Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reflections From An Indiana Trip

I spent three days last week in Indianapolis for the 2017 meeting of the Indiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The Indiana chapter of the Confessing Movement invited me to give a couple of talks and then the good folks at Cokesbury arranged two different book signing sessions.  (Every Annual Conference meeting around the country has a mobile Cokesbury bookstore set up within it.) read more

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Chiseled, Week 2 — The “Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation” Sermon Rewind

As Chiseled moved into its second week, the message featured …

  • A bit of personal trivia involving the words “theocentric” and “anthrocentric”;
  • The results of a Facebook survey asking the question ‘how has God made your life better?’ (if he has at all);
  • A corporate reading of Psalm 145:1-8 before the message began;
  • Pictures of Riley at 4 and then again at 24;
  • This as the bottom line:  God makes your life better so you will make his name greater.

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STAND & READ PSALM 145:1-8 FIRST

Would you like to know a little bit of trivia?  Bout me?  That psalm we just read part of – Psalm 145 – was the Scripture for my very first sermon EVER in full-time ministry at Mt. Carmel Church in July of 1990.  Just before I graduated seminary in KY & moved down there to start, I asked a prof what he’d recommend I preach for my first sermon.  He said, “make sure to make it THEOCENTRIC rather than ANTHROCENTRIC.”  Huh?  Oh!  That’s a fancy, sort of pretentious way of saying, “making it more about God than ppl.”   So I did!  I have no real memory of the content, it was certainly NOT part of a series, 76 ppl came, and I do know I said something about Big Tex (AV) & the Texas State Fair.  So there’s that. read more

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Chiseled, Week 2 — “Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation”

Well, The Who may well have talked about their generation …

… but we’ll talk about yours.

And those you’re responsible for.  And the reasons God actually makes your life better (even if he has to make it harder to do so).

It’s all going to land us in a place where we will be increasingly chiseled — God is moving us from slabs of stone to works of art. read more

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#TBT — Monroe (NC) Enquirer-Journal, July 24, 1994

While looking at an old picture album, I came across this article from the July 24, 1994 edition of the Monroe (NC) Enquirer-Journal.

So much to look on with some nostalgia from this piece . . .

  • The Mt. Carmel sanctuary.  We used an overhead projector to display song lyrics right under the cross;
  • The suit;
  • The Rossignol FT580 tennis racket;  Wha-what?
  • The way the story sort of “oversells” my professional tennis potential;
  • A truthful list of some players I beat who subsequently went on to Top 30 pro careers;
  • An accurate description of how I approached ministry then and now.
  • And the reference to Julie and to Taylor (4) and Riley (1).  Now 27 and 24.
  • read more

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    When Someone FINALLY Does What You Tell Them

    For several years, I’ve been encouraging a preacher friend of mine to see the light, read Communicating For A Change, use the ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE outline it describes, and preach a one-point sermon.

    But my friend is notoriously hard-headed and for years he resisted.

    Until this last Sunday.

    Here’s the report he gave me: read more

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    Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things Never USED To Happen In Ministry But Now OFTEN Do

    I’ve been doing this for more than a quarter-century now.

    I started in 1990.  I’ve served only two appointments in that time (1990-1999 at Mt. Carmel-Midway in Monroe and 1999-present here at Good Shepherd), but I’ve seen more than a couple of changes in ministry.

    In fact, there are number of things that almost never happened in the past that almost always happen today.  Here are five: read more

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    “Chiseled” Launch — The “Masterpiece Theater” Sermon Rewind

    Chiseled launched yesterday with a message that I felt good about because it ….

    • Linked the start of Ephesians 2:1=10 (and you were dead) with its conclusion (you are his workmanship) by connecting impulse and impact;
    • Led to a video conclusion involving a regular guy and his son who made a spectacular impact on a young life;
    • Showed how “I’M NOT” and “I CAN’T” really aren’t acceptable answers when invited to make an impact for the Kingdom.
    • Resulted in this bottom line:  In Christ’s hands, as he chisels you, you stop living by impulse and start living for impact.

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    It’s kinda funny – if you want to tell someone how great they are and how much potential they have, how do you begin?  Those of you who are coaches or bosses, you do this all the time, I bet.  You see the ability deep inside someone, you see the beauty, you want to call it forth, and so you begin with THAT, don’t you?  “You’re great; you’ve got potential; all we got to do is unleash that buried potential and you’ll make a major impact on our team, in our office, in your territory,” whatever.  I remember being 11 or so and a random tennis coach just said, “you’ve got a lot of natural ability” and I was just on Cloud Nine for a week or so following.  This is just what we do, how we approach thing, and it seems to be basic human nature AND a basic understanding of motivation.  Some of you gave that and others of you HEARD that talk just this week. It’s pretty much what we do, and it’s fine. read more

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    Chiseled Launch — Masterpiece Theater

    In 2017, we have had …

    Creatures Of Habit

    The Path Of Most Resistance

    Finished Business

    Love Handles.

    I have felt good about each one, and your feedback throughout the year has only increased in appreciation.

    So just wait until we devote an entire series to calling out what is best in you.  It’s called Chiseled and we’re going to see together how God is sculpting a masterpiece out of each one of us. read more

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    Mish And Mash

    A mish mash.

    A hodgepodge.

    A random sampling of thoughts, insights, and realizations; rarely connected but hopefully helpful:

    My life significantly improved when I changed to daily wear contact lenses.  Yes, they are more expensive, but on the other hand I may never have to buy saline solution again.

    I am so energized by working on an upcoming series called “Hell Or High Water” that I wonder what took me so long to come up with the idea in the first place. read more

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    Talent Scout?

    In early 2000, I signed my then-seven-year-old son Riley up for tennis lessons at the Charlotte Tennis Academy near SouthPark.  The director was (and is) a very fine guy named Bill Schillings, whom I had known from his days on the Penn State tennis team.

    This was part of my short-lived attempt to get Riley to love tennis.  He tolerated tennis, but loved football.  Happily, he became a weight-lifting fiend in high school, worked his way to a starting linebacker role in his senior year at Charlotte Christian School , and parlayed all that upper body strength into a state title in the 4 x 200 meter sprint relay in the spring of 2011.  So there, dad. read more

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