Anyone familiar with Effingham County sports knows well the friendly but passionate rivalry between Effingham County High School and South Effingham High School in many sports. On grass fields, hardwood courts, clay diamonds, wrestling mats, dirt running trails, and asphalt courts the best of Effingham's teenage athletes battle for the title of county champs.
You've bet your life, and right now you are playing out your hand. In fact, with every day that passes you "up the ante," having invested another 24 hours in your wager. The problem is that the bet is for your spiritual and eternal life.
I have certainly heard the lament of Christian leaders who assert that we are living in a "post-Christian" era. That may be. But what I am seeing is more "Christian-phobia" than anything suggesting Christian beliefs, morals, and values are obsolete. The latest installment comes from Pennsylvania.
If you've been in Effingham more than a few decades, you've likely heard the refrain of long-time residents: "We gotta keep all those folks from Chatham from coming up here and messin' up our county." Crime and crowding are often key flashpoints in the conversation. On the other side are new residents who ask for a little grace, given the fact that they are paying taxes and increasing the property values of those long-time residents and landowners.
Even in a place as ordinary as Larry's Deli in Rincon can eternal truths be spoken.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Septimius Severus, Roman emperor from 193 to 211 AD, was a psychopath and sociopath. Citizens in his empire who had religious views different from his, particularly Christians and Jews, were persecuted severely during his reign. He made Nero and Domitian look like Girl Scouts, sane ones.
During my seminary days, I wrote the following words in my notes. I believe I was studying an Orthodox priest at the time. So, these are likely a paraphrase of his thoughts. I have found them helpful in my Christian walk and have referred to them often. Unfortunately, when I review them I realize how much I fall short.
I write this having just said goodbye to the producer and camera crew of the TV show "Inside Edition." They contacted me a few weeks ago, asking for an interview about my biomechanics research on local weightlifter CJ Cummings.
Since the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, it has been an attraction for those wanting to commit suicide. Only 2 percent survive the jump. It is 220 feet down and when jumpers hit, they still have to contend with the cold, extremely swift water.
She felt nothing but sadness, though there was little in her life to warrant such sadness. She had trouble getting out of bed, yet even when she did, she could barely muster the energy to perform even the most basic daily chores. This troubled woman - a middle-aged graduate student who came to see me years ago - was in a black hole a mile deep and could see no way out.
When was the last time you felt desperate? When you do, consider the life of Georg Neumark.
We pastors are often accused of exaggerating the persecution of Christians around the world. But if you look closely, such persecution is growing at a rapid pace.
In my work facilitating support groups for people in crisis, I have become acutely aware that forgiveness promotes recovery. However, it's not just crises that bring about the need for forgiveness. I've seen many people who haven't been through tragedies look as if they are the "walking wounded."
Being a teen has never been easy, but being a teen in 2014 is especially tough with the epidemic of school shootings, cyber bullying, drug use, teen suicide and other serious issues throughout the country.
We are fortunate to live in a county rich with churches offering different opportunities for people to worship. Yet, we must be humble and honest enough to realize that often people who walk through our front doors see very imperfect organizations, and unfortunately that can turn them off to the whole idea of organized religion and church.
The television series "House of Cards" is an American political drama based on a BBC miniseries of the same name. The opening of season 1 set the stage for what were we to witness as the background of the political sphere. In that episode, congressman Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) kills a suffering dog with his bare hands while telling the television audience that sometimes we must "do the unpleasant thing, yet the necessary thing." And from then on out, the audience experiences the utter ruthlessness of politics as it is portrayed behind the scenes.
I make eggs for breakfast just about every morning, depending on how our chickens are feeling. And I have finally learned that if I talk too much between the time I take the eggs out of the pan and dig in at the table, my eggs will get cold.
Sadly, one indicator of Effingham's family-oriented growth has succumbed to economic pressure, and I for one will miss it. As some in the county may already know, Baibry's Coffee and Café in Rincon has closed its doors for good.
Training in Children Worship and Wonder, an exciting way of doing faith formation with children, will be held at Guyton Christian Church from March 13-15.
Of all the biblical prescriptions and proscriptions Christians often feel they struggle with, the commandment to forgive has got to be in the top three. Who among us doesn't feel even the least bit inadequate when considering these words from Colossians 3:13: "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye"?
This morning, as I was getting off I-95 at the Abercorn Extension exit, I came across a person asking for a handout. You can call them panhandlers or street people, I suppose; the Bible just calls them beggars.
This past week I spoke with a friend about encountering failure. His business was going south, and I reminded him of the many people who were able to use failure in a positive way, indeed some that would tell you their later success was precisely due to their experience of failure.
Recently, a little boy met Pope Francis and told him that he was sad over his dog dying. The father of the Roman Catholic Church reportedly told the boy that his companion will be waiting for him in heaven.
It's interesting, isn't it, how history repeats itself? Often, the similarities are not only remarkable but also ironic.
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