Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Death of an Evangelical Icon

To say that John Stott has impacted the world for the sake of the Kingdom of God is a major understatement. His life and legacy is one of a compassionate, evangelical leader who treasured the Bible and sought to live life in accordance with the very same scriptures. I personally have benefited from several books and commentaries that he wrote throughout his life. I mourn the loss of one so dear to the evangelical world, yet rejoice that a faithful servant has entered into his eternal rest with God.
John Stott Has Died | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Monday, July 25, 2011

Study Music

Here are a few songs that I listened to over and over again or had playing in my head over the last few weeks of June and the first few weeks of July.

Over The Rhine "Last Night On Earth Again"

Jars of Clay "Small Rebellions"

Gregg Allman "Just Another Rider"

Gregg Allman "Floating Bridge"

Train "Drops of Jupiter"

Bill Mallonee Solar System

Bruce Springsteen "Human Touch"

Bruce Springsteen "Born in the U.S.A.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Importance of a Story

Years ago,  I sat across the desk of a renowned theologian who said, "Tell me your story and I will understand you." He went on to say that by listening to people's stories we learn who they really are, what's most important to them, their passions, their dark secrets and their soaring hopes.

I recently finished Pat Conroy's book, South of Broad. He has written several novels that have won him critical and popular acclaim while also garnering his fair share of enemies. This was an engrossing story of unlikely high school friends and the joys and sorrows they endured together through 20+ years of life. Near the end the central character is telling all of the children of his friends a bedtime story, as he concludes he says...

What's important is that a story changes every time you say it out loud. When you put it on paper, it can never change. But the more times you tell it, the more changes will occur. A story is a living thing; it moves and shifts. If I had each one of you tell me the story the same way I just told it, no one could do it.

As a preacher of the gospel, I get the opportunity to share the greatest story ever known, the unfolding drama of God's redemptive work through Jesus Christ! This is the story that gives all other stories meaning and purpose, yet it is true that no story that I tell to friends, family, or my students is ever the same. Even when I preach, I write out a manuscript, but I could preach the same sermon 12 times and tell it 12 different ways. The story of God is written in his word and on our hearts as children of God. The story he has on our hearts is ours to share and tell and point to the larger story that never changes even though how we share our story changes each time we share it. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Photos and the Stories They Tell

I have several photos in my office at the church. I keep several group shots of camps, retreats, and mission projects in different areas of the office in addition to pictures of my wonderful family. I also have a few that I found in boxes when I came to FBC 5 years ago this summer that found a spot on one of my bookshelves. It's very nice to have the old church library as your office...plenty of shelf space!

The photos are special to me for various reasons, but aren't most photos that way. Pictures tell a story that words sometimes can't convey. One of these pictures is my friend Matt and I at an RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) Fall Retreat. If I remember correctly this was taken the morning we were getting ready to head home. Matt and I grew up together, were roommates in college, in each others' weddings in some capacity and continue to stay in touch, mostly through our wives who are best friends. I keep the picture in my office because it reminds me of the true value of friendship. There are friends that each of us has that we can call on in a moment's notice for help, encouragement, and support no matter where life takes you. I believe that Matt and I have that kind of friendship. There are others that we have those kind of relationships with as well. It's a reminder to me that relationships are important for us as human beings, as Christians to have because they give us strength and encouragement when we most need it.
Matt and Tony

Another picture is of a group of guys from high school at youth camp the summer after we graduated from high school. Included in the photo are our youth minister at the time, David Maginnis and one of the worship leaders for the week, Jimbo Bass. Both of those men had a tremendous impact on my life as well as the lives of those in the picture and countless others because of their faithfulness to the gospel. My life is truly better for knowing both of them.

Jimbo, Jason, Me, David, Jay, Matt, Robbie

The last picture is the the first group I took to a FUGE camp when I served as the Youth and College Minister at Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Clanton, AL. It was a small group, as many adults as youth but it was a great experience for all of us. For most in the picture it was their first experience of having a summer youth camp experience. Many of the students are now in college or almost finished with college. Each of them has had their share of trials and difficulties but God has always been at work in their lives in some really incredible ways. I think I keep that picture in the office because it is a reminder to me of why I do what God has called me to do. It's not about paychecks, offices (my first one at LHBC was basically a closet), books on the shelf or sermons's about real lives changed by the power of the only real gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ!
LHBC Centrifuge 2004?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Kingdom Minded

"The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God."  Leo Tolstoy

Why do we look for significance, meaning and belonging in so many other places other than the Kingdom of God?

Breakfast at the Beach

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Q&A: Francis Chan on Rob Bell and Hell | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

An interesting interview with Francis Chan on Hell. He and the interviewer both leave an open ended question mark on hell as eternal conscious torment and hell as will be interesting to see if that creates similar controversy as Bell's questions regarding hell.
Q&A: Francis Chan on Rob Bell and Hell | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction