Practicing The Presence, Week One — The “The Best Part Of Waking Up” Sermon Rewind

Our Practicing The Presence series is inspired by Brother Lawrence’s 17th century devotional classic, Practicing The Presence Of God. 

My goal is that people will learn and experience first hand how to have a union with God is that active and not static; living and not stagnant.  That’s why the sermon concluded with a guided prayer experience and it’s also why we distributed prayer guides for the rest of the week. read more

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Clergy Fashion Statements

While reading Jessica LaGrone’s Set Apart, I came across this interesting factoid about prophetic garb:

Which made me wonder: how is it today that clergy let you know what they do by how they dress?

For sure, in the liturgical tradition, it’s involves a collar, a robe, and a stole … sometimes even all three. read more

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When Humans Get Trafficked In The Bible …

In the final chapter of the book of Judges, the ancient Israelites — bereft of leadership and devoid of faith — come up with a sickening solution to an unexpected problem.

The problem?  Not enough women of child bearing age in the tribe of Benjamin.

The solution?  You have to read it for yourself: read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five (Or Eight) Reflections On U2’s New Album

U2 released its 14th studio album, Songs Of Experience, in early December and so when my son asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said, “you can get me that new U2 CD.”

Despite his objections that I should simply get it on Spotify (first, I’d have to get Spotify) or download to my device (ditto, iTunes), he relented and picked me a genuine, three dimensional, CD version of the new collection. read more

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#TBT — Cotton Bowl TENNIS CLASSIC 1983

When I was a kid, the week between Christmas and New Year’s typically meant the Cotton Bowl.

The tennis tournament, not the football game.

Huh?

That’s right.  Dallas was then and is now the host of a holiday-flavored, mostly-indoor tennis tournament.  Back in the day, the Cotton Bowl was played in the “Automobile Building,” a cavernous, barely-heated structure located at Fair Park, home of the world famous Texas State Fair. read more

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Occupying Oxygen And Aggravating Listeners

Considering that I am in the “business” of, um, public speaking, I find myself paying attention to how it is that people speak publicly.

And in all that paying attention I have noticed how often we use “nonsense” words … words that operate  in speech much like ellispses (….) or commas (,) do in writing: they fill the air but add no meaning. read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reflections From Christmas Eve 2017

For the first time in more than 10 years, Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday this year.  That required making decisions, adjusting schedules, empowering volunteers, and praying for the best.

Here are some reflections from what we experienced together at Good Shepherd this year …

1. The Candlelight Moment is for sure the most beautiful moment of the Christian year.  Even our 10 am service concluded with candlelight.  A friend of mine took this photo from the 5 p.m. gathering. read more

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Christmas Eve At Good Shepherd

Staff and leaders have finished hand delivering hundreds of these candy cane invites to our neighbors on both the Moss Road & Zoar Road campuses.

Ever since my earliest days in ministry, I have thought, “why would anyone show up at church if you’re not willing to go out and invite them?”  So we did. read more

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Wisdom From Barclay

William, not Charles.

William Barclay is the author of the Daily Study Bible, a classic collection of New Testament commentaries. Though he writes from the perspective of mid-20th century neo-orthodoxy, his reflections on biblical passages often have singular insight.

So it was recently as I was studying up on Matthew 23 in preparation for a message. Here’s what Barclay says that caught my attention: read more

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If These Walls Could Talk …

I continue to be amazed at the level at which people share with me in counseling.

It is a high privilege that people trust me with so much.

It is also a deep responsibility.

What does that responsibility demand of me in pastoral counseling?

  • Confidentiality — if people trust me with the deepest, most painful areas of their lives, they deserve to know that what they share is between me, them, and God.
  • A good ear — it is vitally important that I listen well. Listening involves a lot more than simply being in the same room without earplugs in! It involves eye contact, posture, and the right questions at the right time.
  • Truth — there are times in counseling when people need to hear the truth. Especially if that truth is not what they want to hear! This has been my area of greatest improvement through all the years of doing this. It is so freeing for both counselor and counsel-ee. In the long run, people are grateful for hearing what is right and true even if it challenges what they desire in the moment.
  • Biblical Hope — I may not have a physician’s stethoscope or medicine bag, but I have the Word.  And when people in distress are able to memorize and internalize Scripture, the impact on both counseling and healing is enormous.
  • Prayer — this is what separates pastoral counseling from every other kind of counseling. It is rare that I don’t begin and end these kinds of conversations with prayer.
  • read more

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