Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Note: This is the final entry in a series of blogs from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) have appreciated your support and feedback.

Guest author: Mike Andrews (@mandrews909)

Converse makes shoes in all different styles, and all different colors, being incredibly personalize-able, and anyone can make them look however they want. Looking back through the history of Converse, we see people from all walks of life wearing them. In movies we see our favorite characters wearing them while training for a big fight (Rocky), living the life of a pregnant teenager (Juno), singing some of our favorite songs (Grease), and going back in time (Back to the Future). Yet while we see those on the big screen from different life styles wearing them, we see them elsewhere in everyday life. We cannot go a day without seeing someone wearing a pair, from rockers, to rappers, dentists, rebels, artists, gamers, skaters, basketball players, and even to CEO’s of fortune 500 companies. Throughout our culture, Converse will fit any type of person, in any type of lifestyle. They make you, you.

“Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12.12-14 ESV) From my understanding Paul is addressing a problem in the Church at Corinth with this passage. The problem was divisions, manifesting itself in importance and internal rivalries. In his writing of this part of Corinthians, Paul is telling the Corinthians that they are all important in the Church, and they all have their own purpose in the Church.

Converse can fit any type of lifestyle. When I’m wearing a pair of my own, and I’m walking down the street and see someone else wearing a pair, I see that we have a connection. They may look different, may be a different style, may be different colors and different material, but we are both rocking Converse, and we have a connection. Like the body of Christ, we as Christians have a connection. We may look different, be a different color, may not agree on some things, but we have this connection. Just how Converse fit in all walks of life, and can be used in countless ways, so can we. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rise of the King

Note: This is a continuation of  posts from students in my Advanced Preaching course at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate your feedback.

Guest author: Bobby Paver (@Hydrofist2791)

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his Lord of the Rings never intending it to be read as an allegory. He set out to write a good story and would deny whenever others accused the story of being allegorical. Interestingly enough though he did not mean to use Christian symbolism his worldview came through.

The character in which best represents this to me is Tolkien’s great king, Aragorn. Aragorn son of Arathorn is the exiled heir to the thrown of Gondor. During Aragorn’s time all of Middle Earth was under the threat of a great peril. The Dark Lord Sauron sought to destroy the world of man. In this threat man needed a king to unite them. They needed a hero to lead them into not just war but victory. Aragorn was this king. But in this story Aragorn does not begin with a crown or a thrown. In fact, Aragorn is a lowly Ranger. He seeks only the security of others and no glory for himself. Tolkien even describes Aragorn as being someone that no one would be attracted to. For the duration of Tolkien’s story, with great difficulty, Aragorn strives toward his kingship. 

Jesus has always been and always will be the king of all creation. He was when God was speaking creation into existence, when he was dying on the cross, and even now he rules over everything. But there were times the divinity of God could be questioned. The story of Jesus’ incarnation on this Earth didn’t begin with a crown. Jesus was not born in a royal palace. He wasn’t even born in a home. The king of the entire universe was born in a barn with pigs and sheep and cattle around him. This couldn’t have been a beautiful moment. Think about the smell alone. My Uncle owns a farm and I’ve gotten a chance to be on it a few times. They don’t smell great and are not the ideal place for a woman to deliver a baby. Regardless, this is where Jesus, king of kings, was born.

In addition, Jesus did not live his life like a king; at least not like a king of the this world. He chose to follow his father’s craft and become a carpenter for most of his life. When he began his ministry he made sure that his followers knew that he was not a political machine trying to rise to the top. He was the messiah that they had been promised and he would rule over all but not in the way they thought he would. This is man whoe washed his own followers feet.

Perhaps the culmination of Jesus’ humble life was his death on the cross. The perfect and sinless man who came from heaven died a criminals death on the cross. From birth to death Jesus assumed a low position on Earth.

However, three days after Jesus dies he rises again and begins a new way of living for everyone. His resurrection defeats death itself and is the very thing that gives us life now. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Note: This is a continuation of a series of posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  Feel free to leave them some comments below.

Guest Author: Cody Julian (@TheCjulian)

With great power comes great responsibility. These are the last words Peter Parker heard from his uncle before he was killed. Before Peter became spiderman. These last words meant something to him. They changed him. They meant that he would have to put others before himself. That he needed to be man before he could be someones hero. 
So often in todays world we see so few men and more and more boys. We do not want to take responsibility for our actions. We make quick decisions and then regret them later. We say “no” or “yes” to something and then later we say the opposite. I have been guilty of this myself. I change my mind. I second guess myself. I make mistakes. I hurt people. This is not how a christian man should act. In James 5:12, James says “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”  Basically this is saying say what you mean and mean what you say. Do not go back on your word. Be responsible and trustworthy. If anyone had come seen any of these bad traits I have mentioned then he would not be a very good super hero now would he? People would not see him as someone they could rely on when they need help. Man are supposed to be leaders not being timid and unable to make decisions. They should be trustworthy, not spiting lie after lie. 

Do not let yourself become a man who no one can count on. Do not be the man that regrets his decisions. Do not be the man who loses people from his life because of his actions. Be the responsible man. Be the honest man. Be the Godly man. Remember that with great power comes great responsibility. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Just Before Dark

Note: This is a continuation of posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate some feedback.

Guest author: Jacob Steagall (@jsteag777)

There’s always that feeling about the time just before dark. The sun is setting  provoking the best instagrams. You’re driving in the car with friends, getting ready for the big game, just starting the date. You’re in that position of “it’s beginning,” “it’s starting to get moving,” “we’re on our way, but not there yet.” We’re in the moment of transition. Anticipation. We’re taking on the night and though in our minds we water it down, there’s still a part of us that holds onto the hope that this could be the best yet. We feel like whatever part of us is youth, is taking over and we are invincible in this moment. Those feelings, those emotions, all stirring in me while standing in the line before the concert. The chill of the onsetting night cools the fresh paint that we just put on our faces. I can see the look of the people passing by, as they look at hundreds of kids on the side walk with painted faces. “What are they?” “Is this some kind of club?” “Is it a cult?” They’re faces in passing said it all. The answer would be, D none of the above. We’re just some kids with not much in common, coming together for this one event. Wearing the mark or paint, of what this band stood for, the next couple of hours we would be crazy, wild, not worrying about anything other than the one crazy fan that held their beer a little too loosely. You could tell what we were all there for. We had the mark. We were there for the one band, none of the others, but the one band that also had the mark. All held in common by the paint.

In 1 Samuel 16 we see God directing his mouthpiece, Samuel, to anoint Israel’s next king. Samuel heads to the town of Jesse the Bethlehemite and in the form of a worship service, approaches Jesse to choose one of his sons to be king, as God had instructed. Starting at the most likely Samuel approaches Jesse’s oldest, biggest and strongest. I picture a Channing Tatum like character and God denies him. Samuel goes down the line until he is left with the runt who wasn’t even invited to the shin dig in the first place. Proving that the more unlikely you are the more likely God is to use you, Samuel anoints the more unlikely, David, to become the next king. The Hebrew word for anointing, mashah, means to smear, to rub or to paint. David being marked by a physical symbol then had the spiritual indwelling of the Spirit.

We Christians, much like the concert line are painted and we, much like David, are marked, smeared, anointed by the Holy Spirit. From the moment of the indwelling, we have God with us in every moment of our lives. We are called to take on the night with the light that is our King. We do not wait but drive forward in anticipation, preparing for the bigness of what’s to come, taking others with us for maybe the first time, all together for one goal. We may not have much in common, but we should turn heads, others focusing on the one thing that we do have together. This will be the best yet. We are marked, painted by God as a “peculiar” people and we are taking on the night.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Believe I Can Fly

Note: This is a continuation of posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate some feedback.

Guest author: Trevor Vice (@KingdomWorkr121)

Have you ever wanted to fly? I remember growing up in classes and teachers would ask if there's one thing that you could do in the entire world what would it be? I remember that so clearly and so many times I remember so many of my friends replying with "I would love to be able to fly." Or if you could be one animal what would it be? And the answer I remember is a bird, because people are in love with the idea of being able to fly.

Just a couple days ago, I go to the church I work at as part-time youth pastor and I hear that our senior minister has had a stroke earlier that day. Some of the elders had a meeting with me after the service and discussed the full extent of the situation with me and ask that I would step in to fulfill his responsibilities at the church until further notice.

So I began to start preparing my sermon for the coming Sunday morning, I decide that I would pick up right where he left off, the 7th chapter of job. So I went to the lake where I tend to write all of my sermons and class lessons and I began to read through chapter 7 of Job. I became incredibly overwhelmed as I was not making any progress with the passage and I couldn't feel God leading me in any certain direction with the scripture. So I became overwhelmed wondering what should I preach, what is appropriate after what has happened, and I still reading through job trying to figure things out and all I'm getting is job's frustration with life. All I'm feeling is the chaos of my life right now. As I'm reading through the scripture and the pain and weight of everything is pressing down on my shoulders, this little speck in the sand of the beach keeps catching my eye. I ignore it in my frustration for a little while and then I couldn't any longer, so I bend down and begin to dust away some of the sand and I realize that it is this ring, that says Love. And in the midst of life and all the weight and frustrations of the world that are weighing down on me I stop for a moment, I realize that God still loves me, and that he just wants me to trust him and find my strength in him.

This takes me back years ago to the first time I saw Titanic. You see like Rose, we all would love to be able to fly, we would all love to soar through this life above the waters and the clouds.

Isaiah 40:28-31
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
   He will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Shattered

Rita A. Schulte.  Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing through the Loses of Life.  Abilene, TX: Leafwood Publishers, 2013.  236 pp.  $14.99.

After spending over a decade in some form of ministry (whether as a minister based in a congregation or a hospital), it still surprises me when people question the validity of their faith when they experience pain and suffering.  It is as if becoming a Christian exempts us from getting hurt.  Yet, the reality is that we will all experience suffering, sometimes over and over again.  And, in her book Shattered, Rita Schulte, a Virginia-based Christian counselor, argues that it is our faith in God that gets us through the “shattered” moments of our lives. 

Schulte lays out her discussion in three major units.  In the first unit (chapters 1-5), she examines the “assaults of lose on the heart.”  Here she focuses on those moments that challenge our faith and our belief in God, encouraging the reader to rethink our perception of God amidst these painful moments.  In the second unit (chapters 6-8), she discusses a strategy for reclaiming our hearts from the suffering that we experience.  Focusing primarily on anger and forgiveness, Schulte challenges us to see that not forgiving those who hurt us is what prevents us from receiving God’s healing.  In the third unit (chapters 9-11), she focuses on how we grow through our suffering and pain.  Here Schulte emphasizes the intentionality that we must have when it comes to growing through suffering.   

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Schulte’s book.  In terms of strengths, four stand out.  First, I found her writing style to be very conversational.  Some works on suffering can be technical and clumsy.  Schulte, however, explains the technical aspects of grief and suffering in a simple manner that adds to the impact of her book.  Second, she connected real-life examples with her concepts.  In doing so, the abstract concepts become concrete ideas because we can see how they have played out in the lives of others.  Third, the provided appendices are practical.  For example, Appendix A provides a list of losses that mostly any reader can connect with.  Also, the “Certificate of Debt” exercise provided in Appendix C is quite useful when working with clients or church members who need to address issues of forgiveness.  Finally, her use of Scripture examples were appropriate and applied well.

However, this does not mean that this volume is free from limitations.  Two come to mind.  First, while I appreciated her conversation tone, I thought she was too conversation at times.  It is difficult to balance the heady language of a clinical practitioner with a user-friendly bedside manner.  Overall, it seems that Schulte opted for user-friendly bedside manner.  Second, I think this volume is a little too long.  I think she could have shaved about 70 pages off (primarily in the first unit) and still produced the same material with an even more impactful message.  However, I think this is a solid work on suffering that I would gladly recommend to any who are interested or are seeking guidance in dealing with their own losses.

Rob O’Lynn, MDiv
Assistant Professor of Preaching and Ministry
Kentucky Christian University

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers as part of their ACU Press Bookclub Program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Fall Time Chaos

Note: This is a continuation of posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate some feedback.

Guest author: Jordan McNabb (@Jordan_McNabb)

The fall season has begun. The leaves are changing, pumpkins are being bought up and kids are choosing their costumes for Halloween. Meanwhile parents are trying to get their children ready for school, they are busing them to all of their activities while trying to balance a ridiculous work schedule. College students are in full swing of their classes. The students are starting to feel mid-terms get closer and closer every day. They start studying more, planning time to hang out with their friends, trying to make their crazy lives a little less insane. Life is hectic, Life is busy, and there is never enough time for everything we want to do. Time just seems like it runs out when you do not want it to. TIME is uncontrollable.

In hustle and bustle of everyday life we forget something very important. When we create our schedules and plan our days we push something off to the side. We leave out the most important entry, we leave out the stabilizer in our week. We leave out God. God, the creator of all things good, is effortlessly left out of our lives. It is not like we mean to or it is on purpose but the being who breathed life into us is lost in translation; He has lost his importance to us. God has always yearned for us to have a relationship with him. We were created with the desire to search for God. We are hardwired for it but somehow we forget to put God in our lives.

Deuteronomy 6: 5-9 says, “5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” God wants us to include him in our lives and he wants to be remembered. He commands us to not forget him in our lives and make him a focus. Write scripture on the chalkboard in your kitchen, read the bible with your spouse, kids, or you friends. God wants to you to remember him and he does not want you forget what he has done for us. He wants to be included in all areas of our lives. Life is hectic, and stressful, and it can be hard sometimes. God is the source of calm during the storms of life and he is your peace in troubled times. All we have to do is have a relationship with him.

So to end this blog, I have a couple quick questions for you. Have you forgotten God in your life? Is God included in all areas of your life.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Note: This is a continuation of posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate your feedback!

Guest author: Jesse Martin (@jesseheathmart)

There once was a young couple who were having a hard time. They were struggling to pay the bills, and they were unable to have a child. Every night they would pray that God would provide them with the income, and the child they always wanted, along with the wisdom that only God gives. As always God answers prayers in his own time. He decided to answer their three requests in the form of people. Wealth was a nicely dressed man who was always quick to throw money at all his problems. He was accompanied by Wisdom, a large muscular man, and lastly a cute little baby who never cried. God sent the three on a journey to find the couple. God told them to explain to the couple that they can stay for a small time, but then two of the must return. As the answered prayers began their journey, they came across a river which sat between them and their destination. Because of the strong rapids, the only way across was for Wisdom to carry Wealth and the child. After crossing they reached the couple’s house where they were greeted warmly and with much enthusiasm. The couple was told about the decision they must make, but tried to still enjoy their time with their guest. The husband loved having Wealth around to take care of the bills, while the wife loved the idea of being a mother to the baby. But the couple agreed that they really enjoyed the company of Wisdom. When the time came for the couple to make a decision, they struggled deciding who they wanted to stay. The man was worried about paying the bills and the woman wanted to keep the child more than anything, but they knew what they had to do. They asked Wisdom to stay which meant that Wealth and the child had to leave. So sadly they started their journey back home, until they were faced with a problem. On the trip to the couple’s house they had Wisdom to carry them across the strong currents of the river. Because they did not have Wisdom they were unable to cross leaving them no choice but to turn back towards the couple’s house. Because the couple originally chose to keep Wisdom, they were in turn granted Wealth and a child. All of these gifts were important but only with wisdom were they able to obtain all three.  “Wisdom is more valuable than jewels; nothing you could want can compare with it.” Proverbs 3:15

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Match and the Microphone

Note: This is a continuation of posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate some feedback.

Guest author: Trevor Stone (@_Tstone_)

"Catch a fire of enthusiasm and people will come from miles to watch you burn." - John Wesly

Fire is a funny thing, take a match for instance, If you've got a match you've got a fire. All the match needs is for it to be struck. Once a match is struck, you essentially have three things. 
1. The wood. (Piece the flame burns upon)
2. The fire. (The part that’s struck, the flame)
3. The smoke. (The result of the flame)

And as I began to think about this, I began to visualize this event, and the more this simple match became much more. The match became a symbol, something that illustrated a much larger concept then itself. In the Old Testament the most common form of worship for the early Israelite people was sacrifices. A ritual in which had three key elements much like that of a match.
1. An Altar (Piece the flame burns upon)
2. A Sacrifice (the part that’s ignited the flame)
3. Smoke (The result of the flame)

Each piece of a sacrifice resembles a piece of the match.
1. Altar=wood stem
2. Sacrifice=the flame
3. The smoke=the result of the flame

As you read through the Old Testament, this form of worship is continued on until Jesus enters into mankind, sacrificing himself for the sins of the world. It is because of this act the great apostle Paul goes on to write in his letter Romans. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship." Paul is telling us that in response to this great love, the sacrifice is now one of our own lives. This sacrifice is our true form of worship. Paul illustrates that, true worship, is the sacrifice of how we live our lives. Worship is not singing songs; worship is not a stage, or lights or music. These things are great and even effective in ministry, but they not the whole entirety of true worship. True worship begins when you walk out the church doors. True worship is how we treat others. How we talk to others, how we think about others. True worship is about showing the characteristics of Christ, showing his love, his grace, his mercy, and peace to those around us. True worship is showing people Jesus. It's like the match, our lives are the altar, and our bodies the living sacrifice, and our praise the smoke. When we are truly worshiping, when we are truly being a living sacrifice, the praise is just the result of the flames. So may you have a fire set down into your very soul, that burns so bright and shines so radiantly, and produces so much smoke, That people come from miles to watch you burn.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Now You See Me

Note: This is a continuation of posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate some feedback!

Guest author: Andrew Ullom (@LupisNox)

“Now you don’t.” This was the message four magicians received in the movie Now You See Me.  These four magicians were give a series of very specific instructions, and no other explanation as to why other than a name, The Eye.  These magicians, The Four Horsemen, literally spend years fulfilling these instructions.  They have to sacrifice their chance at careers, at money, and at power.  They have to risk going to prison, losing their credibility, and even death to accomplish their beliefs.  They do all this without ever once meeting The Eye.  In the end they accomplish the plans left for them and inspire new faith in millions and millions of people.  After it’s all over, they finally will get to see their mysterious benefactor.  These magicians’ faith, changed the way people viewed this lost and dying art.  They made people believers again.

Oh, by the way, there’s a note here for you too. Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)  - signed “I Am”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Unknowable God

Note: This is a continuation of posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate some comments and feedback!

Guest Author: Eli Cox (@ElijahReece)

I do not know if you have seen it, actually you probably have not, but this new movie came out recently called “A Strange Brand of Happiness.”  Basically, this movie is about a bachelor named Joe who is aimlessly searching for himself, while also chasing after a woman.  Joe is a talented artist, but does not know how to use his talent as a career fully.  We see throughout the movie that he believes in some higher being, but Joe lives in a state of confusion beyond this knowledge.  In the end of the movie, Joe sees how he can use his talent in a more productive way, he gets the girl, and he comes to terms to believe in God.  He is still very confused about many of the things with God, but admits to His very clear presence in his own life.

I could not help but think about another story when I saw this movie.  It is a story of a man, a husband.  He spends his life worshipping many different gods.  He had a god for the rain, and one for the sun; one for basically any aspect of his life.  And he lived his life that way; making alters to these different gods in worship of them.  But this man came to a place in his life, a place of confusion; he knew that there was something else.  There had to be someone else causing the things in his life to happen, some other god.  So, out of total confusion and probably some anger therefore, this man constructed an alter to the unknown God, or more correctly translated: “to the unknowable God.”

“So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows [literally, to the unknowable God]. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know whom you’re dealing with.  The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but also actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!” (Acts 17:22-27)

Friday, October 4, 2013


Note: This continues a series of guest posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  Feel free to leave them some feedback.  Thanks!

Guest author: Kyle Slone Bob Marley was one of the most inspirational men of his time. He contended vigorously with his music against the social and political warfare that was destroying his people. He was a peacemaker, which was derived from his devout spirituality in which he committed to the Rastafarian movement and later baptized into Christianity shortly before his death. Marley loved people and believed worldwide peace could be achieved through love, ideology, and non-violent methods. However, many viewed Bob Marley as a simple, low-class, black man who sat around with other Jamaicans and smoked marijuana and played reggae music. Others viewed him as a social/political failure that made no real impact in the world. But Marley risked his life every day for peace, and later was awarded the Peace Medal of the Third War by the United Nations in 1978, as well as the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1981. His many accomplishments in music proved his renowned worldwide influence and his efforts to achieve peace.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). 

As we look at the example and efforts of Bob Marley, we know that peace is more than a consideration but a way of action. The Beatitudes are statements that describe the true nature of a Christian character, and each statement Jesus made demands specific attention. Dr. Grant Richison, in his “Verse for Verse Commentary,” concerning Matthew 5:9, explains that the “value of Christianity is to help people at odds with one another find harmony with each other. Many love peace but few make peace. Most of us prefer to evade conflict. A peacemaker faces issues head on; he is active, not passive toward issues” (Richison). Two days before a scheduled concert to ease conflict in Jamaica, Bob Marley was shot multiple times. When asked why he performed despite his gunshot injuries, he said: “The people who are trying to make this world worse aren't taking a day off. How can I?” (“The shooting of a Wailer”). This is the effort of a “peacemaker,” the very description of the “sons of God.” So next time you consider yourself a “peacemaker,” consider the actions you took to achieve peace, were they passive? Or were they active? Society is in desperate need of peacemakers that Jesus is talking about. Too much war, too much conflict, and too little actions that Christians should be taking leadership in. “Me only have one ambition, y'know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together - black, white, Chinese, everyone - that's all” (Bob Marley).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Changing His Attitude Will Take a Miracle

Note: This is the first in a series of guest posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate your feedback!

Guest Author: Hunter Fraley (@hunterfraley)

I have struggled with having faith before, as I am sure we all have.  Stubbornness and fear of change are two of the very few things that we as humans do well.  I believe one of Jesus’ greatest miracles is breaking down the barriers men and women have built around their hardened hearts.  How many of us could say that only a near-death experience has saved us from our stiff-necked selves? That is exactly the case for the eponymous protagonist of 2008’s Henry Poole is Here.

Caring little about the logistics of the purchase, Henry Poole is more than willing to do anything it takes to close the deal, including overpaying for the property.  His days are spent drinking and eating whatever junk food he shovels into his mouth.  The monotony of his unhealthy lifestyle is only broken by his neighbors, a cavalcade consisting of a devout catholic, a struggling divorcee, and her mute 7 year old daughter.  To make matters worse, his neighbor Esperanza (devout Catholic) believes she can see the face of Jesus in a botched stucco job on his patio wall.  Much to the chagrin of Poole, she spends copious amounts of time sneaking into his backyard with her church friends to admire the stain.  Poole eventually befriends the divorcee (appropriately named Dawn)and her daughter Millie.  It is then that we learn that he has been diagnosed with an unnamed terminal illness.

To everyone but Poole, the stain seems to have a restorative quality, healing those who touch it.  The first claims are easy for him to dismiss, however, when Millie begins to speak for the first time in over a year, we would assume this would be enough evidence for Poole to be willing to have faith and try himself.  He struggles with the decision one night and when his fingers were a mere few inches from the stain, he lets the fall limp and slowly turns to saunter back inside.

A certain scripturecomes to mindas I remember this scene.  Matthew 13: 14-15 references a prophecy of hard-heartedness being fulfilled.  It speaks of hearing yet not understanding, seeing yet not perceiving; however, it is not because ability is lacking, but because the ears have been filled and the eyes taped shut willingly.  These conditions are attributed to a heart calloused by indifference and doubt.  Poole is a man who has lost hope, truly beaten to a pulp by life.  He refuses to have faith in anything because he is terrified by the thought of being let down by hope 

Things come to a head one day when Poole returns home to realize Esperanza has promised healing to hundreds of people congregated in his backyard.  He promptly smashes through the face of the stain with an axe repeatedly.  Moments after belittling the masses for their blind faith, the weakened structure of the wall allows the roof to partially collapse, crushing Poole beneath the weight of rubble and his own miserable existence.  Poole awakes in the hospital, surrounded by his neighbors who tell him some startling news: his terminal condition had been misdiagnosed.  His dismal outlook had left no room for him to get a second opinion. The stain may have not healed him physically, but it introduced him to people who go on to lead him on a journey to emotional and spiritual healing.  Had his hard-heartedness allowed it, he could have started towards happiness long ago.  What will it take for us to soften our hearts and allow ourselves to be healed?