Parables in Life

When I came to visit Southwest last October, someone showed me a copy of Reese Scott’s book, Parables in My Life. After he passed away last week at age 96, I learned a lot about Reese through stories told by others. Then I found a copy of his book to read some of it in his own words. I’d like to share with you some of what he wrote in the closing pages of the book.

I cannot restrain a few thoughts, and maybe just a dash of advice, on living each day to the fullest. If I could turn back time, I would try to be a better husband by telling my beloved every day how much I adored her and by spending more time with her and our children and less time on my business. I would go to more school activities, more PTA meetings, more ball games… I would spend more time reading my Bible, more time in prayer, and more time walking closer with God, realizing that life without God has no meaning. I will tell everyone to spend less time or worry about what to eat or what clothes to wear. If you are an American, you already have too much food and too many clothes.

For a young person, seeking advice from someone who’s been there and done that, I can tell them a few things I have learned during my ninety years on Earth. Continue your education all your life, whether it be in the classroom or from your life’s experiences. Read the Bible… it will convert your life to Christian principles and give you peace. Pray often to your God, and He will lead you to your life’s service. Search until you find the right person to marry…this is the second most important decision in your life. When you get a job, do it with all your might. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:1)

At the end of your life, you will find that the most important advice is to fear and to love God and keep His commandments as Solomon in his wisdom tells us. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Fearing God is to realize that God is the Creator of man, the universe and all. That by your faith and His amazing grace, your life is in His hands. Fearing God will light the path of your life as long as you live. As I continue on life’s road to my end, not knowing where I will be or when it will end, my belief sustains me. I am persuaded that God will keep me until that day He calls me to Heaven for a life change with a new body that will not wear out. I will enter His kingdom with the certainty of my faith.

I offer a prayer of benediction: I wish for you the best for your life on this Earth, may God bless you, and may you have everlasting life. “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)


Thank you, Reese, for living out a parable to encourage all of us.


– Brian

The Power of Story

There has always been incredible power in a good story. Stories can teach and inspire. They can cause us to think. Good stories can illustrate ideas that are otherwise difficult to understand. They connect with people in ways beyond just the sharing of facts. Jesus was well aware of the power of story, and He used them frequently to explain deeply spiritual truths. He often did this using parables. Even His use of parables brought a question from His disciples that Jesus addressed in Matthew 13:10-13.

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’”

The first definition of parable that many of us heard is this: an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus encountered many people, including His own apostles, who did not understand how God feels about the lost, what Christ followers should do for those in need, what to expect when sharing the gospel and countless other theological ideas. However, they did understand the basics of shepherding, farming and the dangers of travel. Jesus helped them connect those truths and illustrations through the use of parables.

For the next few months we will look at several of the parables of Jesus on Sunday mornings. These amazing stories still teach us today about the truths God wants us to understand. As we better understand His story and become better followers of His, He continues writing our story.

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1b-2a (NASB)


– Brian

Come and See

“Look!”  I can remember hearing that so many times when our kids were small. Sometimes they had discovered something new. Sometimes they had done something they thought was amazing. Sometimes they just needed to know I was interested and paying attention. They might have been diving into the pool for the first time or proud of a paper they brought home from school. There are other times for all of us that we have those “look” moments. We might do a double take or rewind the television to see if we just saw what we thought we saw. It could be the incredible or even unexplainable things that bring this reaction in us.

After His crucifixion the followers of Jesus were probably devastated. Their leader, teacher and friend was gone. Even though He had tried to prepare them for this moment, they struggle to understand. When Mary and Mary went to the tomb that morning, their plan was for the normal tasks done after a death. They did not expect to find an empty tomb. Instead of the lifeless body of their savior, they found an angel who told them to “come and see.”  Look!  They reacted with both fear and joy.

Nearly 2000 years after that resurrection morning, the tomb is still empty. His resurrection gives us hope and joy today. The angel told them to go and share the news of the empty tomb. We can share that same news to bring joy and hope to our world. He is risen; come and see!

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.  – Matthew 28:6 (ESV)


– Brian

Spring Break

I always enjoyed the week of spring break when I was in school. I was never much of a beach person, but I liked the time of relaxation or the opportunity to go somewhere fun. I miss it sometimes. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all still got that week off to enjoy? Although spring break can be a change from the usual schedule, it is a busy time here at Southwest.

Our youth group has spent the first half of spring break serving in our community. On Monday, they spent most of the day doing yard work. It’s amazing how much they accomplished in just one day. On Tuesday morning they got together for donuts then spent some time at Brookdale having a devotional and fellowship with the residents there. As I write this Wednesday morning they have unloaded food from the food bank truck, loaded it into our trailers and are unloading it again into the Yellow House for distribution next week. They will finish the week off with a fun afternoon on Friday. John always does a great job with our teens, and he put together plenty of service opportunities for them this week.

Several from our college ministry are spending the week in Haiti working with the Cap Haitien Children’s Home. David and Sarah are leading that group, and I know they will have lots of stories about the good things happening there to share when they return.

In the office we are beginning a time of transition as Paula prepares to retire at the end of the month, and Dana prepares to move into that role. A good church secretary is a blessing to the church and especially to those of us who are around the office regularly. Southwest has been blessed to have Paula in that position for nearly three decades, and we are looking forward to honoring her this Sunday.

I guess it doesn’t sound like much of a break, does it? Our spring break may be busy with work as usual, serving, traveling or relaxing. Whether we have the week off or spring break is a distant memory, let’s make the most of these opportunities to serve, go or rest.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  – Colossians 3:17 (ESV)


– Brian

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry

Before the days of computer animation and incredible special effects, there was the TV show from the 1970’s, The Incredible Hulk. Instead of the computer generated Hulk we see in movies today, there was Bruce Banner (played by Bill Bixby). Due to an experiment gone wrong, his anger would trigger a change into the green, muscle-bound Hulk (played by Lou Ferrigno). When he knew things were heading that direction, he would warn people not to make him angry and say, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Sometimes his anger was triggered by an injustice. Often it was influenced by with the actions of others toward him. That’s what gets me angry sometimes too. I don’t enjoy being mistreated by others. What makes you angry?

In our class on Proverbs last Wednesday we discussed anger and recognized that there are good and bad kinds of anger. There is a selfish, unhealthy anger that often begins with being wronged, inconvenienced or frustrated. When we hang onto that anger, we say things we later regret and make poor choices. We do, however, have the ability to keep that anger under control. There is also an anger that is unselfish and righteous. It might be the result of an injustice we see happening to others. That anger can motivate us to bring light to the injustice and right the situation. That is the kind of anger we see Jesus display occasionally.

In Mark 11, we find the story that most people think of when it comes to the anger of Jesus. He encounters people selling and exchanging money in the temple courts, and he turns over their tables. There’s a big difference between his anger and the anger we deal with much of the time. His anger is about how God is being treated. His anger flows from a place of worship becoming a marketplace. The gospel is full of accounts of Jesus being misunderstood, mistreated and maligned. We don’t see anger as the response there; we instead see it here in the temple courts. He is far more patient with how He is treated than with the Father being disrespected. We can learn from His example. What makes you angry?

– Brian


“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”   (Proverbs 29:11)


Unfinished Business

Several of us from the Southwest Church spent time in Oklahoma City last weekend at the Affirming the Faith seminar. This year’s theme was “Unfinished Business.” The main idea through the keynote lessons and many of the classes is that there is still plenty of work for us to do. There is so much truth in those simple words.

Each of us has the responsibility and ability to share the good news of Jesus with those around us day to day. For many reasons, we convince ourselves that it is not something we can do or something that will be effective. Jesus speaks about those misconceptions with the parable of the sower in Matthew 13.  Seed is sown on a path, on rocky ground, among thorns and on good soil. As we might expect, seed sown in each area has different results.

The seed sown on the path is quickly eaten by birds. There are those we will tell about Jesus who will not understand or accept that good news. Even though the seed is good, growth never begins.

The seed sown on the rocky ground begins to grow but is scorched by the sun. Some will receive the good news well, but then life gets difficult. If their faith does not take root, they may soon leave it behind.

The seed sown among the thorns grows but is choked out by them. People may hear the message and even grow in faith, but as the world continues to bring them down they eventually give up.

The seed sown on good soil takes root, grows and multiplies. When we bring the gospel to people like this, their lives are changed. They share that experience with others who share it with others. Disciples make more disciples.

There are many truths we can learn from this parable, but here are five to think about.

  1. The seed is good regardless of the result. Whether it is accepted or rejected by those who hear it, the word of God is true.
  2. Don’t be discouraged when the results are not what you hope they will be. Jesus made it clear that results would vary. Just keep sharing the good news.
  3. Don’t assume that you will be rejected or that it cannot work. If we sow consistently enough, we will find the good soil.
  4. Remember that the kingdom growth goes beyond the people we share the good news with. That one person the gospel takes root with because of your efforts can share the gospel with countless more who may do the same. Your efforts have a real effect on the kingdom.
  5. It is up to each of us to sow the seed. We can all share the story of Jesus, and lives will be changed when we do.


Let’s get to work on our unfinished business this week!

– Brian


“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   (Matthew 28:19-20)

In the Wilderness

I really appreciated David’s thoughts a couple weeks ago from the book of Numbers. It reminded me of a recent article by Wes McAdams who preaches for the Church of Christ on McDermott Road in Plano, Texas and is one of the teachers this year at the Affirming the Faith Seminar in Oklahoma City. Wes is reading though each book of the Bible in one sitting and sharing his ideas after each reading. Here is what he shared about the big ideas he learned from reading the book of Numbers.     – Brian
We call it “Numbers,” but the Jews call it, “In the Wilderness.” I much prefer their title. The title “Numbers,” makes it sound like the book is just about the censuses that were taken; it is so much more than that. As you know, I am reading each book of the Bible in one sitting. Here are a few of my thoughts after reading the book of Numbers. (Click here to continue reading.)


If you are not here regularly on Wednesday nights or you are part of another class, you might not know that our adult auditorium class has been studying themes in the book of Proverbs from a study called “Practical Proverbs” by Scott Franks.  The book is filled with short sayings that are long on wisdom. Wisdom is described in the Bible Knowledge Commentary as “having the ability to cope with life in a God-honoring way.” That is something we should all be striving to do. Since we’ve reached the halfway point in our study, so I’ll catch you up on what we have learned so far about doing that.




It is essential that followers of God learn to trust Him in all things. There are lots of situations in life that cause fear and uncertainty. We can trust God in the midst of those times. That trust begins with the healthy fear and respect of God. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)



Most of us have learned many times in life how lies intended to make things easier usually make things more complicated and hurt people in the process. God desires that we be honest with each other and with Him. “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.” (Proverbs 12:22)



There are few sins that are as entrenched in our culture and in the church as gossip. The listening is every bit as harmful as the talking. Roddy Chestnut came up with this helpful reminder about choosing our words wisely: THINK. Is it True? Will it Help? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Proverbs 26:20)



God who is part of a community designed us to live in the same way. The friends we choose can help us in life and can help us grow closer to Him. We can do the same for those friends. Conversely the wrong friends can lead in the wrong direction. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17).



There are things money can do and things it cannot do. We know that when we stop to think about it, but we spend a lot of our time and effort trying to use money the wrong way. We must always place God above money in our lives. “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” (Proverbs 23:4-5)


– Brian


This week I have been reading Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff. In his research for the book, he found that 92% of people with goals that are never finished. One of the greatest reasons that projects are left undone, rooms are left unorganized, gym memberships are unused and Bible reading plans do not make it through this month is perfectionism. Acuff explains in the book that the worst day in trying to achieve a goal is “the day after perfect.”

Bob wants to improve his prayer life in 2018 by getting up 15 minutes earlier every day and spending that time in prayer. After several weeks of doing well, he has a late night followed by too many hits of the snooze button. That morning starts late and the prayer is missed. When the next day rolls around, the streak has been broken, Perfectionism says to Bob, “What’s the point now?” Statistically, 92% of people will give up on the goal that day, because perfect is no longer possible. We miss the point when we do that. If we are people who believe we should pray more, read scripture more, be better encouragers or be more positive, we cannot allow the first misstep to end the mission. If Bob goes back to praying the next morning, wouldn’t 364 days or even 350 days of morning prayer in 2018 with the occasional late night or missed alarm be better than the 30 something days so far?

Acuff suggests a few things that might help us finish.

  1. If you have trouble finishing, admit that your current plan is not working. It’s amazing how often we do the same things expecting different results to happen.
  2. Cut your goal in half. If you have a tendency to give up, make a smaller goal that’s more attainable. If you want to lose 20 pounds, start with a goal of 10. If you have struggled with reading the entire Bible in a year, try reading the New Testament this year. For many people doing either of those things would be an accomplishment that would better their lives. If the goal was 20 pounds or the reading entire Bible in 2018, and they lost 10 pounds or only read the New Testament; most people would believe they failed.
  3. If it is not kind of goal that can be cut in half, try doubling the amount of time you have to reach the goal. If the goal is accomplished in two months instead of one, the goal is still accomplished. If we give up on day 30, we missed the opportunity.
  4. Set reasonable, attainable goals. I will not be running a marathon tomorrow. If for some crazy reason I decided that I wanted to run one, I would start by walking more. Eventually I would sign up for a 5K, then a 10K, then a half marathon. Assuming I survived all of those, I would eventually have one of those 26.2 stickers on the back of my car.


When I think of the perfectionism that Acuff describes in the book, I am reminded of Paul’s words about the law and grace in Romans 5:20-21, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The perfection of the old covenant seems unattainable, so God provides us with grace. He knows that sin will work its way into our lives but that we do not have to allow it to be our master. Like Paul describes later in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, we can finish the race. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 


– Brian


As I sit at my computer this morning thinking about what to write, one word keeps coming to mind: THANKFUL. It has been one month since I stood at the pulpit for the first time as your minister, and I am thankful for this church.

I am thankful that a couple months ago a group of you spent hours preparing a house for our family. Cabinets were cleaned, walls were painted and repairs were made. I am thankful that when that old house has problems, and I send a text to Butch; those problems are taken care of. And Butch is probably thankful that those texts are coming less frequently. J  I am thankful that when I walk into our pantry to see what there is to eat, I see shelves that are full of the things we were pounded with a few weeks ago.

I am thankful each week when I meet with our elders to be reminded that we have God honoring leaders who are shepherding this church. I am thankful to see the ways that our deacons are serving this church. I am thankful each day for the work that David and John are doing with our campus and youth ministries and other work in the church that is outside their specific roles. I am thankful for what Paula and Dana do in the office to make everyone else’s efforts go further and more smoothly.

I am thankful to have attended Bible classes at Southwest taught by five different people and to have been blessed by what each of those teachers had prepared. I am thankful to see how Jean, Juanita and Bobbye serve the people at Brookdale each week. I am thankful for the work that is done each month for our community at the Yellow House and for how well the crews there work together. I am thankful that whenever a need arises there are people here who rise to the occasion.

I am thankful that as we looked at our budget recently we saw so many good things that are being done in the kingdom because of your generosity. I am thankful for the worship we share together each week. I am thankful for the songs we sing, the prayers we pray and the time we spend remembering the sacrifice Jesus made. I am thankful for the encouragement you give and the way you have welcomed our family into the family at Southwest. I am thankful for this church and the community we now call home.

I could go on and on, but most of all I am thankful for the God we serve and His love for us. Let’s daily show those around us how thankful we are for Him. 

– Brian

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)