Pastor Scallions’ Pen

June 7, 2019

Commencement Address – Fairview Christian Academy

             Last Friday, May 31, I spoke to the 41st graduating class of the Fairview Christian Academy.  I was honored to address these exemplary young people, the parents, extended families and a host of friends at this momentous occasion.  As students of the Fairview Christian Academy, many since K-4, their training was extensive and productive.  The academy equipped them academically and intellectually.  They had matured with a Christian worldview and individual spiritual and ministry emphasis. 

The following is a brief summary of my remarks to the 2019 graduating class of Fairview Christian Academy:

            A little known verse of Scripture about a little known Bible character is found at the close of Paul’s letter to the church at Colossi.  His name is Archippus.  He is mentioned twice in Paul’s writings once in Colossians 4 and then again in Philemon chapter 1.  Paul defines him as a fellow soldier and admonished him personally with five words of exhortation.  “And say to Archippus, take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord that thou fulfill it” (Colossians 4:17).

Paul wanted his fellow soldier to succeed and to live an effective life serving others.  The very fact that he personally addressed Archippus lets us know that Paul considered him worthy of his investment.

His first words were, “take heed” or “stop and think” where you are in life, what and who brought you to this place, and what are your plans for the future.  Gratitude to those who have helped…parents, teachers, friends, and others who played a roll requires “taking heed” or “stopping to reflect.”

The second word of admonition is the phrase “to the ministry” or “serve.”  It was apparent that Archippus was serving.  It is thought that he might have been the pastor of the church in Philemon’s house.  We live in a self-serving, indulgent culture, which is a stark contrast to the minister of God whose life is a life of service.  Each believer is called into full-time Christian service.  We simply have different job descriptions.           

Paul then states to Archippus, “which thou hast received.”  His third word is “surrender.”  God, in His ultimate and great plan of the ages, has given each of us a tiny portion of ministry.  It is a gift for us to receive.  It is a debt for which we are responsible.  It is a calling we are to surrender to.  It is an opportunity we dare not allow to pass.

The fourth part of this verse identified to Archippus, a ministry received “in the Lord.”  This phrase adds the spiritual dimension to the equation.  We are “in” the circle.  He is Lord of the ministry we receive.  There is no dichotomy of the secular and the spiritual.  What surprises me is that God could use any of us.  The fact is that it is His ministry.  We are His twice over:  by creation and by redemption.  The world is His and all that is in it.  No wonder Paul reminded Archippus that his ministry was “in the Lord.”

All words lead up to the final phrase – “that thou fulfill it.”  Paul wanted Archippus to succeed in his life and ministry.  The thrill of his heart was his great desire to see Archippus and others make the best of the opportunities and possibility in life.  None of us know or realize the great and unknown powers and possibility that lie dormant within us and before us.  Who knows whom by hard work and diligence may become the outstanding leader of this generation.

The height by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” (Longfellow)

The list is short of those who succeed; yet, those who go before, root for each one who strives.  To pursue success in any field is to first redefine it from outcome to obedience.  To fulfill your ministry requires thousands of right decisions that often drive a person through the pain and problems of the process.  Medical articles prior to 1954 stated that it was physically impossible for the human body to run a four-minute mile.  Then, a medical student, Roger Bannister, broke that glass ceiling.  Because of his pioneer example, many others have sought and achieved this once thought impossible goal.

Edison was slow to learn in school but the entire world knows his fame and contributions.  Take, for instance, D.L. Moody with his fifth grade education impacted two continents with his life.  Nature teacher us it takes time to come to maturity.  Seed that is sown in earth takes time to germinate and bring forth fruit.  So it is in the lives of men.  It took John Milton 40 years to produce Paradise Lost.  John Bunyan spent twelve years behind the locked doors of Bedford Jail, to write Pilgrim’s Progress.

Let us have worthy goals in life and whatever we do, let us do all to the glory and honor of God and the uplifting of humanity.  Let us strive with all our might, for we only pass this was but once.

It is apparent that Paul loved Archippus.  He wanted him to fulfill the ministry that was granted to him by God and could only be completed by him.  I share this same desire for the graduates of the Fairview Christian Academy.  I, personally,

believe they will succeed; after all, with the training and encouragement they have received how could they fail?  As they fulfill their ministry in life’s journey, we all share our anticipation penned by Johnson Oatman, Jr.:

I’m pressing on the upward way,

New heights I’m gaining every day;

Still praying as I’m onward bound,

“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

I want to scale the utmost height,

And catch a gleam of glory bright;

But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,

“Lord, lead me on to higher ground.

 

May 31st, 2019

What is Really Valuable?

            We often confuse the price of something with true value.  As a result of this confusion, life can be wasted on trinkets.  I read where a burger sold at Serendipity 3 in New York City, held together with a solid gold diamond encrusted toothpick, for $285.00.  A 1962 Ferrari sold at auction for 35 million dollars.   One square meter of real estate in downtown Tokyo sold for $1,200.00.  The Hope Diamond on exhibition in the Smithsonian has a price tag of 350 million.  Raphael’s Head of a Muse drawing sold for 47.9 million.  A parking spot in the 8th story luxury condominium at 66 E. 11th Street in downtown Manhattan went for one million dollars.  A Honduran cigar shipped in a camel bone chest sold for $1,150.00 each.  A bottle of 1907 champagne discovered in a century old shipwreck was priced at $25,000.

            Several years ago, I remember, one speech by Bill Clinton drew a $500,000 honorarium.  An article in the “Chronicle of Higher Education” reported that the highest paid public employee is, most likely, a college football or basketball coach.  Case in point:  Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s basketball coach, has a reported annual salary of $7,233,976, not counting any endorsements.  Contrast that with the national average starting teacher’s salary at $38,617, while the average teacher salary in America (non-starting) is $58,950.00.

            Who makes these value decisions and what criteria are used to calculate the final tally?  Is it based off of ownership?  Certainly John Wayne’s hat or Elvis’s guitar would fetch a high price because of their owners.  Maybe it is the ultimate ability to meet a need.  In certain circumstances the value of a glass of water would exceed the value of a glass of gold.  A one of a kind item will often sell at a high price because of it rarity.  The previous owner or the age of the item will play into the asking price.

            God has quite a bit to say in His Word concerning what is really valuable.  We must begin with the soul of any man.  Matthew 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Life is brief at best.  Man was created as a living soul with eternal destination being the question.  What value would you place on your eternal soul?  In considering things of value, we must think of the commodity of time.  How sad when we speak of wasting time, or killing time when each second that ticks away reduces the amount left.  A man’s account is opened each day with 86,400 second deposited.  We cannot hold over from yesterday or draw from tomorrow.  As the day ends, we lose what we fail to invest.

            While listing things with real value, my mind turned to true friendship.  It has been said that a friend is someone who knows all about you and likes you anyway.  It is actually much more than that.  The Greek word we get our word, ‘friend’ from is reciprocal.  Certainly, friendship is a two-way street.  Solomon stated it this way, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). 

            High on the list of value is a virtuous woman.  Proverbs 31:10 states her price is far above rubies.  Strategic in importance to family, community, and our nation, a graceful, godly lady elevates all that she touches.

            God has a perfect will for each person.  The reasonable service of all is to present ourselves a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice to God.  We are transformed by the renewing of our minds through God’s Word and rejecting conformity to this world system.  All this found in Romans 12:1-2 leads to discernment of God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will for our lives.  To travel life’s journey on an off road and miss God’s perfect will is to embrace an existence and miss countless and valuable opportunities presented in God’s will.  Knowing and doing God’s will is of utmost value.

After seventy-five years, more than two-thirds as a Christian, I cherish the reputation of a good name.  Certainly a valuable asset in any person’s life is an untarnished testimony.  The wise man stated in Proverbs 22:1a, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”  The same writer in his later years wrote, “A good name is better than precious ointment” (Ecclesiastes 7:1).

Over the years, I have asked my Heavenly Father for many things.  A recurring request has been for wisdom.  Proverbs 3:15 tells me that it is more precious than gold.  James assures us that God will give it liberally to those who request it.  Wisdom is valuable in order that our life decisions may align with God’s Word.  I am constantly amazed at the wisdom found in Scripture.  It is impossible to pose a topic that is not covered in precept or principle.  Show me a man, or woman, who applies Biblical wisdom in every day circumstances of life and I will declare that you have found a wise person who discovered a thing of value.  There is a marked difference between intellect and wisdom.  The Bible holds little value to the reader unless it is mixed with actual life faith that translates into action. (Hebrews 4:2)

I cannot think of anything more sad than living a life surrounded by trinkets and bobbles and refusing those things that are of real value.  It is an easy step to crave what an unconverted world exalts; yet, in the end, it is always wood, hay, and stubble.

Redeem the valuable.  Be serious about appropriating true wealth.  The gold, silver, and precious stones are limited in quantity but available to all who hold timeless value in the things God declares as precious.  Learn early, and embrace fervently life’s truly valuable things . . . “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorry with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

May 24th, 2019

Nobody is Talking About the BABY

            I recently watched a panel discussion that reviewed the topic of abortion.  The point was presented as an exposition of the recent decision of the State of Alabama enacting legislation to restrict abortion after a baby’s heartbeat could be detected.  I watched and listened intently because to me abortion has always been a terrible act and nothing short of murder of the most innocent and unprotected of humanity.  Each member of the panel predictably gave their talking points and verbalized their political platitudes.  The validity of Roe vs. Wade and its precedent as the law of the land was a driving argument of one panelist.  Another spoke of the reproductive rights of women and to the sanctity of a woman’s body.  The pro-choice business community and the Hollywood stars presented the financial issue along with the boycott of the State of Alabama.  Politicians were quoted, particularly prospective candidates for office, as they were horrified that right wing extremists, not only in Alabama, but also across the country, were attempting to destroy the longstanding Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.  Right on cue, a panel member projected this move by Alabama would result in more abortions by unsafe, illegal means.

            One by one the typical jargon droned on.  I watched and listened hoping for a slight mention of the most important entity of the topic only to be disappointed as usual.  In the exhaustive discussion, not one person ever mentioned the BABY.  In fact, it seems that great care was taken not to, in any way, declare that what was being talked about was the murder of a BABY.  I futilely spoke to the T.V. screen, “What about the BABY?”  Is that a real heartbeat we are talking about that can be detected at six weeks or earlier?  Does the fact that the heart is beating give rise to the greater truth:  that life is flowing through that heart.  That mysterious ingredient, whose origin is God, stimulating that little fleshly organ is about to be destroyed if the abortionists have their way?

            From day one, no, from the moment the nuclei of the ovum and sperm unite and 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 chromosomes from the father, carrying some 15,000 genes, a new life begins.  Recognizing that from the moment of conception, this is not a potential human being but a human being with great potential drastically changes the discussion.  Think a moment about the BABY -- a unique individual who never existed before in the history of the world.  At day one, so tiny, smaller than a grain of sand, or a period typed at the end of a sentence; yet, possessing life until natural or violent death overtakes it.  After the first week, this tiny BABY has nested in its mother’s womb and begins to tap into tiny blood vessels and draw nourishment.  By the second week, the umbilical cord, the amniotic sac with the placenta has comprised a self-generated space capsule and life support system for the development of the BABY.  By the end of the first month, the BABY’S spinal column and nervous system are forming.  Simple kidneys, a liver, and the digestive tract are already taking shape.  Just four weeks old, the BABY is now ten thousand times larger than the fertilized egg.  After two short months, brains waves can be detected.  Ears, nose, lips, tongue and eyes are formed with the skeleton changing from cartilage to true bone by the end of the second month.  The BABY has developed and grown to an inch or more in length.  In the BABY’S third month of life, fingers and toes are formed and it becomes apparent whether the BABY is a boy or a girl.  At four months, the heart can be plainly heard and is pumping up to twenty-five quarts of blood a day.  Fine hair begins to grow and the baby is eight to ten inches long.  After the next two months (five and six), the BABY’S lungs are usually well developed and can be born, though premature, could survive with adequate care.  During the last three months (seven through nine), the BABY will triple in weight.  Approximately one week before the two hundredth and sixtieth day, the BABY will stop growing and drop, usually head downward into the pelvic cavity, and wait for the drama of birth.  When the BABY changes places of residence from its mother’s body, it also changes its external life support system and eating habits to continue a life begun nine months earlier.

            So why is no one talking about the BABY?  After all, there are only three people involved—the mother, the abortionist, and the BABY.  The rights of the mother and the abortionist dominate the conversation.  We spin on and on about reproductive rights—the right to have an abortion and the right of a doctor to kill the BABY but is anyone talking about the BABY’S rights?  More importantly, since the BABY is unable to protect him or herself, are we not responsible to assure the BABY of his or her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

            As a pastor and Bible-believer for over a half century, I am positive that Scripture condemns abortion and that life begins at conception.  Medical science has been catching up to absolute Bible truth for years and concurs when evaluated honestly.  So doesn’t it make sense to begin a conversation about the BABY?

            My wife and I have three children and seven grandchildren.  Along with those, my wife had a miscarriage.  This little boy waits for us in Heaven.  Although he was just shy of four months old (from the moment of conception) we had picked out names and envisioned holding him.  Although we were not sure the baby was a boy I thought he would give us the two and two to round out our family.

            The issue becomes clearer whenever I open my Bible, hold a baby in my arms, walk by our church nursery, or go to a hospital to congratulate a family that has a new baby.  Whenever I see a woman holding a sign promoting abortion, I often think:  her mind would certainly change if she were holding a baby instead.  This is not a complicated issue if we stop talking about the non-essentials and just talk about the BABY.

May 17th, 2019

God’s Plan and Purpose for the Ages

God has a plan and purpose for the ages.  We forget that from God’s creation of man, He has been working that plan.  Each human being is a piece of that puzzle.

Time is an island in the sea of eternity.  It is an invention of God that began with man and will end with man. God is eternal.  He is always the same –yesterday, today, and forever.

Throughout the course of time, God has progressively revealed Himself to man.  A dispensation is a period of time in which God deals with man in a particular way with respect to sin, man’s responsibility, and His revealed purposes.  The dispensations form a skeleton that when fleshed out reveal God’s plan and purpose for the ages.  The word, “dispensation” means, “the administration of the affairs of a house” or “house law and rule.”  Each dispensation begins with a covenant and ends in a judgment.  There are seven basic dispensations and eight covenants some conditional and some unconditional.

The first dispensation takes us back to the Garden of Eden.  Man lived under the most favorable conditions.  Man had one test in obedience to the will of God.  He failed to obey and was cast from the Garden in judgment.  Untried virtue is not virtue at all; therefore the first dispensation was called innocence.  It is interesting that in man’s first sin we have also the first promise of the Redeemer in Genesis 3:15.  After the Creation and the expulsion from the Garden, man knew good and evil.  He became conscious to avoid evil and to do right.  Conscience will not bring a man back to God because it can be programmed, seared, and defiled.  All men today fall under the Adamic Covenant and continues to sin.

The third dispensation began with the Noahic Covenant; and is the dispensation of Human Government.  Genesis 6-11 records the worldwide flood and Noah’s three sons becoming the heads of nations where men would rule over other men to bring order and purpose to life.  Capitol punishment was introduced.  Regardless of the types of human government enacted over the centuries, none has had the effect of bringing man to God.

In Genesis chapters 10 and 11, God reached into the mass of humanity and selected one man from the Ur of the Chaldees, a descendent of Shem and began with this man a nation.  This nation would bring three things to the world:  the knowledge of monotheism in a polytheistic world, the Christ our Redeemer, and the written Word of God.  This dispensation we call Promise.  It began with the Abrahamic Covenant and promised a land, a people, and a blessing.  From that point forward in Scripture, the nation of Israel is historically woven throughout human history.  God moved the sons of Jacob and their families into Egypt when there were only 70 souls.  The next 430 years confined in Egypt, Israel increased to over 600,000 men not counting women and children and was liberated by the next covenant named the Mosiac Covenant.  In the Mosaic Covenant God gave the Law on Mt. Sinai to the nation.  It was prescribed in ten specific commandments, a host of judicial commandments, and the specifications for the Tabernacle and the sacrificial law.  This dispensation applied only to the Jew in practice but contained timeless principles for all mankind.  This dispensation of the law was born from a conditional covenant.

Today we live in a period we call Grace.  The Law was nailed to the Cross.  The Holy Spirit came to indwell believers and the Church as an organism was born.  This dispensation will end with the Rapture.  The covenant is called the New Covenant. The dreaded Tribulation will be the judgment for this age as well as the age of Conscience, Promise, and Human Government.  After the seven years of Tribulation and the judgment of the anti-Christ, the second phase of the Second Coming of Christ will see Christ come back to this earth to literally reign on a literal throne in the literal city of Jerusalem for 1,000 literal years.  This dispensation is called the Kingdom or Millennium.  The covenant of this age is the Davidic Covenant.

If I could have chosen a time in human history to live, it would be now.  Biblical prophecies are being fulfilled almost daily.  Israel is in their homeland.  The European Common Market has been formed.  Arabic nations are aligned against Israel (Ezekiel 37 and 38).  Our economy is swiftly moving toward a cashless society, paving the way for the antichrist and the Mark of the Beast.  The One World Order and the U.N., along with the ecumenical movement will be the platform for the antiChrist to come to power in the Tribulation following the Rapture of the Church.  Abortion and the homosexual movement are both indictors of society’s total depravity and coming judgment.

We are truly coming to the close of this Age of Grace.  I Thessalonians 4 records that the Age of Grace will end with Christ returning to earth to receive the Church to Himself.  The Bema Seat (judgment of Christians for degrees of reward in Heaven) will follow along with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Heaven.  The seven-year Tribulation will begin on earth and consummate with Christ returning with the Church at the close of the Tribulation.  His feet will alight on the Mount of Olives.  He will enter Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate and begin the millennial reign.  I personally believe my generation will be the generation to see this happen.

With each dispensation man has greater light and therefore greater accountability.  “To whom much is given, much shall be required” (Luke 12:48).  Time will cease one day and eternity will begin again.  Each person has eternal life.  Eternal destination is the question.  Each person from Adam to the end of the Kingdom Age has a role to play and is a piece of the puzzle of God’s plan and purpose of the ages.  For anyone to miss the perfect will of God for his or her lives would be a total waste with an eternal regret.  For this alone my greatest fear is not that I will not succeed, but that I will succeed in that that does not matter.

May 10th, 2019

The World’s Most Influential Position

Mother is indeed a sweet word and the station is indeed a holy one; for in her hands lives are placed to be molded almost at her will.  The memories of my mother are precious to me.  Although she had barely a sixth grade education, her wisdom rivaled any Supreme Court Justice.  She placed her stamp of goodness on my life and all that I am for time and eternity, I owe to her.  Others have echoed my testimony of appreciation for my mother through the ages.  

Mothers are special.  You cannot walk in a midnight haunt where she cannot see you.  You cannot enter a prison whose bars will keep her out.  You cannot mount a scaffold too high for her to reach.  When the world shall despise and forsake you, when it leaves you by the wayside, the dear old mother will gather you up in her feeble arms and carry you home.  

Motherhood is by far the most influential position in the world.  It has been well said, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”  Susannah Wesley helped shape the spiritual history of two continents in rearing John and Charles Wesley.  The Apostle Paul gave credit to Timothy’s mother and grandmother in II Timothy 1:5.  Elisha was cared for in Shunem by a great woman of perception and hospitality.  A generous woman of beautiful countenance, named Abigail, aided David.  Eli met a burdened woman, named Hannah, who became the mother of Samuel.  A Gentile, named Ruth, from Moab received Naomi’s God and became a link in the genealogy of the Messiah.  Esther, a Jewish maid, became a queen and saved her people.  Sarah called Abraham “lord’ and gave birth to the patriarch, Isaac, in her old age.  While Jesus taught, Martha served and Mary sat at His feet choosing the best part.  Jochabed hid her son in a wicker basket in Egypt’s bulrushes and raised Israel’s deliverer.  Solomon gave a complete chapter to a great woman in Proverbs 31, no doubt thinking of his own mother.  The first Gentile convert of Philippi was Lydia, the seller of purple.  Elisabeth craved a son and God gave her John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ.  Christ spoke seven times from the cross; once assigning care for His mother to the Apostle John.

Simon Peter listed the attributes of a great woman in I Peter 3:3-4, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting of the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”  The Apostle Paul also visits this topic in I Timothy 2:9-15.  Both authors stress that women are to be adorned with modesty as the standard.  The word, ‘shamefacedness’ is to be ‘red-faced.’  In our culture, we would speak of the blush in the cheek indicating bashfulness.  A sign of the coarseness of society is that women lose their blush.  Being sober or serious about a woman’s role as wife and mother brings real reward and fulfillment.  Contentment and patience in accepting God’s assigned authority and leadership produces godliness.  God rewards women by their awesome contribution in joining with God in the producing and training of the next generation.  Elsie Duncan’s poem in Sunshine Magazine entitled, “Her Occupation” lauded the daily life of a mother:

One day the census taker called and wrote down in a book,

And so, as I was hanging ‘round, I thought I’d take a look.

He had our names and ages all, and put down dad’s vocation;

And after Mother’s name he wrote she had “no occupation.”

Why Mother’s up before it’s light, and through the work she races;

She starts the breakfast, straightens things, and washes all the faces.

She packs our lunches, finds our books—of course, it keeps her busy.

She washes, irons, sweeps and dusts—you’d think she would be dizzy!

She bakes a cake and maybe pies; she finds some time for sewing!

There’s mending, making over, too, because we all are growing.

Then dinner comes, and dishes next, first one thing then another;

And when our homework bothers us, we say, “Please help us, Mother.”

So she keeps going all the time, and though she’s often weary;

She never gets real out of sorts—she’s always gay and cheery.

She keeps so busy every day and sure needs some vacation;

And yet, the census man wrote down, she had “no occupation.”

D.L. Moody said, “My mother prayed me through.”  Charles Spurgeon said, “I cannot tell how much I owe to the prayers of my good mother.”  Evangelist Billy Sunday said, “If you wish to hurt the Devil, don’t hit him with a crutch.  Hit him with the cradle.”  Daniel Webster remarked, “If there be ought of eloquence on my lips, it is because of Scripture learned at my mother’s knee.”  President Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”  Andrew Jackson stated, “The memory of my mother and her teachings were the only capital I had to start life with, and on that capital I have made my way.”

I remember some things at the cemetery where my Mother was buried though it’s been a number of years ago.  I remember the grave and the fake grass that covered the dirt clods in that little country cemetery.  I remember it was cold and there was a light snow falling.  I stood beside my sister.  I remember seeing the marker beside Momma’s grave where Daddy was placed two years before.  We said, “goodbye” to Mother.  Ah, but I’ll see my Mother again.  I said, “I’ll see you again!  In just a little while, I’ll see you again and thank you for being a godly, loving mother to me!”  She was valuable as all mothers are.

The world has need of gentle hearts

Love that’s warm and true.

Kindness, comfort, helping hands

Mothers just like you.

You’ve made the world a better place

With your thoughtfulness and love.

So may your day be blessed

With all that you’re deserving of.

Happy Mother’s Day!