Friday, February 29, 2008

Odds and Ends

Today is February 29th, which means it is leap year. Four years ago I was ordained as a minister by my home church, Calvary Baptist Temple in Savannah, Georgia. Kinda neat to think about that since technically that day only comes around every 4 years. The other thing is that Claire has been wanting to hide Easter eggs the last two days. She got a new bunny basket from someone Wednesday night at church, so I think that got her in the mood. We are counting the days till Charlotte comes, only 3 weeks!


Cyd and I have been sick most of this week. We have been taking turns taking care of each other as the sickness ebbs and flows. Thursday and today I stayed home to rest and try to shake this nasty cold. As I was doing some work this afternoon I was listening to a Ben Harper CD. A song that captured my attention is entitled “Forever”. The message of love and marriage in this song captures the longing of so many people to find someone to be with forever, yet so many times even among Christians, marriage is only temporary. Sin enters the picture and marriages crumble. That was never God’s design or intention for the marriage covenant. His intention always has been and always will be…FOREVER!

Ben Harper

Not talkin’ ‘bout a year
No not three or four
I don’t want that kind of forever
In my life anymore
Forever always seems
To be around when it begins
But forever never seems
To be around when it ends
So give me your forever
Please your forever
Not a day less will do
From you

People spend so much time
Every single day
Runnin’ round all over town
Givin’ their forever away
But no not me
I won’t let my forever roam
And now I hope I can find
My forever a home
So give me your forever
Please your forever
Not a day less will do
From you

Like a handless clock with numbers
An infinite of time
No not the forever found
Only in the mind
Forever always seems
To be around when things begin
But forever never seems
To be around when things end
So give me your forever
Please your forever
Not a day less will do
From you

©1992 EMI Virgin Music, Inc./Innocent Criminal

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Selfless vs. Selfishness

A few weeks ago I taught a young couples Sunday school class on the topic of being selfless vs. selfish. As I was running the day before I taught the lesson I heard the Dave Matthews Band song “Seek Up” on my iPod. Some of the lyrics in that song hit me in a different way than all the other times I had heard them. I share them hoping that you find something for yourself in them.

“Seek Up”

Sit awhile with TV’s hungry child
Big belly swelled
Oh, for a price of a coke or a smoke
Keep alive those hungry eyes
Take a look at me, what you see in me,
Mirror look at me
Face it all, face it all again

Look at me in my fancy car
And my bank account
Oh, how I wish I could take it all down
Into my grave, I’d save
Take a look again, take a look again,
Take a look again
Everyday things change,…stay the same

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I've Had Questions

It seems like many people in my life are struggling with different things. Some are clinging to life in the final hours and days, others fighting with everything they've got and more to keep living. Still others dealing with hurt and pain from friends and loved ones. Our youth praise band has been doing a song entitled I've Had Questions lately. The words have brought some comfort to my heart and mind today, perhaps you can find some as well.

When hope is lost, I'll call you savior
When pain surrounds, I'll call you healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart

In the lone hour, of my sorrow
Through the darkest night of my soul
You surround me, and sustain me
My defender, forever more

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Baptist's Theology

I just finished A Baptist's Theology edited by R. Wayne Stacy. This brief theological thome offers perspectives on different Baptist distinctives from leading Baptist thinkers. The greatest insight this book offers is the reminder that theology from the Baptist perspective is rooted in the soul competency of the believer. That doesn't mean that theology should be done solely on an individual's perspective but rooted in the life of the body of Christ.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wisdom from a Friend

My friend Allison is in Germany as a missionary teaching school. This was in her last email. She also posted it on her blog, but I really felt like this was a better explanation. It touched my heart when I read it this afternoon. Hope you enjoy.

"This morning my friend Délice was talking about a song by Sara Groves "Painting Pictures of Egypt." It talks about how sometimes when we're in a new situation we sometimes yearn for the comfortable and familiar surroundings of what we used to know. If you remember, the Israelites were like that when they left Egypt and wandered in the desert. They started to complain to Moses that things were better back in Egypt. Somehow they left out the part about how they were enslaved to Pharoah and the Egyptians! I've been moving around my whole life, starting from the time I was 15 months old. I can't tell you what it's like to live in the same house your entire life or even live in the same town (or I guess country for that matter as well!) for your whole life. I love the feeling of moving somewhere new, and yet, when the going gets tough or just the slightest bit uncomfortable, I start wishing I was back somewhere else, forgetting that at that time and point of my life, things might have been even more miserable and unsettling then they are now! I downloaded this song on iTunes and it has become a new favorite. I wanted to share the lyrics with you because I know that some of you reading this are about to go through some major transitions as well or maybe you're reading this and there's a major transition ahead that you don't know about (because isn't that the way God loves to work!). Just remember, like this song says, God has changed you from the person you WERE into the person you are NOW. And that person you were 10 years ago (or even one year ago) couldn't do what you're doing now or live where you're living now or work where you're working now. God has us all where He wants us for the season and time He wants us there.
Love, Allison

"Painting Pictures of Egypt"
by Sara Groves
I don't want to leave here I don't want to stay It feels like pinching to me Either way And the places I long for the most Are the places where I've been They are calling out to me Like a long lost friend It's not about losing faith It's not about trust It's all about comfortable When you move so much And the place I was wasn't perfect But I had found a way to live And it wasn't milk or honey But then neither is this I've been painting pictures of Egypt, Leaving out what it lacks The future feels so hard, And I wanna go back But the places that used to fit me, Cannot hold the things I've learned Those roads were closed off to me While my back was turned The past is so tangible I know it by heart Familiar things are never easy To discard I was dying for some freedom But now I hesitate to go I am caught between the Promise And the things I know I've been painting pictures of Egypt, Leaving out what it lacks The future feels so hard, And I wanna go back But the places that used to fit me, Cannot hold the things I've learnedThose roads were closed off to me While my back was turned If it comes too quick I may not appreciate it Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?And if it comes too quickI may not recognize it Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?"
Allison Stroud4th and 5th GradesRhein Int'l Academywww.allisonraestroud.blogspot.comPhil. 4:11

Friday, February 15, 2008

Winter Retreat

I am frantically getting ready to leave at the crack of dawn in the morning for our High School Winter Retreat. Be in prayer for our students and adults as we travel. Also pray that God uses this weekend in an awesome way for us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Georgia Day

Today is February 12, Georgia Day. Today marks the founding of Georgia by General James Edward Oglethorpe in 1733. Although many folks who live in Georgia are aware of this significance, I think it's important to remember our heritage and history. Savannah has the biggest celebration since it was the first settlement of Georgia. I remember as a kid anticipating the year I would get to march in the Georgia Day parade in Savannah. As a 5th grader we would dress in colonial garb or native american attire to march through the squares of Savannah. The squares are of course unique in that Oglethorpe was the one who mapped out the idea for the city to be built around squares, to promote more community among the settlers. In honor of Georgia Day, I recently read a biography of Olgethorpe that was fascinating. He was an interesting fellow. He had a significant and lasting impact on Savannah and Georgia. Happy 275 Birthday!

Valentine Supper Club

Sunday evening was our annual Valentine Supper Club. We had a wonderful time of fellowship, entertainment and food. Our youth did a fantastic job serving tables and decorating for this event. I am always amazed at how willing teenagers are to serve other people. True, sometimes they need a little motivation, but nevertheless they are willing to help and serve wherever and whenever they can.

Georgia Southern Tragedy

Sunday afternoon was a day of tragedy for the Georgia Southern community as two Kappa Delta sorority sisters died in a car accident on I-16. A third young lady is in critical conditon in Memorial Medical Center in Savannah. The Statesboro and GSU communities have rallied around the families and friends as together we try to deal with this event, trusting that God is still in control. Here is a link from The Augusta Chronicle with more details, Please continue to keep the families of Melissa Eustice and Jessica Fulmer in your prayers. Also pray for Jamie Carter as she continues to fight for her life.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What are we Mastered by?

In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul encourages us not to be mastered by anything other than Christ. How hard it is for us to reach the point where we can say we are not mastered by anything. The immediate context of this passage deals with sexuality, specifically peversions of God's idea of sex within the context of marriage. We don't have to look very far to see that people allow all kinds of things to be their master. Sex, food, money, alcohol, tobacco, material possessions, power, fame, etc. According to Paul, the problem isn't those things in and of themselves, for everything is permissable but not beneficial. It is when we yield to the control, to the mastery of those things in our lives that we find ourselves in trouble. Being mastered by alcohol can destroy the lives of family and friends not to mention your own. Being mastered by food can destroy your body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Being mastered by sex can lead to an unhealthy view of other people because we become so enamored with the physical act that we loose sight of the spiritual connection that takes place. When sex degenerates into just the physical act we (humans) cease to be human and become animals. We objectify others and view them as only bodies for our pleasure...a complete rejection of the divine gift of sexuality. I so want in my own life to be able to NOT be mastered by anything save Christ.

William Wilberforce

A few weeks ago I finished a biography of William Wilberforce entitled Hero For Humanity. This marvelous book by Kevin Belmonte tells the story of William Wilberforce and his journey of faith, particularly his efforts to abolish the British slave trade. If you are fan of biographies then you will enjoy this book. Wilberforce truly is a hero for humanity. His passionate faith was the stimulus for his life-long battle to see the slave trade abolished. He spent untold hours, monies, and energy toward that end. One of the most intriguing aspects of his life is that after his conversion to Christ he had suffered greatly through political turmoil that he contemplated retiring from public life. There is a hint that Wilberforce felt that he could do more good in full-time ministry than in politics. John Newton, the composer of Amazing Grace, was a personal friend of Wilberforce who wrote a letter to him encouraging him to stay the course.

Nor is it possible at present to calculate all the advantages that may result from your having a seat in the House at such a time as this. The example, and even the presence of a consistent character, may have a powerful, though unobserved, effect upon others. You are not only a representative for Yorkshire, you have the far greater honour of being a representative for the Lord, in a place where many know Him not, and an opportunity of showing them what are the genuine fruits of that religion which you are known to profess (p. 136).

You can check out the publishers website for more information on the book at

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

If A Song Could Be President

If A Song Could Be President
If a song could be president We’d hum on Election Day The gospel choir would start to sway And we’d all have a part to play
The first lady would free her hips Pull a microphone to her lips Break our hearts with Rhythm and Blues Steve Earle would anchor the news
We’d vote for a melody Pass it around on an MP3 All our best foreign policy Would be built on harmony
If a song could be president We’d fly a jukebox to the moon All our founding fathers’ 45’s Lightnin’ Hopkins and Patsy Cline If a song could be president
If a song could be president We could all add another verse Life would teach us to rehearse Till we found a key change
Break out of this minor key Half-truths and hypocrisy We wouldn’t need an underachiever-in-chief If a song could be president
We’d make Neil Young a Senator Even though he came from Canada Emmylou would be Ambassador World leaders would listen to her
They would show us where our country went wrong Strum their guitars on the White House lawn John Prine would run the FBI All the criminals would laugh and cry If a song could be president

-->Copyright 2007 Over the Rhine

Since today is Super Tuesday I thought this song was appropriate to post. Again I can't stop listening to Over the Rhine. Maybe there's a little bit of truth in this song.

Last Night On Earth Again part 3

"I told Jesus he could have my heart/ He said, What kinda shape's it in?/ Help me, it's our last night on earth again."

Like I said before, I can't seem to get away from this song...The lyrics own my heart right now. This selection seems to me to characterize the way so many churches and so many Christians look at people who are broken and struggling with life. Maybe not intentionally, but the message that so often is communicated to people outside of the church is that they have to have their act together and their lives straightened out before we will allow them to come to Jesus. The reality of the gospel is that Christ loved us while we were still screwed up and messed up beyond all recognition of what God intended. No matter what the shape of our heart, Jesus offers us hope even when other Christians and segments of the church mistakenly think they have a monopoly on grace.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Swingsets, Theology, Tools and Instruction Books

I was playing outside with Claire when I got home this afternoon before I left again to go to Bible study. She was enjoying her swingset that Santa brought her. As I watched her play I remembered that the experience of putting it together was a revelation of sorts to me. I am not the kind of man who tries to put something together without reading the instruction book first. I am the complete opposite! I read the entire instruction book at least once all the way through before I put A and B together. As I put together the swingset over a month ago now, I realized that I approach my faith and my theology the same way. I don't talk through things, I read through things. Reading other people's stories and their perceptions of God and faith and especially their theology is what pushes me and challenges me to grow in my own theology. I don't believe that our theology is ever permanently set, because theology is "thinking about God". If it were completely set and finalized then I would know the whole counsel of God, therefore making me God. I clearly am not God, so then my theology must always be willing to grow and develop as my understanding of God, the Bible, and the life of discipleship continues to grow and develop. I say all that to make a point, I promise. The point is that my theology doesn't change by reading something one time or one author's perspective. For me theology develops as I read something in multiple sources or have conversations with people were the theme comes up. There is a process of incubation that theology must endure for me before I either accept it or reject it. My hope is that my theology never becomes stagnant. That is not to say that ever new fad or trend in theology is what I will readily accept, but it means that I recognize that God is God and I am not. The Bible is His written revelation of himself, but my comprehension and understanding of God and His ways is by no means complete.

Date Night

Friday evening I surprised Cyd with a date night. I pretended to invite company for a relaxed dinner, but when the guest arrived they handed Cyd a poem explaining the "sudden" change of plans. It was wonderful to have a few hours together away from the house. We decided to check out Statesboro's First Friday festivities. We actually only went into one store before making our way into Statesboro Brews. This is a fairly new (year or less) restaurant in Statesboro. The atmosphere was unique. The upstairs that looks down on Main Street is a piano/martini bar. We enjoyed some wonderful conversation, great music, and exceptional food. Cyd tried the crab cakes, which were good, but not quite as good as the shrimp and grits I feasted on. If you haven't tried Statesboro Brews yet you might want to check it out next time you have a free evening. We proceeded to a local bookstore and a local coffee shop for dessert and intense game of checkers before returning home. It was a wonderful evening in so many ways.

Friday, February 1, 2008

New Baptist Covenant

This week in Atlanta, Georgia. Baptists of many different backgrounds and persuasions gathered to address issues that are demanding the church's attention. I only offer the information and the website,, for you to make up your own mind about direction of this group. Several key Baptists who participated include: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and John Grisham. You may not agree with some of the people and groups who participated, but the many of the issues they are trying to address can no longer be ignored by millions of Christians across denominational lines in America.