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Showing posts from September, 2016

Rise of the Unaffiliated

Dear Church Family,
The other night about twenty members of the church sat together at the home of Jim and Leigh Walker. It was the third “meet and greet,” informal meetings in homes where Christy and I share a little about ourselves and get to know Grace folk better. Thanks to everyone who hosted! If there is still some interest from those unable to attend one of the previous three meet and greets, we are happy to schedule more. Anyway, after the usual talk things seemed to be wrapping up. It was close to 8:00. Then we began a surprising, in depth discussion of where we saw the church going.
We talked about the decline in worship attendance over the last two decades or so, how to reach younger generations, and what to offer new people when they come to Grace. It’s my belief, and I think this is backed by research, that offering the latest and greatest programming, making our services hip and cool, whatever that means, or offering one style of worship over another is not effective in re…

Two Funerals

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 Luke 16:19-31

The lead pastor of First Baptist Church rose to the pulpit to offer the eulogy. A cherished member of the congregation, a leading contributor to the recent education wing addition, had died. The preacher recalled the departed’s impact on the community: his service on the boards of several non profits; membership in the Chamber of Commerce and the Elk’s Club. He had been likable and dependable. Those closest to him, acquaintances more than friends-- the man had no family-- spoke of his generosity and sense of humor. A pillar of the community, he would be dearly missed. “Blessed are those who mourn,” the preacher said. We would be comforted in our grief.
Across town at the morgue in the hospital basement, the attendant signed out the body of a man to the local funeral home. A week earlier, a body was found in the ditch outside one of the stately homes near the country club. “Homes from $1 million+” proclaimed the giant billboard soaring above the securi…

Healthy Church Initiative

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a sort of reunion group with other pastors celebrating significant milestones in ministry (it was my 15th anniversary as an Elder in the church). We talked about our approaches to preaching. I said one of my guiding principles in preaching is simplicity. That when I prepare a sermon, I try to bring one person one message. When I am thinking/writing about Sunday's message, I try to envision how one person would hear what I am trying to say. What would I want that one person to contemplate throughout the week?

One message. One person.

The other night Grace's Administrative Council voted unanimously to participate in the North Texas Conference's Healthy Church Initiative. We were invited to go through this process, not because Grace is unhealthy, but to help us better focus on reaching our community for Christ. Grace has an amazing ministry that reaches many people through various avenues, but it's hard to point to a unifying direc…

Would You Go Back?

I've been reading a new Stephen King book this week: 11-22-63. It's about a teacher in Maine who lives in 2011. His friend Al discovers a rift in time, which transports him to 1958. Every time Al travels to the past he arrives on the same date, in the same place. No matter how many times he goes back, it's always the same. When he returns to 2011, only two minutes have elapsed. Al starts to think about changing the future in a major way-- what if he stopped Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President Kennedy? Would the Vietnam War still happen? Could he save millions of lives by stopping one murder? One thing Al learns: every time he journeys to 1958 and changes one little, or major, thing, it effects the future in some way. But when he goes back to 1958 again, everything resets to how it was before. The book was recently made into a TV series on Hulu.

When Al becomes ill, he convinces his friend Jake, a school teacher, to go.  Jake takes up the mission to save JFK. He …

On the 15th Anniversary of 9/11

Exodus 32:7-14 Luke 15:1-10
“Where were you on September 11?” Christy and I were in our apartment on Henderson Avenue getting ready for work.  We were watching the Today show. We watched live, as most of here and billions around the world did, as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.  We were horrified, unsure what to do next.  She drove to her job, near SMU, and I drove to Oak Lawn near downtown Dallas, where I served as Associate Pastor.  I remember driving along Turtle Creek listening to the radio and worrying about Dallas being attacked.  It was doubly terrifying for me—Christy and I had just learned the day before, September 10, that she was pregnant with our first child, James.  Throughout the day I struggled with guilt, watching and reading of great human suffering, while at the same time feeling joy about our own news. That newly announced fetus is now the starting left tackle on the Sherman Bearcats freshman team.
When I arrived at the church, we began to think: how sho…

Papaw's Buick

Last weekend our family was in Bay City to visit family. On Saturday Mom took her six grandsons to the Children's Museum. My wife Christy and I decided to squeeze in a quick coffee break with our free time. When we were finished, I went to the car to pick her up and it wouldn't start. Great. Frustrating. We've been having issues with her car for the last few weeks, and thought they were resolved. But here we were, stranded. So I walked to the museum, borrowed Mom's car, dropped Christy off at the museum, and ran some errands. I ran into my Aunt Pam and brother in law Jessie and told them about the car. Then I went to get Dad to help me jump the car's battery. By the time we arrived at the car, Christy was there, joined by Pam and Jessie. All five of us took turns trying to fix the thing, to no avail. We even called Uncle Danny to hear his thoughts. No luck.

Ultimately we decided to leave Christy's car in Bay City to be repaired, and my grandfather lent us his …