Monday, April 30, 2007


So, I stumbled across this random book in my house called Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner this weekend. I love Buechner, but I think I picked this particular book up in a coffee shop in Wilmore for a couple of dollars and haven't picked it up since. I was thumbing through it this weekend and stumbled across an entry for "Word." Here's just a sampling of what I found...

"Words are power, essentially the power of creation. By my words I both discover and create who I am. By my words I elicit a word from you. Through our converse we create each other.

When God said, 'Let there be light,' there was light where before there was only darkness. When I say I love you, there is love where before there was only ambiguous silence. In a sense, I do not love you first and then speak it, but only by speaking it give it reality."

This is just a sampling of what Buechner had to say about "word." He begins the section noting that in Hebrew the term dabar actually means "word" and "deed." So, to say something is to do something. That is certainly the case in the Word. In the Old and New Testaments, the power of a word is felt from Genesis to Revelation. Creation began in conversation. Covenants between God and man were created through conversation. The Word became flesh and lived among us...There were a thousand conversations between creation and the incarnation and there have been scores since.

I cannot help but think of the passage in John 15 as I type this blog. It is the one about the vine and the branches. But nestled in the imagery is a statement I have never been able to shake or fully comprehend.

"You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." - John 15:3

And what has the Lord spoken to me (and you) but light and and favor...grace and and compassion...mercy and love? His words mean everything to me (us). I (We) struggle sometimes to believe them. I (we) often put words in his mouth. But everything he has spoken to me (us) is good...I (We) would do well to remember that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Standing Together

The pictures above are of a board a few of the students from the Auburn Wesley Foundation painted and placed on the AU concourse. Thousands of Auburn students signed it and then a couple of AU students drove it all the way to Virginia Tech last night. It now stands on the Virginia Tech campus along with several other similar memorials from other schools across the nation. I share these pictures with you today because they inspired me and reminded me that the people of VA Tech are our family. May it serve as an inspiration to you and a reminder to stand with them in prayer over the next several weeks, months, and years.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Prince of Peace

In his opening prayer in class one day, my professor (Chuck Gutenson) prayed eight words that I think are timely and fitting today. As we mourn with our brothers and sisters at Virginia Tech, I feel compelled to pass these eight words along to you.

"Prince of Peace, may there yet be peace."


Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Radical Nature of Forgiveness

This whole scandal with Don Imus and his comments about the Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team has captured my attention these last few days. I am not generally drawn in by the daily news, as it has become more like "Access Hollywood" than actual news. This story, however, grabbed my attention from the very beginning.

As a preface/disclaimer let me say that I in no way agree with Don Imus' comments on his radio show. I think that what he said was horrible, offensive, and racist. I do not think that he should just be "let off the hook" for what he said. Neither does he...he has said as much in his statements and in interviews since the incident.

The media frenzy surrounding the incident has been interesting all around. It seems the more Imus apologizes, the more flack he receives. In one attempt, he agreed to appear on Rev. Al Sharpton's show. Imus chose this appearance with the expectation that he might possibly be given the chance to publicly apologize and put this behind him. What he received was a verbal lashing and public lynching.

As I watched a segment of the interview, I found myself much more disgusted with Rev. Al Sharpton than with Don Imus.

Let me say again that I do not agree with what Imus said. It was off-color to say the least. However, from the beginning the man has been sincere and earnest in his apologies. All along I have thought that this is could be a real defining moment for people who call themselves Christians.

Then Rev. Al Sharpton spoke...and invited Imus on his show.

On the show, as I stated before, Sharpton made no room for Imus to offer any real apology. Any attempt on Imus' part to do so was met with more rage on the part of Rev. Sharpton. At one point in the interview segment, Sharpton is giving it to Imus The interchange goes something like this...

Sharpton: "You couldn't have expected for us to just dismiss what you said and just forget about it...?"

Imus: "Absolutely not. What I said was horrible. I am a good person who said a very bad thing."

[Sharpton's response was more verbal bashing and more on how despicable Imus is.]

Imus: "I can't get anywhere with you people...but I can get somewhere with Jesus."

I was arrested by those words by Don Imus. Long before the interview even started, I thought that this could be a defining moment for Sharpton and for Christians in general. People are not particularly surprised when Christians speak out against things that are happening. No one is at all alarmed at how outspoken Rev. Al Sharpton has been about the incident with Imus. Of course the Christian community would pronounce judgment...

There was a moment in the interview -- the one where Imus said "I can get somewhere with Jesus..." that Rev. Al Sharpton had the opportunity to show Imus the radical nature of forgiveness. He missed that so many Christians do.

Again, I am not saying that what Imus did was excusable. I've already said enough that I disagree with it 100%. But today I find myself more disgusted with Rev. Al Sharpton (key word: reverend) and his response than Don Imus and his momentary lapse in judgment.

Here stands a man ordained to preach the Good News of the Gospel and this is his response. What if instead he had reached out to Imus (as an African American minister) in love and forgiveness? What if instead of extending the hand of judgment, Sharpton had extended the hand of grace? That would be something to talk about in our world. That would be something that people who do not know Jesus would stand up and take notice of and respond to in this day and age. That would make a difference.

Too many people know exactly what we are against as Christians. It is time to stand up and tell the world what we are for: Grace. Forgiveness. Love.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunshine and Rain

I ran across this poem/prose today in my collection of quotes and thought I'd share it with you. It was written by one of the youth at Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville where I volunteered as a college student. I found the words encouraging today and thought you might, too. I believe she was in eighth grade when she wrote this for a friend. Wise words from such a young soul. Her friend passed it along to me and now I give it to you. May it bless you as it blessed me then...and now.

We live in a mixed up world
where it rains
as the sun shines.
Where happiness comes through pain
and where failures seem to cloud up our lives.
However, life is not about who knows your name
or if you come in first in the world's race of life.
It is the few strong souls
that don't conform to the definition of the world
that receive the standing applaud in the end.

Your image isn't created by what works you perform
but by what runs deep in the waters that create you.
It is what shines through your soul...
It is what makes
It is what makes you a creation beyond words of description...
It is what makes you worth
the pain and suffering
felt by the One and Only Perfect Man.
- Kim Jones

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Island Time

The team is back from Jamaica...with most of our baggage. We had a little trouble with customs in Miami, but nothing too major. We are still waiting on a couple of bags, but the important thing is that the whole team is back safe-and-sound. Believe me, that is a major miracle in itself. It was touch-and-go there for a little bit, but it all worked out.

The trip itself was really good. The team of thirty that went worked hard on three different projects around Trelawny, Jamaica and built eternal relationships with the people in the area. There were countless kids and some pretty amazing adults at every site. We worked hard on all three of the projects, but I think the major work was done on our hearts during our stay there.

I developed a love/hate relationship with the whole idea of "Island Time." In a lot of ways, it was really great to surrender to such a way of life. It was nice to not be bound by time as much. I didn't even have a clock nearby at night to know what time it might be. Island Time equals complete trust in the people around you. Lunch for our crew came at a different time everyday...but it came. The bus arrived at least thirty minutes early or late everyday...but it came. Everything was very flexible. I liked that in a lot of ways Sometimes, though, Island Time got the best of me (and the group). Sometimes it meant not knowing what was going on at all. I am not a fan of that feeling. Still, I surrendered to it...and everything always worked out in the end.

Overall, it was a really good trip. The work we did with God and with each other was great. The vacation days in Ocho Rios were fantastic. The trip back was...eventful.

If I could just find time to rest...makes me miss Island Time!