With Fear and Trembling

Last Friday, June 12Th, a group of mainly young adults began a peaceful, “sit-in” protest in the plaza outside the state capital in Nashville, TN. Their purpose was to bring further attention to police brutality, the need to defund the police, and the necessity of removing of a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest (the first Grand Wizard of the KKK) from inside the capital rotunda. The group renamed the plaza the “Ida B. Wells Plaza.” It was a very peaceful protest.

Despite their nonviolent, peaceful approach, Gov. Lee sent hundreds of State Troopers to intimidate them and to methodically push them off the capital grounds. The protesters were forced to move across the street and continued their “sit-in.” Which they have been doing for more than three days. The leader of the protest is a friend of mine, so I followed this protest closely. Continue reading

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Why I’m a Capital Punishment Abolitionist

(NOTE: This sermon was prepared for CCDA’s “Locked in Solidarity” Week, which is February 9th through 16th. If you want a pdf of this sermon and study guide and prayer, click here.)

Six years ago, during a time of prayer and meditation, I heard the voice of God clearly say, “Go to death row.” I had been involved in prison ministry, both in my home state and in Honduras, but I did not know where death row was in Tennessee. Much less, how to get involved. Continue reading

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A Call to Action (Matthew 5:6-8) – “A Mountain of a Sermon” – 4

Today is the first Sunday of February, the first Sunday of Black History Month. So, let me begin with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The quote comes from a sermon Dr. King preached on June 11, 1967 at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. King said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” (The entire sermon can be read in the book, A Knock at Midnight.) I find Dr. King’s words hauntingly applicable to the church today. We have been lulled to sleep. We emphasize the wrong things and fight the wrong battles. We have individualized our faith to the point we don’t reach out beyond our church walls. Continue reading

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Life Ain’t Fair (Matthew 5:3-5) “A Mountain of a Sermon” – part 3

When I was teaching Sociology, on one of the first days of class I would ask, “How many of you are math majors, or are seeking a degree or profession where math is extremely important?” A similar question was, “How many of you are good at math and absolutely love math?” I would then, tongue in cheek, explain that if you loved math, you may have a hard time in Sociology. Why? Because Sociology is not nice and neat. In Sociology, you never quite know anything for certain. Math is easy. Either two plus two equals four, or it doesn’t. The solution to a math problem is either right or wrong. There is no in between. You don’t get credit for being “almost right.” Math is “black and white,” and does not change. Sociology is “gray” and is always changing. In math there is only one correct answer. In Sociology, “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” Can two opposite answers both be true? For a mathematician the answer is “NO!” For a sociologist the answer is, “ABSOLUTELY!” Someone who loves math struggles with contradictions, or what sociologists call, paradoxes. The teachings of Jesus are filled with paradoxes. Below are a few examples, from Matthew’s gospel alone: Continue reading

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The Blessings of Poverty (Matthew 5:3) “A Mountain of a Sermon” – part 2

One of my all-time favorite TV shows was Seinfeld. I say “was” because I don’t watch it much anymore. There no reason, it’s just not in my schedule. Besides, I’ve got most episodes memorized. Seinfeld brags the show is about nothing. Yet, everything that happens in life can be related to a Seinfeld episode. One of these days I’m going to write an entire Bible study curriculum based on the TV show. Continue reading

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A Mountain of a Sermon (Matthew 5:1-2), part 1

Homiletics” is the art of preaching or writing sermons. Someone once defined “preaching” as the art of talking in someone else’s sleep. I had a class in college called, “Homiletics.” Believe it or not, I passed that class. For years after college I read books about homiletics and read sermons from people throughout history who were considered great preachers. In other words, I studied preaching.

One thing you learned early in homiletics (and in any speech class you may have taken) is to know your audience. Know to whom you are preaching or teaching or giving a speech. This is an incredibly important principle! You can have a great sermon (or speech) but if it is not geared to the audience, it will fall flat and no one will remember it, except for how bad it was. Continue reading

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“And This Is 2020” (Various Scripture)


“And this is 2020.”

Through the 1980s and 1990s those words, spoken weekly by Barbara Walters, defined my generation.

And now, here we are at the beginning of a New Year, a new decade. “And this is 2020.”

This past week, USA Today ran an article titled, “20 Predictions for 2020.’ In the article they listed 20 things that futurists said would happen by the year 2020. Below is a list of some of those things. You decide how accurate they were:[1] Continue reading

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The Church

Once again I find myself in Honduras. This is my 35th trip to this beautiful country. Every time I come I have humbled, challenged, and inspired. The purpose of this trip was two-fold. First, I want to spend some time with a church in the city of Tegucigalpa who asked to come under our church’s covering and for me to be their “spiritual father.” That, in and of itself, is humbling to me. Our goal as a church, when we started coming to Honduras, was to build relationships with people, churches, and pastors. With this request, I believe we have reached our goal. The picture to the right is of Pastor Maychol Rodriguez and his wife, Mary Lou. Continue reading

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True Lies (Various Scriptures)

One time the great Olympic diver Greg Louganis was asked how he coped with the stress of international diving competitions. He replied that he climbs to the board, takes a deep breath, and thinks, “Even if I blow this dive, my mother will still love me.”Then he goes for excellence. People can do incredible things when they know they are loved and that love is not based on what they can or can’t do.

I think this is what Mother Teresa had in mind when she said, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love.”
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How To Change Your World (Acts 2:1-47)

After His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus said to His followers: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”(Matthew 28:18-20).  These words of Jesus have become known as The Great Commission.It has also been seen as a command. There is no doubt Jesus wants us to share our faith. There is no doubt we should be actively sharing our faith. However, in these verses Jesus is not commandingus to do anything. He is assumingwe will share our faith. A better reading of the first part of verse nineteen would be, “As you are going…”After all, why would Jesus have to command us to share the good news of His grace and mercy and forgiveness; the good news that through faith in Him, God’s kingdom breaks into our lives, changing everything; the good news that there is a better way to live and do things then how we are presently living and doing things? Continue reading

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