Wouldn’t You Like To Know?

The authors of the bible use incredible restraint.

In contrast to our modern culture’s tendency towards too much information, the scriptural writers were masters of understatement.

Perhaps that’s because the process of writing was both expensive and painful in ancient times.

Maybe it’s because the people of antiquity didn’t devote as much energy to emotional health and dysfunction as we do.  Or maybe it’s because biblical authors are masters of literary craft. read more

Does What We Do Matter?

I find it helpful to check my own motives from time to time.

I say that because I like people to come to church.  And I have more than a few friends from Good Shepherd whom I will text, cajole, and encourage to attend service as the weekend approaches.  In fact, if you think I’m referring to you, I probably am. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Benefits Of Seeing The Bible As A Library

We say it a lot at Good Shepherd:  the bible is not a book; it’s a library.

We say it so much, in fact, that an elementary schooler in our church actually corrected her school teacher who had dared to refer to the bible as a book.  “No ma’am,” the Good Shepherd student interjected.  “It’s a library.”  (And my heart was strangely warmed upon hearing that story.) read more

#EyeRollers, Week 4 — The “Turn The Other Cheek” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Dealt with the best-known and least-loved eye roller, turn the other cheek;
  • Hinged on the reality that when Jesus speaks hypothetically in Matthew 5:38-42 become actual for him.  He becomes the stories that he tells.
  • This eye rolling section is an autobiographical preview of the Passion!
  • Led to this bottom line:  The greatest use of your rights is when you refuse to use them.

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38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. read more

Eye Rollers, Week 4 — “Turn The Other Cheek”

You don’t know how the right word at the right time can make all the difference.

I spent much of this week in Austin (as you know if  you read yesterday’s post) and while there of course spent some time internalizing this Sunday’s message.

Then on Wednesday I needed to speak with a member of our staff team regarding some details for this Sunday’s message, “Turn The Other Cheek.”  He is one of those who gets a sneak preview of the weekly sermon. read more

#TBT — Where I First Sensed A Call To #UMC Ministry

On Wednesday, as I wound up my three day visit with my mom in Austin (Betty Davis, age 102), I stopped by this church down the hill from where she lives.

It’s actually the place where I first sensed that maybe I was supposed to be a pastor and even more specifically, a pastor in the United Methodist Church. read more

Flannery O’Connor & The Source Of Inspiration

This might be my favorite graphic ever.

Favorite author articulating a treasured belief.  Inspiration to write, create, build, or achieve never arrives in your life.

It instead emerges from the hard work you’re doing when it comes to writing, creating, building, or achieving.

Instead of waiting for it, work for it. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Classes I Didn’t Take In Seminary … But Probably Should Have

Most of you who read this blog know that I loved my time at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

I was a student there from 1987-1990 and feel like it did a superb job of preparing me to be a preacher, a pastor, and a Christian.  Given the choice, I would do it all over again.

Yet I also realize there were a few necessary classes that I never took there — either because I wasn’t interested or they weren’t offered.  Here are five that could have rounded out my education and prepared me for ministry in the 21st Century. read more

Eye Rollers, Week 3 — The “If You’re Angry You’re Subject To Judgment” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message ….

  • Completely hinged on a twist in Jesus’ speaking in Matthew 5:21-26; when you notice what he does and how he does it, everything in the passage changes.
  • Used a prop of the words YOUR ANGER and YOU ANGER placed on either side of me on easels.
  • Included several personal refelctions that people thought were unusually transparent.
  • Landed at this bottom line:  Your anger fades when you face the ones you anger.

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READ Matthew 5:21-26 out loud.

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. read more

Eye Rollers, Week 3 — “If You Are Angry You’re Subject To Judgment”

Most of you know that I really like preaching.

I like the study, the brainstorming, the preparing, the delivering, and even the responding.

And in recent months, with the Simplify The Message; Multiply The Impact workshop I’ve been teaching, I have spent a lot of time putting into words things that, in my mind at least, go without saying.  Or put another way: for the sake of the students in the class, I’ve been giving expression to that which is by now second nature. read more