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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Sermon Illustration: The Expositional Opening to a Topical Sermon

Last week, we began a topical sermon series on healthy relationships. I try to be as expositional as possible in my preaching, so topical sermons – though necessary – can be an added challenge. The difficulty for me is explaining the point of the Bible book when I know I am not going to be in the same book the following week(s). There is no need to spend tons of time explaining the books purpose. But if the preacher isn’t careful, the context where the verses are found can ignored. This, of course, can be very dangerous. So, the challenge...

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No Self-Guided Life Tours

James 4:13-17 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. 15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it....

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Sermon Illustration: Using the Bible to Illustrate the Bible

Often the preacher doesn’t have to go very far to find an illustration for his sermon. In fact, he may not even have to leave his seat. Many times, the illustration he needs is right under his nose, in the same book he is studying. At the end of John’s Gospel (John 21:20-23), Peter seeks to compare himself to John. He wants to know what life will look like for the “beloved disciple” (John). In other words, he wants to compare what Jesus said about Peter (John 21: 18-19) to what is going to happen to John. Jesus, of course, doesn’t...

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Barzillai

Imagine with me a conversation between Barzillai and his wife Phoebe (fictional name) after the events of 2 Samuel 19 (specifically 2 Samuel 19:31-39). “Well that’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life!” Phoebe was furious, mixing the bread dough with increasing intensity. “What do you mean you told the king you would stay here? You mean to tell me you sent Kinham? What were you thinking? Now Kinham gets to be with the king and enjoy all the accompanying benefits while you and I sit here and rot. I don’t mind saying it, Barzillai, but...

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Sermon Illustration: When a Quote Saves the Day

To begin a sermon from John 21:18-19, I confessed my struggle with the text the previous week…   There are some weeks when I am preparing a sermon where the thought for the sermon and direction I feel the text is going comes easily. Like a hot knife through butter. There are other weeks when I wrestle and toss and turn and think and process and read and read and read and nothing seems to come. Like a hot knife through stone. This has been one of those weeks. A hot knife through stone weeks. It’s one thing to know the essence of...

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Eyes See Facts, Not Truth

Frederick Buechner: What we have to remember is that our eyes are not all we have for seeing with, maybe not even the best we have. Our eyes tell us that the mountains are green in summer and in autumn the colors of flame. They tell us that the nose of the little girl is freckled, that her hair usually needs combing, that when she is asleep, her cheek is flushed and moist. They tell us that the photographs of Abraham Lincoln taken a few days before his death show a man who at the age of fifty-six looked as...

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