When the Preacher Doesn’t Pay Attention to his Own Sermon…

This is not a good time to lose your train of thought.

Yesterday I slipped into the sacristy as the congregation sang the last verse of the pre-sermon hymn. I grabbed a sip of juice from the glass my wife left for me. I closed my eyes to pray for blessing on the sermon as I usually do.

No prayer came.

Instead, I saw that empty back pew. The pew where the older teens usually sit when they’re at church. The pew that should have been filled, based on what several teens had told me.

It stuck in my craw. I had to physically shake the thought out of my head. Now was not the time to ponder. Now was the moment to concentrate, to focus my thoughts so I could bring God’s Word to God’s people that were present. It does no good to preach at people who aren’t there – and in fact, it does quite a bit of harm. (more…)



I’m sure it got into the church so it could praise the Lord.

The congregation I serve has always been a little nuts, but this morning it was a step up. A squirrel was loose in the sanctuary.

Last night was… difficult. My daughter, inexplicably, decided to not sleep until past midnight. This is more than a little later than I usually stay up. I’m looking at a pretty hectic week, schedule-wise, so this is not a good way to start my Monday being far more exhausted than normal. As I’m getting my youngest dressed, my wife enters the room. “There’s a squirrel in the church.”

So Monday morning, exhausted, and rather than pursuing devotion or getting to work on my sermon like I usually do, I’m chasing a terrified rodent around the sanctuary, trying to herd it toward the door and out.

And I’m laughing the entire time.

God doesn’t pay attention to our plans. Well, I shouldn’t say that. He does. He laughs at them more often than not. He looks at our plans and reminds us that HE has plans for us, and his plans are way better than ours. And apparently part of the plan today was to spend a good hour chasing a squirrel around the pews.

Yes, eventually a congregation member came over with a net and we were able to corner, catch it, and release it outside.

I returned home and pursued devotion. God had good things to say to me this morning. It’s good; I’ve got an exhausting week ahead of me. Now I’m here, typing. Soon enough I’ll tackle my sermon, teach chapel to our preschool, and plan out a baptism liturgy for a special baptism we’ve got coming up. (Perhaps more on that later…)

But first I got to run around the church, laughing, as we pursue a squirrel.

Hey, God’s got plans, they ain’t mine, but they’re still good. Better, even. Even if those plans include a squirrel.

I WILL admit it was a little distracting, though. 🙂

What’s getting in the way?

John 2:13-22 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.


What’s getting in the way? (more…)

I’m too busy to be happy at Christmas.

2 Sam 7:8-16


8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

“ ‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ ”

How much have you taken on?

  1. What have you accomplished?
  2. What will you accomplish?


Christmas is just one week away! What’s left on your to-do list? Have you gotten all the presents? Every card signed and in the mail? Everyone invited? Are the decorations up? Every light lit and every wreath hung? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? All the stuff we’re supposed to do to get ready for a holiday that proclaims, “Peace on earth!” It’s enough to take the joy out of the season. I’m so busy wondering how I’m going to fit people around the table I can’t fit in time for Christmas wonder! It’s Christmas! But I don’t have the time to be happy. I’m too busy! How much have you taken on? What have you already accomplished? What will you accomplish? (more…)