I've always loved the song 'Arms Wide Open' which is a beautiful song Scott wrote when he was expecting his first son. Other than that I've only known Creed as another rock band with a troubled lead singer.
Life is sometimes complicated by situations and circumstances. Things happen we have no control over and we are sometimes taught things about God, that simply aren't true.
Scott was taught from a young age, by his strict step father, that God was an angry and wrathful God who punished without love or grace. This had a dramatic affect on him and his life.
Scott spends a lot of time in the book, talking about his relationship with his stepfather and expressing his feelings on how the emotional and physical abuse affected him. He shares many conversations with his stepfather, which help the reader understand the abuse and false doctrine that was taught to him.
Excellence and perfection were what were expected of Scott. Anything less and he was beaten. Though he did well in school, sports and music, it was never good enough.
His stepfather was a firm believer in punishment to cleanse sin, and believed it was his job to do the punishing. But the irony of it all is that as a 'Christian' he didn't understand Jesus already payed the price, Jesus already took the wrath of God upon Himself on Calvary. Though his stepfather spoke of the cross he never grasped it. Instead he felt he had to punish his children for every little thing, sometimes even before they did it!
"But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9
On the other hand Scott had a wonderful grandfather, who loved God and His creation. As a young boy Scott remembers this conversation with his grandfather:
"How could anyone say there's no God?' Grandpa asked the next morning. 'Look at the mountains, the sky, the stars. The earth is shouting all around us, 'There is a God!'
Grandpa was always looking up.
'What do you see in the clouds, Anthony?' he said. *
'They look like a white stallion.'
'See how God paints pictures in His clouds. He does that to remind us He's there. God is always there, Anthony.'
It was through Grandpa's description of God that, for the first time, I felt connected to something out of this world. I had a heavenly Father. I was His son."
"The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard." Psalm 19:1-3
This love for God, instilled at a young age, is what has sustained Scott. A Love that forgives seventy times seven, a Love that hears you when you cry out, a Love that sees your heart. I deeply felt Scott's love and admiration towards God throughout this book.
At one point in the beginning of the book he compares himself to King David. I was a little leery of this when I first read it, but as I finished the book I truly believe Scott has, like David did, a heart for God. He talks about it here:
"No drama captivated me more than David's. He was the shepherd, the poet, the psalmist. Like David, I had music and poetry surging through me. I had recently joined the school choir, and in my free time I began writing poems. David had a heart for God; so did I. He was a small man who defeated a giant. Small in stature as a boy, I could relate. As my life progressed, the parallels would continue, although there was no way I could have known it then.
Like David, I would spend time in a cave of sorts, depressed and alone. And while I'll never know what it's like to be crowned king, I can identify with the challenges of superstardom he faced - power, wealth, and women.
I spoke about David in my Sunday school class with what the teacher called unusual insight. I talked about how worldly lust had lured King David into sin. I analyzed the consequences of adultery - how David became both a manipulator and a murderer. Theoretically, I seemed to understand the story, but I was just mouthing words. Those concepts, which would be all to real later in my own life, had little meaning for me as a preteen."
Scott has made a lot of mistakes in his life. Sinful mistakes. But he knows a forgiving God. A God who will never leave him or forsake him. And Scott honors Him in this book.
One of those mistakes was excessive drinking and he became an alcoholic. Something he will struggle with for the rest of his life. He says here of his physical, emotional and spiritual recovery:
"My recovery was, is, and always will be ongoing. I can't speak for others, but for me it will never be a sudden and permanent transformation. It's something I'm always going to have to work on and stay committed to. It's a reprieve that comes daily, based on spiritual maintenance."
About 2 years ago Scott entered a 3-step program called Willingway. He describes the 3rd step here:
"The program's third step is also gospel-based - to make a decision to 'turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.' That's exactly what Christ's life represented. His entire mission was to do His Father's will. He modeled in dramatic ways what it looks like to surrender to God."
He goes on to tell what he's learned from the program:
"For me, Willingway was all about learning the difference between willpower and willingness. Over and over throughout my life, my willpower had collapsed. Willingness, though, was about being willing to admit I couldn't do it alone. Willingness was an admission that I couldn't will myself to emotional and spiritual health. I had to lean on God to do that.
For me, the first three steps can be summarized in seven words:
1. Scott can't.
2. God can.
3. Scott lets God.
As I went through these steps, I was reapproaching the God I had learned to love as a child. That reapproach required a hard look at my ego. Without humbly surrendering to God, there could be no spiritual progress. And because I was a perfectionist, raised in an extreme environment that demanded perfection but expected failure, I had to accept another basic principle - that my recovery was a matter of progress, not perfection. No other approach could have worked. At the first sign of imperfection, I would have given up and said, 'Since I'm not perfect, I might as well get back out there and go crazy.' The attitude of might as well had undermined me countless times. Might as well was a kind of antimantra. It set me up rather than calmed me down."
Many of us were not immune to the pressures of perfection growing up in the church. When we give in to the lie that we can be perfect Christians by works, we miss out on the grace of God. When we give in to the lie of perfection, we take control and there is no room for God. But when we humble ourselves before Him, He makes us strong and is perfected in us. We need to look at our lives as a journey of growing and learning and becoming more like Christ.
"It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect." Psalm 18:32
Scott also includes stories of how the band Creed began, life on the road, his decline into alcohol and drugs, rock doctors, his bouts of depression and attempted suicide, then meeting his beautiful wife and having his children. I believe God has blessed Scott, not because he has lived a 'perfect life' but because God loves him.
Here's a photo of his family, what blessings!
I really felt the love of God through Scott's story and when I turned the last page of this memoir, I bowed my head and prayed for Scott and his family. I believe God has good plans for them. : )
I highly recommend this book.
*Note: Scott was born Anthony Scott Flippen, but when he was adopted by his stepfather his name was changed to Scott Stapp.
Here's Scott talking about his book:
Buy it HERE at Amazon