Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Very Cool Websites

Earlier today I received an email from the seminary that discussed a former student's current ministry to teens. The grad, Tim Kimberly, works with a website called HeLives.com. The website is amazing! In only a few minutes of browsing I found discussion forums where literally thousands of people are engaged in spiritually-minded discussion. There are also spotlights on the sight that include things like IAMSECOND.com, bible reading tips, and much more. One of my favorite links is to a website called BibleMap.org. This website really blew me away. It utilizes googlemap images, connects them with Biblical location references, and even provides a detailed description of what makes the location signigicant from a Biblical viewpoint. I will definitely be using this in upcoming youth discussions! Here are the links to both of these great websites:

Do yourself a favor and check them out!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break Mission Trip

Ty Pennington probably has my newest favorite dream job. He's the host of Extreme Home Makeover and makes a living changing lives by building homes. Who wouldn't want to do that? I know I would! On our mission trip during spring break we did a mini version of just that. I loved it!

In a town called Dona, TX a family lost their home 2 months ago in a fire. For now the whole family (father, mother, and 6 daughters!) lives in a travel trailor on their property! The trailor is about 20 feet long! That's were we stepped in. In four days we completely framed their new home and boxed in their roof. They should be moving into their new home in about a week. It was amazingly gratifying to spend my time with my church helping folks who really need it. The experience really opened up my eyes.

Our church also led multiple VBS's, soccer clinics, quilting workshops for women, and 2 block parties. It was incredible to see our people unite under the His name and work for His people. When all was said and done it was reported that over 50 people joined the Family! Incredible! I am so thankful to be used by Him and for Him!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Never, Ever Forsaken

At times I am utterly without words. As I gather information about another shooting not far from my home in southern Georiga my eyes swell and the my emotions run wild. What would cause a man to kill his mother, an 18-month old baby, and numerous others? How can people become so violent and relentless?

Michael McLendon killed 11 people (including himself) on Tuesday, March 12.


It confuses me and breaks my heart - partly for the families of the deceased, the community, the friends - and partly for Michael. The investigators have yet to find a motive and doubt that they will. I am no psychologist or personality profiler, but I would wager that Michael McLendon had reached a point of hopelessness. A life without hope will take desperate measures. My last message was in response to the murder of a church pastor, husband, and father who was shot in cold blood while standing in the pulpit of his church of more than 20 years. I am also aware that there has been a school shooting in Germany just this week.


A confused, hopeless boy, Tim Kretschmer, entered his high school armed and prepared for murder. After killing 9 students and 3 teachers he fled killing more civilians on his spree. Finally, just like shooter Michael McLendon, he took his own life. He was 17. Once more I grieve for the school, the community, and the family members affected by this awful event - but also grieve for Tim. How awful he must interpret his life in order to even think of something so breathtaking.

Again, I am not qualified to even hypothesize as to the reasons these two people resorted to such extreme measures. But part of me wants to say that they lived lives with no hope. Some German investigators have claimed that 17-year old Tim was simply taking out his frustrations on women as a result of not having any luck with girls (of course this is not verified). Either way, I feel in my heart that if these fellows possessed the supernatural love and hope of our Savior these events would have been avoided.

I am thankful that regardless of all the evil actions of this world I have hope in my Jesus. I know that if I were to wake one day without my car, my home, my health, my family, my wife, my church, my friends, my country or anything else...I can bank on Him. He will never leave me or forsake me.

I think of Christ word's on the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Many claim that Christ was forsaken by God the Father - I believe that this is perhaps one of the biggest blunders in modern Christian thought. God is omnipresent, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, faithful, and true to His word. Just as He told Moses and Joshua that He would never leave or forsake them He tells us (Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:5, and Deuteronomy 31:6 & 8). Why would He claim such acts of loyalty only to set a contrary example with His own Son? I don't believe He would. I believe, rather, that Jesus was pointing us back to God's faithfulness when He uttered those words on the Cross. Psalm 22 is an incredible example of what it means to count on God even when it seems that all hope is lost. I am thankful that even when Christ was dying for my sins He realized that His Father "has not hidden His face from Him" and "listened to His cry for help" (Psalm 22:24). And I am thankful that He promises to be there for me.
When the world seems to be falling apart I can count on my God to hold me till the end.
I am never forsaken.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Life: Tough

Reverend Fred Winters sounds like a class-act guy. Winters graduated with his Bachelors from Southwestern Baptist Seminary, his masters from Wheaton College, and his Ph.D from Southern Baptist Seminary. He has pastored his church for over 20 years and also taught at Midwestern Baptist Seminary. Perhaps his greatest milestones in life are his wife and children. To be sure, his church and family loved him.

Earlier today life was very routine, I would imagine, for Reverend Fred Winters and his family. No more. As quick as a gun trigger can be pulled everything changed. Reverend Winters took a shot in the chest leaving his family with a shot in their hearts. Church members and law officers are dumb-founded as to why such hostile actions occured. Nonetheless, for a community, church body, and family life took on a whole new meaning today. Here's a link to the story: http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=7033937&page=1

It breaks my heart.

Why does God allow such devastating events to happen in our lives? Why does it always seem that just when we get a grip on things life gets slippery? What goes through the minds of men and women who justify committing such unthinkable crimes against others?

Questions always tend to outnumber answers. There are aspects to this life that don't make sense - things we wish we could change. But no matter. We serve an incredibly sovereign, just, good, and loving Father who always knows what is absolutely best for us. Always.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

It is impossible for me to make sense of this incident. I simply can't fathom taking another person's life. There is no way I could approach a family who has experienced an event of this magnitude and to tell them that they just need to "find the good in this" or that "everything will be just fine." But as my pastor says, "Jesus is about more than just the good stuff - the miracles, the blessings, and the eternity in heaven - He's also about the Cross." And as tough as the Cross is, we must find a way to embrace our own in service to our King. Life is tough and I'm not denying that, but I believe with all my heart that even in the painfully difficult moments God is good.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is it right to have certain rights?

About a week ago my wife and I watched as Hollywood dispersed some of its most coveted awards - Oscars. The film that dominated the night was without doubt "Slumdog Millionaire". I've yet to see the movie. I've yet to see any of the movies, actually, that received nominations. But I did listen to quite an interesting acceptance speech given by the actor who starred in the hit movie "Milk". Sean Penn, who won best actor for playing Harvey Milk, gave me a lot to think about with his well constructed words. To people who previously voted against homosexual marriage Penn said "Sit and reflect...antcipate great shame." He further stated, "We've got to have equal rights for everyone." Watch his speech here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dnM8v9aaR0

I am in no way suggesting that people like Sean Penn should carry much weight in our decisions as responsible Christians. But, do people need to be given the ability to decide for themselves whether or not they can marry anyone they choose? Are we denying people their freedom of choice by not allowing them to be homosexually married? Or are we right in determining that because our Bible's condemn homosexual behavior that our government should, too?

It is not illegal for people to sleep around with others before they are married. Our laws do not forbid idol worship, greed, dishonoring the Sabbath, or even disobeying parents. So when do we need to draw the line? I guess I am trying to imagine how Christ feels about the whole issue as it pertains to whether or not this should be an actual law. I feel as though He offers us the ability to make choices in life. Joshua decided in the Old Testament that he and his house would serve the Lord. Judas decided that 30 pieces of silver was a worthy price for betraying his Rabbi. And for centuries humans have been making decisions that affect their lives, our world, and their eternity.

But hear this: I am in full support of God's sovereignty and in support of our freewill - I believe they coexist in delicate balance. If God hadn't chosen me I would never have been able to accept Him. God's ways are much higher than our ways, so for me to say that I completely understand this mystery would be a lie.

That being said, let's go back to Penn's words: "We've got to have equal rights for everyone". Do you think that people need to have this RIGHT? Or should it remain the right of the majority to determine what rights all people should have? The more I think about this the more confused I get.

What do you think?