New Series Launch — “It Runs In The Family”

It Runs In The Family

Just think of all the things that run in families.

Just think of all the things that run in your family!

Skin tone, hair texture, eye color, verbal tics, facial expression, walking styles, high blood pressure, good judgment, male pattern baldness, and much, much more.

Some things, of course, run in families and you wish they didn’t. Or wouldn’t. Anger, addiction, betrayal, and more. read more

When Sermon Design Meets Artistic Expression

Earlier this week, I had a Zoom meeting with a United Methodist colleague in which the topic of conversation was preaching.

As part of the Simplify The Message ministry, some of my friends in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference invite me to give guidance to younger clergy who are in the ordination process.  It’s an honor to be asked and I enjoy the work very much. read more

Finding A Sermon Buried In A Dawes Song

In “Just My Luck,” a melancholic ballad that revisits a chance encounter with a lost love, the Dawes Band offers this insight:

I spend my whole life moving forwards but understand it looking back

I am sure I’ve heard that song dozens of times (the same is true of almost of the Dawes catalog in 2020!), but I’d never noticed that line before. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Songs That Came On From Apple Music While On The Stationary Bike

How’s that for a title?

See, I’ve been working out at home during the spike in Coronavirus cases.  Although my South Carolina-based Y is open, I haven’t felt taking the risk of working out publicly — according to the experts, it’s almost as dangerous as worshipping.  Sigh. read more

“Famous Last Words, Week 5” — The “Finishing School” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Dug into the last words of Paul’s last words — the inspired section in 2 Timothy 4 where declares clearly that his end is nigh;
  • Observed that the world is full of STARTERS but not so full of FINISHERS;
  • In an aside, noted that 2 Timothy 4:3-4 are among the most FUTURE PREDICTING verses in all of Scripture;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  You will finish well when you know Who is at the finish line.

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One thing I know is true and I think you’ll agree: the world is full of starters. There is no shortage of people who BEGIN well. All bright and shiny on the first day of school, first day on new job, first day in church, first day of new diet, first date, first day of being married. Even the less momentous & more mundane: gyms are CROWDED in January. Why? NY Resolutions and scads of ppl starting their new fitness routines. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know: you’ve started diets, books, devotional plans, wedding days. Starters are a dime a dozen. read more

What A Ten Year Old Picture Teaches About Personal Development #TBT

Back in 2010, I was able to spend a couple of days at the pro tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California.  It’s a glorious venue in an idyllic setting, and it’s actually the fifth most prestigious tournament in the world after the four Grand Slams.

While there I watched Novak Djokovic play and snapped this photo of his serve: read more

The Only Thing I Fear More Than Dogs …

… is people not getting any of my books.

So my Good Shepherd friends Eric & Angie Matras batted .500 last night in their new home in Lake Wylie, SC.

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Coldest Times In My Life

Coldest?  Coldest?

Well, yeah. Coldest.  With 90 plus degrees in the Carolinas and no relief in sight, how about some blog relief?  Here they are: the five most heat-resistant, coldest times in my life.

5. That November snowstorm in Dallas in 1978.  All I know is that there was snow on the ground right around my birthday (Nov. 14).  To this day, my mother has a picture of me standing by my Plymouth Arrow automobile with snow all around us.  It probably wasn’t all that cold, but since it was November IN DALLAS, it felt much colder. read more

“Famous Last Words,” Week 4 — The “What God Breathed” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Began with a string of negative analogies (check it out);
  • Explained the vast — and liberating — difference between “God-breathed” and “God-dictated”;
  • In the PREACHED version, included a spontaneous shout out to Asbury Seminary’s Dr. David Thompson, the man most responsible for teaching me that HOW that bible says what it says is a key element of WHAT it says.  He died last week at 80;
  • Led to this bottom line:  “The bible is less interested in making you comfortable than in making you useful.”

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Maybe you’ve heard of that couple who decided to do something different together to strengthen their marriage. Make it a Beautiful Marriage, no doubt! Anyway, they decided to go duck hunting. Yes! Always a marriage winner! Anyway, they got their equipment, their gear, their duck hunting clothes, their duck caller thing, and even a hunting dog and off they went! But at the end of their first day hunting, no luck ducks. They went Zero For Ducks. So the husband says, “I wonder if we’ve been doing something wrong & that’s why we haven’t caught any ducks yet.” And his wife says, “Maybe next time if we throw the dog up a little higher, THEN he’ll catch some ducks up for us!” read more

#TBT — Team Texas, USTA Intersectionals, July 1980

Last week, I showed Team Texas at the USTA Intersectional Championship for Boys’ 18-and-under from 1979.  I was the youngest, shortest, and skinniest on that team.

Today it’s Team Texas from 1980.  None of those adjectives describe me this time!  The “older” guys on that 79 team had graduated out of 18-and-under tennis and were replaced by guys my age or a year younger. The event was again played in Fort Worth, Texas, on the campus of TCU. read more