Wake Up on Kindle

My Book Wake Up Is Set For Release

It’s finally here! Today is the day. I’m excited to officially announce the release of my new book Wake Up. This book is something I’ve been working on for several years. What started as a conviction and burden has turned into something that has already made an impact in the lives of several Christian leaders.

 

What Is Wake Up About?

I wasn’t always living my life for Jesus. God had to shake some things up in my life to finally get my attention. After being called into ministry and falling in love with Jesus again, I began asking tough question. Questions like: What does a Christ-centered church look like? What does a genuine follower of Jesus look like?

It didn’t take me long to discover that the church is broken. Sin is rampant, even acceptable, in churches around the globe. Christians haven’t acted on the Great Commission. False gospels are entangling well-meaning believers. As time passes by, we are growing more biblically illiterate. We’ve lost the love of Jesus that we once had. In Revelation 3:2, Jesus says, “Wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die…” It’s time to light the spiritual flame that was once there.

Wake Up is meant to push Christians and church leaders to give an honest assessment of our spiritual lives, and challenge us to go deeper for Christ through renewal.

 

Ending the Drift From the Heart of God.

It’s time we take Christ’s words seriously. It’s time we Wake Up. Will you join me on this journey to renew the church and end the drift from the heart of God? I can’t do it without your help.

Wake Up is now available for pre-order, and is set for official release on March 22nd. Be sure to pre-order your copy and tell all your friends and family to do the same! Once you read the book, don’t forget to leave a rating on Amazon.

The time to act is now.

Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

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Conflict

When Conflict Happens

When was the list time you experienced conflict? In today’s world, it doesn’t take long before we are confronted with tension. Turn on the television and listen to some news headlines. Politicians throw punches with words. Countries send messages with tanks and fighter jets. People enact revenge for the dumbest of reasons. Conflict even occurs in our relationships with those around us. A little argument can threaten to destroy friendships or even families. Conflict is everywhere and it’s out of control. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas have one of these times of tension in their relationship.

In it’s infancy, the church had people for all sorts of backgrounds. There were some Pharisees (group of people who studied the Jewish religious law) who joined the church. This group thought that in order to be saved, you had to first follow the Jewish religious law before following Jesus. They were teaching that you had to “be circumcised” in order to be saved. Because of this false teaching, the council met in Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas were there in order to inform the council of what great things were done through the Gentiles (these people didn’t attempt to follow the Jewish religious law). Upon leaving, Paul & Barnabas decided to head back out on another missionary journey, but they were in disagreement whether to take Mark along with them.

Let’s take a look at a few things we can learn from this conflict between these two spiritual giants…

 

Conflict should stay on a personal level.

After the council meeting, Paul and Barnabas decided to head out again to visit the churches that they had started. Barnabas was ready, but he wanted to take Mark along. Paul disagreed. It’s little conflicts like these that comes along in our everyday lives. Maybe you want to get the family together for Thanksgiving, but decide to try a new turkey recipe this year. Or you get some friends together to watch the game and you forget to invite a certain someone. Word spreads. Pretty soon your great aunt is on the phone with your cousin, trying to persuade them of how evil of a person you are. When conflict arises, take Paul & Barnabas’s advice. It should just stay between the parties involved. Paul didn’t go around and hang posters convincing the world of his decision not to include Mark. Barnabas didn’t write epistles about how evil Paul was for leaving out Mark. They just kept it to themselves. We need to do the same.

 

Conflict shouldn’t be taken personally.

Relationships without conflict aren’t relationships at all. God’s creation was good, until Adam & Eve did the one thing they were told not to. We rebelled against God and we now have to pay the price. Because we live in a fallen world, conflict with always exist. There will always be disagreements, fights, and even the silent treatment. You’ll never get along perfectly with anyone. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “If only people were just like me! This world would be a better place.” The truth is it wouldn’t. It would be just as screwed up, just as sinful, just as conflict-ridden as always. We’re all that way. Because of the flesh, we’ll always have the tendency to want to look better in an argument. We want to be right and we want them to be wrong. When conflict does occur, we need to remember what’s more important. Why did God create Adam & Eve? Why do we exist? For relationship! Don’t let a simple disagreement destroy a friendship. Approach conflict like Paul & Barnabas. Don’t take it personally.

 

Conflict should be handled in a way that gives glory to Jesus.

Paul & Barnabas were in the midst of a disagreement. After some quick discussion, it was done. They parted ways. Paul went ahead with Silas, and Barnabas left with Mark. It’s easy to think that this disagreement was a bad thing. But a simple disagreement itself isn’t bad. It’s how we respond to the disagreement that could potentially be bad. Paul & Barnabas kept this disagreement between the two parties involved. They didn’t go out and attempt to convince others of their cause. They kept it between themselves and they didn’t take it personally. Paul & Barnabas knew what was most important: their relationship. Because they handled this conflict in a Godly way, Jesus was glorified. As a result of these two parting ways, new churches were started, others were involved in ministry, and the book of Mark was written! A simple conflict, and many more people came to know Jesus because of it.

 

Every relationship is bound to have conflict. We’ll argue about anything just so we can win. But we need to remember what’s most important. The next time conflict comes along in one of your relationships, respond like Paul & Barnabas. Keep it between the parties involved, don’t take it personally, and always handle it in a way that gives glory to Jesus! How are you handling conflict? Are you glorifying yourself or Jesus?

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Keoni Cabral)

Baptism

What’s The Deal With Baptism?

Summer is in full swing. If you’re having a summer that’s anything close to mine, you’re drowning right about now. It’s a busy season at Hillside Bible Church. We just finished our summer vacation bible school program (we call it Camp Hillside…it’s cooler), began our summer youth events with our annual Messy Night, and are busy making plans for our fall kickoff. So far this summer, we’ve seen 18 people come to know Christ! This past Sunday was exciting as well. Like we do every year, we had our worship service outside at our church property. It is always a beautiful experience to worship the Creator in the midst of His creation. During that worship service, I had the honor of doing a couple of baptisms as well.

Baptism can be a confusing thing, but it doesn’t have to be. Today, churches and denominations differ on who to baptize, how to baptize, and when to baptize. Churches will even have different positions on why they practice baptism in the first place. Some christians place too high importance on baptism, and some too little. In light of this present struggle I decided to post a few thoughts myself on the subject of baptism.

 

Baptisms aren’t magical.

When I was younger, I attended a local vacation bible school program. It was during that week long experience where I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. Like the good little baptist boy I was, I was soon thereafter dunked into the baptismal waters. For me, expectation was everything. I expected to go into the waters “Scott v.1″ and come out of the waters “Scott v.2″. The problem was I didn’t feel any different. After being baptized, I still struggled with my sin nature. After my baptism, I still felt like the same old Scott I was. Baptism wasn’t the magical water that I had expected it to be. Churches need to stop sending mixed messages. Baptisms aren’t magical. The water isn’t anything special. It’s just water.

 

Baptisms aren’t a means of salvation.

Baptisms aren’t magical, and they won’t save you either. Just like Jesus said, there are churches and pastors today that preach and teach a message that’s different from the gospel. The good news of Jesus is the news in which we were lost but now we’re found. From the beginning of time, our sin nature got the best of us. And because we’ve sinned, we had a price to pay: death. Jesus came and died for us. He shed his blood on the cross as payment for our sins and then he rose again proving that if we just have faith in Him, we can have life! Salvation is found in Christ alone. We can’t earn our way to heaven. We cannot spend enough, work enough, give enough, pray enough, to earn our salvation. Baptism won’t do it either. The thief on the cross hanging next to Jesus wasn’t baptized prior to his death, yet he joined Jesus in paradise that day. Baptism won’t save you, only Jesus will.

 

Baptisms are a celebration!

Baptisms aren’t magical, and they aren’t your way to salvation either. So, what are they? What is this thing that so many churches practice? Baptisms are simply a celebration! The gospel, or good news, is the best news of all history. We were dead in our sins. Because of our sin nature, we had a price to pay: death. And because there was nothing we could do about it, we were doomed to be eternally separated from God. That is, until the Word became flesh. The Son left his place of glory with the Father and dwelt among us. Jesus lived a sinless life, but died a sinless death. He alone was the perfect sacrifice that we so desperately needed. Once you realize that Jesus loved you enough to die for you, your life changes. (Mine did!) This news, this gospel, is so life-changing, you’ll want to share it with the world. And, that’s where baptism comes in. Baptism is one way followers of Christ can share that message with the world.

 

Maybe this is the first time you’ve realized the power of that sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and you want to start a relationship with Him. That’s exciting! Don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to pray with you. Maybe you’ve been a follower of Jesus for some time now, but have yet to be baptized. Go celebrate the Son. Show the world how Jesus has changed you. Find a church and get dunked! Just don’t forget, baptism isn’t magic. It’s not going to save you. Baptism is just a celebration of Jesus!

 

 

(Original Baptism Photos By: Tom Harpootlian)

 

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Questions? Comments? Leave your thoughts below!

Walk on Water

Walking On Water

A good friend of mine approached me yesterday and reminded me of the story of when Jesus walked on water. It’s such a great story! Jesus had just fed 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. He figures it’s time for some alone time, so Jesus sends his disciples in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Just a quick note on this sea. It’s not your typical backyard pond. It’s huge! It is about 13 miles long and 8 miles across, and the waters can get rough sometimes. The disciples begin their quest to cross the sea, but Jesus stays back to pray.

Sometime later, Jesus decides to rejoin the disciples. But there’s a problem. The boat is far out at Sea. Jesus is nowhere close to the boat. For Jesus, the solution is simple: walk on water. Once he approached the boat, the disciples were stricken with fear. They thought he was a ghost! Peter, being the most outgoing disciple there was, asked Jesus to call him out on the water. Jesus does just that, and Peter walks on water with Jesus. After reading through the story, and reflecting on this passage last night, I’ve found two things we can take away from the story that I wanted to share with you today.

 

When God Calls, Listen.

Jesus called out to Peter. He told him to come to Jesus on the water. Peter did just that. After hearing God’s call, Peter acted. How many of us have heard God’s call, but haven’t acted? Maybe you know that you’ve been given the gifts in order to work with children? Maybe you’ve been called to join a small group? Maybe you’ve been called to help the less fortunate? Maybe you’re doubting God’s push on your life to begin a relationship with him? God calls us for several different reasons. Personally, God has called me into ministry. God doesn’t do that for everyone, but he does call everyone into something. What is God calling you for? Have you listened?

 

When God Calls, Don’t Doubt It.

Jesus called out to Peter, and Peter walked out on the water toward Jesus. He was doing fine, until he began to see the wind and the waves. Peter doubted God’s call. How many of us have heard God’s call on our lives, but ended up doubting. May you’re saying, I’m not good enough to do that for God? Or maybe you’re trying to tell yourself that, you’re not gifted enough to act out on God’s calling? God doesn’t call you into ministry to be the next Billy Graham. He doesn’t call you to become a surgeon in order to be the surgeon general. He won’t call you into teaching in order to be the greatest teacher in history. He calls you, so stay you! Never doubt God’s call on your life. Hear it, and do it!

 

Are you struggling with finding God’s call on your life? Maybe your wrestling with the idea of being called to have a relationship with God? I’d love to talk with you. Simply connect with me.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: the_tahoe_guy)

 

 

Chill Pill

Take A Chill Pill

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He goes on to tell his followers to invest in heavenly treasure instead of the treasure of the world. Included in this famous sermon is a portion of discussion on anxiety & worry, where Jesus calls his followers to live different than the world. As the world tells us that we should worry about tomorrow and always be anxious about providing health, fortune, and freedom, Jesus tells us the exact opposite. He says that we should simply place our trust in God.

Anxiety and worry is something that plague our world. Life is stressful. Bills have to be paid, salaries must be made, and all while our dependency on God fades. But we’re told to live different. Jesus says that we shouldn’t worry, and we should be anxiety free. Today, I wanted to share why it’s important that we remember to take a chill pill.

 

We’re Of More Value

The beautiful thing about living in a small town in Mid-Michigan is that there are plenty of animals. Whether it’s deer walking in the backyard, or geese flying overhead, there are animals everywhere. All of these animals are a great reminder of how God takes care of us. The deer don’t go around wasting time worrying about tomorrow, because God takes care of them. Jesus tells the crowd that gathers that the animals don’t have to worry, but we shouldn’t have to worry either. We’re of way more value than they are. We were made in the image of God. We are special. If God takes care of the animals how much more than does God take care of us!

 

God’s Proven He Has Our Best In Mind

We shouldn’t worry. We shouldn’t be anxious. Instead we should place our trust in God and have faith in Him. God has already proven that He has our best intentions in mind. The proof is shaped like a cross. Because of our sinful lives, there was a price that had to be paid. Jesus put on flesh and paid our price in full on the cross. He died so that we could live. He had our best intentions in mind then, and He does now. Don’t worry. Trust in God.

 

Worrying is a way of life, but it shouldn’t be. God takes care of the animals. We’re made in the image of God. We’re special. He can take care of us too. He’s proven that he already has. The proof is shaped like a cross. Whenever your stricken with worry or anxiety this week, just remember the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for you! Don’t worry, just trust in God.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Alon)

Fish

Live Deep

I know several people that will tell you that they know Jesus. They talk the talk and say all the right things. The problem is that when it comes to waking the walk, they walk a completely different walk than the one that Jesus has called us to. These people are surface level in their relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, we’re not supposed to be just surface level. For the past several weeks, we’ve been going through a series titled Deep in Christ at Hillside, where we’ve been looking at Romans 12. This week was a little different.

Sunday, I had the honor of filling the pulpit. We took a break of sorts from our Deep in Christ series, and we spent the day looking at an Old Testament character that lived deep. Noah wasn’t a surface level guy. The flood account in Genesis 6-8 tells us that Noah was different from the rest of the world. Noah’s example helps us to understand how exactly we might live deep. Let’s review how we can do just that.

 

Be Deep in Character

Noah found favor with God. He was righteous, blameless, and walked with God before the events of the flood took place. Noah had a deep relationship with God because he was deep in character. Have you found favor with God? Do you live a righteous, blameless, walk with God sort of life? Noah had faith in God. He put complete trust in Him. We need to trust God that He’s got our best intentions in mind. He already has proven that he does. The proof is shaped like a cross.

 

Go Deep in Calling

Character wasn’t the only thing that Noah had, he also found God’s calling. Just believing isn’t good enough. James tells us that faith without action is dead. Instead, Genuine faith always produces action. Because of Noah’s deep character, he was pushed to live a life of deep calling. He built the ark, the animals were assembled, he brought the food, he went aboard with his family. Noah did all that God asked of him. Are you living the life God has called you to live? Are you living a life of prayer? Are you in God’s word? Are you different from the world? Do you share the Gospel?

 

Live a Deep Life of Commitment

When the flood waters were washed away, and the ark finally came to rest on dry land, the first thing that Noah did was build an altar and offer burnt offerings to God. Noah saw all that God had done and he was pushed to worship after the storm had passed. Noah was committed to living a life of worship all the time. We should do the same. When things are going good: worship. When you’re healthy: worship. When you’re surrounded by family and friends: worship. But life’s not all good times. We must be committed to living a life of worship in the good and the bad. Are you sick, dying, alone, hurting, depressed, or angry? Time to worship.

 

Noah lived deep. He had deep character, deep calling, and deep commitment. What kind of life are you living? A surface level sort of life, or are you deep? Go deep this week!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Matthias Hiltner)

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Thoughts? Comment below!

Star Wars

What Star Wars Can Teach Us About Life

It’s May 4th: Star Wars Day. In honor of this special celebration I’ve decided to go all Star Wars on you. Not a big fan of Star Wars? This not the post you’re looking for? Don’t worry! This will be the only Star Wars post for a while, I promise. Amazingly enough, Star Wars can teach us something very valuable in regards to life.

 

In His Image and Likeness

In the beginning, God made all living things, plants, animals, and mankind. He created man and woman in His image and likeness. This means that we’re different. We’re special We’re made unique. Part of that image and likeness is the desire to create. Think about it, we love to create things. Some people love making good cookies, decorating houses, building tables, painting paintings. Other people enjoy creating programs, computer systems, websites, or even start-ups. We’re created in God’s image, which means we’ve been given the desire and the ability to create.

 

A Creative Creator

Let’s face it, whether you’re a genuine Star Wars fan or no fan at all, you must admit that the universe that George Lucas created is impressive. (Most impressive.) The Star Wars universe even has it’s own variation of Wikipedia in order to answer any Star Wars question one might be struggling with. This whole universe came from the mind of one guy: George Lucas. Similarly, our world is amazing. We haven’t even been able to explore the depths of the ocean. With such a vast, diverse, and different planet, there’s no way one can truly know everything there is to know about creation. The amazing creation that we get to enjoy every day is living proof of our amazing creator God.

 

Whenever I take a walk and soak in the beauty of of our world, I’m pushed to reflect on the nature of God. Even creation itself is pushed to create. We’re blessed with technology, medical advances, and even Star Wars. These “creation-creations” push me to remember the creator of it all.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: FiDalwood)

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May the force be with you as you leave a comment below!

baltimore-hands

Baltimore Burning

The community of Baltimore has been in the spotlight this week due to a recent outbreak of violence. Beginning early this week, several riots turned ugly and ended up spawning into arson, burglary, and even theft. The national guard was dispatched, and police in riot gear attempted to calm the crowd. Several nights of mandatory curfew were put into effect.

Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles club decided not to open up their game to the public on Wednesday afternoon. This game went down in the history books as the first ever baseball game with an official recorded attendance of 0. Several groups have tried to explain away the actions of these individuals. Some believe that these events were the results of a racism problem that’s crippled Baltimore since the 1960’s. Others have concluded that it was a viral social media message that pushed individuals to act out in a malicious fashion. Either way, we can learn a few things from the recent events of Baltimore.

 

Stirring the embers of sin with sin.

Sin is like a bag of your favorite chips. You never stop with just one. For example, one little white lie always leads to many, many more. In the Baltimore situation this week, one sin was stirred with many more sins, leading to an uncontrollable mob of sinful people taking part in sinful actions. Satan likes taking sin viral. Unfortunately, in today’s world that’s not hard to do. We need to be different. We need to be set apart, and take a stand against sin before it spirals out of control.

 

A Jesus response.

Free speech is a great thing, but when your free speech turns into looting, arson, and theft, then it becomes a problem. Jesus was a proponent of peaceful, free speech. He also gave us several fruit we should strive to live by in every situation; whether good or bad. We are to live with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul gives us this list in what we call the fruit of the spirit. If you’re upset, if you’re anxious, our response to any situation should be filled with these fruit. No matter what, our mission in life isn’t to live for ourselves, but share the most important message of all: Jesus.

 

So what can we do for Baltimore? Pray. Pray for peace. Pray that the people would be able to find comfort and hope in this time of uncertainty, confusion, and anger. Pray for the law enforcement of the Baltimore area that they might continue to serve faithfully, for their protection, and for their spirits. Most importantly, don’t forget to pray that the people of Baltimore would remember to honor Christ instead of stirring the embers of sin with more sin.

 

(Photo Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg)

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What are your thoughts on Baltimore? Leave them in the comments below!

Rainbows Butterflies

Life Isn’t Always Rainbows and Butterflies

A lot of pastors today teach what’s called the prosperity gospel. Maybe you’ve heard this type of message before? This is where, we hear claims that the promises of God are just waiting at your footsteps. Prosperity preachers indicate that health, wealth, and happiness are what you always get when you walk with God. The problem with this prosperity gospel is that it isn’t the truth at all.

If you’re at all familiar with the Old Testament, you know of the prophets, like Jeremiah. Jeremiah was called by God, but not to a life of prosperity. He committed his whole life to doing God’s work, and in return was rewarded with a life of tears, torment, and torture. Like many of the other prophets of the O.T., Jeremiah is just one example of why the prosperity gospel just isn’t true. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.

 

God never promised earthly reward.

Unfortunately, God never promised that this life would be easy. We’re all just a bunch of sinners living together on the same planet. There’s bound to be trouble eventually. Life itself has it’s fair share of challenges and difficulties we have to overcome. The fact of the matter is that God never promised his followers earthly reward. He didn’t say that this life would be easy, but he said that many would be persecuted. Look how they treated Jesus. That’s how you will be treated as a follower of Christ.

 

In the darkness of life, you’re not alone.

Though we were never promised an earthly reward for following Jesus, we are told that we’re not alone. God became flesh and lived a sinless life. After a few years of ministry, he was falsely accused, beaten, and tortured. He went to the cross on our behalf. Jesus lived through the worst of times for us. He warned his followers that there would be times when we’d be treated in a similar fashion. When we face one of life’s many difficulties, we need to remember that Jesus persevered through difficult times. He went to the cross. He can help you through it. We’re not alone when life gets dark.

 

There are many people that are struggling right now to get through the many challenges that life throws our way. We don’t need more false promises of health, wealth, and happiness. These lies only lead to disappointment. Instead we need to remember that life can get tough, but we’re not alone. If you’re experiencing a difficulty and would like to know more about how Jesus can help you through it, contact Scott today.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Beverley Goodwin)

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Have a thought or a story? Share it in the comments below!

Noah

God Remembered Noah

Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever felt like you couldn’t do it on your own? I know Noah did. In the early pages of Genesis we read about a man who walked with God. Noah was clearly different from the rest of the world, which was deteriorating rapidly. Men and women were plain wicked. Genesis 6:5 sums it up perfectly when it says, “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Creation had turned completely evil.

In order to fix this mess, God decided to start over. He killed off the entire planet with a global flood. Maybe you remember the rest of the story: Noah, his family, and animals of every kind were spared. After 40 days and 40 nights of rain, and after the earth was covered in water for 150 days, something interesting happened. God remembered Noah.

 

Your life matters to God.

In Noah’s day, the world had turned so evil that God destroyed everybody except for one. Noah was different. He mattered to God. Have you ever realized that you matter to God too? Don’t worry, God won’t flood the earth again. God won’t kill off the entire population of earth and spare just one. He’s not going to call you to build an ark in your backyard, but you do matter to him. You matter so much that he willingly died on the cross to cover your sins.

Jesus gave up his own life in place of ours. Because of our sins, we had a price that had to be paid. Because of our wrongdoings, we aren’t able to enjoy the fellowship with God like Noah once had. But when God became flesh, all that changed. Jesus showed his love for us on the cross. He lived a perfect life in order to be the perfect sacrifice. He died, so that we could live with him. That’s how much you matter to God.

 

You can make all the difference.

Noah was called by God to construct the ark. He was told to build it using exact specifications in order to save mankind, and the rest of creation. Noah made all the difference. Like I said, God won’t call you to build an ark in your backyard in order to save the world from pending destruction. Though God won’t call you to build a boat, he does call you to life a live of action. In living out God’s purpose for your life, though you’re only one person, you can make all the difference like Noah did. Go live for God!

 

God remembered Noah. He mattered to God and made a difference. Like Noah, you also matter to God. When you live the life God called you to live, you can make all the difference too. If you haven’t started a relationship with Jesus, I encourage you to read through the Gospel message in full. Have questions? Want to begin that journey towards walking with God? Contact Scott today.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Keoni Cabral)

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Share your thoughts in the comments below!