Beginning at Moses: Who is the Serpent Crusher?

The legend goes that Ernest Hemingway is eating lunch with some fellow writers at Lüchow’s, a German restaurant near Union Square in Manhattan. Hemingway, with a background in newspaper was known for his writing style, is challenged to write a novel in six words. He scribbles down these six words on a napkin: “For sale: Baby shoes; never worn.” For anyone who has lost a child, these six words put a knot in your stomach. Without explaining the background or incidents, Hemingway captures our affections. Whether this story is true or apocryphal, the point stands—good stories don’t need lots of words. Leaving something to imagination is powerful.

The Sound of the Gospel in the Garden

Not to be outdone, God has crafted the grandest story of all time. However, the story was veiled in darkness until the arrival of the God-man from Nazareth, Jesus Christ. The first hint we get at Jesus arrives in Genesis 3:15.

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How the Magic of Being Ordinary Transforms Us

CS. Lewis says, “It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” I’ve found as a writer and editor that’s a hard rule to follow, but I’ve made it my goal this year to have my readings weighted towards time tested books.

One that I had owned, but had neglected was G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. One theme that winds throughout is wonder at the ordinary. He reminds us that fairy tales often take the ordinary person and set him on an adventure.  This happens because only an ordinary person is startled at “a mad world” (Orthodoxy [Moody Classics] [pp. 29-30]. Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.) Think of some of the most popular fairy stories of this last century.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s adventures in middle-earth—the hero is an ordinary hobbit who is swallowed by a larger than life adventure. C. S. Lewis’s Narnia—ordinary children transported to an extraordinary world. J. K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter—an ordinary boy living in a cupboard in Privet Dr. finds out he is a wizard.

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Reorienting Toward Togetherness

There’s a lot of lip service given to the idea of multi-culture churches. We want to champion diversity, but it is easier to talk about than practice. I hope to encourage churches to pursue diversity within their congregations and leadership by digging into the reason we should pursue it.

The last several months have highlighted the great divide present between Christians of different ethnicities. The death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner show that Christians who love God still can’t agree on how they should demonstrate that love toward one another. The sixth commandment prohibits murder. Many of us self-righteously check that box off our list. However, John Calvin explains, “Unless we endeavor, as our ability and circumstances allow, to do good to our neighbor, through our cruelty we transgress this law” (Institutes. Banner of Truth, 2014. 149). We often transgress this law by not doing the good within our reach. That is why multi-cultural churches are needed.

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The Meaning of Mundane Work

In the beginning was work. God orchestrates the ordering of the world and crowns His work by breathing life into dust. “[T]he Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a
living creature” (Gen 2:7). And after each working day, God declares, “It is good.”

Now man is not just another creature like the animals. He is made imago Dei. Scripture says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Part of that image can be seen in that God creates us to work like He works. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15).

Many Christians I speak with about work think that work is part of the fall. That work itself is a curse, but work is a reflection of God. Our Father works, so we work. That supercharges our work with all sorts of importance and meaning.

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Our Father: The Foundation of Prayer

For many Christian’s prayer seems mysterious. We feel that there must be a secret key to unlock the powers of prayer. It seems so simple to say just talk to God like He is there. However, prayer is like Tolkien’s Doors of Dorin. In The Lord of the Rings, the fellowship sits at the door trying to make sense of the “riddle” scrawled across it.

“The words are in the elven-tongue of the West of Middle-earth in the Elder Days,’ answered Gandalf. ‘But they do not say anything of importance to us. They say only: The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter.’ . . .

‘What does it mean by speak, friend, and enter?’ asked Merry.

‘That is plain enough,’ said Gimli. ‘If you are a friend, speak the password, and the doors will open, and you can enter.”

They sat long trying to come up with the secret word to open the door and then Gandalf realized.

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15 Ways to Read More in 2015

I’m over at CBMW Manual—fifteen reading strategies for 2015.

“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). Paul is old. He’s locked up, but he still asks Timothy for books and paper. He’s committed to reading and writing even in his advanced age. Besides all the social data that indicates that those who read every day are more successful, Christians should understand the value of reading daily. Our Scripture, God’s very words, are written down in a book. His gospel is a story told. Therefore, we should be committed to reading daily.

Men especially, as you lead your home, value reading, value books, and value good stories. Doing so will provide gospel in-roads as your shepherd your homes, as you seek to read Scripture to your family, and as you seek to mature as a disciple of Jesus Christ and as you seek to multiply disciples in your sphere of influence. Here’s fifteen ways you can read more in 2015.

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On Earth Peace Goodwill Towards Men

For many the holidays are a time of joy and merry-making with family and friends. We all have our own traditions. My family enjoys going to the local science center to view the amazing lights. We also enjoy taking carriage rides in a neighboring Mayberry. I shouldn’t forget the food. We love to consume some seriously good eats. And would it be Christmas without watching the classics? Elf. Miracle on 34th Street. It’s a Wonderful Life. Home Alone.

However, not everyone’s traditions and family time is joyful. It may the first holiday season after the loss of a spouse. Or because of a divorce, it may be one where children are with the other parent. Or maybe the family gets together but it’s guerrilla warfare.

What if Christmas isn’t very merry? What if Advent doesn’t feel hopeful?


For those of you who approach the holidays with fear, or doubt, or anger, or anxiety, hear the word of the Lord in Isaiah 9:6-7,

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Jesus Is Better—Make My Heart Believe

The story of Jesus healing a boy with an unclean spirit is one of the most powerful encounters recorded in Mark’s Gospel. Found in chapter 9, the writer tells us about a violent spirit that has tormented a young boy since birth. The account is graphic, and it’s difficult to read the story and not feel compassion for the disturbed boy.

However, hidden in the narrative is a curious phrase that has provided encouragement to saints throughout the ages. Tucked away in verse 24, the father cries out “I believe; help my unbelief!”  In five words, a first-century father captures the wonderful tension of Christian living.

When we gather for corporate worship “I believe; help my unbelief!” is the same tension in which we find ourselves living. We hear sermons, read Scriptures, and sing songs where our hearts are often cold to the truth we proclaim. Verses like “at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” sound grand, but are they actually true?

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Sexual Purity: Living Near the Cross

I love The Valley of Vision. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a collection of Puritan prayers that grasp at the vitals of true religion and robust doctrine like few other devotional resources. It will teach you to pray. It will stoke your love for God. And I hope today that it teaches us, as men, how to fight for purity.

Purity isn’t nebulous. God requires absolute purity, an untainted life in thought and deed. Yet none of us will ever achieve that standard by our own effort. Thankfully as believers in “faith [we can apprehend] Christ’s righteousness,” as the Puritan says. The justice of God is satisfied. It is finished. There’s now and never will be a court who can say, “Guilty!”

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It Is Finished #AscensionSeries14

Christians, at some point in life, will stop and wonder whether or not they believe enough or have faith strong enough. What brings this on?

Life just hurts. Have you been in a place when you could swear there was a steady beeping sound just before a load of grief or stress was dumped on your head? During these times, we are prone to wonder where we had fallen short of God's expectations, searching high and low for to uncover the area of life that still is not sufficiently yielded.

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Journaling for Spiritual Maturation

We are uniquely a people of the book. God has spoken to us and he chose to preserve those words in a book, not just orally. Throughout the life of the church writing and reading has played an important part of our spiritual formation. I have for the most part found reading and writing come easily to me, but I have not found that journaling has. However, as I have struggled to keep a journal throughout my Christian life the words I have written have been formative in my maturation as a disciple.

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Santification and Assurance

I have a checkered past with the doctrine of assurance. I was born into a Roman Catholic home and was baptized into that church. Within a few years my parents had met the Newman’s (now life long friends) who shared the gospel with them. My parents trusted Christ and believed in the promises of God. I made a profession of faith at four years old and was baptized. The rocky road begins.

In the circles I ran, the gospel was preached, but they missed the overarching tone of the good news. The gospel reminds us what Christ does for us then reminds us how we should live because of those truths. When God creates the world, his first command is be fruitful and multiply. Think about it. God’s first words to mankind is “Enjoy your spouse and do it a lot so you can fill the world”. Next he tells them the entire world is their’s to enjoy except one tree.

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Missional Love

The most iconic verse in the Bible may be John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” I wonder how many people in America haven’t heard that verse. Not as many have heard what John says later: “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8).

Love we see is absolutely integral to who God is, but did you notice how the the two references work backwards? Look at like this: Love is essential to who God is and it’s out of this love that he sent his Son to die. God’s love (and all true love) is not insular. It’s not looking in and loving oneself. That’s why the two greatest commandments according to Jesus are love God and love neighbor. That’s also why God as trinity is essential orthodoxy. God has been and will always be a God who overflows in his love for others. This originates with his love within the trinity and overflows onto us.

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All of Life Discipleship

After Jesus rises from the dead, his first marching orders for the Church is to make disciples. He doesn’t break the mission of the church and Christians into neat categories like evangelism and discipleship. Where evangelism is something we do for the unbelievers and discipleship is something we do for the believers. Rather, all of life is discipleship.

When we rip these two apart, we miss the beauty of God in the mission. We miss the all encompassing focus the mission requires. In some peoples’s mind, evangelism is the thirty minutes we spend going door to door Thursday nights. Or the hour we spend passing out tracts downtown on Friday. Or maybe the forty-five minute airplane trip next to an unsuspecting stranger. Evangelism as is defined today fits into this neat box.

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The Cascade of Trinitarian Love Fills Our Homes

I have been reading Mike Reeves Delighting in the Trinity. If you have not read it yet you should immediately stop what you’re doing, purchase it, and invest some time digging into it. It is chock-full of truth about who God is. It stirs the affections and drives the heart toward Jesus Christ. All doctrine should be taught this way. These truths sink to the bottom of your heart. As I started reading through it, I started seeing this thread. This theme through out many chapters that made me ask the question, “How does the trinity transform my marriage?”

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Justification: Gospel of Peace

Many evangelical churches truncate the gospel. They focus primarily on the benefits of the gospel for us. They explore the depths of our salvation, but rarely talk about Creation, Fall, or Consummation. Salvation is a crucial act in the gospel story as we explored above but it’s still only one act.

Many theologians have desired to correct this salvation-focused gospel by pointing out the full story of the gospel. But in doing so, many downplay the importance of justification by faith.

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