Friday, December 30, 2011

Thoughts on Prayer

1 Timothy 2 talks about the privilege of praying for others. This perhaps one of the more common types of prayer, intercessory. We have the freedom to converse with the Father for those in our lives who have special areas of concern, trials, difficulties and even joys and triumphs. Praying for others always opens my eyes to how blesses I am and how selfish my prayers can become. May we find the joy in lifting others up, for it truly pleases our Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Music from 2011

Great choices on here, but it is definitely bent towards the alt-country, folk, singer-songwriter types. For me that's a plus though!
The 2011 CT Music Awards | Music | Christianity Today

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Thoughts pt. 8

I look forward to sharing the Lord's Supper with residents of one of the retirement homes/nursing homes in our area each December. It's always a joyful time to greet the residents and then see people from different backgrounds and usually different denominations come together to proclaim the Lord's death through bread and wine (of course we only use grape juice). It is a reminder to me of how simple our faith really is. I don't mean simplistic, I mean simple. We complicate it by adding religious ramblings to it, but it boils down to embracing the furious love of God, manifested most clearly in the life of Christ. I am thankful for those opportunities to pause and remember what God has done for us and how he is still at work in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!

Advent thoughts pt. 7

Great article about Advent.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Go Kart Birthday Party

The girls had fun with cousins at a birthday party for Jackson. Racing was more intense than Days of Thunder!

Advent Thoughts pt. 6

It's been a crazy week, so I haven't had a chance to post much about Advent, but the discipline of reading with the lectionary has been a rewarding one, these past few weeks. I must confess that sometimes the Christmas season just feels like you are hanging on, trying to survive the parties, the presents, and the people...most of us will put on a strong front and push through, praying that we can start the next year without a complete breakdown and feeling totally exhausted. Jesus tells his followers in Matthew 24 as he talks about the coming apocalypse to persevere. Keep your head up in other words. "But the one who endures till the end will be saved." Keep your wits about you and know that even in the moments we drop all the balls we are juggling that we need to pick them back up and begin again. We cling to the Savior and the cross because it is from him that we have the example of perseverance! God has begun his renovation of our hearts...he will finish it. Keep holding on!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Thoughts pt. 5

Psalm 25

New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 25

[a]A psalm of David.
 1 O Lord, I give my life to you.
    2 I trust in you, my God!
   Do not let me be disgraced,
      or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
 3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
      but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. 4 Show me the right path, O Lord;
      point out the road for me to follow.
 5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
      for you are the God who saves me.
      All day long I put my hope in you.
 6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
      which you have shown from long ages past.
 7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
      Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
      for you are merciful, O Lord.
 8 The Lord is good and does what is right;
      he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
 9 He leads the humble in doing right,
      teaching them his way.
 10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
      all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
 11 For the honor of your name, O Lord,
      forgive my many, many sins.
 12 Who are those who fear the Lord?
      He will show them the path they should choose.
 13 They will live in prosperity,
      and their children will inherit the land.
 14 The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
      He teaches them his covenant.
 15 My eyes are always on the Lord,
      for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
 16 Turn to me and have mercy,
      for I am alone and in deep distress.
 17 My problems go from bad to worse.
      Oh, save me from them all!
 18 Feel my pain and see my trouble.
      Forgive all my sins.
 19 See how many enemies I have
      and how viciously they hate me!
 20 Protect me! Rescue my life from them!
      Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge.
 21 May integrity and honesty protect me,
      for I put my hope in you.
 22 O God, ransom Israel
      from all its troubles.
  1. Psalm 25:1 This psalm is a Hebrew acrostic poem; each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Do you trust in God to provide for you and lead you daily? Do you trust in your own abilities, achievements, strengths? The reminders of God's forgiveness, His protection are just what many people need during the frenzy of the holidays. We live in a broken world...we are broken people...people full of sin who desperately need to be reminded that God is for us and longs for us to seek refuge in Him. 

Perhaps your prayer is like David's "Show me the right path, point out the road I need to follow"? 

Find comfort in these words from John the Revelator, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

Great Thoughts

Church & Culture Blog | Church and Culture

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Thoughts pt. 4

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Today's readings serve as a marker along the journey as we read about the birth and naming of John the Baptist, the exhilaration of praising the Lord, and the judgment of God. I think one of the best things about the lectionary is that it forces us to wrestle with difficult passages, passages of scripture that we would rather skip over and dismiss as antiquated or an old view of God rather than as part of the whole character of God presented from beginning to end in the pages of the Bible.

It seems fitting that we are reminded in Luke 1 when Zechariah speaks under the power of the Holy Spirit, "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel because he has visited and redeemed his people." The reading from Amos is filled with God's judgment, particularly in the form of exile because of Israel's sin and unfaithfulness. Yet Zechariah points the way to the promised redemption that is to come. God's redemptive act (return from exile) foreshadows the promise of redemption that is revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Judgment is real, thanks be to God that redemption is also real! That's something to join the Psalmist in praising the Lord about!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Watching Rudolph

Christmas Show at Church

Advent Thoughts Pt. 3

Psalm 116

New Living Translation (NLT)

 1 I love the Lord because he hears my voice
      and my prayer for mercy.
 2 Because he bends down to listen,
      I will pray as long as I have breath!
 3 Death wrapped its ropes around me;
      the terrors of the grave[a] overtook me.
      I saw only trouble and sorrow.
 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
      “Please, Lord, save me!”
 5 How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
      So merciful, this God of ours!
 6 The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
      I was facing death, and he saved me.
 7 Let my soul be at rest again,
      for the Lord has been good to me.
 8 He has saved me from death,
      my eyes from tears,
      my feet from stumbling.
 9 And so I walk in the Lord’s presence
      as I live here on earth!

Isn't it comforting to know that the Lord hears our prayers in good times and bad times. He hears them when the grip of death clutches tight to our life, and He hears them when we walk upright in His ways. He is always faithful in the midst of our unfaithfulness, perhaps this is why the Advent season holds such a special place in our life of faith. We know as we drag toward the end of the year and are hoping to make it to the finish line, we have renewed hope the most unlikely of places. In a small animal trough the Savior of the world finds its bed and pillow on that first Christmas. Even the most humble of circumstances can bring about incredible blessings to our lives. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Advent Thoughts pt. 2

Okay, so I know that I already missed a day, but to be fair I never made it to a computer yesterday...

Today's readings offer some challenging thoughts from the Psalms as well as the Gospel of Matthew, but the selection from Jude reminds me of Paul's address to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15 to hold tight to the gospel that they first believed. 

Jude 3-4
 Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Today as so many different things clamor for our attention we must cling to the gospel message. We must defend the faith that was entrusted by God to his holy people. Do we protect our lives and our churches from allowing false doctrine to creep in? Do we protect our lives and our churches from becoming complacent in our faith and abusing grace because we know it will be there when we get ready to clean up our sinful habits? The grace of God cannot be used as a freedom to indulge in anything we want to do! His grace is precious and should be cherished for the regenerating work the Holy Spirit does in our lives. Thanks be to God for his grace, let us not abuse it. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Thoughts pt.1

I know I have missed a few days of the Advent season already but I am going to try to post some thoughts based on the lectionary readings for this season of Advent. The Psalter reading included 119:18

Open my eyes to see
      the wonderful truths in your instructions.

Perhaps our prayers this season should be focused on asking God to open our eyes to see the Christ-child in a new light this year. I'm sure we need to ask to see others around us in a new light as well.  

The Essentials of Christianity

1 Corinthians 15

The Resurrection of Christ
 1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

Thoughts on the Church from Fosdick

And still, at its best, the church proclaims a living gospel which this huge, noisy, violent world critically needs. Granted the glaring faults of the church, the living gospel is too much alive for any church's failures utterly to deaden it. Despite our deficiencies, still in our churches at their best, lives are transformed, character is built, courage is renewed, faith is strengthened, ideals of personal and social conduct which else would die are kept alive, public-spirited devotion is engendered, and God's kingdom of righteousness on earth is made a living hope. (77-78)

Indeed, the God ordained vessel for which the work of the kingdom is to come to completion is a church empowered by the Holy Spirit and intently focused on the call of Christ to go make disciples. Without the church in our communities and our lives we would be missing not just a major force for change and good but the very instrument which the gospel can be confessed and proclaimed. We need the church now more than ever in spite of it's many faults and failures. I have had several conversations recently with people who have been hurt by the church...dare I say there is anyone who hasn't been hurt by the church or someone in the church in some shape, form, or fashion? Yet the church is also the place that we find healing and wholeness, grace and love, mercy and compassion and most of all new beginnings.

Ah, Church of Christ, the proclamation of such faith is your task today. You fritter away your strength on trivial sectarianisms. You insult the intelligent and alienate the serious with petty dogmatisms that do not matter. You fiddle trifling tunes while the world burns. But back of all that, still the glory of the true church within the church, is a message without which mankind is doomed. If you really believe the Christian gospel--God behind us, his cause committed to us, his power available for us--then proclaim it, live it, implement it, for humanity's hope depends upon it. It is indeed, a faith for tough times. (124) Emphasis added

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fosdick on Faith

Harry Emerson Fosdick, was a key figure in the religious life of America in the mid 1900s. He was a polarizing force in that he adamantly combated the fundamentalists that had risen up in response to the cresting tide of theological Liberalism, yet he later in life criticized many of the shortcomings of Liberalism and embraced a form of Neo-Orthodoxy.

I have always heard or read his name either in high regard or complete contempt. Having never read anything by him I chose a book that has been on my shelf for years to read entitled A Faith for Tough Times. Fosdick was definitely someone who marched to his own beat not giving a care as to what others may think. Still in the book I found some nuggets of wisdom and insight.

Here is one:
When on undertakes to find the permanent in this transitory world one naturally turns to huge things, powerful things, which ostentatiously loom large and dominate the scene. But the Christian faith lights on an obscure Galilean, whose family thought him demented, whose church thought him a heretic and excommunicated him, whose friends thought him a failure and disowned him, whose nation thought him a traitor and crucified him. (40-41)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Pics

Why the Church and Seminaries Need to be Linked

Challenging thoughts for the future of ministry and ministry training as the more and more churches are shifting their view of seminary and more and more seminaries are continuing to be bent towards the needs of the academy.
Church & Culture Blog | Church and Culture

Good Thoughts for Anyone Starting Something New

I have found that in trying to promote events like concerts with musicians who don't have big ticket appeal that rarely will people come to something for the sake of being a part of art or the community that supports the arts. Interestingly enough, I have been asking similar questions as it pertains to new ventures in ministry that are just around the corner for us.
Seth's Blog: Who comes on opening night?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Friends Thanksgiving

The TV show Friends has some of the funniest moments in Thanksgiving history!

Friends Spending the Night

Claire had a friend spend the night last night...kind of a new thing for us as parents. Of course they were perfect and well behaved. They even let Charlotte play with them some too! The entire concept is something I didn't do a lot as a kid growing up but Cyd had a completely different experience. She had friends who spent the weekend not just the night, a totally foreign concept to me. I guess with two girls we have many, many more nights of excited little girls spending the night at each others' houses.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quoteable Quotes

There is nothing mightier or nobler than when man and wife are of one heart and mind in a house. 

I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
G.K. Chesterton

Passing of Larry Munson

There aren't many like Larry Munson in college football!

Thankful for Jesus

Cling to the crucified
Jesus the Lamb who died
Cling to the crucified
Jesus the King

Taken from Cling to the Crucified Indelible Grace Music

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quoteable Quotes Series

Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.
     John Wesley

Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.
     G.K. Chesterton

Pray in the Spirit at all times.
      The Apostle Paul

Monday, November 14, 2011

Love like Jesus, Live like Luke

It's been 1 year since an incredible young man's life had an even greater ripple effect than we could ever imagine. I think of you often, especially when I walk by the supply closet on the youth floor. You put this sticker up probably the first year I was here, never noticed it until a year ago. Love you buddy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Things I Love About Fall in South GA

1. Fields of white aka cotton fields just before harvest
2. Crisp mornings taking the kids to school
3. The smell of freshly pulled peanuts
4. College football
5. A cup of coffee
6. Being able to wear a skull cap and not look ridiculous
7. The anticipation of family gatherings for the holidays
8. Good books
9. Conversations with friends
10. Stealing away for moments together with my "10" of wife!

Seth's Blog

There's nothing wrong with having a plan

Plans are great.
But missions are better. Missions survive when plans fail, and plans almost always fail.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

Halloween Thoughts

Here is a great post about how Halloween has been demonized (pun intended) by many in the evangelical establishment.

I echo the thoughts in the article. I have great memories of dressing up with my mom to go trick or treating. One year she went as the Bride of Dracula and I was an escaped convict (mind you all before the age of 8). Definitely not the norm for evangelicals celebrating the holiday in 2011. I turned out alright...

More Thoughts on the Reformation

Church & Culture Blog | Church and Culture

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reformation Sunday

In honor of Reformation Sunday, being the good non-creedal, non-liturgical baptist that I am I offer a quote from one of the most crude, sloven, prone to imbibe, incredibly gifted theologians the church has ever produced...Martin Luther.

"Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly... Pray boldly - for you too are a mighty sinner." 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Father to a Son

It's hard to believe that we are halfway through pregnancy number 3! I am extremely excited to be having a boy this time around, but also very nervous. I know what to do with least so far. I'm not so sure with boys. I was talking to a student this morning who is a big outdoors person. He hunts every chance he gets. I have been hunting once, so I'm not sure how to teach my son anything about wildlife. I'm not really great with tools, mechanical things, etc. so I'm not sure where he will learn to do any of that stuff either. If he wants to have a discussion about theories of atonement while I change his diaper then I can handle that area. Or if he wants to discuss the influence of jazz and blues musicians on current music or the merits of being critically acclaimed and not popularly acclaimed in the world of music. I can even handle discussing the theological implications of such films as The Goonies or TV shows like Friends and for Halloween, Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin I'm there! The good news is I have a few more months to figure some of these things out!

GSU vs. App State

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Festival

Quoteable Quotes

Vocation is not primarily a thing one does to live but the thing one lives to do. It is, or should be, the full expression of your faculties, the thing in which you find spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction.
       Dorothy Sayers

Maturity is to accept oneself and ones origins as non-negotiable.

I do not want to make Baptists shut themselves up in their little clam shells and be indifferent to the ocean outside of them. I am a Baptist, but I am more than a Baptist. All things are mine; whether Francis of Assisi, or Luther, or Knox, or Wesley; all are mine because I am Christ's. The old Adam is a strict denominationalist; the new Adam is just a Christian.
       Walter Rauschenbusch

I came across all of these in the book, For Faith and Friendship, currently in my stack of reading material. 

Tacky Day

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wilco Live

Here is video of the Wilco song referenced in an earlier post.

Voices in your Head

Wilco, the alternative band with deep roots in alt-country and folk music released a new album almost a month ago that I have been listening to lately. The variety of musical styles are amazing (ranging from Neil Young ala Harvest to Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon). The song Dawned on Me has really captured my mind lyrically and musically.

I've been taken 
By the sound 
Of my own voice
The voices in my head

It seems to me that the temptation for ministers is to allow the voices in our head to overtake the voice of the Holy Spirit that is calling for a life of humble submission to Christ. Unfortunately the voices in my head don't tend to be very humble or willing to submit themselves to Christ. Some of the reading I have been doing lately has reminded me that I need to listen to the voice of Abba rather than the voices in my head. The voices in my head may be my own voice, one of pride and arrogance or it may be accolades from others, approval and acceptance from others...regardless it is so easy to subtly give the "voices" more influence than the Spirit.



A Book List

I always love to hear or see what other people recommend as essential or required reading.
Church & Culture Blog | Church and Culture

Friday, October 14, 2011


"If we don't learn to transform the pain, we'll transfer it." Richard Rohr

Saturday, October 8, 2011

God of the Impossible

I came across this quote from St. Ambrose, one of the early church fathers, in my devotional book.

"What is impossible to God? Not that which is difficult to His power, but that which is contrary to His nature."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Festival @ Claire's School

Another Innovative Leader Passes

The internet has been abuzz with homages to Steve Jobs and his innovations that have impacted our culture, but there was another gentleman who died this week whose innovative thinking helped impact our culture too. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was a key figure in the struggle against racism and for equality for African-Americans in the U.S. He was dedicated to his efforts at impacting culture not because he was black or because it was the right thing to do, but because it was the biblical thing to do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ready for Halloween

What you get when you cross Little Red Riding Hood and a Cowgirl.

On Repeat in the Volvo!

Prayer and War

A journalist once asked the great spiritual Jewish leader, Abraham Heschel, why he came to a demonstration against the Vietnam War. “I am here because I cannot pray,” Heschel answered. Confused, the journalist asked, “What do you mean, you can’t pray so you come to a demonstration against the war?” Heschel: “Whenever I open the prayerbook, I see before me images of children burning from napalm.” Heshcel meant that we forfeit our right to pray if we are silent about the cruelties surrounding us. “Prayer,” he said, must never be a citadel for selfish concerns but rather a place for deepening concern over other people’s plight.” (See Essential Writings below, 17).
Excerpted from Walter B. Shurden’s preaching Journal, October 2011 Vol. 4 No. 40

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Prodigal God

I was first introduced to Tim Keller by my RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) campus minister, Paul Bankson while a student at Mercer University.  Paul often referenced some nugget of truth he had extracted from Keller's sermons he listened to on tape, yes I am that old...before podcasts and cd's of sermons there were tapes. In college I read one of Keller's books that talks specifically about service to the "least of these" but I hadn't read any of his recent books until I picked up Prodigal God at a bookstore going out of business. It was a great reminder of the depth of my sin and the lavishness of God's love and grace and mercy!

If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did (18-19).