Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Reflections on Discipleship

I am preparing to teach a course on Evangelism and Discipleship at Guido Bible Institute in Metter, so I have been trying to absorb some "new to me" books on those two topics to help enrich the class lectures. I came across a book by N.T. Wright entitled Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship and soaked it up in about a week. It is essentially a collection of sermons/lectures he has given around this theme. As with anything I have read by Wright I was challenged to expand my understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. I was also encouraged by what God is doing in and through me, as I am shaped on the anvil of Christ. Below are two comments that have really stuck with me.

Let's make no mistake about it; until you learn to live without fear you won't find it easy to follow Jesus. p. 67

The answer to temptation is to find out, perhaps painfully and over a long period, what it is about you that is at the moment out of shape, distorted, in pain. Then one may begin to find out, again often painfully, how it is that God longs to help you to get what is distorted back into focus; to get what is crooked back into shape; to get what is bruised and hurt back into health. p. 88 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Letters From A Skeptic

I finished reading Letters From A Skeptic recently and I was reminded of the power of honest questions and answers in helping a person discover Jesus. The book is a composite of letters between a father and son (Ed Boyd and Greg Boyd) as the father slowly makes a journey toward faith and belief in Jesus. His questions about Christianity are honest and straightforward for his son, who is a minister and theologian. Greg Boyd offers his dad, well thought-out answers, not patent Sunday school answers in an effort to be authentic. In the letters the reader sees the growth of the relationship between father and son in addition to the necessary spiritual growth of the senior Boyd.

This is a great resource for someone who is wrestling with questions about Christianity, the Bible, and Jesus. Because the letter format is preserved, the material comes across as genuine rather than academic, ethereal discussions about key doctrines and finer points of theology.

If you have a family member or friend who is struggling with certain aspects of Christianity this book is a great resource to give them. Read it with them and discuss the topics that the Boyd's cover.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Praying for LIC

Praying for the work of the kingdom going on in Long Island City. Missing my time there. It served as a great reminder of the burden to see college students encounter Jesus and grow in their relationship with him.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Value in Laughter

Do you remember what it was like to lose yourself in laughter as a child? My kids can each get tickled and begin laughing so much that it almost takes there breath away. Tonight I had to run to the store to pick up a few things. As I was standing in line for the checkout, the lady in front of me looked and said "You have to laugh at yourself sometimes." Such a true statement. There are times when if you can't laugh at yourself then you will cry your eyes out. Don't take yourself too serious. Let yourself laugh. It makes you a better person to be around.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Sometimes when you make your living teaching and preaching you feel like you connect with people and they get it, really and truly. Other times you feel like you totally botch it up and the only hope of the gospel shining through is because that's what the gospel does. It shines through the FUBAR situations of our life.

That's what I need tonight. Come Lord Jesus.

A Prayer for Being in the Way

I read a review of a newly released book by Flannery O'Connor that struck me in the most unusual way today.

Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth's shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know You God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gospel Encounters in the Office

I traveled last week all the way to NYC on a mission trip with some of our college students. Yesterday, as I came into the office a little later in the day to finish sorting through everything from the trip, a young man on the phone wanted to talk to a minister. I was the only one here, so I agreed to meet with him. He biked over to the church and came into my office to share his story of searching for something more in life. He has struggled with substance abuse for many years, and recently chose to make a decision to be sober. As good as that decision has been for him, it hasn't been easy. He was still searching for something more, something beyond just sobriety. Through AA he was wrestling with spirituality and came to the realization that he needed to commit his life to Christ. I listened, shared a few things, then had the opportunity to lead him to Jesus as we talked about sin, grace, God's love, and the redemption offered to us in Jesus. I was totally blown away by God! I came into the office yesterday thinking I had a few things I needed to get done, yet God reminded me that my agenda is not as important as the gospel coming to fruition in a person's life!

Later yesterday afternoon, I had a college student seeking advice and counsel about a few areas of life. I was reminded of truly how difficult the Christ life is for college students. So much garbage is around that they deal with, so many complex situations and relationships. Yet in the midst of that, there are many who are truly seeking to live a life that is centered around the gospel so that their entire lives become "living sacrifice's" that Paul talks about in Romans.

So thankful for getting to catch a glimpse of God's work yesterday!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Narrative Mapping Day 1

Tuesday we spent the day conducting surveys gathering data about the spiritual, economic, and residential aspects of a portion of Long Island City. We had some challenging encounters, some discouraging responses and some encouraging responses as well. Praying for more opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus today.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Prayer Walking LIC

Great morning prayer walking through Long Island City today. Amazing to see the potential for God's Kingdom around us.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Missions and Family

Though it is difficult to pack and prepare for a mission trip anywhere and at anytime, I believe that the pull of family makes it even harder. So many things to do and be concerned over both for the mission trip and for the family that you leave behind for a week. You often wonder if it is worth the hassle and the headaches. In my experience the trip has always taught me a lot and stretched me to grow beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. Better still is the reaffirmation that there is nothing like coming home to your wife and kids! Those periods of absence make my heart grow ever fonder. I'm also thankful I don't have a job that requires travel from home every week! Looking forward to coming home already!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

College Mission Trip to Long Island City

Saturday it am leading a team of college students and adults to Long Island City, NY to partner with a new church plant in that area. We have a great group going to serve alongside Patrick Thompson and his team with Church. We will be doing some narrative mapping using surveys in addition to some street cleanup. Can't wait to see what God has in store for us. Pray that we would be effective with our witness for the sake of the kingdom.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Accepting God's Ways

The Teacher in Ecclesiastes records these words, "Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked" (7:13). These simple words are a powerful reminder of the sovereignty of God over your life and mine. The remind us that God's love and care for his children can never be stopped. They also remind us that it is not up to us to determine the course of our lives and how our futures will shape up. Who are we to question God? Yet, God is not caught off guard by our questions. I need to know that there is someone else outside of myself in control of my life. I need to know that I don't have all the answers because he does. I need to know that his purpose for me is greater than my purpose for myself. This truth gives me comfort and hope beyond my finite self. It's not easy to live this out, but I have to believe that God is satisfied with just the attempt sometimes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dealing with Sin One Temptation at a Time

A few days ago I read through the temptation narrative in Matthew 4. I was struck by the commonality of the temptations that the devil offered Jesus. They were as basic as every day needs of nutrition. Is food evil? No it's a good thing for us to have food so that we can sustain our bodies to do kingdom work. Jesus refuses Satan's offer to change stones into bread not because it was a morally bankrupt decision but because it was settling for less than God's best plan for him. With our lives the same can be said, we often settle for a good thing by giving into temptation rather than waiting on The Lord for the best thing.

For instance, a person needs money to live and pay bills, but stealing that money from someone else isn't the best way to obtain it. We should work at our job for that money so that we can honestly meet our financial obligations. The same could be said with sex. Sex is a good thing, something that God ordained to be celebrated between a man and a woman united as one  in marriage. When we take the good gift of sex and twist it with sex outside of a biblical marriage covenant, we are giving into temptation by settling for something less than God's best for us. How will you choose this week to say no to those temptations that you are faced with?

You see temptation and our struggle with sin can be a huge challenge because we look at our sin and see the Mt. Everest. We forget that defeating sin in our lives is about winning each battle against temptation decision at a time. You can't gain victory over sin in one swift swoop, just as you can't climb Everest in one step or even one attempt. The mountain is successfully summited  when we take one step at a time and one day at a time rather than trying to do it all at once. Celebrate the small victories over temptation each day because ultimately that leads to spiritual formation of Christ in you,which is our ultimate purpose.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Family and Chuck Norris

Today is my cousin, Brad's birthday so I thought about listing ten reasons why he is an amazing person for today's post. Then I thought about listing ten things about our family, so what I came up with instead is a combination of the two.

Here is the list in no particular order:

10. Our family is loud and crazy most of the time.
9. Brad was a college athlete, he played golf at Valdosta State.
8. Our family is fiercely loyal to each other, we are after all Italians.
7. Brad recently got engaged to a wonderful young lady, keeping the tradition of "marrying up" alive.
6. Our family will also talk about each other. If you join in and aren't family, you may find yourself sleeping with the fishes. See #8
5. Brad is a golf-pro in Tampa. Can you say dream job?
4. Our family has always been a source of encouragement and safety for each of us.
3. Brad shares a birthday with Chuck Norris, completely awesome!
2. # 3 makes him B-Rad which is an awesome nickname for someone born in the 1980s. Of course he would still be that way because he is part of our family!
1. Brad loves Jesus, which makes everything else pale in comparison!

Thankful for Brad and our family!
Happy Birthday cuz!

Sunday, March 9, 2014


So I have been encouraged by a few at returning to this discipline of writing on here, but it hasn't come as easy as it once did. I find myself at a loss for how to say things. I guess this is what writers might call writer's block. At first I really thought this would be easy to do again. It might have been easier to give up something for Lent rather than picking up something. We shall find out come April 20th.

Praying that the Lord's day is a time of reflection and rest for you.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Loss at Lent

It's been a crazy day today. Still trying to come to grips with the loss of a precious life. Thankful to honor his memory and celebrate his life. Praying for God's comfort and peace! One week is just the beginning of losing a loved one, but having family and friends to support you is so crucial. In many ways the further I move beyond my Dad's death the harder it is to find comfort and hope in the midst of loss. The pain and hurt can be absolutely overwhelming...yet there is a real understanding of our need for God in these difficult days.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sabbath Need

The last few weeks have been hectic to say the least. Personally and professionally I have been pushed to my limits physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In my mind I know what I need is sabbath rest, forcing myself to observe that is quite a challenge. There are things still unfinished for work and as most know there is always something to do when you own a house. Endless laundry, dishes, yard and house projects. Yet I know that the Holy Spirit is calling me to pause and allow The Lord to replenish and refresh me. It's no coincidence that some of the scriptures I have been reading lately have spoken to this very need for us as believers to draw aside and spend time restoring my soul so I am better able to serve The Lord each day.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Drudgery or Delight

The cold, rainy day here in Statesboro makes you want to stay inside with a cup of coffee or hot tea and read a good book. Unfortunately, most of us don't have that luxury. We have school, work, meetings, and appointments. The challenge is to find joy in the midst of the gloominess of our life circumstances.
King David wrote, "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires" (Psalm 37:4). I love to remind myself of this verse often, because my heart can easily be swayed to seek joy, delight, and pleasure in so many other things other than him. I also love this verse on days like today, because it is a reminder that despite my circumstances (in this case, the weather) God is calling me to something beyond myself and beyond my circumstances.

What are you delighting in?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Picking Up Lent

It has been a while...I hate when I read that on other blogs I follow, albeit somewhat sporadically. It Implies that anyone really is waiting for me to write something on here...that's a little prideful. I have wanted to com back to posting but I must admit what was once therapeutic and helped me connect to my dad who when I started this wasn't on any social media. Dad has been gone 2 years come May, is it easier, no not really, just different. After he passed it was difficult for me to write on here as I sorted through my own grief and sorrow. Now it feels weird.

I have prayed about what to observe for Lent this year. I thought about social media, coffee, meat, sweets but most of those seem to be about abstaining rather than learning a new discipline, at least as I approached them in my heart. So I am going to try something equally as challenging for me as abstaining from all those ther things, blogging each day for the journey through Lent to Easter. For me this will be challenging in different ways as far as time, emotions, and something worth commenting on. Not sure yet how it will flesh out, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

So if you are so inclined join with me and let's see how Christ is formed in us for the next 40 or so days.

Blessings along your journey!