Don’t Bother Me; I’m Thinking

Thinking“A Christmas Story” is a holiday favorite around our house. Through the years, we’ve memorized various scenes and enjoyed quoting lines before they say them in the movie. One of my favorite lines from the movie comes when Ralphie was standing in line to see Santa Claus and the “Wicked Witch of the West” got down in his face and started talking to him.  Ralphie, trying to concentrate on what he was about to say to Santa Claus, turned to the witch and said, “Don’t bother me, I’m…I’m thinking.”

That scene reminds me of how preachers sometimes feel when people approach them with various matters just before they are to preach a sermon. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying preachers are “prima donnas” and should be treated as such.  Nor am I saying we should be as rude as Ralphie was, but what I am saying is that there are appropriate and inappropriate times to discuss certain matters with your preacher.  These three tips may be helpful.

  1. Don’t ask the preacher to remember something just before he gets up to preach.  At this time, his mind is focused on preaching and presenting the lesson he has prepared.  He’s trying to keep his points, sub-points, illustrations, and Scripture references all in his mind.  Chances are slim if he will remember what you asked him to remember by the time he finishes his sermon. Also, keep in mind that not only might you ask him to remember something, so might 10 or 15 other people.  If you want him to remember something, and need to tell him before he gets up to preach, take the time to write it down and let him put it in his Bible for later reference.  This can greatly reduce your frustration with your preacher’s poor memory.
  2. Don’t get confrontational with the preacher before he gets up to preach. There’s a time and a place for everything (Ecc. 3:1-8).  But distracting a preacher from his focus just before he speaks is not productive and can adversely impact the delivery of a message that has the potential to save a person’s soul.  Through the years, I’ve had a few times in which a person attempted to “pick a fight” (my words) with me just moments before I got up to preach.  I know from experience how distracting that can be.  If you have issues to resolve with your preacher, work at resolving those issues on some other day of the week prior to Sunday, or after he is finished preaching on Sunday.
  3. Don’t bring peripheral problems to the preacher just before he gets up to preach.  These distractions can cause him to lose his focus.  A leaking faucet, a cracked mirror in the restroom, or the setting on the thermostat may be better handled by someone else at this particular time.  Less than a month after my dad passed away, I was asked to fill in for him and preach a sermon he was scheduled to preach on a lectureship. I can’t explain to you the mental energy and focus it required to get through this lesson and to say the things I wanted to say. However, quite literally seconds before I got up to preach, someone brought some problems to my attention that were frustrating in nature and totally broke my focus.  I was then emotionally unable to say many of things that I had wanted to say and had prepared myself to say.

I’ve lived long enough to know that there’s a time for me to be in the kitchen and that time is not when my wife is trying to prepare a meal.  Probably all of us husbands can understand exactly what I mean, and probably all of our wives agree with my wife’s feelings on the matter.  All I’m trying to say in this article is that if cooking a meal for our bodies demands uninterrupted focus, then so might the preparation and delivery of a meal for our souls.

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Wounded But Not Defeated

191979-1912-theodore-roosevelt-3c174Surely all of us know who Teddy Roosevelt was. While we may know that Roosevelt served as the 26th President of the United States, I dare say that few people know of the following, almost unbelievable event that occurred while he was campaigning for his third term as President.

On October 14, 1912, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Teddy Roosevelt left his hotel room to make a speech to his supporters.  As he headed to his car, a man, who was later declared insane, pointed a gun at Roosevelt’s heart and fired.  The bullet hit Roosevelt in the chest and lodged near a rib.  However, the bullet stopped short of his heart.  Fortunately for Roosevelt, he had folded his fifty-page speech and placed it in his coat pocket.  The bullet was slowed down by his heavy overcoat, 100 pages of paper, and his eye-glass case.  Roosevelt’s handlers insisted that he immediately go to the hospital for treatment.  However, Roosevelt had other ideas.  He coughed a few times and spit on the ground to see if he saw any blood.  Seeing none, he concluded that the bullet had not penetrated his lungs, so he went on to deliver his speech.  But also, not only did he proceed with his speech with a bullet in his chest, he spoke for 90 minutes!  (Roosevelt really was a “bull moose!”)  Though wounded, he was not defeated!

Speech-with-bullet-holeIn 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul said, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”  Just like Roosevelt, Paul too, was wounded, but he was not about to let those wounds stop him.

Then there’s your story.  If you’ve lived long enough, you too have suffered wounds.  And if you have been wounded, you have a decision to make.  Are you going to quit because of your wounds, or are you going to press on?

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Year In Review

14299214_s Seven years ago, I decided to create a website/blog, separate from the website of the local church where I worked. I thought by doing this, I could write articles that were sometimes more personal, and even whimsical if I wanted to do so. Therefore, in 2008 I launched This site was to be a place where I could archive sermon outlines, MercEmail articles, audio sermons, and write blog articles on a wide range of topics.

While some websites reach millions of people every day, I’ve been able to reach over 1 million people in the past seven years! This medium has provided me the opportunity to reach far more people, and at very little cost, than would have ever been possible without it.  As 2014 comes to a close, I wanted to share a few 2014 facts and stats from

I’m looking forward to 2015.  Thanks for visiting the site in the past and please help me reach even more people in 2015.


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A Review: “Exodus: Gods & Kings”

exodusToday, I saw the most recent movie depicting the Biblical account of the Exodus.  The best and most concise summary I could give is that the movie truly was an “Exodus,” but it was an “exodus” from God’s word.

I never cease to be amazed at the liberties taken with reference to the Bible.  No other piece of literature would be treated in the same way.  The changes are needless, and offensive to the very people for which the movie is made.

This movie is no exception.  I’ll share just a few of the deviations from the Biblical text to give you a sampling of how loosely the movie is based on the Bible.

  1. In the movie, no one spoke to Moses out of a burning bush. Instead, a little boy representing God or a messenger from God stood near the burning bush and spoke to Moses.
  2. In the movie, Moses did not kill an Egyptian whom he saw beating an Israelite slave.  Instead, Moses killed an Egyptian who questioned him while walking through the town one evening.
  3. In the movie, instead of crossing the Red Sea on dry ground as the Bible teaches, Moses led the Israelites through waist-deep water at times, and at other times through muck and mud.
  4. In the movie, not only did the wall of water fall on the Egyptians, drowning them, but it also fell on Moses, but he was able to swim to shore.
  5. The Bible records that God wrote the Ten Commandments with his “finger.” but the movie showed Moses chiseling out the Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone.

These are just some of the unnecessary changes to the biblical account, so once again, I’m left asking the question, “Why?”  Why change the biblical, historical record?  Would anyone make a movie about Pearl Harbor and have the Japanese bombs miss the U.S.S. Arizona?  Would anyone make a movie about Abraham Lincoln but instead of being shot, they have Lincoln being poisoned?  Such trifling would be unacceptable.  Even if one did not see the Bible as historical, but merely a classic piece of literature, would they treat other great pieces of literature like they do the Bible?  Would anyone dare tamper with Shakespeare by moving Romeo and Juliet’s balcony scene to a café instead?  Would anyone edit Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” in such a way as to have the old man hunting a giant squid? Of course not.

But when it comes to the Bible, it just doesn’t seem to have any respect of movie makers as an historical record or as a classic piece of literature. So for me, rather than being captivated with a reenactment of an amazing working of God, I feel insulted by the lack of respect the movie demonstrates for the word of God.

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Worship Wars

Worship Wars (Steve Higginbotham) from Karns Church of Christ on Vimeo.

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