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