Monday, April 28, 2008

Earth has no sorrow, heaven can't heal

Do you ever have a song that pops into your head and stays there for days? A few days ago a song lyric that I hadn't listened to in months popped into my head and hasn't left yet. One might say that there's not much else going on in my head which is why the song keeps bouncing around...regardless I wanted to share it with you.

"Earth Has No Sorrow"
Written by Bill Mallonee for Irving Music, Inc., Allegiance Music, Russachugama Music and CyBrenJoJosh (BMI) ©1990, 1992

it's time to get the lash it's time to get the rope
sharpen the razor grab the microscope
it won't be pretty when they cut the tether
sometimes you lose your address to find your shelter
why is joy something i must steal
starving skeletons looking for a meal
out in the graveyard the church bells peal
earth has no sorrow heaven can't heal
i bought a crap detector it emptied all my savings
it's got a hair trigger feel for the slightest provocation
not there to spill blood or judge out of line
it's just a modern convenience to save you some time
johnny says to sarah as he takes her by the hand
"i hear angels 'cross that river in beulahland"the waters are cold and they're deep my friend
i'm going down down down and coming up again
i'm checking my closets since i don't know when
surely life is more than learning how to live with your skeletons
wind swing low whisper in my ears
wind swing low dry these tears

The chorus, "Earth has no sorrow, heaven can't heal" has circled my brain lately. I guess because not a day goes by that somebody doesn't share a struggle, a difficult situation, or just heartache that I think you know this situation stinks, but God is still present, still at work, bringing hope to this life and situation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I have been working may way through The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. There were two scenes in book 6 The Silver Chair that stood out to me in a unique way. The first scene is when Scrubb and Pole meet Aslan near the beginning of the book.

“I was wondering-I mean-could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to-to Somebody-it was a name I wouldn’t know-and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”
“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion. (p.23)

Isn’t that a clear picture of the way God calls us to faith in Him? The Bible teaches that because we are sinners we don’t naturally seek God and call out to him, instead we seek to indulge in our sinful habits. God has most clearly called to each of us by sending His son to die on the cross for us. It is through the work of Christ on the cross that we are able to respond to God’s calling in our hearts.

The second scene occurs when Puddleglum and the witch are talking about Narnia and Aslan. The witch has been denying that Narnia and Aslan even exist. She considers it a make-believe story. Puddleglum then defends his and the children’s belief in Narnia when he says “Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I am going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.” (p. 190-191)

As Christians we know that God is real. We know that heaven is real. We know that the world to come is going to be so much better, but even if all that weren’t true I dare think that most of us would want to live as if it was. Simply put this world is a better place if and when Christians live out their faith consistently to be salt and light, ambassadors for the sake of Christ. When we do that then we are making this world and this life better too regardless of what the next life holds, even though we know at least in part what it does hold for all those hidden in the shadow of the cross.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Thoughts on the Tongue

I have been working on my lesson for The Gathering this week and I had jotted these thoughts down after initially reading James 1:26. I keep mulling them over in my mind. Here they are unedited as they first came to me.

If I call myself a Christian but can't control my language and the way I talk, who I talk about, and how I talk about them, how can I really call myself a Christ follower? In fact my inability to control my tongue while professing Christ means that I have tricked myself into thinking that I can live however I want to live and still call myself a Christian.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hurting Others

Have you ever wondered why you can be so mean and hurtful, almost not yourself to the people you care about the most. I think that the people we are closest to in our lives are the people we let see the real person, sometimes the ugliness of our character and personality. It's at these times that we cause hurt and pain. Because we know these people so well and care about them we let our guard down and they see the real us more than anyone else, when what should really happen is that this person should never be on the receiving end of all the vileness that can spew forth from our heart. Even as you say things you realize the hurt they will cause and wish beyond all shooting stars that you could take them back. I don't know who in your life seems to find the poisonous darts of your heart, but I know that it breaks my heart when the people I love and care about wind up on the sharp end of my tongue.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Donald Miller writes, "I think we can think nobody is affected by our actions, by our habits, but they are. We aren't independent creatures, you know. We are all connected." (To Own a Dragon, p.141). I have been reminded in recent days that our actions good or bad have a greater reach and impact than we sometimes realize. As humans and as Christians we must ever live with the foundation that we are called to live in community by the God who made us. This means that no choice or action can be isolated. The choices that you and I make aren't going to influence just our day and our life, they are going to influence countless others around us. It's this tension that keeps us living lives that honor Christ at times, not because that's always our first choice, but because we know that other people are watching us...seeing Christ or not seeing Christ in us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Comfort Music

Do you have comfort music you listen to? You know the kind of music that you listen to when you are stressed, worried, overwhelmed, happy, joyful, or just about any other emotion you could think of. There are two artists that fit that mold for me. Bill Mallonee, a singer-songwriter from Athens, GA, and The Allman Brothers Band. I have written about Bill Mallonee several times, so I'll share some thoughts on The ABB. Their music is inspiring to me. The complex instrumentality of slide guitar, percussion, gritty vocals, and thumping bass make their music hypnotic. The Brothers are a source of peace and calmness for me when life is not, and they are a source of energy when I need it. Monday was a rough day in many ways, so what did I do...I turned on The ABB and "with the help of God and two friends, I've come to realize, I still have two strong legs and even wings to fly, so I ain't waistin' time."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Conversations in the _________(you fill in the blank).

Have you ever been in a situation where you were trying to help someone or be there for someone, perhaps minister to someone in need or hurting, but found that you got more out of it than they might have. What I mean is you got as much out of the situation as the person you were attempting to help. That happened to me today...twice actually. The first was visiting someone in the hospital as they awaited possible surgery. The faith and trust evident in that person's life was amazing to say the least. It makes you think about how we get caught up with trivial things all day long, and lose sight of some of the most precious moments and ultimately miss glimpses of grace in our lives and the world around us. The second was one conversation in particular, but really several I had today, some brief, some not so brief, that reminded me how thankful I am to have those people in my life. Conversations shared in the midst of a hectic day, a noisy coffeehouse, through a phone as both parties are working on other things, and at the end of long day after getting children put to bed bring joy, hope, and peace. It's not necessarily the conversations themselves, but the relationships they represent that like the sunrise coming up on the lake on an early morning fishing trip, remind us of God's goodness and love. I am thankful for the conversations, the people they represent, and the God who makes it all make sense.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Few, The Proud, The Marines

Nathan, Cameron, Heath
Me and Nathan
Me and Nathan
Me and Kelsey Deason (A former student)
Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the Marine Corps Depot at Parris Island, near Beaufort, SC. Two of my former students where graduating from the Marine Corp. I was extremely proud of Heath Scott and Nathan Holsenback. These two young men are examples of bravery, honor, and Godliness. It was amazing for me to get to see two young men who I met years before reach that level of maturity. I am very proud of both of these guys. While there for the graduation exercises I got to reconnect with students I hadn't seen in nearly two years. Yesterday was a wonderful feeling for me to see how God is moving in the lives of students. OORAH!

Once Upon a Time...

Twelve years ago tonight I asked a beautiful 17 year old high school senior to marry me. A bold move for sure, since we hadn't been dating yet. I still remember the scene: sitting across from one another on the dock at my parents lake house on Clark Hill. I remember the emotions, the energy, the fact that Brian was ticked that we walked down to the lake by ourselves. The late nights spent talking that week of Spring Break. Both of us naive to what the world had in store for us and how are relationship would grow and unfold. In one sense, I can't believe it has already been twelve years since Cyd and I first became a couple, yet strangely it's hard to remember what life was like before her. I guess that happens when you have spent more than a third of your years with the person you most love. We never went through periods of on-again/off-again like some of our friends. We never even broke up. We knew that God had brought us together and that was the bedrock of our commitment to each other. I was talking to a friend today who recently lost her mother, she said that her parents had been married for 68 years. I can only hope and pray that Cyd and I are blessed with that many years together. Sometimes, it's funny to think about the way God has shaped and molded us over the last twelve years, individually and as a couple. God has used circumstances of all kinds to make us more like Christ.

I guess the hardest part of meeting your spouse and knowing it when you are 17 is that if you are a youth minister like me it makes for interesting discussion about dating and relationships!

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Lesson in Life

I've mentioned before about how much I am enjoying the Robert Plant and Allison Krauss CD. One of the last songs on the disc has a line that says, "Let your loss be your lesson." The song details the loss of the love of a woman, but I couldn't help but think that this really is a universal truth. We all suffer loss of some kind, the thing that you have to remember is to learn from those losses. The difficult thing for me is not recognizing the loss, but grappling with what it is that God is teaching me through that loss. The lesson is always there, resting dormant like the alien life form from X-Files, but am I going to learn from it? Am I going to become a better person as a result of it? Am I going to grow wiser from my lesson in life?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dan In Real Life

Cyd and I had a date night a few weeks ago before Charlotte was born. After a great meal complete with fried pickles at Gnat's Landing we decided to rent a movie. We ended up with two, one of which was Dan in Real Life, starring Steve Carrell. This movie was entertaining just to watch Steve Carrell in action, but it also had a cute, predictable plot. The aspect I enjoyed the most was watching a single dad trying to raise 3 teenage girls and all of the headaches that come with that world. The funny thing is that he's not so great raising his girls, even though he writes a parental advice column for a living (isn't that usually the case). For a cheesy love story and a few laughs you might want to check it out the next time you are at the video store. There are a several instances of innuendo, but otherwise a fairly clean movie by today's standards.

What is Spiritual Theology?

I believe this is a great question. I remember having numerous conversations with seminary classmates about theology, spirituality, and ministry in the "commons" area at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University. I was always struck by the sometimes abstract way of approaching the Christian life. Many of my friends had their theology set and categorized like a card catalog at the public library, with no practical involvement in the life of a local church. They could quote giants in the realm of theology, but they couldn't love someone who said they had no time for theology between soccer practice, cooking dinner, and bathing the kids. I remember getting so frustrated because some of my fellow classmates failed to see the vital connection between what we believe and how we live. The idea of spiritual theology is understanding that the Christian life, how we live out our faith is not a balance of theology and living, but an loosely intertwined ball of yarn that contains our theology(what we think about God) with our everyday lives. Eugene Peterson says it this way, Spiritual theology is a pair of words that hold together what is so often "sawn asunder." It represents the attention that the church community gives to keeping what we think about God(theology) in organic connection with the way we live with God (spirituality). (Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places p.4)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Man to Man Defense

One word could describe this past week…wow! The first week home without any grandmothers has been quite an adjustment at the Pagliarullo house. Claire is adjusting fairly well to Charlotte’s presence. We haven’t caught Claire putting her in the garbage can or throwing her out the back door, yet. The pace of life between new baby, revival meetings, and my new found love of housekeeping has been exhausting. It’s a good kind of tired though. A kind of tired that makes you sleep well at night and feel satisfied with your accomplishments. All in all life with two kids is not bad at all, tiring but very good. The biggest difference is that instead of being able to double-team one child we now have to play man to man defense. I’m not quite sure if I want to go to a zone defense, but we shall see.


Today is April 4, 2008. My youngest cousin, Bailey Victoria Skinner would have been 18 today. She would have been getting ready to graduate from high school in the next few months. She died just before her 2nd birthday from a cancerous brain tumor. This week is always a difficult week for my family. Bailey you are loved and missed.

I Have A Dream

Today marks 40 years after the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a name synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement in America. There’s a James Taylor song of which I can’t recall the name, but it starts out “Let us turn our thoughts today, to Martin Luther King and recognize that we are all men and women, living on the earth, ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood.” One could debate how powerful and influential the life and legacy of Dr. King would have been had he not died tragically, his life cut short, but I think the reality is that in his death he accomplished more for the cause of justice and equality than anyone would have ever thought. The challenge for me and perhaps you today is to continue to embody the principle of racial equality in my daily life. Dr. King’s dream of harmony and peace are not something I strive for because of his influence or other leaders of the Civil Rights Era, but because it is a matter of biblical faithfulness to live in harmony with people regardless of racial or ethnic differences. At times I am confronted with the sin of racism that creeps into my own heart and life…it is then that God reminds me that “we are all one in Christ Jesus.”