News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, AUGUST 6, 2006
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SCOTT MORRIS

These sermons are manna from heaven

The Rev. Dr. Randy Ashley can turn any sermon topic into a homily on food.

I like that in a preacher.

Last Sunday he started out talking about biblical patterns for prayer and ended up on fried chicken.

Although I can't speak for fellow pewmates, the sermon certainly held this member's attention.

I can't recall how the previous sermon started, but one of the three main points was peaches.

Brother Randy, as we call him, must be secure in his ministry.

As the clock nears noon and stomachs begin to wander, a lesser preacher might fear to broach the subject of grilled hamburgers lest his flock be led astray from the main sermon topic.

But our shepherd boldly leads us into the land of milk and honey, holds us for only two verses of "Just As I Am" and sends us out into the highways and byways before the Methodists can beat us to the steakhouse.

Historically, Baptist preachers are known for starting a sermon in one direction but always ending up on the evils of alcohol, tobacco and mixed bathing.

True to his calling, Brother Randy cautions us against the excesses of strong drink and limits us to grape juice at the Lord's Supper. After raising a household of daughters, he's a little hazy on mixed bathing.

On the issue of smoking, however, he leaves no doubt. He encourages it as long as it involves pork roast and hickory chips over a slow fire.

His pulpit menu also includes love, charity, patience, wisdom and barbecued pork chops. He preaches tolerance of both sweet sauces and hot-rub seasonings.

His sermons are leading us to grow in both faith and girth, and no one hesitates when it comes time to pass the plate.

Brother Randy proves that an effective minister should intersperse the four Gospels with the four major food groups.

It's sound doctrine.

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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