Headlines from First Thoughts

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Last week, Parker, Kelly's dad, and I were walking on the beach. Parker wanted to show me a very large sandcastle that looked like a foot inside a beach sandle. After walking 25 feet or so, he remembered that jellyfish were washing ashore on the beach. He saw them the last time he walked to the sandcastle.

"I don't want to get stung by jellyfish," he screamed.

I assured him, "It's ok, just hold my hand; we won't walk on the jellyfish."

"No, I'm s-c-a-r-e-d of jellyfish," he said, voice trembling.

Kelly's dad offered a solution: "Parker, just walk in my footprints. I'll walk down the beach, and you walk where behind me where my footprints are."

As Parker followed his Papa very deliberately, I was reminded of how we relate to Christ. We walk where he has already been. His footprints have plenty of room for all of our missteps. He safely maneuvers past the jellyfish of life. We do not miss out on all the pain, but by walking in his footprints, somehow the difficulties of life do not seem quite as severe.

We arrived at the sandcastle, and it was still intact. A discovery together because we were willing to step safely together.

Strangers Among Us

What is the Baptist position on immigration? I'm not sure there is one. I do know that as long as America has been a nation of immigrants, those who are already here have spent a good deal of time and energy debating who else should be allowed into the country.

Because Jesus had an affinity for strangers, Baptists do too. As we deal with immigration nationally, here are some guiding principles for thinking about these newcomers locally.

1.) The best thing we can offer immigrants is the love of Christ. The first step to empowering someone to be a fully functioning member of society is to invite them to a relationship with Christ. No matter how someone arrived in our country, we are to be witnesses, in Judea, Samaria, and even when the uttermost parts of the earth come to us. We're attempting to do that through our Latino church locally.

2.) New residents in the states need holistic compassion. It's not enough to pray with someone and send them out the door. We need to be Christ's agents in transforming relationships. One woman we have ministered to at First Baptist Knoxville was undocumented and needed a heart valve replacement. We visited her in the hospital, helped her find resources to pay for the surgery, and have cared for her through her Spanish-speaking Sunday School class. It's been a team effort among staff, laypeople, and concerned citizens. She's back on Wednesday evenings learning English and active on Sunday mornings in Bible study.

3.) Education is the key to a deeper relationship with Christ and society. When someone receives and education, they can tap into resources never thought possible. Through ESOL, Sunday School, and other programs, we can educate immigrants and share with them the gift of knowledge.

As we debate immigration nationally, don't miss out on the opportunities to live your faith personally.

Brady Ball

Coach Brady is at it again. The basketball wizard of LSU, who came from the likes of Bellhaven College, and led the Samford program when I was just a student there, is now getting long-deserved accolades.

He knows how to coach. When in doubt, he disrupts the opponents' rhythm. At Samford, he ran an offense that befuddled everyone--even the fans, at times. He brought his crew to Baylor and won one of their tournament games, if I'm not mistaken. The sports editor tried to pay him compliment by calling his team "scrappy." He doesn't like for his team to be called scrappy, and he had some choice Mississippi words for the editor. In this year's tournament, he's outcoached the likes Coach K, arguably the best in the tournament.

When he was hired LSU, the skeptics were out again. After all, who would want to follow Dale Brown? Could John Brady get LSU back to glory? The doubters aren't talking now.

He's an even better role model: hard worker, stable, and willing to challenge his players. Even if he does not win another game, he has demonstrated what we Samfordites knew all along. His persistence has made him who he is today, and no one is calling this LSU team "scrappy."

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