Be Yourself – Everyone Else is Taken

Do you ever wake up and feel like ‘the world’ hasn’t been completely honest with you? I do. I’ve been having ‘one of those days’ a lot in the last week or two. It has to do with who I am and what I can do and cannot do.

As a child I remember my Mom telling me that I can do anything I want to do, if only I will put my mind to it. I remember my public school teachers telling me something similar to that, as well as some older adults that influenced my life. I know what their intention was behind this phrase – “Believe in yourself. Don’t limit yourself, but instead, dream.”

They were right.

Sort of. 

Time and time again I have discovered throughout my life that there are things I do not do well. I do ‘okay’, but the subject matter or the activity doesn’t grab me. It does not hold my interest or bring me life when I engage in the activity. Try as I might, it’s just not there. There are other times when I will throw myself into an activity or attempt at trying to wrap my head around a particular subject, and I simply cannot do it. Not that I don’t want to. I simply cannot do it – either wrap my head around it, or literally do not have the capability to pull it off. And then…there are those times (like all of us) when we try something and go, “I – LOVED – DOING – THAT!” It doesn’t matter whether it’s hard, it just brings so much life and it honestly feels like a ‘good hard’.

A couple of weeks back I was having this conversation with God and with myself (which can be a really scary thing to engage in as I can end up confusing the conversations I have with myself as being ‘God’s voice’.). But what I heard him say, was right out of Romans 12 where Paul talks about offering our bodies as a living sacrifice. I heard him say that the only thing I can offer is ‘Scott’. In fact, that’s the only living sacrifice that I can offer him.

I cannot offer anyone else, because that is not ‘my sacrifice’, and since it is not mine, I have no business in expecting God to accept it. As I continued to read on, Paul gives this warning: “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” Got it!! Be honest in your evaluation of yourself, Scott.

Paul then goes on and basically says that once you have found that ‘thing’ that brings you life, then do that to the best of your ability. Got it!! Find what you do and then focus your energy on that and bring your A game to the table.

I think I’m figuring out part of what Jesus is inviting me to when he says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!”

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Out of the Mouth of Babes…

Last week my Vineyard family surprised me in a big way by loving on me ‘Just Because’ (see last week’s post which explains what ‘just because’ is). I blown away just cuz they did it. Fabulously surprised and proud to see my son Zac and one of my daughters Autumn stand up and honour me in such a way that defies description. Very proud of my wife, April for the words she said and the support she has given to me over the years. Humbled at the amazing work that Donna, my passionate Pastoral Assistant, went to, to pull this off. I didn’t have a clue that it was going to happen, and she had been working on it for about a month!

I received many cards and encouraging notes…people simply loving on me. There are so many I could mention, however, there is one that stands out to me that I would really like to share with you. It’s from a young boy named Josh. Because he is not old enough to express himself using words, he drew a picture for me. His mom asked him what it meant and so he explained it to her. Knowing that I should probably know the meaning behind the picture, she asked him to describe again what the picture means, and while he explained it, she wrote it down.

Here it is…

Jesus, may I always remember that you gave me that little push, so I could push others.

Amen

Stunned, Shocked, Surprised…and Speechless!

This past February, two significant events occurred: one happened in our church, and the second occurred in my life. In our church we have this tradition we do every February called Just Because. It’s all about our Vineyard family loving on our Vineyard family…tangibly loving one another. It all started with our late Assistant Pastor, Rob Hall. Rob had a way about him where he just loved to do things spontaneously…and this was one of those things.

So for three or four weeks in February we take a glass vase or jar, place it on a table which is in the middle of our centre aisle, and ask folks to throw change or bills in…whatever they have on them. It’s not planned…ya just give…just because. At the end of the month we take all the cash and buy various gifts – some big and then some just to say ‘we love you, just because’. On either the last Sunday of February or the first one in March, we surprise people with the gifts throughout our service. It’s fun and a great encourager for those receiving. This Sunday, we did that and had a blast!

On February 5, it was my 10th anniversary as a pastor. Ten years when I walked away from a career I loved and into my calling. January and February have been tough months for me emotionally. I’m not really sure why my emotions have been all over the map, but they have been. My lows have been very low. I’ve wrestled with so many things to do with my calling and have had to face some tough realities about how I’ve walked out these ten years.

So this Sunday, we worshipped, gave out gifts, and I preached my heart out. At the midway point of my message at the second service I had turned around to read the scripture off the screen – so my back was to the congregation. I heard what sounded like someone coming into the sanctuary with a noisy stroller…and I just kept on reading this passage with all the passion I had. I turned around and there in front of me was my son Zac and his wife, Sara, with my daughter, Autumn with a food cart that had this huge cake on it. 

I was stunned, surprised, shocked, and utterly speechless. My brain went into high gear trying to figure out what was going on. I think I asked out loud what was going on, and from somewhere, I heard the words – ‘Just Because’. I looked at the cake and written were the words, “Happy 10th Anniversary”. I was at a loss for words and had no idea what to say or do.

And then the most surreal thing happened. Zac and Autumn took the mic and addressed everyone. In front of my congregation they honoured me for all the years that I worked away on my degree while working full time and being a dad. They hi-lighted my perseverance and how I never gave up, regardless of how difficult it was. How I have been an inspiration for them. My wife, April, then got up and shared with everyone the demands of pastoring and how she is proud of me for how I have handled the past ten years.

I was presented with letters and cards from children and adults, gifts, a photograph of April and me signed by everyone in the congregation, and a photo album of various photos (early married years, policing, and pastoring).

Yesterday was absolutely amazing for me. I serve an awesome group of people who passionately love Jesus…and love their pastor. Jesus is good to me, and he sure puts up with a lot from this guy. I’m so thankful it was a cake on a cart and not a pie in the face!

Oh yes…I did find out who was responsible for pulling this off without me catching so much as a whiff of what was happening. But that’s for another post…I promise!