I was reading the news this morning and saw where Kanye West and Kim Kardashian came to faith in Christ. Praise the Lord! It was not too long ago where their names were synonymous with all that is fake and superficial in the world. Now, they are children of the King and members of His kingdom. Besides their conversion, something that stood out in the article is that Kanye West is turning from his rap music to gospel music. He has not been saved a year and he has already produced an album praising Jesus. The title of the album is “Jesus is King.” When he announced the record he said, Continue reading
God created people for worship. Worship was built into our DNA. When we are saved by Christ that purpose is restored. In the heart of every saved person should be an intense desire to want to worship. As such, the church is first and foremost a worshiping community. Every church should have a vibrant worship that defines who it is. That vibrancy is a result of individual believers whose heart’s desire is to come together as a body to lift up the name of Christ. I think that a good metric of health for any church beings with its worship. Everything else the church does flows from that point. It’s the epicenter of the church’s life and it is the best indicator of church health.
However, when the worship of a church begins to fade, then soon will every other ministry Continue reading
What is education and what is its end goal? Throughout the centuries different cultures gave different answers. However, there is one culture that has been the repository of divine revelation. The Hebrew people were chosen by God and given the oracles of God that were meant to be a light to all nations (Gen. 12:1-3; Isa. 49:6). Unfortunately, the light God gave through his Word has not been embraced as God intended – even to this day God’s people struggle to teach their children in a way that results in a life-long commitment to God. The result is that people sit in darkness (Isa. 9:2). For that darkness to be dispelled a people must come to know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Ultimately, the light of God came to full expression in Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ – the promised Messiah. However, early in their history God revealed how a people (and individuals) come to know him. God gave a command, known as the Shema, that became central to the Hebrew identity. This paper will argue that Continue reading
Christmas morning. What a glorious day. Not literally, its cloudy and overcast. But spiritually it’s a day of rejoicing. Before the first Christmas the world was without hope. Sin reigned unchecked in the lives of all people, enslaving them into perpetual sorrow and eternal ruin. Death loomed over mankind without mercy, taking whom he willed when he willed. Before Christmas the grave opened its jaws with a fervent greed, believing that every soul consumed was forever lost. Darkness and evil rode upon the clouds causing the winds of despair to prevail in the hearts of men.
But then it happened. Continue reading
Several years ago, there was a show on the TLC channel that followed the life of, what on the surface, seemed to be two ordinary parents. If you met them for the first time you would see a couple in their forties who had a toddler for a child. Nothing looked out of place. However, upon closer inspection what was seen was two very frustrated parents who have been parents of a toddler for eighteen years. Their daughter had a very rare condition where her physical development simply stopped at eighteen months old. Even though she was eighteen, she looked like, acted like, and thought like a child of one-year and six months old. There was no hope that their daughter would ever grow up.
There are many churches who have people that look perfectly normal. However, Continue reading
Everything rises or falls on leadership, so the old adage goes. But, unlike the world, where leadership is grounded on things like confidence in self, emotional intelligence, and excellent communication skills, biblical leadership is grounded in one’s ability to die to self. The fundamental difference between the world’s view of leadership and the biblical model of leadership is best seen in the contrast between the leaders of the world and Christ. Unexpectedly, Christ’s greatest act of leadership was seen when he willingly died on a cross for those who would follow him. Many have died for the leaders of the world and for their vision of life; but Christ came to die so he could, in fact, deliver an abundant life – and only his vision of life will become an eternal reality.
However, this act of sacrifice did not begin at the cross, but began much earlier when, as the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ disrobed himself of his glory in heaven and took on human flesh to become a man. Over the centuries there has been no small amount of ink spilled in an attempt to explain this divine act. Today scholars discuss the Kenotic Theory of Christ. Kenosis is a Greek word that means “an emptying.” The word comes from the book of Philippians, 2:7. The text reads,
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:5-7 ESV).
It is the view of this author that for biblical leadership to be authentic, those who would aspire to positions of leadership in the church must reflect this act of self-emptying. Specifically, the nature of God expressed in Christ reveals that for leadership to effectuate the Kingdom of God it must necessarily be self-emptying, and therefore self-sacrificing. Therefore, denial of self as expressed through kenosis is not an optional characteristic of biblical leadership. It is its foundational element; without which biblical leadership, Continue reading
I had an eye-opening experience last week. I was driving to Shaw AFB where I serve. The weather turned bad and the rain came down in sheets. As I approached the base there was flooding on the roads and surrounding areas. When I finally arrived at the front the gate, I handed my ID card to the MP and said, “I heard there was an ark here.” He looked up from my ID, squinted his eyes and shook his head indicating he didn’t understand the reference. So, I said, “Noah’s ark?” He looked at me with the same lack of recognition. I finally said, “Flood, big boat, saved people?” There were cars behind me. The MP still didn’t understand the reference. He shook his head and said with a nervous laugh, “I don’t know.” He handed back my ID, saluted, and said “Have a good night sir” as he looked to the car behind me.
As I made my way to lodging I was a bit stunned. This was a young man in his early twenties and had no clue about Noah’s Ark. Given the weather I expected a short laugh at a corny joke. Instead I got an embarrassed “I haven’t a clue about what you’re talking about.”
I have been a pastor for almost seventeen years. It is so easy to become insulated from the outside world. And to remind me of that reality Continue reading
“Did you really fast for me?” (Zechariah 7:5).
In the book of Zachariah, there is a tragic event that takes place. Sometime after the captives have returned home from their seventy-year exile, a group of men inquire of the priests and ask this question: “Should we mourn and fast in the fifth month as we have done these many years?” Apparently, the people fasted and prayed during this period while they were exiled in Babylon. On the surface both the fasting and the question seem legit. After all, they were in exile being punished for their sin. Responding with prayer and fasting seems the appropriate thing to do.
However, God’s response to the question reveals a startling fact of the human heart (both theirs and ours). God responds to the question with these penetrating words, Continue reading
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5).
There are many things that can be said about these verses, but I want to point out one area that we sometimes overlook. These verses, in a roundabout way, speak to the reality of God’s grace sinners receive when they come to Christ. We are not to stand in judgment of others lest we forget that we too are sinners who are guilty of sin. To not judge others does not mean we suspend our powers of spiritual discernment or ignore sin, but it does mean we recognize we are no better than others. Only a hypocrite can pass judgment on another without Continue reading
“They turn, but not to what is above” (Hosea 7:16).
Trying times came upon the children of Israel. They were threatened by foreign nations. They were facing a very real existential crisis. But, they did not know that turning away from God led to their problems – and the further they walked away from the Lord, the greater their problems became. Yet, when all seemed lost, they refused to come back to God. They refused to call upon Him. Instead they turned to false god’s. They turned to Ba’al, Marduk, Molech, and Ashtoreth, amongst others. They turned everywhere but to the one true God who was calling to them (Hosea 7:7, 10, 14). As they called to Ba’al they cut and mutilated themselves. As they called to Molech, they sacrificed their children. But, despite the intensity of their actions and the sincerity of their misguided beliefs, there would be no answer. They called, but silence is all they received. Yet, during all this, God was there watching them; and through His prophets calling them. The message was simple, “Seek me with all your hearts, and you will be found by me” (Jeremiah 29:12-13). God longed to save them, but they would not “cry to Him from their hearts.” Even in all their sin He was ready to save and protect them. How much sorrow do people bring upon themselves because they don’t “turn to what is above?” God never turns from people. People turn from God. God loves with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and will gladly receive anyone unto Himself. There is no sin that can carry one too far away from His reach. No one is too far gone for the Lord’s help. He comes – He always comes – to those who look to Him and cry out to Him from their heart. When we turn to Him, even in the depths of our sin, we will be met with compassion, kindness, love, and hope. All we have to do is, “Look to what is above.” When we do, we will discover that God is already looking at us.