Everything Fails

Everything Fails

© B Scott McCown, May 5, 2017

Words, images, paintings,

Words fail me.

My words are too weak,

To describe how I love You,

And how Your presence I seek.

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No image does justice;

No painting will suffice,

To capture Your glory

Any attempt is imprecise.

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Your glory is too mighty.

Your radiance is too great.

Your majesty too holy,

Greater than all that we might create.

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All that I can ever say or do

Will ever be at a loss

Nothing can be enough

To thank You for the Cross.

A Prayer

Nehemiah 1-5-10Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States.  I beg you to take time to pray during the day today. In fact, take that time right now. I’ll give you a moment of silence . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dear God and Father,

This day many in our nation will pause to spend time in prayer for the United States. As I join them, I think of much we have to be grateful for. We still live in a country of freedoms. We still have liberty to worship You, to approach You as individuals, and to assemble in churches to praise You, as we encourage each other, and as we learn from Your Word. We can still read Your Word privately in public places. We can still individually bow our heads to You in prayer in restaurants, in homes, and in schools. We pray that these freedoms continue. Please defeat those that would remove these liberties.

As I consider the moral climate of our nation, I am saddened by our crimes against each other and our crimes against You. We are living for self and for sin. We are neglecting the poor. We are celebrating sinners and disparaging saints. We are looking to academia, entertainers, athletes, media, and politicians to guide our morals instead of learning from You. Please forgive us. Forgive me for the part I have played in this rebellion, whether by my inaction, my silence, or my involvement.

When I look at the nations around us, I grow fearful. ISIS threatens to destroy Christian people. Sharia Law violates human rights and Your morals. Nations like North Korea are flexing the muscles of militarism and nationalism which are often catalysts to war. Please be with our leaders and the leaders of our allies that we can find a way to prevent war. Please help those with influence with and in North Korea and other countries to calm the atmosphere that seems to be in turmoil. Please help us to avoid the conflicts that will cost so much more than money.

Help Your people, the Church, to be salt and light in our neighborhoods, communities, towns, cities, counties, states, and nation. Help us to make the most of the opportunities we have to spread Your Love through the Gospel,

In Jesus name,

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Take time to read Nehemiah’s prayer given below. Use it as a spring board to your own prayer today.

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.

“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth,[a] I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’

10 “The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants.

(Neh 1:5-10 NLT – New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.)

What You Can Do Today

There is no day likeTODAY!Just a quick few thought for today about today and what you can do today.

  • Today, tell your wife or husband you love them.
  • Today, tell your children you appreciate them.
  • Today, tell your parents thanks.
  • Today, go out of your way to be nice to someone.
  • Today, smile at a stranger and tell them, “Good Morning (afternoon or evening).”
  • Today, take time to read from a good book.
  • Today, take time to read from THE GOOD BOOK.
  • Today, take time to talk to God in prayer, tell Him about your life.
  • Today, decide to live for God.
  • Today, make the most of your day as long as it is called TODAY.

There is no day like today.

-Scott

That’s Commitment

CommitmentIn a day when people switch everything as quickly as they change socks; When we live in a time when nothing seems to last and people apparently cannot or do not commit to much; I watched a special about an individual that understood commitment.

Just this morning on the way to the study, the discussion on the radio was why more and more modern Christians claim a deep love for the Lord Jesus Christ, but do not love nor regularly attend church of any sort. Contemporary Christians claim a commitment to Christ, but their lack of participation in His body and the inconsistent lifestyle of many calls that commitment into question.

We need to learn from Lt. Hiroo Onoda.

We need to learn from Lt. Hiroo Onoda. In December of 1944, Onoda received the command to disrupt the enemy on Lubang Island in the Philippines. His commander instructed him to refuse surrender, never give up the fight, and to not take his own life. Ten months later, Japan surrendered to the United States. Word of the surrender never reached Lt. Onoda. Even when he found leaflets dropped by U.S. planes announcing the end of the war and encouraging Japanese Soldiers to surrender their arms and positions, he refused. He considered this announcement to be enemy propaganda and stayed at his post.

As time went on, he would steal rice, vegetables, and occasional livestock from local homes and farms.  Victims would report the losses, but no one could identify the thief. Some did report seeing a dark figure in the woods and forest, but no search turned up any hard evidence. Rumors of a ghost, monster, or something supernatural began to surround these strange occurrences. A few reports began mentioning that the apparition had on a WW2 Japanese uniform. Philippine investigators began to wander if it could be Lt Hiroo Onoda, a man who never returned to Japan after the war and whose body was never found.

They tracked him to a certain area of the forest and coaxed him out. They flew in his former commanding officer who commanded him to give up his post. This was in February 1974. Lt Onoda held his post – ALONE – for TWENTY-EIGHT years and TWO months.

Commitment!

Commitment. He followed his commander’s instructions until his commander gave further instructions. Even when he had to do them alone for over a quarter of a century.

Just one question for you and me:

Are we as committed to Christ as Onoda was to his commander?

-Scott

Starting Again: Today

Starting Again: Today

© B. Scott McCown, April 28, 2017

Today is theDay (1)

Life has not always been perfect,

Oh, the mistakes and errors you’ve made.

Hurt, pain, and disappointment,

Are the least of the price you have paid.

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Today is the day to start again

This day this time is the moment,

No other time will ever be better,

Consider this the Father’s bestowment.

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New every morning is His mercy,

His steadfast love is for you.

This is the time, this is the day,

For you to stand up, start anew.

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Give your life to the Savior,

Let Him cleanse your record.

Flee from the things that tempt you,

Drawing ever nearer to the Lord.

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This day is the moment,

Today stand as the best day.

To start again with the Savior,

And to walk once more in The Way.

Reflecting on My Needs

needsEvery family has certain needs. (There was probably no need for me to say that, we all know that we have needs.) Some of these needs are basic physical needs: food, clothing, and shelter.  In the aftermath of earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, and flooding rivers these basic needs are in an immediate state – people need these needs met NOW. As Christians we do well when we reach out to meet those needs.

However, there are other needs that disasters cannot take away.  One Christian in an area hit by a tornado on this date in 2011 had this to say two days after the storm, “I have everything I need.”  What you need to know is that this lady lost her entire home and much of what her and her husband collected over the last 50 years.  What did she mean, when she said, “I have everything I need”?

Do I have everything I need?

I believe she may have had the following needs in mind at the very least:

  1. Love:  A family cannot survive without love.  In speaking to the spiritual family of God in Rome, the apostle Paul states: “Outdo one another in showing honor”  Rom 12:10.  That is love in action!
  2. Commitment:  A family will not cope with tragedy of any kind if there is no commitment to each other.  There is a reason most marriages include the phrase “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.”  That reason includes our human need for someone to remain committed to us even when life turns against us.  Again the apostle Paul has something to say about this, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).  Commit to each other.
  3. Togetherness: Families need time together.  This time can be as simple as sitting around a dinner table, cozied up to a fire in cold weather, playing games together, or as complicated as a family vacation to a theme park or national park. Togetherness promotes trust, demonstrates care and support, and speaks of our love.

Take time today to celebrate your family, your blessings, and to focus on real needs.

-Scott

 

Do I have a Choice?

 

Saban03

image courtesy of Patrick Jacks

Really, I am serious when I ask, “Do I have a choice?

 

Recently, a number of sports news sources reported Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban’s thoughts on choices. I have a report from Yellow-Hammer News in front of me.  According to these sources the Crimson Tide Football coach was commenting on the importance of choices and young players.

“They all think they have this illusion of choice. Like ‘I can do what ever I want to do’. And you kind of have a younger generation now that doesn’t . . . get told no, they don’t always get told this is exactly how you need to do it. So they have this illusion that they have all these choices.”

Success comes at a cost.

Saban continues, “But the fact of the mater is, is if you want to be good, you really don’t have a lot of choices, because it takes what it takes. You have to do what you have to do to be successful. So you have to make choices and decisions to have the discipline and focus to the process of what you need to do to accomplish your goals.”

“All these guys that think they have a lot of choices are really sadly mistaken. And I think, . . . they learn these lessons of life as they get older, and sometimes the best way to learn them is from the mistakes that you make.” (Read the full interview HERE.)

When Amy read that interview to me, I thought about the choices we think we have in life. After reading it myself a couple of times, I think Nick Saban is spot on. While we do have choices, we limit them when we commit to succeed at something.

Success comes at a cost.

Success comes at a cost. Success on the playing field comes at a cost; the cost of free time. Success in the workplace comes at a cost; sometimes that cost is family. Success in marriage comes at a cost; you put your spouse above you. If I choose to succeed in an area of life, I choose to be less successful in other areas.

Success in my Christian walk comes at a cost.

God lays a choice before us; We  have a the choice of life and good or death and evil. If we choose life and good, if we choose God, we are choosing to give up other choices.  Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)

We have one choice. Will we choose God? For me there is no other choice!

-Scott

What Does it Matter?

We Back the BlueI heard part of an interview with a Birmingham area police officer.  I was half-way listening as I was driving back from a hospital visit.  I wish I had heard the entire interview. There are a few reasons the interview caught my attention:  1) My next-door neighbor is a campus police officer at the University of Alabama, 2) the man across the street is a detective with the city of Tuscaloosa, 3) my friends (and church members), Mike, Adam, and Harold are all active or retired officers with Tuscaloosa and Northport PD. 4) Andrew, our son, is a Criminal Justice Major and security officer at Faulkner University. 5) Plus, what this officer said had application beyond law enforcement.

When asked about the impact of officer misconduct and abuses of authority by officers across the nation, his replied was along the following thoughts.

In any profession there are good and bad people. As police officers we watch these videos on the news and on social media and wonder what led the officer to act that way. Is there more to the story than the clip we are watching? There always is. Is that officer under a lot of stress at home or suffering in some other way?

Then he added these thoughts, I have to remind our officers, that what we do as police  in Birmingham, Alabama impacts officers in Baltimore, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and all over. The image we create by our actions determines what the public thinks of officers in other places. What officers in other places do or how they act also impacts how the public sees us. We must always be professional, responsible, and careful.

When I heard this I thought of my neighbors, friends, and Andrew. I thought about the role and responsibilities they have. I stopped and prayed for them.

I also thought about the words of Jesus and of Paul,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16)

” . . . but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:8-17)

What about the example I set?

What I do as a Christian in Tuscaloosa impacts not only the Church at Central, but the churches in Tuscaloosa County, the churches in Alabama, the churches in the South Eastern United States, as well as all over the world.  The example I set reflects on the Church as a whole and on Christ whom I serve. The impression that people have of the Church, or Christians, and of Christ can be either positive or negative because of me.

What do others thing of Christians because of the example you and I set?

-Scott

 

Earth Day 2017

Earth DayApril 22, 1970 was the first Earth Day celebration in modern history and 47 years later (tomorrow) we are still here.  Eight years ago on Earth Day I helped (really watched) Amy 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. (It may be time for another one!)

I am not an extremist in the area of environmentalism, I do not carry an EPA membership card. However, for the last 30 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, or centuries. The climate does change, I am just not sure how much man has to do with that change for better or worse.  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.

This 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.

– Scott

Going Home or Home Going

HomeThis time of year in my county a large group of citizens are thinking about one thing; Leaving town and going home.  I live in a university town and am a minister in a congregation with approximately 100 students. Next month many of them will leave for the summer. They will travel highways and country roads that will take them home (John Denver fans, you are welcome).

Home

Some will stay in town in their new home.  Andrew (our son) is away at college and will be staying there this summer to work.  The last time he was with us, he said, “Montgomery feels like home.”

Home

A few weeks ago I held a Revival (Gospel Meeting) in Gulf Breeze, Florida.  I grew-up on that part of the Gulf Coast and my side of the family still lives in that area. For the record, I stayed at my parent’s house while down there. While the house is not the 900 square foot house of my childhood, it was good to be home with my parents and to see my brother, my sisters-in-law, my nieces, a few cousins, talk with my uncle, and see people who knew me as a child and teen. Even then, I was glad to come back home Thursday when the meeting was over.

There is something about home.

I have a good life. I have a great family (immediate and extended). I am a part of a wonderful church family. I have good friends. I have a nice house in a safe neighborhood and I have good neighbors. I have a good house, good transportation, clothing that is more than sufficient, as well as access to good food and clean water. I have a good life here. But even this is not home.

The apostle Paul says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phi 3:20). My home is in heaven with my Creator, Sustainer, and Savior.

-Scott