Pastor Mark Scott's Blog
Page 1 2 3   Entries 1-5 of 11
September 13, 2018, 12:00 AM

Three Anchors In A Storm, Part 1


PREACHING THROUGH PHILIPPIANS

THE JOURNEY CHURCH,

YORBA LINDA, CALIFORNIA

Fall, 2018

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Message One

Philippians 1:1-6

I hope that it goes without saying how good is to be back home at The Journey Church with all of you.

 

Thank you for your loving understanding of my absence over these past few weeks as Kathy and I have dealt with my diagnosis of State 4 prostate cancer. I am returning to you in the midst of a personal health crisis. It is interesting that our word for crisis is the combination of two Chinese characters, one that represents danger and the other that represents opportunity.

The danger that I face, of course, is obvious. I am staring in the face a type of a very aggressive cancer that is the second leading cause of death for men in this country.

The opportunity, on the other hand, is that people are naturally curious what someone dealing with Stage 4 Cancer has to say. A diagnosis like mine changes everything about your life. For an example, being “back” here this morning with you at The Journey, is not the same as being back to the way things were for me before learning of the news of my diagnosis.

Everything about my perspective of life, of ministry, of preaching, of family, of friendships, and, of the time I have remaining – all of that has been altered by the reality of my medical condition. Kathy has coined the phrase around our house - she says we are learning to live with a “new normal”.

So, I cannot return to preaching as if the events of the past two months never occurred. On the other hand, it will do little good if the only thing I ever preach about going forward is the fact that I have cancer. I have known a few preachers like that, and trust me, you don’t want to show up for church each Sunday to get a weekly medical update! So, somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is where I expect to land, but patience may be required as I fine-tune and redefine my preaching voice.

I anticipate that going through this experience will make me a more effective communicator - I know what you are thinking– We have heard that before!

I actually do believe it is true, however, because a crisis of this kind wakes a person up – it shakes off the lethargy of the comfortable, and demolishes the plausible deniability of ones own mortality. My diagnosis is infusing me with an urgency to preach as a result of the potential brevity of my remaining days on this earth.

Furthermore, projecting this reality into my sermon preparation is forcing me to re-confront my theology. My faith in God is becoming more focused, relevant, and at the same time, simpler. In the end, I think that can only be good for all of you on the listening end of that experience.

However, I am not expecting to deliver any great revelations about suffering. It’s far to soon for me to speak to that – honestly, my head is still spinning to accept and relate to the fact that I find myself in such a precarious situation in regard to my health on this ninth day of September 2018.

I wrote in my journal this week about something that happened to me in the summer between my junior and senior year in high school. My father, my good friend, Mark Ivey, and myself drove his jeep to the top of Wheeler Peak in northern New Mexico in the summer of 1971. That was forty-seven summers ago but I can remember it as if it were yesterday. When we got to the top, it looked just like this photograph that I found on Google.

Once Mark and I figured out we weren’t going to catch any fish that morning, he and I, rather impetuously, decided to climb the rest of the way to the top of the mountain. We didn’t even know at the time that we were climbing the tallest peak in the state, Mount Wheeler, whose elevation tops out at 13,165 feet.

Here is a portion of what I wrote:

The most lasting memory that I have of that day is an odd one. Once at the top, I found it to be an overwhelming experience due to the enormity of all I could see – to the extent that I simply had no words to describe it. And, it’s just as well, because no one could have heard my words anyway, even if I had shouted them out to the heavens. It was so blustery, the gusts were so intense, the gale force winds were so bracing around me with such power that it would have drowned out any thing I might have said.


And, that is exactly how I feel about what I have experienced the last 60 days. I don’t really have any meaningful words to describe what I have seen, heard, felt, or, do I have any idea what challenges may be awaiting me around the next bend in this road.


God has, quite frankly, overwhelmed me with this very loud news. I am unsure of how I should appropriately be relating to it or ministering out of it. I’m on the top of a very windy, very cold, very loud, and very majestic peak that I never expected to climb.

The good news is that we are not relying on answers for life’s storms out of my heart and mind. Instead, we are going to discover wisdom for days like these from our Lord God Almighty, who has spoken to us in his Holy Scriptures. For the next several weeks, we are going to go through the marvelously comforting and encouraging book of Philippians.

However, before we jump into that, there is a personal note I think is appropriate for me to share with you. You deserve to know how I am handling my situation emotionally, and spiritually. After all, while I am your Shepherd, I am also a fellow traveller with you on this journey of following Jesus. It just so happens that my personal part of that journey now includes the fact that I have received a sobering diagnosis threatening to prematurely end my days on this earth.

 

Mark Scott’s Personal Statement of Faith

 

  1. I am not mad at God, I am not disappointed in God, nor am I doubting the goodness of God in my diagnosis. I have trusted Him everyday of my life and he has never failed me. I am certain He will not fail me now.

 

  1. I am concerned about what this may mean for me, physically. Who wouldn’t be? If you read the statistical numbers for people in my condition, it looks pretty bleak. Which brings up a bit of a humorous point. Many of us, at one time or another, have inadvertently said something awkward to a patient when confronting their health crisis in a conversation. I am thinking specifically about one well-meaning friend who wrote on my Facebook page, in response to my report of the result of my bone scan at MD Anderson Hospital. In an attempt to connect with me to this news, he reminded me of a mutual friend that had a similar diagnosis and then wrote, “You know, he had what you had and they told him he had 4-6 months to live”.

Well, ok, now. You know, my doctors in Houston refused to answers my questions about how long I have if we don’t cure this. Now I know why! Thanks for telling me something in such a public format that, frankly, made me even more scared and feeling worse about my condition than I already did!

So, while its true that the numbers aren’t in my favor, I do have four things going for me right now that statistics simply cannot quantify.

  1. First, I am been accepted for treatment into what many people believe is the top cancer research hospital in the world. I like being treated at a place where their corporate branding on all of their signage is MAKING CANCER HISTORY. That’s a mission statement I can get behind.

  1. Secondly, a brilliant physician is providing my care. If you don’t believe me that she is brilliant, just ask her. She is so complicated no one even attempts to pronounce her last name. Everyone just refers to her as Dr. E, based on the initial of her last name. She is brutally frank with me, uncompromising in her diagnosis, and completely in charge from the moment she enters the room. These are all things I’m not particularly a big fan of! But, she is the oncologist that God has intersected into my life. She has my complete attention - if she tells me to jump, my only question is how high should I jump. I am grateful every day for her coming into my life.

 

  1. Thirdly, I have an incredible support system beginning with my wife, Kathy, and our two amazing sons, Joel and Jeffrey, their wives Randa and Tarah, our four beautiful grandchildren, Stratton, Truett, Jacob, and Addilyn Kate. On top of that, there are hundreds of friends and loved ones all across the country and world praying daily for us

And the cherry on top of my ice cream sundae is that I have all of you, my spiritual family of the Journey Church, in my corner 24/7, intervening for me with great expressions of love, concern, devotion, and prayer.

 

Many of you have found Christ as your Savior here at the Journey. Others of you have grown deeply in your faith for the first time in your life here at The Journey. Still, others of you have found a way to begin life all over again in a much healthier way here at the Journey.

For a large number of you, I have been the only shepherd you have known in your Christian life. I love you dearly and deeply, and I know you dearly and deeply love Kathy and me.

So because I have these four things going for me, it is my intention, and my expectation, to become a Stage 4 Cancer Survivor,rather than a Stage 4 Cancer Victim. Someday, I intend to ring that Cancer Free Bell at MD Anderson Hospital

I am doing everything that I can to beat this disease – from carefully following the instructions my medical team gives to me, including returning to Houston to MD Anderson Hospital every four weeks for testing and evaluation – to making significant improvements of how I take care of myself - especially in terms of diet, exercise, the reduction of stress - and focusing on finding rest for my body and soul.

Even more importantly, while the statistics may not be in my favor – what I do have going for me are all of the prayers being lifted up to God on my behalf.

Now, let us leave behind my personal situation and turn our attention to the first six verses of chapter one of the Book of Philippians. I want you to discover with me that there are three anchorsGod has provided for every believer to get you through any storm. The background for these six verses is that Paul is writing a thank you letter to a congregation in a Macedonian city by the name of, Philippi.

It turned out that they were the smallest of all of the churches Paul planted and quite possibly the poorest congregation as well. Yet, what they lacked in size and resources, they more than made up by their expressions of great love and personal financial sacrifice to assist Paul in a time of desperate need.

They had some days earlier sent a love offering to Paul there in prison in Rome. What he writes back to them is much more than a thank you note – he sends them a love letter in response.

You may be wondering after reading those verses what any of that have to do with three boat anchors.

Let me explain how I got there.

A dozen years ago now, our son, Jeffrey along with his wife, Tarah, gave Kathy and me a wonderful 25thAnniversary/50thBirthday Present. It was a Caribbean cruise vacation and, even better, they went along with us as chaperones.

On the day we were in St Thomas, we booked a catamaran that sailed eight miles across to the beautiful, US federally protected, pristine waters of St Johns Island. The catamaran we sailed in looked something like this.

I was so intrigued by this experience that I sought out the captain of the boat. He told me his story of how he got started in the business. In that conversation, he also explained that the only real threat to his business were hurricanes. I asked him what he did in times like that.

He clarified that when a hurricane was approaching the island, he took his boat into the river and used a strategy that he called “Three Anchors”. He tied the front of the boat to trees while the back of the boats were anchored down as tightly as possible at three angles with three anchors. It worked something like this:

As I was writing this message, I remembered that story and I realized that Paul was explaining a similar strategy about how he survived the crisis of his imprisonment in Rome. He did so by finding three anchors that enabled him to ride out his storm.

Paul learned what nearly everyone of us will someday discover – there are some storms in life that are impossible to miss – you simply are unable to get out of harms way – you have no choice but to ride them out. You might be in prison like Paul was – you might be in treatment for cancer like I am – you might find yourself barely hanging on in a shattered relationship – you might be straining to keep your head above water in the midst of a financial disaster – you might be overwhelmed by a publicly viewed experience to your great shame, or you might be suffering in silence, completely alone, in your heartbreak. Whatever your storm is, it is imperative that you find these three anchors.

Three things sustained Paul while he was in prison and as I looked at my current situation I realized those same three anchors are sustaining me today in my health crisis.

Post a Comment





August 15, 2017, 7:44 PM

Ever Feel Stuck On The Launch Pad of Life?


Most of us that grew up with the NASA space program remember the excitement, after the Apollo missions had been shut down for several years, that was felt when NASA announced in 1981 that a new era of space travel would soon begin and would be known as the "Space Shuttle Missions". Betweeen 1981 - 2001, 135 different shuttle missions were launched into space. During that era, 789 men and women travelled to space and tragically, a total of 14 astronauts would lose their lives in the Challenger and Columbia accidents.

Of those 135 successful missions, there is one particular one I would call your attention to. It's historical mission name was STS-61-C and it was the 24th shuttle mission flown.  It was also the seventh mission of the space shuttle Columbia and was manned by a seven person crew which included the second ever African-American shuttle pilot and the first Costa Rican astronaut in space.

However, the most significant distinction that this shuttle mission is remembered for is the fact that it almost never made it into space. In the now, almost, 70 years that we have been launching rockets into space, Mission STS-61-C holds the distinction of being the most delayed rocket launch of all time

On six different occasions, the crew was readied to be shoved into space only to endure long hours of delays that ultimately led to the cancellation of their launch. SIX TIMES. Its a record that would later be shared by the STS-73 Mission in 1995. The delays were caused by a variety of reasons. 

The launch was originally scheduled for 18 December 1985, but the closeout of an aft orbiter compartment was delayed, and the mission was rescheduled for the following day. However, on 19 December, the countdown was stopped at T-14 seconds due to an out-of-tolerance turbine reading on the right SRB's hydraulic system.

Another launch attempt, on 6 January 1986, was terminated at T-31 seconds because of a problem in a valve in the liquid oxygen system. The countdown was recycled to T-20 minutes for a second launch attempt on the same day, but was held at T-9 minutes, and then scrubbed as the launch window expired. Another attempt was made on 7 January, but was scrubbed because of bad weather at contingency landing sites at Dakar, Senegal, and Morón, Spain; yet another attempt, on 9 January, was delayed because of a problem with a main engine prevalve, and on 10 January, heavy rainfall in the launch area led to another scrub.

The good news is that the seventh time was the magic time. On January 12, 1986, at 6:56 EST, the rocket and shuttle finally soared into space. The photo of that launch is actually one of the most beautiful ever captured as you can see below.

Maybe you can relate to how all of those connected to this mission endeavor must have felt. From the shuttle pilot all the way down to the faceless thousands of others who anonymously gave their best to ensure a successul launch and return of the crew, it must have been crushing to learn the news of of yet another delay.

Life can be like that. There are as many reasons - probably many, more reasons - for the delays of launches in our lives as there were   for the crew of STS-61-C. The most important lesson to be drawn is this one - Delays Don't Determine Destiny.  Solomon wrote that God's people have a built in resiliency that is often greater than one may realize. Proverbs 24:16 states, "For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes". 

I want to be like that little boy who was staring at the escalator in the department store. A clerk came up to him and ask him if we had lost his mom or dad. He answered, "Not al all. I'm just standing here waiting for my chewing guy to come back around". 

Stay with it! Light the fuse! Dig In and become what we say in Texas - Double Dogged Determined to launch yourself into a new, exciting, challenging, and achievable orbit of success, blessing, and accomplishment.

Just remember the Journey Church motto while you wait - We never, ever, give up, give in, give out, or quit!

 




June 30, 2017, 3:30 PM

Blog Comments Enabled


Just discovered from a reader that the blog entry from last week wasn't set up for comments.

I have corrected that on the last entry and on all future ones as well.

I welcome reading your comments so comment away!

 

 




June 23, 2017, 12:00 AM

Heaven Is Gonna Be Such A Blast


5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. (Mark 16:5)

I was doing my quiet time reading this week and found myself in chapter 16 of the gospel of Mark. It contains the resurrection story which includes the appearance of three women at the tomb on Sunday morning. That itself is an interesting note since we are introduced to three different women, by name, which none of the other gospel writes do, at least to this extent. The three women are noted as Mary Magdalene, which is by far, the best known of the failthful women who followed and supported Jesus and his disciples. The other two, interestingly enough, were probably Moms of three of the twelve disciples. One is also known as Mary and tradition suggests that she was the Mom of James, The Less. I have always thought that a bit of a funny way to describe anybody. Can you imagine that guy showing up at a gathering of single adults at a church fellowship and saying, "Hi everyone, I'm James, the Less". Probably not the best way to make an impact on your future bride! For what its worth, his name might be explained by something so simple as he may have been the shorter one of the two James that were disciples of Jesus.

The other woman is named Solome, and tradition has also suggested that she was the Mother of the other James, along with his brother, John. They are also sometimes referred to as the sons of Zebedee. If this is true, this is the same woman who unflatteringly is exposed in the scriptures as the Mom who has Jesus to be certain that her sons occupied the two seats on his immediate right and left when his Kingdom came into power. (Matthew 20:20-28)

But, I digress from the purpose of this particular blog entry. What really caught my eye was the mention in verses 5-7 of a young man seated inside on the right side of the tomb. While Mark doesn't explain the identity of this young man, I think based upon the other three gospel writers description of the tomb experiences, that this was almost certainly an angel who had the appearance of a young man.

By the way, the drawing that is shown at the top of this entry comes from a collection called, "Phillip Medhurst Collection of Biblical Illustrations". From what I was able to find in researching that collection, it appears to have taken place in the mid-1800's in England. However, most of the sketches included in it date back another three or four hundred years earlier. So, this copy of the particular sketch may be taken from the original which may have been constructed more than five hundred years ago.

The reason I bring all of this up is that as I read these verses again more closely, I felt as if the Lord were showing me some really wonderful things about what heaven is going to be like.  In no particular order, five things jumped out at me about what life is going to be like in our resurrected bodies.

1. This is quite obvious, but, our bodies are going to be visible ones. We will not be some whispery vapor, no Casper the Ghost floating around on a cloud. This angel's presence was as real and viable as any other person on earth has ever appeared.

2. Our bodies will be a recognizable ones. While they did not know this particular young man, we know from at least two other scriptural occasions that people from heaven are recognizable. When Peter, James and John accompany Jesus on to the Mount of Transfiguration, they look up and see Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. I am pretty sure no one was wearing name tags that day but they were clearly identifiable to the three disciples although there time on early pre-dated when they were living by hundreds of years. More powerfully, when Jesus spent his forty days of earth after the resurrection, all of his followers immidately recognized him while he was in their presence. What I think this means that is so great, is that in heaven, not only will recognize the people there we previously knew on earth, we will have such magnified intelligence and awareness that we will immediately know who EVERYONE in heaven is. How great is that!

3. Our bodies will be powerful ones. In verses 3-4, the women are shown wondering how they are going to be able to get into the tomb since the stone barred entry from the outside and escape from the inside. Josh McDowell in his excellent writings about the death and resurrection of Jesus suggests that the rock may have been so large to have weighed in excess of 1,000 pounds. However, the stone is rolled away and the implication is that this young man, this one angel, was more than capable of doing that which for an ordinary human being is impossible. The abilities of our resurrected bodies will be so amazingly more powerful in every respect to the current limitations that we face. 

4. Our bodies will be youthful ones. I admit that there was a time in my life when I didn't appreciate this fact nearly as much as I do today at the age of 63. I remember how great it was to have a young body which tight, fresh, unaged, and an unlined skin. Those days are long gone! However, this angel's appearance suggests to be something so wonderful about heaven. When we finally come home, there will be no more old age appearance, no more old aged maladies, and no more old aged illnesses. When I think about that, Paul's word in 2 Corinthians 5:17 take on new meaning for me. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation...the old is gone, the new has come!".

5. I have saved the best for last. The young man was dressed in a white robe. Everytime we see the color white in the New Testament, it refers to holiness - an absence of the presence of sin. That can only mean one thing. Our bodies will be purified ones. We will be creatures without sin, without the influences of sin, without the imaginations of sin, and best of all, without the destructive impact  that sin has had on our minds, spirits, souls, and bodies. But, praise God, no more!

Isaiah said it first (Isaiah 64:4)  and then Paul quoted him in 1 Corinthians 2:9;

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

If that were not enough to whet the appetite for heaven, add unto it these words of the Apostle John, in 1 John 3:2.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Sometimes, it almost more than I can take in - to imagine what a day that will be.

 

Post a Comment





June 20, 2017, 9:26 AM

The Blog Is Back!



Yes, it has been a long time but you can start watching for updates from me on a consistent and frequent basis going forward.

I'm looking forward to providing a new venue for communication with our readers.

Watch for an update by Thursday each week.

Blessings!

 

 


Page 1 2 3   Entries 1-5 of 11
Contents © 2018 The Journey Church | Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.net | Privacy Policy