The gospel gives us freedom to be honest. Honest with ourselves, with others and with God. Psalm 13 describes an anguished David, wresting with his present life experience and the role of God in it. His emotions are being tossed like a dinghy on the waves of a storm. But when his heart finds anchor … Continue reading An Anchor of Hope for the Dinghy of Despair
This Puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision enriched my soul today, enabling me to draw near to Jesus with fresh faith, hope and joy. I trust it will prove to be a means of grace for you as well. Thy understanding is unsearchable and infinite, Thy arm cannot be stayed, Thy agency extends through limitless … Continue reading Drawing Near
In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. One of the key phrases is to submit ourselves to the sovereign, wise and perfect will of the Father with the prayer, "Your will be done." That is easy to say; much harder to live. If I'm honest, what I really want is for God … Continue reading Your Will be Done… or Mine?
In the days when Jehosaphat was King (see II Chronicles 20), neighboring armies marched against Judah. The people gathered to pray for the LORD to defend them. The King stood and prayed, "We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are … Continue reading Jesus Works and I Watch: A Lesson from Jehosaphat
This Sunday I will be teaching from Psalm 77 on the subject of grief. In preparation, I have found this adapted Puritan prayer, The Valley of Vision, helpful. Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, you have brought us to the valley of vision, where we live in the depths but see you in the … Continue reading The Valley of Vision & the Paradox of the Gospel
A blog post by Dr. Ed Welch says that fighting sin is tiring. It is hard. Exhausting. And he is right, because any fight is going to drain physical and psychological resources. So, some encouragement. If you are fighting sin (not in light of the law, but in light of the gospel), and have been … Continue reading Fatigued from the Fight?
What do I do when life feels overwhelming and out of control? How about stop trying to play Atlas, and start crying out, "Abba, Father." It's what a child does. And the Father loves for us to come to him in our need. So let's review: 1. I can't bear the weight of the world, … Continue reading Stop Trying to Play Atlas
I think a driving force for most of my life has been about trying to prove something—mainly that I am somebody. Maybe you can relate. This issue is identity, and it plays out in a thousand ways. I am smart. I'll prove it. I am athletic. I'll prove it. I am right. I'll prove it. … Continue reading There is Nothing Left to Prove
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ~ The Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:1 In marathons, runners usually “hit the wall” around mile 18 or so, when all the glycogen has been depleted from their muscles. If glycogen is … Continue reading My Dream for 2014
I love books and studying theology. However, this statement in Brennan Manning's book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, gripped me with a new desire, as Paul said in Philippians 3, not just to know about Jesus, but "to know him." "Sheer scholarship alone cannot reveal to us the gospel of grace. We must never allow the authority … Continue reading Travel Agent Evangelism
Last night I taught on Galatians 3:1-14 for the Sunday Night Fellowship of Creekstone UNG students. This morning, I marinated my heart in that passage again, and am glad that I did. In verse 5, Paul says, "Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or … Continue reading Faith and Miracles
We came across this simple, biblical, gospel-centered, Jesus-focused devotional recently and are using it individually and as a family. Here is what we're doing. 1. In the morning, everyone reads the short devotion and Scripture and prays over the theme privately. 2. In the evening, whether at dinner or before bed, we are gathering back … Continue reading New Family Devotional
Here is a grid for learning to understand and share your story of grace. story_of_grace-template.pdf Download this file
This Labor Day, let's remember the great work of the cross, where Jesus said, "It is finished!" His work allows us to rest. So let's glorify Jesus by resting well in the full-scale grace that is ours through his life, death, burrial and resurrection. It's all been done. Salvation is complete. It is finished!
If we are living our lives in view of the cross, then we will recognize that we are standing on level ground with everyone else. We might need to let this sink in a bit, because most all of us seek to justify ourselves by making a name for ourselves. And since I desperately want … Continue reading Level Ground
Creekstone's summer youth coordinator, Jeff Leopard, came up with some great diagnostic questions to ask in order to determine the degree of present, functional gospel impact in my life. Since we either live out of self-righteous pride that needs to be right and look good or out of a genuine humility that has been freshly … Continue reading Diagnostic Questions That Reveal My Functional Righteousness
The Good News Translation of Galatians 4:4-5 reads like this: “When the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might become God's children.” The “right time” refers to … Continue reading Perfect Timing
You do know that if it were up to us, being reconciled to God would be on our shoulders. That’s how we operate, isn’t it—we bless those who meet demands, perform their duty, and fulfill their obligations. But thankfully, that is not how God operates. The gospel tells us that rather that calling us to … Continue reading If It Were Up to Us
I have some good news for you today—and for me. Here it is: If I am covered by the righteousness of Jesus, then I have nothing to defend and nothing to prove. I do not need to defend my own righteousness nor create my own righteousness. I am free to boast in the work of … Continue reading Nothing to Defend, Nothing to Prove
This is an excerpt from the sermon archives that I thought rings true for what we'll be talking about over the next several weeks. "The gospel is about spiritually dead sinners, objects of judgement, being raised to new life and given new eyes to see that on a cross, Jesus became the object of judgement … Continue reading From the Archives: Living in Light of the Gospel
There is a great story that is told about Charles Spurgeon, who, after preaching a sermon, was approached by a woman from the congregation. She looked at him, and said with disdain, “You are most unholy preacher I have ever heard!” As the story is told, Spurgeon turned to an elder next to him and … Continue reading You Don’t Know the Half of It!
John 15:1-5 tells us that spiritual vitality is not the result of attending seminary, receiving ordination or serving as the leader of a Bible study or small group. In these verses, Jesus shows us that just as branch receives life from its connection to the vine, his disciples receive life from their connection to him. Spiritual vitality … Continue reading The Irony of Spiritual Fruitfulness
To "contine in God's kindness" (Romans 11:22) does not call me to prove my devotion to serve God; God calls me to rest in his devotion to save me. The focus is not on my doing to please him, but on his doing to pardon me. It is not on my commitment to stand for … Continue reading A Life Lived in View of His Mercies
What do I do when life feels overwhelming and out of control? The first step is to cry out, "Abba, Father." It's what a child does when he can't handle something. And our Father loves for us to come to him in our need. Let's review: 1. We can't bear the weight of our own stress, … Continue reading The Effort is in the Casting
This just in from my Puritan friend, Jeremiah Burroughs (via another friend, Ray Ortlund), “My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them. That is not the reason. But the reason is because they are not things proportionable … Continue reading Contentment Does Not Require More