Day 2 of VBS: A Fragrant Offering

“…walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:2 (emphasis mine) Ever wonder what Jesus smelled like? Can you imagine His odor on the cross? Or, how He smelled when He walked out of the leper colony? Or what could be detected on his clothes after leaving Matthew’s party? I cannot imagine He smelled like a bouquet of roses after He washed 24 feet in the Upper Room. To the Father, He smelled incredible. Like walking in your neighborhood and catching a whiff of someone grilling meat...

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Sermon Illustration: Social Media and Relationships

This Sunday, I will be wrapping up a series on healthy relationships. As with every sermon and sermon series preached, some good content gets left on the cutting room floor. For instance. . . I have been reading Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. I haven’t finished yet. But the thing that struck me most (so far) is the impact social media has on relationships. Using Facebook as his target, Lanier offers some very interesting, frightening, and contradicting thoughts from Facebook’s leadership. Consider this quote from Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker: We need to...

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4 Questions from 1 Corinthians 7

After preaching through the last few verses from 1 Corinthians 7, I closed the message by posing questions to the congregation. The more I studied this passage, I didn’t think it was necessarily about “singleness” or “marriage” or “remarriage.” Rather, Paul’s plea to remove whatever distractions keep one from following Jesus where they are – right now – in this season of life. I wanted to challenge each listener with these this in mind. A question I would ask if I am single: Does my life demonstrate that my ultimate hope and joy are in Christ and being with Him forever? ...

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Altar Calls & Book Recommendation

Ladies and Gentlemen – today we will break away from our usual “Fridays are For Illustrations.” For any Baptist’s out there – this is only a temporary change. Things will (God willing) get back to normal next week. . . On Wednesday, my dear friend, fellow minister of the Gospel, author, blogger, and distant relative kind of (it’s weird and hard to explain. . . I am from Alabama, remember) – Danny Franks – answered a question I asked of him on his blog. It is about altar calls/Gospel response time/etc. You can read what he had to say here....

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Strawberry Picking and John 15

Recently, my wife and I had the opportunity to go and pick strawberries together at a nearby farm. Jesus’ words from John 15 came to mind. I came away with a couple of thoughts that I hope encourage and challenge you. #1. Bearing fruit is slow. It takes time. Strawberries can only be picked at certain times throughout the year. They aren’t always available, nor can they be produced overnight. It takes time. The weeks and months when they aren’t being picked? Well, they are being cultivated into maturity. Producing spiritual fruit is similar. It cannot be mass produced on...

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Illustration of the Role of a Pastor: The Harpooner

I honestly cannot think of a better illustration of a pastor for his people. I found this gem at the end of one of the most challenging articles I have read in a while. From Eugene Peterson’s Christianity Today article “The Unbusy Pastor“: In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, there is a violent, turbulent scene in which a whaleboat scuds across a frothing ocean in pursuit of the great white whale, Moby Dick. The sailors are laboring fiercely, every muscle taut, all attention and energy concentrated on the task. The cosmic conflict between good and evil is joined: chaotic sea and demonic sea...

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Don’t Be a Preparation Sluggard!

Proverbs 26:16 – “A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.”  Preacher, I read this recently and thought about sermon preparation. I believe wholeheartedly in using the God-given imagination you have. I believe fully in allowing the Spirit to speak to your soul as you deal with the truths of the Scripture you are preparing to preach and how it needs to be applied to the people you lead. I believe that much of sermon preparation is listening to the Spirit – individually – and crafting the sermon according to what He is leading you toward. Yes,...

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Sermon Illustration: Yanny or Laurel?

To open a sermon on the definition of biblical marriage, I played the audio of the latest internet debate. The one having to do with what you hear: “Yanny” or “Laurel.” You can argue over it with your friends and family by clicking here. You’re welcome. Why did I do that? So I could ask this question: “If asked the internet on my Facebook page to define marriage, do you think I would get differing opinions?” The illustration worked perfect. Half of the congregation heard “Yanny.” The other half heard “Laurel.” This set up the question about marriage. Some people...

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Gospel at Arm’s Length

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to...

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A Week of Lasts

I can no longer say I am married to a 30 something. Katie turned 40 on Sunday. Last time either of us are in our 30’s. I can no longer say I have two children in elementary school. Seth “graduated” from 5th grade on Friday. Last time to have either boy in elementary school. I can no longer say I am not (yet) a parent of a teenager. Luke turned 13 on Friday. Last time to parent pre-teens. This also means it is the last time I have the nicest phone in the family (Happy Birthday, son). I can no longer say I...

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