During this time of social distancing and self quarantine (phrases that have suddenly become common in our society), many of us feel isolated and alone, especially those of us who live alone or just with our spouse this can be a time of loneliness or even boredom. Many of us have been cut off from our social support systems like church, work, going out to eat or just hanging out with friends. Many of us have been holed up in our homes for days or weeks and though we have phones, social media and trv to stay in touch with the world; it just isn't the same. I've spoken with many of our older members who feel alone or even bored during these strange days.
It got me thinking about someone in the Bible who was isolated, even more than us right now. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and spent three days totally alone (he didn't even have facebook to scroll or cable news to watch)...and yet, he quickly realized he was not alone at all; he had God with him. Jonah spent his isolated time in prayer and I thought maybe his prayer would be helpful to you today.
"To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple" Jonah 2:6-7
The good news from Jonah is that no matter where you are (even the belly of a fish or your living room), God is with you. The church was never a building, it was always the people of God. So when Jonah tells us that his prayer rose to the temple of God it was because God is ALWAYS on the throne no matter where we are or who we are with.
God is with you today. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. We are the church, we will always be the church, and our prayers are still rising to the throne of God from our isolation or our self quarantine...He hears you, He sees you, He loves you.
P.S.. During these days, if you are in need of help, prayer, food, toilet paper...please let us know so that we can care for you or connect with you. Email us at email@example.com to let us know how we can bless you!
One of the most common understandings of the modern pastor is that of a shepherd who cares for their flock. Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd (John 10:11-18). We are told to tend to those in our care (1 Peter 5:2-3). And so over the years, I have developed an understanding through the example of other Pastors, through my training and experience to try and care for my church members as if I was a gentle shepherd who lovingly cares for them and tries to protect them.
But, I have always led by proximity. I was always close to people. Saw people. Touched people (in appropriate ways of course). How does a shepherd care for those he cannot see? This has been my dilemma since the COVID crisis began and it will likely be my problem for a while as the future is uncertain.
One thing I ask is this, if you need help or assistance, please let someone (or the church) know. I am not psychic and do not know your needs unless you tell me. If you need prayer, to talk or even a roll of toilet paper or some food, please let us know by emailing the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will do all we can, in these crazy days, to love and help one another. As Jesus commanded Peter in John 21, we will work to "feed" the sheep (spiritually, emotionally and even physically).
God bless you all,
The Israelites had spent 40 long years in the desert and though it was difficult, they had grown used to the manna and the tents and the travel. They had become a people and were accustomed to following Moses and the new laws they had been given.
All of a sudden everything changed. Moses was dead. Joshua was in charge. They were crossing the river and entering the promised land. They would go from wanderers to warriors overnight. It was all new and sudden and terrifying.
God saw the fear and spoke these words in Joshua 1,
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God repeated himself over and over in chapter 1, telling Joshua (who would then tell the people) not to be afraid.
Now why do you need to tell people not to be afraid? There is only one reason...because they are afraid. Joshua is afraid, the people are afraid and so God seeks to reassure them that He is in control and that they will be ok.
It seems today, for very different reasons, many of us are afraid. We are afraid of the Corona virus, afraid we won't have toilet paper or flour to buy, afraid our jobs will get shut down and we won't have enough money to buy things...we are afraid for a lot of reasons.
I get it, I am afraid too. But I do remember that God is still in control. I do remember His word is unchanging. I do remember how He has been faithful in the past. I do remember that He loves me. I do remember to pray for you all. I do remember his words "Be strong and courageous" and it does give me hope.
By the way, God was with the Israelites and they were successful everywhere they went.
And God will be with you too. So be strong. Be courageous. God is with you.
Pastor Scott McDermid
There are only a few types of email checkers in the world, based on my observation. There are those who mostly keep their email counts up to date (this is me by the way) and try to stay mostly caught up with a handful (or on a bad day several hundred) emails that haven't been read or responded to. There are those who have thousands of unread messages and no intention of ever catching up (to their credit they just ignore the junk emails rather than delete them). And then there are the rare "inbox zero" people out there who are determined to get each and every email (junk or real) read, responded to and/or deleted each and every day. There must be a wonderful feeling to know that in some part of life, your email account, you have completed all your work and are finished.
I was asked the other day about the final words of Jesus and I told the person that his final phrase was "it is finished." While I am confident that Jesus wasn't talking about email, he was talking about his work. Jesus had taught us what we needed to know, he had shown us what he needed to show and now he had paid the price for our sins on the cross. He had done all he needed to do and so he could say to the Father "it is finished." (John 19:30).
Now it's up to us to apply his teaching, follow in his example and live like we are free from the bondage of sin. We have inherited the benefit of his life's work and we are urged to "run the race with perseverance" (Hebrews 12:1) as it is marked out for us (with his teaching and example as our guide).
But remember, as you seek to live a life of holiness, the victory is already won, the price has already been paid. You are free, so live like it.
Pastor Scott McDermid
As I was shaving last night (yes, I do shave some of my face), I noticed that my razor was getting dull and my shave wasn't quite as smooth as I would like it to be. I buy my razors in bulk online so I have plenty, but being frugal, I try and use each blade as long as I can before I throw it out. Eventually, despite my cheapskate nature, I do throw out a dull blade because they just don't work as well as one that is sharp.
Proverbs 27:17 says "as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another"
I like to think of myself as one who helps others live out their faith well. I try to encourage, challenge and speak life into people. I know that in my own life there have been many who have helped me grow sharper through their regular and intentional effort to build me up, make me stronger and sharper. Over time, our love for God can grow dull if we allow it to. Just like a muscle that doesn't get used, our faith can weaken without use.
A friend, or pastor, or spouse who encourages you in your faith is a great gift from God. They will make you sharper, stronger and better equipped in your life to go with God's strength. Seek these people out, spend time with them...you will be better for it.
But, it's a double edged sword. You need to be encouraging, challenging and helping others in their faith. We each are sharpened and we each need to do the work of sharpening others.
Find a friend like that. Be a friend like that. Sharpen each other so you don't grow dull and useless.
Pastor Scott McDermid
They say that everything is bigger in Texas (and that may be true) and it seems that all Americans believe that bigger is better...but small can be powerful.
In 1 Kings 19, God speaks through the "still small voice". In Matthew 17, Jesus tell us that we only need faith as small as a mustard seed and we can tell the mountains to move. Jesus is born into a small town (Micah 5:2) but He would go on to save the world.
Small isn't bad, in fact small can be powerful.
In just a few weeks we are launching 9 new "small" groups at Six Points Church. In many ways these groups are small (only about 10 people per group, meeting for only 4 weeks, reading a short book of the Bible) and yet I believe that these groups can have HUGE power!
People in these groups (and the the groups that currently exist and are joining this study) will grow in fellowship, grow in Biblical knowledge and can help us grow together in grace. I can't wait to see what friendships might be formed or strengthened and how God uses these small groups to make a big impact in our church and community.
This week is the last Sunday to sign up for one of these groups before they start...so don't miss out on God's big plans for our small groups!
Pastor Scott McDermid
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