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...
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...
The Power of Inertia

The Power of Inertia

October 6, 2019 Hebrews 3:7-19 NIV There will never be agreement about how the dinosaurs died or even how long ago they lived. Paleontologists point to fossils records and suggest that they lived millions of years ago. Young earth theorists say that can’t be possible. But one thing is clear: they all died. Perhaps it was a cataclysmic event that caused all the dinosaurs to die, like a giant meteor. Perhaps it was something that caused a change in their food source. A paleontologist looking for clues about why dinosaurs became extinct might look to Newton’s First Law of Motion called the Law of Inertia to find a clue. Inertia is not a biological or zoological term. It’s a physics term. Inertia is the resistance of an object to any change in motion, including a change in direction. An object will stay still or keep moving at the same speed and in a straight line unless some external force acts upon it. Another way of saying this is that an object will keep doing what it’s doing unless another force causes it to change its speed or direction. So, as it applies to the dinosaurs, they would still be here had some external force not acted to wipe them out. Today, I want you to think about the Law of Inertia, or Newton’s First Law of Motion, and how it applies to our spiritual lives. First of all, we are creatures of habit, and it is easy for us to remain at rest or in the same uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force. Sometimes that is...
The Strength of a Three-Stranded Cord

The Strength of a Three-Stranded Cord

September 29, 2019 At many Christian weddings, couples use symbols to represent their union as husband and wife. These symbols involve three objects that fit together. One represents the bride. One represents the groom, and one represents God whom they believe to be the most vital part of their relationship. I’ve seen couples light unity candles, construct a unity cross, and mix unity sand. Tanner and Tori Thurmond invoked a different metaphor last month at their wedding when they had this passage from Ephesians read at their wedding. 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  (Ecc. 4:4-12) So there you have it — the image of a three-stranded cord for marriage, one for the groom, one for the bride, and one for the Holy Spirit. While this passage is not about marriage, it is about the strength of unity, and no marriage can survive without unity. We are living in a time when we could use a reminder of the importance of unity. Our country is divided on many fronts. That’s not a new thing. In case you forgot, we had a Civil War in this country one time. If you were a person of color living in the...