Like Paul, I Found Joy Amidst Devastating News

Joy From Philippians

One of the greatest types of joy I have in life is being a husband and a dad. I’ve told my wife from the time that I saw our relationship growing deeper that I guess I was the odd teenager growing up. We did not have much as kids but I also never wanted for anything either. So when I looked at what goals I wanted in my life, it was simple. I wanted to be a good husband and a good dad. That’s it. Simple goal but hard to obtain. Anyone can father a child that is a biological process but to be a dad it takes so much more.

That is a saying I have seen and lived. I come from a household where my dad is not my biological father, but he has been there since I was two. My father was an ephemeral figure in my life as a kid. We would spend a night there randomly and once we went on a vacation to Ocean City, MD. It was not until I was older and had my car that I spent significant time with my biological father. I worked at Burger King, and after we closed, I would drive to downtown Baltimore and hang out at the place he worked at as a cook.

Fast forward to today, I am married to an amazing woman who is my soul mate. She drives me to be a better man, a better husband and the best dad that I can be. She had two children from a previous marriage when we met, and now I find myself in the same position my dad was in when he and my mom got together.

This was unintentional on my part, I had given up hope on finding someone and having a family, but God knew better than that. He knew like he had known before I was formed that being a dad was my dream in life. In that moment where I had in my heart decided that if this next date did not pan out, I was done. I would live as a bachelor and just throw myself into my career and tuck away all notions of romance.

God’s Providence

God desires to show His power through your storm, but is your lack of faith keeping Him from doing so? God brings storms into your life to show His strength and to gain glory from His providence.

Paul Chappell

Before I get into the devastating news I had earlier this year, part of which made me unsure of continuing to write here; I want to talk about what we mean by God’s Providence. Providence is a combination of two Latin words; the first is  “pro” which means “forward” or “On behalf of” and “vide” which is Latin for “to see.”

So when we think of Providence, it should mean “to support, or to supply what is needed.” If it is God’s Providence, then we are proclaiming that God has provided support, sustenance or what it is we need for the season we are experiencing. Sometimes that providence is his non-action because of the learning and growth we get from difficult but not impossible trials.

God’s providence in my life starts with Jesus. He’s given the ultimate sacrifice for my reconciliation with him. That providence began with the fall of man in Genesis and does not end, ever. He supplied Israel time and time again in the Old Testament. He supplied the world with unending grace through the bloodshed of his son. We can lose sight of that Providence in the day to day grind of life, but it has never been more clear to me than it has been lately. I would not have a better understanding of this providence were it not for Ryan Huguley, and the time he was at Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory. I’ll get into that in a moment. This next part is me peeling back the armor, exposing my heart to you in a way I have not done before.

Devastating News

We have two amazing kids and were considering a third because we felt our hearts and family could certainly expand to love more. So we began trying and spent time making sure we were doing things at the right time etc. Adult stuff. After 8 or 9 months I decided to go to a urologist and see if there were any issues. What I was told after examinations and several tests is that I have a condition called necrozoospermia. Necrozoo-what? Yeah, me too. What that meant is that my body manufactures sperm, but they are all dead. Their tails don’t wag, and so they can’t swim.

So what is the rate for complete necrozoospermia? 0.2-0.5% of men have it. An almost infinitesimal chance and I hit the lottery in the worst kind of way. I had thought about this many times as an adult and my desire to have a family, would I be able to? The doubt was from an incident when I was playing Little League Baseball, back before kids wearing a jock strap was a thing. My cousin was mad about something I had done and came up to me and kicked me as hard as he could in the genitals with a pair of baseball cleats on. I was taken to the hospital for that, and my whole region was black and blue for weeks.

Back to now, the doctor told me that incident caused primary testicular failure. I can’t have children without assistance. It would cost roughly $15,000 for even a chance to harvest sperm and egg then perform In Vitro Fertilization. We are nowhere near that well off to be able to afford that so my chances of having a child with my wife are zero. I was devastated. I left the urologist and did the ugly cry in the car before I called my wife to tell her something I did not want to talk about.

Paul’s Joy and Content

I cannot express the gratitude I have for Ryan enough. He was the first pastor in a long time that inspired me. When you meet Ryan, you will find a man full of God’s word, Jesus’s love and the compassion that only the Holy Spirit can provide. It is through his preaching that I know the means of finding joy in dire circumstances.

When he was at Harvest, he went through a series titled, ‘Everyday Joy – A Study of Philippians’ you can find it here on Vimeo, Everyday Joy Series. It was and has been my retreat when things look stormy, or I am suddenly in the midst of something that challenges my faith. To suddenly discover that I could not have children was both of those. The whole, testing and waiting and eventually finding out. It was hard to come to terms with it.

Consider Paul’s situation as he writes to the church in Philippi, he has spent almost four years in prison (Philippians 1:12-18). Why? Because he was preaching the truth and following Jesus. Yet, in that time he rejoices and proclaims that even if he is sentenced to death, he will rejoice (Philippians 2:17-18). Why? Because Paul learned to be content with his condition, whatever it may be (Philippians 4:11)

Coming to Terms

I know that I have been given grace beyond measure and certainly something I do not deserve. I try to teach that to my children that humanity is the cause of Christs’ death. If I am given this grace and freedom in Jesus, why am I focusing on not being able to father a child biologically? Am I not an adopted child of God? Yes, yes I am. I did not know that I could never have children, but God knew. That is where his providence comes in and becomes completely humbling.

Is it sad I cannot have children biologically without assistance? Absolutely. Did I feel less a man? Yes, I did. The information I received did not cause me joy it was the exact opposite, but when I take a step back from my immediate emotions, I see something that even as I write this brings water to my eyes.

God knew.

He knew that my life goals were not money or cars or women or drugs. He knew that I would become a man some day and I would want children and provided that in the most spectacular way possible. When I took that view, I became at peace.

It is things like this that leave no doubt that God exists. The cost to have another kid is extraordinary, and there are so many children that need homes. I hope that I can continue to provide a haven, a home that follows Jesus for my children and maybe…just maybe a third that God will put in the path that Bethany and I walk in this life.

This has easily been the most difficult thing I have written to date, but I hope that you can find how God’s providence is present in your life. It is easy to get caught up in the negative emotions that Satan wants us to embrace. That does not mean that you are in a sandpit of despair. God is there, just grab on to him and those trials become contentment because through it all you have Jesus and the salvation he provides.

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It’s OK to Leave a Church…Sometimes

Leave a Church

This is a bit on the nose for my family and I at the moment since we are going through this decision to leave the church we have attended faithfully for 15 months. It is not something that we have taken lightly or out of anger (James 1:19-20). It is something that has lingered in our minds for months and has been discussed over and over with by my wife and I. It is OK to leave a church, you are not trapped and it isn’t always something that is going to burden you with sin. I write this for those seeking an answer to a touchy question but I also write this for myself and the ones I walk through life with that have angst right now as much as I have.

[Leaving] graciously means you refuse to speak evil of those who remain in the church. Look forward, not backward. Focus on your new church, not your old one. Think carefully before you speak about your former congregation. Don’t say anything that could be remotely construed as criticism. Even casual comments could stir up needless controversy. Let the Golden Rule guide all your comments public and private.

Ray Pritchard

Why are you leaving?

This is the most crucial question that must be answered because parting ways with a church is a serious event for any Christian. We are not meant to be in isolation. We should be seeking community (Ephesians 4:11-16). The answer isn’t a simple one and even after we determine why we feel we need to leave we need to ask ourselves if it is righteous.

Leaving because someone hurt your feelings is a great example of why you should not leave a church. We are fallible and a lot of times we are going to capitalize on that ability to fail. Even if we had no intention of doing so. This is part of being human and if a few people hurt your feelings at the church and you leave, it will likely happen again at your next church. Instead of running off you should give forgiveness and seek to reconcile the confrontation.

We should be seeking unity as Christians so pull yourself up by the bootstraps and seek reconciliation. If the door is closed by the other parties and they are unwilling to even discuss what happened that still doesn’t mean run. Instead, serve. Serve in spite of their behavior and do so graciously.

Reasons people leave

There is a loss regardless of whether we determine the reason as “good” or “bad” when someone stops attending a church or seeks another church. Some of the reasons below apply to why we decided to leave and some do not. Some are good reasons in my opinion and some are bad. I’d love to discuss this with others so please feel free to reach out. People have been known to leave a church because;

“Good Reasons”

  • Moving too far away
  • Long-term Missionary Work
  • Escaping false teaching
  • Openly committed and unaddressed sin
  • Power-drunk Leadership
  • and more

“Bad Reasons”

  • Church Size
  • Hurt Feelings
  • Lack of ways to Serve
  • The Church is changing
  • The Church refuses to change
  • You’re leaving/giving up Church entirely

This is a big topic, isn’t it? I hope you weren’t expecting a snack for today, it’s a banquet. There are a lot of reasons and way too many for me to cover because I can’t even think of them all. I just know these are things I have personally used before as reasons, justified or not. Reasons I have come to reconcile with their validity or whether I was just needing a scapegoat.

Don’t Give Up and Leave God

Of all the bad reasons giving up on church entirely is the most dangerous of them. God created us, Jesus commanded us to be a community and leaving that community opens a Christian up to the enemies power. It is open season on a soul.

Change can be positive or negative. How the church handles it really can affect how you are going to feel about whatever that change may be. There are still churches today that believe wholeheartedly that a woman’s place is at home, rearing kids and in a kitchen. If you’ve been at a church for over a month and that wasn’t evident to you. Please open your eyes. They will likely refuse to change that and if you are uncomfortable with that it is even more imperative that you move on.

Leadership

Leadership is hard and changes to leadership are even harder. The morale of a congregation can be shaken when a pastor who has their heart turned so fiercely to God leaves suddenly that people become hurt, angry, afraid and betrayed. Questions are asked, people are shouting, and fiefdoms can form because of it. This is when leadership must step up their game and be honest , opening their heart to those who attend their church. Non-answers to tough questions force your people to question things even more than they already do.

We cannot forget the Pastor who may be leaving the church. As an outgoing authority they are called to gracious exiting. God’s work takes providence over their personal feelings. This is not some cop out but is in fact extremely self-sacrificing because they could stay and fight. They could blast the leadership out of the water over Pharisee-like polity and power mongering. They could. Yet, a man going through God’s great work of sanctification seeks to live as Christ. And that alone is why a Pastor won’t.

Jesus could have lay waste to those who persecuted him. Effortlessly, they could have been gone, nothing, a bookmark in God’s work. Yet he submitted not out of fear but because his mission was of peace and love and forgiveness.

By God’s design, leadership in the church is a position of humility and selflessness. Church oversight is ministry, not management. Those whom God designates as spiritual shepherds are called not to be governing monarchs or slick celebrities, but humble slaves. In submission to Christ, they must exemplify sacrifice, devotion, submission, and lowliness.

John MacArthur

I have struggled with that realization of peace-seeking because of the affection I hold for a Pastor who affected me deeply. The messages that God allowed him to share with us always left me convicted. I never walked out of church feeling like I had heard the same thing by someone else just said marginally different. I am in no way putting a man on a pedestal because he is too humble for that.

What God did do is show me what a Pastor is. Something I’ve sought for over fifteen years. Something I lost and did not know how to find again. I am forever thankful and changed because of that season in my families life.

Leaving Ain’t Easy

When we choose to leave a church we are choosing to leave a portion of the body of Christ. That’s big. Leaving is a lot like a relationship coming to an end. It sure feels like it doesn’t it? There are two perspectives I want to address this final part through. That is the member and non-member of a church but one who attends regularly.

Non-members go through phases just like relationships. New church and it is so exciting! I want to be involved. What can I do to make this greater than great?! It is a lot like you meeting someone on a date you like and decide to continue dating. You start building your life on this and thinking how to show commitment to it. You start serving and getting involved, it’s a lot like you are now engaged. And that is where non-membership ends.

You could leave at any time. Whether it is a righteous reason or something that eventually proves out to be petty. While you committed yourself to the church in many ways, it was not like a membership. I am not placing non-membership in a serving role as less than a member but only highlighting there is a certain level of commitment that is missing from a non-member.

Members of a church have gone through the same steps of excitement, engagement and increased commitment but they took that last leap. They’ve married their desire to serve to that particular body. The church has poured in to them knowledge and trust that their lives meet the church’s barometer for membership.

Members parting should seek leadership and talk about it. Let them know why and pray they seek God’s authority in their leadership and not their own. When you part, do so graciously. Don’t burn bridges and cause a disturbance out of anger. There are people staying there after you are gone.

It’s Not Always Running

If you’ve come to that heart rending decision to part a church and you’ve prayed, given the decision due diligence, prayed some more, discussed it with the leadership, prayed with them. They will need your prayer and if Christ can pray for those murdering him, we surely can swallow our unjust pride and pray for them as well as the situation in general.

Leaving a church for a “good reason” is not running or “going out with a whimper” it is a walk by faith and not by sight.

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I Wish You Were Dead; Powerful Words From a Child

Angry young girl

“I Wish You Were Dead.” – Ella

It is one of those things you never expect your children to say. In fact, it is something they should never say at all. The wishing of the death of someone can be a tragic statement simply because it is an explicit evacuation of love. Imagine for a moment if that is how God felt towards us? The difference between our ability to wish someone dead simply by words and God’s ability is that He could do it. Instead, God gave His son up for sacrifice in lieu of the complete devastation of His creation. That is where God is a perfect father that we can only aspire to be.

Yesterday we stopped at a little place for dinner called Roma Pizza. We grabbed a booth and Eli sat next to me and Ella sat next to Bethany. They take turns on who sits next to momma, no one is ever stoked about sitting next to me. Such is life.

We have to combat the typical behaviors that parents who take their children out to eat must deal with. There is climbing on the booth, peeking over the booth at other people, trying to crawl under the booth. Anything that is not sitting still basically. Eli has this habit of taking his shoes off despite our multiple commands to keep them on and once again he did this. I told him get his shoes off the floor and get them back on.

His cheerful “Okey dokey!” before disappearing under the table gets him out of a lot of trouble. A few moments after he went to put his shoes on, this awful howl of pain came from beneath the table as Ella had kicked him in the knee. Normally this would not be a huge deal and we’d just tell her to apologize and keep her hands (or in this case feet) off of him. The problem is that the knee she kicked him in had a large crusty scab on it from a fall he had taken a week or so ago. His skin split the scab and the wound weeped a bit of blood which threw him in to a new squall of hysterics.

I’m far from a perfect parent  and I’m not going to pretend to be. Ella received the ninja-eyed gaze of an angry daddy because she had already been in trouble before we had entered the restaurant for talking back in a disrespectful manner. So when she kicked his knee I assumed (yeah I know the age old adage) that she had done it to be spiteful. I could have been wrong there, she’s kicked him while he was under the table before, he’s kicked her too, like I said, not a perfect papa.

Regardless of that, she got upset and angry and then uttered words that really break my heart, “I wish you were dead.”

So you take a breath, let it roll off your back even though you may want to breakdown or become angry. Your knee-jerk reaction to that really can be an indicator for how you parent under duress. She put her head down and Bethany rubbed her back. I did not say a word because I know those things were said in anger and she may have felt like she meant them but really she did not. It is an unresolved issue that we will discuss tonight when I get home but I want to use that as a tool to teach her.

I’ve told her before that hate is a very strong emotion and one that was a part of the reasons Jesus was killed. He was challenging the status quo and basically telling the Pharisees, “Guys, you got this all wrong.”

The Pharisees responded with anger, fear and hate. They wished Jesus was dead. The Son of God dead because their pretensions of superior sanctification was more important to them than the word of God. It’s dangerous to pretend that we do not fail or that our skills as parents are so amazing we never have problems at home. It’s dangerous to think we are perfect leaders as men. It’s the same danger the Pharisees refused to see when God walked among them in flesh.

How short is a child’s anger? A minute can pass and they forget what angered them. When it was bedtime Ella hugged me tighter than I think she ever has. That speaks volumes more than her sharp-tongued words ever could. It’s also an example of what Jesus gave us that we so sorely forget, forgiveness. Ella and I will talk about what happened, we will talk about God, we will talk about Jesus and we will talk about His gift.

My wish is that I would rather her understand that gift and how to use it and how to emulate it more than my pains of heartbreak over vapid words said in a moment of difficulty.

Wish Daddy's Girl

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Keeping Christ in Christmas – He Never Left

Christmas

We often talk about ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’ or ‘Putting Christ Back in Christmas’ or another catchy derivative of that. It’s easy to see why we use it. Every year like a bunch of idiots we run to stores looking for deals on items. It was after Thanksgiving and now it’s 6:00PM on Thanksgiving Day instead. So, do we get Little Timmy that toy and skip family time or are we good stewards and let God handle the availability of a gift and spend time with our family that is precious and finite. Those gifts will be there another day folks. Sure, maybe not at that price but they will be there. Saving $30 or family time, think about that.

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Breaking the Shackles of Doubt

Shackles of Doubt

We all have doubt. I doubt myself. I doubt the person who says they’ve never doubted anything. I really doubt the person who says they’ve never doubted God. It’s hard not too when we face a difficult time in our life.

Why is this happening? Why does God allow it to happen? What did I do to be put through this?

All questions we ask ourselves in times where we are experiencing difficulties personally, read in the news or from seeing someone we know go through a trial. It is fear and it is anger that drives these doubts.

My biggest fear isn’t death, it isn’t even whether or not God exists. I know I will die one day and I know God is real. My biggest fear is failure. I fear failing God, my soon to be wife, our children and my family. I fear failing at work or failing my friends. That failure does not paralyze me but it affects how I react to things when I do and also affects the choices I make. Can I risk hours, days and months chasing something while allowing my family to suffer? Well no, no I cannot. Or what if I speak harshly to my children or Bethany? It drives my choices or it did.

God has a way of kicking people in the pants when they really need it. I needed it. I got a kick in the pants. When I set out to write for Just Hold Fast (JHF) I thought big things like people would take an interest and I’d be able to get men together, fellowship and maybe set up some things we could do publicly to spread our cause, to spread the gospel. I’ve spent so much time worrying about helping people that I allowed doubt to creep in. No one is interacting on Just Hold Fast, maybe men won’t peel back that armor and expose their pain as easily as I have seen women do. It isn’t an expectation, it is a hope.

Bitter obedience is just disobedience baptized in right action.

A Seed of Doubt

I walked away from God because I didn’t understand what it meant to love Him like I do now. I didn’t understand what made Him so important. I do now, I ‘get it’ so to speak. Since that fire has been ignited it’s all I’ve wanted to do, share and maybe help someone if God puts it in my path. So I started this, I was overly ambitious and thought I could manage to do a devotional every single day. I could but after some time and doubt I stopped. I hadn’t posted anything for over a week. During that time I became bitter, family and friends who I thought were supportive didn’t notice. So I thought, ‘what’s the point if it doesn’t reach anyone because no one spreads the word?’  Still during all of that I soldiered on albeit bitterly as I started writing again.

A Kick in the Pants

So that kick in the rear I said I got? Came from Ryan Huguley, a man I admire because he gives a straightforward message and it is always something I can take home and reflect on. We are going through Philippians currently, it is a time when Paul is imprisoned yet he finds joy as he writes to the church at Philippi. Paul, who once persecuted Christians with a tenacity that was only surpassed with his conversion and the fanatical love for Christ he eventually showed, was ultimately going to be martyred and yet found joy in his work. The moment Ryan said, ‘Bitter obedience is just disobedience baptized in right action.’ my brain exploded. It had been three weeks since I had done anything related to JHF because I had become fed up. I was writing because I had committed myself to a lofty goal. I was performing right action but my heart was out in left field looking at the grass.

Facing Doubt

I had allowed doubt in what I knew God was wanting for me to creep in because of my own hubris. My need to succeed and to fulfill a prideful mission was blocking the way to glorify God. So what do you do about that? You address the doubt and you seek God for healing. He’s the only one that can heal these deeply seeded things. Talking with people can certainly help relieve the pressure but if that is what you put your faith in then you will face issue after issue because a Godly man is not the solution it is a stopgap. That doesn’t mean men of God cannot help, we can guide someone to God but God does the real work, the real healing. We are advocates of Christ. We are disciples destined to help others find Him. So I had to face that doubt, pray a lot and make sure that I would continue on this path regardless of some tangible reward that is ultimately insufficient for the needs of my soul, of any soul.

Three Verses for Doubt

God provides us everything we need even though we may not need it right then but we may need in the future. So what does the Bible say that can help us combat doubt? It says some very clarifying things that helped me. I pray they help you as well.

1) Listen to the word of God like you have never listened to it before. In Romans 10:17 it says ‘Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ’ (ESV). Put yourself in the path of someone who speaks the word of God in their life, a pastor, a deacon, someone from Church. Don’t allow yourself to stew and become bitter towards God.

2) Read the word of God like you have never read it before. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we are told plainly that all scripture is God’s word and we are also told what it is good for (everything). Correction and reproof are key because when we wander off the path and doubt we definitely need correction.

3) Speak the word of God like you have never spoken it before. When Christ was in the desert being tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-13) it was in a way His right of passage. Immediately after this Jesus began his ministry and began the work that God set into motion after the Fall. During this temptation Jesus consistently defended against the devil by speaking against him using the word of God as his sword. He truly embodied having the whole armor of God (Ephesians 16:10-18).

I don’t know how much it will help exposing myself like this, sharing my doubt. I’m in a place where I don’t care if it affects 100 people or 1 person. God wants me to share myself and I am content with that. I know I will struggle and fail. I am imperfect but if I start to doubt I know I have the wisdom and experience to help myself. If God is willing, maybe I can help others too.

In Christ – Scott

Teaching Forgiveness

Teaching Forgiveness

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. – Colossians 3:13

Kids ask the darnedest things. Sometimes I don’t even know how to answer them in a kid like manner. I was talking to Bethany about that on the way home from a coffee run to Dunkin’ Donuts. While we were driving Elijah asks out of the blue, “Scott, Why did they kill Jesus?” He is deep like that. The death of Christ was terrible and every martyr since has died because people fear the truth and have lived a life of lies. It is one of many reasons that Jesus was slain. So how do you answer that for a child who is only 3 but asks about God and loves God in the way only children can? How do you go about teaching forgiveness in a way that glorifies God without losing the message that Jesus came to give?

Don’t be a Pharisee. You tell them the truth and you live it. You go about teaching forgiveness as Christ does. I struggle with how to answer some of his questions. Not out of lack of knowledge but in how to share it in a way he can comprehend but I think I did alright. He is at that stage where lying is commonplace unfortunately. So why not use that? I told him that people killed Jesus because they were strong and had lots of power . They gained that power by lying about God’s word and using it to make people believe something they couldn’t live themselves. I would be remiss to admit there was an ulterior motive there to teach him not to lie.

I went on to tell him how lying hurts people and that Jesus was killed out of fear. Fear that all the things those powerful people had won falsely would be taken from them. Jesus was teaching us to love one another above all things because God had sent Him out of love to save us. Which led to another question, “Did Jesus love the soldiers who kilt him?” This kid…

He did (Luke 23:34), He asked for their forgiveness even while they slew Him. I still saw no reason to not tell him that. I explained to him that Jesus forgave them for hurting Him, for not knowing what they were doing. Jesus came to save the world, not the Jews, not the believers, everyone (1 John 2:2). We in many ways teach this kind of forgiveness to our kids, or we should. Children are ignorant to the world, many of the things they do and we teach them by forgiving them and telling them why it was wrong.

We have no desire to brag, teaching forgiveness is a cornerstone of rearing Christian children. My children know about the forgiveness of the prodigal son, they know about the parable of the unforgiving servant but most importantly we make sure they know about the forgiveness of Christ.

Forgive like Jesus

Forgive like Jesus

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

This is literally the saddest time in the Bible for me. Christ is unjustly upon a wooden cross between two criminals and at His feet are men gambling for His clothing. These soldiers who unbeknownst to them were fulfilling a prophecy in the Bible (Psalm 22:18). Still Jesus did something I would find hard to do. He asked God to forgive them knowing that they would do this to Him. That is just hard to accept, forgiving those that are in the process of killing you. I can’t find it in my heart to justify the grace they are given because I’m human. Jesus is a better man than me because my nature is to seek revenge even if I know I should not.

Forgive Ignorance

Jesus is forgiving the soldiers, the pharisees, every single person who is involved with the persecution, imprisonment and active participation of His death. Not just for those actions but for their unbelief that He is the Son of God. They were killing the one person who could offer them salvation and they did not even know it. That is why we really do need to be like Jesus when we forgive people who say things and don’t realize it hurts us. This happens fairly often for me on a personal level because I love my kids so much, they who their biological daddy is and sometimes they say things that hurt because they don’t know how much I am dad. I know they love me, I know that if they get hurt and they cry for dad it isn’t me but I pick them up, hold them closely and comfort them. That happens to us all, doesn’t it? People are unaware of who we are or our circumstances current or past. Our seasons are different but we should not lash out in anger. Instead, forgive like Jesus and if you need to, ask them to not joke about whatever was said or done that caused that hurt to flare up.

Freedom in Forgiveness

What do anger, fear and heartache all have in common? Weight. Burden (Psalm 38:4). When you are angry at someone you may feel fine in the moment but after it is passed and it begins seething deep in your soul it becomes dead weight and starts weighing on you. Living a life of fear is suppression of who you truly are. Heartaches are traumatic and hit like a truck with no brakes. Each one of these things evolve after whatever catalyst caused them. They ultimately become burdensome on your soul. God doesn’t want that. Jesus showed us how to combat that. The spirit gives us the strength to win that fight.

If you’ve been saved you know the feeling of having the burden of sin lifted. It is vibrant and enriching, you are no longer condemn to a eternity separated from our Father. If you haven’t made that step in life where you can accept Jesus for the fullness of what He is I urge you to take some time and learn about the burdens He took on Himself so that we may have that chance of redemption. He took the spiritual bullet for us all and endured beatings and pain reserved for the most harmful criminals. His crime was telling the truth of God instead of spreading the lie of man (Matthew 15:14). Yet we want to hold on to things of tangible value because we have the terrible habit of putting value in physical objects and not in Him. When we learn to let go of all of this stuff that we can’t even take with us it is completely liberating.

Final Thoughts

What Christ did is nothing short of extraordinary. He endured hurt, anger, pain, betrayal, heartache, abuse, disrespect and so much more. All of those things he endured in about 3 1/2 years of ministry until He was crucified for it. Even while they were killing Him, Jesus never once complained, fought back or cursed them. Instead He continued shouldering His burden and then He forgave them for not knowing the true transgression they were committing. We cannot forgive like Jesus unless we learn to do the same. He forgave for so much more than some offensive words or someone speaking about a subject we find to not be our cup of tea. Try it, give it over to Him and you’ll feel lighter, you’ll live happier.

Daily Devotional: Get Involved

Get Involved

This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. – Philippians 1:9

The ministry that Jesus built was a call to every person to reach out to someone hurting and broken (Matthew 5:14-16). To show them the gospel and bring them to God through Christ. We know that He is the only way to Heaven. He is the keeper of the key that unlocks the bountiful blessings that God will lavish upon us by living in His will. We need to be involved in more than just Sunday service. Not because the church needs us (it does, it always needs good folks) but because our Savior, our God desires it!

Why You Should Get Involved

Aside from God’s wish that we connect to our family in Christ we should want to for our own benefit and the chance to benefit others. When we get involved we are being servants of God and showing our brotherly love for our community. We are taking a huge next step because now we are moving beyond being saved and attending church to proactively showing and speaking our testimony. We become the army of Christ who helps people fight through troubled waters. Have you ever felt the reward of helping a friend through a rough patch? Amplify that a hundred times because when you speak life in to someone who is spiritually dead and they turn from a road to perdition and take the expressway to salvation. How awesome of an award is that?!

How To Get Involved

Getting involved in your church should not be hard. It should be easy because many offer programs like small groups where you can commune with other people who you may not have met otherwise. Stop by their guest services desk and ask them about a small group. Maybe you’re gift is your love for children, ask about volunteering to educate the smallest of the bunch and help raise them in God. For me personally this is huge. I cannot express how much I love hearing my kids talk about the Creator. Maybe you aren’t good with social functions and that is okay. The church has something for everyone, how can we grow if there are no opportunities to do so? All it takes to get involved is the intentional action of asking how you can help and a willingness to do God’s work in whatever form He has gifted you to excel in.

Final Thoughts

Loving people means you help when you can and where you can. You support them in the same way. Do you know how Jesus showed us love?  He shared the gospel with us. He walks with us as we come to the realization of salvation and then we receive that gospel in to our darkest places. Then He died for us because He knew that His sacrifice was capable of getting rid of every wrong man had or would commit. To put it in a rather geeky sense, the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few or the one. He knew that His destiny was death for our sins. Yet he persevered and put aside any doubt and fear to still be betrayed as man has done time and again, arrested and accused of being false again as man has done and then He was slain just like man has done since the beginning.

We should get involved and let the world know the history of their savior. If only for that we should speak life and we should do our best to show love. Jesus did and He paid the ultimate penalty for us.

Daily Devotional – The Person in the Mirror

Person in the Mirror

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. – James 1:23-24

When we exercise spiritually we are practicing for the potential spiritual threats we may experience in life. I say may because we have been guaranteed to face hardships but I do not wish to come across as a person speaking hopelessness! I speak life! It is why I started this, I want anyone who comes across this to get something spiritually from it. We may be focused on the Christian male but that does not mean we exclude anyone. Spiritual fitness is not like riding a bike you can lose your agility to combat the enemy if you do not keep in touch with God. When we look at ourselves in the mirror do we confront the person we are or do we look and see a person we are pretending to be and live in denial?

Fearing the Mirror

A person who looks in the mirror and sees a person they have fooled themselves in to thinking they are is a person that is spiritually shallow. I in no way mean this to be condemnation because a whole chapter of Romans was dedicated to why we should not condemn anyone (Romans 2:1-29). The first part (Romans 2:1-4) deals with the hypocrisy of the Christians in Rome against the Gentiles. In many ways these Christians were not looking in the mirror  because ultimately the saying, “we’re all human” applies to this so much. The new covenant dissolved the idea that only the Israelites were God’s only people. Sometimes, we as Christians get so caught up in the righteousness that we have through Christ that we also forget that the very righteousness we have is given through faith and that it doesn’t matter who you are (Romans 3:22). We should not be hiding ourselves or trying to because fact is, God sees us even in our hidden place.

Owning the Mirror

I can’t even remember this guy right here. Not who he was but that I looked like that.

Scott - Freshman Football

When I look in the mirror every day, and let’s be honest, I got to keep my hair looking good, I mean look at the brillo pad I have.  When I look at myself I want to be happy with the man I see because ultimately I represent my faith. Am I happy spiritually with who I am, with how I lead my life, my family? If I can say yes to that then I am owning the mirror. Whether it is at work or home take a minute to look at yourself. Not your physical shape, you have the ability to change that just as much as you do your spirituality. Can you say you’re leading a life that represents Jesus to the best of your ability? Maybe you don’t realize the full potential you have for being a disciple. Don’t fret, we all don’t know that. Only God does. We can however ask Him to help us understanding or guide our decisions to be His will. That is why praying is important. how can we ask God to help us if we don’t talk to Him? Own the mirror. You’ll see a happier person.

Final Thoughts

We need to own the mirror every day and we can only do that by diving deep in to the waters of faith. It is a great unknown but He walks beside us. Reading the Bible every day is a great way to start. Do a daily devotional and you’ll start hungering for me. Who was Jesus? Who can I help see Jesus in me? The Bible is God’s word put to ink by men that He breathed words in to. Read, Pray and then get rid of that fear of the mirror and own it. Be what God wants not only in public but in private. He sees it all. Since the beginning he has watched man sin and then try to hide it. Since the beginning He has called man out for those sins and their desire to keep it hidden. When we look in that mirror what do we see? A paper Christian or a man who wears the armor of God and is ready to do battle with hell wherever it is at?

Daily Devotional – My Heavenly Father

Heavenly Father

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. – 1 John 3:1

There are only a handful of names I really enjoy being called in life. Son, Brother, Dad or Daddy, Scotty (I get this more than Daddy and that is okay), Fiancé and most importantly, child of God. While I may not physically hear this from the lips of God I can hear it in my heart. God is such a good Father, in ways I will never be able to be. He takes care of things I can never imagine handling. All the children that need his attention and battling with the enemy to me seems insurmountable. He is our Heavenly Father who dwells in all places in all times so that His children’s spirit is watched over.

Tough Love

I want to share a story with you about a time when I was a child and I had inadvertently terrified my parents. After school in the city was an interesting time. You had to do your homework and then you could go play. I was originally just going to play on the sidewalk in front of my house and that is what I told my mom. After being out there a few minutes I realized that the small church right up the road was having after school Bible study and I so wanted to go! In my excitement I completely forgot to tell my mom that was what I wanted to do and I just went. After the program was over for the day I left the church feeling happy and I had some craft with me. As I was walking up the concrete walkway to leave the church grounds I heard, “There he is!” and looked up to see my Uncle Timmy stalking towards me. I was terrified, I didn’t understand what I had done wrong as he hoisted me up and carried me down the street to home. There I was summarily passed to my father who was intent to take me upstairs and show my hind end a thing or two with his (even in my eyes today) giant meaty man-bear-paw. Mom stopped him and reminded him that I did not even know what I had done. I was sat down and explained that I had not told mom where I was, the police were called and it was a big mess. I don’t like disappointing my family, especially my parents and I had. I was crestfallen and even though I knew I had done wrong I was punished as well. Even though some parents would have given me a pass because of the relief that I was safe and not abducted. God believe in the same thing (Hebrews 12:5-11) though I think that sometimes we misinterpret the intentions of tough love and use it as a means to justify being mean to our children when they are frustrating us. I’m guilty of it, I try to dissuade myself from irritating them back as a form of punishment but frankly, it isn’t is and I beg God’s forgiveness often and pray that I have the strength through Him to be less like that.

Heavenly Comfort

I fullt believe the comfort we get from God is not from single method. God is omniscient and He knows that we may not get our comfort in ways that someone right next to us does. Some week prayer to provide comfort and some look to friends or family. God can provide comfort in all ways but I do believer that the heavenly comfort we get from God is not by praying alone. The heavenly comfort that God blesses us with can be sought out in church. Christ was the center of the church and if we go to a place where God’s children gather we can tap in to that source of amazing heavenly love.

Final Thoughts

God does not seek to give us punishment but He does expect His children to follow His words. We should not hide our faults from God like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) did, you cannot hide from God. It’s that weird power our parents posses, when they know you’re doing something you shouldn’t and you think you have gotten away with it and then the hammer comes down. Parenting is no walk in the park, you have to balance love, discipline, praise and many other factors to set boundaries but also encourage your children. God has given us boundaries and he has given us praise and rewarded us greatly through the death of Christ, even if we were unworthy. This heavenly love is incomparable and even though we know we are a child of God, we never really grasp all the complexities that it entails.

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