Receiving One Such Child

And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, he said to them, "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me." Mark 9:37 ESV

Walter Brueggemann writes about "constituences of evangelism." I have come to think of these as the pre-churched (children that are part of the church but not yet members), the un-churched (those outside the church), and the de-churched (those that have left the church). I read a blog post by Art Rogers that is relevant to ministry to both the pre and de churched and highly recommed the short piece.

In the post titled, Leaving Church, pt 1, Rogers sites Joe Ball's (Kentucky Baptist Convention) insights into teenagers that walk away from church after High School graduation. He asserts -

80% are from families who are NOMINAL Christians
50% are from unchurched homes
20% are from from churched families whose members are pursuing personal relationships with God

Rogers gleaned some conclusions that are worth reading. It seems clear that the insights listed above also speak to the way we minister to the pre-churched and suggest the de-churched would not be as big of a challenge if we did a better job living the faith in front of our children. There is another issue here . Those children that come from totally unchurched homes and are active in the ministries of the church have a BETTER chance of remaining than those from nominal families. The kids we sometimes label as "drop offs" or "pick ups" have a good shot if we receive them as Christ. This should be ample reason to reach out to kids and teenagers even if their families never follow.

For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. Matthew 12:50 ESV

Messy but Worth It

Our magnolia tree is blooming. Summer is knocking on the door. We have already been to some baseball games and I'm itching to jump into the baby pool with Molly Katherine and Wes. The magnolia invited us to summer in all its messy glory and I'm ready for it.

Summer is full of messy things that are worth it. The ole magnolia is one of them. Mrs. Sara, our neighbor, was concerned that I was going to cut it down when we moved in. She asked/dared me when I met her, "You're not going to cut down that tree are you?" It never occured to me to cut down a magnolia. I was sure there was a state law against it or maybe a verse condemning the practice in the book of Leviticus. I know you can't pick sea oates in Florida, I figured magnolias were off limits in Mississippi. I asked Mrs. Sara, "Do people cut down magnolias?" She said, "O sure they do. Magnolias are a terrible mess." I found that to be true the first time I tried to cut the grass. Magnolias, in fact, are difficult - but worth it. Summer provides other messy but worth it things: snowballs, watermelon, baseball, and barbecue.

When you stop and think about it life offers another list of messy but worth it things - faith, children, marriages, the church you go to or could go to, friendships, etc. Before you cut down any trees because of the mess stop and consider the blooms.

McCarthy and the Prize

Cormac McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize this week for The Road. I wrote a blog post earlier this (November 17th "Cormac McCarthy and the Bible) year about this important work. It is essentially a religious novel containing powerful biblical images. It is hopeful in that it explores the mystery of iniquity and refuses to dabble in the myth of inherent human goodness. We will never embrace the light until we acknowledge the darkness. Virginia Tech should remind us of this.

Read The Road as soon as possible. Read the bible. Become a "carrier of the fire."


This week has been a week for the inspectors. The health department came by the kindergarten and the Mississippi Food Network payed a visit to our food pantry mininstry. This, coupled with April 15 (on the 17th), reminds us that people are looking and pronouncing judgement. We don't live on an island with a vollyball as our only friend, although sometimes ole Wilson looks pretty inviting.

We live in a world where our performance is evaluated on a regular basis. Sometimes we are aware of being measured up. Most of the time we are surprised by the arrival of inspectors and must face their verdict without the benefit of putting on our best face. As the Boy Scouts would advise we must, "be prepared."

Jesus advised his disciples to inspect the lives of others for authenticity. He said, "Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?...Thus you will recognize them by their fruits" Matthew 6:16b;20 (ESV). We would do well to remember that people are watching our lives to see if we give figs or thistles. We need not be unprepared for inspection - Jesus told us it was coming! We will live with inspectors - let's make them our friends.

Easter PJs

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep...Christ the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, the people of Christ...The last enemy to be abolished is death...

Last week was a week from the outer regions of Uknowwhere. It began with the death of one our church members. Mrs. Marie was a wonderful woman and always a source of encouragment for Meredith and me. We buried her husband Winton a year ago.

Mrs. Marie requested that her family bury her in her pajamas. She explained that she wanted people to recognize that she was simply sleeping. Her clothes choice was a testimony of God's grace and a clinched fisted protest in the face of death. Marie's declaration was, "Death does not get to win!" As one of Christ's people she had confidence in the life provided by Jesus on the other side of our earthly tombs.

Paul said that Easter demonstrated the firstfruits of God's great harvest. Mrs. Marie gave witness to it. Easter has been offered to us all. What an indescrible gift.

Verse 6

We joined with millions of Christians today in the celebration of Palm Sunday. I love Matthew's version of the story. We read it together - waving our fronds - shouting hosanna.

I was taken by the actions of the two "no name" disciples in the story. Jesus sent them into the city with a mission to accomplish. Matthew narrated their obedience in the following way: "And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them." Matthew 21:6 (KJV) They were sent. They went.

Jesus has commanded us to go. We have been sent. I think we would do well to imagine an invisible writer like the evangelist Matthew looking at our lives, deciding how to write the sixth verse. Would he be able to write the verse just like it was written in Matthew 21? We are the ones that are sent. At the end of our lives will we be the ones that went?

How will your 6th verse read? Think about it.
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