Portraits of Grace (7): Judgment & Restoration of Moab

Episode 368: God calls Moab “my washbasin,” that is, the place where He washes His feet. They were a Gentile nation, not part of God’s covenant, & prideful people. Yet God shows grace first to a widow from the washbasin in the book of Ruth, then the whole nation of washbasin dwellers in Jeremiah 48. Tune in as I explore the grace which is present even in a relentless proclamation of judgment upon the nation.

Today in Church History: Henry Dunster resigns as president of Harvard (1654)

Question of the Day: Why do my prayers not get answered?

Portraits of Grace (6): A Tale of Two Sinners

Episode 367: Genesis 38 is a chapter of the Bible we tend to steer clear of due to its mature content. There is sin in just about every verse of this chapter. Where is God’s grace in all of this? “But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Tune in as I take a look at this chapter & how God’s grace even reaches a man like Judah.

Today in Church History: English Parliament takes up a bill banning clergy from governmental positions (1641)

Question of the Day: How big is heaven?

Portraits of Grace (5): A Tale of Two Graces

Episode 366: The story of Joseph in Genesis eats my lunch each time I read it. Joseph blows me away. He is a young man who does not have a Bible, grows up surrounded by family which has all kinds of issues, comes of age in a grossly idolatrous land (Egypt), and yet he never loses focus on God. Tune in as I walk through Joseph’s story & what he teaches about being gracious to others.

Question of the Day/Church History: Did the Jews successfully kill Lazarus as they intended (John 12.9-11)?

Portraits of Grace (4): What Is & What Should Never Be

Episode 365: Warning: Explicit Content. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God uses graphic language to describe his broken relationship with Israel. After He tenderly nursed her, bountifully lavished her with gifts, & graciously married her, she used his gold, silver, & clothing to pay men to sleep with her. It is a grotesque portrait, yet it is a gracious picture because of how God responds after his bride’s faithlessness. Tune in to see God’s grace in Ezekiel 16.

Today in Church History: Teresa of Avila Dies (1582)

Question of the Day: Will we know our loved ones in heaven?

Portraits of Grace 3 – The World’s Best Love Story

Episode 364: The story of Hosea is the tragedy of a broken marriage, both of the prophet of God & of God Himself. How can there be grace in such a sad, sordid story? Tune in as we find the grace of God behind the scenes & in the shadows of a loving husband’s actions toward an unloving wife.

Today in Church History: George Whitefield preaches his last sermon (1770)

Question of the Day: Are there degrees of punishment in hell?

Portraits of Grace (2): The World’s Weakest Strongest Man

Episode 363: As we continue our stroll through the gallery of grace which is the Old Testament, we come upon one of the more tragic figures: Samson. Of course, we typically do not think Samson as tragic; he’s a character we teach the children about with his incredible feats of strength. He reads more like a superhero than a sad story. Yet it is true. Samson’s story is a sad one. How is God’s grace on display in the life of Samson? Tune in as I explore how can use someone as flawed even as Samson.

Today in Church History: C.S. Lewis comes to believe in Jesus (1931)

Question of the Day: Are there degrees of reward in heaven?

Portraits of Grace (1): In the Beginning

Episode 362: When God chooses to disclose Himself & reveal His nature, He chooses grace as one of the primary, if not the primary, characteristic. Grace is a New Testament word, but it has Old Testament roots. In this episode, I explore those roots as we begin to stroll through the gallery of grace which is the Old Testament. We will also see from a very common story the gracious nature of God.

Today in Church History: Cyprian Beheaded (258)

Question of the Day: Do we go straight to heaven or wait for judgment when we die?

The Beatitude of the Forgiven Lawbreaker

Episode 330: What do you do when you’ve blown it with God? I mean, royally blown it? King David was one who know about blowing it royally with God, but he also knew the way back home. In this episode, we dive into Psalm 32 to discover what we can do when we have blown it with God.

Today in Church History: Alexander Newcomer becomes a Christian (1858)

Question of the Day: Why doesn’t God just forgive without the cross?

Mars Hill Church Issues

Episode 271: Have you heard about the mess happening in Seattle? Seattle-based Mars Hill Church is having some serious issues with their lead pastor Mark Driscoll. While we do not know all the details (a point I iterate several times), it is a sad situation playing out for all the world to watch. But how does it apply to your situation, right where you live? Tune in as I show how some of the things happening in Washington are probably eerily similar to what you are struggling with in your life.

Question of the Day: Does God Exist?

Strengthened by Grace

Episode 269: I have been into weight lifting since my sophomore year of high school. Since I have lifted for so long, I think I am pretty strong. I am not talking about freakishly strong like the men in the World’s Strongest Man competition who lift and carry Volkswagens, but I am strong enough to do 100 pull-ups. Of course, there is an easy way to prove this: we can just meet in the gym at the pull-up bar…

Strength is a good thing, especially in the realm of the spiritual. Note the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2.1: “…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” What a fantastic charge! Be strong! But the question invariably comes up: how is one to “be strong” when it comes to grace? What does it mean to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus?”

“Be strong” or “be empowered” is the same word from which we get our English word “dynamite.” Hence, Paul is pointing to the explosive power that comes from Christ. It can also read “keep on being empowered.” So we should understand that this is somewhat similar to the gym experience for the body. Just as an individual would go to the gym and lift weights to build up physical strength, so the Christian enters into the place where strength is, that is, of course, Jesus Christ. Also, I think it tells us this is not just one shot deal; just as a person goes to the gym on a regular basis, so the Christian will plug into and stay with the true power source, which is Christ, allowing Him to strengthen us with His grace.

And what is grace? Most define it as the unmerited favor of God. It is a gift from God, and a free gift at that. There is nothing we could do to earn it; we can only accept it as a gift. It is this grace which saves us (Eph 2.8). We must never take for granted the expensive gift our God has bestowed upon us and must realize that this is where we can find strength.

It must be noted that if there is such a thing as being strong in grace, there is also such a thing as being weak outside of grace. Paul severely contrasts those who deserted him (see 1.15) with Timothy. Those who deserted him were not strong in the grace of Christ, that is, they did not tap into the power source. For whatever reason, they decided to unplug and therefore became weak, detached from the true power found only in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, the charge is clear: stay focused on Christ and remain in his grace. Dig deeper into grace through personal study and prayer. Realize the love of God seen in the saving grace he gives us through Jesus. Beware that you never unplug from the power source. Allow that supreme sacrifice to strengthen you daily as you seek to do the will of God. It is only in Christ Jesus that we find the grace which empowers us to press on.

Question of the Day: What’s so amazing about grace?