Lights, Friends, Has-Beens, and Punks

Tonight in Pascagoula … It’s a Dangerously Foggy Night.

 Since I will not be at Central this Sunday, I spent this morning taking care of some things that need to be in place. Sam Long, of Faulkner University, will be speaking in my place. I hope if you’re local you will come out and hear his message and class. This afternoon Jim Ingram and myself made a few visits. Maggy and I attended granddaughter Claire’s school Christmas presentation. It was cute.

I did have a great interruption today when Ed McGaughy knocked on my door. Ed and I are old camp friends, having directed many sessions together over the years at Gulf Coast Bible Camp. He was the youth minister at the Spanish Fort, Alabama Church of Christ at that time. They had a fantastic youth group that was so energetic for God. I attribute this to God’s work in their hearts, and in his servant Ed … who has a contagious enthusiasm and love for God. He has so many qualities that I wish I had. These days Ed works as a computer repair / technician, so if you’re on the Gulf Coast and need some computer / network work done, give him a call. I hope he stops by again sometime soon.

We are getting some calls from people who saw on the blog that we needed help getting ceramic tile put down at the church. Thank you so much. It looks like we will have some folks come in about mid-January to get that done. If you want to assist them, I’m sure they will not turn down any help! Speaking of volunteers, we have already closed some weeks in March due to the number of people coming to help. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for Central in the coming months!

For months now I have looked out of my dining room window across the street to my neighbor’s house. At this place a mother lives in a camper in the back yard, grown daughter and two children live in camper in the driveway. For sixteen months no one has been able to live in this house. Tonight I am so happy to see lights on inside the house. I’m not sure if they have totally moved in yet … but those lights across the street are certainly a beautiful sight to me.

And a light of a different nature … Adam Wilson. Adam was stationed here a few years ago. He was a young single man in the military who was very devoted to Jesus Christ. We fell in love with him instantly, including the teenagers that he spent much time with. Like all military folks who have been here at various times, he came and went on the orders of someone else. We were sad to see him leave. I even felt moved to write a letter to his parents back home (in Virginia?) to tell them what an inspirational young man he had been in our midst. Hurricane Katrina came in August of 2005. By then Adam had been long gone. I had no reason to believe that he would be watching what was happening here. Until the checks started to arrive. Most months since Katrina we have received a check from Adam Wilson. I know he can’t be making a fortune, so his generous gift means so much. As one arrived just the other day I wondered where Adam is stationed now. I have lost touch with him, but he has not lost touch with us. Yet another evidence of God’s grace finding its way to the surface after the storm.

Below are some links relating to Jay Bakker. Like him or not, he says some startling things in sometimes crude ways. But his emphasis on the poor, judged, and discarded (by Christians) is both an indictment and an offense … and catches my attention. In a recent newsletter Jay reports that his mother’s colon cancer has worsened and she is in significantly poor health. I know a lot of people think the Bakker’s are just kooks, but somehow all that television exposure made many Americans feel as if they knew the Bakkers. I’d recommend reading Jay’s book, Son of A Preacher Man: My Search for Grace in the Shadows … I couldn’t put it down once I started it. Also if you can rent The Eyes of Tammy Faye at a video outlet near you, I found it to be fascinating.

***Links***

Vista Print is a great source of good-looking business cards, post cards, note pads … personalized … and at a great price. If you use THIS LINK to get there as a first time customer, I can get some free cards or whatever. I’ve been using them for years, and they are awesome.

Are the Saints Superbowl Bound? I remember the paper sacks on the heads of Saint’s fans. None of those now.

Road Rage Leads Man to Attack Another With … Deer Antlers!?!

34 Minute Execution in Florida Raises Death Penalty Debate.

Christian Chronicle’s Coverage of Richland Hills Church of Christ Adding an Instrumental Service.

Ken Harris has an all-star visitor at church.

Jay Bakker’s Move From Atlanta to New York Sparks CNN Article: What The Hell Happened to Christianity? I would love to hear your comments on the story. And if you want more info…

Jay Bakker is “One Punk Under God” on the Sundance Channel (which I do not get, but you can download the episodes on iTunes for ten bucks).

–  Jay Bakker’s Revolution Church.

–  Tammy Faye’s Website

–  Jim Bakker’s Website

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HN5R-T9Fbo]

Looking Back: Ok, I went a bit overboard on the Bakker links in this post. I do think there is much more to the Gospel than they tell. But they are American Icons of the 80s and people of interest. To me. And I know to at least one other Blogger who might identify himself.  Thanks for reading… the next post will likely be late Sunday night or Monday.

Goodbye, Frank.

 Yes, he was a lot of things before he was Frank Barone, but that was his latest best known gig, and it was a great one.  Peter Boyle died today at age 71. He played the cranky unlovable father to Raymond and crew.  I am a latecomer to Everybody Loves Raymond. Actually my parents thought it was funny, so I started watching it in reruns. The good thing about that is that I was able to watch a couple of episodes every night until I had seen them all. And I think every episode had me laughing out loud. Once my mother said, “I’m glad our family isn’t like that.” I could only plead the fifth.  I think most of us could see some of our family in that program. Maybe not to that extreme, but certainly we laughed because we knew how close we could be if we let go. Of course we shouldn’t let go. There were a few seasons where the humor was pretty mean, but the rest of the show was great. My imagination wants to know what Marie will do without Frank. Everyone else will be OK, but she was the perfect sidekick for his character.

I guess, though, my favorite role for Peter Boyle was as the hilarious monster created by Young Frankenstein. As a Mel Brooks fan, I thought it was a brilliant movie. Anyhow, we watch these actors sometimes and feel as if we know them, when we really do not. Thanks for the laughs, Peter Boyle. Goodbye, Frank.

***Links***

Go ahead, take five minutes, and let this site fill you with peace.

There’s Still Moonshine in Mississippi. Isn’t it easier to just go to the liquor store?

Major League Baseball contributes to Katrina relief.

Do low-fat foods make us FAT?

Just when we thought it was safe to eat at Taco Bell, we find out we can’t eat at Taco John either. Maybe it’s just the tacos.

Where do we put Billy?

Dr. Death Gets Out.

Well, thanks for reading. Let’s end with a great laugh together!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UexffH422Vg]

From My Front Yard Last Night, Catching Claire Dancing By The Tree.

 Welcome to Sprinter. Yes, it’s Winter, but it feels like Spring. Unbelievable. Just a few days ago we had freeze warnings. My outdoor plants are regretting my thought that they will be OK without any special attention. They are looking quite like Fall …brown leaves and everything. What a seasonal mixup! Weather.com affirms that this will be our weather pattern for the next ten days. Even our trip up to North Mississippi this weekend will not bring us any cooler temps. This kind of weather brings out the Grinch in me! And speaking of weather, Dr. Gray has turned over Hurricane predictions to his apprentice, and they have already published their first prognostication. I’m not even going to link it. Come on people. Don’t we get tired of these dire predictions? I just pray that we have another season like 2006. It’s too soon to even be talking about this!

Tomorrow we will have another crew from the Eva Church of Christ. These wonderful people have been here so many times. They are not from just around the corner, either. We got a nice letter from a couple who came with the last crew. It was their first time. They were really touched by the people they helped. I talked with a young lady associated with AmeriCorps a few nights ago. She related that when they got here, they were feeling a bit like they were not really needed. That is, until they went into some of these houses and realized the uphill battle so many elderly people are fighting. She was very moved.  On our side of things, it’s hard to imagine how it is that so many people have come our way over the past several months. On the other side of the coin I hear all the time about how volunteering here has affected people in a positive way. The group from Eva will be here a few days and then head back home. They have been here often enough that they do not need much instruction. They arrive, work hard every minute they can, and then head home. I hope to visit that congregation one of these days. I’ve already seen what kind of heart they have.

 I did finally get my latest sermon up on the podcast located HERE. I had a lot of trouble this time … not sure if it was on my end or Podomatic’s. Anyway, the sermon is ‘Three Christmas Gifts for God’ from Micah 6.

 I mention Robbie Woods from time to time. Today marks one year that he walked into the church building with nothing but the clothes on his back. Today he has his own apartment, a job, and is sober. I celebrate this anniversary with Robbie and look forward to great things from him in the future.

Well, it was inevitable…but it happened yesterday. I was in the store and I was enjoying a great rendition of Silent Night by Stevie Nicks … awesome. And then like fingernails scraping down a chalkboard … it came on the speakers. The dark demon of Christmas songs, Santa Baby began to play. I not only dislike this song, I despise this song. I wish I could think of a reasonable reason why … but … I can’t. It just grates on my nerves.  Is there a Christmas song you hate?

***Links***

Oreck to close it’s Long Beach plant. Another victim of Katrina, the plant will move to Tennessee. 400 people will lose their jobs.

Laugh and the World Laughs With You. Really.

Danny Dodd writes about the ‘Me Generation’. I was unable to leave a comment all day because Blogger is having some issues. (And no whiney complaints because I pointed out that Blogger is down … they have troubles…we all know this!)

Wade Tannehill ponders the church celebrating Christmas.

Patrick Mead writes a post about a hero, and it is a Must Read.

 Thanks for reading!

End of the Weekend

Thanks for the great comments on the last post. Feel free to continue to post more if you’d like to express yourself. We had a good crowd at Central this morning. I’m going to have to find someone who will take the job of taking a count each week…although that doesn’t tell the whole story. One of the neat things that happened today is a surprise visit from some folks from Southern Hills Church of Christ in Franklin, TN. The Lincolns and Derryberrys were here to see how things looked one year later. I remember clearly the beautiful gift of Christmas presents given to each member of our church by this sweet church (in cooperation with the Concord Avenue Church of Christ in Brentwood, TN). We enjoyed renewing our acquaintance and having a lunch together at the new Harbor Cafe in Moss Point. Harry and Ann Lane were with us, and we were thankful Harry said, ‘give me the bill’!  We enjoyed re-living the memories of the various ways that Southern Hills offered their support in the earlier months of the relief effort. They remain interested, and we are thankful. I was able to record the message this morning called, ‘Three Christmas Gifts for God’ from Micah 6. Perhaps by the time you read this it will be uploaded HERE.

We are in those last few weeks of the year that tend to pass by in a swift flurry of activity for many people. Shopping, parties, cookies, decorating, travels, family gatherings will dominate our days until we go to bed one night soon and notice that we are in a new year. So, this week, try not to let the days escape without some purposeful opportunity of service. I’d love to hear what you come up with.

 And while you’re buying gifts and you’re looking for that one unique present that’s going to set you apart, please pass up the Your Best Life Now – The Game. Lest you think this is some kind of joke or urban legend, check out snopes.com all you want, it’s real! It is available at Target.com. I know some of you will think you’ll make a good impression with this new offering, but I promise you will never be invited to that party again. Unless you’re doing gag gifts. What happens if you lose? You get a crummy life? The worst thing that could happen is the astounded recipient might break out the game and force you to play it. I’m sorry if you are a Joel Osteen fan and are offended by this little humor …. but … you gotta admit this is Christian marketing gone nuts. Hey, he preaches for one of the largest congregations in the USA, he can take a little fun at his expense!

***Links***

I really liked Bobby Cohoon’s writing about the gifts of the Magi. I shared this with my Bible class this morning.

Thanks to Nick for pointing me to Lee Hodge’s heart-touching series on Professor Jack.

First Post.

Second Post.

Third Post.

 Thanks for reading!

Easier To Be Unaware

I think it’s called ‘blissful ignorance’ … that state in which we purposefully decide not to see something that is glaringly obvious. I suppose we all suffer from this in one way or another. Not being able to solve the world’s ills, we often just ‘do not know about them’. Occasionally something will be brought to our attention either by a friend who becomes interested in a cause, or by the appearance of a starving child on a television commercial, or perhaps by a hurricane that destroys a community. And even those things do not always open our eyes.

But if we meet people in our community and listen to their stories, we will become aware of the needs all around us. It can overwhelming as we consider our ability to help….or inability. It’s easier to be unaware, and I understand why most Christians turn their face away from the needy. And sometimes use the Bible to discredit those who are serving the needy – in such a way that they do not have to participate. Is that too broad of a statement? Is it too big of an indictment? I think it’s a big challenge for us if we choose to consider it.

For example, I was taught that it was a sin to place money in the Salvation Army bucket at the grocery store. This has always been a conflict in my heart. True enough, I do not believe some of the thing taught by the Salvation Army church. But I think if we took a good look, I agree with far more than I disagree. Still, I was told that if I gave to that bell ringer, that I was supporting a false religion and that was a sin. But the conflict in my heart was that the SA is housing and feeding needy people … and we weren’t. If anything we were sending funds somewhere else to take care of children in a home far away where we never even saw a face or knew a circumstance. The children in our own community did not receive any blessing from us. I’m preaching from Micah 6:6-8 this Sunday, and it is challenging me. We are to love mercy. How many times have I instructed someone to seek shelter at the SA, and at the same time believed it was wrong to give to the SA.  Several years ago I gave up this line of thinking and decided that it was more merciful to help someone else do something that I was unable / unwilling to do, than it was to sit upon my perch and decry their religion.

But this post is not about tossing quarters in a red bucket … it is about our becoming aware of the needs that are all around us … and doing more than turning away from them. After visiting a man yesterday in a nursing home that falls far short of the level of service it charges for, I was reminded both of my blessings and the needs of others. There are things we simply cannot change. But is there a person for whom we could lighten the load…just one person?

Yesterday I met a terrified lady. I really cannot go into all the details, but let me tell you a little. She is younger than 30, with two small children, and her husband was killed four months ago. The home she was living in had a violent person in it, and her children had to be protected, so she moved out. The place she moved to, is insecure. The door doesn’t lock. And this week a crack addict lady moved in, along with her pimp. I really cannot describe to you the look in this lady’s eyes yesterday as she explained to me the situation and her desire to protect her children. What could she do? She couldn’t call the police. So I offered her shelter in our church building, but she contrived another plan and perhaps it worked. I hope I’ll talk to her again today to see. She has an apartment secured for Wednesday…so if she can just survive until then. But her rent will be such that she will struggle to make it. I told her I would help her with Christmas for her children … something that was on her mind.

It’s easier to be unaware. I also wonder how many people like this are all around us, but we never know it. I’m sure that the people I’ve met have made bad decisions in their lives that have placed them in precarious situations. And I think that’s why God calls us to mercy, and does not instruct us to only give what people deserve. I am certain that I do not want to receive what I deserve. So … what are going to do about it? Larry James asks the same question as he presents some sobering facts about poverty in America.

***Links***

 John Alan Turner tells us how we can have peace in our homes…and in the world.

Chris Lockhart also contemplates peace.

Phil Sanders comments on the status of Churches of Christ.

Norman Bales has some thoughts about unity.

Seth Simmons encourages us not to choke!

Update on blogger friend Preacherman.

Blogger who worked with James Kim remembers him in recent post.

Thanks for reading! Have a super weekend!

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Thursday Morning on the Coast

The temperature rose yesterday to a comfortable level, but we are under a freeze warning again tonight. Truthfully, it seems to me that we have had cooler weather earlier this year than usual. Maybe that’s just an impression.

I was sorry to read that James Kim was found dead yesterday. I was hoping that somehow he had managed to stay alive. I tried to consider what I would have done if I was with my wife and children returning home from a vacation, broken down on a snowy road in the middle of nowhere, out of gas, having burned my tires for warmth. Desperation drives us to action. James set out to try to find help, intending to return. He never did. Fortunately, his family was rescued. They will be plagued with “what if” for the rest of their lives, I would think. What if James had just stayed in the car. What if they had never taken that wrong turn. What if it had not been snowing so hard that day. What if we had decided to take our vacation later in the year. We never know what events we set in motion when we make even simple decisions. We can let that paralyze us, or we can launch out in faith. I pray that the Kim family will receive some comfort, and that God will send some Christians to their side to encourage them in the way of the Lord.

Dusty Rush makes an important point today in his post, God Repair My Heart. Focusing on the needs of others is key to our discipleship. That doesn’t mean that we ignore biblical truth. Caring for others is fueled by biblical truth. It’s kind of hard to think you are contending for the faith when you are treating another human being like a dog. It is hard to think that our main focus is on our brothers and sisters in Adam when we find such nitpicky ways to tear them apart when we disagree with their theology. Respect demands that we have conversations with those we wnat to engage. It is sin to just destroy them without even an attempt to understand them. And while we’re focused on setting everyone straight on the nuances of religious practice, why do we not see the hungry person in the street … the family left-behind after a suicide takes place … the forgotten children who suffer while parents bludgeon each other in a divorce … and on we could go. People matter more than religious correctness. Someone more authoriatative then I said ‘Mercy triumphs over judgment’. I think we have to be concerned both with truth and care for others. But “truth” that leads us to clack swords at each other while ignoring the helpless around us is only evidence of our disobedience. Thanks, Dusty. This deserves much more attention.

All Christian workers should read Jim Martin’s post today entitled, “This Isn’t Fun Anymore.” If you haven’t read The Ragamuffin Gospel, tell me what you’re waiting for? Start it today. 

***Links***

Remembering Pearl Harbor.

National Geographic Remembers Pearl Harbor.

The suburban poor outnumbered their inner city counterparts for the first time this year.

The explosion in Milwaukee was not far from Bobby Valentine’s house.

Blogs bring friends together again!

Don’t mess with Mary Gean Smyth!

What do you do when you have gas in flight?

Dee Andrews outlines things only Southerners know.

I found the following video reading Larry James’ blog. It highlights a problem the church just cannot bring itself to address.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-vs9l0ElQA]

Thanks for reading.