Monday, December 31, 2007

Book Review

Brian McLaren's book that I recently finished was part 3 of a series. The books raise more questions for most readers. This one raised perhaps the most out of any book I have read by him. The subject matter was hell and the grace of God. His writing challenged me to rethink and reexamine my own motivation for having a relationship with God. Is it simply to avoid hell? I was also forced to think about the proclamation of the gospel. Do we offer people the abundant life that can only be found in Christ or an escape plan from the flames of hell when we preach, witness, or live out our faith? Although not his best work in my opinion, it's worth reading if you have read the previous two books in the trilogy.

New Year's Eve

I don't really have time to be writing this, but my mind has been flooded with thoughts the past week. I am busily getting ready for New Year's Eve activities at the church, much of what I experienced as a youth. The start of a new year is about new beginnings in most areas of life (at least until we give up on our resolutions). For me the start of a new year reminds me of the new creation the Apostle Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians. Christ is about 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances. New beginnings are always wonderful it is to know that God's grace is big enough to offer us a fresh start when we most need it, which is anytime we seek the face of God.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Nothing is better than Christmas Eve with a 2 year old! The excitement, the joy, the anticipation are contagious. Cyd is rocking Claire to sleep as I type this, of course we have already set out the cookies and milk for Santa, read our Advent devotion and a few other books. Tomorrow morning should be fun! Hope this Christmas finds you surrounded by the Father's love and family and friends. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


This week I have talked to some friends (Todd and Renee Chambers) who live in Clanton, Alabama. Todd and Renee are special to my family because they took us in and loved us like their own family for the 3 years we served a church in Clanton. They have a very special place in our hearts. We had been thinking about them a lot the last few weeks, and then I got a call from a mutual friend with news that Todd was having to have a tumor biopsied this week. They don't know the full prognosis yet, but through everything their faith in God to use this situation for His glory has been unwavering. I have attempted to call and talk to them in order to minister to them, but like so many other times in our relationship they have ministered to me even more. I have been reminded of God's faithfulness even when we don't have faith. Thanks are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Convention

Will D. Campbell is an interesting figure in Baptist circles. I have read five of his books now, and he never ceases to amaze me with his simple, profound way of communicating. He is a remarkable storyteller. Aside from his writing he has a ministry to the hillbillies and rednecks of Tennessee where he lives. The Convention, a fictional book about the Southern Baptist Convention takes a provocative look at the power struggles within organized religion that often creeps in. The central character is Dorcas Rose McBride, a simple woman from Mississippi, who finds herself being elected as President of the convention. The twist is that she immediately resigns, while essentially referring to the convention as Babylon, void of the Yahweh. Campbell's simple story, simply told reminds the reader that the church is not about power, prestige, or position, but about living out the message of the gospel in one's immediate surroundings of life, family, and friends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Music

Cyd and I love listening to Christmas music. Someone gave us the new Josh Groban Christmas CD a few weeks ago, it is excellent! I also wanted to share about one of my favorite musicians, Bill Mallonee. I have heard two of his original Christmas songs on The Gift: A Weathervane Christmas Collection, which I highly recommend. It is probably our favorite Christmas CD ever. Mallonee has also recorded a full-length Christmas CD entitled Yonder Shines the Infant Light, which is available on Mallonee's website While you are there you might want to check out some of his other great music! You won't be disappointed in his songwriting.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Communion

I just returned from a communion service at one of the Nursing Homes here in Statesboro. I was reminded of the call upon each of us as believers to visit the sick and those in prison, help the poor, and care for the needy around us. I think we sometimes equate the needy with those who are financially needy, but a better understanding would be an inclusive definition. Meaning, we are all needy, at least spiritually speaking. We all have a longing to belong, a desire to feel connected to something or someone bigger than ourselves. This longing is a natural part of what it means to be human, because as human beings we are made in the image of God, and our hearts are restless without a connection to him. We are in fact needy...we need his touch in our lives, his presence in our days, his love in our hearts...this is the essence of what it means to be human, to be Christian.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Being God's Slave

I was struck by Mary's response in Luke 2 this weekend. I read the passage on Saturday night as a family devotion and then heard 2 sermons on it on Sunday. I wonder if I have the same heart as Mary...Am I willing to respond to God as His slave or servant, giving my whole life, not just part to the will of the Father.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Car Wash

Since it is unseasonably warm here in the Boro this week I decided to wash our cars on Saturday. This is quite an extraordinary feat since, my car hasn't been washed since we moved here 18 months ago. As I was washing Cyd's car I was having to scrap some tar off that has been on there for a long time. No matter how hard I scrubbed I couldn't get the tar off. I finally had to pick away at most of it using my fingernails, which wasn't very pleasant. Even after scraping the raised, dried tar off the side of the car there was a black stain that wouldn't come off either. It made me think about how our sin is like that tar. We try and try to scrub off our sin and the stain that it leaves on our lives, but no matter how much elbow-grease we us we can't get rid of our sin. The only way for the tar in our lives to be removed is for complete cleansing that comes only through the person and work of Christ. It is His death that scrapes the tar off our hearts and removes the stain so that we can live in a relationship with God. I'm so grateful for God's work in my life to remove the tar/sin.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Lifetime of Service and a Life of Love

Tuesday was my grandmother's 83rd birthday. She has seen many changes, good and bad, through the years. She has watched friends and loved ones come and go. She has said goodbye to many 3 year olds who had her for a Sunday school teacher. She has given immeasurably more of her life (time, talents, wisdom, and of course love) than one could fathom. I can only imagine what it must be like to teach someone in an age-graded Sunday school and then to teach their children in the same class years later. There is something to be said for longevity isn't there? Why she's lived in the same house for well over 5o years. She has watched as the neighborhood around her has changed numerous times over the years, but she has always stayed right there on the corner of 40th Street. It seems one of the greatest lessons she has taught me is the value of investing in people, in the world, in the work of God to spread the Kingdom with an eye on eternity. Meaning, what if we approached life as an investment rather than an opportunity to make investments? Surely, life is only complete when we find our satisfaction, our contentment in the sufficiency of Christ. It is only by His strength and grace that we are able to do anything worthy of being identified with Christ. Mamanon, thanks for your commitment and dedication...I know that you don't do it for any recognition, only for the King.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Story We Find Ourselves In

This weekend I finished a book by Brian McLaren entitled The Story We Find Ourselves In. Like everything else by McLaren I was stretched and pulled in new directions in thinking about faith. Some of his points and ideas I agree with, while others I don't. I did like one excerpt in a discussion that the two main characters Dan, a pastor, and Neo, an ex-pastor and Ph.D high school science teacher, have about the grand story of God, life, and faith.

"Neo, I think I'm getting it. I think this is what you've been trying to help me see since...since I first met you. Jesus was not about creating an alternative religious world so we might escape from the world of history and science and culture and all that. He was showing how God enters our history, with all its craziness and pain and confusion, how God is with us in all our cultural breakthroughs and regressions, all our constructions and deconstructions and reconstructions.
I know you've said this to me before, Neo, but for some reason, it's finally dawning on me just now: Jesus really was, and is, about saving more than just human souls after they die. He really is about saving the world-human history, creation, the whole thing, the whole process from beginning to end, as you said, from alpha to omega. So I guess what you're helping me see is that the whole idea of the incarnation of Christ is far more radical than we realize. It's not just God entering creation, and especially human history. It's God taking creation, including human history, into his heart, and declaring eternal solidarity with it. He's really with us in the...process, the story, the unfolding."

This seems to be what Paul was talking about in Colossians 1:19-20 when he talks about all things being reconciled to God through the death of Christ on the cross. What would happen if Christians began to act as concerned about the whole person and the world as we are about the souls of men and women?

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things

Well actually I just wanted to list a few of my favorite Christmas movies. Each year as we decorate our house Cyd and I watch several of these over and over again. So here's my top 5 Christmas movies...
1. It's A Wonderful Life- This is actually my favorite movie of all time!
2. Home Alone
3. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation- This is the best movie to watch as you string lights.
4. A Christmas Story
5. White Christmas- I think I really only like this one because Cyd likes it so much, but Bing Crosby singing White Christmas is pretty good.

Honorable Mentions: Elf, Mickey's Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street

Hope you get a chance to watch one or all of these this Christmas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Magi

I think some of my favorite Bible characters are the Magi, the Wise Men from the East, that visited the baby Jesus. Their painstaking journey to see this new king and bring him gifts has always amazed me. Frederick Buechner helped me to remember the foolishness of these Wise Men. It gives you pause to consider how, for all their great wisdom, they overlooked the one gift that the child would have been genuinely pleased to have someday, and that was the gift of themselves and their love (Peculiar Treasures p.195).

I have to ask myself each day if I have given myself and my love to the King.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Persistent Process of Discipleship

Okay, first off, sorry for the slight alliteration. I started running a few months ago, which is something I had never done before. I'm not the perfect runner's body type by any means. I asked a friend who is an avid runner for some advice. I told her that my goal was to run in a 5k in the fall of 2008. She said that was crazy that I could be ready to do that in January. To which I quickly protested. Training and conditioning my body to desire to run and actual run have reminded me that the process of being a Christ follower is not a quick process at all. In fact, if anything I have discovered that true intimacy with Christ is a slow process that requires patience and diligence, not unlike running. The last two weeks I have hit a wall for some reason...I get frustrated because I want to be able to run for 2 miles without ever stopping, but I can't seem to reach that goal yet. I have to remind myself that for my sake it is equally important to walk the parts I can't run for the health benefits alone. So there are days when I can run a fair amount and others where I can't but the walking/running has reminded me that just as it takes perseverance to condition your body it takes perseverance to condition your soul. The art of discipleship is not a simple three step process, a neat bullet list, or even a how-to manual...rather it is a lifelong pursuit to know God and be conformed a little more each day into the image of his son.

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Music

A few weeks ago I heard most of the new Bruce Springsteen CD while sitting in Starbucks with some students. I was impressed by the new offering by the full E Street Band. In many ways the sound is what has garnered Bruce a legion of fans over the years. Although I haven't checked out the lyrics in detail, what I heard seemed to be full of elements of faith, sin, redemption, and love.

I have heard a few of the songs off the new CD by Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. If you are like me you're thinking how could those two singers sound good together, but to my surprise they are a unique duo. Plant, best known as the lead singer of Led Zepplin, adds a gritty, soulful feel to the songs. One song entitled, "Gone, Gone, Gone" was included on a sampler CD with a free issue of Paste Magazine I recently received. Might I add a plug for Paste if you are a lover of music, movies, books, and culture. The magazine and the companion website are worth checking out at

The Gospel in a Nutshell

Several years ago I heard an illustration about the gospel that has always stuck in my mind. I think it is attributed to Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

"You are far more sinful than you ever dared imagine, but you are far more loved than you ever dared hope."

I think this sums up the essence of the Christian message of God's love for sinners like you and me.

A Redeemed Child of God

Yesterday in my sermon I mentioned a favorite professor from Mercer, Papa Joe Hendricks. He always taught his students that the most basic understanding of ourselves is as "a redeemed child of God." No matter what happens in life, good or bad. No matter what kind of achievements and accolades we earn, at the core of who we are at least in God's eyes is that phrase. I think it is becoming a new favorite nickname for myself...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Being Thankful

The craziness of family gatherings has kept me from posting anything the last few days. I wanted to list a few things that I am thankful for and encourage you to do the same.

  • Life
  • Grace
  • Cyd, my beautiful wife
  • Claire, my energetic 2 year old
  • Baby Pagliarullo (possibly Charlotte) who will be here in March
  • My family (immediate and extended)
  • Good friends
  • My Church
  • My students at FBC Statesboro
  • My former students in Alabama and Georgia
  • 2 cars that work at least most of the time
  • A mortgage cause that means I have a house
  • My education and life experiences
  • Good books and good music (both of which are means of grace to me over and over again)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Good Food and Good Friends

I took a break from studying, writing, and planning to eat dinner with the Foil family tonight. Kate Foil is the Student Ministry Intern at First Baptist Statesboro, and her family is from Macon. Her parents, David and Gina, were my Sunday school teachers while I was a student at Mercer University. They invited me over for dinner since I was in town tonight. It was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed some excellent food (by far the best thing I have eaten while being in Macon). It was wonderful to catch up and reconnect with David and Gina. They are two incredible people who are blessed with two amazing young ladies for daughters. It's amazing how much spending time with people can be so refreshing at times. The entire family made me feel special and at home. In many ways, it was like I was part of the family more so than a guest. I think I was blown away by David's prayer for my family and ministry more than anything else. Good food and good friends certainly are a blessing from the Lord. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the yummy apple crisp/pie dish that Mary Ann made for dessert! It was so good! Thanks for the food and the conversation guys.

Hail to thee, Mercer University

This morning I sat in Jesse Mercer Plaza doing some writing. I watched as college students strolled past, some quietly and methodically, others in a frenzy. Some silent and stone-faced while others were exuberant with the knowledge that they could now enjoy a few days off from school. I was struck not only by the differences in demeanor, but the differences in style, body shape, and self-expression (whatever that means). It reminded me how the church, the body of Christ, is suppose to function-many parts but one whole organism working together to bring about the completion of God's Kingdom. It certainly takes people with many different talents and abilities to accomplish the mission of the church, and for that I am thankful...after all, if everybody were like me I would go crazy!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Don't Waste Your Life

I finished Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper this morning. If you are familiar with Piper's work, then you will enjoy this book immensely. He revisits some of the key themes in his other books as he pleads with readers to not waste their life, but wholly surrender to the gospel. This was one of the most challenging books I have read in a while. It made me rethink why it is I do what I do. I am still prayerfully asking God am I doing exactly what you have called me to do or just something that is easy and comfortable for me. Piper also encouraged me to see the goodness and mercy of God afresh. The passion and intensity of his writing grips you like few authors because every word is dripping with a holy zeal for the gospel.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Guarding Your Heart

Last night I taught on Proverbs 4:23-27. This passage talks about guarding your heart for it is the center of our lives. I reread this passage a few months ago, and it has gnawed at me. If anything this is a mantra I have for working with students both for their sake and mine. I am always reminding them in all areas of life to guard their hearts. I think this is one of the greatest challenges that believers face when trying to live for Christ. It's so much easier to do our Christian thing and check of our list of dos and don'ts, but to vigilantly protect our hearts from the sin, evil, and pain of life is just plain hard. Nearly ever day I ask myself, "Are you guarding your heart?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Book Reviews

I just finished two books this week. Like Dew Your Youth by Eugene Peterson is a great resource for parents. Unlike most parenting books that offer lots of advice and how-to steps, Peterson's book is a devotional look at how teenagers and parents change as teenagers grow up. This is a great resource for parents who need to be encouraged in the battlefield of teenagers.

Lifesigns by Henri Nouwen provides a great source of encouragement and a fresh look at the themes of grace, love, and faith.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

10 Years Gone

Bill Mallonee has a song that starts out "Ten years gone and a few songs/ I'm drifting in this place/Conclusions drawn in blood are the hardest to erase."
For some reason that lyric has been circling inside my head since my 10 year reunion this weekend. It was bittersweet... I loved seeing old friends and faces, but the state of affairs for some of my classmates has been so dark that I was grieved in my heart. So many people with great potential in life who perhaps haven't realized their full potential yet.

All in all it was a great experience to see people I hadn't seen in 10 years and relive old times. I was also struck by how God was at work in different ways in people's lives. Some of them I don't know if they are even fully aware of that fact, but He is still at work in their lives and the world around them.

This weekend made me think about what I want God to do in and through my life over the next 10 years. My prayer is that it is exceedingly, abundantly more than I could imagine.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Grapes of Wrath

I have a goal of reading some of the classic American novels over the next couple of years, so I have been plugging away here and there. I recently finished John Steinbeck's classic The Grapes of Wrath. I had started this a few years ago but didn't get past the first hundred pages. This time I resolved to push through to the end. I found it to be a gripping tale of life and family and the hardships that we encounter. Near the end of the book as Tom Joad is talking with his mama about Casy, the preacher, a few lines grabbed my attention.

Says one time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul, an' he foun' he didn' have no soul that was his'n. Says he foun' he jus' got a little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain't no good, 'cause his little piece of a soul wasn't no good 'less it was with the rest, an' was whole (535).

It struck me that community and fellowship are a necessary part of what it means to be a Christian, perhaps simply to be human. God has created us as relational beings to live in harmony with Him through the cross of Christ, and to live together with each other as part of the church. The struggle for many of us is that we think we can do it all on our own. For some reason we are convinced that we don't need God in the everyday goings on of life, and we certainly don't think we need the help, support, and encouragement of other people. In the last 18 months I have especially been reminded by different people in my life that we are each part of the larger whole of the body of Christ and that we desperately need a touch from God and each other in order to find our joy and satisfaction in the Christ-centered life that we have been called to live. Thank those people around you who help to make you whole.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Girl # 2

This has been a very exciting week for the Pagliarullo household. We found out Monday that we are going to have another girl. We are so thankful that God has continued to give Cyd a safe and healthy pregnancy. The baby girl look healthy and normal according to the ultrasound pictures. Picking out a name is the next fun part. We have several leading candidates but the final decision hasn't been made quite yet. Claire is very excited to be getting a little sister! The most interesting thing has been that very few of our family and friends can believe that it's a girl and not a boy. We can't wait for you to get here baby girl!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fenway Memories

Some people would say that Fenway Park is the greatest baseball stadium in America. I would have to vigorously agree. Watching the Red Sox sweep the 2007 World Series this week reminded me of my trip to Fenway many years ago. I would imagine the intensity of games 1 and 2 was absolutely incredible, but I think my trip to Fenway was even better. I got to see the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway. I remember it like it was yesterday even though over 20 years have passed. I was there with my family for my great aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. At the time my cousin was playing 3rd base for the Yankees so we were there to see him, but the awe of being in Fenway and seeing the Green Monster was breath-taking. We were sitting about 10 rows up behind the dugout on the 3rd base side as we watched two giants of baseball history battle each other. The magnitude of that game and that stadium weren't lost on young starry-eyed kid who was just hoping to catch a foul ball. I dare say, that game was better to be at than ones in recent days at Fenway, but that's simply my biased opinion.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I couldn't pass up the opportunity to cheer on UGA after they beat Florida yesterday. It was a great game to watch. Cyd and I went to a UGA game/Halloween party/30th birthday party to enjoy most of the game. We had a great time seeing some old friends and meeting some new people as well. The afternoon reminded me of how thankful I am for how God has blessed me in life with a beautiful wife, an energetic little girl, two cars, a home, a job I love, the list could go on forever. I was also remind of how good it is to reconnect with friends from years ago. Life keeps us all too busy to see each other much, but those brief times are enough to bring a smile to my face thinking about all the fun times we had over the years. So here's to whatever triggers fond memories in your own life and to the blessings that we forget to count because we are to busy enjoying them. Oh, yeah, and GO DAWGS! SICK 'EM!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bumper Sticker Christianity

I read a book review in The Christian Century Magazine this week about preaching. Will Willimon states that Christian Preaching: A Trinitarian Theology of Proclamation criticizes much of modern preaching as being reductionist. "Everything is reduced to 'the message'-the gospel diminished to a slogan that fits on a bumper sticker." I used to say that I was going to write a book one day about bumper sticker theology, because bumper stickers try to reduce the mystery of a relationship with Jesus Christ to a catch phrase or pithy slogan. I use to work in a Christian bookstore and I would literally laugh at how cheesy some of the stickers were when we didn't have many customers. The gospel, although so simple a child can understand it, takes a lifetime of faith to explore. It cannot be reduced to a 6 word sticker on the back of your car. I wonder if we have learned to much from bumper stickers and not enough from God's Word. Alistair Begg, a Scottish Baptist preacher, once said, "American Christianity is sloganeering at its worst."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Baptist Women

Perhaps you have heard about the new concentration of courses being offered by Southwestern Seminary in Texas. The concentration is for women only and focuses on homemaking in an effort to establish family and gender roles. Seminary leaders have stated that these courses are for women who are or will be minister's wives so that they will be prepared to cook, clean, and tend to their home.

I was fortunate enough to attend a seminary (Beeson Divinity School, Samford University) that not only affirmed a woman's calling to ministry but encouraged and nurtured that calling. I was especially blessed to have a wife, who is called to ministry on her own, to go through seminary with me. We both chose the Master of Divinity track rather than the Master of Theology track, although for different reasons. I of course wanted the preaching courses that were required for the M.Div. degree and Cyd wanted the counseling courses required for the M.Div. Beeson didn't allow women the opportunity to substitute the preaching courses for other courses, and I am so thankful they didn't. Truth be told my wife is the better preacher out of the two of us, but she knows that is not her calling in ministry. Still, I am thankful that she took preaching instead of cooking because she is my toughest critic when I preach. She has the knowledge and insight to offer me, so that my sermons and ultimately my ministry is strengthened. I would not be half the minister I am without her wisdom and insight that she has gained in her own ministry and through her own education. What a tragedy to think that we would have missed out on that if we had attended a different seminary.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Family of Faith

This morning I preached a sermon entitled "Family of Faith." I talked about the crucial role that families play in developing future generations that love the Lord and serve Him. I also talked about the responsibility of the family of faith to nurture one another and model a life of faith for others. As I prepared the sermon this week, I was reminded how my biological family and my family of faith has always been a driving force in shaping me and influencing my life. I am thankful for everyone who has invested in my life over the years. I have recently reconnected with some friends from college that helped form and shape my theology and faith in unique ways...I think I am most thankful for friends, family, and fellow believers who afford me the opportunity to always grow in my knowledge and pursuit of God. The Christian church has many faults and flaws, but there is no other place on earth where you can find the grace and the freedom to follow Christ.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Look into your sad eyes and tell me what you see What is left of the child who is hiding behind them? Who longs to be laughing in places of light Who knows that the morning will follow the night? Look into your sad eyes and tell me what you see
lyrics taken from Look Over Your Shoulder by Mark Heard

My CD player in my car goes on the fritz sometimes. Well, it hasn't been working for about a month now. Unfortunately my tape collection has dwindled over the years. I do have a dubbed tape of The Allman Brothers' Greatest Hits and a copy of Mark Heard's High Noon. I was listening to Mark Heard today as I drove back from hospital visitation and the song quoted above was on. The phrase "Who knows that the morning will follow the night?" stuck in my mind. Isn't it wonderful to know that no matter how dark the night seems to be in our lives, the morning will soon follow? The simply rhythm of night and day, dark and light, reminds us that now matter what we are facing in life, God's grace will shine through the morning light.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Another Year Wiser

Papa Larry holding Claire in the hospital (right).

Graduation Day at Beeson Divinity School!
My Dad and I have always had a unique relationship. Part of that has been dictated by my parents relationship, but the thing I have learned in recent years is how important my Dad has been in my life over my 28 short years. Dad turned 60 on Sunday. As we talked on the phone, I asked him, "Do you feel older?" He replied, "No, not really. Life is good. Sometimes are hard, sad, and depressing at times, but ultimately life is good." The truth is, my Dad's 60th birthday made ME feel older. It made me realize how precious life is and how short it can be and often is.
In many ways, my Dad is a hero. I look up to him as an encourager and a supporter throughout my life. I think an important thing about heroes, is what you learn from their successes and their mistakes. I use to think that a hero is only someone you admired for their triumphs and conquests...I dare say I have learned as much from my Dad's mistakes and talked about those over the last few years. God's grace has been constantly at work in my Dad's life and in any one's life to redeem our faults and failures and use them for HIS glory. We don't get to see each other often because of our respective schedules and vocations, but my Dad has always been very influential in shaping me and my life.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

An Important Date

Saturday, I went on a date with my beautiful wife. We had about 7 hours together without our daughter. At first we didn’t know what to do without a little girl interrupting our conversations or vying for our attention, but we soon adjusted and enjoyed each other’s company. Earlier in the week someone had given us tickets, food passes, and a parking pass for the Georgia Southern game yesterday, so we decided that we would go to the game and enjoy some much needed time together. We had a blast! You sometimes forget how good it feels to relax and enjoy something. We had a wonderful time watching the Eagles defeat Western Carolina. Mostly we just enjoyed the company. Last night after putting my girls to bed I thanked God for my loving wife and the opportunity to spend an extended period of time together.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lost in America

Edwin McCain's most recent CD is amazing. It's been out for well over a year now, but it has a fresh sound each time I listen to it. It's characteristic of his folk/blues/rock mix on previous albums. He certainly has a unique voice, but I think I have been most drawn to his craft of songwriting on this CD. The title track is a catchy song that has a very pointed, even biting message in the lyrics.

The chorus goes like this: Yes, we're lost in America/And this land we're so proud of/We got the cars, the girls, the money, the drugs/ To get you out of your rut/Yes, we're lost in America.

I think he captures one of the ironies of being an American. We have everything that a person could possibly need or want in this world, but we are still lost in America. When you look around the rest of the world compared to the USA we have so many privileges, wealth, and commodities, but are all those things making our lives better and giving us a meaning and purpose for living. The common notion is that all the things he mentions: the cars, the girls, the money, the drugs are the things that fill our lives with purpose...Do they really? In spite of all those things that is American culture we are still lost, searching for something more, something that will truly meet us where we are and get us out of our rut.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Slightly OCD

Have you ever wondered why you do some of the things you do. Like for example when I leave the house with anything other than gym shorts on my lower extremities, I have a particular place for everything. My wallet goes in a certain pocket on a particular side every time, no exceptions. My wallet is a tri-fold, so it bugs me when someone picks it up or hands it back to my folded the wrong way. My keys and any loose change always go in my left pocket. My chap stick always goes in the right pocket. In addition to my chap stick the right pocket is home to any gum or mints that I might have with me. The cell phone is the thing that sometimes gets switched around, although usually it winds up in the same pocket with the chap stick and gum. I don't know if anyone else is like this in the entire world, but I can't think straight if things are misplaced and not in their appropriate pockets. The other funny thing is my chap stick. I have a dependence on this item perhaps more than wallet and keys. In fact, I have been known to turn around and drive back to the house if I have forgotten my chap stick, and a few times I actually stopped and bought a new one. So I confess I have a touch of OCD, but it keeps me normal, I think.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Claire and Catie playing at Catie's house

Today is Catie's birthday. Catie Wilkins was a brave little girl who was diagnosed with cancer on her 1st birthday. She battled the horrible disease for a long time, but she went to be with Jesus in January 2007. My family, specifically Catie's parents, Tre and Jenny have been on my mind all day today. Catie's brief but influential life has touched thousands of people around the world. She will always be remembered and missed. Jenny has a blog listed on the left of mine called midgets and moonpies that you can check out for more information about Catie. Happy Birthday Catie!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

As she was sleeping

I got to spend some time with Claire yesterday afternoon. We had fun going to run a few errands together, except she ran into a display at one start that left a bruise on her forehead. Last night we did our nightly routine of reading 3 books and then going to sleep. As we read she got very sleepy, which was wonderful because it didn't take long for her to go sound asleep. Holding her, I thought to myself, "You are so cute and adorable!" I then found myself hoping and praying that she would grow to be an incredible woman like her mother. A woman who is full of compassion, love, and forgiveness. A woman who has a heart to help people deal with the difficulties of life. A woman who longs to serve God with body, mind, and spirit. My thoughts all ran to other people who have an influence in Claire's life grandparents, students of mine from the church, family members, babysitters, teachers, and friends who all have specific qualities and characteristics that I hope she will. I am thankful for the role that all these people have in helping to nurture my little girl, but I am most thankful for the role my wife plays in simply being a mother.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Opening Your Heart

I recently finished reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. There was a scene at the beginning of the novel that captured my attention. "I returned the miniature, wondering what in the world had made him open his heart to me. That was something I never did; it was dangerous. First it was dangerous if you felt like that about anything, because then you'd never get it or something or someone would take it away from you; then it was dangerous because nobody would understand you and they'd only laugh and think you were crazy" (p. 43). There's a lot of truth to the statement that if and when we open our heart to someone it is very dangerous. It's dangerous because we make ourselves vulnerable to someone else. We essentially say to them, "Here is my heart, take it and stomp on it if you want to." Of course our hope is that they will be warm and accepting, but we aren't guaranteed that. I always tell people to guard their hearts from everyone but the lover of our souls and hearts. The only problem is that to have relationships with people we have to open our hearts enough to let them in. This dilemma leaves us susceptible to being hurt, but it seems like the only way to truly be human.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hearing God's Voice in the Rain

I woke up this morning with a list of several things to do around the house and in the yard...unfortunately the rain started coming down and has continued on and off today. Perhaps that was God's way of telling me to slow down a little bit today and enjoy time with my family and time to catch my breath. I am thankful for those periods of rest, yet I struggle to really enjoy them. Instead my mind keeps reminding me of the long list of tasks that I need to accomplish. The irony is that my list of tasks will never be fully completed because I keep adding things to it. It's kinda like when you own a house, there is always something to fix, do, repair, redo, or otherwise tend to. The discipline, dare I say the spiritual discipline, is learning to rest and enjoy the simple things in life like a hot cup of coffee or a warm conversation when the opportunity arises rather than being so focused on the tasks of life, even though those things are important. So grab a cup, pull up chair, and enjoy...God, life, and others.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Lately I have found that the pace of life we set for ourselves can be so hectic. It's important to pull aside and have moments when we can actually take a deep breath. It's easy for all of us to rush and rush and go and go until we reach exhaustion. My experience has taught me that I am more of a grouch( just ask Cyd) and less productive in life if I'm not finding sources to tap into to refresh my heart, soul, body, and mind. One of the greatest sources for me is music. Music has the power to heal, calm, rejuvenate, and generally cope with life. Let me encourage you to set aside some time to listen to that favorite CD, iTune download, or dare I say cassette and allow God to speak some truth into your life through that. We can find the truth and beauty of God in some of the strangest places if we will slow down long enough to look and listen for it. Then we are better equipped to keep up with the pace of life around us. Happy listening!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Sermon on Love

This is a title of a poem I wrote for Cyd a few years ago. I'm not sure where I first encountered the idea that her love was a means of grace for me. I'm honestly not sure that is good Baptist theology, perhaps it draws to heavily on my ancestral Catholicism or my inability to pigeon-hole myself in any one theological camp. It took me a while to realize that my theology is as much bound up in how I love my wife and how she loves me as anything else I read or hear. I think that sometimes as Evangelicals we forget that the marriage covenant one of the most powerful metaphors for our relationship with God. I have often found that the touch of Cyd's hand on my arm or the look in her eyes is as much a testament to God's grace in my life as anything else. I don't mean in some generic God's grace permeates everything, but that through her love for the Father and her love for me I am able to grasp more clearly the love God has poured out for me in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

I want to leave you with the first stanza from the poem:
Your touch means more than anything else in the world
I've heard a thousand sermons throughout my short life
None ever offer me as much hope as your dancing eyes
Raise high your banner of love o'er me till it's completely unfurled.


Thankful for Great Help

I wanted to say thank you to Kate Foil, our intern at FBC Statesboro. She does over and above what I ask her to do, at least most of the time. In the last month, I have been away on vacation one week and a conference another week. She has stepped up and proven that she has some great leadership qualities, but more importantly she has a big heart for our students. Kate pours herself into so many of our students in ways that aren't visible to anyone other than God. I also wanted to express gratitude to our praise band for dealing with some adversity this week and still turning that into a positive experience for Wednesday night. Again Kate helped them out in a big way this week. I have heard several great comments about The Gathering this week, and I know that God did some incredible things through Kate, the band, Matt K. and others. Thanks guys for all your hard work and more importantly your heart for God. Kate makes my job and responsibilities easier in so many ways, and she never stops looking for ways to impact the lives of our students. If you see her this week be sure and tell her how much you appreciate her presence at FBC.


I just got back to the Boro from a Youth Ministry conference in Panama City Beach. The conference was ho-hum, but the worship was led by Charlie Hall. He was incredible. I have heard him live one other time a couple of years ago, but it was nice to just be present in worship and not having to worry about a thousand other things going on during the service or during Sunday school. Charlie Hall has done a lot of stuff with Passion over the years, so if you are familiar with that movement then you may have heard of him, but if not check out,, and his latest CD Flying into Daybreak.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Songs, Songs, Everywhere is Songs

It's been nearly two weeks since I posted anything, which really is a long time. There are about a thousand things running through my head to comment on and/or share with you about, but it's getting late and I will try to keep it brief. I am in the middle of a series using popular songs to see what sort of truth can be gleamed from them for believers. It has been amazing to me in talking to some people in preparation for this how powerful music can be in our world and our lives. I would be remiss if I didn't specifically thank Jessie, Kate, and my beautiful wife, Cyd for their thoughts and comments about some of the songs.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Claire's 2nd Birthday

Today is Claire's 2nd birthday! We started the morning early at 7 with our normal Saturday routine of playing while we all wake up. Since it's a special day we baked cupcakes for breakfast. Claire thoroughly enjoyed licking the icing off the cupcakes (all 6 that she put candles in), so that meant that I didn't get my share of icing on my cupcakes. We had a blast celebrating birthday number 2 together as a family. It's moments like these that make you want to have 10 kids, then reality sets in. Happy Birthday Doodlebug!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Cole Trickle and the Voice of God

While we were on vacation we didn't have cable TV, Internet, or a phone. It was wonderful in one sense. So Cyd packed some movies for us in case we got really bored or one of those afternoon thunderstorms popped up. One that she packed was Days of Thunder. You are probably familiar with this Tom Cruise look at the sport of Nascar. This is one of those movies that just gets your adrenaline pumping. One afternoon Cyd and Claire were asleep so I decided to watch the movie. As I was watching a scene caught my attention in a new way. Isn't it funny how music and movies can do that sometimes. The scene is right after Cole Trickle crashes his car at Daytona and he is in the hospital being treated. As they are doing all kinds of tests to him including CT scans, he shouts out of frustration of not being able to see and not knowing what's going on around him. He says "When I'm driving I got a guy on the radio that talks to me. I can't see him but he talks to me." It struck me that the same could be said about God. We can't see God, but He still talks to us through the Bible, other Christians, His creation, and prayer. Isn't it comforting to know that even though we can't see God, He is right in the midst of our daily lives.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Do you ever get frustrated with life or with yourself or with your circumstances? I think most people would say yes that has happened to them at some point in life. The neat thing about that is that God's grace shines through the broken pieces and the cracks of our life or our situation. It's a comforting thing to know that grace is ever present in our lives and our hearts. Sometimes I think we miss the reality of God's presence breaking into our lives because we are so focused on the what, why, and how of the frustrations of life, but the good news is that He is always there. That makes my heart smile in spite of my frustration.

Christians and Culture

I have observed several instances lately of Christians who are retreating from culture rather than engaging culture. As followers of Christ, I believe we are called to be a force of cultural transformation. We are to be ambassadors of the Redeemer by redeeming the culture around us, yet it seems that too often Christians retreat away from the world for fear of being tainted with even the smell of sin. I'm certainly not advocating that we dive head first into sinful practices and attitudes...I guess my frustration is that Christ, our ultimate example, didn't shut himself off from 1st century culture, so why do we? A friend recently expressed these thoughts in more simple way that rang true with me. We don't necessarily have to be the "trendy" person in our spheres of influence, but how can we expect to reach broken and hurting people with the gospel if we are never engaging those people and the culture around us. Christ's death isn't just our ticket to heaven, it is the redemptive work of God to set all of His creation, including you and me to rights. My prayer is that I will do more to proclaim the redemption of God in our culture. Prayerfully consider joining me...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tybee Island

Last week Cyd, Claire, and I spent several days at Tybee Island for our vacation. It was wonderful to get away from the schedule and routine of life for a few days and simply enjoy God's creation, my family, and rest. We had no agenda except to have no agenda. We had so much fun playing in the sand, surf, and sun. The jellyfish were really bad, fortunately only Cyd and I got stung. Tybee is a wonderful place to go for a vacation. I remember as a kid going their and staying at my aunt and uncle's how the island has changed and grown over the last decade. There are a few constants that you should try if you make it to Tybee this year. First, The Sugar Shack, an ice cream shop, on the left of Hwy.80 just before you turn onto Butler Ave. Excellent ice cream, milkshakes, and such. The other is Spanky's Beachside. Spanky's is an institution at Tybee. Although it feels kinda run down and it's usually quite warm inside, the food is always excellent. Plus you get to see the ocean while you eat. Someone took us out to dinner at AJ's Dockside on the backwater. If you can find it, because it's smack in the middle of a residential area, it's worth it. As a side note, I saw a picture of Heather Buckley, a high school classmate. I haven't seen her in years so it was funny to see her as I was showing Claire pictures of people fishing that AJ's has posted on the wall. Last week was so refreshing and fun. I think I could get used to that type of life.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dad, Bruce, and the Resurrection

I remember as a kid listening to Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A album with my dad. I thought that it was cool that he listened to popular music. We connected through those moments riding around in the car listening to the Boss sing about life, working, good times, friends, and love in his signature voice. The funny thing is I didn't realize how much my Dad and I connected in this way until years later. I have been listening to Springsteen's Greatest Hits CD lately, and one of the lines from the song has stuck in my mind. "Well now everything dies baby that's a fact/ But maybe everything that dies someday comes back" from Atlantic City. I guess Bruce is more right than he realizes. As believers in Christ we know that everything has an appointed time or season, but we also cling to the hope of the resurrection of Christ that promises new life and the chance to come back. I know that because of Jesus' coming back on the third day that I have the promise of life eternal. My life, my body will one day die, but it will come back through the promise of the resurrection and the hope of life forever with God. Thanks Dad for turning me on to the Boss all those years ago.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Home Plate

It seems that Barry Bonds' triumph in the world of baseball went largely unnoticed. Perhaps the allegations of performance enhancing drugs are to blame. I'm not sure what your take on Bonds' new record is, but I think everyone would agree that it's cool to see such a milestone broken in this generation. It seems to me that what Bonds and Hank Aaron before him did time and time again is step up to the plate take his pitches and try to make the best out of what was there. And when it comes right down to it, that's all any of us can do. We may face difficult situations, frustrating situations, and seemingly hopeless situations but what each person has to do is step up to the plate wait for your pitches and swing for the fences. Yes, there will be times when we strike out or hit a pop-fly, but there will be plenty of times when we squeeze a triple out of a double, or make it to first on a bobbled grounder, or perhaps hit that monumental home run. Batter up!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I'm Hot!

This has certainly been the expression heard across most of the southeastern section of the country the last few days. Isn't it funny how the temperature and weather in general is so much a part of our conversations with people. If you are at all like me you are hoping for some cooler temperatures real soon, otherwise we might all melt. I suppose it could always get hotter, especially with the whole global warming theory/talk. Whatever your take is on global warming, I think we would all appreciate a little relief right now from the triple digit temperatures.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Joy of Dancing

Have you ever put on some music in your den or living room and just danced around? Most adults would probably would answer no to this question, but as kids we probably all did it. One day last week I put on James Brown's 20 All-time Greatest Hits and danced with my daughter in our den. We had a lot of fun as we danced, laughed, sang, and fell down to the Godfather of Soul singing "I Got You". Isn't it funny how we forget how much joy we can find in the simplest pleasures of life. My daughter and I shared a wonderful father/daughter moment without really expecting it to happen. I even think if the Godfather was still around I made could give him a run for his money, well, maybe not...

Celtic Spirituality and My Journey

I just finished a new book by my preaching professor in seminary, Calvin Miller. The Celtic Path of Prayer, is a great introduction to the richness of Celtic faith for our postmodern world. Miller deals with different types of prayers employed by the Celts, think St. Patrick and other early Christians in Ireland. He also draws on his own experience in recent years of employing these different types of prayers in his own devotional life. I enjoyed this book for two reasons: 1) Miller writes like he is having a conversation with him and 2) it made me even more proud of my Irish heritage. I know what your thinking, "Aren't you Italian?" Yes, but my grandmother is strongly Scot-Irish. Really though the heritage that I am most proud of is the presence and influence of the church, the body of Christ, throughout the centuries. It is because of the faithfulness of generations of believers before me that I was able to hear the gospel nearly 15 years ago. For those who I won't know or see until I leave this world, thank you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

America's Favorite Animated Family

I have a confession to make, I am a huge Simpsons fan. With all the hype surrounding the shows jump to the big screen I must admit I had my doubts as to the success and laugh factor for the movie. I finally saw the movie yesterday, and in a word "funny." Let me share a few thoughts about the experience. First, The Simpsons is not a show or movie for young children, even though it is animated. Over half of the theater was filled with children ages 4-12. As much as I like The Simpsons I don't think that it is intended for that type of audience. Here is the core of the show is a commitment to provide social, political, and religious commentary for American culture. In one sense nothing is sacred, because the show makes fun of everything and everybody including a jab at the theater audience for paying money to watch something you can see on TV for free. In the past the show has ruthlessly mocked Rupert Murdoch (media mogul buying the Wall Street Journal), and he is the big cheese for Fox the station that produces the show. Yesterday I found myself laughing not at the goofy animation scenes but at the cultural commentary. The Simpsons offers what I believe is the dominant view of America on the different issues facing our country. The writers have a way of making you look at things from a different perspective. Now, sometimes this is good and I agree with them and other times I don't.

One last thought, towards the beginning of the movie Homer and the rest of the town are in church. A scene happens and Homer quickly leafs through the Bible and says "Oh, there aren't any answers in here." That statement reflects so many people's views of the Bible and Christianity. For me that scene isn't a mockery of my faith, rather it is a challenge to boldly proclaim the only source of truth and answers, Jesus Christ, to a world in desperate need of God.

So you can either laugh at the corny jokes, or you can allow the messages in this film or any other to spur you on to make a difference for the Kingdom by consistently living out your faith.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gardening at Night

If I am not mistaken this was a title to an early R.E.M. song, but I think the phrase lends itself to a vivid picture of the gospel. I don't know what your spiritual life is like at all, but I know that in my own heart there are times when the weeds seem to grow overnight. One day life is good, God is good, and then BAM! weeds are everywhere choking the remaining amount of life out of you. That's how my front flowerbeds were this past week. I had been so busy the last 3 weeks that I hadn't had time to work in the yard like I needed to and wanted to. So I spent several hours pulling weeds. The sad thing is that I didn't get all of them because there was just too much. As I looked at my yard yesterday during the thunderstorm I realized that many of the weeds I pulled were beginning to grow back already. Isn't that how are spiritual lives are? We work hard to become close to God and then something happens and it seems like overnight we drift from that close communion with God. It dawned on me this week while I was bent over pulling weeds that our faith is just like those flowerbeds. It doesn't come easy, we certainly can't neglect it, and if we allow the weeds to go unchecked for too long they will overtake the shrubs and flowers and snuff the life out of them. Maybe this week we all need to spend some time tending our soul gardens...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Grace: The Hardest Thing to Understand

I had a conversation with a friend this week about grace. It struck me in the midst of the conversation how hard it is to accept grace in our lives. As believers we talk about God's grace and love, but really accepting that is another story. I think that most people live their lives without fully embracing the divine grace that God offers each one of us. For some reason we think that we need to do certain things to earn God's favor, or we sort of go through the motions in our Christian walk without ever really letting ourselves be still and quiet before the Lord. I believe what we need to do more often is simply to sit in the presence of the Father who loves us and cares about us so much that He would stop at nothing to have a relationship with us. The problem with grace sometimes is that we have to let our guard down and invite the Spirit into the inner realm of our lives. Thus, grace can be scary...but it's the best thing we can ever experience. May you find grace a reality in your life today and everyday.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Ragamuffin's Reflection

A few weeks ago I finished reading a book entitled The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Have you ever read a book and the content grips you so much that you find yourself rereading at some point down the road. There are only a few books that I have done that with, but The Ragamuffin Gospel is one of those books. Over the last 10 years I think I have read this book about 6 times. I tell you this not to brag, but to encourage you to check this book out. Next to the Bible it is my favorite book of all time. Brennan Manning captures the essence of grace and the relentless love of God in a way that most Christians have neglected. If you have ever felt like you just can't get your act together spiritually speaking (or otherwise for that matter) then this book is one for you. Manning reminds the reader that it is only through the grace of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians 2, that allows us to have a relationship with God. Let me share two quotes from this wonderful book as I close:

"The call asks, do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you? I believe that this question is at the core of our ability to mature and grow spiritually. If in our hearts we really don't believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross" (p.159).

"My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it" (p. 27).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Youth Week 2007

Youth Week 2007 has come to a close. We had a great week of Bible study, fellowship, food, and fun. There were many memorable moments this week. Let me share with you just a few of my favorites.

  • Jenifer Lavender and the rest of her group doing their own "Carter the Church Assistant" video. If you haven't heard about the Carter videos please check them out at and search for carter the church assistant. These were shown at MFuge the last two years. You will definitely get a good chuckle.
  • The group of older high schoolers who managed to get into the raptor center to film one of their clues with an eagle.
  • Michael DeLoach eating sardines voluntarily after everyone else gagged during Redneck Olympics.
  • Daniel Johnson's costume, at least I hope, for Redneck Olympics.
  • The boundless energy levels of middle schoolers at the lock-in.
  • 1, 2, 3, Big T! Cheer of one of the Ultimate Frisbee groups.
  • The fierce competition, just to get to sign a hubcap.
  • Good Bible study times with Pastor Nick from Savannah and Joseph Shuford.
  • Singing "Buttercup" with Joseph Shuford, Rebekah Beasley, and Laura Stubbs.
  • The overwhelming realization that I am getting to old to stay up all night long!

This week was a blast. I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Good Music

Jon McLaughlin is a new singer-songwriter making an impact in the music culture. His debut release titled, Indiana, is being released in both mainstream stores (Best Buy, WalMart, etc.) and Christian bookstores (Lifeway). Cyd saw him on The Today Show a few weeks ago singing his first single "Beautiful Disaster." She didn't know about his faith at the time but liked the message in the song and wanted to share it with the girls Bible study that meets on Monday nights. I did a quick search on itunes for his name and found the cd. I have listened to it all the way through about 5 or 6 times now and it's really great. He is an incredible songwriter and a talented musician. The lyrical content deals with major themes of life and love, but their is a strong undercurrent of the source for his thoughts in his relationship with God. If you are looking for a new cd to buy or download check Jon McLaughlin out, I don't think you will be disappointed.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Second Coming

No, I am not going to give my predictions for the return of Christ, but I did want to share some thoughts on a great book I finished last week. The Second Coming is a novel by Walker Percy. Percy was a southern novelist in a similar vain of Flannery O'Connor. If I am not mistaken he was also a Catholic like O'Connor. The novel explores some of the difficulties of life as the main character, Will Barrett copes with his wife's death, his father's suicide, his own thoughts of mortality, love, and faith. Percy offers some valid critiques of the disconnect between what Christians say they believe and how they live out their faith. "If Christ brought life, why do churches smell of death?" (p.272) This is one of my favorite lines from the book because it asks a piercing question to everyone who calls himself a disciple. The conclusion of the book brings Will Barrett full circle from being a doubter and essentially an agnostic to realizing that some of the evidences of God are the very things in front of his face everyday, like Allie, who he has fallen in love with. "Is she a gift and therefore a sign of a giver? Could it be that the Lord is here, masquerading behind this simple silly holy face? Am I crazy to want both, her and Him? No, not want, must have" (p. 360).

If you need a good novel to take to the beach or the lake with you as summer winds down, may I recommend The Second Coming. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Today is my grandfather's birthday. He's been gone for 12 years now, which is really hard to believe. I miss him a lot. He taught me so much about life and faith in subtle ways. I praise God that one day I will get to see him again. Happy birthday Papanon!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Last night Cyd and I had dinner with some friends from high school that we hadn't seen in a few years. It was a wonderful time. The meal was excellent! If you need a restaurant to try in Savannah then check out Toucan Cafe,, for an excellent meal and wonderful atmosphere. I was reminded about the sacredness of meal sharing. What really happens when you share a meal with someone is that you allow them to enter into part of your heart and life. There is a connection that I think is what the Apostle Paul was writing about when he talked about the Body of Christ. There is a natural give and take because of the flow of conversation, but there is something else that just reminds you of the community that we were created to enjoy. It was interesting that we all grew up in the same spiritual environment, but we are all at different areas now in terms of faith and life. The one thing that we did share in common was a basic faith in the living God. Our time together was warm, welcoming and sacred, reminding me of the love of God available to us all.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


I have loved being in Orlando with some students this week, but I have greatly missed my wife and daughter. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, however I am extremely thankful that I don't have to travel and be away from home all the time or for really long stretches of time. I don't know what I would do if that was the case. Cyd, I love you darling! I'll be home real soon.

4th of July in Orlando

Today I went to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL with the youth choir. It was hot, but overall a great day. We rode just about everything at the park. The funniest thing to happen today was that Jessie, one of my students TRICKED me into riding Return of the Mummy, a rollercoaster. She told me all morning that it wasn't a rollercoaster, even though she denies the fact, just to get me on it. You see, I don't ride rollercoasters so this was huge. Nevertheless, I rode, I did not chicken out. I did however keep my eyes closed for most of the ride. When the dust settled it wasn't so bad, but Jessie better watch out.

Interestingly enough, Jessie and I later had a brief, but good discussion about some theological issues.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Remembering Youth Choir

I am on a trip with the Youth Choir from FBC Statesboro this week. Being on this trip has brought all kinds of memories flooding back of Youth Choir, Choir trips, Choir retreats, mission trips that I experienced as a youth. I miss so many of those people on those trips. If you are somebody who went on choir tours with Calvary Baptist Temple in Savannah during the 90s then I hope you are doing well and that the Lord is blessing you in untold ways.

I finally broke down and started blogging.

Hello everyone. I finally decided to start blogging in order to offer my thoughts, opinions, and perspectives on life, faith, culture, and anything else that runs across my mind during the day. I hope you find it interesting and worth a few moments of your precious time. Today is July 4th! I am with our youth choir in Orlando, so today should be rather exciting. Happy 4th of July to you and yours.