Top Five Tuesday — Five (Or Seven) More Great Dawes Songs

Back in November, I had a blog about my new favorite Band, Dawes, while listing their top five songs. You can read it here.

However, in my Dawes’ Naivete at the time, I didn’t even know they had two additional albums that I had never heard.

Now I have. And they’re superb. So here are more songs from a band who is a little bit Eagles, a little bit Steely Dan, even a little bit Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen … but somehow still all original. read more

Missing Peace, Week 1 — The “The Worst Case Scenario” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s sermon …

Started a series we’re very excited about, as it deals with depression, anxiety, and stress;

Led to a song Chris Macedo composed, not even knowing my sermon was about the same subject;

Resulted in this bottom line: We want peace as a condition of surrender to Jesus when it’s actually a consequence of it. read more

“Missing Peace” Begins Sunday With “The Worst Case Scenario Syndrome”

The first series of any year is important.

Churches and pastors have an opportunity to engage with people whose New Year’s Resolution includes “trying church again”; we have an opportunity to minister to folks who are IN TOWN all month long; and we can connect with folks who have moved into the area in recent months. read more

#TBT — Cotton Bowl TENNIS, 1983

When I was a kid, the week between Christmas and New Year’s typically meant the Cotton Bowl.

The tennis tournament, not the football game.

Huh?

That’s right. Dallas was then and is now the host of a holiday-flavored, mostly-indoor tennis tournament. Back in the day, the Cotton Bowl was played in the “Automobile Building,” a cavernous, barely-heated structure located at Fair Park, home of the world famous Texas State Fair. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things I Appreciate About Calvinists

I am a Wesleyan today because I was first a Calvinist.

Huh?

Yeah, my first extended church experience after coming to faith as a teenager was at a lovely church in Dallas called Believer’s Chapel.

Though I was very new to the faith and didn’t initially have the language for such things, I gradually learned the leadership of the church believed and taught that God has predestined all that happens, including the eternal destinies of men and women. It’s really a double predestination: some to heaven and some to hell. read more

“God With Us,” Week 5 — The “Bigger Bang” Sermon Map

Sermon map? What about a sermon rewind?

Well, yesterday’s message was as departure in a few notable ways. read more

“God With Us,” Week 5 — “A Bigger Bang”

A little known fact about Advent and Christmas: in Christian thinking, Jesus first appearance is designed to heighten our anticipation for his second.

What does that mean? What will it look like? What about all the books, charts, and graphs that we can buy that tell us when he is coming and how to be ready for it? read more

Christmas Eve, 2019 — The “Get A Grip” Sermon Rewind

My message from Tuesday night’s Christmas Eve services …

  • Began with our congregation standing and reading Luke 2:1-7 out loud and together;
  • Pivoted on Paul’s affirmation in Philippians 3:12 that Christ Jesus had first grabbed on to him;
  • Was about 2/3 the length of a Sunday sermon, in recognition of the night;
  • Landed at this bottom line: His grip is stronger than your fear.

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READ Luke 2:1-7
Ah, such beautiful simplicity in the telling of that story. All the things Luke LEAVES OUT that we would today clamor to PUT IN. We in 2019 are just obsessed with the kind of details – when did her water break, how far was she dilated when you got the epidural, who did Jesus look more like after he was born? … all that kind of stuff. With my kids, who were born almost forever ago, I can tell you those kind of details. But in spite of all that Luke withholds, there is one thing about that baby Jesus born on that Xmas night that I know was true because it has been true of pretty much every baby I’ve met.
He had a strong grip (AV). Have you noticed that with newborns? Their hands have been clenched in the womb for nine months and when they emerge from the warm darkness into the cold flourescence, they are ready to grab on to a finger and hold. It’s true at a day, it’s true at a week, it’s true at a month … something inherent in little babies love to grab your index finger and hold on for dear life. I’m sure that’s what baby Jesus did with Mary, with Joseph, with the innkeeper, the shepherds, and for all we know, the Magi as well. That baby’s got a grip.
And since we’re talking God With Us this Xmas, I’m really struck by all the ways that what Jesus did as a baby he continues to do even today. Because I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of times when I need to someone to get a grip on me because I can’t get a grip for myself. There are things from yesterday that shame me, from today that annoy me, and about tomorrow that make me anxious. That fill me with fear. I don’t know if you’re like this, but there’s even some stuff about Xmas that I sort of … dread … that I’m more than a little anxious about?
Like: did I get the right present for Julie whose love language is GIFTS and you better get it right? Do you have any idea how much pressure that is?!?! Will I be OK with a bunch of people in my house? Hospitality, which is so natural for some, is such a challenge for me. So some things about Xmas that I fear of ever getting right. Maybe it’s that way for you. Perhaps the dread is really, really immediate – you fear coming to church tonight, you’re only here because your family made you, you think someone is going to tell you you’re going to hell, and now you’re not sure you can endure it. That’s OK; we’re glad you’re here & unless you stomp out I doubt anyone will know. Or maybe, just maybe, your fear is for what happens beyond Xmas this year. It’s the fear that the job you have now won’t still be there after Xmas. It’s the despair that the marriage which seems so iffy now will fall off the cliff then.
Or some of you who have up to this point had some self-restraint are fearful and anxious at the thought that you’ll lose it and do something or say something with that someone that whether or not it is reciprocated, will likely blow up your family or your job or both. And for a few of you that fear has no circumstance behind it or before it … it’s that panic that attacks without reason and without warning. You feel like you’re gonna die, you kinda wish you would but then you don’t and how do you recover from that? Yeah, from my vantage point so many people are fill with so much uncertainty and anxiety and you couple those two together and even on Xmas Eve people have fear all around, with little hope that tomorrow will be any better.
Which is why I love the fact that the bible is a library and not a book. Which is why I love the ways the Paul, who struggled with Jesus, augments Luke’s story. Which is why this line from a letter later in the NT that at first glance has nothing to do with Christmas and later it has EVERYTHING to do with it. Check it out: read more

“God With Us,” Week 4 — The “Stuck On You” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s sermon …

  • Came from a not-very-Christmasy section of Scripture, Romans 8:35-39;
  • Taught that in Paul’s life, Paul’s “hypothetical” list of separators in Romans 8:35 was actually anything BUT hypothetical;
  • Talked about the relentlessness of our son when it was 2 1/2 and the stick-a-bility of my mother’s now 104 year old birthmark;
  • Landed at this bottom line: Your unbearable pain is not match for his unbreakable love.

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Is it OK with you all if we ramp up to Xmas with a look at some words that on the surface have nothing to do with Xmas? And yet words that when you scratch beneath the surface end up having everything to do with it? And is it OK if we do all this by looking at a section of a letter that is really more like an invitation to a party? And when we’re done – if you’ll let me do this non-Xmasy thing – I believe that you will have learned, seen, & been touched by something that will radically alter how you feel about God, pain, Xmas, and life? Is all that OK? Apparently ignore the calendar but the benefit is that it will alter the trajectory of your life? read more

“God With Us,” Week 4 — “Stuck On You”

Lionel Richie may have sung it, but Paul wrote about it and I’m going to preach it.

God’s “with-ness” can’t be separated from his “love-ness” which, as you’ll see, is stuck on you.

What does all this have to do with Christmas? Only everything.

Check it out. read more

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