If These Walls Could Talk …

I continue to be amazed at the level at which people share with me in counseling.

It is a high privilege that people trust me with so much.

It is also a deep responsibility.

What does that responsibility demand of me in pastoral counseling?

  • Confidentiality — if people trust me with the deepest, most painful areas of their lives, they deserve to know that what they share is between me, them, and God.
  • A good ear — it is vitally important that I listen well. Listening involves a lot more than simply being in the same room without earplugs in! It involves eye contact, posture, and the right questions at the right time.
  • Truth — there are times in counseling when people need to hear the truth. Especially if that truth is not what they want to hear! This has been my area of greatest improvement through all the years of doing this. It is so freeing for both counselor and counsel-ee. In the long run, people are grateful for hearing what is right and true even if it challenges what they desire in the moment.
  • Biblical Hope — I may not have a physician’s stethoscope or medicine bag, but I have the Word.  And when people in distress are able to memorize and internalize Scripture, the impact on both counseling and healing is enormous.
  • Prayer — this is what separates pastoral counseling from every other kind of counseling. It is rare that I don’t begin and end these kinds of conversations with prayer.
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    Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Biblical Passages On The Divinity Of Christ (A Mount Rushmore Plus One)

    During the course of a denomination meeting yesterday, my colleagues and I talked about those sections of the New Testament that speak with breathtaking clarity and power about the divinity of Jesus.

    Those passages that teach us that Jesus was neither great man nor inspiring teacher nor compelling guru. read more

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    Keeping Christmas, Week 2 — The “Keeping Simeon In Christmas” Sermon Rewind

    Yesterday’s message continued a series in which we are looking at some of the supporting cast of the Christmas story.

    And yet the purpose of the supporting cast is to cast a shining light on the main attraction: Jesus himself.  Not simply baby Jesus, but crucified, risen, and returning Jesus.

    So by looking at Simeon from Luke 2 we realized that the purpose of a baby dedication gone bad is to let us know that The one thing Jesus can’t tolerate is to be (merely) tolerated. read more

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    Keeping Christmas, Week 2 — Keeping Simeon In Christmas

    Who is this man and why are we keeping him in Christmas?

    He is Simeon and he was either:

  • A hanger on around the temple;
  • An activist;
  • A blogger;
  • A rabble rouser;
  • Someone deeply in tune with the Holy Spirit.
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    The Important And The Urgent

    One of my biggest struggles as a pastor is to distinguish between the important and the urgent. Things that are important have more of a long term value: strategic planning, creative brainstorming, sermon writing, staff development and mentoring. All those take time. Things that are urgent press in on me and other pastors today: visiting the sick, addressing conflict, counseling people in crisis, responding to texts and emails. All those take even more time. The urgent will often keep you from the important. I have decided that in my line of work, maybe that’s OK. Other pastors of churches that are the same size as Good Shepherd might give a different answer. But I’m wired in such a way — maybe called in such a way — that people and their needs & crises take priority. The urgent and the important. What’s it like in your life and your organization?
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    Breakfast In Bethlehem

    This is happening this coming Saturday morning at our Zoar Road Campus, and we couldn’t be more excited:

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    Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Ministry Lessons I Will Never Stop Learning

    The end of any year is typically a time to reflect on advances made and lessons learned in the previous twelve months.

    The end of 2017 is no exception.

    And on many occasions when we get something right at Good Shepherd, I find myself asking, “Why didn’t we do it that way earlier? Why does it take me so long to learn?” read more

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    Keeping Christmas Launch — The “Keeping Herod In Christmas” Sermon Rewind

    Yesterday’s message …

    • Began with a liturgical moment as the congregation stood out of respect for the Gospel reading and I read Matthew 2:13-18 out loud;
    • Featured moments comparing Jesus to a) kudzu and b) Phil Collins written in permanent marker on a whiteboard list of MY personal Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame;
    • Relied heavily on Matthew’s multiple use of “fulfilled” in telling the story of Herod’s “Massacre of the Innocents” as well as its aftermath (again reminding the church that writing in ancient times was both expensive and laborious and so if an author repeats a word he REALLY wants you to notice it);
    • Landed at this bottom line:  Erasing Jesus never works because Jesus never fails.

    —————————————————————

    Please stand out of respect for the Gospel while I read Matthew 2:13-18:

    13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” read more

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    Keeping Christmas Launch — “Keeping Herod In Christmas”

    Our new series, Keeping Christmas, starts this Sunday with an unexpected twist:

    Keeping Herod In Christmas.

    Who would want to do that?  Well, we would.  Because Matthew did.

    Check it all out Sunday at Moss, Zoar, and en espanol.

    Here’s the series video:

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    Impact: India

    We showed this video on Sunday to give the people of Good Shepherd a ground level view of the impact their generosity makes in India.

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