I Need a Donkey, Please

I have often wondered what the disciples were thinking when Jesus told them to go get a donkey. Crowds were gathering. Blind men had just received their sight. Excitement was brewing. Vendors were walking up and down the streets with popcorn and cotton candy.  Neon glow bracelets were selling like hot cakes. The anticipation of what was to come was at an all-time high. Surely the disciples were getting excited, too. I mean, this is what they had signed up for, right? To be at the Messiah’s right hand when He took over? To be on the “inside” when He...

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Sermon Illustration: Talking to Yourself

Recently, I began a sermon by pointing out that our salvation is not based on our feelings. God’s love for His children is not determined by how we are feeling at the moment. Hallelujah. However, what we say to ourselves about ourselves is critical to our well-being. So, to set up a sermon challenging the congregation to not be like the Hebrews and Moses in Exodus 6 (see verse 9), I gave two very captivating quotes. First, from Paul Tripp: No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you as much as you talk...

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Why Did You Doubt?

Imagine with me a conversation between Peter and his brother Andrew the evening after Peter walked on water (see Matthew 14:22-33)… “Can you believe the nerve of Jesus out there today?” Peter was fuming, venting everything to his brother Andrew. “The lake was incredibly choppy. The wind was severe. We had been rowing at His command all night long. I ask Him for help when I began to sink and He asks me why I would doubt! Who wouldn’t doubt in a moment like that? I mean, do you know of anyone else who has ever walked on water! I...

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Fridays are for Illustrations: Gary Said It Would Be Like This

I used this illustration in a recent sermon on how believers can expect situations and circumstances to not go as planned…especially when obeying the Lord. I grew up in North Alabama. One of the 3 channels we got on our family television was WAAY 31. The weatherman (chief meteorologist) at the time was Gary Dobbs. Everyone loved Gary. Especially our family. Whoever ran the Public Relations for WAAY 31 and Gary Dobbs was an absolute genius. Scattered throughout North Alabama were billboards. Blue background. White letters. The only thing written on the billboards was this: “Gary said it was going...

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Jesus Sleeps through the Storm: Imagining with Bartholomew and Naomi

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Imagine with me how a conversation between one of Jesus’ disciples (Bartholomew)...

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Fridays Are For Illustrations: Two Thoughts to Set Up a Sermon

Recently, when preaching from Exodus 4:1-17, I wanted to grab the congregation’s attention AND put them in Moses’ shoes before we walked through the text together First, to get their attention, I said how bizarre it is that we want to watch someone fail. During the Olympics, we watch a replay of a crash over and over and over again. We want to look away. Our faces grimace at the sight. But we keep watching (BTW – I wanted to mention the Olympics because it was on people’s mind. It had been on TV the previous 2 weeks). When we...

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The Easter Sermon

I have an ugly confession to make. I don’t like preparing the Easter sermon. There. I said it. I wish it weren’t true. But it is. It’s not that I don’t have things I want to say. I do. It’s not that I’m not excited that a lot of people will be coming. I am. It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. I really do. It’s just that I feel the need to say something that everyone is already expecting me to say, and I need to say it simply, in a compelling way, and in...

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Fridays are For Illustrations: Helicopter Parents

Often I will refer to articles I recently read to help emphasize or illustrate a point I want to make. Sometimes I will quote from the article itself. Other times I will refer to it and summarize the guts of it in a sentence. Recently, when attempting to encourage parents to allow their children learn mistakes on their own, I referred to a newspaper/web article. Entitled “How Helicopter Parents are Ruining College Students,” the article was from The Washington Post. In the sermon, I merely referred to the article and made a comment about its contents. However, had I quoted it,...

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Putting it All Together: Introduction

The introduction is critical. It is the take off. If you have a smooth take off, the congregation will trust you and go with you to the landing. If the take off is choppy, it will be hard for them to “enjoy the ride.” So I will say it again: The introduction is critical. Take the time and do the hard work to think through how you will begin the message itself. If you work hard here you will not have to work hard during the message itself. Let me recommend 2 approaches. First, use the introduction to illustrate and/or...

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Sermon Illustration: Chattahoochee

To open a sermon about Moses’ time in Midian (Exodus 2:11-25), I quoted the great theologian Alan Jackson. His song “Chattahoochee” was one of my favorites back in the day. The song is a reflection of Jackson’s time growing up on the Chattahoochee River. Looking back on his time there, he came to realize it was a season in his life where he learned about life. It was a time he went from being a boy to being a man. “Yeah way down yonder on the Chattahoochee Never knew how much that muddy water meant to me But I learned...

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