A Politician, Producer & an Actor Walk Into a Church

Let’s perform a thought experiment. It’s a Sunday morning a year from now. You arrive early and park in your regular spot at the church – a good distance from the entrance so as to leave the closer spaces for your older members and guests – and make your way across the parking lot to the doors. You step through the airlock into the lobby, shaking off the early morning chill, and immediately head for the coffee station. As you fill your cup, the steam rises and with it your anticipation of that first delicious sip. Behind you, the doors … Read more…

We Are Not Afraid

What’s the opposite of fear? Courage? It is an excellent candidate, but it’s not the answer. Mark Twain said “Courage is resistance to fear . . . not absence of fear.” Ask any hero, “Were you afraid when you charged into that burning building . . . . when you ran toward the sound of the gunfire . . . when you stood up to that bully?” They will tell you, without exception, “Yeah. I was scared to death.” But they did the heroic anyway. Courage is what we do in spite of our fear. So if it isn’t courage, … Read more…

Honey, I Shrunk the Bible

Kids who grew up hearing Bible stories, and even many who did not, are familiar with Daniel and the den of lions (Daniel 6). A rabble of conspirators, threatened by Daniel’s rising influence, failed to find any corruption or negligence in his service. He made Teflon look like the sticky side of Duct Tape. So, they reasoned, the only way to undermine this upstanding rival was to use his faith against him. They duped King Darius of Babylon into signing a law making the king Deity of the Month. All prayers were to be routed to and through Darius. Then, … Read more…

Pilgrims Don’t Sprint

Pilgrim’s Rest is a one-bedroom cabin nestled in a wood, at the end of a long gravel drive that turns off a two-lane country road just outside the wee mountain-top town of Pisgah, Alabama. There is a single grocery store here, Lucky’s Supermarket, a gas station, town hall and a school. A few yards west of the cabin, a little brook tumbles down the mountain and eventually empties into a larger stream. The steady murmuration of white water rushing over ancient rock formations composes a peaceful soundtrack. As soon as the sun climbs over the eastern ridge, until it settles … Read more…

Can Harvey Find Forgiveness?

You can elude consequences for only so long. Eventually, like a cheetah chasing a gazelle, they catch up, swat you down and grab you by the throat. Moses told the tribesmen of Gad and Reuben in Numbers 32, “. . . be sure your sins will find you out.” Paul cautioned the Galatians, “you reap what you sow.” The first Psalm warns, “. . . the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” And so the sins of Harvey Weinstein have found him out. He is harvesting a bitter crop. His career, relationships, marriage and more have all been destroyed. … Read more…

Look for the Helper

Last Sunday, in response to the Burnette Chapel Church shooting, we began our service with Mercy Me’s video, Even If. Then we prayed this prayer: Holy Father, We come to you in the name of your Son, the Worthy One, the One who was slain and by whose blood we have been purchased – not by a righteousness we have earned, but in the name of Jesus Christ. You are worthy to receive glory and honor and praise, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being. And though your creation is good, … Read more…

Is God Punishing Me?

Someone near Houston, TX is wondering. So, too, someone along the Florida coast or on one of the Caribbean islands. Is God punishing me? Us? Is that why Harvey poured 14 trillion gallons of water on Houston? Did Irma wreak her havoc to punish south Florida sins? But it’s not just violent weather victims who wonder. Some of us have recently lost loved ones. Some of us are caring for people who no longer know our names – or even their own. Others are in a fight for their lives against an invasive disease. Or we are coming to terms … Read more…

And Then I Cried

We had plenty of time to say goodbye to my father. And he to us. Like a roller coaster reaching the apex of its climb, his life began to slow up some years ago. Then, in the last twelve months, he spiraled down, the decline accelerating with each passing day, hour, even minute. Each time I visited I was acutely aware it might be the last I’d see him alive. On the way out the door on our last visit, I stopped at his recliner, leaned over and kissed his forehead – a relatively recent gesture in our relationship – … Read more…

That Forsaken Feeling

For centuries, Christians have pondered the words of Jesus, and none more so than the seven sayings he spoke from the cross. John includes three of the seven. To his mother: “Dear woman, here is your son.” And to John, “Here is your mother.” The second saying is one everyone can identify with: “I am thirsty.” The third: “It is finished.” Luke reports three more sayings. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” To the thief: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Finally, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Mark and … Read more…

Little is Much if God is in It

Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. That’s how Matthew (15:29) begins the story of Jesus feeding the 4,000. It happened on a mountain. And immediately we remember how significant that setting is. A mountain provided a safe landing for Noah’s ark. The 10 Commandments were dictated on a mountain. Twice. Abraham’s faith was tested on a mountain. Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal on a mountain. Isaiah prophesied that many people would gather on the metaphorical mountain of the Lord. Jesus delivered his famous sermon from a mountain and was transfigured on one. So here we … Read more…