Mere Foolishness

I had the opportunity over the weekend to witness a rare sight, a street preacher in Williamsburg, VA, standing in the middle of the street with a couple of signs declaring God’s position on several key social issues. My kids kept asking me if I approved of the guy’s message, because they wanted to know if this was ok by me. I sat with a sense of personal conflict, not knowing how I should feel. On the one hand, this guy was reading Scripture (albeit the parts about God’s displeasure with sin and the judgment for the wicked) and on the other hand I was repulsed by his chosen means to deliver said truth, with an attitude that said “I am not one of you sinners. I am holy and you are not.”

This verse reminds of the crowd’s reaction to the preaching and the preacher. For one man, it was utter bull**** and he told him so. Another danced around the preacher, mocking him while he talked. For many, His preaching was foolishness. And it was amazing to see this happening in the wild. To see this truth in this text playing out in the public forum.

I would have rather seen this man engaging the crowd, using his context in historical Williamsburg, a place where Liberty gained a footing against the tyranny of the British Empire, or the fact he was standing in a marketplace, or simply engaging the crowd with a simple story, to draw in the interest of the crowd before they rejected him outright by his quoting of the darkest parts of Scripture. It just seemed irresponsible to me, taking the dearest, sweetest message of the gospel of Jesus, and turning it into a call for judgment upon the wicked. As Paul writes, it is the message of the cross, the message that Christ died for our sins out of His love for us that the world considers foolish. It is the preaching of God’s great love expending such great sacrifice for the sake of all of us. And then the preaching of that same Christ rising from the dead. Oh the power and glory of God revealed through the preaching of the gospel message. Foolishness? God’s extravagant expenditure seems foolish. Surely atonement is limited only to those who believe, as even some Christians believe. But God’s foolishness is our gain. This is the message that needed to be preached on the streets of Williamsburg, and everywhere.

I know in that audience Saturday there were Christians of all denominations. Non-Christians who had never known Christ, and fallen Christians, so turned-off by he church and its people that their evil came from their hurt and betrayal at the hands of those who claimed to be saved. Of the three groups, these are who I would preach to, those whose vitriol and hatred comes from their hurt. These are the ones that needed God’s grace and love and would have benefitted from a kind word, not one of judgment.

Just my two cents. God bless you today.



If you and I were traveling on a road, and you knew the way, I would know to follow you. Following means watching where you turn and where you go straight on. That kind of following is much easier than what our text calls for this morning.

Following Jesus is made a greater challenge simply because we cannot see Him. If we could see where He turned and where He went straight on, we could follow Him without fault. But Jesus leads into places that we don’t want to go. We can’t follow Him with our eyes, so we must follow the path He laid out for us. It’s like following the Oregon Trail. We do the research, find the landmarks, and recreate the journey for ourselves.

Research is simply reading the Scriptures, reading through the gospels, to discover the path that Jesus’s walked. If you read there, you find Jesus walked everywhere, from Galilee and Perea to Jerusalem, where He was crucified. He also went through Samaria, a place where Jews hated to walk. He also went to Syro-Pheonicia, where he intended to rest in a Gentile territory. He went to mountaintops, and through valleys. He walked broad plains and preached the coming Kingdom. That is where Jesus walked, through Jerusalem, Calvary, and out of the tomb.

So how would we recreate this journey? We could actually go to Israel and walk these places ourselves, but this would be impractical for Jesus’ followers, as many couldn’t afford to leave their hometown. To make such a demand would be cruel. Rather, the task is to recreate the journey in our own life. How can you “follow” Jesus where you live?

Thankfully, He has already told us how to do this. In the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says, “As you go, make disciples, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. And lo, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” Just as He did, we tell others about the Kingdom, making followers of Jesus, bringing them into the Kingdom through immersion, and encouraging them in their own walk.

Following Jesus is doing the things that Jesus did, going into the kinds of places that Jesus went, to bring Him the people He loves. Are you a follower?

God bless you on this blessed day of worship!

Where’s Jesus?

Love this verse today! What a refreshing peace it brings. Why? Because it answers the question, where’s Jesus?

Two men come up to the door. They knock. The door opens. The question: Have you found Jesus yet? The answer: I didn’t know He was lost. Modern evangelism often acts like a great game of where’s Waldo. The object of the game is to find Jesus and then surrender to Him like He’s the one that found you. It’s a little confusing. Have you found Jesus yet? Has Jesus found you?

So when I read this verse, I find out where Jesus has been hiding. And no wonder so many haven’t found Him. He’s hiding in a place we can’t go on our own. That’s not fair. He is seated at the right hand of God! We can’t find Him if He doesn’t play fair. But then He doesn’t play fair, does He? “He doesn’t punish us as our sins deserve.” He gives us grace and more grace, undeserved favor where we have not earned it.

That also means that if we seek Him, He tells us where He is. He calls us to direct our attention to heaven. He tells us to direct our prayers and worship to heaven, to the throne of grace. Jesus doesn’t hide from us so that we have to labor to find Him. He tells us exactly where He is. It’s not, “Have you found Jesus yet?” but “Since you know where He is, what will you do with Him?”

God bless you today!

Don’t try to hide it.

Again, read this verse a hundred times, but never really thought about it. In the midst of Jesus Sermon on the Mount, you read many short statements like this that stack upon each other and lose their meaning after a while. This is one of them. I get and understand the “light of the world” and this is what most people zero in on. Jesus is the Light coming into the World. He is the One who brings Light into Dark places. By Him we have the True Light. Through Him we can share that Light and fulfill the intent of this passage. We too are the light of this world. We offer illumination to those caught in darkness because the torch has been laid in our hands.

That’s why the second part of this verse is so jarring and unexpected.

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” What’s up with that?

Suddenly we are thrust into defensive strategies for hill-top cities. If we can’t hide it, how can we defend it? But the stress here is on the obviousness of a hilltop city. Zion was a hilltop city. It was taken only by extended siege, by the Babylonians and much later by the Romans. The problem of a hilltop city is that you can’t miss it. Either in the day or at night. It stands out.

So why put this phrase right here? Since Christians are the light of the world, He extends and changes the metaphor. Christians are also like a city on a hilltop. They ought to stand out against the background. They ought to be lit up at night (in the darkness) so that people who are looking for them can find them. To add to this, Jesus says such a city cannot be hidden. Think about that.

Aren’t there times you feel like hiding your faith? I’ve felt that way, especially as a Preacher, because people treat you differently when they know you are a Preacher. A few years ago, I decided to start wearing a cross around my neck, so regardless of what I was doing, good or bad, I had that thing in front of me, reminding me of who I am and who I belong to. It’s helped me. Because as a Christian, I am a Christian at church as well as at work, at Walmart and the drug store. At home and at play. I ought to like a city that cannot be hid. So should you. Figure it out for yourself, but find something that will help you remember whose you are.

God bless!

Why go to Church if it doesn’t mean anything to me?


The problem here is that the non-Christian sees the Church as irrelevant. This is half-true. Many Churches gave up trying to be relevant years ago, just focusing on preserving what few they have left and keeping up appearances until Jesus comes back. I have seen churches give up on trying to reach the world because it costs too much. For them, evangelism isn’t relevant to their mission. The lost-ness of the world doesn’t mean anything to them. Many “little old church ladies” are more concerned about making sure their preacher’s shirts appear ironed than about making sure their neighbor knows about Jesus.

A man will not see any logical reason to attend a church service in order to preserve his soul. It simply doesn’t make sense. How does attending an hour or more a week with a group of people you kinda know change your eternity? The answer is, it doesn’t. That answer is in the saving power of Jesus Himself. Only then do you understand the spiritual significance of His Body, the Church. The non-Christian will not feel compelled to come to Church until their soul has been touched and made sensitive to its need for redemption. It is odd too the animosity expressed toward Church, since for the most part it is harmless, except when it isn’t.

But Christians too fall victim to this problem. Some might say, “The message I hear on Sunday morning is not the same truth that I read in the Bible.” Others might throw in that they feel the Church just doesn’t speak to them where they are, or that the Bible they hear on Sunday morning isn’t relevant to their lives. This is usually a symptom of a Christian who doesn’t spend much time with God through the week. For a person far from God will fail to pick Him out of a crowded soul.

For Christians, the answer is easy. Spend more time with God, and just with God. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) You want to come away from a Church service filled? Hunger for righteousness. Thirst for Righteousness. Desire even more time with God, and you will not leave unsatisfied.

Non-Christians will acquire a desire for Church when they see such desire modeled. When they see the fire kindled in believers for the Word of God and the fellowship of the Church, they will have a desire for God, a hunger for the presence of Jesus in them. They look for His face in yours.

God’s Plan for Church Growth


When we see the empty pews, there is a sense of wrongness to it. Church growth seminars and conferences try to lay out cookie-cutter versions of sure-fire means to add more people to those pews, but we are always missing something, some drive, some gift, some fire that sees us into sustainable growth. In the early days of the church, growth was explosive and dynamic. When we read those passages, we marvel at how easy it was to add 3000 (Acts 2:41) or 5000 (Acts 4:4) in one day. Are we doing something wrong?

Some say we need more door-to-door canvassing, like the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. While that may be a helpful tool (as home visits are for church members), we never see that used in the New Testament (unless God directs you to visit, like the story of Peter with Cornelius). Paul’s method was going synagogue to synagogue, finding people who were already attracted to God’s Word. Of all the conversion stories in Acts, almost all of them were already believers in God, or followers of God in some way, like Jews or believing Gentiles. In Philippi the Jailer was converted after listening to Paul and Silas sing all night surviving a miraculous earthquake. In Athens, a couple of people were converted after listening to Paul preach to the Areopagus.

In all of the letters to the Churches we rarely read anything related to our idea of Church growth. You would think that there would be an occasion for some apostle to write to a church about how to make it grow, but in fact, no church is ever given evangelism ideas, programs, or gimmicks to get pews filled, membership rolls expanded, or churches bigger. You would think that this subject would be of vital importance to the early church, but the only instructions we get are contained in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) with the Church’s strategic plan in Acts 1:8. But the greatest plan the New Testament reveals is in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” For us, we are called to plant, and to water, but God gives the increase.

On balance most of the New Testament accounts speak of people who already believed in God, who then spread the Word through family and friends. God’s plan for growth follows what J. W. McGarvey observes as “The Rule of Success”, witnessing where you will have the best chance of success.

So the question for us is, “where will we have the best chance of success?” The best answer to that is actually people you know, or get to know. These are people you meet every day. But remember another lesson from the New Testament. The people who are telling others about Jesus are completely committed to Jesus, willing to give even their lives to serve Him. This love for Jesus and love for other people are the two best ways to evangelize.

The Solution to Overcoming Radical Islam


The news has been filled with stories and articles about ISIS (ISIL) and its treatment of Christians. I saw the video where Coptic Christians were beheaded on a beach in Libya, just because they were Christians. My friends, the fight against radical Islamists isn’t won through guns and bombs, because the war isn’t decided through soldiers, tanks and planes. This is a war for the soul of the Arabic peoples, who have been suckered into this religion Muhammed invented 1500 years ago.

But it’s not just people of Arabic descent, for now many Americans are starting to turn to Islam as a source of truth. Several Americans recently were arrested for trying to go overseas and join ISIS (Islamic State) and fight for Allah. As American Christians we may feel that this war is somewhere else, but I would imagine everyone in this church has encountered Muslim people, whether out shopping, standing in line at the Post Office, or receiving medical care.

Muslims are a large fraction of our medical providers in Morehead, and I know we are just a rural hospital. We are encountering Muslims more and more every year in our social fabric.

Now do all Muslims believe as ISIS does? Are all Muslims “radicalized” and want to hurt you in the name of Allah? We know they aren’t, just as most Christians are not rabidly Christian. But make no mistake, the war against ISIS will never be won simply by sending in troops. We need to send missionaries.

It’s a simplistic solution, I know. But Islam is a religion based on a false idea of God. God is not Allah, nor is Allah God. Do not believe the lie that Allah is just another name for God, nor fall under the presumption that Muslims worship the same deity. We need men and women who are willing to confront the claims of Islam head-on, even on the front lines, to combat the notion that Allah is God. Allah through the Koran denies that Jesus is the Son of God, even to vehemently denounce such an idea. Yet the Christian Bible makes this the central point.

My hope and prayer for you this month is to examine the claims of Christianity and Islam side by side and see for yourself why Islam falls short of true and authentic religion. I don’t intend to bash Muslims, for I believe they are lost souls who need the love of Jesus, but their truth claims need to come under close scrutiny. They need to be convinced to examine their faith, just as closely as we do. They need to examine the truth claims of Mohammed and the Koran. They need to see the evidence, with just as much scrutiny as our enemies demand of Jesus. This will not be an easy task, but remember that it is God’s will to save any many as possible, and He will send laborers into the field.

Please pray for a Muslim friend. Pray for hearts to be changed. It’s time for He that is in you to overcome he that is in the world.