About Scott Jeffries

Christ follower, son, husband, father, brother, friend, librarian, neighbor, sports fanatic, music lover, reader,

Being All In Is The Only Way

When was the last time you were fullhearted in anything?

Halfheartedness seems to be the default mode for the modern American person. We have our laptop out while watching TV, our phones out while watching our kids games, music in while reading a book, and screens on while we eat. Do we ever just fully devote ourselves to a task or an event or a project?

The Christian life is not a life that can be done halfheartedly. Jesus’ command to take up a cross, no our cross, and follow him is not a call for halfheartedness. It is a call for fully devoted surrender and sacrifice that starts to require our entire self – from our thoughts, to our use of our body, to the choices that we make.

Yet, we try to get by with a halfhearted faith.

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We let other people pray for us, we open God’s word just on occasion, we substitute blogs and podcasts for real Christian community, and we fill up our time with endless distractions that have zero eternal significance. Dallas Willard says, “When we are halfhearted in our faith, we are halfhearted in our thinking. And the halfheartedness defeats the whole project.”

Do we ever practice loving one another or being generous or sharing the impact God has made on our life? If you are like me, generosity and love and sacrifice doesn’t come easily and it won’t come at all if I remain halfhearted in my commitment to Christ. My life of following Christ requires all of me.

This world needs halfhearted followers of Christ like I need a hole in my head. You can be distracted while watching TV or brushing your teeth but when it is time to live this Christian life, commit your everything to it. This is why I write this blog, so that readers can Grow Up to a fullhearted faith and leave their halfhearted ways behind them.

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Looking For Something Holy

Shortly before I graduated from high school, a friend and I traveled 40 miles to see Rich Mullins in concert. It was unlike any Christian experience I had witnessed in my short life. I still remember some of the things he said and the spirit present in that small town church.

As I began to recently research his life, I found out that Mullins’ concerts were legendary as spiritual, holy experiences. Mullins’ manager, Gay Quinsenberry, said of his concerts late in his career, “God spoke through Rich in ways I had never seen before or since.”

Mullins didn’t see his role as performer there to entertain and garner applause. For him, playing music and creating was a calling. He believed that his shows should have a message: “You know what? The world is full of musicians. What the world is starving for is Christ. If I wanna just go to a concert, I’ll go see the Chieftains, or a symphony, or a jazz concert, or a rock concert. But if I go to a Christian concert, I want to be reminded that He is a loving God, and that He has forgiven me, and there is hope.”

I hope there are places that you go where you are reminded that God is a “loving God” and that there is hope. Mullins, in his abbreviated life, ruthlessly pursued God and found Him in unlikely venues and scenarios. I want to follow his example of heeding God’s call on my life, wherever it may lead.

 

How To Recharge Your Spiritual Life

I woke up this morning and listened to a two-minute devotional, then I prayed for a few minutes, then I read the same Psalm for 10-minutes and then I sat down to write about Christian Spiritual Formation. None of this is strenuous, none of this required large spiritual muscles. I simply found a few things that I knew were important for me to do and started to do them. The hardest part was simply carving out time in my day for 20 minutes of Growing Up activity.

If you have reached a dry patch in your spiritual life I would suggest that you do two things. One, find the 10 minutes that you are going to devote Growing Up. I do mornings because no one else is up and I am not mentally drained from the day. You may choose a different time and that is fine but stick to that time for at least a week.

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Secondly, start experimenting. Use that first week as a laboratory for finding a set of practices that bring you closer to God. Do not try to fit some ideal found in a book or what your Pastor has outlined for you, the point is to make it work and be sustainable. If you stick to it long enough, God will show you what activities and practices need to be added and which ones need to be dropped. Be flexible. There are many aspects to your spiritual self (your non-physical self) and growth in all of these areas will not happen over night. But, if you remain consistent and are open to the working of God, you will see change.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Read one Psalm everyday for a week

Pray the Lord’s Prayer

Memorize the 23rd Psalm

Sing your favorite worship song or hymn

Write a spiritual note of encouragement to a friend

Take a walk without your headphones or looking at your phone

Pray for God’s will to manifest itself in your life

Thank God for 3 things

 

We Lost A Momentous Christian Voice

I just heard that Eugene Peterson died. What a giant loss this is.

I cannot put into words what it is like to read and listen to Peterson talk about God. Only Frederick Buechner, Dallas Willard, and Peterson make me feel like a different person after reading them. I feel more hopeful and more full of faith. But, most of all I find myself more in love with Jesus. I walk away from a reading session of Peterson and I feel like the wisest, most profound, person I could talk to has just held a conversation with me.

What is so attractive for me is that Peterson is interested in Spiritual Theology? In his mind, there is no point in discussing God unless you expect God to actually do something in your life, to change your countenance, and begin making you whole. Peterson had a brilliant mind and a poets sense of words but a pastor’s heart. He used his words, through writing and sermons, as a means of loving his readers and wanting them to grasp the beauty and truth of scripture. I have seen many pastors but not any that viewed their sermons as letters of love to their congregation. Peterson did.

I find it interesting that I have been on such a big Peterson kick the last month or two. I have been listening to his collection of sermons and last week I downloaded his latest, a 90-day devotional called Every Step An Arrival. Also, I listened to a 2015 podcast interview with Krista Tippitt. I would highly recommend any of these options but be aware that he isn’t flashy and that his voice is sometimes hard to listen to. You have to take your time with Peterson and wait for him to draw you in to show you the life that is possible with Christ. His memoir, The Pastor, is required reading for any person in ministry and for most congregants who need to know that a pastor is not just a leader with good hair but should be the person most desiring growth in all life’s good areas.

Author took haphazard route to God - The Blade

For an entry point in Peterson, I would recommend a piece called, “Confessions of a Former Sabbath Breaker.” It captures his mirth, his wisdom, his sincerity, and his pastor’s heart. When you read it you will know what I have been trying to say in this blog.

I am sad today but oh so grateful for his work, his ministry, his heart, and his words. Do yourself a favor and read or listen to something by Peterson and ask yourself if your life, in any way, resembles his. If not, you are missing so much.

What Happens When You Make Yourself Available to God

This past week, I met with a brand new believer and talked about what to focus on in the days ahead.

I went to church and me and two other guys worked through some scripture and I led in prayer.

The following day, I attended a small group with faculty members at the university where I work. We spent time in devotion and then listened to each other’s stories and worked on discerning God’s work in and around those stories.

On Sundays, I taught a college bible study class where we learned what makes a good Christlike community.

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All of that plus a symposium on campus where colleagues and I spoke about being a Christian librarian and the unique role we play in the academic environment of our students.

All of these things, I have prayed for and desired to have happened. I want to be in the midst of other’s spiritual journey, guiding them and passing along some things that I have learned and expressing the reality of Christ’s transforming power.

Quite significantly, not one of these opportunities I had to push or pull to make happen. I didn’t have to twist arms to get people to do this with me or to show up. It just happened and that is a testament to God working. I simply made myself available and am in tune enough to know when God is guiding circumstances and people’s hearts.

Are you making yourself available? Have you asked God to use you in whatever way he sees fit? And are you faithful to move whenever he says move?

I don’t consider myself special because of these opportunities that I have, just thankful that God sees enough in me to want to use me. He wants to use you and will gladly provide you chances to minister to others and to serve. Just make yourself available.

The Story of Joy, Part 3

One part of my spiritual and personal story that I haven’t discussed much is the pregnancy, birth, and early life stages of our daughter, Joy. My wife recently wrote about this and I thought I would share it on the blog with a series of posts. God has moved in profound ways concerning Joy and her life has taught me many things:

Enter my wife, Leah.

After Joy’s amazing cleft lip repair, we continued to walk daily in faith that she would improve and heal. It was a whirlwind of doctor visits from her Craniofacial surgeon, to GI specialist, a nephrologist, a urologist, a geneticist, a pulmonologist, an opthalmologist, ENT specialist, cardiologist, and later an orthopedic specialist. I had to carry around a little notebook to keep everything up to date for the appointments.

In the mean time, we still needed her cleft palate repaired and would wait until she was around 9 months old to get that done. During that time, she had pneumonia and so many ear infections due to the cleft. I even surprised one of her doctors when I told him baby food was coming out of her ear when she ate!! That sounds crazy, but all of that was connected and open before her first surgery. So many things were causing issues that seemed overwhelming at the time.

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Along with doctor visits, we had awesome ECI therapists (PT, OT, Speech/feeding) come into our home to help with Joy’s progress. They made a huge difference and listened to my concerns. Her PT was an integral part of helping us discover Joy’s scoliosis at such a young age. This was another God moment!

Joy has had 4 cleft palate repairs. Several had to happen because she did not heal properly after surgery. So many times we were sent to the geneticist because her doctors just knew she had a syndrome that would explain all of the things going wrong. Nothing was pinpointed, but we still had to move forward with her care.

Her first cleft surgery was extremely hard. It makes me sick thinking about it. The recovery room for Joy has always been the hardest. She does not respond well to anesthesia and has an extremely hard time waking up and calming down. After each surgery comes weeks of liquid diets, restrictions, and sometimes slow healing.

People prayed each time for her surgeries and God provided His strength and peace during those tough times. I cannot imagine walking this journey without my brothers and sisters in Christ. The body of Christ has held us and walked with us every step of the way. We are continually grateful for this blessing.

Try Growing Up

Instead of chasing every new teaching, try a little scripture reading.

Instead of seething with anger, try forgiveness.

Instead of cunning and scheming, try speaking the truth in love.

Instead of finding ways to divide, try finding unity in the faith.

Instead of seeking only individual health, try seeking the health of the group or community.

Instead of making yourself head over your spiritual life, try letting Jesus be CEO.

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Instead of just working on one aspect of life with God, the same one you have focused on for years, try letting Jesus transform all of you.

Instead of embracing futile thinking, try renewing your mind by discovering first the Kingdom of God.

Instead of hardening your heart, try humbling your sensitivities for the sake of Christ.

Instead of money, sex, and power, try fasting, simplicity, and silence.

Instead of considering the validity of every falsehood, try embracing the truth with equal intention.

Instead of complaining, try service for God.

Instead of tearing something down, try finding a need and fix it.

Instead of finding what is in it for you, try finding the benefit for others.

Instead of giving the devil a foothold, try repenting of your former way of doing things and accept your new life in Christ.

Note: inspired by Ephesians 4.

The Story of Joy, Part 2

One part of my spiritual and personal story that I haven’t discussed much is the pregnancy, birth, and early life stages of our daughter, Joy. My wife recently wrote about this and I thought I would share it on the blog with a series of posts. God has moved in profound ways concerning Joy and her life has taught me many things:

Enter my wife, Leah.

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When Joy was born, the main issue that she had was a severe and complete unilateral cleft lip and palate. The other issues that the doctor predicted, some being life threatening, were not present. Other issues would come later, but nothing beyond the cleft lip and palate was immediately noticeable.

The issue with cleft lip and palate is that the ability to get suction to eat is almost impossible. Joy had no “roof of her mouth”. Everything that went in her mouth, came out her nose or went down into her airway.

Her orthodontist made an oral appliance (like a retainer) to put in her mouth to give her a sort of barrier between her mouth and nasal cavity. We kept it in her mouth using denture cream.  It took a long time to feed Joy and she would get so tired . Scott and I would both get up with her so that one of us could help keep the other awake. It was exhausting. Joy had issues with pneumonia due to aspirating milk and even had a feeding tube at one time.

The first surgery to repair her lip was coming up. She was scheduled for a time in August and we were ready for the healing process to begin. It would just be for her lip and nose, but it would help. As the date approached, we received a call that the surgery was rescheduled for a later date. I was so upset. Joy needed to have the surgery soon!. I didn’t understand the delay.

It wasn’t until her pre-op that God revealed why her surgery was delayed.

We found out that the world renowned Craniofacial Surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Sayler (he helped separate the conjoined twins from Egypt) would be performing a live teaching surgery at a Cleft Lip and Palate Medical Conference. Joy would be his patient and a group of surgeons from all over the world would be watching the Doctor repair Joy’s cleft lip. Joy would not only receive the best care from the best surgeon in the world, but other children would be helped because of what the surgeons were learning from watching her surgery. We were overwhelmed with God’s timing and plan!! I am thankful we had to wait and be rescheduled. God’s plans are perfect! 

It’s Time To Grow Up

Birth receives far more attention among Christians than growth. Born again, new birth, new life are all terms in high use among Western Christians, and rightly so. But, ignoring or overlooking growth leads to the absence of growth and in the words of Eugene Peterson, we become “a nation of adolescence.”

Peterson goes on to say, “the most significant growth that any of us does is growing as a Christian…all other growth is prep for this growth.” Scripture is full of growing up both physically and spiritually and sometimes both. Moses grew up, David grew up, John the Baptist grew up, and Jesus himself grew up. Then after Jesus returned to his father, we see the spiritual growth of his followers who go from clueless, scaredy cats to courageous and bold ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.

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Could it be that the most important thing about you and me is our Growing Up as followers of Christ? How would that change our work place? How would that change our families? Our marriage? Our solutions to society’s biggest problems?

I am a more patient, friendly, happy, and trusting person because of my Growing Up. I have seen God do some miraculous things in and through me because of my Growing Up. I have made odd and foolish career decisions that demonstrated that God knew what he was doing. I have gone out on a limb and seen God handle the outcomes far better than I ever could. I have grown up and that growth has made it possible for more growth. I am not where I can be or should be but I have matured and developed in my faith.

Let us not put Growing Up on the periphery of our Christian life. Let us make it the other side of the coin from new birth. Let us no longer be a church of adolescence.

The Story of Joy, Part 1

One part of my spiritual and personal story that I haven’t discussed much is the pregnancy, birth, and early life stages of our daughter, Joy. My wife recently wrote about this and I thought I would share it on the blog with a series of posts. God has moved in profound ways concerning Joy and her life has taught me many things:

Enter my wife, Leah.

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I was 18 weeks pregnant and went to see a specialist because they thought there was an issue with my uterus. At this appointment, they actually found something wrong with our baby.

I remember the nurse and doctor walking in the room. They had that “look” on their faces that something was wrong.

Scott and I sat and listened to a list of serious issues that the doctor felt was wrong with our baby from the findings on the sonogram pictures. There was everything from Down Syndrome, to heart issues, to intestinal issues, cystic fibrosis, and her cleft lip and palate.

The doctor felt strongly that she would have serious issues and we should consider aborting the pregnancy. I felt like someone punched me. I remember saying a strong “no!” to the abortion topic, and we left with lots of questions and feelings of helplessness. We got home and just felt so saddened. We did find out that day that our baby was a girl and soon realized we needed to find a name so that people could pray specifically for her. More on that next time…….