I get a LOT of emails and a whole bunch of them are junk or spam from companies that I bought one thing from a long time ago or who gave me 20% off if I signed up for their email list. Every morning I wake up and check my email and then spend a few minutes cleaning out the junk.
Yesterday, I had enough. I spent 30 minutes going through my email and hitting "unsubscribe" to all those junk email senders. It wasn't easy, they make that unsubscribe button hard to find or make you go to multiple pages to tell them that you are sure you don't want their spam emails anymore...but I can officially say that I will now be getting a lot less junk each day.
Sometimes in life, we have to look around our hearts and get rid of the junk that is cluttering everything. Are there places you spend time that you should not? Are there people you talk to who are a drag on your heart? Are there TV shows or websites that are all spam and no positive content?
The season of Lent is coming up (starting on Ash Wednesday which is February 26 this year). Lent is typically a time to fast and for many people, that means giving up sweets or meat; but for many of us, it means getting rid of things that are cluttering up our hearts.
Proverbs 4:23 says we should "guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
Do you need to spend some time cleaning out your heart this Lent? Join us on Wednesday the 26th at 6:30 pm for a special service where we can reflect on fasting (from food or other things), prayer and repentance. I think you'll come away feeling like I did yesterday...uncluttered and free.
Pastor Scott McDermid
In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah is burned out, depressed and scared. He is in hiding and afraid for his life. God comes to speak to him (and care for him) but not in big impressive ways (not in the earthquake or the fire) but in the "still small voice."
This past Sunday in worship, I was just about to preach a sermon I had worked on all week long...when it became clear that the Holy Spirit was up to something. I felt a tug on my heart (that still small voice) to ask the congregation if any wanted to share a word of praise and we spent the next thirty minutes hearing praise after praise from those who were there about God's goodness and faithfulness.
I am so glad I didn't quench the spirit by insisting that we stop sharing and start preaching. I have, over the years, had mentors who set the example to me that the Pastor's job is to tend to the flock by any means necessary; and while that might often include a well thought out sermon, it might also involve sitting down and letting the Spirit move.
It wasn't a normal worship service (and the livestream was pretty terrible viewing) but I am so glad for those of you who stood up and shared your testimonies of God's goodness. Your courage to share and love for God were an example to us all.
Pastor Scott McDermid
I heard a story once about a man who fell in a hole. He tried and tried to get out, but eventually gave up. A long time later, a friend of his saw him down in the hole and yelled down "do you need help?" The man was so excited and hoped that his friend would get a ladder or a rope; but was flabbergasted when his friend jumped into the hole. "Now we are both stuck!" said the man. But his friend looked at him with compassion and said, "I've been at my rock bottom too and I know the way out"
I've used this little story (which reminds me of a parable Jesus might tell) to people who feel like they have no hope. Maybe their marriage is falling apart, or their drinking got out of control or any number of issues...but they feel like there is no hope and that nobody cares.
My goal in those moments is not to "fix" the problem (often the solution seems quite easy to those of us on the outside looking in) but to be there for them and let that know that we care.
If you, or someone you know, is in "the pits" maybe the best thing they can hear is "I care and I'll be there for you"...but even better than saying it is doing it! So invite them out for coffee or go over to their house to visit. Don't go with an agenda, but just to listen and empathize.
Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity."
Pastor Scott McDermid
My boys like to watch TV like most kids and they have always had their favorite shows over the years. Lately, a strange thing has happened though in terms of their viewing preferences, they want to watch youtube videos of people playing video games.
Before you laugh, this is actually a super popular thing among young people. Video game experts film themselves playing games, and narrating it as they play, and people watch this...a lot.
The strange thing is that my kids watch games we don't even have, on systems we don't own...so it serves no purpose other than entertainment. When I was a kid, I loved video games, but I played them; I didn't just watch others play.
I worry that in church sometimes we take a similar position. We listen as people sing praises to God, but we don't really sing along. We listen as people read from the Bible in public, but we don't read it on our own in private. We watch people preach the word, but we rarely even discuss our faith with others.
Instead of watching others, we need to be personally involved in our faith. We need to be praising God. We need to be praying. We need to be reading the word. We need to be sharing our faith.
For too long we have sat on the sidelines and watched others while God is calling us to live out our faith personally.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we "walk by faith, not by sight" and while this is maybe not exactly what he meant (he was talking more about trusting the Lord even with things we can't see), I am confident that he would be fully on board with this. We don't just "see" others live out faith, we need to "walk" it ourselves.
So, get in the game. Get busy serving, praying, worshiping and teaching. You can do it. Don't just delegate faith to others, live it yourself.
Pastor Scott McDermid
Do you make New Year's Resolutions? I have some years and others years have not. I have kept some and not kep others. I did notice a major uptick in the amount of people at the gym in early January, but it normally tapers off a few weeks later. Lots of people want to lose weight. Lots of people want to quit smoking or drinking or cursing. Lots of people want to make their lives better and believe that if they try hard enough they can do it.
But, mostly people stay the same. Those resolutions are often quickly abandoned. The dream of dropping a dress size quickly fades as we fall into old habits.
So, I have resolved myself to lean not on my own inner strength (which often fails) but instead to rely on God's strength (which never fails).
Psalm 28:7 says "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me."
Will you resolve with me to trust more fully in the Lord this year?
This is the final week of advent, a word that means "coming" and is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child.
As we met on Christmas Eve we finally lit the final candle, the Christ candle and then we used that flame to pass from one to another the light of Christ. One of my favorite moments of the whole year is to stand together and hold the light of Christ high as we sing his praises as one.
I could talk about the light of Christ, but I would rather just leave you with the words written for us by the Apostle John in chapter one.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you would know the light of Christ, that it would light the way for your life and that you would proudly share that light with all who live in darkness that they too may know the one who can overcome the darkness.
I was in my teen years during the 90's Hip Hop and Rap Revolution, where it seemed like everyone wanted to wear their hats backwards and talk like they were from the hood. It was not uncommon to hear my friends say things like "Yo" and "word to your mother" and of course when it was time to leave, they would shout "peace out!" And while it's funny to think about all those white Indiana kids pretending to be rappers, the sentiment isn't all bad.
In ancient Jewish culture, the most common greeting was Shalom aleichem (meaning "peace be upon you") to which you would then respond Aleichem shalom (meaning "unto you peace").
During this season, especially, we hope for peace. Peace from war. Peace in our homes. Peace in our marriages. Maybe even peace among our politicians (hey, a man can dream...right?).
In Luke 2 the angels said to the shepherds "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
My prayer is that you would feel the peace of Christ this Christmas. May you seek it (as wise men always have) in He who is the Prince of Peace.
Peace out ya'll,
Pastor Scott McDermid
This week we lit the second candle on our Advent wreath as we continue to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ child.
The second candle, often called the "Bethlehem Candle", is many times said to represent faith or love. It reminds of the dangerous and difficult journey that Mary and Joseph undertook to reach the city of David.
Though it was Caesar who called for the census that led to the journey, the fact that the Messiah would be born in this "little town" had been prophesied many years before by the Old Testament prophet Micah.
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:2)
Just as Mary and Joseph took a journey during this season, so should we. We must each journey toward the manger to worship the baby. We must each also remember that God is with us on the journey. Each step you take, you take with God watching over you. Each decision you make is made with God at your side.
Deuteronomy 31:8 says "the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged"
Pastor Scott McDermid
This past week we started our celebration of Advent (which means coming or to come) as we look forward to the coming of the Christ child.
Each year we light candles on the wreath leading up to Christmas Eve, when we light the final Christ candle.
The first candle on the wreath represents hope. Hope is a powerful thing and can make the difference between a life full of meaning and a life without. Hope can keep us going during dark seasons of grief, depression or pain. Hope can help us persevere during the hard times of life. Hope can push us on to do the right thing knowing that God is with us.
Isaiah 9:2 says "the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned"
During your dark nights (or days or months or even years) it is good to know that there is light coming. No matter how dark the night seems, morning is on it's way.
For us that coming is Jesus. Jesus brings us hope. His love helps us press on. His power gives us the ability to trust Him.
I pray you remember the hope that you have in Christ. He is "with us" and that is the hope we cling to.
Colossians 4:2 "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
In just a few days I will gather with family and share a traditional American Thanksgiving meal with Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes (and the McDermid family Sweet Potatoes with mini-marshmallows). We will take time at some point to share something we are thankful for and I always have a tough time picking just one thing (I'll probably choose my family).
But since I have time here, I will list a few more things
1. I am thankful for my church family. Over the past year we have felt loved and welcomed here as we settled into our new church home. My kids have made friends. We have been invited into people's homes. We have been sent notes of encouragement...we have felt very loved!
2. I am thankful for our servant leaders here at Six Points. This church has an amazing group of volunteer leaders who serve with willing hearts. They give their time, energy and effort to make this church a better place and I am blessed to work alongside them for the Kingdom. To my MLT and LBA leaders...thank you for your work for the Lord!
3. I am thankful for my co-workers. I love working with Vickie and Pastor Andrew here at the church and they are a blessing to me and to many. We are a team and their efforts make this a better church community.
4. I am thankful for the saints here at Six Points. You are a blessing to me. Your love for the Lord is an example to me. Your commitment to your faith in both good and bad times is inspiring to me.
Blessings on you this Thanksgiving
Pastor Scott McDermid