Here are several dozen of my essays of varying lengths about a wide variety of biblical themes. Scroll down and you’ll find teachings on prayer, divine guidance, foundational teachings on the faith, theology, spiritual leadership, loving the poor, worship, being like Jesus, etc. Enjoy!
How God Guides
This isn’t theoretical for me. I’ve been trying to follow the Spirit’s lead since I met Jesus in 1972. In the process of attempting to hear and follow his lead I’ve made tons of mistakes. It’s been a wild ride. I hope my teaching and stories are an encourage you to listen carefully and do what he says. “…he will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14)
Being More or Less Like Jesus
I am trying to be more, more like Jesus. My guess is that you are too. So, what does that
look like? How would we know if we’re very much or very little like him? Would we know
by how seldom we cuss or drink too much or how many Sundays of the month we go to
church? Maybe, but if you ask me, there are more reliable criteria by which we can assess our Christlikeness.
During the darkest time of my life, these passages lit the way forward. Maybe the Lord will use them to do the same for you.
Do You Have Any Idea How Gifted You Are?
The Church is not a “spiritual restaurant” where a few people do all the cooking of the food and a few wear themselves to the bone serving the food, but most just eat, put on weight, and tip the help on the way out! It should be more like a potluck – everyone brings something to the table. This paper is about what God has given you to bring to the table. He’s given you a gift, maybe more than one.
FOUNDATIONS_101_Chapter 1: “The Cross” (on being forgiven)
Foundations 101 is designed for people in one of three different life situations: Someone who as recently received Jesus as their Savior; someone who has known the Lord for a while, but hasn’t studied the basics of the faith; or someone looking for a succinct way to teach new believers the foundations of the faith. This series is all about digging down deep and laying a foundation so that you’ll be able to develop a solid and successful walk with Jesus. Throughout these chapters we’ll look at six fundamentals of the Christian life, six key sections of our faith’s foundation.
This first chapter is about the awful and wonderful cross of Jesus and what he did for us to restore us to a friendship with the Father.
FOUNDATIONS_101_Chapter 2: “The Inner-Change” (on being transformed)
This chapter is about the sanctifying work of the Spirit to make us more like Jesus.
FOUNDATIONS_101_Chapter 3: “The Conversation” (on being a person who prays)
Here we talk about the privilege and possibilities of prayer.
FOUNDATIONS_101_Chapter 4: “The Church” (on having fellowship with other believers)
This is about how much we need other Jesus followers and they need us.
FOUNDATIONS_101_Chapter 5: “The Church” (on being empowered)
Here talk about the Holy Spirit and the power he gives us to share Jesus with others.
FOUNDATIONS_101_Chapter 6: “The Word” (on being a student of the Bible)
This is where we talk about the role of the Bible in the believer’s life.
FOUNDATIONS_201: “An Introduction”
This a follow-up to “Foundations 101.” In 101 we introduced six topics necessary
for new Jesus followers to study and understand in order to be strong in their faith.
These same themes (plus one) will now be discussed here on a bit more advanced level for those who have been born again for a while.
FOUNDATIONS_201_Chapter 1: “The Cross”
We’ll look at four things in this paper: What we did that made us need to be justified… What God did to do the justifying… What we have to do to receive justification… What justification looks like…
FOUNDATIONS_201_Chapter 2: “The Inner-Change”
I call the transformed life in Jesus being an “integrated” one wherein all our “parts” (our spirit, soul and body) work together for the glory of God instead of against each other.
FOUNDATIONS_201_Chapter 3: “The Conversation”
This chapter is about intercessory prayer. Intercession begins with a purpose, addresses a problem, expresses itself in a partnership, requires a persistence, releases a power, and receives a prize!
FOUNDATIONS_201_Chapter 4: “The Church”
As a part of the Body of Christ, everything you do is important because it affects all the other parts of the Body. Each person is necessary, and no one can do another person’s job for God. And no one can reach their potential without the love and support of the other members of the Body.
FOUNDATIONS_201_Chapter 5: “The Spirit (and his gifts)”
There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
FOUNDATIONS_201_Chapter 6: “The Word”
I talk here about how to get more out of your Bible.
My heart has terribly limited peripheral vision. Without the help of the Spirit my heart either
focuses on my flaws or my future, but not both in the same frame. I either feel shame
about the past or wishful thinking about the future, but unaided, I can’t see how one could
possibly lead to the other. Fortunately God can see more than one frame at a time. He’s
greater than my heart and knows everything.
HELP IS ON THE WAY!
Someone counted 300 references to the Second Coming in the New Testament alone – one of every 30 verses! In this brief paper we’ll cite a sample of those passages, offer some humble interpretations, and hopefully bring you some encouragement along the way. Why? Because, HELP IS ON THE WAY!
How to Get Integrated: The Power to Be Like Jesus
The Christian life is not hard to live. It’s IMPOSSIBLE! Only Jesus can live like Jesus. But since he lives in us he can also live through us. That’s what this essay on Romans 6 is all about.
How To Get More Out of Your Bible
A lot of Jesus followers let someone else have all the fun of reading and studying the Bible. It’s a shame, mostly because it is fun, and rewarding to learn God’s book for yourself.
Amateurs do what they do, not for pay but for the love of it. They’re not experts, but they do their thing out of sheer enjoyment. That pretty much describes the kind of Jesus followers I prefer to hang around.
I propose that Jesus was / is not the exclusive possession of the middle-class. In fact, if he leaned one way or the other it was in the direction of the most marginalized. It was the poor, the outcast, the people at the end of their rope that Jesus typically rescued. He came to change society, and instead of at the top, he began at the bottom.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer I worried about dying before my story was finished. I had, and still have, a number of things to achieve, people to reach, chapters to live and to tell. It wasn’t the dying part that bothered me so much as living long enough (and well enough) to complete my story (and complete it well). A number of things have comforted me since then, not the least of which is the assortment of passages strewn throughout the pages of my Bible – a selection of which come from John’s Gospel.
Leadership Lessons from 2 Corinthians
I was in one of those dark-night-of-the-pastor’s-soul seasons (I’ve had several of these over the years) when the Lord led me to take 2 Corinthians as a kind of prescription for what ailed me. I had planted three churches and was leading two of them at the same time (don’t ask me about the sanity of this!). I was in the throes of dealing with a bunch of my own inadequacies, some significant disappointments that I had with the churches, and a whole bag-full of hurt feelings. Not only did I feel like a failure, I couldn’t seem to get either God or people to do what I wanted them to do. I went away for a few days to seek the Lord and try to get my head together. I was pretty bummed out about how things were going, when I found myself reading this letter over and over. While I’ll never be the leader Paul was, from his letter and his example, I’ve gleaned (and continue to do so) many valuable lessons about spiritual leadership.
That horrific season of my life did alter a lot of my thinking about God – and as far as I can tell – for the better. You can be the judge of that yourself if you decide to read on.
In our cozy churches we tend to lose touch with the reality of the wider world and our sense of God’s compelling call outward. It leaves us deaf to the voice of God, insensitive to his impetus, and feeling sick to our stomachs. The Spirit of Jesus compels us toward the outer edge of our spinning earth and away from the center of our own little world.
Life isn’t nearly as predictable as we would wish, so detours are a more regular occurrence than we planned when we embarked on the trip. So we have to learn to expect the unexpected, bring our fears about them to God and adapt to what happens.
An appeal for a less self-indulged and more Christ-centered Christianity.
Once Saved Always Saved?
Here is what I believe about “Eternal Security.”
The Church is at her best when she specializes in outcasts – the more outrageous brand of outcasts the better. Jesus is not so much looking for Inner Circle favorites but Outer Circle followers who are willing to collaborate with him in loving and serving the least and the left out.
God sings his beautiful anthem, a love song that he relentlessly croons to all his humans. His song brings pleasure to all who stop and listen, is intended to elicit an antiphonal response, wherein singers find other singers and sing in harmony with them in such a way that non-singers are enticed to join the song.
The Conversation: A Study of Intercessory Prayer
Praying is more of a dialogue than we probably know. It’s not just us talking and him listening. When we pray, something is coming from him, and then there’s something going back up to him from us. Then he sends something back to us in the form of a response to our prayer.
The Day I Got My “Whatever” Back: On How To Trust When You’re Truster is Damaged
The core issue of my lost “whatever” was really a loss of trust. I simply didn’t trust God like I had before. He’d let me down (at least from my vantage point at the time) and I wasn’t willing to expose myself unreservedly to him again. “Whatever you want, Lord” was not going to proceed out of my mouth again until at least we got some things straightened out between us.
The Christian’s Review and Reward: A brief study of the Judgment Seat of Christ
This is a paper on a not-very-often-addressed topic of the review and reward of all Christians.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Foretaste to Fulfillment
Here, in a very brief study, I give my understanding of the Kingdom of God – past, present, and future.
The Lord, His Law, and Those Who Love Him
- Do we still go by the Ten Commandments?
- If Jesus lives in us, do we even need laws?
- Should we be stoning blasphemers and adulterers?
- What are the purposes and parameters of the Law in the Old Testament?
For a sincere stab at answers to those questions read this.
It’s my observation that a disproportionate percentage of American believers in Jesus are timid in the expression of their faith. There is a “treatment” for it. Read on…
What God is Like: Musings on the character of God
I can only draw as clear a picture of God as I have to date; and I have no illusion that I contain in my puny mind a particularly large percentage of what can be known of the God of the Bible. We’re pretty much like tadpoles swapping stories of blue whales, ants discussing the elephant, or pots pondering the potter!
What Jesus Thought About Universal Victim Blaming
There’s obviously something wrong with you if bad things happen in your life. True or False?
Why I’m Still Following Jesus: An Encouragement to Endure
I may have very little idea about what he’s doing, and why he allows what he does, but I know he’s with me and loves me extravagantly. Why in the world would I leave the only purpose of my life now? I’m still following Jesus because he’s real and he’s still real important to me.
I make up words and definitions to things. It’s just something I do. It might amuse, even edify, you to read this. (Yes, that’s an old photo of me before I went totally grey.)