Sunday, September 23, 2018

Day of Praise

Mon, 09/24/18, "Day of Praise"

He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." - Acts 19:2

So I'm walking across a parking lot, and I hear someone calling out. I wasn't wearing pastor clothes, so I didn't think they were calling to me about a pastoral matter, if they were even calling to me at all. They weren't calling me by name, but I hear them call out again, so I turned to look who it might be. 

I saw this guy walking from an 18-wheeler, and he asks me if I know my way around this area. I said I did, so he asks me about an address as he pulls out a wad of paper with some scribbled directions. 

I asked him if he had a gps. He said no. I might as well have said what I thought, which was something along the lines of "Are you kidding? In this day and age?" 

But the Holy Spirit zapped me, so instead I said, "Let me buy you a biscuit, and then I'll lead you there."

That's what happened in today's Bible verse. Paul asked, "Do you have a gps?" And the people said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a gps." Then Paul almost said, "Are you kidding? In this day and age?" But the Holy Spirit zapped him, so instead he said, "Let me buy you a biscuit, and then I'll lead you there."

Well, that's not exactly what happened, but I'm sure that, to some extent, Saint Paul was surprised that they'd never heard of the Holy Spirit. But in actuality what he did was that he realized they needed what they didn't know about, so he just asked them another question, and then he took action to give them what they were missing out on. 

That's what God wants us to do. 

God wants us to recognize that we may, to some extent, be surprised by what people don't know in this day and age. Most importantly, I know for a fact that there are many Christians who don't know that we have peace with God through a simple trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself, in Luke 16:14-18, says that there are people trying to get in good with God by trusting in their own goodness. Furthermore, the Bible recounts this mistaken trust in oneself or money or power or position or association with "the right people." God says that right trust is placed in God and God Almighty alone through Jesus.

But when we discover that someone has misplaced trust (or has no real understanding of the blessings available to us from God through the Holy Spirit) instead of saying, "Are you kidding me?" God wants us to do what Paul did. God wants us to realize they need what they don't know about, and then take action to give them what they're missing out on. 

Don't assume that everyone knows about God's goodness and Jesus and mercy and grace and forgiveness and peace and the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Instead, let's meet people today as God has always met us and all people, namely, with the eagerness to make sure that people know about and claim all the blessings that God has lovingly prepared and freely offered to us, his children, who sorely need them in order for us to have the abundant life that God desires for all his children! 

Praise God!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Day of Praise

Fri, 09/21/18, "Day of Praise"

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" - Psalm 42:1-2

Apparently, they were everywhere. That's why they had hunting season. But when I was a kid, I thought that deer were only on my Pap Yost's farm in central Pennsylvania.

I don't think I ever told anybody, but I thought the deer lived just inside the woods. At the top of the big hill, that was not quite a mountain.

My Pap had a big cornfield that ran from the top of the big hill, down the hill, and then across the flat to the farm house and buildings. In my mind there was a beautiful brook that ran between the bottom of the hill and the flat.

In my mind, one of the beautiful things about the brook was that it was a place for the deer to drink. I could see the deer coming down the big hill and drinking from the brook.

But I never saw them do that. I never saw them drink from the brook because, in my mind, they were afraid. They were afraid it was hunting season.

So they thirsted. The deer panted for streams of water, but stayed away because of their fears.

In today's verse, God says that we're like the deer. God says that as the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God, so much so that we ask ourselves, "When can I go and meet with God?"

And God would know because God made the deer...and us.

God knows that fear keeps deer and us away from life-giving water. So God sent Jesus to wipe away fear and everything else that keeps us from God.

And Jesus wiped away fear and everything else that keeps us from God so that your soul that thirsts for God would know the answer to the question in today's verse.

"When can I go and meet with God?"

Anytime you want.

Christ is risen. To be with you. And quench the fears and thirst of your soul.

Drink of him today, and be blessed.

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Day of Praise

Thur, 09/20/18, "Day of Praise"

"The Lord is my light" - Psalm 27:1

When I was a teen, a pastor told me that the life of faith, in response to God's love, includes three things: 1) love God, 2) love people, and 3) love puzzles.

The puzzles part, he told me, is where a Christian always tries to listen to others and get to know them. It's what Jesus called "seeking and saving." As you listen to more and more people and get to know them, you try to fit the pieces of people's lives together with others, like a puzzle, helping people work together with their commonalities and various God-given gifts so that they can encourage each other in Christ and reach out to the surrounding community, inviting others to Christ.

It's the Biblical picture of the "Body of Christ" where different parts of the body fit together into one body, like puzzle pieces fitting together into one picture.

It's a great image. But there's one major requirement for doing puzzles--light.

I've never been able to do a puzzle in the dark, especially the puzzle of working together as the Body of Christ. And praise God that we don't have to.

In today's verse, we hear that the Lord is our light so that we don't have to put energy into our fears or anything else that would prevent us from listening to one another, working together, and bringing lives together, like puzzle pieces, in Jesus Christ.

In John 8:12, Jesus reiterates how he shines as light so we can see what we're doing. He says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Ultimately, what Jesus helps us to see is God and the people in our lives and how, in following Jesus, our lives can come together in mutual encouragement and loving service to other people around us so that they can see and serve God too.

As you go about your day today, look at the people (family, friends, and even strangers), believing that Jesus is shining as light for the world so that we can see plainly how our lives can fit together as one...

Namely, like a puzzle, which when finished, shows one picture, namely, God's light and love for us all in Jesus Christ.

Praise God!



Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Day of Praise

Wed, 09/19/18, "Day of Praise" 

"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, 'Woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home." - John 19:26-27 

It's a simple model. Jesus didn't let anythIng get in the way of making sure that his mother was cared for, not even his work, not even his work of saving the whole world, not even his work of savIng the whole world while he was in immeasurable pain on the cross. 

Jesus loved his mother and made sure that she was provided for. 

Jesus, who is God the Son, is our model. 

Celebrate all the great things about your mother today and everyday, not just next year when Mother's Day rolls around again. Pray for your mother's needs each day. If possible, call your mom and chat and tell her you love her! And let's do our very best to make sure that the needs of our mothers are taken care of, just like Jesus did with Mary.  

Hi, Mom, I love you! 

Praise God! 


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson


The DNA of a Disciple Making Movement

Imagine a day when disciple making is the norm for the local church! Everyday Christians engage in relationships with people (inside and outside the church) so that they can show the love of Jesus and help people to trust and follow him. Churches are known as disciple making places, where Jesus-like people are created. And pastors are evaluated by the people they raise up and the disciple makers they have made in the Spirit's power. Jesus' message AND Jesus' methods dominate. What would it take? I would like to suggest the DNA of a movement.

1. The Gospel is our message – this Good news is focused on Jesus and his death, burial, and resurrection. All who respond to salvation are also called to discipleship, no exceptions, no excuses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Mark 8:34-38). The gospel we preach and believe dictates the kind of disciples we are and the kind of disciples we make. If we attempt to make a Christ-like disciple from a non-discipleship gospel we will fail [A non-discipleship gospel is one that does not include discipleship as a natural part of the message and expectation]. Historically, many have called this Biblical response to the Gospel the "Gospel Imperative."

2. We are Compelled to be and make disciples of Jesus. We believe Jesus Christ is supreme and worthy of all devotion, worship, and emulation – and disciple making is a natural and necessary life responses to Jesus. With laser focus, it was Jesus himself who made disciples who could make disciples… and then Jesus commanded us to do the same (Matthew 28:16-20, John 20:21).

3. Jesus is the model (for life and ministry).  Jesus showed us how to live life and how to make disciples.  We seek to emulate his method and model. As the sinless second Adam, He was man as God intended man to be.  He then told us, "do what I have done" (John 14:12) and "walk as I have walked" (I John 2:6).   Paul understood this when he said, "imitate me as I imitate Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). Discipleship demands us to "follow" the resurrected Christ, and "imitate" the priorities and patterns of the incarnate Christ.  We prefer to use the expression "Disciple Making" over "discipleship" because the former is closer to the words of the Great Commission and the latter is often mischaracterized (Matthew 28:18-20). We like the expression "Jesus model of disciple making," as a summary of what we do.

4. Love is the driving motive.  The Great Commandment precedes the Great Commission. 

And there's more. Tell me if you'd like to hear more. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Day of Praise

Tues, 09/18/18, "Day of Praise" 

"[Solomon prayed] 'When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord...then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.'" - 1 Kings 8:44-45 

When I was in college, I was blessed to have Christian fellowship on campus with a man named Bob Schindler. Bob was with the Navigators ministry on college campuses and also worked a full-time engineering job, in addition to being a great husband and father. 

Bob loved the Lord. 

Bob loved the Lord so much that trust in the Lord was a natural fruit. Bob asked his engineering company if he could work half-time because that would still provide adequate income for his family and he could devote more time to Jesus through campus ministry. His company said, "No!" 

Bob decided to trust the Lord's calling. After explaining to his company his burden to have more time for ministry as he had requested from them, he left his engineering job. It was a hardship and a battle in many ways on Bob and his family. 

It would be wrong to say, "They prayed." No, instead, they continued to pray. The emphasis is on "continued," because, in the spirit of today's Bible verse, Bob saw the life of faith as full of little wars that constantly try to destroy our faith. As should we all. 

As it turned out, when the Schindlers prayed to the Lord, God heard "from heaven their prayer and their plea, and upheld their cause." (1 Kings 8:45) As it turned out, months after Bob left his engineering job because of his dedication to campus ministry, his company came back to him, recognizing his immeasurable value to their company, and they worked out a plan to bring him back to their company in a way that still freed him for campus ministry, just as Bob had asked for to begin with. 

Today's a work day. Give your employer an honest day's work. But work to the glory of the Lord so that you and yours and your company will all see the blessings of God for those who love him and trust him and pray. 

Praise God! 


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson


The DNA of a Disciple Making Movement

Imagine a day when disciple making is the norm for the local church! Everyday Christians engage in relationships with people (inside and outside the church) so that they can show the love of Jesus and help people to trust and follow him. Churches are known as disciple making places, where Jesus-like people are created. And pastors are evaluated by the people they raise up and the disciple makers they have made in the Spirit's power. Jesus' message AND Jesus' methods dominate. What would it take? I would like to suggest the DNA of a movement.

1. The Gospel is our message – this Good news is focused on Jesus and his death, burial, and resurrection. All who respond to salvation are also called to discipleship, no exceptions, no excuses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Mark 8:34-38). The gospel we preach and believe dictates the kind of disciples we are and the kind of disciples we make. If we attempt to make a Christ-like disciple from a non-discipleship gospel we will fail [A non-discipleship gospel is one that does not include discipleship as a natural part of the message and expectation]. Historically, many have called this Biblical response to the Gospel the "Gospel Imperative."

2. We are Compelled to be and make disciples of Jesus. We believe Jesus Christ is supreme and worthy of all devotion, worship, and emulation – and disciple making is a natural and necessary life responses to Jesus. With laser focus, it was Jesus himself who made disciples who could make disciples… and then Jesus commanded us to do the same (Matthew 28:16-20, John 20:21).

3. Jesus is the model (for life and ministry).  Jesus showed us how to live life and how to make disciples.  We seek to emulate his method and model. As the sinless second Adam, He was man as God intended man to be.  He then told us, "do what I have done" (John 14:12) and "walk as I have walked" (I John 2:6).   Paul understood this when he said, "imitate me as I imitate Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). Discipleship demands us to "follow" the resurrected Christ, and "imitate" the priorities and patterns of the incarnate Christ.  We prefer to use the expression "Disciple Making" over "discipleship" because the former is closer to the words of the Great Commission and the latter is often mischaracterized (Matthew 28:18-20). We like the expression "Jesus model of disciple making," as a summary of what we do.

4. Love is the driving motive.  The Great Commandment precedes the Great Commission. 

And there's more. Tell me if you'd like to hear more. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Day of Praise

Mon, 09/17/18, "Day of Praise"

[And Samuel said to the people,] "Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty." - 1 Samuel 12:20b-21

Amanda and I have our anniversary quickly approaching. One of my reminders is the box her wedding ring was in. The box is in the office room next to our bedroom. 

The ring box with "Diamonds Direct" clearly printed on the top is there for all the world to see. Well, not all the world is coming into our all our rooms, but oftentimes I think how sad it would be if a burglar got in our house and made off with the ring box. I think how sad that would be because of what's actually in the box. 

Namely, nothing. 

There's nothing in the box. Oh sure, it's a nice enough box, and it says "Diamonds Direct" on the outside, but there's absolutely nothing on the inside.

The nice box is empty. 

Just like a lot of stuff that people chase in this world.

Today is a workday. What are you chasing after with your work today? In today's Bible verses, God clearly says through Samuel, "And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty." (1 Samuel 12:21 (ESV))

So what should we chase after with our work? God gives that answer too in today's Bible verses, "Serve the Lord with all your heart."

Passage after passage in the Holy Bible says that if we'll just trust God at the center of all things (Genesis 2), love God above all things (Matthew 22), and seek God first before all things (Matthew 6), then we'll be given everything else that we need and more!

So, have a great day with Jesus!

And remember to "not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty." (1 Samuel 12:20b-21 - ESV)

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson


The DNA of a Disciple Making Movement

Imagine a day when disciple making is the norm for the local church! Everyday Christians engage in relationships with people (inside and outside the church) so that they can show the love of Jesus and help people to trust and follow him. Churches are known as disciple making places, where Jesus-like people are created. And pastors are evaluated by the people they raise up and the disciple makers they have made in the Spirit's power. Jesus' message AND Jesus' methods dominate. What would it take? I would like to suggest the DNA of a movement.

1. The Gospel is our message – this Good news is focused on Jesus and his death, burial, and resurrection. All who respond to salvation are also called to discipleship, no exceptions, no excuses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Mark 8:34-38). The gospel we preach and believe dictates the kind of disciples we are and the kind of disciples we make. If we attempt to make a Christ-like disciple from a non-discipleship gospel we will fail [A non-discipleship gospel is one that does not include discipleship as a natural part of the message and expectation]. Historically, many have called this Biblical response to the Gospel the "Gospel Imperative."

2. We are Compelled to be and make disciples of Jesus. We believe Jesus Christ is supreme and worthy of all devotion, worship, and emulation – and disciple making is a natural and necessary life responses to Jesus. With laser focus, it was Jesus himself who made disciples who could make disciples… and then Jesus commanded us to do the same (Matthew 28:16-20, John 20:21).

3. Jesus is the model (for life and ministry).  Jesus showed us how to live life and how to make disciples.  We seek to emulate his method and model. As the sinless second Adam, He was man as God intended man to be.  He then told us, "do what I have done" (John 14:12) and "walk as I have walked" (I John 2:6).   Paul understood this when he said, "imitate me as I imitate Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). Discipleship demands us to "follow" the resurrected Christ, and "imitate" the priorities and patterns of the incarnate Christ.  We prefer to use the expression "Disciple Making" over "discipleship" because the former is closer to the words of the Great Commission and the latter is often mischaracterized (Matthew 28:18-20). We like the expression "Jesus model of disciple making," as a summary of what we do.

4. Love is the driving motive.  The Great Commandment precedes the Great Commission. 

And there's more. Tell me if you'd like to hear more. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Day of Praise

Sat, 09/15/18, "Day of Praise"

"'Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?' People will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the Lord'" - 2 Chronicles 7:21-22

Based on the testimony of God's word and general observation of life, one of the hardest things for people to learn is the place of good works in the life of grace.

After all, if grace is God giving us good things that we don't deserve, then why do we need to do any good works at all? Such is the question in Romans 6 in the Bible.

But the answer to the question of the place of good works in the life of grace is actually very simple. Our good works, or lack thereof, do not change God's heart toward us. God always loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us so that we can have a great life in him now and forever.

However, our good works, though they don't change God's heart toward us, they do impact our heart toward God. As Jesus says in John 15, our good works, works done with faith in God and love for God, are the way to stay in a relationship with God. We get into a relationship with God by his gracious initiative. We stay in the relationship with God by "good works," which, again, are deeds done with faith in God and love for God, as we hear in Romans 14. Jesus says it this way in John 15, if you stay in my love and keep my commands, you will bear much fruit, but apart from [the relationship with] me, you can do nothing [that endures positively with life].

In Hebrews 12, especially, God plainly tells us that God disciplines (that is, acts to teach) us when we don't do good works of faith and love, in order to teach us how good relationships with God and one another work...or don't work.

God is always graciously faithful to the relationship with us. Period. Even when we're not. But God graciously loves us so much that he wants us to know the unmatched joy of actively being in a relationship with him. So he graciously teaches us the place of good works.

Think about it. Please. Because one of the hardest things for us people to learn is the place of good works in the life of grace.

Dear God, please be gracious, according to your will, plainly revealed through your Son, Jesus Christ, and help us to learn and live out the place of good works in the life of grace, so that we trust you alone to create us, give us "daily bread", and save us for eternal and everlasting life. But help us to see the joy of good works, as you have ordained such works to be the way to stay in and enjoy a relationship with you through faith in you and love toward others. Amen

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Day of Praise

Fri, 09/14/18, "Day of Praise"

"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent--the LORD detests them both." - Proverbs 17:15

If you ever want a measure of how much God loves you, just remember Proverbs 17:15. In that verse, God tells us that he detests both the setting free of a guilty person as if he were not guilty and that God also detests the sentencing to death of an innocent man as if he were guilty! 

In the suffering and cross of Jesus, we shared in both those detestable things as humanity asked for Barabbas, the insurrectionist, to go free and asked that Jesus, the innocent, be sentenced to death and crucified.

Furthermore, the name "Barabbas" means "child or son of God." And his offense of "insurrection" is a fancy way to say "sin or rising up against the ruler [God]". In other words, we, like Barabbas, are children of God who have risen up in sin against God, but we also, like Barabbas the guilty, were set free from the penalty and sentence of death, as Jesus, the innocent, took our place on the cross that we deserved.

We were on both sides of the equation of the two things that God detests.

And yet God, who doubly detests the sentencing that all humanity unjustly laid on his Son, freely sent and gave his Son to die for us so that we might live anew.

And God tells us this in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." So imagine how great is the love when one dies for someone they don't know or dies for someone who has done something they detest. 

Friends, Memorial Day is months behind us, Patriots Day is just behind us, and Veterans Day is never too far ahead for us to stop and ponder. It's a time to remember and give thanks for countless people who died or were willing to die for their friends and for strangers and even for people who have done things that they and God detest. But let's not wait until the last minute to remember and give thanks for all who have died for us and/or served us so that we might go free. No, America, let's bless God now and every day, giving thanks for those who served and gave their lives, that, in the strength of Jesus Christ crucified and raised, we would gladly do the same.

Die to self; live in love.

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Day of Praise

Thur, 09/13/18, "Day of Praise"

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." - Proverbs 4:23

I have known people who have known today's verse for years. And depending on which ones of those people you're talking about, today's verse is either blessedly simple or tragically simple. 

It is blessedly simple for those who know the verse and do it--for those who actually guard what goes in their heart.

And today's verse is tragically simple for those who know the verse and don't do it--for those who do not guard what goes into their heart.

God's appeal to us to guard our heart is simple. But, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 with the parable of the wise and foolish builders, how much such wisdom to "guard our heart" positively impacts your life will totally depend on whether or not you do it.

It's a simple concept. Even children can understand it by way of an all-time favorite children's song.

(VS 1) Oh, be careful little ears what you hear (repeat)
For the Father Up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little ears what you hear.

(VS 2) Oh, be careful little eyes what you see, (repeat)
For the Father up above,
is looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes what you see.

(VS 3) Oh, be careful little mouth what you say, (repeat),
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little mouth what you say.

(VS 4) Oh, be careful little hands what you do (repeat),
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little hands what you do.

(VS 5) Oh, be careful little feet where you go (repeat)
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little feet where you go.

(VS 6) Oh, be careful little mind what you think (repeat)
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little mind what you think.

(VS 7) Oh, be careful little heart what you love (repeat)
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love, 
So be careful little heart what you love.

Praise God!



Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Day of Praise

Wed, 09/12/18, "Day of Praise"

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." - Proverbs 19:21

Don't ya just love our life in the LORD through Christ? Seriously! I love it and pray that you do too.

One of the top things I love is that Almighty and Sovereign God wants to be, and is, involved in our lives in a myriad of ways.

One of the greatest ways that God is involved with us is that God works to "guide us into the way of peace" (Luke 1:79) so that, as in today's verse from Proverbs, God says that we might have plans, but the Lord's purpose prevails.

The thing I love about this is that we don't have to worry about making a mistake because, whenever we make a decision and go with it, God will do one of two things: either affirm the decision or work to get us back on track.

God does this because "God is for us" (Romans 8:31), God has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and God wants us "to have life to the full!" (John 10:10)

So, let's get busy living!

And we do that by trusting God's repeated promise (from Exodus 15:13 to John 16:13) to guide us, by the Holy Spirit, into all the blessings that God has prepared for us.

So, have a great day! Live, believing that "many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" (Proverbs 19:21).

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Monday, September 10, 2018

Day of Praise

Tues, 09/11/18, "Day of Praise"

"Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray." - Proverbs 10:17

Little in life is harder...

Than the giving...

And receiving...

Of rebuke, counsel, and discipline.

But little in life is more important.

This is not some obscure teaching. Instead, in the Bible, God repeatedly speaks of the love, life, and wisdom that are gained and imparted from the receiving and giving of rebuke, counsel, and discipline.

It is hard to receive rebuke, counsel, and discipline because we don't want anymore "bosses" than are required to get our paycheck.

It is hard to give rebuke, counsel, and discipline because we don't want conflict as much as we want "friends," that is, people who like us.

But, praise God, there is more to life than paychecks and people liking us.

In today's verse, God calls us to value two things: 1) "the way to life" as greater than a paycheck and 2) not "leading others astray" as greater than people liking us.

As with all these Days of Praise, there is so much more we could say, but the bottom line is this: God's word plainly and repeatedly tells us that no man or woman is wise about the truly good life in and of themselves.

God himself made us this way, that is, God made us to need one another for the giving and receiving of God's word.

So today, as you interact with others, listen humbly and intently for God's rebuke, counsel, and discipline. And when it's your turn to speak, do so boldly, with confidence in the Lord and love for the person.

Praise God!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Day of Praise

Mon, 09/10/18, "Day of Praise"

"Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." - Proverbs 3:9-10

So add today's verses to the list. Genesis 14, Malachi 3, Matthew 23, Hebrews 7, and today's verses from Proverbs 3:9-10. Through all of these, God speaks plainly of Biblical tithing, which is the promise of God to bless those who bring the "firstfruits" of our labor, the first 10%, to the LORD so as to honor, exalt, and share him with the world.

My own simple testimony is this: since I was a junior in High School, when God moved me to read the Bible from cover to cover for the first time, I have seen that tithing "works." 

I know that giving 10% of income, as a starting point for giving to God's work, seems like a lot, but I've found that God is always true to his promise. In sum, you can't outgive God!

And ya know, there's so much more that I could say with conviction about this tithing thing, about giving the first 10% of your income to the work of the LORD, but it's on my heart just to stop today. And here's why.

You're either going to believe what is God's promise, not mine, or you're not going to believe the promise.

And upon, hopefully, believing, you're either going to act on the promise and (continue to) bring the tithe or not.

It's your choice.

Christ's saving work has both set you free (John 8:33) from being a slave to thinking like the world thinks, and Christ's saving work has also set you free to choose and to be a servant of thinking and acting like God counsels and models.

I'm not trying to make anybody feel guilty. That's not what Day of Praise is all about.

I'm just trying to tell you that God wants you to taste (Psalm 34) some blessings that only God has to offer.

So in a simple prayer, I pray you'll (continue to) give tithing a try, giving 10% both to God and also to the spread of his word.

You won't regret it.

It is God who promises you won't.

"Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." - Proverbs 3:9-10

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Friday, September 7, 2018

Day of Praise

Sat, 09/08/18, "Day of Praise"

"Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; remove wicked officials from the king's presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness." -
Proverbs 25:4-5

When I was a kid in the 70's, I remember listening to and talking to my father about cars. Specifically, I remember wondering why so many Japanese-made cars, like Hondas, rusted so badly. As I understand it, the reason they rusted so badly is that they were made of lesser-quality metals.

Too many impurities.

Too many impurities create a product that can't withstand the weather and time. At least nowhere near as long as higher quality materials.

God made us all to love to praise the Lord. God made us to love to bring glory to his name. This is our true self.

But in today's Bible verses, God says that it's really hard to praise the Lord and bring glory to his name if our lives are filled with too many impurities, too much dross, too much "wickedness," which God tells us in Romans 14 is anything we do apart from faith in God and his word.

To be sure "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), but God calls us to be who God made us to be and to care whether or not God can build, not Japanese-made cars out of us, but his kingdom!

Yes, we fall short, and God is gracious! But do we want, in our heart of hearts, to be high quality "material" with which God can build his kingdom? Or are we apathetic to the whole endeavor?

In Mark 9:24, we hear a father cry out, "I believe, Lord; help my unbelief." In a similar fashion, God would have us cry out, "I want to be a great servant of your kingdom, Lord; please help me where I fall short!"

Dear God, please, help us! Refine us and purify us by your grace and teaching and discipline to be fine material for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus and the advancement of your kingdom in the hearts of all people. Amen.

Praise God!



Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Day of Praise

Fri, 09/07/18, "Day of Praise"

"Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt." - Proverbs 27:11

I was 16. I had just gotten back from Black Mountain, North Carolina and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Conference. It had been a mountaintop experience on a mountaintop. I was spiritually higher than ever before.

And I was probably too zealous.

I had never really talked about Jesus to other people. So, like a teenage boy calling a girl on the phone for the first few times, sharing Jesus the first few times was filled with awkwardness and butterflies.

My football teammates were less than impressed.

In fact some, were downright mean.

I was crushed.

I went to our head football coach, Fred Walton, not because he was the head football coach, but because I knew his heart. It was strong and, at the same time, gentle.

Somehow in my spirit I knew that, in the words of today's verse, Coach Walton could "bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt." (Proverbs 27:11)

He and I sat together, just the two of us, at the top of our very large gym. It was like we returned to the mountaintop, which both lifts up your heart and also from which you can gain perspective.

Coach Walton gave me strength and renewed my joy. I came to realize that, of course, it wasn't him, but it was the Holy Spirit of the Living God working through him and through the faith that God had worked in him.

I would need every ounce of it because a couple months later, I broke my ankle at the start of the 2nd game of my senior year. Once again, some of my teammates ridiculed me, my abilities, my previous football awards, and my faith.

I was depressed.

But Coach Walton, physics professor Wally Owens, and Coach John Brooks were all men of God's Spirit in Christ, who daily encouraged me and were God's instruments for restoring some semblance of joy.

I am forever grateful.

And I want to thank God for them by doing for others what they did for me.

Indeed, for all of us who will believe that Christ is truly alive and wants to work powerfully in us and through us by His Spirit, we can be world-changers and heart-restorers for others in the name of the LORD.

"Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt." - Proverbs 27:11

Praise God!



Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Day of Praise

Thur, 09/06/18, "Day of Praise"

"But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin." - Micah 3:8

Notice, in today's verse, that Micah is inspired by God to:

1) celebrate who he is and what he has in the LORD, as he says, "I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might" and

2) recognize, (because of who he is and what he has in the LORD), what he must do for the LORD, as he says his work is "to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin."

In sum, 1) Micah has an identity in the LORD and 2) he has a job to do for the LORD.

These two principles, that Micah knows, stand in contrast to "the prophets who lead [God's] people astray" (Micah 3:5). "As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim 'peace' if they have something to eat, but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them."

Notice the "principles" of these horrible prophets! 
1) They have peace with people who feed/serve them.
2) They are at war with people who do not feed/serve them.

Micah listens to God and makes the connection between being and doing. The bad prophets do not. Micah wants to serve because of who he is. The bad prophets want to be served. (Cf. Jesus' words in Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45)

And who has a book of the Bible named after them? Micah or the bad prophets? Micah!

And so it is with every book of the Bible. If they're named after a person, it's a person who made the connection between being and doing. They were all sinners, to be sure, for whom Jesus died, but they listened to God and made the connection.

There's no book of the Bible named, "The dude who expected everybody to serve him."

I will never forget the church secretary who quit after two weeks on the job, saying, "I thought this would be church work, but this is work!"

I don't remember her name.

No one else will ever have a book of the Bible named after them. But, being made in the image of God, we all long to leave our mark in the world. We long to have our name carved into the Tree of Life. We long to be remembered, as Abraham Lincoln said, as someone who did something for God.

For this to happen, like Micah, we are called to celebrate our identity and gifts in the LORD and then to do something with God's gifts and in God's strength for the LORD.

In so doing, we thank God for his goodness, we encourage others to do the same, and we sleep well at night, knowing our little ol' life made a difference in a great big world.

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Day of Praise

Wed, 09/05/18, "Day of Praise"

"Jesus said, 'I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But cheer up; I have overcome the world!'" -- John 16:33

Another workday is before us. They call it work because, well, it's work. We spend time. We spend energy. On things that need doing. Some of which are troubling. Others, well, they'll become trouble if we don't get 'em done.

It's a workday!

But there's good news in the face of any trouble and/or work that's before us! Jesus says, "Cheer up; I have overcome the world!"

Hey, y'all! When Jesus says he's overcome the world, he means the WORLD!!! He means that if it's in the world, then he's overcome it, which means that work is overcome and trouble is overcome and any combination of the above is overcome!!!

Jesus's declaration of truth and victory makes me want to sing! Maybe you know the song, "Look up and cheer up, that's the only way" with the Lyrics & tune by Harry Dixon Loes © Singspiration, 1953.

"Look up and cheer up, that's the only way.
Look up and cheer up, bright will be your day.
Just keep your eyes on Jesus, don't mind what people say.
Just look up and cheer up, that's the only way!"

Indeed, eyes on Jesus! And cheery and bright will be your day!

Try it! Really! Heartfelt eyes on Jesus, and you'll see!

"Jesus said, 'I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But cheer up; I have overcome the world!'" -- John 16:33

Praise God!

Day of Praise

Tues, 09/04/18, "Day of Praise"

"[King of Assyria,] nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal. All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?" - Nahum 3:19

So, I was at a ChikFilA drive thru. I have a coupon for a kid's meal and ask if I can use it. They say what they always say, "No problem!" So I look at the menu and order grilled (instead of fried) chicken nuggets with a fruit cup (instead of waffle fries), a cone (instead of a toy), and diet lemonade (instead of soda). They say what they always say, "No problem!" 

So, I get my food, and I'm driving away and look in my bag. I have fried (instead of grilled) chicken nuggets with waffle fries (instead of a fruit cup), a toy (in addition to a cone), and, I think, my diet lemonade (but who knows cause it tasted mighty sweet). So, at least half my order was wrong, but I chuckled and said to God what ChikFilA always says to everyone else, "No problem!"

Friends, it's a work day. Things are going to go wrong today (like they do everyday). In reply to what goes wrong, we have some choices. We can get all bent out of shape about the problem. Or we can recognize, as in today's Bible verse from Nahum 3:19, that all sources of evil are doomed to defeat by the Sovereign God through Jesus Christ, so being victorious over the problem, we can say to the problem, "No problem!"

But we can also do more. Let's keep envisioning and praying for a world where all people know that every problem to God is "No problem" at all so that people can't help but worship and praise him!!!

Happy work day!

Praise God!!!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Day of Praise

Mon, 09/03/18, "Day of Praise"

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess." — Hebrews 4:14

When I was a kid, not quite a teen, I went to my first Boy Scout Summer Camp at Camp Davy Crockett. At one of the late night, all-camp bonfires, a group of older boys appeared out of the darkness, dressed as Native Americans. They made their way through the crowd, identified some of the middle-aged boys, literally picked them up off their seat, firmly pounded each boy's chest, and said, "You, go join your chief!" I remember the deep thud I heard when they firmly and rhythmically pounded each boy's chest. It was so loud that I thought the older boys were going to put a hole in the chest of the initiates. As it turned out, and as I myself experienced as both initiate and initiator in coming years, the "Tapping Ceremony" of the Order of the Arrow wasn't hurting anyone, instead it used the firm pounding as a way of calling new initiates to a deeper strength and wisdom and resolve as each boy was beginning an extended initiation, inviting them to grow deeper and stronger as a young man. Firmness communicated strength!

Such is the invitation in today's Bible verse from Hebrews 4:14, "let us hold firmly to the faith we profess." God is inviting us, even calling us, to become more firm, to grow deeper and stronger as people of faith in Jesus Christ. Firmness is strength!

Friends, all sorts of matters will arise today. Yes, as Christians, we are called to be kind. But we are also called to be firm. We are called to believe firmly and speak firmly and act firmly, all the while standing on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. I know that firmness from others moves me to hear more clearly and think more deeply and act more confidently about the things that are said to me. 

"Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess" in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 4:14) and bless one another by calling each other, and even new "initiates" to the faith, to the same firmness in Christ Jesus. For in so doing, we all will be blessed with a deeper strength and wisdom from the Holy Spirit, along with a strength and resolve in Christ!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Day of Praise

Sat, 09/01/18, "Day of Praise"

"Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." - Isaiah 64:8

"I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, 'Let us start rebuilding.' So they began this good work." - Nehemiah 2:18

"Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." - Deuteronomy 15:10

As we enjoy this Labor Day weekend, let us remember 1) that we ourselves are the loving work of God's hand (Isaiah 64:8), 2) that God blesses our labor when we tell others about God's gracious hand on us (Nehemiah 2:18), and 3) that God blesses our labor when we give generously and without a grudging heart (Deuteronomy 15:10).

Indeed, may God be praised as we remember and do these things, according to his word, this weekend and always!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Day of Praise

Fri, 08/31/18, "Day of Praise"

Hebrews 5:8-9 - "Son though he was, [Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

I remember a time I was driving, and the interstate looked dry as a bone. And yet, a spray of water was springing up from under every tire that rolled down the freeway. The weight and pressure of cars and tires was revealing that which otherwise was hidden.

And so it is with suffering, according to God in today's Bible verse. The weight and pressure of suffering on the soul reveals the depth of our trust in the Lord. And in fact, God's telling us even more. The weight and pressure of suffering in our life is a way that God intends to work in our soul a deeper trust in Him. Such was the case for the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ, and so it must be for us all. God says, "Son though he was, [Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). 

Obedience is merely "supposed trust in action." Obedience is an outward sign of the trust we profess to have in our heart. If someone says they trust the Lord and they really do, then that trust will show itself in obedience when the weight of life comes at us and says, "Okay! Let's see if you trust like you say you do! Here's a situation where you can show us."

I feel so blessed. I have models of trust all around me. My wife and three children, aged 25, 23, and 19, have rarely, if ever, disrespected me in their lives. The very real physical and emotional suffering they've endured has, by God's grace, revealed a deep, abiding trust in the Lord. My wife, Amanda, blows me away with her calm and trust in the face of difficulty. My church friends, a young man named C a couple nights ago and women named J and V and C and K, all have displayed a deep abiding trust in the Lord when the weight of suffering and difficulty has pressed down on the freeway of their soul, spraying up praises to God and testimonies that God is their strength. 

When life weighs down on you today, turn to the Lord and also make time for people. Ask God to be your strength, and ask others how they're doing and how they endure in the face of difficulty. 

Jesus is our greatest example of trust and obedience in the Lord. But there's some pretty amazing examples in the people around us too because God has worked what he promises, namely, a deeper trust in him in the lives of all who will trust him when inevitable suffering and difficulty come along.

Pretty amazing!!! Don't you think?

Hebrews 5:8-9 - "Son though he was, [Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Day of Praise

Thur, 08/30/18, "Day of Praise"

"Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation." - Psalm 95:1

Some things just stick with ya. Like childhood friendships and memories.

Other things, well, ya just wish they didn't. Stick, that is. Like regrets, guilt, grief, grudges, and loneliness that aches to your bones.

My football coaches used to say, "Get up. Shake it off."

But what do ya do when, no matter how much ya shake, stuff just keeps sticking?

I have a hunch.

The reason David wrote so many Psalms, like today's verse from Psalm 95, is not just because God inspired them, but also because David needed inspiring.

In other words, he had a lot sticking to him. Regrets, guilt, grief, grudges, and loneliness that ached to his bones.

No matter how much he shook, he couldn't shake it off.

So...he grabbed hold of something more.

That would stick.

Something greater that would stick to and cover, even wipe away, the lesser sticky stuff.

Ah, yes, the Word of God.

From deep within my soul, I can remember Bible passages I learned as a kid in the church choir. Over and over, Bob "Hon" Andrews would make us sIng the greater stuff until it stuck to our soul and covered the lesser stuff that might be sticking and aching to our bones.

As it was, he made us sing, as it is, today's verse from Psalm 95, over and over again, so that, even now, I remember it deep in my soul. "Oh Come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. Oh come into his presence with thanksgiving, let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise. For the LORD is a great God and a great king above all gods."

We serve a truly awesome God, who blesses us with a truly awe-inspiring word!

May God's word stick with you today. And forever!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Day of Praise

Wed, 08/29/18, "Day of Praise"

"Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer." - Psalm 4:1

It's probably a silly question, but I'll ask it anyway. Have you ever felt relieved?

Relieved that a loved one was safe. Relieved that a medical test came back clear. Relieved that you kept your job. Relieved that a burden was removed.

The feeling of relief has got to be on some sort of "Top 10" or at least "Top 50" list.

In today's verse, God inspires the Psalmist to cry out for relief, praying, "Give me relief from my distress."

But what happens when relief doesn't come? What should we do when the prayer isn't answered? When the loved one isn't safe? When the medical test doesn't come back clear? When you didn't keep your job, and you still haven't got the job? When the burden was not removed?

In the Bible, there are lots of cries specifically for "relief," but there are very few promises for "relief."

What actually is in the Bible, related to the word "relief," are calls for courage (as in Esther of the Old Testament) and hope (as in 2 Thessalonians).

The sum of it is this.

When you're longing for relief, first, trust that God is present with you through his word and by his spirit. Trusting in God's presence is a way to tap into his strength and to find courage to carry the burden.

Second, trust that God, who is right now present, is also the God who will come at the right time. Trusting in God's coming is a way both to find strength in the Lord right now and also to find hope that God will come and grant relief.

Today's another workday, a "mini burden." We'd love to have relief. But nothing's going to change all that comes with work.

So let's see today as an opportunity, as a mini burden, as an opportunity to trust that God is present and that God is coming. For when we trust the Lord, we'll find courage for today and hope for what is surely to come, namely, "Relief!"

"Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer." - Psalm 4:1

Praise God!


"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Monday, August 27, 2018

Day of Praise

Tues, 08/28/18, "Day of Praise"

"The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil." - Isaiah 57:1

Years ago, Rabbi Harold S. Kushner wrote a book called "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" (1981). His conclusion was that God is indeed all compassionate but that God is not all powerful.

Rabbi Kushner and the God of the Hebrew Bible do not agree. Sorry, Rabbi.

Elie Wiesel, recounting his concentration camp experience as a boy in the book "Night," tells of the Jewish prisoners being marched past a young boy who had been hung by the Nazis. Someone cried out "[Where is your God now?] Where is He?", and someone responded "Here He is--He is hanging here on this gallows." (Elie Wiesel, Night, Ch. 4)

"He is hanging from this gallows" can mean "God is dead" or "God is right there with the young boy."

"God is dead" was Friedrich Nietzsche's teaching.

"God is right there with the young boy" is what we as Christian followers of Jesus believe and teach.

Ultimately, today's verse from Isaiah 57:1, "The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart," raises questions. Does anyone, in any generation, care if a boy is hanging from a gallows? Does anyone today care that Christians, especially Christian leaders, are persecuted in countries where Christians are a minority...and sometimes in countries where Christians are supposedly the majority.

"Does anyone take this to heart?", God says through Isaiah. "Does anyone have time to think about why these things happen?"

God does.

God takes these things to heart.

God makes time to think about why these things happen.

It's probably, therefore, a good thing for us to do the same.

Namely, care, take these things to heart, think about why these things happen.

In Jesus, God does something about it.

When Jesus is in us, we do too.

Think about it.

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Day of Praise

Mon, 08/27/18, "Day of Praise"

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." - Psalm 23:4

I'm guessing many of you are saying, "Wait! That's not how Psalm 23 goes; it's 'the valley of the shadow of death.'"

Actually, the King James Version did translate it as you remember. But the Hebrew is as you see in the verse above: "the darkest valley" or even "the valley of deep darkness."

King James was capturing what you feel like when you go through the darkest valley, through the valley of deep darkness, namely, you feel like death must be lurking near because it feels like the valley of the shadow of death. It's a darkness so deep you literally can't see your hand in front of your face. 

But, in spite of the darkness, we have peace. Because we have a promise. From God. Through David in Psalm 23. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the deepest darkness, a darkness so deep that you can't see your hand in front of your face...I will fear no evil...for thou art with me, God...your rod and your staff...they comfort me."

Many of you, who I'm aware of, have recently shared things you're worried about, unsure about, wondering about, afraid about.

You're totally in the dark.

You have no idea what today holds, let alone tomorrow. How could you? You can't even see your hand in front of your face.

God has a promise for you. He says to you, "I am with you. I comfort you. With my rod and my staff, I'll protect you and guide you."

Even in the deepest darkness, trust God's promise, and you will see...

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Day of Praise

Sat, 08/25/18, "Day of Praise" 

"Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!" - Isaiah 21:9 

It's wonderful to see the enemies of faith come crashing to their end. Today's verse says it all, ""Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!" (Isaiah 21:9) Hooray! The enemies of faith come crashing to the ground wherever God's word goes forth. 

That's the common thread between today's reading and the day that's ahead of us. The enemies of God's word and the enemies of our faith in God's word are defeated. ""Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!" (Isaiah 21:9) 

The enemies of your faith in God and the enemies of his word cannot endure. Jesus himself encourages us best, saying, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority...to overcome all the power of the enemy." (Luke 10:18-19

And that's a reason for everyone to say...Praaaaaaaise God!!! 

Praise God! 


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Day of Praise

Fri, 08/24/18, "Day of Praise"

Here's another one of the favorites.

From Tu, 07/30/13, "Day of Praise"

Acts 15:32 - "And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words."

I was in a Ruby Tuesday restaurant, which gives me an opportunity to say "Hi!" to my friend Mark Ingram and his family, as Mark was amongst the few early leaders of Ruby Tuesday who helped make it what it is today, both here in the U.S. and also abroad.

So I'm in this Ruby Tuesday, catching up with a church member, Ilene, who for years faithfully cared for her Korean War hero, bed-bound husband. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice this 18 year old guy, flexing his bicep as if he were performing for a Mr. Universe contest. I look over just in time to see the 17 year old girl across from him, as she's reaching over to check out his bicep and feel exactly how big it is. He smiles even bigger and nods his head like a Bobblehead doll that's saying, "Yaaaayu, I'm strong."

And he was.

But she made him stronger.

He was strong. Like Popeye. Ya know, the sailor man, who lives in a garbage can. (Is that really the way that song went?)

But she made him stronger. Like Popeye's love, Olive Oyl
(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_Oyl), who was a main cartoon character created by Elzie Crisler Segar in 1919 (10 years before Popeye!) for his comic strip Thimble Theatre.

As in today's verse from Acts 15:32, the little lady in Ruby Tuesday "encouraged and strengthened the brother with many words."

Oh, yeah, the whole time Ilene and I talked, we never noticed Popeye nor Olive Oyl pick up a cell phone. Like my friend, Art Fries, is always saying, "the most important person in the world is the one right in front of you."

Oh sure, there's a few off-the-chart egotistical people in the world. But for the most part, most people are just looking for someone who will celebrate with them when they "flex their muscle." In other words, invite people to tell you something they like about themselves. After the shock wears off of them because they can't believe you want to hear something great about them and then they "flex their muscle", tell em how great they are.

And make them stronger.

We need more strong people in the world. So, let's "encourage and strengthen [one another] with many words." (Acts 15:32)

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Day of Praise

Thur, 08/23/18, "Day of Praise"

Y'all were kindly affirming of some repeats. So here's another one of my favorites. Thank you!

From Thursday, April 18, 2013

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" - Isaiah 52:7

When getting ready to speak comfort in Christ to someone, in order to cover the looooooong distance from our head to our heart you don't need the internet but you do need a "www".

1) Give your "wonder" to God, as in "I wonder how I can do this?". Answer? You can't, but God can, so give your wonder to God.

2) Give your "wounds" to God, as in don't try to look strong by hiding your wounds, but recognize that God wants to work through your past wounds to minister to someone's present wounds so they know that you can truly understand just like God can.

3) Give your "words" to God, as in trust God to speak through you, as Jesus says in Matthew 10, "do not worry about what to say or how to say it, for at that time it will not be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father in heaven speaking through you."

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Day of Praise

Wed, 08/22/18, "Day of Praise"

I had reason to think back today to one of my favorite devotions that I wrote more than 5 years ago. Thanks for putting up with a repeat now and then!

From Wed, Holy Week, Mar 27, 2013, "Day of Praise"

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" - Ephesians 2:8

Ok, y'all.

Just stop.

Deeeeeeeeep breath.

Breathe iiiiiiiiiiin.

Breathe ouuuuuuuut.

Iiiiiiiiin.

Ouuuuuuut.

Close your eyes.

Deeeeeeeep breath.

Picture a river. The Jordan River it is.

Look out over it. All you can see is a band of angels. Comin' after you.

To protect you.

But, when an arrow is permitted through, then those angels are there to encourage you.

To turn your heart from the troubles and sorrows of the world. To gently touch and turn your face into the wind.

It's the movement of God. Coming. And yet always present. Mighty to save.

To save you.  

By his grace.

From despair.

Which is hopelessness. Ya know. Throwin' in the towel.

No. Don't throw in the towel.

Just be still. And believe.

It's true. Just a bit of faith. As much as a mustard seed. Just a wee bit. Of faith. Is enough to tap into. To receive. The salvation. The right hand. The strong arm. Of the living God.

It's there. For you.

He's there. For you.

Here. For you.

To lighten the load. To give you a hope. A purpose. To hold up your arms. And strengthen your knees.

It's true. Somehow faith. In receiving the grace of God that saves.

Things just get bearable. Even peaceful. Like it's all gonna be ok. Because they are ok.

Yes, there's still a storm. But God is in the midst. Of the storm. Holding your hand. Looking in your eye. Calling you. Not with his voice. But with his eyes. His heart. A whisper to the soul. "Dance with me."

I will lead you.

In the dance.

Through the storm.

To your salvation.

Your freedom.

From thinking that your life is defined and measured and able (or not) to be enjoyed. Based on your problems and debts and regrets and challenges.

No. Instead your life is defined by the One.

Who loves you. Who died for you. And more. And was raised. To be with you. And to strengthen you. With the Holy Spirit that he pours out on you and in you. Everyday. 

Both to encourage you. That the strength and power available to you everyday is beyond your own. 

And also to remind you. That the Father has made great and precious promises to you. To come through for you. And to never leave you nor forsake you. Even when you leave Him. 

And to gift you.

With grace.

Upon grace.

Upon grace.

You need only believe.

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson