Saturday, February 28, 2015

How "the dress" blew the lid off "perspective" ...

I've found it both interesting and disturbing how several pastors over the last few years have vaunted the concept of "perspective." But the value of "perspective" was blown away yesterday by a simple dress.

If you were online for any period of time yesterday, or tuned into the news, you probably heard the buzz about the dress shown above. I see the dress as being white and gold, but I'm told the dress is actually blue and black, and many people see it as being blue and black.

Yes, I think they're nuts because my eyes tell me that dress is white and gold (it is!).

But I'm informed by reports from people in the know the dress is really blue and black. In that case, my perspective that the dress is white and gold is completely wrong and of no benefit to me.

Do you catch the lesson we have with this dress?

The issue isn't our perspective, but what is actually true. We may see something as being one way, when in reality it is quite another. We need people and resources to step into our lives and tell us we're seeing the wrong thing when we are.

That's what Jesus did ...

"Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to Father except through me'," John 14:6.

Jesus, who is God, is the Truth, and when sin separated us from God, it wrecked out capacity to see and understand truth. We need Jesus Christ to be able to see what is true. Satan, our enemy, feeds us with lies and perspectives that are anything but the truth.

"For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies," John 8:44.

Just like that dress, what is true isn't necessarily what our eyes tell us. Our eyes may provide a false perspective instead of the truth. But focusing our eyes on the Word of God, and upon Jesus, the living Word, will reveal what is the truth.

Do you look to Jesus for the truth?

Scotty

Friday, February 27, 2015

Do you know who you're talking to?

We complain a lot about doctrine and theology, but when you look at how so many professing Christians live their lives, I think we're woefully lacking in and ignorant about both of them!

For example, do we really understand what it means that God is omnipotent and sovereign? Or does the way we interact with God often look like we think we know better than God does about how our life and this world should function?

In the Globe and Mail, Allison Lawlor relates the following story ...

"In 1969, in a science lab in New Jersey, Canadian physicist Willard Boyle and his colleagues invented the concept of an electronic eye. Using their knowledge of mathematics and the behavior of light they provided the science behind digital cameras known as a charged-coupled device or CCD. The CCD technology revolutionized photography, as light could now be captured electronically instead of on film. CCD technology is used on the Hubble telescope and the Mars Lunar probe. It was Boyle's invention that allowed us to see the surface of Mars for the first time. In 2009 Boyle was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.

"A few years after the original invention of CCD technology, Boyle walked into a store to purchase a new digital camera based on his invention. During the visit, the salesman tried to explain the intricacies of the digital camera, but stopped, feeling it was too complicated for his customer to understand. According to one long-time friend, Boyle was normally a humble man, but on this occasion he was taken aback by the salesman's arrogance and disrespect. So Boyle bluntly replied: 'No need to explain. I invented it.' When the salesman didn't believe him, Boyle told the salesman to type 'Willard S. Boyle' into his computer and see for himself. A Nikon representative in the store heard the exchange and immediately came over to have his photograph taken with the famous inventor.

"At times we almost act like that impatient salesman in our relationship with God. We tell God how life works or how we think it should work. But God simply and confidently responds, 'No need to explain. I invented life'."

Humility is an important element in our relationship with God ...

"No, O people,  the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God," Micah 6:8.

"So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor," 1 Peter 5:6.

"And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'," James 4:6.

There is nothing we know more about than does God. Put another way, God knows more about anything and everything than any of us! He's the Maker of life, and the Creator of all. He's omnipotent and sovereign. He really does know what's what, and what's best!

Do you approach God with that kind of humility? Or do you interact with God like that impatient salesman? When you come before God, do you really know who you're talking to?

Scotty

Thursday, February 26, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: An insightful read for real football fans ...

There are multiple sports internationally that are more popular than American football, but few can compete with the financial success of the National Football League (NFL) and the popularity of the game in the U.S.

At the center of football's draw is the quarterback, and making it as a quarterback in the NFL is a boy's dream only few will ever realize. Bruce Feldman has written a book, "The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks" (published by Crown Archetype) that takes you behind the scenes in the NFL and reveals what it really takes to become a professional quarterback.

Feldman writes, "Everything in football, of course, operates through the quarterback, now more than ever in a game that went warp speed in the twentieth century, long after it lapped baseball in popularity and meaning in American society. Therefore, there is no position in all of sports that is quite like the quarterback. Not even close. Quarterback is not only sports' most complex position but the most important to a team's success, too. It's also the hardest to evaluate."

Over the past decade, a major change that has impacted football is the rise of a nearly $6 billon quarterback coaching industry. And not just for professional QBs. Now, parents of boys as young as eight years old are seeking out quarterback gurus to coach their sons. Steve Clarkson was a pioneer in the QB coaching industry, and is quoted by Feldman as saying ...

"... They started to see these younger kids, and then the question became, 'How young is too young?' Well, the market has really changed, and I saw this six or seven years ago. When I first started, I usually didn't get kids till they were sophomores and juniors in high school. But now, with all of these camps and combines and things like that, for the most part, if a kid is not good enough by his junior year, it's already too late for him. And if he is good enough by his junior year, they already spend so much time traveling on that circuit, they really don't have time to train as much. So your work is really done by that point."

But that's just in the initial budding development of a potential QB. Feldman introduces readers to QB experts such as Trent Dilfer and his role in the Elite 11, George Whitfield who is known as the "QB whisperer," quarterback coaching pioneer Steve Clarkson, the "mad scientist" Tom House, and others who not only work with the best of high school athletes, but delves into their work developing college level and professional QBs as well. In fact, the book offers (as touted by the publisher) "unprecedented insight into Heisman trophy winning phenom Johnny Manziel" and an "all-access look at the making of the next superstars in football's most important position ..."

Feldman shares the behind-the-scenes making of QBs by detailing a recent year in football. If you're a real fan of the game and have an interest in knowing what makes a quarterback successful or not, you'll find yourself absorbed by the stories and personalities detailed in this book. It's a fun and insightful read for football fans interested in knowing more about the inner workings of the dominant position of their favorite sport.

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.” 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The church is sick and dying. Here's what you can do about it ...

When I used to train people in the gym as a Personal Trainer, it wasn't uncommon for a 50-something to come into the gym and, with a sincerely grave concern, share their health woes and the necessity to get fit before serious illness overcomes them.

Part of their story was that up until that time, they did whatever they wanted to do. They ate what the wanted to eat, as much as they wanted to eat, whenever they wanted to eat, and indulged in comfort without exercise. Their history up until then (perhaps excluding some sports in high school) was one of not being good stewards of their bodies. Now, they had to radically change that or face serious consequences to their health.

What that meant for these people was a much tougher fight to get fit. They had more to accomplish than they would have if they would have taken a little better care of themselves.

The Western Church today is in a very similar predicament.

We have played at church and failed to be faithful children of God. The Gospel has been absent from many of our pulpits for decades, and many preachers still mislead their congregations by urging them to embrace the lost culture rather than engage it for Christ. Most churches don't do anything to equip true followers of Christ in how to share the Gospel with non-Christians, and still aren't interested in doing that. And studies tell us most people professing to be Christians will never share their faith with anyone ... ever!

We have become ashamed of the Gospel and we have failed to carry out Christ's commission to His church to make disciples.

Not "grow" the church, or even plant churches, but MAKE DISCIPLES.

And we have failed --- almost utterly so --- to be the ambassadors for Christ that God expects each one of us to be.

Now we are seeing the results of our failure. Now we're in a situation where the Church must take radical action or our spiritual health will be ruined. Many churches in America are already in the throes of death, and more will be if we don't change things.

How can we affect change?

First, don't look to someone else to make this change happen. It's not someone else's responsibility, it begins with YOU and me. YOU must take responsibility to be completely surrendered and fully obedient to Jesus Christ. We've gone too long watching the church suffer and fade, all the while hoping someone else will fix it. Now YOU need to take up your own cross on a daily basis and follow Jesus.

Part of this first step is learning to once again CARE! Tragically, the love of Christ has been a key missing element within His Church, and that must change. We have to learn to care about others more than ourselves, and live out Christ's foremost commands of loving God completely and above any and all else, and then loving our neighbors as ourselves. We have to start actually doing this rather than just talk about and intellectually agree to it.

Second, you need to get equipped to be able to share the Gospel effectively with non-Christians, and leaders need to meet their responsibility to provide this training (Eph. 4:11-12).

Third, every Christian needs to be the ambassador God has called them to be (2 Cor. 5:18-20). God has given to US the ministry of reconciling people to Him, along with a message of reconciliation (the Gospel), and His plan is to make His appeal through us. Failure to offer yourself as an equipped ambassador of Jesus Christ shuts off a key source for God making His appeal to the lost. That must change for the church to revive. The lost, broken world will not be saved by inviting it to church. Instead of having the majority of our efforts be focused on trying to get spiritually dead people to come to church --- the one place they aren't interested in being --- we must GO INTO THE WORLD and make disciples (being obedient to Christ's command to His Church!). Doing that will eventually fill our churches and create demand for many more new churches.

The church isn't just fat and out-of-shape.

The church isn't just sick.

Many churches are DYING.

Many more will unless we take these steps to become the children of God and ambassadors for Christ that we should have been all along.

Let me offer you some help in a key area. Here is a link for a great opportunity to become equipped to be a highly effective disciple-maker. It's a means of providing you with the training you need as Christ's ambassador.

All of us who call ourselves Christians need to be taking these steps to do our part in making the Church the living, thriving body of Christ that our King desires it to be. Are you willing to do YOUR part?

Scotty

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Jesus knows His name!

We're told in the video of the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS in Libya that you could hear the name of Jesus on the lips of those about to meet their Maker.

A list of the names of those 21 Christian martyrs has been released, with the various reprinting of that list looking like this:

1. Milad Makeen Zaky
2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
11. Mina Fayez Aziz
12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
14. Samuel Alham Wilson
15. Worker from Awr village
16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
17. Loqa Nagaty
18. Gaber Munir Adly
19. Esam Badir Samir
20. Malak Farag Abram
21. Sameh Salah Faruq


What struck me immediately from this list is number 15. It appears none of the lists identify the name of this person who gave his life in order to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.

We don't know his name.

But Jesus knows his name!

This unknown believer is with his Savior today, and Jesus calls him by his name!

"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out," John 10:3.

Scotty

Sunday, February 22, 2015

There's no promise of tomorrow, but there is NOW ...

This verse jumped out at me this morning: "If you can help your neighbor now, don't say, 'Come back tomorrow, and then I'll help you'," Proverbs 3:28.

Have you ever noticed that the Bible is a book that implores us to act now, to be productive now, to engage now, to serve now --- it's about living now, living actively! There's nothing lackadaisical about God's message to us.

The longer I live, the more I understand this. The older I get, the easier it is to see just how short life really is. As my life becomes more about having more years behind me than ahead of me, I see all that I still would like to do, and think God would have me do, and I feel the rub against time. So much to do, to experience, to learn, to share, to accomplish, and so little time. I wonder if James wasn't thinking much the same thing when he wrote the following ...

"Look here, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.' How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog --- it's here a little while, then it's gone," James 4:13-14.

Morning fog doesn't last long, it burns away quickly. So do our lives! So if you can help a neighbor today, don't put it off to tomorrow! Help now! Serve now! Love now! Be a friend now! Share now! Spend now! Support now! Give now! Make time for, now! Visit now! Act on making that dream come true now! Use the good china now! Open that bottle of wine for special occasions now! Invest now! Make the time now!

Because now is what you have, without any promise of tomorrow. If you don't make a difference now, if you don't love now, if you're not productive now, and if you don't make time to also enjoy life now, don't be surprised if you don't have the same opportunities tomorrow that you have today.

You have today. Live it, use it, enjoy it, bring glory to God in it!

Scotty

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Christian's greatest longing ...

I sipped my coffee in Starbucks as I listened to the woman rattle off what seemed to be an endless list of what she would do if her mega lottery ticket turned out to be a winner.

This woman was sure she was going to win, and she was full of things she longed for that would easily put a dent into something even as grand as a mega lottery fortune.

That's a lot of longings!

We all have something we long for. Yes, even us Christians. But what is it that true believers desire the most? Ken McIntosh gives us an insight into the longing of the heart of a disciple of Jesus Christ with this story ...

"I was sitting together with a young man who was receiving his first communion, when the communion trays were passed to us. He took the wafer and then drank from the small cup. After a few seconds of silence, he leaned over to me and whispered, 'It kind of makes you hungry!' Without realizing it, that young man had offered a wonderful communion meditation. Ironically, participating in the Lord's Supper does kind of make you hungry --- hungry for more and more of God. It's a hunger that keeps bringing us back again and again and again to the Lord's Table."

The greatest desire in the heart of a child of God is for God Himself! A beautiful picture of such longing for the Lord is painted for us in Psalm 130:6, "I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn."

The one thing a sentry wants to see is the dawning of a new day. It's in the dark of night that danger lurks, possibly even to the threat of life, provoking hours of fear and guardedness. Everything will be alright with the rising of the sun!

More than that sentry wishing for the sunrise as he peers into the dark, the Christian longs for Jesus. Is He the greatest longing of your heart?

Scotty

Friday, February 20, 2015

A few mini updates ...


There is a lot that has been going on with the Scott Free Clinic, especially with my consulting work with John Hendee, Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University (HIU). Here are a few mini updates ...

YES, we will still be releasing two books of discipling materials combined into one book and offering it as a FREE download. The cover is currently in the works, and in a little more than a week I will be shooting an instructional video for "Discipling Christians Using the Spiritual T.E.A.M."

We will also be releasing in the very near future a new book, "Effective Disciple-Making for the 21st Century Using the IAAR Model," which is companion material for the online "Relational Evangelism" course offered by HIU (sign up TODAY for the March 16 course!). This will be available both in print and on Amazon for Kindle.

We're working on an additional book, currently titled "Selling Church or Making Disciples?"Your prayers for wisdom and support as we work on completing this manuscript would be appreciated.

A major goal we have this year is to double the size of our team of Prayer Partners. We provide our Prayer Partners with a prayer needs update via email at least once each month, and these wonderful partners pray diligently for this ministry every day. If you would like to become a Prayer Partner for the Scott Free Clinic, please check out this information Prayer Partners | Scott Free Clinic.

Finally, the most important issue for us this year --- and right now! --- is recruiting Care Partners from among all of you so that we can raise the funds needed to fully launch and operate this ministry. God blessed us to be able to serve and help so many people, pastors, and churches while still in our developmental stage, but we cannot continue to operate this way indefinitely. Can you give $5, $10, $25, or $100 to support this ministry? Whether your donations are a one-time gift, or given monthly, quarterly, biannually, or annually --- or just when you have it! --- we need to develop an army of Care Partners who will make this ministry financially possible. Every donation made to the Scott Free Clinic is tax deductible. In addition to considering becoming a Care Partner yourself, could you share this need with others for their consideration of support as well? Your financial support for this ministry at this time is critical! For information about how to donate to this ministry, check out this link Donations | Scott Free Clinic.

Lots of exciting things are happening! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Big claims from traditionally ineffective methods ...

David and Paul Watson begin their book, "Contagious Disciple-Making" (published by Thomas Nelson) with some pretty big --- correct that --- massive claims of success in their method for making disciples. The rest of their book lays out a methodology that traditionally has been very ineffective. For me, there would have to be some real proof to believe the size of claims made based on the methodology promoted.

Just how big are those claims? From page xiii in the introduction of the book, the authors write the following:

"... a formal survey of the work among the Bhojpuri showed that our team actually underreported the number of churches planted in the area! By 2008, another survey of the work revealed 80,000 churches planted and 2 million people baptized. Things were exploding!"

Yeah, those are big claims! Much more information is needed, such as what are the authors counting as churches, was each person among those 2 million people surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ, and so on. If the claims are accurate, then praise God! But on the face of it, they are questionable, not just because of the size of the claims, but how they say they were accomplished.

The authors actually start the book from some philosophical points I could agree with, but the more they moved into describing their methodology, the more I had problems with how they claim effective disciple-making should be conducted. The methods they use and promote include the following:
  • Focusing almost exclusively on working only within silos.
  • Using inductive Bible study with a facilitator only (not a teacher who specifically presents the Gospel) as the primary means of leading the lost to Jesus Christ (inductive Bible studies are routinely ineffective among Christians, much less non-believers!).
  • Relying on a "Person of Peace" as their entry into a community. While I understand their point, this "Person of Peace" is an extra-biblical term attached to someone they raise to an essential level.
  • The authors seem to have no concern about what is considered a church, writing on more than one occasion that the people who become believers can figure that out for themselves and design what works for them. That's a great formula for having groups that are nothing like what the New Testament tells us a church should be! They're also as lackadaisical about leadership roles in the church as well, even though the New Testament is very specific in this area.
  • And finally, the authors commit a very common error seen today, by confusing "discipleship" and "mentoring" and thinking they're interchangeable when they are two very distinct things.
I found the authors to contradict themselves on more than one occasion by, on the one hand stating that disciple-making must be done biblically, and then writing that new believers can create what works for them. They also write that the disciple-maker shouldn't teach directly, yet state the disciple-maker works very hard for at least a couple of years training leaders. I found several occasions where readers would need more information from the authors to fully understand what they were suggesting.

I don't know these writers, and perhaps they have achieved phenomenal things using methods that routinely fail elsewhere, but without more substantiation than simple claims made in a statement in this book, there's no way I could recommend this book to anyone. There are proven methods for being effective disciple-makers that are well substantiated that would be worth your time as a reader to pursue.

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.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Who can count on you?

Are you a "go to" spouse?

A "go to" dad?"

A "go to" friend?"

A "go to" employee?

A "go to" disciple of Christ?

In other words, are you dependable?

Can your spouse, your children, your friends, your boss and co-workers, and even God --- can they count on you to come through as a husband, a father, friend, a worker, a disciple?

What does "dependability" look like?

We can get a snapshot from the sport of baseball. Check out this story ...

Don Sutton pitching.
"For an extraordinary pitcher he performed few extraordinary feats. Though a veteran of 21 seasons, in only one did he win more than 20 games. He never pitched a no-hitter and only once did he lead the league in any category (2.21 ERA, 1980). Yet, on June 21, 1986, Don Sutton rubbed pitching elbows with the true legends of baseball by becoming the 13th pitcher to win 300 games. His analysis of his success is worth noting. 'A grinder and a mechanic,' is what he calls himself. 'I never considered myself flamboyant or  exceptional. But all my life I've found a way to get the job done.' And get it done he did. Through two decades, six presidential terms, and four trades, he consistently did what pitchers are supposed to do: win games. With tunnel vision devotion, he spent 21 seasons redefining greatness. He has been called the 'family sedan' of baseball's men on the mound."

Being dependable doesn't mean being flamboyant or exceptional; instead, it might (often!) mean grinding out reliability and finding a way to "get the job done" so others can count on you for the role you have in their lives.

Being dependable matters! In fact, dependability is the key character trait Jesus highlights in his parable of the three servants recorded in Matthew 25:14-30. A lack of dependability deteriorates the quality and trust of any kind of relationship.

Who is counting on you? Are you dependable for them? What would it take for you to become a person in which others can rely on?

Scotty

Monday, February 16, 2015

If there were ballplayer cards for Christians ...

In speaking to the issue that there is no excuse for our disobedience to God, Ron Henson applied the example of player cards for baseball players ...

"There's an old baseball saying, 'You are the ballplayer it says you are on the back of your baseball card.' Ballplayers, like everyone else, like to use excuses or scapegoats to mitigate the blame for their bad play. You can exaggerate the truth, you can deny or twist it around. But your baseball card tells on you. It gives your batting average, your hits, runs, and errors without elaboration or fabrication. You are the ballplayer that those statistics show you to be. There is no denying it, or shaping it into another story. The facts speak for themselves."

Imagine if there were "ballplayer cards" keeping score of our Christian walk! Would you like the facts captured on the back of it?

On more than one occasion, I've had friends who are enormously talented executives who boasted broadly about how they would like to use some of their skills they applied daily at their jobs for the sake of God's kingdom. But when given an opportunity to do just that, most of them performed far less for the kingdom of God than they do for their employers. They applied their talents in a half-hearted, sloppy way for the kingdom, arguing they would do better if they had more time, but give themselves to working after hours and weekends to perform at a level of excellence for their employers.

We commit ourselves to at least four years of education, plus ongoing education to keep our skills sharp, for our paying jobs, but complain about taking 10 minutes for a brief devotional reading each morning.

We make sure we live to the full measure of comfort we desire while claiming we "wish we had more to give."

We watch others suffer while offering to pray for them.

We know people who do not know Jesus Christ, but we do not share the Gospel with them.

Henson concluded his ballplayer card example with this ...

"Likewise, no set of excuses or scapegoating can mitigate the blame for our disobedience to the revealed will of God. We can try to exaggerate the truth, we can deny it or twist it around, but God, who keeps track of such statistics, tells on us. He knows our batting average, our hits, our strikeouts, our runs and our errors. We are the sinners that God says we are, regardless of our claims. There is no denying it, or shaping it into another story. The facts, as God declares them to be, speak for themselves."

Far too many Christians are willing to live under the potential they have as children of God. They know their followership of Christ could be much more like Christ, could be more Christ-honoring and God-glorifying, could make a greater impact for the kingdom, and could change the lives of others, but they are unwilling to live at that level of obedience, to expend that much effort, and to pay that great a cost.

But they boast they're better players than what the back of their cards record.

No they aren't.

There is no way to hide the reality of your disobedience. So here's a suggestion: Instead of searching for excuses and seeking out scapegoats, why not commit to a life surrendered in every way to Jesus Christ? Why not decide to live a life fully yielded, and purposely devoted to God?

A life lived like that might make your "card" worth collecting.

Scotty

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Does your sex life need Neil Armstrong?

I think it has been a good thing this past week to see so many Christians take a rather unequivocal stance against the release of the movie, "50 Shades of Gray." This was not a situation where we needed to pull up a chair, pour a cup of coffee, and ponder a more culturally pleasing response; some things are just garbage, and can easily be identified as such.

Unfortunately, it often takes something like the release of this movie, or the fall of a public figure to sexual sin, for us to think through the issue of sexuality. And even when we do, it's more often of a cultural or "big picture" sense and very little about our own sexual relationships with our spouses.

And that's a BIG issue within the church!

You might be surprised if you had some insight as to just how many Christians have unfulfilled, undeveloped sex lives with their spouses. So many Christian couples, including many Christian leaders, have not developed a fully joy-filled, richly blessed sexual relationship with their spouses.

Some even need a "Neil Armstrong" miracle!

On July 20, 1969, as commander of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the moon. His first words after stepping on the moon, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” were televised to Earth and heard by millions. Urban legend has it that just before he re-entered the lander, he made the enigmatic remark: “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.”

Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs. Over the years many people questioned Armstrong as to what the “Good luck Mr. Gorsky” statement meant, but Armstrong always just smiled.

On July 5, 1995, in Tampa Bay, Florida, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26-year-old question to Armstrong. This time he finally responded. Mr. Gorsky had died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could answer the question.

In 1938 when he was a kid in a small Midwest town, he was playing baseball with a friend in the backyard. His friend hit a fly ball, which landed in his neighbor’s yard by the bedroom windows. His neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, young Armstrong heard Mrs.Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky: “Sex! You want sex?! You’ll get sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!”

Christians are right: marriage is an incredibly beautiful relationship!

Christians are right: sex is a beautiful part of marriage! Unfortunately, as deeply as many Christians believe that to be true, many have failed to fully develop a robust sexual relationship with their spouse that is fulfilling to both.

That's a huge mistake!

"The husband should fulfill his wife's sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband's needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won't be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control," 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.

Now that the issue of sexuality has been raised again, I want to encourage you to take a look at the quality of your own sexual relationship with your spouse. Years ago, I added sexual therapy as one of my Board certifications as a Christian clinical therapist because of the volume of married couples I was seeing who failed to give healthy attention to their own sexual relationships with their spouses, and the result is that they were missing the full depth of bonding, communing, communication, and joy they could have in their marriages because of having a haphazard sex life.

If your sexual relationship with your spouse isn't something that fulfills both of you, and contributes great joy to your relationship, then I encourage you to fix that. So few couples actually talk about and fully discuss their sexual relationship with each other, but doing so can be the beginning of removing barriers to a fuller, happier sex life with your mate. There are appropriate resources to help you learn more about how you can develop a more fulfilling sex life, and even some time spent with a skilled Christian counselor who is competent in the topic of sexuality could be greatly beneficial for you.

The world vastly overrates sex, but at the same time, sex has a great impact on our marriages. Why not make sure that impact is the most positive and most enjoyable that it could be?

If your sexual relationship with your spouse isn't everything you or your spouse would like it to be, or that it could be, then now is a good time to make the changes necessary to develop a fuller, healthier, and more enjoyable sexual relationship within your marriage.

Scotty

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Weary of the fight ...

After working with people for nearly 30 years as a minister and a counselor, I'm convinced we human beings are far more fragile than we think.

Far more than is represented in the hyperbolic platitudes about human strength posted across social media every day.

And likely far more than what you think you are.

Even the strongest and bravest among us can easily be bowled over by life, as if hit by a speeding train.

Life is bigger than us, and stronger than us, and at times, we feel our weaknesses deeply.

Sometimes, we're just weary of the fight.

Our Savior understands that, and He has a remedy for our weaknesses ...

"So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most," Hebrews 4:14-16.

Jesus spoke to this great need of a source of strength, refreshing and respite personally ...

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light," Matthew 11:28-30.

Many of us have probably memorized part of the above scripture, but we often think of or reflect on it more theoretically than practically --- practically meaning to actually apply it.

When we are "weary to the bone," as if our very souls are just tired of the fight of life, we tend to despair, withdraw, and do just about anything other than what scripture implores us to do --- go to Jesus. Time with Jesus, praying and delving into His word, communing with Him and refreshing our faith in and reliance upon Him, can lift us back up on our feet and renew us to continue the fight. He wants to teach us how we can persevere just as He had when He walked this earth, and He wants to provide the strength we don't have.

Read Matthew 11:28-30 again. Now consider this story from Mark Guy Pearse, who had preached a sermon on Christ's invitation to the weary ...

"I had finished my sermon when a good man had come to me and said, 'I wish I had known what you were going to preach about. I could have told you something,'

"'Well, my friend,' I said, 'may I have it still?'

"'Do you know why His yoke is light, sir?'

""Well, because the good Lord helps us carry it, I suppose.'

"'No sir,' he said, shaking his head. 'I think I know better than that. You see, when I was a boy at home, I used to drive the oxen, and the yoke was never made to balance as you said. Father's yokes were always made heavier on one side than the other. Then, you see, we would put a weak bullock in alongside a strong bullock; the light end would come on the weak ox, the heavier end on the stronger one. That's why the yoke is easy and the burden is light, because the Lord's yoke is made after the same pattern, and the heavy end is upon his shoulder'."

When we're weary of the fight, Jesus invites us to come to Him, and He says He will:
  • Give us rest.
  • Take His yoke upon us, that way He can be the stronger one pulling with us.
  • From His humble and gentle heart, He wants to teach us, that way we can learn how to overcome and endure during the trials and struggles of life.
  • Doing things His way, with His yoke, is easy and light compared to what the world will pour upon us should we try to stand on our own, or even with just the support of other human beings. Even that isn't enough!
Are you feeling like you're weary of the fight? I encourage you to turn to Jesus today.

Scotty

Friday, February 13, 2015

A complaining attitude can destroy your relationship with God ...

Out West, a cowboy was driving down a dirt road, his dog riding in the back of the pickup truck, his faithful horse in the trailer behind. Then the cowboy failed to safely negotiate a sharp turn, resulting  in a terrible accident.

Some time later, a Sheriff's deputy discovered the scene. The deputy was an animal lover, and saw the horse first. Assessing the serious nature of its injuries, he drew his service revolver and put the animal out of its misery. He then walked around the accident and found the dog, who was also hurt critically. The deputy couldn't bear to hear the dog whine in pain, so he ended the dog's suffering as well.

Finally he located the cowboy --- who suffered multiple fractures --- off in the weeds.

"Hey, are you okay?" asked the deputy.

The cowboy took one look at the smoking pistol in the deputy's hand and quickly replied, "Never felt better!"

We've all been in situations where we were tempted to complain --- perhaps even had reason to complain --- but it seemed like doing so would cost us more than just being quiet.

And then ...

... then there are those who are habitual complainers. For example, you probably have some Christian Facebook friends like I do who seem to hunt for the most negative posts they can find to share. The posts may be factually correct, but they're always pointing the finger at someone.

Complainers will always find a place to complain, whether it's with a Facebook post, the comments section of a blog, a church business meeting, at the dinner table with family, sitting in traffic, or just people-watching in a coffee shop.

Not only is their complaining like a wet blanket on the perceptions of others around them, and discouraging to many, a habit of complaining can destroy a person's relationship with God by robbing them of their faith, keeping them from a sincere attitude of gratitude, and sets them up for judgment.

Yes, judgment!

"Don't grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look --- the judge is standing at the door!" James 5:9.

Our complaining is usually about people, and when we're just complaining about others, we put ourselves in a position of judgment. If you judge others you will be judged!

When we complain about others, we're speaking judgments about God's creation, each person being precious to Him. It then becomes difficult to separate complaining about others and complaining about God. The more we do the one, the more it includes both. And that can be disastrous! Do you remember how complaining ruined the Israelite's relationship with God as they grumbled their way through the wilderness? That story, according to the Apostle Paul, has significant meaning and application for us ...

"And don't grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age," 1 Corinthians 10:10-11.

Along with that warning, Paul tells us instead of complaining, what comes out of our mouths should have a positive value to our hearers ...

"Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them," Ephesians 4:29.

Being a person who habitually complains isn't a joke. It's actually a serious problem for the person because it's often a sin. If you're a complainer, you need to confess that and repent of it. God wants to change your thinking, and He will enable and empower you to be free from a critical attitude. To help you further, read my blog post from yesterday http://go.shr.lc/1MgZVzZ to learn how simple metacognitive awareness training using a cheap purple bracelet can help you transform your complaining habits.

It is impossible to live each day with a sincere attitude of gratitude and be a habitual complainer. It's time to choose which one you'll be.

Scotty

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How much do you complain? Here's a way to break that nasty habit ...

Your life is not the sum total of your troubles, or defined by the biggest challenge you're currently facing. But you might be surprised how many people live their lives letting their struggles be the full measure of their lives.

Regardless of their pretense, they are not really happy people, and they usually are not a joy to be around for very long.

These people are not overcomers. They could be, they choose not to be. They're even skilled at complaining about what it would take to be an overcomer! Complaining is what they're good at, and they do a lot of it in spite of what the Bible says ...

"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.

If you're a complainer, I want to introduce you to someone who has a simple but effective challenge to help you stop your complaining.

Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister, has designed an innovative tool in the fight against negativity, murmuring, and complaining. It comes in the form of a simple purple bracelet, which he first offered to his congregation with a challenge to go 21 days without complaining. Each time one of them complained, they had to switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start again from day one.

"It was simple but effective metacognitive awareness training," reports Tim Ferriss of the Huffington Post. "The effects were immediate and life-changing."

Bowen suggests in his book, "A Complaint Free World," that complaining is a habit that can be broken. And once broken, one can be liberated to enjoy a life of greater gratitude, contentment, and happiness.

According to Bowen's website his idea has had phenomenal success. His organization has distributed more than 10 million purple Complaint Free bracelets to people in over 100 different countries.

So how about you? Are you tried of living the miserable life of a complainer? Are you ready to finally be an overcome and enjoy a richer life that comes from freeing yourself of a griping, complaining attitude? If so, I encourage you to access Bowen's website, order your purple bracelet, and face the challenge of making the change that will make for a better, happier you.

And if you decide you don't want to take the challenge, no one wants to hear your complaints about the suggestion!

Scotty

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You can't find this anywhere else ...

Real, soul-satisfying peace only comes through a right relationship with Jesus Christ.

You can't find it anywhere else.

"I am 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.

C.S. Lewis wrote about such a peace from Christ this way:

"A car is made to run on petrol [gas], and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other."

Lewis concluded, "That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing."

If you want peace of mind and heart, a peace that runs so deep it surpasses human understanding, you will find it only in a life fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Do you have that peace today? If not, you can!

Scotty

Friday, February 6, 2015

If you're a complainer, God wants to change your thinking ...

Whine, gripe, and complain. The world is full of such negative attitudes!

Attitudes became so bad at one company that management took a drastic step.

"You vill be happy in the office --- and you von't vhine anymore at vork!"

After one lady refused to smile all day at work, a German IT company banned grumpiness in an effort to promote a more congenial atmosphere, according to The Australian.

The new policy requires employees at Nuzwerk, in the German town of Leipzig, to sign a contract requiring them to remain in a good mood all day at the office and leave complaints and gripes about co-workers and work conditions at home.

"She used to moan so much that other employees complained about her complaining. Once it was part of the contract, however, our employees really started to think positively," said office manager Thomas Kuwatsch.

A lot of us are like that moaning employee, we are so persistently negative that it even affects others. Like that employer, God wants to change our thinking.

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think ..." Romans 12:2a.

God did not give His Son to redeem us so that we could continue to think, gripe, and complain like the rest of the world. Instead, His primary objective is that Christians become like Christ. You certainly cannot be like Christ and think (and gripe!) like those who belong to the world.

"But that isn't what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes," Ephesians 4:20-23.

"For, 'Who can know the Lord's thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?' But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ," 1 Corinthians 2:16.

The Apostle Paul goes so far as to tell us what we should think about ...

"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," Philippians 4:8.

"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God," Colossians 3:1-3.

Is griping and complaining a routine part of your day? Do you heed Paul's instructions about how to focus your thoughts? Or does God need to transform your thinking? What could you do to have a more Christlike attitude?

Scotty

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A self-help approach to identifying and slaying your dragons ...

Have you ever had a recurring dream?

When I was a boy, I used to dream that a monster had broken into the house. Fortunately for all of us (my parents and seven --- yes, seven! --- siblings), the monster wasn't very fast, so everyone was able to safely evacuate the house ... except for me. Like the monster, for some reason I seemed to move in slow-motion. I would strain to run but my legs felt like lead. The best I could ever do was make it to a large basket of laundry and hide under the clothes.

That's as far as the dream ever lasted. I was never able to outrun the monster. Fortunately, it was just a dream!

In real life, you can't outrun your problems, either.

John Angst tells a rather funny story about a man who tried to outrun one of his problems. In most of the United States there is a policy of checking on any vehicle stalled on the highway when temperatures drop to single digits or below. About 3 a.m. one very cold morning, Montana State Trooper Allan Nixon responded to call about a car that was off the shoulder of the road outside Great Falls, Montana. He located the car and found it was stuck in deep snow but with the engine still running.

Pulling in behind the car with his emergency lights flashing, the trooper walked to the driver's door to find an older man passed out behind the wheel with a nearly empty vodka bottle on the seat beside him. The driver woke up when the trooper tapped on the window. Seeing the rotating lights in his rear view mirror, and the state trooper standing next to his car, the man panicked. He jerked the gearshift into drive and floored the gas pedal.

The car's speedometer was showing 20, 30, 40, and then 50 miles per hour, but it was still stuck in the snow, wheels spinning. The trooper having a sense of humor, began running in place next to the speeding (but stationary) car. The driver totally freaked out, thinking the trooper was actually keeping up with him. This went on for another 30 seconds before the trooper yelled, "Pull over!" The man nodded, turned his wheel, and stopped the engine. Needless to say, the man from North Dakota was arrested and is probably still shaking his head over the state trooper in Montana who could run 50 miles per hour.

You can't outrun your problems!

So why not face them head-on and do something about them?

Let me offer you a self-help approach to identifying the problems in your life, and figuring out what you can do about them. John Hendee has written a book called, "A Dragon Slayer's Life" (you can read my original review of the book here http://go.shr.lc/1HWUxjj) which does an effective job at helping us understand that we all have "dragons" (like my monster!) in our lives, that it actually was ourselves who made those dragons, that we can't outrun them, and we are the only ones who can slay them!

If you want to approach digging deeper into your life alone, that's a choice you can make. But let me suggest you consider forming your own small "dragon slayer" group. You can commit to meeting together regularly just for the rest of this year. You can read the book individually, then meet to discuss what you're learning, help each other identify the dragons in your lives, and then support one another as you take on the task of slaying your dragons. This will provide you with people who will support, encourage, and challenge you as you face the dragons in your life, and work to rid yourself of them. At the end of the year, you can throw a party in December to celebrate what you've accomplished, or discuss what work you still have ahead of you if you don't finish the year "dragon-free."

Of course, when I refer to anything being of a "self-help" nature, I certainly mean your taking action with the guidance of the Lord and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Your dragon slayer's group can pray together, seek biblical instruction together, and provide Christian fellowship as you work together toward slaying your dragons.

You can purchase "A Dragon Slayer's Life"  from Amazon-Kindle or order a hard copy at this link http://tinyurl.com/ll34e67. If you decide to take on slaying your dragons this year, whether alone or with a group, I'd welcome a chance to hear about your efforts!

Scotty

Effective disciple-making for the 21st century ...


I have had the privilege for a while now to serve as a consultant to John Hendee, Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University (HIU) in Fullerton, CA, regarding the work he is doing to equip Christians and churches in being effective disciple-makers from his base at HIU. I have personally used the model for disciple-making he teaches for about 30 years and know from first-hand experience how effective it is for individual Christians and for churches. John now equips people, churches, and organizations in this model through an online course offered by HIU. Below is the information from the university about the course. The next course begins on March 16, so let's get you and a team from your church enrolled!

Jesus Christ was concise and clear in commissioning His church: “… Go and make disciples of all the nations.” At Hope International University (HIU), we believe that an essential part of being a highly effective disciple-maker is being well prepared to share one’s faith. One way to do this is our online “Relational Evangelism” course offered through our School of Advanced Leadership Training (SALT).

More than 35 years ago, John Hendee developed a comprehensive model for equipping Christians in how to make new disciples by being trained how to use “A Peace Treaty With God”.  He developed this while serving as Minister of Evangelism at Central Christian Church in Mesa, AZ. Since then many people who have been trained in the use of this model have used it to lead thousands of people into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ among people of different cultures around the world.

Recently, this approach has been revised, updated, and renamed as “It’s All About Relationship” (IAAR). It is a powerful model for effective twenty-first century disciple-making/evangelism. The IAAR model employs a deceptively simple-looking (but biblical!) process that has embedded within it a highly effective relational approach for creating opportunities to share the Gospel one-on-one using a comprehensive but concise and powerful tool to make new disciples.

Individuals and groups of any size may take the course through HIU’s Open Class course format for only $50 per person. This course can also be taken for credit at a cost of $300 (for Bachelors or Masters level credit). Churches wanting to transition to being a disciple-making church will find this course exactly what they need to train an army of ambassadors for Christ to be effective in sharing the Gospel. 

John Hendee is also working on launching an ambassador’s support and coaching network which course participants will be invited to be part of as a way to help you be successful at applying your training once you leave the virtual classroom. We want to see you succeed in reaching the lost in your own communities for Jesus Christ! To sign up for the course, contact Phil Towne at pbtowne@hiu.edu. If you have questions about this training opportunity, contact John Hendee directly at john.hendee@cox.net.

If you have any questions about the course, we have available a more detailed document we would be happy to send you, and we would also welcome an opportunity to talk with you personally about it. Just email John Hendee at his email link provided above, or you can contact me at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org. I want to encourage you in the strongest way I possibly can to get involved in this course, it can transform your personal effectiveness as an ambassador for Christian, and it can transition your church into being a disciple-making church.

Scotty