I began working for Scott in September of 2003, and was lucky enough to continue that until Sep. of 2007. Yes, I said lucky. At Presbytery I mentioned the blessing of sitting under so many good men, but I called it luck. The examiner said, “So Matt, you mentioned luck… Do you believe in luck, and if so how would you differentiate that between Karma, etc.” I was also asked about the snake handling verses in Mark – but this is all clearly another blog!
Scott is the first pastor I really got to hear teach regularly. If you think 4 years, 200ish sermons; I assume i heard 150 at least (counting his vacations, mine, other preachers).
Scott did a couple of things I had never seen or heard. He was consistent and always kept the Gospel in the middle of whatever he was preaching on(which he defined in several ways; but what I remember most is, “You’re a mess, but you’re loved…” Probably more of both than you realize too). His consistent encouragement was to preach the Gospel to myself. The sometimes stated and sometimes-implied message was, ‘You do not believe the Gospel in a deep way’… Or at all… Or, there are these places it has not gone yet. For me the most powerful illustration was his ability (and mine) to eat an entire box of Cheez-Its. Scott has a psychological edge to his preaching (in my opinion), and he nailed me on this one. I can do that (eat the Cheez its, or goldfish) because I do not believe the Gospel… At least not in that moment, when I am so desperate to feel different that I just keep eating.
He had go to illustrations: his dog Sassy, Chesterton’s statement “I am what’s wrong with the world”, loved Zeph. 3:17, and Eph. 2 when Paul calls the Ephesians God’s Workmanship “Poema”, Eric Liddell and Chariots of Fire, Mariah Carey (who he would consistently use with the reminder, “She sold more albums than anyone except the Beatles and Elvis”) and how 1000 compliments did not outdo one negative remark, C.S. Lewis encouragement, “If you saw a person in glory you would be tempted to worship them”. Anne Lamott’s, “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
About a year after Scott left Riverside I realized that I was beginning to put into practice what he had encouraged us to do. I am thankful; I preach the Gospel to myself regularly – I am a mess, I am loved (I add a line too, but this blog is about Scott). A friend says that I preach a lot like Scott; I am flattered by that.