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Summer is Better Together

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I love Summer. It’s a time to invest in relationships, have fun, hang out, and enjoy one another. That’s why Summer is actually a very strategic time for our spiritual growth. Experiencing life together is the heart of discipleship. Summer, therefore, is a great time to "up" our intentional time spent together.

The theme for summer at One Hope is this: "Summer is better together."  

Summer is better together because we grow when we’re connected. We need a discipleship community around us where I we are known, challenged and encouraged 365 days a year.  Spiritual community does not take a vacation.

Of course, that goes for your personal time with God as well. Following Jesus does not take a vacation either. To the contrary, Summer can be a season for spiritual reset. Ironically the slowing pace can actually accelerate our spiritual growth.   

Christian author John Ortberg once asked his spiritual mentor Dallas Willard what he needed to do to grow spiritually. Willard answered, "Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."  Pace matters. When we don't slow down, stop, and be still, we cannot connect with our hearts, much less God and others.

"Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." - Dallas Willard

Summer is also an opportunity for us to worship together. In June and July we will combine our Worship Gatherings on Sundays at 10:30am. It will be one time and place to connect as a family of faith together. When all of us worship together, pray together and listen to God's Word together, we are allowing God to grow the momentum of what he is doing here at One Hope.

This Summer, move towards other committed disciples, not away from them. Make eating together a priority especially after our Sunday gathering. Ask someone you don’t know to coffee. Go to the beach and invite someone new. Change up your Community Group schedule and grill out. Host a game night. Invest in "the ministry of just hanging out."

The key is making time together real. As you hang out, share what's really on your heart. Go beyond the surface. Ask the deeper questions. Encourage one another. Pray for one another.

Do you really want to do Summer alone? Let's do it together! Donna and I can't wait for our first Summer at One Hope hanging out with all of you.

Summer is better together!

 

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A Dad's Heart

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Monday I got one of those phone calls that stops life: Nathaniel, our youngest studying for his final physics exams at Appalachian State, had appendicitis. He would have to have emergency surgery before we could get there. Our hearts as parents raced as we drove all night to Boone.

Right after the call from Nathaniel that day, I also got a text that my 89-year-old mom was in the ER with a blood clot in each lung. As a friend of mine once said, "You think you are hanging at the end of your rope, but then you realize it is not the end…it can go lower."

One of the main spiritual lessons for me the last decade of my life is that control and security are illusions, but God's goodness and love are not. God never promised us safety, health, freedom from financial need, or a guarantee against human betrayal. He does promise his good and loving presence with us through it all.

So, as my heart raced up I-95 and the humanity in me feared all the what-ifs, I also felt peace because I knew that even if the end of the rope slipped through my hands, there is a good God who will catch me. Even when it's not ok, I will be ok because he has me.

When we finally walked into Nathaniel's hospital room, I could see the relief in his groggy eyes, he said, "Dad, you didn't have to come." But he was wrong; I did. To me, it was not even a decision. I had to come. Love made me.

It is no different for my heavenly father. It is not even a choice for him to be by my side. Love- the essence of who he is-compels him. I know this about him, because I have been here before, in a place of insecure, unsafe, utter lack of control, and he was there with me then.

When life crumbles from underneath us, his is the strong arm holding us from falling into the abys. Everything I love, hold dear and trust for earthly security may fall away, but his covenanted favor and lovingkindness towards me will always be there holding me.

Thank you all for your prayers. You are all reminders of the Father's arms. Nathaniel is recovering. My mom is now home on blood thinner. But, of course it does not and will not always end this way. But these are not interruptions. This is the spiritual journey. And I am glad to be doing it together.

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