I’ve heard about some ugly church meetings before (when you’re in seminary as long as I was you hear “war stories” like this). But this church meeting in North Carolina evidently got it on! Interesting that our church is currently working through 1 Corinthians, which was a pretty messed up church itself. In fact, yesterday’s message from chapter 5, where Paul admonishes the church for airing their disputes in the local courts via lawsuits and such, which smears the name of Christ and the witness of the church. So while we can look at this story from North Carolina and be tempted to smirk, in reality it’s a sad and ugly situation.
Last Sunday I had the unexpected opportunity to preach at Crossway Fellowship, the Sovereign Grace church in Athens, GA. As I told them, I was a stand in for the stand in while their pastor was away. It was a last-minute opportunity that I was at once excited and stressed about. I preached the 1 Peter message I preached in our church two months ago. In my view it was adequate not great, but the people were very encouraging and it seems that, in God’s providence, the text and message spoke into a number of people’s present circumstances, so I’m very grateful.
We had a wonderful time there. The people just blew us away with their earnest warmth and hospitality. The fellowship was rich and fun – it was as if we’d been there a long time. We left feeling full in a good way (and also full because of a fun lunch at Barberito’s after the meeting).
It was the first time I’d been in Athens in probably a decade. I spent a decent amount of time there for various reasons as a teenager, but not lately. It’s still a quintessential college town, but there is noticeable and significant growth (I’d heard that, but it was still interesting to see). It is not just a college town anymore. Keri had never been, so it was nice to show her around a bit – including driving around UGA and letting her see Sanford Stadium. (Football season is approaching fast and we all know who’s ranked #1!).
I envision a series of posts entitled “Stuff I Like” that includes random glimpses into fairly mundane things that I happen to like and enjoy. After all, a blog is in some ways a diary – a catalog of events one can look back on, a glimpse inside my life and, scarier still, my brain.
One thing I like is an easy-to-miss little joint called JuJu’s Mediterranean Bistro. One day while Keri and the boys were meeting her mom for lunch, I was driving by and spontaneously decided to give it a shot. I wasn’t sure it was even open. I walked in and heard the Middle Eastern pop music and knew I’d like the place. Turns out it was just me and JuJu herself, a Lebanese lady in her 50s (?) who does the cooking. She was really friendly and showed me great hospitality – she was really working hard to sell me on the place, and she was successful.
Yes, JuJu’s is great. So far I haven’t made it past stuffed grape leaves (there’s a fancier name I can’t pronounce and wouldn’t dream of spelling), a chicken shawarma sandwich, and fatoush. There’s much more I’d like to try. My greatest concern was whether or not the place could survive. Last week I returned for lunch with my friend Paul and was happy to see other customers.
I’m not a food critic, so here’s a review from someone who apparently is. But I encourage you to give it a shot.
Just a quick post to indicate that the blog (and I) live!
Life has been busy, but of course everyone is busy. I’ve begun a new job selling health insurance with my dad, so have been busy trying to get up to speed in that endeavor. (So if you need health insurance/HSA or term life insurance…) I’m also still leading our care group at church, which also takes up time but is a lot of fun. The boys are very challenging and/or lots of fun, depending on the moment. Asa spends most of his time moving at full-throttle and talking our ears off. Eli’s favorite hobby is kicking his legs up and down. If you missed it, he’s six months old now.
One of these days I’ll get some pictures up here… maybe this weekend? We’ll see.
About two weeks ago Keri and I enjoyed a rare chance to head out to a movie thanks to a gift card from work, so we saw Will Smith’s Pursuit of Happyness. It was not a bad movie, but was not as good as we had hoped. If you haven’t seen it, wait and rent it rather than shelling out the money at the cinema. What excited me much more than the feature presentation was the preview for a film called Amazing Grace, which is a biopic of William Wilberforce.
If you’re not familiar with William Wilberforce, now is a good time to meet him. He was a rising star in the British parliament in the eighteenth century whose career took a dramatic turn soon after he converted to Christianity. The singular focus of his career in Parliament was his unrelenting quest to end the British slave trade. Over decades he endured great opposition and lived to see his cause succeed. It also seems that John Newton figures prominently in the film as a friend who influenced Wilberforce over the years. Newton, of course, was a former slave trader who later converted to Christianity and is best remembered for compsosing the hymn “Amazing Grace” – hence the film’s name.
The movie is set to open on February 23rd – the time was chosen to mark the bicentennial of the abolition of British slavery. To their credit, the filmmakers are hoping that the movie will remind people that slavery still exists in some parts of the world to this day. For a couple of years I’ve had a biography of Wilberforce, A Hero for Humanity, by Kevin Belmonte, on my bookshelf. I’ve begun reading it in anticipation of the film. Belmonte, in fact, was the chief historical consultant for the project. I sure hope that the film does not minimize or completely disregard Wilberforce’s conversion and the Christian worldview and conviction that undergirded and motivated his heroic efforts.
Obviously, I’m really looking forward to this movie.