A Case Study In Uncovering A Bottom Line

Last Sunday (November 11) was my first message in 2018’s ThanksLiving series.  The bottom line I eventually uncovered/discovered has some real “stickiness” to it, but the process of arriving there was anything but simple.  Here’s what I mean.

I first had the Scripture — the story from Luke 17 of Jesus healing ten men with leprosy.  Only one returns to give thanks … and he is a Samaritan, an outsider, doubly rejected due to his disease and his enthnicity.  Here’s the biblical text: read more

From An “Eye Roll” To A “To Die For”: The Top Five Benefits Of A Strong Mission Statement

I have a confession:  earlier in my ministerial career I treated any conversation about church mission statements with the dreaded eye roll.

“Not again,” I thought.  “There goes someone pontificating about mission and vision, which if you ask me is just a lot of talk that compensates for not doing much work.” read more

ThanksLiving, Week 2 — The “The Loud Silence” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Led to a nerve-wracking yet liberating “open mic” time;
  • Raised the possibility that the nine people with with leprosy who DIDN’T come back in Luke 17 might not have had healing that endures;
  • Taught that nothing happens by accident in Luke because he is no accidental writer; he is a certifiable genius;
  • Led to this bottom line:  Real healing comes when your ‘Thank You Lord!’ is as loud as your ‘Help Me God!’


I suspect that all of us in this place have at one time or another heard that phrase So Help Me God come off our lips.  Or we have heard it come out of other people’s mouths.  For sure, anyone who has ever been on jury duty or served as a witness in a court case or a deposition or even been installed into elected office taken your vow with one hand on the bible and the other raised in the air and the phrase so help me God wrapping it all up.  read more

How The Four Gospels Begin … And Where They End

As we anticipate the Christmas season and its nativity stories, I have found myself in a couple of different settings explaining how each Gospel begins.

Because I believe that how each begins also shapes how each one ends.  Let me show you what I mean.

Matthew begins with a trip through Jesus’ family graveyard — a genealogy that begins with Abraham, traces God’s covenant with the Jews and includes just enough non-covenantal Gentiles to prepare you for the Gospel’s final command:  Go into all nations and make disciples . . . read more

Tennessee Weekend (Part 2) — Catching Up With Life-Altering Encounter Guy

Yesterday, I posted about the Weekend Wedding of our daughter Taylor to Nate Underwood in Nashville, Tennessee.

As part of our trip to Nashville, Julie and I dropped by the United Methodist Publishing House, to meet Brian Sigmon, a young man twenty years my junior (!) who, it’s fair to say, had a pivotal role in changing the trajectory of my life. read more

Top “Five” Tuesday — A “By The Numbers” Look At A Weekend Wedding

Julie and I spent last weekend in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, where our daughter Taylor married Nate Underwood.  After a honeymoon in Cancun, the couple will reside in the Crieve Hall section of Nashville.

But here’s an illustrated look at a wedding by the numbers.

About 160 guests gathered at the stunningly beautiful Covey Rise venue … read more

Guest Blogger Ron Dozier — The “Yours, Mine, And Ours” Sermon Rewind

As a lot of you know, I am seldom away from the Good Shepherd pulpit.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I felt my daughter’s wedding in Nashville, Tennessee, was a good reason to miss.

So I asked Ron Dozier, our Pastor Of Missions & Community Impact, to open up our ThanksLiving 2018 series.

  read more

#TBT — Rivals, Nemeses, Friends: Me & Brad Stoffel, 1980

Here I am as a senior in high school, on the far left of the picture, with Brad Stoffel and his high school tennis coach, Bill Fleming.

I’m posting this today because tomorrow, November 2, is Brad’s 57th birthday.  (And also because I miss all that blond hair.)

Why do I know and remember Brad’s birthday every year? read more

The Quickest Way To Avoid Relational Pain

We’ve all had it: relational pain.

Angry words.  Intentional oversight.  Passive aggression.  Triumphant emails.  Ended friendships.

Whether you are naturally wired to pursue confrontation or avoid it, the end result is the same  — a relationship that had been at the core of your life now removed from it. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five College Football Games Of The Century”

I recently finished Michael Corcoran’s The Game Of The Century, a behind-the-scenes look at the Nebraska-Oklahoma game played on Thanksgiving Day, 1971.

(Side note: I was playing in a tennis tournament called the Oak Cliff Thanksgiving Classic on that day.  I remember finishing my match and then rushing to the TV to watch the game.) read more