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Holy 1-8-18

By Pastor's Blog

I believe one of the most remarkable words in Scripture is holy. The Bible speaks of God as being holy. We are challenged to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). We discover in the prophet Isaiah’s vision that two seraphim fly around the throne of God calling to one another “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa 6:3)!

Of all the attributes of God, His holiness is the most difficult to explain. Although we are created in God’s image, and we can share in many of His attributes, to a much lesser extent, such as love, mercy, and faithfulness, there are some of God’s attributes, such as His omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence; we will never share with Him. Holiness is another attribute of God that we will never share with Him as an inherent part of our nature. We only become holy in union with Christ. It is imputed holiness. Only in Christ do we “become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). It is God’s holiness that separates Him from all of His creation. God’s holiness speaks of His perfection and purity but is also the essence of His other-ness, His transcendence. When the Scriptures speak of God’s holiness, they refer to His being awe-inspiring as we look upon and consider His brilliance and majesty.

How are believers than to be holy as God is holy? Make no mistake; grace saves us through faith. The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace apart from our own works (see: Eph 2:8-9), while at the same time proclaiming that a saving faith will bear the fruit of good works (James 2:17).  The simple truth is that real saving faith allows the Spirit of God to produce fruits of righteousness in our life. These fruits are not the result of our own power or goodness, but the result of the Spirit’s workings in and through a surrendered believer as a new creation. Salvation in Christ makes one a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).

I believe we discover in Scripture that the Lord calls and empowers us to be holy as He is holy in two specific ways. We are to reflect Christ’s character and commit ourselves to Christ’s purpose. As we continue to grow in Christ, the very fruit of the Spirit is evidenced in our lives. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Christ’s character is also manifested as believers are given the power to overcome willful sin (1 Cor 10:13). There is another way we are to be holy. As we continue to grow in Christ, we will desire to be used in partnership with Him to fulfill His mission of reaching people with His love and message. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).

To be holy is to be set apart. God is set apart from His creation as holy. Believers are set apart by God to reflect Christ’s character and share in Christ’s mission. Therefore, every believer is called to know God and make Him known. As we grow in the Lord, we become more like Him. As we continue to walk in step with Him, we participate in fulfilling His mission.

The word holy and the concept of holiness is remarkable. To ponder God’s holiness is awe-inspiring. To realize that believers have been called to be holy is humbling and drives us to ever-greater dependence on Him. No wonder the seraphim proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

I am so honored to serve alongside each of you. I pray that as we stand in awe of God’s holiness that we will each experience, in Christ, the fruit of the Spirit in our life, as well as, the joy of partnering with Him in fulfilling His mission. In this sense, may we be holy as our Lord God is holy.

Following the Spirit’s Lead 12-18-17

By Pastor's Blog

I remember once traveling with a friend to visit his family who lived in Philadelphia. When we reached the city my friend’s dad became frustrated with all the one-way roads. Finally, he saw the house he was looking for, but it was on a one-way heading in the wrong direction. My friend’s dad took a deep breath and drove the wrong way on the one-way receiving verbal complaints from the people who lived on the street. Eventually we got to the house, but not without much difficulty and verbal assaults. When we arrived my friend’s dad grumbled, “We got here, didn’t we?”

I must admit that I have at times similarly traveled through life as my friend’s dad. I know that my destination is to spend eternity in paradise with Christ, but the journey of life that precludes that final destination is wrought with difficult roads. It is easy to get frustrated and decide to take shortcuts and head down the wrong way of a one-way to merely get through one more day as I head to glory.

Sure I make it a habit to ask for God’s leading. But, to be honest, at times it is more like asking God to simply bless my missteps of impatient wandering. A. W. Tozer wisely noted, “We can’t walk with the Holy Spirit unless we agree to walk the way He walks and go in the direction He’s going.” Here lies the key to rightly journeying through life. We need to walk by the Spirit and to do so we must be willing and commit ourselves to go in the direction He’s going.

The psalmist David proclaims, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psa 143:10). Our difficulty is not only reaching victory over our will but the ability to obey. Paul sends the Galatians this instruction:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal 5:16-18).

The only way to live the good life is to yield to the Spirit. We are to invite the Spirit to both direct and empower us. We walk by the Spirit as we make decisions and choices according to His guidance, and acting in the power that the Spirit supplies. Notice that Paul acknowledges that the Christian life is a struggle – a war between our selfish desires and the Spirit. But, with the help of the Spirit, we can walk rightly. It is the Spirit working in a believer’s life that reveals that we are no longer under the law. As believers, we walk in freedom, but in that freedom humbly and lovingly follow the Spirit’s lead. Therefore, Paul describes being led by the Spirit as a sign that someone is indeed God’s child. He writes, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom 8:14). Paul declares that those who yield to the Spirit are those who truly belong to God’s family.

Today, I ask the Spirit to guide my steps. I proclaim my willingness to yield to Him and receive His direction and empowerment. I will not succumb to the temptation to take shortcuts. I ask Him to help me keep in step with Him.

It is an honor to do life with each of you. Let us encourage one another to live in total dependence on the Spirit. As we head down the road to glory, let us do so in a way that brings our Lord glory.

Practicing For Growth 12-11-17

By Pastor's Blog

I enjoy playing golf. However, I have to admit I don’t get out but a few times a season. Needless to say, I am not very good. My typical routine is to mentally prepare myself to hit the ball straight, think through executing the proper technique, then hitting the ball into the woods. I try very hard to hit the ball straight down the fairway, but to no avail. Trying harder will not make much of a difference.

Good golf players take the time to practice and play often. A good golfer will go to a driving range and a putting green. They play round after round of golf. Their strategy is not simply to try harder, but to participate in the right practices to become better. It is an amazing thing to see good golfers put their skills on display.

I have noticed that many Christ-followers try to live the Christian life by simply trying harder. They get up in the morning and mentally prepare themselves for a day where they make all the right choices and say all the right things and then embark on the path of frustration littered with good intentions and regretful actions.

God has a better plan. Paul speaks to the believer’s strategy of living well in his first letter to the Corinthians.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

Corinth was very familiar with athletic contests. In fact, the Isthmian games were held every two years by the city. Paul desires for every believer to run the Christian race like a winner. He further explains that if athletes are disciplined to prepare themselves to compete for a perishing wreath as a prize, then how much more ought believers be disciplined to prepare themselves to live as those who will receive the crown of eternal life.

Here is the point. The victorious Christian life is not lived by simply trying harder. A simple strategy of trying harder will lead to frustration every time. The winning strategy is found in partnering with the Holy Spirit as one commits to practicing spiritual disciplines (i.e., prayer, bible study, serving, fellowship, generosity). In other words, we engage in appropriate spiritual practices with the help of God’s Spirit. The lives of such Christians are an amazing thing to see as they put the glory of God on display.

The key to becoming a successful golfer is not simply trying harder, but a commitment to engaging the right practices to prepare for the game. The key to living the victorious Christian life is not simply trying harder, but, by the help of the Spirit, exercising the spiritual disciplines. As we do this we will discover that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the fruit of the Spirit, with be evident in our life (see: Gal 5:22–23). When we walk in such a manner, we will experience the life of freedom and fullness promised by Christ to every believer.

It is my joy to serve alongside each of you. Let us encourage one another not merely to try harder, but be committed to living in union with the Spirit as we engage in the spiritual disciplines. Such a life experiences freedom and fullness in Christ.

On Change 12-4-17

By Pastor's Blog

Change in life is certain. As we age we change. Circumstances change. If you don’t like the weather today just wait, it too will change. Change can be a tricky thing. We find ourselves in a comfortable season and we fear it will change. We find ourselves in a difficult season and fear it will never change.

The world is left looking for a steady in the midst of all the chaos. For the believer, we know that God is that steady. The Lord is always close to His own. The psalmist proclaims:

“You are the same, and your years have no end” (Psa 102:27).

There is no doubt that God is eternal. However, no matter how much time passes the Lord never changes. Therefore, His purpose never changes either.

If God was not good and just this would bring no comfort. But, God is both good and just. In Lamentations we discover in:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).

Martin Luther offers this powerful insight:

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”

God’s love for His people will not come to an end. God’s compassion goes the extra mile, replacing condemnation with restoration. God is willing to begin anew every morning with those who chose to follow Him. Each new day brings with it another opportunity to experience God’s grace and faithfulness.

No matter what life might throw at us, God is the steady, even in the storm. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa 41:10).

God’s people have in Him reason to be fearless. The gods of this world seek to be strengthened and secured, but the one true God secures and strengthens His people.

We will change. Our circumstances will change. But, God will remain the same throughout all time and eternity. This truth is the source of a believer’s confidence. It is what allows the Christ follower to trust in Him no matter what the circumstances. God desires for us to learn to appreciate every day, no matter what it brings, as an opportunity to grow in confidence from the reality that with God we can handle anything.

It is an honor to journey with each of you. As we face changes as well as life’s challenges, let’s encourage one another to trust in our never changing God. He is good, and He is faithful.

Alert, Not Fearful 11-20-17

By Pastor's Blog

The devil loves the denial of his existence. However, denying his existence does not make it so. Peter warns us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The picture we get here comes right out of a National Geographic episode. You can imagine some zebra drinking from a watering hole. They drink a bit but stop from time-to-time to see if a lion or any other predator is on the prowl. Suddenly an explosion of movement comes from some nearby bushes. The dazzle of zebra, which was on alert, spring into action and escapes being on the lion’s menu for lunch. This picture is not one dominated by fear, but a “sober-minded” understanding that an enemy exists that seeks to destroy them. Their watchfulness saved their lives.

Surveys inform us that the vast majority of people in our society, even many in the church, refuse to believe that the devil exists and that he plans to destroy them. Can you imagine a better situation for a predator than to have its prey deny his existence and his mission? The enemy has believers in his sights, and we ignore him at our peril.

Again, we don’t need to fear. John encourages us with these words: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4b). But, we do need to be alert. We need to be prepared for our battle with the enemy. Our victory is secure. As Paul writes, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom 16:20). But we must be clothed for battle. Paul instructs us, “Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Eph 6:13). God provides us with His armor to protect, do battle, and by His strength win against the enemy.

The enemy wants to chisel away at your confidence. He wants to cause you to stumble and fall. He wants to screw-up your relationships and make you feel alone. He wants to deceive you into believing you are powerless. He wants to destroy your witness and even your desire to see others find the hope you have in Christ. Therefore, we need to be alert. This puritan prayer is appropriate for us to lift up to the Lord.

“O Lord, I bless thee that the issue of the battle between thyself and Satan has never been uncertain, and will end in victory. Calvary broke the dragon’s head, and I contend with a vanquished foe, who with all his subtlety and strength has already been overcome. When I feel the serpent at my heel may I remember him whose heel was bruised, but who, when bruised, broke the devil’s head. My soul with inward joy extols the mighty conqueror. Heal me of any wounds received in the great conflict; if I have gathered defilement, if my faith has suffered damage, if my hope is less than bright, if my love is not fervent, if some creature-comfort occupies my heart, if my soul sinks under pressure of the fight. O thou whose every promise is balm, every touch life, draw near to thy warrior, refresh me, that I may rise again to wage the strife, and never tire until my enemy is trodden down. Give me such fellowship with thee that I may defy Satan, unbelief, the flesh, the world, with delight that comes not from a creature, and which a creature cannot mar. Give me a draught of the eternal fountain that lieth in thy immutable, everlasting love and decree. Then shall my hand never weaken, my feet never stumble, my sword never rest, my shield never rust, my helmet never shatter, my breastplate never fall, as my strength rests in the power of thy might. Amen!”

The devil exists. God has struck him with a fatal blow, through Christ’s finished work on the cross. However, this side of paradise he still seeks to devour us. Stay alert and claim the victory.

It is an honor to do life with each of you. Let’s be watchful. With encouragement and prayer for one another trust God for the victory every day and in all circumstances.

On Discipline 11-13-17

By Pastor's Blog

I gathered with a group of friends this morning for prayer. We come together monthly for this purpose. As we got ready to pray, we got on the subject of exercise. Each of us admitted that we don’t get excited to go workout, but feel the benefit when we do. It is worth the effort, but it takes discipline. Discipline is not a popular word, but necessary for us to flourish in almost every area of our life.

Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13).

What does it mean to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?” Some mistakenly think it means to work for your salvation. In other words, work each day to earn your salvation. This is clearly not the purpose of Paul’s writing. We couldn’t do anything to earn our salvation before coming to Christ and aren’t required or capable of doing anything today that earns us the right to remain in Him. We, who believe, live in a saving relationship with God solely by placing our faith in Christ who died for our sins and resurrected for our salvation. Therefore, Paul is not writing about living in fear of whether or not we are accepted by God in Christ.

What then is Paul writing for us to do? Paul is writing to encourage us to keep in step with God. We are to live in union with Him. The “fear and trembling” is directly related to taking great care that we live a surrendered life in Christ. For our salvation to bear fruit, in the here and now, we need to obey the Lord in all things. The good news is that we don’t do this alone. God is working in us. God lovingly empowers and guides us in working out what we know to be true in our daily living.

This is where the spiritual disciplines fit into our walk with Christ. They are called spiritual disciplines because they take discipline. Time and energy are necessary to participate in these soul exercises. Richard Foster identifies twelve crucial disciplines divided into three categories: inward, outward, and corporate practices.

Disciplines of Personal Development (Inward)

  • Prayer – communicating with God (Matt. 6:9)
  • Meditation – focusing on God and his will  (Phil. 4:8)
  • Fasting – a reminder of the source of all nourishment (Luke 5:35)
  • Study – careful attention to the reality that God reveals to us, especially through Holy Scripture (Luke 2:46)

Disciplines of Service to the Body of Christ (Outward)

  • Simplicity – seeking God’s Kingdom first (Matt. 6:33)
  • Submission – placing God’s will above one’s own (Luke 22:42)
  • Solitude – withdrawing from the world to spend time with God (Matt. 14:23)
  • Service – supportive action toward others (Mark 10:45)

Disciplines of Service with the Body of Christ (Corporate)

  • Confession – acknowledging one’s sin with and to others in the community of faith (James 5:16)
  • Guidance – giving and receiving direction from others along the journey with Jesus (Acts 15:8)
  • Celebration – taking joy is what God has done (1 Cor 5:8)
  • Worship – giving God glory through attitudes and actions (1 Cor. 14:26)

These disciplines help us move our perspective from a naturalistic point of view to one in alignment with the Lord. However, they do take time and energy. There may be times when we don’t want to do what is necessary to grow in Christ and keep in step with Him. But, let me remind you that it is worth the effort so that we can flourish in Christ. We know that physical exercise is worth the effort. Similarly, soul exercises are worth the effort.

Let us encourage one another to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling,” while being mindful that we don’t do it alone. God is at work within us. We participate in these soul exercises so that we will be prepared to live in union with God and flourish in Him. It is such a blessing to be on this great journey with the Lord as well as with each of you.

The Plumb Line 11-6-17

By Pastor's Blog

I am amazed by skilled carpenters. My father-in-law is one. He has often stated that you can do anything with the right tools. I am not sure I could, but I am confident he could. Over the years I have received many tools from him. Usually, it is a gift given when he realizes I don’t have what he needs to complete a particular job he is doing for me at my house. Most of my tools look as good as new.

In the Bible we find many types of imagery such as agricultural and yes construction. There are a couple places in Scripture where a plumb line is mentioned. Builders use a plumb line consisting of a cord that has at one end a weight acting as a plumb bob to determine if something is straight and square.

The prophet Isaiah proclaimed:

“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter” (Isa 28:16-17).

Here the plumb line is defined as justice and righteousness. Another word is upright, a synonym of vertical. God judges what is upright by his standards, a divine plumb line.

The prophet Amos also used this imagery of a plumb line:

“This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them’” (Amos 7:7-8).

Here God is speaking about the false religion found in Israel. God uses His divine plumb line to measure if the people of Israel are upright. God is testing the spirituality, morality, and genuineness of the people against His standard.

The idea of a spiritual standard of measure is also found in the New Testament. God uses similar imagery such as a measuring rod (Rev 11:1). To the Laodicean church, God uses fire to refer to a test instead of a plumb line (Rev 3:14-22).

God’s Word is the primary vehicle the Lord provides for us to test whether or not we are upright or plumb. James writes:

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:23-25).

For believers, the Word of God is a looking glass revealing the true nature of their heart and works. God’s Word is not meant to enslave us to work for righteousness. The Bible is our mirror, not our master. But, it does help us determine if we are upright or if there is something in our life that is not plumb or square. The Bible does not condemn a believer but may bring conviction of a particular action that needs to be taken to align self with the Lord. As we partner with the Spirit, exploring God’s Word, we provided an excellent opportunity to see areas in our life that need work as well as be equipped and empowered to have these adjustments made to more clearly reflect Christ.

One thing I have discovered over the years is that the more you use a tool, the better you get at using it. God’s Word is the same. I pray as each of us will allow God’s divine plumb line to reveal where we are in our spiritual journey with Him and let Him lead us in the mission of reflecting Him as His beautiful workmanship.

It is a joy serving alongside each of you. Let’s encourage one another to engage God’s divine plumb line, the Bible. Let’s support one another to take the next step the Lord is calling us to make by His power and grace.

When God Smiles 10-30-17

By Pastor's Blog

There is a phenomenon that occurs with a newborn baby where they look up and notice for the first time someone looking at them. They often respond to the smiling onlooker with a smile in return. Psychologists call this attunement. The baby has become aware or socially attuned to others.

This phenomenon reminds me of a great blessing in the Old Testament I have always enjoyed:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26).

A shining face is a smiling face. This blessing speaks of God focusing on you with a brilliant smile. Our heavenly Father notices us.

There is an account recorded in Luke’s gospel of Christ noticing a woman in need. The story describes a lady who had suffered from a disability for eighteen years. If there were ever a good excuse to miss church, I would guess that this woman’s disability would have been it. However, she went to the synagogue on a particular day when Jesus just happened to be teaching. Luke records:

“When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God” (Lk 13:12-13).

This miraculous healing easily overshadows the fact that Luke thought it important to note “Jesus saw her.” The wording in the Greek (the original language of Luke’s gospel) carries the idea of paying attention or noticing. Jesus noticed this woman. God incarnate looked upon this woman, noticed her and her need and blessed her by infusing her body with His healing power.

I have to admit I often go through life so focused on the next thing that I forget that God is graciously looking upon me. I also can be in such a hurry to accomplish the next thing that I can be blinded to those around me. I can walk right past someone without noticing him.

As I look at the Gospels much of what is recorded of Christ is found in His interaction with individuals. He makes himself available to a man seeking wisdom by the name of Nicodemus and Jesus patiently brought clarity. There was a woman ready to be executed for her sin, and Jesus intervened and lovingly released her as He gave her the secret to living in freedom. There was a woman at a well that any respectable Jew would have avoided, but he noticed her and introduced her to the path to salvation and abundant living.

God notices us. Jesus exemplified this time and time again as recorded in the Gospels. I want to follow His example. I want to be His hands and feet to the world around me.

I am reminded that intention precedes attention. I need to slow down and walk intentionally so I can notice those the Lord brings into my path each day. I want them to know that there is a God in heaven who desires to bring salvation and partnership in life to those who will notice and respond to Him. I ask the Lord to make me aware of others and respond accordingly with His love ad message.

It is a privilege to do life with each of you at Crosswinds. I ask the Lord to make His face shine upon you as well as give you the ability and pause to receive His smile and reflect it to others. I ask God to continue to make us a people who notice others and respond accordingly by sharing His love and message.

On Humility 10-23-17

By Pastor's Blog

I have heard it said of humility that once you believe you’ve gotten it you’ve lost it. That thought has always amused me. Years ago I read a small book written by Andrew Murray simply titled Humility. Although it is one of the shortest books I have read since grade school, it is a storehouse of knowledge on the subject. Murray writes,

“If humility be the secret of His atonement, then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend on putting this grace first too.”

Jesus describing Himself stated that He was, “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29). It would be inconsistent to have a Savior who is the model of humility and claim to be followers of His who seek to be any less.

I remember an encounter with such a reflection of Christ’s humility. I was only a couple of years into my first pastorate when I met up with a friend at a leadership conference. He was an acquaintance of a well-known leader I had always wanted to meet. My friend pointed at a row and asked me to choose which one of the individuals sitting in a  particular row I believed him to be. I had never seen him before. I had only heard about him and read some of his writings. Confidently, I pointed at a person, and my friend said I was incorrect. I guessed a couple more times until finally I gave up and asked him to point out the leader to me. The person, my friend, pointed out to me seemed to be one of the most unassuming individuals in the row. He did not have the face of the most determined. He was not expounding leadership wisdom while others listened. He was sitting, quietly listening to the others in his group. I understood a bit what the prophet must have gone through when he was instructed by God to anoint one of Jesse’s sons king of Israel. Samuel had thought it would be the oldest or the strongest and on and on, but discovered how God chooses a man or woman. The Lord looks for a person after His own heart (see: Acts 13:22). Many years later I had the opportunity to get to know this particular leader and discovered him to be as humble as he appeared to be years earlier. The world needs to see more leaders who reflect Christ’s humility.

Lance Witt in his book Replenish suggests four practical means by which we can embrace humility.

  • Make much of Jesus.

“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)

  • Work hard at praising others and not yourself.
  • Be interested in others more and interested in yourself less.
  • Stay in touch with grace. Witt explains, “Never get over what it means that God loves you and saved you and adopted you into His family.”

I have to admit that I have not mastered humility, but I am committed to continuing to grow in this grace. I want to reflect Christ in every way. The Lord’s decision to leave the splendors of heaven, take upon Himself humanity, with the purpose of stretching out His hands on the cross for my salvation humbles me. I pray, Lord, make me “gentle and humble in heart.”

It is my honor to serve with each of you. I pray that each of us is both confident in Christ and humble in spirit. I pray the evidence of such a life is our generous living and extravagant love towards God and other. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

Be blessed and bless others

Biblically Rooted 10-16-17

By Pastor's Blog

Almost daily I am amazed at how words written thousands of years ago in Scripture are relevant today. In particular, I was reading through the book of First Corinthians; this is a letter Paul wrote in the late 50’s AD to a church that claimed to have a deep love for Christ but had allowed wrong attitudes about what it means to be the church take root. Paul tackles sin problems in the church at Corinth. Look at the great challenge  Paul makes at the close of the letter: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love” (1 Cor 16:13-14).

The church had apparently succumbed to a worldly way of thinking about ministry, so Paul writes, “Be on guard.” The word picture this statement presents is that of a soldier standing guard and needing to stay awake, to be alert, so that those who wish to bring harm are identified and dealt with appropriately. The church in Corinth had fallen asleep at the wheel, so to speak, and allowed their thinking and therefore their actions to be negatively affected. We, the church, need to stay awake, stand guard, and not allow our thinking and practices to wander from God’s intent.

For the purity of Christ’s church as well as the gospel message Paul declares, “Stand firm in the faith.” The church at Corinth had proven to be susceptible to false teachers and was led astray. Paul challenges them to know the true gospel and walk in it. It is a common temptation for believers to try to alter the truth of the Bible into something that pleases their palate. But, God’s Word’s transforming power is only experienced when believers submit themselves to the Spirit and conform to the parameter of safety spelled out in God’s Word

The challenge to “Be courageous and be strong” involves resisting pressure to merely mold ministry methods into the image of the prevalent culture. This is not a statement against cultural relevance, but cultural conformity. Indeed, we need to present the gospel message and ministry in a way that connects to others, but we must do so by being strong and courageously refusing to be a mere reflection of the culture in what we say and do. The world needs to hear and see the real gospel. Effectiveness necessities cultural relevance but becomes ineffective when it is merely cultural conformity. Here is a key question I believe can help us navigate these waters correctly: Is the desire to connect people to Christ driving the method or is the method driving or even changing the gospel truth? The former ought to always be our goal.

Finally, Paul writes that the church is to “do everything with love.” The church in Corinth had allowed preferences to cause division and jealousy selfishly. Such wrongful behavior by God’s people is in direct opposition to Christ’s words, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). We don’t drift toward commitment. Or as Zig Ziglar put it: “People don’t tend to wander around and suddenly find themselves at the top of Mount Everest.” Believers have to be focused on Christ to reflect His love. Preferences about music styles and volume, sermon length and style, carpet, color, and coffee is a natural part of who we are, but when we allow our preferences to take our eyes off the main thing selfishly, it is sin. We are to know God and make Him known. This is the main thing and always trumps personal preferences for the greater good of advancing God’s kingdom.

I am so thankful Crosswinds is committed to being biblically rooted. We today, stand on the shoulders of thousands of believers who for generations have shared the love and message of Christ to our region. I trust we will honor them and most importantly Christ by studying and applying His Word to our lives. Paul encourages us: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

Be blessed and bless others,