“Wait For It” Week 4 — The “Worth The Wait” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Came from Galatians 4:1-7, not a section of Scripture normally associated with Christmas;
  • Celebrated how Paul reveals that family as much as forgiveness is at the heart of faith;
  • Led to this bottom line:  You can stop fighting for approval and start living from it.
  • That bottom line led to a closing worship moment where people received an “Approved” stamp on the back of their hands.  It went exactly how we envisioned it would.  People used the stamps as conversation starters and church connectors throughout our area on Sunday afternoon.

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Some of you may know this and others don’t, but there is one stat that I find especially interesting. It’s this:  in raising kids, it takes nine positive affirmations to offset one negative in the mind of your child.  I’m not saying it’s FAIR, moms and dads, I’m just saying it IS.  Now when some of you parents hear that stat, it’s like a punch in the gut and you want to race out because you KNOW you’ve got a lot of affirming to do; you’ve got quite a bit of ground to make up.  Others here who are a bit older, you know realize why your child-rearing years were such a strain and there are still so many scars:  you were trying to be helpful, you wanted your criticism to be constructive, but now you know that what was RECEIVED was more than what was intended.   It’s all so tricky … like the mom who finished a frankly nerve-wracking drive w/ her daughter behind the wheel w/ learner’s permit.  Mom got out of the care and said, “thank you!” Daughter answered:  “anytime.”  Mom replied: “I wasn’t talking to you.” read more

HOW JOHN THE EVANGELIST WAS LIKE JOHN THE NOVELIST

One of my favorite novelists is John Irving.

He’s the author of books that are both critically acclaimed and wildly popular, such as The Word According To Garp, A Prayer For Owen Meany, and The Cider House Rules.

Most Irving novels blend high hilarity, deep pathos, and improbable plot twists to craft narratives that are both entertaining and enriching. read more

A Christmas Tree Ornament From Someone Who GETS Me

I found this ornament on my desk this week.

And I thought:  “There’s someone who understands what makes me tick.”

It’s an ornament based on the Wait For It Series.

And it has my Sunday morning Breakfast Of Champions.

What more could I want?

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things I’d Want To Do If I Didn’t Preach

When I went to college, ministry was not on my mind.  I had headed up north for school, recognizing that pro tennis was likely not going to work out, and therefore I should get a top notch education.  After that?

Law school is what I figured.  My father had been a law professor, an older brother was an attorney (now a judge), and it seemed to be in the genes. read more

Wait For It, Week 2 — “The Waiting Game” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message was ORIGINALLY supposed to be delivered last Sunday, December 9, but we of course were snowed out.

Yet I knew we HAD to present this one.  Why?  Well, I liked the exegetical work on Jeremiah 33.  I liked the metaphor of wood.  I liked the bottom line.  But I loved the video that Chris Macedo and team put together to cap it off. read more

Wait For It, Week 2 — “The Waiting Game”

Many years ago while I was pastoring in Monroe, I had a UMC preacher friend who chose the most interesting time to pump her fist and say “Yeah!”

When there was a snow-out.

In those days, that meant that the sermon you prepared for this Sunday could be delivered next Sunday when the snow had melted.  In smaller churches with fewer moving parts and no clearly defined Sermon Series, it was an easy move that alleviated the pressure of message preparation.  The sermon you prepared for the day it snowed can easily get preached one week later. read more

#TBT — This Was Us, 2002

This was us in 2002.

Wonder what the card will be like sixteen years later?

How A 1993 Cassette Sermon Paved The Way For A 2018 Digital Church

Some dear friends from Good Shepherd handed me this cassette tape on a recent Sunday morning.

When I was a young preacher in Monroe, North Carolina, the ministry of Lenny Stadler at Weddington United Methodist Church almost defied belief.

Throughout the decade of the 1990s, he led what had been a sleepy little country church into the kind of growth that made it one of Methodism’s superstars. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reflections From A Snow Day Weekend

Winter Storm Diego made an unwelcome appearance in Western North Carolina this past weekend, and so we didn’t have church on Sunday.

That doesn’t mean the weekend was without high drama and poignant moments, all of which are worthy of some reflections below.

1. An Asheville wedding, a lumpy throat, and a lot of beauty & handsomeness.   The weekend began with the wedding of Kaitlin Stevens and Kevin Hoffman in Asheville.  The forecast was so dire that I had already secured former GSUMC staffer and current Asheville pastor Rich Tuttle as a substitute in case Julie and I had to leave early. read more