Tuesday, March 31, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Believe" is a mediocre offering for a niche market ...

"Believe," with Randy Frazee as General Editor (published by Zondervan), is a large hardback book that was hard for me to wade through because it really is for a small niche market, that market probably being for lesser mature Christians seeking a resource to help them build their faith.

I wouldn't say this is the best resource to recommend to them, either, but it is one.

This book is divided into three sections: "What Do I Believe?" is 10 chapters detailing what Frazee identifies as the "core beliefs" of the Christian life; "What Should I Do?" is 10 chapters discussing what Frazee identifies as the "core practices" of the Christian life; and "Who Am I Becoming?" is another 10 chapters containing what Frazee identifies as the "core virtures" of the Christian life. Just in this selection of "tens" can arise differences of opinion since the Bible itself doesn't break down these three topics in just 10 specific items.

"Believe" isn't a book to be read in the normal sense. Each chapter has only small portions of content offered by the writer, with large blocks of the chapters being Bible verses supporting the topic that are fully reproduced in the book from the NIV Bible. Because of this, "Believe" could have just as easily been a leaflet containing the paragraphs from the writers with a list of the passages of scripture that readers could look up for themselves in their own Bibles rather than reproducing larger portions from the NIV.

So I have a mixed response to this book. On the surface, there's some value in raising the thinking, and providing some commentary, on the topics within the book's three divisions. But the method of doing that, with printing all the scripture passages in full, becomes very questionable as far as a necessary, or even an effective, method.

Overall, I would have to say that "Believe" is a mediocre offering in a niche market. You can easily find materials that are easier to use with greater value to the reader.

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.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

This is how you do it ...

"How do you get yourself to the gym on a regular basis?"

"How do you manage your portion control when everything looks so tasty?"

"How do you stay committed to reading your Bible every day?"

"How do you make it to church every single Sunday?"

"How do you manage to give ten percent of all the money you make in offerings to God?"

"How do you maintain such a loving marriage?"

"How do you  manage to keep within your budget?"

"How do you do this ...."

"... and how do you do that?"

We ask so many questions about how to accomplish tasks, as if there's some kind of secret to doing something we either want to do, or know would be good for us. Nike, the manufacturer of athletic, shoes, clothes, and sports gear, figured out the answer to this long ago in their famous advertising tagline: "Just do it!"

Howard Hendricks wrote in his book, "Living by the Book," the following ...

"When I was in seminary, a choice man of God named Harry Ironside used to come to church and teach. I remember on one occasion somebody came up and said, 'Dr. Ironside, I understand you get up early every morning to read and study your Bible.'

"'Yes, I've been doing that all my life,' he responded.

"'Well, how do you manage to do it?' the inquirer asked. 'Do you pray about it?'

"'No,' Ironside replied. 'I get up'."

If you want to do something like get up early every day to read your Bible and pray, there's nothing magical about making that happen. You simply have to get up and do it!

Certainly, there is a negative push from the flesh against some things, but you have the God-given capacity to overcome that push and do what is right, what is good, and the things you would like to do. Just look at how God has enabled you ...

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline," 2 Timothy 1:7.

Using the power God has gifted to you, and applying the self-discipline God has equipped you with, you "just do it!" Spending time telling yourself you really don't want to, and asking everyone how could such-and-such possibly be done, is just a way of procrastinating long enough to come up with excuses for a lack of action.

The best definition of self-discipline I've ever heard is, "Do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you like or not."

That's self-discipline!

You've been enabled with it!

Add to that power from God who is so all-powerful He spoke all that exists into being.

What more do you need?

Now just go do it!

Scotty

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The hardest part of church leadership ...

Some would say maintaining humility is the hardest part of leadership. At least several articles have been written making that argument.

Others would toss out different challenges of being a leader in Christ's church.

But when you closely analyze the responsibility of being an under-shepherd to a congregation, the hardest part of church leadership is the very real need to be "right" as much as possible.

I know, I know, just from that sentence alone many would disagree, especially in today's church. But let me explain first before you dismiss that statement.

We live in times when many church leaders vocally speak against their need to be right, meaning to be accurate regarding the truth of a matter. Many pastors today want to be the buddy of those sitting in the pews (or stackable chairs) rather than a living example of following Christ as a holy man of God. Gone are the days when pastors were, at the least, partial Bible scholars. Too many of today's pastors have "dummied down" their preaching not just in an attempt to be more relevant or better understood, but also because they aren't putting in the work of biblical scholarship. They also aren't spending an adequate amount of time in prayer for both themselves, the church, and others.

But let me ask you this: how often do you want your spiritual leaders to be right about what they teach, what they preach, the biblical counsel they offer, and their example of how to live as a follower of Christ?

How many times, when your preacher delivers a sermon, do you want him to get his message right?

How many times, when your preacher teaches a lesson, do you want him to get his lesson right?

How many times, when you seek spiritual counsel for personal matters in your life, do you want your pastor to get right his biblical counsel to you?

Don't we want them to get it right all the time?

Yes, of course!

And because every church leader is an imperfect human being, they will have their times when they get things wrong. But as a leader, it really is important to "get it right" as often as we can for the simple reason that getting it wrong can be just as influential in the lives of those we lead as getting it right is.

In 2005, The Washington Post reported the following story headlined as "450 Sheep Jump to Their Deaths":

"It all started with one self-destructive leap.

"Shepherds eating breakfast outside the town of Gevis, Turkey, were surprised to see a lone sheep jump off a nearby cliff and fall to its death. They were stunned, however, when the rest of the nearly 1,500 sheep in the herd followed, each leaping off of the same cliff.

"When it was all over, the local Aksam newspaper reported that '450 of the sheep perished in a billowy, white pile' (those that jumped from the middle and the end of the herd were saved as the pile became higher and the fall more cushioned). The estimated loss to the families of Gevas tops $100,000 --- an extremely significant amount of money in a country where the average person earns about $2,700 annually."

That story gives new meaning to how as kids we would argue with our parents and say, "All my friends are doing it" and our parents would counter, "If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do that, too?"

Sometimes the answer is, "Yes!"

Followers follow leaders, and when leaders "get it wrong," followers may follow them off a theological cliff and "get it wrong" also. The result could be a spiritual disaster. That's why leaders need to "get it right" as often as possible, and that's the kind of example the Bible upholds for leaders in the church ...

"This is a trustworthy saying: 'If anyone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.' So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach ..." 1 Timothy 3:1-2a.

A life lived "above reproach" is one where we get it right more than we get it wrong as we rely on the power of Christ in us, and live for His glory. It's also a life where a leader works hard in his studies to make sure he can get it right ...

"Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth," 2 Timothy 2:15.

The need to deliver sermons, lessons, counsel, and an example that "correctly explains the word of truth" requires significant time in prayer, in studying the Bible, and in relying on the Holy Spirit's enlightenment and leadership in the lives of leaders. Not only do authentic Christian leaders deeply desire to rightly shepherd Christ's sheep, but they understand the sobering reality that they will be held accountable for their influence in the lives of their followers (and because of that, scripture admonishes Christians to obey their leaders!) ...

"Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. that would certainly not be for your benefit," Hebrews 13:17.

"Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly," James 3:1.

The first sentence of James 3:2 is important for all us to remember: "Indeed, we all make many mistakes ..."

Church leader, as long as you're alive, you won't always get it right. But do your best! As scripture says, work hard to be a good worker so that you don't have to be ashamed about your leadership and so that you can correctly explain (and model!) the word of truth.

And Christians, remember that we ALL make mistakes. Express grace to your leaders when they make a mistake, just as they are gracious with you. PRAY FOR THEM, because it's a tough thing to need to be right consistently so that they can consistently lead you rightly. Watch that you don't place so many demands on them that take away from their time in prayer, study of the Bible, and their personal walk with God.

Scotty

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's in your future?

One of the darkest times in my life was when my mother died when I was just becoming a teenager.

My father was a cruel, mean man, someone that I don't have any memory of a single happy day with. It was my mother that crafted a life for her children, and losing her raised a very real and serious question for me at such a young age: What would be my future without her?

Without her, I didn't have anyone to protect or defend me against my father, or help me grow up and figure out this crazy world we live in. Fortunately, my faith in God became paramount to me during that time of grieving my mother's loss, and I latched onto a passage of scripture that still moves me to this day ...

"Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash," Matthew 7:24-27.

At a young age, I came to understand that God's great promise that gave me hope and peace was the promise of a future in and with Him.

With God, we have a future, and it's one we can look forward to!

Not everyone believes that or even wants it. A couple years ago news reporter Kimberly Winston filed the following story for Religion News Service:

"Atheists and nonbelievers [estimates of crowds between 8,000 to as many as 20,000] gathered on the National Mall Saturday in a bid to show politicians, voters, and even themselves that they have grown into a force to be recognized and reckoned with.

"'It really is encouraging and it makes me think there is hope for a different kind of future,' Mwimanzi [a rally organizer] said. 'Religion has dominated human history, but maybe it's time for a new direction.'"

Taking Christian "religion" out of human history might change the future, but not to a hopeful one! What an ironic choice of words, as if there could be any hope in a future without God. God has been working throughout human history to fashion a future for us that is our greatest hope ...

"In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ," Ephesians 2:12-13.

"But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control," Philippians 3:20-21.

That's the future for followers of Christ, a future to be excited about!

What is the hope of your future based on? Are you eagerly waiting for a magnificent future with Christ?

Scotty

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The way out of despair ...

Designer Si Chan is introducing an unusual jacket in his winter men's wear collection. It's a big, puffy
green parka with four sets of stuffed, clasped hands which wrap around from back to front.

"Everybody needs love, don't they?" asks Si Chan on his blog. Chan says he designed his eccentric kelly green puffer jacket to make the wearer feel "warm and hugged."

Some might call his design cuddly; some might just call it creepy. No matter what you call it, it is doubtful this cold-weather creation will fulfill Chan's goal of helping others "depart from loneliness."

It takes more than an odd, warm coat to lift us out of despair.

Despair is such a mentally and emotionally deep pit that most of us have found ourselves in at some time in our lives. It's a terrible experience and one that's tough to get out of. You feel like you're drowning under the weight of the world, and just like a person drowning in water, no one may notice. Many people don't even know what a person in despair looks like, just as we often don't spot a person who is drowning in water. Darren Chester tells the following story ...

"I recently viewed a videotape used to train lifeguards on how to recognize when someone is drowning. We often think that a person who is drowning will thrash about in the water and yell, 'Help! Help! I'm drowning!' In reality, they become almost paralyzed by fear and incapable of calling for help.

"The video illustrated how this works. It showed a young girl of about 10 sitting on an inner tube float in the deep end of a wave pool, surrounded by children and a few adults. When the girl adjusted herself on the tube, she fell off and slipped to the bottom of the pool where the water was right at the top of her head.

"There was no thrashing about and there was no yelling for help. Instead, subtly, her hands came just above the surface as if she were reaching for something. Thankfully, a lifeguard spotted her and within a few seconds had a flotation device under her. The most remarkable thing was that the people around her were oblivious to the fact that she was drowning."

People suffering despair often become paralyzed with fear and unable to cry out for help. Because of that, the people around them may not notice they are drowning emotionally.

But God sees you!

The Apostle Paul tells of a time when he personally experienced deep, dark despair ...

"We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die ..." 2 Corinthians 1:8-9a.

Paul's situation was real and left him despairing for his life. How did he make his way out of such a deep, dark pit?

"... But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead," 2 Corinthians 1:9b.

God sees your need, He understands what you're feeling, and is fully acquainted with your circumstances. When you're done relying on yourself to find a way out of what causes you to despair, and instead learn to rely on Him, then He will deliver you from the pit you find yourself in.

"And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us," 2 Corinthians 1:10.

If you currently find yourself in despair, I implore you to turn from trying to rely on yourself and instead to rely on God to deliver you out of the darkness you're experiencing. He is willing and able to rescue you!

If you're not personally experiencing despair, let me tell you there likely are people around you who are, people who feel like they are drowning in life. Even if they aren't thrashing about for help, you can learn to see their need by not being self-absorbed but noticing the people around you ...

"Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too," Philippians 2:4.

We all need more than a warm coat with "hugging hands," we need one another offering helping hands. Most of all, we need the nail-scarred hands of a Savior to deliver us from the depths of despair into His marvelous light.

Scotty

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The power of setting a good example ...

Mark Twain once quipped, "Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example."

Setting a good example raises the bar of possibility --- and thus, expectation --- for us all, and for those who really don't want to try, it can be annoying.

But for others, a good example is inspiring, challenging, motivating, and sometimes even life-changing!

For many years the coastal town of Monterey, California was a pelican's paradise. As fishermen cleaned their fish, they flung the offal to the pelicans. The birds grew fat, lazy, and contented. However, eventually the offal was also utilized, meaning there were no longer free and easy snacks for the pelicans. When the change came the pelicans made no effort to fish for themselves. They waited around and grew gaunt and thin. Many even starved to death! They had forgotten how to fish for themselves. The problem was solved by importing new pelicans from the south, birds accustomed to foraging for themselves. They were placed among their starving cousins, and the newcomers immediately started catching fish. Before long the hungry pelicans followed suit, ending the famine.

Having a good example is important to our development as human beings and disciples of Jesus Christ, and setting a good example is important to our influence in the lives of others. Look closely at how example plays a part in exhortations in scripture ...

"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it," Proverbs 22:6.

"Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity," 1 Timothy 4:12.

"In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching," Titus 2:6-7.

"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world," 1 Peter 2:12.

From children, we need good examples in our lives as we grow into adulthood, and whether we're parents, young adults, or mature adults, we need to be setting good examples for others.

We rub off on each other!

Is the influence of your life a good example for others? Are the influences you allow into your life good examples for you?

Scotty

Monday, March 23, 2015

What does your flock really want from its shepherd?

Pastors, the authentic Christians you lead do not want you to be their CEO or model for them how to
be a successful executive.

They are unimpressed with your organizational acumen. They are unimpressed with your side business consulting other pastors. They are unimpressed with your vast social media audience.

So what do they want?

A shepherd! A prayerful man of God who leads them spiritually by the Word of God as he is empowered by the Spirit of God. They just want you to teach and model for them how to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, and to equip them for doing that.

A brief, simple, but expressive eulogy was pronounced by Martin Luther upon a pastor named Nicholas Haussmann at Zwickau in 1522. The reformer stated, "What we preach, he lived."

That's what your flock wants from you. They want you to preach the Word of God from the pulpit and with your life so they have an example of how to live what you preach, and they want to be equipped.

Is that what you're providing for the flock of God that you tend to?

Scotty

Friday, March 20, 2015

What being exposed to Jesus should do to you ...

During the '90's I was exposed to toxic chemicals when a Union 76 refinery I lived next to had a
major chemical spill that it didn't do anything about for three weeks.

Because of that exposure, I spent five years being treated by a team of a dozen physicians. There wasn't any research material available to the doctors about the chemicals the public had been exposed to, so they didn't know all of the potential effects such an exposure could have on human beings. One result for my being exposed was permanent damage to my sinuses. Others suffered much worse outcomes. Exposure to those chemicals had a negative outcome in the lives of many of us living in the area.

What we're exposed to throughout our lives has outcomes in our lives.

That includes our exposure to Truth. What happens when we're exposed to the truth?

Once the devil was walking along with one of his cohorts. They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny.

"What did he find?" asked the cohort?

"A piece of the truth," the devil replied.

"Doesn't it bother you that he found a piece of the truth?" asked the cohort.

"No," said the devil, "I will see to it that he makes a religion out of it."

The enemy isn't afraid of our being exposed to the truth if we don't experience its intended effect. What should be the outcome of our being exposed to the truth? The Apostle Paul gives us part of the answer ...

"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. Put on your new nature, created to be like God --- truly righteous and holy," Ephesians 4:20-24.

Our being exposed to Jesus, and the truth that comes from Him, has very real and powerful effects. It strips away our sin and engulfs us in a new nature, one that is "... truly righteous and holy."

Is that the outcome in your life of your being exposed to Jesus?

Scotty

Thursday, March 19, 2015

This summer, get equipped to be an effective disciple-maker!

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. 

The Scott Free Clinic's "Partnership for Ambassador Training" component provides 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 or you can contact me at  dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org.

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 or you can contact me. 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 Christ, and it can transition your church into being a disciple-making church.

Scotty 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Few things rot a life like bitterness ...

Did you know it's possible to develop the poisonous attitude of the mind and heart called "bitterness" over something you have done?

We tend to think that bitterness is a possible result from being wronged by others. But we can become bitter toward others from our own actions toward them!

Dr. Anthony Evans shares in his book, "Guiding Your Family in a Misguided World," the following story ...

"One day, two monks were walking through the countryside. They were on their way to another village to help bring in the crops. As they walked, they spied an old woman sitting at the edge of a river. She was upset because there was no bridge, and she could not get across on her own. The first monk kindly offered, 'We will carry you across if you would like.' 'Thank you,' she said gratefully, accepting their help. So the two men joined hands, lifted her between them and carried her across the river. When they got to the other side, they set her down, and she went on her way.

"After they had walked another mile or so, the second monk began to complain. 'Look at my clothes," he said. 'They are filthy from carrying that woman across the river. And my back still hurts from lifting her. I can feel it getting stiff.' The first monk just smiled and nodded his head.

"A few more miles up the road, the second monk griped again. 'My back is hurting me so badly, and it is all because we had to carry that silly woman across the river! I cannot go any farther because of the pain.' The first monk looked down at his partner, now lying on the ground, moaning. 'Have you wondered why I am not complaining?' he asked. 'Your back hurts because you are still carrying the woman. But I set her down five miles ago'."

Many of us are like that second monk in our interactions with others. We refuse to let go of some interaction, experience, or something from our past, playing it over and over again in our minds until it becomes debilitating ... to us! Scripture clearly teaches us to avoid thinking and behaving in such a way ...

"Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many," Hebrews 12:14-15.

Bitterness is extraordinarily dangerous because it is a "root" problem. In one of his sermons, pastor Bill Hybels stated, "Fifty years ago industrialists thought they could just bury toxic waste and it would go away. We have since learned it doesn't just go away. It makes trouble. It leaks into the water table, contaminates crops, and kills animals."

In like manner, bitterness isn't something we can just bury, thinking it will go away. It won't just go away. It will make trouble!  For that reason, the Apostle Paul tells us to rid ourselves of any bitterness in our lives and instructs us how we should live with everyone ...

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you," Ephesians 4:31-32.

Bitterness is a place devoid of grace or mercy. Such thinking and behavior couldn't be further than Christ's example for us, God's will for us, and how He has responded to our rebellion against Him. And so Paul directs us to eject bitterness in its entirety from our lives.

Have you completely rid yourself of any root of bitterness in your life? If you have allowed yourself to foster bitterness toward someone, you need to confess it and repent of it and allow the Holy Spirit to change your thinking and your heart. Are you willing to do that today?

Scotty

What it really means to "get real" ...

When people have problems (and we all do throughout life), most of the time they want the problem removed rather than having to mature and change in order to rid themselves of the problem.

Most of the time, life doesn't work that way.

How do you deal with the problem of weeds in a yard?

When you pull weeds, you have to pull up the entire plant including the roots. If you don't pull up the roots, the weeds will grow back.

And that's how you have to deal with problems. At some point, you have to "get real" and finally address the root cause of your problems, making changes at a root level.

Joe Thompson tells a very similar story with regard to sin and problems in our lives ...

"One morning I was having my daily devotions while eating cereal at our breakfast table. As I was reading, I ran my hand down the page of the Bible and felt a good-sized bump underneath the page. I thought, 'I must have flipped a piece of cereal out of the bowl and didn't notice it on the previous page.' So I flipped back a page and the bump was still there, but there was no object. I flipped back another page only to discover the same thing. I then flipped back about five more pages to discover the bump was still there, but noticeably smaller. After flipping a couple of more pages I finally found the source of the bump. It was a small particle of something that was smaller than a grain of sand. Each page that covered the particle with another layer served to magnify it, giving the illusion that something much larger was beneath the surface.

"The same is true with sin and problems in our life. If they are dealt with early they are no more than a small bump in our lives. However, if we continue to pile page upon page of life on top of them they begin to magnify themselves until they become very noticeable. Then we have to stop, flip back the pages and deal with the sin or problem to prevent it from affecting our lives."

That's why competent Christian counselors often direct clients backward, because they're looking for those root issues --- that tiny particle --- that is the root source of the problem in a person's life. Once that is found and dealt with appropriately, real change for the better happens.

What it really means to "get real" is to get serious about finding that little particle of sin, that small grain of trouble that started and magnified your problems. We can often do this ourselves when we're willing to be self-honest and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth about ourselves. Sometimes we need the help of a family member, friend, pastor, or Christian counselor to identify what the root source of our problems are. But finding those roots, and plucking them from your life is the only way you will ever "get real" and make the changes you need to make.

Is it time for you to "get real"?

Scotty

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How procrastination hurts you and the kingdom of God ...

Satan doesn't mind how much you dream or the amount of clear direction God gives you as long as he can get you to procrastinate just a little. If he can do that, chances increase dramatically that you'll not pursue your dreams or execute God's direction.

In that way, procrastinating hurts both you and the kingdom of God.

We like to fool ourselves that by getting our idea or intention down on paper (or onto an electronic list) that we've acted. But when it begins to stay on that list week after week --- once we begin to procrastinate --- often the only way the items come off the list is by our failing to turn them into reality. Once we let time get away from us, our failure ratio increases.

That's when regrets are born and big costs are paid.

Such was the case for eighteen-year-old Fabian Gonzalez, a bright, talented, motivated high school senior on the brink of graduation. Waiting for him in the fall was a $32,000 scholarship to attend Northwood University. But before he could realize his dreams or explore his full potential, his life was cut short in a tragic traffic accident.

But unlike so many other teen accidents, there were no drugs, no alcohol, no crazy antics. Fabian didn't die recklessly trying to dodge the rules. He died recklessly trying to obey them. The news reported his father saying, "He was in a rush trying to get home, because we gave him a curfew."

It's unclear what distracted young Fabian that night that caused him to lose track of time and find himself racing to meet his parent's curfew and expectations. Had Fabian not allowed himself to become distracted, he would likely have left for home in a timely way, driven the speed limit, and arrived alive.

Things begin to go very wrong when we procrastinate, and regrets are hatched.

The Huffington Post reported the following about regrets ...

"Joe Robinson, author of the new book, 'Don't Miss Your Life,' makes the case that one of life's most dogging of emotions, regret, may just have a beneficial purpose: to prod us to step out and take action. According to Mr. Robinson, 'researchers have found that the biggest regrets come not from what you do but from what you didn't do.' It's the course untaken, known as the 'inaction effect' in one study, which produces more regret than actions that don't work out.

"Other research shows there's more intensity to the regret that comes from lost opportunities and that it stays with you longer. Since we 'seem to be wired to not leave possibilities on the table,' why then do so many of us fall prey to the 'inaction affect'? Robinson explains that it is 'because we're wired with some other tendencies, too --- fear, procrastination, cynicism, prior disappointments.' These negative psychological agents work hard to hold us back from experiencing life to the fullest. 'Life is short,' he concludes. 'Regrets are forever'."

If the regrets from procrastination and lost earthly opportunities are haunting, how much more the regrets that come from lost spiritual opportunities? Fortunately, we don't have to allow "... fear, procrastination, cynicism, or prior disappointments" to lull us into the "inaction effect." Look at how God has enabled us ...

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline," 2 Timothy 1:7.

God enables and expects us to apply that power, motivation of love, and capacity for self-discipline to overcome procrastination and accomplish something with our lives, and for His kingdom. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we can overcome the challenges and excuses to our busy schedules and live more purposefully and more fully (perhaps more simply!). That's what the Apostle Paul challenges us to do ...

"So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do," Ephesians 5:15-17.

Jesus takes His call on our lives to be something serious --- serious enough that truly "important" things must become secondary in order to heed and obey His call. Look at this example that Jesus gives us of how expects us to respond with action to His call and instruction for us ...

"He said to another person, 'Come, follow me.' The man agreed, but he said, 'Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.' But Jesus told him, 'Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God," Luke 9:59-60.

That same urgency and immediacy is what Jesus expects of US as He says to His disciples today, "... I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you ..." Matthew 28:18-20a.

To obey Christ, we have to overcome procrastination. That might mean clearing our schedules, re-prioritizing our commitments and even some relationships, and it will likely mean taking action that could be both bold and controversial.

Obedience to the call of Christ and direction of the Holy Spirit in our lives does not mean adding God's direction to our to-do list, it means to take action now! Anything short of that will set you on the fast-track to spiritual failures that you will sorely regret.

Are your procrastinating with getting done the things you should do? Or are you acting now on what Christ has called you to do?

Scotty

Monday, March 16, 2015

If the end is near, we can't live life as usual. Can we?

The roots of motivation have stymied behavioral scientists, psychiatrists, and psychologists, but we all understand the value of being motivated.

A teenager lost a contact lens while playing basketball in his driveway. After a fruitless search, he told his mother the lens was nowhere to be found. Undaunted, she went outside and in a few minutes returned with the lens in her hand.

"I really looked hard for that, mom," said the youth. "How'd you managed to find it?"

"We weren't looking for the same thing," she replied. "You were looking for a small piece of plastic. I was looking for $150."

One thing we do understand about motivation is that, generally speaking, what we truly believe provides a source of motivation for what we do. I want to apply that to the thought that many Christians today believe we are truly moving into (or are in) the end times for humanity.

Throughout my walk as a Christian, I've studied end times teachings and have been more engaged on the topic in the past. I finally settled on the understanding that even the apostles thought they were in the end times, and we just do not know when Jesus will return but that He will, most definitely, return! I let the overarching fact of the surety of His return motivate me rather than get lost in the "when" of it since no human being knows the "when."

But scripture does give us clues, describing "signs of the times," and in my lifetime, I don't think we've ever seen what seems to be very obvious fulfillment of what the Bible tells us the very end of the age will look like. My personal conclusion is that it appears we are moving toward the final days of humanity, but I will be the first to say I could be completely wrong about that. Again, Jesus tells us through scripture that no one knows but God Himself when the end will come.

But I write all this to raise this question: If we really believe the end is near, we can't live life as usual, can we?

By living life simply knowing that Christ would return, or that on any given day our entering eternity could be hastened by death (also something that could happen at any time, but we don't know when), it has motivated me to live with a sense of urgency in sharing the Gospel with as many people as I can. I have been far from perfect at doing that, and I've missed many opportunities, but that motivation has helped me see many I wouldn't have, and its motivated me to work at creating many opportunities as well. I've shared the Gospel with more people because of the motivation of knowing Jesus Christ will return than I would have without that motivation.

But if we really believe that we are now near the imminent return of our King, shouldn't that motivate us to raise our sense of urgency to the highest possible level? Shouldn't that make our sharing the Good News of Jesus a serious priority for every disciple of Jesus Christ? Shouldn't that motivate us to such a degree that we just can't live life as usual?

If the ship of humanity is now sinking, shouldn't we stop playing shuffle board on the Lido deck and move as many people as possible to the lifeboats? Shouldn't we be sounding the alarm and helping people to safety?

We should have been doing that all along. But if we are nearing the final days for mankind, shouldn't we ALL work urgently to reach as many people as we can in the time we have remaining?

Even if we have another thousand years before Christ returns, we should still be motivated to reach as many people with the Gospel as we can. But the motivation intensifies if we consider the possibility that we don't have much time left.

Do the times we are living in motivate you to have a sense of urgency in being an ambassador for Christ? If Christ's return would happen in your lifetime, would you be more motivated to help the lost and perishing to find Jesus?

Scotty

Friday, March 13, 2015

On judgment day, who really gets into the kingdom?

Untold millions of people have, at some time in their lives, wondered who will really gets into heaven.

Let's find out!

There are many who argue if you just "believe," you're in. Others argue based on what they've accomplished for the Lord. Still others argue they've believed the right things and have done a lot for the Lord.

So why don't we just open our Bibles and read the words of Jesus on this matter?

Jesus begins by saying, "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven ..." Matthew 7:21a.

There are many who call Jesus "Lord," but He really isn't the Lord of their lives. Jesus says there are MANY with such delusions ...

"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 7:22-23.

Did you notice that there are many who can actually be very productive doing amazing things in the Lords' name, and yet be rejected by Christ on judgment day?

That's because it's not our productivity that "punches our ticket" into the Kingdom of Heaven! What is? Tucked between these two scripture references are these poignant and powerful words of Christ ...

"Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter," Matthew 7:21b.

First, to have any access to God we have to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. Then, in order to do the will of God, we have to surrender our lives to Him so that our thoughts, desires, and actions mesh with His; in other words, we have to make His will our will.

What is the foremost will of God for us? It's that we become like Christ!

That means thinking about and relating to the Father like Jesus did, and living and loving like Jesus did.

When we accept the sacrifice Jesus made for us to reconcile us to God, surrender our lives so the Holy Spirit can transform us over our lifetimes to become like Jesus, and live out our lives preaching the kingdom of God and loving others like Jesus did, we are doing the will of the Father --- and that is who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

Some people try to be overly simplistic about the essentials of salvation, but what God requires of us isn't limited to a single verse. That's why taking the New Testament in context is important. In the verse we looked at here in Matthew 7, Jesus personally and directly speaks to who will be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven. His word on the matter will trump anything anyone else will tell you!

Based on what Jesus says regarding who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, will you be welcomed into the kingdom?

Scotty

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Less about what we're against, more about Who we're for ...

Complaining seems to be a very common pasttime, even among Christians. So much that many Christian leaders have been speaking out saying we should be talking about what we're for instead of spending so much time griping about what we're against.

That's decent advice, but it doesn't always work out well. Too many of us use what we're for to create further divisions among us, much like the man who tells the story of crossing a bridge one day when he saw another man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So he ran over to the man and said, "Stop, don't jump off!"

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for."

"Like what?"

"Well, are you religious?"

The man answered yes.

"Me, too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?"

"Christian!"

"Me, too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"

"Baptist!"

"Wow! Me, too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God!"

"Me, too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God!"

"Me, too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"

The man responded angrily, "Die, heretic!" and pushed him off the bridge.

Instead of spending so much time complaining about what we're against, or even talking about positions we're for, perhaps we should spend more of our time talking about Who we're for. But here's a warning: even talking about being for Jesus will cause division!

Jesus, the ultimate Peace Maker and our source of peace with God, also brings about division. To be at peace with God by being for Christ will inevitably cause division in our lives with others ...

"I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against --- or two in favor and three against. 'Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law'," Luke 12:49-53.

Spending our time complaining about our differences within the body of Christ makes us ineffective in sharing Christ with the world. When we spend more time talking about how together we are for Christ, we become more united in our message to a lost and broken world. That will help us endure the division we will face when we share with those who don't know Christ that we are for the Lord. When the world rejects us for being for Jesus, we need to have one another, as brothers and sisters in in the family of God, to turn to instead of even more division.

Is the content of what comes out of your mouth more about being for Jesus Christ, or is it more often complaining about what you're against?

Scotty

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Christian, here's why you need to be trained ...

"As a Christian, why should I take a class to be equipped?"

As I encourage people to take the online "Relational Evangelism" course offered through Hope International University (HIU), I occasionally have someone ask why they should take a class in order to be equipped. Some people think that reading the Bible, listening to sermons, attending a Bible study, praying and being filled with the Holy Spirit is "enough."

First, let's look at what we're called to:
  • To be Christ's ambassadors - 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
  • To a ministry of reconciliation, reconciling people to God by using a message of reconciliation (again, 2 Cor. 5:18-20).
  • For God to make His appeal for reconciliation through us (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
  • And to GO into the world and make disciples - Matthew 28:18-20.
Surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ makes us saved, it doesn't make us equipped or spiritually mature. That's why we read the following in Ephesians 4:11-13 ...

"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ."

One of the key responsibilities of church leaders is to equip the saints for ministry, the most important of which is to carry out the Great Commission, which begins with the work of making disciples (evangelism). Yet, most churches today do nothing to train believers how to effectively share the Gospel with someone who doesn't know Jesus. Just because you're a Christian doesn't mean you're "supernaturally equipped" to know how to create opportunities to share the Gospel, and how to effectively communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ. Making disciples is a combination of real work on our part (which requires equipping), that is fully reliant on the power of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul described that blend this way ...

"So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me," Colossians 1:28-29.

If you already have developed a method of creating opportunities to share the Gospel, and if you're already effectively and routinely making disciples, you don't need to take this course. But if you aren't, and if your church isn't, you and your church need this training!

If you had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a non-Christian right now, would you:
  • Know what to say?
  • Where would you start?
  • Where would you end?
  • What would be your content inbetween?
  • How would you make sure that you share the Gospel comprehensively so that you don't leave out any of the essentials for salvation, yet concisely so that the person doesn't tune you out?
If you don't have complete and confident answers to these questions, then you need to be trained!

The New Testament isn't shy in imploring and encouraging Christians to be equipped, to get trained, to study, learn, grow, and mature --- not just in "spiritual" things, but also in the skills needed for our service to Christ. That's because we aren't just children of the King, we are His ambassadors as well, with the massive task of making disciples of all the nations.

Are you equipped for that?

If you're not routinely making new disciples from among non-believers, then I encourage you to sign up today to get trained. Here's the information you need about the online "Relational Evangelism" course; the next class starts this coming Monday, March 16, so sign up TODAY!

If you have any questions, you can write me at dr.scott@ScottFreeClinic.org or you can contact the professor, John Hendee, directly at john.hendee@cox.net.

Scotty

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

That isn't sharing the Gospel, this is ...

These things:
  • Letting your light shine, like a lamp set upon a hill.
  • Being the salt of the earth.
  • Loving your neighbor.
  • Serving meals at a local homeless mission.
  • Serving one another in the church.
  • Going on a short-term mission where you help build a house for a poor family.
  • Serving in a program at church.
  • Mentoring students at a local elementary school.
  • Sending a monthly financial gift to support an orphan in a far-off country ...
... these and many other very good things that many Christians do is NOT sharing the Gospel. They are attitudes and actions that all display Christ in us, and His love for those we serve doing such things. But these good deeds is not the same thing as sharing the Gospel.

To share the Gospel, we must open our mouths (and possibly also our Bibles) and actually specifically share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

That message is not transmitted by osmosis when we engage in good deeds and loving others. The result of the Gospel in us is being reflected, but the message isn't conveyed so that others literally know and understand the Gospel message.

I think we get very confused, thinking that if we just do good deeds, people will come to Christ. Those good deeds may spur some people to ask what our motive is, thereby opening a door to extend an invitation for the sharing of the Gospel, but until we literally open our mouths and share the Gospel with someone, we haven't told the one story that can save their souls and transform their lives.

Loving and serving others, and living a life where good deeds are a normal practice, is the way we are to live in this world among both Christian and non-Christian alike. But to get the Gospel to the lost and broken world, we have to engage in a ministry of reconciliation where we communicate a message of reconciliation so that God, through us, can make His appeal for reconciliation to the lost ...

"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.

Are you actually sharing the message of the Gospel with people who don't know Christ? If you need to be equipped to be effective at sharing the Gospel, click here to learn how you can be trained.

Scotty

Monday, March 9, 2015

If you want to reach the lost, check out these opportunities ...

A few weeks ago I made a short video to provide information about some exciting things happening to help you effectively make new disciples. Click here to access the video on my ministry website. I encourage you to view the video and contact me with any questions you have.

Scotty

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Without this, introspection is useless ...

Yesterday's post focused on the need for honest introspection if we're going to make real change in our lives, something we need to be doing on a continual basis. But building into our lives the discipline of regular introspection is useless unless we act on that introspection. Otherwise, our taking time for introspection might look more like this:

The act of introspection for the Christian is something we should do with the Lord, and being led by the Word of God and prayer as we turn our eyes internally. As the Lord helps us take inventory of ourselves in light of His word, we need to put action to what we believe (our faith) or else our introspection is simply vain philosophizing.

"For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it," James 1:23-25.

"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?" James 2:14.

Have you developed the personal discipline of making time routinely for introspection? Are you acting on what you learn from that time? If you aren't, what's the purpose for the introspection?

Scotty

Saturday, March 7, 2015

You'll need to do this to bring meaningful change to your life ...

There's a saying that nothing changes unless you do.

That's not true!

Things are always changing around you, whether you change or not. The key is that we need to be changing as well.

Unlike Jesus Christ, who is perfect and therefore "... is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), we need to live in ongoing cooperation with the Holy Spirit on continuously changing, becoming more and more like Christ.

A key to our change is honest introspection, that act of looking internally and honestly taking inventory of who we are, and the changes we need to make in light of the Word of God, and also some changes we'd like to make. Honest introspection can help us make little changes that make life more enjoyable, and it can also challenge us to make difficult changes that are life-changing.

Mark Eberly, pastor of Kearsarge Church of God, tells how honest introspection helped him overcome the anger that had plagued his life ...

"If there is one emotion that I have been familiar with, it is anger. I lived with anger for most of my childhood and teenage years. It became quite comfortable and familiar, so much as that most other responses such as disappointment and fear became masked by my anger.

"Now what I'm telling you has taken many years of prayer, contemplation, and introspection to uncover. It didn't happen overnight, and it didn't happen accidentally. I had to be intentional about facing my 'demons' and what was hidden deep in my heart.

"As a child, I got into a lot of fights. I don't believe I was a bully but just had an extremely short fuse. I remember walking after school and a kid I didn't know ran by me and accidentally bumped me. I took off after him and caught him at the corner and proceeded to pummel him.

"I even picked fights with bigger and older kids mouthing off to them. I wasn't always angry and brooding but I would just basically let myself erupt."

Many people can identify with Mark's deep-seeded anger. For others, there are different things that persistently plague their lives that need to change. Honest introspection can help to identify what remains in you that shouldn't, and taking those issues to the Lord is the beginning of moving toward real change. In fact, inviting God into those times of introspection helps us gain an understanding about ourselves we may not see on our own as the Lord reveals what we attempt to hide even from ourselves. This is beautifully illustrated in David's plea ...

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life," Psalm 139:23-24.

Introspection needs to be a regular part of our lives, even to the point of making the same kind of plea to God on a daily basis. We want God to show us what offends Him, and to change those things in us today. Tomorrow, we begin our day with the Lord, again seeking His perfect observation into our lives, and letting that guide us into a new day.

Do you take time for personal, honest introspection? Or do you resist change, no matter how negative it may be in your life? How can your life change for the better by taking personal inventory of yourself?

Scotty

Friday, March 6, 2015

Followers, don't let your leaders do your thinking for you ...

Most people are not leaders. There's nothing wrong with that. But one of the most common and costly mistakes followers make is letting their leaders do their thinking for them.

Don't do that!

All of us, in different ways and at different times, look to leaders to provide us with counsel --- with leadership. But that should never be at the expense of not studying and learning for ourselves, and becoming wise so that our own judgment is beneficial and reliable for us. Failing to do our own homework with the resulting learning will bring great regrets.

Take, for example, the experience of Ronald Wayne, who was one of the three co-founders of Apple. On April 12, 1976 he sold his 10 percent share in the company for $800. He received an additional $1,500 because he was willing to give up all future rights in Apple. Today, Apple is the most valuable company in the world, worth $600 billion. His 10 percent would now be worth $60 billion!

Instead of sufficiently doing his homework on the value of making a long-term investment, Wayne lost out on one of the greatest fortunes anyone could have had.

He didn't make a wise choice.

It's no wonder that scripture places a high value of our individually developing wisdom ...

"Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you can do, develop good judgment," Proverbs 4:7.

Leaders rightly have their positions and influence in our lives, but you have to live your own life, and you need wisdom to make the right decisions as you do. One of the best illustrations for this that we have in the Bible is that of the people in Berea. Imagine having the opportunity to hear the Gospel preached by the Apostle Paul himself. What an awesome opportunity that would be! But those who heard Paul preach in Berea didn't let Paul do their thinking for them ...

"That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men," Acts 17:10-12.

The Bereans weren't willing to let Paul, Silas, or anyone else do their homework for them. They were very responsive to the teaching provided, but they were wise enough to know their response to the teaching was something they would have to "own" for themselves, so they were intense about searching the scriptures for themselves while they received great instruction.

It's a great reminder for us to not let our leaders do our thinking for us.

Do you thoughtfully and purposely pursue growing in wisdom and developing good judgment?

Scotty

Thursday, March 5, 2015

You cannot practice disobedience and cry grace ...

One of the great distortions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God by an increasing number of ministers is the notion that obedience to Jesus Christ is not important and that grace will allow for continued disobedience.

According to the Bible, such a notion is not true!

The Apostle John records in his Gospel this concise statement from a plain-speaking preacher known as John the Baptist ...

"And anyone who believes in God's Son has eternal life. ANYONE who doesn't OBEY the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God's angry judgment," John 3:36.

Still, some claim the freedom we have from Jesus Christ allows us to do what we want. But Peter Forsythe was right when he said, "The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master."

The Apostle John continues on this subject in his first epistle ...

"Dear children, don't let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of sinning, because they are children of God," 1 John 3:7-9.

Instead of using grace as a cover for sin, obedience is a natural response to grace! Thomas a Kempis wrote, "Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace."

Are you living each day in obedience to Jesus Christ?

Scotty

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

FREE consulting offered for certain group enrollments ...

I have been sharing information about an outstanding course for equipping Christians to become highly effective disciple-makers (learn more about the course here). Now, the originator of this evangelistic model and professor for the course, John Hendee, is offering a FREE consulting package for certain group enrollments.

This is a great opportunity for churches, ministries, or missions interested in becoming disciple-making churches or disciple-making organizations to get some expert help in making the transition. Here is the information John provided about how to get FREE consulting for some of you enrolling in the course:

FREE CONSULTATION OFFER
Any congregation, ministry, or mission that signs up at least 15 people from among their members, staff, or leadership for the March 16, 2015 eight-week online course I teach (Relational Evangelism using It’s All About Relationship) with Hope International University will receive FREE consultation from me on how to set up and operate an effective outreach program to help insure this training results in multiplication and reproduction of trained people to help reach people for Christ.

People can take the Open Class Course for $50 (no credit) or they can take it for undergrad or graduate credit for $300 (a three unit class). They will all be taking it at the same time.

You can sign up by writing Phil Towne at pbtowne@hiu.edu. Tell him you want to sign up your group for the March 16 class. Once we confirm you have 15 or more from your ministry, we will set up the consultation. If you have any questions about this write me at john.hendee@cox.net. We can talk ahead of time about the details. I can also send you an e-brochure with more details about the course.

My experience as a Consultant includes:
 
John Hendee
I served with Central Christian Church in Mesa, Arizona for 17 years as it grew into a mega-church. I wrote a book about the strategy we used titled “Smart Fishing.” I have also worked with smaller congregations. I developed the evangelism tool and model using the “It’s All About Relationship” (IAAR) over the past 35 years. I have also served for 22 years in missions in South America. I’ve written over ten books with more on the way. I’m currently working with Team Expansion to get the IAAR studies in other languages. Missionaries are taking the Relational Evangelism course even from overseas. I’m also serving as Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University.

The consultation would include learning about your current ministry and making recommendations as to how you can have a multiplication and reproduction plan for your congregation. If your ministry is reasonably close, I can drive there or we could do this over the phone or via Skype. If you are farther away and you want to meet “live,” you will need to fly me there. I don’t need to be paid an honorarium for working with you. The consultation is free. I will be available to consult with you during the first year after your people start taking the online course.
*****
I encourage you to take advantage of this great special opportunity. Get enrolled for the course today, it starts March 16!

Scotty