Following Christ & the Nature of True Freedom

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:31-32, 36 Our pastor preached from this section from John 8 (vs. 31-38) this morning as we continued our study through this rich Gospel. In this passage, the Jews to whom Jesus spoke struggled to understand the freedom that he brought. As Gerald illustrated the essence of what it means to know and experience true freedom in Christ so well, two prevailing thoughts seemed to control my mind.

Are we teaching our children grace or moralism at Christmas time?

There may be no greater time for parents to both teach and illustrate grace to their children than at Christmas time. Grace is the very reason for the holiday in the first place. We set aside a special time each year to celebrate the coming of Jesus as a baby in a manger. John writes that, “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Even this is an understatement of the amount of grace given through the arrival and subsequent work of Jesus in his incarnation. Because of its sin, humanity finds itself at enmity with God and rightfully under his judgment and wrath. But this baby born 2,000 years ago came on a rescue mission so that this position could change. Christmas serves as a reminder of the greatest gift ever given to the most undeserving of recipients. It recalls the commencement of the way that God would demonstrate his love for us, in that

read more Are we teaching our children grace or moralism at Christmas time?

The Wages of Sin is Death

What is sin?  What an incredibly important question that is!  It is a deceptive question, though, because the answer seems so easy.  However, I am afraid that too many people have a false understanding of the true answer.  In fact, I think we all too often get the answer backwards, and that has everything to do with getting the gospel right. Most of the time when I ask that question to others, I usually get an answer that includes specific actions, words or thoughts that people do.  Now, yes, the actions we do, the words we speak, and the thoughts we have can be sinful, and often are; but, we must understand that this is not the true essence of sin.  Those things are simply the manifestation of sin.  Consider this very important distinction… We are not sinful because of the sinful things we do.  We do the sinful things we do because we are sinful. That seems like a

read more The Wages of Sin is Death

The New Religion: Self-Actualization

All people are desperate for a savior.  I know this because I see the ebb and flow of our culture.  As it continues to conjure up new ones, people run to them in droves.  It never ceases to amaze me how the masses can be manipulated and wooed by such insane people and notions.  America has a surging new religious movement.  It’s called self-actualization.  I say ‘new’ because of the incredible emphasis on this idea in the present day, but, of course, there is nothing new under the sun.  Every ‘new’ cultural religious movement is just warmed-over idolatry, and, like this one, usually includes self-idolatry at its core. Within this new religion two specific ‘denominations’ can be identified, of course there are probably many others, but these two are definitely the most prominent.  Each employs a plethora of ‘prophets,’ but have one primary figure leading the charge.  The two are extremely diverse, but the heart of each finds its root

read more The New Religion: Self-Actualization

No Little Disturbance

As I have thought about and prayed for so many brothers and sisters around the world who face intense persecution, my mind has brought me back to a verse in Acts that I love. About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. (Acts 19:23) A couple of years ago, I had the incredible opportunity to visit the ancient city of Ephesus while in Turkey. I remember being in awe as I walked down the street toward the familiar ruins of the ancient library. On the approach to that magnificent structure, though, I became aware of what used to be small temples where only fragments of statues of ‘gods’ remain. I vividly remember one, in particular. I have to admit, I wished all along that journey that I had taken time to research the meaning of the ruins before this walk, but I knew right away that this one particular statue had to be a tribute to a

read more No Little Disturbance

Gospel Transformation: Our Work

*This current series of posts seeks to answer the question, “What should gospel transformation actually look like in our fallen culture?” Because of the internal transformation of the Spirit that takes place in the life of the believer, Christians should be the very best workers any company in the world could possibly have. Further, Christians should be the most sought after bosses for which to work. Sin has caused us to have a distorted view of work. Work is not a curse; sin is. In Genesis 3:17-18, God pronounces his curse to Adam as a result of his sin. He indicates that his work will be difficult. “Cursed is the ground because of you,” God says; but, this does not mean that work, itself, is a product of the curse. It simply means that because man’s relationship with the creation has been broken due to the entrance of sin and its consequences, work will be difficult and laborious. If you

read more Gospel Transformation: Our Work

Critiquing the Culture: Gospel or Preferences?

In Dr. Bruce Ashford’s excellent book, The Theology of Mission, he writes, “We must remember that the gospel stands in judgment of all cultures, calling them to conform themselves to the image of Christ.” He goes on to say that, “The gospel does not condemn all of a culture, but is always and at the same time both affirming and rejoicing.” If this is true of the gospel’s interaction with culture, and I believe it is, then it stands to reason that this should also be the individual believer’s interaction with culture, as well. As I have thought through these words I have thought about how I critique the culture myself. Further, I have considered how I have witnessed believers in my context critique the culture. I am afraid that, by and large, believers critique the culture based on their own preferences much more often than allowing the gospel to offer the critique.

Gospel Transformation: Genuine Friendship

*This current series of posts seeks to answer the question, “What should gospel transformation actually look like in our fallen culture?” Because of the internal transformation of the Spirit that takes place in the life of the believer, Christians should be the very best friends anyone in the world could possibly have. This thought is pretty simply, really. One of the terrible side-effects of sin is that it naturally divides. Sin is a relationship breaker. Our sinful hearts cause us to be self-centered and focus on our own happiness, even to the exclusion of others. Sin causes us to look at others as useful to that end. When they are making us happy, they are welcome to remain in our lives. When they serve as a hindrance to our happiness, we seek to remove them. Sin causes us to survey others as either useful or a threat to that happiness. We judge ourselves according to each other and often treat

read more Gospel Transformation: Genuine Friendship

Called to be ‘Positive & Encouraging’ or ‘Salt & Light’?

Let me start by giving a disclaimer. I listen to K-Love from time to time. I love much of the music on K-Love. I love a lot of Christian music. I do have some critique towards some of Christian music (for example, see my last post!), but by-and-large, when I listen to music I listen mostly to Christian music. Also, I am using “K-Love” when really these issues deal with other Christian radio outlets I have encountered, too; but, as K-Love continues to spread its influence all across the country, I believe it best represents that to which I am speaking. Now that that has been cleared up, let me get to the heart of the issue here. I believe that the picture of Christianity that K-Love paints for the listening world is one that is less than biblical and potentially dangerous. I take issue with it because it is not real. It is not true…at least not for most

read more Called to be ‘Positive & Encouraging’ or ‘Salt & Light’?

Someone worth Dying for?

Insecurity can be a dangerous thing for a believer. Insecurity combined with a lack of Scriptural knowledge and understanding can lead to a search for security from emotionalism rather than biblical truth. I have found that some popular Christian music has sought to stroke that need for emotional security through its lyrics, but fall desperately short of biblical doctrine. One such song that has become popular lately is called Someone Worth Dying For, by Mikeschair. No doubt that the song offers a wonderfully fulfilling thought that God sees us as someone worth sending Jesus to die for; but, emotional fulfillment is not the goal. Biblical truth is the goal. Not only are these lyrics just blatantly wrong, the actual message of the Bible concerning our identity offers all the security and sufficiency we should ever need concerning who we are as God’s children.