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?