Thursday, April 30, 2009

Field Trip!

Yesterday, we took a field trip with about 70 sixth graders from Oakman Elementary to Desoto Caverns in Childersburg, Alabama. The two hour drive there and the two hour return made for a long day before Wednesday Bible Study, but the excursion was worth the effort.

Desoto Caverns is a well maintained, privately owned park that features a large cavern. The guide informed us that you could fit a football field on the floor of the largest room and a twelve story building would barely reach the top. The caverns have been home to Native Americans, a Confederate Gun Powder manufacturing location, a hide-out for many, a moonshine still and honky-tonk during prohibition, and home to bats and other creatures.

As a privately owned cavern, they do something you will not see everywhere. Their light show has a theme worthy of applause. As lights flash against the walls and other formations in the cavern, and as a fountain sprays water in time with music, a voice-over reads the account of creation from Genesis 1. You would expect a lesson on geological time-tables and the alleged millions of years it took for this cavern to form, but instead you hear God created the world.

Thank you Desoto Caverns for not being afraid to stand up for God.

If you are ever near Childersburg, Alabama -- drop in and support them. Tell them thanks and see more of God's wonderful creation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

They are Watching You

Yesterday (Monday, April 27), I went with other ministers to a meeting in Winfield, Alabama. Matt Heupel who preaches in the Florence, AL area and teaches Youth Ministry and Bible at Heritage Christian University spoke to us about Youth Ministry. There were active Youth Ministers in attendance and some of us formerly worked as Youth Ministers. He had a lot of good material to share and the conversations that followed were informative as well. Below is a test he gave us, that I want you to take. This is not a long test and will not require more than a few minutes of your time. Grab a pencil (or pen) and a sheet of paper, then answer these THREE questions:

1. In the next 30 seconds list five (5) sermons that had a great impact on who you are today.

2. Take 30 more seconds and list five (5) events or activities you attended or participated in as a young person that influenced you to be who you are today.

3. Now take 30 seconds to list five (5) people who influenced your life.

If you are like me, you struggled to list five sermons (and I preach them). It was a little easier to list five activities, but not as easy as it was to list five people.

What a great observation this little test forces us to make! I have great influence on others. Someone is watching me and learning from me. That is why Jesus tells His followers, "You are the light of the world . . . so let your light shine before men that they may see you good works and glorify God."

What do those who are watching you see?


Thursday, April 23, 2009


Just a pic from my phone taken through the windshield of my Nissan Frontier of the sky Wednesday AM as I drove from Oakman to Parrish. The way the sun breaks through the clouds is to me a simple reminder of how even in the darkness of the world God sends light (John 1:1ff)

Have a great day!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day to You!

What a beautiful day we are having in my part of Alabama. Cool this morning with highs reaching 75 f.

April 22, 1970 was the first Earth Day celebration in modern history and 29 years later we are still here. With Earth Day in mind, last night I helped (really watched) my wife bake a single layer 18 inch round cake and decorate it to look like the Western Hemisphere for her 1st grade class' Earth Day activities. I think I will show up at school today somewhere around recess!!!!

I am not an extremist in the area of environmentalism, I do not carry an EPA membership card. However, for the last 20 years I spend time encouraging young people to take care of the earth. I do not do this out of fear of global warming, I am old enough to remember being taught in elementary school that the earth was heading to a new ice-age. My understanding is that the earth has cycles of warmer and cooler periods that last for decades, centuries, or even millennium. That being said, I still think we are to do our part of keep the earth.

I believe Christians may need to step it up a bit and not be wasteful but good stewards of the earth God gave us. Take note of these instructions from God to man, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen 1:28) "Subdue and have dominion" do not have to have negative connotations, they could very well mean to "cultivate and take care of." If that is the case, and I think it is, God commanded us to care for our temporary home planet.

So today, Earth Day, remember the blessing God has given you with a home created for you, then remember that He left you in control to make sure she is there for future generations if He chooses for time to remain.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Top Ten Church Puns

What a great morning to walk. Temp in the upper 40's lower 50's with the sun breaking through the morning clouds. Every one seemed in a good mood as they drove past, waving good morning, the birds were very happy and delighted me with song. Thank you God for a great day!

Now on to this morning's Top Ten!

Top Ten Collected Christian Puns:

10. Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers.

9. Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.

8. Quit griping about your church;if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.

7. Some minds are like concrete thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

6. Why change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?

5. God loves everyone, but probably prefers 'fruit of the spirit' over a 'religious nut!'

4. He who angers you, controls you!

3. The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

2. We don't change the message,the message changes us.

1. Gospel Mathematics: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4given.

Take a look at number 2 again. How many times have you heard, or said, I know that the Bible says that but I think God will understand? I read an article nearly 20 years ago that had a very catchy title; "When the Text Demands Changing." The author's point was simple, many want to change what the Bible says to fit their preconceived ideas or their chosen lifestyle,
but we are not to change the text, but the text DEMANDS that we are the ones who change. Remember that the apostle Paul lists a number of sins including sexual sins and chemical dependence in 1 Cor 6:9-10 then in 1 Cor 6:11, "Such were some of you." Those Christians in Corinth had overcome some major obstacles. They could sympathize with number 9 on our top ten list - Temptation
bangs on the door.

What was power did the Corinthians have that made their change possible. Simple - the good news of being washed and sanctified in Christ -- 1 cross + 3 nails = 4given.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday, Monday!

We had a long busy weekend and a great week beginning. Friday and Saturday were all about a niece's wedding shower. She is marrying a great Christian young man, whom she met at Freed-Hardeman. My wife and my mother-in-law hosted Saturday's bridal shower which meant I was busy helping set up a fellowship hall, transporting all sorts of items in my truck, and then helping clean-up after the shower -- I just thought I wanted to work in catering! Truth be known, I am privileged be a part of such a wonder family (I am speaking of my in-laws), and glad to help with all the events. Honestly, I really do like all the food prep, set-up, clean-up, and eating whatever cake is left.

Sunday was a good day. I did not preach this weekend; we had a visiting missionary at Parrish. Royce Frederick from India Missions and International Gospel Teacher was with us. He presented a great report on his work for Bible class, presented a video of the work Sunday evening, and preached a lesson on "Why I Believe That Jesus is the Christ" during our worship Sunday morning. The work he and others are doing in India is commendable, I am glad our congregation has a small part in their work. Since I was not speaking, I led the congregation in singing, they always sing so well with such great heart. I wish each of you could be here.

We also had a fellowship meal -- the ladies (and men) who prepare food always go all out to make our dinners special. After evening services the elders, myself, and a couple of other church leaders had an intimate meal and fellowship with the Fredericks and the Crossleys who were also with them, at one of our elder's homes. Great hospitality.

I guess this Monday, I am looking back at a good week and looking ahead to another one.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Weekend Reading

Here a few Blogs and Articles I found interesting this week. You might want to read them over the weekend. Enjoy and keep reading.

  • John Brown (seriously) reminds us to Taking it Seriously. Many of us may use humor too frequently, but maturity teaches us that there is a time to laugh and a time to be serious.
  • Chris Brady ponders about Twitter Worship . The title alone was enough to grab my attention.

What good things have you read this week?

Top Signs You Are Not Reading Your Bible Enough

This list developed from a group of friends on Twitter and a post from House to House Heart to Heart ( ). There were many more posted, but I limited this blog to twenty. I tried to give credit to those who sent them in.

20. You think Tim LaHeye and Jerry B. Jenkins wrote Revelation. (joeysparks)

19. The Bible you recieved at High School Graduation 5 years ago still has pages stuck together. (jrmatheny)

18. You find it under 6 months of Readers Digests and TV Guides. (scottmccown)

17. The binding cracks and breaks when you open it. (jrmatheny)

16. The Preacher calls out Hezekiah 3:6 for his text and you look for it among the minor prophets. (scottmccown)

15. You think, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is in Proverbs. (GallagherPreach)

14. You think Mel Gibson wrote a Gospel called the "Passion of Christ." (GallagherPreach)

13. You think Sleepy, Doc, and Grumpy were among the twelve apsotles. (TimothyArcher)

12. You complain to the publisher that Numbers should be spelled with a "3" not an "e". (faughfamily)

11. You think the Minor Prophets worked in the rock quarries (or were not good enough for the Majors) (joeysparks)

10. The preacher announces the the sermon text is from Genesis and you check the table of contents. (HousetoHouseHTH)

9. You've heard of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and think they may have had a few hits in the 60's or 70's.

8. You are mad because you cannot find Charelton Heston in the table of contents or the concordance. (HousetoHouseHTH)

7. You think Numbers is a gambler's handbook. (jrmatheny)

6. You turn to Psalms and a WWII savings bond falls out. (HousetoHouseHTH)

5. You think Jezebel is a wonderful name for your baby daughter.(faughfamily)

4. You catch your preteen son reading Song of Solomon and you demand, "Who gave this to you?" (faughfamily)

3. You tell your children bedtime Bible story about King Ahab and a great whale. (scottmccown)

2. When asked who your favorite Old Testament character is you answer, "Hercules." (HousetoHouseHTH)

1. You bet on the outcome of the Battle of Jericho and lose. (joeysparks)

Do you have any to add? Keep it going and keep reading your Bible!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taxing Thoughts

A few years ago, I came across a simplified tax form that was similar to the following:

1. What did you make this year ____________________________
2. Enter amount on line 1. ____________________________
3. Enter amount on line 2, this is the tax you owe _________________

This is how many of us feel each year. But I have said what I will about taxes and you can guess my feelings toward the current tax code. What I really want us to think about today is what we give to God. I am teaching a class concerning how church leadership uses what we contribute in cash or check, yet while I study this topic I am reminded that we are to give so much more to God that what is in our wallets. I categorize what we owe God into three areas:

1) Finances. This is the easiest and most talked about area of our giving. We cannot ignore the simple fact that God's business on earth requires money. It takes a fiscal budget to succeed in evangelism, to be benevolent, and to edify the church.

2) Abilities. We are to use our gifts to minister to each other and to God (1 Pet 4:10). How are we using our talents for God/

3) Time. We are blessed each day with a merciful new morning (Lam 3:22-23). I need to use the opportunities that I have to serve God and to lead others toward Him through Christ (Col 4:5; Eph 5;15-17).

Take the first letter of each of these points (Finances, Ability, Time) and you have FAT. I don't know about you, but I am willing to lose some FAT for the Lord.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The High Road

Ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road and I get to Scotland before ye . . .

That ancient song ran through my mind this morning as my son and I walked to school. There were a couple of places where the rain over the last week had created puddles on the sidewalk -- right in our path. Most were easily avoidable, a simple step to the right or left allowed your foot to find dry ground. The last puddle however took up the sidewalk, was too large to step over, and the only way around was to circle through the grass or to step up on the curb next to the highway. My son was in jeans and cross-trainers and took to the grass, I had on business attire (funeral this afternoon) complete with dress shoes and light brown dress slacks -- no puddle or wet grass for me -- I took to the curb and tried to keep balance so as not to fall into the puddle on either side (not to mention the traffic on the highway). I started singing the song as soon as we cleared the puddle, much to my son's distaste and my singing garnered a look of "Dad, you are embarrassing me, again!"

I hear people talk about "taking the high road" in situations of conflict. If taking the "high road" means considering the feelings and point of view of the other party, and trying not to injure them then that is what scripture recommends. Paul says in Philippians 2:3-7, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." (ESV).

In today's world of misguided "looking out for self" and misunderstanding of "respect," Paul's statement seems weak. But it is not a weak man who considers others, but the strong meek man who practices self-control.

Will you like Jesus, take the High Road?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Find Your Role Model

This little test will help you determine who you should follow in your life. You may or may not be surprised by the answer. Try this without looking at the possible role models listed below.

1) Pick your favorite number between 1 and 9
2) Multiply it by 3, then…
3) Add 3, and then multiply again by 3.
4) You should get a 2 or 3 digit number...
5) Add the digits together (down to one digit).

Find who would should emulate below:

Now with that number, see who your ROLE MODEL is from the list below:
1. Einstein
2. Nelson Mandela
3. Abraham Lincoln
4. Helen Keller
5. Bill Gates
6. Gandhi
7. Barack Obama
8. Thomas Edison
9. Jesus of Nazareth - the Christ
10. Oprah Winfrey

Are you surprised. Jesus is the answer to each and every person's life. He is the one who left us an example we should follow. The Apostle Paul encouraged others to follow him as he followed Christ.

Who are you following?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Successfully Raising Children

"Behold children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!"
Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)

"Like arrows in the hands of a warrior." What a great statement! A well-skilled archer has effective aim. We have a few avid bow hunters in our Church family, I try, but others put me to shame. They practice, study methods, upgrade equipment, and are able to be on target. Me not so much. I will get out one day before the season starts, dust off my bow, find all my arrows and take a few shots. No wonder my freezer stays empty. I neglect four basic rules of archery:
1) The Direction I point the arrow is important,
2) The Strength of the pull has effect,
3) Properly Timing the Release is valuable, and
4) Accuracy in Aiming is vital.

Apply these to raising children and you understand more about what the Psalmist has in mind.
1) What Direction am I pointing my children in?
2) What Influence (Pull) am I giving them with my lifestyle?
3) Do I let go (Release) them into situations (or expose them to certain things of the world) before they are ready? Or am I hanging on too long?
4) What are my goals (where am I Aiming) for me and my children?

Paul tells fathers (and mothers by default), " . . . do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Eph 6:4)

Here are a list of Parental Rules to Model and to Teach so we can be skilled archers.
1) Put purity above pleasure.
2) Place others before yourself.
3) Be more industrious and less lazy.
4) As an adult be more mature and less childish.
5) Demonstrate service over power.
6) Be Christ-like.

** in the photo Scott McCown with younger brother Charles in front, older brother: Doug McCown holding cousin Michelle, cousin Michael McCown. Taken in Chesapeake, Ohio circa 1976 -77.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Happy State

According to ABC news this morning, we now know what state is the happiest state in the USA. This happiness index evaluates employment rates, mortgage foreclosures, and citizen surveys. Nebraska, a conservative mostly rural state in the Midwest ranks as the happiest; Florida and California rank as the least happy. I searched Google, but could not find where Alabama ranked on the list, I would suppose we would be somewhere in the middle overall. But Alabama is not my home. I live here, but my citizenship is elsewhere -- Phil 3:20, "But our citizenship is in heaven . . ." If you, like me are 'in Christ,' then you have a completely different place of residence (cf. Gal 3:26-27).

Being a resident of heaven, affords us the honor of truly residing in the happiest, most content, state of all; the state of being blessed in Christ. Paul writes, " . . . I have learned in whatsoever state I in to be content . . . I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." (Phil 4:11-13). So whether you live in Nebraska, Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Florida, California or any other state or country -- you can be happy in Christ.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tuesday's To Tweet or Flutter

I saw this on Monday and thought all of you Twits like me would like this idea.

It reminded me of how we as people always want the next best thing. Is that what John had in mind when he tells us not to love the world nor the things in the world, since all that is in the world is the lust of the eyes, flesh, and pride of life? MMMMMMM?!

Important Do Not Delete

This is NOT a SCAM -- Read to the END!

I just found out about a young boy in Georgia who has been diagnosed with a rare disease. I know about him because my cousin's wife's second cousin's daughter goes to school where this little boy's uncle's brother coaches P.E. in Florida. This boy's family does not have insurance, his parents are both unemployed due to layoffs resulting from the down-turn of our economy. A special arrangement with Amory Hospital, the Pediatric Disease Foundation, the Pediatric Doctor's Fellowship, and GoFigure ISP will pay for all his treatment. Here is how this works, if enough people get this message and forward it to enough friends a special tracking system developed by IT specialist at GoFigure ISP will keep track of the numbers, and a matching grant trust set up by the above groups will give one dollar toward the family's expenses for everyone who receives this message. When you do forward this message, you will automatically be entered into a drawing for an all expense paid trip to Orlando compliments of the cooperation of Mikey Moose and MicroTosh Computers.

I hope by now you know that this is a hoax, if not maybe the 100 people you sent this to have. I made the entire message up, but it does sound like a lot of emails people send me. You know the type; the O'Hare's are at it again, a virus is coming attached to email, rapists are stalking the malls looking for women in khaki skirts who care about children, and Bill Gates will send you money if you forward this because you love Jesus.

When the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, computers and email were a long way into the future, so God did not specifically mention them. God did however deal with our nature as people. There is something within us that thrives on passing along news -- good news, bad news, warnings, and blessings. Jesus, knowing our tendencies, said, "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" Matt 12:36-37. I know that this is specifically about spoken words, but could not this passage just as well say, "But I say to you that for every idle word men may transmit, they will give an account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your emails you will be justified and by your texting you will be condemned."?

Here is the point, We are to manage our words and our time wisely, we are to use our words and time to build people up. Paul writes, 'Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers . . . Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you will all malice" Eph 4:29-31.

The telephone replaced the back fence as the way to communicate rumors. Emails and social networking is replacing the telephone as the means of spreading gossip. Paul warns about being a busybody and gossip in 1 Tim 5:13.

In our rush to pass on news, whether in verbal space or cyberspace, we are becoming guilty of gossip and evil speaking. We must stop. Here are some email and conversational guidelines:
1. Tell only what you know firsthand.
2. The only person you are qualified to talk about is you.
3. If what you say or type does not benefit the reader (or the written about) do not send it.
4. If it was forwarded to you and many others before you - delete it and stop the chain.
5. If it sounds like it might be true check it out before you send (spread) it.
6. Send this to those who always forward to you :-) .

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Church History

Douglas Adams quotes to his readers from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe’s entry on Galactic Civilizations. According to the Guide civilization pass through three stages before their demise. The stages are: Survival, Inquiry, and Sophistication otherwise known as How, Why, and Where. Adams explains it in terms similar to this: Survival - “How are we going to get something to eat?” Inquiry – “Why do we need to eat?” Sophistication – “Where would you like to go out to eat?” Adams may be on to something.

Our society grows more and more sophisticated. We no longer worry if we are going to eat, nor do we care why we eat, our concern is what and where are we going to eat. We have so much, that we never need go hungry; so many choices that we cannot find satisfaction. We grow ungrateful and less dependant upon God. We look more and more to selfishly defend our egos and feed our swelling midriffs.

Can the Church go through these stages of survival, inquiry, and sophistication? At one point the Church was struggling to survive. Persecution seemed to be getting the upper-hand, yet through Providence, the Church survived. Persecution slowed to a near halt. With realized survival the Church began to ask questions of “why.” “Why did Jesus have to die? Why do we worship the way we do? Why do we have elders over each congregation? Why can one elder not preside over a city, state, national, or universal church system? Why will some not follow the Church’s mandates?” Eventually the church flirted with the world growing into a sophisticated entity with absolute power. She stopped asking question of survival and inquiry and began solely to feed her growing waistline. The selling of Indulgences, accommodating Pagan worship styles, and the corrupt land grabbing of millennium past demonstrate this developmental stage.

Reformation attempted to change the established church to what men and women read in scripture. As reformation ideas grew common, persecution from the established church followed. These reformers asked, “How are we going to survive?” They did survive and began asking questions of “why.” “Why do these other reformers not agree with me?” These groups became established sects that began shifting to sophistication, establishing creeds and systematic doctrines.

Coexisting with these reformation groups were groups and individuals with a mindset of Restoration, longing for a return to the teachings of the New Testament. Restoration existed in Europe as early as the 1100-1200’s A.D. (some suggest even earlier: Traces of the Kingdom) and in America in the 1700 – 1800’s A.D. Early restorers faced persecution from the established churches and sects. They too must have wondered, “How can we survive?”

Those of us that are of the restoration mindset must continue to survive. We can and should ask questions of “why.” But we must ever fight to avoid becoming sophisticated, growing fat and lazy by only feeding ourselves. We must continue restoration in the lives of those outside of Christ. We must reconcile them to God through Christ (2 Cor 5:17-21). We cannot allow sophisticated creeds to develop, we must remain vigilant and diligent to demonstrate ourselves approved of God (2 Tim 2:15). We must fight faithfully, stick to the course, and finish the race (2 Tim 4:7-8). The day will come when we will rest from our efforts (Rev 14:13), but that Day is yet to come. For now we struggle against principalities and powers (Eph 6:12) for our survival.