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Posts by Jay Lickey

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How A Soul Is Changed Forever

What you are about to read below is a crown jewel from what is already considered a treasure of literature. It is a short fictional discussion that reaches to the heart of true change. While individual experiences will vary, the truths that shape those experiences are told here in one of the most compelling, hope-giving, soul-freeing ways ever penned. What, then, are ...

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When Church is Boring: 3 Problems and 2 Solutions

When Church is Boring: 3 Problems and 2 Solutions There no getting around the fact. Church can be boring. Why is this? It cannot be because God is boring. There is nothing boring in God. He is the fountainhead of every pleasure. He is the ultimate story-maker who amazes us with the unexpected all the time. Every good thing comes down from the Father of lights. So where...

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Dreams From God Are Cool, But Not What You Really Want

One of the primary drivers behind the charismatic movement is the desire for an experience with God. While we should always pray for and seek God's power in our midst, we have to be careful what we mean when we speak of these things. Do we mean watching God change lives, illuminate his Word, meet needs, and providentially orchestrate details? Or do we mean visions, dre...

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Love is more than a Feeling, but It is not Less

Don't you get tired of the swinging pendulum? It seems that everywhere you turn you find some out-in-left-field teaching, and before you know it there is a reactionary swing to the other side that creates its own rat's nest of problems. This very thing has happened with the concept of love. We shouldn't be surprised. Love is an essential biblical teaching, a key att...

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7 Reasons for Unanswered Prayer

Prayer can be powerful. As Spurgeon said, it can be "the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence." But prayer can also be impotent and not get past your ceiling! We need to know the difference between the two because there will be times when we have to wait. In that waiting time, how do you we know if we are actually waiting for God's working to become manifes...

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Adversity or Prosperity: Both are Beside the Point.

Are you concerned you will turn away from the Lord in tragedy but confident you will grow if you have all your needs met? Do you fear adversity and hope for security? This kind of thinking is prevalent in many people, and is perpetuated by governments, businesses, and even churches. This thinking is flawed at the core, but since it is wrapped in logic it is easy to s...

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Better To Be Poor

The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel is a well-established and growing segment of the church worldwide. Though there are countless reasons why the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel is a prostitution of the truth, it just keeps raking in the followers. Why is this? Because there are two powerful forces at work: people are incurably religious and incurably self-ce...

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Better To Be Poor

The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel is a well-established and growing segment of the church worldwide. Though there are countless reasons why the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel is a prostitution of the truth, it just keeps raking in the followers. Why is this? Because there are two powerful forces at work: people are incurably religious and incurably sel...

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A Person, Not a Program

I once heard a story of an Asian Christian who was getting a tour of all the grand churches and ministries in a particular part of America. After seeing it all he was asked what he thought. He said, "It is truly amazing what you have been able to do without God." It is a stinging rebuke that touches on a reality that is a constant problem in American Christianity....

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Can I Kill This? Using the S.L.E.D. Argument

Can I kill this? How do you answer such a question? Scott Klusendorf, a wonderfully skilled anti-abortion apologist, rightly points out that you have to ask another question. That question is: What is it you want to kill? A roach: Yes, kill it now. A wild Turkey: Yes, but only during turkey season. A Bald Eagle: No, it is legally protected. A human baby: ????????...

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Less is More: Challenges to LGBT+ Embrace

To the dismay of the LGBT community, keyboards only have 26 letters. But if divine authority won't hold you back, neither will a 26 letter keyboard. The solution is the + key. The + key is the ticket to so-called personal fulfillment and you being you. The problem with this is that chaos always comes back on itself. Contradictions cut the knees out from an argumen...

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The Subtle Undermining of the Sufficiency of Scripture

There is always a war waging over the Bible. It will be different at different times, but it will be waging. In the last few generations we have seen battles over the full inspiration of Scripture and postmodern approaches to hermeneutics (what it means to me). One of the latest battles over the Bible has to do with sufficiency. People will say that the Scripture is ...

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God’s Love is Not Sentimental

God's love is one of the most common themes in many churches. Nothing wrong with that. It is clearly a major theme in Scripture. But just because we have lined up with Scripture's emphasis on God's love, doesn't mean we are lining up with Scripture's description of God's love. People make God's love into a divine version of whatever the culture is peddling; something...

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Selfishness or Self-interest?

Jeremiah tells us that the fallen human heart is deceitful above all else (17:9). This is not so much a statement about deceptions employed to trick someone else, but the deceptions embraced to trick one's own self. If you are going to pursue sin you have to convince yourself it really is a good move. Watching someone try to justify his sin is a painfully sad thing to ...

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You Can’t Scare People Out of Hell and into Heaven

Jesus ended his Olivet Discourse with the sobering reality of eternal punishment and eternal life. Hell is frightening, unimaginable, andfrequent. At least it is relatively frequent in the gospels. Jesus spoke more about Hell than anyone else. If you are wanting to be like Christ and speak like Christ, then Hell will be something you talk about. But how do you talk ab...

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You Have Never Disappointed God

When it comes to relational failures, being disappointed is bad but being a disappointment is even worse. Failing to come through when people are counting on you is one of the deepest kinds of shame a person can feel. Our very worth is brought into question because now people will regard us as having some degree of evil or incompetence. This can result in a lingering...

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Sin in a Holy God’s Presence

One of the constant proofs that we are more sinful than we dare dream is that we don't ask the questions that matter. People ask, "Why isn't God blessing me" when they should be asking "why isn't God destroying me?" People ask, "Where is God in this trial" when they should be asking "Why would God be in this trial." Most of the time we are comfortable with a sin-cursed w...

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A Memorable Way to Deal with the Fire of Pornography

Pornography is an epidemic and we had better get really good at addressing it and helping people kill this dragon. To that end I want to give you what I think is a tremendous way to think about a framework of help. This memorable method will help you tackle the problem immediately. This memory device revolves around fire. Let me explain. The Three Parts of Fire and ...

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How Not to Supercharge your Spiritual Growth

If you put a gun to my head, you have just given me a lot of motivation to do what you say. This is basically the idea in a legalistic community. The logic is all there. Motivation springs forth from what you really love. If you can put what is beloved in jeopardy, then you have touched the source of motivation. If you can do it ultimately, then you have found the ulti...

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The “One Another” Passages And Discipleship

It is critical that you do love right. Love for neighbor, as you know, is the second greatest commandment. The thrust of this article is that love is rarely done better or more consistently than when it is being given in a discipleship context. Marriage is the obvious exception to this. But marriage is different because it has a purpose that no other relationship can hav...

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Who are these Elect people in the Tribulation?

A great question was laid before me after my latest sermon from Matthew 24. The question had to do with verse 22. Matthew 24:22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. The question went something like this, "Verse 22 says that the elect people of God will be in the Tribulation. ...

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Respect is the First Step of Love

Do you want to improve your marriage? How about your relationship with parents, children, co-workers and neighbors? Communication is not the key. I repeat; communication is not the key. You know this. You are probably communicating all the time with anger, complaints and a host of icy body language. The issue most certainly isn't communication alone, it is the kind of ...

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Much Prayer, Much Power

You may not know it but there is power coursing around you this very moment. It is invisible but it is as real as the air you're breathing. What that power is doing none of us know exactly, but it is doing something. What power is this you ask? Electrical power? Gravitational power? No. It is something far more impactful and penetrating. It reaches through the physical...

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Sin Will Find You Out

Safety is valuable because life is valuable. We all value our lives and therefore we try to insulate ourselves from danger. The only problem is that safety is an illusion. There is no fortress where pain and death cannot crawl through the cracks. As Proverbs 30:28 says "A lizard you may grasp with the hands, yet it is in King's palaces." Pain and death are like that li...

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Sifting Out Feeling and Believing

It is time to send our language through the sifter on a particular issue. Feelings are one thing, and beliefs are another thing. They are not the same thing. But for too long we have used them interchangeably and muddied the water of what it is to walk by faith. Sifting Belief from Feeling Belief is not something you feel. Belief is embracing someone's word about reali...

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Why Two Christians Will Never Get Divorced In A Healthy Church

I mentioned something about divorce on Sunday that I wanted to develop a little further. Divorce is a disasteralwaysand on many different levels. It is never good. It may be a lesser bad, but it is never good. It is no wonder God hates divorce. The true wonder is how God's church could ever slide so far from the character of God as to just offer up a shrug when divorc...

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Culture, Worship, and my Trip to Haiti

Many of you came to the presentation I gave Sunday night about my trip to Haiti. I hope you were encouraged by the ministry happening in Haiti and how Open Door Fellowship got to be a small part of that. But I am sure there were many questions raised about the nature of church life at Bethsaida Evangelical church in Haiti in comparison with our own church life. I am sur...

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Climbing a Rope of Sand

This question, "Where is God's justice?" is a frequent go-to question for the village atheist or the run-of-the-mill, God-ignoring neighbor. It is one version of asking about the problem of evil. It is also asked like this, "If God is so good and so powerful, why isn't he dealing with all the evil in the world?" There are plenty of ways to answer to this question, but...

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Saving Believers Especially

1 Timothy 4:10 says something we don't expect. "God is the savior of all men." All of them. That is a big statement, and one not readily accepted. In a world so full of suffering, most people shake their fist at God because they know he could do something yet he seems unconcerned. But in actuality he has done something. He has kept them out of hell. The one thing they de...

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The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness

Book Review: The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness I recently read the short and easy-to-read book The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness by Timothy Keller. Not only is it short, it is also only $2 on Amazon Kindle at the time of this writing. I loved this little work and plan on having copies on hand to give away. It is a glorious remedy to a perpetual problem in the heart of m...

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What To Do With That Idea You Have

This weekend we are doing something as a church that we have not done before. We will be doing some evangelistic Christmas caroling. Why are we doing this? There are a number of reasons why we are doing this, but the first reason, the reason that got it all in motion, was one of our members brought the idea to our attention and explained the benefits. Do you know what...

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Another Argument for the Total Lordship of Christ

A couple of weeks ago, I addressed an understandable challenge to preaching the Lordship of Christ in a person's life. This challenge said that if a person cannot know everything that Christ will call him to in the future, such as sin to forsake or life decisions to make, then demanding Christ's Lordship is too demanding. You can read why that challenge won't work here...

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The Top 5 Influencers of your Children’s Spiritual Health

I want to highlight a book that distills some recent research done on the spiritual upbringing of kids in our world. I suppose I feel a word of balance is needed right at the start. First of all, there is nothing you can do that will create spiritual life in your children. Nothing. We have to tell ourselves this often. New birth is a gift of grace, not an outcome of fa...

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A Common Challenge to Jesus’ Lordship

Last Sunday we were looking at Matthew 21:35-46 and our attention was brought to the matter of Jesus' Lordship. In the parable, hired vine-growers were attempting to overthrow the ownership, rights and lordship of the owner [God] and take the vineyard for themselves. Just what is the extent of Christ's lordship over someone's life? If we say it is total, we bump into ...

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Free from Righteousness

I have been in Romans chapter 6 for a while and a certain verse caught my attention. Romans 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. "Free in regard to righteousness". Really? Is this an exaggeration? One of the impossible issues for most unbelievers to accept is the assertion of the complete corruption of their hearts. They wi...

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Putting God in your Debt

One should not want to give even a whisper of support to an abomination such as prosperity theology. The tradecraft of all such false teaching is the ability to twist and distort the Scripture so that it ends up pointing in the exact opposite direction the author intended (2 Peter 3:16). Let's not forget, however, that the Scripture is being used (though in a wrong way...

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Doing Hard Things

Life is hard. Ironically, this is easy to say. And it seems there are seasons of hardness, not only for individuals but also families, marriages, churches and nations. I think we may be seeing some of that in our church. As I looked over the membership of our church, almost every family has a significant challenge facing them. While this is not happening to our church ...

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A New Tool for Bible Study

We are living in a golden age of resources. The technological revolution has opened up to the common man incredible abilities to search information and use information by way of digital tools. This has never been so accessible or so easy to use. For Christians, this means we can access the writings and work of past Christians more than ever before. This also means that...

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Grease for the Wheels of Prayer, pt. 5

I have discovered the answer to an age old question that many have wrestled with in vain. The question is this: if you had three wishes from a genie in a bottle what would you wish for? Many have tried the approach of "I would ask for infinite wishes", but as we learned in Aladdin, that contingency has been covered by Genie protocol. So what do you do? (Brace for profu...

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The Nashville Statement and the Nature of love

Last week the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, in conjunction with many other leading biblical evangelicals, released a document called the Nashville statement. This statement upheld the historic Christian position on the biblical teaching of human sexuality and marriage. You can read it here. This statement, composed of a preamble, 14 affirm/deny articles, and...

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Christlike Emotions During Relational Turmoil

One of the most difficult things you will have to go through is relational conflict. And one of the reasons it is so difficult is because it is so continual. As long as you are around people, you will be around conflict. So what do we do about this? Most do what comes natural, and it is either retreat or attack. Clearly, turning a cold shoulder or hurling sharp words i...

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Five Characteristics of Sexual Sin

We live in a pornified culture. Sexual sin has become so commonplace that people don't recognize it as the sin that it is. This means Christians, and the church as a whole, need to become very good at speaking to sexual matters in a way that is clear, serious, and unashamed. As a caveat, we must always protect the innocence of young children, not giving them what the...

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Grease for the Wheels of Prayer, Pt. 4

Prioritization. I put that word first because, wellyou know. Prioritization is one of those things that we all know we need to do, but we don't because, ironically, it is not a priority. It is just easier to do what is easy (how is that for an earth-shaking observation?). The need, and the difficulty, of prioritization is familiar to us all and is a reality in every ar...

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How God Likes to Use Power

One of the most frustrating realities, and at the same time one of the most wonderful realities, is that God is not like us. This is wonderful because if God became moody or capricious, even for a moment, all of reality would be unalterably unhinged. We tend to forget this. And we forget it because we are busy suppressing our angst that God hasn't done what we see as c...

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Grease for the Wheels of Prayer, Part 3

"Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks." This was the stunned assertion of the guards in John 7:46, who were supposed to arrest Jesus, but they just couldn't bring themselves to do it. Jesus was too unique, too powerful, too "otherly." Jesus' words on prayer are like this as well. The insight, encouragement, and compulsion he creates when it comes to prayer i...

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Reflections on 5 Years of Ministry

Time flies when yourdoing ministry, apparently. People often talk about how kids grow up before you know it, but it is true of a church as well. It is hard to believe we have been here five years. The mixture of excitement and uncertainty felt in that first year is still vivid. Maybe it is because that mixture of excitement and uncertainty is still around in certain wa...

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When Does Servanthood Become Sin-enablement?

Servanthood is one of the marks of Christlikeness. Mark 10:45 says "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" Servanthood is doing what other people truly need done because they can't do it, either because of lack of ability or opportunity. The believer's heart is inclined toward this. We were created for good works (Eph 2:10), we should be zealo...

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The Age of Accountability Demands You Be Ready

Every parent wants to know the age of accountability. But really, that precise moment isn't important to know. This is like being 90 years old and asking "When am I going to die?" That is asking a question that can't be answered while ignoring the question you should be giving all your attention to. The real question is, "How can I be prepared for my very near death?" ...

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Grease For the Wheels of Prayer, part 2

In the last post about prayer, we looked at a few short passages about the incredible power prayer unleashes. Prayer gets things happening whether we see it or not. Perhaps the only thing more exciting is to be incessantly told to use it incessantly. This feels almost too good to be true. I can easily imagine being told never to use a tool of immense power unless it was ...

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A LGBT slogan goes to the Science Scrapheap

The ubiquitous LGBT mantra "Born that way" is finally getting dumped in the landfill of scientific fiction. Bible teachers have been trying to do that for years, and the sexual revolution is now doing it for us. What has caused the reversal? Think of it like this. Bikes are wonderful vehicles. But do you know what bicycles are terrible at? They make for terrible tow-tru...

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Grease for the wheels of Prayer, Part 1

Nitty-Gritty. You have probably used that term before. It refers to the small details of life where real difficulty is found and real work has to be done. Nit and grit are things that have to be dealt with, but you only get to it when you are elbows deep in a project. The shiny exterior of the project is no longer in view. All you can see now are the little problems that...

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Do Miracles Happen Today?

The knee-jerk answer to that question by most Christians is "Well, of course." But in order to be Christians who do not lean on their own understanding, and do not lean on knee-jerk answers, we have to do more. The fear of the Lord calls his people to test everything by the Word of the Lord, because the Word has the final say on what we teach, and how we are corrected ...

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Do Not Try Jesus

I am fan of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce. There is only one reason for this: a coupon. During my days in seminary, Emily found a coupon for it so we gave it a try. The sauce is the boss! All of this is a classic marketing strategy. Free samples are regular features in the marketplace because the only thing better than a word-of-mouth reference is a tastes-good-in-my...

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Talking to our Kids about Winning, Losing, and the Goal of Sports

Someone has said that one of the most difficult things in sports is using a rounded bat to hit a round ball coming at you at a high rate of speed. This may be true, but a far harder thing is teaching your kids to think rightly about sports. Our family is just beginning to enter into the world of kids and sports, and already we are asking the question of how to talk about...

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A Quick Reference Guide to Suffering

In last week's blog I took a close look at one particular type of suffering that Paul spoke of in Romans chapter eight. But as I was thinking about that one type, it got me thinking about the other distinct categories of suffering that Scripture speaks about. As I did that, I found it incredibly helpful to think about the variety and number of categories that suffering c...

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You Must Suffer To Be Glorified

Romans 8 is a gloriously rich chapter of the Bible that should fill the mind of every believer. But gloriously rich doesn't mean easily swallowed. Such is the case with verse 16-17. Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Hi...

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Devotion Times that Count, part 4

Today I want to take a different approach in helping make devotional times spiritually valuable. The last three posts have looked at specific features, such as the relational nature of devotional times, the quantity of devotional times, and the quality of devotional times. Today I want to think about what is exactly commanded when it comes to these times. What does God a...

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Devotion Times that Count, Part 3

In part two, I spoke of devotional times in terms of relationship, namely that there is the need for quality time and the need for quantity time. I first looked at the need for a quantity time. There must be a quantity of time spent in the Bible so that you have a framework upon which times of intimacy with the Lord can even have a possibility of happening. Today I wan...

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Why Secularism Failed to Deliver More Tolerance

Many people are beginning to recognize division and intolerance are everywhere, and they are only getting stronger and more hostile. College campuses have to deal with violent rioting over speakers with certain viewpoints while at the same time creating "safe spaces" for students threatened by opposing ideas. Is this the legacy of progressivism: fight or flight? Apparent...

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Devotion Times That Count, Part 2

Last week I argued that the goal of devotional times was not just to have them, but to revel in them as times of relational intimacy. It is a time for knowing Christ and being known; a time for Christ to dwell in and through you while you rest and grow in Him. Like any relationship, there are two kinds of time spent with a person: quality time and quantity time. They ...

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Devotion Times that Count; Part 1

What does it mean to be a Christian? One of the most subtly misguided notions is that a Christian is someone committed to reading the bible, praying, going to church, and maintaining a high moral conduct. If you want an encapsulation of that, you can most easily point to the devotional time. That is the time when a person is reading the bible, praying, thinking about how...

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Beauty… and the Beast of Normalized Sin

The moral revolution continues to speed along with these two commitments: "leave-no-stone-unturned" and "take-no-prisoners." The latest example is the highly anticipated live-action movie Beauty and the Beast. The entertainment industry surrendered to this moral revolution long ago. But the newest twist is Hollywood's offering of a beloved children's story on the altar o...

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A Precious Chapter in the Book of Job

We have been going through the book of Job in our Sunday evening service and I have been wonderfully helped in this close study of God's Word. We are nearing the end, so I may have to come back with an updated post, but up till now one chapter has struck me as exceedingly precious. Most people are familiar with the first 2 chapters and the last 5 chapters, and rightly ...

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If the Discrimination fits, Wear It

"Discrimination" has become one of the great taboos of our culture. Dropping this word upon someone is the ultimate insult that is expected to make a person fall over themselves in apologies. Historically, discrimination was the go-to word for prejudices perpetuated against ethnic minorities. More recently, the LGBT community has had almost total success in getting th...

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Your New Week’s Resolution

So you are one month into 2017, but has your New Year's resolution made it this far? The fact that many resolutions have gone through the wood chipper by now is the very reason people snicker when they talk about these apparent exercises in futility. But for those who know that changes really need to happen, you are in the critical moment. I am told that commanders in t...

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Has Tom Brady Found What He Is Looking For?

It was a record breaking night for the NFL's biggest game. All told there were 27 different records broken. In the middle of it all was Tom Brady. His presence and performance alone were 10 of those 27 records. Clearly Tom Brady has not only reached but cemented his place in football history and joined the league of the world's greatest athletes of all time. But that ...

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Counting promises is better than counting blessings

Worry is a disease. It can eat at you relentlessly and steal your joy, your focus, and your health. Such a terrible disease needs a powerful antidote and God has not left us empty handed. In fact, he has filled our hand with a glorious book that will deal a decisive blow to the scourge of worry. But, like all medications, you must take it as prescribed. Poor applicatio...

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Sovereignty and Urgency

As finite creatures made by an infinite Creator, paradoxes are something we have to come to grips with. Being an infinite God means you do thingsdifferently. In what way? I have no idea. Being finite excludes the possibility that I can understand what it is like to be infinite. It is like asking a Dixie cup what it feels like to hold the ocean. Therefore, we are told t...

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The Peace Maker: A Book Review

Preparation is what you do when you don't know what is coming. Fervent preparation is what you do when you do know what is coming. And you know conflict is coming. You are fallen and selfish and you live around fallen selfish people. Only the Hermit is going to avoid conflict, and even he will probably argue with himself from time to time. Therefore, since you are a fa...

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The Trauma of Revival

I read something today about revival that struck me as to the actual nature of revival. We say we want revival, but no one living today has actually experienced it. The little that I have read about it communicates that it is the single most impactful experience one could possibly have. So much so, that there is a limit as to what can even be handled. What I read was ...

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Putting Christmas back in Christ

By: Hannah Ploegstra ------19 December 2016------- For many Christians, Christmas can be a rather conflicted season. Ever notice how we gripe our way through the season, over-spending on toys and junk, over-eating, and letting ourselves get "way too busy" while with the very same breath bemoaning the loss of the "reason for the season" and the way the world has taken ove...

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Putting Christmas back in Christ

By: Hannah Ploegstra ------19 December 2016------- For many Christians, Christmas can be a rather conflicted season. Ever notice how we gripe our way through the season, over-spending on toys and junk, over-eating, and letting ourselves get "way too busy" while with the very same breath bemoaning the loss of the "reason for the season" and the way the world has taken ove...

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Keep Church in Christmas

By Jay Lickey12-16-16 It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas when you start seeing statements made here and there about keeping Christ in Christmas. It's a pointed reminder in our increasingly secular age. But what about keeping church in Christmas? I have never seen that statement on a Facebook post or a t-shirt. Yet, every 6+ years Christmas falls on a Sunday. H...

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Grace makes Guarantees

No one likes living in a fog. Stock markets hate uncertainty. Voters hate uncertainty. Sick people hate uncertainty. The new and wonderful abilities of the scientific community make us hate it even more. Most expectant parents don't even want to live with a few months of not knowing the gender of their baby. Perhaps some people like the uncertainty of being spontaneous, ...

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Can an Unbeliever Be Patient?

People used to think the single cell was pretty basic, like an old car you could work on if you had some know-how. Turns out we simply weren't looking close enough. Instead of comparing it to an Oldsmobile, the cell is more like a galaxy of function and information. The same is true with some of the most famous and beloved Bible verses. We love them because of the powerf...

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A Powerful Verse for the Perseverance of the Saints

One of those doctrines that is often debated among Christians is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. This doctrine states that those who are truly born again will have a faith that endures to the end. There is a reason that this doctrine is debated. That reason is we all know people who used to zealously profess faith in Christ, but then fell away completely,...

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Abortion: “Privately against but publicly for” is to be publicly foolish

During the Vice Presidential debate the nation got to hear a particular abortion position articulated. Candidate Tim Kaine stated that he was privately against abortion, but supported the right to have abortions. Is this a morally legitimate position? Is this an aspect of what American Christianity can look like? Can we support policies that are sin against God? There i...

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The Resurrection is not the Apologetic Cornerstone

For many apologists and would-be apologists, there is a central single fact that serves as the cornerstone of their apologetics. It is both the frontline of engagement and the Calvary that runs in for the rescue. It is the grand evidence of all other evidences and the reality that confirms all other Christian claims of reality. This apologetic cornerstone is the resurrec...

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Don’t Despise the Differences

In regard to marriage, it is not uncommon to hear both newlyweds as well as veteran couples express dismay at God's created order. What was God thinking? Is this some kind of joke? How in the world is she a suitable helpmate when everything is such a contrast. She is more verbal, he is less. He likes totally different things than she does. Sexual desires are experienced ...

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Your belief that “Character Matters” will now be tested

As the election draws near to voting day we keep learning more and more about the candidates. The more we know, the more we wish we didn't know. Sadly, we are not surprised by any of it. Every new revelation fits into what we already knew, just like slime fits onto whatever it covers. The real question that confronts the evangelical voter is this, "Does character really...

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Jeremiah 29:11

There are different ways to reject the Bible. One way is to set it on fire. Another way it to set it on a shelf. A final way is to set it off in the wrong direction. The first way is direct. The second way is subtle. The final way is deceptive. Satan will take whatever way he can get, but his favorite is the last one. He is a deceiver, so he has no greater thrill than us...

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3 Ways to Nullify Faith

How do you neutralize something? You have to take away some feature of its energizing nature. For instance, if you want to neutralize a fire you have to take away one of three things: oxygen, fuel, or heat. If any one of those elements is gone, fire can no longer exist. So how do you nullify faith? You have to take away a feature that energizes it. So what are the energi...

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God and My Stolen Computer

I am typing this on a borrowed computer. Why? Because I think my work computer just got stolen. I am still hoping this is just some bad trick or that I set it down in some place so random that I still haven't found it. But with each passing minute and every memory of the morning, my hope is crashing like a virus-filled computer program. I really liked that computer. It w...

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One Approach For Evangelizing Catholics

One of the most difficult features of Catholic evangelism is the tyranny of the similar. Not only do the statisticians of world religions put Catholicism under the umbrella of Christendom, but there has been a decades long ecumenical push within Protestantism to say Catholics and Protestants are on the same team, just wearing different uniforms. Therefore, to talk about ...

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The Only Way To Not Waste Your Vote

Politics is not a fantasy world. You have not entered the realm of werewolves and vampires, where a silver bullet or a clove of garlic is going to vanquish the problem. We still live in this ole' cursed world, where issues still spring up from the heart, and sin has never been something you can manage. The reality John Owen spoke of still has a gorilla-grip hold on us: "...

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Grace Is More Amazing Still: A Sermon Correction

So this blog post is a bit embarrassing and humbling. Correction usually is. It is one thing to be a juggler and to drop a ball. That is embarrassing. But when you are leading a juggling instructional course on not dropping balls and you then drop a ball, that is really embarrassing. That is what this blog post is like. In my sermon that spent much time on understanding ...

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You Have Superpowers

We have all been asked the question. If you could choose just one superpower, what would it be? Today I heard an expert weigh in on the issue. During an interview on Up To Date, hosted by Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske, two long time science fiction writers, George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass, were asked this very question. I was very interested. Here were two ...

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A Nail In The Coffin of Reason

God is inescapable. It doesn't matter what you think, say, or do, you are forever locked into God's creation. The greatest proof of God's existence a person can have is when God gives new life to his dead soul (1 John 5:9, 11). Next to this experience of life in Christ, the greatest testimony to God's existence is the inescapable fact that without God you cannot prove an...

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Stop Raising Shy Kids

I am deeply blessed by having a host of wonderful people that live around and interact with my children. While you can hardly overstate the importance of parents, children will also be blessed and challenged and rounded out by the giftings and experiences of God's people. I want an army of people pointing my children to Christ and providing examples of sacrificial love i...

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Shutting Their Mouth

What are you trying to accomplish when you share the gospel? I hope it isn't conversion because no mere human can accomplish that. Yes, you need to pray fervently for someone's salvation, but there are goals that you can strive for that are more within the realm of human responsibility and faithfulness. What is my goal? My goal is to close a person's mouth from excuse-ma...

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The American Quandary

I want to think about America in this blog post. I realize that addressing the American experiment, as some have called it, is wading into the swirling whirlpool of topics that include government, religion, and freedom. Yet Christians everywhere are feeling the compulsion to explain what is happening in the land we love. The changes that have been slow and subtle over th...

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A Simple Way of Understanding the Fear of God

John Murray said the fear of God is the soul of godliness. This is a conclusion you can hardly avoid as you read God's Word. The fear of God is mentioned well over 50 times throughout the Scripture. Not only is its volume of occurrences enough to require every Christian to understand this concept, but also how the fear of God is spoken of would make us fools to treat it li...

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A Critique of Tony Evans’ Recent Washington Post Article

I have hesitated to write this blog because bringing a critique of a brother is touchy business and prone to misunderstanding. Yet, the topic is important, the article is public, and the lesson is one we need to learn. The brother I am referring to is a well-known preacher in Texas named Tony Evans. He is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and leads a large ministry...

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A Gospel of Judgement

Some statements grab you and try to shake silly notions out of your head. At first they strike you as odd, but as you mediate upon them they begin to turn your mind. Paul made a statement like this when he said the following: Romans 2:1516 [Gentiles] show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusi...

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An Orlando Shooting Surprise: When Your Love Is Called Hate

Sometimes I think redefining words is the Devil's favorite pastime. It is like rolling a snowball and seeing how big it gets. Since words and truth go hand in hand, if you can mess with words you can create time bombs out of vocabulary. Faith, love, grace, gospel all sound like good biblical words, and they are. But when they are covertly redefined, as done by the Jehova...

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Grace: Master Teacher and Fearless Leader

There are times in a person's life and in the life of a nation when everything is changed. Perhaps someone has a new baby. Perhaps a nation suffers a terrible event like 9/11 or a natural disaster. When these kinds of events happen, everything is affected and many things will change. Things have to change because there are new realities that are so in-your-face that to ign...

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Two Keys for Engaging with Blatant Sinners

As our culture continues its secularizing journey, we in the church will be faced with more and more quandaries about how to deal with the unbelieving world. Our difficulty comes when we seek to be faithful to Scripture which appears, to skeptics, to have conflicting commands. Before addressing such objections, we remember that our presuppositions about Scripture protect...

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The Danger of Immaturity and Its Safety Net

The other day it occurred to me that spiritual immaturity is like drinking alcohol. Both of these have within them the seeds of self-destruction. Let me explain the connection. Alcohol is a controlling agent. It incapacitates the mind so that a person falls under the sway of unchecked emotions and rationale. Alcohol is like a key that progressively unlocks the chains of ...

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Disordered Lives and the Death of Sunday Evening Ministry

We have witnessed the gradual demise of Sunday evening ministry. The questions for this article are why has this happened and what should the church's response be. Before getting to the heart of this article, I want to clear away some circumstantial realities in the lives of churches and people. We need to touch on these here so that they don't clutter the main points b...

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Comparing Apples and Oranges in Christian Hedonism

There are two verses in the book of Romans that add support to the concept of Christian hedonism, and help us see it is very different than normal hedonism. In fact, I would say that trying to compare the two is like comparing apples and oranges. For those unfamiliar with the term "Christian hedonism," it was popularized by John Piper a couple decades ago through his pr...

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My Poor Example of Strong-Arm Praying

It is a mark of pervasive fallenness that even the most spiritual event can be corrupted. Even though Christians have been made new in Christ, we have not been made perfect; and our imperfections can manifest themselves in the most shocking ways at times. In one particular instance, I found that even prayer had succumbed to my fallenness. This is how I saw it play out. ...

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“Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner” Doesn’t Work

A commonly heard phrase in Evangelical churches is "Hate the sin, love the sinner;" or at least it used to be. But we live in a new day when sin is embraced in ways never before seen in America. Such a phrase only works when the clean distinction between sin and sinner is accepted. In that case, the phrase will freely roll off the tongue. It will continue to do so as lo...

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Giving Beyond Your Ability

There is a question in my mind that haunts me, and I don't like to be haunted. Have you ever been haunted by a thought? There, in the back of your brain it lingers, rising up at unexpected times to torment you with conceptual lashes. There is some overlap with the job of the conscience, but whereas the conscience doesn't let up in its convictional demands for righteousne...

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Guilting People Will Always Backfire

Many features of God's creation showcase His intentional design. The Woodpecker has a special tongue that wraps around his skull providing a cushion for what would otherwise be a concussion-causing job. The Aye-Aye has incredibly long thin fingers for finding and pulling out grubs through small holes in trees. The Crabeater Seal doesn't actually eat crabs, but has some o...

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Is Endurance and Assurance Incompatible?

Several weeks ago our church was looking at a verse of Scripture which seems to unsettle, if not all out destroy, the concept of assurance. Jesus says in Matthew 10:22 "but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved." The question of incompatibility goes like this: "How could assurance of eternal life ever be possible if endurance is an evidence of salva...

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Why do you obey?

One of the realities of raising young children is that you begin to be asked a lot of "why" questions. Why do we brush our teeth? Why do we pray before we eat? Why do we have to go to bed? The benefit to this is you find yourself having to justify things you perhaps have not thought through in a long time. That is a good thing. Useless your response is to rely unthinking...

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An Ironic Pursuit of God’s Will

Irony has a special place in my heart. I think it has to do with the way truth gets displayed in spite of people's deceptive or idiotic ways. For example, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hand-wrote a letter of condolence to a mother whose son had died in Afghanistan, but unfortunately he misspelled the deceased's surname. A newspaper published a blistering articl...

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Four Ways Unbelievers Suppress The Truth

We have all been there at some point. A discussion turns to spiritual matters and it becomes clear that the person you are talking to does not believe in God. But it gets worse than that. They are incredulous about your faith. Not only do they not believe, they also don't understand how anyone could believe. They press you for evidence because they see nothing that would...

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Understanding The Gun On The Table

There is a principle in theatre that says if you put a gun on a table in the first scene it had better be used by the last scene. There are needful reasons for this. You are trying to carry your audience along a particular storyline and pointless details will confuse and distract them. Additionally, you only have a limited amount of time and space. You don't want to wast...

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The Ten Words of Grace

Some things never change: Governments want to tax your money; change is the only constant; and the Cubs are going to lose. These things are a sure bet. The church has one to add to the list; explaining the place of the Old Testament law. With every new generation fresh explanations have to be given regarding the church's relationship with the law. This is not a bad thing...

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Using The Bible Unbiblically

One of the new words in our modern conversation is the word "hack." With the rise of computers came the pursuit of getting around systems or using them for purposes unintended by the original creators. An ever present danger today is that your computer will be hacked and your credit card information stolen. But since the term basically means doing something in an unconve...

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The Imbalance of Balance

I have a guaranteed way to gather a crowd. String up a wire between two buildings, and people will gather to watch you walk across. Easy enough. Staying on the wirethat is another matter. Add some wind, and a few rocks thrown by spectators, and you have a truly difficult task. Balance is not just for tightrope walkers. It is topic of discussion in many areas of life. Ba...

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God Doesn’t Give Second Chances

There are a handful of idioms commonly used to speak of a person getting a do over: a new lease on life; a fresh start; turning over a new leaf; starting with a clean slate. We all have needed this at some point, in some area of our life. It is not surprising then, when these get carried over into the spiritual realm. They can work sometimes, but not always. One familiar...

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You Will Know Them By Their Votes

When Jesus spoke those penetrating words in Matt 7:20, "you will know them by their fruits" he clearly was speaking about the outworking's of a person's whole life. But a part of our lives as Americans is that we get to vote. This means our voting is necessarily one of the fruits of our lives, by which our profession of faith will either be supported or refuted. Christi...

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Next Level Humility

The Olympics is right around the corner which means we will soon be hearing the oft repeated phrase, "They make it look so easy." There is no mystery why this is. When you do anything 10,000 times, it is going to become second-nature to you. You discover how things work, when to do this, why to do that, which way to adjust at just the right time. Much of this, however, c...

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An Undervalued Quality of Godly Womanhood

The PBS television show Antique Roadshow is blazing into a new season with no signs of slowing down. This 13-time Emmy Award nominated show has captured the hearts of people around the globe who love the surprise of the average person finding a treasure. The basic format of the show is simply a string of 5 minute segments filmed at an antique-appraisal event. People brin...

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Two Handrails for Suffering

Have you ever watched a bull rider right before the gate is opened and he frolics with 2000 lbs. of fury? Almost all the focus is upon getting that perfect grip which will anchor him for 8 seconds of insanity. Knowing that your grip is secure when turbulence comes is important. 1 Peter is predominantly about the turbulence of suffering, and he gives us two realities that...

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Trading the Fad for Real Growth

We say it every year. A new year is here; can you believe it? 2016 has arrived and the question on everyone's mind is "what's in store this year? Believe it or not, I think I know, and I am not talking about any election. This year, as there has been every year, there will be another battle for the souls of men and women. I can even tell you what at least one of these ba...

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Christmas Prepares Us For The Second Coming

You have probably heard people say "keep your head on a swivel." It's a picturesque way of saying you need to be alert and aware of what is going on all around you. That's good advice for the Christian, not just in the daily grind, but also regarding the big picture of life and worldview. Christians are those who are constantly looking back and constantly looking forward...

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Getting Your Love Recalibrated

We frequently need to be reminded what real love is all about. The world, with its countless "love" songs, rom-coms, romance novels, and various made-for-TV relationships, does not help us in this regard. In fact, it deceives us and turns us in the wrong direction. "We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us" is what the Scripture tells us in 1 John 3:16. Sc...

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Why Saying “Some Catholics Are Saved” is Foolish and Problematic

Over the years, I have regularly heard this comment in evangelical circles, "It is possible for a Catholic to be saved." Now, I understand that context matters. If the comment was made during the heavy exchange of a thoroughly biblical dialog, with two people grappling over the precise doctrines of conversion, such a comment would not be too much of a concern. Sadly, tha...

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I Can Do Incompetence Through Christ Who Strengthens Me

Is this a joke? Has someone hacked the blog and messed with the title? Those who know their Bibles, and probably even those who don't know their Bibles, will most likely recognize the verse that the title is drawn from. Philippians 4:13 reads, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." It stands there so inspiring, so uplifting. No wonder it is the go-to verse...

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How to Deal with Holiday Family Tensions

By Russell Moore Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 We tend to idealize holidays, but human depravity doesn't go into hibernation between Thanksgiving and New Year's. One thing that will hit most Christians, sooner or later, are tensions within extended families at holiday time. Some of you will be visiting family members who are contemptuous of the Christian faith and d...

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All Roads Lead To The Cross

The greatest moment of all human history is what Christ did on the cross. Certainly, there have been remarkable moments from the past such as the creation of the universe and a miracle-filled exodus. And without doubt, there will be remarkable moments to come; such as the return of Christ and the marriage feast of the Lamb. But the Cross stands by itself. The greatest re...

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Repent Of Your Small Faith, And Get A Mustard-Seed Faith

I have been thinking a lot about faith due to the passages of Scripture we have been going through at church. It got me thinking about this concept of "mustard-seed faith." This is a well-known biblical phrase because Jesus uses it in two different settings recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is used in a very positive way and with a staggering promise of incredible e...

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Husbands, Submit To Your Wives

How is that for a provocative title? I may have just lost all my conservative readers, who recognize the role of male headship in the home, as well as any liberal readers who reject the idea of roles in any form whatsoever. So, if I have anyone who is still reading, let me take you to Scripture to show you that this is far more than a provocative title, it is the teachin...

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Worry, Fear, And Stepping Back Into The Grave

Cemeteries are creepy. I lived across from one growing up and much of the time it was just a normal part of our scenery. This cemetery was a part of the church we went to so we often walked to church using the road that went through the cemetery. That wasn't a problem, most of the time. But we also went to church Sunday evenings. When fall rolled around, and darkness rus...

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Boredom, Familiarity, and a Spectacular Creation

I am regularly amazed, and that amazes me. One thing that regularly amazes me is the seemingly limitless variety of animals and plants. Now, I am not special in my appreciation of animals and plants. But I really do relish the stunning abilities, habits, organization, colors, shapes, and intricacies of both animals and plants. And I, amazingly so, find myself regularly s...

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Abortion and Infant-personhood

I don't know where the term "cop-out" came from, but I know what it means. It means you will not face the truth. You cling to flimsy reasoning because the solid ground of logic is too unmoving and firm. You leave before the cross-examination can be pressed into you. It means you are a coward. That is what I thought when I read this article entitled Why Science Can't Say...

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Discipline, Faithfulness and the Pain They Both Bring

Discouragement is rarely a needed thing. Encouragement, on the other hand, is something we need in large doses on a daily basis. Therefore, the worst possible scenario is to be discouraged by something that actually should bring encouragement. The purpose of this blog post is to encourage you where you might be tempted to be discouraged. The Christian is often discourag...

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Give Your Brain A Chance

There is a short story called Harrison Bergeron that I remember reading in high school. The plot is set in future America where there is total equality in every area of existence. Beautiful people must wear ugly masks, strong people must be weighed down by weights, and intelligent people must wear ear pieces that blast sounds in order to break their concentration. This ...

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When Anger is Right and Needful

This post is a portion from an "Ask Pastor John" podcast where John Piper speaks to the issue of righteous, godly anger. In a previous blog that you can read here, I tried to think through the dangers of anger and how to manage it. To bring in more balance, this list from Piper is exceptionally insightful about the place that godly anger should have in our lives. We are ...

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In Praise Of Humble Men

Pride is a disease. It is another name for idolatry. Wherever it is, destruction is not far behind. Humility, on the other hand, is glorious. It is a grace-created attribute that is bold, joyous, and life-giving. Many things can and should be said about both pride and humility. But for the sake of brevity and for punch, here are quick thoughts on the contrasts between pr...

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7 Reflections On Dialoging With Jehovah Witnesses

Over the past 6 months I have had several scheduled conversations with Jehovah Witnesses who have come to my house. I don't know if my house will be blackballed, but it is possible and therefore I have been thinking about these interactions. I have learned several things about their approaches and hopefully this will help you. 1. Each Jehovah Witness will be different ...

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Why Is Weakness Such An Asset?

It is so counter-intuitive to think that weakness is an asset. Weakness is supposed to be a liability. But that is just one of many reversals that we find in Scripture. The poor become rich. He who loses his life finds it. The first will be last. On and on it goes. At some point each of these reversals have to be explained because, as already mentioned, it just doesn't m...

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4 Ways to Boldness

The apostle Paul was promised a life of suffering, and God delivered on that promise. Few have ever lived such a hard life. Much of what made it so hard was the uncertainty of what would hit him around the next corner. It was like being blindfolded at the receiving end of a dodgeball game where anything was allowed to be thrown. Would the next thing be a rotten tomato or...

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So You Think You’re Something

Self-esteem prattle is for cowards. What we all need is to be esteemed rightly. Paul says in Romans 12:3 that everyone should "not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment" So the goal is not high esteem but right esteem. We need to judge ourselves by the right standard for the right purposes. So what is the right...

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News Sources and the Informed Christian

I was pleased the other day when Albert Mohler finished his summer break and returned to his daily podcast called The Briefing. The Briefing is an analysis of news and culture from a biblical worldview. At the end of this blog I will list a few other great sources for news that you might consider. But first, let's think about news and how we are informed. You can't beli...

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Is Interstellar Life Bad News For God?

NASA held a press conference last week reporting the exciting discovery of the earthlike planet called Kepler-452b. But is this discovery exciting for the church? Are we one step closer to closing the church doors because life is found on another planet? Is this bad news for God? Jeff Schweitzer at Huffington Post says this is absolutely bad news for God and you can read...

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Quality over quantity

Quality is a great salesman word. We have all learned the hard way that getting more of something that is only going to go bad or break doesn't make for a good deal. Quality is of first importance because something of quality is going to last, it is going to fulfill its purpose, and it is going to be a profitable investment. If you can get quality and quantity then you h...

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How Do You Prepare For Holy Living?

If you fail to plan, plan to fail. Statements like that are clich for a reason. They are so true and so observable in everyday life they cement themselves into our consciousness. We have all seen the need for preparation, even if we are not good at doing it. Regardless, the need for preparation is ubiquitous. Every different activity has its own unique preparation requir...

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Pleasure and Pain in Praying

The last couple months we have been going through the Lord's prayer found in Matthew chapter 6. This means that we have been talking and thinking a lot about prayer. This is not surprising because there are all kinds of difficulties when it comes to prayer. In fact, a vast array of doctrines will come up when prayer is the topic. Study about prayer will eventually lead t...

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Sorrow Rides On The Shoulders Of Joy

Some things are capable of carrying tremendous loads. I have seen pictures of a massive ship called the Blue Marlin that is designed to carry disabled ships and other large ocean machines. Not rowboats, mind you, but huge ships like Navy Destroyers as well as oil rig platforms. Google it and be amazed. When it comes to sorrows of the deepest kind, what is it that will c...

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Can You Interpret Circumstances?

Knowing God's will is paramount for the Christian. At some point, God brought us to our senses and we found that our own understanding got us into the pig slop of the prodigal or the self-righteous bondage of the Pharisee. But by grace, we tasted the fresh air of Jesus' lordship, wisdom, love, and more. Our short-sighted, sinful take on life was just not going to work an...

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Father’s day: An unneeded holiday for an unneeded person?

Unintended consequences are the thorn in the side of every good intention. Simply because intentions are good, does not mean the idea is good. I have heard of people trying to raise raccoons, only to be mauled by them. George Washington died in large part due to bloodletting, which was a standard medical practice of the day. These and countless other activities have led ...

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What to do with a Chevy owner: Conviction and Secondary Doctrines

I like a sleek sports car and a power torqueing truck as much as the next guy, but I assure you I am not a gearhead or a car enthusiast by any stretch of the imagination. I could have been pretty easily, though. My grandfather worked for a Ford dealership and mechanic shop all his life. For whatever reason, those mechanical genes didn't get passed on to me. So it always ...

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The Slavery That Freedom Requires

On December 14, 2012 Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, did an interview with Os Guinness. This interview was transcribed and posted on Al Mohler's blog on March 18, 2013. It was a very interesting discussion about one of Guinness's books titled A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future....

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A Test For Self-Deception

"Yesterday in Baltimore, something didn't happen, despite convincing accounts that it did." This is the opening line of a NPR story about a non-shooting in Baltimore. There was an incident where multiple people described police shooting a man who was running away from them. While their testimony was passionate and spoken with a degree of certainty, it didn't actually hap...

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Busyness is Moral Laziness

We have all said it, and we have probably meant it when it came out of our mouth. "I don't have enough time" is a repeated refrain for many. I was once again challenged about this mindset after hearing a podcast in which a seminary professor named Bruce Hindmarsh made the following statement: "Busyness is moral laziness [because it is often a statement of our self-impor...

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26 Helps for Suffering: A Primer For Suffering From 2 Timothy

In one way or another, suffering for the gospel is coming. You might as well get ready. To do so, there is no better place to go than the letter of 2 Timothy. Over and over again, Paul is preparing Timothy to suffer. We can get ready too, if we pay attention and take heed to this letter. Buckle down, open your Bible, and let these instructions sink in. Read the verse; th...

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A Financial Theodicy

What is theodicy? Theodicy is the term given to what is otherwise called the problem of evil. That problem has been outlined in three statements that many say cannot all be true. Those statements are: God is all-good. God is all-powerful. Evil exists. The Christian realizes that to abandon any one of those statements would be a direct denial of scripture. Many say this i...

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A Defense Of Public Warning and Reproof

To wrap up this blog on public rebuke, I want to look at scriptural examples and then try to think through some of the practicalities. Remember, we have a target rich environment, so we need wisdom in the implementation of public warning and reproof. Abundant Example Example and imitation are important parts of discipleship. We are supposed to learn from those who lead...

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A Defense Of Public Warning and Reproof

What do you do in a target-rich environment? If you come to my yard, and I tell you to pull out all the dandelions, you will find yourself in a target-rich environment! But you will soon realize that there are others things that you need to do in life, like eat and sleep and play with children. Your work on all those targets is determined by how much ammunition (or energ...

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CAN CHRISTIANS LET THEIR BIBLICAL CONVICTIONS SHAPE PUBLIC POLICY FOR THE NATION AS A WHOLE

This week's blog post is a transcript of Albert Mohler's weekend edition of The Briefing, a daily analysis of current news and events from a Christian worldview. This particular question and answer is very pressing and very insightful. The Briefing Ask Anything Weekend 4-4-2015 Albert Mohler Question: As Christians we affirm the Bible is our standard for morality an...

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Cute Bunnies, Jolly Santa, and Horrid Syncretism

It happens every time we come to Christmas and Easter. Someone somewhere waves a large red flag of warning over our celebrations. Their argument is that buried in the holiday is a connection to paganism. Is this true? Do we need to jettison these celebrations, or radically alter them? Are there dangers lurking in what we do? These are valid questions. We shouldn't shy a...

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How to Leave a church

Leaving a church should be a difficult undertaking for multiple reasons. First, it should be difficult because of the questions one needs to answer before leaving. Second, it should be difficult because of the relationships you built within the church. If your leaving is not a very difficult thing, it is because one or both of the above has not been adequately considered...

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When Not To Leave A Church

1. When there are church problems Ironically, this is one of the most common reasons people leave a church. When you think about it, however, this is crazy. Satan is hell-bent on destroying the church. With such a powerful being opposing us, do we really think any good church will avoid problems? I would say you have something to worry about if there are never problems....

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When To Leave A Church

1) When there is false teaching. Doctrine is the engine of decision making. What we really truly believe drives our behavior. Therefore, there is nothing more important in a church than continuous, faithful teaching of Scripture; especially in matters of essential doctrine. If our beliefs are not constantly challenged and corrected by Scripture, then we might be in a ch...

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Sense And Sensibility And A Sensible Faith

One of the difficulties of raising little children is that reasoning with them is not an option very often. A two year old just doesn't have the faculties or the experience to follow a train of thought of any length. While we understand this, it is still difficult to deal with a kid who likes cheese and likes ham, but refuses to try them together. But as children grow, w...

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A Surprising Mark of Godly Love

Are you a loving person? Your answer can help you determine your level of spiritual maturity. Christians are to be known by our love (John 13:35), and only those who love abide in the light (1 John 2:10). The attributes of biblical love listed in 1 Corinthians 13 are helpful. However, love is like an ocean with various currents constantly moving the waters. Some currents...

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I Am the Worst Sinner I Know

In last week's sermon, while we were looking at the reasons behind the reality that new covenant people still sin, I said that I am the worst sinner I know. I just dropped that statement like a landmine and left it sitting there. While no one mentioned it, I can imagine someone pondering what is behind such a statement. Is there a landmine of sin in Pastor Jay's life tha...

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The Letter and the Spirit: A False Dichotomy

It is not unusual to hear someone speak about the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Here is one memorable example from my past. I climbed into a friend's old jeep and buckled in. As I clicked in the seatbelt, I noticed that three fourths of the seatbelt was torn just above the buckle. I mentioned that I was buckled in but I wasn't sure it would do any good wit...

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The Spiritual Siamese Twins: Truth and Love

Some things were just meant to be together: Captain Kirk and Spock, meat and barbeque sauce, government and taxes. Some things, however, must be together by necessity. There is nothing about chocolate that requires peanut butter to exist. But men must have women and women must have men. We have heard it lamented before, "can't live with 'em; can't live without 'em." With...

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How To Know When God Says No

When it comes to prayer, there are always difficult questions. Simple answers rarely work. One simplistic approach is to think God's answers are either yes, no, or wait. This does address fears that God isn't even listening, but the Scriptures affirm that He hears and answers so repeatedly it is not a difficult issue. There is a far harder question that needs to be answe...

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A Key For Knowing What to Say

In the realm of difficult questions, we often hear, "What do I say to this person?" If you are not asking that question every now and then, it probably means one of two things. Either you are avoiding certain people so that you don't have to say anything; or you are talking without thinking. If the latter is the case, you probably have shoe leather stuck in your teeth fr...

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Reading God’s Word More and Better in 2015, Part 2

Last week we began looking at how we can read God's word more and better. There are those who need to simply read it more, and we examined the practical issues and heart issues for addressing that need. This week we will examine how we can read God's Word better. Some of us have developed a habit of reading God's Word daily. We set aside time for it and attempt to guard...

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Reading The Bible More And Better In 2015, Part 1

We all need to read God's Word more and better. If you have any doubt about that statement, consider the following: We live in a world hell-bent on opposing God's rule over all things. We are sinners who are always susceptible to being deceived from without and from within. We all have blind spots of understanding where sin is lurking. During times of emotional or ph...

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The Anatomy of Disappointment

The other day the weather man said we were going to have some snow. For adults, snow usually throws a monkey wrench into plans. For kids however, it is the white powder of joy. Snow covers the world with fun. It lets you slide with speed, and fall anywhere with the promise of a soft cushion. It can be thrown as balls, or built into stick-arm, scarf wearing people. Our ki...

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Your Christmas Needs More Easter

If you have been to any birthday parties for 4 year olds lately, you know what I am about to tell you. When the piata comes out, there are two dominate mindsets. First is the parent's. This mindset is driven by visions of some boy swinging for the fences only to connect with the pigtails of some sweet, unsuspecting party-goer. The main thing the parents want is for that ...

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Reflections Following My Conversation With An Abortion Provider

Below is a blog by Pastor Scott Sauls. This is one of the best articles that I have read on the pro-life/pro-choice controversy. This article will leave you no place to hide. Whatever side you take, you will find that your own sin has warped what kingdom living calls for. May the gospel transform our approach so that we can have the "true religion" of James 1:27. Pastor...

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Thankfulness: Getting It Through Your Thick Skull

In God's word, one verse is all you need to hear an authoritative word. If God spoke it, it is true and God doesn't need to repeat Himself. But, the more you read God's word, the more you appreciate that God is gracious and compassionate, willing to condescend to those of us who are slow, oblivious, misdirected, stubborn, and, welllike you and me. And so, God is pleased ...

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Faithfulness and Family Reunions

In just a couple weeks, many of us will be loading up our vehicles for the trip to be with family, where we will load up the dinner plate with holiday meals. Sadly, many will also begin to feel their heart load up with fear, anger, or anxiety as they think about spending another holiday with family members who are less than a joy to be around. That means now is the time...

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The Engine of Application

One of the dreaded features of buying a car is the reality that you have to know something about the engine. Most people are not mechanics. Yet, if you are going to buy a car, someway, somehow, you have to know enough about the engine to know that your purchase will be a wise one. Without that engine, you will only have a leather-interior paper weight. Even after your pu...

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Questionable Charity and Immediate Needs

Almost 10 years in church ministry has allowed me to see most of what happens on a daily basis. One of the normal occurrences of church life is that people come by or call with requests for immediate help. These are never fun. What makes these so problematic is the immediacy of the request, which is the norm. They need gas, right now. They have a bill that must be paid, ...

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Understanding and Bearing Spiritual Fruit, Part 3

Today we are looking at the third and final category of spiritual fruit. The first was the general category dealing with the nature of spiritual fruit. The second addressed spiritual fruit that is internal to the believer and primarily connected to the believer's own life. In working through those first two categories we developed this definition: Spiritual fruit is a ...

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Understanding and Bearing Spiritual Fruit, Part 2

Last week I began this blog series by describing three different categories of spiritual fruit. First is the general category that primarily speaks to the nature of spiritual fruit. Second is a specific category of spiritual fruit that is internal to the believer and primarily connected to the believer's own life. Third is the specific category of spiritual fruit that is...

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Understanding and Bearing Spiritual Fruit, Pt. 1

I am fascinated by fruit. Sometimes I catch myself staring at an apple. In my hand is a perfectly portioned meal, containing wonderful nutrients, sealed in its own protective skin, carrying seeds for propagation, and to top it off it is delightfully tasty. What a wonderful gift God has designed for us. But even more wonderful is spiritual fruit. I have been thinking a lo...

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The Protection of True Treasure

This whole world is one giant commercial that is constantly offering you something you don't have. If you only get this, whatever it is, you will have protection, joy, satisfaction, stability, etc. Those who are envied are those who have this thing(s). Or if it is not a single thing, the fulfilled life is found in a "dream" that each individual is to pursue and find thei...

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Strange But True: An Unexpected Reality in Evangelism and Apologetics

We all love a weird fact. For instance, camels have three eyelids. Crazy, huh? Our world is so diverse that every day we can be surprised by some unexpected reality. There are things like that in the theological world as well. There are so many diverse, yet unified, truths in scripture that there are realities we initially don't expect. Two of these surprising realities...

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Questions for Jehovah Witnesses

This list of issues and questions was compiled in preparation for a meeting with a Jehovah Witness, and it proved very useful. 1) Is Jesus equal to God? a. John 5: 18 Jesus made himself equal with God in what he said. The Pharisees realized this and reacted accordingly. The same thing happened again in Jn. 10:33 and there Jesus defends it. b. Mark 2:7 Jesus did not re...

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The Gospel According To The Video Recorder

Why didn't God have the video recorder invented before the time of Christ so that we all could see the life of Christ and not just read about it? Before I attempt an answer, let me set the stage for the question. As I preach through the gospel of Matthew, we have begun to watch Jesus in action. In chapter 4, Matthew presents Jesus as the King who steps onto the scene on...

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Betrayal and Pride: The Contradiction Within Us

We always like to bash on those silly Israelites and those bone-headed Apostles. Their mistakes and failings are legendary. One of these moments of breathtaking contradiction happened during the last supper. Two verses stand side-by-side, shocking everybody except those involved. Read both of these verses again, and stand amazed that they are next to one another. Luke ...

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Scripture Or Direct Speaking: Where Is A Deeper Relationship Found?

Last week I preached a message on what it means "to have a relationship with God." While we hear that phrase frequently, it really is a stunning thought. My message was from Psalm 21 and it dealt primarily with how God maintains His relationship with us. What I didn't deal with was the whole idea of communication. Communication stands at the heart of every relationship. ...

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26 Ways to “Provoke the 1 Peter 3:15 Question” at Work

This blog post was too good to pass up. If you are not doing several of these at work, you need to do some heart probing to find out why. Posted by Pastor J.D. Greer on August 10, 2014 I mentioned in this weekend's sermon that the Apostle Paul lived in such a way that he provoked a question. Peter said it this way: "In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always ...

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After the Barbeque

People. Oh, the complexities that come with people. There are so many personalities, so many backgrounds, so many ways we sin against one another. Challenges and perils aside, God calls us to love people and pour out our lives for them. So let's say you want to do better at loving people. You know this is the second greatest commandment, so it isn't effort that will be ...

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10 Reasons to Memorize Scripture, Especially In large Sections

I am writing this post because a number of people have joined me in striving to memorize the book of Colossians. This is not something we do because we are bored and looking for a challenge. On the contrary, we are busy and this pursuit will only add to our plate (just a little). But, life is short and we don't want to mess up the things we are doing. We need God's word ...

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Faking the Fruits

A couple of weeks ago I preached through the first half of Matthew chapter 3. It was there that John the Baptist launched a stinging rebuke at the Pharisees and Sadducees who had come to be baptized. This led us to think about hypocrisy. These religious leaders were coming to be baptized with a baptism of repentance which seemed to be exactly what they needed. Any yet, t...

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Another Resolution

In case you need reminding, 2014 is halfway gone. That's right. It will never be repeated, ever. It is a memory that will fade into oblivion. At least that is what popular culture tells us. But actually, the first half of 2014 will come back when the books are opened in judgment. Hopefully, you are now thinking of commands you broke and callings you neglected in those mo...

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The Power That Creates Godliness

There is a sober warning that comes in Paul's last letter. In 2 Timothy, Paul warns that difficult days will come and they will be difficult because they will be filled with godless, evil men manifesting every form of corruption. He says in 3:5 that one of their defining features is they will be "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." This ...

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Treating Others As Royalty

Sometimes it is not a book or a chapter or a paragraph that really nails you, it is the single sentence. A solitary quote can do you more good than a whole section. I encountered one of those the other day. It has been resonating in my mind. Usually, it is there convicting me of how poorly I measure up. But at the same time, I see the hope that it holds out. This is the ...

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Don’t Grow Weary of Growing Weary

There is a famous quote that says, "never say never." It is one of those fun little quotes that endures because there is a glaring contradiction that still conveys an important reality that we do well not to forget. That dynamic is very similar to the simple admonition of this blog post, "don't grow weary of growing weary." The main difference is that my reminder is bibl...

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Problem Method, Problem Message, or Both? Another look at “Easy Believeism”

Last Sunday night there was a verse in Hosea that promoted a short discussion about the "Easy Believeism" mindset. I thought a few more reflections might be helpful. I think this might be one of those cases that shows us the complexities of discerning between the methods used and the messages conveyed. There is a need to start with some definition. When I speak of "Easy...

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The Hypocrite: A Better Definition

We have all heard it from someone at some time. They don't want to go to church because of all the hypocrites. But who exactly are they talking about and what church are they talking about. Let's deal with the church first. If the person you are talking to doesn't want to go to your church because of all the hypocrites, he might have a very good reason. If your church h...

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Why Doesn’t God Heal Amputees?

This is a great question. I mean that. It really is. To be more precise, the question is "why does God seem to heal all types of diseases, but never once heals someone with an amputation?" Don't get me wrong. I know how this question can be asked. This question can be launched from a person who is looking at you with the narrowed eyes of a hunter peering through a rifle ...

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God’s Anger Management Tool

Anger is a difficult thing. The reason it is difficult is because there are two things that are clear from scripture about it. First, anger is not necessarily a sin. Second, most anger is sin. To illustrate the first point, we read of God's anger in the Old Testament, we see Jesus' anger in the temple, and we are instructed in Ephesians 4:26 that we can "be angry yet do ...

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Is Spanking Vigilante Justice?

I have heard it time and time again. People say, "I don't want to spank because I don't want to teach my child to hit." When people say this, it indicates that they have a fundamental misunderstanding about biblical corporal punishment. Therefore, I would like to use this article to define the differences between "discipline" and "hitting." To begin with, I think an ana...

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Book Review: God’s Love

First of all, many will be pleased to know that this isn't even a book, but a booklet, totaling only 16 pages. Those 16 pages focus on one message: God's love is not well represented by such a vague, weak word that is weighed down with unbiblical notions, and instead should be tied to biblical language that makes it the glorious thing it is. The author, David Powlison, ...

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Why Every Christian Is Called to Evangelize

Evangelism is something we are always trying to grow in. Sometimes it is good to review the reality that God really does call each and every one of His children to verbally bring the gospel to spiritually dead people. Below are 8 key biblical reasons why you are called to evangelize. The first and second great commandments are the main heartbeat for evangelism. A person...

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Answering When the Atheist Asks

So, you have just asked your atheist friend the three questions from last week's post. But then the inevitable happens. He asks you the same questions back. Are you ready? This is one of the instances where scripture calls us to be ready to give a defense of our hope (1 Pet. 3:15). While the context for that verse is suffering, it doesn't have to be limited to that. You ...

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The First 3 Most Important Questions For An Atheist

Having a conversation with an Atheist is usually hard and usually scary. Talking with anybody who is totally committed to the opposite of what your life is built upon will be like that. It is especially so when they are looking at you like you are a two year old trying to play chess. In light of these realities, I want to give you some very helpful questions. Questions a...

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God Really Wants You to Pray

We are supposed to pray. We all know that, and yet we still struggle to pray. We remind ourselves of all the promises, all the commands, all the encouragements in scriptures regarding prayer. But alas, we are bent toward self-sufficiency. Let me give you one more weapon to put in your arsenal against self-sufficiency so you can be the earthen vessel through which God's p...

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Preparing Children for a Pornographic Age: One helpful key

Sin complicates everything. It creates situations where there will be pain in every decision. Sometimes, you don't walk into that kind of mess, you are carried into it by a cultural groundswell. Such is the place that every parent finds themselves today. The sexualization of our culture is growing every day and simple avoidance is becoming more and more difficult. Not on...

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REAL HOPE AND REAL DISASTER

People are really good at making the Bible say what they want it to say. There are lots of factors that contribute to this. Not the least of which is a widespread and growing ignorance of what is actually in the Bible. People simply haven't read enough of the Bible to know that what they think it says is absent from and/or refuted by scripture. One area that seems to fi...

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Self-esteem Will Dismantle Your Love

The right tool for the right job; that's the professional's mode of operation. Even in the area of demolition, If you are going to do it effectively, you need the right tools. So today I am asking, what would be a good tool for dismantling someone's effectiveness for Christ. There are plenty of options, but one less noticed is self-esteem. Your self-esteem is killing you...

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Scipture Alone VS. Catholic Sacred Tradition

There are areas of agreement that evangelicals have with Roman Catholics. But there are also massive areas of total disagreement that set the two in opposition. One of the primary areas of disagreement, the one that drives all the rest, is ultimate authority. In every significant discussion on spiritual matters, there will have to be an accepted base of authority. Until ...

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Devotional Mice And The Cheese Factory

You were created to love God and enjoy Him forever. To love someone is to know them, and to love them more means knowing them more. This should be what every child of God is striving for. Therefore, every Christian who wants to follow Jesus will be reading the words of Jesus: the Bible. But sometimes, when reading the Bible, we find ourselves reading something that seems...

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The Slavery That Freedom Requires

On December 14, 2012, Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, hosted an interview with Os Guinnes. The transcripted interview was posted on Al Mohler's blog on March 18, 2013, and is a very interesting discussion about a recent book Os Guinnes published entitled, A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Fu...

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16 Safeguards Against False Teaching

This list was put together by the pastors of Church of the Open Door in Leavenworth, Kansas and myself. 1. Recognize the Presence and Prevalence of False Teachers. 1 John 4:1 "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." "Our generation is exposed to more relig...

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Cue A New View

There are few things more helpful than learning something new and then getting to see it in action. To see it allows your learning to go from theoretical to concrete. But how is that going to happen when you are talking about something that involves amounts of time, money, and effort that you simply cannot create out of thin air? The "Sounds Good" Theory A recent examp...

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This Isn’t A ‘Gotcha’ Argument

I have been preparing for a youth event where I will be doing an apologetics crash course. I subscribe to presuppositional apologetics, believing it is most consistent with the scriptural teachings on the nature of God, revelation, and man's sin just to name a few. In preparation for this class I have been watching some debates and other interviews and interchanges. I h...

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Weird Taste Or Filtered Pure? Dealing With A Relationship Turned Weird

If you and your friends dog piled me, threw me in the trunk of your car, drove me away to a small town and locked me in a small room, but were kind enough to give me a cup of water, I might just know where you took me. If, perchance, you had taken me to the little town where my grandmother lives, I would know it by the cup of water. It will have "that taste." I don't kno...

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