WHITEBOARD WEDNESDAY

LIFE BY THE SPIRIT, II

MAY 22, 2024

Romans 8. Incredible truth that we wouldn't believe unless it was so clearly told to us. Our role isn't to stop the sin and wrongness all around, but to trust as we go through this life that Jesus really has paid it all, that it worked, and that we have the Holy Spirit in us. He uses us, testifying that all things work for good, even as we suffer in the sin we do and the wrongness done to us. Our hope is in what Jesus has done, now and always -- hold fast as we walk by faith, not by sight!

LIFE BY THE SPIRIT

MAY 15, 2024

Romans 8 has incredible and reassuring news. Instead of us seeking after Holy Spirit power to go back and "get 'er done', our main task is to trust that the gospel is true. The truth is not just that we are headed for a distant heaven, but that the Holy Spirit is in us now, using us as he desires. He is the Spirit of Life, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of adoption. It is by his power and activity that we are actually in God's family forever. The powerful Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead also gives life to us -- that's great news for trusting that our daily lives are never useless or alone!

OUR REAL STRUGGLE

MAY 8, 2024

From Romans 7. We think that the struggle as a Christian is to decrease the gap between my behavior and the standard of the law. But this tension exists for us our whole lives as Christians. The struggle is to believe that Jesus Christ really has paid it all, that we are new and bear fruit through the Spirit in Him. Trusting is hard -- and we need the Word, communion, and baptism, as well as each other -- to constantly point to the reality of no condemnation, ever, in Christ. Hold fast!

LIFE, DEATH, & LAW

MAY 1, 2024

From Romans 7. What shocking truth -- that what the death of Jesus did was release us from the law, like when a married spouse dies and the law of marriage is done for that relationship. So the death of Jesus means we died to the law; we are released in order to belong to the risen Jesus. Our relationship is by the Spirit, and we bear fruit to God, not in returning to the law, but in trusting that we died in Christ, and we have life in Him apart from our own work at all. Welcome to the scary freedom of trusting that Jesus did it all, and it worked!

SIN AND YOU, II

APRIL 24, 2024

From Romans 6. Absolutely remarkable way that we are assured that we will have productive lives -- by trusting in Jesus! We think that God's plan is to have us work on ourselves, with his help, so that we'll manage to do less and less sin. That's not right. Instead, we've died in Christ, and live in him, and we trust that he not only has forgiven us and given us his righteousness, but he will bear fruit in us as we continue to rest in him.

SIN AND YOU

APRIL 17, 2024

From Romans 6. We naturally think that our Christian lives are about sin management. When we hear the actual gospel -- the good news that all of our sin has been forgiven forever, and we have been gifted Christ's goodness -- it sounds too good to be true. "Should we then sin even more, so that the gift is bigger?" is actually a question that understands how incredible the gift is. And Paul's answer is no! But that "no" is not a direction to go work on sin, but rather to trust in the new life given, and not even worry about self at all. Trust in Jesus, and don't go back to sin management!

THROUGH JESUS CHRIST

APRIL 10, 2024

From Romans 5:12-21. What an amazing link: that Adam, in the garden, set the conditions by which everyone sins, and so everyone dies. And the one who overcomes our death is the one who gives life as a free gift of grace, without regard to the sin and death we are in. This would all seem like a wonderful philosophical discussion if it weren't for what it means: life for us forever, by the once-for-all gift of Jesus, and the law there to push us to Jesus rather than guide us to sin-free life. What incredble good news for us: grace reigns through Jesus Christ!

GRASPING EASTER

APRIL 3, 2024

Jesus died, and three days later rose again. We celebrate and worship this incredible event (and our real savior!) every Easter. Less celebrated but no less important for us is what happened in our relationship: Easter is the start of the New Covenant. Jesus' blood, his sacrifice, inaguarated a new relationship, where we
are given new hearts, and all our sins are forgiven forever. It's not a "new car" replacement of the requirements of the Old, but something entirely new, where we are "in Christ," united to him, and everything is about trusting that he has actually done it all. Forget the car, jump on the plane -- where we are clean and close by the work of Christ alone. Easter rocks!

GO AHEAD, BOAST!

MARCH 27, 2024

From Romans 5. Three times Paul tells us to boast. That's hard for us to hear, because to us boasting is all about ourselves. Our accomplishments, our hard work, our character. We think perhaps it is ok to boast of those things if we acknowledge God helped us. But that's not what we are to boast about at all. Instead we boast in God's love for us. Our hope of glory, which is entirely dependent on him; our afflictions and weaknesses, which highlight that everything is based in his incredible love for us, and in him reconciling us and making us new in Jesus. We have so much to be boasting about, and all of it centered exactly on Jesus Christ for us, now and forever!

TRUST THIS

MARCH 20, 2024

From Romans 4. Abraham's faith was explicitly about holding on to hope -- hope in the promises of God. He didn't see improvements and wonders, but rather had to hold on to hope in the midst of an aged body and a barren wife. So much of our flesh fights this; we would prefer to see incremental improvements and reward of the worthy. But this is the wonder of grace: our entire life is simply dependent on the power and ability of God to do what he has promised. And he has done it in Christ!

YOU'RE OUT?

MARCH 10, 2024

From Genesis 27. Jacob strikes out in deceiving his father over and over to get a blessing. That's par for the course of his life, though -- he falls down over and over. We'd expect him to be done, rejected, and not part of any blessing whatsoever. And that's where we're wrong. God blesses Jacob (and us!) not by our merit, our good decisions, or moral behavior, but by his promise. And he has promised life and usefulness and blessing forever to those who simply trust in the promise of Jesus Christ. What a surprising -- and amazing! -- God we have.

OUR FATHER

MARCH 6, 2024

From Romans 4. Saved apart from the Law? Our relationship not based on our obedience to the commandments? To prove such an amazing claim, Paul goes back to... the law itself. Abraham, gifted righteousness, blessed with forgiveness, unconditionally promised so much that he never earned. We who trust in Jesus are the children of Abraham, his kids; he is our father, saved by faith and not by works. Rejoice, Jesus has done it all!

THE BIG REVEAL

FEBRUARY 28, 2024

From Romans 3. The world works on merit, and merit is judged through the law. So we think there are two rooms: those who don't keep the law, and those who do. We try and move people from one to the other. But Paul says that's all the same: self-righteousness simply isn't available under the law. Instead we die and we trust in the finished work of Jesus. Our lives are about trusting that he has done it, and it worked! Don't go back to "under the law" living -- find your life in Christ alone.

OBJECTIONS

FEBRUARY 21, 2024

From Romans 3. All our objections fail. We neither fear God nor keep the law; he is glorified in our evil as much as in our so-called good. When we focus on improving ourselves, we remain under the law, which just points out our sin. We need an entirely new room, new wineskins, new life. And it is found in Jesus, who fulfills the law, saves, and gives new life in him. Crushed by the law? Of course, because our only hope is in Jesus Christ.

NOWHERE TO HIDE

FEBRUARY 14, 2024

From Romans 2. We rely on the law to evaluate how we are doing. When faced with constant and inevitable failure, we... hide. We act like we actually do the law, when the Bible says no one does. That's why the gospel is such great news. Jesus Christ comes down and finds us, gives us forgiveness and goodness and life. We rely on him, entirely outside our own righteousness. That means... we really don't have to hide!

CLEAR STANDARDS

FEBRUARY 7, 2024

From Romans 2. We study the commands of God, working to know them and apply them. We judge those who don't measure up. But the issue isn't how much you know. It's whether you do what the law says. And Paul's flat statement is that no one does... especially not anyone who judges others. We are all under the same condemnation: we do not do the substance of the law from the heart. Our only hope is a gift, outside of ourselves... which is why we aren't ashamed of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ as an amazing gift of new life to us. Trust this incredible Savior!

INDIGNATION

JANUARY 31, 2024

From Romans 1. Our inability to fully and from the heart desire to do exactly what we were made for is easily seen, says Paul. And that's not God's anger. Rather it is evidence that he is indignant, because he could change it all, but allows the mess that we are in. He shows us that our current merit-based system of pleasing and doing just doesn't cut it. We need a whole different way -- The Way, which is rescue by trusting in God become flesh, Jesus Christ. He's the perfect gift and the revelation of God's amazing love toward us all!

UNASHAMED

JANUARY 24, 2024

Paul's full-throated declaration of the gospel isn't deterred by seeming weaknesses, people not changing, sin still happening, or any other way that we so often get ashamed of Christianity. That's because he saw that the declaration of Jesus Christ for us is the declaration of the very power of God and righteousness of God. His promise is true and we are saved by trusting this incredible Savior who has done it all for us!

THE TRAILER

JANUARY 18, 2024

The trailer to Romans, that is. Paul starts the letter making these incredible statements on how the gospel is everything! He says that his goal is to bring from all nations the obedience of faith. We are tempted to make this mean that faith brings obedience, but Paul means something very different. He declares the good news to bring about trust in Jesus, which is what obedience is. Faith isn't in order to work, rather faith -- simply trusting in the finished work of Christ -- is the actual obedience produced by the proclamation of the gospel. Rejoice! He has done it all!

ON FAITH

JANUARY 10, 2024

Faith is everything. But so often we don't know what it means. We have faith in the Bible, or a creed, or healing, or some attribute or fact we know about God. That's not THE faith. Faith is belief, simple trust, and it is in the God who came down for us. He paid it all; he loves us; he forgives all our sin. Our faith is in a person, Jesus Christ, and in all he he has done for us. That's why it is a gift, received. Him for us, forever. Rejoice, we don't trust bunch of fact, but a living person who promises rescue and resurrection and life.

REFRESHED

JANUARY 3, 2024

Religious people drag a sinner to Jesus. Shouldn't we stone her? They're right, she's guilty. But Jesus just writes in the sand (maybe their sins)... and they slink away. So the exposed sinner is the only one who hears the word of forgiveness that he speaks. Who are we? Excitedly the humbled sinner whose hope is only in the incredible free gift of forgiveness in the work and action of Jesus alone. Such hope we have -- he has entered our brokenness and given us life!

ADVENT IV: LOVE

DECEMBER 27, 2023

We use love for so many feelings, actions, and relationships. And while all of our uses can be helpful, God's incredible love is deeper and even different than the love we so often image. His love isn't conditional, but is amazingly, refreshingly, deeply unconditional. It's one-way love, as Jesus comes for sinners. And his love creates what he wants, rather than loving what pleases him. This Christmas season may you be struck afresh by the love of God appearing in the person of Jesus Christ!

ADVENT III: JOY

DECEMBER 20, 2023

Oh how we long for joy. We hear lots of advice on how to get it: serve, do good, choose it. Yet the Bible has a different view of joy: it is in the gift. Undeserved favor to those who have no hope, a gift that lifts our heads and gladdens our hearts because it has nothing to do with our actions at all. This is the gift of Jesus for us. He has done it all, and so we can read the Bible and all the blessings of God for us... are actually true. He is for us, forever, in Christ. Merry Christmas... and may the best gift you'll ever get blow your socks off this season!

ADVENT II: PEACE

DECEMBER 13, 2023

Peace is way more than the absence of war. It is relational wholeness, well-being, freedom from turmoil, being at rest. We've tasted it, but we tend to be constantly evaluating if we are getting enough, or being enough, to be at peace. Into our cycle of seeing peace based on our own actions, God himself acts. God became human and dwelt among us, and his actions secured our peace forever. Rejoice in this incredible gift: peace not based on anything we've done, but only and forever on the love he has for us. Peace arrived!

ADVENT I: HOPE

DECEMBER 6, 2023

Hope is often used as a synonym for our wishes, dreams, and desires. As they relate to God, there is uncertainty -- because we aren't sure what he will do in our lives. We struggle over what choices we might make to ensure our hopes become reality. But the hope of advent is entirely different. The greatest event ever -- God himself becoming human -- marks a promise and activity that is entirely on his side. It is finished because Jesus Christ actually came, while we were sinners, and lived and died and rose to rescue us. Our hope isn't some dream dependent on our right activity: it is a confidence of God for us, forever, because of Jesus!

OVERWHELMED

NOVEMBER 29, 2023

Overwhelmed at the depth of how God loves and uses us, that is. Ruth 4 is an incredible example. Naomi, leaving God's house of bread and experiencing the death of her husband and children, left only with the seemingly insignificant loyalty of an unconnected daughter-in-law. And then God using even the difficult circumstances and unknown connections to not just bless Naomi... but put her and Ruth in the actual line of David... and Jesus Christ. What an amazing God we have, who not only adores us but brings in the seemingly insignificant (and even wrong!) parts of our story, redeeming it all, enveloping us into his story forever. Overwhelming!

REDEEMED

NOVEMBER 22, 2023

The pathway from bitter to blessed doesn't go as we'd think. We are often caught up in the religious "obey/be blessed, disobey/be cursed" that flavors all our thinking. That's why the book of Ruth is such incredible good news. Redemption comes not from good choices but from a seemingly unimportant connection (the gift of surprising loyalty) and the introduction of an actual redeemer. This is what God provides: not help with better choices but a Redeemer. This is the gift of our Savior, who has paid it all for us and covers us in forgiveness, righteousness, and redemption forever.

ONE DAY

NOVEMBER 15, 2023

From Ruth 2. Naomi wants to be called bitter. She has lost hope in any sort of redemption from God. And so she is in a perfect place when God actually works to show her that he is the God of lovingkindness, grace, mercy -- and favor. Her foreign daughter-in-law finds blessing upon blessing from a redeemer. The story isn't over. But the focus has shifted from one of bad choices and consequences to one of mercy from a redeeming God. That's our story too!

COME HOME

NOVEMBER 8, 2023

From Ruth 1. Naomi has made terrible choices. And she has lost her husband and her children. Famine follows her. She heads back to Bethlehem in shame, only a foreign daughter-in-law with her. Don't call me pleasant, call me bitter, she says. Yet we know something she doesn't. That God is at work. Her self-evaluation is wrong, not because she hasn't suffered, but because of the incredible things God is doing through and around her. Would you receive this gift: that Jesus Christ is for you, now and forever, and he has blessed you beyond what you will ever see!

THE MESSAGE

NOVEMBER 1, 2023

The message of Galatians isn't that we are justified by faith. Paul starts on that truth that we all agree on. His message is how we live in light of that righteousness given. And it is amazing, shocking even. We no longer live by improvement, by measurables like the law. No, we live by trusting all the way through -- in the Spirit, in the promised new creation, in freedom. Jesus has paid it all, and it worked! May we take in the deep wonder of Christ for us, now and forever.

SOMETHING NEW

OCTOBER 25, 2023

So often we think the goal of Christian living is to become stronger and better. The law is our ladder to improved flesh. But Paul ends Galatians insisting that those efforts simply aren't our goal. Instead we die, and are brought to new life in Christ by the Spirit. What matters is the new creation, and that is entirely a work of God in Christ. Come, trust him, receive the wonderful news that the gospel is true, that Jesus Christ brings forgiveness and righteousness, that he has us now and forever.

REAP WHAT YOU SOW

OCTOBER 18, 2023

From Galatians 6. "You reap what you sow." The phrase strikes fear in us. Are you sowing good so that you will get good? But that's not the point. The point is that sowing to the flesh -- our own righteousness, holiness, advancement, our focus on ourselves -- leads to corruption, even though you don't see it now. And to sow to the Spirit -- trusting Jesus and all that he gives us in forgiveness, righteousness, and freedom -- may not look like much, but it will reap life. Hear the good news: Christ for you, forever.

WALKING BY THE SPIRIT

OCTOBER 11, 2023

Galatians 5. We so often think God's goal is to improve us. So we see the Holy Spirit as a divine power source, which we tap into to make ourselves better, stronger, holier, whatever. But in actuality the Spirit is in conflict with the flesh. We can't "use" the Spirit to improve. That path leads nowhere. Rather we turn from ourselves, and trust the Spirit will produce all the fruit that God desires. We really have a new way of life: trusting this incredible God who declares the good news of Jesus Christ.

BREATH OF FREEDOM

OCTOBER 4, 2023

Galatians 5. Our freedom accomplished by Jesus is the ground for seeing everything differently. Instead of getting to work on our righteousness, we have the hope of righteousness, a gift from Jesus. Instead of trusting so that we can obey, we see that trust is the obedience, because Jesus has done it all! And we don't return to the law, even the great law of love. Instead we trust the perfect love of Christ, for us and for our neighbor. So we don't have to impose our way -- instead we believe the Way, which is the good news of Jesus Christ our Savior.

GOSPEL FREEDOM, II

SEPTEMBER 27, 2023

From Galatians 4. One of the most practical -- and oft misunderstood -- areas of Christian living is our freedom. We are free. And that freedom is not to be a better person, to avoid sin, or to accomplish for God. No, we are free from the law, free to drop our guilt and shame, free from measurement and accounting. This is the division between law and gospel, and they cannot be mixed, says Paul. The law makes children for slavery, working through the flesh; the gospel brings children of promise, through the Spirit. Rejoice, because Jesus really has done it all!

GOSPEL FREEDOM

SEPTEMBER 20, 2023

From Galatians 4. Discipleship and "spiritual formation" are all the rage in modern Christian circles. But what people often mean is exactly what Paul is speaking against in Galatians 4. Rather than train people to a higher level, Paul comes down to ours. We all grow, but not in becoming Jesus. No, we grow in our dependence on him and our trust that he has each and every one of us. Rejoice in the truth of the Spirit in us, now and forever -- by the work and promise of Jesus alone.

NO TURNING BACK

SEPTEMBER 13, 2023

From Galatians 4. Incredible news from outside of ourselves: we are heirs and children of God, adopted into his family, by what Jesus has accomplished. We have been freed from the basic princples of the world -- where we were kept under the law -- and are now in Christ. This is so hard to believe that the Holy Spirit testifies to our hearts that it is true! There's a 'so what' to all of it -- so don't go back. Don't add yourself back in. Receive and rest in the promise of Jesus for you, forever!

BY PROMISE

SEPTEMBER 6, 2023

God made a promise, to Abraham and his offspring. In Galatians 3 Paul makes the incredible claim the the offspring is not all Israel, by lawkeeping -- but Jesus himself. The law was just to keep everyone until Jesus came, and now we live not by our own obedience but by trusting Jesus. We get the Holy Spirit, purity, goodness, life itself by the promise of God to Jesus -- and we are in Christ by what he's done, not by what we do. What incredible good news for our lives here and forever!

TAKE THE LEAP

AUGUST 30, 2023

From Galatians 3. Often we fully accept that our conversion is by Jesus alone. But we have trouble trusting Christ for our daily living. It's like we've been delivered from a burning building but want to spend our time putting out the flames, managing sin, improving the flesh. Instead, Paul urges the Galatians (and us!) to take the leap, scary as it might be, to an entirely different foundation: trusting that we live now by the Spirit, who produces fruit in us and is with us for our entire lives. Our only hope remains in what Christ has done, him alone. May we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus!

CRUCIFIED TO LIFE

AUGUST 23, 2023

From Galatians 2. We all as Christians agree that we are saved by faith and not by works of the law. But Paul is pressing into Christian living, and declares that our lives can't be about rebuilding the law. We aren't strengthened into lawkeeping, but are proclaimers of forgiveness and righteousness by Christ alone. Our hope is the promise of Christ for us and in us, and that promise is our assurance forever.

FEAR & FREEDOM

AUGUST 16, 2023

From Galatians 2. Our incredible story as outcast Gentiles is rescue and redemption by the incredible work of Jesus Christ alone. So why do we think his purpose is to return us to the law to keep our relationship with God? Instead, Paul insists, we are free, kept by the forgiveness and righteousness given us by our Savior, forever.

DESERTION

AUGUST 9, 2023

Galatians starts with a bang. Paul is passionate about the gospel. And that good news is that Jesus has done it all for us. Jesus doesn't save us in order that we might maintain a relationship with God by our own obedience to rules and regulations. He has sacrificed for us, once and for all. It is finished, and our work is to trust him who is our everything.

LISTEN

AUGUST 2, 2023

Galatians starts with an amazing proclamation of good news. Listen to me, Paul says, I've heard directly from God... and what God declares is favor and harmony in relationship, not by our cleaning up, but only and entirely by what Jesus has done for us. This is the gospel, an announcement of Jesus for you, forever. Run from all other "gospels" and hear God's promise in Christ for you.

FINAL WORD

JULY 26, 2023

It's the final word of Ecclesiastes: fear and obey God. That's because you are in a state of decay and decline, followed by death. Everything you do will be judged by the creator of all. Ecclesiastes, the best of man's wisdom, is deep and true. But God's final word, wisdom from above, is deeper and more amazing still: we have a Savior. Jesus upholds the need for perfection, but then provides it. He declares forgiveness and righteousness and life... simply by trusting in the one who loves us and dies with us and is with us forever.

INVESTING

JULY 19, 2023

Ecclesiastes 11. The golden rule of investing is to diversify. That's because we don't know what God will do, in any of the areas of life we think we have control over. Yet while we don't control outcomes, we are told in the Bible that God will judge our inputs -- both external actions and internal motives. This leads to a life of fear and uncertainty, seeing God as mostly unhappy with us. So what good news the gospel brings! Jesus announces that the judgment is finished, not by our improvement but by forgiveness, trusting his Word. We're moved from fear of judgment to life as an amazing gift. Because it is. In Christ.

FOOLISHNESS

JULY 12, 2023

A striking image from Ecclesiastes 10. Having just a little folly in a life of wisdom and honor is like having flies in perfume. Who wants to be sprayed with such a smell! Our tendency is to try and remove all the flies, but the point is that we all have a little folly. Thus all our wisdom and honor, at the end of the day, is tainted. So grateful there is actual good news -- wisdom and honor outside of ourselves in the wondrous forgiveness of Jesus Christ. He is ours forever, hallelujah!

DEATH LOOMS

JULY 5, 2023

Ecclesiastes 9. Death happens to everyone. We often see it as a momentary hurdle. We're counseled to "send our resources" ahead so we can enjoy more of heaven. Not so, says the Preacher. Death is our end, not a step to a better life, so we are encouraged to actually enjoy the life God has given us here. And after death, our hope is not in our well-lived life but in the promise of Jesus for us, his action on our behalf, sure and steady forever. What an amazing God we have!

CONTROL

JUNE 28, 2023

Ecclesiastes 8. Wisdom on earth directs earthly powers; even kings can be influenced with wisdom. But God's kingdom doesn't work that way. He sees all, and we don't even understand his ways. His plans and his actions are not influenced by us, we have no control. All we can do is trust, as he acts. So it is incredible that what he does... is forgive and raise the dead in Christ!

MANY SCHEMES

JUNE 21, 2023

Ecclesiastes 7. Denial is a fool's game, so we contrive many ways to try and control this life under the sun. The most common is to be righteous, good, so that God and others will bless us. The difficulty, says the wise writer of Ecclesiastes, is that no one is righteous. Humbled and forced to live a daily life, we turn to our only real hope -- the one who redeems and rescues and saves. Our incredible righteous one, Jesus Christ. He gives full and free forgiveness to all who receive him. Can't wait to be with him forever!

DISSONANCE

JUNE 14, 2023

"With great power comes great responsibility." Bible or movie quote? And though there's truth in the catchy phrase, the real truth is that God is all-powerful and we are little. That means wisdom - skillful living - is found in enjoying what he gives, not thinking we have to get and aquire in order to change. Our smallness is a tough pill to swallow; so grateful we have an amazing, all-powerful God!

POWERLESS

JUNE 7, 2023

We long for justice and want to end oppression. In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher looks at the world and doesn't find a way. Power corrupts; overthrowing regimes leads to new regimes, all exercising power over others. It is hard for us to hear, that in our longing for justice and getting power we become part of the problem. Yet as we recognize our inability, we can see a true hope: the one who became oppressed for us, God who had everything giving up his power for us. In our weakness, he is our strength, both in life now and forever.

HUMBLED

MAY 31, 2023

Ecclesiastes 3. We take the changing of seasons as a comforting thought that things will get better. But the reality of time passing is humbling. We can't control the experiences we have, but are at the seeming whim of seasons. True justice is also out of our reach. These human experiences point to our lack -- but we can find actual comfort in the redemption of our Savior, who experienced all we are and will make all things new.

DEAD ENDS

MAY 24, 2023

Ecclesiastes 2. Looking for meaning and purpose in life, the Preacher explores three "good" possibilities: achievement, wisdom, and work. They're dead ends. It just doesn't seem like we can grasp how we ought to do life based on looking at outcomes and results. How can we know we have God's favor, and thus a life that counts? Amazingly -- we get the answer in the New Testament. Jesus Christ in his actions and his promise is our absolute assurance of meaning, identity, and value. Yahoo!

UNDER THE SUN

MAY 17, 2023

As we start Ecclesiastes, the viewpoint of the Preacher offends us. How can life under the sun actually be absurd and meaningless, especially if God is in charge? Yet this is the truth. And it makes us look more closely than we want to -- that our only real hope is in dying to our own meaning quest and trusting in the promise of life in Christ.

FOUNDATIONS

MAY 10, 2023

Jesus closes his incredible sermon on the mount with the well-known image of building on the rock. He's not interested in building materials or construction expertise but foundations. Everyone hears the words of Jesus, but the defining issue is whether you do them. That doing is paradoxically receiving the reality that you can't do enough, ever -- and must trust in the forgiveness and work of Jesus himself. He's our rock!

FRUIT & WORKS

MAY 3, 2023

From Matthew 7. Our work is to trust Jesus, not just for conversion, but for fruitfulness and usefulness in our lives. We don't see very clearly in judging others or ourselves. But Jesus sees perfectly, and knows us. We can actually live real lives in the confidence that he will use us for his purposes and receive us to his kingdom... based on his own promise to us!

PATHWAY TO LIFE

APRIL 26, 2023

From Matthew 7. Jesus' incredible summary of the law and the prophets is echoed in every major religion. But to accomplish the "golden rule" is to enter the wide gate of self-righteousness. Instead the beautiful command of Christ is a "golden fail" that pushes us to our only real hope, suffering the forgiveness and rescue of our Savior. He is the narrow gate that leads to life!

OUR NEED

APRIL 19, 2023

From Matthew 7. Judge not, that you not be judged; ask and you shall receive. Those don't seem like connected thoughts, but they very much are. Jesus identifies our problem, not that other people aren't guilty, but that we all are crushed by the standard of the law. Our hope is not in being better in ourselves, but in receiving a gift. And the Father delights in giving this gift to any who ask: the gift of Christ himself, our Savior, his rightness and goodness ours forever. Great news for lost, broken, outcaste losers like us!

LIVING SAVIOR

APRIL 12, 2023

Easter 2023. Come, enter the wonder of Jesus being alive. He has all the power, and that means the power to forgive our actual sins today. He's not a distant memory by which we get to God, but a living wonderful Savior who actively is with us and forgives us now and forever. His heart is for us, and we trust in what he has done. This is Christianity -- our Jesus who announces "it is finished" and will never leave or forsake us. Such great news!

WORLD OF WORRY

APRIL 5, 2023

From Matthew 6. Jesus dives right into our hearts. We plan and store and gather because we think our actions control the future. In actuality, we have no such agency. Our future is certain because of the finished work of Jesus alone--and when we receive that, we can rest in the true forgiveness that we receive, freely, from him. Even our worry is forgiven by our amazing Savior who doesn't stop loving us. In this Easter week, we rejoice in a God who has us today, tomorrow, and forever.

PRAYER

MARCH 29, 2023

The Lord's prayer is an amazing change in how we approach God. For over a thousand years Israel prayed twice daily of their devotion to God from the law; but Jesus goes a different direction. Our model prayer is entirely about God who does it all. And we present him with needs that only he can provide -- provision for tomorrow, forgiveness, and protection from evil. May our lives reflect the truth that our only hope is in trusting our loving Father.

HIDDEN

MARCH 22, 2023

From Matthew 6. Jesus takes our good behaviors -- giving, praying, disciplines -- and turns them on their heads. Real goodness would be nobody seeing them but God, not even ourselves knowing about them, because we can't get away from self-righteousness. The only one who is trustworthy is God himself, who in his hiddenness is accomplishing everything on his own, without our help at all. What a wonderful Savior we have!

UNCOMFORTABLE, II

MARCH 15, 2023

From Matthew 5. We all want to do what we promise, to establish justice, to love our neighbors. So when Jesus speaks in the Sermon on the Mount, we get uncomfortable. The truth is God's representatives have no power; give up personal justice; love enemies. These don't affirm us, they expose our hearts in wanting our own reasonable (to us) righteousness. Uncomfortably condemned, and left with the only hope we will ever have -- Jesus, who forgives our sin and unites us to him forever.

UNCOMFORTABLE

MARCH 8, 2023

Sermon on the Mount. There's no escaping the uncomfortableness of our failure at lawkeeping. Jesus heightens the law so no one hurdles it; he drives it into our hearts and exposes us to judgment. That's uncomfortable. I want to find some way for me to be right in my relationship with God through my own efforts. Yet there is no way. There is only "the way" -- Jesus Christ for us, his forgiveness and our union with him. Receive this incredible gift!

SALT, LIGHT, LAW

MARCH 1, 2023

From Matthew 5. If you're not the salt of the earth, you deserve to be trampled. And what you are can't be hidden! Those don't feel like encouraging words, especially given that the standard is obedience to the law of God at the level of the heart. So why do we think this is the way to God? Instead we see God come to us, speaking these words which humble us, give us no way out except forgiveness and trust in the one who fulfills the Law: Jesus Christ.

BLESSED

FEBRUARY 22, 2023

The beatitudes are often seen as an 'if then' start to Jesus' incredible Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. But they aren't new commands. They are incredible cause for rejoicing for the spiritually bankrupt, the losers, those who don't have righteousness. You are so blessed, Jesus proclaims, because God gives to just such people. And God himself came down for us. Be blessed -- Jesus really did it all for us!

GOD SPEAKS

FEBRUARY 15, 2023

We started a journey through the Sermon on the Mount this week. And were struck by how Jesus is so closely tied to Israel's history. He's the true Israel, the better Moses... and way more. Where people trembled in fear far away, now Jesus brings the crowds close. God in the midst of lost losers, bringing forgiveness and life. What a wonderful Savior!

EXAMINE YOURSELF

FEBRUARY 8, 2023

Exams are anxiety-provoking for many, because of the real possibility of failure. Have we studied enough, do we know enough, have we done enough? Often people use just that approach to the Christian life. Self-examination is a way to gauge and spur improvement. But that's not Paul. His exam is an encouraging statement about our actual assurance: Jesus Christ in us, by promise, received and not earned. Our trust is in him for us, and this is solid ground we have from him, forever.

FOOLISH, II

FEBRUARY 1, 2023

We think we're being wise, getting stronger, increasing in personal ability. Paul calls all that... foolish. Instead God's statement for him is that power is made perfect in weakness. His power, our weakness. Thus we make known our broken, lost, littleness, trusting that the gospel is true: that Jesus forgives and gives us his righteousness forever.

FOOLISH

JANUARY 25, 2023

How foolish we are! We're so caught up in improvement and strengthening and morality that we often miss that Jesus Christ is life through death, strength through weakness, forgiveness for failures. And we're all failures, weak, and dying. May we find our hope in him, trusting him who has truly done it all for us.

GOSPEL OBEDIENCE

JANUARY 18, 2023

2 Corinthians 10. Paul's passionate about obedience, all right -- the obedience of Christ. Where so many are focused on our obedience, our accomplishment, our improvement, and our flesh, Paul points passionately to our real hope: the obedience of someone else. Faith is trust in Christ's obedience for us, and this is the work of the Spirit in us. Come, receive the forgiveness and love found in Christ for you.

OUR FELLOWSHIP

JANUARY 11, 2023

We are so prone to see church as a gym where we strengthen ourselves, a lighthouse where we shine, a hospital where we make people well. But Jesus is upside down in his gospel, which is about death and resurrection! We strengthen in dependence, his light shines, and we comfort each other as we die, trusting in the promise that we will be raised new. What astonishing truth!

OUR DIRECTION

JANUARY 4, 2023

So often what is presented to us as Christians is that our life is one of self-improvement, with some help from God. We try to climb a ladder to God, to get to his level, to be approved, stronger, complete. Yet the ladder the Bible presents is a down ladder. Our incredible news is Christ come down to us. Life is not strengthening the flesh but a new creation, one that he creates through death and resurrection. Our direction looks aimless and foolish but is actually towards an incredible life in trusting Him, not us.

GATHER AT THE MANGER

DECEMBER 28, 2022

Such an amazing Savior! The angels and heavenly host don't surround the manger. Instead God calls the lowly shepherds and pagan gentile astrologers to come and see -- and believe -- in his wondrous gift. Any who would receive, what a blessing we have in Jesus Christ!

LOVE FOR LOSERS

DECEMBER 21, 2022

God is love, and Jesus came to earth because of the incredible love he has for us. You might think that his love is like ours -- attracted to what is beautiful, strong, upright, good. But God's love in Christ is different. His love isn't attracted to what he likes; rather it creates what he desires. God's love is for losers, because there's nothing attractive in us, just a one-way action for our good that doesn't care at all that we are lost, little, wicked, dead. Christmas is the best news ever -- because there is love for losers!

JOY FOR THE LOST

DECEMBER 14, 2022

We're bombarded with instructions to 'choose joy' or do things to get joy. Yet the best biblical pictures of joy are as a gift. We are the lost and hopeless; God is the shepherd who joyfully finds us. We have passing joys, but the joy of Christ is a joy given, a joy that finds, a joy that reflects the Savior who came as a babe, not for a favor or as a transaction or investment, but as a gift. May the incredible joy of Christmas flood your heart this season and always!

PEACE FOR THE WICKED

DECEMBER 7, 2022

The wicked get no peace. No harmony. No right relationship with God. So we think -- ok, let's work on not being wicked. But there's no hope there. Our hearts are desperately wicked, and rightly judged. That's why advent is such a fabulous event. Peace came to earth, and our peace is not in ourselves but in Jesus, who forgives and loves and is our peace forever.

HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS

NOVEMBER 30, 2022

Advent, the coming of Christ to earth, is a shocking story. The story of God who comes differently than we'd expect, without regard to the ways we judge power and strength and uprightness. And that's incredible assurance for those (us) who are powerless, weak, and sinners. Hope for the hopeless.

THANKSGIVING

NOVEMBER 23, 2022

Christianity isn't about thanking God for every circumstance. We aren't required to find a silver lining in death, cancer, or loss. But we abound in thanksgiving because of the incredible reality we know: Christ for us. That's why communion is called the Eucharist, which is the greek word for Thanksgiving. Like our daily bread, we constantly come back to the ground of our faith -- full and free forgiveness in Jesus who came for us. Happy Thanksgiving!

GRACEFUL GIVING, II

NOVEMBER 16, 2022

2 Corinthians 9. We are so focused on externals that we miss God is looking at the heart. The point of reaping what you sow is not about amounts, like God is an investment multiplier; rather it is about having an attitude to bless because you've been graced by God in Christ. There's no must, just a wondrous cheer in the indescribable gift of Christ to us!

GRACEFUL GIVING

NOVEMBER 9, 2022

Surprising New Testament approach to giving in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul asks them to do what they desire to do, knowing that the Holy Spirit works in hearts, rather than following a mandated 'tithe' or some other law. So grateful that the gospel is true, that His gift is free, and that our God prompts our hearts to give!

BEAUTY FROM ASHES

NOVEMBER 2, 2022

From 2 Corinthians 7. On our own, our broken relationships lead to defensiveness and despair, and eventually death. But the wonder of life is that the Spirit actually works on our hearts to open our eyes to hope outside of us: the incredible forgiveness of Christ. What fruit it is to know that you have nothing in yourself, but have the promise of Jesus forever!

UNEQUALLY YOKED

OCTOBER 26, 2022

"Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever." Who hasn't heard this as a directive marriage or business partnerships? Yet Paul has in mind something more foundational to all of us: don't be in agreement with those who say their righteousness is not in Christ alone. Who may say they are Christians but will not see that Jesus became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. All we have is a gift; don't move from this amazing salvation!

NO OBSTACLES

OCTOBER 19, 2022

We constantly put obstacles between people and Jesus. We don't even realize it. We give impressions that you have to clean up or climb up to God. We think that temporal blessing or personal strength, moral or otherwise, is the mark of Christianity; we hint that Christianity is about us being victorious, instead of Christ alone. We have the best message ever: Jesus became sin so we might become the righteousness of God in him.

BEYOND LOGIC

OCTOBER 12, 2022

Reason serves us well. We know that judgment is coming, Paul says, so we persuade people. We know that God looks at the heart, not just the outward behavior, so we too logically move toward internal virtue. But in the midst of our reasonable rationality comes an explosive grenade that defies all logic. It is a message. A proclamation. That Jesus was made sin so that we might be made the very righteousness of God. And this is so far beyond reasonable thinking that it must simply be received. By faith in a God who is wonderfully beyond logic.

COURAGEOUS

OCTOBER 5, 2022

Christian living isn't the gym. We aren't in the place with a wall of mirrors to monitor our improving strength as we work toward fitness. Rather we have a life of walking by faith and not by sight. In the midst of weakness our confidence is in the promise of Christ for us.

SHINING

SEPTEMBER 28, 2022

"For Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to reward the rewardable, improve the improvable, or correct the correctible; he came simply to be the resurrection and the life of those who will take their stand on a death he can use instead of a life he cannot." Capon's words reflect Paul's insistence that our witness is the rock-solid assurance that in the midst of our failure, smallness, and death, we have a Savior who will raise us from the dead and be with us forever.

TWO WAYS TO LIVE

SEPTEMBER 21, 2022

Living by the letter seems like the path to life. Keep the 10 commandments. Improve yourself. Reveal the glory of blessing by obedience. But Paul says that's the way of condemnation and death. Life is actually by the Spirit -- a total gift of God's righteousness in Christ. We don't look like much, but we have the promise of the new covenant -- Christ in us, the hope of glory!

YES & AMEN!

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

We have this idea that "being a Christian" means getting stronger, better, circumstances breaking our way because now God is for us. But God's "yes" is hidden in a "no." We are weak and broken and saved not to greater strength but to trust that Jesus really is for us. Because all God's promises are 'yes' in Him ... and we say 'amen.'

OUR APOSTLE

SEPTEMBER 7, 2022

LIFE FOREVER & NOW

AUGUST 31, 2022

FREE!

AUGUST 24, 2022

GOD COMES DOWN

AUGUST 17, 2022

FINISHED!

AUGUST 10, 2022

GLORIOUS

AUGUST 3, 2022

BROKEN, II

JULY 27, 2022

BROKEN

JULY 20, 2022

REST TO REMEMBER

JULY 13, 2022

GOD'S WAY

JULY 6, 2022

BEING DAD

JUNE 22, 2022

PREPPING PRIESTS

JUNE 15, 2022

MORE TENTING

JUNE 8, 2022

TENTING

JUNE 1, 2022

PICTURES FOR US

MAY 25, 2022

FROM A CHIASM

MAY 18, 2022

MOM OF THE YEAR

MAY 11, 2022

FENCES

MAY 4, 2022

DISTANCE

APRIL 27, 2022

HE IS RISEN!

APRIL 20, 2022

THE TEN: COVETING

APRIL 13, 2022

THE TEN:

STEALING & LYING

APRIL 6, 2022