I'm Not Comfortable

We like to be comfortable even in serving and worshiping God.
In thirty two years of pastoring I have heard countless excuses, some would say reasons, for not attending worship.  I have heard countless complaints about sanctuary temperatures, the hardness of church pews or the brightness of the lights in the sanctuary.  Further there are some that would prefer the preaching in a church not to challenge their pre-conceived ideas and notions.  Many want to hear nothing disturbing. Many feel that the church should not make us  uncomfortable. 
I thought a lot about some of those excuses and complaints when I heard the story of what happened to ninety-five year old President Jimmy Carter this weekend.  I don't intend this space to be an indictment or endorsement of his presidency but just the story of one Christian who set out to serve his Lord.
The former President fell at his home last week end.  The result of his fall was that his face required 14 stitches.  The former President re…

Just Another Saturday at a Rec League Football Game

Our grandson Aiden plays on a recreation football team for children who are nine years of age and under.  Aiden and I have always had a running joke about his small statue but when I see Aiden with children his own age he is not a small young man.  He plays defensive tackle and tight end on his football team and from observation he is on his way to becoming a pretty good football player.
His grandmother and I had not seen him play this year.  Therefore, with the Georgia Bulldogs having an open date last Saturday we made our way up to Jefferson to watch Aiden play.  His Jefferson team was playing a team from a neighboring community that  I will not name for reasons that will become apparent later.  After trailing at the half, Aiden's Jefferson team came from behind to win 22-14.
While I was thrilled for my grandson, I was deeply disturbed by what I saw on Saturday.  As the Jefferson team took control of the game the coaches, players and fans/parents for the opposing team basically…

The Value of Relationships

We are living in a divisive era.  It seems that we no longer live in a world tinted with subtle shades of gray but rather in a world that is colored in stark contrasts of black and white.   The voices of the extreme positions on any issue often drown out those voices that seek moderation and a middle path. We now find ourselves in an "us" against "them" world and those who aren't a part of our camp are considered our mortal enemy. 
Those things said, our principles are important.  We believe what we believe because these are things that matter to us.  Our principles are the bedrock beliefs on which I stand.  They help shape and define who each of us happens to be.  One cannot go through life without a prevailing ethos whether we chose it and set out to follow it or it organically grows through our life experiences.
At the same time, we must acknowledge that not all of us will have the same bedrock principles.  For the Christian our bedrock principles come from…

The Uncomfortable Truth

Yesterday we learned of the death of Cokie Roberts, an ABC news reporter.  I was shocked when it was revealed the she was seventy five years of age.  Then I realized my own age and seventy five seemed about right for Cokie Roberts. 
Cokie Roberts was a news reporter that I trusted.  Her father was a United States Congressman, Rep. Hale Boggs, from Louisiana.  In 1972 her father was killed in a plane crash and her mother, Rep. Lindy Boggs, assumed his seat in Congress.  After her service in Congress Ms.Boggs became an a diplomat, serving as the United States Ambassador to the Vatican.  Cokie Roberts also had a sister who served as mayor of Princeton, New Jersey.
Roberts was not a journalism major in college but rather majored in political science.  Being raised in a political environment seemed to give more depth to her reporting and she never seemed to have an adversarial relationship with those she covered.  Further, I never sensed any bias in her reporting.  I'm sure she had he…

Reflections of 9-11

There are certain historical events that take place over the course of our lifetime that we will always remember.  Not only will we remember the event, we will remember where we were when we heard the news of the event.
I was too young to have any knowledge of the assassination of President John Kennedy so I don't remember where I was when the news came.  I suspect I was at home in Macon being a "Terrible Two" because that's how old I happen to be at the time.
I remember very distinctly where I was when I heard that President Ronald Reagan had been shot.  I was at the Post Office in Memorial Hall at the University of Georgia when someone came in and said, "Hey did y'all here Reagan has been shot."  I finished mailing whatever I was mailing and headed to the nearest television I could find.
The day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded is stamped on my consciousness.  It was cold in Macon that January day, below zero in fact.  I was teaching and coachin…

Worshiping with our Stuff

While I took a Sunday off from my preaching duties at Tuckston United Methodist Church this past Sunday I did not take a Sunday off from worship.  I attended the 11:00 service at the West End United Methodist Church in Nashville.  
I enjoy worshiping in different churches when I'm away from my pulpit.  Worshiping in other congregations reminds me that as a United Methodist I am a part of a connectional church. Each United Methodist Church is a part of every other United Methodist Church.
When I worship in in other places, I sometimes get new ideas for my own congregation.  Above all, in worshiping in another place I am still worshiping God who never takes time off from me.
The service at West End was a wonderful experience.  The choir was, in a word, magnificent.  The young staff member whose lot it was to preach that day delivered a fine sermon and the communion service seemed more meaningful, perhaps because I was able to simply receive the sacrament and not have to worry about…

Have a Great Day at School

I go for a walk around 6:30 every morning as I start my day.  Obviously, getting exercise is one reason for my walk.  Yet, my walk also provides me a time for me to pray.  Some mornings I'm done praying by the time I get to the end of the street on which I live.  Other times I'm still praying when I get back to my house.  It all depends on what is on my heart and on my mind that day.There are days when I preach on my walk.  No, I'm not a street preacher but I do go over my upcoming sermons in my mind as a take my walk.  
Now that schools have resumed their normal schedules following their summer break, I've noticed that there is a more routine traffic pattern on my walk.

There is a young man on our street who attends Athens Academy.  Each morning he stands at the end of his drive way waiting on the Athens Academy bus.  As I finish my walk the bus is usually turning  down my street. The bus turns around in the cul de sac in front of my house and drives back up the str…