Tag Archives: predestination

Freeing Yourself from the Curse of the Redshirt, the Expendable Crewman

“Nobody wants to be the expendable crewman,” my friend Mark said over the phone the other day. For some strange reason we were talking about how in the original Star Trek, when Kirk, Bones, Spock, and some anonymous crew member in a red uniform beamed down to a planet filled with hostile aliens, the crewman in the redshirt always ended up dead, while Captain Kirk scores the sexy alien who looks vaguely like a Victoria Secret model, only with green skin.

I loved Star Trek.

To ensure the story had conflict someone had to die and it could’t be Kirk, Spock, Scotty, or Bones (unless it was a show featuring time warps where the deceased Kirk, Spock, Scotty, or Bones comes back by the end of the show, but that’s another story). Trekkies dubbed this guy “the redshirt” or “the expendable crewman.”

And no one wants to be that guy.

But many of us get up each morning, don our redshirts, and beam down to a hostile environment with a sinking suspicion we are indeed expendable. That’s why I don’t wear red much. I don’t want to be the next target.

Do you feel expendable?

But seriously. There is always someone who can do our jobs better, is better looking, is younger, or older, or smarter, nicer, funnier, taller, newer, or just all around better.

For example, when I first decided to go into church planting four years ago, after over twenty-five years in the pastorate, a younger pastor–an expert in church planting–advised me that, at my age, I should consider church redevelopment instead. Translated that means, “Old guys like you can only handle dying churches. Leave the real, hard work to us younger guys.” I wanted to punch him, but he was considerably younger and I didn’t want to hurt him.

He saw me as a redshirt, completely expendable. I’m glad I listened to a higher authority on what I can and can’t do.

Have you been told you’re the expendable crewman?

God, the higher authority, doesn’t see you that way. 

I find it ironic that the Being who needs no one else in order to exist does not view us as expendable while many of us who desperately need each other in order to survive treat each other as disposable.

Is that because we’ve been conditioned by a throw-away, newer is better culture? Probably. But we created that culture.

The deeper reason for this attitude might be that we believe if we treat others as redshirts on our crew then we must be the indispensable James T. Kirk–or his equivalent. Treating others as expendable makes us feel as though we are not. Work-a-holism boils down to this.

“I must . . . make . . . myself . . . indispensable,” we groan under the load while our children, spouses, friends, and sometimes God himself wait out by the trash dumpster.

But doesn’t this only make us more insecure?

Thus we’re constantly looking over our shoulders for our replacement, creating a vicious circle. We know he or she looms there because we were once someone’s replacement.

The true source of our security.

This is why knowing we were created and loved by an Indispensable God is so crucial to living healthy, spiritual lives. It gives us a true, unmovable foundation to base our lives on.

God does not need you or me in order for the world to keep spinning, for the world to be healed.

Better! He wants us to play a part.

God is not waiting for someone better to parent your children, sing your song, love your spouse, do your job, pray your prayer, write your book, right a wrong, weed your garden, laugh with your friend, be a part of your community, or dream your dream. God chooses to love you and out of that love chooses to use you.  God’s choice makes you non-expendable, not your false belief that you can live without others, nor your IQ, fast car, job, or lofty, faulty self-image. So take off that damn redshirt and get busy.

Eugene C. Scott is non-expendable in part because he can perform the “live long and prosper” sign without glue or masking tape. Please join the Living Spiritually community by following his blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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Is God In Control And Does He Know The Future?

In the movie Stranger Than Fiction, Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, your average IRS agent: monotonous, boring, and repetitive. But one day this all changes when Harold begins to hear an author inside his head narrating his life. The narrator it is extraordinarily accurate, and Harold recognizes the voice as an esteemed author he saw on TV. But when the narration reveals that he is going to die, Harold must find the author of the story, and ultimately his life, to convince her to change the ending of the story before it is too late.

Does an author exist who writes the storylines that our lives are destined to follow?

Please join us in today’s Bible conversation.


Isaiah 37:1-38:22
Galatians 6:1-18
Psalm 65:1-13
Proverbs 23:24


Isaiah 37:1-38:22. The words in the passage coincide almost word for word with 2 Kings 19.

Galatians 6:1-18. As we come to the end of his letter, Paul offers an assortment of unrelated instructions. Verse 8 stood out to me more than the others: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” We sow seeds into our flesh or our spirit that yield a harvest of fruit or give us a crop failure.

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The interaction between King Sennacherib’s commander and God in Isaiah 37 is intriguing. The commander is preparing to destroy Jerusalem—an example of free will. But then God tells Isaiah, “Listen! I am going to put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword” (Isaiah 37:7)—an example of God’s sovereignty over our the Assyrian commander’s decisions. The text says God would “put a spirit” in the commander that would cause him to change his mind.

If God had wanted to, he could have prevented the whole thing and saved Hezekiah from the stress and humiliation, but he didn’t.

This begs the question: was God reacting to King Sennacherib and his commander or was he enacting his plan that began before the foundations of the earth were laid?

Then we read in Isaiah 37:26,

Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone.

Looks like God’s in total control.

Later, in chapter 38, God tells Hezekiah that he will soon die. Hezekiah prays and what happens? God changes his mind and decides to extend Hezekiah life fifteen more years. Why would God tell Hezekiah he would die if he knew he that he would change his mind? It seems as if God didn’t know the future.

Lately, I’ve come to determine that most debates about predestination (the belief that God controls the thoughts and actions of all people) versus free will begin with a faulty assumption. They operate under the assumption that God is limited by a linear time line when most people agree that God lives outside of time.

If God lives outside of time, it seems to me that every event in world history is happening at once–with God firmly in control. In that respect, both opinions are true.

In our personal rights loving society, we want to believe that we’re in total control. We don’t want people telling us what to do or giving us any restraints. Sounds a little like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God told them not to eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, but they ate it anyway.

Perhaps it’s time to give God a little credit and assume that perhaps he’ more in control than we realize.


What spoke to you in today’s reading?

How do people sow good or bad seeds into their lives?

Is it hard for you to believe that God is in total control of your life? Why or why not? What role does Scripture play in how you formulate your beliefs on this topic?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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