Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Movie Scenes That Make Me Cry

I cry at odd movies, at scenes most other people don’t find so traumatic. But anything having to do with fathers and sons or divorce or unexpected death . . . well, pass the kleenex, please.

5. Walk The Line. In this biopic of Johnny Cash there is a scene in which despite the level Johnny’s accomplishments and fame, his father responds with contempt and not approval. The ache in Joaquin Phoenix’s face turned on my tears, in large part because I never had to go through anything like that from my dad. read more

The Fine Art Of Belly-Aching, Week 1 — The “Mine Eyes Have Seen The Gory” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

Started a series based on a book many long-time church goers did not even know was in the biblical library — Habakkuk;

Explained that Habakkuk’s genre is that of complaint or lament;

Required some knowledge of the Babylonia siege and subsequent exile, as well as the internal moral compromises that made Israel so vulnerable; read more

“The Fine Art Of Belly-Aching” Launch — “Mine Eyes Have Seen The Gory”

Have you noticed that when you ask someone, “how are you doing?” and they answer, “can’t complain,” that they’re REALLY telling you that if they COULD complain they sure WOULD?

Complaining. Whining. Belly-Aching.

Whatever you call it, a lot of us are good at it. In fact, some of us have elevated it to an art form. read more

Believe It And Not

One of my favorite verses is Mark 9:24, where a father who has asked Jesus to heal his son has the honesty to say this:

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I love it! I have faith and no faith. I trust and I don’t. I’m with
Jesus and I’m not. All at the same time! I’m right handed and I’m left
handed. I’m a Democrat and an Republican. Red state and blue state. Tea
Party and progressive. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Ambivalent, ambiguous,
real. Double minded and so very human. So very me. Love it, love it,
love it. read more

How To Kill A Sermon

I know a preacher is in trouble whenever he or she says, “Webster’s defines ___________ as __________________.” 

Why is a dictionary reference a sure-fire sermon killer?

Because in preaching you should never define a word with more words.

You define a word by painting a picture.  Or doing a demonstration.  Or performing an experiment.  read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reasons I Have A Roger Federer ManCrush

It’s Wimbledon week which means I am both easily distracted and lacking in any objectivity.

I want Roger Federer to win his ninth. Whenever he plays, I want him to win.

I’m not alone in this. Will Skidelsky wrote a laugh-out-loud memoir called Federer And Me: A Story Of Obsession.  I could have written it.  Not as well, mind you, but with the same spirit.   read more

Look Intently At WHAT?

Think of all the things that get our double takes:

Beautiful people.

Sunsets on the beach.

Sunrise on the beach.

Mist rising from the mountains.

The colors in a kaleidoscope.

A city skyline at night.

Beautiful people.

And James throws in this line early in his sermon:  “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:27). read more

Proving A Point Or Shaping A Life?

I have recently realized that much of my bible reading is in order to prove a point.  If I am in a religious or political or cultural debate with someone, for example, then I’ll just pull out my Scriptures, point out the relevant verses, and voila!  Point proven.

Which in the grand scheme of things is a poor use of inspired words. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Bible Passages To Use In The Hospital

It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say I cut my ministry teeth on hospital visitation.

Whether it was Clinical Pastoral Education in seminary or a heavy dose of the “ministry of presence” during my time at Mt. Carmel UMC in Monroe and even now to a team of people who help, I have always attached great importance to what we as a church can do when folks are hospitalized. read more

Escape From Average, Week 5 — The “Dying To Go To Church” ‘Sermon’ Rewind

Yesterday we closed the Escape From Average series with what we call internally a “movement” service.

Rather than a straightforward music set followed by preaching, we had a service flow built around some different worship elements. We interspersed music and prayer within the message itself. read more