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Nostalgia: In the Prayer Chapel 31st March, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Heart, Multnomah.
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At the beginning of the month—thanks to the gift of airmiles—I was in Portland for one of my best bud’s wedding.  During the trip I dropped by the Multnomah Campus to say hey to a couple of friends and to enjoy some moments of nostalgia.  I had some time to kill between appointments and as usual my feet walked me to the little Prayer Chapel that sits on campus.

I went inside.

I sat there for about a minute enjoying the feel and the smell of the place.  The smell is a funny one for me: I can’t work out if it’s simply that old smell—of old carpets and old wood; or if it’s the smell of years of prayer; most likely it’s a combination of both.

I’d forgotten how much I love this little chapel.  I spent 20-30 minutes journalling and reflecting on the numerous hours I’ve spent with God in that tiny little building, learning from the Perfect Teacher, being operated on by the Master Surgeon, and having my heart renovated by the Great Architect.  Here are some things I thought about:

  • The hours simply praying:  It would be fun to know how many hours I’ve spent in that little place.  (Though I’m sure if I took the number of hours in the Prayer Chapel and compared it to the number of hours I wasted on nonsensical things, I’d not feel so great!)  I spent numerous hours in the prayer chapel praying; praying with friends; memorising Scripture; playing piano and worshipping; reading Scripture or doing lectio divina homework assignments; interceding for friends, family, and difficult situations; asking God to grow and change me.
  • The hours growing:  I arrived at Multnomah fresh, excited and naive.  I’d come armed with lessons I’d learned (or thought I’d learned!), theology I’d absorbed, and ministry philosophy I’d inherited.  It was at Multnomah that I really grew.  There in the Prayer Chapel God took the things I’d learned from others and sifted them through, leading me to embrace some things and discard others.  It was there that my understanding of ministry moved from my head to my heart; and I began to understand who I am and how principles looked when lived out as me, rather than as an imitation of someone else.  Seminary, ministry, and close community teach you lots about yourself.  I often went to the prayer chapel to talk with God about my pride and selfishness, my fears and insecurities, my hopes and dreams.  I went when things were great to praise and thank Him.  I sat there when my heart was troubled and downcast pleading with God to intervene.
  • The hours breaking:  It was there that my heart began to break for the world.  Sitting in classrooms engaging leaders from around the world, hearing the plight of various nations, and pining to return to my own to do what God had called me to… much of this was applied to my heart and carved there in that little prayer room.  It was there also that my heart broke at itself.  Actions, assignments, reflections, and scripture-responses all alerted me to the extent of my depravity; the understanding of my powerlessness to change apart from Christ; coming face to face with my sinfulness and beginning the slow and painful journey of embracing pain and brokenness to walk towards wholeness and holiness.  A journey I’m still walking.
  • The hours transforming:  Although God had been working on me long before I went to Multnomah, I look at that time as the start of a huge season of heart transformation.  While learning about God, and about myself, I saw more of the places where my heart was wrong.  I wish I had one of those instantaneously-fixed stories, but I don’t.  Instead, it’s been the long slow process of gradual change, grieving sin, repenting, making more mistakes, crying out to God, grieving some more, and having Him open my eyes to see my sin as He sees it.  (Oh, but there’s the beautiful flip side of this too: having my heart of stone replaced with a heart of flesh!  My heart began to grasp grace; my identity in Christ; my role in His Kingdom; the gifts He’s given me; and the Power that works through me.
  • The hours committing: On a regular basis I sat in that room offering myself to God.  There were things I committed to not doing (wrong actions, attitudes, sins, etc) and then numerous commitments to doing His work, laying down self, and loving others.  In the prayer chapel, seeking God’s guidance, I committed to pursue the girl who would become my wife—the greatest gift of my life outside of salvation.

Sitting in the prayer chapel again I reflected on the journey God has brought me on.  We talked about my journey around the world and back.  We talked about the massive leaps forwards in facing my brokenness.   We takes about my journey from singlehood, through marriage, to parenthood.  We talked about my season battling cancer.  We talked about friends, conflicts, transitions, fears and blessings.  I thanked God for His guidance, His provision, His sanctification, the gifts He’s poured out, and the way He’s walked with us so closely through everything we’ve faced.

Today is Easter Sunday.

Today we remember and celebrate the Resurrection Power of God.  We rejoice in the incredible work Jesus did to give us the greatest gift imaginable.

Some days I look at my life and all I can see is how far short of Christlikeness I fall.

But today, as I think of the importance of the resurrection, I look back over my life and see how far I’ve come, and celebrate the Power and work of Christ in me.

I would love to say that all those hours spent in the prayer chapel resulted in me walking forward in a flawless pursuit of Jesus.  Sadly, that’s not the case.  But it did result in me walking forward with a greater awareness of my need for Jesus and knowing how desperately I need His power to be at work in and through me.

Oh how amazing it is to know that Christ is Risen.  He is risen INDEED!

Finish Line 7th May, 2009

Posted by Scotty in Life, Multnomah.
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42-18996556So, I’m done!  I’ve officially finished all the classes I had to take for the M.Div.

And… I’m exhausted.  Some people from the church planned something and celebrated with me.  Well, they celebrated with a rather tired and lacking energy version of me… quite an accurate description of me the entirety of the last month!

I’m off to bed to get some much needed sleep.  I’ll write again soon.

“It is finished”

Crunch Time 24th April, 2009

Posted by Scotty in Multnomah, Pain.
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workerI don’t think I’ve ever felt the crunch like I do this week.  I have 13 days till I’m done with school and so lots of final papers and assignments to wrap up before the end.  This week in particular is the worst.  I have 3 larger papers to write and a sermon to preach.  Added all up I have to write about 65 pages (double spaced) by 2.30pm on Wednesday.

For the next week I have no life outside of the library.  I am reading ever spare moment I have, trying to make sure I sleep just enough that my brain functions, and of course most torturous is that I get to spend hardly any time with my incredibly understanding fiancée!

Pray for me as I sit here working away.  That I would glorify God first and foremost.  That I would learn.  And that I would be super-productive.  Almost there…

Man of God 6th October, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Blessings, Heart, Leadership, Life, Me, Multnomah.
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This is a post that has been a long time in the making, but which I have not got round to writing, until today. Allow me to introduce you to one of my profs from Multnomah who has (and is having) a MASSIVE impact on my life. His name… Dr. John Wecks.

The funny thing is, I know that if he knew I was going to write this He would probably get semi-embarrassed at the thought and tell me that I should write about our Saviour–and I grin knowing that writing about him I can’t help but write about the Saviour.

I will never forget my first class with Dr. Wecks. He opened his Bible, held it in one hand, lifted it up in front of him and asked the question “why is the Bible the Word of God”. The class eagerly put forward answers which, though good, fell short of the mark. Each time he rebutted with something to the effect of “other religions say that about their Scriptures. Why is this one the Word of God”. After some agonizing moments trying to find the answer he grinned and said, in the manner that only he can, “Because it is the Word of God”. I sat back in my seat and thanked God for bringing me to Multnomah, and I gently took note of God’s Spirit tapping on my heart, affirming to me that this man spoke with His authority.

When I look at Dr. Wecks I see the kind of man I believe God has called me to be. As I listen to him talk about the Saviour and as I witness how he masterfully teaches God’s Word, my heart longs to grow in those areas, and to become that kind of person. What is that kind of person?

He is a man of the Word: I see in him an unshakeable trust in God’s Word. This is seen in the way he teaches it, the way he preaches it, the way he lines up his life to match what it says, and more than that, the love and respect he gives to every Word that is from the mouth of God. My heart breaks for the church when I hear him voice his fears at our anemic church, and my soul cries out to God that He would teach me to honor His Word in this way.

He is a man of Prayer: The first time I heard Dr. Wecks talk about prayer I was floored. I was challenged more than ever and once again I felt my spirit soar. Listening to him divulge the necessity of become proficient in the weapons God has given us to fight in this Spiritual War I was overcome by the urgency of this exhortation and the poor job the church today is doing. It’s an amazing experience to listen to Him preach through the Armour of God. I don’t think I had ever heard someone rhyme of so much Scripture in a prayer, so much so that when he got as far as the Sword of the Spirit, he didn’t need to explain it because he had fully demonstrated the kind of proficiency we should be aiming towards (and more!). His prayers reveal an intimacy with God and a deep level of wisdom, both of which come only by spending much time in His presence.

He is a man of integrity: This week I have witnessed him walking through some tough experiences. As a friend and I sat down together to pray for John I laughed as the words fell out of my mouth “Lord, what a humbling thing it is to come before you knowing that even as I pray this man is holding to the very convictions he has taught to his classes for the last twenty years!” And it is true. Even today as class ended and he shared with us some of the lessons God has taught him through these circumstance, we got to watch all the Scriptural principles he teaches lived out in front of our eyes.

He loves the Saviour: What do I say? God loves me more than I can ever imagine, so much so that His Son, Jesus Christ came and lived here, allowing Himself to be brutally murdered, so that I could receive the gift of salvation. Jesus lived here and taught His disciples to follow Him. Paul exhorted Timothy to “follow me as I follow Christ”. I see in Dr. Wecks an incredible love for Jesus Christ, and sitting in his classes all I can do is watch how he lives his life, and be drawn closer to God. With my eyes fixed on my Saviour Jesus, I follow John as he follows Christ.

I love when he shares stories about his interactions with his dad.  Dr. Wecks holds his dad in high esteem, showing a huge amount of admiration for the way his dad honors God, still pursuing him aged 93.  If the man I esteem holds his dad in high esteem, man, what I would give to get the chance to meet his dad.  Actually, what I would give to sit in on one of their lunch time sessions and just witness them as they glorify God together.

This year, God has granted me the privilege of working more closely with Dr. Wecks, grading papers for him. It’s an amazing learning experience to be on the teacher’s side of the coursework, but more than that, it is a blessing to get to sneak a little extra time with this man and have his love for God and His Word rub off on me some more.

It is impossible to explain just how much of an impact God has had on me through this man in just one blog entry. It would require a book, and I could probably write a whole other book about his wife Carley. John is always quick to share with us stories his wife, becoming almost childlike as he tells us about the love-of-his-life. She too embodies what it means to love and follow Christ. She too loves the Word. She too is a person of prayer. She too pours herself into the lives of the students at Multnomah!

They are an incredible couple! It is clear that God created them to do what they do, and has used them to impact the lives of hundreds if not thousands of student who have passed through their care. My experience at Multnomah would be vastly different without them. And it has been worth every penny that has been invested in my education here to get to witness someone live their life the way I believe God has asked me to live mine.

I thank God for their service at Multnomah; I thank Him for bringing me here and allowing me to sit under their instruction; I ask that God would pour out His grace over them, drawing them closer to Him; and I pray that God will continue to use them to shape me into the Man of God that He created me to be.

I have a car! 27th August, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Blessings, Friends, Me, Multnomah, Support, Travel.
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I have some amazing friends, and we serve an amazing God! I arrived back in Portland on Thursday to some great news. One of my friends was given a new car and looking to get rid of her old one. She wanted to know if I could use it. One of my other friends had been looking for a way to support me and so offered to pay for the insurance. And so on Sunday I picked up what is now my car. It is such a HUGE BLESSING. (Thank you God, and thank you to my two car-giving friends)

The thing I have hated about my time in the States has been my lack of freedom. I have at time felt claustrophobic because I am so used to being able to jump in my car and get away for a while. In my time in Portland I have needed to depend on other people for lifts/rides back and forth, or try and borrow a car from someone when the need arose. The whole process has been a part of the lessons in dependence that God brought me here to learn, not just having to depend on Him, but see the importance of the Body of Christ and our dependence on one another.

I am so grateful for all the times people allowed me to use their cars at some point (especially big thanks go to God on behalf of Jeanine, Monica, Cristine, Jamie, Katie, Amanda, Lance, and Joe). May He receive all the glory for your generosity. It is so great to have freedom again. It’s strange that even though I am sitting in the house and have not used the car much other than to get back and forth to school, knowing it is there waiting is such a freeing feeling. I am of course being very careful to use it as little as possible… Gas in the US might not be as expensive as it is at home, but it still eats into the wallet!

I thank God for His continual blessings.

Final Year 26th August, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Life, Multnomah.
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It’s amazing to think that I’m back in America and have already begun the final year of my M.Div. It feels good to be back here, surrounded by what has become so familiar, living with the incredible feeling that comes from walking in obedience to God’s will for my life. It has been great to reconnect with my friends here and add more wonderful memories to this Portland season of my life. I do of course miss Scotland and all the wonderful people there who are such a support to me.

I have loads that I want to write about but am currently computerless. My laptop went in for repair when I was home and they didn’t get it back to me on time. Hopefully it shouldn’t be too long until it’s delivered back home and my mum posts it out to me. Blog entries will be infrequent the next couple of weeks while I adjust back to Portland life and await the return of my computer.

It’s looking to be a great year and I’m excited about all the things God has in store. I’ll be in touch soon!

God is my currency 16th August, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Blessings, Me, Multnomah, Prayer, Support.
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Hi Scott. Got your latest ‘newsletter’ earlier this week. Asked God if He wanted me to do anything about what you need. I think he said £500, so I authised transfer of this sum to your bank account this morning. 1 Peter 1:2b

This is a text message I received yesterday, and as you can expect I fell to my knees to thank and praise God for His constant provision.

The path I’m on is not the easiest. I have had people close to me ridicule me, calling me a leech, a scrounger, and a waste of space because I’m not going into a “real” profession. They mock me and criticize me for walking a faith path that causes me to have to rely on God’s provision instead of being able to work. Despite this I press on knowing that God promises to provide, and encouraged by text messages like this one.

I have my days where I begin to worry if this is the semester that it won’t work out, but then I remember the biographies I have read and the amazing ways God provides for the people He calls. It would be far easier if I could get a job with a regular wage, but it’s not available to me.

So far God has provided everything I have needed for the first two years at Multnomah, and amount that comes to over $50,000! When I look back and see the amazing ways He has worked so far, why do I ever fear that this could be the semester it doesn’t work out?! I sometimes feel like I’m in the scene from the movie Cliffhanger, where Sarah is hanging from Gabe’s hand over a massive drop. But there is a MAJOR difference. My hand won’t be slipping out of any glove! God has me held securely, and every moment I spend dangling tests and grows my faith.

I praise God for the way He has provided for me. I rejoice in people’s willingness to come alongside me and support me. I give Him thanks for text messages like this one which demonstrate people’s obedience to Him in supporting His work.

I’m leaving the country on Wednesday with less money in the bank than I had hoped, but strangely I’m filled with excitement. I know God will provide, and so I will do my part and trust in His perfect promises.

Lion of God 6th August, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Books, Heart, Me, Multnomah, Prayer.
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You probably won’t be surprised to read that I have just finished another biography… and it rocked my world!  What should grab your attention however is that it has jumped way up to somewhere around the top of my books-you-must-read list.

Lion of God is the story of John G. Mitchell.  Most people haven’t heard of him, yet his legacy is AMAZING.  Dr Mitchell (Jack to his friends) is the man who started Multnomah.  He’s the man who put vision into action and created the school that I get the privilege of attending.

John Mitchell was an incredible man of God.  The biography uniquely looks chapter by chapter at different roles in his life – winner of children, mentor, husband, boss, fisherman, worker, brother, uncle, pastor, broadcaster, humorist, man of prayer, co-worker, teacher, family man – painting a very full picture of the life of Dr Mitchell.

Multnomah is known for its emphasis on the Word of God… a love that came from this man.  It is impossible to read this book and not be struck by the time he spent studying Scripture.  From his conversion onwards it was his habit to read, read, a reread scripture over and over and over again.  From his life and teaching it is clear that he knew the Word inside out, and many times during the course of the biography I could do nothing else but sit the book aside to pick up my Bible and feast.  If you want to read your Bible more (which you should), you should consider reading this book.

Not only was Dr Mitchell and incredible Man of the Word, but as will all the Great men and women of Faith, he was a man of prayer.  Some of his prayers are recorded throughout the book showing the depth of his scriptural knowledge as well as his deeply intimate relationship with God.  Dr Mitchell prayed in faith, fully believing everything he found in Scripture!

John Mitchell was a man who had his priorities right.  To find answers to faith questions he prayed for God to reveal truth while opening his Bible.  He would read from start to finish until he found the answer he was looking for, even if it meant staying up all night!  He loved much, pausing from work to invest in people, and taking time out to meet, talk with, counsel, or pray with the people who sought him out.  His heart burned to see lost souls brought into the Kingdom of Light.

But more than these, he was in love with Jesus.  Too often today we Christians get caught up in the business of life, in the responsibilities of ministry, and on our Christian “duties”.  John Mitchell was in madly and passionately in love with Jesus and everything he did flowed from there.  He poured over Scriptures to know the Saviour.  He prayed to be further intimate with Him.  He reached out in love in response to the Saviour’s work in his own life.  He took time out because he knew that is what Jesus would do.

This book was more than challenging… it was inspiring me.  As I read I was built up.  In watching this life unfold before me I was drawn closer to the Lord, and prompted to open the Word.  I saw an image of the kind of man I want to become, and of the long persevering path it takes to get there.  I was reminded often that this man who did amazing things for God was just an ordinary man like me, who had surrended himself entirely to god’s will.

Oh how I long to be someone known not for what they do, but for who they love.  I pray that like Dr Mitchell, people will remember me by how much I love Jesus.  I pray that I will be less concerned about the process of ‘discipling’ and more about teaching people to be in love with Him.  I pray that my heart will be filled with a sense of urgency for the lost.

The window into a man’s character–and soul–opens widest when he prays.  If he is familiar with the Person of God, with the Word of God, with Christian living in frailty and strength, then the depth and breadth of that familiarity will show best when he prays. (p300)

Are you in love with the Saviour?

If you compare the amount of time you spend in Word and Prayer with other interests in your life, does it reflect that love?

Fall in love with the Saviour

Free to Disagree 4th June, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Books, Multnomah.
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Free to DisagreeI sure am getting through a lot of books this summer! This book Free to Disagree was written by one of my favourite professors at Multnomah, Dr John Wecks. It’s a pretty unusual book, in that I’m not aware of having read or seen any books that cover the topic… Gray Areas!

In those issues of life that the Scriptures don’t comment on, who is right and who is wrong? Should Christians smoke or drink? Should Christians dance? Should we watch R-rated movies or read certain books?

Primarily focusing on Roman 14-15 and 1 Cor 8-10 he paints a Biblical approach to conflict in the neutral issues within Scripture. Dr Wecks delves into what Paul means by his descriptions of the weaker brother and the stronger brother.

A weaker brother is a Christian, who, because of weakness of faith, might be influenced to sin against his conscience. (p23)

A strong Christian is a brother or sister whose strong faith and conscience allow him or her the freedom to participate in a debate matter without sinning. (p27)

The reference strong or weak doesn’t refer to the Spiritual Maturity of the person, but to the state of their conscience over the issue at stake.

In these neutral issues it is not the side taken that determines whether the person is sinning or not, but their attitude towards those who don’t agree. A weaker brother can sin by judging a strong brother for drinking a beer. A strong brother can sin by looking down on a weak brother for not drinking one. We are called to love one another… not to judge.

In a case where someone wants to drink beer (a strong brother, because their conscience permits it) and a weak brother mentions his discomfort (weak because his conscience does not permit it)… it is the duty of the weak brother to refrain out of love for the weaker brother’s conscience.

I read this book a couple of days after having a big conversation with a dear friend who thinks it is wrong to read books like Harry Potter. Her thoughts come from her upbringing in which she was taught that any association with things like witchcraft are dangerous and should be avoided. We had a great conversation as she asked my opinion. My conscience permits me to read the books, in fact, I adore them. We talked for a while exploring each others views about the books in a very loving way. There was no condemnation for me reading them, and there was no judging for her not. God loves me and I read them, and he loves her and she doesn’t. Who is right? Both of us! God blows me away. It is an amazing thing that God loves the Jew and the Gentile, the Wise and the Foolish, the Rich and the Poor, the Left and the Right, the Strong and the Weak, those who read Harry Potter and those who don’t!

Free to Disagree is an extremely Biblical book and as such, refreshing to read! It’s great to say that I expected nothing less from Dr. Wecks. He is probably the man I respect most in how he handles God’s Word, and I pray that I can become more like him! I have several classes with him over the next semester and am thoroughly looking forward to being around him more. Hopefully he’ll rub off on me some more!

Learning about Prayer 27th April, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Heart, Life, Multnomah, Prayer.
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This semester I took a Spiritual Formation class called “Prayer”. One of our assignments:

This paper is to reflect a synthesis of what you personally learned about prayer from the classroom lectures, the reading, the retreat and the doing of your prayer project. Include your intended prayer commitments for the future”

And so because I have a huge conviction that prayer is a vital aspect of ministry, I decided to post my paper. Feels weird!
———————————————————————————–

Prayer is a mystery! It is an amazing gift that God bestows upon His children allowing us to communicate with Him directly—I will never comprehend how or why this is the case! I enrolled in this Prayer class because I wanted to grow in both my knowledge and my ability in the area of prayer and God has taught me several lessons over the course of this semester that have allowed me to mature in my relationship with Him.

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