Famous Last Words, Week 3 — The “Leadering And Followering” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Acknowledge a bible verse I don’t like very much;
  • Included a rare “please write these three things down” moment regarding leadership;
  • Built to a poignant video that shows what Good Shepherd At Home is like during pandemic;
  • Led to this bottom line:  Church happens not when you gain followers but when you grow leaders. 


Is it OK if I talk to you today about a bible verse that I don’t like very much?

A verse that every time I bump up against it, I think, “I can’t do that; I’m not good at it; it’s not natural to me!” And if I tell you about this verse that I don’t like so much it will actually give you an insight into what it means to be a pastor, what it means to lead in church, really HOW IT IS THAT CHURCH HAPPENS? And the result of all that is that you’ll never really look at this thing called Good Shepherd or your role in it quite the same again? Is all that OK? A verse I don’t like, what it means to be a pastor, how church happens, and ultimately your enormous place in all that? Fair? read more

Meet The Stoltenbergs

Our Communications Team is chronicling how the people of Good Shepherd have grown in their living relationship with Jesus Christ during pandemic.

So today … meet the Stoltenbergs:


Preaching Predicaments

In speaking with a preacher friend recently, I mentioned that the early part of every sermon needs to surface a problem that needs to be solved or expose an itch that needs to be scratched.

Really, then, sermon openings invariably involve predicaments.  I want the congregation asking themselves one of two questions in the early moments of the message: read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five (Or Six) Reflections On Cataract Surgery

Last Wednesday I had cataract surgery.

Quick backstory: I have worn contact lenses since I was 16 (“You mean you’re supposed to be able to SEE the individual leaves on trees? Who knew?!”).  About six years ago, I began to need reading glasses for “close in” vision; about two years ago I found a marvelous contact lens technician who turned my right eye into my reading eye and my left eye into my distance eye and voila! No more reading glasses. read more

Famous Last Words, Week 2 — The “Time After Time” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Coined a new song:  “Insulting Grace.”  Trademark efforts to come;
  • Offered reflections on Muddy Methodist Theology from a generation or so ago;
  • Encouraged listeners to be out of step with current culture as long as they are in touch with timeless grace;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  Why keep up with the times when you can be kept by the timeless? 


There’s some pressure to keep up with the times, isn’t there? It’s why I don’t wear bell bottoms or leisure suits or, even if I could, don’t part my hair in the middle and sports some mutton chop sideburns and a Fu Manchu mustache or play tennis in really short shorts or add to my 8 track tape collection. I just don’t. Have to keep up with the times. read more

#TBT — June, 1980, Texas Sectionals, San Antonio, Texas

This happened 40 years ago this week:

It’s from the finals of the 1980 Texas Sectionals Championship for Boys’ 18-and-under at the McFarlin Tennis Center in San Antonio.  I won the match and the tournament by beating Neil Adams 6-4, 6-2.

As far as I can tell, I am just following through on a backhand return of serve from the deuce court.  That high follow through was the key to adding topspin and had turned my backhand into a real weapon.  Coach Danny O’Bryant of TbarM Raquet Club had put that wrinkle to my game about two years earlier, and whatever success I enjoyed flowed from that. read more

Hey Preachers & Speakers! Did You Know There Are THREE TYPES OF BOTTOM LINES?

I admit it:  I obsess over bottom lines.

Pointed points.  Plain truths.  The one point of one point sermons.

However you label them, they are the currency of the preaching craft as I practice it.  Once I sense that after study and prayer I have arrived at a bottom line that is biblically faithful, theologically accurate, and rhetorically compelling, then the rest of the sermon design flows with relative ease. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things To Know About the ManUp Conference

This Saturday, June 20, the city of Charlotte will have its annual ManUp Conference.

Except the men won’t be coming to church somewhere in town.  Instead, in light of Covid-19, the conference will be coming to them.  Here are five things to know about ManUp 2020 …

One.  There’s A Bonus Speaker This Year.  read more

Famous Last Words, Week One — “The Overachiever’s Overachievement” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Was the first “prepared” one in three weeks;
  • Imagined a conversation with Paul and Timothy in which the apostle tells his son in the faith that he’s going to “win the New Testament!”
  • Concluded with a precious photo from pandemic of a young Good Shepherder lifting his bible during home worship;
  • Led to this bottom line, modified from a teaching I’ve overheard before:  What if your greatest achievement isn’t SOMETHING YOU DO but is SOMEONE YOU RAISE?


So one thing I guess most of us are a little skeptical of or even frightened of is OVERACHIEVERS. You know the ones I’m talking about. When you were in school, they were the first ones to raise their hands when the teacher asked a question. Call on me! Call on me! When you did sports, they were the first ones to show up to practice and often the last ones to leave. Just a little more! Just a little more! When you’re at work, they’re the first ones to kiss the new boss’ … hand! Great to have you hear, sir! Just great! Overachievers and if you’re honest they intimidate you AND underwhelm you. read more

Famous Last Words Starts With “An Overachiever’s Overachievement”

When people say their farewells, we listen more closely. Their words move from interesting to influential.

The same is even true of Paul, the pastor, missionary, and author at the center of so much of the activity and the thinking in the New Testament.

His final written words in a letter called Second Timothy, and we’re going for a deep dive into what they meant for Timothy himself and what they mean for us. read more