The Problem Of God, Week 1 — “The Problem Of God’s Existence”

What do you do when your faith raises so many questions that you’re not sure you can even claim it as your own anymore?

What do you do when skepticism outweighs belief and doubt overwhelms trust?

And what do you if YOUR faith is strong but the people you love can’t turn the corner of faith.

The Problem Of God, inspired by Mark Clark’s book of the same name, addresses those questions and many more. Designed for skeptic, cynic, and saint, the series will delve into some of the reasons people in the 21st Century have decided their unbelief is stronger than their belief. We believe this series will turn that around. read more

When Good Shepherd’s Mission Statement Meets A Master’s In Social Work

Earlier this week, I received this email from a Good Shepherd friend:

In our class on groups, we discussed mission statements. We discussed how some were too long, not memorable. I volunteered Good Shepherd’s as an example of a memorable, concise mission statement that said a lot without saying too much.  read more

A Chance Encounter, A Career “Missed,” And A Book Giveaway

Earlier this week, I ran into a guy at the Y who upon seeing me said brightly, “hi Talbot.”


Because while remembering something of his STORY, I didn’t remember his name.  Turns out it’s Joe.

The STORY I remembered about Joe is that he is a writer for a Muscle & Fitness magazine.  Cool job.  It made me remember the days when, in my mid-20s, I’d have give anything to become a writer of a magazine such as World Tennis or Tennis — two periodicals much changed from their heyday in the 70s and 80s — Tennis is primarily in digital form with a print edition six times a year and the World Tennis brand and name is online only. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Times Sports Have Made Me Sad

It’s been just over two years ago when, in the euphoria of Roger Federer’s sixth Australian Open and 20th grand slam overall, I wrote this piece that essentially declared the era of Djokovic & Nadal to be dead, gone, and buried.  It might have been pretty good writing but it was pretty awful predicting. read more

Greater Love, Week 3 — The “I Want To Know What Love Is” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Contrasted our needs and our wants;
  • Reminded people that God defines love and not the reverse;
  • Suggested that we don’t have a “happy problem” or a “money problem” or a “potential” problem, but ultimately a “sin problem”;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  Love is not always permissive, but it is always redemptive.


Have you ever thought about the difference between what you WANT and what you NEED? Between the optionals in life and the essentials in it? Like you WANT a chocolate covered donut (AV); you NEED cauliflower (AV). You WANT the mansion at the beach; you NEED a roof over your head and maybe even a paid off mortgage. You WANT that woman you saw in the elevator one time; you NEED more time with your kids and the wife the Lord has given you. I WANT one of those gorgeous Teslas (AV); I NEED my 10 year old Maxima with the best car payment of them all, which is 0. Yeah, there are WANTS and there are NEEDS and, believe it or not, distinguishing between those two has everything – EVERYTHING! – to do with this greater love we have been talking about at Good Shepherd. read more

Greater Love, Week 3 — “I Want To Know What Love Is”

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it.

This week’s sermon is named after a Foreigner song.

A bad one at that (though, c’mon, “good Foreigner song” is a bit of an oxymoron).

“I Want To Know What Love Is.”

Bad song.  Yet I think it’s a good message.  Because I John is going to tell us some things about love’s source and love’s shape that I don’t believe many of us have caught before. read more

“Called” — A Student Winter Retreat

This past weekend, over 200 Good Shepherd students and volunteers ventured to nearby Crowder’s Ridge Camp for their annual Winter Retreat.

The theme was “Called.”

One of the most significant moments of the weekend included a guided journey through the Prayer Chapel in which students were empowered to abandon the names that the world calls them and embrace their new identity that Christ gives them.  They then claimed that new identity on as part of this dramatic piece of art.  Enjoy: read more

A Sermon Where I Recovered My Voice

Can I tell you about a sermon in which I recovered my voice?

There was a season in the life of Good Shepherd, stretching from, say 2007 – 2010, in which I had learned the technique of a one point sermon.  So that was progress.  However, during that same time I had become enamored with another, larger church from a different part of the country … what I have earlier called a “church crush.”  That church’s signature strategy involved harnessing the power of pop culture to communicate the Gospel, and so it developed sermon series that were trendy, relevant, and, most of all, cool. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things To Know About SimplifyTheMessage.Com

Last Tuesday, the book Simplify The Message; Multiply The Impact officially “dropped.”

Then this Tuesday — otherwise known as today — the website goes “live.”

For the last several years, that space had been  But with the release of the new book, some friends and I decided the website could use a refresh, an update, and a new name. read more

A Book Release, A Workshop, A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day.

First, Simplify The Message; Multiply The Impact had its official release.

Second, I was able to celebrate that release by leading a Simplify The Message Workshop in Asheboro, North Carolina, for thirty-one United Methodist pastors eager to hone their skills.

The event was the brainchild of John Franklin Howard, long-time preacher friend and the senior pastor of Central UMC of Asheboro.  JF was able to arrange for his District — what we call the Uwharrie District of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church! — to sponsor and promote the event. read more