John Wesley’s Epitaph

John Wesley started a religious movement in the 1700s that eventually became the United Methodist Church.

I heard this week about his epitaph. Here it is:

Revive, enforce, and defend the pure apostolic doctrines and practices of the primitive church.

Huh.

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reasons Why ‘Charismatic’ And ‘Methodist’ Are NOT Oxymorons

Throughout most of the 20th Century and now into the 21st, charismatic and Methodist Christians have had very little to do with each other.

Charismatics, who trace their modern origins to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, define themselves by expressive worship, congregational autonomy, and a steadfast belief in the most vivid and visible of Holy Spirit manifestations: praying in tongues, divine healing, and being slain in the Spirit. read more

Gods At War Launch — The “Godogamy” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Had a rare, late in the week edit in which the opening paragraph was gutted, replaced, and I think improved;
  • Had a title with a word I think I might have invented;
  • Recognized that the prelude to the Ten Commandments is as important as the commandments themselves;
  • Had a shift at the end to become about Jesus (thank you Timothy Keller!);
  • Landed at this bottom line: God loves you too much to share you.

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So I am now in my 30th year of pastoring and would you like to know something that has NEVER happened in all that time? Not once? This: no one has ever made an appointment with me, come to my office, and shared, “Pastor I need to work on becoming MORE jealous. Would you please hold me accountable so that I can increase my levels of jealousy in every area of my life?” Of course not. That’s absurd. It’s a vice, not a virtue. I’m sure that none of you have ever, on Dec. 31 of a year made this New Year’s Resolution: THIS WILL BE MY YEAR OF LIVING JEALOUSLY! Not once. Because it’s a vice, not a virtue. You know this. read more

“Gods At War” Series Begins With “Godogamy”

Most of the time, when most of us read biblical stories warning us against the dangers of idolatry, we breathe a sigh of relief: “Well, I don’t have any little tin gods around the house, so I’ve got nothing to worry about.”

And we couldn’t be more wrong.

Idolatry doesn’t require idols. It simply needs a willing and vulnerable human heart. read more

When A Friend Launches A New Venture

Claude Kayler is the founding pastor of Good Shepherd, having served it from its inception in 1991 to 1999. He is also one of my BFF Preacher Friends.

Because he built Good Shepherd on THE Good Shepherd rather than upon himself, he was a good act to follow. Many “second pastorates” are fraught with tension and failure, but because of our foundation, that was not the case way back then, when we partied (and transitioned pastoral leadership) like it was 1999. read more

Kristi Phillips Becomes Director Of Missions At Good Shepherd

Last week, while I was away in Austin, Kristi Phillips began her new position as the Director of Missions at Good Shepherd.

Don’t worry. They didn’t have to sneak that one by me.

I knew it was coming and am delighted about it.

Since 2007, Ron Dozier has been our Pastor of Missions & Community Impact. Earlier this year, we realized that we needed to leverage Ron’s relational gifts, as well as his desire to see people connect deeply into the life of the church, into the new role of Moss Campus Pastor. A happy consequence of that transition is that it has freed me up to spend a bit more time on message and series prep, as well as the forthcoming Simplify The Message; Multiply The Impact book. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Steve Miller Band Songs

The other day as I was driving around town “Jet Airliner” came on the radio. So of course I said to myself: “it’s about time for a Top Five Tuesday involving the Steve Miller Band.

Steve Miller spent some of his youth in Dallas, and even attended St. Mark’s School, one of the rivals of my own Highland Park High. Among OUR high profile graduates is the actress Angie Harmon, but as far as I know, no musicians of Miller’s fame. read more

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Week 4 — “What About The Baby Carriage?”

Yesterday’s message …

  • Concluded a series on marriage by talking about parenting;
  • Did NOT depend on Deuteronomy 6:4-8 to do so!! (Inside joke for preachers and/or long time church go-ers there);
  • Shared the resource of www.thebibleproject.com;
  • Landed at this bottom line: We tell stories so that we raise story tellers.

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Well, we have been talking about FCL, TCM here at GS recently, and for the past three weeks the focus has really been on the LOVE part and the MARRIAGE part. For the many of you who are married and for the ALL OF US who have been impacted by marriage. But as many if not most of you know, the little middle school rhyme has a third piece to it: “Then comes _ (usually some random friend) in a baby carriage.” Well what about that baby carriage? What does that do to this thing called marriage? Or, in many cases, when the baby comes before the marrying does? What does baby in carriage do to the relationship?
Because in my neighborhood I see young couples walking around with the carriages and I get a sense of nostalgia (I REMEMBER WHAT THAT WAS LIKE!) and wonder (ISN’T THAT SWEET?) Now: for the lady – true story – who puts her little dog in the baby carriage and walks it around the neighborhood, I get more of a WHAT THE? … but that’s another story. Because, dog aside, you know this because a lot of you lived this as one who went through a divorce or grew up in one: babies and children RARELY save a marriage. Instead, they usually bring a different kind of stress or tension that magnifies what was there before. And those stresses rarely get easier as the child gets older. I came across this book (AV): HOW YOUR CHILD’S ADOLESCENCE TRIGGERS YOUR OWN CRISIS. Well thanks a lot! Both to 13 year old AND to author! Now you know why we have all these 45 year olds driving Alfa Romeos that they can’t even fit in! And then, I know, as we consider this baby carriage thing that some of you here feel like you caused that divorce you grew up in. Not anything you DID, necessarily, but simply your PRESENCE. And although mom and dads and grandparents and aunts and uncles all told you it wasn’t your fault, you never felt quite that confident. So here we are. Baby carriage time and for all too many couples and households, maybe the one you’re in now, it does more dividing than uniting.
And here’s the deal. Most of the time, when churches and pastors and authors and experts deal with and teach on parenting, & marriage & the interaction of the two, they focus on the HOW. (Not HOW are babies made … that’s next week.) HOW do you raise, HOW do you potty train, HOW do you discipline, HOW do you change diapers, HOW do you get through teenage year. And there’s a place for all of that, and all of that is important, it’s just a bit premature. I want to back it up to a WHY question. Why are you given children? Whether it’s biological, step, or foster, why? What is the design and purpose from ON HIGH in entrusting you with kids? Is there a reason beyond biology? Deeper than ensuring the continuation of the species? More than keeping the name going?
Which is why Psalm 78 is such a revelation. As we say here every Sunday, the bible is library and not book and as we said THIS Sunday, within that library the Psalms is the song book. The Spotify if you’re just too digital to catch a song book reference. But SOME Psalms are songs that teach as they sing. Like my son learned the 10C to a song back in the day with the chorus Don’t bow down to idols; idols don’t love you. (Clip?) That’s really the function of the song that is Psalm 78 – it is a song that was sung to teach. And what it teaches is very much a survey of the history of the Old Testament people, the Jews, the children of Israel.
Yet the opening “verse” of the song (verses 1-7) is absolutely fascinating. Look at how it begins in 78:1 and whenever I read here, circle those words that have to do with WORDS LISTEN SAY TELL: read more

Guess Who Won A Spelling Bee?

My 103 year old mother, at her Assisted Living Facility in Buda, Texas.

And here’s the proof:

A Box Set … And Other “Box Sets” I Keep

While on this quick trip to the Texas Hill Country visiting my mother and her new assisted living facility, I decided to decorate her room in the best way I knew how. With a box set of these five books from Abingdon Press.

It’s like I told her: “Mom, it’s just like a box set of the Chronicles Of Narnia. Except for the millions of copies in world-wide sales, it’s exactly the same thing.” There’s another reason I gave her that set — she is the one who taught me to read when I was four, and from the very beginning instilled in me a love of books. That set is in many ways the fruit of her early labor. read more