June 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

be free...

be free

A lot Christians really struggle with living a life free from shame. Did I do enough for God? Does sin have to be this prevalent in my life? The good news is that God provides a different way… a more freeing way. And once we understand God’s way, it will revolutionize the rest of our life. God wants us to be free.


Romans 6:1-14, 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.’


In the above verses out of Romans 6, the apostle Paul gives us real news and good news about the reality of how to deal with sin and the wonderful prize we receive as the result of what Christ has done for us.


Verses. 1-2 give us the perspective that there’s no reason for us to continue to live in sin and the impossibility to live for sin if we’re dead to sin.

Verses. 3-4 reminds us that at the point of our salvation that we were immersed into Christ and we were immersed into His death. Why? So that we might live in the new life, the life Christ purchased for us.

Verses. 5-8 shows us a more in depth look as to why we can now live in newness of life. We’ll have a resurrection like Jesus’, our old self that loved only sin was killed so that we wouldn’t be slaves to sin- so that we will live with Christ.

Verses. 9-10 let’s us know that the One we follow, Jesus Christ, has done what no one else could… He has conquered death. We are recipients of Christ’s work on the cross.

Verse. 11 gives us the best way to live in showing us to continue to follow Christ. Because Jesus did what He did, we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. Sin appealing flavor and look no longer has the dominion over us that it once had and God’s way for us is what we now desire.

Verses. 12-13 gives us commands of grace. Because of all that has happened in vs. 1-11, we follow the commands that before salvation, we neither wanted to follow nor did we have the power to follow. We follow these commands willingly, joyfully. Why? we are no longer slaves to sin… which brings death on so many levels.

Verse. 14 caps off the obvious. It shows us a fact. Because the undeniable and unbeatable work that Christ has done for us, we will not be under the dark dominion of sin. Verse. 14 also gives us a very encouraging reminder, too… We no longer have to be under the *deception that if we work hard enough to keep the law of God, that God will be pleased enough with us to not only allow us to continue to live but also to gain entrance into Heaven. No. We’re no longer under *that satanic deception. Rather, because of the unspeakable gift of eternal life that Jesus purchased for us, we now live in the unbreakable boundaries of grace. The work to get to Heaven was done by Jesus Christ. And when we do sin, we live in a constant state of forgiveness. Sin can’t have dominion over us because Jesus legally cancelled our sin debt; a work we could not accomplish.


We are now the beneficiaries of eternal life, victorious living, and finally freedom to choose God and the newness of life that belongs to us. It is God’s desire for you to be free from sin and free in Him.

Praise God that He’s provided that way for us.

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch

May 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

WE ALL NEED HELP

Luke 10:25-37, ‘25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”’

 

A rewritten narrative...

There are some cultures in America, (and we find this particularly with Christians in the west as well), where Luke 10:25-37 is not lived out as God intended. There is a pervasive attitude that says, “No. I’ve got it. I don’t need help.”. If this current attitude were to be written into the Luke 10:25-37 narrative, the story starting in vs 34 would go something like this, ‘The Samaritan meaning to help the man by tending to his wounds, giving him a ride, giving him a place to stay to rest & recover from the traumatic experience, and then pay for everything it would take for the hurt man to recover, WAS TOLD “NO.” BY THE HURT MAN. The Samaritan was not able to be a blessing to the hurt man and went on his way. But God knew the Samaritan’s heart and would bless him for his intention.’. The end. Sounds sad doesn’t it? In the story, we want to see someone get the help they need. In reality shows we see people who are in dire straits who need new clothes or repaired homes. And these folks are given exactly what they need; and we love those shows! Why? Because we know it’s right to help and to be helped. And, we love to help and get the help we need. But, when it comes down to where we live, when it’s just us, we state proudly, “I’ve got it under control”.

 

Pride, our downfall...

 The Gospel is all about helping those, you and I, that are absolutely and unequivocally helpless to help themselves. Jesus died for the sins of the world (we could not), took the wrath of God on Himself for the punishment of the world’s sins (we could not), was buried for three days and rose from the grave (we could not), ascended to Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Heavenly Father interceding for His people (we could not). The Gospel says, “People could not, only Jesus could.”. And from there, the Gospel is lived out in the lives of those who belong to God by helping others as we can– to give the Gospel and to meet physical needs.

But what gets in the way of being helped? Pride. The Bible says in Proverbs 6:16-17, “16 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes,…’. The Lord hates a proud look, which comes from pride. The Bible also communicates Proverbs 16:18, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.’. In fact, pride is the reason for people rejecting Jesus Christ, the reason for cults & false religions, and the reason for the downfall of satan. So, how does pride work out in our lives in the area of needing help?

When we need help and then reject help, we:

- deny and rob the other person, (or people), of their blessing to help.

- are telling God that we know better than Him.

- are denying God His desirous will to act through His people to help someone in their time of need.

- are telling God that we are totally self sufficient... when the Bible, however, rightly communicates (both spiritually & physically) that apart from Jesus Christ we can do nothing. We need God and His people.

- are telling God that our cultural traditions are more important than God’s holy Word. May I say it like this? It can be a form of idolatry… especially if our values are based on our cultural traditions rather than on God’s truth.

Pride will keep us from:

- people speaking truth and encouragement into our lives.

- knowing and growing in God (from rejecting the Gospel to refusing to read the Bible, pray, & worship consistently).

- opportunities and blessings that God has for you… and others.

- When we’re prideful we believe we’re in control. But what a prideful attitude really shows is that we’re out of fellowship God and are resisting the healthy way He desires for us.

But we think, “We don’t want to be a bother, it’s not that big of a deal, I’m ok.”. Truthfully, God desires to meet us no matter we’re at.

 

A cure for pride...

 Heed the wisdom of Proverbs 16:19, ‘It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.’.

A lowly spirit:

- realizes that because of sin, he/she deserves nothing... so that when we get anything we are happy to receive it. The Gospel shows this principle clearly.

- is one who receives, but in turn not only gives but gives readily and lavishly.

- is gentle in their dealings.

- according to Luke 10:36, is a neighbor to others in the sight of God.

- according to Luke 10:37, is one who is merciful in the sight of God.

 

God can rewrite your narrative...

Today is a new day and the Bible proclaims that His mercies are new every morning! If you’re one who is in the lifestyle of not allowing help, here are a few points that can help.

 repent. turn away from, “I’ve got it.” and turn to “There are sometimes I actually do need help.”.

 look to the Bible. If nothing else the Bible is full of commands, narratives, and principles that scream, “We need Help!!!”.

 put it into practice. When someone asks you, “Can I pray for you?”, you say, “Yes.”. When you are sick or in need, obey the Bible as it says in James 5:14, ‘Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.’. There are people that God will use in a powerful way to bless not only you, but them as well.

You are important to God and He is ever ready to help. Catch the next life preserver He throws to you, even if you don’t think you need it.

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch

April 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

RIGHT NOW REALLY DOES COUNT FOREVER

        As most of you know, I annually go to a conference of my choosing to get refreshed and equipped as a pastor. This year I went to the 2021 Ligonier National Conference. Ligonier Ministries was started by R.C. Sproul who has since passed on to be with the Lord. The name of this conference was RIGHT NOW COUNTS FOREVER which was taken from the sermon series and book of the same name. As is stated from the Ligonier website, “RIGHT NOW COUNTS FOREVER is designed to focus attention on the relevancy of our present lives to the eternal destinies we all face.”- R. C. Sproul. Think about that… focus on our present life in light of eternity. And that thought is echoed in the light of Scripture, especially when God’s holy Word says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’. Right now really does count forever.

Consider this, we pay bills, raise kids, go to work, go to school, have birthdays, get married, etc. Granted, we all don’t do these things but all of us do some of those things. The point is, we all enjoy God’s common grace that’s poured out to each of us no matter who we are… and then we die. So in all those things, (whatever things we did), for whose glory and satisfaction did we do those things? The Bible’s very clear that each decision we make counts for eternity, whether some will pay the consequences for their decisions in Hell or for others– reaping the benefits for those choices in Heaven. Right now really does count forever.

 

     What choices are we making? And to go deeper, what's the motive for those choices? And even deeper than that, who’s the motive for our choices? Some of us are dedicated to what pleases Christ while others are focused totally on what benefits us only. To a certain degree, what benefits us is a necessity. For example, if God has given us a family we need to ensure that we’re taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of those whom God has given us. Another example, If God has given us material blessings, (maybe a car or a scholarship), we need to ensure that we’re taking care of ourselves so that we’re good stewards of those God-given blessings. And God loves to pour out His common grace on all humanity. But in both of those examples, the understanding is that God comes first and as a result of Him being first place, we’ve chosen to position ourselves to function as He wants us to function. The problem comes when our focus turns inward, when our motivations and what we do is totally about us. Then it becomes about what suits us now instead of what’s eternal. The Bible calls this idolatry– putting something or someone ahead of God. Idolatry is consumer based– which means the person who’s devoted to consuming is simultaneously devoted to self over God, while a person who’s in relationship with Christ receives and contributes. The consumer’s motivation is purely for the fulfillment of self. Unfortunately, Christians can slip into the consumerism trap. Right now really does count forever.

 

     On the other hand, when we look at the choices we’re making from a godly perspective, that include our motives, we have a whole different template for life that’s used. What does this look like practically? We make the small choices of life– who are friends are, how we act towards others, what financial decisions we make, what we post on social media, and so on all motivated by Scripture. We submit our minds to Christ, we submit ourselves to God’s Lordship, and we seek His glory. In other words, we do what we were created to do– we live out 1 Corinthians 10:31, ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’. These life choices are for God on a personal level and within the relational bounds of the local church. In other words, we grow in grace in our relationship to Christ while naturally belonging to a local church and therefore our entire life is affected. We’re being the receiver of Christ’s grace, a conduit of the Holy Spirit’s power, and a contributor of what God desires… and commands. The person whose life is Christ centric is motivated by bringing glory to God. Our ‘right now’ choices count. Right now really does count forever.

 

     Our lives count for others, as well. Jesus said to love others as ourselves. As we make choices that are Christ centric, we are in actuality, discipling the nations and people within those nations. We are teaching Christ to others by word and deed. For most of us, the people that we disciple and impact are those that are within our little corner of the world. But, as we live unto the Lord, discipleship is nevertheless happening. We are showing that right now counts forever. What about you? How open are you to submitting to Jesus’ gracious rule as the King of your life? What obstacles would you need to remove to follow Christ to make right now count for God? What inside work is God commanding to happen so that you realize that the throne of God is rightfully placed on your heart? When the inside work is done, and constantly maintained with repentance, confession of & the killing of sin, and constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit, then the world– others— will know that right now really does count forever. For God, for others, and for you, right now counts forever.

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch

March 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

WHY DOES GOD SAVE PEOPLE?

It’s truly a miracle that God saves anyone. The Bible says the following about the human race apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ: our father is the devil- John 8:44, we love darkness & our works are evil- John 3:19, our minds are blinded by satan to the truth– 2 Corinthians 4:4, our sin separates us from God– Isaiah 59:2, our deeds are like filthy rags– Isaiah 64:6, we're enemies of God– Romans 5:10, our heart is deceitful & desperately wicked– Jeremiah 17:9, and so on. That’s quite the bleak picture that God paints of unredeemed mankind (you & I before being born again)… and our sinful state keeps us from God’s holy presence. That describes everyone outside of Christ. We need an eternal rescue and thankfully, God does provide that rescue. But again, knowing our total unworthiness and the fact that God is perfectly holy, why does God save anyone?

God saves people because He LOVES them

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

God saves people for His NAME’S SAKE

1 Samuel 12:22, ‘For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great Name's Sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself.’

 

God saves people because He DESIRES FOR US TO TURN TO HIM AND NOT DIE ETERNALLY

2 Peter 3:9, ‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’

 

God saves people because of His MERCY towards them

1 Peter 1:3, ‘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,…’

Titus 3:5, ‘He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,…’

 

God saves people because of His PURPOSE & GRACE towards them

2 Timothy 1:9, ‘Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,...’

 

God saves people because of His GIFT OF GRACE towards them

Ephesians 2:8-10, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.’

 

God saves people to be GLORIFIED BY HIS PEOPLE

John 15:8, ‘By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.’

 

God saves people because of His MERCY & GREAT LOVE

Ephesians 2:4-5, ‘But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—’

 

Why does God save people? He desires to give His saving love, mercy, grace. Those who are God’s people are the recipients of, and the personal objects of, His giving and saving nature. God saves people because by virtue of His own nature, He is the Savior. He has given a promise to His people, and His promise is unbreakably linked to His Name. Anything that has to do with His Name is kept in His perfect will and it is God’s will to save people. With each reason that comes with God saving His people, He does so ultimately because it’s His desire and joy to save people. Beloved, God saves people for various reasons but none of them have anything to do with the false notion that we can gain His favor. Salvation is a work of God, and His desire for us is to receive. We see God’s great mercy & love for us and we are compelled to forsake our sinful desires and live for Him. What a great God He is and what an amazing, unspeakable gift His people have received!

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

pastor Scott Welch

February 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

SECULAR & SACRED LINES: THE POLARIZATION OF THE CHURCH

14 Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

 

THE LINES ARE BEING DRAWN...

The lines are being drawn in America; but more importantly, 2020 has shown that lines are being drawn within the Church. Polarization can be a good thing. It shows us who stands where and why. Polarization clears the air. It lets us see without any question those who are on this side, and those who are on that side. 2020 showed us the beginning of the spiritual polarization in a very poignant way. And 2021 (whether it’s critical race theory {Woke Church}, apathy, or liberal theology), is showing us that spiritual polarization is becoming indelible within the Church. The Apostle Paul spoke about the beginning of spiritual polarization in 2 Timothy 4:3 when he said, ‘For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,’. And Jesus spoke about the culmination of the polarization when He warned in Luke 17:34-35, 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”. Will the spiritual polarization we’re seeing now be for a season, then end, and then manifest in a stronger degree a hundred years from now? Or will it be for a season and then lead deeper and deeper to the eventual return of the Lord? Only our Heavenly Father knows. But I’ve been a Christian for quite awhile and I’ve never seen such a dividing line in the secular culture and the Church as I’m seeing now.

 

WHAT DO THESE LINES LOOK LIKE?

The Good News?... Church leaders, pastors, and Christians, who keep up with church trends know that in America there has been a resurgence of Biblical preaching & teaching, Christ centric living within the church, and people wanting truth; which is what God commands and desires. The Bad News?... Apart from this resurgence there has also, unfortunately, been a movement that has arisen within the church that manifests by way of people saying “No.” to Jesus Christ’s call of being a disciple in various ways. This movement has tipped toward seeker sensitive/pop-psychology/best life now/prosperity/so called ‘miracle’ driven ‘churches’ that produce apathy and selfishness. Now to be sure, especially in the last 3 decades, there have always been people who have been attracted to and gravitating toward the latter movement. But now in 2021, there’s a very distinct line that has been drawn. A line that is extremely recognizable. However, (and this is a good ‘however’), those who are wanting truth, are tired of the false promises of the seeker driven churches, are understanding what it means when Jesus said, “Count the cost.”, and are starting to move toward Biblically grounded churches. Biblically grounded churches don’t cater to the world by making the worship service look and feel like what the world would do in order to attract people. Rather, they bring people to Christ through love and the whole counsel of God, living the truth, counting on the power of the Holy Spirit, having a high view of Scripture, and are concerned about worship to God and serving people in a Sunday service. Let the world cater to mankind, but the Church is meant to worship God, grow in grace and reach people for Jesus. For the Biblically grounded churches, will this mean church growth in numbers? For some churches– yes, for other churches– no. The point is not numerical growth (even though the Lord has promised to add to His church), the point is becoming more like Christ. And on the personal level the question needs to be asked, “Am I truly a disciple of Jesus Christ?”.

 

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THESE LINES?

Because of the spiritual lines that are being drawn, people are making it extremely clear as to whether they are gravitating toward a church and a life that worships God or a counterfeit church and life that caters to felt needs. People are becoming real with their faith in Christ, or they’re not. But again, Paul and Jesus both said this would happen, (2 Timothy 4:3, Luke 17:34-35), and 2020-2021 is enabling hearts in America to show exactly where each person is in their journey of faith. And again, consequently, what is happening in churches is happening in individual lives. People are making a choice one way or the other and (whether we want to admit it or not) the fruit is extremely evident.

 

WHAT TO DO? (A CALL TO ACTION)

Know this: everyone is on a spiritual journey. Some are on a path to life in Jesus Christ, some are not. And those who are on the path to life in Christ are all at different spiritual levels; we’re all to be on the path of growing in grace and maturity. But there is a palpable sense within the world right now that a place needs to be chosen as to where to pitch your tent. And men, spiritual leadership toward your family is your God given responsibility.

So what to do?

If you’re one who is walking away from Christ, whether you’re in the Church or someone who’s never had anything to do with God...

-Seek and find. Psalm 34:4, ‘I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.’ . You, no doubt, have points of pain that have questions that have yet to be answered. God has those answers through the Bible, His creation, prayer that honestly seeks Him, and His Church. Those who seek God out will find Him.

- Change directions. Matthew 4:17, ‘From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”’. Turning toward life can sometimes be painful and the work of changing directions from death to life is impossible apart from Christ. But change directions to go toward Him. You will find life.

 

If you’re one who is walking toward Christ…

- The battle is the Lord’s. 2 Chronicles 20:15, ‘And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's.’ What was true thousands of years ago is true today. God is eternal and He works through various means and ways, including His church, to accomplish His will.

- Don’t give up, trust in the power of Jesus. Galatians 6:9, ‘And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.’

- Live and tell the whole of Scripture. All Christians have God the Holy Spirit living and working within them. We have work to do, yes. But we also have God, Who is uniquely using us to accomplish His purpose: through good and evil seasons.

 

“We need to pray for our nation like never before, and then put legs to our prayers and preach the gospel to a sin-loving and Hell-bound world. To pray for America and at the same time ignore that command to preach the gospel to every creature, is nothing but empty hypocrisy. It is to honor God with our lips and have cold hearts that are far from Him. May He give us a love that moves us from the pews into the streets, and from our homes into our universities. God save us from the cozy comfort of lukewarm contemporary Christianity.” Ray Comfort

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch