“All they had was the real, living presence of Jesus Christ…”

Speaking of the early church in the Roman Empire, Kevin Palau writes:

“All they had was the real, living presence of Jesus Christ himself–living in them through the Holy Spirit, giving them what they needed to bear witness and radically love in ways the world could not explain.” From Palau’s book Unlikely)

Unlikely is one of the most important books I’ve read in years. It’s just what I needed to hear. You might have the same reaction: Unlikely: Setting Aside Our Differences to Live Out the Gospel

Joseph’s 5 Steps to Avoid Temptation: Genesis 39:6-23

how to resist temptation

(Tied for the most popular post of 2014 so far, from the archives)

Read Genesis 39:6-23

Genesis 39:6-23

I don’t know what Joseph’s early responsibilities were when he first began at Potiphar’s house, but they may have been intensely physical, because Joseph was ripped (“well built” verse six tells us). He was also a good looking guy. And because of this, Joseph’s master’s wife notices him, and begins to proposition him, without much in the way of subtlety either.

“Come to bed with me!” she says to him. Continue reading

Love Like Jesus, “Don’t Say I Love You”

Jesus never said I love youWhy A Basketball Player Reminded Me Of Jesus

Last week I was playing basketball. A group of us were there at the Cedar Hills Gym in Portland playing 3 on 2. That’s a little awkward, 3 on 2, but we were jabbering at each other and generally having a great time anyway. Then in walks this guy who’s tall. Not NBA tall, but tall, you know, like 6 feet 5 inches. He’s taller than the rest of us, and he hardly says a word. He just joins in to make it 3 on 3 and–in a silent Clint Eastwood-like manner–proceeds to completely dismantle us. It didn’t matter how we arranged the teams, the silent assassin always won. He was so amazingly effective.

And that guy reminds me of Jesus.

He reminds me of Jesus because of this curious quirk in the gospel accounts. Continue reading

The 1 Thing God Wants You To Do (To Reveal Him To The World)

Love one another

God Uses People

Before we get to the one thing, I just want to establish that God uses people. He always has in the past and He still does today. God uses people to reveal Himself to the world. There are exceptions, like the time he led the Israelites with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (3,500 years or so ago). But it’s people He uses, most of the time, to reveal Himself to the world. Even a casual reading of just a few chapters of scripture affirms this.

Are You A Christian?

Are you a Christian?

If you are, then God wants to use you. He wants to use you to reveal Himself to the world, and He wants you to do one thing in particular. And here’s the one thing: Continue reading

The Angry Crowd, Freakonomics, and Doubt: Genuine Seeker (Part 7)

Why do I doubt peer pressure

The Angry Crowd (This Really Happened)

Imagine you’re sitting in class with thirty-five other people on a Friday. It’s late afternoon and before your instructor dismisses you and your fellow students, he makes an announcement. He warns everyone to avoid downtown this weekend, because there’s a large (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) pro-life demonstration occurring there.

But just as soon as he says the words “pro-life,” there’s an overwhelming eruption in the classroom. It seems every student stands up from their chair and jeers and boos and hollers against the pro-lifers. You’re new to the group and their reaction takes you completely off guard. You’re shaken–because you’re pro-life.

From the moment the class booed and hissed at the notion of a pro-life demonstration, it felt almost impossible for you or anyone else to voice a pro-life point of view. The derision in the room was palpable.

Like most people, you like to think of yourself as independent and unconstrained by the thinking of people around you. But you’re sitting next to a good friend who knows you’re pro-life. And in the moments following the contemptuous crowd reaction you find yourself hoping he doesn’t say anything to tip off your sentiments. Continue reading

Firefighter Kills Mother and Unborn Son in Head-on: What Happened Afterwards is Astounding

In Dacula, Georgia a twenty-year old firefighter named Matthew Swatzell just finished a 24 hour shift. While he was driving home that morning he fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the center line, and drove head-on into an oncoming car. That car was carrying the wife, unborn son, and daughter of a youth pastor named Erik Fitzgerald.

Erik’s wife and son were killed in the crash. Only his nineteen month old daughter survived.

What happened afterwards is astounding.

[HT Irene, longtime loyal reader.]

The Practice of the Presence of God

Remember what I advised you to do: Think about God as often as you can, day and night, in everything you do. He is always with you. Just as you would be rude if you deserted a friend who was visiting you, why would you be disrespectful of God by abandoning His presence?

Do not forget Him! Think of Him often. Adore Him ceaselessly. Live and die with Him. That is the real business of Christians. -Brother Lawrence


Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

What God Wants

What does God want

Jesus’ Last Moments

Jesus hung there on the cross between the two criminals. The sign Pilot ordered, hung over Jesus’ head, it said, This is the King of the Jews. The bible says the Jewish rulers were “sneering” at him. “He saved others,” they said. “Let him save himself if he’s God’s Messiah.”

One of the criminals who hung there with him also sneered. He said, “You’re supposed to be the Messiah? Save yourself and save us too.”

Darkness came across the land.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two.

Then Jesus called out loudly, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

And then he died.

(Luke 23)

How God Said It

In the story of Jesus’ death we see him mocked and sneered at while he hung there to die. Before that we feel his pain as we see him falsely accused, and whipped, and crowned with thorns, and nailed to the cross. We see it, we feel it, we experience it. That’s the way the bible is written. Have you ever noticed that? Have you ever noticed all the sensory experiential language in the bible?

  • Jesus’ first miracle had to do with tasting. He turned the water into wine. And the master of the wedding feast tasted it and said, This is the best tasting wine of the feast.
  • “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” Psalm 34:8 says.
  • Jesus said, I am the bread of life, he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. (John 6:35) In fact most of John chapter 6 is about Jesus explaining how we must eat and drink of him.

And there’s also all the talk about Jesus our bridegroom, and how we’re his bride.

  • Jesus said, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?” (Matthew 9:15)
  • The bible says in Revelation, “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…” (Revelation 19:7-9, see also Revelation 21:2, 21:9-11)
  • And Jesus tells the parable of the virgins and the bridegroom in Matthew 25.

And those are just a few examples. So why does the bible push all this sensory and experiential language on us? What is God saying to us?

What God Wants

What is he saying to us? What does God want? Here’s what He’s saying to us: Continue reading

Love Like Jesus–Love the Unlovable

Love Like Jesus -- Socialize with Sinners Influence

(One of our most popular posts–from the archives)

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:16-17

How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved people by spending time with them, in spite of their sinful lifestyle.

How to Love Like Jesus

There’s a blog I follow called Not Ashamed Of The GospelNot long ago, they posted a three part series about a ministry which reaches out to sex industry employees. I couldn’t help but notice there weren’t many comments offered on the last post in the series, An Insider’s Look — “Awkward!” I think for most people, that post was just too hot to handle.

Finally, one person posted and as best as I could tell he used scripture to infer this post about the sex industry ministry was an example of ungodly men perverting the grace of God.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to comment.

Continue reading

Thanksgiving and Noah’s Ark

Thanksgiving and Noah's Ark

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. (Genesis 8:20)

I think Noah demonstrates for us one of the most important keys there is to walking closely with Jesus Christ. The very first thing Noah did after he stepped off the ark was to sacrifice some of the clean animals and birds to God. I can’t imagine doing that. In my own flesh I would have said, “I have just seven sheep here, should I take the seventh and make a sacrifice? I have to populate the whole world from this diminished tiny herd. Doesn’t it make more sense to wait until the animals have multiplied before sacrificing to You Lord?”

But in the words of Matthew Henry, “Serving God with our little is the way to make it more; and we must never think that wasted with which God is honoured.” Obviously Noah had a grasp of this truth.

And Noah had a grasp of the power of thanksgiving. Imagine with me that you’ve been cooped up in an ark with thousands of animals (and with all of the sanitation issues that implies). You’ve been cooped up like this for more than a year! For 377 days! What’s the first thing you want to do when you get out? Celebrate with a party? Go for a long walk just because you finally can? Build a house for yourself? Play some frisbee football? That’s what I’d want to do but that’s not what Noah did. Noah Continue reading