Sunday, December 30, 2012

Confusing Ministry and Calling

Margaret Feinberg recalls a conversation she had with a friend who had been dismissed from his ministry at a large church because of a moral lapse. The guy makes the statement that one's calling never changes, but our ministry can change every few minutes, at least several times in the course of our lives. She quotes him as saying, "The problem is that all too often we sacrifice our calling for the sake of the ministry. The ministry becomes so important, so central, that we lose the most important thing."

A great reminder for all those in vocational ministry. Our specific task of ministry may change repeatedly, for example in the last year I have transitioned from doing youth ministry to doing college ministry. Yet my calling has remained, seeing people's lives changed by the gospel. Of course most of us need to be reminded this important truth several times a week because we get so wrapped up in our ministry that we begin to place our self worth and value only in what we accomplish through ministry.

Excerpted from The Sacred Echo

Power of Words

Margaret Feinberg writes,
Why use sixty-six books and thousands of years of history to say three simple words? Because "I love you" is not just a piece of information or one-time revelation but an invitation to transformation.

Amazing to think of the trouble that God has gone through and still goes through to express his deep, unconditional love for us. He stopped at nothing, even sacrificing his only son because of his love affair with His people!

She goes on to say the following:
With mere words, God created. except for the moment when Jesus spoke, "It is finished," never has so much been accomplished in so few words.

I have always been mesmerized by the power of words, especially when contemplating the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2. The sheer power and authority evident in God's ability to speak something out of nothing, creation ex nihlio. This is the same God whom we bow down and worship as the loving Father who redeems us through his son, forsaken on a wooden cross. Two very simple acts with profound influence on the course of human history.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Not Where I Want to Go

Thanks to Margaret Feinberg's book The Sacred Echo, I was reminded of Jesus' words with Peter in John 21:18  “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” As I watched my dad battle cancer earlier this year these words took on new meaning to me. Here was a man who had taken care of my in various ways and to various degrees for over 30 years and now it was my turn. (I am blessed that in spite of my parent's divorce both nurtured and cared for me as best they could and in their own way.) It was difficult for both of us I believe to reach the stage of life where the caregiver becomes the one needing care. Humbling to the say the least...

In those final days, Dad became a living reminder of this verse, but more than that, he was a living reminder of the utter dependence we have on God and the gospel for life to have any meaning and purpose. 

CT Top Albums of 2012

Great review of top albums from Christianity Today.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg

I recently finished The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg. She has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary writers. Her insight into issues of faith are refreshing without pushing the boundaries of orthodoxy. I will spend a few blog posts responding to some of her thoughts over the next few days. Here is one at the end that really resonated with me.

The naked truth about "getting saved" is that becoming a follower of Jesus will not make you richer, skinnier, or more prosperous. It will cost you everything--more than you can imagine--as you pour your life into causes that no one else seems to care about. But the rewards, well, I'm gambling with everything I've got that they're worth it. Like Lucy, it's worth believing and bringing everyone I possibly can along for the adventure (187).

Winter Retreat

So I am about 8 months into doing college ministry full-time, only in the last month have I really begun to feel like I have a handle on what God is trying to teach me and use me to accomplish His Kingdom work. It has been a challenging transition, but such an incredibly good one. This weekend we had a retreat with 14 students to get away, unwind, and dig into the word. It was a great time of fellowship, worship, and growth for our group. One of my mentors, Chris Rogers, who is now doing Family Ministry, came and shared with us from scripture and really challenged us with a reminder of the gospel, our status before God and the idols we place in our lives.

I am so thankful to God for what he is doing in and through our students!

Over the Rhine Christmas song as our Prayer Today

Lord we need a new redemption song
Lord we’ve tried
It just seems to come out wrong
Won’t you help us please
Help us just to sing along
A new redemption song
Lord we need
A new redemption day
All our worries
Keep getting in the way
Won’t you help us please NEW REDEMPTION SONG
Lord we need a new redemption song

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Life is Mostly Edges

The late Calvin Miller was one of our professors at Beeson Divinity School when my wife and I were students there. His passion for God and for his students was such an encouragement to us during those years. Since then I have read at least a dozen of his books and learned valuable insights about myself, my God and my own pursuit of Him. His memoir, Life is Mostly Edges, offers the reader valuable insight into major influences in Dr. Miller's life. Two things he wrote stuck with me as it pertains to ministry.

Sermons are only noble when they are so "see-through" that the pastor's need for God is clearly visible through his words.

Good teachers teach what they are more than what they know.

Challenging words for anyone who leads, teaches or preaches. The best sermons, lessons, and classes are discovered when you find yourself being influenced by your knowledge of the person communicating and the authenticity of their life of faith more than any theologizing, exegeting, or pontificating. Although, believers will have parts of the first 2 mixed in with their life if it truly is God-honoring.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quoteable Quotes

"Fellowship with other disciples, living and dead, is another practice essential to the "Christ focus."

"Knowledge 'at a distance,' knowing certain 'facts' about something, doesn't amount to knowing it."

"Jesus is the human face on the kingdom of God. He makes it concretely accessible."

"Jesus, however, did not send his people out to make Christians or to start churches as we understand them today. He sent them to make disciples (students, apprentices) to him and, supported by his presence, to teach them all that he had taught by word and deed. That is a very different type of enterprise!"

Dallas Willard Knowing Christ Today

"If we fail in love, we fail in all things else."
William Sloane Coffin

Recent Sermon

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tooth is Missing

Quoteable Quotes

"Preaching is something dangerously public that emerges from something intensely private." N.T. Wright

"It will also mean that those who discover the living God in and through Jesus must be prepared to face up to the evil structures and powers that still dominate and control so much of God's world, and to challenge them in the name of Jesus and with the power of his victory on the cross." N. T. Wright


ECHO college worship band leading at FBC Statesboro this past Sunday night. So blessed to get to work with great students like these guys!
Echo Band from FBC Statesboro TV on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Where is God when life hurts?

Philip Yancey is one of my favorite writers. He tackles every situation and scenario with poise, authenticity and a Biblical worldview. I am using his Grace Notes as part of my devotional reading this year. I have read just about every book he has in print, but it is great to reread some of these statements again and be encouraged by the hope of Christ! Here is what today's selection said,
Where is God when it hurts? God is in us--not in the things that hurt--helping to transform bad into good. We can safely say that God can bring good out of evil; we cannot say that God brings about the evil in hopes of producing good.
 Where Is God When It Hurts? (108-109)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Asked the Lord

This incredible hymn by John Newton has been a source of strength and encouragement for me over the past  7-8 months as I watched my Dad struggle with cancer. I have often asked the Lord these questions that Newton is unafraid to ask. It is a reminder that the sovereign hand of God gently guides and leads us at times even in difficult days all for the purpose of bringing us to the point where we "seek thou all in" Him alone!

Defining Evangelical

I would tend to agree with much of what Rachel Held Evans says here about what the label "evangelical" means and doesn't mean. While I identify with this label for myself, I don't broadcast that to people outside of evangelicalism because the larger world seems to have a misconception about evangelicals. They believe that we are all narrow minded, Republican voting, gay-bashing, CCM listening people drinking cafe mocha's (but not in Starbucks because they support gay marriage) with our John MacArthur Study Bible opened to Romans 9-11. That certainly doesn't characterize me...for the record I don't have a problem with CCM, Republicans (I am one), John MacArthur or Starbucks for that matter.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


It's strange the way grief hits you in waves. For much of the last 4 months since my Dad passed I have been so busy with my family and ministry to think much about the reality of losing him. It has probably helped that it wasn't abnormal to go several weeks in between phone calls and several months in between visits. So the trip to Guntersville this weekend was more difficult than I thought it would be.

Raw emotions, raw emotions, and more raw emotions...

I had changed out some CDs in my car before we left so that I would have some that were in the car with us for the trip. One that I had in the changer when I got back was Springsteen's Greatest Hits. The song Badlands has stuck in my head in a different way today with these lines,
I believe in the love that you gave me
I believe in the faith that could save me
I believe in the hope and I pray that someday it may raise me above these badlands...
If I had to express my thoughts on grief, suffering, and death it would be Badlands, a place of desperation, desolation, and in once sense hopelessness. As Christians of course, our hope is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, however that hope does NOT take away the feelings of pain and despair that accompany the loss of someone you love. But the lyrics are reminders that some day we will rise above these "badlands" and that the full power of the resurrection will be known to all of God's children who may mourn for tonight but trust that tomorrow will be a new day.


Election Humor

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Prayer for Wednesday

I Need Thee Every Hour

1. I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

Chorus: I need Thee, O I need Thee;
O I need Thee every hour;
I need you Lord, O bless me now,
My Savior, I come to Thee.

2. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain
I need Thee every hour, teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill
I need Thee every hour, teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill

C.S. Lewis on the Death of Christ

“The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. “ C.S. Lewis

Lewis goes on to explain that different theories of understanding the death of Christ aren't necessary to grasp the gospel or rather to have the truth of the gospel grasp us...depending on your theological perspective. It is enough to know that the death of Christ has put us to rights with God, exactly how that happens is better left up to God. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seeing Things for the First Time

A recent sermon from a few weeks ago. I started a new component called "the Pagliarullo Chronicles" and worked a subtle nod to The Black Crowes with the sermon title.

2012 08 12am from Trip McAlhany on Vimeo.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Remembering Calvin Miller

Although I like John Calvin, my favorite Calvin is Calvin Miller. He was mine a nd Cyd's preaching professor at Beeson. His faithfulness to tell the Story is an inspiration to so many young preachers he mentored. This is a picture I keep in my office of the 3 of us on graduation day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cast of Characters

Max Lucado is a master storyteller with a gift for helping his readers see the profound and indescribable aspects of God in ordinary, even mundane circumstances and language. In Cast of Characters, he traces the lives of key biblical characters and leaders and how God used them to accomplish his work in the world.

As with any Lucado book the reader finishes the book encouraged and renergized for their own faith journey.

First Day of School

Thursday, August 2, 2012

God's Story

God’s story never gets old or boring. He weaves into his story the stories of saints, sinners, harlots, kings, queens, angels, carpenters, shepherds, fishermen, businessmen, teachers, parents, husbands, and wives.

So thankful to be a part of God's story as I live out my own!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Eternal Perspective for Following Jesus

Reading Donald Miller is like reading stream of consciousness writers...every now and then though something profound, prophetic or both jumps off the page at you.

Growing up in church, we were taught that Jesus was the answer to all our problems. We were taught that there was a circle-shaped hole in our heart and that we had tried to fill it with the square pegs of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; but only the circle peg of Jesus could fill our hole. I became a Christian based, in part, on this promise, but the hole never really went away. To be sure, I like Jesus, and I still follow him, but the idea that Jesus will make everything better is a lie. It's basically biblical theology translated into the language of infomercials. The truth is, the apostles never really promise Jesus is going to make everything better here on earth. Can you imagine an infomercial with Paul, testifying to the amazing product of Jesus, saying that he once had power and authority, and since he tried Jesus he's been moved from prison to prison, beaten, and routinely bitten by snakes? I don't think many people would be buying that product. Peter couldn't do any better. He was crucified upside down, by some reports. Stephen was stoned outside the city gates. John, supposedly, was boiled in oil. It's hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria. I think Jesus can make things better, but I don't think he is going to make things perfect. Not here, and not now. 

Wow! Miller slices open the ethos that permeates so much of American Christianity...simply visit a Christian bookstore. Jesus, counter to what Joel Osteen and others may say, didn't say that life with him would be easy, pain free, tear free and wonderful financial blessings would flow your way. Rather he said the exact opposite...if you want to take up your cross (an instrument of death) and follow me then you must lay down your life. Give up what is most precious to you for the sake of the kingdom... then you will be fit for service to the King of Kings! Jesus told his disciples that they would be run out of their hometowns, faced trials and difficulties, all because of deciding to follow him. I believe that the American church needs to reclaim this true calling of Jesus and stop selling the lie that Jesus fixes everything and is the answer to everything. As Christians we should realize that Jesus isn't the answer to everything but that the God who has all the answers is the one we serve and follow. As difficult as it may be, knowing the one who has the answers should be sufficient for us, rather than having to have all the answers ourselves.




Glad to get to minister to students at such a fine university!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Think Deeply and Follow Christ

"If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole if you, brains and all....One reason why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself."
C.S. Lewis

Cousins Camp

Gone too Soon

I haven't posted much about my dad lately...partly because I have been sorting through the pieces of life after him on my own before tapping anything out on the keyboard. Strange as it seems this has been something more difficult to write about perhaps because every time I think about writing on here my thoughts turn towards him. He seemed to like reading my thoughts here on the blog. The hardest thing lately has been preaching a few weeks ago and not being able to interact with him on some level about the sermon. He always offered great advice, insight, and critiques.

I read this in a Donald Miller book this week..."If you aren't telling a good story, nobody thinks you died too soon; they just think you died."

Dad was telling a good story with his life. Not a perfect story but a story that found it's meaning in the larger story of God and His gospel!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wisdom from Brennan Manning

"We are God's children not by our merit but by God's mercy."

"To grasp the truth of the gospel is to fall on our faces in both sorrow and gratitude."

"Authentic, evangelical faith cannot be separated from a readiness to act on the Word of God according to present opportunities. Whenever faith is accepted merely as a closed system of well-defined doctrines, we lose contact with the living God. The faith that saves is a surrender to God."

"To believe that all Jesus calls us to is to be nice to each other is to substitute the Christ of Christian humanism for the Christ of Saint Paul."

"If the People of God are not hearing the call to repentance or claiming their power to fulfill it, is it because we ministers of the Word are preaching another Christ from the pulpit?"

"The ability to love oneself is the root and foundation of our ability to love others and to love God."

"If there are few Spirit-filled, power-laden, transparent Christians, it is because so few have plunged into the true life of Jesus and died to sin, selfishness, dishonesty, and degraded love."

"The road map into the mind of Christ is emblazoned with the sign of the Cross."

"We have softened the Cross by trivializing it (even to removing it in some of our churches), by fitting it neatly into our schematic theologizing, and by ignoring it in favor of the Resurrection."

"If you wish to speak of the Christian life, authentic spirituality, or the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you speak of Jesus Christ nailed to the Cross or you do not speak at all."

All quotes are from Brennan Manning's The Importance of Being Foolish: How to Think Like Jesus.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I haven't posted much on here about Dad and his passing from this life quite simply because I'm still coming to grips with the reality of his death. I have thought about blogging some different emotions and thoughts but I haven't sorted those out well enough to make sense on here. I have received several cards, phone calls, personal greetings, texts, and Facebook notifications of prayers, condolences, and encouragement.

Perhaps the one that has stuck out to me the most came from a mentor of mine. It says,
Whenever we experience the pain and sorrow and grief of loosing someone who has been with us all of our lives, it allows God to become more real, His Spirit more comforting and His presence more personal. Without feelings of emptiness there would be no space for God to fill, no tears for Him to wipe away and no reason to hope for the life that is to come.


Monday, June 18, 2012

A "New" Debate for Southern Baptists

As Baptists Prepare to Meet, Calvinism Debate Shifts to Heresy Accusation | Christianity Today

This isn't really a new debate for Southern Baptists, at the roots of the denominations history are leaders including convention presidents and seminary presidents who embraced a Calvinistic view of salvation. Walter Shurden, a moderate Baptist historian (once a Southern Baptist) has stated in a few of his books that there is something in the DNA of Baptists that causes them (us) to fight. If there isn't a debate or topic swirling around then we will create one. I believe that the renewed interest in the Calvinism debate is just such a topic. The SBC has been quite for too long (the most recent major debate of course being the so called "battle for the Bible"), so therefore there needed to be a fresh topic and source of contention. Just one of the things I love about being a Baptist.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

It was a good day with my family. I'm so blessed with an amazing wife and wonderful children. We spent time in worship, lunch with friends and students, then some time at home watching the Cosby Show.

Strange not to be able to talk yo either of our dad's today. Trusting that they know how much we love them and miss them!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Gospel According to U2

I recently finished We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2. A great read for any rabid U2 fans or people who are intrigued by the intersection of pop culture, especially music and faith. Well written, although slightly biased by the author's own admission of fascination with the band, but would you really want to read a book about a band that was written by someone that didn't even like them? The mysterious ways the band has embraced and seemingly renounced Christianity through the years is intriguing to those in the church and outside of the church. The band is never one to be easily pigeon-holed into a particular category or framework though. They are all over the map on issues and faith, certainly not your typical representation of conservative, evangelical theology nor of "Christian music" though at times they model perfection in both worlds. Bottom line, if you like the band, you will enjoy this book!

Celebrating Grandmother's Birthday

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Best Mom Ever

Today is a special day to me because my Mom celebrates another year of life. She has always been such an incredible supporter and encouragement to me. She made it through nearly all of my life as a single parent, working, being there to help me, tutor me, guide me and direct me in so many ways. She has always been my biggest fan! I'm so thankful that God blessed me with a mom like her, who sacrificed greatly for me and continues to do so for my family. She is truly an amazing woman! Love you Mom!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wisdom from Job

“‘You formed me with your hands; you made me,
    yet now you completely destroy me.
Remember that you made me from dust—
    will you turn me back to dust so soon?
10 You guided my conception
    and formed me in the womb.
11 You clothed me with skin and flesh,
    and you knit my bones and sinews together.
12 You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love.
    My life was preserved by your care. Job 10:8-12

Job's story reminds me that my life is in the hands of God...a God who is sovereign over all of my life, good and bad. My life is formed by him, even in my mother's womb, and only he knows the days that are numbered for me. My responsibility is to live life to the fullest each day, not for my own gain, but for the sake of the gospel. For the gospel is the only thing worthy of giving our lives to completely. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Buechnerisms pt.4

"the preacher must somehow himself present this silence, and the mystery of truth by speaking what he feels, not what he ought to say, by speaking forth not only light and the hope of it but the darkness as well, all of it, because the Gospel has to do with all of it." The darkness is easy to name at times...tragedies like Katrina and the tornadoes that ripped through the U.S. last year. Still darkness comes in sickness, heartbreak, cancer and even death. To speak what I ought to speak about the darkness is to say that it cannot overcome the light, but that doesn't seem to be true when you face cancer With a loved one. To speak what I feel is to be mad as all get out that I won't have my dad around anymore. The light and hope is that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The hope is the promise of the resurrection of which Christ is the firstfruits. The Gospel is big enough to hold together what we ought to say and what we feel, both of which must be expressed as we experience life in community. I know that God is in control and that his mercy and grace will be still doesn't take away the hurt...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Buechnerisms pt 3

"The Gospel is bad news before it is good news. It is the news that man is a sinner, to use the old word, that he is evil in the imagination of his heart, that when he looks in the mirror all in a lather what he sees is at least eight parts chicken, phony, slob. That is the tragedy. But it is also the news that he is loved anyway, cherished, forgiven, bleeding to be sure, but also bled for. That is the comedy."


I didn't have prepared remarks for the graduates today, since I wasn't going to be able to be there, but here are a few things I would have said. 1. Remember who you are, whose you are and who you represent. Wisdom from my grandmother growing up, very applicable when leaving high school, getting ready for college. 2. Remember that God's grace is bigger than you could ever hope. 3. Remember, you are always loved by your FBC family, especially the Pagliarullo family. 4. Remember there are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who can count and those who can't. Thank you for all of the wonderful memories the past six years! Love you guys!

Graduate Sunday

It's tough not being at the Graduate service this morning at FBC, the last of my "big kids" are graduating. I know I'm where I need to be with my Dad, but it really is difficult to not be there. I'm so proud of each and everyone of them. I know they will do great this morning. You guys are so amazing!

12 Wonderful Years

I still have to pinch myself some mornings when I wake up next to my beautiful bride. It seems the only way for me to be blessed with the wife and children I have been given is because I'm dreaming or because God's grace really is true.i definitely married up! The only way I could end up with Cyd, especially from when we started dating is a testament to God's grace and mercy. She is everything I am not...graceful and grace filled, sophisticated, refined, stunning, patient, kind, trusting...with a heart of gold(I found it Neil Young!). 12 years of marriage seems like 12 weeks. I am more in love and loved than I could ever have dreamt of being. I thank God every day for the grace that God has extended to me through Cyd! I can't wait to see what the next 12 and the next 51 years hold for us!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Buechnerisms pt. 2

"So if preachers or lecturers are to say anything that really matters to anyone including themselves, they must say it not just to the public part of us that considers interesting thoughts about the Gospel and how to preach it, but to the private, inner part too, to the part of us all where our dreams come from, both our good dreams and our bad dreams, the inner part where thoughts mean less than images, elucidation less than evocation, where our concern is less with how the Gospel is to be preached than with what the Gospel is and what it is to us. They must address themselves to the fullness of who we are and to the emptiness too, the emptiness where grace and peace belong but mostly are not because terrible as well as wonderful things have happened to us all." Then he quotes Shakespeare's King Lear. "The weight of this sad time we must obey Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say." [5.3.324-325] Those words are powerful when looking into the face of death with a loved one. The Apostle's words echo, where o death is your sting? The answer is that it is in the eyes of your children as you tell them that Papa is sick and will soon be in heaven with Jesus. The sting of death is the empty cross on that Friday we call "good" in anticipation of Sunday.

Buechnerisms pt.1

"but to preach the Gospel is not just to tell the truth but to tell the truth in love, and to tell the truth in love means to tell it with concern not only for the truth that is being told but with the concern also for the people it is being told to." Telling the Truth p.8

Lessons from Job

The life of Job is one that many people have connected with and found solace from through the centuries. It is an odd book to me, in that it most scholars agree that it predates God's covenant with his people and deals with great challenges of life and faith without really resolving much of the tension that comes from the question of suffering and evil and the presence of God. Perhaps the wise folks that kept it as part of the canon made the best choice to let it speak for itself. I told our college leadership this week that the struggle for most people is we want nice, tidy resolutions to matters of life, faith, and the problem of evil. The Book of Job doesn't really give that to us...rather it gives us the knowledge that God is present even when we feel like he isn't. Is it possible that Job's statement in chapter one is the ultimate answer to suffering, pain, and the problem of evil. If my theology didn't allow for a high view of God's sovereignty there would be many times I would despair and feel all hope is lost...yet hope is the one thing central to the message of the Christian faith, without it when we find ourselves like Job our response is more likely to be that of his wife and friends. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God. (Job 1:21, 22 NLT)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Answer Man

"to speak the truth with love is to run the risk of always of speaking only the truths that people love to hear you speak, and the preacher's temptation, among others, is to deal with those problems only to which there is, however complex and hard to arrive at, a solution." "The cross that is a symbol of defeat before it is a symbol of victory speaks also of the absence of God." "God is not an answer man can give, God says. God himself does not give answers. He gives himself, and into the midst of the whirlwind of his absence gives himself." selections from Telling the Truth by Frederick Buechner

Reflections on Suffering

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11 NLT) I have been reminded lately the God who is present in our great joy and hopeful days is also present in our darker, painful days. It may seem at times that God is absent, but remember that the absence of God as Jesus cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, was necessary for the rejoicing of Resurrection Sunday to have any meaning for this life and the next. As Christians we are called to share in the suffering of Christ as well as his glory. This is not easy in the moment, in fact most of the time the natural reaction is to slip into despair and questioning. Perhaps that's where God wants us at times so that we can better see our need for him.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Seth's Blog: Why ask why?

Seth's Blog: Why ask why?

A great reminder. As a parent I find myself responding with, "because I said so" all too often. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thrift Store Finds

Totally worth the 30 minutes searching through books at the Guntersville Salvation Army Thrift Store to find this for 49 cents!

Defending the Christian Hope

1 Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

Powerful reminder that the hope of the Christian is not in possessions, status, or fame but it is rooted in the gospel. It is what makes us want to stand up and boldly proclaim the message of Christ's life, death, and resurrection. How can we keep quiet about the gospel when it is so important to who we are in Christ and how we live our lives. Yet often we shy away from sharing what God is doing in our live with friends and family as well as strangers. 

We must reclaim the passion for speaking the truth in love, as Peter says in a gentle and respectful way. The tolerant nature of our postmodern culture gives believers the platform to speak truth in ways that history has yet to offer us. We are competing with ideas, but we must remember that we are not competing with people. They are the very reason for us to defend the Christian hope!

Peter Kreeft of Boston College is quoted as saying: 

          Be egalitarian regarding persons.
          Be elitist regarding ideas. (A Faith and Culture Devotional)

I can't help but think that our ideas (God's truth) might gain a larger listening room if we would practice Kreeft's statement. 

College Metro 2012

Had a great week last week in Nashville for the College Metro 2012 conference. It was so encouraging to meet other college ministers/pastors who are in similar settings trying to reach college campuses for the sake of the gospel. This is a very new aspect of my ministry journey so I'm still processing much of what was discussed, but I'm sure I will work through some of that on the blog at some point.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Papa and Nana and Grandkids

Papa and all the Grandkids

The Mystery of Ministry

Nouwen offers a challenge in the following words that are difficult for most ministers. I believe most of us have an inflated view of ourselves. We see ourselves as the life connection for people, in other words their destination rather than a conduit for their destination of finding the love and grace of God. "laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to others as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of life. We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for. The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God."

Just Like Peter

I don't know about you but I find myself readily identifying with Peter more than I care to admit. It seems I am quick to swear allegiance to Christ in my prayer time then quickly find myself denying his existence with my words that maim others, actions that speak of the flesh more than the spirit and attitudes that originate out of self-centered will rather than a humble spirit. Yet I find comfort that Jesus still used Peter to build the church. He used a stumbling, bumbling, cursing, fisherman, to help carry forth the gospel message. Who better to speak of God's grace than one who has experienced the depth of their own sinful heart and the heights of the infinite grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Seth's Blog: Do you have a people strategy?

Seth's Blog: Do you have a people strategy?

Great reminder for anyone or any organization whose most precious commodity is people.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First Visit from the Toothfairy

Nouwen on Leadership

"the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self." "Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time.their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance." Preparing for a college ministry retreat later in May and came across these great insights from Henri Nouwen. Isn't the temptation to be relevant one of the greatest challenges facing the church in 2012.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Graduate Letters

I have spent some time today working on letters to the class of 2012. Several years ago I began the practice of writing letters to our graduates with a word or two of encouragement and perhaps a memory or two from their time in the youth group. It's a bittersweet moment each year. It always brings a smile to my face and the occasional tear as I look back on how God has worked in a particular student's life. This group is especially difficult for me because it was the group I began my ministry with at FBC Statesboro...but I get to keep working with many of them as they begin their collegiate careers at Georgia Southern University in the fall.

Wisdom from Bob Dylan

I love this song more and more the older I get. 
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young.

Such a great prayer for future generations. Working with youth and college students now for more than a decade has taught me that young people have a way of looking at faith that can be a model for those of us who are older, usually in age and faith. They remind us to trust God in all circumstances and to totally rely on him. Sometimes as adults that can be a challenge because we rationalize and categorize our faith in so many different ways that we emasculate it to warming a pew and perhaps a Sunday school chair on Sunday mornings and nothing else.

My prayer for the students I work with now and the ones I have known through the years is that they would stay "forever young" in Christ...keeping that absolute trust and faith in Christ no matter what happens.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding God Along the Journey

Bubba Watson's tweet may make Augusta National nervous

My dad sent this to me this past week. As a kid who grew up watching the Dukes and even having a replica car come to one of my birthday parties, I would love to be able to witness just such an event next April! 
Bubba Watson's tweet may make Augusta National nervous

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tripp's First DQ Experience

A trip to DQ to reward the hard work of helping dad organize his new office.

Surprise Cake

A cake on the last night with the youth. They live to hear all my great jokes!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Last Night at The Gathering

10 Things I’ve Learned Working with Youth at FBC Statesboro
1. You must always laugh at yourself because chances are everyone else is already laughing at you too.
2. You guys are smarter and braver than many people your age. 
3. You are fun to be around, funny looking at times and funny. 
4. You have a depth about you that so many students don’t have. You have a genuine hunger for Christ and to see God glorified and exalted in your lives. 
5. You are a very giving group. You are always willing to serve God and others. 
6. I wouldn’t have made it without caffeine in all its many forms these past 6 years, especially the trips, lockins, coffeetalk, etc. 
7. We have some of the most amazing youth parents, teachers, and volunteers in the world. 
8. Your passion for Jesus and people is contagious. 
9. You never get tired of my extensive knowledge of jokes. 
10. You’ve taught me to love people in my life, including you guys, deeper. 
11. You have taught me a reliance upon God’s Word even more than before in my life. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

God's Art

Beautiful view of the sunset over the cove where my parents are on Lake Guntersville. The backdrop as my step-brother and I fished the channel. God is truly an amazing artist.