This weekend I went to watch an old friend get low*.
I have often thought about my death. Lately the thought has been to consider what I will be when that times comes. Or to say it another way...what will I be remembered for. And a lot of what I try to do is shaped by that question.
When the reaper knocks and it's time to get low, how will I be remembered? How will you?
Growing up my father always loved epitaphs. He still does. But there is something about those words carved in stone that he was onto. He would stumble upon the graves of men and women long forgotten by time, and all that would be left of them would be the words etched in granite under the date of their death.
If you do a quick google search for epitaphs you shall find some funny, some sad, and a few profound.
If you were to visit the final resting place of Dr. King you would find the words "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I'm free at last." etched in stone as his last and lasting words to the world.
I'm not much of a basketball fan. I grew up wrestling, and the closest I ever got to playing basketball was that one time we almost got in a fight with the basketball team for walking on our mats. But that was years ago now. Back when you couldn't give away Auburn University basketball tickets.
But things are different now. Tonight Auburn plays in the final-four of the NCAA tournament and everyone is celebrating. It seems as though the way college boys play with their balls has made a whole town want to party. And they are partying.
But through the story of humanity people have always sought for a reason to celebrate. Some where good reasons, some were just an excuse to get down. But no matter the reason, we were created to celebrate. And that should pertain to the Church as well. But unfortunately the Church has come to look more stoic than Spirit-filled in our view of celebration.
This morning I found myself reading the ways God told His people to celebrate in the book of Deuteronomy...
As I sat to read this morning I found myself back in a familiar story. It's one that sounds as familiar as the voice of an old friend. The story is one of Jesus healing a man that was born blind.
But that's not how the chapter starts (John 9). It starts simple. It starts the same way that most of you will have started today. It started normal. Jesus wasn't headed to any great event. In the eyes of all He was around this would have been just another day. We find out that this story took place on the Sabbath, but I'm sure that for the disciples the Sabbath often turned into routine just the same way that Sunday does for us.
In the first verse we're told that this story takes place as Jesus "passed by". And from reading it, it seems as though it wasn't Jesus who brought attention to this man who was in need of a miracle, though that is often the case. And it was not that this blind man called out for Christ to heal is, though that is also often the case. Jesus simply walked by and one of...
"He must increase, but I must decrease."
These are the words which John the Baptizer uttered in response to his follower’s growing jealousy of the ministry of Jesus. At this point in history John had seen a booming ministry and Jesus had come to be baptized by John. That was the beginning of the ministry of Jesus.
As Jesus’ ministry began to grow more and more people began to follow Him, and it looks like a good number of those people had once followed John.
While all of this was going on some of John the Baptizer’s disciples came to him and asked what they should do. And why was this happening…
But within John’s response we see what I believe is the most distilled down version of what the Christian life looks like. “He must increase, and I must decrease.” This is the root of what it means to be a Christian. This is putting the cookies on the bottom shelf, as an old pastor of mine used to say, to explain sanctification.
But as with all things, it’s easier said than done.
“God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility... this is for God the ground of unfathomable love.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Today something happened in my home town that has taken me by surprise. A man with my melanin stood up in a coffee shop I have often been in and pulled out a gun, yelled vulgar things, and heiled Hitler*.
I don't know who it was, but one think I can assume. He probably has been to church more than the people that were in that shop.
This shop is known as a safe haven in my community for offering a safe place for those who don't fit into the culture of Christendom that dominates Auburn, Alabama. Most other coffee shops are full of Bible Studies and Scripture on the walls. And I'm not against either of those things. In fact I have been a part of those things being that way. But in doi...
I have often found myself wondering why God had me where I was. I often feel like God is taking me the long way around, and feeling that way if often frustrating.
And I think that this is a feeling that's not isolated to me. The places that we are headed might be different, but the feeling that we're not going there in the fastest way is the same. Maybe it's a physical move that keeps getting delayed, maybe it's something you have been praying for that has yet to come, maybe it's a change that you are wanting to see. There are as many different places to go as there are people to get there. And if it were up to me, I would want to take the shortest route between where I am and where I want to go. And I have to assume that you want the same.
But more often than not God takes us the long way. Why..?
In Exodus 13 we see the story of God leading His people out of Egypt. He has just acted in a mighty way to see His people releases from the strongest empire on the planet at the time, but on...
My actions behind closed doors in my past were brought into a discussion on Facebook today on a post about abortion I made last week. Originally this was my reply that I had typed out, but since it grew longer than a Facebook response should be I opted to simply post it here. So, to whom it may concern…
I will say that in the past I have participated in a lot of things I wish I hadn’t. I don’t remember anything being sent unsolicited. But, as a Christian I have participated in sexting, I am not a virgin, I have gotten drunk, I have lied about things, I have manipulated people, I have often worn a mask in hopes that what I was doing to try and fill myself and my own fear and loneliness wouldn’t be found out. Though I am not proud of these things. They have happened, and as such that are part of my story.
I am in every since of the word a broken and sinful man. To steal words from St Paul, I do see myself as the chief of sinners. I make no debate in defense of that. But I am someone who...
I have long gone to prayer books to be an aid to me in prayer. I know that some don't like prayer books, claiming that prayer should only be from the heart. But if this argument is taken to a logical conclusion then the only worship we sing should be spontaneous and composed only by the one singing. But that's beside the point. For me I came to find these prayers as beautiful aids. I used these borrowed prayers when I knew not what to pray. Or when it felt as though I had forgotten how to. And because of this I wanted to include a prayer at the end of each chapter of my first book. But as I did so I did not copy the prayer that I read in the books, but I had adapted my own prayers from them. In doing so I was able to make them even more personal and also easier to read for those who are not familiar with the older english in which these prayers have been written. So I invite you to pray with me. I hope that in borrowing my prayer you may be as filled as I have been when borrowing the p...
For the first few years of pursuing Christ I didn't spend much time in the psalter. I'm not saying that I didn't read them. I did. As someone who enjoys poetry, I found the words to be lovely and in them I found an encouraging verse here or there. But I never found myself going to them for theology or rhythm of life. For that I usually just rotated between the Gospels and St. Paul. And then back again.
But over the past few years I have found myself more and more in the Psalms. I have gone to them and back again. And in doing this I have found something quite comforting, because in the Psalms, possibly more than any other book, we see a rhythm of life more common to us than we would like.
Many of these psalms are orchestrated in a similar pattern. I was reminded of this pattern again today while reading Psalm 22. And though this psalm is a prophecy of Christ, it is no less the heart cry of another King. David.
He begins this heart cry with a question. "My God, my God, why have y...
At the start of this year I tried to take some time to sit down and figure out what my goals would be for this year. The idea of New Years resolutions are nothing new. They seem to take control of everything the week or two before the numbers at the end of the date change. And for most they seem to last a week or two after.
As I sat down to go over what I hoped that this year would look like I began to divide these things into two different categories. My goals and my prayer. Not saying that the first category would be a prayer less one, only that they were the things which I believe could happen. Things that I could work for and see come to pass. And the second category were things which I have no control over, other than to pray that they come to pass.
But while I was doing this I began to see something that connected a number of those things which I listed under the heading of ‘prayers’ in my journal that first evening of the year. Many of these prayers had been rolled over from the...