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Musings

Lack of Peace and Israel

But one reason I didn’t mention is that sometimes we lack peace because we knowingly sin against God.  You can see this example in Genesis 4 when Cain offered a sacrifice that God did not receive.  He instantly lacked peace.  As Christians, this happens to us, as well.  Conviction of sin can cause anxiety when we don’t repent.  This is a kindness of God.  It’s a way that He shows us that there’s a better way to live.  

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Hope Found in God’s Character

When hard things happen, if we think God’s character is sinister, mean, or, at minimum, can’t be trusted, that makes us hopeless.  But, if we believe that God’s nature is always good, loving, and merciful, then we know that He has reasons for these hard things, and His reasons are good, loving, and merciful.  Even if we don’t understand ‘why’ they’re happening.  What we believe about God’s character affects our hope. 

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SGC Conference to Home

The last Saturday I wasn’t out of town or didn’t have a ministry event was September 2nd.  Since September, I have traveled to Denver, Manila, Bend, and Orlando.  In between, we’ve had local conferences and weddings.  I realize I’m weak compared to many of you who travel a lot, but I’m happy to be home now for a while.  I don’t have another travel week planned for ministry until March.  It feels nice to unpack my bags and put my feet up finally.  

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Back in Our Family Room

I haven’t done the math yet, but since the beginning of the summer, my preaching schedule has been the lightest it’s been in years. I feel it in my soul. I love preaching at CLF. Sometimes, like Sunday, it’s like we’ve come into our family room at our house and we’re rejoicing in Christ and learning from Christ. It’s amazing to me how comfortable it is to preach at ‘home.’ I know from other pastors, in other places, their churches don’t feel this way. I’m grateful for this.

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Think Like a Farmer…

This made me consider generosity.  Most of the time, we ask questions like, ‘Can we afford to give?’  ‘Do we have enough at the end of the month to give?’  These are all good questions…for an accountant.  Farmer thinking would be, ‘How can I afford NOT to give? And ‘If I give at the front end of the month (sow), will God NOT fulfill His promise to meet me on the back of the month (reap)?’  

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Notes From My Trip to The Philippines

I’m writing this from my last flight home from my trip to the Philippines. I’ve been trying to think about how to summarize this trip. Quite a bit happened personally and in the work we’re attempting to do in developing Sovereign Grace Philippines. So, I think I’ll divide this post into those categories to help me write.

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Creating Culture

As I stated on Sunday, our main reason for covering the shaping virtues is to show what we believe defines gospel culture in a church—most who stay for very long experience this at CLF.  But knowing why it’s important and how it’s happened is important.  

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Great Commission and Life Together

I was reminded not to go through the motions and that God is evaluating our worship gatherings and my heart.  I was struck by the fact that Colossians 3:16 shows people singing to one another, where we remind one another of God’s faithfulness and our hope in the gospel.   I was encouraged to intentionally engage with the people of God in our gatherings by reminding them that they are part of the congregation, just like the worship team is part of the congregation.   

Musings

Worship Jesus, Serve Jesus, and Love Others

I tried to do this on Sunday with this statement:  CLF exists to equip people to worship Jesus, serve Jesus, and love others.  I said that a few times.  While this is not our written ‘mission’ statement (we’re working on that), it does define what we’ve tried to do and what we believe is our part in the Great Commission.  Our goal over the next several months is to ensure that every ministry in our church accomplishes this mission.  We want to equip people to worship Jesus, love Jesus, and love others.  And we want to do this in community together.  

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Motive, Message, Method

One of the reasons for our new series on the Great Commission is that we need to see how the everyday Christian life is to represent Jesus in a Genesis 3 world.  We see this clearly throughout the New Testament.  We hope to show how ‘minutely’ and ‘daily’ this making disciples is to be in our lives.  In this post, I’ll point us to the result of the Great Commission and show the importance of seeing how practical the Great Commission is.  

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Faithfulness Doesn’t Capture Headlines

We’re tempted to trust in measurables in adversity.  When we look across the metaphorical battlefield and see an army bigger than ours or an enemy stronger than us, it could be the cultural war on morality, the business competitor flooding the market with their product, or the sin that so easily snares us. We measure our strength and capacity compared to others and are found wanting.  Then, we fret, worry, and stew (to quote Bill Heard).

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Hurt

Rick’s sermon ends a study this summer of many Psalms of lament. I’m grateful we covered psalms like this for a few reasons: 1) it gave us biblical answers and hope; 2) it gave us categories for times when life doesn’t make sense; 3) it shows that we’re a congregation that doesn’t want to ignore hard things in God’s word. Each teacher this summer did a wonderful job of laying out truths from God’s word that we hard to hear. But those hard-to-hear things were from hard-to-hear inspired texts from God that are good for our souls. 

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Looking Beyond the Clouds

What struck me was how ‘real’ our sermon series in the Psalms had been to them and us.  I have noticed a remarkable theme through our summer psalms:  hardships and trials that seem to come without rhyme or reason.  We are left with asking the Lord to alleviate the pain, and we’re left with, ‘How long, O Lord?’  

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Campout and Articles

These last two weeks have found our family in Ferndale, Washington, for a baseball trip with a 14U Babe Ruth team and at our church campout at Bastendorff on the Oregon Coast.  It was a full two weeks with tons of memories made.  It was nice to get away, and it was needed.

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Talk to Yourself

This is very helpful and encouraging for people like me who talk to themselves (don’t tell anyone).  I have to say aloud to myself things like “Don’t say that!” or “Don’t think that!” And I repeat gospel truths to myself regularly.  I remind myself that I’m forgiven, that I have access to God, and that God looks upon me favorably because of Jesus.  I remind myself of God’s approval and acceptance.  I do this because I am prone to forget.  We all are.  David was.  

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More on Psalm 27

Life did not get easier after that memorable night. I wrestled with the frustration of what my place in our family was after my father’s death. I was that “poor wandering sheep” that Henry described. Thanks to God He took me up, all be it bleating loudly, and brought me into His secure sheepfold. Maybe you also wrestle with the tension of confidence in the LORD’s strength and the fear or desire for control in your own life. As one guy walking next to you, I’m here to remind you the LORD is a far superior shepherd than we could ever hope to be. Seek His face. Inquire in His temple. Ask the LORD to teach you His way and lead you on a level path. He will do it.

Tough hands covered in dirt
Musings

The People of CLF

I was thinking about this recently as I took some time off. I could have done a better job taking time off over the last few years.  I love to work.  I love my job.  I love my church, and I love serving the people that I mentioned above.  When people love the church, it makes pastoring them easy.  But it also makes you want to work hard.  

People aiding one another up a mountain at sunset.
Musings

Caring for One Another

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and there are a few things that I’ve had stored up to share.  I have planned on writing each of the last few weeks, but inevitably something came up that kept me away from the keyboard.  Today, I’m finally able to get some things down.  I hope these things will inform and encourage you. 

Two people tugging on rope

Thoughts on Jealousy and Selfish Ambition

As I have said over these past few weeks, each sermon has had a very personal feel to it. Sunday’s was no different.  Only this time, it wasn’t just targeting my heart. It was targeting ‘our’ heart as a church.  Last year, during my sermon planning, discussing jealousy and selfish ambition seemed like an excellent follow-up to Sarai and Hagar.  But I didn’t envision what God was about to do in our church and how quickly things were changing in CLF. So this sermon not only ‘felt’ right, it felt like prophetic guardrails around the ‘soul’ of our church.

Abram looks at the stars.
Musings

Lessons from Sarai and Hagar

I don’t know if enough attention gets drawn to the idols of our hearts.  Idols are generally not evil or sinful things. Usually, they are good things that we want too much and want now.  They move from desires to needs.  They become things we crave and think we cannot live without.  And they dominate our thinking.  

Hand reaches down from the clouds to a child's hand.
Musings

Missing Something?

In the last two posts, I have mentioned how I’ve been dealing with some spiritual ‘heart’ issues.  In the 34 years of Christian ministry, I have found that the Lord does not leave me alone, and He normally walks me through texts that I’m preaching on to get my attention.  That has been true over the last several weeks.  Some of you have asked me about this.  You’ve noticed a sober approach to my preaching that you haven’t seen before or that the sermons seem more personal than usual to me. 

Person holds tightly to physical possessions
Musings

Melchizedek and More

Sunday, we were introduced to one of the most mysterious yet intriguing characters in the Bible, Melchizedek. As I said in the sermon, we don’t know much about this guy, but Hebrews 5 and 7 give us the biggest references about him.

Praying hands in the sun.
Musings

An Odd Week

I needed to be in church on Sunday.  I had an odd week.  It had no rhythm to it.  It was long.  I was frustrated with some things that went on, and I was battling through some heart issues.  Then, the church service started.  The lyrics from the songs began to re-speak the truth of the gospel to my soul.  My eyes were lifted upward, and my heart began to settle down.  When I got up to preach, I shared the story about ‘not doing more’ because ‘it is finished’ it was for my heart more than anyone else.

Crumpled paper face silhouettes.
Musings

Combatting Our Culture

There are so many directions that a teacher could take on Genesis 12:10-20.  The amount of preparation for Sunday’s sermon and the differences in commentators was interesting.  It was a wonderful study, and I learned a ton.  I like hard texts like this, and I enjoy exegeting the text for interpretation and our congregation for application.  

Tomb's stone rolled away revealing the sun
Musings

The Hope of Easter

One of the things I said on Sunday needs to be drawn out a bit more.  And that’s Easter hope.  I was very encouraged by the quote I shared from John Piper at the end of the sermon.  Piper wrote, “The best news of the Christian gospel is that the supremely glorious Creator of the universe has acted in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to remove every obstacle between us and himself so that we may find everlasting joy in seeing and savoring his infinite beauty.”   

Family and cross silhouette at sunset.
Musings

Abram and Updates on Jacoby

I was provoked by Luis’ treatment of John 8 and the Jewish leaders’ interaction about being Abraham’s people.  It is not those who are physical descendants of Abraham who are his people, but spiritual descendants by faith.  But this also struck me as I raise my family and teach my church.

Renaissance sketch
Musings

Things Get Weird

We hit another weird moment in Genesis 9 with Ham’s sin and Noah’s drunkenness. So I thought I would give you an inside look at how to see odd moments, like this, in the Bible. 

Audience member clap
Musings

A Bit of Bragging

This is one of those posts where I brag about our church and our family of churches.  The weekend we just had gives me ample reasons for this, and I thought it would be great for you to hear about.

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Jesus Fulfills the Covenants

One of my favorite topics or ideas to preach on is big themes found in the Bible.  I tried to accomplish that on Sunday with an overview of the biblical covenants.  What’s challenging about doing overviews like this is knowing what to cut out and what to include that fits the overall big theme.   But teaching on big themes gives us the big picture of the Bible and begins to put things in perspective for us. 

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God’s Patience Towards Me

What a remarkable Sunday.  As I wrote to our group leaders, if anyone predicted what happened on Sunday, they need to get me the winner of the 2023 World Series.  You’re prophetic!  I’m not sure if it was my lack of faith or my knowledge of who was preaching, but I was not anticipating what I experienced on Sunday.  I actually didn’t sleep well on Sunday night because I couldn’t shut my adrenaline off.  My mind kept thanking God, marveling at His kindness towards our church, and celebrating His work. 

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Revelation and Concern

On Sunday, after the second service, someone approached me and said, “that was the adult lesson for Noah’s Ark.”  I appreciated that.  That’s how I felt.  Sometimes we forget the wonder and awe of stories like Noah’s Ark and the Genesis flood.  There is simplicity and joy in just reading a text as if it’s the first time.

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Bumping into the Weird

Over the course of our study of Genesis, we will bump into some weird or odd stuff.  And because of the pace with which we’re covering Genesis (so we’re not in it for 8 years), there will be times when we can’t cover all the perspectives on particular things.  Sunday was one of those days, and Genesis 6:2 and 4 are two of those verses.

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Stan, The Holy Spirit, and UCC

I mentioned to you last Sunday that I would be out of town last week.  I went to Louisville, Kentucky, to the Sovereign Grace Pastors’ College to take a class on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology).  This is a part of the ongoing growth that I feel is important as I get older.  At 52 and in the ministry for over 30 years, I don’t want to coast home nor “phone it in,” as Stan cautioned.  I want to be pushing hard until the Lord calls me home.  

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So Much to Genesis One and Two

As I said in Sunday’s 2nd service, I firmly believe that one reason why the church has lost its voice in the gender discussion in our culture is that we have compromised the gender roles in the church.  We have failed to honor gender roles, protect gender roles, and deeply value one another.  

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The Outpost

So, when we look around the world today and see the confusion about any of the issues listed in Genesis 2, we need to realize that it’s because sin and Satan have clouded our vision of what God intended and why God gave us these things.  There is no confusion with God.  The confusion is with us.  We want something other than what He lovingly gave us.  That’s the issue with us and our world.  

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A Reminder, Hypocrisy, and Genesis

One point of clarity that I want to bring up from Sunday is that I believe there should be a time to discuss things like “old-earth,” “young-earth,” science challenges to the Bible, and so forth.  I just don’t think that it has a place in the pulpit for a Sunday morning gathering.  I think the point of that moment is to preach the author’s intent and draw conclusions for the congregation from the author’s intent.  

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A Great Start

Sunday, as I got up to prepare for our Sunday gathering, I knew that preparing my heart was more important than re-reading my sermon manuscript.  The Lord was working on me, and I knew it.  There were issues in my heart that needed to be addressed before my Maker, and He was already pursuing me. So as I bowed my head to pray at my kitchen table, He graciously reminded me that my identity was not in what I was about to do (preach and lead CLF), but my identity was found before Him.  I was made to worship God and represent Him on this earth.  I am a child of God before I am anything else.  That’s my true identity.

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His Teaching, Not Mine

This past week as I was reading through the gospel of John, I came across this verse in John 7:16, “So Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.’”  As I sat and considered this statement, there were a few things that struck me: 1) Jesus’ humility continues to amaze me, 2) Jesus’ understanding that He was here to do His Father’s business,  and 3) this is our calling as Christians and every pastor’s calling.  

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From Prophets to the Prophecy

Sunday’s sermon from Isaiah 9:6-7 was so much fun.  It was fun because of the example I just gave.  But it was also fun because our series from the Minor Prophets that we had just finished prepared us for some of the history of Isaiah’s text.  

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A Loooong Sunday

What a Sunday!  That’s how I feel this morning (Monday).  I’m exhausted, for sure, but I’m amazed at God’s kindness to our church and me.  There are several things on my mind today.  

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A Challenging Sermon

I can’t remember a week of sermon prep that was more challenging than last week. Zechariah is a tough book. It would be challenging to teach that book in a series of sermons. But to try to do it in one sermon made this a difficult task.  

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Adjustments from Haggai

There is quite a bit of content that I want to get to in this post, but let me start with a few areas of conviction from the message from Haggai.  The Lord used Haggai to “adjust” me a bit in these areas.  

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Eschatology and Syncretism

The challenge that Zephaniah gives the student of the Bible is immense.  As with most Minor Prophets, there’s constant friction between immediate and far-off future prophecies.  This is why studying end times (eschatology) is so challenging.

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Ramblings About Sunday and the Conference

This week’s edition of musings will be more like ramblings.  It’s been a few weeks since I last posted anything, but I thought I would touch on several things in this post that might be of interest.  

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Philippines Trip Report 

There is simply too much to talk about when it came to my trip to the Phillippines. Here is a trip report that attempts to describe how grateful I was to be part of this ministry team.

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Minor Prophets and The Philippines

The next time you get worried about sharing the gospel with someone or worried about how God could use someone like you, just remember that Jonah preached a 5-word sermon, and God flipped Ninevah upside. Just give that some thought…much like God speaking through a donkey (Numbers 22:28), God did the miraculous in a most unusual way.  The Lord will always send out His word to accomplish his plans. 

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Planning and the Gift of Bruce

Bruce’s sermon was fantastic.  It was clear, challenging, and faithful and made us long for Jesus more.  I think if the Apostle Paul were writing about men today, Bruce Wells would be one of those who have the interests of Christ in his heart and who have given their lives for the Lord.  I’m grateful for Bruce, and I know you are as well.  

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Straight Talk from Amos

One of the reasons why Amos is such an intriguing study for me is because I like straight talkers.  I’ve never been a fan of people hiding their intentions, playing games, and never telling me the straight truth.  I’m not a veiled communicator, and I’m not a fan when others are veiled in their communication to me.  So, while Amos is hard-hitting, he was remarkably refreshing to study. 

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Intricately Involved

I mentioned on Sunday that my hope for us to learn the book of Joel was to see how big our God is and how He is intricately involved in every facet of universal history.  And I said in the 2nd service that I would write a little on this from the book of Job.  

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No Longer The “Cool” Kids

This new series that we began on Sunday is one that I’ve been looking forward to teaching.  Most of that is because of the cultural moment we find ourselves in being “on the outside looking in.”  But also, I know how refreshing it was to my soul to spend in the Minor Prophets.  I found solace in the fact that these prophets spoke forthrightly and directly to God’s people about their sins and how they should think during their time in exile.

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Sovereign Grace, Leadership, and More

I have always been reluctant to extend myself beyond my “borders” regarding leadership.  So, I declined anytime an outside organization asked me to serve on a board.  I did this because I want my time given to my family, church, and community.  And when it comes to community things, I’ve limited myself to the game of baseball because that’s about all I can handle.  I have also declined because I don’t “need” other leadership positions for my self-esteem or prestige.  In my younger years, this would’ve been a huge temptation, and part of my declination over the years has been to guard my soul against any speck of selfish ambition.  

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God Himself is the Inheritance

Several people approached me before preaching on Sunday to let me know that Romans 8:12-25 was one of their favorite passages in the Bible.  So, I sure hope that I did that passage justice for those of you who love it, and I hope that the wonder of that passage still resonates in your hearts.  What a text!

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Solely on Our Union with Christ

This is why we must cling to the truths of Romans 5-8.  In our union with Christ, God no longer determines our relationship with Him based on our sin, our fickle love for Him, or how we feel in the morning.  God relates to us solely on our union with Christ.  

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Freshness and Joy

Throughout this series, “United with Christ, I see things in Romans 5-8 that I’ve studied before, but they have come to me with new freshness and joy.  Focusing on these chapters has given me a new sense of freedom from the power and penalty of sin and Jesus being my righteous advocate before God.  It is simply a stunning display of God’s grace and power that stir me to gratitude and worship.

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The Transfer of Kingdoms

Romans 6 is a breath-taking look at how the power and penalty of sin do not dominate our lives anymore.  It is a text about true freedom.  Freedom to live as God intended and the joy that living in that freedom brings us.  It’s a chapter about how sanctification (being more like Jesus) happens in our lives.  It’s a chapter that shows us the reality and power of Christ’s work for us and how that reality works itself out in our everyday lives.  

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Freedom for the Christian

Romans 6 talks about our real, spiritual union with Jesus.  It’s about how God sees our position and status before Him.  He not only relates with us based on Jesus’ righteousness, but He frees us from sin’s power and penalty because when Christ died, our old sinful self died with Him, and when Jesus was raised from the dead, our new man was raised with Him.  Sin’s power no longer enslaves, and sin’s penalty no longer hangs over our heads.  That’s what this text is really about.  

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Let Truth Win Our Hearts

So, one of my prayers for our nation is a prayer I have for our church (which is who this blog post is for), is this:  that we would be respectful, grace-filled people, who treat others who disagree with us with gentleness and kindness, and we commit ourselves to let truth win our hearts.  It’s a big ask for the nation, but it’s not a big prayer for our church.  

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A Rich Sunday

Sunday was a rich day with our church.  I knew going into Sunday that it would be one of those days that I would look back on fondly.  The main reason was the text and sermon series we were beginning.  Romans 5-8 are some of the most theological encouraging chapters in the entire Bible.

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An Emotional Week

Now, with this crazy week, I decided not to preach on 1 Timothy but to preach on “The Functional Centrality of the Gospel.”  It really is the most important lesson of my life.  And like I said Sunday, “if I were to preach the last sermon of my life, this would be it.”  Lord willing, this wasn’t my last one, but it’s sure an important message.  

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Hard But Joyful

the church that pastor and I love the people that I get to serve alongside.  I have told the Lord many times that I just can’t believe that I get to do what I get to do.  Yes, pastoring is hard.  But it’s joyful labor.  And the church I pastor makes it that way.  

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Handling Benevolence

I had a few of you ask on Sunday about how the Good Samaritan story would fit into the sermon on Sunday.  It’s a great question.  But here’s a very brief summary with an explanation:  The Good Samaritan story was taught by Jesus to the Jewish people about their lack of love for anyone who wasn’t Jewish.  1 Timothy 6 was written to a pastor regarding how the church should care for those in their church who were truly in need. 

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Being a Pastor

It’s always a daunting task to teach about the role of pastors while being a pastor. I never want a sermon like that to come off as “we have it so hard” or “you just don’t know what we go through.” My hope in Sunday’s sermon through 1 Timothy 4:6-16 is the joy, gratitude, and wonder I have in being a pastor.

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Complex False Teaching

It’s funny how our background affects the way we see things.  As I grew up in ministry, one of the things that always bothered me was the “glitz” of ministry.  Don’t get me wrong…I was drawn to it.  And at times, even pursued it.  But it always bothered me.  I have never liked the idea that the church needs to “keep up with the world” (or, using a common phrase, “keep up with the Joneses). 

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Do Your Job

Our last two weeks, previous to Sunday, were incredible Sundays at CLF.  One of the challenges of church ministry is to fight the urge to hit home runs every week.  Jeffrey Jo, being with us…home run.  Easter Sunday…home run.  Someone asked me last week:  “How do we follow Easter?”  My reply was that we keep doing what we’ve always tried to do…be faithful to God and His word.

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What Do You Have That You Did Not Receive?

I usually park in our new parking lot south of our church building.  As I walk to the church building, I spend time praying.  Last Sunday, I marveled at God’s kindness to our church and me as the pastor.  I prayed for our Easter gathering and just marveled….”God, You have been kind to us.”  

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Mission Work

We see it in Paul and Barnaba’s missions in Acts.  And we see it in history.  But that is pioneering work. They are going where the gospel has not gone before, preaching it and planting new churches.  But what happens when there’s a church established or disciples are made?  What happens when people of THAT nation trust in Jesus and start churches?  Well, in my mind, that’s the goal!  

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A Mirror, Not a Reflection

demonstration (life) and declaration (lips), rather than a reflection of the world.  What I fear, at times, is that the church attempts to placate to the world on issues of gender, sexuality, marriage, parenting, purity, etc., and in doing so, ruins a gospel witness with the power of transformed lives. 

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A Specific Heart

You can’t stop a man like this from serving God’s people.  He’s a “church-man” in every sense of the word.  He’s got the people for “whom Christ died” in his heart. 

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Misapplied Truth

repeating.  One of the major issues with the truths of God’s word, like authority and submission, is that it has been misapplied so often that it’s hard to believe the truth.  But what I said Sunday was that a truth that is misapplied, does not mean the truth is an error.  It means the application is in error.  We must be careful to not allow bad application to cause us to discredit biblical truth.  

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Strong Women

God has created our genders in such a way that they are to complement one another.  And when each person is playing their role in their God-given gender, it honors and strengthens the other gender.  It doesn’t take away from the other gender but enhances it.

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History and the Gospel

when the gospel is preached, believed, and submitted to, it does transformative work in people, nations, and cultures.  I hope you noticed the brief tracing I did through history about this.  We can get lied to by our media about how bad we have it.  We can get lied to by our culture that we don’t have enough “love” or “rights” for others.  But, if you look at cultures/nations that have Christian underpinnings, you will find that advances in science, medicine, education, and human flourishing are prevalent everywhere.

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A Deep Bench

The servants at CLF humble me.  So many gifts on display…givers, gifts of hospitality, mercy, compassion, teaching, discernment…the list could go on and on.  But what makes the gifts function so well at CLF right now is the posture people have toward Christ and one another.  This is something never to take for granted and something that only the Lord has done.  Praise God!

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False Doctrine = Wrong Doctrine

I thought about this Sunday afternoon. One way to look at false doctrine is as wrong doctrine. It just teaches us the wrong way to be made right with God and one another. That might make it more clear when trying to explain it. 

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Hard Work With Heaven’s Hope

Rightfully so, Christians get frustrated and disillusioned by conflict. And many will say, “this isn’t how it’s supposed to be” or “this isn’t right.” But few Christians are willing to apply what God has taught us in His word to deal with conflict. The reason why God gave us instructions on how to be peacemakers…is because there is going to be conflict.

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Maturity and Conflict

I picked out two of the most common sins that create division in the church: gossip and slander. I could’ve done more, but those are sadly the most common sins. Scripture gives us clear guidance on handling such things, but it does take courage and God’s power to deal with something like this.  

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The Best Lesson Learned

When I began to believe that God loved me more than I could ever imagine because of Jesus, I stopped living for others’ approval because I didn’t “need” it anymore. Rather, in Christ, I had all the love I could ever want/need, and I had a reservoir of love to give out. Further, when I began to believe that God had judged me more than I could ever imagine because Jesus’ death for my sin reveals this, I stopped being crushed by others’ judgments of me because their judgments were not nearly as critical as God’s already was. In Christ, I was truly free.

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Trust Over Time

The fact that there are two types of forgiveness listed in the Bible was new information for some of us. But when there is no confession of sin, there should not be spoken forgiveness to the sinner. Reasons for this are many, but we see this in the Bible. We are not granted forgiveness of our sins until we confess we’re sinners and believe in Jesus.

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Plug Into the Gospel

Here’s the point:  for Christians, we’re the only people in the universe who have the power of Christ at our disposal to pursue peace and reconciliation.  Yet, most of the time, the issue is that we don’t plug into that power by humbly and obediently doing what Christ has commanded us and leaving the results in His hands.  Instead, we never try.  We avoid; we isolate, run, and stay in conflict. 

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Sin’s Effects and Christ’s Role

As we noticed Sunday, God came to us in the person of Jesus. His coming to us shows us how reconciliation works. The offended party goes, ready to forgive. In reality, Christ came to us to reconcile us to God and then empowered us to be reconciled to one another. We cannot be peacemakers, without the power of THE PEACEMAKER, within us.

Hard Conversations

These comments are reminders that this series is more like preventative medicine. Our church has enjoyed a wonderful season of unity, joy, and care. The Lord has been very kind to us. And this series is one of the ways that God’s word will protect us in the future.  

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Christmas Weekend

and see how redemptive history plays out, leading up to Jesus’ coming. Personally, I was freshly affected by this series. I was reminded of great truths of God’s love for us in Christ, of the wonderful thought that we can experience the joy and peace that’s in the Godhead, and how Jesus really is the Genesis 3 Champion. It was a great privilege to walk through this with our church.  

Musings

Love God and Love Others

But there is a severe issue with this “love myself first” strategy. Namely, it is not the way that God created us. God created us to love God and love others, with the same type of “others-focus, sacrifice” that we find in the Godhead. So, the question is, what did Jesus mean by “love your neighbor as yourself”? Did He mean, “love yourself first, then you can love others like you’re loving yourself”? Or did He mean something else?  

Musings

Joy and Happiness

One of the challenges for me in preaching on the theme of “Joy” is the amount of time that I’ve heard sermons on this subject attempt to define the difference between joy and happiness. Most of the time, this is done because of statements like “I don’t care what I believe, as long as I’m happy;” or “It doesn’t matter how I live, as long as I’m happy.” So, to be fair, preachers attempt to redefine an unwise humanistic use of the word ‘happy’ and then contrast happiness with biblical joy.  

Musings

Jesus Is Our Peace

I’ve got to admit, these Advent sermons are growing on me:). I’ve really enjoyed the sermon prep, and I’ve been deeply affected by what I’m learning again. Thinking through big themes, like hope and peace, in the Bible has been a delight to my soul.

Musings

Christmas Is Here

I must admit that I’ve always been a bit of a non-traditionalist when it comes to the church history calendar.  I cannot explain it except for my youthful zeal.  Honestly, I’ve watched churches and people observe traditions, without any connect to the gospel, heart-transformation, or life-adjustments and I just haven’t had any flavor for it.  So, I’ve rejected some really good things, like Advent, because I “threw the baby out with the bathwater”. 

Musings

Thoughts From The Retreat

From Thursday-Sunday of this past week, our elders (pastors) and our wives went to Sunriver for our annual Elder/Wives planning retreat.  I thought I would take a few moments in this post to talk about why this is important and what we do while we’re there.  

Musings

Corinth, Pastors Conference, and Church Plants

During Bill’s sermon on Sunday, I was really encouraged by his introduction as he compared the division in the Church in Corinth, with the joy that we have experienced at CLF.  But what I appreciated about the introduction, was the lesson in his sermon on the importance of humility.  

Musings

Musings From The Weekend

Here’s what I desire for CLF:  I want us to be courageous to make decisions that we have prayed about, researched, and we believe are best for us and our families, without the fear of being criticized or falsely accused.  Further, I want us to be a church that can have openness of dialogue on very hard issues, be able to disagree, yet not hold one another at “arms length”.  

Musings

Verse 29 and More

In Sunday’s text, we ran into 1 Corinthians 15:29 that’s just really hard to translate.  So, without giving you hundreds of different approaches/interpretations of this, let me just offer two of them that I think are the most plausible.

Musings

Reflecting on COVID and Sunday Gatherings

The Church gathered on Sunday mornings is a cosmic event. It’s a moment in time when we gather together to say, “Jesus is King.” It’s a moment when in unison, we sing praises to the One true God.

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Posture in the Gospel

In both sermons I thought, “with the treasure that I have in Christ, why do I not read God’s word more and pray more often?”  My prayer is that I will apply the things I’ve heard from these two wonderful men.  

Musings

After the Ballpark

Sunday was amazing.  When we go to the baseball field, I get the unique privilege being in the 1st base dugout until it’s time to preach.  The viewpoint from down there is awesome.  I can hear the crowd singing, see the entirety of the group, and watch.

Musings

Enough

I literally can allow situations to dominate my thinking, my time, and my headspace.  (Anyone else?) And, because I’m naturally persuaded by my own arguments or ideas (which is pride), I have a tendency to not listen very well to another perspective.  Or to put it in the above metaphor, when the Lord tries to pull the binoculars away from my face to correct how I look through them, I anxiously pull them back to the way I like them.  

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God’s Final Word

When we recognize that Jesus is God’s final revelation about His character and how to be right with Him, we can stop wrestling in our souls. Here’s what I mean: so often, we feel like we need to be in the “center” of God’s will. We need to have some clear, discernible, ‘word’ from God about our lives. And if we don’t, we’re missing out on “God’s best”.

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The Wisdom of God

It’s crazy to think that the last time we were all together in 1 service was March 15, 2020. Our church has responded very well to the changes in the past year. Together, we have served each other, worked to make changes in our church services possible, and we have grown in grace and in number. Sunday was another expression of God’s grace among us.

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Love the Gathering

One of the verses that I’ve kept at the forefront of my thinking has been Psalm 115:1, which says, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” The Lord has been kind to give us wisdom, to help us resolve conflicts, add/subtract ministries, and given us the courage to share the gospel.

Musings

All Things Done in Order

Well…we safely made it through 1 Corinthians 14! There was no food fight in the cafeteria and we came out the other side with no one hanging from the rafters or doing cartwheels down the aisles! Seriously, it has been a very good time for our church as we studied 1 Corinthians 11-14.

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The Gift of Tongues

One of the challenges with this particular gift is how much misapplication has happened with it and how much hurt has happened because of that.

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The Preeminence of Love

I think it’s very interesting how Paul put 1 Corinthians 13 right before his discussion about prophecy and tongues in chapter 14. Those two gifts, especially tongues, seemed to cause the most issue in Corinth. And…they’re still an issue today. That’s why we need the love chapter so desperately.

Musings

True Christianity

One challenge with preaching on a familiar text, like 1 Corinthians 13, is that it’s…familiar. When a text is so widely known, the danger for me is to try to be cute or “original”. You know what I mean…try to do something no one else has done. Well, with true biblical preaching, that’s a very serious danger.

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Join us the Morning of Christmas Eve!

December 24th |10:00 am | Jacoby Auditorium

Join us for a meaningful Christmas Eve service at Covenant Life Fellowship, hosted at Jacoby Auditorium on December 24th at 10:00 am, as we delve into the beauty of Advent. This special occasion invites you to pause and reflect on the anticipation and hope that this season represents.  Through an inspiring message and uplifting music, we aim to illuminate the true meaning of Christmas and the profound journey of Advent. Bring your family and friends to share in this moment of reflection and celebration. See you there!