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.