Out Fiddling the Devil

Out Fiddling the Devil

Luke 4:1-13                                                                                                    November 17, 2019 Those of you who follow country music might remember a song that came out in the late seventies by the Charlie Daniel’s Band entitled “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”    The song features a fiddling duel between the devil and a boy named Johnny. The stakes were high–Johnny’s soul or the devil’s fiddle of gold.     The ballad went something like this: “Well, the devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal. He was in a bind, and he was way behind, and he was willing to make a deal. Well, the devil came across a young man sawing on a fiddle and playing it hot, and the devil jumped up on a hickory stump and said, “Boy, let me tell you what. I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a fiddle player too, and if you care to make a dare, I’ll place a bet with you. Now you play pretty good fiddle boy but give the devil his due. I’ll bet this fiddle of gold against your soul that I can play it better than you.”    To which the young man responded, “Well, my name is Johnny, and it might be a sin, but I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret that I’m the best that’s...
Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary? 

Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary? 

November 10, 2019 James 3:1-12 Many years ago, I cut my ministerial teeth on being a youth pastor. Youth pastors have to do some unusual things to keep the attention of their youth. When I studied this passage about the tongue, I asked, “What would make a teenager remember this passage?” I remembered when I was a boy, the cows used to come to the fence in the summertime when we cut watermelons. We would hold the watermelon rinds over the fence and watch the cows stick out their long tongues to get them. A cow’s tongue is about eighteen inches long and I’ve read that some can grow up to three feet. That’s a lot of tongue. So, before I did the Bible study, I went to the butcher and asked for a cow’s tongue. They sell them, you know – to eat. That night in youth group, the title of my message was, “Keep it in your pocket.” We talked about how often we use our tongues to wound people and say things that we should not say.  I might have reminded them that our parents and teachers sometimes tell us to hold our tongues when we want to say something that we should not say. That’s when I pulled eighteen inches of cows tongue out of my pocket.   Of course, you can imagine, that got everyone’s attention.  Some wanted to touch it.  Others were running from it. They didn’t forget my lesson. Each time I made a point, I’d pull out eighteen inches of cow tongue from my pocket and shook it at them. I...
The Future of the Church

The Future of the Church

October 20, 2019 I want you like at this picture that Joel Logan took of our church not long ago. When we look at our church from this vantage point, we have an entirely different perspective than when we are just walking around on the ground level. Now use your imagination. What if our drone could go even higher, and we were able to see every church in Jefferson? How about every church in Jackson County? What if we had access to a Satellite that was able to pinpoint every church in America? Along with this Satellite, what if there was a supercomputer that stored information about every church and from those statistics we were able to analyze patterns of behavior about why people attend church, why people don’t, who is attending, and who is not?  Would that information helpful to us as we try to grow the church? There’s no supercomputer on a Satellite looking at every church in America. But we do have access to information gathered through reliable polling services like Gallup, the Barna Group, and the Pew Forum that helps us understand what’s happening in our culture that’s affecting how people are responding to the gospel, some of which I will share with you this morning. The Apostle Paul understood the context of the Greek philosophers that inhabited Rome. When he arrived there and noticed that they had a monument to an unknown god, Paul used that as his starting point to say, “Let me tell you about this unknown god. His name is Jesus.” Paul used the context of his culture as a starting...
Dining With the Most Important Person in the World

Dining With the Most Important Person in the World

Outside of your family, who would you name as the most important person in the world? Let’s imagine you have been chosen to honor that person by preparing or by having a meal prepared for him or her.  Also, you are invited to dine with that person. Imagine the time you would spend pouring over the menu and making sure every detail was right and that the food was the best. Before you carried the meal and served it to this very important person, you tasted each dish.  Mmmm.  It tasted even better than you imagined.  It was so good, you went ahead and ate some, and even asked the cooks to eat some with you. It wasn’t because all of you were starving.  It was just because that meal smelled so good.  It was all of your favorite things to eat.  You couldn’t resist. After you finished, you put the lids back on all the food and put them in the warmer, and off you went to see the most important person in the world, hoping this person wouldn’t mind eating the leftovers. Without shame, you served this meal that way.   You opened all the dishes revealing that someone had already helped themselves to a sizeable portion of the meal. The serving spoons were not even washed.  The bread was almost gone.  The potatoes were cold.  How embarrassing would that be? No one should surpass God’s importance to us.  God asks us to honor Him by bringing something to honor him: time, abilities, volunteering, talents, part of our income. Instead of giving God our “first fruits,” and the...
What Will You Bring to the Table?

What Will You Bring to the Table?

Exodus 36:1-8 October 13, 2019 When I was a boy, every summer at Prospect Baptist Church, we held the Baker reunion. The Baker reunion was held in conjunction with my great-grandfather’s birthday. Warren Baker lived to be 100, so we had a lot of birthday gatherings. We gathered under the oak trees, which were adjacent to the cemetery. The men of the church constructed a fence that stretched horizontally through the trees. On the day of the reunion, women threw old quilts and blankets over the fence. After church, people began bringing food out of their trucks and cars. Out came some of the finest cooking South Alabama could offer. Chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, fried okra, and fried squash. If it could be fried, it seemed like it showed up somewhere on the quilted fence. There were homemade biscuits, peas, butterbeans, pineapple casseroles, homemade macaroni and cheese, and fresh-cut tomatoes. I’m sorry. Am I making you hungry? I haven’t even gotten to the deserts: pecan pie, banana pudding, chocolate cake, and several different kinds of homemade ice cream. Do you want to know the best part? Mom and Dad just let me run free as squirrel through those oak trees and among all those relatives, most of whom I couldn’t call by name. I took full advantage of my freedom by filling my plate with everything I wanted and nothing I didn’t. That’s where I decided it was a good thing to eat dessert along with my meal. I didn’t have to wait until I’d eaten all my vegetables. It was great! I never went to a family...