The Jesus Effect, Week 2 — The “Split Decision” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message:

  • Centered around the most famously insignificant governor of all time, Pontius Pilate;
  • Open and closed with anecdotes involving funerals;
  • Took a title from a relatively obscure Steve Winwood song while also referencing Lynrd Skynrd and Pink Floyd;
  • Landed at this bottom line: When it comes to Jesus, indecision is the worst decision of them all.


time ago, I was involved in hosting a really sad funeral here.  The man who had died was only distantly
connected here, he had died suddenly & tragically, and his wife of only a
couple of months was quite literally in shock throughout.  The service itself involved a lot of moving
parts and there were all kinds of competing voices for who gets to do what and
say what as we remembered this man. 
Finally, on the day of the service, we’re starting in an hour or so, this
beleaguered wife told me that one more person had put in more request just that
morning to have a role in the service, and she concluded by saying, “I cannot make another decision on
this.  You decide yes or no on this
one.  I am all out of decisions.”
read more

Inclusio, Bookends, Romans

One of my favorite laws of literary structure is inclusio.

The less technical term is bookends.

Whatever you call it, it’s when a section of literature (biblical or otherwise) begins and ends with the same phrase or idea. Any author who employs inclusio wants to make sure that you understand the material in between the bookends in light of the bookends themselves. read more

The Bible As An Adventure

Every once in awhile, I get a fresh reminder of how the division of the bible into chapters and verses can actually get in the way of our encounter with Scripture.

Case in point: some time ago, as part of preparation for a Life Group Bible Study I lead, I read Acts 10-15 in one sitting.  That was the assignment in the curriculum and since I love to follow rules, that’s what I did. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reasons “Charismatic Methodist” Is Not An Oxymoron

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

The Jesus Effect, Week 1 — “Trading Places” With Guest Preacher and Blogger Wayne Hobson

I spent this past weekend in Austin, Texas where I had the twin delights of presiding at a wedding involving a family I’ve known during my entire tenure at Good Shepherd AND staying with my mother, 103-year-old Betty Davis.

So Wayne Hobson started the new series off for us with a story from John 9 that strikes very close to HIS heart. Called Trading Places, Wayne’s message has a memorable bottom line: Your failures STOP defining you when Jesus STARTS delivering you.    read more

“The Jesus Effect” Launches Sunday

Jesus had an effect
on people.

Many of them flocked
to him.  Others fell down before
him.  Still others gave their desperation
to him.

And then others
avoided him.  Or sought to trap him.  Or plotted to kill him.  Or betrayed him.

He was mesmerizing,
compelling, polarizing, and, ultimately, liberating. read more

#TBT — Dallas Morning News (Unless It Was The Times-Herald, RIP), Summer, 1974

Here I am on the far left, in the hat, alongside Brad Stoffel and Jeff Turpin as we pose for a newspaper photo in July of 1974.

The occasion was the National Boys’ 12 and Boys’ 14 and under Hardcourt Championships, played at our home tennis center in Dallas, the T Bar M Racket Club.

The paper took our photos because all of us were seeded in the run-up to the event. It seems like I was the seventh seed in the 12-and-unders while Brad was fourth. Jeff Turpin — older, wiser, better — was likely seeded fifth in the 14-and-unders. read more

Questions About Anger Worth Pondering

At Good Shepherd, we began 2019 with a message series about anger called Up In Arms.

And the first message in that series concluded by asking congregants to ask themselves three sobering questions regarding their own anger.

Although almost three months have passed since that message, I believe it’s a good time for you and for me to revisit them. Here they are, direct questions for any of you who spend more than your fair share of time being “up in arms”: read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reflections From A Third John Mellencamp Concert

Last Friday, Julie and I had seventh row seats at John Mellencamp’s concert at Ovens Auditorium.

We had seen him back in 1999 at Blockbuster, er Verizon, er PNC Music Pavilion in north Charlotte.  We thoroughly enjoyed that show and then saw him again in 2015 in the intimate environs of Ovens. read more

No Longer Slaves, Week 4 — The “To Be Or Not To Be” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Used a Seinfeld clip to make a point about grace.
  • Revolved around a quote BY JESUS not found in any of the Gospels but re-tweeted by Paul during a speech in Acts to the church at Ephesus. Got all that?
  • Culminated our Radical Impact Project with partners the International Justice Mission, Lily Pad Haven, and Justice Ministies.
  • Had an inquisitive bottom line: What if you were more concerned with BEING a blessing than with GETTING one?   


Is it OK if we begin today with a little lesson in
Christian-ese?  That lingo, that vocabulary that exists in sort of the
subculture of church land. Some of you grew up speaking it and didn’t know it.
Others of you are new to all this and you’re barely aware of it. Still others
just wandered in here today because we’re about a cause you believe in even if
you don’t share our core beliefs, and you hear me tell you I’m going to give
you a lesson in Xnese and you’re scared to death I’m going to start praying in
tongues.  Nope. read more