Salvation

It Seemed Good To The Spirit

It Seemed Good To The Spirit

Whenever God is at work, there will often be people who attempt to put their mark on the work. They will endeavor to either add to, or take away from, the gospel. Often times, it is not an intentional attempt to distort the gospel; rather, it is borne out of personal, cultural or traditional influences. A group of men from Judea were deriding the Holy Spirit’s saving work among the Gentiles in Antioch (Acts 15). They believed that one could not be saved apart from the requirements of the law of Moses. Though they themselves had received salvation by believing in Jesus, they also believed that the laws they had followed since birth were a part of their salvation. They were mixing their personal religious experiences with salvation through Christ, and teaching a distorted gospel. They were saying that a Gentile had to first become a Jew in order to become a Christian. In essence they were saying that simply trusting in Jesus Christ wasn’t sufficient; they also had to obey Moses.

Peter himself had learned that salvation is not decided by whether one eats meat or doesn’t eat meat, or whether one eats pork or doesn’t eat pork. Salvation is not dependent upon whether we gather to worship on Sunday, or the Sabbath, or another day. It is not the result of keeping the Law, going through a ritual, or joining a church. We are all sinners before God, for whom Christ died on the cross. He was buried and rose again. He paid the price and extends His salvation to us by His grace which we receive through faith. There is one need, and there is but one gospel – with nothing to be added to, or subtracted from, it.

The church can still be guilty of trying to add to it today ….

A Celebration - Great Are You, Lord!

A Celebration - Great Are You, Lord!

Today is our Baby Girl’s thirtieth birthday. Happy Birthday, Precious Girl! It is hard to believe. In some respects it seems like yesterday. It was an early Monday morning. In what seemed like a moment, we witnessed the birth of a new life. (Remember, i’m the dad; i am certain it seemed much longer than a moment for LaVonne!) i remember her little cry as she took that first breath into her lungs. i remember that somehow the birthing room suddenly seemed brighter. i remember that my wife’s pain and travail in labor were now passed and had now been replaced simultaneously by relief, peace, joy and calm. Immediately our hearts were filled with love for this precious addition to our family. That love was not something that needed to develop over time – it was immediate, just as it had been at the birth of her older brother before her. And our love for one another did not diminish because it now included another; rather, our capacity to love was increased. The birth of a new life is a precious gift from our Creator… an amazing gift… and a gift for a lifetime… and beyond.  

But our God is not only the Giver of physical life, He is the Giver of eternal life….

You Are Special

You Are Special

Recently i was reintroduced to the children’s book entitled “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. The story is about little wooden people who are called “Wemmicks”. Wemmicks spend their days scurrying about sticking gold stars on those who are pretty and talented, or gray dots on those who make mistakes. But on this particular day in the story, the stickering is all the more important because the Festival is at hand. The envied “Most Stars Award” and the dreaded “Most Dots Award” are about to be given out. Poor Punchinello is sure to be a shoo-in for the Most Dots. But thanks to a new friend, he is about to learn a very important lesson that no matter how others may judge our worth, God cherishes each of us just as we are.

That is a lesson we would all do well to remember. We live in a world that is obsessed with awarding stars and conferring dots, and we distribute them abundantly, utilizing all the means at our disposal. Social media has become our most preferred mode of rendering our judgement of stars or dots to the extent that we judge worth based upon the number of “likes” or “follows”….

Plus Ultra

Plus Ultra

We continue to pray for those who, this past Easter Sunday morning in Sri Lanka, lost friends or family members, or sustained injury themselves due to the senseless acts of violence perpetrated by a group of anti-Christian terrorists. We join together in praying for comfort for those who have lost family members and friends, and recovery for those who sustained injury. And we pray that those who perpetrated such heinous acts will be swiftly brought to justice. i echo the statement issued by Dr. Russell Moore (president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), “The governing authorities must bring this anti-Christian terrorist cell, and any who empowered them, to justice. The shedding of innocent human blood is always an atrocity; an attack on Easter is further shocking in its cruelty." On a day when Christians all over the world were remembering and celebrating the life that can be ours through the shed blood and resurrection of Jesus, such a vicious act was a sobering reminder of the death that sin brings and the death grip that sin continues to have on our world. Ironically the very message of the day – the message of Christ’s resurrection – is the reality that sin and death have been defeated, and that the free gift of life is extended without limitation by His grace to all who will receive it.

The incident has caused me to be reminded of a story that i first heard from my friend and former pastor, Dr. Keith Thomas….

Today is my Re-Birth-day!

Today is my Re-Birth-day!

Today i am 26! Don’t let the gray hair and follically-challenged head fool you. In “re-birth” years, i’m a millennial! On this day in 1991, i surrendered my life, and fully entered into a personal love relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ. It has been a phenomenal adventure ever since — full of mountain tops, but also valleys — clear skies, but also stormy days — days of assurance, but also many filled with the uncertain and unknown.

Many of you know my story. i had prayed “the prayer” when i was six years old at a Bible Club meeting in the basement of my grandparents’ home. i had “walked the aisle” at a citywide evangelistic crusade when i was ten. Soon after, my pastor “baptized” me at the church my family was attending. To the best of my knowledge, i had “done” everything that i was supposed to “do” to know that i was “saved”. As i became an adult and i was asked these key questions: