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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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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