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Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Gospel at Christmas

“ John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Mark 1:4

What is the message of Christmas any way? You hear lots of things about that this time of year. “Christmas is for caring” says one. “It’s gifts and presents,” says another. “No, it’s peace on earth and goodwill toward men” chimes in a third, a little closer to the truth.

But really, what is the message of Christmas all about? You ask most people and, unless they’ve just come straight from an ACLU meeting, they’ll know at least the basics – Christmas has something to do with Jesus, and God sending Him into the world as a baby, and that somehow this gift was meant to save the world. Most will know at least that much.

But again, I’ll ask, what exactly is the heart of the Christmas message? And what are we supposed to do with it, once we’ve understood it?

When it gets right down to it, the thing we need to understand is that the Christmas message is exactly the same as the message of the Gospel. There really is no difference. For Christians, Christmas is not a separate thing, tucked over in a corner of the year all by itself (even though we sometimes treat it that way). It’s not that we have this nice, sentimental little story about a baby in a manger who was visited by shepherds and wise men, and then we have this other story about a Christ who was rejected by men, crucified and then raised from the dead on the third day. It’s all part of the same wonderful story – the record of what God has done to save His people from their sin! It’s the announcement of the Good News that God saves sinners!

And so the message we need at Christmas is the same message we need to hear at Easter and every other time of year – it’s the message of repentance from sin and of faith in Christ Jesus for salvation for those who believe. It’s the good news that sinners like us can be reconciled to God and made His children and heirs, if we will turn from sin and by faith trust in His Son as Savior and Lord

My prayer for you this Christmas Season is that God will give you ears to hear the marvelous news of what he has done in sending His own Son to die in the place of sinners. And that he'll give you a heart to believe that He did this even for you -- if you will trust in Him. So that, no matter what you've done or where your life has taken you up to this point, if you will repent of your sin (which means turn away from it in order to turn to Him) and trust in Christ (believing that He is able to save even the worst of sinners and give them new life in Him) you too can be saved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Giving

“Where your treasure is there will your heart be also”
Matthew 6:21

Giving and Christmas go together. Everybody knows that. Even before Ebenezer Scrooge got straightened out by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and went running through the streets of London giving away his wealth, people have identified Christmas with giving. It’s in the air this time of year. There are fund raisers at work and at school, bell ringers in front of every store and shopping mall, and more than a few reminder from the pulpit.

And Americans seem to be listening. More than $260 billion will be given to charitable organizations this time of year (most of it through Christian organizations, by the way!). That’s something we should be glad about. Americans are still the most generous people on earth – and I believe God has blessed us because of it.

And yet, one thing we have to keep in mind during this time of holiday giving, is that the attitude of our hearts toward wealth is something we need to be aware of all year ‘round. Sometimes I find that, even as I’m giving to help the poor and support missions, my foolish heart can be filled with greed. Whether a desire for the latest new gadget, the shiniest jewelry or the biggest HD TV , it’s easy to become discontent with what you have and thus be tempted to give less for those in need in order to have more of what you want.

My prayer for our church --and for every Christian in the prosperous West -- is that God will continue to free us from our obsession with wealth and things that so easily captivate our souls. I pray we will refuse to give in to the thought that says, “I’ve already done enough” and instead will ask God for even greater opportunities to do more to extend His kingdom and meet the needs of those around us who are hurting.

Believers, let’s ask God to make us truly generous all year around with our time, our money and our very lives. Let's give and serve and sacrifice in a way that makes God look good (see Matthew 5:16), and in a way that will leave people no choice but to come to the astounded conclusion that having Him really is more valuable to us than having those things the people of the world live and die to possess.

Treasure Him!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Psalm 67 -- A Missionary Psalm

“God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us that Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.”
Psalm 67: 1-2

Psalm 67 is about missions! It’s a cry for God to bless us. But unlike so many who cry today for God’s blessing, the Psalmist is not thinking only of Himself. He has a much greater goal in mind. He prays that God would bless us and be with us, so that through us the nations might hear and know and worship God as He deserves to be known and worshiped!

Now, as I think about that, I realize that this is always the motive behind God’s blessing. God does not bless us so we can hoard the blessing to ourselves. He blesses us so that we might be a link in the chain of events He uses to bless others – and especially to bless them with the Gospel of Christ.

What was it He said to Abraham when he called him to follow Him by faith? He said, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing and all nations on earth will be blessed through you!” (Gen 12:3) Wow! Think about that. God doesn’t bless us so we can look in the mirror and say, “Gee, isn’t it great to be blessed?” God blesses us so that other nations and people we’ve never met can be blessed through us! How? By hearing and responding to the Gospel of Christ that we preach and that we send out into the world through missions!

That’s why I like to say that Psalm 67 – in addition to being one of my own personal favorites – is a missionary Psalm! It’s a call for us to realize that all God is doing in our lives today – all of his blessing, all of the advantages we have known as Americans is for this purpose: to make His glory known, and to enable us to carry the news of His glory (..the Gospel) to the ends of the earth so that,....”all the peoples” and “all the nations” may hear and be glad in Him!

God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth might fear Him! (Ps 67:7)

Pastor Scott Lee

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Belated Thanksgiving Message

OK, I meant to post this right before thanksgiving, but never got around to it. But, here we go . . .

I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

As Christians, every day is thanksgiving day! So while I hope you and your family had a wonderful time giving thanks and celebrating this holiday we call“ Thanksgiving,” my real prayer is that you will find your heart rejoicing this morning in the reality of what God has done for us in Christ!

It’s sad, really. Our world has forgotten what Thanksgiving means – if it ever knew. For many it’s just “Turkey Day” – an excuse to eat too much and drink too much and watch TV. But the thing missing from such “celebrations” is the one thing that matters most – the reality of a genuine delight in Him to Who all praise and thanksgiving are due! (Rm 11:36)

Romans 1:21 says that although people knew about God, “they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to Him” Ingratitude, you see, is the root of all kinds of sin – pride, selfishness, bitterness and complaining. We take God’s blessings for granted. We assume we deserve the good things that happen, and then complain bitterly about the bad. It’s as if God – if He exists – exists to serve us and make our lives easy. And if He doesn’t, He has failed.

But the Gospel of grace frees us from such insane delusions. It re-orients our world and puts God at the center, not us! When that happens you then discover that you’ve been freed to do the one thing in all the universe you were meant to do – gain the joy of making much of God forever! I pray that you know this freedom and that you will express it joyfully in the form or thanksgiving and praise offered to the One who truly matters most! And then, ask God to help each of us grasp the importance of knowing Him in a real and lasting way through the miracle of conversion by grace through faith in Christ alone

With Thanksgiving in My Heart for all things in Christ!
Pastor Scott Lee

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

“The Valley of Vision” -- A place to gaze on the majesty of God

“The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions,” as the title suggests, is a collection of prayers and devotions from the Puritans – a people who knew and deeply loved God! As you read this book, you’ll discover that the Puritans were not the “stuffed shirts” so many think they were. They were warm-hearted Christians who passionately loved and pursued God in every area of their lives. They understood that prayer, doctrine and life must all fit together in the Christian’s life in such a way that one cannot be separated from the others! In fact, it was their doctrine that produced in them such deep praying (as we find in this book), and it was their prayers that filled their hearts and lives with such a Christ-centered joy.

One of my goals in life, and in the life of Rockport Baptist Church, is that we would be a people who not only know a lot about God from His Word, but also who know Him in way that is real and intimate and filled with a passion for His glory. This book will help you in that pursuit. For years I have used it to help my own praying. By looking over the shoulders of these godly men and women as they lifted their hearts to God, I’ve found my own passion for Christ rekindled, my prayers resurrected from deadness, and my heart warmed with faith. My prayer is that this book will have the same effect on you.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What we stand for matters every bit as much as what we stand against!

“He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.
Proverbs 28:27

“Jesus hates strip clubs, but he’s OK with people starving.” That’s the provocative title I found on somebody’s blog this week. Now I believe the guy who wrote that is ‘out to lunch’. He was upset because some Christians had banned together to shut down adult-themed clubs in his town. Well what a shame! Apparently he has a problem with people who have the sense to realize that such establishments exploit women, lead to increased crime and contribute to the ongoing breakdown of marriages. Obviously I don't share his sentiments. But his article did remind me of one very tragic fact. All across this nation unbelievers identify Christians for what we stand against (in this case, strip clubs) and not for the good we do (like feeding starving children, building hospitals, establishing schools etc). And to a great extent, it’s our own fault.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand against strip clubs – not at all! But isn’t it a shame that people are used to hearing us scream out against what is wrong with the world, but rarely see us sacrificing – in the spirit and power of Jesus – to make things right? They know our political views well, but are ignorant of our good works. Could it be that we are lacking in the latter?

James 2:14-17 says, "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no [good] works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. "

And Jesus commands "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food let him do likewise." (Luke 3:11)

Believers, we need to consider how our “good works” are meant to be seen – especially in those things we should do to help the poor and starving of this world. Jesus said, in Matthew 5:16, “"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.” How is your life doing that? Could it be that God wants you to re-evaluate your priorities and your spending and to think again abut how people see your faith in action? Does God want our church to take a more active role in reaching out to meet the practical needs of those around our neighborhoods and around the world – even as we continue to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ? May God help us to live in such a way that people see what we stand for...not just what we stand against.

In Matthew 25, Jesus presents a disturbing picture of the final judgment. I believe he does so to wake us up to our responsibility to the hurting in this world. Beginning in v 31 he says,

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'

"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'

"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'

"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

And then notice the last line. Here is where Jesus interprets the whole parable for us. Then "These (who had not concern for the hurting of the world) will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous (who showed concern for the hurting) into eternal life."

Now, I don't think this parable teaches salvation by works -- you know, do good things and God has to accept you. No, that would contradict virtually everything else Jesus said about salvation and how he came to save the lost by giving his life as a payment for their sins. But what this passage does tell us is that when Christ saves you, the new life of righteousness he gives will be seen in the sacrificial service that results from it. Or as Eph 2:10 says, "We are God's workmanship created for good works in Christ, which God prepared in advance that we should do."

My prayer is that we will think hard about these sorts of things as we look for ways to make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting. For surely, Jesus not only hates the lustful immorality and exploitation of the strip club, but he also has a deep love and concern for the "least of these" who suffer in this world. As Isaiah says.... “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters fail not."

May God be greatly glorified in our transformed lives

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Hating Divorce, but loving the divorced!"

“ I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel”
Malachi 2:16

I've found there are two people who truly hate divorce. God and anybody who's ever been through one! God hates divorce, first, because it violates His design for marriage as the exclusive covenant of love between one man and one woman for life. A covenant that is meant to reflect the heart of Christ's love for his church, and her joy-filled response to Him. (Eph 5:22-33) And second, God hates divorce because it rips families apart. And God loves families (see the rest of Malachi 2)

But anyone who’s ever been through a divorce learns to hate it just as well. As a preacher, I know that anytime I begin to touch on the subject of divorce, it’s like ripping the scab off an old wound for many people. Divorce is a wound! It’s a painful, heart-wrenching, devastating thing that tears right through the middle of a person’s life. Someone has observed that a divorce is more traumatic, emotionally, than even the death of a spouse. Death brings a clean kind of pain. Yes, they left you, but they really didn’t want to! Divorce, by contrast, is a dirty, mangled pain filled with rage and betrayal as it separates those who promised never to part.

And so the question is, how should we as the people of God, respond to divorce and all the pain and harm it brings into the lives of people we know and love? As I've thought about this, I found John Piper's helpful comment that we do so in two distinct ways to be right on target (though I do not quote him exactly here)

1) We respond to divorce with love and care for those who are suffering from it’s pain We stand by them as they grieve. We help them see the need to repent of any sin they have committed as part of the process leading up to and resulting in divorce. And then we urge them to be reconcile to their former spouse where that is possible. And when it's not possible, we lovingly help them rebuild their broken lives by the grace of God that's offered so freely in Jesus. Divorce is a tragedy filled with sin, but it's not the unforgivable sin.

2) We respond to divorce by standing firm and saying clearly that God hates it! We remain clear that every divorce is rooted in sin and therefore violates God’s will and God’s purpose for marriage! It is not something anyone who makes any pretense of having faith in Christ can enter lightly, or treat casually. It is an admission of defeat, and a concession that sin has gotten the upper hand. And so with God we say, we hate it because of all the pain and anguish it brings into people's lives and the harm it brings to families. And then we do everything we can to help prevent divorce by seeking to build up strong and grace-filled marriages, being attentive to the needs of our spouses, holding one another accountable in the fellowship of Christ's church and seeking in all things to walk in the meekness and love of Christ in our relationship with one another.

Standing up to fight with you,
Pastor Scott Lee

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's a Miracle Every Time God does it!

Salvation is always a miracle. It's as dramatic as the creation of the universe or the raising of the dead (Eph 1:18-21). Every time we see God bring someone to Himself, it's cause for great rejoicing (Luke 15:7).

The short note below is from my sister, Gina, concerning her daughter Cheyenne. Cheyenne has Asperger's Syndrome -- which is related to autism. It often results in someone who has a really hard time "getting it" socially, so they tend to say and do things that "cross the line" and even insult others without knowing it.

Asperger's people have a hard time grasping such things as how close to stand to someone when you talk to them -- or even that it's polite to wait and listen to them when they talk, after you've had your say. They have to be taught not to say things like, "Wow, you've got bad B.O.!" When it's OK to talk, and when it's time to shut up and let someone else have the floor, etc. And it's not just the natural childishness all children have, it is an inability in the brain to process the signal coming from "outside of me" and realize, "Hey there are other people out there like me with feelings and needs I must respond to!" Even though they can be quite intelligent, such children struggle in social situations trying to do the most common things that you and I simply take for granted. And then, because people do not understand their "odd" behavior, they often feel like outcasts.

Any way, Cheyenne and her family have had their share of these kinds of struggles over the years at school, at church, etc. make a long story short, you can read for yourself the following little note and then rejoice with me as you keep her in prayer:

Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all of your prayers for Cheyenne & her salvation. She wanted me to help her pray last night (in her words, "like Uncle Scott prayed with you, Mom"!). After we prayed, she had such a look on her face that I can't describe (huge tears, but the biggest smile) and said she had never been so happy before - it was even better than Christmas! She wanted to tell everyone about it (before when she would talk about it with me & pray, she didn't want to tell anyone). Now she seems sure of her salvation and is just so happy!!! God has also given her the courage this week to talk to some of her friends about Jesus & being saved. She wants to keep doing that! So, again, thanks for all the prayers & keep praying that she will grow in Christ and stay close to Him.

Love you,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thank God for Those Who Serve

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 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. - Romans 13:1-7

This morning I participated as moderator of a breakfast meeting held to honor those who have served our nation and community in the Armed services and as Firemen and Policemen. My part was to introduce the speaker, Bro Rick Needham. Wow! What a great job he did.

Rick is a dear brother with an interesting past. I knew that he had served for years as an army chaplain. I had no idea how extensive that service was. I suppose it was his modestly that kept him from ever mentioning that he retired as a Lt Colonel and that he served with, among others, the 10th Mountain Division. I don't know that much about our military divisions, but I do know those guys are the real deal! After his military service Rick, who is an ordained Nazarene Pastor, came into the glories of the Doctrine's of God's Grace and now serves as pastor in a community church not too far from our congregation. It's been a real privilege to get to know him

As I say, Rick did a fantastic job. My heart was moved by his deep and passionate desire to see people come to a saving knowledge of Christ -- both within and outside the military. More than once he said, "I love our soldiers and long to see them come to Christ!" Lord, that's my prayer as well.

Overall, it was a great meeting. Most of those in attendance are men who retired from the various services - both domestic and military. It was a great honor to be able to express to them our gratitude for their faithful years of service.

May God bless all who wear the uniform and their families...and above all, may he bring them to a saving knowledge of His marvelous grace in Christ. And while I'm on it, would you who read this remember to pray for my dear friend, Dave Davis, as he serves our country in Iraq alongside so many other brave men and women? And remember his wife Vikki, and their two dear children as well.

By God's grace and for His glory!

Pastor Scott Lee

Thursday, August 30, 2007

All About Me?

“For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself "
Romans 14:7

Our age has been called the “me generation” for a very good reason – since the moment we broke out of the womb, we have insisted on putting ourselves first! Now, I know that most of us would like to think that’s only true of other people – we, at least, don’t act that way! But amazingly I’ve found that more and more people today not only admit they are self-centered, they honestly believe it’s a good thing!

Two recent surveys, one in the US and the other in Britain, show that more than half of college aged young people believe the slogan that says “It’s all about me.” When asked which is more important, to give of yourself for the good of society or to look out for yourself first, more than half pledged themselves to the “me first” philosophy.

The results of this approach to life are, of course, predictable. In such an atmosphere marriages will continue to fail – its hard to stay married when you believe that the purpose of such an arrangement is to “meet your needs.” (What happens when the other person fails to do so? Call a lawyer!) Friendships will continually falter because self-centered people can’t ever get along! (How many “Hollywood deals” have fallen apart because of the inability of massive egos to occupy the same space?) And churches will continue to divide. (When everyone believes its “about me” no one can win.)

But this really is nothing new, is it? Selfishness has always been the natural response of the sinful heart! But Christ came to take away our sin and to give us new lives and new attitudes that result in new relationships – not only with Him, but with each other, as well! May God give us grace to begin to live in a way that builds up, rather than tears up the body of Christ.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My thoughts exactly!

OK, I'm not usually into plagiarism, but in this case I think I'll make an exception. John Piper's latest "Taste and See" article was so "dead on" that I immediately wanted to forward it to our entire congregation. But instead of doing that, let me simply post it here. Rockport, read this article and everywhere you see the word "Bethlehem" substitute in "Rockport" and you'll get the benefit of an excellent message from one of God's servants. Here is

Pastors, Pragmatism, Pleasure, and Pride

By John Piper August 22, 2007

My calling on the staff at Bethlehem includes the charge to study and preach the Scriptures, to sharpen and shout the vision, and to sound the bell of warning when there is danger ahead. So on our recent pastors’ prayer and planning retreat, I rang the bell three times. Of course, there is always danger ahead. So there was nothing unusual about this. The Bible is strewn with ever-relevant warnings. And I felt that three were urgent. Actually, there are two warnings, and one positive exhortation. Here is a summary of what I said. Please pray this for yourselves and for us on the staff.

1. Beware of the idolatry of pragmatism (2 Chronicles 28:19-27).

Ahaz, king of Israel, “had made Judah act sinfully and had been very unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:19). So the king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him. Ahaz tried to take portions from the house of the Lord to placate the Assyrian king. It did not work. His folly he became more foolish, and he “sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him” (v. 23). Incredible! He sacrificed to the enemy’s gods! Why? What made this king tick?

Answer: “For he and said, ‘Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me’” (v. 23). In other words, it looks like prayer to the gods of Syria worked. So if it worked for them, it might work for me. This is pragmatism in its rawest form. The idolatry of pragmatism. Pragmatism worships what works. The end of Ahaz’s story: His sacrifices “were the ruin of him and of all Israel” (v. 23).

Beware, Bethlehem, of sacrificing truth and holiness on the altar of what seems to work. Things are not what they seem. Instead of pragmatism . . .

2. “Welcome the love of the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

That’s a literal translation of the last clause of 2 Thessalonians 2:10: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” They did not “welcome the love of the truth that they might be saved.” If a person does not love the truth, he is not saved.” Loving truth is one of the sure fruits of the justified life.

What happens in the end to those who will not welcome a love of truth into their lives? Paul says, “God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (vv. 11-12).

That last phrase is astonishing. We spent a good while as a staff unpacking it for our ministry. Paul contrasts “believing the truth” not with disbelief but with “pleasure in unrighteousness.” In other words, wherever anyone considers Jesus and rejects him, it is not owing merely to an intellectual conclusion but, more deeply, to stronger pleasure, namely, “pleasure in unrighteousness.” The fallen human mind is not a neutral observer of Christ. People do not believe in the light because they love the darkness (John 3:19). Love. Take pleasure in. The pleasure of sin is the alternative to loving the truth. So, Bethlehem, love the truth. Flee the idolatry of pragmatism, and love the truth.

3. Beware of pride which brings destruction (2 Chronicles 26).

Uzziah became king of Judah when he was sixteen. He reigned 52 years. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. . . . He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:4-5). He became very strong and everywhere he went God helped him. But then the constant and thudding theme of the Old Testament happened again. The best kings fail.

“His fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” (vv. 15-16). His God-given success proved to be his ruin! He became proud. And his pride expressed itself in feeling himself to be above the law and above criticism. So he entered the temple to do what only the priests were allowed to do.

Azariah and eighty priests who were “men of valor” confronted the king in the name of the Lord. “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. . . . Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God” (v. 18). When Uzziah became angry, God struck him with leprosy in his face, and he lived the rest of his life in a separate house as a leper (v. 21).

Bethlehem, God has strengthened us. We are at risk of this leprosy: “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” What then shall we do? I said two things to the staff: 1) Never let me be above criticism and correction. I invite you to give me constructive criticism whenever you see some attitude or words or actions that dishonor the Lord. 2) Stay close to the cross and never cease to be amazed and thankful that you are saved. People who are perpetually and thankfully amazed that God has saved them are not likely to be destroyed by pride.

Pray for us concerning these three P’s: The idolatry of pragmatism that ruins the church; the pleasure in unrighteousness that refuses to love the truth; and the pride of being strong that leads to destruction.

Leaning on the purifying power of ever-arriving future grace,

Pastor John

I could not have said it better myself!

In Jesus,
Pastor Scott Lee

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Lordship of Christ

“For to this end Christ died and lived again,
that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
Romans 14:9

Jesus Christ is Lord! That’s the most basic truth that undergirds every Christian’s faith. Jesus is not only a Savior from sin, He is the Lord of life! I remember the first time this verse really took hold of me. It was when Brother Lew Miller preached at our church, Rockport Baptist, for the first time, back in the mid 1990's. Oh sure, I’d read Romans 14 several times over the years. But have you ever had the experiencing of something suddenly becoming clear to you in a way it hadn’t been before? That’s what it was like for me that day.

I’d known since the moment I'd become a Christian, that Jesus is Lord and that I must strive to obey Him in every area of my life. I knew it was impossible to be a Christian and at the same time refuse to follow Jesus. Nor could I honestly claim to belong to Him and yet continue in a lifestyle of Christ-dishooring sin (see 1 John 3). I’d even read John MacArthur’s wonderful, if somewhat controversial, book, “The Gospel According to Jesus” and found myself in full agreement with pretty much everything he said. But somehow Lew’s words came home to me that day with great power. I remember he said, “Jesus came into this world to be Lord! And what does Lord mean? It means ‘Boss’! Jesus has come to be the 'Boss' of your life, Christian! He’s the Boss Jesus Christ! He's the One you must follow and obey! And if He’s not your Boss, then He’s not your Savior either!”

Wow that really hit me! I’d shared the Gospel with a lot of people over the years, many of whom were willing to “pray the prayer”, but that’s about as far as it went! God was showing me again, that salvation does not come down to saying a prayer or going to church, it comes down to a supernatural work of God that causes us to surrender to Christ the Lord Who is mighty enough to save and worthy enough to rule all who repent and put their whole trust in Him!

Since those days I've come to see that this is the teaching of the entire New Testament. That Christ rules the lives of those He save, and that the saved love it that way. And that even when we fail to obey as we must, it always remains our desire to do so, knowing that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)

May we continually bow our knees and joyfully confess that "Jesus Christ is Lord" to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11)

For Him,

Pastor Scott Lee

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Justification and Regeneration" by Bro. Charles Leiter

Charles Leiter is a friend of mine and a man who, in God’s wonderful providence, has had a big impact on my life and especially on my understanding of Scripture. So you can imagine how excited I was when the news broke that HeartCry Missionary Society had finally published his book on the subject of “Justification and Regeneration.” Now if you’re like a lot of Christians today, that title won’t have you running to the bookstore to try and buy a copy for yourself– it just sounds too academic (besides, the book is only available on HeartCry's website -- But even though the title sounds merely academic, nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve rarely found a book – other than the Bible – to be so filled with such a high degree of Christ-centered, soul-liberating truth as this one.

Brother Charles has managed to put in a very brief and readable way, some of what I consider to be the New Testament’s most basic and important teaching on the nature of salvation. Here, a believer will learn not only what Christ has done to rescue sinners, but also how this marvelous work of salvation has set us free from sin’s power and liberated us forever to live new lives to the praise of God’s glorious grace.

For example, Bro. Leiter says on pages 106 - 107,

“In practical terms . . . Christians are not laboring to achieve a life that they do not yet have or to obtain a victory that has not yet been won. They are participants in the very life of Christ and in the victory He has already won. Christian, you are a partaker of the resurrection life of Christ, and He has already defeated and broken the power of the sin that you are facing right now – by His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension! As a participant in His life, your calling is not to try to achieve something for yourself that He has not achieved, but to believe what He has already done for you and to walk in it. In this way you will be enabled to fight “the good fight of faith” instead of the miserable struggle of unbelief!

The same is true of our battle against the powers of darkness. We constantly need to be reminded of the fact that Satan has already been defeated by Christ on the cross and that “in Christ” we are seated “far above” all the hosts of evil.” We should read Ephesians 6:12 in light of this present reality: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the [defeated] rulers, against the [dethroned] powers, against the [subjugated] world forces of this darkness, against the [vanquished] spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" As we humbly "submit ourselves to God and resist the devil," we have the promise that even this roaring lion will "flee" before God's otherwise defenseless sheep! Glory to God!" (emphasis in the original)

I cannot recommend this wonderful book strongly enough. Go get yours today!

In Jesus,

S. Scott Lee

PS - Just to wet your appetite, here are the chapter titles from "Justification and Regeneration" Sin: Man's Ultimate Problem; Can a Man Be Right Before God; Justification: It's Characteristics; Regeneration: All Things New; A New Creation; A New Man; A New Heart; A New Birth; A New Nature; Crucifixion and Resurrection; A Change of Realms: Flesh to Spirit; A Change of Realms: Earth to Heaven; A Change of Realms: Sin to Righteousness; A Change of Realms: Law to Grace; A Change of Realms: Adam to Christ.

In addition, Brother Charles includes four helpful appendices to a) summarize his teaching; b)to help explain the much debated Romans 7; c) to explain what John means when he says a Christian "Cannot Sin"; and d) to give a marvelous run down of all the blessings that are ours "in Christ." That last one alone would be worth the price of the book! Go get yours today!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Love is Hard

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,
even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another."
John 13:34-35

Sitting at the heart of the Christian faith is a command to love! We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19); and we love each other because He is in us (1 Jn 4:7-8). Loving, in fact, begins within the fellowship of the church! One way to think of it is to see that both our families and our church are meant to be “nurseries of love.” That is, these are the places where we must learn how to give and receive real love!

There are differences between them, of course. Love comes quite naturally within a family – at least at first. And love tends to remain in a family unless something terrible happens to rip it apart (which is tragically all too common today). But within the church it’s different. When you first enter a new church fellowship, there is an attraction, certainly. All Christians share a common bond that draws us together in Christ. But no matter how strong that bond may be, there are other factors that tend to work against it: Different temperaments and backgrounds; different ways of thinking and doing things; different likes and dislikes. All these conspire to make loving each other hard, especially when any kind of conflict develops.

One thing I’ve come to see over the years, is that God allows believers to experience a certain amount of conflict in their relationships for a very simple reason. When there is perfect agreement between us, love doesn’t have to work very hard. It’s easy to love you when we see eye to eye on everything. But it’s when we have struggle to understand each other and have to fight to hear what the other is saying and why, that love’s muscles get their needed exercise. It’s when we begin to irritate one another just a bit, that love must be consciously practiced. That's true in your natural family, it's true in your church family as well.

I think one of the biggest mistakes believers make today is assuming, like a very foolish young husband once told me he assumed, that "Love should be easy. We shouldn't have to work at it so hard." How foolish indeed. All human love involves work -- usually hard work. It involves patience and tears and prayers, and saying "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you". It requires walking with Christ by faith, and continuing to walk with Him until something of His power to love "rubs off" on us and can be seen in us as we relate to one another. Without that real love cannot exist.

May God help us learn the practice of this Christ-like love as we continue to walk with Him.

Learning to love and be loved in Jesus!

Pastor Scott

Monday, July 2, 2007

Holiday Mesages and Invitations

One of the newsgroups I'm part of was having a discussion about whether or not pastor's should preach "holiday messages" on Mother's Day, etc, and whether every message must have a gospel invitation. For what it's worth, here are my two bits.

As far as holiday sermons are concerned, after 16 years of pastoring the same church, I think I've said about all I can about "Mother's Day", etc...and I have rarely seen any real Kingdom benefit come out of giving into Hallmark Card Sentimentality . Instead, it's long been my practice to preach verse by verse through God's Word. When a message coincides well with a Holiday, like it did this past week (We were in Romans 13:1-6 and it was near the 4th of July!) that's wonderful. If not, I may mention the cultural event, but little more. Above all I want to make it my goal to build solid truth into the lives of our people with the same balance and emphasis that I find in the Word. Now, having said that, I may sometimes take advantage of a Holiday to speak on biblical themes related to them, but I do not feel bound or constrained to do so. As a baptist I do not feel bound by any sort of liturgical calendar (catholic or cultural)

As far as 'invitations' are concerned, it surely must come down to what is meant by such. I have seen some so-called invitations which were ungodly, manipulative attempts to wrest a "decision" out of people who'd not been told the Gospel and had no idea what they were "deciding for". Ever since Charles Finney introduced his so-called "new measures" with the idea of developing methods that could be used to 'draw the net" and "bring people in"...ever since those days some preachers have believed it was in their own power to force a change upon the heart and so press for that which only God can give through the power of the Gospel.

But, if by invitation what is meant is calling on people with passion to hear and apply the Gospel Word they've just heard, and turn from sin to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who lived, died nad rose again, to flee from the wrath to come and put their whole hope in nothing but Christ's finished work on the cross -- well then, praise the Lord -- and why wait to the "end" of the sermon for such urging? Why not at any and every point in the message where the Scriptures point to Christ?

Just my two bits....

Pastor Scott
To God be the Glory,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Real Love

Let love be without hypocrisy.
Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Romans 12:9

What do Christians do? Christians love each another. At least, that’s what Jesus said in John 13:35. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is the authenticating mark of real Christianity. By that I mean, the way you know you’ve been in the presence of real Christians – and not just people who pretend to know Jesus – is by the love they share for one another. The apostle John said the same thing in 1 John 4:7-8,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

How important is it to have love for fellow believers? It’s so important that having such love is proof that you belong to Jesus and not having it shows that you don’t. That’s why Paul says that “love must be without hypocrisy”, that is, it must be genuine and unfaked. A fake love, like a pretend faith, does nothing. And that’s the point.

Real love – genuine Christian love – is active! It’s not just a feeling you get once in a while, it’s a motivation for ministry. It moves you to take action for the good of those you love. People who love one another share in each other’s burdens. They join together to fight the evil and confront the sins they know would bring harm to each other’s lives if left unchecked. By their actions they seek to bring good to one another, to meet each other’s real needs; and to heal each other’s hurts with the grace and compassion of Jesus.

May God fan such love into a flame in our fellowship here at Rockport!

Learning to love you for His sake!
Pastor Scott Lee

Sexual Sins

Flee immorality.
Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body,

but the immoral man sins against his own body.
1 Corinthians 6:18

Sin is sin. But not every sin destroys in the same way or carries the same consequences. Some sins are “worse” than others because of the destruction they bring into our lives, or the harm they cause other people. For example, if I get angry and shout an unkind word at my friend, Tom, that’s sin. I shouldn’t have done it. But if in my anger I shoot Tom in the head, that’s much worse! Now I’ve committed murder and the consequences for myself and others will be far more serious (especially for poor Tom!).

Contrary to what most think today, sexual immorality is that kind of serious sin that always brings devastating consequences. You play with fire, you will be burned. That’s true whether we’re talking about the man who views pornography, the young couple engaging in premarital sex, or those caught up in adultery and homosexuality, the result of all such sins is a form of spiritual suicide (see Romans 1:18-32)

Does that sound too harsh? Listen to what the apostle Paul said in 1 Thess 4:8. As he was urging fellow believers to stay clear of all immoral behavior he warned that the one “who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.” In other words, when you choose to engage in sexual sin, you choose to reject God! You show that you’d rather have the temporary thrill that titillates the body for a moment, at the expense of the infinite satisfaction that comes from the God who made your body and gave it to you so you could glorify and enjoy Him forever!

I think maybe that’s why 1 Cor 6:18 warns that such sins are “against” the body. It is taking what God made for our good – our sexuality – and using it as a weapon to reject Him and cheat ourselves of the ultimate satisfaction that can only come by embracing the purity of Christ (a purity that includes the joy of sexual experience in the confines of marriage). This past weekend at Rockport, we attempted to teach our men many of the basic Gospel principles for walking in the joy of biblical holiness. That’s not easy in a perverse culture like ours where temptations jump out from every dark corner. So pray for our men (and women) as we seek to be conformed to the beauty of Christ and to see our marriage and lives transformed into His image through grace.

Growing with you by His Holiness.

Pastor Scott Lee

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New Life

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,
to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God
in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

The Christian life is a completely new kind of life. It’s not just the old life dressed up a bit where the regenerate believer– poor sinner that you still are – must spend your time and effort trying to be good so you can become something you're not. It’s a whole new kind of life that grows out of the fact that God really has done something wonderful for you in Christ. He's really saved you out of your old life of sin, and brought you to a whole new life in Christ. That old person you used to be is gone forever (2 Cor 5:17) He or she died with Christ, and by the power of His resurrection, a new life has risen to take place of the old. Romans 6:5-11 says it this way:

5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

(and then the pay off verse....)

11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Now that's the truth about the person who is born again through the supernatural grace at work in the Gospel. You are a new creature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). You've died with Christ to your old life and have been raised up with Him to walk in a completely new life.

For that reason, the Bible constantly commands us to consciously take up the new life we have been given "in Him."

"Be who you are!” is God’s command to the Christian; not “Try to become something you’re not!” The Christian doesn’t pretend to be holy. He or she really is holy in Christ -- set apart by Him and for Him to live for His glory. My goal in life now is to live out the truth of what God has done for me in Christ. That means that I am being truest to my (new) self when I’m walking with Jesus and living in His holiness to the glory of God, confessing my sins when I do stumble while being renewed day by day through His power at work in me.

That’s why the apostle commands us, in Ephesians 4, to do three things. Notice how these go together

1) He says, “Put off your old self.”
You’re no longer that person you used to be. So just like you would throw away an old pair of jeans that are full of holes and no longer fit, take off that old life and throw it away. It no longer fits who you are in Christ. (See Ephesians 4:17-24)

2) He says, “Get a new attitude about yourself.”
Let the Bible (not the world) tell you who you are and teach you how to live. Believe what God says is true of you in Christ, and then act on it. (see Romans 12:1-2)

3) “Put on your new self” which is your “true self” in Christ.
Begin to live and act like someone who really does belong to God; who really has been redeemed by Christ; and really is indwelt with the Holy Spirit of Grace. Why? Because all that's really true, if you've been born again by the power of the Gospel and brought to faith in Christ.

It is through these “baby steps” -- as you set your mind on being what God really has made you in Christ -- that you begin to see the power of this new life at work in you. Through faith in Christ and what Christ has actually done (both objectively on the cross and subjectively in our lives), you and I are being equipped to live out the life that is truly ours because of Him!

Loving the journey as we learn what it means to walk together with Him!

Pastor Scott Lee

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Final Romania Post

Dear Family and Friends,

Of course, by now I realize that I've done this all backwards. OK, I'm new at blogging. I didn't think about the fact that my blogs would be listed in the order I posted that if you read through them the way they are arranged, you'll be going backwards. Oh well.....

Here is the last entry (if you want them in order, skip down to #1 and work your way up)

I've been unable to write to you again since we were traveling from place to place in Romania. I'm home now. We got back last night, I spent a little time with my family and then passed out for about 11 hours of much needed sleep. There's a ton of stuff on my desk that needs attention -- as you can imagine -- but I had to take just a minute to jot a quick note of praise to God!

The Lord was with us every step of the way! After my last email we finished the conference in Brasov. The Lord helped in such a powerful way -- I really do think we were able to offer the students some help in dealing with sin and growing up into this new life that God has give through Christ. They were very appreciative and there were many tears as we left. Many pastors in Romania, it seems, do not shepherd in the sense that they do not take time to nurture the lives of the people. Many have become administrators. I do not mean to imply that they are not good men. I have met very many who are deeply committed to Christ. But they have taken on so many responsibilities -- often for administrating American backed "causes" and para-church endeavors -- that they are left with little or not time to be shepherds in any biblical sense of that term. So when we come and take time to teach and to talk with young people and pray with them, is a bit overwhelming for them. Pray God will bring biblical change to the churches in Romania -- they have picked up a lot of bad habits from American churches -- many of the same things we're concerned about here have been carried over there by the bucket load! I fear a lot of our "church growth" silly-ness has been imposed on them.

After Brasov we traveled across the tops of some of the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen -- snow covered peaks and 1800's type alpine villages for miles all around us. We then descended down in to Cumpalung to stay with a dear family -- one of the sweetest I've ever known. They were an important "pipleline" for Bibles and funds being smuggled into Romania back under communism (their daughter was one of our translators -- and boy is she good at what she does!). I preached to the church there. God really helped me to give a message on the reality of a God-sent conversion as opposed to someone merely making "a decision for Christ". When God does it, it's real. As I say, God really helped. The family we stayed with were thrilled. They are so tired of American "decisionism" and said they were so happy to finally hear the Gospel preached clearly. What a gracious God to let me experience such friendship and kindness!

From there we went to Putuasa (it means brimstone). A friend, Bro Mike Durham was supposed to preach there and we were to have supper with him -- as so often happens in Romania he was late so Bro Mike and I each spoke a few words to the congregation and then, just as our friend arrived had to leave to get back to Bucharest and prepare for our flight early the next day.

Got to Bucharest late -- about 11:30, could not sleep. Had to get up at 3 AM to get to the Airport by 4 AM. Flew for about 18 hours total -- got home, got some really wonderful sleep. And now......can't wait to see you all

God is so good to treat a sinner like me so very well for Christ's sake!

S. Scott Lee
Soli Deo Gloria

Romania Report #5 - Saturday April 21st

Dear Family,

Another two wonderful days of conference. We have about 75 students crammed into a very small upper room. They were expecting about 50. They are like the others -- very hungry for truth and filled with questions. I've really experienced the help of the Holy Spirit here as I've taught. There has been great freedom to speak on our freedom in Christ from Romans 6. It has been amazing to see God at work.

Tomorrow we finish this conference (Sunday morning). Then we will load up and travel to Cumpalung (I'm not sure of the spelling). We will then preach in the evening service in the church in that town.

We've been able to spend some great time with old friends (Ruxi, Bagdon, Ionutz, Little Adi, and Alex). It's been good to get to know Alex's three children. The boys (10 and 12) said they like having us with them. Also, I beat them both at pingpong! I'm just glad there are no Lovings here!....that way I can win!

I will write again if I am able.

Love to you all.

Love especially to my girls!

Romania Report #4 - Thursday, April 19th

Dear Family,

We are now in Brasov. One of my favorite Romanian cities!! For those who know him, Ionutz is here with us. We had quite a time getting here. Romanian roads are tough any way, but this time there was constant construction. But we are here. Praise the Lord

Our conference begins tomorrow. I will write you more then

God bless you all

Romania Report #3 - Wednesday April 18th

Dear Family,
God has been very good. We've had a great meeting today with the students. God let us renew many old friendships, offer biblical counsel on some difficult personal issues, and see some break thoughts by the power of God's word. I am so happy to see that God has brought my dear friends into a fuller grasp of the doctrines of God's wonderful grace! They are much further along that I had imagined. God has been showing them so much.

I also had a long and wonderful conversation with our friend Adi -- Aaron and Bob will remember him -- and find that he too has come to see the joy of sovereign grace. It's wonderful to see so many rejecting this "pray this prayer" evangelism that is so common over here (and in the states) and coming to see that Salvation is an act of God's grace in changing the heart and bringing faith in Christ alone as Savior and Lord. Praise our wonderful Lord.

And oh yes, Adi and his wife have a beautiful new baby girl!

God is so good. Can't wait to see you all. We leave for Brasov in the morning (an 8 hour drive over mountain roads) so please pray for us
It's very late and I must sleep.
I continue to pray for you all
With much love

Post #2 From Romania -- Tuesday, April 17

Dear Family and Friends,
We had a really great time today. Brother Mike and I both preached twice to the students. The turnout was lower than they were hoping (many are just arriving back from Easter break), but still it was a blessed time. We were able to renew acquaintances with several friends from two years ago when Aaron, Bob and Kim were with us. I can't wait to share it all with you
Really tired and ready for bed. Another long day tomorrow
Love to you all -- especially to my girls

Romania Report #1

Dear Friends and Family,

While in Romania I was able to send emails to our newsgroup, but was unable to post to my "blog." The next several entries will be "catch up" from the mission trip -- ie, I'm going to submit slightly edited versions of the emails I sent to our church family.

Entry #1 - Monday, April 16th from Timisoara Romania

We're here and we're safe. Had a great time of worship and preaching Sunday. I preached three times -- once at Holy Trinity (the big church in Bucharest) for their early service. Then in a service with Brother Moise and the gypsies. Please pray for them. He is very depressed. There are many problems facing him and the families of his church right now. Pray for one family in particular who have endured the pain of having a daughter turn away into a life of sin.

Later that afternoon I had the joy of preaching at Glina, again with Brother Nae. It was a very full and lively service. God gave a lot of help. I love the gypsies! They are very appreciative of you all and the help you've given and told me more than once to express that to you.

One very sad note. The community and church at Mama India have been destroyed! The government came in and bull-dozed the church and school and most of the homes. They say the gypsies have no right to be there. The problem is they have not "right" to be anywhere according to Romanian law because they are poor and have no claim on the land. It is very sad. I stood there with one of the men I met two years ago as we prayed, and he wept and wept. I have taken pictures (see above). It is all very shocking! There were 100 children attending the little school there -- many of them have an opportunity to get a basic education for the first time ever. Now all but 20 are gone. "Where?" I asked. No one knows. Some had moved into a forest, living in hand made "tents" of tree limbs, but the government came and chased them away from there as well. Now they have scattered to who knows where. Pray for God's help and for justice.

We did get to spend a little time with Bro Paul Washer and Sorin on Saturday and Sunday. They returned to the states today (Monday). We have just driven over 10 hours to get to Timisoara. This is where Bebe and Ani Tomeci life. I'm with them now. We will begin our conference in the morning. It is now midnight and I must get to bed. Please pray for us.

Love to you all. I'm praying for you as well. Do not let the enemy gain a foot hold in any area. Our God is greater than the devil. He will give us the victory. In the Apostles John's words, "Little children, love one another".

In Jesus
S. Scott Lee
Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Passion for Missions

God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us
That Your way may be known on the earth,
Your salvation among all nations. (Ps 67:1-2)

The theme of Psalm 67, like the theme of the whole Bible, is missions! It is a prayer that God would bless us so that through us the nations might come to know and worship Him! From that, I take this important truth: The reason God blesses His people is never just so we can be blessed. It is always so that we might use His blessing to make Him known in the earth!

When God called Abraham, in Genesis 12, He made this promise. He said “I will bless you and you will be a blessing” It was God’s purpose to bless Abraham. Why? Because, He goes on to say, “in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed” In other words, God’s purpose in blessing Abraham was that ultimately through him, a blessing (salvation in Jesus) would go out to the nations! Notice that! God’s goal was the nations. The way He accomplished that goal was through Abraham. So God blessed Abraham and made him a blessing, so that through him, God would be known in all the earth!

That’s what I want our church to understand. I want us to see that that Missions is at the heart of everything God does, which means that missions is at the heart of what it means to be Christian! That means the church that does not have missions at the center of its life and activity cannot claim to be a true church, and the Christian who does not have a passion for missions burning in his/her heart cannot claim to be a true disciple of Christ.

That’s the big picture! This is what God is doing on planet earth right now! He’s raising up a people for Himself, blessing them with joy in His Son, and then sending them out to the nations to might make his glories known! May God bless us and cause His face to shine on us, that His name may be known in all the earth!

In His Mercy
S. Scott Lee

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Let me glorify God with all that I have!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.- 1 Corinthians 10:31

Stewardship is about a lot more than just money. It includes money and possessions, but it is not mainly about money and possessions. Stewardship involves your life and your time, as well. It’s what you do in your “off moments” as well how you spend your “on the clock” time. It is a matter, Paul says in 1 Cor 10:31 of doing “whatever you do to the glory of God”

“That’s Stewardship.” It is a commitment of my life to God, not just my things. I think of 2 Cor 8:5 where Paul commends the Macedonian believers who gave themselves to God first, and then gave their possessions. It was a matter of priority. God does not need our help. He does not desire our things, as if He was dependent on us or needed us to give to Him before He can get His will done (Acts 17:25). He doesn’t need us. But God delights to see our hearts so value Him and His Kingdom that our priority is to glorify Him with all that we have. He loves to see it when we gladly use our things – our time, our efforts, our possessions, our all – for Him.

As one of our elders, Will Jackson, said to me in an email the other day: Stewardship is “much bigger” than just putting a check in the offering plate. “It is taking someone in and letting them sleep in a spare bedroom..., or getting close to a neighbor who is out of work so you can help him..., or helping the poor in downtown Saint Louis..., or keeping your old car a little longer so you can help someone else buy a new one they need.... or it may mean something radical!” That is the biblical idea of stewardship – seeing everything you have and everything you are as being at the disposal of the Master! That's the kind of man I want to be. That's the kind of church I want our congregation to be! That's the kind of people I want my children to be! So that, in whatever we do, we do it all for the glory of God.

Seeking Him for God Glorifying Grace!!

Scott Lee

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"God is Able" to make giving a joy!

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all contentment in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work”.
2 Corinthians 9:8

“God is able.” Those have to be three of my favorite words in the whole Bible. In fact, several of my favorite passages begin with these same, or very similar words of encouragement. For example, consider, the following passages:

“God . . .is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32

“[God] is able to strengthen you according to my gospel” Rm 16:25

“[God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Eph 3:20

“He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Tim 1:12

“He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Heb 2:18

“He [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him” Heb 7:25

“[God] is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy. Jude 24

Now the thing that absolutely thrills my heart as I look at all these verses, is the astounding realization that not one of them depends on me for its fulfillment. In each and every case I am being told something God will do in my life as I put my trust in Him!

God will "build me up and give me an inheritance" among the saints. (Acts 20:32).
God will "strengthen me" according to the gospel (Rm 16:25).
God will "do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20)
God will "guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Tim 1:12)
God will “come my aid" when I am tempted. (Heb 2:18)
God in Christ will "save me completely" (Heb 7:25)
God will "keep me from stumbling, and to make me stand in the presence of His glory
blameless with great joy."
(Jude 24)

All these things God will do, as I put my trust in Him and rest in His all-sovereign ability.

And then there is this matter of giving in 2 Cor 9:8. The larger passage says,

6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

Somehow we forget that the God who is able to save us from death and make us alive spiritually in Christ Jesus, is also able to supply all our needs physically as he teaches us to live a new life of open-handed generosity. In other words, God gives us all we need for His Kingdom and Glory! So why is giving what God has provided so darn hard? Why do we treat the things we own, as though they were the key to our supply of daily bread? Could it be because, like Calvin said, we are by nature idolaters at heart? Could it be that we find it easier to trust God for things we can't see -- like heaven -- but harder to trust him for what we can see -- like money and possessions? It's as though we believe God is able to save us from sin and take us to heaven -- and we know it because He's promised -- but we're not too sure he can provide for our needs physically and give us all we need "for every good work" -- as He has also promised in the very same Bible. (Or maybe we're just afraid he won't supply us in the manner in which we are sinfully accustomed?)

It's an age old problem. As far back as the prophet Malachi, God was urging His people, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows." (Malachi 3:10)

IN Christ Jesus, we must learn that giving does not flow from me to God as if I’m doing Him a favor. It flows from God through me and back to God again. It is when I trust Him and freely put all my possessions into His hands, that God grants me the freedom to enjoy the rich gain that flows into my life through a Christ-centered and God-honoring generosity! And by "gain" I don't mean that I'll always have the earthly wealth or riches my selfish heart often desires. I may have very little of this world's goods. But it means I will enjoy the "gain" of a free and generous heart that is no longer bound by it's love of things, but has discovered a deeper love and satisfaction in God that "things" cannot provide! And because I am satisfied in God, that makes it possible for me to enjoy being able to honor God with all I possess, giving freely to the poor and generously (like that widow with her two copper coins) to the cause of missions and God's glory in the world.

Well, that's my goal! As I write this, our church is preparing to consider once again the Bible's many promises to faithful stewards. And my prayers is that we will discover once again that we are not owners, we are stewards" -- and servants serve the Master by managing His possessions well and in a way that will accomplish His purposes and bring Him the most glory. Oh Christian, God has put all you possess into your hands that we might learn the joy of a glad and open-handed generosity. May God grant your heart such freedom so that Christ may be all in all! "Little children, guard yourselves from idols" ( 1 John 5:21)

Pastor Scott

PS - For any who may be interested, let me recommend a wonderful and helpful little book called "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. We give this away to all our members and have used it more than once for a basic study in biblical stewardship. I urge you to get a copy and find the joy of making Christ and Christ's Kingdom your highest priority in the matter of money and possessions.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Blessed Life -- and Life Indeed!

Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. - Genesis 25:8

This passage reminds me of my grandmother. Most of my friends know that she passed away this past Sunday and that I’ve gone down to Arkansas to be with my family during this important time. I have mixed feelings as I think about her passing. Many have said to me, when they’ve heard the news, “I’m sorry.” But I can’t help thinking that I’m not.

Of course I will miss her. It makes me sad to think about the loss of fellowship many feel right now – especially my dad who was the youngest of her five children. I’ll miss seeing her at holidays and pretending to fight with my brother over which one of us she really made that special buttermilk pie for (everyone knows it was for me! :) )

And yet Eva Lee died at the ripe old age of 99, an old woman and satisfied with life. She lived through ten of the most amazing decades in world history. They were farmers and not at all wealthy, so it was never easy. But through hard work and -- I'm sure many prayers -- they always seemed to have enough. She never learned to drive and has lived on her own for the past 30 years following the death of my grandfather in 1976. She is remembered affectionately by 20 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and 3 great, great grand-children. She was in the hospital two, maybe three times at most, (but never for anything serious), enjoying almost amazing health until just a little over a month ago. She was even awarded a certificate in 1998 acknowledging her as the "Oldest Eldercare Volunteer in the State of Arkansas". She once said she enjoyed going down to the center to "help those old people" -- most of whom were younger than her, I think. She lived a full life!

But most importantly, she knew (and knows) that life that is life indeed! A long-standing member of the Assemblies of God, my grandmother knows (presently!) the Lord and by grace through faith has been permitted to enter into the joy He has reserved for those who trust in Him!

So I feel the loss, but I’m not sorry. My grandmother has known the simply joys of a common life. Unremembered by history, she is treasured by her family, and held in the ever-lasting arms of God’s unfailing love. What could be better?

In His Mercy!
Pastor Scott Lee

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blessed is the man who mediates on God's Word

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. - Psalm 1:1-2

I’m drawn to the words, “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” For the Christian, meditation on God’s word is not a duty to be fulfilled, but a delight to be indulged! When you feed on the Word daily, you find your resistance to sin strengthened and your heart for God satisfied. For just as the man who's recently enjoyed an amazing steak dinner isn’t tempted to stop off on the way home for a quick McDonald's cheeseburger, so a Christian who’s belly is full of the good things of God is not easily tempted to “sit down” to the feast of the wicked.

It is only the hungry who are ready to eat anything set before them. But if you fill your mind with God’s Word so that it satisfies the longings of your heart, you soon find an ever-growing power to say “No!” to sin. “No!” to sin because you’ve been saying “Yes!” to better things in Christ! That's the power of a superior delight!

One of the things people often miss, is that our hearts were made to be satisfied by something. "Satisfy me in the morning, with your steadfast love" Moses writes in Psalm 90:14. Notice that. He does not say. "Make me a man who doesn't need satisfaction." He says, "Satisfy me in you, so that I won't seek satisfaction elsewhere -- in lesser things. The key to not finding satisfaction in that which is sinful, is to pursue something better! find a deeper more lasting satisfaction in that which God has provided in Christ!

Thus David writes in Psalm 19:7-11,
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.

Let me urge you to make God’s Word your daily delight. Let it strengthen you in your fight against sin as you read and meditate on it daily, and as you join others each week for Bible Study or Sunday School at a local, Christ-exalting, Bible-faithful church.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Talking Jesus Dolls

I don't know if you happened to hear about the controversy this past Christmas surrounding 'Toys for Tots' initial refusal to allow the "Talking Jesus Doll” among it’s donated items, it seems to me most of the discussion ended up missing the real point. Why should Christians be upset when a secular organization doesn’t what to hand out plastic Jesus dolls? Shouldn’t we be more concerned that someone has actually made plastic Jesus dolls in the first place, in direct violation of the Second Commandment? "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (Ex 20:4) The point of this commandment is that God is not to be represented by any man-made objects at all Why not? Because as soon as we make an object and say "this is what God is like" or “Jesus is like this,” we misrepresent Him to the world! No matter how good our image may be, it will fall short of what is real. It will misrepresents Him! We used to call that blasphemy.

In this case, imagine how such a doll will be looked at by children (Not to mention played with!) Children will think within themselves, "This is what Jesus is like. Look what I can make Him do!" And they will manipulate him and talk for him and have him in their hands to do with as they please, just like they do with their Batman and Barbie dolls. He is reduced to a child's play thing! To think of that makes me shudder! And then I think of all the times God brought terrible judgments upon His people because they failed to treat Him as "holy" (Num 20:12, etc). One meaning of "holy" is "to be separated from that which is common or profane." Putting Jesus in the hands of children to play with in the same way they would play with Batman or Barbie violates a whole host of biblical commands and could possibly bring spiritual harm to the children who grow up thinking of Jesus as a common play-thing.

May God give us clear biblical discernment in all things.

Pastor Scott Lee

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Only "Half-a-God"

“Behold then the kindness and severity of God” Romans 11:22a

I wonder, sometimes, if we Americans aren’t guilty of worshiping only “half-a-God.” We sing about His mercy and kindness. We love to talk about His love, as we “count our many blessings” and tell others of a God who loves them and has “a wonderful plan” for their lives. But rarely do we stop and think about the harder truths of God – things like his wrath and justice, or how He absolutely hates all sin.

The result of this is that we are not a people who know God, or fear God or “tremble at His Word.” (Isa 66:2). His commands don’t carry nearly as much weight with us as do the opinions of the “experts” on TV. We’re far more likely to take our views about personal issues, like sex or raising children or building a business, from the people around us rather than the God above us. We don’t know or walk with God!

One of the great benefits of studying the Bible verse by verse is that it forces us to deal with the hard things in God’s Word just as much as we get to rejoice in the easy and more pleasant things. I remind you of this because Romans 11, which we're studying at Rockport right now, is filled with hard things. Here we find God in all His sovereign supremacy reigning and ruling over sinful man, hardening some and pardoning others as He desires, and not asking anyone’s permission.

My prayer, as we wrestle through these difficult truths together, is that God will use this time to deepen your sense of dependence on Him, that He will give you an ever-increasing admiration and love for His mercy; and an ever-growing amazement at the grace that broke through to save you.! May we learn to worship a “Whole God” Who “has mercy on whom He desires, and hardens whom He desires” (Rm 9:18)

Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory)

Pastor Scott Lee