GraceWaves Articles

Grace to Remember

“The memory of the righteous is a blessing.” Proverbs 10:7 The Memorial Day weekend has prompted me to consider the importance of remembering, and the grace God gives us to remember. Remembering is a minor feature of our early years when we see the future spread out before us and imagine all the awaiting possibilities. As we grow older the focus shifts to the past by a few percentage points each year. This is not a bad thing at all, for as we gather experiences, as families grow, and as friends sift in and out of our lives we simply

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Chipped and Flawed

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 When you enter the business of ministry, that is, you study and go to seminary, you take on a few role-models, people you really look up to. I have many all-time favorites, but one of them in particular illustrates Paul’s point in this verse: J. B. Phillips. Phillips was an outstanding Christian leader, a scholar of the first rank, and a marvelous author. Years after I began to admire and learn from him I ran across

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Of Finches and Faith

“My God shall supply every need of yours according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 Many Christians remind me of house finches. I speak as an expert here, both in house finches and nervous Christians. Outside one of my former offices, the lovely but nervous little birds made their annual nests and raised the next generation. Every spring I watched their courting, nest building, and fledgling-raising. The next time you are in a pet store, notice the finches. Their eyes are on the sides of their heads. This arrangement gives them a nearly 360 degree view of

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Responding to End-of-the-World Predictions

May 21st is the latest end of the world prediction date, or the next one in line. Don’t confuse it with the end of the world prediction for 2012 which comes from the Mayans. No, the May 21st date is from a Christian minister and is being promoted by a group of people in rv’s traveling about the country trumpeting the warning. I am not making this up. If you want to spend/waste a few minutes google the phrase “end of the world predictions” and browse through the offerings. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of predictions have come and gone in the

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Your Joyous Difficult Day

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 As you read the above scripture, you are in the beginning, middle, or end of a day. Does Psalm 118:24 apply? Of course it does. You may object that you have had a hard day, or you are anticipating a hard day. Things are not going the way you planned. In fact, this day may be tougher than the previous few. The road ahead looks equally hard. Some people, even some Christians, would say it’s unrealistic to rejoice in a difficult day.

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Cool Your Tongue

“So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire!” James 3:5-6 This week’s text contains a good measure of warning, but also great comfort. We all need to hear the warning, and all of us need the comfort. James repeatedly wrote of the dangers of the way we speak. This theme in his book of wisdom echoes a major topic in the Old Testament book of wisdom, Proverbs. Proverbs contains humorous warnings about speech: “A fool takes no pleasure in

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The Afterglow of Easter

“Go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him, as He told you." Mark 16:7 I’ve never mocked folks who just show up to church on Easter and Christmas. Something has drawn them to the services, and it’s probably more than just guilt or a grandmother’s demands. There’s something there they want, and the “thin places” of our holiest days, when matters of the spirit are especially close, draw people to church. As a preacher, I don’t want to make them feel any more uncomfortable than they already are. I’m

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Pausing for Good Friday

“And He began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things, to be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and scribes, and to be killed; and after three days to rise again.” Mark 8:31 I didn’t grow up with Good Friday. Literally. Part of the backwash in some segments of the Reformation was avoiding the Christian Year, and in my church we didn’t observe Holy Week or even Good Friday. Or Ash Wednesday or Advent or Epiphany, etc. And I didn’t know what a Maundy was. The cross was preached well

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For All the "Stretched Saints"

“No test has overtaken you that is not common to all people. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the test will provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 We are more familiar with the translation that reads “no temptation.” The word Paul used, however, means any kind of test. If we limit the word only to a temptation to sin, then we miss the larger context Paul intended. Yes we all struggle with sin to a certain degree, but the tests

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Pray with Thanksgiving

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 We find various forms of “do not be anxious” sprinkled throughout the Bible. Jesus devoted a great deal of the Sermon on the Mount to the crippling effects of anxiety and His solution to it (Matt. 6:25-34). In the passage for today’s Gracewaves, Paul again reminded us to “be anxious for nothing,” and he provided an important

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Living the Ordinary Life Extraordinarily Well

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 “Whatever you do” and “do everything” clearly cover every aspect of life. What did Paul have in mind here? For the average Christian, whatever that may be, what is the “whatever and everything” of life? The mistake we typically make is to limit “whatever and everything” to the realm of “highly spiritual events” in which everything that happens every day must be by the hand of Almighty God. I once heard a minister

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Serving God Eternally

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Philippians 1:21 When King Hezekiah was terminally ill, he prayed, and God responded by adding 15 years to his life (Isaiah 38). This prayer is natural and normal. We all would pray in this way and be grateful to God for any healing that He gave us. However, the difference between Hezekiah and a Christian is important. He feared “going down to the pit,” (Isa. 38:18), or Sheol, the hopeless place where all the dead were consigned to a kind of shadowy half-life. He wanted to live because of

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The Spirit Reminds

“These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:25-26 Jesus spoke these words the night He was betrayed. The next day He would die on the cross. He knew it, and so did His disciples. These stunned and bewildered men felt their hope dying within them. The Gospel of John provides unique insight into those tremulous hours, recording Jesus’ efforts to teach

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The Spirit in Our Prayers

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs that cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26 This verse is a favorite for many Christians, but before we delve into the particulars let’s begin by noticing an important admission by Paul: he did not know how to pray as he should. In any list of “the most important Christians of the first century” I would wager Paul is going to make the top three. So here we have one of the greatest Christians,

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Wither or Witness?

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat come, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 The book of Jeremiah is not easy reading. His words are harsh, but the times were harsh. Generations of unfaithfulness had rendered the people spiritually weak and insensitive. Jeremiah’s task was to shake them up. Typical of all prophets,

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