40 Day Journey – with Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Day 1 finished

Its-a-wonderful-lifepicture from thefilmspectrum.com

Day 1 – finished thoughts.

I had a friend of mine comment yesterday with two, very insightful thoughts on truly following wherever Jesus may lead us. The first was the idea that we tend to limit God because we are unwilling to take risks, to dream big or maybe it’s because we’ve never really accepted the promise that God really does want what is best for us, “plans for us to prosper”. This doesn’t necessarily mean financially. It could but to only think of that verse in terms of prospering financially, again limits the ways that God could help us “prosper”.

The second thought, which I completely overlooked, was the idea of – in all things be thankful. Eucharisto. No matter my circumstance, I am and should be thankful for wherever I may find myself. This can be extremely difficult depending on the situation we may find ourselves. Speaking for myself here, I tend to never really express my gratitude for the countless blessings God has given me over the course of my life. Even through the worst moments of my journey, when I reflect on where I came from and what I’ve been through, I’ve experienced first hand the countless times where God has blessed me financially, with strength, with wisdom, with stamina and yes, even with patience.

I once again find myself in such a season where I truly don’t know where God is leading me and in my human nature, it is more than a little unnerving not knowing. However, through Christ, I know if obedient, He will lead me exactly to where I should be. Probably not known to a lot of people, I have been looking for employment since the first of the year. The circumstances which led me to this place are not important but rather the process of which I proceed forward is.

The really great thing about this, is that God started preparing Lisa and I for this months in advance. In talking with each other we both had this sense that God was preparing us for a change. Whether that change was in physically moving or a job change, or both we weren’t sure but we knew things weren’t going to stay the same. The reason we knew this was because God has done this before in our lives. As we started thinking and praying about what was to come, we suddenly, out of the blue, learned that we would be coming into money.

My first thought was how cool, now I can buy some things (toys), and maybe get some things done around the house that really need to get done. But fortunately my conscience (Lisa), prevailed in convincing me that maybe we should practice patience and sit tight with the money. A very wise woman, my wife and someone I never fail to be thankful for! God’s timing proved to be perfect again as the week before the check arrived we found out what the provision of money was to be used for, as I found out that I would soon be unemployed. God’s grace really is sufficient.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also take this chance and express gratitude for Pastor Chuck and the rest of my family (church staff), for the love and support they have shown me and my family through this transition. It is rare to find yourself in this type of position and have nothing but respect, love and admiration for your former employer. But that is exactly how I feel about them. Their constant uplifting as served as a reminder that God is in control and I only need to be faithful to follow Him.

So as I type this I still have no idea what is next for Lisa and I but I am thankful for the peace I have in this moment. It’s cliché I know but honestly, I feel a little like Jimmy Stewart at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life. Not the very end where everything works out but at the moment where he understands how precious his life really is. At that moment, he doesn’t know how things will turn out, he only knows that he has a chance to live, to see and be with his family again. In that moment, he fully understands how blessed he is and is truly thankful for all he has. And just as he was to learn, we typically learn later how much more we are blessed than what we first realize. Standing in his living room, he finally understands that one of his greatest blessings are those relationships which surround him in love in his hour of greatest need.

Peace and thanks for reading

40 Day Journey – with Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Day 1

I am doing a 40 day devotional series with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I thought as I do so, I would take the opportunity to journal as I travel through this 40 day journey. This is primarily for me, but hopefully, there will be something that others can learn as they follow along. You can create your own journal and do your own devotional through Biblegateway. The link to the devotional is here – 40 Day Journey – with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Day 1 – so day 1 starts with a familiar passage, one that we often times see on bumper stickers and hear preached from the pulpit at least a couple of times a year.

Matthew 11:28-30 – 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

These three verses make up the greatest challenge for the Christ follower. Submission to take on Christ’s burden. On the surface, anyone who reads it thinks sure, sign me up for that. Who doesn’t want to have rest? The promise of an easy and light burden to carry forth seems quite attractive, especially the older we get. But what is the yoke? the burden? If it’s so easy and light, how come we don’t see more people who are content, or seem at peace with life?

I’m not a Bible scholar but the yoke for me or the burden is for me to follow Christ wherever He leads and while doing so, loving others and sharing with them, the truths about Jesus. In all three of these areas, I fail more times than not. At times, I know that I am following the path that Christ has for me to follow and there is a wonderful sense of peace and contentment. There are also times where I look at my day and see how I was able to demonstrate love through encouragement, physically helping or just being a good listener for someone. My greatest area of weakness, is my willingness to share the truths about Jesus. I’ve had moments where I’ve been able to share my story of what Christ has done for me or been given the opportunity to teach and engage others about our savior. But far too often, I ignore the promptings and let the moment pass.

In John 15:1212 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

There’s the burden, just one command that seemingly trips all of us up. Just love each other and you will find rest in Jesus. For the Christ follower we have already experienced Christ’s love for us in accepting that He chose to die for our sins and we commit ourselves to be His disciples. Yet, we tend to complicate everything by forgetting to keep it simple. We self impose standards that we can’t meet or worse, allow others to impose their standards on us and therefore get caught up in one burden after another trying to achieve an unattainable goal.

There is but one standard to strive for and that is Jesus. It really is true that for a lot of people, we represent who Jesus is and what He’s about. I pray that this day forward, that all who cross my path will see through me, that Jesus loves them and that He wants to have a personal relationship with each of them.

One component that I’m thinking about as I wrap this post up is my willingness to follow Jesus….wherever that may lead. How willing am I to truly do this? I will write more on this tomorrow but for now I need to think on this question for the remainder of today.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Scott

Life Lessons

Below you will find various posts I have made over the past couple of years in regards to life lessons I have learned. Anything from Time Management, Serving Others and Music and Dancing.

These are just some of things I’ve discovered over the years. Please share any comments or if there is a life lesson you’ve learned over the years.

Thanks

A Story to Share

It’s been six months since I have written anything. Some of that’s due to writer’s block which I get on occasion and some of it’s because life simply happens to steal all of your time. Honestly though, the greater hindrance for me has been related to two themes. The first being that I have some deep, personal issues that I would love to write about but it would involve me writing about extended family members and that’s just something I’m not willing to do.

The other theme for a long time has simply been that I just don’t want to share too much of myself with others. The easy, superficial material is easy to cover. Sharing stories about my kids or relaying moments of parenting greatness and also those mistakes I have made are a lot of fun to write and hopefully, as helped others over the years. But to truly show any vulnerability has been off limits thus far.

This past Sunday I was given the chance to lead in facilitating a class at church. I pointed out to the group that it has been my experience and therefore, my belief, that when God allows us to experience trials and tribulations in our walk with him, it usually serves two purposes (there are probably more but…). One purpose is that He is trying to grow us in some way to be more like Christ. The other is not so obvious but at times can be a critical component of us growing in our faith.

This other purpose, as I know it, is that we are to share our story with others. Both the good and bad. I’m not talking about updating your social media of choice, although at times, that could be appropriate to do. I’m talking about being in tune enough with the people around you so that you can recognize the opportunities that you have to share your story. As I see it, our story really is a reflection of our faith.

For some their story reflects their faith in either themselves, family, work or any number of things. Regardless, we all demonstrate our faith in something. Others, as you look at their life, you see their faith story revolves around Christ. It permeates every junction of their life. You may not be able to describe it necessarily but it’s tangible and you recognize it.

So back to class, as I was relating this message, which I’ve done multiple times with various groups and individuals, I was convicted that I need to be doing more of this myself. In one on one situations, I have always been willing to share my story. My wife would say a little to willing at times. Now I recognize that I am to share my story through any platform that God provides for me, including my writing.

Our faith is a process, a journey as we develop and grow. And for each of us we have a responsibility to share our story with each other whenever possible. The ups and downs that we experience along our journey are to be shared with others. Someone you know needs to know that they are not alone, they can get through this, or maybe just that you are there to support them.

Here’s a profound thought, at least for myself, we each have a unique story that is truly our own but eerily similar to any number of people we may know. But my story and your story are just chapters in a much greater masterpiece which is God’s story.

So as I begin this new intent or purpose if you will, to be more open, transparent in my daily walk, I will look to do so in my writing. I’m have no idea how this will work or that I’m fully committed to this as of yet, but I know I have to start somewhere and just be obedient to do this. Ah! maybe I’ll start there, being obedient. The times I’ve done this and many, many times I haven’t. That would definitely show some vulnerability.

Anyway, will see what happens.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

A Story

I think I’ve reached that time in life that seems to happen to individuals who are usually in their 60’s, 70’s or later. You know, when they reach that age where they don’t care what they say or how they say it. In some cases, they really don’t care if it hurts your feelings or not, they just want to make sure you hear their opinion. They don’t make apologies and/or excuses, they are just stating their view point on whatever the topic is.

I would love be at that point but honestly, I’m not. Not yet anyway but definitely closer with each passing day. In the last two weeks I have had the opportunity to experience two totally different times of life while continuing to live my own. Two weeks ago at this time, I was wrapping up our first night of Church time at the youth camp our church students were attending for the week.

I knew that I had a theme that I wanted to introduce the students and was basically trying to lay the groundwork for the week ahead. My hope was for each student, no matter what grade they were in, to grasp the concept that the week they were beginning to embark on, could represent a new chapter in the rest of their lives. As I looked out on the faces of these young people I could see them begin to contemplate their respective futures. The room was filled with future wives and husbands; bankers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, homemakers, missionaries and any number of things all in that room together.

Obviously with the first night of camp everyone is excited and anxious for the week to unfold. These young people had a look of expectancy about them. They knew and understood that the week could hold great promise/change for them. For others it was if they were waiting for affirmation of choices they had already made. I could see, sense all of this as I looked out on this room of the future. Each of them with their own story to write and I was overwhelmed with the potential that was listening to me intently.

Last Monday night, I spent the night at mom and dad’s house keeping mom company. Dad had been admitted to Cobb General earlier in the day, so I took mom home to eat and hopefully get a good nights rest. I was praying that Dad would also be able to rest and that we might be able to get some answers early the next morning as to what was going on. As mom retired for the night, I poured myself some tea and tried to find some junk food to eat but to no avail. I settled for a PB&J and a little milk.

As time begin to pass by I found myself recollecting on the previous week and all the promising futures I got to be with. I spent several minutes praying for all the kids and some specific requests that I had been made aware of during the week. I found myself thinking about my own life and some of the promises I held when I was 18. Being in mom and dad’s house made that easy to think on and reflect.

I wandered through the minefields of my memory and found myself thinking about my parents life and the stories they have written thus far – individually and together. I must say as I went through this exercise I found myself  realizing how great their journey has been. What struck me the most was to realize how much impact their life – their story has had on those around them.

Back to camp my mind drifted and how I wish I had conveyed to all those students just how much their lives could impact the world. The choice is truly theirs! Yes, they will all have obstacles to overcome and some battles will be lost but the impact they will have on the world around them is theirs to decide. Then that quiet voice that I truly hate to hear from sometimes, whispered in my ear; what about you?

What about me?, I thought. I’m trying to do my thing, be a positive influence on the world around me. Live my life in a way that reflects Christ in all that I do. So as I sat in the wee hours of the morning pondering over all these things, I realized there’s more to my own story. Being honest with myself I admit that I have been writing the same chapter for awhile now. Time to begin a new chapter. What this looks like I have no idea but I do know that I am the only one who can write it.

So for any students that may read this – I am accepting the same challenge I gave to you all at camp. What is God’s plan for my life? I will seek Him and search for the answers. I know they are there – I just have to be diligent to do my part.

I’ll continue my journey of the last two weeks later but for now I’ll leave all of you with this question/challenge – Are you writing the story that was meant for you to write? Or is time for you to begin a new chapter? a different story?

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Jeremiah 29:11 – 11 For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Ephesians 2:10 – 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Life Lesson Series – Choose to Love

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I wonder how many people woke up this morning and decided that today would be a day to hate other people. To purposefully seek out opportunities where they might have the opportunity to hurt others; either by word or action. My hope would be that no one would intentionally start their day in this manner but unfortunately we live in a world where this type of thing happens far too often.

Conversely, how many of us woke up this morning and as we were drinking our coffee, decided that today would be a day where we consciously seek out opportunities to love others; either by deeds or simply sharing an encouraging word with others. Or were we already running frantic and simply didn’t have time to contemplate anything other than getting out the door to start our day.

My point is that we have to be purposeful in choosing what our attitudes will be during the course of any given day. My fear is that more times than not, we simply go through the motions of living life with the single purpose of just getting through the day. I must admit that even for myself, this tends to happen far more than I would like to think. How different would my and your days look if we simply chose to love.

If Christ is truly within us, then shouldn’t our lives be a testament of the Love that He has for us? Jesus is a seeker of opportunities to share His love with everyone. Should that not be our desire as well? Here is what we forget. For some, their view of Jesus will be directly influenced by our actions; in both word and deed. When we choose not to love others, we are choosing to sin against God.

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment – His response was this – Matthew 22:37 – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So what will we choose to do this day. Will we choose to love others as Christ loves us (and them) or maybe we’re undecided, have too much going on to think about it, so we choose not to choose. Here’s the thing as I see it – if we choose not to choose, we are still deciding not to love!!

My prayer is that each day, the Lord will make fresh in my heart a desire to love others. That through me, others would see the love that Christ has for them. Or to say it another way, this song is perfect – please give it a listen.

by Shawn McDonald – All I Need

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson Series – serving continued

Beautiful-Examples-Of-Love-High-Resolution-Photos-7

I ended the last post saying that Love was another component to serving others. I have not always had a desire to serve others. Actually, for most of my life, my desire was to see how I could get others to serve me. Ok, that was a little sobering to actually type out but being honest, that is the truth. Now there have been times over the years where I willingly gave of my time, money or other resources without regard to what was in it for me but not very often.

Several years ago I remember hearing this verse in a sermon and was immediately captivated by it: Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, God’s son, came to serve us and give is life as payment for our sins. Why did He do this? What was his motivation in serving us and ultimately giving his life in exchange for us? A love so great, so vast that even infinity doesn’t come close to measuring it. A love which desires to be in fellowship with you and I, regardless of our transgressions. Imagine someone loving and caring about you so much that nothing, not even death would ever deter them from having that relationship with you.

That’s exactly the kind of love Jesus has for you. We only need to accept what is truly the perfect gift. Once we do, we can begin to faintly understand the depths of His love. It is His love found within that compels me to serve others as He served us. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, seeking opportunities to help those in need. The tendency of most people when they see something about helping those in need is to think about those folks that may need help with material things such as money, food, shelter, clothing, etc. And yes, that’s part of it but to only focus on that aspect is to not fully engage in serving each other.

What about those who are in need of companionship, a word of encouragement or to feel needed. Surely all of us would agree that each of us desire to know that we are loved, at least a little. So maybe instead of asking how we may be able to serve one another, maybe we should ask how can we show love, one to another.  1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

As faithful stewards. Faithful meaning to do what we are called to do. Steward meaning to wisely use what we have been given. To serve others, extending God’s grace in all it’s forms, that we may show others that God loves them. Jesus was real clear about this as we find when reading Matthew 22:37-39  – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson 2 – Serving continued

I ended the last post saying that Love was another component to serving others. I have not always had a desire to serve others. Actually, for most of my life, my desire was to see how I could get others to serve me. Ok, that was a little sobering to actually type out but being honest, that is the truth. Now there have been times over the years where I willingly gave of my time, money or other resources without regard to what was in it for me but not very often.

Several years ago I remember hearing this verse in a sermon and was immediately captivated by it: Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, God’s son, came to serve us and give is life as payment for our sins. Why did He do this? What was his motivation in serving us and ultimately giving his life in exchange for us? A love so great, so vast that even infinity doesn’t come close to measuring it. A love which desires to be in fellowship with you and I, regardless of our transgressions. Imagine someone loving and caring about you so much that nothing, not even death would ever deter them from having that relationship with you.

That’s exactly the kind of love Jesus has for you. We only need to accept what is truly the perfect gift. Once we do, we can begin to faintly understand the depths of His love. It is His love found within that compels me to serve others as He served us. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, seeking opportunities to help those in need. The tendency of most people when they see something about helping those in need is to think about those folks that may need help with material things such as money, food, shelter, clothing, etc. And yes, that’s part of it but to only focus on that aspect is to not fully engage in serving each other.

What about those who are in need of companionship, a word of encouragement or to feel needed. Surely all of us would agree that each of us desire to know that we are loved, at least a little. So maybe instead of asking how we may be able to serve one another, maybe we should ask how can we show love, one to another.  1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

As faithful stewards. Faithful meaning to do what we are called to do. Steward meaning to wisely use what we have been given. To serve others, extending God’s grace in all it’s forms, that we may show others that God loves them. Jesus was real clear about this as we find when reading Matthew 22:37-39  – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

Peace and thanks for reading!!

I’m Back – Life Lesson 2 – Serve Others


serving-hands

What does it mean to serve others? How would you answer that question? Go ahead, take a second and see what kind of answer you come up with.

To serve others is not a natural act for most. In the american culture especially, we are taught early on to take care of ourselves, and look out for number one. How many of us woke up this morning, looked through our calendar and were reminded that at 2:00 pm today, we had an appointment to serve somewhere? Or if I asked you to name the last time you performed an act of service for someone, how far back would you have to go?

To serve others to me means, simply putting someone else ahead of yourself. For men, this can be as easy as opening the door for a lady (yes ladies, I do understand that you don’t need us to do that), but why did being a gentlemen go out of style? Or maybe offering up our seat to someone who is in need. To put others first just doesn’t sound right…maybe that’s why on Sunday morning people are reluctant to slide in to the middle and give up that outside chair to people arriving late. If they wanted to sit at the end of the isle, they should get here earlier. Is it really that big a deal to let someone merge in front of you on the highway?

I can hear some of you now…Scott, these are simple acts of kindness. Ok, when was the last time you performed a simple act of kindness? I know some of you who know me, thought I was going to get into “big” acts of serving others – like, providing food to food banks, working at soup kitchens or volunteering at a local nursing home. Well, be patient, I will. Seriously though, when did simple kindness to one another become taboo?

The other aspect of serving I think is critical is how often does serving cost us something or is an inconvenience but we do it anyway. And please hear me, I am not saying these things have to take place  before you call it serving. I bring it up to maybe serve as a challenge. There are those for whom it is easier to write a check to the local food bank rather than to volunteer and serve a day, working at the food bank. If this is true for you, I would challenge you to see if you really could take a day to serve at the food bank. Likewise, if you feel led to buy groceries for somebody but know it’s going to be tight for yourself to do so, take the risk and buy them anyway.

I have always supported mission trips both prayerfully and financially when able but had never gone a trip myself. I had also heard that once you go on a mission trip, your world will change forever. To be honest, I didn’t really believe that….until I went on my first mission trip, which was to Haiti a couple of years ago. I will never be able to look at the world around us and not remember that there are people around the globe struggling this very hour to simply stay alive. Furthermore, the community in which I live, helps to make up the globe and likewise, has people struggling everyday to keep their heads above water.

We are called to serve others and whether we choose to do so by performing simple acts of kindness daily or going on monthly mission trips around the globe – in each act of service we do for others, we help to make the world a little better place.

I already know I will be writing a part 2 to this. There’s one more component to serving…..Love. Till next time.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Why bother?

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The longer I live the more I find myself asking the question…Why? Why do Cub fans get excited every spring and think that yes, finally, this is their year? Why is it that the things that taste the best are the worst for you and vice versa? Why is Taylor Swift nominated for best female artist year after year? Why do the police insist being on the highway whenever I am late to get somewhere? Why can we name the starting lineup for all the sports team we root for but can’t remember that guys name that lives next door? If family is the most important thing, why is it so easy for us to let other things keep us from them?

Why don’t more parents actually parent their kids instead of trying to be friends with them? Why did you just get upset while reading that last sentence? Why do we insist on “adjusting” the standards of what’s acceptable downward? Why do weather forecasters get to keep their job when they are so often wrong? But then again, why do we celebrate all-star hitters who actually fail 70% of the time at their job? Why did striving to be the best you can be become such a negative thing to pursue?

Why did we allow ourselves to become so disconnected with our communities? Why do we not hold ourselves to the standards that we hold others to? Why do atlanta sport fans show up late to games and leave well before they are over? Why do I insist on spending more than I actually make? Why don’t we take time to get to know one another? Why did Garth Brooks quit making music? Why doesn’t Taylor Swift quit making music? (I KNOW, THAT”S TWO SHOTS I’VE TAKEN AT TAYLOR)

Why? I think it’s time each of us started asking ourselves, why? I think we have allowed ourselves to go through the motions of living life and not ACTUALLY, LIVING our lives. Have we become complacent with the world around us and quit asking the hard questions and most importantly, taking action when needed. Why do we so willingly accept mediocrity? No, I am not angry with anyone or anything. Just being reflective this afternoon and asking myself what do I want the rest of my life to look like?

I listened to a message this past Sunday where the question was – what if you have 1 month to live? what changes would you make? how would you live the next 30 days? So, anyway, as I was thinking about that, I found myself asking – why don’t I live every day like  it’s my last? My intention is to start doing just that, living each day the best that I can so that 30 years or 3o days from now, I won’t be asking myself, why didn’t I change?

Peace and thanks for reading!!