Why Pastors Ride Harleys

Have you ever noticed how many pastors ride Harleys? According to my own Let’s Look Around Research Institute (LLARI) there are more motorcycle riders per capita among pastors than any other profession outside of motocross.

And I know why.

I Know Why

Riding a motorcycle is Bad. Bad, not sinful. Robbing a bank is bad…and sinful. Cheating on your wife is bad…and sinful. Riding a Harley is simply Bad. Bad as in cool. Bad as in “I’m not that wimpy, overweight, short tie-wearing, fried-chicken eating, fundamental, missionary minded, 1611, Baptist pastor.” No, I’m cool. I’m a real guy—a tough guy.

It’s not hard to spot the Harley riding pastor, especially on Sunday morning. Every fifth illustration in their “talk” begins with something like, “Earlier Harleythis week I was up on the Blue Ridge Parkway riding my Harley when…” I have to admit that grabs my attention quicker than “The other day while driving my 2003 Buick LaSabre to Wal-Mart,…”

These pastors don’t just tell the story, they show it. As the words “Blue Ridge Parkway” hit the invisible mic protruding from their right ear, up on the Hi-def screen flashes the pastor on his bike. And the congregation silently oohs and aahs. Our pastor is K-o-o-l. All across the sanctuary-turned-auditorium hundreds inwardly commit to inviting their friends and neighbors to “come hear our Bad pastor.”

Pastors have an image problem. Continue reading

Captain Herb Emory

Captain Herb Emory

Captain Herb Emory (Courtesy WSB Radio)

While I leaned on his bird’s eye view of Atlanta traffic to navigate my commute, I came to respect the man I never met. Captain Herb Emory gained my respect, not by something he did, but by something he would not do.

Like many across Atlanta, I am mourning the death of Captain Herb Emory. Today is the first morning commute knowing he will never tell us “we are the only ones up in the air this morning.”  Capt. Herb died of a massive heart attack this past Saturday, ironically responding to a traffic accident near his home. He was 61.

For those of us who only knew Capt. Herb via WSB radio, there was a lot to admire about him. Yet, for me one thing stands out. Continue reading

Ever Wish Life was Like a Hallmark Movie?

Elegance teen faceOnce you  have seen a couple of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, you know what to expect when a “new” one is introduced. You can count on finding a beautiful, yet not quite “perfect,” girl with a difficult past who has to choose between her current love—an arrogant, insensitive jerk—and a new acquaintance who is kind, good looking, patriotic and certainly available.  There is  just enough drama and conflict to keep us engaged  and to stick through the commercial breaks for more. Even though we know it is coming, the final kiss in the snow gives us the warm feeling that life is well and the good people win. Ahhh! Hallmark movies are vegetable beef soup for the soul.

Christians can be attracted to such movies because of the absence of foul language and underlying themes of forgiveness, grace and love. And it’s even better when our love can be directed toward those who have managed to make it through some of life’s most difficult personal challenges like single-parenting or the death of a dear family member. We also like the justice element afforded us in these movies. The writers know this and, therefore, create that arrogant, insensitive jerk who will get what he deserves…and so we won’t feel so bad when the main character dumps him for the lonely new guy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was like a Hallmark movie?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the “Christian” life was like a Hallmark movie? Wouldn’t it be nice to encounter a few bumps in the road and then find an open and wide smooth highway with only minimal traffic? Wouldn’t it be nice if every problem Continue reading

A Selfish Prayer?

On my way to work this morning I asked myself a perplexing question.  It was a question anyone else would think stupid, not perplexing. The only thing you would find perplexing is that I found it perplexing. The answer is so abundantly obvious, why would anyone bother asking it. It was along the lines of, “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”  Duh!  But I asked it anyway.

Because my car radio was dead, I had some additional time during my commute to think…and pray. The last few days I had been convicted of my lack of prayer for my children and, therefore, I was busy catching up on prayer along Pleasant Hill Road. Then came the question: Is it selfish to pray for MY kids?  Wait! Let me explain the question.

Is it selfish to pray for MY kids?

There are billions of children around the world. Therefore, should I care more about MY four kids than any of these other children?  Just because they are MY kids, should I Continue reading

Does the Bible Downplay Physical Exercise?

BodyBuilderShould Christians put much effort into physical exercise? The question is prompted by a perplexing phrase in the Bible.

The church our family attended when I was young used the Old English translation of the Bible known as the King James Version, (KJV).  The KJV translated the phrase this way, “For bodily exercise profiteth little.”* Therefore, we could conclude the Bible downplays the value of physical exercise. But does it?

If the Bible deemphasizes physical exercise then many of us have a problem.

I am a proponent of physical exercise. As a member of the Metro-Atlanta YMCA, I regularly engage in “bodily exercise”—and my current level of Platinum, earned by workout points, evidences my commitment. I also have a drawer overflowing with t-shirts earned from running races. And hanging on a wall are medals that were gently placed around my neck after crossing the finish lines of marathons. My passion for wellness is further evidenced by my Raving Wellness Blog and periodic presentations on corporate wellness.  I believe in physical exercise. Yet, is there a conflict for me and others who profess an adherence to the Bible and who are also committed to physical exercise? Continue reading

Revealing: What’s On Your Christmas List?

It’s a common question being asked today: What’s on your Christmas list?

The question is revealing long before an answer is given. Why? Because the question, itself, exposes us—the gift-giver. It tells us something about ourselves. When this question rolls off our lips it may convey one of the following things about us:

a)      We care enough to give a gift the recipient would enjoy receiving.

b)      We fear the wrath of the recipient if they don’t get the gift they want.

c)       We are so practical we see no need for the “surprise” element in gift-giving.

d)      We don’t know the recipient well enough to know what they want or need.

It’s the latter answer, (d), that has me thinking this Christmas season.

ChristmasGiftThe ability to give a gift that “fits” shows knowledge. It demonstrates that the gift-giver knows the recipient well enough to know what the recipient needs or would enjoy. When we have to ask for a list it may indicate that the relationship is weak.

If we are talking about a gift for the mail carrier or our dry cleaner, we shouldn’t be concerned that we don’t know them well enough to know what gift would be particularly meaningful.  But when it is a spouse, child or Continue reading

He Was Old Enough to be My Father

I was a preteen when our family met the Julian family. We were a family of three kids; they were a family of four kids. The Bruces and the Julians were at Bible Town in Boca Raton, Florida for a music conference for church music directors. My dad was the Music Director for the Westside Alliance Church in Birmingham; David Julian was the same for the First Alliance Church in Atlanta. When my dad and David met it was an instant connection because of the denominational affiliation. What I didn’t know is that there would be another connection 30 years later.

David Julian 1938 - 2013

David Julian
1938 – 2013

I couldn’t have dreamt one of those in the Julian family would later become one of my best friends. It wasn’t one of three boys, (or Janna),—all of whom were about my same age. No, it would the oldest of the bunch—the father.

Years later I would see Dave from a distance as he was a regular pianist at the annual national meeting of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I admired his talent as a musician. In 1999 I moved to Atlanta and joined the staff of the Lilburn Alliance Church, (LAC), where Dave was the longest residing staff member. A friendship was born.

Dave passed away on Friday. Continue reading