December 10th, 2018

Mighty God

“What kind of man is this?” How we answer that question changes everything.

Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 8:23-27

Land lubbers

Isaiah 9 promises “a child is born.” He is given four titles, and the Hebrew emphasizes the first word. Last week we encountered the “Wonder of a Counselor.” Today we focus on “God of Might.” The next two weeks: “Father of Eternity” and “Prince of Peace.”

Each week we’re looking at a passage in the Gospels that illustrates that week’s Jesus-title from Isaiah 9. Today we turn to a storm story, which seems appropriate as we are in the middle of a snow like Hickory hasn’t seen since at least 1993. It was my second Sunday at Corinth. Dr. McDaniel, the Interim pastor before me, joked, “You had a good attendance your first week, but the next week nobody came back!” Read more »

December 3rd, 2018

Jesus is an outlier, a marvel, head and shoulders above any other advisor.

Isaiah 9:6-7; John 3:1-17


Wonder of a Preacher

Sometime in the next year or so, we will begin livestreaming our worship services. I’m not really looking forward to it, in part because I realize I’ll need to watch my own sermons. Few of us enjoy listening to ourselves; watching ourselves is worse. I’m aware that I have some public speaking habits that I would find annoying if I were a listener. I tend to try to pack too much into my sermons, which makes me talk faster. If I get excited about my topic, I speak even faster.

Then there are the awkward hand gestures. Last weekend, while looking for something else I came across my birth announcement from September 1956. This picture was taken when I was roughly 24 hours old. I believe my hand gestures are genetic. Read more »

November 26th, 2018

God is still the covenant maker, but he calls us his children, not his vassals.

Joshua 24:14-28


Hittite covenants

Today we conclude our study of the book of Joshua. We began with the children of Israel on the east side of the Jordan River, where they had already won significant battles under Moses to occupy what would become the home for two and a half tribes. Moses dies, and God commands Joshua to “be strong and of good courage” while he leads the occupation of the land. The rest of the book describes crossing the Jordan, battle defeats and successes, and the eventual conquest and division of the land.

Last week, with the land and people at rest, we read Joshua 23, where the aging Joshua gathered the leaders at Shiloh (where the tabernacle had been set up[1]) for his farewell address. When we come to Joshua 24, Joshua gathers all the people at Shechem, where they had renewed the Mosaic covenant after crossing the Jordan. Shechem lies in the valley between two hills, forming a natural amphitheater.

In order to understand what happens in chapter 24, I need to tell you a little about the people known as Hittites. Read more »

November 22nd, 2018

Everything good in Thanksgiving is a gift from the Father above.

James 1:17

November 22, 2017 – Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Source of every gift

We white male Protestants try to claim too much credit for Thanksgiving.  Our legends often fail to acknowledge the partnership of others or our own blind spots.

In James 1:17, the brother of Jesus reminds us that what matters most is not what any human did or does.  Every good and perfect gift comes from the same heavenly Father who created the stars, sun, and moon.

Humans of many backgrounds and places gave us our traditions.  As I mention each one, I’ll say, “For this good gift,” and I invite you to respond, “Thanks be to God!” Read more »

November 19th, 2018

Don’t forget. You’re going to die.

Joshua 23:1-16


What have we got?

It was September 17, 1787, the final day of the four-month grueling process that created the constitution of the United States of America, which has stood the test of time. Dr. James McHenry of Maryland, one of the youngest delegates, overheard an exchange between Benjamin Franklin and a woman named Mrs. Powell, which McHenry then recorded in his personal notes of the day.

At 81, Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate to the convention, and had lived in Philadelphia since he was 17. The otherwise unknown Mrs. Powell addressed Franklin as he emerged from convention hall, and rather aggressively posed a question to him. “Well, doctor,” she said, “what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”

Franklin replied, “A republic, madam – if you can keep it.” Read more »