Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's The Church to Do?

Ed Stetzer and Threads are seeking to help the church better understand the perspective of twenty-somethings toward the church. What should the church do?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Reflection

Monday was memorial day. Many of us celebrated the day and weekend with recreation, grilling food and being with friends or loved ones. Some of us perhaps reflected on the price that is paid for our freedom in our beloved country for a couple of minutes. has a stirring pictoral essay reflection of Memorial Day 2009. When you have a few minutes check it out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Walking By Faith

All through the ages men and women have asked God and one another, “Why do bad things happen?” Sometimes we add, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

The Bible never skirts around this issue with trite answers or pious platitudes. The Bible acknowledges life’s pains and injustices and at the same time declares that God is good and our response to His goodness must be trust. “The righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)

Chris and Kim Trethewey are people just like you and me. Through painful loss they concluded that God is good even though they don’t like life’s circumstances. Check out their story in the video below.

How difficult are your circumstances these days? Do you know God? To know God is to trust God.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Birthday Reflections

Today is my birthday and I’m (ouch) 53 years old. Having a birthday is a great paradox for me.

I’m grateful for my life. God has greatly blessed me, way beyond what I deserve. I’m loved. I’m meaningfully connected with others. I do work every day that allows me to use my gifts and operate out of my passion. My eye is focused on eternity and not the temporal and most of the time I’m making investments that matter both in this world and the next. I have health and a body that allows me to go and do so much that I enjoy. And, God has graced me to hold loosely to these blessings so that if they were gone tomorrow I’d be okay. Mostly okay. There would be some grief over the loss of blessings but my greatest treasure is God and He’s promised that I will never lose Him.

But, and here’s the paradox, I don’t like getting older. I like having greater knowledge, wisdom, discernment, skill, and expertise, which by the way, don’t automatically come with getting older. But I don’t like having less energy, greater weight, diminished hearing and sight and more wrinkles. And, I “get it” that my dislikes are culturally based! In many cultures older men and women are honored and valued for their age.

My culture, the American and Western culture, exalts and even worships youth. Older folks are considered out of touch, behind the times and need to be replaced. And admittedly, every year is a greater challenge for me to stay current. Information and technology are moving at warp speed.

Nevertheless, I feel sad for people my age that succumb to the temptation to drink from the fountain of youth by masking their age with cosmetics, styles or behaviors. I don’t blame them because I “get it”. But I long for all of us older types to have peaceful acceptance of what is.

So there’s my paradox and it forces me to make a choice. By God’s grace I’m choosing to live the grateful life and by God’s grace I am (almost daily) contending with the cultural devaluing of my aging.

As I close I’m struck with a feeling of narcissism (a little too much focus on self). But, there it is, the battle to make much of God and not so much of me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What is God to You?

“What is God to you?” You say, “Scott, I’m not sure you have the question stated correctly. God is a Person and therefore the question should be, ‘Who is God to you?’”

I get the point but my question is also raising a point.

Often we don’t relate to God as Person (who) but rather as a commodity (what).

Skye Jethani has recently written “The Divine Commodity”. When interviewed about his message Jethani commented about the commodification of God as follows:
“A commodity is something that is not valued for what it is, but for what it may be exchanged for. A subsistence farmer values rice because of its inherent rice-ness; because his family eats it to survive. But once he grows more than enough rice for survival, it becomes a commodity. He doesn't value the surplus rice because it's rice, but because it may be exchanged for something else--tools, clothing, etc.

So it is with God. Those holding a consumer world view see everything as a commodity--assigning value based not on a thing or person's inherent identity, but their usefulness to the consumer. In Consumer Christianity God has not inherent value apart from what he can do for me. As one sociologist studying American faith has put it, our God isn't the one revealed in Scripture--almighty and holy--but a consumer deity part divine butler and part cosmic therapist.”

So, I raise the question again, “What is God to you?”

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Thank God for My Mother

I won’t get to see my mother on Mother’s Day. In fact I haven’t seen her on a Mother’s Day in over 20 years. When you live 2,000 miles away and only get home once a year or so the odds are poor that you’ll be around for Mother’s Day.

I send a card and try to write some of my heart, love and appreciation for her. This year I also sent roses. I’ll give her a call on Sunday afternoon and say some things that I want her to know I think and feel about her. But it’s not quite the same as connecting eye-to-eye.

My mother was raised in a small town in Arkansas and married right out of high school. I was born about a year later when she was 20. After my father was discharged from the Marines my parents moved to Memphis, a big city for two small town people. By the time I was 4 my parents divorced.

Somehow my 24 year old mother got a job (with no real skills), made a living and provided for me and my 2 year old brother. She didn’t own a car so she walked a mile to a bus stop and rode the bus every day. She cooked meals, washed dishes and clothes, cleaned house, played with her children and paid the bills. I have memories of waking up late in the night and walking out of my bedroom and seeing my mother doing all the housework. Then she would get up and do it all again the next day.

I saw my mother go to work when she was sick because she had to keep her job and make the money. My mother would come home exhausted but still go outside and play with me and my brother. My mother helped us with homework, and little league teams and paper routes and boy scouts.

As a child I didn’t realize how heroic my mother was. It wasn’t until I became a parent of two small children that I began to “get it”.

When I was 32, married and a dad, I felt that God was calling me to move to the Seattle area to plant a new church. I told my mother what I thought God wanted me to do and her response was one of love and support. She blessed me to follow my calling even though I was now her only son (my brother unexpectedly died when I was 12) and I was taking her only 2 grandchildren far away.

About a year after I moved to Washington my mother had a terrible stroke and through the years she has had several other strokes and numerous medical complications. Though only 73 today, she is virtually homebound and severely limited in what she can physically do. Most of the memories that my children have of their grandmother is of a frail and physically challenged woman. They never really got to know the strong, determined, persevering champion that raised me.

There is seldom a time that I face a challenge or disappointment or feel a temptation to quit that I don’t think about my mother and receive inspiration to keep on keeping on.

Today I’m thanking God for giving me my mother. She is a good gift to me. One of the good gifts God has given my mother and me is my step-father. I’ll tell you about him next month. Click here to see that post.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Girls Gone Wise

I just discovered Girls Gone Wise, a terrific website filled with articles and resources for women who are seeking to follow God with a whole heart. The site is headed by Mary Kassian (pictured), an award winning author, renowned speaker, distinguished seminary professor, wife and mother.

Check it out for great information and wisdom regarding relationship with God, true womanhood, dating, marriage, parenting, career, life stages and more.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My Prayer

Today I met with some area pastors over a sack lunch. We meet once a month to check in with each other and pray for each other.

For a few months I’ve been sharing in this trusted circle some of my personal struggle. I’m at a much better place today than last month and last month was better than the one before. I’m grateful to be moving in a direction of less angst and more joy. Anyway…

As we were approaching our time to pray for each other one of the pastors asked me, “How do you want us to pray for you?” I didn’t want to waste this opportunity to be prayed for and benefit from their faith-filled intercession. So I prayed and asked, “God what do I need them to pray for me?”

There was a moment of silence and then it came to me, “Pray that I will be totally satisfied with the Person of Christ. I want to know the full contentment of being His follower.”

As I was being prayed for I was reminded of John Piper’s words--
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

May God be greatly glorified in me and I deeply satisfied in Him.

Monday, May 04, 2009

My Confession

Sunday I gave a talk regarding understanding the times in which we live. It will be posted on the Meadowbrook website later this week if you want to hear it.

In short I contended that the US is increasingly edging God out of our country and culture. I stated that some of the “signs of the times” are:

economic collapse, unchecked diseases, increased hostilities and even hatred between those of different ideological and political perspectives, the redefining of marriage, legislating the right to die, and a loss of the sanctity
of human life. I could have added the disintegration of the family, the anti-religious and increased secularizing of society, relativism and the loss of moral absolutes, increased sexual perversion of every kind, pervasive injustice toward the poor and powerless, and a more radical and aggressive atheism.

The point is these “signs” and the reality of our edging God out must surely lead to God’s removal of His presence, protection and provision for us. We have been a nation blessed by God and we’re becoming a nation that will be judged by God.

The appropriate response for us is to repent of our ways and to humbly ask God for mercy. At the close of my talk I invited those whose hearts were convicted in a similar way to make this confession with me—

God, forgive us for thinking You are like us.
Forgive us for making idols out of things and people.
Forgive us for calling evil, good and good, evil.
Forgive us for distractions and boredom regarding your mission.

God, seize us.
Save us.
Deliver us.
Transform us.
Create in us a clean heart,
A clear mind, and
Committed hands that worship You.

You are the great and mighty God.
There is none other like You.
You and You alone have the allegiance of our lives.
Amen and amen.