Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hope of Heaven...

Today was another of the 'between two worlds' days that has become so common. The worship at Lagniappe was incredible- we had a mandolin, guitar and a jimbay drum. John Henry has really come in to his own as a worship leader. I preached on the 'Just and Justifying' God. It was one of those moments where God spoke very clearly. Oddly enough, even on the heels of that, in this Sabbath afternoon I find myself longing for heaven- for all things to be made right. I guess that actually makes sense- there is only one place where the upside down things will be made right side up. Oh, the glorious thought- one day, some day- all things made right. I am becoming keenly aware of how little I actually believe the Gospel that I have been called to preach. I find it 'easy' to preach the truth, yet believing it is harder and harder. My heart longs for temporal reminders of Gospel truth- shadowy pictures here, but the true longings are for the shadows to disappear and the reality to come. Keep Lagniappe and me in your prayers, y'all are in mine.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Closed Fist (a bit of Larroux poetry)

Firmly grasping nothing.
Holding hopes and dreams.
Like a python wrapped around a desire, the closed fist constricts a dream.
And deceived.
It MUST be!
It WILL be!
Firmly grasping nothing.
Like a gavel of judgment the closed fist pounds.
It echoes a heart's verdict.
I know best!
I know when!
I know how!
Firmly grasping nothing.
White knuckles.
Flushed skin.
Straining to hold.
This is something I SHOULD have, right?
This is something I MUST have, right?
This is something I WILL have, won't I?
Bruised and bloodied a lone finger surrenders.
It surrenders.
The metamorphosis begins.
The closed fist becoming.
The closed fist opening.
A lone soldier followed by his men.
The closed fist transforming.
The open hand dawning!
Like a flower opening it's eyes to the sunlight, the fingers open!
The hand blooms!
Unwilling, NOW willing.
Unwaivering, NOW free.
Unmoved, NOW inviting.
Oh, the cavernous space of the open hand!
There is room for so much more-
Blessings and yes's and dreams too big, now rest in an upturned palm!
Alive and free.
Alive and free!!
Alive and free!!!
Firmly grasping nothing.

-Jean F. Larroux, III

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Birthday to me....

Thanks so much to everyone who called, wrote, text messaged, etc...on, what I am certain for most is somewhat of a holiday, my birthday. It was a great day spent in Washington, DC with Hayden and Steve Hoffman (sister and brother in law). We went to their church and then had libations for the afternoon, before coming home to watch old episodes of the Office. As if life couldn't get better my birthday dinner was WINGS! Oh, yes and Hayden made a M&M cake for my birthday too. Yesterday was a beautiful day in DC, cool breeze, warm sun- my only birthday wish was that Christ would draw closer and that my heart would be sustained and rest in Him alone. It is a battle isn't it? Oh, well- 37 years old....I guess I'm officially middle aged cause I KNOW that I'm not gonna live past 74- I live too hard...wings and beer....wings and beer....deep love to all....- J.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Livin' on Sponge(bob)cake...

Tonight at 8 p.m. eastern Mr. James Buffett will step on to the stage at the Phillips arena in Atlanta, Georgia and yours truly will be in attendance to welcome him there. Every once in a while you have to get 'somewhere other than here'- a short trip to 'Margaritaville' is precisely the kind of detour where you move from 'livin and dyin in 3/4 time' to being 'the people that our parents warned us about'. Moving to the Bay seems to be the 'change in latitude' that always results in a 'change of attitude' for us Lagniappers. As Mark Twain said, 'be good and you will be lonely.' We're leaving at 5 o'clock, should be there by 5 o'clock, show starts at 5 o'clock. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it....for more info. stay tuned to the Lagniappe telegraph! To the rest of you- 'the weather is here I wish you were beautiful' and 'if the phone doesn't ring- IT'S ME!!!!' NOTE: The above picture was taken in Bay Saint Louis in June of 2006. It is Jimmy Buffett signing T-Jean's guitar in French- 'Play this guitar with all your heart- Jacque Buffett' p.s. He also offered to teach Jean to curse in French!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Saturday night...

It is the evening prior to my second week preaching in Hattiesburg, Ms. First Presbyterian Church is in the midst of a pastoral search and I was able to begin preaching in Nehemiah last week. Tomorrow I continue in Chapter 2- it is an exciting opportunity to be able to be with a church in the midst of such a great time of growth and dependence. Please keep them in your prayers as they seek the man for God to lead that congregation. It is a blessing to have Curt Moore on staff who will be preaching at Lagniappe and allow me to serve sister churches in our Presbytery. Curt has been in Atlanta at the PCA Mercy ministries conference all weekend. It has been a hard weekend at home, lots of work to do and God seems content to continue His work in me personally. To live is Christ; to die is gain.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy Birthday!!!!

Ann Elizabeth turned 11 recently and we celebrated in the backyard yesterday with a slip and slide, lightning, thunder and 10 screaming girls covered in mud and headed inside the house, hmmm. I added some grey hair today for sure. I think she had a great time with her friends in spite of rain! I preached in Hattiesburg this morning and will for the next two weeks, please be in prayer for that church...many of the staff head to Atlanta this week for a mercy ministry conference, keep them in your prayers as they make new contacts for LPC and reconnect with old friends. Blessings and grace to you all! P.S. Check out the new site- to sign up and pray for Bay Saint Louis and Waveland.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bad blogger...

I've been a bad blogger of late...kinda busy (not anymore than most, but probably just trying to do too much). It is Holy Saturday and I am reminiscing on a year in the Bay- April 2006 until now... much heartache, much pain and a faithful Father. I was talking to T-Jean the other night about something that he was praying about and as I offered him the comfort of prayer he responded in exasperation, "I HAVE BEEN praying!" I understand T-Jean. I understand. This is a month full of special birthdays- T-Jean turns 14 (I am an old man) and Ann Elizabeth turns 11. We'll do some fun stuff I'm sure---- Keep Lagniappe and me in your prayers- my busyness (spelling?) comes and goes, conferences 'on' and then 'off'- I feel like I've preached everywhere lately- I will be in Hattiesburg for the 3 consecutive weeks following Easter. They are without a pastor and I intended to preach about Nehemiah, but I think I'm just going to preach about grace. What else is there really? Ahhh, that favorite quote of mine from John Sartelle, "Christians do not fall out of grace they fall INTO it!" Preach brother, preach to my soul! I am praying for all of you that love Lagniappe so much- thank you for everything.

Monday, March 05, 2007

They'll Come to Lagniappe

I had a profound realization on Saturday. There was a benevolence walk-in case that we were dealing with and the individual had gone from one relief agency to another. He had been sent from one church to another. He finally was sent on from the Salvation Army and ended up at Lagniappe. He just needed some help getting 'over the hump'- a job was on the horizon. Wires had been crossed. He was short on cash and needed help. There were tears that welled up continually in his eyes. We met and decided to help him over the hump. He wept. He said that we were the 'only ones' who would help him. It was a great moment. I was passionately expressing my frustration to Helen Buckley. "Helen, what is someone supposed to do- they go from one church to another- each place passing the buck....each one too busy....everyone one taking the time to HEAR the story....if everyone rejects them and everyone tells them that they can't help then what are SUPPOSED TO DO????" Helen calmly replied, "Then they'll come to Lagniappe." I can remember precisely where I was standing. It felt like the floor was giving way- I began to weep. She was so right- they WILL come to Lagniappe, that is why we are here. I feel like I want to run from this place and never leave at the very same time. Pray for us and for our friend from Saturday. He started his job today.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The 10,000 foot view

Andy Chapman, a member of our core group, emailed this photo to me earlier tonight. It was from Google earth or something similar and he pointed out that you can actually see our bunkhouse on the lower right hand corner. He noted is still 'not connected' together and that the hole in the roof of the main building is still visible.

It got me thinking (here is where you should get some coffee....) Lagniappe Church has been in existence long enough to have had a Google satellite photo taken of us AND there has also been enough activity since the time that photo was taken to make it VERY outdated. NOTE: the hole is fixed and presently there are 3 more completed bunkhouses on the Lagniappe 'compound'.

Interesting isn't it? The 10,000 foot view- it has a way of making the 'messy', 'unfinished' things look kind of cleaned up and making the progress seem somewhat irrelevant. Six months from now the satellite will pass again and all that will have changed in the photo will be some black and grey pixellated rectangles added for bunkhouses and a silver square noting a closed up roof. There might be some more cars in the Sicily's parking lot across the street but other than that no big deal, image updated.

I am usually not very focused on the 10,000 foot view. I am more prone to find myself in angst about the one foot view- the details in the office, or the kitchen, the nursery (yes, we have a nursery), the copier or whatever. At any given point in my frantic self-reliance the satellite will pass again and 'CLICK' the 10,000 foot photo is snapped with anxious, fretful me not even visible to the lens. My fears and obsessing become somewhat irrelevant don't they? The 10,000 foot 'big picture' puts things in the right perspective.

I like the 10,000 foot view, it's like a providential rear view mirror. It's like a chance to look back by looking down from a higher vantage point. Thing are clearer in the rear view mirror, aren't they? Jesus promised that HE was building His kingdom and that the gates of hell would not stand against it. Roofs DO get closed up. Bunkhouses DO come together. A bit of cold spaghetti at dinner DOES get heated up, right? From the throne of heaven the picture isn't one of a Lagniappe 'facility update' it is one of a Divine KINGDOM moving forward.

Dream for a moment. You are in the war room, the 'oval office of heaven' if you will. (P.S. If you think we shouldn't allegorize images of heaven take two C.S. Lewis' and call me in the morning!) As the angels and archangels strain to see the troop map there are pins and markers and placeholders in and around the Bay. "The troops are holding!" cheers erupt! 'The troops are holding!" Just then, wet from the darkroom and pungent with the aroma of developer, an updated photo arrives- another 10,000 foot view- "roof closed! more room for teams! materials moving out! teams coming in! residents worshipping!" Like rain on a tin roof, shouts and cheers fill the room! "To our God and to the Lamb! From every nation tongue and tribe!" TO OUR GOD AND TO THE LAMB...

And at the one foot view were out of toner. What words are shouted? "Who was supposed to order that?" Ahhh, typical. Right then I have a one man pity party for the martyr-like existence I live. It is difficult being the ONLY ONE WHO EVER refills the toner, right? Where are my notes for orientation? I can't find anything around here! There's dust on everything, on EVERYTHING! As I throw my head back on my chair I need to hear what I CAN'T seem to hear only looking at the one foot view of Lagniappe. I DO need a one foot view, but NOT of Lagniappe- of the war room! I need to look from here to there and see something bigger than me, than houses, than Lagniappe or the Bay. I need to hear sounds louder than my sighs, to hear the peals of heaven, to hear the coronation trumpets of the King!

We had a home dedication today. Another family was restored. The Gospel was proclaimed there. We rejoiced in being able to participate and God was given the glory. The oval office cheered again and for a moment you could hear it, even from the Bay.

It is good to hear it, isn't it? It is. Please keep us in your prayers. Pray that we can, 'see Thee in the heights' though we dwell in the depths*. Thank you Father for the 10,000 foot view. Amen and Amen.

*Reference: The Valley of Vision

Lagniappe and Life note: it is good to have a place like this blog to be able to share the 10,000 foot and the one foot view concurrently. Life is lived somewhere between the two. As I have learned this past year (who am I kidding.... 'AM LEARNING this year') it is mostly a 'tension' where we are sent to the one from the other and back again to find meaning, purpose and pleasure in Him alone. Love and Grace to all.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lagniappe and Lexington

This picture is from the end of an amazing weekend in Lexington where John Sartelle and I have enjoyed all of the best that God has to offer- we have seen 10 degree weather, great food, great beverages and the glory of the gospel preached. I'm headed back to the Bay tomorrow! Thanks for everything!