Monthly Archives: October 2011

Some Thoughts on the Reformation

“Do you know what the Devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the gospel? He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: ’Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit. I delight in it.’ But when he sees the Word running and contending alone on the battle-field, then he shudders and shakes for fear. The Word is almighty, and takes captive the hearts.” 

– Martin Luther –

Last night, we had a Reformation Day service at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Jackson.  It was a cool experience for a lot of reasons.  Trinity and Redeemer (my church) have a long history together, and it’s pretty awesome to see them continue to be fond of one another and staying connected.  A service like that, where two local bodies come together to worship and fellowship afterwards, is something I’ve never experienced before, but it’s a glimpse of what I think heaven is going to look like.  As our ruling elder Bryant Taylor said during his prayer, we were two distinct congregations yet one unified body.  It was a great night and one I hope to get to experience again soon.

Since the service was a celebration of the Reformation and all, Ken Pierce (the pastor at Trinity) shared some backstory.  Imagine you go to church every Sunday, but you don’t have a Bible (largely because you can’t even read), the church’s Bible is chained to the front of the church and written in a different language, and the services are presented in a different language.  You, as a churchgoer, are not trusted to hear the Word of God in a language you’re familiar with because you aren’t thought of as able to interpret and understand it.

Not only that, but the message being preached and proclaimed was one of works righteousness.  Say penance, buy indulgences, go to confession, etc. (aka live a righteous life), and you’re in.  Don’t do those things, and you’re not in.

Then God called Martin Luther to change the world, based on the message from Romans 10:5-13:

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

So, while I am very excited about Halloween and celebrating it with some great friends at a super fun party, today is a day for thankfulness for a lot of things.  I’m thankful for a tradition that seeks to stay close to the heart of the Reformation, continuing to preach the gospel of grace that Paul talks about here in Romans 10.  I’m thankful for a tradition that values the Word of God as its life and authority.  And I’m thankful for a church that is truly committed to reaching our community with the gospel (and I’m praying that God will continue to move me beyond the “this is a great idea” phase of everything to the “I’m ready to actively engage this, le’s do it” phase).

And, above all, I am thankful that I have been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  I’m thankful that God has given us His Word to read, study, and preach.

Soli Deo Gloria!

(and Happy Halloween too!)



Some Quick Thoughts…

Wow, these last few days have been crazy. I’ve been thinking about so much the last few days, I thought I’d try to write a few things down. Here goes.

– Is there a better place stories are told than sports? I really don’t know if there is. Thinking back to the playoffs in the NFL and NBA last season and then the World Series this year…it’s incredible. Each of those had such interesting storylines (and interesting champions) it’s hard to go back and recount them all. I’m not a baseball fan, but I found myself glued to the TV for Game 6 and kept up with Game 7 the whole time. Just one example – David Freese, the hometown kid gets to grow up and fulfill his life long dream of playing for the Cardinals in the World Series. Only problem – he makes an error that could wind up costing them the game. Then what happens? Facing their last out TWICE, the team rallies, and Freese hits a walk-off home run to force (and win) Game 7. (And by the way – as much as I love college sports and a single elimination formatted tournament, there isn’t anything better than an NBA or MLB Game 7. There just isn’t.) It’s incredible. Also, I saw Moneyball – again, great story as it pertains to sports.

– Amendment 26. Where to begin? I don’t want this to be political or anything, but when I first heard about this amendment, I liked it. The more I’ve read up on it, though, the more it worries me. I am a pro-lifer (anti-abortion), but this amendment is so vague about what it is and what it does that it’s hard to get behind it. I’m sure this is going to be the kind of thing that if it gets voted in, it’s going to get struck down by a court somewhere eventually, and if it doesn’t get voted in, we’ll all hear our favorite Southern Baptist pastors bemoaning the continuing moral degradation of America.

What’s sad to me through this whole thing is that it seems like we’ll focus on abortion so hard during election season, then the other three years not say a word about it. There are ways to combat abortion that are more effective than passing something into law. One such way is the gospel. Are we preaching it? Are we living it out? When we politicize these issues so much it becomes easy to forget there are real women dealing with these choices. There are real people who, for whatever reason, are pursuing abortion as a viable option (even when it isn’t on the ballot) and it seems like we don’t believe it (or care about it). Instead of just trying to get some law passed, why aren’t we doing more to engage it in the real world?

-Finally, this Greek exegesis paper is the hardest thing ever. So ready to be done.

That is all.


The Avett Brothers…finally…

Spring 2009 – friend of mine introduced me to the Avett Brothers.  We were riding in her car and had the top town, and she started playing the album Emotionalism.  I was immediately hooked and listened to the album on repeat.  I was admittedly behind the times, but I was hooked.

Fall 2009 – I had the pleasure of seeing them in concert for the first time.  It was at the Lyric in Oxford, and it was the Tuesday before Ole Miss would get embarrassed by South Carolina on national TV.  It was a great show, though Scott was sick and Oxford crowds are typically terrible (bad energy, horrible concert etiquette, and a lot of times people just don’t go) but it was a great time.  Right after that show, they got “big.”  A lot of people get mad when their favorite band blows up, but I think that’s ridiculous.  I want everyone to hear their music.

Between the first time I saw them and October 14, 2011, I had bought tickets to THREE Avett Brothers shows and had to miss them for various reasons, and the show Friday wasn’t looking like it was going to happen until 2 weeks ago when my friend Austin called and said he was off work that weekend and asked if I wanted to go, so I made the drive from Jackson to Dallas.  Man, was it worth it…

The opening band was The David Mayfield Parade, and they were incredible.  Very good energy and it didn’t hurt that the bassist a. played the stand up bass and b. was absolutely gorgeous.  I bought their self-titled album on iTunes.  It’s very well worth it, but especially the songs “I Just Might Pray” and “I Have Been Known to be Wrong From Time to Time But I’m Afraid I’m Right.”  They just had an incredible energy about them and David Mayfield himself was hilarious.

Then came the Avett Brothers.  They opened with “The Once and Future Carpenter,” which is a currently unreleased song but it’s relatively new, so hopefully it will be on the new album, whenever it happens.  It’s the song that contains the line at the top of this blog, “if I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.”  Anyway, they played almost all of my favorite songs – “Carpenter”, “Shame”, “Go To Sleep”, “Down With the Shine”, and “In The Curve” (which was especially surprising because it’s a fairly rare song I think), among many others.  They played for a while, which was great.  The crowd energy was phenomenal, and it felt nice to be at a show where I felt like the people around me didn’t think the band was rude for trying to play over their phone conversation.

The coolest moment by far, though, was close to the end.  They brought out a different kind of mic and Seth and Scott stood around it and unplugged their guitar and banjo and sang “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” and “Ten Thousand Words.”  It somehow made the huge crowd seem very intimate and very, very special when, at the end of “Ten Thousand Words,” they stepped away from the mic and let the crowd sing the chorus a few times.  It was unbelievable and very surreal.

The Avett Brothers have been my favorite band since I was introduced to them, and Friday night did nothing but bolster that view.  I’ve seen some good shows lately, but this one by far blew it away.  They left out a few songs I wanted to hear, but I’m sure they had to save some for Saturday night because they played at the same place the next night.

It was an incredible night all around.


Tagged ,

Blast from the past…

This is something I wrote a while back…Actually almost 4 years ago to the day.  It’s from an October 14, 2007 entry on another blog I wrote.


You feel like you’re standing still
And the world’s just moving all around you
Friends, family, everyone else
Are progressing and you feel left behind
And the church tells you to get up and move
But you just don’t know where to go
And you’re frustrated that you haven’t heard the call
In the thunder or the earthquake
Or the howling winds
And none of it makes sense


So you fill up your time with ministries
And services and religion and church
Because as we all know
God helps those who help themselves
And you talk about Jesus and God and the Spirit
In your fifteenth small group of the week
And seek advice from pastors and campus ministers
Or foreign missionaries or anyone else who might listen
And you somehow have forgotten
That he invites you to find out for yourself


And once you’ve reached the end of your rope
You’re tired and broken with nowhere to go
You collapse in your bed as the tears start to flow
You’ve taken religion as far as it will go
And if you don’t find something real then
The last 22 years were completely pointless
You cry out and ask God just where the hell he’s been
And in this moment of total desperation it comes
A whisper so faint but so unmistakable
“Be still and know I’m here”


“Be still?” you ask…that can’t be right…
You find religion every single day
But in the back of your mind you know
It’s true because it’s religion that’s gotten you here
In the first place…Besides it’s time you started
Asking the questions you’re told not to ask
Or maybe were just too scared to because you might
Actually get an answer. And it might not be the one
You want, like who to vote for or how you should think
But you might actually get called to do something crazy


But, see, it’s in this moment you feel again
And you realize that maybe God doesn’t fit into
Your neat Baptist or Presbyterian or Methodist mold
And no one knows you’re a Christian by your programs
Or even those 14 chapters of the Bible you memorized
But it’s by love and love alone…and suddenly you realize
That’s what’s not there…you realize that it’s OK
To not have to look OK all the time and it’s even OK
To be burned out on church or programs and in those times
That voice…that unmistakable voice just calls your name
And says “be still”

One of those nights, I guess…

I need to go to sleep, but this is one of those nights I’m too frustrated to sleep, and I can’t figure out why.

It’s just one of those nights though.  It’s one of those nights I can’t tell if I’m just tired, bored, bummed out, content, or what.    Watching TV isn’t interesting, reading doesn’t cut it, NCAA 2012 feels kinda boring, and even playing guitar can’t keep me interested.  So, in light of that, I figured I’d try to write a little something.  I haven’t done this in a while, since September 11 actually, which makes it exactly a month.  Didn’t put that together until just now.

Anyway, when I started writing a blog (about nothing in particular) I labeled myself a wayward son, because at that time it definitely fit.  I should’ve graduated from college and moved to Seattle, but due to my own laziness, I didn’t.  I had no idea what was going to happen, what I was going to do, where I was going to end up.

That was 3 years ago.

When I look back, I think about how things haven’t changed at all.  I mean, I still have nights like this, where I don’t know what in the world is wrong with me, and I’m still not sure where my life is going.  But then I realize everything has changed.  My life doesn’t look anything like it did 3 years ago.  I mean, I have a job, I’m in seminary, I have some kind of idea where I’m going with my life, I’m in a church I love dearly (for the first time in my life…that’s an incredible feeling), and I have an amazing group of friends that I legitimately feel like is a community for the first time in a long, long time.  Maybe since 2007.  I don’t like to say things like “I’m happy” or “I’m not happy” because those are so subjective and can change with the drop of a hat, but I definitely can’t complain about much.  I mean, yeah, sometimes things still suck, but such is life.  It’s never perfect.

But I feel like I’ve found my way home.

I spent so long feeling so sure that my goal in life, my purpose, my…whatever…was going to be fulfilled somewhere far, far away from Jackson.  There was a point where the very thought of coming back here long term would have made my skin crawl.  Even when I finally decided to come back, I was pretty sure I was only going to be here for a little while before I moved on to something else.  This time last year, I interviewed for a job in Dallas.  So it’s a little weird for me to come home and think…”man, I hope I get to stick around for a while.”

So…where does the frustration play into all this?  I really have no idea.  I know I have a few tendencies to do stupid things, and one of those tendencies is to completely ignore everything good going on around me and focus on one or two negatives.  Life is moving forward, in very positive directions, but not fast enough in certain areas.  I tend to look at those things and get frustrated with myself that I’m not doing a better job of making those things happen, and I think when I do that I’m totally ignoring what God may be trying to do in those situations.

THEN I thought…maybe God isn’t trying to do anything in those situations.  I mean, of course he’s doing something.  He always is (that’s why I hate it when people say stuff like “MAN I HOPE GOD SHOWS UP AND DOES SOMETHING HERE TONIGHT!” – He’s God.  He’s not lazy and He’s always up to something.  Asking God to “show up and show out” is an insult to Him when He’s not “showing out” by whatever arbitrary “showing out” standards you’ve made up.  God could literally do NOTHING and be worth every ounce of worship we give Him simply because of His greatness).  Maybe He’s just telling me His is a better way.  And you’d think I’d have learned that by now.  I mean, who’s to say that I wouldn’t be a scared southern kid, practically all alone in the Pacific Northwest right now?  I idealize these “missed” opportunities and completely wash over the possible negatives in all of it.

There are several Bible verses that come to mind.  I know the plans, all things work together, etc.  It’s just the fact that I have such a hard time believing them from time to time.  Or, maybe most of the time.

All of this to say…I’m a part of something.  I feel like, for the first time, I want to put roots down somewhere – my own roots, not just those that already existed via family ties and whatnot.  I don’t know if it’s going to work out that way or not, but I hope it does.

And it’s funny how writing always seems to be cathartic.  I’m going to sleep now.