"Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14). Nearly 2000 years ago, Paul wrote that to Christians, to people he included with himself when he said, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:4-5).
I had always thought of the Garden of Gethsemane as some hidden away place. My mind's eye had pictured the Palm Sunday donkey ride as rather long and stretched out. My picture of the Jordan River was more like the Mississippi River. It's not that I didn't understand what the Bible was saying. I had just attached the words of scripture to the pictures my mind developed for them over the years. But then I saw it. And the images that play in my head as I read God's Word all look a little different now.
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Well, it's official. Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season is upon us. I know, the 12 days of Christmas actually start on Dec. 25, but our society can't wait that long to start celebrating. So Christmas creeps up earlier and earlier in the year. I even saw Christmas trees coming out already in October in one local store. But now that Thanksgiving is past, it is full on. Christmas is everywhere.
"Rejoice in the Lord always... Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Last week, I defended my statement that being a church person is really living. But I know how hard our society and our own sinful natures fight against that. I've heard all the arguments against the whole "religious scene." I know it's popular (foolish, but popular) these days to say, "I'm spiritual, just not religious." I've heard so many reasons the "church" world makes life hard. And I know, often the "church" messes up. Often, the real reason for church and religion is pushed to the side, so it does lose its purpose. That doesn't ...
"This is living." Has that statement ever come out of your mouth? Take a minute and think about when. Is it sitting on the beach; sending a rocket of a drive down a picturesque fairway; being squeezed in a hug from your grandkids; enjoying a fantastic meal with people you love? What would make you say, "This is living"?
Have you ever said it about coming to church? Today, I'd like to posit the proposition that doing the church thing - going to church, reading the Bible, reading an article like this, just being a Christian - "THIS is living."
Last week, I left you hanging. I spent 90 percent of my column showing you from God's word that regardless of what you might try to tell yourself - you don't deserve anything good. I know, that doesn't sound like a very nice thing to do. But the truth is - it's the truth. In fact, the wages of sin is death.
"Just keeping it real." I've learned to dread that statement, because it usually comes with something I'd rather not hear. You know, they say it's important for a public speaker to have a good critic - someone to honestly and objectively evaluate how you're communicating, what you're saying, all that. Well, God has certainly blessed me with that in my wife. You see... How can I put this? My wife doesn't worry about hurting my feelings when I ask how it went after I've preached. In fact, she tells me she wants to make ...
It was nearly 20 years ago now. My dad took the opportunity to speak to the court at the trial of the man who killed my sister, his daughter. You see, the man had gotten drunk...again, and gotten behind the wheel...again, even though his license had been taken away, even though he knew better, even though he had been warned and cited and told. All this my dad knew.
You: cute brunette with green eyes shopping with your sister at the mall.
"The church is all about money." You've heard that said, right? How sad when it's true, when good well-meaning Christians start worrying about the budget more than the Bible, when churches show that lack of focus. More accurately, it's when we focus on the wrong thing.
So Paul, in 1 Timothy 6, snaps us back with the very first word of verse 6: "But." You see, just before our text, Paul was warning young Pastor Timothy about false teachers who saw religion as a means for financial gain, those who acted as if the church was all ...
Everybody loves a party, right? I write this article a few days after being on a college campus on game day, about an hour before kickoff. And as I walked, people were mingling and mixing, drinking and dancing, eating, smiling and just having a good time. One guy took it upon himself to run from party to party and start shouting team cheers - and people were happy to join in. It was a celebration.
"What would you do-oo-oo for a Klondike bar?" Have you seen the ads? The guy challenged to listen to his wife instead of looking at the big game on the TV...and then a wife had to actually choose to go see an action movie. The ice cream had better be good, right?
He was one of my childhood heroes. He had won just about any award baseball could give. I didn't see it myself and don't really want to believe it, so I won't use the guy's name, but I'm told that when this Hall of Famer moved out of his home in my friend's subdivision, he left it all behind. Boxes of trophies, including an MVP award, out by the curb. Why? His life had taken some turns, and suddenly, those things didn't matter to him anymore. He gave it all up because to ...
With today's column, I'm starting a series of columns that play off of our church body's theme this year: "Christ's Love, Our Calling." It's all about how Christ's love for you gives you purpose - a calling. And this series looks at what God said about our calling to speak his truth in love. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes: "It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak."
In Luke 13, Jesus said that the door to heaven is narrow. At another place Jesus said, "I am the Gate" (John 10:9). The Greek word is the same. And the picture is the same, isn't it? The only way to heaven is through Jesus.
Now, as we are in this series discussing how love speaks, last week we learned from Jesus how important it is to speak precisely because the door is narrow and easy to miss. This week, we'll see how it stands wide open for all, so we have every reason to speak freely ...
Reading my cousin's emails was sometimes kind of like cracking a code. It was pretty straightforward when she spoke of side trips she was taking and different sites she was seeing. But you had to pay attention to when she spoke of "friends" that she got to talk about "her Best Friend" with.