Freedom. It’s a word we all love. More than that, it is an experience we both enjoy and expect in our culture. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world is free. For some, freedom is a distant dream. They long for the day when they can be free. For Christians, however, freedom is a reality that defines our faith. The Bible says that “It is for freedom that that Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1, NIV). Followers of Christ are not bound to God by religious tradition or Continue reading
Several years ago, my wife and I had a house build, but only the downstairs. I took the next year-in-a half to finish the upstairs. As I spent my nights and weekends working, there were times when my son, who was only three, would come by my side and mimic what I was doing. I have a fond memory of him picking up his little plastic hammer and trying to nail a 2×4. As we come to our text (Romans 13:1-14) Paul is urging the church to become Continue reading
Not long ago I watched a documentary on the transformation that takes place inside a cocoon. With less than scientific language, let me explain it: a caterpillar is enveloped by a cocoon. While in that state the caterpillar literally dissolves into a pile of goo, then miraculously is rebuilt into a lifeform utterly different from what it was. It goes in as an ugly little worm and comes out a beautiful flying butterfly. The scientist’s explanation was longer, but not clearer. Quite simply, Continue reading
Adoption is something that is common. Families adopt children every day. What is unique is that these families have a bond of love as strong as families who have not adopted children. God’s love is like that. It is strong enough to love adopted children as much as natural children.
In our text (Romans 11:17-32), Paul is addressing Continue reading
There is nothing like knowing you have a home. Many are familiar with the Christmas song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” I was a young soldier in the army as Desert Storm began in 1991. As the prospect of war became real, and as our training began to reveal the dangers we would be exposed to, thoughts of home and knowing that I had a place to go back to one day, gave me both courage and hope. No matter where you are or what you are going through, knowing you have a home waiting for you Continue reading
“It’s just too good to be true. And besides, I was always told that if something is too good to be true, then it must not be true.” I understand. We live in a world filled with uncertainty and hopelessness. Indeed, as I write this, the COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc around the world. Many are filled with fear. Just yesterday (March 17) I made the painful decision to cancel all church activities and services in light of the virus. In fact, in the minds of many, the only thing certain in this life is death and taxes. Our current circumstances do not offer encouragement.
But … Continue reading
“So, I’m saved. Now what? I was told that if I confess my sin and call on Jesus I am saved by faith. Further, I was told that because of what Jesus did on the cross I am justified before God, have peace with God, and am declared righteous. But I don’t feel righteous. I still struggle with sinful thoughts and impulses. I feel old urges coming to the surface. Preacher, was I Continue reading
As I was reaching for the remote to turn off the TV, a commercial from a famed chef caught my eye. He was holding up a cooking utensil and began telling how it changed his life. A cooking utensil changed his life? I chuckled as I turned the TV off. I wondered how many sales that would generate.
As I walked upstairs, I thought about something that changed my life. The gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ came into my life in August of 1994 and I have never been the same. Our lesson comes from Romans 1:1-17, and the apostle Paul is introducing himself to the church at Rome. What immediately stands out is that Paul had a great desire Continue reading
Do you think you have a kingdom heart? When Jesus began preaching, he said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Shortly before Jesus went to the cross, he said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Speaking to the Colossian church, the apostle Paul wrote, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). And to church at Ephesus Paul wrote, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
There are three important things to notice about those verses. First, the gospel is directly connected to 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