#TBT — This Was Us, 2002

This was us in 2002.

Wonder what the card will be like sixteen years later?

How A 1993 Cassette Sermon Paved The Way For A 2018 Digital Church

Some dear friends from Good Shepherd handed me this cassette tape on a recent Sunday morning.

When I was a young preacher in Monroe, North Carolina, the ministry of Lenny Stadler at Weddington United Methodist Church almost defied belief.

Throughout the decade of the 1990s, he led what had been a sleepy little country church into the kind of growth that made it one of Methodism’s superstars. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reflections From A Snow Day Weekend

Winter Storm Diego made an unwelcome appearance in Western North Carolina this past weekend, and so we didn’t have church on Sunday.

That doesn’t mean the weekend was without high drama and poignant moments, all of which are worthy of some reflections below.

1. An Asheville wedding, a lumpy throat, and a lot of beauty & handsomeness.   The weekend began with the wedding of Kaitlin Stevens and Kevin Hoffman in Asheville.  The forecast was so dire that I had already secured former GSUMC staffer and current Asheville pastor Rich Tuttle as a substitute in case Julie and I had to leave early. read more

Should You Preach OTHER PREACHER’S Sermons?

That’s a loaded question, isn’t it?

Is it ever appropriate for a preacher — regardless of his or her level of experience — to preach sermons that have for all practical purposes been prepared by someone else?

It’s not only a loaded question, it’s a relevant one.

Chuck Swindoll, for example, tells of the time his Insight For Living ministry received a frantic note from a local pastor who was agitated that IFL had not posted any content that week.  “What will I preach on without it?” came the plaintive question. read more

Inviting All People Starts VERY Early

This week, I received a note and photo from a Good Shepherd friend who is also a new mom.

Here’s the photo:

The note said, “Thanks to Good Shepherd for the Bible stories book!  I love reading these to our daughter!”

Because inviting all people into a living relationship with Jesus Christ starts very, very early. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things That Are Really Hard To Wait For

As we dig into a series called “Wait For It …” how could I post on anything else?

Carly Simon said it this way:  “Anticipation . . . it’s making me late, it’s keeping me waiting.”

And some things in life are more full of anticipation than others.  Some days and some events are so full of excitement and promise that waiting for them to arrive really is the hardest part (to quote another rocker). read more

“Wait For It” Launch — The “Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Began with a Paul Harvey-esque moment about the origin of the phrase “waiting for the other shoe to drop”;
  • Explained that biblical prophets are not so much future predictors as hope givers (and, occasionally, judgment declarers);
  • Landed at the bottom line “when there’s no way out, God sends a new way through”;
  • Led to some serious notetaking by a Good Shepherd friend:

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Way back in the late 19th & early 20th Centuries, NYC was full of what they called tenements (AV): highly cramped, poorly constructed, containment units masquerading as apartment complexes for the city’s poor, immigrants, and downtrodden.  They were overcrowded and underventilated and were the home of astonishing amounts of crime and stench.  Anyway, in the way contractors built them, bedrooms were right on top of each other, going up, up, up the building.  So one time a overworked & underpaid factory worker got home at night, sat on his bed, took his shoe off and dropped it on the floor (sound effect?).  Realizing the noise could wake the rest of his family up, he climbed into bed, one shoe on, and got under the covers.   Then, just as he was about to drift off to sleep, the neighbor BELOW yells up, “Hey pal! (that’s what they say in NYC) Hurry up, will ya?  I can’t sleep while I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop!”  And now you know the REST of the story, and the origin of that phrase waiting for the other shoe to drop.  read more

“Wait For It” Launches — “Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop”

The name of our Christmas series has worked just like I wanted it to.

I tell folks that the name is … Wait For It … and then they wait.  As if the title is coming.

And then, of course, I say, “No, that’s it.  Wait For It!”

Advent is a season of patience, longing, and delayed gratification.  This year, we’re zeroing in on some Old Testament prophets who, on behalf of their people, waited hundreds of years for the Messiah they longed for to show up. read more

Leading Leaders

This week, I received a newsletter from a campus ministry.  The newsletter contained this brief narrative:

For almost two years now I (campus minister) have mentored a junior … named Stephen.  I have written about him in past newsletters as we have formed a close friendship.

Throughout our time together … I have seen Stephen place his faith in Christ, go through a season of doubt, and come out of his questioning.  And currently, I am witnessing his faith grow rapidly like a chia pet day by day. read more

Some Things I Think I Think

I’m pretty sure of most of these thoughts below.

In other words, I think that I think the following . . .

I don’t like sweet potatoes.  But I love sweet potato fries and sweet potato chips.  Do I need therapy?

When clergy post opinions on celebrity deaths, they are only asking for trouble. read more