land?”  I fear the answer is a resounding, “NO!”  I make this statement because in the arenas in which I walk, people know my stand on all biblical issues that deal with evangelism, abortion, addiction and on and on I could write.  The problem I see is the environments in which I communicate my “convictions” are safe.  I preach in a church where I still have the religious liberty to voice my “convictions,” but what if the laws were to change and I could not preach the Bible any longer, would I?  It is easy to preach in this safe environment.  What about my blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts?  Once again, it is a safe place.  I write some nice thoughts and put them out there in cyber space where there are no actual flesh and blood confrontations for my faith.  You either like my posts or you don’t, but engagement with me is sterile and not real.  I fear I am not doing enough for the Kingdom of God.  I fear God may be looking at my life and saying, “Scott is not standing in the gap for me either.”  It is my prayer in 2016 that my life become a life of distinction this year.  It is my desire to be more engaging with the lost community and to stand more vocally firm in unsafe arenas for the cause of Jesus.  I would covet your prayers as I ask the Lord to stretch my life and to make me one whom He can say, “Yes, Scott is standing in the gap for me!”  Will you join me in this prayer and conviction?  Will you pursue Christ with all of who you are knowing that if you do, He will change your safe comfort zone.  I pray you will.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Scripture: Isaiah 48:6-7
“You have heard; look at all this.  And you, will you not declare it?  I proclaim to you new things from this time, Even hidden things which you have not known.  “They are created now and not long ago; And before today you have not heard them, So that you will not say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’

Insights: The final truth I am going to show you this week is God is about doing NEW things.  Remember, God showed them in their history what He was going to do in order for them to not give credit to false gods or even to themselves.  Now, however, at this critical turn in human history God says, “I proclaim to you new things from this time, even hidden things which you have not known.”  This word was to be in reference to Jesus, but the principle is true of the nature of God.  Let me give you some examples.  How many times did got command an army to march around a city to have the walls fall?  How many times did God provide a tax through a fish?  Speaking of fish, how many times did God change a prophets heart by having them take a holiday in the belly of a fish?  How many times did Jesus rise from the dead and how many times did He ascend into heaven?  When we get to Revelation 21:5, we are told God is making all things new.  God is an infinitely creative God and loves new things.  What did He command the psalmist about songs?  To sing a new song is the answer.  God has given us the big picture of the churches mission in advance just as we learned previously this week, but the specifics of this big picture of reaching the lost is alway going to be new.  It is always new because the newness pushes us outside of our comfort zone and into the realm of dependence on the Holy One of creation.  God wants us to walk by faith and not by sight.  As a result, we obediently follow Him into new adventures.  FBCBG is starting a major new adventure as we strive to be a church which is Christ centered, gospel driven, joyfully united and prayerfully obedient.  May we stretch ourselves and reach the lost community.  May we visually show our community we care about them and visitors.  May God be brought glory as we join Him on this great new adventure!

1. What new thing do you sense God is leading you to do in 2016?
2. For those at FBCBG, are you willing to join us in the new things the Lord is calling us to in order to reach the lost world for Jesus?

Prayer: Father, the future often scares me.  Help my heart to embrace the adventure you have for me and grant me the courage to walk in obedience with You.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

God Reveals in Advance

Scripture: Isaiah 48:5
Therefore I declared them to you long ago, Before they took place I proclaimed them to you, So that you would not say, ‘My idol has done them, And my graven image and my molten image have commanded them.’

Insights: So far this week we have learned God is always at work, but we are resistant to work because of our sin nature.  Today, however, we learn God continues to invite us join Him in His work and one way He does it is by revealing in advance the big picture of the assignment.  Why does God give us this big long range picture?  He does it, according to our verse today, in order for us to recognize it was God Himself who brought it to pass and not false gods or even ourselves.  How does this concept play out for us in our every day lives?  Typically God reveals some completely bodacious goal He is going to bring to pass.  For example, He told the children of Israel they were going to take the Promised Land.  They have their ideas as to how to take a land and God has His ideas on how to take a land.  Israel gathers up the group and God says, “I want to maim my army and have them recover just a short distance from the enemy.”  God did this as He called His people back to the covenantal sign of circumcision.  If this idea was not crazy enough, God then tells them to march around Jericho for seven days and seven times on the last day and finally to shoot.  This plan is what God is going with to take Jericho.  The children of Isreal did not know any of these plans when God gave them in advance the big mission of taking the Promised Land.  God works the same way with us and the reason is so we grow dependent on Him.  He also does it because if He revealed all of the plan it would scar us too much, but He knows the more we walk in obedience with Him the more confidence we have in Him and His provision and care.  God’s revelation in advance is true for individuals and corporate bodies.  Beloved, let me encourage you to review 2015 and to begin asking the Lord as to what His big 2016 assignment is for you.  As you walk this journey out, He will reveal the specifics of the big picture.  All you have to do is be obedient.

1. As you reflect on 2015, did you accomplish God’s big assignment for you last year?
2. What big thing has God revealed to you for 2016?

Prayer: Father, I am frail and weak.  I am not capable of doing anything great for You, but because of Christ in me, I can obey You and bring You glory as I do great things in Your power.  May my life bring You honor this year as I obey You.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

We are Resistant to Work

Scripture: Isaiah 48:4
“Because I know that you are obstinate, And your neck is an iron sinew And your forehead bronze,

Insights: Yesterday we learned God is always at work.  Today, however, we learn we as people are often resistant to work.  It is probably safe to say every generation before a new generation does not think the generation coming into being works as well as they did.  In other words, the Builder generation did not think the Silent generation worked as well as they did.  The Silent generation did not think the Boomers worked as well as they did.  The Boomers did not think the Gen Xers  worked as well as they do and finally the Gen Xers don’t think the Millennials work as well as they do.  Yet, when I write “we as a people are often resistant to work” I am not talking about work ethic in the context of generational effectiveness.  I am really talking about submission to the Father.  I am talking about us seeing Him at work and joining Him in His mission.  We are all too often willing to say, “Let the other guy do it” as we sit back and relax and remain comfortable and safe.  This reluctance to work is a result of sin entering the world.  As a result, we are like today’s verse.  We are all too often obstinate, stiff-necked (neck is an iron sinew), and hard-headed (forehead of bronze).  Let me muddy the waters a little bit.  Most of the time, we don’t recognize ourselves as being this type of person.  We are quick to point it out in others, but we are slow to recognize our sinfulness.  Beloved, the secret to not suffer from this problem is to be so closely connected and serving the Lord we are not able to recognize the flaws of others.  If we are so busy serving the Lord, He becomes our entire focus.  Let us quickly repent of our laziness and let us run even more quickly to Jesus.  Let us serve Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.  May our partnered lives with Him bring Him great glory.  Let us work with Him.

1. Would you classify yourself as a stiff-necked individual?
2. Would others possibly classify you as a stiff-necked individual?

Prayer: Father, I am all too often resistant to change and especially change initiated by You.  Forgive me for when I have been stiff-necked and help me to be more pliable in Your hands.  Amen.

Monday, January 4, 2016

God is at Work

Scripture: Isaiah 48:3
I declared the former things long ago And they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them.  Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.

Insights: Yesterday we worked through a passage of Scripture in order to help us see God’s plan for FBCBG through 2016.  The first thing we learned, which is found in today’s verse, is God is at work.  This concept of God always being at work is not knew to the Thoughts by Scott blog posts.  It is foundational to my theology and therefore I preach and write about it a lot.  In regards to this verse, you have to go back to the time of Moses and the giving of the Law.  Back then, God told them what their life would be like if they followed after Him.  He also told them the consequences of not following Him.  He gave them this words years in advance and through out their history He would send prophets to remind them of His words.  Now God is telling them, I let you know this event was going to take place for years and now I am acting and bringing about the consequences for your rebellion against me.  The point I want you to walk away with regarding this point is not the justice God dispensed on the people, but rather God was working.  He was working before He gave Israel the Law.  He was working after He had given them the Law and He was working in the history of Isaiah at this time period bringing about His judgment on the people for their sin.  It was not God’s heart desire to punish the people and send them into exile.  It was His heart desire for them to repent and turn back to Him and He had been actively working to bring this desired outcome to pass.  The people, however, rejected God’s offer of grace.  Beloved, God is still working today.  He is still drawing on the hearts of people.  His Spirit is still telling people they need to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  I am not really going to go into the next part of this aspect of God working in this weeks blog posts, but the second side of this coin is we are to join Him in His work.  In other words, we adjust our lives and join Him where He is working.  We go on mission with the Lord and let me tell you, when we do, life is exciting.  Let me encourage you to open your eyes and look for God’s activity in this world and then join Him.

1. In what areas of your life have you observed God’s activity?
2. In what areas outside of your personal life have you observed God’s work?

Prayer: Father, I am so grateful You are always at work.  You have never stopped drawing on the hearts of humanity.  Grant me eyes to see Your activity and the courage to join You in your work.  Amen.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Let's Do Great Things in 2016

Happy New Year!  Today is the first day to do great things.  Last week I mentioned a Michael Hyatt video I had watch about goal setting.  One of the statistics he made was the average person puts the same thing on there goal list ten straight years in a row.  For example they may say ten years in a row, “I am going to loss weight this year” or “I am going to stop smoking this year” or “I am going to write a book this year” and the list could go on and on and on.  

One of the reasons people fail to achieve their goals is a lack of partnership.  What I mean by this sentence is too often these individuals try to achieve their goals on their own.  It is always harder to push yourself through hard days when there is no one beside you spurring you on to do the right thing.  This truth is found in every area of life.  It was for this reason Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NASB).”

It is part of my faith presupposition that the Lord wants us as Christ-followers to do great things.  I think He wants us to do great things so we can tell a lost world of His great power and grace.  I believe this idea is what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16, NASB).”  The focus of our good works is to point people to the Lord.

It is for these reasons I want to encourage you this year to not try and reach your goals alone.  If you are wanting to lose weight, find a workout partner.  If you want to write that book this year, find your self a writing coach to keep you on track.  If you want to witness more, find someone who is gifted in evangelism and start going on visits with them to lost peoples homes.

This idea of partnership is also true for churches.  FBCBG has a lot of big goals set for 2016.  I as the pastor will not be able to accomplish these goals on my own.  Singular individuals in the church will also not be able to reach goals.  It will take all of us working together and partnering together to do great things for the Lord, but let us work together and bring God glory as we honor Him through our obedience.  Let’s praise His great name this year of 2016!