Behind the Sermon — Episode #5

In this week’s episode of “Behind the Sermon,” we talk about the energizing effect of vitamins and Coke products, the futility of learning dead languages, and how youth are a mirror of the church. All this and more as we discuss the upcoming sermon, “Formation,” in our Family Faith worship series.

Episode 5 — October 15, 2015

Behind the Sermon is now available for free via iTunes! If you’re on an iOS device you can open the “Podcasts” app, search for “Behind the Sermon”, then download episodes and click “subscribe” to get notifications whenever a new episode is posted.

If you’d like to access previous episodes of Behind the Sermon directly from our website, go to this link. Happy listening!

Discipleship and the Means of Grace

The Seven Minute Seminary video series that is produced by Seedbed is one of the best ways to get familiar with Wesleyan thought related to the Bible, theology, and ministry. It features prominent Wesleyan scholars and pastors speaking on topics related to their areas of specialty. I’ve been lucky to record a few of the video presentations myself.

In the following video, I speak on the Wesleyan understanding of the means of grace. The means of grace are those practices of worship, devotion, and discipleship which lie at the very heart of Wesleyan spirituality. Click below to learn more:

For my other Seven Minute Seminary teaching presentations, go to this link.


 

Family Faith Series — Part 2

We moved into Week 2 of our Family Faith worship series at First Church Springdale this past week. The second week’s sermon is entitled, “Witness,” and is based on Ephesians 5:21-33.

The witness we focus on in this sermon is the witness of Christian parents within marriage. Marriage can be one of the most powerful witnesses of the Christian faith possible. That witness takes place both internally and externally: within the home and towards the watching world.

The model for the relationship of husband and wife we find in Ephesians 5:21-33 is a remarkable one. Contrary to many misuses of this passage, it does not establish a rigid hierarchy within marriage so much as it calls for a revolutionary hierarchy. The hierarchy that it is really talking about is a hierarchy that places the relationship of Christ and the church as the model for what all marriage should seek to imitate. That means that a true, mutual submission of wife to husband and husband to wife is not only possible, it also lies at the heart of the witness that marriage is meant to be.

Here’s the sermon from our Shiloh Street Worship Service:


 

Behind the Sermon — Episode #4

In this week’s episode of “Behind the Sermon,” we talk about the plant-like quality of children, the love of Jesus and the Razorbacks, and the stickiness of faith. All this and more as we discuss the upcoming sermon, “Cultivation,” in our “Family Faith” worship series. Here’s the link:

Episode 4 — October 7, 2015

Now for some exciting news: Behind the Sermon is now available for free via iTunes! If you’re on an iOS device you can open the “Podcasts” app, search for “Behind the Sermon”, then download episodes and click “subscribe” to get notifications whenever a new episode is posted.

If you’d like to access previous episodes of Behind the Sermon directly from our website, go to this link. Happy listening!

Means of Grace notice in the Ark. United Methodist

The Arkansas United Methodist newspaper very thoughtfully posted a notice about my new book, The Means of Grace in its October 2015 issue. I have been serving as a regular columnist for the AUM since 2011, where my Practical Divinity column appears quarterly.

For those of you in the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, check out the Arkansas United Methodist if you don’t already have a subscription here. There’s no better way to keep abreast of the ministry and mission of our annual conference!


 

Family Faith Series — Part 1

We were excited to launch our Family Faith worship series at First Church Springdale this past week. The first week’s sermon was entitled, “Covenant,” and was based on Ephesians 2:14-22. It looked at the relationship between the biological family and the family of faith — including the ways in which our faith can become more deeply rooted when it is embraced within the family home.

Here’s the sermon from our 11 a.m. Classic Worship Service:

 

 


 

Mental Health Awareness

Mental Health Awareness WeekThis week marks the National Mental Health Awareness Week for 2015.

Yesterday evening we hosted a Candlelight Vigil for Mental Health Awareness as a way to kick off the week in this area. The event was sponsored by Mental Health America in Northwest Arkansas and the Springdale Affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I was glad that First Church could provide the hospitality for an event that was advocating for such an important cause.

I doubt there is a single adult living who hasn’t either suffered from a mental illness or had a close family member or friend who has. At the Candlelight Vigil yesterday, we heard numerous testimonies of or about people who have suffered from anxiety or depression, P.T.S.D., schizophrenia, and dementia. One of the challenges of mental illness is the stigma that has traditionally been associated with it. And that’s exactly why events like National Mental Health Awareness Week are so important.

One of the most poignant parts of the event yesterday evening was the point where we were all invited to take the “Stigma Free Pledge” which focuses on a commitment to learning about mental health, seeing the person (and not the illness), and taking action to help spread awareness about mental health. You can find one version of that pledge here:

I pledge to show compassion by reaching out to those in need.
I pledge to have the courage to speak up and challenge stereotypes and attitudes.
I pledge to teach by sharing my own experiences w/ mental illness and encouraging others to do so.
I pledge to work for a change in how we view and address mental illness.

That pledge contains some wonderful goals, which I think all people can join together to support.

Behind the Sermon — a new podcast!

What is it like to write a sermon? How do pastors choose the topics they will preach about? What exactly goes into sermon preparation and planning?

Questions like these are the driving force behind the new “Behind the Sermon” podcast launched by my fellow pastor Todd Lovell and me. We serve as the podcast’s hosts, while our colleague Nathan Lindsey serves the role of producer.

Our goal in Behind the Sermon is to talk about issues in preaching, theology, and ministry with specific reference to the sermon preparation that we do each week for our congregation at First Church Springdale. Some of that will be specific to our context, but a lot of it will also be relevant for preaching and pastoral ministry in general.

We’re working on registering the podcast with iTunes. Until then, you can access Behind the Sermon from our podcast page on the First Church website. Click on the red “Listen to BTS” tab for each episode to listen to it directly from the website. Or right click on the red tab to download the mp3 to your computer or mobile device.

I’ll list the links to each episode we’ve posted thus far. And I’ll definitely notify our listeners when we’re up and running on iTunes. Thanks for listening, and feel free to share with others!

Episode 1 – September 18, 2015

Episode 2 – September 23, 2015

Episode 3 – September 30, 2015