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!


Monday, August 18, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "No Place to Hide" is a page-turner ...

It's easy to sit in the comfort of an American home and spew all kinds of political opinions about war and the American use of force, but it looks very different when you're the one who has to go to war and do the fighting.

Ask any soldier to describe war and they'll tell you one thing: War is hell.

We tend to clean it up and even glorify it from a distance, but the reality is very different.

That's what makes "No Place to Hide," written by W. Lee Warren (published by Zondervan), such a compelling story. It's not the tale of a fighting soldier in Iraq, instead picture something closer to a modern-day version of M*A*S*H but not written for humor and without so many colorful characters.

"No Place to Hide" is the personal story of Lee Warren's experience as a neurosurgeon who, as a major in the United States Air Force, left a successful practice in San Antonio, and a failing marriage, to serve as part of the medical team that would perform surgery, including brain surgery, in tents on a base in Balad, Iraq.

With mortors and rockets being shot at the base, shaking the hospital tents while the doctors operated on soldiers, terrorists, and even Iraqi civilians, Warren would learn what war really looks like. It's not glamorous when day after day, your job is to try to save the mangled bodies that continue to pour in from the battlefield. Warren and his colleagues saw more carnage to humanity in their 120-day assignment in Iraq than any person should ever have to see in a lifetime.

You might be surprised about one famous Iraqi Warren met face-to-face ... but you'll have to read the book to find out who that was!

With his marriage at home over, and now having to face the horrors of war, Warren's time in Iraq was the impetus for re-discovering his faith, something vital for sustaining the soldier-physician through the war and beyond.

I might stop short in describing this book as "riveting," but it certainly is a page-turner. Not only is the content of the story compelling enough to keep you turning from one chapter to another, but the quality of the writing is excellent, the flow as smooth as a well-written novel. The only weak part of the book is the ending, which suddenly becomes choppy and ends quickly. After spreading his story smoothly throughout the book, it looks like Warren struggled a little with a smooth landing for an ending.

Nevertheless, "No Place to Hide" is worth reading for a couple of reasons. First, not only does it provide readers with a more realistic view of war, but also what our military men and women have to go through when serving our country in times of war. It is also an encouragement to readers to see how faith can sustain us even in the worst of all circumstances.

A final note: while I recommend this book, it is written by a neurosurgeon during a time of war. Some of the descriptions of what Warren had to deal with are a little graphic and might make you a little queasy if you're sensitive to medical settings. However, Warren shares just enough description to provide an adequate understanding for readers without becoming purposely "gorey" in the details.


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.”

Friday, August 15, 2014

If you don't define them, they will define you ...

The reason many people come in for counseling is because they feel overwhelmed with their current circumstances. As hard or challenging as some circumstances may be, they are just circumstances, they do not have to be a source of defeat for you.

The gifted Chinese pianist, Liu Chi Kung, who placed second to Van Cliburn in the 1948 Tchaikovsky competition, was imprisoned a year after that performance during the Cultural Revolution in China. Kung was denied use of a piano during the entire seven years he was held captive. Soon after his release, however, he was back on tour. Critics wrote in astonishment that his musicianship was better than ever.

"How did you do this?" one critic asked, "You had no chance to practice for seven years."

"I did practice, every day," Kung replied. "I rehearsed every piece I have ever played, note by note, in my mind."

It is during those times when it feels like your back is against the wall and defeat is sure that you need to remember these are just circumstances, and the Apostle Paul has an exhortation for us regarding life's circumstances ...

"For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength," Philippians 4:13.

If you don't use this strength from Christ to define your circumstances, they will define you. It's your choice.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Applying some "White-Out" to life ...

Bette Nesmith had a good secretarial job in a Dallas bank when she ran across a problem that interested her. Wasn't there a better way to correct the errors she made on her electric typewriter?

Bette had some experience in art and she knew that artists who worked in oils just painted over their errors. Maybe that would work for her, too. So she concocted a fluid to paint over her typing errors.

Before long, all the secretaries in her building were using what she then called "MistakeOut." She attempted to sell the product idea to marketing agencies and various companies such as IBM, but they turned her down. However, secretaries liked her product, so Nesmith's kitchen became her first manufacturing facility and she started selling her product on her own.

When Nesmith sold the enterprise, the tiny white bottles were earning $3.5 million annually on sales of $38 million. The buyer was Gillette Company and the sale price was $47.5 million.

If you've never used a typewriter, you may not understand how permanent a typing error can be. There it is, imprinted on the paper for all to see. You can't just backspace like you can on a computer; unless the error is blotted out, it cannot be corrected.

The same is true with sin in our lives. Sin is more than a mistake, more than an error; it is a stain that ruins our lives. Unless it is blotted out, it cannot be corrected.

Well, here's some good news from the Lord about the stain of sin on our lives ...

"I --- yes, I alone --- will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again," Isaiah 43:25.

On our own, our sins are permanent stains upon the beauty of what God has created in us. But when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, He blots out all our sins with His own blood, and paints over them the image of Himself.

"But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ," Ephesians 2:13.

Have you surrendered your live to Jesus Christ so that His blood, poured out in sacrifice upon the cross, can blot out your sins?


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

MINISTRY UPDATE: This could be the place where it all launches from!

Dream with us!

The video posted below is an update for the ministry of the Scott Free Clinic as we identify a possible great spot for our ministry headquarters! Take a few minutes to see the possibilities with us ...

Pray with us for God's direction in selecting the right spot, and for the resources to open the office and start providing services that will help thousands of people change their lives through Christ, and for God's glory!


BOOK REVIEW: New biography reveals Bonhoeffer in "warts and all" style ...

When you hear the word "theologian," what comes to mind? What kind of man do you picture?

That stereotype you hold about the image of a theologian probably won't fit the actual life of the famous theologian and Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Helping us understand who this man was, and what he was really like, is probably the key contribution made by the latest Bonhoeffer biography called "Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer," written by Charles Marsh (published by Alfred A. Knopf).

Marsh spent more than eight years conducting research for this biography, and it's loaded with details about the man so that we learn how he really lived, rather than be exposed to just the myth about him.

This story of Bonhoeffer's life is written with flowing prose, sometimes as if you're in the room with Bonhoeffer himself, observing his work or listening in on conversations. While 400 pages is a lot of reading, there's a lot of life story to be told, and Marsh does it with detail; some might even think getting too far into the minutia of Bonhoeffer's activities. But the result is seeing the man as who he really was.

The initial impression isn't an appealing one when thinking in terms of a stereotypical theologian. Bonhoeffer was born into a family of privilege, who lived comfortably when most in his country didn't. An easy, but accurate description, is that he was spoiled. He lived with his parents for the larger part of his life, and also relied on them for not only his needs, but his wants as well, which were plentiful. He cared about fashion, was devoted to vacations and recreation, and initially didn't work hard. He rose late, worked a few hours, then gathered with friends to talk of music, literature, theology, and other personal interests, and spent the evenings out late taking in musicals and critiquing them with friends late into the night.

His parents paid for his education, and he simply accepted what he considered to be the fact that he was a bright young man. Bright enough to complete two doctoral dissertations while still in his twenties, and he expected to enjoy a promising career in academia as a theologian in a leading university.

Marsh weaves into this personal look at the man the men who influenced his theology, and you see how Bonhoeffer's thinking was developed, influenced, shaped, and changed over the years.

With such a picture taking shape, you think Bonhoeffer would live his life rather as a "dandy" kind of fellow who just happened to have a great mind for theology. Even though Marsh shows us the influence of other theologians on Bonhoeffer's thinking, he didn't simply follow other thinkers. He did the hard work of his own study, and his theology would be the result of his own time devoted to scholarly effort.

What is incredible about the life of Bonhoeffer is how the horrible times of experiencing Nazi Germany provided Bonhoeffer with the a unique impetus for spiritual development and growth that changed him from the man who enjoyed a life of ease, to a man who was willing to die for what he believed in. It may well be said that Bonhoeffer was born "for such a time as this," for without the evil brought into that culture through Hitler, it may well have been that Bonhoeffer would have never been adequately challenged to grow into who he became as a man, a minister, and a theologian.

There is an issue of note about Bonhoeffer that Marsh unnecessarily forces into this biography, which is to clearly implicate that Bonhoeffer had a homosexual relationship (without sexual activity) with the younger Eberhard Bethge. The author points to the two living together at times, having a joint bank account, signing Christmas cards as coming from "Dietrich and Eberhard," and the level of intimacy he used in his communications with his friend. However, Bethge has always stated that his friendship with Bonhoeffer was never of a homosexual nature, regardless of the fact that they were intimate friends. Without any clear evidence to the contrary, there is no justification for Marsh's persistent push to move the reader toward thinking the relationship between Bonhoeffer and Bethge was a homosexual one.

I would anticipate some readers of this biography would prefer more detail regarding certain aspects of Bonhoeffer's life than Marsh offers, while preferring less detail in other areas. But if you're going to stop at 400 pages, there's only so much you can fit in.

"Strange Glory" works as a good addition to the existing biographies on the life of this remarkable man, expanding a detailed look into the person behind the myth, making this book worth adding to your list of books worth making some time for.


I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their 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.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let this tragedy motivate you to act to help others ...

As a kid, I wasn't quite sure what to think of Mork from Ork. Part of me thought the TV alien played by comedian Robin Williams was funny, and part me thought he was a little weird ... but I watched the show regularly.

And yes, like so many others, I was weird enough to parrot the phrase, "Nanu nanu!" while making the corresponding hand gesture.

My initial impression of this energetic man would be somewhat of a lasting impression over the years as I watched Williams in different performances, of which his role in "Dead Poet's Society" remains one of my favorites.

Williams loved to  make people laugh, but we're not laughing today.

Instead, millions are mourning the early demise of the man who made us laugh, but couldn't find enough to laugh about in his own life; instead, he lost an ugly battle with depression that resulted in him taking his own life.

So many of you who laughed at the hilarity of Williams' characters can also relate to the depression the man suffered from because you struggle with it yourself. You know the pain of depression personally. Williams was fortunate enough to be able to get help for the different maladies he struggled with in life, but the average person cannot afford to get the same kind of help.

It's time we change that!

It's time that we do more than continue to just mourn the loss of person after person who lose battles they could win if they just had the help they need. It's time that we join together to help people --- perhaps people just like yourselves! --- who need some help to not only get through the day, but to get through life well, healthy, happy, but especially, to get through life whole!

That is both the mission and vision of the Scott Free Clinic --- to remove the barrier of cost so that ANYONE can have access to competent, quality clinical counseling, advanced coaching, couple communication training, fitness consulting, Pastor Care, and consulting with churches. All of these FREE services are designed to help change lives, support pastors, and improve churches so that lives can be changed by the thousands! This ministry not only reaches out locally, but serves people, pastors, and churches regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Even though this ministry is still in its developmental stage, last month we had the opportunity to step into the lives of three people whose lives were spiraling out of control and had become suicidal. Fortunately, they asked for help and we were able to provide it. But many, many more people have also asked for help and are just waiting for us to be able to provide help for them. To be able to offer the needed services, all we need are the financial resources to fully launch this ministry. Once those are in place, we will be able to offer these critical services to anyone without cost.

Could you help us with a donation toward our being able to launch this ministry? Could you donate $5, $10, $25, $100, or even more? The cost to launch and operate this ministry is significant; any amount offered is a great help, but we also need men and women, churches and businesses, who can dig deep and make large contributions toward launching this vital ministry.

All donations to the Scott Free Clinic are fully tax deductible. If you would like to join us in helping to change lives, you can give either online or by mailing a check. If you would like to give online, you can do so through our Fiscal Sponsor, Hope Christian Church, at the church website here Just click on the "Donations" tab near the top right of the website, fill out the information and make sure to write on the "designations" box "Scott Free Clinic" and your donation will go to this ministry. You can also donate by mailing a check made payable to Hope Christian Church, and please write on the memo portion of your check "Scott Free Clinic" to designate the donation toward this ministry. The check can be mailed to:

Hope Christian Church
149 Grobric Court
Fairfield, Ca. 94534
You can learn more about this ministry by viewing our video, which includes a couple of real life stories about changed lives, at this link (one change regarding the content in the video is that our ministry headquarters is now based out of Oregon rather than California).
By joining in supporting this ministry, you help make available to the hurting and those losing hope a much needed resource for help. It WILL make a difference in many lives!
Thank you for both your prayers and your financial support!
Dr. James Scott, Jr.
Founder & President, Scott Free Clinic