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a raging river

Ron Phillips: The Cost of Grace

The movie A River Runs Through It is narrated by Norman, one of the main characters. He makes this statement about his father, a minister:

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy.”

While we rightly view grace as a free gift, grace always costs someone something. read more

Boredom-at-church-smaller

8 Ways You Might Be Losing People in Your Sermons

Are you losing people when you preach? Do people check out during your sermons?

After listening to thousands of sermons and preaching quite a few myself, I have learned eight different ways that pastors lose people in their sermons.

1. Sloppy transitions. You just told a great story. It was funny and thought-provoking. But as soon as the story ended, you suddenly switched direction and started talking about something else.

Wait, what? Slow down. How did we get from that funny thing your kid did to some old guy in the Old Testament?

Where is the connection? read more

exciting-church-small

Shouldn’t a Church Service Be Exciting?

“Pastor, the minute you decide church must always be exciting is the moment you begin turning the worship services into pep rallies. After that, it all goes downhill.”

I said that on Facebook the other day and enraged a few people.

“Worshiping the Lord should always be exciting,” one person insisted. I replied, “I’m doing the funeral of a 53-year-old man today. It will be comforting, but not exciting.”

I understand where the guy is coming from. read more

Elated-pastor

Word-Wrangling: A New Rodeo Event for Preachers?

I’m not sure most of us preachers fully believe the scriptural command to avoid word fights:

“Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers” (2 Tim. 2:14, NASB).

After all, aren’t some words worth wrangling over?

“Wrangling about words” conjures images of cowboys at the corral trying to tame a bucking theological term that won’t hold still. read more

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