GraceWaves Articles

Hearing Voices (part 4) The Voice of God

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 The most important and fundamental question in life is “What does God think of me?” What is your answer? The answer determines literally everything. If you decide He doesn’t care, then you’re on your own. If you believe He rejects or is angry with you, then fear will rule your life. If you believe God is reluctant or disappointed in you, then you will feel highly insecure as you struggle to meet His out-of-reach

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Hearing Voices (part 3) The Voice of the Encourager

“Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 I would have liked Barnabas. He was the older cousin of John Mark, a young man we met in the book of Acts a couple of weeks ago. John Mark had run afoul of Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, when he had left him and Barnabas in the middle of a missionary journey. When Barnabas proposed a second trip, Paul aggressively opposed taking John Mark with them. The two men went separate ways. John Mark heard the

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Hearing Voices (part 2): The Voice of the Critic

Theodore got it wrong, and he got it right. I’m referring to Theodore Roosevelt who said "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms,

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Hearing Voices (Part 1)

“And there arose a sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas, so that they separated from one another.” Acts 15:39 What I’m about to share with you today is simply a great story from the book of Acts. I’m going to use this story over the next three weeks to talk about the three voices you need to listen to in life when you’re in the middle of a contentious situation. The story is really the backstory for the verse “there arose a sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas, so that they separated.” The two leading missionary figures of the day,

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Invite God Into Your Pain

“In the world you will have tribulation, but rejoice for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 I’ve noticed that over the last several weeks I’ve touched often on the topic of suffering. This doesn’t represent a plan on my part necessarily, for I really try to let topics come to me through prayer and what I happen to see at the time. It seems, I suppose, that trials and difficulties have caught my attention a bit more than usual lately. It's an important topic, of course, and one that nearly everyone can relate to any given day. In my

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Are You Crazy?

“And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 I’m fairly sure it’s not an official DSM diagnosis, but I believe many of us suffer from just plain craziness. Are you crazy? Before you answer no let’s dig into the notion of craziness for a minute. The English word “crazy” appears to be derived from a Middle English word meaning “to crush.” In turn, that old word likely derives from the French word “ecraser” which means “to crush, break, or shatter.” While you may not be completely crushed, broken,

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The Paper Towel Tube

“Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin and gave the lad a drink.” Genesis 21:19 Imagine looking through a paper towel tube like you did when you were a kid. What you see is a very limited circle of reality. Now keep that in mind as we fill in some backstory. Hagar is the woman in this verse. She was Abraham’s concubine, a “gift” from Sarah, his wife, to bear him a child. As a practical aside here, wives don’t do this. Husbands don’t suggest it. In case there

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The Way to Stop Hating One Another

“What is man that Thou are mindful of him?” Psalm 8:4 Does the night sky make you feel insignificant? Most people reading this have a very limited access to the night sky, our city lights washing out all but a relative few bright points. But when you had a chance to see the vastness of our galaxy, perhaps even seeing the slash of the Milky Way across the night sky, did you feel small? That would be understandable. But did you feel insignificant? That’s hazardous. In his book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil de Grasse Tyson tells of

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Collateral Grace

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces enduring strength, and you must let that enduring strength have its full effect, that you be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 I have a friend whose son is a professional pitcher, working his way through the many levels of the minor leagues in the hope of making it to The Show, Major League Baseball. He’s had all the ups and downs of a young, aspiring athlete. Success in an early level means a promotion to the

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When Faith Falters

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13 You’re not as faithful as you could be. I may not have met you, but I’m right! Right? Somehow your faith is not as steady, sturdy, regular, or deep as it could be or needs to be. You struggle with doubt and fear. The uncertainties in your life, perhaps right now, have nearly overwhelmed you. Or your faith has cooled to the point of irrelevance. Was it ever real? The easiest preaching in the world is soaked in guilt and shame. A clever speaker could

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Asking God

“May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans…May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.” Psalm 20:4-5 One of the most common questions people ask me in my 35+ years of ministry is some form of “Is it all right to ask God for things?” The “thing” may be healing for a sick loved one, direction for life, a mate, even divine help for a sports team (which is always acceptable for the Kentucky Wildcats…but never for a team with a satanic mascot name, like, say, Duke). The short answer is yes. Paul wrote that we should

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The Muddle of Uncertainty

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 GraceWaves are reminders for the most part. Seldom am I going to break some new ground, or reveal some new and deep insight. Frankly, I'm not that good. But I think I am a good "reminder." Today I want to remind you that God is taking care of you. He has not forgotten you. He has not overlooked you or neglected you, and He is not idle. He is at

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Joy: The Laughter of the Soul

“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people.” Luke 2:9 A scene from Bernard Shaw's play Saint Joan serves as a wonderful Third Sunday of Advent illustration. First, a little background. During the Hundred Years’ War, the teenage Joan of Arc claimed to hear the voices of Michael the Archangel and two other saints instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination. She eventually led several successful military campaigns that paved the way for Charles’ coronation and eventual French victory. That’s the history. Now in

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Trust + Obedience = Peace

“We have peace with God.” Romans 5:1 What a way to run an incarnation! The coming of God in the flesh is one of the great moments in history, right up there with Creation and the resurrection. Yet so much about the birth of the Messiah is puzzling, surprising, even outlandish. The casting appears all wrong. A peasant girl. A carpenter. The setting is puzzling. Bethlehem was full of surly, out-of-town tax payers. This is before Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, even Motel 6. The inns were booked. So full was the city that Joseph and Mary couldn’t find anywhere

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Hope

“And this hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” Romans 5:5 Are you hopeful? Honestly, I fear hope is on the decline. All of our little handheld computers, and otherwise, are too often little more than the amygdala’s megaphone shouting all of our fears, angers, and frustrations to an itchy-eared audience. We broadcast our caustic emotions and create and ongoing expectation of imminent apocalypse. Hope is lost, or at least severely muted. Hope, however, is the theme of the first week of Advent, and hope is most needed where it appears most absent. In

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