Showing posts from December, 2009

Just Tell The Story

It's nearly Christmas Eve.  I have been doing my best to cram two sermon preps into one afternoon, but I am losing that battle. I've been thinking a great deal about what I will say tomorrow night.  My wife tells me that it should be a good sermon because there are so many visitors who will be there for the first time.  No pressure.  Several years ago when I was in seminary I took a Preaching class.  It wasn't a bad class as seminary Preaching classes go, but they did force us to read our sermons from a manuscript.  I told the professor then that I was not, nor would ever be the kind of preacher who read a sermon.  I thought that reading a sermon did violence to the art of sermonizing.  I argued that we weren't delivering an academic paper (he disagreed) and then I went on to equate listening to preachers read their sermons with other exciting things like watching paint dry or grass grow.  When I was finished, he sort of looked at me in that condescending way t

God With Us

What motivates your faith? Fear? Desire to be a better person? Tradition?  Ritual? I was thinking a lot about that this week as I am preparing for my last sermon of this season of Advent, and given the time of year my thoughts wandered a bit to Christmas-y memories.  When I was a kid my faith in Santa Claus was founded on one thing and one thing only.  If I wasn't a good boy, he wasn't giving me jack for Christmas.  There are songs about this belief.  Hymns, to it, if you will. "You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why...  Santa Claus is coming to town...." Does anyone else find this creepy, but me?  And the song got worse, right? "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake..."   You know, it doesn't really matter how we try to sugar coat this whole Christmas/Santa Claus thing---in the end it al

An Interview With Anne Jackson

Anne Jackson is a self-described Christian author, blogger, speaker and activist.  She is the author of the best-selling Zondervan release Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic (2009), she serves on staff at Cross Point Church in Nashville, she also is a passionate advocate for Compassion International and will be a rider on the 2010 Ride:Well Tour, a cross-country cycling tour in June and July of 2010.  The goal of the trip is to rasie awareness and funding for water wells in Africa and is part of the Blood:Water Mission initiative.  Anne has recently completed her second book, Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Articles on Confession and Grace , which will be released by Thomas Nelson publishers in August of 2010.  In addition, Anne's blog, , is one of the most visited and followed blogs in the country.  She has traveled to Uganda and to India with Compassion International and will be at my church--the First Presbyterian Church of Eustis--t

Take Your Best Shot - Book Review

Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself by Austin Gutwein (with Todd Hillard) is the kind of book that I am going to assert my parental authority and make my 15 year-old son start reading.  I know that if he begins to read it, he won't be able to put it down.  Austin Gutwein was a nine year-old kid that was given the opportunity to travel to Uganda on a mission trip that would change his life.  When he was confronted with the overwhelming poverty that he encountered in Africa, Austin wanted to do much more than just keep asking the question, "What could I possibly do?"  He decided to raise money by doing something that he loved to do, play basketball.  Austin's vision of shooting free throws for pledges grew into the Hoops for Hope program that has fund raising events all over the country.  This book is filled with inspirational moments and unbelievable challenges for any of us who claim to have a heart for the poor.  Sometimes, in the words of Austin

Advent Conspiracy Week Two

This Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent. If you were paying attention last week, we talked about how the word Advent means "expectation" and how our expectations should be pretty high this year.  If you weren't paying attention... grace abounds, and so does the definition of Advent. Our expectations should be high because things have been pretty icky for a while.  There's this whole war thing going on, and oh yeah... the world economy took a huge bite out of the crap burger this year.  Not to mention that Michael Jackson died, so there's that, too. We could use a lift. I'm expecting one.  I think that God is still in the miracle business.  I think that joy is coming and I choose to believe that peace is going to happen.  I also want to straight up claim some joy and some love, too.  Can I get an "Amen?"  I want so desperately for the Church, the Body of Christ to believe the same thing--that God is still in the business of performing re