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2014 ONE WORD 31st December, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Challenges.
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After a break from blogging I’m looking forward to getting back in the game later in the year (summer-ish).  For now though, here is my ONE WORD for 2014.

The ONE WORD idea is simple: instead of coming up with a list of resolutions for the new year, you come up with one word that summarises what you’d like to cultivate in your life for the coming year.  Last year, I chose “grace”, and over the course of the year I have grown significantly in what it means to receive and to give grace.

This year, I have decided that the attribute I want to cultivate is:

Thankfulness

I’m a naturally analytical person which has its strengths and weaknesses.  On the negative side, I can be overly critical, failing to appreciate the good because I’m too busy looking for flaws.

Gratitude should be the natural result of appreciating the multitude of blessings God pours over our lives.  This year, I am choosing to practice thankfulness!  And worship flows from a thankful heart!

What’s your ONE WORD?

Evangelism vs Discipleship 19th February, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Challenges, Discipleship.
6 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about a dichotomy that is often seen in the Church that adds to our weak understanding of discipleship:

“evangelism” vs “discipleship”.

That is, there are those who do “evangelism”—the work of helping someone begin a faith relationship with Jesus—and those who do “discipleship”—used (wrongly) to refer only to the ministry of teaching and maturing existing believers.

discipleship-chart-photo

So many times I’ve heard people say:

“I’m an evangelist.  I stay outside the church and minister to the world.  I let the people in the church do the teaching”.

Or

“I’m more of a discipler.  God’s called me to work in the church to work with those who already know Jesus.  I do the teaching and leave them to do the evangelism”.

[I have a confession to make: That last line has come out of my own mouth in the past!]

*cringe*

 Let’s remind ourselves what the Great Commission says:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20, emphases mine)

Jesus commands us to Make Disciples.  Then he explains what is involved in making disciples:  Baptising them and teaching them.

Making Disciples involves evangelism.
The first part of the discipleship is evangelism!  When Jesus says “baptising them”, He is talking about conversions.  We won’t dive into a discussion of the theology of baptism (yet!), but for now it is enough to say that baptism immediately followed belief.  It was the first step of obedience when someone placed their faith in Christ, in which they identified with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection.

When we look to the discipleship process, evangelism is the foundation.  It is the beginning of the discipleship process.  When Jesus said to baptize, he’s talking about being God’s instruments in bringing people from the place of unbelief to surrendering their lives.  Making disciples begins with evangelism, but that is not the entirety of the discipleship process.  To stop here is to miss a huge part of the process.  If this was what Christ wanted, He would have said “Go, make converts, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

Making Disciples involves teaching.
The second part of the discipleship process is teaching (or follow-up)!  When Jesus says “teaching them to obey”, he’s talking about the process of taking someone who has placed their trust in Jesus, and leading them to spiritual maturity by teaching (not just cognitively, but also whole life modelling) them how to walk in obedience to all that Jesus commanded.  Making disciples involves a life-long process of leading people to growth and maturity.

Making Disciples is the partnership of “evangelism” AND “discipleship”.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians to tackle some issues that are causing disunity in the Church.  Wrong theology is giving way to ungodly behaviours and so he writes to correct their theology and correct their behaviour.   In tackling disunity he uses the imagery of the human anatomy (see 1 Cor 12):  a body, with various parts, with different functions, all working together.  The absence of body parts can have debilitating effects on the body.  The presence of all the parts but not functioning properly in relation to one another, is equally debilitating.  Right functioning requires all of the parts doing their job properly in relation to the other parts.

When it comes to making disciples, evangelism nor teaching is better than the other.  If there is no conversion, there is no believer for us to teach.  If we have no ongoing teaching, then people are led to the point of faith but are swallowed back into the world because they don’t know how to live as Christ commanded.  In fact, the two terms, functioning properly, should be cyclical.  Evangelism leads us to teaching people to obey, and teaching people to obey leads to them evangelising.

Leading people to faith moves us into showing them to obey; teaching people to obey moves us to show them how to lead others to faith.

full-circle-discipleship

Good at one does not mean exempt from the other.
The tendency we all have is to stick with what we’re good at.  Those who are gifted in “evangelism”—bringing people from non-faith to faith—want to be out in the world reaching those who are apart from Jesus.  They look at people in the church doing the teaching/maturing ministry and get frustrated that they are not out “making (new) disciples.”  Those who are gifted for the work of “discipleship” (again, wrong use of the term)—teaching and maturing those who believe—want to stay in the church teaching and training, and get frustrated at those who like to function outwith the church programs which are “making (mature) disciples”.

Sticking with what we’re good at is not in itself a bad thing, but more often than not we use it as an excuse to avoid what we’re not so good at.

Being better/effective at evangelism is not a get-out-of-jail-free-card for taking the time to mature the new believer.  In fact, being effective at evangelism puts a requirement on your life to be involved in teaching… helping people in your church to be more effective at evangelism!   Conversely, being effective at the ministry of maturing does not mean you can opt-out of evangelism.  Maturing-ministries tend to keep you cooped up in the church and out of touch with the world around you, which in turn can make us even less effective at evangelism.  We need to be living what we teach.  And unless you plan to avoid teaching people about the need to share about Jesus, this requires us doing our best to share the gospel too!

God is the One who works through us.
I am not trying to say that we have to become masters of every aspect of the Christian Journey.  God has established the Church so that we are dependent on one another and so that no person can get all the glory.  Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” (1 Cor 3:6-7)

We are the tools that God uses, but God is the One who does the work!  Praise God!! That means you don’t have to worry about what you’re good at or bad at in the faith journey… God can produce fruit as you operate in your weak areas as easily as he can bear fruit when you operate in your strengths.  The God who moved through Billy Graham leading thousands to Christ is the same God who will lead your neighbour to Him as you boldly share your faith.  God, who moved in Paul as He penned a considerable chunk of the New Testament is the same God who moves as you attempt to teach people to walk in obedience to Him.

Dawson Trotman, in his booklet Born to Reproduce, posed a question that demonstrates his understanding of the interplay of the parts of the discipleship process, and in it offers a mighty challenge to us as we endeavour to obey the Great Commission:

“How many persons do you know by name today who were won to Christ by you [baptised] and who are living for him [taught to obey]?”

Imagine Your Church… 11th February, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Books, Challenges, Church, Mission.
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platt-follow-meI spent the last few days reading Follow Me by David Platt.  Towards the end of the book (p175-176) he says something that I think most churches today would find challenging and so I thought I’d share it:

“Imagine your church.

Don’t picture the building or parking lot, and don’t envision the activities and programs.  Just the people.  Whether there are fifty, one hundred, five hundred, or five thousand of them, simply imagine the people who comprise your church.

People living in a world of sin and rebellion, suffering and pain.  A world where over three billion men, women and children survive on less than two dollars a day, and a billion of those people live in absolute poverty—in remote villages and city slums where hundreds of millions are starving and dying of preventable diseases.  A world where billions of people are engrossed in false religions, and around two billion of them have never even heard the gospel.  They are all (literally billions of people) on a road that leads to an eternal hell—suffering that will never, ever, ever end.

But you and the people in your church have been transformed by the gospel of Christ.  In your minds, you know that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save people from their sins.  In your hearts, you have tasted and seem that he alone can satisfy people’s souls.  Your wills are now abandoned to his ways, and you long to be his witnesses throughout the world.  God has banded you together as brothers and sisters in a local church with a global commission:  make disciples of all nations.  God has filled every single one of you with the power of his own Spirit to enable each of you individually and all of you collectively to reach the world with the gospel.

So if you had nothing but people—no buildings, no programs, no staff, and no activities—and you were charged with spreading the gospel to the whole world, where would you begin?  Would you start by pooling together your money so that you could spend millions of dollars on a building to meet in?  Would you get the best speaker, the greatest musicians, and the most talented staff in order to organise presentations and programs that appeal to your families and you children?  Would you devote your resources to what is most comfortable, most entertaining, and most pleasing to you?

I don’t think your church would do these things—and neither would mine.  Not if we really believed God’s Word and were honestly looking at God’s world.”

To give a wee bit of context… David Platt is a mega church pastor in the States.  He’s been on an intense journey… thrust into the lead role in a mega church at a young age, pouring over the Scriptures, and trying to reconcile pastoring thousands of people with Jesus example of spending time with twelve men (and turning away thousands)!

He is in no way suggesting we throw out the baby with the bath water.  He’s simply inviting us to consider what the Word says we should be all about (making disciples of all nations) and to evaluate how effective we are being in carrying it out.

How easy it is to get our priorities in the wrong place and subtly make it about us instead of the nations!

The Radical Experiment 2nd February, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Books, Challenges.
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radical-3d-whiteI just finished reading the book Radical by David Platt.  (A big thanks to my bro-in-law for the Christmas gift!).

While the subtitle is “taking back your faith from the American Dream”, don’t think for a minute that the book is only for Americans.  The more you read book that tackle how “the world” has seeped into the American Church, the more you see just how the rest of the world has adopted it’s own version of the American Dream.  Here in the UK, this book challenges us just as much as (and sometimes more than) the churches in the USA.

The book calls us to something simple:  look at the Word and live what it says.

My favourite part of the book is the final chapter which is titled The Radical Experiment, where he brings the theory of the book to it’s practical climax by setting us a challenge.

I want to extend that challenge to YOU.  

Will you join my family as we live out The Radical Experiment?

The Radical Experiment is a year-long commitment to five specific challenges:

  • To pray for the entire world (in a year).
  • To read through the entire Word (in a year).
  • To commit our lives to multiplying community.
  • To sacrifice our money for a specific purpose.
  • To give our time in another context (at least 2% of your year, 1 week).

There is a helpful website that accompanies the book (radicalexperiment.org).  On the site you’ll find some fuller explanations of each of the 5 parts of the challenge, as well as a bibliography of links/resources to help which each point.  Make sure you check it out.   And if you’re looking for some inspiration (or conviction!) there’s even a section dedicated to testimonies from people who have put the experiment into practice.

The challenge is simple.  The cost can be high.  But the reward is infinite.

Will you stay comfortable, or will you rise to the challenge?

Some notable quotes:

“Plainly put, a relationship with Jesus requires total, superior, and exclusive devotion.” (p8)

“Disciples of Jesus–genuine, committed, self-sacrificing followers of Christ–are not made overnight.” (p93)

“So what is the difference between someone who wilfully indulges in sexual pleasures while ignoring the Bible on moral purity and someone who wilfully indulges in the selfish pursuit of more and more material possessions while ignoring the Bible on caring for the poor?  The difference is that one involves a social taboo in the church and the other involves the social norm in the church.” (p111)

“While some professing Christians have rejected universalism [the belief that all people will go to heaven] intellectually, practically the may end up leading universalistic lives.  They claim Christ is necessary for salvation, yet they live their Christianity in silence, as if people around them in the world will indeed be okay in the end without Christ.” (p142)

“In our quest for the extraordinary, we often overlook the importance of the ordinary, and I’m proposing that a radical lifestyle actually begins with an extraordinary commitment to ordinary practices that have marked Christians who have affected the world throughout history.” (p193)

Discipleship: Empty Your Cup 28th January, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Challenges, Discipleship.
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Through meditating on the Great Commission I came to a very simple yet profound realisation.

If God commanded everyone to make disciples,
Then everyone is capable of making disciples.

Gratitude-Empty-Cup

The moment someone surrenders their life to Jesus they begin the journey of aligning their life with His Word, and their life comes under the mandate to make disciples.

I mentioned before in The Trouble With Discipleship, that there is no one-size-fits-all discipleship program.  That’s because there is no one-size-fits-all disciple.  God made us diverse, and though there will be similarities in the way we disciple others—since we’re all imitating what Christ modelled for us, and obeying the same Book—who we are, where we grew up, what our job is, and the unique work God has done in us, how we think and interact with the Word, all shape what we have to offer others as we invite them into our lives.

Last year I listened to a message by Andy Stanley (if you don’t know who he is, you probably want to change that!).  Part way through the message he hit on a leadership principle that I’ve adopted as a fundamental discipleship principle:

Empty Your Cup

This is a great image for what we do as disciplers.  Each of us is a cup, filled with a mixture of our personality, life experience, career, relationship with God, biblical knowledge, prayer life, mission experience, life wisdom, and so on.  God has placed people around us and our job is quite simply to pour the contents of our cup into theirs.

When we realise that discipleship is about emptying our cup, we realise that everyone is capable of making disciples.

It flies in the face of some common excuses for why we don’t lead or disciple:

  • I don’t know enough – FALSE
  • I’ve not been a Christian very long – FALSE
  • I’m not old enough – FALSE
  • It’s not my gifting – FALSE
  • I don’t have anything to offer – FALSE
  • Other people need more than me – FALSE
  • I need more training – FALSE
  • (add your own here!)

Like so many things in life, the reality is that if we wait until we’ve got it all together, it’ll never happen!

We will never know it all.

We will never get enough training.

There will always be someone who knows more or does it better.

But that’s not our concern.  Our job is simply to take what we do have and pour it into the people around us.  We ask the Spirit to help us trust the work God has done in us, and we trust Him to use what He’s done in our lives for the benefit of those around us.

(A beautiful thing about discipleship is it is never a one-way process!   As we’re pouring our cup into someone else, they’re pouring theirs into us.  It’s mutually beneficial!  This is the Body of Christ in action!)

If we communicate a message that says you have to be a highly trained expert to disciple people, then we are telling people they don’t have what it takes to do what Jesus commands.

God commands everyone to make disciples,
And so everyone is capable of making disciples.

That includes YOU!  Stop fretting, start trusting, look around

and

Empty Your Cup!

2013 ONE WORD 1st January, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Calling, Challenges, Heart.
6 comments

Last year I tried something new.  Instead of thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, I decided to pick one word that I would ask God to cultivate in me for the year (see my 2012 word and explanation here).  I liked the simplicity and the focus on it so I decided to do the same thing this year.  And so… my ONE WORD for 2013 is:

GRACE

After sitting thinking that perhaps grace should be my word for 2013, I asked Monica what she thought and with only 2 seconds to process, she suggested grace.  So I guess that’s the right word!

Grace has never been my strong point, both in relation to myself and others.  I have always held myself to a really high standard.  When I fall short of that standard I beat myself into the ground.  And over the last year I realised that I secretly hold other people to that same standard.  Neither of these things is good!  Perfectionists, like me, don’t grasp grace!  There’s no room for error in a perfectionist’s world.  But God has been reminding me that Jesus Christ was the only perfect person and that He specialises in working through broken people.  He has been softening my hard heart, and teaching me the importance of grace.

2012 was a tough year–a year of trial and testing.  Through each trial, God has been teaching me more about my heart and much about His Grace.  We have been brought to our knees on numerous occasions and it was experiencing Grace that set us back on our feet.

God has shown me that:

Grace is God’s strategy for reaching the world!

So for 2013, I’ll be asking the Holy Spirit to make me an instrument of grace.  I want to grow in grace towards myself.  I want to be better at receiving grace from others.  And I want to be quick to extend grace to others.  Just as the one who is forgiven much loves much, so the one who has received grace much should extend grace much.  We want our home and our lives to be environments of Grace where the grace we’ve received can overflow from our lives to bring healing to others.

Lord, I thank you for Your Grace.

Worst Valentines Day! 14th February, 2012

Posted by Scotty in Cancer, Challenges.
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Well this year I think cupid had the wrong quiver on his back.  Instead of his heart-arrows that fill you with that lovey feeling, Mon and I got hit by his flu-arrows!  Not fun.

We ate dinner late last night, and both of us felt a little “off”.  At first I wondered if there was something up with the left-overs I’d eaten.  We decided to have an early night and as we went through to lie down, Mon made a desperate dash for the bathroom to empty the contents of her stomach.  She was sick a couple of times before her body calmed down… just in time for me to go sprinting to the bathroom to empty my stomach.

By the time the clock struck midnight we had a nice routine of alternate trips to the bathroom and making use of some lovely containers that are now sitting by our bed for those times that we couldn’t quite make it to the toilet

We laughed in the midst of it all, “Happy Valentines Day… hope you like the gift” *bleugh*

Today hasn’t been the most pleasant.  Monica seemed to ease up late morning, but I’ve felt pretty out of it all day.  I think I’ve spent most of the day sleeping.  I’m extra paranoid since that last trip to A&E.  My thought process goes something like: “although I’m finished with the chemo is my body back to normal?” “are my white bloods up high enough?” “is what I’m feel in a normal response to the flu?” “am I supposed to call the hospital?” “Do I need to go to A&E again?” “why does Mon seem to be doing alright and I feel yuck?”

Fortunately, my temperature is back down, I’m retaining fluids again, and my headache is disappearing.  Hopefully I’ll feel alright tomorrow.

I think I’m extra paranoid knowing I’ve got the last scan on Friday.  The end is so close.

 

2012 ONE WORD 2nd January, 2012

Posted by Scotty in Calling, Challenges, Heart.
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I’m not one for doing New Year’s Resolutions.  I tend to choose things all through the year that I want to work on rather than lumping them all at the start of the year. Regularly as I encounter things in Scripture or traits I see in others that I want to emulate I journal about it and seek to incorporate it into my life.

In my first year at Multnomah, we were having a special worship time with all the people from our year and Prof. Carley Wecks handed everyone a little square of paper and asked us to think through the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) and to pick one that we would choose to pursue growth in for that semester. I liked that concept and have done a similar thing at various points over the last 6 years.

Well, I recently read something (I can’t remember where or I’d direct you to it) that had a similar (simple) approach to New Year’s Resolutions…  Pick ONE WORD that summarises how you want to grow/change this year.  I like that idea and so… my ONE WORD… for 2012 is:

DISCIPLINE

I felt like this last year I really sagged in this area compared to years past.  With everything from time-keeping to blogging to exercise to spiritual disciplines… I was a bit flabby.  So… this year I’m going to praying for the Grace to be better disciplined again, and will invest my energy in building good habits back into my life.  Feel free to check up on me.

What is your ONE WORD for 2012?

50PC: Boys LOSE! 19th December, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Challenges, Furlough, Support.
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I didn’t see tis one coming!  After all my smug comments and cocky confidence, I get floored.  Mon put so much work into our furlough this year that most of the subsequent donations were marked GIRL!?!?!?

www.scottandmonica.com

Noooooo!

So… GIRLS WiN.

And although we both win (in the end), I hang my head in shame and look for an opportunity to get the glory back.

Good game babe.

Until next time!

Chemo: Day 3-5 29th November, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Cancer, Challenges, Pain.
14 comments

The third evening of chemo was in some ways a lot nicer that the first two. It was with great relief that I received the news from the nurse that my “chemo bag” would be started at 5-6am instead of running me with all the different bags all night which so far means no-sleep-lots-of-pee!

Sadly, it wasn’t quite to be the case. My easy night was a rough one! The anti-nausea drugs were doing their bit and keeping me from being sick, but now my oesophagus was burning with massive acid reflux as a result of the steroids. The nurses are amazing, however, and assured me that I was to buzz them at the tiniest bit of discomfort and they would try different anti-nausea meds etc. All through the night they brought me glasses on milk, plain sandwiches, Gaviscon (heart burn medication), and anti-sickness drugs.

But it didn’t work. Relief was temporary, and so I spent most of the night in and out of sleep dealing with the burn in my gut. Eventually I felt sick, called the nurse, but by the time she’d checked in on me and gone for the drugs my body purged my stomach of all the acid that had been burning away there. That was not pleasant… but the relief was great!

The nurse came back with some extra strong meds. The first one was just an anti-nausea drip, but the second knocked me out pretty good and allowed me to sleep through the last few hours until the chemo bag got started.

Treatment was over by 9am but I was done and out cold so I drifted in and out of sleep for a few hours. And then at about noon I was free to go, armed with my back of prescribed drugs, ready to head back home… my first session of chemo done!

It felt good to get home! First thing I noticed was the fresh air… and how much my clothes and body smelled like hospital and chemicals. Next thing to excite me was being able to access the fridge when I wanted to, although I wasn’t quite sure if I was up for it or not.

A quick shower and wash of some clothes and I was ready to dose peacefully on the couch.

Sunday-Monday was fairly uneventful. The doctors had warned me of fatigue but I think it feels more like jet lag! It’s that strange feeling of I-tired-but-don’t-want-to-sleep and I-awake-but-don’t-quite-feel-up-for-doing-too-much along with the most frustrating part I’m-hungry-but-my-body-doesn’t-feel-like-it’s-time-to-eat yet.

Fortunately, my wonderful wife made me a pot of my Granny’s secret recipe Lentil Soup which I was able to enjoy and feel better after.

Right now, though, it’s 2:55am. I’m in that acid reflux place again. I’ve drank all the milk trying to sooth it. I even ventured out and ate a plate of ice-cream but I can’t seem to settle it. I’ve taken my days fill of anti-nausea meds and so now all I can think to do is try and stay awake to red out the next few hours. If I lie down to sleep, my stomach really aggravates me and has me up and down looking for relief. At least sitting up and doing something somewhat distracts me from it so that’s what I’m opting for just now.

Early yesterday evening I was lying on the couch feeling tired, a bit bloated, and a little sick and all I could think was… Do I really have to go through this for another 55 days?  This is going to be rough!

By the time this coming weekend rolls around I have to be extra careful… the 7-12 days window is when my white blood cells will be at their lowest and my immune system weakest, so that’ll be hide-out-of-the-way time!  I have a one more day of steroids and two more days of anti-nausea pills and hopefully from there I should be able to sleep a bit better.

Join me in praying for that!

To Him be the glory,

Whatever the cost!