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Christ's Love on the Cross Changes Everything!

These Questions.

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love.” –Ephesians 1:4 LEB
     This verse. There was a time I asked what it meant that God chose me before the foundation of the world? Or how I’m to be holy and blameless before Him in love? Some translations stop verse four at ‘Him’, and attribute ‘in love’ to verse five, which kind of confused me for a bit. I appreciate the literal word-for-word translation of the Lexham English Bible, which can also be seen in the Christian Standard Bible. The CSB translates it as: “…to be holy and blameless in love before Him.”
     The first thing God stripped from me while meditating on this verse is that I cannot ascribe what I think to God, as if I understand His ways. The notion that my tiny peon brain is even capable of considering God’s majesty or motivations outside of what He has revealed through His Word is hubris (Isaiah 55:8-9). And even if I don’t exactly understand wh…

Come On, Jesus

Taking a pause on Ephesians this week but next week I will resume where I left off.
     I want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone who reads this to know that God is in control of our paths and there is nothing that He does not already know. That includes what we hope for, dream about, need and want, as well as what we fear, struggle with and what hurts us. Even when people disappoint us, anger us, or prove to be exactly who we have always believed them to be beneath the surface, God knows. Even when that person happens to be the reflection staring back at us in the mirror. God knows. And, even in that knowledge, He loves us!
     Recently I was blessed to contend with a couple of issues in my personal life. One issue of which was where I had some folks gossiping about me and I had to decide how to deal with that. It’s hard because there is a knowledge of being commanded to forgive and while I do forgive them, I have to ask myself: do I really want them all up in my perso…

Bless the Lord

“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”—Eph 1:3.
     I have read over that word blessed a few times in a couple different books now. It always struck me as odd to say that God was blessed. Who blessed Him? Did He bless Himself? Has it ever struck you as odd? I mean, we even sing it in at least one Matt Redman song, Bless the Lord O My Soul. On some level, I just accepted it on face-value and moved on. But I finally looked up that word, blessed. I love it when something I think I know is revealed to be wrong and God corrects me. This is especially true when the correction is an “ah-ha” moment.      Blessed is the transliterated word eulogÄ“tos and it means: praised, blessed, worthy of commendation. Some dictionaries define it as praiseworthy. When I understood it as praiseworthy, it made so much more sense to me. Of course, God is worthy of our praise!! Look at what Paul pairs that st…

Peace of God? Wait...What?

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” —Ephesians 1:2 LEB
When we greet people today, it is usually with a simple “hi”. I may get fancy and say “Hey, ya’ll.” But imagine being greeted how Paul greeted the Ephesians! This was a greeting of continual blessing from God. The word grace alone means kindness,favor,esteem, gratitude, and goodwill; but peace from God?! Wow. The Dictionary of Biblical Languages tells us that while we can understand this as harmony and tranquility, peace should be understood as freedom from worry. How many of us would love to have freedom from worry?

     The more I have thought about that, the more it’s taken me back to what Paul said in Philippians 4:6-7, that we should worry about nothing but instead pray about everything. Of, course anytime worry comes up, I can’t help but think about Matthew 6:25-34 That’s where Jesus tells us not to worry or be anxious about tomorrow because today’s worries are sufficient for themselves. His …

To Whom It May Concern...

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:”–Ephesians 1:1
     Some manuscripts do not have “in Ephesus,” instead, they just say: “to the saints who are also faithful in Christ.” Whether this was written to Ephesus or to the saints also faithful in Christ in the surrounding area, we know Paul was writing to believers who were faithful to Jesus. I do not know about you, but for me, this makes me wonder what an epistle to the also faithful in Augusta would say. Or the also faithful in any one of the cities throughout our nation or the rest of the world today. It got me to thinking about how in Paul’s day the Church consisted mostly of gatherings that were held in people’s homes. In many ways, they were akin to Francis Chan’s house church concept, or even some churches idea of home-groups or community groups. I believe Life Church calls them Life Groups, New Passion calls them Community Groups, your church mi…

Out of Hiatus (Reflection)

During COVID-19, my wife Ashley and I have used our time to draw closer to the Lord. That is not to say that we are coming out of quarantine and social distancing like Franciscan monks, not at all! Although, honestly, if it were not for Abbie at Beautiful Blessings Salon, I probably would have looked like a Franciscan monk using my own clippers! (Thanks, Abbie!) However, as my wife wrapped up a Precept study on Luke and then delved into Biblical Counseling courses for her Masters, I dove into The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler andCreature of the Wordby Chandler, Geiger and Patterson.
     Together she and I started the Gospel-centered recovery studyStepsby Chandler and Patterson. It has been enlightening and invigorating. There is no doubt, I believe in the ministry of Celebrate Recovery. I think that there are a lot of believers that could benefit from attending Celebrate Recovery, to hear testimonies of grace and to know what God can do even when we think that all is lost. …

My Hope from the Heart

In spite of the dire circumstances that we may face, I’m here to tell you that there is hope. As the brave men and women put their lives on the line in our hospitals and face COVID-19, as the virus strikes closer and closer to home, as people we know become sick and some end up in the ICU—I have faith that there is hope. Why? God tells us, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NASB).
     During this time and once this unsettling time has passed, there will be those among us who turn to God and there will be those who rail against God and blame Him for COVID-19, they will blame Him for all of the deaths and we can be sure that there will even be those who ask, “Where was your God when all of this happened?” I know that this will happen because I would have been one of the one’s to ask such a question before Jesus turned my heart away from what it used to be. I used to ask God why He let my sister die? Why did it have to be…