Love & Learn

As mentioned in the previous post, Jennifer & I have been together for over 20 years. Exactly one month after that first date in 1994, we had our first big argument. We were on our way to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in New Orleans. The Newboys opened the concert with their newly released “SHINE” show and SCC had just released “Heaven in the Real World.” It was a fantastic concert. And though we’d already began working through our disagreement, SCC put the finishing touches on the night with a song he’d just written for his wife, “Love and Learn.”

“Love and Learn” is not the typical mushy romantic song. It’s a song that gets to the nuts and bolts of sticking with your special someone through thick and thin:  learning from the mistakes we make together; trusting in God in every circumstance; and growing old together.

Marriage is hard work. But anything of value is worth working for. We’ve been through a lot together. Our home in Meridian is now the fourth home we’ve shared. We’re blessed with two fabulous children. God called us to the places we work. There’s nothing in this world I’d trade for the wonderful life Jennifer and I share together. Here’s the lyrics from “Love and Learn” that still fit so well in our life together:

Echoes of careless words and slamming doors
Are still ringing in the night.
I’ve taken my side and you’ve taken yours.
We’re both wrong and we’re both right.
Once again misunderstanding has turned us into enemies.
I will forgive you, will you forgive me?
CHORUS
Love and learn, that’s what we will do.
Love and learn through the flood and through the flame.
This world will turn and the seasons will change.
But there’s nothing we can’t get through
As long as we both hold on to the hand of God and each other
And take a lifetime to love and learn.
We start out believing we know love so well.
But through the years we find
True love is a story only time can tell.IMG_1953
And God has made this lifetime yours and mine.
BRIDGE
So until that day when one of us
Has to lay the other in the arms of Jesus
I will be with you and you will be with me…to love and learn.

We’ve had plenty of ups and downs over the years. But through it all, we’ve depended on God to carry us. So, here we are, 20 years after that first argument and approaching 17 years of marriage. We look forward to continuing to love and learn in the future.

Happy Valentine’s Day Jennifer!!!

The Better Half of My Life

20 years ago today, Jennifer (my wife of 16 years) and I went on our first date. God has blessed me in so many ways, but the greatest blessing has been sharing everything with the love of my life! Here’s just a little story (from my point of view) of how the Good Lord arranged for Jennifer and I to fall in love…

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Providence would have it, that both Jennifer Donohoo (of Eupora) and Danny Davis (of Pascagoula) would end up pursuing the next level of education after High School at William Carey College. Jennifer, as a pianist and musician, knew early on that God had gifted her to be a music teacher. She sought out that journey at Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Delta State, etc. But Dr. Milfred Valentine at William Carey was the one who allowed Jennifer to focus on Music Education with a concentration in both voice and piano in order to prepare to become a High School Choir director. The other schools saw Jennifer’s piano skills and pushed that agenda without being open to listening to what she knew she was called to do. Thanks Dr. V!!! Without your openness, Jennifer and I would’ve never met. I, on the other hand, was still trying to balance a call to ministry with continuing to sow a few wild oats. I had applied and been offered to enroll in engineering programs at Mississippi State, Florida State, and LSU. But God has a way of “messing” up our plans. Dr. V (with the help of Harvey McClure) was also very instrumental in recruiting me to William Carey. So, somewhat blind destiny put me in Hattiesburg as well. After being a music minister in High School, I decided to enter Carey as a Church Music Major.

During our freshman year at WCC, we were worlds apart. The only things we had in common was a relationship w/ Jesus and both being music majors. Jennifer was caught up in the BSU crowd. I didn’t fit in there (at the time). I hung with the music and theology majors. I was the guy w/ a natural singing talent that didn’t have to work as hard and sat in the back of the class. Jennifer was the studious hard worker that sat on the front row. We didn’t notice one another very much that freshman year until the last week of school in May. Jennifer was practicing piano one night on the grand piano in the auditorium and having a conversation w/ one of my partners in crime, Kevin Earnest. I have no clue why I was in the Music Building at that time of night, but saw Kevin and went in to say hello. That hello turned into the 3 of us exchanging phone numbers for the summer. I don’t know what I or Jennifer did w/ the phone numbers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if both hit file 13 by the end of the night. Little did we know what would happen the first day of our sophomore year in the Fall of 1994.

tBUnjgciP9dUCKkEbUd0XXLp_oOtxNVp2DedNXU04jUWilliam Carey began school with a special chapel service and convocation to begin each Trimester. Dr. Valentine asked me to lead the music and sing a solo for the service. Newly hired BSU director, Tim Glaze, asked Jennifer to give a testimony of her summer experience working at Camp of the Rising Son in French Camp. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I sang an arrangement of “He Leadeth Me.” Jennifer was wearing a flaming hot red dress!!! The moment our eyes met that day, was life changing. We connected following the service backstage and everything just began to click for us. The next thing I knew, Jennifer was sitting beside me in Music Theory. I was actually showing up for all my classes and doing my work. We were meeting in the Chain Garden and Library to study together. All the offers to go hang out with the guys turned into, “Naw, I’m busy.” It wasn’t just Jennifer and I doing things just the two of us yet either. We were having fun with lots of our friends.

Then a night of study brought a gang of us to IHOP for a big test the next day. If I remember correctly, Jennifer after having ordered some food, realized she didn’t have any money with her. I offered to pay. That kinda led to the next evening when good friend, Ryan Hays, invited a bunch of people in the music building to go to Taco Bell. Only Jennifer and I obliged. Honestly, we were at that stage where we would take any excuse to spend time together, but not ready to do it alone yet. So, that night at Taco Bell, I was the one who didn’t have any money. Jennifer offered to pay for my food and I responded with, “I’ll let you pay, if you let me take out tomorrow night?” She simply said, “OK”…later realizing I had smoothly asked her out on a date.

zGgwGAFgbtmZjzFsyAltI3TM-VhZTOiR7Iu9PSDgva0So, October 20, 1994, Jennifer and I went on our first official date. I picked Jennifer up in my black Nissan Sentra. She was wearing a blouse and a green dress with ducks on it. I was wearing my trusty plaid shirt. That night we had dinner at McAlister’s (doesn’t seem like much now, but it was a very hot spot in Hattiesburg in 1994). I think we both ordered the Club Sandwich and Sweet Tea. After dinner we went to the newly opened Turtle Creek Mall. It was pretty intimidating for Jennifer. We bumped into a lot of people that had known me and my family. But she wasn’t scared or ashamed to be with me. I knew there was something special that night but not ready to express that to anyone.

For the next two weeks, I think we did something together every night, including attending a marriage conference (by mistake, oops), sitting in the cold night air in the park by the zoo, and having a little picnic at newly opened Timberton Golf Course where we had our first kiss. After those two weeks, I remember calling my mom and telling her, “Mom, I think I’ve found her.”

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We dated from October 20, 1994 to Cinco de Mayo of 1997, the day we were engaged. Then we married March 7, 1998. It’s been a wonderful life spending it with Jennifer. More than half of our lives has now been together. I can’t wait to live the next 20 years with her. There’s so many family and friends that I’ve left out of this post. And they’re spread from that first home of ours in Petal to Pascagoula, Eupora, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Fort Worth, TX, to Meridian and beyond. I’m thankful that we’ve always had support from all of you. May God bless you and yours the way He’s blessed me and mine!

I love you, Honey!!!

Giving Your Best and ALL

The MSU athletic program has been attempting over the past few years to emphasize the importance of doing the best you can in every game and on every play. We’ve begun to see that from many of the programs: football, baseball, tennis, softball, track, & volleyball. I’ve seen it some from soccer and know that’s their goal. Other sports I’m not as familiar with at MSU.

But basketball has not yet answered the call. It’s time for change. I’m not saying that our coaches and players haven’t been trying. But it’s like if I showed up on Sunday without preparing to preach the Word as I should. Yes, I would be trying very hard to give a good sermon off the cuff. But because I didn’t pour my preparation time into the Bible, most could see that it’s probably not the best sermon I’ve delivered.

The following video sums up the words of Vince Lombardi that even our USA Men’s National Soccer team has begun to embrace. We want to see relentless effort from our boys. That’s all.

“Winning is not a some time thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.”–Vince Lombardi

Those words from coach Lombardi inspire me to be the best Christian, Husband, Father, Pastor, and Friend I can be every day. A Christian should strive to be the best he/she can be at whatever he/she does.

“This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.”–Joshua 1:8

“Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your strength, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.”–Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.”–1 Corinthians 10:31

“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men”–Colossians 3:23

So, be the best you can be. This is a ethic that’s being lost in our culture and it’s sad to see.

Happy Presidents’ Day!!!

In honor of President’s Day, I thought I’d share some of my favorite sayings of George Washington.

“A good moral character is the first essential in a man.”

“…Your love of liberty, your respect for the laws, your habits of industry, and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.”–To the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, October 27, 1789.

“It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being. Religion is as necessary to reason, as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to; and well has it been said, that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obliged to imagine one.”

“…it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor.”–Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1789.

“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are.”–to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, May 12, 1779.

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”–General Orders, May 2, 1778.

“The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”–General Order, July 9, 1776.

“I now make it my earnest prayer that God would…most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion.”–The Last Official Address of His Excellency George Washington to the Legislature of the United States, 1783.

Attitude

It has been said that attitude is everything. You are not always in control of what happens to you, but you are always in control of how you respond. Your attitude is the only thing you get to control 100% of the time. The Bible uses the word mind to describe attitude:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 (ESV)

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Choose Joy!

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25 ESV)

Joy is not a natural response to life but it is a supernatural response to life. That is why it is a fruit of the Spirit and not of your personality. Joy is not a knee-jerk reaction to your circumstances but it is a miraculous moment in a dark and dying world when His presence is revealed through your life. The joy that you experience and demonstrate is birthed from a relationship with Him.

You were not made for depression or to demonstrate a critical spirit; you were not made for gossip or for bitterness. You were not made to give your husband the silent treatment, to create friction in the church or to yell in anger at your children. You were made for joy!

What would happen if rather than putting gas in the tank of my truck that I decided to save a little bit of money and fill the gas tank with sand? Not only would I never reach my destination but I would also ruin the truck! This is also a very sad picture of what happens when Christians try to run their lives on depression, anger or bitterness. You will never reach your destination in life.

You were designed to be a fruit-bearing Christian! You will never bear the fruit that you were designed to bear unless you hang out with Jesus. Every day … all day long just marinate in Who He is and all that He has for you. Fertilize your life with the Word of God, with worship and with prayer. To the extent that Jesus occupies your whole being is the extent to which you will produce joy!

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV)

Is it a Christian’s duty to vote?

A Christian has a duty to vote probably more than any other citizen because of the biblical principles that are out there relating to nations. The Scripture tells us, Proverbs 14:34, that “Righteousness exalts a nation.” Well, righteousness comes from the national policies that are enacted, or, you could also say righteousness exalts a state or community and you determine righteousness on the basis of the public policies that are enacted—which means public leaders choose those public policies and enact them. That’s when we go to Proverbs 29:2, which tells us “When the righteous rule, the people rejoice (and) when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

In other words, ungodly, non-God-fearing people will not make righteous policies. You will not get, for example, God-fearing people to say it’s OK to have abortion, it’s OK to destroy the sanctity of marriage, it’s OK to promote certain things in schools. … So, what we find scripturally, is that God-fearing policies come from God- fearing people; and in America, the only way that God- fearing people can rule … is to be elected. If, as people of faith, we want righteousness to be exalted, we have to elect leaders who will exalt righteousness, and that’s the only way that God can bless the nation. –David Barton

I know this has become a hot topic among Christians recently. I’ve been asked, “Is it a sin for a Christian to not vote.” That’s a pretty authoritative statement to make. But here’s my take on it. In the past, all Christians pretty much voted because for the most part there were candidates that had similar Christians views. We’re now dealing w/ something in our country that’s new. There’s not a clear cut candidate that supports our Christian views. We can learn much from our British friends and others who’ve been dealing w/ this problem for some time now. I’ve talked extensively about this issue with my Christian brother, Jose Robles, in the Dominican Republic. He always votes based on how God directs him about which candidate will be best for the evangelization of his country even though the Roman Catholic may align with his moral beliefs more. So most of the time, he votes for a non-Christian as opposed to voting for the Roman Catholic candidate who believes Baptists are a cult. Check out what this British brother has to say about voting. I love his point about Jeremiah telling the people “to seek the welfare of Babylon, even though it was a pagan state”:

Where in the Bible do we find a biblical basis for arguing that it’s a Christian’s duty to vote? There are many passages that deal with choosing leaders in God’s Word. The best IMO, is Deuteronomy 1:13: “Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.” (ESV) That’s pretty clear to me. We have an opportunity to “choose wise, understanding, and experienced men” when we vote. IMO, if we forfeit that command by God, we will be held accountable. I know that sounds dogmatic. But it’s what is a major problem in our churches. We don’t want to take responsibility for the state of our nation, when in reality it’s our fault to begin w/ for not being more involved in placing Godly men and women in leadership positions.

So I would suggest that voting is a Christian’s duty. No the Bible does not directly say, “Thou shalt vote.” Just like it doesn’t directly say, “Abortion is murder.” But I think most Christians can agree that the Bible implies that abortion is wrong and is murder. In the same way, voting is a duty for a believer. We are not just responsible for our own personal welfare, but also for the welfare of the community and nation in which we serve. This is an issue I struggled with for sometime. But I’ve decided God wants us to be proactive on this issue rather than giving people the choice not to vote so they have a cop out with God, our nation, and our children.

Dr. David Barton is a Christian historian who deals with Voter Responsibility in this video:

I just submitted a brief argument for the reasons why a Christian has a duty to vote. But I perceive that there is a large majority of Christians that would not be willing to say that it is a Christian’s duty to vote. Recently, a very good pastor friend of mine and I were discussing this issue and he made a statement that I think represents how most Christians currently feel about voting: “Personally, I choose to not tell people they have to vote or who they should vote for. That is their choice and as long as Christians pray and follow the Word and their conscience that is between them and God. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.” In no way do I want to belittle or attack my good friend; so his name will remain “Anonymous Southern Baptist Pastor.” But I do think my friend reveals the disgust many Christians have for politics in our country right now. I will say that my friend does vote and encourages others to vote, but just doesn’t feel Scripture gives us a clear mandate to tell Christians it is their duty to vote. But he is thinking the issue over.

When Christians tell me they’re not voting and I ask “WHY?”, their response is normally something like this: “There’s not a worthy candidate to vote for.” I think that answer is Bologna. And the reason I say that answer is Bologna is, if you really are praying for our leaders as the Bible commands, then God will direct you which candidate to vote for even if he or she is a pagan.

I think the biggest problem for Christians is, Jesus is not running for President. There never has and never will be a perfect candidate. Boy would Charles Finney love politics these days. Listen to what the evangelist of the mid 1800s had to say: “The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. . . . Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act differently. . . . Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it – and He will bless or curse this nation according to the course they (Christians) take in politics.” -Charles Finney

In the colonial period, it was very common for every pastor to preach an Election Sermon (and I’m not talking about a sermon on predestination, Ha) once a year. Here’s a link to one such sermon preached by Daniel Foster in 1790 with John Hancock and Samuel Adams in the congregation: Election Sermon, 1790.

So, in conclusion, do Christian’s have a duty to vote? IMO, YES. One of the greatest sins of the American Church today is apathy. To often, we sit back and think as long as I do nothing wrong, pray, show up for church every once in a while, and put a little in the offering plate I’m doing what God wants me to do. At what point do we make a sacrifice for Christ to get in the middle of the world and try to make a difference, whether that be the slums of our cities or politics? Will it be easy? NO. But we can’t ignore elections just because we don’t like any of the candidates. Be a proactive Christian, parent, and citizen.