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Pastors’ Blog

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What’s in a Name?

My father’s name was good. My father’s name opened a door for me that was not expected but was greatly appreciated.

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Grasping the Promise

Given the amount of information we process, as well as our human tendency toward immediate gratification, we might chalk this promise up to be something to consider down the road. But this would be a mistake.

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The Team of 12 That Went to Vidor

The recovery team of 12 from our church responded to help and arrived in Vidor, Texas — just 90 minutes east of Houston — on November 5. We sensed that God could use us to accomplish several purposes.

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A Bleak Look at Black Friday

Black Friday is almost like a national holiday in America. Many offices are closed and many people use vacation days to enjoy an extended weekend away from work. Some of those people, and maybe some of you, spend the day shopping as they seek to take advantage of special holiday sales to complete their Christmas shopping.

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God’s Promises for the Ages

During this season, let’s be more than just “good Americans” who eat turkey, watch football, and say a token Thanksgiving prayer before the festivities. Our thankfulness is rooted deeper than our citizenship; it’s born out of our rebirth!

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Dirk Gently and the Clarity of Christ

Christ doesn’t give us all the answers. Much like the characters in the show, we only know what we need to know in order to pick up our cross and follow.

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My Dental Identity

My worth is not built on how I look or how I act. It’s not based on my perfect smile or my perfect law keeping. It’s built on how God has chosen to deal with me in Christ.

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The Priesthood of All Believers

In general, the priesthood of all believers is the idea that there is no legitimate distinction between the pastor/elder/overseer and the congregation when it comes to Christian life and practice. Believers have one Mediator between themselves and God, and He is Christ, not the pastor.

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A Faith that Saves

We really don’t trust God. And so, we pile on the weight of rules, and privileges, and pride, and we march up to the righteous Judge and say, “look at me!”

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What’s in Your Plan?

What might be included in your “spiritual training plan?” Prayer, Scripture, fellowship with others, and sharing your faith might come to mind. All these things need to be included, but we need to think at the heart level.

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Connecting the “Dots” After a Disaster

Natural disasters reveal that we live in a fallen and broken world that needs a Savior to make things right. C. S. Lewis has noted that “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world to draw people closer to himself and into His purposes.”

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Why Does the Reformation Matter?

500 years is a long time. Enough time to forget the meaning and significance of certain events. It’s also the right time. The right time to remember and consider the meaning and significance of certain events.

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God Sure Has a Big Heart

With all my sins needing forgiveness, His love is big enough to handle that. For all the billions of people in the world, there was still room for one more — me — to be in His heart. He has a big heart.

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When I Fail to Pray

Why do I struggle to pray so often? One of the reasons is that, at a heart level, I don’t believe that prayer makes any difference. Why stop and pray when I could be out working hard to make things happen?

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Charlie Brown Trees

The God of the broken, the beaten, and torched,
This God, who would speak through a stubborn half-horse,
Works to make glorious darkest affairs.

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Blessed to Give at the Château

Whenever we step out in faith to assist someone in the name of Jesus or speak the truth in love, we experience what the Apostle Paul declared in Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

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Communion is God’s Designed Anniversary Celebration

Celebrating communion together as a congregation is our opportunity to corporately reaffirm our gratitude for Christ’s death on our behalf, testify to His ongoing work in our lives, and give us a taste of eternity with Him.

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The Mirror

Most of us probably have a love-hate relationship with mirrors. They help us look our best, but they also reveal our worst.

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What’s in Your Cup?

I have a cup of coffee and you accidentally bump the coffee cup. Now there’s coffee all over the floor. Why is there coffee all over the floor?

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Kneeling By Choice

How I respond when my freedom is challenged by the exercise of someone else’s freedom reveals more about me than I care to admit.

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Prayer Drives Mission

I am an activist. I want to get up and do something. I want my life to count. One way that I feel significant is if I am busy doing things that contribute to a larger cause. Can you relate?

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What Bible Translation Should I Use?

The question, “What Bible translation should I use?” unfortunately has no direct answer, since the question implies that one translation is better than the others in all instances — and that is not accurate.

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Until Jesus Came…It Had Never Happened

Maybe you have noticed something I observed about the uniqueness of Jesus’ life here on earth…

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Hurricane Relief & Crisis Response

When major disasters happen, God’s people have an opportunity to respond with compassion, love, and mercy that points others to Christ and gives Him great glory. We see people in need and we ask God to use us to show and share the love of Christ in those places among those people.

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Renovation for Effectiveness in Central France

The Château is in a new phase of challenges as they update their facility to welcome new people and initiate new evangelistic and discipleship ministries for youth and adults.

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Be Encouraged, Be United, Know Jesus

Jesus wants women to be encouraged. He wants us to be united in love. He wants us to have the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. But, most importantly, Jesus wants us to know Him!

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The Value of a Good Question

When we ask good questions, we demonstrate to people that we are interested in what they have to say. We enable ourselves to understand their viewpoints.

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Football Season: Distraction or Opportunity?

People all over our city and country will be gathering around televisions to watch football on Saturdays and Sundays from the beginning of September until the beginning of February, so let’s be intentional and take advantage of this massive cultural opportunity!

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Reflections of a Pastoral Intern

I’ve learned more through this internship than I can express in 700 words. However, for the sake of time and the reader not getting bored, here are the two things which impacted me most…

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A Bloody Cross Saves, but a Burning Cross Damns

The reality of the Gospel is that our cross is not burning, but that it’s bleeding. The bloody cross of Christ is where God and man meet and where we become one with our brothers and sisters from all backgrounds.

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God Has a Word for You

An unavoidable side effect of working at a church as a Pastoral Intern is that you are around God’s Word all the time. Seemingly every picture on the wall has a Bible verse in it, every meeting opens with a devotion, and every conversation is in some way theological.

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Grace Is More Than a Name

Grace is the name we have given to our church. We believe in grace. We preach grace. Around our property are signs declaring “Welcome to Grace.”

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Celebrating Changed Lives at Momentum

Each year God used the time at these conferences—both as a student and then later as a leader—to speak to my heart. This year was no different, but what I think made this year even more special for me was that I saw Him do these same things not only in my heart but in the hearts of everyone in our group.

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Relationships

Jesus spoke of relationships when He summed up the whole of the Law and Prophets in Matthew 22:34–40: love God with everything you are and love your neighbor (other people) as yourself. It all comes down to relationships, both the vertical and the horizontal. A way we show our love for God is loving people.

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Showing and Sharing the Gospel in Haiti

Jesus gave everything so that we could be reconciled to God. It was because of this that we so we willingly laid down our lives in order that others might hear and know that good news!

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Hopes for Momentum

Each year Momentum Youth Conference is a highlight of the summer for our student ministry. There’s something about getting away for several days that helps you change your perspective and makes you more open to what God might want to say to you.

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Are You Equipped to Share the Gospel?

Given the challenges in evangelism, I’m thankful for training opportunities like StreetWise at Urban Hope, which serves to help give a passion for sharing Christ with others and equipping participants to do so with confidence.

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Nine Tips for Becoming a Better Reader

While reading does come more naturally to some than others, I do think there are things everyone can do to improve their reading in both frequency and quality. You can become a reader.

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Encountering Atlanta

Sometimes the hardest place to begin to reach the nations is in your own neighborhood.

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Going, Going…Gone!

Every summer Grace Polaris Church sends out short-term teams to engage in new cultures among new people for the sake of the Gospel. Participants hope to draw nearer to Christ and have an impact for Him in a variety of locations among a number of different types of people.

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This Entropic Motel

Entropy glorifies God by dissatisfying us until we seek something better; it drives us to seek the reality we know is supposed to be. It reveals God as the only perfection, the only ideal, the truest reality, and the only One who can fill our longing for permanence and perfection. He is what is supposed to be.

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A Working Vacation

Camping has become a “thing” for the Stanley family. Each of the last several summers we have spent at least three days away in a state park campground, and the memories are great. The kids love it, the adults get to unwind and unplug, and things just happen at an altogether different pace.

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Peanuts, Get Your Peanuts!

The vendors at the baseball games herald their goods, making sure all in earshot know they can purchase what they are selling. “Peanuts, get your peanuts!” is one of my favorite vendor calls while watching a baseball game.

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The Hero the People Deserved, and the One They Needed

In the midst of a book full of graphic violence about people groups we’re not familiar with and sins which look very different in our modern world than they did back then, we might be shocked to see this cycle is something that we easily fall into today!

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It’s All About the Root

I’ve never been good at growing grass. I could be considered an expert at growing dandelions and other broadleaf weeds, much to the chagrin of my neighbors. One quick look at my lawn a few days after mowing will prove this to you.

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Krispy Kreme, Pizza, & Ice Cream Sandwiches

Temptation. We can’t escape it. It bombards us from all angles and in all varieties. Even Jesus was tempted. How do we battle and overcome it like He did?

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Salvation from Works

“What am I going to do with my life?” This question has weighed heavily upon me as I consider how I will spend my numbered days on earth, and I may have been crushed by the pressure or frozen out of fear if I had not encountered a very old doctrine in a very new way.

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Created by God, Built for a Purpose

In just a few days our church will be flooded with children who will have the opportunity to be guided through the Bible, hearing the Gospel and hope of salvation. Wow! What a privilege God has given us to reach the children in our communities.

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Perspective is a Powerful Ally

Joseph and Jacob didn’t have the luxury of seeing the end in the midst of their unfolding story, but we do. Sure, we may not know the immediate details and outcomes of our stories, but we know the ultimate end.

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Love is a Commitment

The Gospel gives us a constant, unending love that envelops our entire being. God’s love enables our love. Christ’s death on the cross is a manifestation of God’s love. Therefore, we have the capacity to love people unconditionally…

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Where Everyone Knows Your Name

We all want to be known deeply…and still loved and accepted. I believe those desires are universal—hardwired into the very fabric of our souls. I believe this to be true because God made us that way!

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The Mission and New Leaders

Our vision at Grace includes New Life, New Growth, New Leaders, and New Churches. We love having college interns around and it is one way we seek to fulfill this call of investing in new leaders.

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A Humble Continuity

A degree of adaptation and change is appropriate as decades and generations come and go, but it seems wise to temper our passion for progress with humility as we look simultaneously to the past and the future.

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The Starting Points

Before we worry about God’s specific calling on our lives and the slice of the Great Commission He’s calling us to pursue, let’s make sure we are engaging in the essential disciplines of a Great Commission Christian.

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Adrift or Anchored?

What informs your thoughts about who you are? What informs you on what to pursue for significance? What is it you are seeking to fulfill you? Answering these questions can be challenging.

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A Glorious Confidence

God is glorified when I, overwhelmed by my sin and drowning in my incompetence in a darker place than I ever thought possible, come to Him anyway with confidence that He will receive me lovingly as the person He has declared me to be.

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The Great Imbalance

It is estimated that by the year 2030, 85% of the followers of Jesus worldwide will be found in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The only thing that will diminish this celebration would be to know that 40% of the world remains unreached.

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Screwtaping Shakespeare

Satan tells us “honest trifles.” He’s truthful about the possible gain of certain sinful actions, but he doesn’t tell us the whole story. The incredible destruction sin can cause is the real story of sin, but his temptations rave about only what we can get from sin.

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The Number One Reason People Attend Church

What’s the number one reason people go to church? Is it the music? Is it incredible children’s ministries? Is it various social activities provided? To these questions, the answer is “no.” The number one reason why people go to church is…

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Why Does Church Membership Matter?

Through the years I’ve been asked the question, “Does church membership matter?” I’ve even asked the question myself. I mean, where in the Bible to we find a verse exhorting us to join an official church membership roll?

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How to Apply Jesus’ Statement, “Judge Not, that Ye be Not Judged”

It’s pretty common to hear someone quote or paraphrase Matthew 7:1, in which Jesus says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.“ Often the person quoting the passage is objecting to being criticized for his behavior.

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A Call to the Nations

During my visit to Encompass World Partners’ headquarters, my heart was stirred by the clarity of the call God has given His people to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” It is evident from Genesis to Revelation that God is jealous for His name to be exalted to the ends of the earth.

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No Other Gospel: TGC National Conference Reflections

This week most of our pastoral staff attend The Gospel Coalition National Conference in Indianapolis, IN along with 8,000 of our closest friends. Here are several takeaways from the conference…

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God Helps Those Who Can’t Help Themselves

Dangerous ideas within faith often persist because they sound and feel vaguely religious. They tend to scratch our selfish itches in subtle ways, allowing us to still feel like we’re being very Christian while serving ourselves.

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An Opportunity to See the World as God Does

God has told us to “make disciples of all nations.” If I’m honest, this is hard to do because there are a lot of people groups living in Columbus who are very different than me. I need help beginning new relationships with those who don’t share my culture and, in some cases, my language.

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Country Boy to City Living to City Loving

If people are moving to cities, then we need to be where people are. Therefore, we must move, live, and work in cities.

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Our Mission Isn’t Changing

Let’s be reminded of what God has truly called us to…not a building, not a capital campaign, not building our own kingdom. God has called us to multiply devoted followers of Jesus, and we are committed to chasing after that calling no matter what!

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The Family Invention

As a part of a family, you have responsibilities. You have a role to play. The family of God needs you and you need the family of God. What an amazing invention, God’s family…and we get to be part of it!

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My Gracious Dermatitis (Grace-a-titis)

What my flesh craves is not what God destined me for, nor what He knows is best for me. He has not only rescued me from my sin, but He continues to save me from myself…

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The Siege of Jerusalem

The story of the siege of Jerusalem is not the most familiar story in the Bible. Not by a long shot.

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One Thing Missing

Can there be anything worse than a husband promising his wife he’ll pick up items on her grocery list on his way home, then when she’s unpacking the bags she says, “Where’s the milk? That was first on my list!”

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God and Mass Killing

How can a loving God condone or even command the killing of whole groups of people? If we are to trust a deity who seems vengeful, how can we reconcile this with our sense of compassion and justice?

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Reaching the Least Reached Without Leaving Our City

We believe God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. We believe God is able to change hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. We believe that God is able to do the things that look impossible to us!

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Pregnancy Decision Health Centers and Grace

Grace Polaris Church and Pregnancy Decision Health Centers: this is a partnership that began 32 years ago when a task force was formed at Grace to investigate the possibility of establishing a pro-life pregnancy center in the northern part of Columbus.

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I Promise!

“I promise.” Those are words you rarely hear from my mouth, and my upbringing has everything to do with it. My parents placed a premium on the truth. Lying was not tolerated. A promise was sacred and not to be spoken casually.

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Giving Up My “Mys”

True change comes when it’s more painful to stay the same than it is to change. I guess that’s why God made marriage. Now that my “mys” are “ours,” all the self-chosen, velvet nooses I’ve slowly tied around my neck are now tied around her neck too.

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The Clothes We Wear

Just like the clothes we put on in the morning stay with us throughout our day, how we clothe ourselves spiritually each day stays with us as well.

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Resistance Can Be Offensive

Resisting Satan can be an offensive weapon when we encounter resistance to the Gospel. We should be praying for those who are blinded to the glory of Jesus.

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Super Bowls, Success, and Satisfaction

Having tasted the thrill of victory as a fan, if I’m honest, I’m still left feeling a bit unsatisfied as life marches on.

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Passion That’s Contagious

Going into my recent trip I had some high expectations and hopes for what I might learn while in Haiti. However, I think I may have learned something even more beneficial and profound that wasn’t on my original list.

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The Power of Grace

Is it possible that one of the biggest barriers we face in disciple-making is that we are seeking to reach people who have built up resistance to Christianity by having been exposed to weakened or dead forms of it? Perhaps so.

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The Top Ten Pastors’ Blog Posts of 2016

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, thank you! I trust a few of these posts may remind you of some challenges you’ve received. If you only occasionally stumble upon the Pastors’ Blog, maybe you’ll be encouraged by some things you’ve missed.

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Prayers for President Trump and the Church on this Inauguration Day

As Christians, there is one thing in which we do find agreement when it comes to the office of the President of the United States of America, we must pray.

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Driving Me Crazy in Central Ohio

Driving in Central Ohio has a great way of revealing what’s in our hearts.

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Hope Through Miscarriage

We now know Jesus better because of this. Our love for Him has grown. Our comfort is knowing our sin has been paid for, in a Lord who knows suffering, and in a caring Savior who is entirely in control.

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Going to Haiti as a Learner

People tend to focus upon the things they hope to accomplish, but I don’t often hear people consider what God might want to teach them during their time overseas.

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It’s a New Year—Make it a Great One!

There’s no magic formula to follow to make sure you can sustain the excitement and energy of a new or renewed relationship with Jesus. A simple “New Year’s” resolution won’t do the trick.

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Comfort and Triumph in the Gospel of Jesus Christ

If the Christian theist acting as apologist simply gives a defense for the Christian faith, the bulwark of Christianity is effectively pushed aside.

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The Chasm Transcended

Begetting all, yet born to us.
Uncreated, life begun.
Holding all, yet held by man,
Ageless One in withered hands.

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Making Sense of the Senseless

We all want to know why. We all want to try to fit a senseless tragedy into a sensible little box that we can wrap our minds and emotions around.

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For All the People

What is this good news of great joy? What is this message that isn’t only good for the upper middle class in America, but for all people?

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Christmas for the Nations

Christmas has always been for the nations in God’s mind. Everyone and every people group is included in the plan of God.

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He is a Gentle Servant

About 750 years before Jesus came to earth, the prophet Isaiah anticipates the savior’s coming. Isaiah 42 presents Jesus as a gentle savior.

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Hark!

Jesus becoming man was more than just a cool social experiment of having God walk among us. It was the moving forward of God’s rescue plan.

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Ambushed!

Have you ever been caught off guard? I mean completely, out of nowhere, “where did that come from?” off guard? I’m sure you have. You may have memories flooding back right now.

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Searching

Maybe, just maybe, we need to change the parameters of our search. Maybe this world can’t deliver what our heart is truly searching for.

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Charitable Conundrums

How should genuine followers of Jesus make decisions about their charitable giving, especially this time of year when everyone seems to have access to your mailbox?

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The Wrong Sermon Title?

Sometimes the most difficult element in preparing the outline is creating the sermon title. The title, at least in theory, represents the essence of the sermon, hopefully in some catchy or creative way.

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Jesus Doesn’t Cry Wolf

You’ve probably heard the story many times before and the lesson still rings true. A person who does not consistently tell the truth cannot be trusted, even if they do at times choose to tell the truth.

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Thanksgiving Meditation

It’s lovely to enjoy oneself,
To bask in blessings God has dealt.
All good things appreciate
But do remember: they will fade.

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