Writing Your Prayers

Earlier this week, I received this email from a Good Shepherd friend.  The email came in response to a section of Sunday’s sermon on Psalm 13 in which I mentioned that for the past 18 months I have been writing the majority of my prayers.

(If you think that is somehow less spiritual than speaking, whispering, or thinking your prayers, consider how many written prayers are in Scripture.) read more

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Simplify The Message; Multiply The Impact Launches

This group of 16 preacher friends from Western North Carolina Methodism descended on Good Shepherd yesterday for the launch of an eight month workshop I am leading called Simplify The Message; Multiply The Impact.

Everyone who signed up showed up.  That’s no small victory.

For the bulk of 2018, this group will gather on the first Tuesday of each month and go through sermon design and delivery together.  I have given them assignments in between our workshops, including the fiction of Ann Patchett and the music of Jason Isbell. read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things You Might Not Know About Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe died twenty-five years ago TODAY — February 6, 1993.

I remember weeping when the news came over television.

Ashe had contracted the virus that causes AIDS while undergoing open heart surgery in the days before they tested blood (late 70s), and revealed his illness mere months before he died. read more

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Practicing The Presence, Week 5 — “When God Sends Crickets”

Yesterday’s message concluded the Practicing The Presence series with an in-depth look at Psalm 13.

It began with an acknowledgment:  God is emotionally secure.  He is so emotionally secure, in fact, that he inspires biblical texts that question his existence or competence or both.

It all led to this bottom line: read more

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Practicing The Presence, Week 5 — “When God Sends Crickets”

There are times when you pray and it seems as if this is God’s response:

Zip. Zero. Nada.

What’s going on?  In matters both tragic and trivial, what is happening with all those unanswered prayers?

How in the world can we practice his presence when we feel his absence?

That’s how we are winding up #PracticingThePresence. read more

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#TBT — Highland Park High School Tennis Team, 1977

Here I am, second from the left on the front row, as a freshman on the Highland Park High School tennis team in January of 1977.

Why the sad face?  Three reasons, at least:

1. I was a freshman.

2. The bangs.

3. The racket.  I was using a Spalding World Open and, well, there’s a reason Spalding doesn’t make tennis rackets anymore. read more

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METHOD, Meet MATERIALS

Our upcoming One Sixty-Seven series (Feb. 11 to March 4) will take place at the intersection of method and materials.

Method

The method for the series and its supporting LifeGroup project is something called Grab, Gather, Grow or G3.  G3, which has been popularized by Jim & Jennifer Cowart of Harvest UMC in south Georgia, is a radically decentralized approach to launching and hosting LifeGroups. read more

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Works Of Art & Wars Of Attrition

If you have spent any time on this page, or if you are a tennis friend of mine, you know that in recent years I have bemoaned the fact that modern men’s tennis had become characterized by wars of attrition.

By that I mean long matches, played exclusively from the baseline by two players with similar styles, with the result hinging more on physical fitness than racket skill.  Back in 2012, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal — the two men who, along with Andy Murray, most epitomize the war of attrition approach to tennis — played a six hour final in the Australian Open.  Djokovic won that particular match in a spectacle that tested the endurance of player and fan alike.  The more your shoes squeak, the more you grunt, the more you run, the more you win.  Here they are at the conclusion of that match: read more

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Guest Blogger Chris Macedo — The “Presence Carriers” Sermon Rewind

Our Worship Arts Pastor Chris Macedo gave the message yesterday.

Drawing on some relatively obscure Scriptures regarding the ark of the covenant, the tent of meeting, and the poles used to transport both, he reminded us that we are all presence carriers … and yet presence carrying never happens alone. read more

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Sermon Starter Stuff

We preachers spend a lot of time crafting the opening moments of our sermons.

Or, if we don’t, we should.

Because it is in those moments that you either capture your listeners’ attention or lose it.  In the opening you either establish common ground with the congregation or you create distance from it. read more

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