The Sound of Scott

The Official Blog of Scott Elliott

Memories of My Grandma

My grandma was a storyteller. If you’ve ever been over for dinner, or been in her Sunday school class or even just visited for a few minutes then you’ve probably heard stories about foster kids, family vacations and the time that you caused trouble when you were a kid. (Not that I ever did…) But one of my favorite things was listening to grandma tell stories. When I was a little boy she would make up stories about a little church mouse. One summer night we pulled some mattresses out onto our upstairs deck to sleep out under the stars, but we quickly realized it was just too cold. So we pulled them into the hallway and set up camp on the floor. Grandma told me a story that night about a mouse who showed up during a church potluck. He ran across the table, ran across the floor, got into the food and even swam in the punch bowl. That crazy mouse was always getting himself into trouble and we would just laugh and laugh together and have a good old time. But there was one story more precious to her than any other, and it’s the story of our savior Jesus Christ. Grandma was a lot like Jesus. He loved children and he loved to tell stories. And when we sit down at the wedding feast of the Lamb we will probably find out he’s a good cook too. But Grandma loved the Lord and her love was always on display. I’m thankful for all the ways she loved me and hope you are too.

The Vow of Ordination

I am here to help keep your beliefs sharp and accurate and intact. Because our emotions easily seduce us and we often don’t trust ourselves, I am here to help you: To be your pastor, a minister of word and sacrament in the middle of this world’s life. I will minister with word and sacrament to you in all the different parts and stages of life… In your work and play, with your children and your parents, at birth and death, in your celebrations and sorrows, on those days when morning breaks over you in a wash of sunshine, and those other days that are all drizzle. This isn’t the only task in the life of faith, but it is my task. My promise is stick with it. This is not a temporary job assignment but a way of life that I will live out in our community. I am on the same difficult belief venture in the same dangerous world as you are. My emotions are as fickle as yours and my mind can play the same tricks. There are going to be days and months, maybe even years you won’t feel like you don’t believe anything, and you won’t want to hear it from me. There will be days, months and years that you won’t want to say it either. It doesn’t matter. I am ordained to this ministry, vowed to it. There may be days when you come to me telling me that my job is something else, but I promise to not give in. I am not the minister of changing desires. I am not the minister of secularized hopes for something better. With this vow of ordination I am binding myself to the ministry of word and sacrament so that I will be unable to respond to the siren of voices. There are a lot of other things to be done in this wrecked world, but we have to know the basic terms within which we are working, the foundational realities with which we are dealing – God, kindom, gospel. My task is to keep telling the basic story, representing the Spirit, insisting on the priority of God, speaking the biblical words of command, promise and invitation.

(Adapted from Eugene Peterson’s Working the Angles)

About Me

I’m always updating this statement on my Facebook, but I think this describes me best right now:

I’m a teacher by day, student by night and pastor by both. I’m a movie watcher, story writer and a tea connoisseur . I’m a thinker, a theologian and a musician. I’m a dreamer, believer, and a child at heart. Creativity is my passion, people are my mission, and Christ is my great reward.

A Poem/Prayer For Fall

Oh Lord,

God of the harvest,

Let us find ourselves like trees,

enveloped in the mist of your love.

May our leaves be festive,

full of color and life,

even as they fall to the ground.

Help us,

to let go of the things we often hold tight to,

and allow them to be carried away,

by your gentle breeze. 

Allow storms to test our strength and revive our roots.

Grow us tall,

that we might be the climbing place of children,

broad,

that we might be shade to the weary.

From root to leaf be our sustenance,

until the day we are cut down.

But even then,

use us as lumber.

A Mirror of the Past

As I was transferring blog posts over from Wordpress to Tumblr I took some time to read some of my old posts. Most of my blogging was done in 2007 and a little in 2008. It wasn’t that long ago, but it’s amazing how much I’ve changed between now and then. At the same time, it’s also interesting to see how much I haven’t changed.

I sometimes stop and wonder how exactly that works… our sense of identity mixed with a perpetual forward motion. We’re always growing and changing yet we still retain our sense of self. We always feel completely mature, but we always look back and see how much we weren’t.

What is it that stays the same? Interesting…

Lost Season 1

These are some of the moments that captivated us, made us laugh, cry, and believe in the extraordinary. When looking back on the show these are some of the moments that stand out in my mind as being the reason we’re all addicted to Lost.

Pilot: The opening scene… Jack running around

Pilot: Kate sowing up Jack’s wound

Pilot: Kate screaming from behind the bamboo… Hiding from the monster

Pilot: Lock plays backgammon with Walt

Tabula Rasa: Hurly listening to his walkman… Locke gets Walt’s dog back

Walkabout: Locke standing up for the first time on island after we see him in wheelchair

White Rabbit: Locke talks to Jack about destiny and purpose… “I looked into the eye of the island and what I saw was beautiful.”

Confidence Man: Kate reads Sawyer’s letter

All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues: Jack pounds on Charlie’s chest to revive him after being hung by Ethan

All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues: Locke predicts the rain while out with Boone

…In Translation: We learn about Jin’s situation working for Sun’s father. He comes home and washes the blood from his hands after saving a guy

…In Translation: Sun stands on the beach in her swimsuit and experiences her first moment of freedom

Numbers: In his hilarious flashback Hurley tells a guy on a ladder to get down

Deus Ex Machina: Locke pounds on the hatch door and a light comes on

Do No Harm: Boone dies. Claire gives birth

Exodus: Doctor Arzt blows up at the black rock

Exodus: Sawyer tells Jack about his father’s message before he died

Exodus: The raft launches! Walt is kidnapped

The Things We Continue

Make sure you read my post on The Things We Start before reading this one…

So why do we start things we don’t finish?

I had this conversation with a friend a few months ago. We boiled it down to this. People need outlets for creativity. Every time something new comes along we see it as an opportunity to be creative… and yes this applies to twitter. How many times have you thought, “I hope people like this status!” We find ourselves trying to creatively express our inner being through all kinds of different mediums. Even if your status update is just something funny, it might be saying something about your character or the way you look at the world. What do your status updates say about you?

You see, creativity is all about expression. The trick is to find a healthy pattern of creative expression. Without a healthy outlet for creativity we will find ourselves jumping from one thing to the next… stopping the things we’ve started. Here are some things that I’ve found helpful.

Creativity is about Time
Everyone, weather they think so or not, is creative. We all want to reveal who we are through things we create. This is a natural part of our being. If we don’t intentionaly create space for creativity we will find ourselves feeling dry. God not only created space in his life to create, but he created space and time itself!

Creativity is about Breaks
We have to be careful not to let our creativity take control of us. When all you’re focused on is creating a product it’s easy to push your self. “I have to finish this now!” It’s ok to take a break and come back to whatever you’re working on later. You don’t have to spend days on end working on something creative. At some point it gets to be work and not fun. Set aside times where you can be creative for a while and then pause until the next time. God spent six days creating and on the seventh he rested. Take time to enjoy what you’ve done so far.

Creativity is about Process
When you’re creating you don’t have to think about how other’s will view what you’re doing. Creativity is all about taking the time to be you and enjoy how God made you along the way. It’s ok to mess up and make mistakes. If God didn’t enjoy the processes of creation he could have made everything instantly, but instead he took his time to enjoy himself along the way. He took moments to say, “It is good.”

Creativity is about Excellence
Whatever you’re doing, even if you’re not good at it, I think you can still be excellent. That may not make sense at first, but let me elaborate. You’re end product might not seem good to others, but if you put real effort into it you will be able to enjoy your creation. Your creation will be a natural reflection of who you are. God didn’t just slap humankind together, he made us in his image. This took time, thought and care. People can criticize your creations all they want, but if your heart was in the process then it is good!

God’s plan for creation included a moment in which he created a small child… Christ… God with us… Emmanuel. God created himself (crazy thought) so that he could redeem and rescue the world. What a creative plan from a creative God! I hope that this Christmas you will find yourself inspired by God, the creator to set aside some time and partner with him in a creative and new way. God is working on you and through you, and he won’t stop.

I wish you a very creative and merry Christmas!

The Things We Start

Why do we start things we don’t finish?

Over the past few years I’ve tried to write a book, host a podcast, run an online business, design an iPhone app, and who knows what else. They were all great things, and really fun, but I didn’t finish one of them! How come?

And that got me thinking… It’s not just me. We all do it. Even social networking goes through patterns of starting and stopping.

Does this look like your life?
– got on myspace
- got a new email address
- got on facebook
- started a blog
- started subscribing to blogs
- deleted myspace
- played with facebook apps
- blocked facebook apps
- got another new email address
- got a twitter page
- stopped blogging
- consolidated emails
- stopped tweeting
- signed up for google wave
- and here we are…

Ok… so maybe this looks familiar now. (at least I hope I’m not the only one)

So why is it that we continue to follow this pattern? Perhaps it is a sign of something deeper going on inside of us. What do you think?

Government and Morality

Preface
I’m just going to guess that every blog that I write between now and the election will be highly controversial, but I’m not trying to be divisive in anyway. I’m writing these political blogs because it is extremely important for us as Christians to be completely honest and transparent when it comes to our convictions and beliefs. Only through honesty can we engage in civil discussions on how we as the body of Christ can make the world a better place. I’m very open to discussion and I hope you will join me as I wrestle though the big issues of government and faith.

Part I: The Ten Commandments and a Christian Nation?
(And this has nothing to do with courthouse buildings.) People say that we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principals, but what does that really mean? I don’t really know the answer to that, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that some people think that the moral code of America derives its roots from principals found in the Bible. So I suppose a good starting point would be the Ten Commandments. Let’s look at each commandment and how it plays out in our society.

No other Gods besides our God.
This is really the opposite of America because we believe in religious freedom. Everyone has a choice to worship any God they want and they receive the same rights as everyone else.

Don’t have any idols.
Well unfortunately consumerism and our self centered society encourage us to have all kinds of idols… even “American Idols”.

Don’t misuse the name of God.

Well aside from people’s foul language, we put His name on our money which is used for all kinds of evil. I wouldn’t want my name on anyone’s blood money.

Remember the Sabbath.

Sadly even most Christians, including myself, do not make this a priority. America is about work and profit and getting ahead in the world. We definitely don’t honor God with our time.

Honor your parents.

The Cosby show was probably the last show to really send this message.

Do not murder.

This is an interesting one. Everyone in the entire world agrees that murder is wrong… unless of course you’re dressed for the occasion. We say it’s wrong to take a life, but if it’s in the nation’s “best interest” then we will do whatever it takes. I’ll be writing more about this when I address the issue of war in another post.

Do not commit adultery.

This one is looked down upon… yet look at the divorce rate.

Do not steal.

We may actually agree on this one depending on how you view taxes… haha.

Do not lie.

I think I already mentioned that we’re talking about politics. Everyone is encouraged to lie in America if it serves in the best interest of others.

Do not covet.

I believe that one of the understated goals of the United States government is to stay on top of everyone else. They have missiles? We better have more.

Part II: Who gets to be the judge?

So I think it’s safe to say that the ideals of America are not as “Christian” as we’d like to think. Here’s something interesting: A lot of people seem to believe that people who are gay are not entitled to the same rights as everyone else, because they live in sin. Well if that argument is true then we have some bigger problems. If you believe that the Ten Commandments are true then it’s probably safe to assume that breaking any one of them is a sin. So under this belief anyone who believes in another God is sinning. (And I believe this of course.) So in supporting religious freedom we are actually supporting a violation of the first commandment. Religious freedom is a fundamental conflict with the Ten Commandments. So for some Christians you can maintain certain rights as long as you follow some of the rules. Now of course I believe in the Ten Commandments and also support freedom of religion at the same time, but I’ll explain how this works later on.

But first, what does this mean?

Let me first say that there are many grey areas here, and I can’t really address everything. Basically I don’t think that we can truly call ourselves a Christian nation. Even if we were at one time, we certainly are not anymore. I also think that morality cannot and should not be dictated by the government. The truth of the matter is that people will act on their own morals despite any law given by the government. If the government asks you to do something which is immoral you won’t do it. In the same way, if the government allows something that’s immoral to be ok you’re still not going to do it. For example: If the government made all drugs legal you probably wouldn’t do drugs if you had a moral objection. Or if the government said that reading the Bible was now against the law, you would probably do it anyway. The point I’m trying to make is that people will act on their own beliefs despite any effort by the government to control them. If you want to do something you will do it. Ultimately God will be the judge of those who do wrong. Our place is not to condemn evil doers, but to offer grace and forgiveness. God is a God of justice, and I believe that everything that is wrong in the world will one day be made right by Him and Him alone.

Part III: Freedom

The great thing about God is that he tells us the truth. He shows us what is right and what is wrong, yet at the same time he doesn’t force anyone to believe it. The Bible says that we are all created in the image of God. The reason that we all agree that murder is bad is because God thinks that murder is bad. The heart of God has been imprinted on the consciousness of humanity. The problem for a lot of people is that without the Holy Spirit they have trouble discerning it and acting on it. So there are things that we can all agree on, and there are things that we will have to disagree on for now. But basically, if are supposed to be like God then we should not force our beliefs on others through the medium of the government. Instead we should allow people to have freedom; the freedom that God gives everyone to choose life or death with their every decision. There are of course problems with this, and these are still issues that I’m wrestling with. A lot of my ideas are still a bit underdeveloped… like what this practically looks like and how it applies to some specific issues. For example: Is murder a moral issue or something more? Murder should be illegal, but on what grounds? Because morality cannot entirely be separated from government I hope to share my thoughts on some specific issues in more detail in the weeks to come.

Part IV: The Election

All of these things play out in different ways as it relates to endorsing a candidate. I’ll be posting more specifically on candidates later on, but I recently decided that my vote is going to Barak Obama. The first reason that I support him is that he isn’t trying to enforce “Christian” morality on the people of America. At the same time, he is a Christian and will probably face moral conflicts on a daily basis. His faith in God will always influence his decisions, but he will also keep in mind the freedom of Americans. The last thing that we want is for a “religion” to run this country. Blaise Pascal once said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” Remember the crusades? There are many dangers when we mix politics with people’s interpretation of Biblical morality and principals. Ultimately I find myself resonating with the words of Derek Webb when he said, “My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country or a man. My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood. It’s to a King and a Kingdom!” He also said, “We’ve never had a savior on capitol hill.” Ultimately we have to live out Christ’s teachings no matter what happens in the government. At the same time, I cannot stress enough the importance of voting and getting involved in the political arena. Read up on the candidates and vote based on your convictions and beliefs.

The Choice

Every day we have a choice. Every choice we make puts us on a pathEvery path either leads to blessings or cursesBlessings lead to life, while curses lead to death. Death is the end, but life leads to more lifeSo in every moment of every day we have a choice to choose life or to choose death. And God is life. Life flows from God. To truly live is to have Christ at the center of our lives. All too often we forget this. We fall. We live distant from God. We choose death. But God in his grace, the great shepherd of the sheep, reaches out his hand, calls us by nameand restores us back to him. It doesn’t matter how far we stray. He is always there. At the start He was there. In the end He’ll be there. With the rising of the sun anew day dawns: another chance to follow him into the lightor hide in darkness. You have a choice. Who will you listen to? 

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
- Deuteronomy 30:19-20

{Choose God. Choose Life.}