Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Most AWKWARD Strokes In World Class Tennis

It’s Australian Open time of year, which means tennis is on my mind even more than usual.

And if you know anything about what I like in tennis, you know that I appreciate aesthetics more than almost anything else.  It’s why I admire the one handed backhands hit by Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka and grudgingly tolerate the two handed machinery of Novak Djokovic. read more

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#PracticingThePresence, Week 3 — The “THROUGHs and TOs” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Was actually written in India, on my (relatively new) laptop, in November;
  • Started at a landing point and then meandered through the rest of Psalm 55 to see how it arrived at that landing point;
  • Pointed out that it’s not only the verses of Scripture that are inspired by the design and the structure … in this case, the flow of Psalm 55;
  • Taught that getting to the conclusion of Psalm 55:23 — “as for me, I will trust in You” — requires going through the turbulence of Psalm 55:1-22;
  • Had this bottom line that we distributed on a memory card:  To get TO trust you have to go THROUGH trauma.

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Have you ever noticed that in order to get TO something, you usually have to go THROUGH something else?  And the longer the THRU, the more rewarding the TO?  The more difficult the journey, the more satisfying the destination? read more

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#PracticingThePresence, Week 3 — “TOs and THROUGHs”

To get TO something, you have to go THROUGH something else.

In the Carolinas, for example, to get TO thaw this week, we’ve had to go THROUGH storm.

For this third week of Practicing The Presence, we are taking one of my favorite bible journeys ever.  We’ll see how going THROUGH a psalm — not just on paper (or papyrus!) but in life — will lead us TO a breathtaking place of serenity, peace, and faith. read more

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Praise The Lord Who … “Satisfies Your Desires With Good Things”

Psalm 103:1-5 says this:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. read more

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How We Are Practicing The Presence This Week

Practicing The Presence, our current sermon series at Good Shepherd, is all about providing practical, hands-on tools for helping people take their next step in their living relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here’s what it looks like this week:

And now you know how and why we do what we do. read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reflections From “School Of Rock THE MUSICAL”

For Christmas this past year, Julie got us two tickets to School Of Rock The Musical, a Broadway-caliber production based on the 2003 movie starring Jack Black.

The performance was last Saturday, and so Julie and headed up to Ovens Auditorium to enjoy the show.  Since it was Saturday night, and I was preaching on Sunday, I warned her:  “if it’s at all boring, we’ll leave during intermission.”ids read more

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Practicing The Presence, Week 2 — The “Nothing Compares 2 U” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Used a “prop” of a ladder;
  • Hinged on Psalm 63:0.  Yes, verse 0;
  • Did a sort of grammar test by inviting people to circle all the verbs in Psalm 63:1-8;
  • Actually had three “write them down” suggestions near the end;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  The object of your pursuit determines your level of contentment once you reach it. 

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Now this is a little different & even a little awkward: I’ve got a ladder up here.  And a lot of us climb this latter; some do it literally for painting or gutter cleaning.  And then most of us do it metaphorically, as we all have things we pursue, things we seek, things we chase, and it is as if we’ve got to climb the latter to reach it.  The most common, of course, is climbing that ladder of success, which we think of in work terms, but it’s actually much more widespread than that.  When I was a kid – and you know this – the thing I was seeking, the ladder I was climbing to reach was to be the #1 tennis player for my age in Texas.  That was the pinnacle; my whole childhood & adolescence revolved around that.  Then later that sort of pursuit had more to do with grades or church or becoming the biggest UMC in NC.  (See a pattern?) read more

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A Week Of Presence Practicing

The heart of the new Practicing The Presence series include hands-on, practical tools for people to take their next step in the living relationship with Jesus Christ.

If I preach a message letting people know that WHERE you start the day determines HOW you finish it, then we ought to provide them the empowering and the resources to make it happen. read more

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What Happens At A “Sermons That Pop & Series That Stick” Workshop?

I spent Tuesday at the Pine Valley United Methodist Church in Wilmington, NC, leading a workshop I have designed called Sermons That Pop & Series That Stick.  About 60 pastors and lay speakers attended.

The group was engaged, complimentary, and, happily for me, in a buying mood — the picked up every available copy of all the Abingdon books with the exception of Crash Test Dummies — which they got for free, simply for signing up.  read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five First Reflections On A Wilmington Trip

That’s the Wilmington in North Carolina, not the one in Delaware.

I have lived in this state for almost 28 years and yet I have never been to its coast.  Most of our beach trips in years gone by have been to the ones in South Carolina — which, paradoxically, are closer to our house in Charlotte than the NC beaches in places like Wilmington. read more

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