Category Archives: Common Experience

Wait

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Friday had been the most difficult day ever. While it started out with a praise service in the Garden, it quickly turned to a dizzying sequence of arrest, skirmish, scattering and disbelief. Then, it was a joke of a trial, a campfire that still didn’t truly warm you, and denial (3 times).

Before you knew it, your Master had been brought before government officials, scourged, mocked, spat upon, and the increasingly growing crowds are screaming for His blood. Yes, Friday was a day you will never be able to forget, no matter how hard you try. The humiliation. The degradation.

The images of your Master being beaten to a bloody pulp, struggling to carry that heavy cross beam up the hill to the place of the Skull are surpassed only by the images of the spikes being driven in His hands and feet just before He is lifted up, high above the city, outside the city gates. There, the Master is hung out to die.

Too much to comprehend.

Hearing His cries of anguish still haunts you. But hearing Him say, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing” is haunting as well.  Forgive them?  Seriously? Then, as the skies grew dark and the whole earth seemed to shake, He gave up His spirit and died.  The Master died. Too much to comprehend.

Waiting, praying for God to intervene, and wondering why He didn’t answer those prayers, now it is Saturday, and the shock has not begun to wear off.  You are numb to your very soul. “Why, God? What possible good could come from this? How could You allow the Master to be crucified?”

You keep praying, but God does not seem to answer. The silence is deafening. You are broken in every possible way. You wait.

Still, no clear answer seems to be forthcoming, so you wait.

Your fellow followers of the Master are scattered, but slowly start coming back to a place with which you are all familiar. Hushed sobs fill the air. No one dares speak aloud. All are wondering the same thing: why? What next? Still, no clear answer seems to be forthcoming, so you wait.

You are exhausted from the events of the past 36 hours, but sleep does not come. More crying out to God, “why, God? What do we do now?” Still, no reply. So you do the only thing you know you can do at this moment. You wait.

You have no idea what is coming next, but you are trying desperately to trust God Who knows all and will work all things for the good. At least that’s what you learned over the past three years from sitting at the feet of your Master. Still, it just doesn’t seem like ANYTHING good could possibly come from the events of the past day and a half. You would LOVE to drift off to sleep just for a respite from the anguish, but sleep eludes you. So, you wait.

Friday is done. Saturday is fading away. Sunday is coming. Wait.

Be God’s.

We Are Family

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We ARE family!

 30-some years ago, we were introduced to Jim and Debbie Reeves.  As folks coming in new to Westwood Christian Church, our senior minister Don Boswell formed a group of young married couples to study Scripture and do life together. We met at Jim and Debbie’s house.

While we enjoyed all the couples in that group, a special bond formed between the Reeves’ and us. We found ourselves hanging out together outside of “church related functions.” I had our kids call Debbie “Grandma Debbie” (because she is a couple months older than me) from the get-go. People would ask if Debbie and Peggy were sisters, to which they would quickly answer, “YES!” We have a bond that goes far deeper than friendship. We are family.

We shared with each other in the ups and downs of raising our kids, and we share in the joys and heartaches of grandparenthood now. We can go months without communicating with one another, yet pick up like we just spoke earlier in the day. We are family.

Jim and Debbie come to Florida a couple times a year now.  They have a “retirement home” about two hours away from us (long story that is not important to this blog), and while neither are retired yet, they are making plans along those lines for the “near future.”

We had the privilege of spending some time with them last weekend, while they were here in Florida. We ate (way too much). We watched KY basketball. The girls shopped.  You see, Stein Mart was having this “huge sale” that they just could not resist.We ate. We cat-napped around the house. We had deep, meaningful, spiritual discussions.  We talked about stuff that made us laugh and had no eternal significance at all. We ate. We just relished each others’ company. Oh yeah, and we ate.

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Taco likes chillin’ with Jim and Debbie, too!

We have established a few “local spots” where we like to eat, and the trick is trying to hit them all any time Jim and Debbie are here with us.  We failed to hit them all, but it was not for a lack of trying!

While Debbie and Peggy are not biological sisters, we all are related by Blood. It is the Blood of Christ which binds us together.  The common interests we have, the common sense of humor we share, the bonds that endear Jim and Debbie to us are all because of our shared love for Jesus. We are truly blessed to call Jim and Debbie family, and honored that they feel the same about us.

God created us all to crave community. We were not designed to follow Jesus on our own.  We need people who share our values and faith, but who also share our likes, sense of humor, and goals in life.

Make no mistake about it.  I love being a husband, a dad, a Pop Pop. I love my biological brothers and sister. I love Peggy’s sister. I love our biological family. Those are important roles I play in life. But I love being a brother to Jim and Debbie Reeves.  They have made and continue to make this journey called life such a pleasure.

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Our shared love of the ocean is one of many traits that bind us together!

I pray that you have someone in your life like that.  If not, you are missing out on one of the biggest blessings God could every bestow upon you.  Our BFFs absolutely make our lives a more rich and rewarding experience.

How about you? I would love to hear about your BFFs and the impact on your life. Let’s continue the conversation in the comments section below.

Be God’s.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness. Perhaps the foundation issue to living in Christ and for Christ.  Oh, we are all plenty eager to accept the forgiveness of our sins from Jesus. However, when it comes to forgiving others…well, I don’t know about you, but that is an area of struggle for me far more often than I like to admit.

Recently, one of our Elders came to me in between services to pass along some information regarding a particularly nasty complaint. The Elder was apologetic for doing so at that time, but felt it was important enough to have the mini discussion with me right then.  I love this Elder dearly and am so glad for his leadership and his example of Christ-like love. The nature of the complaint he was passing along is irrelevant, but the impact it had on me…well.  I got through the next worship service, and then gathered a few guys to discuss the situation. Let’s just say that the party who was “guilty” of the “offense” handled it in a much more mature manner than I had.

As I have had a few days to pray about this situation, as well as to discuss it further with a few trusted brothers and sisters in Christ, I know that first and foremost, I must forgive the “complaint-ant.” What they said was extremely immature and extremely hurtful.  You might even say it was blackmailish in nature. My initial reaction was no better.  I was angry and bitter.  I am repenting through many steps including writing this blog post in the interest of transparency and seeking forgiveness.  I am also extending forgiveness unconditionally.

As I continue my Bible reading plan, “Immersion Into Colossians,” This verse has been screaming loudly in my ear since Sunday morning:

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I need to do better in the forgiveness business.  I believe that true forgiveness has a few characteristics that set it apart from merely accepting an apology or some other half measure.

  • Forgiveness is NOT excusing sinful behavior. Remember when Jesus spoke with the woman “caught in adultery” (John, chapter 8)? The crowd had dispersed, and Jesus asked if anyone condemned her. No one did, and Jesus said that neither did he, admonishing her to go and leave her life of sin. She was forgiven unconditionally, but told to repent and start her life anew.  My job is not to save anyone from their sins, but to forgive them and point them to Jesus by the way I live my life.

  • Forgiveness is healing.  When we extend forgiveness to others, the burden of anger, bitterness, resentment, etc. is alleviated. We are free from emotions that will take us further away from Christ, and can therefore concentrate on walking more closely with our Lord.

  • Forgiveness is unconditional. Even to the point of not needing an apology from the party which has offended you.  Forgiveness is a willful act of love extended even to someone who doesn’t ask for it (or deserve it).

  • Forgiveness is NOT forgetting.  While God forgives and forgets, it pays for us to remember even after forgiveness has been issued.  We may need to put ourselves in position to not allow a similar set of circumstances to occur in the future. Remembering wrongs done to us while truly forgiving the offender is simply a safeguard.

Okay, so what other characteristics of forgiveness would you add to this list? I’d love to continue the conversation in the comment section below.

Be God’s.

Hello, my name is Scott

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Whether anyone else reads this blog post or not, it is one of the more vital writings I have done in quite some time.  Hello, my name is Scott. I am a functional depressaholic.

Now, I may have made up that term, but I believe it adequately describes me at this point in my journey with Jesus. I know it is dangerous to self-diagnose, and I have prayed about this A LOT over the past few weeks. A little background first.

The past couple of months are my least favorite time of the year.  From mid-September through early November, I am reminded of the loved ones who are no longer with me. My Mom, and both of her parents all passed away during this time period.  Different years, but within a month or so of each date where one of them died. It is easy for me to slip into melancholy  during this time of year. I was super close to my Mom, and her parents were like a second set of parents to me as well. Granny has been gone since 1987. Mom since 1993. Grandpa since 1997. The pain is no easier today than it was 17 years ago, 22 years ago, and 27 years ago.

Now, I LOVE Jesus, and I know He has what is best for me in mind.  I do not doubt that even for one second.  I am blessed beyond measure. I have my salvation in Christ Jesus. I have the most wonderful, loving, kind, caring, supportive wife a man could ever hope to have. Our grown children all love Jesus and serve Him to the best of their abilities (most of the time – grin). I have three fantastic grandchildren who are the absolute joys of my life. I serve a congregation of believers who absolutely are family in every since of the word. I have brothers and sisters in Christ, who while parted by miles, are ALWAYS available at the speed of a text, phone call, or video call to pray with me, for me, and about me. I am surrounded by people who love me without reservation or condition.  I know that.

Still, I battle with bouts of “gloom, despair and agony on me.” I go through my daily routine. I spend time in prayer. I read God’s Word. I read books by folks who are much closer to God in their walk than I am. I listen to numerous sermon podcasts each week. I even mentor others in the faith. Still, I battle with bouts of “gloom, despair and agony on me.”

As I do so, I am learning a few lessons that I pray will be helpful for others.  I am going to share them, because I need to be reminded of them:

1) God is not offended by my doubts.
2) My faith is not weakened by my doubts.
3) Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.
4) I am blessed beyond belief.
5) My struggles are no less significant than the struggles of others. The comparison game is way too destructive, so stop playing it.
6) Spending time in prayer for the needs of people I know and love is therapeutic.
7) Admitting my struggles as a functional depressaholic is the first step towards true healing.

I am not looking for anyone’s pity. This is not a “pity party” writing. God is in control and He loves me (and you, by the way). I just need to confess this struggle in my life as I also give thanks to the God Who is so patient with and tolerant of me.

Thanks for reading this. I would love to hear any thoughts you may have. Your prayers and encouragement are always welcome. Please know that I pray for those who interact with me on this blog as well!

Be God’s.

Unity of Experience

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Today’s sermon at Vero Christian Church was titled “Unity of Experience.” Steve Jones did an excellent job relating how we have a common experience in the church, and how that without that commonality, the church doesn’t function so well.

As I have prepared to lead the worship service with this message in mind, as I have finished reading Brian Jones’ book, “Second Guessing God” (which I highly recommend), and as I have continued my work in Colossians chapter three, there are a couple of thoughts that just won’t leave me alone:

We all have a common experience – we are sinners in need of a Savior.

 In writing to the Colossians, Paul said in chapter 3,

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

We all have “been there, done that.” As Christians, we need to remember that we have the common experience of being outside of Christ, given to sinful desires, and given over to sin in our lives. Because of that the wrath of God is coming. Those who are still caught up in that lifestyle are destined for destruction.

Now, I know that my last sentence doesn’t sound very “loving,” but the truth of the matter is that the most loving thing you can say to someone destined for God’s wrath is that they don’t have to continue on that path. The most loving thing we can do is share with them our experience of once being lost, but now being found. We need to show others lives that have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ. We need to share the Good News of the Gospel of Christ so that they have the opportunity to accept the Gospel. It doesn’t matter if they are Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, Scythian, slave or free. Black, white, red, brown, purple, male, female, sex addict, sexually abused, alcoholic, drug abuser, liar, whatever. That is what we were in our common experience before Christ.  In Christ, put our our new selves free from our former ways of living.

 We all have a Savior Who has paid the price for our sin, all we have to do is accept Him.

I pray that it is your desire to share the common experience of your salvation in Christ with those who have not yet shared in it.  In so doing,I pray that you would have a shared experience of the Grace of God as expressed through His Son, Jesus.

May God provide opportunities for you to have such a shared experience this week, so you too, can say, “been there, done that” with a new, eternally rewarding meaning.

Be God’s.