Recently Pastor Ben was sharing about the importance of holding God’s Holiness in tension with God’s love. In that sermon, he pointed out something I’d never seen before. Perhaps you haven't either. Before I get to that simple yet often hidden nugget let me provide some background. Let’s face it. We often struggle with the different views of God the Bible presents. We see a God of holiness, justice, and wrath in the Old Testament, yet a God of love, forgiveness, and acceptance in the New Testament. So which is it? The best way to navigate that question is to look to Jesus. The simplest way to put this is that when we see Jesus we see the Father. (Colossians 2:9, John 14:9, Hebrews 1:3). Over and over again in the Gospels, we see in Jesus the holiness and the love of God. One st
The powerful blast of an atomic bomb is from the dividing of atoms in a process called fission. What I’m seeing across the church (and in our nation) is something like fission. There is energy and passion released in our divisions. We feel justified since we’re “not like them” and feel empowered as we push them away. This energy of division is easily seen in many areas of life, but in the church, it can only exist because of a lie. The lie that permits our division is fake unity. This fake unity is built around traditions, doctrines, worldviews, and political views. It’s a unity that fools our senses since it looks and feels like unity. After all, we all agree, we’re alike. But it is a unity created by subtraction as unwanted and uncomfortable differences are energetically rejected.
We end our exploration of Jesus’ commands where we began. We started with Jesus’ final command, often called the Great Commission. In that first article, we examined the command to make disciples, not in the sense of force but in the sense of inviting others to follow Jesus. But in that first look we ended with a question – What are the commands Jesus is instructing His followers to obey and teach? That question launched the journey called “Jesus Says.” To refresh our memories. Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:19–20, NIV) This simplest way to phr
Let’s say for a moment that we’re trying to find a radio transmitter hidden in a barren desert. We mark one point and gain a general direction. We move to another spot which narrows down the area even more. But to precisely locate the transmitter we need a third point. Then using that information we can triangulate the position of the transmitter. That process of triangulation is illuminating as we consider our next Jesus Says command. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth m
We all have a sense of perfect. We know what we like and what we don’t. Perhaps we can describe our perfect day. Our perfect spouse. How perfect children would behave? The problem is that perfect demands 100% accuracy. Deviate by .00000000000001 and the perfect is only near perfect. But our understanding of perfect is not the Bible’s understanding. Which is both a relief and a challenge. Jesus closes his explanation about love by saying, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, NASB95) If “perfect” means 100% accuracy without any deviation, then we’re off the hook. It is literally impossible for us to be perfect like God is perfect. He’s God! All-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God! We know that Jesus would not give us an impossible task so
By Kerry Rohman - As an adult, removing myself from chaos sounds peaceful and relaxing. As a child, however, I thought this time of sitting out was boring, seemed like an eternity, and well, absolutely terrible. Like mother, like daughter. This week, my five-year-old daughter, Ava, had to experience the ever-dreaded TIME OUT. Her Legos, Barbies, and Shopkins would not magically clean up themselves as she hoped. Moping around and complaining didn’t work either to get her out of her job. Right when I sent Ava to the brown owl beanbag, tears started flowing down her face, and then came the phrase, “You don’t love me anymore!” Whether she was trying to be manipulative is not the point. The point is that I had a choice to make. And, in this moment of childish rebellion and stinging words, I
Sometimes I’m surprised by the meaning of words. Even common everyday words can mean something different than our typical usage of them. I’m not talking about slang terms although there’s always a few surprises there as well. Who would have thought that chill means something other than chill? Take the everyday word “ought.” Most of the time we use it as a kind of suggestion. “You ought to change your oil.” I was surprised to discover that “ought” is more powerful than a simple suggestion. Consider this verse. John said, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16, NASB95) In my normal everyday usage, “ought” sounds like a pleasant suggestion. “Yep, we ought to love each other. It would be a really nice
The world is filled with lists. Collections of words to remind us what we need to pick up on our next shopping trip. Bullet points of an agenda or presentation. Bucket lists of things we want to do before we die. The Bible has its share of lists as well. The Beatitudes are a kind of list. So is Paul's description of the nine fruit of the Spirit. Lists help us break down the complex into easier to remember bite-sized chunks or remind us of the details contained in a whole. Our next step in our walk through 2nd Peter also presents a list. Peter's List Peter encouraged, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your...
Have you ever rode a unicycle? How about a pogo stick? Or perhaps you have tried hopping around on one leg. All are doable but not the most stable things in the world. It takes great effort and concentration to maintain balance when there is only one point of contact. Faith works like that too. Focusing only on faith is like trying to ride a unicycle. The hard truth is that faith never stands alone. It is one leg of a comfortable and inviting chair. In a chapter that is often reserved for weddings, Paul describes love in 1 Corinthians 13. In those poetic words there is also a warning about faith. “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2, NASB9
It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But is beauty only determined by the one observing or is there more to the story? This is not some strange philosophical pondering. We need to explore this to understand and rethink what Paul meant by dwell on whatever is lovely. Unlike truth, honor, and justice which are highly objective, lovely appears to be in the eye of the beholder. Or is it? Welcome to our reThink48 series as we consider Paul’s instruction to the Philippians. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, NASB95) As you’ve seen from above, this entry explores “wh
They say that a goldfish doesn’t notice the water around it. That living in water is so natural and common that they take no thought of it. I wonder sometimes if the same isn’t true for us. Could there be something about our lives that is so common that we don’t take thought of it very often? The direct metaphor between fish and us would be the air around us or the earth beneath our feet. But I think that there is something even more pervasive or even prevalent than those examples. To perceive this “thing” we must for a moment shut off the busyness of life, push aside our preconceptions of the world around us, and lay down our previous experiences. In short, we must look past all the distractions of what we regularly see for just a moment. So often we see the Bible, (no that’s not
Twenty-four weeks ago we began a journey. We opened Peter’s first letter to the persecuted believers of Asia Minor and chose to walk through it instead of rushing through it. Along the way, we noticed familiar verses and discovered new vistas. We watched as Peter returned several times to his main themes of suffering, triumph, and encouragement. Even in these last few closing verses, those same themes reverberate. Peter closed his letter in this way. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that