Tag Archives: TV

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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Lent is Over. Now What?

During the last 60,480 minutes I’ve missed a few things. That’s 1,008 hours for those of you not handy with math. Forty-two days. That’s how long I gave up TV and radio for Lent. Now several days after Easter, the day Lenten fast’s finish, I’m wondering if I really missed anything.

Sure, news happened, even important news. But did I really miss anything?

Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign. Newsman Mike Wallace, banjo virtuoso Earl Scruggs, and painter Thomas Kincade all passed. These were great losses. Looming less large, so did Scottish champion darts player, Jocky Wilson and probowler LaVerne Carter.

Also during Lent, Madonna was banned from a talk show, Lindsay Lohan was released from probation and given a warning by a judge, and Ninjas attacked a medical marijuana delivery man.

Depending on your point of view, I may or may not have missed anything.

Sacrifice is always dangerous. It’s an act of release, opening oneself up, vulnerability. When you give something up or away, you always stand the chance of ending up empty-handed or, worse, hurt. That’s also why sacrifice is powerful.

But often in taking a risk, we discover that our sacrifice also makes room in life for something new. That’s why, in my opinion, I don’t think I missed anything in my self-imposed media ban.

I gained.


My daily thoughts have not been held captive by the commercially driven yammering of some talking head or disembodied voice. I’ve not spent one moment worrying about who the next President of the U.S. might be (though I will inform myself and vote), whether it might rain on my parade that day or not, or what the insane governments in Iran and North Korea might do.

My mind has been free to notice life and people near and around me. I’ve taken more pictures, seen spring fight off the blandness of winter, and my voice memo function on my iPhone is full of ideas for sermons, books, articles, and blogs. I’ve rediscovered music. I feel wildly creative. I started writing poetry again.  And I’m partnering with gifted musician, Cliff Hutchison, in writing song lyrics. I’ve prayed for my friends and family more consistently as God brings their names and faces to mind in the absence of media noise.

I gained.


I simply don’t feel as rushed. Standing in my living room as night closes down the day, I’ve often asked myself what I should do next.  It’s a wonderful, languid feeling. Usually I’d be vegging in front of the TV. I’ve taken longer walks with Dee Dee, my wife, and had spontaneous conversations with her. Gone to bed earlier. I have time to write my novel and I’ve read around seven books. Leif Enger’s novel “So Brave, Young, and Handsome” gets better each time I read it. I’ve journaled almost everyday of 2012.

I’m gaining.


It’s not been all sweetness and light, however. This Lenten silence has allowed me to recognize who I am and who I’m not. I, maybe like you, am a pretty flawed person. The noise of TV and radio often allowed me to cover that fact. My journals are just as full of inanities, complaints, and judgements as they are prayers, poems, and pretty prose. And some things have only shifted. Instead of carrying on an imaginary debate with some TV commentator, I now do so with a Facebook friend. Argh.

The ancient but honest theologian and philosopher, Paul of Tarsus, expressed it this way, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” 

Lent’s Over. Now What?

Still I’m not willing to give the reins of even my messy life back to some advertising executive pulling levers behind a curtain. Monday I watched, or rather slept through, the Colorado Rockies’ home opener. But, I’m not going back. Yet. I’ve gained too much to gorge myself on media again. The silence has been exceedingly rich and I’ve seen living spiritually–for me–cannot happen in a world dominated by media noise.

After  60,480 minutes I’ve found I missed nothing. Rather I gained–even if the most disconcerting as well as comforting truth is that I cannot live spiritually, become a better person, on my own. I must agree with Paul again. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Eugene C. Scott loves listening to the blues, which has nothing to do with this blog, but is worth saying anyway. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following this blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.


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A Postcard from the Pacific Rim: Maui, Hawaii

By Brendan Scott and Eugene C. Scott

Expectations. Most times what we expect to happen trips us up and gets in the way of seeing and experiencing the more oblique, twisted, fun, real side of life. For example on a trip to Maui one would expect a sunburn, sand between the toes, jungle waterfalls, and serious beach time. These would be good things. But when we take off our expectation colored sun glasses, it’s amazing some of the crazy, fun, real things you can experience. On a recent vacation with my family my son Brendan and I decided to record some of the unexpected things we saw and experienced in a blog. Brendan also writes a blog at guatspot.wordpress.com.

Signs from God?

Quick trip to heaven? Turn left.

Some things go without saying . . .

Shouldn’t you also deploy wings?

. . . yet some people still feel the need to say them.

Sign above toilet ——>
<——Can dogs on Maui read signs?

Random Observations:

We’re staying in the same area in which actress Helen Hunt, the “Mad about You” star, lives. Yes, she is still alive and no, she didn’t disappear after “As Good As It Gets.” Consequently we have experienced dozens of Helen Hunt sightings. The only one we can confirm, however, was a week previous when Dave, our generous host, saw her being interviewed by Jay Leno on TV.

We’ve seen as many trucks with surfboard racks as tool racks. And even then many of the tool racks double for surfboards. The question seems to be surf or survive?

And don’t even get us started on convertible Ford Mustangs. Apparently car rental companies have figured out how to get them to reproduce like rabbits.

Multiplying Mustangs


A woman behind us on the beach:“How’d all this sand get in this?”

Dee Dee on seeing a dead mouse on the porch: “I wish I could be brave.  I just can’t.”

A young mother with her daughter climbing down–as we climbed up–to a rocky crag over-looking the vast, wild blue pacific ocean as it pounded onto volcanic rock cliffs formed eons ago. “There’s nothing up there.”

Ashley on the best places to snorkel. “Swimming with dolphins is fun but after a while it’s irritating. You just want to say, ‘Dolphins, stop being so happy!’”

Emmy on snorkeling anywhere. “I don’t need flippers to snorkel. My feet are better than flippers.”

Danger in Paradise:

Our gracious hostess, Linda, loves Maui. She knows its history ancient and modern, (did you know Hawaiian Hula dancers did not–I repeat–did not wear grass skirts), the correct pronunciation of words like humuhumunukunuku’āpua’a
, the best restaurants (Star-Noodle and The Gazeebo), beaches, and activities (Maui Ulalena). Linda is not only a Hawaii historian but a nurse. Thus she knows how and where every shark attack, drowning, broken neck from surfing, freak hiking accident and deadly food-borne illness took place.

Late each night Linda enthralled us with tales of death, danger and destruction. One such tale was of a doctor and his wife being lost at sea in their kayak and how a shark attacked and the wife lost her leg. The doctor washed up on one of the islands and the wife was never seen again. Locals suspect the doctor was the shark.

Linda told another gripping story about nine Japanese tourists standing too close to the edge of the cliff we had climbed the day before. As they stood admiring God’s handy work, a rogue wave smashed against the cliff and washed them all out to sea. Cameras and all. Tragic but there was a partially happy ending. Some Hawaiians dove in and swam over and saved several of the tourists. “Nothing to see up there” indeed.

Danger is sometimes deceptively beautiful.

Paradise in Paradise.

Expectations. We were up at 3am. on day two of our holiday in Maui driving to the 10,000 foot peak of Haleakala Volcano to watch the sunrise. Our rental Ford SUV climbed slowly up the dark, twisty road–the most elevation gain in the shortest distance anywhere on the planet. We arrived at the dormant craters‘ edge at 5am. God had scheduled the sunrise this day for 5:38am. It would be an hour-long show–like watching flowers filmed in slow motion as they bust out of the ground and blossom.

Sunrise over Haleakala Volcano


Two things:

One: The road less travelled by is sometimes crowded. But still worth it. Several hundred others braved the early hour, the dark, and the cold to witness God reinventing the day.

Two: It amazed us how something so mundane and predictable as the sun rising one more time in a succession of daybreaks that has not stopped since the beginning of time could also be so extraordinary.



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What Do Bob Newhart and Jesus and Nathan the Prophet All Have in Common?

Comedian Bob Newhart reminds me a lot of Jesus. Okay so Jesus didn’t perform stand up comedy, or star in hilarious TV sitcoms, though I believe Jesus was funnier than he is portrayed by all those deadly serious British actors. Nor did Bob Newhart change the world. But I digress.

Bob Newhart and Jesus were both great story tellers. In the original Bob Newhart Show Bob played a psychologist who stammered through the surreal situations his crazy patients and friends drew him into. His solutions to their problems usually came in the form of a story. “Emily,” he would say to Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife Emily, “that reminds me of a story.”

Jesus did likewise. And the prophet Nathan did too when approaching David with the truth about David’s sin. Why?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

2 Samuel 12:1-31

John 16:1-33

Psalm 119:65-80

Proverbs 16:4-5


2 Samuel 12:1-31: God is never without a voice. He always has someone he can call on. Nathan only shows up here and in the early part of 1 Kings. And he is called on in extremely difficult situations.

David and Bathsheba’s child dies despite the baby’s innocence and David’s repentance, fasting, and prayer. This seems unfair and even cruel. But in order to honor the freedom God grants each of us, God cannot subvert or remove the consequences of those very free choices. David chose his course and God did not alter it.

John 16:1-33: One core idea of this passage contradicts some tenants of a wide stream of modern Christianity. Jesus tells us that following him will bring us trouble and persecution. Yet many today seem to believe in a Jesus whose sole job is to make them happy and keep them safe (in the U.S. we have transferred much of this belief to our government). Jesus promises us both peace and trouble. Seeking only half the equation means we may only get half of Jesus.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.


For the majority of human history story (factual and fictional) has  functioned as the major way we communicate truth and important ideas with one another.  As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, Scripture itself is 75-80% narrative. Even in today’s rational, scientific, “just the facts, ma’am” world, ideas (good and bad ones) are often more effectively communicated through story than any other medium.

For example, several scholars wrote tomes containing the questionable idea that Jesus did not die on the cross and after waking up may have married Mary Magdalene. But no one paid attention until Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code” hit the book stores. Even in our biblically illiterate world, the best known Bible stories are the ones that have been made into movies and books. Story, though much maligned, especially in Christian circles, is and has been an extremely powerful communication tool.

This is why Bob Newhart and Jesus told so many stories and why Nathan confronted David about his dangerous moral failure using fiction.

Notice how Nathan’s story contains elements David’s relates to. David too was an underdog and a shepherd. On hearing the story, David relates and his newly hardened heart is cracked wide open.

Story simultaneously knocks down our defenses and invites us in to the process of change and growth. Had Nathan come to David with bold, only factual accusations, he may not have lived to help David repent. Nathan’s little lamb story also reached David’s emotions and not just his head. It is always harder to deny and debate feelings What we call facts are always debatable. Stories travel that long road between the head and heart faster.

God too is a storyteller. It is his surest way of reaching our heads and hearts. Below are a couple of questions to help you explore the stories God may be using to form you.

  1. What biblical story has made the biggest impact on you?
  2. What is your story?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com


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Living a Better Story

Jack Bauer, of TV’s 24, has nothing on this guy. Facing a much bigger, better armed, and more experienced army, Jonathan says to his his armor-bearer (Jonathan’s version of Cloe), “Trust me!” Then just the two of them climb a cliff, swords and shields strapped to their backs, and route an entire outpost of fierce Philistines. They kill twenty warriors in a bloody battle that covers a half acre of ground.

God gives Jonathan a surprising victory. Then God uses His trademark “confusion maneuver” and panics the bigger potion of the Philistine army and through a faithful few the nation is saved.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life always turned out that way? But it doesn’t, except on TV. Yet with God we can live a better story, better even than on TV.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Samuel 13:23-14:52

John 7:30-53

Psalm 109:1-31

Proverbs 15:5-7


John 7:30-53: When Jesus is present people must react or respond. In this section the Pharisees get fearful and angry; others are intrigued; some try to explain him away; the guards try to control him; Nicodemus shows love. How is it we react and respond to the presence of Christ in our lives?

Psalm 109: The Psalms are filled with prayers for protection against enemies. Our day-to-day worlds do not reflect the same kind of danger from and presence of enemies as those of the Psalmists. But we do face an Enemy and people and institutions that, if not opposing us, do not have our best interest in mind. I find it helpful to think of these, sometimes, more subtle evils when I pray psalms such as Psalm 109.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.


Jonathan returns from his major victory not to a celebration for his faith and bravery. Instead he is critiqued and faces a death sentence and only narrowly escapes his father having him killed because the army intervenes. Scripture doesn’t tell us how Jonathan felt about this turn of events. I think I can guess. We do know, though, that no matter how he felt, he does not lose his faith.

Jonathan is one of my favorite biblical characters. His faith, wisdom, bravery, faithfulness, and moral center shine out like a beacon in just a few verses. Oh that my life could strike such a powerful note in so brief a song. I love Jonathan. His story is so encouraging.

  • Jonathan never betrays his God, or his friend, David, despite intense pressure from his father the king. This loyalty eventually costs him the throne and his life.
  • Jonathan’s story could have ended after his stunning victory (happy ending) or with his father killing him (crummy ending). Instead God keeps the story going and uses Jonathan’s faith and loyalty to protect David and keep the lineage of Jesus alive (a better story).
  • When God is the Author, our stories never end the way we hope–or fear–they will.
  • God turns Jonathan’s story into a better story–a life filled with small, firm decisions God uses as redemptive turning points.

With God as the Author of my story I can live a better one like Jonathan did. And maybe in that better story I can give my hopes and fears to God, and I can stand strong when pressed to give up, and just maybe Christ can use my life too.

  1. How does Jonathan’s story encourage you?
  2. Do you see a theme in these four readings?
  3. Who is your favorite biblical character?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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April 28, 2010

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

My kindergarten age daughter paid scant attention to the TV as the reporter and a safety expert gleefully searched several playgrounds for implements of childhood torture. It was National Playground Safety Day and the reporter rattled off alarming statistics about playground injuries. At each playground, however, much to their chagrin, the safety team found no violations.

Standing in the kitchen devouring my unsafe sugary cereal, I chortled and made derogatory comments about the news media manufacturing news. My wife, an elementary school teacher, disagreed and chastised me for being so cynical.

Meanwhile the reporter finally found a safety violation.

“Eureka!” I shouted.

Horrors, they had found the ground at the bottom of the slide too hard.

I laughed out loud. My wife gave me “the look” and I stifled further commentary, bundled up my daughter, and delivered her to school.

By 10A.M. I had forgotten all about National Playground Safety Day. Until my phone rang.

“Mr. Scott?”


“This is the nurse from your daughter’s school,” said the kind woman. “Don’t worry. She’s not hurt. We are just required to tell you that she fell off the swing on the playground and hit her head.”


Judges 8:18-9:21

Luke 23:44-24:12

Psalm 99:1-9

Proverbs 14:9-10


Judges 8:18-9:21. Notice how easily Gideon and the people fall back into fear and false worship practices. How we live out our ideas and theology makes a difference in what our lives look like. They are following the practices of the nations around them in raising up the sons of the previous leader/king despite that God does not approve nor is the person always worthy.

Luke 23:44-24:12 . Luke’s recounting of the crucifixion is very spare but each detail counts. Luke is now considered one of the finest ancient historians because of his historical accuracy and detail.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.


If you had to choose between freedom and safety, which direction would you lean? In my corner of the world it seems we’re listing toward safety and away from freedom. Just watch the news, as I mention above. Rules to keep us safe are all the rage.

But this heedless pursuit of safety is downright dangerous. It has driven us seek lives that brook no upsets and to form families, churches, and governments whose primary calling is protect us rather than challenge us and give us a scary freedom that may help us grow and become–not safe–but holy.

Further this so-called protected lifestyle has left us more vulnerable to the dangers we fear. For example, studies show using too much antibacterial soap is actually making us weaker and bacteria stronger.

Seeking too much safety may also subtly lead us to seek a safe (and unreal) God. God is anything but safe, says Mark Buchanan in his book Your God is Too Safe.  “God isn’t nice. God isn’t safe. God is a consuming fire,” he writes.

Before us seeking safety led the Israelites to a fatal misunderstanding of God. In an obvious bid for safety they beg Gideon, “Rule over us.” On the surface this is understandable. They live in a dangerous, war-torn world and, as we see later in the story, will do almost anything to have someone, anyone, other than the uncontrollable, fiery, invisible God of Moses and Joshua, walk with them in it.

Instead they choose corruptible human leadership and return to worshiping their safe, self-made, wooden god’s that exact no real demands nor deliver any real help. But they feel safe.

No matter whether we would choose safety over freedom, God often seems to choose freedom for us. It seems to me this is because, though dangerous, freedom births life while safety puts us to sleep, at best.

  1. When do you feel most safe?
  2. Are there any links between these four readings?
  3. When do you feel most free?
  4. When have you grown most in your faith?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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