Top Five Tuesday — Top Five “I Want To Preach Like …”

Occasionally I will hear or see or read people in other disciplines of either art or communication or sports and think to myself:  “That’s the way I’d like to preach …”

So here are five.

One. I’d like to preach like Jason Isbell writes songs.  Personal, confessional, and wry all at once.  I’ve often said that his songs arrive at the intersection of recovery and poetry and this latest is a prime example.  “It gets easier but it never gets easy.” read more

I Pity The Fool, Week 2 — The “Now Or Later” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Acknowledged that most of us are NOW people, not LATER people;
  • Dug into Proverbs’ strange command to “consider the ant”;
  • Gave a not-so-friendly shout out to state lotteries;
  • Landed at this bottom line:   Fools want to be DELIVERED while the wise long to be DEVELOPED.

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So I am a little bit eager today because I get to tell you something in a little while that I KNOW will help your life, it will help your finances, it will help your emotions, and it will help your relationships. It will be really helpful. AND what makes me especially excited is that this thing I’m going to tell you will 1000% connect to what we do as a church and even why we say what we say. And as if all that couldn’t get any better, I’m going to do all of this by talking about … ANTS. Fabulous, isn’t it? read more

#TBT — May 1980 Which Makes It FORTY YEARS AGO

The school was Highland Park High School and our nickname was the Scots.

That’s why the school newspaper was called The Bagpipe.

My best friend was the co-editor our senior year and so maybe he’s the one who wrote the caption.  I think I was pretty skillful in avoiding any photographs of my forehand, by the way. read more

Saved By Works

Wait, what?

Why would I, a preacher in the Christian, Protestant, Methodist tradition, title a blog post “Saved By Works”?

Is not our faith defined this way:“by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)? The fact that God does for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves distinguishes Christianity from every other belief system and religion in the world.  To a certain degree it even distinguishes the Protestant tradition from the Catholic one. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five (Or Six) HIGHLY PERSONALIZED Steps Towards Preaching Without Notes

Preaching without notes is the opposite of “winging it.”

In my case at least, it is the result of a highly personalized (OK, maybe even somewhat OCD) process that’s built on these three premises:

  • Internalize, don’t memorize
  • If you get lost during delivery, you’re the only one who knows
  • Engage with people, not paper (or for iPad preachers, congregation, not screen).

The Process Emerging From The Premises

1. Write The Manuscript. As you well know, preparing a manuscript featuring both biblical accuracy and rhetorical precision has been the subject of the previous six chapters of the book. Yet I find this twist interesting: a manuscript’s main purpose is to disappear. As Dr. Jerry Mercer, my first preaching professor at Asbury, told us, “Write your manuscript out and then leave it at home.” It took a few months to embrace that wisdom, but I have been living it ever since.
I make sure that my manuscripts have narrow margins and double spacing – the better to scribble on during the week. read more

“I Pity The Fool” Launches — The “Dumb And Smarter” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Reflected my own amazement from Proverbs 1:7 that fools DESPISE (not just ignore or avoid but actively DESPISE!) wisdom and instruction;
  • Reminisced about the role of that verse in filtering false wisdom from true while I was in college;
  • Touched on what all the “smart people” are saying about gender these days;
  • Allowed worshippers — and you! — to download Proverbs 1:7 as a memory verse wallpaper on your phone simply by going to gsumc.org;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  Fools never start what the wise never stop. 

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So we are pitying fools this month at GS and as I have thought about all that and our relationship with FOOLERY (and his cousin Tom), I realize it is not static. Almost none of us are ALL ONE or ALL THE OTHER – like we’re not 100% foolish or 100% wise. You know this. That’s why I have three categories up here with signs to back them up. read more

“I Pity The Fool” Starts Sunday With “Dumb & Smarter”

We will dig into Proverbs for the next several weeks and do so through the lens of the wise and … the foolish.

You’ll be able to download a wallpaper memory verse each week for your phone.  This week it’s Proverbs 1:7, the foundation not only of the book of Proverbs but this Sunday’s message as well. read more

Why Use Words When You Can Smith Them?

Some preachers use words.  Other preachers smith them.  One of my growing edges in ministry over the last decade or so has been to abandon the former and embrace the latter.

Smithing words is especially important when, in a one point sermon, you craft the bottom line.  The pointed point.  The take-away.  Here are some tools that have helped me along the way … read more

A Mother’s Day Gift Birthed On Easter

This Mother’s Day gift is one of my favorite things ever.

Here’s why.  During my Easter Sunday message, I lamented how difficult it is to represent the empty tomb artistically.  The cross is much easier and as a result we have crosses that adorn our churches and decorate our jewelry.  That’s not bad, of course, but in the spirit of Romans 5 that sermon longed for the how much more of Empty Tomb Art. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Moody Blues Songs

Art rock.  Psychadelic rock.  Prog rock.  Whatever you want to call it the Moody Blues were at the forefront of it.

I remember when I was about six years old and my older brothers and sisters had some of their albums in our house in Dallas — and I thought both the sound of the music and the art on the LPs were just about the coolest things in the world. read more