DO WE REALIZE THE POWER WE HAVE?

Have you had the experience of telling an unbeliever about your joy in Christ and had him respond with something like: “I’m happy for you.“ The message? Christianity is not for me, but if it is helping you, go for it. Because “the whole world lies under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19) the world is blinded to the fact that Jesus, and only Jesus, is the “true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20) They are also blind to the fact that in Jesus, and Jesus alone, is power.   We must daily remind our souls what we have in Jesus. When God created the first Adam, Adam was glorious, for was in the image of God. But when Adam was tempted, he fell, and the whole of humanity fell with him. The “imago dei” was […]

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Why We Crave Close Friends

Discovering Jesus in Genesis 1 can impact us in several ways. First, the light dawns on who He really is. How I remember Debbie in our Seeker’s Bible Study. We had just read the opening of John’s thundering prologue: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not any thing made that was made.   Debbie pressed her fingers to her temples and scrunched her eyes shut: “This is giving me a headache! I thought Jesus was born at Christmas! How could he have been there at the beginning if he was born at Christmas? I can’t wrap my head around this!” I smiled and thought, She has a headache because she is in […]

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SUMMER: THE JESUS WHO SURPRISES

WELCOME TO OUR SUMMER STUDY! I BELIEVE YOU WILL BE GREATLY REFRESHED BY THE SWEET COMMUNITY GOD HAS PROVIDED HERE. SUMMER IS A GIFT! FOR MANY OF US IT CAN MEAN BREAKING FROM THE MADDENING PACE. MORE TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS, AND IF WE ARE PURPOSEFUL, A TIME TO SLOW DOWN AND SEE OUR LORD IN UNEXPECTED PLACES! THE SCRIPTURAL SPRINGBOARD FOR THIS SUMMER STUDY IS  MY FAVORITE HISTORICAL BIBLE STORY: THE WALK TO EMMAUS. WHEN THE RISEN CHRIST WALKED BESIDE THE TWO UNSUSPECTING DISCIPLES, HE SHOWED THEM HOW HE WAS IN ALL THEIR SCRIPTURES. NEXT WEEK, FOR EXAMPLE, WE WILL LOOK AT GENESIS 1, FIND JESUS HIDDEN THERE, AND CONSIDER HOW THAT IMPACTS US, FOR IT DOES! ALSO: WE WILL KEEP OUR ANTENNAE UP TO SEE JESUS IN EVERYDAY LIFE WE WILL GET HELP IN THIS FROM A […]

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EXPERIENCING GOD’S PRESENCE (TWO WEEK EXPERIMENT!)

i THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN AND EDIFYING! THIS WEEK AND MEMORIAL DAY WEEK, TOGETHER, WE ARE GOING TO ASK GOD TO HELP US EXPERIENCE HIS PRESENCE, AND REPORT HERE. HE COMES IN MANY WAYS. PSALM 19 TELLS US THAT THE HEAVENS DECLARE HIS GLORY, AND THE FIRMAMENT HIS HANDIWORK. EVEN “UNBELIEVERS” HAVE A SENSE OF AWE. IN MY LITTLE VILLAGE THE SUMMER TOURISTS LINE THE SHORE IN THE HEART OF TOWN AND CLAP WHEN THE SUN SINKS BELOW THE HORIZON. THE SEASONS TOO ECHO HIS FAITHFULNESS. WE HERE IN NORTHERN WISCONSIN WAIT AND WAIT FOR SPRING, AND MAY BE TEMPTED TO SAY “WHERE IS THE PROMISE OF ITS COMING?” YET COME SHE ALWAYS DOES, JUST AS HE WILL SURELY COME. FORGET-ME-NOTS COVER OUR FORESTS, REMINDING ME NOT TO FORGET HIM. LIFE WHERE THERE HAD SEEMED TO BE […]

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WHEN MOTHER’S DAY IS PAINFUL

SOME WOMEN WILL STAY HOME FROM CHURCH TODAY, FOR THEY ALREADY HAVE A KNIFE IN THEIR HEART. THEY DON’T WANT TO SENSE THE EYES OF OTHERS UPON THEM, OR TO BE HANDED A ROSE AS THEY LEAVE BECAUSE THEY ARE A WOMAN, KNOWING THOSE ROSES WERE REALLY INTENDED FOR MOTHERS. THAT ONLY PUSHES THE KNIFE FURTHER IN. THEIR FRIENDS CARRY BABIES IN THEIR WOMBS OR IN THEIR ARMS, WHILE THEY FEEL SO EMPTY. WHY DOES GOD GIVE SO FREELY TO SOME WOMEN AND WITHHOLD FROM OTHERS? ** OTHER MOTHERS ARE IN PRISON, FEELING LIKE FAILURES AS MOTHERS, REMEMBERING WHEN THEY HAD TO SAY GOOD-BYE TO A CHILD WHO WAS ANGRY WITH THEM AND ANGRY WITH GOD. THOSE MOTHERS ARE ANGRY WITH THEMSELVES, ANXIOUS TO RETURN TO THEIR CHILDREN, ANXIOUS ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN’S EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL, AND SPIRITUAL STATE. SOME HAVE NOT […]

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THE TRINITY, THE SHACK, AND THE GOSPEL

  You may have heard that the Father, Son, and Spirit are all the same God, but they wear different masks, have different roles, like I am a mother, sister, and friend, but am just one person. But no. God the Father is not God the Son and God the Son is not God the Spirit. If there was only one Person, Reeves explains, He could not have died for us. Neither would they be in a dance with each other! Yet, still, the Father, Son, and Spirit are one, in perfect harmony. Mike Reeves says, rather, when Jesus says that He and the Father are one, He doesn’t mean they are the same, but just taking different roles, but rather, taking an earthly and scriptural illustration, that they are like the husband and wife who become one in marriage. […]

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WHY THE TRINITY DELIGHTS AND MATTERS!

It is only when we understand the Triune God that we see how the living God is set apart from the idols of human imagination. (Mike Reeves) HOW DOES ONE EXPLAIN THE TRINITY? NOT, REEVES SAYS, WITH THREE OF THESE EXAMPLES: A teacher might say, “God is like water — sometimes watery, sometimes icy, and sometime steamy.” HELP! Or God might be compared to an egg or an apple! PLEASE, NO! THIS WILL NOT DO FOR OUR AWESOME, RELATIONAL, LOVING GOD. Mike Reeves says: Far better to go to the baptism of Jesus. For just as we saw the Trinity dancing over the waters in Genesis, it is happening again! For, as we saw last week, here we see the Trinity relating in love. The Son submitting to the Father. The Spirit glorifying the Son. The Father loving the Son. […]

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ARE YOU IN THE DANCE WITH THE TRINITY?

  JOIN US IN A SHORT SERIES ON THE TRINITY! IN THE FREE SERMON THIS WEEK, TIM KELLER ASKS: DO YOU JUST BELIEVE IN GOD, OR ARE YOU IN THE DANCE? C. S. LEWIS, MIKE REEVES, TIM KELLER — AND MANY ANCIENT CHURCH FATHERS COMPARED THE TRINITY TO A DANCE. THEY HAD A NAME FOR IT:  C. S. LEWIS WROTE: GOD IS A DYNAMIC PULSATING ACTIVITY, A DRAMA, ALMOST, IF YOU NOT THINK ME IRREVERANT, A DANCE WHEN JOHN WROTE HIS FIRST LETTER, HE SPOKE OF THE JOY OF THIS “DANCE,” THIS “FELLOWSHIP,” SAYING, “And indeed, our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ!” You see, the Spirit reveals to us the true identity of the Son, and when we respond to Him, we become children of God and then join into the dance with the […]

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HE IS RISEN INDEED!

THE EARLY CHRISTIANS WOULD GREET EACH OTHER LIKE THIS: VITAL TO THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS THE UNDERSTANDING THAT CHRIST HAD COME IN THE FLESH (THE INCARNATION) AND RISEN IN THE FLESH, FOR SOON THE SPIRIT OF FALSEHOOD WOULD ARISE FROM THE FATHER OF LIES THAT JESUS WAS NOT DIVINE, BUT JUST A MAN LIKE US; THAT HE WAS NOT GOD IN THE FLESH, AND THAT HE HAD NOT RISEN IN THE FLESH. BUT THE WORD BECOME FLESH (JESUS) MADE IT ABUNDANTLY CLEAR, WITH HIS MANY APPEARANCES AFTER THE RESURRECTION, TO MANY DIFFERENT INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS, ALLOWING THEM TO SEE, HEAR, AND TOUCH HIM. HE HAD RISEN IN THE FLESH INDEED. “TOUCH ME AND SEE” HE SAID, “FOR A SPIRIT HAS NOT FLESH AND BONES AS YOU SEE THAT I HAVE.” TIM KELLER EXPLAINS THAT ALL THE WORLD RELIGIONS HAD A […]

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THE HOLIEST WEEK 2017

WE WILL WALK TOGETHER THIS HOLY WEEK, CONTEMPLATING THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN FOR US. EACH DAY WE WILL MEDITATE TOGETHER, DRAWING FROM THE CENTERPIECE OF THE GREAT SCROLL OF ISAIAH: ISAIAH 53. NO DOUBT YOU HAVE HEARD OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, AND OF HOW THESE ANCIENT TEXTS WERE DISCOVERED BEGINNING IN THE 1940’S IN THE CAVES OF QUMRAN. AMAZINGLY, THE ANCIENT SCROLL OF ISAIAH WAS NEARLY INTACT AND WAS ONE THOUSAND YEARS OLDER THAN ANYTHING THEY HAD AT THAT POINT.  A COPY OF THE SCROLL CAN BE SEEN IN THIS MUSEUM IN THE HOLY LAND AND THE ORIGINAL IS KEPT SEALED IN A ROOM BELOW THE MUSEUM. I AM EAGER FOR YOU TO WATCH AN EXCELLENT DOCUMENTARY ON THIS AMAZING ARCHEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY AND ON ISAIAH 53 THAT WILL STIR YOUR SOUL AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH IN THE RELIABILITY […]

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MAN OF SORROWS SMITTEN BY GOD

FOR THESE LAST TWO WEEKS BEFORE EASTER SUNDAY WE WILL BE STANDING ON HOLY GROUND. IN A CHURCH I USED TO FREQUENT IN KANSAS CITY, THEY HAD COMMUNION EACH WEEK, AND MANY OF THE YOUNG FERVENT BELIEVERS TOOK OFF THEIR SHOES BEFORE WALKING UP TO THE ALTAR TO RECEIVE COMMUNION. I LIKED THAT. AND FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS I’D LIKE US TO DO THE EQUIVALENT IN OUR MINDS. FOR IN THIS ULTIMATE SERVANT SONG, FOR WE ARE, INDEED, STANDING ON HOLY GROUND. SO OFTEN WE DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT GOD IS DOING. OUR OWN PRECIOUS MARY E HAS A TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS. OUR OWN CHRIS HAD A GODLY SON MURDERED. HOW DO WE RECONCILE THESE THINGS WITH A LOVING GOD? HOW DO WE GO ON WHEN WE ARE IN GREAT PAIN AND GOD SEEMS SILENT? ONLY BY LOOKING AT THE MAN […]

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THE BATTLE AGAINST THE DARKNESS

Sometimes I do not know if trouble is in my life because I live in a fallen world, because I have sinned, or because I am experiencing spiritual warfare. But two weeks ago, when I was giving a retreat, it became clear, Satan did not want me giving the message I had planned for Saturday night. It was on overcoming the lies of Satan during suffering. Friday night and Saturday morning, everything went smoothly. But Saturday afternoon I wrenched my back somehow and could hardly stand up, but I was going to set my face like flint and power through. Then, just before I was to speak, my complicated audio-visuals refused to work. Even the mike failed. The women at the retreat were mature and I told them I thought it was spiritual warfare since the message was on overcoming […]

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THE SONG OF THE BRIDEGROOM

THE SERVANT SONG THIS WEEK IS FROM THE LORD JESUS HIMSELF, OUR ULTIMATE BRIDEGROOM. THIS SONG CULMINATES WITH THE NEWS THAT HE WILL REJOICE OVER US AS A BRIDEGROOM REJOICES OVER HIS BRIDE. IT CONSISTS OF A SINGLE SONG, SEVEN VERSES, THAT BEGINS IN ISAIAH 61:10 AND CULMINATES IN ISAIAH 62:5. HOW DO WE KNOW JESUS IS SPEAKING? WE LOOK BACK TO ISAIAH 61:1-3, AND TO THE SCROLL THAT LUKE TELLS US JESUS UNROLLED AND READ. AFTER READING ISAIAH 61:1-3, JESUS SAT DOWN AND SAID: “TODAY THIS SCRIPTURE IS FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING.” I AM EXCITED ABOUT THIS WEEK, NOT ONLY BECAUSE IT PICTURES JESUS AS OUR BRIDEGROOM, BUT BECAUSE I HAVE A WONDERFUL FREE VIDEO FROM MIKE REEVES ON THIS SONG. REEVES IS THE THEOLOGIAN WHO HELPED US SEE JESUS AS THE BRIDEGROOM IN THE SONG OF SONGS. NOW […]

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CAN A MOTHER FORGET?

BECAUSE OF HER SUFFERING, ISRAEL FELT GOD HAD FORGOTTEN HER. “THE LORD HAS FORSAKEN ME, MY LORD HAS FORGOTTEN ME.” (ISAIAH 49:14) HAVE YOU EVER FELT THAT WAY? I CERTAINLY HAVE. MANY OF YOU HAVE HEARD THIS STORY, SO I’LL TELL A READER’S DIGEST VERSION, FOR IT FITS SO PERFECTLY WITH THIS WEEK’S SONG FROM ISAIAH. I was a new widow, missing Steve so. We used to call each other co-dependent insomniacs, because if one of us couldn’t sleep, he or she would say to the other, “Are you awake?” And then we both would be. So often Steve would pray over me, sing over me, or say our favorite nursery rhyme to try to lull me to sleep. “Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod sailed out on a moonlit night.” I missed my husband so. I lamented: “Lord, You promised to […]

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A SMOLDERING WICK

ALL OF US HAVE HAD TIMES WHEN WE FELT LIKE A SMOLDERING WICK WHERE IS THE FIRE, THE PASSION, THE FAITH WE HAD TO BELIEVE? LIKE PETER, WE ALL HAVE FAILED. AND THE ENEMY IS CLEVER, KNOWING THAT FAILURE CAN LEAD TO RETREAT, AND THEN EVEN TO DOUBT. BUT IF WE ARE HIS, THERE IS ALWAYS A FLICKER OF LIFE, A SMOLDERING FLAME THAT HE WILL NEVER PUT OUT. ISAIAH PROMISES THAT THE MESSIAH WILL NOT PUT OUT A SMOLDERING WICK. INSTEAD, HIS SPIRIT WILL FAN IT INTO FLAME. HE MAY BRUISE US TO DO IT AS HE DID PETER OUR RESPONSE TO THE BRUISING IS IMPORTANT. IF WE RESPOND WITH TRUST, HE CAN MAKE US A GREAT HEART, AS HE MADE PETER A GREAT HEART. HERE IS THE PROMISE FROM ISAIAH: Here is something else: The Lord is revealing […]

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