Friday, March 28, 2008

Following Jesus

I read this in an online journal this week about what it means to be a Christ follower. The article touches on the The Controversy that occurred in the Southern Baptist Convention in recent decades. The commentary seems to offer critic for both sides of the argument for forgetting what being a Christian is all about. I thought it was interesting.

I think being Baptist means being Christian. In turn, I think being Christian means following Jesus Christ. I think following Jesus Christ means investing our lives in the Kingdom of God. I think investing our lives in the Kingdom of God means incarnating a concrete obedience to the teachings of Jesus and a concrete imitation of his moral practice. A key aspect of his Kingdom teachings and practice is love of neighbor, including love of stranger, “sinner,” and enemy. To the extent that Baptists forgot how to love each other, and in other ways directly disobeyed the teachings of Christ in our denominational wars, we fought the Baptist battles at the cost of forfeiting our very identity as Christians. In this sense, no one won. We all lost. Christ’s cause lost.
Doctrinal clarity is part of following Jesus. Freedom is part of following Jesus. But following Jesus is the main thing. The only conceivable healthy future for Baptists will be found in following Jesus.

Excerpted from "Being Baptist Means Following Jesus"
By David Gushee
March 2008 issue of The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Late Easter Reflections

With the craziness of having a baby over Easter weekend I didn't get a chance to offer some reflections about the cross and the empty tomb. I reread a quote from Jurgen Moltmann a few weeks ago that has stuck with me through the last part of Lent and Holy Week.

The death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology. It is not the only theme of theology, but it is in effect the entry to its problems and answers on earth. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ. All Christian statements about history, about the church, about faith and sanctification, about the future and about hope stem from the crucified Christ.

The Crucified God

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Pics of Charlotte

Hectic Pace

I forgot how hectic life with a newborn is...I'm sure it's compounded by the 2 year old running around wanting to hold, kiss, touch, "baby Charlotte."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Charlotte Olivia Pagliarullo

She is finally here. Her hair is blond in parts with a definite red tint. She is absolutely beautiful, not that I am biased or anything. She looks just like her mother! Claire loves her! All three of my girls are doing great. Praise be to God for his grace through all this!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Last of the St. Pat's Pictures

1. Claire and Mrs. Susan with some strange men we found in the park.
2. Claire and Izzy.
3. Claire and Izzy.
4. Claire and Izzy.
5. The only good picture we managed to take this year (8 days before baby Charlotte arrives).


Stevie Ray Vaughn the legendary blues guitarist from Texas who rocked the music scene throughout the 80s with his gritty, soul-stirring, Texified version of classic blues and plenty of his original stuff. He has a song entitled "Life By the Drop" that is an acoustic, stripped down song compared to his other material. The song is a reflection of friendship that has been tried by distant, difficulties, and substance abuse. One of the lines always sticks with me...God it's good to be here walking together my friend. That line and the end of the song are filled with redemption and hope that leaves the listener thinking about his or her own friendships. I am always reminded of my best friend, who happens to be my beautiful wife and the friendship that blossomed and grew through all these years, nearly 12 that we've been together. In less than 48 hours we will be parents to not only one little girl but two. Our friendship often brings to mind this song lyric because there is no one I would rather be walking through life with than Cyd. The good, the bad, the funny, the sad, the joys of children, the heartache when they hurt...the times of stress when we are both exhausted but still have parental duties to do, the times that we can slip away for a few hours to enjoy each other and the love and friendship that God has blessed us with. There are many marriages in our world that are not based on friendship, which is why I am so thankful that mine is. I guess the warning sign was that we basically dated for about 6 months but we wouldn't call it that, we said we were "just friends."

This song also makes me cherish the times that I have with other friends and the situations that I get to walk alongside them with. Friends who are getting married, friends who are struggling with life and the situations that it has brought them, friends who hurt because other friends are hurting, friends who like us are celebrating life all over again, and friends who are just trying to make it day to day. Isn't that all that any of us can do? Our hope is in God to sustain us. The catch is he does it day by day not weekly or monthly. Remember the manna that God provided in the desert for Israel. It spoiled overnight so that they would learn to trust God to provide daily for their needs. Many of my friends and I are learning that art of trusting God's not easy, but "it's good to be walking together my friends."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Resurrection

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture because it illustrates the distinction between Christianity and other religions. The cross is essential to orthodoxy, but the resurrection is our hope. It is the reason we can glory in the cross. The resurrection is the final answer to all of the schemes of Satan. The resurrection is the substance of our faith and the subject of our preaching because it is the final victory of the cross of Good Friday.

Prince Caspian

This passage in Prince Caspian struck me as an amazing description of our understanding of God.

The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all around her. She gazed up into the large wise face.
"Welcome child." He said
"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.
"Not because you are?"
"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger." (p.148)

Isn't that what growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is all about. As we mature in our Christian walk we often think that we know more about God, the Bible, faith, grace...almost as if it is a foreign language to master and learn and we almost have it all down. Yet surprisingly enough the more we grow in our faith the bigger our view of God becomes, because we realize that even with all our knowledge and depth that we only have a glimpse of God. Now we see in a glass dimly, then we shall know in full.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Papa Ted's Birthday

Cyd's dad turned 73 on Friday. As we celebrated his birthday this weekend I was reminded of the many times he has provided encouragement, a warm handshake, a home (for a few months), and always a loving heart. Isn't that exactly the way that our heavenly Father treats us. A Father full of love, warmth, grace, truth, provision, and mercy.

Follow My Example

1 Corinthians 11:1 says "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." This is my heart's cry. As I seek Christ and his will may I not be leading others to follow me and my example, but only the example of Christ. May the attitude of Christ dwell in me as Paul admonishes in Philippians 2. My only goal as a Christian should be to be more and more like Christ...that my life would point people to Jesus is my only desire. My example seems so futile and fragile but in his sovereign wisdom God chooses to use human beings like myself who are at best, a shell the grace and love of God.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More Pictures from St. Patrick's Day

More pictures from St. Patrick's Day.
1) Susan and Claire at the parade
2) One of the kissing bandits in front of us during the parade
3) Claire at Forsyth Park
4) Claire on the bench at Forsyth Park
5) Me and Claire at the parade

Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Patrick's Day Pictures

Here are a few St. Patty's pictures. The top one is Claire and Mr. Ricky at Forsyth Park. The middle one is my cousin Tasha and I one the front porch at Mamanon's. The bottom one is Claire and her daddy at Forsyth Park (notice how the fountain is dyed green).

184th St. Patrick's Day Parade

Yesterday, the Pagliarullo Clan celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Savannah with thousands of other people. This was Claire's 4th St. Patrick's Day counting the one when she was in the womb. The traditions of St. Patrick's Day in Savannah are interesting to say the least. Each year thousands of people from all over the world come to Savannah for this festive holiday. Every year at 101 E. 40th Street in Savannah my family gathers at Frannie Farkle's house for green grits, cabbage, and corn beef. We enjoy the conversations with family, old friends, and at least one or two new ones every year. This year Ricky and Susan Allen two of the other ministers at FBC Statesboro joined us in the festivities. The three of us and Claire walked to the parade and enjoyed the sights, smells, and sounds of the parade. We were standing near a group of young ladies who ran up to nearly all the marching bands and drum and bugle corps to plant a huge kiss on their cheeks. This made the parade more interesting to say the least. We then walked back along the parade route for a little ways before crossing back over to Forsyth Park to take pictures in front of the fountain. It was a wonderful day! The crowd at Frannie's was thinner (figuratively) than recent years, so it had a different feel, but it was still a reason to celebrate with friends and family and remember the life and faith of St. Patrick. I will add some pictures later!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Raising Sand

I had a gift card to Barnes and Noble so when I was in Savannah the other day I picked up Raising Sand the duet CD of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. The CD is superb. The thing that is most interesting to me about the disc is the producer T-Bone Burnett. He has produced The Counting Crows, O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack, etc. He masterfully chose two unique and very different voices that somehow compliment and intertwine in interesting ways on the CD. The studio band's efforts are excellent as well. I am reminded of a quote from Burnett who is a Christian but has influenced popular music in untold ways. "As a Christian you can either write about the light(Jesus) or what you see in the world because of the light."

Least Complicated

The Indigo Girls have a song entitled "Least Complicated" that reminded me today that the hardest people to minister to is our family and close friends because often they see the unguarded person of who we are. They see all our faults and failures. So many times we think we can let our guard down and turn off our faith and just be "normal" but really these are the people we should be ministering to more and better than anybody else because God has placed these people in our direct path of life on a daily or weekly basis. Yet I have found that for me this is the hardest ministry concept to's so simple and easy, but I'm too hard-headed to get it, I think. "The hardest to learn was the least complicated."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

St. Patrick

I started reading back through St. Patrick's Confession last night. There is so much wisdom and insight from early followers of Christ like Patrick. His passion for God and to see people encounter God is contagious. I was struck last night at his burden and passion to do what God wanted him to do, how ultimately that meant going back to the people of Ireland who had held him in captivity and sharing the love of Christ with them. "It was not really I but Christ the Lord who commanded me to come here and to stay with them for the rest of my life." It seems to me that the key to seeing people around us changed by the gospel is the willingness to invest wholly in them as Patrick did.