December 24th, 2018

What would the world be like if Christ had never shone his light into the darkness?

Isaiah 9:2

December 23, 2018

A Great Gift

I don’t know why you came to this service, but I can tell you why we have it.  I don’t know why on the Sunday before Christmas it’s worth 3-4 hours of time for you and everyone in your family to dress up, wait for an hour, then listen, sing, pray, and hold up candles.  I can tell you why it’s worth that time and more in preparation for me, when I have a one-year-old grandson and seven other family members here this week.

It’s because I believe what Isaiah 9:2 says: “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”  It’s because God became man. Nothing has ever been the same.

Not everyone buys into the idea that the message of Christmas makes the world a better place.  Sometimes it’s personal.  How is Jesus making the world better if I just lost my job, or my marriage has fallen apart, or my child is dying?  Wouldn’t the world be better off without Christians?  After all, aren’t they responsible for the Inquisition, for slavery, for the Holocaust?  Isn’t the world darker because of Jesus and his people? Read more »

December 24th, 2018

Prince of Peace

It would be hard to create a story with more misery…or more peace…than this one.

Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 8:26-38

December 23, 2018

Deviled ham

If it seems odd that we chose the Scripture about Jesus sending the demons into the pigs for the Sunday before Christmas, I have a ready explanation.  Last week I talked about the different origins of Christmas traditions – Santa Claus and Christmas trees, for example.  If you join us tomorrow night for one of the Christmas Eve services, I’m going to give you the story behind arguably the most famous Christmas carol, Silent Night.

It was Chris Matthews, one of our missionaries, who suggested at Bible study Thursday morning the connection between Christmas and Luke 8’s story of Jesus, the demoniac, and the pigs.  This is why the primary meat on the table Tuesday will be “Christmas Ham.”  If you thought that was bad, Chris’ other explanation is even worse:  This is the origin of “deviled ham.”

No, Chris, that’s not it. Read more »

December 17th, 2018

One key reason Jesus becomes man is to put the Father on display for us.

Isaiah 9:6-7; Mark 10:13-16


It helps to know why

Our house has been a flurry of activity this fall, intensifying since Thanksgiving. You’ve probably heard me make allusions to installing new flooring and painting. The last couple of weeks the pace quickened. Every time one items was checked off the list it seemed like two others replaced it. There were the usual December activities – buying the tree, placing candles in the windows, bringing Christmas decorations down from the attic and returning the bins when the decorating’s done, buying and ordering the Christmas gifts – but it all had to be done ten days early this year.  Read more »

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 »