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Showing posts from June, 2011

Exodus and Apple Crates

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I am a seminary drop out.   I was a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY for the fall semester of 1995.   As brief a stint as it was, it was probably one of the greatest semesters of my educational experience.   Yet, I think I was experiencing the symptoms of edu burnout at the time. My girlfriend, who later became my wife, was back in Chattanooga with all my friends.   I missed her a lot.   I missed them too.   To add to the confusion was a stubborn possibility first introduced to me by Ms. Helen.   What if I became the pastor of Lantana Road Baptist Church in Crossville, TN? The confusing part is that I had no desire to become a pastor.   I had been around the Baptist church long enough to know that the ministry of shepherd is a high headache ministry.   The horror stories that often circulate about churches only served to confirm that I had rather die in a fighter jet than in a business meeting.   Looking back

Ms. Helen and Uncle Roy

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I graduated in 1995 from Tennessee Temple University. On the day of my graduation it was announced that I had won the Lee Roberson Award for Ministry and Topical Preaching. Lee Roberson was a spiritual giant. I still count it an incredible honor that I won the award that bears his name. To this day I cherish the picture that I have with Dr. Roberson following the ceremony. It hangs in my office. However, I must confess that I have preached only a handful of topical sermons in 15 years of ministry. I preach expository sermons. It is not Dr. Roberson’s fault. I am not rebelling. In fact I only preached a topical sermon at the time because it was an assignment for a class. I had to do it, but somehow I won. I don’t know who the first runner up in 1995 was, but I am sure if the committee reviewed my track record they would strip me of my crown and bestow the duties to the next in line. A few weeks after I graduated my Uncle Roy asked me if I would come to Crossville, TN and p

My 7:30 Sermon

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The first sermon I ever preached was 7 minutes and 30 seconds long.  They have grown considerably in length since then.  I know more than a few people, who now chirp about how long I preach, that would be big fans of me bringing back the 7:30 sermons.  FYI: It’s not happening. At the time of my first sermon I was 16.  I had been challenged to dedicate my life to serving the Lord at youth camp.  I had been wrestling with the issue for some time, so I expressed what I felt at the time to be a call to preaching.  A few weeks before I had passed my driver’s test.  A few weeks later I failed my preaching test. I remember the Saturday morning I took my driver’s test.  Several of my friends from school, including one of my closest friends, John Patillo, were all there the same morning.  Somehow I drew first straw.  Lots of my classmates avoided taking their driver’s test in Ringgold because the DOT at the courthouse made you parallel park.  I know more than a few kids who went to other co

The Shepherd Chronicles, A New Series of Posts On My First 15

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I am going to endeavor to do something I have yet to do; to share my story of shepherding the church for the past 15 years.  It actually won’t be 15 years until this October, but writing the story of the past 14 and 3/4 years looks awkward on paper and just seems incomplete.  Furthermore, I hope what is now known to me as the past 15 years will someday merely become the first 15 years.  So why now?  I think its time, not only because I need something I can write quickly throughout the summer, without much research, but because these are great memories; stories that shaped me that I don’t want to lose.  I have told many of these stories, but I have never preserved them in writing.  I am afraid some of it I have already forgotten, but I hope that writing about these experiences will somehow resurrect the memories that are buried.  Another occasion for the topic is my focus this summer.  I am currently tapping out a short book that tells the story of the church as a whole.  I will be sh

Abraham and Isaac Trailer

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On Sunday I will be showing a short film to help convey the story of Abraham and Isaac from Genesis 22. Here is the trailer.  Read the passage.  See you on Sunday 9:30 and 11 a.m.

Mile 4,869 - Home

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So we rode together in a van for two weeks and almost 5,000 miles.  What did I learn? Our country is a vast land full of unique pockets of culture.  I pay just enough attention to politics to be dangerous, but after this road trip I have an all new appreciation for the political process, especially Presidential campaigns.  When you travel Europe you drive three to six hours and you are in another country with people of a different language.  When you drive across America you are exposed to its diversity and are left in awe of how we have held this thing together for the last 200+ years.  You realize how brilliant our representative form of government really is.  There is no human king who could adequately lead this nation with absolute authority.  We need to be weary of the progressive ideology toward centralizing the American government.  If we are not careful it will not be long until our road trips require passports. When you drive across America you not only realize the challenge

Mile 3,189 - Sedona

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If you are not familiar with Sedona, AZ it has been in the news quite a bit lately.  Sedona is the place where several people died in a sweat lodge.  We stayed just a few miles away from where the trial is taking place.  I’m not sure what people do in a sweat lodge, but it is supposed to be a spiritual experience.   Getting hot seems sort of anti-spirtitual to me.  Southern men do all they can to avoid getting overheated.  Southern men think that air conditioning and iced tea is a spiritual experience.   But that is the sort of place Sedona is, a strange landscape of misguided spirituality.  The Bible speaks of Jerusalem as the center of the universe.  Since moving to Alabama I think it may be Jasper.  If you are into aliens, new age spiritism, and soap without a center , you probably think Sedona is the center of the universe.  Sedona is a very new age, spiritist, mecca for weirdos, and then there's the rest of us who just want some nice pictures and a good restaurant.  So in S

Mile 3,000 - Jiffy Lube

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I have never been on a trip so long that you had to change the oil.  If we take many excursions off the path on the way home we may have to rotate the tires.   Mile 3,000 was a reminder that no matter how far you go, you still have to do life.  While our oil was being changed we walked across the street to a post office where we mailed some post cards along with some bills; one of which was our taxes.  Uncle Sam is inescapable.   Before we left Phoenix we ate at the Over Easy Cafe in Scottsdale.  If you have been following our trip you know that unique places to eat have been a theme.  Blame that on Guy Fierri and the Food Channel.  When you are a foreigner you have no idea where to eat.  I can eat at Applebees at home, but I rarely do.  I can eat at McDonald’s in Moscow (and I have).  When I am on a road trip I want to eat at a dive, a good one, with some local flair.  So all along the way I have been searching for local cafes that have been featured on the Food Channel.  According t

Mile 2919 - The SBC, Redeeming Vegas

They say to never mix business with pleasure, or is it religion and politics?  Or is it death and taxes?  I can’t remember.  It doesn’t matter because ultimately we came this way for a few days of business in the form of The Southern Baptist Convention.   A few posts ago I know that I represented Las Vegas as the underbelly of Hell.  I still believe that is the case.  Yet while driving into Vegas we passed several churches.  I don’t know if it was our route, but it appears there are enough churches in a few miles to compete with Birmingham per capita.  I pointed it out to Shannon and I was pleasantly surprised.  Paul said in Romans 5:20 that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”  A choir at the Pastor’s Conference portion of the Convention proved to me that was indeed true.  They were from Vegas, full of joy and unashamedly proclaiming Jesus in song.  There looked to be a couple hundred of them.  They represented several ethnicities, but I wondered about their stories. 

Mile 2,583 - San Diego

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In a sermon several months ago I stated that I had no desire to ever visit California.  Yet, while we were planning our road trip I got the Everest Syndrome.  The Everest Syndrome is the delusion climbers get when they think they are close enough to summit Everest, but in reality they are close enough only to summit and die.  When I realized we would only be 6 hours from the Pacific Ocean I got the syndrome.  I determined we would get there even if an extra 12 hours in the car meant we might kill one another.  We rescheduled a few things, made some arrangements and put San Diego on the itinerary.  I’m glad we did. Sitting in the congregation the day I wrote off California was April Chapman.  April’s husband Stephen is now a Navy Chaplain.  You guessed it, they now live in San Diego.  So I ate crow.  We stayed at the Chapman’s and had a blast. Standing in the Pacific Ocean, like the Grand Canyon, has long been on my bucket list.  Now I can check that one off too.  This trip as certainl

Mile 2,400 and Something - Caricatures

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The left coast is a strange and beautiful world.  When we left Vegas, pre 9:00 a.m. it was almost 90.  Yet just a few miles out of town we noticed a mountain with a snow cap.  It wasn’t too many miles past the snow capped mountain until we were in the Mohave Desert and Death Valley.  There we saw our first mirage.  What looked like a blue lake evaporated into brown sand the closer we got.  We took a moment to point it out to the girls.  We then had a long conversation about Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.  I do feel this trip is lacking one unfulfilled joy.  I would love to see a real Road Runner.  We have been in about 84 states this trip.  One of them has the Road Runner as its state bird; Arizona I think.  I think Nevada’s state bird is the ever allusive Snipe.  Upon exiting the desert in California we had to stop at a road block for a fruit inspection.  How ironic.  But it was not long out of Death Valley until once again we saw snow covered mountains.  Victorville, CA is going to have

Mile 2,177 - The Hoover Dam and Vegas

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Back in ’79 Lex Luther created an earthquake so strong that it destroyed the Hoover Dam.  Superman reversed the rotation of the earth, turned back time and saved not only Lois Lane, but also the Hoover Dam.  When you are a six year old boy huge, crumbling dams are cool. Since that time I’ve always wanted to see Hoover Dam before another comic book villain tries to destroy it again.  The good news is that with terrorism a real threat, they now inspect your car before you get to the dam.  It will not be so easy for Lex Luther next time. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time at Hoover Dam, but it was a decided destination on our road trip.  History Channel documentaries fail to capture just how harsh and unforgiving the landscape of the Hoover Dam really is.  The sheer size of it speaks for itself, but it is the place they put it that makes it a true engineering marvel.  Above the Dam is the recently constructed Pat Tillman bridge.  The bridge not only serves the highway system but also se

Mile 2000 - The Snow Cap Drive In (about half way, I think)

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So far our millennial miles have been providential.  At mile 1,000 we pulled over in Nowhere, TX in front of a rusted out bus in a cattle stall.  At mile 2,000 we were in Seligman, AZ.  We were hungry so it was a great opportunity to stop for lunch.  Lucky us as we found the Snow Cap Drive In, a jewel preserved from old Route 66.  According to the story the drive in was founded by a beloved, jokester of a man in the 50’s.  The tradition continues.  Not unusual on a road trip is Kiley’s call, “I’m about to pop.”  You know what that means.    But having to pop at The Snow Cap Drive In means that for the first time in your 7 year old life you will be “going” in an outhouse.  Kiley saw the out house as pure entertainment, Morgan viewed it as a death trap.  Besides the outhouse walking the grounds of The Snow Cap is indeed entertaining.  The old cars have eyes, there are one liners galore, and when you visit you are free to contribute to the chaos thus leaving the decor an international co

Mile 1859 - The Grand Canyon

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Driving to the Grand Canyon I found the town that I should have been born in, Flagstaff.  We didn’t have time to stop there.  In fact all I can say I have ever done in Flagstaff is pump about 70 bucks of gas, but I love the place.  Besides the barely 70 degree weather with no humidity in June (which is very appealing to a Southern boy), the downtown is close, crammed, full of people, and lined with local businesses.  I love local flavor.  From what I saw, Flagstaff is nothing but local flavor.  To beat it all it is at the base of the San Francisco Peaks.  And now, I will sound like a man from Florida talking about mountains, but just to give a frame of reference, as we were driving I told Shannon that I think the highest point in the Smokies is about 6,500ft.  We were driving, in Flagstaff at 8,000ft and the San Francisco Peaks dwarfed us.  We first saw them 212 miles away in The Painted Desert.  I know this because I saw it on a sign there.  They are so high there are still slopes co