One of today’s great puzzles is how many of the people who live “in the land of the free and the home of the brave” can feel so repressed and constrained. How can that be? How can so many Americans feel so restrained, especially in light of how unless one is literally in prison or on probation, he or she is able to go and do pretty much whatever he or she wants? And yet, there are many today who feel anything but free.
If you were a child during the last part of the 20th century or you had children, then you are more than familiar with the name Fred Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers, the star of the PBS television show, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” With his cardigan sweater and his comfortable sneakers, Mr. Rogers regaled us children and adults with his puppets and music and excursions into the Land of Make Believe. But most of all, Mr. Rogers drew us into his neighborhood by receiving us “just the way we are.”
In the concluding verses of each New Testament epistle penned by the Apostle Paul he states his desire to revisit the churches he helped establish so that they might be inspired by his presence and encouraged by his teaching. Some churches Paul was able to get back to; others he did not. But the letters remind us of how much those churches meant to Paul, especially during his latter years when he found himself imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel.
Part of the heritage of Mountain Brook Baptist Church is the privilege God has given us to have been a training ground for some of the finest young ministers in Baptist life. Because our church is an example of strong faithfulness and spiritual health we have groomed many a young minister for effective ministry in congregations near and far. Without a doubt, creating a “culture of call” not only refers to those young persons who have grown up in MBBC; it also encompasses those whom we have invited to join us for a season, who having fulfilled God’s call to our church have moved on to other places to advance God’s Kingdom purposes in our world.
One of the best indications of emotional and spiritual health is our desire to make a difference in life. Regardless of one’s state or occupation, a life of significance is a most worthy ambition. Unfortunately, living in such fashion requires a person to take some risks. No one can achieve anything without moving out of his comfort zone or stretching herself in uncomfortable ways.
I wore flip flops and shorts to church last Sunday, something I haven’t done since leading youth retreats back in college. Judy and I attended church at the beach, a small, enthusiastic congregation formed some 20 years ago to offer a witness to the beach crowd that descends on Navarre every vacation season.
My sabbatical leave begins this coming Sunday. As I’ve written earlier, I see this opportunity as a “time out, time off, and time away.” My hope is that I’ll return more revigorated for the work that we have before us at MBBC. But while I’m away there are some things I’d ask you to do.
My sabbatical begins in a couple of weeks and I make no apologies for looking forward to the “time out, time off, and time away.” It’s almost as if my soul senses the approaching leave and I realize how I am more spiritually spent than I ever knew.
For more than a century, the majestic statue, “Liberty Enlightening the World,” better known as the Statue of Liberty has towered over Bedloe’s Island (now Liberty Island) in New York Harbor as a symbol of the many freedoms we enjoy in the United States. Many of you have been to the island and have toured the national park associated with it. As you are aware, the famous statue was a gift from the people of France in appreciation for America’s contributions to the spirit of independence that lies deep in every human heart,
One of my favorite games as a child was “May I?” You probably remember the game. You would position yourself in one place and at a distance would be another person, whose role in the game was to give you commands as to the steps you would need to take to close the gap between the two of you. The person would invite you to take either a “giant step” or a “baby step.” Obviously, everyone on the receiving end relished the giant steps. The “catch” of the game was that before you took the assigned step, you had to respond, “May I?” If you gave the right response, you were allowed to take the step assigned. If you didn’t, you had to go all the way back to the starting point. Needless to say, only the patient souls made it to the other side. The impatient ones inevitably found themselves in an embarrassingly constant cycle of retreat.