Giving In

Posted by on May 31, 2009 under Sermons

Explanation of the four parts:

  1. Giving In is how we share and contribute to the body of Christ. We give in, meaning that we share what we have internally to the community of believers. Understanding what it means to truly have all things in common.
  2. Giving Out is how we share with those outside the body of Christ. We give out meaning that we share what we have with the outsider, the alien and the stranger.
  3. Giving Up is how we share all that we have with God. We give up meaning that we perceive all giving as sharing what God has already shared with us.
  4. Giving Away is how we share something that is not ours to control, to sell, or to hoard – the gospel of Christ.

Giving In

Let’s be visionary. What will heaven’s economy look like? What will finances look like in the world to come? We probably do not tend to think of those very common categories of life in the world that is to come. And yet, Jesus teaches us very plainly to store up treasures in heaven. Notice that he is using the language of economy and finances to describe the world that is to come.

I think it is safe to assume that finances and economy are going to be radically different in the new heaven and earth. This radical change ought to cause us to take another look at how we view economy and finances in the now.

Do we have any clue as to what it will be like? God’s people (Israel and the Church) have always been a community that is living like heaven is here and now. In Acts 2:42-47 the church is described in this way …

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

This is a glimpse of what it will be like in the new heaven and new earth. This is very much beyond any statement on economic policies (i.e., communism vs capitalism). This is the outgrowth of life in the Holy Spirit. This is the future kingdom of God seeping in present.

What is the economics of the kingdom of God? To put it another way, what happens to “stuff” in the kingdom of God? Well it is all about fellowship. There is radical sharing, feasting, celebrating. There’s no buying, selling, loaning and saving. Is that possible? Well it was then and I would say that we have seen glimpses of this over the ages. In fact the only things that hinder us from being radical about “giving in” is the brokenness, sinfulness, and unredeemed nature of the world. For instance, we might think, well its fine to share with one another but what about those who would take advantage of that? That’s a problem now (but the one who would take advantage of generosity doesn’t have the Spirit of God). We can still, even now, experience what is to come even if everything isn’t perfect.

How shall we practice using our stuff and spending our money for the future of God’s kingdom?

  1. Let’s put aside notions of doing good deeds and investing in God so that we get a good spot in heaven. We don’t buy our way into the kingdom of heaven. Our place in God’s Kingdom has been purchased by another. And it came with a bonus gift! The Holy Spirit! So let’s put this spirit into practice.
  2. Giving In means having the Inclination to give. In Acts 2, the believers were filled with awe. They had glad and sincere hearts. No one had to tell them to give, they just did. They understood how Christ changed everything, including their economy.
    • Too often say that one of the things that effects our ability to give is “the economy.” Who’s economy? We encourage one another to be different morally, why not economically? Who’s economy are we invested in? Notice that in Acts that they do not pull their money out of the banks and run off to live in caves. But they do participate in earthly economy with a vision beyond Dow Jones. Why can’t we? Let’s try and develop the inclination to Give In by paying attention to our economy as it relates to God’s Economy.
    • Notice that in Acts 2 all this Giving In results in God adding to the church those who were being saved. Do we really believe that God controls the borders of his kingdom? God is entrusting those who seek him to churches that have learned how to Give In and share. Imagine a soul seeking God. When this soul finds God and has a relationship with Christ and receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, God will add him or her to a fellowship of believers. God can add him or her to any group of his people that he chooses. God set up the appointment between Peter and Cornelius. It did not have to be Peter. God had his reasons that it was. Let’s be the community that God trusts by developing the inclination to Give In.
  3. Giving In means being Intentional about giving. The Inclination is not enough. It has to become action. Practicing means doing.
    • The tithe is the way to get intentional about this. Texts like Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy 14 spell out intentional ways of giving. It would be a mistake to read these texts legalistically. Tithe simply means tenth. To think of it as a maximum or minimum is to miss the point. It is a means of being intentional about the way we give. Let’s more attention to what was done with it.
    • The use of the tithes in Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy 14 were for three things: Supporting the Levites and the worship is Israel, fellowship feasting and worship, and caring for the poor.
    • Notice that most of these functions are Giving In. They are supporting the development of their culture and sharing with one another. The description may not be as visionary as Acts 2, but it is still a glimpse of how we use our stuff for kingdom purposes.
    • West-Ark has made some intentional decisions about the ways we give in. We all benefit from that. I was noticing how my family and I were blessed by that just this weekend …

When inclination and intention combine and we grow in our practice of Giving In, can you imagine what we might be able to do? The good news is that we have the funds and resources to do anything we might imagine. The bad news is that it is in your wallet. Now let’s try and change that bad news to good news and start practicing the economics of the age to come …

So What?

  1. How do you use your stuff? Do you plan your spending? Are you intentional?
  2. Some of us can look over our spending and spend less on self so that we can give more. Let’s have the inclination and get intentional.
  3. Some of us cannot give more because we in debt or other financial stress. How would you like to get out of debt’s economy? Do you have the inclination to give? Then get intentional. Let’s encourage one another in that. Let’s build the sort of momentum that allows us to give in.
  4. Some of us just cannot give more at all and may have to give less. But do you have the inclination to give? Then what can you be intentional about giving? I have heard that the poorest in a certain African church would put their hand in the offering tray. This was there way of giving themselves. The Levites had no inheritance, but they gave God their service for the sake of God’s people.

Let’s show the world what the kingdom of God looks like.

A New Champion

Posted by on May 24, 2009 under Sermons

Editorial Issues – 1 Samuel 16-17

Chapter 17

Emphasis on King

Chapter 16

Emphasis on God’s Spirit

  1. Did Saul meet David twice?
      Did he forget? Mental Illness?
  2. 16 and 17 are not chronology
  3. Reports with different emphases
      They are each complete reports, possibly from different sources with different emphases (i.e., four Gospels). They were later collected into one book.

1 Samuel 16

  • Emphasis on the Spirit
  • Spirit and Anointing
  • Holy Spirit empowerment or tormenting spirit
  • What does the text mean by spirits?
  • God ministers to Saul thru David

    A city in the territory of Judah, 6 miles south of Jerusalem, possibly mentioned in the El Amarna letters. In the Bible it appears first in connection with Rachel’s death and her burial ?in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem’ (Genesis 35:19). It was also the scene of the story of Ruth (Ruth 4:13, 22) in the period of the Judges, Bethlehem was the birthplace of David, and the place of his anointing by Samuel (1 Samuel 1 ff.). Negev, A. (1996, c1990). The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land (3rd ed.). New York: Prentice Hall Press.

1 Samuel 17

  • Emphasis on King
  • Who acts like the King?
  • Faith in God
  • Battle of Champions

David vs Goliath

  • David of Bethlehem
  • Youth
  • Armor
    – Rejected
  • No sword
  • Stick and sling
  • Goliath of Gath
  • 9′ 9″ Veteran
  • Bronze Armor
    – (Weighing over 125 lbs)
  • Javelin and Spear
    – (15 lb head)

God’s Champion

  • David’s faith is contagious
  • Israel routes Philistines
  • Saul recruits David
    – 1 Samuel 14:52
  • David’s leadership is resisted by Saul
  • David is God’s Leader

Have You Caught Any Fish?

Posted by on under Sermons

Read John 21

John 21 is the extra scene after the end credits. It stages for what comes next. The last scene is just the beginning for the future.

Jesus appears and asks a question that is layered with meaning “Have you caught any fish?”

Why are they fishing?

Peter leads them. They all follow to the boat and fish all night for nothing. Notice who is at the top of the list after Simon Peter? Thomas and Nathanael. Remember them?

  • Nathanael was the one who was skeptical when his brother Phillip brought him to Jesus. But Jesus impressed him and promised him that he would see greater things – and he did.
  • Thomas doubted too. He demanded to see the scars. He saw them and touched the wound in Jesus’ side. He saw greater things too.

Why are they fishing? Fishing:

  • It means back to work, back to mediocrity, back to normal and okay.
  • How could they return to fishing after what just happened? Previously they had seen Jesus appear in a locked room. He gave them peace and sent them as the father sent him. A week after that Thomas himself witnessed the scars and the wounded side and believed.
  • Did they forget? Did they forget what they saw? Did they forget what they witnessed? Did they forget that they were sent?

Around the Fire:

  • Notice that when Jesus meets them on the shore with breakfast (the start of a new day) he is sitting around a charcoal fire.
  • The only other mention of a charcoal fire is when Peter warms himself around a charcoal fire during Jesus’ arrest and trial. (Compare John 18:18 – My thanks to Richard Hayes for this observation: see Preaching John’s Gospel: The World It Imagines (Chalice Press, 2008))
  • There had to be unresolved tension that day Jesus appeared in the locked room. Sins were forgiven, but that wasn’t the end of it. Peter had denied Christ and in doing so had denied himself.
  • He was so confident that he would be right by Jesus’ side and he failed. He denied that he was a disciple – with both words and actions.
  • He probably didn’t expect the opportunity to speak to Jesus ever again about this. If we can grant him the first and second resurrection appearances to manage the surprise over the resurrection and forgiveness, this third appearance is the time for Peter to become the sort of fisherman he really needs to be …

  • Forgiveness is the path that leads to love. Jesus brings Peter to the charcoal fire and shares a meal of fish of bread.
  • There’s pain in this moment. The pain of hurt and betrayal. The pain of disappointment. The pain of failure. But Jesus has endured all of that pain and he can endure the pain with Peter as he asks him not just once or twice, but three times – “Do You Love Me?”

Feed the Lambs:

  • It’s not that Jesus doesn’t know the answer. It’s Peter who needs to know. It’s Peter who needs to hear Jesus invest confidence in Peter three times: Feed my lambs.
  • Jesus is putting Peter back on the path. It won’t be easy, but Peter will glorify God because he will follow Jesus.

Have we caught any fish?

  • What sort of fishing takes up our time?
  • The sort of fishing that represents mediocrity, back to normal, just simply working and living.
  • Can we really say that we are fishing for disciples?
  • It’s time for us to gather around the fire and endure the pain of anything unresolved.
  • Forgiveness is just the start. Now we need to:
    1. Express our love for Christ. Even when it is painful and it seems like we are being tested rather than trusted.
    2. Feed the lambs – Spiritual formation and nurturing disciples is not just indoctrination. It begins with love for Christ. Teaching people how to live.
      • Jesus has sheep who are not of this flock. Notice that Jesus never gives up ownership of the lambs. “MY” lambs.
      • Jesus has entrusted the care and feeding of these lambs to us.
      • And our thinking is too small if we think that is limited to “our membership.”
      • Jesus has lambs that he cares about “out there” and he has asked us to feed them.
    3. Cast our nets on the other side. – So let’s go fishing, but not for ourselves.
      • Perhaps we’ve been busy fishing the wrong way. We’ve limited the gospel and evangelism to our techniques. The method is not the mission.
      • We are more interested in how the catch will sustain us rather than how it glorifies God.
      • We are giving too much attention to our own interests. (Jesus asks Peter: Do you love me most of all?) We can get so anxious about a number of things that really don’t have to do with gospel and evangelism. Worry, fear, unresolved matters get in the way.
        • As a congregation – Let’s be careful that resources, nostalgia, and techniques (old or new) do not become a stand-in for fishing.
        • As individuals – Let’s beware of justifying our own interests. Peter denied Christ in word and deed. Jesus restored him by word and deed. Now consider your words and your deeds.

Have we caught any fish? Do we love Jesus?
Have you caught any fish? Do you love Jesus?

Our answer to these questions shapes the way the story goes from here on out. “Jesus also did many other things.” Will he do many other things among us? The sermon is yours …

A Changeless God in a Changeable World

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

On Monday of this week, Brian Perkins forwarded me a story sent to him by one of his Iraqi interpreters who served with him. My immediate thought was how much our world has shrunk since my family and I were in West Africa (1970-74). Then the best we could do was send an aerogram (an air mail letter of one sheet limited to a page and a quarter of writing). If someone in our group was going to the airport (80 miles away, over 4 hours of driving time one way), the letter would reach the USA in three weeks. If the recipient replied immediately, we could hear from the USA recipient in 6 weeks. There were two telephones in our population area of 50,000 people. However, we would not dare call-the connection (routed through Europe) broke too often.

Now with a hand-carried computer and an e-mail address, one can be in contact anywhere in the world (with color pictures and sound as well as dialogue) in a matter of seconds. What a change in much less than 50 years!

Things can be communicated so fast today that it is a challenge for most older people to cope, and a challenge for most young people to imagine how things were. That which is “current” is out-of-date in a finger’s snap. Most everything that “was” has been made ancient by what “is.” Often the challenge is to know what changed this week!

God does not change! The more we try to outdate His values, the bigger the mess we make of individual existence, human relationships, and the value of human life. For examples, depression constantly grows, commitment in marriage dwindles, and people are destructively used to satisfy someone’s sense of convenience. Perhaps the biggest shock of all is found in the fact that many people do not understand why such things happen.

James focused on three things: (1) God is the source of good; (2) God does not change (He does not need to change); and (3) God wants to bless us. Consider three questions: (1) Do you understand God will work with you to make life meaningful? (2) Do you understand God does not change His values? (3) Is your hope in God?

Vows and Victory

Posted by on May 17, 2009 under Sermons


  • Saul is camped with 600 in Gibeah
  • Jonathan and armor bearer initiate action.

    When the Israelites of the Exodus paused before their territory, the Ammonites prohibited them from passing through their lands. For this act, they were denied entry into “the congregation of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 23:3
    Attacks by the Ammonites on Israelite communities east of the Jordan were the impetus behind the unification of the tribes under Saul, who defeated them.
    From II Samuel 10:2, it may be concluded that Nahash assisted David out of hatred for Saul; but his son Hanun provoked David by ill-treating his ambassadors, and brought about the defeat of the Ammonites, despite assistance from their northern neighbors in Aram. Their capital Rabbah was captured, and numerous captives were taken from “all the cities of the children of Ammon.”

You and Who’s Army?

  • Trust in God
  • Two Options
    1. Wait – Don’t fight
    2. Come up here – Fight

The Battle of Michmash

    Seven days to determine if Israel is going to be saved

  • Jonathan breaks Saul’s vow
  • God is silent (14:37-38)
  • Is this because Jonathan sinned?
  • Is this because Saul’s vow was inappropriate?
  • Who sinned?

The Battle of Amalek

  • Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” – Exodus 17:14
  1. Saul takes spoils of war
    • Provision vs Plunder
  2. Samuel confronts Saul
  3. Saul repents
  4. Saul loses his dynasty
  5. Obedience vs Sacrifice


Posted by on under Sermons

William Bridges would seem to be an expert on transitions. He wrote a book about transitions titled, Transitions. Transitions involve endings, neutral zone, beginnings. How do we navigate transitions with our faith?

Read John 20:11-18.

This story is about a lot of things. It is a transition.
I have always wondered why Jesus seems so rude toward poor disoriented Mary. Does he think himself too good now?

This isn’t about Jesus. It is about Mary.

  • Focus on 20:17
  • Do not cling to me. Do not hold on to me. (Let me go)
  • BUT – you go find my brothers and tell them “I am ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God.
  • Mary has to let go because she has a mission. She is sent by Christ
    • She wants to hold on to Jesus as she knows him. As long as she is holding on and won’t let go then she cannot be sent on the mission.
    • She wants to hang on to Jesus, her Rabbi, but he is returning to His Father, and now he can say, her father and her God too.
  • Recall in 14:12 – When Jesus is with his Father, we will be able to do even greater works.
  1. Transitions will happen.
    • No one is making it happen. No one is forcing it. God and the universe have not conspired against you. Things change. We change. Others change. (This too shall pass)
    • Some of it is good. Some of it isn’t. Some of it just is.
    • What was isn’t necessarily bad, but it cannot always be. It ends. [There was nothing wrong with Jesus as Mary’s rabbi – but that came to an end. Mary has to let go of it.]
    • What is soon to be might be good, better, or worse. But it begins.
    • Transitions are all around us: The events of today. The experiences of our nation. The experiences of this church. The inappropriate responses are fear, worry, anger, and even nostalgia.
    • What truly matters is that we follow Christ through the ending, the in-between, and the new beginning.
  2. Letting Go and Going Out
    • Holding on to that which has ended keeps us from moving into the mission of God.
    • What is it that we are holding on to and won’t let go?
    • A grievance, conflict, unresolved past, sin, nostalgia, comfort, control, expectations preferences, age, familiarity?
    • It might be something really important, but we have to let it go to get to the new beginning.
    • And letting go doesn’t despise what was. It can honor it.
  3. What’s Our Mission? What is Your Mission?
    • If your faith ends here. If these were your best days, then where’s your mission? If this was the best then what was it for? Did it matter? Did the teaching and care and confidence we invest in you matter?

Grace: Understanding Salvation

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

The occasion of the above reading involved a strong disagreement among Jewish Christians about the need for gentile converts to accept Jewish practices. Many Christian Jews thought that if a gentile converted first to Judaism, then the gentile was “qualified” to convert also to Jesus Christ. After all, most gentiles knew only idolatry, not the living God the Jewish people knew. Many gentiles had terrible concepts about divinity-the Jews thought they could destroy those terrible concepts and prepare gentiles for having the lives they should live.

Interestingly, the disagreement 2,000 years ago is very similar to our disagreement today: What is the foundation of salvation? Is the foundation our acts or God’s acts? The primary difference in their discussion and ours was (is) this: their discussion focused on background and our discussion usually focuses on the necessity of obedience.

Peter said to them and would say to us, “Your concerns miss the point!” Salvation is able to exist because of what God did in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Any human response to what God did is just that-a response, not a foundation. Faithless salvation does not exist: the person must place total confidence in what God did in Jesus’ death and resurrection. That is the foundation of salvation: the foundation of forgiveness, of sanctification, of redemption, of righteousness. That is God propitiating for our failures.

Every act of obedience is merely a response to what God did in Jesus. Obedience is a huge, believing, “thank you” to God that declares appreciation to God for what He did for us. Obedience is not a “question mark” or an unbelieving manipulation (“I did the right acts so You, God, have to save me!”) Human acts can never manipulate God!

“Thank you, God, for not making our salvation dependent on a human’s or group of humans’ approval. Our hope is in what You did for us, not in what we do.”

The Lord Saves Israel

Posted by on May 10, 2009 under Sermons


  • Deuteronomy 23:3
  • Refused Israel passage during the Exodus

    When the Israelites of the Exodus paused before their territory, the Ammonites prohibited them from passing through their lands. For this act, they were denied entry into “the congregation of the Lord.” – Deut. 23:3
    Attacks by the Ammonites on Israelite communities east of the Jordan were the impetus behind the unification of the tribes under Saul, who defeated them.
    From Samuel II 10:2, it may be concluded that Nahash assisted David out of hatred for Saul; but his son Hanun provoked David by ill-treating his ambassadors, and brought about the defeat of the Ammonites, despite assistance from their northern neighbors in Aram. Their capital Rabbah was captured, and numerous captives were taken from “all the cities of the children of Ammon.”


  • The Snake
  • Especially cruel
  • Gouges out right eyes
    – Debilitating
    – Humiliating


  • Refused to muster in Judges 21:8-9
  • Gives Jabesh a choice – lose your eye or die!
  • Jabesh gets 7 days
    Seven days to determine if Israel is going to be saved

Who Will Save Israel?

  • v. 3 – If there is no one to save us
  • v. 9 – You shall have deliverance
  • v. 13- The Lord has worked deliverance in Israel

Savior Saul

  1. Saul is outraged by the oppression and humiliation
  2. Saul is consumed with the Spirit of God
  3. God empowers Saul to rescue Israel

    He’s farmer Saul to begin with.
    He has compassion on his critics.

Samuel’s Farewell

  • God is witness
  • Now you have a king
  • Who saved you?
  • You and your king do right

Holy War – 1 Samuel 13

  • Saul musters Israel to go against Philistia
  • The troops are going AWOL
  • Saul does not show trust (offers sacrifice)
  • The dynasty will go to another

At the Cross

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Read John 19:16b-30.

So here’s Jesus, Mary, the Beloved Disciple, at the cross. Why is Jesus saying this at the cross? Is this his last will and testament? Is this the final request of a dying man? Did he just happen to remember that someone needs to take care of mother? Recall everything Jesus has said before …

  • Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (15:13-14)

At the cross, Jesus is calling on his disciples to have the same sort of friendship that he had for them

  • He is asking the disciple to give his life for Mary – to care for her as his mother
  • He is asking Mary to give her life for the disciple – to regard him as her own son
  • This is new relationship in Christ.
  • Sentimentality, tradition, and/or nature might lead to a mother giving her life for a child. It might lead to a child giving his life for his own mother. But at the cross, we go beyond all of that. We have resources that the rest of the world doesn’t have … at the cross.

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. (16:20)
Today the rest of the world is celebrating the cherished concept of motherhood. The rest of the world is giving flowers to mom, the rest of the world is going to take mom out to eat, the rest of the world is giving mom a card that says just the right thing, the rest of the world is serving mom breakfast in bed. We can do what the rest of the world does. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s nice. It’s kind.

But we are also a people who know what it means to stand at the cross. We are a people who begin worship not in the filtered glow of a Hallmark Mother’s Day ad. Our worship is not just a sentimental embrace of the traditional ideas our culture cherishes.
We can do more than take our own sentimental values and ask heaven to sprinkle magic Bible dust on it.
We take our most cherished traditional ideas like motherhood, fatherhood, childhood, family and we place them in the shadow of the cross and the light of Christ reveals more than we can imagine.

At the cross … We have been given a message and resources that the rest of the world just doesn’t have. What the rest of the world cannot do very well, especially at a time like this, is name the pain and shame that is very real … realities the rest of the world would prefer to forget …

  • The loss of a mother
  • The mother who has lost a child
  • The woman who cannot have a child
  • The mother and child that are separated
  • The mother who never was much of a mother at all

Can I say this? Can we talk about this? Church we have to! We must! We are the people who dare to stand at the cross.

At the cross … We stand boldly in the presence of pain or shame and name it.
At the cross … Jesus is speaking in the presence of the shame and pain.
At the cross … Pain gives way to new life and shame is changed to new hope.
At the cross … Relationships are created that cannot be created anywhere else.
At the cross … A woman who is losing her son gains a new family.
At the cross … A disciple who is losing his teacher becomes a son.
At the cross … Your shame may be covered over by the blood of Jesus.
At the cross … Your pain and sorrow has been heard by the crucified one. He will not turn against you.

Mary, the Beloved Disciple, and the other women are going to worship soon. They will lead the worship. Peter who betrayed Christ will be there too, but he will not lead the worship. Thomas who doubted will be there, but he will not lead the worship. Judas will not even be there. The ones who will lead the worship will be those who stood at the cross and feared that their pain and grief would overwhelm them. They are the ones who heard every word he said – at the cross.
Can we worship with them – at the cross? Psalm 22 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. (16:20)

God Is the Foundation of Salvation

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

Paul’s situation for writing those words focused on Jew and gentile (any non-Jew from any nation) relationships. Paul’s point: any gentile placing trust in God through Christ was loved by God as much as any Jewish person placing trust in God through Christ. There are no superior and inferior Christians. The key is not “where you came from,” but “do you place your trust in what God did in Jesus Christ.” Faith in Christ is the key to salvation, not lineage. Superiority attitudes have no place in coming to God through Christ. All who trust God’s work in Christ are important.

In the salvation concept, Paul made these statements: Salvation is the direct result of God’s attitude toward people. Salvation exists because of God’s incredible kindness. It is God’s gift, not a human achievement. Salvation’s firm foundation rests on what God did in Jesus Christ. It is not the result of a human act or activity. Human acts are not salvation’s foundation. Always, it is God, not us.

People believe Jesus Christ is an act of God [not a fortunate happening], and respond to what God does in Jesus Christ. Why? They trust God’s work in Jesus. How? They become crafted by God. They are willing to be God-made in Christ. How do they show this? Believers spend their lives learning what God’s good works are, and doing those works. Why? (1) They believe God was at work in Jesus. (2) They are God’s craftsmanship. (3) Christians are God-designed to do God’s good works.

Recently I listened to godly people in Christ share heart views. Their concerns in Jesus Christ are genuine. Their dedication to doing God’s good work in Christ is heartfelt. They totally believe in Jesus. They agree a person must come to Christ. They agree the foundation of everything is confidence in God’s work in Christ. They agree on the importance and roles of repentance and baptism. They agree on transformation in Christ. They agree on passionate devotion to God’s good works. However, they often differ on how to implement passionate devotion to Christ.

We live in complex times in a complex world and a complex society. The result: complex lives, relationships, and needs. Only by God’s grace can salvation exist! Salvation is not founded on our agreement, but God’s kindness! Thank you, God!