The Weight of Troubles

One day while I was in the gym (this was around the year 1990, back in the good ol’ days when I was still strong and lifting weights) an acquaintance approached me and asked if I would give him a “spot” for his next set of squats. A spotter is the person who stands behind the person doing the squat exercise, like in the photo, and helps him stand up if he gets “stuck.” The guy who asked me to spot him happened to be a national weightlifting competitor. The amount of weight he had on the weightlifting bar was around 600 pounds, the same as the amount in the photo. I was a bit hesitant because I knew that if he got “stuck” I may not be able to help get him up with that much weight. Typically, for that much weight, you use at least 2 spotters. But, he said one spotter was enough because he could “handle” that weight. So, he went under the bar and raised it up from the weightlifting rack. HOWEVER, he had forgotten to put “safety clips” on both sides of the weightlifting bar, so there was just one side that had a clip. Clips keep the weights from slipping off of the ends of the weightlifting bar, especially when using heavy weights because the bar will bend downward. Well, as you can guess, when he took the weights off the rack, the bar bent and immediately the cast-iron weights on the side of the bar with no clip fell onto the floor like a striking explosion of sharp thunder! THEN, after one side of weights emptied onto the floor, the bar tipped to the other side, which had the clip on it, holding that one side of weights onto the bar. The end of the 45-lb steel bar (like the one on the photo) now emptied of its weights bounced around the metal weightlifting rack like a ping-pong ball, just missing our heads and bodies. The entire crowd of people in the gym turned around because the noise, and the impact, shook the entire building! After this crazy incident I returned, a bit stunned, to my workout. This guy put the weights back on the bar, this time with safety clips on both ends of the bar, and he approached me—again—asking me to spot him. I said NO WAY!

Lately, a certain verse in the Bible has been my anthem! It is 2 Corinthians 4:17, where Scripture says, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” I began to memorize this verse and it has been running through my mind the past few weeks. The words in bold are what hit me the most. Notice the contrasting words “light” vs. “far outweighs.” Found in these contrasting words is a crucial life application for us as Christians! In this life all of us have experienced troubles! Such as the loss of a loved one, or a cancer diagnosis, or a major financial setback, or a seriously sick child, or an addiction, or pain from our past…and any, and every, other possible life issues that exist. Personally, the last year has been tough! My mom had a stroke, and a pastor helping in one of our international crusades was murdered for being involved in our crusade, and I reinjured a surgically repaired shoulder, along with other stuff. And, blended in with all of it, just a few weeks ago I discovered (by God’s grace) that for at least the past 5 years I have been living with undiagnosed sleep apnea, which left me deeply exhausted and “off” throughout every level of my being. Actually, tomorrow a sleep apnea machine is to be delivered that, God willing, will help with this issue.

The “weighted” issues we face throughout our lives are real and important! Sometimes our life issues are extremely painful, and even life threatening. The Bible verse given above is not saying we should minimize our troubles, put on a fake smile, “suck it up,” and over-spiritualize the reality of our light and momentary life troubles. Scriptures are not to be used as a band-aid of denial to escape the reality of our troubles! Rather, to those of us who have accepted, and who are following, Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, this verse offers us very real and strong hope! Imagine this verse applying to us this way: the “weight” of losing a loved one to cancer, or of a hurricane taking our home, or of a troubled child, and anything else in life that hurts us and “weighs” us down, is equal to the amount of weight the man is weighed down with in the photo, around 600 pounds—an overwhelming amount of weight! Now, imagine our 600 pounds of “light and momentary troubles” are put on one side of a balance scale, and on the other side is placed a 600 million pound block of concrete. Our “light” 600 pounds is “far outweighed” by the 600 million pound concrete block. This is what life on earth vs. eternity is like! Our “light troubles” throughout our “momentary” earthly life that, on average, lasts 77 years, will “achieve” for us—in Christ—a level of glory, praise, power, love, and peace that will infinitely “outweigh” our earthly troubles in both quality and quantity! That word “achieve” means this in Greek: “work down to the end-point…to an exact, definite conclusion…bring to decisive finality…end-conclusion.” Simply put, the total weight of our pain during our Christian life—if we allow God to work in and through our pain according to His will—will be transformed into, and completed into, eternal glory, joy, peace, and rewards, that will be one million times “heavier” than the weight of our earthly pain! At some specific year, month, week, day, minute, and second in the future, our life on this earth will end. THEN…try and imagine one million, one billion, one trillion years, and then some, of millions of pounds of eternal life completely and totally overflowing our souls and spirits and eternal spiritual bodies with love, joy, and peace…to then share it all—forever—in eternal fellowship with Jesus, and our Christian family, and our Christian friends, and every other Christian who has ever lived! At that second, it will all be worth it!

Achieving eternal glory,

Scott Nute

Scott Nute June 26, 2018 Filed in Blog No Responses

Who Judges Who?

How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t judge others and don’t judge me! That is what the Bible says…we are not supposed to judge people!” The next time someone says that would you respectfully and sincerely ask them to explain to you the context of what they mean, and where in the Bible does it say that? There is a chance they will take the Bible out of context in an attempt to explain what they mean. So, it is important for us to be informed of what Biblical judgment means so that we can accurately answer the questions: 1) Are We to Judge Other People? And, 2) Are Christians to Judge Other Christians? The majority of the following blog will focus on question 2.

I am by no means a Greek or Hebrew Bible scholar and have no Seminary degree, and do not in any way want to hint I think I am a Bible expert by writing this article, as I am not even close. Rather, my goal is to cover a general topic using some basic Greek New Testament as evidence. Feel free to look up the following words in Greek for yourself for your own study to formulate your own opinions.

In my personal opinion, the Church as we have it today—the Body of Christ—especially in the United States, slowly began entering a theological “cotton candy” phase decades ago. On a larger scale much of the country and world, due to satellite television and the internet, become exposed to, and began “drifting” toward, an easier, softer, sweeter, more comfortable, self-absorbed “Gospel.” Society in general seems to have subtly moved into the “me, my family, and I” focus instead of others and the Great Commission focus. By that I am not saying we are too neglect our duty to love and care for our families, friends, etc., but rather we must realize that in each of our Christian lives the Great Commission is to be of utmost importance! In this day and age, we are at a point where it is not “politically correct (PC)” to have much, if any, discipline in the church. Nor is it PC to have any confrontation for questionable “gray area” behaviors or outright sinful behaviors. If we do, then people, including many Christians, are quick to whip out their out-of-context Bible knowledge and quote from the “Bible” where it says, “Do not judge others” in Matthew 7:1. But, they just stop after that one verse, which leaves a huge hole in the fuller contextual meaning of what the word “judge” really means. So, let’s look at this word “judge” as we should, in the full context of what the Bible means, as this Biblical word “judge” actually has different meanings and applications to our lives.

First, let’s look at 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5, where the context is serious sexual immorality taking place by Christians. Verse 12-13 says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” What Paul was basically saying here is to confront, discipline, and if necessary, expel and “judge” the Christians committing incest. Paul said to expel and to “judge” these Christians in the hope they will repent and stop their sinful behaviors and return to the Church. However, those outside the church, the non-Christians, we are not to “judge” because they aren’t believers yet. If we distance ourselves from every sexually immoral person who is not a Christian, how will they ever hear the Gospel and have the chance to repent and accept the love and mercy of Jesus Christ? In a nutshell, Paul was saying in the world outside the church there is going to be lots of sin, which is “normal” for the satanic world and this should not shock us. However, inside the church where believers in Christ are, there should be much less sin, and if a brother or sister in Christ is in sin we are to “judge” them. Now, the big question is…what does this word “judge” really mean?

In these verses we just read, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, the word “judge” is the Greek word, “krino,” which means “to divide, separate, to make a distinction.” Imagine taking a knife and cutting open an envelope you received in the mail to see what is inside. This is basically what this word means…to open up, to investigate, and to scrutinize. In this particular text, “krino” does not necessarily mean to judge in a condemning final verdict. Rather, to “judge” by questioning inner content and motives, and by questioning outer choices, and by evaluating the possible effects certain behaviors and such can have on ourselves, and on others, in the short and long term.

This Greek word “krino” is also used in the verse we started with, “Do not judge…” in Matthew 7:1. It is a mistake, however, to stop after the first verse of this chapter, so for context, here is Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In these verses we find the same Greek work “krino” that was used in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, where, let me say again, the Bible told us we are to “judge” Christians inside the Kingdom of God. Krino is used 4 times in this text of Scripture in Matthew 7:1-5, which means it is an important word to have been used that many times in just a few verses. As we study the entire context, at least two things are clear: 1) We are not to “judge/krino” others if we have not first evaluated our own lives for “planks” of sin, as it says in verses 3-5. Example: if I watch pornography, how can I go talk/judge/krino to a brother in Christ who lost his family due to his pornography addiction? I would be a hypocrite, as it says in verses 4-5.  2) After we evaluate our own lives, and have sought and received outside objective Biblical counsel and accountability, and after we have removed our “planks” in our lives, we are to then humbly and respectfully go to our brother/sister in Christ and lovingly “judge/krino” them—perhaps with tough love—and talk to them about any questionable behaviors they are doing in their Christian life. We don’t “condemn” them, as that is a different Greek word we will talk about next. But rather we confront them on their behaviors and choices for the sake of questioning them, and scrutinizing their choices, and talking to them to see if they understand, and see, that some of their choices and behaviors are questionable and can damage their walk and witness for Jesus Christ.

Let’s move on to a second word used for “judge” in the New Testament. We just alluded to it, it is the Greek word “katakrima” that is used for judging as a “condemnation.” This word is found in Romans 8:1, which says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation (Katakrima) for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This word, katakrima, is related to the word “krino,” but the addition of the suffix “ma” makes this word the result of judgment. In other words, katakrima is the aftereffects of being judged, found guilty, and sentenced by a judge. One commentator said it this way, katakrima is “the exact sentence of condemnation handed down after due process.Here is a way to illustrate the difference between these similar Greek words Krino and Katakrima. Let’s say we are in a courtroom observing a trial, and the lawyers are presenting their evidence…the lawyers are dividing, investigating, scrutinizing, and dissecting all the evidence. In a sense, the lawyers are “judging” the person accused of the crime by deeply evaluating all the evidence…this is the word “krino” in action when the lawyers investigate the evidence stemming from the life and circumstances of the accused person standing trial. But, the lawyers do not make the final decision of guilt or innocence. That is what the judge does.

After the lawyer’s “judge/krino” the evidence and circumstances of their case and of the people involved, they then hand their case to the judge who, after hearing all the evidence, makes the final “judgment/katakrima” of guilt or innocence. This is what the word “katakrima” can mean: “a condemnatory judgment based on the evidence presented to a judicial judge who finds a person innocent or guilty based on the evidence.” So, the lawyers have one form of judgment, “krino,” which is to evaluate and present evidence, and the judge has another form of judgment, “katakrima,” which is to decide final guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented to them. This courtroom illustration can transfer to the Kingdom of God in that we as Christians are, in a sense, the “pre-final judgment lawyers” who “judge/krino” the decisions and behaviors—we evaluate the evidence/fruit—of one another in this life to help each other grow and mature and prepare for our final judgment. Jesus Christ, as “The Judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42), will “judge/katakrima”— condemn — every person after death who does not know Him personally. Now, for those who enter death knowing Jesus personally, this then brings up another word for “judgment” in the Bible, as well as gives us a second application of the Greek word krino. Let’s look at the following: 1) the judgment to determine who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. 2) the judgment of Christians before entering heaven.

The heaven and hell judgment is called the “Great White Throne Judgment,” and it is found in Revelation 20: 11-15. And guess what, the same Greek word “Krino” is used twice in verses 12-13, but, it is used in a different form, context, and application. In Revelation 20, “krino” is used to express action that is not continuous but just right now. In other words, the final “Krino” judgment found in Revelation 20 is made by Jesus Christ once and for all—forever—before the Great White Throne. And that is it…all things are over for the person who rejects Jesus Christ! God’s Son will make His final decisive judgement upon the person who did not accept Him and eternal separation from God—hell—begins immediately after His final “krino” judgement has been made. As you read this, if you are not 100% sure you would go to Heaven if you died today, please know Jesus loves you and you can know Him right now and be sure you WILL go to Heaven! Here is how.

Then, we have the judgment of Christians that happens after we die and before we enter heaven. This is where each of us as Christians will give full account for our lives for the time period after we received Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and was saved/born-again at age 19. So, I will stand before Jesus Christ and give account of what I did since that age till my life ends. This will take place at what the Bible calls the “Judgment Seat of Christ,” which is found in 2 Corinthians 5:10 where Scripture says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” The word “judgment” here is the Greek word “bema,” which means “step” or “base.” Basically it means the steps at the base of a throne. To use a court of law again to illustrate, the seat upon which a judge sits in his courtroom is called his tribunal. So the Judgment Seat of Christ will be the Son of God’s tribunal below which, and in front of, me and you, and every Christian, will bow and give an account of our Christian lives in front of Jesus. Another way of describing the “bema” seat of Christ is the platform upon which Olympic judges may stand to watch and evaluate the athletes competing in the Olympic races. When the race is over, the athletes would approach the “bema” platform upon which the judges are standing. Then, the athletes would bow before the judges who then place various medals around the necks of the athletes depending upon each athlete’s individual performance.

Here is how the Judgment/Bema Seat of Jesus Christ applies to you and me today as Christians: for those Christians who served the Lord wholeheartedly to build the Kingdom of God and fulfilled their particular role in the Great Commission, Jesus will Himself rewards these Christians, and it will be a beautiful experience! However, to those Christians who chose to not be wholehearted in their devotion and service to Jesus Christ and to His Great Commission, these Christians will lose some, or all, of their eternal rewards. No one knows exactly how all this will play out, but we do know it is MUCH MUCH better to love and serve Jesus Christ with all of our hearts than it is to live and die as a comfortable lukewarm half-hearted Christian! Clearly, the Bible teaches it is God’s will for each Christian to be totally dedicated to serving in His Great Commission than it is to have any “question marks” and “questionable behaviors” in our Christian lives, and in our Christian witness. Do you and I have any question marks and any questionable behaviors in our Christian life, and in our public and private Christian witness? Have you and I left anything “undone” and incomplete in our Christian life and in our Christian witness? At the “Bema Judgment Seat of Christ” all things will all come out into the open and every Christian will be individually “judged” and rewarded for (or will suffer loss of rewards for lack of the following) using our spiritual gifts, and how we used our time and money, and for our personal evangelism and ministry service, and for obedience and holiness and purity, and for our family, and our motives, etc, etc, etc.

If we really love and care for each other as Christians we will “judge/krino” one another. By that I am not saying we just randomly in “cold turkey” confront Christians constantly about imperfections. But, if a Christian friend/acquaintance of ours has a behavior or something that is clearly and Biblically questionable in their life, it is our duty and responsibility as a brothers and sisters in Christ to go and talk to them about it. I would hope my Christian friends who say they love me would confront me, in love, when I have questionable behaviors in my life. Actually, I have had beloved Christians confront me many times over the years about questionable things in my walk and ministry with Jesus Christ, and sometimes it was not fun. But, once I put my pride and my defensiveness aside, I was able to admit my mistakes and/or my blind spots, and then thank them for loving me enough to do the tough love thing and “judge/krino” me. When they confronted me, or in other words, when they “judged/krino” my behaviors, the end result was they helped me grow as a Christian! And this is what it is all about…helping each other as believers in Jesus Christ to grow! If my Christian friends didn’t really love me, they would have just let me continue forward in my mistakes, and in my blind spots, and in my sins. For all we know it could have brought long-term damage to my life and witness for Jesus Christ if they had not “confronted/judged/krino” me.

Here is a hard truth: if you don’t “krino” me for any questionable choices and behaviors in my life, you are then accountable before God for not coming to me and talking to me about such issues. Likewise, if, after checking my life for hypocrisy, I do not “krino” you, than I am accountable at the Judgment Seat of Christ for not loving you enough to come to you and talk to you about any questionable behaviors in your life! As Christians, every decision and act we make are grounds for “judgment/krino” from other Christians. Both to give encouragement and thanksgiving for fruitful choices and behaviors that impacted our lives in a positive godly way; and, also to challenge and confront questionable choices and behaviors that can potentially confuse, damage, or cause someone to, as the Bible says, “stumble.” So, everything we drink and eat, and what we say and do (and everything we don’t say and do, e.g., evangelism, missions, tithing), should be judged/krino by other Christians because this is what the Bible says Christians are to do: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:12).

So, what is the conclusion of the primary question in this blog: Are Christians to Judge Other Christians? The Biblical answer is both yes and no. For the answer of no, we are not to “judge/katakrima” another person or Christian as to make a final verdict decision that condemns them. For the answer of yes, we are too lovingly and respectfully “judge/krino” one another as Christians to evaluate, divide, and “check” each other to weigh the evidence and to dissect the fruit of our Christian lives, and when necessary use tough love confrontation for less than best choices that are made. We are to “judge/krino” each other in this life now, but we are to do it after we have checked our own life for hypocrisy. And we are to go humbly to our brothers and sisters in Christ with a posture of equality, not a position of superiority. Imagine this, the “krino judgement” we as Christians apply to one another now in this life is actually a preparation for the “bema judgement” we as Christians will step into when our life in this world ends…when we then stand before our Lord Jesus Christ. We can help each other prepare for eternity, and one way we do this is “judging/krino” one another!

In closing, two questions for you and I: 1) Do you and I have any Christian friends/acquaintances the Lord is prompting us to “judge/krino?” Perhaps for any questionable choices, blind spots, and/or behaviors in their lives that could be hindering their walk with Jesus Christ, and putting questions marks in their public witness for Jesus Christ? 2) Do you need, and do I need, to be “judged/krino” by a brother or sister in Christ? Do you and I have any questionable choices, and blind spots, and/or behaviors in our lives, that could hinder our walk with Jesus Christ, and be putting question marks in our public witness for Jesus Christ?

Scott Nute March 30, 2018 Filed in Blog No Responses

High Chair Food: ME, MY, & MINE

High-Chair-Food--ME,-MY,-&-MINEHas your family ever had get-togethers when they bring out the ancient family pictures and films? My mom was the typical mother who took lots of photos of her two boys. Some photos were of my brother and I as babies propped up in our high chairs being spoon-fed Gerber’s baby food. And, of course, most of the food ended up on our faces, heads, ears, etc. Can you imagine how absurdly strange it would be to see me now, at age 50, sitting in a high chair being spoon-fed?

Comfortable beds and couches. Ever-running air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. Constant and immediate access to high-definition TVs, satellite movies, and smart phone calls and texts…all at the touch of a button to meet every whim that flashes through our minds and emotions. In other words…has the Christian church in the United States of America (and in all developed countries) become the most “spoon-fed” country in the history of the world? If we are painfully honest, it is safe to say that the bulk of most Christians’ lives consist of ME, MY, & MINE—MY family, MY children, MY home, MY job, MY church, MY retirement account, MY bank account, MY vacation, MY schedule…MY SECURITY! These “things” should be, and are, important to you and I, but just how “important” to us are they? Here is an easy way to test this: on a piece of paper (I already did this and it was eye-opening) make categories and—honestly—put the number of daily hours we spend for work, family, kids, friends, entertainment, sleep, exercise, Bible study, prayer, etc. Then, put the numbers for the hours (or minutes) each day we directly spend: 1) doing, or planning, to share our Christian faith verbally with someone; and 2) doing, or planning, how to help Christians grow in their faith; and 3) doing, or planning, how we can use food, water, shelter, etc, as a platform for evangelism and discipleship, not just “good” Christian humanitarian things we do as a replacement for actually sharing the Gospel verbally with other people. Then, multiply these numbers out over 365 days, which is one year. Now, what percentage of our time is honestly used for building God’s Kingdom worldwide via personal evangelism, and personal discipleship, and mission’s involvement? What percentage of our time is truly used in the Great Commission?

A danger of being an American is our American lifestyle! We are born into this lifestyle “system,” and this system conditions us. We WILL easily become inoculated by the American culture if we are not intentional in allowing God to somehow “disturb” our comfort and reveal to us not if, but how, our American culture has, and is, affecting and effecting and infecting us. Some of the most “hardened” and “logical” and “theoretical” and “spoon-fed” Christians we may know are active in church, they are “nice” Christians. They have access to more material resources and finances than many Christians, yet they squeeze out a 10% tithe feeling they are doing God a favor when they should be giving much more than just the “minimum” tithe. Me, My, & Mine Christians have allowed the “willful blindness” surrounding our American culture as their choice to NEVER share their faith, and to NEVER personally go every year or two on short-term mission trips? In other words, how many Christians in America, and all around the world, have a Christian ministry commitment equivalent to the photo at the top of this blog…adults in high chairs being spoon-fed a diet of “self-absorbed narcissistic Christianity”…adults propped up in their high chairs, dangling their feet, living an “easy & safe & comfortable” Christian life, while stuffing themselves with the 3 most popular Gerber baby food flavors found in the jars labeled, ME, MY, & MINE. From their high-chairs Me, My, & Mine Christians use every “excuse” imaginable to not, for example, go on a short-term international mission trip. Here are some of the most popular excuses, some of satan’s favorites: “I can’t go on missions ‘til I have more money saved,” (as if God is not able to cover our mission trip expense through our Christian friends, family, and church). Or, “I can’t go on missions ‘til my kids are grown,” (as if family or friends are not able to watch the kids for a week as their parents set a Godly example for their kids by going to the nations for Christ). Or, “I can’t take time off work,” (as if they can’t use their vacation, or part of it, for a mission trip instead of spending their entire vacation on another Me, My, & Mine trip). Or, “The Lord has called me to serve just in my city & area.” Jesus Christ said in Acts 1:8, “You WILL be my witnesses in Jerusalem [local], and in all Judea [region/state] and Samaria [state/national], and to the ends of the earth [international].” I wonder what it will be like for such Christians who NEVER share their faith with anyone and who NEVER go on mission trips…I really wonder what Jesus will say to them? Perhaps Jesus will simply quote Himself using His verse in the paragraph below…

At times, in an attempt to shake, and agitate, and discipline us as Christians, Jesus Christ said some unusual and “offensive” things that cut through all of our fluff and “manure.” To separate the “men from the boys,” so to speak, and to find out who was dead serious about following and serving Him, Jesus said the following as a litmus test in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Perhaps a reason Jesus said this “harsh” statement was because He knew Christians, in various ways and levels, will use their family—even their own children—as an “excuse” to not be fully committed to GOING to the world with His message. The word “hate” here in Greek means “to renounce one choice in favor of another” and “to love less.” Are you and I “hating” our father and mother? Are we “hating” our wives and husbands (those who are married)? Are we “hating” our children (those who have children)? Are we “hating” our brothers and sisters? Are we “hating” ourselves? In other words, who do we really love most…family, spouse, children, ourselves, or Jesus? The answers to these questions, which are proven by our actions and choices, will be plastered in eternity as the evidence of our lives on earth!

Before finishing this blog I took a long and deep dissection of my life in every area…not to be legalistic or mean or harsh, but just out of intentional curiosity. If I am totally honest with you I must say…I do enjoy the comforts I have in being an American. Chances are I have much less “stuff” than most Americans do because I am single with no kids, and I am used to not having much in the area of material things. But, I do very much enjoy my one-bedroom carpeted apartment that has non-stop air and heat and warm shower water. I also like my 2001 Ford Escape SUV. I confess I spend too much time watching the 32-inch high-def TV some of our donors bought me seven years ago after an apartment fire ruined the few hand-me-downs I had for years (moving 13 times in 16 years meant traveling light; after the fire my “stuff” increased thanks to God’s gracious people who helped). I am also grateful for my bank accounts, and for the retirement account our ministry started for me 2 years ago. I do enjoy the food and milk and soda (I definitely drink too much soda!) in my fridge. I really enjoy watching endless baseball games on ESPN and the reruns of Friends and Seinfeld as I lay on my soft couch while flipping the channels—with tremendous speed—on my remote. And, without any doubt whatsoever, I adore my memory foam bed! Why I am not even sure I could, or would, survive without air conditioning, and heat, and clean drinking and showering water. What I would do without a vehicle, or TV, or internet, is unimaginable…these things are fused into my very being as an American! The comforts of America are so deeply “engraved” in me that whenever they are removed, if even for a few days, I am so uncomfortable I feel stressed! During the frequent international outreach trips I take several times each year, my comfort zone gets mad at me and at Jesus and at everyone…my cozy American flesh gets cranky on every evangelistic trip I take when I inevitably get jet lag, and when I get traveler’s diarrhea, and when I can’t find out the baseball scores due to no internet access, etc, etc, etc! But…I am 100% confident I would much rather be “uncomfortable” serving out in God’s Great Commission than to remain “comfortable” in my high chair eating my Gerber’s.

So, the goal of this blog is not necessarily to make us squirm and feel “guilty” (at least not too much) because we as Americans (or other developed countries) live in the wealthiest and most luxurious country in the history of the world. Rather, my motive is to ask all of us—for the sake of our own temporal and eternal fulfillment & fruit—what number totals did we come up with from the sheet of paper from earlier in this blog? When we hold that paper in the mirror and look at ourselves, what do we see: OPTION 1) honest Christians who are conditioned by, and appreciative of, the comforts God has allowed us to have in the USA (and other developed countries)…in the mirror do we see Christians who, in spite of our American comforts, are still truly fulfilling our individual roles in the Great Commission? Or, OPTION 2) in the mirror do we see Christians who have become so “spoiled” and “theoretical” and “cozy” in our Christian life that we (I) sit in our (MY) high chair, munching on and slurping down our (MY) Gerber’s, and reading our (MY) Bible and going to our (MY) church, while having no intention whatsoever of…EVER getting involved in local and international missions, and no intention of EVER verbally sharing our faith with lost people, and no intention of EVER somehow helping Christians around the world—those millions of Christians who basically have nothing compared to what we have, those Christians who are being hurt, persecuted, and even killed, just because they love Jesus and they are willing to risk their lives to live for, and to tell about, Him? So, which one are we, which one are you…OPTION 1 or 2?

For shaking, agitating, and emptying, the high chairs,

signature-scott

Scott Nute

Scott Nute June 20, 2017 Filed in Blog 1 Response

Which Way, God???

which-way-god

Around 27 years ago I found myself at a major life crossroads. This humongous decision had to be made soon…is it the will of God for me to go to Seminary after graduating from college, or not? It may be different circumstances, but I know that you too have made difficult life direction choices. So, you can relate to this crossroads I was at.

In the USA, when a man is called to preach, it is pretty much a no-brainer that he goes to Seminary, especially given the particular denomination I started ministry in. So, I set my plan, which was a good and Biblical plan, that when I graduated from college I would go to Seminary. I even had a school picked out. This was in the fall of 1990. About 2 years later, in the summer before my last semester of college, “something” began to “whisper” to me on my insides. In strange ways I began to sense God revealing to me that it was NOT His will for me to attend Seminary. For weeks I deflected this as satan messing with me, or that it was my flesh, or that the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. This whisper then began to evolve into a “direct force” that began to annoy me. Again, I deflected it. Over the next few weeks this direct force began to evolve into a “pressure” that “felt” like “something” was “squeezing” me from my insides. I began to be miserable, and the thought of moving forward in my plan to attend Seminary began to “feel” like it was the last thing in the world I was supposed to do. Again, I deflected all of this and fought it. This “squeezing” was now keeping me up at night, and stressing me out, and interrupting my appetite. Then, it finally hit me, “Could this ACTUALLY be God Himself speaking to me and saying to me it was NOT His will for me to go to Seminary?”   

To make this story more condensed, I will say the summer when all of this took place (1992) was not a pleasant summer at all! After several weeks of prayer, fasting, and falling on my face before God, I knew, that I knew, that I knew, that God had revealed His will to me…I was to leave school, not go to Seminary, and enter full-time evangelism. My mentors, and friends, and my mom, were very concerned about this decision (and rightfully so), but at this point all they could do was pray for me and wish me the best.

Well…if you are expecting me to say that after I made this decision final and public that huge doors opened for my evangelistic ministry, and that I never had doubts about this decision again, you would be incorrect. After this decision I still had doubts, and satan conducted target practice on me for the next couple of years about this decision. However, as the days and the weeks and the months and the years went by, and I followed Jesus one day at a time, it became clear not just to me, but to everyone else, that it actually was God who spoke to me back then. Now, 27 years later, without a doubt, it was the right decision for me personally! Today, as I write, I am 100% confident I heard from God way back then and that I obeyed Him and made the right choice!

Now, by sharing this story, I am in no way saying to anyone, “Don’t go to Seminary!” Actually what I am saying, and what I have suggested to dozens of young preachers over the years, is to plan on attending Seminary or a Bible School and if God doesn’t want you to go, He will make it clear…perhaps even “painfully” clear. I encourage every person to get as much education as the Lord reveals they are to get…plan to go, and let God open or close the door!

We all encounter important crossroads in our walk with Jesus Christ that require hard decisions. The following are some practical Biblical principles I have learned (and am still learning) that we can use when making decisions about God’s will for our lives:

  • Intimate Direction: a former mentor once told me, “God is more concerned with us as human beings than as human doings.” God’s will and direction for us is revealed as a byproduct of our “being” in an intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best…” (Philippians 1:9-10).
  • Mysterious Call: It may be vague at first, and somewhat “quiet” and intangible, but it is not uncommon for God to be a bit mysterious when He first begins to “call” us to serve Him. Now, by “call” I am not necessarily referring to a preacher or vocational ministry, but rather to every Christian. Each of us has an area of service, and how are we to know where and when God wants us to serve Him if He doesn’t somehow tell us or “call” us. “For it is God who works [calls] in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
  • Desires: The Lord uses our desires to guide us. Now, not every “desire” we have equates with the will of God. We need to lay our desires at the cross, and if our desires are not aligned with God’s will, He will adjust our desires, if we let Him. God can use our desires as motivation to do His will. What do you desire to do for the Lord that will bring glory to Him, and will impact others for Christ, and will bring satisfaction to you? “I will run in the way of your commandments, when you enlarge my heart [desires]” (Psalm 119:32). 
  • Gift Match: Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift. Many Christians have several gifts mixed together, and one or more of these gifts will be the dominant gifts, supplemented by the others. What are your spiritual gifts? If you don’t know, I suggest you take a spiritual gifts test, which you should be able to locate through your church. Your spiritual gifts will fit and match with numbers 2 & 3 above…your call to ministry service and your desires will fit with your spiritual gifts. “He…gave gifts to men [Christians]” (Ephesians 4:8).
  • Confirmation: In various ways, God will surely confirm what He wants us to do and where He wants us to go. Through the Bible, and through trusted Christian friends, and through preachers, and through circumstances, and through unlimited ways (even through a donkey), God is able to speak to us and to confirm to us the direction He wants us to go in, and what He wants us to do. “Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam…” (Numbers 22:28). 
  • Open Door: By open door I am not saying we should just to sit back, and wait, and expect God to open a door right in front of us. Sometimes, a door opens after we take the initiative to “knock” and pursue and explore. And, yes, God most definitely can open doors and “throw” opportunities right in front of us. It can be a combination of both. “What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open” (Isaiah 22:22b). “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
  • Faith: At some point we have to step out in faith! It may be a logical step, or an illogical step, but ultimately faith is an absolute must! God has done His part by speaking to us and revealing His will to us. Now it is time for us to do our part and act…take the next step of faith! “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

Seeking Him, His will, & His direction,

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Scott Nute

Scott Nute March 2, 2017 Filed in Blog 2 Responses

Skeleton Hygiene

Skeleton-HygieneWhen I say the following things they may come across as strange, lazy, or downright blasphemous. But, I must be honest and tell you that…I am “tired” (synonyms: exasperated, irked, burned out, pooped, sick of, etc.) of being a human being! Here is what I mean:

I will turn 50 years old soon (February 2017). And, after spending the first 49 years being stuck in this human flesh that is filled with my skeleton, I am “tired” of…showering, shaving (at my age I shave my nose and ears as much as my face), eating, brushing teeth, flossing teeth, going to the bathroom (especially during the night), buying food, preparing food, eating food, drinking water, eating vegetables, cutting my hair, washing my hair, removing gray hairs (from my face, nose, ears and head), putting on deodorant, dealing with pimples (yes, even at age 50), drinking daily fiber to stay “regular,” yanking out rogue hairs across entire body (I refuse to be one of those old men growing “wings” on my eyebrows) taking a daily vitamin, exercising (not much of this done anymore), getting sick, allergies, going to the dentist, joints becoming stiff and stuck, muscles shrinking, former 6-pack abs now loosening flab, eyesight fading, skin wrinkling and spotting (on my face, neck, chest…basically all over) etc, etc, etc! And now, after dealing with all of these human hygiene and maintenance needs for the past 49 years, as if all of these were not enough, in a few weeks I have my first colonoscopy—hip hip hooray! I am certain this will be a thrilling experience that I will now look forward to having every 10 years (I will just add it to the list)!

Did you know by the time we are 50 years old the average person has taken close to 20,000 showers, and has eaten around 54,000 meals, and has gone to the bathroom over 100,000 times? In addition, out of the first 50 years we are on this planet we sleep around one-third of the time. Which means, we have rested our poor, tired, weary, fatigued, flesh and skeleton with over 16 years of sleep, which is over 6,000 days, and over 146,000 hours, and over 8,760,000 minutes, and over 525,600,000 seconds, of sleep! No wonder the spirit of God living in me has become “tired” of being stuck in my human skin and skeleton! Therefore, I am officially in a “brouhaha” with my flesh, bones, and my human hygiene! Enough of caring for this flesh! It makes no sense…if our flesh and our bones just age and die and end up being buried in the dirt anyway, why did God arrange it so we must spend a majority of our time on earth doing non-stop human hygiene and maintenance?

As we know, the Bible says we are made in the image of God; however, we have all fallen away from the perfect reflection of His image. Meaning, we will not become the highest definition of being God’s image until our spirit—the Spirit of Jesus Christ that lives in us since we accepted Christ—is released from our flesh and bones at our death. Until then, you and I as Christians are stuck in our skin and skeleton, and we must continue on with our daily human hygiene and maintenance. Our human body hygiene illustrates our preoccupation with ourselves, which illustrates our sin! Yes, our human hygiene will serve as a daily remember of our sin; but, even more so, our human hygiene will serve as a daily reminder of God’s love and grace given through Jesus Christ as He was nailed on the cross to free us from our flesh and sin (if you don’t yet know Jesus Christ personally, here is how that can happen in your life right now)! Our human flesh and skeleton, and the constant hygiene, is a reminder that this life is just the first inning of an extra-inning, never ending, baseball game (my old baseball player illustration attempt)! When we enter Heaven, we will finally be free from our self-centered fallen-ness. We will then finally be able to love and serve God, and others, completely and unconditionally for eternity! Yes, a split second after death, our human flesh and skeleton hygiene is complete!

Do you ever feel like what I wrote above? At times are you “tired” of being a human? If so, you are in great company! Considered one of the greatest and most important Christians in the history of Christianity, the Apostle Paul himself talked about his feelings of weariness about being stuck in his human flesh and skeleton. In Romans chapter 7 Paul expresses his frustrations this way, “The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7: 14-15, 21-25).

So, in spite of my complaints and the arguments I have with my humanity, I will continue on in my flesh and skeleton, doing the mandatory hygiene. I will, by God’s grace, continue to daily apply and live out these additional words from Paul, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.” (Philippians 1:21-24).

With fading flesh and an aging skeleton—and with an ever-living spirit—I am sincerely yours,

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Scott Nute

Scott Nute January 23, 2017 Filed in Blog 6 Responses