From 10:30 To Half Past Midnight

In 1654, the famed mathematician, Blaise Pascal had a profoundly mystical, and spiritually uplifting experience one night from 10:30PM until 12:30AM.  How do we know this?  He wrote it down on a piece of paper that he later sewed into the lining of his coat.  

We can only surmise that the reason he did this was to preserve it and keep it somewhere close to his heart.  It was only after his death that the paper with his words from that night were discovered.  

His note began: "The Year of grace 1654... From about ten-thirty in the evening to about half an hour after Midnight... Fire."  

Pascal continued his note by writing: "I separated myself from [Jesus]; I fled him, renounced him, Crucified him. May I never be separated from him!" 

And then finally this: "Total submission to Jesus Christ and to my director. Eternally in joy for a day of trial on earth."

I imagine Pascal sitting at a small seventeenth-century wooden desk, feverishly writing this all down with…

Presbytery Sermon

My wife and I have known each other since we were 13 years old.  We dated all through high school and were together until a bad breakup our freshman year of college.  

That breakup lasted five years.  We were still in love with each other, but had traveled life for so long apart that the idea that we might one day travel together wasn't even a possibility in our minds.

But all that changed one night that probably should have never happened.

My wife decided to try to call me on a whim, but she didn't know where I lived or what I was doing.  And she didn't have a number for me.  It was the five year reunion of our high school graduating class that year, and she had heard that I wasn't doing all that well in life.

So she called my mom.

Of course my mom gave her my phone number, and she called me that night.  I just so happened to be home alone when she called.  We had one of those old fashioned answering machines that had cassette tapes, and that you could listen to the voice …

In The Beginning - Week Two: "Creation Pt. 2"

This week we are continuing our sermon series entitled "In The Beginning" a study of the first few chapters of Genesis and the story of Creation.  

Before we get started today, I need everyone to do me a favor and draw something. You have paper in front of you, so pick it up and take just a few moments and draw the first thing that comes to mind. 

I'll wait. 

Now that you've had a chance to sketch something--share it with the person next to you.  
Now I want you to look at your neighbors sketch, and say the following with some measure of enthusiasm:  "I don't know if it's art, but I like it!"

Why did we just do that?  

Because I have a point I need to make, and I needed you to connect with your inner kindergartner, which is how some of you felt right then as you tried to draw.  Some years ago, I conducted a scientific poll of a group of kindergartners.  I asked a whole group of them this question:  How many of you are artists?

Guess how many of them raised…

Ending the Cycle

Today's devo is from the archives--one that I stumbled across the other day, and felt like it needed to be re-sent.  I know that over half of our subscribers have never seen this one before, and those of us who have probably need a fresh read of it.  Blessings.  

I can't even count how many times in my life I have had negative encounters with people, who unleashed upon me a diatribe, angry criticism, personal attacks and the like.    

I also can't count how many times I have thought of something awesome to say to the person who is attacking me after they've unleashed their venom and then walked away. 

You know how that feels, right?  Whether it's moments or a day later, the thing you should  have said comes to you, and you find yourself saying, "Oh my gosh!  I wish I had said that!"  

There was one time in my life were I said exactly what I wanted to say to someone who had attacked me publicly.  It was when I was an assistant manager at Best Buy and another m…

If You Ain't First, You're Last

I am about to share something with you that is deeply personal and vulnerable.  Once I share this, many of you may find that you either have something new and wonderful in common with me.  Or not.  

Here goes:  One of my favorite movies is Will Ferrell's Talladaga Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. 

Don't judge.  Remember what Jesus said about when you judge others, you get judged by the same measure.  I bet you've got a movie or two that you just love (like Ernest Goes To Camp, for example) that would make the rest of us go, "Huh?"

In Talladaga Nights, Will Ferrell's character Ricky Bobby is a NASCAR race car driver, who falls on hard times.  For his entire life he's held to a motto he heard from his ne'er do well father when he was a child:  "If you ain't first, you're last."  

When he's finally reunited with his father, Ricky Bobby has this exchange with him about that life motto: 

Ricky Bobby: Wait, Dad. Don’t you remember the tim…

Summer Solstice

When I was a kid, summer was like magic.  During those summers long ago, I would wake up in the morning with a rush of possibility.  There would be this fierce sense of joy that would fill my chest as I contemplated the day to come.  

And those days would last so long, wouldn't they?  When I was young I wanted to wring every bit if adventure out of those summer days and nights.  I would stay outside as long as I could---until it was almost too dark to see.  

One memory seems to stand out for me today--it's one that I've brought to mind over and again throughout my life.  

In my mind's eye I can see myself at age 10, catching fireflies with my cousins in the gathering South Carolina dusk.  My parents are young--younger than I am now.  My grandmother, four uncles and my aunt are alive and laughing.  

It was a holy moment, and it is a gift to be able to recall it with such vivid detail.  

In the New Testament, there is a Greek word that gets used to describe holy time: the wor…

10 Years

A little animated video showed up in my Facebook feed this morning, informing me that I have now been on Facebook for 10 years.  I first joined on June 20, 2007. 

Ten years ago, I was not yet 40 years old, and had just stepped into the role of interim pastor of the church were I had been ordained as an associate.  

Merideth and I were praying fervently about whether God was calling us to leave Florida or to stay.  

My oldest son Jay was in seventh grade at the time, and his brother Jackson had just turned two. My youngest son Jacob was not yet a twinkle in anyone's eye.  

A lot has happened in those ten years.  And as I look back on it all, I am overwhelmed by the unbelievably complicated, intricate way in which God has been at work in my life throughout the last decade. 

It's dizzying to think of all of the winding paths I've taken, the circumstances that just fell into place, the too-perfect coincidences that have been a part of my journey in stumbling after Jesus.  

It hasn&#…