Monday, September 28, 2009


The Name of the Lord is a strong tower;

the righteous run into it and are safe."

Proverbs 18:10

Yesterday in our small group, we were studying Psalm 135. The Biblical writer exclaims, "Praise the name of the Lord". I asked our group a very simple question... when you pray, how do you begin? Some said, "Dear God" others "Our Heavenly Father" some just began by saying, "Dear Jesus".

I challenged our group and I challenge you to think about how you address the Lord. Maybe in times of confusion, you might address him as the Wonderful Counselor who can give you insight, wisdom, and direction. Names are significant indicators of a relationship! On a first-time encounter, I am liable to be formal with someone, calling them Mr. or Mrs. so and so.... Upon building a relationship (or even by their permission) I begin to call them by their first name.

With some relationships I have have, I use nicknames or pet names. These terms of endearment show a level of closeness in the relationship. They convey love, admiration, and trust.

Our names are precious to us....they reveal who we are. They are a personal connection, a unique part of us. Names in Biblical times were very important, they revealed a person's character. As we read through Scripture we can see the importance of names, therefore, I think it should be a priority in our lives to learn the Names of God, and call upon Him by these unique and varied names. He has been given many Names and each reveals Him in a different way. God's Names represent His attributes, His nature. I think it is important that we know God by His many Names. I hope that over the next several days that you are encouraged and uplifted as you learn about these Names of God. Take time to worship Him daily by calling upon Him using His various Names... to do so will be an awesome experience in knowing God.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


So a few weeks ago, my neighbor approached me and asked, "hey, are pastors like you ALLOWED to go to rock concerts?" I chuckled and said yes. He said "good, because me and you are going on a road trip! I bought tickets for us to see a rock concert in Nashville."

I was fired up...this was going to be out of the normal routine for me as an Associate Pastor, it’s been a really long time since I’ve been to a concert. And besides that, I really like this neighbor! He’s a great guy and we’ve been building a friendship! He is a believer, but young in his faith. This trip was a big deal to him and I knew that coming and going, we'd have over five hours in the car together for quality conversations about faith and life and whatever else, so I said sure...before I asked who we were going to see.

It turns out that Metallica was on the docket for that night! At that point, I was hesitant to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, I love most all kinds of music and even listened to Metallica “back in the day”...but the “day” was a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away from my life now!

I knew that it would be a rough and rowdy environment. I knew that I would see, hear, and smell things that were not in line with my faith walk. I also knew that it would be loud! Very loud! (well, I thought I knew that, BUT HAD NO IDEA WHAT LOUD REALLY MEANT!) But what I didn’t know was how deeply impacted I would be from the event, and on so many different levels.

Here are a few casual observations from Monday night's Metallica concert (some are a little tongue in cheek...but all seasoned with truth)

1) Theological take-away...I’m not saying that I’ve become a Calvinist just because of a Metallica concert, but I am convinced that TOTAL DEPRAVITY IS REAL (there are pretty freaky people in this world and most of them were all huddled up in the Sommet Center in Nashville last Monday night) More about this one later... But for now, suffice it to say that I was pretty shocked and amazed by some of the tattoos, piercings, mohawks, make up, and behavior that I saw... All of that leads to #2


3) The "People will overstate the obvious" take-away... "I BET THIS WILL PROBABLY BE PRETTY LOUD", I overheard that from a mom who brought her young teens. She said it just before the opening act came on...

A) There are 10 STACKS OF 17 SPEAKERS EACH HANGING AT EYE LEVEL and a wall of speakers on the stage and

B) ITS A METALLICA concert! duh...

4) Reality check take-away... Me and the balding guy in the polo shirt and khaki dockers behind me are probably too old for Metallica concerts!

5) Parental instinct take-away... At some point in our lives, we shift into parent mode and I am so there because I kept hearing myself say, "someone's gonna get hurt in that mosh pit."

6) Application take-away...I’m thinking of locking my kids up and never letting them out of my sight! :-) Mark Twain was right!!!!! "When a child turns 12 you should put him in a barrel, nail the lid down and feed him through a knot hole. When he turns 16, plug the hole!"

Now to the real lessons:

1) People are starving for a sense of community! The fan base for this band is intensely loyal and cemented together by a common love for the band's music. The culture of the concert was electric and fans were amped up with a common anticipation! I watched 20,000 people, with voices and arms raised, join in a collective effort of connecting...and for those two hours, there was a deep, unbreakable bond. They were family, the Metallica family. In fact, lead singer, James Hetfield dedicated a song to the fans and said, “I know that many of you have been through hard times and you made it through with friends, with family, and (screamed) WITH METALLICA! At those words, the family roared! The room was filled with people in black Metallica t-shirts (some of which were from concert tours of 20 years ago) and the lines were long to buy new t-shirts...for thirty-two bucks, I might add! People want to belong! It’s a need that is implanted into the human heart by God!

2) We could learn some things about worship from Metallica fans! There was a tremendous anticipation...people wanted to be there and were excited about what was coming. (often lacking in our churches) There was great participation - singing, waving arms, fists pumped into the air in unison, shouting and more. (I have seen shouting and fists pumping in churches, but it was usually in a business meeting and not in a spirit of worship) There was a strong sense of unity around a higher purpose. People giving high fives to others they didn’t know, simply because a song they loved was starting. (worship has become such an individual search for “what’s in it for me” and not an emphasis on a higher purpose that serves as a unifying factor)

3) People ARE depraved but are created with a need to worship God...and everyone will worship something! Deep in the heart of every person is a need to worship Him...most often, that worship is misguided and placed upon some other object. During one song (interestingly titled “Sad, But True” ) My eyes welled up with tears as I looked out over a sea of lostness. I saw so many people putting their hearts and souls into that concert. Whether trying to escape pain or seek pleasure or just get lost in the music, they offered up empty acts of worship venerating the band they love. Many sang or danced and some turned to drugs and alcohol.

Ultimately, I would sum up that part of the concert by saying:

great worship...terrible god!

4) I am insulated! My friends are Christians, they go to church with me, they believe like me... I need to get out more...and so do you! I’m not proposing that you run out and start following the concert tour series or go clubbing and some local night spot...but I am saying open your eyes to those that are around you and pray for opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Now that the concert has come and gone, it really has evoked an amazing mixed bag of emotions for me. I really enjoyed the time with my friend, I enjoyed our conversations and I really enjoyed the skillful guitar and drum playing of the band. The music was good... LOUD, but good! In the next several days, I imagine that the ringing in my ears will stop, but I hope that the lessons learned will linger!

Rock on! ~Scott

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Earlier this year, my pastor friend, Ryan Whitley, posted an article about Hope. The article came on the heels of an ABC interview with Actor, Patrick Swayze. News reports that Swayze died yesterday, so I am reposting that article.

Patrick Swayze spent the last year battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The actor disclosed his personal battle during an ABC News 20/20 Barbara Walter’s Special last Wednesday.

I admired his moxie. The interview was raw, emotional and real. Swayze is a dying man, and he knows it. Yet there was one thing missing – at least in what I viewed.

I never heard any words of hope.

If Swayze ever expressed his faith in God, I never heard it. Perhaps he did earlier, when I was not watching. But in the 30 minutes I watched it I never heard a word of trust in the Lord.

Later that evening Bill O’Reilly on Fox News devoted a segment of his news broadcast to the 20/20 interview of Swayze. Ironically, he asked his guest, Dr. Anna Paulick, Medical Oncologist of the NYU Cancer Institute, how she offered hope to her terminal cancer patients. The doctor’s response was deficient.

Dr. Paulick tries to remind her patients to take hope in some quality of life and in the research that will some day find a cure. Make note: hope in quality of life and research. That is not hope. That is uncertainty.

For Barbara Walters, Patrick Swayze, Bill O’Reilly, Anna Paulick and anyone else searching, true hope lasting hope is found only in Jesus Christ.

What is hope?

Hope is an essential and fundamental element to the Christian faith.

The FOUNDATION of hope is found in the DEATH of Jesus Christ.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:32-33

The SECURITY of hope is found in the SOVEREIGNTY of God.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Romans 8:35-39

Hope is SECURED in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

1 Peter 1:3

Hope is FROM God.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

Hope is a GIFT of God’s grace.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Hope is PEACE with God.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1

Hope is ACCESS to God.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand…

Romans 5:2a

Hope is the GLORY of God.

and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:2b

Hope is the LOVE of God.

3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

Hope is found in the WORD of God

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

Someone once said, “You can spend a lifetime without sex and go almost 75 days without food, and ten days without water and almost six minutes without oxygen; but it is impossible to live without hope.”

Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, we have hope.