What is on Your RADAR?

The Morning Drive (1)Radar systems are common today, but such technology was not always the case. Today we think of weather radar, military radar, and more. A century ago such was impossible. Radio Detection and Ranging (RADAR) gives us advanced warning of dangers of many kinds.

There is a story from WWII concerning RADAR and the USS Alabama (BB-60). The Alabama’s greatest moment came during a Battle on June 19-20, 1944. The Japanese launched an aerial assault on the Pacific 3rd Fleet near the Marianas. Earlier, while at sea the crew of the USS Alabama installed a new radar system (this could not have been a easy task at sea). The SK-2 Radar system spotted the incoming aircraft while they wer 190 miles away and confirmed their approach when they were 140 miles away. This gave the US fleet time to get their aircraft airborne and to ready ship defenses. The battle turned out to be a lopsided Allied victory with Japan losing approximately 500 aircraft and many experienced pilots. This would turn the tide of the war. The battle would become known as “The Great Marianas’ Turkey Shoot.” *

What is on your RADAR?

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” (2 Peter 3:9-12)

Notice verse 11 again, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,”?

  • Is Christ’s return on your radar?
  • Are you prepared for His coming in judgment?
  • Are you ready to return with Him to a home in heaven?

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27) Death comes to all.

  • Have you made preparations for life after death?
  • Are you in Christ?
  • Are you preparing for that Day of Judgment?

-Scott

*source: http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-2958

Temptations, Trials, and Me

#cakeinamugA while back someone sent me a recipe claiming that you can make a chocolate cake in five minutes.  I had my doubts.  But the temptation of a chocolate cake in a mere five minutes was tempting me, especially since there was a tub of vanilla ice cream in the freezer and a bottle of chocolate syrup readily available.  After a quick search I found all that we had all the ingredients.  The cake recipe TEMPTED me and I TRIED it and much to my surprise and delight the recipe worked and I now have a new fight on my hands — the fight to not make one EVERY night!

Chocolate cake and the consumption of it (in moderation) is not sinful – maybe it ought to be.  But this wonderful cake and ice cream combination reminds me of the struggles we face as we try to live worthy of the kingdom of God.  Most of us – make that all of us – face things in our lives that can and sometimes do pull us away from intimacy with God.  These things can be work related, recreation, selfish desires, or anything similar.  Paul gives some lists in 1 Corinthians 6, Galatians 5, Romans 1 & 2 that mention specific areas of temptation.  But I am not writing to condemn you or me for what we struggle with.  I want to encourage us to avoid them.  The Hebrew writer tells us to “lay aside the sin” which weighs us down (Heb 12:1) as we patiently run the race of life. Paul encourages his readers to change their focus to what is “above” and not on what is of this world (Col 3:2) and to focus on the “unseen” yet “eternal” things of God (2 Cor 4:16ff).

A few more thoughts, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . .   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 1:2-4; 13-15 ESV).

– Scott

Here is the recipe:

4 Tbsp Flour
4 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Cocoa
1 Egg
3 Tbsp Milk
3 Tbsp Oil
A “splash” of vanilla extract for flavoring
(optional): 2 -3 Tbsp or nuts, mini chocolate (or peanut butter) chips.
1 large coffee mug.
Mix flour, sugar, and cocoa in large coffee mug.  Add egg and mix thoroughly.  Add milk and oil and mix completely.  Stir in splash of vanilla and add nuts or baking chips if you desire.
Cook for 3 minutes on high in microwave. (While cooking, the cake will rise above the top of the mug — this is normal.  If your mug is not large enough you will have a small mess in the microwave and on the outside of the cup.  I took me a couple of tries to find the best coffee mugs in our collection).
Remove to plate or bowl and serve with ice cream

Well, That Happened

PNG image 3Mrs. Nancy Benton, was a widow raising eight children on her own near White House, Tennessee. Her husband had fought alongside Confederate soldiers as a scout and guerilla fighter. He had escaped death in the war, but would die in the 1870’s leaving her a widow without a pension. She was doing her best to keep up with the farm and raise her children.

One day she gets a notice that she is behind on her mortgage. She owes the bank $1,400. That is more than Mrs. Benton can earn in a year. The notice claims that a representative from the bank will be by on a certain day to collect the back due mortgage or she and her children will be evicted. She has no idea what she can do.

Early in the morning of the day the mortgage is due, while it is still dark, there is a loud knock on the door. “They are already here,” she thinks. She plans how she is going to ask for more time as she walks to the door. She opens the door not to a bill collector, but to the barrel of a gun. At the other end is Jesse James.

Immediately, her day goes from bad to worse. If Jesse James asks for money, she has nothing to give. What will he do? Will he believe her? If he does not will he hurt her or her children? He does ask for coffee and something to eat. She prepares what she can and timidly places a small meal in front of this notorious outlaw.James asks why she gave him so little.

That is when things change.  She breaks down in tears and tells him her story and that that is all she has. She explains her dilemma and the bank’s threat to evict her and her children. This is when Jesse James does the unexpected.  This outlaw produces a roll of bills and hands Mrs. Benton $1,500 in cash. He tells her to use this to pay the back mortgage and save the rest. As he leaves he tells her to be sure to ask for a receipt.

Later in the day a representative from the bank comes to either collect the mortgage or evict Mrs. Benton. She pays the banker and asks for a receipt. He provides the receipt, thanks her and leaves. She watches him as he leaves her property. That is when Jesse James re-enters the story. As the man nears the road, Jesse (some accounts include Frank) steps out of the woods and robs the banker.

Sometimes we prejudge others based on their reputation. Sometimes we think the worst of them. Apparently, there was good even in the notorious outlaw Jesse James.

Rahab protected the Israelite spies when she lied about their presence. She receives protection when Jericho falls. Jesus used an unjust manager (steward) in a parable to teach about wisdom (Luke 16:1-13). I wonder if we can learn something from Frank and Jesse James?

  1. Not how to cheat the bank, but how we should be compassionate.
  2. Not to prejudge. The widow thought the worst of Jesse James. He could have thought she was lying.
  3. What lessons can you think of?
  4. What Bible characters come to mind that are “anti-heroes?” Characters who unexpectedly do good things?

-Scott

Note: I learned this event from Mysteries at the Museum on The Travel Channel. It is told from memory, some details may vary from actual events.

Pardon my Mood this Morning

This is a repeat, because I am this type of mood this morning. I thought you might need a laugh.

  1. I once tried to catch some Fog . . . but I mist.
  2. When chemists die, they barium.
  3. I avoid jokes about German sausage . . . they are the wurst.
  4. A soldier who survives mustard gas and pepper spray is called a seasoned veteran.
  5. Can someone addicted to brake fluid stop anytime?
  6. This lady thought she recognized me from the vegan club, but I never met herbivore.
  7. I read through a book on anti-gravity in one sitting, I just could not put it down.
  8. A theatrical performance about puns would be a play on words.
  9. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger . . . then it hit me.
  10. Broken pencils are pointless.

As I have stated before, I share these in an attempt to make you laugh, but I fear no pun in ten did.

Look, Flopsy, I can make a hand with my shadow!

Look, Flopsy, I can make a hand with my shadow!

– Scott

A Shout-out to Teachers

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Bear with me a moment as I walk down memory lane, clear away a few cobwebs, and pull from the long forgotten files. As I am going to those files, I challenge you to do the same. Think about all those who have been your teachers. Thank them personally if you still can. Second only to your parents they are the people who helped you become who you are. If you were (are) homeschooled then they are not second to your parents they are your parents – so thank them twice.

Thank you, teachers!

Elementary School:

  • Mrs. Farley, Kindergarten – Escambia Christian School
  • Ms. Simon, 1st – ECS
  • Mrs. Johnson, 2nd – ECS
  • Ms. Ellis, 3rd – ECS
  • Mrs. Nelson, 4th – Sherwood Elementary School
  • Mrs. Gulsby, 5th – ECS

Middle School

  • Mrs. Reynolds, 6-8th Math and Science – ECS
  • Mr. Akers, 6-8th History and Bible – ECS
  • Mrs. Sprague, 6-8th English and Literature – ECS
  • Mr. Shcaffer, 6-8th Music – ECS

High School

  • To my Pine Forest High School teachers, there were so many of you, thank you all, But specifically these teachers had an impact on me:
  • Mrs. Gibson, Chorus, Music Appreciation
  • Mrs. Payne, Algebra I, II
  • Mr. Wilson, Chemistry
  • Mr. Hand, BSCS Biology
  • Mrs. Cantrell, A.P. Calculus
  • Mrs. Crumpton, Senior English (Writing)

University

  • Philip Sprayberry, Music, Chorus, Theatre
  • Dr. Kelly Morris, English
  • Dr. E.J. Turner, Sciences
  • Bro. Wendell Winkler, Bible, Hermeneutics, Sermon Prep, Expository Preaching
  • Dr. Cheatham, Bible, Church History, Greek, Research (Graduate Level)
  • Dr. Hilliard, Marriage and Family
  • Bro. Leonard Johnson, Bible
  • Bro. Eris Benson
  • Dr. Floyd Parker, New Covenant (Graduate Level)
  • Dr. Randall Bailey, Old Covenant (Graduate Level)
  • Bro. Paul Tarrence, Ministry, Sermon Prep & Delivery (Graduate Level)
  • And so many others.

Thank you for your lessons. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your influence. Thank you for caring.

-Scott

Your Turn. Take time to thank your teachers today!

Historical Roots

roots 1In a recent conversation with Amy (or as her students call her, Mrs. McCown) she shared with me that psychologists in the field of childhood development say that children who know their family history such as who their parents are and how they met and who their grandparents are do better in life. I think it boils down to this question: If you do not know where you come from, do you really know who you are?

If you do not know where you are from, do you really know who you are?

Maybe the same can be said about a nation. Go back with me to April 18-19 1775. Solomon was eighteen years old on April 18, 1775 and was going to Lexington when he saw a group of nine British Officers.  He noticed that they were armed.  He quickly made his way to town and stopped at Munroe’s Tavern and reported his sighting to the Patriots gathered there. They dispersed to protect John Hancock and Samuel Adams and send young Solomon to Buckman’s Tavern where he repeats his sighting. Two others go with Solomon to scout the movements of the British Officers. But the Officers see them first and they are detained.

After taking Solomon and his companions horses and any muskets, the harshly interrogate them. Sometime around 2:00 a.m. two other Patriots join these detainees – a peddler and Paul Revere. After more questioning the officers return the horses and release the men.

Later on April 19, 1775, young Solomon Brown exchanges fire with British Soldiers in Lexington. Some think that Solomon may have fired the “Shot Heard ’round the World.”

Solomon’s older brother was also in Lexington that day standing with the Minute Men. Oliver Brown would go on to become a Captain in the Continental Army. He would be responsible for the at least two cannons as part of the Massachusetts Artillery Unit.  He would participate in a number of battles including, White Plains, Harlem Heights, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. He also commanded the volunteer party that pulled down the statue of King George from the New York Battery.

Capt. Oliver Brown’s daughter, Elizabeth married Robert Wylie. Her, Mary Wylie married Sylvester McCown. Sylvester is my Great-Grandfather. I know some of my roots. I know my connections to the United States. My family shares this and other stories with each generation.

Yet, as important as family history may be what do we know about the history of faith?

Do we know the faith of those in the pages of Old Covenant Scripture? What do we know about Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, the Kings of Judah and Israel, Elijah, Elisha, Michaiah, Jonah, and other prophets? Do we know the story of their faith?

Do we know the story of the apostles, Paul, and other early Christians? What do their struggles teach us about faith?

What is the history of your faith? What lead you to trust in God and Christ?

-Scott

Historical Sources:

 

Dis-Harmonium

PNG image 1Thomas Hardy’s novel Under the Greenwood Tree concerns the hamlet of Mellstock in the 1870’s Great Britain.  Miss Fancy Day comes to Mellstock to care for her aging father and, having completed her education, she also takes on the role of teacher for the local school.  She soon becomes the attention of all the eligible men in town.  Three will make proposals of marriage:  the wealthy Mr. Shiner, the new Vicar (Mr. Maybold) who has aspirations for greater parishes, and the poor but hardworking Mr. Dick Dewey.  The story revolves around Miss Day’s dilemma;  whose love should she requite? Mr. Shiner will provide for her and her father; Mr. Dewey deeply loves her yet his aspirations will keep him in the backward town of Mellstock, and Mr. Maybold will provide well enough for her and take her to see the world.

But there is a second story within the novel.  Vicar Maybold decides to replace the choir and their country instruments (a fiddle and bass violin) with a harmonium that the accomplished Miss Day will play.  The choir of men including Mr. Dewey and his father, Mr. Shiner, and other leading men of the community has an-hundred-year history with the congregation.  This harmonium will bring an end this men’s choir.  Some of the men eventual sabotage the  harmonium in protest.  Such a monstrosity has no place in their church.  They cannot allow this “new” Vicar to bring in “new” innovations.

For the record, I believe the scriptures teach God’s desire is for us to sing and make music in our hearts with our voices and not with mechanical instruments of music (cf. Eph 5:18-19 & Col 3:16-17).  That however is not the point of this morning’s blog.

Recalling this novel cause me to wonder about congregational traditions; to reflect on the methods and sacred cows we hang on to.  Maybe these traditions are a particular order of worship, maybe a particular translation of the Bible, or even what songs we sing.  These traditions can include where we sit, what time we begin (or finish), classes or no classes, or if we have Wednesday night prayer meeting.  Some churches have traditional rules about what those serving “have” to wear other congregations have relaxed dress codes.

Traditions are what they are.  Some are healthy and others are a hindrance. That is what I think is great about congregational autonomy; each congregation of God’s family can have their own individual traditions as long as those traditions do not conflict with God’s word, nor usurp His authority (Matt 15:7-9).  We also need to make certain we do not allow traditions or the changing of traditions to destroy unity and give people excuses for not coming to God.

What do you think?

– Scott

Who is the Holy Spirit?

Who is the Holy SpiritThrough out my thirty years of ministry one of the topics Christians seem most interested in and the most confused by is What or Who is the Holy Spirit? I think we see the Spirit as mysterious because of the term Holy GHOST in older translations and Holy SPIRIT in newer translations. GHOST and SPIRIT seem other worldly. Maybe understanding that the word translated as ghost or spirit is pnuema which can also be “breath” or “wind.”  That alone helps me understand the Spirit is God’s breath.

Who is the Spirit?

All we can know about the Spirit is what God tells us about His Spirit. Someone else counted 352 times that the Bible refers to or calls the Spirit by name.  That is a good bit of material. Any other source of information outside of the Bible is pure speculation. With that in mind I want to share some of what the Bible says about the Spirit.

  1. The Holy Spirit was an agent in Creation – Gen 1:2
  2. The Spirit was an agent in the birth of the Christ – Mat 1:18
  3. The Holy Spirit had a role in Christ’s resurrection – 1Pe 3:18
  4. The Spirit breathed out Scripture – 1Co 2:9-11
  5. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin – Joh 16:8-11
  6. The Spirit dwells in every Christian – 1Co 3:16
  7. The Holy Spirit searches hearts – 1Co 2:10-11
  8. The Spirit invites sinners to come to Christ – Rev 22:17
  9. The Holy Spirit intercedes – Rom 8:26-27
  10. God’s Spirit gives hope – Rom 15:30
  11. The Spirit of Christ provides joy and peace – Rom 14:17
  12. The Spirit provides comfort – Act 9:31
  13. The Holy Spirit provides confidence – Rom 8:16
  14. The Spirit produces fruit in the life of the Christian – Gal 5:22-23

One more passage and a concluding thought: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9-11)

The Holy Spirit in my life is my life in Christ.

-Scott

Can This be True?

true“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?'”

When I read this passage from Joel 2:12-17, I notice these words, “return,” “weeping,” “mourning,” “rend your heart,” “fast,” and “solemn.” From the context, God is punishing His people (Judah) for turning away from Him. Now He is begging them to repent. Joel says God is, “is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”

This passage reveals the heart of God. God is willing, not He longs to forgive. His desire is to forgive His people and all people.

  • “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. ” (2 Peter 3:9) 
  • “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Thank you, God, for taking the initiative for my deliverance from wrath. Thank You for your Grace. In Jesus name.

-Scott