59:23 · September 5, 2023
As Season 2 of Grace at the Fray begins, Jim Lovelady talks with Pastor Scotty Smith exploring his role as both a mentor in Nashville’s vibrant artistic community and a mentee of Jack Miller, shedding light on how these experiences have deepened his understanding of grace. Their heartfelt conversation beautifully navigates the crossroads of art, faith, and personal growth and reveals the power of mentorship to guide us beyond self-concern and into the wild gospel freedom of God’s boundless love.
As Season 2 of Grace at the Fray begins, Jim Lovelady talks with Pastor Scotty Smith exploring his role as both a mentor in Nashville’s vibrant artistic community and a mentee of Jack Miller, shedding light on how these experiences have deepened his understanding of grace. Their heartfelt conversation beautifully navigates the crossroads of art, faith, and personal growth and reveals the power of mentorship to guide us beyond self-concern and into the wild gospel freedom of God’s boundless love.
Thank you for listening! If you found this conversation encouraging or helpful, please share this episode with your friends and loved ones. Or please leave us a review—it really helps!
Our guest for this episode was Scotty Smith, author, speaker, and the founding pastor of Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN. This episode was hosted by Jim Lovelady. Production by Anna Madsen, Aaron Gray, and Sunny Chi. Music by Tommy Leahy.
𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒚 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 is produced by SERGE, an international missions agency that sends and cares for missionaries and develops gospel-centered programs and resources for ongoing spiritual renewal. Learn more and get involved at serge.org.
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Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at email@example.com
Welcome to the Grace at the Fray—a podcast that explores the many dimensions of God’s grace that we find at the frayed edges of life. Come explore how God’s grace works to renew your life and send you on mission in His Kingdom.
00:24 Jim Lovelady: Hello beloved, welcome to season 2 of Grace at the Fray and I’m really excited about this season’s guests and the stories that I get to share with you of how people all over the world are experiencing God’s grace at the frayed edges of their life. And the result, in the midst of real difficulty, is actually quite surprising. So I hope you’ll join me. But here’s my question for you today: Who is the most joyful, life-giving person you know? Who in your life exhibits a Spirit-filled freedom in Christ that truly reflects the glorious grace of God? Who do you know that is contagiously captivated by the beauty of Jesus?
My guest today is Scotty Smith. He’s the founding pastor and pastor emeritus of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee, just outside Nashville. And when we sat down to chat, it was like I was sitting with a wise and kind sage. It reminded me of Proverbs 1:1-4. It starts with saying, “the proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel.”
But for me, it was like the proverbs of Scotty, beloved Son of God, king of Nashville. And the rest goes like this: “For learning about wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, for gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice and equity; to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young.” We talked about what it was like to start a church in Music City, USA and to have a high proportion of musicians and artists attending his church. So think of your favorite Christian artist over the years, Scotty was their pastor. And so of course, I’m curious about what that was like, but my main question for him was about gospel mentoring.
Now his mentor back in the day was Jack Miller, the founder of Serge. So I wanted to hear lots of stories about how Jack influenced him, but all throughout our conversation, it seemed to veer back toward thoughts about Heaven and re-envisioning the beauty of the life that Jesus offers, creates, heals, and will one day restore and being re-captivated by love of God, experienced in people, places and things. So this episode is all about the power of bringing others along in knowing and experiencing Jesus.
0:02:46.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Thanks, Scotty, for being here. It’s a privilege. It’s really a privilege and an honor that I get to hang out with you. And it was a lot of fun hanging out last night.
0:02:54.7 Scotty Smith: That was a nice time.
0:02:57.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. My mind has been mulling over some of the conversation that we had last night and how we can incorporate some of those things. But first thing I wanna know is Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty?
0:03:08.2 Scotty Smith: For me Springsteen, but you know what? It’s just because I’ve seen Springsteen live and not Tom Petty. I wish, wish, wish I could have seen Tom Petty and his whole original band live.
0:03:19.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:03:19.8 Scotty Smith: ‘Cause I still won’t back down.
0:03:21.7 Jim Lovelady: Nice. Nice. The morning that Tom Petty died, I had staff meeting at my church and we were sharing prayer requests and all I could say was, “I found out Tom Petty died.” That was what I said at prayer meeting.
0:03:34.8 Scotty Smith: Wow.
0:03:35.9 Jim Lovelady: [laughter] And then I started to cry.
0:03:37.4 Scotty Smith: Sure.
0:03:37.7 Jim Lovelady: And I was so surprised. I did not expect that I would cry when Tom Petty died, but he was an amazing musician. And you’ve worked with and you’ve pastored a lot of amazing musicians. So tell me what that’s been like.
0:03:51.3 Scotty Smith: Well, first of all, it was never by design. It’s not like we said, okay, let’s be the artist church. I think we planted our church at a time that just aligned with a lot of loneliness and need for connection. And it helped that for the first year, we had to meet Sunday afternoons from 3:30 to 6:00, which are musicians’ hours, right?
0:04:10.1 Jim Lovelady: Right, yeah.
0:04:10.4 Scotty Smith: So I’d had certainly some friendships early on, through student ministry with some early artists in the CCM world, but Mike Card and I became really close friends when I first moved to town. And then we planted this church and then out of the blue, streaming all these Christian artists but also Christians who were artists in mainstream life, and so it’s been a real honor to walk with some of them.
0:04:36.0 Jim Lovelady: What do you think it was that… Specifically, the timing was good, but what do you think it was?
0:04:42.9 Scotty Smith: I think the curiosity we had when we planted that church, we didn’t know a lot when we planted the church. It was great having Jack Miller as kind of my coach, but Jack wasn’t a manual guy, he was far more of a culture guy than a strategy guy. So we created an environment that intentionally said, we want to connect head and heart in our city, of the greater area of Nashville. You had different kind of churches. You had teaching churches, where for a while the overhead projector replaced the pulpit, it was all about…
0:05:13.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:05:14.6 Scotty Smith: And then we had social justice churches, it was all about love your neighbor. And then there were emotively-driven worship services that didn’t have a high regard for theology. So we basically said, I think all of those are a part of the story. And so I think a lot of artists started coming and realizing, we take all of life seriously, Scriptures really speak to truth, goodness and beauty, and then a lot of those artists began to find friendship and connection. And also, they discovered they had to do their time in the nursery as well. So nobody was treated special.
0:05:49.1 Jim Lovelady: That’s right. That’s right.
0:05:50.0 Scotty Smith: No prima donnas, so come serve together. So, yeah, it’s been an amazing journey.
0:05:54.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. It is funny how even just the idea of having your worship service in the afternoon, how many really great musicians I’ve worked with that… And I’m like, “Hey, come lead worship with me on a Sunday morning.” And they’re like, “Wait! What time do you want me to be there?”
0:06:08.3 Jim Lovelady: “I’m just getting home from my gig, I just can’t do that, I’m sorry.” And they’ll roll in for the second service and participate as a congregant, and I’ll always say, “Hey, just sing really loud. You make the congregation sound better,” that kind of thing.
0:06:25.2 Scotty Smith: Absolutely.
0:06:25.5 Jim Lovelady: “I appreciate you singing, I appreciate you eagerly singing all of those things.”
0:06:30.5 Scotty Smith: Eagerly singing. Yes.
0:06:31.1 Jim Lovelady: So what do you think it is about the holistic nature that the artist is looking for that resonated with the way that you were preaching the gospel?
0:06:40.6 Scotty Smith: I think Jerram Barrs, who was a professor of apologetics at Covenant Seminary and who worked with Francis Schaeffer for years, he gave me this language that helped understand a part of what’s going on. Jerram Barrs said, “Look, in all of us, we bear and carry the irrepressible echoes of Eden.” So there’s something inside of us because we’re image bearers of God that says, “Don’t just tell me, show me.”
0:07:07.3 Jim Lovelady: Show me.
0:07:07.4 Scotty Smith: And I think I was alive to that enough that it just created this environment where we could really affirm all of life as the domain for creation, redemption, fall, restoration. So I think the story… And it just, I think also just where I was in my own journey of wanting to be freer than I was.
0:07:32.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. So you created a context that was inviting musicians, artists found themselves…
0:07:37.7 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:07:38.5 Jim Lovelady: Safe and comfortable, and I’ve worked in that world long enough to understand when musicians and artists come to a church, especially churches of our denomination where the walls are white, there’s… We are very antithetical to anything that could look like decor and how a person comes into that kind of environment and they’re like, “Oh I don’t feel welcome here… ” I don’t know. That might be too harsh. But you created a haven, where these artists found themselves very welcome.
0:08:09.4 Scotty Smith: Well, and a part of it started with this, Jim, which is a beautiful part of the irony of that church plant. So we bought this old First Baptist Church in Downtown Franklin that aesthetically and architecturally just said, “You’re gonna be disgusted when you walk in here but stay, it’s gonna be the people. It’s not the walls.”
0:08:28.7 Scotty Smith: Listen, there were…
0:08:28.9 Jim Lovelady: So you were upfront about it.
0:08:30.2 Scotty Smith: There was orange shag carpet on the floor and the back wall, that was their sound baffling.
0:08:35.8 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:08:36.3 Scotty Smith: There were orange pews that did not match the orange carpet. I mean this was not gonna be the place where you said, “This is a cool place. It reminds me of,” what? My grandmother’s attic? I’m not sure what. So, and I think what happened was just the presence of the Lord, the beauty of what happens when Jesus is getting to be known as prophet, priest and king, or when He really is seen in a bigger storyboard, that became the beauty and the aesthetic before we changed anything in the room.
0:09:08.3 Jim Lovelady: Interesting. Yeah. It wasn’t a, “if you build it they will come” thing.
0:09:12.5 Scotty Smith: Oh no, no, no. It’s like, if you at least fumigate it, maybe they’ll stay for the whole service ’cause it smells like old sweat. But really, I mean the images I have of our entire choir loft and window sills were all regular seating, because there were so many people coming that did not care squat about simply the important table upfront that grandmother Bobbi Jo gave in honor… So you don’t move that. No. It’s just, no, we are here… I mean being a child of the ’60s and part of the Jesus movement, it was just a part of that vibe of what happens when we really see the beauty of truth, goodness, and beauty happening?
0:09:53.4 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:09:53.8 Scotty Smith: And even though that wasn’t the language we used at the time completely.
0:09:57.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. But over the years, you’ve realized like we were talking about last night, Dostoevsky said, “Beauty will save the world.”
0:10:04.5 Scotty Smith: Beauty will save the world. And to people that are just wanting, give me a chapter and verse for that, that makes no sense. But for people that look at how God is revealing Himself through every page of scripture, that makes a lot of sense.
0:10:17.8 Jim Lovelady: You created a context for artists. How did they respond and what did they teach you in response to rubbing shoulders together?
0:10:26.9 Scotty Smith: And fortunately, that continues ’cause some of these artists that I started with, when we planted in ’86 are still some of my closest friends. So we’re aging together, we’re transitioning together. So I think that the artists in our culture, which liberated the whole congregation to see itself as a big choir as opposed to who’s leading this week, because we were all together, they, in my walking with a lot of them, taught me the importance of lingering, and probably in this sense, let me frame it like this. Like a lot of conservative people, kinda like me, I’m more… Has more of a conservative theology and a conservative person, but point being this, I was taught, here’s how you come to the Bible: observation, interpretation, application. So just kind of the trifecta…
0:11:16.9 Jim Lovelady: A laying…
0:11:18.0 Scotty Smith: Just laid out there. Well, the artists in our church began to, although this wasn’t language, it was just a reality… Ah no, no, no, no, no. There’s a third in there before the fourth. Let’s think in terms of observation. “What’s the text saying?” And interpretation. “What does this really mean?” And then implications. “Whoa, slow down here. Wait a minute. Do you smell that? Do you realize if that’s true what this means?” So that application doesn’t become three moral points and a little more discipline.
0:11:47.3 Jim Lovelady: Right. Let’s not jump just straight to being pragmatic.
0:11:49.8 Scotty Smith: No, no.
0:11:50.0 Jim Lovelady: Interesting.
0:11:50.9 Scotty Smith: But implication, which to me now really is the language and the discipline of meditation, seeing, pondering how much a scripture invites us for the whole person experience of, “Behold, hear.” There’s so much language. So I think walking with artists and allowing myself to become less mired just into, “I want to be right,” and more into, “You know what? Our Father is obviously the fountain of truth but why is it His kindness that leads us to repentance not His rightness?” Something about… And a realm of knowing this God in these real words that are all approximations. I mean, the best theology is approximation, right?
0:12:33.7 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:12:33.8 Scotty Smith: It’s the scripture itself that’s the real deal. But so I think growing together and experiencing a lot of different creative types and their different parts of their journey, it just expanded the palette. How many colors are in the rainbow, really? Or what is the light coming in here that has nothing to do with the wattage of the bulb? What’s… So we were just in discovery mode, which I pray I’m still in discovery mode.
0:12:58.9 Jim Lovelady: That’s amazing. What was… What’s pushback look like for that? Where was… ‘Cause it’s scary.
0:13:04.8 Scotty Smith: Yeah.
0:13:05.3 Jim Lovelady: You know, so what does that pushback look like and how did that force you to look at who Jesus is and what Jesus has done and is doing?
0:13:13.7 Scotty Smith: Great question. And think of it like this: I grew up in a pretty simple world of ice cream. So our family ice cream was Neapolitan. Right? That’s chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. So I think, I would describe pushback in terms of, some of us have a Neapolitan christology, prophet, preacher and king. Which do I like the best? And let’s just build everything around…
0:13:35.0 Jim Lovelady: Oh, interesting, chocolate was always gone. [chuckle]
0:13:37.3 Scotty Smith: Oh, exactly. Chocolate’s always gone there, so whatever. But I think in listening to scripture, as I was growing under the influence of Jack Miller, who was even then pregnant with Serge, but it wasn’t a spark in his eye yet. I saw in Jack a reality, as he himself had gone through gospel renewal, and a theology that he believed became more real, good and true. And I think, so the pushback for us, you have people that are drawn to a philosophy of ministry as you can define it, but then you got those people coming and assuming this is what it’s supposed to be like. So, for instance, if we had some experiential people who on the front end thought, “Ah, don’t give me theology, just give me more worship time… “
0:14:22.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:14:23.5 Scotty Smith: Like, you don’t think we’re really doing worship and we’re doing theology… I wanna be careful with this and not being overly critical, but we needed to see the whole Christ for the whole heart, for the whole congregation, for the whole city. Our justice and mercy movement got born out of people seeing the beauty of Jesus and hearing Jesus say, “No, no, no, no, no. I don’t want you to do anything for me, but everything with me. I’m making all things new.” So let’s go into where brokenness shows up in Franklin, Tennessee. You’re just not driving here to go to one of these services.
0:14:58.3 Scotty Smith: So I think we just kept growing. We went from, I’d say, as a congregation, this is part my own journey from, we started with a robust commitment to what is a theology of grace, which was more individualistic. And then we began to say, “Wait a minute, this is the gospel of the Kingdom according to Jesus, that’s His language. So what does that mean and how does that take on our repentable and repairable parts for us, but also for where we live?”
0:15:23.9 Jim Lovelady: Repent for the Kingdom is here.
0:15:25.4 Scotty Smith: Yes. Exactly.
0:15:27.1 Jim Lovelady: Hey, you individual, repent because the Kingdom…
0:15:29.8 Scotty Smith: Because the Kingdom is here and will come in fullness. But so pushback would… For a lot of us, I think came from “where are you coming from? What is new to you in a way that… Aahh! Don’t want to do new.” But where, if you stay present long enough, you begin to realize that the beautiful one Jesus, who is not a flavor of the month but, and the whole Jesus, who is the feast and the banquet. And how do we experience that, understand that, and communicate that with an outward-looking face?
0:16:03.6 Jim Lovelady: Oh, that’s amazing. Yeah. It’s very interesting to me how, in our reformed denomination culture, we’re very intellectual. And one of the things I love about the Serge culture is how it’s like, well yes, we have valued all this head knowledge. But like, the seat of my desires is in my heart. And so I know the right things to do, but my heart longs for and worships all these false things. And so the incorporation of the arts to cultivate that renewed desire, the use of liturgy and reshaping our practices that form our hearts is like, it’s very fascinating to me and how it’s worked is…
0:16:51.6 Scotty Smith: Well, art, itself, from Eden all the way into the New Earth, art is to be reflective of who we actually are and directive for who we are becoming. And so, I mean, the very nature of art is, it’s not just this subdivision of life for the creative types. No, no. God, in whose image we are made, is just so comprehensively glorious. And so, as we see, aesthetics is a big part of what it means to be His and allowing, where tragically, beauty has gone to gray and dark, but how through resurrection, the new creation world’s breaking in and it is highly sensory and we get to experience that in worship culture we create and the missional reality…
0:17:48.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Working out, yeah.
0:17:49.3 Scotty Smith: How it works out. And, again, living in Music City, USA, it was easy to kind of think in terms of [this], and in time to use this language with the church, there’s a lyric, music and dance of the gospel. Lyric, what do we believe? Music, how does that answer to Paul going from Ephesians 1 with this glorious deposit of rich theology, but then immediately before the chapter’s over, he starts saying, “Wait a minute, time out. We gotta pray this deep. Pray the eyes of your heart will come to see… “
0:18:15.6 Jim Lovelady: You’d be enlightened…
0:18:16.5 Scotty Smith: “The hope of the calling, the glorious inheritance in the saints and the power… ” So Paul’s making it clear that’s got to go deeper and that’s the work of the Spirit so that it really captures. But then the dance is just getting literally on the dance floor of Luke 15, with the father that says, you come here, whether you’ve been on a hedonistic holiday or standing on the premises, but the strength of the promise is, get here. And at the end of Romans, I love this picture of the dance as we are living, not triumphalistically, but as those who’ve been triumphed over by Jesus. When Jesus says, through Paul, “And the God of all peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
0:18:56.6 Scotty Smith: So we’re leaving out the good news that evil has an expiration date. And it’s not because we read the end of the book and we win. No, the Lamb’s triumphed over me, too. We’re in the parade of grace streaming into the New Earth. So let’s live that way together in liturgy, which is calling us back to gospel sanity, beauty and goodness, live this way as worship servants until the day of all things new. So it’s just, we kept getting… We kept realizing there’s more to this than we thought. Grace rocks, but grace really rocks.
0:19:31.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. And then next week, we’re gonna see even more.
0:19:33.8 Scotty Smith: Even more.
0:19:35.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. I heard a theologian say, I think it was NT Wright talk about capacity as a balloon. How full… He did this for a children’s sermon or something. He blew up a balloon to here. How full is this balloon? And everyone’s like, “It’s full.” He blows a little bit more. “How full is this balloon?”
0:19:51.9 Scotty Smith: That’s fantastic.
0:19:52.5 Jim Lovelady: “It’s full.” And it’s just like this ever expanding capacity to enjoy the gospel.
0:19:57.0 Scotty Smith: Yeah.
0:19:58.4 Jim Lovelady: That’s what I wanna work in my heart. That’s what I want… As a pastor, that’s what you were working on for yourself and your people.
0:20:05.0 Scotty Smith: That is great image though. I love that balloon illustration. That is so helpful. And I think it’s why eventually it’s gonna take glorification for us to have the capacity to sustain being in the full orbed, unfiltered presence of the triune God in a New Heaven and New Earth with equally glorified brothers and sisters from every people group that have ever existed. It’ll take… I will need a glorified heart to love those that are so different from me…
0:20:37.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:20:37.8 Scotty Smith: But that’s what we’re…
0:20:38.3 Jim Lovelady: We’re made for that.
0:20:39.5 Scotty Smith: We’re made for that and we’re called to say, “Okay. That’s the end of the story here, but not just like the last chapter. That’s the beauty we’re heading towards.” How can we, as a people of God, fumble through our brokenness and keep coming back to the Lord… The ultimate blended worship of New Heaven and New Earth has got nothing to do with kazoos, violins and tubas. [laughter] But heart’s finally, as a symphony, showing the kaleidoscopic wonder of vision bearers of God, in perfect culture forever.
0:21:08.8 Jim Lovelady: That is…
0:21:09.4 Scotty Smith: Making even more art…
0:21:10.9 Jim Lovelady: Right, right.
0:21:11.8 Scotty Smith: Forever, it’s gonna be… I used to think of Heaven as this gigantic worship service where we’re all 33 years old and obviously, white, and we have harps and something, and we’re singing hymns, and we’re not in a hurry. We’re just all laid down on the grounds…
0:21:27.6 Jim Lovelady: It’s 72,000 verses of Just As I Am.
0:21:30.6 Scotty Smith: Oh my word! How boring would that be? But to know that Eden was just a preview of coming attractions.
0:21:37.4 Jim Lovelady: What do you look forward to making?
0:21:39.3 Scotty Smith: Yeah. Exactly. Oh, it’s amazing. Well for me, let me give you one image of what I think it’s gonna involve, and I’ve only seen this in the last 10 years. In the final vision of the Bible, Revelation 21:1 through 22:6, which Tom Wright’s been so helpful to help expand, the older you get, you got a chance to slow down and notice more, which fortunately has been a part of my journey. But this theme that actually Isaiah first articulates in his vision of the Messianic Kingdom, the splendor of the kings coming into the new Jerusalem. I thought, what in the world does that mean? Well, if you ask, you can listen and explore. And John picks up on that same vision and Richard Mouw, who used to be the president of Calvin College, I think Fuller Seminary at one point, wrote a book on When the Kings Come Marching In.
0:22:27.0 Scotty Smith: And he said, “Listen, here’s a part of what’s going on there. Splendor of the kings would be, what is the art? The treasury? What are the… What’s the finery of any kingdom that a tyrannical king would capture and then parade through the city to say, ‘This is all mine. And you’re mine'”? King Jesus is the opposite. He takes of every culture and every generation, saying, “It’s all mine and I give it back to you to enjoy.” And we will steward that together in the New Earth and create new Kingdom culture. So I’m wanting to see a glorified Switzerland, beauty of a place that’s dear to me. I’m looking forward to finally being over every form of reaction and prejudice in my soul. I’m looking forward to seeing what my capacity will be, that balloon heart, what is it gonna be like for me to absolutely enjoy the sonic reality of other cultures and the way they make music now? And I could go on and on and on about the fact that one, I’m glad eternity will be dynamic, not static.
0:23:33.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Amen.
0:23:34.4 Scotty Smith: And we’ll always be exploring and building.
0:23:36.2 Jim Lovelady: Humans will do amazing things.
0:23:37.9 Scotty Smith: Amazing things. And probably one of the most amazing things is, I will be so intrigued with everybody, never irritated by anybody. I don’t know if you ever read Joni Eareckson Tada. She was asked by Nancy Guthrie, who lives on our Franklin community, wonderful Bible teacher. She was asked… Nancy asked her, “So what are you most looking forward to about Heaven?” And of course, a lot of people would think Joni would say, “Getting out of this wheelchair. I’m just so glad to not be in this wheelchair.” And she said, “You know what?” And in fact, that’s the way she said it, she said, “A lot of people assume that’s what I’m really looking forward to. I can finally dance and walk.” She said, “Really, I’m actually looking forward to my new heart more than my legs. ‘Cause I am so looking forward to never suffering under that selfish reaction, that now still plagues me as a fully justified believer. I’m so looking forward to being so present, being freed from any need to be impressive. So there’s so much I’m looking forward to at the finish.”
0:24:40.3 Jim Lovelady: Is that in the same conversation where she said something to the effect of, “Sure, I wanna be able to walk so that I can bow on my knees and worship”?
0:24:51.4 Scotty Smith: Absolutely. Across the board.
0:24:52.1 Jim Lovelady: Something beautiful… Yeah.
0:24:55.0 Scotty Smith: It’s just so… It even comes back to that, like you and I were talking about last night. Good questions are, where does the beauty come from? What is it that I… What’s really behind even a lot of my discontent and whining? Is there actually a possibility I’m made for something that’s so true, so good, so beautiful, but I just let my selfishness sabotage, wander, or I settle easily for… Again as Lewis would say, “Making mud pies in a safe mud puddle,” as opposed to believing, there really is an ocean and I really do get to go there and splash on the waves.
0:25:32.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Swim around in the grace that is mine.
0:25:36.0 Scotty Smith: Yes. The bottomless ocean of grace forever.
0:25:39.4 Jim Lovelady: That’s what I want… I want to not have this… I’m looking forward to not having an aversion to grace. My knee-jerk reaction is just like, “No, I got this.” There’s “I got this” and there’s also, “This can’t be real. I gotta do something.”
0:25:55.2 Scotty Smith: Gotta do something.
0:25:55.9 Jim Lovelady: “I gotta perform in some way or I’ve gotta show up somehow.”
0:26:01.9 Scotty Smith: I’ve gotta cover my bets.
0:26:03.2 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:26:03.6 Scotty Smith: So I’m gonna, yeah, okay, good. So look, few better quiet times on a missions trip every summer might make up for what’s lacking in Jesus’ righteousness… Okay. Alright. Okay. Go for it.
0:26:14.0 Jim Lovelady: Exactly. Right. Or another analogy is, I am not fluent in grace. When someone speaks grace to me, it’s like a foreign language. And when the Spirit whispers grace to me, I’m like, “What was that? Did you hear? Did anybody hear something? Ah, probably nothing.” And I want to be receptive. I wanna be fluent…
0:26:34.0 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:26:36.5 Jim Lovelady: In the smile of God. I wanna be fluent in the friendship of Jesus. I wanna be fluent in fellowship in the Spirit, which is okay, so, Tom Petty let us down the conversation about beauty, which that, I want that floating around in this conversation. But I actually wanted to talk to you about… I have some time with you, and I go, okay, I’m in my mid 40s. You’re older than that…
0:27:04.7 Scotty Smith: Seventy three.
0:27:05.3 Jim Lovelady: And there are young pastors who are just starting out. And I wanna hear some stories about the people who have mentored you, the people who have discipled you. And what did you do when… So, stories about Jack.
0:27:20.7 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:27:21.5 Jim Lovelady: I mean what did you do when Jack died? What was that like for you?
0:27:24.1 Scotty Smith: Wow.
0:27:24.3 Jim Lovelady: And so here’s, so this is for me, very personal, almost like, pretend the cameras aren’t here because I just really wanna know what to do. My mentor passed away a couple years ago. And it was like, I was thinking about this in our conversation yesterday about the people who influenced you and how all of them just exhibited this gospel freedom that was winsome and dangerous and beautiful. My mentor was like that. And then had these images of the moment in Star Wars Episode IV, the first Star Wars, when Obi-Wan Kenobi dies. And Luke is like, “Noooo!” I feel like I’ve been in three years of that. Or I love Lord of the Rings. We were talking about that yesterday too. The moment when Gandalf falls into the abyss and for the rest of the time, until Aragorn discovers that Gandalf is alive, Aragorn flounders in his leadership. And he’s like, “I don’t know how to do this.” And he’s meant to be the king. He’s the high king. And in this moment of despair, he’s like, “I don’t know how to do this.” So I’m really curious, how did people like Jack Miller, how did they influence you? And then when they were gone, what did you do?
0:28:44.3 Scotty Smith: Yeah. Beautifully said. So just to, I’ll tell you, a part of the story, start this part of this conversation, early in life, really as a freshman at University of North Carolina, I felt an internal call to ministry, but I remember specifically telling God, “Thank you very much, but I will never go to seminary and I’ll never be a pastor.” [laughter] So it’s like okay, this is calling, not… Calling is a little different than you’re putting a writer clause in there, right? So anyway, but here’s the point. De-churched in the late ’60s [and I] was very cynical as a young believer, grew up in church…
0:29:20.3 Jim Lovelady: So over it.
0:29:20.6 Scotty Smith: Oh, had never heard the gospel in my church. So anyway, so I’m growing and finally getting ready to graduate and I’m married and I realize oops, I lack one language and one math.
0:29:35.0 Jim Lovelady: Oh.
0:29:35.8 Scotty Smith: So scrambled and there was a Christian getting his PhD in Classics at UNC. And we were able to take one class in Greek. So I had my first class in Greek, with a believer professor in order to graduate. And for some reason, it took kind of… I, who’ve struggled with four years of Spanish and still can’t order a taco in Mexico.
0:30:03.1 Scotty Smith: But my professor said to me and one of the other students, after that one three-hour course, “I want y’all to read through the Book of Ephesians with me.” And first of all, this professor who’s getting his PhD, his name is Wright Doyle. He said, “I want you to read through this.” And reading through Ephesians, all of a sudden, the richness of a theology that was so much bigger than my Jesus movement gospel. So Wright also says, “The Lord told me you’re supposed to go to seminary and you’re supposed to go to Westminster Seminary.” Well, you didn’t expect that one coming either from a secular campus. Anyway so I ended up, short version, going to Westminster Seminary, and I get up there in January of ’75 ’cause I start mid-year and I get my little card and it says, “Here’s your professor of record, here’s gonna be your faculty rep.” And I don’t know this name. I knew some of the big names at Westminster Seminary but it said, “See John Miller.” So I thought, what? Is that… Oh I was hoping for a Richard Gaffin or whatever. So go into Machen Hall, knocked on what looked like literally a door from the Shire. Jack, his office had this little curved top…
0:31:13.9 Jim Lovelady: Oh really?
0:31:14.4 Scotty Smith: And I’m kind of there, new guy, I am afraid. I’m on the holograms of Westminster and I knock on the door, Jack opens the door. I put out my hand to shake his hand. First, I’m looking down at the one that became Yoda to me, grace Yoda, so I’m looking down and he undercuts my hand, puts his arms around me, pulls me into his chest, and then did not let go for 21 years. So Jack Miller, I first met three years into his gospel renewal, having been a member of the faculty and a church planner, and waking up one day saying, “I don’t love people. I don’t love much of anything. I’m tired of this church, I’m tired of me, I’m tired of this faculty.” So, his journey again, short version, he and Rose Marie go to Spain. He immerses himself in the gigantic promises of God and comes back, and I meet him literally, in that first moment, I go…
0:32:07.4 Jim Lovelady: Oh, interesting.
0:32:08.0 Scotty Smith: I thought, this is something beautiful about this man. I don’t know who you are, but my first encounter with Jack was, it was disruptive ’cause I didn’t expect to be hugged. And yet, he began to live out before me, showing me this theology I’m learning in Ephesians of, oh, this is what it actually looks like in being. So, that began the journey of walking with Jack from 1975 until 1996 when he passed, of Jack and Rose Marie loving me and my wife Darlene and living out before us in the strategic times of life: Brokenness, longing and including theirs, lived out before us. One of my favorite memories of Jack was when we started inviting him into our church in Nashville before I even planted Christ Community in Franklin. So we go to pick up Jack and Rose Marie, and usually they would stay in our home, but one night we said, let’s put them one weekend in a nice hotel and we’ll pick them up, okay? We picked them up for supper one night and they got in our car in the backseat. Rose Marie was against one side of the car, Jack’s on the other. They just had a fight.
0:33:08.6 Jim Lovelady: Oh, nice.
0:33:09.3 Scotty Smith: And they were gonna pose or pretend. They got in the car and we’re thinking, awkward moment…
0:33:15.3 Jim Lovelady: This is awkward.
0:33:16.2 Scotty Smith: This is mom and dad. And it’s like, no, this is the gospel. Jack had probably done something to irritate Rose Marie and so we get in the restaurant and he buys her a glass of wine, hoping that will take the edge off a little bit. But the point is this, in every season of this 21 years, when I was such an orphan with a better theology, Jack was there just to say, “This is what grace looks like.” When he went through lymphoma cancer and would call me and just say, “Would you pray for me right now?” So I have so many stories of Jack, but just here as an Enneagram 5, the big picture is 21 years of the showing and the telling of the gospel by Jack and continuing now with Rose Marie at 98, and still being my mom in the faith.
0:34:07.7 Jim Lovelady: Where did you find him most disruptive for your walk?
0:34:13.2 Scotty Smith: Yeah. Oh my God… Well, his joy, like you… His joy was absolutely disruptive. I thought, is that a personality thing? Is it just he’s wired more that way? Some people are just, no, I think what was disruptive was I realized, freedom. Jack had really come to see and savor what Paul meant when he said defend, stand in, safeguard the freedom for which you’ve been set free. So I got to see Jack live disruptive joy, that made him absolutely unflappable in every circumstance. I was thinking, even flying up yesterday, I was trying to remember, do I ever remember seeing Jack anxious? And the answer is no. I saw him dependent… There was a sense of the non-anxious presence of the Father and Jesus in him that even when he inhabited seasons of incredible difficulty… So that joy, that laugh of his, Jack had this disarming laugh that was self-effacing, ’cause he was always able to say, “I am so needful of Jesus right now.”
0:35:27.1 Jim Lovelady: But not self-deprecating?
0:35:29.3 Scotty Smith: No, it was not self-deprecation or…
0:35:31.8 Jim Lovelady: How, like how?
0:35:32.6 Scotty Smith: Again, I’m seeing what Paul prayed in Ephesians 3. Okay, second prayer in Ephesians is, Paul is saying, “I’m praying that together with all the saints, God will give you power to apprehend the height, depth, and width, and breadth, and to know the love of Jesus that surpasses knowledge.” So I’m watching Jack say, “I’m praying that daily because I want my balloon to get bigger.” And so, and that meant that what? What is Jesus actually praying for me? Well, he’s praying for my joy, that I might even know the fullness of his joy. But not joy that displaces sorrow, but joy that inhabits sorrow. So, I never experienced Jack in the seasons of life and longing and brokenness, mine or his or anybody’s, as thinking happy is the same thing as this core of a heart of shalom and peace, God’s joy. So I’ll give you a concrete example of just how joyful and free he was that really collided with my inhibitions, and probably more my unbelief and my introversion, as an introvert.
0:36:40.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah.
0:36:41.5 Scotty Smith: I am automatically, “Aah! Don’t put me in uncomfortable circumstances.” But one fall, after we planted Christ Community, Jack just had this idea. He wanted to take eight or nine of us to Spain to go be with gypsies because he was convinced…
0:36:55.2 Jim Lovelady: Hey, why not?
0:36:56.3 Scotty Smith: Why not? He said, you remember, “Hey, Jesus is redeeming a bride from every people group and gypsies are a people group.”
0:37:04.4 Jim Lovelady: And in fact, the part just like popped into his head, the Spirit’s like, “Hey, what are you gonna do with this?” And Jack’s like, “That’s a great idea!”
0:37:10.5 Scotty Smith: Totally, and who would he invite to go with him? Not eight competent people in Spanish and gypsy culture. No, just, ah, Lord put together this ragtag bunch and we’ll just go learn to pray, learn to trust, and his freedom on that trip at every level, in terms of the freedom of intrigue…
0:37:31.5 Jim Lovelady: Curiosity.
0:37:32.5 Scotty Smith: Curiosity. I mean, the freedom of being able to love whoever was in front of him. And that is not my go-to, Jim. By nature, I’m distrusting and I’m kind of, aah… And no, put me in the White English-speaking church in Spain where the vacationers are and I’ll give them the gospel. That’s a little too safe. In fact, let me tell you, even before that, he did this, he did this at Westminster. This really unnerved me. So I took every course he taught and he taught one class on evangelism and open-air preaching. Not assuming we’d have…
0:38:08.8 Jim Lovelady: He had a course on that?
0:38:11.5 Scotty Smith: Yeah, not assuming we’d actually have to do that, I just wanna watch him…
0:38:13.0 Jim Lovelady: What did you think? What did you expect?
0:38:15.5 Scotty Smith: There’s this picture in Machen Hall of Jack Miller and Cornelius Van Til preaching the gospel in the steps of Wall Street. And I thought, gosh, it’d be great just to hang with you… So there were about six or seven of us in the class. So, one Saturday morning, he said, “Okay, guys, meet me at 10:00, we’re gonna go to Germantown and we’re gonna share the gospel.” The operative word was we. And I think, okay, great, we’ll be with Jack, we’ll watch him, how he does this. We pull up to where we were meeting and he stays behind the driver’s wheel, and says, “Okay, guys, I’ll be back in an hour and a half. Give ’em your best sermon.” So he drops us off, four Westminster Reformed Theology guys, in the middle of a moment and place where nobody wants to give us a moment of time or attention.
0:39:01.8 Jim Lovelady: Much less that kind of a moment.
0:39:03.0 Scotty Smith: Much less so… The point is this, Jack’s joy was connected to, are you sure you wanna be free? This joy is the joy of the one who delights in his bride now as she is, not as she will be one day. And I think the disruption of colliding in moments, like getting out of the car and thinking, this feels unsafe to me. It’s not a microphone and a captive audience. It’s, do I believe this? Do I love Jesus? What’s going on inside of me? So Jack’s joy and freedom in that way were so convicting, but never condemning.
0:39:44.4 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. There are all these disruptive moments that I’ve began to catalog in my own heart, where I experienced someone living in a certain kind of freedom that I don’t think is, I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s… I don’t know, I have some sort of reason why, that’s inappropriate or, or whatever, and it just totally reminds me of Michal and David dancing in his underwear, you know?
0:40:13.1 Scotty Smith: Yeah.
0:40:13.9 Jim Lovelady: The Spirit moves where the Spirit will. And now I’m witnessing it in flesh and blood from… I’ve a friend that’s on my mind right now, who just free, just lives free, you know? And I’ll be like, well, he’s late all the time. And it’s like, the Spirit goes, you’re late all the time, [laughter] and I’ll have some sort of judgment toward that person because that disruption in my heart just points to things like, oh man, I’m way more of a… I’m way more of the older brother than I thought I was. I’m way more of a Pharisee than I realized. And people like Jack come along and go, “Hey, watch this.” And you’re like, “Is that okay?”
0:40:55.2 Scotty Smith: Well, and the beauty of, for Jack, I always felt with Jack, not, “Shame on you, that you’re not this free,” but just come with me. Come with…
0:41:02.7 Jim Lovelady: Right. Exactly.
0:41:04.6 Scotty Smith: Just, let’s go do this. And I’ll give you another image and another story that’s just so marked… And I’ve got a picture at home that I’ll never forget. So, in the early days of beginning the work in London and Southall, Jack took a group of us over just to go for prayer walking through the area, Southall and is praying. And we stayed a part of the time down on the south coast of England in a place called Chichester, which is really cool little area down there. And one of the days, Jack would be… Jack always believed, look, you know, first of all, we’re not here to convert anybody but to love everybody. And here’s some ways we’re gonna do this. We’re gonna plant a church ’cause we know how central the church is to God’s saving purposes but we’re also gonna enjoy.
0:41:43.3 Scotty Smith: And everyone can laugh louder, enjoy music, good paella, whatever. But one day, Jack knew, okay. The natives are restless. The crew on this tour, 25 or so of us, we want a day in London. And Jack, we want you to take us to Spurgeon’s Tabernacle. We wanna understand where John Wesley’s heart was strangely warmed. We wanna go to Bunhill Fields and see where Isaac Watts and Susanna Wesley are buried. So he put that trip together. But let me tell you what he did, Jim, the whole day. So we’re on the bus and we’re like, “Yay!” We get to go, bubble gum card of our favorite gospel heroes in London.
0:42:19.9 Scotty Smith: Jack, as soon as we got on the bus, started sitting at the front of the bus, next to the bus driver. And for the whole trip, he did nothing but talked to and learned from the bus driver. “Tell me about your bus. Tell me about you.” So this image I have, I’m standing beside William Tyndale’s statue. His bones were thrown in there ’cause he was so faithful. I’m there, I see Jack, he’s talking to the bus driver. We get at the end of the day, back to Chichester, Jack disappears and comes back with a new brother in Christ.
0:42:48.6 Jim Lovelady: Oh my goodness!
0:42:50.4 Scotty Smith: He led our bus driver to Jesus ’cause all he did was love the bus driver the whole time. And we’re thinking, what’s next on our itinerary? Now the point is this, talking about freedom…
0:43:01.6 Jim Lovelady: Exactly.
0:43:02.2 Scotty Smith: Jack genuinely wanted to know about bus driving. This wasn’t technique evangelism 101, build a bridge, manipulate, build trust, and then set ’em up for the gospel. He truly was curious.
0:43:16.1 Jim Lovelady: When Jesus liberates you from your own self-preoccupation, the freedom of self-forgetfulness, when he liberates you from that, he gives you a holy curiosity.
0:43:26.4 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:43:27.7 Jim Lovelady: I don’t have to protect myself. I don’t have to worry about myself. What am I free to do? And it goes back to our conversation in Heaven, what are we gonna be free to do? And it’s, well, tell me everything about bus driving.
0:43:39.7 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:43:40.8 Jim Lovelady: And there’s so much image of God’s stuff in there, there’s so much glory of what it means to be a human.
0:43:47.1 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:43:47.9 Jim Lovelady: And the curiosity about, what is your life like…
0:43:50.1 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:43:51.1 Jim Lovelady: Is love, like that’s love. Tell me about your life.
0:43:53.3 Scotty Smith: I really saw Jack love that way. And I’m 73 and I want to be more free before my 74th birthday because it is, it is for freedom we’ve been set free. It is joy that Jesus is praying that we would know the fullness of. And that is steward in the context of missional living and loving, with the certainty of the fact the city’s coming towards us.
0:44:24.7 Jim Lovelady: I wanna dance like David.
0:44:25.9 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:44:26.8 Jim Lovelady: Who, it’s one of my favorites, as a worship leader, I will become even more undignified than this. And what is he saying? He’s saying, I may have the crown as the king of Israel or whatever, but I’m not the real king, so whatever I need to do to remind y’all that I’m not the king, okay. I’m gonna become a fool. And I’m totally okay with becoming a fool. I’m free to make myself a fool for Christ because he is king. He is my king.
0:44:57.9 Scotty Smith: Absolutely.
0:44:58.2 Jim Lovelady: Anyway, so what did you do? What did you do when he died?
0:45:03.9 Scotty Smith: Yeah. Well, I’ll, never forget the day. I wasn’t prepared for it. Jack had had a heart attack in Uganda, when he was preaching while Idi Amin was still reigning, but some of our students at Westminster were Ugandan refugees. So Jack went there and happened to have a heart attack while I was there… Well, he did die as a result of probably the damage of that heart attack…
0:45:35.0 Jim Lovelady: Oh.
0:45:35.8 Scotty Smith: He, after the heart attack and had lymphoma cancer, and same thing, I remember him calling me from Philadelphia one day and he had a grapefruit-sized tumor. But he’s laying flat on his back and he calls me one day and says, “God, I was just laying here in my bed and Jimmy Swaggart came on the screen.” And if you don’t know who that is, he was an evangelist, still evangelist, that was kind of, had some theological diversity, let’s leave it at that.
0:45:57.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, well said.
0:45:58.3 Scotty Smith: I’m thinking, what is he going to say? And the first thing he says was, “And he was reading from Romans and here’s what I heard.” So Jack was… Okay. So anyway, alright, let’s go through the lymphoma, I got over that. And then he was invited to Hamburg, Germany to preach in one of the biggest German Pentecostal churches. And Wolfgang Wegert was the pastor.
0:46:21.0 Jim Lovelady: Nice.
0:46:21.1 Scotty Smith: It’s a great story there because I got to go preach there after Jack. But Joni Tada had been there earlier and Wolfgang said to Joni before Jack, he even knew Jack’s name. “Hey Joni, my elders gave me all of Spurgeon’s sermons. Is there anybody that believes like this in the world that you know?” She said, “I’ve got a friend, Jack Miller.” Jack comes over and preaches there. Jack goes to Spain and asked me, “Would you go back to that church sometime and preach? Because the Lord’s doing a great gospel work there.” Jack increasingly got weaker, to the point that he was in his beloved Spain and needed heart surgery.
0:46:55.9 Scotty Smith: And this was in 1996, April 1996 and they opened him up, and he never recovered from that. And I got a call before he was going into surgery from him, and that he didn’t come out. So when that word came to me, the knees on my heart buckled. I could not imagine Jack going to Heaven that quickly. He was just 67, which means I’ve outlived him six years already. And what made it something I had to deal with was, Rose Marie called and said, “Scotty, I want you to be a part of Jack’s service.” And that scared the bejeebies out of me because it would mean I’ve got to confront the issue of death in my own life. And so, Jack’s death, like his life, were a calling of our Father into looking at parts of my story, where my heart was frozen, where I was shut down, where… So participating in his funeral, both gave me some closure that he will be raised, and this really is a real grave, and he didn’t disappear.
0:48:06.9 Scotty Smith: It’s not like all of a sudden, we’re waiting to come back, just hiding out in Uganda. And it was the portal through which the Lord began to say, “You are now to know me and trust me, the way you were so drawn to Jack, knowing me, loving me and trusts me.” And that opened up the portal. I was in my burnout three years later, through which time, one, I wish I had had Jack but I know now why the Father was so good to say, “No, Jack was never the fourth member of the Trinity.”
0:48:40.0 Scotty Smith: And it was devastating, it was a heart wound, it liberated me to realize, I’m one of the richest people in the world to have had him as my father for 21 years. The reverberations go on, I still miss him every day. Tim Keller’s recent death who was a friend… Death itself, which is to find me, death of my mom when I’m 11, death of a girl I dated all through high school, death of my innocence through sexual abuse, a lot of death have marked me, but Jack was always there inviting me more fully into the fullness, who, every word every emotion imaginable, accompanied me through Jack’s death.
0:49:22.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. My mentor, like the older brother that I never had, the guide into a wild gospel freedom that was dangerous. And onlookers are like, “Is it okay that he does that?” Just all of those things that are fun stories to tell. But when you say, “I miss him every day to this day,” it’s like, yeah. And when Aragorn doesn’t know what to do because where is Gandalf to ask this question? I feel that. But then at the same time, for you to be confronted with this sense of, oh, he’s not the fourth person of the Trinity.
0:50:05.3 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:50:05.7 Jim Lovelady: And then a new invitation to trust Jesus as my real big brother. And that’s hard, that’s been a new… That’s been a… Yeah, can someone tell me what to do in this moment? [laughter]
0:50:24.5 Scotty Smith: Yeah, and you know what? I’m looking right now, tears in your eyes, thank you for your heart water. ‘Cause this isn’t just talking about our mentors. Thank you for risking being loved deeply and for being willing to sit in a real grief with real hope, but a real grief. And that’s so inviting to me, even in this moment, Jim, I don’t want to dismiss your tears. If God bottles them and will wipe them away one day, we should take them more seriously, right?
0:50:53.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:50:54.1 Scotty Smith: And it was a long time coming to that for myself as well.
0:50:57.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. And it’s my daughter Talitha’s favorite verse, “He will wipe away every tear.”
0:51:04.0 Scotty Smith: And you probably know this, but that became important because it took me through Jack’s death, to begin to access my tears, ’cause I just had a real backlog of a lot of tears. And when I first started studying that passage, the very idiom there in Revelation 21:1, the Greek’s rather awkward because it’s, God will wipe out of their eye, every tear. And the idiom is actually, God will heal the story behind the tear.
0:51:32.2 Jim Lovelady: Oh wow.
0:51:34.3 Scotty Smith: It’s a bigger redemption of just knowing that it’s not that we will no longer… I think we are going to laugh so loud. We’re going to have those joyful tears throughout forever, just thinking… But because tears are important, heart water, right? And I know Jack wept for me. Pivotal little times in my life, men have given me tears, when it would have been easier for them to give me words. And it really has proved to be one of the main means by which this still heart, that is allergic to grace in different areas, is knowing there’s still more freedom. It’s like the end of Last Battle. Remember Aslan looking at the kids who are moving from this world through Narnia, into the however CS Lewis tried to envision… Okay, what is the final…
0:52:25.8 Jim Lovelady: Exactly. Exactly.
0:52:26.5 Scotty Smith: What’s the ultimate fullness of Narnia? And he looks at him and he says, “You’re not as joyful as I intend.” And Aslan looking at… It’s like, that’s what we’re talking about. That’s like, who are these radically free people that we would go with anywhere? Where do we go without them now? Now we go with Jesus. And we look who’s behind us, saying, “I never got a Jack Miller, but I got you.” Just repent with me, will you show me the way? And the more I’ve been in that position to be the older… And I have a few older friends and I sometimes say, “We’re the muppets in the balcony.”
0:53:06.3 Jim Lovelady: Yes! Yes, yes.
0:53:06.3 Scotty Smith: We’re laughing louder than ever, but we’re really, we’re not staying in the balcony because there’s a lot of muppets down on the playing field that need us just to say, “Let’s do this together. There’s more to Jesus and it won’t be, ‘Here’s the seven steps to being an awesome me.'” It’s like, ‘I don’t know either. Let’s just go to Jesus together,'” just what Jack constantly did.
0:53:30.9 Jim Lovelady: In the New Heavens and New Earth, there will be nothing inhibiting the no end to our joy.
0:53:38.8 Scotty Smith: Yes.
0:53:40.3 Jim Lovelady: And so Jesus wakes us up every morning and goes, “What do you wanna do?”
0:53:46.0 Scotty Smith: A-freaking-amen to that for sure. Is it Tolkien? I guess that was the phrase, everything sad becoming untrue?
0:53:53.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Yeah.
0:53:54.0 Scotty Smith: Just that image of death working backward, the sad becoming untrue and the joy being unfiltered, and… But it being so much better than mere happy. Sometimes all it takes is a craft beer for me to be happy or the perfectly cooked Pittsburgh style steak with a nice char, but I don’t wanna be so easily satisfied when there’s a joy. The very fact that the scriptures say that our bridegroom delights in us, what do we do with that? I’m just sitting here thinking, all right, I know that I preach that. I believe that. And Lord heal me from a doxological dementia and my grace allergies because do I really get that? Well, take my glorified heart to completely, but you know what? There’s enough of the Spirit now to say, it really is right now. And the more I know that Jesus loves us like that, the less I’m fearful, the less I’m concerned about being, as Jack would say, an approval sock, plugging my umbilical cord into anybody saying, be life to me and free, or I’m able to actually inhabit mystery and just not know. I don’t know. It’s okay. I don’t know. I don’t know about that. I’m finally good with that.
0:55:15.6 Jim Lovelady: And it ends with a smile and a wink in your eye… Like you just did it, a smile and…
0:55:19.3 Scotty Smith: That’s all it took, right there.
0:55:21.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:55:21.7 Scotty Smith: That’s it.
0:55:22.6 Jim Lovelady: Man, thank you so much for letting me just sit with you and sit under you for a bit.
0:55:28.5 Scotty Smith: Jim, it’s been my joy. I feel a child likeness growing and I pray that that will grow for both of us and thank you. And this is very much an across the table, not the muppet in the balcony looking down at the spiritual dolt or the gospel neophyte, ’cause we’re always in the… Neither. We’re both still standing at the base of the Swiss Alps wearing flip-flops and a bucket and a teaspoon, trying to drink in the wonder. And that’s a good place to be.
0:56:00.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Well, someday you’ll need to take me to the Alps.
0:56:02.3 Scotty Smith: Absolutely. Amen.
0:56:03.8 Jim Lovelady: Well, thank you, brother.
0:56:05.0 Scotty Smith: Thank you.
56:11 Jim Lovelady: The people we admire most are the people who are the most free in Christ; free to love and serve others. Free to be curious and adventurous. I love how our conversation continuously veered toward the mysteries of Heaven and the glory of uninhibited joy in the presence of Jesus. It’s like he couldn’t help himself because he’s captivated by the beauty of Jesus. So if you want more of that, go follow Scotty on Twitter. You will not be disappointed and that’s all I’m gonna say. And he has loads of great articles online, but he’s also written some really great Bible studies for us, for our Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible Series: One on Ephesians, one on Revelation, and one on 1 John. And I can’t think of anyone better to do a Bible study on 1 John than Scotty because both of these guys, John, the gospel, the disciple, whom Jesus loved and Scotty are both captivated by the beauty of Jesus. So go get your copy of these at newgrowthpress.com.
But now back to the question of mentoring and being mentored. Who is that person who calls you back to the beauty of Jesus? I encourage you to go to them and tell them that you are grateful for them. And if you can’t think of anyone who calls you back to the beauty of Jesus, ask Jesus to show you and be ready to hear this question too.
Do you have someone that you’re bringing with you as you chase after and experience the love of God? And if you feel stuck with these questions, I get it. Serge Renewal has two courses that will be a huge benefit to you. The first is called Sonship and it’s a one-on-one discipleship mentoring program, where one of our mentors comes alongside you to help you work the gospel from your head to your heart, to help you recover the joy of your salvation. And the second is called Discipleship Lab. It’s a cohort style program that teaches you how to disciple folks and mentor them in such a way that that re-captivates our imagination for the beauty of Jesus.
You can go to serge.org/renewal for more information about that. And I’ll have links to all of these in the show notes. And as you go, may the beauty of Christ and the joy of his fellowship move you out of your self-preoccupation and into participation in His Kingdom, on earth as it is in Heaven. And go with this blessing. May the Lord bless you and keep you, make his face to smile down on you. May the Lord be gracious to you and turn his bright eyes to you, and give you his peace, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, life everlasting. Amen.
Scotty Smith presently serves as Teacher in Residence at West End Community Church and as adjunct faculty for Covenant Seminary. He planted and pastored Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, for twenty-six years. He has authored multiple books, 3 of which are part of Serge’s The Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible Series.
Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician, and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori, and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram, and Talitha. He is passionate about the ministry of liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel.
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