Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Being friendly can make you a better disciple-maker ...

As I was sitting at the table, a young, skinny and bespectacled African-American boy stepped alongside me and just started talking.

"Do you like San Diego?" was his opening question that would serve as a greeting and as an opening barrage of many more questions to follow.

I learned he was 13 years old and was in town because his big brother was graduating this week in the Marine Corps. He was very proud of his big brother!

I learned he was from Dallas, and we talked about that place because I've lived in that area, also.

He wants to become an engineer.

Now, he pulled out a chair at my table and made himself comfortable without the slightest pause in his talking and inquiring.

He likes the Dallas area because there are a lot of celebrities there.

What did I think about Los Angeles?

What did I think about San Francisco?

And so came the volley of questions that made for an odd but pleasant conversation with a complete stranger.

I know the boy would have kept talking if he had not been interrupted by his grandmother, who returned from running out to get them some food. We introduced ourselves and I let her know her grandson had introduced himself, and we had been having a pleasant conversation. I mentioned she must be very proud of both her grandsons, and she beemed with a smile that didn't need her words of affirmation to my statement. She did explain her grandson-Marine had actually failed in his first three attempts to get accepted by the Corps, but he was determined to be a Marine and this week he would realize his dream.

It was so easy to get to know complete strangers!

In this case, I didn't have to do anything, it was a young teenager who started the conversation!

It was a good example of how open and inquisitive young people are. We adults tend to lose all interest in making connections with strangers simply because they're in the same room with us.

And the church suffers for that.

Young people tend to keep their heads up and on a swivel, searching out the world and people around them with imagination and curiosity. Adults more often keep their heads down and hope no one interrupts them from their self-centered focus on pursuing what's on their agenda for themselves.

You can't win the world for Christ that way.

Thirty years ago I learned a highly effective model for disciple-making that includes teaching disciples how to engage people so that connections can be made and opportunities for sharing the Gospel can be created and expanded. Learning how to do that, and being equipped to share the Gospel in an effective, comprehensive but concise way will create a multiplying factor to a disciples' efforts for making new disciples.

When you keep your head up to see the people around you, and purposely engage with them, you're off to a good start to being able to lead many people to Christ.

If you would like to learn more about how you can be equipped to be an effective disciple-maker, contact me at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org.

Scotty

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In search of a doctoral candidate who is looking for a significant research project ...

I am currently consulting for the Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University (HIU) on a variety of initiatives. One major project about to be green-lighted is conducting a significant two-year research project. We are currently looking for someone to take the lead for this project, which would be an ideal research project for a doctoral candidate.

The researcher would not have to be connected with HIU but would have to work with specific representatives from the university.

This is an exciting project! If you know of any potential candidates, please have them contact John Hendee, HIU's Chair of World Evangelism, at john.hendee@cox.net or they can contact me at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org.

Thank you!

Scotty

In all honesty, who are your people?

When training people in how to be effective disciple-makers, I often hear people remark that most of their friends and most people they know are Christians.

It's a common issue: after becoming a Christian, instead of going into the world to make disciples, most retreat from the world to wallow in fellowship with others like them. Other Christians become their "people."

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, understood how many Christians insulate themselves from the world, which means they can't reach it for Christ. It's a bad mistake he didn't want his children to make. One Sunday evening Booth was walking in London with his son, Bramwell, who was 12 or 13 years old at the time. Booth surprised his son by taking him into a saloon! The place was crowded with men and women, many of them bearing on their faces the marks of vice and crime; some were drunk. The fumes of alcohol and tobacco was thick in the air.

"Willie," Booth said to his son, "these are our people; these are the people I want you to live for and bring to Christ."

Years later, Bramwell Booth wrote, "The impression never left me."

It was the same kind of people that Jesus spent a lot of time with ...

"Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector's booth. 'Follow me and be my disciple,' Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi's fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus' disciples, 'Why do you eat and drink with such scum?' Jesus answered them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor --- sick people do. I have come to call not those who think the are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent'," Luke 5:27-32.

If someone asked your children who your "people" are, what would they say? What kind of example of Christian ambassadorship are you setting for your children? In all honesty, who are your people?

Scotty

Monday, January 26, 2015

YOU and your CHURCH can learn to add HUNDREDS of NEW disciples every year ...

Open your calendar --- paper, digital, or otherwise --- and circle or highlight March 16, 2015.

Let's make that the day you as an individual, or your ministry, or your church begins to revolutionize your approach to making disciples so that every year you're adding at least hundreds of new disciples to the church.

I'll tell you why March 16 is important in a minute, but let me give you some context.

Over the past few decades there have been a few popular ways of sharing the Gospel that Christians have been exposed to, most of which really were not all that effective. And thinking that the "Romans Road" approach to sharing the Gospel is a comprehensive model for effective disciple-making is to rob non-Christians of a full hearing of the Gospel --- and it minimizes who you could reach for Christ.

There is a proven model for sharing the Gospel in both a comprehensive and concise way that has been so effective among a variety of cultures around the world that thousands have come to a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ by its use.

More than 35 years ago, John Hendee, while serving as Minister of Evangelism at Central Christian Church in Mesa, AZ, developed a complete model for evangelism that would soon be published by Standard Publishing. Scores of people learned and applied the model. In one year alone, 750 people were added to the congregation at Central, most through use of this disciple-making model. Since then, the model has been used by individual Christians, pastors and church leaders, church planters, missionaries, and implemented in churches all over as their model for disciple-making, and the result was always that of multiplying the number of new disciples being made, to the point that thousands have come to Christ through these efforts.

The model has been updated and revised, and is now called the "It's All About Relationship" model for effective disciple-making. John now serves as Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University (HIU) in Fullerton, CA, where he has been teaching a successful online course called "Relational Evangelism" in equipping people to use this disciple-making model.

Now, the significance for the date.

On March 16, HIU will begin its first offering of training in the use of this disciple-making model through its Open Classroom platform. That means that individuals, or whole teams, or even entire churches, ministries, or organizations can take the course together at a greatly reduced cost of just $50 per person (if you have a guaranteed group over over 100 people, HIU will likely reduce the per person cost even more!). By being active participants in this course, in just eight weeks you (and your team or church, if doing this as a group) will be equipped in how to make disciples in the most effective way I have ever seen.

To invest further in your success at implementing this model, we are in the process of developing a disciple-maker coaching network to support you after you complete the course. We're also making available to you for FREE some quality materials for discipling Christians.

Instead of hoping you'll see some people come to Christ this year, why not equip the saints to become effective disciple-makers so that you can begin reaching the lost in the community around you by the hundreds?

We would welcome the opportunity to answer any of your questions and talk further with you about the possibility of you taking this course or the real value of using the "It's All About Relationship" disciple-making model personally, or in your ministry or church. You can contact John at john.hendee@cox.net or email me at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org.

Make 2015 the year you became serious about winning the lost for Christ in a very bold and effective way, and make March 16 the day you start getting equipped to make that change happen!

Scotty

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why do we do it?

Musicians are some of the most passionate people you will ever meet.

There was a sign posted in a music store that stated, "A jazz musician is someone who puts a $5,000 horn in a $500 car and drives $50 miles for a $5 gig."

What is it that compels musicians to invest all that they are and have into their art?

It's a love for their music.

The same motivation --- that of love --- is what compels Christians to invest all that they are and have in going to great lengths to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others.

"Either way, Christ's love controls [or "compels"] us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them," 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

Do you love Jesus Christ to the point that you live for Him? Is it love for Jesus that compels you to put everything that your are and have into introducing others to Him?

Scotty

Friday, January 23, 2015

Here are some opportunities related to disciple-making and discipleship you won't want to miss ...

For a few months now I've had the opportunity to consult for, and work with my friend, John Hendee, in his position as Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University (HIU) in Fullerton, California.

John and I spent a couple of days at HIU this week, and we have some exciting things to share with you about an incredible training opportunity to help individuals become highly effective disciple-makers, to help churches transition into disciple-making churches, a new network you'll want to know about, and some FREE materials as well.

I talk about these things in the short video posted on the Scott Free Clinic website here http://go.shr.lc/1D0uKCS. Check it out and take advantage of the great offerings we'll be making available.

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

A very concise question: How fruitful is your life?

A student once asked the advice of heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, regarding what he should do to make something of his life.

"Stay in college, get the knowledge. And stay there until you're through. If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you."

God wants to make something of you and me. He wants to transform us into the likeness of His Son. Jesus wants us to live productive lives that bring glory to God ...

"You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name," John 15:16.

Is your life bearing fruit that brings glory to God?

Scotty

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Are you living like a lamp in the light section?

Women may be able to joyfully devour hours worth of shopping at the mall, but men have their version of shopping prowess as well.

For D.A., it was a long outing in Home Depot that resulted in learning a life lesson ...

"One Saturday, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time at Home Depot. Walking from aisle to aisle, I came upon the light section. It's the brightest area in the store! There are all kinds of lights, from lamps, to ceiling fans, to fancy chandeliers. I began to think this is one section in the store that no one complains is too dim, or that they need some light to help them see. There they are ... all of them! All gathered in one place!"

D.A. summarized his visit to the store ...

"It got me thinking about churches, youth groups, and evangelism. Indeed, many of our churches are like those lighting sections or lamp stores, we have so much light gathered together in one place. We don't need more light! But the purpose of our light is not to gather it all together in one place. Ours is to go out into dark places and bring them light. So many churches only want another light in a place that is already well lit. Don't be a light in the lamp section! We must leave the light section and go light the darkness."

That's similar to the message the Apostle Paul included in his writing to the Philippians ...

"Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people," Philippians 2:14-15.

Are you living as a lamp in a dark place? Or do you spend most of your time hanging out in the lamp section?

Scotty

Monday, January 19, 2015

What are you thinking?

Daniel Maurice Robins wrote in "War Cry":
AS WE THINK
The mind is like a crowded street,
Where phantom thoughts, like people, meet:
Some hard at work, some idle are,
Some stay at home, some wander far.
Some thoughts wield power that ever lives -
A power that inspiration gives,
While others dwell with us awhile,
Then pass, as transient as a smile.
Thus come and go these thoughts of Ours,
Some, perfume-laden as the flowers.
While others sear our lives with blight
And bring no pleasure or delight.
Our thinking lifts us to the stars,
Or seals our hearts with prison bars;
Confers on us both joy and strife,
For as we think we fashion life.
The Apostle Paul wrote for us the following:
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me --- everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you," Philippians 4:8-9.
What are you thinking?

Scotty

Saturday, January 17, 2015

#epicfail - face palm!

I was excited this morning!

For the past couple weeks, I've been passing the word that today I would be holding a special call-in event for the Scott Free Clinic. The idea was to help people get a "personal tune-up" as part of their getting a new year off to a good start.

Well, I blew it!

The call-in event was scheduled to be held from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Pacific time. After about an hour into it and not getting a call, I pulled up on my laptop the details we have been sharing about the event. And there it was, the error. I had inverted two digits in the area code, which meant we had been giving out the wrong phone number for a couple weeks!

I want to personally apologize to anyone who had planned on connecting with me today for the event. I'm so sorry for the error, and any inconvenience it may have caused you. I'm hoping we'll be able to plan another call-in event, or something similar, while we continue to work on raising funds to be able to fully launch this ministry.

If we can pray for you in a specific way, please send me a note to let me know. You can reach me at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org.

Scotty

Friday, January 16, 2015

When leaders are cowards, people will perish ...

Those who love the church work diligently to identify what's wrong with it in order to fix it. One of the most poignant problems we find in the church today are many leaders who are afraid to offend people with the Gospel.

The problem with that is, when leaders are cowards, people will perish.

When leaders fail to be honest about the fact that, in order to be an authentic follower of Jesus Christ our lives must change, a culture of empty, impotent religion grows like a fungus where a pure faith practiced generously and joyfully should be seen.

Jesus wasn't afraid of telling people clearly and directly that their lives would have to change. In fact, He was very to-the-point about what kind of change He would require from anyone wanting to be His disciple ...

"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me," Luke 9:23.

There's no ambiguity in that statement!

But the failure of leaders today to teach the same thing Jesus Himself stated clearly results in many who prefer to claim a faith they do not live. John spoke concisely about that issue ...

"Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did," 1 John 2:6.

There's an old story about the twentieth century violin virtuoso, Fritz Kreisler. Setting out from Hamburg, Germany, one day to give a concert in London. Kreisler found he had an hour to spare before his boat sailed. So he wandered into a music shop where the proprietor asked if he could look at the violin Kreisler was carrying. He then vanished and returned with two policemen, one of whom told the violinist, "You're under arrest!"

"What for?" asked Kreisler incredulously.

"You have Fritz Kreisler's violin."

"I am Fritz Kreisler!" protested the musician.

"No you're not. Come along!" barked the policeman.

Since Kreisler's boat would be sailing soon, there was no time for prolonged explanations. Kreisler asked for his violin and played a piece he was well-known for.

"Now are you satisfied?" he asked?

The policemen let the musician go because he had done what only Fritz Kreisler could do.

Many today have replaced the Gospel message with a false gospel of just name your blessing, and then claim it! An authentic faith in Christ is not a matter of "name it and claim it," it's a matter of if you're claiming it, then you need to be living it! What should be demonstrated with our lives should be what only could be seen if Christ were in us.

Again, the words of John challenge us: "Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did," 1 John 2:6.

Is that how you're living your life?

Scotty

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The power of sincerity ...

What you reap in this life, and what your eternal destiny will be, will eventually be narrowed to a critical factor: What you believe sincerely.

Thus, the power of sincerity.

Sincerity is the truth that lies below our statements and professions of beliefs, and rests in our hearts and minds; it fosters our true desires and generates motivation for how we live, for what is important to us, and what we pursue. It is the basic truth about us, something we may at times try to camouflage from others, but can never be hidden from God.

"For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all," Luke 8:17.

Raymond McHenry tells the story of how, in ancient Rome, sculpting was a popular profession ...

"The culture flourished with statues, as nearly every public and private building had numerous gods represented. The market was flooded with sculptors, so quality was sometimes lacking. Less qualified craftsmen would cover their errors with wax, and frequently the customer could not see the flaw. To compensate for this practice, authentic sculptors would mark their statues with the words sine cera --- 'without wax'. Today we frequently use the same term to close letters: 'Sincerely.' As Christians we are called to live authentic lives ..."

Jesus leveled some of His harshest criticism toward those whose claims of faith in God was insincere ...

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy --- full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too," Matthew 23:25-26.

The "teachers of religious law" and the Pharisees believed sincerely, but in the wrong thing. R. Scott Richards writes about how harmful misplaced sincerity can be ...

"Truth matters. We can sincerely believe that human flight is possible by jumping out of a three-story window and flapping our arms, but our sincerity doesn't make the sidewalk any softer."

In his book, "Myths the World Taught Me," Richards goes on to describe a deadly example of misplaced sincerity ...

"In November of 1987, fooled by the wiles of a witch doctor, Alice Lakwena, a mob of some 700 anti-government rebels attempted to overtake a Ugandan army post and airstrip. The attackers were armed with little more than their passion, and were bare-chested and covered in oil. Calling themselves the 'Holy Spirit Movement,' they marched into a hail storm of bullets fired by the defending government forces. When all was said and done, some 200 rebels were dead and most of the rest were taken prisoner. The witch doctor had convinced them the oil they had smeared on their bodies was a magical concoction that would protect them from bullets. The battle was lost before it had begun. No one could fault the 'Holy Spirit Movement' for lack of sincerity. One must be a true believer to face live bullets half naked. Sincere? Yes. But wrong, dead wrong."

For many of us, our sincerity about Jesus Christ is pockmarked with lingering doubt, something that needs to be removed for us to fully know the power of Christ in our lives. It is much like the panicking father who had an encounter with Jesus ...

"One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, 'Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won't let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn't do it.' Jesus said to them, 'You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.' So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 'How long has this been happening?' Jesus asked the boy's father. He replied, 'Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.' 'What do you mean, "If I can?"' Jesus asked. 'Anything is possible if a person believes.' The father instantly cried out, 'I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!'" Mark 9:17-24.

This man, like many today, needed to settle the issue of his sincerity about Jesus Christ. When we finally see Jesus, the sincerity of our faith in Him will be revealed ...

"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord!Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws'," Matthew 7:21-23.

How sincere is your faith in Jesus Christ?

Scotty

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The need for a comfort zone ...

The title of this blog may surprise you, since I've often spoken and written about the negative aspect of our clinging to our comfort zones.

But that's the key --- clinging to them.

Insisting on wallowing in our comfort zones has a debilitating affect on our lives. Oswald Chambers once wrote, "God, who made the birds, never made bird cages. It's men who made bird cages and after a while we become cramped and can do nothing but chirp and stand on one leg."

The fact is, though, we all need a "comfort zone," a place to retreat where we can rest ourselves in quiet and peace, or pursue recreation and refreshment from the daily bombardments of life's troubles and trials.

Like today, a Saturday morning, which will find many of my readers sleeping in later than they do during the week, spending much of their morning lingering in their PJ's over cups of coffee and getting a much slower start to their day.

In spite of the chores and errands to run, some will also go for a workout or run, have brunch with a friend, or meander through the mall and decide to catch a movie at the theater. Others will get lost in a novel or wear out themselves and their DVD player with a video marathon of their favorite movie series with friends. And still others will make sure to catch their favorite sports events, get outdoors for some fun in the sun, or spend long hours lingering in the Word and prayer.

We need times when we can move away from our work to play, pray, and rest.

But comfort zones are places to refresh and renew ourselves in order to get back into the daily rhythms of service in God's kingdom. Kent Crockett noted insightfully how God helps to motivate us to regularly move back outside of our comfort zones ...

"God places many of his blessings outside of our comfort zones, then asks us to come get them."

So don't let anyone try to make you feel guilty about getting some rest, having some fun, and making time on a regular basis to renew and refresh yourself. Jesus Himself had the habit of withdrawing from the crowds to pray and rest.

Let's add in a BUT here ... two of them, as a matter of fact. Don't forget to use some of your time for refreshing for re-energizing spiritually. Extended time for prayer and lingering long in the Word of God is as essential as rest, exercise, and recreation. And don't use your need for rest and recreation as an excuse to over-indulge in these things and neglect your responsibility and opportunity to serve well in God's kingdom.

A final word is directed to CHURCH LEADERS ... don't think that every moment of "free time" that people in your congregation have is supposed to be soaked up in commitments to church programs. Just as you need time off from your ministry work, the people you lead need time off as well. Keep this in mind BEFORE pushing people to make commitments to activities, programs, and events.

With that said, enjoy your weekend!

Scotty

Friday, January 9, 2015

As simple as walking through a door ...

Human beings like to complicate things. We've had that bent ever since the first couple of people messed things up in the Garden of Eden, and we bring this habit to most things in our lives, including our salvation.

Yes, even when it comes to receiving God's offer of peace with Him, we complicate what is simple by trying to achieve it ourselves or do something to earn it. Try as we might, there's nothing we can do to achieve, earn, or contribute to our salvation. All we can do is receive it as God's gift to us.

In his book, "40 Days," Alton Gansky relates this story about famed magician, Harry Houdini: "Harry Houdini made a name for himself by escaping from every imaginable confinement --- from straightjackets to multiple pairs of handcuffs clamped to his arms. He boasted that no jail cell could hold him. Time and again, he would be locked in a cell only to reappear minutes later.
 
"It worked every time --- but one. He accepted another invitation to demonstrate his skill. He entered the cell, wearing his street clothes, and the jail cell door shut. Once alone, he pulled a thin but strong piece of metal from his belt and began working the lock. But something was wrong. No matter how hard Houdini worked, he couldn't unlock the lock. For two hours he applied skill and experience to the lock but failed time and time again. Two hours later he gave up in frustration.


 "The problem? The cell had never been locked. Houdini worked himself to near exhaustion trying to achieve what could be accomplished by simply pushing the door open. The only place the door was locked was in his mind."

Houdini strived to find a way to set himself free, when all he had to do was push the door open. We do the same thing when it comes to our salvation: we strive to achieve it on our own, earn it in some way, or make some kind of contribution toward it. But Jesus says all we have to do is open the door ...

"Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends," Revelation 3:20.

Have you opened the door to Christ? Or are you still striving to set yourself free?

Scotty

Thursday, January 8, 2015

This is the kind of thinking that keeps the world lost and broken ...

Reading through my Twitter feed yesterday, this tweet from a lady jumped out at me:

"When will the world wake up and realize it needs Jesus?"

Here's what I think the response to such a question has to be: "When will Christians carry out their responsibility to be Christ's ambassadors and share the Gospel message with the world?"

The world is not going to suddenly "wake up" and realize they need Someone that the majority of the seven-plus billion people on this planet have never heard of, and those who have heard something usually haven't heard the Gospel. There is a reason that Jesus told His church to GO, into all the world, and MAKE disciples!

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" Romans 10:14-15.

This particular lady isn't the only one to voice such indignation about the world and suggest people need Jesus. Social media is filled each day with Christians complaining about how disgusting this world is and pondering why people don't wake up to the fact they're lost and Jesus Christ is their only hope.

The reason is because the vast majority of Christians NEVER share the Gospel with anyone! They may know the world needs Jesus, but they don't share the Good News about Christ with the lost people in this world.

But sharing the Gospel, being an ambassador for Christ, being the conduit of God's plea to the world is exactly what EVERY Christian is supposed to do and be ...

"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.

If you REALLY want to see the world find Jesus Christ, go tell the world about Him!

Scotty

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How theology, psychology, and biology come together in changing lives ...

Because I think group counseling has a very limited purpose and effectiveness, I haven't developed many counseling groups, opting instead to work with people individually, or as couples, families, or teams. But that night I found myself leading a group that had been very effective. We were all comfortable in our chairs, circled around with full cups of coffee in hand, when the lady looked at me and asked a question within a statement:

"I think everyone should see a counselor, don't you?"

I looked at her and answered, "No."

The smile faded quickly from her face.

I could have told her about Hans Isnik who conducted a study that found if you have emotional problems, the probability that you will be well in one year if you go to see a psychoanalyst is 44 percent; a psychotherapist, 53 percent; a psychiatrist, 61 percent; and no one at all, 73 percent!

I don't know the veracity of Isnik's study, but I did go on to explain to the group that many people don't need to see a counselor, ever.

Well, the professional kind, that is.

All of us need someone.

Every one of us need God.

And we all need intimate relationships in which we can share the issues and experiences of our lives. At times, we need those relationships to help us bear our burdens, and at other times we're helping others bear theirs.

But before you think I'm dismissing the importance of professional counseling (something I've been doing for nearly three decades while also serving as a pastor), let me state clearly there are times that some people struggle with mental and emotional issues of a clinical nature and level who need to see a professional counselor for help. There are other times when relationships and life issues are so complex and convoluted that family, friends, and pastors are getting nowhere with their counsel and a professional is needed.

At the Scott Free Clinic, we take a holistic approach to serving people, bringing theology, psychology, and biology to bear in helping people change their lives. That could be stated differently, in that our theology informs our psychology, and biology is also taken into account.

Let me explain further.

On several occasions I've seen pastors draw circles trying to explain that we are emotional beings (circle), physical beings (circle), social beings (circle), spiritual beings (circle), and so on. I think that illustration is incorrect. I draw a large circle and explain that we are spiritual beings, and then I draw smaller circles inside the large circle as I note that as spiritual beings we also happen to have a body, and are also emotional, mental, social, and so on. We are first beings created by God, and we cannot begin to understand ourselves or others separate and apart from our created relationship with God. Without a sound theology informing any counsel offered to others, we miss the very core of who they are.

Then there is psychology, which isn't anything to be afraid of when viewed properly. Here's how I view it. I believe science is a gift from God. Whether it's medicine, biology, botany, zoology, or any other branch of science, it's a gift from God in helping us to understand the world and creatures He has designed. But science is only beneficial to us when it remains yielded to the One who gave it to us! Sound science doesn't contradict, conflict, or compete with scripture, it actually upholds and compliments it. Psychology is simply the study of human behavior, and the better we can understand how God has designed us to function, the better we can help each other live up to the design He has for us.

Finally, sometimes we have to address biology in the need to be able to change our lives. There have been many times when I've been able to help someone understand the root issues of their problems and how they could change their lives, but they were so physically de-conditioned that they didn't have the energy to get off the couch and do something toward the change they desperately needed. That's why I studied and pursued becoming a certified Personal Trainer and certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, so that I could consult with clients to help them make some of the physical changes they needed as part of a bigger picture in changing their lives.

Sometimes God brings amazing change to our lives simply by trusting Him, seeking Him in prayer, and obeying Him. Those are always necessary steps to being the whole person God wants us to be. But sometimes, even though we are trusting God and pouring our hearts out to Him, change doesn't come miraculously, instantly, or easily. Sometimes it's a complex process that we need help with.

If you don't need to see a counselor, don't see one! Walk with God, and invest deeply in your family and friendships who will share life with you. But never hesitate to get help when you need it. And that doesn't mean when all else fails or something is so critical it's out of control. If you're facing something in life that you're not overcoming and prayer isn't changing, then don't hesitate to connect with a competent, skilled Christian counselor.

One other thing: I want to encourage you that no matter how drastic your situation may appear, there is hope for help, change, and wholeness for you. I've seen lives that have been ruined in the most heinous of ways become whole, healthy, and joyful. Nothing is impossible with God!

Scotty

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

Monday, January 5, 2015

How much of what you're doing matters?

It doesn't take a New Year to be a good time to seriously weigh how much of what you're doing with your life actually matters.

I took a few hours of my life yesterday to listen to the football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions. I have several friends who are Cowboys fans and who are hoping this is the year their beloved Cowboys finally ... finally! ... make it back to the Super Bowl.

Talking about the Cowboys in the big game, Super Bowl XXVII between the Cowboys and the Bills was interesting on many levels. It turned out to be the Cowboy’s third Super Bowl victory. It also turned out to be the Bills third consecutive Super Bowl loss. But perhaps the most interesting statistic is the time of play. Although from kick-off till the final gun took three hours and 23 minutes, actual play time (from snap to whistle each play) took only 15.7 minutes.
 
When all is said and done in your life, one of the most important statistics will be the amount of time you spent here on earth that actually mattered. When the final whistle is blown, the actual play time will be the sum total of those moments when your heart was moved to action by the love of God. Everything else will be as forgettable as commercials and time outs. Everything else is fluff and filler.

I'm not saying we don't need a little "fluff" in our lives. Every waking moment isn't going to be profound. There's still dishes that need washing, laundry that needs to be done, and a yard that needs to be mowed. But our priorities --- which are represented in what we do with our time --- are choices, and they can be directed to make more out of our lives than a pile of fluff.

How are you going to spend your life this year? When you're contemplating goals for 2016 and look back on this year, will there be a pile of fluff or a life lived through and for Christ that made a difference in the lives of others in a way that glorified God?

Scotty

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The power of His voice in our lives ...

The transformation of a Christian into the likeness of Christ isn't something that is instantaneous, but rather something that the Lord accomplishes over our lifetime.

A key way He does that is by using His "voice." To better understand that, writer Anne Paden shares a lesson of submission and obedience from Jack London's classic story, "White Fang," about a half dog, half wolf learning to live among men ...

"White Fang was very fond of chickens and on one occasion raided a chicken-roost and killed fifty hens. His master, Weeden Scott, whom White Fang saw as a man-god and 'loved with a single heart,' scolded him and then took him into the chicken yard. When White Fang saw his favorite food walking around right in front of him, he obeyed his natural impulse and lunged for a chicken. He was immediately checked by his master's voice. They stayed in the chicken yard for quite a while and every time White Fang made a move toward a chicken his master’s voice would stop him. In this way he learned what his master wanted --- he had learned to ignore the chickens.

"Weeden decided to test the training by locking him in the chicken coop for the day. Locked in the yard and there deserted by the master, White Fang lay down and went to sleep. Once he got up and walked over to the trough for a drink of water. The chickens he calmly ignored. So far as he was concerned they did not exist. At four o'clock he executed a running jump, gained the roof of the chicken house and leaped to the ground outside, whence he sauntered gravely to the house. He had learned the law."

In a similar manner, the voice of Christ transforms us. As our Great Shepherd, He guides His flock with words of direction, comfort, encouragement, and correction. Listening to His voice shapes us to His will and His likeness ...

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me," John 10:27.

Are you listening to, and submitting to, the voice of Jesus Christ?

Scotty

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ready for a personal tune-up? The Scott Free Clinic is hosting a call-in day ...

Could you benefit from a personal tune-up at the start of a New Year?

Then let's provide that for you!

The Scott Free Clinic will be hosting a special "call-in" day on Saturday, January 17, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Pacific time. Because we are still in a developmental stage and have not fully launched our services, we have provided very limited services until we have the resources to offer our full range of ministry services. But we would like to help you get off to a great start in the New Year, so our Founder and President, Dr. James Scott, Jr., will be taking calls during this call-in event.

During this time, for those needing clinical help, Dr. Scott can assist you with assessments, action plans, and resources to help you move forward. For those who are looking for coaching or consulting, you're also invited to join in this call-in event. Or, if you would just like to learn more about the Scott Free Clinic or make a connection with Dr. Scott, feel free to call in as well.

To participate, you may call 541-861-0779 on Saturday, January 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific time. The line may be busy when you call; if so, leave your name, telephone number (include area code), and a message, and Dr. Scott will return your call as soon as possible.

To learn more about the Scott Free Clinic, please visit our website at ScottFreeClinic.org.

We're looking forward to hearing from you and helping you however we can!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Maybe this will help motivate you to get into your Bible ...

There are a few New Year resolutions that are widely popular, such as pursuing losing weight and getting fit.

Another one is reading your Bible.

Very few Christians read their Bibles other than "at church" on Sunday, but when the New Year rolls around they dust it off with the intention of at least doing a "daily devotional." That usually lasts no longer than the pursuit to lose weight and get fit.

If the promise of a New Year isn't enough to motivate you to take getting into --- and staying in --- the Bible on a daily basis, maybe there's another source of motivation that will help you.

When Queen Victoria of England was a child, she didn't know she was in line for the throne of England. Her instructors, trying to prepare her for the future, were frustrated because they couldn't motivate her. She just didn't take her studies seriously.

Finally, her teachers decided to tell her that one day she would become the Queen of England. Upon hearing this, Victoria quietly said, "Then I will be good."

The realization that she had inherited this high calling gave her a sense of responsibility that profoundly affected her conduct from them on.

The Apostle Paul pleads with us to live up to our calling as well ...

"Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God," Ephesians 4:1.

Paul helps us understand that, as Christians, we have already received a royal appointment to be the personal representatives of King Jesus here on earth, and that we have a very real responsibility to represent 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.

When you understand the significance of the position that God has assigned to you, and the great responsibility of it, maybe that's enough to motivate you to be in the Bible on a daily basis. To understand how to carry out "this task of reconciling people to him" and to know and understand "this wonderful message of reconciliation" (the Gospel) we are to share as ambassadors requires our daily study of the Word so that God may make His appeal through us.

What further motivation do you need to be in the Bible on a daily basis?

Scotty

Thursday, January 1, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: A terrific resource on Asperger Syndrome ...

If you have a child who is being tested for, or has been diagnosed with, Asperger Syndrome, I have a great resource to recommend to you.

If you know someone with Asperger Syndrome, I have a book you should read.

Or if you just want to learn about Asperger Syndrome to better understand what the person and family experience, here's an authoritative resource for you.

The book that is an outstanding resource regarding Asperger Syndrome is the fully revised, updated, and expanded third edition of "Apserger Syndrome: The Oasis Guide," by Patricia Romanowski Bashe (published by Harmony Books).

This book walks you from the time when you know the struggles your child is experiencing are more than the "average" developmental struggles most children face, to seeking a diagnosis, to what to do once you have a diagnosis, understanding what options and interventions are available, working with professionals, and planning for the future. The sub-title of the book accurately describe the contents as "Advice, Inspiration, Insight, and Hope from Early Intervention to Adulthood."

I'm impressed that the book provides insights based on the latest research, strategies, and experience from parents in a very empathetic but effective way that arms parents with practical support as well as plenty of hope.

This is the kind of help parents of children with Asperger Syndrome desperately need and can greatly benefit from. In 2015, this is an almost "must have" resource on your personal bookshelf.

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.”

Find this person NOW and your New Year will be much better ...

The first day of 2015 started off with a stereotypical bang! Sure enough, one of the local gyms was filling up very quickly with dozens of people who had made the resolution to "lose weight and get in shape" pouring into the gym first thing this morning.

Good for them!

I'm NOT one to scoff at people who make resolutions, even though most people fail very early in the New Year at keeping any of their pledges. But at least for the moment they're out there trying, and for some of those people, they'll exercise just enough perseverance to push through and hit at least a part of their goals.

One thing is for sure, you miss one hundred percent of what you don't strike at, so get out there and try!

That reminds of the time I went ice skating.

Now you have to know that I'm terrible at anything that requires strapping something to my feet and performing with it.

Roller skating? Fail!

Snow skiing? Fail!

If it's more than putting on shoes or boots and walking, it presents a problem for me. So the idea of strapping on a shoe with a very thin blade on the bottom of it, and then attempting to walk on ice with it, seemed thoroughly ludicrous! But I had a group of teens who wanted to go ice skating, so we went, I tried, and actually surprised myself by staying on my feet for most of the short duration I gave it a shot.

But I gave it shot.

I tried!

The only reason I got out there and made an effort to ice skate was because of the encouragement of the teens who wanted me to be out there with them. And there's the secret to making your New Year better than it would otherwise be --- find someone who will push you to heights, achievements, and levels of growth you would otherwise reach on your own.

The editors of "Homiletics" recounted Muhammad Ali’s answer to the question of the greatest lesson he’d ever learned. He told the story of a heavyweight title bout against Sonny Liston in 1964.

“Liston was the strongest man I’d ever fought. Every time I hit him, it hurt me worse than it did him. I gave him everything I had. When the sixth round ended, I was completely spent. I couldn’t even raise my arms. I couldn’t even stand up to go back onto the ring. ‘I’m goin’ home!’ I told [trainer] Angelo Dundee. ‘I’m not going back in there!'

"Hearing this, Dundee demanded that Ali get ready to go in. Ali refused. The bell rang, and still Ali didn’t leave his seat. Dundee pushed him and shouted, ‘Get in there and don’t come out until you’re the heavyweight champion of the world!’

"Ali struggled to his feet. Liston didn’t.
"At the end of that fight, Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, was the new heavyweight champion of the world.
"‘The greatest lesson I’ve learned,’ Ali said, ‘is to have someone pushin’ you and makin’ you do things you don’t think you can do.’"
One thing we're all bound to face in 2015 are opportunities, challenges, trials, and troubles that will take more than we can handle on our own. But we'll get much farther, whether it's in creating opportunities, embracing opportunities offered, or facing tests and difficulties if we have someone in our corner urging us to push on to be the champions we can be.
Do you have your own version of an Angelo Dundee in your corner? If not, go find that person and enlist their friendship and fellowship while the year is brand new.
And don't forget to be an encourager to others as well ...
"So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing," 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Scotty