“Up In Arms,” Week 4 — “Righteous”

What a journey in Up In Arms.

We started out by realizing together that the people who yell the loudest have the most to hide. 

Then it was you justify your anger when you can’t justify your behavior.

Then last week Wayne Hobson brought down the house with a message called bringing down the house. read more

#TBT — That Time I Hit With Rod Laver

If you’ve been following the Australian Open at all, then you may have noticed that the featured matches are played on something called Rod Laver Arena.

Laver, for those uninitiated in the ways of tennis, was a pro player from Australia who won all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same season twice — 1962 and 1969. read more

Of Strategy And Spirit

This has been one of my primary dilemmas in church leadership:  do you rely on strategy or lean on the Spirit?

Here’s what I mean.  Back in the day, many churches (including Good Shepherd) adopted a model of church function and leadership that centered on a baseball diamond.  Borrowing liberally from Rick Warren’s enormously successful The Purpose Driven Church (and its even more successful follow up, The Purpose Driven Life), churches designed their programming in a logical, linear process that looked like this: read more

Top Five Tuesday — My Top Five Children’s Books

One of the treasures I brought back to Charlotte with me after a weekend in Austin, Texas was this copy of Jack London’s The Call Of The Wild.

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My mother used to read this one to me as we sat by the heating vent in my parents’ bedroom.  I remember being captivated by the story of the dog Buck who ultimately can’t resist the lure of Canada’s wild, remote, and frigid Yukon territory.  (There is no little irony in that memory, as today I have an unnatural fear of dogs and a perfectly healthy loathing of cold weather.) read more

“Up In Arms,” Week 3 — The “Bringing Down The House” Sermon Rewind With Guest Blogger Wayne Hobson

While I spent this past weekend with my mother (Betty Davis, age 103) in Austin, Texas, Wayne Hobson brought the message in the third week of the Up In Arms series.

Wayne was witty, insightful, compelling, and, in the words of a Good Shepherd friend, “he hit it out of the park.”

Here’s his message:  Bringing Down The House. read more

Ephesians 3: Removing All Doubts It’s About The Pronouns

Over the last couple of posts, I have distinguished between ancient Greek speech making and modern American letter writing as we looked at the New Testament letter of Paul to the Ephesians.

And Ephesians is 100% the former and 0% the latter.

The pronouns have told us so, especially that when Paul says “we” or “us” he is referring to his kinfolk the Jews and when he says “you” he addresses the Gentile Ephesians. read more

The Pronouns Have It AGAIN: Part 2 Of Ancient Greek Speech Making And Not Modern American Letter Writing. And Why It Matters.

Yesterday, I shared some insights regarding the differences between ancient Greek speech making and modern American letter writing, and as an example took you through the first fourteen verses of Ephesians.

Once readers make the proper distinction between the “we” and the “you,” they are much more able to get to the heart of the entire book. read more

How To Read New Testament Epistles: Ancient Greek Speech Making And NOT Modern American Letter Writing

Over the last month, my Men’s LifeGroup at Good Shepherd has been reading through a series of Paul’s letters, starting with First Corinthians and continuing through Ephesians.

Every morning, I have been sending them thoughts on the chapter assigned for the day.  I trust it has been helpful for them to read; I KNOW it has been helpful for my spiritual discipline and my spiritual disciplines to write. read more

Up In Arms, Week 2 — The “Justified” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Preached the RIGHT message (I hope) at the WRONG time of year;
  • Shifted the focus from Peter’s denial to Peter’s tantrum;
  • Shifted the focus from Peter to the servant girl who was “on to him.”
  • Generated a lot of moments of silence throughout the room on Moss;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  You justify your anger when you can’t justify your behavior.
  • Supplemented THAT with a final statement that came to me on Saturday:  You can’t justify your behavior, but Jesus can justify you.

A friend of mine took this picture of the bottom line on display while preaching was in effect.

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Is it OK with you if I give what I think is the RIGHT message today but do so at the WRONG time of year?  I ask that because we’re fixing to dig into a story from Mark 14 that people USUALLY deal with only in the weeks just before Easter.  We usually call it the story of Peter’s denial; it happens during Jesus’ trial for his life, there’s a fire and there’s a rooster who crows, and there are tears at the end and so preachers MOST OFTEN teach on it about two Sundays before Easter.  That’s the RIGHT time of year.  But there are some fascinating details – including the fascinating-est you’re going to have to wait for – that make me realize that if I DON’T touch on it during Up In Arms I’d get, well, up in arms.  It’s less about Peter’s denial and maybe more about his temper.  Let me show you what I mean. read more

The Value Of Sleeping On It

Earlier this week, I was wrestling with a bottom line for an upcoming sermon.

The passage in question was tricky.

The opportunity to go in multiple directions was both alluring and bewildering.

The temptation to “borrow” the insights of another preacher was real.

The late Tuesday night attempts at wordsmithing resulted in nothing but frustration. read more