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  • Featured Image … so that no one can buy or sell

    Just a thought experiment here…

    For those of you who care, the end times position I hold to is called “amillennialism”. If that term is unfamiliar to you, let me help … are you familiar with the Left Behind book series?  If so, it is NOT that.  Not really close.  Except that both views hold to the future return of Jesus.

    Given that, my view of the end times is really quite different than most of contemporary Christianity, as is my understanding of the “mark of the beast.”  Almost every discussion of the end times involves the topic of “the mark of the beast” and what it could be.  Many (most?) people think it is a physical mark, many (most?) people think it is something like a chip, etc.

    I’m not one of those people.

    Here are two of the five “mark of the beast” passages: Continue reading  Post ID 390



  • Featured Image Christian, would you fail the “religious test”?

    I have attempted to stay away from political posts this year, unless such topics have a direct line to or from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    In the past week, there have been a few overtly political events that are rooted in the utter rejection of the truth of the gospel, and one of them involves a man who many Christians supported for president, Bernie Sanders, the so called hero of the common man.  But Sanders has come out squarely against both Jesus and Article 6 of the Constitution. Continue reading  Post ID 378



  • Featured Image Who shapes your worship?

    Jeremiah 18:1-4 (ESV) (1) The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: (2) “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” (3) So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. (4) And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

    Worship is so much more than singing, but there is so much worship in singing.

    I’m reminded of that when I think of the songs we sang with the college students at The Salt Company in Ames.

    I was an orphan, lost at the fall;
    Running away when I’d hear you call,
    But Father, you worked your will.
    I had no righteousness of my own
    I had no right to draw near your throne,
    But Father, you loved me still.

    And in love, before you laid the world’s foundation,
    You predestined to adopt me as your own.
    You have raised me up so high above my station;
    I’m a child of God by grace, and grace alone

    Continue reading  Post ID 366



  • Featured Image Christmas…so much more than a baby in a manger.

    Christmas is coming.

    More than presents, more than time off of work, this season makes me think of who Christmas is really all about. It makes me think of who I really am, and what Christ came to do for me, with me, and through me.

    It makes me appreciate that Jesus didn’t simply live, die, and rise again, only to leave and never come back. He promised that He would return after making a place for His people, after making all things new…that He would return to gather them from every tribe, tongue and nation…that He would return, not as He first came – as a helpless baby, but that He would return as a King forever…as THE ONLY King forever.

    I rejoice in everything He promised, everything mentioned above, but there is more in which to rejoice.

    In this interlude, He has given us His Spirit as the Helper, the Comforter, the Guide.

    And I rejoice that He left us His word, His truth. In the intermission, while we wait for all of His promises to be fulfilled, for Him to return to the world’s stage, we wait with His word…His unchanging word…His true word. And His Spirit who guides us with that truth, who enlightens that truth for us, and who changes us by that truth.

    He has spoken.

    And He now speaks through His word.

    From the time He first spoke the universe into existence until now, His word has remained unchanged. His truth is still truth. Though nations change, though people live and die, though cultures shift, though our ideas of right and wrong become less concerned with actual right and wrong and more concerned with what we desire, His word has not changed.

    And as much as we want to change it, as much as we want to deny it, as much as we ignore it, God’s word stands forever.  And everything He has said that was recorded for us by the men He chose, still stands.

    If you call yourself a Christian, do you believe this?

    If you call yourself a Christian, do you rejoice in God’s revealed truth as much as you profess to love His Son?

    And if you say you love Jesus, do you listen to His word? Do you obey His commands?

    Is Jesus “all about the relationship” with you?  What about His demands on your life?

    Because He has demands…

    Matthew 16:24–26 (ESV) (24) Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (25) For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (26) For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

    If I say I loved my wife, but ignored her words, what would that say about my love for her?

    If I say I loved my wife, but constantly tried to find ways around her requests of me, what would that say about my love for her?

    Think on this as you read headlines about “that couple on HGTV who DARES to attend a church that hates homosexuals.”

    Think on this as you read the charges and realize that they are nothing more than false accusations. This couple’s crime is simply believing what Jesus said about sexual relationships, and trying to live in light of that belief. They do not hate. In fact, if they are like EVERY OTHER Christian I know, they actually love the very people who accuse them of hate.

    To “that couple on HGTV”, that couple who is being hounded for the crime of believing what Jesus taught, I leave these words of encouragement…

    1 Peter 4:12–19 (ESV) (12) Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (13) But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (14) If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. (16) Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (17) For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (18) And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (19) Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

    But think on this also, especially verse 15, as you contemplate how to respond to those who would level false accusations – Jesus was falsely accused too, and what was His response?

    He spoke truth. He acted according to His purpose. And He died for His people – a people who pounded the nails into His flesh, mocked Him, scorned Him, beat Him, ignored Him, denied Him, and greatly sinned against Him for thousands of years.

    So what am I to do? I cannot determine who is to be forgiven – I am not the God the Father. I cannot die and rise for the forgiveness of the sins of those who are faithless – I am not God the Son. I cannot change hearts – I am not God the Holy Spirit.

    But I can speak truth…but only if I know it. God has spoken to us, and if I have any hope of addressing the sin in this world, including my own, I must listen. I must study. I must read. I must pray. I must be transformed. I must love truth.

    And I must love those who would sin against me.

    (Matthew 5:43-48 ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    Jesus came to this earth for people such as this. And while He was on this earth, He loved with a perfect love that calls out of death into life, those who sinned against Him. Even now, while He is preparing a place for His people, He is still calling, still loving, still making the dead live.

    This is what Christmas celebrates. It is not simply “Jesus”, it is everything Jesus was born to do, did do, and still does. Which certainly includes the celebration of His birth and the expectation of His return.

    But it also includes a celebration of His word.

    Because we cannot say we love Him and ignore His words.

    (John 14:15-17 ESV) “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

     



  • Featured Image A stone of stumbling…a rock of offense

    Romans 9:30–33 (ESV) (30) What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; (31) but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. (32) Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, (33) as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

    In case you hadn’t heard, the gospel is offensive.

    1 Peter 2:7–8 (ESV) (7) So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” (8) and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

    The gospel (good news) actually begins with bad news. Very bad news.

    That bad news? You are a disobedient criminal (sinner, wicked, corrupt, pick whatever synonym you want) by nature and by choice.  Wanna hear worse news?  Payment for your crimes is demanded and will come due.

    Can it get even worse?

    Consider this … that payment that is due is made throughout eternity, with no chance of parole. No bail. No visitation.

    Offended?

    Nobody wants to hear that they are a criminal facing an eternal prison. Nobody wants to hear that no matter how hard they try, their best will never be good enough to earn them a stay of execution.

    There is no reduced sentence for good behavior.

    And lest you think it’s “just them”, this prison sentence isn’t just for Joe who thinks he’s a woman, Sue who married her girlfriend, Jim who he beat his wife, or Bob who’s a creeper, it’s all encompassing – the gospel leaves no room for “acceptable” rebellion …

    Romans 3:10–19 (ESV) (10) as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (11) no one understands; no one seeks for God. (12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (13) “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” (14) “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (15) “Their feet are swift to shed blood; (16) in their paths are ruin and misery, (17) and the way of peace they have not known.” (18) “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (19) Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

    Notice carefully what Paul says it is that causes of all of this – not that “Joe thinks he’s a woman” or “Sue married her girlfriend” or “Jim beat his wife” or “Bob looks at women lustfully.”

    Far from it!  By quoting Isaiah, Paul says that the reason everyone has “become worthless” is not the individual ways in which sin manifests itself in our lives, it’s this:

    “All have turned aside.”

    We have all turned aside from and rejected God. We have all spit in his face. We have all thought that we know better. We have replaced the true God with ourselves.  Even when we thought more highly of ourselves.  Even when we thought that we didn’t really hate God when we only ignored Him most of the time.

    Yeah … that was hatred.  Calling it something else to make yourself feel better about your rebellion doesn’t change what it is or was.

    Rebellion.  God is your king regardless of whether or not we acknowledge it.

    And we replaced Him with anything else because “Ain’t nobody telling me what I can and can’t do!”

    And that rebellion, no matter how it plays out in our lives, is worthy of death.  Which leaves us with only two options (that is, if we don’t want the death penalty):

    1. I can pay for my own crimes for eternity
    2. someone else, someone who is able, can pay for my crimes

    And here is why the gospel is good news.

    The good news, though it starts off with a death sentence, ends with the hope of freedom! That the death sentence that we all deserve was already carried out, on a cross, 2000 years ago, on a hill outside of Jerusalem.  Executed by the only righteous judge in the entire universe, against the only person in the entire universe whose humanity demonstrated that he deserved life – someone who willingly chose to take the bullet for his enemies.

    Romans 5:6–11 (ESV) (6) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— (8) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (10) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (11) More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    There is only one way to be pardoned, one way to be free, and it goes right through the person of Jesus the Messiah.

    Acts 4:8–12 (ESV) (8) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, (9) if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, (10) let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. (11) This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (12) And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    And yet, even in that great news, there is offense…

    John 14:1–7 (ESV) (1) “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (2) In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (4) And you know the way to where I am going.” (5) Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (7) If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

    The “no one” that Jesus is referring to is literally “no one.”  Not one person in existence.  Not one person who has ever lived, is currently living, or who will live from now until the end of time.  Not you, not me, not anybody in the history of forever has any hope throughout forever except through faith in Jesus.

    Could it be that some of the best news of the gospel is perhaps the most offensive thing about it?  That you can do nothing to earn grace, nothing to deserve a pardon.  You can’t “out-good” your bad.  You can’t work off your sentence.

    And perhaps the saddest thing is that we try so hard.  Only to fail so miserably.  It never ends well when we try to do Jesus’ job for Him.

    And oh how we try.

    Remember Paul’s admonition?  Remember the condemnation he proclaimed?  That we have all turned away from God?

    Now hear the hope – turn away from yourself and trust in Jesus as your only hope of pardon, as your only escape from the eternal prison that awaits you, and set your eyes on this…

    Revelation 21:1–5 (ESV) (1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (2) And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (4) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (5) And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

    He is powerful to make all things new.

    Even you.



  • Featured Image Eternity in the echo chamber

    In the wake of the horrific Orlando murders, I am reminded of conversations about death throughout the years that my friends and I have had with various people – many of whom claim no particular allegiance to Christ or Christianity, and some of whom are avowed atheists.  These conversations are good and necessary – we should all be aware that our life is a vapor, here today, gone tomorrow.  Even atheists believe that they could die tomorrow, we all could.

    Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow.

    In these conversations that we have had, we have noticed a few things common in all of them:

    1. Almost everyone believes that there is something after death
    2. Almost everyone believes that they will be in a better place after we die
    3. Almost everyone believes that Omar Mateen is not in a better place

    And almost everyone believes that Omar Mateen is not in a better place for this reason – that he deserves to be punished for what he did. Continue reading  Post ID 327



  • Featured Image #lovewins, logic, and bigotry

    Recent events should be clarifying a ton of things for everyone.

    Should be.

    But the clarity that has been reached is probably something many of you already expected.  It has become crystal clear…this country is full of bigotry, hatemongering, phobia, and hypocrisy.  Those darn Christians, right?

    Wrong.

    It is interesting to me how many of the same people who were celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision redefining marriage with #lovewins, are now threatening a dentist with death, and having a total meltdown with crass name calling and profanity laced tirades against anyone who would dare, DARE, chastise Planned Parenthood for murdering children.

    It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

    Continue reading  Post ID 235



  • Featured Image With their heads in the sand…

    Christians know that the gospel is offensive. Isaiah says it. Jesus says it. Paul says it. The entirety of redemptive history testifies to it.

    But that can’t stop us from proclaiming it …

    (Galatians 5:11 ESV) But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.

    … and people hate it …

    (John 3:18-20 ESV) [18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. [19] And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. [20] For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

    And we see that everywhere today – nobody wants to be called a sinner.  It’s not fun to face your sin and understand what it really is.

    It’s not fun to be exposed.

    Continue reading  Post ID 261



  • Featured Image Planned Parenthood and the real issue

    I woke up this morning thinking about the potential to be disheartened at the support for Planned Parenthood I’ve seen the past couple of weeks. But then I remembered a few things about how Jesus saved me, about how He will build His church, about how He will judge the wicked, and about how vengeance is His.

    And then I remembered something else – the real issue in this recent abortion discussion is not “selling” body parts. The real issue is that it’s legal for a woman to kill a child for any reason she wants to give.

    And those of us who want to protect children are letting ourselves get sidetracked.

    The people who support planned parenthood have a completely consistent argument – “It’s OK for us to kill babies so we might as well use their parts for something.” That is the argument, but they miss the point. The point, of course, is that “No, it is NOT OK to kill babies.”

    I’m waiting for those who support Planned Parenthood to support them whole hog and say “Yes, I believe that it is OK to kill human babies, against their will, and it’s OK to use their parts for whatever purpose we want.”

    Up until now, they have said “it’s just a clump of cells”. Up until now, they have said “a woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her body.” Up until now, they have said “It’s about health care.”

    And they are still saying it even now. Despite the science. Despite the admissions by Planned Parenthood.

    Continue reading  Post ID 252



  • Featured Image Jesus is Risen!

    Up from the grave He arose!
    With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
    He rose a victor from the dark domain
    And He lives forever with His saints to reign.

    He arose!
    He arose!
    Hallelujah Christ arose!

    1 Corinthians 15:50–58 (ESV) (50) I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (51) Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (53) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (54) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (55) “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (56) The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

    Today is the celebration that Jesus defeated death forever for those who believe in Him.  Today, we celebrate, not because we get chocolate and candy, but because Jesus’ tomb is empty.  Today, we celebrate that because of Jesus, those who believe will never face the wrath of God.

    Today, we celebrate the promise of eternal life, because Jesus is alive forevermore!

    Today, we celebrate Jesus.

    John 14:6 (ESV) (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    What are you celebrating today?

    Have an AWESOME resurrection day, and glorify Christ in your coming and going, in your work and play, in your eating, in your family!

    John 11:25–26 (ESV) (25) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (26) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”