Archives for June 2017

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Abortion and Grace

How can God justly forgive you? The theological answer: it’s not the relative badness of one’s sins that matters, but the worth of the sacrifice given by God, for the forgiveness of sins. Leave in place the badness of what Bundy, Duch and you have done. Do not minimize it for a moment. But Jesus, the perfect Son of God, God in flesh, was an even greater, infinitely mor...

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Glory Around a Table

Where is God glorified most in the life of our church? I would argue that he is often most glorified in Community Groups. To explain, I quote John Piper, on the “diverse excellencies” of Jesus:  “we admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility; • we admire him for his transcendence, but even more because h...

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Characteristics of Faithful, Useful Groups, Over the Long-Term

There are three common characteristics of Community or Discipleship Groups or friendships that are faithful and useful and healthy over the long-term: • Deliberately Gospeled • Attentive Friendship • Consistently Missional:...

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Needing a Bigger Discomfort

I am uncomfortable, at times, with living in contrast to the world. There exists in me a residual desire - shrinking but still there - to be friends with the world. I’m much more comfortable standing in contrast to this or that denomination than against the philosophies of this world. I need to grow in tolerating the discomfort of being increasingly different from th...

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Stress, Revealer of Idols

The term “idolatry” is big and bad. It probably conjures pictures of bad Israelites and really bad Babylonians doing bad sacrificial, religious acts, in defiance of the one true God. That’s all true. But in the whole of the Bible, the term idolatry came to mean a constellation of faith, deeds, beliefs, affections, and even resting, in antipathy to the one...

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The Shack and The Benedict Option

I have often been asked about The Shack, the book and movie that portray God in fascinating but unbiblical ways. Another book, The Benedict Option, has resonated with many lately. Its author commends seceding from the culture, like Benedectine monks of the sixth century. Where the two books intersect reveals an inflection point for us. The Shack portrays a god that’...

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Your Ministry

What does “ministry” look like? “You’re asking me, pastor?!” Yes, you, because Scripture plainly places ministry at the feet of Joe and Joan Pewsitter: “And he gave apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints [Joe and Joan Pewsitter] for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of...

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Keep Yourselves in His Love

The most repeated phrase in Scripture is “the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever”. It’s no coincidence that Paul ends his great gospel “song” of Romans 1-8 by singing of God’s love: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers nor height nor depth, nor ...

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The Sin Fighter

Last week’s sermon said that Christians actively “fight sin in one another, and forgive constantly”. There is perhaps no better time than Good Friday to revisit what this means. It does not mean constantly criticizing one another; gossiping about one another; “right-sizing” one another; or judging one another by one moment, instead of the dir...

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The Importance of Lament

“What then shall we say to these things?”, to suffering and the gospel? Paul gives three answers in Romans 8. The first two answers are obvious: he gives proof that God loves us (31b-35), and then the future-facing promise of that proven love, that it will never fail (37-39). But in between, in verse 36, Paul quotes Psalm 44:22, which is a complaint to God, tha...

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Community Distinctives

The fact of community, and the mode of community, are two different things in the church. This is different from the world, where we pursue a mode of community - could be Boy Scouts, Rotary, or just being neighborly - because we think that will create community. But God reverses that order in the church. We are already a community, created by Him, by uniting us by faith to...

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Real Life Turning on Hope

All of life turns on what we think of God, in fleeting moments. Whether we are conscious of it or not, our actions start with a subtle two-step of trust and hope. A common example: A husband (OK, you got me - me) is feeling mildly resentful about something his wife said or did (which for the life of me I cannot remember now exactly what it was). Their normal practice is t...

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Changing Abortion: Outside the Clinic, or In the Coffeeshop?

Recently a conversation turned to the subject of abortion, and the question was asked, what did I think about going to a clinic, and talking to women as they walked in? Without giving specific guidance, some questions come to mind that I hope give you clarity about how you might engage in a particular issue like abortion: First, we should think about problems both systemi...

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