GraceWaves Articles

Drop the Reins

“The Lord is my shepherd.” Psalm 23:1 Do you know what to do if you get lost while riding a horse? Neither did I until I heard this story from an acquaintance. Alicia is an avid and experienced rider. She and a friend took their own horses to an unfamiliar piece of land. It was many acres, with rolling hills, woods, and water. All the elements to make for a fine morning excursion. After riding for more than an hour, they became disoriented. After a few uncertain efforts to find the right way they realized they could be wandering around

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God's Got This

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 A few years ago while going through a period of uncertainty and fear I called a good friend of mine, Bill Hamm, and said simply, “Bill, I’m just afraid.” He replied, “Terry, God’s got this.” God’s got this. The best theology is simple, and you can’t get much simpler than “God’s got this.” Those words at that time allayed my fear, renewed my trust, and calmed my heart. The outworking of that particular “this” still took some time, but “God’s

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Living in the Meantime

“The Lord made a covenant with us at Horeb…”         Deuteronomy 5:2 I wrote last week that God always speaks, but He usually whispers. However, you may be in a situation where you want a rushing mighty wind not a gentle breeze. Earthquake, fire, and wind are preferable to the still small voice. You want His voice to be louder than the noise of your crisis. In the Bible God sometimes does shout His answers. A divided sea, a healing, an exorcism, a stilled storm, a resurrection. It appears to happen all the time in Scripture. Why should

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Speak Lord, for We Are Listening

“The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.” 1 Samuel 3:1 This verse is sad and familiar. God created Israel, and all of us, to be in close fellowship with Him. Yet a dreadful silence had descended upon the people. I wonder if they noticed? It’s not unusual to hear someone suggest that God is silent. In America’s Four GodsPaul Froese and Christopher Bader write that one of the four main ways people view God is distant and uncommunicative. Interestingly, this group tends to have more years of education. I’ll leave that little detail

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Want to Fly Far, Far Away?

[Having grown weary of deadlines for 30+ years I took a break from GraceWaves for a while. Many thanks to all of you who encouraged its return. I look forward again to our weekly encounters. Grace always…] “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Truly I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness.” Psalm 55:6 Forrest Gump fans will remember the moving scene where little Jenny flees from her abusive father and hides in a corn field with Forrest. She kneels down and says “Pray with me Forrest!

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Surveying the Wondrous Cross

Surveying the Wondrous Cross “For God so loved you…” John 3:16 As we make our way to Easter let's take a look at the central idea of this most holy of weeks. The cross stands at the same time as a horrible and beautiful reminder. It is the crossroads of human brokenness and God's grace. The cross is the answer to the very question of our existence as humans. On one side we have the problem that, in a word, is sin. Most people would be surprised to find out that there are more than a dozen words for sin

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God's Holy Madness

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'" Genesis 1:26 Many Christians, at some level, fear they’re unworthy and damaged goods. They accept with the top of their heads the truth of God’s grace, but the idea has never quite worked its way down to their core. They suspect God could better spend his time on people with a stronger faith. They feel they have been disqualified by some brokenness in their lives. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, every single one of the great characters you read about in the Bible had some kind

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Why I Still Wear a Suit to Church

“And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple, and scarlet stuff, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked.” Exodus 28:6 Let me begin by saying I don’t have to wear a suit to church any more. For nearly 35 years as a pastor I dressed in suits and ties to preach and lead worship services. I can’t say it was ever demanded of me, but I knew it was expected and would have caused a minor stir among some people who were ceaselessly looking for reasons to engage in or promote a minor stir. Not having

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The Goodness of Sin

“I came not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them!” Matthew 5:17 Barney Fife was leaving the church after a Sunday morning service. Both Aunt Bee and Andy complimented the preacher on the message about the need to slow down and not rush through life. “It was wonderful!” “It hit the nail on the head!” Barney, who had been snoozing through it offered, “Yes, that’s one subject you just can’t talk enough about…SIN.” So in the spirit of Barney Fife, let’s talk about sin this week. But I don’t want this to be a long complaint

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Bless Them, Change Me

“Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if someone sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Matthew 18:21 You’ve just found out that you’re going to die in the next few minutes. What goes through your mind in those moments? Denial? Terror? Bargaining? Matthew O’Reilly knows. O’Reilly is an emergency medical technician. He’s the guy that shows up at the wrecks and heart attacks and other places where lives hang in the balance. He says it’s not unusual for people in those crisis situations to ask the obvious question, “Am I going to

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A Grace Review

“From the fullness of Christ we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16 This verse is the foundation for GraceWaves. It summarizes so beautifully some of the themes of grace that are central to understanding and relating to God. Jesus came to show us God’s grace. As we are still near the beginning of the New Year, I thought this would be a good opportunity to review some of the basics of grace. First, grace is action. It’s the removal of sin (one of the Greek words for forgiveness is built on the root word for grace). It’s the

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Walking Where Jesus Walked

A trip to Israel changes your life. After you walk the land where Jesus was born as we all are, worked as a carpenter, taught as a rabbi, died as a Savior, and returned as the King you will never read the Bible the same way. As the stories come alive, your faith also will come alive in new and unexpected ways. We still have places available on the trip. We need final commitments and deposits by February 8. To learn more visit www.jcbs.org and click Find A Trip in the upper left. Then enter the following: Tour: JC18; Date:

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Through All the Turns

“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” Matthew 1:24 Are you dealing with unexpected turns in your life? You might be feeling kind of lonely, but trust me, you have lots of company. We’re all either in the middle of turn, about to go into a turn, or coming out of one. We just need a reminder that God is with us through all the turns. Joseph is a good reminder. Let’s take a look at the life that he had planned. From Gospel of Matthew and Mark we know that Joseph

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Hope Makes Life Worth Living

“Hope that is seen is not hope” Romans 8:24 Hopelessness is a great human disaster. Hopeless people abound. Life for them is dry, full of despair. They have nothing to look forward to other than pain or grief. Hopelessness comes in countless expressions, and all of us have felt its cold touch. A student comes into a classroom to find out that the test is today, but thought it was next week. All hope is gone of doing well on that test. You didn’t make the team. Hope disappears. On into adulthood you feel hope drain away when you didn’t

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