At Peace

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There are many religions in the world. As a result, people speak about different “faiths.” Used this way, the word faith refers to a set of beliefs that people share. For example, people will say, “I am of the Hindu faith,” or “I am of the Buddhist faith.” Christians will even say, “I am of the Christian faith.” However, according to scripture faith is not a set of shared beliefs. In the biblical economy of language, faith is (and always has been) trust in God’s provision for sin. Specifically, true saving faith trusts that Jesus paid the penalty for sin on the cross at Calvary. It’s for that reason the Bible says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Faith always and only looks Continue reading

Justified

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As our team crossed the finish line, we were all covered from head to foot in thick mud. There stood a preacher, a lawyer, a housewife, and a construction worker – all looking grimy and tired. The Marine Corps mud run taxed our strength and made us all look like we walked out of a pig pen. The only way to get clean was to allow someone to spray us down with a hose. In Romans 3:19-20 Paul observed that the law has only one real function, to expose our sin. As we stand before a holy God our sin is like that mud. It indiscriminately covers all people and makes Continue reading

Insufficient

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There is an old saying, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” If something is good for one person, then it should apply equally to another as well. Today we talk about equality. The word implies impartiality and fairness. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world were things like pride creates a false sense of superiority. One of the worst forms of superiority can come when someone thinks they are better than another because Continue reading

Guilty

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As I drove down the highway, I noticed a red light appeared on my dashboard warning me that my engine was overheating. I only had a short way to go. I thought I could make it to my destination. I ignored the warning sign and within a minute steam was pouring out from under the hood. In just a few short minutes after the light came on, I found myself on the side of the road with a seized engine. The damage was complete. The engine was beyond repair.

As we travel the road of life, God has given us some Continue reading

Compelled

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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

Faith in Community

Faith in Community

Introduction

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

The Spirit of Biblical Leadership

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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

Grace. How good it is.

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“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

Agonizing Joy

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“And what communion has light with darkness? God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (2 Corinthians 6:14, 1 John 1:5).

Light and darkness are incompatible. Where the one is the other must flee. When I was a non-believer I detested the things of God. God was offensive to me. Of course, I couched my contempt for God in a different language. I cloaked my disdain in the language of righteous indignation. I piously proclaimed my own righteousness while heaping disdain on those who might dare to point out my deception. Then one day the light itself came. Uninvited, it entered my sphere of consciousness and began as a dim glow. Even when the light was barely visible it was enough to cleave the darkness that clung to my soul. It was through the light of the gospel that I began to see how the darkness obscured what was real. It not only clung to me, it enveloped me. It had entered my soul and was forming it, shaping it, sculpting it to become something entirely foreign to what God had created it to be. Of course, at the time I did not know that God had created my soul with a purpose – until the light came. Absent this understanding I let the dark shape me, believing that’s what I wanted.

At first it was painful. Upon entering one’s life the light hurts. There is an agonizing power in the light. First, it reveals what really is there. Part of the pain is in seeing this reality. All pretense to self-righteousness evaporates in its presence. It showed me who I really was. It showed me that my identity was far removed from the fantasies the darkness whispered to me in the night. It revealed to me what I desperately did not want to see. Looking into the mirror with the light on is not the same as Continue reading

If?

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“If you are the Son of man, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40).

After all the people experienced and saw Jesus do, they yelled, “If you are the son of God….” Jesus gave sight to the blind. He healed all sicknesses, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. How short the people’s memory was when it came to remembering all he did for them. So they yelled, “Come down from the cross” as though that would be the definitive proof he was the son of God. Raising the dead did not lead them to consider the truth, but coming down from the cross would? This verse demonstrates how blind the human heart is when overcome by sin. The people were blind to Jesus’ true identity, despite his teachings and miracles. They were blind to the true ways of God, not knowing who God really is. They were also blind to the Word of God, not understanding the Scriptures foretold that the Messiah must suffer and die. And they were blind to the love of God, not realizing he was dying for them. No, the Son of Man did not come down from the cross precisely because he was the son of God.