Tag Archives: Church

In the Spirit of Thankfulness part 1

All these posts going every day on Facebook got me a bit in the thankful mood…but there was no way I was going to keep up with that. So, I offer, here in its entirety, my 30 days of thankfulness! So, I’m thankful for…

30 life! I don’t know that I’ve ever taken it for granted, but the recent scare made me consider it all the more.

29 my wife! (and just for all you snarky folks looking at the numbers—it isn’t a countdown or a count UP, it’s supposed to represent the 30 days of November!) She’s better to me than I deserve! I love you, BJ!

28 my job. In this messed up economy which only looks to get worse, I’m glad to be doing something I enjoy: teaching creative writing to (mostly) pretty motivated students.

27 my daughter. Even though I’ve tried to convince her to stay OUT of the arts because it’s the pathway to a lot of potential heartbreak, she’s multi-talented and incredibly smart, too…if she’ll just apply herself I have no doubt she’ll be incredibly successful(on both counts!).

26 having a roof over my head. Even though I’d really like to sell my house in Oxford so that I can get my family all back under one roof all the time, I know we’re fortunate to have a home with electricity and running water.

25 my son. Also incredibly talented (can you say FIRST CHAIR bay-bee!) and smart, I appreciate the fact that he’s just as happy geeking out with me playing war games as he is doing anything else.

24 my doctor. When we first moved to Oxford, Dr. Will Dabbs was just the kooky doctor we took the kids to see. Over time, however, he’s become my doctor and my friend…and I DO trust him with my life!

23 facebook. Yeah, yeah, I know. I can hear all the groans now. But I’m of the age that I can remember life before social media and there are a lot of names on my facebook “friend list” that I didn’t speak with that much and that now I get to at least keep up with them now and again. For writer-types who dwell in caves, it’s nice. And even though I hid EVERYONE during the last election season—that’s over and I can now enjoy posts again.

22 technology. I’m a technogeek, I admit it. I love technology. And even though I’ve fought (and still do) the idea of me carrying around a cellphone, I LIKE what they are capable of…I just don’t want to have to carry it around.

21 my parents. I’m blessed to have the best set of parents in the world. How they managed to allow me to continue to live in their house when I was a smart-aleck teenager, I’ll never know. I’m thankful for the way they raised me and for the values they taught me.

20 my church. When you move around as much as BJ and I have, it’s difficult to get “settled” with a church family. We’ve been fortunate, though, in that every place to which our names have been on the roles, they’ve welcomed us with open arms: FBC Muscle Shoals, FBC Loretto, FBC Piggott, Yellow Leaf BC, and FBC Oxford.

19 my books. Yeah, I know this sounds like a very materialistic thing…and maybe it is, but I’m still thankful for them (and for BJ allowing me to surround myself with them). Maybe it’s a writer thing, but I do love to—when I’m in “thinking” mode—to just sit back and take in the surroundings of my books, looking at the titles and recalling the emotions of the read or the particulars of it.

18 BCW. Or Byhalia Christian Writers Group. I was shocked by the lack of anything remotely faith-based in Oxford (aside from the Churches, of course) and really expected to find multiple writers group in Oxford…I mean, it’s OXFORD, the home of Billy Faulkner. Byhalia, Mississippi was the closest group I could find…and they treated me like a long lost brother. I don’t get to go as often as I’d like (for various reasons—one of which it’s an hour drive one way), but I know they remember me in their prayers—and how can one NOT be thankful for that?

17 my bed. Traveling makes you realize just how much you appreciate “your” stuff. And while BJ made me buy a mattress for the apartment in Florida, it’s still not “my bed.” And being a reenactor, I sleep on the ground every now and again. Yes, I’m very thankful for my bed.

16 Spalding. Yeah, one of my alma maters makes this list. It’s not that I am NOT thankful for the others—I am—but Spalding has that special place in my heart, mostly because, I think, the admin and faculty there have embraced the idea of nurturing the writer. It’s the first “hall of higher learning” that did NOT scoff at the body of comic work I have.

15 Spalding peeps. So, yeah, I can’t mention Spalding without mentioning my classmates/colleagues who helped make the program what it is…and ALSO embraced my comic geekiness, some of them even sharing that. There are lots of names I could mention, but the Devil Dawgs (don’t ask—long story) are deserving of special call-out for my thankfulness: Marjetta Geerling, Kat Shehata, Karin Goodwin, Rebekah J Harris, Mary Knight (one of my favorite Yankees!).

(so this is longer than what I thought it would be…to be continued)

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Filed under General

No Bibles in churches?

One advantage to visiting around Churches so much is that we get to see a wide variety of good preaching and good choirs…and of course, some not quite as good. BJ and I also look for good Sunday School classes, or small groups, or whatever you want to call them. One of the things I’ve noticed, and I’m not sure if it is just Southern Baptists doing this or other denominations do as well, but many Southern Baptist Sunday School classes don’t even break out a Bible!

Let me explain…

I like to find Sunday School classes with folks that aren’t afraid to speak up and talk about the material they (hopefully) studied. I do not enjoy sitting through a small group “sermon.” I’m prepared to listen to the Pastor’s sermon, but I want the small group to participate, to actually try to figure out how to apply lessons to our own lives.

But I digress…

Most SBC Sunday Schools now use published educational material. Or, I should say most of the ones we’ve been to the last 10 years, including those in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. This material, generally a study through one book or two from the Bible, contains the verses, explanations of the scripture and why it’s relevant to us today…and then some questions for us to ponder upon finishing. There’s no “reason” to pick up your Bible at all because it’s all right there…in the handy little study guide.

I find it odd that a denomination that preaches so much on the inerrancy of the scripture and the ideas that believers must “stand” on the word and all that stuff has—or is in the process of—doing away with the very thing they’re standing on. Okay, it’s not that they’re really “doing away” with it, but why on earth would they continue to encourage it’s non-use via members? Why would churches continue to use material that allows members to keep their Bibles closed?

I think maybe it’s because Church members have become lazy in their use of the Bible and Bible study. What’s happened is that Lifeway, the Southern Baptist Convention’s version of Barnes and Noble, is producing “education material” for the mass of Baptist churches and the Baptist churches are gobbling it up. If you’ve never seen the Lifeway material, I’m not suggesting it is bad, but I am suggesting it is making believers lazy. Lifeway Sunday School material prints the scripture verses for the lesson in both KJV (for the old folks in the SBC: “Hey, if the KJV was good enough for St. Paul, it’s good enough for me!”) and in the Holman Standard, or the Lifeway owned Bible.

And don’t think I’m picking on Lifeway, most of the material out there is doing it—Lifeway is just the most popularly purchased. Lifeway, like any other material, has some good stuff and some bad stuff.

But my whole point is that I think Churches should be using material that encourages members to actually open their Bible and not just the study book. Who knows, they might get interested in the chapter they’re reading and actually read a little more!

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Filed under Columns

The Church of Me!

This will probably be one of the most controversial things I’ve written about. I’ve talked here before about moving and moving experiences and things that are associated with moving. This entry is no different. And before you go accusing me, I’m not trying to start a religious debate – I won’t even mention theology or anything. I’m just talking about concerns of moving. Plus, I think this idea works for any denomination, regardless of your flavor.

My wife and I consider ourselves fairly conservative folks (I’ve even been accused of being ultra-conservative). We do our best to live consistently that way and to instill those beliefs in our kids. We don’t always achieve those goals, but we strive for them.

I touched on this aspect of moving briefly, but as we still have not found a church home in Oxford, I’ve got a few new thoughts! Big surprise, huh? Seeking a new church shouldn’t be like buying a car, a house, a tie or shoes, at least not for someone who calls themselves “Christian.”

But I’ve found that some people have the attitude that when a church quits serving their needs, they just move on to the next church like trading in a new car or moving to the next spot on the salad bar. I’ve even run across a few who “church hop” (probably a close relative to “bar hopping,” but I won’t go there). That attitude is also common in many who are seeking new churches when they move. That attitude seems to be what can the church do for me. We’ve become a generation who prefer the church of me. Speaking of, you must watch this video!

Instead of looking for a church that is going to serve our every need and whim like a Burger King drive through,, we should be looking for a church that we feel most accurately interprets the Bible and (this is a biggie) is populated with people who do their very best to live out those beliefs. We want to be around folks to believe as we do and act on those beliefs.

I’ve met a lot of people through our course of moving who give lip service to being a “Christian,” but do very little to actually show they are one. Our kids have met other kids in school who make them claim, and then they ask me why these very same kids let loose a string of curse words frequently. The only answer I can give them is the Bible tells us that Christians will be known by their fruit. I then tell my kids I’m Chinese. They laugh—well, they do now, they didn’t at first—but now they get what I mean that just because someone says they’re a certain way, doesn’t really mean much…it’s all in what they DO! What’s the old saying? “Actions speak louder than words.”

Also, what’s happened to the idea of service? The church body is supposed to be about service. We’ve been to churches that do not even do “visitation” at all anymore. I don’t get that. I’m gonna steal from a former president here and say we should not be asking what the church can do for us, but instead we should ask what we can do for our church.

But, I’ll end on a funny note—or by presenting you with a funny video. The one below was brought to my attention by our former youth pastor, Matthew Ferguson. It is hilarious!

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Filed under General, Moving