Archive | The Magnificent Christian Life

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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Grace Notes #3

This is the third in a series on grace, particularly in light of recent abuses of grace among some (not all) teachers. You can read Grace Notes #1 here and Grace Notes #2 here. Basically, the problem is that the way some are teaching grace, the result is that some hearers are interpreting grace as an invitation to return to their old life. It is grace as an enablement to sin, not a deterrent. Friends, we are under grace, but grace doesn’t mean we have no boundaries in our life. Like sheep prone to wander, God sets boundaries for each of us. These boundaries are like fences designed for our protection and are found in His Word. Within the boundaries proscribed for us by our heavenly Father we sheep find much luscious green grass, for His fields of grace are wide and plentiful. We may graze safely and joyously within these boundaries for our entire life. […]

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Grace Notes #2

This is the second in a short series on grace and problems with some aspects of the “hyper-grace movement.” Please know that not all who are teaching on grace are making this same serious error. There’s an old story about grace that goes something like this: A man dies and meets St. Peter at the gates of heaven. Peter tells the man, “In order to get into heaven you have to accumulate 100 points. So tell me on what basis should I allow you into heaven?” The man thought for a moment, then replied, “Well, I was a good husband and father. I never cheated on my taxes, and I was a faithful employee.” “Good,” said St. Peter. “That’s one point. Keep going.” Stymied at only receiving one point, the man thought back on his life and said, “I gave money to the poor and I was an elder at […]

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Grace Notes #1

I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s grace lately.  For that reason, I’m going to create a tab on my website to act as a permanent home for my thoughts about grace—along with perhaps a few interviews along the way.  I’ll call it Grace Notes. Why am I so interested in grace? Perhaps, because, like you, I’m so very much in need of it. But there’s also another reason it’s been on my mind. Some of my friends have been exposed to what’s been called “hyper-grace” teaching.  I don’t really like that term, though God’s grace toward us is indeed, “hyper.” John Newton referred to it as “Amazing Grace,” but I suppose “hyper” works just as well when one realizes the vastness and depth of God’s grace. In the words of one of my favorite hymns:  Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Grace […]

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Are We Low-Information Christians? Part 2

Yesterday I posted indications 1-5 you or I could be a low-information Christian. Today we look at indications 6-10. 6. We don’t rely on the Holy Spirit. I loved compiling my book His Victorious Indwelling, a book full of great messages from past Christian men and women on the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Though it’s formatted as a daily devotional, readers tell me they read entry after entry in one sitting. Those writers from the past knew the Holy Spirit intimately. But in our day, it’s easy to simply rely on our own strength—and ultimately fail. The Holy Spirit in us never fails.  7. We keep a part of ourselves from God. Recently on Facebook I posted this Andrew Murray quote: “The cause of the weakness of your Christian life is that you want to work it out partly, and to let God help you. […]

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Are We Low-Information Christians?

In this current election season, I’ve been hearing references to “low-information” voters. Apparently these are voters who pay little attention to the issues and just vote based on what little information they’ve heard from friends or from TV commercials. When I heard the phrase it prompted me to think about what I’m going to call “low-information Christians.”  I’m not necessarily using the phrase derogatorily.  There are many reasons why a person may be a low-information Christian. And in some respects, we’re ALL low-information Christians.  We never truly fathom all the riches we have in Christ. That’s what’s so magnificent about the Christian life–there’s always more to discover.  So it’s not wrong to be a low-information Christian, but I do believe it’s wrong to stay a low-information Christian.  We must grow or we become stagnant and die. In this two-part post, the second half of which will appear tomorrow, I’ve identified […]

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A Dozen Random Thoughts About Sin

Today I feel like offering a reminder to us all—me included—about the disastrous nature of sin. Here then are a dozen things we all need to remember about sin and its designs on us. I’m working on an outline for what I hope will be my best book yet, The Magnificent Christian Life. In that book I’ll amplify all these points. Until then, I hope this shorthand version will be helpful. 1. Sin hurts us both short-term and long-term. We usually don’t see that when we’re tempted. It’s only later that the sad effects sting us. 2. Every Christian is a delivered Christian. We have been (not will be) delivered from the power of sin.  Read Romans 6. 3. We must carry our deliverance (and freedom) from sin with us 24/7.  Temptation comes at the oddest times. We must always walk securely in our freedom from sin’s power. 4. Always remember: […]

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