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Posts by Mike Southards

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Let's Go to Church!

Yeah, we know. Last week the headline said, Don't Go to Church. What's the real message here, should we go to church or not? Yes, go to church. But don't just go to church. Be the church! That was last week's message. This week, the message centers on the connection between going to church and living in the real world. Many years ago I interviewed for the pastor positi...

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Not Perfect, Yet Authentic

Somewhere along the line, you've probably heard someone say, "Don't bother looking for the perfect church. Because if you ever find it, and you JOIN it, then it won't be perfect anymore!" The perfect church doesn't exist, but we're tempted to think that the church that emerged in Jerusalem was about as perfect as a church can be. We romanticize that church. We tend to thi...

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Transformational Church

To those in the West, the bigger the number of respondents, the more replicated the technique. Westerners are enamored by size, largest number of hands raised, and so on. When the sun has set on these reports, we seem rather dismayed when the statistics show the quality of the life of the believer is no different than that of the unbeliever. Ravi Zacharias Congregat...

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How Do We Keep Going?

My wife Kerra is a teacher. On the first day of class, she communicated something to her students that got their attention, something that will deeply impact their perspective of what school is all about. "My purpose," she says, "is not to fill your heads with information. My purpose is to make your souls rich." That's a very important lesson for students everywhere. But i...

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How Do We Speak the Gospel Into the Lives of Real People?

Years ago, in my freshman year of Bible College, I took a course in personal evangelism. Part of the instruction was lecture, but another part of the class involved simulation. We were assigned to get into small clusters, with someone assuming the role of the evangelist, someone assuming the role of the person being evangelized, and someone else assuming the role of the ev...

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What Should We Say?

Knock, knock, knock. Someone was at the door. Probably a salesman. No one else would ever find their way to our house. I was in my first year of ministry. Kerra and I lived in the church parsonage, which was on a lonely road seven miles from the nearest gas station. The church I served didn't have an office, so I established my workplace in one of the bedrooms. Knock, kno...

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Why do we Recite Creeds and Catechisms in Our Worship Service?

Each Sunday, we normally recite a question and answer from the New City Catechism. Sometimes we recite a creed together, like the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed? Why do we do that? All Christians want to think that their beliefs are of biblically sound doctrine. However, a recent study from LifeWay Research suggests that evangelicals believe several heretical claim...

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How Should We Pray?

Effective evangelism begins with persevering prayer. So, if we are going to reach out to people, we must first reach up to God. In this session, we will consider why prayer is so vital. Our text this week is from Ephesians 6:10-20. It's a familiar passagethe armor of God. Paul goes through a thorough list of the equipment we need to engage in spiritual warfare. At the end...

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Who are we reaching?

Who are we reaching? That's the question we're considering this week in our series, Gospel Shaped Outreach. What kind of impact are we having on our community? Regrettably, I would have to say that we aren't reaching many, if any at all. That's a problem. I consider myself to be most at fault in this problem. While I repeatedly preach the gospel from the pulpit, I am no...

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Who Are We?

There is a fascinating story in 2 Kings 7 which takes place during the long and impressive ministry of the prophet Elisha, the successor to Elijah. Here's the setting: The city of Samaria, the capitol city of Israel, is suffering through a severe famine. The famine has come as a result of the Syrian army laying siege to the city. No one could come into the city, and no one...

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Pressure or Privilege?

It seems there is no escaping the pressure. In the broader culture, we are under pressure to keep our faith in Jesus to ourselves. And in the evangelical culture, we feel the pressure to share our faith with the whole world. One way or another, if you are a believer in Christ, you are bound to feel some pressure. Or are you? This week we will engage in the second sessio...

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What kind of church do we want to be?

It's a good questionthe kind of question we should be asking. But before responding to this question, I have another question for you: What image comes to mind when you hear the word church?" Most people are likely to think of "church" as an institution. The dictionary defines asocial institution as a group of people who have come together for a common purpose. An inst...

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Why is it important for us to have an accurate theological understanding of who God is?

Over the past several weeks we have focused on some of the attributes of Godthe omniscience of God, the omnipresence of God, the omnipotence of God, the goodness of God, the immutability (unchanging nature) of God, to name a few. We could easily spend the rest of the year considering the attributes of God. But even if we were to consider a different attribute of God each w...

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The Nearness of God is our Good

Whenever a plane goes down, there is inevitably a news story about the people who were supposed to be on the plane but weren'teither because their alarm didn't go off or there was a traffic jam or they switched travel plans at the last minute. When we hear stories like that, we Christians tend to say, "Wow! Isn't God good!?" We say that a lot"Isn't God good!?" when we hear...

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A Fixed Point in a Constantly Changing World

It has been said that the only thing constant is change. Think about the number of things that have changed over the course of your life. Take the way I'm composing this article, for instance. I'm using a word processor on the computer. If, make that when, I make a mistake, all I have to do is hit the backspace button a few times and correct my errors. In the old days, t...

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Is Anything Too Hard For God? The Doctrine of the Omnipotence of God

A 747 jetliner was halfway across the Atlantic when the captain got on the loudspeaker and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have lost one of our engines, but we can still reach London with the three we have left. Unfortunately, this will make us one hour late.” An hour later the captain made another announcement, “Sorry, but we lost another engine....

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When Sentiment Drives Your Theology

Mothers’ Day is coming up this Sunday. It’s a time to express love and appreciation to our mothers, which of course we should do often, not just on this particular day. Mothers’ Day evokes an outpouring of sentiment for our mothers, expressed through cards, flowers, a nice meal out, and a phone call if you and your mother are separated by distance. When sentiment...

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The Omniscience of God

Some ago I went to the doctor for help with some sharp pain in my neck. The doctor ordered an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This procedure is a noninvasive medical test that physicians use to diagnose medical conditions....

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Our Great God

What you believe about God determines how you will live, what you live for, and why. It determines how you view yourself and others and how you interact with them. It determines your ethics and priorities and sense of reverence and gratitude or the lack thereof....

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The Purpose of Parables- To Conceal and To Reveal

If you read last week’s article, the following story will sound familiar: Once upon a time was a very wise, gentle, and loving king, who ruled over his land with great skill. The people loved him very much. And as this king grew older, he had to determine who would rule in his place as an honest and loving king....

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The Key

Once upon a time there was a very wise, gentle, and loving king, who ruled over his land with great skill. The people loved him very much. And as this king grew older, he had to determine who would rule in his place as an honest and loving king. He had three sons from which to choose. Making the right decision would not be easy....

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When You Have a Slow Heart

Jesus was crucified. He died and was buried. But on the third day, He rose again. These events are well attested to by eyewitnesses. And there are other convincing proofs that attest to the reality of the literal, physical resurrection of Christ. So why do so many not believe, or live as though they do not believe? ...

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An Appeal to Guard Your Heart Against Hardness

On Palm Sunday, Jesus was welcomed by the cheers of the people. As He entered Jerusalem He paused and sobbed bitter tears over how the people of Israel had rejected Him. Over the next few days, He taught openly in the temple courts. ...

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When Your Heart is Thirsty and You Don't Know It

Two strangers met beside a well on a hot afternoon in Samaria. One was a woman. The other was a man. We don’t know the woman’s name. The man’s name was Jesus. ...

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What's Your Excuse?

How do you deal with rude people? Someone once put that question to Miss Manners, a social etiquette advice columnist found in many newspapers. ...

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For Good Persons Only

Every person needs a savior...

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Guarding Your Heart from Self-Centeredness

In the story of the Prodigal Son, we learn a lot about God, man, Christ, and our response. But we also learn how to guard our hearts from self-centeredness....

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What Could Happen?

And why guard our hearts? Why protect ourselves from spiritual danger? Nothing bad will ever happen. Will it?...

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Guarding Your Heart

This week we’re beginning a new sermon series on Guarding Your Heart. ...It’s about dealing with the real issues of the heart...

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Inward Change Shows Up on the Outside

Change on the outside always shows up as a result of change on the inside. But we all know the truth about ourselves. We’re far from perfect....

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Power for Change

Theological understanding is foundational to Christian living. Theological understanding connects you to the power to change....

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It’s the Stuff on the Inside We Can’t Seem to Fix

Suppose you could change anything about yourself, where would you start? Most of us would probably start on the outside. We would like to be skinnier and taller. ...

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Walk in a Mannor Worthy of Your Calling

“So, you claim to be a Christian? Then prove it. Walk in a manner that is worthy of your calling.” How do we do that? Perhaps this illustration will help. ...

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When Christ is Revealed

The drama is recorded for us in Matthew 2:1-18. The prominent characters are Herod, the King of Israel and the wise men from the pagan region of Babylon and/or Persia. But the most prominent character is the One whom Matthew refers to simply as “the child.”...

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How Big is Your God?

Nothing is too hard for Him. Nothing that comes into your life is ever too hard for this God....

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When You Run Up on the Hardened Ice of Reality

But God does not look for a way get out of His promise to us even if we prove ourselves to be less than honorable. He gives His word to forgive us, not just for sins committed in the past, but for every sin. ...

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The Lies We Believe

Why would Achan blatantly disobey a clear order from God? It was because of the lies he told himself and believed....

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Do We Need A New Reformation?

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and professor of New Testament at the University of Wittenberg, Germany, famously nailed his ninety five theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Luther’s intent was to challenge the leading pastors and theologians in his area to a debate. ...

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Ther is a God - And You are Not Him

We must never think of our Lord merely as our co-pilot; someone who is not in charge but is available to help out when we need it. Jesus is the Commander. He is the Captain of the airplane. He will accept no other role....

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When Moral Obligations Are in Conflict

Is it ever morally permissible to tell a lie? Or are we obligated to tell the truth in every situation, regardless of the consequences?...

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The Big Picture

There is a bigger picture than you realize or understand. Just as God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours, God’s purposes are broader than our ability to fully perceive. I have always enjoyed going to the beach and gazing out across the ocean and looking at the horizon, the “line” where it appears that the earth has fallen away. There is more beyond the li...

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A Daunting Task

It is a daunting task to speak about the subject of marriage in general and on the husband’s role as spiritual leader in the home in particular. Focusing on this subject makes me conscious of my own failings, and the way in which I fall short of the biblical ideal. I am woefully under-qualified to speak as an authority on the subject. ...

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What About Angles?

Angels are fascinating, not only to Christians, but to the wider culture as well, and it’s not hard to understand why. Unlike God, angels are on our level. ...

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And They'll Know We Are Christians by Our T-Shirts

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If you were required to prove that you are alive, not physically but spiritually, could you do it? Could you make your case to the world around you that you are a real live Christian?...

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Why Pray?

What is the primary purpose of praying? Most of us grow up thinking of prayer as asking God for what we want. We learn to pray by saying, “God, help me with this. God, give me this. God, bless me with this. God, protect me.” When we pray for others, we pray the same thing: “God, help them. God, protect them. God, bless them. God, keep them and be with them.” Some...

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The Only Way You Can be a Real Follower of Jesus Christ

cross beam with nail

If you want to be a real follower of Jesus Christ, then you're going to have to humble yourself and learn how to think and act like a servant. You cannot allow Christ to live through you and not be a humble servant. Only through servanthood can you be a real follower of Jesus Christ. In Philippians 2:5-11 we learn what it means to respond to that call. First of all, it me...

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Leaping from the Twilight Zone to New Testament

Well, I asked for it. Last week I invited you to submit suggestions for sermons on topics or passages that are of particular interest to you. Any topic or passage I consider myself to be somewhat competent to address, I will speak on. ...

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Lord, Show Me Your Ways

If you've ever had to dial 911 before, you know what an emergency feels like. You need help and you need it fast! One day Moses found himself in the middle of a huge emergency. ...

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Our Declaration of Dependence

Hands_on_a_Bible

On July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king. Next week we celebrate the 241st anniversary of the Declaration. Many of us will celebrate with cookouts and watermelon. Some of us will participate in the Red, Whi...

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When the Situation Is Desperate

clay pot

What do you do when you're in a bind and don't know what to do? If the situation is desperate enough, you might well resort to desperate measures. In 1990, a 26-year-old man by the name of Danny Simpson of Ottawa, Canada was in dire financial straits. He wasn't quite sure what to do, but since his situation was desperate, he decided he should take desperate action. Simpso...

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Leaving a Legacy

Carpentry B&W

By just about every standard of measurement, Don was an average man at best. The family he was born into was financially stressed and relationally dysfunctional. Don was not a highly educated man. He dropped out of school after only seven years of formal education, thus choosing a path of hard physical labor. But Don was undaunted by his circumstances. He dreamed of a bett...

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The Big Difference

Durer Betrayal

This article introduces the upcoming sermon from Mark 14:43-52....

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Christ's Passion: Gethsemane

agony in the garden

An introduction to our upcoming sermon from Mark 14:32-42...

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Is Greatness Defined by Facebook or by God?

We're addicted to ourselves. If you're not convinced, just log on to Facebook sometime. Facebook is widely known as a narcissistic playground where most people broadcast the best, funniest, and most charming aspects of their lives. It seems that everyone on Facebook appears to have an awesome life, one filled with fun adventures, exciting romances, amazing jobs, cool gadge...

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Prayers for Desperate Times

Sermons on prayer have a way of disturbing me. I don't think I've ever heard a sermon on prayer that didn't take me beyond conviction to the point of feeling guilty and/or inadequate. I may be a pastor, but I'm not what you call a prayer warrior. I pray, but not intensely. Not fervently. Unless of course I'm terrified of my circumstances. Then I can pray fervently. When d...

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God's Shakeup Call

Back in 1973 I was suddenly shaken out of my bed in the middle of the night. My first thought was that my college roommate had pulled some kind of prank on me. But when I glanced across the room, there was my roommate, also sitting on the floor, wondering what had happened. Later we would discover that a minor earthquake registering 4.7 on the Richter scale had struck the ...

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The Purpose of the Mosaic Covenant

Long-term commitments are scarce these days. Apparently long-term commitments are also scary. The thought of entering into a marriage relationship "'til death do us part" frightens a lot of people. So the covenant of marriage is often avoided. Many of the vows that are made these days lack the permanence and commitment of former days. But it's not just marriage covenants t...

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Sound Theology Has a Way of Doing That

In a Peanuts cartoon strip Lucy and Linus are staring out the window, watching it rain. The magnitude of the storm impresses Lucy. "Boy! Look at it pour. What if it floods the whole world?" "It won't," Linus assures her. In Genesis 9, God promised Noah that would never happen again. The sign of that promise is the rainbow." Turning back to the window with a big smile on he...

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When You Find Yourself in Trouble

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11). At this time of year we are reminded of this wonderful announcement which the angel made to the shepherds on the night of our Savior's birth. There is no sentimentality here. Thi...

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Use Your Imagination

Remember Candid Camera? The show used hidden cameras to film ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, such as a florist delivering flowers C.O.D. Sometimes trick props were involved, such as a desk with drawers that pop open when one is closed. When the joke was revealed, victims would be told the show's catchphrase, "Smile, you're on Candid Camera."In one...

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Hijacked

The incident began mid-afternoon on Thanksgiving eve, November 24, 1971, at Portland International Airport in Portland, Oregon. A man carrying a black attach case approached the flight counter of Northwest Orient Airlines. He purchased a one-way ticket on Flight 305,a 30-minute trip to Seattle, Washington. Once the plane was airborne, the man called to the flight attendant...

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The Christian Life Is a Thinking Life

Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9). This prayer challenges two notions that many American evangelical Christians have about the connection between our intellect and our faith. The first one is the belief that ther...

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There's No Escaping the Conflict

The Bible uses a lot of different word pictures to describe the Christian life. For instance, the Bible compares the Christian life to biological growth. Christian growth is a maturing process, beginning with drinking milk and culminating with eating of meat. We progress through various stages of maturity as Christians, from infancy to becoming young men and ultimately to ...

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Beauty and the Beast

At first glance the story of Esther looks like an ancient version of Beauty and the Beast. But this is no fairytale story of a poor, Jewish girl falling in love with Prince Charming. There's nothing romantic about the story of Xerxes and Esther. Rather, it is a dark and uncomfortable tale of abduction and even abuse. The king's men scour the empire for its fairest young ma...

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What Is This Story Doing in the Bible?

Many Christians have a pretty clear-cut idea of what the Bible ought to be about. It should be about God. It should come right out and tell us how to live. It should reflect spiritual and historical truth. It should be solemn and serious. This is how much of the Bible is written. But there is one book of the Bible that is different. The book of Esther never mentions God, n...

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Does Jesus Need Us to Accomplish His Work?

We come now to the end of the series of sermons from John's gospel. Most of the time I'm eager to move on to the next series, but I'm a little reluctant this time. I discovered so many enlightening things about Jesus while working through the Gospel according to John. Back in January we began a series on the miraculous signs in John's gospel that Jesus performed. A sign is...

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Drinking the Cup--The Denial

Peter was ready to face anything for Jesus Christ. Or so he thought. Perhaps he thought that he had endured the worst of his trials with Christ in the Garden. He had impulsively drawn his sword, slicing through the air until his mark lopped off the ear of the high priest's servant. None of the other disciples had acted so courageously. Peter stood alone. Pumped by his gla...

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Drinking the Cup--Smitten of God

For the past few weeks we have been focusing on the cup from which Jesus drankthe cup of judgment and of wrath. He tasted the bitterness of this cup when he was betrayed and arrested. He sipped deeper from this cup when Peter denied him. The bitterness intensified through the rejection of the Jews and of Pilate. Ultimately, Jesus would finish drinking the cup as he endured...

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Drinking the Cup

Last Sunday we completed the seventh of the signs recorded by John in his account of the Lord's life and ministry. There is one more sign that Jesus performedthe miraculous catch of fish. Instead of jumping ahead and considering the significance of the last sign now, I want to go back to the first sign and draw out some themes that are common to the first and seventh signs...

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Comfort Food

Today I want to talk about a subject that interests every single one of us, every single day of our liveseating. Eating is important to us because it's much more than fuel for the body. Food means things to us. Have you ever heard the term "comfort food"? Comfort food is a simple, traditional food that does more than fill you upit brings to mind pleasant memories and nost...

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It's Worse than You Think

Introduction to Sunday's sermon on the healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15)....

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There's a Problem, But It's Not What You Think

It's true that many people today do not find the church appealing or relevant. But the problem with the church isn't with the gospel. And it isn't even ultimately with the church. The problem is somewhere else, and in Romans 10:14-21 Paul is going to put his finger right on it....

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Sentiment Isn't the Only Emotion on Mothers' Day

Mothers' Day is coming up this Sunday. It's a time to express love and appreciation to our mothers, which of course we should do often, not just on this particular day. Mothers' Day evokes an outpouring of sentiment for our mothers, expressed through cards, flowers, a nice meal out, and a phone call if you and your mother are separated by distance. But sentiment isn't th...

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Oh, What a Relief It Is!

Romans 10 talks about man's responsibility. In particular is the issue coming up this Sunday - when it comes to salvation, your righteousness doesn't matter....

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God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility

This week we come face to face with one of the most difficult questions in Romans 9: If God chooses some for salvation then how can He blame the other folks who do not believe? How do you reconcile the sovereignty of God with the responsibility of man?...

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Pepto Bismol Sermon Series Continues

This week in Romans 9:13-18, we'll see that God's mercy is free, not deserved. What's so upsetting about that? Well, by emphasizing the awesomeness of God's mercy, these verses actually deconstruct our sense of entitlement. But they also create a new sense of wonder and gladness and relief. It is such a relief to stop trying to make God behave the way we think he should be...

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Awesome Mercy

You might think about skipping church the next few Sundays because Romans 9 will push you out of your comfort zone. But we don't come to church to be made comfortable by a Jesus of our own making. We come to church because we want the real Jesus....

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The Struggle

God wants you to go through Romans 7. He wants you to struggle with sin because that experience is meant to drive you into the arms of Jesus Christ. The struggle that you are undergoing in your life now doesn't mean you're a failure. It makes you an excellent candidate for the grace of God....

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How Grace Changes Us

The more you sin, the more grace you get. So if you want more of God's grace, you can have it by thinking of creative ways to sin. What's wrong with this logic? It all comes down to this: If you truly want to be forgiven of your sins, you will want to change....

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Worth the Wait

Simeon's Song is about waiting. Luke tells us that Simeon was "righteous and devout." He also tells us that the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that "he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ" (c.f. Luke 2:26). So what was Simeon doing with his life in the meantime? He was waiting....

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Silence

Our Advent sermon series this year is "The Songs of Christmas." The messages are based on the oldest Christmas songs in the world. These songs are not found in the hymnal but you will find them recorded in the Bible....

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When It's Hard to Trust God

Why is it hard for us to trust God? That's the question we'll be dealing with this Sunday. In the last half of Romans 4, we see how Abraham trusted God even though it wasn't easy....

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How About a Nice Rotten Egg Omelet?

What does it mean that we are all "under sin?" It means we are biased toward sin, that we live under its control. We are not under sin in the sense that sin holds us down against our wills, but rather that sin has seeped into our wills, into our good intentions, into our self-images, even into our morality. Sin feels normal and acceptable. And this is true of us all, witho...

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Respectable Sinners

We survived Romans 1. But Romans 2 is staring us right in the face. In Romans 2, Paul teaches that when we look down our noses upon someone else and we think to ourselves, "What a sinner, what a loser, what a terrible person," then we have committed the sin of being judgmental. That is what Paul is talking about in these opening verses of chapter 2....

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Avoiding Dark Thoughts About God

This Sunday we'll investigate some sticky questions. I'm not going to run away from them as much as I might like to. So I'll give you a biblical perspective on these thorny issues. But that's not my primary objective, nor is it the primary objective of Scripture. The primary objective of Scripture is not to protect us from the living God, but to show him to us. ...

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Why Everyone Needs To Be In Church

Everyone needs to be in church. There are benefits you reap from coming to church that you could never enjoy by staying at home, or by "worshipping God" on the golf course or on the lake. It's something Paul talked about in Romans 1:12 - "mutual encouragement in the faith." ...

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This is What We Need

Whenever the Book of Romans is proclaimed from the pulpit, studied and revered by God's people, God brings reformation. Why is it that? One reason stands above all others. The book of Romans speaks with clarity and power about the gospel. This is what we need. We need reformation. We need the power of the gospel to continually transform us....

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The Phrase of Praise

This Sunday we'll focus on the significance of these concluding words as an act of worship. I hope you'll be there as we come to the conclusion of the deeper meaning of the Lord's Prayer....

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Goldfish, Porcupines and Forgiveness

In the Lord's Prayer, as well as in the story we read, it is clear that our being forgiven is tied closely with our forgiveness of others. If indeed we have received the forgiveness of Christ, we must extend forgiveness to others....

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Daily Bread Living

Life is uncertain. Most of us don't have enough savings to get through another month if our income suddenly stopped coming in. You can be doing fine one day and the next day your life can be turned upside down. One reason God lets those things happen is to move us away from self-sufficiency to God-sufficiency....

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Who's In Charge Here?

For the longest time a popular saying could be seen on the rear bumpers of a lot of cars. God is my co-pilot. At first glance it seems to be a noble declaration. God is with me wherever I go. But if God is just the co-pilot, doesn't that make you the pilot?...

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The Kingdom Comes First

The Lord says, when you pray, I want you to focus on the things that are most important to God, not what is most important to you. We are self-centered by nature. We seek the things that matter most to us. But as we have been learning in our study of the Lord's Prayer, prayer doesn't begin with our concerns; prayer begins with God's concerns....

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Taking God's Name Seriously

So when Christ says: Pray this way, "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name" what does he mean? By God's name he means everything through which God is known....

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Is Your Relationship With God Based on Performance or Status?

Jesus says that you can approach God in two ways. You can pray like the hypocrites or like the Gentiles, coming to God on the basis of the performance of your prayers. Or you can pray as Jesus teaches, and come to God on the basis of your status as his child....

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The Problem No One Talks About

There are people who bear hidden scars from the pain of prayers that were not answered. They remember times when they prayed, really prayed, said all the right words with all the right motives, even asked their friends to join them in prayer, deeply believing that only God could help them out. And after they prayed, they waited and waited and waited, but God never seemed t...

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A Second Chance

Jonah's life does illustrate a biblical principle that reflects on the role of mothers in every age and in every place. It's the principle of first time obedience....

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When a Fish Catches a Man

It is the story of struggles, of disobedience, of problems and of prayer. But above all, it's a story about God's sovereignty and his grace. God's sovereignty is evident everywhere in this story. God is in control of the wind, the sea, the fish, and over humans. And we see his grace marvelously displayed throughout the story of Jonah....

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From Tragedy to Triumph

Imagine winning a victory and not even knowing it. But that's what happened when Jesus resurrected. His followers thought he had been vanquished. But in reality, Christ had pulled off the most astonishing victory of all time. It is possible to be a winner and still live as if you are a loser. ...

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The Most Controversial Issue of All

In 1 Corinthians Paul dealt with just about every controversial subject a church is likely to face. And now, as he wraps up this letter, Paul deals with one last controversial issue - the issue that some might consider to be the most controversial of all. It's the matter of giving....

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Is There Ever a Right Time to Die?

Is there ever a "right time" to die? I've never heard someone who lost a dearly loved one say, "Glad to see him or go. Good timing." The only times in which we welcome death for ourselves or our loved ones is when death brings an end to suffering. But it is the end of suffering, not the end of life, certainly not the departure of the person we loved, that we welcome. ...

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The Best is Yet to Come

Have you ever noticed that everyone wants to live long, but no one wants to grow old? It's true. If you want proof, just consider the five B's of middle age: baldness, bifocals, bridges, bulges, and bunions. Nothing works right. Our bodies slow down, decay, sag, groan, and wear out. We may brag about our strength but a tiny microbe can kill us. ...

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Doctrine Matters

Doctrine matters. Everything you do, every decision you make, is a demonstration of something that you believe. Everything about your life can be described in terms of it being an application of some sort of ultimate belief. Doctrine matters. Therefore, it is necessary and right that we think about it....

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A Matter of the Heart

The resurrection is central to the Christian gospel. The resurrection is central to all the facets of Christian doctrine. So if we could just submit all the convincing evidence that points to Christ's resurrection, then that should be enough to convert the world, right? ...

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Building Up the Body

Some people love speaking in tongues. The church at Corinth apparently had a lot of people like that in their congregation. For the Corinthians, speaking in tongues was the premier gift. Nothing was more desirable than the ability to speak in tongues. That's because they measured their spirituality and their giftedness according to their tongue-speaking ability. But G...

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It Has Nothing To Do With Marriage

There's something we need to see from chapter 13 - something that transcends even the solution to the problems brought up in chapters 11-12. Love. Love is vitally important to Christians. It should govern our relationships with everyone in the body-especially those with whom we strongly disagree....

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For the Common Good

When spiritual gifts are used incorrectly, the results are disastrous. You have divisions. You have strife. You have jealousy. A worship service can turn into a circus. The Spirit of God does not give gifts so that you can do sensational things and get plenty of public attention. The purpose of gifts is simple. They are to be used for the common good. ...

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Bad Table Manners

There's a right way and a wrong way to behave at the table. Some of the folks in the church at Corinth had terrible table manners. Church services were a lot different in those days-much more informal. They met in homes. A large house could accommodate 30, 40, or maybe 50 people. Instead of using their after church potlucks as a way to build community, they used the L...

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Expressions of Communion

Even though communion is a regular part of every worship service, I'm not sure we fully understand why we take communion. We just know we're supposed to pass a tray of Welch's around and stare at the floor in silence to please God. Communion is often taken in a somber mood of dismal introspection as we focus on the death of Christ....

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Concentrate on Doing One Thing Well

We can't be all things to all people. We can't provide programs for every conceivable need. But one thing we can and must do is this. We can share the gospel. Advancing the gospel must be the motivation for everything we do....

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When Things Don't Go the Way You Expected

So, what do you do when you are confronted with the unexpected? What do you do when your plans don't work out? How do you handle circumstances that are beyond your control? Most all of us have had to handle the unexpected...

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The Irony of Christmas

Genealogy was of extreme importance to the Jews. I'll explain in more detail on Sunday. But for now there's something of tremendous significance. In Jesus' genealogy we find some surprises. In particular is one girl,Rahab, who was especially naughty. But she found grace in the eyes of God. ...

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God's Time

When our Lord Jesus returns there will be no such thing as time. At the second advent of Christ He will stop all the clocks and calendars and, once again, there will be only Eternity. That event will happen right on time. But the first advent was right on time, too. ...

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The Same Old Arguments

Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's moral. Just because the government accepts it doesn't mean God accepts it. That's essentially what Paul has to say about it....

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How the Reformation Changed the Church

Most of us know a little bit about the Protestant Reformation, but relatively few of us seem to understand either the evils from which the Reformation delivered us or the blessings which the Reformation won for us....

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Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles

This Sunday we will host a special presentation of Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles by Micha Cohen of Jews for Jesus....

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A Life That Matters

When you’re on the verge of leaving this world, you can’t help but wonder if you’re ready—ready to meet your God...

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A Life That Matters

When you’re on the verge of leaving this world, you can’t help but wonder if you’re ready—ready to meet your God...

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A Time To Remember

10 years have passed since the attacks on September 11, 2001. It is good to remember an event like this, but even more important to reflect on what this life is really all about....

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A Better Hope

The idea of Heaven is fascinating. It’s actually one of the few universal human fascinations. Pretty much everybody thinks about heaven....

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A Better Hope

The idea of Heaven is fascinating. It’s actually one of the few universal human fascinations. Pretty much everybody thinks about heaven....

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The Severest Test

The temptations just keep getting more severe. First, there was Potiphar’s wife enticing Joseph into an affair. That was a serious test for a young man. But Joseph did what he had to do to escape the trap. As Joseph’s reward for resisting this powerful temptation, Joseph was subjected to an even more severe temptation—the temptation to despair when...

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The Severest Test

The temptations just keep getting more severe. First, there was Potiphar’s wife enticing Joseph into an affair. That was a serious test for a young man. But Joseph did what he had to do to escape the trap......

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When Hopes Are Dashed

This Sunday we continue Joseph’s story in Genesis 40. When it looks as though the butler will be able to make an appeal to Pharaoh on Joseph’s behalf, Joseph’s hopes seem to be dashed on the rocks of reality....

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When Hopes Are Dashed

This Sunday we continue Joseph’s story in Genesis 40. When it looks as though the butler will be able to make an appeal to Pharaoh on Joseph’s behalf, Joseph’s hopes seem to be dashed on the rocks of reality....

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The Testing Times of Faith

It sounds more like a soap opera or an episode of Desperate Housewives than a story from the Bible, doesn't it, this tale of Joseph in Potiphar's house? The characters in the story are pretty much the stock characters of popular entertainmentthe good-looking, innocent young man who catches the eye of the bored housewife. Her intent is obvious. When her little scheme fails,...

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The Testing Times of Faith

An introduction to this week's sermon about Joseph and Potiphar's wife....

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Ordination Service for Josh Huff this Sunday

This coming Sunday we will ordain Josh Huff as a pastor. Ordaining a pastor is not something we do often, so I want to take my space here to familiarize you with the practice of ordination....

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Well, What Are You Worried About?

As Americans, we are regarded as having one of the highest standards of living in the world, yet issues like worry and anxiety and depression are on the rise among us. This is why we're dedicating a series of sermons to deal with the problems that are so common among us. This week we're going to face the issue of anxiety. Consider these statistics: Stress and anxie...

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Well, What Are You Worried About?

As Americans, we are regarded as having one of the highest standards of living in the world, yet issues like worry and anxiety and depression are on the rise among us. This is why we're dedicating a series of sermons to deal with the problems that are so common among us. This week we're going to face the issue of anxiety. Consider these statistics: Stress and anxie...

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Doctors and Plumbers

Did you hear about the plumber who was called to fix a leak at the doctor's house? The two minute job cost $200. The doctor was aghast. "I don't charge that much and I am a doctor." The plumber replied, "I didn't make that much when I was a doctor either. That's why I became a plumber." What we need in the church today are plumbers who are also doctors. Let me explain. Ye...

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Doctors and Plumbers

Did you hear about the plumber who was called to fix a leak at the doctor's house? The two minute job cost $200. The doctor was aghast. "I don't charge that much and I am a doctor." The plumber replied, "I didn't make that much when I was a doctor either. That's why I became a plumber." What we need in the church today are plumbers who are also doctors. Let me explain. Ye...

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Modern Problems, Ancient Solutions

This week we launch a new mini-series of sermons entitled, Modern Problems, Ancient Solutions. In this short series I have chosen to address two modern problems that weigh us downdepression and bitterness. This coming Sunday I will speak on the modern problem of depression and point us to the ancient solution found in Psalm 42. The following week I will address the modern ...

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Modern Problems, Ancient Solutions

This week we launch a new mini-series of sermons entitled, Modern Problems, Ancient Solutions. In this short series I have chosen to address two modern problems that weigh us down—depression and bitterness. ...

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What Can I Do To Escape This Pressure?

Life can be full of pressure, whether from within ourselves, family, or some other external situation. How did Sarai in scripture deal with this, and what lessons can we learn from her situation? We'll examine this on Sunday morning....

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What Can I Do To Escape This Pressure?

This Sunday is Mother's Day. As you might expect the theme this Sunday will reflect the role of our mothers in our lives. But I have a confession to make. Mother's Day sermons are hard for me. And it's not because I don't have a good relationship with my mother. I have a wonderful relationship with her. Always have. And I have a fantastic relationship with the mother of my...

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The Final Vital Sign of a Healthy Church

A brief introduction to this week's sermon regarding Biblical Church Leadership....

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The Final Vital Sign of a Healthy Church

A brief introduction to this week's sermon regarding Biblical Church Leadership....

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Grow- Sermon Introduction

A brief introduction to the sermon regarding Growth in the Vital Signs of a Healthy Church series....

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What's It All About?

What's It All About? If you ask the average American for that matter, ask the average human being anywhere in the world what religion is about and he or she would be very likely to say something like this: There is a God. He cares about how we live. He wants us to be kind to others, honest in our dealings, and faithful in our relationships. He wants us to worship and lo...

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What's It All About?

What's It All About? If you ask the average American for that matter, ask the average human being anywhere in the world what religion is about and he or she would be very likely to say something like this: There is a God. He cares about how we live. He wants us to be kind to others, honest in our dealings, and faithful in our relationships. He wants us to worship and lo...

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When Sin Happens

A brief introduction to this week's sermon regarding church discipline and the restoration process....

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Taking Church Membership Seriously

A brief introduction to this week's sermon about Church Membership....

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Biblical Evangelism

A brief introduction to this week's sermon on a Biblical Understanding of Evangelism....

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A Biblical Understanding of Salvation

This is a brief introduction to the upcoming sermon on Salvation....

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Biblical Theology

Biblical TheologyThe Second Vital Sign of a Healthy Church A seminary professor once presented a seminar about God. As he explained what the Bible has to say about the nature and character of God, he was interrupted by one of the attendees at the seminar. "I like to think of God differently," he asserted. "My God is wise, but not meddling. He is compassionate, but not ove...

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Come Down From the Tree

Years ago I made my living through commission sales. Some pay periods were pretty good and others were not so good. On one of my better paydays I opened my envelope and saw something that the company did not intend for me to see. It was a commission statement, not only of what I had earned that pay period, but what all the sales managers above me earned from my labor. Sale...

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