Once we become followers of Christ the propensity to go astray is real. We choose daily whether we will abide in Christ or follow the impulses of our sinful nature. Psalm 107 describes four different groups of people who each went astray for different reasons. Thankfully, God doesn’t just let us run away. His steadfast love for His people cannot be quenched. He will never leave us or abandon us, even in our worst seasons. He tenderly invites us back, and if we will not listen, He orchestrates circumstances—even severe afflictions—to bring us to a place of humility and crying out to Him. God then answers our cry and rescues us. The psalm describes a cycle of straying/affliction/desperate prayer/rescue. This type of cycle is miserable and Scott gives some strong encouragements at the end about how to not live a “roller coaster Christian life”. The secret is the fear of the Lord.
Sorrow is an unavoidable part of the human experience and, as followers of Christ, we are not exempt. Jesus Himself was called a “man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53) and Paul said he was “sorrowful yet rejoicing” (2 Corinth 6:10). In this world we will experience sorrow. The experience of sorrow can be dangerous if we let it draw us away from God and into sin. But sorrow can actually be a thing that drives us into the depths of God and it can shape our lives in significant ways. God gives us Psalm 42 as a gift to show us the way to pray through even our worst seasons of prolonged sorrow. This message goes out especially to all those who have been dwelling in the valley of discouragement.
Carrying out God’s mission can be difficult. But God doesn’t leave us without a guide. Psalm 67 teaches us that Christ-centered prayer, praise and justice all lead to the exaltation of God through the exultation of his people. In other words, God saves and his people sing, so that the world might join in and sing as well!
In this last message of the Ren 101 series Scott lays out a clear vision of what devotion to the church looks like. The norm in much of modern Christianity in America is nominalism. A strong argument against shoddy worship is given and an exhortation to give God the kind of worship He deserves. The aim of this talk was to inspire each person in the church to play their part well and to strive toward full devotion.
The invitation to dream big is found throughout Scripture but it’s easy to fall into thinking small for a variety of reasons: false humility, laziness, ignorance of the resources of God, delay, norms in the Church and so on. God tells us in the Word that “without a vision the people perish”. It is imperative for a church to have a collective dream they are striving for together or else they will fall into lethargy and even become lifeless. Scott spends most of this message talking about the dreams he has for Ren but in the last part presses home the importance of faith. That it’s not enough to just dream; we must dream according to God’s will; we must dream God’s dreams. Strong exhortation is given to stand firm in faith believing that God will do what He said He will do in time. An invitation is given at the end to pray the prayer of Habakkuk—“O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2
Since the church began in 2003 we have worked hard to articulate in writing and preaching the essential ethos of the church. Ethos is what drives us. It's the culture of Ren. In one sense all churches everywhere in every generation should have fixed aspects but in another sense each local church takes on unique shapes to incarnate the Gospel in the particular settings they are embedded in. This message is another attempt to bring clarity to what Ren holds dear as a church. Pastor Scott shares ten aspects of ethos that have distinguished the church since its inception. Messages like this are important not only for people trying to determine if Ren is a good fit but also as a reminder to the Core members of what sort of church we are striving to be.
As we enter 2019 and the 16th anniversary of Renaissance Church, Pastor Scott walks us through the early trials and hard lessons he’s had to learn as a church planter in New England. But from location to location, as God continues to pour out a fuller vision for what Ren is meant to be, what stands clear through the years is that God answers those who seek Him desperately.
This is the first message in a series exploring what God says about the church. A foundation is laid for the idea of membership and a strong argument is presented for the full devotion of each member. Pastor Scott also talks about the decline of the American Church and the great need for personal renewal in order to be fully functioning healthy members of a local church. The overall aim of this pastoral talk is to ignite a more full devotion to building what God is building.
This Psalm of David gives clear insight into how God works in the life of someone who cries out to the Lord. God works on our behalf. He brings relief in our times of distress. He puts love in us even for those who are hostile toward us. He lavishes supernatural joy upon us. Several verses of this psalm are directed toward those in society who were buying into false ideas. David encourages them to be silent and place their trust in the Lord. This message is an an encouragement to believers who find themselves in a society that has rejected the Gospel. Toward the end of the talk Pastor Scott gives personal testimony of how God has met him in his times of distress and has put joy in his heart greater than anything this world could give.
This is a motivational psalm perfect for the start of a new year. The psalmist urges God’s people to worship with joy, to be humble and to obey the voice of the Lord. And then strong reasons are given to do these things. This message explores the nature of worship and gives practical insights on how to excel in worship. The main idea of the message is that what we think about determines not only what we worship but the intensity of our worship—“as a man thinks so he is”. Much encouragement to feed the mind through Christian meditation is given. This is a great sermon especially for those who feel like their worship experience is a little flat and uninspiring lately. There is hope for the new year!