Words Making Worlds … In A 12 Year Old

Several of us on staff at Good Shepherd received this email from a mom last week:

[My 12 year old son] was sharing a story with me today on the way to school. He said some of his friends were talking about Jesus and one of the girls at the table revealed that she was an atheist. She said that “one time” she was a Christian but that she’s not anymore that “she doesn’t believe that stuff.” [My son] commented to me that he believed that she might’ve known about Christianity, but it was obvious that she had never had a living relationship with Jesus Christ. He went on to that the “living relationship” is what makes you have faith and helps you to believe. “It’s the living relationship that’s important.” read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five (Or More) Things OTHER People Should Say

There are certain phrases that those of us who are part of the church in general and ministry in particular should never use as self-descriptors.

In other words, we should never say them about ourselves . . . but we should be grateful if others say them about us.

Here are a few:

  • Claim to be a “man of God” or “woman of God.”
  • Lift up our own “integrity.” (It’s why I never could wear those Promise Keepers shirts in the 90s — the tag line said “Men Of Integrity.”)
  • Refer to our own level of “spiritual maturity.”
  • Speak of ourselves as having “class” — including the two most ubiquitous phrases in the in the “class” family: classy and a class act.
  • Emphasize the depth of our “sincerity” or “honesty.”
  • And of course, we shouldn’t boast of our humility.

I suspect that if we claim to have any of the above qualities, it’s a good indication we don’t. read more

Bragging Rights, Week 3 — The “What We Are Like Now” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • BEGAN “old school”: we stood and read the Scripture (or, if I was going super UMC collared and liturgical, “the lection”) out loud and together;
  • Repeatedly connected the Mark 5 story of the Gerasene demoniac with the Mark 4 story of the calming of the storm (thank you, Asbury Seminary!);
  • Had a paragraph inspired directly from Timothy Keller;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  Jesus interrupts your story so you will tell his.
  • Announced our next Radical Impact Project — a record-setting (we hope) food drive with our partners at Loaves & Fishes and the Boy Scouts


READ Mark 5:1-20 out loud

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[a] When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. read more

Bragging Rights, Week 3 — “What We Are Like Now”

Our journey through Bragging Rights has taken us from What We Were Like to What Happened, all in order to prepare us for What We Are Like Now.

That’s this coming Sunday, April 22, and it’s a message I can’t wait to give.

Part of my excitement stems from the fact that we’ll be announcing and resourcing another Radical Impact Project … one in which we want to break a record we set way back in 2015. read more

Young Adult Insights Into The Wild Bible

On Wednesday evening, the Young Adult (18-28) LifeGroup that meets in our house explored three of the worst stories in Scripture.

Using Sandy Richter’s Ruth study from the Epic Of Eden, the group learned about these wretched events:

  • The incestuous origins of the Moabits & Ammonites from Genesis 19 (as well as the possibility that the story’s conclusion in 19:38 was a calculated laugh line for Israelite culture;
  • The gang rape and dismemberment of the Levite’s concubine in Judges 19;
  • The orgy for Baal in Numbers 25.

So when Richter’s video concluded I asked:  Did you know these stories were in the bible?  (By and large, no).  Does it make you question the authority or value of the bible?  And the answers to that SECOND question were especially enlightening. read more

Why So Many Of Us PREFER Chaos To Calm

Mark 4:35-41 contains this fabulous little story whose meaning is wrapped up in its subtle choice of words:

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Proofs I Am Third Most Innocent

My signature accomplishment in high school was being awarded Third Most Innocent in the senior superlatives edition of our campus newspaper.  Here’s the proof:

Anyway, five moments during a recent Eagles concert showed me just how accurate that “award” was.  Here goes:

  1. I did not know what the “warm smell of colitas” was until … last year when I asked on Facebook.
  2. I did not know how there could be both “lines on the mirror, lines on her face” until 2013.  And then, not from personal experience.
  3. I did not know what “the doctor says he’s coming but you’ve got to pay in cash” referred to until earlier this spring.
  4. I still don’t know what “so put me on a highway and show me a sign” refers to.
  5. I did, however, know what “spent the last year Rocky Mountain Way” meant.  Again, thankfully, not from personal experience.

Maybe I’ll win FIRST Most Innocent at a future reunion. read more

Dealing With Opposition

(No sermon rewind today as Ron Dozier preached at Good Shepherd yesterday.)

I have had seasons where I’ve had somewhere I wanted to go, some things I wanted to do, and at every turn (not that I was seeking it out!) – someone or something stands in opposition. And the more of a solutionist you become the more opposition you can expect. read more

#TBT — Texas Sectionals, Corpus Christi, TX, 1973

Here I am at 11 losing — badly — to Boyd Bryan in the quarterfinals of the 1973 Texas Sectionals for Boys’ 12-and-under.

I’d estimate the score was 6-1, 6-2, maybe 6-2, 6-3.  Boyd never missed and when I was 11 I had already started serve-and-volleying, and I missed a lot. read more

When The People In Next Step Know Better Than You Do

At Good Shepherd, we talk all the time about inviting all people into a living relationship with Jesus Christ.

But what exactly is a living relationship with Jesus Christ?  What does it look like?

Early on, we narrowed it down to seven “marks” or “measures.”  Here’s what they look like in our Next Step workshop curriculum: read more