What do They See?

A few years ago a small project took place. Churches asked community members and professional researchers to come observe their assemblies and fill out a survey and evaluation form while posing as normal guests. Here is some of what they reported:

  • Most members know only a small percentage of other members.
  • This congregation seems to be mostly a gathering of anonymous worshippers.
  • The church does not seem like a genuine community prepared to bear each others’ burdens.
  • There was little expression of interest in being truly involved in each other’s lives.
  • Most seem to come to worship for personal reasons like their own spiritual needs and own satisfaction.
  • It was like going to a concert or theater, people came in sat down, enjoyed their experience and left.

If these results hold true at most churches, no wonder we are not bringing people to Christ.  They can get the same thing at a ballgame or at the movies.

Central Tuscaloosa

We need to relearn these messages from the apostles and witnesses who God inspired to share His Word,

  • Show hospitality and serve each other. 1 Peter 4:9-10, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”
  • Display compassion and care for each other. 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
  • Pray for each other. James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
  • Correct and restore each other. James 5:19-20, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
  • Teach and admonish each other. Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
  • LOVE one another. Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Making this practical here are seven things you can do at your local congregation to help her become warmer and more inviting.

  1. Formally identify with the local congregation.
  2. Learn each other’s names.
  3. Listen to announcements (read the announcement sheet or screen) and make note of cares and joys. Send cards, emails, text messages, etc. to those you can.
  4. Pray for each other. Go through the church directory and pray for everyone by name.
  5. Be approachable and transparent. Let people see you as you are. Don’t put on the false mask of perfection.
  6. Use EVERY available opportunity to be around each other.
  7. Find your place in the body. Serve, teach, exhort, share, show mercy, lead worship, etc. Try your hand at something new.
  • Scott

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Ten Verses to Read

All of God’s Word has value.  Through His revealed Word God gives us what we need to know pertaining to life and godliness in living faithful to Him through His Son. With that understanding, clearly stated, I want to share with you ten verses I think are important for you to read and understand. These are ten verses that remind me of my relationship and dependency upon God.

  1. Hebrews 9:27 – “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
  2. Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
  3. John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
  4. Acts 2:42 – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles ‘ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
  5. 2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail to meet the test.”
  6. Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary of  doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not give up”
  7. Ephesians 4:15 – “but, speaking the truth in love, are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head into Christ”
  8. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,”
  9. James 1:27 – “…to keep oneself unstained from the world,”
  10. 2 Peter 3:11  – “ . . . what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness”

I adapted this from a sermon outline Levi Sides shared with me.  I preached this on a Sunday night recently.  our Sunday evening are an abbreviated assembly to give us opportunity to fellowship with each other after worship. If you want to listen to this lesson the audio file is HERE.

  • Scott

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Our National Problems


Politics, Elections, Primaries, Political Polls, Candidates, issues, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Liberal, Conservative . . .  These are the words that we hear every newscast 24 hours a day / 7 days a week when we have state or national elections every couple of years.

Every candidate, every political party, wants to tell you what is wrong about his or her opponents’ point of view. Then the populace gets involved. We begin to build our case, fortify our positions, and hurl the bombs of accusations at our enemies hoping to destroy their position, party, and get them to raise the flag of surrender.

We turn our attention the issues; those all important deal makers or deal breakers that we base our choice of party and candidate on. Issues such as foreign policy, economy, abortion and Planned-Parenthood, immigration (non-documented foreigners), refugees, terrorism (both domestic and international), Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender legislation and court battles, and the list goes on.

(a caveat) I am NOT running for any office!  I do NOT have that desire! I will vote for the individual(s) that I believe will best lead our country in the direction I see that it needs to go.

Here is the main point for me. Our country has problems! We always have and I suppose always will.  As long as imperfect people run our government and as long as imperfect people vote for our officials we will have problems. Our problems are not taxes. Our problems are not foreign policy. Our problem is not Israel, the Middle-East, or the War on Terror.  Our problem is not the funding of Planned-Parenthood, LGBT rights, abortion, the death penalty, nor the Affordable Health Care Act.  Our problem is not educational standards. Our problem is not a lottery or lack thereof. These are the symptoms of our problem.

Our National Problem is deeper than the issues.  Our National Problem starts in our homes, our mosques, synagogues, temples, and church buildings. No, our National Problem starts with each individual. One might refer to our National Problem as entitlement, selfishness, or egocentricity. However you describe it, we lack delayed gratification, self control, and do not practice self-denial. We want to blow-up terrorist because they hurt us.  We want to put all criminal to death quickly because they endanger me and are a heavy tax burden. We want our children educated without having to put in any effort at home. We want abortions because a pregnancy is an inconvenience to us at this time. We want to live with, marry, divorce and remarry whom we want because we feel we have the right to make ourselves happy right now.  We want a lottery so we can win and never have to work to get what we want. We want access to health care and government aid without having to work for it because we feel entitled. We want this group or that group hushed up, backed into a corner, and marginalized because we think they want to keep us from being happy and practicing what we want to practice. We do not want to be refused service, but want the right to refuse service to others.  We are SELFISH.

Christian, before you point the finger at the world, remember the words of Paul in Romans 2:1-4, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

Here is what I am asking each of us to do – myself included.  Take time each day, starting with this moment, and check your motivation. Evaluate your own life and agenda. Why do you stand where you stand? Why do you treat people the way you do? Why do you hate, argue, bite, and devour others? Will you change what needs to change in YOU?

  • Scott


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Blood Moon

We are tackling the prophecy in Joel about the moon turning to blood.  Come join us if you are near Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

  • Scott

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Who Do You Want to Be

In 2006, as I was completing a Masters’ Degree in Ministry, our instructor (Paul Tarrence) assigned us at simple project; to reflect on the Man we Desired to be.  I wrote this list then and keep in under the glass on the desk in my study.  I use it to reflect on how I am becoming that man. I humbly admit I am still a work in progress.

The Man I Desire to Be
  1. Above all a servant of God.

    In my study at Central

    In my study at Central

  2. A man who is a leader in service to others.
  3. A man focused on the needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) of his family.
  4. A person with the financial security to be generous in giving to the Lord and in helping others with their needs.
  5. A fried to all I meet.
  6. A man of God’s Word in reflection and action.
  7. A man motivated by a pure heart.
  8. A man of ever deepening faith and trust in God.
  9. A living testimony of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
  10. A man Christ-like in attitude and behavior.
  11. A teacher of teachers and a disciple of Christ discipling others to reconciliation with God through Christ (2 Tim 2:2; 2 Cor 5:18ff).
  12. A man aware of and sensitive to the thoughts and emotions of others, yet not allowing the values or misunderstandings of others to change my core-values that have their basis upon and in the principles of God’s Word.
What would your list include:  List the attributes of the Person You Would Like to Be.

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Teaching the Next Generaton

image via Crimson Confidential

image via Crimson Confidential (UA vs WV 2014)

Saturday, thanks to a friend, I had two tickets to the Home Opener at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Andrew was in town for the weekend do we had a father and son day as we watched Alabama take on Middle Tennessee. We were not the only father-son duo there.  Sitting a row behind us was a dad and his 9 year old son. They were dressed in Crimson and White, had shakers, Cokes, and popcorn.  I listened pre-game as this young father explained the traditions at Bryant-Denny. How the band was spelling BAMA and pointed out the Elephant that The Million Dollar Band made as Big Al lead them in Tusk.  This dad pointed out how everyone used their shakers during Sweet Home Alabama (Roll Tide Roll).

Then as the game got under way, this dad patiently explained why Alabama went “three and out” on their fist possession and then explained why they got the ball back after a fumble.  Every play, every possession, this dad shared the love of the game. It was a special day for this father-son duo.

As special as that day and those moments were for them, they were special to me as I sat next to my college freshman.  It does not seem that long ago that I took him to his first BAMA game sharing a my love of the game and of the band. Now he will be on the John-Mark Stallings Field at Falkner University, not playing football, but as a part of the Marching Eagle Band. I should mention that I am excited about their upcoming home game.

Yet, there is another event that I am thinking of.  One that plays out not just on a special Saturday in Fall, but one that plays out every Sunday – somewhere. I witnessed such an event recently.

A young family sat together during worship.  The youngest child is just reaching that age when they are curious about what they see their parents doing during worship.  The were about to join in the Lord’s Supper (Communion) and this little one asked why they were eating crackers? I could not hear what Mom or Dad said, but I heard them explaining.  The next question was about grape juice. I love witnessing families passing on what they love. I love watching them encourage their children to sing with the congregation. I love seeing families teaching their children about God and the Church so that when the children mature, they can make a decision about faith for themselves.

God always planned for parents to teach their children lessons of faith. In Joshua 4 the Israelites set up stones where they crossed the Jordan as God command them. Joshua explained why, “And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.” (Jos 4:21-22).

We are quick to pass along our love of football, baseball, music, good food, cars, hunting, fishing, and family traditions. May we be just as faithful at teaching our children about God, Christ, the Spirit, Christ’s Church, and the Faith.

  • Scott

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My Reflections on My Nation’s Needs

Veteran's DayWe have had, have, and will continue to have many threats to our nation. Some are external like the events of September 11, 2001. Some are internal like racial tension, an uncertain economy, distrust of law enforcement, chemical abuse, injustice, and general violence. We must pull together like we did in the days that followed the tragedy 14 years ago.
On that fateful day, I was listening to events unfold on the radio as I drove to a preacher’s breakfast in Manchester, a few miles north of Jasper, Alabama. My mood was surreal – I could not believe what I was hearing. The usually jovial radio hosts were serious and focused. When I arrived at the restaurant, we all gathered around a TV to watch as the events continued to unfold. All we knew to do was to pray for the survivors, for our leaders to have strength, and for our nation.
My prayer today is for our leaders to be strong and courageous enough to lead this nation to be a light to the world around us. My prayer for this nation is for us as individual citizens to become less egocentric as individuals, to start with the man in the mirror and make needed changes. I pray we focus on the needs of others and not our wants nor imagined entitlements. I pray we regain the determination that began our nation, the determination to allow individual citizens to improve their situation and status. This is what our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is about.

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