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The Prodigal Son – in the Key of F 17th October, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Bible.
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In just came across this and thought it was clever. And so decided to share!

Feeling footloose and frisky, a featherbrained fellow forced his father to fork over his farthings. Fast he flew to foreign fields and frittered his family’s fortune, feasting fabulously with floozies and faithless friends.  Flooded with flattery he financed a full-fledged fling of “funny foam” and fast food.  Fleeced by his fellows in folly, facing famine, and feeling faintly fuzzy, he found himself a feed-flinger in a filthy foreign farmyard. Feeling frail and fairly famished, he fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from the fodder fragments.

“Fooey,” he figured, “my father’s flunkies fare far fancier,” the frazzled fugitive fumed feverishly, facing the facts. Finally, frustrated from failure and filled with foreboding (but following his feelings) he fled from the filthy foreign farmyard.

Faraway, the father focused on the fretful familiar form in the field and flew to him and fondly flung his forearms around the fatigued fugitive.  Falling at his father’s feet, the fugitive floundered forlornly, “Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited family favor.”

Finally, the faithful Father, forbidding and forestalling further flinching, frantically flagged the flunkies to fetch forth the finest fatling and fix a
feast.

Faithfully, the father’s first-born was in a fertile field fixing fences while father and fugitive were feeling festive. The foreman felt fantastic as he flashed the fortunate news of a familiar family face that had forsaken fatal foolishness. Forty-four feet from the farmhouse the first-born found a farmhand fixing a fatling.

Frowning and finding fault, he found father and fumed, “Floozies and foam from frittered family funds and you fix a feast following the fugitive’s folderol?” The first-born’s fury flashed, but fussing was futile. The frugal first-born felt it was fitting to feel “favored” for his faithfulness and fidelity to family, father, and farm. In foolhardy fashion, he faulted the father for failing to furnish a fatling and feast for his friends. His folly was not in feeling fit for feast and fatling for friends; rather his flaw was in his feeling about the fairness of the festival for the found fugitive.

His fundamental fallacy was a fixation on favoritism, not forgiveness. Any focus on feeling “favored” will fester and friction will force the faded facade to fall. Frankly, the father felt the frigid first-born’s frugality of forgiveness was formidable and frightful. But the father’s former faithful fortitude and fearless forbearance to forgive both fugitive and first-born flourishes.

The farsighted father figured, “Such fidelity is fine, but what forbids fervent festivity for the fugitive that is found? Unfurl the flags and finery, let fun and frolic freely flow. Former failure is forgotten, folly is forsaken. Forgiveness forms the foundation for future fortune.”

Four facets of the father’s fathomless fondness for faltering fugitives are:
1) Forgiveness
2) Forever faithful friendship
3) Fadeless love, and
4) A facility for forgetting flaws

Timothy E. Fulop

Dry Bones Missions 6th August, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Challenges, Mission, Musings.
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There are certain passages in Scripture that speak right into the situation in Scotland (or Europe as a whole).  Ezekiel 34-37 is one of those chunks.

As I sat reading Ezekiel 37 (the Valley of Dry Bones) I couldn’t help but see God’s clear strategy for a place like Scotland where the church is but lifeless bones.

Step One:  Preach the Word!

Then he said to me, “Prophecy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’

It’s pretty simple.  It’s the way it has always been.  God’s Word has power and so our job is to declare His Word.  Boldly.  Departing from God’s Word is why Europe is dry.  Bibleless pulpits and leaders devoid of the Word is why Scottish churches have died.  The solution is clear.  Those sent to the dry bones valleys are commanded to speak His Words.  I get angry with “missionaries” that come to our country and think the solution lies outside the simplicity of the gospel.  They come with clever strategies, fancy books, flashy outreach, and “authentic community”, yet they fail to bring the very thing we need:  God’s Word.

Thankfully Ezekiel was a man who understood obedience.  When he obeyed, something amazing happened:

… “so I prophecied as I was commanded.  And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.”

Oh how I long to hear the rattling of old bones in the churches of Scotland.  I have even had the honour of seeing some of those old bones begin to rattle and take form again.  But we need more.  More people who are committed to declaring His Word.

But that wasn’t enough for God.  There was more Ezekiel had to do.  And there’s more that we need to do:

Step Two:  Call on the Spirit (Pray!)

“Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it; ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says:  Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet—a vast army”.

The Word put everything back in its rightful place, and then as His Spirit—the breath—came upon them, they came back to life and stood.  It wasn’t until His Spirit was poured out that the process was complete.

We have to be a praying people.  Prayer is the human act more closely related to the Spirit.  “Pray in the Spirit at all times” wrote Paul.  We have to pray, long and hard, that God would breathe life back into our nation.

It’s such a simple process but we work so hard at complicating things.  I get angry with those who travel across the world to bring a worldly system to the lost.  We don’t need “clever” we need the power of God.  We don’t need “new”, we need the thing God has done time and time again… His Word, carried on His breath.  If that is all that’s needed for God to create the universe… why think our idea is better.

The Word & Prayer.  It’s the killer combination.  Let’s stop trying to be cool, clever, relevant, (insert whatever other word you want), and start being obedient.  And it starts with ME!

I have spoken to many people who claim that the Word & Prayer doesn’t work.  But a few quick questions reveal that THEY are not people who are being transformed by God’s Word and THEY are not people casting themselves on God in prayer.

If God can use His Word & His Spirit to make an army out of a valley of dry bones, He can certainly use it to bring life to Scotland.

Learn from Ezekiel.  Do it God’s way not your way.

Help Me Read My Bible 5th August, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Ministry, Spirituality.
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For the last 5 1/2 years I have been doing Bible Readthrough’s, reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  When I get to the end, I start back at the beginning.  The goal: to be saturated in the Word.  Usually I take one day in the week where I set time aside and read the whole book in one sitting, underlining and journaling as I go, then mid-week I study something else at a slower pace.  Bible Read Through has changed my life.

Too many people analyze a verse from Scripture with no idea of the context.  We spend a lot of time arguing theology and calling people heretics when the reality is that we’ve never read the book we claim to know so much about.  Bible Reading Groups are by far the best form of Bible Study, accountability and growth that I’ve come across.

At Re:Hope we desire to grow leaders who don’t just know about the Bible, but who are committed to a lifelong pursuit of being saturated in the Word to know the God it reveals.  There’s now a website to help explain the readthrough:  www.BibleReadingGroups.com.  I advise you check it out.

If you want to grow in your relationship with God…
If you want to know the Bible…
If you want your life and ministry to have Spiritual Authority…

… there’s no shortcut.   There’s no substitute for devoting hours of your life to studying His Word.  Jump on the site, have a read/listen.  Then get 2 or 3 people together and start reading.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Josh 1:8)

Bible-in-a-Week!!! 23rd May, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Challenges.
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Reading Joshua at the top of the Hike

It’s been a goal of mine for a while now to attempt to read through the entire Bible in a week.  I don’t know where I go the crazy notion from, but somehow, I got the idea in my head that it would be fun.  Well, my buddy Joe and I talked for a while about going camping when he graduated, and one day I threw out the idea of camping and reading the whole Bible.  I thought he’d think I was crazy.  Instead he looked at me and without hesitation said “let’s do it!”  Joe and I are both going through some huge transitions and this for us was a way to declare our complete surrender to God.

On Monday we headed to Madras for our “Bible Week”.  And It was AWESOME!  So awesome in fact that we read the whole Bible in only 4 1/2- days!!!! We would wake up about 7am and read through till 10/11pm.  We had about 30mins for lunch and an hour for dinner.  The rest of the time we just read.  We hardly talked to each other the entire week… it was really more like a week of solitude and silence.  We would get up, say a few words and head off to read.  My phone was off.  No computer.  No books.  Just me and my Bible.  The time went by so fast!

The weather wasn’t the greatest so I spent a lot of time reading in the tent.  But when the sun came out, I’d read and hike.  And when it was cold but dry, I would circle the campsite, reading as I went.  I actually got my body on autopilot so that I could walk around the campsite reading the whole way without having to look up to see where I was going.

The week looked something like this:

Monday: Arrived at campsite, set up…
1pm-9pm (Genesis -> Leviticus)
Tuesday: 9am-10pm (Deuteronomy -> 1 Kings)
Wednesday: 7am-11.30pm (2 Kings -> Proverbs)
Thursday: 7am-10pm (Ecclesiastes -> Malachi)
Friday: 7.30am-9.30pm (Matthew -> Revelation)

I had a few thoughts during the week which I’m still processing through:

  • We so easily make ourselves think Bible Reading is a mammoth task.  But, I have no excuse any more.  I’ve experienced what happens when I really give my attention to God and His Word.  It isn’t as intimidating a book as I sometimes tell myself it is.
  • For the retreat my day was planned around being in His Word.  I got up to read.  I ate lunch when I got to a convenient place to stop reading.  Dinner was planned around reading.  I didn’t waste time.  I was focused.  What does it look like to bring this back into normal life?  I think I need to make some changes to my scheduling!
  • I didn’t talk much at all.  And that was good.  The Bible has a lot to say about “the tongue” and how easily we let it wag.  We’d sin far less if we kept our mouths shut!
  • It’s easy to sit down to pray and just talk at God.  This week of silence and absorbing His Word was really a week of simply listening to the things He has already said.
  • It affected the way I was thinking.  I found myself processing Scripture in my breaks.  I prayed for people more.  I was more aware of what I was thinking about and how it related to (or disobeyed) His Word.
  • Doing a Bible-in-a-Week retreat will be a cool discipleship tool.
  • Fast-paced, big-picture Bible Readthrough is not an end in itself, but complements deeper study and meditation on short passages.  It helps put them in perspective!

I’ll leave you with a verse that really impacted me in the way it related to the task we accomplished:

So we rebuilt the way till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. (Neh 4:6)

It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we pursue Him with all their hearts.  What would happen if all of God’s people chose to pursue His Works with all their hearts???

What a monumental week.  I feel recharged. refreshed. rejuvenated. ready.

If we can do it, so can you.

YOU SHOULD TRY IT!

(Read Joe’s post here)

Bible Crazy 12th May, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Heart, Prayer, Spirituality, Worship.
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On Monday Joe and I are heading off to camp for the week, with one goal in mind:  to read the entire Bible in one week.

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but have never made the time for.  My church at home does Bible Week where the congregation take 1hr slots and they read the entire Bible aloud in the church building.  It usually takes 2-3 days.  I’ve always wondered how it would be to take a week and on my own read through the Bible in one week.

The idea is not comprehension, nor deep mediation and reflection.  It is simply about being saturated in His Word.

In our fast paced world, where we are bombarded with everyone’s version of Truth, we want to spend a week cut off from all distraction, and allow the Word to be our only focus.

We’re both excited.  The Bible.  One Week.

It’ll be tough, but it’s do-able.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Bible Translation Stats 28th April, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Mission.
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The following statistics are taken from the Wycliffe’s Website and give the current worldwide status of Bible translation:

6,900+ …the number of languages spoken in the world today

2,000+

…the number of languages without any of the Bible, but with a possible need of a Bible translation to begin
350,000,000+ …the number of people who speak the 2,200 languages where translation projects have not yet begun
1,300+ …the number of translation programs where Wycliffe is currently at work
nearly 75% …amount of the world’s remaining Bible translation needs that are located in the three areas of greatest need
1,185 …the number of language communities which have access to the New Testament in their heart language
451 …the number of language communities which have access to the entire Bible in the language they understand best.

It’s crazy to read elsewhere that there are 500+ English translations… which means there are more English Translations than there are languages with a Bible.

Something’s wrong with that!

Uncontrollable Weeping 25th April, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Heart, Me.
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(picture by Tatyana Starikova)

I was not expecting that.

At church today one of our missionary families used an illustration:  they rolled out a scroll containing the names of all the people groups in the world who don’t have the Bible in their language.  In 10pt font the scroll stretched right across the sanctuary.

As I watched it unfold something really unexpected happened:  My eyes welled up with tears which I fought really hard to stifle before I started weeping uncontrollably.  Even now as I type my eyes are welling up.  It is undeniable that today God embedded something in my heart.

I don’t know if this is the beginning of a call to Bible Translation for some point in the future.  Or perhaps He’s breaking my heart for this crucial area of His Work so that I spend my life praying for it.  Either way, God has done something in my heart uniting it to the work of putting His Word in the hands of those who don’t have it.

When I look at my life, serving in that capacity could make sense:

  • I love languages and ate up my Greek and Hebrew classes, planning that some day I’d work my way through the whole Bible.
  • I have always had the desire to live in a place that doesn’t speak English and have to learn their language.
  • I constantly consume missionary biographies and have for a while had the pipe-dream of living in a mud hut in the middle of nowhere serving God in a way that lacks glory.
  • I love to disciple and have always thought I’d end up spending the last 20-30 years of my life living somewhere obscure, spending the last days of my life being poured out so that people know and love the Lord.

It’s very possible.

God is doing something. I’m willing to go and do “Whatever God wants, whenever He wants, Whatever the cost”.  I’m willing “to give up All that I have to become All that God wants me to be”.

God, if you want me to go, I’ll go.  If you want me to stay, I’ll stay.  My heart is yours.  Lord, send me.

A Challenge to Pray 10th February, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Ministry, Prayer.
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“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.” 1 Samuel 12:23

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible and one that challenges me every single time I read it.

We are called to live in wholehearted obedience to God.  We are called to be a people of the Word and Prayer.  We are called to make disciples.  We are called to depend on Him in all things.

Every time I read this verse I feel challenged.  Samuel was called to lead God’s people, and he felt that He would be sinning if he failed to pray for the people God had called him to.  I feel this same conviction.  I feel so strongly about the importance of depending on God in every area of life it is sinful to attempt to lead His people without Him.  How can we ever hope to see growth in our people if we are not fighting for them on our knees?  We have to open our hearts to them, enter in to their pain and struggles and pray for them as if they were our own.

I am always challenged as I read this verse which has become something of a “life verse” for me.  Do I pray enough for the people I lead and disciple?  Do I pray enough for the community God calls me to minister in?  I never feel like I pray enough.  And I hope I never lose that!  I’ll be in trouble the day I feel like I’ve mastered prayer.  I pray (!) that I would always have the burning desire to increase the time I spend in prayer.

When evaluating my prayer life I always think of Jesus asking his disciples “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matt 26:40).

I then look at each person and ask “Did I pray for them for an hour today?”  If the answer is “no”.  Then it’s not enough.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying we should pray for every person for an hour.  Some days it will be MORE, some days it will be less.  But I think it’s a good goal to aim for.  If you commit yourself to praying for someone an hour a day for a week… things will happen!

How badly to you want him to grow?  How strong is your desire to see her come to know the Lord?  How much do you want to be free of that sin?  Are you really trusting God to provide for your needs?

If you add up the time you spend praying, I think you’ll find the stats show just how much you really want it.

I need to pray more.

Discover the Power of the Bible 23rd June, 2009

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Books, Challenges, Heart.
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dtpotb

Ron Frost used to be a professor at Multnomah, and Discover the Power of the Bible is a book he wrote about a passion we share:  BibleReadthrough Discipleship.

I remember the first day I met Ron Frost.  All the students from the 1st year program at the Seminary were at his house for a getting-to-know-each-other event and he was sharing his story with us.  It didn’t take long before he mentioned doing Bible Readthroughs and it clicked that this was the professor my mentor Brian heard the idea from which he used to disciple me.

When I heard Dr. Frost had written a book I was keen to read it, although it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for the last two years waiting on me getting the time.  I was feeling a little demotivated and lagging a little on my Bible reading and so I grabbed it from my shelf and was wonderfully encouraged.

In the book Frost shares how he was introduced to the Bible Readthrough (by a Scottish Missionary!!!) who had read through the Bible about 150 times.  He soon fell head over heels in love with God’s Word, and has used this method of discipleship ever since.

Along with outlining the ReadThrough method, in the second half of the book Dr. Frost outlines two other Bible Study methods that he uses on occasion alongside the ReadThrough, both of which I’m excited to try.

The basic premise is this:

  • Find someone to partner with in the process
  • Set a deadline to finish by which will determine the amount you need to read each day
  • Work through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation
  • Underline as you go
  • Meet and take 10-15 minutes to read through all that you underlined.

The genius is that the process is extremely simple… and HUGELY impacting.  I don’t have to do much, just sit back and watch God challenge someone’s life as they encounter his Word.  I’m sold on the ReadThrough for both my personal devotions and for discipleship.  In fact, I’m going through the ReadThrough for the 8th or 9th time at the moment and it has hugely increased my knowledge of God’s Word and my passion for sharing Him with others.

Brian and I do our readthroughs a little differently:

  • meet (usually) in groups of 3 or 4
  • we read a book a week (or more than one if the book is small)
  • underline as we go
  • and meet to share the three things that you loved the most about the book.

This week I’m about to start the ReadThrough with a new partner.  And man… I’m excited!  I can’t wait to see how God impacts this man’s life.

A Simple Truth 15th June, 2009

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Challenges, Church, Heart, Spirituality.
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116220689_438039ddb3For the last few weeks I have been ruminating on a phrase my mentor would often say to me during out BibleReadthrough times, and in fact, yesterday I scribbled in down in my journal in red ink to make it stand out:

“if what the Bible says and how you live your life don’t match up… you begin the process of change”

This was one of the most instrumental concepts of my spiritual development and is perhaps the most understated line in discipleship today.

I hear many discipleship strategies today, and I am certain that the most effective way to see someone’s life changed is to journey with them through God’s Word.  We want people to read it because is it here that they meet and fall in love with the Creator God, the Saviour of the world, and it is the gospel which is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16)

So many people however read the Word and stop there.  We come across a Biblical Truth that we don’t like and so we skim it.  We shut our spiritual eyes and move on to something more encouraging.  But that’s not the way God intended it to be.  We’re challenged by the Bible because it is living and active… it searches our hearts and challenges our faulty desires.

When you read the Word, come with a heart that is ready to respond.  When you read something that challenges you, begin the hard but rewarding work of change.  If you come to a passage that challenges an area of your life you’ve been convicted about before, ask yourself the question… did I begin the process of change?

It is so easy to make excuses to justify the things we do wrong.  Let us be people who respond to God’s Word… people who read what it says and cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the process of change.