At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics

When we think about the important issues facing America right now, we need to hear clear and helpful information from our leaders. In politics, in culture, and in faith we need our leaders to tell us what they believe and what they intend to do. The difficulty is that too often we don’t know if we can really believe them. Why? Too many times having played 3 card monte!

On Android you can find past episodes here:

Listen on Google Play Music

Of course, you can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics At Calvary!

When we think about the important issues facing America right now, we need to hear clear and helpful information from our leaders. In politics, in culture, and in faith we need our leaders to tell us what they believe and … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics
  2. At Calvary – Ep 27 – Number 23 on the Top Theological Questions Asked of Google
  3. At Calvary – Ep 26 – The Glory of Gospel Thinking
  4. At Calvary – Ep 25 – Families and Patriotism
  5. At Calvary – Ep 24 – Fitly Spoken Words
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The Christian Atheist – A Scary Thought

Today we think about one of the oddest actions in the world. No, it isn’t when people who don’t believe in God act like they don’t believe in Him. It isn’t when people who are iffy about God act like they don’t believe in Him. No, the oddest action to me is when those who say they believe in Him act as if He is irrelevant in their life or choices.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

About ten years ago I came across a book by Craig Groeschel called, The Christian Atheist, Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist. In the book, Mr. Groeschel points out the odd contradiction in many of those who claim to follow Jesus faithfully: we seem to ignore what He says whenever it suits us. In essence, we act, sometimes, as if he doesn’t exist.

Consider this example: Johnny is hurt by someone. He hears God’s Word telling him to forgive that other person. He says, “I can’t forgive them – it’s hopeless.” Do you hear what our man Johnny is saying? He is saying, “Forgive? Forgiveness isn’t possible because there is nothing in the world that can make this situation any better.” Do you hear the inherent disbelief in such thoughts? He may sing the words on Sunday. He may nod or amen when the pastor talks about it. However, when it comes to believing it for his own life, it is as if what God has said isn’t even there. It’s as if what God has said doesn’t count. This is essentially atheism at the relationship level. We do not believe that God is at work in our painful relationships, so we lose heart. We give up. We refuse to forgive.

Do you ever find yourself in such a situation? Paul wrote to a man like that: Philemon. Philemon had experienced betrayal. He knew pain. His former servant, Onesismus, had betrayed him. He had been betrayed and then Onesimus had run from him. That same Onesimus was now returning with a letter from Paul. That letter is our book of Philemon. It is full of hope for Onesimus and Philemon. Paul believed that restoration was possible. He believed a new relationship that would be rich and rewarding was in their future.

If then you count me as a partner, receive him [Onesimus] as you would me.

Philemon 1:17

Paul asks Philemon to so forgive Onesimus that Philemon would begin to see Philemon in the same way that he sees Paul: a friend, a brother, forgiven. Philemon faced a tough choice: believe his that his experience with Onesimus should tell him how to act OR let Paul’s encouragement from Jesus tell him how to act. Which should he choose?

Here’s the choice – do we see Paul as a starry-eyed idealist or a man who understood pain and had a real answer for it? Was Paul speaking from an ivory tower or from real world wisdom? An even bigger choice – do we hear just another person speaking (Paul) or do we hear Jesus speaking through him? How we answer these questions tells us whether we are relationship atheists are not. I know, we couch our response so well in words that excuse our atheism. We say, “It takes two.” We say, “I can’t make them like me.” We even say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” These statements can all be true. Yet, they have nothing to do with forgiveness. They have nothing to do with whether we can believe that God will work a miracle. Isn’t that what miracles are all about?

The real test of our Christianity is not saying we believe in miracles. The real test is when we need a miracle and we act like one may come. That is when we really believe. When we act in faith, that is when faith is real.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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The Mystery of Knowing God

All aboard the Murder Mystery Express | Duluth News Tribune

Mysteries. They catch my fascination. I love a good who-done-it. They stretch my mind. They capture my imagination. They make me want to solve the puzzle before it is revealed.

Have you ever thought of the wonderful mystery of knowing God? I mean, He is there – the King of the universe – and He wants to know you! He speaks of humans being His friends. How does that work? How can we be God’s friend? Why would He want it? What could we offer? We ask these questions, and yet His Word says that He seeks us out!

There are things that only have worth because we personally value them. Mysteries are that way for me. Other things are valuable almost to everyone. The true worship of God is a mystery of both. In Psalm 34, David invites us to learn of the God who meets us. David invites us to know Him, to walk with Him, and to rejoice over Him. David declares that God has worth. David declares that God is worth everything. He invites us to see that too.

3 O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

Psalms 34:3

8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Psalms 34:8

Is God your great mystery? Does He excite you? Does He call to you from the depths? The Psalmist writes:

Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have washed over me.

Psalm 42:7

Oh, to hear that call of God – what a wonderful God He is! What a wonderful mystery He is.

Something to think about,
Pastor John

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The Power We Have (encouragement)

Consider the power you have…

This week I am thinking about God’s uncommon faithfulness. He was faithful to Paul when he was heading to Rome. Paul’s relationship with God tells us much about God’s relationship with all of His people. God is faithful. He encourages. He works when we cannot see Him. He cannot be stopped! (See Acts 27-28)

This got me thinking… It isn’t that God can’t do these things when a person doesn’t believe in Him. It’s just that the person who doesn’t believe, won’t see God working. They may give credit to luck. They may give credit to themselves. Too often, the person who is going through a rough patch won’t even see the good in their lives at all. How sad is that?

With all that said, it makes me think about the person who doesn’t know (or remember) that God is there for them. Have you ever noticed how comforted or transformed that person becomes when they learn of God’s abiding presence and power to care for them? It’s like the transformation in the picture above. We may feel beaten down, ugly, and small. God’s Word tells us that we are loved, important, and cared for. We are new creations!We are suddenly different. Our circumstances may have not changed, but our hope has. Our understanding of ourselves in God has.

That is the power of encouragement. If you are here today and you don’t know it – Know this: God is real and He wants to care for your life in Jesus Christ! Won’t you live in that knowledge today?

If you are here and you have forgotten it – You can be that voice of encouragement to someone today! Be the voice for someone. Who knows? You may even be speaking for God…

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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“Oops! I Did a Good Thing!”

Oops Speech Bubble Png – Clipartly.com

“Oops!” Haven’t we all said that? We say it when we do something poorly or accidentally. We say it when we wish that we could have done something different. It is an exclamation of our mess ups. Have you ever said “oops!” when you did a good thing?

How often does that happen? Does it ever happen? I would love it if accidental goodness followed me everywhere I went, but that is not how it usually works.

No, goodness takes some effort. No, I am not talking about a tremendous amount of effort, but it does take a purposeful attitude on our part. We must “mean to” do what is right for the sake of our fellow man or for God. It is rare for me to do the accidentally Godly thing. (by rare I mean almost never)

31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

The Apostle Paul is one of those people that talks about being purposeful all the time. He said that he did everything to do these two things: glorify God and introduce people to the Savior, Jesus Christ. Even in the passage above, Paul speaks of doing these two things purposefully. In verse 31 he urges us to glorify God. In verse 33 he declares that he lives, not so people will like him, but so people will come to know Jesus.

Do we do that by instinct, yet? Perhaps I will one day get there in my pursuit of holiness, but for now I need to purposefully pursue holiness before God. I need to live intentionally for Christ because the things I do on autopilot consistently lean toward the flesh and selfishness.

What about you? Have you ever taken up the challenge to live purposefully for Christ? Are you seeking to live for Him daily? Are the things you do each day done purposefully for Jesus?

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Ep 27 – Number 23 on the Top Theological Questions Asked of Google

The word omnipotence is one of those five dollar words that can easily trip us up. It means all powerful. However, what does that mean about God? And what should that do for us who believe in Him?

On Android you can find past episodes here:

Listen on Google Play Music

Of course, you can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics At Calvary!

When we think about the important issues facing America right now, we need to hear clear and helpful information from our leaders. In politics, in culture, and in faith we need our leaders to tell us what they believe and … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics
  2. At Calvary – Ep 27 – Number 23 on the Top Theological Questions Asked of Google
  3. At Calvary – Ep 26 – The Glory of Gospel Thinking
  4. At Calvary – Ep 25 – Families and Patriotism
  5. At Calvary – Ep 24 – Fitly Spoken Words
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At Calvary – Ep 26 – The Glory of Gospel Thinking

When we think about Christianity from the perspective of being good people, good neighbors, and avoiding doing “the bad stuff”, I wonder if we aren’t missing something. I wonder if we aren’t missing the glory of living and seeing life through the gospel.

On Android you can find past episodes here:

Listen on Google Play Music

Of course, you can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics At Calvary!

When we think about the important issues facing America right now, we need to hear clear and helpful information from our leaders. In politics, in culture, and in faith we need our leaders to tell us what they believe and … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics
  2. At Calvary – Ep 27 – Number 23 on the Top Theological Questions Asked of Google
  3. At Calvary – Ep 26 – The Glory of Gospel Thinking
  4. At Calvary – Ep 25 – Families and Patriotism
  5. At Calvary – Ep 24 – Fitly Spoken Words
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At Calvary – Ep 25 – Families and Patriotism

As we approach July 4, we will be thinking about barbecues, fireworks, and our country’s birthday. In our families, what do we teach our children about patriotism?

On Android you can find past episodes here:

Listen on Google Play Music

Of course, you can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics At Calvary!

When we think about the important issues facing America right now, we need to hear clear and helpful information from our leaders. In politics, in culture, and in faith we need our leaders to tell us what they believe and … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics
  2. At Calvary – Ep 27 – Number 23 on the Top Theological Questions Asked of Google
  3. At Calvary – Ep 26 – The Glory of Gospel Thinking
  4. At Calvary – Ep 25 – Families and Patriotism
  5. At Calvary – Ep 24 – Fitly Spoken Words
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4th of July Thoughts

Wow! Another 4th of July.  Happy Birthday America!

The 13 Colonies: Map, Original States & Regions | HISTORY - HISTORY

As I think about July 4th, I think about all the history of those days.  I think of the people whose lives were made harsher as tyranny increased.  I think about how the founding fathers grew more and more impatient with the conditions that they found themselves.  I think about the things they wrote and said and did during that time.  It makes me wonder, what did it really take to get them to take the steps they did?  What made them cross the line of self-interest and complacency and decide that they could not live that way anymore?

When they did, everything changed. Their allegiance changed. Their reputations changed. Their futures changed.  Some gave all.  All risked everything. For them, it was worth it!

I think of how that parallels our journey with Jesus. At some point, the tyranny of sin gets to us.  We become aware that the ‘freedom’ that sin promises is not freedom at all.  It is slavery.  We are not self-determined individuals.  We are trapped.  As we acknowledge our trapped state, it becomes unbearable for us.  It disgusts us.  We begin to consider God’s better way.  We begin to consider the way of life in Jesus.  True freedom becomes our aim.  Christ’s freedom becomes worth our everything.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36 

Are you there yet?  Are you at that place that says that you will forsake everything in order to know the freedom of Jesus?  If not, what will it take to push you over the edge?  What will it take to get you sick of the trap of sin?  Will complacency always win?

Wooden cross – Patchwork Pallets

If you have already come to that place, do you find complacency creeping back in? It is the complacency that says, “One or two sins won’t matter. It’s not that important.” The only way to stay free is permanent vigilance! Are there little lies that sin is telling you that are lulling you back into slavery? Resist.  Throw off those chains!  Let us remember our freedom and live in Jesus.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Ep 24 – Fitly Spoken Words

What does God mean by a word fitly spoken? He says that they are as valuable or as beautiful as apples of gold in a setting of silver. Do we value it? Do we show it by doing it?

On Android you can find past episodes here:

Listen on Google Play Music

Of course, you can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics At Calvary!

When we think about the important issues facing America right now, we need to hear clear and helpful information from our leaders. In politics, in culture, and in faith we need our leaders to tell us what they believe and … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Ep 28 – 3 Card Monte in Life, the Church and Politics
  2. At Calvary – Ep 27 – Number 23 on the Top Theological Questions Asked of Google
  3. At Calvary – Ep 26 – The Glory of Gospel Thinking
  4. At Calvary – Ep 25 – Families and Patriotism
  5. At Calvary – Ep 24 – Fitly Spoken Words
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