Archive for the 'Personal' Category

Published by Mark Morris on 30 Jan 2016

1 Peter 2 – Taste Him

Today as I reflected on events in the world and in my own life I was reminded of some guidance from 1 Peter 2. Whenever we read the Word we need to read it in context.

Keep it in Perspective

The hostile context of the recipients of 1 Peter reminds me that we need to keep all things in perspective. 1 Peter was written to first-century Christians who were under attack on all fronts, because of the gospel. The believers who read Peter’s epistle were discouraged, above and beyond the kind of discouragement and frustration you and I face as a result of illness, job changes, or relational trials, etc.  Those believers were attacked by persecution for their faith. I have seen persecution for faith firsthand and dare not compare that kind of persecution for witness under oppression to the normal difficulties associated with life after the Fall. The message of 1 Peter is directed to faithful witnesses under fatally hostile times, but that advice is timeless and applicable in many circumstances.

Let’s compare — As my wife went through three rounds of chemo over several years, we often reminded ourselves that compared to Jesus’ suffering for our sins, our temporary suffering was merely a painful inconvenience. It was a horrible experience in every way. We don’t minimize the horror of chemo and near-death battles that my wife faced on her journey of suffering and healing. However, we knew that she would be healed in this life, or in the next. Either now or later, her healing would be victorious and glorifying to Jesus. In suffering, we clung to God’s goodness and to the Living Hope of Jesus.

We must daily remember to keep a kingdom perspective on whatever trials we face. My troubles in this life have rarely been a result of persecution for my faith. My troubles in this life are temporary, limited and tiny in comparison to Jesus’ suffering or the brutal persecution of our brothers and sisters who have died as witnesses in hostile times and places.

Just Taste Him

The epistle of 1 Peter instructed believers to remember the taste of Jesus. Following some potent instructions (1:13-25) to be holy, and to fix our hope completely on the grace of Jesus, 1 Peter 2:4 instructs us to “come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious (ESV).”

He builds this instruction off the image in verse 2 of a newborn baby who tastes mother’s milk and whines and wails, yearning for the taste and the filling associated with that milk. Why should we yearn for the milk of the Lord? Because we have “tasted that the Lord is good.” Every challenge I’ve ever faced has drawn me to the tasty presence of the Lord. If Peter’s advice was good for Christians under the persecuting fires of first century faith, it’s good medicine for the small sufferings I face as a fallen man living in a fallen world.

I remember the taste of Jesus. I’ve experienced the nourishment — especially in challenging times. I need Him now more than ever.

Come to the Living Stone

We, as tiny stones, when assembled around the Living Stone are “built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, ESV). So my purpose and my joy and my strength and my hope is not in me, my company, my career, my success.  It’s in my connection to Him – the Living Stone.

I Peter 2:10 is a reminder that God chose a people who were not even a people. Kinda like me — I’m nothing and nobody apart from Jesus. The Israelites were nothing and God made them a people of blessing for all peoples. In spite of being nothing, “now you have received mercy (ESV).” That mercy is at the empty cross of the living Lord – the Living Stone.

Whatever you face — come to Jesus – the Living Stone.

 

More later on the living stone. 

 

Published by Magilicuty on 14 Jul 2013

Introducing John

For several weeks, we are going to hear from a long-time friend who I’ve watched mature over the years. I’m actually more of an uncle to him.

In the early 1990’s John’s parents joined me and my wife on a cross-cultural team in another country. Cindy and I have prayed for and supported John’s family over the years as they have lived and served in various settings.

As you read John’s articles, you will be drawn into life and ministry from the perspective of John and his friends who have grown and matured as Third Culture Kids. Several of the articles that John is writing are actually interviews with his friends, who like John are American.  Yet John and his friends have spent their developmental years surrounded by people and events outside the cultural norm of the United States of America – thus, we call them Third Culture Kids. These kids are American, but their perspective is not explicitly American. Instead, these “kids” filter life through different lenses.

Join me as we look at the world from the perspective of John and his Third Culture friends.

What follows is John’s self-introduction.

Mark Morris


From John M.

Hey guys,

I am excited for the opportunity to be involved with this site. I am a recently returning TCK (Third Culture Kid) who is now attending college here in the States. I was born in America to a God-centered family, who moved overseas early in my life, and gave me many opportunities to experience the world’s different cultures, people, and languages. I have grown up most of my life in predominantly Muslim countries, with some time in a Buddhist culture, as well as several years in Europe and North America.

During my time growing up, I’ve attended many different types of schools: public, private, boarding school, and home school. Currently I am an underclassman at college. I am seeking to live a life that honors God, and to intentionally focus relationships on the eternal.

Over this summer I hope to share with you some stories, and how it is these stories have impacted my relationship with God. I hope that you will join me in sharing how these stories impact our lives.

John Magilicuty

Central Asia

24 The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)

Published by Mark Morris on 23 Jun 2012

Not Embarrassed – Pleased

Yes, you heard me correctly. I’m coming away from the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention’s annual gathering Not Embarrassed.

I apologize for making the statement in the negative, but in light of some other annual gatherings, this expression is most appropriate.  Too often, the annual gathering of the largest protestant denomination leaves me with a mixed sense of gratitude and a bit of regret – honestly, downright embarrassment. But this year stood out from other conventions.

My sincere and profound gratitude for the SBC always grows out of our legacy of cooperative, Christ-centered local and global missions advance. I’m always excited to connect with great friends and partners in ministry.

I was excited this year that NAMB raised the bar to a new level in terms of creatively communicating their  mission and message in a setting other than the traditional reporting format; they offered a lunch with a powerful presentation – more effective than the usual business report that occurred late on Wednesday night, when most people had already departed for home.

I was moved by Tom Elliff’s IMB report that 1281 churches have decided to engage some of the remaining unreached unengaged peoples of the world.  As former IMB missionaries, my wife and I are always overcome with conviction and re-commitment to our Lord and Savior – posturing ourselves more strategically for radical obedience.

Unfortunately, the wonderful things about the SBC gathering are countered by sheepish, unspoken embarrassment – usually coming from some whacky resolution that slips through one of the more sparsely attended business sessions. The end result is usually a bitter-sweet taste in many Southern Baptist mouths. In the past, I would be embarrassed if my non-Christian friends were to hear about the contentious way in which Christians behave while “doing business.” In the past I would not want my non-believing friends to know about that one-off polarizing, non-essential, or even  nonsensical business item that surfaced.

In an article in The Commercial Appeal, James Patterson of Union University points out the Landmarkist influence that has been the source of some of my embarrassment. In the Baptist 21 panel, theologians young and old were reminded from representatives of two different theological views that the theological debate and tension is an important factor for denominations. Young pastors were  reminded that the debate needs to be lively but Christlike, even “sweet,” whether it is a debate over Calvinism vs. Arminianism, or a debate over ecclesiology or eschatology.

Al Mohler in his recent post, did a much better job than me in pointing out some of the reasons we celebrate this year’s convention. Personally I can confirm that this year was great and here are three specific examples of why I celebrate.

Fred Luter – I was in the assembly hall when thousands stood unanimously and waved their yellow ballots confirming the first African American president of this old denomination.  Fred Luter is a godly pastor who represents dramatic progress for the future of Southern Baptists. This one is personal for me, since I am the Associate Pastor of a three-year old African American congregation. My wife and I are the only Anglo’s in the congregation so this election makes an important statement to our church.

Great Commission Baptists – I am grateful that Southern Baptist leaders recognized and acted to overcome the barrier found in our historical, legal name. The SBC is no longer exclusively identified with a particular geography. The SBC, like the gospel that we preach, is not limited by location, ethnicity or culture.  Thus it is appropriate that longitude and  latitude yielded to an alternate nomenclature – Great Commission Baptists. What do Baptists who live south of the equator think when when we call ourselves Southern Baptists? What do we communicate in the Northeast or Northwest  when we say we are Southern Baptists? What do we communicate to my congregation of Black Americans when we said, “You can legitimately call yourselves Great Commission Baptists rather than Southern Baptists?”  To say the least, my African American pastor and church are pleased.  It will be easier in the African American community here in Memphis to talk about being a Great Commission Baptist church than to call ourselves a Southern Baptist church.  Thank you Southern Baptists for this wise decision.

Young Leaders – I am also grateful for a groundswell of young leaders who appeared at this convention. I attended a robust 9pm gathering of young leaders under the banner 9 Marks, as well as the Baptist 21 gathering of 1000 young leaders. After the Baptist 21 panel discussion I tapped Johnny Hunt and reminded him of a few years earlier when as President he made it a priority to pass the torch to young leaders. He had personally appealed to young pastors to facilitate change, to get involved, and to take leadership in their denomination. Thank you Johnny for calling these young pastors to participation. Thank you young leaders for being there and engaging relevant issues. I was excited to see that young leaders stood during business sessions and called Southern Baptists to wisdom.

So this article is my declaration that I am not embarrassed by any thing that I need to explain or overlook regarding actions of the SBC this year in New Orleans.  In fact, you could say that my feelings are not only not negative – but very positive.

So I leave New Orleans with a full tummy  (too much Mr. B’s barbecue shrimp and beignets from Cafe du Monde) and a full heart.

Published by Mark Morris on 24 Dec 2011

Purposeful Christmas

Personally, I must admit that the Joy of Christmas 2011 would not be as meaningful for the Morris family without the challenges of Christmas 2010.  Joy filled both  last year and this year, as with every year. However, 2011 comes with a challenging year in our rear-view mirror.

Last year, we survived the near-death experience of my sweet wife’s second and third stem-cell transplants. Her sister Sherrie donated stem cells to provide the hope of a new immune system and more years of life for Cindy.  We are forever grateful to Sherrie and Scott who gave us an irreplaceable Christmas gift. Sherrie flew to Nashville. Gave up her vacation time, and even spent time serving Cindy so that I could take a much needed work-trip.  Yesterday as Cindy went through a hard battle with a simple flu, we again felt gratitude for Sherrie’s immune system that gave Cindy the ability to fight a simple, but common illness. If that same flu had attacked Cindy last Christmas, she would likely, not have survived.

Also during 2010 my mother sold her house and built an addition onto our house, where she now lives in a perfect setting for her golden years. What a gift to have her so close and to see her enjoying the continuation of her purposeful ministry, teaching the Bible, serving the Lord, caring for the needs of others, serving her church and her family and great-grandchildren.  What a gift for us to gather last week with her and my brother and his family, sharing an early Christmas together.

The joy of this Christmas also comes after 4 consecutive, uncertain Christmases. Upon each of those Christmases we wondered if that would be Cindy’s final Christmas on earth.  Each Christmas, God gave us one more.  And that uncertainty was matched by a beautiful June wedding of our baby girl, Kelly. What a joy to walk Cindy down the aisle, walk Kelly down the aisle, and confidently give Kelly’s hand to our third wonderful son-in-law, John Irvine.  And finally what a joy to perform the wedding in a God-honoring, Christ-centered experience of worship and commitment.

What joy this Christmas to see our two grandchildren being raised by such godly parents, John and Betsy Hill.  What an answered prayer that John Hill safely completed his tour of duty with the third brigade, of the 101st airborne.  And what a thrill to see Emily and Sam Hawes completing (very soon) the arduous task of Emily’s two years of clinical pharmacy residency at one of the finest programs in the country, UNC.

Let me contrast all of that with a mozilla video advocating the purposeful service of a community of non-profit software developers who produce firefox web browser.  Their video talks of their purposeful, missional existence – living for principle rather than profit. These unorthodox developers live their lives with a purposeful passion for free, excellent web-based resources. Free web development is their mission and purpose. Interesting, but for me that would not be enough. What is enough in this life?

These Christmas reflections  lead me to ask, “So, with all of these blessings, what am I living for? What am I offering in return?”

Fortunately the message of Christmas is that Christ has given all that can be given. He has done all that can be done. My purpose comes from receiving Jesus as THE GIFT.  He is the only one. He is my purpose. He is my passion. His Spirit indwells in me, because many years ago, I welcomed Him into my life. He gives me daily purpose, as I yield to His Spirit’s working in my life; as I read His Word; and as I live by and for His glory.

As I reflect on the challenges and blessings of 2011, I’m reminded that all of those blessings are merely a dim light, in comparison to the radiant gift of Jesus.

Thank you Jesus.

May we welcome you and receive your joy.

Help us to live by your Spirit, with passion, and for your purposes.

Mark & Cindy

Published by Mark Morris on 09 Jul 2010

my316.com

I recently heard about an online community/tool that a friend has developed.
It’s called My316.com

They’ve just recently created a free gospel presentation iPhone Application.

My316 is a step-by-step audio visual presentation of the gospel, using a verse that nearly every Christian has memorized. That’s right, John 3:16.  You can quote it in your sleep.

How often to you quote it and actually think about what your saying?  When we quote it, we’re usually like kids sprinting to the cookie jar.  We say it as fast as we can to see who can say it the fastest.

My316.com is dedicated to helping you share the Good News using social media or just over a cup of coffee.  This new app takes it to the mobile device level.

Check out My316.

Published by Mark Morris on 01 Mar 2010

Time for GRITTY Leadership in the SBC (#GCR)

Time for G.R.I.T.T.Y. Leadership in the SBC

Grit (noun)

  1. sand or stone grains
  2. sandstone
  3. texture of grains
  4. 4. firmness of character

The GCR Task force has given its report.  Tweets are flying.  Positions are being taken.  Debate is occurring. Now what?

Another way I’ve heard this question expressed is, “Ok, so how do we get there from here? What is the path?”

I’m neither a historian nor a fortune teller but a look at the past would tell me that the answer is not found in the perfect plan but in the right leadership. In June I’m sure a plan will be approved but it will not be the perfect system. The answer is not found in breaking historic commitments or renewing them.  The answer is not found in the perfectly worded vision statement or in changing our jargon about acceptable Baptist giving.  So how do we find our way forward to a brighter Southern Baptist future?

My answer?  G.R.I.T.T.Y. Leadership. This epoch is an irrevocable moment in time for which leaders of a different kind are needed.

Let me explain.

To illustrate my point, it’s taken the gritty leadership of Johnny Hunt to get us to the point of recommending a GCR Task Force, approving and selecting a representative GCR Task Force, plodding through the task of the GCR Task Force and finally presenting an initial GCR Task Force Report.   Whether you like the outcome or not, we’re talking gritty leadership against some serious barriers! I’m glad we have the report and I love the fact that Johnny has not ignored our uncertain future. On the contrary, Johnny Hunt has led the SBC to address the harsh reality that we must change our system in order to address the realities of today and tomorrow.  The GCR Task Force Report is nice (intentional understatement), but what it took to get there is what is earth shattering to me.

My point is that hope for a brighter SBC future is not found in this report or that – this proposal or that.  Hope is found in Christ as he is lived out through refreshing, catalytic, leaders such as Johnny has exemplified. What I’m praying for is three more of those G.R.I.T.T.Y. leaders.

While I am concerned that the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention not be an un-godly brawl, I’m not too worried about the tightness of the documents presented. A brawl at the convention will cost us the next generation of Southern Baptists.  I’m very concerned that we exercise godliness in our handling of this matter. Please, Holy Spirit, protect us from pettiness in Orlando.

I am most concerned that catalytic change agents of a different kind be put in positions of influence.  Scott Brewer, who prodded me to give my thoughts on this, recently said in a private exchange, “We are at the end of where we have been.” No truer statement has been made about our current crossroad.

Even if we can agree on something in Orlando, my hope for the future is not so much in the formula or the plan on which we settle. My deepest burden and my greatest hope for our denominations is the selection of the right kind of leaders in key vacancies.

In the past, denominational leaders would have paid their dues, having sat on the correct committees and most of all having been connected in the right ways.   I believe Johnny Hunt began this process in order to issue in a new generation and a different kind of leader.  The potential leaders about whom I’m referring object to the old good-ole-boy system and thus would be self-disqualified for lack of participation in the old vetting process.  In other words, the leaders of the future may not be found on the right committees and do not want to take the time to become acceptable within the existing system.     Nevertheless, those young catalytic leaders are in the wings and must be found in our midst.  Young catalytic leaders of the future SBC must be measured by a different stick than the one used to measure the leaders of the old SBC.

I’m praying that God will guide current trustees and Southern Baptist decision-makers to prayerfully seek and find leaders who represent the SBC of tomorrow, not the SBC of yesterday.

What type of leader is needed to build the SBC of tomorrow? G.R.I.T.T.Y. leaders.

Grit may be a small granule but its persistent and irritating quality matched with a firmness of character plays a defining and prophetic role.   It takes a tiny piece of grit imbedded within an oyster to create a beautiful pearl.

Currently, many of our children are going elsewhere for their mission connection in our cities and in the world.  That’s ok for them, but it’s telling for our denomination.  If we’re honest, it really bothers us that our children and grandchildren don’t value our SBC in the same way that we value it.   We have also seen the stats that tell us that we are in decline and that lostness is on the rise.  This SBC crisis of the future is the impetus that demands a transitioning SBC. While change is needed, we dare not throw out the baby with the bath water – we just need the right leaders who will examine the tub and make sure they identify where the baby and the bather water part. Thus, my conclusion is don’t give me a perfect resolution to pass, give me godly, catalytic leaders who will serve as grit in the oyster.

GRITTY leadership is what we need to produce the pearl of a renewed SBC for our children and grandchildren.

So what is a G.R.I.T.T.Y. Leader? (Forgive the acronym – I could not resist.)

Gifted for the task.   If the new NAMB is going to be about church planting in the cities of North America then we need more than a statesmen as NAMB president. We need a NAMB leader who is a city church planter at heart.   If the IMB is going to be about serving churches to reach the least reached around the world and at home, then we need a mission strategist who is experienced at reaching the lost around the world and in the US. If the executive leadership of this denomination is going to chart a course for the future then we need to find an executive committee leader who has innovated a non-traditional course under extraordinary circumstances among a younger population.  These are just examples of the kind of giftedness needed.  For each role we need the person appropriately gifted and skilled for the daunting task ahead of him.   Since our children and grandchildren value authenticity over glitz and perfect planning, we need leaders in all of these key positions to be transparent and innovative.  For the generations that come, leadership is about being someone whose DNA and way of life reflects the desired outcome.  In other words, don’t give me a leader who points me to the path. Give me a leader who will lead me by living it out.  I’m praying that God will lead us to gifted leaders who understand the realities of global lostness and the North American church context of tomorrow.

Righteous in Christ and empowered by God’s Spirit.  Grit is solid in character and that character is strong enough to withstand great tension. If there is ever a time when solid character is needed, it is now.  The leaders who will issue in an SBC of the future will suffer immense criticism and enormous attack. Their character must be unblemished if they are to weather the storm and remain fixed upon our Lord’s direction for our future.  As godly leaders, their character must reflect Kingdom rather than self-serving values.  Righteous leadership will be found through prayer and fasting.

Innovative leaders. I’m not convinced that at the upcoming SBC gathering we can all agree upon and vote in the most innovative plan.  In fact too much innovation at this point would create havoc. I am convinced that if the IMB, NAMB, and Executive leaders of the future are innovators, that God will lead these godly men to develop the new plans that will create the path for our children.  Innovative leaders are not managers. Innovative leaders are thinkers, strategists, and dreamers. Innovative leaders are intelligent risk takers who are forward leaning rather than historically inclined.  More than ever, we need innovative leaders who are empowered to lead.

Tested leaders.   This is where it gets tricky.  Some would say that young leaders simply are not tested.  However, there are exceptions.  A young leader may have been through the necessary experiences in ministry and life to be well tested.  Although tested leaders are more often than not, older, we have some tremendous young leaders in our midst.  For the task we face as Southern Baptists, the leaders who will carry this burden must be tested but they must also be young enough to be able to dream a new dream and carry it through to fruition.

Temperate leaders.  I’m not suggesting we find meek and mild leaders. Instead, I’m praying that God will lead us to bold leaders whose lives reflect Godly self-control.  Such is the fruit that grows out of a close walk with our living Lord. Power, influence and access to great resources all have a corrupting influence.  The leaders, on whose shoulders the future is carried, must be humble, and temperate in character. Such comes through suffering and walking with Jesus.

Younger leaders.  I’m not suggesting a twenty-something leader. However, I am suggesting that younger leaders are needed at this time in order to build their future and ours.  Young leaders have everything to gain by shaping the DNA, and by building the plans and systems for the SBC of tomorrow.  This is not the time to hand our future to older leaders, whose vision is built off of memories of yesterday and whose inclination is to bolster the past and maintain the present course.  A new course is required. I trust that God will place His vision for the future in the hearts of young leaders. And I pray that those selecting them will look far enough and pray hard enough to prophetically select today, the leaders of tomorrow.

My greatest burden and prayer is for the ones who are making these important decisions about our future – the selection committees that are choosing the leaders of the new SBC.

Will you pray with me for our future SBC leaders?

Published by Mark Morris on 07 Sep 2009

NCAA Football is here!

While living overseas for 14 years, I did not realize how much I should have missed NCAA football.

I was just too busy focusing on stuff like:  how do I get those pink worms out of our water tank; how many more times do I have to visit government offices to get the correct visa; what was that word I mispronounced yesterday; and what’s the best way to reach 7 million people with the Gospel.

NCAA football just wasn’t important, or available.  It was just a fleeting thought.  That was then and this is now.

Now I love the suspense of watching to see which unsuspecting superpower will get knocked off by some underdog.  Where’s Appalachian State when you need them?  This week BYU upset Oklahoma after OK’s heisman winning QB went down with an injured shoulder.   Will he be back in two weeks, or four?  Should he have taken the first round NFL draft pick and foregone another year of college football?  It’s exciting to engage in all the conversations after each weekend.

There’s the anticipation of my favorite team possibly upsetting that team that I can’t stand. There’s the build up to the hope of victory, and then the huge let down when the anticipation turns to disappointment.  And then there’s all the build up to the National Championship – the debate over the scandle of not having a true championship playoff as occurs in every other real sport.  Our president is for it. How about legislation forcing it?

There’s the idiocy of bad-bodied men in below freezing whether with blue letters painted all over chests and their rolly-polly bellies.  Please camera men, don’t focus on those crazy guys who will all have pneumonia before the day’s end. And if I decide to attend the game it’s at least $70 a pop for a good seat at a best stadiums. It’s gasoline and hotels and it’s a huge boon to the college towns that jump from a town of 40,000 to a town of 100,000 overnight. There’s the homecoming crowns and the pep rallies and the chips and salsa and the office pools and the hype  – the endless hype. If I don’t go, it’s hours and hours invested in front of television.

It’s a roller coaster of emotional highs and bitter lows… and then its basketball season.  And Yes I Love Basketball Season too…even more!

But in the end it’s pretend warriors fighting artificial battles for tarnishing, temporary crowns.

I love NCAA football.

At the same time, I’m in the midst of a campaign called Last Letter.  We’re trying to encourage students and adults alike to pray about writing their Last Letter, contemplating what their willing to die for?  Such as 1/3 of the world’s population that has had no opportunity to hear and understand the Gospel. Or such as the children who died of hunger today.  Or the one who died of preventable diseases in the last hour.

In light of what is at stake around the world, NCAA football is just a little trivial.  But here’s my confession – I get more excited and worked up and engaged in these artificial battles than I do about the spiritual battle that is encircling me, my neighborhood, my town, my nation, all the nations surrounding my country, and the globe.

So…what am I willing to die for?

Published by Mark Morris on 27 Apr 2009

Gratitude

I’m at Q in Austin and am being  stimulated to think differently and work creatively within the space and realm God has placed in my hands. Today I was propelled to gratitude.

Here’s three  definitions from Andy Crouch which are simple but potent.

Creative Power – The ability to successfully propose a new cultural good.

Hmmm.  Ok – hold that thought and go to the next one.
Rent – The excess income you can command for doing what you would do for less.

So let’s illustrate this using  the great basketball legend, Shaq. Assume that I discovered him at ages 13 and had the opportunity to negotiate his contract at that age. Here’s what we might find.  Shaq may say, “I think I’m going to be pretty good, so I’ll rebound and abuse post-players for the rest of my life for a $10,000 per game.”  Shaq’s creative power is his ability to lead a team to win basketball games, in spite of his inability to make free throws.

Though he was happy to just play the game and make $10,000 per game, today he’s actually making, let’s say, several hundred thousand per game.  Rent equals the difference between what he was happy to play for and what he’s actually earning. So, Shaq’s bringing down some pretty good “rent.”    Sweet for Shaq – he should be pretty happy.

Here’s the next definition.
Privilege – The continuing benefits of past successful exercises of power.

Shaq’s grandchildren and his family for generations to come, should have an extraordinarily privileged lifestyle.  They should experience every physical comfort that anyone could imagine.  Although Shaq may not have been a person of privilege, his ancestors will be.  They will automatically get some extraordinary benefits.  And Shaq himself, when seen walking into a public arena, will be treated with deference above and beyond others around him.  You can’t miss Shaq!  I’m not standing in his way?  He’s privileged.

Application – Ok so what’s this have to do with me? An awful lot! Those three definitions propell me to a mentality of Gratitude and Service.

God called me to ministry – I didn’t put a price tag on it. In fact, I’m pretty sure the contract between me and God was, “Come Follow Me.” I said, “Yes.”  As a young adult, I assumed that I would have a “real job” that would support my family and my love for ministry, which is, by the way, the norm.

Yet somehow a monetary price has been attached to my privilege of following Christ on this path of serving him.  I actually get paid to do ministry which I was willing to do for free. That’s just not comprehensible.

In sum, I get the privilege of exercising “creative power” for an extraordinarily exhorbitant “rent.”  Above and beyond that, I’m receiving unwaranted “privilege.”

Humbling!  I’m grateful.  Now what must I do with this privilege?!

How about you? What’s your rent?

Published by Mark Morris on 28 Feb 2009

So I’m a GrandFather!

Well… since a blog is supposed to be personal, I can’t help but let you in on what’s really personal with me.  I just became a granddad!

Yep! On February 21, Madeline Grace Hill came into this world.Maddie Yawning

I can’t describe how grateful I am to our Lord, and how proud I am of the way my daughter Betsy and her fantastic husband John are doing as new parents. Maddie is facing a bright future of great Joy!

So, here’s a few photos to let you in on one of the most exciting things happening in our world.

Welcome to this world Maddie!

Maddie and GrandBarry

Published by Mark Morris on 01 Aug 2008

The Sea & A Snapshot (Cindy’s August Update)

(Many of you have asked to see Cindy’s latest update. So, I’ve placed it here for those who didn’t receive it.)

Good News: Cindy’s Health

There are many names for God in scripture; “Jehovah Rohpe” means “God, my Healer.” I have certainly sensed God’s healing Hand recently. He chose to make the stem cell transplant successful and we cannot stop giving thanks. Your part in prayer for complete healing is still so valuable and appreciated; the doctors say that I reached a “complete response.” They normally don’t use the word “remission,” since as of yet there are no full blown cures for this blood cancer. Overall I feel very well, although I still tire easily and restless nights due to dry mouth, etc. are frequent. I cannot complain:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Isaiah 43:1b-2b (Several of you have sent this passage to me…thank you.)

A friend loaned me a book by Corrie ten Boom, Messages of God’s Abundances, in which this World War II hero often mentions plunging into the ocean of God’s love: “In Romans 5:5 it says that the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. If you throw an open bottle into the sea, it immediately fills with water. So, too, by complete surrender into the hands of our Savior, we are filled and surrounded by the ocean of God’s love. Just what we need and so overwhelmingly wonderful!” In these days I have known His love with the surrender of myself and my sickness and any sin that hinders me.

My life is but a weaving between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors, He works so steadily.
Oft’times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.

Not until the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
Corrie ten Boom

I did undergo a full battery of tests recently at Vanderbilt. Dr. Goodman and the team recommended that I “do nothing” for 2 months and just get stronger. I suspect that in mid September I will start on a maintenance, low dose chemo. Praise the Lord that because of an effective first autologous transplant, Vanderbilt can keep the rest of my cells frozen and I will not have to face another stem cell transplant, unless the disease resurfaces. All the while we pray that, as God wills, it will disappear forever!


sayimpregnant

More Good News….the Family Snapshot


Dreams do come true! Several weeks ago it was unclear as to whether my dream of some family fun on the beach would be possible. Well, we’ve just returned from a great time together in Florida. At one point, Betsy pulled us aside for a family photo; to be honest, we were not all “happy campers.” Her request meant that we had to drag ourselves out of the water or out from under the comfortable umbrella for a hot, sandy walk to a certain deck. BUT…at the second of the snap, Betsy set the camera timer, ran from her tripod and jumped in the middle of us with a beautiful, BIG grin to announce: “One, Two, Three…everybody say BETSY’S PREGNANT!” The shocked excitement was captured on film–“Very clever, Betsy!” We are so delighted. John recently returned to Iraq from an 18-day “R & R.” It was so wonderful to see him. Ask God to grant focus to John’s platoon and patience and health in the 130 degree, grueling heat! Back in Clarksville, Please remember Betsy and the health of the baby, as she starts up a kindergarden job soon. Thank you.

Best News: Jesus

Thank you for praying that the “aroma of Christ” spread even though the situation regarding our friend who is missing in Afghanistan is still unresolved. May God’s fame extend all over that nation, as the Holy Spirit directs and empowers His people.

We regret that we won’t be attending the Concerned Christians for Afghanistan gathering in Ohio at the end of July. Pray for those will be there. Please remember Afghans and so many across the globe suffering under severe famine/drought/economic woe.

Will you also please pray for Steve Moses and interns Ashley, David, Katie, Elise, Pace, Ryan, Heather, and Alex who have spent the summer in missional training? They are concluding their summer right now with a ministry trip among the least reached.

Personally, Mark and I have started studying the book of Hebrews. There is nothing better to adjust one’s perspective like a fresh reminder of the person of Jesus:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3)

May we daily acknowledge the perfect Character of Christ and by so doing know afresh of His agape love for us, a love we pray will overflow to those near and even those a far—all for His pleasure.

With you on the journey,

Cindy and Mark