Tag Archives: faith

Faith Over Fear

I coughed.

Allergies have been a part of my life for years. So, when I got a tickle in my throat while preaching, it was nothing new. I just needed to clear my throat and maybe cough it out just a bit.

But a simple cough in today’s world can be enough to induce fear and anxiety in others. Though I was yards from the nearest person, I knew my little cough, inevitable as it was, would cause some anxiety and worry and maybe even a bit of panic in the age of pandemic.

But is fear the right response? Should our anxiety climb at every sniff of a nose? While precaution is understandable, ought panic to be?

The Bible tells us “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and sound judgment.” (2 Tim. 1:7) God’s word says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6)

Faith is the Christian response to difficulites and problems. Fear is the enemies effort to keep you from trusting God and depending upon his power and peace.

We should, of course, exercise common sense and take necessary precautions. I’m not advocating for a lack of concern for others or of safety protocols. Remember, however, that God doesn’t want us to plunge into the pool of fear, worry and anxiety. Our culture is filled with people wallowing in that puddle. We Christians have something far greater than fear. We have faith.

We know God is bigger than our problems. God can be trusted with our future. God offers peace over panic. We don’t have to fear even sin and death because Jesus conquered those enemies on our behalf.

So, trust God in the middle of a pandemic. Live by faith instead of fear. Tell him your needs. Ask for his wisdom and protection. And always remember that “The peace of God which supasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)

Faith over fear.

Even if someone coughs!

Why Revival?

Like many, I’m praying for revival in our day. By revival I mean Christians returning to a deep intimacy with the Lord. Revival is the condition of believers being right with God and living in close fellowship with him. When revival comes, it certainly makes an impact on the world. Revival, however, is for believers who know the Lord but have drifted from full surrender to his will and his ways.

So why should we want revival? Why should we care? Here are some reasons to desire revival in the life of our churches and in our personal lives.

Why revival?

1. Because God has something better for us than casual Christianity. What God wants for you is better than what the world wants for you. Casual faith tries to live like the world and look like the world. “Don’t be too radical with your Christian faith,” it warns.

But God’s way is so much better. I didn’t say Continue reading

There is Hope

Hope is a powerful thing.

Without it, we sink into a chasm of despair and depression. But with it, we can overcome the most difficult and challenging circumstances of life.

And Christians have hope. Not wishful thinking hope. Not blind optimism hope. Not ignoring reality hope. Christians have genuine, God-given, obstacle-overcoming hope that comes from the throne room of heaven itself.

To the believers in Rome facing threats and problems, Paul spoke of hope. Though he himself dealt with persecution, trials and poverty, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write words of hope.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Powerful words!

There is hope in this fallen world. There is hope for your life and future. There is hope for our churches in these uncertain times.

Here are three reasons Continue reading

Baptizing in Rusty Water

What an exciting day! I was a new pastor and I was going to baptize a young adult lady who had recently trusted Christ as Savior. This was to be my very first baptism. And, to make it even more exciting, this would be the first baptism for our small congregation in two years. I couldn’t wait for Sunday!

But, I had a big problem. Though the church had not baptized anyone in a couple of years, water had steadily dripped from the faucet which filled the baptistry. And, the baptistry was made out of sheet metal. Who makes a baptistry out of sheet metal? Sheet metal rusts! This had to be the work of a committee! The dripping faucet left the drain completely clogged and several inches of rusty water stagnating at the bottom.

I had to face this dilemma head on. On Saturday morning, Continue reading

Grow Up

Toddlers are cute when they are silly and immature. It is okay to be a baby– when you are a baby. But, when you act childishly as an adult, people want you to grow up! Certainly, God wants his children to grow up spiritually.

The Bible tells us frequently of our need to grow deeper in our faith. Hebrews 5:12 says, “Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles…” Hebrews 6:1 urges us to “go on to maturity”. You are a spiritual newborn when you trust Christ for salvation. But you are to learn, mature and deepen. You are to grow up.

Note a couple of keys to growing deeper in your faith and maturing in your spiritual life.

1. Growing up takes effort. Effort is involved in Continue reading

Thoughts on Politics

Here are some of my general thoughts on politics and the Christian. Maybe they will help you think clearly about this important, but divisive, subject.

1. Politics is a privilege. What a privilege it is for us to be able to speak, participate and vote. Freedom is a great gift and ought not be taken for granted. Many parts of our world have little freedom and those living in the United States (and other countries who enjoy these freedoms) should be grateful for this treasure. Christians should be at the forefront of participating in our political process and doing all we can to help our nation go in the right direction. And, remember on occasion to Continue reading

You Have A Gift

That’s right. You have a gift. Tell your mom I said so!

The Bible tells us that all believers are given spiritual gifts. These are more than our talents, more than our blessings and more than our opportunities. God has given you, if you know Jesus as Savior, abilities and perspectives that you can use to make an impact in the church and beyond.

There are three primary passages that list spiritual gifts– Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. These gifts show us ways God can use us, how God has saved us to be a blessing to others and how we fit into God’s family which the Bible calls “the body of Christ”.

Let me suggest two things we ought to do about these gifts from God. Continue reading

4 Lessons I Learned from a Dead Guy

Have you ever heard of a dead guy named John Mason Peck? He is largely forgotten now, but, as one our nation’s first Baptist church planters, “home” missionaries and the founder of one of the earliest colleges west of the Alleghenies (Rock Springs Seminary, 1827), he used to be famous.

I recently wrote a chapter on Peck (1789-1858) for a larger book on the History of North American Evangelism which will come out next year. I was reminded of Peck’s life and legacy. He came to St. Louis in 1817 where he started the wild frontier town’s first Baptist church and baptized new believers in the Mississippi River. Within a few year, Peck moved the center of his operations 18 miles to his farm in Rock Springs, IL where he lived until the end of his life. (Rock Springs is today part of O’Fallon, IL and Peck’s homesite is less than a mile from where I write this in my office at FBC, O’Fallon.)

In his forty years of ministry, Peck participated in the starting of 900 churches, helped to ordain 600 pastors, printed bibles by the score, wrote histories of the region and biographies of people like Daniel Boone and helped keep Illinois from changing its constitution to allow slavery. Oh, and he found time, when he wasn’t farming in order to feed his family, to start the aformentioned Rock Springs Seminary to train pastors and teachers.

Here are 4 lessons I learned from John Mason Peck.

1. A life of obedience leaves a lasting impact. The sheer number of churches Peck helped start seems overwhelming. His impact on so many churches and so many pastors and other believers is incredible. But any life, fully devoted to the Lord, can make a lasting difference in ways not always noticed at the time. Peck just obeyed the Lord for a long time and God used that obedience to impact the region and beyond.

2. God uses people we might not have picked. Peck had very limited education in his early years. He did not come from a wealthy family. He did not come to know the Lord as Savior until almost a grown man. He didn’t become a Baptist until after the birth of his first child. He did not verbalize a call to ministry and further his education until after that. In fact, almost nothing in his early years suggested he would become what he became–except his ever growing confidence in God.

3. Opposition comes but can be overcome. Peck was opposed by gamblers, thieves and infidels when he came to the West. But he was also opposed by other ministers, including fellow Baptists. Some distrusted those from the East or anyone with education. Some believed that missions was an attack on the sovereignty of God and they responded by personal attacks on Peck. The response of Peck was to stay faithful, keep preaching, print more bibles, start more churches and Sunday Schools and to disagree agreeably. Through much travail, Peck would see the kingdom of God expand.

4. God honors faith. Peck never had much money. There were chronic shortages in the churches he served. Problems of every sort abounded. But, through it all, Peck believed God was able to accomplish great things because he is a great God. He lived by faith and he found God to be faithful. God honored Peck’s faith by providing just what was needed, just when it was needed. Trusting God counts and God blesses faith.

I think about old John Mason Peck once in a while. After all, he spent most of his ministry in the same area where I’ve spent most of mine. And, I’m thankful that his life can still teach us today though his body was placed in a grave long ago.

Maybe God will teach you something today from a dead guy. I sure hope so!

7 Implications of Grace

Grace is God’s love given to us though we don’t deserve it. It means we are loved by God though we haven’t earned- and can’t earn- that love. Though we are sinners and don’t deserve God’s love, he sent his son, Jesus, into the world to live the perfect life we couldn’t live, to die the death that we deserved and to overcome sin and death on our behalf in the resurrection. Instead of giving us hell as we deserve, he gave us the opportunity to know his grace and forgiveness and life.

One way to think of grace is to use the acronym of GRACE. It is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. We get the riches of God- forgiveness, heaven, adoption into God’s family- because Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross.

But what does it mean for us in the here and now? What are the results of this evidence of God’s love we call grace?

Note these 7 implications of grace

1. Holiness matters to God. If sin doesn’t really matter, neither does grace. We don’t need grace if sin doesn’t damage. But sin always damages. It kills, steals and destroys. We need to be saved from the death sin brings. But even after salvation, grace is our reminder of how damaging sin is. Holiness will always matter to God and should, therefore, always matter to those of us who follow him. Grace should lead us to holy living as we see the cost of sin.

2. God’s love is deeper than man’s. Our love tends to run shallow. We love when it convenient or when it matches our feelings or when it is returned in the manner we wish. But God loves perfectly. He loves, period. It isn’t based on a whim or because we can give him so much in return or due to our great goodness. Understanding grace can lead us to have the kind of love that lasts through good and bad; thick and thin.

3. We obey God out of grace, not for grace. If we don’t get grace because we are good, why be good at all? There is a stronger motivation for believers to obey God than earning God’s love. God’s love given to us freely becomes that greater motivation. We want to obey the Lord because we know how much he loves us. Knowing this love motivates us to obedience. Our motivation is not fear of not being loved, but a desire to please the one who has already proven the greatness of love for us.

4. We can love people who are hard to love. How in the world can we love cranky co-workers and grumpy relatives? Even more, how do we love those who have wronged us or hurt us or wounded us? God’s grace, given undeservedly to us, is the only means I know by which we can love and forgive those who don’t deserve it from us. And, when we do, it speaks volumes to this world which so seldom sees love like that.

5. We matter deeply to God. Grace is the evidence of our value to God. We have inherent value because we are created in God’s image. But that image is marred by our sin and disobedience. Yet God has given a demonstration that he loves us still. The cross is that demonstration. Calvary is that evidence. Never doubt that you matter to the Lord. Remember the proof of that love shown in spilled blood and a broken body.

6. We need to be saved, not just reformed. You will never be able to reform your way to perfection. Grace reminds us that we have no way to reach perfection because we are already broken sinners. But, grace teaches us that we can be reborn into a new life. Jesus paid our debt and we can be saved from the power of sin and hell. Jesus already did the work. Our response is to repent of our sins, place our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection and receive him as our personal Savior and Lord. Have you truly done that?

7. God doesn’t give up on us. God doesn’t love you because you deserve it and he doesn’t stop loving you because you don’t deserve it. He doesn’t give up on you because of your missteps anymore than a mother gives up on her child after their first failing steps. No one wants you to succeed in life more than the Lord. No one wants you to grow into the person he intends you to be more than your Savior. Don’t give up on your future because God hasn’t.

Grace is an incredible truth. It is a supernatural truth. Learn from it and live it and grow in it.

Remember, God loves you!

Asking People to Do the Hard Things

One of the most important jobs of Christian leaders is to ask people to do the hard things they don’t want to do. We ask people to take the narrow, uphill road when it is easier to go down. We ask them to die to self when it is easier to live for self. We ask them to give, serve and sacrifice though none of those things come easily.

Following Jesus is not about taking the easy road. It is about doing the right thing even though that is often the more difficult thing. If we are asking people to follow Jesus, we are asking them to take the harder path.

There is a reason we ask people to do the hard things. Not only do we ask them to do it because it is right. But we also know it is in their best interest to do so. Continue reading