I've been busy over the last few days with Learn.Love.Laugh. (or L3 for short). This is a four-day event where our youth learn from God's Word, love those within our community, and laugh with one another as we enjoy life together. We've had a great time so far. The youth will all be arriving in a few hours, and I've got a lot of crazy games ready for them. Tomorrow, we'll be at Six Flags White Water in Atlanta. I'm excited!


Taking Care of Business

Tiffany used her phone to take this cute picture of Adalynne Faith. Did you know that Adalynne knew how to read upside-down? I know, she's pretty amazing!


Crawling Out of a Deep Hole

While on vacation I decided to leave behind all...well...most of my seminary work. While that decision allowed me to more fully enjoy time with my family, now I'm in the process crawling out of a deep hole that is filled with books, papers, and lectures. I'm just taking it one task at a time. Of course, getting all of this work finished would be easier if that is all I had to do, but I've got a family to love and a church to serve.My plan is to finish The Creative Word: Canon as a Model for Biblical Education within the next few hours. Then, I'll begin making my way through The Christians as the Romans Saw Them. That will still leave me with two others to finish (but certainly not today): Revelation and Reason: New Essay's in Reformed Apologetics and Education That is Christian. Hopefully I'll be poking my head out of the hole soon!


For the Kids and You

This book came in the mail yesterday, so I started reading it with Alora and Adalynne. They loved it! Definitely my top pick for a children's Bible. But don't be fooled...it's a great read for adults too. Buy it here.


A Prayer For Monday


I awoke this morning because of You. You put breath in my lungs and blood in my veins. You have given me the energy to awaken, to eat, to walk, to talk, and to live. You strengthened my faith yesterday as I confessed my sin, heard the gospel of grace, worshiped, and feasted at Your table. Your grace has abounded to me in Christ Jesus. Let every word I speak, every action I take, every thought I have bring honor and glory to you. Enable me to shine forth the light of your gospel. Amen.


Name Changes

As many of you know, for the last 2 1/2 years we (Redeemer Church) have been meeting for worship on Sunday's at a hotel on Clemson Blvd across from McDonald's. When we first began meeting for worship at the hotel it was called Ramada Inn. Later, it was renamed Knights Inn. Then, it became simply Inn. Currently, it is a Quality Inn. I wouldn't be surprised if I went to church tomorrow only to find it named something else.


Church Planting and Church Buildings

On a number of occasions, after telling people that I am a minister within a church, they have responded with this question: "Where is your church?" I've often wanted to respond by saying, "Our church is scattered throughout Anderson County." Of course, such a response would likely be met with a look of confusion because such an answer is theological in nature. The questioner wants to know about location--where our building is--not theology.

The first definition given for "church" at dictionary.com is "a building for public Christian worship." For many people, the first thing that comes to mind about a "church" is a building, not the body of believers. In some ways, church planting can help believers remember that the primary definition of the church is theological--the Church consists of Christians, not physical buildings or a location. For those involved in church planting (or Christian ministry as a whole), we cannot allow buildings to be our primary means of "advertisement" to our communities. Instead, the church--the people--must be primary. Let us live as a distinctive, gospel-driven community. Let our lives be our apologetic.


Beautiful Joy

It's hard for me to believe that Ann-Marie Joy is almost one. When parents say that children grow up so quickly, it is so true. That's why it is so important to cherish each day that we have with one another.

More Cakes

While we were in Virginia, Amy made two cakes for her moms. You can check them out here. I especially like the hot-tub cake.


Digital Friendships, Digital Community

To say that the internet has changed the way that we live would certainly be an understatement. In particular I was thinking about how the social functions of the internet--social networking, blogging, chat rooms, gaming, online-dating, etc--are changing the ways that people think about friendship and community. For some people, the internet simply serves as an "extention" to their pre-existing relationships; meaning, the internet allows them to keep up with family and friends that they have that are outside of the www. Although the internet is useful for them, it isn't the primary place where they experience friendship or community. Yet, for others, the world of the internet has become their community. They may actually put forth effort and time into these "digital friendships" than their flesh-and-blood relationships. Many of their "friends" are made up of people that they have never met face-to-face. So, what makes this type of "digital community" so attractive to people? Here two reasons that came to mind.

First, digital communities allow people to put their best foot forward. In these communities, it is much easier for people to hide the parts of their lives that they do not want others to see. Of course, this can happen in flesh-and-blood relationships, but it is far easier to do this on the internet because people are less likely to catch you when you have your guard down. For example, you can chose to post only the pictures that make you look beautiful, not the ones that make you look overweight or unattractive. If you're in a bad mood, you don't have to "log on" and chat with anyone.

Second, digital friendships are much easier to leave behind when they get messy. If someone irritates you in a chat room, you can say what you want and never return. If someone begins to annoy you on Facebook, you can delete them as your friend.

So, what's my point? I certainly do not object to participating in the various social functions available through the internet. My concern comes when these "digital communities" essentially replace flesh-and-blood relationships. In many ways, the internet can de-personalize our relationships; meaning, the internet doesn't allow others to recognize changes in our moods, see our facial expressions, hear the tone of our voices, or read our body language.We need friends that can know us--truly know us.


Reading Calvin

A few days ago marked the 500th birthday of John Calvin. Many scholars, pastors, and others took time to celebrate in Geneva. Well, I certainly didn't have the time (or resources) to make my way to Geneva. Instead, I decided to celebrate by reading through some of Calvin's sermons. Sadly, I believe that many people have the wrong idea about Calvin. Some think of Calvin as an unloving and dry theologian, yet Calvin's love for God and concern for God's people is evident throughout his writings. His theology is certainly deep, but it isn't divorced from an equally deep piety. Here's an excerpt from the sermon I read this morning on Deuteronomy 4:44-5:3:
For if God only demanded his due, we should still be required to cling to him and to confine ourselves to his commandments. Moreover, when it pleases him by his infinite goodness to enter into a common treaty, and when he mutually binds himself to us without having to do so, when he enumerates that treaty article by article, when he chooses to be our father and savior, when he receives us as his flock and his inheritance, let us abide under his protection, filled with his eternal love for us....When the living God humbles himself to that extent, I beg of you, should we not be more than ingrates if we did not humble ourselves before him and abstain from all pride and arrogance? (taken from John Calvin's Sermons on the Ten Commandments by Benjamin W. Farley, 45-46)


Listening to Theology

In the old days, when there was less education and discussion, perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed. Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones--bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas.
--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 3.1

"We now return to our regularly scheduled programming."

Vacation is over, so I'm now ready to reenter the world of blogging.


Low Tech, Part-Time

Since our family is enjoying some time away for vacation, my blogging will be reduced over the next week. I usually try to go "low tech," so that I can avoid the things that often distract me: internet, cell phone, etc.