Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Words to Remember - Love

Love Came Down at Christmas” is a very popular Christmas hymn. In it, Christ is lifted up as the physical embodiment of love and the hearers are called to remember that and celebrate it especially during the Christmas season. What shapes your understanding of love? If the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ isn't the basis of your understanding of love, then you view of love will always be slanted and unstable.

When it comes to the Christmas story, love is all around, even from the very announcement of Jesus’ birth. Gabrielle went to Mary and told her, “Greetings O favored one, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). This can be translated, “Rejoice (be glad), graceful one (charming one, beautiful one, highly favored one), the Lord is with you.” The next verse says that these words troubled Mary. It was not the angel’s presence that troubled Mary, it was the angel’s words that troubled Mary. She did not believe that God would think that highly of her, that lovingly of her.

Do you really believe God loves you? In the last “Good Words to Remember” we saw how we are God’s beloved. Have you been thinking about that since you read it? Many churches have been talking about the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy, and love these past few weeks. Love is the basis of these other virtues. Without a belief that God loves us how can we have any hope for the future, any peace with our past, or any joy in our present circumstances? When you have hit bottom, when you feel like the lowest of the low, do you still believe God loves you? Jeremiah says, in Lamentations 3:

I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
GOD’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.

If you feel like you have lost your grip on hope, like you don’t have peace with your past, or like you don’t have joy in your present circumstances, ask yourself where you are in your belief in God’s love for you. For many, it is fear that is holding them back from believing that God loves them. They fear that they are not good enough for God’s love, like they have not earned God’s love. We never will be good enough for God’s love and we never will earn God’s love but God loves us because he is so good and he gives good gifts to all.

Gabrielle immediately addressed Mary’s fear, called her by name (letting her know he knew exactly who he was talking to), and told her God was with her, even in her low, despised, state. By the end of the conversation, we see Mary at peace with God’s plan for her, hoping in the future birth of Jesus, and running off in joy to tell Elizabeth all about it. She says, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has regarded my low estate.” True worship only comes when we realize that God regards/loves us, even in our lowest of low.

LOVE – A good word to remember.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Good Words to Remember - Beloved


Do you hear this word often? It is not a word that is used very often today, but it should be. In the very short book of Jude it is used four times to speak of those who are called by the Father and kept in Jesus Christ. Dear brother or sister in Christ, do you really believe that you are the beloved of God? Of course you can say that you love him and he is love, but do you really believe he loves you? Does he love you, warts and all, with all of your imperfections on the outside and the inside? Remember, he can see the inmost parts of you, the things you hide from everyone else. He sees past façade you construct to get the approval of others. He sees past it and says, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” (Romans 9:25)

A prolific writer on the love of God (Brennan Manning) said, “I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a tea cup than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.” We lose sight of the gospel so often and go back to thinking we can somehow earn his approval by the devotionals we read, the amount of Scripture we read, or the amount of time we pray. The truth is that if you are an adopted child of God, even though you cannot comprehend it, you are called his “people” and his “beloved” not based on anything you do, but based on the accomplished work of Christ on the cross.

Are you having a bad day today? Have you gotten caught in a cycle of shame that you think you will never get out of? Do you think you are no longer his “beloved?” That is a lie of the Enemy, trying to get you to trade in a relationship based on grace for a routine based on works. Remember that you have something that can never be taken away from you, something that is a gift from the creator of life. It is an enormous gift to be called his “beloved.” Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of that as you go through your day today and him to reveal ways in which you can pass his love to others because you are his beloved.

Beloved – A good word to remember.

Monday, November 16, 2009

FALL 2009 Brennan Manning in Birmingham, AL (session 1)

I finally got to meet the famous author of one of the greatest books I have ever read, Brennan Manning. I actually still have a few pages to go in The Ragamuffin Gospel. I cannot believe I am just now reading this book! I am going to post my notes from the four sessions over the course of this week. Here are the notes from session one. Know that these are rough notes, not a manuscript by any means. Some of the thoughts seem to just cut off…that is a combination of my wondering mind and the way Brennan spoke. I literally thought he was going to pass out a few times, especially on Friday night. Many of the things he said are well worth repeating and I hope they are things I will be sharing with others and living myself for the rest of my life.

My books have aimed at dispelling myths of God and helping them experience the God of Jesus Christ. This is the main business of Christianity.

God’s love is so great that he will no allow us to keep false images, not mater how much they comfort us.

The truth of the intimate love of God is echoed in the unique love of God. God loves me as I really am, a bundle of paradoxes and contradictions.

Aristotle says I’m a rational animal. I say I’m an angel with a capacity for beer.

Do you believe that God loves you so much that he would rather die than be without you?

Feb 8 1956 – In a 4 hour experience of Gods passionate love for me. It changed the entire direction of my life.

Do you believe that God loves you? That he is crazy about you? If not, you are projecting onto Jesus your own negative thoughts about yourself.

Do you believe that God loves you as you are and not as you should be? Nobody in this building is how you should be. Only you can answer that question. It is the sheer work of Grace for us to live in the house of love rather than in the house of fear.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good Words to Remember - Meaningful

Over and over in Ecclesiastes, King Solomon repeats the exact opposite of this word. He shouts it four times in his opening sentence, saying, “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’”

If you give Ecclesiastes a mere surface reading, you will walk away thinking it is a very depressing book. You must look deeper. Solomon had everything he could have wanted, materially, but he found it all to be meaningless…under the sun. Many theologians say this phrase means “apart from God.” When realized as such, Solomon’s words wake us up to the reality that we can have all of the earthly pleasures that advertisements and commercials tell us we need, but as long as we are pursuing them “under the sun” it will be a meaningless pursuit.

A meaningful life is lived when we do all things, even eating and drinking, not “under the sun” but “through the Son” because “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). “Under the sun” even the loftiest of the world’s delights are meaningless but “through the Son” even the lowest of the world’s duties are meaningful.

Meaningful – a good word to remember.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Humility vs. Humiliation

Nothing says power struggle like those two little letters put together…“vs”. Life seems to be so much of a power struggle sometimes and it is exactly that struggle that leads so many into the addictive cycle they so want to have power over.

What is the difference between humility and humiliation? I was with a group of friends a few days ago and this topic came up. Don’t you wish you had my friends? One of my older and wiser friends, who is often known as being once again worded it perfectly…I will not do so here…so, here is my paraphrase…Humility comes from within and humiliation comes from without. To unpack that, humility is something that is an inner gift of the Spirit while humiliation is something that Bret Favre wanted the Packers to feel last night in MNF.

So I started thinking…maybe the more humility we accept, ask for, and cultivate in our own souls, the less someone else has the power to humiliate us. Humiliation, a synonym of shame is one of the main drivers of the addiction cycle but if we continue to humble ourselves before our Maker, he will lift us up above the accusations of the many who are trying to shame us – even the ones who don’t even know that is what they are doing.

I have had a long streak of sobriety, longer than I have had in a long time and the Enemy is taking this as an opportune time to try out some old lies on me to see if I, maybe getting somewhat prideful of my sobriety, might believe them again. He is saying, you are married now so you are fine. You don’t need “accountability” anymore. What did it do for you anyways?

It is only humbling myself before my Maker, remembering that my life has become unmanageable but because of his grace I have been redeemed and will be sustained to the day when all evil is gone, that I will be able to go throughout my day avoiding the ambushes the Enemy is setting for me. The Enemy wants to ambush me, trap me, and leave me wounded so that I might go back to my old medication cycle, which is a trap in itself.

Derek Webb
says it well. “I don’t want medication just give me liberation even if it cuts my legs right out from underneath don’t give me medication I want the real sensation even when living feels just like death to me.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Where Do You Get Your Ideas About Sex?

I was reading one of my favorite Birmingham publications (Black&White) and ran across this article about a sex theme park. What?! A sex theme park? Yep, China, a place where apparently talk about sex isn’t as wide spread as it is in these parts of the world was actually going to build a Six Flags of Sex. Hmmm… Of course the Chinese government wasn’t having any of that so they put the kibosh on that project, even making them take down the huge mannequin one would have to have walked through the legs of to enter the park. Think the story is over? Think again. It turns out that while the Chinese Love Land was getting all of this press there is a Love Land in South Korea that is open for business and has been for five years. Yep, we kept part of Korea free from Communist tyranny and look what they have used their freedom to do. Well, that’s one thing to do I guess.

So all of this brings me back to the original question. Where do you get your ideas about what sex is? It seems that in a part of the world where sex is a taboo subject for public discussion the pendulum is swinging to the opposite end. Now sex is the theme of a sculpture park. We have been kicking this question around at Tapestry now that we are entering out Summer of Love series of teachings through the Song of Songs. For me personally, I cannot remember sex being talked about in church, at home, or in my Christian school beyond the admonition to not do it before marriage and then only do it with the person you are married to. That’s it. What do you think the typical teenage response to that is going to be? OK. Got that. Nuff said. NO WAY! Especially when I was hearing all kinds of stuff about sex from my friends at school, and on TV. I was looking up anatomical terms and the word “sex” in the dictionary and in the encyclopedia and when I got to 11, I was spending more time at my friends houses who had Sinemax or Playboy magazines around. And of course there was the music I was listening to in my “Walkman”. Snoop Doggy Dog and EZ E were my teachers then. Now, of course I knew there was a difference between sex and romance. Where did I learn about romance? Boys II Men were my teachers there. I’ll Make Love to You was one of my favorite songs. Still, all I heard from home or church was, “sex is for marriage.” That’s it. I know I’m not the only one here. This is the USUAL story of people growing up in the church.

So, now we at TOH are going through the Song of Songs, seeing what the Bible has to say about sex and romance. It turns out that God actually has a lot to say about this invention of his, actually advising us on how to use it properly, beyond the admonition not to do it outside of marriage. WOW!

Give a listen to this sermon series and jump in on the conversation over at TOH Community to let us know what you think.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Im Just A Restaurant Prophet With My Hands In My Pockets

Now, Jesus knew well from experience that a prophet is not respected in the place where he grew up. So when he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, but only because they were impressed with what he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, not that they really had a clue about who he was or what he was up to. John 4:35-45 from The Message.

Yesterday I was reading this passage in John and as I meditated on it I was brought back to the memory of when I was working on my undergrad degree in the thriving metropolis of Kosciusko, MS (the birth place of Oprah Winfrey) and was preaching at small church in Laurel, MS every week (twice on Sundays). When I was in Laurel and increasingly as I traveled across the state representing the college, my reputation began to build and I was becoming a respected up and coming Bible teacher / preacher. But, when I went home to Mobile, AL, to the church I grew up in, I was just a college kid home for the weekend. This verse brought comfort to me because I loved the fact that I was experiencing something Jesus experienced.

The thing is, I wonder why it was that I was just a college kid home for the weekend in one city and in the next state over I was having more speaking requests than I could fill (now this isn't bragging because I average about five speaking requests a year now and that is normally when someone is really desperate). Was it because they knew me better in Mobile? Was it that they know all of the silly things I have done, so it is hard for them to respect me? Maybe. I feel like the less somebody knows me, the more I keep the relationship a relationship of preacher and congregant, preacher and student, or whatever you want to call it, the more the person respects me and comes to me for advice. Maybe that is true and maybe it isn't. I know that there are kids from the various Birmingham ministries I have been a part of that still come to me and respect me even though they have certainly seen some of my ridiculousness. Whatever the case is, I need to know that people are watching me and I need to do my best to glorify Christ and lift him up. If I do that and people don’t respect me, then so be it. But, if I do not do that, then I have no right to complain when people don’t respect me. This has a lot to do with my situation at work.

I tell you what, working in the restaurant industry is a strain on my Christian witness. It is a place where I experience rejection coming from all angles and have plenty of down time to gossip and complain about people. You think gossip happens at an old lady’s bridge game? I have heard, and yes, been a part of, more gossip around the soda machine at a restaurant than I could have ever imagined. It is a culture at the restaurant and it is so hard not to get sucked up into it. It is just one of the examples of how stuff can hit you from out of nowhere and one (insert me here) can go from a reputation of being “oh that preacher who just started working here we better stop cussing around” to “just another guy that gossips and I couldn’t even tell he was an different from us.” I think the person I want to be known for, the type of “prophet’s respect” I am looking for, is somewhere in between those two things. I mean, if people just respect me when they really have no clue who I am or what I'm up to, that is really no respect at all is it? Where is the reality in that? There is no reality. I want something that is REAL.

God help us as we navigate those waters, trying to stay in the fairway between the roughs. What I need to remember is that when I get in the rough water of my mistakes, sins, addictions, obsessions, etc..., I have an awesome opportunity to lift Jesus high! Living in the fairway all of the time, something I'm never going to do since it is impossible, normally just leads to SELF glorification. So, while I pray that God will keep me in the fairway by his grace, when I wander off course, I pray that God will show me how when I am weak he is strong and how he can be glorified in the midst of my mistakes. I also know that because of the sanctification work going on in my life I can be brought back to the smooth waters of the fairway…until I drift off again

Copy and paste this link below into your browser to hear the Derek Webb station on Pandora I have been working on. I love it!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Village Psalms Bible Study

Last night I met up with some of the guys from The Village to study the Psalms as I have been doing every Monday for about eight weeks now. The last two times we met, it was at Starbucks in Five Points South…where you can run into some for real characters! We have been sitting at the tables outside because the weather has been so nice and both weeks someone has been walking by and has heard us talking and asked if he could join us. We had a really cool guy, Tony, join us last night. Tony, like our friend from the week before, got really antsy when he saw the Birmingham Police pulling someone over just a few yards from where we were sitting….he didn’t tell us exactly why. What he did tell us was that years ago he would read the Bible every night and fall asleep holding his Bible. He told us that he wasn’t sure if he would be able to be part of a discussion about the Bible but he would try. About an hour in he asked us if we did this every Monday and asked if he could join us next week. As he walked away, Rob asked him how we could be praying for him. He asked us to be praying for his soul to get right with God. So, be praying for Tony. I hope he was blessed in some way by our discussion of the Psalms.

So, what did we actually discuss? This week we got into the categories/genres of the Psalms. They wanted to talk about some of the things I am learning in seminary and that was the first things Mark got into in our Psalms class at Beeson. I wanted to show them 3 main things…what a preacher I am…
1. The importance of realizing categories and how we use them everyday
2. That we cannot understand the categories of the Psalms as easily as we understand the categories we use everyday.
3. How to recognize what category a particular Psalm is in and what to do with that knowledge.

I think my favorite part of the discussion was that right around us there was a great example of what I was teaching (Starbucks, The Original Pancake House, and Surin West). We all understood that if we come downtown at 6:00 am we would only expect to get bacon and eggs at one of those places and we would only expect to get a cup of coffee and a muffin at one of those places. If we went there at 6:00 pm we would only expect two of those places to be open and would only expect to get a meal (a delicious meal covered in curry) at one of those places. Without knowing categories of restaurants, and what category those three restaurants fit into, we would be messed up. My next move was to point out how naturally we understood those categories and tell them that we cannot expect that we know the categories of the Psalms that intuitively.

Then, only having time to analyze one category of Psalms, we discussed praise psalms, particularly looking at Psalm 103. I love the last verse of the Psalm, Psalm 103:22. There he moves from telling all of creation to praise God to telling himself to praise God, which is exactly how he begins. Wouldn’t it be awesome if all preachers preached like this? David admonished himself from the beginning, wasn’t afraid to give that same admonishment to the gathered community (and even all created things), and then said again how he needed to obey the commandment. I find that it is sometimes easy to think of what others should do without realizing my own wandering heart. At the beginning of the day and at the end of the day my focus must be on whether or not MY SOUL is praising the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Help With The Hamper

I think I have always been one of those people that was pretty eager to accept help. I think it goes back to this trip I was on when I was like 11 years old. My Mother, who has always been directionally challenged, was driving us from Mobile, AL to Columbus, MS. Now I know that is not a far drive at all, but then, I thought it was forever away. To make matters worse, there were large detours because of a bridge that was out. So, not only was my Mom not sure where she was going, now she was taking even less traveled roads to get there. At one point, after we had been on the road for hours, we saw the sign welcoming us back to Alabama. I don’t know if it was the downpour of rain, my screaming little sister in the car seat next to me, or the fact that I had watched too many horror movies about people getting lost in the country, but for some reason, seeing that sign welcoming us back to Alabama and knowing we were far from home made me panic. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t pull over and ask someone at a gas station for directions, though at this point, this far from the main road, I wasn’t too sure about that option either. So, I have never been afraid to ask someone where something is or admit that I have no idea what the answer is to a question, which isn’t a good thing when my manager is asking me questions about the new menu items and I seem as if I could care less what the answer is. I really do care; I’m just honest about it when I don’t fully know it, rather than trying to BS my way through it.

Last night I was standing up at the host/hostess stand at Brock’s and I saw a woman, who I knew was a guest in our restaurant, walking toward me. Eager to act is if I was taking care of company business and always ready to help the guest, I locked eyes with this woman and asked if she was looking for the restroom. She looked at me as if I had just asked her if she knew where her own head was and sternly told me, “It is through those doors. I know exactly where it is.” Taken aback by this, I told her, “Well there is a mirror in there and you might want to take a look in it before you return.” Not really. But it would have been pretty sweet if I would have. It was as if she was so irritated that I would think that she didn’t know where the restroom was and that I would offer to help her by telling her where it is.

I think we find this problem in churches a lot today. We all walk in like we don’t need help or if we do, it is only a little bit of help. I'm doing great brother! Great! How are you!? Galatians 6:2 Paul commands Christians to carry each other’s burdens. One of the things that struck me about that when I read it a few days ago was the context of Galatians 6:1-5. This is a spiritual brother/sister restoring someone who has been tempted and is caught in a sin. I don’t think this is “catch me if you can” kind of caught but “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” kind of caught. When are churches going to be the places where people admit their struggles and believe that real spiritual restoration will occur because the Holy Spirit is going to work through Christian family? When is John going to be transparent with the community and tell us what sins he is caught in and what burdens he needs the community to help him carry rather than telling us what sins his neighbor or family member is dealing with. When I guest preach at churches and preach on the prodigal son, I always hear stories of how someone is a prodigal that needs to come home. The kicker is that it is always some telling about someone else who is a prodigal who needs to come home. The person talking to me never thinks he/she is the prodigal!

Where does this start? This starts with the leaders and teachers in the church being transparent and honest about struggles in their lives. We don’t have to air out every bit of our dirty laundry but to act as if it is all clean in that hamper is a lie, a lie that Satan will be glad to help you keep up as long as possible. What dirty secrets are in your hamper? Do you have anybody in your life you feel is safe enough to confess to (James 5:16)? Is anybody in your life safe? Do people think you are a safe person to confess to?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sweet Monday Action

This has been a great day! I am still pumped about last night, I am actually getting pulled in to the inauguration hype, and I am watching a MLK documentary (KING) in celebration of MLK day.

I posted Tal's sermon from last night here.

I posted Tal Prince Live from last night here.

(My heart sinks as I watch a national cable channel recount the bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church, a horrible tragedy that occurred just a few miles from where I sit and type now.)

Last night was a great night at Tapestry. As we sat and prayed over our gathering (something we do every week for about 20 minutes before the gathering) I could feel the Holy Spirit moving in me, letting me know this was something special we were doing tonight. People often say that as soon as they walk in the room where we worship, they can physically feel the presence of God. That isn’t anything you can conjure or make happen. God just chooses for it to happen and all you can do is be thankful for it and not overlook the wonderful blessing you have. Of course, we are gathered, asking for God’s presence among us and we set the atmosphere as much as we can with lighting and music but in the end, it is God’s decision and I cannot make Him do anything (nor would I want to).

I read Isaiah 44:9-20 from The Message and I could hear that the community was really hearing the words of this Bible passage. Sometimes Peterson hits the ball out of the park and I think his translation of Isaiah 44 is one of those home runs.

Tal used the story of Marcus Schrenker, how he faked his death (and was horrible at it) because he couldn’t keep up the image. He went on to say how we all need to die to our images but many of us are just faking our deaths because somewhere in the Bible we are told to do so.

I wonder if I am faking my death. Oh, I know I am faking my death. Well, it isn’t really faking my death as much as death to self just doesn’t come that easily. I was totally reminded of it last night and this morning as I signed up for Twitter. Now, I kicked against the multiplying wave of people looking for one more way to update everybody on the minutia of life and keep “networked” for long enough but I couldn’t hold out a day longer. I walked down the aisle last night, and I am tweeting with the best of them. I am not one of the best of them mind you…I am just out there tweeting along with them. Immediately I had two followers…at 4:00 am! Then I started looking at how Tal is following just a few more people than is following him and I thought that is the true sign of Twitter fame…when more people are following you than you are following. I thought of cutting the number of people I was following from 30 down to one so I could have twice as many followers as number of people I was following and then saw what must be the ultimate twitter triumph…Donaldmilleris is following one person while . I just thought of this one…if you could keep your number of followers above your number of updates. Nope. Not a good measuring rod. Barack Obama has 165,414 followers and only 264 updates, but he is following 168,134 people, so that whole followers over updates thing isn’t going to work out.

Why do I care so much about all of this? This is my image! This is the image that I hold up so high, thinking the world revolves around me…when clearly it doesn’t. I love looking at my little map on my blog and seeing where in the world people are who are looking at my blog. Who are you in Brazil? Whoever you are…I love you and you do so much for my little idol of an image. Seriously, this is crazy. I have like 9 blog readers and I think it is some kind of big deal and I am worried about how many people are going to follow me on Twitter now. So, now I am off to try to make my blog really cool like this guy from Atlanta who’s blog is so cool that they did an article on him in Collide Magazine. I especially love the way he has the little Twitter bird at the top of his blog...I need to get one of those.

I don’t have an image problem…I promise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

KC part 1 (Sunday at Jacob's Well)

Today is a really great day in Birmingham. I had a great lunch with Tal and Marc, the weather is great, I posted the first recording of Tal Prince Live since August, and I just picked up my dry cleaning. What could be better? Now I figured it is as good of a time as any to write about my experiences in Kansas City while I was there to visit Becki during the second week in December.

I am going to start with my experiences at Jacob’s Well Church. Here are some pictures of JW that are on Tim Keel's blog. Since I knew I was going to be there that Sunday, I checked out their website, downloaded a few sermons, and familiarized myself somewhat with their staff. It turned out that familiarizing myself with the staff helped out because the regular teaching pastor, Tim Keel, was no preaching that Sunday. Instead, Deth Im was preaching. Deth is one of the associate pastors and he also serves JW as an elder. They were going through the themes of Advent (hope, joy, peace, love) which was awesome because that is exactly what we were doing at Tapestry! That is the kind of stuff that happens when you are following the church calendar, which is something we do a little at Tapestry but I later learned they do a lot at JW.

Deth preached on rejoice, which he said really means to be glad glad because the re prefix intensifies the word joy. One really cool thing they did was give us all tiny bells as we walked in and Deth asked us to ring those bells when we felt like something said or read resonated with us, instead of using our normal evangelical guttural sounds. That was a really cool thing. People rang the bells after Scriptures were read, people rang bells when they resonated with a truth of happy things in our lives and when they rejoiced even in the midst of pains in our lives. The texts he especially used as he taught were the magnificat of Mary in Luke 1 and story of the Israelites rejoicing in Psalm 126. This all led up to the final question of how does your soul magnify the Lord?

This sermon is an awesome sermon. I don’t always say that, so you can trust that I really believe that. Several things I liked:

ª The opening way he involved the entire audience with something fun AND used the context of the interaction as a launching pad for the sermon.
ª The way he shared personal stories, and what Calvin Miller calls his romance with the text. A lot of times preachers get really jacked up about something in the Bible and don’t understand why the congregation doesn’t get that jacked up too. What we don’t realize is that we had a long time of meditating over this passage before we got jacked up over it. Share the journey that you went through as you came to fall in love with this text.
ª The interaction brought by the bells
ª The way we read Psalm 126 out loud together during the sermon and then he invited people to say what they thought was going on there and what the writer of the Psalm was getting at. He used those thought, at almost the exact middle point of the sermon, as a catalyst to bring us to the end of the sermon.

After the sermon, Mike Crawford led us in “The Magnificat” and “Ring Out O Bells”. You really need to check out his Myspace page and get his new CD. I will be writing more on that later.

How does your soul magnify the Lord?