Somebody’s Watching Me

•March 9, 2011 • 2 Comments

James 1:3 You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

People watch what you do. That may carry more weight for someone who leads worship or plays in worship bands. The bottom line is that on stage or in a grocery store people gain an understanding of you simply based on your actions. This may not be a “fair” assessment. Regardless, people are watching you.

After finishing a worship set this past weekend, our lead guitar player was handed a note. It simply said, “I’m deaf but I really enjoyed watching you play”.  He was taken back by the weight of what this person was saying. In spite of not hearing a note he had played they still saw that he was worshiping. That person never heard the words we sang but knew what was going on simply based on our actions.

Some churches throw the word “authentic” around quite a bit these days. If the speaker connects with the audience then he is “authentic” instead of “able to speak well”. If the majority of the songs were ones you know and loved and in a key you can sing in then it was an “authentic” worship experience. If the crowd applauds your face-melting solo or appropriately sings without too much prompting from the leader then we feel we have led “authentic” worship. I am of the belief that, eventually, people will learn the difference between your “best performance” and your “authentic worship” based on how they interpret your actions.

What if the only basis for your worship was a person secretly watching how you carried yourself? What if there was a person who watched your every move and used that as a way to connect with God? I think I would act differently. I was humbled and frightened when that reality sank in. People are watching. Point them to Jesus.

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Who Are You

•October 13, 2010 • 5 Comments

Galatians 4:6 You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!”

What if you never knew you were supposed to feel abandoned?

I was adopted at the age of 8. The family that eventually adopted me had cared for me since I was 6 months old. While it wasn’t always easy, I was always sure of who wanted me and who loved me without condition. My Adopted parents told me how I came to be in their home. My adopted parents treated me as their own. And so I was.

Through the years I had minimal contact with my biological mother. By my own choice I shut that door after my adoption was finalized. However, a few years ago I actually sat down with her and heard her side of the story. It was obvious that she needed closure and it was a very positive experience for both of us. I finalized my past and moved on.

Two weeks ago (thanks to the miracle that is social networking) I got a random message on Face Book. A woman I did not know was asking me personal questions and requesting a photograph. In all honesty, my first response was to report her. I thought it was a scam. After a limited exchange it turns out she was the wife of my biological father – a man I had only heard about 2 times in my whole life. She provided me with a number and expressed that they would like to speak with me.

I called my dad. I called my mom. I got the full story about this guy and his involvement in my past. The entire situation left me with this overwhelming sense of feeling discarded. I had always heard that adopted kids deal with abandonment issues. I had never felt that way. I had never once questioned whose I was or where I belonged. I was a Spruill.

Without thinking I dialed my bio-dad’s number and waited. He answered the phone & I froze. There was a bolt that shot through me in an instant. Here was a man who had no concern for my well-being or me, yet felt he had some claim to contact me after 33 years. Here was a man who had made a poor choice 33 years ago but never took the time to be there past the moment of passion. The exchange was brief. In my opinion I think I was speaking to a man who only has a few months left on this earth. I believe I was speaking to a man who wanted to tidy up any loose ends before he left. I truly believed he was expecting a happy reunion. That is not what he got.

In the instant I heard his voice something ferocious rose up in me. There was hurt, but it was tinged with anger. Who did this guy think he was? That immediately melted into assurance. With everything in me I proclaimed that he had no claim on my life and that I was, had always been, and would continue to be a Spruill. His donation of DNA did not constitute him being called father. The man who raised me earned that right.

The man who raised me taught me how to tie my shoes and how to laugh. The man who raised me taught me how to change a tire and tell a joke. The man who raised me showed me how to change my oil and showed me that real men have all of their emotions in balance. The man who raised me was tough on me and honed me into a man but also showed me that you have to kick back and take a break sometimes. My father, Cecil Spruill, is one of the best friends I have ever had. He chose me, loves me, and gave me full rights as his son into the Spruill heritage.

When I hear pastors talk about adoption I’m usually bothered. Most of them don’t understand what they are talking about. Spiritually speaking, we were all born as children of this earth – sinful & unwanted. God, our Heavenly Father, chose each of us. Those who chose to be called by His name have been given full rights and access to Him. From time to time we may be reminded of where we came from. Our proper response in light of those memories is for us to recognize who sacrificed everything and gave us a seat of honor at His table. That person who used to be is not who we are – we have a new name and a new life!!

I am Scott Spruill – son to Cecil & Linda Spruill. I am not abandoned – I am chosen!!

Life In a Podcast

•June 4, 2010 • 1 Comment

James 4:14 You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.

I have a dear friend who God has allowed to be quite successful in his calling in Charlotte.  I have been fortunate enough to partner side-by-side with this man.  He has influence and sway, and he holds those things delicately.  He realizes that it is God who has allowed him to be in the position he is in.  His success is due mainly to his allowing the Spirit to move in his life.  This guy always has my attention when he speaks.

Driving to a coffee meeting with this friend, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts from Stuff You Should Know.  I know, I’m a nerd – you have your little secrets, too.  I don’t remember which specific topic they were insisting I glean a better working knowledge of, but I do remember the part where they discussed the increase of mortality rates in the United States for the last 100 years.  To date there is a life expectancy of 77.7 years.  I am 33 years old.  Doing fast math, I find that I’m left with about 44 years.  Let’s factor in the poor lifestyle choices I’ve made.  I don’t always eat the best foods nor do I exercise like I need to.  I stress out way too much about way too little.  You see where this is going.  If I have 40 years left I’ll be doing good.  This is a morbid thought.  It also scared me. More worry.  You can see this ending poorly for me.

I sat down to coffee with my friend and tried to ignore the ticking clock in my head.  We got through the initial pleasantries and began discussing life stuff – real stuff.  It turns out that he’s been wrestling with his mortality as well. His words to me were “You break your back in your twenties so you can leave your mark in your thirties.”  He had the same realization/freak-out that I did.  This seemed daunting to me considering all that I have seen him accomplish.  If he’s worried about his legacy, then I’m in BIG trouble.  As much as it was discussed, there was no definitive answer to be reached.  We parted ways, both scratching our heads as to what our respective next steps were.  We both knew we had serious work to do if we were going to work this out and leave ourselves any time to do anything about it.

I have pondered all of this since then. I’ve only just started to realize how fast my last 33 years have gone. I’m sure the next 40 will fall like sand through my hands. What is my legacy thus far? What do I want it to be?  What on earth am I going to do about it?

And you? Not to be a bother, but where do you fall in this great escaping expanse of time? What are you working for? What are your goals? How do those match up with the burning passion in your belly that you have stifled for far too long? Why aren’t you out there doing what you are called to do?

My challenge to all of us is this: do whatever it takes to find out what you’re called to do and leave your mark doing it. It’s easy for me to type. It will be tough to achieve.

LOST and the art of Obedience

•May 26, 2010 • 2 Comments

Galatians 5:7 You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience?

I’m a huge LOST fan. We can come back to that later & debate theories if we need to. I always admired Jack. He would make a decision and that would either be fantastic or ruin everything. He was either a hero or he would have to admit failure and go back and pick up the pieces while mending his relationships. The best example was when the Oceanic 6 left the island and all agreed to lie about how they wound up in the middle of the ocean on a raft. Later on we get to see Jack (popping pills, hammering booze) about to jump off of a bridge after coming to the realization that they weren’t supposed to leave. He had been told that before he left. Several times. By good people. He probably knew that he wasn’t supposed to leave in his heart. But there was something in him that just HAD to see what was out there. (The island disappearing didn’t help maters either).

I am just like that.  Mind you, I’m no Jack Shepard or Matthew Fox.  There have been times when God has moved on my heart and I have responded accordingly and amazing things have happened. When I left Atlanta in 2004 to play in a band I had no idea that I would meet my wife while touring in Indiana. Or that some of the best friendships I could hope for would be formed out of that experience.  It was a step of faith and I took it. Amazing things happened.

18 months ago I KNEW that I was supposed to step down as a worship pastor. I did not. I built that program myself. I assembled racks of equipment and built power boxes on my living room floor. I had sacrificed a lot to get that program off of the ground. If I walked away who would run it? Who would care for it like me? Who would wake up in the middle of the night with a knot in their stomach worried about something that might have been overlooked?

God moved on my heart and I knew it was time to go. And I stayed. For another year I stayed. Looking back, it’s pretty easy to say “this or that is the reason you left”. I’m certain that had we obeyed and walked away when the Holy Spirit moved on our hearts several less-than-desirable things would have been – should have been –  avoided.  It was a step of faith and I didn’t obey.  Not-so-great things happened.

HOWEVER – sitting on this side of the circumstance has me pondering

Romans 8:28 That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

If all things are being worked into something good then we have to change our perspective. James tells us to count it all joy. Why? I truly believe that looking for God to move in our midst when things are seemingly terrible allows Him to change our perspective. Yes, to obey is better than sacrifice. However we are seeing God do miraculous things in our lives right now even though we’re in a less-than-desirable circumstance.  Things are being worked to HIS good – which benefits us. I don’t ascribe to the theory that following Jesus will earn you a full bank account or a new car.  This goes deeper.  This has to do with attitude and perspective.  This has to do with a willingness and a desire to move the next time you feel God tell you to.  This has to do with taking the step of faith.  Every time.  Obeying when the Father requires you to.

If you watched the end of LOST you know what I mean.  Jack had to endure tougher things because of his initial decision, but he was exactly where he was supposed to be when things wrapped up.    When the Spirit moves in your heart and tells you to move – DO IT. It may not make sense, but as Francis Chan says “After you ‘go for it’ you never lay awake at night regretting the decision”.  If you miss it and don’t listen, there is redemption to be found there as well.  We are living proof. God be praised!  I hope to be the kind of man who hears God’s voice and responds quickly instead of the kind of man who has to wander in the wilderness to make amends.

Every Step You Take

•May 17, 2010 • 5 Comments

Joshua 1:9 Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” – The Message

Here’s the thing about me. I don’t blog. I read the occasional blog and link to the occasional blog on Twitter. I usually don’t feel like I have anything interesting to add to the global conversation that can’t be said in 140 characters.

So this feels “scary”.

I do OK with “scary” these days. The past 6 months have been an exercise for my wife and I in staring down the barrel of “scary” and doing our best to not flinch. 6 months ago I walked away from what looked like a great situation. I was a worship leader at a church plant in the Charlotte, NC area. My wife and I moved here to be a part of something bigger than us. We had high expectations and big dreams – the kind of combination that either launches you like a rocket or ignites you like a stick of dynamite.

God is good. In the first year we saw God do more amazing things in a short span of time than some people get to see in an entire lifetime. I could list them here but it would take several posts to complete. We set out to reach people that needed to hear a simple message: God loves you. He loves you so much, in fact, that He desires to change your life so that you can tell others about His love and make Him famous. Pretty simple.

It was somewhere in the first year that something turned in my heart. I wanted to lead worship and invest in musicians and a tech staff. Instead I spent most of my time in a panic trying to pick & chart songs, staff the band & tech team, cut and edit video elements for the week, prep and upload the podcast, & get the presentation software ready for Sunday. Please don’t think I’m complaining – it was my job. The problem was that I never let people know that I was struggling. The problem was all I was doing was wrapping up a service, going home, and immediately planning for the next week’s service. We had created a beast whose appetite was sure to grow exponentially.

It was last year that the discontentment had grown to a point where it shouldn’t have been ignored. There was no joy – only fear. There was another Sunday headed our way & I was going to fail. It was only a matter of time. After 3 years I was burned out.

Several factors played into the decision we made to resign. I could list them here, but again – it would take more than one post to tidy-up that scenario into a readable form. I simply quit. To some it looked like I threw up my hands and left some really good friends high and dry. To some it looked like I was going to pursue a career of songwriting and touring with some friends I had been fortunate enough to work with. To us it was the only option we had left. There was no other choice. It was the sort of situation that left you hurt. There was no way to convey what was really going on behind the scenes. It was one of the toughest things we had ever done. We wanted to justify our decision – to point to situations and say “SEE THIS?!? – here is why!!! THIS is why we’re leaving!!”. Instead we silently walked away leaning on God, some close friends, and each other.
And God still moved. Somewhere in my mind I think I expected my last day at the church to be the last day we’d see God’s favor. We’d be in financial ruin, run out of town for quitting, and left destitute on the side of the road. Instead, God opened – and by opened I mean He kicked doors off of their hinges – some avenues for us that we had not expected. We both get to use our gifts and abilities to encourage others. We get to spend time together again!! We get to pray and watch God do marvelous things. We get to see Him provide for us and allow us to proclaim his faithfulness and steadfastness.

There is no definitive “next location” for us right now. We are in a state of transition and healing. There is no better place. The future will be His. Strength? Courage? Wow. It’s hard to muster some days. But when I start looking at what He has done in our lives JUST in the last 6 months I have to know that something great is headed our way. We are truly leaning on the everlasting arms of Christ, our Savior.