Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Jason Isbell Songs

I am not stuck in the 70s and 80s when it comes to my musical tastes.

Really, I’m not.

(Actually, the more I declare it, the less you believe it, I know.)

But for sure my favorite “current” artist is Jason Isbell.  My 25 year old son Riley is the first one to tell me about Isbell, which he did by giving me a copy of the seminal 2013 CD, Southeastern. read more

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ThanksLiving Launch — The “Thunderstruck” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message, which launched the ThanksLiving series, had a couple of goals:

  • To ground the OBJECT of our gratitude not in the “God of the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR” but instead very specifically in the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;
  • To move us away from lists of “what” we’re thankful for and into a mindset where we are thankful for a WHO;
  • To contrast a wheelbarrow full of salt — our mountain of mercy — with the grain of salt with which we usually regard God’s grace.
  • Borrowing some language from John Piper, to invite us to “see and savor” the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, coronated, and returning;
  • Pave the way for an open mic time;
  • Land at this bottom line:  May we never become careless with what is priceless.

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Maybe you remember hearing about the Heist of the Century a couple of years ago in Great Britain.  Because befuddled British police were shocked to find that a supposedly secure vault in a place called Hatton Garden (interesting: I live on Hatton Cross!) had been emptied of $20M in diamonds, jewelry, and cash.  Apparently security got a bit careless and a team of thieves were able to disguise themselves as workmen, climb down an elevator shaft and spend two nights breaking into the vault.  They left behind some power tools but very little other forensic evidence.  Lax security led to an incredible loss. read more

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ThanksLiving Launch — “Thunderstruck”

Thanksgiving.  It’s what we do.  We travel, we gather, we pray, we eat, we watch football, we sleep, and then we prepare for Christmas.  It’s the same year after year.

But ThanksLiving?  It’s not what we do.  It’s who we are.  Or, in the case of Good Shepherd Church, it’s who we are becoming.  People who are increasingly aware of the incomparable gift we’ve been given in Christ, and who live and give thankfully in response. read more

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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

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Sing To The King …

Matthew Bates’ Salvation By Allegiance Alone has been a mind-bending, soul-shaping, and preacher-salivating read for me over the last few weeks.

Here’s the thesis in a nutshell:

It’s a Gospel that starts with Jesus instead of me and culminates more with a Savior who reigns than with a sinner who gets saved. read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things About Having A Name Like Talbot. Or About Having The Name Talbot.

One of my earliest memories — say from when I was four or five years old — is the awareness that I have a very unusual first name.

And early on, I didn’t like it.

First, it was easy to make all kinds of vaguely insulting nicknames out of it.  TalBUTT was the name of choice my older brother gave me while Tablet was the selection from some tennis playing friends. read more

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Bringing The Tangible To An Increasingly Intangible World

I still buy books and CDs.  Books you can touch and CDs you place in a player.

My children (28 and 25) consider it almost inconceivable that I buy music in CD format and books in bound format.  To them, music & books are what you download, and I’m wasting time, money, and space by actually going to a store and buying something so . . . tangible.

We are quickly becoming people who no longer buy tangible goods; we buy binary codes. read more

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“I Felt Like A Pastor Today … “

Throughout the years, I have told a number of Good Shepherd staffers that as much as I love planning and preparing sermons as well as leading LifeGroup conversations, there come times when I simply have “to feel like a pastor today.”

By that I mean the urgency to visit in a hospital or nursing home or simply an impromptu, agenda-free visit with a congregant. read more

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Pastoring To Preach Or Preaching To Pastor?

Years ago, I heard a clergy-coaching-type ask a rather provocative question of a group of us:

Do you pastor so that you can preach or do you preach so that you can pastor?

Meaning:  as one who leads a local church, do you provide a ministry of presence in people’s most vulnerable times of life so that you build the kind of relational credibility that will make those same folks in turn listen to your sermons?  That’s pastoring to preach. read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five (Or Six) Reasons I Love Being United Methodist

I am a Christian first of all.

But within that larger confession of faith, I have identified with the particular expression known as Methodism for the last 35 years.

Now: the denomination has its flaws.  Its future is far from certain.

So I continue to ask: why have I identified with this particular expression of the Christian faith? I could have located with the Baptists or the Presbyterians or, more likely, some version of the charismatics. read more

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