Fulfill Your Destiny!

“We are made for larger ends than Earth can encompass. Oh let us be true to our eternal destiny.” Catherine Booth This is the sixth and final blog post in a series wherein we look at six areas of concentration to focus on in 2016. This final area is perhaps the most important of all: Living out our destiny in Christ. As I age, I’ve become more and more dismayed by two tragedies. One is when young twenty- and thirty-somethings who were raised as Christians either depart from the faith entirely, or put Christ on the back burner of their life. The second tragedy is when I reconnect with friends from the past who are my age and who, like the young ones just mentioned, have also walked away from their destiny or set it aside for lesser things. What a waste. Really, a waste of happiness–the true happiness that […]

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Resist the Enemy!

“The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.” Corrie Ten Boom The fifth of six areas I’m paying more attention to in 2016 is recognizing and dealing quickly with distractions from the enemy of my soul. As Corrie says, it’s the first step to victory in my life…and yours. Therefore my “don’t” for the new year is: Don’t allow Satan even a foothold in 2016. A foothold such as a temptation to sin, a bad attitude, a root of bitterness, an evil imagination are all effective wedges Satan uses to open the door to wider engagement. None of us need that. It only stifles our spiritual life and can lead us back to the slavery we once knew before we were Christians. To engage effectively, we need to be aware of Satan’s designs. As Paul wrote: …we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we […]

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Out with the Flesh in 2016, In with the Spirit

“The flesh is a worse enemy than the devil himself.” Isaac Ambrose (1604-1664) This is the fourth in my series of six areas of life we (I) need to be mindful of as we enter 2016. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you know what I mean by “the flesh.” Let’s call it that part of us that refuses to submit to God, but wants to indulge itself, no matter what the consequences (and they are often severe consequences). As brother Isaac Ambrose said centuries ago, “the flesh is a worse enemy than the devil himself.” The apostle Paul put it this way: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18 ESV). Sound familiar? We want to do right, but […]

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Face the Future with Faith, Not Fear

This is the third in a series of six blogs for the new year in which we consider some challenges we all face as we live out our faith in 2106. First, we talked about not dragging guilt or shame into the new year, but embracing grace and forgiveness (including to ourselves). We next talked about believing prayer as opposed to living under the cloud of doubt. This time I want to continue talking about faith, but not as it relates to prayer. Instead, I want us to see faith as a better response than fear to the challenges of 2016 and beyond. Let’s face it. Most believing Christians are discerning of the times in which we live. We have some idea of what’s coming in the years ahead. We watch the news in amazement that so many people can’t seem to connect the dots with what’s happening and Bible […]

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Being Faith-full in 2016

“Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation” (Andrew Murray). This is the second of a six-part series identifying some areas most of us need to address as we begin the new year. My first admonition was: don’t drag guilt and shame into 2016

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Don’t Drag Guilt and Shame into 2016

Last Sunday I delivered the New Year’s message at church. I covered six areas that we should all deal with as we enter into 2016. I’ll try to cover each one in the next few days. I’ll introduce the first area by quoting that late great philosopher, Erma Bombeck, who reminded us that, “Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.” Some “gift,” huh? Guilt is such a waste of time and energy. Plus, it accomplishes nothing. The first don’t, then, for 2016 is: Don’t drag any guilt or shame from 2015 (or earlier) into the new year. Deal with it. Confess it and move on. You know as well as I do that the burden of condemnation for past sins we’re repented of comes only from the enemy whose goal is to distract us from our destiny in God. Don’t let him rob you of a single day of […]

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Rethinking the Past

This is not a time of year to be melancholy…I get that. But lately I’ve been thinking about some poor decisions I’ve made in the past and one in particular is starting to bother me (again). Never mind what it is. If you’re human, you likely have a few regrettable decisions in your past too. As the year draws to a close, I want very much to start 2016 with a sense of hope—a sense that all my past decisions, both bad and good, can be used by God to form the tapestry of a life happily lived. Yes, even the poor decisions we make can be redeemed by God. In fact, those are the decisions that most need to be redeemed. Rarely does God need to redeem our right decisions. I know all the clichéd responses to the way I feel: “Just give it to Jesus.” “Don’t let the […]

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“Walk Before Me”

A couple of months ago I retired from my full time editorial job. I did not, however, retire from writing and editing. In fact, I hope the extra hours will result in more writing on my blog—and more books. In addition to more time for writing, I also have more time for reading and study. Since it’s been a long time since I went through Genesis, that’s where I’m starting my new study time each morning. Along with my reading of Scripture, I have a few study tools by my side. One is Notes on the Pentateuch by C.H. Mackintosh (1820-1896), first published in 1880. In his commentary on Genesis 17, Mackintosh gives us the secret to a happy future…if we’ll just do life God’s way. The chapter opens with God speaking to Abraham: And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said […]

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Grace Notes #5

My past four posts (Grace Notes 1-4) have talked about some of the dangers I see in grace teaching today. But as I said early on, I love grace.  Today I want to post an interview with the awesome Bill Giovannetti, author of several wonderful books, including his latest, Grace Intervention. Bill is also pastor of Neighborhood Church in Redding, California. Bill’s website is here: www.pastorbillg.com Here we go! Nick:  Bill, as I remember your story, you were brought up in a Christian home….but was it also a home where you first understood grace as you now see it? Bill: I don’t remember being brought to church as part of a family; I was sent there. My dad drove me to a small Chicago church and dropped me off. He went out for a cup of coffee, donut, and newspaper, and then sat in the parking lot enjoying a smoke and […]

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Grace Notes #4

This is the fourth in a series on grace, focusing on some problems in the so-called hyper-grace movement. Thank God there are some fine grace teachers spreading the word about God’s infinite grace. This is not directed at them.  You might want to check out the first three posts on this timely topic starting with Grace Notes #1. Then, Grace Notes #2 and #3. When I was a boy, one of the daily cartoon shows I watched faithfully was Popeye the Sailor Man. (I can even still sing the song…and I know some of you can too). Popeye was utterly predictable and the end of the cartoon always included a spinach-driven resolution. Nevertheless, I loved it. One episode is especially memorable. Well, fuzzily memorable. Popeye was chasing Bluto (Popeye’s never-ceasing rival for the love of Olive Oyl) up a mountain road. Bluto was far enough ahead of Popeye that he could not be seen […]

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