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Spiritual Gifts 23rd May, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Leadership, Life, Musings, Spirituality.
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Spiritual Gifts is one of my favourite topics!  I guess part of the reason for this is that God created me with a passion for equipping people.  And I believe developing these gifts is extremely important in being effective for His Kingdom

When Jesus was on the earth he explained that it was good for us that He would return to heaven, because then he would send us His Spirit (John 16:7).  Why would this be better for us?  Because Jesus could only affect us from outside of us… but the Spirit can work from inside us.  The Spirit is a better teacher, comforter and equipper.

One of the Spirit’s roles is to equip us with the gifts necessary to perform our role within the Church.  The Church (empowered by the Spirit) is God’s chosen vehicle for reestablishing His Kingdom on the earth.  And the effectiveness of the church requires each of us to play the part God created us for (Rom 12:1-8 ;1 Cor 12:14-20).  Our value and sense of fulfillment are tied up in us doing what we were created to do.

God’s Spirit is the Greatest teacher and many times He has trained, developed and powerfully used people without them ever labeling the gifts they have.  However, by taking the time seek God and figure out how He has gifted us, we can partner with Him in developing those gifts and use this knowledge to help make decisions about the how and where to serve.

There is no hard fast rule on how figuring out how God has gifted you and there is no perfect tool to make the process easy, but there are some tools out there that, when coupled with prayer and input from people around us, can be extremely helpful in leading us to the right results.

Spiritual Gift Inventories

Spiritual Gift inventories are great tools for pointing us in the right direction.  There are two that I use regularly that are online:

  • Gifted2Serve:  I use this one the most.  I like the definitions it works from.  It includes the miraculous gifts but not the more skilled-based gifts (like music, craftmanship, writing, etc)
  • Kodachrome: This is my second choice.  The way it asks the questions can force greater clarity.  It measures for ‘every’ gift.

These tools make suggestions about your gifts and should not be taken as God’s Word.  (I use them to get the conversation going).   When you get the results the next step is to read and pray through all the definitions, and then to experiment and test the findings.  (A simple way is to ask friends/leaders how accurate they think they are).

Spiritual Gift tests are flawed.  The results of the tests vary because of a number of factors:

  • Answering based on what you want to have, or what you feel you ought to have.
  • Whether the test is questioning your passions, inner motivations, perceptions or past experience
  • The number of gifts included in the test
  • How each gift is defined.  (The same gift can be defined differently in each test)
  • The creator’s knowledge/bias (most likely, the test will more accurately define and check for the gifts the test-maker has that the ones the test-maker scores low on)

Gift Identifaction Patterns

In his book the Making of a Leader Dr Robert J. Clinton lists two patterns he has consistently seen over his years studying leadership emergence theory:

  1. Like Attracts Like – Potential Leaders are intuitively attracted to leadders who have the same spiritual gifts.
  2. Giftedness Drift – Potential leaders respond intuitively to ministry assignments and challenges that call for their spiritual gift, even if not explicitly known.

    A third pattern I am aware of is:

  3.  Giftedness Attack – Potential leaders’ brokenness and struggles directly attack the administration of their gifts.

Spiritual Warfare is real!  If our value and effectiveness is tied in to our ability to use our spiritual gifts then it makes sense that the Enemy of our Souls would attack those gifts.  Eg.  If I grow up in a family that instills fear and anxiety into me, it will paralyze my ability to exercise the gift of faith.  If I am a prideful/arrogant person, then my character flaws will ush people to reject my knowledge/teacher.  Being judgemental will lead me to question discernment…) So often, the various wounds, sins, and doubts that we fight have been strategically caused by the Enemy to hinder our effectivenessin the role God created us for.

Blasphemous Audacity? 19th March, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Church, Heart-Break, Spiritual Warfare.
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It is heart-breaking to walk around Scotland seeing beautiful church buildings that are no longer places where God’s people come together to worship.  The congregations slowly died off and now many of the beautiful and historic buildings lie rotting; others have become pubs, clubs, restaurants, theatres or school buildings.

Some are worse.

Our friend Josh  took this photo while walking through Edinburgh…

I’m saddened by the thinking that lies behind the name and picture.

We are so depraved.

My heart is heavy.

Come, Lord Jesus!

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)

Holy Spirit Power 1st June, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Church, Musings, Spirituality.
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I have been reflecting on the following illustration for the last couple of months. It comes from Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God:

This may be a silly illustration, but if I told you I had an encounter with God where He entered my body and gave me supernatural ability to play basketball, wouldn’t you expect to see and amazing improvement in my jump shot, my defense, and my speed on the court? After all, this is God we’re talking about. And if you saw no change in my athleticism, wouldn’t you question the validity of my “encounter”?

I love this image. If we, as believers, are filled with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit who caused Creation and raised Christ from the dead, why do we not see this in our lives?  Setting aside for now the idea of healings, deliverances, tongues, prophecy and all the other “power gifts” that get debated so often, consider for a moment His power in our attitude and behaviour.  I feel that as the Church, we spent too much time trying to manage our issues in our own strength rather than walking in His power.

God’s Word says:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (1 Tim 1:7)

Yet I see so many in the church marked by fear, broken relationships, and/or addictions. This is not because the Word is wrong, or the Spirit is not powerful… it’s because we spend too much time trying to overcome our issues by our own strength instead of passing control to Him and by faith cooperating with the Spirit as He works in us.

What should our lives look like?  If we have the Spirit in us…

  • Shouldn’t Christians be marked by a boldness and confidence in God’s Plan than makes us stand out from the rest of the world?
  • Shouldn’t we have a supernatural confidence and peace in the face of hardship?
  • Shouldn’t we be the ones with the strong marriages and solid families?
  • Shouldn’t we be known for our radical love and acceptance of people from all walks of life?
  • Shouldn’t we be known by our ability to face our struggles and walk in victory?  (Not that we never struggle, but that our outlook is one of hope, and are daily making progress to overcome those issues?

If someone looked at your life would they see a life that demonstrates the Spirit’s power?

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.

Jim & Casper Go to Church 18th November, 2009

Posted by Scotty in Books, Church, Spirituality.
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I just got done with Jim & Casper Go to Church, a book that frustrated the living daylights out of me through my oscillation between loving it and hating it!  The basic premise of the book:  Jim Henderson, a pastor of 30 years hires Matt Casper, an Athiest, to go to with him to various churches to evaluate them.  Jim’s goal is to dialogue with “Casper” and learn how church looks to an outsider.

Why do I love this book?

  • It acknowledges that “The Church” is far more than just a Sunday morning show.
  • It pushes us to ask the question:  Is how we do church really fulfilling Christ’s vision?
  • It validates the need for more one-to-one discipleship.
  • It challenges the church to be less focused on self and more aware of needs around us.
  • It calls Christians to live what they preach and break the hypocrite stereo-type the church has become known by
  • It shows some of the great things churches are doing around the States,
  • It gives some ideas of things churches could do to more effectively reach people outside of the church.
  • It exposes some false teaching
  • It encourages Christians to love and listen to those who don’t hold our beliefs, rather than trying to “prove they’re wrong”.
  • It advocates for authentic relationships.
  • It challenges us to think about the terms and practices we do that are foreign to those outside the church

Why do I hate this book?

  • It is successful in critiquing aspects of the church… but to a fault.
  • Casper’s viewpoint is often portrayed as general Athiest opinion, when he is only one person.
  • Casper is very vocal about pros and cons of the churches, but clearly has a style preference which affects his views.
  • Rating and Critiquing churches enhances the performance mentality that is the downfall of many.
  • Visiting and evaluating the churches feeds our current Consumer Christian mindset.
  • It dismisses events and roles that are (for some) critical elements of their role in serving God.
  • It downplays the fact that Scripture explains that God’s Word is foolish/offensive to people who don’t embrace the offer of salvation.

There is another thing I wrestle with which this book pokes at… what is the role of The Church?  Is it for either believers or non-believers?  Does it not have a part to play to both?

Is it wrong to have a part of the week, (e.g.) a Sunday morning, that has a focus on the believer, while doing other work that reaches out to the unbeliever?  If we choose to continue with a Sunday morning gathering should we cater ir for those who don’t have a belief in Christ so they are comfortable and provide other avenues for Christians to be taught… or should we cater Sunday mornings to those who place their faith in Christ, and create avenues for those who don’t believe to encounter Christians in another manner?

I agree that if all your church does is a Sunday morning entertainment session, and those in your church are focused on themselves… you are far short of what God has called the church to be.  If a Sunday morning service is music and a monologue, and your only method of equipping your body, there is a problem.  But if Sunday morning is one element of a number of ways you draw near to God, equip believers, and reach out to those who don’t accept our faith, and help those in need, then is it really that bad?

The widsom of the cross is foolishness to the world.  To someone that doesn’t believe in God… my life, poured out for Him, should be CRAZY to them!  The things I do should raise questions.  If God is real, and I believe He is… and if His Word is true and powerful, and I believe it is… then should we not be doing what we can to engage Him, proclaim His Word, and do what it says?

I do not by any means want to write off those who differ in their belief (or non-belief) system, loving God and imitating Him I desire to reach out to them and introduce them to the God I deeply love.  But I also realize that they will not understand unless the Spirit draws them.  I read in the Bible verse after verse about the persecution we will face if we live the way Christ lives… but too many believers (myself included) naturally choose the path of being liked, over the path of being hated.  We have to be willing to speak what God leads us to speak, thoughtfully and lovingly, knowing that it may not be accepted.  At the same time, a life with Christ is a wonderful adventure, and our lives should show that in a way that makes our lives attractive and desirable to others.

I have lots of questions and few (if any) of the answers.  All I know, is that every person, whether they have faith in Christ or not, lives a life that falls short of its full potential.  For we are all sinful.  But I praise God that His grace makes room for my failures as He works to make me more like Christ.

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.

Repentance 27th August, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Heart, Musings, Spirituality.
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I love how the Holy Spirit works in a life, and especially the events He uses to teach profound lessons.

On Friday I was at CityFest and it was packed.  It was so difficult to move from one end of the park to the other because the sidewalks were lined with people stopping to listen to the messages.  As a group of us tried to head from the top to the bottom of the park we got stuck in a traffic jam of people.  It took us 20 minutes to get less than halfway to our destination at which point we decided to give up and turn back.

In the midst of that crowd God had some profound words planned for me.  We were walking along in single file getting nowhere while next to us was a woman pushing a pram in which was a beautiful little kid.  She was doing her best to make her way through the crowd as people pushed her out the way and blocked the pram.  Behind her was a very unhelpful younger guy who looked like a typical college bum.  Complete with cigarette hanging from his lip.  Every time he took a lungful of smoke he would casually and thoughlessly blow it out all over the woman and her kid.  On a couple of occasions and amidst coughs the woman turned to him and asked him (politely) if he could stop blowing smoke on her and her baby, especially in the middle of a busy crowd where the air was already pollute with a million people’s BO!

It had no effect and he went right on smoking.  She turned round again and more assertively asked him to stop what he was doing.  He said “sorry” obviously not meaning it and just trying to placate her.  I was completely taken by her response.

I don’t want you to say your sorry, I want you to do better

Those were not words expected to hear and immediately they sent my mind racing.  How many times have I had someone talk to me about a struggle in their life where they have asked for forgiveness and yet been unable to break free of the hold of that sin.  How many times have I gone to God with my “sorry” fully regretting my sin and yet never taking the steps to “do better”.

This woman, who may or may not know the Lord, in this sentence summed up the nature of repentance hitting on something Christian’s often do wrong in the battle against the sinful nature.  It is not about going to God to say “sorry” but about “doing better”.  This does not negate the need to ask God for forgiveness… both steps are necessary in repentance.  The very definition of repentance is to turn 180°.  If we go to God and say sorry with no intention of changing our actions our words are empty… and God knows our hearts!

One of the difficulties with breaking free of sin is discussed in Authentic Faith:

Merely stopping the sin does nothing to address the yearning that led to the sin in the first place, which is why we must pass through the desert to embrace the virtue of detachment (p69, Authentic Faith)

When we acknowledge sin in our lives we have to first ask for forgiveness, then we “do better” by turning 180° on our sin (something we are only empowered to do because of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives!!!)  Contrary to our instant-fix mindset this isn’t the end.  Our body is used to the sin.  It has formed a bad habit as a result of our sinful yearning.  Just like a drug-addict going cold turkey we have to experience the struggle with the detachment that comes with giving up something our body and mind have come to rely on.  Although there are occasions when God grants someone instant victory, most often victory comes in small steps.  Moment by moment we have to feel the urge to walk in sin and resist it, teaching our body that we can do without, and replacing that need with a healthy alternative.  We have to go cold-turkey with our sin… praise be to God that His Spirit enables us to do this!

Where are you with that festering sin?  Are you fighting the fight or are you calling out to God with empty words?  Walking through the desert of detachment is hard, but by God’s grace you can get through it, being strengthened in your ability to resist sin and rejoicing in the freedom that comes through Christ.

Don’t just say you’re sorry, do better!

CityFest 27th August, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Church, Fun, Mission, Prayer, Spirituality, Worship.
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What a great weekend to arrive back to… Portland CityFest… an evangelistic conference in downtown Portland. It was an event headed up by the Luis Palau association attempting to reach out to the lost people of Portland with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

After being in Scotland for the summer and back around my church Re:Hope, it was a great reintroduction to Portland. Re:Hope has a burden for the lost people of Glasgow, in fact, for the lost people of Scotland. You don’t have to be around the church for long before you see and hear the passion people have for seeing God’s name exalted in that place. Over the summer I was struck by the urgency of taking the Good News to the lost. Hundreds of people die everyday without knowing Jesus… in Glasgow alone! I spent 7 weeks in Scotland praying about the lost and arrived back here to a weekend of praying for the lost people of Portland. I could hardly listen to the speakers because my heart was burdened to intercede for them as they spoke and for the people as they listened. And true to my calling, I could intercede for the lost in Portland without my heart also crying out to God for the people back at home. I pray that God would continue to increase my burden for the lost, and the sense of urgency for their souls!

There were also some very selfish reasons that I loved CityFest. When I moved to Portland I realized bands gigged here a lot and so decided I wanted to see Swtichfoot, Kutless, MercyMe, Chris Tomlin, and Jeremy Camp. Within my first few months here I got to go to a switchfoot gig, and then when Jeremy Camp came I opted out to go and sing at my cousin’s wedding in Kentucky. Arriving back to CityFest I was amazed to turn up on the Friday night and find that Kutless and Chris Tomlin were headlining. A quick glance at the program told me that Saturday would be Hawk Nelson, MercyMe and Toby Mac!

Chris Tomlin and MercyMe were outstanding and are clearly anointed by God to lead people in worshiping Him. It didn’t take very long with Tomlin on stage before thousands of people were singing their hearts out to God with their hands stretched out to heaven. MercyMe sang some songs that I wasn’t familiar with but very quickly I was whisked to the throne room to give praises to Him.

So all-in-all it was a great weekend. I got to witness God moving. I got to see people commit their lives to Jesus for the first time. I got to watch people recommit their lives to the Saviour. I got to see thousands of Christians coming together, and numerous churches working together. I got to see anointed musicians leading people in praise, and watch some of my favourite bands. I got to hang out with some staff from Grace. I got to connect with some friends that I haven’t seen all summer. I even got to make some new ones.

And more exciting than that, I had an increased burden for the lost, and plenty of opportunity to cry out to God on behalf of Portland and Glasgow. May His name be high and lifted up. May He received glory. May His Spirit continue to work in the lives of those who were touched by CityFest, drawing them into a deep and profound knowledge of Him. May you God increase my burden for lost souls, filling all of your people with a sense of urgency for souls of those who are far from you. Pour out your Spirit on Glasgow and Portland calling people out out from the dominion of darkness and into the Kingdom of the Son you love. I pray for Luis palau, Kutless, MercyMe, Chris Tomlin, Hawk Nelson, Toby Mac and all those other people you have raised up to bring you glory… that they would keep their eyes fixed on you and be used to draw people into your arms. All these things and more I bring to you in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

The Unchanging Word 4th July, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Books, Heart, Spirituality.
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Today in some fields the science of November has discarded the science of February. In the basement of our great libraries are past editions of the encyclopedias which reveal the shifting change in man’s opinions about science, but always the Word of God stands unchanged.

…Through all of the shifting of the hypotheses of men, the Bible stands alone in its unique position.

As the pendulum swings from hypothesis to hypothesis, as theories are advanced and discarded, the little of true knowledge that is acquired once and for all, and which is being increased grain by grain, is always in line with the truths announced in the Word of God.

Donald G. Barnhouse, The Invisible War, p70-71