Monday, August 31, 2009

Recruiting Wars!

The following blog entry was the devotional thought presented by one of our young dads at Parrish Church of Christ; Jeremy Graves. Here is his message:

Recruiting Wars

It is that time of year again - football. Most of you know that I love football. It is not just the game that I love, but I enjoy what leads up to the game. What I enjoy most about the off-season is recruiting. Recruiting is basically a battle between different schools for the best athletes in the country and which school will end up signing these best players for their team.

Driving in from Georgia the other day, I began thinking about how there is a "spiritual recruiting battle" going on everyday between Satan and the Lord. Both of them want us on their team, and just like the athletes we have to choose which "coach" and "team" we want to play for.

In Matthew 4:1-11 we read about the devil tempting Jesus, verses 8-10 reads, "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Jesus reminds us to follow God alone. A few verses later, Jesus tells the disciples to follow Him and he will make them fishers of men. You might say they became recruiters for the Lord's team.

Yes, there is an ongoing everyday battle between the Lord's team and Satan's team as to who will win over our souls. Which side should you choose? It is ultimately your decisions, but don't get caught up in the recruiting war looking at temporary offers, commit yourself to the Lord's team and I guarantee you will be on the winning team (1 Cor 15:57).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thoughts on the Second Mile

Matt 5:38-41, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

Important to for us to remember that before we can start a second mile, we have to finish the first. The first mile is our obligation, so the question is: Are we willingly going the first mile?

Consider three obligations of Mile One. 1) Forgiveness: In Matt 18:21-35 Jesus says we are to forgive our brother seventy times seven times. Some of us stop way short of 490. 2) Love: Jesus says the world can recognize His followers by their unconditional love – John 13:35. I wonder how many of us struggle to love our brethren the way God commands, or do we truly love our neighbor as ourselves? 3) Service: God demands our service in at least four areas: Service to God – Eph 2:10; service to the other Christians (the Church) – Eph 5:21; service to our family – Col 3:18-21; and service to our employer – Col 3:22-25.

Jesus tells an interesting parable in Luke 17:7-10, “"Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” If we do only what is required, what have we done? Only what we had too. If we only do what is required we only went one mile and have not even begun Second Mile Service.

To go the Second Mile is to go beyond my obligation. In these same three areas we can decide if we are going the second mile in: 1) Forgiveness: Am I willing to forgive even before I receive an apology? Do I go to them and provide an opportunity for them to ask for forgiveness? Can I forgive sacrificially like Jesus on the cross and Stephen as the Jews were stoning him? 2) Love: Will I love even those who HATE me? Will I demonstrate love for and to my enemies? Roman 5:6-11 teaches that Christ demonstrated love to us when we were a weak conquerable enemy. Will I like Jesus, love sacrificially. 3) Service: Serving those who can and will return the favor is easy. Am I willing to serve the lazy? To I in Christian patience serve one who is a taskmaster? Can I with a Christ-like heart serve one who is ungrateful? Will I go the second mile and serve sacrificially?

Are we truly going the Second Mile?

Scott

Monday, August 24, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

Every now and then preachers get opportunities to speak at other congregations. Many congregations in our area have "Summer Series" where they have visiting speakers each Wednesday night. I have had the opportunity to speak at a few of these each summer. Sometimes there are responses, other times just comments after the lesson. Recently, I received a card in the mail a few days later. I want to share what this sister in Christ wrote.

"Scott, Thank you for being a part of our summer series, I'm not sure I want to thank you for your lesson on 2nd Mile. The face I see in the mirror is not what God sees. I'm afraid He is very disappointed in my actions as His servant. But you are so right - we have to go the 1st mile before we can go beyond to the 2nd mile.

Love You, (name withheld)"

What stood out to me was this dear sister's honesty. I must confess, while developing the lesson on Going the Second Mile, that she references and even while preaching it, I was and am completely aware of my own short-comings in the area of Second Mile service.

How are you at going on to and through the second mile?

Scott

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stress Relief

To relieve your daily stress, follow these guidelines:

1. Place this chart on a flat surface, such as a wall or solid desk.
2. Place left hand on flat surface to the left of the chart.
3. Place right hand on flat surface to the right of the chart.
4. Follow the instructions in the circle.


Links to a Blog about Alcohol and Christians

today I want to simply give you links to follow. Joe Palmer wrote a series of lessons on Alcohol and the Christian. I encourage you to take a look.

The Sin of Drunkenness

Scriptures on Wine and Drunkenness

Can a Christian Drink?

Can I Support This Even if It is Not a Sin?

Does the Bible Forbid Drinking Alcohol?

Keep reading.

Scott

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Instructional Models

Yesterday we explored learning styles, today I want us to take that a step farther as we discuss Instructional Models. There are in my experience four basic models: 1) Large Group Instruction, 2) Small Group Instruction, 3) Individual (one on one) Instruction, and 4) Private (Self-Guided) Instruction.

Taking these models into the Church setting, here is where they fit in.

Large Group Instruction is the area that we excel in. We gather each Sunday and during our worship time one man stands before the entire congregation and presents a lesson. This basic format of this lesson is lecture. Some use visual illustrations, bullet filled computer projected outlines, or handouts to aid in learning. We use a similar format in large adult classes. We also have meetings, lectureships, and revivals that follow this pattern.

Small Group Instruction is a second area we emphasize. Each Sunday and then again midweek, many gather for Bible Classes. These classes are smaller groups divided by age and interest and the can include lecture, handouts, and participation that reaches all three learning styles. Some churches spread out into homes on Sunday evenings with the goal of creating a smaller environment for better learning.

Every preacher, elder, and Bible class teacher of my childhood, teen, and adult years encouraged us as students to spend time in Private Study at home. There are Biblical passages that encourage the same - 2 Tim 2:15, "Do your best (ESV), Study (KJV), Be diligent (NKJ) to present yourselves approved unto God. . ." And do not forget those in Berea who "searched the Scriptures daily." This is a vital part of our growth.

The instructional model I skipped is the model I think EVERY Christian should pay more attention to; Individual or One on One Instruction. Look at these passages: Titus 2:3ff, 2 Tim 2:2. Women are to teach younger women, Christians are to teach others who can teach others. This is the area where real teaching takes place. This can include dealing with morality issues (Gal 6:1), apprenticeships (think of Paul taking Titus and Timothy with him or Jesus and the inner circle), and this is the model that best suits evangelism (Ananias and Saul, Philip and the Ethiopian, etc).

My challenge for you and me is that we improve on our one to one teaching and encouraging.

Scott

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Do We Learn?

Education professionals divide learners into three basic learning styles.
1) Auditory Learners. These people learn from listening to lectures or presentations in class. They may take notes, but learn mostly from what they hear. You can give these people verbal directions to a destination and they remember those directions.

2) Visual Learners. This group learns from what they see. The will take copious notes of lectures so they can read them later. They like charts, graphs, and pictures to reinforce what they hear. When you give them directions, draw a map or have them draw it as you direct them.

3) Kinesthetic Learners. I know this group well. I am this type of learner. We like lab work, apprenticeships, etc. We learn best by doing. We might hear what you say, but we remember it so that we can try it out. You can give us directions and draw us a map, but what really helps us is getting in the car and driving. Get us there once and we know our way.

I know I over-simplified the descriptions of learning styles, but I think you understand each one a little better now. My reason for mentioning them is to generate some thought about how we as Church leaders reach each group. Much of what we do in a Church setting we gear toward Auditory learners (sermons, lecture classes, and so on). How do you try to reach the other two groups? What are methods do you find successful for the Visual Learner, for the Kinesthetic Learner? Where can we improve?

Scott

Monday, August 17, 2009

Giving our Best

How good is good enough? You know why I ask such a question. Many people in and outside of Christianity compare themselves with others using the "I'm as nice, moral, good, etc. as the next person" statement. Again, how good is good enough? Is 80% good, good enough? Is 90% good, good enough? What about 99.9%?

Most of us would agree that 99.9% is really good. But consider the following statistics. If 99.9% is good enough then:
1. The IRS could lose 2,000,000 documents and that would be alright.
2. 22,000 checks could be deducted from the wrong account each hour.
3. 30 passenger planes crashing each day in the US would be acceptable.

I don't know about you, but I am not satisfied with those figures. I wonder then if God is satisfied with 99.9% from us? The simple truth is 99.9% is not enough for God, unless I have an arbitrator (Job 9:33).

Paul tells us about an Arbitrator that is available for us. After describing his own inability to be 100% he writes in anguish, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" He immediately answers his own agony, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (Rom 7:24-25, ESV).

We still should strive to "Walk in the light" (1 Jn 1:7-9). We should do our best to live a life "worthy" of our "calling" (Eph 4:1). but walk knowing that if we are doing the best we can while covered by the blood of Christ, our short-comings are wiped away. "Thanks be to God!"

Scott

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Video Blog.

Decided to record video this morning. Hope you enjoy and learn.

video

Scott

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

iPods and iDols

This note is from my niece in Florida. She sent this message out on FaceBook. Melanie is a great young lady who takes after her Uncle in Alabama ;-) - Her dad is my brother.

I'm unsure if any of you found out that I ended up washing my iPod in the washing machine last week. I got it out before the next load went in.

I was a mess after that. Being in band its hard for me to not listen to music. So I complained to my dad saying, "Dad its impossible to live without my iPod" (don't take that literally).

He looked at me and said, "Melanie, do you think your iPod is an idol?"; it hit me right then, that even if we don't know it , some of our possessions can be IDOLs.

Please comment or write back about your opinion on idols.

Thanks , may God bless your day.



On a side note: Happy 20th Anniversary, Amy -- Thanks for saying, "yes"!
Scott

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cover Your Right Eye and . . .


Just something for your eyes to see and your heart to consider this morning. Pray that God will use you for His glory today!

Scott

Monday, August 10, 2009

Top Ten Keys to a Great Marriage



photo courtesy of http://www.danielhowellphoto.com
From the Home Office in Parrish, Alabama -- Top Ten Keys to a Great Marriage!

10. Communication - Eph 4:26-29
9. Loyalty to each other - Eph 5:31
8. Ability to Cope - Matt 10:16
7. A Sense of Humor - Prov 17:22
6. Understanding - 1 Pet 3:7
5. Humility - Phil 2:5; Eph 5:21
4. Faithfulness - Heb 13:4
3. Commitment to God - Matt 6:33
2. A Forgiving Heart - Eph 4:32
And the Number One Key to a Great Marriage . . . this is not a shocker . . .
1. LOVE - Jhn 13:15; Rom 12:10

Scott

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Six Step Evangelism

On the back leaf of my Bible there is a six step plan of evangelism. I wrote it down while taking notes on a sermon delivered by one of my mentors and instructors, the late Wendell Winkler. Here is what I wrote:

  1. Make a list of five prospects. Prospects can relatives, co-workers, friends, people you contact daily.
  2. Pray for them daily. Pray for their health, pray that the door of opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus with them will be opened and that you will recognize that open door.
  3. Underline the most receptive person on your prospect list.
  4. Set aside one evening a week to set-up and conduct studies.
  5. Approach the underlined prospect and study with them if they are willing.
  6. Add a new name to the list.
Give it a try!

Scott

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pasta and Pen-Pals

Just over a month ago our nephew, Daniel Howell, who preaches in Sweet Water, TN told us about Pasta and Pen-Pals. Here is how it works. Once a month volunteers get together at for a Pasta Dinner. After dinner, each person writes a letter to fellow Christians who are struggling with issues that are keeping them from attending worship. The letters are kind and encouraging, they should focus on helping the recipient know they are missed with the hope that they will return. Daniel and the Sweet Water congregation had good results from their first Pasta and Pen-Pals effort.

Since they had good results we thought we would do our own. I announced what we were planning on Sunday morning and evening. Last night 41 people including children came for fellowship and to write letters. The children, with help from some very patient adults, colored, addressed, and signed postcards. Other adults wrote letters and short notes. We had about 10 families on our list this month. And there were close to if not over 100 letters/cards written. That means that each family could receive up to 10 notes this week from their Spiritual family. Prayerfully, this will have a positive impact on them and they will make effort to return to worship.

A side benefit that I was not expecting, but should have, was that many who attended Pasta and Pen-Pals made statements about how much they needed what we did. I am looking forward to getting results, but I am also looking forward to next month.

Scott

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Up!


The original version of this came to my computer via email. I do not know who sat down to think through this, but I appreciate this observation about our American English language. If you appreciate the nuances of language you will enjoy this post on: How do non-natives ever learn all the nuances of American English?

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is "UP." It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends and we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers, and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning, but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets UP the earth. When it doesn't rain for a while, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so ... Time to hush UP, pull my chair UP to my desk, open UP my Bible and study.

But first, you might want to recall when the disciples witnessed Jesus' ascension into heaven - "And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Act 1:9-11 - ESV).

Keep looking UP to God; Send your prayers UP before Him; Keep UP your faithful service; and when He returns you will join UP with Him to be with Him always (1 Thess 4:13-18.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Lesson Learned

More years ago than I care to remember, I was in my first internship as a minister, during the summer of 1986 between my Freshman and Sophomore years at Faulkner. I was working with a church in Calhoun, GA and was gaining great experience. I made some good friends that summer I was only 19 and the youth group had 18 and 19 year old students participating. Admittedly I was more of a peer than a minister. One of the 19 year old students was Kevin, who introduced me to real Mexican food. Kevin and I took one morning to go visit with a younger teen who was struggling with family and life in general. On the way we passed a public lake. Kevin wanted to go fishing for half an hour or so. I did not mind being on a lake, Kevin had Georgia fishing license, I did not; I agreed to be the motor on a rented row boat. We stopped in the middle of the lake and talked as he wet a hook and drowned a few crickets. On the way back to shore, he was taking a turn at the oars. I picked up his rod and reel, feeling it in my hands, it had a nice weight and balance. Without bait on the hook, I thought it would be safe to cast -- just once. I put my arm back and gave it a quick toss and reeled in as quickly as I could.

What I did not see, was the Game Warden sitting in his truck watching the lake. When we came to shore, he asked to see our license. That was an expensive $150 lesson.

Here is what I learned.
1. My desires led to a mistake. "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." (Jas 1:13-15).

2. Avoiding situations that provide temptation to sin (break the law) is a great way to avoid sinning.

I pray you can learn from my mistake.

Scott