Archives For Preaching

Passion

I’ve been there. I’ve been burned out and depressed, discouraged and defeated. I’ve led in atmospheres where every creative idea was smothered by questions rooted in fear. I’ve been distracted by secondary interests. I’ve given into my own emotions and have isolated myself from healthy, life-giving relationships.

And I’ve recovered. That doesn’t mean I’m where I need to be – I’m still on the journey and have a long way to go. But I’ve learned the hard way how to bounce back to passionate preaching and leadership in the local church. From my own past and my own painful experiences, let me shoot from the hip with five big ways you can bounce back from burnout and be a passionate leader once again.

  1. Repent of sin. Dig it out of the depths of your heart – the secret recesses where no one else sees but God and own your sin, especially the seven most life-stealing sins: pride, lust, laziness, envy, unholy anger, gluttony, and greed. If you’re hanging onto these, it’s no wonder you’re feeling defeated. You’re living as though victory isn’t already yours in Christ.
  2. Read the Word. Let’s be honest. Most of the time, when we’ve given…

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mother's day sermon ideasI am studying this week for a Mother’s Day Sermon I will be preaching.

When I start the message prep process, I always begin with prayer and then find a text in the Bible that I will preach.

Since I am preaching on Mother’s Day, I did a study on all the passages of scripture that I might want to preach for a sermon about mothers.

The best sermon ideas come from scripture. So here are some Mothers Day sermon ideas for you.

My hope is that this list will be helpful to save some of you the time of having to find the passages on your own.

Mother’s Day Bible Verses

Note: All scripture below is from the ESV translation.

Jesus Takes Care Of His Mother

John 19:25-27

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Timothy Is The Product Of…

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Head on cross

About seven hundred years before Jesus died on the cross, Isaiah wrote about it in extraordinary detail…

Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.

We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his…

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WolfI’ve never stood in the midst of a large pasture-tending sheep (the kind that say “baa-baa”). However, I have served as a shepherd of a local church (the kind that say “amen,” “God bless,” and “what time is the pot-luck”).

The Bible’s word-picture of the pastor or church leader as a shepherd is powerful. A shepherd must guide, lead, protect, watch, and guard. It is a weighty responsibility not to be taken lightly.

In Ezekiel 34, God entrust a message to Ezekiel for the purpose of prophesying against the bad shepherds (people leaders) of Israel. In a stunning rebuke, he declares “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?” (v. 2)

Next, the LORD proceeds to name these leaders’ laundry list of sins:

  • Demanding the choice animals for wool and food while neglecting the people.
  • Not strengthening the weak, healing the sick, or binding up the injured.
  • Not rescuing the strays or searching for the lost.
  • Ruling over the people harshly with brutality.

The result, God declares, is that the sheep were scattered and became prey to the wild animals and outside nations. Can you imagine being…

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Easter SermonToday I sit down to write my Easter sermon. My parishioners may be surprised to know that this sermon is one of the hardest to write. What can I say that hasn’t been said before? How do I keep it fresh and engaging? When I finally get over these concerns and start writing, I’m immediately slammed with another issue – how can I say everything that needs to be said and still keep my sermon down to the time I have to talk?

Here is what I remind myself each time I write the Easter message for my congregation.

Each year is different. The idea that I cannot write anything new or different is a fallacy of my limited imagination. The truth is each year is different. My audience is different. There will be people sitting in our pews that have never heard an Easter message in my church before. Even those lifetime members with perfect attendance haven’t heard the Easter sermon for at least 52 weeks. Most importantly I am different.

I am in a unique place in my Christian journey. This year I will reflect on the resurrection story differently than…

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Garden Cross

Yesterday, we launched a new message series at Grace Hills all about The CROSS. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt the power of God overwhelm me for a message as much as the first in this series, and I think I know why. Paul said it this way:

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God… Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

– 1 Corinthians 1:18, 24 NLT

For non-believers, the message of the cross is foolish. That is, it’s confusing, mysterious, and impossible to completely understand. Yet it demands action. The cross calls for a decision. You can’t ignore the cross.

And for God’s people, those who believe, the message of the cross is the power and wisdom we so desperately need in our lives. There’s nothing deeper to be studied. There’s nothing beyond the cross in the Christian life. Or to put it another way, we never outgrow our need for the gospel of God’s saving grace.

I need to be reminded of the cross every single day. Or to put it in a…

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Yesterday, I asked a group of pastors if they believe minister’s should address pop culture related topics in their messages. Over 1500 pastors responded to the survey. A whopping 74% of them said, “Yes”—ministers can and should talk about culture from the stage.

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Recently, I chatted with Ministry Pass’ Content Manager, Wade Bearden, about pop culture and the Bible. Along with leading our sermon series planning department, Wade is also a film critic in his spare time. His work has been featured on Christianity Today, RogerEbert.com, and ChristandPopCulture.com. He’s also gearing up to help launch a new podcast on film and television in the next few months.

Here’s a quick summary of our conversation about pastors and pop culture:

1. Jesus used the common imagery of his day to illustrate deep, spiritual truths, we should do the same. Seeds, sheep, and vineyards; Jesus utilized all of these pictures to help an ancient middle eastern culture understand the Kingdom of God. We too should leverage our contemporary culture’s interested in film, television, and art to communicate the message of the Bible. Films are modern day parables. Facebook is a contemporary…

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QuestionsEvery church I know of holds weekend worship services. Most of them hold at least 52 a year. Nearly all of them will have visitors show up, even if by accident.

What we don’t often realize is the incredible anxiety most of them are feeling as they walk through our doors.

Their minds are racing with questions.

The answer to those questions will most likely determine whether or not they ever come back.

For some, it may even determine where they spend eternity!

Here’s my unofficial list of a first time guest’s questions:

1. Is the roof going to cave in on me? Or sometimes stated, “Am I going to get struck by lightning?”

Many of our guests are feeling the incredible contrast between their current lifestyle and what they know God wants from them. Because of this, they think that God and them are on the outs and that He’s probably ticked off at them.

2. Is anyone going to acknowledge me?

This is human nature. Whether we are visiting a church or a restaurant or a store. When we enter walk into an organization we believe to be customer-driven, we expect someone to speak to us. In fact,…

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The average attention span of an adult is about five minutes. The average weekly sermon is 30-40 minutes.

This can be a problem.

If you’re a pastor, you might notice individuals nodding off or reaching for their phones during your messages. What can you do to help your congregation stay engaged? What methods work best to curb waning attention spans?

It’s known that some audience members learn better when visuals are used during a presentation. Others thrive off of auditory or tactile illustrations. While you can’t always be sure which style works best with each specific individual, you can keep their attention by constantly changing up your approach. Utilizing multiple methods and illustrations during talks will keep your audience engaged for longer periods of time. Psychologist Dan Willingham of the University of Virginia argues that mixing up presentation methods is scientifically proven to boost attention spans.

Here are a few ways you can mix up your messages and keep your congregation’s attention. Each sermon should have at least two (or more) of these techniques:

1. A Well Told Story.

Nothing beats a well told story. Notice I didn’t say story, but well told story. Do you bring life to your stories…

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pastor losing weightOne of my big goals this year is to lose weight and be healthier.

After having a new baby, moving to a new state, and transitioning to a new job, I looked in the mirror one morning and realized I was about 40 pounds overweight.

If you are overweight or have ever been there, it’s not a fun realization to say the least. How did this happen?

I was so focused on church and family last year, that my own physical health suffered. Can you relate?

So I made a commitment, got my family onboard with me (because I know I don’t have the strength to do this alone), and I’m happy to say I have lost 15 pounds in a little over a month.

3 Ways Losing Weight Made Me A Better Pastor

I have noticed 3 major benefits of losing weight so far.

1. More energy. 

When I get home from a long day of work, I no longer just want to crash on the couch in front of the TV. I have the energy now to get on the floor and play with my kids! I am not as lazy at home and work.

2. Better focus.

I feel more focused and productive at work. I have more…

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SO2Almost instantaneously, sermon series have taken the preaching world by storm. Visit a handful of church websites and you’re bound to find a majority promoting their hot, new sermon series.

Despite the popularity of sermon series, many ministers still view them with suspicious glances. Are sermon series really that important?

Over the years, I’ve found sermon series to be an indispensable tool for both spiritual and numerical growth in the church. If you’re not utilizing sermon series, you could be missing out on an incredible way to teach others about the Bible.

Here are four reasons why:

Reason #1: Sermon Series Function as Mental Reminders for Your Church

Last year, I preached through series called, “I Work Out.” Because my messages explored spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study, I flooded our congregation with images of bodybuilders and exercise equipment. The whole point behind subjecting my group to biceps and back muscles was so I could create in their minds a mental, relatable reminder of my messages. Essentially, a sermon series is the creation of a metaphor by which your audience can relate to, group together, and recall your messages.

Psychologists tell us that the key to moving…

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This past Sunday, Grace Hills had our big Premiere Sunday at the Malco Pinnacle Hills Cinema. We had less than three weeks to prepare for the big move after making the decision to switch locations, so the last week or two have been fairly stressful, but when the big day arrived, our minds were a little blown away by the response. God showed up in a powerful way!

Here are eight factors that have been on my mind since we left the theater…

God

I have to point out up front something I repeat often when people are expressing gratitude for how well things went: “We blame the good stuff on Jesus.” He guided our planning and preparation, energized our team for the task, and His Spirit filled the theater with His powerful presence and blessed His truth.

Prayer CircleA lot of prayer

Not only had our staff been praying hard during the days leading up to Sunday but the whole church was praying that God would use the day in a powerful way. When our…

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