Monthly Archives

August 2019


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“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe ….” (Ephesians 1:15-19)

“[And]that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Read Paul’s prayers for you, me and the Church in Ephesians 1 and 3. When you are finished, pray, and read them again.

Then join me in a heart-felt confession of how dismally low our 21st century American expectations of God and His people have been. God invites us to be filled with all the fullness of God, but far too many of us concentrate instead on using good music, entertaining sermons and easy invitations to keep people in our pews. We truly deserve to be the ones Jesus addresses as “O, ye of little faith”. (Matthew 6:30, 8:6;16:8)

Ephesians is, of all Paul’s letters, the one most focused on the Church: her identity, her purpose, and her Spirit-empowered abilities. It was written when Christian men and women were a very small minority in the powerful, pagan Roman empire. In the face of constant political, religious, and demonic persecution, those Christians changed the world.

Contrast this with today. As one example, according to Pew Research Center, 56% of Americans believe in the God described in the Bible – a disturbing historical decrease, but still much greater than the 4.5% of Americans who identify as LGBTQ. Yet, during the last decade, which group has brought about the greatest changes in our culture.

The gay lobby has experienced incredible “success” because they are committed, prioritized, united and proactive in embracing their “identity” and purpose. As Bible-believing Christians, we know God loves them, but we also know God is not on their side when it comes to sexuality and marriage. God is on our side, but we are nevertheless losing the culture war because we are not committed, prioritized, united and proactive in embracing our identity in Christ and our Kingdom mission.

There are some steps being taken in the right direction. Last Saturday’s Unashamed Prayer Rally and March brought between 1,000-2,000 Christians together downtown for earnest prayer. This has never happened before in the history of Kingsport!

Recent tent revivals have led over 1,000 people to Christ in Bristol, Greeneville, Chuckey and, now, Rogersville. Adoration 2019 will bring hundreds of churches together for worship at the ETSU Mini-Dome on September 28. The Will Graham Celebration in 2018 also brought churches together and hundreds of souls to Jesus.

However, these are just initial steps toward where the Lord is directing us. We are called to spread His Kingdom by making disciples of all nations. Yet 60% of millennials raised in our own churches have dropped out, and the statistics for Generation Z will be even worse. Our existing wineskins are not working! We must change our ways!

Christians are more than just sinners saved by grace or humans trying to be better humans. We are God’s chosen race and holy nation; His royal priesthood and house of prayer; His blood-bought, born again, newly created children, both indwelt and divinely empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are the Body of Christ, with the ever-victorious King Jesus as our Head and the keys of His Kingdom in our possession. God loves us beyond measure and is for us, so who can stand against us? Nothing is impossible for those who truly believe.

It is time to get committed, prioritized, united and proactive. Pastors and other spiritual leaders: equip and exhort the saints for ministry. Let’s start living out who we really are and what we are really called to do! (2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 60:1-3; Matthew 16:15-19)

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ….” (Philippians 1:27a)

Over the last 27 years, it has been my calling and privilege to participate in many prayer efforts in our region. I am particularly excited about a group of young adult Christians in Johnson City who have since January been gathering downtown at 7 PM for prayer six nights per week (Monday-Saturday).

The divine vision for this prayer ministry was given to one young man, but he shares the leadership of the gatherings with other young men and women. Each time I attend, I am richly blessed by their reverent love for the Lord, their unashamed faith in His Word, and their strong desire to draw near to Him and serve Him.

On my last occasion there, one young man fervently prayed this phrase: “I want to live a life worthy of the gospel.”

I was riveted, humbled, even awestruck, to hear someone that new to adulthood crying out for such a spiritually mature and selfless life purpose. And I knew the intensity of the moment came in part because I could not recall any other time when I heard that phrase prayed or preached … including by me.

As someone who trusts in and seeks to diligently study the Bible, I was very familiar with the call to and cost of Christian discipleship. Some would even describe me as an exhorter of obedience, service, and sacrifice. “Worthy” was, however, a word I would normally only apply to God, not to my own life.

It was only after I returned home that evening that I identified Philippians 1:27 as the scriptural source of my young brother’s prayer and recognized this call to a gospel-worthy life as a repeated theme of the apostle Paul. (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12)

What does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ, or as those other scriptures might add, worthy of our God, our Lord and our calling as His disciples?

The first thing we must understand is that we are not called to a life “worthy” of our salvation, because we are not remotely capable of earning atonement of our sins and the incredible gift of everlasting life. (Ephesians 2:1-8)

Instead, we are called to a life worthy of our Savior and His sacrifice for us, worthy of our Father’s love that sent His Son to die for us, worthy of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, and worthy of our incredible calling to witness this Good News to others by all we say and do. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 4:1-16).

I believe a life worthy of the gospel of Christ begins with daily gratitude for all God has done and is doing for us. (Psalm 100:4; Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:6-7). How many of us spend much of our life taking God and His blessings for granted?

The second key to a life worthy of the gospel is childlike humility: recognizing who God really is, who we are in comparison, and how dependent upon Him we are. (Matthew 18:1-4) Pride and self-centeredness are the bane of the Church in America. (James 4:6-10; Luke 9:23-24)

Our gratitude and humility can give birth to the third essential of a gospel-worthy life: trusting obedience. Real faith in Jesus as Lord is revealed by actions, not just talk. (Matthew 7:21; John 14:21; James 2:14-26)

Trusting obedience requires us to serve the Lord by a life of serving others. (Mark 9:35; John 13:3-17) Yet how many of us can presently say we expect to enter heaven and hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? (Matthew 25:14-30) How many of us risk hearing, “What you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for Me.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Finally, a gospel-worthy life is a life of agape love: the unconditional, selfless, forgiving, sacrificial love revealed in Christ that we are to have for God, all others, and even ourselves. (Mark 12:28-34; John 13:34-35; Ephesians 4:30-5:2) Without agape love, we accomplish nothing. (1 Corinthians 13). And this love must, like trusting obedience, be in truth and deed. (1 John 3:18)

My description of a life worthy of the gospel may make it seem completely out of reach, but remember, the God who calls us to this life lives within our “clay jars” to empower it, even beyond our ability to ask or imagine! (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 3:20-21) He is ready to talk with us all the time. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) He can fill our hearts with agape love. (Romans 5:5) He can lead us into all truth. (John 16:13) If God is for us …? (Romans 8:31)

Are you living a life worthy of the gospel? If not, there is no better time to begin.

God bless you, and God bless our community.