July 31, 2009

About The Photo

I suppose I am taking more notice of honeybees these days. The news stories of their demise and my youngest son's interest in them as a hobby has put them solidly on my radar. So you can imagine my intrigue in watching this little fellow doing his best to get a drink of water from my water bottle in the midst of the Great Smoky Mountains.

My fellow trekkers and I had just arrived at our campsite after descending from one of the high points in the park. Ten-plus miles of walking downhill will take its toll on one's knees and toes. So a soak in the nearby creek and a welcome sit down gave us a few moments to take in the beauty of our surroundings.

Among those beautiful things that caught my eye were these honeybees. It was wonderful to see them busy in and around our campsite. I found myself imagining a black bear finding the hive and enjoying a snack. I wondered where these little guys (and their queenly gal) made their home. Perhaps some ancient hollow tree, or maybe a sheltered cliff-side crack? I would not know on this trip. I was just glad these guys were doing their job. The wildflowers on display were a marvelous testament to their labors.

Here are a couple of other memorable photos from that trip. I hope you enjoy!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

July 22, 2009

Now THAT'S What I'm Talking About, - Again!

Vectorized Southern Baptist Convention logo, d...Image via Wikipedia

"Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:15-16

My copy of The Alabama Baptist (you can read the article on line next week...) came today and there on the front page was the story of hundreds of students paying for the opportunity to go and serve someone else in the name of Christ. Now there's a concept for you, paying for the privilege of serving someone else. When's the last time you heard of that happening? World Changers is an outstanding example of selfless service and effective partnership between local government and the body of Christ. M-Fuge is another excellent example of meeting people at their point of need.

These are just a couple of ways Southern Baptists are seeking to change the conversation about what it means to be a follower of Christ. There is the dynamic work being done by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief crews who are often the first on the scene following a disaster. The World Hunger Fund is unique in that EVERY dollar given goes directly to relief efforts all over the world (unlike many other relief agencies which take a significant portion of contributions for staffing, publicity, logistics, etc.). Then there are the countless points of ministry which will never be in a news article or the subject of an acclaimed documentary. Simply God's people doing God's work in God's way.

Invariably when such things are being done the question is asked, "Why?" And when that question is asked God's people are ready with the answer, "The love of Christ compels me." (2 Corinthians 5:14) And sometime those asking "Why?" will want to know more about this love of Christ and God's people are ready to tell them about it.

As Jesus reminded his friends, "Even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45). Keep following the leader church. Keep following the leader.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

July 21, 2009

Now THAT'S What I'm Talkin' About!

Really?!?! A well-known Bible thumper working side by side with an openly gay mayor? Can they possibly have anything in common? In a word, yes. With their differences clearly on display for all to see, Evangelist Luis Palau and Mayor Sam Adams stood together at the front of Portland, Oregon's Hinson Baptist Church to kick off the second annual Season of Service.

What's a bible-believing, soul-winning, on fire for

Pierre Montallier: The Works of Mercy, c.Image via Wikipedia

Jesus evangelist doing standing next to an openly homosexual, politically liberal mayor? The very thing, I believe we might find Jesus doing. Jesus was repeatedly taken to task for "hanging out with the wrong crowd" to which he responded, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous but sinners." (Matthew 9:12-13)

Somehow this evangelist and this mayor recognized that "the least of these" in their city needed help and that opportunity was not a liberal or conservative issue. That need was not somebody else's job. That need was something that all people should address - maybe most of all the believers among us.

Tom Krattenmaker's article in USA Today lays out the dynamics of this dynamic partnership (perhaps the way church and state should be relating...) and signals the growing cultural awareness brought on by the unavoidable acts of mercy being committed by Christians. He states, "the evangelical church may be losing its temporal power but winning something more important: its soul."

He might just be right.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

July 16, 2009

"Here Come the Christians!"

Our church family experienced a wonderful day of worship Sunday as our students shared their stories from M-Fuge this year. Their trip to Charleston, S.C. to share the love of Christ had a transforming effect on Charleston as they left the evidence of their passing in the lives of children, the elderly, the handicapped, at soup kitchens, abuse shelters, and on freshly painted houses. Perhaps more transforming was the impact of serving others in the name of Christ. Those who went returned significantly changed.

One shared comment caught my attention and fired my imagination. Angie worked all week with children in a difficult neighborhood and she shared that as they pulled up on the last day she could hear one of the girls yelling "Here come the Christians!" (I wish I could give you the vocal inflection here - just know that it was ethnic, joyful, and sincere.)

I thought to myself, "If only that could be the world's reaction to the arrival of Christians."

It seems that the world is less than excited to see Christians coming.

SignsImage by NatalieMaynor via Flickr

According to research done by the Barna group, and published in a book titled UnChristian, growing numbers of people born after 1965 describe Christians with words like...
  • hypocritical
  • pushy
  • anti-homsexual
  • sheltered
  • too political
  • judgemental
too rattle off a few. One fellow from Mississippi stated, "Christianity has become bloated with blind followers who would rather repeat slogans than actually feel true compassion and care. Christianity has become marketed and streamlined into a juggernaut of fearmongering that has lost its own heart." (p. 15, UnChristian, Dave Kinnamen)


It doesn't sound like there are many voices like that little girl's in Charleston, S.C. shouting with delight that the Christians have arrived.

I am grateful that our students and adults had the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ. I pray that all who claim to follow Him will take note that He came with a hand stretched out in love and not a fist clenched in anger (except for those who were supposed to be rightly related to God - another post for another day). And even His lovingly outstretched hand ultimately got a nail driven through it for His trouble. To which He replied, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Beloved, we have lessons to learn.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

July 15, 2009

As We Forgive

Could you forgive the person who murdered your family? This incredibly powerful and difficult question is addressed in the film "as we forgive" airing on PBS stations tonight. I have not seen the film but became acquainted with the project about 4 months ago after reading the book by the same name. I am astounded by the depth of forgiveness exhibited by victims of the genocide in Rawanda in the early 1990's. I am shamed by my own petty un-forgiveness.

If you have a PBS station on your T.V. set check the listing. I assure you the stories told here will be well worth your while. You can find more information about the film at as we forgive.

I will be posting more on the issue of forgiveness soon.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

July 14, 2009

Some Recent Deaths NOT in the News

I don't ordinarily post e-mail "junk" but this one struck a particular chord with me. As I stated in an earlier post, I have had enough tabloid news. I certainly feel for the Jackson, Fawcett, McNair and Mays families but considering we've heard next to nothing about the deaths mentioned below I felt I could at least do my part to mention them. Thank you to the real "icons" of the very best of America!

"With no disrespect intended to the Jackson family, we should remember that others have also died this month, whose lives are every bit as significant as Michael Jackson.
Others whose lives were cut short and who leave behind loved ones and whose families will dearly
miss them; families who will suffer silently with no TV fanfare and with much more dignity and honor.

These American military members died in Iraq this month:

Sergeant Justin J. Duffy
Specialist Christopher M. Kurth
Specialist Charles D. Parrish
Lance Corporal Robert D. Ulmer
Staff Sergeant Edmond L. Lo
Sergeant Joshua W. Soto
Captain Kafele H. Sims

Specialist Chancellor A. Keesling

ARLINGTON, VA - FEBRUARY 17:  A bugler plays &...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

And these members of our U.S.
Armed Forces died in Afghanistan this month:
Sergeant Jones, Ricky D.
Specialist Munguia Rivas, Rodrigo A.
Command Master Chief Petty Officer Garber, Jeffrey J.
1st Sergeant Blair, John D.
Sergeant Smith, Paul G.
Staff Sergeant Melton, Joshua
Sergeant 1st Class Dupont, Kevin A.
Specialist O'Neill, Jonathan C.
Chief Warrant Officer Richardson Jr., Ricky L.
Specialist Silva, Eduardo S.
Lance Corporal Whittle, Joshua R.
Major Barnes, Rocco M.
Major Jenrette, Kevin M.
Staff Sergeant Beale, John C.
Specialist Jordan, Jeffrey W.
Specialist Griemel, Jarrett P.
Specialist Hernandez I, Roberto A.
Sergeant Obakrairur, Jasper K.
Staff Sergeant Hall, Jeffrey A.
Private 1st Class Ogden, Matthew D.
Private 1st Class Wilson, Matthew W.

Let's remember and honor this day those whose deaths are truly impacting our Freedom and Liberty."
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

July 10, 2009

And Such Is His Power

Force Without Wisdom Falls Of Its Own WeightImage by stage88 via Flickr

"And finally, who is he? All that we know is the sound of his voice and maybe the lightest touch of his hands on our shoulders. He is the one we are free to follow or not to follow, the one we begin to know fully only by following. As we follow, we become, such as we are, his church, which is to say his body - a weak thing in most ways, half-hearted and of little faith, but full of hope for all that - and the only body that he has in this world, the only hands and feet to do his work. And such is his power that even through us others may be led to follow too."

Fredrick Buechner, "Follow Me" in The Magnificent Defeat (emphasis added)

July 5, 2009

An Open Letter to T.S. Spivet, Cartographer

My Dear Master Spivet (May I call you T.S.?),

I simply wanted to thank you for a most memorable journey. It seems that your journey is our journey too; all of ours. On the way from "here" to "there" passing through terra incognita, can be and often is, a frightful journey.

You were a most delightful traveling companion. Your attention to detail is remarkable for one so young. It re-awakened in me a similar attentiveness. For instance, I walked past a wooden gate that was two different colors - not from paint, mind you, but from the effect of the sprinkler system hitting the lower half of the gate causing a variant pattern of weathering. Also, the upper hinge was sound while the lower hinge, subjected to the repeated dousings of the sprinkler was full of rust and in need of replacement. Scoffers are even now scoffing at such minutiae. After all, what difference does it make in the world of appointments and schedules and bills and, and , and, (and always another "and.") Not much really, save this; with eyes open again to wonder the world is no longer a passing blur of sound and light. Indeed T.S., there is meaning in it all, if only we could remember.

Some of the folks you met along the way were pretty unsavory. I didn't care for the language Ricky used. The homeless man in Chicago saddened and angered me. Jibsen was a opportunistic jerk, and the railroad bull could have been a bit more genteel with a 12 year old. But when it's all said and done I think you rightly described our lives. There are plenty of unsavory people and unsavory experiences along the way. They make reaching the destination that much sweeter don't they?

I loved your turn of phrase. So often startling in its simplicity and sometimes arresting in its incisive wisdom. Like, "Outside there was that predawn kind of clarity, whee the momentum of living has not quite captured the day." Exactly! Or, "To tell you the truth, I hardly every used pencils. Pencils are for wussies - for those who question the veracity of their stroke." Ha! I'm a pen user too! I often found myself mumbling some comment in response or chuckling at the marvelous wit or, best of all, rolling the words over and over my tongue again to get the full feel of them. I like a man who has a vocabulary and isn't afraid to use it. Although, at times, it mystified me - either from abject ignorance or my lack of experience (i.e. I've never read pg. 28 of The Godfather but you can be sure I will do so - soon!) You stretched my cerebral capacity while also stretching my heart.

I looked for Layton everywhere. Sometimes I couldn't find him. Was he missing or just well hidden or did you just forget him sometimes? It's like that isn't it? Everywhere and nowhere all at once. And then, completely unexpectedly present; painfully present in his absence. Especially when you carry around the heavy load of responsibility whether it belongs to you or not. Those we lose do weave themselves inexorably into all the maps of our lives.

And maps! I can spend hours with a map. It tells me so much and leaves so much untold. It tells me where and only rarely tells me who. But you take map making to a wh

A map of North America ca. 1566, one of the fi...Image via Wikipedia

ole new level! (Mapping the flight of a bat around your backyard - genius! I was left wondering why the bat took the path it did. I imagined a tasty bug here or an interesting echolocation there. Fascinating.) But still the maps don't tell us what we most need to know do they? That's the whole point isn't it? Finding the things not on the map. Maybe better, finding the one thing not on the map. I'm awfully glad you found that one thing, even though there's simply no way to categorize it and file it away.

T.S., I'm pretty sure I will travel again with you again soon. There was so much I missed along the way. Retracing those steps will be a pleasure with you along for the journey. Thanks again for a memorable journey.

Your traveling companion last week,


(This was my "brain candy" read for the family vacation. Was I in for a wonderful surprise! Larsen has written a wonderful work that spoke deeply and clearly to me. Not only is the book visually engaging with T.S.'s maps and charts but it is emotionally charged as well, not to mention the intelligent and well informed writing (you will learn a bit about everything from geography to hobo symbols.) Take some time and take the trip with T.S. It's a memorable journey. You can also visit the entertaining website that compliments the book at www.tsspivet.com.)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]