24 December 2011

Unwrapping the Gift of Christmas

From my point of view, Christmas and gift giving seem to be synonymous in our culture. I believe it's safe to say that it is the defining trait of Christmas. This was not always the case.  This preoccupation with giving and receiving gifts within family, friends, and co-workers has evolved over the last two hundred years or so.  Three streams of influence converged during this time that has resulted in the insane consumerism to which Christmas now entitles us.  The emergence of Santa Claus has been instrumental to the prominence of gift giving at Christmas.  This mythical figure has roots in the real person of Bishop Nicholas of fourth-century Turkey.  He was canonized by the Catholic church and became particularly popular in Russia.  He was known for his benevolence toward children and was depicted early on in portraits with a white beard and red cape.  The Catholic Church created a holiday in his honor in December, which was occasioned by gift giving and acts of charity.  As the tradition of St. Nicholas dwindled in most places it grew in Holland, where his name became Sinterklaas.  Dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace and Sinterklass would leave treats in them if they had been good.  The Dutch brought the tradition to America, and as America became anglicized, so did his name.  It morphed into the familiar Santa Claus.  However, it wasn't until the publication of  Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas in 1822 that Santa took on his full form, complete with a sled and reindeer.  Finally, beginning in 1931,Coca-cola capitalized on the growing popularity and solidified the image of the jolly fat man in the red suit into the American mind.  I admit this is a brief and oversimplified version of the Santa, but I think it conveys the main movements of the story. 

A second major influence on gift giving and Christmas the way we know it came from nineteenth-century Victorian England.  Americans were enamoured with Queen Victoria and her royal "pop" culture.  She married Albert of Germany.  The Christmas tree was a popular tradition in Germany that had come to be associated with Christmas celebration.  When Victoria erected a tree in the royal palace a new English tradition was born.  Quickly Christmas trees became the holiday rage in England and America.  As in Germany, the trees became the location for the gifts from St. Nick.

And lastly, it's important to recognize that American consumerism essentially jumped on board and began to drive the Christmas train.  As the tradition of gift giving grew with the influence of good old St. Nick and Victorian England, merchants were quick to seize a grand opportunity.  As they say, the rest is history!  Now Christmas for merchants is the defining event of the year.  From black Friday to cyber Monday and all the days leading up to December 25, it's all about who can get the consumers money and how much of it.  That may sound a little crass, but it's the reality.  We're constantly bombarded during the Christmas season with enticements to grab up stuff we don't need and spend much more than we really should in a materialistic binge.  We probably know better, but we do it anyway.

Now, before you think I'm Ebenezer Scrooge let me say this:  I'm a fan of gift giving at Christmas.  Planning to buy, selecting, purchasing and giving gifts is a great way to express love and appreciation.  When we truly gift a gift from the heart to someone we care about it brings us great joy and hopefully the person to whom we give the gift (if they like it!).  And I'm not above saying that I enjoy receiving as well.  So here me clearly...I have no problem with the tradition of gift giving at Christmas.

However, I do groan a little more each year inwardly as I see the gift that is Christmas being displaced by the tradition of giving gifts to one another.  What the world needs is to unwrap the gift that is Christ.  When we do this we realize that God's gift to us is the Gospel.  However, the Gospel is neither what we wanted nor what we naturally want.  We often treat the Gospel with about as much excitement as a ten-year-old boy does a box of underwear and socks on Christmas morning.  Who wants to really find out they need a Savior to rescue them from certain divine judgment and who claims Lordship over his or her life?  We may not want it, but the gift of the Gospel is what we need.  We may not have expected God to relate to us through the Son of God, fully God and fully human, whose mission was to die on a Roman cross, but it is what we must receive.  A gift is an act of grace, not something earned.  The Gospel is the gift of Christmas.

Furthermore, as I receive the Gospel, I must evaluate my response to it.  What will be my gift to God in response?  A true gift is given willingly from love, not compulsion or guilt.  I think we all know the difference.  I know how I feel when I give a gift I want to compared to one that I think I have to. I bet you do too!  I wonder how often people respond to Christ only from a sense of obligation and tradition rather than genuine affection for Him?   

When I unwrap the gift of Christmas, I don't find the stuff of consumerism, decorations and merriment, or even family.  I find Christ, who is the good news of great joy for the whole world.  And if that is what I truly find it gives meaning to the rest, and it challenges me to consider what will be my gift back to Him.  My gift can be nothing less than my whole self.  All of my life is compelled to come under Jesus' Lordship.  I trust Him and place my full faith in Him.  And then I ask myself what part of my life may not be appropriately under His Lordship.  Is it my finances?  Am I stingy?  Is it my marriage?  Am I attending to it as I should? Is it my tongue? Do I gossip and lack self-control? Is it my pride?  Have I lost my sense of dependence on God? Is it my pain? Am I holding on to a grudge?

Indeed, Christmas is a time to give.  In our culture we give a lot, which is actually a good thing.  However, anything that comes to overshadow Christ becomes a bad thing, even the tradition of gift giving during the celebration of His birth.  I ask you to consider as you give to many others, what are you giving to Christ?

Merry Christmas        


28 November 2011

Seeing Intolerance as Opportunity

I have observed that just the name of Jesus evokes tremendous reactions in our culture.  No other name sparks debate, arouses hostility, or engenders great devotion like the name of Jesus.  It is a curious thing if you stop and really think about it.  Why is it that the name of Jesus increasingly met with such passion and controversy.  People love to hate Tim Tebow because he relentlessly proclaims his love for Jesus to the world.  Why?  Military chaplains are currently instructed (at least in the US Air Force where I serve as a reserve chaplain) to refrain from using the name of Jesus in public prayer.  Why? I've watched in my lifetime the name of Christ removed from Christmas.  In my small town the banners attached to the light poles along Main Street read "Happy Holidays", "Peace on Earth", and "Noel."  I've noticed other biblical allusions, but nowhere can I find the word Christmas.  Why? I suspect because it contains the name Christ, which, of course, is Jesus.  Maybe you've noticed this in your town too.

Even an unbeliever, who rejects the claims that Christianity makes about Jesus, should find the omission of Christ from Christmas and the hostility to Jesus curious.  I mean really, either you believe in Jesus and go to church and all that religious stuff or you don't.  If you don't why would you care if others do?  If you choose to reject the message of Christianity personally, then why object to those who do accept it or to traditions and celebrations that obviously are rooted in it?  Neither is one forced to believe in Jesus, nor one is punished for not believing.  So why all the intolerance for the name of Jesus?

The answer to the question depends greatly on your point of view.  A non Christian person may genuinely think that if the name of Jesus or symbols of Christianity occupies any part of the public square, then it is being forced on them.  The so-called politically correct person may simply want to sanitize that public square for any perceived favoritism toward any one religion.  The secularist may simply want no religious expressions at all in the public square.  A religious person, like a devout Jew or Muslim, may simply feel that they are being run over by the religious majority. 

There can be no doubt that the prominence that Christianity once held in our country has faded.  Many past assumptions that kept Christianity mainstream simply aren't there anymore.  At one time the vast majority thought nothing negatively about Christian public prayers, displays of the Ten Commandments, or nativity scenes and crosses on public properties.  But in the last half century or so much has changed.  Our culture has become increasingly tolerant of every kind of lifestyle, behaviors and obscenities and increasingly intolerant of of anything specifically Christian. 

Now before you think that I'm just whining and pining for a return to the good old days, let me interject this.  I'm just stating an obvious trend in our American culture.  But even as I do so, I'm excited about the opportunity for the gospel and for the church.  I know historically that in the darkest times is when individual Christians have shined most brightly.  Today, is a great day to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Paul wrote to the Romans, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..."(Rom. 1:16)  Here we see why someone like Paul would suffer and strive for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He knew that people's salvation depended on it.  Therefore, he would not listen to critics, tolerate false teaching, or back away from its message for a second.   

It might irritate me that the culture has shifted and that Christianity doesn't hold the sway over traditions like it used to.  I might sigh a little and wish that it were different.  But a symbol, monument, decorations, or public prayer never saved a person's soul.  However, there is a person by whom all persons who believe can be saved - Jesus.  Under serious threat of persecution Peter boldly declared Jesus as legitimate and said, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

Many people don't like the exclusive claims of Christianity.  They don't like being informed that their ways are wrong.  I think we can understand that. Who likes being told their wrong about anything?  I believe that this is why we are told to "speak the truth in love" in Scripture.  If people's natural pride is going to bristle at being told they are wrong, that they need to repent of sin and that they need to die to self, it might help if we delivered that message with genuine love and compassion.  It does nothing for the gospel to return hostility with hostility or intolerance with intolerance.  Our response must always be love.  Even as our culture may become more increasingly belligerent toward Jesus, we need to be falling more deeply in love with Jesus and the gospel.  If we do this, then we can love our enemies and pray for those who attempt to do us harm-just like Jesus told us.  And a life that demonstrates this is of infinite more worth for the gospel than any symbol or tradition.

There is no other name than Jesus by which people can be saved. Therefore, I want people to see Him through me - by my proclamation, by my testimony and by my life.  Frankly, I don't care what the culture around me thinks or does. I can't control how much or how little society reflects my Christian convictions, but I can be passionate about the gospel, which has the power to transform lives first - then a whole culture.     


01 November 2011

Christian America?

What do you get when you take four evangelical Christians with a blend of academic expertise and pastoral experience and pose the simple question: What has been the relationship between Christianity and the United States of America?  Well, one thing you get is some differing opinions.  Hopefully, the chief product is a thought-provoking discussion about our American history and the degree of impact the Christian faith has had on American culture and ideas.

This new book, Christian America? Perspectives on Our Religious Heritage, ought to be on book store shelves now.  Besides myself (pastor and former teacher) other contributors include David Barton (historian and founder of Wall Builders Ministries), William Henard (pastor and teacher), and Jonathan Sassi (teacher).  In addition, I was thrilled that George Marsden (American Christian historian extraordinaire)consented to write a foreword for the book.  What a privilege to have such a renowned scholar give his time and efforts to endorse and help promote this work.  He's also an incredibly nice guy.

I believe this discussion about American identity is important today.  Our country has experienced dramatic change in its collective attitude toward Christianity.  Everywhere you turn it seems that the old assumptions of Christian belief and custom are being torn down and met with increasing intolerance.  And I think it is understandable that many sense these changes, which begs several relevant questions.  How have we gotten to this present state of affairs?  How did it used to be?  What kind of ideas was this country founded on?  What has been the role of religion in the public arena?  How do we go forward from where we are?

This work consists of four chapters, each with a different perspective concerning how Christianity has informed our American culture and politics.  At the end of each chapter, the other three writers offer short responses.  In this way, the book is more like a conversation, and at times a quite spirited one!  However, the discussion always remains respectful in spite in significant disagreement. 

I'm grateful to Broadman Holman for making my idea for a book into a reality.  In no way do I think that this work offers any definitive word on the subject. It probably raises more questions for the critical thinker than provides answers.  But I think that is a good thing.  This book is designed to help the reader consider the subject and examine different arguments and interpretations of American history.  If you do decide to put it on your reading list,  I hope you consider it time well spent because it made you think more deeply.  I hope particularly that teachers and students will find it a good tool for discussion, critical historical analysis and in what ways Christians can engage their culture.

Happy reading.  


Tearing Down the Sports Idol

This past Sunday morning I challenged our parents to stand boldly this basketball season for God.  I hope that they received this challenge in the spirit of love with which it was given.  Frankly, I am jealous for their devotion to God.  It breaks my heart to watch families erect a new sports idol with each coming season. Around here there are two main patron deities of sports pantheon - baseball in the spring and summer and basketball in the fall and winter.  Football is a close third little god.  

Right now we are at the beginning of the round ball season.  Let me give you a little background. Last year I led our church and local churches to sign a petition asking a neighboring county to start its Sunday basketball games no earlier than 2 pm.  During basketball season this facility holds tournaments practically every weekend and on Sunday. (the week's end is Friday and Saturday, Sunday is the beginning of the week - I hate it when people include Sunday as part of the so-called "week end.")  I digress.  Anyway, the number of signatures collected was disappointing.  But even more disappointing was so many of my fellow pastors who chose not to lead their congregations to participate.  Thanks to the few who did!  I also called the judge executive who is in charge of the county run and operated sportsplex.  He answered my request with contempt and hostility.  Honestly, I was shocked at his response and his lack of professionalism as a public servant.  He was belligerent and illogical in his argument.

Now, here we are a year later.  I can see that appealing directly to those who might accommodate families who want to be in church will not work.  Actually, that's okay.  The only question for me and all Christians is this: Will I honor God with my choices no matter what everyone else is doing? I should not expect this world to cater to my spiritual priorities or even understand them.  However, I can firmly fix my priorities to the glory of God and to teach my children what is most important.

I like sports.  I played sports, and I follow some sports.  I enjoy a ball game on TV when I get the chance, and I enjoy our local schools' games.  My son plays sports, but from day one we told him that sports takes a back seat to God and family. 

I've challenged my parents again to put a fence of protection around Sunday morning.  I've told them without equivocation that they and their kids should be consistently in Sunday school and worship on Sunday morning.  I regret that our world has so little regard for the Lord's Day that it schedules basketball games on Sunday morning and early afternoon.  But the power to choose is with the parents, not the leagues or the coaches or the sportsplexes of America.  Parents must sit down with their children and help them to realize what is most important and then teach them by doing what is most important.  I tell our parents that they are constantly teaching their kids how to prioritize their lives.  The question they need to answer honestly is what are the priorities they are modeling.

I'm praying that some moms and dads, who profess to be committed to Christ, will have the boldness to swim against the stream of culture and allow their kids to miss a few basketball games for God.  I'm tired of watching parents, who are professing Christians, bow down to a game and sacrifice their children on the alter of sports.  I'm grieved to watch families come to church during sports seasons only when there is no conflicting game.  I'm sick in my soul to watch church families habitually choose sport over God when the choice presents itself. 

It's time to repent of our idolatry and tear down the sports idol and smash it into pieces!  It's time to put God first and not just give Him the leftovers.  It's time to decide what is truly most important and live it.     


24 October 2011

Baptists and the Reformation

This Sunday, October 30, is Reformation Sunday.  "So what?" you may say.  You may think to yourself, "What does the Reformation have to do with being Baptist?"  Well, you might if you happen to be a Baptist like myself.  Actually, Baptists like many other groups find their roots in the sixteenth-century Reformation of Europe.  I said before that I believe (with all my Baptist bias on display) that Baptists are the crown jewel of the Reformation.

Martin Luther didn't do it alone, but when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517 he struck the match that lit the fire!  The fuel for the fire had been stacking up for years. The dry and brittle thicket and thorns of corruption and ignorance of Roman Catholicism was piled high and deep, waiting for someone like Luther to apply a spark.

Lutherans were first labeled Protestants (because they protested so much).  In time any dissenting group that dared to challenge the authority of Rome both politically and theologically would bear the name.  The Reformation, like any major movement in history, is complex.  Historians have studied it from social, political, economic, or religious viewpoints.  However, I believe that overall, it was primarily a religious movement with religious concerns at its heart.

We people called Baptists didn't emerge until about a century after the Reformation started.  At least, not in our complete form.  There were various groups of Anabaptists that preceded Baptists, which held some similar views, especially a commitment to believer's baptism (the idea that only a professing believer should receive baptism and not infants).  Some historians see Anabaptists as essentially the first Baptists and others do not.  I am in the second camp, but that is a whole different conversation. What is most important is that we understand that the commitment to believer's baptism and to a congregational, free church style of government defined what made a Baptist a Baptist.  On other issues there was often differences of opinion.

Baptists ought to consider themselves second generation products of the Reformation, but products nevertheless.  The recovery of the authority of Scripture for belief and practice reinvigorated Christianity.  The gospel had been obscured from so may by hundreds of years of corrupt teaching and practice of Roman Catholicism. As people began to read the Bible it was inevitable that Rome would be challenged.  Actually, Rome had endured such challenges throughout history, but had always been able to silence dissenters (i.e. kill them).  However, circumstances during the Reformation allowed for successful dissent.  In the providence of God, the time had come!

As a good Baptist who understands my indebtedness to the Reformers, I will celebrate Reformation Sunday.  I will try to inform my congregation of both the history and theology that is so important to remember and maintain.  I will help them connect the dots between their own faith in the 21st century back to the 16th century.  There are so many themes that I can employ to highlight the great teachings that flowed from the Reformation, such as the authority of Scripture, justification by faith alone, or the priesthood of the believer. 

I hope that your church as well will recognize Reformation Sunday.  Or at least I hope you'll watch the movie Luther.  I'll be watching it again this week as I prepare my message to renew my appreciation for those who have boldly walked before me in faith and on whose shoulders I now stand.

20 October 2011

Romney and the Mormon Question

It was inevitable that the long standing clash between Mormonism and traditional Christianity would spill into the political arena with Mitt Romney being the Republican candidate to beat for the nomination to run for president in the coming election.  And, I suppose it was just a matter of time until a good Baptist pastor provocatively put this long history of differences in the headlines.  On Oct 7, pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist, Dallas made public remarks that Mormonism is a cult and its beliefs are outside the bounds of traditional Christianity.  Of course, these comments were met with the predicable political correctness from both the Left and Right.  Although, Jeffress's comments were not given with any spirit of animosity, the content of his statement alone is widely regarded as hostile to civilized, American society.  And frankly, I applaud him for subsequent comments that have been both civil and historically and theologically accurate.

I think much of the reaction from the media and public is founded on ignorance.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a.k.a. Mormons, is a recent religious movement, less than 200 years old, whereas Christianity is over 2,000 years old.  The rule of faith, including the canon of Scripture had been firmly in place for 1,400 years before Joseph Smith began the movement that would become Mormonism.  A cult is a deviation - which Mormonism is with its claims of further revelation through Joseph Smith.  Through the Book of Mormon and other writings (and through their living prophet) the Mormon faith has added significant doctrine and teachings that is totally unsubstantiated by the Bible and certainly not corroborated by any historical evidence.  From its beginning until this day, traditional Christian denominations have recognized Mormonism as deviant.  Just because they speak about Jesus, doesn't mean they are orthodox in matters pertaining to Him or other matters.

Since living in Hazard I have had considerable contact with Mormon missionaries-all young men from the American West in their 20s.  I've literally spent hours in conversation in my home.  We have eaten meals together, played basketball, and they have even come to hear me preach.  After much discussion with one of these young men, he came back to my house on another day.  He told me that after our conversations concerning the differences between my faith and his, he had determined that he could not call himself a Christian.  I asked him what he then considered himself.  He replied that he was a Mormon.  It seemed to be quite a revelation for him.  And let me say that I have enjoyed every minute spent with each Mormon missionary.  Without exception each one has been respectful, intelligent, winsome, and likable.  However, niceness and a moral center doesn't constitute a Christian.  This is the difference that we must recognize.

Could Mitt Romney be a good president?  Possibly.  I can't answer that question with any kind of certainty.  However, Christians who have a historical and theological awareness of Mormonism need not to back away from the facts.  It's important that our people in our churches understand the differences that exist that necessarily make Mormonism non-Christian.  Our conversation with each other, with the media or Mormons themselves should never be mean-spirited or condescending, but it should be honest and bold.  Now, whether as a Christian you could vote for a Mormon is a totally different question.     

16 October 2011

I still believe in Sunday school

I refuse to believe that a traditional Sunday school ministry is necessarily passe just because it's been around awhile.  Sunday school originated in England in the mid 1800s.  It was organized by churches to give children some basic education on Sunday because so many of them worked in factories from Monday through Saturday.  This was an era of unregulated industrialization both in England and the United States.  Eventually regulation came and public education became more widespread and effective.  However, Sunday school had gradually become a staple part of many churchs' ministry.  Instead of dropping the ministry, the focus of it shifted.  Instead of focusing on reading and writing, the focus became religious instruction.

Sunday school didn't catch on right away, and it had plenty of opponents.  Some insisted that it wasn't biblical, because the early church didn't have anything like it.  But many Christian leaders began to see that a well-organized, intentional Sunday school was a tremendous outreach tool as well.  Here was a mechanism to segment the church into teams that in turn would reach out to bring others into the church.

In Southern Baptist life Sunday school has been the so-called "bread and butter" of our week to week outreach efforts.  There have been and will be come-and-go evangelism programs and emphases, but the Sunday school remains constant.  However, in my life I have seen a gradual shift away from traditional Sunday school.  Frankly, in some contexts that's fine.  For example, new church plants are not typically (actually I can't think of one) going to set up a traditionally formatted Sunday school.  Most likely they will try to employ something a little more trendy like "Life Groups" or "Connect Groups" or some other small group ministry with a really cool name.  And that's fine too.  Many times these groups will meet at times other that Sunday morning.  And that's dandy.

I pastor a First Baptist Church.  And anyone in church ministry knows what that means- tradition.  And, you guessed it, that's okay as well.  We still have Sunday school.  We have it on Sunday morning at the traditional time.  It's organized in a traditional way.  And it bears a traditional name.  That's the way it's going to be and should be at my church.  And our Sunday school is doing well and continuing to improve.

Traditional Sunday school can still thrive in our culture if we keep it invigorated and founded on a sound philosophy of ministry and focused purpose.  As a pastor I am learning that training is the key.  My job is to equip those who answer the call to serve - our directors, teachers, care group leaders, and outreach leaders.

I've never had an original idea about Sunday school. (Actually, not about many things at all.)  But I've boiled down our Sunday school's purpose to three key priorities:  Reaching People, Teaching People, and Ministering to People.  (Thank you Alan Taylor)  I'd like to say that everyone has caught on, but they haven't.  I am glad to see that a few are beginning to "get it."   

Sunday school is still in most Baptist churches the largest organization poised to reach people.  It's already there.  We just need to be intentional and work hard to leverage its potential for outreach to the unchurched.  Don't give up on Sunday school; start learning how to do it better.  If you've got any ideas that have been effective for you and your church I would love to hear about it.

14 October 2011

The Imitation of Christ

Sometimes the old stuff is still the best stuff!  For over 600 years Christians have found The Imitation of Christ stirring and challenging.  Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) is credited with writing most, if not all of this classic devotional work.  When I taught a class called "Classics of Christianity" I used this one, along with John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress and Augustine's Confessions.  Thomas was a late Medieval monk of the order of the Brothers of the Common Life.  He eventually became a priest.  Historically speaking, his life and work were by most accounts unremarkable.  He blended into his time the way most of us do in our own.  Nevertheless, he did leave behind this masterpiece of devotion.  As one would expect, aspects of Roman Catholic practice and theology are sprinkled throughout.  However, as a Baptist, hence a child of the Reformation, I have found it incredibly helpful.  I've read it more than once and am right now soaking up its pages again.  The Imitation of Christ is an easy read and short (my copy is only 160 pages).  However, it is a challenging read.  It will hit you right in the areas of pride and vanity in surprising ways.  You'll discover you never knew how much pride you possessed and how antithetical pride is to living like Christ. 

I encourage you to pick up a copy or check it out at the library.  It's a classic every Christian ought to know.  So, if you're looking for the newest devotional that is both spiritual and practical, add something new that is old-The Imitation of Christ

12 October 2011

Welcome to the Conversation

I am launching this blog in anticipation of the release of a new book that I edited and contributed to that will hit book store shelves November 1.  My hope that in classrooms and in pastors' studies that this book will generate discussion about important issues related to American history and Christianity.  The goal of the book is take the reader through four different historical interpretations that attempt to explain to what degree and in what ways Christianity has been part of American identity.  Ultimately, I hope that by trying to get a clearer picture of our past, we can chart a more effective strategy for Christians and churches to be salt and light in our country.  I hope you'll read the book and join the discussion. 

In the future, this blog will be devoted to issues of history and ministry.  The name of the blog, "A Pastor's Progress" is a complete rip off of John Bunyan's classic work.  I feel, howeer, that the idea of pilgrimage and progress is fitting for me.  I have been in vocational ministry for over 20 years.  I've been blessed to have some wonderful opportunities.  God has seen fit to allow me to work in youth ministry, education ministry and to pastor.  It was a joy to also spend eight years teaching church history at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis.  Today, I'm pastor of the First Baptist Church in Hazard, Kentucky.

As a pastor I am on a journey to honor God in my ministry and lead a church effectively for His glory.  As a historian (primarily interested in Reformation, American and Baptist studies) I believe we have so much to glean from the past that will make us more faithful servants of Christ in the present.

A large part of me for years has refused to enter the blogging world.  I have thought it to be a modern expression of our ever growing narcissistic tendencies.  Also, I've thought it to be a poor use of my time.  Hopefully, now that I'm choosing to blog, I can quickly discern if indeed it's a passing whim of self-centeredness or in someway serves a purpose other than my own ego.  My desire is neither to feed my pride or waste my time.  We'll see.   

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