Archive for February, 2008

28
Feb
08

Conversing with a leading theologian

I had the privilege of spending two hours last Monday with one of the prominent theologians of the 21st century.  Two other pastors and I asked him a few months ago if he could spare us some time to discuss theology.  He graciously consented, and Monday was the big day.

During the discourse we learned much from this man.  He is a prolific writer, great thinker, brilliant man and obvious student of the Scripture.  He selected the doctrine of God as our topic for discussion.  He asked us to read a chapter he contributed on the subject for a recently published book on systematic theology.

As the conversation progressed I was curious about who influenced him most in his understanding of God.  I wanted to know what author, preacher or theologian taught him more about God than anyone else.  Surely there was a particular person who had influenced his understanding about God more than anyone else.  I wanted to know the person of greatest theological influence in his life and what he wrote so I could learn from that individual as well. 

His answer to my inquiry was a total surprise.

The theologian said, “Suffering has taught me more about God than anything else.”  Then he added, “The answer to your question has more to do with WHAT influenced me rather than WHO influenced me.”

Wow, what an answer.  Better yet, what a lesson.  That was not what any of us were expecting to hear.

I have been reading one theological book after another.  I am currently immersing myself in reading as much about God as I possibly can.  To hear a man of his acumen sight suffering as his great teacher was a humbling moment for me.

How do you view suffering? 

Do you look at suffering as a blessing or a curse? 

Do you think only sinful people suffer?  

Can someone who loves God, live for His glory, devote themselves to His faithful service suffer?

Do you believe God uses suffering in a Christian’s life to conform them more into the image of Christ?

I am still trying to absorb all that I heard that day.  Thankfully this humble man has opened his schedule to meet with us again later in the year to discuss another topic.  I am humbled by his graciousness.  Until then, I will continue to wrestle with his answer that suffering taught him more about God than anyone or anything else.

Perhaps the reason my knowledge of God is so limited is that I have suffered so little.  Ouch!

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26
Feb
08

The beauty of my daughter

There is a fine line I walk when it comes to acknowledging the accomplishments of my children.  I have an unwritten rule to keep every unnecessary spotlight from shining on Taylor and Kelsey.  My kids have never been ones to crave public attention any way.  Today I must make an exception to my unwritten rule, however. 

My baby girl was crowned the 10th Grade Beauty Queen in last weekend’s Miss Pinson Valley Pageant.  Her mother and I are so proud of her.  Even if she did not win or place, we would still brag about her.

Speaking of beauty, CrossPoint was well represented in the pageant, especially in the 10th grade.  Three of the top four queens (Kelsey, Haley & Anna) are CrossPointers.  The picture below proves my point. 

(from l to r-Maggie Calgill, Kelsey, Haley Bryan, Anna Smith)

There is so much I would like to say about my daughter.  She is a very special young lady.  Kelsey reminds me of her mother, so you see now why I think she is such a beauty. 

Kelsey’s screen saver summarizes her beauty better than I ever could:

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:10

Being a dad is good stuff.  Next to being married to Vonda, I consider being Taylor and Kelsey’s father one of my highest distinctions.

25
Feb
08

Robin Lother’s Statements of Faith

Robin Lother had an appointment with me last week.  Robin is married to Bill and she is also the mother of Trey and Chace.

Many of you will recall when CrossPoint prayed for Robin at the end the worship last November, before facing brain surgery the following week. The surgery revealed an inoperable cancerous tumor.  Robin met with me to express thanks for CrossPoint praying for her and her family during this challenging time.  Her friend, Renee Metcalf brought Robin to my office since she still has not been released from her doctor to drive an automobile.

Our conversation was heartfelt.  Her words were evocative.  She spoke with tremendous clarity.  Robin’s faith was exceedingly clear.

I asked Robin for permission to share parts of our conversation for your edification.  I am deeply indebted to Robin for giving me consent to share these comments.

Three specific statements stand out particularly.

First, Robin admitted, “I am ready to die.”

Her words were powerful.  This was an expression of determination, not resignation.  She made the comment early in the conversation.  When I asked Robin where she found her hope she said through her boys.  Then she added, “I am ready to die.  The Lord has given me peace.”

Of course, her eyes were flooded with tears.  I cried along with her because I sensed the power of her words.  We both cried because we were sensing the presence of the Lord’s Spirit in our conversation.

Robin admitted it was painstakingly difficult arriving at this moment of truth.  It took months to build to this faithful assessment.  I was so impressed.  Her faith in the Lord was real, vibrant and explicit.

Next, Robin commented, “I am still alive.”

This, too, was another statement of faith.  It means that she is not going to curl up in pity by throwing in the towel. 

Robin admitted settling on this when she was dumbstruck by a comment her oncologist made her first day of treatments.  Prepare yourself, what you are about to read will infuriate you.

On the first day of treatments, Robin’s oncologist said, “I don’t know why you are taking this chemo.  It will not make any difference.”

If your blood is boiling, it should be.  I was livid.  Robin was enraged just thinking about it again.  Her outrage was understandable.  How audacious? 

There is good news, nevertheless.  Robin said that comment fueled her motivation for life.  She determined a few days later she was going to live every day of her life, whether the days were many or few.  That is when the thought, “I am still alive” inspired her.

By the way, her oncologist apologized during the next visit.  She claimed it was due to a bad day.  Even though she was thankful for the apology, Robin let the doctor know she should never make a comment like that to another patient.  She told her, “Every patient you have is hanging on to all the hope they can find.  The last thing they need is their doctor dashing their hopes because they are having a bad day.”

Amen, Robin!

Finally, Robin said, “I want God to get the glory whatever happens to me.”

Isn’t that the way we should all live?  Shouldn’t each of us be consumed with the glory of the Lord?  Whether in life or death, should not God’s greatness, His majesty and glory guide us?

Robin gets it.  She sees the big picture.  The “it”, the “big picture” is that she was created for one purpose: to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  Every human was created for that singular purpose.

I admire Robin.  Her faith in the Lord is real.  Her outlook is rooted in an abiding hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Her heart’s desire is to live for God’s glory until the day she dies.  When that time comes, only the Lord knows.  Besides, she may outlive her own doctor’s predictions.

After Robin left my office, I spent a few moments reflecting on her comments.  While praying for Robin and her family, my attention turned to the Apostle Paul’s words, when he wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23  I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Philippians 1:18-26

I am proud of Robin.  I trust you are proud of her also.  Please pray for Robin.  Pray for Bill, Trey and Chace, also.  Pray for God’s will to be done.  More importantly, pray for God to be glorified.

22
Feb
08

Daddy/Daughter Date Night, Part 2

Check out the young woman in the red dress.  Yes, that is our Children’s Minister dancing with our kids.  And that is Bryan Haskins singing with his band.  The dads and their daughters had a great time.  However, no one enjoyed the evening as much as Beth did.  Beth I did not realize you were so talented.

21
Feb
08

Daddy/Daughter Date Night

Several weeks ago Beth Howe, CrossPoint’s Children’s Minister, along Cathy Owen, CrossPoint’s Per-School Minister asked if I would extend the welcome and lead in the blessing during the Daddy/Daughter Date Night on February 18.  Of course, I said yes and welcomed the opportunity to hold that date on my calendar.

When the day arrived, I called my baby-girl, Kelsey, and asked if she had plans for the evening.  Thankfully her schedule was free.  When she asked why, I told her I wanted her to accompany me to CrossPoint’s Daddy/Daughter Date Night.

Kelsey and I attended the first DDDN when we were still at FBC Center Point.  Actually, it was her first and last DDDN, because she was in the fifth grade that year.  That seems like so many years ago, and it was.  She and I had a ball that night.  We had our picture made, we ate a great meal and we danced the night away.

This year’s Daddy/Daughter Date Night was super special for me in many respects.  It gave me time with some special ladies in our family of faith, along with their fathers.  More importantly, it gave me time with my baby girl.  And we had the best time.

I asked Kelsey to let me know when she was ready to leave.  I love her response.  She said, “After we dance a little, and then eat an ice cream sundae.”  That’s my girl.

Below are a few of the special memories from the evening.  The DDDN theme was a 50s Sock Hop.  As you can see from the photos, Kelsey and I did not get memo on the dress for the evening, yet we still had fun.

Dads with their daughters

If you are the father or grandfather of a girl from K5 through the fifth grade, then you must by all possible means, participate in next year’s Daddy/Daughter Date Night.  You will enjoy a great meal.  The music will be over the top.  The night will be memorable.  Above all that, your daughter will thank you for taking her on such a great date.

Once again, this is why CrossPoint exists.

19
Feb
08

I am Proud of CrossPoint

I experienced two great conversations the other day.  One conversation was from a CrossPointer moving out of state, while the other conversation was from a potential family about to join CrossPoint.

The CrossPointer moving away had so many good things to say about the work of the Lord at CrossPoint.  This CrossPoint family is moving to another state due to a job transfer.  We visited for 30 minutes.  Everything about the conversation was so positive.

This person went on and on about how much they love CrossPoint and how much they will miss it.  They could not thank us enough for all the ways we have ministered to them and trained them.  She referred several times to doing all things for God’s glory.  She talked about the positive impact of CPU, their Bible study class and the pre-school and children’s ministries of CrossPoint.  Toward the end of the conversation the CrossPointer asked about what to do with their tithe.  She was concerned where to give their tithe after they moved.  They did not know whether to continue returning it by mail to CrossPoint each week or to give it the church they visited.

I simply reminded the CrossPointer what I say each week when we collect our offering.  She interrupted and said they would send their tithe back to CrossPoint so none of our guests would have to give.

There is a church in another state about to receive a real blessing when this CrossPoint family joins that church.

The other conversation included a potential CrossPointer.  This couple has already decided to join.  The husband called to talk with me about next month’s membership class.

The second conversation was as equally refreshing as the first one.  The husband began the conversation with thoughts about his and his wife’s salvation.  He said since they started worshiping with us, they both feel like they are being drawn closer to the Lord.  He said they know God is sending them our way, and they want to make CrossPoint their family of faith.

We spent several minutes discussing the importance of being baptized, growing in their faith, and finding a place to connect at CrossPoint.  And, as in the first conversation, this potential new member could not say enough good things about CrossPoint.

Now isn’t that just like the Lord.  One family moves away to serve Him elsewhere, all the while another family moves in to replace them.

Kudos to CrossPoint!  Well done family of faith.  The Lord is at work in you and through you.  God is doing some amazing things in the CrossPoint family.  You make me proud.  More importantly, the Lord must be proud of you.  Keep doing everything to the glory of God, for all things are from Him and through Him and to Him.  To Him alone be the glory.

16
Feb
08

Only Comfort in Life and Death

Two weeks ago, my friend Ray Pritchard posted the first question to the Heidelberg Catechism on his blog.  Since then I have been reading and rereading the response to that question which was written in 1563.

I provide the question for you today trusting it challenges you as much as it has challenged me:

Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

Answer: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life. and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Amen!