Remaining Sane: Finding Peace in our Chaos

Will Madison is a fascinating and fruitful brother in Christ. He's a young, Union University grad who serves as a policeman in Chattanooga. Along the way, he's met an old colleague and friend of mine, Ben Mitchell, who's retired down that way and has encouraged Will in his walk and his mission to provide spiritually-helpful podcasts to fellow policemen. It's a stressful profession, one in which you can become jaded, cynical, depressed, and even nihilistic. And so he records conversations with folks whom he thinks might help sort out the big questions of meaning in life. For this episode, he drove up from Chattanooga and interviewed me in our dining room. It was a privilege to pitch in.

Podcast, September 29, 2023

The Blessed Life (Matthew 5)

It's always a joy to see former students, and a particular pleasure when they invite you to preach. So thanks go to Grant Castleberry, the pastor of Capital Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, for the invitation. In this case, the relationship goes deeper. He's married to the former GraceAnna Broggi, and my daughter Chesed is married to GraceAnna's brother, Jeremy Broggi, so that makes Grant and me second-in-laws-in-law or something. Grant's an extraordinary man. Besides being a theologian on his way to a doctorate, he's been a Marine (or, as they say, "He is a Marine"), the chief "yell leader" (a campus-wide, elected position) for the Texas A&M Aggies, and a mainstay for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. In this message, I used the Beatitudes in the introduction, and then went on to preach that there were ten other beatitudes in chapter 5, the text he asked me to address, e.g., "Blessed are the Salty . . . Luminescent . . .etc." I much enjoyed preparing this message. BTW, I have no idea what I'm doing with my hands, but I'm sure it was effective.

Raleigh, NC, July 9, 2023

Mark Coppenger on Blue Like Jazz

Back in 2003, a colleague at asked me if I’d read Donald Miller’s book, Blue Like Jazz. He wanted my opinion since the youth director in his Virginia church was much taken with it. I bought a copy and read most of it in one sitting on a plane trip. It was an engaging piece of work, a page-turner, and I liked some of what I read, e.g., his defense of tithing. But reservations kept cropping up, and they were foremost in my mind when my son Jed, who was president of the SBTS student theological club, asked me to give my impressions to one of their gatherings. Here’s the audio, which colleague Denny Burk was kind enough to post. Afterwards, I wrote up a brief column on it for the Illinois Baptist (the state Baptist paper in my Evanston Baptist Church-planting days), and then Baptist Press picked it up. Playing off Miller’s title, I listed ten blue-like features, including “like Blue Oyster Cult.” (Cf. the SNL parody, with Christopher Walken calling on Will Farrell for “more cowbell.”) When BP ran it, they somehow left this one out, providing the other nine, e.g., “like Blue States” and “like Pabst Blue Ribbon.” Not surprisingly, Donald Miller was not so pleased when he picked up on it. He posted a response, and then we had an email exchange or two (more cordial than you might think). And then we went about our business.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2006

The Best of the Theologians on Christian Film

About ten years ago, I got to know Christian film maker, Todd Shaffer. I think the original introduction came from a boyhood acquaintance from the South who’d met Todd through ministry in Canada. Before long, we met face to face in Nashville, and I was able to shoot some video with him—a Q&A re his work—for my SBTS course in aesthetics. Right off, I was very impressed with his animated work on the nativity, The Promise, and I had occasion to follow along as other productions unfolded, including some script reading. Todd’s a remarkable man, and his site,, is a treasure. Here’s a tiny bit of what he offers there, the audio from conversations with a few of us evangelicals.

Nashville, Tennessee, November 16, 2021

John 3:16 Against the Cultural Tide

Back in 2007, I preached this message in Chapel at Southwestern. I went word by word through the KJV rendering of John 3:16, showing how each of the twenty-words got cultural pushback. And yes, that included ‘For,’ ‘so,’ ‘the,’ ‘that,’ and ‘in.’

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, July 7, 2016