Whatever Happened to Kindness?

Whatever Happened to Kindness?

August 12, 2018 Luke 10:30-37 The scar remains over the bridge of my nose, but the memory of the kindness of the man who placed a handkerchief over my open gash and drove my mother, my infant sister, and me to the hospital remains. Although I was only three, I remember the small Post Office in Greenville, Alabama where my mother stopped to purchase some stamps. While she paid for her stamps and held my infant sister, I wandered a few feet away to hop on some marble steps that went to the second floor. When I fell, my face hit the stone steps and opened a gash across my face. Blood was everywhere. My mother asked for help. A stranger stepped forward, pulled out his handkerchief and applied pressure to the wound. He put us in his car and drove us to the hospital where I received my first stitches. While he didn’t offer to pay for our bill, he was kind like the Good Samaritan that Jesus spoke about in his parable. In that story, a stranger came by and helped a man that had fallen among thieves along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. What he did for the Jewish man likely saved his life. He attended to his wounds. He made a sacrifice of time and money as he paid for the man’s stay in an Inn where he took him until he could recover. He said he would come back and pay more if it was needed, an additional act of kindness. To describe his actions, Jesus said the Samaritan had “mercy on him.”...
Whatever Happened to Sportsmanship?

Whatever Happened to Sportsmanship?

Vacation Bible School Sunday July 22, 2018 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 How many of you like to play sports?  How many of you like to watch other people play sports? When you play a game, what is the goal of the game? The goal is to win.  The goal is to do your best and hope you are better than your opponent. Just to make sure I am right about this, is there anyone here that likes to lose? I didn’t think so.  We all hate losing. But we are not going to win all the time.  All of us that play sports or games are going to experience losing. Here’s a good question.  When you win a game, and you have played well and defeated your opponent, how do you want your opponent to act toward you? A.    Do you want your opponent to say, “You won, but I was really better than you?  You just got lucky.  Next time I’ll beat you so bad you’ll be calling for your mama.” B.    Would you want your opponent to be so mad about losing that he or she just walked away without shaking your hand or saying anything to you? C.    Would you want your opponent to accuse you of cheating or say that you didn’t play fair and that’s the only reason you won? D.    Would you want your opponent to shake your hand and say, “Good game,  congratulations/” We want people to have good sportsmanship and congratulate us for winning, so that’s how we should act when we win. Sometimes when we win, we...
Whatever Happened to Fairness?

Whatever Happened to Fairness?

Whatever Happened to Fairness? July 15, 2018 Exodus 22:1-14 My parents have a neighbor that has a bull that gets out of its pasture.  It jumps a fence, walks through the woods, past their fish pond and jumps another fence and then helps itself to their garden. So far, the owner of the bull has not offered any restitution for the bull’s appetite nor has he kept the bull from repeating his bad behavior. As the Hebrew people came out of Egypt and formed a communal lifestyle, Moses had the task of creating laws to help them sort through their differences.  A lot of these disputes involved animals. What if someone borrowed an ox and returned it with a hurt leg?  What if someone asked you to keep care of your donkeys while you went away and when you came back the donkeys were dead because they had not been watered?  What was fair when someone had been wronged like that? Sometimes it was difficult to know whose animal had misbehaved if all the grapes in your vineyard had been eaten.  Once discovered, it was sometimes difficult for people to resolve their disputes and differences and know what was fair so everyone could get along. As much as he tried, it was impossible for Moses to come up with laws to deal with every possible scenario.  What these laws show us is that we must live with some boundaries.  Without boundaries, life would be chaotic and in constant disarray. But we also see what was considered fair in Moses’ day may not be fair today. Our understanding of God...
What Ever Happened to Moderation? 

What Ever Happened to Moderation? 

July 8, 2018 Philippians 4:4-8 When I was a junior at Samford University, I saw a student riding a unicycle across the campus.  I was instantly hooked.  Before long I had one and I was learning to ride down the long hallway of the dorm where I was a resident assistant. It was a perfect place to learn to ride because I could reach out and touch two walls and balance myself from side-to-side.  If I got off-balance from front to back I just let the unicycle fall to the floor.  Falling off was never hard.  Learning to get on it was the challenge. The first time my grandfather watched me ride a unicycle I though he was going to brag on my abilities.  Instead, he responded in his typical humorous way, “Son, if I were you I’d start a family before I rode one of those things.” I later found a 6-foot unicycle and I rode it from my house to downtown Louisville, just a few blocks away. I didn’t ride a six-foot unicycle again until I bought one when I was the pastor of Clarkesville Baptist Church. I had my picture on the front page of the Northeast Georgian Newspaper riding my unicycle in the Mountain Laurel Parade in full clown costume so I thought I’d impress everyone the next year by riding a 6-foot unicycle.  And I did—for about half the parade. Remember, I told you that falling off was never the hard part.  Well, that day it was.  When I got off-balance that day, I fell sideways and I when I braced my fall I...
Whatever Happened to Respect?

Whatever Happened to Respect?

July 1, 2018 Watch how people treat each other on Black Friday as we try to purchase presents for Christmas.  Go to a ball game and listen to the trash talk from opposing fans, and I’m talking about Little League and children’s soccer games as well as high school. Wherever there is an intersection of people that are different from one another in color, language, culture, beliefs, religion, social status, or wealth, there is loss of respect and it is noticeable in how the people treat each other.  If we would just use the Golden Rule. Our national leaders have failed to set the tone and the example for the rest of us in how those that are different from us and those we disagree with us should be treated. Our religious leaders need to set the tone for us, too, but so many of them mirror the actions and sound bites of the national leaders that they have not helped much either. I have noticed in the last year more and more examples of athletes, and politicians refusing to respect their counterparts by extending a traditional handshake. “According to one anthropologist, the handshake evolved in medieval Europe, during the times of knights. It seems not all the knights were virtuous. More than a few would approach opponents with concealed weapons and when within striking distance pull out a dagger or a sword and plunge it into the unsuspecting opponent.”  https://virtuefirst.org/virtues/respect/ That is not a fair fight. “To fend off the fear of this kind of nasty business, knights took to offering their open and visibly empty hand to each...
Are Women Finding Their Voices?

Are Women Finding Their Voices?

Ephesians 5:21-33 The conviction of comedian Bill Cosby and the arrest of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein have shaken Hollywood.   We’ve seen the worst fears of any parent come true with the abuse of dozens of gymnasts and the arrest and conviction of their sexual abuser, Dr. Larry Nassar, former U.S.A. Olympic Gymnastics doctor.   Unfortunately, the cover-up by Michigan State University of Dr. Nassar’s actions shows how unwilling our society is to hold people like him accountable for their actions. We are learning that these are not isolated incidences.  What these and other cases are showing us is that there is a pattern of female sexual abuse by men in this country and an unwillingness by the rest of us to acknowledge it.    Women have felt powerless because they cannot get justice.  They bare afraid to speak up because they are afraid if they xtell their story no one will believe them.  They might even be made out to be the ones responsible.   Sometimes women are made to believe that if they speak out, their lives will get worse rather than better.  Too many times this has proven to be true.  Women, teenage girls, and sometimes children have felt trapped in a man’s world.   Other times, women are made to feel that they caused or deserved the abuse, or that it was somehow normal, or that it didn’t even happen.  We do not live in Saudi Arabia but our country has not come nearly as far as it needs to come in how we treat women. But women have begun to feel empowered, just as they did when they campaigned...