Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A New Year

I have to admit, I absolutely love this picture. I found this on Greg Boyd's blog, a pastor in Minnesota, a few weeks back. It shows Jesus washing the feet of Osama Bin Ladin, who is right next to the world's major leaders, including President Bush. Its so easy to hate a man as evil as Bin Ladin. Don't get me wrong, I do not like him and I think the world would be safer without him. However, I was reminded of something today. My Dad has started a blog that is reading through the Bible in three years starting today. He has asked his church to read along with him while sharing their insights about the particular chapter being read as well. Today's chapter was Genesis 1, the creation account. Genesis 1 is such a beautiful, poetic account of the way God created the world. In it we are taught that God created humanity in his own image, male and female he created them. God created us. We, as humans, reflect God in the world as his creation. We all are fallen, we know that in chapter 3 of Genesis. But I love that the Bible doesn't start with the fall. It starts with the beautiful poetry of how God created the world, and the perfect rhythm that the world was in when God created it. Jesus came to restore us to that rhythm. One of the things he wants us to do in part of the restoration of the world is to love our enemies. I think this ties back into creation. We are all apart of humanity, all loved by God. In Christ's kingdom how you conquer enemies is not by forceful violence, but by loving service. It is through a towel and not a sword. What a great reminder this picture is. This year, let's show Christ-like love not only to our friends and family, but also our enemies.

Friday, November 30, 2007

National AIDS Day

Today is National AIDS day awareness. This past summer, I had the opportunity to meet many HIV/AIDS victims while in Africa. Some were incredibly sick, with very little hope for recovery. Some were doing extremely well, but still has the scarlet letter of HIV positive branded upon them, and they are treated many times like outcasts in society. I'm glad that the church is starting to finally wake up to this important epidemic. Rick Warren has, and what I like about Pastor Warren is that he does not agree with every body he works with to help solve it. Yesterday in fact he had Hilary Clinton speak at his church, along with video messages by Barak Obama, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee. Check out the article here, and notice Pastor Warren's statement about politics in the second section of the article.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day and Church

For those of you who do not know, I have been preaching at Adamsville Presbyterian Church. Adamsville is a very small community with one blinking light. The congregation, as you can imagine, is small, only about 20-30 members. They are an older congregation, but a very interesting one. There is a judge in the congregation who was a Lt. Colonel for thirty years, and served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Another man, Mr. Perkins just last week set the world record for shot put for 85+ year olds (he turns 90 tomorrow). His story is incredible. He was a POW for over 600 days in a Japanese prison camp in WWII. After church, I talked with him and his wife, and his outlook on life is so positive and the man is still built like a tank. Even as a 90 year old, I would not want to mess with him! The reason we were able to hear these stories is because yesterday was Veteran's day, and we honored those who served in our military. I enjoyed and was humbled hearing the stories of heroism and the service to our country. I was reminded of my uncle who served in Vietnam and received a bronze star.

While I enjoyed hearing the stories of these men and women, and I think that they should be honored, there is a part of me that cringes at this sort of thing in church. Let me say, I love my country, and I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice that our military men and women have made to make America a safe place to live. The problem that I have is that these stories become sermons of nationalism and American patriotism rather than stories of honor. I'm all for honoring these brave people. However, when patriotism and the church come together, the message of Jesus often gets drowned out. Patriotism has the tendency to take the place of the Gospel. I promise more amens are given during a patriotic service, especially in the South, than a sermon on loving one's enemy. Yes, most of the people who founded our nation were Christians, and most were influenced by Judeo-Christian ethics. However, if you read the Declaration of Independence, the god of that document is a creator god. The God in which Christians serve is a God of redemption. God redeemed the world not by force, but by sending his son to die. Jesus did not lead a violent revolution, he only had two swords. But Jesus and the church that followed did not conform to the society around them, which was all about Roman power. I think their goal was to try to model what God has done in their lives and transform culture. So what do we do with national days like Veteran's Day? I think we honor those who served, but be careful about the language about America getting away from God. Our job as Christians is not to conform to patriotism, but rather transform the world through the love of the Triune God.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Child's Love

I haven't been on here in a while. Life has been really good since moving back to Waco full time. I really like it here (of course certain people help out with that). Class has been incredibly busy. I think Truett has stepped it up a notch this year with the work. Today I am headed to Arkansas to see Ryan Blackwell get ordained this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing him and Joel and Bode. I don't have time to post any original thoughts, but here is something nice I found on Ben Witherington III's blog (he's a New Testament scholar):

Love-- as Defined by Children

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?"
The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.
So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."

Rebecca- age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."

Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."

Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs."

Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."

Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."

Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.
My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss"

Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."

Bobby - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,"

Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."

Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."

Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.

He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."

Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody
You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."

Clare - age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."

Elaine-age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."

Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."

Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones."

Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." (what an image)

Karen - age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."

Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."

Jessica - age 8

I think we can learn from these kids! No wonder Jesus said whoever enters the Kingdom of Heaven must enter it like a child.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Holy Ground: The Helpless

This summer I have had the privilege to preach the Sunday night worship service at our church. I had never preached through a whole book before and so after dad and I talked about it, I picked the book of James. Little did I know how much impact it would have on me, and how much of it I would see being played out in Africa. A couple weeks ago, I preached on James 1:27, which says, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." Two things exegetically about the passage. The word for religion is misleading because of the negative way we use religion. The word could and maybe should be translated "worship." So pure worship is to take care of the orphans and widows. The picture there is the most helpless in society. One of the applications you can make is that an unborn baby is the most helpless in our society, which I agree with. But you cannot stop there. There are many in our country who are helpless and need the whole gospel. I had read this passage many, many times and it never hit me though until I visited Africa. There were two ladies over there named Hellena and Leonora who work for an organization called WOFAK, which I've talked about in a previous post. They run a place for orphans and kids whose parents are bedridden with HIV/AIDS to come and get a meal. Because of the stigmatism that goes along with the disease, many of these kids sneak in through the ally way to get their meal so that no one would see them. One of the women, Leonora, has actually adopted and taken in eight of the orphans to be her own. Everyday they face and work with orphans, widows, those who are so sick they cannot even get out of bed. Hellena says that sometimes she even curses God for what she sees. But then they will see a smile from a boy or girl who has been hungry, or for the first time in months, an HIV victim get out of bed and go to work. Then Hellena says, she can do nothing but praise God because of the hope that is there. That is worship, that is religion that is worth something!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Holy Ground and HIV

It's amazing where you become aware of the presence of God. Jacob had a dream in the middle of no-where, and when he woke up he said that God is in this place, and I did not know it. Never in a million years would I think I would be aware of God's presence in the places God made himself known in Kenya. One place I was made aware was an HIV testing room at Beacon of Hope. Beacon of Hope is a holistic ministry center designed to empower women who are HIV positive. They provide nutritional guidance, a school for their kids, classes to learn a skill in order to survive, Bible studies, and support groups. It really is an incredible place. They also provide medical attention for these ladies (and a few men). One of the services they provide is HIV testing. Our whole team was tested for HIV (so was Barak Obama. In fact there is a poster over there that reads Barak Obama knows his status, do you? That's just awesome). The man who did most of our testing, and who did mine, was named Jacob. Jacob is 26 and grew up in Kibera slum. I came in, and he greeted me. We talked about what HIV is and isn't, and also how you can get it and cannot. We talked about my own sex life, and I told him that I am saving myself for marriage. He taught me the "Neema chill" with the peace sign, which is an abstinence movement in Kenya, and then took my blood. It takes about 30 minutes to show the results, so we sat there and talked for 30 minutes. Jacob is probably the most dynamic Christian I have ever met. He grew up in extreme poverty and the problems that come with poverty. HIV/AIDS, drugs, alcohol abuse, and crime were and still are rampant in the area he grew up in. When Jacob was 15, a friend of his led him to Christ, and it dramatically changed his life. Jacob said for the first time he had hope for a better life, that life was worth living. The problems did not stop after receiving Christ for Jacob. He told me that he's had a brother and sister, and 15 other friends die from HIV/AIDS. Through these experiences Jacob told me that God revealed to him that he had to help out some how. He didn't have the grades or money to get into medical school, but got certified to administer HIV tests. He told me that everyone who comes into that room, he prays for, and has seen 100's of people come to Christ as a result of him sharing during that 30 minute time period it takes to get the results. As I'm sitting there, in a room no bigger than most people's bathrooms, I realized God is in that room, and I, I did not know it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Holy Ground 2

I apologize for the time between my last post and this one. Life has been crazy since I've been back, and I have not really had much time to just sit and write. My Kenya experience opened my eyes to where God is working in the world. There are some people whose situations in life when viewed from the outside appear to be a hell on earth. (I do believe in hell as being eternal separation from God, but I also believe that there are places on earth where people live in a hell so to speak. Ludacris actually has a good song about this called Runaway Love). One woman I actually did not get to meet, but some teammates of mine did. Her name is Lucy. Lucy is an HIV/AIDS victim who is getting helped out by an organization called WOFAK (Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya). Lucy has three kids, all of them school age. She has been bed-ridden for the past four months now. Three months ago her husband was killed after getting hit by a train coming home from work. He was her only provider as she is too weak to really get out of bed, much less work. She is now three months behind on rent in an apartment not much bigger than an Tahoe or Escalade, and she is about to be evicted from her apartment. If anybody has a bone to pick with God, it's Lucy. To an outsider, she is living hell on earth. My friends went into this apartment not knowing exactly what to expect after hearing some of her story on the walk to her apartment. As they walked in they found Lucy reading her Bible. She said to them, "This (the Bible) is my bread. This is what satisfies me." She told them that God wasn't through with her yet. In that room, my friends experienced holy ground. When they told the rest of us the story that night, there was a silence in the room. We all knew somehow that God, in the midst of this hell, had somehow exalted Lucy to a place where she finds satisfaction. No wonder James writes, "Let the poor Christian boast in their exaltation."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Holy Ground 1

Growing up in church you hear all the rules about how to act at church: don't run, don't wear your hat, don't wear shorts (at least in my family), no jeans on Sunday morning, no sandals (even though I still argue that's what Jesus wore), and other rules. After all church (the building) is the "House of the Lord," and you would not want to desecrate "Holy Ground." When I was a youth minister in Oklahoma, I had some of the poorest kids in the country in my youth group. I would always get in trouble for what they were wearing, what they broke, how fast they were moving. And why? Because it is the House of God, holy ground. There's a lot of people that feel that way. At the church where I serve right now, we are going through VBS and a couple of kids were running down an aisle, and got chewed out for doing so. Again, Holy ground, the House of God. But what really is Holy Ground? I understand wanting to keep a building looking good, and I'm all for that. However, I do think we ought to rethink using the House of God, Holy Ground argument. I got back from Kenya a week ago. I was there for 2 weeks, and they were the most enjoyable two weeks of my life. It wasn't anything that I did. It was because for the first time in my life, I was on Holy Ground. I'm not saying Kenya itself is Holy, it is as fallen as any other place. But God is definitely at work there in places that you do not expect. In fact, Holy Ground in the Bible is found in unexpected places as well. Take for instance the story of Moses. Here is a man who grew up in the privileged house of Pharaoh. He saw one of his own people get murdered so he took revenge and hid the victim in the sand. Moses then flees to the backwoods, and for forty years hides out there in his father-in-law's house. Then out of no where, in the middle of no where, as the Hebrew reads behind the dessert (you can't be anymore backwoods than that) YHWH appears to Moses in a burning bush that does not burn. And what does God say about that place in the middle of no where behind the dessert, "The place where you are standing is Holy Ground." It wasn't a grand temple, or a wealthy city, it was a bush in the middle of nowhere that God declared Holy Ground. In another story, Jacob was fleeing his brother Esau. The Genesis account then says Jacob rested his head in a "certain place." In other words, in the middle of nowhere. But it was there in that certain place that Jacob had a dream of a ladder going up to heaven, and God made a promise to Jacob. When Jacob woke up, he said, "God is in this place, and I did not know it." In a certain place and in a burning bush behind the dessert, God revealed himself to these two pillars of faith, and changed the course of not only their lives, but the course of the history of God's people. In Kenya, I got a glimpse of this, and my next few posts will tell the stories of where and how God is working in unexpected places.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


My last post was rather negative toward Baptists and public schools. Let me say that it is not the majority of Baptists who believe that way, but many in leadership do feel that way. That's what scares me. What also scares me is that most people in the pew do not know that is going on. Just on my own experience within churches, I would guess that 5-10% of the congregation is made up of public school leaders: whether they be teachers, coaches, janitors, principles, or administrators of some kind. I commend you and your willingness to be a Christian in the public schools.

I also did not want to leave for Africa on a negative post. I am asking for your prayers for the 100 people from Waco who are going over there. We will be visiting different orphanages and visiting those who are suffering from AIDS. Pray for us that God may open our hearts to the oppressed, and that we may join God at His work among them. I leave you now with a prayer by an unknown source that is dear to my heart:

"Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Public Schools

This summer the SBC in San Antonio will vote on a resolution to start an "exodus" from the public schools in America. The sponsor of the resolution, Vodi Baucham, whom I like, reasons, "If the SBC and American Christianity are to survive in any culturally relevant way, we are going to have to repent of our unfaithfulness in the education of our children." Is he serious? The President of Southern Seminary, Al Mohler, has been on record as saying that Southern Baptists need an "exit strategy" to get out of public schools. The resolution itself says that our school system an "anti-Christian government school system." This makes me absolutely sick, but not surprised. Before I get into this very much, let me say that one of my best friends growing up, Philip Childree, was homeschooled. Also, two of my best friends in college, Ryan and Bode, were educated at Shiloh Christian School (go Saints) in Arkansas. I myself attended OBU, a private university. I have no problem if a parent wants to homeschool or perhaps if the public schools education is not up to par, sending their kids to private be it Christian or other. However, what kind of message does planning an exit strategy from the public schools send to our society? Yes, I agree that parents have a responsibility to help educate and disciple their kids. But this to me, says that we have all the answers, you have nothing to say to us, and we are just going to let you go to hell. Invoking the language of an exodus? What are our Christian kids enslaved to? Algebra 1? US History? And then the kicker for me, "remaining culturally relevant." How do we remain "culturally relevant" when we are not willing to engage culture? Are we worried that our perfect, Christian kids will be infected with sin? Oh wait, they already are. Are we worried that sinners might find Jesus with our kids effecting the school from the inside? Hmmm. There was another group who stayed away from sinners, Pharisees. What was their punishment? Oh yeah, the fires of hell.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Just Checking In

It has been a while since I have last posted. I have much to say about a lot of things, but not enough time. This week is finals week for me and I have a lot to do. In about a week and a half I am going to Kenya to work at an AIDS orphanage for two weeks. It promises to be a life changing experience for my team and I. Please pray for us as we travel and are over there doing ministry. I leave you now with a prayer by an unknown author:

Almighty and ever-living God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen
Peace be with you all.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Please be in prayer for some family friends of mine. I played high school basketball with two brothers, the Bailey twins. They were involved in an unfortunate situation last week, with Jonathan going to be with the Lord. Also, be in prayer for all those involved with the altercation, as things are about to get nasty. God, grant us the strength to forgive when we can't, and the ability to accept your grace when we don't have it. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Bible in a Bar

I saw this article the other day and thought that it was a cool idea. It's interesting that this is a Southern Baptist Church in Missouri. It is a great example of bringing the gospel into the world rather than the world coming to us. It's not for everybody, but read it and let me know what you all think.

Bible and Beer

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I need to be Studying . . .

I really should be studying right now, but I have not updated in a while, so I thought I would. There are a lot of things that have happened in my life since my last blog. The best change of course is Lindsey. There have been a lot of things that I have wanted to blog about, but I have not taken the time to do so. For instance, I got to go to Rob Bell's church, Mars Hill, for a pastor's conference. It was incredible. I will get back to blogging, I promise. However, just for a teaser, I will leave you with an article to think about. Christians are just so smart . . .
Jerry Falwell