GraceWaves Articles

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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:

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

Join Me in Israel and Rome!

"Walk Where Jesus Walked" Have you ever thought about taking a trip that could deepen your faith? I visited Israel years ago, but the warmth of the experience still stirs my soul. I remember Bethlehem in particular. An ancient church marks the spot where tradition claims Jesus was born. The entrance is low, about four feet, so I bowed to leave the glaring streets and enter the cool shadows of the basilica. A faint smell of incense lingered and shafts of colored light through stain glass bathed the line of whispering worshipers. I entered the small area where a fourteen-point

Read more

Fear and Allergies

“Surely God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2 Ever had allergies? I’ve had minor trouble occasionally, but nothing like as bad as my son, Gregory. He went through years of sniffling, coughing, and wheezing before we took him to an allergist. You probably know the drill. She performed tests on the little guy to find out what he was allergic to. Turns out it was only two things: indoors and outdoors. So glad we narrowed it down. What to do? We could encase him in a bubble with filtered air, but I wanted a

Read more

Ready to be Healed?

“When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” John 5:6 Are you familiar with the word bilious? The first time I heard it, I wasn’t sure what it meant. Something to do with bile, I supposed. Later I learned from the dictionary that it means “relating to or containing bile,” and “a sickly yellowish color” At least I had the bile part right. The woman who used the word was an elderly lady in a former church who was describing for me the

Read more

Loved

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 Let’s think about God’s love this week. Nothing could possibly be more important than the fact that God loves us. Nothing. Think of the two options. If God doesn’t love us then we are absolutely lost, facing an eternal and hopeless fate. An implacably angry God, or a even a distant, uncaring God sends a shiver through my soul. But if God does love us, then the clouds of hopelessness part, a shining eternity dawns, and a smiling God walks with us. God’s love infuses each day, and every moment,

Read more

One Day at a Time

“When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another ‘what is it?’” Exodus 16:15 Leslie recently said to me, “I was hoping by this age to have a few more things settled.” It reminded me of a similar line from an elderly lady who said she thought that life would become clearer and even easier as she aged. “It hasn’t,” she said, “and I’m soooo disappointed!” When we’re children we’re sure that by the time we’re the age of an older sibling, or cousin, or whatever, that everything will be so much easier. I can recall a

Read more