Worship. Belong. Go.

Pastor Sutton's Blog

  • My Final Article for the Shelbyville Newspaper
    As the title indicates, this will be the last article I write for the Shelbyville Newspaper. I recently resigned as the pastor of Blue Ridge Christian Union Church to accept the position of associate pastor at The Journey Church in Lebanon, Tennessee. At the first of the new year, my family and I will move to Lebanon to begin our new ministry assignment. It’s not easy leaving my church. Nor is it [Read More]
  • The Priest with Dirty Clothes
    I have a book I read to my daughter called The Priest with Dirty Clothes by R.C. Sproul. It’s a story about a priest who was given the chance to preach his first sermon before the king. He just received his priestly garments and he was very eager for this opportunity. But on the way to preach, his clothing became dirty with mud, and he couldn’t get them clean in time. When he got to the castle, [Read More]
  • The Lord Appoints Wicked Rulers
    The title of this article may alarm you, but it shouldn’t. The Lord is absolutely sovereign. He doesn’t just appoint good leaders. He appoints all leaders; even those leaders who are evil and perform wicked deeds. Daniel 2:21 says, “he removes kings and sets up kings.” This is an absolute statement. You can read it this way: “God removes all kings and he sets up all kings.” So, if God does [Read More]
  • The truth about life after death
    In the last decade, I have conducted dozens of funerals. These services have been for people who died of old age, cancer, accidents, suicide, drug overdose…the list goes on. To say I have learned a lot from this ministry would be an understatement. One thing I have learned is that everyone grieves differently. Not everybody reacts the same when their loved one dies. But a common thread I do so [Read More]
  • Should Christians Vote for Joe Biden?
    Let me be very clear from the beginning: because of biblical convictions, Christians should not vote for Joe Biden to be next President of the United States. Indeed, Christians should see it as a violation of Scripture to vote for this man. I am not saying that every Christian must, then, vote for Donald Trump. I understand there is an issue of conscience at play, and many good believers cannot, [Read More]
  • Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Christians?
    You’ve probably had them come to your door or seen them standing outside near Walmart. These are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they make their presence known in the community. On their website, under their beliefs about Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses say, “We are Christians.” But are they really a Christian organization? A quick examination of their beliefs makes it clear that they are not. [Read More]
  • How to listen to a sermon
    As I write this article, I am in the last few days of a six-week sabbatical. A sabbatical is when a pastor takes times away from his church for specialized study, ministry perspective, spiritual rejuvenation and physical rest. To that end, one of the things I have done during this time is visit other churches. It’s been a blessing to worship without the burden of leading. Moreover, I have [Read More]
  • Christians must train the next generation
    The Prophet Jonah was commissioned to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh during the reign of King Jeroboam II (782-753 BC). As the story goes, Jonah was reluctant to do as God commanded because he hated these people and feared that God would show them mercy (Jonah 4:1-3). The Ninevites were the enemies of Israel, and Jonah wanted nothing but judgment for them. Because of his hatred, Jonah [Read More]
  • New Sympathy for my Church
    As I write this article, I am on week two of a six week sabbatical from my church. If you’re not familiar with sabbaticals, it basically means I am on a leave of absence from my congregation and pastoral duties. Sabbaticals are generally used for spiritual and physical refreshment and further ministerial education—at least that’s how I am using my time. I am taking advantage of this opportunity [Read More]
  • Why I Don’t Give Altar Calls
    I have been asked on numerous occasions, “Pastor, why don’t you give an altar call at the end of your message?” For some people, it’s very important that the preacher does so. I’ve had people not return to my church because I don’t. Just to be clear: an altar call is when a preacher invites people to come forward to confess and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It’s a call to [Read More]
  • Does God still speak today?
    Have you ever had someone tell you, “God told me to tell you… (fill in the blank)”? or “The Lord put this on my heart”? I am sure you have. These kinds of things seem to be commonplace with many believers today. Many Christians claim that God spoke to them, whether that be “placing something on their heart” or a clear command discerned in the mind, or worst yet, they say God spoke audibly to [Read More]
  • Love is the Proof of our Salvation
    Christians are called to be different from the world. That’s what it means to be holy. We’re to act differently because we are different. Followers of Jesus have been changed by the transforming grace of God. He has forgiven us, filled us with His Spirit, united us to Christ, and granted us eternal life. God has set us apart from the world as His children, and He is conforming us to the image of [Read More]
  • When God leads you into the storm
    Often times when we’re facing difficult situations, our first reaction is to complain. I know that’s my first response. After complaint comes examination. Why are these bad things happening to me? Did I do something wrong? Am I living contrary to God’s will? First of all, these are great questions to ask. We must always examine our lives to see if we’re living according God’s will as revealed in [Read More]
  • Christians should obey civil authorities
    Religion and politics. Growing up, I always heard those are two subjects you leave alone. That’s probably good conventional wisdom, but if you’re a Christian, the two must not only be dealt with, they will eventually collide. We live in a politically charged country. Never in my lifetime have I seen such suspicion for government. It’s pretty bad when we’re not sure if the FBI and DOJ should be [Read More]
  • Church discipline: for the good of the church
    When I was sixteen years old, my mother came home from a doctor’s appointment and informed me that she had stage 4 cancer in her brain and lungs. The doctors said she only had six months to live. She was 41 years old. I thank God that my mother lived another six years. I can’t help but think, though, what if they had caught the cancer earlier? They said it started in her lungs and spread to her [Read More]
  • Important words from Jesus that most churches don’t obey
    Churches are full of sinners. In fact, that’s the only people who are welcome. But the church is to be different from the world in this one way—Christians are repentant sinners. Yet, sadly, many churches are full of people who claim to be Christians but practice little repentance and it hurts the church. Some churches, in fact, are overrun with bullies who tear down the congregation with their [Read More]
  • Is Church Membership Biblical?
    First of all, I want to announce that New Life Church is open again each Thursday. Bible Study starts at 6 pm and worship is at 7 pm. Join us! There are many Christians who attend church regularly but aren’t members of any particular church. The reasons for this vary, but most of these attenders either don’t see church membership as biblical or important. I want to challenge that thinking by [Read More]
  • How to weaken a church
    It’s an epidemic. A plague. An outbreak. And no church has been left unaffected. What am I referring to? Church hopping. Christians do it all the time. They attend a church for a while; only to eventually leave and attend another. For some, it’s like shampooing one’s hair. Attend. Get mad. Leave. Repeat. I do want to say, at times there are good reasons to leave a church. It’s right to leave a [Read More]
  • Should Christians Support Black Lives Matter?
    Let’s be clear: Of course, black lives matter. Every person created in the image of God—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or any other distinction—has value and dignity. All men and women are created equal by the Creator.  That’s not the issue; nor is it the question. The question is not, should Christians stand against racism and affirm the equality of our African American brothers and [Read More]
  • Should we follow our heart?
    Listen to your heart. This is common advice and the wisdom of our culture. The idea is that each person should follow their instincts. Do what makes you feel good. Choose the path that is right for you.   The problem with this advice is that it is disastrous. For starters, the heart of man is riddled with sin. Because of our rebellion, our heart has been corrupted. Jeremiah put it this way. “The [Read More]
  • What should the church’s message be during these trying times?
    For the past three months, we have all been in quarantine because of a potentially deadly virus. When you listen to the media, all you hear about is Covid-19. But all it took was one unjust act in Minneapolis for all that to change. Instead of sheltering in place, people are crowding in the streets. No longer are we talking about the Coronavirus, because America has reignited a race war. I say [Read More]
  • Four things I hope are never the same at church
    This pandemic, I hope, has put things in perspective for all of us. For starters, we all realized how quickly life can change and our freedoms can be taken away. With just a simple virus, our lives changed dramatically. Secondly, we realized how important time with family is. We don’t need all the entertainment and silly things we fill our lives with to keep us busy. Finally, we realized how much [Read More]
  • Why is Jesus the only way?
    Christians know that Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We are also much aware that “there is salvation in no one else” but Jesus “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). These passages, among others, are the main reasons why Christians believe that Jesus Christ [Read More]
  • Should Christians Tithe?
    This is a debated question, but it shouldn’t be. The Old Testament Law of Moses commanded tithing. The Israelites were to give 10 percent of their crops and livestock to the temple (Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:26, Deuteronomy 14:24). In fact, once all the yearly feasts were done, they ended up giving far more than 10 percent of their income. But the Christian is not under the Law of Moses. Jesus [Read More]
  • Have you robbed God?
    The Bible is clear in its command, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). When you steal something, you take another person’s property without their permission and with no intention of returning it. Of course, all stealing is wrong, but the greater the item stolen, the worse the offense. If you steal a loaf of bread, for example, you won’t receive nearly as severe a punishment had you stolen [Read More]
  • The Danger of Moralistic Religion
    Read Matthew 12:43-45. It’s a strange text, but I can assure you, Jesus’ words are spot on. Our Lord was speaking to the Pharisees. They were the religious leaders of the day and believed to teach the ways of God, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Instead, they taught the people moralism and salvation through good works and obedience to the law; a system that doesn’t save. To [Read More]
  • What is God doing through the Coronavirus?
    I am not a prophet, nor do I claim to have special insight into the mind of God. But I do believe God is specifically working through this Coronavirus pandemic to wake up His church. First of all, God is sovereign. He “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11); even viruses. God planned it, and He controls every aspect of it. Secondly, “we know that for those who [Read More]
  • Why do Christians believe the Bible?
    There are many good reasons to believe the Bible is true. For starters, Jesus Christ is why I believe the Bible. In the gospels, He makes numerous claims that the entire Old Testament is the Word of God without error. Jesus is also the One who commissioned and inspired the New Testament writers. That Jesus rose from the dead verifies everything He said and accomplished. This would include His [Read More]
  • What non-Christians should dislike about our church
    I want people to feel welcomed and comfortable when they come to my church, especially if they are not a Christian. A non-Christian should be able to walk into my church (any church for that matter) and be greeted by people who genuinely love him. He should sense that people want him to be there. Once in the worship service, there should be a sense of enjoyment as the people begin to worship the [Read More]
  • Do Not Fear
    Do not fear. That’s what God said to His people through Isaiah (Isaiah 41:10), but His command was easier said than done. These words were penned for Jews experiencing Babylonian captivity. Around 600 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar sent his forces into Jerusalem to destroy the city. The temple was leveled, thousands of Jews were murdered, others were dispersed and the rest were taken as prisoners into a [Read More]
  • Temporary trials reveal and refine faith
    The world has changed, and it changed fast. Schools, businesses and sporting events are closed. We can’t go to the movies or out to eat. We’re being told not to touch anyone, especially the elderly. Grocery stores are mad houses and the shelves are empty. Churches are closed and only offering online services. By the way, if you want live teaching three times a week, you can find information and a [Read More]
  • Keep your eyes on Christ
    I love the old hymn, Turn your eyes upon Jesus. In it we’re told to “Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” I know the author of the book of Hebrews, were he alive today, would love this song as well. In fact, one might think he wrote it, as he penned something similar. He encouraged his weary congregation to never [Read More]
  • What is the Unpardonable Sin?
    could feel the relief in the room when the words came out of my mouth. It was almost as if it’s what everyone had been waiting for that moment. I was conducting the funeral of a young man who took his own life. The funeral home was packed. It was standing room only. Many things had been said and done up until that point in the service, but, in some sense, none of it mattered. All they wanted to [Read More]
  • The Sovereignty of God and disappointment
    For the last six months, my wife and I have been in the process of adopting a baby boy. To say we have been excited would be an understatement. We have a four-year-old daughter already. Adding a little boy to our home would only increase our joy. We’ve been doing everything we can to get ready—consulting with a lawyer, maintaining a good relationship with the mother and praying every day. We even [Read More]
  • The Gift of Lament
    There is a lie circulating throughout our churches. We’ve been tricked into believing that, if we’re Christians, we should always be happy. But it’s not true. Sometimes, due to our circumstances, faith necessitates times of sorrow. This is why we need to understand the gift of lament. Read Psalm 86. It is a prayer from King David himself in which he models how to pour out one’s heart before God. [Read More]
  • Change or Die
    My uncle Larry died when I was a young boy. He was my father’s brother. Larry was a funny guy. I would tell you some of things that still make me laugh today, but they probably aren’t appropriate. Larry had diabetes really bad, and his doctor told him that if he did change his eating habits, he wouldn’t live much longer. The doctor was right. Larry didn’t change his habits, and he died shortly [Read More]
  • Do I need to forgive myself?
    I hear people talk a lot about the importance of self-forgiveness. It usually comes from individuals who have made poor choices in their past. These are people who are trying to get their lives back on track. Perhaps, they’re pursuing a relationship with the Lord and even attempting to mend brokenness with others. Often times, I hear such people say, “I know God has forgiven me and even my loved [Read More]
  • The Secret Will of God
    Last week, I raised the question: does God desire for everyone to be saved? To answer that question, we looked at 2nd Peter 3:9 which reads, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” What we discovered is that this text means one of two things. 1) It is God’s sovereign [Read More]
  • Does God desire for everyone to be saved?
    There are many things in the Bible that can be hard to understand, but one doctrine that is absolutely clear is the doctrine of eternity. More specifically, there is no question that, in the final analysis, some people will go to Heaven and others will go to Hell. To put it plainly, not everyone will be saved. A question I hear a lot as a pastor is: Does God want everyone to go to Heaven? The [Read More]
  • Who is Worthy?
    Read Psalm 15. Go head. I’ll wait. It’s short. The Psalmist, David, opens with a question: “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” (V.1). David is saying, who shall enter into the presence of the Lord? Who is worthy? He then answers his own question. Basically, only the righteous will enter into the presence of the Lord. God isn’t going to allow sinful, [Read More]
  • The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived
    The Lord Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest man who ever lived (Matthew 11:11). That’s an incredible statement. When Jesus says that no one is greater than you, it should catch our attention. The obvious question we must ask is: What made John so great? Of course, we know John was a godly man. He was a man of conviction, integrity and good character. He preached boldly and wasn’t [Read More]
  • Five Reasons we started a Thursday Night Church
    In recent articles, I have written about the new ministry we’re starting in Shelbyville, New Life Church. The church opens on January 23rd at 7 pm. Our Address is 1408 Miller Ave. We’re right next door to the old Western Super Market. I hope you’ll plan on joining us. If you look on your calendar, January 23rd is a Thursday night. That’s not only our opening night. Our church will meet every [Read More]
  • New Year. New Church. New Life.
    New Year. New Church. New Life. By God’s grace, I am embarking on my 8th year as the senior pastor of Blue Ridge Christian Union Church, and, I have to say, I have never been more encouraged or more excited. On January 23rd, we are opening a second campus in Shelbyville. Our address is 1408 Miller Avenue. We are in between Sew Tec and Style Dance Studio. Builder’s Lumber is right across the [Read More]
  • Why Christmas?
    The real question I want to ask and try to answer in this article is: Why did God become a man in the person of Jesus Christ? The incarnation (which means, the enfleshing of God) is the essence of Christmas. We celebrate that God sent an angel to the virgin Mary to announce to her that she would bear a son and He would be Immanuel, God with us. But why? Why didn’t God send an angel to save us [Read More]
  • Churches are leaking buckets
    Let me ask you a question: Is your church busy? Are your people in the community serving? Most likely, the members of your church are regularly serving the people of your community in some capacity. Local churches give away clothing, food and money on a regular basis. They host VBS, go to the schools and do so much more. These are noble and worthy causes that honor our Lord, and we must keep [Read More]
  • Theological Triage
    In 2005, Dr. R. Albert Mohler wrote an article entitled, “A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity.” His point was that Christians must defend the faith (Jude 3), but in doing so, we must practice theological triage. If you have ever been in a busy emergency room, you may have noticed that medical professionals use a system called triage, “a process that allows trained personnel to [Read More]
  • Two sides of the same coin
    A coin has two different sides. Yet, the coin is inseparable. You cannot have heads without tails. So, it is with these two biblical truths I am going to share with you in this article. The first side of the coin is justification. Justification is a theological term. It refers to how man can be right with God. According to the Bible, we can only be justified by God’s grace through faith in Jesus [Read More]
  • Is Purgatory Real?
    First of all, let’s answer the question: what is Purgatory? According to the Catholic Church, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030). Basically, purgatory [Read More]
  • Image Bearers of God
    “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Shortly thereafter, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Human beings are image bearers of the Creator-God. Man’s original purpose was to project the image of God to the rest of creation in order to bring God glory. In the ancient world, kings [Read More]
  • Without Jesus, you can’t do anything!
    The title of this article comes from Jesus’ assertion in John 15:5, “apart from me you can do nothing.” It is an absolute statement. Jesus means to say, without Him, you and I and everyone else in the world can do absolutely nothing without His divine aide. I’ve been thinking about this statement a lot lately, and I want to unpack it in this article. But to do so, I want to frame in the context [Read More]
  • God’s purpose for marriage
    Every time a couple asks me to do a wedding, I require two pre-marital counseling sessions. In these sessions, my intention is to give God’s purpose for marriage. God created man in His image, and He created them male and female (Genesis 1:27). As His image bearers, God desired that the whole earth see His image in the man and woman He made. Therefore, God blessed them and commanded the couple to [Read More]
  • Blue Ridge is coming to Shelbyville
    No, we’re not moving the little town of Blue Ridge. I don’t think the people would go for that. They like their little community out here, but we are bringing our ministry to Shelbyville. Our church will remain right where it is and our ministries will not change. Blue Ridge Christian Union Church is a growing congregation and will continue to honor the Lord on the eastside of our county. So, [Read More]
  • Churches should root for one another
    My Father has been self-employed for nearly 40 years. I can’t remember a time when he didn’t work for himself. At one time, he was the largest independent car audio dealer in Indianapolis. He had locations on the east, west and southside of the city. I ran his southside location, my brother was the general manager and operated the eastside store, and we had a very good man named Rob who managed [Read More]
  • Are there enough churches in Shelby County?
    As you drive through town, it seems like there is a church on every corner. Even when you’re driving in the country, there signs all over pointing you towards little churches, but are there enough churches in Shelby County? Some interesting data came to my attention recently. It revealed that there are approximately 50,000 residents in Shelby County. Of those 50,000, only 12,000 attend church [Read More]
  • You don’t want your pastor at everything
    During my time on staff at a different local church than I serve now, I truly believed that the senior pastor should be involved in every event and at every meeting of the church. Truthfully speaking, I would get irritated and even resentful if the pastor didn’t attend everything the church had going on. I also knew that some church members felt the same way. But, after nearly seven years as a [Read More]
  • Do people have to hear the gospel to be saved?
    It’s a very simple question: do non-Christians have to hear the gospel message in order to be saved? The answer is yes. Unless the unbeliever hears and believes the gospel, he or she cannot be saved. There is no exception. The Apostle Paul made this point implicitly. First, he stated the good news. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him [Read More]
  • Noah’s Ark and Jesus
    During the days of Noah “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God was not pleased with His creation—not because the Lord created anything bad, but because everyone was “corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:12). Because of this, God [Read More]
  • Churches and their treatment of pastors
    I am a pastor. I know the challenges of pastoral ministry from personal experience. I also interact with a lot of pastors and witness first-hand the hardships they face. Here’s one thing I have learned about churches and pastors over the years: as the pastor goes, so goes the church. What do I mean by this? It’s really quite simple. If the pastor is treated well and cared for, most likely, the [Read More]
  • Our Afflictions Draw us nearer to God
    We don’t want to suffer. We want easy, comfortable lives. If it were up to us, we would stroll through life and never be sick, never see anyone younger than us die, always be provided for and much more, everyone would like us, and on we could go. There are only two problems with that. One, it’s not realistic. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble.” Secondly, we won’t grow in our faith [Read More]
  • Maintaining the status quo equals death for churches
    I praise God for Hospice Care. When my mother was dying eleven years ago, Hospice Care was called in to ease her into eternity. They provided great medical services to make her as comfortable as possible. That’s their job—to ease the pain of death. That’s great for dying patients, but it is terrible for dying churches. Church leaders, especially pastors, who help a declining church maintain the [Read More]
  • Make Your Golden Years Count
    For the most part, Hezekiah was a good King. He ruled over Judah, the southern Kingdom of Israel, for 29 years (715 BC to 686 BC). He began his reign when he was just 25 years old, and when he took the throne, Hezekiah had a lot of work to do. His father was King Ahaz, a very wicked ruler. Ahaz promoted idolatry and even shut the temple doors, but Hezekiah wasn’t like his father. He loved God, [Read More]
  • Less of the world, more of Christ
    I and eight other members from my church returned from the Philippines recently. We support a missionary there, and we went to help and encourage him in his ministries. This was my second trip to the Philippines, and it was just as eye-opening and challenging as it was the first time around. Normally, I would give you four or five takeaways from my trip, but, instead, I want to meditate one big [Read More]
  • Should your church be replanted?
    When a church is started, we call it a church plant. Like a seed that comes to fruition, the church starts with a few people, and, Lord willing, it grows as they reach the lost with the gospel. Hence, the term church plant. But sometimes a church needs replanted. This is when the church literally starts over, and many local churches need to consider this as a real possibility if they are to [Read More]
  • An Unseen Realm
    Last week, I wrote about the drug problem our county has, and how I am grateful for the local law enforcement agencies that are working with community volunteers to combat this issue. But, ultimately, we’re only treating the symptoms. There is a greater problem that needs addressed, and that is man’s sin. There is, however, another aspect to this problem, and that is demonic control. We don’t [Read More]
  • God works through government to restrain evil
    Last week, I attended a lunch meeting which included several community volunteers and local government officials. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Jail Intervention Program at the Shelby County Jail. This is a wonderful program. It gives men the opportunity to modify their sentencing and be released early if they will participate in a drug and alcohol recovery program while inside [Read More]
  • Looking for the big idea
    Over nine years ago, my wife and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. It was the trip of a lifetime. As our plane drew near, we flew over the entire Island of Oahu—a very cool site. Then, once we landed, we rented a car and over the course of a week explored the island. Both experiences were valuable. During the plane overview, we were able to see the big picture. In the car, we got into the [Read More]
  • What is true, saving faith?
    Christians are often accused of being “people of faith.” Of course, we are! But not in the way skeptics mean. Our opponents call us people of faith in a derogatory way. To them, we choose faith over science and reason. In their eyes, faith is nothing more than blind hope. For some people, that’s exactly what faith is. Have you ever heard someone say, “You just got to have faith!”? That’s [Read More]
  • A Woman’s right to choose? A biblical response.
    Last week, I challenged the pro-choice argument that abortion should remain legal because it is a woman’s right to choose. Many abortion advocates want government to stay out this conversation. Politicians and law makers should not have a say, it is argued, whether or not a woman decides to have an abortion. That decision is between the woman and her doctor. As we discovered, however, this [Read More]
  • Is it a woman’s right to choose?
    On Wednesday May 16th, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed what many believe is the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The bill essentially makes abortion a crime except in cases where the mother of the unborn child is at serious risk. The bill doesn’t even allow for abortion in the cases of incest or rape. Of course, this bill sparked controversy all over the country. Some people [Read More]
  • Why your church needs and outsider’s perspective
    A friend of mine hadn’t been to his hometown in years. When he decided to return, he found the place he once called home completely run down. Businesses were closed. Stores were boarded shut. The streets, houses and buildings were eroding. Needless to say, the place looked horrible. While there, he ran into an old acquaintance. “What happened to our town?” asked my friend. “What do you mean? It’s [Read More]
  • Your Pastor will fail you
    It happens all the time. A new man gets hired to pastor the church. The church is excited to see what their fresh leader is all about and has planned. Once he begins, everyone thinks he’s wonderful. He’s the most gifted preacher they’ve ever heard. He’s relatable, approachable and demonstrates deep levels of Christlike character. The church hit the goldmine with their new pastor. At least that’s [Read More]
  • Would your faith make people jealous?
    You may be thinking, “I don’t want my faith to make people jealous. That’s not what we’re going for in the Christian life.” I understand the pushback to such a question, but have you ever considered that we should want people to envy our faith? In fact, this is a deeply biblical idea. In his letter to the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul made it very clear that he was sorrowful because many of [Read More]
  • Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
    In recent days, I have experienced a lot of suffering; not personal suffering per se. But, as a pastor, I have entered into the experience of other’s suffering. The first was a family that just lost their beloved daughter, sister, niece, aunt and friend. Her name was Amanda. When Amanda was 8 years old, she had a tragic swimming accident in which she drowned. Thankfully, she was revived, but her [Read More]
  • Getting out of self
    Do you ever have those days that just don’t go the way you want? You have people who bother you, deadlines to meet, work to do, problems to fix, relationship issues, decisions to make…ad infinitum. When life gets hard, it’s easy to focus on our problems and make them worse. You get tunnel vision. All you can see are the struggles in front you. This happens to me all the time. I make mountains out [Read More]
  • The necessity of hearing the gospel
    Have you ever heard someone say, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words”? It sounds like good advice, and in a sense it is. The basic meaning behind the quote is that we should live our Christian lives in such a compelling manner that people will see Christ in us and come to know Him personally. Unfortunately, for someone to know about and believe in Jesus, it takes more [Read More]
  • The Unjust Trial of Jesus Christ
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  • God makes us like Christ through suffering
    My church has gone through, and is still in, a very difficult season of suffering. Loved ones have died. Congregants have been diagnosed with cancer and other various illnesses. Marriages and families are struggling. Conflict has arisen between friends. I could fill this column with the problems. As a pastor, this has caused me to step back, reflect and pray. “God, what are you doing in our [Read More]
  • Five effects of church decline
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  • Why did God create the world?
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  • When the church looks like the world
    When the church begins to look like the world, it not only dishonors God, it also loses its power in evangelism. We see an example of this in Galatians chapter two where the Apostle Paul records the time when he publicly rebuked Peter (Galatians 2:11-14). The gospel that the apostles preached broke down racial and religious barriers once erected between Jews and Gentiles. Previously, orthodox [Read More]
  • Is sickness caused by sin?
    There has been a lot of sickness going around lately. I, myself, even got sick. I came down with strep throat (which is why I didn’t have an article last week), and I couldn’t didn’t make it to church to preach; which is very usual for me. This got me thinking, is our sickness caused by sin? Now, I want to say, we have to be careful with this kind of question, because it presumes to know the mind [Read More]
  • The Resurrection Proves that Jesus is God
    In my last three articles, I laid out arguments for the existence of God. First, I contended for the existence of God based on morality. In order for human beings to establish a standard for right and wrong, God must not only exist, He must give us a moral law, and indeed He has in Scripture. Second, I maintained that God is the first cause of all things, Himself being eternal. The premise for [Read More]
  • Intelligent design proves God’s existence
    I’ve been making the case for the existence of God. In the last two articles, I argued that morality and the existence of the universe prove that God exists. Now, I want to flesh out for you a third line of argumentation for the existence of God and that is intelligent design. This is called the teleological argument. Wayne Grudem says, the teleological argument “focuses on the evidence of [Read More]
  • The Universe Proves God’s Existence
    You’ve probably heard of the Big Bang Theory. No, not the hit TV show on CBS. I am talking about the “scientific” theory that suggests our universe came into existence through some kind of explosion. It’s a preposterous theory, really. My daughter (a 3-year-old) could tell you it doesn’t make sense, and the reason it’s non-sensical is because you can’t get something from nothing. Indeed, you [Read More]
  • Morality proves the existence of God
    It’s not hard to prove that God exists. The atheist has a much more difficult task than the theist. In fact, a few basic arguments have proven virtually indisputable over time concerning the existence of God. One of those arguments is called The Moral Argument. Its basic premise is this: Morality can only exist if God exists. Morality does exist. Therefore, God exists. It’s that simple but let me [Read More]
  • The decline of a nation and our churches
    There is no question that our nation has declined both morally and spiritually. Drug abuse and heroin overdoses are at an all-time high. Our jails and prisons are full. Our homes are broken. Kids are growing up with either one or no parents. Many are living with grandma and grandpa, and this is becoming commonplace. We have no idea what it means to be a male or female anymore. Sexual immorality, [Read More]
  • WordPress Resources at SiteGround
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  • One Major resolution for your church in 2019
    One Major resolution for your church in 2019 One major resolution for your church in 2019 The other day, I got a call from a man I will call Tom. Tom is a drug addict. When he called me, he was at the hospital for the third time in a week for panic attacks, and he needed a ride home. So, I went to get him. When I picked him up, he just didn’t look like himself. He was strung out. He hadn’t eaten [Read More]
  • What happens when we die?
    What happens when we die? Some people don’t believe we can know the answer to this question. To know what happens when we die (they assert) would require speaking with someone who has already died, and that is impossible. To this point, I agree. We can’t know what happens after death unless we’re told by someone who has the answer. This is what Christians call revelation. God does know what [Read More]
  • What is a Evangelical Christian?
    What is an Evangelical Christian? Sometimes we are tempted to throw the baby out with the bath water, and in the case of the title, “Evangelical Christian” you can see why. The term has all but lost its meaning because we stopped defining it biblically and we began to let the culture define what it means. When you hear the term Evangelical Christian it is usually connected with politics. [Read More]
  • Why short-term pastorates hurt local churches
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  • Salvation requires more then intellect and Reason
      On Sunday night, two men that I highly respect had a very interesting and important conversation. Those two men were pastor and Bible teacher, John MacArthur and the very well-known political pundit, Ben Shapiro. MacArthur is known for his faithful biblical teaching. He’s been a pastor at the same church for nearly 50 years and is a true model of Christian leadership. Shapiro is an orthodox Jew [Read More]
  • The day no one came to church
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  • God is not mad at you
      God is not mad at you Earlier this year, the legendary preacher, Billy Graham died. I watched parts of his funeral service at which many people spoke, but the person who stuck out to me was Graham’s youngest daughter, Ruth. It’s hard enough being the child of a pastor, but can you imagine how hard it would be being the daughter of Billy Graham? Talk about high expectations. Unfortunately, [Read More]
  • Does God want your church to grow?
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  • Pastors suffer more than people realize
    Pastors suffer more than people realize Christians across the United States and beyond were shocked when they heard that pastor Andrew Stoecklein committed suicide last month. From the outside looking in, Pastor Stoecklein appeared to have the perfect life. A quick google search will reveal photos of him, his beautiful wife and three young, handsome sons. On top of having a great family, [Read More]
  • How does God judge a sinfull nation?
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  • When is it right to leave your church?
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  • The Greatest Problem in the Church Today
      The greatest problem in the church today Flip over to the classifieds. Not right now. Finish reading this article, first! But, when you do look at the classifieds, either online or in this paper, you will see that a lot of places are hiring. I saw several companies looking for truck drivers. Hospitals are hiring nurses and wealth advisors are enlisting new managers. There are lots of [Read More]
  • Death Penalty Biblical
    Should Christians support the death penalty? This is a very touchy subject, and you will find good Christians on both sides of the debate. Those who object to the death to penalty usually do so on the grounds of love. They say that Jesus would have never advocated for the death penalty. If anything, our Lord was against any kind of physical retribution. Instead, we should operate from a position [Read More]
  • Two foundational truths for your faith
    I am a fallible human being and often weak in my faith. I will hear things on television or read something in a book that can for a moment challenge my belief system. Can you relate to that? Sometimes, even the simplest question can rock our faith. For example, how would you answer the questions: How can you be sure God exists? And even if He does exist, how do you know Christianity is true? Many [Read More]
  • How important are sermons?
    My mother was a wonderful cook. She learned from her step-father who was a cook in the military and served in WWII. Growing up, she would make homemade meals nearly every night. I can’t remember too many times that we ate out as a family. My mom always had something going in the kitchen, and she didn’t like us boys getting in her way. But, as nutritious and delicious as those meals were, I can [Read More]
  • The dishes are never done
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  • Is it a sin to miss church?
    I bet you’re expecting a straight forward answer to this question, but I am not going to give it to you, because it depends on the circumstances. First of all, we have to define our terms. Before we can answer definitively whether it’s a sin or not to miss church, we must define what sin is. According to Scripture, “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). When we break God’s law, we are sinning. For [Read More]
  • Thinking biblically about addiction?
    There are two things I have come to realize about people when it comes to the issue of drug and alcohol abuse. One, virtually everyone has either struggled with addiction or knows someone that has. Two, for the ones who have never been addicted, they usually don’t know how to think biblically about addiction. I know a thing or two about substance abuse. In addition to being a pastor, I am also a [Read More]
  • How could a loving God allow the Florida shootings?
    On Wednesday, February 14th, former student, Nikolas Cruz, entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire upon the students and staff. At least 17 are dead. 14 others have been hospitalized. Another community is in shock, and the nation is left looking on in horror. I am ashamed to say that when I heard the news, I was saddened but not shocked. Unfortunately, [Read More]
  • The enslaving power of sin
    My daughter loves the Disney movie, Frozen. She would probably watch it every day if I let her. There was a time, in fact, that we watched Elsa’s famous solo, Let it Go, from my phone on a daily basis. Thankfully, that has passed. When you listen to a song like that over and over again, you can’t help but reflect on the words and backstory. In the movie, Elsa is the queen of Arendelle, but she [Read More]
  • Serving others with the right motives
    There was a man who used to serve at a prison every month. He would gather a group of men together to teach them the Bible and provide a meal. The prisoners loved him for it. They looked forward to his coming every month. Even the guards showed their appreciation for this man, because they too shared in the meal and study. One day, the man went to the prison like he always did, but he wasn’t [Read More]
  • Do politics overshadow your faith?
    Not many people have heard of my denomination, Christian Union. That’s because it’s a small denomination with less than one hundred churches nationwide and only seven churches in the state of Indiana. I have to admit, when I took the job as pastor five years ago, it was the first time I’d heard of it as well. Our denomination is not only small, it is also relatively young. Formulated in the late [Read More]
  • Mission Trip to the Philippines
    It took 6 planes, 4 days of travel, nearly 40 hours and close to 20,000 miles in the air, but I, and a good friend of mine, have safely traveled to and returned from a mission trip to the Philippines. What an experience! I pray that I will never be the same, because right now I am not. The things we saw and experienced cannot be put into words adequately. My church supports a missionary in the [Read More]
  • This one statement sets Christianity apart
    I once stood before a group of men and asked them this question: how many religions are there in the world? The guesses ranged from 100 to 1 million. If you typed that question into a google search engine, it is estimated that there are 4200 different religions in the world. That’s incredible. Human beings are very creative. I agree with John MacArthur, however, who said that there actually only [Read More]
  • Celebrity Scandals, a shadow of the final judgment
    One thing 2017 gave us was a barrage of celebrities accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. The accused ranged from media personalities like Matt Lauer to Politicians such as Roy Moore to professional athletes like Jameis Winston and actors like Kevin Spacey. All this seemed to break loose with Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein. In October of last year, Weinstein was [Read More]
  • 3 lessons from 5 years of pastoral ministry
    I can’t believe I am writing this, but I’ve been the Senior Pastor at Blue Ridge now for five years. That may not seem like a long time to you, but, ministry years are like dog years. Every year they age you seven. In another sense, it feels like the time has gone by so fast. Its seems like yesterday that I gave my second and final candidacy sermon to my congregation. Afterwards I sat in the pews [Read More]
  • Is there a right way to preach?
    Sermons. If you’re a church going Christian, and have been doing so for any length of time, you’ve heard countless sermons. You’ve heard long sermons. Short sermons. Interesting sermons and really poor sermons. But, have you ever stopped to ask: what makes for a good sermon? And I don’t mean, does the sermon tickle your ear or did the preacher make you laugh. In this article, I want to answer the [Read More]
  • Learning from God through illness
    I am not seriously ill. Don’t let the title mislead you. But, over the weekend I came down with a terrible case of strep throat. I had a class in Louisville on Friday and Saturday, and thanks be to God, I was fine for both of those days. But, as soon as I got home on Saturday night, I could sense that something wasn’t right. I went to bed that night only to awake at 2 am with the worst chills, [Read More]
  • Even Hitler loved his mother
    The title of this article is both provocative and true. Adolph Hitler’s mother Klara died of cancer in December of 1907. According to Adolph’s sister, Paula, during their mother’s sickness, her brother “wanted to comply with any desire she could possibly have and did all to demonstrate his great love for her.” Why am I telling you this? Because it illustrates a crucial teaching of the Lord Jesus. [Read More]
  • Can Christians lose their salvation?
    Before we answer this question, let’s first define what it means to be a Christian. True believers are people who, by God’s grace and enabling power, have repented of their sins, been renewed in heart and trusted Jesus Christ alone for salvation. As a result, every genuine Christian has been made new and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Believers have been called, justified and promised future [Read More]
  • My 150th Article
    As I reflect on the last three years, and the articles I’ve written in the Shelbyville Newspaper, I am so grateful for how God has used this writing ministry. I am not exaggerating when I say, there has hardly been a week go by where I haven’t heard someone say how much they appreciate my articles. God has blessed His word yet once again, and to be an instrument in the hands of our Lord is an [Read More]
  • God’s design for marriage
    One day, during the course of His normal ministry, Jesus was confronted and asked a question by the Pharisees.  “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” (Matthew 19:3). They were trying to reel Him into debate. Either way Jesus answered the question, He would put Himself at odds with someone. Yet, our Lord did answer. “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning [Read More]
  • October 31st is a Christian Holiday
    No, I am not talking about Halloween, but, yes, October 31st is a Christian holiday. This year, in particular, that date holds very special significance for Christians because we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31st 1517, a German Monk named Martin Luther nailed a paper to the Castle door church in Wittenberg, Germany famously known as the 95 [Read More]
  • Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
    Every year this question is asked, and I am always amazed how divided believers are concerning its answer. Should Christians celebrate Halloween? It’s not a question we can give a simple yes or no answer. First of all, we need to define what we mean by “celebrate Halloween.” The reason so many Christians are against Halloween is because of it deep pagan and even Satanic roots. Most historians [Read More]
  • Standing up for Christ
    We are told that when Christ was raised from the grave, He was given “an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16) never to die again. To complete His perfect work, the Son of God ascended into Heaven where He is now “seated at the right hand of Power” (Matthew 26:24; c.f. Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20). That’s where Jesus is now—at the right hand of God almighty. He is seated next to God because He is [Read More]
  • My First Book
    I wanted to make my readers aware of a book I’ve written entitled, “Are We United? The Question for Protestants and Catholics.” You may remember, a couple of years ago, I wrote a series of articles on the differences between Biblical Christianity and Catholicism. Those articles came from a sermon series I preached at my church. Now, those sermons have been turned in a short 54-page book, and I [Read More]
  • Murder is in the heart of man
    Sunday October 1st, 2017 marked the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. 64-year-old Stephen Paddock has been identified as the lone gunman responsible for killing at least 58 people and leaving more than 500 others wounded. Paddock stationed himself on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort Sunday evening and opened fire upon a crowd at a country music concert. Police stormed [Read More]
  • The church needs more godly men
    Chrissy was a young girl who constantly got sick. Her parents couldn’t understand why she always felt weak and was more susceptible to colds than all of her friends. They took all the necessary pre-cautions, but nothing seemed to keep her well. Finally, they consulted a physician who ran some blood tests. The tests concluded that Chrissy had a low white blood cell count. White blood cells help us [Read More]
  • Are you doing what God hates?
    You’ve done it. You may have done it last Sunday. To what am I referring? I am talking about vain worship, and God hates it (Isaiah 1:10-17)! During the days of Isaiah, the prophet, the people of Israel were full of sin (1:4). They were guilty of worshiping idols (1:21), injustice towards the poor, neglect of the widow and orphan, greed and even murder. And this is just describing chapter 1. For [Read More]
  • Reflecting on 9/11 and the church’s purpose
    As I write this article, it is in the early morning hours of September 11th, a day that will never be forgotten. I remember where I was when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I was in tenth grade taking the I-step exam. I recall the teacher turning on the television and watching the breaking news. I didn’t understand what happened. I thought it was a mistake, some [Read More]
  • How to Discern the Will of God
    Last week, I had to make a major decision regarding my schooling. I have been pursuing theological education since 2010. I received my undergraduate degree from Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, and I’ve been working towards a Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since the fall of 2013. It’s been very rewarding and fruitful studying all these years, and I am [Read More]
  • I Understand Why Jesus Wept
    Believe it or not, the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus Wept” (John 11:35), is highly debated as to what it means. What’s debated is not that Jesus cried, but why He cried. The scene is set at Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus’ friend had been dead for four days (John 11:17). When Jesus approached the grieving family, they were a little disturbed that He didn’t come sooner in order to save Lazarus from [Read More]
  • Two Marks of Thriving Churches
    As I look around at the many churches in our area and even in our nation, they tend to fit one of two descriptions—thriving or dying. They are either in decline or growing. The local church is never truly stagnant. It is either moving forward in a positive direction or it is moving backwards, becoming unhealthy and possibly on its way towards closure. The question is: what causes some churches to [Read More]
  • Are you concerned about your spiritual health?
    Contrary to popular opinion, arguably the greatest preacher of the 20th century, in many people’s opinion, was not Billy Graham but a man by the name D. Martyn Lloyd Jones (1899-1981). Born in Wales, Lloyd Jones began his professional career as a prestigious medical doctor. Earning his MD, he went on to be on staff as a royal physician. By his early twenties, he was well on his way to the top of [Read More]
  • Biblical church growth honors Christ
    By God’s grace, our church is growing, and it has been incredible to be a part of it. When I began pastoring at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in 2013, we averaged 62 people for Sunday worship. Today we see around 110 people every week at our Sunday gatherings. Most importantly, people have come to know Christ, been baptized and the unchurched have returned to the Lord. I don’t bring this up [Read More]
  • Free will and God’s call
    I watched a video one day. It pictured a young, elementary aged boy. He was in class learning with the rest of his peers. All of sudden, the door to the classroom opened. It was the boy’s father. They hadn’t seen each other in months, because the dad had been serving in the Army overseas. The little boy wasn’t expecting to see his father. It was a surprise visit. When he saw his daddy, the boy [Read More]
  • Celebrating True Freedom
    “Nothing important happened today.” For years, those words were accredited to King George III (1738-1820). On July 4th, 1776, as our Founding Father’s declared their Independence from George’s tyranny, the unaware King penned in his diary, “Nothing important happened today.” Of course, that date marks the beginning of our great nation. Unfortunately, most scholars agree that George never wrote [Read More]
  • A tale of two church members
    Have you ever read the much-neglected book of 3rd John? It was written by the apostle John, the same man who was an original disciple of Jesus and the author of the gospel of John. He also wrote 1st and 2nd John and the book of Revelation. 3rd John is a letter written to a man named Gaius between 85-95 AD (V.1). Gaius is a church member who is contributing fruitfully to the ministry of the [Read More]
  • Who should take communion
    If you’re a Christian, you have probably taken communion countless times. But, have you ever stopped to ask the question: who is eligible for the Lord’s table? If I had to guess, your church probably doesn’t have any restrictions. When it is time for communion, certain volunteers simply grab the bread and wine (or juice) and send it down isle by isle. Communion, therefore, is open to anyone and [Read More]
  • Blessed are the Persecuted
    Do you want to be happy? Of course you do! Everyone does. But, do you want to be happy in the way Jesus describes? Before you answer that question, understand what Jesus offers. Our Lord promises that everyone who becomes His follower will experience true joy, contentment, fulfillment and peace in this life and eternal happiness in the next. This promise is the whole premise of the Beatitudes [Read More]
  • Blessed are the Peacemakers
    It’s been said that peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload. It’s kind of funny, but it’s also kind of true. I read last week that in the last 4000 years, humanity has known less than 300 years of peace. That’s incredible. Some historians claim that the USA has experienced two generations of peace in its time—1815 to 1846 and 1856 to 1898. But that claim can only be [Read More]
  • McDonald’s, Ray Kroc and eternity
    My wife and I just watched a movie called The Founder, starring Michael Keaton. It’s the story of Ray Kroc, the business man and entrepreneur who basically stole the McDonald’s franchise from the McDonald brothers. For many years, Kroc struggled to find his niche as a salesmen and business man. The movie implied that he tried his hand at everything but never could find success. That was until he [Read More]
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit
    Everyone wants to be happy. This is a universal truism. Indeed, everything we do in life is working towards this end. This is because we were designed to pursue our own happiness. God made us this way, which means pursuing your own happiness isn’t wrong. It’s natural. The problem, however, is that you and I pursue our happiness in all the wrong things, because we’re sinful. Like the children of [Read More]
  • Why the Resurrection proves the Bible is true
    At one time, secular scientists had the western world in its grips as they preached Darwin’s theory of molecules to man evolution. They had people believing the Big Bang Theory was plausible—the idea that the cosmos came into existence from an explosion. These ideas allowed, for the first time in history, an existence of a worldview apart from God as its Creator. But, thankfully, those ideas are [Read More]
  • What did the death of Christ accomplish?
    Two friends were having a spiritual conversation. One man—Winston—was a Christian. His friend—Charles—was not. Winston began to expound upon his faith (like every believer should). He told Charles that Jesus Christ died for our sins. “If you believe in Jesus” he told his dear friend, “you will be saved and go to heaven.” Charles couldn’t withhold his objection. “How could one man’s death on a [Read More]
  • Why is church attendance declining?
    “If we (Americans) want to see our future, we should probably look to Europe, where Catholic Ireland just voted in a landslide to legalize same-sex marriage and where cathedrals and churches are being turned into tourist attractions and museums and even bars and restaurants.” Those words were penned by former presidential adviser, Pat Buchannan, in an article published a couple years ago, [Read More]
  • Accomplishing Greater Works than Jesus
    When I was a kid, there wasn’t hardly a day that went by that I wasn’t outside shooting hoops. In 49 other states, it’s just basketball, but this is Indiana. On Sundays, in the winter, I didn’t go to church. My church was the gym. We spent hours playing at our local high-school. When it was nice outside, playing until the lights kicked off at the park was the norm. We lived to play basketball. I [Read More]
  • Life in Christ
    Over the weekend, I endured one of the necessary evils of life…I went to Wal-Mart. In all honestly, I don’t hate going there as much as my wife does. But, that’s what you do when you have to get things for the house, you go to the store. It is a universal truism that when we need something, we go to the proper person or place that can meet our need. I’ve had the privilege of working with guys as [Read More]
  • Jesus calls us out of darkness
    If you would have asked any Jew during the day of Jesus, the majority would have assumed Israel’s Messiah would start His ministry in the religious epicenter of the world—Jerusalem. Israel’s capital is the city of God, the city of the great King and the location where all the religious elites spent their time. But, our Lord didn’t inaugurate His ministry there. His ministry began in Galilee, an [Read More]
  • The Devil’s Most Effective Temptation
    Have you ever wondered why Satan tempted Jesus to make the stones into bread? Read Matthew 4:1-11, particularly the first temptation (V.1-4). Of course, Satan knew Jesus was hungry. Our Lord hadn’t eaten for 40 days (V.2). Therefore, it’s easy to see that the Devil was striking at Jesus’s weakness. But, this doesn’t get to the heart of the temptation. Some have speculated that Satan was trying to [Read More]
  • Conquering Fear
    In Scripture, God commands His people to not be afraid on numerous occasions. The reasons given for such commands are vast. But, primarily, God commands us not fear because He is with us (Joshua 1:9), He will help us (Psalm 46:1-2), and He will provide for us (Matthew 6:34). Yet, if you’re like me, you deal with fear all the time. We are weak, fragile people. We worry about the smallest things, [Read More]
  • Dealing with Resentment
    It’s been said that harboring resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. When we’re resentful towards another person, we allow them to live rent free inside our minds. The only person that is paying for it is us. All day long, we stay angry. Meanwhile, they’re off living their life, never the wiser of our problems or how we feel about them. We continually replay in our [Read More]
  • What if Christianity isn’t true?
    Recently, I had a good conversation with an old friend who is a self-described atheist. I say it was a good conversation because we usually go back and forth in a respectful way. I don’t agree with him and he doesn’t agree with me. Yet, we can still have a civilized talk. That’s the definition of tolerance, by the way. During our conversation, I posed a hypothetical scenario that made him think. [Read More]
  • Christians are in the midst of spiritual warfare
    How many days have we started without prayer and paid the price? Our enemy the Devil is a crafty foe. He may be evil and destructive, but his initial weapons are subtle and seemingly non-threatening. In most cases, he isn’t going to launch an all-out assault right away. He first wants you to let down your guard. Start your day with breakfast, maybe a little television. All of sudden the phone [Read More]
  • Secularism: A problem and opportunity for the church
    A member of my church called me the other night. He and his family went to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. While there, he noticed a world-map depicting the number of Christians around the globe. Of course, in some areas, Christianity is non-existent. This is sad but not surprising. What did surprise my Christian friend was the absence of Christianity right here in the United States; [Read More]
  • Why is Christmas Necessary?
    Why is Christmas necessary? Well, I suppose the answer to that question will vary depending on who you ask. Ask a child and they will certainly point to the presents. Ask a number of men and women across the nation, they will say it’s all about family and traditions. But, if you ask the Bible why Christmas is necessary, you may be surprised by what you find. The answer lies at the heart of God’s [Read More]
  • Is Jesus Human?
    Last week, I asked and answered the question: Is Jesus God? According to the Bible, the overwhelming evidence is yes! Jesus is God. To be clear, Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the second member the God-Head. God is one is nature and three in persons. Christians don’t believe in three gods like many would claim. We believe God is one. By this we mean that three persons—Father, Son and Holy [Read More]
  • Is Jesus God?
    Who was Jesus Christ? Many would reduce Him to a prophet or merely a religious figure, perhaps the founder of Christianity. Others revered Him as a healer and miracle worker. Still, some, think Jesus to be nothing more than an ethical rabbi who performed good deeds. But, what is the Bible’s testimony when it comes to the identity of Jesus of Nazareth? I think C.S. Lewis said it best when he [Read More]
  • Dealing with divisive people in the church
    Have you ever dealt with problematic people in the church? Perhaps you’re dealing with such a person right now. They’re intentionally divisive and hurting the congregation. The church’s witness is being tarnished. Maybe they, and others, have run off a minister or two in the past. Bottom line, they are the source of much conflict within your little flock. What are you supposed to do? Can you do [Read More]
  • Grateful for God’s Mercy
    Over the summer, I preached through an eleven-week sermon series on the attributes of God. In terms of theological studies, there might be no greater subject to embark upon. The Doctrine of God is the richest, deepest and most profound subject in all of Scripture. One could spend a lifetime investing himself studying the one, true, living God. Since it was only an eleven-week series, I hit on the [Read More]
  • Living as Christians in a Sub-Christian nation
    This great nation of ours was born out of two very strong ideological systems—enlightenment thinking and Christians values. The enlightenment championed reason and logic. Beliefs were to be accepted on the basis of science, not religion. Though the enlightenment was extremely humanistic, it was married to another worldview component—Christianity. Our founders still believed in the Creator God, [Read More]
  • Pastor speaks to both sides of the aisle
    On Tuesday night, America witnessed one of the most contentious, and historic, presidential elections come to an end.  While there is so much we can take away from this event, the division in our nation stands above it all. This was evident when I looked at social media the next day. It was clear, people were extremely disappointed or very happy. This was expected, of course. But, as a pastor, I [Read More]
  • Don’t Settle for Lesser Things
    In his sermon entitled, “The Weight of Glory” C.S. Lewis wrote, “If we consider the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine [Read More]
  • What Your Heart Desires
    What if I told you that I know exactly what you want? Perhaps, you’re thinking: How could I possibly know such a thing? I know because it’s the same thing we all want. You want happiness, joy, fulfillment, peace and satisfaction. You want to feel as if everything is going to be okay. You want security and the hope of a positive future. You want what Israel wanted when they were traveling through [Read More]
  • Practing What We Preach
    A couple times a month, I have the joy of visiting our county jail. Being a pastor, I have direct access to the cell blocks to preach, counsel and talk with the guys. It’s a very rewarding experience. Last week, I spoke with a man who said that he used to attend a church in my area; however, he stopped going because he didn’t feel accepted. He claimed that the church was full of hypocrites and [Read More]
  • Calling All Christians
    Last week I wrote about my visit with Troy, a 34-year-old man who is terminally ill with cancer. It was my joy and privilege to sit down at his bed side and speak with him about his soul. I shared with him the good news of Jesus Christ and what God has done to save sinners through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. If you prayed for Troy, I want to express my gratitude and request that [Read More]
  • Words have eternal consequences
    Sunday was a joy-filled, fruitful, exhausting day of ministry. Our church celebrated 125 years of God’s faithfulness. I was so tired once the day ended, I considered taking Monday off…and then the phone rang. My brother was on the line. His wife’s cousin, a 34-year-old man, has terminal cancer. My brother was, understandably, concerned for this man’s health and salvation. For all he knows, the [Read More]
  • Hollywood’s notion of the afterlife
    Have you ever seen the movie Ghost starring Patrick Swayze? It’s a good flick. In the film, Sam Wheat (Swayze) is tragically killed during an attempted robbery. The rest of the movie is about how, as a ghost, Sam seeks to vindicate his death by bringing his killer to justice. Sadly, Sam finds out that his close friend was behind it all, but, before the movie is over, Sam’s betrayer dies. When the [Read More]
  • How to read the Bible
    I cannot tell you how many times I have heard skeptics say something like this: “Well, there are many different ways to interpret the Bible. People have their own understandings.” One thing is correct about that statement. People do have their own understandings. But, the first part is incorrect. There are not a multitude of ways to interpret Scripture. I am going to share with you the key to [Read More]
  • First Things First
    In last week’s column, I wrote about the necessity of change in dying churches. A dying church is one that has witnessed its congregation diminish over the course of years and even decades. They are also the churches that just don’t seem to be reaching anyone. Not only are they losing ground in the numbers game, they haven’t been very successful of adding new life to their church. All churches [Read More]
  • Change or Die
    I love the local church. I have said that before, and I mean it. But many churches must change or die. Here’s what I don’t mean. I don’t mean churches need to adopt a revolutionary way of conducting worship. I don’t mean churches must begin teaching a radically new message. I am not even suggesting that churches need to look more like the world if they are to win the lost. I am also, of course, [Read More]
  • Atheism’s Huge Problem
    Have you ever had a discussion with someone who was convinced that God does not exist? I had such a conversation recently with a friend of mine. He is a devout atheist; one who is convinced God does not exist. I will admit, you will probably win more people to Christ with love and kindness and a little bit truth rather than well put together arguments. But, this does not negate the validity for [Read More]
  • What’s missing in the church today
    Have you ever read Leviticus 10:1-3? You should. This passage has raised no small amount of criticism both inside and outside the church. Nadab and Abihu were the sons of Aaron, the first high priest in Israel. Just a couple of chapters prior to this text we read about the installation service for these men. It was a glorious time for God’s people. Aaron and his sons took upon themselves the [Read More]
  • When Politics Become a Problem for Christians
    As November draws near, the dividing lines are becoming more distinct. Democrat and Republican. Conservative and liberal. Politics divide. There’s no question about that. And they should. That’s the very nature of the election process. But, politics should not divide the body of Christ. This doesn’t mean we can’t have different political ideas and beliefs. Believe it or not, there are good [Read More]
  • God-All Present
    It was on July 20th 1969, the United States of America made history when Astronaut, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to step foot on the moon. Of course, you know the words that followed this monumental event. Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” What you probably didn’t know was that as Armstrong stared out in the far reaches of space [Read More]
  • Evangelism made simple, not easy
    There are two topics Christians don’t want to hear about—evangelism and prayer. Why? Because we know how important both are and how little time we actually invest in doing them. In this article I want to help you with one of those difficult subjects, evangelism. First of all, let’s establish what evangelism is and why it’s important. Simply put, evangelism is sharing the good news that God, our [Read More]
  • Why Do Churches Fight?
    In his book, Eye on the Storm, Max Lucado tells about a fishing trip he went on with his father and friend. They could barely contain their excitement the night before as they anticipated getting up the next morning to try their luck on the lake. When they woke up, however, it was raining. It was just a soft drizzle, but the men decided to stay indoors. After all, they had all week to fish. So, [Read More]
  • Two ingredients for church health
    I love the local church. This is because I love the Lord and His people, but I also love the traditions, fellowship and community of the church. There truly is no organization like the body of Christ. This is why it troubles me so much when I see unhealthy congregations. It seems like there are so many churches in our area that divided, bleeding members and heading for serious decline. What’s [Read More]
  • Don’t Give up on Them
    Bruce and Kathy were good Christian people. They went to church every Sunday. They were active in their community and did the best they could to raise a Christian family. But they had a rebellious son who was the source of much of their pain. Despite their noble efforts to share Christ with their son and show him how to live a good life, he was incorrigible. This young man was heavily addicted to [Read More]
  • Finding Contentment
    Have you seen the commercial where the man has a new flat screen television delivered to his front door? He is so excited when he first receives it, but then, as the delivery man drives away, he notices on the side of the truck an even bigger and better television. His excitement quickly turned to discontentment. The culture in which we live makes it nearly impossible to achieve contentment. The [Read More]
  • Transgenderism from a Christian worldview part 2
    In my previous column I addressed my concern regarding the advice the transgender community is receiving. In many cases they are being told, by leading psychologists and doctors, to bring their bodies into conformity with their thinking. In other words, if a man feels like a woman, he is advised to physically change his body. If he is a young male, he may receive puberty blockers to suppress [Read More]
  • Transgenderism from a Christian Worldview part 1
    I am not even going to get into the whole bathroom conversation. Males need to use bathrooms with other males and females need to share bathrooms with females. If a concession is to be made it needs to favor and protect the majority. What I am concerned about is the counsel being given to those who suffer from gender dysphoria. Personally, I do not doubt for a second that there are men and women [Read More]
  • Prayer Requests for Jail Ministry
    Last Tuesday was great. I started doing jail ministry again. It’s been more than three years since I last ministered in any facility. When I was in Bible college, I went to the Indianapolis Re-Entry Educational Facility (IREF), a level one prison, at least once a week. This prison houses men who have less than three years left on their sentence and are attempting to transition back into society. [Read More]
  • Why Evolution and Christianity are incompatible
    Ever since Darwin introduced his theory of evolution in his infamous book, On the Origin of Species, Christians have been forced to reconsider the world in which we live. One writer defined evolution as “the process by which organisms change over time. These changes allow an organism to better adapt to its environment and will help it survive and have more offspring.” This is the theory that [Read More]
  • What happens when you die?
    Ever since our demise became a reality (Genesis. 3), people have been fascinated and terrified about one question: What happens when you die? It’s probably a question every man, woman, and child has considered. When we draw our final breath: Do we go on? Is there an afterlife? If so, what will it be like? Of course, there have been many speculations. Even Christianity has been divided over this [Read More]
  • Do Christians and Muslims Worship the same God?
    In 2013, Pope Francis, in an attempt to promote ecumenicalism, said that Christians and Muslims “worship the one living and merciful God, and call upon him in prayer.” While this statement may seem surprising even for many Catholics, the Pope’s assertion is not new to him. In 1964 the Catholic church’s magisterium declared that “the plan of Salvation also includes those who acknowledge the [Read More]
  • Jesus believes the Bible, you should too! Part 3
    Over the past two weeks I have been exploring a concept that every professing believer must deal with. My claim is this: if you believe in Jesus for salvation, you must also believe the Bible. Meaning, you must adhere to the same principles Jesus does when it comes to the 66 books of Scripture; specifically, that they are authoritative, without error and inspired by God. You cannot believe Jesus [Read More]
  • Jesus believed the Bible, you should too! Part 2
    Last week I made a very strong assertion. I claimed that if you believe Jesus for salvation then you must, necessarily, believe everything He said and believed. Indeed, one cannot logically trust Jesus to save their soul and then reject His teachings on lesser points. For instance, Jesus believed Adam and Eve were real, literal historical people (Matt. 19:4). He also believed Abel and Noah were [Read More]
  • Death Defeated
    Job once asked, “If mortals die, can they live again (Job 14:14). Well, if you asked a member of the Corinthian church, you may get a surprising response. This congregation had many problems. There were divided over leaders. Arguments ensued regarding proper worship. Spirituals gifts were being misused. People were abusing the privileges of communion. One man was even sleeping with his [Read More]
  • Who Killed Jesus?
    Today is good Friday, the day we commemorate and reflect upon the death of Jesus Christ. While there are endless truths and applications to be gained from a careful consideration of Christ’s death, I want to ask one question: Who Killed Jesus? From an initial reading of the New Testament many would conclude that Romans killed Him. After all, Jesus was condemned by a Roman Governor (Matthew. [Read More]
  • Why Complaining Dishonors God
    Last week we looked at Paul’s command to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). The point is that Christians need to demonstrate to the world the great salvation that God has worked in their lives (V.13). We have been born again (John 3:1-10), filled with God’s Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14), adopted into God’s family (Gal. 4:1-7), forgiven of our sins (Rom. 5:1), united to [Read More]
  • Work Out What God Has Worked In
    One of the most misunderstood verses in the New Testament has to be Philippians 2:12- “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard good, well intentioned, believers quote this in Bible study or prayer groups or even in one on one conversations. What they usually mean is this: Believers need to examine their lives. We need to look at our [Read More]
  • A Conversation with my Friend from the LGBT Community
    I am a conservative pastor; which means my beliefs, practices and convictions are based on Scripture’s authoritative teachings. That being said, I hold biblical and traditional views when it comes to marriage and homosexuality. I believe marriage is only to be between one man and one woman. I also believe that any sexual relationship outside of those boundaries is sinful. This includes [Read More]
  • The Unique Virtue of Christian Humility
    In ancient Greco-Roman society, humility was viewed as weakness. The Romans, especially, valued strength, honor and power. They exalted men of high status. This is why, when they conquered cities or large territories, they would construct monuments glorifying great military leaders. This is not to say they esteemed pride, but it is to say they did not value humility. To be humble was to be seen [Read More]
  • Your treatment of others reveals your heart
    Matthew 25:31-46 has been on my mind this week (you should read it). In this passage, Jesus describes the moment when He will return to establish His Kingdom here on Earth. Upon His arrival, “He will sit on his glorious throne” and “Before Him will be gathered all the nations” (25:32). In this moment, every eye will see Him, and every person will be obligated to stand before His presence. He’s [Read More]
  • Waging War, Enlisting Soldiers
    As you know, I am the Pastor at Blue Ridge Christian Union, but I am also the Executive Director at the Grace House Ministries, a men’s recovery home in Shelbyville. The Grace House is a Christ-centered, Bible based, recovery home that helps men with drug and alcohol problems. Currently, we have two homes near Mickey’s T-Mart where we can house up to 17 men. Here in the near future, with an [Read More]
  • Examination Before Baptism
    Let me tell you a story. Two men from the church were going to some houses nearby in order to invite the locals to Sunday worship. They came to a man’s door named, Jimmy. Jimmy lived with his girlfriend. Neither one of them attended church. During the course of their conversation it became clear that Jimmy was living a life of sin. In addition to this, he denied some core beliefs that would [Read More]
  • True Joy, Despite your Circumstances
    At the beginning of the year, I began a new study with my church in the book of Philippians. If you have ever thought about coming out to Blue Ridge, please do so. We would love to have you. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed; especially, if you appreciate sound biblical teaching that centers upon Christ. That’s our main focus. If you’re committed to your church and can’t get [Read More]
  • When God says no
    To put it mildly, my wife and I have been lacking in sleep lately. Our 3 ½ month old daughter, Emma, has demonstrated some irregular sleeping patterns, and by that I mean she’s up every 30 minutes some nights. The human body is designed to get uninterrupted sleep. It’s proven that we fall into deeper realms of restoration the longer we’re out. That said, it is physically and mentally exhausting [Read More]
  • Do you Know Him?
    As a pastor my primary job is to faithfully teach the word of God to my congregation (2nd Tim. 4:2; Acts 20:27). This is why I regularly preach and teach through books of the Bible. By doing so, I systematically expose and instruct my church in the ways of God. There come times, however, when I have to preach sermons that call my congregation to serious examination. This past Sunday I preached [Read More]
  • He’s faithful, even when we’re faithless
    One of my favorite movie franchises is Rocky. If I had to decide, I would have to say the best film (of the now 7 movies) is Rocky II. Hard to beat it. Rocky IV, however, has the best training scenes as Rocky is gearing up for his final bout with the Soviet Union’s champion, Ivan Drago. The Russian prepares in a state of the art boxing facility; while Rocky uses anything and everything in his [Read More]
  • When church becomes about our preferences
    How was church last Sunday? Did you enjoy it? Did you park in your usual spot? Were the people friendly when you walked in? I like it when they’re friendly, but not too overbearing. How about the bulletins, were they accessible? Did you like the cover page? Personally, I want a bulletin that helps me follow along during service but isn’t too cluttered with programs and announcements. When you got [Read More]
  • Advent and the first Gospel
    Many people hear the term, “Gospel” and immediately their minds go to the New Testament (Mark 1:15, Acts 8:40, Romans 1:16). Though you won’t find the term, “Gospel” in the Old Testament that doesn’t mean the concept isn’t there. Gospel means, “good news,” and God has been promising the good news nearly since the beginning. When the first man and woman sinned it spun the entire cosmos out of [Read More]
  • Who is the Head of the Church?
    I’ve really enjoyed studying Catholicism. Again, I want to stress, the purpose of this series is to educate. It’s not to attack and make enemies. Sometimes people wrongly think that pointing out differences is mean-spirited and judgmental, but it’s not. It’s good for us to know what we believe and how it differs from other faiths. Distinctions highlight truth. This question seems like an easy one [Read More]
  • Catholicism and Evangelicalism: The Importance of Justification
    Last week I wrote about the doctrine of justification (how man is made right before God). In the final analysis, Catholicism teaches faith in Jesus Christ plus adherence to the sacraments and good works equals justification. Whereas, Evangelicalism maintains that by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone man is justified before a holy God. You may be wondering, what’s the big deal? We [Read More]
  • The Gospel: Do Catholics and Evangelicals Agree?
    In the 1990’s a group was formed called Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). This group united because of their common convictions concerning social issues such as family life, abortion and relativism. It was a good cause. Confusion was cultivated, however, when ECT signed a document declaring that Catholics and Evangelicals also agreed about the nature of the Gospel. This caused many to [Read More]
  • Does Church Attendance Make you a Christian?
    There are many people who claim to follow Jesus yet have nothing to do with the local church. You here sayings like this: going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to Taco Bell makes you a burrito. Obviously, there are a lot of opinions on this issue. But, I am not interested in people’s opinions. I want to know: how does the Bible answer this question? First of all, let me [Read More]
  • Beware of the Culture
    A fish doesn’t know he’s wet. He doesn’t even know he’s swimming. He’s too engrossed in his environment to notice. That’s a good way to describe how immersed we are in our culture. Culture is everything; the clothes we wear, the words we say, the foods we eat and the principles we value. Culture is good. It helps define who we are. But culture is also dangerous, and as Christians we must beware [Read More]
  • God will give you more than you can handle
    Irene was a good woman, but she fell on some hard times. Her husband got sick and couldn’t work. Then she got demoted at work, making finances all the more difficult. And Irene wasn’t in the best health herself, but her problems often took back seat to her husband’s. On top of everything going on, her mom died suddenly leaving her with all the unexpected funeral costs and preparations. One Sunday [Read More]
  • Judges 4: Does this offend you?
    You may remember, I am preaching through the book of Judges. If you would like to hear one of the messages in this series, come out to Blue Ridge or you can go to Blueridgecuchurch.com and click on our sermons link. We keep the latest messages on our website. As we progress through this book, the overwhelming response I get from my congregation goes something like this: “Pastor, Judges is a [Read More]
  • God uses our weaknesses as strengths
    Have you ever read the story of Ehud (Judges 3)? If not, I suggest you do. It’s an interesting account, to say the least. As you know, I have been preaching through the book of Judges, and last Sunday we covered the account of this very unlikely Savior. That’s what judges were—saviors. Don’t be confused by the name. They were in no way like today’s judges—men and women who sit on a bench [Read More]
  • One lost generation affects the nation
    Last week I told you I was beginning a series in the book of Judges at my church. Already this book is packing a biblical punch. It is amazing how relevant and applicable this book has proven itself to be. The parallels between ancient Israel and our day are fascinating and striking, but they’re also disturbing. One parallel in particular has not left my mind. “The people served the Lord all the [Read More]
  • Our Hearts Revealed
    This week I am going to begin preaching through the book of Judges. I am excited about this series. It has been a while since I have exposited a historical narrative such as this book. Doing so gives me the opportunity to highlight some really interesting stories that make direct application to our lives today. One thing, in particular, that I am looking forward to is teaching about the [Read More]
  • Understanding Hardships as Grace
    Have you ever considered that your present hardships are actually conduits for God’s grace? I am guessing not. Unfortunately, many Christians have fallen hook, line and sinker for the bait of the health and wealth gospel. For many, a sign of God’s blessings is money, personal health, happiness and prosperity. But this is completely contrary to New Testament Christianity. Peter, when writing to [Read More]
  • Gospel Influence Matthew 5:13-16
    When I first came became a Christian, God graciously put two very important people in my life, Ed and Erik. Both of them were godly men who influenced me greatly. Erik was and still is a pastor, and Ed was a tremendous mentor. I’ll never forget the first time Erik took me to a men’s Bible study. I had never been around Christians or studied Scripture. I was amazed by their conduct. They were [Read More]
  • Justice for our sons and daughters: The moral outrage against Planned Parenthood
    If you don’t know, you need to know. And if you do know, you cannot, not know. In recent weeks, Planned Parent has been in the headlines since a group known as the Center for Medical Progress began releasing videos proving that Planned Parenthood is directly involved and responsible for the sale and transfer of fetal tissue. In short, it has been revealed that Planned Parenthood, a company [Read More]
  • The Standard of Love
    The night before Jesus died, He set aside time with His disciples to instruct them in regard to His impending departure. After Judas left the group to betray Jesus (13:30), our Lord began teaching His disciples directly. This is the beginning of what is known as the Farewell Discourse. In this section, Jesus gives what is arguably the most important and memorable exhortation of the whole sermon: [Read More]
  • Are Christians on the wrong side of history?
    History has always judged the affairs of men. We consider the monstrosities of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Genghis Khan only with disgust and sadness. Men such as these, and the events they represent, may have fooled their contemporaries, but history sees them with a clear eye. They were monsters, and whoever supported their causes finds themselves on the wrong side of history. Many believe [Read More]
  • God is supreme, not the court
    By now it is no longer news. Last week the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it is legal for all U.S. citizens, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry whom they choose. In essence, it is the complete legalization and normalization of same sex marriage. It is not surprising that our nation has strayed down such a sinful path. We’ve been going this way for quite some time. What is [Read More]
  • An Interview with an Evangelist
    Many Christians struggle sharing their faith. It can be an intimidating and confusing task. Therefore, to shine some light on this subject, I sat with down Bob, a member of my church, to discuss his experiences and what he has learned over the years sharing the gospel. Me: “What is an evangelist?” Bob: “An evangelist is one who is a devoted servant of God, who has the desire to share the gospel [Read More]
  • Do not Love the World
    By confession, it is easy to say, “Do not love the world.” But, putting this truth into practice is a totally different story. The world is tempting. Outwardly, it has a lot to offer—money, success, fame, opportunity—and these things, when they are actually set before you, and within your grasp, are extremely enticing. Who doesn’t want large sums of money? Who wouldn’t want lucrative [Read More]
  • How Christians Use Old Testament Law
    Last week, I wrote in regard to how we should think about the Old Testament Law—a question that has puzzled many for centuries. As New Testament Christians, should we keep all of it, some of it, or none of it? How are we supposed to know? We concluded that, first of all, historically Christians have looked at the Law in three distinct categories—ceremonial, civil and moral. The first two [Read More]
  • How Should Christians think about Old Testament Law?
    A question that has puzzled many Christians and non-Christians for centuries is this: how we are to deal with the OT Law of Moses? As Christians, are we to keep all of it, some of it, or none of it? Are we simply to learn from it? How are we supposed to know? Traditionally, Christians have looked at the OT Law in three categories. First, there are ceremonial laws. These included the sacrifices, [Read More]
  • A Mighty Fortress is Our God
    The other night I came home exhausted after a full day of ministry. I was immersed in personal study, administrative work, meetings, and teaching. And that was the easy part. Once the work day was over I spent another three hours counseling various individuals about a whole host of issues that were plaguing their lives. Needless to say, when I got home just before 9pm, I was spent. But I wasn’t [Read More]
  • The Compassion of God
      “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” (John 11:33). Recently, I watched a movie with my wife; one I had already seen, but she had not. As we watched the film together I knew what was going to happen—every scary scene, each moment of joy and pain—I’d seen it all before. But for my wife it was all [Read More]
  • Darkness Covered the Land
    “When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour” (Mark 15:33). The night before Jesus died He was with His disciples preparing them for His departure (Mk. 14:12-31). Though Jesus was the one facing imminent death, He brought comfort to His followers. Together, they ate the Passover Meal, discussed the New Covenant, and shared several words of promise and [Read More]
  • The Solution to Secret Sins: A New Heart
    In the past two articles we have been discussing the nature of sin. More specifically, we have been zeroing in on our common struggle with secret sin—both volitional (sins we physically commit) and sins of the heart such as lust, anger and pride. Both corrupt our lives and both destroy our relationship with God (Genesis 3, Romans 6:23). Therefore, if we are to overcome these transgressions we [Read More]
  • Secret Sins: Part 2
    One day I went to an old cemetery. Some headstones were so dated they were unrecognizable. I was fascinated by this graveyard. There was so much history, but what interested me most were the unmarked graves. The people buried were either too poor to have headstones or over the years they simply wore away. If I had not been informed, I would have walked right over their place of rest without [Read More]
  • Secret Sins
    There is no question that sin destroys. It breaks our fellowship with God, damages our relationships with others, and, ultimately, sin brings death (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23, 6:23). I don’t think anyone would argue with these truths. But I am not so sure that everyone would say the same thing about our secret sins. For instance, nearly everyone would agree that prostitution is devastating, but [Read More]
  • Silent before His Accusers
    “Like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) One of the most amazing things about Jesus was His ability to teach. He was a master orator. When He finished His famous Sermon on the Mount, “the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). Jesus’ teaching was [Read More]
  • The Facts about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Bill
    On Thursday morning Governor Mike Pence signed into Legislation Senate Bill 101—Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Act.” This bill has been the source of much controversy, and its opponents have expressed concerns from all different directions. Just this week, thousands of letters literally rolled into the Statehouse demanding that Governor Pence veto SB 101. Shortly thereafter, a petition was created [Read More]
  • Christ Is All We Need!
    “You have been filled in Him” (Colossians 2:10) The Colossian church was young when Paul wrote this letter. It had been established by a young minister named Epaphras who was probably one of Paul’s protégés (1:7-8). Not long after its inauguration, however, Epaphras became concerned when false teaching infiltrated the church (4:12). In response, Epaphras brought his concerns to Paul which [Read More]
  • Peace with God
    “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). One of the most infamous photographs from WWII was taken of Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of England, and Adolph Hitler. The two had just negotiated a treaty. Chamberlain said, “We have achieved peace in our time.” Right then, however, Hitler was planning an all-out [Read More]
  • Do not be ashamed!
    “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” These words were penned by the Apostle Paul in his only known letter to the church in Rome. Though short, this powerful statement not only summarizes the central theme in the book of Romans but, perhaps, Paul’s entire ministry. However, unless we grasp the historical context in which Paul wrote [Read More]
  • Saved from what?
    You have heard people say it. You’ve probably said it yourself. To what am I referring? I am talking about the old Christian adage, “I’m saved!” The phrase is biblical, and it describes a major aspect of our faith. But have you ever wondered; saved from what? The language permeates the New Testament.  Jesus said that He came specifically to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Paul said, “It [Read More]
  • My Prayer for ISIS
    By now it is no longer news. ISIS has claimed twenty-one more lives in addition to the countless men, women and children they’ve already murdered. This time the men executed were Egyptian-Christians. In the video released displaying the execution a caption came across at the bottom of the screen that read, “The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.” I am no expert on the [Read More]
  • Understanding Hardship as God’s Loving Discipline
    I’ll never forget, when I was a young boy my mother gave me strict boundaries as to where I could ride my bicycle in our neighborhood. These boundaries were fair, but they did not include the park that was located just outside our little community. So, I did what any good little boy would do. I went to the park. When I came home my mother asked me where I had been, and to this day I don’t know [Read More]
  • The Most Known, Yet Misunderstood, Parable
    Even if you have never read the Bible I would guess that you have at least heard about the Parable of the Good Samaritan (read Luke 10:30-37). It is one of Jesus’ most famous and beloved stories. In it He tells about a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when all of a sudden he is beaten and left for dead. Meanwhile, two very religious men pass by and don’t pay any attention to the [Read More]
  • Let’s Get Into The Word!
    I was told that a group of ladies read my article every week before they begin their Bible study. So, girls, if you are reading, I would like to personally sit down and study with you this week. Please open your Bibles and read Psalm 19. This week’s column is especially dedicated to you! Psalm 19 is one of my favorite psalms. It is masterful in its structure and eloquent in its content. This song [Read More]
  • How to Recognize a False Teacher
    The New Testament repeatedly warns Christians to beware of false teachers (Gal. 5:7-12; 2 Tim. 4:3). The lies they speak are detrimental not only to themselves (Gal.1:6-9; Jas.3:1) but also to those they influence (Mt.23:15). Christian leaders and preachers, therefore, are commanded by the Lord to confront such teachers with the truth (Titus 1:9-11), and teach God’s people how to spot them [Read More]
  • Only One Way?
    Several years ago I was listening to a conversation between a young woman and an older man. They were talking about religion. I don’t recall what was said exactly, but I do remember the young lady said this—“There couldn’t possibly be only one way to God. If that were the case, God would not be fair.” That’s the general outcry against Christianity’s teaching about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. [Read More]
  • What is the Gospel?
    “We live in a culture that is full of mixed messages…sadly, within the church there seems to be mixed messages too.” This quote comes from Blue Ridge’s new Associate Pastor, Theron St. John, and he is right on the money with that statement. We do live in a world full of mixed messages. That’s no surprise. We are used to that. But when we come to church we expect to hear the one message that isn’t [Read More]
  • What Should Your Pastor Be Preaching?
    Last week I asked the question: What should your pastor be doing? Consequently, I argued, from Scripture, that pastors should give the majority of their time to the ministry of the word and prayer (Acts 6:2-4). Indeed, pastors have a multitude of responsibilities, and most of them are very important, but the bulk of our vocation should be devoted to God and to His people through study, preaching, [Read More]
  • What should your pastor be doing?
    What should Christians expect from their pastors? And what should pastors be giving the bulk of their time to? As I write this article I realize I have picked a topic that cannot be fully satisfied in one column; however, this is a conversation that many Christians, and pastors, need to think very seriously about. And if we are to think seriously, we must think biblically. I would guess that most [Read More]
  • Do you know the Lord? Part 3: Thoughts of God
    I believe A.W. Tozer was right when he said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I realize that is a hard concept to grasp at first glance. How could one thought define your entire life? But think about it—God is the creator of the Heavens and the Earth (Gen 1:1). He created you in His image (Gen 1:26). He holds the keys to eternal life in His [Read More]
  • Do you know the Lord? Part 2: Evidences of Faith
    Last week, based on J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, I made the strong assertion that there is a difference between people who know about God and people who actually know God. In the article I emphasized the importance of going beyond knowing facts about the Lord to being in a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Just to be clear, this relationship is something every true believer [Read More]
  • Do you know the Lord?
    I haven’t always been a pastor. For that matter, I haven’t always been a Christian. For many years, before I entered the ministry, I worked for my father. He has owned a mobile electronics business for more than three decades. I’ll admit, when I first started working for him I was very limited—all I could do was sell the products—and I was not very good at that. I was a novice to the industry, [Read More]
  • “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”
    Last week I performed funerals for two women. One was an 89 year old lady named Betty. The other woman was her daughter. Her name was Kim. Betty walked into the hospital with minor symptoms and within hours she died unexpectedly. The very next night, after spending the day with her family, Kim went home and she too died unexpectedly. Their funerals were held two days apart. Needless to say, their [Read More]
  • “Love Thy Neighbor” But what does that mean?
    “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:31). Whether or not you grew up in church, I am sure this quote is familiar to you. One day Jesus was asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (V.28). He replied, “Love the Lord your God” and “the second is this: Love you neighbor as yourself.” Jesus also added, “There is no commandment greater than these.” What a world it would be if [Read More]
  • “The Evolution of Tolerance”
    Are you familiar with the old saying, “We will have to agree to disagree”? I am sure you are. It is a commendable saying and practice. Two people used to be able to enter into conversation on any topic, express two completely different opinions, and still have enough respect to tolerate one another’s ideas. More than that, these two people would defend each other’s right to have their opinions, [Read More]
  • “Can you ever forgive me?”
    The year was 1970. The place was San Diego, California. It was summertime, and twenty year old Diane Bristol was going door to door selling encyclopedias to make some extra money. Unfortunately, she would not receive her next paycheck. Diane was murdered that day by a man named Michael Keyes. Like a predator, Keyes stalked, strangled, and killed Diane Bristol. He then proceeded to discard her [Read More]
  • “Ebola, Terror, and Longing for Something Better”
    As I grow older I am beginning to realize it’s the simple things in life that bring me much joy. For instance, this may sound silly, but I like to hide out in our house and find ways to scare my wife. Nothing crazy, just a simple “boo” does the job. She hates it. I love it. She tells me to stop doing it, but deep down I think she likes the brief moment of scare and excitement. All kidding aside, [Read More]
  • “Oh Death, Where is Your Victory?”
    Fall is here, which means leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and daylight is fading. Fall also means football season is in high gear, and students are in the full grind of the semester. But most importantly, fall means…our favorite shows are back on! I love Shark Tank. In case you don’t know, Shark Tank is not about real sharks. The show is comprised of five multi-millionaire [Read More]
  • Man’s Opinion or God’s Word?
    Recently a friend asked if I could meet to talk. He was having some relationship issues and needed advice. So we met for coffee and talked. Thankfully, I could relate to what he was going through. I have been in his exact situation. So naturally, I gave him my opinion as to what he should do, and I was quite confident my advice would be helpful. After our conversation, however, my friend looked [Read More]