Thursday, November 27, 2014

How to live gratefully ...

BEING a grateful person is not about finally settling down for one extended, sobering moment before a Thanksgiving meal and thinking about the obvious blessings in your life.

That sobering moment will pass as soon as you're on seconds or thirds of your Thanksgiving feast, and finally waddle your way back to the television for more football.

Being a grateful person --- living gratefully --- should be part of who we are. It etches itself onto our character and habits. Our thoughts, our motivations, our desires, our actions are tainted with the fact that we're a grateful people. As adopted and redeemed children of God, we live gratefully.

How can we pull that off?

How can we be so persistently grateful?

Remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross every day.

When we turn our mind's eye to the cross and see the sacrifice Jesus made for us, it's nearly impossible to not be drowned in gratitude.

The early Christians used to meet together in homes every day, and there they would observe Communion. On a daily basis they would observe that sacrament established by Jesus Himself specifically to remember Him. And tell me, what do you think --- more importantly, what do you feel --- when you remember Jesus pouring His life out on a cruel, rugged cross to save you from your sins and the consequence of death?

Gratitude.

The real deal.

Penetrating so deep it almost makes your toes tingle!

All you can do is offer your thanksgiving to God for a gift so gracious. We cannot pay Him back, we can't earn it in some way. We can only be thankful, and live gratefully for what He has done.

Let me challenge you for the next 30 days to not leave your home without making time to remember Christ on the cross offering Himself for you. If you start your day seeing the sacrifice made at the cross, you'll start your day thankful, and that will help you to live gratefully that day.

My prayer is that this Thanksgiving Day is stuffed full of fresh blessings for you all! And thank you so much for being the blessing that you are to me.

Scotty

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tomorrow, we return ...

Of all the maladies that could be suffered by a human being, being diagnosed with leprosy long ago before it could be treated was one of the worst experiences you could ever face.

No one could help a leper. Physically, they would painfully waste away and die.

And no one wanted them.

No one wanted to even be near them for fear they would become infected themselves. They were cast out from the community, sent away from their families, their friends, their social circles. Society was done with them. They would spend the rest of their lives rejected and ejected.

As far as the world was concerned, they no longer had any value as persons.

That is, except with Jesus ...

"As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!' He looked at them and said, 'Go show yourselves to the priests.' And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, 'Praise God!' He fell to the ground at Jesus' feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, 'Didn't I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?'" Luke 17:11-18.

There were 10 men healed that day.

Nine men simply went their way. In spite of the fact that their deteriorating bodies had just been delivered from a viciously painful death, and regardless of the fact that they were given acceptance and value by the world by now being free from leprosy, they just went their way as if this was a nominal, everyday occurrence.

But one man, when he realized he had been healed, understood the depth of what Jesus had done for him. How do you respond to something so transforming and freeing? He shouted praise to God, and he returned to Jesus to thank him. So moved with gratitude was this man that he made his way back to Jesus and fell at his feet.

Because he was overwhelmed with the salvation from a hideous death, this Samaritan returned to Jesus to express how thankful he was.

How can we do any less?

We suffer from something that is much worse than leprosy, we suffer from sin. It's a death sentence, not just for the body, but spiritually it kills us and separates us from God. It renders us utterly worthless.

Except to Jesus.

He has healed us from our sins by taking our plague of sins upon Himself and suffering their consequences for us. Having overcome sin and death, He offers us the salvation He has achieved for us.

How do we respond?

Many will go on as if this was just a nominal, everyday occurrence.

But for the rest? They'll take a day like Thanksgiving and shout praise to God, and they'll return. They will make the day a time of returning to tell Jesus just how thankful they are for setting them free and saving their souls.

Tomorrow, we return ...

Scotty

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Like Oprah's audience ...

All of us, in just about any condition in life --- from the worst and most difficult to the most abundant --- can come up with something, if not many things, to say on Thanksgiving Day that we're grateful for. That might get you through the, "Let's have everyone share what they're thankful for" portion around the holiday dinner table, but it really doesn't represent a person with an attitude, a heart, of thanksgiving.

That's much more like being a member of Oprah's audience. Sure, they're thrilled going to the show to see her, but they really go hoping to be one of her many audiences who come away with an armful of gifts. Or maybe a big 'ol flat screen. Or maybe you'll be one of those audiences where she gives everyone a brand new car!

Oprah fans might be smiling if all they get is a chance to be in the presence of their favorite entertainer, but they're secretly hoping for more, and if truth is to be told, they'd come away disappointed if all they got was Oprah.

How much like Oprah fans are many who gather around dinner tables on Thanksgiving. Sure, we're grateful for our families, and our health, and the fact we're employed. We're grateful for a roof over our heads and food to eat every day. But if truth was to be told, we really want more ...

... we'd rather be in that "Black Friday" line to get the cheap big screen TV, just imagine how much better football would be with that!

... we'd rather be making more money ...

... we'd rather have a bigger house ...

... for too many us, in the back of our minds, and entertained in our hearts, is a desire for more.

The presence of Christ in us isn't enough.

We become so accustomed to just how lavishly blessed we are that in short order we make being blessed commonplace and desire more.

Back in 1988, a Polish railway worker named Jan Grzebski was hit by a train. He survived, but barely. For the next 19 years, Grzebski was in a coma. He awoke in 2007 to a whole new world. Nineteen years earlier, Poland was a communist state. Grzebski noted that back then meat was rationed and there were huge lines at gas stations. And, "there was only tea and vinegar in the shops."

But 19 years later, he awoke to a free nation where he said there were "people on the streets with cell phones and there were so many goods in the shops it makes my head spin!"

But something puzzled him.

"What amazes me is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and yet they never stop moaning."

These people now had freedom, and food, and wealth greater than Poland had had for decades, and yet Grzebski noted that all the people seemed to do was to grumble about what they didn't have.

They wanted more.

We usually make Thanksgiving Day about pulling up that list in our minds of things we know we can say we're "thankful" for. What if we made it about examining ourselves to see if we are, simply, a grateful person? Not someone who lives with a longing for more, but someone who is grateful ... period.

The kind of person where Christ is enough.

The kind of person who doesn't entertain a head and heart full of desires for all kinds of things we don't yet have but secretly want.

But the kind of person who is satisfied with Christ and finding in Him a genuine sufficiency.

Will that be you on Thanksgiving Day?

Scotty

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Here's a FREE SCHOLARSHIP that could transform your ministry and church!

We are incredibly excited to announce that the Scott Free Clinic will be giving away a FREE SCHOLARSHIP for one PASTOR and FIVE people he selects from his congregation for the "Relational Evangelism" course offered online by Hope International University as part of its School of Advanced Leadership Training (SALT) program.

GIVE ME A MINUTE to try to explain how GREATLY BENEFICIAL this course could be to YOUR ministry and YOUR local church.

This is NOT just another course on evangelism!

This is NOT just an academic study of evangelism!

Instead, this is a hands-on equipping in a specific evangelism methodology, using a specific evangelistic tool that is the best evangelistic tool I've ever used.

Some 30 years ago, I learned this particular evangelistic methodology and how to use this great evangelistic tool that has recently been revised and is now known as "It's All About Relationship" (IAAR). This tool and method has helped me to personally lead hundreds of people to Christ, and I have trained multiple churches to use this tool and method to become disciple-making churches.

The IAAR has been used by churches, church planters, and missions across the country and around the world with great success.

The author of this material, John Hendee, who will be teaching the online course, used this tool and method while he was Minister of Evangelism at Central Christian Church in Mesa, AZ, and in one year alone they added 750 new members! Not everyone who joined did so by going through the IAAR study, but the majority of them did.

Most churches today are trying to rely on getting people to come to church as a means of growing the church. What we have seen as a far more effective (and biblical) way to reach the lost for Christ is equipping Christians to be able to effectively share the Gospel with non-believers, and to be able to create relationships where they can offer an opportunity to hear the Gospel in a more comprehensive, yet concise way.

By offering this FREE SCHOLARSHIP, we're providing the opportunity for a pastor to select five people from his congregation to take this course with him. This is a great opportunity for a group from your church to be equipped together to become highly effective at making disciples, and to start a new effort in your congregation for reaching the lost in your community that will likely be far more effective than anything you have done thus far. Most churches are not doing anything (at all!) to teach believers how to share the Gospel with non-believers; by offering you this FREE SCHOLARSHIP, we're coming alongside to help equip you to equip others to be effective ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

A few things about this scholarship:
  • The course is an eight-week course and begins January 5, 2015.
  • The course will be offered online and taught by John Hendee, Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University. You will have the opportunity to learn directly from John, who developed the IAAR, and who has a long and successful ministry career in evangelism and missions that can greatly benefit you in becoming effective disciple-makers.
  • You must be from a church with a membership under 1,000 members.
  • Because we're offering this to a pastor PLUS five additional members he selects from his congregation, this course will not be offered for credit, but instead as an audit. HOWEVER, to receive the scholarship, you have to agree to do the work as if you were receiving a grade. Your work will be graded by the professor to ensure your full engagement in the course.
  • We're able to offer the SCHOLARSHIP for free but that does not include the cost of the books. There are only four required books and, fortunately, they are NOT expensive textbooks, so this should be do-able for you. If you need help with the books, encourage your congregation to support the group as it studies together by assisting you with the cost of the books.
  • If you would like ADDITIONAL people from the congregation to take the course with you, they may enroll for a reduced per person cost of only $50.00 (the course would usually cost $300 per person). We're able to offer this reduced cost because this is the only course HIU has authorized to be a "MOOC" (massive open online course) course offering.
The Scott Free Clinic is offering this FREE SCHOLARSHIP as part of our consulting work that is committed to helping improve churches by helping them become effective disciple-making churches. We're available to encourage you as you go through the course, and if you need any help in how to use what you learn after the course, I will personally be available to work with you.

Unfortunately, we can only offer one FREE SCHOLARSHIP to one pastor and five additional people he picks from the same congregation. So, if you would be interested in signing up for the chance to win this FREE SCHOLARSHIP, simply send me an email at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org and tell me in just a few paragraphs why you would like to receive this scholarship and what you think  you would do with the training offered. To be considered, I need to receive your email no later than Monday, December 8.

Keep in mind that you're NOT required to do anything specific with what you learn, but we are looking for a pastor and church that has a hunger to be more effective at making disciples and would like to receive training that could make that happen if those who take the course apply what they have learned. I have personally audited this course and from that experience I can tell you this is a great way to be equipped to become an effective ambassador for Christ.

Finally, I just want to emphasize to you the depth of opportunity this FREE SCHOLARSHIP provides. This evangelistic tool and methodology has proven to be highly successful for decades and has resulted in many thousands coming to Christ. It can make a powerful difference in YOUR community should YOU equip people from your congregation as ambassadors for Christ. That training starts with YOU being trained, so send me your email and let's hear why YOU should be our scholarship winner.

In His Service,

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

For more information about the Scott Free Clinic, please visit our website at ScottFreeClinic.org.

The essential --- but often overlooked --- element in every prayer ...

We're taught (or at least told) a lot about prayer. We often think the key is knowing that God can answer our prayers, and others emphasize a need to believe God will answer our requests. But there's an overarching, all-important element to every prayer we pray that we routinely overlook. That's the issue of the sovereignty of God, even when it comes to what we pray for.

We forget that everything is about and for the glory of God. God is sovereign over all beings and things, and that includes His sovereignty piercing into our prayers.

This reminds me of a story legendary radio commentator, Paul Harvey, once told about God's providential care over thousands of Allied prisoners during World War II, many of whom were Christians.

The story begins with one of America's mighty bombers taking off from the island of Guam headed for Kokura, Japan, laden with a deadly cargo. Because clouds covered the target area, the sleek B-29 circled for nearly an hour until its fuel supply reached the danger point. The captain and his crew, frustrated because they were right over the primary target yet not able to fulfill their mission, finally decided they had better go for their secondary target. Changing course, they discovered clear skies, so the command was given: "Bombs away!" and the B-29 headed for its home base.

Some time later, an officer received some startling information from military intelligence. Just one week before that bombing mission, the Japanese had transferred one of their largest concentrations of captured Americans to the city of Kokura. Upon reading this report, the officer exclaimed, "Thank God for that protecting cloud! If the city hadn't been hidden from the bomber, it would have been destroyed and thousands of American boys would have died."

God often acts "behind the scenes," but He controls all the scenes He's behind. He is sovereign! We might think we're on the right mission, and what we're pleading for is what we most need, but God sees and knows what we cannot and do not. He responds to our prayers from His position of being sovereign over all.

That's how He responded to the prayer of Jesus made from the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He would be delivered up to be crucified for sinful humanity ...

"He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, 'My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me ..." Matthew 26:39a.

In this passage, Jesus makes a passionate plea to the Father; He shares openly what He is feeling. But then He subjects His desires to the sovereignty of God ...

"... Yet I want your will to be done, not mine," Matthew 26:39b.

Jesus knew that God wants us to be free and open in sharing with Him our wants, our needs, our desires, our passions. Yet, He understood the need for all of those things to be brought into subjection to the sovereign reign of God. Jesus knew the best thing for all of us is what God decides from His sovereign rule over all creation.

When we forget about this vital aspect of God's sovereignty, we might find ourselves disappointed when God doesn't respond the way we think He should, or specifically how we want Him to. But be assured, we are far better off for God to respond to our prayers from His position of sovereignty than simply granting our passions and desires. We are much better off for it!

Do you subject your requests you make of God to the sovereignty of God?

Scotty

Saturday, November 22, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Nuggets of wisdom found in Singh's simplicity

I have lived in states like California, Arizona, and Hawaii, places that thrive off tourism. One thing I learned to be able to spot quickly is a tourist. They really do stand out!

That's why when I travel internationally, I do my best to blend in. I may visit a few key historical sites that draw large crowds of tourists, but I like to get off the beaten path and find out what the "locals" like to do and explore how they live. It broadens my view of people and this world, and it has helped to teach me that people in different places live very differently, but that often doesn't make it wrong, just different.

The same is true about the Christian faith.

It's hard for an American to think of Christianity in any other way than our Westernized version of it. But the Christian faith can look very different in its application in other parts of the world. It's true there's one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, but how we live out our faith in Jesus Christ will have some cultural variances. That doesn't make it wrong, it's just makes it different.

There's a new book out called "Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh," compiled and edited by Kim Comer (published by Plough Publishing House) that is a good example of how the Christian faith can look a little different in other cultures. This book shares the teachings of Sundar Singh, considered by many to be India's "most famous convert" to Christianity. While Singh embraced Christ and the Christian faith, this book explains that he purposely didn't embrace or accept "... Christianity's cultural conventions, even as he embraced its stark original teachings."

Singh chose to share his faith in a more culturally relevant way by living as a "sadhu," a poor, wandering "holy man." As I read some of the compilations of Singh's teachings, I was delighted with the simplicity he used in telling stories to illuminate biblical truths. Let me share with you just two examples ...

"Think of the ship; it belongs in the water, but water must not come into the ship --- that would be disastrous. Similarly, it is right and fitting that we live in this world, and if we stay above the surface, then we can reach the safe harbor of life --- and help others to do so. But it would be our demise if the world penetrated into our hearts. The spiritual person holds the heart free for the One who created it."

And here's one more ...

"A little child will run to his mother exclaiming: 'Mother! Mother!' The child does not necessarily want anything in particular. He only wants to be near his mother, to sit on her lap, or to follow her about the house. The child longs for the sheer pleasure of being near her, talking to her, hearing her voice. This is what makes him happy. It is just the same with those who are truly God's children. They do not trouble themselves with asking for spiritual blessings. They only want to sit at the Master's feet, to be in living touch with Him; then they are supremely content."

I found the simplicity of Singh's teaching to be a great breath of fresh air from the popular, shallow hyperbole written by so many famous megachurch pastors today. But with that said, I must also say as I read I discovered multiple times where I had theological differences with Singh. You may discover differences as well. Even so, I think you will find much of this book to be encouraging and enlightening, both to your faith, and how others may share the same faith a little differently in a different setting.

Scotty

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this review. 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, November 21, 2014

You're not the dispatcher, you're the one receiving the call ...

Four California Highway Patrol officers sat at a round high-top table by a window in the corner of a Starbucks on a sunny afternoon in San Diego. Their conversation was steady and friendly as their break slowly stretched on.

Suddenly each of the officers were speaking into their radios they carried as they made a quick departure out of the coffee shop. As they pulled their vehicles into traffic, they hit their sirens and turned on their flashing lights.

Someone needed help, and they were responding to the call.

I couldn't help but be moved in a few ways by observing that scene.

First, I thought of how swiftly God is to answer when His children are in distress. He actually sees the problem before it happens, and He's already there ahead of our pleas. While He may or may not respond in ways we would like, He's there in the thick of it, He cares, and He's committed to what's best for us. He's ready to engage with us, and walk us through whatever trials and troubles come our way.

I also thought about how those officers scurrying in haste to heed a call for help should reflect the church in this very broken and lost world. We are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world, and we shouldn't be slow to respond in demonstrating the same love, the same care, that God has for others.

That's where the church often comes up short, but digging into that shortcoming isn't my purpose for this blog post. Instead, I want to share with you my own response to this issue.

Nearly three decades into ministry, I have enjoyed every opportunity for serving the Lord, and others in His name, that God has provided me. Yet, as I look around, the needs are massive.

Lost people.

Broken lives, broken relationships, broken marriages, broken families. Broken people.

Numerous pastors who are exhausted, overwhelmed, and quickly burning out.

So many churches that seem to do anything but proclaim the Gospel.

With all of that, we're in a time in the life of the church where there are many who are ashamed to call themselves Christians, and speak of loving Christ but hating the church. They spend a lot of time hurling verbal or written "stones" at the church, but very little time and effort --- if any --- trying to be part of the answer to the problems in this world and in the church.

I didn't want to be just one more person who can quickly identify there's a lot wrong in the church today, and in this world, and not offer any solutions. I really want to be part of the answer. From that attitude, God has given me a new vision of ministry to pour my life into. A way to be better able to respond to the calls for help, and to significantly multiply the number of people, church leaders, and churches that could be helped directly.

That new vision of ministry is taking form in what has become the Scott Free Clinic, which is currently in its developmental stage. You can learn all about the vision and mission of this ministry, along with other pertinent details, at the ministry website here ScottFreeClinic.org.

There is something unique about this ministry that will be at the heart of our ability to help thousands of people, scores of pastors, and many churches. That unique element is that we offer vital services such as Christian clinical counseling, advanced coaching, Pastor Care, and helping churches become disciple-making churches, all without the barrier of cost. We do that because a primary reason why people, pastors, and churches don't get the help they need is because they cannot afford it. By eliminating the barrier of cost, we can focus directly on ministering to those who need help.

With that said, I'm sure a practical question has already popped into your head: "If you provide all of your ministry services for free, how can the ministry afford to function?"

Great question!

We intend to build a new model of ministry in this area of services by developing a foundation of financial sponsors who provide the bulk of funding (some funding will come from clients who are able and willing to donate to this ministry) needed for this ministry to launch and operate at full capacity. These financial sponsors are our "Care Partners" --- men, women, couples, families, churches, and businesses who capture the vision of this ministry and do what they can to support it. They are more than just financial sponsors, they are truly "Care Partners," people who care about others in need and step out to do what they can to support providing the help needed.

Some of our Care Partners will give a single donation to this ministry. Others will support this ministry with monthly donations, and still others will give quarterly, bi-annually, or annually to support the work of this ministry to help change lives, support pastors, and improve churches. Some will give small gifts, perhaps as little as $10 dollars. Others will give a little more, and (we hope) some will give major gifts to this ministry.

Undergirding all this effort is an incredible team of Prayer Partners who pray for this ministry daily.

It's by coming together to offer ministry services vital to bringing change to lives, to leaders, and to churches by serving, praying, and giving, that we can be a more effective part of the answer to what is wrong in this world and in the church. Our teaming together as ministry provider, Prayer Partners, and Care Partners, is like those four different California Highway patrolmen who all responded to the plea for help.

To make all this happen, we really do need your help. If you would like to support this ministry as a Prayer Partner, we would love to have you join that team. Just email me at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org to let me know you're interested, and doing so will provide me with your email address so you can be provided with our prayer need updates that are sent by email each month.

Very important at this stage of our development is the need for Care Partners. We are ready to fully launch this ministry, the only thing we need are the funds to do so. I want to encourage you to pray about and consider becoming a Care Partner with the Scott Free Clinic. Any financial gift would help us, and all donations are tax deductible. This is also a time where many people consider their year-end giving in order to meet their own personal or business tax strategies. We would greatly appreciate it if you would consider including the Scott Free Clinic in your year-end giving with as generous a gift as you would be able to provide. Details on how to make a donation to this ministry can be found on our website by clicking the "Donations" link.

It has been exciting to see how God has already used this ministry locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally just in its developmental stage. Imagine what can be done when we can fully launch this ministry and provide a vital new way of responding to the needs for changing lives, supporting pastors, and improving churches.

A final request. I'm not simply going to ask you to share this blog post with someone, I'm going to ask you to share it as broadly as you can. I'm even going to challenge you to think of at least five to 10 people you know you could share this information with. Sharing about this ministry is so easy to do, yet it has very real benefit. Please consider how you would be willing to let others know about this ministry.

All around you and me are pleas for help. We're not the dispatcher. God is dispatching you and me to be his agents in responding to these cries for help. Let's work together to change lives, through Christ, for the glory of God!

May God bless you richly!

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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Inviting people to church is NOT an effective disciple-making strategy ...

A popular saying within the church is that we must keep "the main thing the main thing."

I agree!

The problem is, in most churches we do anything but.

Here's how we do church in the 21st century ...

... the pastor and pastoral staff uses social media and any other means available to try to get church members to bring non-Christians to church. To do so, they use a great deal of hyperbole to try to make people think the service this coming Sunday will be the most exciting event they will ever experience in their entire lifetime (that's the perception communicated every week, and the service never lives up to its billing) ...

... we try to alter what we do in a church service to have some kind of appeal to non-Christians, hoping that will cause them to have a desire to "come to church" ...

... the evangelistic effort of the church is then hoisted directly onto the shoulders of the preacher who is expected to preach a sermon that will convict any non-Christians present so they will walk to the front of the church and pray the "sinner's prayer." The pastor and other church staff will talk with anyone who comes forward. Just one fatal flaw in this plan is that the Gospel often is not preached in churches, you're more likely to get something closer to a motivational speech or marriage seminar than a thorough exposition of scripture containing a Gospel message ...

... the members of the congregation observe that they have no role in sharing the Gospel because the "real evangelistic work" is being done by the pastor and staff during church service, so they expect them to handle the sharing of the Gospel, and they might occasionally invite someone to church ...

... before dismissing the service, the pastor tries to make the congregation feel guilty for not inviting people to church. After all, how are they going to "win their city" for Christ if the members of the church aren't bringing non-Christians to church so they can hear the preacher preach and respond by walking down an aisle and praying the "sinner's prayer?"

Doing church that way is more about trying to build attendance than it is trying to fulfill the Great Commission, which is the "main thing" for the church. To accomplish that "main thing," Jesus told us to GO into the world ...

"Jesus came and told his disciples, 'I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age'," Matthew 28:18-20.

The idea is for disciples of Jesus to go into the world and share the Gospel with non-believers, and as they do, converts would then be added to the church ...

"And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God'" 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

 For this plan to work, God provided the church with leaders who would equip disciples to be able to do this ministry ...

"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ," Ephesians 4:11-12.

Yet another problem: most churches today are not equipping disciples to be able to effectively share the Gospel with non-Christians. And so they aren't. And so we aren't going into the world to share the Gospel. And so instead, we're trying to get non-Christians to come to church. And we know that inviting people to church is not an effective disciple-making strategy.

If you really want to make disciples, if you really want to see the church grow from new converts being added to it, if you really want to make the "main thing the main thing," why not actually equip believers to be able to effectively share the Gospel with non-Christians so that every week, as they GO into the world, they will be trained to look for opportunities --- and even be able to create opportunities --- to share the Gospel, lead people to Christ, and help them be added to the church?

If you need help doing that, let me give you two resources:
  • First, the Scott Free Clinic (ScottFreeClinic.org) consults with churches to help them become effective disciple-making churches. Key to this is offering the training disciples need to become highly effective ambassadors for Christ. You can contact me personally at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org.
  • Second, since the Clinic isn't fully launched yet, I would strongly encourage you to consider the outstanding "Relational Evangelism" course taught by John Hendee as an online course offered by Hope International University. This course will equip you, your staff and other church leaders, and ANYONE in your congregation to be highly effective disciple-makers. You can learn a little more about this course at this blog post http://go.shr.lc/1sTLkO1.
Making disciples is the main thing for the church. That isn't accomplished by focusing on building attendance at church, it's accomplished by taking the Gospel message into the world as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. You might be surprised at the impact THAT would have on church growth!

Scotty

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nothing changes without this ...

Nothing changes without confession.

Nothing changes until we can finally say, "I'm guilty," "I'm wrong,"

The Prussian king Frederick the Great was once on a tour of a Berlin prison. The prisoners fell on their knees in front of him as a means of proclaiming their innocence --- all except one man who remained upright and silent.

The king inquired of the man, "Why are you here?"

"Armed robbery, you majesty," the inmate responded.

"And are you guilty?" queried the king.

"Yes indeed, your majesty, I deserve my punishment," the criminal replied without hesitation.

At that, Frederick summoned the jailer and said of the confessor, "Release this guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it."

There was another criminal whose confession changed everything for him. He was the thief who was crucified next to Jesus Christ ...

"One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, 'So you're the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself --- and us, too, while you're at it!' But the other criminal protested, 'Don't you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn't done anything wrong.' Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.' And Jesus replied, 'I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise'," Luke 23:39-43.

Nothing changes without confession.

Is there something in your life you have not been willing to confess that keeps real change from your life? How could confessing your sins change your relationship with God and others?

Scotty

Still in charge of your life? How's that working out for you?

"Dr. Phil" has a line I like: "How's that working out for you?"

I find it fits at times when people insist on attempting to live a contradiction. On one hand, they clutch to trying to have control of their lives and living it any way they want. On the other hand, they want God's blessing.

How's that working out for you?

It isn't.

You can't hold hands with the world and claim to follow Jesus. You certainly cannot live a life practicing sin and have God's blessing.

It's like the story about the shipwrecked man who managed to reach an uninhabited island. There, to protect himself against the elements and safeguard the few possessions he managed to salvage, he painstakingly constructed a hut from which he constantly and prayerfully scanned the horizon for any sight of a ship.

Upon his return one evening from searching for food, the man was horrified to find the hut completely enveloped in flames. The remains of the hut, and what possessions he had, smoldered in smoke for hours. Yet by divine mercy this tragedy was turned into a rich blessing. Early the following morning the man awoke to find a ship anchored off the island. When the captain stepped ashore, he explained, "We saw your smoke signal and came."

Jesus helps us understand what we really need doesn't come to us until we let go of everything ...

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your own soul?'" Matthew 16:24-26.

Are you still clutching for control of your life?

How's that working out for you?

Scotty

This can change your life by making you an effective disciple-maker ...

If the focus of your disciple-making efforts is to try to get people to "come to church," you're trying to build church attendance, not make disciples.

If you really want to make disciples, then you need to be trained how to do that effectively, but most churches don't do anything (literally) to equip believers in how to effectively share the Gospel with non-Christians.

Well, now you CAN be equipped!

I was equipped a few decades ago and it changed my life because it trained me to use an evangelistic tool that works. I've personally used it to lead hundreds of people to Christ, and I've trained other Christians and churches to use it, with very good success.

Pastors, churches, church planters, missionaries --- people and churches around the world --- have learned this and have led people to Christ very effectively for decades now. But you don't have to be a "ministry professional" to take this training. I've seen soccer moms, plumbers, technology geeks, students, and all sorts of "regular folks" who love the Lord become equipped in using this evangelistic tool and in relational evangelism, and have watched them become highly effective ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

You can, too!

What I'm talking about is learning how to use a specific evangelistic tool that is the most effective tool for sharing the Gospel I have seen. It isn't just the tool, but the overall relational evangelism approach used with the offering of this tool that has made it possible for the average Christian, or the full-time minister, to be far more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Now YOU can be equipped to become an ambassador for Christ and reach the people you know, the people around you, with the Good News of Jesus!

The evangelistic tool is called "It's All About Relationship" (IAAR) and it is the central component of a new training course offered online by it's originator, John Hendee, who serves as Chair of World Evangelism for Hope International University (HIU). The training is now available as an eight-week course offered ONLINE by HIU and can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit, or can be audited. I am currently auditing the course and will tell you taking this course is the most effective way I have seen it taught.

The start date for the next offering of the course is January 5, 2015. With the fee for the class being $300, and the start date being so close to Christmas, your budget might be tight. So why not let family and friends know enrolling you in this course would be a GREAT Christmas gift?! Pastors, church leaders, church planters, I encourage you to ask your churches to support you by enrolling you in this course. In fact, I would strongly urge you to enroll a team of leaders from your church to go through this course together.

Time is getting short for enrollment. If you have any questions about the course and the significant benefit YOU can gain from it, you can contact directly the originator of the IAAR, who is also the course professor, John Hendee, at john.hendee@cox.net.

I cannot tell you how strongly I believe this training could help you in becoming an effective disciple-maker. Isn't it time we make "the main thing the main thing" and invest our time and resources into getting equipped to lead non-Christians to Jesus Christ? The single greatest difference you can make with your life is to introduce the lost to Jesus. If you're not already personally highly effective at doing that, then please seriously consider making a commitment to taking this course so that you can become that ambassador through which God makes His appeal to others (2 Cor. 5:18-20).

Email John TODAY! Let's get YOU signed up! Let's make this happen!

Scotty

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Offering God the leftovers of your life ...

"When the kids get through school, then we can consider doing more ..." is a line I have heard countless times.

I have had so many conversations with people who tell me they desire to do more for God but now just isn't the time. You see, actually doing so would be an inconvenience to the kind of lifestyle they have planned for themselves.

I remember a very talented executive telling me how he has been convicted for years to use his talent for the Lord, but he never has done so in any significant way. Oh, he does a little here and a little there to try to assuage his feelings of guilt, but the truth is he gives the world the bulk of his time, talent, and treasure so that he can receive from the world what he wants. He rationalizes that it's to provide his family with all the benefits of life, but the truth is his family doesn't need all that.

These stories flashed through my thinking yesterday as I came across this powerful snippet in my reading of "Wisdom of the Sadhu":

"Let one of your disciples come with two mangoes, one ripe and juicy, the other skin and stone with all the juice sucked out. What would you say if he gave you the withered fruit and sat down to enjoy the delicious fruit himself?

"Old sadhu: Such behavior would be inexcusable. It would be an insult and the height of disrespect.

"Young sadhu: Well, if in the days of our youth we waste ourselves in our own pleasures and then, in the weakness of old age, offer in service to God only the bones and skin of our former strength, have we not also acted selfishly and treated God with disrespect?"

Why are you putting off God?

What are you waiting for?

To have the years of youth and capacity to earn as much as you can get from the world so that your life might be one of indulging desires? You'll finally give something back to God after you've gained what you want?

Do you really think this honors God? Do you think God is impressed with this? Doesn't God deserve the best from you every day?

I'm not saying that we all should quit our jobs and use our talents only in full-time ministry. I am saying no matter what our jobs are, God deserves to be first in our lives every day, and to have our best. It does mean making room for Him to really be first, even if that means adjusting our lifestyles, or even if it means changing our jobs to accommodate Him.

"Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need," Matthew 6:33.

Fullness of life is not about our careers or maximizing our earning potential. Fullness of life is found only in a real and rich relationship with Jesus Christ.

"The thief''s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life," John 10:10.

Jesus created you, and He wants to give you a "rich and satisfying life." So what role do you give Him in determining what your life looks like?

Scotty

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If you look at the lives of people, you might think Jesus was a liar ...

Is Jesus a liar?

Jesus once made a very bold promise: "I'm leaving you with a gift --- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid," John 14:27. That's quite a promise! But if you look at the lives of a lot of people --- including a lot of people filling the pews of today's churches --- you might think Jesus was a liar as you observe so many lives lacking "peace of mind and heart."

But Jesus wasn't a liar.

When our lives lack that peace Jesus promised, it isn't because He failed to do what He's promised. The problem is on our end.

Helping people overcome that problem is a motivation for the ministry of the Scott Free Clinic. There are so many broken lives out there, inside and outside the church; so many pastors who are overwhelmed and anything but at peace; and so many churches not helping people discover the peace of Christ, which surpasses all understanding.

Part of our mission is to help people and pastors discover this promised peace by helping them become whole persons in Christ. By providing access to a significant menu of services to people, pastors, and churches by removing the barrier of cost, the Scott Free Clinic is helping people, through Christ, to discover that peace that Jesus promised.

To be able to fully launch and make this ministry a full reality that will impact thousands of lives, scores of pastors, and many churches, we need your financial help.

As we draw near to the end of 2014, many of you are thinking about your year-end giving for your personal or business tax purposes. As you consider the final gifts you'll be making this year, we would be humbled and blessed to be considered in your year-end gift-giving. We have everything in place to launch the ministry services of the Scott Free Clinic except for the necessary funds to do so. Your year-end gifts could make a difference! And all donations to the Scott Free Clinic are tax deductible.

We invite you to explore our website at ScottFreeClinic.org to learn more about this ministry. Click on the "About Us" link to discover our ministry vision and mission, and check out the services we'll be offering. And we invite you to click  on the "Donations" link to learn how you can make a much needed donation to this ministry.

Before 2014 is over, we encourage you to give the gift of help to someone by becoming a "Care Partner" with the Scott Free Clinic. Let's make a difference in the lives of thousands by partnering together to help people find that peace of mind and heart that they really can have in and through Jesus Christ.

Thank you, and God bless you!

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

P.S. You can also connect with the Scott Free Clinic in the following ways:
Google+: google.com/+ScottfreeclinicOrg
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ScottFreeClinic
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ScottFreeClinic

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In honor of our veterans ...

Just like so many of the things that function unseen and quietly in the backgrounds of our lives to provide us with the quality of lifestyles we enjoy, we rely on the men and women serving in our nation's branches of the military on a daily basis far more than we realize.

Just remove the presence of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines from posts here and abroad, and our nation would be a very different place under the domination of very different sources.

We can count on our service personnel to keep us free and safe.

That reminds me of a story of a detail of soldiers who came under heavy enemy fire. One of the soldiers attempted to cross an open area and was shot down. His best friend immediately started to jump up and run out after him, but his sergeant grabbed his arm and said, "Don't be crazy! You run out there and you'll just get yourself shot as well! I'm not going to lose two men."

The sergeant had hardly finished his sentence when the man wrenched his arm free and ran after his buddy. Just as he reached his friend, he, also, was shot down by the enemy. As the man lay dying, the last words he heard was that of his friend ...

"I knew you would come."

When our nation is threatened and our freedom imperiled, we can count on the men and women of the United States armed forces to defend our liberty. Many have done so by giving the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

To all of the men and women who have donned a uniform and served our great nation, we say thank you for your sacrifice of service to our country. As we observe Veteran's Day today, may you be blessed by the respect and support of a grateful nation.

May God bless you and protect you!

Scotty

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just say it!

Occasionally the people in Hollywood who write and produce television shows have a moment of brilliance and delight us by broadcasting a 30-minute weekly sitcom that is intelligent, humorous, entertaining, and actually worth sitting down and watching.

Occasionally.

The standard productions are the frustratingly dense programs that have little or no redeeming value.

One of the common tensions in TV shows is poor communication between the characters, which generates all kinds of problems. How many times have you observed that if the characters just had clear story lines, their fictitious selves would have much less drama in their faux lives?

Drama is what Hollywood wants to create, but doing so in your own life can be painful and costly in your real relationships.

A significant slice of our relational problems could, at the least, be markedly reduced if we just communicated clearly.

That reminds me of the college student who didn't have the nerve to ask his father directly for what he needed. So he mailed his dad the following note:

"Dear Dad,

"$chool i$  really great. I am making lot$ of friend$ and $tudying very hard. I $imply can't think of anything I need, $o if you would like, you can just $end me a card, a$ I would love to hear from you.

"Love, your $on."

The father responded with a note of his own:

"Dear Son,

"I kNOw that AstroNOmy, ecoNOmics, and oceaNOgraphy are eNOugh to keep even an hoNOr student busy. Do NOt forget that the pursuit of kNOwledge is a NOble task, and you can never study eNOugh.

"Love, Dad."

Sometimes by communicating clearly we get the same response, sometimes we don't. But even when the answer may be the same, communicating clearly can deepen our relationships. It is the means for better understanding one another, which can lead to greater empathy, compassion, and cooperation. It certainly eliminates having to try to read the mind of someone else, which --- just like in the sitcoms --- leads to a lot of misunderstanding, if not even heartache.

Imagine if the college student sent the following note to his father:

"Dear Dad,

"My studies are going well, but my adjusting to being on my own for the first time has been rocky. In fact, I've made some bad decisions, I think because I've really never really had to make these decisions before. One of the mistakes I've made was spending my allowance you provide too quickly, and the result is that I've run out of money too soon. I understand the mistake I made, and know how to correct it. In the meantime, I was wondering if you could find it in your heart to send me a little extra cash as a means to help me bridge the gap I've created. I understand if you decide not to do so, I just want you to know I've learned my lesson about managing my money better and won't let it happen again. I appreciate all you do for me, and could use your mercy right about now.

"Love, your hungry son."

An honest letter like that might have gotten a response like this:

"Dear Son,

"I appreciate your being honest with me about your plight. To be honest on my part, my initial response was to feel frustrated and leave you to learn a lesson the hard way, as you would likely not forget it, and that could benefit you. But then I thought about the many mistakes I've made in my own life, and the times when people have had compassion on me regarding my own poor decisions. I've enclosed a check to help you out, but know that I expect you will have learned a lesson from this experience because there won't be additional checks in the future. But also know when you really do need to rely on someone, I'm always here for you. Always.

"Love, Dad."

There are any number of ways a story like this could go, but do you see how communicating clearly can deepen and enrich our relationships?

Try it.

Scotty

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Losing your family exemption ...

In 1978, Thomas Hansen of Boulder, Colorado, sued his parents for $350,000 in damages on the grounds of "malpractice of parenting." He charged in his lawsuit that his mom and dad botched his upbringing so badly that he would need years of costly psychiatric treatment.

I don't know how that case turned out, but things have changed a lot since then.

Oh, we still have plenty of moms and dads who don't do so well as parents, but the pendulum has swung far in the other direction. In 2014, we have a plethora of parents who spoil their children with so much that their kids grow up with "entitlement" attitudes.

Except, that is, when it comes to the area of their spiritual well-being.

I've been reminded of this issue recently as several people have asked about the new, international ministry I'm working on launching. It doesn't take telling the story too many times before someone says something like this:

"You're so lucky you're single so you can do something like this. Having kids, I could never do something like what you're doing ..."

Yeah, I usually interrupt them at that point.

That's because I think it's important they understand just how false a statement it is that they just made.

A few weeks ago, while I was visiting with a pastor who leads a church just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I asked him what the greatest struggles were within that congregation.

"People are just too busy," he said without a moment's hesitation.

Like so many parents around the country, the moms and dads in that area were living lives that revolved around indulging their children in as many activities as possible, to the point it significantly impacted the lives of the parents to being able to do anything other than go to work and try to squeeze in a little sleep.

"What they tell me is they don't want their kids to miss out on anything," the pastor explained further. And in that wild ride to make their children's childhoods as "fulfilling" as possible, the parents miss the single greatest need their children have: a vibrant covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.

The reason why I respond quickly to people when they claim they couldn't serve God to the same degree as I do as a single man is that isn't the truth. Single people aren't the "expendables" --- because they aren't married doesn't qualify them as the only people to live a life of sacrificial service to God. But you wouldn't know that by how most parents raise their children today. They have bought into that great fear the pastor in Minnesota voiced --- they don't want their kids to "miss out on anything."

Anything except God, because time is not being made for Him. In fact, in too many families, if you look at how time and resources are spent, God isn't even in the running. Not by a long shot! So many parents think that at least a couple decades of their lives are off limits to God and the church as far as significant interaction or service goes because making sure their children don't miss out on anything will demand all of their free time and resources.

"I couldn't do anything like what you're doing until the kids were out of school," was a comment made to me recently.

Apparently this person doesn't know their Bible and church history very well.

Not all the apostles were single. The same with the early church fathers. And today, we still send families to the mission field. The church wasn't built, and isn't sustained, only by single people who, because of their singleness, can be expected to give up their lives for the sake of God and His kingdom.

Many of those parents point to the Apostle Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 7:1-8 as an excuse for not being able to serve the Lord as wholeheartedly as a single person. Again, they haven't looked at scripture in its fuller context, from the Old Testament to the New, to see how God has used married people and families for His purposes. And then we have that wildly famous challenge from Joshua:

"... But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord," Joshua 24:15b.

With that statement ringing in our ears comes our modern challenge: removing our children and families as our most worshiped idols, and re-establishing God as the one we worship above any and all.

We can do this as families. As couples. And even as singles.

I enjoy reading the posts of a pastor who is following God's call for him to give up a more comfortable position pastoring a church in the U.S. to pack up his family --- yes, kids and all --- and move to Haiti where they are now serving the Lord. Together. As a family who loves the Lord and is obedient to His call.

And guess what, they aren't missing out on anything important!

No, I'm not advocating that you, also, pack up your family and move to a foreign mission field ... unless God is directing you to do so! What I am suggesting is that in our culture, we've placed our children and family on pedestals, and we worship them there. God becomes, at best, second place.

That is sin.

What I'm suggesting is that we confess that as sin, and then repent of it by making God pre-eminent in every aspect --- and every relationship --- of our lives. Doing so will not result in your children missing out on anything of value; instead, it will teach your children how to rightly value everything in life, starting with God.

If your life revolves around making your children and your family your idols, isn't it time you finally lost your claim of having a "family exemption" to faithfulness and obedience? Isn't it time that together, as a family, or as a couple, you re-order things to putting God first?

Scotty

Saturday, November 8, 2014

If you want to be an effective disciple-maker, here's how to become equipped ...

 "Let's change your life!" is the tag line for the Scott Free Clinic ministry. That's because helping people change their lives --- from coming to know Christ as their Savior, to becoming whole persons in Christ --- is the vision and mission of this ministry (you can learn more about this ministry at ScottFreeClinic.org).

Today, I want to challenge you in a very specific way: I want to challenge you to become an ambassador for Jesus Christ by being equipped to be an effective disciple-maker. God wants to make His appeal to the lost through YOU, and it is possible to be equipped to be used by God so that YOU are effective in reaching those who don't yet know Him.

"And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'" 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

This is THE call God makes to every Christian, yet most Christians have never been equipped by their spiritual leaders to share the Gospel with others. In fact, many church leaders have never been equipped in personal evangelism themselves!

Let's change that!

I would like to invite, encourage, and challenge all of you to sign up for the "Relational Evangelism" coursed offered online by Hope International University (HIU) and taught by John Hendee, Chair of World Evangelism at HIU. This course will specifically equip you to use an evangelistic tool called "It's All About Relationship." John developed the tool more than 30 years ago, and for several years it was published by Standard Publishing Company. I've used this tool for 30-ish years with great success ("success" = effective at leading people into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ), and its been used by churches, church planting, and mission work around the world with the same great success. I have been auditing the course taught by John, so I know first-hand it has great value in equipping participants to be effective in sharing the Gospel with others, to equip YOU to be an AMBASSADOR for Christ!

The next course will be conducted starts on January 5, 2015 (it's NOT too early to make plans NOW to take the course) and can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit, or can be audited. I would like to see as many of my readers as possible sign up for the next course. Current students range from "average Christians" who want to be equipped to share the Gospel to pastors, influential church leaders, elders, church planters, and people active on the mission field, and THEY are learning a LOT about being effective at reaching the lost for Christ.

So, there is your challenge. Signing up for this course will change your life by equipping you to be an effective ambassador for Jesus Christ. Unless you're a highly effective disciple-maker right now, then don't pass this by. Let's get equipped to be used as life changers together! If you have any questions about this course, you can contact me at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org.



Scotty

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A few tips on how to disciple your own children ...

If it is important to you at all that your children grow up to be authentic followers of Jesus Christ, then how do you think that will be accomplished?

How will your children hear the Gospel message and respond to it by surrendering their lives to Jesus?

How will your children be taught the Word of God so they can mature in Christ?

How will your children be equipped to be faithful and effective ambassadors for Christ?

You might be surprised at the number of Christian parents whose children are now teens, and these parents are "suddenly" facing real questions about the faith and behavior of their children. They "thought" their children were Christian, but now actual statements made by their own kids, along with their behavior, raise real doubts.

Yes, many parents blindly thought their children growing up to be a Christian would just "happen" without any specific role on their part. But it's just the opposite that is true. When God gave you your child(ren), He also handed YOU the specific responsibility of forging from that life a mature, faithful ambassador of Jesus Christ.

The good news is that he didn't leave it all up to you. The Holy Spirit is the one who does the transforming of lives and produces spiritual fruit, but as a parent, your role is the most critical human one when it comes to the spiritual formation of your children. So here are a few tips for how to disciple your own children ...

First, to make disciples of your children you need to share the Gospel with them. Your children becoming "born again" doesn't happen by osmosis. It doesn't happen by them parroting what you say or do. It doesn't happen by just taking them to church. It doesn't happen just because they're "active" in a youth group. It doesn't happen just by them having Christian friends. It doesn't happen just by sending them to a Christian school. Like every other human being on the planet, for your children to become authentic followers of Christ, they need to hear the Gospel message and respond to it by surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ.

You might be amazed at how many Christian parents miss that point. Or how many Christian parents who never make sure they clearly, concisely, comprehensively share the Gospel with their own children.

I've written before about how several parents have come to me and asked that I share the Gospel with their children. My usual response is to suggest to the parents that I equip them in how to share the Gospel so they can present God's "message of reconciliation" to their own children. The last time I made that suggestion to parents, the couple flatly said no. They were not interested in being equipped, they wanted me to make the presentation to their children for them!

If it isn't your responsibility to share the Gospel with your own children, whose responsibility is it? It's yours, and if you don't know how, it's a simple thing to equip you so that you can effectively share the Good News of Jesus with your children.

Second, help your children to mature in Christ by teaching them from the Bible. Once you've led your children to Christ, it's important to help them to grow up in Him. You are the greatest teaching influence in the lives of your children, and that includes spiritually. But to help your children grow in Christ, you'll have to open your Bibles and teach from it. Your opinions cannot substitute for the Word of God. You need to build into your relationship with your children regular teaching from the Bible so that their faith can deepen and blossom.

Third, regularly pray with your children. Yes, you need to pray for your children, and you need to pray for yourself as the pastors of your children, but you also need to pray with your children. Communing with God by coming before Him in conversation (prayer) together will teach your children how to develop an intimate relationship with God that revolves around unceasing conversation with Him.

Fourth, model for your children every day what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This point is not in consecutive order, as you want to be an example of a faithful and obedient follower of Christ from your children's births. That example will help them be more open to the Gospel message, and it will help them better understand how to live out what you teach them from the Bible. Your example, as imperfect as it will be, will help them to learn how to walk through life as a child of God in good times and in bad, in plenty and in scarcity, when challenged and when comfortable. Your faithfulness to God will help them interpret how to apply God's Word to their own lives.

Fifth, equip your children to be ambassadors for Christ. Specifically teach your children how to share the Gospel so they will be able to share it with others in their lives. Few parents even consider equipping their children to be ambassadors for Christ, but that is what He calls each of us to be (2 Cor. 5:18-20). If you don't equip them in how to share the Gospel, who will?

Sixth, help your children become fully connected with their "other family," the family of God. The church will be a major influence and vital part of the lives of your children for their entire lives. Help them to understand how God has adopted them into His own family, and that they have their own important place within that family. Help your children to discover their spiritual gifts and find effective ways to put them to use within the body of Christ. And help your children benefit from the priceless fellowship, love, and nurture they can receive (and give) from their church family.

These are a few basic but important steps for parents to take in their "ministry of parenting." Make it your single greatest assignment as a parent to lead your own children into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, and then commit yourselves to teach them how to grow up in Christ so that they can live as mature ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Doing this will be one of the most rewarding things you'll ever accomplish with your life.

Scotty

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ceremonial deism is ruining America ...

I recently was the victim of a very malicious crime. The person who committed this felony has items of Christian symbolism strewn throughout her home. It certainly didn't help her to live out, and act out, a godly life. The symbolism of faith in her home was void of meaning, as her behavior was anything but Christian.

The same is true for America.

Many of the professing Christians in our nation are more concerned about "ceremonial deism" than they are living, day-in and day-out, an authentic Christian life as a faithful and obedient disciple of Jesus Christ.

"Ceremonial deism" isn't just a phrase. It's actually a legal term for "nominally religious statements and practices deemed to be merely ritual and non-religious through long customary usage" (see Wikipedia for a definition). Examples of ceremonial deism are the hanging of the 10 commandments in a courtroom, "under God" being stated in the the Pledge of Allegiance, and the phrase "In God We Trust" being printed on our currency.

 So many professing Christians become irate and express themselves in less than Christlike behavior over battles to  make sure that public displays and expressions that include God are retained in America's public squares. I'm not arguing that there isn't value in these displays and expressions. The problem is that we've become a nation of ceremonial deists, people who are far more concerned about an outward expression of Christianity, than the reality of being a Christian nation.

People throw fits when someone in a store says "Happy holidays!" to them instead of "Merry Christmas!" but the same professing Christian knows a score of people, from family members to friends and neighbors, who do not know Christ and yet they will never share the Gospel with them.

People fight for the ability to place a manger scene on city hall property, but will not share the Gospel with unsaved co-workers

People lose their cool and spew the most vile words in online political arguments, believing that only Republicans will restore our country as a "Christian nation," and yet the same people won't even share the Gospel with their close personal friends who are lost and need to know Jesus Christ.

People argue that our nation has a Christian heritage but fail to share the Gospel with lost people they know, thus directly contributing to the continued decline of Christianity in America and the steep decline of our churches.

To fume and fight and fuss over publicly looking like a Christian nation without being a Christian nation is nothing short of gross hypocrisy. It isn't public displays and expressions of a Christian nature that is the great need of Americans; what is the great need is Jesus Christ reigning in the lives of our citizens. Without that, you can litter America with Christian symbols but it won't make a difference. Symbols do not make the dead alive, symbols do not transform sinners into saints, and symbols do not save souls. Only Christ does.

Our symbols, displays, and expressions of faith have no value if they do not literally represent people of faith, people who live out their faith, a faith that leads us to deny ourselves, to take up our own cross every day, and to literally walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

When we do that, when we're a nation who believes and follows Jesus Christ, then our symbols will be more than empty symbolism. They will represent people who pray for their leaders and their nation, people who are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and share it enthusiastically whenever they have opportunity, people who love their neighbors as themselves, and --- above all --- people who love the Lord with all their heart, all their strength, all their soul, and all their mind.

So what is more important to you: having the appearance of Christianity, or living as an obedient ambassador of Jesus Christ?

Scotty

Sunday, November 2, 2014

YOU stand between God and sinners ...

Abraham had a remarkable relationship with God. His faith in his creator distinguished him among men, but his compassion for sinners was also something we should take note of.

Genesis18:16-33 tells how Abraham pleaded for mercy on behalf of the sinners in Sodom. These sinners were of the bold kind, so much so, this is how the Lord described the situation ...

"So the Lord told Abraham, 'I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant'," Genesis 18:20.

So Abraham began to bargain with the Lord, asking him to spare the city if enough righteous people could be found in it. If Abraham cared only for the righteous, he would have made a different request of God, but he cared about the destruction of sinners as well. So he placed himself between them and God, and pleaded on their behalf.

That was then, this is now.

Our "now" is that you and I, as Christians, are now standing between God and sinners. This time, it was God who put us in this position, but before doing so, He equipped us for this vital stance ...

"And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'" 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

God doesn't want to see anyone destroyed because of sin, but desires that everyone repent of their sins (2 Peter 3:9). To warn people and to encourage them to turn from their sins and make peace with God, we have been made His ambassadors and equipped with a message of reconciliation. God has put us between Himself and sinners so that He may make His appeal through us!

So there you stand, between God and sinners. What are you doing?

Scotty

Getting the word out ...

For several months I have been sharing with all my readers here on "Extraordinary Living" about our efforts to develop and launch the Scott Free Clinic ministry. We now have a website that provides all the information about this exciting and vital new ministry, which you can find here ScottFreeClinic.org.

Let me encourage you to check out the website, learn about this new ministry, and consider becoming a "Care Partner" by giving the gift of help. Your financial support of this ministry will enable us to provide people, pastors, and churches the help they need. Every gift --- whether it's a one-time gift, or supporting this ministry monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually --- will make a difference. And every donation to the Scott Free Clinic is fully tax deductible.

Could I ask a favor of you? We would greatly appreciate your assistance in getting the word out about our new website. Would you consider pointing people you know to our website or sharing the website link with others? We would like to introduce as many people as possible to this ministry by making them aware of our presence through the new website.

Many of you have been praying for this ministry, and we greatly appreciate and depend on your prayer support. We look forward, with your prayers and support, to moving forward to fully launching this ministry and partnering together to change lives.

Thank you, and God bless you!

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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Without this, you'll always be a spiritual weakling ...

What is your training regimen?

"My what?"

Your training regimen. Your specific activity you execute consistently and with self-discipline for your growth in godliness.

"Oh, well I have a devotional time every morning. See! I DO have one of those!"

No, I didn't ask if you have a few moments for devotions, I asked what your training regimen is. Let's step back and look at this ...

"Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives' tales. Instead, TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE GODLY. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come," 1 Timothy 4:7-8.

So what's your TRAINING regimen?

You see, if we truly desire to be godly men and women, it doesn't just happen. And just a 10-minute devotion over coffee in the morning won't get you there. That would be like a man wanting to become a Hall of Fame football player by watching 10 minutes of ESPN. Legendary football coach Tom Landry once said, "The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don't want to do, in order to achieve what they've always wanted to be." In other words, to put them through a regimen that molded them into great professionals.

Any of us could sit down and outline some kind of regimen that would spiritually challenge the socks off us. But the reason why we don't, the reason why most of us DON'T have a regimen for training ourselves in godliness, is because there are things we don't want to give up. It might be our time, it might be our passions, it might be our habits ... whatever it is, there's something we're still selfish about that we're not yet willing to relinquish.

M. Scott Peck captures the idea of this remaining bubble of selfishness in this excerpt from "The Road Less Traveled":

"I spent much of my ninth summer on a bicycle. About a mile from our house the road went down a steep hill and turned sharply at the bottom. Coasting down the hill one morning, I felt my gathering speed to be ecstatic. To give up this ecstasy by applying brakes seemed an absurd self-punishment. So I resolved to simultaneously retain my speed and negotiate the corner. My ecstasy ended seconds later when I was propelled a dozen feet off the road into the woods. I was badly scratched and bleeding, and the front wheel of my new bike was twisted beyond use from its impact against a tree. I had been unwilling to suffer the pain of giving up my ecstatic speed in the interest of maintaining my balance around the corner. I've learned, however, that the loss of balance is ultimately more painful than the giving up required to maintain balance. It is a lesson I have continually had to relearn. As must everyone, for as we negotiate the curves and corners of our lives, we must continually give up parts of ourselves."

What are you still hanging onto that keeps you from training and developing yourself for godliness? When will you give up the ecstasies of the world to fully become the godly man or woman you really could be?

Scotty