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Posts Tagged ‘Religion & Spirituality’

T Minus 39 Days Until Brazil!

Brazil friends

Friends from one of my previous Brazil trips.

The “official” countdown has begun! The past few days have made me all the more ready to leave for Brazil – my e-mail account was hacked and I’ve been sick all weekend (had a fever of 101.4 on Saturday) but I’m finally starting to feel better. My SUV has also decided that now is the time to start acting up again. Happy happy joy joy!

As of July 21, I am only $610 away from having all of my funds raised for my portion of the trip. If you are interested in contributing, it’s not too late (and it’s tax deductible). We have also added another person to our team – Elisabeth! If you want to pray for our team members specifically they are: Scott (me), Adam, Krista, Courtney, Valerie, and Elisabeth. We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we prepare for this exciting trip. Our next team meeting is this Sunday.

We as a team have decided to read 40 Days Living The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight as a way to prepare for the trip. The book focuses on the scripture passage Mark 12:29-31:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

When your primary focus is to love God and love others, then everything else falls into its proper place. The book is broken down into 40 chapters (a chapter a day) and one of the things it encourages you to do is to quote Mark 12:29-31 in the morning when you wake up, before you go to bed, and throughout your day. I’m really excited about going on this 40 day journey with my Brazil team to help us prepare for what God has in store for us in Londrina.

From The Library of C.S. Lewis – Not What I Expected

July 13, 2012 1 comment
From The Library of C.S. Lewis

From The Library of C.S. Lewis just wasn’t for me.

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

One thing I hated about my entire college experience was text books. Not only were they expensive, but they were so dry and boring to read. I found myself feeling the same way about From The Library of C.S. Lewis by James Stuart Bell. Don’t get me wrong, C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors (The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Miracles are among some of my favorite books) but this book was not what I expected. I lost interest after only four chapters.

The premise of the book sounds great – a collection of excerpts by authors and poets who influenced C.S. Lewis and his writings. Divided into eighteen sections, the book covers topics like God’s love, our love of God, knowing God, sin/temptation, self/the soul, grace/redemption, suffering, and faith. Each section has about 10-20 excerpts from various authors and poets regarding that topic. Each author or poet is given about a page to a page and half and under each excerpt is a sentence or two about the author or poet and their life. What gets confusing is within one section you may find multiple excerpts by the same author or poet, but they are not back to back (which to me would make more sense)…they are scattered throughout the section. Something else that really bothered me was that the excerpts weren’t explained – most of them completely went over my head and left me thinking “What did I just read?! I have no idea what that even means!”

If you are familiar with Christian literature, you will recognize several names including George MacDonald, Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, and Brother Lawrence. I really wished this book had given me more insight as to who C.S. Lewis was and who influenced him spiritually and as an author, but it felt more like a history lesson that left me bored to tears and more often than not with a headache to boot.

Photo Credit: By Amazon.com

Janet’s in Control While Jesus Takes the Wheel

control

Why do we have to be in control?

A great philosopher once said “I’ve got my own mind, I want to make my own decisions. When it has to do with my life, I’m gonna be the one who’s in control!” Okay, calling Janet Jackson a great philosopher is more than a little messed up, but she shares the same mindset as a good portion of the American people. We have the ability to make our own decisions, so therefore we should be the one in control. We’re constantly saying “Jesus take the wheel” but it’s like we’re the passenger in one of those driver’s education cars that has a steering wheel and brake pedal on the passenger side. We immediately grab the wheel and start turning the other way when we are taken in a direction we don’t want to go.

Why do we feel the need to be in control? Is it the fear of the unknown? Do we really think we know what’s best? We can’t make time go any faster and forcing the hand of others (including God) to do what we want just isn’t going to happen. More often than not, when I try to take control one of two things happens – I either stress myself out over the situation because I can’t actually control anything or things fall apart due to my feeble attempt to do things my way.

The Bible has some great advice regarding control.

1) God is the one who is in control, not us.

Jeremiah 29:11 states –

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

2) Worrying over something of which you have no control doesn’t benefit anyone.

Matthew 6:25-34 tells us –

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I know it’s much easier said then done, but sometimes we just have to learn to let go. We’re not in charge and pretending we are is only going to get us no where fast.

Enjoy Janet Jackson’s “Control” video below and ask yourself, “How can I relinquish control of my life today?”

Photo Credit: By Emilian Robert Vicol

Help Me Raise Support For My Brazil Mission Trip

Londrina

Londrina, Brazil

Nine years ago I had the privilege of being a part of something big in Londrina, Brazil. The church I attend (Buckhead Church – a campus of North Point Ministries) established a partnership with a church in Londrina, Capela da Graça (or “Grace Chapel” in English). We have worked with them to develop ways they can reach those in their community that other local churches have not. Over the past nine years I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on two additional trips to Londrina.

Recently I have been approached about going on another trip to Londrina to help Grace Chapel establish a Singles Ministry in their church. In Brazil, it is typical for an individual to go straight from college directly into marriage, but there has been a recent “changing of the tide” (much like that in North America) where people are waiting longer to get married. These young adults have no ministries geared specifically towards them as most Brazilian churches put them in with their youth group. When 20-somethings, 30-somethings, and older are put in this type of environment they are not challenged spiritually or personally, so they just leave the church.

I will be going with a small team (we are still finalizing the team, but between 5-8 single adults) to Londrina August 31-September 10, 2012. Each team member is asked to raise $3000 in support to cover his or her portion of the trip. There are three ways you can help support me and the team:

1) You can give online –

  • Go to: https://ssl.northpoint.org/ssl/globalx/
  • Fill in your contact information
  • Under GlobalX Trip Information select Brazil in the “country” drop down
  • Select Brazil Singles Event in the “trip” drop down
  • Type Scott Couey in the individual field
  • Fill in your credit card information (online giving accepts Visa, MasterCard, or AmEx)
  • Click “Review Donation Information” and finalize your transaction
  • A confirmation e-mail will be sent to you and will serve as your receipt to use for tax purposes (as donations are tax deductible)

2) You can donate via check. If you are interested in donating via this method send me a private message on Facebook or e-mail me at scottcouey<AT>yahoo.com (just replace the <AT> with @) and I will give you directions.

3) Most importantly, you can pray for our team. I will be updating my personal blog (https://scottcouey.com/) with details as we prepare for the trip and while we are on the trip.

Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated. Even if you do not feel like you can give much, every little bit helps. We have been asked to have at least 50% of our financial support in by July 6 and 100% by August 17.

If you are not able to give financially, I understand completely and know that the main thing you can do to support me and my team is pray for us.

If you have any questions or would like more information about our trip, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you in advance for your prayers and financial support!

In Christ,
Scott

Tender Warrior – A Contradiction In Culture

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Tender Warrior

How can a true warrior be tender?

When you hear the words “tender” and “warrior” together, it paints an interesting picture. How can a warrior truly be a warrior and be tender? Stu Weber’s 1993 (published again in 1999) book Tender Warrior seeks to inform the reader what it means to be a real man. In a society where it is the norm for children to not know their father, Weber is one who challenges the male population to stand up and be men. Using stories straight from scripture (including David, Jonathan, Caleb, Joshua, and Jesus), the reader is shown that being a true man is not defined by society. The ultimate “measuring stick” of a man should be Jesus, and not the picture the world has painted of Him – the true version that comes straight from the scriptures in the Bible.

The book contains sixteen chapters dealing with topics including the relationship between a husband and his wife, the relationship between a man and his children, being a leader, the tender side of being a man, a man and his friends, and a man’s relationship with his Savior. It is an easy read and even has questions after each chapter that would be suitable for a men’s small group study to use while reading the book.

Here are a few takeaways I got from Tender Warrior:

  • Being a male doesn’t necessarily make you a man.
  • Real men conquer for a cause.
  • Masculinity was made for connection.
  • Real men should be pro-visionaries. They plan ahead to set the standard.
  • A true man is called to be a king, warrior, mentor, and friend just like Jesus.

There were only three things I didn’t really like about the book: 1) The majority of the book was written for married men (especially men with children), but there was something in it for men of all stages in life. 2) Numerous times Weber’s illustrations seemed dated (he constantly used an illustration about a western television show he used to watch in the 1960s). 3) At times the author seemed to ramble a little. Some of the chapters could have easily been combined if he had cut back on some of the illustrations and just gotten straight to the point.

As a whole, I would highly recommend this book to any male who would like to make sure he is on the path to being a real man. For those who are interested, you can read the first chapter of Tender Warrior online.

Photo Credit: By http://www.scribd.com

Remember Me?

Buckwheat

“I’m Buckwheat! Uh member me?!”

There was an old Saturday Night Live skit with Eddie Murphy as a grown up version of Buckwheat from the Little Rascals. His catch phrase was “I’m Buckwheat! Uh member me?!” It was like that familiar friend from our childhood (okay, some of us saw the show in reruns) was back just as we remembered him. It was like he had never left.

Sometimes I feel like God says to us “Hey, I’m God. Remember Me?!” We get so caught up in our daily routine that we neglect the most important person in our life. Circumstances may come (be it a death in the family, loss of a job, divorce, etc.) and though it might not seem like it at the time, they will also pass. The comforting thing is the reminder that Deuteronomy 31:6 gives us –

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

The end of this month will mark eleven months that I have been without a job. It’s been a tough and trying time, but there have been many instances where God will orchestrate something in my life (like an unexpected interview) and it feels like He is gently whispering “Hey, remember Me?! I’ve got this!” I know that I will eventually find a job and I’ll be able to look back on this time in my life as something that was well worth the wait.

How has God been telling you “Remember Me?!” lately?

Photo Credit: By Michael Lehet

Leaders And The Leaders Who Lead Them

Jerry-Springer

"On the next Jerry Springer..."

Reality television is one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t enjoy shows like Jersey Shore, The Bachelor, or Dance Moms. I am more prone to watch shows like American Idol (my top 3 this year are Phillip Phillips, Colton Dixon, and Elise Testone with either Phillip or Colton winning it all) or Big Brother. Jerry Springer is definitely the king of reality television. Show topics like “I’m In Love With My Brother’s Second Cousin’s Mailman” or “Humans Who Dress As Dogs & The People Who Love Them” (okay, maybe those aren’t really show topics, but you get the idea) seem to suck in viewers like The Hunger Games novels.

What if we put a positive spin on the Jerry Springer show? Ladies and gentleman, may I submit to you “Leaders And The Leaders Who Lead Them” on the next Springer! In all seriousness, a leader is only as a good as those who lead them. I am very fortunate to have three amazing leaders who invest in me and as a result have made me the leader that I am today.

1) Andy Stanley – I attend Buckhead Church (a campus of North Point Ministries) and Andy Stanley is the Senior Pastor of all of the campuses. Every Sunday, he preaches a sermon that I feel like was written specifically for me. There are so many things that I like about Andy, but one I can easily relate to – Andy will openly tell you that he is an “extroverted introvert” (as am I). He can easily speak to large groups of people, but when it comes to speaking with people one-on-one  it is a little bit more difficult. He has to have downtime after speaking with individuals in order to process things. Having this same personality trait in common, I feel like I can connect better with him as the Senior Pastor.

2) Rodney Anderson – He is the Single’s Pastor at Buckhead Church. Rodney is only a couple of years younger than I am, but he has wisdom beyond his years. What I love about Rodney is he has a great memory. You can tell him about something that is happening in your life and six months later he will ask you about it with the same detail in which you originally told him. I was able to get to know Rodney better during our Singles Leadership retreat last year. Since I wasn’t working I was asked if I would be interested in helping them set up for the retreat. I rode to the retreat with Rodney and we were able to share our life stories and just had a great time getting to know one another. He is one person that I know I could definitely call about anything and he would make time to listen regardless of his schedule.

3) Mark Shull – He is the Director of Men’s Groups at Buckhead Church. Mark is just a couple of years older than I am. What I like about Mark is he tells it like it is…he doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He challenges me to think outside of the box as a small group leader. I was also able to get to know Mark better on the Singles Leadership retreat last year. He has two sons and I love hearing how he relates his relationship with his sons to his relationship with God. He has constantly checked in on me during my job search to see what God is teaching me through it all. I could definitely call Mark about anything as well.

As a leader, who is one leader that leads you and what have they taught you recently?

Photo Credit: By David Shankbone

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