Monday, March 26, 2012

Abiding in Christ's Love


I have death on my mind. No, I'm not suicidal, but thanks for your concern.  Over the past weeks I have attended two funerals.  One individual was a believer, the other a member of the Sikh faith.  One a celebration of life and a graduation ceremony, the other filled with mourning, sorrow, and rituals based on the lies of the Deceiver.

Solomon, the wisest of men, wrote in Ecclesiastes 7:2, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart."  The point he makes is that we all will die (unless the Lord returns soon).  For this reason I have death on my mind.

As I contemplate death the question arose, "If I knew I was to die soon, what would I want to say to those I love?"  I would want my wife to know how much I love her and appreciate her, how I am who I am today because of her love and support.  I would want my children to know how proud I am of their desire to love and serve the Lord.  I would want all of them to know how sorry I am for my failures and thankful for their forgiveness.  Above all, I would want them to continue to serve the Lord with all their heart.

As I read John 15, Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem (to die), and some of His final words to those He loved included this:
"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." [vv. 9-10].

The evidence that we are 'abiding in Christ's love' is that we keep His commandments.  When we consider all that God commands we are reminded of Christ's summary; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength; this is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend the WHOLE law and the prophets."  [Matthew 22:37-39 (Emphasis mine)]

Jesus instructs His disciples to live responsibly before God and with their fellow man right before hHe leaves this world.  Apparently this was some of His final instructions and therefore quite important.  Our vertical relationship with God is vital as is our horizontal relationship with others!!  If we love God it will show in how we relate to others.  Abiding in Christ's love is evident in our obedience to His commands, and He commands that we love one another.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Renewing Our Call to Unity


Do you remember reading the Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy tells Linus to change the tv channel to something she wants to watch?  When Linus asks her why, Lucy responds, "There are five reasons why.  Individually they may not be convincing but put together they are."  Linus later looks at his own hand and asks, "Why can't you guys ever work together like that?"

There are many reasons why the Church should work in unity.  Individually they may not be all that compelling, but collectively they create a very convincing appeal.

For the full message shared on 03-18-12 at the  First Church of God - Racine, WI go to:

(Due to technical difficulties I had to re-record this message in my office. Unfortunately this means the response of the congregation is missing as is some of the impromptu additions, but I pray the Spirit's message will still go forth and touch your heart.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cultivating Compassion

You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you are going down the first drop of a roller coaster. It’s the same feeling when you hear horrible news. Your stomach feels like it has just been kicked in. The New Testament has a Greek word for that feeling; it is "splagchna.” It literally means bowels or guts, but it is translated “Compassion.”  

Our word “Compassion” comes from two Latin words (com & pati); literally means “suffering with” others.  Some are especially gifted - able to identify with others.  Some in the church are especially gifted at praying, or sharing their faith. But we are all required to pray and share our faith, whether we are gifted at it or not. The same is true of compassion. We are all meant to cultivate compassion.

For the full message shared on 03-11-12 at the  First Church of God - Racine, WI go to:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Viral Faith

How would you feel if you were justly incarcerated, freed by the acts of a benefactor, but never told of the gift? Would you be frustrated, maybe even angered by information being withheld that would release you from bondage?  I know I would... but hold that thought.

What about salvation?  When Christians fail to share the truth of the Gospel with non-believers are we not doing the same?  Freedom from sin has been granted by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, yet the world remains incarcerated in sin because they often are not aware of the freedom available to them.

The responsibility now falls upon us to let this world know that they have been set free through Jesus Christ. If they will only accept him as their Savior and Lord, that freedom is theirs. But there is a problem. It is the greatest story that is never told. 

We need to recapture the passionate commitment of the first century church; we need to ignite the passion they demonstrated.  When they got the Great Commission word from Jesus, they believed with all their hearts that their primary reason for being here on earth was to go make disciples. We have to recapture that. When you look at this in the book of Acts, you see that the faith of the disciples, in today’s terminology, went “viral.”  The faith of these few went viral and began to spread everywhere.

For the full message shared on 03-04-12 at the  First Church of God - Racine, WI go to: