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Peace and Quiet

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Farewell Union County

    When our U-Haul arrived on Wesley Chapel Road in January of 2008, it was just Alicia, me, and our dog. I had been called to serve as Pastor of Students at Philippi Baptist Church. We had big dreams, and we were excited to see what God had in store for us. I was two days shy of twenty-three years old.    Almost fifteen years later, we find ourselves packing up once again. We have outgrown the small U-Haul, and that old house. Our daughter became a teenager this year, and our son is three weeks shy of turning nine. Union County is all they know. They have gone to school here, played soccer and took dance lessons here. Their whole lives have been spent here, and nearly half Alicia’s and mine have been as well.    That is what makes leaving so difficult. Our eight years at Philippi and six years at Putman have introduced us to so many wonderful people that have become like family. As we pack our belongings into boxes I cannot help but reflect on the memories that we will also take with

Whatever

    I recently heard that there is an annual survey conducted to determine the most annoying word of the year. For multiple years running (I didn’t catch how many) the people have spoken and deemed “whatever”as the word they least like to hear.    People don’t like this word because it is usually said with a bad attitude. When two people get into an argument and one has run out of things to say, they just sigh loudly and say, “whatever.” It is a word of indifference; rather than thinking of something even remotely clever, we just shrug and utter this tired cop out.    But whatever doesn’t have to be an annoying word. It has the potential to do the opposite; it can lead us to rejoice. It can be freeing rather than frustrating. Consider how Paul used the word.   Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise

Paul the Parent

    The Apostle Paul never had any biological children, but that didn’t stop him from comparing himself to a parent. He famously called Timothy his son in the faith, but he also used the analogy of both a mother and father when he wrote to the church in Thessalonica.     After defending his ministry in their city, Paul reminded them of how he conducted himself. First he wrote, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children (I Thessalonians 2:7).” The language used here has been used elsewhere to describe a mother bird covering her eggs with her feathers, protecting her young. The Greek phrase literally means “to warm with body heat.”    This is about as hands on as you can get. Paul was not some scholar locked away in his ivory tower. He shared more than the gospel, he shared himself. Like a mother nursing her dependent infant, Paul generously and humbly gave of himself to meet the needs of the young church. In the next verse he says he was “affect

6:66

    The number 666 has come to be associated with anything evil or relating to the end of the world. This triple six is associated with the Antichrist because Revelation 13:8 says the beast has some sort of cryptic number: “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” This code has been hotly debated for centuries, and I do not aim to weigh in on what I think the Apostle John was trying to convey; the reality is that the prophecy will make sense only to those who are alive to watch it unfold.    Rather than attempting to crack the mysterious code, I want to focus on the number itself. People are always looking in every nook and cranny to find recurring sixes, and then branding that thing as the mark of the beast. For all that we do not understand, we all seem to agree that 666 is bad. So I thought it would be fun to look at the only verse in the Bible that is a 6:66, and that is found

Planetary Motion

    Just like Earth, the other planets in our solar system are always in motion. The strong  gravitational force of the sun pulls the planets towards it, causing them to move in an elliptical pattern in their revolutions.     When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, he compared certain people to planets. The fourth chapter of the book begins with these words: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.”    You probably didn’t see any comparison to planets in that verse, but it is there. The Greek word translated as  deceitful  gives us the English word planet. These deceitful spirits have already wandered from the truth, and now their goal is to cause others to wander as well. In the end times people will listen to the deceptive words of these demons, and will follow them rather than the true words of Christ.    Evil spirits are wanderers. They don’t hold still, but move in t

Delilah’s Lap

  The story of Samson and Delilah is one of the most intriguing in Scripture. Samson’s weakness for women is displayed in his first marriage, and then his rendezvous with a lady of the night in Gaza. But when he met Delilah his weakness became a physical weakness.   Samson’s enemies, the Philistines, had spent years trying to subdue the man with superhuman strength, but he continually got the better of them, as he routinely wreaked havoc on their entire city. In Delilah Samson saw a beautiful woman, but the Philistines saw a golden opportunity. They promised to make her rich if she could find a way to enslave their bitter rival. And she tried. She asked him the secret of his strength. At first that may have appeared to be small talk, but even a bonehead like Samson should have realized that something was off.    The first time she asked, Samson told her that one only needed to bind his hands with seven fresh bowstrings, and then he would be like any average Joe. He drifted off to sleep