Friday, February 4, 2011


I have decided to move my blog. Well, not really my blog. This blog is not moving. It is, however, time for me to move on.

I first started this blog when I was in Richmond training to assimilate to life overseas. It was a means to update the folks back home about my adventures overseas. When I first got back to the States, I thought about disbanding the blog altogether because there was no exciting spiritual adventure to be had. This in turn became an indictment primarily because there was no exciting spiritual adventure to be had. We all have a story to write and I was not writing mine well.

The blog has really become more of an accountability that I should be living in such a way that it can be written down. So, I have tried to write, though unsuccessful in consistency, what I have been learning, how I have been growing here in North Carolina. This has been fun though I feel that my thoughts communicated on this web page have run its course. I have my partner, my bride, my best friend to share a story with. I am glad to be writing with her now. My wife, Susan, and I have decided to join our blogs into one. Maybe this way we can be more consistent. (That and she is an awesome writer for which I hope to benefit by association).

It is good and right to end this blog on the four year anniversary of the first unforgettable day of our orientation in Richmond, where I met the dearest of brothers, and most of all my beautiful bride. Awakethedawn will always be an encouragement for me to meet each and every morning with a fervor to fight to see God’s glory in every moment. I hope that it defined me in this blog as I hope it will define me in the next blog.

I realize that this post could be a bit narcissistic considering there are all of two of you who check this, of whom I probably could either call you up to let you know I have a new blog or just walk over to your place and tell you to your face. Either way, if someone comes here on accident or even if one has a true desire to read about what is going on in our lives it can be done at

Thank you for all those who kept up with me over the years and have earnestly prayed for me by checking this blog. Please continue to pray. We are desperate for His grace and for your intercession.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Charity: A Hermeneutic Goal

I just completed a class on the History of the Interpretation of the Old Testament. It was fascinating and surprisingly very edifying. The class was a weeklong intensive from 8 to 5 with a lot of reading in preparation of the class. When I told people about the class I received blank stares or pats on the shoulder as if to console me in a time of mourning. I haven’t gotten my grade back yet so I might need the consoling pat later, but as for now I am still encouraged by what I learned.

When I came to seminary I wanted to learn what was right. I wanted to open the Word and come to the right meaning. I took a class on hermeneutics (interpretation) and thought this would train me well enough for that purpose. What I found in me, however, was more of a desire to be right than in knowing the Author of Scripture. Finding the correct or orthodox meaning of a text is of the utmost importance but it cannot stop there.

The person who came to help me the most was the African Bishop of Hippo, Saint Augustine. It is insane to think about how much he accomplished and how much he influenced not only Christianity but philosophy in the West for hundreds of years. Augustine is known mostly for his theology, but my boy was even a Baller in hermeneutics.

Augustine’s “method” of interpretation is not all that original and he employs allegory, which leads to crazy conclusions to the modern eye. What is beautiful and freeing about Augustine is to see this man with the most brilliant mind be affected so much by his pastoral heart. When he came to Scripture his main goal of expositing a text was to promote charity (or love) to God and to his fellow man. Echoing the beautiful twofold commandment given by Jesus Christ he extended it to every aspect of his life, particularly interpreting the Bible.

Here are some Money Quotes regarding his interpretation of the Bible:

“All of Scripture concerns love; it is the upper part of the heavens because the heart that loves ascends to God. The work of interpretation has one task. Out of the holy page has no other end than love”

"So if it seems to you that you have understood the divine scriptures, or any part of them, in such a way that by this understanding you do not build up this twin love of God and neighbor, then you have not yet understood them"

If I am only extracting a certain truth from Scripture without stirring my affections for the LORD and for others then I am incomplete in my task. I have not reached the goal of hermeneutics. When Augustine opened the Scriptures he did not look to find himself, but he looked to find His Savior. It was this fervent pursuit to find God that Augustine was stirred to deep affectionate love for his Creator and fellow man.

This has changed the way I have viewed my hermeneutical goal. I have a new and deeper goal. I pray that the Holy Spirit will not only show me the truth in Scripture, but that He will stir me to charity.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Marriage: A Portrait of the Gospel

Susan and I just celebrated our one-year anniversary. I am among all men most blessed to have someone like Susan as my beautiful bride. She is the more than I could have ever imagined, or as Matt Chandler likes to say, I out punted my coverage.

I had previously posted about marriage last January when we were only three weeks in. I can honestly say though it was good then it has gotten even better, deeper, and more genuine.

Most people said the first year would be horrible so we didn’t have the highest expectations going in. We were happily surprised that this was not the case, and though by the good Lord’s grace it has been anything but that, I see how it could be that way. Place two desperate sinners of different genders in the same house and it is not going to be sunshine everyday.

I asked a friend of mine who had just had just celebrated his first year of marriage how the first year was. His answer was “Sanctifying”. Maybe it was too early on for me to practically grasp what he meant by that.

The hardest part of marriage has been how much my own selfishness has been vividly manifest. I have always been selfish but marriage put a mirror in front of me that I could not ignore. Of course selfishness being only one of the many revealed vices. Marriage is sanctifying because it forces me to deal with that which causes not only my wife to grieve, but also the Holy Spirit.

From Scripture we are taught that marriage must be portrait of the Gospel (Ephesians 5:32). How I love my wife should point to how Christ loves the church. Christ gives the perfect example how to love perfectly with no reservations. Love is more than feelings. It is a covenant that calls us to be more like Christ, love like Christ, die like Christ. O, how I fall short of this!

The Gospel becomes not only my motivation for how I should love my wife, but it is also the means by which I will love my wife. God loves me without condition and calls me to do the same and by the power of the Holy Spirit he empowers me able to love well.

I could not be happier with my life with Susan. It is wonderful and beautiful in every way. Convincing her to marry me has been and always will be my greatest accomplishment. I am, however, realizing more and more that marriage is not about me or about my happiness. It is the Gospel lived out for those to see. It is a portrait of grace, forgiveness, and charity.

One year has been amazing and I am confident it will only get better. Yet, even if we face hardships, I pray that the Gospel will always be our goal and our means. Though it doesn’t always look like it should, we must continue to behold His glory so that we can transform more into his likeness. Only by His grace have we gotten this far and by grace we will endure in the joy that is set before us.

I will leave you with this money quote from my boy Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“It’s not your love that will sustain your marriage but your marriage that will sustain your love.”

I love you Susan. Happy Anniversary

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Social Network

Susan and I went and saw the new movie, The Social Network. The movie seemed interesting enough to see eventually, but after seeing four-star reviews as a norm among the critics I was moved to see it at the theatre. It was a good movie in the sense of how it was made, but it was dark and left very little redeemable value. What fascinated me about the movie is that it was about this recent phenomenon, the social network. I have been a member of Facebook maybe since 2004, when my roommate Greg Rogers created accounts for my other roommates and me without our consent. It felt at the time and I am almost more certain of it now, that it was a weird thing and a thing that lived and breathed on the hype of the masses.

After seeing the movie, the Social Network, though definitely not a factual story, I feel more aware of the attractiveness. At the core of us all we want to belong, to be a part of something, but naturally this involves the exclusion of others. In essence, if everyone belonged then no one would belong. The very idea of exclusion is what appeals to our nature, and it is driven by comparison to our peers. I remember when Facebook was only for those in universities. Auburn, at the time, was one of the universities included, and I must admit that I was part of something unique and I to some degree reveled in it. I remember when Facebook was expanded to high schools and then later to any and all who desire to have a Facebook account. There came this feeling that it was no longer unique or “cool”. It had lost much of its appeal to me because it was no longer exclusive.

What is fascinating to me is the brilliance of Facebook to keep attracting people. It almost seems that it is now using the famous “everyone’s doing it” tactic and it is working. Don’t get me wrong; I think there is nothing intrinsically wrong in Facebook or the social network. I think it is amoral, a tool that can be used for good and for bad. Obviously, I still have Facebook, but like anything I must be careful.

The sad consequence of the booming social network, though, is that it is causing our interpersonal relationships to suffer. I have many a friend who will be more into Twitter and Facebook on their phone than the conversation that is happening in person. A USA Today article states that people are more open with their personal life in a public sphere on the Internet than within their groups of people they interact with daily. The problem with the social network is that it fosters an artificial community that makes us feel like we belong but lacks genuine accountability to who we truly are in our daily lives. This is not to say that we cannot or do not hide in real life. It is to say that we have empowered our hiding and created an artificial feeling of belonging that promotes narcissism.

The redeemable aspect of the movie, The Social Network, the “take home” so-to-speak, is the grim lesson that the main character learned. In gaining all these artificial friends via the internet, he gave up the one genuine relationship he had. People throughout the movie started becoming friends with him because of his success or brilliance, but never for who he was, and you can see it takes its toll on him. The movie might as well be a parable to our generation whose identity is wrapped up in the ability and the availability to communicate what we want others to think about us without having to live up to it. All the while, neglecting the beautiful souls who are right in front of us. True community can be had, but I doubt it can ever be genuinely had via the internet.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I came across a beautiful truth as I was reading a book on grammar by Richard Young for my Greek class. I want to say it was a riveting read but it was pretty technical and I found myself rereading pages just to fully grasp the minute details. There was, however, one passage in a chapter on sentence structure that surprisingly stirred me. The passage was explaining the idea of “prominence” as the “state of standing out from the surroundings so as to be easily noticed.”

What caught my eye the most was the statement: “If all parts of a discourse are equally prominent, total unintelligibility results. The result is like being presented with a piece of black paper and being told, ‘This is a picture of black camels crossing black sands at midnight.’” So in essence, “We can only perceive something if it stands out from its background.”

I have thought often about this idea of contrast and how it is through contrast that we are able to perceive many truths. The main contrast that this brings to mind is that of good and evil. This is by no means an essay on why evil exists but rather a mere reflection on its existence in light of the existence of good.

In this world every human being has an idea of good and evil. Like the range of colors with its varying degrees of intensity, so it is with a range from good to evil. Some things can be viewed even as morally neutral or indifferent. There is an idea present in all of us of the two extremes from good to evil. We see figures in history like Hitler as the epitome of evil and Mother Teresa as the epitome of good.

I could totally be wrong about this, but we have a clearer idea of what is good because we have the contrast of evil. Evil makes good prominent. The good stands out from the bad like a candle that lights up a dark room.

Though contrast helps reveal what is prominent, the contrast only helps us to see the reality. The contrast does not make it the reality. A candle in a well-lit room won’t be as prominent as in a dark room but it burns regardless. In the same way, God’s goodness doesn’t depend on the contrast because it is true in and of itself. But when we rightly reflect on our own sinful nature, and the evil that is in the world, the thing most prominent is God’s goodness and holiness.

It is easy to compare good with evil and to see that great divide. But how I believe all should see it, the most glorious contrast is God to everything else. Even the best thing in this world would fail to compare to His glory. In all things God is not only prominent but he is also preeminent. This is the beautiful contrast.

Though it is right and good to recognize how God is contrasted with the world, let our lives correspond to that knowledge, being salt and light, living for Jesus Christ who has transformed and is transforming us into His image. My prayer is that others can see the contrast of those who believe in the Resurrection and the rest of the world, all to the Glory of His Name.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I read an interesting article by Jeff Pearlman today concerning the recent plight of Roger Clemens. He writes,

No, the vanity is what, one must think, brought Clemens to this dreaded point in his life; the belief that throwing a baseball -- a random act somehow deemed valuable by our society -- is important and powerful and worthy of great riches and praise and status.”

It is interesting because in our society, in our culture, in our nature there is something very troubling, though very subtle, about how we idolize athletes. I grew up playing sports, loving sports, and even loving to hate the rival teams. Riding the emotional roller coaster it became addictive. But when I was overseas and no one there knew anything about my favorite basketball team, let alone how many national championships they had, and before I knew it, the identity connected with a certain team, sport, athlete, came obsolete. For this I am grateful for it freed me.

We praise athletes for being able to run fast, throw hard, jump high, without giving much value to what is truly valuable in life. We pack stadiums to watch college kids run back forth on a field to the point that sports have become our identity.

I don’t know Roger Clemens personally so I cannot judge if he is proud or not. I know that he has been a phenomenal athlete throughout his brilliant career. My mom and I used to look forward to watching him play and we thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his work ethic. It was most impressive the longevity of his career. I must admit that I admired him for his athletic ability the same way I admired Michael Jordan in his “greatness” on the basketball court.

I don’t think it is wrong to appreciate a competitor like Clemens or Jordan, like I don’t think it is wrong to appreciate a brilliant musician. But I don’t know these men personally, and I wonder if I don’t give the credit due to the men and women in my life that are excellent in being good husbands and wives, in being good at their jobs day in and day out without praise.

How does one define greatness? Is it how well someone can play a particular sport? Or does greatness take on different characteristics?

If I had to truly weigh what is important in life I would come to the conclusion that the men and women I do know who love the Lord and live for Him faithfully have earned my respect infinitely far more than a man who throws an incredible fastball, whom I don’t even know.

Maybe greatness lies in the one who is a servant. The one who loves their enemies. The one who chooses to humble themselves so others can take the seat of honor.

I believe that I read that somewhere. I also believe that it is right and true.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Christianity and the Art of Moped Maintenance

Susan and I spent the summer in Wynne, Arkansas. Never growing up did I sit back and imagine myself having the best time in Arkansas. I grew up in Alabama and it is just best to go East from there. Little did I know that while I was imagining being in romantic places (maybe only romantic for us) like Turkey, Oregon, or China, the Lord had prepared for us joy overflowing in a little town in northeast Arkansas with a population of 8,000.

This is a short reflection on our short time with the amazing community of believers in Wynne, AR.

It was no easy thing to pick up and leave for the summer. Now that I am a semi-adult this kind of thing is getting more and more difficult. There are jobs, bills, and many other factors to consider. When I first heard about this opportunity I thought that we would soon know shortly if God wants us to do this by making it possible for us to leave given all our responsibilities. God answered our prayers and made it abundantly clear that this was obedience for us for this season. And despite our reticence, we knew it better to obey.

Our job for the summer was to disciple the youth at First Baptist Wynne under the leadership of Uncle Randy Presley. It was light on logistics and heavy on relationships for which I was most grateful. We had always talked about doing discipleship, small groups, and just being very relational in our approach to ministry but it was still a learning process for us as well.

How do we teach and lead in such a way that will empower these youth to teach and lead others? How do we make leaders instead of followers?

We asked these questions and many more as we poured into these kids. We wanted to show them how to be intentional with everything they did. To use their God given talents and every day opportunities and see them as resources God has entrusted them for the Kingdom. We also wanted to be relational instead of programmatic. We took them to lunch, we went running together, we went on trips together.

We did life together.

Though this seems “radical” I believe with all that I am that this is the model Christ first gave us. Light on logistics and heavy on relationships. Almost counter intuitive. Christ poured into a small group of guys and did everything together with them. He not only showed them how to do life but He did life with them.

I pray that we had some lasting impact on the youth, but in all honesty, I believe we were the most affected during this summer. God challenged us, encouraged us, and just spoke to every part of our being. The community of believers in Wynne was absolutely incredible as they poured into Susan and me. We had the greatest pleasure and joy being a part of the Body of Christ in Wynne, AR. They are the most amazing people and I am thankful to gain such deep brothers and sisters in Christ.

My prayer now is that we live out in Wake Forest what we learned and taught in Wynne.


The last part of the summer I finally started using the moped that is owned by the church. Though I fell the first time, I got the hang of it and it has almost sold me on buying one of my own someday. Randy’s youngest, Margaret Ann, had nothing for me the whole summer. But in the last week I finally, by God’s good grace, won her over. She started to ask for me and actually smiled in lieu of crying when I walked in a room. The greatest thing is that now whenever she sees a motorcycle or a moped she will say my name. That is victory enough for me.