Saturday, December 31, 2011

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes tastes adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
-Anne Bradstreet

Friday, December 30, 2011


The accomplishment of a day isn’t so much about accomplishing goals but abiding in God, and this is the thing that needs remembering.
-Ann Voskamp

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I hope everyone is enjoying the last week of the year.  I am looking forward to 2012 as a year of possibilities.  Possibilities in improved health, better relationships, more fulfilling ministry and general happiness.  I look forward to spending part of 2012 here with you on this blog.  I appreciate all of you who continue to read what is posted here and to offer me feedback on this site's content.
Everyone be sure to be safe celebrating the new year and I will see you all in 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Prayer

May God grant you peace in the knowledge
that the past is over, that now is now,
and the future will arrive soon enough.
May we learn to live with the blessing of memory
without the curse of regret.
May we be present in the present aware that
every day is a gift that we may only open once.
May we look to the future with an informed optimism
and always seek to find the good regardless of the situation.

Merry Christmas and blessings for a Happy 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Acappella

David Phelps is well-known for singing with the Gaither Vocal Band.  I heard him in a solo Christmas concert last year and he sang several numbers a cappella.  Enjoy him and the Easters in this Christmas classic.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To everyone who misses someone...

My mom has always loved Mariah Carey.  Carey's vocal range is well known and this is my favorite of her holiday songs.
Enjoy!


Monday, December 19, 2011

     “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”
-William Carey
Pioneer missionary to India who dealt with profound economic and family problems

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Many of you who are in college or high school or work in education have begun your Christmas breaks and others will hopefully receive some needed rest over the next couple of weeks. 
To everyone:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Hope to see many of you over the course of the holidays.  Peace to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Love of Jesus

Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, speaks of the matchless love of Jesus.

(The video may be a little disorienting with the moving text...just listen to the spoken words.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Older women teach..."

Two areas of my ministry have come together in a beautiful way in the last few days. 
I am teaching a class on Sunday nights on the Christian family and have spent the last two weeks discussing the roles of Christian wives and mothers.  I have found both studying for this class and the discussion it has generated to be enlightening and wonderfully beneficial.
In my personal, benevolent ministry, I have spent the last couple of days visiting widows in our community.  I have taken a small Christmas gift and spent some time talking with these ladies.  Ironically, most of these women attend the same place of worship here in town and it is not affiliated with the church of Christ that I grew up in.  In talking with these ladies, they shared freely the concerns they had about getting older, losing friends to death, the state of our country and a variety of other situations that they are each facing.  Some of these ladies have experienced the tragedy of losing children, troubled marriages, and, as widows, all have dealt with the grief of losing a husband. 
What amazes me about these women is that they, in different degrees, have learned to lean on God through all these experiences.  They each speak openly of daily Bible study and an involved prayer life.  Since many of them are members of the same congregation, they have learned to help carry one another through their troubling times.  One of these women had driven another to her cancer treatments on many occasions and others told of how they each had worked together to provide food and Christmas presents for several families in town.  These women are grappling with the problems of personal lonliness, wayward children, and the process of constantly growing older day by day.  My town will certainly miss these women when they are not longer a part of our community.
In seeing these precious women age with grace, I was brought back to the study I have been leading at Lebanon.  These women, and many others like them, have truly embraced their position in their families, churches, and communities.  Younger women (as well as men) would do well to imitate their examples.  The generation of which they are a part is quickly passing away and the ability to learn from these great matriarchs will soon be gone.  What the Bible teaches about the importance of learning from older generations cannot be over emphasized. 
May each of us take advantage of the opportunity we have to learn from our elders before they are gone and let us use the knowledge they have shared to be better people now and in our process of aging.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."
-Amy Carmichael

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Christ still needs His witnesses; He needs those who are prepared, not so much to die for Him, as to live for Him.  The Christian struggle and the Christian glory still exist."
-William Barclay on Matthew 5:10-12

In our efforts to be right...

I was reading a blog today of another writer who referenced a verse I was familiar with.  It is one of my favorite verses in fact, and I immediately knew that she had given the wrong citation for the passage.  I looked just to make sure and, sure enough, she had inverted the chapter and the verse.  My immediate response was a kind of triumph that I had spotted this error on this famous author's page.  As I thought about it, however, I was soon thinking about all the times I have misspoke, mistyped or misinformed people.  While I did these things by accident, I am sure that some people noticed at the time and simply gave me grace knowing that my intentions were right and that if I had not been careless I would have said the correct thing.
We should never take joy in pointing out the mistakes of others.  It is natural to want to prove that we are right and to take pride in correctness, but it is not the way of Christ.  We should desire truth because it sets people free and not because it makes us look more wise or gives us more authority.  Living in the right ways, if we are not careful, can produced an alienating pride.  We should instead allow the truth of what we practice to produce humility and a godly worldview.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"The challenge is not merely to pursue righteousness, but to prefer righteousness."
-John Piper

Monday, December 5, 2011

You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you.
You have to go to them sometimes.
-From Winnie the Pooh

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I had a 4-star day

(I realize I have posted three items over the weekend...please don't be overwhelmed)

As strange as it may seem to some, I have a rating system for how my day goes.  A lot of it is based on my internal mood and, of course, much of the rest is based on external circumstances.  I plot my days on a scale of 1 to 5 stars with 1 being the worst of days and 5 being the greatest.  Over time, I have scored several 1-star days, but most days are 2-star or 3-star days.  I occasionally have a 4-star day and I have never recorded a 5-star day.

Charting my days in this way has helped me see patterns in my days and weeks and over the course of time. What I have come to see is that my 1-star days are usually spent in isolation while my better days are spent with others.  Today, I recorded my first 4-star day in quite a while.  I enjoyed getting up extra early this morning and looking over my class and sermon notes and being able to be confident of the material that I wanted to present today.  I enjoyed my ride to church with mom and then the time spent in worship and study.  Teaching Bible class is one of my favorite things to do and today both classes went well.  I spent the afternoon with many members of my family, but also was able to relax and listen to some music and read more of the Bible.  Despite the rain, the ride home was enjoyable and dinner was great.  I was able to come home and help a friend with a project and write some cards to send off tomorrow.  I am tired which means (usually) that I will sleep well.

Everyone has to decide how best to spend his or her own time.  I have found that building both structure and down time into each day is important.  Sundays are usually my best day of the week because I am doing something for others and feel useful.  The more I discipline myself to get into a pattern of sleep, study, activity and socializing the better I feel.  If I am occupied my internal strife is not at the forefront of my mind and I can temporarily escape the roller coaster of my moods.

Today, I had a 4-star day.  Tomorrow is a new day with both joy and trouble of its own.  It may turn out to be a 1-star day or it could even be my first 5-star day.  I realize that the majority share of how it turns out depends on my approach, attitude and spirit.  Your days are no different.  It is quite often not what happens to us, but how we approach what happens to us that makes the most difference in our quality of life.

Wishing you many 4-star (or even 5-star) days to come...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Remiss

I realize that the month of November was not an active one here on the blog.  I am glad many of you are continue to read/watch the things I post here despite my recent infrequency.

We are beginning a study of the Sermon on the Mount on Sundays.  I am studying more for this class than I have studied in a long time and I am being amazed by the simple yet wonderful depth of Jesus' teachings.  We are using Matthew's account and I am looking forward to sharing my observations with our class.  Commentaries abound and I am making use of several different perspectives on the text.  While not embracing it totally personally, I have become a distant admirer of Reformed theology over the last year.  I believe this has been reflected in my preaching more than my Bible class teaching thus far.  The more I read and study about the nature of God and the personhood of Jesus the more I realize how little I know about those important subjects.  Books have become my seminary and I am thankful to be able to grow in knowledge.

May God continue to bless you on your journey and I do hope to be writing more soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Thanksgiving...

I really enjoyed this piece from TWLOHA about how for some of us Thanksgiving is a little different.

Hope you will read and realize that many people struggle with being thankful because of the brokenness they feel.

Enjoy.

http://www.twloha.com/blog/thanksgiving-note-to-say-youre

Sunday, November 6, 2011

House of Gold with The Secret Sisters

If I Stand




There's more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
And more that shines in the night
Than just the moon
It's more than just this fire here
That keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger
Than this room


And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the giver
Of all good things


CHORUS:
So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home


There's more that dances on the prairies
Than the wind
More that pulses in the ocean
Than the tide
There's a love that is fiercer
Than the love between friends
More gentle than a mother's
When her baby's at her side


And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegence
I owe only to the Giver
Of all good things


CHORUS(2x)

And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

Friday, November 4, 2011


"Any fool can count the seeds in an apple. 
Only God can count all the apples in one seed."
~Robert H. Schuller


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Memphis...again


While living in a small town is great, it is also fun to escape to the big city for a break from the everyday.  I love Memphis and this will be my third trip through there in as many days.  Looking forward to seeing my sister, walking by the river, and enjoying that urban feel for a few hours.
Don't worry, I'll be home by bedtime.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Going south...


Trip to Oxford, MS, today with my grandparents.  Oxford is one of my favorite towns and, although this will be a lightening fast trip, I look forward to sharing it with them.
Enjoy these last warm days!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Words of an old hymn on a rainy day...

Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.

Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

If, in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day.

Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of its goal;
Come then, oh, come, glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary heart;
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
Never, oh, never depart!

Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My dad forwarded my this video...hoping for a win tonight!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Family time in Memphis!


Enjoyed attending the kick-off week to the international tour of the
Tony Award winning
Memphis: A New Musical
at the Orpheum in Memphis with my mom and sister.
Great show about the story of the music of a great city.
Thanks, Memphis!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thoughts on today

I have lived my entire adult life in a country in a state of war.  I was a senior in high school when 9/11 happened and for the last ten years have watched our country engage in conflict in an attempt to bring peace to the troubled regions of the world.  Had I been living as a 17 to 27-year-old in Afghanistan or Iraq in the last decade, my view of these conflicts would no doubt be far different.  The vast majority of Americans have not born the weight of our current wars.  Our military personnel and their families have endured the sacrifice of time, distance and, in some cases, life so that the rest of us could live comfortably and safely insulated from the harsh realities of conflict.  Unlike our national struggles of the past, this war has been fought by an all volunteer military.  While I sometimes may not agree with the reasoning or politics involved in the carrying out of the two present conflicts, I do believe that the ideals and virtues that the vast majority of our military personnel hold should be honored and respected.  I believe we, as those who have reaped the benefits of their labor, should be grateful.  Often lasting peace can only be found on the other side of conflict and I pray that the final result of our current conflicts will be a better, happier and more peaceful world.

Blessings.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

22 years after this appearance on Austin City Limits, and Lucinda is still going strong. This is my favorite Lucinda song. Looking forward to the concert tomorrow night!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You."
-David in Psalm 73

Friday, October 7, 2011

"God can never forgive the man who does not want to be forgiven."
-Oswald Chambers

Friday, September 30, 2011

"Jesus didn't come to show us the way.  He came to become the Way for us."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thanks

I wanted to take a moment to stop and thank everyone for your many kind encouragements over the last year.
  2010 was an extremely difficult year for me and your support has made 2011 a great deal better than last year.  The church at Lebanon provided me with a great opportunity to rest and recover during the later part of 2010 and I am so thankful for their continued confidence in my abilities and ministry.  My family has been a wonderful source of encouragement and support through the last several years in dealing with my health challenges.  My doctors and counselors have been a wonderful help in providing me with the best possible care.  My friends who I stay in contact with via the Internet have provided needed counsel and support.
Thanks again for all your acts of kindness.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
-Carl Sandburg

Monday, September 12, 2011

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
-Jim Elliot

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"You need a 1300 SAT just to watch it."
-ESPN commentator referring to the Duke-Stanford football game

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gettysburg Address

Recently a proposition to build a casino 1/2 mile from the National Military Park at Gettysburg, PA, was defeated.  Men who, while approaching the Civil War from the angles of filmmaker, writer, actor, composer and Medal of Honor recipent, offered their free services to the defeating of this proposal.  They are voices made famous in documentary and feature films associated with the Civil War.  Thankfully in America we still value and hold sacred certain places and how they have impacted our national conscience.  May it ever be so.

"Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment."
-C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"I am grateful for all those dark years, even though in retrospect they seem like a long, bitter prayer that was answered finally."
-Marilynne Robinson in Gilead

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Your extremity is God’s opportunity. The difficulty all along has been to get to the end of you; for when a man gets to the end of himself, he has reached the beginning of God’s working."
-Charles Spurgeon

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"It is perilously easy to have amazing sympathy with God's truth and remain in sin."
-Oswald Chambers

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

"Live so that if anything bad is said about you, your friends won't believe it and your enemies can't prove it."
-Marshall Keeble

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Death of Virginia Holiday

Brandon and I in 2001 at Sardis Lake Christian Camp
I learned a few moments ago of the death of the mother of my dear friend, Brandon Holiday.  Brandon and I were roommates for three years at Freed-Hardeman University and friends from church camp.  Please keep Brandon, his father Wayne and sister Jasmine in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Surprised by Oxford not surprising

I recently completed Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber.  The memoir tells the story of one woman's search for faith amid the academic and social circles of Oxford University.  Weber, affectionately known as "Caro" throughout the work, moves from a hardened position of unbelief to a reborn, reawakened Christian by story's end.

The book moves along briskly through the opening chapters following Oxford's unique term schedule as a guide for the story.  About the time of Weber's conversion, however, the work begins to drag a bit.  While I understand that a memoir has to work within the confines of the facts, Weber seemed to convert too early in the story.  The male figure "TDH" is memorable (and we later find a major influence on Weber spiritually and otherwise) and the supporting characters are all very real.  The main conflict does not seem to be between Weber and God but rather between Weber and reason, family and ambition.

Overall, the book was good if predictable.  Not everyone who pursues God will find as much support as Weber does from her motley crew of classmates and professors.  For others the process of conversion will be similiar.

Two aspects I loved about the book: the length of the individual chapters and the quotes/poems/epigrams that appeared constantly in the work.  As a student of literature, it was good to be reminded of Donne, Hopkins, Coleridge, Blake, Milton and others.

I would recommend the book to people who enjoy academics and questions of faith.  I think the average Christian reader might find some of the material a little too deep for an enjoyable read.

Overall, I give the book 3 1/2 of 5 stars.

Thomas Nelson provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Often the darkest things within ourselves become the keys by which we open ourselves to God, to His healing, and to a better comprehension of grace."
-Surprised by Oxford

Friday, August 26, 2011

Prodigal son story from the father's perspective






Well, I woke one morning, found you staring down at me
You said "I'll take my share now, father please"
And you took your money and you took your leave
You drilled my heart and turned your back on me

And you hit the town and you hit the bottle hard
You race 'round in your fancy cars and you blow all your money
On brothels, beds, and bars
Before you know your broken times get hard

I still stand here waiting with my eyes fixed on the road
And I fight back tears and I wonder if you're ever coming home
Don't you know son that I love you
And I don't care where you've been, so please come home

And now you've hit bottom, all those open doors have shut
And you're hungry stomach's tied in knots
But I know what you're thinking, that you troubled me enough
Nothing could ever separate you from my love

I still stand here waiting, with my eyes fixed on the road
And I fight back tears and I wonder if you're ever coming home
Don't you know son that I love you
And I don't care where you've been
Yes and I'll be right here waiting, 'til you come around the bend

And I run to you and hold you close, won't let go again
So please come home, please come home
Don't you know son that I love you?
And I don't care where you've been, so please come home

Happy 24th!

Happy 24th birthday to my sister, Sarah Beth! 
I am so proud of my sister and the person she is. 
Looking forward to celebrating tonight with our family. 
"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult; and left untried."
-G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, August 25, 2011

When I am doing well, let me thank God.
When I am living in doubt, let me ask God.
When I am confident, let me find humility before God.
When I make a mistake, let me trust God.
When I am in need of love, let me turn to God.
When I am lonely, let me know the presence of God.
When I want to give up, let me remember God.
When I think it will never get better, let me choose God.
In all things let me simply know God.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I went through Amarillo about 1:00 AM on my way to a missionary conference in Lubbock. We drove all day straight from Tennessee in a crowded church bus. One of the greatest trips I ever took with college friends. Here is a little George Strait for all those pulling long nights tonight.

Muppets!

"I'd rather have friends than money, provided my friends have money."
-Marshall Keeble

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is that a Razorback?


Saw this on Facebook and had to repost.  Great omen for Arkansas fans.
"Some days it's ok for things to not be rationally true."
-Hank Green

I find myself often believing in things that are not rationally true. 
A great number of things I believe to be true are not rational. 
My belief in an unseen spiritual realm. 
My belief in my glorified, resurrected body spending eternity in the presence of an unseen, all-powerful Deity. 
Even my belief that the Cardinals might still catch the Brewers in the NL Central race.

Just because something seems irrational is no reason to stop believing. 
Flying machines once seemed irrational and yet da Vinci sketched them 400 years before they were built.  And they were built and now have traveled even beyond our solar system. 
Mass produced books once seemed a pipe dream and now we not only got them (eventually millions of titles available for mere pennies apiece) we have replaced them with Kindles, iPads and smart tablets. 
Personal computers?  Once thought entirely to be the stuff of science fiction.
We can talk on phones that aren't connected to any visible conveying agent to people in space.

Whenever someone tells you your beliefs or goals are irrational, simply smile and remember that with enough faith and determination, anything is possible.

Prayers for Pat

As someone who has met Coach Summitt on a couple of occassions and who shares mutual friends, I was upset to hear of Pat's illness.  She says it plainly and honestly like she always has.  Our prayers are with Pat, her family, her friends and Volunteer Nation.

http://espn.go.com/womens-college-basketball/story/_/id/6888321/tennessee-lady-vols-pat-summitt-early-onset-dementia
"If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?"
-Benjamin Franklin

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Secret Sisters again...

Great article about Lydia and Laura...so glad to see these young women having success!

Opportunities to help

Each trip to my mailbox these days has brought more letters and requests for help on various projects.  It seems the phrase "one-time donation" did not convince these faithful organizations that I was, in fact, only going to help out one time. 

I am thankful for all the great organizations I have been able to be a part of over the last few years.  I am even thankful that they send me requests for more funds.  This allows me to know that they are serious about whatever cause they represent.  We have so much in the world that needs doing and we are the ones to do it.

One organization that I am particularly proud to partner with is Compassion International (see banner in sidebar).  For only $38 a month, I am able to help Compassion raise a child out of poverty.  I enjoy receiving letters from Oswaldo, my 12-year-old sponsored child from Ecuador.  I am able to send him notes, cards and letters and we talk about many things (with the help of translators).  In his last letter he asked me, "Did Jesus have children?"  His innocence and sense of wonder is astounding.  I am so glad I get to be a part of his life.

Whatever way you choose to help others know that people do appreciate your efforts.  From putting change in a jar at the checkout line to writing a large check to volunteering your time, we all need to find ways to make a difference.

Have a blessed day helping others!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Choices

George Jones lays out the fact that life revolves the choices we make.  While we might not all struggle with the issues that Jones sings about, it is true that we are all "livin' and dyin' with the choices" we make.  Remember that in every situation you have a choice.  Doing the right thing may be difficult, but our choices will determine our destiny.



Friday, August 19, 2011

"I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done."
-Hudson Taylor

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School starts back

When I was a child, one of my favorite experiences each year was the return of school in August.  I always enjoyed school and school activities and never dreaded the prospect of returning to the classroom.  August meant the start of preseason football, being assigned new teachers and seeing which friends were in each class.

When college arrived, I continued to look forward to the start of school.  After my freshman year, I always arrived back on campus early to help the new students move into the dorms.  It was always exciting to learn what everyone had done over the summer and to start the year together.

Best wishes to those, young and old, who are starting a new school year.  May you learn much and enjoy your experiences!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sharing troubles

It has been said that troubles or worries kept to one's self will only multiply while trouble shared is divided and therefore easier to bear.  I am not sure what I think about that sentiment, but I was able to mutually share some troubles and worries with a couple of great friends this week.
My two friends are very different from each other, but all of us have experienced ups and downs since college.  Both of my friends are in graduate programs and hearing their insights about romance, education, politics and religion was refreshing.  I am seldom around people my own age especially people struggling with some of the same questions I wrestle with.  This week proved very positive as I was able to look back over the last decade and see how my life has grown and changed. 
Having old friends is a blessing and seeing them is even better.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"It requires less character to discover the faults of others, than to tolerate them."
-J. Petit Senn


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Link to Secret Sisters

Here is a link to the previously posted video:

http://www.yallwire.com/player/thesecretsistersinterview.html?1=1&detect_bitrate=_2000

Had to removed embeding for some reason.  Enjoy!

Blog malfunction

Forgive me if sme of you get several e-mail updates of test posts.  I have had a malfunction on the blog and it is acting strangely.

-Will

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Music travels the same path our hearts travel. Heaven will be the end of that path."
-Anonymous comment left on "Music of Eternity" post

Thanks for reading and sharing!
"The hardest years in life are those between ten and seventy."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Music of Eternity

Music is one of the most profound ways human beings connect to one another.  Melodies and lyrics can transport us to different places and remind us of a higher purpose.  Singing is something that we all do as children to learn and to have fun.  Many of us as adults have favorite songs and artists and spend a good deal of time involved in music.
I was fortunate enough to attend a Gospel singing tonight at the congregation where I grew up. Many old, familiar faces were there including several, like me, who have gone on to worship at other places. The singing was wonderful with many different styles, voices and eras of songs represented. Many young children were there along with many senior citizen saints. We sang for over an hour and a half and then enjoyed refreshments.
It was a lovely evening.
The only thing bad about a night described above is that it has to end. People must rest, return to work or school and do other activities. What a blessing to know that in Heaven the praise will never end. The Scriptures describe the saints of all the ages gathered in the throne room of God singing the songs of Moses and the Lamb. We will sing with the apostles, the prophets and our saved loved ones who have gone before us. We will sing the songs of redemption. The songs of liberation. The songs that only the redeemed can sing.  All of those millions upon millions of voices will blend in perfect harmony to praise the Voice that spoke worlds into existence.
Next time you hear a favorite song remember that as a person of faith you have a future filled with music.
 
"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being."
-Oscar Wilde

Thursday, August 4, 2011

College friends

Next week I am planning on seeing a couple of college friends I have not seen in several years.  Much of my college experience was social and I miss having close friends of my same age and background.  Both of these friends have been busy with graduate school and I love hearing about all their adventures.  Friendship is a great feeling and being able to relate to other people is a blessing.  Looking forward to reunions, big and small.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New sister in Christ

This evening I was privileged to be able to baptize my friend, Rachel.  Over the past seven years of knowing Rachel and her family, I have seen her make great strides to become the person God would have her to be.  Like with many of us, Rachel's spiritual path has not always been clear and smooth, but seeds planted many years ago and watered by the love of friends and family have brought her to this point.  I am proud to have played some small part in her growth and I hope to continue to be a help to her on her Christian journey.

God, bless Rachel as she begins a new phase of spiritual life.  Keep her always focused on You and Your will for her life.  Bless her husband, parents, brothers and sisters as they aid her in this journey.  May You be glorified in her life always.
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name."
-Psalm 100

Friday, July 29, 2011

“I belong to the church of Christ; not a branch or wing of it, or a party in it; but to the church itself.  I propose never to stand associated with one special wing, branch, or party of the church.  My aim is to preach the gospel, to do the work of an evangelist, teach God’s children how to live, and, as long as I do live, to live as nearly an absolutely perfect life as possible.”
– T.B. Larimore.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on Him."
—Hudson Taylor, missionary to China

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity."
-Leonard Ravenhill


Friday, July 22, 2011

Is it just me?

Several times in my life I have given people advice to go in one direction, and then I have promptly turned and gone in the opposite.  Sometimes this advice was relational, sometimes behavioral, sometimes spiritual.  What is about human nature that makes us defy good judgment and common sense and invite disaster?  I think the answer to that question lies at the heart of who we are as people.  We are rebellious given our fallen state and it was rebellion that caused the situation to begin with.

Parents will tell you that often times the fastest way to get a child to do something is to forbid it.  Even as children, we want to know if we really will get punished; if we really will be injured and heartbroken.  I think back over the vast majority of sins I have committed in my life and, largely, they were intentional acts of disobedience.  One might argue that intent behind the thought, word or action has a large part in determining whether it is sinful at all.  Why do I choose evil when I know what the consequences will be?

Some might say because sin brings pleasure for a season and I think the Bible would agree with that.  After several run-ins with serious sin, however, it looks like we would be tired of the pain and emotional turmoil.  John Wesley taught the doctrine of Christian Perfection: that we can reach a point where we cease to sin or even desire sin.  How can this be?  I believe this point can only come when we have matured to a point to see sin for what it is: evil that separates us not only from God but from each other.  If we can fully realize that essential truth then we have a much great opportunity to look temptation in the face and refuse its offer.

I am still growing in that direction and I hope you are as well.  Let us press forward and onward toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy 40th!

My dear friend, Bobby, has turned 40 today.  Bobby continues to work with the congregation I grew up in both with youth and now as the pulpit minister. 
When I was a young teen, Bobby was a great encouragement to me by taking me to youth events, church camp and allowing me to help with the ball teams he coached. 
Since those early years of our friendship, Bobby and his wife have two sons of their own and they have influenced countless numbers of people, young and old, for Christ. 
Bobby and his family have truly been a blessing to my life and the life of my hometown. 
I pray that God will continue to use his life to lead others to a more abundant way of living.
"Someone asked will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?
It is more a question with me whether we — who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not — can be saved." 
-Charles H. Spurgeon


Book Review: Rumors of God

I recently read Rumors of God by authors Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson.  Both men are pastors/ministers within the community church movement.  One is a teaching pastor at a suburban Chicago megachurch and the other is a church planter at a large NYC congregation.  The book is well laid out with short, compact chapters.  Each chapter covers a different aspect of God's desire for contemporary Christians.

Rumors of God is an attempt to call the modern church and individual Christians to live beyond the ordinary and find the life that God desires for them.  The authors refer to these ideals as "rumors" because while we believe in theory that God is working in our time few of us see His genuine presence in our own lives.  The book is largely a critique of modern/postmodern cultural and how it has negatively impacted the church.  Issues such as competition and consumerism are evaluated and compared to Biblical teaching.  The book uses lots of Scripture references and allusions to make its application to the present day.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  I felt like the book would appeal to especially to urban Christians in large churches.  Many of the authors personal examples from ministry would occur much more frequently in cities outside the Bible Belt.  The book points us as Christians in a higher direction and more toward what God truly desires of His people.  In discovering the truth of the "rumors" we may find that God is much different than we had previously imagined.  The book prompts personal investigation into who God is and what He desires for His children.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Life changes and perspective

Those of you who know me well know that I am not the best at romantic relationships.  In college I dated a lot of people for various lengths of time.  Currently three of my former girlfriends who were all significant in my life and growth as a person are now married and expecting their first child. 

This fact has made me realize a couple of things: one, that I would not change any of those relationships or how they turned out.  These three ladies are now each happily married and very happy in their locations, careers and families.  I am not married, as you know, but am in a quite content season of life as a single person doing a job I love. 

Secondly, I am glad for the ability to remember good times in my dating relationships.  Each of these women were enjoyable to be around, good at listening and are genuinely caring people.  Just because we did not form lasting romantic relationships does not mean I do not still think highly of each of them. 

Finally, I realized that I have changed a lot since college.  Obviously, my health problems have played a part in those changes, but I think the maturity that has come in the last five years has radically altered the way I view life and relationships.  Since leaving college dating behind, I have had a positive, adult relationship with a wonderful woman.  While that relationship ultimately evolved from a dating situation to a mutual friendship, I learned so much about what I want in life as a result.

For along time I was ashamed of my dating behaviors in college.  I was inexperienced and immature.  Now I realize that past mistakes do not have to define my future in any area of my life.  I am looking forward to whatever life has to offer and hope that the lessons I have learned will enable me to meet its challenges.
"What is dead may be dormant, and what is barren may be about to bear, and wild things can somehow find a way to bloom."
-Ann Voskamp

Monday, July 18, 2011

"The great tragedy of materialistic America is not financial abundance, but spiritual poverty."
-Rumors of God

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Totals

This site (as of the last ClusterMap total) has been viewed in 67 countries around the world as well as the vast majority of U.S. states.  Apparently, we have quite a readship in Ohio who (other than TN) wins for total hits at over 300 individual uploads.

As always, thanks for reading!

Directions for the Way

My Garmin GPS has finally stopped working after months of poor health.  I love a GPS because it can be a guide in unknown territory and give you a sense of course, direction and position no matter where you are.

We all need direction in life.  Many of us were taught certain principles by our parents that guided us into adulthood.  Perhaps coaches, grandparents and teachers further lent direction to our formative years.  We desire and need direction in all areas of life: social, career, family and, of course, spiritual.  It is the search for direction that ultimately finds itself as its own reward.  Jesus spoke of Himself as "the Way."  Notice He did not say He was the destination. In the same passage (John 14), He notes that the Father is Who lies at the end of a journey with Him and no one gets to the destination unless he or she goes in the right Way.

My advice is that we learn to enjoy the Way in life.  As we follow along the path that is laid before us, let us not miss the journey by only looking for the reward of the destination.  God has a great desire that we should learn many things in this life; some from revelation and many through experience.  If you find the Way, finding the destination will surely follow.
"To love another person is to see the face of God."
-Les Miserables

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pilate

Tonight I will be speaking on the Alamo church of Christ Summer Series.  As speakers we were asked to tailor our lessons around a character from the New Testament that we don't often hear lessons about.  After a couple of thoughts, I decided to speak on Pontius Pilate.  I can honestly say I have never heard a lesson centered around Pilate and his role in the Gospel narrative.  I have found preparing for this lesson challenging and it has caused me to exam the death of Jesus in new ways.  I am not sure how much I have learned will be conveyed to the congregation tonight, but I hope some small measure of knowledge can be transferred.  Here's hoping we all re-evaluate these familiar passages from time to time and come away with a deeper, fuller understanding of what God has done and is doing for us.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"We all want a love like a country song...of course, some of us get Tim and Faith love and others get that George and Tammy type."
"Christ came and lost everything that He might heal the wounds that we have from losing things.” -A.W. Tozer

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's Wedding Day!

Congratulations to Paige Hughes and Aaron Vaughn whose wedding is now just a few hours away.  Paige is the first of my cousins on this side of the family to be married.  I am so fortunate to have known Paige and Aaron and been asked to be a part o the ceremony.

Love you guys!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Be sure

Dear Reader,

Be sure to check out A Holy Experience (link in sidebar).  In today's entry, Ann brings a story of near tragedy that is overcome by the help of family.  Great post!

Be blessed,
-Will
"The temptation of the age is to look good without being good."
—Brennan Manning

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blog

Many times on this blog I am expressing my personal opinions or responses to situations I have faced in life.  Other times I am making general observations about life, faith and other topics.  I fear that some readers take these observations personally which is not how they are intended.  Often I am merely writing to satisfy the need to express myself and am not intending to draw any conclusions on the matters of which I write.  If you enjoy the blog, I am glad.  If you find what I write here offensive, feel free to contact me about it or find other sources of online reading.

I hope many of you will continue to read and offer your thoughts.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pray for study

This Thursday, Lord willing, I will be meeting with some Mormons to talk about the Scriptures.  This is my fourth or fifth meeting with LDS missionaries, but only my second with these two guys.  Our first meeting lasted over an hour and they seemed open to discussing some deeper issues.  Most of my encounters with LDS members in the past have led to mutual respect but no lasting results.  For some reason I feel that at least one of these young men may be different.

Please pray that I will have God's Spirit and God's words as I speak to these young men.  Imagine what great missionaries converted LDS members would make?!  We are slowly building up to some important questions and I hope that we will find common ground in the truth of God's word.

Thanks for all you do.
"God cannot lead you on the basis of information you do not have." —Ralph Winter

Sunday, July 3, 2011


"God never takes away anything that He doesn’t replace with Himself."
 -Jacquelyn K. Heasley

Saturday, July 2, 2011

When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, "You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages."
To that, Calvert replied, "We died before we came here."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Incomprehensible

One thing I like most about God is that He is incomprehensible.  God has no boundaries, no gender (as a Spirit), no limitations (other than ones He imposes on Himself), a being with no regrets, no mistakes, no equals, no companions, no weaknesses...it's pretty remarkable.

Knowing what little I know about God leads me to a state of awe mixed with fear.  He is beyond everything yet right in the middle of everything.  Faith makes it possible to see Him and He has not left Himself without witness.

Praise!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Billy Graham in Quotes: A Review

I recently received a complimentary copy of Thomas Nelson's new book, Billy Graham in Quotes in exchange for an unbiased review.  The book is edited by Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney.  It has an attractive cover and is well laid out and easy to maneuver through.
I must confess I absorbed the book and carried it from room to room reading large portions at one sitting.  I would wager that this is not how the book is meant to be digested, but I took some good lessons away from it nonetheless.  I see this book, which is almost 400 pages long, as a reference tool.  What does the most famous preacher of our time say about angels? Sin? Christianity? War?  The book gives over 100 topics in alphabetical order and each topic contains several quotes from Graham. 
I personally found the majority of the quotes on each topic quite generic.  To me, Graham's message is very plain and not nearly as inspiring as his life.  Those looking for deep theology, life-changing testimony or a biography of Graham will need to search out other sources.  This book would be a good resource for those preparing church newsletters or bulletins that need a brief quote to begin an article.
Overall, I give the layout and style a 4/5 stars, but the content 2/5.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My favorite Kenny Chesney song...

I have been in a nostalgic country music mood the last week or so.  I liked Kenny before he went to the beach...

"God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through."

Belonging

One of the greatest desires any of us face as human beings is a desire to belong.  Thousands of houses of worship, thousands more clubs and fraternities, millions of marriages...all bear out the fact that part of the human experience is to want to share that experience with others.

I must confess this has always been difficult for me; belonging that is.  I never seem to stay satisfied to be placed in one particular group and therefore excluded from others.  I consider myself to be an intensely private person although in my life I have always held very public jobs and positions.  I often don't feel capable of belonging (at least totally).  It is not so much that I desire to stand apart, in fact the opposite is true, but I don't feel able to give myself totally to a cause, a club, a community, a family, a friend group.  I am probably too suspicious of "joiners," but it has never been a role I am comfortable in.

Hopefully my fear of being truly known will be overcome by the desire to belong and I will begin to build relationships that are more positive and lasting.

I believe God made us to live in community, but I guess every community needs a loner or two.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"The tragedy of modern Christianity is that, even in the church, we have lost a sense of the holiness of God." -Leonard Ravenhill