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Three Phases of Accepting a God-sized Opportunity

When I knew that God was calling me to serve in pastoral ministry for the rest of my life, I wrote a note in the margin of my Bible, "Called to Preach, March 1, 1995." Seven months later, on October 1, I finally surrendered and said "yes" to His call. I had all kinds of reasons why God couldn't possibly use a shy kid like me in a preaching role, but my excuses said more about my lack of faith in God's ability than about my own lack of ability. But God was patient, as He …

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A Totally Unexpected Christmas Sermon Series

I'm quite excited that after much studying, praying, agonizing, and wrestling, I finally caught a vision for a fresh series of messages for the three weeks leading up to Christmas this year. I'd share the graphics but I don't own the original. You can find it at Graceway Media. The promo copy... I didn't ask for THIS! I didn't see THAT coming! What in the world am I going to do NOW? God had been telling the world to expect a Savior for hundreds of years, but when …

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Just How Large Should a Local Church Be? Well…

I love small churches. I love medium-sized churches. And I love large churches and "megachurches" (typically defined as an evangelical congregation with 2,000 or more weekend service attenders). I also agree with a principle shared by Bailey Smith who once said, "There are no large churches. All churches are small, some are just smaller than others when compared to the surrounding lost population." I've pastored churches of 30 and I've served as a staff Pastor at a church …

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Video: The Wife and I Make Some Sermon Promo Magic

What better way to teach about how desperately we need grace to make marriage work than to ask my wife to join me for part of the message to talk about how much grace we've needed to make our marriage work! So to promote this weekend's service, we shot a little promo video together. After a couple dozen takes, we gave up, but still managed to make this... It was fun. …

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You Need Counseling, And You Need to Give Counsel

Some of the spiritually healthiest people I know are in counseling. There seems to be some stigma around it, but getting help with our mental and emotional issues is really a matter of choosing to grow with the help of others. And the New Testament reveals a pretty neat idea in the mind of God... the church can be a growing body of compassionate counselors. If you're a Christian, you need counseling from other Christians, and you need to offer counseling to others too. I …

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We Are the Church, and We CAN Do Better

On the whole, there are far more negative perceptions of the church in American culture than positive ones. These negative perceptions are based partly in reality as we've often failed to accurately represent Jesus to our culture, and partly in unfairly propagated distortions. We can't do anything about the negative feelings people have toward the church when it's really representing the gospel well. But we can certainly own our faults and failures and commit to better …

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Giving the Gift of a Blessing

When I was a fairly young believer, my father-in-law (who was also my Pastor) led us in a study of Gary Smalley and John Trent's The Gift Of The Blessing. We talked then about how frivolously we throw around the words "blessed" and "blessing." We even follow up a sneeze with "Bless you." But in Scripture, the idea of a "blessing" was filled with meaning. God said that all who treated Abraham and his descendants well would be blessed. The patriarchs reserved the "blessing" …

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Sin Within: Why We Do What We Do

At some point in my adolescent years, I experienced the 1959 Vincent Price classic, The Tingler. Ever seen it? For its time, it's creepy. Mr. Price plays Dr. Warren Chapin who has a theory that the emotion of terror is actually caused by a creature living within us that is kept tiny only by our screams. When he performs the autopsy of a lady who was deaf and mute, he discovers the tingler, which happens to escape and run around a movie theater for a while like a giant …

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Living Under the Rule and Reign of Grace

There's a long, straight stretch of newly paved road in Bentonville near my home. It was gravel, and now it's asphalt, and it's a quick way to cut over to Rogers. Except it isn't quick because as soon as it was paved, a 30mph speed limit was placed on it. Personally, I think 30mph is a dumb rule on a long, empty, straight, newly paved road (I'm thinking 45-ish). But I'm technically bound to obey this law, and I may or may not have a tendency to exceed this limit and break the …

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Just How Big Is Your Vision?

If you've seen the recent Tom Hanks movie Saving Mr. Banks, you know that the classic movie Mary Poppins wasn't about a Nanny come to save the children. It was about a Nanny come to save Mr. Banks. And why would he need saving? According to Mary Poppins, he couldn't see past the "end of his nose." He lived for the next dollar while emotionally neglecting his kids until he eventually lost his job and found his joy flying a kite with Jane and Michael. We do that, don't we? …

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