Monthly Archives: August 2013

Just Had My New Baby!

Okay, I didn’t have the baby.  (Thank you, Lord, that men don’t deliver the babies!)  And, fortunately for Vickie, it wasn’t necessary for her to deliver this one either.

But I did just receive my new devotional book “Immersed: 40 Days to a Deeper Faith”.  She joins “Seven Steps to Becoming a Healthy Christian Leader” and “Warriors in Hiding” in my quiver of book offspring.

Books feel sort of like babies- there is a lot of crying and sleepless nights involved.  And, the labor can be pretty intense- though nothing like real birthing labor, I’m sure.  (Again, thank you, Lord, that men don’t deliver babies!)

I am praying God will use “Immersed: 40 Days to a Deeper Faith” to strengthen churches, small groups and individual believers.  In two weeks, our church will begin this 40 day devotional with accompanying messages and small group lessons.  I hope others will use and benefit from the material as well.

Special thanks to Elmer Towns of Liberty University, Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church, John Avant of FBC Concord, TN, John Marshall of Second Baptist Springfield, MO, Preston Nix of NOBTS, Gregg Matte of FBC Houston, TX, David Uth of FBC Orlando, FL and author Aaron Broyles for endorsements.  Think of yourselves as godparents.

Here she is!


Isn’t she a pretty baby?

*You can order books from me at for $10 each, or $9 each for 10 or more, or $8 each for 30 or more.  Limited time offer.  (I always wanted to say, “limited time offer”!)

I Don’t Listen to Sermons

   The reason I don’t listen to sermons is because I’m usually the one preaching.  But during my vacation time this summer I sat in some other churches and listened to someone else preach.  It is a different perspective, sitting in the congregation instead of standing behind the pulpit.  Here are some lessons learned.

   1.  Part of a good sermon depends on the speaker.  On vacation, I heard some fine preachers deliver some fine messages.  When they spoke with passion and grabbed me through stories or humor, I tended to listen better.  Boring messages are, I have to admit, harder to follow.  Please, no “amens” from the FBC O’Fallon, IL crowd! 🙂  And really, boring people with the greatest message ever?  Unacceptable.

   2.  Part of a good sermon depends on the listener.  If I am eager to learn, eager to worship and listening carefully for the Lords’ Word for my life, It makes a difference.  Analyzing the preacher’s ability- or lack thereof- isn’t that helpful.  Allowing my mind to wander limits the impact of the word.  Focus and a tender heart makes a difference regardless of the speaker.  If I am prayed up and eager to listen, I tend to get more from the message.

   3.  Part of a good sermon has nothing to do with the sermon.  If I was drawn into worship through music and prayer I found my heart better prepared to listen to the sermon.  If I got some decent rest the night before, I found the message easier to follow.  If the congregation was friendly and inviting to me before the service even began, I was apt to anticipate the message with greater enthusiasm.  If my relationship with God and my family and others was right, I found I was better at listening to the message that day.

   4.  Part of a good sermon depends on the Holy Spirit.  There were times when I felt the Holy Spirit was applying the message to me in a way the preacher might not have been able to anticipate.  God can use the words of the message to draw us in ways that are only indirectly related to the message itself.  Sometimes the message was more of a “God thing” than the result of the preacher.

   I am so thankful for the opportunity to preach.  But I am so very thankful for those who listen.  I’ll try to do my best when I preach.  I will study and pray and practice.  But I know that it is about more than me and my abilities. 

  I pray- for those of you going to a church service this weekend- that you will be a good listener; that you will have a “God moment”.  I pray your preacher does a good job.  But, I pray that you do your part. 

   Listen well this weekend.

Why the Church Matters

“I like Jesus, I just don’t like the church.”

Here is the problem with that thinking. Jesus is the One who formed the church. It is His idea and He is for it. And if Jesus founded the church, He did it for a reason.

Let me encourage you to get involved in a local church. It isn’t perfect and do you know why? Because it is filled with people like you. There are no perfect churches just as there are no perfect people. We connect with others in a church because we need each other, not because any of us are perfect.

Maybe you have had a bad experience with a church. Maybe you got your feelings hurt or you met some unkind people or it just didn’t work out. But don’t give up on finding a church family and connecting.

I’ve had the great privilege of being part of some fantastic churches. The church I’ve served as pastor for the past 18 years is phenomenal and I love those people dearly. But even if that hasn’t been your experience, there is a church and a place for you.

One suggestion about church. Don’t make it just about you. Don’t just think of what you can get from the church. Consider serving instead of just attending. Love others whether they return that love quickly or not. Don’t make it primarily about styles you like but about worshipping the God of the universe.

Connect with a church that teaches and lives the truth. Get active, get involved, be faithful.

If you do, you might change your thinking from “I like Jesus, but not the church” to “I like the church because I love Jesus.”