The Urban Grind

The Urban Grind

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A Hand in the Wound

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We are not so familiar with freaks as Jesus was. He daily handled as bad or worse than what I see weekly in the hospital. People coming to him for healing were maimed, mutilated, and desperate. They didn’t even have on clean pajamas. It is we who have isolated ourselves from the Incarnation. Our fear of the flesh is so deep that we institutionalize death and decay wh...

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The Unnecessary Death of Bianca Horton

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Yet another unnecessary death in our community. Yet another victim of gang violence. Yet another victim of fear. Yet another victim of the cowardice of someone who postures unwavering toughness. Many in Chattanooga reacted to the unnecessary death of Bianca Horton last week with outrage, anger, and sadness. Most reacted with indifference or judgment. It was the kind of exp...

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Ironman: Road Closures and Road Trips

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I have a love/hate relationship with Ironman. It’s not what you think… I hate running. Well, maybe that was what you were thinking. I hate to run but that doesn’t mean I hate the Ironman. As a matter of fact I’ve debated training for a sprint triathlon in the past. I love to bike. I love to swim. All athletes who complete 70.3 miles of run, bike, ...

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Fire + Meat = Church

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Smoke filled lungs expelled tear-filled coughs and stinging winces of singed forearms. Don’t worry! I wasn’t tortured over the weekend for my faith or something admirable like that. I smoked a brisket. If the South has taught me anything it is a deep respect and appreciation of smoked meat. Let’s be real - the only BBQ California had to offer my childhoo...

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Corner Boys will always be with us

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The Corner. What comes to mind? What images are conjured up at the incantation of this infamous locale? I would let you answer but I’d thought that I would refer to some resident experts on the corners of South Chattanooga. Here in the Alton Park The Corner is inescapable. Obviously, you have to drive around them to make it through the neighborhood. Perhaps not so o...

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Blessed are the Peacemakers

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Let's just say Friday morning was a unique experience in my young pastoral ministry. And [Jesus] opened his mouth and taught them, saying:“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.“Blessed are those who hung...

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Three Vehicles for Mission

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When we started on our urban journey we experienced growing pains as we searched for the best way to describe what we do, who we are, and where we’re going. I was given a strong classic theological education while at seminary and the roots that developed are what allow me to explore the frontier of church planting. However, I was not prepared in any way for urban, mu...

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Abandoning the Door of God's House for the Tents of the Wicked

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I watched Jr. walk out the door after grabbing a cup of coffee and some donuts. It was pretty early and church hadn’t started yet and I figured he would be back for worship. I was wrong. One minute he was sitting on the cold concrete bench with locked backdrop and the next he was gone. Not exactly the start to a Sunday I was looking for. What exactly was I looking fo...

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Listen to Speak

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I have a tendency to speak before listening or even thinking for that matter. Since I was young I worked diligently to earn the reputation of joker, opinionated, blunt… or, as my mom so politely described it: passionate. Yeah, most of the arguments between friends and I, teachers and pastors and I, my parents and I could were chalked up as “passionate” b...

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I Didn't Preach on Easter. Am I Insane?!

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Easter. One of two weekends in the church year where the pastor needs absolute focus. You would think this is the case due to the overwhelming amount of midweek worship services (Advent + Lent), added worship services on the day itself to accommodate throngs of visitors, or simply the busyness of the seasons. While all true this is not the true reason for the pastor to de...

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