Wednesday, 16 August 2017 08:23

Some days, I just feel sorry for God

I know this sounds like a crazy thing to say but sometimes I feel sorry for God. Think about this for a few minutes. The God of the Bible has many attributes that speak of ultimates.  We say that God is all powerful, omnipotent. God is all knowing, omniscient. God is everywhere present, omnipresent. Eternal, forever. Alpha, the beginning. Omega, the end. All everything good, just and true. I mean, if the human mind can think of an adjective that conveys qualities of perfection and power, we have applied it to God.

Wednesday, 09 August 2017 07:30

Hot summer days, wild daydreaming

Summertime is a fine time for daydreaming. The temperature is two degrees below boiling. The humidity is two percent below drowning. Bubba is about to explode in human spontaneous combustion. But God is merciful and good. And down here in the South we can count our many blessings. 

Call me an old fossil if you wish, but … (My beloved just looked over my shoulder at these words with which I begin this column and said, “That’s a good way to start.” Isn’t 56 years of marriage romantic?)

It is hard to get good advice these days. If you don’t believe me, just ask President Donald Trump about several of his attorneys. I won’t mention any names and this is not a political statement, but he has got some doozies as personal attorneys representing him.

At least, judging from their records and from their behavior. They are skilled at making obscene threats, employing profanity, losing big cases and generally displaying boorish behavior. Now, I know lots of lawyers and I have never met lawyers like this. The lawyers I have known are men and women of high character and firm morals. If you need someone to give good advice and especially to represent you, the choice of that person is seriously important.

Three pastors, each from a different Christian tradition, were having a conversation about prayer. They eventually came to the question of whether there is a specific posture one should assume when praying to God. One said, “I find that I like to sit quietly, close my eyes and fold my hands when I pray.”

The second minister said, “I prefer to lie down on the floor, face down and arms spread when I pray.”

“I prefer to kneel, bow my head and read from my prayerbook,” said the third.

In an adjoining room an electrician was working. He was also overhearing the clergy conversation. The pastors overheard him say, “The best posture for praying I ever had was when I was 50 feet in the air, hanging upside-down on a wire from an electric power pole.”

The patriotic season is a weird time. On the one hand there are the Memorial Day and Fourth of July festivities. Sports and recreational activities abound. Baseball, NASCAR, beaches, mountains and lakes beckon. Airplane flyovers, fireworks and road rage! 

Yep, you read that correctly — road rage. CNN recently reported that we need to be careful on the highways during July and August because this is the time when road rage is at its highest pitch each year. Let’s think about this.

“I see trees of green, red roses too

I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself what a wonderful world ...”

I can hear in my imagination the raspy, melodic voice of “Satchmo” Louis Armstrong singing that song and stirring my heart and soul. But from another room in our house I overhear the cable news network broadcasting the news of the day and I say to myself, “What a discouraging world!” Then I get hold of myself, give myself a swift kick in the seat of my emotional pants, and remind my brain that we can do something about this funk we are in.

Sometimes little facts make me laugh. Former Vice President Richard Cheney flunked out of Yale University. George W. Bush reportedly said, “So now we know — if you graduate from Yale, you get to president. If you drop out, you get to be vice president.” President Bush laughed. I did, too. I don’t know about Mr. Cheney.

Charles Darwin was an average student. He gave up on studying medicine in order to study for the ministry. Then his interest in nature led him to discover his calling. I don’t know why, but that strikes me as funny.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 13:19

Politicians can be hard to digest

Well folks, it is hot as blazes around here these days. I’m wilting faster than the kudzu. You can’t believe everything you hear but I heard a rumor that the devil is planning to cancel his North Carolina summer vacation this year and stay in hell in order to beat the heat.

One reason the climate is so hot is the superheated partisan politics that refuses to cool down. This is historically true, of course. I’ve been thinking about the origins of modern political partisanship and about how little politics has changed through the years. Consider this:

Tuesday, 06 June 2017 17:22

Got backbone? Grow a funny bone

“The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it.”

That comment about leadership was made by one who should know about leadership. He was the great American Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He became the 34th President of the United States. His theory about leadership being instinctive — something a person possesses from birth — seems obvious in some people. How often have we heard, “He or she is a natural-born leader.” Or, “He is not cut out to be a leader.”

I am a very fortunate fellow. I have grown to a ripe age living among people who are good thinkers. They are wise people, too. When I was a beginning pastor in a small parish in eastern Tennessee, one of my parishioners asked me a question meant to test me on my Bible knowledge. I had been warned about him. My predecessor as the church’s pastor was so intimidated by this church elder that he kept a Bible dictionary in the pulpit in case he was ever challenged on a fine point of theology.

Eventually I, the new, young pastor was interrupted one morning early in my sermon with the following query: “Preacher, where does it say in the Bible that every tub must rest on its own bottom?”