A praise sandwich: The most fundamental lesson in the Lord’s Prayer

“Our Father, who art in Heaven….” (Matthew 6:9)

The Lord’s Prayer is a praise sandwich. Okay, maybe a “praise parenthesis.” Envelope? (I’m searching for the best metaphor. Anyone got a good one?)

This prayer begins and ends with praise. In between are the personal requests we make for ourselves.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with a concern for Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, and Thy Will.

It ends with Thy Kingdom, Thy Power, and Thy Glory.

In between, we have Give us, Forgive us, Lead us, and Deliver us.

What could be simpler?

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Man’s healing leads to start of alternative funeral home

Nice mention in the Baton Rouge Advocate this week:

“When the Lord says to love your enemies, he’s not commanding you to feel anything,” McKeever said. “He’s not asking you to feel all gooey and affectionate toward them. He’s commanding you to do loving actions toward them.”

via Man’s healing leads to start of alternative funeral home | People | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, LA.

Broken Pastor, Broken Church

(This is our account of a difficult three years in our lives–‘ours’ referring to my wife and me–when we pastored a divided church in North Carolina. The article ran in the Winter 2001 issue of “Leadership,” a publication of Christianity Today.  At the conclusion, we have a few postscripts which may be of interest to some.)

How could I lead a congregation that was as hurt as I was?

My calendar for the summer and beyond was blank. I usually planned my preaching schedule for a full year, but beyond the second Sunday in June–nothing. I had no ideas. I sensed no leading from the Spirit. But it was only January, so I decided to try again in a couple of months. Again, nothing. By then, I suspected the Lord was up to something.

A member of my church had told me the year before, “Don’t die in this town.” I knew what she meant. She didn’t envision Columbus as the peak of my ministry. Columbus was a county-seat town with three universities nearby, and, for Mississippi, cosmopolitan. I felt Columbus, First Baptist, and I were a good match. The church grew. We were comfortable together. My family was settled. Our sons and daughter had completed most of their schooling, and after twelve years, they called Columbus home. My wife, Margaret, and I had weathered a few squalls, but life was good–a little quiet, perhaps even stagnant, but good.

And suddenly I could hear the clock ticking. Did God have something more for me?

First Baptist Church of Charlotte, North Carolina, called in March. I ended my ministry at Columbus the second Sunday of June and began in Charlotte one month later.

After I’d been in Charlotte about a month, the man who chaired their search committee phoned. “I have some people I want you to talk with,” he told me. He picked me up and drove me to the impressive home of one of our members. In the living room were a dozen men, all leaders in the church and in the city. Another man appeared in charge.

“We want to offer you some guidance in pastoring the church,” he said. “There are several issues we feel are important, and we want you to know where we stand.” He outlined their position on the battle between conservatives and moderates for control of our denomination and on the role of women in the church. He wanted women elected as deacons, one item in a full slate of changes he wanted made at the church.

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Global Maritime Ministries plan – pay off loan in a year | The Baptist Message Online

Via The Baptist Message Online.

NEW ORLEANS – It’s a bold move, but if anyone can pull it off, Joe McKeever can.

Paying off its $290,000 loan in one year at Global Maritime Ministries, Southern Baptists’ port ministry in Southeast Louisiana, is a strategic plan that will launch new avenues of ministry, leaders say.

Philip Vandercook, executive director, said freeing up the $3,000-a-month mortgage payment will provide for more personnel, the center’s greatest need. Up to three new chaplains could be hired with the redirected funds.

Negotiating The Red Zone: Taking Your Sermon To A Successful Conclusion

If I could say one thing to young preachers about making their sermons effective, this would be it.

A sermon which lays its points before the people without ever tying them up again at the end fails its audience in a lot of ways. Chiefly, it never lets the congregation see the bigger picture, how the message fits into the larger framework of God’s plan for the world, the Kingdom, and themselves.

With Kessler’s suggestions as our guide, I want to propose three approaches for preachers in crafting more effective closings for sermons.

via Negotiating The Red Zone: Taking Your Sermon To A Successful Conclusion | Preaching.com.