Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Hard Place to Be

As I have traveled the last 10 days or so of life as a youth group, church, and community has been touched by the tragedy of losing a young person I have been renewed constantly by little things that have allowed me to sense God's presence in the midst of heartache. One of the passages of scripture I read in my quiet times was from 2 Samuel, where David mourns the death of Saul and Jonathan.   
 24-25 Women of Israel, weep for Saul.
      He dressed you in finest cottons and silks,
      spared no expense in making you elegant.
   The mighty warriors—fallen, fallen
      in the middle of the fight!
      Jonathan—struck down on your hills!
 26 O my dear brother Jonathan,
      I'm crushed by your death.
   Your friendship was a miracle-wonder,
      love far exceeding anything I've known—
      or ever hope to know.
 27 The mighty warriors—fallen, fallen.
      And the arms of war broken to bits.

I admit I have waves of hope in the glorious resurrection at one minute and waves of questions and perplexity, then I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote about Corinthians,
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body" (2 Cor. 4:8).

As I have processed my own grief, I have had quotes from authors and musicians swirling in my cluttered, noisy head. Below are two from Bill Mallonee that have particularly been brought to the light.

From "Double Cure"
bet you all have got a story
you're just aching to tell
haven't we thrown our coinage
down the wishing well

so go and call your neighbor
proceed with all due haste
go grab your wife and sweet family
see there is no time to waste

we're gonna drink out of that fountain
on a hill called double cure
i wanna show you my allegiance Lord
yes i wanna be a son of Yours

ask me why i love Him
He gave riches to this poor
yes and i will one day see that face
over yonder shore

From "Losin' It"
climb the tower with me tonight
speak long with the wind
let your laughter drown my sorrow
let an age of hope begin

loyalty is not a word
heard 'round these parts these days
love gets drowned in a pool of tears
i'm drunk on anyway

hold me tight
God i'm losing it
hold me tight
i'm confusing it

job lost all his daughters
job lost all his sons
lost all his crops and his animals
each and every one

still i know whom i believe in
and persuaded He is able
to keep track of all the cards
laid out on my table

oh please don't get upset
you know these means of grace
have never failed me yet

I have said many times over the last few weeks, actually over the last year as we have tried to figure out life without Cyd's dad. (Charlotte saw his picture on the computer yesterday and said, "I miss Papa.") I don't understand death, loss, mourning...I know that ultimately God is sovereign and that he will never forsake his people. I cling to that promise! I grip it tighter than the tightrope walker's foot on the wire, because at the end of the day, the mystery of life and it's brevity is something than I can only understand in a limited capacity (through a glass darkly), but one day, believers in Christ will know and experience God's glory FULLY!! Until then, I know that my redeemer lives and that he alone is my source of comfort, hope, strength, and peace!

What is it that you are THANKFUL for?

Not to be to typical of the holiday week, but I have found that periodically taking inventory of the people (past and present), things, and opportunities that I am thankful for gives me a proper perspective of what life really is all about. Last night, Claire, Charlotte and I watched White Christmas together for a little bit, my favorite song is actually "Snow" but I was struck by the one that Bing Crosby sings to Rosemary Clooney when they encounter each other in the kitchen for a late night snack. "I count my blessings instead of sheep," my that's something I could do more of in my life. God has so richly blessed me with life, health, and salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ! He has showered me with people whom I love and who love me, like my beautiful wife and beautiful daughters! That doesn't even include the fortunes of a great, although slightly dysfunctional at times, family. I couldn't forget the wonderful friends that I have particularly, my colleagues in ministry at FBC Statesboro and others involved in ministry at different places. Something I have become even more grateful for is the wonderful church family, especially my students and youth parents that are so incredibly gracious to my family and a blessing beyond words! Certainly I would be remiss without acknowledging the blessing of a home and at least one car that works!

What is it that you can thank God for today? This week? Next week? Each day?

Seth Godin on Vocation

Some great thoughts about vocation/calling for anyone who is employed! http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/11/reasons-to-work.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fsethsmainblog+%28Seth%27s+Blog%29

Monday, November 15, 2010

Divine Interruption

Our pastor, John Waters (see his blog Until Sunday to the right) has been preaching a series on this theme. Yesterday's sermon dealt with suffering, something very present in our church and community in the past 36 hours. One of our college students who had grown up in our church, passed away in the early morning hours of November 14, after being in car wreck. Luke Anderson, touched so many lives in our church and our community, so the entire service was incredibly timely, amazing how God works that way, isn't it.

Luke was an incredible young man, who I got to know as a student and more recently, as a friend. My heart aches for his family and his many friends. I confess this has shaken me more than I could have ever thought possible.

As I was reading this morning, I came across these words from Henri Nouwen, "Make the conscious choice to move the attention of your anxious heart away from {the} waves and direct it to the One who walks on them and says, 'It's me. Don't be afraid.'...Look at him and say, 'Lord, have mercy.' Say it again and again, not anxiously but with confidence that he is very close to you and will put your soul to rest."

I miss you Luke!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What is God's Will?

That is an age old question for many people. Men, women, boys, and girls are all asking, "What does God want me to do with my life?" What am I supposed choose for a career? Who am I supposed to marry? Should I change jobs to spend more time with my family even though it means less income? Where does God want me to go to college? Who am I supposed to date?

The great question is what is God's will or purpose for my life?

After working with teenagers since I was a teenager myself (roughly 13 or so years) I can't count how many times I have heard this question or some variation of it.

In reading John Stott's The Radical Disciple, says "Christlikeness is the purpose of God for the people of God" (31). No matter our station in life, our career, our relationship status, our achievements...no matter what we do, where we go, our purpose in life as Christians is ALWAYS Christlikeness!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Operation Medicine Drop

This Saturday is the first in a series of planned Medicine Take Back events entitled: Operation Medicine Drop.

Between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM you can drop off your unused, unwanted, or expired medicine at four locations. The first 20 people will be registered for a drawing for a gift card.

Prescription and non-prescription pills can be a hazard to others and the environment if they are not properly disposed of, so be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet and keep our community healthy and safe!

You can drop of your medicine at the following locations:
  • McCook's Pharmacy
  • Walker Pharmacy in Brooklet
  • The Prescription Shop
  • Forest Heights Pharmacy

Please contact Spencer Beckum at: sbeckum@bulloch.k12.ga.us  or 912.764.9954 for more information.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Park

Beautiful day to go to the park! After I picked up the girls we headed over to slide, run, climb monkey bars, and laugh. The only problem was they didn't want to leave.

Claire's Art Show Debut

Friday, November 5, 2010

To Love and Be Loved

I had a conversation this week, with someone I consider to be a friend although life finds us at vastly different stages of our faith and life journey. As he was sharing his thoughts about a few things he remarked that we (humans) have this innate desire to be loved and to love. Jesus reminded the religious expert what the sum of all existence was in Luke 10, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.  And love your neighbor as yourself." Mark Heard, a pioneer in Christian music said, "All she ever wanted was to love and be loved."

How are you and I doing with these two things in our individual lives? What about our churches? What about our small groups/Sunday school classes? What about in our marriages and our families?

Perhaps when we realize that the greatest thing we can experience in life is God's rapturous divine love, expressed most clearly in the cross and the empty tomb can we begin to live life as God intends for us to. To love our God and to love others...deeply!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Obama Post Election

I caught a little of President Obama's news conference while I was home for lunch today. It could just be my lack of political prowess, but he seemed to really sound like a Republican on many issues. I am sure part of that rhetoric was fueled by the results of yesterday's election.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

I am beginning to think that April 15 is not the most dreaded day in the lives of millions of Americans...rather it is every day leading up to election day that is inundated with political ads and promises and disclaimers. It seems the mud-slinging this year has been the messier than any of my years as an eligible voter. I will be glad when the dust settles and we can move on to complaining about how the elected officials, whichever party they may represent, are not doing their jobs!

Seriously though, I have a bumper sticker in my office that says, "God's not a democrat or a republican!" Perhaps it is a good reminder that regardless of our view of wars, economy, education, and how best to achieve our desired end, the only hope for hearts and lives to be changed is not in politicians, amendments, or anything of the sort, it is only in the person and work of Jesus! God is not a champion of one political party, He is a champion of the risen savior who holds the keys to life! May we not forget that as we watch the results come in tonight in between our favorite Tuesday night television show (slight sarcasm)!

Her.meneutics: Apple Takes a Bite Out of Sexting

Interesting news from Apple.
Her.meneutics: Apple Takes a Bite Out of Sexting

Monday, November 1, 2010


What Good Is God? Book Review

I just finished Philip Yancey's new book What Good Is God?, if you like Yancey, then you will not be disappointed in this newest offering. He delivers a powerful journalistic account of how he has witnessed the presence of God in nearly every corner of the globe and in nearly every conceivable circumstance.

Yancey's comments to students and others at Virginia Tech after the campus massacre:
I ask you to honor the grief that you feel, a pain that results from your connection to those who died, your friends and classmates and professors. Grief proves love. The pain will dull over time, but will never fully disappear. 

Cling to the hope that nothing that happens, not even this terrible tragedy, is irredeemable. We serve a God who has vowed to make all things new. J.R.R. Tolkien once spoke of "Joy beyond the walls of the world more poignant than grief." You know well the poignancy of grief. As healing progresses, may you know too that joy, a foretaste of a world redeemed. 

Finally, do not attempt healing alone. Rely on the people in this room, the staff of this church, other members of Christ's body in your hometown. True healing, of deep connective tissue, takes place in community. Where is God when it hurts? Where God's people are. Where misery is, there is the Messiah, and now on earth the Messiah takes form in the shape of the church. That's what the body of Christ means (34-35).

Yancey addressing a conference based around ministering to women in prostitution:
Our desires, including sexual desires, are not wrong. They are rather, like the rungs of a ladder that lead us toward beauty, toward relationship and intimacy, and ultimately toward God who granted us these gifts. Remove the rungs from the ladder, though, and you are left with scattered sticks of wood leading nowhere. The path to health for those of you leaving the sex trade will mean neither quenching nor exploiting desire but rather restoring it to its proper place (82). 

My friend George once said to me, "I feel caught somewhere between 'Just as I am' and 'Just as I Should be'" In fact, we're all caught there. In my teenage and college years I branded the uptight, perfectionistic people in my church as hypocrites, and perhaps they were. Now I look on them with sympathy and self-recognition. If we compare who we are to who we claim to be, we are all hypocrites, and the church provides a place where we can openly confess our failures and receive the cleansing power of grace (84)

All Saints Day

Dome of the Chapel at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Today is All Saint's Day in the liturgical calendar. I am heavily drawn to these few days because of my protestant heritage. I often think, "What would Luther's 95 Theses be today?" Today I have thought long about missing loved ones, the saints of my life who are no longer here to share the joys and the pains of life. The ones who are no longer around to enjoy a meal together, a family celebration, or just a good laugh. We are approaching the first holiday season without Cyd's dad, so I am sure that is adding to my preoccupation with All Saint's Day. I am often reminded of the "great cloud of witnesses that surround us" I picture them cheering us on, praying for us, hoping that we would live our lives in a worthy manner for the kingdom of God. The saints of years gone by and days gone by share with us who are alive, the joy, the hope, and the peace of the resurrection, may we live in the light of the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior.