The Wrong Funeral

The Wrong Funeral

When I pastored in Nashville, I became friends with the owner of a local funeral home. Several families in our congregation had used this funeral home and the funeral director had appreciated the care I had given people during the service. He asked me if I would be willing to serve families who had no pastor, and I said yes. If John Wesley was right, the world is our parish.

From time to time he would call me, give me the details, and I would meet with the family and plan the service. It placed me in close proximity to human pain, and I often had the opportunity to begin a relationship that later led to faith.

One day he called with an emergency. A man had died, a substitute pastor had been secured, the funeral had been planned, and the sub had called with an emergency of his own.

Could I rush over in the next 15 minutes and preach the sermon? I could. Grabbing a Bible and a suit coat, I headed to the funeral home and was met at the back door by the funeral director.

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You Can Afford a Trevecca Education

You Can Afford a Trevecca Education

Summer means vacation and camps and family reunions. If you’re the parent of a high schooler, it may also mean touring college campuses in order to find that home away from home for your child.

I hope you’ll consider Trevecca Nazarene University. We offer academic programs based on Christian values that promote scholarship, critical thinking, and meaningful worship for students in preparation for lives of leadership and service to the church, the community, and the world at large.

“But,” you may ask, “Isn’t a private Christian university education expensive?”

Actually, I’m pretty sure you can afford a Trevecca education; it’s more affordable than you think. I love this video that explores three common myths about paying to attend Trevecca.

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If They Only Knew

If They Only Knew

Sometimes I wonder what people would think if they only knew what I’m really like.

Public people have public lives that are often not very interesting. Everyone thinks it is really cool to be president of a university, to go to lots of events, and be in on lots of decisions. And I suppose it does keep boredom at a distance. What most people don’t know about me is that I actually prefer the mundane.

I am an introvert. My Myers-Briggs assessment score is close enough to the line to afford me some extroversion, but I draw energy from being alone, quiet, and contemplative. I like being with myself.

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Science and Wesleyan Theology

Science and Wesleyan Theology

In my last post on Science and Religion, I left off just as I introduced the idea of interpreting Scripture from a perspective of Wesleyan theology. That’s where I want to begin today—looking at this issue through three specific lenses: tradition, reason, and experience.

Tradition

We listen to the ancient church and what Christians have believed from the past. We give dead people a vote by paying attention to their understanding and theology.

In the current science-religion debate, we should go back in history beyond the past one hundred years to hear the close symmetry between science and religion. Most science was done by scholars rooted in the church. And where the church was wrong about science (a flat earth, the earth rotating around the sun, etc.), the church corrected itself. This is our tradition.

Saint Augustine, writing centuries before Darwin was a gleam in his parent’s eyes, wrote concerning in The Literal Meaning of Genesis:

In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in search for truth justly undermines this position, we too will fall with it.”

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Favorite Food Dates

Favorite Food Dates

Some foods just go together and make a great dating pair. My favorite food dates include a Pepsi and a pack of Tom’s Salted Peanuts. You need bottled Pepsi because you have to pour the peanuts into the Pepsi. Cans don’t work because you can’t see the peanuts in the bottom so you can swirl them upward for a swig. Coke and a bag of popcorn, especially at a movie. RC Cola and Moon Pie. These foods have forged a dating relationship such that where you see one of them, you start looking for the other.

Other foods have had several dates but nothing ever really clicked. Peanut butter sandwiches have been known to go out with bananas, honey, and every kind of jelly there is. But none of these has ever been able to get peanut butter to declare sole allegiance. I know of people who have taken peanut butter out on dates with eggs, dill pickles, and ketchup. And I’m here to tell you that this is wrong in every direction.

My blog is called “Serious Conversations About Things That Matter.” Today’s post really isn’t about anything serious at all—unless you mess with my dating friends.

What are your favorite food pairs?

My Top 10 Events in the Last Two Weeks

My Top 10 Events in the Last Two Weeks

Sometimes you have a stretch of events that just makes you glad to be alive and doing what you do. The past two weeks has been that kind of stretch. In no particular order, here’s my list of:

The Top 10 Events in the Last Two Weeks

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An Important Mother’s Day Message

An Important Mother’s Day Message

To all you college students out there, listen up. I have an important Mother’s Day message just for you.

I know you are in the heat of final exams and term papers and squeezing out the best grade you can make in that tough class. I know you may be thinking only of graduation, summer school, or a sunny vacation right now.

But there is a day that shows up on the calendar the same time every year and it needs your attention. Your mother needs a card, a call, a flower, or a gift. Any sign or signal from you that lets her know she is lovingly remembered on this day will do more good than you’ll ever know—until you have a kid in college.

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Can We Have a Civil Talk About Science and Religion?

Can We Have a Civil Talk About Science and Religion?

The octane on the science and religion issue has evolved (pun intended) during my lifetime. Toss the raw meat of a few choice words—“evolution,” “origin of the species,” “four-billion-year-old planet,” “global warming”—in the middle of a group of Christians, and you’ll have enough spontaneous combustion to heat the church.

It’s not easy writing on this topic, seeking civil discussion. I know that many people have already discovered all the answers they are willing to hear on issues of creation and science. They prefer not to be confused with new scientific facts. Their minds are made up. And sadly, a conversation will not be possible.

But when our faith causes us to check our brains at the door, we have fallen far from the God who gave us the capacity for reason.

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Fletcher and the Nepal Earthquake

Fletcher and the Nepal Earthquake

As Nepal was being rocked by an earthquake, my Twitter and Facebook became the early alert system to me.  Each buzz of a new post reminded me how the world has changed. I used to go looking for the news. Now the news comes looking for me. A vibrating phone tells me something is happening somewhere in the world. News is now a fast chaser of humans.

My friend Fletcher Tink was in Nepal, in the middle of a sermon from Acts, when the quake hit. I followed his account of escaping the buildings, ongoing tremors, sleeping outdoors, getting food and health care, and watching humanity wax kind. The Nepal earthquake reminded me of more than fast news. It reminded me that God is present in the middle of any tragedy—and that our brothers and sisters are there whether we know their names or not. Knowing Fletcher, I am assured that God will be named and present in the suffering. He finished his sermon in the street as others joined them.

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Marital Sex: Bliss or Legalized Lust?

Marital Sex: Bliss or Legalized Lust?

Love intensifies within a covenanted marriage as two people yield themselves to each other. This love is a gift that makes us fully human. Christian couples find security in marriage when sexual desire is transformed and made holy.

A younger generation, fearful of committed relationships, desperately needs to hear stories of deep joy, security, and confidence found in a marriage of submission to God and to each other. When we “forsake all others” in our thoughts, habits, and actions, we give our spouse (and ourselves) the gift of a strong physical and emotional bond that comes from a healthy, holistic, spirit-filled sexual relationship. Our sexual desires are continually purified, turned outward toward our spouse, and transformed so that they grow deeper, richer, and more intense as we live in union with each other.

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