GraceWaves Articles

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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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

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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

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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

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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,

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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

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My Daughter the Catholic

“There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.” Ephesians 4:4-6 Lauren, my daughter, will be confirmed as a Catholic this coming Tuesday and receive the Eucharist. After nearly a year or more of prayer, discussions with a trusted friend, and RCIA classes she’s made this decision. I’ve enjoyed our own discussions about this change. We’ve spent many a lunch hour parsing this and that. As usual, Lauren has been thorough. When she had her first confession earlier this week I asked if she’d made a spread sheet. Her texted

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Is This Honorable?

“Whatever is honorable, think on this.” Philippians 4:8 Have you ever been in a sanctuary alone? I have often. Having been a pastor for 35 years there were times when it seemed like I was contractually obligated to stay until everyone else went home. Kind of like the captain not leaving the ship until everyone else is rescued. The minister’s family loathes this, of course, because it means being last in line at the Piccadilly. But often it comes with the territory. Sunday nights were my favorite time to be there alone. In several churches some of the light switches

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Show Grace to Everyone

“Let your forbearance be made known to all.” Philippians 4:5 When was the last time you used the word “forbearance?” Have you ever used the word? It’s not in the typical vocabulary. It sounds a little old. Perhaps a little churchy. Have you ever said to your spouse during a vigorous discussion “I am forbearing you?” Probably not. Trust me. It doesn’t help anything. One of my all-time favorite passages of scripture is Philippians 4:4-8. In fact, the whole book is one of my favorites and has been for a very long time. I remember Bob Justus, the associate pastor

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Grrrrumbling!

“Do everything without grumbling.” Philippians 2:14 Grumble. It’s onomatopoetic. The first two letters sound like a growl. Grrrr. Many people grumble their way through life, always growling about this or that, or this AND that. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. You might be the kind of person I’m talking about. Grumblers are everywhere. In one of my churches many years ago was an elderly fellow I’ll call Sam. Sam had been in that church since its founding I believe. He had served it faithfully in many, many ways. But he was a grumbler. That man could

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How to Stop Pushing Others Off the Bridge

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; for all of you are one in Christ.” Galatians 3:28 It’s a long, old joke, but still funny and sets up the main issue I want to tackle in this week’s offering: “I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious

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Grace-Weavers

“So will I save you, and you shall be a blessing.” Zechariah 8:13 Many Christians avoid “the little books” of the Old Testament. The collection of minor prophets (they’re even called “minor!”) at the end of the first part of the Bible contains obscure references and often harsh language. But as in all parts of the Bible you find the inspiration if you simply look a little more closely Here’s an example: “And as you have become a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you and you shall

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Life Is for Learning

“You believe in Him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy!” 1 Peter 1:8 One of my favorite, old rock songs is Woodstock by Joni Mitchell, who looks and sounds like a woodland elf. I sometimes prefer the Crosby, Stills, Nash version when I want a little more traditional crashing guitar. Also I ran across a recent version by Good Harvest, a female duet, that is harmonic gold and surely worth a listen. The second stanza has the wonderful lyric “I don’t know who I am, but life is for learning.” It reminds me that I don’t have everything nailed

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The Chain of Faith

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 Faith. It’s a mysterious, wonderful, puzzling word. A stumbling block for some, a laughingstock for others, a lifeline for many. What is faith? Let’s start with an analogy. We have five senses, or faculties. You’re using the sense of sight right now to read this, as I am to type it. My air conditioner is running, and I hear the blower. That is the sense of hearing. I can’t smell anything in particular right now, but a few minutes ago my Schnauzer came in to see me and her breath

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Seeing God

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8 Seeing God sounds like a fantasy of the first order, yet I believe everyone, if offered the opportunity, would deeply want to see God. The Bible records a few scenes where people actually saw God. In the Garden, God communed with Adam and Eve in such a familiar way that we might imagine they actually saw God. Of course, the most memorable passage about seeing God is when Moses asked to see Him and God replied that this was impossible, for to do so would result in

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