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!!

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!!

What is God’s Will for My Life?

I left off the last post with the question, What is God’s Will for My Life? You here this question or statement a lot while hanging out with Christians, usually something like – “if you could pray for me, I am praying that I would do God’s will”. Or maybe you hear – “I feel strongly that this the path God has laid out before me”. I wonder how many of us truly do know what God’s will for our life is? Has Dr. Del Tackett asked the question, I begin to ask that of myself. Am I truly following His path for my life?

He then got into this kind of open thought process: If only God had made it simple for us. Maybe if there was just one law that we had to obey, maybe then we could know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Maybe if Jesus had just narrowed it down for us we have a better chance of coming closer to be in God’s will. It was a clever way for the Doctor to infuse some scripture into the conversation as he asked us to look at some different verses. The first was James 2:8 – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds pretty simple, do this and we are doing right. Why is this so hard for us? I mean, I like most people, and I can get along with just about anybody, but love them? like myself? That’s not so easy. Let’s look at another verse – Matthew 22: 37-40 – 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] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Now Jesus is answering a question posed by the Pharisees which was – what is the greatest commandment. Jesus makes it simple for them and us to understand – with all YOUR HEART, all YOUR SOUL and all YOUR MIND, Love the Lord your God. Got it and that one I can do. Love God, yes, I do love God so I can follow this commandment and I am good to go. But wait, there is another couple of verses in His answer. Verse 39 He says “the second is like it:”. Like it, let’s see, that means it’s just as critical as the first one and then we read again – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Well there it is again, the whole loving the neighbor thing. But wait, what is a neighbor, surely that can’t mean everyone, just those we really know, right?  I want another verse please, maybe there’s an exception or something.

John 13:34 – 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I  have loved you, so you must love one another. Love one another and not just love like you love ice cream on a hot sunny day or maybe like you love milk gravy on your biscuits. Jesus is crystal clear when he says “As I have LOVED YOU”. To love others as Jesus loved me, can that really be what God’s will for my life is. I believe it is, no, I know it is, think how much different my life, your life would be if we, as Christ followers would actually obey these two commandments.

To accomplish this will take lots of courage, a willingness to make ourselves vulnerable and going back to last weeks post we already know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Sure we can try on our own strength but truly, it is only through Christ that we can ever reach a place that we LOVE OTHERS as HE LOVED US.

As we enter into Easter weekend, I think it’s a perfect time to reflect on just how Jesus loved us. He took all our short comings, faults, and sins to the cross and willingly gave His life, a perfect life for ours. Remember this, Jesus had never known separation from God but He knew that would be price to pay for all of our sins. And He did it anyway!! Through Jesus, we know that we will not be separated from God for all eternity. Because Jesus loved us, we can love others.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

People are just people – 11/8/12

As we got into the teaching time with the students, you could sense their excitement in having new people come to share with them. As I looked around the room, all of them had their bibles out and were on the front edge of their seats and all eyes looking forward. Initially I was nervous as I opened up our study time but that quickly vanished as we read some scripture and I begin speaking about what we had just read. It was such a pleasure to be up in front of these guys as you could just tell they were trying to soak up every word and being very attentive. With this group it was very easy to stand and speak about the things of God.

After my piece, I turned it over to Jimmie and he led the rest of our study time and truly did a phenomenal job in the short time he had to extol his wisdom. Faith Bradbury joined Jimmie for a short segment and talked to the kids about different ways to share the story of Jesus. As she was leading this time, you could see the kids really come to life as this is what is near and dear to all of them. Unlike most Christians that I know here in the states and including myself, we don’t always seem to have the same drive, desire to tell others about the good news of Christ.

When you talk to these kids, there is a common thread intertwined within each of them. Although each have experienced turbulent childhoods they choose not to dwell there. When you talk to them individually, you can see that most of them come from a very dark time in their past – it’s in their eyes, their voice and you can just feel it but then, like a switch, as they begin talking about God, Jesus and Bridge 4 Hope, you see all the darkness, the pain just fade away and you realize there is an entirely different person standing in front of you.

This is what they haven’t forgotten – that when all seemed hopeless or that no one seemed to care, they were able to find hope and know that someone did love and care about them through Jesus Christ. And they understand, that there are countless others within their family, community, Cape Town, and across the world that feel the same way they did, so they take every opportunity that comes to tell others about Christ. They live Matthew 28:18-20 as they go about their daily routine of life.

After lunch, we all gathered back in the classroom to get our assignments from Asanda before heading out into the community to talk, listen, pray and tell others about Jesus. The excitement expressed by everyone was palpable as their was an expectation that good things were about to happen. My partners were two of the most incredible young ladies I have ever met – Abongile and Bomikazi. I was about to learn a lesson in what trust, courage and boldness really looks like and see, for the first time in a long time, how God can change lives if we would just be willing to live Matthew 28:18-20.

Going door to door is so far out of my comfort zone and is something I have rarely taken part in when given the chance in the past. As we walked to the community I was reminded of my prayer, that I would be open to follow and commit to whatever God wanted me to do, so here it is, something I wouldn’t choose to do but hey, were here, so let’s do this. As we approached the first house, I realized that I wasn’t really nervous, I was curious to see what would unfold. AB and Bom showed no nervousness, fear or even apprehension as they stuck their head in the first door and asked if it was ok to come in.

As I watched Bom engage the young lady in conversation, I was struck by the confidence she had and then noticed that AB was right behind her looking just as confident and ready to speak if need be. No tracks, no phamplets, just two people wanting to share a conversation with the folks they had just met. Although they were speaking in a language unfamiliar to me, I was amazed at how much of the conversation I was able to follow. As the conversation was winding down, AB asked a simple question – “do you know about Jesus?”. And although they said they did, they didn’t want to talk about it so Bom asked if it would be ok if we prayed for them and if there was anything specific we could pray for on their behalf.

I watched in amazement as house after house, these two ladies would engage the people in conversation and as they talked with them, I was able to watch their faces and noticed how intently focused they were on the task at hand. Nothing else mattered except what was before them and the desire they had to help people make a connection to Jesus.

Making our way from house to house, God was impressing on me on just how beautiful His creation of people truly is. 4 weeks later and I can still recall each and everyone that I met that afternoon. Seeing people through God’s eyes means that you see them through LOVE! And as I met these wonderful people, I saw beauty in each of them and my sole desire for each of them was that they would be open to hear about Christ and to know that He truly is somebody that loves and cares about them.

For AB and Bom, they had no idea of the impact they made on my life that day. They reminded me that day that I have no excuses for not sharing my story of what Christ has done in my life. To see how boldly, and courageously these young women were at their sharing their faith, renewed a sense of urgency within me and empowered me to know that God is faithful and that His word never returns void.

Not sure if I have 1 or 2 more posts left about our trip to South Africa but will definitely wrap up by week’s end.

Peaceful, Easy Feeling – 11/5

The following was written on the plane ride home from Paris to Atlanta.

Monday was a hard day with trying to get last minute details worked out for my time away while anxiously awaiting 3 pm to arrive so we could leave for the airport. I spent a lot of the morning listening to MercyMe and Kari Jobe worship songs. Kari’s Revelation song is one of those songs that gets to me no matter how often I hear it.

I was thinking about what lay ahead and was most excited about getting the opportunity to work with young people between the ages of 18 to 28, in their environment. I was also excited about seeing South Africa for the first time as I have always heard how beautiful it was. I have always enjoyed traveling, seeing new things and meeting new people. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures – meeting new people but one I think too many people take for granted.

I was more than a little anxious about this trip even though I have traveled out of the country on several occasions before. I have never shared this publicly before but I seem to suffer from a condition from which I am not sure what it’s called or even if there is a name for it but I call it US Separation anxiety. The symptoms are thus: as soon as I step foot on the ground in another country I begin to suffer something like an anxiety attack. Nothing full blown or anything but just an overwhelming, uneasy feeling that resides within me until I am able to once again put my feet on US soil.

So now, I was about to go half way around the world for 9 days – all the while wondering if I was going to make it without freaking out. And not be able to focus on the work at hand. The flight over was uneventful outside of the turbulence we experienced the first couple of hours. I didn’t experience any weird feelings and was able to get some much needed rest.

As we approached Cape Town, I could feel the uneasyness beginning to creep into my thoughts. Instead of trying to calm myself down, I simply began praying that God would affirm the trip in my spirit and remove the uncomfortable feeling I was having. In that same instance, I felt God’s peace envelope my spirit and it is with me now has I write this some 9 days later and 5 hours from landing back in Atlanta.

I know some of you have felt God’s calling/prompting to take a mission trip and for whatever reason, you haven’t quite made it yet. I hope this will be an encouragement to you and just know that God is greater than any perceived or real problem/issue you may face!!

Peace and thanks for reading!!

I am asking you to go.

Hard to describe the mood I am in today. Realizing that I now have a little over a week to be fully prepared is starting to sink in a little. Our team is actually meeting tonight to go over our agenda, game plan for our time in Cape Town. I think after tonight I will be able to relax a little knowing that we have a game plan – see, it’s always better for me once I have a plan because then I can just starting working the plan, my checklist.

Our men’s Bible Study this morning was really good. We are methodically working our way through the book of Romans and today we were in chapter 4 – Abraham justified by faith. For me, it was a good reminder that above everything, I need to hold to my faith; faith that God loves me and only wants what is best for me – according to His purpose. Abraham demonstrated great faith in believing in the promises that God laid before him.

This was demonstrated by Abraham when God instructed him to offer his son as a sacrifice to God. I would like to think that I would have that kind of faith… but honestly, I mean, ok, let me get this straight God, I am to take my son whom you promised me and now return him to you? How does this exactly fulfill the other promise of making me the father of many nations? Those would be the questions I would have but for Abraham it was a simple matter of obedience – he knew God’s will and chose to follow.

That’s a serious faith!! To willingly choose to follow God’s will when it doesn’t make sense and comes at great price or at least an inconvenience to us, takes discipline and a desire to truly want to please God. I’m not there yet but I am working on it.

This trip represents for me another step in my faith walk with Christ. I can give so many reasons why this trip doesn’t make sense for me to go. But as I go through the reasons why I think I shouldn’t go, I hear the Spirit telling me but I am asking you to go. But what about….I am asking you to go. I understand but what about….I am asking you to go. But Lord, what if…… I am asking you to go.

So…..I will go!

Peace and thanks for reading!

South Africa Mission 11-4-12

I am so excited, as I have recently learned that I will have the opportunity to take part in a mission trip, in which we are partnering with Hope Africa Collective. Myself along with four others will be traveling to Cape Town, South Africa on November 5th to take part in the work being done there.

Mission trips in general, are always good but I am really excited about the opportunity that this one presents, as it offers, in addition to evangelical opportunities, the chance for me to utilize my computer skills to teach local students on how to use various software and other tools on their computers. And to know this is part of Bridge for Hope’s larger mission in “We exist to equip African individuals to be the catalyst of change in their society and to build sustainable communities together.” is very exciting.

I love the approach that Bridge for Hope is trying to implement and follow through with in the Cape Town community. Too many times I feel that we fall short with our “mission trips” by not providing the means or equipping those who live there to sustain long after the trip has ended. And for me, to know that I get to play a part in helping individuals to have the potential to better their quality of life is both humbling and exciting.

I have been in constant prayer about the upcoming trip – to be open to letting God use me and our team in whatever capacity is needed while we are there and beyond! Praying for those that we will be privileged, to not only meet, but work with and share a little of our life together. Praying for our team to have strength, wisdom, and patience for the spiritual battles that are sure to come as we make this journey. Praying for others who might read this or hear about our trip, to join in praying for us, as well as the folks who have committed to live in South Africa and work as part of Bridge for Hope International team.

Obviously, with any trip of this magnitude, there is a cost to get there and for each of us on the team the cost will be $2,400.00. I originally was compelled to say no to this opportunity because of the cost but I knew and know that I am called to make this journey. As I was working through whether or not to take this trip, I was convicted that even though every part of me knew this was something I was being called to do – that my initial response, concern was about the cost and not the mission.

Obedience is a funny thing. I am ok with obedience as long as it is convenient for me and doesn’t require me to put my faith to the test… So through prayer and council, I decided to have faith and take the journey. All I can say at this point is that ever since I committed to following God’s lead and saying yes to the trip, I have been overwhelmed with peace.

So today, October 10, I now find myself like a young child at Christmas who continually wakes up during the night just hoping that the time has come to see what’s under the tree. I now anxiously await November 5th so I (we) can begin our journey!

My plan is to post something here everyday until my return from South Africa so be looking for the updates if you are interested in sharing this journey. And I do hope that you will join in praying for us and Bridge for Hope.

Additionally, if you would like to help financially, you can mail your checks to Sugar Hill Church, 5091 Nelson Brogdon Blvd., Sugar Hill, GA 30518. Please make checks payable to Sugar Hill Church. If you wish to receive a tax credit, the memo line on check must be left blank. You can drop a note in the envelope designating who the funds are intended to support.

Peace and thanks for reading!!