Whatever It Takes

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From Facetime with school teachers to livestreaming worship services, we’ve all been doing whatever it takes to carry on in this new age of social distancing. So many church services started using Facebook Live for the first time in the past couple of weeks they crashed the system. FB apparently didn’t see that coming but they have worked hard to get those archived videos back up. I’ve seen so many posts about how to participate in worship from home as well. Getting up and getting dressed is helpful for working from home and on Sunday morning. If you sing, clap, read along in your Bible and shout “Amen!” it makes worship a group activity and not just a spectator sport.

I’ve been blogging for over a decade and posting sermon audio to our church website for the past three or four years. “Whatever it takes” for me includes being backwards compatible. Our core group of senior citizens are not what you would call websavy. I didn’t want them to be left out when we stopped meeting together and everything went online only. So I did something I had never done before: I started recording my sermons on cassette tape. I found a portable cassette player at the church that runs on 4 AA batteries. And discovered that in our sound equipment room there is dual tape deck wired into the sound system. I have been the pastor since 2014 and as far as I know that machine has never been turned on during that time. It works great, pulling the feed in directly from the mixer. I have always known about the six or eight blank cassettes in my office desk drawer, just didn’t figure I would ever need them for anything. So as I preach now to an empty sanctuary I still record a .wav file with my phone that I later upload to unitybaptist.church but I also make a cassette tape that our seniors can pass around.

I showed our 10-year-old the cassette on Sunday morning and asked her if she knew what it was. She did not. I explained that it’s like a CD but you can’t select which track you want to listen to, the sound quality is not as good, and you can only replay it so many times before it destroys itself. She said “What’s a CD?”

We Need to Go Back to Church

Screenshot 2020-03-30 at 8.15.12 PMI was listening to the Jimmy’s Table podcast this morning as he interviewed a local Charlotte, NC pastor. They discussed the recent wave of Facebook Live and other video/streaming church services and that brought up a few questions. Will church members go back to church when this is all over? Why send tithes to a church in your city when you could watch a live stream or listen to a podcast from a pastor anywhere?

Here is my response to why we need to go back to church. Continue reading

We Need Something to Push Against

Whether you believe in a literal six day creation week 6,000 years ago or evolutionary processes that took eons, conservative Christians and anthropologists agree that before societies developed humans were hunter-gatherers. During times of plenty the human body stores extra in fat cells, using those reserves in times that are lean. Evolution at work or God’s providence? Since you’re reading a religious blog, and I’m a Baptist preacher, we’re probably on the same page. We probably agree on what happened next. Technology improved, life got easier, and since none of us have to spend the majority of time making sure we have enough to eat we have to go jogging or walk a treadmill to stave off morbid obesity. We are designed for the struggle. When we are provided an abundance, with no hard labor required, we get fat. Continue reading

What were the Chances?

371050898276-0_600My friend Dudley and I used to joke about starting a Twitter feed of Things Dudley Says. He sometimes uses words in a sentence then asks me if that’s what he means or in some cases if that’s even a word. One of things we both do, according to my wife, is use the words irony and coincidence incorrectly. So Dudley made up a new word that we both enjoy using. Coincironical, or the adverb coincironically, refers to things that are either ironic, coincidental, or possibly both. We honestly don’t know.

Six months ago I took a part time job. The church I pastor in Plainville, Georgia, had been having only Sunday morning activities for about a year. My other job – driving my friend Dudley to see his clients – had been on the decline and we were both concerned about the possibility of it disappearing completely. I took a part time job at Kroger, expecting to get 20 or so hours a week on a flexible schedule that wouldn’t interfere with my other responsibilities. Continue reading

Messiah in Isaiah: Part 3

Be sure to read Parts 1 and 2. 

Details of the coming Messiah are given in Isaiah, including the family he would be from and unmistakable signs that could not be duplicated. The nature of his character and aspects of his ministry were written down, 800 years before he was born. Today we will look into the passages of Isaiah that describe the crucifixion and even consider if the resurrection was foretold. Continue reading

Messiah in Isaiah: Part 2

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
-Isaiah 11:1-5

Chapter 11 begins with another prophecy that Messiah will come and another identifier, that he will be a descendant of Jesse (David’s father, making him heir to the throne of David). The next several verses tell us about his reign. Continue reading

Messiah in Isaiah: Part 1

bible-pagesEvery year during Advent we look at a few of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. I try to make sure to vary the scriptures each year, from Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Hosea, Jeremiah and others, not just revist the well-known, often quoted ones found in Isaiah. There is more detail and description of the Messiah than the fact that he will be born but let’s start at the beginning. Continue reading