Thursday, July 31, 2008

The River

Cyd, Claire, and I went to part of the Ogeechee River last Thursday to swim and fish with Papa Ted and cousin Ashlyn. We had a blast! Of course Cyd caught more fish than me, but we still had fun.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

St. Louis Pics

Spiritual Warfare

I've been using The Message translation for my devotional time lately...yesterday I read part of Ephesians, you know how the last half of chapter 6 deals with spiritual warfare. I think that more often than not many Christians, myself included, forget about this reality. The cosmic forces and principalities at work around us. The death of Christ, according to the Apostle Paul has crushed all other power and authority including that of Satan, over our lives. This doesn't just mean in terms of our salvation but our daily existence as well. Nevertheless, we are in a battle for our lives each day, a battle that Christ has given us the weapons for if only we would use them.

Paul's admonition is so powerful and so encouraging that I want to leave you with that same encouragement.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Message)

10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13-18Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Interesting Quote

Since I have been gone several weeks this summer, my magazines have been piling up on my desk. I leafed through one last night for a few minutes and found this quote.

"A man's at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he don't want to. Best not to look in there." Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

As I read this excerpt I thought about a Bill Mallonee song that says, "Gotta keep a sharp eye on your heart and the company it keeps, you know the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."

Our heart can be a deceitful thing if we don't keep it in check. It's easier and safer just to examine our mind rather than search the depths of our sinful heart.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Daddy's Home

We took some family pictures after church when I returned from St. Louis. Charlotte and Claire wouldn't cooperate at the same time or I wasn't looking at the camera.

St. Louis Journal 1

Colossians 3:12-14

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

I read this passage one morning while on our St. Louis Mission Trip and it struck me in a unique way. God taught me a lot about myself on that trip. He reminded me that deep down I am a sinner still in need of a savior. I want to share with you some thoughts I jotted down that morning as I reflected on these verses. Like the beach journal entries they are unedited and raw.

"Vs. 12: We are God's chosen people because we have been adopted into his family, into his Kingdom. So Paul tells us to put on these Godly characteristics of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience...all things that we need this week.

Vs. 13: Bear with each other. Put up with each other's crap and be willing to forgive each other remembering that God in Christ has forgiven us of every stupid sin we have committed. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do but it is essential to life as a believer.

Vs.14: Over all these virtues put on love which binds them together. Elsewhere the Bible says love covers a multitude of sins. That's why God reached down and saved us. That's why as we live together as a community of faith we are called to love each other. I say I love you a lot to people, not to abuse the phrase or make it hollow but because I want people to know that even when I am selfish, stupid, and sin against them that ultimately I love them! For me, that cancels out everything else, unfortunately it doesn't always flesh itself out that way. I hate to be harsh because I don't want people to think I don't love them. Love is the greatest thing in the world, a glimpse into the heart of God, so let us genuinely love each other."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beach Journal 2

July 9, 2008 6:55 AM

I couldn't go to sleep last night and then I woke up early...I'm sure part of it was not being with Cyd (I never sleep well when we are apart.) Anyway, I decided to get up even though everyone else is fast asleep. As I sit on the balcony the sun is trying to peek through the cloud cover on the horizon. Directly below the sun is a lone shrimp boat withe its nets in the water. The struggling sun reminds me of the struggle we have in our culture of light with darkness, good with evil. The struggle to live each day with one foot in front of the other, embodying faith in Christ. This picturesque scene this morning also provides a glimpse of hope that we have as Christians. So many people in our world are without hope. Life has beat them down, circumstances have damaged them but the gospel holds forth the promise of hope. Hope in God who remains faithful in the midst of our faithlessness. Hope is the breaking dawn on Easter morning as the stone is rolled away to reveal an empty tomb not a lifeless savior. God has never promised us that life would be easy and peaceful and full of 8 hours of sleep a night, but he has promised us that he will be with us throughout all of life. He is as constant as the sun rising every morning and the waves rolling in on the shore. Our hope is not in things and circumstances but in the sovereign Lord and creator who has revealed himself through Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.

Beach Journal 1

The next few blogs are some "journal" type entries I made while on trips with students this month. This one is from July 8th, around midnight.

The beach is such a peaceful place. In the movement of the wind you can feel the presence of God. His hands wrapping around you and constantly feeling his presence. The salt air reminds me that God has called Christians to be salt and light. Salt gives things flavor and beckons to us to give meaning and flavor to our lives, to the people and culture around make a difference in the world around us for the sake of the gospel. As I sat on the beach today and watched the waves lap against the sand I was reminded of God's relentless pursuit of us. The heart of God yearns for community, for relationship with his people. This was after all the reason he called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldean. God doesn't need us but still he wants us and pursues a relationship with us. As the waves crashed on the beach, forever trying to reach the top of the sand dunes, I thought about how much God loves us, how he is constantly trying to get our attention and show us the way to the better life. A life of relentless pursuit of the kingdom. A life that is fully lived in the presence of the Triune God. Truly God teaches us a lot about himself through his creation.

This is what I first scribbled down in my notebook with a nifty spellcheck feature added, so if it rambles or is incoherent then blame it on the beach or the time it was composed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So Long, Farewell

Sunday night we said goodbye to Kate Foil. She's not leaving Statesboro quite yet, but she is stepping down from her role as Assistant Student Minister at FBC Statesboro. I have been blessed to watch the past two years as Kate has invested in the lives of our students. Kate was a middle school student at a church I interned at during college. Her parents, David and Gina, were some of my Sunday school teachers in college. Kate, you will be missed! Thank you for allowing God to use you at FBC the last two years. May the Lord continue to guide your journey and bless you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back Home

Today has been a wonderful day with my three beautiful girls! I need a little bit of rest and family time after being gone on trips the last three weeks. We slept late (7:30ish), we do have a 4 month old and an almost 3 year old. Then had a lazy morning before we rearranged furniture for a few hours. Claire and I got in her little pool in the backyard so she could swim and splash her daddy. Claire would splash around a few minutes then come up to me and hug and kiss me and tell me that she loves me...I would say it's been a great day!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Girls

I'm trying to figure out how to post an entire photo album/slideshow on here, unfortunately it has been quite frustrating. Here are a few "cute" pictures of Claire and Charlotte instead.
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Friday, July 4, 2008

Barnes and Noble

Isn't it funny how certain things and places remind you of past events and circumstances. A smell can trigger a fond memory of your childhood, or a sound can jog your mind to a special moment in your life. Just walking into a Barnes and Noble bookstore does that for me, especially an older one that has a similar setup to the one on Tom Hill in Macon, GA. Without fail, the mixture of coffee, books, and baked goods reminds me of the many trips to Barnes and Noble that Cyd and I made in college. The library was such a sterile place that didn't foster learning, at least in our minds. Plus we wanted to enjoy a coffee laced beverage as we gazed across the table at each other. Truth be told, we never really got a lot of studying done because Cyd would look at magazines and I would peruse the sale books and religious section. Perhaps we both would have had a 4.0 GPA if we had studied in the library but those evenings at Barnes and Noble (usually 3 times a week) were pregnant with great conversation. It was in those settings that we talked about our relationship with God and each other, made wedding plans, talked about culture, planned our life together, and just enjoyed the community that we were a part of (Mercer, Macon, Vineville Presbyterian Church, RUF). I guess you could say that Barnes and Noble is a sacred space for me because God taught me a lot about myself and his work in the world over cafe mochas and pleasant conversations that has forever been a part of who I am.

Out of the Darkness...

I was listening to a song by Dave Matthews the other day on my iPod and one of the lyrics caught my attention. "Out of the darkness comes light..." A simple, truthful statement. A profound statement that reminds us of creation and new creation, two biblical images helpful for understanding God's relationship with his covenant people. God brought light out of the darkness in Genesis 1. He brought Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. He brought the light of Easter morning out of the darkness of Friday's hill. He brought light, a relationship with him out of the darkness of sin. He offers us a pure heart, unstained by the muck and mire of this world. This act of new creation in his treasured creation is an ongoing process as we walk with him and find ourselves in need of his ability to bring light out of our darkness. To bring hope out of tragedy and loss. The gospel is always filled with hope...hope in the savior, hope in the resurrection, and hope that we are loved by one who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Summer Lovin'

Cyd and I had a dear friend who got married this past Saturday. Casie is one of those friends who holds a special place in our hearts even though we don't see her or talk to her that often. It was wonderful to see some other friends that we hadn't seen in a while on our trip to Augusta. Cyd and I were reminded about our own wedding and the love that we publicly proclaimed for each other 8 years ago. It's funny how going to weddings reminds you of your own marriage and the commitment that you made to your spouse. Marriage is such an important commitment that requires both spouses to decide to love each other and enter a covenant with God and each other that is sacred.

Casie and Graham, thanks for reminding us of our own commitment to God and each other as we got to be a part of yours. We love you and wish you all the best!!

The Magic Kingdom

Yesterday the Sonpower group went to Disney World for 12 hours of fun with the big cheese. I hadn't been to Disney in well over 15 years so it was an interesting day, especially since I am not a big theme park person. All in all it wasn't a bad day. A few rain showers and pleasant temperatures made the day bearable. I couldn't help but think that millions of people will come from all over the world to see Disney characters but few believers are willing to go across the street or even across the hall of their home to share the joy of knowing Jesus. What is it that attracts people to a big mouse and his friends but repels people from the Kingdom?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Girls

One of the hardest things I have to do in life is leave my beautiful wife and girls for a week at a time. I am so thankful that I don't have a job that requires me to be gone from home all the time, but it is enough that it makes me homesick for my girls. I have this thing about being apart from Cyd that makes me not sleep well. It doesn't matter if I am home and she is gone or vice versa, I just don't rest well without her beside me. Granted, I don't really get a big portion of the bed when we do sleep together, but I always rest better when she is beside me. Being on youth choir trips makes me especially miss her. It was on those trips in high school that we became good friends which eventually led to us falling in love. One of my most vivid memories from youth group activities is staying up late talking to Cyd in her hotel room in Chicago on a youth choir trip. No, I wasn't suppose to be in her room, but we weren't doing anything inappropriate. It was that night that I learned things about her that few people know. If I had to guess, it was that night that first began to stir feelings for her in my heart. It was that night that God did some work in my heart, giving me a more compassion that I ever had for another human being. It was that night with all the Deadheads (The Grateful Dead were in town playing at Soldier field, so besides our group, the hotel was full of their fans) making noise in the hallway that the Triune God was working in a small group of teenagers lives from Savannah, Georgia.

Words can't express how much I miss my girls when I am away...the cool thing is that it's like I haven't been gone after I'm home for about 5 minutes. Whenever I am away, I anticipate those first few moments after I walk in the door, the hugs and kisses, the smiles, the tears (sometimes), it makes trips go by faster when I hold onto that hope.

Cyd, Claire, and Charlotte, I miss you and love you!

Youth Ministry Essentials

There are many tools that help me in youth ministry, things like the Bible, youth ministry magazines, books, websites, etc. I'm in a list mood so I wanted to include a list of essentials for any youth trip.

1. Diet Coke
2. Gum
3. Coffee
4. Junk Food
5. Energy Drinks
6. Bottled Water
7. More Caffeine
8. Tylenol

As you can see plenty of legal addictive stimulants (caffeine containing products) are the number one essential "tool" for youth trips.