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

Janet’s in Control While Jesus Takes the Wheel


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, 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:
  • 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> (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 ( 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,

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

Remember Me?


“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


"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

Follow The Leader?

This is something I recently found that I wrote back in 2001.



Adults, do you play follow the leader?

Follow the leader — what a great game for preschoolers. Now that I am much older, I look back at those days gone by and wonder what I really learned from this harmless little childhood game. How can I apply these “lessons learned” to my life in the here and now?

First I learned to let others dictate what I do. I do not have to think for myself; just follow the crowd. Do not question the leader’s abilities or his/her qualifications as the leader. Lastly, do whatever you can, at any cost, to become the leader. Wait a minute! Are we still talking about a childhood game or life in general? Makes you stop and wonder, does it not?

As we get older these “rules” are essential to our survival in life. Exodus 20:12a tells us, “Honor your father and mother…” and Romans 13:2 warns us, “…he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against who God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” How do we prevent mindless following but not rebel against authority and also honor our parents? Our parents and those in authority over us when we were children instilled in us morals, a sense of right and wrong and general social etiquette. This is especially true if your parents took you to church on a regular basis. Mom and dad were the ones to lay down the law for you. There was no question of what you should do; the question was “Do I do it or do I face the consequences of not doing it?” Our parents definitely had the previous experience of leading us from their mistakes that they learned and they would not knowingly lead our infantile minds astray.

Pastors are authority figures that we take for granted. We often sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday like a sponge soaking up what we are told without question. I have been very fortunate to have had two wonderful Pastors, one at my home church and one at the church where I currently attend. I consider both of these gentlemen to be great men of God. One thing I admire about both of them is they have both said (from their respective pulpit) “Do not just accept what I tell you. Look it up and research it on your own. I am human and may unintentionally lead you astray. Please hold me accountable to assure that what I speak is the one and only God inspired truth.” I have a great deal of respect for someone like that who openly admits his faults and his limits. Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Notice it says “…through the word of Christ” and not “…through the word of the Pastor or Preacher.”

Matthew 16:24 tells us that life is not about us. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (emphasis mine). If we follow the ultimate Leader, things will work out in the end. Taking the focus off of Christ and placing it on ourselves can cause utter chaos and can lead others astray. 1 Timothy 4:16 “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

We will go through many times in our life where we question anything and everything. Make sure that your faith is your own and not your parents’, you Pastor’s, or anyone else’s. Questioning your faith makes you grow. Proverbs 14:15 informs us, “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” It is okay to play follow the leader, but make sure you are following the right Leader!

Photo Credit: By Ben Hoyt

Psalm 40 and U2

March 26, 2012 2 comments

"I waited patiently for the Lord..."

This afternoon I had a coffee meeting with a friend from church. Before I met with her, I had few minutes to spare and so I opened my Bible to Psalm 40. For some reason I just found I could relate more to this passage right now. As I shared with my friend over coffee, I do not really feel like I have anyone against me…but I do feel like I’ve been through the muck and mire when it comes to things in my life lately – job search, SUV issues, and some personal matters.

I love how The Message version of the Bible translates several verses in this passage:

Psalm 40:1-2 “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked, finally He listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.”

I honestly feel like I am still in that “waiting for God” stage most days. I know eventually He will lift me out of the circumstances with which I am dealing and put me in a safe place, but right now I feel like He is using those circumstances to help grow me and to teach me something.

Psalm 40:11-15 “Now God, don’t hold out on me, don’t hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn’t see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out. Soften up, God, and intervene; hurry and get me some help, so those who are trying to kidnap my soul will be embarrassed and lose face, so anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable will be heckled and disgraced, so those who pray for my ruin will be booed and jeered without mercy.”

In some ways I can related to David (the author of this passage). I do feel like I’m waiting for God to intervene and do something – and do it quickly. However, I do not feel like anyone is intentionally trying to make me miserable or that anyone is praying for my ruin. The only things that I feel like I’m facing are circumstances that are brought on by the devil (and not in a “the devil made me do it…he’s in everything that I see as negative” type of way, but I do believe he is alive and well and orchestrating things behind the scenes to trip us up and denounce our faith — “spiritual warfare” as it is often called) and I would love to see him embarrassed, lose face, heckled, disgraced, and a whole lot more!

Psalm 40:17 “Let those who know what You’re all about tell the world You’re great and not quitting. And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it, You’ve got what it takes — but God, don’t put it off.”

This is a great reminder that God is not finished with me (or any of us for that matter) yet! I agree 100% with David – I am a mess on my own, but through Christ I have the strength to do all things (Philippians 4:13).

Each time I read this passage, I immediately think of U2’s song “40.” Enjoy a live rendition of this song in the video below.

Photo Credit: By Chris Yarzab

Take A Break – You Deserve It!

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

It's okay to take time to relax!

When life gets busy, other things have a tendency to fall by the wayside. What makes matters worse is we start feeling guilty as a result. It is okay to take time away from the people and things we love and enjoy. Returning to these things only reminds us how much we really appreciate them. Give yourself permission to take a break.

Some religions believe in what they call “Sabbath.” This is just dedicating time to yourself where you can turn off your phone, shut down the laptop, and just refocus for a day. If you don’t take this time, you can easily experience burn out and you will not be at your best in whatever you do – be it personally or professionally. How you spend this down time is up to you. I enjoy spending time with friends, listening to music, or reading something fun. Each person is different and how they “recharge their batteries” is just as unique.

I have several friends who work for a church and as result they are typically working on Sunday (when most people take their Sabbath). These friends usually have Friday off, so they make that their day of rest and refocus. It doesn’t matter when you do it, it just matters that you do it. Find time in your schedule that works best for you and permit yourself to just enjoy time away from your every day life.

Do you take a “Sabbath” day each week and if so, what do you do on that day?

Photo Credit: By lukey dargons

%d bloggers like this: