Yikes! The UNPARDONABLE Sin!

Here are words from the mouth of Jesus that we find in Mark 3:

28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

So much energy has gone in to deciphering just what is this unforgivable.  What is the point of no return, sin-wise? read more

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A Walk On The REAL Romans Road

Many of you are familiar with the Romans Road, a collection of verses from that signature New Testament book designed to lead people on the “road” to salvation.

It starts out with our Problem from Romans 3:23:

      For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It then moves to our Peril in Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death . . . And to God’s Provision in Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The Romans Road culminates in our Response in Romans 10:9: That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. All very neat, tidy, and wrapped in a bow.  Problem diagnosed, problem solved, souls saved. And all alien to the purpose of the book of Romans. Now: for the most part I support the theology behind the Romans Road.  We are sinners in need of salvation and not, to paraphrase Andy Stanley, mistakers in need of correction. Yet to read Romans through the grid of its “road” is akin to appreciating a pearl necklace by removing four individual pearls from it and admiring them and them alone. No, when you read Romans as a whole, it is clear that there is in fact a road — a primary thrust that repeats again and again throughout the letter.  But that thrust is somewhat different from the “sin-provision-salvation” model so commonly held up. Instead the Real Romans Road starts in 1:16: I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believe: 

first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reflections On A Chester SC Revival

On Sunday night, I drove thirty-seven miles due south to preach at the Annual Chester, SC (pop. 5,607) Ministerial Association Revival.

Chester’s First Baptist Church hosted the event, and if my memory is working right, it marked the first time I have ever spoken publicly at a SBC church.

Here are some of the worshippers gathering together in the moments before the service began. read more

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Eye Rollers, Week 1 — “Love Your Enemies And Pray For Those Who Persecute You”

Yesterday’s message ….

  • Connected John McEnroe and Jesus;
  • Poked at the so-called Red Letter Christians;
  • Brought Romans 5:10 to bear on Matthew 5:44-45;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  You can only love your enemies when you realize you’re the loved enemy.

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Well we are going to start Eye Rollers with the eye rolleriest of them all.  I’m sort of starting near the end of this little speech-ette, sermon-ette from Matthew 5 into which we are going to take a deep dive over the next month, but I just couldn’t wait.  Wanted to get this one over and done FIRST!  Because what we are fixin’ to look at really is one of those REALLY JESUS?! moments, one of those that make me want to go all John McEnroe on Jesus:  You CANNOT be serious clip, a there you go again moment that just is like the apex of Jesus’ absurdity.  Here is it:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. read more

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Eye Rollers Launch — “Love Your Enemies And Pray For Those Who Persecute You”

In 2014, we had Head Scratchers, a series where you knew what Jesus said, you just couldn’t figure out what it means.  Happily, that series was the first one that Abingdon Press picked up and turn into a book.

In 2016, we had Jaw Droppers, a series where we knew what Jesus did, we just had a difficult time describing it according to the laws of nature as we know them. read more

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Like Son, Like Father?

On Wednesday evening, I was able to support the ministry of my 25 year old son Riley and his wife Natalie.

What?

Yes, they are part of the Campus Crusade For Christ (these days called more simply “Cru”) at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  Riley asked me to speak to a group of his leaders as they wind down their school year. read more

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Words Making Worlds … In A 12 Year Old

Several of us on staff at Good Shepherd received this email from a mom last week:

[My 12 year old son] was sharing a story with me today on the way to school. He said some of his friends were talking about Jesus and one of the girls at the table revealed that she was an atheist. She said that “one time” she was a Christian but that she’s not anymore that “she doesn’t believe that stuff.” [My son] commented to me that he believed that she might’ve known about Christianity, but it was obvious that she had never had a living relationship with Jesus Christ. He went on to that the “living relationship” is what makes you have faith and helps you to believe. “It’s the living relationship that’s important.” read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five (Or More) Things OTHER People Should Say

There are certain phrases that those of us who are part of the church in general and ministry in particular should never use as self-descriptors.

In other words, we should never say them about ourselves . . . but we should be grateful if others say them about us.

Here are a few:

  • Claim to be a “man of God” or “woman of God.”
  • Lift up our own “integrity.” (It’s why I never could wear those Promise Keepers shirts in the 90s — the tag line said “Men Of Integrity.”)
  • Refer to our own level of “spiritual maturity.”
  • Speak of ourselves as having “class” — including the two most ubiquitous phrases in the in the “class” family: classy and a class act.
  • Emphasize the depth of our “sincerity” or “honesty.”
  • And of course, we shouldn’t boast of our humility.

I suspect that if we claim to have any of the above qualities, it’s a good indication we don’t. read more

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Bragging Rights, Week 3 — The “What We Are Like Now” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • BEGAN “old school”: we stood and read the Scripture (or, if I was going super UMC collared and liturgical, “the lection”) out loud and together;
  • Repeatedly connected the Mark 5 story of the Gerasene demoniac with the Mark 4 story of the calming of the storm (thank you, Asbury Seminary!);
  • Had a paragraph inspired directly from Timothy Keller;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  Jesus interrupts your story so you will tell his.
  • Announced our next Radical Impact Project — a record-setting (we hope) food drive with our partners at Loaves & Fishes and the Boy Scouts

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READ Mark 5:1-20 out loud

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[a] When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. read more

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Bragging Rights, Week 3 — “What We Are Like Now”

Our journey through Bragging Rights has taken us from What We Were Like to What Happened, all in order to prepare us for What We Are Like Now.

That’s this coming Sunday, April 22, and it’s a message I can’t wait to give.

Part of my excitement stems from the fact that we’ll be announcing and resourcing another Radical Impact Project … one in which we want to break a record we set way back in 2015. read more

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