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Once for All. The Most Important Words in the Bible?

Hebrews 9:26 says: But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Three words in the middle of that verse define the distinction between Christianity and every other religion in the world. ONCE FOR ALL. Virtually every world religion shares one fundamental similarity. At the heart of the religion is instruction for achieving "eternal life", or whatever else might be the ultimate goal of the religion (eg. Nirvana, Heaven, etc.). Another way to say this is to say that the majority of religions tell you what you need to do. I think this concept of religion resonates with most people. Let me provide a few examples. Buddhism is built on a process of holding to or believing four noble truth s. The fourth of these noble truths instructs Buddhists to follow the eight-fold path , which is a list of eight activities designed to help the Buddhist gain liberation from attachment and suffering. Following the

What is Salvation?

I was recently involved in an interesting discussion about the nature of faith and salvation. As I thought about some of the things we discussed, I went back into the archives and found this draft I wrote many years ago about salvation and evangelism. It's worth consideration: What is “salvation”? Many within the church misunderstand salvation, and therefore we must be certain to hold a proper concept of salvation before we attempt to explain it to others. Ephesians 2:8, 9 says, “…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Salvation comes directly and only from God . It is something that can absolutely not be achieved by any action. Herein lays a common and serious misunderstanding of salvation. We are not saved by something we do. We are saved by something we have, namely faith. Faith is not something we can develop, it is not something we can find, and it is not somet

10 Easy Ways To Be Generous Today

Jesus was the most generous man who ever lived. He gave up the most and received the least in return. Even though He was God, he gladly opened His hand and let go of his high station. He then humbled himself and took the world's most severe demotion, eventually allowing himself to be killed by His own creatures. All of this, He gave freely so that we might be made right with His Father. God has given us so much and His expectation is that we open our hands and use those gifts to be generous. Here are some simple ways you can be more generous today: 1. Say something encouraging to someone you've never paid a compliment to before 2. Pay the tab for the car behind you in the drive-thru line 3. Send flowers to your wife for no reason (wives, send bacon to your husband) 4. Put a little extra in the offering plate at your church 5. Give a hefty tip to the cashier at the grocery store 6. Bring dessert to your neighbor 7. Make a micro-loan through  Kiva 8. Send a handwritte

Don't Worry; Be Generous!

I just finished this graphic for Sunday and it made me smile, so I posted it here. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nati

Your Focus Might Be on The Wrong Person

It's Christmas season... As we approach this season when it is fairly easy to be focused on the work of Jesus for us, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that our lives should always be focused on Him and on what He is doing in our lives. Think about Philippians 2 which encourages us to focus on the needs of others before we focus on the needs of ourselves. Do you remember those old, “You might be a redneck” jokes? At the end of each of these statements, insert the expression, “Your focus might be on the wrong person.”  And, if any of them apply, refocus yourself. If you are wondering why no one else recognizes how valuable your work is… If you are irate that someone didn’t pay enough attention to you… If you are stressed out because of circumstances beyond your control… If you are upset that you can’t get access to the important people… If you are angry that you didn’t receive the proper thanks for something you did… If you are certain that no one ca

Soccer. Football for the Brave.

Yes, But...

Every so often I have a Sunday morning experience that I am quite certain is not unique to me. I call it the Yes But. Anyone who preaches on a regular basis has probably observed the Yes But at some point in their ministry. The Yes But sounds something like this, "Pastor, I agree with what you said, BUT..." Sound familiar? Before you decide I'm being overly critical of the Yes But, though, let me finish. I have discovered that the Yes But can teach me a great deal about the words I just spoke. Sometimes, when confronted by the Yes But, I find myself feeling defensive. I immediately begin planning my response. I look for ways to show the Yes Butter that they are clearly in the wrong. You can be certain that this response clearly indicates that the words I just preached were not God's, they were my own. The more defensive I am of the words I preach, the more likely it is that they reflect my ideas, not God's. Sometimes, though, when confronted with