Sermon Illustration: Getting My Oil Changed

Confession: I HATE getting my oil changed. In fact, hatred isn’t a strong enough word for it. Not only is it a hassle every 3-4 months, but it is one of those things that I am forced to trust a group of greasy guys whom I have never met. I have a hard time believing they have my best interest at heart. I know nothing about cars. I can put gas in the tank when the gauge reads “E.” I can check the oil. I can put air in the tires. I can change a tire if I have to. But that’s...

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Waiting While Walking

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. (John 4:50b-51) Capernaum is over 20 miles from Cana. Two days journey, at least. If someone left Capernaum toward Cana and another left Cana toward Capernaum, you might meet up at the end of day one. Assuming the healing of the son took place at 1 pm in the afternoon, the boy’s father and the father’s servants had to spend the night somewhere once it got dark, wake up the next morning...

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Sermon Illustration: Recommitted?

Studying for this week’s sermon on the Second Sign of Jesus from John 4:43-54, I came across the following story from this commentary. During my first semester in seminary a professor told me a remarkable story from his early years as a pastor. A young woman had become critically ill and her prognosis was grim; she would likely die within the year. Her family had a nominal “Easter and Christmas Eve” commitment to the church, so the discussions in the hospital between this young pastor and this family always plowed new ground. The woman challenged him: If Jesus healed in...

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Mary’s Instruction & The Shock of a Headwaiter

“Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5) “You have saved the best for last!” (John 2:10) The only recorded instructions we have from Jesus’ mom just so happens to be some of the best counsel anyone could offer. She tells the servants at a wedding party to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. The headwaiter at this same wedding party thought the groom did made a brilliant social move. He assumed the groom saved the best and finest wine until later in the week, rather than the reverse. These statements by Mary (“Do whatever He tells you.”) and the headwaiter (“You...

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Sermon Illustration: A Father’s Day Gift I Had Nothing to do With

To illustrate the point that we cannot love like Jesus on our own, I began a Father’s Day message with this story. . .   I love to receive gifts. I love to give gifts. But I am awful at being creative and thoughtful in gift-giving. As a matter of fact, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. Gift-giving is something I enjoy doing. I just don’t put a lot of time and energy and thought into it. I am known as the son who is happy to get a card in the mail that gets to my dad...

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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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