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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Sermon Illustration: That’s Not Good!

To set up a sermon on the bizarre reality of God’s declaration that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), I shared how we usually use the phrase. When I say, “that’s not good,” I mean something is messed up. Something has gone wrong. Something is out of place. Something needs to be fixed. When I hear squeaking from under my car when I push on the brakes, I say “that’s not good.” When I see a water leak from my ceiling, I say “that’s not good.” When I am late to a meeting and see blue...

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Thomas’ 5-Word Prayer

Wisdom from Eugene Peterson: When we follow Jesus, it means that we don’t know exactly what it means, at least in detail. We follow him, letting him pick the roads, set the timetables, tell us what we need to know but only when we need to know it… When Jesus says “Follow me” and we follow, we don’t know where we will go next or what we will do next. That is why we follow the one who does know. Thomas’ prayer (“My Lord and my God!”) keeps us ready for what comes next; it keeps us alert to the...

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Follow Your Heart?

I’ve always hated the phrase, “follow your heart.” Mainly because God tells us through His prophet Jeremiah that our hearts are one big wicked pile of messed up selfish motives and agendas (Jeremiah 17:9). Jiminy Cricket’s advice to “let your conscience be your guide” has always been heretical to me. This is good, solid, and wise. Yes, our hearts – left to themselves – are bad. Our conscience will guide us straight into an empty and black abyss, a pit of misery (“Dilly, Dilly!”). But if we aren’t careful, we will ignore some things going on in our hearts to...

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