Called Forth

Taking on the mantle of leadership from Moses was a Herculean responsibility. It was going to take strength of will and spirit to tackle the Israelites and form them into a fighting force capable of conquering Canaan. It wasn’t going to be easy. But it was also Joshua’s mission. I cannot stress enough why context is so important. For example, if you positioned yourself on the east bank of the Jordan today and recited to yourself this passage, there is no guarantee God is going to empower you to conquer Canaan again. Seriously. Don’t try it.

Verses have meaning in the time and place they were given, and it is important for us to know what they meant in order for us to know what they mean 3000 years later. I mean, this text was a great encouragement to Joshua. But can we apply this same text to tying my shoes, or going for that job interview, or dealing with difficult people at work? Context is important.

So how do we determine if our circumstances match up? For Joshua, his mission was clear. Clear out Canaan so that Israel would have a place to live. What is our clear mandate from the Lord where He promised to empower us to accomplish it. Has God given us such a commission? He has not called us to go forth and conquer land. But He did call us to go forth and conquer souls. Do you want to experience the power of this text? Go read Matthew 28:18-20. There you will find exactly the same kind of commission that Joshua received on the banks of the Jordan. It possesses the same kind of spiritual empowerment. And every Christian is called to it.

Are you ready to answer the call?

Listed as Safe from the Evil One

Wow. If there was ever s verse needed, it’s this one. Do you need a verse that guarantees your divine protection from the diabolos? The Evil One? The Devil? I know I don’t talk much about him here, so maybe a few words would be helpful.

I was talking a few days ago to an individual who remarked that God and Satan are the same person. Why? Because they are both blamed for the same things. Cancer. Catastrophes. Calamity. Either or both are often blamed. I get that. I’ve heard it. If a child dies, did God take it or did Satan poison it? Did God make that choice, Or the devil.

Christians have wrestled with these issues for hundreds of years. We still struggle with them. I believe that is on purpose. God demands that despite all we think about why bad things happen to good people, we have to practice faith in His Word. Science and philosophy are not going to help us. This is a region where faith in what God says and faith in the nature of a kind and loving God comes in. He calls us to this faith despite our emotions and our natural anger. Will we believe in Him even when it doesn’t make sense?

It seems Satan’s work is on the rise. The first three verses of 2 Timothy 3 are becoming more relevant with each passing day. How can we hope that God is still protecting us? Try to imagine a world where God didn’t protect us. Which world is worse?

I know by faith that God and the Evil One are not the same. God is good. And I believe good is stronger than evil. Because I believe God is stronger than Satan. To say otherwise is to imagine that Satan is co-equal with God. Satan did not and will never die for me. Satan has no love in his heart for anything but himself. Satan corrupts good people. If I as a human being can know right from wrong, to know the difference, then there is a difference. If I know that there is a good so good that I can never achieve it, how can I possibly know it? Surely there is a good God who gave that insight to me. In my heart, I want good to overcome evil. Why do I want that? Where did it come from? I believe it comes from a good God who placed that in me, because I am made in His image.

This worldview requires faith. It cannot be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. Science nor philosophy is equipped to do this. It must be understood by faith. Fortunately, it is built into us to receive this by faith, because we are made in God’s image. A fact I also know by faith. Convincing others cannot and never will be accomplished through proofs and theorems. But it comes through lives changed, families healed and hope offered.

I apprehend by faith that God will protect me from the evil one. May God protect you today.

Great Commission

Do you have life-goals? One of mine to to meet my grandfather. He died several years before I was born, in 1961. Never got the chance to meet him. But my grandfather became a Christian later in life, and someday when I die, I will get a chance to meet him.

To do that, I’ve got to make sure that I’ve followed God’s will to the best of my ability, and pray for His grace to be applied to the rest. There’s a lot.

So what is God’s will? Did you read the verse above? That’s the first part of the Great Commission. That’s what God wants from us. That’s what He wants us to do. He wants us to make disciples out of all the nations, all the peoples of the earth, all the languages, cultures, ethnicities, everywhere. Once one is reached in each, more can be won. Then we follow discipleship with baptism. We are are baptism into the One Name, because this is the source of our unity among such diversity of peoples. We are all saved by the same God, through the same blood and filled by the same Spirit. We are saved in Jesus. And this One Name is all Three in One, the Triunity of God.

What follows is the teaching, everything that Jesus commanded the Apostles to pass on to the Body of Christ. This is the will of God, that the whole world would be saved through His Name. It’s a big job, but we have an even greater God to work it out. We have but to plant the seeds, and God gives the increase.

What seeds of discipleship can you plant today?

Unlimited Power

What great mission would you apply yourself to if you had unlimited resources? See the world? Explore deep space? Explore the oceans?

And how would you gauge what would be a greater mission, or more important mission? Greater benefit for more people? Greater benefit for you and your family? Greater benefit for science?

The fact it we have been given a very important mission, and we have been given unlimited resources to complete it. It is the mission to the world, to broadcast the saving message of Jesus Christ. And our unlimited resources are God Himself, dwelling within us and empowering us to do our part in the mission. Sound intimidating? It is. But it is the best mission to benefit the most people for all eternity. Interested?

I blasphemed in church tonight!!

I blasphemed in church tonight!!
— Read on

This contains some echoes of some my own thoughts and frustrations. In order to move evangelism into the church and away from the front lines, we’ve moved the front lines to the church pew, and let go of the church’s responsibility to edify the saved. When our music and our preaching are solely for the purpose of making new Christians, we end up saying the same things every week. And it is all milk and not solid food. It is a frustrating position for mature Christians.

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.