Monday, March 31, 2008


I returned Saturday from a mission trip to Grifton, NC. I went with the Baptist Student Union on their Spring Break Mission Trip. It was a really great week for a very unexpected reason. In talking about the trip, we had been expecting to be working in the community. This is an area where there is a great amount of poverty, and large numbers of families are living in substandard housing. The Grifton Missions Ministry, which started as disaster relief following Hurricane Floyd, seeks to help people improve their living conditions at low and no cost. However, our team was asked to work on site at the ministry center. We were charged with building a covered shelter that could be used for outdoor eating and group meetings. The director of the ministry shared with me that there were going to be several large groups coming to Grifton during the summer. As they are currently organized, there is not enough space for them to provide to groups to meet in. Our work would hopefully provide some more space for them. I think some of us were a little disappointed that we would not be getting out into the community. However, as we worked on Wednesday, I thought about the passage in 1 Timothy 5:

"Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,' and, 'The laborer deserves to be paid.'"

I have always heard this verse quoted in regards to salaries for ministers. However, I came to realize that this passage really spoke to me and our group. The GMM pours almost all of its resources into meeting the needs of the community. We had a chance, with our work, to honor those who would not honor themselves. We were serving the servants. We talked about this as a group, and I think we came to realize that what we were doing was just as valuable a ministry as what other groups were doing out in the community. On the last day we were there, Billy, the director, challenged us to think about the work that was accomplished that week not so much as our work but as God's work through us. I really am glad that I had the opportunity to be used by God in such a meaningful way.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Final Four Picks

Well, I have put together my bracket. My Final Four:

1. Tennessee. Before anybody accuses me of just not liking UNC, let me state my case. I have UNC losing to Tennessee in the Elite Eight for 2 very good reasons: Chris Lofton and inside depth. UNC's biggest chink in the armor has been an inability many times to defend the perimeter. Christ Lofton is the kind of player who can make you pay for that mistake. In recent games, teams have figured out how to defend the UNC interior without fouling a lot. Tennessee has the athletes and depth inside to cause Hansbrough to work real hard. It will be a real good game, but I think Tennessee hurts UNC in enough places to squeak by.

2. Kansas. Too much talent, plain and simple. I think this could be a cake walk.

3. Texas. If March is truly about guard play, then Texas is in great shape. I don't see them having a real struggle until a possible meeting with Memphis in the Elite Eight. Memphis' horrible free throw shooting finally will catch up to them.

4. Duke. OK, I'm a fan boy, I'll admit. However, I think this team might have one more run in them. They will play some tight games, and UCLA is the big monster on the block. However, I think Kevin Love, while extremely talented, is not quite the same kind of interior threat that somebody like Hansbrough. I think Singler handles Love straight up, and Duke guards well enough to pull out the upset.

Championship Game: Kansas vs. Duke. Duke & Texas would be an incredible matchup. I pick Duke just because I want to. However, to go back to an earlier statement, Kansas is just too talented. Kansas cuts down the nets.

The madness begins tomorrow. I can't wait!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Theological Struggle

I am having a little bit of a theological struggle. I was reading this morning in the book of Numbers, Numbers 31:17 to be exact. To set the context, Moses and the children of Israel are at camped by the Jordan River. God commands Moses to send the Israelites into battle against Midian because Midian had sought to curse and defeat Israel on their journey to the promised land. The Midianite women had also sought to seduce the men of Israel, and in doing so to sway them from worshipping God to worshipping false gods. Israel's army goes and completely destroys the Midianites, and the army carries the women and children of Midian back to the Israelite camp as captives. We now reach my struggle.

Moses said to them, "Have you allowed all the women to live? These women here, on Balaam's advice, made the Israelites act treacherously against the LORD in the affair of Peor, so that the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him." - Numbers 31:15-17

So, here is my struggle. From a strategic standpoint, I guess I can understand why Moses gives the order - prevent boys from growing into men who will seek revenge, the women had not just been innocent bystanders but part of the plot against the Israelites. However, I guess I still find my stomach churned by this order, especially in regards to the children. I find it interesting that this is not one of those situations where "the LORD commanded Moses to say". God is actually silent in this portion of the story. What are we to make of God's silence? God has not shown reluctance to contradict or reprimand Moses for orders in the past. As I read the story, I keep waiting for God to cry out here, kind of like in the story of Abraham and the binding of Isaac. Instead, nothing.

I welcome any comments or thoughts. In the meantime, I guess I will continue to struggle and pray on this one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Baptist Student Union - cool!

I spent last night in the home of Anne Smith talking to one of the women's missionary organizations at First Baptist Burlington about the ministry of the Elon University Baptist Student Union. I really appreciated their time and interest. BSU is a ministry that I am very glad that I have a chance to be associated with. It was a huge part of my college experience and probably the primary reason why I remained true to God's call to enter the ministry. BSU is a great place for students to continue to nurture and grow their faith among a community of fellow students who will show them great love and acceptance. I am really excited about the opportunity to go with the BSU on their Spring Break mission trip in a couple of weeks. We will be going to Grifton, NC to help improve housing for families who live in poverty. If you are a student or a parent, make sure you check out the Baptist Student Union when you arrive on campus for the first time.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's Been a While ...

OK, a month is a loooooong time to go between posts. Sorry about that for anyone who is reading (is anyone reading?). Things have been a little busy, and I just haven't had much chance to sit down and blog the last few weeks. Will try to do better.

To make up, here are some random thoughts and experiences from the last few weeks.

1) This year, I have found myself following the race for the White House unlike any other time in the past. It is not because I have any particular rooting interest at this point - I still really have no clue as to who I am going to vote for - but just because the whole process is fascinating me. On the Republican side, you have John McCain, a guy who has never seemed to fit in as a stereotypical Republican. People wonder if he can move the far right of the party. He may not have to, in my opinion. If Hillary Clinton gets the nod on the Democratic side, I think her presence in the race would move the far right for McCain. I have always thought that the far right's support for Bush in 2000 was as much a reaction against the Clintons as it was support for Bush. On the Democratic side, there are a number of interesting issues developing. Could Obama and Clinton really share a ticket after some of the bitterness of recent weeks? Will Michigan and Florida suddenly become players again after first being told their delegates would not be seated at the convention? I have wondered if Obama was similar to McCain in the sense of not completely having the support of the Democratic "establishment". If the presidential race were to come down to these two, is there a lesson to be learned by their respective parties?

2) Duke-UNC Round 2 is Saturday. Yes, I know Ty Lawson is back. Yes, I know Tyler Hansbrough is the clear POY in the conference (can't say nation as confidently - have you seen Beasely play?). However, the game is in Cameron. If last night is any indication, the 3-pointers are starting to fall again. UNC still has problems defending the perimeter (Tyrese Rice 40+ points, Jason Rich almost 30 - and that is just the last 2 games). I think this game could be even better than the first game. I could see it coming down to one final shot, and I think Duke hits it. Gerald Henderson drive to the basket, just to really go out on a limb.

3) I have not been able to get a quote out of my head. William Wilberforce once wrote, "No one expects to attain to the heights of learning, or arts, or power, or wealth, or military glory without vigorous resolution, strenuous diligence, and steady perseverence. Yet we expect to be Christians without labor, study, or inquiry." Wow! He wrote that back around the turn of the 19th century. I can't help but think that his observation is still just as true today for Christianity in America as it was for Christianity in England. If you don't think so, maybe go check out the video at If there is one lesson I learned out of my sabbatical experience, it is that I cannot expect to grow in my faith if I am not willing to take responsibility to do so.

Just some random thoughts!