Easter Blues

My intention is for this post to be encouraging…I promise…but before I get to the encouraging part, I need to let you in on a secret that pastors try to keep quiet. That secret is that many of us dread Easter Sunday.

We don’t dread Easter. We love the resurrection story. We have given our lives proclaiming the resurrection story. We believe, with all our hearts, that every Sunday is Easter. So, we don’t dread Easter. We dread Easter Sunday.

Why? Continue reading

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Capital Punishment

The most holy of all religious days occurs in the Christian faith this week. Easter Sunday, for both the Western Church and the Orthodox Church, is this Sunday, April 16, 2017. As the Apostle’s Creed states, we believe Jesus was “crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead.” As the Apostle Paul said, all of our hope as Christians rest on the reality of the resurrection. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19).

We believe Jesus’ death and resurrection changed everything. We believe His sacrifice ended all sacrifices. We believe His death and resurrection fulfilled the Law’s requirements. We believe the covenant of grace supersedes all other covenants, including both the covenant God made with Noah, as well as the one He made with Moses. Jesus was executed by the State. Based on all the above, we should also believe Jesus’ State sponsored execution ended all State sponsored execution. Jesus’ death penalty should have been the last death penalty. Continue reading

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Strike Against Syria

Three caveats before proceeding.

  1. I am a struggling pacifist. What that means is I wish I were a pacifist, but the evils of using chemical weapons to kill innocent children, women, and men, make it difficult for me to conclude a country should never use force. (On the other hand, knowing our own military has killed innocent civilians and bombed hospitals, makes me want to be a full blown pacifist.) So, I am a struggling pacifist.
  2. I do not claim to be any type of expert on world affairs. My remarks below are just my initial thoughts after watching the news last night and this morning. (I recognize I really have no ability to do anything about any of this.)
  3. I think most people in our military are some of the greatest people you will ever meet.

Now, here is my understanding and concerns about our President’s military strike against a particular Syrian airbase. Continue reading

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Kangaroo Court (Luke 22:63-23:25)

A Kangaroo Court is a mock court where a guilty verdict is predetermined. It is a court characterized by irresponsible and unauthorized proceedings. But where did the phrase, kangaroo court, originate?

No one knows for sure. But one thing most people who study the origin of phrases agrees upoon is that it probably DID NOT orginate in Australia; the only country where kangaroos are indigenous. Most etymologists (a person who studies the history and origin of words) trace the origin to the historical practice of itinerant judges on the U.S. frontier in the early 19th century (1800s). These roving judges were paid on the basis of how many trials they conducted and their salaries were often dependent on the amount of fines they collected from the convicted. The more guilty verdicts, the more money pocketed. The phrase, kangaroo court, comes from the image of these judges hopping from place to place, guided less by concern for justice than by the desire to wrap up as many trials as the day allowed. The phrase also carries the image of a kangaroo’s pouch, meaning the court is in somone’s pocket. A kangaroo court is a perversion of justice. Jesus’ trial, and guilty verdict, is the epitome of a kangaroo court. Continue reading

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A Bad Day Made Worse by Betrayal (Luke 22:39-65)

 

“He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. When he got out of bed, he tripped over his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

“It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Nothing at all was right. Everything went wrong, right down to lima beans for supper and kissing on TV.

“What do you do on a day like that? Well, you may think about going to Australia. You may also be glad to find that some days are like that for other people too.” Continue reading

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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.

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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

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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

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