We are excited to announce some new features to the blogsite. As more and more readers are viewing from foreign countries we have added the translate feature to the site. Our readers can also now choose to have the blog emailed to them, and they can search the blog by keywords on various topics. We hope that this makes the site more manageable for you. God Bless.

Hear current audio messages by Pastor Scott Burr at:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

“Picture Perfect Christmas?”

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Luke 1:26-28

Like most newly engaged couples, I imagine that Joseph and Mary had dreams and plans for their life together. I’m sure they talk about things like…Where they would live and how many kids they would have. Everything seemed picture perfect!

Even the birth of their first child is captured in serene perfection. Just look at any Nativity Scene and you will see an adoring mother, precious baby, proud father, astonished shepherds and worshipping wise men. A picture perfect first Christmas filled with love, angelic worship, peace on earth, and the priceless gift of salvation.

All true and very wonderful because that is how we have crafted it to look. Unfortunately we have romanticized the reality out of the first Christmas which, in turn, has crippled many people’s ability to experience the “Merry” in Christmas.

Unlike the traditional Nativity Scene, most of our Christmases are not peaceful and serene and, if I could be so bold to say it, neither was the very first one. That loving couple adoring the child in the manger in all of our Nativity scenes, just a few months before that moment, were on the verge of divorce!

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

Matthew 1:18-19

Although we know that the angel Gabriel came to Joseph and assured him of God’s plan, they still had to contend with friends and family who assumed Mary had been acting immorally and got pregnant by someone other than Joseph. There was real stress in their relationship. Not the best way to start off a marriage.

Joseph and Mary eventually settle in Nazareth. Around the time when the child was to be born, the Governor called for a census of the people. Everyone was required to return to where they were born and register. Joseph was from Bethlehem approximately 80 miles away. A four day journey, over rough terrain, riding on a donkey is not ideal for a woman who is nine months pregnant.

To make matters worse, once they finally arrive in Bethlehem, there is nowhere for them to stay. The inn is full, and no one has room to take them in. They are forced to stay in a stable. Conditions were “less” than favorable. No doctors. No nurses. No monitoring devices. Not hot water. No blankets, just dirt, hay and smelly animals. Not the picture perfect place or way to bring a child into the world.

To make matters worse, after the wise men come to worship the newborn king. Joseph, Mary and Jesus are forced to flee for their lives to Egypt:

“When Herod realized he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under; in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”

Matthew 2:16

On top of their lives being at risk, Joseph lost his job. They lost their home. They were separated from their family and friends. This is not the picture perfect way to end the story of Christmas. There are no Christmas cards bearing these images, no songs written commemorating these events, no nativity scenes based on this part of the story. Why? Because we CHOOSE not to focus on the hardships, difficulties and negatives surrounding Christ’s birth and have chosen to focus on the blessings of Christ!

You may be going through some trials, hardships and difficulties too right now, if so, it seems to me you are in good company. The question is, will you choose to focus on the hardships or will you choose to focus on the blessings of Christ.

In the end, situations and circumstances may not be perfect, but Christ remains the same. If you keep your eyes fixed on Him you will have “Merry” Christmases year after year.

Pastor Scott Burr

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

“Temple or Marketplace?”

(Part 3)

“But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”
John 2:21-22

How many know that there is a difference between Wal-Mart and church? Wal-Mart is designed to be a marketplace. It is designed to display goods, promote products and facilitate purchases. Its doors open wide to everyone and everything is fair game to be exchanged. Church, on the other hand is designed for worshipping God, receiving His Word, and engaging His presence.

As temples of the Holy Spirit we were not designed to be a marketplace! We were created to house the presence of God. Everything is not fair game and not everything should be let in. Interestingly enough, Wal-Mart isn’t opposed to God. It is willing to give Him an end-cap with all the rest of the things inside. However, we were not created to give God an end-cap in our lives. We were created to be a “house of prayer” engaging the presence and person of God. Unfortunately, many people have a marketplace mentality, allowing anything and everything into their lives. Like Jesus, we must recognize the need to drive some things out of the temple area!

Jesus’ frustration that day was not in what He found in the Temple. He was angry that it had not been driven out already by those who were responsible for the Temple! The high priests were responsible for what came into the temple courts and the activities that took place there. You are the high priest of this Temple. You are responsible for what takes place in these Temple courts. If Jesus, came to the temple today and stood at the doorpost of your heart, would he hear the sound of worship, prayer and praise or would he hear “Hi, Welcome to Wal-Mart”?

Jesus is passionate about this! He cleansed the temple, not once, but twice; once early in his ministry (after the miracle in Cana) and again at Passover, three years later just before His crucifixion. Cleansing our Temple is not a one-time event, but it is a daily discipline of a God-honoring life!

Pastor Scott Burr

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

“Temple or Marketplace?”

(Part 2)

“So Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove them all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those selling the doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s House into a market!”

John 2:15-16

As Jesus’ disciples watched this, they remembered Psalm 69:9 describing the coming Messiah- “Zeal for Your House consumes me!” However, as the disciples were connecting Jesus with scripture, the religious were becoming infuriated. They loathed the fact that this man was challenging the way there were conducting themselves. They demanded Jesus to give them a miraculous sign to prove He had the authority to do and say such things! Jesus’s answer:

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”- John 2:19

The Jews denounced him saying, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple and you are going to raise it in 3 days?” However, the temple he spoke of was his body! Jesus referred to His body as the Temple of God. Did you know that your body is the Temple of God according to Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:16 states that “We are the temple of the living God.”, 1 Corinthians 3:16 declares that “You yourselves are God’s Temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you.”, and 1 Corinthians 6:19 affirms that
“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

Scripture is clear that you are the Temple of God. The question is, “How zealous are you for the House of God?” If Jesus were to come into the Temple, what would He find? Like the temple in Jesus’ day, this temple (your body) is designed to be a house of prayer, a place of holiness, a place where the Presence of God resides. Have we exchanged the truth of God for a lie? Have we compromised our faith for a comfortable lifestyle? Have we bought into the world system or sold our souls for wealth, power and influence. Have we made ourselves a marketplace rather than a temple?

Pastor Scott Burr