Avoiding Blind Spots

Blind spots. I hate them in my cars. They cause accidents. They scare the livin’ daylights out of me. I hate them even more in my life. The problem of blind spots in life are two-fold – 1) I resist what it takes to remove them because 2) I create them!

Image result for the bible and blind spots


Jeremiah 17:9  “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?


No one really likes talking about sin. It makes everyone squirm. As a pastor, I squirm because I really don’t enjoy heaping guilt on others. I also hate feeling like I have put myself above others. It makes the people in the pew squirm. They squirm because they wonder if I am talking about them, or they squirm because they think others will believe I am talking about them. Yet, the Bible reveals that there is an important reason that it talks about sin – we are masters of self-justification. God warns in Jeremiah that we have a deep problem with good and evil: our hearts lie to us. In today’s world we call the lying of our heart self-justification.

Do we really practice self-justification? If you (like me) have ever held onto your anger and said that you had a right to be mean to someone because they were mean to you, you have practiced self-justification. It’s self-justification because we all would say that if everyone lived like that life would be unbearable. We justify it because we say we are entitled or we say that our anger is not that big of a deal. The problem with that perspective is everyone could justify themselves in the same way. Suddenly, we have everyone holding onto their anger because that is just what we do. Thus, Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” instead of “Do to others before they do to you.”

What does the Bible do for us? The Bible fully applied takes apart our self-justification. It is objective. It doesn’t change. It is honest about who and what we are. When we read Jesus’ application of the Old Testament law, all our justifications of anger, lust, coveting, gossip, and selfishness are challenged. (see Matthew 5:21-48) Jesus points out how even sins of our heart destroy what God has designed for us.

So, what should we do? Should we run from the Bible so we can’t see our sin? That sounds like the emperor in the parable ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. He didn’t want to admit that he couldn’t see the clothes, and so everyone saw his mistake (his nakedness). Should we (as some do) explain away what the Bible says? Well, since the Bible is true it becomes a bit like denying gravity. It doesn’t matter how much you deny it, sin (like gravity) is still there.

No, we shouldn’t avoid what the Bible says. We also shouldn’t try to explain away what the Bible says. Instead we should let the Bible speak to our lives. We should (even when it makes us squirm) let it shine light on our motives and teach us. Then we should look at Jesus to discover who we should be like. Paul says that is what the Old Testament law is for. (See Galatians 3:19-28) It is to show us our need for Jesus. Its purpose is to point to Jesus as the example and source of righteousness. It urges us to trust Him, follow Him, and embrace His heart as our own. If we ignore it or attempt to talk ourselves out of it, we subvert its purpose.

The next time you and I feel conviction when reading or hearing the Scripture, let’s not run from it. Let’s instead run to the Jesus that it points us to. Let’s accept its evaluation of our attitudes and motives. Then, let’s chase after the Savior’s heart.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains in Romans 1 that this dismantling of purity is a symptom of humanity’s rejection of God. It is past time that those who follow Jesus make purity a priority.

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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Living by Grace Protects Us

As a Christian, I am very familiar with being saved by grace. The question I often have, though, is, “Do I live by grace?” Have you asked that question of yourself lately?

Paul says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)


I am saved by grace. But Paul confronts the Galatians church in Galatians 3 with these words: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 1:3) So, there is more to learn here. It isn’t just the beginning of my relationship with God that needs grace. It is my whole relationship with Him that must be based upon grace.

Why is this? It is because of what living by grace protects us from. Consider the following…

1. Living by grace protects me from the temptation to boast about how far I’ve come. It is so easy for us to forget that it is by His power and His working in us that we grow and change. Living by rules props us up on the legs of false success. We think about how much we’ve done instead of how much He is always doing. We get the glory and we sound foolish. Living by grace prevents that.

2. Living by grace protects me from creating artificial rules of conduct that I can then manipulate to make myself feel superior to others. We like rules because we can manipulate them. God consistently invites us to “come up higher.” Think about the 10 commandments. Even they can be manipulated. Jesus met a man who had done just that. The man claimed that he kept the commandments. So, Jesus told him that he just needed to do one thing to get eternal life: sell all that he had and follow Jesus! You would think that a man who had followed the 10 commandments would be ready to follow the Messiah anywhere. He wasn’t. The commandments didn’t get him ready for God’s call. He went away sad because he had much wealth. Following the rules doesn’t guarantee a changed heart!

3. Living by grace protects me from self-condemnation when I struggle or fail. The name ‘Satan’ means accuser or opposer. Over and over in the Scripture we see Satan doing just that. He accused Job of being God’s “fair weather” follower. Jesus warned Peter that Satan wanted to “sift him like wheat.” Peter says that Satan “prowls like a ravenous lion seeking someone he can devour.” So, why would we be surprised that Satan would use our failures to make us think that God can’t possibly love or use us when we fail? And he doesn’t have to work very hard to do so because we are willing tools in the accusation. Living by grace reminds us that God isn’t keeping score. He just wants to redeem us. He longs for the prodigal to start again.

4. Living by grace puts the focus and glory right where it should be – on the God who loves me more than I deserve! Living by the law makes me focus on what I do or don’t do. That isn’t where the focus is supposed to be. Grace puts it back on God. Following Him becomes about knowing the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. I want to know Him because of how He acts toward me. What a place to be!

Are you living by grace? Don’t settle for less. Live with Jesus by grace. That relationship is worth throwing yourself into!

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?

When we think about fools, we usually think about those sophomoric characters in buddy movies. However, God has a different description – too wise for their own good. When we think we are wise without God, we are in danger. We are in danger of giving up what is real for a fantasy of our own creation. Such fantasies are never good for us. They cannot save.

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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When We Are Asked…

I have noticed that questions are effective tools for getting some one to talk. Questions (especially open ended ones) invite people to give their opinions or share their experiences. Questions also make people think. When thinking happens amazing things are the result.


Matthew 16:13 13  Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”


Jesus sat with the disciples and asked them this question. The disciples like this question at first. They like giving the answer based upon what others have said about Jesus. They point out that the crowd is a bit confused about who Jesus is. The speculation is quite fanciful. Some say Jesus is Elijah or another famous prophet or even John the Baptist come back from the dead. However, when Jesus asks them who they say that He is, the speculation and opinions cease. Only one voice is raised in response. It is Peter’s voice. He declares that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

As faith-filled Peter’s response is, my attention turns to the other disciples. I wonder some things about them. Why no chorus of responses like earlier? Were they nervous? Did they sit there fidgeting like a sixth grade Sunday School class that didn’t want to get the answer wrong? Were they dumbfounded that they had not stopped to consider the question themselves? Did they all nod enthusiastically with Peter’s answer hoping he was right? We don’t know. The text doesn’t say.

What the text does say is Jesus’ question and Peter’s response. When we are asked, are we ready to respond? To you, who is Jesus? Are you itching to jump up like Peter and risk to tell your answer? Are you still mulling it over? Are you a bit embarrassed because you don’t yet have a clear answer to the question? It’s time, isn’t it, for us to have our answer? It’s time for us to step out confidently in our answer.

My answer: Jesus is my Messiah (Savior). I need Him! I will follow Him!

What’s yours?

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God

As we think about the suppression of truth, we might think of folks with agendas who are trying to influence how people think. We might think of Facebook, Twitter, or the media. Most of us don’t realize that such influencing started much earlier in our history. It started when mankind thought that honoring and thanking God as the good God that He is was just not necessary. What happens when we don’t give glory to God as God? Someone else is put in His place!

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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Why Do I Believe?

I think about this question from time to time. These are not new thoughts, but I really do think that it does us good to be reminded why we first believed in Jesus. If you don’t believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world you should consider why you don’t. We don’t really believe or reject Jesus because of the usual suspects: hypocrites. We believe or reject because of a much more basic reason: Jesus.


Matthew 27:22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”


When Pilate asked the crowd what he should do with Jesus, he was seeking a way out of his responsibility.  He did not realize he was asking THE question.  In our day of blogger philosophy and face-book arguments and twitter one liners we might start believing that all that noise is what it is really about.  All the questions about, “How could a good God….” and, “Why would a loving God…” seem to be so relevant.  All the criticisms about the failures of believers seem to mean so much. It is easy to get caught up in trying to answer every question. However, when it comes to believing in Jesus, that isn’t the point.

Now, if you and I have a relationship with someone and they have these questions I certainly think that we should work through them.  But, when it comes to trusting in Jesus – answering those questions didn’t make you believe, did they?  It wasn’t some philosophical argument that convinced you.  It wasn’t some pithy answer about suffering or sin that won you over.  What won you over was Jesus. You were won over by His teaching, His love, or His sacrifice.  It was these things that drew you to Him.

I want that to be my message to others. I am so tempted to get pulled into philosophical arguments about Jesus. However, I didn’t believe in Him because of those arguments. I believed because I heard His message. I saw His love through the cross. I heard His invitation to be His child from His own lips. That is why I believed. That is my message.

For those of you who have yet to believe… Don’t you see the same in your life? I know, we blame “Christians” for rejecting Jesus because they aren’t consistent in following Him. But, that’s just it – it’s blame. It’s not the reason. It’s just a convenient excuse, isn’t it? The real reason is you don’t like Jesus. I don’t mean that you have animosity toward Him. I mean that You don’t like what He claims about people or Himself. You don’t like what His death means for you. It is all about Jesus!

So, what have you done with Pilate’s question? What will you do with this One called Christ? What about Jesus makes you not trust Him? If the answer to that question is suffering or sin, then you haven’t really answered the question.  You’ve dodged it.  Let me ask the question again, “What about Jesus makes you not trust Him?  Is it what He teaches?  Is it that He died for you?  Is it His love that always tells you the truth? Which one of those is detestable in your sight?”

When all is said and done, that is the real question.  Like Pilate of old I asked that question of myself – What will I do with this one called Jesus?  When I understood who He is and what He had done for me I had to say, “believe in Him.”  What do you say?  Is it because of Him?

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People

God has declared that He is knowable. He tells us that He is not just knowable to those who have grown up in church. God has said that He is knowable to any who honestly just observe creation. So, why do so many people deny who God is? God says that it is because people suppress the truth for an alternative that they wish was true. This is what Christians face when they want to share Jesus with their friends and family. It is is why we need courage today.

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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Precious Jesus

Which type of jewelry do you like – the gold and precious stones type or the homemade type? I am sure the vote is mixed. Some of us like the prettiness of store bought jewelry. Some of us like that homemade jewelry always reminds us of the person who gave it.

Now think about God’s gift of Jesus. He is both, isn’t He? He is a costly gift because it is His life that was given for us. He is a precious gift because He came because of the great love God has for us.


1 Peter 1:18 — 19 18 You were not  redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.


Peter makes this point about the preciousness of Jesus. He is precious because He is worth so much. He is also precious because He came because God loves us. We all know John 3:16. When we think of the precious character of Christ’s gift to us, that verse clarifies just how precious He is. He is a gift of God’s love. It isn’t just that He gave all for us. He gave all because of the love of God!

So, do we treat Him as precious? When we approach Christmas and Easter, many people begin talking about Jesus. Our culture treats Jesus as important during these celebrations. But that isn’t the main way we show that something is precious to us, is it? When something is truly precious to us, we value it all the time. Do we treat Jesus as the precious treasure that He is? Do we listen to Him as we would someone precious to us? Do our lives tell everyone around us how precious He is to us? If someone was gossiping about you, would the horrible gossip they had to share was that you always seemed to think that Jesus was so very important?  

May we be people who shine for Him. May our understanding of how very precious He is inform our choices and our life. He is precious. Let’s tell the world!

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

Hell. Damnation. These two words commonly come to mind when we think about the idea of God’s wrath. However, what if God’s wrath isn’t always what we think it is? What if God’s wrath isn’t immediately the fires of perdition? What if God’s wrath begins by God giving us the wickedness we ask for? What if it begins with God no longer protecting us from ourselves?

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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