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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Putting It All Together: What’s the Purpose?

You’ve determined the broad and specific meaning of the text. You’ve thought through how it needs to be communicated. (also here and here and here  here). You’ve ensured it is a Christian sermon. You’ve got all of these parts and pieces and thoughts and ideas floating around. How do you put together a sermon in a concise, simple, easy-to-follow, compelling way? You are taking people on a journey. You better know where you are going so you can know when you have arrived. Start by asking yourself, “What’s the purpose?” In other words, considering all you have arranged and put together, you...

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Sermon Illustration: Rachael Denhollander

To kick off an 8-week series on the first 12 chapters of Exodus, I did my best to show though the Lord brought His people to Egypt (end of Genesis); and, after years in Egypt, His people were slaves and forced to drown their male children (Exodus 1); God was working out His sovereign, good, and loving plan (Exodus 2:1-10). You can find it here. The point was that even though we often find ourselves in situations we never would have planned, we must bank our hope in the reality that God is good and God is love. To close...

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Preacher, Make Sure it is a Christian Sermon

Before it is all said and done. Before you close the Bible on Sunday. Before your last point has ended. Before you call for a response. Before the musicians come back on stage. Before you have finished preparing. Before you send the slides to tech guys. Before you drive to the campus on Sunday morning. Before you walk up the steps to the stage – please make sure your sermon is a Christian sermon. Ask yourself this difficult question: “If a Jew were sitting in the pews would he/she agree with everything I have said today?” You see, the Bible...

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Sermon Illustration: My Meeting with “George”

I recently closed a sermon on Acts 13:1-4 with the following story. Actually, it was the close of a 4-week Vision Series. The story is personal in nature, but I am guessing any preacher can identify, have their own similar stories, and can tweak it to make it their own for similar purposes.   Last week I received a phone call from a man I had never heard of. He wanted to come by my office to meet me. To protect his privacy, let’s call him George. George heard I was living in Franklin, Tennessee – the same city he...

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