GraceWaves Articles

An Advent Prayer

“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” John 12:36 Light is a cardinal theme in the Gospel of John. He introduces the word early and returns to it often. The Light is Jesus Himself, who was with God and was God from the very beginning, created the world, and then came into it  (1:5). The words of Jesus, “I am the Light of the world” (9:5) are found only in John. We find more “light” in John’s gospel than any other. Not surprisingly we also find a lot of darkness. Darkness

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Two Key Paradoxes

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is death.” Proverbs 14:12 Each one of us has a great capacity to make ourselves miserable, and we often do this unwittingly, confidently, and even blithely. The scripture for this week’s GraceWaves highlights this chronic tendency. We are all capable of constructing and following a way that seems right, best, and most likely to produce the happiness we desperately want, but it leads precisely the opposite direction. The Bible is unsparing in its evaluation of the result of this kind of pursuit: death. Other translations have destruction.

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Forever Thankful

“O give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 118:1 An old motivational story concerns a breakfast of eggs and bacon and the difference between the commitment of the chicken and the pig. The chicken is involved, but the pig is fully committed. You can now use the story in a variety of ways to encourage people to be fully committed, no matter what. No one likes a half-hearted commitment.  If you are going to engage in any endeavor, if it is worthwhile, give it your best! Be wholehearted! I want to apply

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When You Don't Feel Christian

“By this we shall know we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before Him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20 People who are paid to know this stuff say we are in “the post-modern age.” Whatever post-modernism is, and by definition it seems to enjoy being slippery, it does seem to be deeply colored by feelings. It is a mood, unburdened by the bothersome constraints of order or the Neanderthal notion of linear thinking. Feelings and emotions are important in the post-modern mind. However, a

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Hearing God

“He who has ears, let him hear!” Matthew 13:9 During a doctor visit a man happened to mention his concern for his wife’s hearing. The doctor suggested a simple test, and the man tried it when he returned home. Standing about 20 feet behind his wife he said in a quiet voice, “Honey, what time is dinner?” No reply. He stepped to 10 feet and repeated the question softly. Silence. He then moved directly behind his wife and quietly said, “Honey, what time is dinner?” She turned around and said, “For the third time, it’s at 6:00!” You can hear

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Deeply Simple Theology

"God is Love." 1 John 4:8 The easiest Greek in the Bible is 1 John. Any new student first taking the language will likely be directed to this little book. Readers Digest has something called a “Fog Index.” I don’t recall the specifics but you count the number of lines in a paragraph, the number of words in each sentence, the number of words that have more than three syllables, or something like that, and you end up with a number slightly corresponding to the grade level reading for your target audience. Use a lot of long sentences, long words

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Fight for Your Faith

“Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3 Jude wrote his letter to warn churches against the influence of false teachers, a common problem in the early church and not so uncommon today. These “grumblers, malcontents, loud mouthed boasters” (v. 16) taught a perversion of grace (v. 4) and practiced a licentious lifestyle (v. 7). In response, Jude appealed to Christians to “contend for the faith.” The word for contend is

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The Christian Attitude Toward Death

The Christian Attitude Toward Death “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 Of all Jesus’ stunning and somewhat counter-intuitive sayings this one surely ranks near the top. Jesus has taken on the supreme fear of all humanity, the fear of death, and His statements at first appear contradictory and perhaps even flippant. On reflection, however, they are perfectly in keeping with what God might say about the topic. We need to remember

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Making Molehills Out of Mountains

“The Lord will deliver me.” 1 Samuel 17:37 We have all heard the saying, “you’re making a mountain out of molehill.” Today I want you to see how you can do the opposite. With God’s help you can make a molehill out of a mountain. That is what David did when he faced Goliath. David did not deny reality. Goliath was a real giant that would have made Shaq look small by comparison. In the same way, you are facing a real giant. Your challenge is real. The disease is real. The relationship is troubled. The financial challenge is obvious.

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The Most Important Truth

"I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints the length, width, height, and depth of God’s love; and to know that Christ’s love for you surpasses all knowledge and fills you with the fullness of God.” Ephesians 2:17b-19 God loves you. You know that don’t you? But you have heard it so often that it risks sounding trite or maudlin. What is indisputably true is that most Christians live as if they are unaware of God’s love. Your challenge this week is to recapture some of the grandeur

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You're Being Shaped for Eternity

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 The movie Titanic came out in 1997. My daughter at the time was nine years old and according to her was “the only person my age not allowed to see it!” Despite her indisputable accuracy, and due to the fact that we, her parents, were obviously social Neanderthals, I would not allow her to go see the movie due to a few racy scenes. Besides I ruined the story for her when I quite

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Laying Aside the Questions

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without wisdom’” Job 38:1 The picture of the wildfires in Texas was another final straw. As the man looked at the picture of smoke and flames and read of destruction of property he groused to his wife, “where is your God now?” I hear this kind of response to bad things, and it’s often uttered as the coup de grace for any fading attempt to believe in God. The underlying assumption is clear enough and somewhat plausible. A caring, good, and all-powerful God

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Live With Joyful Confidence

"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21 Paul was in prison when he wrote these remarkably optimistic words. He faced the very real possibility of execution, and while he indicated elsewhere in the letter his expectation of release he could not be sure. Even if he were to once again evade capital punishment his long and varied experience with prisons, shipwrecks, beatings, and general privation I’m sure he knew that, from a worldly point of view, his life was not going to end easily or comfortably. He did not care. All death meant to

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When God Feels Distant

“For through Him we both have the right of entry in one Spirit to the Father.” Eph. 2:18 Ephesians is Paul’s most lovely and soaring letter. He touches on themes of such grand and sweeping importance that even he gets caught up in the excitement. The longest sentences in all of Paul’s writings are in Ephesians. Two of his main themes are in the verse for this week’s GraceWaves. First we see unity. Paul was formerly a dedicated schismatic. For him the world consisted of two groups: the Jews and the Gentiles. To be fair from the other side, the

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The Wise Foolishness of Christianity

“God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” 1 Cor. 1:27 I collect stories of how reluctant people come to believe in the existence of God, or at least acknowledge the tremendous value of faith. Let me share four with you. First, Dr. Anthony Flew (d. 2010) was a philosophy professor at Reading University in England, author of numerous works and also the world’s leading atheist. As recently as 2001 he reiterated that position in a paper entitled, “Sorry to Disappoint, but I’m Still

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