May 24, 2013

This summer I’m going to the reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg on its 150th anniversary. I am not a Civil War buff, though I do find it interesting. I’m going in place of my dad. My dad, Robert H. Fowler, Sr., was a Civil War Buff, published Civil War Times Illustrated magazine and wrote an award winning novel on the Civil War entitled Jim Mundy. He passed away 11 years ago. My 3 siblings and I grew up in… Read more

May 20, 2013

I  was on a 6 pm flight from Memphis to Dallas several months ago. I had given several lectures at Memphis Theological Seminary. I had preached at their midweek Chapel service. I was physically and mentally fatigued.  It was a small American Eagle plane, the kind that has two seats on the right and one on the left and no first class. I had somehow gotten the best seat in the house! I was sitting in the first row on… Read more

May 6, 2013

“Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No.’; anything  more than this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37) Lately I’ve been translating this verse, Let your yes be “Not really, but maybe” and your no be “Sure, I guess I not.” (Matthew 5:37 the MCV version of the Bible = McKenzie’s Corrupted Version) I was doing so well earlier in the year with defining my core purpose and my essential identity and gifts and what my priorities need… Read more

April 20, 2013

For a long time Psalm 121 has been one of my favorite psalms. I used to think the opening was lovely and inspiring “I lift up mine eyes unto the hills. Whence cometh my help? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” I still think it’s inspiring, but in a more “Yikes, let’s get real!” kind of way. Because the hills are seen as places of danger. Ambushers, avalanches and wild animals come down from the… Read more

April 11, 2013

I don’t give exams in my Introduction to Preaching classes. But maybe I should start. I don’t give exams, but, instead, students are evaluated on the basis of their sermons, the content based on a written manuscript, and the delivery in class. They also write several response papers to books I assign them to read. From week to week, class consists of some combination of lectures, class discussions, and guest speakers. There is a lot of good material put out… Read more

April 9, 2013

Three occasions have arisen recently in which I have had to stand and deliver and, thank God, been able to do so. I am aware that the origins of “stand and deliver” are when English Highwaymen would stop carriages and demand that people deliver their jewels, pocket watches and valuables. It may be a dicey historical metaphor, but let’s just harvest it for the concept of coming through with what is needed in a tight spot. The first occasion was… Read more

April 8, 2013

I get asked to write a lot of recommendation letters. Today I’m writing three of them. Perhaps because I have so many other things to do today, I’m wasting time staring at my computer screen, pondering the particulars of letter writing, with which, up until now, I have not unduly concerned myself. How should I open a letter to scholarship granting organization about which I know little and in whose ranks I know no one? This calls for trying out… Read more

March 20, 2013

As Easter approaches a lot of people are under the mistaken belief that being a Christian means living in a state of untroubled emotional bliss. They may feel that periods of anxiety and depression make one repellent to God. They may feel that they should not even attempt to scale the Kilimanjaro spiritual heights of Easter Sunday joy. When preachers pray before they preach “Lord, help me to get out of the way so your message can be heard,” I… Read more

March 18, 2013

A pastor friend of mine told me the following story recently. About  ten years ago he was serving as a local pastor in Houston and owned a lake house on Lake Livingston in East Texas. The house was located in a wooded area with only two other dwellings nearby. His neighbor to the left was a vociferous atheist. His neighbor to the right self identified as a lapsed Catholic. My friend  was planning to sell the lake house to finance… Read more

March 6, 2013

I am teaching a course on preaching and storytelling at Perkins School of Theology this spring. Every Tuesday afternoon from 1:30-4:20, 12 of us gather to hear stories, tell stories. and reflect on why they are such a powerhouse and how they function in our lives. We’re shaping an understanding of Christian preaching as placing our lifestories in the context of a larger Story with a better preface and a whole lot better ending that the shrunken, shriveled stories  we’re… Read more

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