Christian Writing


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“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

God wants us to change our minds.

If you are a “not-yet Christian,” God wants you to change your mind about how you can receive everlasting life through Jesus. (John 1:12-13, 3:16)

If you are a Christian, God wants you to know the change in mind that brought you into everlasting life was only the first change in mind He desires for you. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

I have repeatedly asserted that “agape” love is the fundamental law of God’s Kingdom, and it is, but the fundamental battleground for God’s kingdom on earth is the mind. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

What we think, consciously and subconsciously, continually dictates how we feel: love, peace, joy, hope, and a sense of purpose, on the one hand, or fear, anxiety, anger, isolation, depression, and aimlessness. Which set of emotions dominates our nation and world today? Which set reflects your own life and the lives of those around you?

Even more important, what we think and how we feel then combine to dictate what we choose in every circumstance based upon what we consider important, possible, desirable, frightening, and good or evil.

We have all learned, often the hard way, that we are never fully in control of our circumstances. Our only control is our ability to make choices based upon the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Do we want those choices grounded in truth or lies? (Psalm 51:6; Proverbs 23:23)

Satan, the consummate enemy of God and humankind, is “the father of lies,” and “the deceiver of the whole world.” (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9) This deceived and broken world has been teaching us life lessons and developing our worldview since birth.

To counteract this, God sent His Son Jesus: the Truth, the Word made flesh, and the light of the world. (John 1:1-14, 8:12, 14:6) God also gave us His Holy Spirit of truth, who can lead us into all truth. (John 16:13-14) And through the Holy Spirit, God gave us the Bible, the Spirit-breathed scriptures that teach us what we need to know and do. (2 Timothy 3:3-16-17; Psalms 1, 119)

The gospel invitation to the lost is, “Repent and believe!” (Mark 1:14-15, 6:12; Luke 24:45-47; Acts 2:38-39, 17:30-31) The Greek word used for “repent” is “metanoia”, which means “change your mind”. The truth sets you free. (John 8:32)

And because the mind remains the fundamental battleground after you become a Christian, Paul tells the Christians in Rome to keep renewing their minds and transforming their lives by learning and obeying all that Jesus teaches and commands. (Matthew 7:24-27, 28:19-20; James 1:22-25; Acts 2:42) This is how we show our love for the Lord and how He manifests Himself to us. (John 14:21-23) More truth sets us more free.

The Greek word used in Romans 12:2 for “transformed” is “metamorphoo.” It indicates major change, and so, today, we use the word, “metamorphosis,” to describe how caterpillars become butterflies and tadpoles become frogs. 2 Corinthians 3:18 describes our process of metamorphosis, one glorious step at a time, into the image of Christ.

The Greek word used for “renewal” of our mind is “anakainosis.”  It also indicates major change – making something superior to what it was before. Transformation then comes about by what Paul calls “testing” (or “proving”): the Greek word “dokimazo,” which means to learn by examination and actual use.

Because the Spirit who inspired the Bible now lives in us, we have access to the mind of Christ and can, through our application of what we learn, understand things of God our natural minds could never comprehend. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16) God reframes our worldview and understanding of reality so “the eyes of our hearts” are enlightened, we know His perfect will, and we know the hope to which He has called us. (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 1:18-21)

My friends, our nation and the world are going dark. God calls us to be the light, which means we must be in the world but not of the world. (Matthew 5:14; Isaiah 60:1-3; John 17:15-18)

To be that light, we must have a biblical worldview. We must be convinced that all scripture is God-breathed, that every scripture is to be understood in the context of all other scripture, and that we have no right to delete or disregard the portions we do not like, do not understand, or have never experienced (2 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 13:53-58; Revelation 22:18-19).

And since the traditions and doctrines of man, including denominational institutions, are not scripture, we have no right to treat them as though they are (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Colossians 2:8).

We need to change our minds, and we need to do it now.

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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“He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness ….” (Matthew 6:33)

“For the Kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. (Romans 14:17)

Every Christian is thrilled to declare God is love.  But we often gloss over the truth God is also the Righteous One who calls His people to righteousness. (Acts 22:14, Matthew 6:33) This term, “righteous”, appears in scripture over five hundred times.  Yet most of us would struggle to define it.  

Righteousness is about right rather than wrong and good rather than evil.  It is the opposite of “sin”.  And it can never mean “self-righteousness” because we are not capable of being right, good, or sin-free on our own. (Romans 3:9-23)

The righteousness we must pursue is not our own.  It is “the righteousness of God” we receive “through faith in Jesus Christ”. (Romans 3:22) But be careful how you understand this!  The righteous live by faith. (Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4) The righteous are doers of the Word, not just hearers. (Romans 2:13; James 1:22-25)

Put another way, the righteous live in right relationship with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are children of God who truly trust Jesus and want to follow Him, not just get a ticket to heaven. (1 John 3:1-10) We have decided God is the only One with the authority and ability to determine what is right and wrong, and that the Bible reveals those life standards to us. (Genesis 2:17, 3:4-6; Isaiah 5:20; 2 Timothy 3:1-7, 16-17) We know God’s Holy Spirit lives within us and we seek to be led by Him – the Spirit of our Lord. (Galatians 5:25; Romans 8:14; John 15:16:13-15; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

We are not required to be stumble-free. We are clay jars – God’s works in progress – learning each day how to put off the old self and put on the new self. (2 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 1:6, 2:12-13; Ephesians 4:20-24) When we fall short, and we will, we repent, confess our sins, and receive with gratitude His blood-bought forgiveness. (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:5-9)

Those who know their Shepherd’s voice can be led obediently in paths of righteousness. (Psalm 23:3) When we stray, we receive our Father’s loving discipline, which may be painful at first but soon restores both righteousness and our peace in Christ. (Hebrews 12:11) This is the “easy” way, led by the One who is the Way. (Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:6) 

“Easy” does not mean trouble-free or persecution-free because when you walk like Jesus, you will be persecuted by God’s enemies like Jesus. (John 15:18-25, 16:33) Some of those enemies will be in the Church. (Matthew 23:13; John 8:42-47; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15) But you can know them by their fruit and be strengthened by the Prince of Peace who lives in you and has overcome the world. (Matthew 7:15-20; Isaiah 9:6; John 14:27, 16:33)

The heartbeat of righteousness is selfless, unconditional love in truth and deed for God and everyone God loves. (Matthew 5:43-48, 22:35-40; 1 John 3:18, 4:7-12) If we don’t get love right, we are nothing, have nothing, and gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) 

But we must remember that this love rejoices in the truth and never rejoices in wrongdoing. (1 Corinthians 13:6) We love the Lord and abide in His love by having and keeping all His commandments. (John 14:21-23, Matthew 28:18-20) And we do not use grace as an excuse to compromise His standards of righteousness for our lives. (Romans 6:1-18)

Compromise is systemic in today’s culture, particularly as to sexuality, materialism, and idolatry. But nothing has compromised righteousness in our churches today more than politics on both sides of the aisle. We have forgotten that with God, the ends do not justify the means, and we can only overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) In our efforts to support the issues of righteousness most important to us, we have yoked ourselves to unrighteousness on other issues. (2 Corinthians 6:14) We have failed to understand that truth without love is not God’s truth, and love without truth is not God’s love. (Ephesians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 13:6) 

We want what God wants: righteousness for our nation, but we must understand that “it starts with me”. (Proverbs 14:34; Isaiah 6:1-8) We cooperate with Jesus, who authored our faith and seeks to perfect it, by laying aside every sin and weight in our lives that hinders our loving witness for Him. (Hebrews 12:1-2; Acts 1:8)

Our reward for pursuing righteousness will be twofold. In the life to come, we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21, 23) While we await that day, we can experience the Kingdom of God on earth: the peace and joy in the Holy Spirit that is available for those who seek righteousness with their whole heart. (Romans 14:17; Matthew 5:6; Jeremiah 29:13)

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life…. She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy…. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

… Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ … A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:10-12, 20, 25-26, 28-29, 30b) 

May 26, 2023 will be the 50th anniversary of my marriage to my beloved Christie. We will not be able to celebrate it together because she went to heaven on September 5, 2020. With your permission, I will celebrate with you.

During the seventeen years I have provided columns for this good newspaper, I have written three columns directly related to marriage. “Divorce is a Preventable Disease” is available on our Friends of the King Ministries website. “Love Your Loved Ones with God’s Love” and “The Devil’s Marriage Strategy: Divide & Conquer” are both available in my book, “Moon in the Darkness”. Anyone who wishes a copy of these columns can email me through the website and I will be happy to send them to you.

Also available on our website is the column I wrote in the immediate aftermath of Christie’s departure for heaven: “Arise, My Love, My Beautiful One, and Come Away”. That column said what I was able to share then. This column says what I am now able to share after over two years as a widower. And while I offer these thoughts as a husband reflecting on the blessing of his wife, they are equally applicable to a wife reflecting on the blessing of her husband.

Every marriage is different, no marriage is perfect, and because we do not work on our marriages as diligently as we should, no marriage is as wonderful as it could be. But if you love your spouse like I have loved Christie and then become a widow or widower, I can assure you of some things you will never say. 

You will never say, “I told her ‘I love you’ too often.”

You will never say, “I held her in my arms too often”; “We held hands too often”; or “I kissed her too often”.

You will never say, “I spent too much time with her”; “I watched her while she went about her day too often”; or “I listened attentively while she told me about her day too often.”

You will never say, “I asked her what she would like me to do for her too often”; or “I asked her what she would like to do and where she would like to go too often”; or “I asked her about her dreams and aspirations for life too often.”

You will never say, “I brought her flowers too often”; or “I spent too much time watching her while she slept beside me”.

You will never say, “I praised her for her good character and beauty of heart too often”.

You will never say, “I wish we had argued more”; or “I wish I had insisted on having my way more often”; or “I didn’t get angry at her enough”.

You will never say, “I asked her if I had done anything that hurt her too often”; or “I apologized too often and too deeply in those times when I knew I hurt her”.

You will never say, “I thanked God for her too often”; or “I talked with her about the Lord and His kingdom too often”.

You will never say, “I prayed for her too often”; or “I prayed with her too often”; or “I sat in the manifest presence of the Lord with her too often”.

I miss Christie every day but would never ask the Lord to send her back to me. For a Christian, … to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21) And just to make sure I personally understand what God’s word tells us on this point, the Lord spoke directly to me during a prayer time at Friends of the King about eighteen months ago. 

He said: “Doug, Christie is everywhere you would want her to be, except with you.” 

By reading this column today, you help me celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary. Thank you! If you are married and want to help me celebrate even more, please let what I have shared here become a blessing for your beloved wife or husband.

God bless you, and God bless our community. 


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Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)


Christians call today Good Friday because on this day almost 2,000 years ago Jesus died on a cross in full payment for all the sins of all people for all time. (1 John 2:2) But it would not be Good Friday unless followed on Sunday by Resurrection Day! Jesus conquered death and is alive forever! Hallelujah! (Revelation 1:17-18)

All four of the Gospels provide vivid descriptions of the crucifixion and resurrection, but I have chosen for this column the summary of both given by Paul to the Philippians. This concise passage provides a contrast we must understand between the humility of Jesus as the Lamb of God and the exaltation of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (John 1:29; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14, 19:6)   

The resurrection of Jesus gloriously demonstrates His victory over death for Himself and all who put their trust in Him. (Romans 6:3-5) But we cannot let our understanding stop there. We must embrace how the resurrection of Jesus proclaims His Kingdom in heaven and on earth. The gospel is not simply a gospel of salvation. It is the gospel of the Kingdom.

From the outset of His ministry on earth, Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom. (Matthew 4:23, 9:35) He sent forth His disciples, and later Paul, to do the same. (Matthew 10:7; Acts 28:23, 31) Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus declared the end of the age would not come until this gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed throughout the world. (Matthew 24:14) 

After His resurrection, Jesus remained on earth forty days before ascending to heaven so that He could teach His disciples even more about the Kingdom. (Acts 1:3) And just before His ascension, Jesus boldly proclaimed His Kingdom with these words:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The Kingdom of God is the loving, wise, benevolent rule of God over those who love, trust, and obey Him. God created both heaven and earth as expressions of this Kingdom, but as we all know, mankind sinned and earth came under the dominion of darkness. (Genesis 3; Colossians 1:13; 1 John 5:19)

Heaven is the unimaginably wonderful place it is because it remains a perfect expression of the Kingdom of God. (Luke 23:43; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 21) God’s goal is to destroy the works of the devil and restore His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. (1 John 3:8; Matthew 6:9-10; Colossians 1:15-23) Put otherwise, God’s response to insurrection is the resurrection, through which the Son of Man became King of earth as well as heaven, disarming the enemy and taking possession of the keys of death and Hades. (Colossians 2:15; Revelation 1:18; Matthew 25:31-34)

Because it is the gospel of the Kingdom, you cannot have forgiveness without repentance – a change of mind, heart, and life direction. (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 2 Peter 3:9) Our King calls for disciples who seek to learn and obey His commandments because the faith that embraces the grace gift of salvation must be a sincere decision to trust and follow Him. (Mark 8:34-38; Matthew 7:21-27; 1 John 2:1-6, 3:4-6) 

As we gather this Sunday to proclaim – “He is risen!” – I pray we will all remember who our risen Savior is. Every born-again Christian has received God’s Holy Spirit so we can be divinely enabled to love, trust, and obey the Lord. (1 Corinthians 12:3; John 14:15-23) As we do so, we reveal the Kingdom of God to the lost people of this broken world, and He has promised we will experience both the joy of the Lord and His peace. (1 Peter 2:9; Romans 14:17; Nehemiah 8:10; John 14:27)

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the
devil a foothold…. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of
malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave
you.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-32 NIV


I have been engaged in “prayer & counsel” ministry and mediation of family conflicts for 25
years. The most destructive single force I have encountered in people’s lives is unresolved anger.

Anger is a God-given emotion with a godly but limited purpose. When we experience injustice or
see evil victimizing others, a righteous anger can arise in us to motivate action. We are created in God’s
image and such emotion imitates God’s wrath against evil. (Psalm 7:11) Jesus cleared the temple in
righteous anger. (John 2:13-17)

However, unlike the Lord, we far too often sin in our anger. We respond to evil with evil. One
killing leads to another in Palestine and one cruel word leads to another in our living room spat. We
forget that the Lord commands us to be kind to our enemy and overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-

We also go to bed still angry, and usually this unresolved anger is not just a one-night stand. We
can hold on to that anger for years. It is killing us.

Anger comes in varied forms: bitterness, rage, obsessive thoughts of revenge, long-term
frustration, or even cynicism, which is looking at the world through anger-colored glasses.

These angers come from hurts in varied degrees of severity: injustices both real and perceived to
our person, our pride or someone we love. Some angers are recent. Many are childhood hurts from abuse
or rejection. You can be angry with others, yourself, or even God.

When sincere apologies are offered, or justice served through restitution or punishment, we can
usually release our anger. But when those things don’t occur, the anger stays with us. It may remain in
our conscious thoughts or it may be stuffed in a memory closet, but it will not – I repeat – will not go
away on its own. It cripples our ability to love or receive love. It gnaws away at our whole person,
resulting in physical problems like sleeplessness, digestive troubles, headaches, or worse. As we come to
conclude “things will never be made right”, it even becomes the root for chronic depression.

The Prince of Peace has the answer to this bondage. The Lord will, if we ask, remove that anger
and heal those hurts. But He will not do so until we obey His command. We must choose to forgive.

Forgiveness is a “very big deal” to our Lord. It is the only lesson Jesus reemphasizes in the Lord’s
Prayer. (Matthew 6:14-15) It is the first action Jesus took from the cross: “Father, forgive them….” (Luke

There were no apologies or restitutions taking place when Jesus forgave those who hurt Him.
Their hearts were still filled with hate and evil. He forgave to keep anger and hate out of His own heart.
We must do likewise.

Reconciliation and restored relationships are God’s goal. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) But
reconciliation is mutual. It requires both parties, and in many situations, the one who hurt you cannot or
will not cooperate. You cannot control their choices. All you can do is your part. (Romans 12:18) You
must forgive anyway for your own health and relationship with God.

God wants you freed. (2 Corinthians 3:17) Ask Him to reveal where your unresolved angers are
rooted. You may benefit from the help of a mature Christian you trust. But don’t let the grass grow under
your feet. The devil has had his foothold long enough.

Remember the act of forgiveness is a choice to obey God even when your feelings say, “No!”
God will help your feelings change as He cleanses you from the anger and begins to heal your heart.
(Psalm 147:3)

If you have unresolved self-condemnation, forgive yourself. You cannot properly “love your
neighbor as yourself” until you forgive yourself, so join God in His forgiveness of you. (Galatians 5:14) It
will give you a fresh start in life. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And when forgiving still feels like it is too unfair and too hard to do, remember this: When Jesus
paid the price for your sins, He also paid the price for the sins of others against you. (1 John 2:2) Any
remaining issues of justice to be addressed can be entrusted to the One who will judge everyone. (Acts
10:42; Romans 12:19) You must let that burden go. Then you will be free.

God bless you, and God bless our community.



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Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him (or her), and he in God. (1 John 4:15)

… God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22)

Every biblically grounded Christian knows you receive the Holy Spirit when you embrace Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38-39). Amidst the debates on what that means today in terms of spiritual gifts, we have tragically failed to answer the more important question: Who is the Holy Spirit we have received? 

The Holy Spirit is God! 

It is time for the Church to fully embrace the marvelous mysterious truth of the Trinity: one God in three Persons. We know God as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit – three Persons. But how many Gods are there? One (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; Romans 3:30; Galatians 3:20; James 2:19). 

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Triune Godhead. He proceeds from the Father through the Son to us but always remains eternally and perfectly one with the Father and the Son (John 15:26, 16:7-15; Galatians 4:6) When we are joined to the Lord through the Holy Spirit and become one spirit with Him, we amazingly become part of that divine connection! (1 Corinthians 6:17)

Jesus, Son of God, emptied Himself of His divine power to live among us in human form, for two reasons. (Philippians 2:6-7) First, this enabled Him to die for the sins of mankind. (1 John 2:2) Second, this enabled Him to show us how we should live our lives on earth as children of God, “walking” just He “walked”. (1 John 2:4-6, 5:1-3)

Acts 10:38 tells us Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil because God was with Him. Now, as His disciples, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and God is with us. Jesus sends us into the world in the same way the heavenly Father sent Him. So, why are we not doing the works that He did, and even greater works? (John 14:12)

My friends, we are not doing the works of love, truth, and power that Jesus did on earth because Jesus was perfectly aligned with the God who was with Him, and we are not. (John 10:30, 17:20-23) Far more often than not, we fail to deny self, abide in Him, and let His words abide in us. (Luke 9:23; John 15:5-7) 

To illustrate what I mean, remember how valves and nozzles are used to control the flow of water through a pipe or hose. When the valve or nozzle is properly aligned, water flows freely through both the intake and outlet. Without proper alignment, the water is partially or totally obstructed at the intake, the outlet, or both.

The Holy Spirit is described by Jesus as a fountain of living water flowing into us with eternal life, and as rivers of living water flowing out from our innermost being. (John 4:13-14; 7:37-38) Unfortunately, we can be out of alignment at our points of intake, outlet, or both.

Let me offer three fundamental ways we can better align with the God who lives in us.

First, we must have agape love for everyone God loves. (Matthew 5:43-48) The God who lives within you is love. (1 John 4:7, 16) Without agape love, you have no alignment at all. (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4:8, 20-21) It must be love in truth and deed. (1 John 3:18)

Second, we must trust the scriptures as the divinely inspired written revelation of truth concerning who God is, who we are, and how we are to live. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalms 1, 119; Matthew 28:18-20; John 14:21-23) Jesus is the Truth, and He came to fulfill scripture, not change it. (John 14:6; Matthew 5:17-19) When we try to change it – calling evil good and good evil because we are wise in our own eyes and lean on our own understanding – we become misaligned or even totally disengaged. (Isaiah 5:20-21; Proverbs 3:5-8; Matthew 7:21-27) 

Third, we must be humble before God and man. (James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 5:5) God despises pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. (Proverbs 8:13; Matthew 23:11-36) Proper alignment is being childlike before God and a loving servant to all. (Matthew 18:1-4; Mark 9:35)

If we align ourselves with the God who lives in us, we will experience an abiding revival that transforms our region.

God bless you and God bless our community.


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“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he [or she] it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)

God loves us unconditionally. When something is unconditional, it is absolute and without exception. It is – or it will happen – regardless of what else happens or what you do.

Matthew 5:43-48 reveals God’s love to be perfect, and for both the just and unjust. God showed His perfect love dramatically by sending His Son to die for all of us while we were still sinners. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 2:2) He is “no respecter of persons”, and desires everyone to repent and come into everlasting life. (Acts 10:34-35; 2 Peter 3:9)

The apostle John describes this unconditional love succinctly in the statement: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, 16) Love is not all that God is, for He is also sovereign, holy, righteous, wise, all-powerful, and just. But because God is love, His love permeates everything else He is and everything He does. He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Now for the paradox: although God loves us unconditionally, His unconditional love for us has conditions.

When something has conditions, one thing depends on another. If “A” happens, then “B” will happen or “B” can happen, but if “A” does not happen, do not expect “B” to happen.

The Old Testament covenant of the law was all about conditions. If you obey, you will receive wonderful blessings, but if you disobey, you will receive curses. (Deuteronomy 28)

The New Testament covenant in Christ removed the conditions of the law but did not remove all conditions. The easiest and most important example is the road to salvation. We are saved by grace – an incredible expression of God’s unconditional love – but only when we meet the condition of faith by trusting Jesus as our Savior Lord. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

With respect to God’s unconditional love, we now look at John 14:21, where Jesus promises that if we love Him by having and keeping His commandments, then He and the Father will love us, and Jesus will manifest Himself to us.

This scripture suggests that the love of Jesus and the Father may a divine response to our obedience of His commandments! And it is a condition Jesus repeats twice in the same discourse. At John 14:23, Jesus says the Father will love us, and both He and the Father will make their home in us, if we love Him by keeping His word. “If … then.” Conditions!

Then, at John 15:10, Jesus adds that we can abide in His love if we keep His commandments. Again, conditions!

To resolve this paradox of unconditional vs. conditional love, we need a better understanding of what love is.

Scripture commands that we love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. (Mark 12:30) For both God and people, love relates to all those aspects of who we are.

We love someone with our mind as an ethical and moral choice, wanting the best for another because we know that is the right thing for us to want. We love with our heart by feelings of caring or compassion. We love with our soul, or will, by making choices that express the love in our mind and heart. Likewise, we love with our strength by actions that demonstrate our love.

Love is relational. Love with our mind and heart determines our attitude toward another. Love with our soul and strength then completes the relational connection by expressing and demonstrating that love to the one we love. The goal is to love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, and to love in both deed and truth. (1Timothy 1:5; 1 John 3:18)

God loves all of us unconditionally with His divine heart and mind. But many of the glorious expressions and demonstrations of His love are, for our own good, subject to conditions. He loves us too much to reward continued sin and works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16-25) Instead, He rewards those who seek Him by doing His will. (Hebrews 11:6; 2 John 1:8-9; Psalm 24:2-5)

Do you want to know the love of God, and not just know of it? Do you want Jesus to manifest Himself in your life? Do you want to have the Father and the Son actively dwelling within you? Do you want to live each day breathing in the atmosphere of Christ’s love? Do you want to be filled with all the fullness of God? (Ephesians 3:17-19)

If you want this abundant life, then meet the conditions of God’s unconditional love. (John 10:10) Express your love for your Lord Jesus by doing your best to learn and keep all His commandments. This is not legalism. This is wisdom. This is the life of faith. (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 11:6-34)

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 2:30-37)


Luke was not one of the disciples who walked with Jesus during His three years of earthly ministry. For that reason, Luke carefully investigated everything before writing his Gospel. (Luke 1:1-4) His description of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus make it likely his investigation included a personal interview of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

It is in Luke that we learn Mary was a virgin, although betrothed; that she conceived a son in her womb through the Holy Spirit while still a virgin; and that the father of this son was not a man but instead, “the Most High” God we have come to know as the heavenly Father. (Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20)

Another Gospel, Matthew, verifies these facts from the perspective of Joseph, the man betrothed to Mary. (Matthew 1:16-25) Both John and Paul then expand upon our understanding of this miraculous birth with their explanations that God the Son – the Word through whom all things were created – emptied Himself so He could be born in human form and dwell among us. (John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:4-11) Wow!

While the majority of professing Christians in America today still believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, the numbers are steadily declining. The number of Christians who believe Jesus is God the Son, who existed prior to His human birth, has declined even more. And, most troubling to me, few people seem to care about this erosion of faith. Why?

As humanity has moved through the 18th century Ages of Reason and Romanticism to the Industrial Revolution and our present Age of Information, we have given ever-increasing preeminence to human reason, human experience, and science as the highest forms of knowledge. We tend to view the concept of divine revelation from God as primitive and outdated, and in the absence of divine revelation, a virgin birth sounds like an impossibility.

I offer four reasons why every Christian should believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.

First, Luke and Matthew clearly present their descriptions of these events as historical fact, not as myth or metaphor. If, based on our reason and experience, we determine that a virgin birth cannot and did not occur, then we are classifying these scriptures as fabrications and not fact– something “made up.” The Bible says God has inspired all scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) When we choose to determine for ourselves what portions of scripture to believe and not believe, we become the ones who are really “making it up”. The clay shapes the Potter into the image of the clay rather than the other way around. (Exodus 20:4; Isaiah 29:16, 64:8)

Second, the heart of the Gospel is the sacrifice of the sinless and unblemished Lamb of God for our sins. (John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:11-15) No person born of man and woman could qualify because all sin and fall short. (Romans 3:21) A sinless Father and a virgin womb impregnated by the power of the Holy Spirit was the only way.

Third, our faith in the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus prepares us for our faith in the miraculous births that follow. Before the resurrected Christ ascended to heaven, He told His disciples the Holy Spirit would “come upon” them, using the same words that Gabriel used when he explained how Mary would conceive. (Acts 1:8)

When we receive the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus, we are “born again,” “born of the Spirit,” and “born of God,” becoming children of God and new creations. (John 1:12-13, 3:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus, the only begotten and firstborn, now joined by millions of sisters and brothers. (John 3:16; Romans 8:29) Wow!

Fourth, as Gabriel declared to Mary, “… nothing will be impossible with God”!

Every time you see a nativity scene this Christmas season, remember: the mother at the manger was a virgin.

Have a blessed and merry Christmas!


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“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,  concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh  and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,  through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations….” (Romans 1:1-5)

“Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages  but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith –  to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)

Paul is the divinely inspired author of thirteen books of the New Testament. Unlike the original Galilean apostles, Paul was chosen as an apostle by Jesus after His resurrection. And unlike the original apostles, Paul was highly educated in the Hebrew scriptures – our Old Testament – and both Hebrew history and Hebrew law. (Acts 5:34, 22:3; Philippians 3:4-6) This, coupled with the direct revelation Paul received from Jesus Christ, empowered him to become our apostolic theologian. (Galatians 1:11-12)

Romans is Paul’s longest and most systematic work – an explanation of the “big picture”, if you will, as to why we needed Jesus, what Jesus has done, and what God expects of us. Both at the beginning and the end of Romans, Paul uses one phrase to describe what God has called him to bring about in all the nations: “the obedience of faith”.

What is the obedience of faith? Modern theologians seem to fall into two camps. 

One group, fearing the error of “cheap grace”, wants to honor the principle of James 2:14-26 that faith without works is dead. True faith will be evidenced by obedience even though it will be flawed obedience due to our imperfect state. 

The other group, fearing the error of legalism, wants to protect the principle of Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved by grace and not by works. The obedience of faith is primarily seen as obeying God’s command to trust what Jesus did on the cross for us. (Romans 10:9-13)

There is some truth in each of these positions, but in my opinion, both fail to capture what Paul really means.

We must first understand that God has always wanted our obedience. The fundamental prayer lesson of Jesus is that we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10) There is no disobedience in heaven!

God is God and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:5) Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with scriptures calling for our obedience of God’s commands. (Exodus 19:5-6; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6; Hebrews 5:8-10; 1 Peter 1:2, 14-15) The issue Paul is addressing in the phrase, “the obedience of faith”, is not about whether we should obey or how much we should obey. It is about our motivation for obedience.

To a Hebrew people getting to know God after centuries of Egyptian slavery, God’s covenant of the law offered two types of motivation: the obedience of fear and the obedience of quid pro quo. (Deuteronomy 28) They would be blessed in a multitude of ways if they obeyed Him, and they would be cursed in a multitude of ways if they disobeyed Him.

The obedience of quid pro quo is like the obedience of a hired servant who expects their wages if they do their job. The obedience of fear is like the obedience of a slave who fears the whip. God’s goal all along, however, was the obedience of faith: the willing and even enthusiastic obedience of children who love and trust their heavenly Father completely. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Luke 10:27; Matthew 18:1-4)

Through Jesus and all the events leading up to Jesus, God has revealed He loves us beyond measure. He is all-good, all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful and, as a result, completely trustworthy in all He does and all He commands us to do. So why would we ever want to disobey Him?

And through the sacrifice of Jesus, God has revealed He is all-merciful to His children and will forgive us when in our weakness, we fail to obey. (1 John 1:7-9)

Fear becomes reverent awe. Quid pro quo expectation of reward becomes a willingness to sacrifice on earth for treasures in heaven. (Matthew 19:21) We obey the Lord because we have complete faith in a God who is always right and never wrong, and because we love Him. (John 14:21-24)

God bless you and God bless our community.


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At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to Me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” Matthew 11:25-27)

“…You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

[As the Methodists where I began my life of ministry become the next denomination to go through a painful division over the issue of scriptural authority, I feel led to share this column from 2009.]

Soon after my return to the Lord in 1991, I heard a very helpful statement: “It’s not about religion – it’s about relationship!”

I do not remember who first spoke this truth to me, but I heard it often, and I am so grateful. As a warning, it saved me from falling into several “religious” traps. As a focus, it directed me into my own experience of fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus through the Holy Spirit. (1 John 1:3) 

Now there is another statement flowing through my spirit: “It’s not theology – it’s reality!” This truth also provides some useful warnings and focus to help us grow as God’s people.

The word, “theology”, comes from the ancient Greek word, “theologia”, which brings together the word for God (“theos”) and the word for reasoned discourse or analysis (“logos”).  A traditional definition for theology would be the reasoned analysis of who God is and how God relates to humanity and creation. 

This obviously sounds like a worthy enterprise but be aware of the trap. As we should expect from the culture of Plato and Aristotle, theology’s emphasis was even then on human intellect and observation. Man figures out who God is. This can easily lead to a violation of the 2nd Commandment by creating God in the image we want Him to be. (Exodus 20:3; 2 Timothy 4:3)    

In modern times, the problem gets even worse. Three factors have dramatically impacted the traditional concept of theology: (1) the pride of scientific thought; (2) political sensitivity to the world’s religious diversity; and (3) the confusion created by competing doctrines within each religion, including Christianity. 

A modern definition for theology would be the rational study of different religious belief systems and practices. These theologians are no longer trying to figure out who God really is. They are simply studying what different groups choose to believe about God, and thus a second trap is sprung – pluralism.  You figure out who God is for you, and I will figure out who God is for me. Our beliefs have equal merit. 

Now compare these definitions of theology to the definition of “reality”: the state of things as they actually exist. 

What is the reality of God? Is God whoever various groups believe Him to be? Is God whoever my intellect and experience determine He should be? Or is there a God who actually and “really” is? An “I AM” who reveals Himself to us! (Exodus 3:14)

My friends, our heavenly Father did not send Jesus Christ to start a religion. Jesus was sent to reveal reality – truth about God that only the Son of God could know. (Matthew 11:27) Jesus revealed them during His earthly ministry and continues to reveal them through the Holy Spirit, who inspired all scripture and leads us into all truth. (John 16:13-15; 2 Timothy 3:14-17) 

And Jesus did not come to appeal to our intellect. The truths Jesus reveals are far beyond what earth-bound mankind could ever intellectualize. Creation speaks to God’s power and majesty. (Psalm 19) The law given to Moses set forth fundamentals of right behavior already suggested, at least in part, by the natural conscience built into humanity. (Romans 2:1-23) But only Jesus could reveal the reality of a heavenly Father’s unconditional love and grace. (John 1:1-18) Only Jesus could show us what creation in the image and likeness of God really means.

Every morning we wake up as a Christian, the greatest reality in our life should be the reality of God! More real than my house is the fact I live in Christ and Christ lives in me. More real than my shortcomings is God’s unconditional love for me every moment of every day. 

More real than TV’s bad news is God’s good news: Jesus has paid the price for all sin of all people for all time.  More real than political strife is the fact Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. More real than evil is the ability of good to defeat evil – because God is for us and with us.

It’s not theology – it’s reality!  Praise the Lord!

God bless you, and God bless our community.