Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday Eve in Parrish

Sunday night Parrish held our monthly singing night. Every last Sunday of the month we devote to singing and short devotional thought from one of our men. What a great night. At one point I stood up and asked for all the young boys who wanted to help me lead a song stand up with me. Two young school age boys came up to the front and I went to get a third. The third one is Rashad Jaxson Hussain, he is less than a year old, but he let me hold him and he grinned along as the other three of us lead the congregation in "Jesus Loves Me." It was a special moment.

I heard someone say that you can evaluate a congregation's theology by the doctrine taught in the songs that they sing. I took notes writing down every song we sang Sunday night. Each man who stood up to lead chose his own song (or song the one suggested by his wife). Here are the songs in order:

We Shall Assemble on the Mountain
Worthy Art Thou
Precious Lord
Only in Thee
At Calvary
Jesus Loves Me
A Wonderful Savior is Jesus My Lord
Leaning on the Everlasting Arm
As the Life of a Flower
Beyond this Land of Parting, Losing, and Leaving
Blue Skies and Rainbows (A Third Grade student lead this one)
I Have Found a Friend in Jesus
(The next five songs were requested by our ladies and older men)
I Believe in the One They call Jesus
Ring Out the Message
Do You Know My Jesus?
Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Kneel at the Cross
You Are the Words and the Music

Saturday, June 27, 2009

VBS 2010

Coming Soon to Parrish Church of Christ.

There you have it -- VBS 2010 -- Journey into Egypt. "Alabama Scott" (a cousin of Indiana Jones) was present Thursday night to make the announcement. "Bama," as he is called, promised to send a video as soon as the camera crew, directors, location finders, production team, and editors get busy. For now you will have to wait. But a video COMING SOON to a YouTube outlet near you! (this film has not yet been rated)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Our Fifth Marvelous Hero!

What a great VBS. Attendance was good all week. Thanks to all who had a part in VBS! Without our teachers, cooks, registrars, helpers, decorators, counters, and on and on and on and on, VBS could not happen! THANK YOU!

Our last hero is the apostle Paul. We called Paul a weak hero. Paul writes of some of his weaknesses in 2 Cor 11:23-39, "Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one--I am talking like a madman--with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?" All his suffering plus his physical limitations (2 Cor 12:7?) could have caused him to make excuses, but he knew he was strong because of God in Christ (Phil 4:13).

Paul also calls himself the least of the apostles and the chiefest of sinners. He humbly admits to weakness as a sinner who can only rely on the strength that comes from God.

The story is told of a young boy who lost his left arm in a rural farm accident. His parents enrolled him in a Judo class hoping he could relearn some confidence. The instructor taught him what he could and what a boy with one arm could learn. He taught him one particular throw and had the boy practice it over and over until he perfected it. The story goes on to reveal the boy became champion at the next tournament, defeating opponents who had trained for years. When he asked why with one move he could defeat all the more experienced martial artists his instructor replied -- "your one move can only be defended by grabbing the left arm." The boys weakness became a strength when he listened to and obeyed his master. Hhmmm?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fourth Marvelous Hero - Esther

166 at VBS last night! We have had four great nights of VBS and I am looking forward to tonight as we wrap up VBS 2009 and announce our theme for VBS 2010. Now on to today's hero . . .

Esther. Esther was a young Hebrew girl raised by her cousin in exile. Eventually, Artaxerxes, King of Persia is in need of a new queen. He decides to launch a year-long competition to select his new queen. Esther is eventually chosen to be that queen.

Yet, this is not the answer to her people's plight. There is an enemy at the gate or to be more specific, the enemy is at the king's side -- Haman by name. Haman despises the Jews, specifically because Mordecai (Esther's cousin) would not bow to him.

Haman, in retribution, convinces Artaxerxes to declare the elimination of the Jews. Mordecai learns of the plan and eventually convinces Esther to go before the king at her own great peril and speak for her people. She does and after a couple of dinner parties, tells the king her life and the life of her people is in danger because of Haman. The king turns on Haman and God through Esther saves his people.

There is a very interesting statement in Esther 4:13-14. Here Mordecai sends word to Esther concerning her hesitation to go before the king. "Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (ESV). This is a statement of God's ways and means.

Joey Sparks spoke the adults about Esther and in a very eloquent way discussed our tendency to ascribe things to God and His plan for us that God may not be specifically concerned about. Notice what Mordecai says to Esther " . . . if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place . . ." Mordecai was not 100% sure Esther was the one, but he knew she had to try. Sometimes we say or think, "this is God's plan." You may be right or you may not be. The lesson is this: God's plan is for me to always do what is right and to serve Him in my life, whatever I might do and where ever I might be.

What are your reactions to Esther? Mordecai? Haman?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Third Marvelous Hero - Gideon

163 people attended VBS last night. This is our biggest VBS crowd this year. We are trying to break 175 tonight -- come and join us.

This morning I am thrilled to report that at the battle for the fertile valley, Gideon's army defeated the Midianites saving Israel from 7 years of oppression.

For seven long years the army of Midian and the armies of the east would march through the valley, destroying crops and killing livestock. So devastating were the raids that them people of Ephraim of Israel would take to the hills and hide in caves while the enemy destroyed their livelihood. They felt powerless and cried out to God.

God answered by sending a warrior judge named Gideon. Gideon gathers 32,000 men of war to go against Midian. God is not impressed. God does not what Gideon and Israel to think their show of force has anything to do with victory. Pride had previously and repeatedly led Israel to sin and not trust God. This is why they suffered their current crisis. God tells Gideon to release from duty all who are afraid to go to war. 22,000 desert and go home. 22,000 realize that Midian is a strong foe and do not want to risk their lives for the good of the nation. Gideon and God survey the remaining force of 10,000.

Too many for God. He has Gideon take them to the brook to drink. Those that put their faces in the water like an animal are sent home. Those that apparently cup their hands and pull a drink to their mouth are told to stay. 9,700 go home, leaving Gideon and army of 300. (I heard one preacher suggest that these were 300 hundred who had something to prove, they did not leave when they had the chance, and they were not very bright -- they thought they could hold water in their hands.) I am not sure why God chose this particular 300, but He did.

The battle plan is simple. Three groups of 100 divide and take sides around the enemy camp. Each carries a horn, an empty pitcher, and a torch. At Gideon's command each is to break the pitcher, blow the horn, shout "The sword of the Lord and Gideon!" while revealing their torches.

This maneuver confuses the enemy who must think they are surrounded. When they flee the scene the men of Ephraim come down from their hiding in the hills and help in the battle. Israel is again victorious.

What are the lessons:
1. When I am on God's side I am not alone, because God is with me.
2. When a few stand up for God, others will follow their example to fight the foe.

What are some other lessons from Gideon?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

VBS Marvelous Hero 2

Night two of VBS is behind us, and what a great night it was. 153 children, teens, and adults attended last night's classes. Thanks again to all who help make this week great.

Today's featured story is about a young boy who acted heroically. His name is David and he brought down a literal giant of an enemy. The battle proven Israelites along with their taller than average king let fear stop them from fighting Goliath and the Philistines. Fear caused them to run away and hide. Fear caused them to accost one who stood alone saying they could defeat Goliath. Fear led Israel to approach the battle without God.

David however was different. David had FAITH. This faith in God gave him courage to go to battle with Goliath. This faith led him to run to meet the enemy. This faith led to victory because he wen to battle with God.

Lesson 1: Approach the giants in your life not fearfully, but with Faith that the battle is the Lord's.


* The statues of David and Goliath are the creation of teacher's Rick & Gina Wade.

Monday, June 22, 2009

VBS Is Off to a Great Start.

150 children and adults attended VBS last night. Last night the Adult class, teen class, along with Cradle Role, the 2-3 year old class, and one other class studied about the Hero Joshua and the challenge he faced at Jericho Wall. In the picture, the 5th and 6th grade students stay in the "safety" of the walls of Jericho as their teacher, Phyllis Vickery, tells them about the nomadic Israelites who were victorious over Sihon and Og, and now made their way to Jericho. Could Jericho's walls once again provide protection in a military onslaught? This time Jericho was not ready to defend against such an "attack." What could those tent dwellers be thinking, coming once each day and marching around their city wall in silence before returning to camp? By day seven, I am certain Jericho was on the verge of laughter as the Israelites marched around the seventh time that day. But things changed when Israel shouted and the Levites sounded the trumpets! Without the aid of battering rams, catapults, or any other common elements of war, the wall of Jericho came apart. God had promised Joshua and Israel if they followed His way, Jericho would be theirs. Israel obeyed and God came through.

What are lessons we can learn from this Marvelous Hero named Joshua? I'll start with one, you add more:
1) Follow God's way, even if His way does not seem the way people would normally do things.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Guest Blogger asks a serious question

Today's blog is an inquiry from my older brother, Doug McCown, who serves as an elder in the congregation were he attends. I'll add my answer and his to below the question and let you add yours as comments.

Please think about your worship to God...what things distract you? Discuss what you do to put these distractions aside as you worship. Also, discuss what you can do to help others keep their focus on God.

Please keep these comments focused on the actions and not on any particular person. (i.e. Don't say, "Doug never buttons his top button when he wears a tie, so it gets crooked." instead say, "crooked ties and unbuttoned top buttons really distract me from worship.) Please feel free to tag others when you start responses. As you read each of the responses - think what you do to distract others and how you can overcome that.

Doug's answer: One of the most distracting things to me is "bathroom calls or water breaks" during a short one-hour service. Obviously, I can easily dismiss these issues with children under 5 and elderly with incontinence - but others distract me. It is especially true when I can predict the exact time in worship that this will occur. What do I do to prevent this from being a distraction??? I try to avert my eyes, but I have already been distracted. I try not to think about it - and it often works and allows me to refocus.

Scott's answer:
1. Internal distractions of my thoughts. These may concern things I think I need to get done or things I forgot to do. As a preaching minister, sometimes I am distracted toward what I am about to say when I should be focused on the song, prayer, sacrifice of Christ, etc. To get re-focused requires me to "pinch" myself internally and concentrate ore on what is going on at that moment in worship

2. External distractions for me tend to be adults and older children who should have better control, getting up too frequently to refresh or relieve themselves. Again as a preacher, this is not fair to me, I cannot leave for the restroom during my own sermon ;-).

Well what about you?

Vacation Bible School

Consider this your invitation to Vacation Bible School at Parrish Church of Christ. Our VBS begins Sunday, June 21 and runs through Thursday, June 25 from 6:30 - 8:00 each evening. This year our over-all theme is MARVELous Heroes. Using this theme we will study events from the lives of five Biblical Heroes. Here is our list: 1) Joshua the Conqueror, 2) David the Giant Slayer, 3) Gideon and a Small Army, 4) Esther Queen of Heroes, and 5) Paul the Weak Hero. John writes, "For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith." (1 Jn 5:4 - ESV).

Along with classes for our children from Cradle Roll through Teens, we also have adult classes with visiting teachers each night. In order from Sunday through Thursday we have the following visiting teachers: Rob Gurganus from Dovertown, Russ Crosswhite from Fulton, MS, Kerry Richardson from Northport, Joey Sparks from Midway, and Mel Futrell from Shades Mountain. I am looking forward to the messages they bring.

Each evening will begin with a period of singing -- the children and adults love this part of VBS, then we dismiss to our classes where the students will step back into time as they "experience" these stories coming to life. Rumor has it that each student will get a opportunity to test their aim with a sling to bring down a NINE FOOT giant! After classes we reassemble for more singing and a review of the evenings lessons.

This year there is a special treat. We are teaching a new song. A song NO ONE else has ever used at their VBS. A song that Rob Gurganus and I wrote together (Rob did most of it). You will have to be here to learn it.

Come learn to be a Hero with us!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top Ten Verses About Fatherhood

From the home office in Oakman, Alabama we have a top ten list of Bible verses concerning fathers, and a comment or two as to how we can learn from them . . .

10. Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. (Pro 17:6) I know grown children whose fathers were not the best of men, but still love their "Daddy." There may be something to that old cliche'; "Blood is thicker than water."

9. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. (Pro 23:24) As the father of a young man who currently seems to have his head on straight, I will amen this. When we raise young men and women who are responsible adults how can our hearts not swell at their successes.

8. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. (Heb 12:9a). The wise man wrote in Proverbs that sparing discipline (the rod) spoils the child. As fathers we must discipline our children so that they will learn to be righteous, responsible adults.

7. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4) When we discipline, remember that there is a fine line between correction and abuse. Make certain your children understand the purpose of each punishment. One friend calls his discipline plan, "MLE" - Meaningful Learning Experiences.

6. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mk 9:24) To be a good father, we must be faithful to our heavenly Father. Take time to reflect on and maybe even pray the plea of the father in Mark 9.

5. For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' (Mat 15:4). This one is to remind not only children to honor their parents but to remind those of us who are fathers to live in a way to make honoring you easy for your children. Do not teach one thing and live the opposite. Also remember that you are a son of your parents, model the honor you want from your children.

4. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? (Mat 19:5) There comes a time to leave home. Raise your children to leave, and if you are an adult still living at home, or married and still trying to "cling" to your parents. Let go. You have a family of your own to care for. Do not neglect your parents, but do not neglect your wife and children either.

3. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Mat 10:37) Now I really start sounding like a preacher. Love your parents, but love God more.

2. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Mat 6:8) You and I as fathers are imperfect. Sometimes there are things that my son wants or needs that I am unaware of. Not God! He knows our needs and longs to bless us in fulfilling them.

1. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Lk 6:36) This is my goal. Make it yours as well. Be the kind of father to your children that God is to you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Top Ten Times to Pray

Last night for our second lesson in our Summer Series on Building Together with God, Bro. James Wyers from the Winfield congregation spoke to us about how Prayer plays a part in our building with God. During his message he ran through a list of "when to pray" his list had 12 appropriate "whens." I was derelict in taking notes, so I came up with my own Top Ten Times to Pray.

10. In the Morning - Mk 1:35, Jesus did, so should I.
9. In the Evening - Mk 6:46-47.
8. When alone - Lk 5:16.
7. All night - Lk 6:12.
6. When mourning over sin - Jas 5:16.
5. When mourning over death - Jn 11:41-42.
4. When dealing with suffering - Mt 26:36ff
3. When facing temptation - Lk 11:4.
2. When filled with joy - Phlp 1:3-4.
And the number 1 time to pray . . . .

1. All the time without ceasing - 1 Thess 2:13, 5:17.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Family that Fishes Together . . .

I am grateful to be back home after a quick trip to Destin, FL (The Destin Log pic) for a long overdue deep sea fishing trip. My son (Andrew - almost 12) and I took off Sunday evening after worship and drove about five hours to my brother's house in Niceville, FL. There we tried to settle down to sleep so we could get up before the sun to go fishing in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the charter boat, "Perfect Shot." At 6:00am Captain Brady and First Mate Chris welcomed us aboard and we began our adventure. From the photo you can see the fruits of our labor - 21 Red Snapper (one under the "bag limit"), one Grouper, and one Cobia (a.k.a Ling). Obviously the fishing was fun.

For me one of the best parts of the whole three days was traveling with Andrew. His assignment from Amy was to keep me awake, and he did. We talked, laughed, listened to Classic Rock on the Radio, and enjoyed each other's company. He told me things about my Sunday night sermon that he saw in people he knew. My sermon was on the negative effects of divorce; he talked about his friends at school and their struggles with divorced and single parents. I think I heard a "thank you" for the relationship his Mom and I have. He is becoming quite the young man. I pray that I am a good example to him about what a father, husband, preacher, Christian, and man should be.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Wednesday night began our Summer Series at Parrish church of Christ. This summer our theme is Building Together with God. On June 3, my friend Jeremy Houck spoke about Building through Unity. During his outstanding lesson he pointed out that many think unity is total agreement with my opinions and doing what I want done. To illustrate he shared a favorite poem my Shel Silverstien:

I know a way to stay friends forever,
There's really nothing to it,
I tell you what to do,
And you do it.

That poem is touching and funny only because too many people think that way. My challenge for you and me is that we learn how not to be from Shel Silverstein and learn how to be from Paul, "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" Phil 2:3-4 ESV.

Have a great week end!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Lesson from Fifth Grade

This past weekend I was back in Pensacola, Florida for the funeral of my mom's only sister (my aunt). While there, I had the opportunity to see people who are a part of my past. One of those people is Mrs. Gulsby, my fifth grade teacher at Escambia Christian School. Mrs. Gulsby was everything a fifth grade teacher should be -- TOUGH! She expected a lot from those 10 year old students in her charge. The first week of school she tested us on our multiplication facts. When she realized that some of us were derelict over the summer and did not practice our math skills, she marched down to the fourth grade teacher and borrowed the 45rpm records that had multiplication songs on them. The mighty fifth grade had to sing those "baby fourth grade" songs every morning until every student could pass a multiplication facts test.

There is one event from her class that was not part of any lesson plan that turns out to be a pivotal event in my understanding of freedom. If you remember fourth and fifth grade, you may recall that students begin to grasp the concept of the United States being a "free country." Students express this concept in many ways. Sally pushes her way past Billy to get to the fountain and emphatically states over his protests, that "it's a free country, I can cut if I want too." Back to Mrs. Gulsby's lesson. Sam (not his real name) came back from the boy's room complaining with small tears in his eyes that John (not his real name) had hit him in the arm and wouldn't apologize. When John came into the room, Mrs. Gulsby asked if he had hit Sam. John replied, "It was an accident! I was just swinging my arm and I accidentally hit him!" Mrs. Guslby insisted that he apologize anyway. John protested, "It's a free country, I can swing my arm if I want to, why should I apologize?"

Mrs. Gulsby then said something so profound that many in our nation today need to hear her words of wisdom. If we as individuals, minority groups, majority groups, activists, and lobbyists would apply her words . . . well our nation just might be a better place.

Her wise counsel was this, "John, your freedom to swing your arm ended where Sam's shoulder began! Now go say you are sorry."

Thank you Mrs. Gulsby. Your words provided counsel on many occasions. Your words help me to apply the words of an even greater teacher who once said, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them" Matt 7:12.