Saturday, August 30, 2014

What's in your mirror?

The image above has been plastered all over social media sites because we all can relate to it.

We all have dreams we want to turn into realities, and when we step in front of a mirror, we see the potential God has planted into us. We know He has been growing us to become the lion in the reflection.

But for the moment, if we were to be honest and see what the mirror truly reflects, many of us are still cats.

George Bernard Shaw understood this "mirror issue." Shortly before he died, a reporter asked him, "Mr. Shaw, if you could live your life over and be anybody you've known, or any person from history, who would you be?"

Shaw thoughtfully replied, " I would choose to be the man George Bernard Shaw could have been, but never was."

So when are you going to become the lion in the mirror? How much of your God-given potential are you going to leave untapped? When are you going to take the steps to fully become the man or woman God intends you to be?


Friday, August 29, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A mediocre Bible for college students ...

I love the fact that the Bible remains the best-selling book of all time.

I've also not been shy to state my disdain regarding how publishers treat the Bible as another product in the way they try to churn out a myriad of offerings for different "types" of Bibles to bolster their profits. There's the "recovery" Bible, men's study Bible, women's study Bible, teen study Bible, new believer Bible, and so on, all offered in different colors, covers, and designs. But when I saw that Zondervan had published the "College Bible: Devotional Version" (NIV version), I was curious and hopeful.

I was hopeful because I think it's those college years, when young adults take their first significant step away from home and not only into greater independence, but usually into an environment very hostile to their faith, that is one of the most impacting years of life. I was hopeful that, if a publisher really did want to publish a Bible version focused on meeting the needs of a particular audience, that this would be a great Bible college students could find great value in.

I was disappointed.

At least, regarding the emphasis on the college student.

The good thing is, this is a Bible, and if college students make that central to their lives, then they will have what they need to guide them through this time in their lives.

But as far as being a good resource beyond being a Bible, this new Bible misses the mark. Here is what Zondervan promotes as being the key features in this Bible:
  • 222 school-year devotions with daily insights on, and applications to, relevant topics.
  • Devotions use a unique storytelling approach to connect God's Word with your real-life questions, struggles, and decisions as a student.
  • A practical reading plan that helps you stay connected to God during the nine months of school each year.
  • Quick-start guide shows how to get the most out of reading the Bible.
  • Subject index for looking up topics of interest.
  • Complete text of the clear, accessible NIV Bible.
None of these features are unique, you'll find them in just about any study Bible on the market today. So, for this new Bible to have any additional relevance to college students, the devotions would need to be of high quality and really offer some significant value to college students in their new life experience.

That's where this Bible fails.

The devotions are very short, and of mediocre content; there is nothing about them particularly impactful to a young adult away from home for the first time. Given this fact, there's nothing that makes this Bible the preferred Bible version for a college student. In fact, other study Bibles have more resources than this Bible offers, and might be of greater value to a college student as far as study Bibles go.

I actually liked the concept of equipping college students with a great study Bible that could really provide them with study resources that speak to this time in their lives, but this Bible just didn't rise to the challenge.

That's okay.

As long as college students are willing to make the Bible, itself, their primary book of study as they move forward into their future, they'll have what they most need.


I received this book free from HarperCollins Christian Publishing as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Does God really want to use you in His kingdom?

A few days ago I overheard one Christian telling a few others that sometimes God might want to use us to do something for Him regarding His kingdom.

Yes, I bit my tongue instead of butting in.


There's a very non-biblical mindset among many Christians that God created us, gave us life, and then let us loose to be our own sovereign beings, molding life according to our own desires, and every now and then He might ask us to do something for Him, as if we were a "neighbor god" he was seeking assistance from.

Wow, could we get the truth more wrong?!

Sin entered --- and wrecked --- this world when one of the first human beings bit into the temptation of wanting to be like God. But there's only one God, one sovereign Creator, and that's not you or me. Since that disastrous decision in a garden long ago, we've all made the same deadly choice, and God is the only one who could fix it.

He did.

Get this ...

"For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them ..." 2 Corinthians 5:19a.

God was so amazingly gracious in how He fixed our mess that He adopted us as His very own and, as His children, has made us His personal ambassadors to represent Him in this broken world. God doesn't just "sometimes" want to use us in His kingdom work, look at what God's design for us really is ...

"... and he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; GOD IS MAKING HIS APPEAL THROUGH US ..." 2 Corinthians 5:19b-20a.

Hmmm, reading that, I think God's plan is a little more than sometimes using us in His kingdom work. Rather, His appeal for reconciliation to a sinful, lost world ... get this ... is being made by God through us!

At least, it's supposed to be.

Are you an ambassador for God through whom He is making His appeal for reconciliation? If not, what do you think your role is His kingdom is supposed to be?


How to change someone's life ...

I hope the headline for this blog post captured your attention and genuinely interested you. Changing lives, whether yours or someone else's, is utterly essential.

So how do you do it? How do you change someone's life?

Introduce them to Jesus Christ.

That's it?

Yes, that's it.

You see, Jesus Christ is the Creator, everything was made by Him and for Him (Col. 1:15-16), and that "everything" includes you and me. He designed us for a purpose and it is only through Him that we can be whole and complete, that we can have life and life to its fullest (John 10:10). You might be able to moderate or even fix some of the circumstances you face in life, but in order to be transformed from someone who is spiritually dead to someone who has real life, you must surrender your entire life to Jesus.

And here's the big deal: everyone has sinned, and that means we're all spiritually dead. Every single one of us needs to be made alive, a whole new person, through Jesus Christ.

I share that because it's understanding this basic truth of the human condition that has led to the design of services that will make up the Scott Free Clinic when we are able to launch this ministry. It is our view that science is a gift from God, and that includes psychology. There is much that a competent, Christian clinical counselor can do to help bring significant change to the lives of his or her clients. But if you don't view your clients as being spiritual beings, and serve them from a holistic approach of mind, spirit, and body, you'll largely minister more to symptoms than to root causes. You may assist some surface level changes, but you won't see transformation that only Christ Himself can bring.

Therefore, part of our ministry is designed to consult with churches to help them become disciple-making churches, and specifically to train disciples of Christ to be able to competently and confidently share the Gospel with non-believers.

We're committed to helping Christians be able to share the Good News of Jesus so that lives can be fully transformed, fully changed through Christ, for the glory of God. Seeing lives changed is what is at the heart of this ministry, and by equipping believers to share the Gospel we can multiply the number of lives that will be transformed.

That doesn't mean we won't offer comprehensive counseling services. Quite the opposite, as such clinical services will comprise much of what we offer. We have churches full of Christians who are still hurting and need help. Those churches are in communities full of people who are lost, broken, hurting, and in need of help. We intend to offer that help both clinically and spiritually, and to help you be able to serve others who are broken and hurting and in need of help.

Do you know how to share the Gospel in a comprehensive, yet concise and effective way? If not, stay tuned to what we will be offering in evangelism training in different locations and via technology. And as we move this ministry forward, we'll invite you to let us know of your interest in being equipped personally, as well as opportunities to help your churches become disciple-making churches.

Together we can see many lives transformed as we partner together to introduce people to Jesus Christ! Pray with us as we move in that direction, there's exciting life-changing times ahead!

Dr. James Scott, Jr.
Founder & President, Scott Free Clinic

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

These parents need our prayers ...

There's an old story about two young children who were standing on the corner of a street, bragging about who had moved from state to state the most.

One little boy said, "My family has moved three times in the last three years."

"That's nothing!" said the other little boy. "My parents have moved five times this year --- and I found them every time!"

Parents sometimes joke about wishing they could get away from their kids. But not this time of year. This is the time of year that nostalgia hits parents like a ton of bricks, and they wish for just one more day with their child.

It's around this time every year that social media is flooded with pictures of children getting ready for the first day of school, and notes from parents who can't believe their child is that old, that tall, and going into that school grade.

But there's another group of parents out there who are really tugging on my heart. It's those parents who are saying goodbye to their children.

Not a permanent goodbye, but a goodbye nonetheless as they see their children take their first real step away from home as they head off to college.

Now, "college" may be across town, or across the state, but for some it's several states away. For all of them, their kids might as well be studying gravity on the moon as far as the distance is concerned because the bottom line is they are no longer home.

They're not away on a sleep over.

They're not visiting grandma and grandpa.

These "kids" --- young adults, really --- have taken their first permanent step out the door to begin forging their own lives as adults. While many of these parents are bursting with pride in their children who are stepping out into adulthood, there's a million different thoughts and emotions swirling around in their minds, causing some aching of the heart.

These parents won't be getting their children back; instead, their grown offspring will be returning for visits.

That's not just a major change in the young people who are riddled with anxiety as they step into the unknown of their futures, it's also a huge change for these parents.

Over the past few weeks, a lot of prayers have been offered for students heading off to college, or even to serve in the military. But let's not forget these parents who are also experiencing a big change in their own lives as they say goodbye to their young adults. Let's specifically add these parents to our prayers as they experience this change in their lives with their now adult children. They need our prayers, too.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Depression is not the boogeyman ...

There was a huge response to the recent tragic death of comedian Robin Williams. From that sad event came a deluge of discussions across media sources (social and otherwise) about the reality and severity of depression.

It was good that we had some honest and brutally vulnerable discussions about depression and other such maladies so many face today. I purposely waited for some of the discussion to die down so that some of the raw emotion involved could have time to abate. Now that it has, let me offer a word of encouragement:

Depression is not the boogeyman.

What I mean by that is ... yes, depression and other issues are very real, and as painful and harsh as so many volunteered to describe from their personal experiences, but there's some good news out there regarding facing such issues. That good news is that competent counselors routinely have great success helping clients deal with and/or overcome such issues. There is a hefty volume of reputable research showing that cognitive-behavioral therapy and other treatments available through competent therapists can have a dramatically positive impact on the lives of people who suffer from depression, anxiety, stress, PTSD, and other issues.

I waited for some of the discussion to die down because there was a lot of open emotion being communicated, and I appreciate how that has helped others understand the pain and difficulty so many have, and do, experience in their struggles with depression and other problems. But the good news is that you can get help for these issues, and more often than not, that help usually renders very good results for those who really want to experience change. It isn't easy, and it requires very real work by those who are willing to engage a competent counselor, but I want to encourage you that there is much that can be done to change and radically improve lives.

But we don't often hear about that!

Instead, depression and other issues are more often described as being the "boogeyman" who pursues and ravages lives without any hope of rescue. We hear the horror stories, but we don't hear about how most of these experiences could be avoided with competent, professional help. The onslaught of tragic stories told one after another after another are terrible, but the truth is, it doesn't have to be that way!

If that's true, why don't we hear more stories about changed lives? There are a couple of reasons.

First, many who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other issues often don't seek out professional help, for various reasons. Sometimes when they do, they connect with therapists who are not competent, and such experiences can be both negative and detrimental.

The other reason is that so many facing these issues cannot afford to access professional help. Resolving that issue is more than a social and cultural discussion, it is a personal one as well. Let me give you a brutally frank example. In almost three decades of clinical counseling, I've had very good success at helping my clients overcome a host of issues, including depression. To maximize access to such care, I have been working on raising the necessary funding for the Scott Free Clinic, a new ministry which will provide competent care without the barrier of cost ... in other words, free services for everyone. The response to the vision and mission of this ministry has been massive ... as far as people wanting services or pastors needing to refer people for professional help. But so far we've had a real failure in getting people to think, "Hey, I can donate toward making this happen." We want the services, but not many are yet willing to contribute in any significant way to make such vital resources available to the public. I'm not going to use this issue as a commercial for the Scott Free Clinic; if you'd like to learn more about it, or how you could help, you can watch our video here

Tragic stories like that of Robin Williams should motivate us to communicate, loudly and broadly, that there is help for the hurting, and that we implore you to get the help you need! You do not have to suffer in silence. You do not have to hurt alone. And you do not have to be hopeless. There is real help available IF you're willing to pursue it AND if you're willing to do the work you will have to do to become an overcomer and be set free from your suffering.

Such stories should also challenge the rest of us who don't personally struggle with such issues to have enough compassion on those who do to help make available to them the professional help needed to see lives changed and set free. That means digging deep into our pockets. It might even mean tapping into our savings. It should mean doing something if you're able, and there are many ways you can help those in need to gain access to the professional services that could change their lives.

Isn't it time we change the discussion to what we're willing to do to change things so that we're hearing more and more stories of transformed lives and fewer stories of personal tragedy? If competent professional help really makes a radical difference in lives --- and the research shows it does --- then why don't we work together in making that help available to the masses?


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

There's nothing passive about a life of faith, it really looks more like this ...

If you're going to live a life of faith, you're going to have to put some fight into your life ...

You can do it, through Christ!