More Reflections on the Necessity and Power of Prayer

A while back I wrote an article about ten things all of us should know about the necessity of prayer. Here I want to follow up with some observations on a few relevant biblical texts. Look with me at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, but especially v. 11. "For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of de

10 Things you should know about God's Will(s)

There is a reason I said God's "Will(s)" (plural) instead of God's "will" (singular). My focus in this installment of 10 things you should know is the question of whether or not there are two senses in which God may be said to "will" something. (1) The first thing we should remember is that in one sense God's "will" is irresistible and cannot be frustrated or ultimately overcome. We see this in texts such as these:

One Gift, Six Blessings: God’s Christmas Present to His People

Christmas, for some, can be an especially discouraging time of year. One often hears of those suffering from “seasonal depression” or the “holiday blues” as they contemplate the loss of a loved one, a failed marriage, unemployment and the financial pressure of being unable to provide gifts for their family, or perhaps a child who simply won’t come home. Continue reading . . .

No light but Christ

An old man who believed God that he would see the Messiah before he died was rewarded by the Spirit of God when he encountered Mary and Joseph in the temple with their young son. Recalling the words of Isaiah he said this baby was: "a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."

Joy to the World! Reflections on Luke 2:8-14

We’ve all heard the story of what happened on that first Christmas night. Let’s look more closely at how it is told by Luke in chapter two, verses eight through fourteen of his gospel. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy

Mary, an Ordinary Girl.

Mary was a young woman, most likely a teenager. There was nothing special about her. The first time we see her is in the first chapter of Luke when she is greeted by the angel Gabriel. To say that she was startled and taken aback would be an understatement! But Gabriel comforted her and then with a few words turned her life upside down. She was going to become a mother. She was told her child would grow up to take the throne of King David and that his kingdom would have no end. So far, so good u

God Keeps his Promise, Again!

As I write this post the winter and summer solstice is occurring. At 5:44 a.m. EST the sun will shine directly over the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. Summer officially begins for the Southern Hemisphere and Winter begins for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. December 21st, marks both the longest and shortest day of the year. The reverse will happen on June 21st. Why is this important? Because God made a promise to Noah that the seasons will continue on our planet for as l

When was Jesus Born?

It’s amazing how often people get caught up in the debate over when Jesus was actually born. Although we should never be dogmatic on this point, the biblical text does provide us with a number of clues. Continue reading . . .

7 of the Most Frustrating Things Pastors Experience

This post, and the opposite one before it, (7 of the Most Exciting Things Pastors Experience) actually began when I received this question on my blog. Ron - What do you think are some of the most frustrating things pastors experience? Great question. I decided to first address some of the exciting things, but, like most jobs, there are frustrating things about the job. Leadership deals with people - different people, with different expectations, demands and opinions. And, anytime there are

Finding the Love of Christ in the Mess of Life

Being a parent is a consuming job. The unexpected and unplanned for circumstances just to keep on coming. In the mess, Christ can become distant. In Psalm 73, the psalmist had become overwhelmed with the seeming futility of following God. Survival mode had become the norm. He was thinking, I just can't do this anymore. But here is the reality that the crush of daily life can obscure-Jesus is right there with you in the middle of the mess of your life!

The Reigning Christ!

Joy is a response to the reign of King Jesus. It is the rule of Christ and not your circumstances that is your reason for joy. This is the theme of the second verse of Joy to the World: Joy to the World, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains Repeat the sounding joy...

The Irrepressible Christ of Christmas

There was a time when the glitz and tinsel of Christmas used to bother me. But no more. It bothered me, then, because it seemed at times as if Jesus had become lost in all the hoopla of the holiday season. I was fearful that the secularism and sophistication of society had somehow obscured Christ right out of Christmas.

How Beautiful on the Mountains…

DONCASTER, UK (ANS – December 13, 2016) -- Anyone unconvinced about God’s special love for the Jewish people should look no further than this remarkable story set in the mountains of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where I grew up. A Christian meeting was set to take place at a guest farm near Winterton, in the Drakensberg region, a beautiful range of peaks reaching as high as 11,000ft above-sea-level.

Thankful to Christ for Everyday Things

As I left my house to go the store tonight I was greeted by a brilliant view of Venus in the western sky. Then I looked to the east to catch an almost full moon rising above the trees. Both of these beautiful images were lit by the fierce light of the our Sun which had just slipped below horizon. And then I thanked Christ for his everyday gift of maintaining the continuous, controlled explosive power which fuels the Sun's radiance.

The Gift of Eternal Life: Knowning God

In the opening words of his prayer to the Father in John 17, Jesus defines for us the essence of eternal life. "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3). Sometimes I get the feeling that such texts as this were written distinctively and intentionally for our day and time. Of course, they are written for all God's people in every age, but it is hard to think of a more immediately relevant statement to what we are facing to

Surprised by War!

On a beautiful Sunday morning there were signs. There were ongoing negotiations, there were secret plans and a grand scheme. There was deception. There was a belief things could be managed, that our country would be safe. Then the sky was filled with planes and bombs. Thousands died at Pearl Harbor that Sunday. Hundreds of thousands more would die in the days that followed. There was also one missing component in the policy making of our country on that Sunday morning, December 7,1941. Like t

10 Things you should know about The Virgin Birth of Jesus

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, so it only seems fitting that we should turn our attention to the glorious message of Christmas. We will do that by devoting today's article to 10 things all of us should know about the virgin conception and birth of Jesus. (1) Some object to this doctrine by pointing to the many parallels to it in ancient literature. Their argument is that countless myths concerning the virgin births of various Greek gods and superheroes were prevalent in paganism. T

With ‘Jesus and Tim in Las Vegas’

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (ANS - November 25, 2016) -- The towering figure of Tim Berends has become a regular fixture on the Las Vegas Strip, as he hands out some 300 tracts a day to almost 40 million visitors to the gambling Mecca of America. That amounts to some 109,500 Christian tracts per year. And for Tim, Las Vegas has become fertile ground for witnessing, as most of these visitors to Vegas have one destination in mind: The Las Vegas Strip. This is where Tim comes in, and his tracts. His praye

A Thanksgiving Prayer

O Lord my God, my Savior, I pray for a heart overflowing with thanksgiving. Father, you are my constant reason for joy. You are faithful when I am unfaithful. You promise heaven when I am consumed by the next hour. Protect me from my own selfish desires. I confess that I want what cannot satisfy. I confess that I complain about what is not done rather than be grateful for what I can do. I confess that I am easily disappointed by those I love, even though you continue to love and bless me. I c

10 Things you should know about The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God is a massively important topic and spoken of throughout the Word of God. So reducing its essence down to only ten things feels silly, if not impossible. But here goes anyway. (1) Jesus claimed that the fulfillment of the Old Testament hope with its attendant blessings was present in his person and ministry. The unexpected element was that fulfillment was taking place without the final consummation. The prophetic hope of the coming Messianic kingdom of God as promised to Isr

7 Absolutely Certain Ways to Grow as a Leader

Do you want to grow as a leader? Do you want to keep growing? One reason I write this blog is I want to help others grow. At the same time, I have to keep growing as a leader. The people who look to me for leadership need me to continually strive to improve. So, how do we keep growing?

Fear God and keep his Commandments

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NIV) 13.Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man. 14For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Solomon searched out all the avenues of life to find something of meaning. He encouraged man to enjoy his labor and the simple pleasures of life, but to avoid extremes. Every thing he looked to for fulfillment, he concluded wa