April 1st, 2015
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” These are the words of our memory verse this week, but how can we boast about the cross? What can help us brag, exalt, be proud the cross?
Consider the incredible prophetic words of Isaiah 53.
If you want some powerful images to boast about, consider just a sampling of the prophet’s words…
- He was despised and rejected by men…
- Surely, He has born our griefs…
- He was wounded for our transgressions…
- The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all…
- It was the will of the Lord to crush Him…
- He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors…
Father, thank you for these incredible, prophetic words, spoken by the prophet 700 years before the birth of our Savior. Thank you for helping us to boast and brag in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
March 31st, 2015
In order to fully appreciate the importance of this week’s memory verse, we need to see how this verse relates to the larger context so we can understand how it relates to our personal context. The problem facing the churches of Galatia was unique to them, but also very relevant to us.
After preaching the gospel in the region of Galatia, a group of Jewish religious leaders had come behind the apostle paul to “correct” him by teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised in order to become Jews so that they could then be saved. This was a huge issue in the early church. In fact, a major meeting was called in Jerusalem to deal with this issue, a meeting which is described in Acts 15.
But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. Acts 15:1-2 (ESV)
And it is this same question that Paul is confronting in his letter to the Galatians. And he used some very powerful language throughout the letter. He called the idea that one had to be circumcised in order to be saved a “different gospel,” a distortion of the gospel of Christ (see Galatians 1.6-7). The burden of the law was too great for the Jews in general (see Acts 15.10) and Peter specifically (see Galatians 2.14). According to the true gospel, we are justified, we are made right with God by faith and not by works of the law (see Galatians 2.16). If one is circumcised in order to be made right with God, then the gospel of grace is nullified and Christ died for no purpose (see Galatians 2.21). Read more »
March 23rd, 2015
One of the questions that has always bothered me, partly because I know that it should be easy to answer, is why did Jesus have to die for the forgiveness of my sin? I don’t doubt that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness. My question has more to do with why the Father required the death of His Son to be able to forgive me. I am a father of three children who have been known to “sin” occasionally. When they confess and repent of their misdeeds, I don’t demand they kill a goat in order to deserve my forgiveness. I don’t break off our relationship for eternity because of their sin. My love for them leads me to forgive them. If I am a weak and broken man and yet capable of this level of love, then why can’t God love and forgive in the same way? Why is forgiveness so hard for God? Read more »
February 10th, 2015
I have been attending a Baptist church all my life, even before I was born. My parents were faithful members of a local Baptist church, and raised me to be the same. I attended a Baptist college, went to a Baptist seminary, married a Baptist girl, and have served on the church staffs of five different Baptist churches. So needless to say, my entire religious life has been consumed by the Baptist way of doing things.
Which meant I had absolutely no experience with this thing called Ash Wednesday. The extent of my knowledge of Ash Wednesday, Lent, Shrove Tuesday, and a handful of other “catholic” sounding terms was pretty null. I knew something about Catholics going to church on the Wednesday 40 days before Easter to have ashes pressed on their foreheads by a priest, but that was about it.
So, I offer to my fellow Baptists a “Guide to Ash Wednesday.” Most of my information for the following article is based on information from American Catholic, a website with many articles on all things to do with Catholicism written by Catholics.
January 14th, 2015
Follow the link below for the first episode of a new weekly podcast, The Scripture Memory Project, aimed at equipping the church to memorize Scripture.