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Articles By Author - Jonathan E. Scharf


Beloved, Be Loving

"Dearly Beloved…" That's the way I started out my last wedding sermon. I know it's a little bit of a throwback. We don't call too many people "beloved" anymore, but I hope you know what I mean. Today, I want to think about why that's a perfect way to greet one another…"beloved."

September 11, 2014 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Blessed to serve

You call yourself a Christian, right? You do realize that just by doing that, you are taking on a very specific job description. You are now "His witnesses". You are the "light of the world" and the "salt of the earth". You are "Christ's ambassadors", a "holy priesthood" you are to be "Declaring the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light". Do I have to go on? Realize it - you have a job, whether you like it or not, you are blessed to serve. There is no such thing as a part ...

August 28, 2014 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Scharf: What good are words?

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." You've heard that, right? How about, "The pen is mightier than the sword"? I'm sure you've heard both. But both can't be true. Which is it? Do words have no power or are they more powerful than armies and tanks?

August 14, 2014 | Jonathan E. Scharf | RELIGION


He's got plans

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God said that (Jeremiah 29:11). Have you ever felt like saying, "Yeah, right" when you hear it? Intellectually, we can say that we agree. We know God is in control and he knows what he's doing and he's working for our good. We can say that with our mouths….but do our hearts always buy it? Do we always live like it?

August 07, 2014 | Jonathan E. Scharf | RELIGION


Do not be afraid — you are valuable

Last week, we saw how intimidating it is to see what God expects of us as Christians. If you missed it, check out the 7/13/14 sermon at www.abidinggrace.com. For now, let's just say that Jesus made it pretty clear that we'd suffer for following him. Only once we realize what God expects of us and how far we fall short, and the punishment we should have for that, only then are we ready to read the rest of this section of Scripture where Jesus sends out his disciples as workers in his harvest field.

July 31, 2014 | Jonathan E. Scharf | RELIGION


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Archive By Author - Jonathan E. Scharf


Grace Notes: The price of freedom

You know the saying: "Freedom is not free." As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July this weekend, it's important to appreciate that. Think of how much so many have given so that you could be reading this in peace. Think of the lives given so that we can be so comfortable in our security that seeing things exploding in the sky this weekend will not be scary.

July 22, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: Be built up

Here's a quandary for you. When you see a building going up - who gets the credit? Is it the contractor, the supplier, the fund-raiser? Or what about the architect, or the laborers? I know that a whole bunch of people will be at least partially taking credit for my church's new building. The contractor and the stone supplier and the stained glass guy have already asked for pictures to use in their advertising. I'm sure the architect will have our picture up in his office soon, and I'm sure that, before long, the foundation that gave ...

July 16, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: Receive with believing hearts

"The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace." For 25 centuries, believers have been holding God to these promises that he gave us to use as we bless each other. But what exactly are these words saying?

July 09, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: Hold the Lord to his promises

If you've been in church recently and made it until the end of the service, chances are you've heard the words of the section of Scripture we're looking at today - Numbers 6:22-27. I know - there are a ton of differences in worship styles between all sorts of different kinds of churches, but this is one place where there isn't all that much difference.

June 25, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: Victory of Life

She was a lucky lady. Of all the funerals going on that day, it was her son's that Jesus happened to meet on the road. Talk about good fortune. But her good fortune had started even before Jesus showed up. This story is recorded in Luke 7:11-17. The widow was getting ready to bury her son when Jesus happened upon the funeral procession and raised the young man. She's the one I'm calling lucky. You see, her child had died.

Let me explain why I'm calling that good. If you've ever seen the fans ...

June 18, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: My faith looks up to thee

"My faith looks up to thee." That's a classic line from a great hymn, and it's a great sentiment. Too bad, all too often it's a lie. As much as we might say it and pretend like it is true - all too often, our sinful pride gets our faith to look in to me instead of up to thee.

June 11, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: The Cup of Victory

The World Cup is coming. It's possible you might not have noticed it here yet. The first games are still a week away and the US National Team doesn't play until next Saturday, but in some parts of the world... Wow! It is already consuming headlines. It's such a media buzz that, in those places, if you weren't aware of it, you were probably in a coma.

June 04, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: On love and laying down one’s life

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Jesus said that. He said it on a day we call Maundy Thursday. He said that the day he handed himself over to the Jewish and Roman authorities. He said that the day before he died on that cross… for us. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
We'd have to agree, huh? There's nothing more one could give, right? I think of those soldiers willing to do just that, and I stop ...

May 28, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: The story of our stained glass

Our church, Abiding Grace, is in a building project. Last night, we had one of the coolest opportunities of the whole planning process. We got to meet with the artist who is creating our stained glass windows. That was fun - picturing how it will all look - anticipating how these windows will be communicating to all who see them something special - something about God and his grace for them.

Now, before you read on, ask yourself what image you would put in the front and center window. What would you consider to be the most important thing to communicate with those ...

May 21, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | RELIGION


Grace Notes: Live like the church

Last week, God's Word in First Peter 2 showed us that we are the Church, not a building, but a body of believers. But we only got part of the way through that text. Today, let's look at what that means. Today, let's look at how that changes your life. Peter writes this about you, the Church, the ones who see Jesus as the living Stone:

"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into ...

May 14, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: The members are the church

Over here at Abiding Grace, we are building our church. It's a pretty exciting time. The walls are up. The roof is just about up. The utilities are going in. Finally. After all this time planning, preparing and permitting, praying and paying, we are building our church. Are you excited? You know, when we got together to talk about building our building, we said we wanted something that "looks like a church," right? …Something that people wouldn't get confused with an office building or someone's house. It was supposed to "look like a church." Have you seen ...

May 07, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: The Lord is returned, part II

Last week, we looked at John 21:1-14 and marveled at what it meant for those disciples that Jesus appeared to them again after all their failures. Last week, we read in awe of how Jesus keeps coming to us in his word with his forgiveness even after all of our failures. Today, I want to explore that third appearance Jesus made to his disciples and see how all of the details of this appearance highlight just how awesome our Savior is. Let's look again at what it means that this guy in the text "is the Lord."

April 30, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: Why is attendance higher on Easter?

Happy Easter. Yes, we're still celebrating Easter. Let me tell you why that is so important. A couple weeks ago, we saw the angels telling those women at the tomb to "remember" what Jesus had said and "remember" what that meant. That week, my article probably used the word "remember" 20 times. Then, last week, the word was "believe" as Thomas got his doubts smashed by the absolute facts of the truth that Christ is risen.

April 23, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: Believing Easter changes everything

Last week, I wrote about how one little task changes entire lives: Just Remember! The women at Jesus' empty tomb went from shock and sorrow to hope and joy because they were reminded of Jesus' promises. They remembered that they should have expected this victory. They should know it: Jesus lives. And that means your life has purpose.

April 16, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: Some things to remember

What makes that picture bring tears to your eyes? What makes that song bring a smile to your face? Or, on the flipside, what makes that voice to you like fingernails on a chalkboard? One thing - memories. Memories change all your experiences; they fill your life with emotion. Now, the big thing is - what are you remembering? Because what you remember will change your life, for good or bad.

April 09, 2010 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


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