Where Apples Fall, Week 2 — “Falling Apart”

The Where Apples Fall series is designed to reinforce our core value that faith starts at home.

It’s not like faith starts at church and you hope to bring it from church to your house; it’s the reverse:  it starts at home and gets a weekly tuneup at church.

All that is why we do series FOR PARENTS AND ANYONE WHO HAS EVER HAD THEM (that’s what Where Apples Fall is) but also why we have produced this booklet that will be distributed on Sunday: read more

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Animating Versus Illustrating

We preachers spend a lot of time and energy trying to bring life to our sermons through what have historically been called illustrations.

Donald Grey Barnhouse, longtime pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, compiled the most famous collection of such sermon helps in a book titled, appropriately enough, Let Me Illustrate. read more

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A White Supremacist’s Worst Nightmare …

A friend of mine is reading an early copy of Crash Test Dummies.

Late last week, he sent me a text that said excitedly, “The prayer on page 41 of the book reminds me of that pastor who said that the biblical view of heaven is a white supremacist’s worst nightmare!”

I didn’t remember the “Page 41 Prayer” off the top of my head, so I went and look it up.  Here it is. read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Steely Dan Songs

In commemoration of the death this past weekend of Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, here is a reprise of a 2014 post involving my five favorite Steely Dan songs.

Interestingly, my original post drew a strong reaction from my mom — she’d never heard of Steely Dan but could not stop listening to the referenced tracks. read more

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Where Apples Fall Launch — “The Harder They Fall”

Where Apples Fall

“Well, THAT apple sure didn’t fall from the tree!”

It’s one of the most common ways of describing the incredible influence that parents have on their children.  Influence that parents wield knowingly and unknowingly, to great impact and to lasting damage.

We know that faith starts at home at Good Shepherd.  That’s why we devoting our early autumn teaching series to a deep exploration of the enduring impact mothers and fathers have on their children of all ages.  We’ll do so by tracing the journeys of some of the bible’s most memorable – and messed up! – extended families. read more

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Learing To Love A Book I Used To Hate

That book that I now love but used to hate?

Judges.  As in, a book in the library that is the bible.

For years, my only familiarity with the book of Judges was the fact that Lyle Lovett once made an album called JoshuaJudgesRuth, which I thought  was a clever name for a country record as long as I didn’t have to read any of the books it talked about. read more

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Gideon The Thief

Many of you know Gideon from the name that is on the cover of your hotel bible, as well as the organization that put it there.

I suspect that fewer of you know, however, that the Gideon on the inside of your bible is actually much more interesting than the one on the cover.  And more tragic.

Because tucked away in the early stages of Gideon’s story is this simple command from God in Judges 7:2:  The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’  Got that?  “Don’t boast, Gideon, don’t take credit for victories that belong to me.” read more

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Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Ways To Throw A Tennis Racket

In honor of this year’s US Open, which began yesterday and runs through September 10, I want to devote this space to something quite near to the heart of every serious tennis player:  the art of throwing (or simply abusing) a tennis racket.

Yes, it’s an art.

With different techniques, different reasons, and, as you’ll see, very different results. read more

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The “High Water Sunday” Sermon Rewind

Sunday’s message . . .

  • Shifted the focus from hell to high water;
  • Dealt with a weird section from I Peter 3, a section that has influenced some weird sects as well as two different versions of the Apostles’ Creed;
  • Pointed out the irony in Peter’s claim that the waters of Noah’s flood now symbolize baptism;
  • Decided on further reflection that Peter is neither weird nor ironic but brilliant;
  • Led to a Shane Bishop inspired time of both scheduled and spontaneous baptisms;
  • Landed at this bottom line:  Baptism destroys as it delivers.

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OK, we have spent the last three weeks on hell  now that we have finally turned the corner to talk about High Water, we do so with one of the weirdest sections of the bible.  Weird, weird, weird.  Like starts wacky sects weird.  That’s S-E-C-T-S, sects, not the other.  But still weird.  In one version of the Apostles’ Creed but not another weird (do Creed that day).  But I promise you this: if you stay with me as we DE-weird this section, I believe you’llg et to some refreshing, drenching, immersing, life-giving high water. read more

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Hell Or High Water, Week 4 — High Water Sunday

It’s almost here.

After three weeks of hell, a focus on the high water part.

I promise you that it will be unlike any other Sunday we’ve ever had at Good Shepherd.

The water has been warmed, the towels are ready, and the Holy Spirit has already shown up.

Now he’s just waiting to make sure we have all woken up to who he is, what he is about, and the revival he wants to bring. read more

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