“Gospel Roots”

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. …

Acts 13:16–18

Paul and his companions move from Crete to the mainland to continue their mission. When they come to Pisidian Antioch (they were sent out from a different Antioch, in Syria), they enter into the synagogue and are invited to share a word with the people.

We will get into Paul’s gospel next week, but for now, let’s look at Paul’s introduction as he steps out onto common ground with his audience. The goal is to draw some encouragement as believers from some core truths (often overlooked) surrounding our faith.

1. Our faith is rooted in History. (*His Story*)

Paul begins with the call of Abraham. He could have begun with Genesis. When Luke begins his genealogy of the Christ in his gospel he begins with Adam (and therefore with creation).

It is significant to remember that our faith is rooted in history, that is to say, history is HIS story.

Some seek to diminish these historical roots, or they reason that the historical element is irrelevant but we cannot dismiss the historical element of our faith as merely the wrapping or context for a religious tale. Our faith is true because the history surrounding is true.

Some – even some who would claim the name of Christ – dismiss pieces of our faith history as irrelevant. They dismiss the virgin birth, they spiritualize the resurrection, and they seek to rationalize the miracles.

These are not small errors.

It is significant that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He fulfilled prophesies, performed miracles, and that He literally preached the gospel on the actual hills of Galilee and Judea. 

It matters that He was betrayed and violently executed… and then literally raised from the dead.

More than that: David, Solomon, Hezekiah were real kings; Lachish, Bethlehem, Jericho were real places. The walls of Jericho really fell, The Red Sea really split, and the first Passover happened just as Exodus tells us.

Moses was REAL. Abraham was REAL. Noah and his ark were REAL. And, while we’re at it, Adam stands as the REAL original man, the first of the human race, created by the hand of God and animated by His Spirit.

Our faith is grounded in hisdotry and that also means that history is in the hands of our Lord and He is guiding it according to His will and aiming it into eternity.  

Because God has been over the unfolding of history, we also know Him to be overseeing the present day unveiling of history. Therefore, we can live in confidence and hope.

2. Our faith is founded on His promises.

Because God is sovereignly sitting over history, we can trust His ability to fulfill every one of His promises. His Word CANNOT FAIL. His plans are never in question, His purposes are never in doubt, and His promises are never uncertain. We can TRUST Him.

Even when the process takes longer than we desire, (I mean, 450 years for the conquest), and even when the path is darker than we would choose, He never leaves us or forsakes us.

His ways are right, good, true, and loving. He gives strength to the weary and hope to the hopeless. He draws near to the orphan and widow. He hears the cries of His people & His presence comes close.

And we never need to fear that God’s faithfulness will fail on our account either, for…

3. Our faith is secured by His faithfulness

David faithfully became king and his offspring, the Messiah, faithfully arrived. David, by God’s own testimony, is remembered as a Man after God’s own heart who did all that God purposed for him to do.

The fulfillment of HIS promises are secured by HIS unfailing faithfulness and not ours. They are brought to fruition by HIS strength and not our own ability.

In the same way, God’s purposes in your life will be fulfilled because of God’s faithfulness and not your resources.

Sure, our role is important. It is an evidence of God’s working and is, in part, a means by which He works. Yet, our effort and giftedness is not where our confidence lies, and, consequently, our lack of giftedness or inferior ability cannot be the reason we fail.

Labor, work, and strive… but do so with His strength and with a confidence in His faithfulness. This is Paul’s example and our command.

For the entire message, “Gospel Roots” click here to watch Sunday’s wintery livestream.

“Gospel Battle”

[This Jewish false prophet] was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

Acts 13:7-8

As Paul and his companions launch out on mission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, their first experience serves to remind us all about what Christian mission – and Christian living – involves.

1.  The Christian Life is one of hopeful mission.

Living with Christ, for Christ, on mission is FULL OF HOPE!

Barnabus, Saul, and their company have every reason to begin this mission with all hope and expectation. They are about to launch out on a mission clearly prompted by the Holy Spirit and led by godly men.

The personnel is qualified, the mission is anointed, and the strategy seems sound. Not only that, the destination is amazing. Cyprus is like Hawaii or the Bahamas of the Mediterranean, who wouldn’t want to be called to this rich land and luxurious island?

But there’s more. While the is legitimate hope and right expectation… this life is also hard.

2.  The Christian Life is a life of hard opposition.

We don’t know how successful their 90-mile trip across the island was, but we do know things got hard in the capital. As they enjoy an invitation from the proconsul to share the gospel of Christ, the proconcul’s oracle, a Jewish magician (a walking oxymoron) seeks to frustrate their message and sabotage their mission.

Spiritual warfare is not a figurative term, and it is not the make-believe fictional writers. Spiritual warfare is very real and we must not allow sensationalized imaginations rob us it’s seriousness and reality.

Spiritual warfare, at its core is any OPPOSITION to the gospel. And, make no mistake, the world is at was over the gospel. The gospel faces perpetual opposition because people resist giving up power and influence and privilege. To labor for the gospel is to enter into spiritual battle.

The challenge, therefore, it to hold onto hope and promise, while avoiding disillusionment.
(John Mark – v.13)

Finally, we recognize that hope and promise must be maintained and the battle is worth it because…

3.  The Christian Life of joy & fruitfulness.

Paul’s life & ministry give evidence of the the joy and fruitfulness available to Christ’s Gospel-people. Foloow Paul in Acts and read the letters he writes and you will witness the relationships he makes, the lives that are changed, and the joy that he experiences even in hardship.

We have been sent out at His people, to bear His image and if we take our task seriously, we will encounter opposition. At the same time, when we choose to embrace His calling, step out in faith, and pursue mission… we will experience amazing wonder and joy.

We could avoid suffering… just live on the fringe, accept mediocrity, react reasonably and rationally. We could avoid the challenge of holiness, remain content with a little knowledge of God, and not commit fully to a life on mission. But then we also sacrifice joy, adventure, fulfillment, wonder, and a deeper knowledge of our Savior.

Dwight L. Moody is quoted saying, “Do not fear failure; fear succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

Failure does not need to keep us from engaging in our gospel calling — living our faith boldly and sharing the gospel intentionally. We have everything we need to be faithful and fruitful. The proconsul believed did not believe because a super-believer performed some supr-act. He beleived because “he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” (v.12)

Paul and his team overcome opposition by the Spirit and the Word. We have these same resources at our disposal. So let’s trust God’s Word to shape our lives and guide our ministry and reveal our calling.

“Gospel Soil”

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Acts 13:1-3

How does the GOSPEL grow??

The first twelve chapters of Acts has focused on Jerusalem, Peter, and establishing the gospel in the land of Palestine. Chapter 13 marks a transition form Peter to Paul, from Jerusalem to Rome, and from establishing the gospel to spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

If our church is going to be used of God to continue His mission into our part of the world, we can learn from Paul and his ministry, beginning with the church that first sent him out. The church at Antioch is the first church to intentionally seek to take the gospel to other peoples. It is the first time in Scripture that anyone is deliberately sent out so that others can hear the gospel and be reconciled to God.

Just a couple notes on the soil from which this gospel mission breaks forth.

(1) Just a brief note concerning the unity of this Gospel Soil. We do not know who started the churchi n Antioch, whether it was planted by those who went home after Pentecost or if belevers scattered by persecution landed here. Either way we have a diverse group (note the leadership in verse 1) of ordinary beleivers who are together in prayer, studying God’s Word, and learning to deny themselves to seek and serve the Lord.

That leads to the second observation…

(2) Let’s focus on what is nourishing this Gospel Soil: a commitment to the Word, a devotion to prayer, and a denial of self.

All to often when most people talk about “apostolic ministry” or “being a New Testament church” or living “New Testament Christianity” their focus is not a New Testament focus? They choose, instead, to focus on miracles or speaking in tongues or spiritual authority but they do not talk about a commitment to the Word (worship), a devotion to humble prayer, or denial of self (fasting).

But that’s what we see the early church doing. Since Pentecost, we have seen them devote themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And here we see them gathered: worshiping & praying & fasting.

What can we learn from this pattern?

  • Gospel mission should be rooted in the local church. God has entrusted the gospel to local bodies of believers, diverse group come together for the purpose of studying the word and encouraging one another, being equipped to live faithful and missional lives.

(3) Lastly, we must remember that we have a powerul ally in the Holy Spirit. We can do nothing apart from the ministry of His Holy Spirit.

We cannot discern wisdom and forsake compromise without the Holy Spirit. We have no power to convict sinners, we have no strength to persevere, we have no love to give to one another, apart from the working of His Spirit within us.

And how does the Holy Spirit work within us?? Word, Prayer, Fellowship, & self-denial. These are His appointed means. Therefore, we must treasure the gospel, be committed to the gospel, and be devoted to one another.

If we are going to be a gospel church…

If we are going to be a gospel church, a place where disciples are made and built up in the faith, then we must commit to one another in transparent living and interdependent community.

If we are going to be a goepl church, a church where each member is equipped and encouraged to represent Jesus in our community, our workplaces, and our world, we must give eager attention to God’s Word.

If we are going to be a gospel church, a church where God’s Spirit is free to speak, we must demonstrate our earnest and eager desire to listen by giving attention to prayer and rediscovering fasting.

If we are going to be a gospel church, we must love, live, and share the gospel.

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Love Is Learned


Our culture talks a lot about it, especially this time of year. Yet even with all the talk, ideas, theories, and experience, our world is largely clueless on the topic. Even what we get right is often misapplied and misunderstood.

As Christians, those who serve and worship the author of love who, himself, is the very definition of love, we should be able to provide clarity on the topic. All too often, however, instead of our light shining into the world’s uncertainty, the fogginess of their confusion clouds our vision and obscures our understanding.

But if we could learn to love, like Jesus has commanded us to love, we would shine as lights in the world (Phil 2:15). We would see the reality of Jesus’ words as they see our love for one another and know we are his disciples (John 13:35).

I consider Paul’s words to the Thessalonian church…

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more…

(1 Thessalonians 4:9–10, ESV)

First thing we see is that the Thessalonians are loving one another well. I feel that he could very well be writing these words to our faith family. I am so proud to be a part of a church where we love well. This brief article does not afford the space necessary to recount the love you each demonstrate to one another and to me. Yet, he still encourages them to love more and more. Even at our best, we are limited. We may love well, but also love imperfectly, incompletely, and inconsistently. So, Paul says, “press on and love more and more.”

Next we observe that love is a learned skill. Love must be learnable, or God could not command us to love. The Thessalonians had been taught to love. Elsewhere in Scripture, we see older men and women encouraged to teach younger husbands and wives how to love one another.

Finally, we see that love is more of an action than a feeling. Love must be expressed in actions and behaviors, not simply felt. Of course, the emotional element is undeniable. Feelings are wonderful and can enrich our lives, but they are not ultimate. They cannot be relied upon.

To love in spite of our feelings is not hypocritical or dishonest, it is deep and mature. Love always acts on behalf of the one being loved regardless of how we feel. Indeed, experience will teach us that our feelings will often follow our actions and not the other way around.

To love in spite of our feelings

is not hypocritical or dishonest,

it is deep and mature.

So, let us learn new ways to love one another. Let us discover ways to serve and encourage one another. Let us patiently forgive, intentionally pursue, and selflessly consider one another as better than ourselves. Let us pray for, pour into, and hold onto one another. Let’s know one another and bless one another and depend on one another.

…for if we can learn this kind of love — and in crease in this kind of love — our joy will be increased, our friends will be built up, and our Savior will be glorified.

Love One Another.

On at least one occasion, Jesus was asked by the religious leaders of his day, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (see Mark 12:28–34; Matthew 22:34–40; Luke 10:25–28)

By Jesus’ response, he links two essential commands together. He emphasizes the preeminent command to love God with everything and above everything, and then he tethers this all-surpassing love to the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. He even goes so far as to say that this second command is like the first. Essentially, Jesus is teaching that you and I cannot love God (who we cannot see) without loving our neighbor (who we can see). Loving people cannot be considered as mere consequence to our love for God. Loving people is the necessary evidence of our love for God.

Building from that love of neighbor, the New Testament ups the ante when those neighbors are brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus gave his disciples a “new commandment.” He told them to “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

How is this commandment new? Hasn’t Jesus been teaching love of neighbor? Yes, but this command is new in at least two significant ways.

First, this love is not general but specific, directed toward his followers. Second, this love is not natural but heavenly, the standard is not how we love ourselves, but “as he has loved us.”

While we offer unconditional and demonstrable love to our neighbors (anyone who is near), there is a special, elevated, familial, determined, and sacrificial love that we offer to other believers. Paul echoes this idea when he commands the saints in Galatia to “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10, emphasis added) Jesus said the world would know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another (John 13:35).

I have always found it curious that Jesus did not say that the world would know we belong to Jesus because of how we love them. Instead, God has chosen to display himself to the world through his people. Believers should possess for one another such a unique, supernatural, and puzzling love that the when the world sees the church, they see Jesus.

Consider the numerous “one another” commands in Scripture. Believers are told to “love one another” at least 15 times in the New Testament. Peter even calls for Christ’s followers to “love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8) Paul says, “Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)

What does this love look like? Consider these instructions: “Be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50); “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love” (Romans 12:10); “Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10); “Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13); “Carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2); “Be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2); “In humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3); “Pray for each other” (James 5:16); and “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another” (Colossians 3:13).

These commands are wonderful and tangible ways we can show our love for all people – and we should seek to do just that. But consider to whom these commands are directed, especially this one: Let us also consider this one: “Live in harmony with one another” (I Peter 3:8).

This is how brothers and sisters in Christ are to dwell together and live life alongside one another in the local church. There is no other context in which we can display God’s love in the manner and to the magnitude that he intends.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying that a believer cannot know or express the love of God outside the local church – of course you can! You just cannot do it as well.

I am not saying you cannot be a believer without being a faithful member of a local church. Sure, it’s possible, but no believer can reach maturity in Christ apart from their union to other believers in the local church (Ephesians 4:11-16).

When we pick and choose those with whom we fellowship, and when we make our participation in the local church dependent on our opinions, our beliefs, and our preferences, we are not loving any differently than the world loves (Luke 6:32).

A conditional kind of love is natural, normal, weak, and it doesn’t impress anyone. It certainly does not cause unbelievers to take notice and stand in awe of God. Rather, it hides his wisdom, obscures his love, diminishes his word, and it leaves his people immature. It is no wonder why the church struggles to be effective — we have made faith and worship a consumer product, contingent on our personal tastes.

But imagine with me, a people who faithfully gather and supernaturally love and diligently labor for the gospel. And imagine what it means for the gospel of Christ to be the glue that binds a church together. Imagine how they would tenaciously love and serve one another. Individuals with various backgrounds, different socio-economic standings, different races, different passions, different opinions, different politics, and different preferences would become “one body and one Spirit… called to the one hope that belongs to [our] call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4–6)

Now THAT would be something to see! THAT would be worth pursuing. THAT would glorify God. Every believer should be a member of a local church where we can pursue this kind of love together.

If there is anything else I do to help you along this journey, please reach out in the comment section or at theologybill@gmail.com.

“Renew: 20:21”

Never has a year been so hated as 2020, yet after just one week of 2021, people were lining up to cancel their 7-day free trial.

In all reality, however, history has seen difficulty before, and every year brings a new series of opportunities. As Christians, we have reason above all else to maintain a perpetual and unshakeable hope.  Our King reigns, God is sovereign & good.

Every January, we pause and look ahead as a church family and ask the Lord to set our path and direct our steps. In consideration of 2021, we want to focus on these three things.

1. Rest in Jesus.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  (John 20:19, ESV)

On the evening of the resurrection, the disciples still find themselves fearful. They know the tomb is empty, they remmeber Jesus’ words, and they have hear rumors and reports of his resurrection… but still, they hide away in teh upper room.

But it is here, while their heads are swimming in a sea of uncertainty, that Jesus approaches his disciples and offers peace.

We do not need to fear because Jesus is near. He sees.

We do not need to be unsettled by uncertainty.

The pandemic, the economy, our relationships, marriages, our children, our health, our furutes… these are big overwhelming realities, but Christ is bigger.

2. Look to Jesus.

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20:20, ESV)

After Jesus offers peace, he reassures their hearst. He invites them to see his nail scars and spear wound. He calls them to look on him and he shows them the evidence of his love.

As we push through difficulty and seek to move past hardship, remember that Jesus is for you. He is with us and for us. So, look to him.

Read his word. Hear his voice. Learn his will. This is how we build our faith. – hearing the Word of God. And seeing him, we can rejoice!

3. Walk with Jesus.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:20, ESV)

Nothing must detour us from his mission. Nothing must delay our calling. We must push forward making disciples for this is our commission.

“As the Father sent Jesus” we are likewise sent.

…sent with a mission to continue our Savior’s purpose.

…sent with the same urgency for the stakes are high and souls hang in the balance.

…sent with the same joy set before us that we might see the glory of God and experience his Kingdom.

Yes, going forward can be tricky, but we must move forward. …with wisdom, with boldness, with intentionality, and with the Holy Spirit.

So, in 2021, Let’s remember and be shaped by these truths:

(1) Christ is near and we are invited to rest in him.

(2) Christ is here and we are invited to know and rejoice in him.

(3) Christ is clear that we are commanded to live on mission with him and for him.

Whatever it takes, whatever the cost, let us be found faithful, making the most of our time for he is more than worthy.

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Love the Word

On the night Jesus was betrayed, Jesus prayed what is known as His “High Priestly Prayer.” John reproduces much of Jesus’ prayer and you can read it in chapter 17 of His gospel. It is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the Scriptures. But, not only is it Jesus’ longest recorded prayer, it is His prayer offered at a crucial time – just hours before going to the cross.

His earthly ministry is concluding, His purpose will soon be fulfilled, and His disciples are going to have to face the most difficult (and perhaps the most crucial) moments of their lives without Him and scattered from one another.

What does Jesus pray on this, His final evening?

He prays for Himself and the conclusion of His mission. He prays for His disciples, for their unity, safety, and preservation. And He prays for us, for the ones who will believe because of the disciples’ witness.

In that prayer, He prays that His people would be made holy, that they would be “sanctified.” He prayed that they would be kept from the corruption of the world, being renewed after the image of Christ. This is so that they might faithfully reflect God’s image, accurately proclaim His truth, and effectively share His gospel.

“Sanctify them,” He prays.

But how is that to happen? Jesus tells us.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

God’s chosen means for shaping His children is His Word. We cannot know God apart from the Bible. It is His Self-revelation to His people.

There are only two ways to know God. One, we guess and figure Him out – who He is, what He’s like, what He requires, etc. History is full of case studies indicating that this method has never worked. The “Religion & Spirituality” section of every bookstore is ripe with the bitter fruit of these attempts.

That leaves the other way: God tells us. This is the only way to know God. And thankfully, this is just what God has done. Not only has He acted in history, revealing Himself to His creation, but He has moved men by His Spirit to interpret His actions and to declare who He is, what He’s like, and what He requires. “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20–21, ESV)

Not only is the Bible the only means by which we can know God, it is God’s chosen way of relating to His children. It is by His Word that He directs our steps, feeds our souls, strengthens our hope, and refines our character. He teaches us, corrects us, and trains us by His Word. He reminds us of His promises, encourages us in His purposes, and guides us along His plans.

This is how, when being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus resisted the corruption of His mission by declaring that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” His Word nourishes us like milk feeds a baby (1 Peter 2:2).

This year have a plan for reading, understanding, and being shaped by God’s Word. Find encouragement to continue; find teaching to understand; and find accountability to obey.
Only in hearing, understanding, and obeying God’s Word can we know and walk with God.
It is my earnest desire and prayer for me and for you that we can stop imagining God for who we want Him to be. He is not okay with all the things we want Him to be okay with. He does not agree with all the positions we hold. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways! For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

But… when we surrender our ways and our thoughts, when we forsake our own kingdom building, and when we begin to value Him and trust Him and seek to honor Him… THEN we will be able to experience the reality of His promises, the goodness of His ways, and the joy of His presence.

Such is the purpose, the promise, and the power of God’s Word. Whatever else we commit to in 2021, let us prioritize, consume, embrace, memorize, and commit to His Word.

If there is anything else I do to help you along this journey, please reach out, leave a comment, or send an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

God bless & Happy New Year.

Loving & Pursuing Christ

Two weeks into January… how ya doing?

The new year always begins with a wide-eyed hope and a giddy optimism as we imagine the many opportunities ahead of us. The ills of the previous year seem to fall away and only the shiny potential of a blank slate remains. Our future is so bright, we have to wear shades.

Perhaps one of your “new year’s resolutions” was to draw near to God or “get back into church.” Wishing to fill a void you sense was missing in 2021, you are determined to nurture your faith in the upcoming year. Please, allow me to celebrate your decision and praise God for the desire you have to know Him more throughout this upcoming year! I am excited for you and hope you will indulge me as I offer you some encouragement.

A healthy relationship with the Lord is cultivated as we nurture three loves.

The first love we must pursue is a love for His Word. This love is foundational and formational to the other two loves we will want to cultivate. The true child of God longs for the pure milk of God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2). God’s Word is our source of nourishment and knowledge. We are told that God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and that is sufficient to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

When Jesus prays for us in John 17, He prays that we would be sanctified (made holy like Him, directed in His ways, and instructed in godliness) by the truth. He then declares, “Your Word is truth.” (John 17:17). Where the Bible speaks, God speaks, for it is breathed out by His very Spirit and reflects His very nature (2 Tim 3:16 & 2 Peter 1:21). The only way to know Jesus is to know God’s Word. To love God is to love His Word.

The next love we must pursue is the love of His people. John, the beloved apostle, declared that if we cannot love our brother who we can see then we do not love our God who we cannot see. (1 John 4:20) Much of the New Testament is directed toward instructing God’s people in how we are to abide together in love and unity – forgiving one another, praying for one another, deferring our preferences for one another, united together in love. (Rom 12:10, Gal 5:13, Eph 4:1-3, 6:18, Col. 3:13, James 5:16)

If we are to love God, we must cultivate a love for His people. This is how love for God is made visible. Are the bonds we have in Christ greater than our musical tastes, worship preferences, cultural background, and political ideologies? If our choice of church (or the commitment to our church) is determined by anything other than the love we have for God and His people, then our relationship with our Heavenly Father will be compromised and distant. But, if we can learn to sacrifice our pride and preferences in love for His people and His kingdom, then we will grow in the likeness of our Savior, who humbled Himself in obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8)

The final love we want to develop, in addition to a love for His Word and a love for His people, is a love for His mission. Is our heart’s desire to know Him and to make Him known? Because the more we know Him, the more we will want others to taste and see that our Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8) Knowing God enlivens passions for His glory and promotes energies for worship. What greater expression of worship is there than to declare His excellencies and wonders and perfections? What greater accomplishment could we achieve than to have others praise and honor Jesus because of something we said or did?

You and I will find no greater joy, we will experience no greater fulfillment than to know we are serving God’s purposes and promoting His glory. (John 4:34)

While much more can be said on these three loves, I hope what has been said will spur you along in pursuit of the love of God – a love reflected by a love for His Word, a love for His people, and a love for His mission. If there is anything else I do to help you along this journey, please reach out by leaving a comment or sending an email.

God bless & Happy New Year.

2021 – Hope & the New Year

“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.’” – Revelation 21:5

A New Year has begun and it is clear that this year’s celebration has a unique element to it. There is a pervasive sense of “good riddance” that has not been a part of previous years.

I get it. 2020 has been, um… noteworthy.

2020 has witnessed a full measure of hardship and difficulty. And while, admittedly, this past year has been harder than those of recent memory, it has hardly been hardship “on a scale hitherto undreamt of.”

World Wars, Great Depressions, presidential assassinations, natural disasters, and national turmoil are just a sampling of the challenges that have cycled through our history. Every generation faces memorable and defining moments. For this generation, 2020 has been such a moment… and it won’t be the last.

This is not to downplay the challenge 2020 has been (challenges that are not over), but to help frame our experience on a larger scale. 2020 has been labeled “unprecedented,” when in reality it has simply been unique to our experience. We do well, for faith and maturity, to reflect appropriately on these past 10 months. And we do far better to ground our hopes rightly in 2021.

However, far more importantly than evaluating the past year appropriately, is anticipating the New Year honestly.

Our hope cannot be that 2020 is done and 2021 is here. It’s not as if buying a new planner washes away the difficulty of our present circumstance. Reality, unlike desk calendars, cannot simply be recycled and forgotten. For those trusting that this year is not last year, hope will continue to be perpetually postponed until circumstances change.

The New Year is not a simple reset. It’s not as if all the bad is flushed and a new blank slate merely looks up at us with no blemishes and endless promise. This view of hope cannot last for ill marks come early and the hollow promise of empty optimism is quickly revealed.

However, for those whose hope is in the preservation of a faithful God, hope never truly wanes. While our ability to hold onto that hope may at times waver, the substance of our hope only grows.

A christian’s hope is an enduring hope. It perseveres through hardship. And therein lies the great promise of the New Year — not in the promise of an unblemished calendar, but in our confidence in His unblemished record.

The same God who has seen us through this past year will see us through the next. Comforted by His past faithfulness, we take courage in His ability to lay hold of us. His power and goodness have been clearly demonstrated, so we have a renewed confidence for the coming year. In this way, the New Year stirs our hope as we pursue the potential of His purposes into this new year.


Let us be reminded (and remind one another) of the hope that we have before us. A hope that is so much deeper than merely turning the page on a bad year and wishing for a better one.

Our God and Father has seen fit to give us another year, a year that holds all the promise and hope of his plans and purposes. And just as He has proven Himself faithful in the past, He will carry us through into the future.

The New Year doesn’t bring a new hope, but a renewed hope in our faithful God. Our calendar may change but our confidence does not.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Why Jesus Came…

We are hungry for something REAL.

We want to know what’s real, to create something meaningful, to experience something that lasts, and to accomplish something significant.

…something pure. true. you know: real.

We were created for more than this world has to offer. That’s why the things of this world seem so empty — they were never intended to bear the weight of our identity and significance. It’s not that some of these things can’t be goodl they can. But when we invest too much of ourselves into them, when we give them our hope and security and trust, they will fail us every time. We may not understand it, but we feel the reality of eternity written on our hearts.

We were created for more and we long to experience that for which we are made.

Jesus came to show us what’s real. To show us the truth. To let us know what is lasting and meaningful… to show us what matters.

“For this purpose I was born and
for this purpose I have come into the world—
to bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37)

Jesus came to testify to the truth…

The truth about the Kingdom.

Standing before Pilate, Jesus is explaining that His Kingdom is not of this world. There is more going on here than Pilate can see and understand. Christ’s Kingdom, while unseen, is greater, more significant, and more lasting than anything visible.

So, we are called to live not for the temporary things that are seen, but for the unseen and eternal things that Christ offers.

The truth about God.

Jesus came to “bear witness” or “to testify.” In other words, Jesus came to preach.

This should not surprise us. After all Jesus was “the Word made flesh.” Who else would a God send, but “the Word”?? This is a God who refuses to be captured in image, but instead reveals Himself through words.

This is the big contrast the prophets make between idols who can be seen and a God who cannot: mute idols who cannot hear or act vs. an invisible God who speaks, hears, and acts on behalf of those who love Him.

Our God is a speaking God. A self-revealing God. A God who determines and proclaims truth.

Hebrews 1 tells us that, int he past, God has spoken in many ways, but now He has spoken most perfectly and finally through His Son, the Lord Jesus.

The truth about us.

Jesus confronted our hypocrisy, our idolatry, and our desire to control our own lives and make our own fate.

The reality is we are NOT in control.

Even Pilate (who seems to be in control here) is told by our Savior that he would have no power over Him unless His Father has given it to Him.

We are not in control. Knowing the real Kingdom and understanding real, unseen, and eternal truth gives us confidence int he midst of uncertainty. We do not have to hold onto or put our trust in the things of this world. Even our very lives cease to become dear to us as we seek to invest all we are and all we have for His Kingdom.

Because God is worthy, faithful, just, loving, powerful, and soveriegn, we do not have to fear offering everything to Him.

The truth about the gospel.

Sinful man, blind to the truth – even hostile toward it! – is met by a holy God who speaks to Him and offers truth. More than that, He offers ears to hear the truth and a new heart which can accept it.

The world stumbles to find purpose; our friends and co-workers search for identity. Others try to rise above the mundane and grab hold of some greater purpose or mission or cause.

Meanwhile God is calling…

Come here!! Listen to me! I have placed eternity in your hearts, I have placed my image on your soul, and I alone see you – love you – and know what will satisfy you.

Will you surrender to Him today?

Trust Him and His Truth. Rest in Christ and the salvation He offers. Receive the Spirit as you yield your spirit to Him, treasuring and trusting Him above all else.

“Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD
that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:6–9)

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:3–8)