Homelessness in Franklin

Below is the text of an editorial I recently sent to my local newspaper. It should be published early next week, but you can read it first here.

________________________________

It is time for the city of Franklin to come together and provide a shelter for those who have fallen through the cracks of our great town.

For the past three years, my church has provided emergency shelter for the guys living in our city who have no home. These are the guys that quietly walk the streets all day, yet are invisible to most people. These guys are my friends. The vast majority of these men (my guess would be 95%) are lifelong Franklin residents. They were born here, raised here, and graduated from our schools. They are not transients. They are not panhandlers. For many of them, their family has been in Franklin for generations. This is as much their hometown as it is mine. Continue reading

Posted in Homeless | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Story

I watched with interest yesterday (Thursday, March 16, 2017) the press conference where White House budget director, Mike Mulvaney, tried to explain the basics behind the President’s “spending blueprint.” (Here is the full press conference. Mulvaney’s part is in the first 36 minutes.) Mr. Mulvaney seems like a nice guy. Budgeting is difficult work. Cuts have to be made somewhere. So, I don’t want to be overly critical. What I want to do is share a story.

I believe that after the New Deal was reached in the 1930s, by the 1940s and 50s the evangelical church in the U.S. had given over most of their social programs to the government. Interestingly enough, the modern day church growth movement that gave rise to mega churches, began in the 1940s. It’s like we turned our attention from helping people to building buildings. But that’s another post. Continue reading

Posted in Christianity, Government | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Soap Box

WARNING: I am going to get on my soapbox. I am frustrated. The good news is this will probably be a short post.

I have found myself in a couple of situations lately, fighting for affordable housing, low income housing, and a homeless shelter. What I hear, far too often, in a variety of different ways, is, “I (we) don’t want that in my (our) backyard.” It’s called NIMBY (Not In My BackYard). What troubles me is that most of the people who cry NIMBY also claim to be Christians. The very people God has called to serve the poor and the marginalized are saying, “Don’t you dare put that _____________ (fill in the blank) in my backyard!” And then, come Sunday, they pack their perfect family up and head to church. And then, come summer, they travel around the world caring for other countries’ poor while neglecting the ones in their neighborhoods. Continue reading

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Called to Serve (Luke 22:7-30)

My favorite job in college was as a carpenter’s helper. My boss was a great guy, highly skilled, and willing to teach me everything he knew. But there was one problem; I didn’t want to be a carpenter. I enjoyed the work, and I learned a lot, but I didn’t pay as close attention as I should have because I knew it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was a hard worker, but I wasn’t fully committed to being a carpenter. It was a job, not a way of life.

I remember one particular day we were remodeling a home, turning the upstairs into a separate apartment. The apartment was going to have its own entrance which meant putting in a door where a window used to be, building a small deck and stairs leading to the ground. It was going to take 15 steps to reach the ground. My boss excitedly tried to teach me how to determine the number of steps and the angle of the staircase. It was complicated math and I was not interested. I just wanted to help. I did not want to know how it was done. Continue reading

Posted in Sermon | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:1-6)

The following story is more legend than historical fact,[1] but it is a great story none-the-less.

Leonardo Da Vinci, a noted Italian artist, painted the Last Supper over a seven-year period. Each figure in the picture, including Jesus Christ, was painted from living persons. The life-model for the painting of the figure of Jesus was chosen first. When it was decided that Da Vinci would paint this great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed, in an endeavor to find a face and personality exhibiting innocence and beauty, free from the scars and signs of dissipation caused by sin. Continue reading

Posted in Sermon | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Storytelling (Luke 20:9-19)

There is nothing like a good story told by an expert storyteller. In fact, I maintain that a good story, orally told by a great storyteller, is more captivating then reading a book or watching a movie. There are few things more captivating then a ghost story told around a campfire, or a well-timed comedy routine, or a fascinating testimony of a transformed life.

In our technology crazed, digital universe, storytelling has become a lost art. However, there is one group trying to keep storytelling alive. In 1973, Jimmy Smith, a high school journalism teacher, and a carload of students heard Grand Ole Opry regular, Jerry Clower, spin a tale over the radio about coon hunting in Mississippi. Mr. Smith was inspired by that event to create a storytelling festival. Now, every first full weekend in October, in Jonesborough, Tennessee, people from all over the world gather at the International Storytelling Center for the annual International Storytelling Festival. Continue reading

Posted in Sermon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Early Monday Morning

I woke up early this morning. In fact, for some reason, every day for the last week or so, I have been waking up at 4:30am. I have tried to go back to sleep, but decided that God must be wanting me to get up early for something…maybe to finish a book I have been writing. So, this morning, I woke up at 4:30am, tried to go back to sleep, but then got up and did a little writing in my home office. Continue reading

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment