Hamburger Helper vs. Filet Mignon

“Better a dry crust with peace, than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1) What would you rather have? Peace or a Feast? You can’t NOT afford counseling. Better to take time off from work and get professional help, than to keep at it – trying to force it away with more money. Is counseling expensive? You bet it is. But it’s better to eat Hamburger Helper every meal where there is wholeness, than filet mignon where there is division. Why are you gone from home all the time? To make more? So your family can have lobster...

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September 16th, 2001

Sunday, September 16th, 2001. A day I would love to have back. Five days after the tragic of events of what is now called “9-11.” I was just over four months into my first pastorate. I was preaching through the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. The scheduled text for that week was “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The church was full. Packed. People standing in the back. On a normal Sunday, we averaged 75 or so. On this day, there were at least twice that. People came needing answers. People came needing comfort. People...

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The Most Important Part of a Great Sermon

“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 If it is true that great sermons are in the eyes and ears of those sitting in the pews; and if that implies the preacher is completely dependent on the Spirit to do the work; then THAT means the preacher’s most important task is to pray for his people. When the disciples chose the first deacons in Acts 6, Luke tells us they did so in order to give themselves first to prayer and then the ministry of the word. Recently, I had an opportunity to lead a group of preachers...

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Authority to Cast Out Demons

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10:1) Have you ever wished you had authority to cast out demons? Me too. Especially when my children are, well, you know… Recently, while thinking about this text and how Jesus sent His followers to those in need, I wondered why He doesn’t do the same thing today. Or does He? Without doubt, Jesus sends His followers out looking for those who are welcoming them into their lives. He sends us out into a broken world...

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Pack – Unpack – Pack

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130) Last week, I wrote about the reality that great sermons are great due to what is going on in the heart, mind, and soul of the person in the pew. Preachers of the Word have an obligation to prepare and set the table for the Spirit to work. However. At the end of the day, we have zero control over the spiritual work that must go on in the life of the hearer. We can prepare a really good sermon. But it is only great...

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What Is Breaking YOUR Heart in the World?

I believe Jesus has given each of His children a portion of His compassion. There is something in each of us that causes us pain in our gut when we think about it. A situation. A person. A group of people. Circumstances. Something that is wrong in the world that we long (hurt) to fix in Jesus’ name. All of us must answer the question, “What is breaking MY heart in the world?” Not your friend’s heart. Not your momma’s. Not your Sunday School teacher’s. Not the latest buzz on Facebook. Yours. What is breaking YOUR heart in the world?...

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A Great Sermon is in the Eye of the Beholder

Margaret Wolfe Hungerford famously said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” We all know what that means. One person may think a piece of art is horrendous, while another may be completely taken away by it in awe and wonder. Another way of saying it is, “One person’s trash in another person’s treasure.” I say this to myself every time I have a garage sale. It is amazing to me what some people will buy! They see it as a treasure. I see it as trash. As much as it pains me to admit it, the same is true...

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Sermon Illustration: Making Disciples (Football Edition)

If you’re a dad of young children (particularly boys), you are making disciples. Trust me. Making a disciple happens, period. Dads (and moms, but for the sake of this illustration bear with me) make disciples all the time. Next Saturday, notice what shirt or hat your son is wearing. Or, notice the questions he asks you. He’s probably wearing something that represents “your team.” He’s probably asking what time the game starts, or if the team is going to be any good this year, or who “we’re” playing. He probably already knows that your day is scheduled around watching the...

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Ox Over Easy?

Where there are no oxen, the feeding trough is empty, but an abundant harvest comes through the strength of an ox.  Proverbs 14:4 It’s easier not to do the hard work. It’s easier to blame the conditions. It’s easier to blame the hard soil. It’s easier to say you couldn’t get good help. It’s cleaner if you get the ones that don’t get messy. But ease usually leads to lean. It leads to clean and tidy and empty. Empty results. Empty soul. Empty purpose. Empty hopes. Empty pockets. Empty accounts. Empty pews. Empty baptistery. Empty rooms. Empty building. The hard thing is...

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Sermon Illustration: All Inclusive

Recently, my wife and I had an incredible opportunity to get away for a week at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico. We had never been able to do this before, so we were excited, but cautious. People told us how wonderful it was, but in the back our minds said to ourselves, “that sounds too good to be true.” Well let me tell you – everything we heard was TRUE. All-inclusive means – ALL INCLUSIVE! All access – all the time – to the beach. All access – all the time – to the pool. All access – all...

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