I have the joy of being supported, through financial gifts designated to ACT 3, by Southwood Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Southwood is a growing congregation of about 700 plus people pastored by my friend Dr. Michael Honeycutt. Because several members of my Alabama family are members of Southwood, and because Michael Honeycutt loves me as his personal friend, I get to share in the vision and joy be brings to this excellent local church.

On Friday (December 15) I shared a wonderful long lunch with Michael and the new exceutive director of Southwood, Bob Bradshaw. The three of us talked at length about the missional church concept and how local churches across America are seeking God for new direction in incarnational evangelism in order to become effective in their mission as "Christ’s sent people." I look forward to more such discussion with Michael, and the folks at Southwood, in 2007. I believe this church will make a significant mark for Christ’s kingdom in the years ahead. Leaders like Mike Honeycutt are a great gift to the church.

Mike Honeycutt was already in a career path as a young man when Christ called him to the gospel ministry. Mike and Judy picked up their family, left their personal security behind and followed the Savior to Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. Mike later earned a PhD in church history, and is a first-rate scholar in his own right. He could be a seminary professor, and enjoy more security and personal comfort quite frankly, but he feels called to serve the church as a preaching pastor. (This is not written to suggest that a seminary professorship is a compromised position for those who are called to be there.) Mike is an extremely competent expository preacher with a warm heart for people. His preaching gets better and better every time I hear him, which is about three or four times a year.

Yesterday, Dr. Honeycutt preached on the virgin Mary, pressing home the words of Mary’s humble submission to the angel’s announcement of her pregnancy: "May it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). He had just finished reading Scot McKnight’s book on Mary, referenced on this blog site last Tuesday, December 12. I am regularly encouraged to see more and more evangelical ministers talking about Mary and taking her role in the church much more seriously. This is a very encouraging sign for the overall health of the church. Next week Mike will preach from Luke 1:46-55, on Mary as a "subversive young woman." I think Scot McKnight has prompted many ministers and Christians to understand something about Mary that many of us missed in our reaction against Catholic teaching. She is clearly a God-ordained "role model" that invites our deeper love for Christ. It is high time that we said this much and a lot more. If we can stop reacting to various traditions, and listen better as Scot McKnight urges us to do, we would all profit from the witness of the mother of our Lord.