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Striving Side by Side

As Paul speaks of the bold advance of the gospel in this passage, he says something that has brought great conviction in accordance with the sermon and this video from Sunday. In verse 27 he writes, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” (ESV, emphasis mine). 

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Clearly Identifying the Enemy

I realize this is a very thin line. We must not compromise the truth and we must continue to engage and combat sin within our culture; but, we also must find a way to do that without abandoning the call to love our neighbors. If we get this wrong and engage the wrong enemy, the church loses its evangelistic voice and begins to abdicate its responsibility to proclaim truth and the good news of the Gospel within the culture in a compelling way. Outsiders will be viewed as enemies who need to be destroyed or avoided rather than potential worshipers in need of redemption. The church will spend its resources in building its own subculture rather than invading the culture with truth, saturated in the love of Christ.

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The Only Cure for Bullying

Awareness has been raised.  The hashtag campaign is in full force.  Celebrities and stars have enlisted in the fight.  Bullying, in many ways, has become one of the key issues of our day.  And for good reason.  Bullying poses a real threat to young people all across our country.  It has brought about trauma and tragedy.  It is an issue that really must be addressed.  However, can the pandemic of bullying be solved through celebrity shout outs and hashtags?  Although all these things might raise awareness, the ultimate answer to this question is ‘no.’  The primary reason for this is that the anti-bullying message becomes convoluted and confusing when it comes from a culture of bullying.  Consider the following.

The Power of Grace

In his sermon this past Sunday our Pastor, Gerald, spoke of one of the deepest reasons that we fail to share the gospel with others.  He said that perhaps we have just come to believe that some people are simply too far gone.  He reminded us that salvation is a supernatural work of God that can open the eyes of any person, no matter how heinous, apathetic or hateful we believe them to be.  As he proclaimed this truth, a powerful portion of Les Miserable came into my mind.  It includes a soliloquy by Jean Valjean just after he has been shown incredible mercy and grace by a priest who took him in.  I was reminded of just how powerful demonstrations of grace can be in a rebellious life.  As I went back and watched that clip, especially ValJean’s struggle with the grace he had been shown, I was reminded that often God uses such demonstrations of grace through us

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Gospel Transformation & Treasure

One of the most well known declarations of the Apostle Paul can be found in Philippians 1:21.  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Upon reading these words Paul offers his readers an opportunity to see his great internal struggle as he nears the end of his life.  Although the work brings him great joy as he writes to what he considers to be the greatest fruit of his labor for the gospel, his body is worn and broken from the persecution and suffering for its sake.  He knows that both avenues mentioned will bring glory to his Savior, as he has just stated in the previous verse, but if the choice were left to him, he cannot be sure which he would ultimately choose.  The one thing he does, he continues to rest in the sovereignty of God, knowing that each breath provides him more time to complete ‘fruitful labor’ (v. 22). As I

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Looking at Each Other with Gospel Confidence

As in all of his letters, Paul begins his message to the Philippian church by giving thanks for them and offering prayer for them.  Verses 3-5 read, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” I began a new study with our students this past week working through this beautiful letter.  As I read these initial words for what seems to be the thousandth time, I attempted to look past my own familiarity with these words and really seek to feel the emotions Paul expressed in writing to his brothers and sisters.  His love for this church is obvious through his thanksgiving, his prayer, his transparency, and his encouragement. Paul continues in verse 6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it

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What to do about ‘Noah’

I’ve read several reviews of the upcoming movie ‘Noah.’ All I have read confirms exactly what I thought would be the case, that is that the movie does not at all convey the Scriptural story of the historical Noah, the story of the Ark God commanded him to build, or the story of the flood that occurred in his day. This news has not shocked me one bit. I have seen knee-jerk Christian reactions, bashing Hollywood and the film’s writers, producers, directors, actors, etc, angrily calling for Christians to boycott the film. I have also read more level-headed Christian leaders who present the film with the reality that it is, namely a piece of fiction adapted from a story from the Bible. So far, I have not read anyone associated with the film even suggest that the film depicts the Scriptural story of Noah. In fact, I have read where the director has stated that the film is absolutely not

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A Picture of Gospel Faithfulness

My daily reading/journaling included the narrative of Noah and the Flood from Genesis 6-7 recently. As I read through that passage for what has to be the hundredth time, something stuck out to me that I had never really paid attention to before. I noticed that the phrase, …[Noah] did all that God commanded him… is repeated 4 times in those verses. It is stated in verse 22 of chapter 6, as well as in verses 5, 9, and 16 of chapter 7. For the first time I realized how powerful this simple statement reads in the context of Noah. I realized that the faithfulness to which God called Noah is the same faithfulness that he calls his people to today.