Alora's Surgery Date

We found out that Alora's surgery will take place on January 19th. She'll have to be in Charleston by the 18th. Please pray that we will be able to get into the Ronald McDonald House or at least, find cheap lodging near the hospital.


Virginia is for Lovers...

Virginia is for lovers...and time with family! Amy, Alora, and I arrived in at her parents house last night. We recieved a warm welcome from Jerry, Vivian, Ashley, Sammy, Jeremy, and Tiffany. I know that we are going to enjoy our two-week-stay with them.

An End to Moving

After taking a break (for Christmas), Amy and I were able to get everything moved to my Grandfather's house and storage. (Let me just say that I really hate moving. I always seem to get distracted and lose track of what we have to do.) I am not sure when (or where) we will be moving next, but for now we are enjoying our time with my Grandfather (and parents). I am so thankful that the Lord has provided us with family (and friends) who have been so willing to help us during this strange/difficult/uncertain time in our lives.


On the Move...

Thanks to the help of a lot of friends (Jonathan, Caleb, my dad, the Hissoms, the Lewis and others) we were able to move a majority of our possessions to Honea Path on Wednesday. Amy and I still have to pack up a few random items, paint a wall, and clean the house, but I'm sure we'll be done soon. I'll try to blog about a funny thing (involving the police) that happened to us on Wednesday night. Until then, have a great day!


A "Christmas" Album Recommendation

Among all of your other Christmas albums, you should be sure to pick up Andrew Peterson's, Behold the Lamb: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ. If you are looking for a traditional Christmas album, then this is not the album you want. But if you would like to hear a CD that beautifully recounts the story of redemption (filled with Old Testament messianic symbols/prophesies), then you should listen to this album. The album also features Jill Phillips and Derek Webb, among others. Enjoy.

Battling Defeater Beliefs

Recently, I came across an article by Tim Keller which I found to be very helpful in regard to apologetics/evangelism. The article contains some great thoughts about sharing the gospel in various cultures. Here is an except from the article:
Christianity is disbelieved in one culture for totally opposite reasons it is disbelieved in another. So for example, in the West (as we will explore below) it is widely assumed that Christianity can't be true because of the cultural belief there can't be just one "true" religion. But in the Middle East, people have absolutely no problem with the idea that there is just one true religion. That doesn't seem implausible at all. Rather there it is widely assumed that Christianity can't be true because of the cultural belief that American culture, based on Christianity, is unjust and corrupt. (Skeptics out to realize, then, that the objections they have to the Christian faith are culturally relative!) So each culture has its own set of culturally-based doubt-generators which people call 'objections' or 'problems' with Christianity. (Note: The type in bold was underlined in the original.)
The entire article is available here.



The past few days have been filled with changes, as Amy and I prepare to move. Here are a few changes that have been taking place in our lives:

*Sunday, 11th: Preached my last (?) sermon at Roper Mt. Baptist.

*Monday, 12th: We found out that our daughter has to have open heart surgery in Charleston, so we had to postpone our move to seminary. Instead of moving to Wake Forest, NC, we'll be moving to Honea Path, SC.

*Wednesday, 14th: We sold our home. Taught my last mid-week bible study at Roper Mt. Baptist.

*Friday, 16th: Started packing up our belongings.

*Sunday, 18th: Taught my last Sunday School class at Roper Mt. Baptist. Went to my last youth Christmas party at Roper. Had a farewell party after the evening service.

*Monday, 19th: Took our dog, Tozer, to the pound because we couldn't take him with us to Honea Path. (Hopefully, someone will adopt him. He really is an awesome dog.) Went with Amy to her last event/dinner at Miller Oaks (a retirement community where Amy assisted the residents).

Please continue to pray for our family as we seek to trust and follow the Lord. Although these changes are difficult/sad, we have peace in knowing that we can trust God to guide us daily.


Decentering the Self

"In short, confidence in the Bible as the infallible Word of God is not epistemological foundationalism tricked out with a few Bible verses. It has been and is a challege to Enlightenment idolatry, and it remains a challenge to postmodern idolatries. An infinite triune God who speaks to us in His Scripture is one who radically decenters the self. This is what flips the Enlightenment project upside down, and it does the same for postmodern posturing. This is because the Self is the central idol of secular man. In the old Enlightenment days, the Self was up in front of the classroom, pompously lecturing, and these days, that Self has checked into therapy. But moving from self-centered bombast to self-centered whining is not repentance." -Doug Wilson


Alora's Heart: More Than a Murmur


Yesterday, Amy and I took Alora to have her heart murmur checked out. Although most heart murmurs are not a cause for concern, we discovered that Alora's murmur is a sign of something more serious. According to the Pediatric Cardiologist, Alora has a congenital heart disease known as an Atrial Septal Defect. According to the Cove Point Foundation,
Larger ASDs, which are more likely to remain open, cause an excessive flow of blood into the right atrium, right ventricle and pulmonary artery (see animation). This enlarges the right atrium and right ventricle (dilatation) and causes high pressures in the pulmonary artery that will eventually distort its shape and may rarely damage the blood vessels in the lungs.The enlargement of the right atrium can result in abnormal heart rhythms. These effects are not reversed by closing the ASD after the damage has been done. Heart failure is likely when a person with an untreated ASD reaches young adulthood.

In order to correct the problem, Alora is going to have to have open heart surgery sometime in January. As many of you are aware, Amy and I have just sold our home so that we could move to Southeastern Seminary at the end of this month. Yet, we are having to adjust our plans so that Alora can have this important operation. Instead of moving to North Carolina, we will be moving in with my grandfather in Honea Path, SC. (He has graciously open his home to us, so that we do not have to worry about finding a place to rent.) This move will allow us to be close to my parents (they live across the street from my grandfather) and close to Charleston (where the surgery will take place.) After the surgery takes place, I assume that Amy and I will live with my grandfather until after the summer. (This will also be around the time when our second child will be born, Lord willing!) In regard to seminary, hopefully I will be able to take classes from an extention center in Anderson, SC. I do not plan on looking for a job until the surgery is over because I know that the next month will be a bit crazy for our family.


Amy and I praise God that Alora's pediatrician noticed a problem and helped us find out about this serious condition. We also feel so blessed because the doctor that we will be working with is a fellow believer! Our Lord is so gracious! We know that the Lord is going to use this time to grow and mature our faith in Him.

Here are a few ways in which you can pray for our family: Please pray that we will not worry and stress over this situation. Pray that our move to Honea Path will go well. Pray for the healing of Alora's heart (whether this comes through surgery or another way that pleases our Lord). Pray for our financial situation. (Thankfully Alora has full medical coverage that will not cost us anything!) Pray that I will be able to find a job after I move to Honea Path.

Thank you so much for your prayers and concerns. I will post updates and new information when it is available. If you have a website/blog, please feel free to link to this post so that others can be informed.


Praying for the Blacks'

Dave and BeckyLynn Black will be traveling to Ethiopia from December 13th to January 17th. If you would like to join in prayer for them, then an itenary/prayer guide is available here.

Understanding the Cooperative Program

Would you be surprised to know that only $0.02 of every dollar given to the Cooperative Program (it's a Southern Baptist thing) goes to overseas missions? If you would like to better understand how money is distributed when given to the Cooperative Program, then you should read Tom Ascol's latest blog entry here.

Shortage of Sand in the Sahara

"...if Jesus is Lord and cares for the poor and the oppressed, then we ought to have nothing to do with economic systems that do nothing but increase the misery of the poor, all done while pretending that they care. If we put a socialist government in charge of the Sahara, it would not be long before we had a shortage of sand." -Doug Wilson


Unoriginal Thoughts About Church Gatherings

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the Church; specifically, I've been pondering over the question: what should our Christian gatherings really "look" like? I am honestly trying to take a fresh look at the NT, and I hope that the conclusions I reach are unoriginal. Meaning, I hope that I can get past my own preconceived notions and can really grasp what the Scriptures teach us about Christian gatherings? So, here are a few of my initial thoughts and/or questions:

*Why do most churches only celebrate the Lord's Supper four times a year, especially considering 1 Corinthians 11:26: "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." This seems like something we should do more frequently. Why not celebrate the Lord's Supper every week when when we gather?

*Should we really call our gatherings "worship services," especially when considering these points: First, worship is not something that should be restricted to a few hours in the week. We should be worshiping when we gather together each and everyday by offering our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Are we presenting a false dichotomy by referring to our gatherings as "worship services."
Second, the primary purpose of our gatherings seems to be for the edification of one another. Consider Hebrews 10:24, 25: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (NIV).

*The Body is not one member, but many. If this is true (and it is), why don't we allow more oportunities and flexability within our gatherings so that the whole body could use their spiritual gifts, as the Lord leads?

Of course, these just a few of my thoughts. If you have any insights or thoughts that you would like to add, I would appreciate your comments.


Thoughts About Moving

As Amy and I begin to box up our possessions and prepare to move from Greenville, I have been thinking about the time we have spent here. Although I am glad that the Lord is giving me an opportunity to go to seminary, I am still going to miss Greenville. This place has been our home for the last five years (and much longer for me.) Although we will miss the mountains and the city, we will mostly miss our family and friends.

In regard to family, I think that this move is going to be especially difficult for my parents because I am an only child, and this will be the first time in 23 years that I will be living more than an hour away from them. Yet, on the bright side, we will only be three hours away from Amy's family, as opposed to eight hours!

Amy and I will also be moving away from some of our friends. (Sanchez, are you ready to come visit us in NC? Travis and Abigail, we are truly going to miss hanging out with both of you on Sunday afternoons.) Yet, we will also be moving closer to other friends: Cecil (when he comes back to the States), Erynne, John, and Dawn.

I know that Amy and I will also deeply miss our church family. Over the last two and a half years we have grown so close to the youth and other members of Roper Mt. Baptist. It is sad to think that I will only have about three more Wednesdays to teach and fellowship with the youth before we move to Wake Forest.

Although Amy and I have so many things we want to say to each of the people who mean so much to us, those words will have to wait a few more weeks. But until then, please let these words linger in your ears:

We love you.

A Couple of Quotes

Here are a couple of great quotes from two books that I am currently reading:

The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll...

Reformission is ultimately about being like Jesus, through his empowering grace. One of the underlying keys to reformission is knowing that neither the freedom of Christ nor our freedom in Christ is intended to permit us to dance as close to sin as possible without crossing the line. But both are intended to permit us to dance as close to sinners as possible by crossing the lines that unnecessarily seperate the people God has found from those he is still seeking...The mission is to be close to Jesus. This transforms our hearts to love what he loves, hate what he hates, and to pursue relationships with lost people in hopes of connecting with them, and subsequently, connecting them with him. This actually protects us from sin, because the way to avoid sin is not to avoid sinners but to stick close to Jesus.

From Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson...

The end of all Christian belief and obedience, witness and teaching, marriage and family, leisure and work life, preaching and pastoral work is the living of everything we know about God: life, life, and more life. If we don't know where we are going, any road will get us there. But if we have a destination--in this case a life lived to the glory of God--there is a well-marked way, the Jesus revealed Way. Spiritual theology is the attention that we give to the details of living life on this way. It is a protest against theology depersonalized into information about God; it is protest against theology functionalized into a program of stategic planning for God.


Living Trustable Truth

In a recent post (Scripture: Authority and Inerrancy) Scot McKnight writes:
What I’d rather confess about the Bible is that the Scripture is true — and then I want the confession to go further to the point where the Scripture is trustable truth. And then we need to go yet further: do I live it out? Living trustable truth.

That is, God speaks and we can trust that God is speaking to us in Scripture. But, believing that is designed so we will trust it and live it out. I believe the Bible is trustable truth. We can trust what is said. If you tell me that you think Scripture is true, well and good — what I want to know is if you trust it by living it out. This is what Scripture is all about: it is God’s story that we enter into so that God’s story becomes our story. This only happens if we trust it by embodying it — in how we live. Living trustable truth. (Italics added).
In my opinion, this is where the "rubber meets the road" regarding debates about scripture/inerrancy/authority. Does it really matter if a person holds a high view of Scripture if he/she fails to live according to the truth of Scripture. (And I do believe most people who have a high view of Scripture are trying to live out the trustable truth.) I pray that we would each affirm that Scripture gives us the true word of God by living according to the true word of God.


Heart Murmur

Yesterday, the doctor noticed that Alora had a slight heart murmur. We are not sure if it is serious or not. According to the Nemours Foundation, most murmers are not a cause for concern and do not affect a child's health, but there is also the possibilty that Alora could have a congenital heart defect. Whatever the case, we are trusting the Lord to take care of Alora. Would you please join us in praying for Alora and this situation? All of your prayers would be most appreciated. I will update everyone as soon as we have more information.



In a recent editorial for Relevent Magazine, Whiting Out Our Sins: Banned Books, Kristen McCarty writes the following:
There are children who grow up in happy homes, untouched by abuse or tragedy. They have both a mother and father who love them. They have enough to eat every night and have friends at school. Perhaps they've never been exposed to racism or poverty. I was one of those kids, and I'm so thankful to have had the childhood I did. But many of my friends and schoolmates did not. Lyndon B. Johnson once made the claim, “Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.” I know that in my own childhood and young adulthood, reading books...shaped and changed me. They gave me pictures of what other lives drastically different from my own looked like. They helped me to form empathy for the pain of others and tools for relating to those I had nothing in common with. It's sad and a little bit scary to think that if some people had their way, those books would never have been available to me to read in my school or neighborhood library.
After reading this editorial, I began to have a lot of questions in regard to censorship: When is censorship helpful? When is censorship harmful? Can we ever be truly consistent in regard to censorship? Although I have began to formulate answers to these questions, I still have a long way to go in my thoughts. Yet, one thing has become clear to me: Censorship comes from all sides. People want to censor the things that they disagree with, while calling for "no censorship" in regard to things they affirm.

Just to add to the discussion you may want to check out the
Banned Books Week, which is sponsored by American Library Association. The Banned Books Week "celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."

So, what are your thoughts on censorship? Do you agree with the stance of the ALA regarding censorship? How should Christians respond to censorship issues involving tough issues such as pornography, etc? Let's join in on this conversation together. Post your thoughts in the comment section.


51 Churches

Sorry that it has been a while since I posted, but Amy, Alora, and I were visiting my family for most of last week, and I didn't feel like using my parents dial-up internet service. (It is horribly slow and frustrating.) Anyway, while eating at my Grandfather's house, I noticed a newspaper clipping on the refrigerator. The clipping was a "letter to the editor" from a man who was currently in a local jail. In the letter, the man explained that he was in jail because he had lost his job and was unable to pay child support. While he has been serving time, has been writing letters to different churches in order to ask them for prayer and advice. Yet, out of the 51 letters letters that he sent, only one pastor took the time to write him back. After thanking the pastor who responded to his letter, the man asked, "What has happened to our churches?" I believe the man has a very good question, though I am sure that many of the churches were unaware that the man tried to contact them. So, maybe the question should be "what has happened to pastors?" Although I realize that pastors can get very busy, this doesn't mean that they (or the churches) can ignore/neglect those who are seeking help.


World Christians

Although we (Christians living in America) can boast of having freedom to express our faith, I wonder how much we have become bound by the American version of Christianity that is prone to be self-centered, consummerist, nationalistic, shallow, and lazy? I am afraid that our American freedoms have lulled us into being unconcerned, complacent, compromising Christians. Very rarely do we experience the persecutions that many of our non-American sisters and brothers face on a daily basis, yet their faith seems bolder and stronger. I have to admit that I do not want to suffer, but maybe we need a little more suffering and persecution in America so that we will wake up from our comfortable slumber. I am afraid that we have come to expect that we each deserve peace and prosperity; rather, we must remember these words: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you as though something stange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:12,13). Christ died for us. Many people die for Christ each day. Can we not at least live boldly for him? In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller confesses:
If I live what I believe, then I don't live very many noble things. My life
testifies that the first thing I believe is that I am the most important person
in the world. My life testifies to this because I care more about my food and
shelter and happiness than about anybody else.
Sadly, I think that most of us are self-centered. We care more about safety/shelter/etc. than we care about Christ.
Also, "American Christianity" has led too many people to take more pride in being American than being Christian. One of my favorite chapters from D.A. Carson's book, The Cross and Christian Ministry, is called "The Cross and the World Christian." In the chapter Carson writes:
[Christians] can be caught up in flag-waving nationalism that puts the interests of my nation or my class or my race or my tribe or my heritage above the demands of the kingdom of God. Instead of feeling that their most important citizenship is in heaven, and that they are just passing through down here on their way "home" to the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22-23), they become embroiled with petty priorities that constitute an implicit denial of the lordship of Christ. What we need, then, are world Christians--not simply American Christians or British Christians or Kenyan Christians, but world Christians"
I pray that a day will come when we will no longer hail our loudest allegiance to America; rather, let us lay down our American "badges," and proclaim that our allegiance is to Christ and His kingdom!


Travis' Pictures of Alora

Travis and Abigail spent the day with Amy and I on Sunday. This is one of the pictures that Travis took of Alora. You can see a few more pictures here.


Patriotism vs. Nationalism

Over the past few days I have continued to think about the proper relationship between Christianity and County (see Allegiance). (Special thanks to Amy, Travis , and Abigail for their helpful insights regarding this subject). I believe that David Black's recent post regarding patriotism and nationalism (neo-patriotism) is very helpful. David writes the following:
True patriotism is love of country, not love of government. Neo-patriotism is mindless worship of the state.

True patriots refuse to honor government above God. Neo-patriots gladly deify government.

True patriots understand loyalty as adherence to the ideals upon which the country was founded. Neo-patriots believe in blind submission to the bureaucrats currently running it.

True patriots believe that eternal vigilance is necessary to keep politicians under check. Neo-patriots are willing to entrust their lives to politicians thinking this means loyalty to the ideals spelled out in the Constitution.

True patriots believe in the old Constitution heart and soul and abhor all but the most limited and narrowly defined forms of taxation because they believe their money belongs to them and that the federal government only needs enough funding to perform its few, narrowly defined, constitutional duties. Neo-patriots don’t mind sacrificing most of their earnings to unelected bureaucrats, nor do they mind relying on Washington for a host of taxpayer-funded benefits.

Neo-patriots think that if you criticize U.S. foreign policy or the country’s obsession with security you are “unpatriotic.” True patriots believe that the exercise of critical judgment is
absolutely necessary to any civilization that is to stand or forge ahead, and that it is both their right and duty to criticize their government. They concur with President Theodore Roosevelt: "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country."

Some of you may also be interested in this article on civil religion.


A Discovery

A couple of days ago I was watching Everybody Loves Raymond, when Amy asked me to change Alora's diaper and get her ready for a bath. So, I changed her diaper, and then I came back into the living room so that I could watch the last few minutes of the show. Yet, during these few minutes Alora decided to crap again. Now, this would not have been a bad situation except I hadn't put a diaper on Alora. (I thought that there wasn't any need to put a diaper on her since she was about to have bath.) Well, after we discovered the "poopie diaster," we took Alora into the bathroom to clean her, but she kept kicking her legs and poop was flying around the bathroom. (And Tozer was trying to eat the poop.) It was hilarious! Anyway, here a few pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Drumroll please...

(Begin drumroll now) In case you can't tell what Amy is holding in the picture, it is a pregnancy test. And yes, a positive pregnancy test! As many of you are aware, Amy and I want to have a large family, and the Lord has chosen to bless us with another child. Please pray for Amy as she begins to carry our next child.

So, what gender do you think our baby will be? Why don't you make a prediction and give us a suggestion for a name. (Granted, we probably want use your name suggestion, but if we do...you'll win a bubblegum cigar.)

Amy's prediction: Boy, Isaiah Mitchell
Eric's prediction: Girl, Faith
Alora Grace's prediction: (mumbles and laughs)
Tozer's prediction: (stares blankly)



Each Sunday as I enter the church building, I am greeted by two flags that call for my allegiance. On the left side the American flag calls for me to say: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." On the right side the Christian flag calls for me to say: "I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose Kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe." Granted, I never outwardly/verbally pledge to these flags during the service; nevertheless, they call for my allegiance: Hail Caesar! Hail Christ! As I have reflected over these two "allegiances," a few questions have come to mind: Is it possible to pledge allegiance to both of these flags and remain faithful to both? Should the American flag even be present during our services? (I wonder if Chinese/Iranian/Egyptian/Japanese/Canadian/etc. worshippers have their national flags proudly displayed as they worship?) By now, some of you may be thinking, "He hates America," or "He is ungrateful," but this is not the case. I am thankful for the freedoms that I am granted here in America. Yet, does this mean I cannot be critical of America (or the Church in America)? Each of us must be ready and willing to evaluate our actions/beliefs. We must not allow anything/anyone to have priority (i.e. more allegiance) than Christ and His Kingdom. So, let me mention one of my concerns.

I am afraid that too many Christians (living in America) believe that serving America and serving Christ are one in the same. Although we are called to obey the government (Romans 13:1-7), this does not mean that we should give unswerving devotion to America. In a recent post, The Anabaptist and State Religion, Dave Black writes the following:

The tendency of American evangelicalism is to exalt the nation-state over Christ. And the tragic result is that Leviathan, intended to tame human nature, has itself become a predator. This is not to say that disciples of Jesus may not participate in government or in government-sanctioned lethal violence. I have never argued that governments lack legitimate authority to police internally or defend externally. Yet a primary Anabaptist concern is the disavowal of Constantinianism and the recovery of a biblical critique of the state. I confess that I find it extremely distressing that so many Christians give the state their blind, unqualified allegiance. That is nothing less than idolatry. Anabaptist history reminds us that the maintenance of religious liberty is a duty of the state. It also reminds us that Christianity can never be advanced by means of an alliance with the state. This means that the church, as a transcendent institution, should reject any alignment with political power and should seek to ensure that the state remains properly secular. (Emphasis added)

*Be sure to look out for an upcoming post titled "World Christians," in which I will continue my thoughts/concerns about America and Christianity*



(Begin sarcastic TV announcer voice) Has your dog recently been neutered? Has he been feeling like "half the dog he used to be?" Has his "self-esteem" been low? Don't you want him to be able to proudly lift his head again while he is playing with his friends? If so, then you should check out Neuticles! What are Neuticles? I am glad you asked! Neuticles are testicular implants that allow "your pet to retain his natural look, self esteem and aids in the trauma associated with neutering." Be sure to pick up a pair today! (End sarcastic TV announcer voice)

I own a dog. I buy him food and treats. But there is no way that I am going to spend $87 to $699 for a pair of Neuticles for my dog! (Oh, did I mention that you can also buy Neuticles for cats, horses, bulls, and people...okay, you can't buy them for people--yet.) Apparently, some people have too much money.


Pictures of Alora Grace

These are a few of Alora's most recent pictures. I'll be uploading and posting more family pictures in the next few days.

I amazed at how fast Alora is growing up! She is about 8 1/2 months old now. She's been crawing for about 3 weeks, and over the last week she has been standing on her own--well, with the support of her crib, shelves, or whatever else she can grab onto. Amy and I are so blessed to have such a wonderful daughter. For those of you who have not been able to meet Alora yet (Cecil), I can't wait until you get to meet her.

More Emerging Church resources

Recently, I found a great assessment of the EC at Scot McKnights blog. Be sure to read the following posts here:

1. What is the Emerging Church? Praxis
2. What is the Emerging Church? Protest
3. What is the Emerging Church? Postmodernity
4. What is the Emerging Church? Pro-Aplenty

TNIV Debate

I must admit that I am not very familar with the debate over gender-neutral translations such as the TVIV; therefore, I can not accurately make any conclusions/remarks at this time. But I do believe that we should seek to understand this debate. At this point let me offer a word of caution: as with any debate, we must listen to both sides of the debate. If we choose to draw all of our conclusions after only listening to those who are pro-TVIV (or vice versa), we run the risk of being misinformed (since both "sides" have biases and presuppositons). With that being said, I recently came across a Focus on the Family interview with Wayne Grudem (who is opposed to the TVIV). The mp3's are available for free here. Unfortunately, FOTF did not have anyone on the show that represented the other side of the debate. If you are interested in a reponse to Dr. Grudem, then you can find more information here. If you would like to add any insights into this discussion, I would appreciate your imput.

Bad Church Signs

Be sure to go to the Church Sign Generator website and check out the bad church signs. Although I laughed at many of the signs, I was also deeply saddened because most of the signs were unbiblical, shallow, and/or unloving. When churches use stupid signs like these, they only bring mockery to our faith! Here are a few examples from the website:

"AIDS cures sodomy"

"Go Bush Go, Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammo"

"Real Dads Git- Er Done For God"

"Wal-Mart is not the only saving place"

"You give God the credit, now give God the cash"


Banning Water

Recently, members of the Southern Baptist Convention (my denomination), refused to hand out water to hurricane victims because the donated water was distributed by Anheuser-Busch. Below, I have included part of the article, a response from the public relations associate from the Alabama State convention, and some of my initial thoughts:
Hurricane victims who wanted water had some difficulty finding it at a relief station in Clewiston Friday. The volunteer group running a supply center doesn't like the company that donated the water, so they decided not to give it to those in line for help.

Twenty-two pallets of the canned water, distributed free by beer company Anheuser-Busch, bears the company's label – and members of the Southern Baptist Convention refused to hand it out to those in need.

Resident lined up for miles to receive food and water at the distribution point. But the water was left on the sidelines by the Alabama-based group.

"The pastor didn't want to hand out the Budweiser cans to people and that's his prerogative and I back him 100-percent," said SBC volunteer John Cook.

The SBC felt it was inappropriate to give the donation out, and they weren't happy when NBC2 wanted to know why.

"Why do you want to make that the issue? That's not the issue. The issue is that we're here trying to help people," Cook said.

No one disagrees with that, but the Red Cross says Anheuser-Busch is also trying to help.

The water has been available all along, but the SBC volunteers set it aside and few people knew it was available.

Keith Hinson responded on Steve McCoy's blog with the following thoughts:
Volunteers working with the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Unit honored the request of the host pastor to set aside canned water with an Anheuser-Busch logo. At no time was anyone deprived of water. In fact, there was a huge surplus of bottled and canned water available at the Clewiston relief site. There was never any disruption in the supply of water being given out to members of the public who continued to receive food, water and other types of assistance from Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief workers. It is an absolute falsehood to suggest -- as many irresponsible bloggers have -- that the Baptist volunteers withheld the basic needs of life from Floridians impacted by the hurricane. Contrary to misinterpretations of news reports, no one was denied access to water.One may disagree with the strong stand that many Southern Baptists take against the consumption of alcohol. One may even regard such opposition to alcohol as offensive.But it's impossible to say truthfully that this conviction caused any inconvenience or shortage for victims of Hurricane Wilma. The facts are exactly the opposite.The fact is that virtually all of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serve selflessly -- taking time away from employment and family to minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Churches such as First Baptist Church, Clewiston, graciously serve as host sites -- providing a place where food, water and other necessities of life may be obtained by anyone in need -- without regard to religion or any other demographic consideration.
Although Mr. Hinson states that the Baptist did not withhold the "basic needs of life from Floridians impacted by the hurricane," a question still remains: would they have withheld the "banned water" if it was the only water available? I am currious to know how you would have handled this situation? Would you have participated in the ban or would you have passed out the water? I believe the volunteers actions relate directly to the SBC's strong "teetotal" stance on alcohol. While I agree that it may be wise to abstain from consumming alcohol in some situations, I do not think that we have any biblical rational for 1. totally banning the consumation of alcohol (Communion anyone?) or 2. refusing to pass out water from a beer company. According to an update on the NBC2 site, at least two of the SBC workers chose to pass out the water with Red Cross workers.


Sad News

Kyle Lake, the pastor of University Baptist in Waco Texas, died yesterday after being electrocuted during a baptism. Apparently, a microphone dropped into the water and electrocuted him. (This is the church where David Crowder serves as the Arts and Worship Pastor.) Be sure to pray for Kyle's family. The full article is available here.


More thoughts on apologetics

For those of you who are interested in apologetics and/or the emergent church conversation, then you may want to check out this article: Emergent Apologetics. While discussing the (re)emergence of originality, Myles writes the following:
No longer can the same sermon be preached without care to the specific people in our context. One strength of emergent apologetics is its emphasis on genuinely listening to people and getting into their world. In doing so we can craft our conversations and messages around who they are (instead of who they are not). This will help us to avoid copycat formulas and instead inspire original conversation that is alive with the spontaneity of the Spirit.
Let me take a few moments to comment on this quotation. We must be listeners! I am afraid that we are often more ready to be heard than to hear. I love having the opportunity to express my thoughts/ideas/passions/concerns, but I also realize that other people love to do the same. Those of us who are naturally talkative must be cautious that we do not dominate every conversation that we enter. (In reality, does healthy conversation even take place when one person dominates the speech?) If we strive for genuine conversations, then I believe we will also learn how to more clearly speak forth the Truth into the lives of those people in our context.


On the Horizon

I am not sure how much I will be able to blog over the next few days because my weekend is packed: Amy and I will taking Alora to my parents after I get off work today. Then, we're meeting Emily in Columbia for dinner at the Mellow Mushroom and the "A Collision Concert." On Saturday, we are taking some youth for a hike and picnic. Then, we are all going to the Stewart Farms Cornfield Maze. Hopefully, I will be able to make some posts on Sunday afternoon after church. Until then, here's a preview of some posts that you are likely to see in the near future: Are We Progressing? (Dealing with racial issues within the church); The Emerging Church part 2: Aspirations and Goals; Thoughts about the concert (Hopefully, I'll remember to bring my camera, so that I can post some pictures!); etc.


Stop Assuming. Start Digging.

I grew up in a medium-sized baptist church in the small town of Honea Path, SC. Every so often, we would watch an evangelistic play or film that portrayed the "secret rapture." (Yes, I am talking about the classic Dispensational--Thief in the Night--Left Behind--view of the rapture.) Anyway, for most of my life I assumed that this eschatological view was true. And why wouldn't I assume that this was true? This was what I was taught from the pulpit, the sunday school classroom, and of course, the films. Yet, over time I began to realize that I had made many assumptions in regard to my beliefs (such as the rapture). Instead of truly searching the Bible, I had assumed that everything that I had been taught was correct. Granted, most of the doctrine that I had been taught was true (I was very fortunate to learn from many great pastors/teachers). Yet, I soon discovered that some of my assumed beliefs did not line up with the God's Word. Discovery is difficult, but refreshing. My prayer is that I will always base my beliefs on God's Word instead of my assumptions. I am sure that some of you are wondering what I discovered about Christ's return and the "secret rapture." Of course, I still believe that Christ will return one day (and what a wonderful day it will be!); but, I can honestly say you won't find any of Tim Lahaye's "prophecy" books on my bookshelf. And in regard to the "Left Behind" movie that is currently sitting among my DVD collection...let's just say that if I ever move anywhere, this is one movie that will get left behind.


The Emergent Church

Over the next days/weeks I am going to attempt to post my thoughts on what is often referred to as the emerging church (also refered to as the emergent conversation, church in emerging culture, emergent movement, Emergent, etc.). In all honesty, it is difficult to summarize the goals/beliefs/practices of those within the emerging church for a number of reasons. First, those involved in the emerging conversation come from various denominational/ecclesial backgrounds (conservative, liberal, charismatic, non-charismatic, calvinist, arminian, baptist, methodist, presbyterian, etc). Second, many of those who oppose the emergent church fail to recognize/acknowledge the distinctions that do exist among those within this movement; therefore, their comments can be misleading. Yet, despite these difficuties in discussing the emerging church, I believe that many issues do need to be address. So, I will attempt to highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of the movement. In case you are totally in the dark about the emergent church, I am going to list some links to various sites (both pro-emergent and anti-emergent) that directly/indirectly address the emerging church. Please note the following: First, I have only listed these sites in order to aid those who are interested in investigating this movement for themselves; I do not nessessarily endorse or agree with the all of information/assessments/beliefs contained on these sites. Second, I have not taken the time to indicate which sites are pro-emergent as opposed to anti-emergent because some of these sites cannot be broken up into such distinct categories. (For instance, the Monergism site contains both pro and con material) Third, most of these sites contain links that will help you continue your research. With all of that said, here are some links: Wikipedia, Monergism, Emergent Village, Emergent No, The OOZE, Challies Dot Com, Emerging Church.

Tickets and a Baby Sitter

Thanks to Emily (who got us tickets even though they were sold out) and my parents (who are going to baby sit Alora), Amy and I are going to the "A Collision Tour" with David Crowder Band, Shane and Shane, and the Robbie Seay Band this Friday.


Capital Punishment

There is an interesting discussion going on at my friend Abigail's blog. Be sure to check it out the discussion under the heading Turow and the Issue of the Covenants.


Healthy Living...Maybe.

For the last few weeks, Amy and I have been running a couple of miles around our neighborhood. We usually do this about 3 times a week. During these past weeks, something has become painstakingly clear to me: I am out of shape. Gone are the days of effortless running and soccer-produced endurance. Granted, I still play football, basketball, soccer, and other sports with the youth, but it doesn't take long for before I have to stop and catch my breath. Well, tonight after Amy and I finished running, she came inside and did push-ups and sit-ups. What did I do? Well, I sipped a Dr. Pepper and ate potato chips. I know one thing is for sure: I am sure glad that I have a fast metabolism...and I hope that it doesn't slow down anytime soon.


Seal Meal

Here is an interesting story I found while on the internet:
The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were released back into the wild, amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later they were both eaten by a killer whale.
Okay, so I don't know if this is a true story, but it did bring a couple of thoughts to mind: First, I think seals are great but I'm not going to spend $80,000 to "rehabilitate" one. Second, who paid for the rehabilitation? I sure hope it wasn't my tax dollars. Third, that is the most expensive meal that I have ever heard of!


Current Tunes

I bought the David Crowder Band CD yesterday, and I love it! I also found out that they will be in Columbia, SC next Friday. They are touring with Shane and Shane, and the Robbie Seay Band. Amy and I are going to try and go if we can get tickets and a baby sitter.

I had never heard of The Afters until I saw a review in student ministry magazine. Although I bought the CD a couple of weeks ago, I haven't had a lot of time to listen to it because I let one of the youth borrow it, and I just got the CD back tonight.


Thoughts on apologetics

Probably the most quoted verse in regards to apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15: "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." This is a wonderful verse, but I am afraid that many people disregard an important phrase in this verse: "with gentleness." Many people are more concerned with "winning an argument" or appearing to be intelligent than they are with seeing people become followers of Jesus. Because of such inappropriate concerns, we are often unnecessarily offensive. Granted, the gospel of Jesus is offensive, but we shouldn't be contributing to the offense (by our misguided attitude and actions). On his blog, Dan Kimball addresses some issues similar to the ones I have just discussed. Here is a summary of his points:
I agree that apologetics in a post-Christian world is not useful when:
1. We use apologetics to display the clever answers that we have come up with to prove people wrong.
2. We use apologetics like bullets to shoot people down.
3. We use apologetics like we are lawyers on a television episode of Law and Order.

However, I agree that apologetics in a post-Christian world is useful when:
1. We use apologetics when people actually ask us for them.
2. We use apologetics and don't see saying "I don't know" as a weakness, but as a strength.
If you would like to read Dan's blog entry "Thank you Josh McDowell (sort of)" , it is available here.

Current Readings

I've almost finished reading Radical Reformission, and I have found the book to be very helpful. I love the way in which Mark Driscoll is concerned with with bodly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and engaging our post-Christian society in culturally relevant ways. I just started reading Walter C. Kaiser's "Reformed" reponse in Perspectives on Spirit Baptism.


Soap in the mouth

When I was young I had to go to my church daycare. While I was there I was taught many things such as Bible stories, new games, and swear words. Granted, I did not learn the swear words from the teachers; rather, I learned these words my fellow playmates . (And I imagine that they learned these words from parents, television, etc.). So, when I decided to share my "newly discovered language," I was met with an unexpected consequence: soap in my mouth. The reason I am reflecting on this experience is because I found an article that deals with the issue of "swearing." Below I have posted a relevant part of the article:
Okay, I’m sorry I said ‘suck’ in the previous section; I meant no offense by it. But the word is a perfect illustration of a battle being waged in churches around the country that should be stopped. There is really no theological basis for us telling kids to stop using those four-letter words. Scripture does tell us to use our words wisely and not to harm people. But it does not specify a vocabulary. The word "suck," when used by teenagers in particular, carries with it no harmful intent other than to characterize something as sub-par (i.e., ‘I suck at baseball’). Other words are used equally as casually. If the word is not used to hurt, then I believe we should turn a deaf ear.
If, however, the word is used to be hurtful, then by all means, we should intercede. But this is true if it is a swear word or a non-swear word. Kids can use the word ‘special’ with far more venom than any established swear word, so we obviously cannot limit ourselves to George Carlin’s list of seven words you can’t say on television. Rather, it is the intended meaning and effect of words that we must teach about. As Jesus says, it is what comes out of a person’s mouth that makes him or her unclean. This doesn’t refer to a given set of phonemes, but to the spirit behind the words.
So if a teenager says that the teachings of the Pharisees were bulls---, then are they being any less colorful than Jesus when he ranted on at them for several paragraphs? Or, in a more likely scenario, if a teenager accidentally drops the F-bomb in the van on the way to a mission trip, or in the youth room, or even in the sanctuary, is it really worth our attention? We should concern ourselves with things more important than vocabulary. We should embody the truth that it’s not the word choice that is important but rather the spirit behind the words. And we should never forget that teenagers can intuitively smell what our concern over swear words really is: prudish discomfort. If they see us using faith as a means to protect our delicate sensibilities, they begin to see faith as little more than a means to pursue our own comfort. This is the wrong message to send.

Before I respond to this article, I would like for some of you to comment on your thoughts. Here are a few questions to help get your brains churning: Did you agree or disagree with any part of the article? What scripture passages helped lead you to your conclusions? Who determines which words are deemed inappropriate? Are "slang" words different from "curse" words? What type of speech honors Christ? We must be prepared to answer these type of questions. The full article is available here.

Proclaiming Christ in School

Recently, my 12-year old sister-in-law Tiffany had to write a summary/review of a non-fiction book and then give a class presentation. So, what non-fiction book did she choose to review and present to her class? The gospel of John! Although Tiffany could have chosen to talk about any book, she chose to talk about the most important non-fiction book that is available to man--she chose to proclaim God-breathed scripture to her classmates! I am thankful that she took such a bold step, especially considering the religious hostility that is so prevelant in our public schools. This is just another wonderful example of how believers can (and should!) use every opportunity to share their faith in creative ways!


Jesus and Potato Chips

So, what do Jesus and potato chips have to do with one another? Well to Uncle Ray, potato chips give him an opportunity to share about his faith in Christ. I first came in contact with Uncle Ray's Potato Chips about a year ago while shopping in a local convience store. I was looking for a bag of cheap potato chips, so when I saw a $0.99 bag of Uncle Ray's, I quickly grabbed a bag. As soon as I purchased my chips and drink, I tore into the bag and began to eat the chips. They were wonderful! Yet, my greatest joy did not come from the price or taste of the chips; rather, it came from a story on the back of the bag. Every bag of Uncle Ray's Potato Chips contains a chapter from "The Life and Times of Uncle Ray." In these chapters, Ray takes the opportunity to reflect on his past and express his faith. (Most of these chapters contain many relevant scripture passages.) Ray is not ashamed of Christ. His website proudly displays the company's purpose statement: "We are in business to make a product that satisfies the consumer and to give a testiment of faith to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." I truly admire people who are willing to glorify God in whatever they do--whether it is selling potato chips, teaching, cutting grass, preaching, working at a factory, or whatever. I believe Ray is doing exactly what the Scriptures command: "So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). I pray that each of us realize that we must use every opportunity we have to bring praise to our Lord and Savior. Ministry is not reserved only for those who serve as pastors, missionaries, or evangelists; Every believer must see themselves as a minister (priest) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you doing your part?

Challenging Youth Ministry

I recently came across an interesting article called, "Jesus Isn't Cool: challenging Youth Ministry." Here is an excerpt from the article:
Religion may help teens find a sense of purpose, stay focused on schoolwork, avoid drugs, drive responsibly, and so on. These are good and important things and they are all part of the "religious package," but they are not the point. They are like the paper bag you get for free if you buy the groceries.Christian faith takes root and begins to matter to teens when they discover the difference the details make. In the Christian story, we discover a fiercely loyal God who creates, loves, lives, dies, lives again, and calls teens into the passionate grace of the baptized life. That is something teens can get excited about and sink their teeth into, but these details are available only in the Christian story as told in the Bible and creeds. Seeing these details alive in the lives of other baptized people ignites youthful passion in teens more than any youth event or personal sense of purpose ever could. Living these details of the gospel is not supposed to be easy, or necessarily safe, but it's what Christians do.

The full article is available here.


A Day at Bald Rock

Our family had an awesome day at Bald Rock! This is one of our favorite places to go in the mountains. I never ceased to be amazed at the beauty of God's creation. We serve an awesome God who deserves our praise!

"The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed them. You set the boundary that they may not pass...May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works! -Psalm 104:8,31 (ESV).


Authentic Worship

Tom Ascol has recently posted some thoughts on what is means to have "authentic worship." Here is an except from his post:
Individual worshipers form a corporate body who approach God together in our times of gathered worship. Who are those individuals? First and foremost, they are disciples of Jesus (others may be with us, but worship is the activity of believers). This reality trumps but does not obliterate all other distinctions. Race, ethnicity, age, education, understanding, experience, marital status, language, etc.--all these and more make individual worshipers unique, but none of them is more important than knowing Christ (which means that I have more in common with a believing Zambian than an unbelieving sibling). Each covenanted member of a church adds to the tone of the body's "voice."Here is how I see that working itself out in practical ways. A village church in Zambia will sing songs not only in the official language of English but also in the tribal languages of that village. The cadence, harmonies, bodily movements (such as swaying) and instrumentation may be completely different from those that mark the singing of equally orthodox churches in Houston or Beijing. There may also be differences in the way the Scripture is read and preached in those congregations. Scripture can regulate worship in all three settings without the expectation that worship in the three churches will look exactly the same.
You can read the entire post here.


Yesterday, as I left for work, I was met with a pleasant surprise: rain! The rain broke the 5-week drought that we have been experiencing in the Upstate. Praise the Lord for the refreshing rain!

Nobody Knows

About a week ago, Amy and I watched the Japanese movie Nobody Knows (originally released as Dare mo shiranai), which is based on actual events. Although the movie is sad, there are joyful, inspiring moments scattered throughout the movie. So, if you don't mind watching a long (2 and 1/2 hours) foreign film with subtitles, then you might enjoy Nobody Knows. Anyway, here is a very brief plot summary:

When we first meet the family, the mother and her oldest son Akira are carrying suitcases into a new apartment. When they arrive inside, they open the suitcases and two siblings emerge. (Later, Akira picks up his other sister from the airport.) The mother then informs the children that no one can know that they (i.e. the other siblings) are living in the apartment; therefore, none of the children (except for Akira) are allowed to go outside of the apartment. The movie takes a dramatic change when the mother leaves the children and never returns. The remainder of the movie centers on Akira and his three siblings as they try to stay together even in the face of loneliness, poverty, and death.


Exhausting Days

I am sorry that I haven't post anything new over the past days, but I have been extremely busy with family, ministry, and work. To be honest, the last few weeks have been exhausting because I have only slept about 4 hours a night, and I've had to work overtime at the college. I think each of us go through days/weeks/months where we feel overloaded. Yet, the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and enable us to serve Him. If you think about me during the week, please pray that I will be able to get some much needed rest.


And I Missed Her Deeply

My sweaty hands gripped the Super Nintendo controller as I maneuvered Mario through a land of falling platforms, fire-spitting plants, and lava-filled pits. My cousin Jonathan watched intently as he waited for his time to take control of the game. (This had become a familiar routine for us.) Just months before, our Grandma had went through Thyroid surgery in order to stop the cancer that was spreading through her body. Sadly, the surgery did not stop the cancer. So, most of our family spent every spare minute at my grandparents house. Since I lived near Grandma, Jonathan would come and play video games with me while everyone else became "bedside nurses." To be honest, I couldn't bare to step into her house anymore. The scent of freshly-baked apple pies and collard greens no longer filled her rooms. Instead, the smell of sickness and death permeated the air. It seemed better to remember Grandma like she used to be...vibrant and lively. Well, this particular day seemed like all the others until my mom and dad came into my room.

"Eric," my mom said with a deep sound of somberness in her voice, "I just got a call from your Aunt Sherry."
Then, there was a long pause–– the kind that makes your heart sink into the pit of your stomach, where you know that whatever follows isn’t going to be good.
"Sherry said your Grandma has just taken a turn for the worse."
I felt sick to my stomach. I knew that my grandmother was losing her battle with cancer, and I knew that her time was coming soon...but I wasn’t ready to lose her. (Are we ever ready to lose our loved ones?)

"Do you and Jonathan want to go see her once more before–-"

"No...I think that I’ll just stay here."

"How about you Jonathan?"

"I’ll stay here too."

"Okay. We’ll call you if anything changes."

After my parents left, Jonathan began playing Super Mario again. I stared at Jonathan, and I saw in him the same numbness that I felt deep inside of me. My heart ached. I felt like an immovable stone of sorrow had been laid upon me--and I was strangling–-grasping to breathe a hint of hope. But I felt lonely and cold.

Time seemed to creep for the next hour, until I heard the phone ring. As I lurked toward the phone, each ring pierced my heart like a cold knife because I already knew the words that were about to be spoken:

"I’m sorry...your Grandma just died."

I hung up the phone and I gave Jonathan a hug, but we didn’t speak. I wanted to mourn but death had emptied my emotions and taken my tears and locked everything deep inside. I knew that Grandma was a faithful follower of Christ, so I was joyful that she was now able to see God face to face and sing praises to Him. But sadness can accompany joy. Although I rejoiced in Grandma’s release from her earthly toil, I couldn’t escape the sadness of knowing that one of my best friends was gone from my life. I would never experience another Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or any other holiday with her. She wouldn’t be able to see me graduate from high school, college, or seminary. Her seat at my wedding would be empty.

My Grandma was dead. And I missed her deeply.


At Odds with "under God"

Atheist Michael Newdow is one step closer in his journey to see the phrase "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. In an Associated Press article, Newdow is quoted as saying, "Imagine every morning if the teachers had the children stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and say, 'We are one nation that denies God exists,'" he said. "I think that everybody would not be sitting here saying, 'Oh, what harm is that?' They'd be furious. And that's exactly what goes on against atheists. And it shouldn't." So, what do you think the court decision and Mr. Newdow's statement? A history of the Pledge of Allegiance is available here from the American Legion.


Early Morning Conversations

When I was college, I loved the days when I had the opportunity to eat lunch with some of my professors. I always counted it a blessing to be able to sit and converse about ministry, theology, or whatever. Although I have graduated from the college, I still work there as a security officer. My relationship with the college has changed. This change has taken place because 1) I am no longer a student and 2) I work a strange shift (4am to 12pm). Now, instead of conversing with professors, most of my early morning interactions take place with the housekeeping staff. We do not talk about Hermeneutics or Missiology or Pneumatology, yet our conversations are just as important. Each day when I arrive at work, I always look forward to talking about family, work, faith, etc. with Jeanie, Audrey, Bonnie, Sue, and the other people that I have met. These are the people who are often overlooked or ignored. Most people cherish the time they are able to talk with their professors, mentors, and other people they hold in high esteem. (And there is nothing wrong with cherishing conversations with these people.) Yet, we often overlook those whom we perceive as "less glamorous." I pray that our hearts will change. May the Lord enable us to love and live like Him.


Aid Delay After Katrina: A Racial Issue?

During NBC's "A Concert for Hurricane Relief" on Friday, September 2, rapper Kayne West made the following statement: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." I, for one, was not shocked by his statement because anytime disaster strikes, cries of racial and social injustice usually follow close behind. Granted, there are times when injustice--both racial and social--has reared its ugly face. Yet, I do not think that racism was the cause for the aid delay after Katrina. But according to an MTV poll 38% of people agree with West's assessment. So, what do you think? Is this a matter of discrimination? No matter if you agree or disagree with West's statement, I believe that we can agree on two things: 1) Race and/or social status should never cause us to neglect others who are in need; 2) We must be active in helping the victims of Katrina. I pray that each of us truly "seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause" (Isaiah 1:17). Let us live exemplary lives that reflect Christ, as we interact with a hurting world.

Tim Keller Articles

If you enjoyed reading Dr. Keller's article, "The Missional Church," then be sure to check out some of his other articles here. Special thanks to Steve McCoy for the article links.


The Missional Church

In his article "The Missional Church" Tim Keller discusses the need for and the elements of a missional church . Here is an excerpt from his article:

The British missionary Lesslie Newbigin went to India around 1950. There he was involved with a church living 'in mission' in a very non-Christian culture. When he returned to England some 30 years later, he discovered that now the Western church too existed in a non-Christian society, but it had not adapted to its new situation. Though public institutions and popular culture of Europe and North America no longer 'Christianized' people, the church still ran its ministries assuming that a stream of 'Christianized', traditional/moral people would simply show up in services. Some churches certainly did 'evangelism' as one ministry among many. But the church in the West had not become completely 'missional'--adapting and reformulating absolutely everything it did in worship, discipleship, community, and service--so as to be engaged with the non-Christian society around it. It had not developed a 'missiology of western culture' the way it had done so for other non-believing cultures... Most traditional evangelical churches still can only win people to Christ who are temperamentally traditional and conservative. But, as Wolff notes, this is a 'shrinking market.' And eventually evangelical churches ensconced in the declining, remaining enclaves of "Christendom" will have to learn how to become 'missional'. If it does not do that it will decline or die. We don't simply need evangelistic churches, but rather 'missional' churches.

The full article is available here.


Rest a While

While growing up my father often worked multiple jobs. He did this so that he could provide for his family, not so that we would become rich. He was keenly aware of the biblical truth that "if anyone will not work, neither let him eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Although I admired his wonderful work ethic, I often feared that he worked too much. Even his days off were filled with washing cars, cutting grass, and other draining activities. (This is not to say that he did not spend time with his family, because he was-and still is-a devoted husband and father.) My point is that he took very little time for rest and relaxation. I would often ask him, "Dad, when are you going to slow down and take a break?" He would usually respond by simply saying, "I'm fine. I'm not really tired." Now I find myself much like my father. I am a husband, father, youth pastor, and security officer. On my days off (if I can really call them that) I wash cars, cut grass, and do other draining activities. My wife and I often talk about how our days seemed to be "filled to the brim." Although I know that I should take time to relax, I find it extremely difficult to take a break. This difficulty arises because I know that there are so many things (other than taking a break) that I could be doing. But isn't this the problem? No matter how much I do, I can never accomplish all that needs to be completed. There will always be another youth to counsel, another homeless person to feed, another meeting to attend, and the list rambles onward to infinity. Yet, should we feel guilty if we ever desire to break away from the day-to-day endevours? I think not. On one occasion the apostles came to Jesus to report to Him about all that they had been doing in His name, and Jesus responds in the following way: "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). Mark goes on to explain why they needed to get away: "For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat." We must all realize that we need to go to "a lonely place and rest a while." This is not a purposeless rest; rather, it is a time to reconnect with our Savior. If we fail to follow our Lord's instruction and example (Mark 1:35), we must be prepared for the consequences of our disobedience. Let us not be so unwise as to neglect our Lord's command.


My War with Procrastination

I must admit that Procrastination has been my enemy for quite some time. By successfully beginning this blog, I feel that I have won at least one battle. Yet, the war still rages onward. Will I be diligent in posting on a regular basis? Only time will tell.